Here’s my take on the 10 most significant and interesting occurrences during the past week…….
1. DOE funds supporting advancements in electrified transportation
The US Department of Energy (DOE) is making $55 million available in funding for projects to move electrified transportation forward both in the vehicles and in the batteries. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said its part of a project launched in 2012 that aims to put plug-in electric vehicles on the same footing as internal combustion engine vehicles in terms of cost and convenience by 2022. DOE also is collaborating with the Department of the Army at a facility in Warren, Mich., on a research project focused on battery technology and reduced friction from vehicle powertrains. About 31 projects will be funded to help meet President Obama’s “Electric Vehicles (EV) Everywhere Grand Challenge” announced in 2012. Projects will include breakthrough technology for EV batteries, lightweight body material, powertrains, and lubricants.
2. Details coming out on AtCar Expo next month
NAFA Fleet Management Association will present a full track of programming at AltCar Expo in Santa Monica, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 19. Workshops will include “The Eight Disciplines of Fleet Management,” “Vehicle Fuel Management Boot Camp – Preparing for the Certification Exam,” and “NAFA’s Sustainability Standard.” Tony Seba, a lecturer at Stanford University, will discuss his new book, Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation; and there will be a post Conference Reception at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. AltCar Expo, with its ride and drive and exhibits, will take place on Friday, Sept. 19 and Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014, at the Santa Monica Civic. The industry and fleet conference on Friday, Sept. 19, requires a pre-registration with an advance price of $50 and an on-site price of $65; parking is $10 for those using the Civic parking lot.
3. Tony Posawatz joins INRIX board, and still no word on Fisker leadership
Tony Posawatz, former General Motors and Fisker Automotive executive, has joined the board of INRIX, a provider of traffic information and transportation analytics. Posawatz put in 30 years with General Motors and played a top leadership role in engineering and launching the Chevrolet Volt. He served as CEO of Fisker Automotive for about a year through August 2013. For the past year, Posawatz has worked as a consultant through his role as CEO at Invictus iCAR LLC.
4. Mazda is rolling out a diesel-hybrid car, but hasn’t announced when it will come to America
Mazda is finally joining the alternative fuel vehicle space with its diesel-hybrid option. Mazda may start building diesel-hybrids as early as 2016. The Japanese automaker was originally planning on rolling out a diesel version of its Mazda6 midsize sedan – complementing its fuel-efficient Skyactiv gasoline models. That launch was delayed until an unspecified time, and it may have changed over to its diesel-hybrid launch. Mazda hasn’t announced when it would come to the US, but it’s expected to offer high mileage. It could be an attractive option in the US market as American car shoppers become more interested in clean diesel and its price recently has become closer to gasoline.
5. Eaton may be gone, but Parker Hannifin offers a hybrid truck system
For fleets looking for medium-duty hybrid tucks, Eaton may be out of the game now, but Parker Hannifin is still playing. The company’s Runwise is part of its series hybrid drive systems using hydraulic pressure to move commercial vehicles such as garbage trucks. Its hydraulic drive system is distinct in the market; when starting up, the engine charges a high-pressure accumulator in the hydraulic system; hitting the brake pedal drives energy back from a reservoir into the accumulator – driving energy normally lost in braking back into powering the truck. It’s similar to regenerative braking systems currently being used in several hybrid passenger cars.
6. CarCharging Group added to list of publicly traded companies
One of the largest charging station network companies, CarCharging Group, has been added to Green Auto Market Extended Edition’s list of publicly traded companies to follow. Last month, the company announced that CarCharging Group and its subsidiary, Blink Network (which it acquired from the now-defunct Ecotality during its bankruptcy), are participating in Nissan’s “No Charge to Charge” program.
7. Renovo Motors shows off 500-hp electric muscle car in Pebble Beach
The Renovo Coupe was demonstrated Sunday at the Pebble Beach Concept Lawn as part of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Silicon Valley startup Renovo Motors showed off what it’s labelled “America’s First All-Electric Supercar,” a modified coupe outfitted with a 500-horsepower battery-powered electric supercar that can go from 0 to 60 in a mere 3.4 seconds.
8. Two Chinese electric carmaker startups made big announcements last week
Kandi Technologies Group, Inc., announced that the first 208 Kandi brand electric vehicles (EVs) were delivered as the official launch of Shanghai Jinshan public pure EV sharing program (the Shanghai Jinshan “Car-Share” Program) and Long-term Group Leasing Program. On August 14, 2014, ZuoZhongYou (Shanghai) Electric Vehicle Service Co., Ltd., which was formally established on June 16, 2014 in Shanghai by Zhejiang ZuoZhongYou Electric Vehicle Service Co., Ltd. hosted a launching ceremony at Jinshan District in Shanghai. All of 208 EVs were sent to rental stations in Zhu Jing, Shi Hua, Feng Jing and Ting Lin, four towns at Jinshan for users’ immediate use. Zap, an EV automotive company incorporated in California and headquartered in Santa Rosa, Calif., and its subsidiary Jonway Auto are realigning its resources to support volume production of their EV product line by putting in three parallel EV production lines in their manufacturing plant in Zhejiang Province. Two of the new EV production lines are already in full operation producing the Urbee, a city neighborhood vehicle that has drawn orders from multiple large dealerships in China, resulting in backlog over the next year of over 25,000 vehicles. The additional third new EV production line being put in place will switch from producing gasoline versions of SUV and Minivans, to supporting full electric vehicle models of the SUV and Minivan by 4th quarter of 2014.
9. German industrial gases and engineering company Linde AG will start small-series production of hydrogen fueling stations. Some of the stations are slated to open in California as Toyota debuts its Highlander hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicle (FCEV) in 2015.
10. General Motors has released more information on its 200-mile range plug-in electric vehicle. It’s not a new vehicle with its own nameplate; this electric vehicle will likely be the next generation Chevrolet Sonic that will be launched in 2016 or 2017.