DALLAS --- AT&T announced that BAF Technologies, a provider of natural gas vehicle upfits, will convert 600 Ford E-Series vans to compressed natural gas technology this year for AT&T's fleet.

AT&T expects to spend an estimated $350 million to purchase about 8,000 CNG vehicles as part of a $565 million, long-term strategy to deploy more than 15,000 alternative-fuel vehicles over the next 10 years. The new deployments will bring AT&T's alternative-fuel fleet to more than 15,000 vehicles by 2019.

"AT&T's commitment to alternative-fuel vehicles reflects our long-term goal to minimize dependence on imported sources of fuel and explore new automotive technologies," said Charlene Lake, AT&T chief sustainability officer. "Together with BAF Technologies, we hope this initiative helps boost other industries, while at the same time signaling demand for the production of more fuel-efficient vehicles."

The vehicles will use the BAF CapComp system, a proprietary CNG fuel system certified by the EPA. CNG vehicles are expected to emit approximately 25 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than those traditionally powered by gasoline.

"We're proud to join AT&T in its efforts to introduce more CNG vehicles into its fleet," said John Bacon, BAF Technologies president. "Not only will the new vehicles operate on domestic fuel, they also will be among the cleanest vehicles on the road. This program will soon be the standard other companies will follow."

The Center for Automotive Research (CAR) in Ann Arbor, Mich., estimates that for the years AT&T's fleet purchase program is operating, more than 1,000 jobs in the United States will be created or saved.

AT&T will work with natural gas service providers to build up to 40 new CNG fueling stations across its operating region to provide the fueling infrastructure needed for the new vehicles.

In addition to deploying CNG vehicles, AT&T has committed to replacing retiring gasoline-powered passenger vehicles in its fleet with alternative-fuel models. AT&T expects to replace 7,100 passenger cars over the next 10 years. The alternative-fuel vehicles, which will be used by employees in a variety of functions across AT&T's operations, are expected to offer up to a 39 percent improvement in fuel economy and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 29 percent.

During the initial phase of the deployment, gasoline-powered passenger vehicles will be replaced with hybrid models. As technologies evolve, additional alternative-fuel vehicle types will be considered for inclusion. A "Green Technology" insignia will make AT&T's alternative fuel vehicles easy to identify on the road.