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. Take it away, Mike:
Assisted by the first sales of the Toyota Highlander Hybrid, June posted the second-highest levels of hybrid sales yet, with 19,223 units sold. This is behind only April 2005, with its 20,974 units.
For the first six months of 2005, hybrid sales rose to 92,558, some 2.5 times the 36,276 sold during the first six months of 2004.
The Highlander Hybrid leapt to second place among all hybrids sold, with 2,869 units posted during its first month. Toyota's Prius continued its market-leading sales trajectory, with 9,622 cars sold. The Lexus RX400h hybrid came in with 2,605 units sold.
Combined, Toyota's hybrids accounted for 79% of the hybrids sold in June, with the Prius alone accounting for 50% of that. (GCC)
At the same time, however, heavy discounting by GM pushed its sales up 41% in June compared to the prior year to deliver the best overall sales month since September 1986. Countering the trend still experienced by other automakers, GM SUVs turned in an even more aggressive 66% improvement in sales. (GCC)
For the first six months of 2005, sales of hybrids increased more than 2.5 times from the prior year to 92,558. Sales of full-size SUVs in the first six months of 2005 dropped 10.6% to 815,617—some 8.8 times the level of hybrid sales.
After pushing close to $61 per barrel, the price of oil closed at $57.26 on Friday.
CalCars, the non-profit organization that dramatically increased awareness of the potential of plug-in hybrids (PHEV)/"Gas-Optional" hybrids (GO-HEV) simply by just doing it and converting a standard Prius to a plug-in Prius, is planning a commercial spin-off for plug-in conversions. (GCC)
Azure Dynamics, which recently delivered hybrid prototypes to the USPS is building two parallel-hybrid medium-duty Class 7 delivery trucks for Chalmers-Sunbelt, a leading beverage distributor.
Azure will install parallel-hybrid drive systems into two diesel-powered Kenworth T300s. The hybrids will then undergo trials gauging fuel efficiency and emissions performance as part of Charmer-Sunbelt's New York City fleet of more than 250 delivery trucks. The trucks will operate within New York City's five boroughs and western Nassau County. (GCC)
The Birmingham (UK) Chamber of Commerce is funding a Hybrid Electric Vehicles Technology Transfer Centre (HEV TTC), supported by the automotive investment initiative "Accelerate," and managed by MIRA, experts in vehicle engineering and testing.
The purpose of the center is to help West Midlands-based Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in responding to the business opportunities in the growing HEV market. West Midlands auto supply chain SMEs were particularly hard hit by the recent collapse of Rover. (GCC)
The Corolla Verso will become the second Toyota car, after the Avensis, to receive the new 177-hp (130-kW) 2.2-liter D-4D Clean Power diesel engine.
That configuration will also be equipped with the Toyota D-CAT (Toyota Diesel Clean Advanced Technology) emissions control system which simultaneously reduces both Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) and Particulate Matter (PM) emissions to better than Euro-4 standards. (GCC)
Renault has introduced its third-generation version of the Clio (Clio III). Configured with the mid-range 1.5-liter diesel, the Clio III offers fuel consumption of 4.4 liters /100km (53.5 mpg US) combined, and CO2 emissions of 117 g/km. (GCC)
The 2005 Ricardo Diesel Report predicts a significant rise in US light-duty diesel market penetration over the coming decade. Sales in the light-duty vehicle segment (up to 8,500 pounds gross vehicle weight) are projected to grow from a mere 43,000 units last year to more than 1 million units annually by 2012, rising to 1.5 million by 2015.
Those projections are approximately in agreement with the projections released by J.D. Power earlier in the week for a diesel sales share of 7.5% in 2012. (GCC)
A new study of CO2 emissions, cropland area requirements, and other environmental consequences of corn- and sugarcane- ethanol production in the US and Brazil concludes that despite the net energy and CO2 benefits offered by the fuel, using ethanol as a full substitute for gasoline is neither sustainable nor environmentally friendly once the ecological footprint values are factored in.
The researchers also concluded, however, that as part of a diverse energy and fuel portfolio of alternatives to petroleum, " the ethanol option probably should not be wholly disregarded." (GCC)
Diversa Corporation and Valley Research, Inc. have launched a new alpha-amylase enzyme designed to improve the efficiency and economics of corn ethanol production.
Developed by Diversa and marketed by Valley Research, the new enzyme operates at high temperature and at a lower pH than other commercially available enzymes--a combination grain ethanol producers have been seeking for years.
Southern California Edison (SCE) took possession of a hydrogen fuel cell-powered DaimlerChrysler F-Cell for operation and testing.
This F-Cell is not one of the new, higher-powered, longer-ranged B-class-based vehicles DaimlerChrysler introduced at the Geneva show in March, but the earlier A-class-based vehicle. (GCC)
And Honda is leasing its FCX fuel cell car to the world's first individual customers, the Spallino family of Redondo Beach, California.
The Spallinos, who signed a two-year lease, will drive the FCX in everyday normal use, including the work commute from Redondo Beach to Irvine (approximately 41 miles each way over the 405). Honda chose the Spallinos for the test in part because they already own a CNG-fueled Honda Civic GX and are more accustomed to dealing with a limited number of fueling stations. (GCC)
Nanostructured materials are the basis for two research projects investigating the solar production of hydrogen and hydrogen storage.
Researchers from UC Santa Cruz, the University of Georgia and Nomadics are developing a device that integrates two kinds of solar cells--a photovoltaic cell to produce electricity and a photoelectrochemical cell to produce hydrogen from the electrolysis of water.
Both will use specially designed materials based on arrays of nanowires with uniform orientation. The main focus of the project will be on developing these nanostructured materials to optimize the efficiency of both the photovoltaic cell and the photoelectrochemical cell. (GCC)
An international research consortium has successfully built a 300-kW pilot plant that uses solar energy to reduce zinc oxide to zinc.
The zinc can be used in zinc-air batteries or be used to produce hydrogen by reacting it with water vapor. In both cases the zinc recombines with oxygen and zinc oxide is produced, which can be reused in the solar reactor to produce zinc once more.
In essence, the process stores solar energy in a transportable metal carrier that then can release the energy as electricity or hydrogen. (GCC)
Degussa AG, one of the world's largest specialty chemical companies, and the Japanese Lithium-ion battery company ENAX are setting up a joint venture in China to develop and manufacture lithium-ion battery electrodes. Both partners will hold a 50% stake.
With the JV's electrodes, Degussa will to expand its portfolio to include another important component for manufacturing lithium-ion batteries. Degussa is targeting large format applications for its separator--i.e., full electric and hybrid electric vehicles, light electric vehicles such as bikes and scooters, APUs and specialty applications (aerospace, military). (GCC)
Fuji Heavy Industries (makers of Subaru) has purchased the Electric Double Layer Capacitor (ultracapacitor) business from Kanebo Ltd for an estimated 100 million (approximately US$900,000), according to reports in the Japanese business press.
According to Nikkei Business, Fuji Heavy Industries plans to start commercial production of the ultracapacitor device before the end of 2010, and to sell the product to other companies, in addition to using it for its own vehicles. (GCC)
Initial test results from the ZAP-Advanced Battery Technology (ABAT) partnership confirmed significant increases in range for ZAP's electric vehicles using ABAT's lithium-ion polymer batteries.
The results encouraged Steve Schneider, CEO of ZAP, to speculate about the possibility of an electric version of the Smart Car. (ZAP sells an imported and Americanized version of DaimlerChrysler's gasoline-powered smart.) (GCC)
The 2005 Professor Ferdinand Porsche Preis--awarded for work which will have a lasting influence of the development of the automobile--recently went to Dr Wolfgang Steiger (Volkswagen) and Dr Wolfgang Warnecke (Shell) for their development of synthetic fuels from natural gas (GTL) and biomass (BTL).
The Fischer-Tropsch synthetic fuel now produced by Shell in Malaysia was tested, defined and optimized for the requirements of the automobile in cooperation with Volkswagen Group Research. (GCC)
This lithium-ion battery powered car has a range 200 km and a top speed of 370km/h on a four-minute charge.
Tuesday, July 5, 2005
Japan's First Eight-Wheel Electric Car Hits Road
TOKYO (Nikkei)--A new high-performance eight-wheel electric car hit public roads Tuesday for the first time.
Called the Eliica, the vehicle was developed jointly by Keio University and about 30 companies, including Eneserve Corp. (6519) and Daiwa House Industry Co. (1925). It has 75% better fuel efficiency than standard gasoline-powered cars and can accelerate to 160kph in just seven seconds, about 2.2 seconds faster than conventional upscale sports cars, university and company sources claim.
Plans call for producing about 200 of the cars in 2008.
The silver five-seater is about 5 meters long and 2 meters wide. It has four front and four rear wheels, which are designed to enhance stability when cornering. Its license plate number is 370, signifying its maximum speed of 370kph.
The Eliica can run for 200km on a four-minute charge of its lithium-ion battery, much better performance than with existing electric cars, which cannot go as far despite requiring considerably longer charge times.
The companies and the university research team, headed by professors Hiroichi Yoshida and Hiroshi Shimizu, hope to limit the price to within 30 million yen.
(The Nihon Keizai Shimbun Tuesday evening edition)
Battery and ultracapacitor vehicles can form a huge reserve power base for electric utilities. By plugging in the parked vehicle to a utility interactive inverter/charger, the energy storage in the vehicle can temper the variations in grid tie power coming from photovoltaics and wind. This enhances all the technologies and assists the utility to expand use of renewable solar and wind energy.