We all know that passenger vehicles are one of the largest greenhouse gas contributors. As we push for electric and hybrid vehicles, as well as increased fuel economy, the rise in the number of cars globally is increasing dramatically.
Rising sales translate into ever-expanding fleets. An estimated 691 million passenger cars were on the world's roads in 2011. When both light- and heavy-duty trucks are included, the number rises to 979 million vehicles, which was 30 million more than just a year earlier. By the end of 2012, the global fleet could top 1 billion vehicles----one for every seven people on the planet.
Electric vehicle (EV) production remains at barely perceptible levels. Although several countries have issued targets for future EV fleets, it remains to be seen whether these goals can be met. China, for instance, wants to put 5 million plug-in hybrid-electric and fully electric vehicles on its roads by 2020----which could account for more than 40 percent of the global EV fleet that year. An analysis by Deutsche Bank Climate Advisors, however, suggests that production of 1.1 million EVs and a fleet of 3.5 million in China is a more realistic projection.
Unfortunately, of the 76.8 million passenger vehicles on the road in 2011 (not including light trucks), hybrid vehicles only account for 2% of all cars.
It's really unpractical to own a car if you live in the city, but sometimes, you need one. BMW is introducing a new car sharing program in San Francisco utilizing their new electric vehicle ActiveE. GreenBiz explains:
Starting with a fleet of 70 vehicles, the program, known as DriveNow, allows enrolled drivers to take a car from one point to another and leave it, unlike other car-sharing programs which require vehicles to be returned to the same pick-up location.
Under the program, drivers can reserve a car online or through a smartphone app after registering as DriveNow members. They can pick up their cars at one of eight DriveNow stations in the San Francisco Bay Area, with plans to open more in the near future, and return vehicles to the nearest station.
This is a very cool idea. Not only is the car sharing program convenient, you get to drive a styley car!
If you have ever driven north from California to Oregon on Interstate 5, you know the beauty of going through the Mt. Shasta region, to the high desert, to the lush Willamette Valley of Oregon. Now this beautiful stretch of highway will be outfitted with electric car charging stations, at least in Oregon. The Globe and Mail report:
The Oregon Department of Transportation has announced it's going to install Level 3 DC fast-charging stations along that portion of the highway. Level 3 is the key. Level 1 chargers use 110 volts from a regular home outlet and charge a vehicle overnight. Level 2 uses 240 volts, like a dryer or stove, and charge a vehicle in three or four hours. Level 3 uses 480 volts and the heavy juice can take a Nissan Leaf's 45-kilowatt battery from near empty to 80 per cent in half an hour.
The fast charging EV stations will be placed 30 miles apart in locations near restaurants where you can spend time while your EV charges. The state is hoping the investment will increase the number of EVs in the state. There are about 50 EVs registered in the whole state, so this is quite a commitment by the DOT.
Japan is known for it's car technology, as well as nuclear disaster, so I find it ironic that German and American car companies are brining their EVs to the Japanese market. Green Car Congress reports:
Volkswagen AG plans to introduce electric vehicles based on its Up! and Golf compact cars in the Japanese market within three years, according to Gerry Dorizas, head of VW's Japanese unit.
In addition to releasing EVs in Japan, Dorizas says the German auto giant will debut more competitively priced hybrid vehicles. It unveiled its first hybrid model in January, a luxury sport utility vehicle priced at 8.98 million yen.
Dorizas indicated the company expects 14% of passenger car sales in the Japanese market to be hybrid vehicles this year and is looking to add less-expensive models to help broaden its customer base.
On Wednesday, the Chevrolet Volt made its Japanese debut at the opening of the annual Spring Congress of the Japan Society of Automotive Engineers in Yokohama. The Volt will be on display at Chevrolet's stand throughout the three-day event, which is expected to draw some 70,000 visitors from industry, academia, government and media. General Motors Japan managing director Sumito Ishii says that showcasing the Volt in Yokohama is:
A great opportunity for General Motors to highlight our advanced technology leadership in front of the tech-savvy community in Japan. It will also contribute to awareness of the Chevrolet brand in one of the world's largest vehicle markets.
Hopefully they find another source of power other than nuclear to charge these cars.
I live on a rough mountain road, and so far, every hybrid or EV I've seen would not stand the test of country living. I've longingly wanted one of the few Toyota Rav4's that were mistakenly sold, as featured in Who Killed the Electric Car?. I saw one in San Francisco once, and then again on Ebay, but now, the future looks bright for my dream of owning one!
The RAV4 EV weighs 3,942 pounds, about 1,000 pounds of which are in the Tesla battery.
The SUV can go from 0-60 in nine seconds.
It has an official 100-mile-per-hour top speed (unofficially, test drivers have gotten it to over 103).
The RAV4 EV has 73 cubic-feet of space, which is exactly the same as the standard RAV4 V6.
Toyota is claiming a range that varies between 80 and 120 miles from the battery that has 37 kWh of useable energy. The engineers are guaranteeing that the RAV4 EV will beat the Nissan Leaf and its official EPA range of 73 miles. This is nice, but the RAV4 EV is bigger and heavier, an electron-guzzler or sorts, that gets just 2-3 miles per kWh (other EVs get around 4-5 miles), and we assume it will cost a lot more, too. Whatever the official range estimate ends up being, Toyota representatives told us that they will under promise and over deliver.
The prototype has a Tesla charge port, but the production version will have the standard J1772 connector.
The demonstration vehicles take ages to charge: 28 hours to fully charge over a standard 110 volt outlet (12 over 240V), but the production version, everyone promised us, will be "significantly improved."
There's a lot of bugs to be worked out before this beauty is released in 2012, but I am excited!
Jaguar is known for beautiful, luxury, performance cars, and the company's latest concept car will not disappoint enthusiasts. The C-X75 is an electric hybrid with a range of 70 miles, but also has two small gas engines. What is truly "amazing" about this concept car is the low carbon emissions. Philip Proefrock of EcoGeek reports:
Jaguar's latest concept vehicle C-X75 is a sleek, beautiful car that even has two small gas turbine engines in back. But despite all the performance features, it is actualy an range extended electric hybrid (REEV) like the Chevy Volt with four electric motors in the wheels, on-board batteries that give it an all electric driving range of nearly 70 miles (110 km).
The C-X75 has amazingly low carbon emissions: a mere 28g/km of CO2. For comparison, the current model of the Prius emits 89g/km - three times as much, although the Prius is the second cleanest vehicle on the UK Department for Transport list.
How fast can an electric car go? Students at the Ohio State University may have just broken the world record for EV speed. The previous record of 245.5 MPH was set back in 1999. 11 years later, the new record is 307.7 MPH. Panacea USA explains:
The record might have been broken years earlier, but electric cars are an obscure category in auto racing and few are interested in developing a battery-powered streamliner when piston-driven cars go much faster, said Dave Petrali, chief steward for U.S. Auto Club and a timer for the international motorsports body, the Federation Internationale de L'Automobile (FIA).
"It takes a lot of power and a huge battery pack" for an electric car to attain high speeds, he said.
In wake of the tragedy in the Gulf, you would think many Americans would be reevaluating their ideas on oil. The attitude towards offshore oil drilling may be changing, but does that translate into a willingness to spend more money on green cars? A new study has found that Americans do not want to pay more for clean technology cars; however, the study was conducted between April 6, 2010 - April 26, 2010. Autobloggreen explains:
Owners choose lower cost technological solutions over higher priced alternative fuels...
One in five Americans(1) indicate they would be extremely or very likely to purchase a start stop system (21 percent) or an ECO drive assistant (19 percent). Both of these systems provide an estimated 10 percent gain in fuel economy. Barely one in six owners say they are extremely or very likely to purchase flexible fuel engines (16 percent) or a clean diesel engine (14 percent)....
Only one out of 25 vehicle owners are extremely or very likely to consider purchasing fuel cell engines (4 percent), hybrid-electric engines (4 percent), plug-in hybrids (4 percent) and pure electric engines (2 percent). A comparative bright spot is a 10% level of consideration of compressed natural gas engines.
I wonder if the current tragedy in the Gulf would change the statistics if the survey was conducted today.
I grew up in central Ohio and occasionally would visit Dayton to see live music. The fourth largest city in Ohio is home to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the National Museum of the United States Air Force, and the Dayton Peace Accords. Now, the city has the claim to fame of of having the greenest fleet in Ohio. Greater Dayton RTA reports:
Ten new hybrids will complement RTA's fleet with four of the new coaches rolling into service following the ceremony. RTA's entire green fleet will be on display including a new hybrid diesel bus, an electric trolley bus, and a paratransit Tesco vehicle...
The hybrid diesel Gillig coaches are powered by clean diesel hybrid electrical propulsion systems that reduce emissions, save fuel and are smoother and quieter than conventional buses. The hybrids use the latest General Motors- manufactured parallel drive technology, which is more efficient than traditional systems. The buses utilize long-life, non-hazardous and maintenance-free NiMH batteries that capture and store braking energy as well as solid state advanced controllers that manage and blend power sources to optimize performance.
With gas prices remaining somewhat steady during the Obama administration, consumers are not rushing out to buy hybrids. Autobloggreen explains:
The numbers are in for Mach sales and hybrids have fared well compared to last year. Hybrid automakers can't heave a sigh of relief quite yet, because sales have fallen short of the overall industry rise compared to a year ago. The numbers show that hybrid sales are up 18 percent from last March, while light vehicle sales rose 25 percent. Hybrid sales were also below expectations. It's likely that strong incentives for traditional cars and a rebounding economy drove buyers towards conventionally powered vehicles.
The Toyota Prius, despite recall issues by the automaker, still remains the golden child of the hybrid market dominating 53 percent of sales. The Honda Insight is also very popular tripling their sales from one year ago.
The Hinomaru Limousine Company of Tokyo, Japan has introduced two Mitsubishi i-MiEV to be used as electric taxis. These EV taxis are designed for short haul passengers, and obviously, they can't have much luggage from the looks of the EV. Other cities in Japan already use EV taxis.
The city of Houston, Texas is partnering with Nissan and Reliant Energy to promote "the development of an electric-vehicle charging network and policies to support widespread adoptions of electric cars". The Nissan LEAF, an all electric, zero-emissions car, is supposed to be introduced this year, and the car manufacturer is partnering with cities and electric companies to be sure the infrastructure is in place for EVs. Green Car Congress reports:
As part of the agreement, Nissan and the City of Houston, along with Reliant Energy, will develop plans to promote a charging infrastructure for electric cars that encourages home and workplace charging, as well as a public-charging infrastructure. The partners will work to coordinate the establishment of policies and help streamline charging infrastructure deployment. Nissan also has agreed to make available a supply of electric vehicles to the City of Houston and in and around the metropolitan area...
Reliant Energy is working to make the broad adoption of electric vehicles simple by developing an ecosystem of charging infrastructure and services that makes fueling electric vehicles more convenient and affordable than the gasoline alternative.
It's exciting to see a town like Houston with roots in the oil industry to be embracing EVs!
If you are going to design an eco-friendly car for the future, what better place to find inspiration than nature itself! The AERO is a three-wheeled electric vehicle modeled after air and water. Ecofriend explains the AERO's unique features:
The lightweight vehicle can reach high speed consuming a small amount of energy, which too is generated by the vehicle itself...
The self-sufficient vehicle can be recharged by three different systems. A wind power system harvests wind energy and uses it to recharge the onboard battery pack. Two solar panels located between the front wheels absorb daylight to power the batteries. When the sun isn't shining and the wind isn't blowing, the vehicle can be recharged by plugging it into any source of 120V.
The popular TV show American Chopper has built an electric motorcycle! The Smart Chopper was built for Siemens and tops out at 100 mph. It can travel 60 miles on a charge. This clutchless chopper takes five hours to charge and will be auctioned off for charity.