In its efforts to reduce energy consumption, Frito-Lay North America is adding more than 1,200 Sprinter delivery vans to its nationwide fleet. With this deployment, the company hopes to improve fuel mileage, cut energy costs, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
The national rollout makes up 10 percent of total vehicles currently in use for product distribution to stores. Averaging 17 miles per gallon, an improvement over the 10-12 mpg of older trucks, the Sprinters use a more efficient 3.0L diesel engine. Frito-Lay estimates a 20-percent reduction of CO2 emissions per vehicle.
The Sprinter rollout is expected to be completed in April, with major deployments in California, 165 vehicles, New York/Northeast, 200, and Texas, 116.
"The rollout is still too new to have solid data, but so far, the information we have gathered is in line with our expectation in fuel efficiency and safety," said Mike O'Connell, director, national fleet capability, Frito-Lay North America. "The introduction of Sprinter vans is part of a broader sustainability effort at Frito-Lay and our parent PepsiCo."
PepsiCo's corporate goal aims to reduce water use by 20 percent, energy by 20 percent, and fuel by 25 percent by 2015. Hybrids were added to the PepsiCo fleet in 2005 to improve operating costs. By 2007, the company operated more than 650 hybrids that included cars and trucks. The company expects to have more than 1,500 hybrids in its estimated 20,000-plus fleet in the next few years.
Frito-Lay has implemented other programs to improve fleet performance in the past five years, including aerodynamic improvements of the existing fleet vehicles, driver training, efficient routing, use of lightweight materials, and advanced technology.
The company's conservation initiatives are a part of goals set with the Environmental Protection Agency's SmartWay program. Frito-Lay has been a member of since 2005. The SmartWay program promotes the environmental benefits of renewable fuels to reduce U.S. dependency on foreign oil and help improve the environment.
"They have been a valuable partner. They have helped us shape our fleet strategy and introduced us to other key partners who can help us achieve our sustainability goals," said O'Connell.
Frito-Lay's future plans for a more environmentally friendly fleet are in the works. "Our fleet team continues to investigate and identify the best options for our fleet," said O'Connell. "In addition, we are exploring other technologies such as full electric, natural gas, and hydrogen." These new technologies may move the fleet away from traditional gasoline altogether, he added.