Veritable Vegetable (VV), a distributor of organic fresh fruits and vegetables throughout California and parts of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada, has recently purchased four new Kenworth hybrids to complement its 22-vehicle fleet.

Using grant money from the California Hybrid Vehicle Incentive Program, VV recently purchased four new Kenworth hybrids—three T370 tractors and one T270 straight truck. They join a fleet that also includes a pair of Sprinter vans, Freightliner M2s, and Peterbilt 385, 386, and 378 models. A fourth T370 hybrid is on order from NorCal Kenworth. In all, the fleet travels about 1.75 million mi. annually, making payback on the hybrids very attractive to Tom Howard, transportation systems manager.

“The owners [of VV] are very progressive, and if I can show a reasonable payback [they will support the initiative],” Howard told Fleet Owner. “A lot of freight fleets are very quick to look at the bottom-line numbers, and many times the smaller fleets don’t have the time to look at and analyze the numbers.”

The hybrid straight truck is expected to reduce fuel consumption by 35.9 gals. per 1,000 mi. run, the company says. The average straight truck covers up to 60,000 mi./year. The fuel reduction on the hybrid tractors is expected to be 58.5 gals. per 1,000 mi. According to Howard, the average hybrid is costing the fleet about $37,000 more than a traditional diesel-only vehicle, but between the grants and tax credits available, as well as the fuel savings, a return on investment could be as soon as two years for each vehicle.

The hybrid tractors should yield a 25% fuel economy improvement and the T270 hybrid is expected to provide nearly 30%.

Started in 1974, VV is said to be the nation’s oldest distributor of organic produce. It purchases its products from nearly 350 different produce vendors, 75% of which is generated from customers located in California. The company, whose employee mix is 75% female, claims that 97% of its products are “certified organic,” so keeping the truck fleet as environmentally responsible as possible fits within the overall VV sustainability goals.