FedEx Freight kicks off beta testing for LNG-powered tractors

Company officials said that the pre-production engine used in these tractors is expected to be released in 2013.

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FedEx Freight, the less-than-truckload subsidiary of FedEx said earlier this month that it has kicked off beta testing for two new tractors powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG)-only engines. Company officials said that the pre-production engine used in these tractors is expected to be released in 2013, adding that it is the only all natural gas engine that begins to meet the size and power needs of Class 8 trucks.

FedEx Freight also noted that the tractors are at its Dallas-based service center and will be used as part of its linehaul operations and are expected to log about 1,000 miles per day, with this usage enabling FedEx Freight to test the engine’s ability to meet daily operational needs.

“FedEx continuously monitors and tests new technology to make our fleet more efficient,” a spokesperson told LM. “The debut of these two all-LNG powered tractors is an effort that has been two years in the making.”

When asked what drove the need for these tractors, the spokesperson explained that bringing these all-LNG powered tractors into the FedEx Freight fleet has been a long-term effort. She said the company’s goal is to provide excellent service to its customers while being conscious of its resources, including fuel, with the testing of these all-LNG engines is one example of that commitment.

The spokesperson also highlighted benefits that this effort brings to shippers.

“FedEx is committed to providing sustainable solutions for our customers,” she said. “Natural gas produces significantly lower amounts of emissions than traditional diesel, therefore it is a cleaner fuel option. And since natural gas is produced domestically, it reduces our reliance on imported petroleum fuels. Additionally, FedEx works closely with our vehicle manufacturers and utilities to bring more efficient and alternative fuel technologies to commercial reality, which can lead to further adoption of these technologies in the marketplace.”

In terms of next LNG-related steps for FedEx Freight, the spokesperson said that with such a large and diverse fleet, it is important that the company puts the right vehicles in the right places. And once it tests the all-LNG engines, it will have a better idea of whether they meet the needs of its operation, which she said will allow FedEx Freight to look at the benefits of investing further in this technology for its fleet.

A noted green supply chain expert said that this effort is a positive on multiple fronts.

“The announcement by FedEx regarding the testing of LNG powered tractors reinforces the fact that due to the availability of plentiful natural gas supplies within the U.S., well-led corporations are realizing that LNG is a game changer and they’re positioning their companies to reap the rewards,” said Brittain Ladd, global supply chain consultant for CapGemini Consulting. “I do not believe it is hyperbole to state that natural gas will usher in a sea change across the nation over the next 15 years that we haven’t witnessed since the discovery of oil. Just as petroleum was the impetus for the U.S. to become an industrial power so too will natural gas become the impetus for driving the U.S. to become the leader in the use of natural gas to power vehicles and power plants as well become the leader in exporting natural gas across the globe.”


About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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