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Freight Demand Spurs New “Polyfuel” Approach

US Gain - November 13, 2018

It’s incredible to see commonality of headlines spanning across industries – all pointing to significantly higher freight demand. The cause for this increase? Like anything, it’s debatable, but in part due to a substantial growth in consumer online shopping. As consumers shift more of their spending online, retailers are creatively vying for a slice of the pie. From flash sales, to never-ending discounted prices and as of late – faster delivery times, of course, at no additional cost to the consumer – all putting pressure on the trucking industry to deliver more, faster.

With our economy booming and heavy-duty trucking on the rise – unfortunately so are transportation-related emissions, indicated by elevated smog levels and consecutive days of unhealthy ozone levels. This summer Los Angeles experienced a record-setting 87 days of unhealthy air quality. For those not based in California, you may think this phenomenon is a “west coast” problem, but the truth is cities across the nation are suffering air quality problems of their own. In fact, 4 out of 10 Americans live in areas with unhealthy air.

So what can be done? What should be done? Of course transportation isn’t solely to blame for air quality issues, but because it is the largest contributor with an increase in volume, leading corporations are in the hot seat, with consumers demanding change. Many brands have chosen to listen and specifically outlined transportation-related emission reduction strategies in their sustainability plans. The variant though, is how emission reductions will be achieved. Alternative fuel is an excellent option – in many cases, the fastest way to better air quality.

However, choosing an alternative fuel is more complex now, than ever. Diesel (traditional, biodiesel and renewable diesel), Natural Gas (renewable, compressed and liquefied), Hydrogen and Electric… there’s much to consider and it can be overwhelming to determine which fuel is the “right” solution for your fleet. The commonality in evaluation of alternative fuels is… a one-size-fits-all approach is no longer. Instead, companies are benefiting from application of a polyfuel philosophy, recognizing multiple fuel types could have a place in a long-term fuel strategy.

A few considerations in your assessment of alternative fuels:

  1. Total cost of Ownership – Include available incentives and tax credits in your evaluation
  2. Maintenance Strategy – Insource vs Outsource? Consider benefits and considerations of both options
  3. Infrastructure Needs – Consider your current and future routes, along with private site options
  4. Environmental Impact – Understand a fuel’s entire lifecycle, from well to wheel and disposal (which is yet to be determined in many cases)

As your company experiences higher freight volumes, be it as a shipper or carrier, consider your impact on air quality conditions in communities that you live and operate. Alternative fuel is quickly advancing in both adoption and new technologies, offering both an environmental and economic business case for consideration. Just ensure you’re equally evaluating fuel options for your specific needs to identify the best polyfuel approach for your business. Have more questions than answers? Drop us a note – we’d be happy to help.


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