May 26, 2011 at 3:33 PM ET
UPS, the package-delivery company well known for its brown trucks and the brown uniforms worn by its employees, is testing next-generation delivery trucks that are a shade greener.
The prototype trucks from Utilimaster / Isuzu have composite body panels that make the trucks about 1,000 pounds lighter than the comparable P70 diesel package car on the road, which should result in fuel savings.
The trucks are powered by a four-cylinder diesel engine and should achieve a 40 percent increase in fuel efficiency. The company wants to deploy them on high-mileage routes to take advantage of the fuel savings.
UPS has put five of the trucks on the road at various locations around the country to see how they perform in a variety of road and climate conditions from the rough back roads of Nebraska to the desert heat of Arizona. The test will run until December.
The prototype truck does have less cargo space compared to the P70, but this could actually make it more suited to narrow city streets, the company notes in a video of the innaugural test drive below.John Roach is a contributing writer for msnbc.com. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by hitting the "like" button on the Cosmic Log Facebook page or following msnbc.com's science editor, Alan Boyle, on Twitter (@b0yle).