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The Week in Sustainable Transportation (3/5/06)
Mike Millikin, 4 Mar 06

mitsubishi-concept-ez-miev-20060130050924101.jpgMike Millikin covers the ongoing evolution of personal transportation at Green Car Congress

The Attorneys General of 12 states, along with several major metropolitan cities, one island government and a number environmental groups have petitioned the Supreme Court to review a federal appeals court case involving EPA's regulation of the emission of greenhouse gases from automobiles.

The coalition, led by Massachusetts, is asking the court to review a decision issued last year by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. EPA. That ruling let stand the Environmental Protection Agency’s refusal to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. (GCC.)

The US Department of Energy (DOE) released reports projecting that state-of-the-art techniques for enhanced oil recovery with CO2 (EOR-CO2) could significantly increase recoverable oil resources of the United States by a factor of four or more. That would, in effect, double the efficiency of US oil recovery from 33% to more than 60%. According to the findings, 89 billion barrels or more could eventually be added to the current remaining US proven reserves of 21.4 billion barrels. (GCC.)

A study by researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder has determined that the Antarctic ice sheet, which harbors 90 percent of Earth’s ice, has lost significant mass in recent years—most of it from the West Antarctic ice sheet. This is the first study to indicate the total mass balance of the Antarctic ice sheet is in significant decline. The estimated ice loss in Antarctica is equivalent to 0.4 ± 0.2 mm/year of global sea rise, with a margin of error of 0.2 millimeters, according to the study, which appears online in Science Express. (GCC.)

The Republican chairman and Democrat ranking member of the US Senate Finance Committee introduced legislation to increase significantly tax incentives for business owners who buy fuel-efficient alternative-energy vehicles—just as they now receive incentives for the purchase of SUVs. (GCC.)

Sales of full-size SUVs in the US continued their decline in February, dropping 14% to 103,566 units from 120,376 units sold in February 2005. For the combined first two months of the year, sales of full-size SUVs dropped 11% from 216,485 units to 192,810. Within the shrinking segment, however, GM is dramatically increasing its marketshare. Although sales of GM’s full-size SUVs decreased in total by 2.1% February to February, its market share of the full size SUV segment increased from 49.5% to 56.3%. (GCC.)


Toyota will put the 2007 Lexus GS 450h, the world’s first luxury performance hybrid sedan, on sale in early May with a base price of $54,900. The GS 450h uses a completely new powertrain that combines a 3.5-liter V6 engine with a new compact, high-output, permanent magnet electric motor that drives the rear wheels. The combined powertrain delivers output of 339 hp (253 kW)—essentially the performance of a modern V8 engine— with estimated fuel economy of 28 mpg, an estimated 33% better fuel efficiency than its V8 competitors. (GCC.)

Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) has donated 10 prototype Tribute Hybrid Electric Vehicles to the Orange County (California) Fire Authority (OCFA). The Tribute Hybrid is based on the technology of the Ford Escape Hybrid. (GCC.)

Two West Swiss natural gas companies—Holdigaz SA and Gaznat SA—have retrofit a stock Toyota Prius with a natural gas fuel system. The resulting bi-fuel Prius II CNG is on display at the Geneva auto show. When operating on natural gas, the Prius reduces its carbon dioxide emissions from 104 g/km to only 92 g/km. (GCC.)

The California Cars Initiative ( will publicly convert a Toyota Prius hybrid into a plug-in hybrid during the inaugural Make magazine Maker Faire, April 22-23. Over two days, CalCars engineers, along with a cadre of volunteers, will build and install a battery pack and make hardware and software adjustments to the stock Toyota Prius. (GCC.)

Ford’s Land Rover is showcasing a range of new technologies including a new mild hybrid drive—collectively known as the e-Terrain System—that, as an integrated system, can reduce both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by up to 30%. (GCC.)

EurotaxGlass’s, a leading supplier of automotive business intelligence in Europe, asserts that the market for gasoline-electric hybrids in Europe will only flourish if vehicle manufacturers launch greater numbers of vehicles into volume-selling segments where buyers are more concerned about fuel efficiency rather than the higher-powered luxury and SUV segments. The company says the prospect of lower fuel consumption will be vital in boosting sales of hybrids, helping to repay manufacturer investment in the technology. (GCC.)


Orion VII series-hybrid buses operated by New York City Transit (NYCT) on the city’s most severe duty cycles achieved up to 45% better fuel economy than diesel buses and 100% improvement compared to comparable natural gas buses on an energy-equivalent basis, according to the results of a study released by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). (GCC.)

Enova Systems announced today that it is working with and evaluating hybrid drive systems for International Truck and Engine Corporation (International). Enova confirmed it delivered a post-transmission 120 kW parallel hybrid-electric drive application in an International 4200-series medium-duty truck to the company in November 2005. (GCC.)

The city of Fresno, California, has ordered a heavy-duty plug-in series-hybrid CNG refuse truck from Odyne Corporation—the first of its kind. Odyne will modify a new Autocar Refuse Collection Truck with the new fuel system and series-hybrid plug-in drive. The CNG plug-in hybrid will be used for in-service demonstration and monitoring in its municipal special collection fleet. (GCC.)


GM unveiled the Saab Aero X two-seater sports coupé concept at the Geneva motor show. The Aero X features a new 400 hp (298 kW), twin-turbo, BioPower V6 engine that is fueled entirely by ethanol (E100). With carbon fiber bodywork, electronically-controlled suspension and all-wheel drive, the Saab Aero X is projected to accelerate from zero to 100 kph in just 4.9 seconds with a top (limited) speed of 250 kph (155 mph). Although optimized for E100, the engine management system will make adjustments for any gasoline-ethanol blend. (GCC.)

Ohio Governor Bob Taft has announced a number of initiatives to utilize state resources as energy sources. The most immediate are plans to expand the state’s production and use of ethanol and biodiesel. (GCC.)

Currently, the emissions requirements for facilities that produce ethanol for human consumption (beverage ethanol) are more lenient than those for facilities that produce fuel ethanol, although the processes are similar. Corn milling facilities that produce fuel have a cap of 100 tons per year of air pollutants before triggering the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permitting program; corn milling facilities that produce beverage ethanol have a cap of 250 tons per year. The EPA has proposed applying the same air permitting requirements for facilities that produce ethanol for fuel or human consumption, but has chosen the higher cap (250 t/year) rather than the lower (100 t/year). (GCC.)


Mitsubishi Motors introduced the Concept-EZ MIEV 4WD mono-box electric concept car at the 76th Geneva International Motor Show. The Concept-EZ MIEV (Mitsubishi In-wheel motor Electric Vehicle) showcases another application of the company’s MIEV concept for next-generation electric vehicles using in-wheel motors and a high energy-density lithium-ion battery system as core technologies. The four 20 kW motors deliver a combined maximum output of 80 kW (107 hp) and combined torque of 1,600 Nm. The use of the in-wheel motor also allows for a “wheel-at-a-corner” layout for high-stability road-hugging. (GCC.)

Maxwell Technologies is introducing 16 new Power-type BOOSTCAP ultracapacitor cells and multi-cell modules specifically designed and constructed for demanding automotive and transportation applications. The new line of Power products includes cells ranging in capacitance from 320 to 2,600 farads and 10 fully integrated modules based on the new cells. (GCC.)


A multinational team (primarily Canadian and Brazilian) is targeting a world distance record in a solar-powered electric vehicle The Power of One (xof1) project is planning a 22,900-kilometer (14,230-mile) run, mainly through Canada. The tour would start in Toronto, then head east to St.John’s (Atlantic ocean), west to Victoria (Pacific Ocean), north to Inuvik (Arctic ocean) and back again. (GCC.)


The Mayor of London plans to introduce 70 new hydrogen vehicles to London by 2010 and is asking the transport industry to get ready to deliver the necessary vehicles and refueling technology. (GCC.)

The European fuel-cell bus projects CUTE (Clean Urban Transport for Europe) and ECTOS (Ecological City Transport System) will be continued in combination for an additional year. Seven of the original ten cities operating Mercedes-Benz Citaro fuel-cell buses in regular service—Amsterdam, Barcelona, Hamburg, London, Luxembourg, Madrid and Reykjavik—have decided to continue the project with a total of 27 buses through the end of 2006. (GCC.)

Toyota and Hino (the heavy-duty vehicle subsidiary of Toyota) will put a FHCV fuel-cell hybrid bus into limited service for two weeks on a route near the Chubu Centrair International Airport near Nagoya, Japan. (GCC.)

General Motors now expects to introduce hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles into dealerships in the next four to nine years. GM says that it has made major steps toward developing a commercially-viable fuel cell vehicle, and that it expects it will be able to “equal or better gas engines in terms of cost, durability and performance” once it is able to ramp up volume to at least 500,000 vehicles a year. (GCC.)

GreenShift Corporation announced its formation of General Ultrasonics Corporation, a development stage company that owns patented technologies that use ultrasonic energies to enhance physical and chemical reactions including more efficient steam reformation to produce hydrogen. GreenShift claims that its technology, acquired in its recent acquisition of H2 Energy Solutions, can reduce the temperatures required for the standard steam methane reforming by 25%, and even greater gains compared to partial oxidation processes (POX). (GCC.)

The US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has awarded licenses to manufacture thin-film fiber-optic hydrogen sensors to Nuclear Filter Technology (NucFil). NucFil will manufacture the thin-film fiber-optic hydrogen sensors and integrated them into safety sensors for nuclear waste packages, automobiles, industrial plants and anywhere else hydrogen may be present. (GCC.)


Volkswagen's new Polo Bluemotion uses a modified version of the 3-cylinder 1.4-liter TDI diesel engine in the conventional Polo to produce the same power output—59 kW (79 hp)—and torque—195 Nm—but with a reduction in fuel consumption of 11% (0.5 liters/100km) to 3.9 liters/100km (60 mpg US). Emissions of CO2 drop by 13% from 119 g/km to 103 g/km. (GCC.)

Loremo AG introduced the Loremo LS, a 1.5 l/100km (157 mpg US) diesel passenger car. The Loremo LS ( Low Resistance Mobile Light and Simple) combines lightweight design (450 kg / 992 lb) with a two-cylinder 15 kW (20 hp) turbo-diesel engine to deliver speeds up to 160 km/h (100 mph). (GCC.)


Bosch is supplying the spray-guided gasoline direct-injection system for the new Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 CGI as well as for an upcoming 1.6-liter engine being produced by BMW and PSA for application in the Mini, among others. The use of GDI systems improves combustion management and fuel efficiency over port-injection systems; spray-guided GDI provides the highest degree of control and combustion optimization. (GCC.)

At the Geneva auto show, BMW introduced a new bi-turbo six-cylinder spray-guided direct-injection engine that will be applied in a new car to be announced within two months. The increased fuel efficiency provided by the spray-guided injection system compensates for the usual increase in fuel consumption resulting from the application of a turbocharger in an engine of a given displacement. This marks BMW's return the gasoline turbo-charging—a technology it dropped years ago over concerns over fuel consumption coupled with rising fuel prices. (GCC.)

Chrysler unveiled the Dodge Hornet sub-compact concept car at the Geneva show. The car, if turned into a production model, would compete with the likes of the Toyota Yaris. (GCC.)

G&K Auto Conversio is completing the conversion of several hundred Smart Cars at its facility in Santa Ana, California to be purchased and distributed in the US by ZAP. Separately, however, DaimlerChrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche said that the company is leaning in favor of itself launching the Smart minicar brand in the United States. (GCC.)


DKRW will use GE’s coal gasification technology in its proposed Medicine Bow, Wyoming coal-to-liquids (CTL) plant. The first phase of the Medicine Bow project is designed to produce approximately 11,000 bpd of Fischer-Tropsch diesel and other fuels from Carbon Basin coal. (GCC.)

Sasol, the South African energy company and leader in coal-to-liquids (CTL) and gas-to-liquids (GTL) production, is investing R200 million (US$32 million) in the construction of an innovative Fischer-Tropsch design reactor at its research and development facilities in Sasolburg, South Africa. The reactor will support the engineering design of the next generation of Fischer-Tropsch reactors. (GCC.)

Chevron Corporation has acquired five oil sands leases in the Athabasca region of northern Alberta, spanning more than 180,000 acres and possessing an estimated 7.5 billion barrels of oil in place. The company hopes to be producing 100,000 barrels of oil a day within 10 years from the project. (GCC.)


The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing standards to reduce hazardous air pollutants from mobile sources. Hazardous air pollutants, also known as air toxics, include benzene and other hydrocarbons such as 1,3-butadiene, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acrolein, and naphthalene. The proposed regulations require refiners to meet an annual average gasoline benzene content standard of 0.62% by volume on all their gasoline, both reformulated and conventional, nationwide beginning in 2011. The national benzene content of gasoline today is about 0.97%. (GCC.)

Researchers in the Megacity Impacts of Regional and Global Environments (MIRAGE) are undertaking a month-long investigation of air pollution as it flows downwind from Mexico City. This will represent one of the most complex projects yet undertaken in atmospheric chemistry. The scientists expect that their assessment of the pollution’s impact on regional and global air quality, climate and ecosystems will be applicable to megacities—cities with 10 million or more inhabitants—in locations around the world. (GCC.)


Ventilated automotive seats not only can improve passenger comfort but also a vehicle’s fuel economy by reducing the power need for air conditioning, according to a study done by the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). (GCC.)

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Woof! Where can I get a Loremo LS? Yea, I know -- NOT in North America...

Posted by: Jan Steinman on 8 Mar 06



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