Ryder System, Inc., a leader in commercial transportation and supply chain management solutions, announced it has been selected by 99 Cents Only Stores to provide a full service lease for 40 compressed natural gas (CNG) tractors to replace diesel tractors in the retailer's fleet. The natural gas-powered vehicles were made available through Ryder's natural gas vehicle project agreement with the San Bernardino Associated Governments ("SANBAG") in Southern California, and will replace the majority of the retail chain's current delivery fleet. The contract with 99 Cents Only Stores is Ryder's single largest lease agreement for CNG vehicles to date.
This deal, made possible by the $38.7 million Ryder/SANBAG project, is part of a public/private partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy, the California Energy Commission, the Southern California Association of Governments Clean Cities Coalition, and Ryder. The project includes 202 natural gas vehicles to be deployed into Ryder's Southern California operations network, upgrades to three maintenance facilities for the proper servicing of natural gas vehicles, and the construction of two fueling stations.
"With the support from SANBAG to help offset some of the acquisition costs, we'll be able to take advantage of natural gas as a fuel source, which is a less expensive, cleaner, and less volatile fuel than diesel," said Eric Schiffer, CEO of 99 Cents Only Stores. "Not only will this allow us to have a quieter, cleaner-burning, and more neighborhood friendly fleet, it will also help us improve the efficiency of our transportation operations, which is an important part of our strategy to continue providing our customers with great value."
SANBAG President Janice Rutherford said, "The groundbreaking and innovative public-private partnership between SANBAG and Ryder is helping reduce harmful emissions and our reliance on imported oil by providing the backbone infrastructure needed to spur the use of natural gas powered vehicles in the Inland Southern California region."
99 Cents Only Stores has already taken delivery of 31 CNG vehicles and will place the remaining vehicles into service over the next several months. The 40 CNG units will operate throughout the Greater Los Angeles area, carrying out store deliveries and vendor pickups, and will be serviced at a local Ryder facility. Under the full service lease agreement, Ryder will provide ongoing maintenance for all 40 vehicles.
"We chose Ryder for a number of key reasons, none more important than our confidence in their capabilities to provide maintenance for the new CNG engine platform and their commitment to service, which is particularly critical when dealing with new technology," says Jim Parros, Sr. Vice President of Logistics for 99 Cents Only Stores.
Commenting on the lease agreement, Ryder's President of Global Fleet Management Solutions, Dennis Cooke, said, "Some of the heavy duty natural gas vehicle technologies available on the market today can be just as effective as the more traditional diesel engines but also provide a significant environmental and cost benefit. We're honored to have been chosen by 99 Cents Only Stores as their fleet partner and look forward to working with them to help them reduce their carbon footprint and achieve their cost reduction goals."