The Natural Gas Vehicle (NGV) Fleet Forum, a new membership organization dedicated to advancing the use of natural gas in the U.S. transportation sector, was launched last week. The group was formed to provide a members-only venue for fleet operators to share technical expertise, collaborate on product development and procurement, and support other members in the successful deployment of natural gas vehicles.
Gladstein, Neandross & Associates (GNA), a national consulting firm active in the natural gas fleet vehicle sector, will provide the group with operational support. Consultant, Robert Hall, formerly with the Automotive Engineering Group at UPS and a recognized expert on deploying natural gas vehicles as well as hybrids and electric vehicles, will head the new organization.
“What I hope to bring to this group is my experience with natural gas,” said Hall, who was a guest speaker at the recent Webcast on Natural Gas presented by Fleet Owner and the Truckload Carriers Association and sponsored by Clean Energy. “I hope to help fleets avoid some of the problems we had to deal with at UPS. I also hope to help grow the new group.”
“We have been talking about doing this for a long time,” Erik Neandross CEO of GNA, told Fleet Owner. “This is really the right moment. The price of natural gas now versus the price of diesel is hard to ignore. There are some challenges with deploying natural gas vehicles, but there are also a lot of successes now, too.
“With continued high petroleum fuel prices, increased access to plentiful resources of domestic low-cost natural gas and additional natural gas vehicle products being made available by the national automobile and truck manufacturers, the development of this NGV Fleet Forum comes at a time when the natural gas vehicle market is set to make a significant surge,” he added. “We are extremely excited to be part of this ground-breaking and progressive group and look forward to helping fleet operators more aggressively and successfully deploy NGVs in their operations.”
Membership in the NGV Fleet Forum is comprised of companies that have existing natural gas vehicle operations as well as those that are considering natural gas for their fleet. Charter members in the NGV Fleet Forum include Sysco Corporation, Ryder System, Inc., UPS, PepsiCo/Frito-Lay, Paper Transport, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Sempra Energy Utilities, Border Valley Trading, HayDay Farms and Chesapeake Energy.
According to Neandross, working together to address common issues around the use of natural gas makes sense. “We work with a lot of the LNG fleets-- there are only about 60 of them out there,” he said. “They all have the same challenges and problems and have been working to solve those by themselves, independently. If we can help make natural gas work smoothly and successfully for fleets [we’ll be making a real contribution].”
One of the first items on the new group’s agenda will not be technical problem-solving, however, Neandross says. “We would also like to work with the companies in the Forum to help get the Natural Gas Act passed,” he noted. “If that passes, it will [change everything.] It will really make this go.”
The NGV Fleet Forum is open to members representing all types of fleets. Member representatives include executive level operational fleet personnel responsible for procurement, maintenance and operations.