• 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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  • Autopia

    Disruptive innovation is shaking up the transportation industry and Uber is a ubiquitous example. A new report is out showing that in a few cities, ride-hailing service Uber tops taxi rides as the ground transportation of choice for business travelers. And talk about disruption, in Columbus, Ohio, some cab drivers have figured out a way to drive their cabs AND be licensed to drive for Uber. In San Francisco, two start-up  companies are offering a high end alternative to public transit. One of them, Leap Transit, carts passengers in style offering leather seats, Wi-Fi, food and drink, all for a $6 fare.  The other company, Chariot, charges $5. City transportation officials acknowledge their own inability to meet the demand.

    Tesla continues to seemingly make news on a daily basis. The company has just announced their new Model S 70D which is an AWD electric sedan and has a 70-kilowatt-hour battery. While the $75,000 price tag may seem like a vehicle only the wealthy can afford, the Tesla team points out that the cost of ownership is much cheaper when you factor in the fuel savings and incentives compared to an internal combustion engine. A new peer-reviewed study further corroborates that by saying the battery packs used by Tesla and Nissan cost as little as $300 per kilowatt-hour of energy in 2014 and are on track to reach $230 per kilowatt-hour in 2018. The cost is falling 8% per year.

    UPS continues to grow their alternative fuel fleet by investing in 1400 CNG trucks and 15 fueling stations. The purchase will include 800 tractors and 600 package cars. The majority of the tractors will be provided by Kenworth and the package cars will be built by Freightliner with Morgan Olson bodies. Fleet operators in Georgia looking to switch to natural gas should check out a series of events that will provide information on how to take advantage of state CNG/LNG tax credits.

    This is fun. Yale is out with an interactive mapping tool called Yale Climate Opinion Maps. The state and local surveys allows users to see the geographic diversity of public opinion on climate change. You can search by State, Congressional District, or County and find out level of policy support, risk perceptions and beliefs.

    Business Travelers are Bypassing the Taxi Queue, Opting for Uber, ABC News 

    Ohio Taxi Drivers Finding Ways to Work for Uber, Too, Autoblog

    Start-Ups Offer Bay Area Travelers Alternative to Transit, Los Angeles Times

    Tesla Boosts Range on Base Model S, PC

    Inexpensive Electric Cars May Arrive Sooner Than You Think, MIT Technology Review

    1,400 CNG Trucks for UPS, 15 CNG Stations, Fleets & Fuels

    AFS Hosting Events to Promote Georgia Tax Credits, NGT News

    Climate Change Communication, Environment Yale

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  • Mapping Pac-Man

    Yesterday was the informal deadline for countries to submit their climate commitments to the post-2020 UN’s climate agreement where talks will be held in Paris at the end of the year. President Obama used the occasion to convey that the U.S. is serious about international climate commitments by targeting emissions reductions of 26-28% by 2025. Part of the strategy involves increasing the fuel economy of vehicles and earlier this week EPA’s Gina McCarthy said the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has started an expedited review of the second round of efficiency rules for the medium- and heavy-duty truck and bus sector. This is the final step before it will be released for public comment.

    How does a 50% fuel-efficiency gain on Freightliner’s SuperTruck sound? The truck was 5-years in the development stage and resulted from an ambitious Department of Energy (DOE) challenge. The writer of the story observed “Inside, the thing looks like some kind of IKEA-designed powerboat. Until you turn the lights to “blue mode” and make it look like a space-age nightclub refrigerator.” 

    Peterbilt recently announced that they are offering their Model 579 in liquefied natural gas (LNG) configurations and Raven Transport has responded by adding 115 LNG trucks to its fleet. Fleet Equipment Magazine quotes from CALSTART’s Heavy-duty Truck and Bus Natural Gas Vehicle Technology Roadmap that natural gas supply and a favorable price point are motivators for truck OEMs to offer natural gas options. Cummins and Cummins Westport engines, as well as Kenworth and Volvo are among companies with the latest offerings. 

    Everyone loves a winner and there are three worth showcasing today. Up first is Achates Power, the developer of “radically improved” internal combustion engines. The company received a $14 million award to support the work of the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC). Cummins is their partner on the project which is called the Single Cylinder Advanced Combat Engine Technology Demonstrator. The next winners are Hydrogenics and Siemens. The California Energy Commission (CEC) has awarded $4 million for fuel cell demonstration projects for drayage trucks and for buses. And lastly, ITM Power has gained some pounds (US $4.3M) from the UK Hydrogen Refueling Stations Infrastructure Grants Scheme. The money will be used to build two new stations in London, and the upgrade of four existing ITM stations.

    Stop what you are doing. Right now you can play Pac-Man on Google Maps. All you have to do is go to Google Maps, find somewhere with a lot of roads and click the Pac-Man icon on the bottom left. Voila-an arcade game on your screen in honor of April Fool’s Day. You’re welcome.

    Obama’s Strategy on Climate Change, The New York Times

    White House Reviews Truck Efficiency Rules, The Hill

    Freightliner SuperTruck More than Doubles Average MPG, Jalopnik

    Raven Transport Adding 115 More LNG Trucks, NGT News

    Heavy-Duty NG Vehicle Roadmap, CALSTART

    The Latest in OE Natural Gas Offerings, Fleet Equipment

    Achates Power Awarded $14 Million, Benzinga

    Hydrogenics Awarded $4.4 Million, StreetInsider

    ITM Wins Fuel Station Order, The Star

    Pac-Man: For April Fools Play Google Maps, The Washington Post

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  • 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

    Full story

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