One of the most important transportation issues of the day is the challenge of moving advanced technology vehicles from the research labs and onto the highway, a challenge being addressed today at the Democratic National Convention here in Los Angeles.

Nowhere is this challenge being tackled more vigorously than at General Motors Corp., which is leading the charge toward sustainable transportation with a growing lineup of advanced technology and alternative fuel vehicles. Many of these cars and trucks are now in use at the Convention.

"It is time for us to recognize the value of clean energy to our communities and to our world, and to commit to sustaining our investment in clean energy in the years to come," says Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO), a champion of renewable energy. "I'm glad that GM and others are stepping up and providing convenient and reliable alternative fuel vehicles like the EV-1, as well as hybrid and fuel cell vehicles which will help us secure our energy future."

GM vehicles on the ground at the DNC range from groundbreaking EV1 electric cars to bi-fuel Chevrolet Cavalier sedans and Silverado pick-ups that run on either clean burning natural gas or unleaded gasoline. Also making the rounds in L.A. are flexible-fuel Chevrolet S-10 pick-ups that can be driven on any mixture of renewable E85 ethanol or gasoline from the same tank.

Beyond these clean fuel vehicles, GM also sells both light- and medium-duty trucks that run on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG, or propane) and an electric S-10 EV pick-up. This lineup expands in the 2002 model year with the addition of E85 ethanol flexible-fuel Chevrolet Suburban, Chevrolet Tahoe, and GMC Yukon and Yukon XL models. An E85 flexible-fuel Chevrolet Avalanche will join the line in the 2003 model year and a hybrid electric Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pick-up in 2004.

"No vehicle manufacturer will be able to thrive in the future with 100 percent dependency on the internal combustion engine," says GM Vice Chairman Harry Pearce. "Our focus as a company is to lead in developing and marketing clean and efficient transportation solutions. GM led with the EV1, we have sold thousands of alternative fuel vehicles, we have new hybrid vehicles coming to market soon, and we're developing the next generation of transportation, the zero emission fuel cell vehicle."

Building on the momentum created by the EV1 -- a vehicle widely recognized as setting the tone for the auto industry's current move toward more efficient and environmentally conscious vehicles -- GM continues to lead the field with important, far-reaching innovations that encompass vehicles designed to use both conventional and alternative transportation fuels.

Getting sustainable transportation technologies out of the R&D labs and onto the highway is challenging even for the largest automaker in the world, though. Partnering with others -- from Toyota, Honda, and Isuzu to ExxonMobil -- is crucial.

Among the most exciting innovations to emerge from this partnering is the breakthrough in fuel cell technology just developed with partner ExxonMobil, which will allow hydrogen fuel cell vehicles to move beyond the research lab and onto the highway. With this new technology, highly-efficient fuel cell vehicles can be refueled with gasoline from any of the tens of thousands of gas stations found nationwide, offering a convenient refueling "bridge" until a widespread hydrogen fueling infrastructure is developed.

"Alternative energy technologies like these not only have the obvious environmental benefits, but benefit the economy by stimulating the private sector, and benefit our national security by reducing our reliance on imported oil," adds Udall. "The federal government must play an important role both by providing incentives for the research and development of alternative fuels, and embracing the use of alternative energy in its own operations."

CHAMPIONING THE ENVIRONMENT

Mark Udall (D-CO), a first-term Congressman, co-chairs the House Caucus on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency. He is a member of the House Resources Committee, the Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands, and the Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health. In addition, Udall is a member of the House Science Committee, serves on the Subcommittee on Technology and Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, and sits on the House Small Business Committee.

The son of Morris "Mo" Udall, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 30 years and ran for the Democratic nomination for President in 1976, Rep. Mark Udall is Democratic Deputy Regional Whip for the western United States and is the Democratic freshman class vice president.