What Can Brown Do For The Air? UPS Rolls Out Hybrid Trucks

Some of those familiar brown UPS trucks you see around town are now more fuel efficient and easier on the environment. As Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams found out at a UPS distribution center in Stafford, new hybrid trucks are ready to hit the streets.

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It might be hard for you to tell the difference between the new hybrid vehicles and the normal ones you see on Houston streets and freeways. The only difference, on the new trucks you'll see the words low emission hybrid electric vehicle.

"The hybrid is two sources of power."

Cary Raines is the fleet supervisor at the busy UPS Center in Stafford.

"The vehicle has a generator behind the engine. It is capable of running off of just the engine only or it starts off with the generator. When you take off the generator is kind of like a golf cart as to where it powers up taking off at speeds. That's where the best fuel economy is on the acceleration when you take off."

There are six of the new hybrid UPS trucks in Houston, with six more on the way. The company is testing about 50 hybrids in different cities to see how they work. So far, the trucks are getting about 40-50 percent better gas mileage than diesel-only vehicles, which saves money for the company and is easier on the environment. Linda Adam is the vice president of operations for UPS in southeast Texas.

"Just like we've demonstrated with some of the vehicles we've already put in with compressed natural gas, liquid natural gas, we believe that we need to be a positive impact on the environment while we're out there delivering and we want to reduce the amount of impact we have on the environment. So while we're busy with the vehicles we also have many internal initiatives also that are going to support having a strong environment and UPS not impacting that environment."

Looking like a UPS delivery driver himself in a trade-mark brown shirt, Congressman Nick Lampson was the first to ride in the new hybrid in Stafford. He says this should only be the start of the company's efforts.

"I believe that government at this point in time has an obligation to make sure that they succeed with their efforts. Not everybody can do this because it takes a significant investment to do and I think those are areas that we must search for in government to make sure that if we can assist someone to take the step to make our environment a better place, to use less energy and to help increase our own security by reducing our international energy dependence, than I think that we do very, very good for all of us."

The new trucks will serve some of the city's high-density, low mileage routes.

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