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Alternative Fuel Vehicles – Collect Them All!!!

UPS compressed natural gas delivery vehicleWhen I was a kid, I remember the catch phrase on every action figure package was “Collect Them All!” usually surrounded by blazing star flash. Call it crass marketing, but it made sense to my 7-year-old mind. What could you do with only one toy? I mean, if I needed my G.I. Joes to go on a stealth mission and I only had a medic like Doc or a pilot like Wild Bill, I’d be in a bind! I would want that ninja Snake-Eyes!

Given that my mind’s 7-year-old common sense never had an expiration date, I look out on the world at 32 years old and wonder why a delivery company would limit itself to one type of alternative fuel technology? There are so many to choose from, each with distinct advantages. Who only wants one toy?!

This year UPS’s alternative fuel fleet has crossed the 200 million mile marker. Yes, since 2000, we’ve driven our alternative fuel vehicles halfway to Jupiter…well, the equivalent distance anyway. What’s more interesting to me is the fact that we have the most technologically diverse fleet of AFVs. The competition is stuck on one, maybe two types. That’s a boring toy bin.

At UPS we have six types and we’re exploring a seventh. We have so many because our research has proven different types are needed for “different missions,” to use action figure logic:

  • Our hybrid-electric vehicles are ideal for urban delivery routes with heavy stop-and-go traffic.
  • Our compressed natural gas delivery vehicles are a no-brainer for locations with the fueling infrastructure.
  • Liquefied natural gas is the perfect alternative fuel for tractor trailers because a lot can fit in a small canister while providing a very long range.
  • Compressed natural gas isn’t a compact fuel, so it isn’t effective for long range vehicles, while liquefied natural gas isn’t good for frequent stop-and-go applications like an urban delivery vehicle.
  • In Canada, there is an abundance of propane and we deploy propane delivery vehicles there to take advantage of that fueling opportunity, all while getting the added benefit of fewer emissions and greater energy sustainability.

We’re taking advantage of the best alternative technologies out there in a true “Collect Them All!” spirit, and it’s paying dividends for the community in lower emissions, increasing energy security and efficient use of our resources.

But don’t take my metaphor too literally. UPS is out for the most efficient and durable new technologies. We aren’t collecting everything. You won’t see a steam-powered delivery truck anytime soon. It was the same when we were kids. You passed on some action figures. I never wanted Croc Master. Not once did my G.I. Joes need the skills of an alligator wrangler.

Category: Sustainability
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    Comments [5]

  1. Good Job Michael

  2. I have a very specific memory of pegs full of unwanted BIG
    BOA figures. No one loved BIG BOA.

    Amusing and informative post!

    • Yes, much like an alligator wrangler, a champion boxer
      was never a priority. G.I. Joe never enlisted the aid of
      Rocky, so why Cobra needed Big Boa is a mystery.

  3. The almost-recruitment of Rocky is exactly the reason why
    he existed, but I won’t go into such nerdery here!

  4. While CNG is a good answer for large fleets that can
    afford to build their own fueling infrastructure, many
    smaller fleets are looking toward propane as an easier
    alternative fuel to convert to and develop the fueling
    infrastructure. More great information can be found at
    http://www.driveonpropane.com which is a site for alternative
    fuel conversion systems. I am glad UPS has decided that
    going green is important.

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