In Memoriam: Coach's

Going Deep Into the Alt-Fuel Universe

The world has changed since we presented our first Green Fleet Conference six years ago. Today, fleet managers are looking for facts. That’s where we come in.

September 10, 2013

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This year marks the sixth annual Green Fleet Conference (GFC) that we will be producing. Starting in 2008, our first event was held in Chicago with a crowd of 350 people, who discussed best practices, with experts featured in nine informative sessions.

Looking back at the first event, we faced federal CAFE standards that stunted the car designers because of the fuel targets. That’s when Detroit got smart and sharpened up pickups with the soft stuff (i.e., carpet, AC, good radios, and even Extended Cab versions). As might have been predicted, pickup (and later, SUV) sales went bananas (whether you used them for work or ever went off-road). No one seemed to care if it got 9 mpg or 15; at $2 per gallon, no one cared.

But, the world has now changed. While it took time convincing fleet managers — and drivers — that they could still accomplish their missions and jobs in a four-cylinder vehicle vs. that V-6, most are now accepting this as the norm. We’re seeing a race down in class sizes for those fleets that still run service bodies and work trucks. Class 5 operators are making do with Class 3 vehicles. And, the hottest segment in the market today is a work van smaller than any fleet manager would have ever imagined possible five to 10 years ago.

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We’re deep into the alt-fuel universe now too. Compressed natural gas, propane autogas, E-85, electric, and battery hybrids are all making serious inroads. We’ve got readers all over the country that are having great success using a range of fuels and powertrains that we never would have imagined. Fleet managers are looking for information, data, real world examples, and market research to justify decision making to senior management.

Like us, fleet decision makers are looking for facts not religious fervor when it comes to alternative fuels. Careers can be made and lost on such decisions.

That’s why we created the Green Fleet Conference several years back.

There are plenty of events fleet managers can attend in their search for the Holy Grail of fueling options. But, the GFC is the only event designed to be fuel agnostic and fleet manager directed. There is no hidden agenda and no favorite vehicle or powertrain. Our goal was to work with the fleet community to present a one stop shop with unbiased information that would allow fleet buyers the opportunity to compare fuels and powertrains, network with peers, and hear real-world success (and failure) stories.

AM A FIRM BELIEVER IN THE PEOPLE. IF GIVEN THE TRUTH, THEY CAN BE DEPENDED UPON TO MEET ANY NATIONAL CRISIS. THE GREAT POINT IS TO BRING THEM REAL FACTS.

-Abraham Lincoln

GET YOUR FACTS FIRST, THEN YOU CAN DISTORT THEM AS YOU PLEASE.

-Mark Twain

FACTS ARE STUBBORN THINGS.

-Ronald Reagan

THERE ARE NO FACTS, ONLY INTERPRETATIONS.

-Friedrich Nietzsche

Fleet managers will leave our event armed with all the information they need to make the right decision for their unique situation. And, that’s what it really boils down to. There’s no single perfect solution for anyone despite the hype out there.

Until those magical hydrogen fuel cells reach the market, (still 20 years away, last I checked) vehicle buyers are going to have to decide which fuel and powertrain combination works best for them.

What do you think?

ed.bobit@bobit.com

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Author Bio

Ed Bobit

Editor & Publisher

With more than 50 years in the fleet industry, Ed Bobit, Automotive Fleet editor and publisher, reflects on issues affecting today’s fleets. Drawing insight from his own experiences in the field, Ed offers a perspective similar to that of a sports coach guiding his players.

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