Frito Lay has been steadily making inroads on sustainability throughout their operations. Beginning in late 2010, they launched an innovative electric fleet of delivery vehicles around the U.S., and have steadily been building out the fleet in key markets since then.
EarthTechling recently sat down with Frito Lay’s National Fleet Sustainability Manager, Steve Hanson, and his regional Pacific Northwest counterpart, Rich Wilson, to talk about everything from how these vehicles have boosted internal morale to whether you might buy an extra bag of Doritos once you get a look at one of them.
EarthTechling (ET): Start at the beginning and tell us how this program got off the ground. Why big electric vehicles?
Frito Lay (FL): Part of our objective at Frito Lay/PepsiCo has been broad corporate sustainability, a program going back really to the late 90s that’s primarily centered in manufacturing. On the fleet side, when fuel hit three and four bucks-a-gallon people started getting really serious about fleet sustainability. So we set some internal targets and now we’ve got public targets surrounded around turning down our on-road fuel usage by 50% by 2020.
ET: How many trucks are you guys rolling out across the country?
FL: Last year we ended up with 176 on the road in the U.S. and Canada, and then we’ve placed our next order for 15 and those should hit the road in the first quarter.
ET: Have you guys done calculations on your end about when it becomes cost effective? Or is it more for you guys a strategic environmental target that you’re trying to hit?
FL: Certainly one of the points of emphasis in all our sustainability activities is we are a publicly traded company. We do have to answer to shareholders at the end of the day so we’ve never tried to be green for the sake of being green. Certainly along with that comes the whole green-washing piece and the token purchase and press release. That’s really not the emphasis of what we’re trying to do.
We definitely need to see an economic return on the purchase. It’s a capital intensive project. The particulars we wont go into, but its a fairly manageable number that’s well within the capability of the vehicles, of the battery pack, the size of the purchase – if we’re hitting a number between 35 and 42 miles per day then that puts us where we need to be to hit our cost goals.