Clean Motion January 2007

January 2007

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Plug-Ins Electrify Detroit and Washington

On 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.

The 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).

Advances 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.

Late 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

California 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 2020.

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.

A 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

Modesto 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 after testing.

More information about Modesto’s new hybrid bus available at:

Amtrak Gets a Boost from Senate

Long 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 system.
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 Amtrak legislation.

The 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: (Type in S. 294 as bill number)

Wal-Mart and ArvinMeritor to Develop Hybrid Truck

Wal-Mart 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.

Dual-mode 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 market.

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

On 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.

In 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.

Unsurprisingly, 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: (Type S 183 for bill number)

Automakers Push for Battery Subsidies

The “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 battery research.

GM, which 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 hybrid.

DOE Announces Solicitation for Plug-Ins, E-85 Engines

With 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 Technologies Program.

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

Toyota 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

The 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.

Mayor 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.

  • Rep. 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).
  • Mayor 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.
  • Wynn 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 session.
  • Senator 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 bill.
  • Following 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.
  • FERC Commissioner Jon Wellinghoff discussed the payback potential of plug-ins if they are used to supply power to the grid.
  • Melissa 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.
  • Ed 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.
  • Tim 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.
More information about the National Plug-In Partners Campaign is available at:

Presentations from the briefing can be viewed at

Duke Develops “Best Bus” Decision-Support Tool

The 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.

“BEST 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


Study Suggests Lung Impairment from Freeway Pollution

New 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.

The 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 deep breath.

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.

According 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.

The 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 Hastings Foundation.

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
Anaheim, CA

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:

EESI’s 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] 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 monthly periodical providing an overview of current program and policy activities related to the deployment of low-polluting, energy-efficient transportation in the United States. Topics include technology developments, clean vehicle deployment, energy consumption, the environment, government policy, and public health. If there are issues we are missing and you think we should cover, please let us know.

The Environmental and Energy Study Institute is a non-profit organization established in 1984 by a bipartisan, bicameral group of members of Congress to provide timely information on energy and environmental policy issues to policymakers and stakeholders and develop innovative policy solutions that set us on a cleaner, more secure and sustainable energy path . EESI's valuable work in energy, climate change, agriculture, transportation and smart growth is made possible through financial support from people like you.

Your tax deductible contribution will help EESI develop innovative policy solutions for a cleaner, safer, healthier world. For more information, go to our website or contact EESI at transportation [at] or call 202-662-1883.