Late in 2002, a corporate directive prompted Verizon Communications to develop a Fleet Sustainability Team.
Faced with specifications they hadn't developed, Ken McKenney and his technicians decided the best thing they could do to accomplish the goals was to “young up” the fleet. So their first step was getting less efficient vehicles off the road and replacing them with newer ones.
This entailed buying a few Toyota Prius electric hybrid sedans, but mostly vehicles with conventional gasoline engines that got more miles per gallon. During the next stage, they looked more carefully at fuel economy and emissions ratings and selected the vehicles that rated best. Fourteen GM hybrid electric Class 2 cargo vans were added in 2007 and remain McKenney's go-to choice for in-city applications.
Around 2005, the company began equipping a substantial portion of its fleet with GPS units that keep track of vehicle location. Proprietary Verizon software analyzes the data to optimize route assignments.
“Adding GPS is one of the best things a fleet can do to improve performance,” McKenney says. “Its impact on our dispatch function alone reduced the number of miles driven by about 10%. The units also monitor idle time, so we instituted an internal communication blitz urging drivers to observe a 5-minute idling limit. Between 2005 and 2009, we reduced idle time by 34% and saved 2.7 million gallons of gas.”
Another way he's enhanced efficiency is to work with one “upfitter” to equip all basic vehicles to Verizon's standards, adding ladder racks, interior compartments, GPS units, logo decals, etc. It's simpler and less expensive for one vendor to stock and install all the needed equipment.
Sixty percent of Verizon's fleet is cargo vans or ¾-ton pickups with service bodies. Aerial boom trucks make up another 15% to 20%. The rest are sedans and pickup trucks used by executives and managers, Class 7 trucks, Class 8 semi-trailers, plant installation and maintenance trucks, cable diggers, and pole placement equipment.