What Rick Sikes and Joe Stergios say about managing green fleets

Rick Sikes and Joe Stergios webinarI would suggest that you take an hour and listen to the webinar from last week sponsored by 2014 ACT Expo and featuring Rick Sikes, feet superintendent for the City of Santa Monica, and Joe Stergios, area sales manager for Enterprise Fleet Management. Their experience and expertise is quite impressive, and it points toward what can be shared at ACT Expo in a few months. Sikes has been at it since the early 1990s and now has a 78% green vehicles in its 800 unit fleet, with natural gas vehicles making up about half of its fleet and electric vehicles (EVs), propane, hybrids, and hydrogen making up the rest of the green vehicles. Stergios works for Enterprise, which has the world’s largest private fleet with about 1.4 million vehicles on roads; the company serves about 9,000 commercial and government fleet accounts. Hybrids, EVs, and compressed natural gas vehicles are what Enterprise has been testing out on the rental and fleet sides. Enterprise’s alternative fuel vehicle experience increased four years ago when the company adopted an environmental stewardship initiative with the assistance of the CICS sustainability consulting agency.

Here are some of the more interesting points they made:

  • Sikes: Having a written policy on alternative fuels is important tied into strategic objectives like reducing fossil fuel consumption and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. With that, keeping an accurate inventory of the vehicles and their fuel use is important. Where and how its fueled onsite and offsite; making better use of under-utilized assets can free up capital and make operations more efficient.
  • Stergios: Creating a total cost of ownership (TCO) model is an important part of managing the assets. There are five aspects that need to be analyzed – acquisition, funding, compliance, operation, and remarketing. Those go into the TCO model and show you where the best fleet decisions are being made for the vehicle’s lifecycle. Stergios showed a chart with an electric vehicle, plug-in hybrid, clean diesel, hybrid, and fuel efficient car for comparison – they came out very close to each other. Trucks are in the same realm lately – where gasoline, bi-fuel CNG, and diesel are very close to one another on a financial level.
  • Sikes: Grant funding is bringing down the lifecycle costs of these vehicles, so you need to do your research. When asked whether he’s seeing the 50 cent per gallon equivalent for natural gas affecting fuel prices, he’s not seeing that happen. His fleet doesn’t buy off local pumps; they may see it in the future but he doesn’t have a sense of how much they’re passing it on to customers lately.
  • Stergios: Enterprise managers turn about 700,000 vehicles a year and most all of them are at risk units; it’s still a bit early to get accurate readings on where green vehicles are going in resale values – if anyone has insight on that one, he’d like to hear from them. (Santa Monica keeps its vehicles 12 to 14 years, so Sikes doesn’t have much to share on this topic, though five-to-eight year turn-ins are common for other fleets, he says.)
  • Sikes: Santa Monica is looking at bringing in extended range trucks from Via Motors. He likes the low maintenance that EVs have to offer, but is concerned about the range anxiety, so the 40 miles on electric and then the extended range on Via pickups and vans are interesting to him.
  • Stergios: Complying with California regulations can be tricky especially when a green vehicle might lack CARB and EPA conformity. Certification with CARB is starting to get a bit easier with more engines passing the certification process.

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