The inaugural Mid-Atlantic Alternative Fuel Vehicle Roadshow concluded in Chesapeake, Virginia this past Friday following a four stop tour that began in Maryland’s Baltimore County and Montgomery County before traveling to Richmond and finally Chesapeake, Virginia. Though the attendance in Chesapeake was somewhat sparse (as opposed to the other sites), the roadshow was informative with a number of presentations covering the benefits afforded by vehicles that run on alternative fuels of compressed natural gas (CNG), electricity, propane, and biofuels such as ethanol (E-85). The event focused largely on CNG and electrics with several demonstration vehicles on hand. Among the vehicles on display were several dual-fuel utility vehicles and pickup trucks running on CNG or propane with gasoline or diesel backup. Two all-electric Nissan Leafs (provided by Hall Automotive) and one range-extended plug-in Chevy Volt (provided by the show’s producer, Joy Kramer) were also on hand. The Leaf’s were available for test drives under Nissan’s Ride and Drive program. Also on display was the Honda Civic Natural Gas, which for whatever reason garnered little to no attention. NextGenCar.com featured this vehicle in a previous article on this site.
The Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) Roadshow Tour was created by AdVentures LLC Principal, Joy Kramer, with inspiration from Georgia Public Service Commissioner, Tim Echols. The first tour was conducted in 2012 and, to date, has covered 47 cities throughout the southeast from Florida to Tennessee. The tour is set to expand as far west as Texas in 2015. AFV Roadshow partnered with Clean Cities in most of the states with major sponsorship from the likes of Nissan, General Motors, Trillium CNG, and efacec DC fast chargers. The tour is aimed at bringing education on alternative fuel vehicles to fleet managers who otherwise would not venture any great distance to attend conventions or seminars on the subject. The main purpose of the education is to extol the savings fleet managers can achieve by transitioning while, as a bonus, being environmentally responsible and meeting green initiatives that many corporations and public entities have put in policy. This fact is just another of the many examples of economic gains that can be had by adopting such environmental policies.
The presenters at the Chesapeake stop included Trillium CNG, Virginia Natural Gas, Nissan, efacec, Virginia Clean Cities, and fleet managers from Chesapeake and Luck Stone. Trillium’s presentation given by Regional
Business Development Director, Joe Rende, was interesting given the backdrop of falling oil prices aimed at squelching our domestic production from fracking operations. Nonetheless, CNG still offers fleet savings and is, of course, much cleaner burning.
Nissan’s presentation by EV Strategy and Business Development Manager, Cornelius Willingham, was well done and hammered home the benefits of using Leaf’s for fleet applications. It’s clear that Nissan understands the benefits as well as the limitations of the Leaf; focusing on developing EV charging infrastructure for the workplace and home (including multi-unit dwellings). Efacec’s Sales Manager, Mike Anderson, followed Willingham’s presentation with a discussion on their unique brand of fast chargers. Efacec focuses exclusively on DC fast charging and works with many of the larger networks such as ChargePoint and NRG’s eVgo. They offer a single charger that incorporates both SAE and CHAdeMO connections; one of the contentions of EV fast charging.
It’s a shame the Chesapeake show wasn’t as well attended as it could have. Hopefully, next year’s show will garner more attention through a wider diversity of promotion. But it underscores the difficulty in getting mindshare and buy-in from fleet owners on the use of alternative fuels. Although, no one alternative fuel can meet all applications, collectively they are far superior to perpetuating the use of gasoline and diesel. The line of the day underscoring this point came from Willingham, “If you haven’t driven an electric vehicle, then do so. It will shock you.”