Ryder System delivered five natural gas-fueled delivery vehicles to Dean Foods, Ryder's first customer for natural gas commercial vehicles made available through Ryder's agreement with the San Bernardino Associated Governments in Southern California.

The $38.7 million effort is part of a joint 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 System. The Ryder/SANBAG project includes 202 natural gas vehicles, upgrades to three maintenance facilities for the proper servicing of natural gas vehicles, and the construction of two fueling stations.

Dean Foods is a dairy processor and owner of one of the largest refrigerated direct-store delivery distribution networks in the food and beverage industry. The Ryder natural gas vehicles are the first of their kind in the Dean Foods fleet, and produce up to 27 percent less greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional diesel vehicles. Ryder delivered the compressed natural gas trucks to Dean Foods' Alta Dena Dairy division in Southern California in early June.

The five single-axle tractors pull 28-foot delivery refrigerated pup trailers. Dean Foods expects a smooth integration of the new vehicles with minimal impact on current operations. The company anticipates adding more CNG vehicles to its fleet in the future.

The CNG vehicles support Dean Foods' Smart Fleet initiative, an enterprise-wide effort to "green the fleet" by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants through delivery route optimization, new technology, and equipment and training for drivers. Smart Fleet activities, including the new Ryder vehicles, play a role in meeting the company's carbon reduction goals. Dean Foods has committed to reducing its carbon footprint by 20 percent by 2013.

With 6,000 refrigerated trailers, 3,000 refrigerated delivery trucks, 2,000 delivery tractors and 6,500 daily routes for direct store delivery, Dean Foods is the eighth largest private carrier in the country.