With tight parking, cargo space should be easy to access in urban spaces. Source: FCCC

Choosing the fuel sources
Many companies are investigating alternative sources to keep fuel costs down and make them eligible for tax credits.

Bob McGuire, vice-president, Alpha Baking Co., Chicago, and chairman of the American Bakers Association’s Logistics Committee, tested a variety of alternative fuel methods over the past 15 years.

Before any were available commercially, Alpha Baking’s first foray into alternative energy was working with recycled vegetable oil. The endeavor ended up being unsustainable for the company’s needs, but it led him to develop a group of questions that could be applied to an alternative energy strategy. After testing many choices — biodiesel, propane, natural gas, electric — Mr. McGuire found an effective solution in liquid propane, a promising alternative fuel for a number of transportation applications because it is widely available and cost-efficient.

Findings from the U.S. Department of Energy report “Case Study — Propane Bakery Delivery Step Vans” found propane vehicles typically achieved a fuel cost savings of around 7c per mile, unless met with ¬unseasonably cold winters when prices tend to spike.

The study also found that the incremental cost of the propane step vans and infrastructure can be recouped in approximately four to seven years contingent upon ¬annual mileage. Using propane also reduces GHG emissions while cutting dependence on petroleum.

Additionally, automakers have stepped up to keep gas and diesel costs down for manufacturers. Isuzu recently launched FTR, a Class 6 truck that runs on a diesel engine. Mr. Tabel said the trucks need a lot of power and torque, which generally means more fuel at combustion. However, the company equipped its truck with a 4-cylinder diesel engine that is more efficient than a 6-cylinder and has similar horsepower and torque.

As new regulations and emissions standards come into play, automakers are creating new technologies for their vehicles. The FCCC is developing onboard diagnostics that increase the number of sensors and reporting structures on its chassis as a way to maintain and ensure that emissions systems on the vehicle are operating correctly.