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For PepsiCo, drivers and data play key roles in fuel efficiency

Editor’s Note: Run on Less is a first-of-its-kind cross-country roadshow to showcase advancements in fuel efficiency, organized by the North American Council for Freight Efficiency and Carbon War Room. PepsiCo operates one of the seven fleets taking part in Run on Less. Read part 1 here and part 3 here.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for increasing fuel efficiency in fleets. Many considerations need to be taken into account, such as the availability of technology, performance and even factors beyond the truck itself.

In the past 10 years, PepsiCo has made significant improvements to the fuel efficiency of our fleet, by reviewing and implementing technology and industry best practices that make sense for our business, and continuously tracking the performance of what has been implemented.

Delivering our foods and drinks using a fleet that is more efficient and uses alternative fuels is part of our corporate vision called "Performance with Purpose." This is our work to deliver top-tier financial performance over the long term by integrating sustainability into our business strategy, leaving a positive impact on society and the environment. And that includes our goal to reduce absolute greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across our value chain by at least 20 percent by 2030, to which our fleet efficiency contributes.

We start by spending the time and effort to specify equipment best suited to our business. For example, Frito-Lay North America, PepsiCo’s $15 billion convenient foods business, deploys a mix of strategies that are good for our bottom line and further our sustainability goals. This includes building the largest commercial fleet of electric vehicle route trucks, which on average have tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions that are about 70 percent less than that of conventional diesel trucks, when using national grid averages for emissions from electrical generation.

Careful evaluation, relying on reliable research and testing can help each fleet determine what will work for them.

Our Frito-Lay division also operates more than 560 compressed natural gas (CNG) freight trucks, representing about 38 percent of our long-haul fleet inventory. CNG freight trucks use an abundant domestic natural gas fuel and emit 23 percent less greenhouse gas tailpipe emissions than the diesel freight trucks they replace.

And we’ve applied advanced diesel technology from some of the leading manufacturers around the world. In fact, over the past seven years, we have replaced more than 4,000 diesel trucks with new vehicles that can go twice as far on every gallon of gas. 

We’ve also upfitted many existing vehicles with a variety of currently available original equipment manufacturer (OEM) options to improve aerodynamics and fuel efficiency.

Many readily available technologies and practices can be leveraged to help fleets get more ton-miles or cubic-miles from a gallon of diesel fuel. In fact, the North American Council for Freight Efficiency has identified nearly 70 solutions.

And with technology changing at an ever-increasing rate, we are always exploring emerging technologies that will position us for the future. We believe achieving a more fuel-efficient and sustainable fleet is a continuous process, one that requires forward thinking and a willingness to adapt to a changing technological landscape.

A key factor to consider in the evaluation of any fuel-saving technology is how easy it is to maintain and service. A fleet’s own technicians or those at any outside service provider can provide valuable insights into the serviceability of a new technology, as well as the impact, positive or negative, that the technology would have.

Demand for freight services in the years ahead will only increase.

One thing we’ve learned is that drivers also play a significant role in the successful implementation of any new technology. Part of our new technology evaluation process includes in-depth interviews with drivers to gather input. It is important that the evaluation period is long enough for the drivers to get comfortable with the technology and to overcome any preconceived notions they may have.

Apart from the trucks we drive, our team helps train drivers so they can help reduce fuel use through their driving habits. Through this training, we’ve focused on using more economical routing, and are able to track miles per gallon by vehicle and driver, so that team members are highly engaged in driving performance. We also work closely with our fleet technicians to ensure we have the very best preventative maintenance programs in place to ensure every truck performs at its best.

At PepsiCo, we understand being a leader in fleet management doesn’t stop with our fleet alone. Demand for freight services in the years ahead will only increase, and we believe it’s important to work alongside government, the NGO community and other businesses to share best practices.

This fall, PepsiCo is joining Shell, NACFE and the Carbon War Room for a first-of-its-kind cross-country roadshow called Run On Less to showcase advancements in fuel efficiency. It’s a unique opportunity for us to join other forward-looking fleets to demonstrate best practices when it comes to miles per gallon, and provide real-world confidence to encourage widespread adoption of fuel-efficient technologies. 

The bottom line is that there are many ways to improve fuel efficiency. Careful evaluation, relying on reliable research and testing can help each fleet determine what will work for them. As cleaner transportation technologies — like any advanced technologies — become more affordable and effective, they become more widespread. The more companies such as PepsiCo embrace the clean transportation model, the better it is for all of us.

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