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Hamilton Greening its Fleet with Hybrids and Biodiesel


The City Council of Hamilton, Ontario, approved the first steps in implementing its Green Fleet plan which will transition the fleet of 1,436 light trucks and cars to hybrids (gasoline and diesel) and diesels burning a B10 blend of biodiesel.

As part of the plan, the City will halt its natural gas vehicle activity, and put the money currently allocated for bi-fuel CNG conversions back into the budget for hybrids and biodiesel.

The Hamilton City Council directing its staff in 2004 prepare an implementation plan to provide an affordable way to use new vehicle and fuel technology to reduce fuel consumption and exhaust emissions. The resulting was approved in this week’s meeting of the council.

In short, as vehicles end their 10-year operational life with the City, they will be replaced with  hybrid where possible. Additionally, the City will begin using B10 in its diesels.

Two major factors drove the selection of hybrids and biodiesel: one is the rising price of fuel, the other is the need to reduce the CO2 load.

On the current limitations of natural gas vehicles as a solution to the problems above, the plan observes:

Natural gas has been the leading alternative to gasoline for some time. GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota and Honda have all offered factory-built natural gas vehicles (NGVs) to fleets. However, the number of vehicles using natural gas in Canada has never grown beyond a few thousand, partly because of the higher cost for the vehicles themselves.

The real barrier, however, has been the unresolved dilemma for natural gas suppliers; whether to build a network of natural gas stations in anticipation of a larger NGV population or wait until the numbers justified expansion. The result has been that not enough stations have been built and NGV sales are declining as Hybrid Electric Vehicles, which run on gasoline, are gaining popularity.

The same potential market pitfall exists for a hydrogen-based transportation system—one reason that supporters are keen to get an infrastructure in place.



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