FCA US LLC, a member of the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (FCA) family of companies, has invested $40 million in FCA Transport, the FCA US-owned truck fleet, to convert its 179 Detroit-based parts-haulers to run on compressed natural gas (CNG) rather than traditional diesel. The move gives FCA the largest private fleet of CNG-powered heavy-duty vehicles in the state of Michigan.
“Our transition to CNG reflects the way FCA US attempts to balance our search for profitability with social responsibility and community development, including environmental stewardship,” said Steve Beahm, Senior Vice President – Supply Chain Management, FCA – North America. “This project was a win-win-win – it offered a solid business case, clear environmental benefits and an opportunity to invest in our Detroit facility and workforce.”
FCA Transport, built in 1965, is located on Lynch Road in Detroit, just across from the Detroit City Airport. The Company spent $1.8 million to enable the 36,000-square-foot maintenance facility to handle the new CNG-powered fleet. The $5 million on-site CNG fueling station, designed and built by TruStar Energy, is the largest private CNG station in North America.
Prior to the changeover, the FCA Transport Detroit fleet used nearly 2.6 million gallons of diesel fuel per year while driving about 16 million miles to deliver parts to assembly plants from suppliers and FCA US component facilities. The company expects to experience net fuel cost savings of about 35 percent per year with the CNG-powered fleet.
Beyond cost savings, FCA Transport estimates the Detroit fleet’s transition to CNG will reduce CO2 emissions by more than 16,000 tons per year. This decrease is equivalent to the annual carbon dioxide emissions that come from burning more than 17 million pounds of coal, or the reduction of CO2 emissions from the annual energy use of nearly 1,500 homes.
FCA Transport’s transformation is a product of our dedicated, engaged workforce and close collaboration with the UAW,” said Marty DiFiore, Head of FCA Transport and Auto Transport Services, FCA US. “Today is the culmination of two years of research and planning, an extensive pilot program of CNG trucks and ongoing training of more than 6,000 hours.”
FCA Transport drivers and mechanics participated in extensive hands-on training to prepare them to drive, fuel and maintain the new trucks. It included maintenance, repair and operating courses taught by Cummins, Allison Transmission, Agility Fuel Systems and FCA’s own in-house trainers.
Agility Fuel Systems worked closely with FCA to provide their latest behind-the-cab fuel system with a capacity of 160 Diesel Gallons Equivalent (DGE) and an operating range of over 600 miles. Agility also took an active role in training their drivers and mechanics at their Detroit facility. “We are excited to see FCA Transport transitioning to CNG, and leading by example in reducing their environmental footprint while reducing their cost of operations. They are demonstrating with their actions their commitment to be great stewards of the environment,” said Scott Lucero, Vice President of Sales for Agility Fuel Systems.
FCA US has a history of being a pioneer in the area of CNG. The Ram 2500 Compressed Natural Gas truck is the industry’s first factory-built pickup powered by CNG, offering fleet and commercial customers the cost and emissions benefits of this domestically sourced fuel.
Bruce Winchester, executive director of the Canadian Natural Gas Vehicle Alliance (CNGVA), told TruckNews.com he thinks FCA’s decision could spur more Canadian fleets to convert. While there have been a few Canadian fleet conversions, Winchester said he thinks the Canadian trucking industry is “on the cusp of a pretty big push in Ontario around natural gas over-the-road trucking. We spend a lot of time doing outreach activities…there has been a lot of interest in it,” the article stated.
CNGVA is an affiliated association of NGV Global.
(Source: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.)