Study Shows Government Fleet Operators Now Favor Hydrogen Fuel Alternatives
A spring 2002 study recently released by Market Facts Motoresearch, working in cooperation with Fleetcommunity Inc., reported that 47 percent of government fleet decision-makers would seriously consider purchasing hydrogen-based vehicles if they were offered in body styles similar to those currently in operation. Furthermore, 73 percent of decision-makers who are familiar with fuel cell vehicles and 60 per-cent of those who are familiar with hydrogen internal combustion engines would seriously consider purchasing them for their fleets.The study, which surveyed 243 decision-makers operating government and private fleets in the U.S. and Canada, explored the current use and attitudes toward alternative fuels and propulsion systems. The study also found that 58 percent of government fleets surveyed currently operate vehicles that run on natural gas, 52 percent operate vehicles that run on propane, and 42 percent operate vehicles that run on ethanol. Although with much less frequency, many private fleets also operate vehicles that run on these alternative fuels. Hybrids and electric vehicles also can be found in many govern-ment and some private fleets. A quarter of the operators surveyed indicated that the average light-duty vehicle drives no more than 70 miles a day -- 45 miles or less among government fleets. Further, a limited retail fueling in-frastructure for hydrogen is less of a hurdle for fleets that have central refueling. The study indicated that roughly a quarter of all fleets surveyed have large quantities of vehicles that could be fueled exclusively at their central refueling sites. The result is that even with range and central refueling restrictions, there exists an annual sales potential of tens of thousands of vehicles. Despite the favorable indications from the study, findings also indicated that there are many hurdles for manufacturers to overcome. More than three-quarters of the decision-makers indicated that they would not be able to seriously consider hydrogen-based vehicles for their fleets until operating costs became similar to those of conventional vehicles and they were confident that they could service all aspects of the vehicles in-house.