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Climate Change Contacts

Pacific Southwest, Region 9

Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations

Fuel Efficient Vehicles and Alternative Fuels Smart Choice Guide

Increase Efficiency and Reduce Vehicle Miles Traveled

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Employ a ‘right vehicle, right job’ approach to fleet management.
One fuel saving strategy is to match each employee’s job to the smallest possible vehicle for that job. For example, if a sport utility vehicle (SUV) is necessary for a particular job, a midsize SUV that gets 24 miles per gallon might be more appropriate choice than a full size SUV which runs at 15 miles per gallon.
Upgrade vehicles for fuel efficiency (e.g. fuel efficient tires, and improving aerodynamics).
You can upgrade fleet vehicles to make them more efficient in a number of ways: 1) purchase tires with low rolling resistance,
Encourage fleet scrapping and replacement with fuel efficient vehicles.
While fleet scrapping and replacement can involve costly up-front investments, fleet owners can see cost savings over time from lower fuel consumption by using more efficient vehicles. In addition, scrap excess fleet vehicles to reduce fleet size can discourage non-critical trips and encourage more efficient use of the remaining vehicles. Cost savings are also achieved by not having to purchase, maintain, depreciate, and park vehicles.
Partner with a private company to supplement fleet vehicles.
In situations where the demand for fleet vehicles exceeds the available supply, contracting with a company that provides “flexcar” services may be a viable alternative
Coordinate with municipal facilities to improve fleet operations
Many port and airport fleets are either municipally-owned or owned by entities under contract to a municipality. A number of municipalities have focused on reducing fuel consumption and upgrading the overall efficiency of these fleets, which include support equipment.
Establish fuel-efficient vehicle purchasing requirements.
Municipalities can require, or set targets for, the purchase of high-efficiency vehicles through ordinances, city fleet purchasing requirements, or incentives. Fuel-efficient and hybrid vehicles can reduce city or municipal fleet fuel consumption, saving money and reducing GHG emissions.
Eliminate unnecessary idling.
Idling contributes to GHG and air pollutant emissions and significantly reduces fleet efficiency. An engine consumes up to one gallon per hour when the car is idling (California Energy Commission, Undated). Municipalities can encourage idle reduction through infrastructure, education, and idle reduction requirements. A basic guideline is that a gasoline light-duty vehicle should idle for no more than 30 seconds before shutting off the engine; this includes warming up the engine in colder climates. For heavy-duty diesel engines, the general guideline is no more than five minutes of idling. These requirements can be enforced at a municipality level through road-side inspections or public complaint.
Public investment/financing for idle reduction infrastructure.
Municipalities can support idle reduction by helping to finance or otherwise encourage the development of infrastructure that eliminates or greatly reduces vehicles’ need to idle, especially in high congestion areas. For example, many truck stops now have electrification facilities to reduce truck idling. Truck Stop Electrification (TSE) refers to truck stops that provide power to trucks so that drivers can meet all their electricity needs (e.g., air conditioning) without having to run their engines.
Idle reduction encouragement and education.
Local governments or agencies can establish driver education programs that offer courses on idle reduction techniques. Some programs, aimed at transit drivers, teach techniques to reduce idling time and to plan more efficient routes.
Fuel Consumption And Vehicle Use Tracking
Collecting and reporting fuel and vehicle/equipment use data is key to understanding fleet efficiency. The right data management system for each fleet depends primarily on fleet size, annual miles traveled and resources available to each fleet. For small fleets, an electronic spreadsheet may suffice as a data management system. For larger fleets, dedicated software and telemetry systems may be more appropriate for optimal efficiency. Many fleet managers find that data management systems are also integral to properly maintaining vehicles, providing satisfactory customer service, and meeting organizational and departmental goals. Systematically tracking vehicle information makes it easier for busy managers to ensure their vehicles are both safe and efficient.
Fleet Efficiency Technologies
Technology can play a very important role in fuel conservation and efficiency improvements. Large fleets can realize dramatic environmental and cost savings by making use of anti-idling and fleet utilization technologies. Fleets can also improve efficiency by increasing the level of coordination and communication among departments and external partners.
Recommended Efficiency Technologies:
  • On-board systems (e.g. idle shutdown timers): Electronic idle shutdown timers can often be purchased along with new equipment, or installed on existing fleet vehicles. To reinforce the importance of reducing idling time, fleet managers can also post anti-idling signs on the property where feasible, or attach anti-idling decals to individual vehicles
  • Trip/route planning: Planning software can serve as a very effective tool to help reduce idle time and guarantee the most efficient routes on a daily basis. For large fleets, such tools can be specified at the time of purchase or installed as an add-on. Alternately, small fleet managers could use free Internet mapping tools to achieve similar benefits of trip/route optimization
  • Vehicle telematics (e.g. Global Positioning Systems): In-Vehicle telematics are becoming more prevalent in fleets of all sizes. With these systems, an electronic GPS device is installed in each vehicle, which communicates with software (likely housed at the main fleet office) to collect and interpret positional data relayed by each vehicle. Tracking data can include vehicle location, driving speed and idling times to provide fleet managers with a snapshot of their fleet’s driving habits and practices
DOE’s Petroleum Reduction Planning Tool
This tool helps fleets, consumers, and business owners create a strategy to reduce conventional fuel use in fleet and personal vehicles. This interactive tool allows users to evaluate and calculate petroleum reductions by choosing one or a combination of the following methods: alternative fuels, hybrid electric vehicles, biodiesel blends, fuel economy, vehicle miles traveled reduction, truck stop electrification, idling time reduction, and onboard idle reduction.
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