Energy First CU Offering Special Rates On Natural Gas Vehicles

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It was only natural that Energy First CU, which was originally sponsored by the local gas company, should participate in a promotion of the new natural gas vehicles (NGV).

"Our sponsor company was Southern California Gas, and now Sempra Energy is the parent company, and they approached us about helping them to promote the purchase and use of NGVs," said EFCU's Michelle Stewart, who noted that Energy First CU also partnered with Financial 21 Community CU in San Diego, which serves Sempra-owned San Diego Gas & Electric employees in that area.

Energy First Credit Union is hosting a series of "road shows" that give gas company employees the opportunity to test drive an NGV, and EFCU offered on-the-spot financing. Several hundred people showed up for the kick-off road show.

"People were really interested in these cars. They were surprised at how much smoother the ride is than a regular car," Stewart said. "One person actually took one of the cars for a full two hours before bringing it back!"

Among the incentives offered for buying an NGV are discounted loan rates from EFCU, special HOV privileges on the freeway (even with a single passenger), free metered parking in downtown Los Angeles; and a potential $1,500 tax deduction.

The $405-million credit union is working on getting one of the NGVs to demo at its branches.

"It's a winning situation all the way around-members receive a rate discount when they buy a new or used compressed NGV, the environment wins with the use of alternative fuel sources, and American Ford and Honda, the dealers currently offering natural gas vehicles, also give members a discount on the price," the credit union said.

Energy First began working with Mike Bolin, NGV Account Manager for Sempra, to promote these environmentally friendly vehicles with a series of road shows. The road shows were designed to allow gas company employees to not only test drive the vehicles but also to learn how to fuel the vehicles and inquire about financing.

The kick-off event was at Century Park in San Diego. EFCU Executive Vice President, Chris Lamb, drove a Ford F-150 truck, at the local dealer's request, to San Diego for the event.

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