Alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) and advanced technology vehicles have gained much exposure and become more main-stream in 2008 as consumers become more educated on the technology and economic strains became more apparent due to our dependence on foreign oil and fluctuating gas prices. In particular, hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) sales have once again continued to increase as gas prices continued to rise to well above $4 per gallon during 2008. This main-stream exposure was evident by Honda’s hopes that hybrids will account for 10 percent of the company’s global sales by 2010, as well as, their introduction of their first hybrid-only model since the Insight which will be available in early 2009. Read more about this in the January/February/March eNews article “Honda Plans for New Hybrid.” The retail world has also grasped the importance of AFVs and shown their support by offering preferred parking to AFV’s as highlighted in the April/May/June eNews article “IKEA to Offer Preferred Parking for Alternative Fuel Vehicles.”
Automakers have begun to invest heavily in the next generation vehicle as noted in the eNews article “GE Invests In Next Generation Vehicle,” where General Electric (GE) recently announced an investment of $4 million in electric car maker Think and more than $20 million in lithium ion battery developers, A123Systems, with the intention of making electric transportation practical and affordable. This adds to GE’s transportation related contracts of working with the U.S. Department of Energy to develop smaller, lower cost, better performing motors for hybrid electric vehicles, developing advanced density capacitors, and building a hybrid fuel cell bus. The Orlando International Airport has also taken a huge step to introduce the average consumer with hydrogen powered vehicles with the implementation of shuttle vans that run on hydrogen and the implementation of a new website launched by the National Hydrogen Association as part of a nationwide campaign to help to increase the knowledge of hydrogen. Read more in the 2008 eNews articles “Hydrogen Engines Tested in Florida” and “National Hydrogen Association Launches Alternative Fuel Web Site.”
Biodiesel has been a continued hot topic throughout 2008. At the fifth annual National Biodiesel Conference and Expo in Orlando, FL, this past February, industry experts predict that biodiesel use will grow to one billion gallons a year in the next few years and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced during 2008 their decision to invest over $33 million for four projects, all of which focus on making advancements in biofuels production technology. Read more in the previous eNews articles “Biodiesel Provides Promising News” and “U.S. DOE Invests Millions on Biofuels Advancements.”
In addition, the NAFTC attended and/or exhibited at many events this year. Some of them include:
The NAFTC conducted numerous training activities in 2008, including trainings for “First Responder Safety Training- HEV,” “Light Duty Natural Gas Vehicles,” “NGV- Cylinder Inspection,” and more. Another highlight of the NAFTC this year included the introduction of several new curricula products including the “First Responder Safety Training- Hydrogen Vehicles.” This training was first offered at the NAFTC “Clean Air and Energy Independence” Conference in Asheville, NC with great success. With the theme of “Exploring Innovations in Next Generation Vehicles,” attendees, including Clean Cities Coordinators, industry leaders, and government officials were provided with the latest information on alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles.
The NAFTC welcomed members of the popular public television show, MotorWeek, in conjunction with U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) representatives, as they completed emissions testing and fuel economy comparisons on multiple alternative fuel and conventionally fueled vehicles. The testing referred to as the ” Clean Power Drive” began in Frederick, MD and concluded at the NAFTC Headquarters in Morgantown, WV. For additional information read the April/May/June article “NAFTC Headquarters Welcomes DOE/MotorWeek.”
Finally, the biggest AFV event for 2008 was the NAFTC’s biennial installment of National AFV Day Odyssey. This year’s event was the most successful Odyssey ever attracting 90 host sites and over 150,000 attendees in 41 states, the District of Columbia and Canada! The national media kick-off event for this year’s National AFV Day Odyssey took place at Nashville Auto-Diesel College in partnership with the Clean Cities of Middle Tennessee. The spectacular three-day event showcased AFVs, industry experts, displays, a career fair and much more. The spokesperson for the 2008 event was country music superstar and AFV advocate Michael Peterson. He delivered an inspirational speech to a packed audience supporting the work that still needs done and commending the work that has been done in the advancement of alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles. To learn more about this nationwide event dedicated to promoting alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles, read this month’s featured eNews article, “2008 Odyssey Surpasses Goals and Breaks All Records!” Additional information is also available at www.nationalafvdayodyssey.org.