By Matt Nauman
SAN FRANCISCO – People go to car shows to see sleek sports cars, family haulers and the latest auto gadgets.
And, this week, they’ll see bucket trucks, material haulers and other vehicles from PG&E’s green fleet.
The San Francisco International Auto Show runs from Thanksgiving through Monday (Dec. 2) at the Moscone Center. More than 600 2014 models from 38 manufacturers will be on display. The show also features ride-and-drives, classic cars, hot rods and a display of Ferraris.
Inside the show, PG&E will have a booth where some of its vehicles will be on exhibit and customers can learn more about the greening of the utility’s fleet. PG&E also is the sponsor of the Future Drive Expo, where everything from self-driving cars to electric cars to car-sharing vehicles will be on display in the 20,000-square-foot Gateway Ballroom.
Today (Nov. 27), PG&E gave the media a sneak peek of its green fleet, including offering reporters a ride inside the bucket of a work truck lifts utility electric workers 55 feet off the ground.
Dave Meisel said it shouldn’t be a surprise to customers that PG&E is taking part in an auto show.
“The big thing that we’re doing is showing that electrification isn’t just for little cars,” said Meisel, PG&E’s senior director of transportation services. “The opportunity for us to be both green and cost-effective is important for us as a utility.”
PG&E operates one of the greenest fleets in the country with more than 3,400 electric or alternative-fuel vehicles in use.
The vehicles benefit customers and PG&E’s employees, Meisel said. The vehicles result in fuel-cost savings and require less maintenance. By not having to idle diesel engines to operate vehicle components during a repair job, the vehicles allow PG&E crews to operate at night when some cities have noise restrictions. That quieter operation also allows PG&E crews to communicate, which increases safety and efficiency. There are obvious environmental benefits, too, he said.
“We’re really getting to the point where there’s no exhaust, there’s no noise and these vehicles are cost-effective from an operation perspective,” Meisel said.
In a commentary published earlier this year, Tony Earley, PG&E’s CEO and chairman, wrote that the nation’s utilities must embrace electric vehicles.
Outside Moscone today, PG&E exhibited:
- A Class-5 Range Extended Electric Vehicle built by Electric Vehicle International in Stockton. It has an all-electric range of 45 miles and fuel savings of up to 30 percent when operated in hybrid mode.
- The 2014 VIA Extended Range Electric pickup with a 40-mile electric range and available exportable power.
- Electric and plug-in hybrid cars from General Motors, Ford and other manufacturers.
The star of the show, however, was a Peterbilt/Allison Transmission Electric Hybrid Class 8 Material Handler truck that pairs a diesel engine with an electric motor and batteries. The large work truck came equipped with a 55-foot double bucket. In it, PG&E’s Mac Fernandez, a senior technical specialist in transportation services, was able to give reporters a sky-high view of San Francisco.
IF YOU GO: The 56th Annual San Francisco International Auto show runs from Thursday through Monday (Dec. 2) at the Moscone Center. Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily except Monday when the show closes at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults with children 12 and under free when accompanied by an adult.
Email Matt Nauman at email@example.com.