• A Spark of Interest

    There’s no state with more zero emission vehicles for sale than California and in large part that’s due to  rules that started in 2012 requiring six automakers, known as “Large Vehicle Makers,”  to sell a specified number of the vehicles. Tomorrow, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) will hold a hearing on proposed changes to that rule for Intermediate Vehicle Makers (IVMs).  The IVMs are concerned that their smaller size and limited resources make it hard to develop battery-electric vehicles (BEVs).  Rest assured, though, that as BEVs continue to gain a foothold, the Golden State will be prepared. The California Building Code, beginning in 2015, requires all new housing and parking lots to be equipped with the conduit and electrical system capacity for EV charging stations.

    Suffering from range anxiety? Researchers from North Carolina have come to the rescue as they have developed new software designed to more precisely gauge how much farther EVs can go before needing a recharge. The software plugs in traffic data that accounts for whether you are on a highway or in a city, weather, road grade and other variables. They report 95% accuracy in some of their studies. 

    Researchers at the University of Delaware are running with the idea that vehicle-to-grid (V2G) can offset the higher upfront cost of EVs, and in particular, they are looking at school buses as the perfect application. They conclude that an average Delaware school district could save $38 million across a whole fleet. In the meantime, the Environmental Protection Agency is offering up to $3 million to replace old school bus engines with more fuel efficient new ones. School buses manufactured in 2006 or earlier are eligible. The deadline is November 17.

    Sparks are flying on the truck side, too. Trucking Info looks at the economics of the electric truck market and how many manufacturers are employing different approaches to get to scale. Brett Gipe with Electric Vehicles International (EVI) observed that while there are a variety of state and local grant programs, we need a single federal program that will work for everyone in the country. CALSTART administers several of the programs including ones for the states of California and New York, as well as the City of Chicago. 

    Ian Wright has delivery and garbage trucks on the brain these days. The co-founder of Tesla Motors has founded Wrightspeed, a startup that designs electric powertrains for medium-and heavy-duty trucks. His move to that market segment is because big trucks burn most of the fuel so the financial incentive exists for fleets to go electric. Yesterday, a Worcester, Massachusetts  transit agency went electric and Governor Patrick hailed the move. The Worcester Regional Transit Authority purchased six Proterra plug-in, all –electric buses.

    Last up is Massachusetts-based XL Hybrids out with the news that their fleet customers have logged 4 million cumulative on-road miles. The developer of hybrid-electric powertrain technology counts Coca-Cola and PepsiCo among their customers. 

    Last week I reminded you about CALSTART’s annual meeting which focuses on pathways for clean technologies. Who better to address that subject than our most recent keynote speaker confirmation-Dr. Cheryl Martin. Martin is the Acting Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), U.S. Department of Energy. The date of the meeting is December 9 at the Westin Bonaventure in downtown Los Angeles. Click here for proof that the agenda represents a who’s who of the clean transportation industry.
    CARB Hearing on Softening Zero-Emission Requirements, Transport Evolved

    California Building Code to Require All New Construction to be EV Ready, Charged

    Researchers Take Big-Data Approach to Estimate Range of EVs, Phys.Org

    How To Make Electric School Buses as Cheap as Diesel, Fast Company

    EPA Offers $3 M to Replace School Bus Engines, The Hill

    Electric Trucks Generating a Spark of Interest, Trucking Info

    California HVIP, NYSERDA VIP, Drive Clean Chicago, CALSTART

    Why This Tesla Motors Co-Founder Loves Electric Garbage Trucks, Xconomy

    Governor Patrick Applauds Worcester Bus Fleet for Going Electric, Streetwise

    XL Hybrids Reaches Hybrid-Electric System Milestone, NGT News

    A New Era for Clean Transportation, Pathways for Clean Technologies, CALSTART

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  • Two Buses Better Than One

    The Department of Defense is taking very seriously that climate change is a threat to our national security. Earlier this week the Pentagon released a report which elevates the planning to a call to action for the military to incorporate climate change into strategic planning about high risk regions. The previous military emphasis had been on preparing military installations to adapt to its effects. 

    CALSTART has received approval from the U.S. Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to develop a 60-foot-long articulated bus powered by a hydrogen fuel cell/battery combination electric drive. New Flyer Industries is teaming with fuel cell supplier, Ballard Power Systems, and Siemens, the electric powertrain manufacturer. CALSTART is managing the project which is funded by FTA’s National Fuel Cell Bus Program. Ballard has been busy as they’ve also signed a long-term agreement with Plug Power to provide fuel cell stacks for use in Plug Power’s Gen Drive systems in forklift trucks.

    Buses are taking center stage in Houston this week as the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is hosting their expo there. Cummins is one of the companies showcasing their diverse portfolio of diesel and natural gas engines. And BYD is attracting attention at the show with the reveal of two electric buses. The Lancaster eBus can drive 170+ miles with battery power that lasts up to 24 hours on one charge. They also showed a smaller transit bus from Antelope Valley Transit Authority (ACTA) in California, which arrived in Houston having driven 1,500 zero-emission miles from Los Angeles.

    Kudos to Boston-based XL Hybrids which has received California Air Resources Board (CARB) approval of their aftermarket conversions of gasoline-powered vans into hybrid electric vehicles. Their XL3 Hybrid Electric Drive System is on sale now for the first time in California. Speaking of firsts, Tesla introduced a suite of sensors and software giving them a new array of automated driving options. Elon Musk revealed what the Model S ‘D’ stands for. It’s a dual motor, one in the front and one in the back. There are plenty of videos if you want to take the time to see it for yourself.

    If you haven’t booked your trip to Los Angeles on December 9th for A New Era for Clean Transportation: Pathways for Clean Technologies, do it now! This is CALSTART’s annual meeting and awards luncheon and included among the impressive lineup of speakers is EPA’s Director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality, Chris Grundler; Jerry Hirsch, Automotive Business Writer for the Los Angeles Times; and Puon Penn with Wells Fargo Bank and Ryan Popple, a partner with Kleiner Perkins. For the complete agenda, click here.

    It’s Official, US Military Goes All In On Climate Change Adaptation, MSNBC

    Battery/Fuel Cell Zero-Emission Bus a North American First, Environment News Service

    Ballard, Plug Power Sign Fuel Cell Supply Agreement, NGT News

    Cummins Showcases Extensive Engine Lineup at APTA, School Transportation News

    You Wait Years for a Battery Powered Bus and Now There are Two, PV Magazine

    California ARB Clears XL Hybrids for Hybrid Van Conversions, Green Car Congress

    Watch Tesla Unveil Model S D Trim, Autobloggreen

    CALSTART Annual Meeting December 9, CALSTART

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  • Baconomics

    First up-news for optimism. InsideEVs is reporting that plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) made up the highest percentage ever tallied of total EVs sold in the US. While the overall percentage for last month is .85%, it is 20% higher than the percentage sold one year ago. Hopefully EV sales will eventually mirror Toyota’s success with hybrids. The company has now sold over 7 million units, and is committed to their hybrid drivetrain technology saying it is far from reaching its peak, as some industry analysts have implied. 

    Volvo is talking real fuel efficiency as the company has unleashed a high-performance, 2-liter, triple-turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with an impressive 450 hp. The High Performance Drive E Powertrain Concept is one of the most advanced 4-cylinder engines in terms of emissions and fuel consumption.

    The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) top Administrator is talking fuel efficiency, too, and encouraging input on Phase 2 of the medium-and heavy-duty truck regulations. Addressing the American Trucking Association, Gina McCarthy touted the fuel efficiency gains that have been made by the nation’s trucking fleet. Two short weeks ago, EPA’s Karl Simon addressed attendees of CALSTART’s High-Efficiency Truck User’s Forum and Phase 2 rules were on his mind as well. He said they are in the process of doing the rule now and the proposal will be out in March. In the interim, he implored the audience to provide comments. Simon’s presentation, along with those of other HTUF speakers, is now available on CALSTART’s website.

    Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Loan Programs Office director has said that they are poised to make their first loans in more than three years. The Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program makes loans for fuel-saving technologies. It is unclear who the loan recipients will be but the focus has been on suppliers and there is interest in lighter weight vehicles. 

    There’s a new jet fuel made from sugar cane called farnesane, and when mixed with regular jet fuel, airlines around the globe are testing it as a way to meet their ambitious goals to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Amyris, a California-based biotech firm, has developed farnesane in a joint venture with Total. Amyris has a plant in Sao Paulo with a production capacity of 50 million liters a year.

    Passions run high for bacon, motorcycles, and film so what’s an advertising creative team to do? The clever folks at Hormel Foods enlisted BBDO Minneapolis ad agency to add sizzle to San Diego’s International Bacon Film Festival this past August. To promote the event, Hormel teamed up with Bio-Blend Fuels to create a motorcycle that runs on bacon grease. Well, not pure bacon grease. The biofuel also included paraffin hydroxide and methanol. From Minnesota to California the bio-fueled bike attracted a lot of attention as it made its way to the film festival. If you can’t get enough of this, you can see the documentary at Driven by Bacon. .

    EVs Reach Highest Percentage of US Auto Sales to Date, Huffington Post

    Toyota Has Now Sold Over 7 Million Hybrids, Transport Evolved

    Volvo Unveils High-Performance Drive-E Engine, The Car Guide

    EPA Chief Hails Fuel Efficiency Rules for Trucks, KPBS

    HTUF Presentations

    U.S. Planning First Auto Retooling Loans Since 2011, The Detroit News

    Airlines Fly the Skies on a Sugar High, The New York Times

    A Motorcycle Fueled by Bacon, Fast Company

    Driven by Bacon

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  • Money Talks

    Participants in NAFA’s Spring I&E event in Minneapolis learned all about the new Sustainable Fleet Standard Program tool, launched with CALSTART. The first wave of testing is now complete with the second phase beginning this month. CALSTART is compiling feedback and expects to have a first status update by the middle of the month. The program intention is to pioneer a movement in the fleet community that emphasizes the benefits and importance of sustainability.

    There’s no one technology answer but University of Michigan professor and former senior fellow at the Environmental Defense Fund, John DeCicco, recently posed a question about whether intelligent cars can reach sustainability goals faster than electric vehicles. DeCicco argues for the benefits of connected and automated transportation systems while others question why you have to choose just one.

    And what about that next generation Chevy Volt? Stay tuned as GM has launched a teaser campaign with photos of the 2016 Volt. The photo features swirly camouflage and enthusiasts will have to wait for the real thing to be unveiled in January at the North American International Auto Show to see what the automaker has come up with. Toyota is offering an inside look at their new hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, too. The Toyota FCV is similar to their hybrid vehicles but the gasoline engine is gone and has been replaced with a fuel cell. The vehicle is expected to be released in the US in the summer of 2015.

    Two of CALSTART’s newest members have made the news. GreenTech Automotive is a U.S.-based manufacturer of energy-efficient, all-electric vehicles. Ninety-four investors have contributed $47 million in an equity round. The company recently completed an assembly plant in Mississippi and expects to begin production by the end of the year. New York-based Plug Power is talking money, too, and in their case, the manufacturer of hydrogen fuel cells for power forklifts, refrigerated trucks, and other equipment in the material handling industry, is going to offer financing packages to customers.

    CALSTART received word this week that a longtime industry veteran, Richard Lowenthal, is retiring from ChargePoint. Richard is the founder and CTO. CALSTART’s President and CEO commented on the retirement saying, “Richard has been the tip of the Silicon Valley spear, leading the way into the next generation of a networked, smart charging sector.” Kudos to an industry hero.

    NAFA Completes Beta Test for Sustainable Fleet Tool, Autosphere

    Would Intelligent Cars Get us Green Quicker than Electric Cars? Green Car Reports

    GM Teases Next Chevy Volt in Camo, Gas2

    Toyota’s New Hydrogen Car, Motley Fool

    GreenTech Automotive Reports $47 Million Raise in SEC Filing, Automotive News

    Plug Power Expects to Boost Revenue With new Financing Package Deal, Albany Business Review

    Richard Lowenthal, ChargePoint

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  • High-Efficiency Tough

    California’s Governor Jerry Brown has been busy this week, having signed several bills to advance the clean transportation market in the state. One initiative is to make electric vehicles more affordable for low-income residents. The aim is to have one million zero-emission and near-zero-emission vehicles on the state’s roads by 2023. Additionally, the Governor signed a bill authored by Senators Lara and Pavley that creates the California Clean Truck, Bus, and Off-Road Vehicle and Equipment Technology Program, a move lauded by CALSTART President and CEO, John Boesel. 

    Southern California Edison (SCE) is thinking big too. The utility announced yesterday the largest battery project in North America and one of the largest battery storage projects in the world. As the industry searches for how to make a business case for energy storage, SCE’s demonstration is a $53.5 million project housed in a 6300 square foot building. “Thanks to advances in battery technology, storage is beginning to look like a real feasible solution,” said Doug Kim, SCE’s Director of Advanced Technologies.

    Natural gas production is booming in the United States and the fueling infrastructure to support it as a transportation fuel has a lot of catch up to do to make it viable. Argonne National Laboratory announced this week a new tool to help local and state governments measure the economic benefits of building new compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations. Westport Innovations has unveiled the first generation of its new, proprietary enhanced spark-ignited (ESI) natural gas system. It is designed to provide vehicle and engine OEMs with a cost competitive, downsized solution. It targets Class 6 and 7 trucks as well as applications for use in automotive and non-automotive applications.

    Phase 2 of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Greenhouse Gas (GHG) rules will be out in March. The rules will govern trailers, more trucks and new testing procedures but it has yet to be determined what will be included in the proposed rules. Participants in CALSTART’s High-Efficiency Truck Users Forum in Chicago this week heard about the rules first hand from Karl Simon, Director, Transportation and Climate Division at EPA. He implored attendees to offer ideas, opportunities and important things EPA needs to hear to make the rules work for industry, observing, “We have a long track record of changing things based on information we hear.”

    If you weren’t able to join CALSTART in Chicago, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a nice snapshot of what happened there. From the array of people to the very exciting range of medium- and heavy-duty trucks in the Ride-and-Drive, it was a provocative meeting. Check out the photographic snapshot here.

    Governor Brown Signs Into Law Measures to Boost Electric Cars, New York Times

    CALSTART Applauds Governor Brown, CALSTART

    SCE Bets Big on Lithium Ion for the Nation’s Largest Energy Storage Project, Silicon Beat

    New Tool Predicts Economic Impacts of NG Stations, Phys.org

    Westport Has a New NG Technology for OEMs, NGT News

    EPA’s Phase 2 GHG Rules Still Unknown, Truckinginfo

    HTUF In Review, CALSTART

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  • Number One Disrupter

    The Union of Concerned Scientists is out with an update to their 2012 report on electric vehicles (EVs) which showed lackluster results in how clean they are. Yesterday they reported new data documenting that in 60% of the U.S., EVs are responsible for fewer heat-trapping global warming emissions per mile than even the most efficient hybrids. States that don’t rely heavily on coal for power generation are faring best in reducing transportation-related pollution

    EVs are doing well on college campuses, too, according to ChargePoint, an EV charging station provider. Growth is up 35% over last year. The University of California at Davis has the most with 38, followed by Towson University in Maryland, with 36.

    CALSTART’s newest member, Green Tech Automotive, has completed a factory in Mississippi for the manufacture of small electric vehicles. The company is prepping two models for production by the end of 2014. One is a neighborhood-electric vehicle and the other is a G2 battery-electric sedan.

    BYD and Proterra are both making inroads in the U.S. electric public transit market. The latter is out with news that they’ve selected Toshiba’s Rapid Recharge SCiB battery for their next generation of buses. BYD is building its own batteries. 

    “Global conquest,” “coolest kid in class,” “environmental status symbol,” “the first great American auto baron in almost a century.”  Could Elon Musk be finding it difficult to deal with the adulation of his fans? Vanity Fair is the latest to herald the Tesla Motors icon by naming him the number 1 “disrupter” on their annual list. Tesla is working on a mass-market vehicle, the Model 3.

    Bimbo Bakeries, the largest bakery company in the U.S. has recently added 16 natural gas trucks for its California trucking fleet, and they’ve converted 81 delivery trucks to CNG thanks to a Pennsylvania alternative fuels grant. Natural gas is gaining a lot of traction in the commercial truck fleet market but what about passenger vehicles? For a decade the CNG fueled Honda Civic has provided the choice for consumers and now Chevrolet is ready to launch a dual-fuel Impala, creating CNG passenger car competition. 

    There’s a lot happening in the Windy City where Motiv Power Systems has delivered the first of 20 quiet and clean electric garbage trucks. The trucks, purchased by the City of Chicago, are estimated to reduce costs to just 10-cents per mile (compared to 80-cents with standard diesel), and offsets 55 barrels of petroleum and 23 tons of carbon dioxide, per truck, annually. 

    Attendees of the 2014 High-Efficiency Truck Users Forum will get to take the Motiv all-electric refuse truck for a spin at the national meeting being held next week at Argonne National Laboratory outside of Chicago.  This is the last day to register for the meeting which features keynote speakers Karl Simon, Director of the EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality (OTAQ) transportation and climate division, and David Friedman, Acting Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Click here to register and be part of the process for making change happen in the high-efficiency truck and bus arena.

    EVs are Cleaner but Still Not a Magic Bullet, New York Times

    ChargePoint Shows Increase in Campus EV Charging, Domestic Fuel

    Green Tech Auto Restarting Production Later This Year, Autoblog Green

    Toshiba to Provide Fast-Charging Batteries for Proterra, CleanTechnica

    Elon Musk-Vanity Fair’s Number One Disrupter, Autoblog Green

    Bimbo Bakeries Adds Leased CNG Trucks, Trucking Info

    Honda, Chevrolet Give Natural Gas Push, Los Angeles Times

    Motiv Delivers First Electric Garbage Truck to Chicago, Gas 2.0

    Leading EPA and NHTSA Officials to Keynote HTUF, NGT News

    HTUF Last Day to Register

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  • Flight Fisticuffs

    Auto sales figures for August are out and the top automakers reported unexpectedly strong sales with General Motors, Toyota, Ford and Chrysler performing well. Analysts attribute the results to low gas prices and heavy discounts resulting in a sales pace not seen since 2006. Just like sales, American driving levels are at a high not seen in six years. Vehicle-miles-traveled were at the highest level for any June since 2010. The estimates were released by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration and were used by Transportation Secretary Foxx to call for more investment in highway spending programs. 

    Between 2000 and 2012, Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi Province in China, implemented new environmental policies and regulations to curb air pollution. A new study documents the resulting health and economic benefits which cut health costs in half.  The Chinese government is expected to announce a new policy soon that would invest $16 billion to grow the electric vehicle (EV) market and the development of charging infrastructure. This could be good news for Tesla which has targeted China as part of their future growth.

    California EV owners will benefit from the passage of AB-2565, which was sent to Governor Brown earlier this week. The law requires landlords of rental properties to conditionally allow tenants to install charging stations, thereby potentially increasing adoption rates. Meanwhile, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is holding a hearing on October 23 to possibly modify the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) regulation. Adjustments were initially requested by Volvo and four other intermediate volume manufacturers (IVMs) to allow them time to come into the advanced technology vehicle market.

    Fueling your vehicle with farm waste is being called by some the next new era in clean ethanol. Today, a $275 million factory opened in Emmertsburg, Iowa, the first of several to open this year to produce large-scale cellulosic ethanol. There’s also good news for heavy-duty applications in that Oberon Fuels has been given EPA approval for inclusion under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Their biogas-based DME resulted in a 68% reduction in greenhouse gases when compared to diesel. 

    Calling all New York propane vehicle enthusiasts. The New York Propane Gas Association (NYPGA) is administering a rebate program allowing residents to apply for a $5,000 incentive program to apply toward the purchase or conversion of a propane autogas vehicle. There’s a one-time rebate per resident/fleet and the program ends December 31, 2014.

    I can’t resist the growing number of stories about recliner rage on airplanes. On Monday, a flight fight from New York to Florida between a person resting her head on the tray table and a person wanting to recline while she knitted resulted in an emergency landing. Next up-possibly cell phone use on aircraft. Imagine the in-flight fisticuffs. 

    U.S. Auto Sales Strong, Led by Ford, Chrysler, MSN Money

    US Driving Level Highest in Six Years, Trucking Info

    Chinese Air Pollution Regulations Have Halved Health Costs, Eurek Alert

    China May Throw $16B Behind EV Growth & Infrastructure, Silicon Valley Business Journal

    California Giving EV Owners Right to Install Charging Stations, Examiner.com

    CARB Considers ZEV Regulations, Green Car Congress

    Fueling Your Car With Farm Waste, Fortune

    Oberon DME Receives First Biogas Approval Under the RFS, Oberon Fuels

    New Propane Autogas VIP Launched in NY, NGT News

    Recliner Rage Forces Another Flight to Land, Politico

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  • Rickety Bridges & Global Warming

    And then there’s that climate change problem. The New York Times managed to get a copy of a U.N. draft report on climate change that was supposed to come out in November. The takeaway is that 75% of the fossil fuels must stay right where they are, in the ground, to avoid devastation from rising sea levels, severe drought and mass extinction of plant and animal life. Political stasis has been the trademark of climate change discussions and Obama administration climate negotiators are working on a sweeping global agreement to get nations to reduce emissions through a climate accord instead of a treaty. Constitutionally, a treaty requires support from a two-thirds majority of the Senate, which is unlikely.

    The World Wildlife Fund in the UK is getting a lot of attention from a provocative Twitpic they posted that illustrates why ignoring global warming is like driving across a rickety bridge. Check it out.

    Why in the world would General Motors get behind bike sharing? GM’s Director of Sustainability says it’s not such a stretch. The manufacturer has a 330 acre technical center with 61 buildings and a bike share solution allows employees to use a smart phone app to borrow a bike.

    Volvo Buses is doing their part in Europe to reduce emissions as they launch their Volvo 7900 electric-hybrid full-size bus. They have a number of public transportation fleets in Europe that will be rolling out the new model. Volvo says that compared to a conventional diesel bus, they are seeing reductions in fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions by up to 75%. In Washington State, King County Metro Transit has inked a new deal with bus maker Proterra that could be the biggest piece of business in their history. The agency has purchased two of the battery-powered, zero-emission buses and if all goes as planned they may buy up to 200 more over five years.

    Richard Battersby had buses on his mind yesterday as he shared information with viewers of the School Transportation News webinar network. Battersby is the Executive Director of the East Bay Clean Cities Coalition and the fleet manager for the City of Oakland. He shared tips for where to look to find funding for school buses and for getting rid of older diesel vehicles.  You can watch the webinar here.

    It’s time to start planning for September and if you are interested in energy storage you won’t want to miss the Energy Storage North America Conference in San Jose, California. On September 30, CALSTART’s very own Research Director, Dr. Jasna Tomic, will lead a workshop on developments in electric vehicle grid integration. There’s even a discount code for $50 off. When you register, enter “WORKSHOP50.”

    Speaking of discounts, CALSTART members save $50 on the registration fee for the High Efficiency Truck Users Forum National Meeting when you register by this Friday, August 29 (non-members save money too but the fee is a bit higher). Karl Simon, Director, Transportation and Climate Division for EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality is one of the featured speakers. Additionally, industry thought leaders will share ideas on how to identify and address barriers to the adoption of high-efficiency trucks and buses. The meeting takes place September 22-24 at the Argonne National Laboratory outside of Chicago. Register now!

    U.N. Draft Report Lists Unchecked Emissions’ Risks, Newsweek

    Obama Pursuing Climate Accord in Lieu of Treaty, The New York Times

    WWF UK, Twitpic

    GM Brings Bike Sharing to Technical Center, CBS

    Volvo Buses Introducing Hybrid-Electric Transit Bus, NGT News

    Seattle Deal Could Lead to Proterra Expansion, Greenville News

    STN Webinar Focuses on Techniques for Obtaining Funding, School Transportation News

    Energy Storage North America

    HTUF 2014 National Meeting, CALSTART

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  • Networking

    Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced plans this week to eventually require vehicle-to vehicle communications to be installed in all cars and trucks. The technology uses a radio signal to continually transmit a vehicle’s position, heading, and speed, and alerts drivers to an impending collision. The technology is being tested in Ann Arbor, MI where 3,000 volunteers are part of a pilot to test their networked vehicles in order to provide detailed data. 

    While Google has been experimenting with its own driverless cars, they’ve also purchased four battery electric shuttle buses from Motiv Power Systems.  The buses will be used to provide a free community shuttle service in Mountain View, California, where Google is headquartered. In nearby Gilroy, school children are breathing easier thanks to a new, clean electric bus that’s been added to the Gilroy Unified School District fleet. Adomani converted a 2007 Blue Bird All American school bus from diesel to electric. The district has installed solar panels to power its charging station, making the bus capable of emission-free rides.

    General Motors recently offered a glimpse of what lies ahead for their marketing of the Volt. Understanding that many Volt owners are evangelical about their vehicles, GM plans to harness that enthusiasm by letting them share the message. The Volt has the highest customer satisfaction scores of any vehicle GM has ever sold. 

    What is the future of urban transportation? The BBC suggests that perhaps it is the old becoming new again in the form of cargo bikes. The bikes are being touted as a way to deal with urban-congestion and air quality issues. DHL recently replaced 33 trucks with 33 cargo bikes. UPS is also testing its own electric-assisted delivery bikes in a few European cities. Click here to see what their sporty bike looks like.

    For the long haul, vocational fleets and truck operators continue to hop on the natural gas bandwagon. Kenworth Truck Company is expanding their natural gas (NG) portfolio with the new T880 which can run on either compressed natural gas or liquefied natural gas. Volvo Trucks is embracing natural gas, too, by introducing, in Europe, a new monofuel version of the Volvo FE. The Volvo FE CNG is designed for operations with short driving cycles.

    CALSTART has had the pleasure of working with the Northeast Ohio-based Stark Area Regional Transit Authority, to secure $5.5 million in federal funding. The money will be used to add two fuel cell buses to their fleet, which transit authority President and CEO Kirt Conrad says will represent the state’s lone fuel-cell driven means of transportation.

    Such clever people. Doniece Sandoval of San Francisco saw a problem in need of a solution and that’s when she decided she needed a bus. With more than 7,000 homeless people in her city, she set out to find a way to provide reliable hygiene services for them. Armed with tenacity and a vision she was able to take a 1993 Muni bus from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and turn it into a mobile showering service. The shower suites were open for business last week.

    New Era in Safety When Cars Talk to One Another, The New York Times

    Four Motiv e-Buses as Google Shuttles, Fleets & Fuels

    Adomani EV School Bus Approved for Use in California, Autobloggreen

    GM to Revamp Volt Marketing Efforts, Charged

    Cargo Bikes, Built For the Short Haul, BBC

    Kenworth Continues to Expand Its Heavy-Duty NG Portfolio, NGT News

    Volvo Trucks Introduces New Monofuel NG Version of FE, Green Car Congress

    Ohio to Test Fuel Cells for Public Transit, Government Technology

    A Bus and a Shower, Grist

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  • Next Energy Revolution

    Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas are all pining for Tesla to open their “gigafactory” (massive battery factory) in their states. The $5-billion factory could mean 6,500 jobs, which has California considering easing some of its decades-old environmental mandates and possibly giving some sizeable tax breaks. The plant should be open by 2017. When it comes to electric vs. fuel cells, Toyota is betting on the latter. Yesterday, speaking at the JP Morgan Auto Conference in New York, Toyota’s senior vice president Bob Carter said, “…we see hydrogen fuel cells as being the no-compromise, primary-option vehicles for the next 100 years.” The manufacturer has invested $7.2 million to support the maintenance and operation of hydrogen fueling stations for their fuel cell sedan which in the US will start in California and then spread to the East Coast. Meanwhile, on the transit side, California’s Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA) ran a marathon range test over a 24-hour period with their new BYD electric bus. The test results were so successful that ATA’s Board Chair said that this is proof that BYD’s bus “…can be a transit work horse like its diesel counterpart.” 

    Automotive News, observing suppliers consolidating into large corporations with major global footprints, is taking a moment to shine a spotlight on entrepreneurs succeeding in gaining auto industry traction. One of the showcased companies is Achates Power which wants to license its opposed-piston two-stroke engines to automakers in search of significant fuel efficiency gains. With $90 million in investment capital, the company is hiring engineers from Detroit, as well as Asia and Europe. They are acquiring equipment, testing, publishing data in scientific journals and sharing their findings with the industry. There’s also some serious innovation being tested at the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles where, under the auspices of the South Coast Air Quality Management District, Siemens will install a 1-mile catenary system consisting of overhead electrical lines that supply trucks with electric power. Siemens and the Volvo Group are developing a demonstration vehicle for the project. This is the first step in evaluating the potential success of a zero-emission cargo movement system

    What will be the next energy revolution? Based on results from a rail testing center in Colorado, BNSF Railway is in a pilot program to use liquefied natural gas (LNG) to power their locomotives. The financial benefits could be enormous given that fuel is their second-largest operating expense and accounts for one-third of its operating costs. With natural gas for trucks making inroads across the United States, lessons learned from developing gas-engines for heavy trucks is applicable to the locomotive sector allowing the technology to develop faster. 

    When you think of Copenhagen, you think of bikes. That’s because more than 50% of residents bike to work. What could make the Danish façade crack as its citizens erupt in smiles? Their newest citizen-pleasing infrastructure, that’s what. A new road called Cycle Snake is an elevated cyclist roadway over a harbor, allowing cyclists to bypass a crowded waterfront shopping area. A Danish designer said it best, “It tickles all your senses.” 

    California May Waive Environmental Rules for Tesla Battery Factory, Los Angeles Times

    Bullish Toyota Admits Hydrogen Won’t be Cheap, Ecomento

    BYD Electric Bus Logs 746 Miles in 24h Period, Green Car Congress

    In Era of Giant Suppliers, Startups are Winning Auto Business, Automotive News

    Truck Electrification Systems To Be Tested at Ports, Trucking Info

    Next Energy Revolution Will be on Roads and Railroads, Reuters

    Copenhagen’s New Bike Skyway Makes Commuting Look Fun, Wired

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  • If I Had a Million Dollars

    While Congress temporarily managed to avoid a national transportation crisis by approving a 10-month transportation program extension, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is fully aware that this is no long-term solution. That’s why you are cordially invited to join him at 11 Eastern Time today for a National Town Hall Meeting to discuss long term infrastructure needs. You can register here.

    How do they do it? Last year, the five largest oil companies averaged earnings of $177,000 per minute. Taxpayers for Common Sense is out with a report that documents special tax code provisions that resulted in the twenty largest oil and gas companies paying 11.7% in taxes from 2009-2013 compared to the statutory corporate tax rate of 35%. The American Petroleum Institute responded that the oil and gas industry gets zero subsidies. The report says what they do get is a tax advantage not available to other U.S. taxpayers, allowing them to defer “more of their federal income taxes than they actually paid during the last five years.”

    Kudos to General Motors for winning the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick Plus. Of the 12 models tested, the Volt was the only one with an optional forward collision warning system. Longmont, Colorado’s UQM Technologies is winning customers in Europe where the first all-electric mini bus has been approved by the Hungarian National Transportation Authority. UQM PowerPhase electric motor and controller systems are being used to power the bus. 

    Time Warner Cable (TWC) is the newest member of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities’ National Clean Fleet Partnership. TWC has a “Go Green” initiative which aims to reduce their 2012 carbon intensity by 15% by the end of 2014. UPS has overachieved and is now raising the bar on their carbon dioxide emissions goal. The delivery giant reached a 2016 goal to reduce emissions by 10% three years early. Their new target is 20% by 2020. To do that, they are going to use even more alternatively powered vehicles. The company fleet includes 3,600 such vehicles today, including 250 that run on liquefied natural gas (LNG). They expect to add another 1,000 this year.

    For those of you interested in energy storage, the Energy Storage North America conference in San Jose is something worth checking out. Organizers say that this is the convergence of transportation, distributed, and utility-scale applications. One for sure not to miss workshop is on September 30, led by CALSTART’s very own Research Director Jasna Tomic. The topic is Exciting New Developments in Electric Vehicle Grid Integration

    Having a million dollars just could be a reality thanks to Google. They are offering the cash prize to a team who can design a smaller, high power density inverter, with an eye toward improving electric vehicles by reducing the size of the inverters. Teams need to register by September 30, 2014. 

    Town Hall Registration

    DOT to Host Town Hall on Highway Funding, FleetOwner

    Big Oil Companies Pay an Absurdly Low Tax Rate, Think Progress

    Chevy Volt Is Insurance Group’s Top Safety Pick, CNN Money

    UQM Technologies Broadens European Customer Base, The Auto Channel

    Time Warner Cable Fleet Joins Clean Cities Program, Multichannel News

    UPS Sets 20% Carbon Emission Reduction Goal, Bloomberg

    New Developments in EV Grid Integration, ESNA 2014

    Want $1 Million From Google? Design Improved EV Part, Christian Science Monitor

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  • Next Drive

    Motiv Power Systems, which designs and builds an electric Powertrain Control System for commercial truck and bus builders, has raised $7.3 million in growth capital from investors. The lead funder is Magness Investment Group of Colorado. The timing was particularly nice given that California’s Kings Canyon Unified School District is about to receive their second Motiv-equipped electric school bus

    Growth is a theme for Quantum Fuel Systems, too. Their natural gas storage systems have been well received lately with $600,000 in purchase orders in recent weeks from the Wheeltime Network.  Wheeltime is made up of 18 member networks with 180 installation and service locations globally. Quantum has been the exclusive CNG systems supplier to the network for aftermarket conversions. Westport Innovations is out with new natural gas fueling options. Their newly expanded vehicle lineup includes the 2015 Ford Transit van and cutaway as dedicated CNG Westport WiNG Power System vehicles. Frito-Lay’s diverse fleet includes natural gas vehicles (NGVs) and Trillium CNG is working with them to design, build, operate and maintain stations for its fleet of heavy-duty tractor-trailers. The latest CNG fueling station has been opened by Trillium in Charlotte, NC. 

    Calling all BMW i3 drivers in California. NRG eVgo, provider of fast charging sites, has partnered with BMW on its new ChargeNow DC Fast program by expanding access to their EV charging network. BMW i3 drivers can now access no cost 30 minute DC fast charging at equipped locations through 2015. For grins, if you want to see a BMW i3 in action in Austria, scroll down in this article to see Romanian rally driver Vali Porcisteanu, hop out of his car to demonstrate the vehicle’s new driverless parking capability.  The $1,000 optional extra allows the car to park itself without driver interference.

    So, what will they think of next? Rebecca Hough, CEO and Co-Founder of Evatran is making major strides as the first company in the world to make wireless charging available to EV drivers. The company is now out with news that the technology will soon be available on the Cadillac ELR. Stephen Colbert is dreaming of wireless charging, talk of which is how he ended a recent show featuring none other than Tesla, PayPal, and SpaceX founder Elon Musk.  From technology that will allow you to name your car and mass market electric vehicles, to opening up its patents to competitors allowing any other vehicle company to use Tesla technology, Musk shares it all while an enamored Colbert takes in the future unfolding before his eyes.

    Motiv Power Systems Gains Funding, School Transportation News

    Quantum Announces Expanding Orders, CNN Money

    Westport Expands 2015 CNG Lineup, NGTNews

    Trillium CNG Opens Latest NG Fueling Station, Truckinginfo

    NRG eVgo Partners with BMW on Fast Charge Network, EV World

    BMW i3 Parks Itself, autoevolution

    Cadillac ELR to Get Plugless Wireless Charging Tech, Electric Car Reports

    Stephen Colbert Interviews Elon Musk, The Colbert Report

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  • Traction

    President Obama has climate change on his mind and today he’ll announce a series of initiatives that range from protecting the electricity supply to a variety of measures to manage impacts of rising sea levels. Yesterday, the President pressed Congress to provide more funding for transportation infrastructure, as well as to finance the Highway Trust Fund. The fund is at risk of running out of money unless Congress acts. 

    China has a new vehicle initiative mandating that 30% of government vehicle purchases have to be electric vehicles (EVs), plug-in hybrids, or fuel cell vehicles (FCVs). The measure is for purchases between now and 2016 and the requirement will be continued at a higher ratio when local provinces will also need to comply. 

    China-based electric vehicle maker BYD has announced that they are building their first factory in Brazil for electric buses. Slated to open in 2015, the maximum capacity for their first year will be 1,000 electric buses. And, in California, Foothill Transit is getting two battery-electric buses from Proterra. The 40-foot electric buses should be in service by December. Proterra’s zero emission vehicles are made in America and the company is based in Greenville, South Carolina.

    It’s time to start tucking away $35,000 as Tesla is out with news that the name of their new all-electric vehicle is Model 3 and it will go on sale in 2017. The vehicle will have a range of 200 miles and will be 20% smaller than the Model S. The 2015 Chevy Volt has an upgraded battery pack from 16.5 kilowatt-hours to 17.1 kilowatt hours. There also may be a slight improvement in overall EV range.

    For five years running California has ranked number one in an index of clean-tech activity in the U.S. Renewable energy, electric vehicles, and other emerging technologies investments and effective policy levers put the state atop the U.S. Clean Tech Leadership Index for 2014. The report tracks clean-tech activities in all 50 states and the 50 largest metro areas. The other states to make the top 10 include Massachusetts, Oregon, Colorado, New York, New Mexico, Washington, Illinois, Vermont and Connecticut. 

    White House Unveils Climate Change Initiatives, The New York Times

    Obama to Push for Transportation Funds, Inside Nova

    China Requires 30% of State Cars Use Alternative Energy, Bloomberg

    BYD Building Factory in Brazil, Green Car Congress

    Foothill Transit Company Buying Electric Buses, NGT News

    Tesla Motors Officially Confirms Model 3 EVs Will Go on Sale in 2017, Forbes

    2015 Chevrolet Volt, Green Car Reports

    Clean Tech Leadership Index Ranks States and Cities, TriplePundit

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  • Transport Evolved

    The sixth US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue is taking place and the two countries have agreed to collaborate on climate change. Included among the six new eco-partnerships is one between Shanghai Municipal Transportation and the Port of Los Angeles. Underscoring the need to clean the air, Coca-Cola has decided to offer China-based expatriate employees an environmental hardship allowance of 15% on top of their base pay because of the hazardous air pollution there. Alternative fuel vehicles make up close to 10% of Coca-Cola’s heavy-duty truck holdings.

    Alameda County in California is not only CALSTART’s newest member but they are also one of 10 governments and agencies in the San Francisco Bay Area that have united to buy 90 electric vehicles (EVs) making it one of the largest single government purchases of all-electric vehicles in the country. The purchased vehicles include the Ford Focus and Nissan Leaf. 

    The Environmental Protection Agency has added a new twist to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) by allowing renewable electricity to be made from certain biomass sources if it is used to power EVs. Enthusiasts believe this will create a new business model for EV charging infrastructure.

    Volvo North America announced yesterday that their redesigned 2015 Volvo XC90 SUV will be offered in a plug-in hybrid version. This will be the company’s first plug-in hybrid when it launches in the U.S. market next year. And, it will be the world’s first mid-size, luxury, seven-seat plug-in hybrid to go on sale.

    Toyota has garnered much attention with their plans to sell a mass-market fuel cell vehicle in Japan and the US in the near term. The bet that it will be a key technology over the next few decades hinges in part on fueling infrastructure. Making it work in California is key and Sandia National Lab is out with a study showing the state may be further ahead than it thinks. In an exam of 70 commercial gas stations in the state, they found that 14 can accept hydrogen fuel and another 17 could possibly accept it with property expansions. Sandia’s Hydrogen Program Manager Daniel Dedrick sums it up by saying the findings in the report will accelerate the deployment of hydrogen systems.

    Now that you’ve read to the very end, here’s an upcoming funding announcement tidbit for you to digest. The Department of Transportation has a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program, and their next solicitation opens next Monday. One topic in particular, might be of interest and that is “Using Alternative Energy to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Production in the Transportation Sector.” You can register here for a public webinar on July 29.
    Nations Sign Pacts on Climate Change, China Daily

    Coca-Cola Offers Expats China Pollution Hazard Pay, Financial Review

    Bay Area Governments Make Big EV Buy, The Washington Post

    In New Twist, RFS Could Boost EVs, E&E Publishing

    Volvo’s High-End Performance Plug-In Hybrid, Edmunds

    Japan Automakers Lead Fuel Cell Drive, ABS CBN

    California Can Broaden Hydrogen Network, Domestic Fuel

    Small Business Innovation Research Funding, Volpe

    SBIR Solicitation Preproposal Conference, Volpe

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  • Supply Chain Headache

    While the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling dominated news early this week, energy, farm and trade groups are focused on the “other” Court decision. The Supreme Court also ruled that they will not consider a challenge to California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). The rule that requires fuel producers to reduce the carbon footprint of their products over the entire life cycle of the fuel, is viewed by biofuel industry representatives as discriminating against out-of-state commerce, specifically, that the state law places unconstitutional burdens on out-of-state fuel producers. 

    CALSTART, Efficient Drivetrains, the California Energy Commission and Greenkraft are collaborating to develop a Class 4 commercial vehicle that pairs CNG with plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) technology. The research goal, in part, is to show which duty cycles and applications for MD CNG-PHEV systems yield the greatest benefits. On the light-duty side, Volvo has announced plans to fully embrace PHEVs by offering a plug-in hybrid version of every model in its lineup. 

    Ever had a supply-chain headache? Colorado-based Lightning Hybrids did and in stepped Andrew Coors, who became CEO of Steelhead Composites to meet the demand for pressure vessels for hybrids and other products. Based in Golden, CO, the company makes light weight, high pressure cylinders for CNG, industrial gas storage and transportation, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. 

    Fuel cell transit buses have paid off for Ballard Power Systems and New Flyer Industries as they were recently awarded the Canadian Urban Transit Association’s (CUTA) 2014 Corporate Leadership Innovation Award for the Whistler Fuel Cell Bus Project. The project involved 20 hydrogen fuel cell buses in regular service for five years, successfully logging 2.5 million miles. Transit accolades have also been conferred upon the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) for their outstanding public transit system. The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) called UTA a role model for other public transit agencies. 

    A new report has been released saying that Fortune 500 companies are saving hundreds of millions of dollars annually through investments in green technologies. PepsiCo, General Motors and UPS are among the many listed. UPS Chief Financial Officer Kurt Kuehn points to their fleet of more than 3,000 AFVs that run on LNG, CNG, hybrid electric, hydraulic hybrid and even chicken waste to lower their energy costs and make them more competitive in the global climate.

    What do Arkansas, California, Maryland, Virginia, Washington DC, Georgia, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina and South Carolina have in common? Money! While they aren’t the only states offering funding and incentives for clean transportation, they are highlighted by Fleet Owner in a robust list of grant opportunities

    Supreme Court Lets CA’s Low Carbon Fuel Rules Stand, Truckinginfo

    EDI Partners With Greenkraft, Reuters

    Confirmed: Volvo to Offer Plug-In Hybrid Option on All Models, Plugincars

    Steelhead Composites Featured, CompanyWeek

    Fuel Cell Transit Bus Initiative Receives Industry Accolades, NGT News

    UTA Honored As Nation’s Best Transit System, Salt Lake Tribune

    Renewable Energy Saves Fortune 500 Companies Over $1 Billion, Clean Technica

    UPS Sees Its Shipping Future in Green Technologies, The Street

    Cash for Clearing The Air, FleetOwner

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  • Taking a Spin

    Money talks and a trio of bipartisan powerhouses have shared their findings from a study called Risky Business, which is designed to apply risk assessment to climate change.  Led by former NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, and Tom Steyer, a leading climate policy advocate, their conclusion is that the financial consequences of inaction are punctuated by the reality that future risks are directly tied to present decisions. Creating cleaner technology pathways is one solution to climate challenges that the Illinois Clean Energy Fund addresses. The $4.6 million revolving equity fund was announced by the Clean Energy Trust as an initiative to help clean energy startups, including those focused on next-generation transportation, create new jobs that lead to a sustainable future.

    New automotive technology is making major strides with Toyota doing their part to usher in the fuel-cell era. Japan’s Prime Minister announced the automaker’s strategy yesterday, including plans to sell their fuel-cell vehicles (FCVs) to the mass market in Japan by the end of March, 2015. Seventeen years ago the company established market dominance with the Prius hybrid, and their betting they can do it again with FCVs. Toyota is joined by Ford and Honda in topping Best Global Green Brands 2014 list of best green business practices. The winners are ranked based both on market perception, and actual environmental performance.

    Federal fuel economy standards for 2014 appear to be working, according to a new study by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA). Their findings include that of the 29 all-new 2014 vehicles, 18 meet or exceed 2015 standards with some meeting 2020 fuel efficiency requirements. The authors give credit to a combination of regulations and greater consumer demand for fuel-efficient vehicles. CFA, from an earlier survey of 1,000 people, found that consumers expect their next car to get at least 30 mpg.

    Electric vehicles (EVs) rank high in both fuel efficiency and low emissions, topics that dominated the conversation on Ira Flatow’s Science Friday last week. Jeff Allen with Drive Oregon was one of two featured guests focusing on the power of electric drive to clean transportation. The other was Chris Hoffman, CEO of Ryno Motors who has a one-wheeled electric motorcycle. You can join 10,000 others who helped his video go viral on YouTube.

    Based on last week’s announcement from Harley-Davidson about their new electric motorcycle prototype, the excitement surrounding Project LiveWire has gone viral, too. LiveWire is generating buzz as it has embarked on a tour starting with dealerships along Route 66 so they can get feedback on the electric chopper concept from fans and customers. A broader rollout in the U.S., Canada and Europe will take place in 2015.

    Facing Climate Change, Climate Progress

    Fund Created to Help Launch Green Energy Businesses in Illinois, Chicago Tribune

    Japan Moves to Fast-Track Cars Powered by Hydrogen Fuel Cells, New York Times

    Ford, Toyota and Honda Top Best Global Green Brands, 24/7 Wall Street

    54.5 MPG? Automakers Are on Track, Edmunds.com

    Reinventing How City Dwellers Get Around, Science Friday

    Taking a Spin, Digital Trends

    A Ride to Remember, The Verge

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  • Dump the Pump

    Who is saving 700+ million gallons of fuel and cost savings of $2.5 billion over the lifetime of a vehicle? Chrysler gets the nod for some green bragging rights. Their TorqueFlite eight-speed transmission is now in more than one million vehicles globally and the manufacturer has a cherry on top claiming more than six million metric tons of CO2 emissions reductions. Lightning Hybrids is primed for some emissions reduction green street cred, too. They’ve just released preliminary results from extensive emissions testing on their hydraulic hybrid systems, showing up to a 90% decrease in NOX, and up to 16% in CO2 emissions.

    NGI’s Daily provides many examples of ways natural gas for transportation is gaining traction this month. Scroll down to news about member company Parker Hannifin, which has a new compressed natural gas (CNG) Autocar E3 trash truck using their brake-saving RunWise hydraulic hybrid drive. There are more than 100 that have been sold to refuse operators. Miami-Dade County, FL is getting on the CNG bandwagon, too, as they issued a new RFP for bids to develop a CNG program for Miami-Dade Transit (MDT). One of their goals is to transition 300 transit buses to CNG and develop refueling stations.

    Massachusetts is acting on their commitment to make zero-emission vehicle adoption a reality. They have announced the launch of their electric vehicle (EV) rebate program allowing up to $2,500 at the point of sale. Their aim is to see 300,000 EVs on their roads by 2025. A123 Systems is doing their part to make sure batteries for vehicles have the best technology that can result in faster charges and discharges. The battery maker has purchased technology from Leyden Energy with an anticipated outcome of having some of the most powerful batteries available. 

    US Hybrid gets to play in Hawaii as they have been awarded a contract funded by the State of Hawaii and Office of Naval Research to deliver its H2Ride Fuel Cell Plug-In Shuttle Bus. The 25-passenger bus will be deployed by the County of Hawaii Mass Transit Agency (MTA) early in 2015. 

    The city of Berkeley, California is eager to dump the pump. The city is making progress toward requiring warning stickers on gas pumps letting people know that CO2 emissions contribute to global warming. Modeled on warnings on cigarette packaging, one councilmember wants to remind citizens that there are greenhouse gas impacts and alternatives do exist. In case you missed it, it’s the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) 9th annual national “Dump the Pump Day.” This year 135 transit agencies are participating to lure drivers out of their cars and onto buses. From scavenger hunts on train and bus routes in Atlanta and Greensboro to free rides in more than 20 cities the goal is to raise awareness of the environmental, financial and health benefits of choosing public transportation over driving. 

    Chrysler Says Its 8-Speed Transmissions Will Save 700 Million Gallons, Autoblog Green

    Lightning Hybrids Releases Initial Emissions Results, Lightning Hybrids Blog
    CNG, LNG Transportation Fuel Markets Get Boost, NGI’s Daily

    County Issues Major CNG RFP, NGT News

    Massachusetts EV Rebate Program Now Online, TorqueNews

    A123 Systems Buys Battery Tech, Crain’s Detroit Business

    US Hybrid Awarded Fuel Cell Contract, Green Car Congress

    The City of Berkeley Considers Gas Pump Climate Change Stickers, Los Angeles Times

    More Americans Dumping the Pump for Public Transportation, StreetsBlog USA

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  • Fiddle Faddle

    This week the Environmental Defense Fund and the California Chapter of the American Lung Association released a study analyzing the impacts of California’s cap-and-trade emissions program and the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). They concluded that $8.3 billion will be saved by 2025 in health benefits. Another analysis looks at what the future emissions in the state would be if climate change laws weren’t in place. How the state continues to invest in light-, medium-, and heavy-duty vehicle technologies is the subject of a high stakes debate in the California legislature over how to invest auction proceeds from the cap-and-trade program, potentially providing $850 million this year and over $1 billion in future years. Yesterday, the California Senate successfully passed two CALSTART supported bills-SB 1204 (Lara and Pavley) and SB 1275 (de Leon) that would guide these investments.

    The nation’s largest biodiesel producer just made a deal with Tyson, the company that produces 20% of all chicken, beef, and pork in the US. Renewable Energy Group (REG) will purchase Tyson Foods’ 50% ownership position in Dynamic Fuels if and when it finalizes the acquisition of Syntroleum Corporation, the owner of the other 50% of the venture. The two purchases means REG will have full ownership of Dynamic’s plan with an annual production capacity of 75 million gallons of biodiesel. 

    Big things are also happening for CALSTART member company XL Hybrids. The Massachusetts-based, 6-year old company is attracting customers by adding a fuel-saving system to vans for delivery and utility fleets for an $8,000 investment. The system improves gas mileage by up to 25% and has attracted the attention of Coca-Cola, which has already bought 100. 

    Volvo is doing its part to make Gothenburg, Sweden an even more beautiful place. Working in collaboration with the Swedish Transportation Administration they are working on building electric roads that would allow city buses to be charged from electricity in the road as the buses are operating.

    Toyota garnered international attention recently with the announcement that they are moving their U.S. corporate headquarters from California to Texas. Even more interesting is how bullish the company is about hydrogen for fuel-cell vehicles (FCVs). With their fuel-cell Camry-sized vehicle due for sale in the U.S. next year, the company is confident that the state of California’s plans to have 50 hydrogen fueling stations within two years is the ticket to support at least 10,000 FCVs in the state.

    Canada-based Ballard Power Systems continues to put stock in fuel-cells for transportation. Forbes conducts a frank interview with company leaders who talk about the shift from R&D to commercialization and their cautious optimism about the fuel cell bus market. The company powered 12 new buses last year and is bidding for another 25 in Europe. And Kinetics Drive Solutions, provider of intelligent drive systems and control solutions for mobile applications, is on the move with yet another new partnership, this time it is with Efacec. The two are collaborating on electric bus propulsion systems

    Uh-oh. US Airways decided to take on Big Violin by telling members of a classical string trio en route to a gig that their violins needed to go under the plane. There was a standoff and the trio protested in the best way they knew how-they sweetly played Bach’s Prelude from the Sonata in E Major. A contrite US Airways eventually found their way to an apology.

    Forget Saving the Planet, Driving an Electric Car Will Save Your Life, Grist

    REG to Acquire Tyson Foods’ Ownership Share of Dynamic Fuels, Biomass Magazine

    In for the Long Haul, Slate

    Volvo to Build Electric Roads, Autosphere

    Toyota ‘Bullish’ on Hydrogen Amid California Station Plans, The Detroit News

    Ballard: Living to Fight Another Day in the Fuel Cell World, Forbes

    KDS Electric Bus Propulsion Systems, Green Car Congress

    Disallowed Airplane Violin Leads to Funny Passive-Aggressive Protest, Jalopnik

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  • Poetry and Science

    The Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Annual Energy Outlook has spotted several trends of note related to transportation. Their findings range from growing domestic production of natural gas leading to wider use of the fuel for freight railroads to changes in driving demographics. Notably, EIA points out a decline in light-duty vehicle (LDV) energy use attributable to efficiency offsetting vehicle miles traveled (VMT). The Department of Energy (DOE) is all about supporting the transportation industry in realizing greater efficiency solutions. Midwest Energy News showcases Ford’s successes in using DOE’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Loan Program (ATVM) to transform 13 of their factories into state-of-the art facilities. DOE wants component manufacturers focused on efficiency to know that the ATVM loans are available to them as well. 

    From transit properties to LDV manufacturers, air quality, cost-savings, and efficiency shifts are evident everywhere. TransLink, a British Columbia transit agency has just approved an order for 40 heavy-duty buses that will run on natural gas, with an option to buy an additional 135. The contract is with New Flyer Industries. Transit operators report that air quality benefits and cost-savings are driving them to make the shift. And, BYD is out with news that they have a record-setting new order of electric buses and taxis from the city of Hangzhou in China. Officials there see electric vehicles as a solution to growing air pollution and, they say, “…EV technologies have matured to the point where every city transit should be adopting them.”

    Even ferries are doing it…it being powering transportation using batteries. Sweden’s Green City Ferries is launching the world’s first supercharged electric passenger ferry using high-tech Nilar Nickel-Metal-Hydride batteries. And, there they grow again. VIA Motors has acquired a design startup called Prodigy Engineering. This gives VIA exclusive access to a Lithium Ion battery cooling technology license. The two companies have been working together under contract to prototype new vehicle technologies

    General Motors is out with a good story of innovation, too. The manufacturer is charging full steam ahead as they set up workplace charging stations where the majority of their engineering facilities and corporate offices are located. There are over 400 charge stations available to employees and visitors at no cost. Compared to GM, which employs over 200,000 employees, Tesla’s not all that big. But, they have added 3,000 jobs in California in the past year and expect to have 6,000 employees soon. Bloomberg says Tesla now employs more workers in California than any other automaker. Grist reminds job seekers that the company plans to hire 500 more people by the end of the year. 

    “Giant Poem Scrubs the Air Clean of Pollutants” is a headline you can’t ignore. It turns out a poet and scientists at the University of Sheffield have a poem called “In Praise of Air” displayed on a 20-metre high billboard which is coated with a layer of titanium dioxide nanoparticles that react with pollutants to purify the air around it. Here’s to the marriage of poetry and science.

    EIA Foresees Shifts Ahead for Transportation, Fleet Owner

    Fuel Efficiency Loan Program Looking Beyond the Big Three, Midwest Energy News

    Translink Awards New Flyer a 180 NG Bus Contract, The Wall Street Journal

    BYD Lands 2,000 Electric Bus and 1,000 Electric Taxi Order, Clean Technica

    Sweden Launches World’s First Quick-Charging Electric Passenger Ferry, Gizmag

    VIA Motors Acquires EV Startup, Automotive Business Review

    GM’s EV Charge Stations Surpass 400, The NewsWheel

    Want a Job? Knock on Tesla’s Door, Grist

    Giant Poem Scrubs Air Clean of Pollutants, The Independent

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  • Two Thumbs Up

    What in the world could be responsible for conflicts over food and water and escalating longstanding regional and ethnic tensions into violent clashes? A leading military research group points to an accelerating rate of climate change as the catalyst for major global political conflicts which, they predict, will mean even greater demand for American troops to be deployed globally. Weaning ourselves from climate unfriendly energy sources could help slow climate change but the International Energy Agency (IEA) says it will cost the world $44 trillion to end our fossil fuel reliance by 2050. Switch now to good news and that same IEA finding concludes that we can save $115 trillion in fuel costs by 2050 if we move toward clean energy, meaning a net savings of $71 trillion.

    There are a lot of winners among industry pacesetters doing their part to make clean energy for transportation a reality. First up, Ballard Power Systems has signed an agreement with CALSTART to deploy a fuel cell hybrid bus at the University of California in Irvine. BAE Systems and ElDorado National are part of the partnership as well. And, Wisconsin-based Odyne has received California Energy Commission funding to demonstrate the viability of installing Odyne plug-in hybrid systems on existing medium-and heavy-duty vehicles in the California market. The Odyne systems can reduce fuel consumption by 50% or greater. Hino Trucks has announced that their 195h diesel electric cab-over vehicles have been approved by the New York Truck-Voucher Incentive Program (NYT-VIP). The incentives are designed to accelerate deployment of alternative fuel vehicles for medium to heavy-duty commercial fleets in New York.

    Kansas City-based Smith Electric Vehicles has a new investor. Sinopoly Battery Ltd. has committed $42 million and production of their electric vehicles will resume this summer. And Forbes reports that one of the largest network providers of electric vehicle charging stations, ChargePoint, has raised $22.6 million in late-stage venture capital. ChargePoint sells charging stations to businesses for public locations like parking lots, apartment buildings and workplaces.

    One gasp-worthy topic in industry circles is platooning which in the case of Peloton Technology means allowing trucks to travel closer together than they normally would, reducing drag and saving fuel. Peloton’s cloud-based platooning operations center is the key to successfully pairing trucks and the California company has attracted the interest of Nevada’s primary transportation agencies which got a demonstration of how the system works. Even Nevada Lieutenant Governor Brian Krolicki has given Peloton’s technology two thumbs up remarking on how innovative it is. 

    Mobility solutions can take many forms and a blogger from the Netherlands enjoyed compiling a collection of let’s say unconventional ways to get around. Take a look.
    Climate Change Deemed Growing Security Threat by Military Researchers, New York Times

    End Fossil Fuel Burning, Save $71 Trillion, Grist

    Ballard Signs an Agreement with CALSTART, Altenergymag

    California Awards Odyne $776,000, EV World

    Hino Wins NY Certification for Hybrid Trucks, Today’s Energy Solutions

    Smith Electric Finds $42 Million Investor, Kansas City Business Journal

    ChargePoint Raises $22.6 Million, Forbes

    Truck Platooning System Offers Fuel Savings Potential, Trucking Info

    Unusual Transportation, Marco Folio

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