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The Week in Sustainable Vehicles (10/16/05)
Mike Millikin, 16 Oct 05

Against a backdrop of market research polls showing that rising gas prices are finally affecting driving and auto buying decisions (GCC), the EPA published its annual guide to fuel economy. (GCC)

EPA data indicates that total unweighted average combined fuel economy for all 2006 models has actually declined by 1% from the average combined fuel economy of the 2005 models, from 21.22 mpg to 20.99 mpg.

Average combined fuel economy worsened in a number of classes, with the largest drop being in compacts, which went from an average 25.84 mpg in 2005 to an average 24.63 mpg in 2006.

An analysis by, a provider of compensation-related data, applications, and services, found that the increase in gas prices will effectively wipe out the expected average salary increase (3.7%) for the average worker in the US in 2005. (GCC)


A software malfunction in the engine control module (ECM) system in models manufactured from August 2003 through February 2005 that can cause the engine to stall while driving has forced Toyota to recall 160,000 of its Prius hybrids worldwide. (GCC)

Toyota may introduce its high-end luxury Lexus LS hybrid at the Tokyo Motor Show this coming week. (GCC) Toyota will also show a new hydrogen fuel cell hybrid vehicle—the Fine-X ("Fuel cell INnovation Emotion eXperiment")—and an Estima Hybrid Concept minivan. (GCC)

Toyota also has begun purchasing electric motors for hybrid cars from Hitachi. This marks the automaker's first procurement of a key hybrid car component from a non-group firm.(GCC)

DaimlerChrysler is introducing its latest research vehicle, the F 600 HYGENIUS hydrogen fuel cell hybrid, at the upcoming Tokyo show. The F600 fuel cell powertrain has a maximum power output of 85 kW (115 hp) and a peak torque of 350 Nm. The fuel cell -- which is around 40% more compact than previously -- itself generates constant power output of 60 kW (82 hp) and 250 Nm torque. (GCC)

New York City transport services have ordered 500 more Orion VII series-hybrid-electric buses from DaimlerChrysler Commercial Buses North America. New York City Transit has ordered 216 units, and Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA Bus) 284. This represents the largest order for hybrid buses to date, and is the third order in New York City, complementing the prior orders of 200 units and 125 units respectively. (GCC)

The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA) has added one GM parallel hybrid diesel-electric bus to its mass transit fleet. (GCC)

Union Pacific Railroad has announced a project to help reduce diesel emissions in Texas over the next 10 years by introducing 111 low-emission, fuel-efficient and hybrid locomotives for yard operations in Houston/Galveston, Dallas/Ft. Worth and San Antonio. (GCC)


Smith Electric Vehicles has launched its new Faraday commercial electric vehicle (earlier post) and closed an initial deal with it. The company, a subsidiary of Tanfield Group, has signed a letter of intent to supply up to 800 milk delivery vehicles to Dairy Crest, the UK's leading chilled dairy foods company, over the next 3 years. The vehicles will be a mix of standard transit vehicles and, where commercially appropriate, the new Faraday. (GCC)


CalCars is working with Electro Energy Inc. (EEI) on a custom prototype battery pack based on the company's bi-polar NiMH batteries for use in CalCars's Prius+ plug-in hybrid testbed. The bi-polar design is more compact, exhibits higher power capability, and presumably will be lower in cost that the conventional cylindrical and prismatic designs. (GCC)

Johnson Controls, which last month launched a new development lab to support its accelerated lithium-ion work, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Saft to form a joint venture to develop, manufacture and sell NiMH and lithium-ion batteries for hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and electric vehicles globally. (GCC)


A Canadian public-private partnership has launched a C$18.3 million (US$15.5 million) project to develop and demonstrate solutions making use of an existing but currently untapped source of hydrogen fuel: waste hydrogen emitted as the by-product of a sodium chlorate manufacturing plant in the North Vancouver area. Through this project, which was first proposed in 2004, purified hydrogen could be used to fuel a fleet of up to 20,000 vehicles in the Vancouver area. (GCC)

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded a $900,000 grant over three years to professors Roger Ely and Frank Chaplen in Oregon State University's Department of Bioengineering to explore the hydrogen-generating potential of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae).

Under certain conditions, the cyanobacteria will produce hydrogen rather than sugars. The presence of oxygen, however, halts the production of hydrogen. With the grant, Ely and Chaplen hope to develop oxygen-tolerant strains of cyanobacteria that can produce hydrogen continuously. (GCC)

Ovonic Battery Company, a subsidiary of Energy Conversion Devices (ECD Ovonics), has been awarded a $900,000 contract by Xcel Energy to support R&D of a new base-facilitated process for reforming renewable fuels, such as bioethanol and biomethanol, to produce hydrogen for use in fuel cells or engines. This fundamentally new approach to hydrocarbon reforming dramatically reduces the required reaction temperature and the generation of CO2 as a byproduct. (GCC)

Ballard Power Systems, a pioneers in fuel cell technology, has fired its CEO, Dennis Campbell. The management change is a reflection of the much slower than anticipated commercialization of fuel cell technology. (GCC)

Taiwan's Asia Pacific Fuel Cell Technologies Ltd (APFCT) plans to commercialize its fifth-generation hydrogen fuel-cell scooter by 2007. The new 1.1 kW fuel cell in the ZES V increases the driving range of its predecessor by 33%, from 60 kilometers (37 miles) to 80 kilometers (50 miles), and supports a higher slightly higher top speed of 60 km/h (37 mph), compared to 52 km/h (32 mph) in the prior generation. (GCC)

Toyota Industries Corporation (TICO) has developed its own hydrogen fuel cell forklift. The vehicle can lift a maximum of 2,500 kilograms (5,500 pounds), the same as the company's existing electric forklift. (GCC)

Indian Oil Corporation has launched India's first Hydrogen-CNG (HCNG) fueling station at its R&D Centre at Faridabad near Delhi. (GCC)


Whole Foods Market (WFMI) is beginning a switch to a B20 biodiesel blend for its delivery trucks in the mid-west region that may become a catalyst for a company-wide switch to the fuel in the future. (GCC)

The city of Macon, Georgia, is switching to a 10% ethanol blend (E10) for gasoline-fueled vehicles in its fleet. (GCC)

Kwikpower International is licensing a process developed at Cambridge University that enables the continuous production of biodiesel using a mobile refinery. (GCC)

The Chinese government is defying criticism of its planned expansion of the use of ethanol in fuel, according to an official with the State Development and Reform Commission (SDRC). (GCC)

India's largest integrated sugar refinery is doubling its current ethanol production output from 18 million liters (4.8 million gallons US) per year to 36 million liters (9.5 million gallons US) per year by setting up a new 60,000 liters/day ethanol plant. (GCC)


DaimlerChrysler plans to resume selling diesel-powered passenger vehicles in Japan as early as fall 2006. The automaker discontinued sales of its diesel models in Japan in 2002. (GCC)


Sasol has announced that it is evaluating several new gas-to-liquids (GTL) and coal-to-liquids (CTL) opportunities in Algeria and the US over and above the ventures it is currently developing with partners in Qatar and Nigeria. (GCC)


The Port of Los Angeles is planning a major shift in purchasing road haul trucks and in-port cargo handling equipment that run on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), electric power and other alternative fuel sources such as hydrogen fuel cells and biofuels rather than conventional diesel. (GCC)

Cummins Westport and Dongfeng Cummins Engine Company Ltd. (DCEC) of China have signed a License Agreement enabling DCEC to manufacture CWI natural gas B-series engines in China. (GCC)

Fiat has launched its New Doblo Cargo light commercial vehicle with a CNG option. (GCC)

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Meanwhile, sales of the only truly sustainable vehicle are up, too.

Posted by: John Baxter on 17 Oct 05

More sustainable cars in the future is a great idea. But i don't agree on putting much weight on the selling price these hybrids pose to consumers. If saving gas is the sole reason in buying a hybrid..then it's more like buying a cheaper gas-powered car and patronizing costly gas. I can see there's not much difference on the amount of money spent for both type of cars.

On the brighter side of the story, having a hybrid can help save our planet and probably save more "in the long run". Read more: The Price of Being Green.

Posted by: Terry Brown on 17 Oct 05

If you truely want to set the industries ass on fire as far and energy eff and hybrid/new tech designs go what you have to do is put your money on the line.

For every 1% improvement in fuel eff for every class of car/truck/boat/snowmobile/rubber freaking ducky of doom chop 1% off all fees all income taxes on money spent and all sales taxes for that car or truck for ALL vehicles big and small.

Posted by: wintermane on 20 Oct 05



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