Fleet of alternative fuel vehicles proves innovative cars not just for retail
Alternative fuel vehicles and equipment were on display Friday at the University of North Florida. The fast-charger station is able to recharge an electric battery in 15 minutes instead of 4-6 hours. Photos by Joe Wilhelm Jr.. Purchase this photo
The Leon County School System has purchased Thomas Built buses with compressed natural gas fuel systems because of cheaper fuel costs and the longer lives of vehicles compared to buses with diesel engines. Photos by Joe Wilhelm Jr.. Purchase this photo
by Joe Wilhelm Jr., Staff Writer
Alternative fuel vehicles were on display Friday at the University of North Florida’s University Center as part of the Florida AFV Roadshow and Educational Tour.
The Public Service Commission partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program to offer a vehicle showcase and series of presentations on the economics and practicality of implementing alternative fuel transportation solutions for industry and government, using vehicles with alternative energy sources.
The tour includes stops in Palm Beach County, Tallahassee, Tampa, Sarasota, Orlando and Daytona.
“We know that natural gas is a U.S. product. It’s here. It’s ours and it’s less expensive (than oil), so that is a huge opportunity for us,” said state Rep. Lake Ray (R-Jacksonville).
The tour introduces vehicles that use CNG, also known as compressed natural gas; LNG, referred to as liquefied natural gas; propane; electricity and biofuels.
The road show displayed how alternative fuel vehicles are being used beyond the realm of retail consumers.
The Leon County School System has purchased compressed natural gas school buses after learning of the cost savings on fuel, compared to diesel engines, and the life of the vehicle.
The industry for electric vehicles is developing fast-charge stations that will be placed in strategic locations in the community.
“We’ve located them at Walgreens and Whole Foods stores. Studies have shown the average customer spends about 18 minutes in a Walgreens and that is plenty of time to get a full charge at one of our stations,” said Mike Anderson of Efacec USA Inc.
Currently, the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi MiEV are the only cars that have the fast-charge capability. All vehicles are equipped to be plugged into their residential electrical systems, but the fastcharge devices require higher voltage and different equipment to accept the charge.