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This Week in Sustainable Transportation, 5/154/3
Mike Millikin, 15 May 05

Every Sunday, Green Car Congress' Mike Millikin gives us an update on the week's sustainable mobility news, looking at the ongoing evolution of personal transportation.

As the week endded, Toyota released its Fourth Environmental Action Plan for FY2006 through FY2010.

The Fourth Environmental Action Plan focuses on four major issues: 1) energy/global warming, 2) recycling of resources, 3) management of substances of concern and 4) atmospheric quality.

High on the agenda are a 20% worldwide reduction in production-related CO2 emissions from 2001 levels per sales unit. Toyota is also committing to achieveing the best fuel efficiency performance in each country and region with the goal of CO2 reduction.

There's some market relativism in that approach. While in Europe, the corporate commitment is to brining CO2 emissions down to 140g/km by 2009, in North America the goal is simply to achieve the best fuel efficiency among competing vehicles of the same class.

The plans also calls for a push on hybrids (improved performance, number of models, and more markets) and clean diesel. (GCC)


The prototype Prius Plug-in Hybrid developed by EnergyCS and Valence Technology will participate in the Tour de Sol Championship Race and Monte Carlo-style Rally this weekend.

EnergyCS replaced the original battery controller with its own design, added a charger so that the vehicle can be plugged into an electrical outlet (120V or 220V), and replaced the nickel-metal-hydride batteries with Valence?s lithium-ion system. The PHEV modified by EnergyCS offers full electric mode at speeds of up to 33 mph (53 km/h), and potential fuel economy of up to 180 miles per gallon for an average commute of 50-60 miles per day. (GCC)

Fuji Heavy Industries, the maker of Subaru vehicles, will postpone its release of a hybrid car in 2006 due to cost issues in its current design.

Fuji Heavy had been developing a hybrid car using its own powertrain, although the possibility of a Toyota-Fuji Heavy hybrid alliance emerged earlier this year.

The automaker is now reportedly turning to Toyota?s hybrid technology, with a revised plan of debuting the Subaru hybrid in 2008.(GCC)

As part of a national pilot program organized by the Hybrid Truck Users Forum (HTUF), Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) and PECO Energy of Philadelphia will be among the first utilities in the nation to test two new diesel series hybrid bucket trucks. Bucket trucks are also known as ?trouble trucks??utility work trucks with an aerial device.

The trucks are manufactured by International Truck and Engine Corporation and The initial powertrain couples an International in-line six-cylinder diesel engine with an Eaton hybrid-electric drivetrain, which includes transmission, batteries and electric motor.

The hybrid bucket trucks are targeted to improve fuel economy up to 60% compared to diesel-only fueled trucks.

When field personnel operate a diesel-powered bucket truck, the engine must remain on when employees use the bucket. The new hybrid truck allows the operator to shut off the diesel engine and operate the bucket on an electric motor for up to two hours before the engine has to come back on to briefly charge the battery. As a result, considerably less fuel is burned and noise is reduced. About two-thirds of the fuel savings result from the engine being shut off at the work site. (GCC)


Mitsubishi Motors announced that it will begin selling electric cars in Japan in 2010.

Mitsubishi will build its EVs with in-wheel motors and lithium-ion batteries, both of which the company has been working on for several years. Mitsubishi forsees using the Mitsubishi In-wheel motor Electric Vehicle (MIEV) concept in hybrids and fuel cell vehicles as well. (GCC)

The Delhi (India) government is studying a proposal to introduce a fleet of solar-powered battery electric buses in the city prior to hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2010. Reva Electric Car Company (earlier post) is developing a 16-seat prototype.

The Department of Science and Technology (DST) has offered to fund further research for developing 20- and 32-seat bus prototypes, as well as a prototype for three-wheelers. (GCC), the Campaign to Save Electric Cars, the organization which earlier tackled GM and Ford, is now campaigning against Toyota to save the RAV4 electric from the crusher. (GCC)


A joint study by the US Departments of Agriculture and Energy (USDA and DOE) has concluded that the land resources of the US could produce a sustainable supply of biomass sufficient to displace 30% or more of the country?s present petroleum consumption.

According to the report, transportation fuels from biomass could increase from 0.5% of US transportation fuel consumption in 2001 to 4% in 2010, 10% in 2020, and 20% in 2030.

The report does not address the technologies (such as greatly enhanced mechanisms for the production of cellulosic ethanol) required to be able to process all that biomass into petroleum replacement products such as fuel. (GCC)

The Indian government is likely to announce a comprehensive policy for the use of B20 biodiesel (20% biodiesel) in the country by August.

Jatropha appears to be the feedstock of choice because of its ability to thrive under a variety of geo-climatic conditions, its low gestation period and its high seed yield. (GCC)

The Springfield, Illinois, Mass Transit District (SMTD) is shifting its buses to an ethanol-diesel fuel blend. The blend from O2Diesel uses 7.7% ethanol, with up to 1% proprietary additive and a cetane improver. (GCC)


Three researchers, who contributed to the report prepared by the National Research Council and the National Academy of Engineering on the prospects for a hydrogen economy, conclude in new article that, if achievable, it will take ?several decades? to overcome technical challenges standing in the way of the mass production and use of hydrogen fuel cell cars.

If successful, an H2 economy and associated infrastructure will not be realized for several decades. Because success is not certain, it will be wise to maintain a robust portfolio of energy research and development that includes programs in areas other than H2.

The article, written by Rakesh Agrawal, Purdue University?s Winthrop E. Stone Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering, Martin Offutt, from the National Research Council, and Michael P. Ramage, a retired executive from ExxonMobil, appears in the June issue of the AIChE Journal, the publication of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. (GCC)

Air Products has selected Proton, a subsidiary of Distributed Energy Systems Corp., as the preferred supplier for its electrolysis-based hydrogen energy stations.

Under the supply agreement, Proton?s HOGEN hydrogen generators, which produce hydrogen from electricity and water using its proprietary PEM water electrolysis technology, will initially be used at three previously announced Air Products fueling stations to be placed in California in 2005. (GCC)

Nissan will begin to offer leases on limited numbers of fuel cell X-Trails in the United States within two years.


Toyota's fuel-efficient Vitz was Japan?s best-selling vehicle model in April.

Sales of the new version (earlier post), which Toyota began selling in February, tripled to 13,344 units last month, according to the Japan Automobile Dealers Association.

Toyota had set a goal of 10,000 units per month at the launch of the new version.

The new Vitz models offer 1.0-liter, 1.3-liter and 1.5-liter engines with VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing?intelligent) and continuously variable transmissions to provide higher performance while maintaining low fuel consumption. Toyota is also implementing its stop-start system—Intelligent Idling Stop System—in the redesigned Vitz. (GCC)

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Check out the paragraph right ABOVE Hydrogen.

Posted by: Jean-Paul on 16 May 05



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