National Clean Fleets Partnership Saves 7 Million Gallons Fuel

Hybrid and Electric Trucks and Vans

The United States is the world’s most dependent nation on oil. Soaring prices hurt our ability to recover from the recession. Mideast conflicts demonstrate our lack of energy security.  The recent BP gulf spill is estimated to have caused over $40 billion in damage. Strip mining Canada for tar sands causes environmental damage, as does the energy-intensive conversion of tar sands into oil.

President Obama announced a goal of cutting U.S. oil import by one-third by 2025. Controversial to the plan is more offshore oil drilling.  Welcome are the initiatives of the National Clean Fleets Partnership. This public-private partnership will help large companies reduce diesel and gasoline use in their fleets by incorporating electric vehicles, alternative fuels, and fuel-saving measures into their daily operations. The partnership is part of the DOE Vehicle Technology Program’s “Clean Cities” initiative.

AT&T, FedEx, PepsiCo, UPS and Verizon – Partnership Charter Members – announced plans to save 7 million gallons of diesel and gasoline fuel by deploying 20,000 advanced technology vehicles including hybrid and electric trucks. These charter members represent five of the nation’s 10 largest national fleets and collectively own and operate more than 275,000 vehicles.

Large commercial fleets are heavily dependent on petroleum-based fuels (gasoline and diesel) to deliver their goods and services every day.  In 2009, there were more than 3 million large commercial fleet vehicles on the road, consuming nearly 4 billion gallons of fuel. Fleets, which are typically centrally managed and comprised of a large number of vehicles, offer significant opportunities to reduce fuel use and carbon pollution.

FedEx Electric and Hybrid Fleet

FedEx has 19 all-electric vans and trucks and 330-hybrid diesel and hybrid gasoline vans and trucks. Those 348 have driven over 7.7 million miles to reducing fuel use by almost 300,000 gallons and carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 3,000 metric tons. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the DOE, and CALSTART have recognized the FedEx hybrid vehicle project for its role in spurring hybrid truck advancements.

FedEx fleet includes Navistar and Modec electric delivery vans. E700 Eaton hybrids are heavily used in New York. Fiat’s Iveco diesel hybrid delivery vans are used in Milan and other cities. Azure gasoline parallel hybrids (Ford E450 chassis and Utilimaster body) make deliveries in California cities such as LA and Sacramento. Azure is now building thousands of Ford Transit Connect Electric Vans.

Also being hybridized are the traditional FedEx 16,000 pound vans with a cargo capacity of approximately 670 cubic feet. Eaton’s hybrid electric system has been placed in the standard white FedEx Express W700 delivery truck, which utilizes a Freightliner chassis and an Utilimaster body, and designated E700. FedEx Ground is working with Parker Hannifin Corporation to test a hybrid hydraulic technology with on a heavier class vehicle (Class 6). FedEx Fleet Details

FedEx is thinking outside the truck. Couriers in New York City and in London’s West End deliver many of their packages on foot, reducing vehicle emissions and traffic congestion. In Paris, electric tricycle delivery drivers zip packages to awaiting customers.

UPS Hybrid Fleet

UPS has over 50 hybrid diesel delivery trucks. Delivery trucks make lots of stops and capture lots of braking energy. The trucks have 60 percent to 70 percent higher fuel efficiency and emit 40 percent less carbon dioxide than normal UPS delivery trucks. UPS invests an added $7,000 per truck for these fuel-efficient hybrids, and saves over $7,000 in fuel in less than three years.

UPS also demonstrated its hydraulic hybrid delivery vehicle at the South Coast Air Quality Management District in Diamond Bar, California. The unique UPS delivery vehicle uses hydraulic pumps and hydraulic storage tanks to store energy, similar to what is done with electric motors and batteries in hybrid electric vehicles. Fuel economy is increased in three ways: vehicle-braking energy is recovered that normally is wasted; the engine is operated more efficiently; and the engine can be shut off when stopped or decelerating. The vehicle was designed with the support of the UPS, Eaton Corporation – Fluid Power, International Truck and Engine Corporation, U.S. Army – National Automotive Center, and Morgan-Olson. UPS has experimented with two hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, a Sprinter fuel cell van in Ontario, California and one in Ann Arbor, Michigan. UPS Fleet Details

UPS is going green to make more green – money. Fuel costs UPS over 2 billion dollars every year. Their approach to saving fuel is not based on one big technology breakthrough. Rather, it is based upon hundreds of smart decisions. For example, USP designed delivery routes to minimize left turns because turning across traffic is not only more dangerous, it requires longer idling time, wastes fuel and creates more congestion. The right-turn only approach saved UPS 3,000,000 gallons of fuel.

National Clean Fleets Partnership and the U.S. DOE

Through the National Clean Fleets Partnership, the Department of Energy will help companies:

  • Reduce fuel use through the use of more efficient vehicles and technologies, including hybrids
  • Replace gasoline and diesel vehicles with alternative fuels, such as electricity, natural gas, biodiesel, ethanol, hydrogen, or propane

Partners will benefit from:

  • Opportunities for technical assistance and collaboration, including: opportunities for peer-to-peer information exchange; collaboration with DOE and national laboratories surrounding research and development initiatives; and assistance in pursuing group purchasing—so that smaller companies work with their larger peers to get the benefits of purchasing advanced vehicles in bulk.
  • DOE technical tools and resources: DOE has developed a wide range of technical tools to help partner companies navigate the world of alternative fuels and advanced vehicles. A diverse collection of cost calculators, interactive maps, customizable database searches, and mobile applications puts vital information and analysis at fleets’ fingertips.

This Department of Energy initiative will compliment the Environmental Protection Agency’s Smart way Transport partnership program with the freight industry by furthering efforts to improve efficiency in goods movement and reducing our dependency on foreign oil.

Fossil Fuel and Life

by Richard T. Stuebi

In the past month, we’ve witnessed two major catastrophes associated with U.S. production of fossil fuels — the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion killing 11 workers in the Gulf of Mexico, and the Massey Upper Big Branch coal mine explosion claiming 29 lives in West Virginia.

It’s easy to vilify energy companies like BP (NYSE: BP) and Massey (NYSE: MEE) for being reckless at these operations. No doubt, there will be lots of investigation in the months to come, and tighter regulations and legal action in the years to come. Scrutiny is definitely deserved, new requirements may be forthcoming, and severe punishments may well be in the offing.

Rather than focus on the obvious human cost of these tragedies, and the truly frightening ecological disaster currently unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico, I choose to comment herein on the profound implications of our long-followed energy policy, which I term as “cheap energy at any price”.

For the most part, our problems do not lie with fossil fuel producers. Certainly, they must be held to meet safety and environmental standards — and in these two cases, these standards do not appear to have been met. But that does not mean that all oil and coal companies are led by evil people, and that their employees are complicit conspirators in misdeeds against humanity and the planet.

No, it’s far too easy to take that oversimplistic but misguided position.

Pretty much every reader of this post will willingly use fossil fuels today — in the coal burned to generate the electricity to power your computer, in the petroleum burned to move you to your place of work.

Let’s not forget that fossil fuels have been an instrumental factor in the huge leaps in quality of life over the past 100 years. It is this utter reliance by all of us on these fossil fuels that compels companies and people to supply these fuels. And, of course, to try to make a profit in doing so. After all, that is the American way.

These two disasters are the exception, not the rule. More fundamentally, the problem is not on the supply side, but on the demand side.

Fossil fuel companies are not the bad guys — they supply a product that will remain vital for years to come.

We have met the enemy, and it is us.

It is time for us to dedicate ourselves to putting virtually all of our incremental attention, money and efforts towards an energy system not nearly so dependent upon fossil fuels. And, we need to accept imposing such a discipline upon ourselves — for instance, by being willing to establish stronger price signals in the energy markets to drive our society in that direction.

In other words, we must stop the “cheap energy at all costs” mentality that has pervaded our thinking for decades.

As Albert Einstein once noted, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” In the case of energy, if we keep putting all of our eggs in the fossil fuel basket, all we can expect are more human and ecological tragedies.

Only a few of these tragedies will be very visible and instantaneous as in these two explosions. The worse tragedies are long-term and hidden: climate change, depletion of finite and irreplaceable resources, continued reliance on supplies from objectionable sources, and increasing geopolitical conflict leading to resource wars.

Think about the deceased of the Deepwater Horizon and Upper Big Branch, working on an offshore oil rig or underground in a coal mine. Are these the jobs we want to see for the 22nd Century? Did these people want their children to be earning a wage in the same way they were?

The best way to honor the dead would be by taking these recent tragedies to increase our resolve to move us from the fossil fuel past to a new and better future that need not rely so desperately on fossil fuels.

It won’t be easy, quick or cheap to create a new energy system, but we need to start working much harder to sever the link between fossil fuels and human life. Because escalating reliance on fossil fuels can only be harmful to our long-term social and planetary health.

Richard T. Stuebi is a founding principal of NorTech Energy Enterprise, the advanced energy initiative at NorTech, where he is on loan from The Cleveland Foundation as its Fellow of Energy and Environmental Advancement. He is also a Managing Director in charge of cleantech investment activities at Early Stage Partners, a Cleveland-based venture capital firm.

Where Country Music and CleanTech Collide

by Richard T. Stuebi

Great blog post last week by David Roberts in the Huffington Post profiling a new country tune entitled “Drill Here, Drill Now”, written by a Nashville artist named Aaron Tippin.

For those who want to skip the music, here are the lyrics:

Hello … Is anybody out there listenin’ in Washington D.C.
This is the suffering voice of America crying out for relief
Now I don’t know what a gallon of gas costs up on Capitol Hill
But we sure know what it costs down here in Realityville
And the damage already done has been a mighty heavy toll
And if we’re gonna fix it we gotta start right here at home

Drill here, drill now
How ’bout some oil from our own soil that belongs to us anyhow
No more debatin’ we’re tired of waitin’ everybody shout out loud
Drill here, drill now

Every time a foreign tanker pulls up to our shore
They got us over a barrel while they bleed us a little more
And think how much it costs just to bring it all that way
And how many American jobs that’d make if we were drillin’ in the USA
Oh and God forbid if our oily friends should decide to cut us off
We’d be standin’ around with our britches down now listen to me ya’ll


Well the winds of change are blowin’
Yes and we recognize that need
But tractors, trucks, cars and planes can’t run on tomorrow’s dreams
So while we’re workin’ on the future we can’t ignore today
Cuz who knows how much time the alternative might take
Somethin’s gotta be done right now cuz friends it won’t be long
Before this great big country comes grinding to a halt


I’m not anyone to critique music, or poetry for that matter. But in a recent post, I have previously dismembered the absurd notions offered by Mr. Tippin in his song that drilling for more oil in the U.S. is going to solve all our economic problems.

Rather than thoughtful humility and purposeful action towards real solutions for our energy challenges, the U.S. gets instead yet another example of beat-my-chest patriotism, overly proud and completely without substance.

Richard T. Stuebi is the BP Fellow for Energy and Environmental Advancement at The Cleveland Foundation, and is also the Founder and President of NextWave Energy, Inc.