Cox Enterprises switches to biodiesel hybrid vehicles

By Bryan Sims | September 16, 2008
In an effort to continue its transition toward environmentally friendly and fuel-efficient vehicles, Atlanta-based media company Cox Enterprises Inc. added nine International Durastar Hybrid Bucket Trucks to its vehicle fleet that are capable of running on various biodiesel blends. Cox Enterprises is one of the nation's leading media companies and an automotive services provider.

With the 13th largest fleet in the country, Cox Enterprises intends to replace its existing vehicles with more fuel-efficient hybrid models that will utilize battery power in conjunction with either B5 or B20 blends. The fleet is comprised of more than 15,000 vehicles, 257 of which are hybrids and 1,400 that are capable of running on biodiesel.

Supplied by Navistar International Corp., the new hybrid trucks will provide a potential fuel savings of nearly 60 percent in utility-type applications when the engine is turned off and electric power maintains operation of the vehicle. This capability makes the truck more efficient in standard driving, particularly in city and stop-and-go driving.

When a truck reaches a work site, the hybrid system can power the hydraulic pump that operates the aerial devices, such as overhead utility booms, and electric tools for up to two hours without the engine running, enabling the company to cut fuel use. The engine-off option during work-site operations further reduces noise and emissions, as well.

Navistar hybrid trucks employ a parallel through-the-road, diesel-electric hybrid design supplied by Eaton Corp. The company incorporates an electric motor/generator between the output of an automated clutch and input of the automated transmission. The diesel hybrid-electric system recovers energy during braking, called regenerative braking, which then adds power back into the driveline during propulsion and acceleration.

Navistar is a manufacturer of International-brand commercial and military trucks, MaxxForce-brand diesel engines, IC-brand school and commercial buses, and Workhorse-brand chassis for motor homes and step vans.

"Cox is taking a leadership role in the telecommunications industry when it comes to operating clean, green vehicles," said Jim Williams, director of new product sales and distribution for Navistar. "They'll save money on fuel, run quieter trucks and significantly reduce emissions in their communities."

The biodiesel hybrid trucks will be used by Cox Enterprises' multi-service broadband communications and entertainment subsidiary Cox Communications Inc. They will be used in these locations: Hampton Roads, Va.; New Orleans; Oklahoma City; Orange County, Calif.; Phoenix; San Diego; Springfield, Va.; and Rhode Island.

From 2000 to 2007, Cox Enterprises reduced its carbon footprint by 10 percent. The switch to using biodiesel hybrid vehicles falls in line with the company's national sustainability program, called Cox Conserves, which aims to reduce its carbon footprint by an additional 20 percent by 2017. "At Cox, we're exploring all options to lessen our reliance on traditional petroleum resources," said Mike Mannheimer, vice president and chief procurement officer for Cox Enterprises. "Through our Cox Conserves program, we are actively reducing our company's carbon footprint, and these trucks are part of the larger solution. Not only are they better for the environment, but they also reduce our overall fuel costs."
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