Looking down the road at new air pollution rules, Vons has been testing the nation's first long-haul truck tractor to run on compressed natural gas.
The retail food chain has been using the prototype 18-wheeler on its regular run from a distribution center in El Monte to stores in Bakersfield. "We have been very pleased with the results," said Julie Reynolds, a spokeswoman for Vons Cos.
Federal air-pollution regulations covering interstate transporters begin to tighten in 1994. Natural gas is far less polluting than diesel fuel and is considered particularly appropriate as an alternative fuel for fleet use.
So far, air emissions from the Vons truck are 50% to 75% less than comparable diesel big rigs, according to Mike Eaves, research manager for industrial and transportation research at Southern California Gas Co.