Plug-Ins Electrify Detroit and Washington
January 7, 2007, at the North American International Auto Show in
Detroit, Michigan, General Motors unveiled its Chevrolet Volt concept
plug-in hybrid sedan in an effort to jumpstart its stalled electric car
program. The Chevy Volt utilizes a lithium-ion battery and has a 40
miles all-electric range for city driving. The vehicle houses GM’s
brand new E-Flex propulsion system which is based on battery-dominant
series hybrid architecture.
Volt can be charged by plugging into a regular 110-volt outlet for six
hours. In addition, the car is equipped with a 1L three-cylinder
turbocharged engine spinning at constant speed to recharge the
battery. GM sought to go even greener by making the engine
flexible-fuel. This will allow the Volt to be powered by E-85 (85
percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline). In fact the E-Flex systems
are being designed with a variety of fuels in mind, including
biodiesel, hydrogen and E- 100 (100 percent ethanol).
in battery technology are the key to the mass deployment of the Volt
and other plug-ins. GM appears serious about accelerating battery
technology developments to facilitate plug-in deployment. The company
recently awarded two contracts for the design and testing of
lithium-ion batteries for the Saturn Vue plug-in hybrid prototype due
later this year. The contracts were awarded to A123Systems –Cobasys
and to Johnson Controls -Saft Advanced Power Solutions.
last year at the opening of the Los Angeles Auto Show, General Motors
Corp. (GM) Chief Executive Rick Wagoner announced that GM intended to
build a plug-in hybrid Saturn Vue sport utility vehicle (SUV).
Wagoner indicated that the company was working with several battery
manufacturers on the plug-in project and that progress would depend on
advances in battery technology. “The technological hurdles are real,
but we believe they are surmountable,” he said.
Not to be outdone, Ford Motor Company introduced its plug-in hybrid
prototype based on the Ford Edge crossover at the Washington Auto
Show. The Edge is powered by the HySeries Drive™, a hybrid-electric
propulsion system that uses a 35-kilowatt fuel cell unit as a charger
for the 336-volt lithium-ion battery pack. The vehicle operates in
battery-only mode for the first 25 miles at speeds of up to 85 mph.
When the battery is depleted to 40 percent of its charge, the fuel
cell automatically kicks in to recharge the battery, giving the car a
range of 225 miles. The HySeries --like the E-Flex system-- is being
designed for fuel flexibility so ethanol or diesel powered engines
could be used instead of fuel cells. The estimated fuel economy of the
Edge is 41 miles per gallon and was built at the cost of $2 million
with some financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Energy.
For more information on the Chevy Volt, please see:
For more information on the Ford Edge prototype, please see:
California Proposes Low Carbon Fuel Standard
continues to move forward with its efforts to reduce greenhouse
emissions. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently issued an Executive
Order to establish a low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) – the first of its
kind in the world. The standard, which will apply to all
transportation fuels retailed in California, is expected to reduce the
carbon intensity of transportation fuels in the state by 10 percent by
The LCFS will require fuel
providers to sell fuels that meet a declining standard for greenhouse
gas emissions measured in carbon dioxide-equivalent gram per unit
sold. The state plans to employ market-based mechanisms to implement
the LCFS. For example, providers can purchase credits from utilities
supplying low-carbon electricity to electric vehicles or blend more
low-carbon ethanol into existing fuel supply. The LCFS is anticipated
to replace 20 percent of California’s on-road gasoline consumption with
low-carbon fuels, triple the renewable fuels market and add more than 7
million alternative fuel or hybrid cars on the road.
University of California study estimates that California’s greenhouse
gas emissions plans will increase Gross State Product by more than $60
million and create 20,000 new jobs, contradicting critics’ claims that
attempts to address climate change will harm the economy. This latest
initiative complements ongoing efforts by the state to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions, including the Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) which requires statewide greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced to 1990 levels by 2020, Million Solar Roofs and the Bioenergy Action Plan, to name a few.
For more information on this initiative, please see:
A fact sheet on the Low Carbon Fuel Standard is available at:
Modesto Joins Hybrid Bus Club
Area Express, the transit agency serving the city of Modesto
California, recently added a diesel-electric hybrid bus – the first in
its fleet. The 40-foot bus, manufactured by Gillig Corporation, is
equipped with a parallel-hybrid system. The cost of the hybrid bus,
estimated at $555,493, was funded by a Congestion Mitigation and Air
Quality (CMAQ) grant of $491,778 and a Local Transportation Fund (LTF)
grant of $63,715. The bus will be pressed into service in February
More information about Modesto’s new hybrid bus available at:
Amtrak Gets a Boost from Senate
time supporters of Amtrak, the nation’s passenger rail system, finally
have a reason to smile. An unlikely duo in the Senate is pushing for
increased and sustained funding for the rail system. Senators Frank
Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Trent Lott (R-Miss) introduced legislation (S.
294) in January that would authorize $3.2 billion a year for Amtrak for
six years. Both Senators have been long-time supporters of the rail
Last year a similar bill passed by the Senate, (93 to 6)
wasn’t taken up by the House. Now with a Democratic majority in the
House and Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN) in charge of the important House
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the prospects of support
for Amtrak are much brighter. Rep. Oberstar has been a long standing
supporter of passenger rail and is likely to be more receptive to
Senate bill would authorize $1.7 billion in debt repayment, $7.8
billion in new bonding authority and $300 million per year in grants to
be matched by states. Amtrak has been plagued in recent years with
financial troubles, mechanical breakdowns and lack of support from the
Bush administration which nearly zeroed out its operating budget in its
FY 06 budget request, citing the unsustainable nature of its
operation. Amtrak received $1.3 billion in federal funding in 2006
after Congress restored the budget cuts.
To view the Amtrak reauthorization legislation, please visit:
http://thomas.loc.gov (Type in S. 294 as bill number)
Wal-Mart and ArvinMeritor to Develop Hybrid Truck
is going hybrid. The retailer has announced plans to develop a
dual-mode diesel-electric hybrid drivetrain for a Class 8 tractor
truck. Wal-Mart will partner with ArvinMeritor to develop this hybrid
truck based on an International Class 8 ProStar tractor powered by a
Cummins engine. Wal-Mart has set aggressive efficiency targets for its
fleet of more than 7,000 trucks, aiming to improve efficiency 25 per
cent by 2008, and then doubling it by 2015.
hybrids are equipped both with mechanical and electrical propulsion
systems. The electric mode operates primarily during low-speed, high
load conditions, such as stop-and-go traffic as well as provides
additional power during hill climbing. Energy is recaptured through
regenerative breaking to recharge the battery. At highway speeds, the
mechanical propulsion system is the primary mode of power. Other
companies developing hybrid drivetrains for Class 8 trucks include Mack
trucks and Eaton Corporation.
New Executive Order Mandates Fleet Efficiency, Plug-In Hybrids
President Bush recently issued an Executive Order titled Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management, requiring
federal agencies to improve energy efficiency, increase the use of
renewable resources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to
the order, agencies will be required to reduce energy intensity three
percent annually or 30 percent by 2015. Federal agency fleets will be
required to reduce petroleum consumption by two percent annually,
increase the consumption of non-petroleum fuels by 10 percent and use
plug-in hybrid vehicles when they become commercially available.
The plug-in hybrid provision is important because federal procurement
of these advanced technology vehicles can help jumpstart their
Other provisions in the Executive Order include a requirement to
purchase recycled, bio-based and other energy efficient products as
well as a requirement that any new federal construction or major
renovation of an agency building adhere to principles laid down in the 2006 Federal Leadership in High Performance and Sustainable Buildings Memorandum of Understanding.
The Executive Order can be viewed at:
Bush Proposes Modest Energy Initiative in State of the Union
January 23, 2007, President presented his energy plan to the nation
during his annual State of the Union address. The energy plan
proposes modest increases in fuel economy standards for cars and
trucks, and an aggressive effort to use alternative fuels by 2017. The
plan dubbed “Twenty in Ten” proposes an Alternative Fuel Standard which
seeks to increase the use of alternative fuel to 35 billion gallons in
10 years - nearly five times the current Renewable Fuel Standard of 7.5
billion gallons mandated by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The
proposal seeks to achieve the 35 billion gallon goal through the use of
a variety of alternative fuels such as ethanol, methanol, butanol,
biodiesel, hydrogen and other alternative fuels, a troubling departure from the earlier mandate to use renewable fuels only.
The Administration estimates that the Alternative Fuel Standard can
help reduce 15 percent of the projected gasoline use in 2017.
addition, the “Twenty in Ten” initiative calls for an annual increase
of the fuel economy standard for cars by 4 percent beginning with Model
Year 2010, which will cut projected gasoline usage in 2017 by 5
percent. The proposal suggests that manufacturers will be able to buy
and sell fuel economy credits in an effort to build flexibility into
the program. Corporate Fuel Economy Standards (CAFE) have long been a
source of contention between environmentalists and auto manufacturers.
Lawmakers have been reluctant to raise fuel economy standards in the
past because of the perceived economic impact it would have on
struggling domestic automakers that have focused on large trucks and
sport utility vehicles (SUVs). Last summer, skyrocketing gas prices
renewed efforts to raise fuel economy standards and there were some
rumblings on Capitol Hill that the Republican-controlled Congress would
address the issue. However, gas prices fell during the year, and with
it died efforts to improve fuel economy standards.
Detroit automakers lauded the proposal to increase the use of
ethanol. General Motors (GM) already has 2 million flexible-fuel
vehicles (vehicles capable of running on 85 percent ethanol or
gasoline), with plans to double production by 2010 and make half its
fleet flex-fuel capable by 2012. DaimlerChrysler has committed to
producing 500,000 flex-fuel vehicles by 2008. Domestic automakers have
benefited from the production of flexible-fuel vehicles because of the
CAFE credits available for them. Corporate Fuel Economy (CAFE)
standards provide automakers a credit for the manufacture of flex-fuel
vehicles in order to encourage their production. However, these
vehicles reduce oil consumption only if they use alternative
fuels. This loophole has allowed automakers to take credit for
manufacturing flex-fuel vehicles despite the fact that the vehicles
have been primarily fueled with gasoline rather than ethanol.
According to EESI analysis, of the 33 flex-fuel models (all classes,
May 2006) offered by automakers, 11 models are less fuel-efficient midsize or large cars and minivans and 22 are trucks (pickups and SUVs). There are no compact or two-seater options.
This points to a concerning trend – automakers are benefiting from the
CAFE loophole by producing less fuel-efficient vehicles and gaining
fuel economy credits by making them flex-fuel capable.
In related news, new efforts to raise CAFE came from an unlikely quarter. Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) introduced the Improved Passenger Automobile Fuel Economy Act of 2007
(S. 183) to raise CAFE for passenger automobiles to 40 miles per gallon
by 2017. This legislation also requires the Secretary of Commerce to
establish a national registry system for greenhouse gas trading of
credits. Participation in the registry would be voluntary, allowing
automobile manufacturers to contribute or purchase a limited number of
emissions credits with other industries that generate greenhouse gases
in order to achieve compliance with CAFE standards.
For more information on “Twenty in Ten” Plan, please see:
For the full text of the Improved Passenger Automobile Fuel Economy Act of 2007, please see:
http://thomas.loc.gov (Type S 183 for bill number)
Automakers Push for Battery Subsidies
“Big Three” domestic automakers General Motors (GM), Ford and
DaimlerChrysler are pushing for battery subsidies totaling $500 million
over five years to accelerate research and development of advanced
batteries for cars and trucks. The Chief Executive Officers of the
three companies met with President Bush in November 2006 and made the
appeal for increased funding for battery research. Currently the
Department of Energy provides approximately $25 million each year for
recently announced plans to make a plug-in and introduced the Chevrolet
Volt plug-in concept vehicle at the Detroit Auto Show, cites inadequate
battery technology as the largest hurdle impeding the rapid development
of plug-in hybrids. According to a GM spokesman, Japan and Asia have
identified advanced batteries as a critical competitive technology and
are investing hundreds of millions of dollars to support their domestic
manufacturers. GM contends that the U.S needs a similar effort to
remain competitive. The company has awarded contracts to Johnson
Controls-Saft Advanced Power Solutions and Cobasys to develop a
lithium-ion battery for the company’s planned Saturn Vue plug-in
DOE Announces Solicitation for Plug-Ins, E-85 Engines
the Washington Auto Show as his backdrop, U.S Department of Energy’s
(DOE) Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Alexander Karsner announced DOE plans to issue grants totaling $17
million in support of plug-in hybrid technology and E-85 engine
(engines operating with a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent
gasoline) efficiency improvements. Two separate solicitations – one for
$14 million for plug-in hybrids and the other for $3 million for E-85
engines - will be issued through the FreedomCAR and Vehicle
The plug-in hybrid
solicitation seeks improvements in battery development to power a
plug-in hybrid for 40 miles on battery-electric power alone. The
solicitation will require a cost-share. In addition, DOE will
establish a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle test bed at Argonne
National Laboratory which will allow researchers to measure the
performance of the vehicle. The E-85 solicitation will fund projects
to improve the engine efficiency and reduce the emissions of flex-fuel
vehicles, which use E85 fuel. Cost share is required.
For more information, please visit:
Toyota Forecasts Happy Times for Hybrids
Motor Corporation sees a bright and profitable year ahead for their
hybrid models. The company estimates that they will be able to sell
300,000 or more gas-electric hybrids in 2007 (nearly double its 2006
sales). This positive outlook is based on the spectacular success the
company enjoyed this past year with its hybrid line selling 191,000
cars. The company controls 75 percent of the rapidly growing hybrid
market and plans to introduce hybrid versions of many existing Toyota
models in the future.
Plug-In Partners Celebrates One Year with Washington Event
Plug-In Partners campaign, spearheaded by the City of Austin and its
public utility Austin Energy, marked its first anniversary on January
23 with a Congressional and press briefing in Washington D.C. – where
the campaign was launched last January. The purpose of the campaign is
to demonstrate to automakers that there is a market for plug-in hybrid
vehicles and to persuade automakers to manufacture them. The
Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) co-sponsored the event
and has been a lead national partner. Speakers reflected the wide
ranging and bipartisan support for the manufacture of plug-in hybrid
vehicles (PHEVs). PHEVs can be charged in a standard electric socket,
allowing an all electric range of 20 to 60 miles. The vehicles then
switch to liquid fuel which can be gasoline or biofuels.
Speakers at the briefing were: Austin Mayor Will Wynn; Senator Orrin
Hatch (R-UT); Congressman Jay Inslee (D-WA); Mike Jackson, CEO of
AutoNation, the nation’s largest automotive retailer; Jon Wellinghoff,
Commissioner, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC); Tim Dummer
representing GE Industrial; Melissa Lavinson of Pacific Gas &
Electric (PG&E); and Ed Kjaer, Director of Electric Transportation
for Southern California Edison.
Wynn began the proceedings by reporting that more than 500 entities in
41 states have joined the campaign, including a number of the nation’s
largest cities such asChicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City,
Memphis, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle.
Wynn said that the campaign originally planned to focus on the 50
largest cities in the country, but soon grew well beyond that to a
coalition built on reducing dependence on foreign oil, decreasing
greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, and utilizing biofuels. In
addition, he reported that the campaign has now surpassed 8,000 fleet orders,
helping to prove to automakers that if they build plug-in vehicles,
Americans will buy them. Wynn also noted the central role of the
American Public Power Association (APPA) which has recruited nearly 200
publicly-owned utilities to become Plug-In Partners.
Other speakers at the event echoed the sweeping and bipartisan nature of the support for plug-in hybrids.
Jay Inslee commented on the ever increasing discussion of PHEVs in
Congress. "This is the most rapidly developing technology that can
give us action this decade," declared Inslee. He announced the recent
introduction of his comprehensive PHEV bill Get Real Incentives to Drive Plug-in Act (H.R 589).
More information about the National Plug-In Partners Campaign is available at:
Wynn noted the strong support for the Plug-in Partners Campaign from
Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) of Austin who was originally scheduled
to attend. Rep. Doggett, a member of the House Ways and Means
Committee, plans to introduce a plug-in hybrid tax credit bill soon.
then read a letter of support from Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX). Smith
sponsored a plug-in hybrid bill which passed the House last session and
indicated in the letter that he plans to reintroduce it again this
Orrin Hatch, who also spoke at the Plug-In Partners kickoff last year,
announced that he, Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington and Senator
Barrack Obama of Illinois are working together on a plug-in hybrid
Hatch was Mike Jackson, CEO of AutoNation, the nation’s largest auto
retailer. Jackson talked about the increasing American dependence on
imported oil during the last five presidential administrations and said
that the trend absolutely must be reversed. AutoNation has been a
strong supporter and has expressed confidence that they can sell
plug-in hybrids if automakers manufacture them.
Commissioner Jon Wellinghoff discussed the payback potential of
plug-ins if they are used to supply power to the grid.
Lavinson reiterated PG&E’s strong support for plug-in hybrids. Last
fall the company mailed a bill insert about PHEVs and Plug-In Partners
to 5.2 million customers.
Kjaer of Southern California Edison, one of the foremost experts on
PHEVs, used a space analogy saying that PHEVs are on the launching pad
and need only some further development on the “fuel,” which he pointed
out is the batteries.
Dummer of GE Industrial, a division of GE, indicated that GE research
has led to much the same conclusions as Plug-In Partners – that PHEVs
can play a very significant role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions
and in decreasing American dependence on foreign oil.
Presentations from the briefing can be viewed at http://www.eesi.org/
Duke Develops “Best Bus” Decision-Support Tool
Nicholas Institute of Policy Solutions at Duke University has recently
developed a decision-support tool for bus fleet managers to determine
cost-effective alternatives to reduce emissions from fleets. The tool
was developed in conjunction with M.J. Bradley and Associates with
support from the Robertson Foundation.
BUS” allows users to calculate the life cycle costs and emissions for
full fleets or a smaller subset in order to compare the costs and
advantages of alternative fuels and technologies such as hybrids and
natural gas. The model was developed to evaluate a new bus fleet for
shuttle trips between Duke University and University of North
Carolina-Chapel Hill. According to a press release from the Nicholas
Institute, life-cycle cost calculations computed by BEST BUS, in cost
per mile and total cost, take into account capital costs as well as
operating costs, including labor and fuel. Life cycle emissions, in
gallons per mile and total tons, are calculated for carbon dioxide,
greenhouse gases, particulate matter, oxides of nitrogen (NOx),
non-methane hydrocarbons, and carbon monoxide.
BEST BUS is available for download at:
Users are encouraged to provide feedback to Lydia Olander at Lydia.Olander@duke.edu
Study Suggests Lung Impairment from Freeway Pollution
research in Southern California indicates that children living near
freeways are more likely to have significant lung impairment due to
exposure to fine particulate pollution from traffic. The results of
the study appear in the February issue of the medical journal Lancet and
bolster growing evidence that living in polluted areas increases the
chances that children will suffer from lung impairment which may result
in lifelong respiratory troubles.
13-year Children’s Health study involving more than 3,600 children in
12 Central and Southern Californian communities examined the impact of
pollution on lung development. The children were followed for 8 years
with yearly lung measurements recorded. Lung function was measured
based on how much and how quickly the child could exhale after taking a
The study is led by W.
James Gauderman, associate professor at the Keck School of Medicine at
the University of Southern California. In 2005, Dr. Gauderman
presented results of a related study at an EESI briefing detailing the
impact air pollution had on lung development in the same cohort of
children. “Someone suffering a pollution-related deficit in lung
function as a child will probably have less than healthy lungs all of
his or her life,” said Gauderman. “Poor lung function in later adult
life is known to be a major risk factor for respiratory and
cardiovascular diseases,” he added.
to the latest study, the pollution damage to children living 500 meters
away from freeways was similar to those living in communities with the
highest pollution levels. According to Gauderman, “if you live in a
high-pollution area and live near a busy road, you get a doubling.”
Children living in highly polluted communities near freeways recorded
the most severe impairment – a 9 percent lung deficit when compared to
children living 1500 meters away from the freeway. He noted that lung
impairment was smaller in children who moved away from polluted areas.
study was funded by the California Air Resources Board; the National
Institute of Environmental Health Sciences; the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency; the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the
For more information on this study, please see:
Clean Heavy-Duty Vehicle Conference
February 13-15, 2007
Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City, CA
The Clean Heavy Duty Vehicle Conference focuses on clean
advanced technologies and fuels for these vehicles. It provides
participants with an opportunity to discuss and define what the road
map should be for advanced technologies and fuels for the heavy-duty
vehicle industry. The conference is designed for individuals and
companies who are part of the heavy-duty vehicle industry -
manufacturers, suppliers, and technology developers - as well as users
of heavy-duty vehicles.
For more information and to register, please visit:
Faster Freight - Cleaner Air 2007
February 26-28, 2007
Long Beach Convention Center
Faster Freight - Cleaner Air 2007 (FFCA 2007)
will highlight solutions and resources to improve operations and reduce
air emissions from the goods movement industry while creating healthy
communities. FFCA returns to the Long Beach Convention Center adjacent
to the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, together the nation's
largest gateway for the import and export of cargo.
For more information and to register, please see:
Alternative Fuels & Vehicles Conference + Expo
April 1-4, 2007
The 13th national Alternative Fuels and Vehicles Conference and Expo
will offer information, resources and products to help shape
transportation decisions for fleets. The conference will feature the
latest policy and technical developments related to alternative fuels
such as ethanol, biodiesel; alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs),
hybrid-electric and plug-in hybrid technologies; blends, including
hydrogen; fuel cells; and idle-reduction devices.
For more information and to register, please visit:
Transportation Program is eager to learn about your clean vehicle
fleet/efforts. If you are in the process of procurement, or if you
already operate heavy or light-duty vehicles that produce fewer
emissions and consume less fuel than conventional diesel or gasoline
powered vehicles, let us know if we haven’t heard – and told -- your
story! We’ll post this information on our website and include it in
future editions of Clean Motion!
Send this information to EESI at transportation [at] eesi.org or call 202-662-1883. More information can be mailed to 122 C St., NW, Suite 630, Washington, DC 20001.
|Clean Motion is a free
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activities related to the deployment of low-polluting, energy-efficient
transportation in the United States. Topics include technology
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