Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Green Transportation Memo: Coca-Cola Enterprises, Inc. to Go Green; Plans to Add 142 Hybrid Electric Delivery Trucks to its North American Fleet

In a major green transportation move that not only should save the beverage bottling industry giant substantial diesel fuel costs over the long term as well as reduce its delivery fleets carbon emissions, Coca Cola Enterprises, Inc. plans to add 142 hybrid electric delivery trucks to its huge North American fleet this August. [The picture above is what the Coca-Cola Enterprises, Inc. hybrid electric delivery trucks will look like.]

Coca-Cola Enterprises, Inc. is the bottling arm of beverage industry giant Coca-Cola Co. and is a separate company.

The beverage bottling industry leader plans to add the 142 hybrid electric delivery vehicles throughout the United States and Canada, once it completes a huge addition its adding to its already large Midwest Coca Cola Bottling facility in August. The Midwest bottling facility is located in the Minneapolis-St. Paul USA Twin Cities region in Minnesota.

In announcing the major green transportation initiative, which will result in Coca-Cola Enterprises, Inc. having the largest hybrid electric delivery fleet in North America when it adds the 142 delivery vehicles, company CEO John Brock said the initiative is part of a larger environmental and conservation program the giant beverage bottler is embarking on.

"Coupled with other energy saving measures here in the Twin Cities and elsewhere, adding the hybrid electric vehicles not only is a commitment to the environment, but it's also good business practices," Brock says.

According to Brock, the hybrid delivery trucks will be the largest such vehicles in use in North America.

The hybrid electric trucks cost considerably more than conventional Coca-Cola delivery trucks, about $85,000 each, according to Brock. However, it's estimated the hybrid electric delivery trucks will use 32% less fuel than the company's standard trucks, which with diesel fuel averaging about $6 a gallon in North America will be a substantial savings, both in the short and long term.

The hybrid delivery vehicles also produce 37% less carbon emissions than the standard delivery trucks, which will amount to a significant carbon reduction for the company once all 142 of the hybrid trucks are in service, which should be by the end of August, according to the company.

Since Coca-Cola Enterprises, Inc. is one of the largest beverage bottlers in North America, as well as a major truck fleet operator, the company's investment and commitment to hybrid electric technology by buying the 142 trucks and adding them to its conventional truck fleet, could serve as a leadership initiative for other beverage bottlers and grocery industry companies to do the same.

With diesel fuel averaging $6 a gallon (numerous oil and gas industry analysts are predicting $7 a gallon diesel fuel by the end of this year), it seems a tipping point has arrived in which food, grocery and beverage industry companies and transportation firms would benefit economically in both the shorter and longer term by investing in hybrid electric trucks and incorporating them in their fleets.

The time also is good for the U.S. department of Transportation to sponsor a bill which would give tax rebates to companies for each hybrid electric delivery truck they purchase, in Natural~Specialty Foods Memo's analysis and opinion. The economic and social benefits--fuel reduction and the carbon emissions decrease--make it a worthy use of taxpayer money in our view.

Doing this would provide an incentive--along with the market incentive of current $6 a gallon and soaring diesel fuel prices, for companies to make this investment.

If numerous industry companies were to begin purchasing these hybrid electric delivery trucks in serious numbers, the increased demand for the trucks would increase the supply of them, thus resulting in the cost of the vehicles coming down, thereby making them affordable for smaller companies as well as larger ones.

Additionally, with each truck using 32% less fuel and emitting 37% less carbon than standard delivery trucks, the potential exists for substantial fuel savings, along with real carbon reduction over time.

Coca-Cola Enterprises, Inc. bottles various natural beverages along with Coca-Cola and the company's other varieties of soda pop. These include bottled water, Vitamin Water and various juice and other beverage products.

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