Palmetto Clean Fuels Coalition (PCF) has developed a Transportation Fuel Action Tool (TAT) for public and private fleets to help make decisions when it comes to purchasing new vehicles. In November 2016, in coordination with Greenlink and Piedmont Health Foundation, PCF worked to facilitate more informed discussions when fleets are acquiring new vehicles. The result of this coordination was a list of criteria for fleets to consider when purchasing vehicles and the impacts of various vehicles and fuels against those criteria. This tool was created with support from the US Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Coalitions in order to assist public and private fleet managers and other decision-makers. Fleet managers can make informed decisions using current fleet data, comparisons of alternative fuel vehicle acquisitions to their petroleum counterparts, and area-specific analysis. This excel-based evaluation tool, along with supplemental information, can be downloaded for free on the PCF website.
What’s unique about the Transportation Fuel Action Tool is that it takes into consideration both qualitative and quantitative data to address local barriers pertaining to alternative fuels. TAT utilizes several outside sources such as Argonne National Lab’s AFLEET tool and the US Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center station locator. The tool evaluates eight fuel options including biodiesel, compressed natural gas, diesel, electricity, ethanol, gasoline, hydrogen, and propane. Environmental, economic, and social impacts of each fuel are used to rank the different fuel types based on importance of evaluation criteria.
1. Fleet Audit
The first step in the TAT is to conduct a “Fleet Audit” using the AFLEET tool, which helps the user determine and assess the current impacts of their fleet. Conducting a fleet audit highlights those vehicles that may need to be replaced and their replacement options. This inventory of current fleet vehicles helps to evaluate costs and data related to fuel use, vehicle miles traveled, and air quality impacts. Fleet audits can also help determine vehicles that fleet managers should consider removing from the fleet. This includes vehicles that have low annual vehicle mileage or low fuel-efficiency.
2. Fleet Analysis
Step two, the “Fleet Analysis”, provides an objective evaluation using quantitative data from AFLEET and the AFDC. The incremental cost of an alternative fuel vehicle is taken into account in step two, but each factor is weighed equally. Rankings for each fuel type is based on the payback time, availability of infrastructure, and greenhouse gas emissions.
3. Motivational Analysis
The third and final “Motivational Analysis” is an opinion-based assessment of the current social climate and barriers pertaining to the use of each fuel type. This analysis assesses subjective criteria such as public opinion, community planning goals, and economic development. While step three can be skipped, it is highly recommended to complete it.
When completed, the TAT will rank fuel types based on the criteria that was compared. This exercise is not only helpful determining what fuel should be used, but a great way to begin a full evaluation of the efficiency of a fleet. The tool was built to be easy-to-use and fluid, allowing for the user to change evaluation criteria based on current circumstances.
James Keel, Assistant Director of Public Transportation with the City of Greenville says, “Greenlink looks forward to using this tool in the future. It’s simple and full of helpful analysis tools, making my decisions as a fleet manager a little easier.” To find our more and download the TAT, visit PalmettoCleanFuels.org/TAT.