Size does matter, especially when you’re going green. They say “good things come in small packages.” Today, everything seems to be shrinking in size, including our service vehicles. I was somewhat awestruck when Ford started marketing its Transit, a small van to accommodate the needs of big city parking restrictions and improved gas milage. I see a lot of them in the Big Apple. They do offer a large cargo area in a small box with a shortened wheelbase. But a New Jersey based company, Fridgefix Refrigeration Service, says, “wait a minute, is that our only choice?” Fridgefix’s primary clientele resides in Manhattan where parking is not just a major concern, it’s a fight to the death, a real challenge, on a good day.
Smaller and more efficient service vehicles can add to your profits if you are willing to “step outside the box.” As we enter this new economic phase, which seems to be limping along like a snail in a hurry, we can turn our attention to streamlining our businesses, improving the environment and bumping up our bottom line.
With the average price of gas at $4.00 a gallon, fuel economy is a primary purchase decision for most of us, not just because fuel prices are too high, but because the “knot” of tough economic times makes every dollar count. And we must also not lose sight of the concern about global warming and what we can do individually to contribute to its demise.
Smaller service vehicles not only save fuel, they weigh less and cost less to maintain, e.g., a set of tires can last 50-60 thousand miles instead of 30-40 thousand for a larger vehicle. They are easier to park and cost less to manufacture because they use less material, and that’s good for the environment. And since they have a lower retail value, insurance is likely to be reduced.
Today, our choices are limited. Extended-range electric vehicles, hybrids and clean diesel are becoming more mainstream, and natural gas (NGV) with its clean combustion, abundant supplies and home fueling potential is also a great option. But these technologies are not readily available in most major markets, so don’t wait for them to present themselves to you. Now is the time to think ahead and act before the next economic cycle begins.
Fridgefix has purchased a new Scion IQ, a micro four-seater, (see fig. 1) and converted it into a roomy service vehicle by removing the passenger and rear seats, (see fig. 2) providing ample room for equipment and parts to satisfy the majority of service-related needs. It has the capacity to hold three fractional horse-power compressors, two evaporator coils, a refrigerant recovery system, a large toolbox for sealed system repairs, three large containers for parts, and an array of tool bags, as well as a portable hand truck with still room for more (see fig. 3). One small drawback is its small gas tank which has a range of approximately 250 miles necessitating more frequent stops at the filling station.
With the vehicle weighing in at a mere 2100 lbs. and averaging 37 MPG in the city,
the owners, Ernesto and Christina Rueda, are saving over $500 per month on fuel costs from what they previously had paid with their Chevy van. And there are additional perks: parking spaces are easier to find and parking fees have all but disappeared. If you’ve ever worked in a big city you know that getting to the job is half the battle. Time spent on finding a place to park eats up a good part of the day. And saving time, like saving money, increases the profitability of your company.
In conclusion, a smaller vehicle is a good investment. It’s politically correct, it makes sense and it’s the wave of the future. The ROI (return on investment) can be enormous, not just for us individually, but for the entire service industry.