United Parcel Service (UPS) and FedEx aren't the only companies moving towards energy-friendly trucking alternatives. For years, FedEx has boasted a hybrid fleet of delivery trucks and just recently, UPS announced the introduction of 150 fuel-efficient plastic trucks into their delivery fleet. This year, Frito-Lay is participating in the environmentally-friendly trend by pledging to introduce 67 trucks designed to run compressed natural gas (CNG). The company eventually hopes that the majority of their lower-range vehicles will run on CNG.
The new, eco-friendly additions to Frito-Lay's fleet of the trucks will save about $2.50 a gallon, compared to diesel fuel. Compared to diesel trucks, CNG-powered vehicles will also help reduce greenhouse emissions by 23%. Before the pledge, the company tested 18 trucks on natural gas during pilot tests. "The good news is that it's a win-win for us," said the senior director of fleet capability at Frito-Lay," both in terms of our sustainability strategy and reducing our costs. The payback for the extra cost of the natural gas trucks is a year and a half, so it's a little bit of a no-brainer. We retire approximately 125 tractors a year, and we plan to replace as many of them as we can with natural gas."
It might take Frito-Lay six or seven years to replace all of their diesel trucks with CNG-power vehicles, but the effort is beneficial to the company and the environment. Surprisingly, Frito-Lay's fleet of delivery trucks (which is owned by PepsiCo) is the seventh largest private delivery fleet in the United States. Thus, any efforts made by the company to help the environment are notable. The fleet of trucks is due to be deployed in the middle of July, which will save the company about 900,000 gallons of diesel fuel every year.
Frito-Lays pledge is only a reflection of America's effort to find environmentally-friendly, affordable, and efficient ways of fueling vehicles. According to the president and chief executive of the truck builder Navistar, natural gas could be accountable for as much as 20% of America's tractor and truck fuel in a year. Converting delivery trucks and tractor-trailer vehicles into more eco-friendly and efficient machines is actually part of the "Pickens Plan" offered by a Texas billionaire. "We have to target the heavy-duty vehicles," he said, "which is where you can get the volume."
The plan is based on several pillars designed to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil. The plan even calls the United States' dependence on oil an "addiction." The Pickens Plan team isn't working alone, though. With the help of companies like Frito-Lay, UPS, FedEx and other eco-minded organizations, the United States can begin developing vehicles that benefit the economy as well as the environment.