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As auto show nears, local businesses green their fleets, add charging stations

Plug Ins Upgraded Despite Slow Sales: Car makers roll out new luxury models of electric cars at the Detroit auto show, emphasizing that in the future the plug-in will come in all shapes and sizes, even though the financials have yet to connect.

The Rochester Auto Show, which opens on Feb. 28 for a four-day run at the Riverside Convention Center, will have a lot of what it always has.

To wit: cars and trucks of all sizes gleaming in their newness, hoods popped to show impressive power plants, industry experts eager to talk about the past, present and future.

Yet what may not be as apparent as the stylish vehicles is the revolutionary direction of the entire industry.

As federal government moves toward tougher controls on fossil-fuel emissions and the world tackles global warming more aggressively, manufacturers have responded with a great array of alternative-fueled vehicles: hybrids, electric, propane, natural gas.

Gasoline still rules, as the auto show will amply demonstrate. But change no longer is approaching. It is here. At the Rochester show, will display its hybrid Prius. General Motors’ Volt will be there, as will the Nissan Leaf. The electric hybrid, $100,000 Fisker Karma, with the luxury lines of a Ferrari, is scheduled to make an appearance.

“The new CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards require that by 2025 vehicles must average 54 miles to the gallon,” said Mike Moser, president of MyFleetDept.com, a South Bristol, Ontario County, company that helps companies manage their vehicle fleets. “Currently, the average is 30 miles per gallon. So the manufacturers have 12 years to get from 30 to 54. They have to start now. And they are.”

Moser’s business has customers around the Northeast, many for electric-vehicle charging stations. He said many manufacturers are moving to build one or two electric models because their presence helps companies hit their CAFE average. A zero-emission model allows the carmakers to continue churning out luxury gas-guzzlers and pickups.

One of the key questions for the industry, local experts said, is the extent to which the supporting infrastructure for EV vehicles is up to the changes the manufacturers have made in designing and marketing alternative-fuel models.
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