In the following months and years to come, the American motoring public will be subjected to an ever-accelerating media blitz, regarding alternative fuels. Most of this information will be sensationalized, futuristic baloney, generated to either fuel television ratings or political agendas, while not informing the general public about currently available alternative fuel sources.
With each new edition of Sport Truck, we will identify and address the different segments of alternative fuel technologies and reveal how our valued readers can apply it to improve their daily lives. The subsequent story recounts the evolution of our alternative fuel education while recapping our firsthand experience in our beloved home state of California.
Diamond Lane Flyer Derailed
Before they all died off, there used to be elderly people around that liked to babble something about "the best laid plans of mice and men." The old expression never really made much sense to us until our recent experience trying to develop the story you are about to read. Long story short, it all went terribly sideways and completely out of control.
Our intentions were to publish an informative tech feature explaining to Sport Truck readers how to legally drive solo in their state's HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lane simply by opting to burn compressed natural gas (CNG) in their trucks. It seemed simple enough.
This past June, one of our contributing editors bought a '05 GMC Sierra that came with a blue tag indicating it was an Alternative Fueled Vehicle. He asked the GMC salesman if the blue tag meant his new truck was CNG ready.
The salesman replied, "Don't ask me about that alt-fuel stuff. I don't know anything about it."
After several weeks of Flexible Fuel Vehicle (FFV) ownership, our contributor soon discovered his GMC salesman was only one among millions of people in the supposed ecologically enlightened state that were completely in the dark regarding FFVs-not a surprise, really, but we'll get into that later.
Lately, California, Arizona, and a few other states, have enacted laws that allow single-occupant AFVs (Alternative Fuel Vehicle) access to their HOV lanes. This was made possible on August 10, 2005, when President Bush signed the federal transportation bill (H.R.3) into law. Since this is a federal law, it means that every state in the Union is welcome to participate.
A Message From Gov. Schwarzenegger
The following is a direct quote from Gov. Schwarzenegger cut and pasted from the DMV page of the state of California's website.
"The HOV waiver and sticker program is another example of California's leadership role in the areas of clean air, alternate fuel systems, environmentally friendlier vehicles, and transportation funding," Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said. "I am very pleased the President has signed the legislation and that we can move forward with this important program. It's a common sense policy that represents yet another step toward cleaning up our environment and reducing air pollution. The more we can encourage Californians to buy and drive cleaner-air hybrid cars and trucks, and give them some incentive to do so, the better off we will all be."
Arnold's initial 28 words were pretty encouraging. Upon reading this news, our contributor got enthused about the prospect of being able to drive his AFV solo in the diamond lane and decided to find out what it would take to acquire a single-driver sticker for his GMC.
Suddenly, everything about this situation went into an uncontrollable slide with some very unpredictable results. It was discovered the GMC was an AFV all right, but more precisely, an FFV (Flex-Fueled Vehicle) that burned a fuel known as E85. In addition to this, we learned California will only issue HOV permits to dedicated vehicles or hybrids. Flex-fueled vehicles are excluded from this program.