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Fleets Put Biodiesel to the Test

Recent studies have shown that fleets using biodiesel have reported no significant differences in performance, maintenance, or fuel efficiency with biodiesel versus traditional diesel fuel.

March 2009, by Chad Simon

Propel Fuels has 11 Clean Fuel Points open at present in California and Washington state with aggressive plans to open more fuel points.

For just a few dollars more, business fleets are increasingly taking matters into their own hands when it comes to reducing their environmental footprint and stemming the flow of cash overseas for foreign oil. Biofuels, such as biodiesel and ethanol, are more readily available today than ever before and are derived from products grown by farmers in the U.S., including soybeans and corn. 

Recent studies have shown that fleets using biodiesel have reported no significant differences in performance, maintenance or fuel efficiency with biodiesel versus traditional diesel fuel. One such fleet is Gotcha2Look Marketing Inc. 

Outdoor Advertising on Wheels

Chris McKenna, president of Gotcha2Look Marketing Inc., a startup marketing and advertising company based in Sacramento, Calif., currently has one Isuzu NPR medium-duty diesel truck with a custom box on the back designed for a capacity of 30 scrolling billboards on three sides. 

The outdoor advertising company on wheels covers the South Placer section of the Sacramento market, and provides clients with billboard advertising directed to the customers they're trying to acquire. The billboards scroll behind the three-sided glass when in billboard mode, but when they're removed, the truck serves as a showroom on wheels.

Measuring the $2 Difference

Biodiesel wasn't available in the Sacramento area when McKenna took delivery of his truck. However, Propel Fuels, which owns and operates a growing network of clean fueling stations, brought B-20, a blend of petroleum diesel with 20 percent biodiesel, into the marketplace in January. 

Biodiesel currently runs about 5-10 cents more per gallon than regular diesel, according to McKenna. His truck operates 100 miles per day, is on the road six days a week and needs refueling two or three times a week. He says his fill-ups are costing him only $2 more than petrodiesel. 

"For $2, I get the satisfaction of knowing I'm doing things that are not only helping to create a little less impact on the environment, but also supporting my 'buy American' philosophy," said McKenna. 

McKenna feels that fleet managers who are not taking advantage of the benefits of biofuels are planning for a short-term gain, but a long-term loss. 

"I think we need to be a bit more mindful of how we're consuming resources in this country and how we're going to help not only the environment, but our economy in America, rather than spending so much money buying foreign oil," said McKenna. 

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