For Today: Republic Services triples RNG use / Hyundai reveals electric bus

Republic Services tripling RNG:  Waste disposal company Republic Services will be increasing its usage of renewable natural gas (RNG) by three times what it used in 2016 in its CNG-powered refuse trucks through an expanded agreement with Clean Energy. Clean Energy’s Redeem brand of RNG fuel will be deployed across Republic’s CNG-fleet in 20 states. Republic will be able to reduce its fleet emissions by approximately 110,000 metric tons of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) over a three-year period, which is equal to planting 2.8 million trees or removing 23,200 cars from the road. Using RNG and alternative fuel trucks will combine with intelligent routing and the company’s One Fleet maintenance initiative will help the company hits its greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.

Texas blocks Tesla:  The Texas state legislature has voted down two bills that would have allowed Tesla the right to directly sell its electric vehicles in the state. That was a tough call for Tesla, with Texas being the nation’s’ second largest auto retailing market after California. The company is close to starting production of the Model 3, and losing out on the Texas market will affect its future sales. That legislative battle has been dragged out for years in a state that Tesla had once considered setting up its Gigactory within.

Hyundai electric bus:  Hyundai just revealed the Elec City electric bus during an event in Korea. It has a 256 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery and a 240 kW electric motor, delivering a driving range of 180 miles. Fast charging capability will enable a full recharging in just over an hour. Production and sales begin in 2018. No word yet on whether it will stay in Korea or go overseas to compete with electric bus makers BYD and Proterra.

This Week’s Top 10: Audi takes on Tesla for wealthy eco-conscious buyers, Federal tax credits on AFVs extended

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. Audi R8Audi takes on Tesla: Even though reaching out to upscale, climate change-conscious car shoppers probably won’t be enough to take electric vehicle sales to the next level, Audi thinks there’s enough potential in that segment to take on Tesla Motors. In 2017, Audi will be rolling out an electric crossover that will compete with Tesla for business among wealthy, environmentally conscious consumers. It will be a battery-powered version of the $115,900 R8 sports car – Audi’s first battery electric vehicle. It will follow deliveries of the A3 E-Tron plug-in hybrid hatchback this year. Competition with Tesla (and BMW) for the luxury electric car buyer market will be tough. Tesla Model S drivers who recently took a Consumer Reports survey say they’re more likely than Porsche owners (or any other brand) to buy one of these Tesla cars again. The car shopping experience is one of the reasons Tesla drivers are staying very loyal to the brand. Even though most franchised dealers hate Tesla for running their own stores, they are showing an example of what luxury car buyers are expecting from the experience. Major dealer chain Sonic Automotive was recently dubbed the “Tesla of dealers” by Morgan Stanley for giving their customers a faster and better buying experience.
  2. Tax credits on AFVs. If you’re looking for tax credits for vehicles running off of compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, and propane autogas, there’s good news. The House last week passed HR 5771, the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014, which includes a 50-cent per gallon tax credit through the end of this year. That credit had previously expired at the end of 2013, and the US Senate is now reviewing the bill.
  3. Simplifying electric vehicle (EV) charging monitoring and reporting. Siemen’s energy management division is working with Duke Energy on the next phase of a US Dept. of Energy-funded project. Siemens has what it says is the first Underwriters Laboratories (UL)-approved residential EV supply equipment (EVSE) to demonstrate the ability to monitor status, report energy use, and be controlled from the local area network and the cloud. That comes out of an 18-month test project to reduce cost and expand charging technologies.
  4. British OEMs “onshoring” jobs back to UK. British automakers are expected to create 50,000 new jobs in the UK over the next two years; 63% of them are planning on developing low-carbon or electric vehicle technology. According to a study by Lloyds Bank, 70% of car manufacturers or their supply chain partners plan to return more of their production to the UK; improved economic conditions there and a desire to support local communities are reasons why – along with creating more reliable and shorter supply chains.
  5. Ryder System joins Trucking Efficiency. Major fleet management and supply chain company Ryder System is supporting this joint initiative between the Carbon War Room and the North American Council for Freight provides fleet owners and operators with data on available vehicle technologies and the benefits and challenges of deploying them.
  6. More workplace charging. Coca-Cola Company will provide electric vehicle charging at seven of its facilities across California, and NRG eVgo will install and manage them. It’s part of offering support with the state’s goal of bringing 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles to its roads by 2025.
  7. Diesel plug-in hybrid. Volkswagen will enter the plug-in hybrid diesel market through its Audi brand. The Audi Q7 will debut next year with gasoline and diesel powertrains, and a plug-in diesel will come later to Europe and the US.
  8. Getting NGV support in Washington. Executives from Daimler Trucks, UPS, Clean Energy Fuels, and other companies spoke last week before the US Senate Finance Committee asking for support of federal tax incentives for natural gas vehicles. High-ranking senators agreed that reform is needed on tax and energy policies to level the field for alterative fuels. However, how and when this will take shape was not resolved by the finance committee.
  9. Boeing 787 Dreamliner battery fire. National Transportation Safety Board reported that the lithium-ion battery fire last January in a parked Boeing 787 Dreamliner came from design and certification defects. The NTSB is recommending that the Federal Aviation Administration improve guidance and training provided to industry FAA certification engineers on safety assessments and compliance methods. NTSB made 15 safety recommendations to FAA, two to Boeing, and one to battery manufacturer GS Yuasa.
  10. Fuel Efficient Military Vehicles. GMZ Energy, which produces high temperature thermoelectric generation (TEG) solutions, announced the successful demonstration of a 1,000W diesel TEG that directly converts waste heat into usable electricity to increase fuel efficiency by reducing the load on the alternator. This announcement follows GMZ’s June 2014 demonstration of its 200W diesel TEG, and marks the next milestone in the $1.5 million vehicle efficiency program sponsored by the US Army Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) and administered by the US Dept. of Energy. TEG could save the US military billions of dollars per year by increasing fuel efficiency in Bradley Fighting Vehicles, which get less than one mile per gallon.

Big Picture: More actions on Tesla stores in Ohio and Arizona, Toyota Financial Services starts up Asset-Backed Green Bond

Tesla direct salesIn the wake of New Jersey’s decision on Tesla Motors’ right to run corporate retail stores, there are two more states seeing developments. Ohio Gov. John Kasich has received a letter from General Motors expressing concern that the state would allow Tesla to expand beyond the two Ohio stores it currently has in operation. GM thinks the state should oppose legislation allowing Tesla to open more stores, as it would allow Tesla to compete under a different set of rule. “We understand discussions are ongoing over legislation which could provide a broad exemption for a single manufacturer, Tesla Motors Inc., to circumvent long-established legal precedent on how new motor vehicles are marketed, sold and serviced in your state,” Selim Bingol, GM’s senior vice president of global communications and public policy, wrote in the letter.

Arizona may allow Tesla to sell directly to consumers at retail stores within the state – if the company is willing to have a service center in the state to handle repairs and warranty issues. The state’s Senate Commerce, Energy and Military Committee voted three-to-two to push forward this bill in the legislature.  Arizona Senate Majority Leader John McComish called the bill a “pre-emptive strike” against future laws that outlaw Tesla’s direct-sale model. The bill will need to go before another committee for review, then would go to the full Senate.

And in other clean transportation news…….

  • Toyota has a very interesting offer through its Toyota Financial Services (TFS) captive finance arm – the auto industry’s first-ever Asset-Backed Green Bond; the company is outlaying $1.75 billion, which was upsized from $1.25 as institutional investors have expressed interest in this clean transportation investment opportunity.  TFS will use the proceeds from Green Bond toward the purchase of retail finance contracts and lease contracts for Toyota and Lexus vehicles that meet high green standards as established by three criteria: gasoline-electric hybrid or alternative fuel powertrain; minimum EPA estimated MPG (or MPG equivalent for alternative fuel vehicles) of 35 city / 35 highway; and California Low-Emission Vehicle II (LEV II) certification of super ultra-low emission vehicles (SULEVs) or higher, which would include partial zero emissions vehicles (PZEVs) and zero emissions vehicles (ZEVs). Qualifying models from Toyota include: Prius, Prius C, Prius V, Prius Plug-in, Camry Hybrid, Avalon Hybrid, and RAV4 EV. From Lexus, qualifying vehicles are CT 200h and ES 300h.
  • Producing more than 5,000 compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling tanks last year is one of several positive signs that Quantum Fuel Systems is on a turnaround that should continue, according to stock market analyst website Seeking Alpha; that’s more than double the amount of tanks that were produced in 2012. The company was close to collapsing 12 to 18 months ago, but a corporate restructuring has been completed and seems to have a brighter future. Quarterly earnings were reported earlier this month – positive earnings were reported for the first time in quite a while. The company’s share price has increased by more than 250% in the past 12 months. About 10,000 tanks are expected to be delivered in 2014.
  • The Energy Independence Summit will be taking place in Washington, DC, March 30-April 2. Leaders in clean transportation will be gathering to share best practices and educate federal policy makers about the benefits of the US Dept. of Energy’s Clean Cities program. The need for additional tools and resources to overcome barriers to the widespread use of clean vehicles and fuels will also be discussed.  You can contact Ken Brown at Transportation Energy Partners at or (202) 674-7777 if you have questions or would like additional information about the Summit.
  • The CHAdeMO electric vehicle fast charging protocol, which was initially adopted in Japan by domestic automakers, has been officially recognized as an international DC charging standard by electrical standards organization the International Electrotechnical Commission. The final draft international standards were approved by committees in January 2014, and were finally published last week on the IEC website. The number of CHAdeMO fast charging stations doubled in 2012 to more than 2,000 units are expected to grow, the association said last year.
  • Dish Network unveiled 47 new propane-powered vehicles at an event on Friday in Hawthorne, Calif. Roush CleanTech converted Ford E-Series vans for Dish Network, and the company’s goal is to deploy 200 of these alternative-fuel vehicles that will run on propane autogas.
  • Volvo Trucks is bringing its full range of alt-fuel vehicles to the 2014 Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky. That lineup will include: Volvo VNL 300 CNG with 400-horsepower 11.9-liter Cummins Westport ISX12 G engine; Volvo VNL 300 LNG with 455-horsepower Volvo D13-LNG (compression ignition) engine; and Volvo VNL 300 dimethyl ether (DME) with 435-horsepower Volvo D13-DME engine.
  • BMW plants to produce more than 100,000 electric vehicles per year to meet tougher European emission standards that reach a key mandate level by 2020. CEO Norbert Reithofer told reporters that BMW will increase production levels of its i3 and i8 in 2018 in anticipation of getting up to 100,000 units annually in order to meet the stricter carbon dioxide emission standards. BMW was pleased to see that its i3 took 10,000 internet orders when it went online last fall.