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FedEx Express @ The Hybrid on The Hill Event

July 25, 2009

I recently had the honor to represent FedEx Express at an event overlooking the steps of the US Capitol building in Washington DC.  One of our Hybrid Diesel-Electric delivery trucks, based a few blocks away at our station here in Washington, was positioned among a few other hybrid trucks.  Of course, ours was the best looking truck, but will admit to a potential bias in that opinion.

The event was called “Hybrids on the Hill”, and the goal was to show that Hybrid truck technology is a viable solution to national goals of reduced emissions and improved fuel efficiency in trucks.  We’ve shown that this technology has improved fuel efficiency by over 40 percent, with the resulting CO2 emissions reduction expected with reduced fuel use.  In fact, this vehicle produces 25% less CO2 than the vehicle it replaced.  The viability of this technology has been demonstrated by our fleet’s logging over 3.5 million miles on road since hybrids were introduced in 2004.  Our fleet of hybrid trucks are not “demonstration technology” and they aren’t being “tested”, they go to work every day serving customers with cleaner, more fuel efficient vehicles.  I said at the event, and I believe it bears repeating here, that this is not the technology of the future it is the technology of TODAY.  The vehicle we borrowed from our courier’s route for this event, and the vehicles that will follow it in our fleet, is a prime contributor to our goal of improving the fuel efficiency of our vehicle fleet by 20% by 2020.  The more than 200 hybrids we have today, the most in industry, directly contributed to the fuel efficiency improvement in our fleet of over 13%, and the 45 million gallons of vehicle fuel we’ve saved as a result.

When FedEx pioneered the effort to bring hybrid trucks to the medium duty commercial segment there were few other hybrid trucks on the road. Today at the event 15 different truck manufactures were represented.  While hybrids may be commonplace in the mind of the automobile driver, the technology is not nearly as prevalent in trucks as we would like it to be.  In order for this proven technology to take hold in industry the costs will need to come down.  I believe that this will come with the “economies of scale” that result from larger production volumes.  We seem to have a “”catch 22” situation here since production volumes are low due to high cost, and costs will only come down with higher production volumes.  What I hope will happen is that government incentives will expand at the state and Federal level, and that smaller engines continue to be approved for truck use to further increase the fuel efficiency and commercial return on investment of hybrid trucks.

There was no doubt by those who attended this event that hybrid technology is ready for adoption and deployment.  We take pride at FedEx in having the industry’s largest fleet of hybrid trucks, but we hope that other carriers join our effort, thus making this technology more commonplace.  Everyone will benefit when this happens.

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