Monday, December 21st, 2009
Nissan is on tour promoting its upcoming electric vehicle, the Leaf, in select cities across the U.S. The 5-passenger EV will become available in December 2010, and faces many challenges in fostering a supporting vehicle charging infrastructure and creating consumer-friendly financing options, but thus far they seem to have a well-conceived plan. During an event in Portland this week I spoke with Nissan senior manager for corporate planning Brian Verprauskus about the Leaf launch plans.
Ensuring that consumers will be ready to charge on the day that they bring the vehicle home is a new challenge for Nissan and the other EV manufacturers. Nissan plans to partner with a nationally known company to provide the wall box for plugging in the vehicle and to manage matching vehicle owners with electricians. Nissan will choose a company that has experience going into consumers’ homes, and will likely announce the partner in early 2010. Consumers will need to connect the box to a dedicated circuit for EV charging, which requires carefully managing the process to reduce risk of a customer improperly plugging in a vehicle and causing damage to the vehicle or property. Nissan’s plan is smart because many consumers will need hand holding to understand the issues of EV charging, and a company with adept at customer relations will be key.
Monday, December 21st, 2009
Authors Andres Duany and Jeff Speck, renowned city planners who brought the issue of suburban sprawl to the forefront of the national debate, have come together again with The Smart Growth Manual, which details the path to creating better, greener and environmentally-friendly communities.
CleanTechies caught up with Speck for three questions on better living through planning.
CleanTechies: When you hear the term smart growth, what does it mean to you?
Jeff Speck: It’s the opposite of sprawl. And sprawl is identified as growth that spreads out at low density, separates uses and relies on automotive transportation and has a concomitant disinvestment in city centers. So smart growth is the attempt to reverse those trends, or to continue the momentum that’s already been begun toward reversing those trends.
I have a specific message for CleanTechies: Sustainability is about systems. Unless we approach our footprint systematically, we’re just kind of nibbling around the edges. And I think almost all of the gizmo green solutions to climate change and post-peak oil challenges are nibbling around the edges without getting to the meat of the problem.
Thursday, December 17th, 2009
Speaking to a gathering of mayors in Copenhagen, London Mayor Boris Johnson announced plans to add 25,000 charging stations for electric cars across the city by 2015, turning London into a center of plug-in vehicle technology.
By creating the right conditions, Johnson said the city can encourage a “golden era” of electric cars, and he predicted that every resident will be within a mile of a charging point.
Johnson said the challenge of reducing carbon emissions is urgent, but should not require “hair-shirt abstinence.”
Tuesday, December 15th, 2009
CleanTechies sits down with John Viera, director of sustainable business strategies for Ford Motor Company, for three questions.
CleanTechies: What are your day to day duties and the big picture of your job?
John Viera: Basically, my responsibilities are two-fold. My organization is responsible for our sustainability strategies and also responsible for environmental policy for the company. So, when you think about those two pockets – the sustainability strategy, you can think about it in a couple of different buckets. Everything we do from a sustainability strategy standpoint has to have economic goodness to it. I say that because when we talk about doing things that are environmentally friendly and whatnot, we say that it does need to have a good business case. We’re not the philanthropic arm of Ford. There is a philanthropic arm. It’s called the Ford Fund. And what we do is we set up strategies that make business sense.
Friday, December 11th, 2009
PARIS (Reuters) – The Paris city hall and local authorities in several surrounding districts on Thursday called for bids to run a self-service electric car hire scheme modeled on the “Velib” bike rental system.
The “Autolib,” which is scheduled to start in September 2011, would consist of 3,000 vehicles at 1,000 rental sites in Paris and neighboring communes, the city’s town hall said on its website.
Four thousand battery-charging stations are also planned.
A candidate to run the Autolib service will be chosen by the end of next year. The Velib scheme is run by JCDecaux.
Friday, December 11th, 2009
The movement towards zero emission electric cars is gaining a tremendous amount of momentum. As we move into 2010, practical electric vehicles for the vast majority of the public will be available late in the year with the release of the Nissan Leaf. The shift that may occur in the coming years provides the opportunity to engage in open dialogue about the tax benefits and burdens as the US moves into the era of the electric car.
If you plan to purchase an electric car in 2010, you can expect a healthy federal income tax credit to reward you. For plug-in electric vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of less than 14,000 pounds acquired after December 31, 2009, the maximum tax credit available will be $7,500. The base amount of the credit is $2,500. If the car has a battery capacity of at least 5kWh, then an additional $417 in tax credits will be available. For every kWh of battery capacity in excess of 5kWh, $417 will be added to the total amount. The additional amount, based on battery capacity, over the base amount is limited to a total of $5,000.
Wednesday, December 9th, 2009
Driving to work and flipping on a light switch may seem to unrelated activities, but very soon lithium ion batteries will assist in making both possible.
The nascent electric vehicle market is likely to standardize on lithium ion batteries. Today the cost of plug-in and all-electric vehicles is too high for many consumers thanks to batteries, which can add $10,000 or more to the price tag. The cost of batteries is only expected to come down after battery cells and packs are produced in sufficient volume to achieve economies of scale.
Thursday, November 19th, 2009
I like to ride my bike and take public transportation when I can. But I still rely on the car to move me around a few days every week. That said, developments in cars and personal transportation are things I take both personal and professional interest in.
So after Ford loaned a new 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid to me and Gas 2.0 editor Nick Chambers for an extended test drive – that we would take on a trip to and from a multi-day music festival in Southern California we were both covering — I decided to share my thoughts about why Ford’s first foray into the hybrid sedan market is making a big splash: Partly because of good business timing; but also because they built a great car.
Wednesday, November 18th, 2009
Just as your mileage varies by where and how you drive, so might the performance of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid’s batteries.
The batteries in the GM vehicle due out in a year (November 2010) will have at least 10 years of life, according to company representatives who briefed the media on Tuesday. But vehicle owners who live in temperate climates are likely to see their batteries last much longer.
Tuesday, November 17th, 2009
In an effort to reduce automobile usage and greenhouse gas emissions, the Dutch cabinet has approved a driving tax that would charge motorists seven cents a mile.
The plan, which must still be approved by parliament, would use GPS systems installed in each car to keep track of mileage and automatically bill drivers. The mileage charges would be higher at rush hour, for large cars, and for commercial vehicles.
Dutch officials said the driving tax, which would replace existing road taxes and duties on new car purchases, is designed to cut traffic by 15 percent and reduce emissions from transport by 10 percent.