The Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) private fleet is pulling out all the stops to help the world's big red brand — Coke — go greener and greener. CCE describes itself as “the world's largest marketer, producer and distributor of bottle and can liquid nonalcoholic refreshment.” That claim to fame includes selling roughly 80% of The Coca-Cola Co.'s (CCC) bottle and can volume in North America and being the sole licensed bottler for CCC products in Great Britain, continental France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg and Monaco.
Transporting to retailers nearly all the Coca-Cola products sold here in the iconic brand's home market calls for a private fleet operation that can deliver the goods, but can do so while leaving in its wake the smallest carbon footprint possible, per CCE's corporate responsibility and sustainability focus, according to fleet director Mary Kay Runyon.
The Atlanta-based fleet, which numbers some 7,900 tractors, 10,000 trailers, and 9,500 straight trucks and vans in total, this year earned the distinction of deploying the largest fleet of hybrid electric delivery trucks in North America. An incremental 185 hybrid trucks put into service in the U.S. and Canada this calendar year brought CCE's total number of such vehicles to 327, which the company claims makes it the largest such fleet in North America.
The hybrid focus is “all part of the company's overall commitment to improving energy conservation and reducing climate change,” says Runyon. But she points out that as impressive as the CCE numbers are — and the company also runs some 300 Toyota Prius hybrid cars — the hybridized portion of the truck fleet approaches just 2% of the total. “What's really driving us [to accelerate delivery of truck hybridization] is our CRS — corporate responsibility and sustainability goals. CRS is part of our operational framework, and CCE has committed to achieving a 15% absolute reduction from 2007 in our corporate carbon footprint by 2020.”
Runyon explains that the private fleet is “helping CCE reach that overall goal by examining every purchase and considering how capital investments may be impacted. Carbon reduction is nothing less than a guiding principle for all of us” at CCE. She notes that CCE does most of its truck maintenance in-house and the hybrid-electrics have been “very well received by both our drivers and mechanics.”
The heavy-duty hybrids that CCE has purchased so far are 33,000-lb.-GVW, 12-bay beverage trucks and 55,000-lb.-GVW tractors. All of these have been supplied by Kenworth and are spec'd with Cummins diesel engines and Eaton hybrid-electric drive systems.
According to Runyon, a CCE hybrid tractor uses about 30% less fuel and puts out about 30% fewer emissions than standard tractors. She points out that a motor/generator, working with the transmission and a series of lithium ion batteries, allows the truck to source electrical power when traveling at speeds below 30 mph, reducing emissions and fuel use. “The tractor builds on the success” CCE has had with 12-bay hybrid beverage trucks.
“We started working on advanced [green] truck technology in the early 2000s,” says Runyon. “We're continuing to look at new technology. That's why two fully electric trucks will be coming into the fleet next year for a full review. These will be 23,000-lb.-GVW Smith Newton trucks. They've been run in Europe for quite awhile and our intention here is to test them out in the New York City area because of the [relatively short] length of those delivery routes. A fleet our size,” she adds, “must continually consider all the applications in our operation and which vehicles are the best fit for each.”