Alternative fuel options may have, at one point or another, seemed out of reach for the average fleet or owner/operator. But more options have been made available, more studies completed, and more cities and states have incentivized the adoption of alternative fuels. As a result, they’ve begun to gain popularity among fleets of all sizes. It also helps that the results speak for themselves.
Here’s a quick run-down of alternative fuel options.
Vehicles operating on electricity are not new concepts. From hybrids to electric-only, we’re all familiar with passenger vehicle options. Electric trucks are gaining in popularity for two reasons — clear cost-savings and plenty of incentives from the state of California.
When Bolthouse Farms decided to replenish their aging fleet, they replaced old vehicles with five electric yard trucks and one diesel equivalent. When they compared the two types of trucks, the difference was astonishing. Electric trucks saw 75 percent less downtime for maintenance and 80 percent lower repair costs. In fuel costs, the diesel yard truck cost $15,750 per year, while the electric version cost only $1,575 — a 90 percent difference.
By 2024, California truck manufacturers will be required to sell a certain percentage of electric vehicles. Fleets won’t be required to buy them, but as of April 2021, fleets will be required to report vehicle and spec operations for their California facilities. The goal is to incentivize and make it easier for fleets to turn to electric trucks as a way to cut costs and reduce emissions.
When you think of “fuel” you likely think of diesel or gasoline. Multiple alternative options are available around the country and have been tested by different large fleets. Most of these alternatives are comparable in cost and in fuel economy. All drastically reduce emissions. For fleets that operate in states that require lowered emissions, these options may be an easier transition rather than going all electric right away.
Renewable Diesel and Biodiesel
Renewable diesel is a conventional petroleum diesel substitute produced from renewable resources. Biodiesel is an oxygenated alternative fuel made from vegetable oils, animal fats, and/or waste cooking oil. Notably, UPS and the United States Postal Service (USPS) have used renewable diesel and biodiesel with good success.
The alternative fuel known as Fischer-Tropsch diesel is a gas-to-liquid fuel. It is created when a gaseous fuel converts to liquid. It’s then refined to produce diesel and gasoline. This fuel reduces emissions and works with advanced emission control devices. Yosemite Waters delivery trucks have used this alternative fuel with success.
Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)
LNG is a non-toxic, non-corrosive alternative fuel that reduces emissions and has a similar fuel economy when compared to standard fuels. It has been tested and used in multiple fleets including Norcal Waste Systems, Dallas Area Rapid Transit, and Waste Management.
Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)
CNG is a clear, odorless, non-corrosive alternative fuel. Like LNG, it reduces emissions and has a similar fuel economy with standard fuels. UPS also evaluated its use in part of their fleet, as well.
Renewable Natural Gas (RNG)
RNG is a biogas made by capturing and extracting methane emissions from landfills, wastewater treatment plants, and large animal agricultural operations. It is currently available in New York City to help clean up the air in the city, but particularly the Bronx by reducing emissions. NYC, like California, has also offered incentives to fleets to make replacing vehicles easier and more affordable.
Moving to an alternative fuel is easier and more affordable than it’s ever been. As laws and regulations continue to be passed to help reduce emissions, fleets need to get ready now. The main goal may be to help slow down or halt climate change and improve the environment, but from a business perspective, alternative fuels can save money and time.
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