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Making alternative-fuel decisions

Dec. 14, 2022
A cleaner future is going to call for creative solutions. Try new, creative ways to research and evaluate trucking’s fueling options.

I know some fleets are still on the fence about alternative-fuel vehicles. However, I think most fleets know that the trucking industry is moving into a cleaner future but are not sure where to start their journey.

I have a suggestion for those fleets. Create an internal team of people from various areas across your organization. Break that group into two and have one group explore all the reasons why you should start looking at alternative-fuel vehicles, as well as to determine which powertrain options make the most sense for you. Have the other team formulate arguments about how and why today’s (and future) diesel engines are going to be clean enough to contribute to a reduction in your carbon footprint until zero-emission trucks are viable for you. 

See also: Three paths to decarbonizing trucking 

To make things even more interesting, I suggest you put at least one person with a strong opinion on why alternative-fuel vehicles are your path to the future on the team that must argue for diesel and put a staunch diesel supporter on the alt-fuel team. 

I did something like this at a recent NACFE board meeting. We were not debating whether alternative-fueled vehicles were the solution, but we were looking at whether it made sense for the NACFE team to take on a certain project in the messy middle. I deliberately put someone who felt strongly for one of the positions in the group that held the opposite position. I found that to be a great way to make sure people look at an issue with fresh eyes and doing so surfaced issues that likely would not have bubbled up if the two groups were populated with folks that were all in on a position. 

The future is going to call for creative solutions, so why not come up with some creative way to research and evaluate our options? I especially like the idea of including a cross-functional team in the process. There has been a lot of work on the value of having diversity in the decision-making process and part of that diversity can expand the decision-making team beyond the usual suspects.

Michael Roeth has worked in the commercial vehicle industry for nearly 30 years, most recently as executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE). He serves on the second National Academy of Sciences Committee on Technologies and Approaches for Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicles and has held various positions in engineering, quality, sales, and plant management with Navistar and Behr/Cummins.

About the Author

Michael Roeth | Executive Director

Michael Roeth has worked in the commercial vehicle industry for nearly 30 years, most recently as executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE). He serves on the second National Academy of Sciences Committee on Technologies and Approaches for Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicles and has held various positions in engineering, quality, sales, and plant management with Navistar and Behr/Cummins.

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