Fleet managers are accountable for more than getting product from point A to point B on time and on budget. They are being asked to transition their fleet to low or zero carbon fuel alternatives. Is a flex-fuel strategy the answer?
The push to transition to alternative fuels is driven by external forces, including investors, customers and their supply chain, who are urging companies to comply with new (or proposed) laws and regulations as well as internal stakeholders trying to align decarbonization goals with market and business expectations. social responsibility practices. Fleet managers are responsible for reducing their company’s direct emissions, or Scope 1 emissions, by reducing reliance on conventional fossil fuels like diesel and gasoline. They must also account for Scope 3 emissions, or those created by others throughout their supply chain.
A polyfuel strategy considers a wide range of technologies and fuel sources that can be used in parallel pathways to ultimately meet emissions targets. For many fleets, this can seem overwhelming and complex.
Setting a long-term emissions reduction goal is an important first step, but determining where to start to put this into practice involves many considerations. Some fleet managers are immediately turning to battery electric vehicles as it seems to be a common selection, favored by the market. However, they soon realize that fully electrifying the fleet is not as simple as it seems. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for all alternative fuels, as different fleets require different approaches which may include BEVs as well as renewable natural gas, hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV), renewable diesel, renewable propane and biodiesel.
For fleets looking to begin their decarbonization journey, three steps can help them begin building their long-term flex-fuel strategy, one that includes a strategic portfolio of alternative fuels that meets their current needs and can easily scale to meet their needs. adapt to future growth. How to start?
1. Create a fleet inventory
A fleet inventory is more than just a vehicle count; it documents essential fleet information, such as:
- How many vehicles are there?
- What types of vehicles are used?
- What are their fuel sources?
- What is the average fuel consumption?
- What is their typical daily mileage?
- How are they used?
This is important because it provides the first level of data and variables associated with current state operations. It also explains the means to an end that have developed with the fleet based on recent history and the intended life cycle. The inventory can also be insightful in determining whether existing vehicles are candidates for retrofitting to alternative fuels. hybrid electric.
2. Establish an emissions baseline
The decarbonization of the fleet is a journey, which will not be solved overnight. To ensure progress can be tracked and reported, an emissions benchmark provides fleet managers with a starting point for measuring reductions.
Once the fleet inventory is completed, the information can be used to establish an emissions footprint estimate. This figure can be calculated manually or based on an electronic data log. The goal here is to develop a starting point for continued measurement, which will make it easier to assess progress in the months and years to come as a flex-fuel strategy is fully implemented.
3. Develop trusted partnerships
Fleet managers who understand the importance of a strategic approach are always faced with the question “Who is going to do this job?” They are often already responsible for ensuring their fleet is on the road, deadlines are met and operational efficiency is not sacrificed, so it is important to remember that the burden of reducing emissions should not be left to them alone.
Developing trusted partnerships is essential to developing and executing a fleet transition. An external partner can help create a fleet inventory and baseline, as well as help with long-term strategy, allowing internal team members to make changes to policies, procedures and operations . Larger fleets with access to company resources may be able to partner with their sustainability office to help with the transition. In short, don’t be afraid to lean on internal and external resources for help.
For additional advice, check out the wider network of companies and industries that are tackling decarbonization such as Pepsi, Amazon, and UPS with flex-fuel strategies. An emerging online community can also be found in the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) – which encourages ambitious climate action in the private sector by educating organizations on how to set science-based reduction targets.
These three steps will help fleet managers make real progress. With a fleet inventory, an emissions benchmark, and the right partners, companies can answer more important strategic business questions, such as:
- What is the place of new and emerging technologies in a flex-fuel strategy?
- Should refueling and charging stations be private (for your fleet only) or public (so others can use them)?
- Can infrastructure partners help execute a plan and resolve legal, regulatory, and policy issues at local, state, and national levels?
A flex-fuel strategy will not only allow fleet managers to select the best blend of fuels for their fleet today, but also for the future. The journey to lower emissions may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Adopting considerations unique to an organization can lay the groundwork for developing a multi-step, data-driven approach to transitioning to optimal alternative fuel applications. By transitioning their fleet today, they can meet their long-term operational and emissions goals while developing the people, processes, technologies and infrastructure needed for their operations.