FCA US LLC has announced that it 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) in place of traditional diesel. This strategic change gives FCA the largest private fleet of CNG-powered heavy-duty vehicles in the state of Michigan. This program launch is part of a strategy of profitability through social responsibility to the community and environment said FCA officials.
“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.”
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.
The program is not just about cost savings as FCA Transport estimates the environmental impact of 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, says FCA.
FCA Transport, in operation since 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, according to FCA.
“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.”
According to FCA, company 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.
FCA US has a history of being a pioneer in the area of CNG from the product side as well. The Ram 2500 Compressed Natural Gas truck, introduced in 2012, 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.
Source: FCA US