The obvious path to those goals is combination of hybrid electric vehicles and natural gas-powered trucks (both are technologies that the company is exploring). But UPS is also going for a more revolutionary solution: The shipping giant is testing plastic trucks that are supposedly both lighter and more fuel efficient than their sheet-aluminum counterparts.
According to UPS, the diesel trucks come with body panels made out of ABS plastic, which makes them 1,000 pounds lighter than standard trucks. This lightness--and the smaller engine it allows--makes the trucks 40% more fuel efficient, a feature that could save the company 84 million gallons of fuel each year if the technology becomes widespread.
Why isn't UPS ditching diesel altogether for more efficient alternatives? UPS does actually operate 1,900 alternative-fuel vehicles, but the company claims that their fuel systems aren't efficient enough for high-mileage routes. The UPS company blog explains the strategy with a convoluted Star Trek analogy:
Wondering what to look out for when a plastic UPS truck rolls down your street? Check out the truck below (hint: It looks a lot like a regular UPS truck).