Coca-Cola reveals plans for electric and hybrid distribution fleet

Frigid fleet: Coke says it’s rolling out 30 alternative fuel vehicles in California, Dallas and Chicago

(Pic: Coca-Cola)

(Pic: Coca-Cola)

Coca-Cola will deploy more than 30 alternative fuel vehicles in select cities across the US by the end of 2013, the company has announced.

Half of these vehicles are refrigerated electric delivery trucks that will carry Coca-Cola’s Odwalla brand juices and beverages.

Coca-Cola’s alternative fuel fleet includes hybrid-electric, liquid natural gas and compressed natural gas vehicles. Together, these vehicles reduce emissions equivalent to removing 10,000 cars from the road annually.

“Coca-Cola is intently focused on our environmental commitments. One of many ways we are delivering is by operating the largest heavy-duty hybrid electric fleet in North America” said Rick Frazier, chief product supply officer for Coca-Cola Refreshments.

“By investing in hybrid vehicles we are reducing our carbon footprint while using the best possible mix of energy sources.”

Each truck and refrigeration unit produces zero tailpipe emissions, eliminating fuel usage by about 90 gallons per week.

The trucks can be driven 60 to 80 miles on a single charge, depending on the terrain and the amount of cargo being carried. Charging the trucks is estimated at eight hours to completely recharge.

In California, 16 refrigerated plug-in electric vehicles will hit the streets by year’s end. Coca-Cola will launch 15 additional alternative fuel vehicles to service US cities including Dallas and Chicago.

This fleet supports the beverage company’s goal to reduce the carbon footprint embedded in ‘the drink in your hand’ by 25 percent by 2020.

Coca-Cola began building a hybrid fleet in 2001 and now has the largest heavy-duty hybrid electric fleet in North America.

Steve Saltzgiver, Coca-Cola’s group director of North America fleet operations, said alternative-fuel vehicles now make up close to 10% of the company’s heavy duty truck holdings, and the company is on track to double this percentage in the next seven years.

So far, Saltzgiver says hybrids have saved the company up to 30% in fuel and reduced emissions by about one third.

According to a study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the hybrids’ total cost of operation was 24% less than the diesel group, “which means the customer is realizing real savings with the hybrid group.”

That’s important, since the cost of alternative fuel equipment per vehicle can range from $24,000 to $50,000, said Saltzgiver.

The US government is also assisting companies in the switch to alternative fuels with its Clean Fleets Partnership, which so far is providing 18 companies (including Coca-Cola and UPS, among others) with technical support and public recognition, along with online tools for comparing truck engines and finding alternative fueling stations.

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