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FedEx Blog

Hybrid Vehicles On A Hill – The Offensive Continues

July 25, 2009

“The one great element in continuing the success of an offensive is maintaining the momentum” – General George C. Marshall
Last month, seventeen different medium and heavy-duty hybrid vehicles were displayed at an event hosted by CALSTART in Washington, D.C., including FedEx. That’s encouraging to those of us that have long advocated that the electrification and/or hybridization of short-haul surface transportation is a good thing. Congratulations to the companies, both operators and manufacturers that participated. I am pleased that they are allies in this effort. As I said in a previous post, success here will take the concerted efforts by operators, manufacturers and the government.

Recently, a study by Duke University’s Center on Globalization Governance & Competitiveness found that fleets were interested in hybrids, “but so far, high production costs have prevented truck manufacturers from offering prices that draw large orders.” They went on to say , “Government support can help resolve this cost dilemma by providing consistent, long-term help with the costs faced both by manufacturers and truck buyers.” And, “These strategies could enable the U.S. hybrid truck industry to take a competitive lead, with a corresponding increase not only in manufacturing jobs but also high-value engineering, design, and electronics/software jobs, as well as employment in service networks, maintenance, and other industry infrastructure to support the vehicles.” I would say this qualifies as the oft-referenced “green jobs” we continue to hear about.

For the record, FedEx has seven different types of hybrids being operated today (including the retrofit type we have just announced). They include multiple medium-duty types of hybrid electrics (operated on three continents) at FedEx Express, a heavy-duty design at FedEx Freight, and one type of hydraulic hybrid at FedEx Ground. And, we have more than 4 million miles of revenue service on them since 2004. So, we know they work.

Why does FedEx continue to focus upon this issue? Well, one reason is that our sustainability vision includes a focus upon the development of sound sustainability policy within the transportation and business sectors. Transformational innovation within transportation fits well here. And, it’s consistent with a drive for the greater good.

But, why include, collaborate and encourage others, including those in our own logistics and transportation sector? Because as I said in the previous post, we cannot do it alone – it’s something that requires coordination, collaboration and momentum with others, both within and without transportation. General George C. Marshall really summed it well – “The one great element in continuing the success of an offensive is maintaining the momentum.” One cannot do much better than follow the advice of the architect of the Allies’ victory in World War II.


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