• Capture the Rapture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Workplace Charging Webinar, CALSTART

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

    NACCO Buys Fuel Cell Provider, MM&D

    UQM Granted Patent for Vehicle Motor Design, The Auto Channel

    Kinetics Hybrid System Qualifies for Chicago Voucher Program, NGTNews

    Odyne Approved for Chicago Voucher Program, PR.com

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

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

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  • Ruffing It

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

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

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

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

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

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

    2016 Chevy Volt is Leaner, Greener, Edmunds.com

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

    Odyne Enhances System Engineering Focus

    VIA Motors Delivering Hybrid Fleet Trucks, Automotive News

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

    Louisville Trolleys Replaced With Zero-Emission Vehicles, WLKY

    Seattle Dog Figures Out Buses, Huffington Post

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  • The Little Gogoro That Could

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    CES: Visions of Cars on Autopilot, New York Times

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

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

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

    Toyota Follows Tesla, Makes Hydrogen Patents Open Source, Autoblog

    GM and Tula to Improve Engine Efficiency, Detroit News

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

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

    What The Heck is Gogoro?, Tech Crunch

    CNET’s Next Big Thing, CNET

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  • Transit Art

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Achates Signs Development Contracts with Two More Manufacturers, Truckinginfo

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

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

    EV City Casebook

    ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship, The Electrochemical Society

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

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  • Gotta go. I'm bored.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The Secret Deal to Save the Planet, Rolling Stone

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

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

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

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

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

    Utilities Increase Commitment to Electric Vehicles, Trucking Info

    StreetPong, Treehugger

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  • A Beacon in the Smog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Westport Innovations Buys Dutch Engine-Maker Prins, Business Vancouver

    Regional Transit Getting Almost 100 NG Buses, Sacramento Business Journal

    Company Rebuilds Buses to Run on Zero-Emission, ABC7

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

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

    The Hydrogen Student Design Contest, Green Energy News

    A New Era for Clean Transportation, CALSTART

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  • Meet The Future

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

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

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

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

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

    ITM Power Wants to Make Nearly Free Hydrogen, Autoblog Green

    Will The Mirai Be The Next Prius?, Forbes Life

    Inventev Scores Win at Accelerate Michigan Hybrid Truck Technology, DFAN

    VIA Motors Begins Deliveries After EPA Certification, Green Car Reports

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

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

    Utilities Commit to Buy Electric Vehicles, Detroit Free Press

    California Considers Lifting Ban on Utilities Owning EVSE, ChargedEVs

    CALSTART Annual Meeting & Blue Sky Award, CALSTART

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  • Financial Crystal Ball

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

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

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

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

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

    Quantum Fuel Systems Enters Agreement with Fisker, Autoblog Green

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

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

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

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

    All Electric Demo Buses in Service in Chicago, Chicago Tribune

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

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

    A New Era for Clean Transportation, CALSTART

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  • Happiness Guarantee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ZEV Sales Exceed 260,000 in US, Inside EVs

    Tesla: Wall Street Journal Article is Incorrect, Charged

    ChargePoint Now Accepts PayPal, Domestic Fuel

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

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

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

    Using Biodiesel in Transit Buses Could Reduce Emissions, PR Newswire

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

    Kenworth to Transport US Capitol Christmas Tree, Fleet Equipment

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  • A Spark of Interest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Electric Trucks Generating a Spark of Interest, Trucking Info

    California HVIP, NYSERDA VIP, Drive Clean Chicago, CALSTART

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

    Governor Patrick Applauds Worcester Bus Fleet for Going Electric, Streetwise

    XL Hybrids Reaches Hybrid-Electric System Milestone, NGT News

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

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  • Two Buses Better Than One

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Cummins Showcases Extensive Engine Lineup at APTA, School Transportation News

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

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

    Watch Tesla Unveil Model S D Trim, Autobloggreen

    CALSTART Annual Meeting December 9, CALSTART

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  • Baconomics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Toyota Has Now Sold Over 7 Million Hybrids, Transport Evolved

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

    EPA Chief Hails Fuel Efficiency Rules for Trucks, KPBS

    HTUF Presentations

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

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

    A Motorcycle Fueled by Bacon, Fast Company

    Driven by Bacon

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  • Money Talks

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

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

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

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

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

    NAFA Completes Beta Test for Sustainable Fleet Tool, Autosphere

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

    GM Teases Next Chevy Volt in Camo, Gas2

    Toyota’s New Hydrogen Car, Motley Fool

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

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

    Richard Lowenthal, ChargePoint

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  • High-Efficiency Tough

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

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

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

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

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

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

    CALSTART Applauds Governor Brown, CALSTART

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

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

    Westport Has a New NG Technology for OEMs, NGT News

    EPA’s Phase 2 GHG Rules Still Unknown, Truckinginfo

    HTUF In Review, CALSTART

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  • Number One Disrupter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ChargePoint Shows Increase in Campus EV Charging, Domestic Fuel

    Green Tech Auto Restarting Production Later This Year, Autoblog Green

    Toshiba to Provide Fast-Charging Batteries for Proterra, CleanTechnica

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

    Bimbo Bakeries Adds Leased CNG Trucks, Trucking Info

    Honda, Chevrolet Give Natural Gas Push, Los Angeles Times

    Motiv Delivers First Electric Garbage Truck to Chicago, Gas 2.0

    Leading EPA and NHTSA Officials to Keynote HTUF, NGT News

    HTUF Last Day to Register

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  • Flight Fisticuffs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    US Driving Level Highest in Six Years, Trucking Info

    Chinese Air Pollution Regulations Have Halved Health Costs, Eurek Alert

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

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

    CARB Considers ZEV Regulations, Green Car Congress

    Fueling Your Car With Farm Waste, Fortune

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

    New Propane Autogas VIP Launched in NY, NGT News

    Recliner Rage Forces Another Flight to Land, Politico

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  • Rickety Bridges & Global Warming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    WWF UK, Twitpic

    GM Brings Bike Sharing to Technical Center, CBS

    Volvo Buses Introducing Hybrid-Electric Transit Bus, NGT News

    Seattle Deal Could Lead to Proterra Expansion, Greenville News

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

    Energy Storage North America

    HTUF 2014 National Meeting, CALSTART

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  • Networking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Adomani EV School Bus Approved for Use in California, Autobloggreen

    GM to Revamp Volt Marketing Efforts, Charged

    Cargo Bikes, Built For the Short Haul, BBC

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

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

    Ohio to Test Fuel Cells for Public Transit, Government Technology

    A Bus and a Shower, Grist

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  • Next Energy Revolution

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

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

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

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

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

    Bullish Toyota Admits Hydrogen Won’t be Cheap, Ecomento

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

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

    Truck Electrification Systems To Be Tested at Ports, Trucking Info

    Next Energy Revolution Will be on Roads and Railroads, Reuters

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

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  • If I Had a Million Dollars

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Town Hall Registration

    DOT to Host Town Hall on Highway Funding, FleetOwner

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

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

    UQM Technologies Broadens European Customer Base, The Auto Channel

    Time Warner Cable Fleet Joins Clean Cities Program, Multichannel News

    UPS Sets 20% Carbon Emission Reduction Goal, Bloomberg

    New Developments in EV Grid Integration, ESNA 2014

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

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