A blog focused on sustainable business issues and challenges

Survey: High Fuel Prices Likely to Make Urban Dwellers Re-think or Abandon Car Ownership

March 19, 2012 | No Comments →

If gas prices continue to climb, will you consider making significant changes to your driving habits? Will you consider buying a different car, or maybe even abandoning auto ownership all together?

Interesting new research from Oliver Wyman and the ESB Business School Reutlingen in Germany reveals that for many urban dwellers in Western Europe and Asia, the answer to all of those questions is a resounding “yes.”

The “Future of Mobility” found that, if fuel prices rose significantly by 2030, more than three-fourths (77 percent) of the 3,000 people polled would change their mobility behavior by:

  • switching to a smaller car,
  • switching to an electric car, or
  • abandoning car ownership entirely and replacing it with a mixture of transport modes.

Survey respondents in Shanghai (91percent) and France (82percent) were particularly open to changing their mobility patterns. High-income respondents (71percent) were the least likely demographic segment to consider a switch.

The survey also asked respondents to predict how their behavior would change under a more aggressive “sustainability mobility” scenario. For this particular scenario, those polled were asked to imagine a 2030 with fuel costs at 4 euro/liter (the equivalent of about $20/gallon), more traffic congestion, better quality public transport and the possibility of planning multimodal trips using smartphone apps. Under this “sustainability mobility” scenario: (more…)

President Obama Announces $1 Billion Challenge to Spur Deployment of Alternative Fuel Trucks

March 12, 2012 | Comments (2)

President Obama at DaimlerLast week, President Obama visited the Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) manufacturing facility in Mount Holly, North Carolina, where he announced a new $1 billion National Community Deployment Challenge to spur deployment of clean, advanced vehicles in communities around the country.

DTNA is a partner in the Energy Department’s SuperTruck initiative, which is focused on increasing the fuel efficiency of long haul trucks (aka, 18-wheelers) by 50 percent by 2015.

While these particular trucks represent only 4 percent of the on-road vehicles in America, they are responsible for almost 20 percent of the country’s on-road fuel consumption, and this class of vehicle currently consumes more than 30 billion gallons of gasoline each year.

In order to achieve the SuperTruck imitative goal, companies like Daimler are developing and improving a number of vehicle technologies, including engine efficiency, aerodynamics waste heat recovery and hybridization.  Through these types of improvements, the Energy Department estimates fuel economy increases could save long-haul truckers more than $15,000 per truck per year in fuel costs. (In an earlier post, I reported that MIT researchers also have identified significant cost savings for businesses that use electric vehicles to make deliveries on an everyday basis in big cities.) (more…)

MIT Study: Electric-Powered Trucks Save Money for Businesses

March 07, 2012 | Comment (1)

New research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) shows that electric vehicles are not just environmentally friendly; they also have the potential to improve the bottom line for many kinds of businesses.

Granted, the up-front costs of electric vehicles can be significant. A company looking to purchase an electric-powered delivery truck today will likely have to shell out nearly $150,000 –compared to about $50,000 for the same kind of truck with a standard internal-combustion engine.

But, the researchers at MIT’s Center for Transportation and Logistics (CTL) found that electric vehicles used to make deliveries on an everyday basis in big cities can cost 9 to 12 percent less to operate than trucks powered by diesel engines. What’s more, as battery costs continue to drop, the business case for electric vehicles will only get better, according to Jarrod Goentzel, director of the Renewable Energy Delivery Project at CTL and one of four co-authors of the new study.

The CTL study was conducted using data collected by the international office supplier Staples, as well as ISO New England, the nonprofit firm that runs New England’s electric power grid.

Using that data, the researchers modeled the costs for a fleet of 250 delivery trucks, and they examined alternate scenarios in which the whole fleet used one of three kinds of motors: purely electric engines, hybrid gas-electric engines and conventional diesel engines.

The researchers analyzed outcomes if the trucks in the fleet were driven 70 miles a day for 253 work days per year, with diesel gasoline costing $4 per gallon. They found that: (more…)

High Oil Prices Lead to Innovations for Shippers and Carriers

February 08, 2012 | No Comments →

As I’m sure you’re aware, oil prices are still on the rise, and unfortunately, analysts say that trend isn’t likely to reverse itself any time soon.

As consumers begrudgingly pat their empty pockets at the pump, businesses, particularly in the shipping sector, also are wondering how best to adapt.

Some are trying to lay blame or even pass the buck by forcing additional surcharges and costs. Others are taking a more proactive approach, advocating for alternative energy fixes or other innovative technology solutions.

In his recent blog post Three Strategies for Reducing Fuel Costs in 2012, Derek Singleton outlines a handful of these new ideas. As Singleton points out, even though rising fuel costs have caused more that a few headaches for shippers and carriers, these problems also have inspired valuable scrutiny of processes and procedures. As a result, shippers are learning that careful planning and the use of predictive technologies–such as distribution business software–can minimize the impact fuel costs have on the bottom line.

If you’re managing a fleet, Singleton suggests you cope with rising fuel costs by using three general strategies. He advises you: (more…)

Frito-Lay Expands Use of All-Electric Delivery Trucks: One Step Closer to Most Fuel-Efficient Fleet in the Country

December 23, 2011 | No Comments →

Earlier this month, PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay North America announced the addition of ten new trucks to its growing all-electric fleet – a move that pushes the company closer to its goal of becoming the most fuel-efficient commercial fleet in the country.

Frito-Lay is working with Smith Electric Vehicles, the nation’s top manufacturer of battery-electric commercial trucks and a leader in the development of commercial electric trucks designed to operate at peak effectiveness in urban environments. All told, Frito-Lay says it plans to deploy 176 all-electric vehicles in the US and Canada this year.

Some benefits of these trucks include: (more…)