The introduction of composite materials to replace metal components in trucks has resulted in UPS improving its fuel efficiency by 40 percent, the company said in a statement.
UPS plans to purchase 150 plastic-laden vehicles after testing five CV-23 composite prototypes. It tested five CV-23s during a year-long pilot program to determine their structural integrity, durability, and maintenance and repair characteristics.
The vehicles, nicknamed the "plastic" trucks, weigh roughly 900 pounds less than UPS' other fleet vehicles. The trucks are expected to be put into use in the fourth quarter of this year.
According to UPS, the trucks are very durable, work well in harsh climates including colder places where corrosion from road salt is a problem, and are easy to repair because they are built in a modular fashion. The company said it sees savings on par with alternative fuel vehicles. However, the plastic trucks don’t come with as many of the infrastructure and production issues as alternative fuel vehicles have.
UPS plans to test out larger, heavier composite vehicles starting later this year.
Other freight transportation companies may soon follow UPS and to become part of a U.S. Energy Department program to provide up to $14.2 million in funding for fuel-saving projects, including those using new materials to decrease vehicle weight.