Coca-Cola recently purchased 100 2014 Chevrolet Express vans for its service fleet. But as part of the company’s efforts to, in the words of Bruce Karas, Coke vp of Environment and Sustainability, “reduce the carbon footprint embedded in ‘the drink in your hand’ by 25% by 2020,” it is having those brand new vans converted into hybrid-electric vehicles.
It is using technology from XL Hybrids, a Boston-based developer of hybrid technology (yes, these guys came out of MIT).
The XL Hybrids conversion process includes the addition of a 40-kW permanent magnet motor, a 1.9-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, and the control software necessary to blend the motor’s output with the existing powertrain setup. The system depends on regenerative braking to charge the battery; the battery then releases the electrical energy to the motor to help propel the vehicle.
In Coca-Cola testing, the hybrid setup provided a 15 to 20% improvement in fuel economy.
So to the point of reducing carbon emissions, they’ve calculated that by running the 100 service trucks for 10 years, they will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by some 4,000 tons compared with conventional vans.
One interesting aspect of the XL Hybrids approach is that they’ve specifically targeted the fleet market with hybrid technology rather than trying to provide an all-things-for-all-people solution. Explained Justin Ashton, vp of Business development and co-founder of XL Hybrids, “Our company’s goal is to accelerate fuel and emissions reduction at a large scale. To accomplish this, we had to design and commercialize technology that provides a solid economic return on investment to corporate customers.”
Presumably, even if companies don’t have a stated environmental goal like Coca-Cola, they can still gain economic advantage via hybrid technology for their fleets.