FedEx aims to deliver on hybrid fleet promise

With oil topping $100 per barrel, FedEx is investing in hybrid, alt-fuel, and electric vehicles.

When something must absolutely, positively, arrive the next day, people increasingly turn to FedEx. Shipped are everything from million dollar loan documents to birthday presents. FedEx is also integral to the just-in-time supply chain that allows businesses to grow, even as they shrink inventory. FedEx generates over $35 billion annually.

FedEx uses 48,000 vehicles global to deliver our goods. Fed Ex probably utilizes another 30,000 vehicles at its airport operations. At the heart of FedEx operations is a hub-spoke private fleet of jets. Fed Ex has made Memphis, Tennessee, the busiest freight airport in the country.

I valued talking with FedEx Engineering Manager of Hybrid & Alt-Fuel Fleet, Sam Snyder, after he presented at the WestStart Clean Heavy-Duty Vehicle Conference. He discussed a number of areas of fuel savings. The volume and weight of an average package is now less. People are shipping more iPods; less big stereos. This allows FedEx to expand its deployment of Sprinter Vans, and reduce its need for the larger 16,000 pound (GVWR) vans. Sam Snyder stated that FedEx uses, "The right truck for the right route, saving millions of gallons of fuel."

With oil topping $100 per barrel, FedEx is also investing in hybrid, alt-fuel, and electric vehicles. FedEx hybrids have accumulated more than 1,000,000 miles in revenue service.100 diesel hybrids are in service globally, primarily in the U.S; 75 more hybrids will be added in 2008. The hybrids are an excellent investment with a 42% improvement in fuel economy. FedEx Hybrids.

FedEx is making a bigger investment in hybrids than its major competitor UPS. UPS Clean Fleet.

An indicator of the future is the 48 FedEx Sprinter hybrids in NY. In Milan, ten Iveco, a Fiat Group company, diesel hybrids will be used in a van similar in size to the Sprinter; a Bosch electric motor and Johnson Controls batteries are used. Green Car Congress. 20 Azure gasoline parallel hybrids on Ford E450 are in use in LA. WestStart is funding and managing this program.

Also being hybridized are he traditional FedEx 16,000 pound vans with a cargo capacity of approximately 670 cubic feet. Eaton's hybrid electric powertrain has been placed in the standard white FedEx Express W700 delivery truck, which utilizes a Freightliner chassis and an Utilimaster body.

FedEx would like to move towards more fuel-efficient 4-cylinder diesel hybrids, but it may not see an EPA approval or waiver until 2011. Until then, FedEx will forge ahead with the less fuel-efficient 6-cylinder diesels. EPA continues to certify based on engine emissions, rather than more efficient hybrid duty cycle.

Hybrids are just one way that FedEx is becoming less oil dependent. Currently, FedEx Freight is actively testing hydrogen fuel cell forklifts, hybrid electric Class 7 trucks, and alternative fuels.

FedEx Express and FedEx Freight are members of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's SmartWay Transport Partnership with fuel efficiency strategies such as:

•  Instituting policies and technologies to reduce or prevent vehicle idling

•  Locating FedEx facilities in order to eliminate idling from overnight trips

•  Installation of tractor/trailer/van aerodynamic packages

•  Use of advanced, low-friction synthetic oils and lubricants

•  Introducing automatic tire inflation devices to increase fuel economy

•  Introducing wide-based tires to increase fuel economy through reduced road friction

As one of the world's largest private air carriers, FedEx is a major user of oil-refined jet fuel and a major emitter of greenhouse gases. To improve its carbon footprint, FedEx Express is replacing the B727 model aircrafts in its fleet with the Boeing 757 model. It has 20% greater payload capacity, but it also uses 36 percent less fuel. FedEx Express also plans to acquire Boeing 777 model aircraft, with a greater payload capacity, and 18% reduction in fuel use.

FedEx also saves annually over 5.5 million gallons of aviation fuel by using in-gate aircraft auxiliary power units, eliminating more than one hour of fuel usage per flight throughout the fleet.

FedEx is also taking a leading role in using renewable energy at its facilities. At the FedEx hub in Oakland, California, 80% of the facility's electricity and is provided by a 904 kilowatt Sharp solar rooftop system that over its 25-year life cycle this plant will offset 10,800 tons of carbon dioxide - the equivalent of removing 2,100 cars from the road. Another 550kW will be added at its Fontana and Whittier facilities. FedEx Kinko's, Inc. purchases renewable energy at more than 520 branches in 26 states, for an estimated 69 million kWh per year. FedEx Kinko's, Inc. is procuring its power from a wide variety of sources, including wind, geothermal, landfill gas, solar, and small hydro.

This year, Fed Ex was recognized as #6 on FORTUNE's list of the World's Most Admired Companies and #7 on FORTUNE's list of America's Most Admired Companies. For the seventh consecutive year, Fed Ex has been part of this prestigious list. Fed Ex's leadership in clean transportation helps keep it at the top.

John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report and speaks at cleantech conferences.

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About the author

    John is an accomplished writer and speaker in technology marketing. He has written extensively on Cleantechblog.com on the state of the industry in alternative fueled vehicles. John is one of the IT converts that are driving the cleantech industry. A believer in cleantech's potential to change the world for the better, John is the Publisher of the Clean Fleet Report and serves on the Board of the California Hydrogen Business Council. He is the author of the book Revenue Rocket on channel marketing in technology, and the upcoming book Save Gas, Save the Planet on what we as individuals can do to help save the planet.

     

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