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Ecotrans Partnerships Aim at Making Southern California A World Leader
 In Natural Gas Vehicle Use & Development
 LOS ANGELES, Oct. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Southern California Gas Co. announced today it would create a multimillion dollar manufacturing facility in East Los Angeles for the production of natural gas-powered vehicles (NGVs).
 The facility, to be known as Ecotrans, will specialize in the production of new NGVs, the conversion of conventionally fueled vehicles to natural gas and will include an NGV research and development center.
 The entry of The Gas Company subsidiary into the vehicle manufacturing industry is another demonstration of the company's strong conviction that the use of low-emission natural gas vehicles must be accelerated in the effort to reduce harmful air pollution and comply with state and federally mandated clean air requirements.
 Joining The Gas Company in this venture are three well-established NGV industry companies, PAS Inc. of Troy, Mich.; NGV Systems of Long Beach, Calif.; and 4E Technologies of Los Angeles.
 "With more than 30,000 NGVs already on the road in this country, the reliability, cost effectiveness and most important, the environmental benefits of natural gas vehicles are a proven fact," said Warren Mitchell, president of The Gas Company and incoming chairman of the Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition. "We anticipate that the recognized performance benefits of NGVs, their economy of operation and the need to meet federal and state clean air requirements will result in more than 300,000 NGVs on the road in our Southern California service area by the turn of the century," he added.
 Mitchell said the decision to get into the automobile business was prompted by the belief that a strong demand for NGVs will require a new facility producing a constant supply of vehicles.
 "The vehicles Ecotrans will put on the street will produce far fewer pollutants than conventional vehicles," he said, "and will be capable of meeting California's Low Emission Vehicle Standards." NGVs reduce the ingredients of smog by as much as 98 percent. Their production of carbon dioxide is as much as 30 percent lower than conventionally fueled vehicles and they cut carbon monoxide by 86 percent.
 According to Mitchell, the combination of NGV production/conversion and emission performance testing in a single operation offers the kind of unique "one-two punch" that will further establish Southern California as the center for NGV use and development worldwide.
 The Ecotrans facility now under construction at The Gas Company's property at Olympic and Santa Fe in East Los Angeles, will consist of two subsidiary business units of The Gas Company.
 One venture, Ecotrans Vehicle Industries, will equip new General Motors vehicles to run on natural gas. This manufacturing process, known as upfitting, will be operated in partnership with PAS Inc., a leading specialty vehicle original equipment manufacturer (OEM) with specific experience in NGV production. Ecotrans Vehicle Industries will receive directly from the factory, four models of General Motors vehicles: the full-size passenger and cargo van known as the "G" van; the multipurpose step-in van referred to by GM as the "P" chassis; the medium-duty truck and the full-size Sierra pickup.
 The assembly of these vehicles will be completed at the East Los Angeles center by the addition of natural gas tanks, fuel delivery systems and electronic diagnostic components. The new vehicles will conform to all OEM standards and will carry a full OEM warranty. Some will be sold and serviced through approved dealerships, others will be marketed to fleet owners by 4E Technologies a leading auto industry sales and consulting firm.
 The second business to be operated at the Ecotrans site, NGV Ecotrans Technology Center, will convert new and existing conventionally fueled vehicles to natural gas operation. This business will be owned and managed jointly by The Gas Company and NGV Systems Inc., a leader in vehicle conversion technology. NGV Ecotrans will have the capability to convert a wide range of vehicles using a variety of after-market conversion systems.
 These systems will have the ability to meet the standards set by the California Air Resources Board for 1996 and beyond and will be fully warranted and serviced by NGV Ecotrans for up to 36,000 miles or 36 months.
 The NGV Ecotrans research and development center will operate a fully certified emissions laboratory to evaluate performance and continuously improve quality and safety standards in the industry.
 The twin facilities are expected to convert or upfit some 5,000 vehicles by the end of 1994 with a production goal of 17,000 vehicles manufactured by year-end Dec. 31, 1996.
 Initial sales will be to fleet operators in the western United States, but as air quality standards grow more stringent and the number of refueling stations increases, sales to individual motorists are anticipated. To prepare for this increase, The Gas Company is supporting and assisting in the installation of natural gas refueling stations in Southern California. Thirty-three stations are now in place. A total of 51 will be completed by the end of this year and it is anticipated that close to 200 stations will be in operation in this area by the end of 1996. The Gas Company is also sponsoring the installation and testing of 100 home compressor units in Southern California which allow individuals or businesses to conveniently refuel their vehicles at home or at their place of work.
 The Gas Company and its Ecotrans partners will invest more than $8 million in the East Los Angeles operation, creating much-needed jobs and payroll in an economically disadvantaged area of Los Angeles. If vehicle sales increase as anticipated, the center is expected to employ more than 100 workers by the end of 1994, the majority from the local community.
 "Although natural gas has been widely known for over a century as a safe and dependable fuel for residential, commercial and industrial uses, it is just now beginning to get the recognition it deserves as a very abundant, safe, economical and environmentally friendly fuel for vehicles," Mitchell said.
 It is estimated there is enough natural gas in the United States alone to meet the country's needs for the next 100 years. Natural gas is an economical fuel as well, averaging 30 to 40 percent less for the equivalent of a gallon of gasoline.
 According to a recent survey conducted by the American Gas Association, there have been no fatalities associated with the operation of natural gas-powered vehicles after more than 280 million miles of monitoring between 1987 and 1991. Since leaking natural gas will dissipate into the atmosphere, the fuel poses a far less safety risk than highly flammable liquid fuels.
 Natural gas vehicles have a proven record of performance equal to or surpassing conventional fuels and an outstanding record of longer engine life and lower maintenance costs due to the fuel's clean burning characteristics. The fact that the fuel does not have to be transformed from liquid to gas before ignition in the engine eliminates cold starting problems.
 "In the discussion over alternative fuels," Mitchell added, "it is important to remember that the need for cleaner air is now and that natural gas vehicles represent an economical, high-performance contribution to cleaner air that is available now."
 -0- 10/11/93
 /NOTE TO EDITORS: A Gas Company spokesman is available for interviews at the Ecotrans facility under construction at 2424 E. Olympic Blvd. in East Los Angeles. Natural gas vehicles and representative models of the GM vehicles to be upfitted are at the site for photographing and ride alongs. An oversized artist rendering of the new natural gas vehicle manufacturing facility and other displays is on site. Call Denise King at 213-244-3030 to arrange an interview./
 /CONTACT: Denise King, 213-244-3030/

CO: Southern California Gas Company; PAS Inc.; NGV Systems;
 4E Technologies ST: California IN: UTI AUT SU: JVN

JL-NY -- LA010 -- 0558 10/11/93 09:01 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Oct 11, 1993

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