Momentum continues to build for greener vehicles

Driving through Los Angeles-area traffic can be a harrowing experience, especially if you’re the passenger in a taxi; which is simply a loosely guided missile in some cases on the state’s 405. 

I hopped a cab from Orange County’s John Wayne Airport to Long Beach for this week’s Alternative Clean Transportation Expo this week. It was a CNG-powered Ford Transit. I’ve been in a CNG taxi before, but I’ve never had a driver who knew anything about it.

The driver was a nice guy, and I got to the hotel alive so mission accomplished. 

He says, goaded by California’s sleeper-hold-like emissions standards, manufacturers like Toyota and Ford have caused a growth in CNG stations by putting more of their cars on the road. 

He told me as recently as two years ago you couldn’t find CNG station, and you were rolling the dice if you ventured too far in a CNG-powered vehicle. But now he says he can stop practically anywhere along his route. 

In our roughly 20 mile/$88 cab ride we passed at least four. I may have missed a few. I was on the lookout for famous people and other loosely guided freeway missiles. 

He said many of the fleet’s Transit vans are barely 2 years old. The one I was in was spotless and was likely much newer. It kept up with the maddening pace of traffic – a mixture of hybrids, electrics, gasoline, diesel and everything else – very well. My driver says power was comparable, and with the limited cargo he had (me and a suitcase), it appears he’s right, again. 

In 2011, California Yellow Cab purchased, converted and deployed 58 new Ford Transit Connect CNG taxicabs and today, some 70 percent of the California Yellow Cab fleet is running CNG or hybrid power. 

You don’t have to go AltFuel to get green results. Ford said Monday they sold its half-a-millionth EcoBoost engine. 

By moving 500,000 F-150 customers out of V8s and into V6 engines, Ford says it has saved more than 56 million gallons of fuel – more than all of the fuel saved from every electric and plug-in electric car ever sold.

Consumers have more (and better) alternative fuel alternatives than ever before and going green is getting a lot more viable and easier.