Thursday, April 22nd, 2010
More European nations are levying carbon taxes on passenger vehicles and providing tax incentives for electric vehicles, according to a new report by the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association.
Seventeen of the 27 European Union nations now impose a tax based on carbon emissions, compared with 11 in 2007 and nine in 2006.
In 2009, motor vehicles taxes of all kinds generated about €377 billion ($505 billion), or 3.4 percent of total GDP, in the 15 nations that originally made up the EU. Fifteen of the EU’s current 27 members provide incentives for electric vehicles, including tax reductions and bonus payments. (more…)
Wednesday, April 21st, 2010
For consumers, discussion of electric cars tends to focus on how long the vehicle travels before needing a recharge and what it will cost to buy. But a new report backed by several large corporations takes a broader view of what the electric car will mean to our overall finances.
And the news is good.
Fueling our cars with electricity instead of gasoline – this one change – could avert a lot of economic pain, according to the “Economic Impact of the Electrification Roadmap” report by the Electrification Council. (more…)
Tuesday, April 20th, 2010
While electric vehicles are the most environmentally friendly transportation solution of today, there is one start-up that thinks further ahead. What might sound like a futuristic idea borrowed from a sci-fi movie will soon become reality in some cities.
I’m talking about personal rapid transit, a system somewhere between mass transportation such as metros and buses, and more private transportation such as taxis. The Finnish start-up BM Design has the solution to our transportation needs of tomorrow.
Asko Kauppi, Founder of BM Design and among the several hundred people who invented personal rapid transit, describes it as “packaged routing of people.” The idea itself is nothing new and has its roots in the 1960s and 70s. However, a company still needs to present a viable commercial solution for PRT.
The advantages of personal rapid transit include this: Instead of you waiting for a bus or metro to arrive, the PRT vehicle — a lightweight, battery operated vehicle seating two to three — is waiting for you. (more…)
Friday, April 9th, 2010
Top News: This week, President Obama startled both his allies and critics with a plan to permit drilling for oil off the Southern Atlantic states and in the Gulf of Mexico. Meanwhile the Secret Service, in a stroke of karmic justice, denied the president’s request for a hybrid limo.
On Saturday, Apple’s long-awaited iPad emerged to great fanfare, and with it some schwag and a initial smattering of green apps.
Wising Up to the Smart Grid: After years of talk and speculation, several big U.S. companies revealed that the smart grid lies at the center of their business plans. At the New York Auto Show, Ford and Microsoft announced energy-management software designed for the thousands of people who will plug in their electric cars or hybrids at home. Connecticut Light & Power applied for permission to scrap its flat-rate price structure in favor of one that penalizes customers for overloading the grid. Under the proposal, Connecticut electricity would be ten times cheaper at night than it would be in the middle of the day, when the A/C units are cranking.
Wednesday, March 31st, 2010
Venture capital investment in clean technology reached $1.9 billion in the first quarter, climbing 83 percent from last year, according to a report by the Cleantech Group and Deloitte.
Startups in North America raised the greatest share among 180 companies around the world, a three-year peak for the area with $1.5 billion, or 81 percent of all investments. That’s a 79 percent rise from the 2009 fourth quarter slump, described as a “blip” by Cleantech Group President Sheeraz Haji.
The transportation sector led the way with a record $704 million, notably $350 million for electric car battery and infrastructure firm Better Place
, followed by significant investments in electric car and hybrid technologies. Fisker Automotive brought in $140 million, followed by $30 million for Coda Automotive, also based in California. Groupe Gruau of France reaped $23 million.
Friday, March 12th, 2010
Bubble, Bubble, Methane is Trouble: A vast storehouse of methane under the Arctic Ocean has perforated and is starting to leak, researchers disclosed. While scientists have long been preoccupied with methane release from permafrost on mainland Siberia, the underwater stores in the adjoining East Siberian Arctic Shelf are much larger, and the release of even a small fraction could lead to a dramatic increase in global warming. Methane is a greenhouse gas at least 25 times more powerful than CO2.
Now a Word from Our Other Gases: It was a promising week in the world of fuels. A Colorado startup revealed a solar concentrator that can vaporize biomass and make high-yield synthetic fuels. British scientists explored enzymes in the gut of a boat-eating bug that could break down straw or waste wood. Meanwhile, a California newbie called Transonic Combustion claims to have invented a fuel-injection system that could boost mileage of plain old gas by 50 percent. The company registered 64 miles to the gallon in recent test drives. (more…)
Monday, January 25th, 2010
Shai Agassi (left) and the team at Better Place have done it again: almost two years to the day after announcing its first car partnership and its first country deployment in Israel, Better Place today announced that it has signed an agreement with an HSBC-led investor consortium for new equity financing of $350 million. The deal marks one of the largest clean-tech investments in history and values Better Place at $1.25 billion.
This Series B equity financing round features participation from new investors including HSBC, Morgan Stanley Investment Management, and Lazard Asset Management. These investors will join existing Series A investors including Israel Corp., VantagePoint Venture Partners, Ofer Hi-Tech Holdings, Morgan Stanley Principal Investments, Maniv Energy Capital, and Israel Cleantech Ventures, among others, as shareholders of Better Place. For HSBC, which led the round with an investment of $125 million, the deal represents one of the largest financial investments of its kind by HSBC.
As part of the deal, Kevin Adeson, HSBC Head of Global Capital Financing, will join the Better Place Board of Directors, and HSBC will own approximately 10% of the company’s shares. (more…)
Monday, January 25th, 2010
The 107 million tons of grain that went to U.S. ethanol distilleries in 2009 was enough to feed 330 million people for one year at average world consumption levels. More than a quarter of the total U.S. grain crop was turned into ethanol to fuel cars last year. With 200 ethanol distilleries in the country set up to transform food into fuel, the amount of grain processed has tripled since 2004.
The United States looms large in the world food economy: it is far and away the world’s leading grain exporter, exporting more than Argentina, Australia, Canada, and Russia combined. In a globalized food economy, increased demand for food to fuel American vehicles puts additional pressure on world food supplies. (more…)
Thursday, January 21st, 2010
Electric cars are a green movement that is finally moving. Shunted to the side as the public indulged its love affair with gas-guzzling SUVs and four-wheel-drive trucks, history has finally caught up with the plug-in vehicle.
The North American International Auto Show in Detroit is the domestic auto industry’s biggest annual showcase, and the new models have traditionally been brought out in a son et lumière of dancing girls, deafening music, and dry ice smoke. The few green cars that made it this far were usually for display only — very few actually made it to showrooms.
But not this year. It’s become a race to market for green cars, and soon you’ll be able to buy many of the electric vehicles that were on display last week in Detroit. The auto show featured one hybrid and battery electric car introduction after another. Although the only truly road-worthy, plug-in electric vehicle you can buy today is the $109,000 Tesla Roadster, by the end of 2010 it will be joined by such contenders as the Nissan Leaf, Coda sedan, and the Think City. (more…)
Wednesday, January 20th, 2010
Between 1950 and 2008 more cars were added to our roads virtually every year as the total fleet expanded steadily from 49 million to 250 million vehicles. In 2009, however, 14 million cars were scrapped while only 10 million cars were sold, shrinking the fleet by 4 million vehicles, or nearly 2 percent. With record numbers of cars set to reach retirement age between now and 2020, the fleet could shrink by some 10 percent, dropping from the all-time high of 250 million in 2008 to 225 million in 2020.
The United States, with 246 million motor vehicles and 209 million licensed drivers, is facing market saturation. With 5 vehicles for every 4 drivers, the 4-million-vehicle contraction in the U.S. fleet in 2009 does not come as a great surprise. In a largely rural society, more cars provided mobility, but in a society that is now over 80 percent urban, more cars provide immobility.