This Week’s Top 10: Conflict and confusion over biofuel blends, Green car sales beat overall sales in February

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. Battle over biofuels: Conflict and confusion over biofuel blends in gasoline – and who will do the blending – continue to shake up Washington. Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dineen told Reuters last week that Carl Icahn, an oil industry billionaire and advisor to the Trump administration, had told Dineen that the administration would be taking a favorable position for refiners such as corn ethanol producers. The fuel blending of about 10% ethanol to gasoline would be sent down the supply chain to gasoline marketers through an executive order by the president, Dineen said. Icahn and the White House later denied this was said to Dineen. Biofuel groups and producers have been upset that Icahn has been playing this role for the White House. The oil executive demanded during the election campaign that the obligation and costs should go to fuel blenders and not to oil companies and their supply chain partners. Several biofuel companies have also been upset with RFA for taking what had appeared to be a position opposing their stance on the matter. As of Monday, oil refiners including Valero Energy Corp. and CVR Energy Inc. (in which Icahn owns a majority stake) currently have to show environmental regulators they are meeting annual mandates; they’ve urged the federal government to push this compliance further downstream to fuel blenders and integrated oil companies. The White House says it’s taking this request under review. In other related news, U.S. ethanol production set a new record of 15.33 billion gallons in 2016, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The EIA data showed that the average gallon of gasoline likely contained slightly more than 10.0% ethanol in 2016. The American Petroleum Institute (API) estimates that Environmental Protection Agency rules on 2017 biofuel volumes will put the ethanol-to-gasoline ratio at 10.4%, higher than the 9.7% ration recommended by the oil industry association.
  2. Green car sales in February: Sales of hybrid and plug-in vehicles were up sizably from January in the usual seasonal sales pattern, and both categories beat the overall market according to HybridCar’s Dashboard. Total light-duty vehicles sales were down 1.1% from February 2016, but hybrids saw an increase of 16.3% and plug-ins saw a leap of 45.12% over the previous year. The Chevy Bolt continued to do well, finishing fifth for all plug-in electrified vehicles sold in the U.S. during February. The Chevy Volt had another leading month, finishing in first place with 1,820 units sold; that compares with the No. 2 Tesla Model S, finishing at about 1,700 units sold. For hybrid vehicles, the Toyota Prius Liftback took its first position back from the Ford Fusion Hybrid but both vehicles have sold at nearly the same totals so far in 2017.
  3. EPA likely to issue revised fuel economy: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to reverse course this week on the 2022-25 phase of the fuel economy and emissions standards. The unexpected decision made by the agency at the very end of the Obama administration to approve the proposal and cut short the public comment period has been a source of tension with automaker executives and Washington officials. Last week, auto trade groups representing Ford, General Motors, Honda, Toyota, Volkswagen, and others asked recently approved EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to withdraw the Obama administration’s decision to finalize the rule in January. That had cut short the timing for giving public comments, which was originally supposed to go until April 2018. They would also like to see the rule become more favorable to automakers than what was finalized under the Obama administration. The EPA notice coming out soon is expected to state that the agency will work in tandem with the U.S. Transportation Department to set consistent standards in the ruling, a source said.
  4. Trouble keeping Tesla’s talent: Pressure to get the Tesla Model 3 out on time has led to tough working conditions at the company – and exodus of management. CFO Jason Wheeler’s  departure, just 15 months after he joined Tesla from Google, will be the latest in a round of executives leaving the company. Former execs speaking confidentially said it has to do with long work hours prepping for high-volume production and a tense working environment that reflects the persona of CEO Elon Musk. Of course, setting up shop in Silicon Valley is known to run the risk of high-churnover rate. A Tesla spokesman said the company’s attrition rate was below average among technology companies.
  5. Uber facing heavy criticism: Uber is feeling a “blowback” over the aggressive fighter approach taken by CEO Travis Kalanick and its corporate culture, with the latest being an apology sent to staff by Kalanick over a conflict he’d engaged in with an Uber driver captured on video. Kalanick and others at the ride-hailing giant are known for plunging into new markets around the world, price-war fighting Lyft and overseas competitors, and taking on lofty goals like deploying self-driving and flying cars. The company had been hit hard by news coverage and social media posts leading to Kalanick quitting President Donald Trump’s economic advisory panel over the immigration ban; having a female engineer protest over alleged sexual harassment; being sued by Alphabet’s Waymo over claims its self-driving car’s intellectual property had been stolen; and using a tool called “Greyball” used to fool regulators into thinking the company is not providing ride services in markets where it’s not supposed to be operating. Lyft, its toughest U.S. competitor, is quietly looking to raise $500 million in funding to expand; smaller ridesharing companies such as Juno are able to take advantage of frustration over pay to poach Uber drivers. “I must fundamentally change as a leader and grow up,” Kalanick, wrote in a note to Uber employees last week. “This is the first time I’ve been willing to admit that I need leadership help and I intend to get it.”
  6. What will happen to Ampera-e?: The future of the Opel Amera-e, built on the Chevrolet Bolt platform, is up in the air now that General Motors has sold its stake in the Opel/Vauxhall subsidiary to French automaker PSA Group. The $2.3 billion dollar sale will make PSA the second-largest automaker in Europe. PSA will gain intellectual property licenses from GM as vehicles transition over to PSA platforms. It may be that the originally planned launch of the Bolt as the Ampera-e in Europe will stick to that plan and roll out later this year. Green Car Congress reports that GM and PSA expect they will collaborate on further deployment of electrification technologies. PSA may also source long-term supply of fuel cell systems from the GM/Honda joint venture.
  7. Maven lengthens sharing time: General Motors’ Maven carsharing division has launched a four-week rental plan through a program its calling Maven Reserve; that adds to its previous longest rentals by 24 days. Carsharing members in Los Angeles and San Francisco can now schedule rental of a Chevrolet Volt or a Chevrolet Tahoe for an hourly, daily, or monthly fee, the company said on Friday. Markets being aimed at include entertainment industry people in L.A. and entrepreneurs in San Francisco. It’s expected to expand later to other markets.
  8. Workplace charging in NYC: Calstart yesterday launched “Charge to Work,” a first-of-its-kind electric vehicle workplace charging initiative to increase the adoption of EVs in the New York City area. It’s a three-year marketing and outreach campaign seeking to bring support from over 100 businesses that will encourage their employees to replace their conventional gasoline-engine vehicles with clean and efficient EVs. Announced by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Charge to Work supports the governor’s Charge NY program, which is accelerating the growth of the electric vehicle market in New York State through education, research, consumer outreach and financial support for the installation of charging stations across New York. The goal is to spur 450 electric vehicles (EVs) and the installation of 132 Level 2 EV charging ports.
  9. 2,150 PHEV pickups sold: Workhorse Group Inc. is now working with Clean Fuels Ohio to bring 500 units of the W-15 Plug-In Electric Pickup trucks to Ohio-based fleets. The company says that, overall, it has received Letters of Intent for 2,150 units of its upcoming plug-in hybrid pickups. The company has received LOIs from Duke Energy, Portland General Electric, the City of Orlando, Southern California Public Power Authority, Clean Fuels Ohio, and one other utility. The company currently builds medium-duty PHEV work vans for several fleet companies including FedEx, Penske, UPS, Ryder, DHL, USPS, and more.
  10. Lucid Air details: During a recent test drive, startup Lucid Motors revealed more details on its upcoming luxury electric car, the Lucid Air. The starting price is $165,000 for the Launch Edition, in which 255 units will be made in 2019. That one gets a 130 kWh battery pack that can carry the car about 400 miles. After that, the Air will see production scaled up to build a cheaper edition. That one will have a 100 kWh battery with about 300 miles of range. Before any of these electric cars roll out, the Lucid will have to put in place its $700 million production plant in Casa Grande, Ariz., which is slated to start production in 2018.

EPA releases long-awaited proposed rules on biofuels production volumes

Project LIBERTYThe US Environmental Protection Agency released its long-delayed Renewable Fuel Standard proposals for 2014, 2015, and 2016 on Friday. The EPA is proposing requiring 15.93 billion gallons of total renewable fuel in 2014, 16.3 billion gallons in 2015, and 17.4 billion gallons in 2016; the federal agency said the 2016 proposal is nearly 9% more — or 1.5 billion gallons — than actual 2014 volumes. The proposal is still well below the level originally mandated by Congress in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act – 20.5 billion gallons in 2015 and 22.25 billion gallons in 2016. The proposed rules are set to become final by late November.

The EPA acknowledged that the volumes are lower than what was originally set by Congress, but will provide for steady growth over time. “In particular, the proposed volumes would ensure continued growth in advanced biofuels, which have a lower greenhouse gas emissions profile than conventional biofuels,” the EPA stated in its release. “EPA is also proposing to increase the required volume of biomass-based diesel in 2015, 2016, and 2017 while maintaining the opportunity for growth in other advanced biofuels that is needed over the long term.”

The EPA has changed course on blended biofuels, which adds ethanol to gasoline and biodiesel into diesel. According to the EPA: “Due to constraints in the fuel market to accommodate increasing volumes of ethanol, along with limits on the availability of non-ethanol renewable fuels, the volume targets specified by Congress in the Clean Air Act for 2014, 2015 and 2016 cannot be achieved. However, EPA recognizes that the statutory volume targets were intended to be ambitious; Congress set targets that envisioned growth at a pace that far exceeded historical growth rates.”

Most gasoline sold at US fuel stations contains 10% ethanol. For more ethanol to be blended in, a greater amount of fuel would need to contain gasoline with 15%, or 85% in flex-fuel vehicles. While attracting significant biofuels industry criticism on volumes, the EPA won some cautious praise for cautiously advancing renewable fuels targets for 2014 through 2016. It wasn’t right with the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, which thinks the rule still has the EPA forcing more ethanol than the marketplace can handle.

That blend wall debate dates back to the 2005 Renewable Fuel Standard that required the blending of corn-based ethanol and other biofuels into motor fuels; it was to eventually reach 36 billion gallons in motor fuel by 2022. Based on energy independence and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, efforts by the EPA to raise the blend beyond 10% of gasoline coming from ethanol have been met with legal battles, intense lobbying, and public comment town meetings packed with supporters and opponents. Along with oil companies and refiners, automakers have backed limiting the ethanol blend with concern over potential damage to engines. Several automakers said that using E15, or anything over E10, would void their warranty coverage.

This Week’s Top 10: Renewable Fuel Standard biofuel blends may be resolved, Tesla Motors announces Model S 70D

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 StandardThe long-dragged-out biofuels standards may be coming to a conclusion. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said it will propose draft biofuels targets for 2015 by June 1 as part of a lawsuit settlement with oil industry trade groups. The American Petroleum Institute and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers had filed a lawsuit stating that EPA delays in setting renewable fuel use requirements have led to uncertainty and volatility in biofuel markets; oil trade groups are tired of dealing with market volatility of Renewable Identification Number (RIN) credit prices, which is part of the Renewable Fuel Standard rules requiring that fuel refiners mix a certain volume of ethanol into gasoline and biodiesel into diesel each year. The EPA has been dragging out defining the rules that it will set for biofuel volumes. Its decision in late 2013 to reduce the ethanol mandate and maintaining the biodiesel mandate led to a wave of public outcry by biofuels producers and anger by oil industry trade groups over the instability and whether the EPA would reduce the biofuels targets.
  2. Tesla Motors continues grabbing our attention. Last fall, it was the Tesla Model S P85D with “P” standing for performance; now, there’s the Model S 70D with more power, longer range per charge, and price tag with $5,000 added. The 70D is an all-wheel-drive Model S with a 70-kilowatt-hour battery pack, with 240 miles of range and priced at $75,000 before incentives; and it gets 514 horsepower (hp) to all four wheels from two electric motors. That compares with 208 miles on a charge and 380 hp on the base model rear-drive Model S. As for the “D” in Model S 70D, that stands for dual motor, which will be standard.
  3. Henrik Fisker is dropping the Thunderbolt supercar. Former Fisker Automotive co-founder, and previous Aston Martin design director, Henrik Fisker, has settled a lawsuit by Aston Martin against plans to produce the $400,000 Thunderbolt. Fisker claimed it was based on the current Aston Martin Vanquish, a V-12 powered supercar that was to have been modified with custom styling and cosmetic features. Aston Martin says it was too close to the iconic sports car featured in James Bond movies and infringed on Aston Martin’s intellectual property rights. Fisker had shown off the Thunderbolt at the Amelia Island Coucours d’ Elegance car show last month, and said it would be marketed through the Galpin Aston Martin dealership in California.
  4. ClipperCreek releases cost-competitive charging station. ClipperCreek announced availability of its popular LCS-20 EV charging station with a plug, previously available only as a hardwired unit. ClipperCreek released the LCS-20P Level 2 EV Charging Stations now starting at $379 hardwired and $395 with four plug options, the four most common residential 240V supply power plugs.
  5. Elio Motors CEO Paul Elio still needs a few more investors. Elio just spoke at the New York Auto Show and said that to meet the $230 million to begin production of its two-seat, three-wheel fuel efficient vehicle is still falling short – the company needs another $165 million to get these cars on the road. Elio thinks that the $6,800, 84 mpg vehicle is ideal for cost-conscious fleets and consumers. A big question will be whether Elio Motors will be able to qualify for a low-interest loan through the US Dept. of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program that will be re-launched soon.
  6. Rethink Methane Symposium coming up. Gladstein, Neadross & Associates (which puts on ACT Expo) is launching the inaugural Rethink Methane Symposium on June 9-10 in Sacramento, Calif. It’s focused on helping stakeholders understand how renewable methane from biological and synthetic sources can help California meet its climate protection and air quality improvement goals. Featured speakers will be Hector De La Torre of the California Air Resources Board, Peter Lehner of the Natural Resources Defense Council, Julia Levin of the Bioenergy Association of California, and Alan Lloyd, president emeritus of the International Council on Clean Transportation.
  7. Massachusetts offering more EV rebates. Electric vehicles have been popular enough in Massachusetts to use up the initial $2 million incentive funding. Now Governor Charlie Baker has allocated an additional $2 million to the state’s Mor-EV rebate program. Mor-EV, which stands for Massachusetts Offers Rebates for Electric Vehicles, provides up to $2,500 to state residents who buy or lease electric vehicles.
  8. BMW wants to double plug-in sales. BMW would like to double sales of its i3 electric and i8 plug-in hybrid models this calendar year. The BMW i3 had 6,092 in sales from its launch in May of last year through December; the German automaker would like to double that to 12,000 units sold of its i3 battery electric and i3 REX range-extended small hatchbacks by the end of this year. The i8 was introduced in August and took in 555 in sales last year; that number is intended to be 1,000 this year. BMW is happy to see strong demand for both models, said BMW North America CEO Ludwig Willisch.
  9. GM prepping for redesigned Volt. General Motors says it will stop production of its 2015 Chevrolet Volt in May to reduce US stockpiles and to prepare for the highly anticipated 2016 Volt plug-in hybrid. Production of the redesigned 2016 Volt is expected to start late this summer. The suspension comes from lower-than-expected sales, factory renovations and engineering changes, the company said. Volt sales had dropped 19% to 18,805 units in 2014, and 48% in the first quarter of this year to 1,874 units. In other news, GM is thinking about spending $1 billion to renovate its Tech Center campus in Warren, Mich. GM has asked the city for tax breaks on the project. The Tech Center has been the hub of many projects since the 1950s including hosting a battery lab for electric-drive vehicles like the Volt.
  10. Kevin Wood, project manager for clean transportation, at Center for Sustainable Energy, sees the plug-in and fuel cell vehicle markets taking off right now. They have a proven track record in fleets. While they don’t meet the needs in every duty cycle yet, in passenger vehicles and sedans, there’s no reason to not be looking at these technologies. You can hear his perspective on these plug-ins and fuel cell vehicles, and other alternative fuel vehicles, in this Fleet Management Weekly video.
  11. Extra from this week’s Green Auto Market Extended Edition: How Hawaii has become a significant electric vehicle (EV) marketplace. EVs with strong incentives have their appeal in Hawaii – with destination charges and a higher price for gasoline than any other market in the US, EVs become as, or more, attractive with cost-conscious car shoppers living in the state. Hawaii ranks second in the US behind California in the number of electric vehicles registered in the state, according to figures recently release by the US Energy Information Administration. The adoption of electric vehicles is a key component in the state’s target of reaching of 70% in clean energy by the year 2030. Here’s more on how to subscribe to that weekly newsletter and read all about it, plus a section on clean transportation company publicly traded stocks – and resources to check out on following these stocks and market trends.

EPA Appears to be changing its mind on biofuels and E15 mandate

E15It looks like E10 could very well remain the blended ethanol-to-gasoline ratio instead of 15%, or E15, according to a leaked proposal last week from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). If that’s the case, courts are likely to see more case filings coming from biofuels industry associations focused on the EPA backing away from 2014 targets. The oil industry had already filed two suits over 2013 targets. The EPA document referred to the E10 blend wall as an “important reality” and comes from more acceptance that the federal 2007 Renewable Fuel Standard biofuels mandate appears to be unreachable. If it gets approved, the EPA proposal would cut the biofuel mandate in 2014 to 15.21 billion gallons from 18.15 billion gallons. The EPA only has a draft proposal and has not made a final decision on it, according to administrator Gina McCarthy. EPA also considered a corn-based ethanol rate of 12.36 billion gallons and 13.18 billion gallons.
Days prior to the leak, two US oil industry groups had sued the EPA over its 2013 biofuels target. Ethanol groups were ready to sue over any changes to the 2014 rule. The Renewable Fuels Association said it would sue over any attempts to roll back the targets – if the EPA does issue its revised 2014 target, biofuels groups appear ready to file lawsuits.
The clash comes down to industries fighting over falling profits – biofuels companies are depending on increasing output and delivering ethanol to gas stations, and oil companies and refineries are fighting the increased cost of adding more ethanol to gasoline. The oil industry is also upset with the soaring cost of ethanol credits built into the Renewable Fuel Standard. While the EPA has ruled that gasoline blended with E15 is safe to use in vehicles made after the 2001 model year, many automakers are refusing to allow their vehicle warranties to cover the use of fuel over E10. Gas station owners don’t want to invest in another storage tank and pumps to provide E15.

Why I disagree with Forbes article on Pickens and Clean Energy pulling a scam
Forbes staff writer Christopher Helman says the launch of Clean Energy Fuel’s “Redeem” renewable natural gas is a bit of a scam. Read his article “The Clever Gimmicks Behind T. Boone Pickens’ New ‘Green’ Fuel” for details. The commentary states that while the company is gathering landfill gas from dump operators across the country and two of its own, it’s just a marketing gimmick that comes out of selling carbon credits like the one being implemented by the California Air Resources Board. Helman wrote that the natural gas is,” simply injected into the nation’s natural gas pipeline grid, where it’s intermingled with all the other conventional gas flowing down the pipes to plants that turn it into CNG…. The ultra-green nature of Redeem is really just an accounting gimmick. The more gas that Clean Energy’s traders can procure from landfills (as well as methane-rich wastewater plants and dairies) across the country, the more CNG it can slap with the Redeem label. But on the molecular level, it’s exactly the same stuff.”
Well here’s my take on it:  For anyone interested in buying Redeem, such as a fleet with stringent sustainability targets, there would probably be interest. It costs the same as natural gas. It would have the same GHG/carbon reduction benefit as natural gas – around 20% to 25% less than diesel. Natural gas has another benefit in air pollution reduction – 90% less NOx in natural gas compared to gasoline/diesel. There would also be the part about tapping into landfill for the natural gas. If you were a corporate or government fleet, you could say you’re contributing to reducing our landfill problem and using clean fuel.  Plus, you get credits from California Air Resources Board. Helman also makes a comment about it costing 50 cents less than gasoline and diesel. If that’s per gallon equivalent, he was way off – natural gas is sold for only about one third the cost, or around $1.25 or more per gallon – much more than 50 cents in savings.
Another interesting point was seeing a statement by Energy Vision, an energy advocacy group in Washington that tends to hold the natural gas vehicle industry accountable….By capturing and refining the biogases generated from a number of large landfills across the country, one of which is the Sauk Trail Hills landfill in Michigan, which is owned and operated by Republic Services, Clean Energy will provide approximately 15 million gallons of ultra-low-carbon “Redeem” (RNG) this year alone, a volume far greater than most (including the EPA) estimated was possible nationally, let alone in California. Energy Vision commends the pioneering efforts of Clean Energy/Clean Energy Renewable Fuels in making the path to fully-sustainable renewable natural gas a reality.

Green transportation news roundup:

  • Another Tesla Model S competitive model releases details…. The 2014 Cadillac ELR is priced at $75,995 including destination charges. It’s more than twice the price of the Chevrolet Volt and uses the same powertrain, but GM is expected to produce it in smaller numbers and hopes that increases its value to buyers.
  • As Ecotality leaves the charging infrastructure following its bankruptcy filing, competitor and fellow DOE-grant recipient ChargePoint is offering owners of Ecotality Blink charging stations a trade-in credit for switching over – for those switching to a dual-port CT4000 station ($2,200 credit) or a single-port station ($1,200).
  • The U.S. Department of Energy on Friday started an auction on its loan to Fisker Automotive that was made back in 2010. The DOE is still owed $168 million from the $192 million loan, though any sale is expected to be at a discount.
  • Intertek, which certifies electric vehicle supply equipment, has acquired ETEC Labs, a leader in advanced transportation testing, including alternative energy vehicle analysis, research, and demonstration projects.
  • Honda is going after Toyota’s domination of the hybrid market by rolling out a hybrid version of the Fit (joining its ICE and EV versions). The automaker began selling the hybrid Fit last month in Japan where it’s competing directly with the Toyota Aqua, which is known as the Prius C in the US market.
  • Toyota is dropping the base prices of the 2014 Prius Plug-In to $29,990, a $2,010 reduction from the current price.
  • Ford Motor Co. and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, are opening up an $8 million battery research lab. Researchers will be developing and testing new chemistries for automotive applications, and making breakthroughs for electric vehicles and hybrids that will go to market as quickly as possible.
  • Toyota thinks it can cut hydrogen fuel cell vehicle costs in half by 2020 – closer to the production cost of a plug-in hybrid and cheaper than the MSRP for an electric vehicle. It’s still going to be expensive when it launches its first fuel cell vehicle in 2015 – somewhere between $50,000 and $100,000 as its sales price. That came down from Toyota’s cost of $1 million per unit in 2007 to build 100 Highlander fuel cell demonstration vehicles.
    1. Los Angeles-based MPG Car Rental is now offering the Toyota Model S to renters for $499.99 per day. MPG Car Rental prominently displays other vehicles in its green-only lineup including the BMW i3, Volkswagen Jetta TDI, Chevy Volt, Honda Insight, Toyota Camry Hybrid, Toyota Prius, Toyota Highlander Hybrid, and Chevy Tahoe Hybrid.

    New book follows the money trail shaping renewable energy – Plus, a very surprising prediction of stance Obama will take on Keystone XL pipeline
    “Do you get the feeling that the energy industry and the Congress that it owns are deliberately lying to you? If so, you are 100% correct,” according to an announcement that Editor Craig Shields just had his third book published, Renewable Energy: Following the Money. The book features another set of interviews; the effects that economics and financial power have on the course of the energy industry are explored by high-ranking officers in the US military, lobbyists, scientists, economists, environmentalists, journalists, and heads of NGOs. I applaud Shields’ hard work and wide ranging perspectives on renewable energy and clean transportation. I admire how much he’s kept his word on staying in the trenches on where all of this is going as a business – whether that be through attending key conferences or interviewing experts of all genres for his books and blog. This new book digs into what I would describe as what “Deep Throat” ex-FBI official W. Mark Felt kept telling reporter Bob Woodward about the Watergate scandal: “Follow the money trail.”
    Shields also wrote a surprising blog post on the Keystone XL pipeline and President Obama’s decision on whether to back or reject supporting the pipeline from Alberta to Texas. Here’s a few reasons why he thinks it’s going in that direction….

    Smart transportation explored in market report and Toronto conference
    Navigant Research issued a report on “smart transportation” covering global smart city projects around the world. This came out soon after the annual Meeting of the Minds took place in Toronto last month. Meeting of the Minds has been bringing together urban sustainability and connected technology stakeholders since 2007. Navigant Research thinks the global smart city technology market will grow from $6.1 billion in revenue last year to $20.2 billion by 2020. New projects include investment in smart grid, urban mobility, water management, and government service applications for smart cities. Forecasters see urbanization as a major trend around the world impacting transportation in significant ways.

    More skepticism about alternative technology vehicles from industry bible
    What an Automotive News video had to say about tough sales challenge cars like Tesla Model S, Chevy Volt and Toyota Prius have on market…. Stop start, micro-hybrids, and regenerative braking are taking away the strength of plug-ins and hybrids.

    Solazyme just took top spot for the third year in a row on Biofuels Digest’ “50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy” for 2013-14. Propel Fuels (provider of biofuels and other alternative fuels refueling stations) made the list for the first time at No. 29. Solazyme produces renewable oil and bioproducts from a range of plant-based sugars. The company is providing algae diesel with Propel Fuels. Cellulosic biofuel producer KiOR made No. 3 on the top 50 list. The annual rankings recognize innovation and achievement in biobased chemicals and materials development; it’s based 50% on votes from an invited panel and the other 50% from readers – more than 100,000 individual company ratings were received from panelists and voters.