Companies Test Drive Alternative Fuel Vehicles in Eden Prairie

Updated: 04/08/2014 6:09 AM
Created: 04/07/2014 5:44 PM
By: Jessica Miles

On a closed course in Eden Prairie drivers are testing vehicles that use compressed natural gas, liquid natural gas, and even hydrogen fuel cells as power.

"Its all about improving fuel economy, reducing costs and lowering emissions in their commercial fleets and that has a huge impact on their environment and their success as a company," says Mark Hayes with GE Capital Fleet Services.

Bill Sterner is from Fort Worth Texas where the city has 3,500 vehicles in its fleet - some that use propane. He's looking to expand on those alternative fuels.

"Its not often you have all these vehicles in one place where you can step out of one and into another to see how they handle, how they drive," said Sterner.

One truck on hand has two different tanks - one takes regular gasoline, the other compressed natural gas. It starts by using the regular gas, but once the engine has warmed up it switches to the compressed natural gas. That means you could get about 250 extra miles on the road before needing to fill up.

Some big companies may have 80,000 cars on the road. It's information learned from the large fleets that could soon make it to the vehicles typical consumers buy.

"They are often the thought leaders or initiators of new technologies, so when you adopt it in a large fleet, all of a sudden you get a scale, you can make more, the costs come down and that enables the consumer to enjoy these same capabilities down the road," says Hayes.

There's also a real push to make safer vehicles. Mobileye is essentially a camera mounted on the front of vehicles that is constantly shooting and watching what you're coming up on.

"It does threat recognition, pedestrians, motorcycles, bike warning, it reads speed limit signs, lane departure, forward collision... anything out there it will identify and monitor as you go down the road," says Dana Albers with Mobileye.

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