Beginning in the 1930s, UPS used electric package cars on the streets of New York City. Much like the company’s efforts today that seek to minimize impact on the environment, use of these vehicles made a lot of business sense in congested Manhattan. They traveled no more than 20 mph, but they didn’t need to go faster. They could operate in heavy traffic economically since they were battery powered and with little wear and tear. But they also didn’t contribute to the city’s pollution. So it was a shared bottom line – good for UPS, and good for the environment. The electric package cars were still in use in Manhattan in the early 1960s.
In the oil crisis of the early 1970s, conservation became essential for America. Along with a nation that began looking at a variety of related changes – establishing the 55 mph speed limits on highways, grading gasoline and rolling out new engine types – UPS began experimenting with alternative fuel vehicles. These vehicles had engines that ran on methanol, propane, multi-fuels and ones that once again used battery power. By the late 1980s, UPS found success with the Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) converted engines. These were vehicles that had been converted from gasoline-powered engines to run on natural gas. These converted package cars produced 85 percent less carbon monoxide than the gasoline powered engines of the late 1980s and fuel mileage improved by 13 percent.
Today, the CNG vehicles make up about half of UPS’s alternative fuel vehicle fleet, and an additional 245 were added late in 2009. Currently, UPS also uses the following types of alternative fuel vehicles in their fleet: Hydraulic Hybrid vehicles, Hybrid Electric vehicles, Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) tractor-trailers, electric vehicles and Propane-Powered vehicles. Due to the advances of these vehicles the UPS ground fleet meets the highest U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) SmartWay Rating, given to the cleanest and most fuel efficient commercial trucks on the road. For more information about these alternative fuel vehicles visit UPS Corporate Responsibility or read more about UPS’s alternative fuel fleet.
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