New Orleans-based Crescent Crown Distributing, the country's fifth largest beverage distributor, has signed a full-service lease with PacLease for Peterbilt Model 335 Hybrids.

"The future is now when it comes to reducing fuel and being a good corporate citizen," said Rich Marchant, vice president of operations for Crescent Crown Distributing. "We expect to save up to 35 percent in our fuel bill with these trucks. And, down the road, that can make quite an impact as we typically buy more than 310,000 gallons per year for our delivery trucks."

The New Orleans-based distributor delivers 26 million cases a year of Miller and Coors products, along with Heineken, Crown Imports and smaller labels. With the order of three Peterbilt Model 335 Class 7 tractors, it has begun the move toward fuel- and emission-saving technology. Two of the Model 335s will be based in Crescent's Phoenix distribution center, serviced by Rush Truck Leasing, the local PacLease franchise, while the third unit will be based in New Orleans.

"We look at the hybrids as a way to be good corporate stewards in the reduction of fuel consumption and emissions while doing our part for the environment," Marchant said.

The hybrid diesel-electric Model 335 can help fleets reduce their carbon footprint through the significant reduction of vehicle tailpipe emissions of hydrocarbon by as much as 60 percent, carbon monoxide by about 50 percent, and nitrogen oxide by more than 40 percent. The hybrid truck uses an electric motor that works with the mechanical diesel engine to supply supplemental torque. The system stores energy during stopping through regenerative braking and then uses it for acceleration.

According to Marchant, the Peterbilt hybrids are projected to offer a positive ROI for the company over the course of the lease with PacLease. "Obviously the cost of a hybrid is more than a standard truck, but the payback is there when you consider the cost of fuel and the government tax credits. The key is putting the trucks to work in the right application where they can optimize their fuel-saving capability. We've identified stop-and-go routes where they're ideally suited."

The move toward hybrid technology was also softened thanks to service support through PacLease. "They know these trucks and the technology and are equipped to make sure everything is running properly," said Marchant. "Plus, they have safeguards in place with substitute vehicles should we need them. PacLease takes the worry out of moving toward the hybrids and we feel confident our level of service to our customers will continue to be outstanding with on-time deliveries."

With delivery of the hybrids expected in September, Marchant said drivers are already vying to get behind the wheel. "It's not just management who's excited to get these trucks," said Marchant. "Drivers are as well. They know the quality, comfort and ride of Peterbilt trucks. They're excited."