North America’s top fleets have spoken, and their number one choice for greening their fleet operations is biodiesel. According to a new 2016 Fleet Purchasing Outlook study conducted by the NTEA, also known as the Association for the Work Truck Industry, biodiesel is now the most commonly used alternative fuel option on the market. Survey data shows 18 percent of fleets use biodiesel now, up from 15 percent in 2015. In terms of future alternative fuel interest, biodiesel also takes top honours, with more fleets planning to acquire or continue using biodiesel than any other alternative fuel option.
Each December, NTEA conducts a comprehensive Fleet Purchasing Outlook Survey to better understand the commercial vehicle landscape, including interest levels for advanced truck technologies and alternative fuels. The new survey results for 2016 were published in March and reflect positive trends for the use of biodiesel blends in the diesel vehicle technology of yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Spanning the United States and Canada, the 2016 Fleet Purchasing Outlook Survey respondents included a diverse pool of fleet professionals representing a broad range of fleet sizes, vehicle weight classes and vocational truck applications. From government and municipal fleets, to construction, delivery and utility sectors, to agriculture and private industry sectors, fleets from coast to coast are relying on the power and performance of biodiesel to get the job done.
“The evolution of alternative fuel technologies is still triggering change for vocational truck specifications,” said Doyle Sumrall, managing director of NTEA. “However, general interest has dropped in recent years due to persistently low oil costs and will likely remain muted until prices rebound. Despite current challenges facing the alternative fuels movement, fleet interest in biodiesel has remained strong, actually increasing in 2016 as compared to the previous year.”
Fleets are realizing that biodiesel continues to be an easy and cost-effective way to cut carbon and improve the performance and sustainability profile of their operations. That has certainly been the case for the City of Moline in Illinois, which has operated its full fleet of over 102 diesel vehicles and equipment on B20, a 20 percent blend of biodiesel with ultra-low sulphur diesel, since 2006. In everything from fire trucks and ambulances, to trash trucks and tractors, the B20 biodiesel blend has helped Moline enhance the performance and minimize the maintenance of its vehicles’ fuel systems, all at a lower cost than diesel fuel and without a single fuel-related maintenance incident in 10 years of use.
“Here in Moline, air quality is paramount to our quality of life. We made the switch to clean, domestically produced plant-based biodiesel 10 years ago, not only because it was a good choice for our fleet, but also because it was a good choice for our community,” said J.D. Schulte, fleet manager for the City of Moline. “My advice to other fleet managers is, if you are conscious of and serious about air quality and looking for an easy and cost-effective solution to make a positive difference in your community, biodiesel is a natural choice.”
Made from an increasingly diverse mix of resources such as soybean oil, recycled cooking oil and animal fats, biodiesel is a renewable, clean-burning diesel replacement that can be used in existing diesel engines. It is the first and only commercial-scale fuel produced across the United States to meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s definition as an advanced biofuel, meaning the EPA has determined that biodiesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50 percent when compared with petroleum diesel. In the Gross Vehicle Weight Class 5-8 vehicles that account for 92 percent of on-road diesel and biodiesel fuel use, nearly 90 percent of the medium- and heavy-duty truck OEMs support the use of B20 biodiesel blends.