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Delivery companies switch to hybrids

Coca-Cola this week introduced them in New York in a bid to save fuel and cut emissions.

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Every day, Coca-Cola trucks slowly weave their way through New York traffic, eventually stopping at up to 18 grocery stores, restaurants, and bodegas. As a truck makes a delivery, the engine idles, burning fuel and spewing fumes.

But as of Wednesday, Coca-Cola Enterprises started to do things differently in New York. It is using hybrid delivery trucks, which operate just like the cars, using a combination of batteries and horsepower. When the trucks are unloading, there will be no fumes and idling diesel engines.

Instead, the shiny new red-and-white trucks will have 32 percent better fuel economy. And the hybrids' greenhouse-gas emissions will be 90 percent less than those from regular trucks, according to the manufacturer of the new vehicle.

"It's a small step, but it's one of those steps that if we keep taking, we will be leaving a better world for our kids," says Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Coca-Cola's transition to hybrid trucks is part of a push by urban delivery companies to cut their greenhouse-gas emissions. As with the hybrid cars, demand for the green trucks is so strong that companies such as Coca-Cola are willing to pay a 35 to 40 percent premium over the cost of a normal delivery truck. Both FedEx and UPS are also building hybrid fleets in urban areas. In return, the companies cut their fuel consumption.

"You get a return on the investment, but more importantly, it's the right thing to do," says John Brock, president of Coca-Cola Enterprises in an interview at the company's giant distribution center in the South Bronx.

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