French Fry Trucks

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With gas prices as high as they are, wouldn�t it be nice to put vegetable oil in your tank?
Here�s one company that�s doing just that.

>>Ted Simmons:
With gas prices as high as they are, wouldn't it be nice to put vegetable oil in your tank? Well, reporter Christopher Conover shows us one company that's doing just that.

>>Christopher Conover
Conover: Looking for a quick bite to eat and you dash into a Carl's Jr., maybe grab some fries. But that snack is doing more than filling you up; actually it's filling up the cars and trucks that keep Carl's Jr. running in Arizona. That's because the fleet runs on vegetable oil.

>>Jason LeVecke:
What we actually did is set up a little mini vegetable gas station at our offices. So all of our employees that are out in the field using our vehicles, our regional managers and our repair maintenance technicians, are out there for meetings once a week will fill the tank. If during the week they need to refill they come back to the office, we have it set up and they can refill there. In an emergency we instruct them to go to the grocery store and buy vegetable oil and pour it in your tank. It's always fun to fill your tank with vegetable oil while people are watching in amazement that you're pouring vegetable oil in your vehicle.

>>Christopher Conover:
The idea of running the corporate vehicles on used French fry oil came after reading a newspaper article.

>>Jason LeVecke:
I thought at first this had to be some hippies in their backyard running oil through a sock and it would be really difficult to handle and do. I told our fleet manager, let's just try it. Because it's interesting enough. If it works it really could save us money. It's great environmentally. It's great for our national security. And it's great for our economy. So I said, it makes a lot of sense for us from a business perspective so let's do it. We converted one vehicle. To my surprise it's relatively easy and runs great.

>>Christopher Conover:
And convincing some of the employees took a bit of doing.

>>Jason LeVecke:
Their reaction the first day, they thought they we were crazy. Absolutely. But they just as passionate about it as we are now. Once you really start using this you really get galvanized by it because you start realizing the benefits and you keep looking for something that must be wrong about it. We haven't found anything. Everything about it is a positive.

>>Christopher Conover:
At this point about 20% of the fleet runs on French fry oil, but by 2010 the fleet of nearly two dozen will be operating on what makes lunch for many people, and company officers say that's just good business.

>>Jason LeVecke:
We're saving money. Yeah. In our case we're using our used vegetable oil. We just filter the vegetable oil that we normally waste. And we're filtering that and put it in the vehicles. So we have right now -- we spend about close to $100,000 a year on fuel and diesel fuel, unleaded. Now we're using our used vegetable oil. So it's definitely a money saver for us.

>>Christopher Conover:
Jason says he hopes more people and companies spend the 700 to $2,000 it takes to convert a vehicle to rung on vegetable oil. He says it's 100% renewable fuel that even seems to be good for the vehicles.

>>Jason LeVecke:
You got the same power, the same mileage. There are a lot of people out there making the case that it's actually better for your engine because diesel or fuel is corrosive by nature. Whereas vegetable oil acts as a natural lubricant. So it actually extends the life of your vehicle. So in later years where you'd normally get worse gas mileage on fuel, they believe it will get better mileage on the vegetable oil.

>>Christopher Conover:
Of course, walking by one of the trucks may make you hungry.

>>Jason LeVecke:
We do have people saying they smell the French fries as we drive by and everything else. So yeah, you're burning vegetable oil that in our case was used to cook French fries. So you definitely get a smell of French fries when you're near the vehicle.

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