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…….
- GM China Launching EVs: General Motors, along with China-based partner SAIC, plans to launch more than 10 new electrified vehicles in China by 2020, Matt Tsien, president of GM China said. These plug-in hybrids and battery-electric vehicles will be sold by the Chevrolet, Cadillac, and Baojun brands, Tsien said. While luxury vehicles and crossovers are experiencing double-digit gains in an overall soft auto market, EVs hold great potential. Tsien said the Chinese government is promoting greater investment in so-called “new energy” vehicles, the official term for electrified vehicles. He thinks China will be an even larger market than the U.S. for the upcoming Chevrolet Bolt and other EVs. GM China will begin producing a plug-in hybrid version of the Cadillac CT6 later this year; that model will be exported to U.S. dealers.
- Game changer in trucking: Gladstein Neandross & Associates (GNA) today released “Game Changer,” a technical white paper – written on behalf of multiple private and public sector organizations – that explores the need and approaches to start deploying zero-emission and near-zero-emission heavy-duty vehicle technologies on a wide-scale basis in the U.S. The white paper has compared four fuel-technology combinations to address these goals and has concluded that there is only one pathway that meets the commercial feasibility and logistics tests to immediately begin this transformation. This is near-zero-emission heavy-duty natural gas vehicles fueled by increasing volumes of ultra-low-GHG renewable natural gas (RNG). This topic is also part of a speaker panel this morning at ACT Expo. Read more about the white paper.
- Range extended BMWs: The next versions of the BMW i3 and i8 will see extended range and power. The i3 electric car in 2017 will have a bigger battery to boost its electric range from 80 to 114 miles. The i3 will have a 50% increase in battery capacity. With its denser lithium ion batteries, the i3 goes from 22 kWh to 33 kWh without physically increasing the size of the battery pack. The BMW i8 will have more horsepower and longer battery range when released in the next year. It will be gaining a more powerful electric motor that would go a little bit faster than its current 0 to 62 mph in 4.4 seconds. It may gain an increase of 50 percent range, just like the i3. The BMW i3 is due to roll out later this year in dealer showrooms as a 2017 model. The revised i8 isn’t expected to reach showrooms until next year.
- DOE offering $22.3 million in funding: The U.S. Department of Energy will issue a $22.3 million funding opportunity for vehicle technologies including medium- and heavy-duty plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs); direct injection propane engines; and alternative fuel vehicle community partner projects. Applications and questions are not currently being accepted. It is anticipated that this Funding Opportunity Announcement will be posted to the EERE Exchange website in June 2016.
- Associate of Science degree approved: Rio Hondo College, based in Whittier, Calif., has been granted approval for its Automotive Technology Program to offer California’s first Associate of Science degree in hybrid/electric vehicle/fuel-cell technology. The approval from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office came in just 22 days – an incredibly quick turnaround that acknowledges the strength of the program, said Professor John Frala, who designed the Associate of Science degree. “Companies are calling me about employees already,” Frala said. “These cars are in heavy demand in California and there is a shortage of qualified technicians right now. Not many technicians out in the field are safely trained to work on high-voltage vehicles.”
- Resources for multi-unit dwelling charging: The California Plug-in Electric Vehicle Collaborative (PEVC) has been compiling and collecting case studies for the past four years on completed multi-unit dwelling (MuD) vehicle charging in California to publish on the PEVC website. These are being made available to all to illustrate the spectrum of approaches that can be taken to achieve vehicle charging in these communities. Examples of past case studies are available on this site. You can also access the MuD Guide, MuD Survey Form, and other resources that have been put together and will be expanding. You can also register to view the webinar “emPower the People: EV Charging for Apartment & Condo Residents,” from Plug In America. It’s scheduled to take place on Wednesday, May 25, 2016 from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. PDT. The program features the “emPower the People Toolkit” (em = electric mobility). The toolkit has been designed to help guide residents in organizing and requesting vehicle charging in their communities.
- Best SUV fuel economy: The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid has been rated by Consumer Reports as having the best overall fuel economy of any SUV that doesn’t plug in. It came in at 31 mpg in the tests, with 26 mpg city and 36 mpg highway, which is better than most midsized sedans. The standard engine is a 176-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder that drives through a six-speed automatic transmission. The RAV4 Hybrid surges ahead of the previous mileage champs, the Lexus NX 300h and Lexus RX 450h with their 29 mpg overall.
- 500K gallons of RNG: Fred Meyer Stores, a division of The Kroger Co., formed an agreement with Clean Energy for up to 500,000 gallons of Redeem renewable natural gas (RNG) fuel for its fleet of 40 LNG trucks based out of its Clackamas, Ore., distribution center. Fred Meyer is the first company in the State of Oregon to take advantage of the Oregon Clean Fuel Program, which calls for the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through the use of cleaner fuels such as natural gas and renewable natural gas, according to Clean Energy.
- Fleet charging: ChargePoint is today unveiling the new CPF25 charging station and upgrades to its Fleet Plan at the 2016 ACT Expo. The CPF25 station is a fully networked, 32 amp, Level 2 charging station with design features that include an RFID card/smartphone reader for authentication, robust Wi-Fi, and an easy-to-mount, compact case rated for indoor or outdoor use. It comes in 18 and 23 foot cable options with a standard J1772 connector that can plug into to any EV. ChargePoint has optional mounting accessories that support wall or pedestal installations with optional cable management.
- Uber infographic: Ridesharing giant Uber is getting so much press and social media attention, and increasing ridership, to inspire the creation of an elaborate infographic, “39 facts about Uber.” Uber is becoming something like Tesla as a fascinating symbol of the new mobile device, advanced tech, shared economy in the U.S. and globally. Here’s a passage from the report that says it well: “Founded in 2009 by a college dropout, Uber is a classic tech success story, and the company’s exponential growth/colossal funding over the past six years have launched it to the forefront of the startup world.”