Year in Review: 2012 December 2012

Monday, December 31st, 2012 NAFTC Updates
Year in Review: 2012 December 2012

Year in Review: 2012 December 2012

  2012 was a year of landmarks for both the alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicle industry and the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium.   More people bought hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles in 2012 than any year before. Sales for plug-in electrics went up a staggering 207.6% from the 2011 model year, and hybrid sales increased approximately 55% between model year 2011 and model year 2012.  

Sales for hybrids like the 2013 Honda Fit EV displayed above have increased by approximately 55% in the last year. Source: NAFTC.

  The increase in popularity by alternative fuel vehicles in 2012 was substantiated by the NAFTC’s largest and furthest reaching National Alternative Fuel Vehicle Day Odyssey in its ten-year history. Odyssey is a single-day outreach initiative of growing fame that introduces its audiences in diverse locations to new alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicle options. This October, approximately 160 Odyssey events were held across the country and internationally in Gothenburg, Sweden and Paris, France. Odyssey educates the public on the importance of alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles. The total number of attendees at 2012 Odyssey events across the U.S. is projected to top 250,000. Millions more received Odyssey information via the news media in hundreds of diverse markets. A letter of support thanking the NAFTC, its partners and sponsors for the success of National AFV Day Odyssey was signed by some of the nation’s most influential Senators.  

Some of the youngest crowd members at Odyssey take in the excitement. Over 1,000 attendees participated in the 2012 National Kickoff Event. Credit: NAFTC.

  In addition to spearheading the United States Senate letter of support for Odyssey, Senator Joe Manchin D-WV, visited the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium headquarters to learn more about how the program supports the increased use of alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles throughout the nation by providing training and outreach and education on the vehicles. The work of the NAFTC caught the senator’s attention when one of his staff members met Ebron at “The Compelling Case for Natural Gas Vehicles” workshop in Charleston.   U.S. Senator Joe Manchin discusses the advantages of alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles with NAFTC officials during his visit to the NAFTC. Credit: NAFTC    

President Barack Obama takes a moment to pose for a picture with some of NCC’s automotive faculty members and students. From left are Honda PACT Program Coordinator and Professor Dan Jones, students Seth Fogg, Ed Boisvert, Ryan Bourgeois, Mike Kapel, Craig Cook, President Obama, Automotive Technology Program Coordinator and Professor Roland Gies, students Justin Grenier, Chris Chute, Brandon Masterson, William Morrison, Joann Carter and Chairperson for Automotive, Collision Repair, Honda PACT and Aviation Technology Departments and Professor Karl Wunderlich. Credit: White House via Nashua Community College.

  A few months after Manchin’s visit, President Barack Obama visited an NAFTC National Training Center, Nashua Community College in Nashua, New Hampshire.  Karl Wunderlich, professor and chair of NCC’s Collision Repair, Honda PACT and Aviation Technology Departments, gave Obama a tour of the automotive facility, describing the college’s automotive programs and alternative fuel partnerships with the NAFTC and the City of Nashua.   Hybrid and plug-in vehicles had a very prestigious year. The 2012 Tesla Model S became the first non-gasoline vehicle to win the Motor Trend Car of the Year Award, one of the industry’s oldest and top honors. The 2012 Chevrolet Volt topped the Consumer Reports’ Owner Satisfaction Survey for the second consecutive year.  

Tesla Model S is the first non-gasoline powered automobile to win the prestigious Motor Trend Car of the Year award. It is also the first unanimous winner of the award, which has been awarded nearly every year since Motor Trend’s inception in 1949. Credit: Tesla Motors.

  In the summer of 2012, NAFTC executive director, Al Ebron, participated in the White House’s “Advanced Vehicles: Driving Growth Event.” Ebron was on the Clean Energy Innovation panel of the afternoon conference in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House. The event celebrated the resurgence of the auto industry and recognized its leaders.  

NAFTC Director Al Ebron (fourth from left) shares his thoughts on panel. Credit: White House Council on Environmental Quality.

  In the fall, the NAFTC won its second National Excellence in Training Award in the past five years from the Automotive Training Manager’s Council, for its Electric Drive Vehicle First Responder Safety Training. The package consists of a suite of products including smart phone apps and on-line courses in addition to in-the-field durable reference materials and traditional classroom training.   The NAFTC launched its first high school curriculum. This summer, the NAFTC introduced Career and Technical Education (CTE) in its own backyard in Morgantown, WV when 15 West Virginia high school teachers from around the state participated in a week-long Advanced Electric Drive Vehicle Education Program training.   Progress and developments in several petroleum alternatives also are among the year’s highlights. At a ceremony held in Torrance, California, Toyota launched the world’s first pipeline-fed proton exchange membrane (PEM) hydrogen fuel cell generator at its headquarters. Over the past several months, four major automobile manufacturers – Toyota, Hyundai, Daimler, and Honda – have committed to offer hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for commercial sale in America as early as 2015. This year, the United States Department of Energy announced a $2.4 million investment to collect and analyze data for hydrogen fueling stations.   This year scientists also discovered new ways to produce ethanol and biofuel. In Berkley, researchers from the Bio Architecture Lab extracted ethanol directly from seaweed. At the University of Texas at Austin, researchers developed a one step process for converting algae to biofuel.   With new developments in alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles in mind, the NAFTC introduced its new Petroleum Reduction Technologies (PRT) curriculum. PRT is a comprehensive look at the six major alternative fuels: biodiesel, ethanol, natural gas, propane, hydrogen, and electric drive, as well as sections on fuel economy, idle reduction, fleet applications, and an overview of the importance of petroleum reduction technologies. PRT can be modular, with each of the sections used as their own particularly focused workshop. NAFTC project manager, Catherine Mezera, has been traveling this fall, conducting PRT train-the-trainer sessions across the country. In partnership with local universities and Clean Cities Coalitions, the NAFTC arranged two-day PRT sessions. The first day of the training was focused on the train-the-trainer model with the Clean Cities coordinator in mind. The second day of the training provided multiple sessions for various audiences, utilizing the many different topics and materials from the PRT curriculum.   General Electric and Chesapeake Energy’s CNG In A Box is a “plug and play” fueling system that can be set up at a traditional filling station or at an industrial location and compress natural gas into CNG on site. Credit: General Electric.   Finally, the year also saw tremendous expansions in CNG (Compressed Natural Gas). Chevrolet, GMC, Chrysler Ram, and each are providing commercially available CNG fueled trucks on the market. Honda is working with Clean Energy Fuels Corporation, America’s largest owner of public compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations, and participating Honda dealers in order to provide a special savings to customers purchasing a new 2012 Civic Natural Gas Vehicle. This October, General Electric (GE) and Peake Fuel Solutions, an affiliate of Chesapeake Energy Corporation, launched the CNG In A Box system, which allows for easier adoption of compressed natural gas (CNG) refueling options by large- and small-scale retailers.   “We look back on 2012 with great pride at the progress the NAFTC and the alternative fuel industry made in the previous year,” NAFTC Executive Director Al Ebron said. “We hope to continue along the path of these great strides in 2013, and look forward to the coming year with great optimism.”