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Crunching data to save fuel
Crunching data to save fuel
Green star: Keshav Sondhi
Title: Chief Engineer, FedEx Electric Vehicle Program
Company: FedEx
Top 50 rank: 8

"What we try to do is figure out how to best use every truck in our fleet," says Keshav Sondhi, FedEx's Chief Engineer for its Electric Vehicle program.

Not every delivery needs a huge diesel-burning truck, Sondhi says, so the company tries to make sure that it's only using as much fuel as necessary to transport a given shipment. That can mean tapping into some of the company's 330 hybrid vehicles, when possible.

Some shipments don't burn any diesel at all. FedEx now has 19 electric vehicles in its fleet, currently on the roads in London, Los Angeles and Paris. FedEx plans to deploy more EVs in those markets this year, and in New York and Chicago. Those work just fine in an urban environment, says Sondhi, where the cars don't drive many miles and the frequent braking recharges the electric batteries.

The key to optimizing the FedEx fleet is to keep meticulous records of how much energy the vehicles use, says Sondhi. "We love information, we love data," he says. "We have a transportation business, and we know how constrained the fuel supply is going to be in the future. We keep metrics and try to understand how each and every asset is being operated."

Sifting through the numbers turns up even more ways to optimize, Sondhi says. "There are always opportunities."

NEXT: Getting customers out of hot water
Last updated March 03 2011: 3:01 PM ET
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