Even though its hydrogen/electric dole garnered most of the headlines (see Daily GPI, July 23), the California Energy Commission (CEC) also with less fanfare awarded $4.3 million for natural gas vehicle (NGV) expansion in the form of state funded rebates and other incentives for fleets and individual drivers to switch to NGVs.

As with the hydrogen and EV awards, the funding comes from the statewide Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, which has distributed more than $400 million over recent years.

The latest NGV awards include $4.3 million for NGV rebates, lowering the purchase price of 384 vehicles at 13 dealerships throughout the state with the largest award being $1.6 million for 64 NGVs Thomas Built school buses, and another $1.3 million for 118 Freightliner Customer Chassis Corp. NGVs.

Elsewhere, among dedicated CNG developments, Westport confirmed that it is adding to its 2015 model year lineup of compressed natural gas (CNG) Ford vehicles, specifically the WiNG upfits for vans and cutaways.

According to the Vancouver, BC-based manufacturer/designer it will be offering dedicated-CNG versions of Ford’s new Transit van and cutaway models. The all-CNG vehicles will be both U.S, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)- and California Air Resources Board (CARB)-certified, a Westport spokesperson said.

The upfitter previously announced both dedicated-CNG and CNG/gasoline bi-fuel versions of the smaller Ford Transit Connect for 2015, according to earlier reports in the Fleets and Fuels transportation bulletin. Westport’s transit vans and cutaways use Ford’s 3.7-liter gaseous-prep engine.

On the other side of the nation in Orlando, FL, TruStar Energy broke ground for its first branded CNG fueling station. It will be public access with fast-fill capability.

“We continue to see rapid adoption of CNG vehicles across industries, and we look forward to providing more public fueling options,” said TruStar President Adam Comora. Another TruStar executive said many fleet owners have asked for additional fueling options in the Orlando area.

The new station is within Orlando’s central park development, a location close to several major fleets, according to TruStar. The new station is designed to serve Class 8 trucks with four traffic lanes and two islands.

The station is designed to serve hundreds of CNG vehicles daily and is expected to be open next year. TruStar began building private CNG fueling stations in 2008 and now has the capability to build about 40 (public and private) stations annually.