Donlen Corporation and Sierra Club Launch “Cool Fleets”

Back in June, the Christian Science Monitor ran an article on the greening of car fleets. Partly to develop green cred, and partly to save money on gas, companies ranging from Abbot Pharmaceuticals (which has a big fleet for its salespeople) to Enterprise and Hertz are adding thousands of hybrids and flex fuel cars to their fleets. While they’ve had to literally beg for hybrids because of relatively limited production, automakers like Toyota are stepping it up to meet the demand of these big buyers.

That’s good news for both the environment and the future of green car manufacturing: because they’re buying in bulk, fleet owners and managers can give car makers an extra push towards developing and producing vehicles with higher fuel efficiency and lower emissions. Last week, Illinois-based fleet management company Donlen Corporation released, in partnership with the Sierra Club, its Cool Fleets web tool, which is designed to give fleet managers an extra push towards choosing more climate-friendly vehicles. Noting that fleet professionals need information about environmental impact in context, Donlen CEO Gary Rappeport claims that the Cool Fleets tool organizes this information in a manner that makes the benefits of greener cars obvious:

Fleet managers cannot make effective decisions in a vacuum. Simply looking at isolated carbon data will not provide the complete picture. With this calculator, carbon-conscious decision makers can now reach a conclusion that is well-received by an organization’s environmental and finance teams, just as our existing clients also use this resource. …

…the tool allows vehicle fleet managers to accurately determine and compare global warming and air pollution emissions, as well as fuel and maintenance costs for all types of vehicles. For example, the tool calculates that a hybrid vehicle can cost 22% less to operate, and emits 46% less global warming pollution over a three-year period, than the average mid-size sedan. In addition, the tool provides a financial analysis of carbon output and how it affects the organization’s bottom line.

Fleet managers can compare actual vehicles on a wide range of features, including fuel costs based on the actual price of gas in the user’s region. Just playing with the tool, I could easily see that while an ’08 Toyota Prius has a higher sticker price than a Chevy Malibu LS (both “large compacts”), the fleet owner would make up that difference in fuel savings… and also emit half of the greehouse gases. A no-brainer… right?

Those of us who are passionate about environmental protection tend to argue in those terms, as they’re meaningful to us. But business people, however green they may be, need the business case, and the Cool Fleets tool looks like it does a nice job of offering just that. Fleet managers can have their green cred without breaking the bank… what better example of a “win-win?”

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