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Electric vehicles helping reduce use of petroleum fuels

By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Dec. 09, 2002) -- The Air Force is using less petroleum products in California now thanks to a donation by a major automotive corporation.

The first of 112 electric vehicles donated by Global Electric Motorcars, a subsidiary of DaimlerChrysler, were delivered to four California Air Force installations in October.

Airman 1st Class Jim Corpuz, Staff Sgt. Russell Deatherage, Tech. Sgt. Eric Sandoval and Staff Sgt. Cedric Evans travel in one of the 112 electric vehicles donated to the Air Force by Global Electric Motorcars, a subsidiary of DaimlerChrysler. All of the airmen are assigned to the 30th Logistics Readiness Squadron at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. (Courtesy photo)

The street-legal electric vehicles can be used in situations where a lightweight sedan or pickup truck is normally used, said Lt. Col. William Fisher, chief of the Air Force vehicle policy team here.

"They can be used to shuttle people around the base for administrative duties and are perfect for use by a small civil engineer or maintenance team," Fisher said. "You can put a tool box in one of these vehicles with the bed on them, have a small bench stock available, and roll out there and do repairs."

Many tasks do not require the larger vehicles available in the Air Force vehicle inventory, according to Senior Master Sgt. Rex Curry, superintendent of Air Force vehicle maintenance policy and procedures. In the past, he said, Air Force members had no choice but to use larger vehicles.

"In a lot of places, you have supply and administrative folks who go to the military personnel flight and back to supply or to the base service store to pick up supplies," Curry said. "That does not require a quarter-ton or half-ton pickup. The idea (with the electric vehicle) is that we get accustomed to these electric vehicles and reduce our need to drive larger, petroleum-burning vehicles."

The zero-emission vehicles being used at Vandenberg, Edwards and Los Angeles Air Force bases, as well as for Onizuka Air Force Station, are in line with the Air Force's efforts to reduce use of petroleum products.

In accordance with the Energy Policy Act and Executive Order 13149, signed by former President Clinton in April 2000, federal agencies are required to acquire alternative-fuel vehicles and reduce the use of petroleum products through the use of alternative fuels.

Fisher said the Air Force is responding to this order by using electric, compressed natural gas, E-85 Flex-Fuel and bio-diesel vehicles.

"The time for alternative fuel use is here," Fisher said. "There is a lot of stuff in industry going on to get us out of petroleum-burning vehicles. In the next 10 to 15 years, you are going to see some significant changes in how we transport ourselves, what platforms we use to transport ourselves in and what engine technology we use to transport ourselves."

The 112 electric vehicles are just a part of the Air Force's overall effort to reduce dependence on petroleum products, Fisher said.

"This helps us to reduce petroleum consumption and helps displace some of our less fuel-efficient vehicles," Fisher said. "In the long run, we will reduce the amount of petroleum use on these bases. We have to come to terms with this as a nation, because energy security is a big issue."