A Deal with Collins and Many More for AT&T
As Clean Energy Fuels Unit Expands in Dallas
“Since 1992, we’ve done about 15,000 vehicles,” says Bill Calvert, founder and senior VP of BAF Technologies.
Now the U.S. natural gas vehicles upfit leader, a unit of Clean Energy Fuels (NASDAQ:CLNE) since 2009, is expanding in Dallas as it works with Ford to make sure that the customer shops installing its systems get full Ford QVM – Qualified Vehicle Modifier – recognition.
Collins Bus is a major new BAF customer, promising the first-ever dedicated-CNG, fully Ford-warranted factory Type A school buses. There’s significant new work for primary customer AT&T, too.
BAF is moving from an agglomeration of four buildings developed over the years in Dallas to a new, 90,000-square-foot, fully engineered production facility there. The old complex will be shut down when leases expire at the end of the first quarter – by which time upwards of 670 Ford Transit Connects will have been converted for AT&T (using Type III CNG fuel cylinders from Italy’s Faber), for a total of about 4,000 vehicles for the customer.
The Transit Connect represents a new type for AT&T, as most of the big telcom’s NGVs are BAF-upfitted Ford E-250 vans.
The Transit Connects are being completed for AT&T by Quincy, Ill.-based Knapheide using a work truck design by Norcross, Ga.-based Sortimo.
Besides Knapheide, distributors/licensed installers of BAF kits include Fresno, Calif.-based A-1 Alternative Fuel Systems, work truck specialist Altec, the Chicago-headquartered Auto Truck Group (with affiliates in Fort Wayne, Ind. and Louisville, Ky.), and New Jersey’s Clean Vehicle Solutions.
“We feel our current network of upfitters does an excellent job of covering the North American marketplace,” says BAF operations VP Paul Shaffer. “We are not looking to add upfitters,” he told F&F.
“We are instead going to focus on continuing to help our current upfitters to expand their CNG business.”
BAF and Kansas-based Collins have pledged that several dedicated-CNG Type A school bus models will be available this spring.
The CNG buses will complement a line that already includes propane and hybrid electric options. “CNG is the next logical step,” said Collins president Kent Tyler. “Our leading dealers are ready to introduce it to their customers.”
‘We Intend to Have Our Best Year Ever’
BAF in 2011 added bi-fuel Ford E-250/ and -350 vans and F-250 and -350 pickups to its list of certified offerings.
“Bi-fuels will be attractive to customers in virtually any segment who do not have access to the sort of extended infrastructure that has allowed our dedicated CNG product to flourish,” says Shaffer. “Our initial fleet customers for the bi-fuel product will come from the ranks of our dedicated CNG customers.
“These customers have enjoyed the benefits of CNG, and are looking to continue to ‘green’ up their fleets by adding the bi-fuels in places where infrastructure is not quite so developed or where longer drive times are required.”
Outlook for 2012? With improved engineering, service and support, and the new headquarters in Dallas, Shaffer says, “We intend to have our best year ever.”
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