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The Week in Sustainable Mobility (8/20/06)
Mike Millikin, 20 Aug 06

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

Ford Motor Company announced a 21% reduction of North American fourth quarter production—168,000 units—as part of its broader turnaround efforts. Truck models will take the largest 4Q cut—155,000 units out of the 168,000, or 92%, while car production is increasing. According to Ford, the plan reflects expectations for lower industry sales of light trucks and truck-based sport utility vehicles, as high gasoline prices are expected to continue to encourage demand for more fuel-efficient passenger cars and crossovers. (More...)

New light-duty vehicle registrations in California declined 5.5% during the first half of this year versus a year earlier, according to the latest quarterly report from the California Motor Car Dealers Association (CMCDA). Overall, the US market has declined 2.3% in the first half of the year.(More...)

China’s net import of crude oil rose to 70.33 million tons (about 2.9 million barrels per day) and of refined oil products to 12.03 million tons (about 500,000 barrels per day) in the first half of the year, according to the country’s General Administration of Customs. That represents an increase of 17.6% in imported crude, and 48.3% in product, year-on-year. (More...)

To accelerate the adoption of alternative fuels and to offer lower-cost fuel options than afforded by gasoline, Australia is now offering A$1,000 (US$760) toward the purchase cost of a new Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG)-powered vehicle, and a grant of A$2,000 (US$1,519) to the cost of converting existing private vehicles to LPG. (More...)

LIGHT-DUTY HYBRIDS and PLUG-IN HYBRIDS

A new study by global market research company Synovate shows that 49% of consumers—once the concept of a plug-in hybrid was explained to them—said they would consider purchasing one, roughly the same level of consideration as standard hybrid technology. (More...)

Hydrogenics, a global provider of hydrogen and fuel cell products, has joined the Plug-in Hybrid Development Consortium to participate in the development of plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs). An optimized battery-dominant plug-in hybrid vehicle would allow the size of the fuel-cell system to be kept to a minimum, keeping overall system and vehicle cost down—an approach that could provide a logical path toward the accelerated commercialization of fuel-cell technology. (More...)

AFS Trinity has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Austin Energy that will give the participating fleets in the Plug-in Partners (PIP) consortium first access to the AFS Trinity Extreme Hybrid plug-in currently under development. (More...)

A new organization—the Hybrid Owners of America (HOA)—launched itself today to organize and to advocate for the interests of the roughly 500,000 Americans who are driving hybrid cars and other gas/electric vehicles. (More...)

AES Corporation, one of the world’s largest global power companies, has joined the Plug-In Hybrid Development Consortium in support of the development of Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs). (More...)

HEAVY-DUTY HYBRIDS and PLUG-IN HYBRIDS

Azure Dynamics has signed a definitive supply agreement for the production of hybrid shuttle buses with StarTrans, a business division of Supreme Corporation and a leading commercial bus manufacturer in North America. The Companies had previously announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) This will mark the first commercially-produced hybrid-electric shuttle bus. (More...)

Enova Systems has received a major contract to design and integrate hybrid drive systems for service vans for one of the largest fleet operators in North America. The systems will use Enova’s Post-Transmission 80 kW Hybrid Drive System with Nickel Metal Hydride batteries. (More...)

BATTERIES and ELECTRIC VEHICLES

The limited-edition “Signature One Hundred” series Tesla Roadster, the first high-performance electric car manufactured by Tesla Motors, has sold out in three weeks. (More...)

Segway has introduced its new generation of all-electric transporters: the Personal Transporter (PT) i2 and x2. The new models feature its new LeanSteer technology, which lets the rider turn by leaning. (More...)

Lithium Technology Corporation (LTC), a global provider of large, rechargeable lithium-ion power solutions, is developing in conjunction with an unnamed automaker, a 12 kWh Li-ion battery system that should support a plug-in hybrid application in a four-passenger vehicle with an all-electric range of 60 miles. (More...)

The United States Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC) has awarded Johnson Controls-Saft Advanced Power Solutions (JCS) a 24-month contract to develop advanced lithium-ion batteries for hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs). (More...)

Maxwell Technologies and Alcoa AFL Automotive have signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on the development of a cold-start system for the commercial transportation market. The companies will integrate Maxwell’s BOOSTCAP ultracapacitors with AFL’s power management system to develop an efficient engine starting system. (More...)

BIOFUELS

China, already the world’s third largest ethanol producer, is planning on a dramatic expansion of its production and use of biofuels for transportation from about 1 million tonnes of ethanol and biodiesel in 2005 to 12 million tonnes in 2020. Twelve million tonnes of biofuels would represent about 15% of the transportation fuel pool in 2020. (More...)

The Central Fleet Division (City Manager’s Office) of Kansas City, Missouri, will expand its use of B50 biodiesel (50% biodiesel, 50% petroleum diesel) to all possible City fueling station locations to fuel all of the City’s 1,038 diesel-powered vehicles through the summer months. The City will drop back to a winter mix of B20 from October until March. (More...)

The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA), which operates the Orlando International Airport, is testing a B20 biodiesel blend in approximately 100 of its fleet vehicles. The mixture is approved for use in tugs, trucks, buses and general diesel equipment; the test vehicles are using about 1,000 gallons a day. (More...)

Bioenergy International will build and operate a 108-million-gallon corn-based ethanol plant in Pennsylvania—the state’s first—and Lukoil Americas—the US arm of Russian oil major Lukoil—will be the exclusive distributor of the finished product. In addition to the corn-ethanol plant, BioEnergy is building a smaller pilot-scale cellulosic ethanol plant using Bioenergy’s technology to produce the fuel from organic wastes such as wood and agricultural residue. (More...)

Hybrid Fuels has reached an agreement in principle with the A4 Bar Cattle Company Ltd. in Alberta, Canada covering a proposed joint venture to develop an operation for the integration of cattle “feeding-to-finish” with production of fuel ethanol. (More...)

Bunge North America, Inc., the North American operating arm of Bunge Limited, a global, vertically integrated food and feed ingredient company has made a minority investment in and entered into a strategic relationship with Renewable Energy Group (REG) for the production of biodiesel. The investment is part of a larger $100-million Series A private equity financing for REG led by NGP Energy Technology Partners, L.P., an affiliate of NGP Energy Capital Management. (More...)

Australian Biodiesel Group (ABG) Limited announced the official opening of the nation’s largest biodiesel production facility at Narangba, outside Brisbane. The plant has an annual capacity of 160 million liters (42.3 million gallons US). (More...)

Green Star Products (GPSI) says that it will build the first biodiesel plant to emit almost zero net carbon dioxide from direct plant production of biodiesel by relying on waste heat from a power plant, by using biodiesel to generate its own process power, and by using cellulosic ethanol rather than methanol for use in the production process itself. (More...)

NATURAL GAS

GM Chevrolet Thailand will enter the alternative fuel car market this year, offering customers the option of equipping their new Optra 1.6L models with CNG equipment, or upgrading their current Optra 1.6L with CNG equipment. (More...)

HYDROGEN

Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide has delivered its new, next-generation Type IV compressed hydrogen storage tanks to a fuel-cell bus manufacturer for use in fuel-cell buses to be operated on public routes. (More...)

The US Department of Energy (DOE) intends to fund approximately $1.4 million (subject to negotiation) for two projects to partner with industry to study the economic feasibility of producing hydrogen at existing commercial nuclear power plants. (More...)

LM Star Autoworld Sdn Bhd (LMG), Malaysia’s latest car manufacturer, has launched two SUVs (LMG Tourer and Trekker) fueled by a combination of hydrogen generated on-board and gasoline. (More...)

A new and improved imaging instrument at the Commerce Department&s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) allows researchers to visualize water production and removal in fuel cells under a range of simulated operating conditions, from arctic cold to desert heat. (More...)

The US Office of Naval Research (ONR) has awarded FuelCell Energy the company an additional $2.5 million to complete a land-based demonstration of its 0.5 MW ship service fuel cell (SSFC) power plant and begin design work on a next generation ship-based prototype. (More...)

SYNTHETICS

DKRW Advanced Fuels LLC (DKRW), headquartered in Houston, Texas and SNC-Lavalin GDS, Inc. of Houston and SNC-Lavalin Constructors Inc. of Bothell, Washington, wholly-owned subsidiaries of SNC-Lavalin, have formed an alliance to develop, design and construct a number of coal-to-liquid fuel projects, each valued in excess of $1 billion. (More...)

China is to begin construction of the largest dimethyl ether (DME) project yet with an annual output of 3 million tons. The country’s current annual output is 120,000 tons of DME each year, according to the NDRC. (More...)

DIESEL

Ricardo announced today that the company is working in collaboration with a global manufacturer to develop and to demonstrate an advanced diesel technology capable of achieving US Super Ultra-Low Emission (SULEV) and Tier 2 Bin 2 requirements. (More...)

OTHER

Researchers from the Forschungszentrum Rossendorf (FZR) in Dresden, Germany have, for the first time, exactly characterized the bonding between metals and the surface protein layer (S-layer) of Bacillus sphaericus. This paves the way for the genetic engineering of the protein to enable the construction of materials with new optic, magnetic, catalytic, and other novel physical properties. (More...)

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced a new national program today that will help cut mercury air emissions by up to 75 tons over the next 15 years. The National Vehicle Mercury Switch Recovery Program is designed to remove mercury-containing light switches used for convenience lighting in hoods and trunks and in some anti-lock braking systems from scrap vehicles before the vehicles are flattened, shredded, and melted to make new steel. (More...)

General Motors on Thursday launched a fully redesigned version of the Chevrolet Aveo sedan just 2.5 years after its debut. The new Aveo features an all-new exterior and roomy interior design, but fuel economy compared to the 2006 model is just incrementally better. (More...)

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