• Seeing Green

    The Obama administration announced earlier this week that the President is signing an Executive Order requiring federal agencies to make plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles (EVs) 20% of their fleet purchases by 2020 and 50% by 2025. The federal fleet has 650,000 vehicles and the expected cost savings by 2025 is expected to be $18 billion.

    BYD in the U.S. is known for electric buses but that could be changing. The company wants to lease 200 BYD e6 EVs to Uber for use by UberX drivers in Chicago. 25 of the BYD cars are already in service. EV World reports that Fiat Chrysler is moving up the time table to bring their first electric-hybrid minivan to the market by the end of the year. The EV-mode range hasn’t been announced. 

    Passenger Transport looks at transit trends and concludes that electric propulsion is gaining market traction. The article gives several examples including the Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA) which recently received $8.9 million for hydrogen fuel cell buses.  (Click here for the recent press release about FTA funded CALSTART project teams in partnership with SARTA, Sunline Transit, and the San Joaquin Regional Transit District) Siemens and New Flyer are seeing growth in the public transit market as well. Thomas Orberger, with Siemens, observed “Now the issue is to make the technology more commercially accessible….”

    Utah Transit Authority has received FTA funding, too, and they are using it to outfit two of their existing paratransit buses with hybrid-drive systems. Their vehicles spend a lot of time idling and the hybrid-drive systems will eliminate the need for idling, resulting in decreased emissions as well as an increase in fuel savings. 

    CALSTART, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation and BYD were among nine projects that received proposed funding from the California Energy Commission. Almost $25 million was awarded for demonstrations of advanced medium-and heavy-duty on-road vehicle technologies. Transportation Power, Hydrogenics and Motiv Power Systems, all CALSTART members, were also successful applicants.

    Thousands of fleet managers will flock to Orlando in mid-April for the National Association of Fleet Administrators (NAFA) Institute & Expo (I&E). One of the highlights is the formal launch of the industry-leading Sustainable Fleet Standard Program, which NAFA has shaped in collaboration with CALSTART over the last two years. That launch is part of CALSTART’s Sustainability Works for Fleets Track. Check out the program here.

    Obama Says Federal Agencies Must Buy More EVs, PHEVs, Autoblog

    Uber to test a fleet of Chinese –made BYD EVs in the US, Charged EV Magazine

    Chrysler Aiming to Rollout Plug-in Minivan in 2015, EV World

    Electric Propulsion Growing in Popularity, Passenger Transport

    FTA Awards $55M for Low and No Emission Buses, CALSTART

    UTA Aims to Reduce Emissions on Paratransit Bus, Deseret News

    CEC Awards $24.9 Million for Truck Demo Projects, Green Car Congress

    NAFA’s Sustainable Fleet Standard at 2015 I&E, NAFA

    NAFA Detailed Program, NAFA

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  • Change At High Speed

    The ubiquitous Tesla will dominate industry headlines again as tomorrow the company announces a Model S update that promises to put an end to range anxiety. Curious minds want to know but will have to wait until the press conference tomorrow morning.  Globally, battery-powered and fuel cell buses are turning into rolling computers equipped with many of the technologies as the luxury Tesla sedan. CALSTART’s Bill Van Amburg told Fleet Owner to look for zero-emission buses to account for 20% of the global bus market by 2030.

    Hino Trucks is talking market penetration too, claiming that in spite of lower diesel prices last year, their hybrid trucks are selling very well thank you. Hino has sold over 800 of the Class 5 vehicles in the last two years, thanks in part to successful voucher programs in New York and California. There’s nothing like no fee to build demand, at least that’s what NRG eVgo is assuming as they launch a program in California to help wire apartment buildings and workplaces with charge-ready parking for free.  The fine print is that this is a limited time offer for qualified property owners. 

    People in the Sacramento area can now purchase a new renewable diesel fuel made from recycled plant and animal oils. Propel Fuels credits California’s carbon market regulation for attracting the Diesel-High Performance Renewable (HPR), which was launched this morning.  The fuel produces up to 70% less carbon emissions compared to petroleum-based diesel. The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) is fueling the holiday atmosphere this week as today is National Biodiesel Day. Turns out Rudolph Diesel’s birthday was on this day in 1858 and NBB is celebrating that biodiesel has provided nearly 1.8 billion gallons of the cleaner burning alternative to petroleum diesel. 

    Next week Bristol, England will begin a transit trial by putting into service the first bus in the United Kingdom powered by food and sewage waste.  The bus can transport 40 people and is powered by biomethane gas which produces fewer emissions than traditional diesel engines. The potential for adding more Bio-Busses is contingent on how successful the trial is. Transit commuters everywhere will enjoy the pixels of commuting energy depicted by Will Gallia who created a data visualization of a day in the life of London’s Tube. Where else can you spend two minutes to watch 3.5 million commuters working their way through one day using the Tube?

    Tesla to Unveil Update on Model S, MarketWatch

    Tesla for the Masses: Electric, Fuel Cell Buses Take Off, National Geographic

    Hybrid Trucks Remain a Vital Part of Fleets’ Green Solutions, Fleet Owner

    NRG eVgo Launches Program to Help Renters Charge EVs, Charged EVs

    New ‘green diesel’ Rolls Out For Sacramento Motorists, The Sacramento Bee

    Happy National Biodiesel Day, Domestic Fuel

    UK’s First Biomethane Bus to Operate in Bristol, Mass Transit

    A Single Day on the London Tube, Condensed Into 2 Minutes, Citylab

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  • Vehicle Enthusiast Twitterpation

    So, that little story this week about the new Apple Watch that the company will sell next month was a bit sidetracked by two investors who really wanted to know if the company plans to buy Tesla. Apple CEO Tim Cook ducked the questions by pivoting to their focus on Car Play, the Apple software being used by several automakers. 

    While Tesla has car enthusiasts everywhere twitterpated, there are several other developments that have excited the imaginations of fleet managers. First up is Efficient Drivetrains Inc (EDI) which has launched a Class 3 utility truck based on their world-first plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) which achieves 100% zero emissions during city and highway driving. Lightning Hybrids is talking numbers, too, and theirs are 35 and 30%. Kiessling Transit in Massachusetts has purchased 35 Lightning Hybrids vehicles with hydraulic hybrid systems, marking the largest single order to date for the system. During a year-long pilot, Kiessling realized a 30% increase in fuel efficiency.

    Morgan Olson and Crosspoint Kinetics are reducing emissions and achieving impressive fuel efficiency targets with a lineup of Class 3-7 walk-in delivery vans. The vehicles are equipped with a gasoline-electric powertrain from Crosspoint Kinetics. Morgan Olson makes Class 2-7 walk-in van bodies, cab chassis box truck bodies and cargo van upfitting for North America. 

    “We are pleased to remain the first and only hybrid system manufacturer approved for the transit market in California,” were the happy words from Deborah Gordon of Allison Transmissions upon receiving California Air Resources Board (ARB) certification. The certification is for the model-year 2015 Allison H 40/50 EP hybrid propulsion system paired with the Cummins ISB6.7 and ISL9 diesel-electric hybrid engines for transit buses and coaches.

    Applicants of 11 projects awarded a total of $6 million by the Department of Energy this week are no doubt doing the happy dance. One of the recipients is Clean Fuels Ohio, along with Earth Day Coalition (OH), South Shore Clean Cities (IN), Greater Indiana Clean Cities (IN), Ann Arbor Clean Cities (MI) and Detroit Clean Cities (MI).  Their winning project is called Midwest DRIVES and it is a comprehensive fleet vehicle demo and education program to address deployment barriers.

    The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has some money to give away, too, as they are accepting applications for its Clean Diesel Grant Program. The grants are for projects that re-power or retrofit fleet vehicles to curb emissions; purchase and install idle-reduction technology; or purchase clean alternative-fuel fleet vehicles.

    And, back on that other coast, people might be interested in an upcoming day-long Clean Fleet Transportation Efficiencies Forum on April 6 in Sacramento, CA. CALSTART, CarbonBLU, Clean Cities Sacramento and Clean Cities East Bay are hosting the day-long event, which is being held in conjunction with the Green California Summit and Exposition.  Click here for more information.

    Apple CEO Cook Sidesteps Shareholder Enthusiasm for Tesla, Bloomberg

    EDI Launches PHEV Class 3 Utility Truck, Charged EV Magazine

    Lightning Hybrids Bus Tech Draws Customers, The Denver Post

    Crosspoint Kinetics, Morgan Olson Combine on Electric Hybrid Walk-in Van, FleetOwner

    2015 Allison/Cummins Hybrid Offering Nets California Approval, NGT News

    DOE Awarding $6 Million to 11 Projects, Green Car Congress

    Energy Department Awards $500,000 for AFV Fleet Demos, Clean Fuels Ohio

    PA Offers Diesel Emission Reduction Grants, Truckinginfo

    Clean Fleet Forum Slated for Sacramento in April, NGT News

    Clean Transportation Efficiencies Forum, CALSTART

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  • Fierce Energy

    How has Silicon Valley taken center stage at the Geneva International Motor Show this week?  It turns out all of the talk about Apple and Google getting into the business has made automakers jittery that the car industry could be in line for a technology shift that could result in new competitors getting a share of the market, with some pointing to Tesla as a prime example. 

    Inside EVs was curious about just how big Tesla’s Model S growth has been and to determine that they have put together a graph of their deliveries from 2012 to 2014. 57,000 is the number of total global Tesla deliveries by the end of last year. In their 2014 Shareholder Letter they confirmed they had received almost 20,000 reservations for the Model X, according to Evannex which also shows an infographic of the large number of accolades and awards the company has received. 

    Tesla co-founder Ian Wright is a fan of electric powertrains but he contends that trucks are “where it’s at” if you want to realize significant cost savings.  Wrightspeed’s range-extended electric vehicle powertrain has caught the attention of FedEx. In addition, Wright points out that you can save $35k in fuel and $20k in maintenance when their technology is applied to refuse trucks.  Motiv is demonstrating significant cost savings with all-electric garbage trucks and the company has just announced that they are offering a number of electric trucks, vans, and buses based on the chassis. Rather than assembling vehicles from the ground up they are using a flexible off-the-shelf approach. Motiv is also an award-winning company having secured the Popular Science 2014 Best of What’s New Award in the Green Tech category.

    Green Car Congress reports that UQM Technologies has received its first fuel cell compressor module purchase order from Ballard Power Systems. The compressor modular assemblies will be used in Ballard’s hydrogen powered fuel cell buses. And, Oberon Fuels is no doubt celebrating as the California Department of Food and Agriculture has approved dimethyl ether for use as a vehicle fuel.  Volvo Trucks is also a fan of the fuel because of its diesel like performance, environmental benefits and price advantages for customers. 

    Claude Masters with Florida Power & Light (FP&L) told an audience in Indianapolis yesterday about the variety of electric and hybrid trucks in his fleet and how important driver training is. FP&L strongly believes in the potential of EVs to change the way people drive and that’s why earlier in the week the company announced they are a partner in bringing the first-ever EV race to be held in the U.S. The Miami ePrix is part of the FIA Formula E Championship and it will take place in downtown Miami on March 14. 

    Tesla Model S Deliveries Graphed, Inside EVs

    Tesla Awards and Accolades, A Look Back, Evannex

    Tesla Co-Founder Says its Electric Trucks, Not Electric Cars, That Matter, The Verge

    Frankenstein Electric Trucks With Ford F59 Chassis, Clean Technica

    UQM Receives PO for Fuel Cell Compressor from Ballard, Green Car Congress

    California Approves DME for Use as Vehicle Fuel, Truckinginfo

    Biodiesel, Hybrids, ‘Green’ Strategy Kick Off Work Truck Show,  HDT

    FPL Presenting First-Ever EV Race in the US, Fierce Energy

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  • Is That A Shift I See In Your Paradigm?

    Clean Disruption should both put a smile on your face and a shift in your paradigm. The new book by Tony Seba posits that the convergence of technological trends (renewable energy, energy storage, EVs and autonomous vehicles) are well under way, is inevitable, and is happening because the new technology is better, and eventually much, much cheaper. 

    Will the industrial age of energy and transportation be over by 2030 as Mr. Seba suggests? CALSTART members in the news exemplify the transformations taking place at this very moment. Last week there was a power-packed meeting in Sacramento where CALSTART hosted the annual Low Carbon Fuels Summit. In advance of the meeting CALSTART President and CEO John Boesel and the Advanced Biofuels Association’s Michael McAdams penned an editorial about it for The Sacramento Bee.  The pace of change was reflected  at the Summit through numerous points including that electric vehicles (EVs) are selling faster than hybrids did when they were at the same point in their production cycle and at this rate they could displace up to 3.3 billion gallons of petroleum per year in California alone.

    Scalable ambitions are being reported daily, too. Pacific Gas & Electric is looking to build out the infrastructure resulting in deployment of 25,000 plug-in vehicle charging stations throughout their Northern and Central California service area. Their service area includes more than 60,000 plug-in vehicles.  

    Significant advances aren’t just happening in the U.S. UQM Technologies recently signed a deal with a South Korean electric vehicle manufacturer, Power Plaza Co., to provide electric motor and controller systems for the rapidly growing Korean 1-ton truck EV market. Back in the U.S., Lightning Hybrids has been awarded a full utility patent for the fourth generation of their hydraulic hybrid system.  Their goal for the new patent was to make the system lighter using more aluminum and having fewer parts.

    Ballard Power Systems is making news today as they have entered into an $80 million deal with Volkswagen Group to transfer certain automotive-related fuel cell intellectual property. Audi and Volkswagen have been showing fuel-cell prototypes in recent months.

    The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced awards to 10 project teams last week to deploy 55 low and no emission fuel cell, battery electric and electric hybrid buses. CALSTART will work with three partner transit agencies totaling nearly $24 million. One of those is the Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA) which has received $8.9 million to purchase five fuel-cell buses. On the electric bus side, BYD Motors is the beneficiary of a five-year, $3 million corporate income tax credit from the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development. BYD will hire 590 employees at two California manufacturing centers.

    CALSTART has assembled two panels representing several of our member companies for the Energy Independence Summit  (EIS 2015), hosted by Transportation Energy Partners, on February 23 in Washington, DC. Presenting speakers represent SARTA, BYD Motors, Ballard Power Systems, Cummins Westport, WAVE, Proterra, Plug Power, Hydrogenics, Toyota North America, and CALSTART. Lightning Hybrids will speak on a panel as well. Participants will also get to hear from FTA’s Acting Administrator, Therese McMillan. A complete agenda for EIS 2015 is available here

    New Book Predicts the Demise of the Oil Economy by 2030, Charged

    California Should Stay on Track With Standard on Cleaner Fuels, The Sacramento Bee

    CALSTART Event Covers Gasoline Prices and Key Policies, NGT News

    PG& E Seeks $6545 Million to Build 25,000 EV Charging Stations, Green Tech Media

    UQM Technologies Enters Agreement for Converted Electric Trucks, Green Car Congress

    Lightning Hybrids’ Hydraulic-Hybrid System Patented, Truckinginfo

    Audi Buys Patents for Fuel Cell Tech From Ballard Power Systems, Green Car Reports

    SARTA Lands Federal Grant for Pollution-free Buses, CantonRep.com

    Electric Public Transportation Firm Makes Comeback, Los Angeles Times

    Energy Independence Summit 2015, TEP

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  • The Green Optimist

    Today’s forecast is sunny with a good outlook for the electric and hybrid truck market, according to Frost & Sullivan. By 2020, they project that globally, the market will reach nearly 83,000 units. The sun is shining brightly for trucks in New York where today the state adopted the strongest safety regulations in the nation for liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a vehicle fuel. LNG is a lower cost, cleaner fuel for truckers. 

    The Green Optimistic says VIA Motors’ plug-in-hybrid pickup truck has entered production and the cherry on top is that VIA is an approved vendor for the Drive Clean Chicago voucher program. VIA has one pickup and two different vans on the list. Several CALSTART members are on the list and you can check it out here

    ChargePoint, the nation’s largest charging provider, is in partnership with BMW and Volkswagen to build a network of fast chargers that use a standard plug. The stations will span the east and west coasts. It isn’t clear what the cost will be but the shared goal is to support e-mobility in the U.S.  NRG eVgo shares that vision and they too plan to expand their network of fast chargers from 10 national markets to 25 in the next two years. How did the Midwest suddenly become an EV mecca? Their utility KCP&L announced their plans this week to install 1,001 public electric chargers in Missouri and Kansas. The “Clean Charge Network” will cost about $20 million.

    General Motors believes that customers not only want fuel-efficient vehicles but they also want to buy them from dealers with sustainability street cred. Hence, GM has launched a new Green Dealer Recognition program. Within 24 hours of the program launch 66 dealers signed up. Sustainability is the core of the NAFA Sustainable Fleet Standard Program, too, and CALSTART’s Bill Van Amburg will provide a briefing on the program on April 15 at the NAFA 2015 Institute and Expo in Orlando, FL.

    Most of us don’t have a spare $100k plus to purchase a Tesla Model S but apparently the going rate to sleep in one is $85. Steve Sassman of Arizona has his available via Airbnb. The deal is you sleep in the car while it is parked in his garage and you can use his kitchen, living room and bathroom.  Bring an alarm clock as you’ll need to be out of bed by 8 a.m. so he can get to work.

    Sunny Outlook for Electric, Hybrid Truck Market, Trucking Info

    NY Finalizes Rules to Allow LNG Sites, The Journal News

    VIA Motors Electric Pick-Up Truck Enters Production, The Green Optimistic

    Drive Clean Chicago

    BMW and VW Team up to Make EV Charger Networks Anyone Can Use, Wired

    NRG eVgo Expanding National Fast Charging Network, Charged EVs

    KCP&L to Install 1,001 EV Chargers, Kansascity.com

    Sustainability Provides Competitive Edge, GM Dealers Say, Environmental Leader

    NAFA Announces Program for 2015 I&E, Fleet Digest

    Man Lists His Tesla Model S as an $85-a-night Airbnb Room, engadget

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  • Capture the Rapture

    If you missed the President’ s State of the Union address last night, the topic of climate change received three paragraphs worth of attention. In addition to standing up for science itself, President Obama underscored the threat climate change poses to future generations. The President has been an advocate of electric vehicles (EVs) and late last fall he announced new commitments by 120 businesses to install workplace charging stations. The Christian Science Monitor offers advice on key considerations for establishing a successful program. Anyone wanting to learn more about workplace charging best practices is encouraged to sign up for a Clean Fuels Ohio and CALSTART free webinar on Tuesday, January 27. 

    The good people of Mountain View, California, can now enjoy a free, all electric shuttle ride throughout the City. Many players are making this possible. The California Energy Commission (CEC) funded the buses which were manufactured by Motiv Power Systems. Then Google jumped in to fund the free rides for the City. The four buses are in service as of last week.  

    Massachusetts-based Nuvera develops fuel cell stacks and on-site hydrogen production and dispensing systems. NACCO Materials Handling Group liked what they saw and acquired Nuvera. The NACCO plan is to integrate Nuvera’s fuel cell technology across parts of their lift truck product range. UQM Technologies made an acquisition of a different kind. They’ve been granted a patent for an electric and hybrid electric vehicle motor design using non-rare-earth magnets. The new design gives them an alternate technology reducing their exposure to price and supply volatility of rare earth materials.

    CALSTART is pleased to administer the Drive Clean Chicago voucher program and two member companies have announced that they qualify for funding. Crosspoint Kinetics has a flagship electric hybrid system. Wisconsin-based Odyne Systems manufactures hybrid systems for medium- and heavy-duty work trucks. To qualify for the grants, vehicles must be converted to all-electric or hybrid electric and must operate at least 75% of the time in Chicago.

    Back in California, Wrightspeed is manufacturing electric hybrid powertrains for trucks.  Tesla co-founder Ian Wright is the founder and CEO of Wrightspeed and has announced that his company is relocating to Alameda, California where they’ve moved into the city-owned 110,000-square-foot historic Hangar 41 at the former Alameda Naval Station.

    Anyone who has ever driven or ridden in the Tesla Model S will likely never forget the initial acceleration glee that comes with the maiden voyage. If you haven’t had the chance yet, Autoblog captures the rapture in :43 flat.

    How Far Obama’s Message on Climate Change Has Come, Washington Post

    Workplace Electric Car Charging, What Employers Should Know, Christian Science Monitor

    Workplace Charging Webinar, CALSTART

    Four Motiv Shuttle Buses Deployed in Mountain View, CA, Green Car Congress

    NACCO Buys Fuel Cell Provider, MM&D

    UQM Granted Patent for Vehicle Motor Design, The Auto Channel

    Kinetics Hybrid System Qualifies for Chicago Voucher Program, NGTNews

    Odyne Approved for Chicago Voucher Program, PR.com

    Tesla Co-Founder Moves San Jose Electric Truck Company to Alameda, Silicon Valley Business Journal

    Watch Two Women Fall in Love with Tesla Model S, Autoblog 

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  • Ruffing It

    All eyes are on the Detroit Auto Show where attendees are learning about everything from hydrogen powered vehicles to autonomous driving. RT.com reveals what they call eight rule bending cars and they include the all-electric Chevrolet Bolt which has a single charge range of more than 200 miles and runs about $30,000. And, the completely redesigned 2016 Chevrolet Volt is on display and is expected to be in showrooms in the second half of 2015. 

    Weight loss is the striking feature of the Ford F-150. Having shed 700 pounds over its predecessor, the truck gets 26 miles per gallon on the highway. And, a company called Local Motors built the world’s first 3D-printed car on the show floor.  Elon Musk was in Motown yesterday to urge other automakers to embrace and accelerate their electric vehicle (EV) programs. Musk also said Tesla is not likely to be profitable until 2020 and the much-anticipated Model X crossover vehicle is due out this summer.

    Odyne Systems is expanding their patent portfolio having just received their 7th and 8th U.S. patents.  Their system is the only medium- and heavy-duty truck plug-in hybrid system to deliver greater fuel efficiency both while driving and at the work site. VIA Motors is in the news having just delivered 40 plug-in gasoline-electric hybrid work trucks to fleet customers. The company also has 200 units of retrofitted Chevrolet Express vans in transit.  Their fleet customers include FedEx, Verizon and several utilities.

    New Flyer Industries has won two large contracts. The first is for 212 CNG-powered transit buses for the Orange County Transportation Authority. The other new deal is an award for up to 424 diesel-electric hybrid transit buses for the San Francisco Municipal Railway (MUNI).  The City of Louisville, Kentucky has a Mayor who is seeing green and that’s good news for Proterra, the manufacturer of battery electric buses.  Louisville’s acquisition of ten Proterra buses means the city has the second-largest fleet of Zerobuses in the eastern part of the U.S. 

    Please meet the delightfully urbanized dog named Eclipse. Most of us can’t get to our favorite parks fast enough and when met with that challenge, Eclipse hops a bus. And hops again. It turns out that the black Labrador is a fan of King County Metro (Seattle) and has figured out how to use the system. Not a ruff way to ride.

    Eight Vehicles That Bend the Rules at the Detroit Auto Show, RT

    2016 Chevy Volt is Leaner, Greener, Edmunds.com

    Tesla’s Elon Musk Urges Industry to Embrace EVs, Michigan Live

    Odyne Enhances System Engineering Focus

    VIA Motors Delivering Hybrid Fleet Trucks, Automotive News

    New Flyer Racks Up Orders for Loads of CNG and Hybrid Buses, NGTNews

    Louisville Trolleys Replaced With Zero-Emission Vehicles, WLKY

    Seattle Dog Figures Out Buses, Huffington Post

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  • The Little Gogoro That Could

    While national gas prices have continued to slide for 100 straight days, President Obama told the Detroit News that there’s no permanence in cheap prices and small, fuel-efficient vehicles remain a priority. The President visits a Michigan Ford plant today that makes alternatively powered, small vehicles. Ford is also making headlines in Las Vegas where self-driving vehicles are taking center stage at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Ford’s Chief Technical Officer observed drivers will continue to benefit from semi-autonomous features and Raj Nair believes some manufacturer will have a completely autonomous vehicle within five years. 

    Aspirational technologies matched up with policy targets as California’s Governor Jerry Brown laid out plans for his fourth and final term. He called for a sweeping campaign to increase the state’s role in fighting global warming including a call to reduce car and truck gas consumption by as much as 50%. And, as of January 1, the state’s cap-and-trade program has been extended to include fuel retailers, which will have to offer lower-carbon fuels or purchase carbon credits for the fuels they sell to consumers. Proponents believe putting the responsibility on the retail side means meaningful change will happen.

    Kudos to CALSTART members for ushering in the new year with an abundance of headlines.  Two members, Plug Power and Southern Company, have inked a multi-year contract that provides the latter with its ReliOn system. Plug Power CEO Andy Marsh has provided a 2015 revenue target of $120 million and emphasized the company will focus more on hydrogen. Toyota has a yen for pushing hydrogen vehicles, including their new Mirai. To help achieve the goal of driving innovation, the company is making all of its 5,680 fuel cell technology related patents available for free to other companies manufacturing and selling fuel-cell vehicles and hydrogen refueling.

    What happens when software expertise meets up with powertrain expertise? Silicon Valley start-up Tula Technologies and General Motors believe the result will be a fuel economy boost in four, six and eight-cylinder engines of up to 15%. The Dynamic Skip Fire (DSF) fires only the cylinders needed to deliver the performance the driver needs.

    From Loveland, Colorado, to Ames, Iowa, big savings are in store. The city of Loveland expects to save $15,000 annually on six new hydraulic hybrid garbage trucks. The hydraulic drive system from Parker Hannifin is expected to cut fuel consumption by 50%. And Renewable Energy Group (REG) has entered its first agreement with a municipality and is now providing 350,000 gallons of fuel with biodiesel blends to power 78 buses for the city of Ames. As a result, the city expects to see carbon dioxide emission reductions of up to 658 metric tons in 2015.

    Finally, let’s go back to Las Vegas and the CES via a fetching headline, “What the Heck is Gogoro?” The little company that could is based in Taiwan and has raised $150 million in a few years. Gogoro, which has been called the “Tesla for the everyman” is an electric scooter with infrastructure as the wow factor. Instead of plugging it in, the company envisions user-swappable batteries and a vast network of battery swapping stations. The target market is the most densely populated cities in the world. Take just one short minute and check it out here.

    Obama Says Cheap Gas Won’t Last, The Detroit News

    CES: Visions of Cars on Autopilot, New York Times

    Californians on Way to State’s New Energy Goals, ABC News

    Cap-and-Trade in California Also Covers Cars, care2

    Plug Power’s New Deals and 2015 Revenue Goals, Albany Business Review

    Toyota Follows Tesla, Makes Hydrogen Patents Open Source, Autoblog

    GM and Tula to Improve Engine Efficiency, Detroit News

    City of Loveland Expects Big Savings With Hydraulic Hybrid Garbage Trucks, NGT News

    REG Provides Biodiesel Blends for 78 Buses in Ames, Iowa, Biodiesel Magazine

    What The Heck is Gogoro?, Tech Crunch

    CNET’s Next Big Thing, CNET

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  • Transit Art

    Too little too late? That’s what some are saying about the Senate passing a package of tax incentives on Tuesday night for 2014 that will expire in two weeks. The legislation includes the second-generation biofuel production tax credit and the accelerated depreciation allowance for cellulosic biomass properties, as well as tax credits for alternative fuel vehicle refueling infrastructure. While the retroactive tax breaks will be in place for two weeks, there’s a benefit in the production tax credit for cellulosic ethanol and a $1 –a -gallon credit that helps the biodiesel industry for a year.

    Sandia National Laboratories and industrial gas giant Linde have partnered to accelerate the development of low-carbon energy, beginning with hydrogen and fuel cells. Last week Linde opened the first-ever, fully certified commercial hydrogen fueling station near Sacramento. Linde’s partner for the retail fueling station is Quantum Fuel Systems. Quantum CEO Brian Olson observed, “For over a decade of development and prototyping, we have achieved the breakthrough of measuring and dispensing hydrogen fuel for commercial use in fuel-cell vehicles.”  

    Achates Power, which has developed a modern two-stroke piston engine, has secured yet another contract with a leading global OEM. That brings their customer number to five representing passenger vehicles, light commercial vehicles, heavy commercial vehicles, military and marine and stationary power. 

    There goes UPS innovating again. The delivery giant, according to Fleets & Fuels, will deploy 18 fully battery electric delivery vehicles in the Houston-Galveston-Brazoria area of Texas. The vehicles are Workhorse E-100 walk-in vans from Amp. The Houston-Galveston Area Council is looking for additional project partners and the deadline is December 31.

    Tis the season to celebrate and Charged EV Magazine is hailing the Advent of the Electric Century, showcasing the EV City Casebook, featuring 50 BIG Ideas that will shape the future of electric mobility. Examples of innovation come from the Korean city of Gumi where they are wirelessly charging electric buses to British software company Route Monkey’s tools to optimize fleets for EV adoption.  

    Calling all young professorial types. The Electrochemical Society with the Toyota Research Institute of North America is seeking proposals for their Young Investigator Fellowship. The program was created this year to support young (that means under 40) professors and scholars in green energy technology projects. Nominations are due by January 31, 2015.

    Here’s  a smile-worthy transit-relatedish development. You may not think often of what’s underground at Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C., but the arts community has been busy imagining tomorrow. 51 years ago, D.C. shut down its original streetcar system comprised of underground tunnels and stations. This week the Arts Coalition for the Dupont Underground announced a five-and-a-half year lease to repurpose the space as an arts hub and underground gathering space. Kudos to them for converting a forgotten transit space into a cultural destination.

    Biodiesel, Wind Energy to Benefit (Briefly) From Tax Breaks, Des Moines Register

    Linde, Sandia Looks to Expand Hydrogen Network, Phys.org

    Hydrogen Refueling Developed by Quantum, Linde Opens in California, NGT News

    Achates Signs Development Contracts with Two More Manufacturers, Truckinginfo

    UPS Getting 18 AMP All-Battery Trucks, Fleets & Fuels

    50 Reasons to Celebrate the Advent of the Electric Century, Charged EVs

    EV City Casebook

    ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship, The Electrochemical Society

    Arts Group to Revive Streetcar Tunnels Beneath Dupont Circle, The Washington Post

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  • Gotta go. I'm bored.

    CALSTART’s Annual Meeting yesterday was filled with a who’s who of the players in the advanced vehicle technology industry. First up was Chris Grundler, Director of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality. Among his many thoughtful comments, he observed that the historic climate deal between the United States and China should not be underestimated in its significance. Rolling Stone is out with a detailed account of how a deal was reached and how it shifts the political calculus of international climate negotiations. 

    The Department of Transportation (DOT) is out with plans to finalize a rule to help consumers identify fuel efficient tires. DOT estimates that if 10% of car tires were upgraded to tires with a 10% improvement in rolling resistance, it would equal 1.6 billion miles of emission-free driving. 

    Could the Toyota Mirai be the next big thing in the automotive world? The vehicle will go on sale in Japan later this month, and the hydrogen fuel cell sedan has seen an increase in corporate and public sector demand. As a result, Toyota is investing another $165 million to triple domestic production in Japan. While some in the media are skeptical about fuel cell vehicles, there are also some who are naysayers when it comes to electric vehicles (EVs). John Graham, Dean of Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs takes on those folks arguing that market penetration numbers are impressive and that it is incumbent on the federal government to keep EV policy stability on track at least until 2017.

    Proterra’s CEO, Ryan Popple, is raising his hand to propose that EV buses just very well may be the future of mass transit. FastCompany showcases Proterra’s product which is a 40-foot, 77-seat vehicle that can go 30-40 miles on a single charge. The buses are operating in Florida, Tennessee, Nevada, Massachusetts and some other places. Their biggest customer is Foothill Transit, east of Los Angeles. Odyne Systems is finding traction in LA too. The Wisconsin-based company is working with the LA Department of Water and Power and has delivered their first plug-in hybrid electric bucket truck. Odyne is coupling Allison Transmission equipment in parallel with an electric motor from Remy.

    There’s even more good news for EVs in the form of an announcement that more than 70 investor-owned utilities will be electrifying their fleet by spending $250 million over five years as of 2015. Pacific Gas & Electric is one of the companies and they recently unveiled their first plug-in hybrid-electric-drive Class 5 bucket truck. The truck was developed in partnership with Efficient Drivetrains Inc. and Altec Industries. 

    I’m not convinced that society has a role to play in curing pedestrian boredom but I’m a big fan of art installations of all kinds. Enter StreetPong, a two person game installed on traffic lights in Germany. When you get stuck at a red light on a crosswalk, two people on either side of the intersection play on a touchscreen usually designed to trigger traffic lights to change. The game could be coming to an intersection near you. Gotta go.

    The Secret Deal to Save the Planet, Rolling Stone

    DOT To Create Rating System for Fuel Efficient Tires, The Hill

    Toyota to Triple Production Capacity for Japan Mirai, Green Car Congress

    Why We Should Keep Charging Ahead on Electric Cars, Huffington Post

    Are Electric Buses the Future of Mass Transit?, Fast Company

    Odyne Delivers Its First CAL Plug-in, Fleets & Fuels

    Utilities Increase Commitment to Electric Vehicles, Trucking Info

    StreetPong, Treehugger

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  • A Beacon in the Smog

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is intent on bringing ozone pollution standards in line with the latest science, and toward that end, last week they proposed stronger standards to control smog. Historically the worst ground-level ozone has been found in the South Coast Basin. There will be a public comment period and the final rule is expected in October of 2015. The California Air Resources Board (ARB) is seeking public comment, too.  They are looking for input on a preliminary draft of the California-modified Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation, (CA-GREET 2.0). The model will be used to calculate carbon intensities for the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). 

    For those who are visually oriented, the World Resources Institute has an excellent infographic that shows how national CO2 emissions have changed over the last 150 years. It also shows what needs to happen to stay within the global carbon budget. 

    Low emission engines is what Westport Innovations is all about and the Canadian company just acquired  Dutch engine-manufacturer Prins, which also specializes in CNG and LNG fuel systems. Advances in natural gas (NG) burning engines means they are cleaner and the Sacramento Regional Transit District is taking advantage of California funding to help purchase and replace 30 buses that will run on NG. 

    Complete Coach Works is a company that rebuilds and rehabilitates old buses and they’ll be doing just that for the Indianapolis Transportation Agency. They have received a $12 million contract to convert 21 diesel buses to electric.  AMP Holding is all about the promise of electric vehicles, too. They will be supplying two E-GEN electric Workhorse Walk-In vans to a major transportation company. They also recently shared the news that they’ll be deploying 18 all-electric vans to a transportation company in the Houston-Galveston, Texas area.

    The Editorial Board of The New York Times is lending their considerable clout to the role that hydrogen vehicles, combined with a commitment to EVs will play in lowering carbon emissions and other pollutants.  Citing automakers Toyota, General Motors, Honda, and Ford among others, they assert this is one of the transformative technologies needed to deal with climate change. The Hydrogen Education Foundation, no doubt concurs and they have launched a student design competition focused on the development of business and finance models for hydrogen infrastructure. The contest is now open and the deadline is January 16, 2015.

    Speaking of deadlines, in a mere six days, a veritable who’s who of industry leaders will convene in Los Angeles for CALSTART’s Annual Meeting and Blue Sky Awards Luncheon. There’s no hyperbole in that “who’s who” comment. Click here to see the range of VIPs representing the EPA, the Department of Energy’s  ARPA-E , Los Angeles Times, California ARB, Wells Fargo Bank, and many others.  Why not join us?

    EPA Ready for Stricter Air Quality Rules with a Look at Smog, Autobloggreen

    ARB Staff Posts CA-GREET 2.0 for Public Comment, Green Car Congress

    Visualizing the Past, Present and Future of Carbon Emissions, World Resources Institute

    Westport Innovations Buys Dutch Engine-Maker Prins, Business Vancouver

    Regional Transit Getting Almost 100 NG Buses, Sacramento Business Journal

    Company Rebuilds Buses to Run on Zero-Emission, ABC7

    AMP Holding Inks Order for E-GEN Electric Workhorse Trucks, NGT News

    Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars Are Coming Down the Pike, New York Times

    The Hydrogen Student Design Contest, Green Energy News

    A New Era for Clean Transportation, CALSTART

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  • Meet The Future

    CALSTART members continue to dominate industry news. First up is ITM Power which is targeting two distinct segments in the emerging hydrogen fuel market- power-to-gas and clean fuel equipment. Speaking recently at the Michelin Bibendum, ITM CEO Graham Cooley explained how their electrolyzer system can basically get you zero-cost hydrogen for fuel cell vehicles (FCVs). Hydrogen infrastructure is a challenge but Toyota is on schedule to commit to the success of the market in Japan and the U.S. Leading up to the Los Angeles Auto Show, Toyota President and CEO Akio Toyoda announced the name of their new FCV-the Mirai, which means “the future.” The company has already invested in a hydrogen highway in California and has plans to develop infrastructure across five Northeastern states by 2016.

    Inventev, the developer of a hybrid-electric system for commercial trucks, gets to take a bow for winning $25k in seed capital from the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition. Dave Stenson, Founder and CEO, is shooting to raise $5 million and anticipates closing on the first $1.5 million by the first quarter of next year. Bravo VIA Motors which has received certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for their eREV Van-an extended-range, light-duty electric vehicle. The company has already shipped 23 eREV vans to fleet customers and three more are in transit.

    AmeriPride Services Inc., one of the largest uniform and linen supply companies in North America, is the proud recipient of a fuel-efficient hydraulic hybrid truck. The fleet selected Lightning Hybrids to provide their hybrid systems. Morgan Olson has provided the Route Star walk-in van body. AMP Holding has good fleet news, too, in that a major transportation company has purchased 18 all-electric Workhorse E-100 walk-in vans. The zero-emission vans will be used in the Houston/Galveston area.

    Utilities have been targeted by the White House to commit to spending at least 5% of their fleet acquisition budgets on buying EVs. More than 70 utilities and 60 businesses have also committed to installing workplace charging for employees with plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. San Diego Gas and Electric, and Southern California Edison (SCE) are seeking permission to expand their potential role in owning EV charging infrastructure. Legislator advocates are appealing to the state PUC to lift a ban on investor-owned utilities owning EV charging infrastructure. ChargePoint CEO Pasquale Romano gives the plan two thumbs up saying “This allowance for choice will increase competition and spur private investment.” The two utilities are seeking permission to build $500 million worth of infrastructure. 

    Want to hear more about the future of the grid and why it matters for transportation? SCE President Pedro Pizarro will join Pasquale Romano and Stephen Berberich, President of the California Independent System Operators at CALSTART’s Annual Meeting and Blue Sky Award Luncheon on Tuesday, December 9th at the Westin Bonaventure in Los Angeles. The program includes a who’s who of key players in the advanced transportation industry. You are invited to register here.

    ITM Power Wants to Make Nearly Free Hydrogen, Autoblog Green

    Will The Mirai Be The Next Prius?, Forbes Life

    Inventev Scores Win at Accelerate Michigan Hybrid Truck Technology, DFAN

    VIA Motors Begins Deliveries After EPA Certification, Green Car Reports

    Ameripride Takes Delivery of First Hydraulic Hybrid Truck, Hydraulics & Pneumatics

    Fleet to Roll Out All-Electric Walk-In Vans, NGT News

    Utilities Commit to Buy Electric Vehicles, Detroit Free Press

    California Considers Lifting Ban on Utilities Owning EVSE, ChargedEVs

    CALSTART Annual Meeting & Blue Sky Award, CALSTART

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  • Financial Crystal Ball

    The Fisker Karma is back! Fisker has announced a deal with Quantum which will license its plug-in hybrid control software to them. Quantum estimates the licensing agreement and other software development services to be worth in excess of $5 million over the next year.

    New York-based Plug Power is supplying GenDrive fuel cells to food manufacturer and distributor Golden State Foods which is a distributor for Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, Arby’s, and Taco Bell, among others. The fuel cells will replace lead-acid batteries and will be used in lift trucks and pallet trucks. Ohio-based Amp Electric Vehicles has an idea. What if online shoppers could get packages delivered through a combination of an electric truck and a delivery drone?  Amp’s hybrid drone-truck delivery system can lower the cost to 2 cents per mile.
    Green Tech Automotive has delivered good news to the people of Tunica, Mississippi in the form of a new production facility that is capable of producing large numbers of the company’s upcoming two-seat Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV). Production of the MyCar is expected to begin next month. From NEVs to buses, transportation is going electric. The University of Utah is introducing a new twist with a battery-powered bus that operates on a wireless charging system. This is the first commercial deployment for Wireless Advanced Vehicle Electrification (WAVE) which calls their system the most powerful and efficient single pad wireless charging system ever deployed by a U.S. company for public transit.

    Chicago has electric buses on the brain, too.  Last week the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)  put into regular service two 40-foot green machines made by New Flyer Industries with the all-electric propulsion system built by Siemens. CTA plans to test the buses for a year before deciding about future purchases. And, in early 2016 Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport will open a travel center that has a convenience store, restaurant, car wash, flight information, Wi-Fi---and wait for it-fast-charging electric stations and alternative fuels. Mayor Rahm Emanuel said of the facility, “Providing better access to alternative fuels at O’Hare provides multiple benefits for the City and the public.”

    What do you think Tesla’s biggest asset is? Share price growth? Sales growth? The Model S sedan? Motley Fool’s Adam Galas has a different focal point along the lines of how they’ve expanded their products and services pointing to their Gigafactory. In addition to cutting battery costs by 30% when they open in 2017, the company is poised to play a big role in energy storage

    While we don’t all have a financial crystal ball, CALSTART is pleased to present one in the form of a powerhouse panel at our upcoming Annual Meeting and Blue Sky Awards Luncheon. “The Outlook for Clean Transportation: A Private Public Investment Partnership” features an industry who’s who. Moderated by Steelhead Industries CEO Andrew Coors, presenters include Puon Penn of Wells Fargo; Ryan Popple, a Partner with Kleiner Perkins; John Rhow of PPA Solutions; and, Janea Scott, Commissioner with the California Energy Commission. The annual meeting takes place in Los Angeles on Tuesday, December 9 and you are one click away from being part of it.

    Quantum Fuel Systems Enters Agreement with Fisker, Autoblog Green

    Plug Power Supplies Fuel Cells for California Food Distributor, NGT News

    Electric Truck Paired with Drones Offer New Delivery Methodology, Yahoo News

    Green Tech Automotive Opens EV Production Plant in Mississippi, Clean Technica

    University of Utah Bus Runs on Electric Charge, The Salt Lake Tribune

    All Electric Demo Buses in Service in Chicago, Chicago Tribune

    Alternative Fuel Center to Open at O’Hare, Chicago Sun Times

    Tesla Motors Inc.’s Secret Growth Weapon, The Motley Fool

    A New Era for Clean Transportation, CALSTART

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  • Happiness Guarantee

    In case you missed it, last week California Air Resources Board (CARB) Chair Mary Nichols, joined by representatives of eight states, announced that more than 260,000 zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) have been sold. The eight-state ZEV partnership aims to develop incentives to encourage consumers and businesses to buy ZEVs. 

    In the meantime, Tesla’s Elon Musk is taking on the Wall Street Journal’s (WSJ) Model S buzz kill. In response to Tesla’s news that it will reduce lease payments by up to 25% for the popular Model S as a “happiness guarantee,” the WSJ asserted it as a strategy to lift sagging U.S. sales. Musk took to the tweetosphere to say Tesla’s global sales last month reached a record high and was up 65% year-over-year in North America. One has to wonder if Musk, a co-founder of PayPal, envisioned a day when EV charging could be paid for using the e-commerce business. That day has arrived as ChargePoint is now accepting PayPal for stations that require payment. 

    Thanks to a grant from the California Energy Commission, a new Class 4 vehicle combining Greenkraft’s CNG truck technology and Efficient Drivetrains Inc’s plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) technology is soon to be developed. The $900,000 award will demonstrate the fuel economy improvements resulting from a combination of natural gas and hybrid-electric technology. 15-20% fuel economy is what Coca-Cola anticipates from their investment in 140 2014 Chevy Express 3500 vans that have been converted into hybrids using the patented XL Hybrid drive system. Coca-Cola says it will result in a reduction of carbon output by 4,000 tons of CO2. 

    While details about the 2016 Chevy Volt will be released in January at the Detroit Auto Show, General Motors shared news about its second-generation Voltec electric-drive system this morning. The more efficient drivetrain will deliver a longer driving range on battery power, and quicker acceleration. The vehicle will go on sale in the second half of 2015. 

    Biodiesel has many advantages over regular diesel, even in a very low blend, and the Mineta National Transit Research Consortium (MNTRC) has just released a study making that point related to use in urban transit buses. In a peer reviewed study of 10 different transit buses, PM emissions significantly decreased when using B20. The authors recommend that governments look at biodiesel for use in urban and commercial vehicles. 

    Cleaning up dirty old trucks is the focus of a drayage truck event this coming Saturday at the Port of Houston. The Houston-Galveston Area Council (HGAC) will be on hand to provide information about grants and loans to help truck owners replace older vehicles with cleaner new ones. 

    While it really isn’t beginning to look a lot like Christmas, Kenworth is already in a festive mood. As it happens, a special Kenworth T880, all decked out with a fetching decal, will be transporting the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree to Washington, DC for the annual tree-lighting ceremony. The 88-foot tall white spruce will be cut in Minnesota’s Chippewa National Forest today.

    ZEV Sales Exceed 260,000 in US, Inside EVs

    Tesla: Wall Street Journal Article is Incorrect, Charged

    ChargePoint Now Accepts PayPal, Domestic Fuel

    Greenkraft, EDI Attain CEC Grant for CNG –Hybrid, NGT News

    2016 Chevy Volt: Bigger Battery, More Power, Detroit Free Press

    XL Hybrids to Convert 140 Delivery Vans for Coca-Cola, GAS2

    Using Biodiesel in Transit Buses Could Reduce Emissions, PR Newswire

    Grants Available to Offset Cost of New Drayage Trucks, Fleet Owner

    Kenworth to Transport US Capitol Christmas Tree, Fleet Equipment

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  • 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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