For Today: Continental testing out robo-taxi technology, Proterra announces longer range drivetrain

Continental joins robo-taxi movement:  Major auto supplier Continental is making moves to join the futuristic robo-taxi world, starting with an autonomous shuttle called CUbE at its Frankfurt corporate campus. Continental won’t become a manufacturer – CUbE is a testing ground for automated technology that can be supplied to OEMs. The German supplier is watching several OEMs – including General Motors, Ford, Renault-Nissan, and Daimler – making moves toward autonomous mobility services. That might be through an alliance with Lyft, Uber, Maven, Waymo, or another partner committed to the new technology and ride services it has to offer. While the robo-taxi label has stuck in the past year, it’s much more than a taxi ride. This will include shared rides, point-to-point short trips, transporting groups, taxi rides, and shuttle services.

Propane-powered Ford E-350:  Roush CleanTech is now offering a propane-powered Ford E-350 single-rear-wheel and dual-rear-wheel cutaway targeted to buyers of transit shuttles, Type A school buses, and delivery trucks. The company has delivered over 1,000 Ford E-450 propane autogas cutaways to fleets across the country. For agencies and companies looking for smaller, lighter clean vehicles, the new propane Ford E-350 will be available at the beginning of the 2018 model year. They will be certified by the Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board and compliant with heavy-duty onboard diagnostics.

Proterra makes two announcements:  Electric bus maker Proterra just introduced the DuoPower drivetrain for its Catalyst all-electric vehicles. The Catalyst bus will be five times more efficient than a standard diesel bus with a lot more horsepower and acceleration. It offers a 20% increase in efficiency over Proterra’s standard ProDrive system. For the Catalyst E2 max model, the DuoPower drivetrain enables a nominal range of 426 miles on a single charge, which the company says far exceeds the average distance of North American transit routes. Separately, the company announced that major bus and coach manufacturer Van Hool has selected Proterra to provide its highly efficient battery platform for Van Hool’s first all-electric motor coach. Van Hool’s CX Series electric vehicle will utilize the E2 battery technology.

 

 

For Today: More electric commercial trucks coming to market, Consumer Reports wants to see mpg window stickers on heavy-duty pickups

Commercial Vehicle Show includes electric options:  Volkswagen has added another electric vehicle to its product lineup through its truck division and jointly with Navistar International Corp. During the launch of the first-ever North American Commercial Vehicle Show in Atlanta on Monday, the two companies announced they’ll be jointly developing an electric medium-duty truck for the North American market. It will roll out as soon as 2019. These two companies forged an alliance earlier this year with VW investing $256 million for a 17% stake in Navistar. During a separate presentation, Daimler Trucks North America discussed its platooning efforts in North America; and how subsidiary Mitsubishi Fuso recently launched the all-electric eCanter Class 4 cabover, which the company will deliver to its first customers, including UPS, by the end of this year. The company also hinted that its Freightliner Cascadia and Western Star trucks will have electric versions in the future. Buyers of commercial vehicles are looking more seriously at electric trucks as federal fuel economy rules enter their next phase, and Tesla, Nikola, and Daimler make moves in this market.

Growth in electrified buses:  Buses powered by natural gas and propane autogas have opened doors globally for deployment of medium and heavy-duty electric drive buses of all types – including hybrids, plug-in hybrids, all-electric, and hydrogen fuel cells. Hybrid buses are expected to do better for now than plug-in buses, except for China, due to lower price premiums and lack of charging infrastructure. A new Navigant Research report analyzes the trends, including how fuel cell buses are expected to see further deployments as technology costs come down. Costs are also coming down in batteries, motors, and power electronics as volume increases for sales of plug-in hybrid and battery electric buses to fleets. Transit agencies have led the way, motivated to do so by new rules on emissions and reducing noise levels. Reducing operating costs is also helping sales increase with transit agencies.

Tracking mileage on heavy-duty pickups:  Consumer Reports is calling on the federal government to add heavy-duty pickups to its fuel economy ratings list. Its research team tested out three heavy-duty diesel trucks: Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD, Ford F-250, and Ram 2500. All three pickups were equipped with four-door crew-cab bodies, turbodiesel engines, and four-wheel drive. While being more efficient than they were years ago, they only achieved 14-15 mpg, which was 1-2 mpg less than their gasoline-powered light-duty counterparts. Contractors and other truck buyers rely on these heavy pickups to buy hundreds of thousands of them per year. The consumer publication wants buyers to be adequately informed.

For Today: Republic Services triples RNG use / Hyundai reveals electric bus

Republic Services tripling RNG:  Waste disposal company Republic Services will be increasing its usage of renewable natural gas (RNG) by three times what it used in 2016 in its CNG-powered refuse trucks through an expanded agreement with Clean Energy. Clean Energy’s Redeem brand of RNG fuel will be deployed across Republic’s CNG-fleet in 20 states. Republic will be able to reduce its fleet emissions by approximately 110,000 metric tons of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) over a three-year period, which is equal to planting 2.8 million trees or removing 23,200 cars from the road. Using RNG and alternative fuel trucks will combine with intelligent routing and the company’s One Fleet maintenance initiative will help the company hits its greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.

Texas blocks Tesla:  The Texas state legislature has voted down two bills that would have allowed Tesla the right to directly sell its electric vehicles in the state. That was a tough call for Tesla, with Texas being the nation’s’ second largest auto retailing market after California. The company is close to starting production of the Model 3, and losing out on the Texas market will affect its future sales. That legislative battle has been dragged out for years in a state that Tesla had once considered setting up its Gigactory within.

Hyundai electric bus:  Hyundai just revealed the Elec City electric bus during an event in Korea. It has a 256 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery and a 240 kW electric motor, delivering a driving range of 180 miles. Fast charging capability will enable a full recharging in just over an hour. Production and sales begin in 2018. No word yet on whether it will stay in Korea or go overseas to compete with electric bus makers BYD and Proterra.

The state of clean advanced vehicle technologies on World Environment Day 2016

World Environment Day 2016, a global outreach campaign organized by United Nations, celebrated its 42nd anniversary on June 5. It’s a global platform for raising awareness and taking action on what it considers to be increasingly urgent issues. About 25% of the world’s CO2 emissions are tied to transportation globally, according to the International Energy Agency; and about 30% in the U.S., according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Here are the latest developments on clean, advanced vehicles around the world.

Proterra electric busUS-China electric bus competition: On Friday in Los Angeles, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and Chinese Minister of Transport Yang Chuantang signed an agreement officially announcing the US-China “Race to Zero Emissions.” One city from each of the two countries will be competing to determine which one will deploy the highest percentage of emission free buses by 2025.  The race is designed to improve air quality in urban areas and prevent climate change. For each of the cities entering the competition, the minimum size of the fleet must be 200 or more buses. Two smaller transit properties can form a team and compete in the race if their combined fleet size is 200 buses or more. Potential participants can learn more at https://www.transportation.gov/r2ze. “This challenge will hasten the development of new and emerging technologies that will move us away from fossil fuels and race us closer to our ultimate goal of zero emissions, while creating good jobs and economic growth in both the United States and China,” said Secretary Foxx.

In large part inspired by the successful federal “Race to the Top” education program in the U.S., CALSTART developed the Race to Zero concept in 2014. In June 2015, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the Race to Zero had been endorsed in concept by the U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group. A five-year federal transportation bill came through in December dedicating $55 million annually for the purchase of zero or near-zero emission buses; and the Chinese government has made attractive incentives available through the national government and many of the larger cities.

CALSTART is working under contract with the U.S. DOT to support the Race to Zero Emissions. Entrants in the competition will be able to take part in annual meetings and able to learn about the latest developments in electric bus and charging technology in both the United States and China. “CALSTART is eager to begin working with cities and transit properties that not only want to take full advantage of the advances in zero emission bus technology, but also wanted to become part of a larger global effort to prevent climate change,” said CALSTART President and CEO, John Boesel.

Mahindra launches 2nd EV: In commemoration of World Environment Day, Mahindra Electric launched the e-Verito, its second all-electric car in the country; it’s another step in the Indian automaker’s efforts to offer the most affordable electric vehicles in the world. The e-Verito’s base price starts at 950,000 rupees (about $14,225). Mahindra is already selling the e2o electric hatchback in India. The e-Verito will come with a 72V 3-phase AC induction motor producing maximum gross power of 41 hp @3500 rpm and maximum torque of 91 Nm @3000 rpm, mated to an automatic transmission. It can be quick charged in two hours through fast charging at the top-end option and price for the e-Verito.

The Mahindra e-Verito and e20 are tied to the discontinued Reva, with the e20’s exterior styling very similar to the Reva. The Mahindra e20 may be the most affordable electric car in the world with a starting price of 592,000 rupees (about $8,865). The e20 can travel 120 kilometers (74.5 miles) on a single charge.

Norway may ban fossil fuels: Norway’s political system may soon adopt the world’s fastest fossil fuel ban. Politicians from both sides of the political spectrum have reportedly reached some concrete conclusions about 100% of Norwegian new vehicles sold running on clean fuel by 2025. Norway may ban the sale of all fossil fuel-based cars by that year, continuing its trend towards becoming one of the most ecologically progressive countries on the planet, according to reports.

There has been some denial from opponents of the measure that the move has been confirmed. If passed, it would be particularly significant because a large proportion of Norway’s funds rely on the country’s petroleum industry. The government has offered attractive incentives for electric vehicle purchases in the country. That helped the nation experience the highest percentage of EV sales ever recorded – with EVs making up 23% of new vehicle sales in the country last year.

South Korea emissions tests and green car sales: The South Korean government will be enacting real-world emissions tests of diesel vehicles in 2017, and unveiled ambitious new targets for environmentally-friendly vehicle sales. South Korea’s cities have become choked by smog, similar to what China has been seeing. The South Korean government wants to bring air quality up to western European levels within a decade. The government would like to raise its green vehicle target to 30% of new vehicles sales by 2020 – up from 2.6 percent currently. The government also promised to support growth in plug-in electrified vehicle sales by increasing new charging stations to 10 times their current level.

Israel base for advanced vehicle technologies: While Israel had been the home to the now-defunct Better Place electric vehicle battery-swapping company, that company’s presence and other local innovators have brought investors to the country. Mobileye, a technology company that develops vision-based advanced driver assistance systems providing warnings for collision prevention and mitigation, has been gaining attention globally and seems to symbolize advance technology innovations in the country. Waze, the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation mobile app, started up in Israel before being acquired by Google for over $1 billion. Analysts say these two companies were part of a big wave of auto sector startups. Better Place is considered to have served as an “incubator” in Israel for talented developers and professionals who later moved on to new startups or established vehicle technology companies. Israel has been a vital space for General Motors, which a few years ago invested in an R&D center there. The technologies developed in Israel, including those developed in the Global Connected Consumer project led by the Israeli R&D division, will be integrated into millions of GM vehicles worldwide in the coming years.