WASHINGTON,  (AP) — Pressing his energy policy goals, President Barack Obama on Friday prodded large companies to modernize their shipping fleets with more fuel-efficient vehicles, improvements that he said would reduce U.S. dependency on foreign oil and cut down business overhead costs in the long term.

The president ventured to suburban Maryland and toured a UPS shipping facility, where he examined all-electric as well as hybrid vehicles used by companies such as AT&T, Verizon and PepsiCo. Obama launched a new public-private partnership designed to help large commercial fleets cut back on their diesel and gasoline use.

Noting that the he already has a goal of purchasing only fuel-efficient government cars and trucks by 2015, he said: “If we’re going to upgrade all of America’s fleets, our businesses need to step up, as well.”

The stop represents Obama’s second energy-related event of the week, an effort by the White House to respond to rising gasoline prices by placing a focus on Obama’s long-term energy strategies.

On Wednesday, the president called for a one-third reduction in U.S. oil imports by 2025. His energy proposals include boosting domestic oil production, increasing the use of natural gas and alternative fuels and making cars and trucks more efficient.

Obama blended his energy message with an economic pitch that took note of new jobless numbers Friday that showed the unemployment rate at a two-year low and new private sector hiring.

“We have to keep the momentum going,” he said. “Making the transition to a clean energy economy will help us do that.”

While saying a shift to fuel efficiency will result in long-term cost savings, the higher tech vehicles do cost companies more money up front. Obama at one point in his tour asked how much more UPS has to pay for the hybrid truck itself, as opposed to a conventional one. He was told it costs twice as much — and uses one-third of the gas.

Obama was joined in Landover, Md., by Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

According to the Energy Department, more than 3 million commercial vehicles used American roads in 2009, guzzling nearly 4 billion gallons of fuel.

UPS, FedEx, PepsiCo, AT&T and Verizon are charter members of the public-private partnership. They are five of the 10 largest commercial fleets operating in the United States.

The five companies have made a commitment to use 20,000 fuel-efficient vehicles with an estimated fuel savings of 7 million gallons of diesel or gasoline a year. The White House says that together the companies operate more than 275,000 vehicles.

The Obama administration is encouraging large companies to use more efficient vehicles and to upgrade their fleets with vehicles that use electricity, natural gas or other alternative fuels. The partnership gives companies the opportunity to undertake group purchasing and to collaborate with the Energy Department for technical assistance.

With a laugh aimed at the two Cabinet secretaries with him, Obama added: “And Chu and LaHood will also come and wash your car or truck. Wasn’t that a part of the deal?”

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Comments (6)
  1. Bernard Mc Kernan says:

    All we need now are jobs to afford them.

  2. Sick of stupid says:

    HHHHMMMM…Instead of focusing on cars Mr. President, howabout we take care of some real issues….homelessness, seniors who can’t afford their medicine, children with no food on their tables, unemployment…and here is an even more novel idea…I was talking about our own country not some third world country that would not help us out if we were all dying……

  3. Jackie says:

    We you can hardly afford gasoline, do you think we have the funds to now purchase another vehicle

  4. think says:

    You guys are nuts! Yes there are other issues this country is dealing with but how can doing something that conserves energy, protects the environment and breaks the grip that foreign oil has us be bad? It is no different than wind and solar power. Yes there is an up front cost but it is the long term we have to look at. If someone said that you could buy an HVAC system that would save you 50% on your electric bills wouldn’t expect it to be free would you? No you are investing in futre returns. If no one pushes these ideas they will NEVER happen!

    1. Sick of stupid says:

      I am not saying that it is a bad thing but I am saying that our president should be a little less concerned with what car we all drive and a little more concerned about what is going on in the world. Maybe if he looked in his own back yard and realized that schools in DC are the worst schools in the country, that there are homeless people, kids fighting for a meal and families trying to keep their heads above water in OUR country I would be a little more tolerant of this waste of time on his part. But the fact that every third world country in the world is getting a piece of my tax contribution while people in OUR country are suffering and our president wants to push cars….get a job as a car salesman and let us get a competent president.

  5. whatnow says:

    Being Green looks good on paper, but it is out of reach finally to probably 80% of the people in this country! Look at light bulbs. The ones burning a toxin in your home (mercury) that are supposedly better cost 3 to 4 times as much as a regular bulb. I hear come January 1st, most of the regular bulbs will be history. We have Jeffrey Immelt to thank for that. You know, the guy who ran GE, the company who paid NO taxes last year even though that had a $5 billion profit, the company that owns NBC and MSNBC that spews the Green movement, the same man now of the governments council to create jobs even though GE sent more than 300,000 jobs overseas in the last 5 years. When you perfect the Green initiative and make it affordable to all Americans without ripping us off, then talk.

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