Ryder System has finalized a deal to lease 25 compressed natural gas (CNG) powered trucks to grocery store chain Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market, in partnership with the San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG).
The first 15 CNG vehicles were delivered to Fresh & Easy in July and the balance will be delivered in October, Ryder said.
The $38.7 million Ryder/SANBAG project is part of a public/private partnership between the company and the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE), the California Energy Commission, plus the Southern California Assn. of Governments’ Clean Cities Coalition. Ryder said the project is helping put 202 heavy duty natural gas vehicles on the road, upgrade three maintenance facilities for the proper servicing of natural gas vehicles, and construct two natural gas fueling stations.
Ryder added that Fresh & Easy runs Dedicated Contract Carriage (DCC), operating 176 grocery stores in California, Arizona and Nevada and relying on a total fleet of 71 vehicles managed by Ryder to support store deliveries from its Riverside, CA, distribution center.
“When we can reduce our operating costs through more efficient transportation technologies like natural gas, we can pass those savings on to our customers,” noted Tim Mason, Fresh & Easy’s CEO, in a statement. “This natural gas vehicle initiative directly supports our efforts to offer fresh, wholesome food at affordable prices.”
He added that natural gas vehicles typically produce 20 to 30% fewer emissions than comparable diesel vehicles and can cost as much as 42% less per equivalent gallon of diesel based on current diesel fuel prices.
Additionally, Fresh & Easy stores use 30% less energy than a typical supermarket, said Mason, which helps its customers save money. The company also installed a 500,000-sq.-ft. roof-mounted solar panel on its Riverside distribution center; uses LED [light emitting diode] lighting in external signs and freezer cases; offers customer recycling in every store; and uses advanced refrigeration and freezer units to cut back on energy usage.
The company also recycles or reuses all of its display packaging, sending the majority back through its distribution center, Mason noted.