The state of clean advanced vehicle technologies on World Environment Day 2016

World Environment Day 2016, a global outreach campaign organized by United Nations, celebrated its 42nd anniversary on June 5. It’s a global platform for raising awareness and taking action on what it considers to be increasingly urgent issues. About 25% of the world’s CO2 emissions are tied to transportation globally, according to the International Energy Agency; and about 30% in the U.S., according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Here are the latest developments on clean, advanced vehicles around the world.

Proterra electric busUS-China electric bus competition: On Friday in Los Angeles, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and Chinese Minister of Transport Yang Chuantang signed an agreement officially announcing the US-China “Race to Zero Emissions.” One city from each of the two countries will be competing to determine which one will deploy the highest percentage of emission free buses by 2025.  The race is designed to improve air quality in urban areas and prevent climate change. For each of the cities entering the competition, the minimum size of the fleet must be 200 or more buses. Two smaller transit properties can form a team and compete in the race if their combined fleet size is 200 buses or more. Potential participants can learn more at “This challenge will hasten the development of new and emerging technologies that will move us away from fossil fuels and race us closer to our ultimate goal of zero emissions, while creating good jobs and economic growth in both the United States and China,” said Secretary Foxx.

In large part inspired by the successful federal “Race to the Top” education program in the U.S., CALSTART developed the Race to Zero concept in 2014. In June 2015, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the Race to Zero had been endorsed in concept by the U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group. A five-year federal transportation bill came through in December dedicating $55 million annually for the purchase of zero or near-zero emission buses; and the Chinese government has made attractive incentives available through the national government and many of the larger cities.

CALSTART is working under contract with the U.S. DOT to support the Race to Zero Emissions. Entrants in the competition will be able to take part in annual meetings and able to learn about the latest developments in electric bus and charging technology in both the United States and China. “CALSTART is eager to begin working with cities and transit properties that not only want to take full advantage of the advances in zero emission bus technology, but also wanted to become part of a larger global effort to prevent climate change,” said CALSTART President and CEO, John Boesel.

Mahindra launches 2nd EV: In commemoration of World Environment Day, Mahindra Electric launched the e-Verito, its second all-electric car in the country; it’s another step in the Indian automaker’s efforts to offer the most affordable electric vehicles in the world. The e-Verito’s base price starts at 950,000 rupees (about $14,225). Mahindra is already selling the e2o electric hatchback in India. The e-Verito will come with a 72V 3-phase AC induction motor producing maximum gross power of 41 hp @3500 rpm and maximum torque of 91 Nm @3000 rpm, mated to an automatic transmission. It can be quick charged in two hours through fast charging at the top-end option and price for the e-Verito.

The Mahindra e-Verito and e20 are tied to the discontinued Reva, with the e20’s exterior styling very similar to the Reva. The Mahindra e20 may be the most affordable electric car in the world with a starting price of 592,000 rupees (about $8,865). The e20 can travel 120 kilometers (74.5 miles) on a single charge.

Norway may ban fossil fuels: Norway’s political system may soon adopt the world’s fastest fossil fuel ban. Politicians from both sides of the political spectrum have reportedly reached some concrete conclusions about 100% of Norwegian new vehicles sold running on clean fuel by 2025. Norway may ban the sale of all fossil fuel-based cars by that year, continuing its trend towards becoming one of the most ecologically progressive countries on the planet, according to reports.

There has been some denial from opponents of the measure that the move has been confirmed. If passed, it would be particularly significant because a large proportion of Norway’s funds rely on the country’s petroleum industry. The government has offered attractive incentives for electric vehicle purchases in the country. That helped the nation experience the highest percentage of EV sales ever recorded – with EVs making up 23% of new vehicle sales in the country last year.

South Korea emissions tests and green car sales: The South Korean government will be enacting real-world emissions tests of diesel vehicles in 2017, and unveiled ambitious new targets for environmentally-friendly vehicle sales. South Korea’s cities have become choked by smog, similar to what China has been seeing. The South Korean government wants to bring air quality up to western European levels within a decade. The government would like to raise its green vehicle target to 30% of new vehicles sales by 2020 – up from 2.6 percent currently. The government also promised to support growth in plug-in electrified vehicle sales by increasing new charging stations to 10 times their current level.

Israel base for advanced vehicle technologies: While Israel had been the home to the now-defunct Better Place electric vehicle battery-swapping company, that company’s presence and other local innovators have brought investors to the country. Mobileye, a technology company that develops vision-based advanced driver assistance systems providing warnings for collision prevention and mitigation, has been gaining attention globally and seems to symbolize advance technology innovations in the country. Waze, the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation mobile app, started up in Israel before being acquired by Google for over $1 billion. Analysts say these two companies were part of a big wave of auto sector startups. Better Place is considered to have served as an “incubator” in Israel for talented developers and professionals who later moved on to new startups or established vehicle technology companies. Israel has been a vital space for General Motors, which a few years ago invested in an R&D center there. The technologies developed in Israel, including those developed in the Global Connected Consumer project led by the Israeli R&D division, will be integrated into millions of GM vehicles worldwide in the coming years.

This Week’s Top 10: US and China make a big deal on greenhouse gas, Four interesting fleet acquisition announcements

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. US and ChinaThe United States and China, which together produce 45% of the world’s carbon emissions, made an agreement last week to extend their greenhouse gas emission reduction targets farther than before. The US has set a goal of cutting its own greenhouse gas/carbon emissions more deeply by 2025 than its previous goal through 2020. To meet the new target goal of reducing emissions 17% by 2020, the pace will have to double, according to the White House. China, which has been producing a very high carbon output through coal-powered energy plants, has agreed to cap its carbon emissions by 2030 or earlier; that will come through 20% of its electricity being generated through wind, solar, nuclear, or other zero-emission sources. While stopping climate change may not be backed by everyone, air pollution is a large factor, especially in China. Transportation has expanded dramatically in Beijing and other cities, prompting municipalities and the national government to support more electrified and alternative fuel vehicle options.
  2. Per usual, fleets have been making some decisions on alternative fuels and vehicles in their fleet acquisitions with four interesting announcements made in the past week. Ryder System is working with Mansfield Energy and Clean Energy Fuels to offer compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicle and fuel solutions to bulk fuel haulers……. Frito-Lay and its parent company PepsiCo have agreed to an aggressive plan to conserve fuel and reduce emissions for its delivery trucks and sales cars; through a partnership with Clean Fuels Ohio, a non-profit alliance supporting clean air in the state, Frito-Lay has already brought in 45 propane-powered Ford E350 vans and five electric Newton delivery trucks…… Nestle Waters North America added five medium-duty beverage trucks fueled by propane autogas at its Los Angeles location; Roush CleanTech supplied the trucks that will deliver Arrhowhead Mountain Spring Water in the region……..  In its 12th annual Sustainability Report, UPS reported that it met its 2016 goal of reducing its air and ground transportation fleet’s carbon intensity by 10% three years early. Last year, carbon emissions decreased 1.5% from 2012 even as global shipping volume increased nearly 4%. “Industrial technology advances by the OEMs” were one of the key reasons these gains were made, according to Mike Britt, director of maintenance & engineering, international operations, ground fleet for UPS.
  3. The US Senate is expected to vote on the Keystone XL pipeline today, which passed through the House on Friday. The bill, which would allow for a pipeline between Alberta and Houston, would transport refined tar sands oil back to refineries in Canada. If the bill passes through the Senate, the president may veto it or stall on it while waiting for the US State Department to release its statement on the project. It’s been nearly six years that the Canadian government and oil industry has been pushing to get this through.
  4. Land Rover may take on Tesla with an electric Range Rover model, which will probably be a smaller version of the luxury SUV than the flagship model. The upcoming Jaguar compact model based on the C-X17 concept could be the basis for what Land Rover rolls out.
  5. NGVAmerica has released its NGVAmerica Station Analysis Map that shows US compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas station locations, accessibility, and contact information. It also highlights the vehicle ranges supported by the stations in 100-, 400-, and 600-mile increments. Its purpose is to help fleet operators make their routing and travel planning easier with natural gas fueling.
  6. Via Motors received EPA certification for its plug-in hybrid van. The eREV is now available to fleet customers in the US; Via has delivered about 25 of them so far. Via says it can get more than 100 mpge in typical daily driving.
  7. Hyundai and Kia plan on raising their fleets’ average fuel economy 25% by 2020 to meet emissions regulations in the US, Europe, and South Korea. To do this the number of green cars available for sell will increase from seven to 22, the company says. That will come out to 12 hybrid models, six plug-in hybrid mid-size and compact cars, two battery-electric cars, and two fuel-cell cars.
  8. Natural gas is feeling more scrutiny in California, where its measurement and taxation rates are being redefined by the State Board of Equalization for the first time since 1971. The agency is using existing Use Fuel Tax Laws; CNG will now be sold as a gasoline gallon equivalent equal to 8.87 cents per gallon, or 5.66 pounds; it has been six cents per 100 cubic feet. LNG is currently seven cents per gallon and will go up to a diesel gallon equivalent (DGE) equal to $.1017/DGE or 6.06 pounds. Dispensers also have to show “gasoline gallon equivalent” on CNG and “diesel gallon equivalent” on LNG.
  9. The 2015 Alternative Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo will highlight another industry alliance, this time through an expanded partnership with Trucking Efficiency; this is a joint effort between the American Council for Freight Efficiency and Carbon War Room. Their goal is to double the freight efficiency of goods movement in North America.
  10. Honda revealed a revised version of its new hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle in Japan. The Honda FCV Concept will soon be shown with more details as to what the five-passenger mid-size sedan will look like when it appears on Japanese roads in early 2016. At the LA Auto Show next week, Honda plans to announce its commitment to assist in expanding California’s hydrogen fueling stations.