When one thinks of greening a fleet, pictures of hybrid vehicles immediately come to mind. However, there are plenty of ways to make commercial fleets greener: reduce miles, use alternative fuel, improve driver behavior, etc. But all of those solutions and more start in one place: a fleet manager's head.
For some fleets, that means working closely with a full-service fleet management company such as GE Capital Fleet Services. GE will provide services ranging from advising on the types of cars and trucks best suited for your operation to managing maintenance cycles — even handling resale of the vehicles if you choose. All of the myriad of services are offered à la carte as well.
The company's Environmental Performance Services with Mobile Resource Intelligence solutions are certified as an ecomagination product. GE's ecomagination product review process “provides a third-party review of claims, quantifying operating and environmental performance benefits that accrue to GE's customers by using ecomagination products relative to baselines such as competitors' best products, the installed base of products and regulatory standards.” Products or services that meet ecomagination standards are listed at www.ge.com/ecomagination.
“When companies think about going green, there are a number of ways they can accomplish those objectives,” says Mark Smith, strategic consulting services leader at GE Capital Fleet Services.
GE Capital Fleet Services offers three core offerings to customers who are looking to make their vehicle operations greener. Mobile resource management, truck engineering, and truck consulting all play different, if not equally important, roles in the process, says Smith.
“One of the things we hear very commonly is, ‘I want to reduce my costs,’” Smith says. “In spite of what the starting point is, we often have the same type of discussions. Oftentimes, the solution incorporates multiple approaches to address both costs and emissions.”
GE will assess a customer's request by looking at the vehicles in the fleet, driver behaviors, and technology in use.
“What vehicle are you putting the driver in?” asks Smith. “Right now, we're able to improve fuel efficiency 17 to 59%” by placing the right type of vehicle into service. Smith says that shifting to a smaller vehicle could result in fuel cost savings of up to $1,600 per vehicle annually based on a fuel cost of $3.75/gal. There is also a CO2 emissions reduction of between 1 and 4 tons per vehicle yearly.
“In many cases, there's a different vehicle they can utilize,” Smith says. “In some cases, it's not as simple as just changing vehicles” because a different vehicle may not fit the operation's requirements.
Once the vehicles are assessed, GE Capital Fleet Services will take a look at other areas, such as driver training.
According to Smith, the company's telematics options allow customers to utilize vehicle data and identify speeding, idling after hours, etc., and use that data to influence driver behavior, including offering recommendations to operate more efficiently.
“The combination of these helps us reduce fuel costs $375 a vehicle per year [based on $3.75/gal],” Smith says. “Telematics solutions can significantly reduce the distance traveled by vehicles.”
Smith points to a field test GE Capital Fleet Services performed with a delivery fleet that resulted in a 20% reduction in miles traveled, reducing CO2 emissions by 9 metric tons and saving over $2,700/year in fuel costs per vehicle.
For GE Capital Fleet Services, though, the process is more about becoming a partner with its customers. “It's helping customers develop the right overall strategy,” Smith says. “One of the areas where we are spending a lot of time now is looking at what we need to be thinking about today to position customer fleets for success in the future.”
In addition to advising clients on environmental performance, GE Capital Fleet Services also offers vehicle selection; maintenance management; accident management; personal use tracking; fleet safety programs; fuel, title and licensing; and remarketing services. A commercial vehicle leasing program includes total lifecycle management and its TruckVantage management services include truck maintenance, emergency breakdown, compliance, and web-based applications to document and analyze in-house repairs and accident management.