May 17, 2011 (From the CalCars-News archive)
In our third extended post, we cover issues about government funding, benefits, tax policy, and materials shortages, and then we switch gears to bring you the latest developments about prospects for companies working to convert internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEs) to PHEVs and EVs.
GERMANY AND CHINA COMMIT TO BILLIONS OF DOLLARS FOR PEVs.
Germany wants a million by 2020; China sees five million by then. See stories at http://green.autoblog.com/2011/05/11/germany-ready-to-spend-billions-of-euros-to-support-plug-in-ve/ and http://www.detnews.com/article/20110509/AUTO01/105090354/1148/Asian-power-embraces-advanced-tech-vehicles
TOO EARLY TO PUT ROAD TAXES ON PLUG-IN CARS: Ignoring every existing subsidy to ICE vehicles and failing to recognize we have a bigger problem in fixing our infrastructure, legislators in Washington State and elsewhere want taxes that will discourage nascent plug-ins. Op-ed by plug-in advocates Steve Marshall and Dan Davids: http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20110213/OPINION04/702139995/-1/OPINION . News report: http://news.opb.org/article/big-carmaker-opposes-road-tax-electric-cars/. GM's position: http://www.thefutureiselectric.com/2011/04/washington-legislature-pushing-for-tax-on-evs-incentive-on-gasoline/
LITHIUM & RARE EARTH METALS: Materials scarcity is a growing concern. "Lithium: The Lightweight Champion" says there's plenty of that mineral. The video comes from the TREM Center (Technology and Rare Earth Minerals), part of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, which earlier spun off Set America Free and in 2006 helped CalCars bring PHEVs to Congress. We consider ourselves knowledgeable about this topic; still, we learned a lot in eight minutes. http://www.youtube.com/user/TREMCenter#p/a/u/1/ZyJW3Zp6_qw And read about a new electric motor from Remy (you may know the company as Remy Delco) that uses no rare earth metals. http://gm-volt.com/2011/05/02/remy-ev-motor-reduces-dependence-on-foreign-rare-earth-supplies/
BEST STRATEGY FOR ETHANOL: A comprehensive study in Science Magazine shows that burning biomass in power plants to power plug-ins yields 80% more distance per unit of crop land (and half the CO2) than using it as an engine fuel. http://spectrum.ieee.org/green-tech/advanced-cars/burning-biomass-to-charge-electric-vehicles-beats-fueling-cars-with-ethanol
NEW STUDY ON PLUG-IN VEHICLES AND GRID BALANCING: "Bucks for balancing: can plug-in vehicles of the future extract cash--and carbon--from the power grid?" Report discusses vehicle-to-grid, its forerunner, vehicle-to-building, and related topics in this major analysis by Ricardo and British-based international electrical distributor National Grid. http://www.greencarcongress.com/2011/05/balancing-20110510.html
HYBRIDS, SERVICE JOBS & RESALE VALUES: Closer to home, San Francisco's Luscious Garage tells the story of the company's expanded night shift to service hundreds of hybrid taxis in San Francisco http://lusciousgarage.com/blog/hybrid_taxi_repair/. Not that non-taxi-hybrids need all that much service: in the wake of rising gas prices and the post-Tsunami production interruption, both new and used Priuses are now commanding a premium, which bodes well for future plug-in car resale values: http://content.usatoday.com/communities/driveon/post/2011/05/toyotas-prius-selling-above-sticker-price-at-some-dealers/1 .
FUEL CELL CARS RECEDE FURTHER: NPR reports frustration among remaining hydrogen advocates as the market (and the US government) respond to the reality that "battery cars are getting cheaper faster." http://www.npr.org/2011/04/19/135518929/automakers-try-to-sell-government-on-fuel-cell-cars
CALSTART'S E-TRUCK TASK FORCE: The highly-regarded Calstart expands its focus on medium-and-heavy duty truck electrification. We hope it will increase its attention to retrofit strategies. http://www.greencarcongress.com/2011/04/ettf-20110429.html
ALTE'S NEW FLYER: In CalCars-News on April 7, we described ALTe's partnership with industry leader Manheim to convert pickup trucks. Shortly thereafter, the company brought its F-150 pickup to Sacramento, where it introduced the opportunities of gas-guzzler conversions. ALTe reports that "Nine state elected officials, including Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom and Senate Pres. Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg dropped by. More than a dozen Department officials, including Cal EPA Acting Secretary Linda Adams, dozens of environmental lobbyists, EV entrepreneurs, legislative Chiefs of Staff, and potential fleet customers" also showed up. The next day, ALTe brought its show to Silicon Valley. See a team photo at http://www.calcars.org/photos-groups.html and download ALTe's brochure (including financial projections for fleet owners) at http://www.calcars.org/altellc-brochure-april2011.pdf or from the link at http://www.calcars.org/ice-conversions.html#ae
QUANTUM'S FORD F-150 PHEV: Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies has jumped into the emerging gas-guzzler conversions world with a design to convert the popular pickup truck to a 35-mile range plug-in hybrid. The conversion is focused on fleet customers. Quantum is a long-time systems integrator; the Irvine, CA company built PHEV versions of the Ford Escape SUV in 2007. http://green.autoblog.com/2011/05/10/quantum-details-its-35-mile-electric-range-plug-in-hybrid-ford-f/
AMP DELIVERS FIRST CONVERTED SUV TO ICELAND COMPANY: AMP Electric Vehicles of Ohio delivered an electric Mercedes-Benz ML 350 to Northern Lights Energy, and says it's the first of 1,000 vehicles to be converted, including Chevy Equinoxes and others, that could result from a new contract. http://green.autoblog.com/2011/05/11/amp-delivers-first-all-electric-mercedes-benz-ml-350-to-nle/
MOTIV EXPLORES TRUCK/BUS RETROFITS: This Bay Area startup focused on vehicle energy management has a $1.3M state grant to turn a luxury Bauer shuttle bus into a 100-mile EV. Motiv plans to follow up with a 12-vehicle test fleet. http://gigaom.com/cleantech/for-a-better-electric-truck-mix-match-battery-packs
US AGENCY MAKING CONVERSIONS EASIER: The Environmental Protection Agency has updated its rules to encourage converting vehicles to cleaner fuels. The new regulations that take vehicle age into account are mostly driven by the strong forces promoting conversions from gasoline to natural gas. (There's still no equivalent campaign for large vehicle electrification retrofits.) Story and press release at http://green.autoblog.com/2011/04/05/epa-streamlines-alt-fuel-conversions-with-amended-regulations/. A California perspective on NG conversions : http://www.latimes.com/business/autos/la-fi-autos-natural-gas-20110505,0,407082.story And an update from the Wall Street Journal about the constituencies and pitfalls for converting large trucks to natural gas (story doesn't mention fracking or CO2): http://on.wsj.com/m4LFzw