All the Buzz: Alternative Fuel Vehicles
Hybrid has been a buzzword among green enthusiasts for many years, but the hybrid's successors - plug-in hybrid, battery, extended range and fuel cell electric vehicles - are now increasing in popularity as well. You will start seeing more and more of these electric drive vehicles in your shops, which means, if you haven't already, you need to begin preparing to adequately service them.
The National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium (NAFTC), the only nationwide alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicle training organization, is dedicated to developing curricula and conducting training that educates automotive technicians.
A program of West Virginia University, the NAFTC focuses on increasing America's energy security, lessening its dependence on petroleum and improving air quality by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation systems. Using a nationwide network of 50 training centers located from Maine to California, the NAFTC educates and trains many audiences - instructors, technicians, first responders, industry representatives and other interested groups - about alternative fuels: biodiesel, ethanol, natural gas, propane, hydrogen and electricity.
I have been a part of the alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicle industry for more than 23 years, and the present excitement about advanced electric drive vehicles is something I've not yet witnessed. President Obama has been implementing funding and initiatives aimed at achieving a goal of having 1 million plug-in hybrid electric vehicles on the nation's roads by 2015, and federal and state tax credits are making advanced electric drive vehicles even more attractive. The U.S. Department of Energy also supports making electric vehicles mainstream across America.
But, is your shop ready to service these advanced electric drive vehicles? The NAFTC's Advanced Electric Drive (AED) Vehicle Education Program, funded by a U.S. Department of Energy grant, has the mission of "Educating America on Next-Generation Vehicles." The program will feature curricula, training, outreach and education activities, a website and support of National Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) Day Odyssey.
The curricula include first responder safety training, career and technical education, electrical infrastructure and AED vehicle automotive technician training, which is designed for pre-service and in-service technicians, trainers and fleet managers. The AED courses and workshops will teach fundamentals, system design, diagnostic considerations and special service topics of hybrid electric vehicles, battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and fuel cell electric vehicles. The training also will explain appropriate safety measures in maintaining advanced electric drive vehicles, while describing electric propulsion systems - including the construction, operation, control strategies, service tools, scan tool data, and basic diagnostic fundamentals.
This intermediate level training will be available late fall 2011. With a projected reach of 206 million people, the AED Vehicle Education Program and its products will be showcased at trade shows and conferences throughout the country. Consumers, fleet managers, businesses and public sector decision makers will be informed of viable alternatives to standard gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles. With the training and education we offer, Obama's goal of having 1 million plug-in hybrid electric vehicles on the roads by 2015 will become a reality.
Education and training are absolutely critical to the successful implementation of advanced electric drive vehicles, and the NAFTC is dedicated to providing the training to technicians and others involved with these vehicles.
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