Britain’s light commercial vehicle (LCV) operators have been urged to explore environmental initiatives by the head of one of the country’s largest fleets – Tesco.com.
Dino Papas, fleet and equipment manager at Tesco.com, the home delivery branch of Tesco, said his experience so far with environmentally-friendly technology was extremely positive.
Now he is urging smaller van fleets to take up the green challenge as, he said, such a move will not only save cash but will also help provide valuable PR for the firms concerned.
Mr Papas said: “We run 2,000 vehicles, mainly Mercedes-Benz Sprinters, and have 6,000 drivers. We wanted to create a low-carbon operation, a decree which came down from our chairman Sir Terry Leahy, and we’ve been looking at various ways of using less fuel, which helps us and helps the environment too.
“We started by putting speed limiters in our vans, we are adding telematics systems and have improved our schedules.
"We’ve also bought 15 Modec electric vehicles and are in talks with Smith Electric Vehicles about trialing the Edison van.
"We are looking at ways of reducing our dependence on diesel. We don’t have all the answers but we have to try different things.”
Mr Papas said he would also be looking to trial the new CNG-powered Sprinter when it arrives in right-hand drive early in 2009.
He suggests that smaller LCV fleet operators can take some easy steps now.
“Small fleets obviously can’t go to the lengths that Tesco has done but there are lots of simple things that can make a difference,” said Mr Papas.
“For example, fitting speed limiters doesn’t cost a lot of money and will be guaranteed to reduce fuel usage.
"Telematics systems will also improve efficiency for a reasonable outlay.”
And there’s a side issue too, he said, which couldn’t be factored into the business equation, but which was nevertheless important.
Mr Papas said: “We get great positive PR from our green initiatives.
"More and more people are beginning to be genuinely interested in green issues and they want to buy from a company that is environmentally friendly.”