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The Week in Sustainable Mobility
Mike Millikin, 9 Apr 06

image.jpg Mike Millikin covers the ongoing evolution of sustainable mobility at Green Car Congress.

In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week, Hillard Huntington, Executive Director of the Energy Modeling Forum (EMF), Stanford University, told the senators that based on its research, the EMF assesses that the probability of a major oil supply disruption (2 million barrels or more per day) lasting at least one month during the next ten years is approximately 80%. The EMF only assessed disruption resulting from geopolitical, military, and terrorist causes for disruptions outside of the US. It did not assess the potential for domestic and weather-related oil disruptions. (GCC.)

Canada’s Environment Minister Rona Ambrose says that it is impossible for Canada to reach its Kyoto target, and that Canada must set more realistic targets for cutting greenhouse gases. Citing unpublished government figures, Ambrose said Canada’s emissions have climbed by almost 30% since 1990. Under the Kyoto treaty, Canada is to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 6% below 1990 levels by the period between 2008 and 2012. (GCC.)

Sales of full-size SUVs dropped 28% in March from the same month the year before, from 145,918 units to 105,745. All automakers experienced the decline, although a very few models, notably the new GM Tahoe and the Ford Range Rover line-up, saw sharp increases in sales. Full-size SUVs represented 6.91% of the total 1,530,639 light-duty vehicles sold in March. General Motors increased its share of the full-size SUV segment in March to 64%, up from 55% in 2005. In other words, almost 2 out of every 3 full-size SUVs sold in March 2006 were from GM. (GCC.)

Aggregate sales of hybrid light-duty vehicles climbed in March to a total of 17,861 units, up 7.5% from 16,619 in March 2005. Total light-duty vehicle sales in the US dropped 2.9% for the same period. (Although total sales of passenger cars and light trucks both declined year-on-year, light trucks increased their percentage market share by .4 percentage points.) Hybrids represented 1.17% of the total 1,530,639 light-duty vehicles sold in March. (GCC.)

Japanese sales of new automobiles, excluding minivehicles, fell 0.7% to 3.913 million units in fiscal 2005, marking their third straight year of decline and the lowest total in the last 10 years. New car sales missed the 4 million mark for the second year in a row, according to data from the Japan Automobile Dealers Association. In contrast, minivehicle sales surged 3.6% to 1.94 million units, according to the Japan Mini Vehicles Association. This represented the third straight year of growth, topping the old record set six years ago. (GCC.)

LIGHT-DUTY HYBRIDS and PLUG-IN HYBRIDS

Dodge introduced the new, redesigned 2007 Durango at the Dallas Auto Show. The 2007 Durango, which offers HEMI MDS and E85 options, will be configured to be Chrysler Group’s first production hybrid system: the Dodge Durango Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV). Available in 2008, the Durango HEV will link the two-mode hybrid system, co-developed with GM and BMW, to the 5.7-liter HEMI V8-8 engine, providing an estimated 25% improvement in fuel economy. The current 2006 Durango with a 5.7-liter engine has an EPA fuel economy rating of 17 mpg (combined). (GCC.)

DENSO Corporation has developed three components for hybrid vehicles that are smaller, lighter, and deliver better performance: a DC-DC converter, a battery-monitoring unit, and a system main relay. Toyota is using these components in the new GS 450h hybrid. (GCC.)

Two utility companies, ComEd and PECO, have added more Ford Escape hybrids to their vehicle fleets. Each utility is a unit of Exelon Corporation. ComEd now has 49 hybrid SUVs in its fleet (30%), while PECO has 41 (more than 40% of its SUV fleet). (GCC.)

Greentomatocars has opened as the first all-hybrid private-hire car operation in London. The Hammersmith-based company has an all-Prius fleet and has begun a pilot operation in west London which it plans to roll out across the capital by the summer. (GCC.)

EnergyCS has delivered the first Toyota Prius sedan retrofitted with plug-in hybrid technology to California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) for testing and evaluation. EnergyCS and Clean-Tech formed a joint venture—EDrive—in 2005 to manufacture and market the retrofit, which will initially be installed and serviced by Clean-Tech. EnergyCS’s UK partner Amberja is also readying its plug-in Prius for commercial delivery this month. (GCC.)

Valeo’s micro-hybrid Starter-Alternator Reversible System (StARS) has won the 2006 PACE (Premier Automotive Suppliers' Contribution to Excellence) Award in the European Products category. The system can reduce fuel consumption by up to 12% in heavy stop and start driving, and is applied in the Citroën C2 and C3 Stop&Start models. (GCC.)

HEAVY-DUTY HYBRIDS

Parker Hannifin Corp. has introduced a new hydraulic hybrid drive system targeted at heavy-duty vehicles that do a lot of stop-and-go driving such as public buses, delivery and waste trucks. (GCC.)

BIOFUELS

The European Commission (EC) advanced formal proceedings against four European Union (EU) member states on Tuesday for failing to meet EU requirements under the biofuels directive. The EU has set a target of 5.75% biofuel use in fuel consumption by 2010 with an intermediate reference value of 2% in 2005. However, the share of biofuels in the EU gasoline and diesel market was only 0.6% in 2003 and still less than 1% in 2004, according to the Commission. (GCC.)

Distribution Drive, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Earth Biofuels, announced that terminal-blended biodiesel is now available to their customers in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Tanker trucks can now load biodiesel fully blended with petrodiesel at the Motiva Enterprises terminal in Dallas, thereby eliminating the need for two stops and reducing the transportation costs traditionally associated with the distribution of biodiesel blends. (GCC.)

The Indian state of Chhattisgarh will plant 160 million jatropha saplings in all its 16 districts this year with the aim of becoming a biofuel self-reliant state by 2015. (GCC.)

The Thai Energy Ministry is proceeding with a plan to encourage local biodiesel consumption to bolster demand for locally grown palm oil. Under a plan approved by the cabinet, B5 biodiesel (5% biodiesel, 95% petroleum diesel) will be made available countrywide by 2011, with B10 available by 2012. (GCC.)

Scientists at the US Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) are developing a process to derive sugars from citrus waste (i.e., the peels) which will then serve as the feedstock for ethanol production. (GCC.)

Great Lakes Brewing Company (GLBC) in Northeast Ohio has modified a beer delivery truck to run on recycled straight vegetable oil (SVO) (or waste vegetable oil—WVO). The heavy-duty truck joins GLBC’s “Fatty Wagon” shuttle, which operates on SVO and shuttles patrons to and from Cleveland Indians home games. (GCC.)

Arizona officials are working to modify state motor fuel laws to allow for the sale of E85 (85% ethanol, 15% gasoline fuel blend). (GCC.)

BATTERIES and ELECTRIC VEHICLES

Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide has acquired a 19.9% stake in Vancouver, British Columbia-based Advanced Lithium Power Inc. (ALP), a newly-formed company developing lithium-ion and advanced battery control systems. ALP’s systems control state-of-charge and provide for thermal management—its primary asset at this point is intellectual property. (GCC.)

Electro Energy (EEI), a developer of bi-polar wafer-cell technology for NiMH and Li-ion and associated systems, has closed on the purchase of significant battery manufacturing assets formerly owned by Energizer Power Systems located in Alachua, Florida, near Gainesville. (GCC.)

Lithium Technology Corporation is providing three lithium-ion battery systems via its wholly-owned German subsidiary GAIA Akkumulatorenwerke GmbH, to UK-based Zytek Systems for use in a diesel-electric plug-in series hybrid prototype of a four-door smart forfour. (GCC.)

HYDROGEN

The US Department of Energy will release later this month a three-year, $52.5-million solicitation to support research to assist in overcoming the scientific challenges associated with the production, use and storage of hydrogen. Areas supported will include novel materials for hydrogen storage, membranes for hydrogen purification and fuel-cell operation and for nanoscale catalysts for hydrogen production and fuel-cell electrochemical reactions. (GCC.)

Hy-Drive Technologies has sold 20 of its on-board hydrogen generating systems (HGS) to Canadian-based Mining Technologies International Inc. (MTI), as the initial order under a longer-term supply agreement. MTI is a leading manufacturer of mining equipment including trucks, loaders, underground utility vehicles as well as drilling equipment. The Hy-Drive system works by injecting small amounts of hydrogen gas, generated via an on-board electrolyzer, into the combustion chamber of a regular internal combustion engine. This creates an enriched air mixture and a more complete and faster burn which results in reduced emissions, improved fuel efficiency and more engine torque. (GCC.)

Hydrogen Engine Center (HEC) unveiled its new Mini Oxx three-cylinder 2.4L engine at the Aviation Industry Expo in Las Vegas, Nev. The Mini Oxx is a compact version of HEC’s Oxx Power six-cylinder 4.9L engine—the company’s basic product. (GCC.)

DaimlerChrysler has delivered the world’s first fuel-cell–powered police vehicle to the Wayne State University Police Department in Detroit. The Mercedes F-Cell will serve as a supervisor’s vehicle on and in the immediate vicinity of the campus. (GCC.)

DIESEL

Ford’s Dagenham Diesel Centre in the UK has developed and begun manufacturing of a new high-end twin-turbo 3.6-liter V8 diesel engine. Ford will announced vehicle applications for the new engine later this year along with further technical details. (GCC.)

Siemens VDO and Federal Mogul Corp. have co-developed a new Glow Plug Integrated Pressure Sensor (GPPS) to provide realtime feedback to optimize the combustion process in light-, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, thereby lowering fuel consumption and emissions. (GCC.)

International Truck and Engine Corporation and Environmental Solutions Worldwide (ESW) are launching a new proprietary diesel engine catalyst-enabling technology, targeted at the school bus retrofit market. The new product is an engine exhaust tube designed to be installed as a direct replacement to the existing Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) factory unit. (GCC.)

General Engine Products (GEP), a subsidiary of AM General, will use ArvinMeritor’s new fuel-vaporizer technology for the active regeneration of particulate filters and/or NOx traps on GEP’s 2007 Optimizer 6500 V8 TurboDiesel engine line. The aftertreatment system will help the Optimizer engines meet the upcoming US EPA 2007 emissions regulations. (GCC.)

The Texas Environmental Research Consortium (TERC) has opened a $7.5-million solicitation for the development, verification and testing of technologies to reduce NOx emissions by at least 25% from diesel engines, including engine upgrade or retrofit kits and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technologies. (GCC.)

OTHER

According to a report by two divisions of the National Academies—the Transportation Research Board and the Board on Energy and Environmental System—reducing the average rolling resistance of replacement tires by a magnitude of 10% is technically and economically feasible. Such a reduction promises a 1% to 2% increase in fuel economy—representing between 1 to 2 billion gallons of fuel saved. (GCC.)

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