By Jon LeSage, Editor, Green Auto Market
Penske led a panel discussion at this month’s ACT Expo 2014 on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) SmartWay Transport Partnership. Drew Cullen, Penske vice president of fuels and environmental affairs, moderated the panel that included EPA SmartWay’s Tracie Jackson-Hall and Joe Ringhoffer, director global sourcing at Penske Logistics.
In April, Penske Truck Leasing repeated its win as one of 10 companies named in the EPA SmartWay Affiliate Challenge Award; Penske was also cited for its strong marketing efforts. The EPA acknowledged Penkse for doing an exceptional job in promoting the partnership’s freight sustainability goals. Penske Truck Leasing has been assisting its customers in implementing SmartWay objectives including establishing fuel economy and emissions benchmarking; and has been educating customers on implementing SmartWay strategies into their own operations. “It is in our company DNA to not only be good environmental stewards ourselves, but to also aid customers in identifying, quantifying and implementing sustainable transportation solutions,” Cullen said.
Last October, Penske Logistics was a recipient of the 2013 SmartWay Excellence Award for being an industry leader in freight supply chain performance energy and efficiency. Penske earned this award in part for reducing its annual carbon dioxide emissions by 25%, nitrous oxide emissions by 40%, and particulate matter emissions by over 50%.
Penske works with customers using the SmartWay tools to improve environmental performance and quantify emissions calculations. Onboard technologies and alternative fuels are explored to improve fuel economy and improve the fleet’s efficiency. One of the workshop panelists, Chip Dorger, general manager at Letica Resources, explained how integrating the SmartWay program has meant fewer miles traveled, less fuel used, and CO2 reduction in total tons transported per year. Along with C02 reductions, SmartWay tools assist fleets in reducing NOx and particulate matter.
Offering customers compressed natural gas Freightliner Cascadia semi-tractors has been part of Penske’s sustainability initiatives, Cullen said. Penske Truck Rental has 85 compressed natural gas (CNG) Freightliner Cascadia semi-tractors available for commercial rental use in select markets. Penske works with customers to explore the environmental and economic benefits of going with CNG-powered trucks. There are challenges of going with these trucks – CNG trucks have less range than diesel-powered trucks and the tanks do take extra space; Penske works with customers to see when it makes sense to go with CNG. There is the potential to break even or to save two-to-three cents per mile; there’s been a lot of interest in these alternative fuel vehicles by food service, linen, and dry cleaning fleets, Cullen said.
During ACT Expo, Penske Truck Leasing also announced that it has been awarded grants totaling $525,000 through the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Review Committee (MSRC) in Diamond Bar, Calif. Seven Penske facilities in Southern California have been awarded $75,000 grants to modify the facilities to provide maintenance services on trucks with natural gas-powered engines. “These facility retrofits will enable us to better serve our truck and fleet customers in the region and support their sustainability goals now and in the future,” said Jennifer Sockel, senior vice president of administration and facilities for Penske Truck Leasing.
These California grants are assisting Penske in working with customers on reaching their sustainability goals, Sockel said. CNG retrofits can become expensive; Penske works with customers on implementing options such as aggregate use and consolidating facilities, or trial use with a small percentage of the fleet. Staff training is also offered by Penske for maintenance of these engines, and for working safely on the vehicles. Working on CNG trucks is quite different than the diesel trucks they’re used to servicing, so training is needed by maintenance staff.
Penske has also received a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for the purchase of 23 CNG vehicles. The Natural Gas Vehicle Program in Penske’s home state of Pennsylvania is helping to support development of a new CNG fueling infrastructure, Cullen said. Penske is working with customers on exploring options in CNG trucks and fueling, such as analyzing dynamic roadway routes. Pennsylvania is encouraging fleets to deploy CNG trucks in counties with poor air quality. Customers are now looking at when it makes sense to go with CNG, Cullen said.