While the demand for hybrid and electric fleet vehicles is already picking up, it's set to increase even more in the years ahead. As more cities encourage sustainable development and urge the use of greener transportation methods, fleets of city buses and taxis could increase the number of eco-friendly vehicles they employ, curbing emissions and cutting fuel expenses.
According to a new Research and Markets report, the demand for hybrid and electric buses and taxis is expected to expand substantially within the coming years. The data from this report estimates the market for these vehicles will increase by 8.7 times from 2012 to 2022, nearing the $60 billion point in sales sometime soon after 2022.
Organizations aren't waiting - they're looking for cost savings now
Some metro areas are already implementing this new technology. Chapel Hill, North Carolina, recently introduced 15 new hybrid buses, phasing out some of its older, gas-guzzling models for these new fuel-efficient buses. According to the local News Observer, the hybrid buses will have a fuel economy of roughly five miles per gallon, significantly higher than the three miles per gallon the traditional diesel buses achieved.
Florida's Broward County has also recently decided to add some greener vehicles to its bus fleet. The local Sun Sentinel reported Broward County Transit has plans to replace 15 percent of its fleet with 49 new hybrid buses. Once phased in, roughly one-quarter of the area's bus fleet will be more environmentally friendly.
The city of Chicago has also placed an emphasis on green vehicles, looking to increase the number of local hybrid and electric taxis to cut emissions and lower fuel costs. According to National Public Radio affiliate WBEZ, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently announced about half of the city's taxi fleet now runs on alternative fuels, which could save 8 million gallons of fuel per year, resulting in significant cost reductions and environmental benefits.
The majority of these projects received financing through federal grants, which substantially cut the costs of integrating hybrid and electric buses and taxis into local fleets. However, not all private transportation companies or municipalities may be able to receive such funding for their own attempts to green their fleets, making it important for them to find cost savings in other ways.
Using routing software to help cut expenses
Without the benefit of government funding or incentives to offset investments in greener vehicles, many fleets may not be able to afford replacing or converting a large number of their vehicles immediately. Many cost-saving initiatives are still available for these companies in the form of software technology.
One 'green' strategy to reduce fuel consumption and emissions for commercial fleets is simply to reduce the total number of miles they drive in the course of business. Vehicle routing software can dramatically improve fleet efficiencies by planning optimal orders to assign to each driver, along with the best sequence of stops and the most direct route to travel. Distribution and field-service fleets report savings of 10 to 25 percent from the use of such technologies, derived from such areas as reducing total miles traveled and the use of fewer trucks for the same amount of work, both factors that cut fuel consumption and emissions. Solutions like this make 'green' sense for both the environment and a fleet operator's bottom line.