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The Week in Sustainable Mobility (5/28/06)
Mike Millikin, 28 May 06

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

2006_Mazda_Tribute_exfrdrvr34.jpg A report released yesterday by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) concludes that the tangible results from two of the Administration’s voluntary programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are highly varied. Both programs require better and tighter mechanisms for assessment, management, tracking and compliance to ensure that firms meet their emissions reduction goals, according to the report. (GCC.)

A new survey by Harris Interactive found that with high gas prices beginning to bite into US consumers’ habits, three-quarters (74%) of adults polled say that American car companies are not moving as quickly as they should to build automobiles that consume less gasoline. Only 9% say the auto companies are moving as quickly as they should. (GCC.)

A different national survey found that 30% of consumers in the current climate of rising gas prices would be extremely or somewhat likely to consider using a motor scooter for their everyday transportation needs. (GCC.)

GM announced its “GM Fuel Price Protection Program”—a limited, regional fuel subsidy program that caps what consumers pay for gas at $1.99 a gallon when they purchase select 2006 and 2007 GM full-size SUVs and mid-size cars. (GCC.)

The value of Japan’s automobile exports rose 12.9% in fiscal 2005 to hit ¥10.5 trillion (US$94 billion), cresting the ¥10-trillion mark for the first time, according to Japanese government trade statistics. Demand for Japanese cars boasting high fuel efficiency grew not only in the US but also in Russia and other emerging economies on the back of soaring crude oil prices. (GCC.)

The per-capita car ownership ratio in China will increase by 67% to 40 cars for every 1,000 citizens by 2010 from the current 24, according to a report by Chinanews. By contrast, the US has 765 vehicles per 1,000 (2002 data), while Europe (including the FSU countries) has an average of about 300 vehicles per 1,000. (UNECE)(GCC.)

A new report released today by the Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage concludes that climate change may be occurring at a more rapid rate than scientists previously thought. (GCC.)

A team of European scientists reports that climate change estimates for the next century may have substantially underestimated the potential magnitude of global warming. They conclude that actual warming due to human fossil fuel emissions may be 15% to 78% higher than warming estimates that do not take into account the feedback mechanism involving carbon dioxide and Earth’s temperature. (GCC.)

Canada’s The Globe and Mail reports that, according to private instructions to Canadian negotiators in Bonn, Germany, Canada will not support attempts by other countries to set deeper emission-reduction targets for the Kyoto Protocol’s second phase. (GCC.)


Mazda has donated five Tribute Hybrids to the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) on a two-year loan. The vehicles are hybrid prototypes of Mazda’s Tribute compact SUV and are part of 30 total Tribute Hybrid SUVs that Mazda will loan to fire agencies across Southern California. (GCC.)

GM’s Saturn announced today that the new 2007 Vue Green Line hybrid SUV (earlier post) will carry a starting price of $22,995 (including destination charge), making it the lowest-priced hybrid SUV on the market. (GCC.)

A UK insurance company, MORE THAN, a is now reducing premiums for existing customers with hybrid cars by up to 13% and offering a comparable discount to new customers with hybrids. (GCC.)

New York has increased the number of Alternative Fuel Medallions for City taxicabs. The Medallion sale scheduled for next month will now include 254 alternative fuel and hybrid medallions, up from a previously scheduled 62 of the 308 to be auctioned. The Alternative Fuel Medallion may be applied to TLC-approved vehicles that use either compressed natural gas (CNG) or hybrid fuel technology. (GCC.)

Engineering students at the University of California, Davis unveiled “Trinity,” a plug-in hybrid vehicle that is the team’s entry in the national Challenge X competition, sponsored by GM and the US Department of Energy. Trinity is a 2006 model Chevy Equinox SUV powered by electric motors and a small internal combustion engine that can run on gasoline or ethanol, augmented by hydrogen injection. Trinity is a PHEV 40—the electric motors and batteries provide power for driving at low speeds and for a range of up to 40 miles, and the gas engine supplies additional power for longer journeys and highway driving. (GCC.)


BAE Systems has awarded Saft a $2-million multi-year contract to design and supply lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery modules for hybrid-electric military vehicles—the Future Combat System (FCS) Manned Ground Vehicles (MGVs). Saft will supply its VL-V Li-ion battery technology for the NLOS-C (Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon) vehicle scheduled to be fielded by 2008. (GCC.)


Alchemy Enterprises, a new energy company, has been working with NASA/JPL on the development of a metal-air fuel-cell (MAFC) targeted at the heavy-duty transportation sector. The company has now entered into an option agreement to acquire patent and license rights to the technology from California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech). (GCC.)

Altair Nanotechnologies has completed an internal safety-testing cycle for its nano-structured negative electrode material—nano Lithium Titanium Oxide (nLTO)—that replaces the graphite used in conventional lithium-ion batteries. (GCC.)

Azure Dynamics Corporation has received another purchase order from Smith Electric Vehicles (SEV), part of The Tanfield Group Plc, for 20 electric powertrain systems. This order follows-on to the 2005 supply agreement between Azure and Smith Electric Vehicles, through which Azure would deliver up to one thousand complete electric powertrains. (GCC.)


An ethanol-powered car has achieved the best fuel efficiency at the just-concluded Shell Eco-marathon 2006. The car, which bested hydrogen-powered cars for the top prize, also took the “Climate Friendly” prize for producing the least greenhouse gas emissions in the process. The winning car completed seven laps of the Nogaro circuit in southwest France, with an energy consumption equivalent to 2,885 km/liter of gasoline: .0347 liters/100km or 6,779 mpg US. (GCC.)

Scania, the world’s only manufacturer of ethanol-powered commercial vehicles, is supplying the city buses for use in the BEST consortium’s field trials of ethanol as a vehicle fuel. Scania heavy-duty ethanol engines use 95% ethanol with 5% ignition improver in a diesel engine. (GCC.)

DuPont has introduced the first sulfonylurea (SU)-tolerant (herbicide) sunflower hybrids in Europe—Pioneer-brand sunflower hybrids with the Express SX Herbicide-Tolerant trait. The goal is to increase the harvestable yield to meet the demands of producers and consumers in the oilseed market, whether for biofuels or cooking oils. (GCC.)

Chemical Consortium Holdings (ChemCon) has entered into an option agreement with the Port of Walla Walla, Washington to lease approximately 15 acres to construct a 200,000-ton (approximately 60 million gallons) per year biodiesel production facility. This would mark the second major biodiesel plant to be located in the state of Washington. (GCC.)

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom last week issued an Executive Directive ordering the use of B20 biodiesel in 100% of the diesel vehicles owned by the city. San Francisco is the largest US city with such a comprehensive provision. (GCC.)


Clyvia Technology GmbH, the German subsidiary of US-based Clyvia Inc. (formerly Rapa Mining), will officially introduce its pilot waste-to-diesel production facility in June at the company’s Wegberg-Wildenrath location. Clyvia Technology uses catalytic depolymerization to transform carbon-containing waste material such as used oil, flushing oil and plastic from output materials to diesel or heating oil. (GCC.)

Anglo American, one of the world’s largest mining groups, and Shell Gas & Power International have formed an alliance in the field of coal conversion. The two companies will take selective equity positions in emerging coal-conversion projects, combining Anglo American’s coal reserves and mining capabilities with Shell’s gasification and conversion technologies. The objective is the extraction and gasification of coal with the subsequent polygeneration of products including chemicals, hydrogen, power, synthetic liquid fuels and other uses. (GCC.)


Millennium Cell, a leading developer of hydrogen battery technology, has been awarded a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) Grant by the National Science Foundation ("NSF") to develop a new hydrogen storage technology based on solid fuel blends that include borohydrides. (GCC.)

A team of more than a dozen University of Florida (UF) engineering faculty and graduate students has developed a tiny, inexpensive sensor device that can detect hydrogen leaks and sound the alarm by wireless communication. (GCC.)

In a feasibility study funded by the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), bioscientists at the University of Birmingham have demonstrated that certain bacteria can produce hydrogen gas as they consume high-sugar waste produced by the confectionery industry. (GCC.)


US Energy Initiatives Corporation, manufacturer of a dual-fuel diesel to natural gas conversion systems, recently has completed development of a system for a Series 60 Detroit diesel used in a waste collection application, and has activated a Daewoo WD6L engine at the Natural Gas Vehicle Institute (NGVI) facility. (GCC.)


Volvo has rolled out the new high-end diesel engine option, the 177 hp (132 kW) Volvo D5, for the Volvo S40 saloon and V50 Sportswagon in Europe. The five-cylinder, 2.4-liter turbodiesel is a version of the Volvo D5 engine available with the Volvo S60, V70, XC70 and XC90. Official fuel consumption figures show 24.2 mpg US city, 42.8 mpg US highway and 33.6 mpg US with carbon dioxide emissions of 184 g/km for both models. (GCC.)

Malaysia’s Kosmo Motor Company has taken a 26% stake in Loremo AG, the developers of the Loremo LS, a 1.5 l/100km (157 mpg US) diesel passenger car. (GCC.)

Honda has been awarded a patent on a plasma-assisted catalytic system for the reduction of NOx emissions from diesel exhaust. Honda is targeting the introduction of a "50-state" diesel in the US within the next three years. (GCC.)


Honda has developed a bio-fabric—a plant-based fabric with excellent durability and resistance to sunlight—for use as a surface material in automobile interiors. Honda will first introduce bio-fabric interiors with the company’s all-new fuel cell vehicle which will be introduced to the market within next three years, then try to gradually expand the application to new models from 2009 and beyond. (GCC.)

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It is interseting that many people are now aware of the harmful effects of emissions. Even Toyota is now doing its share to keep emissions low and clean.

Posted by: Mark Clarkson on 1 Jun 06



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