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…….
- Colorado EV incentive: Colorado, which has long been an electric vehicle friendly state, is switching over from a formula-based tax credit to a flat $5,000 tax credit. That will shave off $12,500 from an EV’s purchase price when combined with the $7,500 federal tax credit. The state also gives the buyer the choice of trading the credit upfront off the retail price or by waiting for their next tax return. Colorado’s Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) says that the state tax credit can be assigned to a dealership or finance company, which takes off $5,000 from the purchase price. It’s the “best EV tax incentive in the nation,” according to SWEEP.
- EV sales in Europe: Renault-Nissan Alliance took 25% of plug-in electric vehicle sales in Europe during the first quarter of 2016, with the Nissan Leaf selling 6,168 units and 13.1% of the market in the No. 1 spot; and the Renault Zoe came in at 5,578 units sold and 11.9% of the share and finishing at the No. 3 spot. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV came in second place at 6,159 sold and nearly tying with the Leaf at 13.1% of the market. The Tesla Model S came in fourth with 3,378 units sold and 7.2% of the market share; the Volkswagen Golf GTE came in fifth with 2,979 units sold and 6.3% of the share. Overall sales of battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles were up 29% in the first quarter over the same time period in 2015. Plug-in sales made up a little bit over 1% of new vehicles sales in Europe during the first quarter, according to data compiled by the European Alternative Fuels Observatory (EAFO), a European Commission initiative to provide alternative fuels statistics and information.
- Audi’s EV plan: Audi says it will be introducing a new electric vehicle model every year beginning in 2018, as it races to catch-up to Tesla and other rivals in the luxury car market. The first model to be rolled out will be an its first all-electric luxury SUV based on the e-tron Quattro concept car that was revealed last fall at the Frankfurt motor show. Several luxury plug-in hybrids will be released by competitors in the near future, usually variants of existing models from BMW, Cadillac, Hyundai’s Genesis, Infiniti, Mercedes, Porsche, and Volvo.
- Updated AFLEET tool released: The U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory has released an updated version of its AFLEET tool to reflect the latest advances in alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies and updated emissions data. Sponsored by the DOE Clean Cities program, AFLEET stands for the Alternative Fuel Life-Cycle Environmental and Economic Transportation Tool. The free, publicly-available tool provides users with a roadmap for assessing which types of vehicles and fuels are right for them. The 2016 AFLEET Tool and user guide are available online. Although anyone can download and use the tool, AFLEET was designed for managers that purchase and maintain a fleet of vehicles.
- Serious injury at Tesla plant: Tesla Motors Inc. is investigating how a worker from Slovenia was critically injured in a fall while on the job at the company’s plant in Fremont, Calif. An article in The Mercury News said Gregor Lesnik fell nearly three stories during the incident last year, breaking both his legs and ribs, tearing ligaments in his knee and giving him a concussion. His job was to lift heavy pipes and install them into the ceiling and through the roof of the plant’s paint shop, according to the article. The newspaper also reported that Lesnick was only making $5 an hour. Tesla said that Lesnik in through a sub-contractor company that only paid him that amount.
- More energy stored in battery: Proterra, a maker of battery-electric buses in North America, announced a new battery design for the Proterra Catalyst XR transit vehicle at the American Public Transportation Association Bus and Paratransit Conference (APTA). Within the same energy storage footprint as the original Catalyst XR, the battery-enhanced vehicle now holds 28% more energy at 330 kWh and a lightweight vehicle body. All current Catalyst XR customers will receive a complimentary upgrade to the higher energy level.
- Nissan diesel SUV: South Korea is enforcing a penalty against Nissan Motor Co. including a fine and a recall of its Qashqai diesel sport utility vehicles after accusing the automaker of manipulating emissions. Nissan has denied the allegation. Nissan had blown the whistle on Mitsubishi Motors Corp’s mileage-cheating scandal and last week announced it was buying a $2.2 billion stake in Mitsubishi. South Korea’s environment ministry said it believed Nissan had used a “defeat device” in the Qashqai to turn off its exhaust reduction system under regular driving temperatures and will recall 814 of these vehicles sold so far in the country; with a fine of 330 million won ($279,920).
- Propane road show: Alliance AutoGas has embarked on a nationwide trip, coast-to-coast, to educate people on propane autogas’ quality technology, clean air, and American fuel. The Oklahoma State Capitol Building was the midway point stop of the Alliance AutoGas Coast-to-Coast Clean Air Ride in Oklahoma City. Central Clean Cities coordinator Eric Pollard, said that the event brought together the propane marketers, fleet managers, equipment providers, and transportation professionals to focus on the air quality and energy security benefits of increased propane use in transportation. At the 2016 NTEA Work Truck Show in Indianapolis, Alliance AutoGas converted an Ford F-150 to run on propane autogas. It was the fastest vehicle conversion to propane autogas in history at only one hour and thirty-two minutes, the company said.
- Meeting federal standards: Check out a guest editorial by Ben & Jerry’s CEO Jostein Solheim in Trucks.com on the company’s goal to reduce its carbon footprint across the entire business 80% by 2050. Solheim wrote about what it’s like to run a large freight of trucks transporting ice cream products while complying with federal standards and making it all economically viable.
- Biodiesel fraud: A U.S. District Court judge has sentenced Jack Holden, 76, of Eugene, Oregon, to 87 months in prison, restitution of $1,410,760, and a separate $1,500 fine for his role in a fraudulent biodiesel scheme that spanned three continents. Holden was convicted of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, mail and wire fraud, and money laundering. His codefendant, Lloyd Benton Sharp, 81, pled guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud on Nov. 19, 2014, and was sentenced to 60 months in prison the following spring.