by Jack Rosebro
|John Deere Gator utility vehicle, powered by a 20kW hydrogen fuel cell and currently in service as part of Toronto’s Hydrogen Village project.|
Yesterday the City of Toronto hosted the inaugural Green Fleet Expo, a conference, expo, and ride-and-drive at Toronto’s Exhibition Place that brought together fleet managers and stakeholders from across Ontario, Canada to view and discuss ways of improving the province’s air quality and reducing its contribution to climate change.
On display and available for test drives were a wide range of low-emission vehicles, from a Smart car running on biodiesel to a hybrid transit bus.
|Hamilton, Ontario’s diesel-powered Smart Car, affectionately dubbed “The Interceptor” by fleet manager Chris Hill|
Drew Shintani of City of Toronto’s Fleet Services conceived of the Green Fleet Expo both as a platform to demonstrate innovative clean-vehicle technologies and as a springboard to foster dialogue on the challenges and benefits that municipalities and other agencies face when creating a green fleet transition plan.
Many in attendance at Green Fleet Expo were already talking about the possibility of an expanded GFX event for next year.
Afternoon seminars focused on the implementation of solutions, such as the aggressive anti-idling ordinances now in effect in many parts of Ontario. Darlene Varaleau of Repair Our Air cited studies that showed Ontario fleet vehicles idling during 20% to 90% of their operating time prior to anti-idling ordinances and the creation of the Repair Our Air Fleet Challenge.
With fuel costs rising and supplies at times uncertain, fleets are increasingly turning to anti-idling policies as part of broad fuel consumption reduction programs. Terry Scillion of engine maker Detroit Diesel has noted that:
...while 75% of the major fleets perform some routine operational analysis, we estimate that only 20% of them actively manage their fuel consumption. If a fleet is not managing idling, their incidence is typically around 48% of operating time.
Molson Canada has achieved an overall fleet idling time of 4%, and estimates its resulting annual fuel cost savings to be around C$250,000 (US$225,000).
Ten municipalities and communities in southern Ontario recently joined forces to host training classes on hybrid vehicles for their service technicians, with more advanced training scheduled for this summer.
In remarks to Green Car Congress, Fraser Bull, technical trainer for Toronto’s city fleet, said that the need for knowledge is acute, as even today’s hybrid technologies are “baby steps” in contrast to technologies that may be implemented in the future.