The mini-sized Wheego electric car (it measures just under 10 feet in length and 5.25 feet in width) and a natural gas-powered Chevy van were recently showcased at the National Alternative Fuel Vehicle Day Odyssey at Shoreline Community College’s Professional Automotive Training Center. Partially funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, the event was specifically targeted at organizations and government agencies that have large vehicle fleets.
“Public and private agencies had the opportunity to learn about the latest options for alternative fuel vehicles,” Mark Hankins, Shoreline GST instructor said. Hankins said that Shoreline provides skills upgrade training for several of the companies and agencies that have fleets.
Stephanie Meyn, program manager of the Puget Sound Clean Cities program, organized the event to educate those who manage fleet vehicles and to encourage them to look at the newest in fuel efficient vehicles. “It will make a difference,” she said, mentioning that Shuttle Express recently saved $11,000 in one month by switching only one vehicle to propane. She hopes that more and more companies, organizations and government agencies will move to alternative fuel vehicles and that it will trickle down into the private sector.
“We’re here to celebrate the local, homegrown talent and engineering and expertise that we have here in the northwest, and especially at our universities and colleges,” Meyn said. She applauded Shoreline and other higher education programs that support alternative fuel technology training.
Presentations were made by educators and industry representatives. Garret Alpers of World CNG, Puget Sound’s largest supplier of alternative fuel packaging to area public and private fleets, talked about skills and certifications for the workforce. Ben Farrow of Puget Sound Energy, who has outfitted their fleets with electric and other alternative fuel vehicles, talked about future trends in alternative transportation technologies. Automotive instructors Hankins, and Ben Taves, South Seattle CC, talked about their programs that support alternative fuel education. Jeff Waldner of the University of Victoria presented on the EcoCar Challenge Team and Engineering programs and Eric Leonhardt of Western Washington University spoke about their Vehicle Research Institute on Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Projects. Mark Watkins of Clean Energy shared future trends in heavy duty alternative transportation technologies. Meyn, who organized the event, gave an overview of the Odyssey Day event and talked about the Clean Cities Program and the commitment of industry and educators in the area.
An open house in the training center showcased a number of vehicles powered by electricity, propane, compressed natural gas and biodiesel. Along with the Wheego electric car was an old VW “Bug” that had been converted to electric power. Alternative fuel vans and cars that are part of fleets owned by the City of Seattle were also showcased. Additionally, industry representatives talked about and demonstrated how electric vehicle charging stations operate.
The City of Seattle (who has a fleet of 4,000 vehicles) and the cities of Snohomish and Bellingham and King County attended. Also attending were several local dealers, including MC Electric, Scarff Ford, Honda of Bellevue and Nissan. Clean Energy, who sells natural gas and Ferrellgas, a propane/general bio-diesel company were also represented.
100 mile per gallon prototype showcased
Progressive Insurance Automotive (PIA) developed competitions, programs and events to inspire a new generation of super-efficient vehicles. Western Washington was the only university in the United States to enter a $5 million contest sponsored by PIA to produce a fuel economy vehicle that would travel 100 miles per gallon. The university’s Auto X-Prize Vehicle made it to the finals.