Image credit: LA Wad, used under Creative Commons license.
FedEx has already made some pretty impressive sustainability moves. From converting 92 trucks into diesel hybrids through installing a huge rooftop solar array to announcing that all new buildings will be LEED certified, it's almost as if these guys are aware that their business model is heavily energy dependent, and they are vulnerable to price shocks and supply interruptions. Now the company has launched another major initiative—adding over 4000 fuel efficient vehicles to its ranks, and doubling its fleet of all-electric vehicles. (Admittedly the "doubling" is less impressive when you see how many they have...)Announced last week, FedEx's latest push for more fuel efficient vehicles sees the company adding hybrid-electric vehicles, piloting low-weight composite vehicles, and upgrading thousands of conventional vehicles to more fuel-efficient choices. It also sees them "doubling" their purely electric vehicle fleet, though once you drill down into the details, you see that in reality this means going from 19 to 43 globally. Nevertheless, the move shows both a diversification of suppliers for its EV fleet, as well as a broader geographical spread, and the company is also working with researchers from Columbia University to model impacts on the energy grid.
In terms of boots-on-the-ground impact on emissions though, it's the announcement that the company will upgrade 4000 vehicles (10% of its fleet) to more efficient stock that will have the most immediate effect:
"On high-mileage routes, FedEx is upgrading vehicles with 4,000 fuel efficient, lower emitting BlueTEC clean diesel Sprinter Vans. Each Sprinter is at least 100% more fuel efficient than the most commonly found alternative it replaces. Since launching our first Sprinter in 2000, we have put close to 1.4 billion miles on these more fuel efficient vehicles, saving over 66 million gallons of fuel compared to their predecessors."
Much like GE's commitment to purchase 2500 electric cars, FedEx's ongoing efforts to cut energy use and support cleaner transportation will have a ripple effect far beyond the specific emissions cuts created. It's becoming increasingly evident that industry-wide system innovation is the only way to create lasting change on the scale that is needed, so the more that big players like FedEx and GE put their weight behind a whole range of technologies, methodologies and services, the more they can use their leverage to create even broader change.
More on FedEx and Sustainability
FedEx Makes Major Move Toward Sustainability: All New Buildings to be LEED Certified
FedEx Converts 92 Delivery Trucks to Diesel Electric Hybrids
FedEx to Install US's Largest Rooftop Array
FedEx Absolutely Positively Building New Solar