Big Brown Adds a Little Green

UPS is using zero-emission vehicles in test areas

Big corporations are evil. We all know it. They’re ruining the world around us. And then something like this happens…

UPS is using zero-emission vehicles in test areas

Big corporations are evil. We all know it. We all scream from the rooftops any chance we get that they’re running (and ruining) the world around us. And then something like this happens to throw a wrench in our protests.

For the 2007 holiday season, UPS has adopted a small fleet of battery-powered vehicles from Zap (Zero Air Pollution). The three-wheeled Xebras run on six dry-cell batteries. The company claims these gems have a range of 25 to 40 miles after charging overnight in a conventional electrical outlet and a cost of merely 3 cents per mile. And (obviously) no emissions.

photo courtesy of

These buggies are not fast enough to use on the highway and they don’t have the safety features you’d want for an everyday ride. Still, for running errands I can definitely see these coming in handy. Where I live in Hoboken, many people are turning to alternative transportation for short hops here and there. Bikes, scooters and the like are showing up more frequently. There’s no doubt that the Xebra or Zap’s Zapino Electric Scooter can find a place in this mix.

As for UPS, this experiment is happening only in a limited area in California (Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Sebastopol, Sonoma, Novato, San Jose and Santa Cruz). They’ve set up distribution centers using portable storage containers to store packages. The Xebra drivers then pick them up for final delivery. At night, the vehicles are recharged at secure locations.

If proven successful, the company will expand their use to other areas and (hopefully) year round. With their low operational costs and ease of maneuvering in congested cities, I can’t see this experiment failing. Of course only time will tell, but so far the reactions of UPS drivers and customers in the test areas have been overwhelmingly positive.

So there you have it. A big, bad corporation actually doing something that helps the world. Oh sure, their inspiration is purely based on lowering costs and increasing efficiency, but who cares. If bottom-line business planning serves to help rather than hurt, I say go for it.

I’m not saying we should just take them at their word. There will always be reasons to police the workings of these mega-corporations. I’m just saying we should acknowledge when they do good. Then maybe they’ll continue to do so.

See Also:
Zap Electric Cars


3 Responses to “Big Brown Adds a Little Green”

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