Clean Vehicle Solutions LLC, based in East Brunswick, NJ, is one of a consortium of companies positioning themselves to serve the East Coast market for fleet vehicle conversions to natural gas, providing an "end-to-end" solution for government and private companies to make the switch to compressed natural gas (CNG) that on average will cut their emissions by 30%.
The company recently had bids accepted by the New York State General Services Administration (GSA) to do CNG conversions on a variety of passenger cars, sport utility vehicles, passenger and cargo vans and pick-up trucks. Under the three-year contract any state agency or local government entity can buy converted vehicles from Clean Vehicle Solutions, formerly Empire Coachworks, at the bid price accepted by the GSA.
"We expect we will be supplying around 500 vehicles initially, but it could be a lot more," Clean Vehicle Solutions CEO Michael Misseri told NGI. The New York government has about 50,000 vehicles on the road, Misseri estimated. So there's a large potential market. One of the first orders under the contract is to change nine school buses from diesel to natural gas for a Long Island community.
Clean Vehicle has an 88,000 square foot facility with 35 bays designated for alternative fuel activities, and a 3,500 to 5,000 vehicle annual capacity. The company is currently establishing the first dedicated 2.0 liter car in the U.S. that will be used for fleets, municipalities and as a commuter/retail solution.
And in fact, the whole East Coast is a potential market. While other companies are making great strides in natural gas vehicle sales and servicing in California and Texas, "the Northeast is the next big place where the opportunity is," said Patricia Charla, president of Limousine Environmental Action Partnership (LEAP), a consulting firm that guides public and private entities toward greener business models and environmentally responsible marketing strategies.
LEAP does the assessments and planning for fleet operators looking to convert part or all of their vehicles to natural gas. "The Northeast is an ideal place. Now we're close to the natural gas source, and the commutation patterns, for New York City, for instance, have round trip distances well within the limits of a tank of CNG," Charla said. Also, Consolidated Edison already has a CNG fleet and fueling stations and makes some of those stations available to the public and to fleets.
"Clean Energy and Trillium are putting up stations as fast as they can. Several have gone up around the New York airports, and a big station is due to open in October in Bridgeport, CT," she added.
Working with Clean Vehicle Solutions and other partners, LEAP "can take a company from soup to nuts," Charla said, including assessing emissions and costs of their current fleet, planning the conversion, building the vehicles, working on putting in filling stations, filing for certifications or grant money, rounding up financing, conducting driver training, and lining up aftermarket additions for gasoline vehicles.
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