For Today: Pressure on German chancellor as election approaches, Natural gas vehicles not going away

Chancellor Merkel may ban fossil-fuel vehicles:  Germany will have to follow the lead of France and Great Britain in banning diesel vehicles, said Chancellor Angela Merkel during media interviews this week; and that will likely apply to gasoline-powered vehicles as well. Merkel wouldn’t name the exact year, but said that the UK And France’s plans to ban the sale of new vehicles with internal combustion engines starting in 2040 “were the right approach.” The pressure is on Merkel and auto industry executives as the Sept. 24 election approaches. Merkel is seeking her fourth term in the office, and has been called upon to make sure auto executives respond ethically to the vehicle emissions scandal. In a YouTube interview, she called on local government officials to meet with her on September 4 to discuss toxic emissions.

Shared mobility is stepping stone to AVs:  The current hype about autonomous vehicle is accompanied by a surge of interest from shared mobility operators. Ride-hailing companies such as Uber, Lyft, and Didi are investing heavily into autonomous vehicle technology. Earlier this year, Uber announced its partnership with Daimler to bring self-driving technology to the market. Didi has opened up an artificial intelligence lab in Silicon Valley. Lyft’s collaboration with investor General Motors will include self-driving Chevy Bolt test runs,. This month, Lyft announced an investment coming in from Jaguar Landrover to bring autonomous connected vehicles on the road. And read all about the upcoming Meeting of the Minds conference, being held October 23-25 in Cleveland.

Natural gas isn’t going away:  A Bloomberg analysis piece points to natural gas vehicles having failed in a race won by cheap gasoline prices and growth in electric vehicle sales. While oil and gas industry leader T. Boone Pickens was citied as championing the alternative fuel since about 2008, the results haven’t gone in that direction. The article cites cheap gasoline prices and growth in EV sales, including orders being placed on the Tesla Model 3, as evidence for its argument. While the natural gas-powered Honda Civic was taken off the market a few years ago, NGVs continue to play an important role for fleets converting over to clean fuel options. Transit and city fleets are bringing them in with a few major corporate fleets like UPS, Ryder System, and AT&T, continuing to acquire them and install more CNG fueling stations. Ford and GM continue to add the CNG option to their pickup trucks and van offerings. Renewable natural gas is also supporting the clean fuel and its infrastructure, as more fleets start using RNG. Liquefied natural gas is also playing a role in adoption of the fuel in various transport sectors.

For Today: Waste Management opens 100 CNG stations, Elon Musk raising bonds for Model 3

100 CNG stations:  Refuse company Waste Management just installed its 100th natural gas fueling station, in Oklahoma City. The company uses these stations, 25 of which are open to the public, to fuel its 6,000 unit fleet of natural gas trucks. It’s the largest natural gas-powered fleet of its kind in North America. The company is moving toward its goal of reducing carbon dioxide 15% from its fleet by 2020. Much of the fuel being used is renewable natural gas, which comes from waste matter stored in landfills. “We invest in building our own fueling infrastructure to refuel our vehicles, while making CNG available to other commercial fleets and individuals,” said Marty Tufte, Waste Management corporate fleet director.

Fossil fuel subsidies:  A study was just published in the World Development journal that quantifies the amount of subsidies directed toward fossil fuels globally is still massive –  6.5% of global GDP still goes to subsidizing fossil fuels. Those subsidies came to $4.9 trillion in 2013 and rose to $5.3 trillion two years later. The study found that petroleum and coal used in transportation and electricity receive much larger subsidies compared to counterpart fuels.

Tesla raising bonds:  Tesla CEO Elon Musk was able to raise $600 million in just a few hours meeting with bond buyers in Manhattan on Monday, according to investors briefed on the matter. It was part of a four-day road trip to raise $1.5 billion to pay for production of the Model 3 through junk-rated bonds. The company is spending a lot of cash on building out the Fremont, Calif., assembly plant, and battery packs at its Gigafactory in Nevada. The company burned through a record $1.16 billion in cash during the second quarter. It looks good for Tesla hitting the $1.5 billion this week.




For Today: Honda 2030 Vision electrified and automated, More on the Fisker EMotion

Honda EV and automated vehicle goals:  Honda will be putting more emphasis on battery electric vehicles to reach its goals for zero emission vehicles. While still committed to fuel cell vehicles, the company will release a China-specific electric vehicle in 2018. Another EV made for global markets will be launched this fall at an auto show, said President & CEO Takahiro Hachigo at a press briefing in Tokyo. A new R&D department, Electric Vehicle Development Division, was started up last fall to speed up the process, he said. The company is also committed to serving mobility needs of its customers through a Level 3 highway-driving capability by 2013; and a Level 4 automated driving system that will allow the driver to take over if needed for safety. All of the announcements were part of a presentation on 2030 Vision, the company’s global mission statement.

Ricardo and CaFCP alliance:  Ricardo Strategic Consulting just announced its collaboration with the California Fuel Cell Partnership to provide economic modelling tools. It will enable the assessment of total cost of ownership of future fuel cell trucks, and the hydrogen stations needed to support commercial operation. Ricardo’s proprietary Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) modelling capability, provides insights on the economics of fuel efficient technologies, both today and in future. This model enables vehicle manufacturers, regulators, transport authorities, urban planners, and other stakeholders in making informed decisions about new technology implementation. The collaboration with Ricardo supports CaFCP’s efforts to enable adoption of hydrogen fuel cell technology in commercial trucks.

Fisker EMotion:  Fisker Inc. released more information and some teaser photos on the EMotion all-electric sports car. One of the tricks to getting up to the 400-miles per range will be lightening up the car, and it will be safer through patented crash design. The company now has a patent on the Emotion’s frontal crash structure that it says exceeds current minimum standards for occupant protection. The starting price has been set at $129,900 and it will be launched soon, with more details coming out this month.

For Today: Daimler Breaks Ground On Large Lithium Plant, NAFA Starts Sustainable Fleet Certificates

Daimler quadrupling lithium-ion capacity:  Daimler officially broke ground yesterday on a lithium-ion battery plant it says will be one of the largest in the world. German chancellor Angela Merkel joined Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche and other officials for a tour of existing plant in Kamenz, near Dresden, that will quadruple production once the second plant is finished in mid-2018. Combined, the Kamenz plants will cover about 861,000 square meters. Along with powering EQ all-electric cars and plug-in hybrids, the plant will supply Mercedes-Benz Energy storage units and 48-volt on-board power systems. The Germany automaker is putting about $560 million into the new plant. The number of employees working there will double to more than 1,000 by the end of the decade. The plant will be sustainably powered from a combined heat and power plant and a photovoltaic solar plant in combination with stationary battery storage units. “The automotive industry is facing a fundamental transformation and we see ourselves as the driving force behind this change. The battery factory in Kamenz is an important component in the implementation of our electric offensive. By 2022, we will have more than ten purely electric passenger cars in series. We also continue to drive forward the hybridization of our fleet. Under the EQ brand, we are creating a holistic ecosystem for e-mobility,” Zetsche said.

Sustainable Fleet Certificate:  NAFA Fleet Management Association just released a listing of fleet managers who’ve earned a Sustainable Fleet Certificate. Fleet managers can now utilize the certificate to make a strong addition to their overall accreditation. Launched in April, the program was developed through a partnership between NAFA, Calstart, and NC State University. It’s been designed to educate fleet professionals in proven methods to develop sustainable fleet initiatives along with the skillset needed to meet their sustainability goals. Special recognition was given during the association’s recent annual conference in Tampa.

NAFA developed the Sustainable Fleet Certificate program in response to a need uncovered after NAFA launched its Sustainable Fleet Accreditation Program (SFAP).

“It is clear fleet managers are extremely interested in our accreditation program,” NAFA President Bryan Flansburg said, “but many don’t know how to start a sustainable program for their fleet operations. This training provides all this information and guidance and will be a strong feeder into our accreditation program.”

The first-ever recipients of NAFA’s Sustainable Fleet Certificates are:

  • Martin Biffin, Principal Mechanical Engineer, Government of Bermuda Public Works
  • Mike Bisogno, CAFM, Director, Commonwealth of Virginia Office of Fleet Management Services
  • Anthony Bowe, Fleet Management/Shop Supervisor, State of Minnesota Department of Transportation
  • Michele L. Bowles, CAFS, Fleet Manager, Washington Gas Light Co.
  • Ray Brisby, CAFM, Fleet Manager, Calgary Fire Department
  • Richard Callis, CAFM, Sr. Analyst, Enterprise Fleet Management, Charter Communications
  • Mike Camnetar, CAFM, Director of Fleet Partnership Solutions, Element Fleet Management
  • Jeffrey Carter, Fleet Manager, Portland General Electric
  • Patti Earley, CAFM, Fleet Fuel Specialist, Florida Power & Light
  • Antoine Elias, Lead Senior Plant Engineer, Br. C.A.T. International Co. LTD
  • Robert Ellingsworth, CAFM, Fleet Manager, State of Minnesota Department of Transportation
  • Donald Eta, Director, Fleet Management Services, City of Vaughan, Ontario
  • Marie Gianetti, Insurance Coordinator, Varian Associates, Inc.
  • Scott Glew, Manager, Fleet Services, Town of Richmond Hill, Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada
  • Brad Hawthorne, Deputy Director, City of San Diego, Fleet Operations Department
  • Nina Hoffert, CAFM, Fleet Manager, City of Lakewood
  • Alia Khouri, Deputy Director, City of San Diego Fleet Services
  • James Laverty, CAFS, Manager, Vehicle Pool, University of Alberta, Canada
  • Gary Lentsch, CAFM, Fleet Manager, Eugene Water & Electric Board
  • Zachariah McLawhorn, Deputy Director, State of North Carolina, Motor Fleet Mgmt. Division
  • Quintonio Ratteray, Mechanical Superintendent, Government of Bermuda Public Works
  • William Rogers, DPW – Fleet Services Administrator, Indianapolis Fleet Services
  • Rick Sikes, CAFM, COO, CarbonBLU
  • Michael Simonds, Fleet Manager, City of San Diego Fleet Operations Department
  • James Tillman, Director, Business Development EV Services and Battery Storage, MaxGen Energy Services
  • Katherine Vigneau, CAFM, Professional Development Strategist, KMVS Fleet+ Consulting
  • Mike Wilkinson, Fleet Supervisor, Denver Water
  • Mike Wilson, CAFM, Strategic Fleet Management Specialist, Element Fleet Management

In order to earn a Sustainable Fleet Certificate, individuals had to attend a full-day training session for which they received a comprehensive study guide. The study guide provided the basis for the course materials, as well as the exam on which individuals were tested. Those who successfully completed the exam at the end of the training session earned a Sustainable Fleet Certificate.

NAFA is working to offer the sustainable certificate training in autumn 2017.   For information about NAFA’s Sustainable Fleet Accreditation Program and future training events as they are released, please visit

For Today: Revero delivered to dealers, Uber CEO wanted to partner with Tesla

  1. Here comes the Revero: Karma Automotive’s Revero are showing up at dealerships around the country, with 10 of the $130,000 plug-in hybrid sports cars being loaded up and starting deliveries on Friday. The company has set up a sales network with dealers in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Fort Worth (Texas), Miami, Montreal, Palm Beach (Fla.), Pasadena (Calif.), Philadelphia, and Toronto. Customers need to make an appointment at some of the dealerships for a test drive. The cars are being built at the Moreno Valley, Calif., assembly plant, and the batteries are coming from A123, another Wanxiang-owned company that had previously supplied batteries to Fisker Automotive.
  2. Self-driving car partnership: A book coming out next week says that Uber CEO Travis Kalanick put in a call last year to Uber CEO Elon Musk to become partners in autonomous vehicle development. Kalanick said that Musk spent the rest of the call trying to convince him that the whole idea was too far out, and that Kalanick should stick to what Uber does best and stay focused. That was just a few days before Musk published his 1,500-word blog post outlining a series of very big moves, such as encouraging Tesla vehicle owners make income off renting out their self-driving Tesla instead of leaving the cars sitting around for hours in a parking space.
  3. Light & Charge stations: BMW Group is bringing Light & Charge stations to North America through an alliance with BMW’s ReachNow mobility service, Woodland Park Zoo, and the City of Seattle. The system uses the city’s existing street and parking lot infrastructure through a smart city network. Existing light poles are set up with LED lighting, electric car charging, and a sensor unit. The partners opened the first of 20 charging locations Monday that will host both DC fast chargers and Level 2 chargers, bringing 100 new chargers to the city. BMW started up the Light & Charge system three years ago in Europe. The ReachNow fleet has the BMW i3 and other BMW vehicles in its fleet.
  4. Pickens on succeeding: Boone Pickens, a founder of Clean Energy Fuels and an icon from the oil and gas industry, published “An Open Letter to This Year’s Graduating Seniors,” in LinkedIn. He gave graduates a few tips on succeeding in today’s economy, which he’s learned from several years out in the field. Pickens, who’s turning 89 years old on May 22, made a reference to being 68 years old and “basically starting my career over.” A reporter interviewing him came from the idea that Pickens was going to need to step aside – the old horse was going to have to step aside from the trough. “That’s simply not true: The feeding trough in America is endless. Step up, work hard, and everyone has the opportunity to succeed,” Pickens wrote.
  5. Urban mobility terminology: Want to know the difference between carsharing and carpooling? Dynamic ridesharing and driverless driving? Audi announced that it has founded a working group together with city governments, business and scientific institutions. Together, they’ve put together a catalogue of terms for the city of the future. It comes from a DIN specification (Germany’s institute for standardization), with more than 200 related terms, for “intelligent individual urban mobility.“

This Week’s Top 10: CPUC approves PG&E charging station plan, Leonardo DiCaprio promoting BYD electric vehicles

by Jon LeSage, editor and publisher, Green Auto Market

Here’s my take on the 10 most significant and interesting occurrences during the past week………..

  1. pge-charging-stationPG&E charging network:  A years-long struggle over Pacific Gas & Electric’s initial plan to run a 25,000 electric vehicle charging project has ended with a California Public Utilities Commission decision scaling the network down to 7,500 chargers. On Thursday, CPUC unanimously supported what will be the country’s largest utility-led charging deployment. The “Charge Smart and Save” plan includes 7,500 EV charging points in workplaces, multi-unit residential buildings, and disadvantaged communities, and is capped at a cost of $130 million – much less than the $650 million that had been earmarked for the 25,000 unit plan. Electric Vehicle Charging Association, which represents EV charging companies, and other groups had asked CPUC to consider an alternative plan; they seem to be satisfied that they’ve been given mostly what they’d been seeking. PG&E will be limited to how much of the charging network it can own, which had been a key stumbling block in the past. “This proposed decision accelerates the adoption of EV charging in northern California in a way that preserves innovation and competition,” said Pasquale Romano, ChargePoint’s CEO.
  2. DiCaprio backs BYD:  Former Fisker Karma advocate Leonardo DiCaprio has signed on to promote China-based BYD’s electric vehicles and zero emissions campaign. It comes at a time when BYD has been promoting its “Cool the Earth by 1°C” campaign for the creation of a “Zero Emissions Energy Ecosystem.” BYD and Oscar-winning actor DiCaprio will spread the word on plug-in cars, utility vehicles, buses, solar energy, renewable storage, and light electric monorail systems – all of which are being developed and produced by the company. DiCaprio launched a documentary on climate change, “Before the Flood,” in which he starred, at the Toronto International Film Festival in September; the film featured an interview with Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
  3. VW settlement in Canada:  Volkswagen AG has agreed to spend up to C$2.1 billion ($1.6 billion) to buy back or fix 105,000 diesel vehicles and compensate owners over the emissions scandal, the automaker said. The German automaker also agreed to pay a C$15 million ($11.18 million) civil administrative penalty along with the Canadian settlement. That brings up the total to more than $18 billion to address diesel emissions issues in North America. VW expects to soon settle a deal on another U.S. recall involving buybacks or fixes for another 80,000 polluting U.S. diesel 3.0 liter Porsche, Audi, and VW vehicles. In a related story, German auto supplier Robert Bosch GmbH may be settling a lawsuit filed by U.S. owners related to the diesel emissions cheating scandal for more than $300 million. Bosch had previously called the lawsuit “wild and unfounded” after it was filed last year. VW owners have claimed the supplier had helped design the “defeat device” software that VW had been using for years to pass diesel emissions tests.
  4. Musk and Kalanick join panel:  President-elect Donald Trump has named Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to a Strategic and Policy Forum that frequently will advise him on economic issues and jobs growth. Musk and Kalanick will join General Motors CEO Mary Barra on the panel, along with several other top-ranking executives from U.S. companies. Trump’s transition team said they’ll be part of a forum that is composed of “some of America’s most highly respected and successful business leaders” that “will be called upon to meet with the president frequently to share their specific experience and knowledge as the president implements his economic agenda.”
  5. Toyota’s environmental report:  Toyota will be lighting up its new U.S. corporate headquarters in Plano, Texas, with solar power. That was part of the recently published 2016 North American Environmental Report, where Toyota outlined these positive impacts. Over the past year, Toyota’s North American operations have reduced water usage by nearly 100 million gallons. The company also announced plans for a 7.75 megawatt solar array at Toyota’s new headquarters campus in Plano, Texas, which will reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by 7,122 metric tons, or the equivalent of the electricity used by almost 1,000 homes in a year. It’s all part of Toyota’s Environmental Challenge 2050, which focuses on completely eliminating all greenhouse gas emissions from its vehicles, operations, and supply chain.
  6. DOE grants:  The U.S. Department of Energy has issued two grant funding programs involving advanced, clean transportation. Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) announced that its Renewable Energy to Fuels Through Utilization of Energy-Dense Liquids (REFUEL) program will convert low-cost renewable energy into a transportable chemical fuel and use these fuels for transportation applications, while reducing production costs and environmental impact. Most selected REFUEL projects target the production of ammonia or its conversion to hydrogen or electricity. DOE also announced that $19.7 million, subject to appropriations, will be granted to support research and development of advanced vehicle technologies, including batteries, lightweight materials, and advanced combustion engines; and innovative technologies for energy efficient mobility. Its purpose is to accelerate energy efficient transportation and systems.
  7. Plug-in hybrids taking lead:  Navigant Research predicts that the current level of electrified vehicles making up 3% of global sales will go up to 9% by 2025. That includes hybrid, plug-in hybrids, and all-electric vehicles. The research firm thinks hybrids and plug-in hybrids will switch places; with hybrids currently making up 73% of electrified vehicle sales; and by 2025, plug-in hybrids trading places, coming in at 72% of sales. The Chevy Volt has been leading the way in U.S. plug-in electrified vehicle sales and the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has been leading in Europe. That market presence will grow as automakers roll out more plug-in offerings, including new, larger vehicle body types. All-electric vehicles aren’t typically designed to go this route as much as plug-in hybrids tend to be, said the study.
  8. SDG&E trucks:  San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) has signed an agreement with XL Hybrids, a developer of hybrid truck solutions, to purchase up to 110 of its plug-in electric hybrid truck systems between 2017 and 2020. The XL Hybrids’ system will convert commercially available gasoline-powered trucks into electric hybrids, powered in part by energy generated by the sun and wind. The conversion of these trucks will deliver a 50% improvement in miles driven per gallon, reduce operating costs, extend the life of the vehicles, and increase the overall range of SDG&E’s fleet.
  9. Lucid Air launchStartup electric carmaker Lucid Motors, formerly known as Atieva, unveiled its Air “executive sedan” last week, which the company says will be able to travel up to 400 miles on a charge. That power will be stored in a 100 kWh battery pack, and its motor will be able to hit up to 1,000 in horsepower. The company is taking deposits on the car now and plans to begin deliveries in early 2019. A company executive acknowledged it’s an ambitious plan to roll out its first car in two years, but also said the company is confident it will be reached.
  10. Boring concept:  Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted several times over the weekend about his next grand, visionary dream: digging a below-ground tunnel for some sort of vehicle to deliver passengers. “Traffic is driving me nuts. Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging …” he posted on Twitter. That was followed with more. “It shall be called the Boring Company”, and another tweet read: “Boring, it’s what we do.” Will these be Hyperloop pods traveling at lightning speeds underground? We’ll have to wait to read more.

This Week’s Top 10: Federal autonomous vehicle guidelines emphasize innovation and safety, Details released on Chevy Bolt

by Jon LeSage, editor and publisher, Green Auto Market

Here’s my take on the 10 most significant and interesting occurrences during the past week…….

  1. Nissan Leaf autonomousFeds issue self-driving car guidelines: Long-awaited federal guidelines have been issued on self-driving cars. Late yesterday, Anthony Foxx, secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation and Jeffrey Zients, director of the National Economic Council, released guidelines that encourage technology innovations from automakers and suppliers balanced with concerns over public safety. The DOT does recommend having uniform national standards for autonomous vehicles, and states will be included in the process. Several states have been years ahead of the federal government on issuing testing standards. That was part of the DOT’s 15-point safety standard for the design and development of autonomous vehicles. The agency also clarified how current regulations can be applied to self-driving cars, and other contested issues. The federal government is encouraging innovators like Tesla, Google, Apple, Ford, Intel, and others, to continue testing and developing autonomous technologies. Tesla’s fatalities in incidents where the Autopilot semiautonomous systems was involved will be closely scrutinized, along with these new federal guidelines, as the nascent technology moves forward.
  2. Details released on Chevy Bolt: Pricing of the all-electric Chevy Bolt starts at $37,495 for the LT trim, with the higher-end Premier trim starting at $40,905. With the federal tax credit, purchasing a Bolt when it rolls out late this year will start at $29,995 for the starting price. Last week, General Motors announced the Bolt will be able to travel 238 miles on a single charge through its 60 kWh battery. For those willing to pay for the Premium level, the Bolt will receive a 360-degree camera system, leather seats, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert, and options for forward collision alert, lane departure warning, and several other features.
  3. Clean Technology Forum: Sacramento Clean Cities Coalition is hosting its annual fall conference, the Northern California Clean Technology Forum, Oct. 19-20, at the California Automobile Museum in Sacramento. The event brings together regional and national fleet managers and industry stakeholders to explore available technology and vehicle options, as well as looking at policies, incentives, and regulations helping to move the market. CALSTART Senior Vice President Bill Van Amburg will speak on the state of the clean commercial vehicle industry, funding and incentives, future technologies and issues, and vehicle electrification. Another featured speaker will be Bill Griffiths from Montgomery County, Maryland; he was a 2015 fleet manager of the year award winner. This year’s awards will be presented on the opening night reception on Oct. 19 to five award categories: Public Fleet, Private Fleet, Individual, Lifetime Achievement “Career,” and Lifetime Achievement “Superior Accomplishment.” The conference also includes a medium-and heavy-duty Ride & Drive. There is no charge for these activities. You can register here.
  4. VW concept car: Volkswagen sent out teaser photos of an electric car that VW says will be compact and long range. It will be an integral part of the German automaker emerging from its “dirty diesel” scandal; the company expects the concept car to roll out in 2018 or 2019. It will be the first car to be built on VW’s new MEB (modular electrification kit) platform, the company said in a statement. VW is pitching the car for being as “revolutionary as the Beetle was seven decades ago.”
  5. Autonomous vehicles fast approaching, Lyft exec says: Self-driving cars will show up in real numbers five years from now, and ride-hailing firms will take the lead. That’s according to an exclusive Time interview with John Zimmer, Lyft’s cofounder and president. He doesn’t see consumers trading their cars for self-driving cars as much as consumers paying for trips in self-driving cars that they don’t own. Car ownership will “all but end” in major U.S. cities within 10 years, according to Zimmer. Zimmer’s interview was published days after Uber began adding riders to its self-driving vehicle test runs in Philadelphia, the first time this experience has been made available to the general public.
  6. Tesla makes energy deal with SCE: Tesla Energy will supply 20 megawatts of energy storage to Southern California Edison – enough to power about 2,500 homes for a full day, according to Tesla. The Tesla Energy batteries will make up the biggest lithium-ion battery project in the world in total megawatt hours, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The deal with SCE comes from the utility’s efforts to prevent blackouts by fossil-fuel electricity generation with lithium-ion batteries.
  7. BYD expanding California plant: Chinese automaker BYD said that it’s launched the second of three expansion phases at its manufacturing plant in Lancaster, Calif., which will add an additional 40,000 square feet added to the existing facility. The company currently employs about 400 people working at the plant, with plans to triple employment. That’s coming from increased demand for its electric coaches and buses, along with new medium- and heavy-duty trucks. When asked if BYD plans to produce light vehicles in the U.S. (such as popular electric car models sold in China), a company spokesman declined to comment.
  8. Auto suppliers bullish on 2025 targets: Calstart recently conducted a survey of 23 suppliers selling parts directly to automakers. Seventy percent of the companies surveyed think that the U.S. shouldn’t back away from its 2025 fuel economy and emissions goal, according to John Boesel, president of Calstart. Fifty-nine percent said the target is creating job growth, according to the study.
  9. NGV sales forecast: According to Navigant Research, global annual natural gas vehicle sales are expected to grow from 2.4 million vehicles in 2015 to 3.9 million in 2025. Nearly 40 million light duty NGVs are expected to be on roads around the world by 2025. Several regions of the world have substantial markets for natural gas vehicles that are expected to continue growing over the next decade, but at a slower pace than what was projected prior to the drop in petroleum prices. Additional issues could hinder growth prospects, including ongoing political tensions in Eastern Europe that could affect supply and the prices of gas exports from Russia to Western Europe. Another trend to follow will be battery suppliers making major gains in battery cost reduction and capacity; making EVs more competitive compared to NGVs.
  10. Uber in Detroit: Uber will be adding Detroit to its office locations, to work with automakers and top suppliers. At an event hosted today by Society of Automotive Engineers in the Detroit area, Uber’s vice president of global vehicle programs Sherif Marakby announced that the company is planning on opening a facility in the Detroit area. The news follows Uber’s launch of a self-driving car test project in Pittsburgh last week that makes rides available to the general public. Uber will be looking for Tier 1 suppliers to design its hardware, he said. He also mentioned that Uber will be looking to work with automakers in that area to develop and modify its autonomous fleet.

This Week’s Top 10: Future of Mobility panel at AltCar Expo, Apple cutting back on self-driving and electric car project

by Jon LeSage, editor and publisher, Green Auto Market

Here’s my take on the 10 most significant and interesting occurrences during the past week…….

  1. AltCar Expo logoAltCar Expo coming up: The City of Santa Monica will present the 11th annual AltCar Expo on Sept. 16-17, dedicated to alternative fuel vehicles and alternative modes of transportation. On Friday, Sept. 16, Green Auto Market Editor Jon LeSage will be part of a panel on the Future of Mobility. Moderated by Hilary Norton, CEO of FAST, the lively panel will also include Michael Brylawski, CEO of Evercar; Delilah Lanoix, Co-Founder of ButterFli; Francie Stefan, City of Santa Monica’s Mobility Planning Manager; and Kat Urquhart, LEV Policy Consultant. On Saturday, Sept. 17, AltCar will be celebrating the 10th Anniversary of “Who Killed the Electric Car?” with a special screening and panel discussion with Chris Paine, Dean Devlin, and special guests. Paine will present journalist Dan Neil with the 1st Annual AltCar Disrupter Award. The two-day event will be held at the Santa Monica Civic parking lot and East Wing, 1855 Main St., Santa Monica, CA, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. each day, and is free to the public. It’s a great opportunity to check out and drive the latest in clean vehicles, including trucks being used by fleets.
  2. Apple downsizing: Apple has been cutting back on its investment in autonomous, electric vehicles; it may become more of a tech supplier than an automaker. Apple has laid off dozens of employees and closed off parts of its Titan project, sources told the New York Times. In July, the company handed over leadership of the project to Bob Mansfield, a prominent Apple veteran who had left the company’s executive team in 2013. He was asked to come back following a phase of fast growth and problems for the project. During the latest round, Apple employees were told that the layoffs were part of a “reboot” of the car project. Autonomous vehicle testing is continuing on closed tracks, sources said.
  3. Autopilot upgrade: While launch of the Autopilot upgrade was a week overdue, Tesla did put out Version 8 over the weekend. CEO Elon Musk told reporters during a conference call on Sunday that the upgrade likely would have prevented the May fatality in Florida attributed to the Autopilot system. A Tesla blog post described how the Autopilot upgrade will be able to tap into its radar, rather than cameras, to improve accuracy and rapidly respond to hazards through more advanced signal processing from the radar.
  4. BMW strategy: Pre-orders of the Tesla Model 3 has caused BMW’s management board to hold a strategic meeting in lieu of attending the Paris Motor Show. German rivals Daimler and Volkswagen have also pressed the issue with aggressive electrification campaigns; the VW emissions scandal and advancements in electric car batteries have had their influence as well. BMW has had internal debate over whether to accelerate development of new electric cars, given its expensive early investments into the technology and lackluster sales of the BMW i3, which had only 25,000 deliveries last year.
  5. Using RNG in transit: A webinar will be held on Sept. 21, at 11:00 a.m. PDT, for stakeholders in the transit industry on how near-zero emission engines using ultra-low-carbon renewable natural gas (RNG) can provide an affordable strategy to achieve major reductions in emissions of criteria pollutants, air toxins, and greenhouse gases from California’s transit sector. The Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) will be hosting the webinar on the California Air Resources Board’s new emission regulations for transit agencies called the Advanced Clean Transit Rule and how this engine-fuel combination offers the lowest overall emission profile among all commercially available advanced transit technologies. To register for the webinar and to read the full speaker bios, click here.
  6. Ford Smart Mobility: Ford has forged alliances with two mobility services through the acquisition of San Francisco-based shuttle service Chariot and a partnership with bike-share company Motivate. The deals were made under the recently formed Ford Smart Mobility Program, led by office furniture maker Steelcase’s former CEO Jim Hackett. Ford CEO Mark Fields has been talking regularly about the company’s mission to move beyond vehicle manufacturing and sales and over to mobility, electrification, and a self-driving car service.
  7. Details released on Revero: Karma Automotive released more information on the Revero plug-in hybrid. The price will be about $30,000 more than the Fisker Karma, starting at $130,000. It can go 50 miles on battery power, and can travel a total of about 300 miles on gasoline and battery power. A solar roof will provide some of the power used by the electric motor. Another new feature is that it will be DC fast-charging capable.
  8. Nissan Rogue: At the Miami Auto Show, Nissan launched a hybrid version of the refreshed 2017 Rogue crossover. It can go 33 mpg city, 35 highway, and 34 combined. It also comes in an all-wheel drive model, with slightly less lower mileage numbers.
  9. Climate change laws: California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law SB32 and AB197 which increases the climate change law to reducing emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. David Reichmuth, senior engineer, clean vehicles at Union of Concerned Scientists, explored some of the issues that will affect clean transportation from the new laws. Read his article for the overview and a few interesting facts, such as: plug-in electric vehicle rebates will not be available for plug-in hybrids that have lower than 20 miles of range, and those households that make more than $300,000 per year will be ineligible ($150,000 for single filers).
  10. A123 and Argonne making long-range batteries: Lithium-ion battery maker A123 Systems made an agreement with Argonne National Laboratory – a cathode development program for making safe lithium-ion batteries with high energy densities and long lifetimes. A123 will take its experience and scientific talent to commercialize advances in nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC) technology originally developed by Argonne, the company said. A123 predicts the joint project will more than a 60% increase in energy density over its current products, with a corresponding increase in electric range for the vehicles it supplies.

This Week’s Top 10: Automakers speak to tough question at EVS29, Daimler may roll out a new electric car brand

by Jon LeSage, editor and publisher, Green Auto Market

Here’s my take on the 10 most significant and interesting occurrences during the past week…….

  1. 2016 Chevrolet VoltIncreasing EV sales: How will U.S. new vehicle sales go from less than 1% to more than 10% plug-in electric vehicle sales? Automaker speaker panelists at EVS29 in Montreal addressed the issues. Robert Langford, American Honda Motor Co. manager of electric vehicle sales, is enthusiastic about the new products coming out of the pipeline but warns that charging stations need to be increase at multi-unit residential complexes; and that charging stations need to become more compatible. Britta Gross, director of advanced vehicle commercialization policy at General Motors thinks that automakers need to spend more on marketing to communicate the benefits of PEV ownership, whether that be by helping the planet or spending less on gasoline. If you don’t accompany in infrastructure of vehicle incentive program with an outreach campaign, you lose the battle, she said. Aaron Cohen, Audi of America’s general manager of electric vehicle strategy, thinks there needs to be coordination by key players – carmakers, electric utilities, charging companies, and federal, state and local governments. Brendan Jones, previously with Nissan and now with EVgo, talked about how challenging it can be get auto dealers and their sales consultants to spend more of their time selling EVs.
  2. Mercedes e-brand: Daimler AG is considering creating a new brand for the upcoming Mercedes electric vehicles. The report comes from German publication Handelsblatt, and coincides with what Ola Kallenius, Mercedes’ sales and marketing director in Britain, told Autocar – that the company is considering creating an eco-focused sub-brand to rival the likes of BMW’s i electric vehicle division. “The launch of the electric car brand is planned for September in Paris, where Mercedes-Benz wants to present a SUV model which is based on the current GLC model,” sources told Handelsblatt, and that it should go on sale next year.
  3. Notice on email address change for Green Auto Market: Please change your email setting to accept this newsletter from my email address The previous Gmail address used in the “From” section,, had to be changed over to another address on Constant Contact. That comes from a new Google policy on its Gmail service for email authentication protocol to prevent spam.
  4. North American EV sales: Navigant Research predicts a large increase in North American plug-in electric vehicle sales – 62% this year over last year, nearing 200,000 units sold. Next year will likely boost the market by around 60%, and then nearly double the market in 2018. Navigant expects it to be driven by the Tesla Model X, the second-generation Volt, Chevrolet Bolt, Prius Prime, and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. The boost in 2017-2018 sales is expected to come from introduction of the Tesla Model 3.
  5. Dragon Racing team: Faraday Future announced it is now the title sponsor and core technical partner to the Dragon Racing team. Under the new team name Faraday Future Dragon Racing, the partners will compete in the third season of the Formula E championship running from 2016 to 2017. After competing in Season 3, the team will start using Faraday components, which could include motors, gearboxes, and the FF Echelon Inverter, the same inverter that will be installed on every Faraday Future vehicle that comes to market in the future.
  6. Tesla chargers at gas stations: Tesla Motors will be installing charging stations at gas stations through a partnership with Sheetz gasoline. Sheetz operates hundreds of retail outlets across six states, mostly in the mid-Atlantic region. These may be Supercharger or Level 2 chargers, or a combination of both. That announcement followed a previous, recent news item about Tesla setting up a retail outlet with Nordstrom starting at a test site in Los Angeles. Following the Sheetz gas station announcement, Ruby Tuesday restaurants announced that it has begun installing a series of Tesla Supercharges at its locations along important routes across the country. The first one opened up at the Ruby Tuesday location in Miner, Miss.
  7. Vision Next 100: BMW is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year with futuristic concept cars for its BMW brand and its Rolls-Royce and Mini brands as well. All three wear the “Vision Next 100” name, referencing BMW’s intent to predict the direction car design will take over the next century. The Rolls-Royce Vision Next 100 concept is expected to combine an electric powertrain and autonomous driving with some of the British luxury carmaker’s more traditional design elements.
  8. Carbon rules for biodiesel and renewable diesel: California Air Resources Board released a set of carbon intensity pathways June 30 for biodiesel and renewable diesel pathways. It’s being certified under the readopted low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) regulation using the CA-GREET 2.0 model. These pathways include both new applications and requests to have legacy pathways, or pathways adopted under the earlier LCFS rule, recertified, according to CARB.
  9. Why ExxonMobil may be supporting carbon taxes: ExxonMobil is lobbying for a revenue-neutral carbon tax in Congress. Some of it may be coming from its transformation in recent years to being the leading producer of natural gas in the U.S.; the oil giant is in a strong position to supply more natural gas to electric utilities to help them reduce their coal consumption. It may also be related to a scandal in the past year about ExxonMobil having known about the dangers of climate change from burning fossil fuels decades ago and conspiring to keep that information from the public.
  10. BMW deal with Mobileye and Intel: BMW Group is forming a development partnership for autonomous vehicle technology with Mobileye and Intel. Mobileye is known for providing cameras, software, and other components that allow vehicles to see the world around them to a few automakers. Intel still holds the lead on the global computer-processor market, but is fairly new to automotive. Going this route will make it more competitive with Silicon Valley competitors Google and Apple.


Highlights from EVS29 in Montreal as Conference Returns to North America

EVS29 logoThe largest electric vehicle conference of the year returned to North America. Electric Vehicle Symposium & Exhibition (EVS29) was held June 19-22 in Montreal with about 2,000 attendees participating in speaker sessions and workshops – and an opportunity to test drive EVs. The international event showcased EVs and charging infrastructure from Québec and all over the world. Sponsors included Nissan, Toyota, the provinces of Quebec and Ontario, Hydro Quebec, Investissement Québec, and Charged Electric Vehicle Magazine; the event was organized and hosted by Electric Drive Transportation Association. (Editor’s note: EVS30 will be the 30th EVS venue since 1969 and it will be held next year in Stuttgart, Germany.)

Here were some of the highlights from the annual event:

BMW introduced its energy storage system that taps into the resources of its BMW i3 vehicle battery – and that can be integrated seamlessly with charging stations and solar panels. The system utilizes BMW i3 high-voltage batteries and can be expanded to incorporate second-life batteries as they become available in the market, BMW says. Users of the energy storage system can offset peak energy costs and will have access to backup energy supply during power outages. BMW is adding its new product to the energy story market segment that others automakers had previously entered including Tesla, Daimler, and Nissan.

The Ride, Drive & Charge event organized by EVS29 offered the general public the opportunity to test drive some of the electric cars available on the market in Canada. Car manufacturers will made their latest electric car models available to the public. A side event was held on Sunday, June 19, with an EV parade featuring electrified vehicles including bicycles, delivery vehicles, and cars parading downtown from Palais des congrès.

City of Amsterdam won AVERE’s E-Visionary Award for the second time for continuous efforts in developing e-mobility in the broadest way, including charging infrastructure, taxis, tourist boats, and much more. AVERE is the European association for electromobility. Jury members awarded Amsterdam for its long and solid track record of promoting the use of EVs in the city, putting an effective charging infrastructure in place and promoting in general the transition to electromobility. The targets and the ambitious timing set for zero emission taxis, buses, small delivery vehicles, light vehicles, and boats, were recognized. The E-Visionary Award for North America (chosen by the EDTA & Electric Mobility Canada) was given to the City of Montreal. Professor CC Chan from EVAAP – and World Electric Vehicle Association founder – presented the Asia-Pacific E-visionary Award to the Hon. DU Peng, Consul of the Peoples Republic of China to Quebec for outstanding efforts in the field of E-Mobility by the City of Hefei.

See the EVS29 social media pages on Twitter (@EVSymposium29) and Facebook for highlights from speakers and the exhibit hall. Audiences learned more about Canadian transit districts bringing in electric buses; Montreal Mayor accepting the WEVA e-Visionary award as his city leads the charge for electric mobility; and Parliamentary Secretary Kim Rudd to the Honorable Jim Carr, Minister of Natural Resources, giving keynote remarks during the opening plenary.

Highlights from speaker panels included:

  • Takuma Takeuchi of the University of Tokyo spoke on wireless in-wheel motors that he said can make EVs more efficient. The technology could enable induction charging directly from coils embedded in roadways, which would eliminate the need for on-board batteries entirely. The version that the University of Tokyo is working on replaces the cables that carry electricity from the battery to the wheels with magnetic coils that send power through the air.
  • Hydro-Québec announced the electrification of Highway 20, one of Québec’s busiest corridors, between Montréal and Mont-Joli. New fast-charge stations in Daveluyville and Laurier-Station will be in addition to the existing stations in Sainte-Julie, Drummondville and Lévis. A sixth charging station will be available this fall at the St-Hubert restaurant in St-Hyacinthe. Results of a pilot project were also discussed, which was run by the Hydro-Québec’s research institute, IREQ, and aimed to test power exchanges between electric vehicle batteries and homes or the electrical system.
  • Martin Bruell of Continental AG, Germany, revealed progress on elimination of the on-board charger (OBC). In a paper, “Bidirectional Charge- and Traction-System” he reported, “We have developed a cost-efficient solution for E-Mobility targeting all kinds of conductive charging. It solves the chicken-and-egg problem of investment for fast charging electronics by reusing existing electronics in the car. It makes the charging station as simple as possible, which is AC charging. Furthermore all conductive charging interfaces can be used when the BCTS is installed.”
  • New EV telematics service: FleetCarma, a provider of telematics systems for electric vehicles, announced at EVS29 the launch of a new product for fleets seeking to increase the number of electric vehicles they operate. Fleets connecting the new telematics device, named the C2, to gasoline, diesel, and hybrid vehicles in their fleet receive the immediate benefits of standard telematics, while the system also uses the operational data to identify optimal vehicles for replacement with electric vehicles. The single telematics system provides immediate telematics benefits on the gasoline and diesel vehicles while providing the long term benefits of optimized electric vehicle deployment.
  • Nissan Leaf going farther on a charge: As reported last week (along with the FleetCarma announcement), Tthe next-generation Nissan Leaf will be able to travel more than 200 miles per charge from its 60-kWh battery, said Kazuo Yajima, Nissan’s global director of EV and HEV engineering. Watch AutoblogGreen’s Sebastian Blanco doing a video report on what it’s like this week in the expo hall at EVS29. You can hear Yajima talk about Nissan’s new battery pack during the video.
  • The Institut de recherche sur l’hydrogène (IRH) at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, together with Toyota Canada representatives and Quebec’s Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Pierre Arcand, invited media to an event to express their desire to position the province as a leader in sustainable mobility. The recently unveiled energy plan makes hydrogen and fuel cell electric vehicles an integral part, with a Toyota Mirai vehicle display.