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…….
- 50% petroleum reduction bill dies: California did take a giant step forward in Gov. Jerry Brown’s climate change legislation on Friday, but motor vehicles were unfortunately cut out of the negotiated deal. SB 350, the Clean Energy and Reduction Act, was notable for increasing mandates on renewable energy used to power electricity; efforts to cut petroleum consumption in the state 50% by 2030 were cut out of the settlement. The bill, authored by Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León and Senator Mark Leno, called not only for a 50% reduction in petroleum use in cars and trucks but it also called for a 50% increase in energy efficiency in buildings and half of the state’s utility power coming from renewable energy. The Western States Petroleum Association led the charge to defeat the petroleum provision with a major campaign to block the legislation. The oil industry’s campaign showed advertisements charging the bill could lead to fuel rationing and bans on sport-utility vehicles. Automakers had expressed concern that the state already had its aggressive mandate in place for hitting zero emission vehicle (ZEV) targets and that jumping that target up to 50% petroleum reduction was far from what could be accomplished in conjunction with the federal fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions targets.
- Funding available for EV charging stations: You can view presentations and hear the entire recording on “Funding & Financing Electric Vehicle Charging Stations for your Business.” Panelists talked about reducing the cost of buying and installing the equipment for workplaces and multi-unit dwellings. Speakers included Rick Teebay, of LA County Office of Sustainability and co-chair of the event sponsor, LAEDC’s e4Mobility Alliance. NRG’s Kevin Kelleher talked about the utility’s Ready for Electric Vehicle (REV) Program. NRG eVgo can provide funding up to $30,000 in electrical infrastructure upgrades for qualified California workplaces and multi-family properties; other funding programs were detailed during the presentation. Click here to fill out the form and download the webinar.
- Audi, Porsche, Jaguar, and Land Rover plan to roll out new plug-in models to meet demand from luxury and sports car enthusiasts – and to maybe take some business away from Tesla Motors. Audi is getting ready to roll out a battery-powered SUV that could be faster and deliver better performance than the Tesla Model X. It could come to market by early 2018. Porsche is rolling out the high-performance Mission E, a concept car the German automaker is unveiling at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The 600-horsepower Mission E will make it to 62.5 mph in under 3.5 seconds. Drivers of the Mission E will be able to go more than 310 miles per charge if they’re being a little more gentle on the throttle. Jaguar Land Rover Automotive PLC will be adding advanced, battery-based powertrain systems to its high-performance offerings such as the Jaguar F-Type and Range Rover. The British automaker is exploring several green car options to meet government mandates – including the electric models, a couple of hybrids, diesels, and lightweighting the vehicle bodies.
- Algenol Biotech and Protec Fuel Management have entered into an agreement to market and distribute a new type of ethanol from Algenol’s Fort Myers, Fla., commercial demonstration module. The companies say it’s the first time that ethanol made from algae will be available commercially. Protec Fuel will distribute and market the fuel for E15 and E85 applications for both retail stations and general public consumption, as well as fleet applications. The partner companies will also offer Algenol’s future 18 million gallons per year from its commercial plant, which is planned for development in Central Florida in 2016 and 2017.
- UPS has purchased 125 E-GEN range-extended electric delivery trucks that were produced by Workhorse Group. The trucks are scheduled to be deployed in Arizona, Texas, Nevada, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida during the first half of 2016. “This investment will help create and grow the market for ground-breaking alternative propulsion systems that reduce environmental impact, reduce operating costs and save fuel,” said UPS senior vice president global engineering and sustainability Mark Wallace in a release. UPS expects to see significant fuel economy equivalency gains on the trucks designed for urban routes traveling 50-to-60 miles per day.
- Warning issued about hacking driverless cars being too easy: A security firm is concerned that hackers will be able to play with the complex LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) systems that are integral for driverless cars, to fool the onboard system into a crash with merely $60 in parts. It’s happening through a small, low-power laser and a pulse generator, said Jonathan Petit of Security Innovation. It could even be replaced by a Raspberry Pi, a small computer board used in DIY projects, he said. The attacker can trick the car into thinking there are objects where there actually isn’t – potentially forcing the car to slow down, stop, or swerve. “I can take echoes of a fake car and put them at any location I want,” Petit said. “And I can do the same with a pedestrian or a wall.”
- Elio Motors and its three-wheeled personal transportation vehicles was named one of the “Top 10 Automotive Startups,” by the LA Auto Show’s Connected Car Expo. Elio Motors was recognized for offering a fun-to-drive, super-economical, environmentally friendly personal transportation alternative. The Elio is designed to achieve up to 84 MPG with a targeted $6,800 base price.
- Toyota building flying cars?: Toyota Motor Corp. has filed for a patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for a “stackable wing for an aerocar.” The wing can change shape and guide the car during flights. One configuration from Toyota shows the wings as if they were stacked atop the car roof, and another image shows a more aerodynamic shape for when it’s deployed for flight.
- Bosch leading CNG fuel system: A consortium of automotive suppliers and vehicle manufacturers in Germany are being led by Robert Bosch GmbH to develop a new fuel system for compressed natural gas (CNG). The concept is based on direct injection, which would make natural gas vehicles even more economical and environmentally friendly. Bosch says the new technology could deliver as much as 60% more torque at low rpm, and offer the prospect of an even more dynamic driving experience in CNG vehicles.
- EV sales in China jump: Electric and plug-in hybrid car sales leaped 270% to 108,654 cars in January through August of this year, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) said. With incentives and targets, the Chinese government is pushing automakers to develop battery electric cars. Electric powertrains are simpler to develop, and driving a push to green cars fits President Xi Jinping’s policy goal of reducing pollution through manufacturing “new energy” vehicles, according to a Reuters article.