PASADENA, CA --- CALSTART, a nonprofit group that works with the public and private sectors to develop green transportation technologies, is partnering with other organizations to create a Natural Gas Vehicle Cooperative Purchase Program.

The program will coordinate the high-volume purchase of light- and medium-duty vehicles by public and private fleets, according to the Natural Gas Vehicle for America (NGVAmerica) cooperative.

The program will mostly be conducted within California but will also include Arizona and Nevada to increase potential demand. The cooperative will assist fleet managers in "greening" their fleets with cleaner alternative fuel vehicles at affordable prices.

In addition, the cooperative wants to aggregate large enough numbers to give dealers and manufacturers incentive to expand the market for these vehicles, NGVAmerica said.

Although all major OEMs except Honda have left the natural gas vehicle market, the void has been filled with lower volume manufacturers who supply EPA or CARB-certified engines and vehicle upfits. However, availability and type of product is not always well-known by fleets, nor are the low-volume manufacturers' and upfitters' products as readily accepted by fleets, NGVAmerica said. There also is the challenge of higher cost from lower volumes and single orders.

Some of the vehicles available through the cooperative will include the Honda Civic GX; Ford F-150 pickup; Ford E-350 van; Ford E-450 cutaway; Ford Crown Victoria; GM C4500 and C5500 Shuttle Bus; GMC S10; GMC Sonoma; Chevrolet Silverado Pickup; and Isuzu NPR.

The NGV Cooperative is currently developing bid specifications for dealers and will publish purchasing guidelines for fleets later in 2008.

Membership is simple, free, and open to all fleets. To join in the NGV Cooperative, contact CALSTART at (626) 744-5600.