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…….
- The Ram 1500 EcoDiesel took the first-ever Green Truck of the Year award from Green Car Journal at the San Antonio Auto & Truck Show. The Ram pickup beat out four other models, including the expected winner Ford F-150 that has been receiving many accolades for its light-weight aluminum, EcoBoost, and increased mpg. The Ram 1500 EcoDiesel beat another Ram model, the 1500 HFE, along with the Chevrolet Colorado, and the GMC Canyon. Along with fuel economy and emissions reductions, other factors influencing the award’s outcome are functionality, versatility, safety, value, and style. The timing is very interesting given that Bobit Business Media will be rolling out its first-ever Green Fleet Car and Truck of the Year Awards at the LA Auto Show – the same day that Green Car Journal Publisher and Editor Ron Cogan will hand out the annual Green Car of the Year award. It’s also very interesting to see Green Car Journal announce nominees yesterday for more categories – Technology, SUV, and Luxury Green Car Awards. Winners will be announced at the Washington Auto Show on January 22, 2015. (Editor’s note: Still no announcement yet on Green Auto Market launching its own award.)
- O’Hare International Airport in Chicago will be opening an alternative fuel station in early 2016 offering compressed natural gas, biodiesel, and fast-charging stations. Taxis, shuttle buses, and electric vehicle owners will have access to charging, alternative fuels, and conventional gasoline. The aviation department says that an increasing number of vehicles using the airport are powered by alternative fuels including taxis and hotel and rental car shuttles. The center will be also be open to the general public. Clean Energy Fuels will work with PMG Airport Developers, which has built and operated other airport travel plazas.
- The Propane Education & Research Council launched a new series of educational videos called Clean American Innovation featuring interviews with leading US equipment manufacturers discussing their efforts to develop and commercialize new propane autogas technologies. PERC visited manufacturing facilities across the US to show cutting-edge propane technologies in production. Freightliner Custom Chassis, Kohler Engines, Power Solutions International, Roush CleanTech, and other companies participated in the videos.
- Diversity is the word for Ward’s 10 best engines 2015 nominees. Of the pool of 38 nominees, five are diesel, two hybrids, five electric vehicles, one plug-in hybrid, one is a CNG flex-fuel V6, and one is a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle. Twenty one of the engines are turbocharged, and four-cylinder turbo engines prevail. For the past decade, WardsAuto says its list has become more diverse than the previous year. Winners will be named in mid-December and awards handed out at North American International Auto Show in January.
- Slower-than-expected demand for electric vehicles has caused Continental AG to likely end a battery cell joint venture with South Korean company SK Innovation Co. While there’s been general interest in battery-powered vehicles, people are delaying their purchases, says Continental CFO Wolfgang Schaefer.
- The National Auto Dealers Association’s Get the Facts campaign continues with a new ad that highlights what it calls the “benefits of price competition.” It’s a brightly-colored cartoon that emphasizes why negotiating is good for buyers. This has come out in the wake of a series of videos published by Edmunds that ridiculed this practice, which it calls “haggling.” Get the Facts also explores the value of franchised dealers as they battle Tesla Motors over state laws on franchised dealers and car sales.
- The new 2015 Honda Civic Natural Gas will be rolled out in 37 states on Nov. 19 with a base price of $26,740 not including the $790 destination fee. It comes with a five-speed automatic transmission, a seven-inch touchscreen audio display, rearview camera, and LaneWatch display as standard features. As for mileage, its gasoline gallon equivalent is 27 mpg city, 38 highway, and 31 combined.
- BMW will be running a pilot project in Munich next year where street lights will charge electric cars. BMW will be testing out two prototype “Light and Charge” street lights that combine LED with BMW’s ChargeNow charging stations. These will be the first street lights that can charge electric cars and come straight from the existing local authority street lighting infrastructure, BMW said. Drivers will be apple to pay for their charging via a mobile phone app.
- Fisker Automotive will continue working with Quantum Fuel Systems, licensing plug-in hybrid control software for use in the Karma. Fisker will be paying Quantum $2 million before the end of the month to close the deal to renew their relationship and continue with the same control software used previously. Fisker will also pay an additional $2 million by late October of next year to license software for its next vehicle, the Fisker Atlantic.
- Growth in the materials supply chain for advanced batteries over the next 10 years has been analyzed in a new Navigant Research study. Most of the materials will likely be going into lithium-ion batteries; they’re expected to have a leading market share in all three of the major application areas: stationary, portable devices, and transportation. It is also expected that other chemistries will be seeing much growth over the next 10 years