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UPS adds to hybrid-electric fleet, adds green shipping option for small-biz customers

How about it: Would you wait an extra day for a package if you knew it was a greener option?
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Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor on

When it has to get there the greenest way possible, UPS has just added to the plus side of the column--not only by adding to its hybrid fleet but by adopting a new green delivery service option for smaller companies.

The delivery company has put 200 additional hybrid electric delivery trucks to work in Austin, Houston, Philadelphia, Washington, New York, Minneapolis and Louisville. UPS already had 50 of these vehicles in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and Phoenix; it has another 20,000 low-emission and alternative fuel vehicles throughout its fleet using natural gas, propane, hydrogen, electricity and various other options. In all, about 1,000 of the fleet is hybrid while the rest are low emission types.

UPS says the new cars (which will carry a hybrid label so the company can do a little marketing while drivers are on delivery routes) will cut its fuel consumption by 176,000 gallons annually, compared with putting an equivalent number of new diesel trucks on the road. The reduction in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions is about 1,786 metric tons, the company estimates. The trucks have a smaller diesel engine than traditional vehicles, as well as a power control system that sends electric power to the powertrain when it is warranted in order to save fuel. Another cool feature: When drivers break, the energy is captured and returned to the battery. When you live on a street like mine where there are online shoppers and there are often multiple deliveries, that makes a whole lot of sense to me.

I also noticed that UPS has added to its Decision Green shipping options with something called UPS Smart Pickup. The company is using technology to track when a package is actually ready at a business site, so that drivers only stop when there really IS something to be picked up. The company hopes that the service will help cut 8 million unnecessary miles, or about 793,000 gallons of fuel and 7,800 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, that are unnecessarily driven by UPS each year.

Here's some insight from UPS CIO David Barnes:

Before UPS Smart Pickup, UPS would often arrive at a customer's location only to discover that the customer had no packages for pickup that day. For the first time, a UPS service integrates the company's operational and customer-facing technology to eliminate unnecessary stops. UPS Smart Pickup is particularly compelling for customers who are interested in cost-effective ways to make environmentally responsible choices, while at the same time helping UPS reduce miles and lessen our carbon footprint."

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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