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  • Disappointed {govt. bi-fuel vehicles did not use CNG}

    I am on my sixth CNG car and am just a little confused about government participation in CNG . Five of the cars are Chevrolet bi-fuel Cavaliers and one is a Honda GX. The GX doesn't apply in this rant but the Cavaliers sure do. Three of the Cavaliers came from the state of Connecticut, one from Piedmont Gas, and one from the GSA. The cars had between 41 and 70 thousand miles one them. I have a GM Tech2 scan tool and am therefore able to read the miles driven by fuel type for the life of the vehicle. With the exception of the Piedmont Gas company Cavalier, none of the four government cars had ever been driven on CNG! What a waste of the taxpayer's money and a missed chance to promate CNG by the government. Why buy the vehicles if you don't intend to use them on alternate fuel? Why didn't the cars go to areas where CNG was avaliable? Why weren't fueling facilities built for these vehicles? It seems to me like more government show (we are doing the right thing) and less desire to change (we are going to the gasoline pump like always). If government employees were actually using CNG, they might tell their friends about it and generate some interest. I live in Florida and have seen Cavaliers and Contours owned by state and local governments that are bi-fuels that have no place to fuel--more waste. With gasoline prices falling, no one in the government is going to promote CNG again until it is too late. We've tried it in the past and it just doesn't work out will be the stock answer. Well they really haven't tried it have they . Rant over

  • #2
    Re: Disappointed

    Wow. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Using CNG requires some effort, and why make an effort when you don't have to. I'm sure the people driving these cars only complained to their friends about how small the trunk was.

    The GSA didn't care about whether alternative fuels were used, just that they bought a certain percentage of Alt Fuel vehicles. And now that automakers can get away with E85 cars (basically their standard gasoline cars with a few changes) they have abandoned the other alt fuel systems.
    02 GX
    01 GX
    03 Crown Vic
    06 GX
    Home Fueler

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    • #3
      Re: Disappointed {govt. bi-fuel vehicles did not use CNG}

      It would seem to me that the fleet managers were just checking a box. They were required by their management to order so many "alternative fuel" vehicles. So without any further research or education on the matter, they just ordered what was in the pipeline at the time. They did not educate their vehicle operators on how to use the CNG system.
      Jared.
      Mountain Green, Utah
      2003 CNG Cavalier
      2003 CNG Silverado 2500HD

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      • #4
        Re: Disappointed {govt. bi-fuel vehicles did not use CNG}

        Yes I have to agree with the state and goverment having fleets of CNG vehicles with little use. I have spoken with fleet workers in Sacramento and they are required to keep a certain number of alternative fueled vehicles in the motor pool. (Per Arnold the Governator)

        The guy stated no one wanted to check out a dedicated CNG vehicle because finding fuel was always an issue. He also said they had some small dodge or chrysler mini vans (cargo) that none of the state workers wanted to use (onsite) because it was hard to load from the rear because the cng cylinder was in the way (even having the CNG station onsite).

        I also was able to notice that 95% of the Bi-fuel Cavaliers I have sold seen very little use on CNG fuel with the exception of the ones that came from PG&e and SoCal Gas. Those that ran gasoline came from the state or federal goverment (military based units).

        The good is that those buying them now have basically new (NOS) CNG systems with little use.
        (ie, clean CNG fuel systems & cylinders with no dirty compressor oil in them)

        Maybe the only way to get state and goverment employees to change their habits is to replace all the motor pool vehicles with dedicated CNG vehicles. I believe once they become educated on how to use them and where the fuel stations are they would go with the flow. (maybe even buy their own personal CNG vehicle)
        Last edited by CNGCARS; 11-05-2008, 12:37 PM.
        Mario
        AAA CNG SYSTEMS
        CSA Certified CNG Cylinder & Fuel System Inspector

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        • #5
          Re: Disappointed {govt. bi-fuel vehicles did not use CNG}

          I am still surprised that my local Riverside Transit Authority still has a fleet (about a dozen) cars that run on gasoline with CNG right there at their disposal. You would think that at least one of the bus drivers would consider CNG with the pump in the parking lot they park in. They (RTA) did purchase an 08 GX which I never see there anymore. I still haven't seen anyone fueling there in a few months, except last week the school buses slow fill compressor died and they were all lined up to fill. They said they have 36 CNG school buses now.
          BLUE 09 GX

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          • #6
            Re: Disappointed {govt. bi-fuel vehicles did not use CNG}

            It really only makes sense for fleets to pay the premium on initial cost if the vehicles will be getting a lot of miles, or are poor mileage vehicles to begin with. That's why most city-fleet use of CNG is in Busses, Garbage Trucks, and Street Sweepers. It's where the payoff make the most sense. Even the typical city work truck is only gonna put 20-25 miles on it in a work day, so the loss of cargo/tool space, is not worth the trade-off at the moment.
            Also realize that most fleets also have their own Gasoline fueling facilities, and are paying wholesale prices for gas, so the payoff is slightly less that it is for us per gallon.
            1997 Factory Crown Victoria w/ extended tanks ~~ Clunkerized!
            2000 Bi-Fuel Expedition --> ~~ Sold ~~ <--

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            • #7
              Re: Disappointed {govt. bi-fuel vehicles did not use CNG}

              The same kind of thing is probably happening with E85 vehicles. They buy them to satisfy the 'alt fuel' quota but then don't have an E85 pump for the fleet and there are few E85 pumps around. I had an E85 rental car in Lincoln NE last summer and was a little shocked to discover that there are only 2 E85 pumps for a city that size in the middle of the corn belt. And, no price advantage -- E85 gets about 20% less mileage and costs about 20% less than gasoline.
              02 GX
              01 GX
              03 Crown Vic
              06 GX
              Home Fueler

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Disappointed {govt. bi-fuel vehicles did not use CNG}

                Originally posted by freedml View Post
                The same kind of thing is probably happening with E85 vehicles. They buy them to satisfy the 'alt fuel' quota but then don't have an E85 pump for the fleet and there are few E85 pumps around. I had an E85 rental car in Lincoln NE last summer and was a little shocked to discover that there are only 2 E85 pumps for a city that size in the middle of the corn belt. And, no price advantage -- E85 gets about 20% less mileage and costs about 20% less than gasoline.
                California's Gov. Schwarzenegger is fond of telling everyone how many E85 vehicles the state uses in Sacramento. What he omits is the fact that the overwhelming majority will never run on E85. As I recall it's the same old problem, nowhere to fill them.

                And people crow about how we should skip CNG vehicles on our way to energy independence because there's nowhere to fill them.

                Bill

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                • #9
                  Re: Disappointed {govt. bi-fuel vehicles did not use CNG}

                  I would guess that many people, not just government people, would use the gasoline over CNG if they weren't paying for it, even if the cng was readily available. It's less hassle. I also suppose these people would really grumble if they were given dedicated vehicles they had to start using CNG all the time.
                  It was sort of like when I was a kid and had to mow the lawn without getting paid. I never could get the mower started.
                  However, if these people had bi-fuel vehicles as their personal vehicles, they would probably run them on cng all the time. It's just human nature and I suppose I may be the same, except for some reason I like filling CNG. (Could it be the price of cng which I just noticed tonight went down from .88 to .80.
                  I have a bi-fuel F150 and I all but panic when the green light is off. It's really hard to run the tank of unleaded through we are supposed to every 60 days to keep the seals good.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Disappointed {govt. bi-fuel vehicles did not use CNG}

                    It definitely a challenge to find some CNG stations for the first time. Sort of like a scavenger hunt. And sometimes it takes downright stubbornness -- my favorite was Rancho Cordova. It just isn't marked at all and it's way off the street. I drove back and forth about 5 times before I finally ventured back far enough in the right driveway to find it.

                    After you know where they are, then it's a challenge to overcome stations which are down or have low pressure. A game in a bi-fuel, a matter of cutting it close sometimes in a dedicated vehicle.

                    Then there was the time my wife went to 3 stations (using the booklet -- this was before cngprices.com) to find 1 had disappeared and 2 weren't working before she ran out of gas and called AAA. They went to 2 or 3 more before finally finding one that worked. It was a long night!
                    02 GX
                    01 GX
                    03 Crown Vic
                    06 GX
                    Home Fueler

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Disappointed {govt. bi-fuel vehicles did not use CNG}

                      It's these groups, and the gathering of the talent that happens here that leads to innovations like cngprices.com. As a group we support each other to whatever extent we are able. We all have talents that can be brought to bear on the challenges that we meet every day.

                      I've never understood those that use the forum format as a place to whine and gripe about the way things are, rather than viewing it as a wealth of resources that, with the proper vision, could be brought to bear to make our lives better... a community with a common goal. Kinda like the John F Kennedy speech, "Ask not what my country can do for me..." Many of the amazing talents in this community have stepped forward to do numerous things to better the whole.

                      Some moderate the forums to make sure you get solid information, where just a few years ago when I went looking for info, there was no information. My hat is off to the Moderators of this site who volunteer their time, information and energy to everyone here to make sure you have all the info you need.

                      People like Todd, John and the rest who took a simple idea and found a way to turn it into what we have today, the beginnings of a global community with a common interest, a common goal. As we grow and others bring their talents to bear, we will have it easier, the system will get better, the gaps in resources, information, infrastructure, funding resources, etc will finally disappear.

                      We are the ones who lead the way, blaze the trails and make it a reality. Many here, like cnghal, afvman, larrycng were doing the trail blazing back when Fred Flinstone had the only AFV on the road, and have brought us to where we are today. Mike, you think you had an adventure finding a working gas station... these guys were doing it 15 yrs ago... and they aren't complaining about the way it is today... it's just an opportunity to nurture it along to the next level.

                      We welcome contribution in whatever capacity you have, frankly I could use a good "white paper" writer to give me a bit of a hand right now. Who knows, you might have the next talent, or idea, that takes our community to the next level. So, what can you do for your community?

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                      • #12
                        Re: Disappointed {govt. bi-fuel vehicles did not use CNG}

                        Curtis,

                        I want to agree with you AND disagree with you. I agree that we all need to stop complaining because in the end, these are all small problems that can be easily overcome. As my drill instructors used to tell us, there are no problems, only opportunities.
                        This brings me to my disagreement, airing issues and dirty laundry in these forums helps get the gripes out in the open. That is very constructive if we have the right folks reading the posts. As you said, we have a lot of talented people on these boards that have a lot to give. When I air a problem, issue, or concern on these boards, I always get a response. However, many times, I never post my issue, becuase I search first and usually find the answer because someone else had the same issue.

                        Learning from yur mistakes makes you wise. Learning from other's mistakes makes you damn smart!

                        Frank Q.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Disappointed {govt. bi-fuel vehicles did not use CNG}

                          Curtis, I think the last post-er missed the message in your post. Something I didn't tell you on the phone earlier tonight is that we appreciate all you have done to advance the future of NGVs. We all have to join together and do what we can to at least get the awareness out. I still have not got a single person to get a NGV, but even my 84 year old father considered a Crown Vic, but wont give up his 740IL. I've driven it and it is nice, We need to stick together and get an infrastructure going, Blythe is a good start, then Needles AZ, Flagstaff AZ, stations to make it up the I-5 corridor north of CA, and strategic locations along all the major interstates, starting with the ones that have fueling locations that people use. Hopefully with this new administration coming things will happen quicker and we will not have to rely on Pickens to make things happen. OK my rant is over, I just want to drive to Seattle or Phoenix without being towed.
                          BTW: that Beemer my dad has is the first foriegn car he has ever owned, as well as my Civic is the first foriegn car I have ever owned.
                          Last edited by jetboatjohnny; 11-08-2008, 12:01 AM.
                          BLUE 09 GX

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                          • #14
                            Re: Disappointed {govt. bi-fuel vehicles did not use CNG}

                            I appreciate the nod Johnny. This conversion away from petrol is like the labor portion of giving birth... slow and sometimes painful. Getting people to open their mind to something they aren't familiar with is an uphill battle. We're spoiled by cheap oil, entrenched in vehicles and mentalities that are unsustainable, and too many are just as content to nurture the status quo.

                            In regards to your desire to develop the major arteries of travel; this is a item which is being heavily strategized by Clean Cities right now. With AB118, we will have $75 million dollars to invest in alt fuels this year (2009), and nearly double that next year. Arterial development projects are a strategy we're looking at focusing our energies on. We are actively seeking such projects for funding.

                            The money has to be spent on projects like infrastructure, R&D, outreach and education, and the list goes on. Activities like the re-vitalization of the Natural Gas Vehicle Technology Forum on November 19-20 at SEMPRA Energy, The Gas Company's® Energy Resource Center in Downey, California will help to bring better focus on what the priorities are.

                            Frank, I agree with you that identifying the needs can be done constructively on these boards. It's likely the frustration of things not developing quickly enough for our "immediate gratitude" societal mentality that leads to the non productive complaining that we sometimes hear. We want it and we want it now! Heck, some of the old timers in this forum wanted it 30 years ago, but the country has to want it before it will see rapid deployment. I think $4.50 a gallon gas came closer to making that a reality than anything that's happened in the last 25 years.

                            The current economic situation has unfortunately stolen the spotlight away from the momentum we gained with gas prices and Pickens plan, and dropping oil prices has lowered the temperature of the fire we once warmed our aspirations on, but we have made serious inroads in this past year. Our economy can be rebuilt on the technologies that must be employed to break our oil addiction.

                            Our once solid foundation of perpetually cheap oil has been fractured, never to be solid and secure again. With our hard work, encouragement, votes, and a strong energy policy in Washington, a stronger, more sustainable foundation can be laid to replace the old... and the whole thing pivots on whether we can get Johnny's dad out of his cushy bimmer, figuratively speaking.

                            We continue to carry on, one foot in front of the other. We educate those who are blindly unaware, we do our cruise-ins, expo's, community outreach, write our congressmen and senators, join our local Clean Cities chapter and support their efforts... and the list goes on.

                            This isn't a 42" plasma TV that we can just flip the channel on and everything just comes up cng. This is a war. It's a struggle just like heroin addiction, meth addiction, tobacco addiction... it's oil addiction, and we need to kick the habit. I don't give a damn if gasoline is $1 a gallon... I still won't give up the ngv... for gods sake, just say no!

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                            • #15
                              Re: Disappointed {govt. bi-fuel vehicles did not use CNG}

                              Originally posted by freedml View Post
                              The same kind of thing is probably happening with E85 vehicles. They buy them to satisfy the 'alt fuel' quota but then don't have an E85 pump for the fleet and there are few E85 pumps around. I had an E85 rental car in Lincoln NE last summer and was a little shocked to discover that there are only 2 E85 pumps for a city that size in the middle of the corn belt. And, no price advantage -- E85 gets about 20% less mileage and costs about 20% less than gasoline.
                              According to the Energy act of 1992, and other subsequent energy policies that have come down the pike since, State, Federal, and some other fleets are required to purchase a percentage of alt fueled vehicles by law. They have steered away from cng since the OEM's dropped out of the game but find E85 a convenient loophole.

                              Those same fleets are then allowed to file for a waiver if there is not a "convenient" source of fuel to put in the vehicles, regardless of fuel type. If I recall, convenient means a 5 mile radius from home base. Strangely enough, EPA is one of the worst about getting waivers. Clean Cities is looking to partner with fuel providers in areas that would put them in strategic positions to these fleets to void the waivers and force the use of alt fuels. It's great for the station that puts in an E85, or biodiesel pump outside the gate of a military base (as an example) because he's guaranteed a return on his investment.

                              If you're aware of a strategic location near a state or federal fleet which has these vehicles, and a willing party to invest in the equipment... could be a gold mine. Partnering with the local Clean Cities office would be helpful in making it all happen.

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