The familiar brown UPS trucks are going green. Or at least they might be, once the results are in from the environmentally-friendly test truck currently running routes around Roswell.
Executives at the shipping giant recently selected five “extreme” locations around the United States to test five new CV-23 prototype vehicles from Utilimaster/Isuzu to determine if they can meet the demands of UPS's operating needs. The goal of testing the lightweight plastic vehicle prototypes is to test the CV-23’s durability and determine if the lighter-weight trucks can withstand the rigors of UPS's daily delivery routes, while achieving a 40 percent increase in fuel efficiency over the traditional UPS diesel package car.
The five test vehicles are equipped with easy-to-replace molded bumpers and side panels and are 1,000 pounds lighter than traditional UPS trucks. The CV-23 vehicles are designed for longer mileage routes.
Testing began in April and will conclude in December.
Roswell was chosen due to the city’s close proximity to the UPS corporate automotive department in Sandy Springs. The Roswell route is considered an extreme urban route. Other test locations are Albany, New York for the tough winter conditions; a long urban route near Isuzu headquarters in Flint, Michigan; Lincoln, Nebraska, which comprises some of the roughest back roads in the country and the extreme desert heat of Tucson, Arizona.
According to Michael French, UPS spokesperson, rising fuel prices were one of the reasons the UPS automotive team began searching for more fuel-efficient vehicles.
After careful analysis, French said the team determined “regardless of whether gas prices go down, we’re going to start operating under the assumption that costs won’t decrease [and] continue to look for the most fuel efficient vehicles.”
French added that though the new vehicles could be implemented company-wide, the consumer won’t pay the price in higher shipping costs. In fact, other than the truck design, consumers would notice very little change in their day-to-day package service.
“We’re still UPS,” said French.
The company currently operates a fleet of more than 90,000 vehicles, including more than 1,900 alternative fuel vehicles.