Monthly Archives: November 2015

This Week’s Top 10: EPA issues rules on biofuels, Faraday launching concept car at CES

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. Renewable Fuel StandardEPA issues final rules on RFS: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced final volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program yesterday for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016, and final volume requirements for biomass-based diesel for 2014 to 2017. EPA set out a goal of 18 billion gallons of renewable fuels overall for 2016, an increase from what the agency had suggested in June but far less than the renewable fuel level anticipated by the statute originally issued in 2007; that law had envisioned 22.25 billion gallons by 2016. The rule finalizes higher volumes of renewable fuel than the levels EPA proposed in June. The final 2016 standard for cellulosic biofuel is nearly 200 million gallons, or seven times more, than the market produced in 2014. The final 2016 standard for advanced biofuel is nearly one billion gallons, or 35%, higher than the actual 2014 volumes. The agency said it formulated this policy based on more than 670,000 comments from the public. The ethanol blend in gasoline went up from 16.3 billion gallons in 2015 proposed earlier this year by EPA to 16.93 billion in the finalized rules; and for next year, the volume increased from 17.4 billion gallons to 18.11. These volumes could bring the gasoline ethanol blend over 10% this year and next, which the oil industry says will raise fuel prices and further damage vehicle engines. Overall, the EPA decision didn’t appear to quiet the debate over biofuels from the oil industry or biofuels producers.
  2. Faraday launching concept car: Chinese startup electric carmaker Faraday Future will unveil a concept car at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this January in Las Vegas. Earlier this month, Faraday released a statement saying it would spend $1 billion on a U.S. factory for this production car; it’s expected to be launched as early as 2017. Faraday has a major Chinese investor, Jia Yueting, who founded Leshi Internet Information & Technology, who has a fortune estimated at $7 billion. Faraday now has about 400 employees, and operates out of a former Nissan research facility in Gardena, Calif., next to Los Angeles.
  3. COP21 starts in Paris: Global leaders met in Paris yesterday for the start of the United Nations COP21 climate summit; its ambitious goal is creating an international framework allowing countries to coordinate and gradually strengthen their efforts to fight climate change. It’s been years in the making and the source of much debate over commitments nations will make to reducing climate change and providing financial aid to countries that have suffered damage from it. Nearly 150 global leaders are expected to attend, including Barack Obama, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Security will be tight at the conference, a little more than two weeks after terrorist attacks in the city. “What a powerful rebuke to the terrorists it will be when the world stands as one and shows that we will not be deterred from building a better future for our children,” Obama said last week.
  4. Tesla Model X pricing: Tesla Motors’ new electric SUV, Model X, will have a wide range of MSRP prior to its $7,500 federal tax credit. It has a starting price of $80,000 before delivery charges all the way to $132,000 for the Model X P90D Signature Edition. That will include the Ludicrous Mode, which means you can go from 0 to 60 in just 3.2 seconds. Deliveries of the Model X will start in early 2016. The Model X is being recognized for going an estimated 257 miles, which is significant for a battery electric vehicle, and for its “falcon” doors.
  5. Federal rule on sight-impaired pedestrians delayed: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has delayed rules that would require electric and hybrid vehicles to alert sight-impaired pedestrians and bicycle riders about approaching cars. That ruling will be delayed until at least mid-March, and sets back hopes that the rule proposed in 2013 would be worked out by now. NHTSA says that the chance of pedestrians being injured in a crash are nearly 20% higher compared to traditional gasoline-powered vehicles.
  6. Hyundai selects AeroVironment: Hyundai Motor America has selected AeroVironment as the preferred provider for charging system installation at its North American dealerships for its all-new 2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid. Hyundai is the seventh electric vehicle manufacturer to choose AeroVironment as one of its suppliers. Hyundai owners can purchase AeroVironment home chargers and installation when purchasing their vehicles at the Hyundai dealership. AeroVironment-certified, licensed electricians, who are also specially qualified to support EV drivers, perform on-site installation and services.
  7. The California Air Resources Board has ordered Audi, Porsche, and Volkswagen to recall and repair “illegal” emissions software in more than 15,000 vehicles with 3.0-liter diesel engines sold in the state since 2009. This came out of Audi’s recent admission that its 3.0-liter diesels sold since the 2009 model year contained three “auxiliary emissions control devices” that regulate emissions performance that weren’t properly disclosed to regulators. In Germany, Volkswagen Group has agreed to recall 2.46 million diesel vehicles fitted with illegal emissions-control software in that nation. Overall, VW has 11 million vehicles globally that may fall under these recalls, with about 8.5 million of them being in Europe.
  8. EV charging in China: To meet China’s goals of being the largest electrified vehicle market in the world, the national government has adopted a five-year plan to expand its battery charging network. In 2014, China had 780 charging stations and 31,000 charging poles (individual chargers). By 2020, the government aims to add 12,100 charging stations and 4.8 million charging poles. Beijing will likely get at least 7,400 charging stations and 2.5 million poles; Shangai is likely to join Beijing in getting more of the charging stations.
  9. Top Li-ion battery suppliers: LG Chem, Panasonic, and Samsung SDI have taken the top position in a leaderboard created by Navigant Research. The research firm anticipates that most new production hybrid and all plug-in electric vehicles will be shipped with lithium-ion batteries in the next few years. Leading companies in the field are large and financially stable companies, or are subsidiaries of these types of companies. They deliver Li-ion batteries to multiple markets, such as the consumer electronics and emerging stationary grid energy storage markets. The majority (72%) of demand for these batteries is expected to come from battery electric vehicles (BEVs), due to the larger battery packs typical of those vehicle types.
  10. Green SUV of the Year: Green Car Journal has announced its five finalists for the 2016 Green SUV of the Year award to be presented at the 2016 Washington Auto Show. Finalists include the BMW X1 xDrive28i, Honda HR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Mazda CX-3, and Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. “After years of focus on building more efficient and environmentally positive sedans and hatchbacks, a growing emphasis is now being placed on SUVs and crossover vehicles, one of the hottest segments in the auto market,” said Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of the Green Car Journal and CarsOfChange.com. The award recognizes this achievement, Cogan said.

Green Auto Market adding new department on advanced transportation and urban mobility

Urban mobilityAs I discussed last month during a workshop in Sacramento with colleagues, the “urbanization” trend with traffic congestion and air pollution is driving policy changes and increased use of transportation alternatives such as carsharing and ridesharing. Starting in this week’s Green Auto Market, a new department will join the Top 10 clean transportation stories: Advanced Transportation & Urban Mobility. Along with following companies such as Lyft, Uber, Zipcar, and Car2go, other topics that will be tracked and analyzed will include: autonomous vehicles, smart transportation, advanced vehicle technologies, Hyperloop and bullet trains, intelligent transportation systems, and connected cars. Here are some interesting advanced transportation developments over the past week………

  • The global electric vehicle racing event, Formula E, will be adding an autonomous electric car race next year. RoboRace will launch one-hour races designed to test artificial intelligence. These races will have 10 teams and 20 cars competing, and will take place on the same day and racing circuits as the Formula E championship. Kinetik, the company that will build all the cars for RoboRace, is “trying to make them better than humans. So it means we expect the cars will have high acceleration and high speeds,” said Denis Sverdlov of Kinetik.
  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is taking on SpaceX and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk. Blue Origin, based in Kent, Wash., and founded by Bezos, launched a rocket into space and landed it back on earth vertically on Monday of last week. While SpaceX was able to vertically land a rocket two years ago, that rocket hadn’t gone out into space. Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket reached 329,839 feet before returning to touch down on its Van Horn, Texas concrete landing pad. That rocket can be reused and may increase the frequency of launches; Bezos would like to carry tourists as well as cargo payloads into space. SpaceX does have an edge over Blue Origin on carrying payload. Blue Origin hasn’t been used yet for carrying a payload while SpaceX’s rockets have been used for commercial, military, and NASA payload launches since 2012. SpaceX will be taking its first human transport mission to the International Space Station in late 2017.
  • Uber is moving forward in navigation technology through agreements with TomTom and Microsoft. Uber will use TomTom’s maps and traffic data for its ridesharing service. Uber also acquired Microsoft’s mapping technology and the key personnel that came with it. Earlier this year, Uber also acquired veteran location industry company deCarta. Mapping data is expected to be key in Uber’s strategy to be a major player in autonomous vehicle technology.
  • The number if people using carsharing services is expected to mushroom over the next five years. Berg Insight predicts that the number of people around the world using carsharing services will grow from 6.5 million this year to 26 million in 2020. The number of vehicles used in carsharing is expected to grow from 123,000 cars today to 450,000 by the end of 2020. Technologies such as telematics systems and smartphones will support this growth, along with expansion of one-way carsharing that enables users to return the car to any station operated by the carsharing firm. Carsharing growth will also come through new markets accessed by major and local carsharing services; and through car-based mobility services from car rental, carpooling, ridesharing, taxi, and ridesourcing services.
  • Daimler’s carsharing service, Car2Go, is testing out a promotion to grow its membership. From now through Dec. 6, Car2Go is reducing its sign-up fee for new members from $35 to $5, and adding 60 minutes of free travel time. In addition, existing members will see the per-minute fee for signing out a car drop from 41 cents to 19 cents. Paul DeLong, the carsharing service’s CEO and president, sees the program as a way to both recruit new members and inspire existing members to use the service more regularly – and to compete with ridesharing services Uber and Lyft, which have been taking away market share. It should also help improve community relations in its home market of Austin; Car2Go had downsized its presence in the market, which received criticism from users who found their home or office suddenly cut out of the service area.

 

This Week’s Top 10: ARPA-E awards $125 million to 41 projects, Geely and Cadillac adding plug-ins to meet China mandates

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. ARPA-EARPA-E awards $125 million: The U.S. Dept. of Energy announced the awarding of $125 million for innovative energy technologies by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). The 41 projects include advanced vehicle technologies and alternative fuels, including: Achates Power, Inc. of San Diego, Calif., winning $9,002,986 to develop a multi-cylinder opposed piston engine operating with compression ignition; the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor will develop a high-efficiency engine system that integrates a compact micro-hybrid configuration of a supercharger with an electric waste heat recovery system and employs high rates of recirculated exhaust gases, which was granted $1,923,845; another University of Michigan project was granted $3,500,000 for electrode structures and manufacturing techniques to incorporate lithium-conducting ceramic electrolytes into solid-state batteries; researchers at Corning Incorporated in Corning, N.Y., won $3,102,359 and will develop roll-to-roll manufacturing techniques to produce thin ceramic electrolytes for solid-state batteries for higher energy density than conventional lithium-ion batteries. Read more about other transportation and energy grants made in the ARPA-E announcement.
  2. Geely and Cadillac take on China mandates: Chinese automaker Geely Automobile Holdings has committed to meeting “new energy” vehicle government mandates more than any other domestic OEM; during the next five years, more than 90% of its new models will come equipped with alternative-energy powertrains. About two-thirds of Geely’s new-energy vehicle models will be conventional gasoline-electric hybrids and plug-in hybrids by 2020, with the remaining new-energy vehicles being battery-electric vehicles. Geely, which has been developing vehicles with Volvo Cars, also said it aims to make “substantial progress” on fuel cell vehicles by 2020. Cadillac will be rolling out plug-in hybrid versions of most of its vehicles in coming years to meet China’s tightening regulations, according to Cadillac president Johan de Nysschen. Adding a battery electric luxury car to compete directly with Tesla isn’t in the brand’s business plan, he said. There are plenty of other models meeting U.S. fuel economy and emissions regulations, including the Chevy Volt and fuel efficient cars, he said.
  3. GM & Daimler committed to diesel: The Volkswagen diesel reporting scandal isn’t pushing General Motors or Daimler out of diesel-engine vehicles. GM product chief Mark Reuss thinks that diesel demand among truck buyers won’t be affected by the fallout from the VW scandal, and that its diesel-powered Chevrolet Cruze will be doing well. GM has begun production of diesel-equipped Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon midsize pickups. These pickups will join the V-8 Duramax diesel engines on its heavy-duty full-size pickups. Next year, GM will roll out a 1.6L diesel in the next-generation Cruze; the automaker will roll out at least one more diesel car, but hasn’t yet released details on it. Daimler’s commercial truck operation will invest $375 million at a complex near Detroit to build diesel engines for medium-duty trucks, expanding a strategy of building and selling trucks, engines, transmissions and axles as a package. It’s not competing directly with VW light-duty passenger cars, but the commitment to diesel technology is still significant during this time. In other VW news, U.S. Dept. of Justice investigators are investigating German auto supplier Robert Bosch GmbH for its role in VW’s scheme to cheat U.S. emission standards. Bosch built key components in the diesel engine used in six Volkswagen models and one Audi model that the automaker has admitted to rigging to defeat emissions tests.
  4. Tesla researches German battery factory: Tesla Motors has been in discussions with the German government over the prospect of building a battery factory in the country. Tesla may seek financial backing from the government. This may be targeted at Tesla’s competition in the luxury electric vehicle space with German automaker BMW and would support the opening of Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada. Tesla wouldn’t make comments to the media on a German battery factory, saying that there are “no current plans to build a battery factory in Germany.” Tesla did announce that it will recall the entire Model S fleet to deal with a potential seat belt defect. That will mean brining in 90,000 of these cars for inspection by Tesla. The recall came from the discovery in Europe two weeks ago of a single Tesla Model S with a “front seat belt that was not properly connected to the outboard lap pretensioner,” Tesla told its customers by email.
  5. Green truck awards: The Ford F-150 pickup has been named the Green Truck of the Year, and the Ram ProMaster City has won the Commercial Green Car of the Year. While the 2016 Chevrolet Volt won Green Car of the Year at the LA Auto Show (see article that follows), the truck awards were announced at the San Antonio Auto & Truck Show.
  6. Volvo and Microsoft going for autonomous vehicles: Volvo’s partnership with Microsoft will also extend to autonomous driving and other advanced automotive tech. The automaker announced it will work with Microsoft yet-to-be-released HoloLens augmented reality device. Volvo will also be working on autonomous driving technologies as well with Microsoft, and plants to use the enormous amount of data generated from connected cars to create other new services.
  7. Green Truck Summit expanding: The Green Truck Summit, held annually in conjunction with The Work Truck Show, features a more comprehensive educational program for 2016. The event includes a full day of in-depth general sessions on innovations for vocational trucks on March 1. Attendees can also choose from more than 30 Green Truck Summit and Work Truck Show concurrent sessions covering a range of topics March 2-3. Produced by NTEA, the Summit takes place at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis.
  8. Google Express expands in delivery business: Google has joined up with Amazon in the product delivery space by expanding its Google Express service into Southern California. Just in time for holiday shopping, Google Express is offering next-day service for shoppers in Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, and the Inland Empire. Google Express is already been in place in Northern California and West Los Angeles, along with Manhattan, Boston, Chicago, Washington, and in several states in the Midwest. Participating retails merchants include Costco, Target, Kohl’s, and Walgreens. Soon after the Google Express announcement, Amazon said that it’s expanding its same-day Prime Now delivery service in the San Diego area. Amazon now offers free same-day delivery options in 24 metropolitan areas — including Los Angeles and San Diego.
  9. Renewable diesel takes off at Propel stations: Consumer adoption of Propel Fuel’s Diesel HPR (High Performance Renewable) fuel has shot up 300% since its introduction in Southern California in August 2015, the company said; that’s compared to its former biodiesel product (B20). Diesel HPR is a low-carbon fuel that meets the ASTM D-976 petroleum diesel specifications for use in diesel engines while offering drivers better performance and lower emissions. A California Air Resources Board study shows that renewable diesel can reach up to 70% greenhouse gas reduction compared to petroleum diesel.
  10. Lightning Hybrids wins NREL award: Lightning Hybrids received the “Best Venture” award for its hydraulic hybrid system at the Industry Growth Forum held last week in Denver, which was hosted by the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The hydraulic hybrid system for medium and heavy duty vehicles has strong global market opportunities and provides benefits to a large and diverse group of stakeholders by providing fleets with a way to run cleaner and more efficient vehicles, the company said. The award named 30 emerging cleantech industry company finalists from a field of 115 to present their technologies and business models to a panel of knowledgeable investor judges.

Fuel cell cars and Chevrolet Volt gain prominence at 2015 LA Auto Show

Ford Transit Connect - Wahoo fleet vanThe Honda Clarity Fuel Cell, Chevrolet Volt, and Toyota Mirai were the leading green cars at this year’s LA Auto Show in gaining media attention. The Volt took its second “best” award since its initial launch in late 2010. Other auto show highlights included launching of the ROEV Association electric vehicle group, a first look at the production version of the Elio Motors 3-wheeler, and the Volvo Concept 26 self-driving car (and the Wahoo’s Fish Taco van pictured to the left.)

The Honda Clarity Fuel Cell had its North American debut at the LA Auto Show with more details released on the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle’s gains in interior space, efficiency, and performance. The Clarity Fuel Cell has a fuel cell stack that is 33% more compact than its predecessor with a 60% increase in power density compared to the outgoing Honda FCX Clarity. Honda says that the arrival time for the Clarity Fuel Cell will be in late 2016 for the U.S. market. Honda also announced that the platform used in the Clarity Fuel Cell will also serve as the foundation for a next-generation Honda plug-in hybrid electric vehicle that will launch nationwide by 2018, with more than triple the all-electric range of the Accord Plug-In Hybrid Sedan.

The completely redesigned 2016 Chevrolet Volt has been named Green Car of the Year, repeating a victory it claimed when the original plug-in hybrid debuted five years ago. The revamped 2016 Volt has been built on a new, lighter chassis, utilizing a smaller but more powerful battery pack that allows it to now squeeze in five passengers, and increases range to 53 miles per charge. The four 2016 model year finalists were: Toyota Prius which has a new body style and a fuel economy increase of about 10%; Honda Civic, which was also redesigned for 2016; Hyundai Sonata with its high-mileage gasoline engine as well as both a plug-in and a standard hybrid option; and Audi A3 Sportback e-tron, the automaker’s first U.S. plug-in hybrid model.

The Volt was available for the ride and drive, along with the Toyota Mirai fuel cell car. Those visiting the Toyota exhibit inside the hall could look under the Mirai’s hood; they could also watch a video playing tribute to the anniversary of the “Back to the Future” movie trilogy. Toyota participated in the 30th anniversary of the first film in the series with a commemorative video with the film’s stars, Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd. It also served as a kickoff for the U.S. debut of the 2016 Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle. Toyota says that about 2,000 people have already placed orders for a Mirai, which is now on sale in select California markets. Toyota anticipates that it will fulfill about half of those orders for the 2016 model year.

Located in Gilbert Lindsay Plaza right outside the convention center, the Green & Advanced Technology Ride & Drive also made available the Chevrolet Impala Bi-Fuel; Fiat 500e; Ford Focus 1.0-Liter EcoBoost; Ford Focus Electric; a Harman International test model with connected car features; Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell; and Nissan Leaf.

The Ford Transit Connect urban delivery van was prominent in the Ford Motor Co. exhibit space. As seen in the photo, one of the vans shown in the Ford display was a fleet vehicle used by Wahoo’s Fish Taco for catering. The most visible vehicle at the Ford exhibit was the refreshed 2017 Ford Escape that will go on sale next summer. Ford will put about 275,000 of these new vehicles on the road with start-stop technology, making it Ford’s biggest push into the fuel-saving technology to date.

On Thursday morning at the LA Auto Show, five partner companies announced the creation of the ROEV Association (which stands for Roaming for Electric Vehicle charging), a collaboration of industry stakeholders designed to support electric vehicle adoption by facilitating public charging network interoperability. BMW of North America, Nissan, and three EV charging networks – CarCharging/Blink, ChargePoint, and NRG EVgo – are working together on ROEV. The association says that its participants operate about 91% of the charging stations open to the U.S. public, with a total of 17,500 stations. One of ROEV’s primary goals is to provide easier access to all networked, public EV chargers by adopting and promoting interoperability standards. “The ROEV Association is working to streamline EV charging access across multiple charging networks in order to help bring EVs further into the mainstream,” said Simon Lonsdale, Chair of the Board of ROEV. (To learn more, visit www.roev.org.)

Those attending LA Auto Show were able to view the debut of the production version of 3-wheel gasoline-engine car from Elio Motors. The car is small and light enough to get 84 mpg and will cost $6,800. The company plans to launch production at an old General Motors plant in Shreveport, La., by the fourth quarter of 2016. Elio Motors is still looking for more financial backers to get the car ramped up for production and out for sale.

The Volvo Concept 26 is still years out, but gained attention during the auto show. It will be equipped with features such as a tablet computer built into the center console, a fold-away tray table, and a 25-inch color monitor that pops out of the passenger-side dashboard. The Concept 26 shares the same new Scalable Product Architecture used for most of Volvo’s future products, including its new XC90 SUV. Volvo says that the concept car had “26” added to its name as a reference to the fact that drivers average 26 minutes a day stuck in traffic-snarled cities like Los Angeles, which adds up to 100s of hours each year.

This Week’s Top 8: EPA expanding diesel testing, First plug-in hybrid Hyundai launched

by Jon LeSage, editor and publisher, Green Auto Market

Here’s my take on the eight most significant and interesting occurrences during the past week…….

  1. EPA testing VW emissionsEPA testing: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will be expanding on-roads emissions tests for all diesel vehicles. The EPA practice had been to test only a handful of new vehicle each year to confirm laboratory results. Its first tests have recently included diesel vehicles from other Volkswagen Group brands, which found that about 10,000 VW, Audi, and Porsche vehicles using a 3.0-liter diesel V-6 also had illegal software. European regulators also plan to add on-road testing, although for somewhat different purposes than their U.S. counterparts.
  2. Hyundai plug-in hybrid: The 2016 Sonata Plug-in Hybrid is the first plug-in hybrid electric vehicle launched by Hyundai and comes with a 27 mile All-Electric Range (AER). “The flexibility of this alternative powertrain delivers efficient hybrid operation and eliminates any concerns for range anxiety, while providing an impressive total driving range capable of 600 miles,” said Mike O’Brien, vice president, corporate and product planning, Hyundai Motor America. The Sonata Plug-in Hybrid’s 9.8 kWh lithium polymer battery system helps deliver 99 MPGe.
  3. Best mpg pickup: The 2016 Chevrolet Colorado two-wheel drive with the Duramax turbo-diesel is the most fuel-efficient pickup in the U.S. with an Environmental Protection Agency-estimated 31 mpg highway fuel economy. The EPA-estimated highway fuel economy for 2016 Colorado four-wheel drive diesel is 29 mpg. With the Colorado’s 21-gallon fuel tank, the 2WD model offers an estimated maximum highway range of 651 miles per tank.
  4. EcoBoost benchmark: Ford launched its EcoBoost fuel-efficient engines in 2007 and is getting close to selling one million vehicles with these downsized, gasoline turbocharged, direct-injected (GTDI) engines. Currently every Lincoln-brand vehicle and every Ford from the Fiesta through the F-150 has at least one EcoBoost engine available as either standard equipment or an option. EcoBoost has been part of Ford hitting its fuel economy targets along with hybrid and plug-in vehicles.
  5. Fuel cell alliances: Audi may be getting into the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle business, and has acquired a number of patents on fuel cell technology from Canadian company Ballard Power Systems, a developer of fuel cells. Ballard has an agreement with Audi, with the two working together through 2019. Ballard thinks that the patents will help Audi develop a fuel cell vehicle that will be ready for the commercial market at some point in the future. In another alliance, 3M will support Plug Power’s expansion into hydrogen-enabled electric vehicle applications outside of the material handling market. 3M will supply Plug Power with membrane electrode assemblies to be used in Plug Power designed proton exchange membrane fuel cell stacks under a new strategic supply agreement.
  6. Recycled seat material: Carol Kordich, Ford lead designer, global sustainability materials strategy development, accepted the Society of Plastics Engineers’ Automotive Innovation Award in the Environmental category. Kordich was recognized for her work to replace traditional seat fabric with one made of 100% recycled material. Kordich’s effort helps to divert more than 11 million water bottles from landfills annually.
  7. Port of LA SCIG court hearings: On Nov. 16-17, California Superior Court Judge Barry Goode will listen to attorneys representing environmental organizations, community members, and regulatory agencies. Several parties have filed suit and will be heard by the court over two days over the planned Southern California International Gateway (SCIG) railyard. This plan was first announced in 2005 for a train path adjacent to West Long Beach. The Port of Los Angeles and Burlington Northern Santa Fe have committed to allow the Port to handle more cargo and reduce air pollution. Those filing suit have said that the SCIG will make air pollution worse, especially for the low-income, disadvantaged communities.
  8. Ford begins Mcity testing: Ford will become the first automaker to test out the 32-acre Mcity facility at the University of Michigan. Ford has been testing autonomous vehicle technologies for more than 10 years, and will expand testing of its Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Research vehicle. The research project combines driver-assist technologies, such as front-facing cameras, radar and ultrasonic sensors, with four LiDAR sensors to produce a real-time 3D map of the vehicle’s surrounding environment.

Karma Automotive partners with BMW to survive in the tough global auto market

Karma AutomotiveKarma Automotive is transitioning beyond the original Fisker Karma electric-drive system through a new partnership with BMW, using its latest powertrain components. Karma, which recently opened a manufacturing plant in California, plans to begin selling its flagship luxury car late next year that will start with a $115,000 price tag. Owned by Chinese auto parts giant Wanxiang Group, Karma Automotive has contracted with BMW to supply its battery charging system and some of its electric-drive technology.

Sharing components through automaker alliances has become a common practice in global auto manufacturing in recent years. With BMW’s successful i Series electric drivetrain used in the i3 and i8 models, it was probably inevitable that a partner company entering the luxury electric vehicle space would make an alliance with the German automaker.

For startups like Karma and Tesla Motors, relationships with large, established automakers has been essential for breaking into the capital-intensive, competitive automotive space. Tesla was able to go that route to cut time and cost through acquiring the Lotus chassis for the Tesla Roadster. Tesla also gained investors and corporate clients selling its powertrain components to Toyota and Daimler for their electric vehicles. While the Tesla/Toyota deal is ending, the Japanese automaker’s investment in Tesla, and turning over its old NUMMI plant in Fremont, Calif., to Tesla, were important steps for the startup electric carmaker to survive and move forward.

Karma’s battery will be provided by A123 Systems, a company Wanxiang also purchased out of bankruptcy. A123 was the original supplier to the Fisker Karma, but has developed a new battery for the Karma model coming out late next year. BMW will supply high-voltage battery charging systems and a wide range of hybrid and EV systems.

The year 2012 was devastating for Fisker Automotive and A123 Systems. In January 2012, 239 Fisker Karmas were recalled due to A123 battery defects blamed for causing fires under the hood. In March of that year, Consumer Reports called the Karma “undrivable” from its testing site. The year wrapped up in November with Hurricane Sandy causing a New Jersey port to be flooded, which took out more than 300 Karmas parked there waiting for carrier trucks.

Karma Automotive thinks that the alliance with BMW will lead to other new vehicle announcements, according to Karma Chief Marketing Officer Jim Taylor. One of them will be a battery-electric model. “Carmakers buy parts from other carmakers, especially in expensive areas like powertrain technology. As we launch the vehicle under the new name Karma, using BMW components will be a big help to the brand,” Taylor said.

Karma Automotive will be assembling its cars at its Moreno Valley, Calif., 555,670 square-foot facility.  Its headquarters office is located in Costa Mesa, Calif. The company currently has about 300 employees, with about 40 working at the plant.

Chinese automakers are expected to play a vital role in the future of electric vehicles in the U.S. and China. Along with Wanxiang Group bailing out Karma Automotive and A123 Systems, there are several other alliances picking up steam:

  • Santa Rosa, Calif.-based three-wheel electric carmaker Zap nearly went out of business until its merger a few years ago with Chinese company Jonway Auto. Dong Feng Motor Corp. expects delivery of at least 3,000 electric vehicle minivans from Zap and Jonway by Dec. 31, 2015. Dong Feng expects its order to increase to at least 2,000 units per months starting in January 2016.
  • Faraday Future, owned by Leshi Internet Information and Technology Corp., is developing an electric vehicle to compete with rival Tesla Motors. The start-up is based in Gardena, Calif.
  • Atieva Inc., based in Menlo Park, Calif., is also working on a new electric car. That company is also backed by Leshi, as well as by Beijing Automobile Industry Holding Co.
  • Coda Automotive, a battery electric carmarker based in California, has gone bankrupt. Coda had partnered with Chinese battery company Lishen, and carried that technology over to its Coda Energy battery energy storage company after Coda Automotive went out of business.
  • Chinese automaker BYD, which impressed Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway enough to bring them in as a major investor, has set up U.S. headquarters in Los Angeles. BYD is lining up contracts to deliver electric buses to transit agencies in the region.

This Week’s Top 10: VW recall list expands, Fiat Chrysler entering hybrid market

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. Volkswagen diesel recallVW recall list expands: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has expanded the list of 3.0-liter TDI diesel engines that have illegal emissions software – this time adding several Audi models, one Porsche diesel model, and another VW. VW’s corporate headquarters has been fighting the new EPA decision, but has issued a stop-sale order to its dealers on the newly named models. The latest list includes: Audi A6 TDI: 2014-2016; Audi A7 TDI: 2014-2016; Audi A8 TDI: 2014-2016; Audi Q5 TDI: 2014-2016; Audi Q7 TDI: 2013-2016; Porsche Cayenne Diesel: 2014-2016; and Volkswagen Touareg TDI: 2013-2016. These include both new and certified pre-owned versions of these cars. In other news, several Volkswagen engineers have admitted manipulating carbon dioxide emissions data because goals set by former CEO Martin Winterkorn were difficult to achieve, a German media outlet reported. And to appease VW owners, Volkswagen of America will offer $500 to owners of 2.0-liter diesel vehicles with illegal emissions test-rigging software.
  2. First Chrysler hybrid: A hybrid version of the redesigned Chrysler Town & Country will be part of the minivan’s launch at the Detroit Auto Show. It will be the first step in converting “most of the fleet,” adding a hybrid version throughout the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles vehicle lineup in the 2020-to-2025 time frame, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said during a conference call. It will be motivated by meeting federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards of reaching a fleet average of 54.5 mpg (equivalent to about 42 mpg on the window sticker) by 2025. It may also have something to do with FCA backing off adding new diesel models to its lineup in the wake of the VW emissions scandal. For several years, Chrysler had been experimenting with plug-in hybrid test models; it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that some of the news hybrid models will also have plug-in versions.
  3. Tesla 3Q report: Tesla Motors reported total revenue of $937 million – above Wall Street expectations, but a drop from second-quarter revenue of $955 million and a rise from third-quarter revenue of $852 million during 2014. The company reported a loss of $230 million, or $1.78 per share. Stock closed at $208.35 but surged to as high as $231 per share in after-market action. Tesla had $392 million in capital outlay, largely the result of factory expansion to accommodate the new Model X production line in Fremont, Calif., and investment in its Gigafactory battery factory near Sparks, Nev. The company also reported $39 million in sales of government-awarded zero-emissions vehicle credits, and $33 million in sales of pre-owned cars. The company expects to manufacture “several hundred” of its Model X SUVs by the end of the year.
  4. Faraday sets up shop: A luxury electric carmaker has come to California, setting up a corporate office with 400 employees. Housed in Nissan’s former U.S. sales office in Gardena, Calif., Faraday is planning on launching its first electric vehicle in 2017 and is looking for factory locations in California, Georgia, Louisiana, and Nevada. Incorporation papers filed with the California secretary of state’s office links Faraday to a Chinese media company operated by Jia Yueting, an entrepreneur who founded Leshi Internet Information & Technology. Jia may have net worth of $7 billion; he recently launched a line of smartphones and took a 70% investment stake in Yidao Yongche, an Uber-like car service in China. Jia has made comments that he plans on developing a car that could compete with Tesla Motors. Faraday may be investing $1 billion in its manufacturing facility. Chaoying Deng, a woman who runs a Leshi affiliate in the U.S., is listed in the filing as Faraday’s chief executive. Nick Sampson, who headed vehicle and chassis engineering for the Tesla Model S sport sedan, is now serving as senior vice president at Faraday. Richard Kim is head of design, and had provided those services to BMW, Porsche, and Audi.
  5. Toyota’s artificial intelligence arm: Toyota Motor Corp. will be investing about $1 billion in a U.S.-based r&d company, Toyota Research Institute Inc., to develop artificial intelligence technologies for future vehicles. Gill Pratt, Toyota’s technical adviser and a former Pentagon robotics expert, will be the CEO of the new enterprise. TRI will be based in Silicon Valley near Stanford University, and the office will open in January. Another office will be set up near the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. Projects will include systems that prevent traffic accidents and makes driving accessible to more people; including cars that can help handicapped people or the elderly stay behind the wheel; and another objective will be at-home technologies such as helper robots.
  6. Bob Lutz predicts doom for Tesla: Ex-GM vice chairman and Via Motors chairman of the board Bob Lutz doesn’t think Tesla Motors will make it. “Tesla’s showing all the signs of a company in trouble: bleeding cash, securitized assets, and mounting inventory. It’s the trifecta of doom for any automaker, and anyone paying attention probably saw this coming a mile away,” he wrote in a Road and Track guest commentary. One big problem is the real cost of a retail store with its service bays, chargers, and well-trained staff. A dealership location takes a lot of cash flow, he says.
  7. Installing hydrogen stations: For anyone building hydrogen fueling stations in California or other states, check out the GO-Biz Hydrogen Permitting Station Guidebook. Aimed at station developers, permitting officials and Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs), the guidebook provides insights and lessons captured from the past two years of hydrogen station development in California. The Guidebook provides a detailed discussion of the permitting process and suggested best practices for local and regional governments and station developers seeking to open (or in the process of opening) a hydrogen fueling station.
  8. Autonomous vehicles on roads: Tesla CEO Elon Musk seems to agree with a study last year by Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) predicting that fully autonomous vehicles will be on U.S. roads between 2030 and 2035. During a conference call, Musk said that vehicles that can’t switch into autonomous mode will be seen as having “negative value.” He predicts that within 15 to 20 years, it will be “quite unusual to see cars that don’t have full autonomy.” Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn seems to understand why Tesla is investing in Autopilot so early in the game. Last week at the Tokyo Motor Show, Ghosn introduced Nissan’s IDS (Intelligent Drive System) concept car with its autonomous vehicle mode and long-range battery drive system.
  9. Steve Jobs and an Apple car: Back in 2008, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs had conversations with Apple senior VP Tony Fadell about launching an iCar. In the time frame soon after the iPhone launch, Jobs was interested in talking about why type of car they would build, what would be placed on the dashboard, and how it would be fueled or powered. In an interview with Bloomberg, Fadell talked about how the two collaborators on the iPod and iPhone swapped ideas about car designs – long before Apple began investing in the potential of designing autonomous electric vehicles. The crash of the auto industry the next year got their attention on other priorities.
  10. Keystone pipeline: As expected, President Obama has rejected the request from Canadian company TransCanada to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline. “America is now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change,” Obama said at the White House. “And, frankly, approving this project would have undercut that global leadership.” This decision ends a seven-year review that had become a battleground in Washington.

A look at year-to-date numbers on U.S. green car sales

Chevy Volt at dealershipCar shoppers are weighing the pros and cons of buying their first-ever or next-generation acquisition of clean technologies in new vehicles. Gasoline prices staying down and the 2016 model year launch of refreshed models are influencing purchase decisions.

  • Hybrids are down 15.7% year-to-date compared to the first nine months of 2014; sales are down 5% from September and declined 1.3% from October 2014. Gasoline prices are staying down, and are expected to do so into at least the first months of 2016. With more cost-competitive, highly rated small cars and crossovers, the competition is steep. The Toyota Prius hybrid models made up nearly half of October hybrid sales, and Toyota and Lexus models made up six of the top 10.
  • On the plug-in electric vehicle side, the Tesla Model S continues to lead in sales. The revised 2016 Chevy Volt is starting to roll out slowly to dealerships, and is getting a turnaround on soft sales – coming in at 2,035 compared to 2,100 for the Model S and 1,238 for the Nissan Leaf. Consumers seem to be waiting longer for the new Leaf. The Volt closely trails the Leaf in total U.S. sales to date since the initial launch in late 2010, with 84,656 delivered and the Leaf at 87,190. The Leaf is about 3,500 units sold ahead of the Volt year-to-date in 2015.
  • Fueleconomy.gov just released its 2016 EPA mileage ratings. The BMW i3 led the list in estimated mileage (MPGe) with 117 combined MPGe for the BMW i3 REX (range extender) plug-in hybrid and 124 combined MPGe for the BMW i3 battery electric model. The Volt came in at #2 on the plug-in hybrid ranking with 106 combined MPGe for the 2016 model; and the Chevrolet Spark EV finished at #2 on the battery electric chart with 119 combined MPGe. At 986 total sales in October, the BMW i3 has held a steady position in the top five this year.
  • The Ford Fusion and C-Max continue to hold a steady pace mid-way on the sales list this year for the Fusion Hybrid and Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid; and the C-Max Hybrid and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid.
  • The first wave of the Volkswagen TDI diesel emissions scandal has hurt sales on the VW models named on the list; and that list looks to be expanding with a new EPA report (which is being fought by VW). The Ram Pickup continues to dominate the list of diesel passenger vehicle sales, which was in the works long before the VW scandal. That truck has had a strong share of diesel sales for several years, and hasn’t been dragged into allegations of misreporting its emissions. At 48,789 pickups sold this year, it far outpaces No. 2 on the list for October – Audi Q7 diesel, which has sold 3,579 units in the U.S. this year.

This Week’s Top 10: Highlights from Tokyo Motor Show, How are you shopping for cars?

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. Honda Clarity Fuel CellHighlights from Tokyo: Fuel-cell cars took the lead in green car debuts at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show; electric cars, hybrids, and autonomous driving were also central at this year’s event. Honda has launched its first production version of a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle; the Clarity Fuel Cell (replacing the FCX Clarity model name). It will go on sale in Japan in early 2016, and will be brought to the U.S. later. The Lexus LF-FC concept car is a large hydrogen fuel-cell luxury sedan that may preview the next-generation Lexus LS. The Mercedes-Benz Vision Tokyo concept has self-driving capabilities and a bulbous shape. The Mitsubishi concept battery electric eX has a 45 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The Nissan IDS Concept electric car includes a wireless inductive charging feature. The IDS Concept may be setting the look for the next-generation Nissan Leaf, which is likely coming out in the 2018 model year; and it may come with a 60-kWh battery pack. The second Nissan concept car introduced at the show was the Teatro for Dayz mini-electric car. The Subaru Viziv Future has a turbocharged internal-combustion engine to power the front wheels, and an electric motor to power the rear wheels; it may someday be available as a hybrid crossover.
  2. Sharing your perspectives on vehicle purchasing: Consulting company BKi is conducting a study about how people shop for new vehicles. If you bought or leased a new passenger vehicle for personal, business or fleet use, please complete this short, confidential survey. BKi focuses on energy, economics, and the environment. Clients include U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Dept. of Energy, California Air Resources Board, California Energy Commission, Mercedes-Benz USA, Toyota, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and H2USA. Click here to take this brief survey.
  3. The latest on Volkswagen: The recall list is getting longer. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency yesterday issued a new Notice of Violation to Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche saying that the 2014 VW Touareg, 2015 Porsche Cayenne, and 2016 Audi A6 Quattro, A7 Quattro, A8, A8L and Q5 crossover with 3.0-liter diesel engines contained the illegal software. This covers about 10,000 vehicles from the 2014 and 2015 model years, and an unknown number of 2016 model year vehicles are involved.…….. A panel of federal judges will meet in early December to decide on a single venue to handle the expected a wave of class-action lawsuits. So far, more than 300 lawsuits have been filed against VW following breaking news that the automaker cheated on diesel emissions tests.
  4. Honda Clarity launch details, and BMW announcement: The Honda Clarity Fuel Cell hydrogen-powered car will go on sale in Japan and the U.S. next spring. In the U.S., sales will start in California where a network of hydrogen fueling stations have been constructed. Driving range estimates have varied from over 300 miles on a tank of fuel to 435 miles. Its price is expected to start at $63,000, and the marketing campaign is expected to tell how its driving range and interior space are more than what Toyota is offering in its Mirai fuel cell car. Honda is also looking into a program offering a portable hydrogen station. BMW AG said last week that its first fuel-cell vehicle would likely be a larger-sized sedan which would go on the market after 2020. That’s right after BMW’s hydrogen R&D partnership with Toyota will end. The two automakers are developing a method to compress hydrogen at ultra-low temperatures to increase fuel storage volume.
  5. Jaguar electric vehicle: Another luxury electric car may be coming out soon. Jaguar plans to launch a battery electric model called E-Pace, which will probably be a variant of the new Jaguar F-Pace SUV. Light carbon fiber and lightweight aluminum, and an aerodynamic shape, should help enhance the range it can travel on a full charge. The Jaguar E-Pace will use at least two electric motors, one or more for each axle for an all-wheel drive system.
  6. Autonomous EV from Nissan: The Nissan concept car, IDS, mentioned in the Tokyo Motor Show coverage above, is being designed to be driven autonomously. The Intelligent Driving System (IDS) can be self-driven, and with its 60 kWh battery pack, will be able to go 200 miles between charges. CEO Carlos Ghosn says that it’s being designed to learn the habits of its owners to modify the way it drives, including recommending restaurants to stop at for meals. Ghosn thinks it would be ideal for crowded urban environments – and would “compensate for human error which causes more than 90% of accidents,” he said.
  7. Carsharing will grow six-fold: Navigant Research estimates carsharing will grow six times by 2024 – from $1.1 billion this year to $6.5 billion in global revenue by 2024. While it’s been around for about 15 years now, it’s expected to mushroom in growth due to the popularity of one-way carsharing services; the adoption of electric vehicles in carsharing fleets is growing as carmakers help promote the technology, and this is also helping growth in carsharing usage. Those living in crowded cities appreciate having more options for multi-modal on-demand mobility, the study says.
  8. Self-driving car research: A self-driving car study done by the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute found that crash rates in driverless cars were higher than conventional, human-driven vehicles; but the self-driving cars were not at fault and the severity of the crashes were lower than for conventional vehicles. The study conducted a preliminary analysis of the cumulative on-road safety record in 2013 of self-driving vehicles for three of the 10 companies that are currently approved for such vehicle testing in California (Google, Delphi, and Audi).
  9. Prius owners holding cars for long periods: Concern over the reliability of hybrids like the popular Toyota Prius is finding more good news. A study done by iSeeCars via Wards Auto found that the Prius is No. 2 on the list of longest-owned vehicles with 28.5% of original Prius owners keeping their cars for 10 years. The Honda CR-V crossover was No. 1 on the list, with 28.6% of owners keeping these vehicles for 10 years. “There are a rather large contingent of Toyota Prius owners who are happily touting the fact that their cars have logged 100,000 miles or more,” said iSeeCars CEO Phong Ly.
  10. BYD sees strong performance results: Chinese automaker BYD has been seeing stronger sales and financial results this year – net profit for the third quarter totaled 1.49 billion yuan (about $236 million), up from 28.2 million yuan a year earlier. BYD’s sales of plug-in hybrids and electric cars soared 220% year-over-year in September to 6,013 vehicles. The Tang SUV, BYD’s third plug-in hybrid passenger vehicle, accounted for nearly half the total with 3,044 sold. The Qin plug-in hybrid saw 2,115 sold in September. Generous government subsidies and a popular new model (Tang) helped sales increase.

DuPont cellulosic ethanol plant shows California’s low carbon fuel standard is driving more innovation and production capacity in renewable fuels

DuPont cellulosic ethanol plantThe DuPont cellulosic ethanol plant that opened in Nevada, Iowa, on October 30, will be the largest cellulosic ethanol plant in the world. The facility is expected to produce about 30 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year from corncobs, husks and stalks that are harvested within a 30-mile radius of the site. Most of this fuel will be shipped to California.

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad; Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office Director Jonathan Male, senior government officials, DuPont leaders and staff, and local farmers, attended the event. Political leaders paid tribute to DuPont’s efforts to develop the next-generation low-carbon renewable fuel and criticized the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to reduce the amount of ethanol that will be blended in the nation’s transportation fuel supply. (Along with transportation fuel, a partnership between Proctor and Gamble and DuPont will direct some of the cellulosic ethanol from this plant into laundry detergent.)

For the near-term future, DuPont plans to sell most of that fuel in California to help the state meet its low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS). California’s LCFS, along with its quarterly carbon credit cap-and-trade auctions and the resulting Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, has become a significant source in government funding for advanced biofuels, renewable natural gas, and renewable diesel. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in its May ruling changed course on blended biofuels, which adds ethanol to gasoline and biodiesel into diesel, showing less support for E10 or higher. The EPA is still supporting growth in advanced biofuels, but acknowledged that the volumes are lower than what was originally set by Congress. The proposed rules are set to become final by late November. (And a Moore Information survey conducted on behalf of the National Biodiesel Board found 80% of U.S. registered voters support a national renewable fuel standard to increase biodiesel use in the U.S.) For now, California’s LCFS and available funding is providing more potential for gaining investment and support in clean fuel projects.

If you view the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund that’s administered by the California Air Resources Board, you’ll notice that public transit, with rail and bus systems, has been getting most of the funding so far. The Low Carbon Transportation Fund shows much potential for fleets, transportation companies, and infrastructure builders. There’s $230 million in available funds for zero and near-zero emission passenger vehicle rebates; heavy duty hybrid/ZEV trucks and buses; freight demonstration projects; and pilot programs (car sharing, financing, etc.) in disadvantaged communities. Much of California’s recent funding programs are influenced by Senate Bill 535, passed in 2012, directing that a quarter of the proceeds from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund must also go to projects that provide a benefit to disadvantaged communities.

Clean Energy Renewable Fuels, a division of Clean Energy Fuels Corp., has been gaining interest among fleets for its Redeem brand renewable natural gas. Last year, Harrison Clay, president of Clean Energy Renewable Fuels, said that there had been about $10 million in LCFS credits sold for biomethane on the state’s cap-and-trade market.

The City of Oakland, Calif., has taken a similar strategy as DuPont supporting LCFS with its decision to utilize renewable diesel in its fleet. Last month, the first of its fleet vehicles filled up with NEXDIESEL renewable diesel during a gathering of the Public Works Department, its supplier Golden Gate Petroleum, and fuel manufacturer Neste. Oakland will be running about 250 on-road diesel vehicles and 100 off-road vehicles on renewable diesel, according to Richard Battersby, Equipment Services Manager for the City of Oakland. Battersby said that subsidies and support related to California’s low carbon fuel standard offset the higher cost of producing the renewable fuel.

Iowa has been gradually moving away from corn ethanol. It’s the nation’s largest producer of ethanol, and it has become a hotbed for cellulosic ethanol development. In September 2014, POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels, LLC, a joint venture between Royal DSM and POET, LLC, hosted the grand opening of “Project LIBERTY.” The plant converts baled corn cobs, leaves, husk, and stalk into renewable fuel at the cellulosic ethanol facility in Emmetsburg, Iowa. Another company, Quad County Corn Processors, began using a different technology that takes out the corn fiber from corn-ethanol production to make cellulosic ethanol.

Preparation for the building of this advanced biorefinery started in the early 2000s when it began working with DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory on biofuels technology. According to DuPont, the biorefinery has provided many job and financial opportunities for this rural area of the United States. DOE has supported DuPont by funding key bioenergy conversion technologies and collaborating on research and development projects. In total, DOE has contributed more than $51 million dollars to advance various technologies that helped bring DuPont’s new biorefinery to market.