LAS VEGAS, NV – Eighty-seven percent of the City of Las Vegas’ 1,500 vehicles — from passenger cars to front-end loaders — now use some type of alternative fuel, according to Scripps Howard News Service. Dan Hyde, the city’s transportation manager, has spearheaded a nationally recognized program that transformed the city’s gasoline-powered vehicles into a fleet that runs on hydrogen, vegetable oil, and other alternative fuels.

Hyde said that the impact of the city’s program goes beyond the amount and types of fuels used, and that the ultimate goal is to demonstrate that alternative fuels are practical for everyday use and affordable for the general public.

The city’s fleet includes two Honda FCXs that cost more than $1 million each. They are among only a handful of hydrogen-fueled cars being tested by the company in practical application. The FCX’s fuel cell generates electricity by combining hydrogen with oxygen from the air, creating a reaction that releases electricity and produces water vapor, the car’s only emission, according to Scripps Howard News Service. The cars fill up at a hydrogen fueling station, the first of its kind when it was built in 2002.

Under normal circumstances, the city could not justify the cars’ cost or the fueling station’s $11 million price tag. Honda, however, leases the two vehicles to the city for about $14,000 per year, and the federal government and private investors paid for the fueling station.

While the Honda’s $1 million cost makes it impractical for wide usage, Hyde pointed out that five years ago, hydrogen cars cost about $5 million. With increased production, the cars could eventually get down to about $50,000, according to the report.

Las Vegas’s fleet includes vehicles that use other alternative fuels, such as natural gas, electricity, and biodiesel. Other vehicles are hybrids that use more than one type of fuel.

The two local hydrogen cars get about 150 miles to a tankful and can be refueled only at the city’s garage, although a second site is set to open soon. The city would like to develop a regional connecting corridor for hydrogen refueling with Arizona, California, and New Mexico, but that idea is at least a few years away.