By 2020, FedEx Corp. expects to boost the fuel efficiency of its FedEx Express vehicle fleet by 20% or more – part of a broad effort by the company to reduce both petroleum-based fuel use and pollution levels across all of its divisions.

“We really see this effort as a ‘win-win’ both for the environment and for our bottom line,” Mitch Jackson, director of sustainability for FedEx, told FleetOwner. “For example, reducing fuel consumption by our ground fleet saves us money, but it also reduces pollution and smog, too.”

Jackson also noted that the 20% fuel efficiency target laid out in FedEx’s “2008 Global Citizenship Report” will not be a result of just one or two changes to its ground fleet.

“The simple answer is that there is no one single solution to achieve this gain,” he said. “It’s going to come from the use of more hybrid vehicles, route optimization, and vehicle deployment decisions. For example, we’re going to assign the most fuel-efficient vehicles to specific routes – in some cases replacing larger vehicles with smaller ones to better match capacity needs in those lanes.”

As a result of those efforts, more than one-fourth of the FedEx Express fleet has been converted to smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles, saving more than 45 million gallons of fuel in the past three years, he said.

Adding more hybrids to the ground fleet will also drive fuel savings, Jackson pointed out. FedEx Express vehicle has boosted fuel efficiency by 13.7% since 2005 by using diesel-electric hybrid delivery trucks while reducing vehicle carbon emissions by almost one billion lbs. The company’s most common hybrid – the E700 – uses 42% less fuel than comparable petroleum-only models, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 25% and cutting particulate pollution by 96%.

“The key going forward is to manage all of this strategically,” Jackson said. “Our report shows our stakeholders how we’ve made gains to date and how we plan to make them in the future. It lays out how we’ll achieve our goals. For us, these initiatives are not a new thing – we were a charter member of the EPA’s SmartWay coalition, for example. What we’re doing now is setting specific targets we want to achieve – from fuel savings to pollution reduction – for the future.”