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December 08, 2020   |   Diesel Technology Forum

Policy Insider

Warp Speed Vaccine Deliveries and the Holidays Rely on Diesel Power

Diesel fuel is nearly ubiquitous as it is offered at all truck stops and travel centers and half of all retail fuel locations as well as private fleet fueling facilities. Winter weather conditions will be no match for diesel technology since it performs in any weather condition where other new emerging technologies may have limitations in range and wait time for fueling. Thanks to diesel fuel’s energy density and the diesel engine’s efficiency, diesel commercial vehicles have the longest range of all solutions.


The COVID-19 Pandemic has severely strained the nation’s goods distribution system. During August 2019, 16.1 million people shopped for groceries online, according to the Brick Meets Click/Mercatus survey. In June 2020, the number jumped to 45.6 million. This seismic shift strained the nation’s trucking and package delivery systems to stock grocery stores with essentials.

And now even a bigger test awaits, delivering a lifesaving vaccine to over 300 million people. To a large extent it will rely on the nation’s trucking network. And that network is up to the challenge thanks to diesel power, keeping critical supply chains moving for decades and most recently, ensuring essential goods are available during the pandemic. Today, the fleet of commercial vehicles is predominantly powered by diesel engines and fuel with nearly all – 97 percent – of the fleet of tractor-trailers being powered by diesel.

The two COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved through Operation Warp Speed will require speedy delivery after production. Special handling may be required through constant cold temperatures from the production line to health centers. Cold storage transportation will involve specialized containers loaded with dry ice to maintain the extreme cold temperatures. Diesel is also a prime technology that powers many of the “reefer trucks” and refrigeration units on these vehicles to make sure the cold chain is never broken.

Time and reliability will be of the essence in handling and distribution of these life-saving shipments. Diesel fuel is nearly ubiquitous as it is offered at all truck stops and travel centers and half of all retail fuel locations as well as private fleet fueling facilities. Winter weather conditions will be no match for diesel technology since it performs in any weather condition where other new emerging technologies may have limitations in range and wait time for fueling. Thanks to diesel fuel’s energy density and the diesel engine’s efficiency, diesel commercial vehicles have the longest range of all solutions.

No other fuel or technology type has a more extensive global goods movement network of trucks, trains, ships and planes that will meet this challenge all the while continuing to deliver essential goods and the expected increase in online shopping for gifts for the holiday season. The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) alone is ready to deliver more than 28 million packages per day between Dec. 16-21 and will average 20.5 million packages per day through the remainder of the year.

With a projected 800 million package deliveries between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, the Postal Service delivers more packages to homes than any other shipper.

UPS is sticking with its forecast of holiday shipments of more than 750 million package deliveries between Thanksgiving and Dec. 31, a 5 percent increase over last year. And FedEx, with reported record package volume on Cyber Monday, Dec. 2, moved more than 33 million packages through their global network on that day alone.



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Key Contact

Ezra Finkin
Director, Policy
efinkin@dieselforum.org
301-668-7230

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