UPS Inc., the nation's largest transportation company, said it has set a goal of logging one billion miles on its global road network by 2017 using alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles.
Atlanta-based UPS' objective is ambitious considering it had logged 295 million miles between 2000 and 2012 using a fleet comprised of all-electric, electric hybrids, propane, and lightweight body composites, among other conveyances. UPS' alternate fleet logged 49 million miles in 2012, up 43 percent from 2011, it said.
UPS owns more than 94,000 package cars and over-the-road tractor-trailers that operate across its global system. It also purchases an undetermined amount of transportation from third parties.
Steve Leffin, UPS' director, global sustainability, said the company's projections are based on relatively simple math and the power of compounding. Each of the familiar brown package cars travels, on average, 100 miles a day, while each tractor puts in about 600 miles, Leffin said. UPS can hit its goal by multiplying the vehicle miles driven by the size of its global network and the expected growth of alternative and advanced technology vehicles, he said.
UPS has nearly 2,700 of those vehicles in operation and expects to add 1,000 more over the next two years as it takes delivery of vehicles powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Leffin would not speculate on how big UPS' nontraditional fleet could become by 2017. The company's fleet growth would be driven by the market opportunities that unfold in front of it, Leffin said.
In its 2012 global sustainability report, UPS also said the use of "telematics" data fed through sensors embedded in its vehicles saved more than 1.5 million gallons of fuel by reducing more than 206 million minutes in engine idling time. In addition, the expanding use of technology to optimize driver routes increased per-mile pickup and delivery stops, saving 12.1 million miles of driving and 1.3 million gallons of fuel, UPS said.
According to Leffin, UPS saves $50 million a year in fuel costs for each mile saved by every driver across its global system.
UPS added that its airline operation, which accounts for 57 percent of its total carbon footprint, reduced its fuel use by 1.3 percent from 2011 levels.
UPS delivers about 16.3 million pieces a day across a global network of 220 countries and territories.