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Major Corporate Fleets Align to Reduce Oil Consumption

April 1, 2011 - 1:07pm


President Obama announces the National Clean Fleets Partnership to help companies reduce fuel usage by incorporating electric vehicles, alternative fuels, and conservation techniques.

Surrounded by cutting-edge vehicles, from all-electric trucks to hydraulic hybrids, President Obama today announced the National Clean Fleets Partnership, an initiative of the Department’s Clean Cities program, at a UPS fleet facility in Landover, Maryland. This public-private partnership will draw on the expertise of the Department of Energy to help large companies reduce diesel and gasoline use in their fleets by incorporating electric vehicles, alternative fuels, and fuel-saving measures into their operations.

Charter members of this partnership include AT&T, FedEx, Pepsi-Co, UPS, and Verizon. These companies represent five of the nation’s 10 largest fleets and collectively operate over 275,000 vehicles. They are committing to deploy more than 20,000 advanced technology vehicles that are expected to save more than 7 million gallons of fuel per year. It was exciting for Clean Cities coalitions and stakeholders to see the Obama Administration’s support for our work and the efforts of participating companies.

The Partnership is focused on major fleets because these work vehicles can use much more petroleum than the typical driver. While an average American drives about 12,000 miles a year, a fleet vehicle, like a delivery truck, may travel more than twice as far. When the petroleum and emissions reduction potential for that single truck is multiplied across a fleet of thousands, it adds up to a tremendous social, economic and environmental benefit. Helping fleets reduce their petroleum use through options such as electric drive vehicles, biofuels, natural gas, propane, idle reduction and fuel economy improves America’s energy security while reducing carbon pollution and other harmful emissions.

The Charter Partner companies have already made some very real commitments to decrease their use of petroleum. AT&T has announced that they will replace more than 15,000 vehicles over the next 10 years with 7,000 hybrid vehicles and 8,000 compressed natural gas vehicles. Both AT&T and Pepsi-Co (Frito Lay) are testing the Smith Newton electric vehicles (EV), which they are using as delivery trucks. In fact, a Clean Cities American Recovery and Reinvestment Act project in Ohio features 35 Frito-Lay Newton EVs. Similarly, UPS is participating in the Maryland Hybrid Truck Initiative Clean Cities Recovery Act project, with 20 hydraulic hybrid trucks. These are similar to electric hybrids in that they store and release energy from braking, significantly improving a vehicle’s fuel economy. However, hydraulic hybrids store energy using pressurized fluid rather than batteries. Focusing on biofuels, Verizon is debuting more than 1,100 alternative fuel vehicles across the country this year, including those that use biodiesel and ethanol.

Clean Cities’ combination of national and local expertise makes it a perfect fit for helping these companies achieve their goals. Switching an entire fleet to a new technology or fuel can be challenging. Fleet managers must decide what solutions are most appropriate for their fleet, where to get a new fuel, and if mechanics and drivers require additional training. But Clean Fleets Partners can call on Clean Cities experts from the Department of Energy’s headquarters and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory for assistance. These experts will help companies develop petroleum-reduction plans and carry them out in efficient, cost-effective ways. They can also walk fleet managers through Clean Cities’ suite of electronic tools, including the Alternative Fueling Station Locator and GREET Fleet Greenhouse Gas Calculator.

Clean Cities also has an on-the-ground team of nearly 100 coalitions working to reduce reliance on petroleum in their communities. Both Clean Fleets Partners and small businesses alike can draw on their local coalitions’ experience and resources. The Partnership, combined with other activities, will contribute to Clean Cities’ goal of reducing 2.5 billion gallons of petroleum annually by 2020.

The National Clean Fleets Partnership offers a great opportunity for corporations and the Department to together tackle our energy challenges. On Wednesday, President Obama said to Georgetown University students that the only way to be truly energy secure is to reduce our country’s dependence on oil, pledging to reduce oil imports to the US one third by 2025. With his announcement today, the President highlighted one great way that we are moving forward to accomplish that goal.