LAS VEGAS - Almost half of fleets plan to purchase alternative fuel vehicles in the next three years, according to a phone survey conducted by the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Institute (AFVi).

AFVi surveyed 135 companies with fleets ranging in size from 70 to 72,000 vehicles. By fleet size, these companies are in the top 10 percent of all commercial companies in the U.S.

AFVi found that larger companies and those that already have some alternative fuel vehicles are more likely to have additional purchase plans.

When asked how important each of several specific factors are in the decision to purchase an alternative fuel vehicle, the most important factor is the "availability of the right alternative fuel vehicle to meet my fleet's need." This was followed by fuel availability, overall payback, and environmental concerns. Available incentives and the price of gasoline/diesel were less important factors.

According to the survey, the questions fleet managers have when considering an alternative fuel vehicle tend to focus on whether the vehicle will meet the job demand. Questions also focus on the initial cost, the cost to operate and fueling availability/infrastructure. In addition, the top place they turn for answers is the Internet.