A group of truck fleet-owning companies that collectively owns 275,000 vehicles is scheduled to get a gold star from the president today, as part of the administration's Clean Fleets Initiative. FedEx, UPS, AT&T, PepsiCo, and Verizon are the charter members of a group that is pledging to reduce its collective petroleum consumption by more than 7 million gallons a year.
Through the magic of hybrid vehicles, mostly, these companies will be given backslaps and encouraging words from the federal government for doing the thing they are already required by law to do — make money and generate shareholder value by, for example, saving money on liquid fuels.
Many of these companies were already all over this whole "cutting costs" thing. Not mentioned in the program is Coca Cola, which already has the largest fleet of hybrid trucks in the U.S. That mantle used to belong to early adopter FedEx.
Even Walmart, which all of a sudden loves the planet (if not the women who live there), has been testing hybrid versions of the biggest trucks on the road.
So what's new here? We're not sure. Unlike the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Clean Fleets Initiative doesn't involve any monetary incentives for reducing fuel consumption.
Maybe this publicity photo of the president looking thoughtfully at a plug-in hybrid Ford F-550 is all we can ask for:
Except wait, that image is from 2009.