Looking beyond the White House for strategic planning in clean transportation

The Trump administration is keeping the president’s campaign promises supporting fossil fuels and pushing back on clean energy and efficient, clean transport. The State Department’s approval of the Keystone XL pipeline last week raised hackles further for many. Low-to-moderate gasoline and diesel prices aren’t helping make the business case for clean fuel and technologies, either.

Breakthroughs in vehicle fuel efficiency and emissions reductions, clean fuel infrastructure, battery range, renewables, and electrified vehicles sales, are helping solidify the business case for policy and funding support; but, it isn’t the right time to gain broader support.

Fleet operators and suppliers attending the Work Truck Show and Green Truck Summit recently in Indianapolis reported on mixed results for sales. Interest in alternative fuel trucks rose from 2011 through 2013, when fuel prices approached $4 a gallon nationally, but has stayed down since then. Customers are harder to see with payback on the investment taking longer. Perception of things changing in Washington also played into the mood.

Some companies and fleets had good news to report. California-based Motiv Power Systems has been seeing an uptick for electric delivery trucks and school buses built on a Ford truck chassis. State-based incentive programs are taking the pressure off likely cuts in federal subsidies, the company said. California continues to be strong, and the New York and Chicago metro areas have paid off with similar purchase incentive programs in place. AmeriPride Services, a linen and uniform supply company, will bring 30 Motiv trucks to its fleet.

Daimler AG’s Mitsubishi Fuso division said it will bring a new line of electric work trucks to North America this year. A lease program will be offered for its eCanter medium-duty electric truck. The company said it will also rollout a second generation model within two years. Fuso forecasts growing market demand for urban electric trucks as cities in Europe consider banning fossil-fuel trucks by 2030 through climate change policies; and pressure by cities to reduce congestion, pollution, and noise is helping grow demand.

UPS, known for having the largest and most diverse alternative fuel fleet, announced it will spend $90 million to add six more CNG fueling stations and to purchase 390 CNG and 50 LNG trucks.

Ohio-based Workhorse Group showed its all-electric pickup truck that will come to market next year. Recently, the company announced it has received Letters of Intent from fleets totaling 2,150 of the Workhorse W-15 electric pickups. Deals are being made with Duke Energy, Portland General Electric, the city of Orlando, Southern California Public Power Authority, Clean Fuels Ohio, and one other utility.

Soon after the Work Truck Show, a port trucking company announced it will bring in low carbon natural gas engine trucks using Cummins Westport’s new ISX12 G natural gas engines. Total Transportation Services Inc., a large drayage trucking company serving the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, has started using one of the trucks to move cargo containers around the port complex.

An 8.9-liter version of the Cummins Westport engine has been certified by the California Air Resources Board to produce 90 percent less NOx than permitted in diesel engines under the current guideline of 0.2 grams per horsepower-hour; a 12-liter variation is also expected to gain CARB approval. If run on renewable natural gas, heavy-duty trucks can reduce greenhouse gas methane emissions by 70%, the company said.

On the passenger vehicle side, several auto analysts see Trump rolling back fuel economy mandates as having limited effect – with other market forces leading the way. Aggressive targets Europe and China will have more impact on the globalized auto industry than it would have had years ago. Strong and growing consumer expectations for increasing fuel efficient vehicles is another market dynamic that can’t be ignored, they say.

California, Oregon, and eight states in the northeast, are following California’s zero emission vehicle mandates. Collectively, these states make up 30 percent of U.S. auto sales. Automakers have faced many years of resenting California’s rules going back to catalytic converters and the first gas stations with E-10 gasoline. Now they’re concerned over high targets being far ahead of consumer demand for all-electric, plug-in hybrid, and fuel cell vehicles.

Tangible growth in clean transportation and energy appear to need a combination of long-term strategic planning more common in Asia, and with technology innovations usually seen first in the U.S. and Europe. Automakers like Toyota and Honda are leading-edge in engine performance, efficiency, electronics, and alternative powertrains; but they tend to take a more conservative and gradual approach to rolling out zero emission vehicles and automated systems. That said, Toyota’s kaizen philosophy of “change for better” has influenced other global automakers and suppliers and brought improvements in quality, safety, and integrating its technologies with partners such as dashboard infotainment features.

Luxury automakers are committing to roll out futuristic and electrified vehicles in large volumes much sooner, but they’ll need to gain sustained support from board members, shareholders, and customers. There is a great deal of concern about making electric vehicles more profitable.

BMW’s “A new era has begun” video released last week says it all. Strategies are described for the company’s Vision Next 100 models from its BMW, Mini, Rolls-Royce, and BMW Motorrad motorcycle brands. The Motorrad Vision looks like it was designed for the next “Batman” movie; the three car models look like they won’t be released for a long time. Everything will be connected and automated, and most of them electrified.

Commercial vehicle makers (heavy trucks, work trucks, vans, and buses) are in a similar spot, complying with stricter emissions standards and convincing buyers to reach a tipping point and make acquisitions taking longer to justify in return on investment.

Europe and China emissions targets don’t appear to be lowering. EU headed there for years with concern over diesel with VW scandal pushing it over the edge. Daimler and BMW have taken on huge goals for sales with these markets being critical and Tesla’s presence and public awareness spreading globally.

China is starting to cut back on manufacturer and car buyer subsidies, but the government stays committed to reducing emissions in the country. It’s plug-in vehicle sales boom is a sign of that, and China may take on a regulatory structure similar to California’s. While down at the beginning of the year with softening incentives, they seem to be going back up.

Most of the experts speaking on industry panels, and writing white papers and policy on the issues, do see transformational technologies and mobility models moving along much faster than expected.

The Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California-Davis just released survey results tied into the ITS-Davis’ new policy initiative, “Three Revolutions: Sharing, Electrification and Automation.” That report features a set of policy briefs written by transportation policy experts; and in-depth survey interviews with 40 experts on the subject from government and nonprofit organizations, and representatives from automakers and technology companies. About 70% think that by 2040, fully autonomous vehicles will make up more than 20% of vehicles sold in the U.S. Shared rides will go from 5% of all passenger miles by 2030 to more than 20% of miles driven by 2040, according to about 80% of the respondents.

Most vehicles used by ridesharing and carsharing firms till be zero emission vehicles by 2050, about 70 of survey respondents said. That includes battery electric, plug-in hybrid, and fuel-cell vehicles.

“This survey shows us that without thoughtful collaboration and community-facing policies, these changes would lead to increased inequities, vehicle travel and greenhouse gas emissions. We need to be creative to steer these innovations to the public interest,” said ITS-Davis Director Dan Sperling.

BMW outlined its experience in carsharing services in its new corporate sustainability report. The German automaker reported that more than 853,000 customers worldwide used the BMW Group’s carsharing services in 2016 – an increase of 45% compared with the year before. In Europe, BMW’s DriveNow fleet has more than 5,400 vehicles with all-electric i3s making up about 15% of the fleet. Around 190,000 customers have already driven approximately 6.5 million emission-free kilometers with the fleet’s electric BMW i3

The European DriveNow fleet currently comprises more than 5,400 vehicles, of which 15.4% are pure electric BMW i3s. As of 31 Dec. 2016, DriveNow served around 607,000 customers in Germany and roughly 815,000 Europe-wide (2015: over 580,000 Europe-wide). DriveNow is one of the main driving forces for electro-mobility in Germany. Around 190,000 customers have already driven approximately 6.5 million emission-free kilometers (about 4.04 million miles) with the fleet’s electric BMW i3.

Green Truck Summit and ACT Expo exploring regulatory climate and technology and fuel innovations

For those interested in staying current on phase two of federal fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards for trucks, and the latest in government incentive programs for clean vehicles and fueling infrastructures, two conferences are coming up that will address these and other significant issues. Green Truck Summit, coming up next month in Indianapolis, and ACT Expo, taking place in early May in Long Beach, Calif., provide great opportunities to stay informed and learn more about the latest in advanced clean technologies and fuels best suited to fleet operators and suppliers.

Fleets and transport companies operating medium-duty trucks, delivery trucks and vans, work trucks, heavy-duty trucks, and buses, should consider attending both annual conferences – and should take a look at the latest in alternative fuel vehicle offerings in these vehicle classes. It’s an excellent time to see the latest offerings in vehicles and fueling infrastructure in natural gas, renewable natural gas, propane autogas, renewable diesel, hybrid and electric vehicles, and biofuels.

Stakeholders active in Clean Cities coalitions will be attending in large numbers and can tap into discount offers from both event organizers. For Green Truck Summit, free admission is being offered to NTEA’s Work Truck Show and advance member rates for its Green Truck Summit to Clean Cities coalitions and stakeholders. Here’s the registration form, with a promo code presented by Greater New Haven Clean Cities Coalition. For ACT Expo 2017, Clean Cities coordinators and stakeholders are eligible to receive discounted registration to attend. Coordinators don’t need a discount code to register, and can access this registration portal to select their Clean Cities option and register.

A panel discussion on the new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provision, “Delegated Assembly Provisions in GHG Phase Two – A Potential Game-Changer for Multi-Stage Commercial Vehicles,” will take place at Green Truck Summit 2017 on Tuesday, March 14. Matt Spears, center director, heavy-duty diesel standards, EPA; Rob Stevens, VP strategy and engineering, Roush CleanTech; and Ken McAlinden, manager for on-board diagnostics and regulatory compliance, Ford Motor Co., will speak to the issues.

The Work Truck Show is produced by NTEA – The Association for the Work Truck Industry. It runs March 14–17 at the Indiana Convention Center. Educational sessions begin March 14, and the exhibit hall is open March 15–17. Green Truck Summit general sessions are held March 14, and concurrent educational sessions run March 15–16. In addition to attending March 14 general sessions, Green Truck Summit registrants have the opportunity to choose from Green Truck Summit and NTEA Work Truck Show concurrent sessions on March 15–16.

Dr. Wilfried Achenbach, senior vice president of engineering and technology, Daimler Trucks North America, will give the 2017 Green Truck Summit keynote address. Other topics to be explored include: creating an efficient path to zero-emission commercial vehicles; renewable fuels analysis and vehicle life cycle impacts; government insights and outlook on future policies; and new products and technology applications for fuel use and emissions reduction. Attendees can also participate in the Work Truck Show’s ride and drive event.

Attendees at the year’s ACT Expo look forward to seeing the comprehensive vehicle, fueling, and technology exhibit displays and hearing speakers on a wide range of topics. One of the workshops will provide a forum to explore the North American Council on Freight Efficiency’s (NACFE) work encouraging the use of advanced technologies to improve fuel economy for Class-8 tractor trailers. Small group discussions will uncover the benefits and challenges of adopting various technologies, including 6×2 axles, idle reduction devices, electronic engine settings, and automated transmissions.

For those attending ACT Expo 2017, taking place May 1-4 in Long Beach, register by March 31 for the value registration. You can view the agenda here.

Here’s a look at alternative fuel vehicle news and announcements recently made on the eve of these two industry conferences………….

  • Urban eTrucks: Mercedes-Benz Trucks is in talks with 20 potential fleet customers in Europe about bringing its all-electric Urban eTruck to potential customers about participating in a European test project. The 124-mile range Urban eTruck will provide fleets with electric trucks designed for short-range commercial deliveries. The company had earlier committed to bringing about 150 of these trucks, including light-duty Fuso eCanter electric trucks, to customers in Europe, Japan, and the U.S. “Following the world premiere in September 2016 at the International Commercial Vehicle Show the customer reaction was outstanding. We are currently talking to around 20 potential customers from the disposal, foodstuffs and logistics sector. With the small series we are now rapidly taking the next step towards a series product. By 2020 we want to be on the market with the series generation,” said Stefan Buchner, head of Mercedes-Benz Trucks.
  • DME-powered trucks: Mack Trucks has started a field test in partnership with Oberon Fuels and New York City’s sanitation department to bring trucks powered by dimethyl ether (DME) to the fleet. The test will use the clean fuel alternative to diesel in a Class 8 Mack Pinnacle tractor with a 13-liter engine for an evaluation run over several weeks, with results to be published by mid-year. Mack and parent company Volvo Trucks have been very interested in DME in the past few years. This will be first commercial test of a DME-powered Mack truck.
  • Long range electric bus: The Proterra Catalyst E2 vehicle series, named for its efficient energy storage capacity of 440 – 660 kWh, recently logged more than 600 miles on a single charge at the Michelin Laurens Proving Grounds in Mountville, S.C. With a nominal range of 194 – 350 miles, the Catalyst E2 vehicles can now serve challenging transit routes on a single charge. Ryan Popple, CEO of electric bus manufacturer Proterra, thinks that by 2020, one third of new fleet bus purchases will be electric and that number will go up to 100% by 2030.
  • Propane school buses: Roush CleanTech is pleased to see three school bus manufacturers offer propane-powered buses – Blue Bird, IC Bus, and Thomas Built Buses. School districts across the country have purchased the buses. Roush formed a partnership with Ford for a 6.8-liter V10 gasoline engine that it converts into an engine that can run on propane by installing up to 170 of its own components. The company also created a partnership with Blue Bird and ships the engines to the bus manufacturer’s plant in Ft. Valley, Ga. Seeing these major bus makers enter the space “helps to legitimize the technology with the school districts,” said Todd Mouw, vice president of sales and marketing for Roush CleanTech. “Instead of taking a year and a half to make to make a sale, it’s taking months.”
  • BYD in the U.S.: Along with building electric buses at its Lancaster, Calif., assembly plant, BYD has been adding several electric commercial trucks to its product offerings. The company’s workforce of 530 people is expected to triple by 2020. Vehicle offerings now include medium-duty step vans; stake-bed, box and refrigerated trucks using BYD’s trucks in the Class 5 through 7 weight segments; Class 6 and Class 8 trash trucks; and Class 8 tractors designed for the short-haul goods movement industry. Class 1 to 4 trucks are in the development phase.
  • Fuel cell buses: The Orange County Transportation Authority in California will gain more than $13 million to add 10 zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell buses to its fleet, OCTA, in partnership with the Center for Transportation and the Environment, will receive most of the grant funds from the California Air Resources Board for the purchase of the buses, a fueling station, and maintenance facility modifications.
  • Toyota’s fuel cell buses: Toyota has delivered the first of its hydrogen fuel cell buses to the Bureau of Transportation of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government that will run on a regular route starting in March, with a second bus delivery that month. The 76-passenger green bus is the first of an anticipated fleet of 100 fuel cell vehicles being deployed prior to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
  • Tesla heavy-duty truck: A Daimler executive is working on Tesla’s heavy-duty semi electric truck, but it’s on the backburner behind the Model 3 sedan, according to tweets from CEO Elon Musk. Jerome Guillen was hired by Tesla in 2012 after working for Daimler while playing a leading role in its venture with Freightliner through the U.S. Department of Energy’s SuperTruck initiative. In September, Tesla hired several key Daimler engineers who also worked on the same program, including Evan Chenoweth, who had lead designer of Freightliner’s SuperTruck hybrid engine.
  • Nikola semis: Nikola Motors recently unveiled its prototype Nikola One hydrogen-powered electric semi-truck at its headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah. By that time, the startup company reported having taken 7,300 pre-orders before the prototype was shown. The company said that the heavy duty Class 8 truck would travel 800 to 1,200 miles while carrying a full load of 65,000 pounds before having to stop at a hydrogen fueling station; and once that happened, refilling time would take just 15 minutes.
  • Self-driving truck: Another startup company is coming into the autonomous trucking space. San Mateo, Calif.-based Embark publicly revealed its prototype self-driving truck on February 24. The company, which gained approval from the State of Nevada earlier this year to begin testing its truck on public roads, said its tractor-trailer setup uses a combination of radars, cameras and Lidar (sensors “to perceive the world around it.”

This Week’s Top 10: Keynote speakers announced for ACT Expo, Nissan Leaf takes narrow lead on Tesla Model S in February sales

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. ACT Expo 2015Keynote speakers announced for ACT Expo: Gladstein, Neadross and Associates, organizers of the Alternative Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo, announced the speaker lineup for the 2015 conference to be held May 4-7 in Dallas. Keynote presentations will be made by Gregg Rogen, SVP, productivity and sustainability, Frito-Lay; and David Steiner, president and CEO, Waste Management. Frito-Lay in its fleet has nearly 300 electric trucks, more than 200 CNG-powered trucks, more than 650 hybrids, and a growing number of propane autogas and biodiesel vehicles. Waste Management operates the largest fleet of heavy-duty trucks in North America, and Steiner will talk about the company’s investment in alternative fuels and infrastructure. Other speakers during the conference include Boone Pickens, founder, chairman and CEO, BP Capital; Mike Whitlatch, vice president, global energy and procurement, UPS; Elizabeth Fretheim, director of logistics sustainability, Walmart; and Drew Cullen, senior vice president of fuels and facilities services, Penske Truck Leasing. View the event’s full agenda here.
  2. February plug-in sales. The Nissan Leaf took a narrow lead over the Tesla Model S in February’s US market sales – 1,198 for the Leaf versus 1,150 for Model S. Coming in at third was the BMW i3 with 1,089 units sold. The Chevrolet Volt continues to follow farther behind the Leaf and Model S with 693 units sold. Consumers might be looking forward to the all-new 2016 Volt coming out later this year. Overall US plug-in sales were down 80 units from January and February 2014.
  3. Oregon testing road-usage program. Oregon and several other states are worried about losing tax revenue due to more plug-in electric and fuel-efficient vehicles entering their roads. So, Oregon is starting a test program staring July 1 where 50,000 registered vehicle owners will participate. Participating drivers will still pay the gas tax at the pump, but at the end of each month, mileage and fuel-consumption data from on-board diagnostics will be used to compare gas tax with a 1.5 cent-per-mile tax that would be charged under a road-usage charge. More than 10 states are in the process of drafting legislation for similar programs or test projects.
  4. Volkswagen AG is working hard at becoming the top vehicle seller in the world and the industry’s technology leader, CEO Martin Winkertorn said during a Geneva Motor Show news conference. The automaker is debuting the Sport Coupe Concept GTE at the show as an example of technology innovation. The sports coupe has a plug-in hybrid drive system that pairs a 3.0-liter V-6 with two electric motors. In the European test cycle, the car gets a 118 mpg fuel economy rating.
  5. California approves DME as a vehicle fuel. California’s Division of Measurement Standard’s issued a formal approval to Oberon Fuels for its dimethyl ether (DME) as a vehicle fuel, which will help with the fuel’s commercialization. “The State of California’s approval builds upon the growing body of certifications that demonstrate DME is a low carbon fuel that meets both industry standards for performance and environmental standards for compliance,” Oberon Fuels president Rebecca Boudreaux said.
  6. Kia pleased with Soul EV sales. Stronger-than-expected customer interest has inspired Kia to accelerate its roll-out plan. It’s the first electric car Kia has sold outside of Korea, and wants to make sure its suppliers, distributors, and dealers are ready in the US. The Soul EV first went on sale in October in California, with plans to expand to Oregon and a few East Coast markets later. The company hopes to announce a plan in April that will include wider availability than had been originally planned.
  7. Audi reveals plug-in offerings: Audi, which previously had only offered a plug-in hybrid option for its A3 compact car, now has two more plug-ins coming up. Audi will offer its Q7 sport-utility vehicle with two plug-in hybrid powertrains: a diesel option for Europe and a gasoline version for the U.S. and China. Audi has also announced that it will offer a battery electric version of its newly redesigned sports car, the R8 e-tron. The sports car will be able to travel about 280 miles on a single charge.
  8. More clean fleet vehicles: Four vehicle roll-outs sound good for fleets interested in bringing in more alt-fuel vehicles. Motiv Power Systems is launching a battery electric drive compatible with the Ford F59 chassis and has received an initial order for six vehicles for AmeriPride in Fresno, Calif. BioCNG will be upgrading a landfill gas-based compressed natural gas fueling station for the St. Landry Parish Solid Disposal District in Louisiana; and will be adding a second facility at the District’s recycling center in Opelousas. Coca-Cola has converted 39 GM Express vans to hybrid electrics using XL3 systems from XL Hybrids. It’s tied into an executive order last year by the California Air Resources Board and brings Coke’s total number of XL Hybrid-fitted vans up to 211. Efficient Drivetrains, Inc. (EDI) has announced the availability of a Class 3 utility plug-in hybrid truck. EDI says that it features an extended range of 300 miles and 50-to-120 kW of grid reliable export power.
  9. Two 350Green executives face fraud charges. Mariana Gerzanych and Timothy Mason – the two former top ranking executives of electric vehicle charging station supplier 350Green – have been accused in a federal court of falsely obtaining almost $3 million in grant money for a project, The Chicago Tribune reported. 350Green had been working with the city of Chicago to install its charging network. Gerzanych and Mason have been charged with obtaining funds by falsely claiming they’d paid subcontractors and vendors for work on the charging stations.
  10. Tesla cutting jobs in China. Tesla Motors Inc. may be reducing its staff by 30% in China as it makes structural changes in the market. The Chinese newspaper Economic Observer reported Tesla will eliminate 180 of the 600 positions in China because sales haven’t met expectations.

This Week’s Top 10: Clean Cities announces research resources, Tesla Model S and Toyota Prius take Consumer Reports awards

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. Clean Cities logoThe US Dept. of Energy’s Clean Cities has issued several research resources for stakeholders in the past week. The Clean Cities 2015 Vehicle Buyer’s Guide offers vehicle selection, pricing, infrastructure, and emissions information on a wide selection of alternative fuel vehicles. Categories include propane, compressed natural gas, biodiesel, plug-in electric, plug-in hybrid electric, hybrid electric, and ethanol flex-fuel. Clean Cities also said that it’s moving forward on its request for information (RFI) project announced in November on purchasing and procurement for bulk vehicle orders. The RFI is soliciting feedback from industry, academia, research laboratories, government agencies, and other stakeholders on issues related to purchasing/procurement processes designed to coordinate and consolidate bulk alternative fuel vehicle, advanced vehicle orders, and vehicle subsystems. Responses are due no later than 5:00 pm eastern time on March 13, 2015. This announcement was coordinated with a public meeting for Clean Cities stakeholders to collect input in a new Clean Cities five-year strategic plan. Clean Cities encourages stakeholders to continue to give written comments through its Strategic Planning Meeting website until March 13.
  2. The Tesla Model S and Toyota Prius take best of awards from Consumer Reports. For the second year in a row, the Model S has taken the “best overall” category for its “innovation, magnificence, and sheer technological arrogance.” The testing team likes the fact that Tesla’s over-the-air software updates keep the 2013 model up to date with many of the same features as the new models. The Toyota Prius took the “green car” category again, which has been the case consecutively since 2004. Testers haven’t been that impressed with ride comfort, cornering, and interior, but the affordability, fuel economy, packaging and “blue-chip reliability” make it the “perfect economical transportation solution.” Rating indicators for all Consumer Reports categories are based on overall road-test performance, reliability, and safety.
  3. AltCar has announced dates for its two 2015 events. For the Northern California event, the City of Oakland AltCar Conference & Expo will be held May 28. The 10th anniversary of the City of Santa Monica’s AltCar Expo will take place on Sept. 18-19. For participation, you can contact Platia Productions at (310) 390-2930, ext. 3.
  4. Toyota started production of Mirai fuel cell sedan at its Motomachi Plant in Toyota City, Japan. The fuel cell car can travel 400 miles on a fueling and has been very important in Toyota’s green vehicle strategy; however, the production numbers are limited to 700 units this year, 2,000 in 2016, and 3,000 in 2017.
  5. Daimler joins other automakers selling in the European market by implementing more material cost efficiencies to meet stringent European Union emissions targets. Daimler Chief Financial Officer Bodo Uebber says that in 2014, the automaker offset the burdens from the variable cost for its carbon reducing measures with material cost efficiencies such as sharing more commonality among its different car lines. Uebber expects to do the same this year through at least 2017.
  6. The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) is funding $600,000 to Icom North America to support development of its propane autogas technology in the Ford 3.5L EcoBoost engine. That should assist Icom receiving both US Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board certifications for the 3.5L EcoBoost platform. Icom’s JTGhp direct-injection system can be applied to the Ford F-150, Explorer, and Taurus vehicle platforms. PERC also announced last week that it will be displaying at the NTEA Work Truck Show in Indianapolis. Fleet managers are invited to interact with PERC’s dimensional displays for calculating lifetime operating costs, and seeing cost savings that comes from using propane autogas.
  7. Volvo Cars is joining the autonomous vehicle test driving movement by placing 100 self-driving cars on Gothenburg, Sweden streets by 2017. Local residents will be using these autonomous Volvo XC90 crossover test vehicles commuting to work on a controlled 31-mile route. That test is expected to run through the spring of 2019 and will use sensors, cloud-based positioning systems, intelligent braking, and steering technologies through a new Volvo autopilot system.
  8. Texas state grants had pretty good return on investment with grants issued to natural gas vehicles (NGVs), according to a study by the University of Texas San Antonio’s Institute for Economic Development. Three state grants, totaling $52.9 million, supported construction of new natural gas fueling stations and the adoption of NGVs. That generated $128 million in economic impact, $52.9 million in gross state product, and supported 927 full-time jobs in 2014. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality administered the three grants that went out to the Clean Transportation Triangle, the Alternative Fueling Facilities Program, and the Texas Natural Gas Vehicle Program.
  9. As biofuel supporters wait for the US Environmental Protection Agency to get around to announcing its 2014 volume standards, another action was taken in Washington. A bill introduced last week by Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) would repeal the corn ethanol mandate in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Feinstein is especially concerned about corn prices increasing if that mandate continues. They’re misunderstanding the facts, according to Bob Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association. “Corn is less expensive today than when the RFS was passed,” Dinneen said.
  10. Solar power will see substantial growth in 2015, according to a new study by GTM Research. Solar installations will grow in 75% of US states, with incremental growth in Arizona and Massachusetts but significant growth in Georgia and Utah.

What fleets want to see in clean transportation

Clean fleetSo why would a company like Elio Motors with its three-wheel electric car choose fleets as its primary market instead of consumers? The company is moving through red tape for its $185 million loan through the US Dept. of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program. While it may sound strange that a specialty electric vehicle maker would choose the fleet market, there are reasons for it. According to a post on the Elio Motors Blog: “We have talked about ‘why Elio’ quite a bit, but to the fleet customer the economics are many times larger than for an individual. Think about it, you can save $1,500 a year on fuel which is enough to make a LOT of payments.  Now multiply that times 100, or 200 or as much as 1000!  That is real (huge) savings for companies.  Each gallon of fuel saved is money in their pocket and helps save our environment.”

That sounds very familiar to conversations I’ve had in the past couple of years with fleet managers. There sometimes are concerns and mandates to reduce emissions and fuel consumption, but in the end, containing costs is the top priority given to fleets in corporate, government, and other sectors. For the clean transportation industry, fleets are the focal point of direct marketing. Tesla Motors is benefiting from upper income, educated individuals signing on for lease payments on the Model S, but as for the rest of the green vehicles and infrastructure, fleets make up most of the marketplace. Besides buying in volume, they bring institutional credibility to the new technology. If a municipal fleet brings in 150 compressed natural gas trash trucks; or a delivery fleet reduces its fuel consumption and emissions 20% in one year by switching over to hybrids, that truly stands out with media, stakeholders, and the general public.

Here are a few newsworthy items on what fleet managers are thinking about clean transportation……

  • Debunking myths emanating from common alternative fuel vehicle misconceptions was the focus of a speaker panel at Green Fleet Conference in Schaumburg, Ill., last week. Richard Battersby, manager of Equipment Services for the City of Oakland, Calif., and coordinator of the East Bay Clean Cities Coalition, chaired the panel. Battersby thinks there is a “dizzying choice” available today in fuels: CNG, LNG, renewable natural gas, dimethyl ether (DME), E85, hydrogen, battery electric, plug-in electric, biodiesel, renewable diesel, algae diesel, clean diesel; and there will be more. Read on for interesting quotes on electrified transportation, diesel, biodiesel, propane, and natural gas.
  • The city of Indianapolis signed up for Vision Fleet’s Clean Miles Solution, a total-cost-of-ownership plan for bringing electric vehicles (EVs) into its fleet. It bundles the process together and guarantees all the expenses of purchasing, operating, and fueling an EV. Indianapolis will utilize Clean Miles Solution to deploy 425 EVs in its non-police fleet by early 2016. That will be the largest ever EV deployment by a public fleet in the US. It comes out of an executive order made by Mayor Gregory Ballard in 2012 that pledges the city’s fleet will reach post-oil technology by 2025.
  • PepsiCo has removed 55,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through reducing fuel consumption in its fleet by 24% since 2010. That will continue further for its trucks and passenger vehicles, according to Green Century Capital Management, which is working with Pepsi on its climate change efforts. Pepsi’s plan includes implementing a formal request for proposal process seeking low carbon fuel alternatives from its suppliers.
  • Downsizing the fleet and looking for transportation alternatives has become a viable option for a few municipal fleets in large US cities. Their goals can be met several ways to reduce carbon emissions and fuel consumption. Reducing the number of vehicles in their fleet, based on their utilization rates, has been at the heart of it. Bringing in outside vendors such as Zipcar for its carsharing services is also taking care of short-term transportation needs. Fleet managers will see several of the vehicles in the fleet idling in parking lots for the majority of time. Downsizing the fleet and accessing alternative transportation is reducing costs and bringing accolades to fleet staff.

NAFA and CALSTART launch Sustainable Fleet Standard Program

NAFA Sustainable Fleet StandardDuring its annual conference last week, the NAFA fleet management association launched the Sustainable Fleet Standard Program in collaboration with CALSTART. It a first-of-its-kind “best practices” program supporting fleets in increasing efficiency and reducing emissions and fuel consumption for their vehicles.  “The importance of sustainable practices becomes more evident each day,” said NAFA President Claude Masters. “By becoming more energy independent and efficient, our members will extend benefits to their bottom line and their customer base.”

The Sustainable Fleet Standard Program will be complimentary to existing federal programs, but also sets a standard by which fleets can assess their progress. The program has two purposes – to encourage and make it easy for fleets to take first steps toward clean transportation; while also setting a strong framework to reward those fleets already taking real action. Member organizations will be assisted in assessing their practices to decrease fuel dependence and emissions; and to increase vehicle efficiency, improve performance, and reduce harmful pollutants. In recent years, many fleets have been learning the win-win scenario clean transportation brings in reducing emissions and operating costs.

CALSTART has been working with NAFA for several years on providing educational resources to fleets on advanced and clean vehicle technologies.  The non-profit organization has more than 150 member companies and works with industry and government partners to support growth in the industry. “NAFA’s central role in the fleet industry will help this program create a tipping point for sustainable transportation,” said John Boesel, president and CEO of CALSTART. “We’re working with NAFA to make sure the standard is strong, but easy to use by any fleet, whether just starting out or far down the road on sustainable operations.”

The timing of this launch has been quite relevant. NAFA says that developing and launching this new program coincided with a speech given by President Barack Obama in February 2014 supporting a national vehicle sustainability initiative. “By applying this standard to fleets and vehicles of all sizes, NAFA is engineering a program that has the power to shift vehicle sustainability standards on a universal level,” NAFA’s press release says. You can also learn more and stay informed on the program as it approaches implementation, at NAFASustainable.org.

Big Picture: Northern California AltCar Expo starts up, Intertek working with DOE on AFV data collection for petroleum use reduction

AltCar Expo logoAltCar Expo is continuing to expand beyond Santa Monica, Calif., with the first Northern California AltCar Expo held at Richmond’s Craneway Pavilion on Friday and Saturday. Plug-in vehicle readiness and deployment of alternative fuel infrastructure tools for local government agencies were explored in speaker panels, and electric vehicles, hybrids, and vehicles powered by hydrogen, natural gas, and propane were available for test drives. AltCar Expo Texas will host its fifth annual meeting March 28-29 at the Irving Convention Center; it’s taking place in coordination with the Propane Engine Fuel Summit on March 27.

The free two-day event in Richmond, Calif., kicked off Friday morning with remarks from Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia, and Randall Winston, special assistant to the executive secretary office of Gov. Jerry Brown. Scheduled speakers on Friday included Jon Coleman of Ford, Steve Ellis of Honda, Jeannie Lam of Nissan, and Christine Kehoe of the California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative. “Plug-In Electric Vehicle Readiness Plan for Local Governments & Industry,” was hosted by the Association of Bay Area Governments, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. The session focused on suggested actions elected officials can take in their communities to support electric vehicle deployment. “Best Practices for Deployment of Alternative Fuels Infrastructure-Tools for Local Government Agencies” was hosted by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and the San Francisco, East Bay, and Silicon Valley Clean Cities Coalitions. It focused on best practices for the sighting and permitting of natural gas and hydrogen infrastructure.

The daylong Propane Engine Fuel Summit in Texas will feature Texas schools and businesses using propane autogas. Presentations from the City of Fort Worth, CleanFUEL USA, Dallas County Schools, Dallas-Fort Worth Clean Cities, and Northwest Propane Gas Co., will cover topics such as refueling infrastructure, economic and environmental factors, and propane industry equipment. Santa Monica’s flagship AltCar Expo, the ninth annual, will be held September 19-20 at the Santa Monica Civic Center in Santa Monica, Calif.

And in other clean transportation news……..

Intertek is working with US Department of Energy (DOE) and several national laboratories to collect data on alternative fuel vehicle street performance and reduction of petroleum consumption. Testing includes vehicle performance, durability, and operational costs. Intertek has a lot of experience in this space, being a leading provider of global testing, quality, and safety solutions. Most battery electric and plug-in hybrid models have been included in the study, along with hybrids, the Honda Civic Natural Gas, and the Volkswagen Jetta TDI. Vehicle performance data is being collected through Intertek’s data logging systems at a closed course test track. Fleets are also involved in the data collection – as the test models are driven daily for nearly 200,000 miles over three years. Each car is equipped with Intertek’s data loggers, which use Wi-Fi to automatically upload the operational data.

Coda Automotive has gone away, but its new identityCoda Energy – is up and running. Coda Energy has installed about 20 of its “CODA Core” Tower systems at commercial and industrial sites across California. Fortress Investment Group, which picked up Coda’s assets last year in June for $25 million during Coda Automotive’s bankruptcy, will be providing financial backing for a total of 100 systems over the next few months. Fortress is investing about $64,000 for each 30-kilowatt, 40-kilowatt hour lithium-ion battery based unit. Coda’s new combined system received Underwriters Laboratories (UL) 1973 safety standard certification last month. Coda’s customers for this grid battery system will pay only 50% of whatever savings the systems provide to annual utility bills. Reducing demand charges is the primary economic driver for these battery systems – and these types of battery storage systems are expected to become more important going forward as a way to retain renewable energy for electricity.

Hyundai Motor Co. is entering the battery-powered vehicle market in 2016 through its Kia Motors subsidiary. An electric version of the Soul compact will start being built in Korea next month, eventually ending up at destinations in the US and Europe. The battery electric Soul is expected to run 92 miles per charge; the global sales target for this year is 5,000 Soul EVs. In other news, Hyundai has another MPG problem – the automaker is restating the mileage rating on another one of its vehicles – the 2014 Sonata sees its rating drop from 29.6 mpg to 28.4 mpg. In 2012, Hyundai and Kia had an investigation by the US Environmental Protection Agency and acknowledged that its original stated mileage on cars like the Hyundai Elantra and Kia Soul had been inflated somewhere between one and six miles per gallon.

Biofuels will continue to see growth, but at a much slower pace than originally expected, according to a Lux Research study. The industry is expected to grow to 60.4 billion gallons a year between 2013 and 2017, a 3.2% annual growth rate – but far less than the 19.6% annual growth rate experienced between 2005 and 2013. The “food vs. fuel” debate and imminent blend limits for biodiesel and ethanol by the US Environmental Protection Agency have created impediments. Next-generation feedstocks like waste oils and cellulosic biomass are not tied up in the food supply and could unlock significant economic advantages; and next-gen biofuels – such as renewable diesel and butanol – can offer higher blends, but are not quite mature, according to the report.

Volkswagen is testing out lithium-air battery technology that could triple storage capacity. The new battery could hold much more power than its size would indicate – a 24.2 kWh battery perhaps holding 80 kWh of energy; its range could skyrocket up to 300 miles per charge. VW is keeping it under wraps for now – including when it might be installed in one of its cars.

Walmart is testing out a “WAVE” vehicle in its fleet – Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience – which will be 20% more aerodynamic than counterparts because it’s being made out of carbon fiber; its micro-turbine hybrid powertrain can run on a variety of fuels. There’s also an electric motor and battery storage system being tested out. The carbon fiber body would cut out 4,000 pounds from the truck; it’s 53 feet long – the first time sheets that large have been manufactured. The goal here for Walmart is to double its fleet fuel efficiency by 2015, which the company says it’s 80% on the way to meeting.

Big Picture: Gobble, gobble….. A few clean transportation items before you leave for the holidays

turkeys driving a carAs you break for a long holiday weekend, here are a few happenings to read about…..

Things seem to be wrapping up for Fisker Automotive. Hybrid Technology Holdings, a Hong Kong-based investor group led by billionaire Richard Li, is buying the company’s assets for $25 million. That means the US Dept. of Energy will be losing about $139 on Fisker; the DOE will be overall be recovering about $53 million from its original $192 million disbursement.

Tesla Motors has lost it marketing leader – George Blankenship, who played a key role in setting up Apple’s retail stores and brought much of it over to Tesla, left the electric carmaker last month. As everyone knows by now, it’s a sensitive time for Tesla as NHTSA has decided to recall most of the Model S units for investigation and Tesla is working on overdrive to expand stores in North America, Europe, and Asia. Blankenship has been vague on his Linkedin page about why he’s leaving; he’s now 60 and is officially taking on the role of “Director of Smiles for the Blankenship Family.”

But there is some good news for Tesla. The automaker won a near-perfect score for its Model S, as it displaced the Chevy Volt at the top of Consumer Report’s annual vehicle owner satisfaction survey. It’s the best score the magazine has seen in years – 99 out of 100 points.

The Nissan Leaf is paying off for the automaker, according to Jose Munoz, Nissan’s senior VP of sales and marketing for the Americas. The Leaf is not the top reason customers are referred to the Nissan brand, he said, and the vehicle is now profitable.

Green Truck Summit is getting some ink – it will be March 4-5 in conjunction with The Work Truck Show 2014 in Indianapolis. It will offer attendees more than 20 educational sessions and a chassis OEM forum moderated by Indianapolis Mayor Gregory Ballard.

Luxury SUV buyers and non-luxury car shoppers are most likely to consider buying alternative fuel vehicles including EVs, hybrids, hydrogen-power, or CNG-powered vehicles. That comes from a Phoenix Marketing International study. About 50% of the survey respondents were neutral to alternative fuel vehicles, while the two aforementioned categories have the highest percentages of “very” or “extremely” to purchase an alt-fuel vehicle.

UPS was among the award winners at the NGV Achievement Award. United Parcel Service and Mike Scarpino, regional manager for DOE Clean Cities Coalition, were among the recipients of 2013 NGV Achievement Award held Nov. 20 in Atlanta. UPS was recognized for 25 years of exemplary NGV industry leadership. Eleven recipients were recognized during the gala and reception dinner at NGV America’s 2013 North American NGV Conference and Expo. Richard Kolodziej, president of NGVAmerica, was given a lifetime achievement award.

The cap and trade market is getting some play in California. California companies paid about $297 million for carbon allowances on the state’s carbon auction. On Nov. 19, California’s fifth auction took place, where companies such as Exxon Mobil and Dow Chemical paid $11.48 per allowance to release one metric ton of carbon as early as this year. That was a lower price than a previous sale in August, when it sold for $12.22 per metric ton. All together, the five auction events have raised $1.4 billion.

For those interested in real-time traffic data being readily available….. INRIX, Inc. introduced INRIX XD™ Incidents, which correlates real-time traffic flow data with information from nearly 400 public and private sources including media partners, departments of transportation, emergency responders, and community reports via mobile, and in-vehicle applications, as well as social networks like Twitter. The service offer traffic intelligence that reports more accidents, road closures, and other incidents across significantly more roads in more countries and at much greater speed than ever before.

Big Picture: Green car award winners to be named soon, plus a review of five significant award contests and what it all seems to mean

Green car of the year awardGreen cars – fuel efficient, plug-in, hybrid, and alternative fuel vehicles – now have enough sales volume and interest to garner annual awards.  I’ve counted five significant award contests being in place, with winners of two significant awards approaching. Here’s a review of finalists and winners so far for this year, and a few thoughts on what it all means…..

Green Car Reports just released five finalists for its Best Car to Buy award, all of them being 2014 models:

  • BMW i3
  • Chevrolet Cruze Diesel
  • Chevrolet Spark EV
  • Honda Accord Hybrid
  • Mazda 3

There have been other nominees and winners named this year, including the influential Green Car of the Year award that will be given out at the LA Auto Show this month. Here is Green Car Journal’s top five:

  • Audi A6 TDI
  • BMW 328d
  • Honda Accord (in four-cylinder, V-6, hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions)
  • Mazda3
  • Toyota Corolla

In April, Kelley Blue Book named its 10 Best Green Cars of 2013, all of them 2013 models and some coming in various versions including battery electric vehicles, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, diesel, and gasoline:

1. Nissan Leaf
2. Tesla Model S
3. Ford Focus
4. Chevrolet Volt
5. Toyota Prius Plug-in
6. Ford C-Max Energi
7. Volkswagen Jetta
8. Honda Fit
9. Toyota Avalon
10. Lincoln MKZ

As for the 2013 World Green Car finalists named earlier this year, the Tesla Model S, Renault Zoe, and Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid made the list that was announced at the New York International Auto Show; the Model S won the award. This award is presented by Bridgestone Corp. and looks at tailpipe emissions, fuel consumption, and use of major advanced power plant technology aimed at increasing the vehicle’s environmental responsibility.

Classic car buff magazine, Motor Trend, just named its top five hybrid and diesel cars in its analysis of fuel efficient vehicles:

  1. Volkswagen Jetta TDI
  2. Toyota Prius
  3. Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid
  4. Honda Civic Hybrid
  5. Chevrolet Cruze

Here’s what I get from studying the rankings:

  1. There’s still a wide split over the pragmatic present realities versus the long-term goals of clean transportation. Plug-in electric vehicles are embraced by many, but its influence is still quite marginal. The Chevy Volt took the Green Car of the Year award three years ago, but for all of the cars on the ranking this year for the most influential annual award, plug-ins have very little to do with it. Ron Cogan and the Green Car Journal team, along with its panelists, seem more supportive of highly fuel efficient gasoline and diesel internal combustion engine models.
  2. There are surprises, as well – especially Kelley Blue Book naming the plug-in Nissan Leaf as its No. 1 green car of the year. Battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles dominated its list, which is very interesting coming from a company focused on resale values.
  3. Diesel engine passenger cars, especially with turbocharged direct injection engines (TDI), are really taking off in the US. It doesn’t seem to matter that diesel is usually about 50 cents a gallon more expensive than regular gasoline these days. The fuel efficiency is great and driver experience and positive reviews are helping. German automakers have been selling a lot of diesel cars in Europe for many years, and the US market is now starting to open up (which Volkswagen seems to be counting on to earn its No. 1 sales spot in global auto sales). US automakers have started getting into the game, such as General Motors with the Chevrolet Cruze diesel version.
  4. Clean transportation shoppers have a lot of options today – whether you’re talking about fleet managers and purchase agents, government agencies and policy wonks, consumer organizations, environmental groups, or tire-kicking automotive journalists who go to all of the media days at car shows. Every green vehicle category has its hardcore advocates, but once all of the top five widely accepted industry standards are accepted – reduced emissions, fuel efficiency, safety, reliability, and performance – there’s a lot of competition in the market these days.

Aside from the awards, let’s take a look at top stories of the past week….

  • Plug-in vehicle sales were stronger in October than September, but not near the record level seen in August. The Chevy Volt saw 2,022 deliveries, up 14% from September; the Nissan Leaf was right behind it with 2,002 units sold, up 2.5% from September’s 1,953. Ford was thrilled to have its C-Max Energi and Fusion Energi plug-in hybrids collectively beat the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid in sales numbers for the first time.
  • Tesla-Mania!:  The automaker saw its biggest drop in stock value during October – down 17% from its peak of $23.5 billion to $19.4 billion at the end of the month…. Daimler AG would like to do more with Tesla beyond receiving electric motors for is Smart ForTwo EV and the new Mercedes-Benz B-Class EV….. Panasonic Corp. has a contract now with Tesla to supply lithium ion cells for the Model S and Model X battery packs, and that could mean $7 billion in revenue for Panasonic…. Elon Musk’s associates have formed Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, a company seeking investors for the high speed rail network that will get from San Francisco to Los Angeles in just 30 minutes…..  Edmunds.com reported that the Tesla Model S is now the most-registered new car in eight of 25 wealthiest US neighborhoods tracked by zip code.
  • GreenLots is bringing its Sky open access network to the Vancouver area as part of the west coast’s DC fast charger corridor that so far extends through Oregon and Washington and will soon go up into British Columbia and down to California.
  • BYD Co. defended itself in a California court yesterday on charges that it didn’t comply with minimum wage laws for engineers working at its Lancaster, Calif., plant and its Los Angeles office. The Chinese company has a contract to make electric buses for the Los Angeles Country Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
  • Respected junior college training center Rio Honda Community College in California is offering a campus tour on Nov. 14 from 11:00 am until around 1:00 pm PST. Click here to learn more and register for the facility tour at what’s one of the most significant training grounds for future engineers and service technicians in: CNG; LNG; hydrogen fuel systems; hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric technologies; high-voltage storage and generation technology; and solar and wind energy technology.
  • Via Motors’ plug-in hybrid cargo van, built on the Chevrolet Express platform, passed its crash tests needed to be met before it can go on sale, according to the company. The van gets 35 miles on battery only, with a total range of 400 miles.
  • Ford recalled 2,618 Focus Electric cars due to potential loss of power to its wheels while in motion that’s related to software anomalies. Nearly all of these 2012 to 2014 models were sold in the US, and the automaker says there was one crash and no injuries related to the recall question.
  • Biofuel and oil industry lobbyists are quite busy in Washington as the White House and US Environmental Protection Agency prepare to issue a ruling on ethanol blending rules implementing the federal Renewable Fuel Standard.
  • While this TV ad campaign has been around since the summer, you may have noticed General Motors advertising that the GMC Sierra pickup is in league with the Hoover Dam’s smart grid hydropower. Fuel efficiency and performance are promoted as GM competes for truck sales head-to-head with the Ford F-Series pickups and its EcoBoost-powered engines.

How AltCar Expo has become a workable event model

AltCar Expo logoChristine Dzilvelis, one of the partners who organizes AltCar Expo in Santa Monica, Calif., has a different perspective on what constitutes a successful community event than what I wrote about recently. For example, on Friday afternoon, September 20, during AltCar Expo, a speaker panel on electric vehicle charging stations at multi-family housing units led to action being taken by stakeholders. The intensive three hour discussion led to a planned installation in Santa Monica; key players like Schneider Electric began working out the details.

Dzilvelis said the feedback the organizers are getting is appreciation from local residents and from stakeholders such as automakers on hosting a grass roots, hands-on annual event. People are overwhelmed by all of the new technologies, and AltCar Expo makes it easier for fleets, industry, and the public to experience the vehicles and have their questions answered. “AltCar Expo is not a business to make money,” she said.

What seems to be working best is strong local/regional events. Alternative Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo and Electric Vehicle Symposium (EVS) have been receiving kudos, but other national events like Green Fleet Conference & Expo and Plug-in 2013 are only getting small-to-medium attendance that are very supplier-intensive. ACT Expo is getting better feedback, but there’s still a lot of concern that it’s dominated by CNG vehicles. AltCar Expo, now in its eighth year, gets positive feedback for playing a role in pushing alternative fuel vehicles forward by bringing together leaders in government, fleets, automakers, and infrastructure, along with local residents who are very interested and supportive of having this event each year. This year, they especially loved seeing and driving the Chevrolet Spark EV, Dzilvelis said.

Dzilvelis is part of two other events with similar goals for public education and bringing stakeholders together. The first annual Northern California AltCar conference will be taking place March 14-15, 2014 at the Craneway Pavilion (a former Ford plant) in Richmond, Calif.; it’s sponsored by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. On March 28-29, 2014, the fifth annual Texas AltCar conference will be held at the Irving Convention Center in Irving, Texas, and is being sponsored by Dallas Fort Worth Clean Cities. (Next year’s AltCar Expo will be taking place Sept. 19-20, 2014.) AltCar Expo organizers are being contacted regularly by stakeholders in cities across the country that want to get their own AltCar conference going. It does seem to be the most realistic event model for bringing the technology and experience to a lot more people.