Saddle Creek Corp., a nationwide third-party logistics provider headquartered in Lakeland, FL, has invested in alternative fuel vehicles for its for-hire fleet by committing to the purchase 40 Freightliner natural gas trucks with plans to add 40 more in early 2012.

The company has invested in Freightliner’s Business Class M2 112 tractors that run on compressed natural gas (CNG) that the company said will produce near-zero emissions. Saddle Creek’s new tractors will reduce the fleet’s carbon footprint by approximately 103,000 lbs. per truck each year – the equivalent of planting 85,760 trees, according to a company annoucement.

The natural gas vehicles are also significantly quieter than their diesel counterparts. When idling, the entire fleet of 40 alternative fuel tractors will produce the same decibel level as just four diesel trucks – a substantial noise reduction, the fleet predicts.

“This is a significant day for us at Saddle Creek. We take pride in running our fleet efficiently and in being responsible corporate citizens,” said Mike DelBovo, president. “Because the cost of natural gas is less volatile than diesel, it allows us to have more control over our fuel costs and our customers to have a more stable fuel surcharge. Using this alternative fuel also reduces our dependence on foreign oil and puts cleaner, more environmentally friendly trucks on the road.”

“Freightliner Trucks is committed to providing our customers with green technologies that also offer superior productivity and efficiency,” said Robert Carrick, vocational sales manager – natural gas for Freightliner Trucks. “We are pleased that Saddle Creek has selected the Freightliner M2 112 CNG for its fleet, and are excited to work with the company to fulfill its goal of reducing its carbon footprint.”

Saddle Creek is expected to take delivery of the first 40 natural gas trucks by the end of the year and plans to be fully operational in early 2012. The trucks will be based in Lakeland and will handle deliveries throughout the Florida peninsula and southern Georgia.

To provide fuel for the trucks, Saddle Creek is building a CNG fueling station at the Lakeland headquarters – the first such facility constructed for a for-hire fleet in Florida. The contract to build and maintain the station has been awarded to Clean Energy.