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The Week in Green Vehicles
Mike Millikin, 26 Dec 04

Every Sunday, Green Car Congress' Mike Millikin gives us an update on the week's sustainable mobility news. Green Car Congress is by far the best resource around for news and analysis covering the ongoing evolution of personal transportation. Take it away, Mike:

Approaching the end of the month—and year—GM and Ford are giving signals that sales aren’t going to be what they’d hoped for. Merril Lynch is estimating that the two will have to cut production in the first quarter even further than anticipated. Toyota, Honda and Nissan, by contrast, are having a good month. Both Toyota and Honda have indicated that they expect to increase production and sales next year from 7-8%.

While some of that additional growth will come from their hybrids and alternative-fueled vehicles, a large amount will also come from the trucks and SUVs the Japanese are beginning to ply with much greater success.

Diesel hybrid buses received another boost this week, with GM delivering 12 to Albuquerque. Pittsburgh received funding to buy six.

Toyota, for its part, ran a modified Landspeed Prius to a hybrid record 130.794 mph at Bonneville, proving that being hybrid doesn’t mean being a wimp. (GCC) Presumably that’s for the broader US audience that might consider a hybrid but worries about not having enough power. (There’s always the zippy—although less fuel-efficient—hybrid Accord for those.)

Honda is leasing one of its FCX fuel cell vehicles to Hokkaido Prefecture in Japan. (GCC) Like its earlier lease of the FCX to New York State, the Hokkaido lease will test the cold-weather capabilities of the proprietary fuel cell stack.

The Dodge Ram Hybrid (the “Contractors’ Special”) is in production. This is a diesel mild-hybrid, in which the electric alternator/generator/motor provides propulsion power as well as handling tasks such as stop-start. Dodge did not downsize the diesel in this model. The HEV can deliver up to a 15% reduction in fuel consumption—somewhat at the low end of what one might expect from a hybrid design. (GCC)

Finally, Hyundai is introducing new Euro 4 diesel engines earlier than anticipated. The new engines will begin showing up in models next year. (GCC)

On the fuels front, Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel is beginning to appear in more news. In Denver, the transit authority resolutely held to its position of selecting ULSD-burning buses over CNG. (GCC)Clean Diesel Technologies created its own B20 blend using its own fuel combustion catalyst and ULSD to deliver reduction of up to 51% of PM and up to 9% of NOx over conventional #2 diesel. (GCC)

The Canadian government has started regularly using bioethanol (ethanol derived from cellulosic biomass with the help of recombinant DNA-produced enzymes. (GCC) India is planning large-scale cultivation of biodiesel feedstock plants. (GCC)

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