Golden Eagle Distributors has taken delivery of the first of 23 compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles being supplied by Ryder System.

The 23 vehicles will all be delivered before the end of this year and represents the entire Tucson, AZ, fleet for Golden Eagle, the exclusive distributor of Anheuser-Busch products, as well as other craft beers and imports in most of Arizona since its founding in 1974.

“We are always looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint, and with diesel fuel prices continuing to rise, the timing was right to convert our Tucson fleet to natural gas vehicles,” said Christopher Clements, CEO, Golden Eagle Distributors.

The CNG vehicles produce 95% less particulate matter, 80% less nitrogen oxide, and a reduction of 23% in greenhouse gas emissions compared to diesel engines, according to the U.S. Dept. of Energy.

“We are proud to be such a long-standing partner and thank Golden Eagle for trusting us with their business for 40 years,” said Robert Sanchez, president of Global Fleet Management Solutions for Ryder. “We are committed to continuing to provide Golden Eagle with innovative transportation solutions, such as natural gas vehicles, which not only help them achieve their sustainability goals, but also enable them to realize meaningful cost-saving and efficiency benefits.”

The Tucson fleet conversion is the first step in a comprehensive transportation plan that calls for the conversion of all Golden Eagle trucks in its six branches to CNG over the next several years. Following that, all its light-duty passenger vehicles will be converted to CNG as well.

The company is working on opening its own CNG fueling stations in Tucson, Casa Grande, and Buckeye. In 2010, the company was named Arizona’s Greenest Workplace in 2010 by Mrs. Green’s World, an environmental website that promotes global sustainability.