Auto Focus

Greening Your Fleet without Alt Fuels

These initiatives are often low-hanging fruit, and they won’t cost you much, if anything.

One of the goals of the Green Fleet Conference is to help fleets find practical ways to reduce carbon emissions. Implementing alternative-fuel and electric vehicles are part of that equation, but not the only part.

More than one fleet manager at the conference professed to keeping alt fuels on the sidelines for now with the threat that government subsidies will go away, though natural gas seems to be showing it can stand on its own. Yet most at the conference believe that the federal government tax credit for electric vehicle purchases was a dead man walking.

Here is a quick hit of strategies learned at the conference that fleets are implementing now. They don’t involve radical vehicle switches, but they do produce carbon emissions savings and help the bottom line.

Reduce idling by managing driver behavior.

Idling is a big deal, most obviously for truck fleets. A general rule of thumb for large trucks is an extra 10% in idle time equates to losing a percentage point in fuel economy savings. Battery-operated climate control systems work onboard, while truck stops offer electric hookups. Aftermarket products will warn the driver in the cabin for idling too much and then send a notification to headquarters.

But curtailing idling in light-duty vehicles can save fuel and carbon emissions as well, and it’s important to impart this message to drivers. “Reducing idling is a matter of education,” said Patricia Weikersheimer of Argonne National Laboratory. She relayed that if your car is stopped for more than 10 seconds, and you can safely shut the car off, you will save fuel.

Argonne has anti-idling resources that may help your fleet.

Move to smaller trucks and vans and refine your routing.

Benco Dental Supply — a large, privately-held dental supply company with a dispersed, high-mileage fleet — had range and infrastructure issues with alt-fuel vehicles. Instead, the company moved from larger cargo vans to new Ford Transit Connects and Nissan NV200s. The company had to rethink its cargo and routing. For larger items such as dentists’ chairs, Benco now ships from five warehouses to 70 satellite centers using a retail moving company.

At Aramark, its food and facilities fleet switched to smaller vans with the help of a thorough inventory analysis of each payload. Every piece of van inventory was laid out, recorded and weighed. The visual representation of parts on the ground made the process easier, said Tom Winnberg of Aramark. This led to better decision-making on which items could be restocked versus kept in the van when returning to base.

Aramark soothed driver apprehension with moving to a smaller van by engaging them at upfitter locations to better understand their issues and explain the importance of the initiative.

Have part-time drivers run less-traveled routes.

One fleet manager reorganized her drivers by making less-traveled routes strictly for part-time drivers. While the miles traveled stayed the same, it increased the number of part-time drivers.

Company policy dictates that part-time drivers cannot use fleet vehicles for personal use, which decreased wear and tear and fuel consumption on the company’s dime.

Use your Clean Cities coalition.

There are close to 100 Clean Cities coalitions in communities across the country, and their mission is to help fleets reduce petroleum use, through alt-fuel implementation but also through idle-reduction measures and general fuel economy improvements. Many Clean Cities coordinators also run fleets and  will provide a myriad of resources, much of it without cost. Their website is a clearinghouse of information.

In the Clean Cities seminar, Robin Erickson of Utah Clean Cities said with one phone call, “We could bring an army, or one.” Colleen Crowninshield of Tucson Clean Cities and Laura Palombi of Michigan said they will help fleet managers “tap into a network of fleets to hear their success stories.”

Downsize your cylinders with smart driver management.

Downsizing from six to four cylinders on passenger vehicles can improve fuel economy by 15% or more, though you may face driver pushback. I spoke with three fleet managers of large passenger fleets about how to mitigate drivers’ reactions. One option is to give them more model choices; one added the Subaru Forester and it was a hit with drivers.

You could offer more options. Another fleet manager moved to a four-cylinder engine on the Chevy Equinox, but gives an AWD option to those in bad weather climates. She also gives drivers OnStar or satellite radio for free for a year to drivers (which the manufacturer offers anyway).

Another option is to move over to diesel. The fleet manager of a large medical lab moved from a Chevy Captiva to a VW Jetta Sportwagen TDI and is averaging 43 mpg.

These fleet managers all said that it’s important to let your drivers test the new four-cylinder cars, especially with the new six and seven speeds and turbocharging. They won’t be disappointed.

Look for the fuel savings when you acquire new vehicles.

This initiative is dictated more by the needs of fleets, but it points to the focus of car and truck makers to improve fuel economy independent of alt-power or alt-fuel. While representatives from the truck OEMs at Green Fleet spoke to varying degrees about their alt-fuel initiatives, each mentioned improvements in aerodynamics, idle shutdown systems, speed limiters and weight reduction.

Waste heat recovery is a new buzz phrase, in which exhaust gas is converted into mechanical power to lower carbon emissions. Mack’s “Super-Econodyne” technology is designed to run the truck at 65 miles per hour but at lower RPMs.

On the light-duty side, General Motors is targeting a 15% reduction in CO2 by 2016 through technologies such as direct injection and cylinder deactivation.

Navigant Research predicts gasoline prices to average $4.95 a gallon by 2017 and $6.06 by 2020, making the need for fleets to conserve fuel more pressing moving forward.

For an overall picture of green trends in fleet culled from the Green Fleet Conference, click here.


  1. car shipping company [ October 28, 2013 @ 08:37AM ]

    only one comoany is best in all overthe world is

  2. Mark Cooper [ January 1, 2014 @ 11:20PM ]

    CAFE Group of Technology Products, I represent new technology but install of "Hype" I have my own demonstration vehicles, I have installed our Green Technology, Reduction in Emissions and Reduction in Friction. Clean Air Fuel Efficiency Group of Products, is what I have tested and now installed in my own 2005 Prius, 45 MPG is only good, I have accomplished 83 MPG and I welcome anyone to visit me in Phoenix, Arizona, to show you first hand how I am going to change the Automotive Industry. Everyone, my goal is 100 MPG Plus, without Plug In, heck with Plug In and my technology in a Prius, I can get between 150 to 200 MPG however who wants the $19,000 price tag for over 100 miles range and then switch over to my 80 MPG Hybrid. Why not save the Plug In conversion money, for less than $1000 per unit, I can increase a Prius, to 80 MPG. I have done my work now on over 60 vehicles, with never less than 25% and up to 70% increase in fuel efficiency. I also reduce Emissions by up to 85% over three years and we have the Technology which a one time application to an engine, will reduce, the engine oil changes by a factor of 3, what is 7500 mile intervals become 22,500 mile intervals. So, how do we do it, all I am authorized, as Chief Science Officer, to tell you, is we have CARB, EPA, tons of fleet accounts testimonials and protect by US and International Patents. We test and prove for free with the conditions, that when what I say is true, we expect an Order. I have not once, accomplish my claims but still, you a fleet manager are tired of the Sales Staff who do not have a clue about why it works, how it is implimented and how I personally become your own Chief Science Officer, after we get your account. Ok, so what does than mean, I am prepared, to come to any conference room to explain the "Highest Technology in Selective Catalyst Processing" and you can look up our US Patent, PCT/us2005/033584, Hydrocarbon Fuel Processing by Selective Catalyst, but in a nut shell, fuel is made up of Carbon and Hydrogen Atoms, the molecules are in large clusters, which decrease the combustion characteristics and cause less fuel to combust at TDC. Our Technology, will "Enhance Combustion Characteristics" so that instead of 60% average fuel burned in the current engines, we increase that by up to 85% currently. Ok, to build upon that, anyone knows that unburned fuel waste money but more important creates Toxins, which have to be eliminated before releasing through the tailpipe or stacks, whichever the case may be. We, have Recycling Technology, which in the years to come, will eventually combust 100% of the fuel which would in turn produce "No Toxin Emissions". Yes, I am claiming that over years of use of our Technology, which is a device attached to an ICE, that eventually, no Toxins, will exhaust through the exit path. Currently, our technology can reduce emissions up to 85% and in all cases, you will pass Emissions EPA standards. So, we never really push Fuel Usage but we like to say "Extend the Range" between refueling. It sounds like the same as MPG but it is more than that, to us, if we can reduce your intervals to refuel, creates more "Up Time", if we can extend the time intervals between Oil Changes, more "Up Time" and if we can make an asset, double in its useful, life, to say 1,000,000 instead of 250,000 miles, then you purchase four times less and use the fully depreciated asset longer, which increases your bottom line.

    So, let me tell you all, the current non processed Positive Crankcase Ventilation Valve, path for the "Blow By" out gases, currently is the largest contributor to contamination inside your asset's engine and if gone like it is now, will cause the 250,000 mile life, to possibly be 150,000 or 100,000 or even less. So, how do we extend all the parameters of internal combustion engines, how do we filter, recycle "Blow By" and re enter it to enhance the combustion process, how do we eliminate friction which eliminates heat, eliminates wasted "Kinetic Energy"? All very good questions but there is not enough space on this response to explain. I will just say this, we have been doing this, in very small exposure industries for years, we are continuing to get me in front of the most Knowledgable Fleet Managers, Controllers and CEO, who finally say, after my technology explainations, "If I had only know about this 10 years ago, we are in for Testing our Fleet, what is the next step?", then I personally, review your fleet's configuration, set a plan, then present how the base line will be accomplished, then installing the Test Devices, then testing, documenting through Math, OBDII monitors and actual real time results, which can not be disputed. I have yet, to meet, someone who will not listen to "FACTS", we save money, we extend fuel mileage, we reduce Emissions of COx, NOx and HC, we reduce the intervals for PMs and we increase Up Time beyond the Expectation Levels, properly set for what it is we do.

    This why, after increase MPG on a 2005 Tahoe with the 5.3 Liter Engine from 14 MPG to 23 MPG, then I moved on to the Prius, to got from initial 45 MPG to 83 MPG, I can not understand why every fleet, every vehicle and every person in the Global World, is not, converting to our Technology? Why Not, why is Science, so unbelievable, why does what you do not know about always have to be questioned but the Testing, with the Proof, first, is not enough. I change Managers, Accountants and CEO minds, everytime, they give me 1 Hour, to present, the Highest Technology which does all these actions, right now.

    So, in closing, I do have the Prius getting 83 MPG, I will not stop until I have exhausted all means to get over 100 MPG or more and I can increase any vehicle between 10 to 20 MPG, starting after the Base Line is established by me. I am the Chief Science Officer, I personally do the Testing, the Installs, the documentation and prove without a doubt, we can provide your fleet, with MPG, less Emissions and longer asset life span.

    Please reply and I live in Phoenix, Arizona, come experience the future in Super High MPG and Ultra SULEV, vehicles, today.

  3. Mark Gordon Cooper [ January 2, 2014 @ 12:11AM ]

    Sorry, Members, I hit some key stroke and the first comment, executed and left me watching the comment box, dissappear.

    The bottom line

    1 rental has vehicles getting 25 MPG

    1 rental has vehicles getting 80 MPG

    The first fuel costs is $70

    The second fuel costs is $22

    Then consider, 100 Field Service Engineers, traveling each week, four times a month and 48 weeks a year.

    Then the math is $70 x 100 x 48 = $336,000 in fuel which FSE company is expensed for.

    Then the 2nd company has the same amount of FSE

    but the fuel costs for XYZ Rental with vehicles of 80 MPG and a weekly fuel costs of

    $21 x 100 x 48 = $100,800 in fuel costs

    Where is the FSE company going to rent?

    The rental company which saved them $235,200 in expensed fuel cost per year.

    Which one of you can ever figure out, why, the rental companies can out compete the other by having vehicles which can accomplish the highest MPG, produce the least amount of Emissions and change the oil once ever year?

    The bottom line, everyone loses money when Technology is not Tested, Proven and then Implimented.

    The providing your customers with the best vehicle, with the best performance and at the smallest amount of fuel to be used, is the company which can compete better. You still get your maximum rates because you save your customers, almost a Quarter of a Million, in fuel costs per year.

    I only have this to say, call me, write me, I will bring my "Rocket Science" to you, prove what I say, on your vehicles and then you will tell your CEO, we just got the biggest marketing tool ever. We have 80 MPG vehicles, Toyota Prius and we Clean the Air Pollution at the same time, do you a favor, Going Green means more than just saying it, do it and you save, your customers saves, we help save our planet and your vehicles last four times as long or when you sell them, they sell instantly, who wants a used rental vehicle which gets 80 MPG? Everyone!

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Author Bio

Chris Brown

Executive Editor

Chris is the executive editor of Business Fleet Magazine and Auto Rental News. He covers all aspects of the fleet world.

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