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General Motors enters new fleet territory

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Citing the growth and expansion of the compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) infrastructure in key fleet markets, General Motors has continued finalizing plans for its new offering of CNG- and  LPG-powered versions of its Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana full-size vans.

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GM’s new powertrain options for the 2011 model year vehicles include CNG-powered cargo vans to be offered this fall, followed by LPG-powered cutaway vans for cube, delivery and shuttle bus applications in early 2011. Both vehicle types will be built at the OEM’s Wentzville, Mo., assembly plant using GM’s Vortec 6.0-liter V8 engine fitted with hardened exhaust valves and intake and exhaust valve seats for use with the gaseous fuel systems.

The new CNG and LPG cargo vans and cutaway chassis for fleets will be delivered with fully integrated and warranted dedicated gaseous fuel systems. GM has chosen Productive Concepts (PCI), an alternative fuel conversion company in Union City, Ind., to integrate the CNG fuel delivery and storage system. Both the CNG and LPG systems will meet EPA and CARB certification requirements.

“We recognize the value in providing our fleet and commercial customers with a range of fuel saving and alternative fuel technologies,” said Joyce Mattman, director of commercial product and specialty vehicles, GM Fleet and Commercial Operations. “The CNG and LPG additions are part of GM’s expanding alternative fuel portfolio, which includes more than 17 E85-capable and five hybrid models in our fleet and commercial vehicle lineup.”

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GM also announced that Verizon has purchased 576 Chevrolet Silverado Two-Mode Hybrid full-size pickups. The purchase is part of Verizon’s comprehensive sustainability program launched earlier this year, which includes expanding the number of alternative energy vehicles in its fleet. The hybrid pickups will be deployed by Verizon in urban areas in various markets.

Powering the Chevrolet Silverado two-mode hybrid full-size pickup is a standard Vortec 6.0-liter V8 engine rated at 332 HP and 367 ft./lbs. of torque. The two-mode hybrid system employs battery-powered electric motors, which enables the Silverado to launch and drive up to 30 MPH on electricity alone, and allows the Vortec engine to operate in its more economical V-4 mode for longer periods. The OEM estimates the hybrid system can reduce fuel consumption by up to 40% over a conventional full-size pickup.

Verizon also collaborated with BrandFX Body Co. and GM to develop a lightweight fiberglass insert to be installed in the bed of the new hybrid pick-ups. The composite insert will house Verizon’s service equipment, such as ladders, wiring, connectors and television set boxes.

General Motors Fleet and Commercial Operations also introduced Business Bridge, a new tool that allows fleets to integrate vehicle operational and maintenance data into their internal systems for further analysis.

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Business Bridge uses the integrated Vehicle Communications Platform (VCP), which is factory-installed in the vehicle, to monitor, store, transmit and receive data for fleet vehicle monitoring. The VCP is an electronic module that enables a variety of communication functions within the vehicle, as well as communication to and from external entities. Business Bridge data includes mileage, percent oil life remaining, Diagnostic Trouble Codes from engine and transmission modules, and tire pressures.

“This is an exciting new territory to be working in because today’s technology is allowing us to provide our customers with more services than ever before,” Mattman said.

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