• Rolling iPads

    Who is going to win the automotive race to the future? Michigan seems like a fine candidate with 326,000 automotive industry workers in the state. But, Jerry Hirsch with the Los Angeles Times asserts that California is emerging as “…the global center for the future of personal mobility.” The magic formula includes regulations, incentives, Silicon Valley and the growing reliance on software and electronics. Hirsch’s suggestion that cars will become more like rolling iPads is exemplified at this year’s Connected Car Expo at the Los Angeles International Auto Show where the City of LA announced the establishment of the Coalition of Transportation Technology. This planning project is lauded as the first in the world to look at the logistics and scale of a somewhat near-term future with autonomous vehicles running in U.S. cities. 

    Back in Detroit, General Motors (GM) is once again demonstrating their forward looking bonafides in collaboration with the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center. GM will test its fuel cell powertrains by building ATVs powered by hydrogen fuel cells for use by the Army. Georgia Power is looking ahead as well and expects to open more than 61 new public electric vehicle (EV) charging stations by the end of 2016 at their utility locations across the state. The utility has just opened the first eleven in Atlanta.

    Propel Fuels is out with news that consumer adoption of Neste’s renewable diesel has increased by 300% compared to its biodiesel B20 product. This 100% drop-in renewable diesel for use in any diesel engine is a low-carbon fuel. Propel is adding 13 new distribution centers in Southern California. Lightning Hybrids is taking their product a little further south. This week the hydraulic hybrid system manufacturer is introducing their energy recovery system (ERS) for saving fuel and reducing emissions. The ERS will be featured on a diesel-powered passenger city bus in Guadalajara, Mexico.

    With the holiday season right around the corner, many people will be hosting celebrations and that is where UberEvents wants to be considered a service provider. Good bye party bus! UberEvents is a national program that allows a party-giver to create an event online to receive pre-paid guest passes to distribute to party-goers. Nice host. Cheers!

    California is Steering the Auto Industry Toward Its Future, Los Angeles Times

    Los Angeles Is the First City to Take Autonomous Cars Seriously, Jalopnik

    GM Expands Fuel Cell Vehicle Program with New Collaboration, hybridCARS

    Georgia Power Adds, Plans EV Charging, Fleets & Fuels

    Propel Fuels Reports Strong Consumer Adoption of Renewable Diesel, Green Car Congress

    Lightning Hybrids to Mark Mexican Debut of Energy Recovery System, NGTNews

    New Uber Offering Could Replace Party Buses, Metro Magazine

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  • On Autopilot

    It was a matter of time before the EV charging industry would join forces and last week they did just that. The Electric Vehicle Charging Association (EVCA) has a strong California presence and included among their membership is ChargePoint and NRG EVgo. Their aim is to serve as a resource and advocate for the industry. They aren’t the only ones looking ahead. Volvo, the Swedish auto manufacturer has announced their global electrification strategy. The company envisions that by 2020, 1 in 10 of their sales will be plug-in vehicles with a seeming emphasis toward batteries. 

    Characteristically, Tesla is thinking ahead, too. During their third quarter earnings call, CEO Elon Musk asserted that it would be unusual within 15-20 years if cars don’t have full autonomy. On cue, Autoblog recently tested the Autopilot on the Tesla Model S P9OD as part of their testing for the “Tech of the Year” award. Reporter Adam Morath seemed pretty pleased and pointed out that Tesla has had the hardware already installed for self-driving in Model S’s they were shipping so it is ready to go once they get the software right. 

    Thanks to funding from the California Energy Commission (CEC), the City of Gardena Transit Agency (GTrans) will deploy and collect information on 5 new battery electric buses. They will operate in disadvantaged communities. GTrans is gathering data as they look ahead to a future electrification strategy. They’ve purchased an all-electric BYD bus as well as New Flyer buses which had already been converted by Complete Coach Works. New Flyer also is interested in New York state market penetration. The company recently announced that their battery-electric Xcelsior XE35 and XE40 bus models are eligible for the New York Truck-Voucher Incentive Program. CALSTART administers the NYSERDA program.

    Manhattan Beer Distributors delivers beer and other beverages throughout New York City. Because of their commitment to clean air, the company recently purchased 35 compressed natural gas (CNG) powered Volvo regional haul daycabs for their NYC fleet. They operate 110 CNG trucks in their fleet of more than 500 vehicles.

    Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) is garnering a lot of attention as a biogas that significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Clean Fuels Ohio and Energy Vision are focused on the development of RNG transportation throughout Ohio and invites people interested in learning more to attend their December 2 “Waste to Wheels II: RNG for Transportation” day-long conference.

    Colorado-based UQM Technologies, manufacturer of electronic motors, recently announced a new deal with Chinese company ITL Efficiency Corporation. The deal could be worth more than $400 million. They will make their electric propulsion systems in Colorado through 2017 and begin manufacturing them in China in 2018.

    The CEC has released their final report on the California Hybrid, Efficient and Advanced Truck Research Center (CalHEAT), which was authored by CALSTART’s Fred Silver. CALSTART performed research into planning, commercializing, and demonstrating truck technologies “…to promote more fuel efficient medium-and- heavy-duty vehicles and reduction of emissions.” You can access the report here.

    The EV Charging Association, a New Trade Group, Charged EVs

    Volvo Wants 10% of Sales to be PHEV by 2020, Autoblog Green

    Tesla CEO Elon Musk: Cars all go self-driving in 20 years, USA Today

    We demonstrate Autopilot on the Tesla Model S, Autoblog

    GTrans’ Repowered Electric Drive Buses, Fleets&Fuels

    New Flyer Electric Buses Eligible for NY State Incentives, NGTNews

    Beer Distributor Buys 35 CNG-Powered Volvo Tractors, FleetOwner

    Ohio Conference to Focus on RNG, NGT News

    UQM Technologies Inks Long-Term Supply Agreement, StreetInsider.com

    CalHEAT Truck Research Center Final Report, California Energy Commission

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  • Back To The Future

    Might our future include electric vehicles (EVs) replacing gasoline-powered cars, buses that run on hydrogen or electricity, and the proliferation of cleaner fuels? This past summer California Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order to transition to zero-emission technologies. The Los Angeles Times pieces together perspectives from regulators to NGO’s and researchers who articulate the challenges in meeting the Governor’s goals and the need to do more and do it faster.  Efficient Drivetrains Inc. is on board with that and recently, along with truck manufacturer Greenkraft, they’ve introduced a prototype compressed natural gas (CNG) fueled plug-in hybrid electric Class 4 truck with 40 miles of all-electric range. The technology is reported to triple the miles per gasoline gallon equivalent (GGE) from 9 miles to 27.

    Wisconsin-based Odyne has received good news from the California Air Resources Board (CARB). They have received approval to have the Odyne Plug-In Hybrid System on 2013-2015 medium- and heavy-duty work trucks. Odyne is the first company to complete the CARB aftermarket exemption process and receive an Executive Order for a plug-in hybrid solution for MD and HD trucks. There’s also good news out of Kansas City, Missouri where terminal truck manufacturer Orange EV is located. The company has recently announced an expansion that includes hiring more people and they are growing their near-term production capacity to keep up with growing demand. 

    General Motors and LG, the South Korean company who worked on the Chevy Volt, have announced that they’ll partner again on the development of the Chevy Bolt. The Bolt is scheduled to launch in 2017 and is expected to have a range of over 200 miles. LG will provide several components including the onboard charger, battery cells and pack, battery heater and the infotainment system. So many people are all charged up over EVs that the sad unintended consequence is growing consternation over the scarcity of electric charging stations. As California steadily grows the electric vehicle market as an emissions reduction strategy, The New York Times regales us with many tales of unruly behavior from people who “…are unplugging one another’s cars, trading insults, and creating black markets and side deals to trade spots in corporate parking lots.” As that problem grows, so do possible solutions. The Hilton hotel chain, recognizing that 350,000 EVs have been sold in the US since 2010 and 120,000 of those were sold last year, has decided to install charging stations at some of their properties across the U.S.  In partnership with GE and Tesla, the company has committed to 50 charging stations by the end of 2015 and 100 by the end of 2016. Do we call that "Sleepplace charging?"

    Kudos to the clever promotions people paying attention to October 21, 2015 as the date of Marty McFly’s time-travel destination in “Back to the Future II” (a mere 26 years ago). Today the Toyota Mirai goes on sale in California and the company pays homage to “Back to the Future” by unveiling a full-length promotion of their hydrogen fuel car starring none other than Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd (Marty McFly and Doc Brown). As Toyota spokesperson Bill Fay said, “There’s no better way to generate excitement for a turning point in automotive history than with a film that celebrated the possibilities of the future.”

    Cutting Ozone Will Require Radical Transformation of California’s Trucking Industry, Los Angeles Times

    Efficient Drivetrains Debuts CNG-Electric Class 4 Commercial Truck, TruckingNews

    CARB Oks Odyne’s Plug-In Hybrid System for Medium-& Heavy-Duty Trucks, NGT News

    Orange EV Adding Jobs, Expanding to Larger Production Facilities, FleetOwner

    GM Says Chevy Bolt Electric Range Could Be Over 200 Miles, AP

    In California, Electric Cars Outpace Plugs, and Sparks Fly, New York Times

    Hilton Announces Electric Car Charging Program for U.S., Inside EVs

    Toyota Remembers 26 Years Ago Today, Bloomberg

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  • Pop Star Hits a Green Note

    The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has re-adopted a low carbon fuel standard which is a key part of Governor Jerry Brown’s mandated 50% cut in petroleum use according to CARB chair Mary Nichols. CALSTART President and CEO John Boesel lauded the move saying “The Low Carbon Fuel Standard requires fuel producers to innovate and invest in cleaner fuels. Because of strong policy direction, a number of California industries have been doing their part-now it’s time for the oil industry to do its fair share.” Cummins Westport is doing their part by having recently received an endorsement from CARB for their 100 natural gas-fueled 8.9 liter ISL G engine as near zero emission. The engine is 90% cleaner than the existing NOx standard. EPA validation doesn’t seem far behind and transit agencies and refuse haulers will be able to use them next year. As for this year, New Flyer Industries just received an order from San Bernardino-based Omnitrans for 217 heavy-duty CNG Xcelsior buses.

    Several thousand people were at Tesla’s Fremont, CA plant last night for the unveiling of their Model X SUV. CEO Elon Musk told the crowd that their mission is to accelerate sustainable transportation. The Model X is expected to cost between $132k-$144k. DHL Express has set their sights on electric trucks having just ordered 45 battery electric delivery trucks from Zenith Motors. UQM Technologies benefits from the deal as well as the trucks will be equipped with their electric power systems. And, the City of Detroit is upgrading 31 ambulances by partnering with NextEnergy and Navitas Systems to add auxiliary power units. Navitas customized energy solutions reduce vehicle idling by letting an ambulance driver run lights, communications, heating and air conditioning and onboard medical equipment while the engine is turned off. 

    Tis the season for a lot of conferences and CALSTART’s Bill Van Amburg is the keynoter for the Northern California Clean Technology Forum on October 15 in Sacramento. Bill will focus on what Light- and Heavy-Duty products as well as Off-road you can expect to see in 2016. CALSTART’s Jean-Baptiste Gallo speaks later that morning about a new electrified natural gas truck from EDI and Greenkraft. At the end of October, CALSTART’s John Boesel will lead two workshops at the VERGE Conference 2015, October 26-29 in San Jose. You can save 10% by registering with the code V15CS. Among the topics John will address is how electric buses are accelerating smart cities. The Volvo Group has addressed that topic as well and in a recent study they show that a city roughly the size of Sacramento, with half a million people, could save $12 million annually if their buses run on electricity vs. diesel. Volvo recently began operating a new electric bus line in Gothenburg, Sweden. If you want to smile, click here right now to see the delightful thing that happened on a Volvo bus recently, involving a Swedish pop star, to demonstrate how the emissions free bus is perfectly silent.

    California Regulators to Restore Emissions-Cutting Fuel Rule, NGT News


    Cummins Westport Engine Earns Accolades from CARB, School Transportation News


    New Flyer Awarded $119M Contract by Omnitrans, ChrisD.ca


    Tesla’s Model X Shows an SUV Can Go All Electric, Scientific American


    Breakthrough Order for Battery Trucks for CA and NY, JOC.com


    Ambulances Going Green With New Technology, WLNS.COM


    Northern California Clean Technology Forum, Sacramento Clean Cities Coalition




    Electric Buses Could Lead to Significant Savings, environment360


    Zara Larsson-Silent Bus Sessions-Better You, YouTube


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  • Drive Electric

    We’re in the midst of National Drive Electric Week which is designed to raise awareness of the widespread availability of all-electric and plug-in hybrid-electric cars, trucks, buses and more.  There are 197 events in the U.S. and Canada through September 20. Over the weekend, people attending an event in Los Angeles got to see the first production version of the upcoming 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV. To find an event near you, check out the complete list.

    Electrified commercial vehicles continue to gain traction in the marketplace and delivery giant UPS has recently announced a purchase of 125 plug-in hybrid trucks. The vehicles are manufactured by Workhorse Group which is based in Cincinnati. They are expected to deliver fuel economy gains of up to four times the fuel economy of a gasoline powered vehicle. EnerSys and Aker Wade are celebrating a milestone as they recently delivered the 15,000th Express fast charge port. The system uses batteries engineered for fast charging used by companies operating forklift power systems.

    The San Diego Airport Parking Company is committed to cutting costs and reducing emissions and two achieve both of those goals they landed on a product manufactured by Kentucky-based Zenith Motors. Their two new all-electric shuttle vans average between 90 and 110 miles between charges. Disadvantaged communities in Los Angeles and the Coachella Valley will benefit from a $3M CEC grant awarded to CALSTART to build and demonstrate four fuel-cell shuttle buses. The award is to serve economically distressed and air quality-challenged” communities.

    From shuttle vans to 60 foot buses, the popularity of electric buses is all the rage. Recently electric car and bus manufacturer BYD won a contract to supply up to 800 buses in the state of Washington. On the other side of the country, Metropolitan Transit Authority riders in Nashville are noticing how very quiet their new electric buses are. The zero-emission ride in the music city is courtesy of Proterra which says over the 12-year life of their bus, it is 64% more cost-effective to operate than diesel.

    CEO’s John Boesel (CALSTART), Ryan Popple (Proterra), and Lauren Skiver (SunLine Transit) make up a tour de force session on “How Electric Buses are Accelerating Smart Cities” at the Verge conference in San Jose late next month. The conference focuses on transformative and scalable solutions in seven areas including transportation. Note that the early bird registration deadline is this Friday, September 18. Speaking of this Friday, that is also the deadline to nominate outstanding achievers in our industry for the Sacramento Clean Cities Clean Air Champion Awards. Award winners will be announced at their Northern California Clean Technology Forum on October 14. For more information contact thomaska@saccounty.net 

    And, while you are filling in your busy work calendar, don’t forget to register for CALSTART’s High-Efficiency Truck Users Forum 2015 National Meeting taking place in Sterling Heights, Michigan September 29-30. The agenda is up-to-date and available here.

    National Drive Electric Week, Drive Electric

    Chevy Bolt EV at LA Drive Electric Week, Green Car Reports

    UPS Expands Electric Fleet with Workhorse Trucks, TruckTrend

    A Milestone in Forklift Charging Industry, Battery Power

    Zenith Electric Shuttles at San Diego Airport, NGT News

    CEC Awards CALSTART $3M Grant for Fuel Cell Shuttle Project, NGT News

    BYD Wins 10 of 12 Vehicle Categories in Bus RFP, Inside EVs

    Quiet Electric Buses Added to Nashville’s Hybrid Fleet, Nashville Public Radio

    Verge, October 26-29, San Jose, GreenBiz

    Northern California Clean Technology Forum, Clean Cities Sacramento


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  • Heavy-Duty Headlines

    In a noteworthy event last week, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) awarded the 2,000th voucher through its Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP). The milestone voucher went to Chino, California-based Redwood Products which will take ownership of a Hino hybrid truck. The program has provided $63 million for 430 zero-emission and 1,800 hybrid trucks and buses. Funding innovation is taking place in the City of Chicago, too, where Drive Clean Chicago has announced more than $1 million in vouchers for fuel efficient taxi or service vehicles. Fleets can apply for a $10,000 discount for electric and compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles. Drive Clean Chicago and CALSTART work in partnership to grow clean public transit technology.

    New Flyer just finished a new round of Federal Transit Administration Altoona testing on their Xcelsior XE 40 all-electric bus. New Flyer’s CEO Paul Soubry touted the achievement observing exceptional performance in all testing categories. The bus has captured the attention of the California Energy Commission, too, as they recently approved a $2.1 million grant for a demonstration project that will integrate advanced fuel cell technology from Hydrogenics. The bus will be tested by SunLine Transit which is based in Thousand Palms, CA.

    Westport Innovations announced yesterday that they’ve agreed to buy Fuel Systems Solutions in a deal valued at $136.4 million. Westport’s focus has been largely on heavy-duty and high horsepower technology. Fuel Systems has had a light- and medium-duty focus. The company will trade in New York and Toronto under Westport Fuel Systems

    California-based Efficient Drivetrains, Inc. sure gets around and their latest news comes from the Port of Shanghai where they have delivered a zero-emission plug-in hybrid (PHEV) truck specifically engineered for that Port. It is projected that the Port will acquire up to 200 PHEV trucks in 2016.

    Everyone’s talking trucks and that is particularly true right now as we are in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration"s (NHTSA) comment period for the proposed new truck and bus fuel efficiency standards. There’s been some pressure to extend the comment period and EPA/NHTSA have agreed, extending it to October 1 from the original deadline of September 17. Two weeks ago as EPA and NHTSA were about to hold hearings on the new standards, CALSTART released a report concluding that fleets will save money if higher US fuel economy requirements for trucks are put in place. The report points to different paybacks for different vehicle classes but concludes that there is a viable business case. The report can be found on CALSTART’s website.

    How new fuel efficiency standards affect technology development is just one of the questions to be addressed later this month at CALSTART’s High-Efficiency Truck Users Forum and Technical Exchange. Topics will include vehicle electrification, vehicle automation/cyber security, idle reduction, and driveline integration/optimization. Registration is now open complete with discounts for members. The Technical Exchange is September 29-30 in Sterling Heights, Michigan.

    California Awards 2,000th Alt-Fuel Truck Voucher, Truckinginfo

    Drive Clean Taxi Funding Now Available, Chicagoist

    New Flyer Touts Test Results of Xcelsior XE40 Bus, NGT News

    New Flyer, Hydrogenics Bus To Be Operated by SunLine, Fleets&Fuels

    Westport and Fuel Systems Solutions Merge, CNN Money

    EDI Delivers Zero Emission Vehicles to Port of Shanghai, Yahoo Finance

    Comment Deadline Extended for Truck GHG Proposal, FleetOwner

    Stronger Truck Fuel Economy Standards Published, Tire Business

    Higher Fuel Economy-Working for Fleets, CALSTART

    HTUF Technical Exchange September 29-30, CALSTART

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  • Fierce Innovation

    Yesterday, the Jet Propulsion Lab and a Netherlands institute published a new study in the journal Nature Geoscience. The good news is that ozone precursor pollutants in the western United States decreased between 2005 and 2010 by 21 percent. But, those gains were offset by increases of ozone precursors in China resulting in “…no drop in the amount of ozone in the mid-troposphere despite the local actions taken to reduce emissions.” The bottom line is the impact of local and regional climate change policies could have limited effectiveness if not considered in a global context.

    As if on cue, Governor’s in Oregon, Washington and California, as well as the premier of British Columbia have formed a partnership with local governments and utilities to speed up the adoption of ZEVs in public and private fleets on the west coast. Earlier this year California Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order targeting an 80% reduction in GHG emissions by the middle of the century.  The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is shooting for all of the state’s vehicles to meet minimum zero-emissions vehicles (ZEV) requirements by 2030. 

    California-based Tula Technology is celebrating the completion of a new round of investment led by Delphi Automotive. Tula is a supplier of a powertrain technology that integrates advanced digital signal processing with powertrain controls. Delphi’s endorsement stems from their customer demand for proven fuel economy and emissions reductions.

    The first shipment of Toyota’s Mirai fuel cell vehicle has been delivered to the UK. The early purchasers are business and corporate customers attracted to the model’s zero harmful tailpipe emissions.  Back in Detroit, General Motors is readying for the 2016 Chevy Volt to hit show rooms this fall. The EPA recently announced the electric range is 53-miles. With federal tax credits the price can be as low as $26,495.

    Michigan-based Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority (The Ride) has partnered with Allison Transmission and recently dedicated 60 new buses with the xFE transmission. The buses have demonstrated fuel economy improvements of up to 7%. And, AC Transit in Oakland, California has announced a landmark 20,000 zero emission hours on a fuel-cell bus. They operate 12 fuel-cell buses which have been driven more than 150,000 hours.

    Here’s a point of interest for anyone interested in learning more about funding opportunities for transit agencies. On Tuesday, August 25, CALSTART is hosting a webinar focusing on upcoming funding opportunities from Federal and California agencies. The webinar is free but you need to register in advance.

    Global Forces Foil Efforts to Slash Ozone in Western U.S., ClimateWire

    West Coast Initiative Aims to Drive More Fleets Toward EVs, NGT News

    CARB’s End Game? Only Zero-Emission Cars by 2030, Autoblog

    Delphi Invests in Fuel-Saving Tula Technology, PR Newswire

    First Shipment of Toyota Mirai Fuel Cell Vehicles Arrives in UK, EV Fleet World

    Chevy Volt’s Electric Range Hits 53-mile EPA Rating for 2016, The Budapest Report

    Transit Agency Debuts Buses with Allison’s xFE Transmission, NGT News

    AC Transit Fuel-Cell Bus Exceeds 20k Hours of Service, Metro

    Transit Funding Opportunities: Bridge the Money Gap, CALSTART

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  • A Powerful Pyramid Scheme

    UPS has a fleet of more than 2,500 alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles and their commitment just keeps growing. The company has just announced that they will buy up to 46 million gallons of renewable diesel over the next three years, helping them meet their target of displacing 12% of the petroleum-based fuel in its ground fleet by 2017. 

    Cummins Westport is expanding its market sphere having just introduced a dedicated natural gas (NG) engine to the school bus market.  The midrange engine, in addition to the school bus market, is a target for shuttle busses, medium-duty trucks, and vocational applications. California-based Efficient Drivetrains Inc. (EDI) is also shaking it up by introducing a NG plug-in hybrid offering in partnership with North American Repower.  EDI’s hybrid electric drivetrain system and renewable natural gas (RNG) from North American Repower are expected to achieve a 99.9% reduction in emissions for six of Sectran Security’s armored vans.

    Whether it’s NG or other alternative fuels, CALSTART’s Bill Van Amburg understands the complexity for fleets when it comes to figuring out what option will work best for them. Fleet Digest summarized a recent presentation Van Amburg made at NAFA’s annual meeting, providing a concise snapshot of key considerations.  At that same meeting NAFA and CALSTART officially announced a new Sustainable Fleet Accreditation Program. Last week NAFA announced their new Accreditation Development Committee to oversee that program. Richard Battersby with the City of Oakland and Keith Leech with the County of Sacramento are two fleet representatives and Clean Cities Coordinators appointed to serve.

    Opoli is shaking up the rideshare industry with an app that provides cost-effective solutions in Southern California. Now they’ve formed a new partnership with BYD Motors which will provide 50 of their zero-emission e6 EVs to the Opoli fleet. The e6 is a cross between a sedan and an SUV and has a range that exceeds 180 miles on a full charge. The new vehicles will be recharged and dispatched from San Diego International Airport. And, of course, when you think disruptive you think Uber. They’ve launched a pilot project in the form of an auto leasing subsidiary to help sign up more drivers. They’ve promised to provide more flexibility than traditional leasing companies.

    And now for a completely wonderful pyramid scheme. If you already own a Tesla, listen up-the company has a deal for you. They are pretty sure you like to talk about your cool car and if you suggest to others that they buy one and they do, you’ll get $1k and the buyer gets a $1k discount. If you are uber enthusiastic and get ten people to buy one, you’ll be rewarded with a free Model X

    UPS Announces It Will Buy 46 Million Gallons of Renewable Diesel, New York Times

    Cummins Westport Showcases New NatGas Engine for School Bus Market, School Transportation News

    First Armored PHEV, NG Truck Coming in 2016, Autoblog

    Alternative Fuels: Analyzing Options, Fleet Digest

    NAFA Announces Leaders to Oversee Sustainable Fleet Accreditation Program, NAFA

    New Partnership Will Bring EV Shuttles to San Diego Airport, The San Diego Union-Tribune

    Uber Launches Car Leasing Unit, Reuters

    Want a Free Tesla Model S?, The Verge

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  • Push For Clean

    What’s the correlation between autonomous vehicles and parking tickets?  The Brookings Institute is out with a new report that connects the dots and they predict financial pressures ahead for local governments. Because automated vehicles don’t speed or park illegally, revenues from parking and speeding violations are expected to plummet. Los Angeles, for example, brought in $161 million from parking violations last year. The Brookings report suggests we’ve got two decades to minimize the disruptive impacts on local governments.

    California is working on changing how transit buses are powered by requiring a switch to zero-emission buses by 2040. Of the nation’s 67,000 transit buses, one seventh operate in California. Currently 60% of those buses operate on natural gas and the California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition (CNGVC) doesn’t want to lose that traction. CNGVC is proposing an expansion of the definition of zero-emission vehicles to include renewable natural gas (RNG) which has a 90% greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction over diesel. The California Energy Commission (CEC) is doing their part to move away from fossil fuels and has just awarded $10 million for demos in disadvantaged areas. CALSTART will be working with BYD to demo their battery-electric buses in Los Angeles. Motiv was awarded funds for a battery-electric school bus project. And, Hydrogenics was funded for work on an advanced fuel-cell truck and an advanced fuel-cell bus.

    Westport continues to innovate their product offerings and their latest announcement is the introduction of a dedicated, liquid propane system for 2016 Ford F-150 trucks. The propane option is in addition to their CNG package for 2016 Ford trucks.  And the winner is…Morgan Olson. The Michigan-based company was recently notified that they have been awarded a U.S. Postal Service contract worth more than $250m for walk-in body intermediate delivery trucks. The company is expected to produce 6500 trucks.

    Wisconsin-based Odyne Systems continues to grow the market for their hybrid utility truck, which was recently named a top new product by the Wisconsin Society of Professional Engineers. Odyne’s President, Joe Dalum, expects sales to remain strong in part due to the new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules that target GHG emission reductions from trucks. The rule, announced last month, aims to increase the fuel efficiency of goods hauling trucks as well as delivery vehicles, dump trucks and buses. The proposal is in a formal public comment period and CALSTART is hosting a free webinar tomorrow where Senior Vice President Bill Van Amburg will offer an interpretation of the Phase II rules. If you are interested in learning what the rules require, and expected impacts and benefits, sign up here. And, if you want to see some of the new clean trucks in the market today, make sure to mark your calendar for the High Efficiency Truck Users Forum 2015 National Meeting and Technical Exchange. It takes place September 29-30 in Sterling Heights, MI.

    Self-Driving Cars Pose Revenue Threats to Local Governments, Route Fifty

    California’s Push For Cleaner Buses, eNCA

    CEC Funds eVehicle, Fuel Cell Projects, Fleets&Fuels

    Westport to Provide Ford F-150 with Dedicated Propane Package, Fleet Equipment

    Morgan Olson to Produce 6533 USPS Delivery Trucks, Trailer Body Builders

    Odyne Tapping Into Demand for Lower-Emission Trucks, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

    CALSTART Hosts Webinar on EPA Phase 2 Regulations, CALSTART

    HTUF 2015 Save the Date, CALSTART

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  • The Wheel Deal

    For several years the Obama administration has tackled major fuel economy improvements for all vehicle classes. The latest focal point is trucks and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently announced their new proposed fuel economy standards for medium-and heavy-duty trucks. What does it all mean? Sign up for CALSTART’s July 16th webinar which takes a look at the rules, what they require, and how to take advantage of the formal comment period on the draft rules.

    Thank you California for never failing to show us the money. Yesterday the California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved a $373 million funding plan for FY 2015-16 which covers everything from zero-emission buses to rebates for low- and zero-emission passenger vehicles. And, in a separate action, the California Energy Commission has extended the deadline for comments on its Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (approximately $100 million in funding). 

    More money news out of California this week came from Caltrans which announced $224 million in awards for transit and rail in California. CALSTART is part of one of the successful proposals that includes member companies Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA),WAVE, and BYD. And, Monterey-Salinas Transit received $10 million to expand their 37-year old facility to maintain and dispatch up to 90 buses. 

    The Massachusetts Department of Transportation took action earlier this week resulting in New Flyer of Winnipeg, Manitoba receiving a contract for the manufacture and delivery of 325 new replacement buses for the MBTA fleet. The company will deliver 40-foot hybrid and compressed natural gas (CNG) buses. And, Greenville, South Carolina-based electric bus manufacturer Proterra has announced $30 million in new equity financing, just in time for them to double their production capability. 

    Loveland, Colorado-based Lightning Hybrids is on their way toward raising $10 million in new financing. Their regenerative braking drive systems are used by bus and delivery truck fleets. Their aim is to expedite growth and continue their expansion into foreign markets.

    Talk about expediting growth, EVgo’s fast charging network has doubled in size in the past eight months. The company now has more than 350 DC fast chargers in 19 markets. They currently have chargers in LA, Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston, Chicago, and Denver and expect to add 7 more markets by the end of the year. And, ChargePoint has just introduced a new, low cost 24KW charger called the Express 100.The Express 100 can provide up to 100 miles of range for every hour of charging.

    And now for a really cool safety technology. Argentina’s got a problem with a high incidence of traffic deaths, many of which involve drivers trying to overtake trucks on two-lane roads. Samsung has a solution and in just two minutes you can see how their see through Safety Truck, using a wireless camera on the front grille connected to four displays on the rear of the truck, saves lives.

    US Revs Up To Cut Down on Truck Emissions, Slate

    EPA Phase II: Interpretation of Draft of New Regulations, CALSTART

    California’s Big Clean Vehicles Money, Fleets & Fuels

    Caltrans Backs $224M in Transit Grants, CalSTA

    Monterey-Salinas Transit Gets $10M, Monterey Herald

    MBTA Signs $222M Deal with New Flyer, Boston Business Journal

    Investors Put Another $30 Million Into Proterra, Greenville Online

    Loveland’s Lightning Hybrids Seeks $10 Million Investment, Reporter-Herald

    EVgo’s Fast Charging Network Doubled in Size in 8 Months, Charged

    ChargePoint Announces Express 100 Station for EVs, NGT News

    Samsung Safety Truck, RT.com

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  • Transport Evolving

    The commercial energy storage market just keeps getting more interesting with companies like Tesla getting into it. This week General Motors announced that they are repurposing Chevrolet Volt batteries to help power a data center that is part of its testing facility at their Milford Proving Ground. One GM expert said after the battery has reached the end of its useful life in the Volt, up to 80% of its storage capacity remains.

    GM isn’t the only company breaking new ground. Globally there’s been a steady growth in the number of cities welcoming all-electric buses on their roads. Volvo has entered a collaborative project in Gothenburg, Sweden allowing them to introduce three all-electric buses to Gothenburg’s Route 55, offering full zero-emission capability. Closer to home, Monterey-Salinas Transit now has a zero-emission vehicle in the form of a former gas-powered trolley. With the help of Complete Coach Works it now has an electric engine and is powered through magnetic induction technology. The transit agency is the first in the nation to use this innovative wireless power transfer.

    The proof is in-cleaner trucks do make a difference in decreasing engine emissions. A UC Berkeley scientist, Dr. Robert Harley, has concluded that mandatory upgrades to diesel truck fleets that serve the Port of Oakland resulted in significant reductions in two major air pollutants.  Dr. Harley will elaborate on his findings tomorrow at a seminar and webcast open to the public.

    Honda announced this week that they will discontinue sales of its Civic GX natural gas-powered vehicle which has been in the U.S. since 1998. The natural gas and hybrid versions of the Civic will be replaced by a new generation of turbo-powered gasoline engines that will get about 40 MPG. Natural gas enthusiasts have until July 17 to submit nominees for the 23rd Annual NGV Achievement Awards which will be presented in Denver at the NGVAmerica annual meeting September 15-17.

    And now for the show me the money portion of NewsNotes. First up is the U.S. Department of Agriculture which aims to boost infrastructure for renewable fuel use.  The USDA has up to $100 million in competitive grants for state-led efforts to “…support the infrastructure needed to make more renewable fuel options available to American consumers.”  Next up, the Chicago Department of Transportation in partnership with CALSTART has announced a new program focused on getting taxi and other public-passenger fleets to purchase or lease electric or natural gas vehicles. Approved vendors will be able to offer vouchers of up to $10,000 per qualified vehicle. Applications are now being accepted. 

    And finally, Drive Oregon is hosting a leading electric vehicle conference called EV Roadmap 8, taking place in Portland at the end of July. CALSTART members are invited to register using the code “CALSTART” to save $50.

    GM and Nissan Reusing Old Electric Car Batteries, The New York Times

    Electric Bus Route 55 Launched in Gothenburg, Sweden, Mass Transit

    Cord Cut on Salinas-Monterey Wireless Electric Trolley, KSBW.com

    Study Finds Truck Fleet Clean-up Decreases Port of Oakland Emissions, Green Car Congress

    Honda Discontinues Civic Natural Gas, WardsAuto

    NGVAmerica Seeks Award Nominations, Fleets & Fuels

    USDA to Invest Up to $100 Million in Renewable Fuels Infrastructure, USDA

    Chicago Launches Voucher Program to Spur Adoption of Alt-Fuel Taxis, NGTNews

    Drive Clean Chicago

    EV Roadmap 8, Drive Oregon

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  • Embracing the Weird

    The Department of Energy (DOE) and the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) are now partnering in hopes of increasing the production of plug-in electric vehicles. The partnership brings utilities into DOE’s EV Everywhere Grand Challenge, and will help them access their considerable R&D resources.  Last week, San Diego Gas & Electric signed an agreement with automakers, EV service providers, public interest environmental groups and labor unions in support of the utility’s Vehicle Grid-Integration pilot project. The aim is to make electricity a low cost fuel to spur the adoption of the clean vehicles. The pilot includes the installation of 550 charging stations in their service area. 

    Kudos to AC Transit for achieving more than 19,000 hours of operation in their twelve fuel cell transit buses, exceeding industry durability and reliability expectations by two years. Funding for this project was provided by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) as part of their National Fuel Cell Bus Program (NFCBP) and is administered by CALSTART. US Hybrid is providing technical support to maintain the fuel cell bus fleet. Ballard Power Systems has inked a $10 million clean energy bus deal in China. Their fuel cell technology will support the deployment of 33 fuel cell-powered buses. They are partnering with municipal governments in Guangdong province and in Jiangsu province to deploy the fuel cell bus fleets by 2016.

    Battery bus manufacturer Proterra has also set four records in FTA testing trials in Altoona, PA. The bus has set an efficiency performance record of a miles-per-gallon electric rating of 22 compared to 3.86 for conventional diesel buses. Orange EV has news of an electric kind, too. The company converts existing diesel-powered terminal trucks to pure electric and they are pleased to announce their first official sale of its T-Series all-electric terminal trucks. This sale is for off-road hauling and in February they announced the availability of trucks designed for on-road use.

    Good things come in threes and this morning there are three states with three new funding opportunities. The ALT Fuels Colorado vehicle grant application has been released and is designed to incentivize the purchase or lease of new OEM class 2-8 CNG, LPG, EV and CNG bi-fuel vehicles. Oklahoma is focused on natural gas where Governor Fallin has approved legislation to allow interest-free loans to county governments that purchase NGVs or convert fleet vehicles to natural gas. And, this week Utah’s Governor signed a bill that will provide an income tax credit to those who purchase an HD NGV. A second approved bill will create a grant program for converting vehicles to run on alternative fuels.

    And now, for one final pick-me-up, there’s a new opera that debuted in Milan, Italy in May called CO2. The inspiration for the environmental opera was none other than Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. The opera comes complete with a fictional climatologist and Greek mythology. As the Grist writer suggests, the included trailer embraces the weird.

    Feds, Electricity Utilities to Focus on PHEVs, The Hill

    SDG&E Vehicle Grid Pilot Wins Wide Support, Environment News Service

    Fuel Cell Shows Dramatic Design Improvements for Transit Buses, CALSTART

    Ballard Gets Blast-Off Bus Pact With China, 24/7 Wall Street

    Proterra Sets Records in Altoona Trials, Fleets & Fuels

    Orange EV Touts Initial Sales of Its All-Electric Terminal Trucks, NGT News

    ALT Fuels Colorado, Clean Air Fleets

    Oklahoma Governor Signs NGV Conversion Bill, TruckingInfo

    Governor Signs Bills for AFVs, KSL.com

    Al Gore Inspired an Opera on Climate Change, Grist

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  • Heavy-Duty Winds A Blowin'

    The news broke over the weekend that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) long anticipated proposed regulations to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from medium- to heavy-duty trucks is expected this week or next. CALSTART is actively working with stakeholders and fleets to provide feedback to EPA and NHTSA to craft the most effective rule possible. In addition, CALSTART will be releasing its preliminary findings from a fleet benefits report that shows that the anticipated fuel economy required by these rules can demonstrate a positive payback to end-users. CALSTART will host a webinar on the proposed draft Phase II rules on Tuesday, June 30 that will include discussions from industry experts on how these regulations affect industry. 

    In the meantime, trucks just keep getting better. New York-based Plug Power has announced an expansion contract with Walmart, which has added 124 GenDrive fuel cells at its distribution center in Alberta, Canada. In the US, Plug Power has deployed more than 1800 units with Walmart since 2007. US Hybrid received good news recently, too.  The Department of Energy has awarded them funding for their fuel cell-battery electric hybrid for utility or municipal medium-duty (MD) or heavy-duty (HD) bucket trucks.

    Fleets & Fuels reports that Parker Hannifin is on track to enter production early next year of their third-generation series hydraulic hybrid drivetrain for MD and HD trucks. The trucks, in testing, are seeing more than 43% fuel savings. And, TransPower and Sacramento County have formed a partnership to demo two battery-electric HD refuse trucks to see how they stack up to diesel and natural gas vehicles. Enthused fleet manager/Clean Cities Coordinator, Keith Leech, anticipates cost savings and environmental advantages.

    Ford is doing its part to accelerate the market for electric vehicles (EVs) by announcing that competing OEMs can have access to more than 650 electrification-related patents in their portfolio. And, Route Fifty reports that California is likely to see the largest upcoming plug-in vehicle growth and that utilities have played a major role in making that happen.

    Kudos to Chicago Clean Cities for working with member fleets to displace more than 25 million gallons of petroleum and 240,000 tons of GHG emissions. Coordinator Sam Bingham said that’s akin to removing 3,150 tanker trucks’ worth of gasoline. Neighboring South Shore Clean Cities has announced that they are managing the Rockport/Spencer County (Indiana) Diesel Emission Reductions Grant Opportunity. The program provides up to $440,000 through a competitive grant process.

    CarbonBLU (a company that helps fleets analyze and explore optimization options) has announced the new California Energy Commission (CEC) funded Center for Alternative Fuels. On June 16th everyone is welcome to participate in a webinar focused on the market outlook as well as engagement opportunities.

    EPA Proposal Will Put Bigger Truck on a Fuel Diet, New York Times

    Walmart Adds 124 Plug Power Fuel Cells, Times Union

    US Hybrid Receives DOE Funding, Green Car Congress

    Parker Readies 3-Gen Hydraulic Hybrid, Fleets & Fuels

    Sacramento County to Demo Electric Refuse Truck, Truckinginfo

    Ford Opens Up Its EV Patents, Charged EVs

    Here’s Where EV Use is Growing, Route Fifty

    Chicago Clean Cities Success Story, Daily Herald

    Rockport/Spencer County Grant Opportunity, South Shore Clean Cities

    carbonBLU to Host Sustainability Forum, carbonBLU

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  • EV Mecca

    The pathway to low carbon transport is a focal point of the International Transport Forum taking place today in Leipzig, Germany. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has placed urgency on the challenge of world leaders finding clean transportation solutions to combat the impacts of climate change. Unless patterns shift, carbon dioxide emissions from transportation are expected to rise by 70% between 2010 and 2050. A group of nongovernmental organizations is tackling emissions reductions by aiming to recruit 100 companies to hit targets recommended by scientists to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius. The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) lists NRG Energy as one of very few global companies already employing science-based GHG reduction goals.

    With tougher emissions standards looming, many school districts throughout the country are turning to propane autogas to fuel their buses. Of the top 25 school bus markets, 19 have propane-fueled vehicles in their fleets including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami. And Recently, Boston Public Schools committed to the purchase of 86 autogas buses citing compliance with city mandates to reduce tailpipe emissions

    New Flyer has announced that their Xcelsior XE35 and XE40 battery electric buses are now eligible for the California Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP). HVIP is administered and implemented by the California Air Resources Board through a partnership with CALSTART. The base HVIP voucher for New Flyer’s eligible transit buses is $95,000 per bus. Motiv Power Systems makes electric bus and truck control systems and they’ve recently received $8.1 million from the California Energy Commission to expand their manufacturing operations. With their Hayward, CA factory officially opening today, they are moving from the demo project stage into full commercialization.

    Money talks and Tennessee is talking. The state has announced a rebate program for qualifying electric vehicles. Tennessee will rebate $2,500 on zero emission battery electric vehicles and $1,500 on plug-in hybrid electric vehicles that meet certain conditions. The program goes into effect for purchases after June 15. What Tennessee and other states are doing to grow EV purchasing, Kansas City and several other utilities are doing to make the infrastructure side work. Kansas City Power & Light (KCP&L) earlier this year launched their Clean Charge Network with the goal of installing 1,000 public charging stations. If all goes well it will propel EV sales and that translates to the sale of more kilowatt-hours of electricity for KCP&L.

    When you think of the most cycling-friendly cities in the U.S. you’ll be forgiven for incorrectly assuming that Portland and San Francisco made the top 10. Iowa City, Iowa and State College, Pennsylvania, though, managed to rank right up there. Check it out for more surprises. Many cities are doing bold things to encourage more cycling and walking and Seoul’s latest ambition is a mega-idea. What do you do when a 3000-foot highway is no longer safe for heavy traffic? How about turning it into a tree-covered pedestrian path for the more than 20-million residents of the mega-city? The Skygarden is part of Seoul’s vision to make car ownership unnecessary by 2030 and give their citizens a pleasing green mobility option.

    Growing Focus on Making Transport Greener, DW

    Companies Urged to Set Emissions Targets, Bloomberg

    Schools Turn to Propane Buses, New York Times

    Boston School District Buys Slew of Propane Buses, NGT News

    New Flyer’s E-Buses Eligible for HVIP, Mass Transit

    Motiv Power Gets Funding for EV Systems, Bloomberg Business

    Tennessee Offers EV Rebate Programs, Wate.com

    Kansas City Bids to Become EV Mecca, Automotive News

    What’s the Most Bike Friendly City in the US?, Grist

    Innovating a Massive Pedestrian Path in Seoul, Fast Company

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  • Pacesetters

    California Governor Jerry Brown continues to be a pacesetter in fighting climate change and this week he signed onto a pact between 12 regions in seven countries binding each to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) drastically. The agreement is in line with Brown’s recent executive order to reduce GHG emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. The International Monetary Fund has a new paper showing the global economy is suffering due to fuel subsidies which now equal $5.3 trillion. The Economist correlates health and environmental damage with the lion’s share of the subsidies going to highly polluting coal.

    Georgia’s electric vehicle (EV) owners are mad enough that they are contemplating a class-action suit against the state which recently eliminated a $5k EV tax credit and requires EV owners to pay a $200 annual road-use fee. That can’t be good for EV sales and enthusiasts see the moves as discrimination against EVs. Meanwhile, Connecticut has announced a new EV incentive program that will give a cash rebate of up to $3k to people who buy an electric car. Dealers will benefit, too, from selling EVs and fuel cell vehicles. $1 million has been set aside for the program.

    On the heavier side Charged EVs is casting a spotlight on Silicon Valley-based Efficient Drivetrains, Inc. PG&E is one of their happy customers having taken ownership of a new plug-in hybrid Class 5 Ford F-550 bucket truck with 20 more orders in the pipeline. CEO Joerg Ferchau commented that their plug-ins are full EVs and only use the engine when the battery energy is low. Another California company, Transpower, has been testing EV technologies for heavy-duty, Class 8 trucks and the results are in. In independent testing the company found that total life-cycle savings could exceed $700,000. For fleets focused on forklifts, there’s a new blog from C2E dedicated to industry experts explaining the benefits of battery power from fuel cost savings to carbon emissions reductions.

    Cummins Westport is doing some testing of their own and their focus is a spark-ignited natural gas engine that is capable of producing near zero NOx. Testing will be in the ISL G engine for transit and refuse OEMs. Their technology will meet the 2017 EPA GHG emission requirements. 

    Yellowstone National Park continues to demonstrate its clean energy leadership. They are using nickel-metal hydride battery packs from a used 2008 Toyota Camry to store electricity generated from solar panels. The partnership includes Toyota and several others who are working to extend the useful life of hybrid vehicle batteries.

    Also working to make the world a better place is CALSTART’s Steve Sokolsky, the mastermind behind tomorrow’s Southern California Green Airport Fleets Workshop. This event brings together major California airports to look at technology and funding options to meet their environmental and energy challenges. Attendees include airport staff, clean transportation technology vendors, and government agency representatives. You are invited too. Register here.

    California’s Brown Signs International Climate Change Pact, Los Angeles Times

    A Costly Mistake, The Economist

    Lawsuit Considered Over Controversial EV Fee, NeighborNewspapers.com

    Connecticut Offers Cash To Buyers, Sellers of EVs, Courant

    EDI Delivers Extended Range EV Drivetrains, Charged EVs

    Transpower Tests HD Electric Tech, GoBYTruck

    Convert To Electric Blog

    Cummins Westport Tests Near Zero NOx Natural Gas Engine, Work Truck

    Hybrid Car Batteries Find New Life at US National Park, Environmental News Service

    Southern California Green Airports Fleets Conference, CALSTART

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  • Disruptive Autonomy

    The state of Minnesota aims to get more businesses to offer charging locations for their employees who drive electric vehicles (EVs) and 3M has saluted. To date they have 44 charging spots throughout their campus. So far the state has 200 public charging stations. Tesla’s thinking about vehicle charging too but their sites are set on how to modify their EVs to meet China’s charging standards. China has said they won’t support the construction of stations that don’t meet their standard.  

    With growing interest in the Chinese market there’s a need to understand how to protect intellectual property. That’s the focus of a meeting on May 21 put on by the UC Irvine School of Law and includes everything from protecting trade secrets to anticipating future challenges.

    Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) manufacturer Efficient Drivetrains has China on the brain. The company has announced a new full-size Chinese SUV that can be turned into a PHEV with an all-electric range of 31 miles. CEO George Ferchau believes that the combination of a growing Chinese market and air quality challenges equals a lot of potential demand in this segment. 

    There are many examples of how transportation is being transformed before our very eyes and that has caught the attention of transit agencies. The American Public Transit Association’s 2014 report on millennials (ages 18-34) looked at what will drive those choices as their generation shifts away from driving cars. Key to attracting the cost and convenience motivated generation is investment in transit networks. No doubt some transit agencies are also focusing on the Uberization of transit. Boston-based Bridj has jumped into the fray as they create dynamic bus routes to transport riders. Boston fares run $3-$5 and they’ve recently expanded to Washington DC with a flat fare of $5.

    The next prognostication about what will be comes from TedTalkster, entrepreneur and futurist Zack Kanter. He offers provocative suggestions about why he thinks the autonomous vehicle movement is a disruptive innovation with the power to reshape the economy in just ten years. Kanter opines, “Autonomous cars will be commonplace by 2025 and have a near monopoly by 2030, and the sweeping change they bring will eclipse every other innovation our society has experienced.”

    Funding and regulation has transformative powers and you can hear all about it on Tuesday, May 19 at a free CALSTART webinar called California Incentive and Clean Transportation Policy Update. And while you are making calendar entries, May 27 is the grand opening of Motiv Power System’s all-electric powertrain manufacturing facility. Everyone’s invited to come to Hayward, CA for the occasion and you can register here. 

    Finally, if working for CALSTART is on your bucket list you must check out the newest job opening for Associate Project Managers. Applications are now being accepted!

    MN Agency Aims to Expand Workplace EV Charging, Midwest Energy News

    Tesla Pledges to Meet China Charging Standards, The Wall Street Journal

    What You Must Know to Protect Your Intellectual Property in China, District Export Council

    EDI Announces Availability of its New Energy PHEV SUV, Business Wire

    How Transit Agencies Are Trying to Attract Millennial Riders, Progressive Railroading

    Bridj, the Uber of Bus Transit Expands to Second Market, Autoblog

    How Uber’s Autonomous Cars Will Destroy 10 Million Jobs and Reshape the Economy by 2025, CBS

    California Incentive and Clean Transportation Policy Update, CALSTART

    Motiv Power System’s Grand Opening Celebration, Eventbrite 

    CALSTART Associate Project Managers

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  • Mobility Utility

    Dallas is the epicenter of all things related to clean, efficient vehicles this week complete with a plethora of industry announcements.  First up is a partnership between UPS and Clean Energy that will make the delivery giant the largest commercial truck user of renewable natural gas (RNG). UPS has 2500 medium- and heavy-duty trucks that run on natural gas. Agility Fuel Systems and Cummins are doing their part to advance the natural gas (NG) industry, too. Agility designs and produces NG fuel storage and delivery systems for trucks and buses. Cummins provides diesel and NG engines. Together they aim to grow the NG market and improve the NG vehicle user experience.

    Westport Innovations has also announced they are offering the 2016 F-150 as a dedicated or bi-fuel CNG Westport WiNG Power System vehicle. The vehicle was unveiled at the ACT Expo in Dallas and is expected to be available for order this summer. XL Hybrids announced this week that their XL3 Hybrid Electric Drive System has been adapted for the Ford Transit van, the first hybrid electric transit van for the North American market. Their news doesn’t stop there. The company has also announced the achievement of 10 million road miles have been collectively driven in service, delivery and passenger fleets.

    Wrightspeed keeps on innovating, too. The company produces electric powertrains for heavy-duty vehicles (think garbage trucks) and their new cutting edge design is a micro-turbine range extender that is 30% more efficient than any existing turbine powered generator, according to the company. 

    For those wondering about the timeline for ordering and delivering Toyota’s new hydrogen fuel-cell electric car, the Mirai, the details have arrived. Californians are able to place orders for the $58,000 vehicles this summer and they will arrive in eight dealerships in the Golden State beginning in October. The Toyota-Tesla sparring continues as the Globe and Mail picks up on Toyota’s new tongue-in-cheek marketing campaign about what the Mirai runs on. Massachusetts based Nuvera is the provider of the hydrogen.

    In Washington, DC, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has sent their proposal for ethanol and biodiesel blending requirements for fuel refiners for 2014, 2015 and 2016 to the White House Office of Management and Budget. This is the final step before the proposals can be released for public comment. The final mandates are expected by November. EPA is also out with a new funding announcement. $13.5 million is available in grant funding to help governments and nonprofits switch to cleaner diesel engines. Priority is given to fleets operating at goods-movement facilities in designated poor air quality areas. Funding and technology option are the focal points for CALSTART's upcoming Southern California Green Airport Fleets Workshop. On May 21 California airports and their stakeholders will gather for a hands-on learning event to adress the environmental and energy challenges faced by airports. Register here.

    Who wouldn’t want to drive around in a bright orange zero pollution AIRPod? Shark Tank is the most recent supporter of the concept of an air-powered car as the show awarded Zero Pollution Motors with a $5 million investment. The company anticipates having its first vehicles available later this year with Hawaii slated as the first site for a factory. I was going to close out here with a story about mobility utility where there’s a startup in Germany involving old people, bikes and vegetables (or anything else you want to order). The company encourages people to reduce emissions by shopping locally and to do that they retain seniors to pedal to local stores to fulfill online orders and then deliver the products to the local purchaser. Then, after reading the article I was sucked into the Grist line “Donate and Win a Climate Change Survival Kit.” The pithy writers ask if I’m ready for a climate apocalypse, then they enticingly offer these goodies to the winners: “You too can be prepared. Drought? You’ve now got water. Snowed in with frozen plumbing? You’ll appreciate the ¬snap-on toilet seat! All of this plus my personal pick – a classic harmonica so you can be that broody survivor type!”  Whew, fingers crossed.

    UPS Fleet Expanding RNG Use, Fleet Owner

    Cummins and Agility Partner, STN

    Ford to Launch 2016 F-150 With Westport WiNG Power System, Bidness Etc

    XL Hybrids Celebrates 10 Million Miles, Fleet Owner

    Wrightspeed Introduces New Fulcrum Turbine Generator, Charged EVs

    2016 Toyota Mirai Launching in October, Autoblog

    Toyota, Tesla Face Off in Battle Over Future Technologies, Globe and Mail

    EPA Sends Ethanol Proposals for Final Review, The Hill

    $13.5 Million in EPA Clean Diesel Grant Funding Available, Green Car Congress

    Southern California Green Airport Fleets Workshop, CALSTART

    Air Powered Car Receives $5 Million on TV Show Shark Tank, Autoblog

    German Elders Deliver Local Veggies, Grist

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  • Fueled By Everything

    UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Pope Francis are on the same page. Ban told Vatican officials earlier this week that the world will benefit from the Pope’s leadership on the issue where he’s expected to declare a fight against climate change as a “moral imperative.” California’s Governor Brown is in Los Angeles this morning addressing a conference on climate policy. In advance of that he has issued a new greenhouse gas reduction target for the state which he called the most aggressive of any government in North America. The target is for a 40% reduction below 1990 levels by 2030.

    Eco-conscious Long Beach Transit is in with that and this past Monday they awarded an almost $12 million contract to Los Angeles-based BYD Motors to manufacture 10 battery-powered electric buses and charging systems. Transit officials say the zero-emission buses will be the “cleanest bus we have offered to date.” Batteries have been top of mind for Tesla’s Elon Musk, too, and he’s expected to unveil new residential and utility-scale batteries this week. Calling it “the missing piece” the company has already installed systems in 300 solar homes as well as 11 Walmart stores.

    The ever-growing Loveland, Colorado-based Lightning Hybrids now has an office in the United Kingdom. The manufacturer of emissions-reducing, fuel-efficient hydraulic hybrid motor systems for buses and trucks says this is a strategic move to take advantage of higher fuel prices overseas. The City of Orlando is heading toward green with a goal of cleaning up its entire solid waste fleet within two years. Thanks to Parker Hannifin they have nine hydraulic hybrid refuse trucks in their fleet, expected to save $10,000 per truck in annual fuel savings.

    The industry keeps innovating and Volvo Group Venture Capital has invested in Peloton Technology, developer of a truck platooning system. Volvo Group’s Susan Alt recently presented a video showing a car driver reading a newspaper behind the wheel as the car automatically kept itself in line in a platoon behind a Volvo truck being driven by a professional driver. Chevy has also unveiled a stylish self-driving car called the FNR. GM’s Cadillac brand has shown autonomous driving capability and says the system will be available as an option as early as its 2017 model.  

    This last story is not my fault. No fewer than three people sent this to me, complete with a chuckle. By way of background, Tesla’s Elon Musk has consistently and adamantly pooh-poohed fuel cell vehicles (FCV’s) saying they are a marketing gimmick. It turns out that Toyota’s ambitions in bringing their FCV Mirai to market compelled them to take on Musk by showing that perhaps the Mirai can be fueled by everything. Let me just say that this is a little delightfully daring.

    UN Chief: Climate Fight a ‘moral imperative,’ The Hill

    Jerry Brown Issues More Ambitious Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets, Sacramento Bee

    Long Beach Transit Picks BYD Motors for Electric Bus Contract, Los Angeles Times

    Tesla Batteries Already Powering Walmart, Charged EV

    Lightning Hybrids Expands to UK, Denver Business Journal

    City of Orlando Gains Nine Hybrid Refuse Trucks, Government Fleet

    Volvo Invests in Platooning Technology, TruckingInfo

    Chevrolet Unveils Futuristic Self-Driving Concept Car, EV World

    Fueled By Everything, Presented by Toyota Mirai, YouTube

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  • Pollution-Free Revolution

    “Is commercial trucking about to get its own version of the LEED treatment?” asks GreenBiz. Yep, and that was the big announcement last week at the NAFA I&E as actionable items were laid out to engage fleet managers in reducing average fleet emissions, increasing fuel efficiency, and reducing fuel use per vehicle. The new sustainability accreditation program was announced by NAFA in conjunction with CALSTART. The standard is flexible and can be applied to fleets of all sizes and types.

    Bloomberg has a good feeling news story highlighting such gems as oil demand has flatlined for a decade; fuel efficiency has decreased gasoline demand; EV sales have quintupled in four years; and fuel-cell vehicles are moving into the market. The consensus from analysts at Bloomberg New Energy Finance is that we’re in an age of competition and a pollution-free revolution is underway.

    Lightning Hybrids is playing a part in the revolution as their new testing results on their hydraulic hybrid drive systems demonstrate significant reductions in NOx and fuel economy improvements up to 18%. Their fleet vehicles include shuttle buses, delivery vehicles and work trucks. XL Hybrids’ fuel-efficient powertrain has won over two new fleet purchasers. Watkins Heating & Cooling in Springboro, Ohio, and Montgomery County, Maryland are the owners of the XL3 Hybrid Electric Drive System. Montgomery County converted 10 Ford cargo vans and realizing a 25% increase in MPG.

    Many cities in Europe are trying out battery-electric buses and Amsterdam is all in. The city has announced that their entire fleet will be all electric by 2025. China’s growing demand for clean energy has resulted in new business for Ballard Power Systems, a developer of hydrogen fuel cells. They’ve received an order for fuel cells which will power eights buses in Chinese cities. Fuel cell enthusiasts and innovators are invited to take up the H2 Refuel H-Prize challenge which comes with a $1 million award. The challenge is to deploy an on-site hydrogen generation system using electricity or natural gas, to fuel hydrogen vehicles. The registration deadline is October 22nd. 

    Speaking of winners, just in time for Earth Day, Kelley Blue Book has released its 10 Best Green Cars list. Kudos to CALSTART members Toyota (for both the Prius and the Camry Hybrid), Tesla (Model S), General Motors (Volt) and Ford (C-Max Hybrid) for making the list. There are a lot of Earth Day celebrations taking place today (like many transit agencies offering free rides) but in Scotland where it is election season, a leading scientist called the political debate around climate change trivial. He wins my quote of the day. Sir Brian Hoskins opined, “It’s like the Titanic sailing into waters with icebergs, and yet what we hear is debate in the bar about who is going to buy the drinks.”

    LEED For Fleets? New Standard to Rev Up Greener Commercial Vehicles, GreenBiz

    Big Oil is About to Lose Control of the Auto Industry, Bloomberg

    Lightning Hybrids Delivers Significant NOx Reductions, Green Car Congress

    XL Hybrids Names Two More Fleets, Fleets & Fuels

    Amsterdam to Electrify Its Entire Bus Fleet, Charged EVs

    Ballard To Bring Hydrogen Fuel Celsl to China, Hydrogen Fuel News

    The 2014-2016 H-Prize Competition, H2refuel

    Green Cars Gain Momentum with American Drivers, Money Watch

    Climate Debate at Trivial Level, The Herald

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  • Zero-Emissions Heart

    Fleet managers from the U.S. and Canada are assembled in Orlando, FL this week for the annual National Association of Fleet Administrators (NAFA) conference where a new fleet sustainability program has been launched. NAFA, in conjunction with CALSTART, introduced the new Sustainable Fleet Standard Program which established a framework for fleets to move toward and continue to grow their green fleets.

    With the demand for public transit increasing and the bus technology options expanding, what’s a fleet manager to do? Seeking Alpha provides an overview of the options showing a promising future for both electric and fuel cell technologies going forward, and observing that Plug Power’s fuel cell systems should position them to be a major player in this arena.

    Fleets like FedEx continue to raise the bar through their early adoption of new technologies. Last week U.S. Congressman Steve Cohen joined FedEx team members to test drive the world’s first zero-emission, hydrogen fuel cell ground equipment. The delivery company partnered with PlugPower and the U.S. Department of Energy to create 15 hydrogen fuel-cell tractors and a hydrogen fueling station.

    Another fleet paving the way is Metro Transit in Minneapolis which is exploring adding electric buses to its fleet. Toward that end, in May BYD and Proterra will bring their buses to the Twin Cities to show elected officials and the general public how they feel to ride in. Proterra is likely to be showing off many more buses in the near future as they are the recipients of a $3 million grant from the California Energy Commission (CEC). They will build a new state-of-the-art zero-emission, battery-electric transit bus manufacturing plant in California.

    “For decades, hydrogen has been the Dracula of automotive fuels: Just when you think a stake has been driven through its zero-emissions heart, the technology rises from the grave.” Thank you for that, New York Times, as well as for the analysis of why hydrogen cars are back. The well documented analysis, of course includes the not to be deterred Toyota, which will offer its $58,325 Mirai fuel cell compact this year. Toyota says they have reduced the Mirai’s fuel cell cost by 95% compared with its previous generation car.

    Joerg Ferchau with Efficient Drivetrains, Inc. (EDI) is watching the Asian market demonstrate huge explosive growth and that’s why his company has announced the availability of an affordable, full-size Chinese plug-in hybrid electric SUV for the area. The zero-emissions hybrid and electric drivetrain solutions provider aims to obtain more certifications in key geographies in Asia. Globally more than 700,000 plug-in vehicles were sold by the end of last year and a big driver is the drop in the cost of batteries.  A recent report found that battery pack costs for EVs declined by 14% annually between 2007 and 2014 meaning leading manufacturers have already reached the price that will give them cost parity with conventional vehicles.

    Of course there are significant markets out there for all kinds of alternative fuels and advanced technologies. Southern California Gas is particularly interested in reaching out to fleet operators to show them the many advantages of converting their trucks to natural gas. Toward that end the company has announced a series of five workshops between May and October to address local and state funding, product availability, and infrastructure location, availability and cost.

    NAFA Pioneering Fleet Sustainability Program, CALSTART

    Electric Buses vs. Fuel Cell Buses, Seeking Alpha

    Congressman Cohen Test Drives Zero Emission Hydrogen Tractors, Memphis Business Journal

    Metro Transit to Test Drive Electric Buses, Star Tribune

    CEC Awards $3 Million to Proterra, Area Development

    Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars Return for Another Run, The New York Times

    EDI Announces PHEV SUV for Asian Market, Digital Journal

    Electric Car Batteries Just Hit a Key Price Point, Climate Progress

    Natural Gas Trucking Workshops, Fleets & Fuels

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