Automakers lobby against California’s ZEV mandate, Comprehensive study released on fuel cell technology

Automakers opposing ZEV in Washington:  Automakers lobbied Tuesday in Washington against California’s zero emission vehicle model in favor of a single national standard. During testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, John Bozzella, president of the Association of Global Automakers, made the argument that California is favoring electric and fuel cell vehicles over more practical advanced gasoline engines, lighter materials, and other technologies to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. While automakers have supported the ZEV mandate adopted by California and nine other states, automakers are hoping the Trump administration and Congress will soften he standards. ”The ZEV program produces no incremental nationwide GHG emission benefits despite the high burden placed on vehicle manufacturers. Current corporate average fuel economy and GHG emissions standards already specify each manufacturer’s total fleet-wide emissions, and therefore, in a system that averages together all vehicles in a manufacturer’s fleet, the fleet-wide emissions standards act as a cap when combined with an overall compliance fleet strategy,” Bozzella said.

Largest Semi truck order placed:  PepsiCo Inc. has placed the largest order so far for Tesla Semi electric big-rig trucks with 100 of the trucks being reserved. The maker of popular soda brands and snacks such as Doritos chips is taking on goals to reduce fuel costs and fleet emissions, the company said Tuesday. Tesla is joining other vehicle manufacturers in the electric truck segment including Navistar International Corp. and Volkswagen AG’s Truck and Bus with an electric medium duty truck by late 2019; and Daimler AG has delivered the first round of Fuso eCanter electric trucks to customers in New York.

Study looks at fuel cell technology:  Consulting firm E4tech has released The Fuel Cell Industry Review 2017, a comprehensive look at the broad range of fuel cell technologies in global markets. China is playing a leading role in market growth by reducing electric vehicle subsidies and pushing vehicle manufacturers to take light duty and heavy duty fuel cells more seriously. About 2,500 trucks and buses powered by hydrogen were deployed in 2017 compared to almost none in 2016. China faces a real challenge seen in other countries – there are only seven hydrogen fueling stations in the country with range limitations placed on the fuel cell vehicles. About 30% more fuel cell power globally was shipped in 2017 than 2016, and nearly 10,000 more units, according the the study. The study looks at three fuel segments in global markets – portable units, stationary units that provide electricity to corporate customers, and transport that includes passenger vehicles like the Toyota Mirai and heavy-duty vehicles like fuel cell transit buses. Trains and marine markets are also explored in the report, with growth seen in both sectors.

 

Jeep Wrangler will see plug-in hybrid version, Toyota cars and trucks powered by animal waste

Newsworthy:  Fiat Chrysler Automobile is bringing its second plug-in vehicle to market – the refreshed 2018 Jeep Wrangler will come out with a plug-in hybrid version in 2020. The company hasn’t yet released specs on the variation such as fuel economy and battery-only range. The other FCA plug-in vehicle, the Chrysler Pacifica, comes with a 16 kW hour battery and has been given an 84 mpg combined fuel economy rating. The Wrangler will most likely need its own plug-in hybrid system. FCA will probably carry over technologies from its other vehicles, a typical practice by the automaker to bring economies of scale to its product lineup………….. Journalists were able to take a ride in a self-driving Chevy Bolt in San Francisco this week. Led by General Motors’ Cruise Automation unit, it was the first time the autonomous electric car had been experienced by non-GM employees. The only time one of the GM employees had to take over a ride was after it took too long for test car to wait behind a parked taco truck bringing lunch to construction workers………….. The Honda Clarity took Green Car of the Year at the LA Auto Show yesterday, with other nominees being the Honda Accord, Hyundai Ioniq, Nissan Leaf and Toyota Camry. The Clarity was acknowledged for offering all three green powertrains in one single model – all-electric, plug-in hybrid, or fuel cell vehicle with the automaker’s ability to readily shift production from one technology to another to meet future sales……………. The more costly, long-range version of the Tesla Model 3 has been given a 310-mile range rating by the Environmental Protection Agency. It’s also been given a 131 miles per gallon gasoline equivalent (MPGe) city, 120 MPGe highway, and 126 MPGe rating combined. While the entry level version for the Model 3 starts at $35,000, the long-range version starts out pricing at $44,000.

Waste to energy:  The question of where hydrogen is being extracted from – and how clean and economically feasible it is – is always being asked by fleet operators and other parties. Animal waste is much more appealing than natural gas, taking the landfill mass typical to agribusiness states like California and using it for something constructive. During the LA Auto show, Toyota announced that it will using animal waste from the state’s Central Valley to power clean cars and trucks such as the Toyota Mirai and hydrogen-powered semi trucks currently being piloted at the Port of Long Beach. Called the Tri-Gen Project, Toyota hopes that participating in the demonstration will help support moving fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen fueling forward.

“We believe hydrogen technology has the potential to become the powertrain of the future,” said Doug Murtha, a group vice president for strategic planning with Toyota’s North American operations. It will be “a key milestone in Toyota’s larger commitment to clean mobility.”

The Tri-Gen Project will generate 1.2 tons of hydrogen per day. Bringing it to the port ties well in the state’s commitment to support clean air near its ports and freeways, where disadvantaged communities are especially vulnerable to the health problems caused by diesel-powered heavy-duty trucks.

VW preparing for electric crossover launch, Hydrogen FCVs won’t be going away like betamax

Newsworthy:  Volkswagen yesterday revealed at the LA Auto Show that an all-electric crossover based on its I.D. Crozz concept will be available in 2020. An 83-kWh lithium-ion battery pack with a pair of electric motors, one on each axle, will produce a combined 302 horsepower and an anticipated range of 300 miles. The I.D. Crozz will precede the I.D. Buzz microbus by about two years. The two were shown together with the I.D. concept car for the first time in North America…………… Two fledgling Tesla-competitors are facing contrasting scenarios, with Lucid Motors pulling ahead and Faraday Future struggling to raise funds. Lucid is moving its headquarters and doubling the size from Menlo Park to nearby Newark, Calif. The 1,000-horsepower Lucid Air will go into production in 2019 with a starting price of $60,000; and the automaker will be posting ads for more jobs in the near future. Faraday Future is facing a financial crisis next month, according to people familiar with the matter. A $400 million convertible note with a 12% interest charge, will become payable immediately if the company can’t raise the Series A round by December. There’s also about $100 million in unpaid bills as it works on paying off Chinese investors that had financed the debt, the sources said.

The future of fuel cell vehicles:  Toyota Motor Corp.’s commitment to hydrogen fuel cell vehicles is going down he path of backing the Betamax over VHS in the 1980s, according to Reuters. While the points made are clear on electric vehicles reaching mass market adoption over fuel cell vehicles (FCVs), I think one part of the argument is inaccurate: hydrogen-powered vehicles won’t be going away like the Betamax.

Here are a few points to consider:
OEMs onboard: While sales figures by Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai for their FCVs are slim – and the number of hydrogen stations are slight in comparison to other alternative fuels – automakers are not going to be leaving FCVs behind. These three automakers have broad plans for the technology in their future vehicles, and a few other major automakers such as General Motors, BMW, and Daimler, are making the investments as well. Elon Musk and Tesla won’t be joining the race, but that doesn’t mean the technology is finished.
California backing it: California Gov. Jerry Brown is dismissing President Donald Trump’s decision to leave the Paris climate change accord behind, along with likely softening the federal fuel economy and emissions standards. China seems to agree with him, welcoming Brown and CARB chair Mary Nichols over earlier this year for strategic planning meetings on zero emission vehicles; and China is now following that model. Keep in mind that FCVs are part of it, and California is not baking off supporting these vehicles and their needed fueling stations.
Toyota is covering all the bases: When reviewing Toyota’s decisions, keep in mind practicing the Japanese business philosophy of “kaizen,” or making continuous improvements in a corporate growth strategy. The management practice involves much longer phases than U.S. companies are used to. Toyota executives have clearly seen, since the 1990s, where government policy is going; along with a series of reports on increasing greenhouse gas emissions. The Japanese government has been pushing for FCVs and hydrogen stations and California, a few others states, Canada, and China, are going the ZEV route. Toyota’s product planning reflects the broad approach. It’s Prius Prime plug-in hybrid has been beating the Chevy Volt in U.S. sales lately with improvements made to battery range and other features; the Toyota Mirai has a long way to go but is getting substantial marketing support by the parent company; CEO Akio Toyoda is leading a team developing upcoming electric vehicle models; and even though sales of the Prius hybrid have been declining, the company isn’t backing away from building and marketing Toyota and Lexus hybrid models.

This Week’s Top 10: More DOE funding for advanced vehicles proposed, States consider EV taxes and incentives

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. doe-logoDOE’s Vehicle Technology Program: Funding for the US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) advanced vehicle technology program may be reauthorized in Washington. U.S. Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) introduced a bill that would reauthorize the Vehicle Technology Program’s budget at $314 million in the next fiscal year; it would also include a 4% annual increase after that through 2020. That DOE program has been running without congressional reauthorization for the past seven years; in that program, DOE works with researchers on alternative fuel vehicle projects. The new funding program would add R&D on vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure to its roster.
  2. EV taxes and incentives: On July 1, Oregon will begin testing a first-in-the-nation model that will be of interest to states attempting to add electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrids to its tax revenues. Up to 5,000 volunteers can sign up to drive with devices that collect data on how much they have driven and where; test project volunteers will agree to pay 1.5 cents for each mile traveled on Oregon roads instead of the tax now added when filling up on gasoline at the pump. The state thinks it would help pay for road and bridge projects during a time when tax-based revenue from gasoline taxes has been declining across the country during an era of more fuel efficient vehicles and purchases of hybrids and EVs. In other news, the state of Connecticut is now offering a cash rebate up to $3,000 for those purchasing EVs. It’s part of the state’s efforts to bring more charging stations to Connecticut and to promote the use of EVs. Along with that, the state is now offering auto dealers bonuses for selling EVs and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
  3. Rio Honda College wins hydrogen grant: Professor John Frala announced that Rio Hondo College has been awarded with three-year grant funding to develop a training model for stationary and mobile fuel cell technicians. National Science Foundation is funding the first-ever hydrogen program that will support training and development of hydrogen fuel cell vehicle technicians. Frala also said that Rio Hondo College, based in Whittier, Calif., is the first college to now offer a bachelor of science degree in Automotive within the state of California; that was announced last week by Gov. Jerry Brown, Frala said.
  4. Analysis of used green vehicles: Used green vehicles – including compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles, hybrids, electric vehicles, flex-fuel vehicles, and propane autogas vehicles – are seeing increasing volume and activity at auctions. Green Fleet published a comprehensive report on what fleet managers and remarketing experts are seeing in used vehicle values out in the US market. Bobit Business Media, which publishes Green Fleet, also announced it will host what it describes as the largest Green Ride & Drive Event in the US; that will take place during Fleet Technology Expo (which was previously called Green Fleet Conference and Expo), which is taking place Aug. 24-26, 2015 at the convention center in Long Beach, Calif.
  5. Uber testing out driverless cars and EVs: Uber, which is considered to be the giant of the new ridesharing/ride-hailing transportation segment, is testing out a driverless car in Pittsburgh with the label, “Uber Advanced Technologies Center” painted across its side and rotating sensors on top of the car. It’s in partnership with the autonomous vehicle research center at Carnegie Mellon University and will be researching mapping, safety, and autonomous systems, according to the company. In March, the company announced that it’s trying out 25 battery electric vehicles as part of its offerings in Chicago. That test program is in partnership with BYD, where drivers and passengers are trying out the BYD e6 electric car. In other significant news, the New York Times reported yesterday that US airports are becoming more willing to try out allowing Uber and other ridesharing companies (such as Lyft) to have access to the airports – as a fee revenue source and because consumers are demanding access for Uber to drop them off and pick them up at major airports. Taxi and livery companies have been fighting ridesharing companies from having access to their markets without paying medallion and trip fees that they’ve had to pay all these years.
  6. $15M in California grants: The California Energy Commission has approved nearly $15 million in state grants for alternative fuel vehicles. Transportation Power, Inc., won nearly $9 million for an electric garbage truck, an advanced battery-electric truck and a heavy-duty electric yard tractor in three different projects; nearly $3 million is going to Motiv Power Systems, Inc., to demonstrate an electric refuse and loader truck in the Sacramento region. North American Repower won $3 million to demonstrate six armored security trucks that were converted form diesel to plug-in hybrid that also runs on renewable natural gas.
  7. Audi adding more electric drive: Audi will expand its electric vehicle offerings next year with an electric-powered Q1 crossover coming out next year. An electric sporty SUV will be launched in 2018 and an electric version of its flagship Q8 SUV will roll out in 2019, the company said. It’s part of building “a solid foundation” for Audi’s growth plan as the world’s top global premium brand in vehicle sales.
  8. IMPCO added to GM’s CNG vehicles: IMPCO Automotive was awarded General Motors’ bi-fuel Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD Cab Chassis for model year 2016, 2017, and 2018. The new Cab Chassis program expands IMPCO Automotive’s existing OEM working class vehicle programs for GM, which includes Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD and GMC Sierra 2500HD pickups with multiple Cab and bed configurations, and dedicated CNG full-size Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana vans.
  9. Kansas City competes for EV crown:  Kansas City Power & Light (KCP&L), which provides electricity to Kansas City, Mo., and Kansas City, Kan., is moving full steam ahead on installing 1,001 electric vehicle (EV) charging stations to solve the range anxiety dilemma and bring more EVs to the area. “If you build it, they will come,” Chuck Caisley, KCP&L vice president of marketing and public affairs, said. Clean Charge Network, announced in January, initially will consist of 1,001 240-volt stations and 15 direct current fast-charging stations. About 150 of the charging stations have so far been installed, and the utility plans to finish the job this year. The program has gained automakers as sponsors, including Nissan.
  10. Propane paratransit buses: SMART, a regional public transportation provider in southeast Michigan, has become one of the five largest propane autogas powered paratransit fleets in the US by adding 61 new Connector paratransit propane-powered buses. SMART expects the propane buses to reduce emissions, lower fuel and maintenance costs, and extend the life of the vehicle. SMART researched various alternative fuels, and made that decision based on the fuel being more affordable and readily available and for resolving “the stringent and complicated emission control issues experienced with the diesel-fueled paratransit buses,” according to SMART’s propane-autogas vehicle supplier, ROUSH CleanTech.