Clean transportation and energy events to watch for during an extremely interesting year

sustainable-transportationThere’s one thing I can guarantee you about 2017: industry conferences and events are going to be very interesting.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s abrupt decision on November 30 to leave in place its greenhouse gas emissions standards for light vehicles through the 2025 model year before President-elect Donald Trump takes office, is guaranteed to be discussed during speaker panels next year. That, plus decisions by the Trump administration and new agency heads on the fuel economy and emissions standards, electric vehicle tax incentives, climate change, and the very existence of the EPA, will keep people on the edges of their seats.

The image shown above comes from 2016 Sustainable Transportation Summit, which was held in July at the Washington Convention Center. Hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), the first ever Sustainable Transportation Summit brought together transportation and mobility leaders to discuss the technology, policy, and market innovations that hold the potential to shape the transportation system of the future. Green Auto Market will report on scheduling of the 2017 conference.

Here are a few to consider attending this month and next year:

Renewable Energy World International
Dec. 13-15, 2016
Orange County Convention Center
Orlando, Fla.
Formerly called Renewable Energy World Conference & Expo North America, the event has a proven track record as one of renewable energy’s leading conferences. The event offers insightful discussions and presentations during technical sessions related to technology, markets, business strategies and policy covering the wind, solar, biomass, hydro, geothermal, ocean/tidal/wave, biopower, bio-fuels hydrogen, and energy sectors.

National Biodiesel Conference & Expo
Jan. 16-19, 2017
San Diego Convention Center
San Diego, Calif.
The National Biodiesel Conference and Expo is a gathering of biodiesel stakeholders: producers and marketers, fuel distributors, biodiesel consumers, feedstock growers and processors, farmers, local, state, and federal government officials, and fleet managers. You will have opportunities to learn everything from biodiesel basics, RFS compliance mistakes, and ASTM specification changes to what to expect with a new administration.

Cleantech Forum San Francisco
Jan. 23-25, 2017
Parc 55 San Francisco (a Hilton Hotel)
San Francisco, Calif.
This annual gathering of the global cleantech innovation community offers a comprehensive, three-day program along with exclusive opportunities to network, learn, and get deals done. Startups and growth companies can find potential investors and partners, and attendees can find mentors and advisors. Corporate executives, start-up and growth company CEO’s, investors, government agencies, and other players will be attending.

Energy Independence Summit 2017
Feb. 12-15, 2017
The Liaison Capitol Hill
Washington, DC
The Summit provides a unique opportunity for Clean Cities Coalitions and leaders in the clean transportation industry to network and build partnerships with each other, and with key Congressional and Administration policymakers in Washington, DC. Attendees will be able to meet with leaders of the Trump administration and key Congressional leaders; learn how you can benefit from investments from the Volkswagen settlement; network with the nation’s Clean Cities Coalitions and top industry leaders; and participate in Roundtable discussions with DOE, EPA, DOT, USDA, and DOD.

Rethink Methane
Feb. 21-22, 2017
Sheraton Grand Sacramento Hotel
Sacramento, Calif.
Attendees will learn how renewable methane can help California achieve GHG emissions reduction objectives with state measures, integrate sustainability goals for organic waste; accelerate development of practical, large-scale storage for renewable power; facilitate the creation of a low-carbon hydrogen supply for a fuel cell future; and create economic development opportunities for disadvantaged regions. You can also go on a tour on February 22 to learn how an anaerobic digester is helping Van Steyn Dairy tackle the carbon footprint created from their 700 cattle and about 100,000 lbs. of daily manure output, as well as create renewable power for  about 125 homes.

ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit
Feb. 27-March 1, 2017
Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center
National Harbor, Md.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Project Agency-Energy’s (ARPA-E) annual summit bringstogether experts sit at the forefront of energy innovation and entrepreneurship. It underscores ARPA-E’s mission of advancing transformative energy technologies to improve U.S. energy security and economic competitiveness. Now in its eighth year, the Summit draws more than 2,200 participants from across the U.S. and 25 countries to discuss cutting-edge energy issues and cultivate relationships with leaders from industry, government, and academia to advance technologies towards deployment.

The Work Truck Show / Green Truck Summit
March 14-17, 2017
Indiana Convention Center
Indianapolis
Held in conjunction with The Work Truck Show, the Green Truck Summit is considered to be a premier conference on clean energy innovations for commercial vehicles. Experts will share perspective on how the industry can make an immediate impact on greenhouse gas and criteria pollutant reduction. They’ll be representing regulatory agencies, fleet managers, commercial vehicle manufacturers, and stakeholders from various industry trade associations and professional societies. Topics will include: creating an efficient path to zero-emission commercial vehicles; effects of Phase Two greenhouse gas regulations; and, renewable fuels analysis and vehicle life cycle impacts.

NGV Global 2017
March 20-23, 2017
Ahoy Rotterdam
Rotterdam, Netherlands
NGV Global is the once every two year global gathering of NGV strategic, commercial, and technical executives – presented by the world’s industry association, NGV Global.  Natural gas, whether CNG, LNG or RNG (renewable natural gas), continues to broaden its appeal and range of applications as a fuel for transportation. NGV Global looks forward to delivering a multi-stream event that incorporates road, water, and rail sectors. The 2017 NGVAmerica Annual Meeting & Industry Summit in the U.S. is still in the planning stage.

NAFA 2017 Institute & Expo
April 25-28, 2017
Tampa Convention Center
Tampa, Fla.
NAFA Fleet Management Association’s annual event continues to be the preeminent event for the fleet management community. For this year, additions to the program include: a keynote presentation focused on Leadership and Innovation; CAFM graduate luncheon on Wednesday; and a new Sustainability Pre-Con for Monday. This year will celebrate 60 years since the start of NAFA.

Ceres Conference 2017
April 26-27, 2017
The Westin St. Francis
San Francisco, Calif.
Good governance, full disclosure, stakeholder engagement, and performance are all hallmarks of a truly sustainable and profitable 21st century corporation. Across the globe, major corporations are integrating innovative sustainable solutions and adding value for investors and consumers, while protecting the health of the planet and its people. The conference brings together leaders who have achieved the highest standards on these core issues and reaped the greatest profits and discovered that, sustainability is the bottom line.

ACT Expo
May 1-4, 2017
Long Beach Convention Center
Long Beach, Calif.
All weight classes and alternative fuel types are represented – electric, hybrid, hydrogen, natural gas, propane autogas, and renewable fuels – providing a one-stop shop for fleets to learn how to reduce costs and emissions. Network with more than 3,500 clean transportation stakeholders; see hundreds of leading vehicle, fueling, and technology suppliers in the Expo Hall; see real-world AFV projects at off-site tours in Southern California; and learn from peers in fleet-focused educational sessions

AltCar Expo
Sept. 15-16, 2017
Santa Monica Civic Auditorium
Santa Monica, Calif.
This event provide an accessible and comprehensive setting where both industry and the general public can discover all of the existing alternatives to the way they use energy and transportation. It also has the mission of motivating everyone to take action to support California’s groundbreaking clean car policies. It also offers speaker panels and an extensive ride and drive. Similar events will be held in Sacramento on April 19, 2017, and the Bay Area AltCar event will soon be scheduled for the Spring of 2017.

Solar Power International
September 10-13, 2017
Mandalay Bay Convention Center
Las Vegas, Nev.
North America’s largest solar trade show brings together over 18,000 solar professionals and 600 exhibiting companies. SPI is powered by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA). The event held its inaugural show in 2003 and was designed to serve and advance the solar energy industry.

VERGE 17
Sept. 18-21, 2017
Santa Clara Convention Center
Santa Clara, Calif.
VERGE is GreenBiz.com’s annual conference and expo focusing on the technologies and systems that accelerate sustainability solutions in a climate-constrained world. The annual event brings together a diverse, cross-sector audience representing the world’s largest companies, technology startups, energy producers and consumers, commercial real estate owners and the public sector, creating a unique ecosystem focused on opportunities for business, the environment and society. VERGE focuses on transformative, scalable and practical solutions across six tracks.

EVS30
October 9-11, 2017
Messe Stuttgart
Stuttgart, Germany
The 30th International Electric Vehicle Symposium & Exhibition is the world’s largest trade fair and conference event for electric mobility. Every 12 to 18 months, researchers, government representatives and industry experts from around the world gather to get the latest picture of all forms of electric mobility, its technologies and other issues, such as battery and fuel cell drives, and discuss new trends. The event is sponsored by AVERE (the European Association for Electromobility), Electric Drive Transportation Association, Daimler, Bosch, Mahle, and others.

Fleet Technology Expo
Produced by Bobit Business Media, the publishers of Automotive Fleet, Heavy Duty Trucking (HDT), Green Fleet and Work Truck, is designed for fleet professionals who oversee vehicle fleets of all sizes and types in all industries and are looking to improve operational efficiencies. It replaced the Green Fleet Conference & Expo, and the 2017 dates have yet to be set.

Auto shows to follow:
North American International Auto Show
Jan. 8-22, 2017

Washington Auto Show
Jan. 27-Feb. 5, 2017

Chicago Auto Show
Feb. 11-20, 2017

Geneva Motor Show
March 9-19, 2017

New York International Auto Show
April 14-23, 2017

Auto Shanghai
April 21-28, 2017

Frankfurt Motor Show
Sept. 12-24, 2017

Tokyo Motor Show
Oct. 25 to Nov. 5, 2017

LA Auto Show
Open to the public Dec. 1-10, 2017

Lyft and Uber testing grounds for autonomous vehicles

Lyft Express DriveAdvanced mobility continues to look tangible and coming sooner to market than it appeared a couple years ago. Google’s unveiling of its small fleet of self-driving cars for road tests in the Spring of 2014 triggered a flurry of debate about the launch of road-worthy automated cars by 2035. That timeline may be shortening to 10 years or less, at least for automated driving technologies coming to market.

Ridesharing giant Uber’s investment in the Carnegie Mellon autonomous vehicle research center and General Motors’ half billion investment in Lyft with raised the ante. In the past week, more fascinating news was revealed………

Uber may have asked a few automakers for details on placing a large order for self-driving cars, an industry source told Reuters. Uber may have placed an order for at least 100,000 Mercedes S-class cars, but this isn’t being confirmed by Daimler or Uber. The executive sedan doesn’t year have fully automated features, nor do any other cars available on the market beyond road tests.

Uber needs to cut its largest cost – paying drivers – so self-driving cars are a logical step for the on-demand transportation company. Audi, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and suppliers Bosch and Continental are working hard on advancing their technologies, as are several other OEMs and suppliers outside Germany.

Analysts at Exane BNP Paribas see a $25 billion market for automated driving technology by 2020. As for fully autonomous vehicles coming to roads, the brokerage firm sees that happening by 2025 or 2030, in part due to regulatory hurdles.

General Motors is following up its January investment of $500 million in the second largest ridesharing company, Lyft, with a symbolic step forward. GM and Lyft this month will launch a short-term rental program for Lyft drivers in Chicago with a fleet of 125 Chevrolet Equinoxes.

Similar to Uber offering car loans for drivers who don’t yet have their own car, Lyft drivers will be able to rental GM vehicles to do their work. The program, called Express Drive, will rent vehicles to Lyft drivers for one to eight weeks, including free maintenance and insurance. The companies said it will soon roll out to Boston, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore prior to a nationwide rollout.

Drivers will have an incentive for delivering riders more miles. Drivers who complete fewer than 40 rides a week will pay $99 a week and 20 cents a mile. For those driving between 40 and 64 rides, the mileage fee will be waived. Drivers who make 65 or more rides will have free access to the Equinox.

GM chose the Chevrolet crossover because it’s compact and it offers a comfortable interior and versatile storage, said Julia Steyn, GM’s vice president of urban mobility programs. Steyn also said Express Drive will build the infrastructure for an eventual fleet of on-demand autonomous vehicles, the long-term goal of the partnership.

Renting the vehicles and tracking driver contracts will be managed by Maven, the mobility subsidiary that GM created in January. GM is covering maintenance costs and is sharing the insurance cost with Lyft and Warranty work will be done at GM dealerships, Steyn said.

On-demand car service Uber announced this morning a new feature designed to make it easier for its customers to pay for rides for their friends and family: Family Profiles. The option was one of Uber’s most frequently requested features, the company notes, and will initially go live in a handful of markets, including Atlanta, Dallas and Phoenix, before rolling out elsewhere.

Though dubbed “Family Profiles,” the option to pay for others’ rides doesn’t only extend to those in your immediate family – you can choose to add anyone to this group in the app, including friends, co-workers, or anyone else. However, it makes the most sense for those who want to bill trips taken by others all to the same payment card – that means those who you add will need to be part of a fairly trusted group of people.

For example, parents could use the Family Profile setting with their kids in college – allowing them peace of mind that their child would always have a free ride home, when needed. You could also use it to help others you care about who may need the financial assistance.

Snapshot of clean, smart transportation: We’re living in a very interesting time

Urban mobilityAre clean, advanced technology vehicles going away because of low gasoline prices and car shoppers turning their attention elsewhere? Do transportation alternatives like ridesharing, carsharing, and self-driving cars stand a chance of surviving and thriving? Read on for interesting market trends……….

Navigant Research expects global light-duty vehicle (LDV) sales growth to continue over the next 20 years – from 88.8 million vehicles this year to 122.6 million sold in 2035. Navigant Research sees changes driven primarily by the adoption of vehicles with various levels of drivetrain electrification and vehicles that run entirely on alternative fuels. New transportation business models for LDVs such as carsharing programs alongside increased urbanization is likely to put downward pressure on vehicle sales in the long term, Navigant Research says. As for the 20-year forecast, change is being driven by government-led initiatives to improve fuel economy and market demand for alternative transportation options and alternative fuel vehicles. “LDVs primarily fueled by gasoline are expected to fall as a percentage of the overall global fleet from 82% in 2015 to less than 71% in 2035, particularly as diesel, electricity, and other alternative fuels become more price competitive and their respective infrastructure becomes more available,” says Scott Shepard, research analyst with Navigant Research.

While gasoline prices have been hurting hybrid and electric vehicle (EV) sales in the U.S., other countries are seeing growth in EV sales. The U.S. share of the market is expected to drop as sales stall out here but grow in other countries. Global EV sales in 2015 through May came in at more than 160,000 units, of which the U.S. saw only 39,000 deliveries. In Norway, a third of its new vehicle sales were EVs in the first quarter of this year, and the Netherlands saw it become 5.7% of its share during that time (compared to about 0.8% of new vehicles sales in the U.S.). For this year, U.S. sales are expected to stay flat, but are likely surge next year and in 2017 with higher production and new entries from several high-volume makers. The 2016 Chevrolet Volt and an all-new Nissan Leaf released in 2017 or 2018 are expected to make a difference. The Tesla Model X, which is expected to double Tesla’s annual sales, is slated to show up in China in the first half of next year after being introduced in the U.S. sometime this quarter.

Automotive media and market analysts have decided that green vehicle sales are being trashed by low gasoline prices and affordable fuel efficient cars. That being said, they can’t stop dwelling on (obsessing over?) the topic. LA Times’ veteran automotive reporter Jerry Hirsch wrote two features about it, published within a day of each other last week. Hirsch is up there with USA Today’s Chris Woodyard as an expert reporter on green vehicles for a major media source. In “Setting the record straight on five common green car misconceptions,” Hirsch educates readers on topics such as range anxiety, hybrid battery cost, and the myth that EVs cause just as much pollution as gasoline-engine vehicles. In “What kind of car is the most green, fuel efficient and budget friendly?”, Hirsch worked with the Union of Concerned Scientists to examine seven powertrain options, analyzing their greenhouse gas emissions — including the power plant pollution required to produce electricity — along with their relative fuel efficiency and cost of operation. They found that battery electric vehicles are the cleanest and least expensive to operate. Richard Truett of Automotive News cares enough about the topic to have written a detailed report on gas prices and automaker product planning last week. For the federal mandate on fuel efficient vehicles, Truett thinks that, “If automakers can’t make money or at least break even on electrified and fuel-efficient vehicles, all bets are off. There are already rumblings around Detroit of asking the government to push the 54.5 mpg requirement out past 2025.”

One of the largest airports in the U.S. has allowed ridesharing leaders Uber and Lyft to begin picking up passengers. Despite protests by taxi drivers, Los Angeles (LAX) airport officials agreed Thursday to permit ridesharing/ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft to pick up, and not just drop off, their passengers. That could begin as early as late August, subject to final approvals by airport officials and the city attorney. For the 2,361 licensed taxis serving that airport, many of them see LAX as their last remaining stronghold as ride-hailing eats away at their fares. Orange County’s John Wayne Airport began allowing ride-hailing services to pick up at the airport earlier this year. Uber revenue is expected to skyrocket this year – from $400 million to $2 billion, as consumers (primarily members of the 18-35 year old Millennial generation) choose Uber over taxis and other transportation sources.

Google continues to test its self-driving cars, and has seen injuries from one of the collisions for the first time. During the 14th accident from one of these test vehicles, a Google autonomous vehicle was rear-ended on July 1 near the company’s corporate campus in Mountain View, Calif. Three Google employees were taken to a hospital to receive treatment for “minor” whiplash. The driver of the other vehicle who hit the Google test car also suffered some minor injuries. Google’s test program generated headlines earlier in 2015 when it was revealed that more than a dozen crashes have occurred and the other drivers have been blamed. With the latest crash, the Google vehicles have been rear-ended in 11 of the 14 incidents. The test program has been using Google’s own driverless cars, and initially used modified Toyota and Lexus vehicles; the test project so far has driven over 1.9 million miles.

U.S. consumers are still concerned about losing control of their vehicles to self-driving cars, according to a recent survey by University of Michigan’s Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle of the Transportation Research Institute. The survey polled 505 people and found that 43.8% didn’t want any form of autonomous technology in their vehicles while 40.6% were comfortable with some level of self-driving tech. There was a nearly unanimous response to one question that doesn’t bode well for Google and its vehicles: 96.2% of respondents want a steering wheel, brake and gas pedal in their vehicle no matter the level of autonomy. Perhaps they will need to remain semi-autonomous vehicles? Along with Transportation Research Institute’s study, the university announced last week that it will be opening a new testing site for connected and driverless cars. The 32-acre testing grounds, called Mcity, are designed to simulate urban and suburban roads with a network of controlled intersections, traffic signals, streetlights, sidewalks, construction obstacles, and more. The test track is operated by the university’s Mobility Transformation Center and is an extension of a federally funded pilot program to study connected vehicle technologies at the university. Three years ago, the Transportation Research Institute launched a safety pilot program; that test program includes the deployment of about 9,000 vehicles – cars, commercial vans, buses, and motorcycles equipped with transmitters and data-logging devices to track position, acceleration, and velocity of vehicles and infrastructure.

Carsharing continues to see much interest as a transportation alternative in cities like Paris, San Francisco and Boston. Automakers and car rental companies continue to acquire or partner with carsharing startups like Zipcar, Car2Go, Getaround, and City CarShare. More than 1.5 million people are already using these services in the Americas, according to new research from UC Berkeley. As automakers and car rental companies expand their offerings, the business model is based on efficiency and easing congestion in crowded urban environments where carsharing makes a lot of sense. “This allows flexibility for the operator to serve more people with a single car,” said Susan Shaheen, director of Innovative Mobility Research at the University of California, Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center.

NAFA and CALSTART launch Sustainable Fleet Standard Program

NAFA Sustainable Fleet StandardDuring its annual conference last week, the NAFA fleet management association launched the Sustainable Fleet Standard Program in collaboration with CALSTART. It a first-of-its-kind “best practices” program supporting fleets in increasing efficiency and reducing emissions and fuel consumption for their vehicles.  “The importance of sustainable practices becomes more evident each day,” said NAFA President Claude Masters. “By becoming more energy independent and efficient, our members will extend benefits to their bottom line and their customer base.”

The Sustainable Fleet Standard Program will be complimentary to existing federal programs, but also sets a standard by which fleets can assess their progress. The program has two purposes – to encourage and make it easy for fleets to take first steps toward clean transportation; while also setting a strong framework to reward those fleets already taking real action. Member organizations will be assisted in assessing their practices to decrease fuel dependence and emissions; and to increase vehicle efficiency, improve performance, and reduce harmful pollutants. In recent years, many fleets have been learning the win-win scenario clean transportation brings in reducing emissions and operating costs.

CALSTART has been working with NAFA for several years on providing educational resources to fleets on advanced and clean vehicle technologies.  The non-profit organization has more than 150 member companies and works with industry and government partners to support growth in the industry. “NAFA’s central role in the fleet industry will help this program create a tipping point for sustainable transportation,” said John Boesel, president and CEO of CALSTART. “We’re working with NAFA to make sure the standard is strong, but easy to use by any fleet, whether just starting out or far down the road on sustainable operations.”

The timing of this launch has been quite relevant. NAFA says that developing and launching this new program coincided with a speech given by President Barack Obama in February 2014 supporting a national vehicle sustainability initiative. “By applying this standard to fleets and vehicles of all sizes, NAFA is engineering a program that has the power to shift vehicle sustainability standards on a universal level,” NAFA’s press release says. You can also learn more and stay informed on the program as it approaches implementation, at NAFASustainable.org.

GM, Schneider and Waste Management honored in sustainability awards

Environmental Leader awardsGeneral Motors, Schneider Electric, and Waste Management were honored for sustainability initiatives in the second annual Environmental Leader Product & Project Awards. A panel of distinguished judges scored entrants in the competition based on excellence in energy and sustainability management. Click here to download the report.

General Motors was honored for “Driving a Global Movement for Zero Waste,” through its global manufacturing sustainability campaign. It’s based on reducing landfill waste to zero, and from turning those scraps and waste materials into a revenue stream.

In 2012, GM generated an estimated $1 billion in reuse and recycling revenue from its byproducts; the automaker eliminated 11 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent emissions. GM has also become known for its land-fill free production facilities with 108 of them now in place. The goal is to bring that number up to 125 by 2020.

To accomplish its goals, GM uses a variety of methods including data collection and monitoring systems, employee and external engagement initiatives, and creative reuse and recycling. Results are reported monthly by GM plants, offering a company standard to benchmark against. GM has been sharing its strategies with members of its value chain and to the manufacturing industry.

Schneider Electric, which plays a significant role in the electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) were recognized for development of “Higg Index 2.0.” SAC’s index was first introduced 18 months ago; this new version brings in an online platform developed by Schneider Electric; it’s added the ability to share users’ sustainability data, increase accuracy, and add measurability for materials and processes. This brings greater transparency and accountability through the apparel industry’s supply chain. The companies say that Higg Index 2.0 adds to the 1.0 version by including new measurement data to help assess chemical and social impacts of products.

Waste collection giant Waste Management was honored for what it brought to the Phoenix Open golf tournament. The PGA’s most highly attended golf tournament was turned into its most sustainable one. The company aimed to make the tournament a zero waste event by diverting all of its waste to recycling, composting or waste-to-energy. Along with using the renewable energy sources of wind, solar, and biomass, greywater to save water, 63% of the transportation vehicles used during the golf tournament were run on alternative fuels.

Waste Management has more than 3,000 heavy-duty natural gas trucks in North American cities today; the company plans to ultimately convert its entire fleet of 18,000 collection vehicles over to natural gas and has more than 50 natural gas fueling stations in place.