UPS launches a small zero emissions fleet

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UPS has secured a lease for 42 electric three-wheeled utility vehicles with green in mind, as in the bengamins. This environmentally friendly investment is part of a pilot program in Petaluma, California that is geared toward increasing profits by reducing transport costs.
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The ride, a very small three-wheeled one-seater called the Xebra Truck. This tiny truck-like rig has a small bed in the back, bearing the two wheels and a tiny little cab in the front, riding on the one wheel. These little cars can only travel 35 to 40 miles per charge on the few lead-acid battery powertrain and top out at 40 mph.


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However, combine the zero emissions with a UPS volumized special price tag of $10,000 each, this minifleet is poised to be much more than a greenwashing publicity stunt, it’s the real deal. Gary Starr, chairman of the company aptly named Zap-the maker of the Xebra- says that the most expensive mile for large delivery companies is the last one. “That’s in terms of pollutants, as well as operating costs.”
The classic big brown UPS rigs that deliver a package from a regional facility to the doorstep of a customer, often guzzle at the rate of about 8-10 miles per gallon. UPS did the math one day and realized that its local delivery trucks travel as little as ten miles a day, with high operating costs incurred from using even less fuel efficient trucks to deliver during the high-volumed holiday season. This is when UPS bent their eye toward the highly efficient, short-range Xebra.
The massive difference in cargo space and the formentioned range limitations is positively offset by cheaper operation costs. This is achieved mostly through reduced maintenance costs.The small and maneuverable size does have its marketable advantage however. For example, Coca-Colarecently ordered 30 Xebras from zap to navigate narrow roads in South America. For now, the positioning and profits of Zap look bright.

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of TriplePundit.com

TriplePundit.com has since grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for TreeHugger.com, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.