ARI’s Brian Matuszewski: How to Green Your Fleet

Tell us about your role at ARI.

My role is essen­tial­ly to help our clients effec­tive­ly low­er their car­bon foot­print. You can do that in two basic ways: imple­ment­ing alter­na­tive fuel vehi­cle solu­tions, where it makes sense, and enhanc­ing the over­all fuel effi­cien­cy. We help guide fleets through that process; to under­stand the require­ments and to imple­ment some of these mea­sures. For alter­na­tive fuels, there are a lot of things that you have to look at for it to make prac­ti­cal and fea­si­ble sense. I help clients under­stand the ROI impli­ca­tions of intro­duc­ing some of these mea­sures, along with the full total cost of own­er­ship and emis­sions impact of these deci­sions.

When a client approach­es you with an eye to green­ing their fleet, how do you help them?

First, it is impor­tant for us to under­stand the make­up of their fleet and how they are dri­ving these vehi­cles. After we have a full under­stand­ing of what the vehi­cle require­ments are, we can start brain­storm­ing some effec­tive strate­gies for how we can ulti­mate­ly reduce the car­bon foot­print.

With cer­tain fleets with cer­tain dri­ving appli­ca­tions, alter­na­tive fuels make real­ly good sense, but there are a lot of dif­fer­ent alter­na­tive fuel types. We need to have an under­stand­ing of what kinds of vehi­cles they have, their dri­ving pat­tern, where their fuel and foot­print is in rela­tion to exist­ing fuel­ing infra­struc­ture, where the ser­vice main­te­nance facil­i­ties are for these alter­na­tive fuel vehi­cle appli­ca­tions. These are all things that we have to research to prop­er­ly under­stand the fea­si­bil­i­ty of imple­ment­ing these mea­sures.

The vehi­cles that can oper­ate alter­na­tive fuels have an ini­tial cap­i­tal cost that is very expen­sive. Where the sav­ings come in is through the oper­at­ing costs. A lot of these alter­na­tive fuel options have low-cost fuel, so the more low-cost fuel you con­sume the faster your ROI is. So, we effec­tive­ly tar­get high fuel con­sum­ing vehi­cles for these kinds of appli­ca­tions and that is at a very high lev­el.

What sorts of trends are you see­ing in this indus­try?

We are see­ing a lot of change. There is a lot of R & D being placed into clean tech­nol­o­gy. It is real­ly an excit­ing time in the auto­mo­tive space just under­stand­ing and keep­ing track of all these dif­fer­ent types of clean tech­nolo­gies — from gas alter­na­tive fuels to hybrid elec­tric vehi­cles to ful­ly elec­tric vehi­cles to telem­at­ics. If you are able to mea­sure a lot of data points for your fleet you are able to iden­ti­fy oppor­tu­ni­ties for improve­ment. That has huge sus­tain­abil­i­ty impli­ca­tions, green­ing impli­ca­tions for fleets that play a vital role. It is a rapid­ly chang­ing space. There are a lot of options out there for fleets to pur­sue. At ARI, we help fleets under­stand what their options are and which options make sense for their fleet.

When you exam­ine the options for alter­na­tive fuels, what are some of the things that you take into con­sid­er­a­tion?

For basi­cal­ly any of the alter­na­tive fuels it is real­ly impor­tant to take a cra­dle to grave, holis­tic approach. Real­ly under­stand­ing first what the objec­tives are that the fleet is try­ing to obtain. Typ­i­cal­ly, it is going to be to reduce the TCO, the total cost of own­er­ship, and reduc­ing the car­bon foot­print. But once you have a spe­cif­ic idea of what a fleet’s exact mea­sures and KPIs that they want to improve, the next thing we do is under­stand their fleet’s require­ments and needs. What are the things the fleet needs to do to suc­cess­ful­ly meet that fleet’s pur­pose and mis­sion?

Once we have those two pieces of the puz­zle togeth­er, we can start con­duct­ing the research and analy­sis in terms of all of the things they need to think about when they want to suc­cess­ful­ly incor­po­rate these mea­sures in a fleet. This starts with vehi­cle acqui­si­tion. What are the impli­ca­tions from an ROI stand­point in terms of what kind of bud­get do they have? Can they afford the addi­tion­al cap­i­tal costs for these vehi­cles ear­ly on amidst the finan­cial sav­ings that they will accrue dur­ing their oper­at­ing cycle?

In addi­tion to vehi­cle acqui­si­tion they have to look at fuel­ing. Where are they going to get their fuel­ing? If they can’t lever­age and take advan­tage of exist­ing pub­lic fuel infra­struc­ture, they have to think about poten­tial­ly installing addi­tion­al infra­struc­ture to ful­fill their fleet’s needs.

Ser­vice and main­te­nance – a lot of these new tech­nolo­gies, even if they have the fuel­ing in place, if they don’t have the appro­pri­ate ser­vice and tech sup­port for these vehi­cles once they are on the road, this whole project can be a fail­ure. So, under­stand­ing where their vehi­cles can get the ser­vice they need is anoth­er very valu­able fac­tor in this whole process.

And then, final­ly, remar­ket­ing – what kind of resid­ual val­ue can they see get­ting with these vehi­cles? Unfor­tu­nate­ly, at this point in time there is not a lot of data on what kind of resid­ual val­ue you can get giv­en there are so few of these vehi­cles on the road. Over time this data will become a lot eas­i­er to obtain and be a more sig­nif­i­cant com­po­nent for under­stand­ing the full busi­ness case for these ini­tia­tives.

Where do you see elec­tric vehi­cles appro­pri­ate for fleets?

In talk­ing about elec­tric vehi­cles, in order to prop­er­ly vet out whether an elec­tric vehi­cle makes sense for your fleet or not real­ly depends on, again, the fleet’s appli­ca­tion, the fleet’s dri­ving pat­tern and, basi­cal­ly, the fleet oper­a­tion. The elec­tric vehi­cle space has made tremen­dous advance­ments in just the last ten years alone. If you just look at the cost of bat­ter­ies, they are going con­tin­u­ous­ly down. If you are look­ing at the range capac­i­ties of these vehi­cles, they are going up.

I think the elec­tric vehi­cle space is mov­ing in the right direc­tion. I think a lot of that is par­tial­ly due to the sig­nif­i­cant R & D that is being placed into this tech­nol­o­gy. There are a lot of stake hold­ers that are inter­est­ed in see­ing this prod­uct suc­ceed and at this point in time it is tough to devel­op a strong busi­ness case for it par­tial­ly because the bat­tery costs are still very expen­sive. But, if you have a vehi­cle that is dri­ving in large­ly urban set­tings where it can real­ly cap­ture a lot of the ener­gy of the bat­tery through regen­er­a­tive break­ing, then that is a good appli­ca­tion for this type of vehi­cle.

With any kind of vehi­cle that con­sumes a lot of fuel, you real­ly are going to get that slow­er ROI time­frame by tak­ing advan­tage of the low cost of elec­tric­i­ty rel­a­tive to the gas and diesel prices that you would nor­mal­ly deal with. It real­ly depends, as with most appli­ca­tions. My role is to under­stand and match these tech­nolo­gies for the right fit and make it work.

Do the same con­sid­er­a­tions apply to hybrids?

Absolute­ly, there are dif­fer­ent types of hybrids out there; you have plug-in elec­tric hybrids, reg­u­lar hybrids, and extend­ed range elec­tric vehi­cles. The Chevy Volt is a good exam­ple of that, so, each of these vehi­cles with­in that class of elec­tric hybrids has their own pros and cons. It is impor­tant to under­stand what exact­ly that fleet is doing and once you have that infor­ma­tion you can under­stand what makes the most sense for which vehi­cle you want to go with.


Bri­an joined ARI in ear­ly 2013 as Man­ag­er – Strate­gic Con­sult­ing, Sus­tain­able Strate­gies. Pre­vi­ous­ly, he worked as a project strate­gist for the U.S. Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency’s Sus­tain­able Mate­ri­als Man­age­ment pro­gram and as an ana­lyst for a con­sult­ing firm in Mex­i­co City, Mex­i­co, where he con­duct­ed envi­ron­men­tal pol­i­cy research on sus­tain­able devel­op­ment ini­tia­tives for gov­ern­ments and multi­na­tion­al cor­po­ra­tions.

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