Manhattan Beer Distributors recently purchased 35 compressed natural gas (CNG)-powered Volvo VNM 200 model tractors for its New York City fleet. Manhattan Beer executives said they chose Volvo models due to the strong relationship with its dealer and because the VNM 200 – Volvo's regional haul daycab – offered the durability of a Class 8 model paired with the maneuverability necessary for urban deliveries.
"Volvo Trucks and Manhattan Beer share a concern for the environment and a passion for energy efficiency, so we are proud to help the company expand its fleet of natural gas-powered trucks," said Gӧran Nyberg, president of Volvo Trucks North America. "CNG is a great option for many local and regional operations like Manhattan Beer, and the CNG-powered Volvo VNM offers the best solution to fit their needs."
Founded in 1978 by CEO Simon Bergson, who also served as the company's first salesman and truck driver, Manhattan Beer Distributors delivers beer and other beverages throughout New York City. Manhattan Beer bought its first trucks powered by CNG in 2002. Today, the company operates 110 CNG-powered trucks in a total fleet of more than 500, which are predominantly medium-duty straight trucks.
The Volvo VNM 200 models, powered by 9-liter Cummins Westport ISL-G CNG engines, emit about 20 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than comparable diesel-powered models.
"We are doing what we think is the right thing to do," said Juan Corcino, director of fleet operations for Manhattan Beer. "CNG is the biggest part of our efforts in going green."
Manhattan Beer's Bronx, N.Y., neighborhood is home to the Hunts Point Produce Market, the world's largest wholesale produce market. Due to heavy truck traffic related to the market, various government agencies have focused on improving air quality in the Hunts Point area. Keeping the air clean and healthy in the South Bronx is one reason Manhattan Beer has been so committed to environmental care, Corcino said.
One of the keys to the purchase of the Volvo models was the local dealer, Milea Truck Sales, based in Bronx, N.Y. "Our Volvo dealer is very reliable, and we have a very good relationship," Corcino said. Milea Truck Sales, which has locations in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens, has sold and serviced a large number of alternative fuel vehicles.
The benefits of Manhattan Beer's new CNG-powered Volvo VNM 200 models extend beyond the environment.
"Drivers love them," Corcino said, noting the quietness of the ride. Drivers also like not having to deal with the emissions-related tasks that are required with diesel-powered trucks, he said. Freedom from the operation and maintenance of diesel particulate filters (DPFs) and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems played a major role in justifying the investment in CNG, Corcino said.
Manhattan Beer's new Volvo models also improve the company's freight efficiency. The company is using its single rear axle Volvo VNM 200 tractors with trailers that have 16 beverage bays to replace straight trucks with 10 beverage bays. In New York City, straight trucks are limited to 35 feet in length while combinations can run 55 feet. Manhattan Beer cannot cover a typical route with a single straight truck, but it can with a combination. The company specified the tractors with single rear axles to provide maximum maneuverability in challenging New York City distribution routes.
While the productivity benefits of the new VNM 200 models are not related to CNG power, they do help Manhattan Beer go green. Corcino said the company can replace two diesel-powered straight trucks with each CNG-powered tractor it buys.
Although the benefits of natural gas were enough to justify the investment in CNG, financial incentives have helped with the transition, Corcino said. Manhattan Beer has received funding in the past through the Hunts Point Clean Trucks Program. The purchase of the 35 Volvo VNM 200 models was supported by New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)'s New York Truck - Voucher Incentive Program (NYT-VIP), a partnership between NYSERDA, the New York State Department of Transportation, New York City Department of Transportation and CALSTART, a not-for-profit organization that promotes clean transportation technology and administers the NYT-VIP program. NYT-VIP helped cover the incremental costs of the first 25 of the 35 Volvo VNM 200 models, Corcino said.
Manhattan Beer has taken other steps to be environmentally friendly, including installing solar panels on buildings at its Bronx, N.Y., headquarters, LED lighting in its facilities and by eliminating almost all paper in daily operations.
Volvo offers CNG and liquefied natural gas (LNG) solutions for both the Volvo VNM 200 and the Volvo VNL 300, which is powered by the 12-liter Cummins Westport ISX12 G engine.
(left) Manhattan Beer Distributors' new natural gas-powered Volvo VNM 200 tractors are environmentally friendly, not only because of their lower carbon output relative to diesel, but because they can haul the same amount of product in fewer trips than the straight trucks the tractors are replacing. (right) Juan Corcino, director of fleet operations for Manhattan Beer, says that the operation, maintenance and driver satisfaction benefits of avoiding diesel particulate filters and selective catalytic reduction are a big part of the value proposition for the company's natural gas-powered Volvo VNM 200 models.