See video of the New York green fleet initiative

FLUSHING MEADOWS PARK, NY. With an agreement to test a CNG-powered full-size van from General Motors and delivery of its first all-electric Chevy Volt sedans, the New York City Parks Dept. is filling the remaining gaps in a green fleet strategy that mixes multiple alternative power sources for everything from scooters to Class 8 dump trucks. Recognized by Fleet Owner and others as one of the country’s greenest fleet operations, the Parks Dept. has already moved over 75% of its 2,300 vehicles to clean-fuel alternatives.

“We have 400 vans that are all gasoline-powered now , and that was the one vehicle where we hadn’t had a good [clean-fuel] strategy,” said assistant commissioner Keith Kerman. “But GM just introduced a [factory-built] CNG model, and we’ve been testing one. It looks great in the test, so now we’re looking at replacing all 400.”

The department already has two CNG fueling stations for 100 CNG powered sedans and two CNG powered street sweepers. One fueling station was recently completed in New York’s Central Park and the other is located in Flushing Meadows Park. The site of two World’s Fairs and the U.S. Tennis Open, Flushing Meadows is also host to the Parks Dept.’ annual fleet show where it invites area municipal, private and for-hire fleets to see its alternative power vehicles and meet with its vendors.

At this year’s show – the 23rd – the Parks Dept. took official delivery of its first nine all-electric Chevy Volt sedans. “We have over 400 sedans and the majority of them travel under 40 miles a day, so it’s a good fit,” says Kerman. For vehicles requiring longer range, the department currently operates Toyota Prius hybrids, which have doubled fuel mileage from 20 to 40 MPG, he told Fleet Owner.

See video of the Hino 155 diesel electric hybrid

At the other end of the size scale, Parks has just ordered 11 more Kenworth Class 8 diesel-electric hybrids to join the 18 already in its fleet. “The first 18 are being used as rack and dump trucks, and the new order will include some water trucks,” said Kerman. “I’m told we’re the largest operator [of HD hybrids] in the New York area.” Based on the KW T370, they’re powered by the Paccar PX-6 diesel meeting EPA ’10 emissions standards, further enhancing their green performance, he said.

The department’s diesel-powered equipment, which includes Class 6 Freightliner Business Class M2’s fitted with small packer bodies, has been running on B20 biodiesel blend for some time. Up until this point, though, it couldn’t find a diesel option for its large pickup fleet that was certified for B20. “We’ve just ordered 140 Ford pickups with the new diesel that’s specifically certified for B20,” said Kerman. “The first ones have been a great success. We’re now a B20-only operation.”

With electric, CNG, biodiesel and hybrid power already deployed throughout the fleet, “we wanted to break into solar power, too,” Kerman said. On display at the Flushing Meadows show this year was a portable light tower that can operate up to 40 hrs. on stored electric power generated by self-contained solar panels.

“It’s not a vehicle, but we have 50 portable light towers that are all powered by diesel auxiliary engines,” said Kerman. “They’re not only a lot of work to fuel and maintain, but the emissions are completely untreated, so we’re testing this solar-powered unit.” Made by Progress Solar Solutions, it uses LED lamps that should last the life of the tower and allow it to run up to 40 hrs. without any sunlight, according to the manufacturer.