Green is the name of the game for many fleet mangers across the U.S. as they integrate alternative fuels and other management technologies to meet sustainability or management goals, whether those include reducing greenhouse gas emissions, cutting dependency on foreign oil or correcting risky driving behaviors. With the continued emergence of alternative fuels, several cities are stepping up — in many cases playing catch-up to the perpetual beating of innovation’s drum — to reduce the gap in needed infrastructure that will not only keep alternative fuel powered vehicles running, but make alternative fuels a viable and cost-effective option for local jurisdictions.
In all, according to the Alternative Fuels Data Center, 22,642 alternative fuel stations exist in the United States, with electric taking the lead with more than 15,000 electric stations and almost 40,000 charging outlets. Hydrogen stations — in case you were wondering — trails behind with only 33 stations, largely based in California. In November 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration unveiled 55 routes that will serve as the basis for a national network of “alternative fuel” corridors spanning 35 states. Currently the network is nearly 85,000 miles long; however, FHWA aims to add more miles to accommodate electric, hydrogen, propane and natural gas vehicles.
As then U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx stated in a press release, “Alternative fuels and electric vehicles will play an integral part in the future of America’s transportation system. We have a duty to help drivers identify routes that will help them refuel and recharge those vehicles and designating these corridors on our highways is a first step.”
The city of Grand Rapids, Mich., has been one of many cities to unroll needed infrastructure, with electric vehicle charging stations being one investment. In 2011, the city spent approximately $18,000 to install five electric vehicle charging stations and partnered with ChargePoint, which manages the stations and processes users’ purchases. While the city is currently accessing the actual amount of use the charging stations see, Parking Manager Josh Naramore expected use by the city’s fleet to grow in the next several years, according to MLive.
Other cities are also expanding the number of alternative fuel fueling stations — some private, others open to the public — and in many cases are partnering with third-parties to do so, or with other nearby governmental jurisdictions. And with those expanding fueling networks, maintenance of said stations becomes an integral part. Writer Barb Sieminski zooms in on CNG station upkeep in her article this month, located on page 20.
Other topics covered this month range from the advantages of propane as an auto gas and elements of a successful take-home vehicle program to what trends are being seen in fleet management. We will also share educational resources for first-responders to prepare for accidents involving alternative fuel vehicles. As Lauren Caggiano noted in her article, by 2040, nearly 11 percent of all light-duty vehicle sales will be alternative-fueled vehicles, meaning it is a likely scenario that first responders will receive a call to an accident involving an AFV. While AFVs are no more dangerous than gas or diesel vehicles, they do require some additional knowledge. Read more on page 46.
Also, fleet managers don’t forget to mark your calendars for NTEA’s The Work Truck Show, which is in conjunction with the GreenTruck Summit, March 14-17, in Indianapolis, Ind.; and the NAFA Institute & Expo, April 25-28, in Tampa, Fla. Both are perfect opportunities to network, see the latest in fleet technology and equipment while also attending educational seminars. As Kent State University Fleet Superintendent John Croop pointed out in our personality profile this month, his network through NAFA “is probably one of the most important benefits of my career in fleet management.”
I hope you will find this issue to be informative and helpful. Have a good start to spring!