Coke Goes Hybrid

A major soft drink distributor announces the introduction of hybrid trucks into its fleet. The energy saving measures will reduce emissions when the vehicles are idling or in traffic. Pat Hernandez says that’s good news for the city.

Nine hybrid-electric trucks are being added to the fleet of Houston Coca-Cola Bottling Company. It plans to have 142 of them on the road by the end of the year. Tim Lynch is Market Unit Vice President for the local bottler. He joined Houston Mayor Bill White for the announcement at city hall.

image of the back of a coke truck reads: Did you know the hybrid electric truck reduces emissions in our city“As the largest hybrid delivery vehicles in Houston, these trucks use 32-percent less fuel than standard trucks, and considerably reduce emission and noise volume when stopped in traffic. The expansion of our hybrid-electric truck fleet across Houston is a visible demonstration of our commitment to our local communities and customers.”

Lynch says the new fleet answers Mayor White’s call for local industries to be proactive in the search for alternative fuel sources.

Mayor White: “If we were able to use 32-percent less energy in our vehicles in this country, we would cut the energy consumption in this country between four and five million barrels of oil per day. That is equivalent to almost half a billion dollars a day that we’re sending outside this country. That is equivalent to about the twice the size of the largest oil field ever discovered in the United States of America.”

image of two coke trucks(engine starts)

Two of the new trucks were parked outside city hall. Lynch told me that this fleet is unique.

“The electric kicks in whenever we go between zero and thirty. So, when we start it up, you’ll hear the diesel, but after it starts idling.  It’ll go to electric, and it will stay electric anytime between zero and thirty miles an hour. Then, after you go over thirty, then it will kick into diesel.”

Mayor Bill White at a press podiumBack inside Mayor White says he can think of one city fleet of heavy duty trucks that could go hybrid.

“The solid waste fleet would be our number one target on that. There is a consortium of solid waste departments — of which Houston is a very active participant — but I’m pressing to do it faster and faster and faster. The faster that we can convert our fleet, the better off that we will be.”

The city estimates its current fleet of 500-hybrid vehicle saves 226-thousand gallons of fuel a year at a cost of over 800-thousand dollars.

Pat Hernandez, KUHF…Houston Public Radio News.