This Week’s Top 10: Keystone XL pipeline may see a clear decision this month, Hyundai reducing price of Tucson fuel cell vehicle in South Korea

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. Keystone pipelineThe Keystone XL pipeline could see a clear decision made this month in Washington. The US Senate last week passed a bill approving the Keystone pipeline, 62 to 36. House Republican leadership would like to vote next week on the Senate’s bill which would allow for a pipeline between Alberta and Houston that would transport refined tar sands oil back to refineries in Canada. It’s been nearly six years that the Canadian government and its oil industry have been pushing to get this through. President Obama may veto the bill while waiting for feedback from the State Department and other federal agencies on the pipeline; the State Department had asked agencies to turn in their feedback comments by the end of yesterday. The final decision from the State Department may be released this month, along with a decision by the White House on whether to support or reject the $8 billion pipeline project.
  2. Hyundai will be reducing the price of its Tucson fuel cell vehicle in the home market of South Korea by 43%bringing it down to the equivalent of $77,189. The challenges are there – besides the high price, there’s only one hydrogen station in South Korea with a second one scheduled to open within the first six months of 2015. The government has set a goal to increase that that number to 200 by 2025. In the US, the Tucson fuel cell model is currently available on a 36-month lease for $499 a month with $2,999 as the down payment. More details on pricing and delivery in global markets is expected to be revealed at the Geneva Motor Show next month.
  3. Green Fleet Conference & Expo, which has been in operation since 2008, will change its name to Fleet Technology Expo on Aug. 24-26 of this year in Long Beach, Calif. It’s sponsored by Bobit Business Media’s Automotive Fleet, Green Fleet, and Heavy Duty Trucking The perspective will be wider on fleet operations than the Green Fleet Conference had been focused on. There will be a special track designated for converting to and maintaining an alternative-fuel fleet. Two additional tracks, Fleet Analytics and Heavy Duty, will expand the available education and expo floor offerings.
  4. The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) debuted its first-ever logo and brand identify for propane autogas with the phrase, PROPANE AUTOGAS Clean American Energy™. Leaders in the propane industry commissioned PERC to develop a single symbol and identity to solidify propane autogas as the official name of the popular alternative fuel. PERC President and CEO Roy Willis also thinks it will support building a brand that advances propane as an increasingly abundant, American-made energy source.
  5. Ford Motor Co. has released its 2015 Alternative Fuel Buyers Guide featuring compressed natural gas, propane autogas, biodiesel, ethanol, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and all-electric vehicles. Beyond the available vehicles and their configurations, you can see a list of qualified vehicle modifiers, fleet testimonials, available infrastructure, and incentives.
  6. Vincentric worked with Business Fleet magazine on a cost analysis model for fleets deploying electric vehicles. The Smart fortwo Electric had the lowest cost per month at $455 at the three year, 12,250 mile (delivery service – local) and $535 for three year, 16,680 mile (sales driver) intervals. The Chevrolet Spark EV had the lowest cost at $651 per month in the three year, 22,175 mile (delivery service – longer distance) segment. The cost models look at total depreciation, total fuel cost (electric and gasoline), total cost to own, cents per mile, and cost per month.
  7. Two car enthusiasts separately caught on camera what appears to be a camouflaged Tesla Model X driving down a test track at the Alameda Airport, near the Oakland Airport, in California. What they thought was the Tesla Model 3 that will be released in 2017 was likely the Model X crossover model that will be coming out later this year. See the video here. One thing is certain – the all-wheel drive dual-motor Model S is now in production, according to Tesla Motors. “Unlike conventional all-wheel drive vehicles that sacrifice fuel efficiency for increased traction, the All-Wheel Drive, Dual Motor Model S provides superior control while actually improving both range and acceleration, even in tough winter conditions,” the company said.
  8. “Electric Vehicles and the Grid: Business Opportunities for Vehicle-to-Grid Integration Technologies” is a webinar taking place on Tuesday, Feb. 10 at 2:00 EST. Navigant Research analyst Scott Shepard, Scott Fisher, director for alternative energy at NRG Energy, and Greenlots CEO Brett Hauser, will discuss the market forces and challenges driving the vehicle-grid integration (VGI) sector. Topics for discussion will include the range of V2G business opportunities, stakeholder incentives for technology development and adoption, and regulatory requirements to enable VGI.
  9. If you’re bored and looking for something interesting to watch, check out the “insane” button on the Tesla Model S P85D. A Tesla driver shows the passenger what happens when you push the button and both the rear and front engines are engaged at the same time. The Model S shoots off 0 to 60 in three seconds, and you get to see passengers express every type of emotion you can imagine. The video is titled, “Tesla P85D Insane Mode Launch Reactions Compilation – Explicit Version.”
  10. A police department in Illinois is saving about $0.61 per gallon equivalent with propane autogas instead of gasoline. Most of these 10 patrol cars being tested on propane drive about 250,000 a year, meaning a significant savings; and the department will be applying for a state rebate program, says Police Chief David Brey of Lake in the Hills, a village in Illinois. The department is working with ICOM North America to convert 10 Chevy Tahoes that range from the 2012 to 2014 model years with ICOM’s bi-fuel system that runs on propane autogas and gasoline.

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