For Today: BMW up in plug-in sales, Sustainable fleet series at AltCar Expo

BMW up in plug-in sales:  BMW and Mini sold 8,138 electric vehicles in July, up 52.7% year-over-year. Models come under the BMW i and BMW iPerformance brands, along with the new plug-in hybrid Mini. Plug-in vehicles made up 4.5% of marketshare for all of the company’s vehicle sold last month. For the year, the automaker has delivered 50,711 plug-in vehicles, up a huge gain of 74.8% for the year.

Governments competing for autonomous vehicle mantle:  The push for autonomous technology is pitting cities and states against each other in a race to be the first to lead the way. The payoff is expected to come from economic gains and bragging rights in technology innovation; not to mention other gains expected from self-driving vehicles. Nevada and Michigan are implementing several test projects, and California continues to play a leading role. Strategy Analytics, a research firm, predicts that the “passenger economy,” a segment emerging based on autonomous vehicles will grow from $800 billion to $7 trillion by 2050.

Sustainable Fleet Series:  Early bird registration of $18 will end August 18th for fleet managers, sustainability directors, business owners, legislators, and others attending AltCar Expo & Conference. This will take place Friday, Sept. 15, 2017, at the Santa Monica Civic’s East Wing. Use the registration code AC17EB for the 67% discount. The Sustainable Fleet Series is a brand new seminar offered by NAFA,  with writing a Sustainable Fleet Plan being one of the topics discussed. This introductory session will be available to those attending AltCar 2017, the 12th annual conference sponsored by the city of Santa Monica.

 

 

 

For Today: UK banning gasoline and diesel powered cars, Get ready for AltCar Expo

UK banning fossil-fuel powered cars:  The United Kingdom will be banning the sale of vehicles powered by gasoline and diesel by 2040, and would like to see all them off their roads by 2050. The UK follows France, which decided to ban all fossil-fuel powered vehicles by 2040. The mayors of London, Paris, Madrid, Mexico City, and Athens are developing their own policies for clean air and climate change, would like to ban diesel vehicles. The British government has faced legal pressure from a series of lawsuits, and the national government has been taking steps to scrap diesel-powered cars. Nearly 200 million pounds (about $261 million) will go to local governments in the UK to help them restrict access by diesel-powered vehicles to extremely polluted roads. Battery electric vehicles will probably be the route chosen by the national government to replace gasoline and diesel powered cars.

M-B motorsports joining Formula E:  Mercedes-Benz will be joining ranks with other automakers by competing in the Formula E electric racing series starting in the 2019-2020 racing season. In 2018, the automaker’s motorsports division will finish its long-term involvement with German racing series Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) to focus on Formula E. The company has been committed to racing and transitioning over to eco-friendly vehicles in recent years, including winning championships with its hybrid technology in the Formula One series. Mercedes-Benz will becomes the ninth auto manufacturer to join the series. Other automakers include Audi, BMW, Citroen DS, Jaguar, Mahindra, Renault, and electric carmaker startups Nio and Faraday Future.

Get ready for AltCar Expo:  The AltCar Expo & Conference, now in its 12th year, will be taking place in Santa Monica, Calif., on Sept. 15-16, 2017. The free admission two-day event features a series of speaker panels on pressing topics for fleets, government officials, vehicle manufacturers, technology companies, and enthusiasts interested in the issues and trying out the vehicles. AltCar Expo offers the best Ride & Drive out there, with several green cars to drive and a few commercial fleet vehicles to see. With the Trump administration deciding to exit the Paris climate accord, leaders are looking for other channels to address the issues; that includes the role California is playing.

“AltCar Expo was created to provide a forum for both industry and the general public to learn about existing alternatives to the way they use energy and transportation,” said Christine Dzilvelis, Organizing Partner of AltCar Expo. “Today, 52 percent of all Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) purchases are happening in California, and our state continues to lead the nation as it relates to clean energy policies that are driving national and global change. Our intention is for California to continue to lead in this area, and AltCar offers a venue to generate awareness about existing and future technologies and encourage their use.”

This Week’s Top 10: Karma Revero launches with solar roof, AltCar Expo announces speakers

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. Karma Revero launch: Karma Automotive has officially launched the Karma Revero luxury plug-in hybrid sports car built on the Fisker Karma platform. The company said that one of its Karma Revero launch photoinnovative features is a solar-powered roof. It looks like the original Karma, but it does have a few added features. The previous Karma had access to a solar panel to power the 12-volt battery linked to the air conditioning system. Now the solar panel provides power to the high-voltage battery. It also comes with a completely redesigned infotainment system and super-charging capabilities. Karma Automotive is setting up a networking of franchised luxury brand dealers and its own corporate stores, similar to what Tesla has been opening up. “Serving a mass market is not, and never will be, our purpose,” said Jim Taylor, chief revenue officer. “The Revero is for a discerning group of individuals who desire beautiful, clean vehicles and a memorable ownership experience. We are thrilled to start this journey.”
  2. AltCar Expo: 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 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. On Friday, Sept. 16, Jon LeSage from Green Auto Market will lead a panel on the Future of Mobility. The lively panel discussion features Hilary Norton from FAST, Delilah Lanoix Harris with ButterFli, and Michael Brylawski from Evercar, and will discuss how the changes will affect fleets as well as consumers. The two-day event will be held at the Santa Monica Civic parking lot and East Wing, 1855 Main St., Santa Monica, CA, Friday, Sept. 16 and Saturday, Sept. 17, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and is free to the public.
  3. Subaru electric crossover: Subaru will be launching its first plug-in model, an all-wheel-drive electric crossover in the U.S. by 2021 to meet more stringent emissions regulations, according to a Japanese media source. The Japanese automaker will be releasing a midsize vehicle based on its Forester or Outback, according to an unidentified source. It will be based on a new global platform that its parent company, Fuji Heavy Industries, released earlier this year.
  4. Sierra Club study on EV sales experience: Dealers looking for an opportunity to grow another profit center in electric vehicle sales would do well to not only compete with Tesla but with franchised dealers in their metro areas. The Sierra Club sent a group of mystery shoppers to dealerships and Tesla stores to experience the EV sales process. This took place at 308 dealer locations and Tesla stores in California and nine other states following California’s zero emission vehicle mandates. About a third of the time, sales staff didn’t discuss federal tax and state rebate incentives; 14 percent of the dealerships didn’t have the cars sufficiently charged for a test drive, including at 22 percent of the Chevy dealerships and at 21 percent of the Ford dealerships visited. Only about half of the sales staff provided information on how to charge the EVs.
  5. Vehicle emissions bill in California: A new bill in Sacramento, which will likely be introduced this week by Los Angeles Assembly woman Autumn Burke, will propose that 15% of all new vehicles sold in the state be emissions-free within a decade. That would clash with the current zero emissions vehicle mandate calling for the same percentage by 2025, but with automakers having flexibility in meeting sales targets based on credit trading. California is facing a political fight over the future of the climate change law and the role vehicles and transportation will play. Burke thinks that the bill will increase pressure on automakers to transition over to more zero emission vehicles.
  6. GM ownership in Lyft: General Motors will not be increasing its investment in Lyft at this time, according to the companies. Silicon Valley website, The Information, reported that Lyft declined an offer from GM to increase its ownership stake from the current level of 9% up to 100%. The site attributes the report to a “person briefed on the situation.” Lyft was valued at $5.5 billion when GM bought its stake earlier this year. GM President Dan Ammann joined Lyft’s board of directors as part of the investment agreement.
  7. Germany clears VW diesel car fixes: Volkswagen AG gained approval in Germany to carry out fixes on 460,000 diesel cars using software that cheats emissions tests. The approval from the Federal Motor Transport Authority is valid for countries throughout Europe. It applies to models with 1.2-liter EA189 engines including the Volkswagen Polo and Seat Ibiza. German regulators have already cleared about 4.5 million vehicles in a process the automaker expects to complete by the end of this year.
  8. Investigating Koch brothers’ campaign for fossil fuels: “Discover the Value and Potential of Domestic Oil and Natural Gas,” says the Fueling U.S. Forward website. It’s part of brothers Charles and David Koch’s $10 million campaign to improve public opinion and support for oil and gas, and to attack electric vehicle and clean energy regulations. The campaign is being led by Charles Drevna, a long time pro-oil lobbyist who spent years at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, and most recently was a senior fellow at the Koch-funded Institute for Energy Research. You can also visit a new site launched to counter this Koch-backed campaign, called KochVsClean.com. Here you can find more information on Fueling U.S. Forward and much more research on this latest attack by the Koch brothers network.
  9. China may adopt ZEV rules: China’s national government is considering following California’s lead on the zero emission vehicle mandate. China has contributed generously to its new vehicle incentive program, which has helped significantly boost EV sales in the country in recent years. Those incentives will be ending in 2020, and the government is looking into alternatives in support of its “new-energy vehicles” campaign. California’s credit-based system for automakers may gain support in China.
  10. Tesla edits Chinese website: Tesla Motors removed a Chinese term for “self-driving” from its China website. It follows a Chinese Tesla owner claiming Tesla store employees misrepresented the fully autonomous capabilities of the Autopilot features. The Tesla driver crashed earlier this month while on a Beijing highway after the car failed to avoid a vehicle parked on the left side but partially in the roadway. Both cars were damaged but no passengers were injured.

Big Picture: Hydrogen FCEVs facing rite of passage; Dates announced on two alt-fuel vehicle conferences

Toyota FCVTo paraphrase the Kevin Costner movie, “Field of Dreams” – If you build it, they will come.

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles continue to struggle with “chicken or the egg” quandary. There’s only a slim hydrogen refueling infrastructure in the US, and the questions of how much fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) will be priced for and how serious car shoppers will take the products and pricing are far from being answered. Plug-in electric vehicle loyalists like Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk tend to scoff at FCEVs. Yet, other automakers seem to be taking these vehicles seriously.

Hyundai is preparing to launch a fuel cell crossover in the US next year. Hyundai’s president of research and development Kwon Moon-sik thinks cost factors are pointing the company in the direction of FCEVs instead of batteries. Several of his auto industry colleagues share that perspective. Kwon says that advanced lithium ion batteries in electric vehicles remain expensive, and he sees few opportunities for cost reductions coming soon. He thinks hydrogen fuel cells offer more hope for volume savings. The zero emissions part of FCEVs also offers appeal to automakers. Executives at Toyota, Honda, Daimler, General Motors, Ford, and Nissan are mapping out FCEV launches between 2015 and 2020; some of them share Kwon’s perspectives about the cost of FCEVs falling. It’s all part of the partnership alliance formed earlier this year on fuel cell systems between GM and Honda; and another, similar alliance between Nissan, Daimler, and Ford.

The process does require patience. Hyundai already started production of a hydrogen-powered version of its Tucson crossover; the company plans to produce only 1,000 units for sale globally by 2015. Toyota just offered a sneak peak at its FCV concept hydrogen-powered vehicle that it plans to roll out in 2015 (see photo above); the company is hoping to use it to popularize FCEVs as the Prius did for hybrids. “We think it could be the best zero emissions solution that hits the market,” said Bill Fay, general manager of Toyota’s US sale division.

Honda has helped car show attendees gain enthusiasm for FCEVs after driving its limited production FCX Clarity. Another FCEV will be joining the Honda lineup; the automaker just put out a sketch that hints at what will be shown at the upcoming Los Angeles Auto Show. Honda says the new FCEV Concept expresses a “potential styling direction” for a next-generation FCEV due in 2015. Honda appears to be preparing for competition from Toyota’s FCEV being launched that same year.

As for the limited number of hydrogen refueling stations, California plans to open 68 more of them by 2015. There are only nine open in the state now; 19 are in development and another 12 private or demonstration stations are operational. The governor recently signed a bill offering funding for 100 hydrogen fueling stations in the state. California is also thinking about changing its tax credit system so that it would stop favoring plug-in electric vehicles over FCEVs. The US Dept. of Energy continues to make amends with the hydrogen and fuel cell communities through its H2USA program launched in May. It’s a public-private partnership with Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, and Toyota to promote development of the hydrogen refueling infrastructure. The Obama administration just announced a $4 million grant for research into hydrogen fuel storage systems. Then-California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger might have aided the skeptics with his campaign nearly 10 years ago for the “hydrogen highway” to come soon; but steps are being taken forward these days.

Northern California AltCar Expo and ACT Expo release dates
Two significant alt-fuel vehicle conferences have been scheduled. AltCar Expo is seeing its partnership with Bay Area Air Quality Management District come together. The Northern California AltCar Conference & Expo will take place on Friday and Saturday, March 14-15, 2014, at the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond, Calif. Check out the event’s website to stay current on the schedule.

The Alternative Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo is looking forward to seeing its record attendance numbers go up yet again. Next year’s conference has been scheduled May 5-8, 2014, back at the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, Calif. It will be co-located with the 14th biennial NGV Global Conference and Exposition. “Merging North America’s largest clean fleet expo with the world’s leading natural gas vehicle conference will result in the largest gathering of clean transportation stakeholders that North America has ever seen,” Erik Neandross, CEO of event manager Gladstein, Neandross and Associates, said in the press release.

Clean Cities offers AFLEET tools and mobile app for stations
Argonne National Laboratory has developed the Alternative Fuel Life-Cycle Environmental and Economic Transportation (AFLEET) Tool for Clean Cities stakeholders to estimate petroleum use, greenhouse gas emissions, air pollutant emissions, and cost of ownership of light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles using simple spreadsheet inputs. The US Dept. of Energy’s Clean Cities Program enlisted the expertise of Argonne to develop a tool to examine both the environmental and economic costs and benefits of alternative fuel and advanced vehicles. You can download the AFLEET tool in Excel and user guide in PDF free of charge at this website.

The tool provides three calculation methods depending on the user’s goals. The Simple Payback Calculator examines acquisition and annual operating costs to calculate a simple payback for purchasing a new alternative fuel vehicle as compared to a similar conventional vehicle, as well as average annual petroleum use, greenhouse gases (GHGs), and air pollutant emissions. The Total Cost of Ownership Calculator evaluates the net present value of operating and fixed costs over the years of planned ownership of a new vehicle, as well as lifetime petroleum use, GHGs, and air pollutant emissions. The Fleet Energy and Emissions Footprint Calculator estimates the annual petroleum use, GHGs, and air pollutant emissions of existing and new vehicles; it takes into consideration that older vehicles typically have higher air pollutant emission rates than newer ones.

For those seeking information on more than 15,000 charging and alternative fuel stations within the US, Clean Cities and National Renewable Energy Laboratory now have a mobile app for iPhone or iPad users. You can quickly find out where EV public charging stations, and fueling pumps for B20 biodiesel, compress and liquefied natural gas, E85 ethanol, hydrogen, and propane, can be found.

But wait, there’s more!……..

  • Brett Hauser, a founding member of the Open Charge Alliance (OCA), a global consortium of public and private electric vehicle infrastructure leaders, and president of Greenlots, had a few things to say about the solutions offered by open standards for electric vehicle charging stations instead of proprietary networks. Here’s a little bit of what he wrote in Greentechmedia….. Charging networks based on open communications standards are an excellent alternative to proprietary networks and have been future-proofing Europe’s EV networks for close to four years now. The open model provides site hosts the freedom to switch network management providers without having to purchase new charging stations. It also stimulates technical innovation by allowing free market competition to push down the costs of both charging station hardware and back-end software, while dramatically derisking the hardware purchase for site hosts.
  • Pricing is coming out on Cadillac’s extended-range ELR$75,995 as a starting price and there’s a marketing deal with the famous department store. For $89,500, you can buy the 2014 Saks Fifth Avenue ELR. You get a White Diamond exterior finish, a Jet Black or Light Cashmere interior shade, a 240-volt charger thrown in the deal, and a relationship with an “ELR Concierge Representative.” These are only available to 100 people, and General Motors only expects to sell a limited number of ELRs anyways.
  • Nissan/Renault chief Carlos Ghosn is backing off big numbers for electric vehicle sales targets. The global automaker was going to sell 1.5 million EVs by 2016. So far, it’s only been about 120,000 units, primarily Nissan Leafs. At the current speed, it’s going to take about five years longer than initially anticipated, he said.
  • Energy Vision is now offering a new publication, “Turning Waste into Vehicle Fuel.” Funded in part by Clean Cities, it’s a first-of-its-kind roadmap for cities, communities, farms, and other generators of organic waste to develop renewable natural gas.
  • Kia is planning on producing an electric version of its Soul crossover subcompact to arrive next year in the US. It will be Kia’s first EV sold outside South Korea and is expected to travel 120 miles on a single charge.