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Nine Markets for Alternative Fuel Vehicles

AFVs in niche markets is a good way for fleets to come out economically ahead

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california alternative fuel vehicles for niche markets

Alternative Fuel Vehicles for Niche Markets

Incorporating AFVs into niche markets is a good way for fleets to come out economically ahead of the game. High-mileage, centrally fueled fleets—such as taxis and shuttle services—are good examples of appropriate niche markets. That's because these types of fleets consume large quantities of fuel, so, over time, fleet managers enjoy the cost savings associated with less expensive alternative fuels.

Similarly, low-mileage, high-use vehicle fleets—such as airplane tugs and baggage carts that idle or repeatedly start and stop—are good niche markets.


Ground service vehicles transport people, baggage, airline equipment, and food. Shuttles, taxis, and buses transport people to and from the airport. Airports are frequently concerned with emissions and fuel costs, and these airport service vehicles provide a perfect opportunity for airport fleets to implement alternative fuel, hybrid electric, and electric vehicles.

School Buses

School buses offer an ideal application for alternative fuels. They transport thousands of children to and from school each day; they have predictable routes and centralized fueling. Alternative fuels offer a solution to prevent children from breathing harmful diesel fumes.

Transit Buses

Transit buses not only help reduce the number of cars on the road, but with fixed routes and centralized fueling, they make an ideal niche market for alternative fuels. Transit buses are seen as an ideal first use for many new technologies including alternative fuels, hybrid technologies, and fuel cells. Transit buses are also ideal for testing anti-idling technologies, as most transit buses operate in areas that have rules about the amount of time a vehicle can be left idling.

Shuttle Buses

Shuttles reduce the number of cars on the road. Shuttles are typically "return to base" fleets—they start from a central location and return to that same location at the end of the shift—and are therefore capable of centralized fueling.

Refuse Haulers

Refuse haulers are often required to meet local fleet emissions standards and, because they are usually centrally fueled, they are good candidates to run on alternative fuels. Currently, alternative fueled refuse fleets are running on compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, propane, or biodiesel.

Heavy-Duty Trucks

Heavy-duty trucks are essential to our commerce and to our quality of life. However, these high-mileage, high-fuel-use vehicles emit particulate matter, nitrogen oxide, and other pollutants at levels much higher than the emissions levels of light-duty vehicles. Heavy-duty fleets that sit idling expend fuel and steadily release harmful emissions into the air. Using alternative fuels in these vehicles can make a huge difference in our nation's air quality and energy security.

Another approach to reducing the emissions and fuel use of heavy-duty trucks is the development of idle reduction technologies. Because much of the fuel used by heavy-duty vehicles is used to maintain operator comfort while the vehicle is stationary, idle reduction technologies can make a significant impact on fuel use.


Many taxi companies are turning to fuels like compressed natural gas, propane, E85 or Hybrid electric vehicles to improve the operational economy of their fleet. Taxi companies can help contribute to clean air in the cities they serve, and spend less money on fuel.

Delivery Vehicles

From light-duty vehicles designed to deliver groceries and flowers to heavy-duty trucks delivering livestock and fuel, delivery vehicles depend on alternative fuels, idle reduction technologies, and fuel economy measures. Additionally, some delivery fleets are exploring the use of hybrid electric vehicles. Some state, local, and federal fleets such as the United States Postal Service are required under EPAct and other ordinances to reduce petroleum consumption.

Traffic Enforcement

Because neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs) and electric bicycles are small and easy to maneuver, they make great vehicles for applications such as traffic and parking enforcement.

Police Vehicles

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), police vehicles account for 289,000 fleet automobiles. Most police fleets operate high-mileage vehicles in urban areas, often have central fueling facilities, and can usually place special orders for vehicles. Police vehicles also get high visibility and can easily promote goodwill throughout communities.

SEARCH for Alternative Fuel Vehicle Manufacturers and Models

Search for Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Applications SOURCE: EERE: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy - DOE

Edited by Carolyn Allen
| alternative fuel | public transportation |


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