UPS announced it will replace gasoline- and diesel-fueled package delivery trucks with 1,000 propane vehicles to serve rural areas in Louisiana and Oklahoma. The vehicles plus the infrastructure, including an initial 50 fueling stations at various UPS locations, amount to approximately $70 million.
The vehicles on these routes are expected to travel up to 200 miles on a tank of propane. Operations will begin by mid-2014 and be completed early next year. Service in other states is pending
“The UPS alternative fuel strategy is to invest in the most environmentally friendly and economical energy sources,” said David Abney, UPS chief operating officer. “Propane meets those criteria as a clean-burning fuel that lowers operating costs and is readily accessible, especially on rural routes in the United States. States that attract this type of investment with tax incentives and grants will factor into the UPS deployment strategy.”
UPS, in collaboration with the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), a non-profit propane technology incubator, worked with equipment manufacturers to secure certifications with the EPA and California Air Resources Board.
UPS tested 20 propane-powered brown delivery trucks successfully this past winter in Gainesville, Ga., and expanded its order with Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. UPS uses a "rolling laboratory" approach to test different fuel sources and technologies according to their route characteristics. The new propane fleet is expected to travel more than 25 million miles and to displace approximately 3.5 million gallons of conventional gasoline and diesel per year.
Increased natural gas production in the U.S. is said to result in wider availability and price stability. UPS currently operates nearly 900 propane vehicles in Canada.
UPS has one of the largest private alternative fuel fleets in the nation with more than 3,150 alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles. This includes all-electric, hybrid electric, hydraulic hybrid, CNG, LNG, propane, biomethane and light-weight fuel-saving composite body vehicles.