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Japan’s Crisis Hurts Sales of Hybrid Cars and EVs

The people of Japan are courageously moving forward after the devastation of a 9.0 earthquake, a tsunami that ripped apart buildings and roads, and a nuclear crisis that now threatens their food and water. The Japanese economy depends in no small measure on the success of its automotive industry and its complex eco-system of component suppliers and service providers.

Just when gasoline prices are rising and hybrid cars are again hot sellers, the crisis is making hybrids and new electric cars tough to get. Let’s look at the impact on three big sellers of hybrids and electrics.

Toyota, Honda, and Nissan are hurt less than expected because they have diversified globally, including billion dollar plants and operations in the United States. The most advanced hybrids and electric cars, however, are first produced in Japan. Every supplier must be able to produce for new cars to be assembled in Japan. Once assembled, it will be challenging to move them across roads not ripped apart. It will take time to return shipping ports to normal after the recent tsunami tossed cars and railcars around like toys. Plants and operations require MW of electricity, now constrained by nuclear plant shutdowns.

Toyota

Toyota reports that all 13 North American vehicle and engine plants are running normally, although overtime has been curtailed to maintain adequate inventories of parts that come from Japan. Toyota now makes 12 different models in North America, including high-volume vehicles such as Camry, Corolla, RAV4, and Lexus RX 350, and nearly 70 percent of all Toyota and Lexus vehicles sold in the U.S. are made in North America.

Suppliers in North America provide most parts and materials for Toyota’s North American-built vehicles. Toyota has temporarily stopped all Japanese production of vehicles, but it is restarting production of replacement parts for cars already sold and parts necessary for overseas production. In general, Toyota is seeing adequate inventories at most dealers.

Prius vehicles are built in Japan, Steve Curtis with Toyota told me that the Tsutsumi plant where the Prius is made was not damaged by the earthquake. Production depends on more than the plant condition. It depends on a complex web of suppliers, supply of electricity, roads that can be crossed by employees and trucks deliveries parts. Toyota has delayed 12 Japan plant openings until March 26.

The tragedy in Japan has not delayed the U.S. launch of the new larger Prius V Crossover SUV and the Prius Plug-in Hybrid, not the new Toyota small electric city car. It has delayed the launch of the Prius wagon and minivan models in Japan from the original plan for the end of April. Reuters  Article

Since the production of current Toyota and Lexus hybrids, depends on a complex supply chain, and shipment to the UnitedToyota Prius 37k 150x102 Japan’s Crisis Hurts Sales of Hybrid Cars and Electric Cars States depends on roads and ports, Clean Fleet Report forecasts that shipments of Prius and other hybrids will be delayed and reduced for months.

Only one of three Toyota hybrid battery plants in Japan sustained limited damage from the earthquake. The other two plants are located in central Japan and were not affected. Panasonic and Sanyo are Toyota’s primary suppliers of nickel metal hydride and lithium batteries; their production status is uncertain.

Car dealers are betting that the supply of hot selling hybrids will be tight, especially with gasoline costing $4 per gallon in parts of the country. Auto News reports that dealers that were averaging $1,700 discounts on the Prius are now getting $800 premiums.

Honda

Honda is globally diversified in manufacturing and suppliers. With nine U.S. plants, Honda has invested more than $12.7 billion in its U.S. operations. The company employs nearly 25,000 associates and annually purchases $12 billion in parts and materials from more than 530 U.S. suppliers.

For hybrids such as the Civic Hybrid, Insight, CR-Z and Fit Hybrid, Honda also heavily depends on Japanese suppliers, including advanced battery suppliers such as Sanyo. At the heart of the 2012 Civic Hybrid and Honda’s new electric cars are the lithium-ion batteries built at its Blue Energy join venture (JV) with Japan’s GS Yuasa; the battery plant is in Fukuchiyama, Kyoto, Japan.

Last week, Honda had announced plans to resume production of major Japanese plants on March 20. Now these openings are delayed to March 27 or beyond. Like all major manufacturers, Honda depends on a complex eco-system of suppliers and joint ventures. Some plants have been damaged and roads to move parts have been ripped apart.

Nissan

Nissan has delayed March 21 plans to restart production of parts for overseas manufacturing and repair parts, based on parts availability from suppliers, at these plants Oppama, Tochigi, Kyushu, Yokohama, Nissan Shatai. Vehicle production will be constrained by inventory availability. The Iwaki engine plant remains closed.

LEAF battery 150x150 Japan’s Crisis Hurts Sales of Hybrid Cars and Electric CarsNissan recently shipped 600 Nissan LEAFs before earthquake and tsunami damage. At the Port of Hitachi, however, Nissan lost 1,300 U.S.-bound Infiniti and Nissan cars to the tsunami. Nissan had plans to soon have 10,000 LEAFs built at the Oppama plant. Now Nissan’s hopes of catching-up with U.S. deliveries of the Chevrolet Volt have faded in the near term.

Starting next year, Nissan’s Tennessee assembly plant will have the capacity to build 150,000 Nissan Leaf electric cars per year, and 200,000 lithium-ion battery packs per year. The lithium packs could also be used in future Nissan hybrid cars. The Tennessee battery production is by AESC, a joint venture of Nissan and NEC.

Once production returns to normal, U.S. shipments could still be delayed. Japan faces a fuel shortage. Fuel is needed to transport cars to ports, to run port drayage trucks and lifts, and to run ships. Even electric cars still depend on diesel to move them to market.

Ford Wins EcoGlobe Award for Technology in Fiesta ECOnetic

Ford wins a major environmental award for its new technology that makes engines more efficient and uses some hybrid technology, such as auto-start-stop and braking regen energy without the cost of a true hybrid electric. Ford has received a prestigious EcoGlobe award in recognition of its achievements in introducing environmentally-advanced, yet affordable technical solutions under the Ford ECOnetic Technologies programme.

The award – one of ten presented annually by an independent jury for what they consider are outstanding environmentally-friendly vehicle solutions – was presented to the Ford Fiesta ECOnetic as a representative model from the Ford ECOnetic Technologies range. With CO2 emissions of just 98 g/km, the Fiesta ECOnetic is one of Europe’s most fuel efficient, low CO2 passenger cars.

The Ford’s ECOnetic Technologies programme was launched earlier in 2010. It is a customer-driven initiative bringing together a range of vehicle features and technologies specifically targeting better fuel economy, reduced emissions and overall lower cost of ownership, including:

  • Ford EcoBoost – all-new petrol engines featuring turbocharging and direct injection technology to provide the performance of a larger displacement engine with the fuel economy and CO2 benefits of a smaller unit.
  • Ford Duratorq TDCi – a range of high-efficiency common-rail diesel engines which have been further improved to deliver even better fuel economy and lower CO2.
  • Ford PowerShift transmission – an advanced dual-clutch design, combining the efficiency, optimised gear ratios and driving enjoyment of a manual gearbox with the smoothness and ease-of-use of a conventional automatic.
  • Ford Auto-Start-Stop – automatically cuts the engine when at a standstill and restarts it as required by the driver to avoid unnecessary fuel use.
  • Smart Regenerative Charging (SRC) – creates electrical energy from braking movements to enhance existing power sources.
  • Active Grille Shutter – variable grille opening which reduces when the vehicle is at speed to improve air flow efficiency and lower fuel consumption.
  • Ford ECO Mode – an driver information system that helps educate the driver to achieve improved real-world fuel economy.
  • Electric Power Assist Steering (EPAS) – a more efficient steering system which reduces the drain on power reserves and thereby supports more efficient operation.
  • Gear Shift Indicator – advises the driver of the most efficient point for gear changes.

In addition to ECOnetic Technologies, Ford also continues to offer dedicated ultra-low emission ECOnetic models, including the EcoGlobe-winning Fiesta, the Focus, Mondeo and Transit. These Ford fuel economy hero vehicles feature unique technologies including longer gearing, specific engine calibrations, special aerodynamic packages, and ultra-low rolling resistance tires, in different combinations according to model.

Longer term, Ford ECOnetic Technologies will expand to include a range of other hi-tech features under development, including further weight reduction and aerodynamic improvements, electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, biofuel-capable vehicles, and hydrogen-powered vehicles.

Electric Cars get A+ from EPA

By John Addison (9/2/10 from original post at Clean Fleet Report)

New Proposed Stickers

When you go shopping for a new car it is useful to see a quick summary of fuel economy, how much you might save in fuel over 5 years, and the price. Now that people are web surfing faster, moving with purpose through auto shows, and scanning car lots with speed, the EPA is proposing adding grades “A” to “D” on window stickers. You would still get rich comparative details at a website like the popular http://fueleconomy.gov/

Pure battery-electric cars would get an “A+,” go to the head of the class, make their parents proud, get to stay up late on weekends, and get accepted by exclusive fraternities and sororities. Plug-in hybrids would proudly display an “A” for their shining example of helping reduce our dependency on oil, cleaning the air, and help with global warming. Drivers will be lauded as honor students. Climate deniers will add bumper stickers to their suburban assault vehicles that say “My kid beat-up your honor student.”

The added info that we’ll be given to make an informed is welcome. The barcode that takes our smartphone to a website for details looks most promising in this era of mobility and smart apps. Yet, somebody has to speak-up about the lax grading that’s sweeping the nation. In my day, I had to work for every “A,” there were no incompletes, and I had to walk 5 miles daily to school in the snow. The idea of no “F” means that no gas guzzler will be left behind. Under these 2012 proposed ratings, you can get a “B-“ for a car that gets 20 mpg – those oil countries in the Middle East will love that. If you can fuel it with E85 from corn, you don’t even need to get 20 mpg to get your “B.”

An electric car that uses zero gallons of gasoline annually deserves an “A.” Does the average car that now demands 600 gallons per year deserve a “B” in 2012? We’ll never get to those 2016 CAFÉ standards by letting everything with four wheels slide through.

EPA Needs to Talk with DOT and DOE

The DOE provides wonderful models to calculate the lifecycle emissions of a vehicle from either source-to-wheels with GREET 1.x or include the lifecycle emissions including the supply-chain that went into making the vehicle using the GREET 2.x model. Let’s hope that the new website includes both. Let’s hope that grades “A” through “F” are based on lifecycle emissions, using GREET 1.7 as a minimum. I’m all for cars that emit less than 4 tons of CO2 per year getting an “A,” but emit 16 tons per year and you should get an “F” and that includes corn-guzzlers.

The Department of Transportation’s 2010 Climate Impacts report to Congress also effectively compared the emissions of different fuels and drive systems.

The Good News

One proposed sticker includes a grade, one does not.

The good news is that both are better than the existing sticker because they let you visually compare one car with others in its class. For example, you can see that the Ford Fusion Hybrid has is among the best in fuel economy for midsized sedans. That Lamborghini that you’re drooling over won’t compare well on fuel economy, but you can put a bumper sticker on it that says “I dropped out and made millions while you were struggling to be an honor student.”

For electric cars, such as the Nissan LEAF and Ford Focus Electric, the new labels will estimate annual electricity cost based on 12 cents per kWh; 5 year savings estimate; range; kWh per 100 miles; MPG equivalents and comparison to other electric cars; and show zero tailpipe emissions. Plug-in hybrid labels for cars such as the Chevy Volt and Toyota Prius Plug-in will include 5-year savings estimate; electric + gas combined MPGe; gasoline only MPG; and comparisons with other plug-in hybrids.

For hybrids and conventional cars, such as the Honda Insight and Mini Cooper, the new labels will estimate annual fuel cost; MPG for city, highway, combined, and compared with others in class; CO2 emissions (tailpipe only); and emissions compared with others in class. All labels will make it easy to use an Internet browser or smart phone scan to get more details.

If the letter ratings are adopted, they will be based on combined CO2 emissions and mileage equivalent.

Tell Them What You Think

All new cars and light-duty trucks sold in the U.S. are required to have a label that displays fuel economy information that is designed to help consumers make easy and well-informed comparisons between vehicles. Most people recognize the current label (or “window sticker”) by the gas tank graphic and city and highway MPG information. EPA has provided fuel economy estimates in City and Highway MPG values for more than 30 years.

EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are updating this label to provide consumers with simple, straightforward energy and environmental comparisons across all vehicles types, including electric vehicles (EV), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), and conventional gasoline/diesel vehicles. The agencies are proposing two different label designs and want public input. Specifically, which design, or design features, would best help you compare the fuel economy, fuel costs, and environmental impacts of different vehicles. For more information and to give your feedback.

Tesla’s Strategic Relationships with Toyota and Daimler

By John Addison (5/27/10)

Toyota agreed to purchase $50 million of Tesla’s common stock subsequent to the closing of Tesla’s currently planned initial public offering, giving Toyota over 2 percent of Tesla. The investment was negotiated with Tesla’s purchase of the former NUMMI factory in Fremont, California, that once employed over 4,000 workers in a Toyota-General Motors JV plant. Tesla and Toyota intend to cooperate on the development of electric vehicles, parts, and production system and engineering support. Neal Dikeman reported on Friday the significance of this for Tesla, Toyota, and California jobs.

In 2012, new Tesla S sedan will roll-out of the plant with electric range that remarkably matches the range of many gasoline cars. Tesla is developing a roomy Model S hatchback that starts at $57,400, about half the price of the Roadster. Tesla will start delivering the Model S in 2012 from its new factory in California. The Model S will have up to a 300 mile range, far beyond the Nissan Leaf 100 mile range the Chevy Volt 40-mile electric range, and current ambitions of other electric car makers. Top 10 Electric Car Makers

Tesla will compete with other sedan makers by also offering more passenger space, more cargo space, and a premium cache. With seating for five adults and two children, plus an additional trunk under the hood, Model S has passenger carrying capacity and versatility rivaling SUVs and minivans. Rear seats fold flat, and the hatch gives way to a roomy opening.

With a range up to 300 miles and 45-minute QuickCharge, the Model S can carry five adults and two children in quiet comfort. The roomy electric car starts at a base price of $57,400, before the $7,500 federal EV tax credit and additional tax credits in many states. Yes, it will be more expensive than sedans from Nissan, Ford, and GM but with more battery storage for more range with 3 battery pack options offer a range of 160, 230 or 300 miles per charge.
Don’t pull-up to the Model S in your sedan and try to race. The Model S goes from 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds with 120 mph top speed, and the promise of sporty handling in the chassis and suspension.

Panasonic Lithium Batteries and Tesla Packs

Tesla touts its expertise and intellectual property in a proprietary electric powertrain that incorporates four key components—an advanced battery pack, power electronics module, high-efficiency motor and extensive control software.

Tesla delivers more range per charge than other electric vehicles by including more lithium batteries. Tesla’s relationship with battery supplier Panasonic is critical. The Roadster uses 6,800 Panasonic lithium-nickel consumer-sized batteries integrated into a Tesla designed battery-pack with unique energy management and thermal management. The new Tesla Model S will use up to 5,500 Panasonic batteries.

Tesla has been skillful in developing strategic partnerships. Tesla also has a relationship with Daimler to supply technology, battery packs and chargers for Daimler’s Smart fortwo electric drive. Daimler holds more than 5% of Tesla’s capital stock. Daimler has orders for Tesla to supply it with up to 1,500 battery packs and chargers to support a trial of the Smart fortwo electric drive in at least five European cities. Tesla delivered the first of these battery packs and chargers in November 2009. Daimler also engaged Tesla to assist with the development and production of a battery pack and charger for a pilot fleet of its A-Class electric vehicles to be introduced in Europe during 2011. Tesla has ambitions to supply other vehicle makers.

By John Addison, Publisher of the Clean Fleet Report and conference speaker.

Fuel from Algae – Challenges do not Stop Big Bucks

By John Addison (3/3/10 – original post at Clean Fleet Report)

Energy, Water, and Fuel are three of the world’s most pressing needs. Algal biofuel can have a major impact on all three observed Dr. Michael Webber in opening the recent American Association for Advancing Science (AAAS) workshop about the future of fuel from algae.

Algae seems to grow everywhere except in commercial fuel processing plants. Algae grow unwanted in our showers and swimming pools. There are over 30,000 species living on land and in water. Algae include seaweed and pond scum. Scientists are actively searching for the ideal forms of algae to convert our waste and CO2 into fuel. The idea is simple: grow algae, separate the fatty lipids from water, then refine the lipids into biofuel. Producing high volumes of algae biofuel at low cost, however, is anything but simple.

Algae multiply rapidly with up to 50 percent of their weight being lipids, or triacylglycerols, which can be extracted and converted into fuel. Yes, biodiesel and other transportation fuels can be made from algae, but after decades of effort the fuel is still expensive and only made in lab-scale quantities. There are many obstacles to replacing petroleum with algal fuel in this decade. As I took notes at this three hour workshop that includes top experts in algal fuel, I had hoped to deliver a more optimistic report, but no optimism was gushing in the room.

Even if 10 million of the 240 million vehicles in the U.S. are replaced with plug-ins in this decade, that leaves 230 million vehicles needing petroleum fuel, often sourced from countries that don’t like us, or from sources such as tar sands with massive carbon emissions. Biofuel could reduce our dependency on oil. Fuel from algae can include ethanol, biodiesel, bio-jet fuel, and even bio-crude which could be refined and blended at existing oil refineries.

Currently, biofuel from corn, soy, and palm competes with food, uses large inputs of water, ammonia, petroleum, and land. Demand for food goes up; rainforests that supply our oxygen get destroyed.

“If we were to replace all of the diesel that we use in the United States” with an algae derivative, says Solix CEO Douglas Henston, “we could do it on an area of land that’s about one-half of one percent of the current farm land that we use now.”

Scientists at the AAAS conference seem to agree that 4,350 to 5,700 gallons of fuel per acre of algae per year is realistic. This is 10 to 100 times the potential of other fuel sources ranging from soy to jatropha. Land use is not an issue. Algae thrives on CO2, creating the dream of co-locating algal production at power plants and cement plants.

The DOE states, “Despite their huge potential, the state of technology for producing algal biofuels is regarded by many in the field to be in its infancy. There is a general consensus that a considerable amount of research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) needs to be carried out to provide the fundamental understanding and scale-up technologies required before algal-based fuels can be produced sustainably and economically enough to be cost-competitive with petroleum-based fuels.” Now available is a 214-page draft PDF of the National Algal Biofuels Technology Roadmap.

Thousands of strains of algae are being tested by private companies, universities, and research institutions. To achieve higher sustained production of triglycerides, hundreds of variables are being tested including natural strains, GMO strains (many patented), water, light intensity, nutrients, and nitrogen starvation.

Oil must be “brewed” with the right solution, light, mixing, and stirring. Cost-effective photobioreactors must be developed. Dr. Bob Hebner, University of Texas at Austin, has produced 6,000 gallons of algae in one day. Low cost targets appear achievable – $2 per gallon to produce algal oil and another $2 per gallon to process. Yet these are only achievable if the right organisms can be kept alive, water input reduced, energy costs reduced, and lipids can be separated at much lower cost. Costs must be removed at each of these steps:

1. Growing the desired strain. Major problems include predators, competing strains, and death of the needed strain.
2. Harvesting – removing water at low cost
3. Lysing to produce a lipid concentrate
4. Separations – oil from water from biomass

To achieve low cost and volume production, different pathways are being explored including anaerobic digestion, supercritical fluids, pyrolysis, and gasification.

Although algal fuel does not compete with food, it currently does compete with water. For large scale processing use of water will need to be drastically reduced to be economical with the energy cost of pumping water. Waste water or salt water will be needed, not water needed for agriculture. Optimization can likely drastically reduce needed water which can then be recycled.

Genetically modified organisms are controversial. To date, no consistent output from natural algal systems has been achieved. At the AAAS conference, Dr. Dan Kammen, U.C. Berkeley and IPCC lead author, discussed how natural strains of algae could be possible in global small scale production. He expressed concern that although GMO can cause highly productive algae, their inevitable release into other biosystems could be highly destructive.

With its ability to sequester CO2, algal fuel production will benefit from cap-and-trade legislation that exists in many states. Algal fuel can be produced in all 50 U.S. states.

Although the challenges are many, the potential of algal fuel is enormous. Exxon is investing $300 million in Craig Ventor’s Synthetic Genomics with plans to produce fuel from algae. Mexico’s BioFields is investing $850 million in an Algenol Biofuels plant for ethanol from microalgae; Dow is adding $50 million to the venture.

Greg Horowitt, T2 Venture Capital, reports that hundreds of millions are being invested in algal fuel companies such as Sapphire Energy, Aurora BioFuels, BARD, Solix, GreenFuel, and Solazyme. From Boeing to BP, from DARPA to DOE, and from Arch Venture Partners to Bill Gates, serious money is betting that algae will someday be a major biofuel source for our trucks, ships, and planes.

John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report and speaks at conferences.

Will Google Charge your Electric Cars?

By John Addison – original article at Clean Fleet Report

Google Energy could be a Smart Charging and V2G Provider

Google finally won approval from Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to be an electric utility. Now that they are making billions delivering web ads, do they want to make added billions selling electricity? Quite possibly. Google already offers a smart meter app that allows smart grid customers to manage their home electricity use. With their new approval to be a utility, Google could be a smart grid / smart charge service provider.

Auto makers and utilities have already agreed on smart charging standards that allow you to plug-in using a J1772 connection, but not have charging start immediately. A service provider is needed to look at your preferences, take action, and provide information. Your preference might be to not charge until 9 p.m. when rates fall to a fraction of peak electricity demand hours. You might want to receive a text message when your charging is complete. You might want Google Maps to show you the nearest public charging stations that are available and display their cost per kilowatt hour. It looks like a natural for companies like Google. They story gets better in the year’s ahead when cars are V2G enabled.

Electric car sales will get a boost when the utility meter spins backward and customers make money by plugging-in. University of Delaware, AutoPort, and partners are planning to put 100 electric cars on the road in the next 18 months that will plug-in and sell power back to the utility using vehicle-to-grid (v2G) technology. AutoPort plans to secure local fleets that fund conversion of their vehicles. The University of Delaware currently has six Scion eBoxs, converted by AC Propulsion, to be electric cars with V2G.

I just got to hear from the V2G experts while I attend the American Association for Advancing Science (AAAS) Conference. I am posting this report from the conference.

A solar home might have 3 to 5 kW of solar PV. An electric car might have 24 kWh stored in its lithium batteries. Vehicles can be charged at night when excess wind and other forms of electricity are generated. The electricity can be sold back at premium rates during peak hours.
By the end of the decade, some electric cars will be less expensive to purchase than gasoline powered cars; most will be much cheaper to fuel. Monthly electric utility bills will be small for some; others will get paid to plug-in. The concept is not new. Solar power grew rapidly whenever feed-in tariffs created an incentive by having utilities purchase power from homes and businesses.

V2G will initially be promoted by agile businesses that can make things happen much faster than cautious utilities or automakers. When V2G becomes a billion dollar business, look for hundreds of players including auto makers and utilities.

The V2G cars in Delaware will get Big Bucks to sell electricity back to the grid. Electric utilities are becoming desperate for stored energy. Utilities are willing to pay serious money for some contracted delivery of electricity. Dr. Jasna Tomic of CALSTART reports that utilities will pay $15 to 55 MWh for electricity supplied for frequency regulation, but the utility does not want to deal with 100,000 car drivers. The utility wants one aggregator in the middle to provide the power. This could eventually be a billion dollar opportuntity for a Google, GE, IBM, EnerNOC, Better Place, or a new start-up.

Spinning reserves is another major opportunity. If a GW coal or nuclear plant goes down, a utility needs to find a new GW of power online in ten minutes. If you are an energy aggregator who can guarantee that GW 24/7 year-round you can make money every day of the year, even if reserves are rarely needed. A utility might pay $20 MWh for spinning reserves.

Ken Huber, Manager Advanced Technology for PJM, an independent systems operator (ISO) PJM, told me that they had 30 incidents last year that required the use of spinning reserves. On average, the reserves were only needed for about ten minutes. PJM is an energy wholesaler with over 550 member companies that serve 51 million people services in 13 states. On a typical day they are providing 100 GW of electricity. They can handle a 144 GW peak load.

These premium ancillary services can cost-justify early adoption of V2G. A decade from now, less valuable peak and base-load delivery of electricity from electric car batteries may add to the economic value of V2G.

Utilities and their air quality regulators would like to get rid of dirty peaker plants that may only be fired up a few hundred hours per year, when temperatures soar and air conditioning blasts cold air. Dr. Tomic estimates a peak power value of 5 to 80 cents per kWh. For those afternoon peak hours, utilities might offer 2 to10 cents per kWh.

100 V2G cars in Delaware is only a beginning. Fleets will be early adopters of V2G. In the United States, fleets currently have over 20,000 light-electric vehicles in operation. These same fleets will be candidates for new freeway-speed electric vehicles with V2G. Early adopters will include other universities, corporate leaders, and government organizations. The U.S. Post Office, if it secures funding support, may convert part of its 220,000 fleet to electric delivery vehicles with V2G. Utilities with thousands of cars and heavy-duty trucks are perfect candidates for early adoption of V2G.

A New Breed of Energy Service Providers

Electric cars, smart grids, and needed grid available storage will attract a agile innovators, many with deep pockets. Ken Huber of PJM identified a number of potential aggregators that include energy storage providers such as CAES which currently provides PJM with one MW of lithium-ion battery storage; smart grid providers such as IBM, Microsoft, Google, and Cisco; vehicle service providers such as GM OnStar, Grid Point, and Better Place; and demand-response providers such as Comverge and EnerNOC.

Some energy providers will fight to be first to market with smart charging and V2G services. Others will be fast followers. Most utilities will leave the investments of capital and creating new business models to others. Some innovative utilities may directly offer their own V2G services – Duke, Edison, Sempra, Austin Energy, and Xcel come to mind. Electric car customers will benefit from the convenience, smart charging cost savings, and ability to make money with V2G.
The Grid is Ready for Millions of Electric Cars

“Electricity is the new vehicle fuel,” explains Dr. Will Kempton, Director, Center for Carbon-free Power Integration, University of Delaware. He is confident that the U.S. electric grid can support millions of electric cars that are likely to be added in the next decades. He observes that the U.S. total grid load is about 417 GW. If all U.S. cars will converted to V2G plug-ins with an average of 15 kWh per vehicle, they would provide 2,865 GW. A U.S. fleet of electric vehicles could provide 7X entire electricity needed in U.S.

The average U.S. car is parked 23 hours per day. If most charge off-peak and only 20 percent are available for V2G at any given time, V2G will be a major contributor in energy security and more affordable electricity. A brighter future will be created by early adopters of electric vehicles, utilities with renewable energy portfolios, and a new breed of smart grid and V2G service providers.

John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report and speaks at conferences. He is the author of the new book – Save Gas, Save the Planet – now selling at Amazon and other booksellers.

USPS may buy 20,000 Hybrid and Electric Vehicles

By John Addison (2/15/10)

Most of the 220,000 U.S. Postal Service vehicles only travel 20 to 25 miles per day making them a good match with the range of an electric vehicle. Hundreds of stops make hybrids and electrics ideal for capturing braking energy and regenerating the batteries.

Instead most USPS vehicles run on gasoline, increasing our nation’s dependency on oil. The popular mid-sized delivery vans achieve about 10 mpg. The 40,000 that sometimes run on E85 ethanol do worse. The Postal Service generates over 5 million tons of CO2 per year, only 12 percent of that is from its 220,000 on-road vehicles.

A Winton electric automobile was first used by the Postal Service in 1899. It only took an hour-and-a-half to collect mail from 40 boxes, less than half the time it took the horse-powered wagon. Over the years, USPS has used a variety of hybrid and electric vehicles.

No one type of vehicle meets all delivery needs. Jets and long-haul trucks move mail across the nation and around the world. Many delivery routes demand larger delivery vans. Others are best served by smaller and lighter vehicles.

Mail is being delivered on a trial basis by three-wheel electric vehicles in Florida, California and Arizona. The T3 has a range of 40 miles, a maximum speed of 12 mph and a load capacity of 450 pounds. Powered by two rechargeable power modules, the T3 has zero gas emissions and costs 4 cents a mile to operate.

The Postal Service is testing a fourth generation fuel-cell Chevrolet Equinox. The crossover vehicle has an electric drive system, lithium batteries, and a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle to keep delivering electrons for extended range. When I visit my alma mater in Irvine, I see the Equinox used to deliver mail. The Irvine hydrogen station is used by the University, corporations, the USMC, and early personal drivers of the Honda FCX Clarity. A second fuel-cell vehicle is being tested in Washington, DC.

In New York City, the Postal Service has had 30 electric 2-ton vehicles on the street since 2001. They were recently joined in Long Island, NY, by two 2-ton hybrid electric vehicles.

The USPS uses medium-duty hybrid electric vans from Eaton Corporation (ETN) and Azure Dynamics (AZD.TO). They join the 10 existing Hybrid-Electric Ford Escape vehicles currently in the fleet.

USPS had ordered 185 Chrysler plug-in hybrid vans, but new Chrysler executives have cancelled the ENVI electric and plug-in vehicles. The electric vehicle manufacturing was cancelled even though that was part of Chrysler’s argument that it needed $20 billion of loans from the taxpayers.

Quantum (QTWW) announced on February 1 that it was selected by the US Postal Service (USPS) to produce an advanced electric postal delivery vehicle based on the widely used Long Life Vehicle (LLV) platform. Quantum is also making the hybrid-electric drive system for Fisker.

Quantum was competitively selected, along with 4 other companies, for participation in a 1 year demonstration and validation program to be conducted by the USPS for the use of electrification of the 178,000 LLV segment of the postal delivery fleet, the largest civilian fleet in the country.
The short range mail routes with numerous stops make postal delivery vehicles an ideal application for a battery electric vehicle with regenerative braking features. Under this program, Quantum will integrate its Quantum Quiet™ high efficiency battery electric drive system, into a Grumman LLV, and optimize for the 500 to 700 stops per day use of a postal delivery vehicle. UQM has received from Quantum an electric-motor and propulsion system order for the USPS electric drive system.

A bill is now being debated in Congress, HR 4399: American Electric Vehicle Manufacturing Act, that would enable the USPS to have 18,000 hybrid-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles as part of its fleet, plus at least 2,000 pure battery electric vehicles. The bill would reduce the need for dirty peaking power plants by accelerating the use of smart grid and vehicle-to-grid. The bill calls for 3,600 charging stations. The bill priorities buying of American made vehicles with American made advanced batteries. Recycling and reuse of the batteries is part of the proposed legislation. The bill calls for $2 billion of estimated spending, investment, and research.

The USPS has demonstrated zero-emission leadership for over 100 years. In sun and darkness, rain and snow, carriers walk billions of miles delivering mail and packages.

John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report and speaks at conferences.

Ford’s Clean Sweep with Ford Fusion Hybrid and Transit Connect

Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) made a clean sweep by capturing both the North American Car of the Year and North American awards for the and 2010 Ford Transit Connect, respectively, at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). It is only the third time in 17 years that one manufacturer has won both titles. The awards demonstrate Ford’s leadership in hybrid cars and in fuel economy.

The North American Car and awards recognize vehicles based on factors including innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value for the dollar. A jury of 49 automotive journalists in the United States and Canada vote for the vehicles.
The Fusion Hybrid edged out finalists including the Buick LaCrosse and Volkswagen Golf/GTI to win the North American Car of the Year award. The Fusion Hybrid is also winner of MOTOR TREND Car of the Year. The Fusion Hybrid is #4 on Clean Fleet Report’s Top 10 Hybrids for 2010.

The Transit Connect bested finalists including the Chevrolet Equinox and Subaru Outback to win the North American award. It also is the second year in a row that Ford has captured the title. Last year, top honors went to the 2009 Ford F-150.

Ford Fusion Hybrid Delivers 39 MPG

The Fusion Hybrid is appealing to those who want a made in America midsized sedan. This roomy 5-seater delivers 39 mpg and 4.7 tons of CO2e per year. The Fusion Hybrid and its first cousin the Mercury Milan Hybrid may travel up to 47 miles per hour in pure electric mode. The Advanced Intake Variable Cam Timing allows for more seamlessly transition between gas and electric modes, making for a smooth and quiet ride. Read about Clean Fleet Report’s Fusion Hybrid test drive.

The Fusion Hybrid also offers drivers a way to be more connected to the hybrid driving experience thanks to Ford’s SmartGauge™ with EcoGuide, a unique instrument cluster execution that helps coach them on how to optimize the performance of their hybrid. The Fusion Hybrid includes Blind Spot Information System (BLIS®), Ford SYNC®, SIRIUS Travel Link™ and more total passenger and luggage capacity than the Toyota Camry.

Despite the slump in overall industry sales, 2009 was a record-breaking year for the Ford Fusion. Sales are at an all-time high, with the Fusion Hybrid accounting for almost 20 percent of total Fusion retail sales. Perhaps even more significant, more than 60 percent of Fusion Hybrid sales have been to customers coming from import brands – mostly Toyota and Honda.

Transit Connect Saves Small Business Money

The Transit Connect was brought to the U.S. to fulfill the unmet needs of small business owners and entrepreneurs, offering them a new vehicle choice with significantly improved fuel economy, generous and accessible cargo space, and the agility and maneuverability to operate in crowded urban areas.

Powered by a 2.0-liter I-4 engine with a four-speed automatic overdrive transmission, the Transit Connect offers double the fuel economy of full-size vans, delivering an EPA-estimated 22 mpg city and 25 mpg highway.

The Transit Connect also has more than double the cargo-carrying capacity of the Chevrolet HHR Panel, making it suitable for a broader range of commercial-use applications. And it offers commercial users a cargo payload of up to 1,600 pounds.

The Transit Connect also is available with the industry-exclusive Ford Work Solutions™, a suite of affordable technologies that provides customers with connectivity, flexibility, visibility and security to better run key aspects of their business. On Transit Connect, Ford Work Solutions delivers three innovative features:
•A wireless in-dash computer that provides full high-speed Internet access, Bluetooth-enabled hands-free calling and navigation. The system also allows customers to print invoices, check inventories and access documents stored on their home or office computer networks right on the job site.
•Tool Link™, a Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) asset tracking system that enables customers to maintain detailed real-time inventory of the tools or equipment.
•Crew Chief™, a fleet tracking, telematics and diagnostics system that provides dynamic location and performance data fleet owners need to more efficiently manage their vehicles, quickly dispatch workers to job sites, monitor driver performance for safety and economy, and keep detailed vehicle maintenance records.

Ford is the first major automaker to offer a pure electric with the 2010 Transit Connect battery-electric commercial vehicle. Businesses and governments can deliver and haul goods all day long without ever needing a drop of gasoline.

John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report and speaks at conferences. He is the author of the new book – Save Gas, Save the Planet – now selling at Amazon and other booksellers.

Ford Electric Car for 2011

By John Addison (originally published in Clean Fleet Report 10/26/09).

My test drive of the new Ford electric car for 2011 demonstrated that Ford (NYSE:F) is building an electric car that millions will want. The Ford Focus EV prototype provided a quiet and smooth drive for a prototype. One Ford engineer indicated that he was going beyond a 60-mile daily range in Michigan without nearing battery depletion.

The Focus EV looks and drives like the popular gasoline powered Ford Focus four-door sedan. It comfortably seated four adults, but good luck if you want three people in the back – it will help if the one in the middle is a child. This BEV will appeal to mainstream drivers that want a sedan that looks and drives like a regular car. Instead of ever visiting a gas station, they will charge in their home garage and/or at work.

This prototype was a converted Focus. It did not include the SmartGauge™ with EcoGuide display available in Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan Hybrids, nor did it include a navigation system with smart charge display user interface expected in the 2011 BEV. The final version is expected to have friendly yet sophisticated display options and some of Ford’s newly introduced telematics.

It drives with quicker acceleration than its gasoline cousin. The prototype, like the final version, had a Magna (MGA) electric drive system. Unlike the final version of the Focus EV, the prototype had a Magna Steyr battery pack taking part of the trunk space. One Ford rep believed that the battery cells were EnerDel (HEV) lithium titanate. Ford will make its own packs for the 2011 commercial version and would not state who will make the cells. Volvo is part of Ford Motor Company. The concept Volvo C30 Battery Electric Vehicle will use EnerDel batteries. Volvo will use A123 (AONE) cells in heavy vehicles integrating a Magna Steyr battery system. Ford has expressed a past preference for the cells to be made in the United States, which would include a number of candidates such as EnerDel and A123.

During my recent tour of a Johnson-Controls (JCI) Saft (SGPEF) joint venture design and manufacturing plant, I was shown a lithium-ion 13 kWh battery with cylindrical cells for the 2012 Ford PHEV. Johnson-Controls gave no indication that it was in the running for the 2011 Ford Focus EV.

No pricing has been announced for the Ford Focus EV. If it comes in at under $40,000 with a $7,500 tax credit, I would be interested in buying one. However, if Nissan or BYD beats Ford to the U.S. BEV market with better delivery and better price or lease rates, then they are likely to get my business over Ford.

In its drive for market share, volume, and improved profit margins, 2012 will be a big year for Ford when the company will have a common C-segment platform for a number of vehicles including the Focus, Focus C-Max, and Escape. As future gasoline price volatility causes shifts in consumer demand, Ford can quickly change its mix of what is manufactured on a common platform. For example if gasoline prices jump, Ford could increase production of vehicles with fuel efficient eco-boost and make less with conventional. Ford could also quickly increase production of electric cars.

The Focus EV will be made in America – Warren, Michigan. Ford is investing $550 million to transform its Michigan Assembly Plant into a lean, green and flexible manufacturing complex that will build Ford’s next-generation Focus global small car along with a new battery-electric version of the Focus for the North American market.

Clean Fleet Report predicts that in 2012, Ford will offer a new global Focus available with several drive systems: conventional engine, 2 liter eco-boost, electric vehicle, both hybrid and plug-in hybrid. By 2012, Ford may be using lithium-ion even for its hybrids. The vehicle will have better range because it will be lighter as Ford executes a strategy of removing 250 to 750 pounds per vehicle. Ford will be well on the way to a 35 percent fuel economy improvement over its 2005 fleet.

The new 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine will go on sale in the 2010 calendar year.
It is the first EcoBoost engine to include Twin-Independent Variable Cam Timing
(Ti-VCT) and will deliver a 10 to 20 percent fuel economy improvement versus larger-displacement V-6 engines. By 2012, the company plans to produce 750,000 EcoBoost units annually in the U.S. and 1.3 million globally. By 2013, Ford will offer EcoBoost engines in 90 percent of its product lineup. 2010 Focus Homepage

I get questions (or rather lectures that start with a questions), “Why would someone pay more for an electric vehicle, when you can’t even cost justify a hybrid?” First, some people make money with hybrids over comparable non-hybrids. When I bought my 2002 Prius for $20,000, I paid about $4,000 more than for a non-hybrid with similar features. Over seven years, the car saved my wife and me over $5,000 in gasoline, and then I sold it about $4,000 more than a similar non-hybrid.

While I was test driving the Focus EV in San Francisco, I saw many taxis that were Ford Escape Hybrids, Toyota Priuses, Toyota Camry Hybrids, and even a Ford Fusion Hybrid Taxi. These taxis put on 90,000 miles per year. Hybrids make the owners money by saving a fortune in fuel. New York has over 2,000 Ford hybrids in its taxi fleet.

The fact is that hybrids make money for some owners and not for others. It depends on how the cars are used and how often. In the past 12 months of severe economic downturn, Ford has increased its hybrid sales 73 percent.

Early adopters will not shell out $40,000 for an EV to save money over a sedan for less than half that cost. For mass market success, auto makers and battery makers must drive cost down the learning curve over a few years. Competition is growing for battery electric, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid car leadership. By 2020, these vehicles could represent up to 25 percent of Ford’s production – that’s 2 million cars annually with electric drive systems and advanced battery packs.

<!– By John Addison, Oct 26th, 2009. Learn about the future of cars and transportation in John’s new book – Save Gas, Save the Planet.–> By John Addison. John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report and speaks at conferences. He is the author of the new book – Save Gas, Save the Planet – now selling at Amazon and other booksellers. (disclosure: author owns stock in Ener1, parent company of EnerDel)

Delivery and Service Vans Plug-in

By John Addison (10/5/09). A growing number are eager to buy plug-in hybrids from Toyota, Chevy, Ford, Fisker, and others that are completing new manufacturing for 2010 orders and serious competition in 2011. Oil prices have doubled from their low this year. People are planning to save on fuel for years, by using more inexpensive electricity and less gasoline.

Fuel costs millions for the delivery and service fleets that bring us our mail and goods and keep our cities running. About one million new vans are purchased annually in North America.

For years, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has piloted electric vehicles in its fleet of over 200,000 delivery vehicles. Azure created custom electric vehicles for the post office. Encouraged, the USPS has ordered 165 of the new plug-in hybrid Chrysler Town & Country Minivans for delivery use. Next year, these Chrysler vans will be available for commercial sale by everyone from small businesses to active soccer families.

Ford is starting to take orders from municipalities and other government agencies that will use the new Transit Connect light-duty van in a variety of applications from city maintenance to on-demand transit. Deliveries of these electric vehicles, made for Ford by Smith Electric Vehicles, will start in 2010. Transit Connect may also do well with small businesses and local delivery fleets. Clean Fleet Ford Report

South Coast Air Quality Management District has helped fleets achieve significant mileage gains with Sprinter Vans converted to be plug-in hybrid.

The electric utilities that will help power these plug-ins often have thousands of vehicles in their fleet. Utilities have turned to companies like Eaton to double the mileage of their trouble trucks with hybrid and plug-in hybrid drive systems. Ford F550s were first converted into hybrids and now into plug-in hybrid trouble trucks. In addition to using less diesel fuel, these trucks can run all their accessories electrically. Previously, they had to idle the truck engine for hours to host a repair technician into the air, to run repair equipment, and all auxiliaries. Clean Fleet PG&E Report

The Eaton hybrid-electric drive system will be used in 138 FedEx delivery vans. In New York alone, FedEx deployed 48 E700 Eaton hybrids. Clean Fleet FedEx Report Local delivery vans can particularly benefit in fuel savings by capturing braking energy with frequent stops, by establishing a central charging infrastructure, and by having mid-day opportunities for recharging in between morning pick-ups and afternoon deliveries.

Eaton Corporation’s truck and electrical businesses will support a $45.4 million grant to develop a fully integrated plug-in hybrid systems for Class 2 to 5 vehicles, weighing up to 19,500 pounds. A demonstration fleet of 378 plug-in hybrid trucks and shuttle buses will be put into use. Green Car Congress

Plug-in vans and trucks can have a major impact on U.S. oil dependency. Federal, state, and local fleets own 4 million vehicles. Corporations have bigger total fleets. There is great interest in extending the electric-range of vehicles. Most attention has been placed on battery improvements. A more practical way to extend range is to make vehicles more aerodynamic and lighter.

Bright Automotive wants to make 50,000 plug-in hybrid vans per year that are built from the ground-up to deliver 100 mpg in a van that can carry 180 cubic feet of cargo. A typical van carrying such load might achieve 15 mpg. This spin-off of the Rocky Mountain Institute has major strategic partners including Alcoa, Johnson-Controls, and Google. The Bright IDEA van weighs only 3,200 pounds, less than a Prius, and can go 30 miles on battery power alone. It will be stronger than steel, yet built with light-weight aluminum and composite material like the Tesla. With a sub-.3 drag coefficient, the van only needs a 10 kWh lithium battery pack. In demanding delivery applications, each Bright IDEA could save $6,000 per year in fuel.

Bright is currently doing a project for the U.S. Department of Defense that involves converting a VW Transporter to be a plug-in hybrid. Bright hopes to secure a federal loan to build a manufacturing plant in Indiana to build the new light aerodynamic vans in volume.

Fleets are taking the lead in energy security and reduced emissions with fleets of hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric vehicles.

John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report and speaks at conferences. He is the author of the new book – Save Gas, Save the Planet – now selling at Amazon and other booksellers.

Public Transportation uses more Renewable Energy

By John Addison (9/30/09). More Americans ride on public transit than any time in the past 50 years as more live in cities and most watch their transportation costs. Remarkably, transit operators are moving more people, yet reducing our dependency on oil and generating less carbon emissions. Increased use of solar, other renewables, vehicle electrification, and low-carbon fuels are all part of solution.

New Jersey Transit is preparing for a future where parked cars can be charged with sunlight while people use public transportation. New Jersey Transit is installing 402 kW solar canopies on the rooftops of two large parking garages at the Trenton Amtrak Transit center.

These parking structures are also equipped with 110v charging stations for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. Participating in the opening ceremony was the Mid-Atlantic Grid Interactive Cars (MAGIC) consortium, which includes the University of Delaware, Pepco Holdings, PJM Interconnect, Comverge, AC Propulsion, and the Atlantic County Utilities Authority, created to further develop, test, and demonstrate vehicle-to-grid technology.

A few years ago, Los Angeles Metro invested $5 million to install 2MW of solar power as part of a three-year plan to install solar panels on every Metro Bus and Rail facility within its Los Angeles County service area. For example, the solar panels installed on Metro Bus Division 18’s maintenance building rooftop and shading parking structures consist of about 1,600 solar panels that generate 417 kilowatts of electricity, enough power pay for itself in 10 to 11 years.
Now LA Metro will receive $4,466,000 to make its rail system more energy efficient. Red Line Westlake Rail Wayside Energy Storage System: Install wayside energy storage substation (WESS) at Westlake passenger station is at-grade level on the high-speed heavy rail subway Red Line. The nearby traction power substation will be switched off when the WESS is operating. The WESS flywheel technology captures regenerative braking energy when trains slow or stop and transfer back to same train or another train when it starts or accelerates, reducing energy demand and peak power requirements.

This month, the federal administration announced $100 million in Economic Recovery Act funding for 43 transit agencies that are pursuing cutting-edge renewable energy and efficiency technologies to help reduce global warming, lessen America’s dependence on oil, and create green jobs. The 43 winning proposals were submitted by transit agencies from across the country as part of a nationwide competition for $100 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) funds. Selection criteria included a project’s ability to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions and also to provide a return on the investment. The Federal Transit Administration reviewed more than $2 billion in applications for these funds.

AC Transit in Oakland, California, is awarded $6,400,000 to increase photovoltaic capacity to generate “green” hydrogen: Install multiple PV modules at its Central Maintenance Facility in Hayward. Combined with AC Transit’s already-installed solar capacity, this solar installation will produce the renewable electricity equivalent to what will be required to produce 180 kg/day of “green” hydrogen for 12 buses carrying up to 5,000 riders daily, for the current 3 zero-emission buses that carry about 1,000 riders daily.

VIA Metropolitan Transit, San Antonio, Texas, was awarded $5,000,000 to replace conventional diesel transit buses with 35-ft composite body electric transit buses. The project includes quick-charging stations at this terminal layover in route to recharge bus batteries. Grid sourced electrical energy used to recharge the bus batteries will be augmented with solar energy collected with panels procured and installed under this project.

The nation is becoming less dependent on oil as record numbers escape solo driving in gridlock and increasingly use public transit. Electrification of light-rail and buses coupled with renewable energy makes this transportation greener.

Clean Fleet Report Summary of RE Projects

John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report and speaks at conferences. He is the author of the new book – Save Gas, Save the Planet – now selling at Amazon and other booksellers.

Ford Returns to Profitability with Improved Mileage

By John Addison (7/23/09). Ford has returned to profitability, benefiting from increased market share which is the likely result of improved mileage. Ford earned almost $2.4 billion for the quarter, but it was the result of a large one-time gain associated with the debt reduction actions completed in April. The pre-tax operating losses were $424 million; an improvement of $609 million from year-ago results.

Ford has gained U.S. market share for January through June 2009. Wards Six month market share:

GM 19.8%
Toyota (TM) 16.1%
Ford (F) 15.9%
Honda (HMC) 11.1%
Chrysler 9.8%

Ford also gained share in Europe and Asia, boosted by the fuel efficient Fiesta.

In contrast with GM and Chrysler, Ford is the only U.S.-headquartered manufacturer with vehicles qualifying for the Clean Fleet Report Cars with the Lowest Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Both the Ford Fusion Hybrid and Ford Escape Hybrid are in the top 10 list.

Ford is on target to meeting CAFÉ with average fuel economy in 2010 being 20 % better than 2005.

The Focus will be increasingly important to Ford’s success as it lowers manufacturing cost with a global version and when it offers an electric version in 2011.

In 2012, the Ford Escape Hybrid, already the most fuel efficient SUV, will get a lot more efficient by also being available as a plug-in hybrid. The PHEV Escape Hybrid is already being tested in a number of fleets. By 2012, Ford will offer multiple

EcoBoost engines will be delivered in over 1 million vehicles globally, delivering better mileage through turbocharging and direct fuel injection.

Ford could have greater market share than GM by 2012, unless GM transforms its entrenched culture centered on large heavy vehicles as the only way to generate adequate profit margins. In the next few years, Ford will face increased competition with Toyota and Honda both offering hybrids for less than $20,000. Ford will also face intense EV competition with Nissan (NSANY), BYD, and a number of emerging electric vehicle makers.

In the future, oil price increases and oil shocks will deliver market share to makers who minimize consumption of petroleum fuels. Winners will build the best hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric vehicles. Ford is investing nearly $14 billion in the U.S. over the next seven years on advanced technology vehicles, including $5.9 billion in loans from the U.S. Department of Energy for advanced fuel-saving vehicles.

“In 10 years, 12 years, you are going to see a major portion of our portfolio move to electric vehicles,” Ford CEO Alan Mulally stated earlier this year. Now Ford is executing its electrification strategy.

Ford Q2 Earnings Presentation

Earnings Transcript

By John Addison. John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report and speaks at conferences. He is the author of the new book – Save Gas, Save the Planet – now selling at Amazon and other booksellers.

Ford Grabs Market Share

If you are working at Ford (F), it looks like the downturn in auto sales is ending. In June, sales fell only 11 percent over a year ago. Optimism does not permeate all of Detroit; General Motors (GM) sales feel 33 percent for the month; Chrysler, 48 percent. Even Toyota (TM) U.S. sales were down 32 percent June over June last year.

Ford is the only one of the Big Three Detroit auto makers that avoided bankruptcy and a federal bailout.

Ford ended June with a 60-day supply of vehicles on hand, down 38 percent from a year ago. Fewer inventories could lead to improved profit margins. Those inventories will shrink with a new “cash for clunkers” program that provides added government discounts of up to $4,500 for trade-in vehicles getting less than 19 mpg. It’s not all rosy, however, with many potential buyers being unable to get an auto loan.

Fuel Economy

Oil prices have doubled – fuel economy is back in. Ford helps at the pump with new EcoBoost technology and hybrid technology. Ford is the only Detroit maker that was on Clean Fleet Report’s Vehicles with the Lowest Carbon Emissions.

June sales of the company’s hybrid vehicles totaled 3,649, up 91 percent versus a year ago. Ford will extend its current hybrid success with added models. During my recent test-drive of several vehicles that already meet the 2016 CAFE requirements, the midsized Ford Fusion Hybrid demonstrated that you can enjoy fuel economy in a larger car with comfort and safety. The Ford Fusion Hybrid has an EPA certified rating of 41 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. The car can be driven up to 47 mph in electric mode with no gasoline being consumed. Ford will start selling pure battery electric vehicles next year that will lower its fleet mileage average. CAFÉ

As gas prices increase, the Ford Ranger pickup sales also increased. The model with a 2.3L engine and stick shift gets the best gas mileage of any U.S. pickup at 23 mpg. Ford has the mileage champions in both pickups and SUVs.

The best mileage SUV on the market is the Ford Escape Hybrid with 32 mpg. In 2012, Ford will also offer a plug-in version of the Escape Hybrid that will blow-away the 35.5 mile standard.

Electric Future

The expansion of hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery-electric offerings will be helped by Ford recently securing $5.9 billion in federal loans with a lower 5 percent interest rate.

Ford’s first EV will be the new battery-electric Transit Connect vans. These city vans will appeal to green retailers and service companies that make deliveries and follow routes that match the 100 mile range of the electric vans. The vans are made in collaboration with Tanfield’s (TAN.L) Smith Electric are now selling in Europe and will start U.S. sales next year.

In 2011 Ford will offer a new battery-electric Focus sedan made in collaboration with Magna International (MGA). Now that most U.S. citizens live in urban settings, the idea of a primary or secondary car that never needs gasoline will have growing appeal.
In 2011 Ford will offer a new battery-electric Focus sedan made in collaboration with Magna International. Now that most U.S. citizens live in urban settings, the idea of a primary or secondary car that never needs gasoline will have growing appeal. Although Nissan will have a head start with thousands of freeway-speed electric vehicles already in use by U.S. customers, Ford could catch-up if it offers the Focus EV for less than $30,000.

The competition will boost revenues for Ford battery supplier Johnson Controls-SAFT; Nissan is in a li-ion JV with NEC.

In 2012, the Ford Escape Hybrid, already the most fuel efficient SUV, will get a lot more efficient by also being available as a plug-in hybrid. The PHEV Escape Hybrid is already being tested in a number of fleets.

“In 10 years, 12 years, you are going to see a major portion of our portfolio move to electric vehicles,” Ford CEO Alan Mulally stated earlier this year. Now Ford is executing its electrification strategy.

By John Addison. John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report and speaks at conferences. He is the author of the new book about the future of transportation – Save Gas, Save the Planet – now selling at Amazon and other booksellers.

New Cars that Already Meet 2016 Fuel Economy Standards

By John Addison. President Barack Obama announced that automakers must meet average U.S. fuel-economy standards of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016. This will be an exciting opportunity for automakers that already deliver vehicles that beat 35.5 mpg such as the Ford (F) Fusion Hybrid, Mercury Milan Hybrid, Toyota (TM) Prius, Honda (HMC) Insight, Honda Civic Hybrid, and the Mercedes Smart Fortwo. You can buy these gas misers today. A number of other vehicles offered in the U.S. now come close to the 2016 standard, and will see mileage improvements next year.

In Europe, over 100 models can be purchased that meet the 2016 standards, thanks to the popularity of cars that are smaller, lighter weight, and often use efficient turbo diesel engines.

Over the next three years, dozens of exciting cars will be introduced in the United States. Here are some offerings that we are likely to see in the next one to three years from major auto makers.

Ford (F) will extend its current hybrid success with added models. During my recent test-drive of several vehicles that meet the 2016 requirement the midsized Ford Fusion Hybrid demonstrates that you can enjoy fuel economy in a larger car with comfort and safety. The Ford Fusion Hybrid has an EPA certified rating of 41 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. The car can be driven up to 47 mph in electric mode with no gasoline being consumed. Ford will start selling pure battery electric vehicles next year that will lower its fleet mileage average.

The best mileage SUV on the market is the Ford Escape Hybrid with 32 mpg. In 2012, Ford will also offer a plug-in version of the Escape Hybrid that will blow-away the 35.5 mile standard. Bringing the popular Fiesta to the U.S. with a 1.6L gasoline engine will also attract budget minded buyers looking for good mileage.

In discussing the new standards, Ford CEO Alan Mulally stated, “We are pleased President Obama is taking decisive and positive action as we work together toward one national standard for vehicle fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions that will benefit the environment and the economy.”

General Motors (GM) plans to be the leader in plug-in hybrids starting with the Chevy Volt. It has a major opportunity to extend its E-Flex architecture to SUVs and trucks by 2016. For the price conscious buyer, the Chevy Spark hatchback with a 1.2L gasoline engine should deliver over 40 mpg.

There are almost 40,000 Chrysler GEM electric vehicles in use today. The GEM 25 mph speed limits them to only being popular in fleets, university towns, and retirement communities. Chrysler will extend its early U.S. electric vehicle leadership in 2010 with new freeway speed plug-in hybrids that can be driven 40 miles in electric mode, before engaging the gasoline engine – the Jeep Wrangler, an SUV, and the Town and Country Minivan. Over time, Chrysler can expand its ENVI family. Chrysler’s new stockholder Fiat will bring in exciting smaller cars and help expand the EV success.

Toyota (TM) will expand on the success of the Prius with more new hybrids. Since 2002, I have been driving a Prius that has averaged 41 mpg in real world driving that has included climbing hills with bikes on a roof rack and driving through snow with skis on the roof rack. The Prius will also be made available as a plug-in hybrid – hundreds of these PHEVs are now being tested by fleets. The modestly priced Yaris, which gets 32 mpg, is likely to also be offered as a hybrid that delivers over 40 mpg.

Honda (HMC) is likely to be the first maker to meet 2016 CAFÉ requirements, building on its historical leadership in fuel economy. My mother has easily achieved over 45 mpg with her Honda Civic Hybrid. Now Honda is going after the Toyota Prius with the Honda Insight. The popular Fit, which gets 31 mpg, is likely to also be offered as a hybrid offering over 40 mpg. Look for more high mileage offerings from both Honda and Toyota as they compete for hybrid leadership.

Nissan’s (NSANY) Altima Hybrid delivers an impressive 34 mpg. Beyond hybrids, Nissan is determined to be the leader in battery electric vehicles. Working with fleet consortiums and major electric utilities, next year Nissan may seed the market with thousands of freeway speed electric vehicles. The Nissan EVs have ranges of at least 100 miles per charge. Clean Fleet Report EV Test Drive

This article does not pretend to be a complete review of what is coming, rather a taste of what is here and what will soon be here from six major automakers. Given economic challenges, not all forecasts will happen. There will be surprises, more new models, and new model names. Not all plans will be executed as Chrysler deals with bankruptcy reorganization and as GM considers one.

Meeting the CAFÉ standards by 2016 will not be a slam dunk for all of the automakers, but they will make it. Historically, CAFE standards have not aligned with the EPA fuel economy determinations used in this article. For better and worse, flexfuel vehicles get artificially high numbers, making it easier for GM, Ford, and Chrysler to meet CAFE targets. Plug-in hybrid and EV ratings need to be finalized. To meet fleet average requirements, cars will need to average higher than 35.5; light-trucks and SUVs lower.

Trends to more efficient drive systems are a certainty. With oil prices now close to double the recent lows of earlier this year, these new vehicles bring important relief to every driver who wants to save at the pump.

John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report and details the future of transportation in his new book Save Gas, Save the Planet.

2010 Cars Deliver Performance and Fuel Economy

This is my first time to drive on a race track and I’m wondering if these are my final moments on planet earth. Here at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca I take the Andretti Hairpin and learn to accelerate in successive turns. After accelerating uphill, I enter “The Corkscrew” where I cannot see the sharp downhill turn to the left until I am in the middle of it. As I get into this sharp turn, I need to prepare for the sequence of curves that immediately follow. Yes, it’s a corkscrew.

I try to remember the coaching that I received. Hold the steering wheel with something less than a death grip. Breathe. Look ahead – but looking ahead at the top of the Corkscrew I only see blue sky. Looking ahead to my future, I only see darkness.

The 2009 BMW 335d that I am driving handles beautifully, offers more turbodiesel acceleration than I care to try, and I guarantee you that the brakes work.

After three laps, I exit the track, park the BMW, remove my helmet as I leave the car, and resist kissing the ground in front of real drivers. I have been invited to test drive new vehicles with the Western Automotive Journalists, even though I write about green cars and clean transportation. I long for yesterday.

Yesterday, I tested cars with good fuel economy on streets with posted speed limits. Drives included three cars that made the list of Top 10 Low Carbon Footprint Cars. Yesterday, the 20 mile test drives were along the ocean in Monterey and on beautiful tree lined roads where I could easily see the next turn.

The 2010 Ford (F) Fusion Hybrid easily seats five, has plenty of trunk storage, and actually delivers better mileage than the MINI due to Ford’s impressive hybrid drive system. The new Ford midsized sedan that I drove has an EPA certified 41 mpg rating in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. The base suggested price is $27,995.

It may prove to be popular with anyone considering the Toyota (TM) Camry Hybrid; Ford delivers equal room, safety, and comfort with better rated mileage. Although the Fusion Hybrid has a better mileage rating than the Camry Hybrid, that advantage is not always delivered in real world driving. Edmonds Test Drive

In theory, the Ford Fusion Hybrid can travel up to 47 miles per hour in electric mode; I could only sustain the engine-off mode when gliding downhill. Even on flat roads driving 25 mph, the engine would engage.

Ford does a nice job of encouraging drivers to get better fuel economy. The SmartGage had a display section that filled with green leaves as I drove with a light touch that reduced demands on the 2.5L engine. The Ford Fusion Hybrid delivered the smoothest driving experience of any hybrid which I have driven. I did not notice the transitions from gas to electric mode. The transitions were seamless.

Even better mileage was delivered by the 2010 Honda (HMC) Insight EX which I drove in Monterey. It is rated 43 mpg highway and 40 mpg city. The Insight’s combined EPA rating of 41 contrasts with the 2010 Prius expected rating of at least 50 mpg. The Honda Insight has an aerodynamic body similar to the Prius. Although the two five-door hatchbacks look similar, the Prius is a longer midsized car. In theory, the Honda Insight pricing starts at $19,800 which has pressured Toyota to offer a Prius with a base price only $2,000 higher. The 2010 Insight that I drove included upgrades such as a navigation system and six speaker audio system. The vehicle price, including pre-delivery service, was $23,770.

I started the Insight, and then touched the ECO button. Even in that mode, I had enough acceleration to get on any freeway in a hurry. The ECO mode helped me minimize demands on the 1.3L gasoline engine as I navigated the roads hugging Monterey’s dramatic coast. Like the Ford Fusion Hybrid, I was rewarded with a display of green leaves for my eco-driving behavior. Handling was smooth and a bit sporty.

Driving the Honda Insight was smooth and quiet even when I went up a sustained 16 percent grade, demonstrating that its electric motor is quite effective in blending power with the 98 hp engine.

Price will definitely be a factor in buyers deciding between the Honda Insight and the Toyota Prius. In some markets, such as California, another factor may be the ability to get an HOV sticker with the Insight. For my money, if I could get a larger more fuel efficient Prius for only $2,000 more, then I would get the Prius. On the other hand, if there was a $5,000 price differential at the dealer, then I would go with the Insight. All in all, both are wonderful cars.

If you want great fuel economy, few compromises, and driving pleasure, test drive the latest hybrids from automakers like Toyota, Honda, and Ford. The intensified competition between them is bringing better performance and safety and economy.

Complete Article including MINI Cooper test drive.

John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report and is the author of Save Gas, Save the Planet.

UPS Delivers with New Hydraulic Hybrid Vehicles

By John Addison. Millions of last minute shoppers used UPS to get their gifts delivered on time. The snow storms did not stop UPS. On December 22, I skipped the hour line at the post office, which was open on Sunday, instead shipping via UPS. I got my gifts to my brother by December 24.

Delivery giant UPS helps people drive less. UPS delivers over 16 million packages per day to over 200 countries. 70 percent of its volume is commercial; 30 percent residential. UPS operates nearly 100,000 ground vehicles, 600 airplanes, 3,000 facilities, and employs over 400,000 people.

UPS first put a hybrid-electric delivery van into operation in 1998. Although UPS has experienced over a 40% improvement in fuel economy with 50 hybrid-electric delivery vehicles, a new type of hybrid may be even better.

UPS will deploy two new hydraulic hybrid vehicles (HHV) in Minneapolis during the first quarter of 2009. The additional five HHV’s will be deployed later in 2009 and early 2010. The Navistar delivery truck uses an Eaton hydraulic hybrid drive system with the diesel engine in series. The vehicle uses hydraulic pumps and hydraulic storage tanks to capture and store energy, similar to what is done with electric motors and batteries in a hybrid electric vehicle. The engine periodically recharges pressure in the hydraulic propulsion system. Fuel economy is increased in three ways: vehicle braking energy is recovered; the engine is operated more efficiently, and the engine can be shut off when stopped or decelerating. Eaton Hybrid Systems

Delivery fleets are excellent early adopters of clean vehicles. UPS, FedEx, the United States Postal Service, and others are finding that hybrid technology is excellent at capturing braking energy from the frequent stops made by delivery vehicles. Plug-in hybrid Sprinter vans are achieving over 100 miles per gallon. These major carriers all have pilot programs using electric delivery vans and trucks can be parked.

UPS emitted 7.47 million metric tons of CO2 in 2007; other GHG emissions not reported (jets are responsible for emission of other GHG in addition to CO2). Over 87 percent of CO2 gas emissions were from its transportation use, rather than stationary power. Jet fuel represents 46% of U.S. Package Operations energy use; diesel 37%. Airplanes demand tremendous amounts of petroleum processed fuel and are probably responsible for most greenhouse gas emissions for the delivery giant.

When we read about energy independence and reducing transportation greenhouse gas emissions, passenger vehicles get most of the press. In fact, it is fleets that lead in testing and improving vehicle technology. UPS has been a leader since the 1930s.

More…Clean Fleet Report with more about UPS hydrids and GHG reduction tactics.

John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report. His new book, Save Gas, Save the Planet, will be published March 25, 2009.

Car Sharing Competition: Hertz and Enterprise Chase Zipcar

By John Addison. New car sharing programs allow two or more people to need only one car. Each shared vehicle results in 6 to 23 cars not being owned. Once someone joins a car share program, they cut their vehicle miles traveled up to 80 percent. Introduced first in Europe, car sharing is now growing in the United States with over 200 car share programs operating in over 600 cities.

Zipcar is the leader in car sharing with over 260,000 members. Car sharing is popular with individuals who live car free in a city, with couples who share one car, with university students and staff, and with corporate fleet and travel managers.

Zipcar makes car sharing easy. After a simple enrollment a member is issued a Zipcard. Members reserve a car online or on the phone. At the appropriate hour, they go to their designated car, parked in one of many lots in the city. A Zipcard is used to enter the vehicle and drive until returned to the reserved parking space. A variety of vehicles are available in their program from hybrids to SUVs.

Hertz, as the largest international rental car company, has entered the car sharing market by launching the Connect by Hertz car sharing club, with neighborhood parking in London, New York City and Paris. Hertz plans to expand into additional cities, as well as universities, in 2009. As Hertz expands, it can leverage its established presence in 8,100 locations in 144 countries worldwide

Membership in Connect by Hertz includes insurance, fuel, roadside assistance, maintenance and cleaning. Connect by Hertz members enjoy a paperless program where they can reserve, drive and return vehicles all on their own, via the internet or phone. “Connect by Hertz supports Hertz’s diversified business model by providing best-in-class transportation solutions across the spectrum of customer needs,” commented Mark P. Frissora, Chairman and CEO of The Hertz Corporation. “In addition to being environmentally friendly, Connect by Hertz cars can save members thousands of dollars a year in vehicle ownership costs and, by leveraging Hertz’s established infrastructure, we’re the first major car rental company to be able to offer members the first global car sharing program.”

The showcase car of the Connect by Hertz fleet in the United States is the Toyota Prius. The fuel emissions of the London and Paris cars are significantly less than the voluntary target of a maximum 140 g/km CO2 output set by the EU.

To unlock and engage the Hertz vehicle, members simply swipe their membership card, the Connect card, over the car’s radio-frequency identification (RFID) reader. In car, a hands-free audio kit connects members to a Member Care Center representative should they have questions, need assistance or need to extend their rental. The in-car technology also enables Connect by Hertz to ‘communicate’ with the vehicle enabling representatives to unlock, engage and locate vehicles. The technologically savvy cars are also equipped with iPod connectivity and, in the US, NeverLost® in-car navigation systems and EZ Pass transponders.

Complete Article includes Enterprise and Corporate Programs

Car sharing is destined to grow and attract growing competition.

Copyright © John Addison. Excerpts of this article will appear in his upcoming book – Save Gas, Save the Planet. John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report.

A Better Strategy for Detroit: Electric Drive not Flexfuel

In 2006, Detroit held high hopes of being profitable by selling millions of flexfuel vehicles. The vehicles are named flexfuel because they can be fueled with either E85 ethanol or with gasoline. It cost little extra to make these flexfuel vehicles. The flexfuel modifications were not made to all engines. They were made in bigger engines for SUVs, trucks, and big cars with better profit margins, but subpar fuel economy. Millions of flexfuel vehicles were sold.

Thousands of E85 stations appeared, primarily in corn growing states. A federal law was passed requiring production of 36 billion gallons of biofuel to be produced by 2022. Executive orders gave preference to buying flexfuel vehicles for the fleet of 4 million federal, state, and local vehicles. As food prices soared, one billion people struggled to afford food. The law was modified to requiring 16 billion of the 36 billion gallons to be from cellulosic sources. Biofuel 2.0

Recently at the Los Angeles Auto Show, I saw flexfuel vehicles extensively displayed in GM and Ford booths. They are also pilling-up in at auto dealers throughout the nation. These flexfuel vehicles fail to delivery the fuel economy that people are now demanding.

Although Detroit automakers sell flexfuel vehicles with good mileage in Brazil, in the United States, the best EPA mileage rating for a vehicle using E85 is 19 miles per gallon.

As we approach 2009, transportation is beginning a major shift away from the internal combustion engine to electric drive systems. Just as downloadable music disrupted CD sales, just as mainframe computing gave way to distributed computing, transportation is shifting to a new electric-drive paradigm.

At the Auto Show crowds were excited by new electric vehicles, including plug-in hybrids and fuel cell vehicles. Crowds surrounded BMW’s Mini E, the freeway-speed battery electric version of the Mini Cooper with a 150 mile range. Nissan was showing off its Cube and talking about making 100 mile range battery electric vehicles in volume, with fleet quantities in 2010. Mitsubishi’s iMiEV was shown as is being put into trail at the electric utility SCE.

Big automakers were also displaying fuel cell vehicles that extend the range and speed the fueling time for electric vehicles. Chevrolet, Daimler, Honda, and Toyota are each putting over 100 of their hydrogen vehicles into daily fleet and personal use. Toyota also has big plans for plug-in hybrids. Look for new announcements in Chicago this coming February.

GM continued to generate excitement with its Chevy Volt, a beautiful sporty sedan with a range of 40 miles in electric mode and hundreds of added miles using a small gasoline engine to extend range.

Chrysler was demonstrating four different electric vehicles at the L.A. Auto Show. The popular low-cost battery electric Chrysler GEM has now passed 38,000 in use in the United States, with sales continuing to do well. Although it is limited to 25 mph and a 40 mile max range, the bigger new Chyrsler ENVI electric vehicles get from 0 to 60 in as little as 5 seconds with EVs and plug-in hybrids that include Jeeps, mini-vans, and sports cars. Chrysler Details

The full transition to electric transportation may take 40 years, but it is unstoppable. The fuel of choice is shifting from foreign oil to our own renewable energy resources. Over 40,000 people now drive electric vehicles in the United States. Most are the 25 mph types, not the $100,000 Teslas, but in 2010 several affordable freeway speed choices will be offered by Nissan, Chrysler, GM, Toyota, and dozens of exciting smaller companies.

Although millions of electric vehicles will displace cars with gasoline engines, the internal combustion engine will be with us for decades in hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and heavy-duty trucks. Using new biofuel blends in these engines will help us achieve energy security. Biofuels from cellulosic sources will help moderate damaging greenhouse gas emissions. Biofuels are not a panacea; rather, they are an important transitional solution for the next decades.

Currently, 142 billion gallons of gasoline are consumed annually in the United States. In ten years, consumption could moderate to 120 billion gallons annually, even with population growth, due to these factors: CAFÉ fuel efficiency standards, replacement of some gasoline engines with more efficient turbo diesel, growth of electric vehicles, growing use of commute programs, growing use of trains and transit, and reduced vehicle miles traveled.

Fuel refiners and engine manufacturers could agree on standards so that 20 percent of gasoline could be from ethanol and other approved next generation biofuel. This 20 percent would be 24 billion gallons annually of fuel from biomass, not from petroleum. Flexfuel vehicles that deliver under 30 mpg are not needed. A new E85 infrastructure is not needed.

The United States can regain its world leadership in transportation by investing in future solutions, not the failed strategies of the past. Millions of jobs can be created in public transportation, high-speed rail, electric cars, hybrid electric heavy vehicles, renewable energy, and next generation biofuels that can be blended with existing gasoline and diesel.

John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report and speaks at conferences. His new book, Save Gas, Save the Planet, goes on sale March 25.

FedEx Improves Fuel Efficiency

By John Addison (9/18/08). FedEx is sometimes referred to as a bellwether for the U.S. economy. The bellwether appears to be doing OK, based on the quarterly financials which FedEx released today.

Revenues increased, but earnings decreased 22% over a year ago. For fiscal year 2009, FedEx expects to earn $4.75 to $5.25 per share, up from $3.64 for fiscal year 2008. Daily volume in FedEx’s Express and Ground segments increased 1%, helped by growth in ground, FedEx SmartPost and international domestic express shipments. U.S. domestic package volume fell 5%. FedEx Statistics

The key to FedEx’s future is continued improvements in efficiency. Customers look to FedEx to handle shipment, logistics and delivery better than competitive alternatives. One challenge for FedEx is controlling fuel costs including jet fuel, diesel and gasoline. All these fuels are refined from oil. So when oil prices again increase, FedEx must minimize the impact.

In fiscal year 2008, FedEx consumed 1,227,290,000 gallons of jet fuel – yes, over one billion gallons – delivering 7.5 million packages daily by air and ground. In Q1 08, jet fuel cost $2.295/gal; in the latest quarter, cost $4.058/gal. FedEx’s total jet fuel cost increased 76% over the same quarter of the previous fiscal year. By being more efficient, however, FedEx reduced gallons of jet fuel used from 310,794,000 in Q1 08 to 294,724,000 in Q1 09, a five percent reduction. FedEx is beginning to upgrade its air fleet by replacing Boeing 727 planes with 757 that reduces fuel consumption 36 percent while providing 20 percent more capacity.

During my recent visit to the FedEx Express Super Hub in Oakland, I witnessed efficiency in reducing jet fuel and many other improvements in operations. Through this hub, 250,000 packages are received, sorted, and then put on planes or trucks moving them towards their delivery destinations. Packages of every shape and size moved through conveyors of the massive center, being routed left and right, up and down, based on bar code information. A small package with a Teddy Bear for Alicia is routed left continues its journey to Atlanta. A thousand pound container of just-in-time electronic components from Taiwan continues its journey to the manufacturer in San Jose.

Robin Van Galder, Managing Director of the Oakland Operations, took me on a tour of the 60 acre facility that might handle 50 planes and 200 trucks on a given day. With 1,400 employees, I was surprised that he was greeting everyone by name. This hub is part of FedEx’s growth including Asia Pacific, as more goods move to and from Asia, by plane including Oakland and San Francisco and by the ships in major West Coast ports such as Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland. Everything is in motion, as large containers are unloaded, packages routed, containers reloaded, planes and long-haul trucks filled.

In the future, more packages will be automatically sorted with less human oversight needed as containers embed RFID chips containing more information than bar code. RFID readers were present and sometimes used during my tour.

Each day some 50 planes land, unload, reload, and then depart the FedEx hub which is located within the Oakland International Airport complex. More efficient Boeing 727-200s have replaced 727-100s. Larger MD11s also use the hub. This July, FedEx flew its first 757. Between 2010 and 2012, fifteen Boeing 777 will be added to FedEx’s fleet, further improving fuel efficiency and plane cargo capacity.

As soon as planes dock for unloading and loading, their engines are shut off to save fuel. Auxiliary power is handled with auxiliary electric power provided by hubs such as Oakland. This approach at multiple facilities saves FedEx one million gallons of jet fuel per month. Commercial airlines would do well to follow this example.

The facility uses a few light-electric vehicles. Tugs, now running on diesel or propane, may eventually be replaced with electric tugs. Forklifts now running on propane, my eventually be replaced with electric forklifts.

904 kW of electricity is provided by the solar panels covering the roof. Solar and hybrid delivery trucks are important parts of FedEx’s increased efficiency. Solar is used at this and two other facilities. Geothermal power in Geneva.

When I talked with Mitch Jackson, director of Environmental Affairs and Sustainability at FedEx, he explained that FedEx now has 172 hybrid delivery trucks. The hybrid trucks improve fuel economy 42 percent, reduce greenhouse gas emissions approximately 30 percent and cut particulate pollution 96 percent. FedEx Cleaner Vehicles

FedEx constant works at deploying the right sized vehicle for the appropriate application. Larger vans make sense in cities with 50 to 100 deliveries within a few miles. Lighter vans which use less fuel per mile, such as Sprinter, are used when there are lots of miles spread over suburban and rural routes.

The FedEx Hub also demonstrated FedEx’s growing relationship with the U.S. Postal Service. At Oakland, 15,000 bags of U.S. mail are sorted and continued on their way. FedEx SmartPost is one of the growing parts of FedEx’s business. It helps businesses control cost and speed delivery by handling pickup, sorting and staging, with delivery to the most efficient points in the postal system for final delivery to homes and businesses.

Should fuel costs continue to rise, FedEx might explore a strategic relationship with rail carriers which can move bulk goods less expensively and with less fuel, but with days added to final delivery. Currently, FedEx Trade Networks North American Transportation services can handle a wide range of end-to-end logistics for a customer including intermodal services that include rail.

Beyond its own operations, FedEx states that fuel savings “starts with a holistic examination of a customer’s supply chain. FedEx frequently works with customers to analyze and reconfigure their supply chains to enhance efficiencies and reduce customers’ overall environmental footprint.”

To keep transportation cost and fuel use under control, continued efficiency improvements will be strategic for FedEx and its customers.

John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report.

A Passion for Plug-ins

By John Addison (8/7/08). Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe spoke about his dream of building a car that could cross the United States on a single tank of gasoline. A plug-in hybrid running on E85 would potentially use only one gallon of gasoline every 500 miles in a blend with five gallons of ethanol, with the rest of the energy being fueled by electricity and biofuel.

In a recent article, I shared the stories of fleets and enthusiastic advocates and individuals who have converted their hybrids to be plug-in hybrids. Most people, however, will wait for vehicles that are designed from the ground-up to be plug-in hybrids. These vehicles will be warrantied by major manufacturers. Future plug-in hybrids will have larger electric motors, smaller engines, lithium battery stacks, and optimized control systems.

GM has announced plans for new plug-in sales by the end of 2010. Toyota is more likely to first deliver hundreds of fleet evaluation cars in 2010 and may follow with sales in 2011. Because both may start with limited numbers of vehicles and long wait times, it may be 2011 before you could get delivery of a new plug-in hybrid.

Toyota has put ten of its prototype plug-in hybrid into test applications in Japan and California. These test vehicles are Priuses with nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries. Toyota is being a bit secretive about its new plug-in hybrid. The car is likely to be smaller and lighter than the Prius and use lithium batteries. By carrying less weight and more advanced batteries, Toyota can give the vehicle greater electric-only range, possibly 40 miles which would accommodate the daily range requirements of 78% of all U.S. drivers.

General Motors has made clear statements that it will start taking orders for the Chevy Volt from U.S. consumers by the end of 2010. Last December, I attended a General Motors showing of its Chevy Volt – an elegant four-door sedan shown in this photo which I took. One GM designer admitted that the Mercedes CLS gave some inspiration for the Volt. The Chevy Volt can be driven 40 miles in electric-mode using 16kW of lithium batteries, before its small one liter engine is engaged. 16kW is twelve times the storage of my Prius NiMH batteries.

The Volt uses an electric drive system with a small ICE in series that is only used to generate added electricity, not give power to the wheels. GM’s modular E-Flex propulsion could be adapted to various engines including diesel, fuel cells, and potentially battery-electric.

Ford currently has the SUV with the best fuel economy in the Ford Escape Hybrid. A number of fleets have contracted with vehicle system integrators to convert the Escape Hybrid to be a plug-in. Ford delivered twenty of its own Escape Plug-in Hybrid prototypes to major electric utility SCE. The SUV uses a 10 kWh lithium-ion battery pack from Johnson Controls-Saft. The PHEV uses a blended operating strategy, and delivers an equivalent 30-mile all-electric range.

A hybrid battery might use a state of charge depletion window of twenty percent. A plug-in hybrid conversion kit might use a state of charge depletion window of 80 percent, and only be willing to warranty the battery for two or three years. GM will want to offer customers ten year warranties by having 150,000 mile target lives for their batteries. GM will likely use a state of charge depletion window of 50 percent with the Volt. While GM and Toyota see long-term market share advantage by being first to market with a plug-in, other auto makers are cautious.

Daimler is actively expanding the use of electric drive systems in a number of vehicles. The Mercedes Smart Car will be offered as an electric vehicle. The larger Sprinter Van will include a plug-in offer in the future. Several fleets have demonstrated Sprinter Vans converted to be plug-ins. In the future, Daimler may offer its own Plug-in Sprinter.

Plug-in hybrids will face growing competition from electric vehicles, which have more limited range, but have no engine and therefore never require a fuel like gasoline or diesel. At times some of these EV makers have floated the idea of plug-ins in the future. Such comments have come from Nissan-Renault, Tesla, BYD, and others.

In this era of record gasoline prices, people are using many successful approaches to spend less for gas and cut emissions. A record number are cutting personal miles by taking part in employer flexwork programs, car pooling, using transit, and grouping trips. Households are maximizing use of their most fuel efficient vehicles while leaving the gas guzzler parked. More are buying fuel efficient cars. Plug-in hybrids will become a growing part of the solution to save gas and slow global warming.

Plug-in hybrids are destined to be a major success. According to the California Electric Transportation Coalition, if automakers begin producing plug-ins within the next few years, 2.5 million cars could be plug-ins by the year 2020, saving 11.5 million tons of CO2 and 1.14 billion gallons of gasoline each year.

Complete Article about New Plug-ins

John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report.