The program, spearheaded by the South Coast Air Quality Management
District, bridges the gap between oil-fueled autos and ones that
operate on hydrogen, said Marisa Garcia, an administrative analyst
for the city's Department of Public Works.
"We're trying to make the transition to fuel cells easier," Garcia
said. "So this is more of a transitional step in the ultimate
development of fuel-cell vehicles."
The city will spend $125,000 to purchase five Toyota Prius hybrid
cars, which will go to such "high usage" city employees as building
The AQMD will contribute more than $2 million to convert the
city's autos, along with five cars each from the cities of Ontario,
Riverside, Santa Ana and Santa Monica, said Chung Liu, the executive
officer heading the organization's technology advancement office. The
Department of Defense is also expected to give $500,000 to the
The end result of the program is to pave the way for cleaner
transportation in Southern California, Liu said.
"Fuel-cell vehicles don't use a combustible process, they use a
chemical process [that emits no exhaust]," he said. "Although there
is some air pollution when creating hydrogen fuel, the car's
electricity comes from a green source and is basically
The AQMD will also build a hydrogen fueling station in each city,
including a site at 810 N. Lake St. The plan is to make the stations
available for public use once hydrogen-cell cars are on the market.
The program's ultimate goal is to help the four-county region meet
federal standards for the ground-level ozone air quality deadline in
six years, said Councilman Todd Campbell, who is also the policy
director for the nonprofit organization Coalition for Clean Air.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected sometime this spring to
unveil a plan that would create about 200 refueling stations for
hydrogen-powered cars along state highways and interstates, Campbell
"By doing this, we're not only helping out the basin, we're also
supporting the governor and his efforts to ensure the state reaches
its goal by 2010," he said.
Burbank has 12 electric and 31 natural-gas vehicles, Garcia said,
adding that the city expects to have 15 natural gas refuse trucks in
its fleet by June.