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The Week in Sustainable Mobility (6/4/06)
Mike Millikin, 4 Jun 06

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


Total light-duty vehicle sales in the US were relatively flat in May 2006 compared to the prior year, reflecting a slight decline in total units. However, within that total number, car and light truck performance varied widely, with light truck sales dropping 6.7% and car sales increasing 6.4%. "The pinch at the pump has made small cars part of the big picture, right along with hybrids. The market is healthy, though shifting," said Jim Lentz, Toyota Motor Sales Group Vice President. (GCC.)

Combined sales of hybrids in the US in May reached a new peak of 23,554 units—1.1% higher than the previous record of 23,307 in August 2005. The sales volume was buoyed considerably by the first full-month sales of the new Camry hybrid, which posted more than 3,000 units. (GCC.)

By examining more than 25 years of satellite data, a team of researchers has found that the atmosphere is warming faster in subtropical areas, around 30 degrees north and south latitude, than it is elsewhere. They also found that each hemisphere’s jet stream has moved toward each pole by about 1 degree of latitude, or 70 miles. The evidence, published in the 26 May edition of Science, matches changes predicted by global warming computer models; the result could be a widening of the tropics and an expansion of some of the world’s driest regions. (GCC.)

The European Union has launched a campaign to raise the awareness of consumers about making small changes to daily routines to help reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases. (GCC.)


Ricardo, QinetiQ and PSA Peugeot Citroën presented the results of their Efficient-C two-year collaborative research project: a parallel hybrid-electric diesel demonstrator vehicle emitting just 99 g/km CO2 (equivalent to 3.75 liters per 100km or more than 63 mpg US) based on a fully featured Citroën Berlingo Multispace family car. (GCC.)

A new plug-in hybrid prototype made its debut in Washington in May in support of the testimony before the House on plug-in hybrids: Connecticut battery-maker Electro Energy’s (EEI) “silver bullet” (built by EEI and CalCars with EEI bi-polar NiMH batteries). (GCC.)


The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (MUNI) has accepted the first of 56 diesel-electric hybrid Orion VII low floor buses from DaimlerChrysler Commercial Buses. The new bus is California’s first series production diesel-electric hybrid bus in transit service. (GCC.)

UQM Technologies has received an order from the Denver Regional Transportation District (Denver RTD) for UQM generators and motor controllers to retrofit an additional ten CNG-powered series-hybrid electric mall shuttle buses. (GCC.)


Valence Technology is now shipping four recently-introduced models of its Saphion U-Charge Power System large-format lithium-ion batteries as well as a new Battery Management System (U-BMS). (GCC.)

Tesla Motors announced the completion of its $40-million Series C financing led by VantagePoint Venture Partners, one of the largest CleanTech investors in Silicon Valley, and by Elon Musk, founder of Paypal and CEO of SpaceX. The financing will be used to launch the company’s first product, a high performance electric sportscar, and to support final safety compliance testing and production. (GCC.)

The City of Chicago has released a five-year, $580,000 contract to purchase up to 100 Additional lithium-ion-powered Segway Human Transporters (HTs) and associated accessories, replacement parts and service. This represents the largest municipal contract in the history of Segway. (GCC.)


GM is introducing a more powerful flex-fuel 2.0-liter turbocharged engine to the Saab 9-5 and SportCombi range in Europe. The new 2.3t BioPower model promises 14% more maximum power and 11% more torque when running on E85 than on gasoline. (GCC.)

After completing long-term tests, Scania, the Swedish manufacturer of heavy-duty trucks and buses, is now guaranteeing operating reliability for 100% biodiesel (B100) for all its trucks with engines featuring unit injectors. (GCC.)

France launched its first tests of E85 flex-fuel vehicles. E85 is currently not authorized in France, but the Marne regional government in eastern France has a special permit to test the ethanol-based E85 fuel in a fleet of seven Ford Focus flex-fuel (BioFlex) cars for one year. (GCC.)

Chevron Corporation has formed a biofuels business unit to advance technology and pursue commercial opportunities related to the production and distribution of ethanol and biodiesel in the United States. (GCC.)

Researchers at Iowa State University are exploring the use of ultrasonics to boost ethanol production from corn. The team pre-treated milled corn to break the corn pieces into fine particles, thereby exposing more of the corn’s starch to the enzymes that convert starch to sugars. Preliminary tests have increased the corn’s release rates of sugars by nearly 30%. (GCC.)

Another research project at Iowa State University is developing a mold-based process that breaks down the cellulosic corn fiber that is a by-product of the wet-milling process into sugars that can then be fermented into fuel ethanol. The initial goal is to create a sequential biorefinery that can tap into what currently are the waste byproducts of corn processing. The process may be suitable for all ligno-cellulosic biomass material however. (GCC.)

Researchers from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico have genetically engineered the bacterium Bacillus subtilis to ferment glucose sugar directly to ethanol with a high (86%) yield. This is the first step in their quest to develop bacteria that can breakdown and ferment cellulose biomass directly to ethanol. (GCC.)

E85 is now allowed for retail sale in the state of Florida. State fuel regulations have, until now, prohibited the sale of the 85% ethanol, 15% gasoline blend to the public. (GCC.)

Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack today signed several pieces of legislation designed to grow Iowa’s renewable energy and bio-energy industries, including a state Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) of 25% by 2020—the most aggressive state RFS yet. (GCC.)


Hydro, the Norwegian energy company, and Norske Skog, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of newsprint and magazine paper, have agreed to carry out a joint feasibility study relating to the production of Fischer-Tropsch diesel from wood via gasification. (GCC.)

Franklin Oil & Gas, Bolivia S.A. and YPFB (Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales Bolivianos, Bolivia’s state-owned oil company) have signed a new Memorandum of Understanding to build and to operate a Gas-To-Liquids (GTL) plant in the Grande River region of the Department of Santa Cruz, Bolivia. (GCC.)

The production of Alberta oil sands could nearly triple by 2015 to three million barrels per day, according to a new report by Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB): Canada’s Oil Sands—Opportunities and Challenges to 2015: An Update. Oil sands production output was 1.1 million barrels per day in 2005. The new report increases the NEB’s 2004 oil sands production estimate by almost 40%. (GCC.)


BMW and oil major Total have agreed to work closely together to promote hydrogen as an energy source for vehicles. The agreement stipulates that Total will set up and operate three hydrogen fueling stations in Europe by the end of 2007 to support the introduction of BMW bi-fuel hydrogen internal combustion engine (ICE) cars. (GCC.)

Nissan Motor is offering Japanese consumers the chance to test drive its X-TRAIL fuel-cell vehicle (FCV). The test drive program will be offered for up to a year from Nissan’s headquarters in Tokyo. (GCC.)

Hoku Scientific, a designer, developer and manufacturer of hydrocarbon-based membranes and membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) for proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells, plans to diversify its product offerings by manufacturing and selling solar modules, in addition to manufacturing polysilicon, a key material used in the production of solar modules. (GCC.)


June 1 marked the beginning of the phased-in implementation of EPA’s Clean Air Highway Diesel final rule that requires a 97% reduction in the sulfur content of highway diesel fuel from its current level of 500 parts per million (ppm) to 15 ppm. This Ultra Low-Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) will be available at retail stations beginning this summer and enables the use of modern pollution-control technology to meet the new EPA Tier 2 emissions specifications that will be fully in force at the end of this year. (GCC.)

Chrysler Group today unveiled the first diesel-powered, full-size sport-utility vehicle (SUV) to be offered in the United States. The 2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee equipped with a 3.0-liter common rail turbo diesel (CRD) engine will arrive in showrooms in the first quarter of 2007. (GCC.)

Tenneco is launching a retrofit diesel particulate filter (DPF) for the European independent aftermarket in advance of the introduction of European Union (EU) legislation and tax incentives on retrofit units that come into effect in The Netherlands this July. Toyota Europe has selected the DPF technology for its complete European diesel car range. (GCC.)

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