Uber and Lyft going public, Highlights from AltCar Expo speakers

Ride-hailing firms going public:  Uber and Lyft, the top rivals for the U.S. ride-hailing market, are engaged in another race to see who can launch a successful stock market public offering first. While Uber went through disastrous upheaval not long ago, CEO Uber Dara Khosrowshahi, who took over a little more than a year ago, appears to be reviving the ride-hailing giant. Uber may be getting a 2019 offering at a $120 billion valuation, far above recent private market levels. Lyft, meanwhile, could find a public valuation of over $15 billion, which is much closer to IPOs than what some analysts expect Uber to find next year in initial market value.

Musk going to Mars:  While 2018 is turning out the worst of times for Tesla CEO Elon Musk, things are looking brighter on the space transport side of the business — with his grand vision of taking passengers to Mars. His SpaceX company’s Big Falcon Booster will see a factory being built in the Port of Los Angeles, 15 miles south of the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne. SpaceX is getting a lot of support for its Mars mission from NASA, along with contracts for cargo delivery. Another federal agency, the Securities and Exchange Commission, has taken a dim view of Musk, but that’s getting worked out with a federal judge approving Musk’s settlement with the SEC. Musk’s mission to Mars goes back before he came over to Tesla. In 2002, he founded the space travel and exploration company through his frustration that NASA wasn’t doing enough to get humans to Mars. It’s typical to see him featured in interviews wearing his “Occupy Mars” t-shirt to get the message across.

Highlights from AltCar Expo:  AltCar Expo speakers talked about the key issues that government regulators, fleet managers, automakers, and technology partners are facing deploying clean vehicles and supporting clean fuels and energy in California. The popular ride-and-drive was a showcase for green vehicles of all types, including the debut of Electra Meccanica’s Solo single-passenger electric vehicle. The Audi etron 55 quattro was displayed and discussed in a panel by Audi of America’s Spencer Reeder; and attendees had a preview of the new Chanje V8100 Generation 2 Model of the electric van by the Chinese manufacturer.

Terry Tamminen, who now serves as CEO at the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, talked about the lack of clear understanding in the federal government over climate change and its devastating impact from Hurricane Michael and other signs of dire conditions. Former head of California’s Environmental Protection Agency and later Cabinet Secretary under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tammimen served as architect of key legislative changes including the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, the Hydrogen Highway Network, and the Million Solar Roofs Initiative. He sees California playing a critical role in the future of government policy and supporting growth in clean transportation. The state’s mandate to have 100% renewable energy by 2045, and tapping into more renewables to power the state’s energy grid, are signs of the state’s commitment to fight climate change. The cost of electricity dropping from $4 a watt when Schwarzenegger took office to under $1 a watt now is a sign the economic dynamics are coming together, as well, he said.

Santa Monica city council member, and Innogy e-Mobility US strategy and market development head, Terry O’Day, had a conversation with annual AltCar award winner Phillip Kobernick, Logistics Service Manager for County of Alameda, about the latest in Bay Area developments for clean vehicles and infrastructure. The county’s fleet now has 300 hybrid vehicles and 80 all-electric vehicles in its 1,300-vehicle fleet. Hybrid police patrol cars, motorpools, and car-sharing programs are supporting these efforts, he said. The County of Alameda and other government fleets in the region are tapping into incentives for chargers being purchased and installed, with the county reaching about 1,400 charger locations, he said. Kobernick offered three suggestions for meeting sustainability targets: gaining better data from EV usage patterns, similar to what’s available now on gasoline-engine vehicles; more charging options based on fleet vehicle duty cycles — such as when Level 1 charging can work and nighttime charging; and becoming smart users in the electricity grid — how to work with utilities on avoiding being penalized with extra fees during peak demand periods. He’s also interested in exploring whether battery swapping might work in EVs, such as police patrol cars that don’t have downtime to wait for charging.

Stay tuned for an upcoming video link in Green Auto Market that will show the Friday speakers. That will also include “Is California Past the Turning Point?” moderated by Marco Anderson, Southern California Association of Governments and featuring Clinton Bench of UCLA Transportation, Kobernick, and Ken Reichley of Southern California Edison. “Are Auto Makers Truly Committed to Low- and No-Emissions Technology?” was moderated by Sue Carpenter of KPCC “Take Two” and featured Anthony Luzi of Electra Meccanica and Spencer Reeder of Audi of America. Reeder also discussed where Volkswagen’s Electrify America program will be going in the next couple of years.

Green Auto Market switching from weekly to daily newsletter

Hello,

Starting tomorrow, Green Auto Market will be emailed out to readers daily. News coverage will be shared along with a central topic for the day significant in clean transportation.

The newsletter had originally been published monthly, and went weekly in the summer of 2013 once the website was launched.

As media colleagues have suggested, going daily is necessary. Daily content is needed to stay current and informed on the issues – and to stay relevant with readers.

The challenge for media sources, and for those receiving the information, is to not be consumed with information overload these days. We’re receiving a high volume of emails, newsletters, pings on our smartphones, and aggregated newsfeeds from Google, Amazon, Apple, and specialized sources.

The good news is that we have a lot more options to customize our interests and news sources. That helps readers stay informed and use their time well.

Green Auto Market will have news summaries and a focal point for the day:

  • Vehicle Launches & Demonstrations
  • Clean Fuels & Energy
  • Regulatory Climate
  • Fueling Infrastructure
  • Mobility & Innovation

Coverage will also explore critical developments in key global markets outside North America, including Europe, China, Japan, Korea, and India. Automakers, fuel and energy producers, technology companies, and policymakers, continue to see their approach shaped by economic globalization, trade agreements, corporate merges and joint ventures, and technology advancements shared across borders.

Thanks to those of you who leave comments, even if the article’s factual accuracy is questioned. Good to know, and your feedback is appreciated. To leave a comment, just click on the title and scroll down below the article for the Leave a Reply – Comment box.

The subscriber edition, Green Auto Market – Extended Edition, will continue to be published. It will go out at two-times-per week intervals. It provides readers with news analysis and market data trends covering hybrid and electric vehicle sales, fuel prices, regulatory issues, global market developments, and other topics. Those interested can subscribe here.

You can also follow Twitter and Facebook pages.

Thanks for being part of the readership.

Jon LeSage
Editor and Publisher
Green Auto Market

ACT Expo 2017: Highlights from clean transportation show themes and new product launches

Electrified trucks and buses, the significance of renewable natural gas, and growing interest among users in mobility services and automated transport, were leading topics at ACT Expo 2017 in Long Beach, Calif. The exhibit hall was filled with the latest clean vehicles, drivetrain components, and fueling infrastructure dispensers and stations available to the fleet market.

Electrified vehicles:  While several prominent electric work truck makers went out of business not too long ago, fleets now have a diverse selection of offerings to choose from companies that look ready to stay on the market and service the vehicles long-term. Vehicles include buses, shuttles, port drayage trucks, work pickup trucks, and delivery trucks.

Workhorse Group unveiled its W-15 electric concept pickup. It can go 80 miles per charge through its 60 kWh battery pack. Buyers can also pay for an extended range plug-in hybrid version that can go a total of 310 miles on electricity and gasoline. As reported in Green Auto Market, the company is seeing a lot of interest in the market, with letters of intent received for the purchase of 3,000 units from a few utility and government fleets. It has a starting price of $52,000 and its platform was built on the E-Gen electric technology used in Workhorse medium-duty delivery trucks. Along with emissions reduction benefits, the company said it the W-15 has 460 horsepower with the ability to carry 2,200 pounds in payload and tow 5,000 pounds.

Renewable natural gas:  One fleet manager told me how RNG has been taking off in California for municipal fleets, with major gas suppliers now offering the clean fuel and state incentives backing it. His natural gas used in the fleet has been made up of about half traditional natural gas and half RNG. The Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas and the California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition released a study forecasting the economic impact RNG is bringing to the state. Deploying trucks fueled by renewable natural gas could create up to 130,000 new jobs and add $14 billion to California’s economy. The ‘RNG Jobs Report’ says that a switch to renewable natural gas trucks could quickly help California achieve its air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, and climate change-related goals.

Award winners:  Fleet Owner’s Green Fleet of the Year: Walmart. The company, with its huge fleet of 6,400 tractors and 61,000 trailers, has seen several sustainability innovations adopted since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Like several transport companies and vehicle makers, the strategy has been corporate-wide, with fleet vehicles on part of it. Recently, 75% of Walmart’s global waste is diverted from landfills and 25% of its operations are powered by renewable energy sources. Since setting its sustainability targets in 2005, the company has removed about 35 million metric tons of carbon emissions from its supply chain despite its continuing growth over that time period.

ACT Expo awards:
Leading Carrier Fleet:  Saddle Creek Logistics Services. The carrier has 550 tractors with 250 of them powered by CNG moving through the southeast U.S.

Utility Fleet:  ForticBC. The British Columbia electric power and gas distribution utility now operates about 600 CNG and LNG heavy duty vehicles. The goal is bringing the fleet up to 50% alternative fuels by the end of 2018. The utility operates 15 CNG and seven LNG fueling stations.

Transit & Mobility Fleet:  North Kansas City School District. So far, 159 Type C school buses have been converted to run on CNG.

Private Fleet:  Frito-Lay, Inc. The company currently has 580 CNG freight trucks, 17 CNG public fueling stations, and 200 electric vehicles; that makes for the largest commercial EV fleet in the U.S.

Public Fleet:  City of Los Angeles. The city reported that 2,041 of its vehicles have been displaced from traditional internal combustion engine vehicles. The fleet is now made up of hybrid vehicles, CNG street sweepers, LNG and CNG refuse trucks, 143 LNG and CNG heavy-duty trucks, and 100% of LA DOT’s buses are green.

“In It For the Long Haul” award:  Waste Management, Inc. The company reported having 5,791 of its collection vehicles running on natural gas. It has 95 CNG, LNG, and liquefied compressed natural gas (LCNG) fueling stations in place. About 40% of its natural gas vehicles are fueling by renewable natural gas coming from landfill biogas.

GM’s take on mobility:  General Motors is in a strong position to experience firsthand transportation trends of the next decade. In an interview, Alex Keros, manager and senior project engineer for Maven and GM, talked about what’s working with the Maven carsharing unit since GM launched it last year. About 60% to 70% of renters are members of the millennial generation who have less interest in owning a vehicle but do need to become acclimated to mobility options. GM is also in a good position to analyze data on the ridesharing side of the business through its investment in Lyft, which is also part of testing out self-driving Chevy Bolts. Lyft drivers and Maven renters are trying out driving the Bolt and the Chevy Volt. It’s turning into an excellent learning experience for users; the Lyft drivers are playing a role in sharing their experience with Lyft riders on what it’s like to drive an electric car. They’re not hearing complaints about the limited range issue, which has to do with the Bolt’s 238 miles and the Volt’s extended range. Even more important, Keros said, is drivers learning how to live with and respect the technology. They do adapt quickly to electrified mobility, he said. The company is working with EVgo on getting drivers set up to charge in their network. That’s also part of the learning experience with drivers finding out how long it takes; and how you can get away with taking a shorter charge to make a short trip, and then doing a full charge at night. Doing less than a 100% full charge is typical, he said.

In a separate interview, Mustafa Mohatarem, chief economist for GM, said that he doesn’t expect to see surging growth in ridesharing firms Lyft and Uber, and carsharing through Maven and Zipcar, along with the introduction of autonomous vehicles, to mean we’ll see a lot less vehicles on roads in the next 10 years. With drivers of these shared rides putting 25,000 to 50,000 miles per year on their cars, it will accelerate the replacement cycle, he said. Car sales aren’t likely to drop significantly.

Mohatarem doesn’t see EV sales skyrocketing in the near future. While diesel cars are going away in Europe since the Volkswagen scandal started, traditional engine vehicles won’t be going away anytime soon. With development of U.S. shale reserves, the supply will be plentiful and domestic for the foreseeable future, he said. Regulatory pressure in markets like Europe is a factor that will bring more EVs to market, he said. The chief economist doesn’t see EVs becoming viable until they make up at least 10% of new vehicle sales.

GM does see demand for natural gas and propane autogas vehicles growing among fleets. It’s also driven by overall fuel prices. Both of the alternative fuels are seeing a wider product range, which is helping with vehicle sales. The automaker is seeing demand for CNG-powered versions of the Chevy Equinox and Cruze and its pickup truck lineup. Good range and strong fuel economy are helping, Mohatarem said.

Cap and trade funds:  The California Air Resources Board announced at ACT Expo that California Climate Investments in zero-emission vehicles have reached $599 million since 2013. That’s supported putting hundreds of thousands of clean cars and zero-emission trucks and buses on California roads. That’s come from 115,000 light-duty zero emission vehicles including battery electric, plug-in hybrids, and fuel cell vehicles. On the commercial truck side, 46 Class 7 and 8 zero-emission trucks; 950 electrified delivery, utility, and refuse trucks; 407 zero emission transit buses, shuttles, and light-rail cars; 29 electric school buses; and 46 zero emission off-road vehicles, have received cap-and-trade funding from the state. Capital comes from the quarterly cap-and-trade auctions that came from the state’s AB 32 global warming law enacted in 2006. Some of the investment has supported demonstration projects of various specialty vehicles serving the ports and other applications.

And in other ACT Expo news………

  • BYD showcased its class 8 battery electric refuse trucks, which the company said is the first heavy-duty refuse truck built by an original equipment manufacturer that’s 100 percent battery electric. The Chinese automaker said that its North American division now offer these vehicles for purchase and delivery. BYD also announced that its first 60-foot articulated battery electric transit bus has been delivered to Antelope Valley Transit Authority. It’s part of the Los Angeles county-based transit agency’s goal to convert its bus fleet to electrification by 2018, and is the first of 13 60-foot electric buses that will end up with the transit agency.
  • Cummins Westport will make a new launch of near zero emissions vehicles in 2018, according to president Rob Nietzke. All three of its engines – the 6.7, 8.9, and 11.9 liter versions – will be renamed next year and will feature refinements from the Near Zero design launched in 2015. The 8.9-liter L9N and the ISX12N will be certified by CARB at just 0.02 grams of NOx per brake-horsepower hour, which is 90% cleaner than the current standard. The 6.7-liter B6.7N is to be certified at 50% cleaner than the current standard.
  • UPS will deploy a prototype fuel cell electric vehicle in its Rolling Laboratory fleet. UPS is working with the U.S. Department of Energy and other partners to design a first-of-its-kind, zero tailpipe emissions, Class 6 medium-duty delivery truck that meets the same route and range requirements of UPS’s existing conventional fuel vehicles. Unlike fuel cell auxiliary power units, this vehicle will use the onboard fuel cell to generate electricity to propel the vehicle. This project is an important step toward demonstrating the commercial viability of zero tailpipe emissions trucks to fleet operators and the developing FCEV supply chain, the company said.
  • Ryder System will be the strategic service partner for Workhorse Group. Ryder will be the exclusive maintenance provider for Workhorse’s entire light- and medium-duty range-extended electric vehicle fleet in North America and will provide a combination of warranty and maintenance services as part of Ryder’s SelectCare fleet maintenance portfolio. Ryder will also serve as the primary distributor in North America for Workhorse’s E-100 and E-GEN range-extended medium-duty vehicles, as well as the new W-15 electric pickup truck.

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

This Week’s Top 10: Apple backing away from building cars, California clean vehicle rebate revised

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. Apple electric minivanApple backs off: Apple Inc. has dramatically scaled back Project Titan, with a new business plan based on partnering with automakers rather than becoming one. Apple has made hundreds of job cuts and reassignments and has taken a new direction, according to people familiar with the project. Apple seems to be taking a similar approach as Google; Apple will be focusing on developing an autonomous (and, most likely, electric) driving system that gives the company flexibility to partner with existing carmakers or to go back to designing its own car in the future, sources said.
  2. California rebates revised: California’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP) is implementing increased incentive levels for lower-income consumers and new high-income eligibility caps, according to a release yesterday by the Center for Sustainable Energy. Following a public workshop held Sept. 30, the California Air Resources Board issued the program updates, as directed by a legislative act. They will apply statewide to consumers who purchase or lease rebate-eligible vehicles effective Nov. 1, 2016, providing lower-income consumers an additional $500. Rebates vary by vehicle type. For the average consumer, they are $2,500 for battery electric vehicles (BEVs), $1,500 for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and $5,000 for fuel cell vehicles. For lower-income consumers, CVRP rebates for all types of eligible light-duty passenger vehicles are increasing by an additional $500 for a total of $2,000 more per rebate ($4,500 for BEVs, $3,500 for PHEVs, and $7,000 for fuel cell vehicles). When combined with the maximum federal tax credit for eligible vehicles, the increased rebates provide savings of up to $12,000 for BEVs, $11,000 for PHEVs and $15,000 for fuel cell vehicles. See the press release for more details.
  3. NextEV opens office:  Chinese electric-car startup NextEV opened an office last week in Silicon Valley at a well-attended event. Founder William Li, a Chinese entrepreneur who created online car sales company Bitauto, has plans to build a series of electric and autonomous cars that that will at first be sold in China and then to consumers around the world. Li recruited former Cisco CTO, Padmasree Warrior, to lead his U.S. division. At the event, Warrior described the company’s mission is “to change transportation.” NextEV also has entered the Formula E electric racing series and has its own racing team. For the 2015/16 season, NextEV is registered as one of eight manufacturers in the series and is racing with a self-designed powertrain. The NextEV Formula E Team is also set for the 2016/17 season.
  4. Gauging trucking fuel economy rules: The University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute conducted a survey with 96 heavy-duty fleet managers who operate a combined total of just over 114,500 truck-tractors and approximately 350,000 trailers. Biodiesel blends (B5, B10, and B20) have been the most common alternative fuels in use, according to the survey. Fuel-saving technologies have played a big part in fleets getting closer to meeting federal fuel economy and emissions rules, with the most common fuel-saving technologies on truck-tractors being aluminum wheels, speed limiters, and low-rolling resistance dual tires. As for using alternative fuels, fleet managers appreciate lowering operating costs, reducing emissions, and availability of alternative fuels.
  5. Solar partnership:  Tesla and Panasonic have entered into a non-binding letter of intent to collaborate on manufacturing and production of photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules in Buffalo, N.Y. The agreement is contingent upon shareholders’ approval of Tesla’s acquisition of SolarCity next month. Tesla will use the cells and modules in a solar energy system that will work seamlessly with Powerwall and Powerpack, Tesla’s energy storage products. With the aid of installation, sales and financing capabilities from SolarCity, Tesla will “bring an integrated sustainable energy solution to residential, commercial, and grid-scale customers,” according to the Tesla blog.
  6. Maven comes to SF: General Motors is bringing its Maven car-sharing program to San Francisco, the ninth city in the network. Maven, which debuted in January, is already available in Ann Arbor, Mich., Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York City, and Washington, D.C. San Francisco has been a hub for carsharing and ridesharing, with several companies starting up there and setting up headquarters. Maven will compete with Zipcar, Evercar, Getaround, Turo, and City CarShare. Maven customers can rent GM models such as the Chevrolet Volt, Chevrolet Malibu, and Chevrolet Cruze, as well as luxury Cadillac models like the Escalade, and eventually, the Chevrolet Bolt.
  7. Warning on Autopilot: Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) had written to Tesla asking the electric automaker to stop advertising its vehicles as having an Autopilot function because this might suggest drivers’ attention is not needed. On Friday the KBA wrote to Tesla car owners, warning them that their vehicles could not be operated without their constant attention and that under traffic regulations they must remain alert.
  8. RNG and NZE in refuse:  Renewable natural gas from waste resources and near-zero emission engines are revolutionizing clean refuse collection operations. On Tuesday, Oct. 25 at 10:00 a.m. PDT, Southern California Gas Company is hosting a one-hour webinar to learn about technology and implementation options for low-carbon, near-zero tailpipe emission refuse fleets. Topics covered will include: How the combination of ultra-low NOx natural gas engines and renewable natural gas technologies can help meet state emission targets; resources available to analyze the cost and emission benefits of renewable natural gas and a near-zero-emission engine project (“RNG+NZE”) for your refuse operations. Click here to register.
  9. Renewable energy increasing: Carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions from electricity generation during the first six months of 2016 were the lowest since 1991, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), with most of that coming from the displacement of fossil fuels with renewable energy. Coal saw the more dramatic decline, with consumption decreasing by 18 percent, compared to 1 percent for natural gas. Use of renewable-energy sources increased 9 percent during the first six months of 2016, compared to the same period in 2015.
  10. Workhorse makes deals with BMW and UPS:  Workhorse Group announced that BMW i has signed a multi-year supply agreement for BMW i3 range extender (REx) units for the Workhorse E-Gen electric delivery vehicle. The Workhorse E-Gen delivery vehicles are used by last mile delivery companies to fulfill their customers’ delivery needs, the company said. Workhorse also announced that it has received an order to produce 200 additional E-Gen hybrid electric delivery trucks for UPS’ alternative fuel and advanced technology fleet. Workhorse is also known for its FAA compliant unmanned aerial systems (UAS) delivery drones.

 

National Drive Electric Week and AltCar Expo showed off plug-ins and shared ideas on the future of mobility

ndew-and-altcar-expo-2016Clean transportation was well represented last week during National Drive Electric Week and the AltCar Expo conference. U.S. cities saw increased participation and interest during the electric vehicle display, ride and drives, and education week; while Canada and New Zealand added more cities this year. Those attending the annual AltCar Expo event in Santa Monica, Calif., heard about some of the vital issues that need to be addressed for these vehicles to move forward.

A lot of the plug-in vehicles shown around the country at National Drive Electric Week were on display at AltCar Expo at the 11th annual expo and conference. AltCar Expo also featured the West Coast debut of the 2017 Kia Optima Plug-in Hybrid and a big display from American Honda showcasing the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell. Attendees were able to get behind the wheel and drive one before they end up at Honda dealerships later this year. (Editor’s note: the Chevy Bolt looks great, but wasn’t available for a ride and drive; that’s likely to happen at the LA Auto Show, according to display booth staff.)

Plug In America said it was the largest National Drive Electric Week in the event’s six-year history, with more than 220 events in nearly every state and Canadian province. It’s been organized by Plug In America in partnership with Sierra Club and Electric Auto Association to raise awareness and hands-on experience to those considering switching over to owning EVs. More than 4,000 EVs were shown at these events, Plug In America said.

In my hometown of Long Beach, Calif., the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S were the top EVs on display, followed by the Tesla Model X, and Chevy Volt; with the Leaf and Model S ahead of the pack. Registered attendees in Long Beach reported 1,010,845 electric miles driven. Overall, there are more than 500,000 electric vehicles on U.S. roads and more than a million worldwide, according to Plug In America.

For AltCar Expo, Terry O’Day, EVgo vice president and City of Santa Monica councilmember, kicked off the speaker conference on Friday morning. That was followed by a panel on the Future of Mobility; it was moderated by Hilary Norton, CEO of FAST and included Michael Brylawski, CEO of Evercar; Delilah Lanoix, Co-Founder of ButterFli; Francie Stefan, City of Santa Monica’s Mobility Planning Manager; Kat Urquhart, LEV Policy Consultant; and myself, as Editor & Publisher of Green Auto Market. Some of the hot topics discussed were how soon we expect to see autonomous vehicles on our streets; how the City of Santa Monica has connected its mobility options by bus, bike, and car for shared rides aimed at decreasing traffic and pollution; ButterFli’s role in bringing more mobility options to senior and disabled citizens; and experience gained by Evercar in getting on-demand service drivers (such as Uber drivers) trained in using hybrids and electric vehicles.

Dan Neil, a columnist for The Wall Street Journal, led a lively discussion on the role Tesla and other electrified transportation has been playing in the U.S., along with the next wave in fuel cell cars, and advanced fuels including renewable diesel and renewable natural gas. Others participating in the Friday morning discussion included Rhetta deMesa of California Energy Commission; Steve Ellis of Honda; Taylor Jones, California Governor’s Advisor; Evan Speer of California Dept. of General Services; and Geri Yoza of Toyota.

Dan Neil was also awarded with the 1st Annual AltCar Disrupter Award on Saturday during AltCar Expo. Neil, who at the time wrote for the LA Times, played a prominent role in Who Killed the Electric Car? That film had a 10 year anniversary commemoration prior to a screening of its sequel, Revenge of the Electric Car, on Saturday during the conference.

On Friday afternoon, a presentation covered the work being done by the Advanced Transportation Centers in California towards a zero emissions target. Michael Boehm, Executive Director of Advanced Transportation Center of Southern California; and Sedale Turbovsky, Chief Futurist and Center for Alternative Fuels, Director for carbonBLU, spoke to these issues and were led by Tamara Gishri Perry, Director of Strategic Initiatives and Industry Cluster Development at LAEDC.

Some of the highlights from the outdoor expo were: The Volkswagen e-Golf, Electrobikes, Kia Soul EV (which may be gaining interest from fleets, I was told), URB-E Scooter, and the previously mentioned Honda and Chevy offerings.

WaiveCar, the world’s first ad-supported carsharing program, displayed its offerings and announced its launch in Santa Monica and Venice Beach; the firm had a car named Oscar on display. Carsharing firm Zipcar had a display booth at the event. Low-speed electric vehicle maker GEM had two vehicles on display.

As part of National Drive Electric Week, EVgo offered drivers free charging through its national network from Sept. 10 to Sept. 18. Drivers with a valid EVgo charging card were able to charge for free at any of EVgo’s 1,000 charging locations in over 50 metro markets.

“National Drive Electric Week is a celebration of the electric lifestyle. One advantage of driving electric is never having to stop at a gas station again. This week, EVgo will make it even sweeter by making your public charging free nationwide,” said EVgo’s Terry O’Day.  “Our network is growing rapidly, and together with our drivers, is making the EV movement unstoppable.”

Event Planning: Clean transportation and advanced vehicle technologies conferences to consider attending

Clean transportation eventsWhile summer vacation is in the air, it’s time to start planning for events and conferences. Here are significant events in clean transportation and advanced vehicle technologies over the next year that I look forward to attending (or at least covering). The challenge will be attending all of them in September and October – some of them are back-to-back in scheduling. I will be moderating a speaker panel at

Sacramento Clean Cities Coalition’s 6th annual Fall stakeholder meeting on Oct. 15 where panelists will be discussing autonomous vehicles, intelligent highways, the Hyperloop, and carsharing services. I hope to see you there.

Fleet Technology Expo
August 24-26, 2015
Long Beach Convention Center
Long Beach, CA
Green Fleet Conference & Expo has been expanded into Fleet Technology Expo. This conference and exposition will feature the latest information on maintaining and adopting alternative fuels, maximizing data for efficient fleet management and best practices for heavy duty fleets.
http://www.fleettechnologyexpo.com/Default.aspx

North American Natural Gas Vehicle Conference & Expo
Sept. 15-17, 2015
Denver
The largest gathering of NGV industry professionals in North America is expected to feature more than 100 exhibitors, 1,000 attendees, and 70 speakers and panelists. Highlights include OEM technology, fuel cost savings, emissions reductions, fuel station infrastructure development plans, federal and state funding options as well as how natural gas is driving innovation and economic growth. Attendees can participate in a Ride & Drive and attend the 2015 NGV Achievement Awards celebrating innovation and leadership.
http://www.ngvshow.com/

AltCar Expo
Sept. 18-19 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Santa Monica, Calif.
The 10th anniversary conference will feature NAFA (Pacific Southwest Chapter) workshops and the first annual ”Best Sustainability Awards Recognition Program.” Other speaker events on Friday will focus on autonomous vehicle technologies, Multi-unit dwelling (MUD) and workplace charging; a presentation on Saturday showing of trailer from the documentary “My Lunch With Obama”, followed by a Panel Discussion with the director, Kelly R. Olsen, the subject of the film, Paul Scott and some of the people that appear in the file. The discussion will first focus on what led Paul to be willing to pay $32,400 to speak to the President for two minutes about EV policy and the events that unfolded after he was accepted to the luncheon with the President.
http://altcarexpo.com/

Sacramento Clean Cities Coalition’s 2015 Clean Technologies Forum
Oct. 15, 2015
California Automobile Museum, Sacramento, Calif.
Details will be released soon on the sixth annual Fall stakeholder meeting for Sacramento Clean Cities Coalition. As mentioned, I’ll be moderating a panel of speakers for “The Future of Transportation Technology.” Experts on the topics will discuss autonomous vehicles, intelligent highways, the Hyperloop, carsharing services, and other advanced technology developments.
http://www.cleancitiessacramento.org/

Meeting of the Minds 2015
Oct. 20-22, 2015
Berkeley and Richmond, Calif.
This leadership summit on smarter urban systems is being convened in the San Francisco Bay Area in October. Now in its 9th year, the annual summit brings together professionals for opportunities to think critically, ask questions, share tools, and build lasting partnerships — which make smarter and more sustainable cities possible. Meeting of the Minds 2015 is sponsored by Black & Veatch; Royal Bank of Canada; The Federal Reserve Bank of the US; Qualcomm; CBRE; Toyota; Cisco; Wells Fargo Bank; Microsoft; Itron; University of California, Berkeley; and others.
http://cityminded.org/events/motm2015

Telematics West Coast 2015
Oct. 26-27, 2015
San Diego, Calif.
Telematics Detroit (now called TU-Automotive Detroit) has expanded to the west coast with this San Diego event. Topics will include cyber security, big data, car communication systems, and Renovo Motors, the maker of the first all-electric American supercar. Christopher Heiser, CEO of Renovo Motors, will be one of the speakers. Automotive Digest Publisher Chuck Parker and I will be attending and interviewing executives; for those interested in scheduling an appointment, please email me. Along with the name change, away from telematics and into TU, the focus of these events is expanding: “Telematics, Autonomy, Mobility,” is how the TU-Automotive Detroit site is labelled.
http://www.tu-auto.com/west-coast/

High Horsepower Summit
Oct. 27-29, 2015
Dallas, TX
The HHP Summit presents natural gas as a solution to high horsepower equipment operators aiming to significantly reduce fuel costs, improve environmental performance, and comply with important air quality regulations. It’s managed by Gladstein Neandross & Associates, which organizes the annual ACT Expo conference.
http://www.hhpsummit.com/

Connected Car Expo
Nov. 17-19, 2015
Los Angeles
Connected Car Expo (CCE) at the LA Auto Show has grown enough in attendance to transition from its Los Angeles Convention Center space and will occupy virtually the entire JW Marriott at the adjacent L.A. Live entertainment complex. More than 25 speakers will be there from Apple, Microsoft, Intel, Qualcomm, Google, Volkswagen, Continental, Movimento, Redbend, J.D. Power, Pebble and other companies.  Selected by the CCE Advisory Board, this year’s conference topics focus on issues such as autonomous vehicles, car sharing, cybersecurity, 3D printing, over-the-air updates, and much more.
www.ConnectedCarExpo.com

Long Beach ePrix
April 2, 2016
Long Beach, Calif.
The FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) World Motor Sport Council recently approved the calendar for the second season of the FIA Formula E Championship, with Long Beach scheduled as the sixth of 11 rounds in the Formula E series. Alejandro Agag, CEO of Formula E, said: “We’re very pleased for Formula E to be returning to Long Beach in 2016. Our first Californian ePrix was a fantastic success and brought a new generation of race fans to the iconic streets of Long Beach. We’re looking forward to building on this, as well as continuing to promote the message of sustainability so that California remains the number one market for plug-in electric vehicles.”

ACT Expo
May 2-5, 2016
Long Beach, CA
The largest clean transportation industry event will be returning to the Long Beach Convention Center next year. Details on the event will be released later this year.
http://www.actexpo.com/

This Week’s Top 10: More than $22 million available in clean transportation funding, Making the business case for renewable natural gas

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. Clean transportation funding from MSRCSCAQMD announces funding: South Coast Air Quality Management District’s Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Review Committee (MSRC) has released three new solicitations for clean transportation funding with more than $22 million available for projects. The 2015 Local Government Match Program provides matching funds to cities and counties for qualifying projects in the district. Categories include alternative-fuel infrastructure, fleet maintenance facility upgrades, electric vehicle charging stations, medium- and heavy-duty alternative fuel vehicles, active transportation, electric riding lawnmowers, and street sweeping operations in the Coachella Valley. The deadline for submission is Sept. 4, 2015. Major Event Center Transportation programs for the past four years where destinations located in the district are targets for this funding opportunity and include sports arenas, fairgrounds, stadiums, race tracks, speedways, and Convention Centers, etc. Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Funding Opportunities categories include funding for construction of new or expanded alternative fuel fueling stations and incentives for the modification of fleet maintenance facilities in the district. The funding opportunity includes public and private site owners, fleet owners, infrastructure providers, fuel providers and school districts. Funding is available for the construction or expansion of alternative fuel refueling stations; incentives to fleets to upgrade their existing vehicle maintenance facilities; and support fleets purchasing alternative fuel vehicles. The deadline for submission for the major event center and alternative fuel infrastructure programs is July 29, 2016.
  2. Making the business case for renewable natural gas: Kudos go out to Joanna Underwood, president of Energy Vision, for her commentary in Denver Post on solutions renewable natural gas (RNG) bring to Colorado’s economy and environment. As the Piceance Basin gas reserve declines, natural gas production is shrinking, which will likely mean job loss and slower economic growth. Gov. John Hickenlooper’s fracking task force may be seeing confrontation between the gas industry and parties opposing the fracking. Underwood makes the case that the polarizing debate could be resolved by tapping into the state’s organic waste stream to make RNG. You can also view Energy Vision’s revamped new website here.
  3. Tesla goes to Maryland: Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed a bill allowing Tesla Motors to sell directly to consumers. It takes effect Oct. 1, and allows Tesla to operate as many as four locations. That follows soon after Georgia allowing Tesla to operate five locations in the state and in March, New Jersey allowed Tesla to open four locations while also having one service center open for Tesla owners. In other Tesla news, Consumer Reports had a bad experience test driving the Tesla Model S P85 D when the driver-side door handle failed to let the driver in. The magazine’s car reliability survey has shown that doors, locks, and latches are the biggest trouble areas for Tesla, and that the Model S has far higher than average rates of these types of problems.
  4. ConocoPhillips adopting propane autogas: ConocoPhillips said it will convert 30 trucks to propane autogas this year and replace more than 300 more trucks over the next five years with vehicles powered by propane fuel technology. That follows thousands of miles on road tests in New Mexico and Colorado since 2011 working with ROUSH CleanTech propane vehicles. For the ConocoPhillips fleet, propane autogas reduces greenhouse gases by up to 25%, carbon monoxide by up to 60%, and nitrogen oxide by 20% compared to gasoline. Other benefits include safety of the fuel, size of the fuel tanks, performance, reduced fuel costs, extended maintenance intervals, and drivability.
  5. Cleaning up freight operations: Kellogg’s, Walmart, Anheuser-Busch, Apple, Adidas, General Mills, H&M, Lowes, CVS, and Hershey are working hard at improving efficiency and environmental management, according to Jason Mathers, senior manager on supply chain logistics at Environmental Defense Fund. Companies are tracking logistics emissions, setting performance goal benchmarks, and are seeking to shape external factors as a leadership practice.
  6. Fiat Chrysler chief goes on field trip: FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne has been rejected for an office visit with General Motors and Ford, but did get a greenlight from Tesla Motors and Apple. Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Apple’s Tim Cook were willing to meet with him. No news yet on whether Chrysler models will be powered by Tesla motors and battery packs, but Marchionne did have a good time. “I’m incredibly impressed with what that kid has done,” he said about Musk, according to Reuters. Tim Cook talked about Apple’s “intervention in the car,” Marchionne said.
  7. How to reduce air pollution: Older or badly tuned vehicles produce the vast majority of harmful emissions in Toronto. University of Toronto researchers measured exhaust from 100,000 vehicles driving past air sampling probes set up on one of Toronto’s busiest roads. The researchers found that 25% of the cars emitted 95% of the total particulates and 93% of the carbon monoxide. “How you drive, hard acceleration, age of the vehicle, how the car is maintained – these are things we can influence that can all have an effect on pollution,” according to author Greg Evans.
  8. EV forecast: The US is expected to be the largest EV market throughout the forecast period in a new Navigant Research study, with annual EV sales in 2024 exceeding 860,000 in the conservative scenario and 1.2 million in the aggressive. Annual sales in Canada, which is about one year behind the United States in terms of vehicle availability, are expected to reach over 74,000 PEVs in the conservative scenario and over 91,000 in the aggressive by 2024.
  9. Cheap oil won’t beat all biofuels: When oil prices hit $50 a barrel, as they’ve done lately, alternative fuels feel the squeeze. Lux Research evaluated 25 alternative fuel producers and found some biofuels companies prepared for the price drop. Renewable diesel producers Neste Oil and Diamond Green Diesel, gasification specialist Red Rock Biofuels, and Edeniq, which makes cellulosic ethanol, were among 13 alternative producers of fuels best positioned for cheap oil, according to the Lux Research report.
  10. Trillium CNG takes Frito-Lay award: Trillium CNG was named Supplier of the Year by the fleet division of Frito-Lay North America; the award was given for superior customer service and operational excellence in supporting Frito-Lay’s network of one private and nine public access compressed natural gas (CNG) stations. Trillium CNG dispensed more than 2.2 million gasoline gallon equivalents (GGEs) to Frito-Lay last year.

2015 ACT Expo showcases several new product and technology unveilings

ACT Expo 2015The fifth annual Alternative Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo, held May 4-7 at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, was a showcase for new product and technology unveilings to an audience of more than 3,500 clean transportation stakeholders and 200 plus exhibitors. Electric Drive Transportation Association became one of the new partners for the event, and conference attendees navigated through a series of keynote speakers, workshops, and exhibit hall visits while using a new mobile device application introduced by ACT Expo organizer Gladstein, Neandross & Associates.

Some of the significant announcements included:

  • Ford Motor Co. said that the 2016 F-150 pickup will be available with a 5.0-liter V8 engine that can run on compressed natural gas or propane.
  • Alliance AutoGas introduced the first-ever Class 8 truck propane-diesel blended fuel system, which has been approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency as emissions-compliant. The California Air Resources Board has also certified the two bi-fuel engine models that include a 13-liter Volvo engine and 14-liter Detroit Diesel engine.
  • Cummins Westport will offer the ISB6.7 G, a 6.7-liter dedicated natural gas engine for medium-duty trucks, shuttle buses, and vocational vehicles. It’s based on the Cummins ISB6.7 diesel engine platform and will operate exclusively on natural gas – either compressed natural gas or liquefied natural gas – and will begin production by mid-2016.
  • UPS announced that it has an agreement with Clean Energy Fuels to purchase its Redeem brand renewable natural gas (RNG). UPS fueling stations in Sacramento, Fresno and Los Angeles will begin dispensing RNG this month; the delivery giant said that the deal makes it the largest user of RNG in the U.S. shipping industry.
  • Smith Electric Vehicles is coming back to the market, announcing a $35 million joint venture with Hong Kong battery and vehicle producer FDG Electric Vehicles Limited. The JV allows Smith to “go to our partners and say, we have stability, capital, capacity,” said business strategy and process VP Terry Pageler.
  • Penske Truck Leasing announced that the US Department of Energy has awarded the transportation company a $400,000 grant for the company’s Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) Demonstration and Enhanced Driver Experience Project, to be administered by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Penske will utilize the funds to further introduce alternative fuel vehicles to its customer base.
  • Toyota named eight Northern and Southern California dealerships that will sell its upcoming Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. Toyota is working with FirstElement Fuel on a California fueling station network, and will offer free fuel to its first customers. Air Liquide will build 12 hydrogen fueling stations in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.
  • Clean Energy Fuels Corp. showcased its station that sells both liquefied and compressed natural gas as part of a tour in Dallas. Other tours included a Penske Truck Leasing maintenance facility and visits to Shell LNG, Questar Fueling, and Love’s natural-gas fueling stations.
  • This year’s program featured a number of new workshops and forums coordinated with Electric Drive Transportation Association. They focused on electric drive technology and how these vehicles are meeting the needs of drivers and fleet operators while advancing energy security, environmental sustainability, and economic independence from a monopoly fuel.

Highlights from speakers included:

  • BSR, a global nonprofit that researches sustainable fuels, issued reports exploring the challenges faced by fleets and truck operators in making clean fuels work. With biofuel mandates, California’s low-carbon fuel standard, and other market forces, fleets and truck operators can feel like they are being pulled in multiple directions, BSR said. In the near future, BSR will be offering truckers and others companies in the logistics supply chain an analysis to help them make decisions on what types of trucks they should purchase.
  • Trucking industry executives said they see a future for natural gas as a viable fuel for the industry despite relatively low gasoline and diesel prices. One of the panelists, Drew Cullen, senior vice president for fuels and facility services for Penske Truck Leasing, said he was optimistic even though grant programs are not coming together as fast as they could be.
  • Frito-Lay North America has 300 compressed natural-gas tractors and plans to add another 100 by the end of the year, along with 280 electric box trucks, said Gregg Roden, the company’s senior vice president, during a speaker session.
  • Margo Oge, former director of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality, participated in a speaker panel on the challenges women face while working in the trucking industry. Women are still greatly underrepresented in that industry, and those who are employed still face challenges balancing work and home life, according to a panel of female executives. They also tend to be the sole representative of their gender in the board room, Oge said.
  • T. Boone Pickens said that he’s observed six collapses in the price of oil since 1980, like the recent one with a 50% drop in prices that made diesel much cheaper. Diesel will continue to dominate trucking fuel for several years, but Pickens thinks that the price of natural gas will continue to be cheaper than diesel.

The next ACT Expo will take place May 2-5, 2016, in Long Beach, Calif. Click here for conference coverage of 2015 ACT Expo.

This Week’s Top 10: Clean Cities announces research resources, Tesla Model S and Toyota Prius take Consumer Reports awards

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. Clean Cities logoThe US Dept. of Energy’s Clean Cities has issued several research resources for stakeholders in the past week. The Clean Cities 2015 Vehicle Buyer’s Guide offers vehicle selection, pricing, infrastructure, and emissions information on a wide selection of alternative fuel vehicles. Categories include propane, compressed natural gas, biodiesel, plug-in electric, plug-in hybrid electric, hybrid electric, and ethanol flex-fuel. Clean Cities also said that it’s moving forward on its request for information (RFI) project announced in November on purchasing and procurement for bulk vehicle orders. The RFI is soliciting feedback from industry, academia, research laboratories, government agencies, and other stakeholders on issues related to purchasing/procurement processes designed to coordinate and consolidate bulk alternative fuel vehicle, advanced vehicle orders, and vehicle subsystems. Responses are due no later than 5:00 pm eastern time on March 13, 2015. This announcement was coordinated with a public meeting for Clean Cities stakeholders to collect input in a new Clean Cities five-year strategic plan. Clean Cities encourages stakeholders to continue to give written comments through its Strategic Planning Meeting website until March 13.
  2. The Tesla Model S and Toyota Prius take best of awards from Consumer Reports. For the second year in a row, the Model S has taken the “best overall” category for its “innovation, magnificence, and sheer technological arrogance.” The testing team likes the fact that Tesla’s over-the-air software updates keep the 2013 model up to date with many of the same features as the new models. The Toyota Prius took the “green car” category again, which has been the case consecutively since 2004. Testers haven’t been that impressed with ride comfort, cornering, and interior, but the affordability, fuel economy, packaging and “blue-chip reliability” make it the “perfect economical transportation solution.” Rating indicators for all Consumer Reports categories are based on overall road-test performance, reliability, and safety.
  3. AltCar has announced dates for its two 2015 events. For the Northern California event, the City of Oakland AltCar Conference & Expo will be held May 28. The 10th anniversary of the City of Santa Monica’s AltCar Expo will take place on Sept. 18-19. For participation, you can contact Platia Productions at (310) 390-2930, ext. 3.
  4. Toyota started production of Mirai fuel cell sedan at its Motomachi Plant in Toyota City, Japan. The fuel cell car can travel 400 miles on a fueling and has been very important in Toyota’s green vehicle strategy; however, the production numbers are limited to 700 units this year, 2,000 in 2016, and 3,000 in 2017.
  5. Daimler joins other automakers selling in the European market by implementing more material cost efficiencies to meet stringent European Union emissions targets. Daimler Chief Financial Officer Bodo Uebber says that in 2014, the automaker offset the burdens from the variable cost for its carbon reducing measures with material cost efficiencies such as sharing more commonality among its different car lines. Uebber expects to do the same this year through at least 2017.
  6. The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) is funding $600,000 to Icom North America to support development of its propane autogas technology in the Ford 3.5L EcoBoost engine. That should assist Icom receiving both US Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board certifications for the 3.5L EcoBoost platform. Icom’s JTGhp direct-injection system can be applied to the Ford F-150, Explorer, and Taurus vehicle platforms. PERC also announced last week that it will be displaying at the NTEA Work Truck Show in Indianapolis. Fleet managers are invited to interact with PERC’s dimensional displays for calculating lifetime operating costs, and seeing cost savings that comes from using propane autogas.
  7. Volvo Cars is joining the autonomous vehicle test driving movement by placing 100 self-driving cars on Gothenburg, Sweden streets by 2017. Local residents will be using these autonomous Volvo XC90 crossover test vehicles commuting to work on a controlled 31-mile route. That test is expected to run through the spring of 2019 and will use sensors, cloud-based positioning systems, intelligent braking, and steering technologies through a new Volvo autopilot system.
  8. Texas state grants had pretty good return on investment with grants issued to natural gas vehicles (NGVs), according to a study by the University of Texas San Antonio’s Institute for Economic Development. Three state grants, totaling $52.9 million, supported construction of new natural gas fueling stations and the adoption of NGVs. That generated $128 million in economic impact, $52.9 million in gross state product, and supported 927 full-time jobs in 2014. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality administered the three grants that went out to the Clean Transportation Triangle, the Alternative Fueling Facilities Program, and the Texas Natural Gas Vehicle Program.
  9. As biofuel supporters wait for the US Environmental Protection Agency to get around to announcing its 2014 volume standards, another action was taken in Washington. A bill introduced last week by Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) would repeal the corn ethanol mandate in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Feinstein is especially concerned about corn prices increasing if that mandate continues. They’re misunderstanding the facts, according to Bob Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association. “Corn is less expensive today than when the RFS was passed,” Dinneen said.
  10. Solar power will see substantial growth in 2015, according to a new study by GTM Research. Solar installations will grow in 75% of US states, with incremental growth in Arizona and Massachusetts but significant growth in Georgia and Utah.