Monday, January 31, 2011

Could Europe Be Free From Fossil Fuels By 2050?

Fuel and vehicle propulsion strategy. (Source: ERTRAC) Click to enlarge.

Alternative fuels have the potential gradually to replace fossil energy sources and make transport sustainable by 2050, according to a report presented to the European Commission last week by the stakeholder expert group on future transport fuels. The EU will need an oil-free and largely CO2-free energy supply for transport by 2050 due to the need to reduce its impact on the environment and concerns about the security of energy supply.

Expected demand from all transport modes could be met through a combination of electricity (batteries or hydrogen/fuel cells) and biofuels as main options, synthetic fuels (increasingly from renewable resources) as a bridging option, methane (natural gas and biomethane) as complementary fuel, and LPG as supplement, the report finds.

The Commission is currently revising existing policies and the report will feed into the initiative on clean transport systems, to be launched later this year. The initiative intends to develop a consistent long-term strategy for fully meeting the energy demands of the transport sector from alternative and sustainable sources by 2050.

If we are to achieve a truly sustainable transport, then we will have to consider alternative fuels. For this we need to take into account the needs of all transport modes.

—Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport

Different modes of transport require different options of alternative fuels, the panel said. Fuels with higher energy density are more suited to longer-distance operations, such as road freight transport, maritime transport, and aviation. Compatibility of new fuels with current technologies and infrastructure, or the need for disruptive system changes should be taken into account as important factors, determining in particular the economics of the different options.

According to the report, alternative fuels are the ultimate solution to decarbonize transport, by gradually substituting fossil energy sources. Technical and economic viability, efficient use of primary energy sources and market acceptance, however, will be decisive for a competitive acquisition of market share by the different fuels and vehicle technologies.

There is no single candidate for fuel substitution, the report said. Fuel demand and greenhouse gas challenges will most likely require the use of a mix of fuels which can be produced from a large variety of primary energy sources. There is broad agreement that all sustainable fuels will be needed to fully meet the expected demand.

Strategy 2050. Looking ahead to 2050, the expert group said that a long-term view and a stable policy environment are required to provide “clear, consistent and unwavering” signals to industry and investors.

A long-term trajectory should therefore be defined for Europe within a predictable regulatory framework. Within this trajectory, managing the transition from a predominantly fossil fuel to a predominantly alternative fuel transport system will be an ongoing challenge.

Policy and regulation should be technology neutral, founded on a scientific assessment of the well-to-wheels CO2 emissions, energy efficiency, and cost associated with competing technology pathways. The incentives for alternative fuels should be based on their CO2 footprint and their general sustainability. This should include recognition of all alternative fuel pathways and all CO2 abatement measures available, including application of carbon capture and storage (CCS).

Separate regulations on the energy system and on the transport system ensure more efficient implementation and leave flexibility for adopting the most cost-effective solutions. However, these regulations need to be developed in parallel to ensure that they are complementary and that they provide consistent message to industry.

—Future Transport Fuels

The first element of a long-term fuel strategy should be ongoing efforts to increase the energy efficiency of all transport operations as well as vehicles, through implementation of such options as downsizing, direct injection, charging and engine displacement reduction and the utilization of new efficient combustion systems. This stretches the availability of fossil resources, the group noted, and facilitates full substitution of oil by CO2–free energy sources in the long term. The main guidelines for this strategy are:

  • Energy efficiency policies in the end-use transport sectors allow energy savings and reduction of CO2 emissions. They will not provide for oil substitution, as required in the longer term. But energy savings through efficiency policies are an important prerequisite for replacing oil-based fuels, meeting increasing demand with limited supply from alternative energy sources.

  • Future transport technologies and measures designed to promote them need to deliver both on efficiency and on replacing oil-based energy with renewable energy.

  • Allocation of fuels to the different sectors of transport might better be achieved through market competition than through regulatory measures. Some sectors could also afford higher fuel prices, supporting early market development of initially more expensive alternative fuels.

  • Electric drive technology has the greatest potential for sustainable short to medium distance road transport over the long term, although it is not yet decided, according to the report, whether the electricity used will be stored in a battery or generated in a fuel cell using hydrogen.

  • Liquid and gaseous biofuels are other priority candidates for oil substitution in the long term strategy, within the time horizon of 2050. They are primarily needed in those sectors where no alternatives exist, such as aviation, parts of maritime transport, and long-distance freight transport. Fungibility of biofuels would be of advantage for their long-term market expansion.

    The option of alternative biofuels blending standards should be compared with fungible biofuels, both for liquid and gaseous pathways, with fully flexible blending ratios between fossil and biomass based products in order to allow a smooth transition in the fuel mix and to keep and valorize the achievements of internal combustion engine technology.

  • Any decision to expand the use of biofuels should take into account the impact on life-cycle GHG emissions and biodiversity. The sustainability safeguards for biofuels should be reviewed to prevent i.a. unwanted effects on indirect land use change.

  • Bioethanol expansion would need additional standards for higher blending ratios, going from E5 to E10 in 2011 and then possibly to E20. Before introducing higher blends into the market, their compatibility with vehicle and infrastructure technologies needs to be ensured. The 2020 RED target could be supported by a wider deployment of flex-fuel vehicles using E85 blends. Blending potential and associated costs should be analysed.

  • Expansion of diesel alternatives can be supported by blending paraffinic fuels (HVO, GTL, BTL) that are fully fungible with existing vehicle technology and distribution infrastructures in any blending ratios.

  • The technical and economic complications of several different biofuel blending standards for fuel supply infrastructure and vehicle technology need to be assessed against the option of fully fungible (synthetic) biofuels complying with one single standard.

  • There should be clear and stable guidelines on the injection of bio-methane into the grid, including possible favorable tax treatment supporting market build-up. This can balance regional differences in biogas production and natural gas consumption by vehicles, and avoid double investment into a parallel bio-methane distribution network.

  • The approach with tailored fuels versus a multi-segment approach should be analysed in depth. R&D activities and a possible pilot project could be proposed for adequate testing of these technologies.

All these principal alternative fuel candidates can be produced from low-carbon technologies. Substitution of oil in transport by them leads inherently to a decarbonization of transport if the energy system is decarbonized. Life-cycle aspects have to be included in this assessment.

Decarbonisation of transport and decarbonization of the energy system can therefore be considered as two complementary strategic lines. They are closely related, but can be decoupled and require different technical approaches. Decarbonisation of the energy carriers used in transport should progress at least with the rate of their introduction into the transport fuel mix. However, the decarbonization of the two systems needs to be undertaken in a complementary manner in order to ensure that approaches are consistent.

—Future Transport Fuels

Specific to on-road transport, the expert group said that he following issues should be considered:

  • Urban transport can be powered by several alternative fuel options, namely electricity (battery electric small vehicles or electric trolleys) and hydrogen; also by biofuel blends, neat synthetic fuels or paraffinic, methane or LPG. Possible risks of market fragmentation and resulting limitations in economies of scale in case of competition between the two fuels need to be clarified.

  • Medium-distance transport could be covered by synthetic or paraffinic fuels, hydrogen, biofuel blends and methane. For methane, a gas grid already exists. Possible competition also needs to be clarified, as hydrogen and methane require the build-up of new dedicated infrastructure. Methane gas vehicles are mature technology where as hydrogen driven engines have to be further developed.

  • Long distance transport can be supplied by biofuels or synthetic or paraffinic fuels, for freight possibly also by liquefied methane gas (LNG, LBG or LPG).

  • In all cases (urban, medium and long-distance), there will continue to be a significant role to play for the internal combustion engine and advancements in ICE technology can be expected and certainly not disregarded in future scenarios.

  • Railways and urban rail systems can further contribute to decarbonizing transport, since power generation is on a path of decarbonization through the EU ETS and renewable energy targets. Additional electrification should be undertaken. For those few lines where electrification is not feasible or economically viable, engine technology from heavy duty road vehicles could be adapted for rail. Possible standards for diesel engines and potential use of biofuels, and possibly LNG should be explored.

Source: Green Car Congress

Hybrid Drives Make City Buses Cleaner

City Bus Equipped With Siemens Elfa Drive System

City buses equipped with the new Siemens drive system Elfa, a combination of a diesel engine and electric motors, consume one-third less fuel than conventional buses. Rather than powering the rear axle via an automatic transmission, as usually, the diesel engine in the Elfa system drives a generator that uses power electronics to supply electricity to one or more drive motors.

Around half of all local public transit trips in Germany are by bus. Like other heavy vehicles, however, buses are loud and produce emissions that are harmful to humans and the climate. The long-term solution is to use an all-electric drive. The problem is that today’s battery technology is relatively expensive. Although in China, for example, there are already several buses powered by innovative lithium ion batteries. City buses make frequent stops for traffic lights and passengers, so they are well suited for use with a hybrid drive. This system marks an intermediate step on the road toward zero-emission buses powered either by batteries alone or a combination of batteries and a fuel cell system.

In the Elfa system from Siemens, the electric motors act as generators during braking and thus feed electricity back into the batteries. This power can then be subsequently used to drive the vehicle, which means at times the bus can run fully electrically and without producing any emissions. The vehicle range depends on battery capacity and can vary between a few hundred meters and several kilometers.

In combination with a clever power management system, Elfa not only reduces fuel consumption but also noise, since the diesel engine doesn’t provide acceleration and therefore operates only at quiet and economical engine speeds. As a result, fuel consumption falls by around one-third. On the basis of 60,000 kilometers a year, that corresponds to savings of around 10,000 liters of diesel, depending on the type of route driven.

Buses with Elfa drives are now being used in a number of cities worldwide, including a test fleet of double-deckers in London. Hamburg, meanwhile, is planning to introduce buses with an Elfa hybrid drive equipped with a fuel cell system rather than a diesel engine. This new drive technology is also ideal for other commercial vehicles that make frequent stops, such as garbage trucks or light delivery trucks. The Elfa system forms part of the Siemens environmental portfolio, which generated around €28 billion in sales for the company in fiscal year 2010.

Source: Siemens

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Felix Kramer From Describes a Household With Two New OEM Electric Vehicles


Since we got our Volt on Dec. 22 and our Leaf
Jan. 24, I've felt like we've taken a time
machine to the future. Since as the Founder of I've been doing little else but talk
and evangelize about this for a decade, I thought
I'd be ready for this moment. But now that it's
really here, it's far better than I ever imagined!

Each car is like a 21st century space capsule,
gliding silently through streets clogged with
last-century vehicles. I was never so aware of
the unique and ugly sounds from each gas-guzzler.
At stop lights I even feel their low-frequency
vibrations. As a driver of a Prius since 2004,
which 60,000 miles ago in 2006 was converted to a
plug-in hybrid, and as an occasional driver of a
RAV4 EV or a Tesla Roadster, I've had glimpses of
how this feels. But it's completely different to
drive this way almost all the time!

Each car greets the driver with fun as its first
feature. The instant torque of electric motors
turns each of them into rocketships at low
speeds, and easy lane-changers on the highway.

The driver's seat of the Volt feels like an
airplane cockpit. It's a little intimidating at
first, but reassuring after a few minutes of
studying the controls and displays -- or just
ignoring some for a while. The Leaf has a spare
quality, and the simpler right-side panel is all about audio and climate.

Each car offers subtle clues about its
fundamental character. The Volt puts a whole car
between the front left electric door and the rear
right gasoline door. Inside, the button to flip
open the electric door stands out while I have to
work to reach the gas-door release, giving the
message, "You're not going to be using this very
often." The Leaf's charging ports are under a
giant door right in the center of the car's nose:
"There's nothing going on in here but electricity."

Both cars have slipped up some on what's called
"computer-human interface." We wish they'd
listened to suggestions to put prototypes in the
hands of Silicon Valley's usability experts last
summer. For instance, the charging signals. Plug
in the Volt and the indicator turns yellow
(connected), then steady green (charging).
Finally it flashes green (done). That's exactly
the reverse of a user's expectations. The Leaf,
with a longer charge time, starts out well, with
three indicators that illuminate in succession as
the car reaches its charge. But 15 minutes after
it's full, all the blue lights go off. My first
morning, when I greeted the plugged-in car, I
wondered, "what happened?" Both MyLink and
MyLeaf, the phone apps that enable me to monitor
and control charging and many other activities,
need major overhauls and quicker refresh. (Since
the Nissan app doesn't make Leaf all-caps, I've
got permission to stop doing so….)

Each car's manual is full of important
information -- far more than I got even in the
superb orientations from Novato Chevy's Terry
McCarter and North Bay Nissan's Victor Maldonado.
But each is daunting, and, unsurprisingly,
written defensively and sometimes in legalese. I
downloaded them from\

. Alas, for a spare copy, pages designed to fit
in a glove compartment don't print well on
letter-sized paper. And while the Volt's Index
listings are live links; the Leaf's aren't,
though once I got inside its chapters I could
click to navigate. Nissan and GM may be watching
Hyundai, which turned its Equus manual into a
downloadable App -- and included an IPad with the car.

We all know both cars will get better soon. All
carmakers will learn from each other. (The savvy
ones aren't relying on their customer service
operations, but have budgeted for large teams to
track down and analyze the tens of thousands of
comments and suggestions strewn around online.)
The automakers can quickly update some software
features. One reason we leased the Volt instead
of buying it is our expectation for future
hardware improvements in Version 2. The Volt's
big challenge is making the car a five-seater.
Tomorrow, Nissan could promise to supply every
Leaf with rear headrests that lower to the level
of the top of the back seats. That will vastly
improve the half-blocked rear window visibility.
(We remove them and replace them when we have rear passengers.)

Rochelle's first comment was, "Hey, I love these
cars!" (She and our son Josh, both shown at the "Plug-Ins Arrive" page, have been
stalwart supporters.) She wishes both carmakers
had personalized the mirrors so she doesn't have
to reset them every time she gets in after I've
driven it. Otherwise, she's happy to just be able
to get into each vehicle, push the on-button and
drive it like any other car. She says it was a
bigger adjustment to switch from a 1997 Camry to
a 2007 Camry Hybrid than from that car to the
Volt. She appreciates the rear cameras,
especially important now that most
safety-conscious cars come with thick side pillars.

Finally, the hard numbers. Our Leaf experience
began with a fair test with an EPA-assigned
73-mile range: from the dealer in Petaluma to
Redwood City. Driving at 65 MPH the whole way and
not bothering to detour around the steep hill in
San Francisco between the Golden Gate Bridge and
US 101 (which cost about 4 miles of range), we
finished a 74-mile trip comfortably with 14 miles
to spare. The Leaf is reassuringly predictable:
with 80-100 miles of juice, most of the time, we
don't think about range; we just drive around and
charge it at night. With 163 miles in four days,
it may become our first-to-use car, with the Volt
reserved for times we both drive and for distances.

The Volt is a more dramatic story. In 37 days,
we've driven 2,281.0 miles and used 33.4 gallons.
Does an average of 68.1 MPG sound disappointing?
Not to us -- because it includes two round-trips
to Lake Tahoe. Until now, no one could drive a
plug-in car that route without refueling along
the way: 225 miles including 8,000 feet of Sierra
elevations. (Read about that record-setting first
trip and see photos at .)

Here are details on the two Tahoe expeditions:
First: 225.7 miles, 6.31 gallons at 35.8 MPG up,
and 221.5 miles, 4.36 gallons at 50.8 MPG down.
Second: 244.0 miles, 6.37 gallons at 38.1 MPG up,
and 242.9 miles, 4.56 gallons at 53.2MPG down.
(The second time we more than confirmed the
numbers. We don't know why we got better results
even on a longer route with an additional passenger and more cargo.)

We started each of the four drives with a full
battery (boosting our average), then had major
uphill drives (reducing MPG). The combined
43.2MPG is about what a second- or
third-generation Prius gets on that route. (We
expect the Gen2 Volt will improve its
long-distance "charge-depleted" driving
performance, which wasn't the top priority in
GM's four-year push to meet the Volt's promised
delivery date.) This proves a PHEV's best selling
point: this one car can drive all-electric most
of the time at its base location, then go any
distance worry-free with good fuel economy, and
again drive entirely electrically at its destination.

We've reached a sweet moment. Since 2005, CalCars
has been trumpeting that plug-in hybrids (and
extended range electric vehicles) get100+ MPG of
gasoline (plus a penny a mile of electricity). GM
didn't squawk when the Volt sticker said its MPG
when using gasoline and electricity would range
from 69-168 MPG for 30-75 mile trips. Now our
real-world Volt experience confirms both our
experience with conversions and our predictions
for production vehicles. Many of our Bay Area
trips in the Volt have exceeded the car's typical
35-40 mile all-electric range -- and we've used
our portable charging connector at a destination
only once. When we subtract out the two long
trips, our local 1,346.9 miles on 11.8 gallons
were at 114.1 MPG. (And CalCars colleague Ron
Gremban driving his Volt Lynne McAllister showed
205 MPG after their first 468 miles, mostly in
Marin County.) As they say, QED -- point proven!

Stay tuned for more specifics and comparisons in the future.

GM Technical Manager Shares Plug In Challenges For Volt

Chevy Volt On Display at its Manufacturing Facility

During his presentation on challenges for battery development for an extended range electric vehicle to the AABC event in Pasadena this past week, Roland Matthé, GM’s technical manager for the Voltec Battery System, as an aside touched on another challenge: finding an appropriate plug.

I noticed [a charging outlet] was quite hard for me to find for the Volt here in Pasadena, finally I found one in the Hilton Hotel. There was a Magna charge unit...with dust on...but was operational. The Magna charge unit is a...paddle for the EV1...and I found the DC connection, which Ford I think used in the 90s and the French vehicle used. And finally I found a normal US plug, and so luckily my car is charged every night.

If I wouldn’t have found it, it wouldn’t have mattered, I still have the range extender.

—Roland Matthé

Saturday, January 29, 2011

New BMW 2.0-liter Turbocharged Four-Cylinder For US Offers Performance of a Six

This is a very impressive engine from BMW considering the performance they have extracted from four cylinders. Wouldn't it be nice to see the automakers put forth as much time, effort, expertise and finances towards alternate energy modes of propulsion?

Press Release:

Woodcliff Lake, NJ – January 28, 2011… BMW announced the return of a four-cylinder engine to the US BMW line-up for the first time in since 1999. Like the company’s latest 3.0-liter turbo inline six, the new 2.0-liter engine will combine twin-scroll turbocharging with high-pressure direct-injection and BMW’s VALVETRONIC intake control. With 240 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, it offers more power and torque than BMW’s normally aspirated 3.0-liter inline six. It will arrive later in 2011.

Maximum output of 240 horsepower is achieved at 5,000 rpm, 1,500 rpm lower than in the normally-aspirated 3.0-liter inline six. The peak torque of 260 lb-ft, comes on stream at just 1,250 rpm. Not only is that 30% more torque than the aforementioned inline six, it also peaks 1,500 rpm earlier. The vigorous power comes on early and climbs steadily all the way to redline.

The four-cylinder engine with its all-aluminum crankcase is lighter and more compact than a six-cylinder engine of equivalent power. The turbocharger is a twin-scroll system. The exhaust streams leaving the two pairs of cylinders are kept completely separate as they flow through the exhaust manifold and the turbocharger, taking a spiral path to the turbine wheel. This configuration results in very low exhaust back pressure at low engine rpm, and allows the energy of the exhaust gas pulses to be optimally managed and translated into powerful rotation of the turbine blades, without a delay in throttle response.

The patented BMW VALVETRONIC system with seamlessly variable intake valve lift control dispenses with the throttle valve system typical of conventional engines. Instead, combustion air mass is controlled inside the engine, resulting in much faster response. Pumping losses are kept to a minimum, making the engine more efficient.

The High Precision Injection direct-injection system also helps to improve efficiency. Centrally positioned between the valves, solenoid injectors with a maximum injection pressure of 200 bar (2,900 psi) precisely control the supply of fuel. The fuel is injected very close to the spark plug, resulting in clean and homogeneous combustion.

The cooling effect of the injected fuel also allows for a higher compression ratio than might otherwise be possible. This results in further efficiency improvements.

US-specific model and timing information will follow at a later date, but this new chapter in the story of BMW EfficientDynamics will arrive later this year.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Zipcar Announces Program with Toyota to Launch Multi-City Introduction of Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles (PHVs)

Zipcar Prius Plug-In Hybrid Vehicle

New Program Designed to Further Test and Evaluate How PHVs and EVs Can Lead to Sustainable Networked Transportation Systems

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Jan. 27, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Zipcar, Inc., the world's leading car sharing service, today announced the introduction of eight Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles (PHVs) into the Zipcar network, in an effort to further test and evaluate plug-in hybrid technology and gain increased intelligence on how electric vehicles (EVs) can fit into a large-scale car-sharing model. The Prius PHVs are now available to Zipcar members in Boston/Cambridge, San Francisco and Portland, Oregon.

The new vehicles are part of a pilot program with Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. to demonstrate plug-in hybrid technology, evaluate the performance of the vehicles and help to educate and prepare the public for the electrification of the automobile. The Toyota Prius PHVs, which will become commercially available in 2012, are eight of approximately 160 being distributed by Toyota nationwide.

Zipcar currently offers three of the vehicles in Cambridge/Boston; one located at the Albany Street Garage on the campus of MIT, one at 33 Arch Street in downtown Boston and one at the Prudential Center. San Francisco members have access to three of the Prius PHV vehicles, which join a converted plug-in Prius already in the fleet. One of the vehicles is housed in front of City Hall, one is located in North Point/Fisherman's Wharf and the third is located in Union Square. Two vehicles are also available in Portland, one at the Portland State University Parking Garage and one at Shaver Green. The eight Prius PHVs will be available to Zipcar members in Boston/Cambridge, San Francisco and Portland for reservation throughout 2011.

"As the operator of the largest connected vehicle network in the world, Zipcar is committed to taking a thoughtful and deliberate approach to EVs. Given Toyota's long standing commitment to hybrid and plug-in vehicle technologies, they are an ideal partner for this project. We are dedicated to embracing cutting-edge vehicle technology in a strategic way, and in a way that meets the standards of large scale, multi-city, multi-country car sharing," said Scott Griffith, Chairman and CEO of Zipcar. "Zipcar is an ideal test bed for early consumer acceptance of EVs. This project will allow companies to receive direct feedback from thousands of consumers in three cities and help evaluate how EVs fit into a large-scale car sharing model."

The Prius PHV is powered by lithium-ion batteries and can be charged from a standard 110-volt outlet. The vehicle, which takes up to three hours to charge, can travel on electric-only power at speeds of up to 62 mph for approximately 13 miles, after which it shifts to operate as a conventional Prius hybrid, averaging an estimated 50 miles per gallon. This makes the PHV model ideal for car sharing, as members are assured that the car can go the distance, no matter the charge when they pick it up. Because many trips taken by Zipcar members are fewer than 13 miles, many PHV trips will be emission-free. With the Prius PHV, Zipcar members can rely on the electric charge for shorter trips, but rest assured they have back-up for longer road trips or for use between charges.

"The PHV demonstration program is designed to gather real-world driving data and customer feedback on plug-in hybrid technology, and we're excited to be working with Zipcar to further test how this technology could have even greater environmental impact by fitting into the car sharing model," said Mary Nickerson, national manager, advanced technology vehicles, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. "This program will help us to educate and inform the public on plug-in hybrid technology, evaluate the performance of the vehicle under different driving conditions and better understand the benefits to future customers."

Zipcar has been a pioneer in using advanced vehicle technologies, being the first car sharing company in the United States to introduce electric vehicles into its fleet with the launch of Toyota RAV4 EVs in Boston in 2002, and the first to offer hybrid vehicles with the launch of hybrid vehicles in Seattle in 2003. Zipcar currently offers converted plug-in hybrids in San Francisco and pure EV models in the London market. Today, Zipcar offers over 1,000 hybrid vehicles available internationally, representing 15-20% of the company's entire fleet.

About Zipcar

Zipcar is the world's leading car-sharing service with more than 530,000 members and 8,000 vehicles in urban areas and college campuses throughout the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Zipcar offers more than 30 makes and models of self-service vehicles by the hour or day to residents and businesses looking for an alternative to the high costs and hassles of owning a car. More information is available at

Zipcar and the Zipcar logo are trademarks of Zipcar, Inc.

About Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc. is the marketing, sales, distribution and customer service arm of Toyota, Lexus and Scion. Established in 1957, TMS markets products and services through a network of nearly 1,500 Toyota, Lexus and Scion dealers that sold more than 1.77 million vehicles in 2009. Toyota directly employs nearly 30,000 people in the U.S. and its investment here is currently valued at more than $18 billion. For more information about Toyota, visit,, or

Ford's Goal To Match Fuel Efficiency of VW Bluemotion Vehicles

2011 Ford Fiesta SES shown
2011 Ford Fiesta SES – Click above for high-res image gallery

Volkswagen's Bluemotion range of vehicles features numerous eco tweaks applied to enhance fuel economy. The umbrella term "Bluemotion Technology," which is seen in the branding of the Golf Blue-e-motion Bluemotion Passat and more, is VW speak for vehicles that "combine efficiency with comfort and refinement to create cars that deliver greater economy and fewer emissions, yet which remain conventional to drive, service and maintain." Many Bluemotion vehicles stand out among the pack due to their best-in-class fuel economy figures.

One company's best-in-class is another company's target, so it's no surprise that Ford has announced that it intends to develop vehicles that match the fuel-sipping abilities of the Bluemotion lineup. According to Ford's global product boss, Derek Kuzak, the key to achieving frugality is attention to every last detail. Ford will focus on reducing vehicle weight, lowering rolling resistance, improving aerodynamics and tweaking engines in an attempt to match VW's ultra-efficient Bluemotion vehicles such as the Polo, a car that features a 1.2-liter engine, stop-start technology and regenerative braking. The VW Polo Bluemotion emits a mere 87 grams per kilometer of CO2 and returns an astounding 85.6 miles per gallon (71.3 mpg U.S.). Let's see Ford match that!

Source: Autoblog Green

Thursday, January 27, 2011

GM Announces Rollout Plans and Availability For the Chevrolet Volt

Today at the Washington auto show GM announced information many people around the country have been waiting for.

Up to this point, the Volt has only been available for order in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, California, Texas, Michigan,and Washington DC.

Since last December, cars have begun to be delivered in the Washington D.C. area, as well as California, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Texas.

It was announced today that deliveries will begin in Michigan this Spring.

More importantly, GM announced that beginning in the second quarter of this year customers will be able to order Volts from participating dealers nationwide.

Deliveries will begin in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii in the third quarter.

During the fourth quarter GM expects to have started Volt deliveries in all 50 states.

This announcement represents and acceleration of the initial rollout plan such that all 50 states will start getting Volts by the end of this year, a mere 12 months from the launch date. Initially it was expected the rollout could take 18 months.

“We’re accelerating our launch plan to have Volts in all participating Chevrolet dealerships in every single state in the union by the end of this year,” said Rick Scheidt, U.S. vice president, Chevrolet Marketing. “This is the right thing to do for our customers and our dealers who are seeing increased traffic onto their showroom floors.”

Get your wallets ready. Game on.


Smart USA Delivers First ForTwo Electric Vehicle in the US

Smart ForTwo EV

smart USA Distributor LLC, a subsidiary of Penske Automotive Group, Inc., delivered the first smart fortwo electric drive to a retail customer in the United States.

The smart fortwo electric drive is powered by a 30 kW magneto-electric motor and 16.5 kWh lithium-ion battery. According to the US EPA LA4 test cycle, the smart fortwo electric drive can travel up to 98 miles (158 km) on a full charge. In combined city and highway driving, the US EPA estimates the range on the smart fortwo electric drive to be 63 miles (101 km). Using a 220 volt outlet, it takes three and a half hours to charge the battery from 20 to 80% of its capacity and about eight hours to reach full charge from a depleted battery.

This year, smart USA is placing 250 smart fortwo electric drive vehicles across the United States with selected companies, municipalities, organizations and individuals. Series production on next-generation vehicles for retail sale through smart USA’s dealer network is expected in 2012.

The first member of smart’s Team 250 is Mindy Kimball, a 36-year-old early adopter of electric vehicle technology and a Major in the United States Army.

Source: Green Car Congress

Obama and Biden Outline Administration's Plan to Have 1M Advanced Technology Vehicles on US Roads by 2015

In his State of the Union address last night, President Obama highlighted his goal of making the United States the first country in the world to put one million advanced technology vehicles on the road by 2015. Following a tour of the Ener1, Inc. factory today, Vice President Biden outlined the Administration’s new plan for reaching that goal.

The Administration’s new three-part advanced technology vehicle plan—to be proposed in the new Budget—will include supporting electric vehicle manufacturing and adoption in the US through generous new consumer rebates; investments in R&D; and a new competitive program to encourage communities to invest in electric vehicle infrastructure.

  • Rebates. The President is proposing to transform the existing $7,500 tax credit for electric vehicles into a rebate that will be available to all consumers immediately at the point of sale, similar to “Cash for Clunkers”. The current individual credit will be reformed into a tax credit claimable by dealers or financers with clear transparency requirements to ensure the benefit of the credit is passed on to consumers.

  • R&D. Building on Recovery Act investments, the President’s Budget proposes enhanced R&D investments in electric drive, batteries, and energy storage technologies. This year’s Budget will significantly broaden R&D investments in technologies like batteries and electric drives—including a more than 30% increase in support for vehicle technology R&D and a new Energy Innovation Hub devoted to improving batteries and energy storage for vehicles and beyond.

  • Infrastructure. The President is proposing a new initiative that will provide grants of up to $10 million each to up to 30 communities that are prioritizing advanced technology vehicle deployment.

The President’s Budget proposes expanding funding for vehicle technologies by almost 90% to nearly $590 million and enhancing existing tax incentives. The Recovery Act already included $2.4 billion in spending for battery and electric drive component manufacturing, and for electric drive demonstration and infrastructure.

Supported by Recovery Act investments, battery costs are projected to drop by 50% by 2013 or 2015. US-based manufacturers will be able to produce enough batteries and components to support 500,000 plug-in and hybrid vehicles by 2015, according to the Administration. The Recovery Act is also supporting the deployment of infrastructure for advanced technology vehicles.

Also, the US GSA is preparing an initial purchase of 100 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles that are anticipated to be delivered in 2011 together with more than 40,000 alternative-fueled and fuel-efficient vehicles that will replace aging and less-efficient sedans, trucks, tankers, and wreckers for Federal agencies across the country.

Source: Green Car Congress

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

GM Ventures Makes Strategic Investment in Envia Systems

Press Release

  • Leads an equity investment round of $17 million
  • Early testing of Envia’s composite cathode material shows improvement in energy density of lithium-ion cells by up to one-third for more capable and affordable electrically driven vehicles of the future

DETROIT -- General Motors Ventures LLC invested $7 million in Newark, Calif.-based Envia Systems to provide GM’s battery engineering team with access to advanced lithium-ion cathode technology that delivers higher cell energy density and lower cost. In a separate agreement, GM has secured the right to use Envia’s advanced cathode material for future GM electrically driven vehicles.

“Skeptics have suggested it would probably be many years before lithium-ion batteries with significantly lower cost and higher capability are available, potentially limiting sales of electric vehicles for the foreseeable future,” said Jon Lauckner, president of GM Ventures. “In fact, our announcement today demonstrates that major improvements are already on the horizon.”

Other participating investors in Envia are Asahi Kasei and Asahi Glass; as well as current investors Bay Partners, Redpoint and Panagea Ventures. The funding of the investor group totaled $17 million.

“With our high-capacity manganese rich cathode material, Envia is addressing two key issues in the next-generation battery cells – higher capability and lower cost,” said Atul Kapadia, founding investor, chairman and CEO of Envia Systems. “The investments announced today from GM and the two new strategic investors, demonstrate the excitement around our technology, as well as the importance of the challenge.

“We believe our battery materials have taken the technology lead that will help lower price points and unlock the market potential for our customers,” Kapadia said. “With our technology and products, we believe that Envia is best-positioned to win a significant portion of this very large battery materials market.”

Envia’s advanced cathode technology uses inexpensive materials that store more energy per unit of mass than current cathode materials. Since the cathode is a key driver for the overall battery cost, the more energy the cathode delivers, the lower the battery cost because fewer cells are needed.

“Our test results on small-format cells show that Envia’s high-capacity composite cathode material can increase the energy density of lithium-ion cells by up to one-third, at an equivalent level of reliability, safety and durability,” said Micky Bly, GM executive director for Electrical and Battery Systems. “We estimate this improvement in cell energy density and less expensive material will drive a substantial reduction in cell cost, leading to lower cost battery packs like the one in the Chevy Volt.” Envia’s cathode technology also will offer benefits for other devices and applications where low-cost, high-energy density storage solutions are needed.”

Said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu: “Today we are once again seeing the benefits for the American people that come with federal investments in science and innovation. With this new agreement, a battery technology, originally developed at the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, is making its way into the market. By supporting American innovation, commercialization and manufacturing, this partnership is helping to boost U.S. competitiveness and create the jobs of the future.”

Editor’s Note: GM Ventures LLC and Envia Systems will hold a media conference call at 2 p.m. ET today (1/26/2011) to discuss the importance of GM’s investment in Envia and how Envia’s technology could play a role in GM’s next-generation vehicle battery systems.

The call will be hosted by Jon Lauckner, President of GM Ventures who will be joined by:

  • Atul Kapadia, Founding Investor, Chairman and CEO – Envia Systems
  • Micky Bly, GM Executive Director – Global Electrical Systems, Hybrids, Electric Vehicles and Batteries

Teleconference Dial-In Number(s):

United States: (800) 401-8436
International: (612) 332-0342

No Passcodes Required

A replay of the call will be available after 4 p.m. ET on 1/26/2011:

(USA) (800) 475-6701
(International) (320) 365-3844
Access Code: 190717

About General Motors General Motors Company (NYSE: GM, TSX: GMM), one of the world’s largest automakers, traces its roots back to 1908. With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 209,000 people in every major region of the world and does business in more than 120 countries. GM and its strategic partners produce cars and trucks in 31 countries, and sell and service these vehicles through the following brands: Baojun, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, GM Daewoo, Holden, Isuzu, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall, and Wuling. GM’s largest national market is China, followed by the United States, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Italy, Russia, Mexico, and Uzbekistan. GM’s OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. General Motors acquired operations from General Motors Corporation on July 10, 2009, and references to prior periods in this and other press materials refer to operations of the old General Motors Corporation. More information on the new General Motors can be found at

About Envia Systems: Envia Systems is a technology leader in high performance, low cost Lithium Ion energy storage solutions. Based in Newark, California, Envia’s patented cathode technology enables its batteries to deliver previously unattainable levels of energy capacity, safety and life. These systems will be used by manufacturers developing Electric Vehicles and Plug‐in Hybrid Electric Vehicles. For more information, please visit

More Winter Driving Electric Range Statistics For the Chevy Volt

A Chevy Volt Makes Its Way Down Production Line

I have been driving a Chevy Volt since November 11, 2010, covering over 4200 miles so far. Almost all of this driving has been in winter conditions. I logged my first 2352 miles here to get a feel for the vehicle’s overall efficiency, which effectively settled in at 129 miles per gallon.

For the entire month of January I have recorded my daily EV range compared against ambient temperature, driving style, road consitions, and HVAC cabin energy use. I started each day with a fully charged battery and my trip was 30 miles one-way. I did not pre-condition the cabin and 90% of the drive was at highway speeds over 65 mph, using Normal mode acceleration and L-position motor braking.

The data is presented below:

Date Temperature (F) Driving Efficiency Cabin Efficiency EV Range Notes
12/30 30 66% 13% 27
1/2 28 64% 15% 25.6
1/5 36 69% 18% 24.7
1/6 28 73% 12% 25.6
1/7 32 66% 15% 23.4 snowing
1/10 33 60% 45% 25.6
1/17 22 68% 12% 26.4
1/18 32 66% 16% 22.8 slippery ice
1/19 38 83% 28% 27.9
1/20 34 89% 32% 31.2 72 eco
1/21 29 79% 21% 27.2 icy
1/24 8 68% 6% 26.6 0.1gal used
due to temp

You will notice the columns called driving and cabin efficiency. The higher the number the more efficient. These were obtained from the dashboard display at the point the gas engine went on. It is posible to achieve 100% driving efficiency if one stays below 50 mph and is very careful to avoid accelerating and braking hard, trying to coast as much as possible, something I did not achieve in my particular commuting cycle.

The cabin efficiency reaches 100% if no HVAC is used, the lower the number the more aggressive the HVAC settings.

Over this period my average EV range was 26.2 miles with an average driving efficiency of 71% and cabin efficiency of 19.4%. The average temperature was 29.2 degrees. EV range appeared further reduced when the roads were slippery from snow and/or ice.

My greatest range was 31.2 miles at 89% diving and 32% cabin efficiency, and the lowest range of 22.8 miles occurred at 66% driving and 16% cabin efficiency.


Nissan Expects To Reach Full Leaf EV Output Speed by March

Nissan Motor Co said on Tuesday it would add overtime and holidays at one if its Japanese factories towards the end of the business year in March to bring production of the Leaf electric car up to full speed.

Japan's second-biggest automaker has gradually ramped up output of its first mass-marketed zero-emission car since it starting building the Leaf in late October, completing about 3,000 units to date.

By March, the pace of production will rise to full capacity of about 4,000 Leafs a month at the Oppama factory, south of Tokyo, putting Nissan on track to hit a target of producing a total 10,000 units by the end of March, a Nissan official said.

"We'll build more Leafs in the next two months and add overtime and holidays to keep up with production of the other vehicles on the line," said Seiji Honda, head of the Oppama factory, noting that car demand typically ticks up at the end of Japan's fiscal year in March.

Nissan, along with partner Renault SA, wants to lead the auto industry in the field of battery-run electric vehicles, and delivered its first electric vehicle (EV), the Leaf, to customers in Japan and the United States last month.

Until production starts at its Tennessee and Sunderland factories in 2012 and 2013, respectively, Nissan will supply the car from Oppama.

On Tuesday, Nissan invited journalists to tour the 430,000-units-a-year Oppama plant, where the Leaf hatchback is assembled on a mixed line alongside gasoline-engine models such as the Juke, Cube and Note.

With battery packs and electric motors waiting on the side of the trim and assembly lines instead of fuel tanks and engines, the Leaf's frames flowed seamlessly on conveyor belts between those of the Juke crossover and Cube minivan.

The battery modules and other EV-specific parts are put together in a separate "sub-line".

"Right now, about one in every seven cars is a Leaf, and we'll start building more until we reach maximum capacity in March," Honda said.

Nissan has taken orders for 6,000 Leafs in Japan and 20,000 in the United States so far, closing reservations for the time being. It sold the first Leafs in Portugal this month and will begin deliveries in select European markets in the coming months.

Source: Reuters

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Maryland, DOE and Daimler Trucks North America begin deployment of 143 heavy-duty hybrid electric and hybrid hydraulic trucks

The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) with the US Department of Energy (DOE) and Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) has launched the deployment of 143 heavy-duty Freightliner hybrid electric and Freightliner Custom Chassis hybrid hydraulic trucks under the Maryland Hybrid Truck Initiative (MHTI).

MHTI is utilizing $5.9 million in grant funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through the DOE to help offset the incremental cost to purchase and deploy these heavy-duty hybrid trucks that are designed to meet the operational demands of local goods movement.

The official announcement was made at a ribbon-cutting celebration commemorating the first wheels-on-the-ground funded by MHTI at the Nestle Waters North America Deer Park facility in Baltimore.

MHTI is made possible through the creation of a public-private partnership led by the DOE and its Clean Cities program, together with the MEA and DTNA. Five dedicated partner fleets—ARAMARK, United Parcel Service, Nestle Waters of North America, Sysco Corporation, and Efficiency Enterprises—were selected to participate in the initiative based on their demonstrated record of implementing large-scale truck deployments and commitment to advanced clean vehicle technology development.

These five partner fleets are the combined recipients of the 143 heavy-duty hybrid trucks and have centered their deployments in Maryland and other clusters nationwide to maximize the impact of mechanic training on hybrid repair, service, and deployment.

Source: Green Car Congress

Volkswagen Staging World Debut of its XL1 Diesel Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) Prototype at Qatar Motor Show

The XL1 prototype PHEV. Click to enlarge.

Volkswagen is staging the world debut of its XL1 diesel plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) prototype at the Qatar Motor Show this week. The prototype, representing the third evolutionary stage of Volkswagen’s 1-liter car strategy, features combined fuel consumption of 0.9 L/100 km (261 mpg US), according to VW.

The new Volkswagen XL1 attains a CO2 emissions value of 24 g/km, due to a combination of lightweight construction (monocoque and add-on parts made of carbon fibre), very low aerodynamic drag (Cd 0.186) and a plug-in hybrid system consisting of a 0.8L two-cylinder TDI engine (35 kW / 47 hp), E-motor (20 kW / 27 hp), 7-speed dual-clutch transmission (DSG) and lithium-ion battery. The XL1 prototype has an all-electric range of up to 35 kilometers (22 miles); total range is approx. 550 km (342 miles) with a 10 liter fuel tank.

Hybrid system. The entire hybrid unit is housed above the vehicle’s driven rear axle. The actual hybrid module with electric motor and clutch is positioned between the TDI and the 7-speed DSG; this module was integrated in the DSG transmission case in place of the usual flywheel.

The high voltage energy flow from and to the battery or E-motor is managed by the power electronics, which operates at 220 Volts. The XL1’s body electrical system is supplied with the necessary 12 Volts through a DC/DC converter.

The E-motor supports the engine in acceleration (boosting), and can also power the XL1 prototype on its own for a distance of up to 35 km (22 miles). In this mode, the TDI is decoupled from the drivetrain by disengaging a clutch, and it is shut down. Meanwhile, the clutch on the gearbox side remains closed, so the DSG is fully engaged with the electric motor.

The driver can choose to drive the XL1 in pure electric mode (provided that the battery is sufficiently charged). As soon as the electric mode button on the instrument panel is pressed, the car is propelled exclusively by electrical power. Restarting of the TDI uses “pulse starting”: while driving, the electric motor’s rotor is sped up and is very quickly coupled to the engine clutch. This accelerates the TDI to the required speed and starts it.

When the XL1 is braked, the E-motor operates as a generator that utilizes the braking energy to charge the battery (battery regeneration). In certain operating conditions the load shared between the TDI engine and the electric motor can be shifted so that the turbodiesel is operating at its most favorable efficiency level.

The gears of the automatically shifting 7-speed DSG are also always selected with the aim of minimizing energy usage. The engine controller regulates all energy flow and drive management tasks, taking into account the power demanded at any given moment by the driver. Some of the parameters used to realize the optimum propulsion mode for the given conditions are accelerator pedal position and engine load, as well as the energy supply and mix of kinetic and electrical energy at any given time.

The 0.8-liter TDI was derived from the 1.6 liter TDI, which drives such cars as the Golf and Passat. The 0.8 TDI exhibits the same data as the 1.6-liter TDI common rail engine in terms of cylinder spacing (88 mm), cylinder bore (79.5 mm) and stroke (80.5 mm). In addition, the XL1’s two-cylinder and the mass produced four cylinder share key internal engine features for reducing emissions. These include special piston recesses for multiple injection and individual orientation of the individual injection jets.

The TDI’s aluminium crankcase was constructed to achieve high rigidity and precision, which in turn leads to very low friction losses. With the goal of reducing emissions, exhaust gas recirculation and an oxidation catalytic converter as well as a diesel particulate filter are used. Equipped in this way, the 0.8 TDI already fulfils the limits of the Euro-6 emissions standard.

Also designed for efficiency is the vehicle’s cooling system. Engine management only cools the TDI by activating an externally driven electric water pump when engine operating conditions require it. This cooling system includes an automatically controlled air intake system at the front of the vehicle to reduce cooling system drag. This thermal management strategy also contributes towards reduced fuel consumption.

A second electric water pump, which is also used only as needed, circulates a separate lower temperature coolant loop to cool the starter generator and power electronics.

Design. Despite the very high levels of efficiency, developers were able to design a body layout that offers greater everyday practicality, incorporating side-by-side seating rather than the tandem arrangement seen in both the first 1-liter car presented in 2002 and the L1 presented in 2009. In the new XL1, wing doors make it easier to enter and exit the car.

The new XL1 is 3,888 mm long, 1,665 mm wide and just 1,156 mm tall. These are extreme dimensions. The Polo has a similar length (3,970 mm) and width (1,682 m), but it is significantly taller (1,462 mm). The height of the new XL1 is about the same as that of a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder (1,184 mm). In other words, the XL1 is as long and wide as a Polo, but with a low profile like a Lamborghini.

Material. Large sections of the new XL1’s body consist of carbon fibre reinforced polymer (CFRP); the prototype weights 795 kg. Of that, 227 kg represents the entire drive unit, 153 kg the running gear, 80 kg the equipment (including the two bucket seats) and 105 kg the electrical system. That leaves 230 kg, which is precisely the weight of the body.

A total of 21.3% of the new XL1, or 169 kg, consists of CFRP. In addition, Volkswagen uses lightweight metals for 22.5% of all parts (179 kg). Only 23.2% (184 kg) of the new XL1 is constructed from steel and iron materials. The rest of its weight is distributed among various other polymers (e.g. polycarbonate side windows), metals, natural fibres, process materials and electronics.

Specifically, the monocoque with its slightly offset seats for driver and passenger and all exterior body parts are made of CFRP. The layers of carbon fibre, which are aligned with the directions of forces, are formed into parts with an epoxy resin system in the aRTM (advanced Resin Transfer Moulding) process. This material mix produces an extremely durable and lightweight composite.

Volkswagen successfully found a cost-effective way to mass produce CFRP parts in sufficient volumes as early as 2009 in the framework of the XL1 development project.

Source: Green Car Congress

Asians, Toyota Lead The Way With Alternate Vehicle Patents

Toyota Prius Taking On Current

According to the 2010 Innovation Report: Twelve Key Industries and Their States of Innovation by Thomson Reuters, automotive patent filings jumped significantly in 2010 compared to 2009, with patent filings in the alternative vehicle sector leading the way.

And while Asian automakers dominated patent filings in 2010, Toyota filed 3 times more patents than any other automaker.

In 2009 the auto industry as a whole was fourth in patent filings. This year only the Computer & Peripheals sector filed more patents, pushing the auto sector above both the telecommunications and semiconductor industries. Even more interesting, this increase in filings was driven by a big push into alternative vehicles, one of 12 automotive sectors, with 16 percent of all patent activity.

Alternative vehicle patent filings were led by the Japanese with Toyota, Nissan and Honda topping the list in that order. Toyota alone filed 2179 patents in the alternative vehicle segment while Nissan filed 639 patents.

Toyota might be down, but with its hordes of cash reserves coupled with its overly-forward looking technology vision, it won’t be there for long.

Source: Hybridcarblog

Monday, January 24, 2011

Mazda Building Electric 2 Prototypes, Announces Limited Testing in Japan

2010 Mazda2 - Click above for high-res image gallery

Though lagging behind competitors General Motors and Nissan, Mazda will finally enter the plug-in vehicle market in 2012. The Japanese automaker has announced it intends to develop an electric subcompact based on the Demio (aka the Mazda2), and targets a launch date of spring 2012. Before you get geared up for this electric's arrival, it should be noted that, at least for now, Mazda only intends to offer its battery-powered hatch to lessees, mostly government organizations and corporate fleet customers, in Japan.

The Demio-based electric is expected to offer 120 miles of driving range on a full charge and will feature a lithium-ion battery pack, though Mazda is unwilling to disclose the name of its li-ion supplier at this time. Mazda is equally mum on pricing and production volume for its electric hatch, but the automaker's chief executive officer, Takashi Yamanouchi, did offer this brief statement:

We think time will be needed for electric vehicles to become widespread, but there is a definite need for short-range commuters.

The Japanese automaker anticipates that electric vehicles will account for five percent of the world's automotive market by 2020, which we hope indicates that a plug-in Mazda could hit the States by the end of the decade. Mazda's other efficiency efforts are focused on hybrids, rotary engines and cleaner gas engines.

Source: AutoblogGreen

Electrovaya Chosen to Provide Li Ion Storage System For Grid Apps

Electrovaya Inc. has been selected by a major US utility to provide a 1.5MWh capacity Lithium Ion SuperPolymer®Battery Energy Storage System for grid storage applications.

The Electrovaya system will provide energy storage for renewable energy integration and the Smart Grid.

Electrovaya is partnering with ABB, a leading global power and automation technology company, to provide the power conditioning and conversion equipment for the battery energy storage system.

Working with major utilities represents a tremendous opportunity for Electrovaya in the rapidly growing grid energy storage market. We are very pleased to work with ABB on this project and look forward to working with them on many other opportunities.

—Dr. Sankar Das Gupta, CEO of Electrovaya

Electrovaya is the prime contractor in this project and expects the 1.5MWh Energy Storage System to be operating by summer 2011.

Daimler Stepping Up Hybrid Vehicle Offerings in Response to Increasing Global Fuel Economy Standards

Mercedes E-Class F-Cell

Daimler will offer hybrid versions of its Mercedes-Benz C-, E- and S-class vehicles in the United States and Europe within three years to meet tightening global fuel economy standards.

Herbert Kohler, head of Daimler's E-Drive and Future Mobility unit, said Daimler is moving quickly on hybrid technologies. "We have a leading position in the premium segment concerning alternative propulsion systems, and we will defend it," he said on the sidelines of a press event here.

A Daimler source said the C- and E-class full hybrids will be launched in Europe before 2013 and the S-class plug-in hybrid will be launched in 2014.

A second source said U.S. versions will follow about six months later.

Mercedes does not currently offer a plug-in version of its vehicles in the United States. The current S400 is offered as a mild hybrid, and the M class is a full hybrid.

A mild hybrid uses an electric motor and acts as a start/stop system, but the electric motor does not drive the vehicle by itself. A full hybrid can be driven short distances using the electric motor.

Kohler also said Daimler will continue to invest heavily in r&d this year, spending half of its $5.6 billion budget on alternative powertrain technology.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Scania receives large order for biofuel buses in Sweden - Press Release

Scania has received an order for 158 buses from public transport company Keolis Sverige. By ordering buses that run on biofuels, the company strengthens its position in sustainable urban transport.

The delivery to Keolis consists of urban, suburban and intercity buses. The majority, 123 urban and suburban buses, will be used in the greater Stockholm area, where Keolis operates for Storstockholms Lokaltrafik (SL).

“The order is very important to us and helps strengthen our position as a strong partner in the public transport industry,” says Ove Forsberg, Bus Sales Manager at Scania-Bilar Sverige. “We have had a rewarding partnership with Keolis in Sweden for a long period, and we see this order as a result of that.”

Scania has previously delivered ethanol- and biogas-fuelled vehicles to Keolis, and the new buses will be equipped with engines for the renewable fuels ethanol and rapeseed methyl ester (RME). Compared to using a conventional diesel engine, Keolis reduces carbon-dioxide emissions by 70 percent by using ethanol; for RME, the corresponding figure is 64 percent.

Deliveries of the buses will take place from April until July, and the buses will start operating between June and August.

Keolis Sverige’s vision is to use locally suited, sustainable transport to double transit ridership in Swedish cities. By the second half of 2011 Keolis’ vehicle fleet in Sweden will consist of approximately 2,000 buses, of which over 60 percent will be running on renewable fuels.

Keolis’ Technology and Environmental Director Håkan Björk says, “This and previous large orders to Scania are a result of a close cooperation, giving us well-developed and customised products for our operations.”

Scania has more than 20 years of experience with ethanol buses, having delivered a total of about 800 ethanol buses. More than 700 of them have gone to Swedish cities, but the company has also delivered ethanol buses for commercial service to countries such as Great Britain, Spain, Italy, Belgium and Norway.

The world's largest fleet of ethanol buses operates in the greater Stockholm area, where Stockholm County Council has set the goal that at least 50 percent of all passenger traffic will employ renewable fuels by 2012.

Ethanol accounts for around 90 percent of renewable vehicle fuels available today. It is the most cost-effective such fuel in the market in terms of availability, infrastructure and access to tried-and-tested technology

For further information, please contact:

· Leif Nyström, Marketing Director, Scania-Bilar Sverige, +46 8 553 511 52
· Hans-Åke Danielsson, Press Manager, Scania, +46 8 553 856 62

Scania is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of trucks and buses for heavy transport applications, and of industrial and marine engines. A growing proportion of the company’s operations consists of products and services in the financial and service sectors, assuring Scania customers of cost-effective transport solutions and maximum uptime. Employing some 32,000 people, Scania operates in about 100 countries. Research and development activities are concentrated in Sweden, while production takes place in Europe and South America, with facilities for global interchange of both components and complete vehicles. In 2009, net sales totalled SEK 62 billion and net income amounted to SEK 1.1 billion. Scania press releases are available on (

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Toyota Motor Corp FCVs to Be Trialed in Narita Airport Car-service

How long will it take before the entire Hydrogen Fuel Cell concept is mercifully put to sleep? How many decades of testing and concepts and trials will it take before the automakers throw in the towel and give up? We hope it isn't much longer.


Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) plans to provide "TOYOTA FCHV-adv"* fuel-cell-hybrid vehicles to an FCV (fuel-cell vehicle) car-service trial program to start on January 29 between Narita International Airport (Narita Airport) and other destinations. The provision is in response to a request from the Research Association of Hydrogen Supply/Utilization Technology (HySUT), a participant in the Hydrogen Highway Project run by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) as part of its Demonstration Program for Establishing a Hydrogen-based Social System.

The vehicles will be used in a car service All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd. (ANA) operates from Narita Airport for the Welcome-Home Limousine Taxi Service for passengers returning to Japan on flights from Europe or the U.S. and for its early morning pickup plan.

Under the same project, TMC has been providing an "FCHV-BUS" fuel-cell hybrid bus for use on a commercial route between central Tokyo and Tokyo International Airport (commonly known as Haneda Airport) since December last year.

To continue to promote the widespread use of FCVs, TMC will verify data obtained from the car-service trials (which will include highway use), and conduct ongoing research and development while actively cooperating with various organizations including the national government and the energy industry.

Chevy Plans to Double Volt Output to 120,000 Next Year

Dan Akerson, CEO General Motors

General Motors, Inc., plans to double the 2012 production capacity for the Chevrolet Volt to 120,000 as the automaker works to boost the plug-in hybrid's sales, said two people familiar with the matter.

Volt output this year may increase to 25,000 from an original plan of 10,000, GM CEO Dan Akerson said earlier this month. GM now is working with suppliers to raise 2012 capacity from an earlier target of 60,000. It may not build that many if parts aren't available or demand isn't strong enough, said the people, who didn't want to be named because the plans are private.

Akerson, who became CEO in September, wants to sell more of the $41,000 Volt and is pushing to use its Voltec gasoline- electric drive system for models sold by other GM brands. Akerson has said he wants GM to have more fuel-efficient models ready for a possible increase in oil prices to $120 a barrel.

“We want to stay sharply focused on technology,” Akerson told analysts at Deutsche Bank's Auto Industry Conference in Detroit on Jan. 11. “We don't want to be caught flat-footed as we were in 2008.”

Crude oil that year climbed to more than $140 a barrel and average gasoline prices topped $4 a gallon. Sales of trucks and cars with large engines plummeted, contributing to GM's $30.9 billion loss that year.

Randy Fox, a GM spokesman, declined to comment on production plans. He said he didn't know how many people have ordered a Volt or how long they will have to wait.

Volt goals

Akerson told his executive team in early December that he wanted to boost Volt production and explore adding its drive system to several models with a goal of at least tripling sales of vehicles with that technology by mid-decade from the 2012 target, people familiar with the matter said at the time.

After exploring its options, the team settled on doubling capacity for the Volt next year, they said. GM is still evaluating the Volt's technology for other models.

Higher output will allow GM to reduce the cost of the Volt's drive and battery systems, helping it lower the car's cost in future years, said Jim Hall, principal of 2953 Analytics Inc., an automotive consulting firm in Birmingham, Mich. GM

GM should be able to sell all of its Volt production as long as the government's $7,500 tax incentive is in place, Hall said. The incentive expires after GM sells 200,000 units of the car.

“The only way they will get cost down is with more production,” Hall said. “They are in a race to get costs down concurrent with selling 200,000 Volts.”

GM may announce the production increase at the Washington auto show next week, one of the people said.

The Volt can travel about 35 miles on a fully charged battery before the gasoline engine kicks in, giving the vehicle an additional 340 miles of range on a full tank of gas, GM said on its website.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated the Volt's energy use as the equivalent of 93 mpg in electric-only mode. In combined gasoline-electric driving, the EPA estimated the Volt would average 60 mpg, GM said. In gasoline-only mode, when the battery was drained, the car would get 37 mpg, GM said.

Friday, January 21, 2011

CODA Names Former GM Exec Philip Murtaugh as CEO

The Coda Automotive EV

CODA Holdings, a California-based developer of advanced Lithium-ion power battery systems and all-electric vehicles, announced that its Board of Directors has named Philip Murtaugh as its new CEO. Murtaugh was also appointed a member of CODA’s Board of Directors. Steven “Mac” Heller has agreed to continue his substantial involvement with CODA and has become the company’s Executive Chairman.

Murtaugh was employed by General Motors (GM) for more than 30 years in various management and executive-level positions. From 1996 to 2000, Murtaugh served as Executive Vice President of Shanghai GM, and from 2000 to 2005, as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of GM China. Over a period of 10 years, Murtaugh grew GM’s presence from 15 employees in its Shanghai operations to 15,000 employees throughout the country while increasing the unit’s revenue from $300 million to more than $7 billion.

Following GM, Murtaugh served as Executive Vice President, International Operations for Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC). In his next executive role, Murtaugh was Chief Executive Officer, Asia Operations for Chrysler where he grew sales by 30% during his tenure. Most recently, Murtaugh has been a Director of Lear Corporation, and a consultant and advisor to numerous large sales and manufacturing companies.

Miles L. Rubin, CODA’s founder and Co-Chairman, will retire as Co-Chairman but continue his active involvement as a Director and the company’s largest shareholder. CODA’s Board has designated Rubin Chairman Emeritus.

Now the question remains, "When will we see a production vehicle from this company?"

Source: Green Car Congress

Want To Take an Extended Tesla Test Drive? It Will Cost $25


"Our beds are empty two-thirds of the time.
 Our living rooms are empty seven-eighths of the time.
 Our office buildings are empty one-half of the time.
 It’s time we gave this some thought."

—R. Buckminster Fuller

Well, it took awhile, but folks have started seriously entertaining Bucky’s concerns about wasted space. Online services like Air BnB allow people to profit from renting out extra bedrooms, spare couches, and temporarily vacant apartments, for example, while co-working spaces maximize the use of commercial square footage.

Now, the parked car is making itself useful. Just last month, new startup Getaround launched a peer-to-peer marketplace that dramatically reduces the cost of driving by allowing users to rent cars from their iPhone. So while you’re sitting at your desk at work, your car can be liberated from its parking space to earn you money. Or if you're without a car, you can rent one from someone nearby.

"Since the invention of the automobile, we've been conditioned to think that only one person should own and use each car," says Getaround Co-Founder Elliot Kroo. "Getaround is changing that paradigm by enabling people to access a vehicle instead of having to possess one."

Getaround’s latest initiative will no doubt attract legions of early adopters: Members can now try out the Tesla Roadster Sport, which retails for $157,000, for just $25 an hour.

"We are working with Tesla to make their fantastic electric vehicles accessible to more people." says Getaround’s Co-Founder Jessica Scorpio. "Tesla definitely breaks a lot of the misperceptions about EVs and we're excited to be part of that."

Of course the Tesla (which is owned by a private individual, Scorpio explains, "who wants as many people to experience it as possible") isn’t the only car available at Getaround. Other companies are jumping in the EV rental bandwagon like Hertz, which started renting out electric Smart cars in December, and just last week, rented out the first Chevy Volt. And Zipcar has been renting out alternative fuel vehicles for years.

Source: Good Transportation

Mitsubishi planning to use Toshiba Li-ion battery in Minicab MiEV

The Nikkei reports that Mitsubishi Motors Corp. (MMC) will use Toshiba Corp.’s lithium-ion batteries for the MMC Minicab MiEV. In July 2010, Toshiba announced that it was working with Mitsubishi Motors to bring its SCiB battery to electric vehicles (EVs).

The Minicab MiEV. Click to enlarge.

The SCiB is Toshiba’s rechargeable lithium-ion battery that combines high levels of safety with a long life and rapid recharging.

Loaded with the new battery, which the carmaker chose for its long life and reasonable price, the Minicab MiEV will be capable of traveling up to 100 kilometers on a full charge.

...Mitsubishi worked with GS Yuasa Corp. to produce lithium-ion batteries for its i-MiEV electric passenger vehicle. The automaker is trying to reduce battery costs—which account for more than half the price of the car—by using different battery suppliers for different car models.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Tesla’s Goal: Build $30k Mainstream Electric Car by 2015

Elon Musk With Tesla Roadster

Even though Tesla’s second electric vehicle the Model S is still about two years away from the market, Tesla CEO Elon Musk laid out the company’s road map for two more new electric cars at the Cleantech Investor Summit in Palm Springs, California on Wednesday. Tesla will unveil the Model X SUV, which will be “cooler” than any SUV or minivan on the market, later this year, said Musk, and in about four years will have developed a truly “mainstream” car that will cost $30,000.

Musk has talked about both cars before. Back in 2008, he was even hoping the mainstream electric car could go for as low as $20,000. And Musk spoke about the Model X SUV at a recent tour of Tesla’s recently acquired NUMMI plant. But as the company gets closer to launching the Model S, it’ll get that much closer to Musk’s original vision of making electric vehicles truly mainstream.

As far as how fast EVs will become mainstream Musk had some pretty aggressive predictions going. By 2020 it’ll be dirt cheap to have a long range vehicle battery, said Musk. By 2030, the only cars sold in America will be electric cars, and by midcentury the vast majority of cars on the road will be electric, said Musk. Those are tall orders, and mere decades away. All transportation is going electric, except — ironically — rockets, said Musk (Musk is the founder of rocket company SpaceX).

But first in line, the Model S. Coming in late 2012 or 2013 (if it’s on time), the Model S is being designed so that people would buy it even if wasn’t electric. “It’s arguably the most advanced car in the world.” The battery pack can even be swamped out in under a minute, said Musk — which I’m sure got the attention of the Better Place folks.

Several questions from the audience at the conference asked Musk for advice on running companies and competing in the marketplace. Musk advised entrepreneurs to build a useful prototype as soon as possible for their ideas, for the least amount of money. That’s the first thing we did with Tesla, said Musk, because only so many things can be explained by power point.

In addition, Musk said, allow for a certain amount of chaos in an organization — allow for failure. Google is pretty good at this, said Musk, and we plan to eventually implement time for SpaceX and Tesla employees to work on their own projects. Finally, let employees have some irreverence, said Musk. For example, for a SpaceX rocket launch SpaceX employees hid a secret wheel of cheese inside the vessel.

Source: GigaOm