Set Specs, Insist on QVM/OEM Vehicles, Don’t Mess with Old Ones
As Westport Offers Free CNG Training at Its Upfit Facility in Dallas
The City of Pensacola has been successful with its modest fleet of compressed natural gas-fueled vehicles because it set stringent specifications when buying its NGVs, has insisted on getting QVM/qualified vehicle modifier (or OEM) products, and has not attempted to retrofit existing vehicles for CNG.
That’s the word from Pensacola assistant director of sanitation services and fleet management Doug Resmondo and Westport VP and managing director Paul Shaffer. Westport has supplied both dedicated-CNG and CNG-gasoline bi-fuel vehicles to the Florida municipality, and is preparing five more.
Pensacola has 38 CNG vehicles, ranging from Honda Civics to Autocar refuse trucks.
Set It Up, Keep It Simple
‘The first thing is to set up a program,” says Westport’s Shaffer.
“You want minimize adding any extra layers,” says Pensacola’s Resmondo.
Shaffer urges would-be users of CNG vehicles to set specifications rather than emphasize the lowest price. And, he told F&F, “You need to make sure you have people trained.” To that end, he says, “We offer, at no charge, in Dallas, a three-day training course.”
Free CNG Training Courtesy Westport
The course at Westport’s light duty NGV headquarters includes a day of theory – “CNG 101” – and two days of hands-on work.
“All they have to do is get to Dallas and we do the rest,” Shaffer says.
Upcoming dates this year are
- June 15-17,
- August 17-19,
- October 19-21, and
- December 7-9.
“Past trainees have commented that this ability to meet in-person is worth the trip to Texas,” Westport says. “The training provides technicians with a clear path to resolution – whether it be shipping a part or diagnosing a vehicle.”
Local Utility Synergy
Westport notes too that customers taking advantage of the Westport course will meet face-to-face with the same people they’ll deal with regarding service and support issues.
Resmondo told F&F that the City of Pensacola owns and operates the local Pensacola Energy gas utility, and that the city and the Emerald Coast Utilities Authority have a mutual interest in fielding NGVs (F&F, August 29, 2014).
Pensacola Energy operates three CNG fueling facilities. Two are public access.
‘Do the Due Diligence’
“We’ve had very very few CNG problems,” says Resmondo.
“You’ve got to do the due diligence,” he says. “If you don’t you’re going to have a sour experience.”
“If you run it the right way you’re going to have a good customer experience,” says Shaffer.
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Source: Fleets & Fuels interview and follow-up