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Leading the way to greener travels
January 22, 2024

By James Logan Healthy Eagle staff | Imagine that you are in charge of a company that has 6,000 cars and vans that travel 425,000 miles every day.

But gas-powered vehicles release a lot of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which is not healthy for the environment. What can you do?

People at Quest Diagnostics thought about this question. And they decided to begin replacing their gas-powered fleet with electric vehicles.

The company now has six electric cars in Pennsylvania and nearby states, says Mike Marquette, a senior logistics manager at Quest. The company is adding more in the rest of the country and hopes to be fully electric by 2035.

Mr. Marquette says the company is making the change for a few reasons. Electric cars don’t release harmful carbon dioxide. Plus, Quest will save money because it won’t have to pay for gasoline, he says.

“We want to move with technology,” says Mr. Marquette, who manages Quest’s fleet in Pennsylvania and other mid-Atlantic states. “Technology is moving in the electric direction.”

Quest uses cars and vans to transport blood and other specimens from hospitals and doctors’ offices to its laboratories around the country. There, Quest lab workers run medical tests. The test results help doctors learn about their patients’ health problems.

To collect the blood and specimens, Quest drivers pick up samples 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Mr. Marquette says. A typical driver travels 90 miles a day, but some go 350 miles in a day, he says.

It will make a big difference when all the Quest vehicles are electric. Mr. Marquette says the company won’t need to buy about 25,000 gallons of gasoline a day. That means Quest will be saving about 10½ cents for every mile a car is driven.

But electric cars have challenges too. Mr. Marquette and his co-workers are testing the limits of these vehicles. Their batteries take 10 hours to recharge, he says. On the road, the car’s battery can drain more quickly when the air conditioner is used or the phone is being charged. If an electric car needs to be towed, it must be put on a flatbed truck or the charging mechanism in the car could be damaged, Mr. Marquette says.

What’s the next horizon for greener transportation? Mr. Marquette says the company is exploring using drones to collect and deliver specimens. “We are moving more and more into green initiatives,” he says.

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