Thursday, March 3rd, 2011
Cars have always been a part of my life. I was raised with two brothers who loved cars and when we were kids, my sisters and I would hear the buzz about the coolest “this” and the fastest “that.” With all the car talk, one would think I would have become an engineer. Two of my sisters did and we joke it’s how we got our “drive.”
By far though, my father played the most (more…)
Monday, September 20th, 2010
The stimulus bill along with the $31B cleantech element focused on grants and loan guarantees through the Department of Energy was passed into law over 18 months ago. About a year ago I wrote about how the cleantech stimulus was not very stimulating to our economy. I suggested at that time that the goals of stimulus and of long-term investment are (more…)
Tuesday, January 5th, 2010
The number of cars on U.S. roads dropped by 4 million in 2009, the only large decline in the nation’s car fleet since the government began keeping records in 1960. While consumers bought 10 million cars during the year, another 14 million vehicles were scrapped, dropping the total to 246 million vehicles, despite the government’s “cash for clunkers” program that gave individuals as much as $4,500 to exchange older cars for more fuel-efficient models.
Analysts cited numerous factors for the decline, including high gasoline prices, improved public transportation, and the popularity of online social networking, which for many teens has replaced the automobile as a way to socialize. In a report analyzing the decline, the Earth Policy Institute says the decrease is not merely a temporary phenomenon caused by the recession. (more…)
Thursday, December 31st, 2009
In October 2009, Skyline Solar announced that the company will employ an auto-manufacturing supplier, Cosma International, to manufacture and assemble large portions of its High Gain Solar (HGS) system. Over the past few years, we’ve seen other endeavors meant to stimulate the automobile manufacturing industry while accelerating energy independence. For example, the Cash for Clunkers program, encouraged new purchases of fuel-efficient cars, a way to reduce carbon emissions while stimulating the auto industry.
Another example, the V Vehicles plant in Louisiana, shows how existing factories can be used to generate renewable energy products: An out of operation auto plant in Monroe, Louisiana, will now be used to produce electric vehicles, providing about 1,400 local jobs.
Monday, September 21st, 2009
In recent years a greater emphasis on MPG during car shopping has emerged. Between fluctuating gasoline prices, a broader selection of hybrid vehicles, and the promise of plug-ins and battery electric vehicles, and mandated increases in CAFE standards, fuel economy is becoming an important vehicle characteristic for many consumers.
Makers of ICEs are looking to accentuate the efficiency of many of their “traditional” models to meet federal requirements and better compete with hybrid vehicles. This includes the addition of a turbocharger, which enables manufacturers to use smaller engines while increasing fuel economy by up to 20 percent. Turbochargers reduce emissions as they burn exhaust gas as fuel, and also provide additional power for acceleration.
Tuesday, August 18th, 2009
Earlier this year, everyone in the environmental punditocracy had an opinion on what domestic policy moves the leading economies and emerging nations might make to position themselves in advance of December’s climate change conference in Copenhagen.
The US? President Obama would arrive wearing a badge of victory: the world’s first-ever all-auction cap-and-trade system. China and India? The world’s fastest growing economies would put domestic Potemkin policies in place to demonstrate good faith. Western Europe? With a carbon cap in place and a bona fide legacy of environmental leadership, the Old West would continue to carry the mantle by pushing for significant advancement beyond Kyoto standards.
The global economic meltdown has rendered impossible any determination of how accurate those predictions might have been. Although things are looking up economically, there is no telling what history will be written in Denmark this winter. The signs are not promising.
Wednesday, August 5th, 2009
By all accounts the cash for clunkers incentive program has exceeded all expectations in both volume of sales, as well as answering skeptics by getting fuel inefficient vehicles off the road.
The new vehicles being purchased average nearly 10 mpg higher, saving nearly 4 million barrels of oil per year and eliminating the production of tons of greenhouse gases.
More importantly, the program and its surrounding attention seems to have driven consumers towards hybrids and fuel efficient vehicles even more than a 50 cent spike in the price of gasoline. According to Brian Benstock, the VP and GM of Paragon Honda and Acura, the program is also introducing new customers to imports. Benstock said the program has reversed the ratio of domestic/import trade-ins at his dealership. Previously about 70 percent of his customers were trading one import (mostly Hondas) for another. Now it’s the opposite: 70 percent of people walking in the door are swapping American made autos for Hondas.
Tuesday, August 4th, 2009
When Congress returns from its summer vacation it will consider legislation that could energize investment in renewable energy projects with an almost “cash for clunkers”-like fervor.
Like the cash for clunkers legislation (and American Idol, and The Office), a feed-in tariff bill would be a ripoff of a European idea modified for American consumption. Bills that would require utilities to pay a premium for renewable power have been tried and failed here before, but the time (and composition of the Congress) may be right for the fight to take flight.
Introduced by Democratic Senators Jay Inslee (WA) and Bill Dellahunt (MA), the bill would guarantee a market for the renewable power projects and would do much to calms fears in today’s skittish investment arena. Feed-in tariffs have been overwhelmingly successful in Germany and Spain, basically creating the solar industries in both those countries.
Because a feed-in tariff promises American jobs and reduces foreign energy dependency, Congress will likely give the idea more of a fair hearing when the leaves begin to turn in DC.
Friday, July 31st, 2009
The cash for clunkers program is already proving too good to be true. The $1 billion in funds allocated for the program is almost gone after less than a week, and now congress is scrambling to get an additional $2 billion to extend the program.
With sales up at Ford and at dealerships, the program can be viewed as an unabashed success for the auto industry. And the environment is also winning, as the vehicles being purchased are estimated to be 69 percent more fuel efficient than the vehicles being dumped, according to the website CashForClunkersInformation.org.