The oil crisis of the 1970s prompted automotive manufacturers to produce smaller, more-efficient vehicles. With the “muscle car” era coming to an end due to increased fuel costs and these vehicles achieving only 13 to 15 mpg, people began to shy away from gas-guzzling road monsters to drive more-compact, energy-efficient cars. In this past year, similar circumstances have occurred. Gas prices have been on the rise due to the war in the Middle East and the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina and the other powerful storms.
Many people believed that the war in the Middle East would destroy the world’s oil infrastructure, and another oil crisis would grip the nation. Hurricane Katrina cut the domestic oil supply in half by destroying several oil drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. These two events occurring around the same time caused a spike in gas prices to more than $3.00 a gallon. Just like in the 1970s, many Americans began abandoning their gas-guzzling SUVs for alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) and advanced technology vehicles.
Drivers of these more energy-efficient vehicles are reaping the benefits of reduced fuel costs compared to the cost of driving an SUV, which on a good day may achieve 17 mpg in the city whereas a hybrid, for instance, achieves 55 mpg or more. Flex-fuel vehicles that run on E85; propane-, biodiesel-, or natural gas-powered vehicles; and electric cars are all helping drivers save money on fuel. The upcoming year should prove interesting as an increasing number of AFVs and advanced technology vehicles become available, ethanol production is on the rise, and Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel Fuel allows for more diesel vehicles to be produced, which may mean larger quantities of biodiesel being used.
The widespread adoption of these new technologies has sparked an interest in training from fleet companies, technicians, first responders, and consumers. The National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium (NAFTC) provides a wide range of training, from one-day workshops to full-length train-the-trainer courses. For more information on NAFTC training opportunities, visit www.naftc.wvu.edu, or contact us at 304-293-7882.