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…….
- Corporate sustainability day at ACT Expo: Corporate sustainability will be the leading issue on Thursday, May 5, Advanced Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo in Long Beach, Calif. Corporations and government agencies are looking at their fleet operations more closely as air quality regulations become increasingly stringent and global fuel costs remain volatile. Transportation is the fastest growing source of carbon dioxide and causes approximately 60% to 70% of greenhouse gas emissions for most mid-size cities. Executives from Walmart, Coca-Cola, Penske, Unilever, SoCalGas, ZipCar, and more will share insight on how your organization can: reduce its carbon footprint; proactively address continually tightening emissions regulations; gain a competitive business advantage; and mitigate the impact of volatile petroleum prices. Panel topics will include fleet operators that have gone beyond basic compliance to prove that sustainability can make both sense and cents for their fleets; creating a sustainable freight transportation action plan; and, how companies like Uber, Lyft, ZipCar, Amazon, InstaCart, and Google have completely disrupted the urban mobility landscape. To participate, register for the full conference or a May 5 pass.
- Siemens and Valeo making engines: German engineering giant Siemens and French auto supplier Valeo are teaming up to serve the growing European market by making engines for electric and hybrid vehicles. The joint venture will have headquarters in Erlangen, Germany and facilities in France, Norway, Poland, Hungary and China and is to become operational in late 2016. The venture will develop and sell high-voltage electric motors, range extenders, and chargers used in electric vehicles and light commercial vehicles. “With the expertise offered by Siemens, a leader in power electronics and electric motor products, Valeo would maintain its technological lead by offering a comprehensive line-up of technologies ranging from micro-hybrid to all-electric solutions,” said Valoe chief executive Jacques Aschenbroich.
- Next-gen Focus EV: Ford is fending off the 200 miles per charge argument with the next-generation Ford Focus EV, which will go about 100 miles before needing its next charge. At the SAE World Congress in Detroit, Kevin Layden, Ford’s director for electrification, said the company felt that extra 100 miles wasn’t worth the extra $6,000 it would cost potential owners. Layden thinks 100 miles represent a “big chunk of the population.’
- More details on Faraday: While high-performance electric carmaker Faraday Future launched its $1 billion factory in Nevada last week, Faraday reportedly let slip that its first cars would roll out of the factory in 2018. That was big news for those wondering when that detail would be revealed by a company that had been quiet about it. “We have said we’re taking a four-year program and our goal is to do it in half the time,” Stacy Morris, Faraday spokeswoman, said Thursday morning. “But we’re not releasing a specific date yet. This is a very complicated project, and so we’re just trying to move as fast as we can while doing it right.”
- Hyperloop recruiting staff: Hyperloop sent staff to Detroit last week to recruit automotive engineers and designers. Hyperloop’s creators, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk, hope the system will one day transport pressurized capsules through tubes at speeds in excess of 700 mph. Brogan BamBrogan, Hyperloop Technology’s chief technology officer and co-founder, spoke at the SAE 2016 World Congress Wednesday and said that the Los Angeles firm is setting up a full-scale, two-mile working prototype north of Las Vegas that should be operating by the end of this year.
- Republic grows its CNG fleet: Republic Services, Inc., expanded its fleet of compressed natural gas solid waste collection trucks with the addition of 62 CNG trucks in Broward and Dade counties. These new CNG trucks will replace the previously used diesel-powered collection trucks and will accelerate the total number of natural gas vehicles operating in South Florida to 127. Pollution is a growing concern in today’s world, and keeping that in mind, the company has been taking initiatives to reduce carbon emission. Being one of the renowned operators of a large vocational fleet in South Florida, Republic Services strives to make a positive impact on the environment.
- EPA rule on racecar conversions: The U.S. Environmental Protection agency will drop controversial language from a proposed heavy- and medium-duty truck rule that had sparked fears of a ban on street-to-race car conversions and recent scrutiny from Republican lawmakers. It had been part of a 629-page proposal published last June to slash carbon emissions by medium- and heavy-duty trucks. In February, the Specialty Equipment Market Association issued a warning that the EPA sought to prohibit the type of modifications made to street cars converted for racing use that amateur racers have taken to the track for decades.
- Mahindra e20 rolls out: Mahindra has rolled out a small electric car in the United Kingdom. The Mahindra e2o follows its G-Wiz electric model. After applying the government grant for EVs, the price of the Mahindra e2o shrinks to £12,995 ($18,707). This makes the e2o cheaper than the Renault Zoe, priced at £18,445 ($26,553). Compared to the latter nameplates, the e20 is on the small side of EVs, measuring 129.1 inches in length and 59.6 inches in width. The e20 has a 13.9 kWh battery pack and a range of 79 miles on a full charge.
- More than 200 miles per charge: The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab released a study last week on what U.S. consumer think about plug-in electric vehicles. A pure electric vehicle would need to be able to go 300 miles once charged for 56 percent of the survey respondents to be willing to consider purchasing one. As for buying an EV, survey respondents leaned a little bit toward plug-in hybrids. When asked to name any EVs that they knew of, 20 percent named the Chevrolet Volt, 18 percent the Toyota Prius Plug-In, 14 percent the Model S, and 10 percent the Nissan Leaf.
- Another electric utility goes to EVs: Arizona Public Service Co. is following the lead set by two other utilities, Florida Power & Light and Pacific Gas & Electric. APS is swapping out its more than 2,100 cars, SUVs and trucks with electric vehicles over its replacement cycle. A specific completion date has not be specified. ATVs and bucket trucks are also slated for replacement with electric alternatives over time and as technology permits. “Just as we’ve worked to modernize our grid and provide cleaner energy, we are now modernizing our fleet to reduce our carbon footprint,” said Donna Easterly, vice president and chief procurement officer with APS.