Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Flunking EPA Ratings and more...

While scanning through today's green machine headlines, a few things popped out:

KISSing could be necessary: The EPA and DOT are looking for public feedback to totally revamp car window stickers you'll see when buying and looking for fuel economy ratings starting with model year 2012 cars. It's a grade card with A being best in class and D means gas guzzler. Beyond fuel economy, greenhouse gas emissions would be included in the grading, which comes from the Obama administration's mandate last year for cars coming to market soon, and which is being worked out by the regulatory agencies. However, determining GHG gets complicated and it's most probable that only tailpipe emissions will be included in the window sticker ratings. And the agencies are having to come up with a rating system that takes in fuel/energy consumption based on gallons per 100 miles, and/or kilowatt-hours per 100 miles, and another scale that converts electrical energy use to equivalent gasoline use. Whoah, sounds way complicated. I'm wondering if car buyers will get confused and annoyed with this and the window stickers will need to be changed again. Could be about KISS - Keep it simple, stupid.

First All Electric Bus: Proterra Inc. is bringing the first deployment of an all-electric model for everyday service to a major public transit agency. Foothill Transit, which serves eastern Los Angeles County, has purchased three Proterra EcoRide BE-35 electric buses, as well as two fast-charging stations, and signed on for an option to buy nine more of the model if all goes well in an initial trial period. Hybrid buses have been used in the region, and now all-electric will be tried out.

Toyota Corp Sustainability: Toyota has unveiled its Fifth Environmental Action Plan, covering the years 2011-'15, which targets greater sales of hybrid and electric vehicles, reduced emissions, and increased recycling of resources. The multipronged plan outlines improving average fuel efficiency by 25% in all regions compared with the 2005 numbers. The plan also targets a 29% global reduction in emissions by 2012 compared with 2001 numbers. The company says it will sell 1 million hybrids per year, and will introduce its first production plug-in hybrid EV in 2010 (Prius?), and a short-distance commuter EV in 2012. Keep your eyes peeled on Toyota. They'll come out of the recall crisis. The company has avoided plug-ins and pure electrics and is starting down that path, along with bringing a hydrogen fuel cell car to market in about 5 years. Toyota was able to bring green cars to the mainstream with the Prius, so we'll see what's next.

Green Science Fair: According to Green Car Congress, "Researchers at the University of Michigan have developed and demonstrated the feasibility of a two-step hydrolysis-solvolysis process to produce biodiesel directly from wet algal biomass. Their process eliminates the need for biomass drying, organic solvent extraction, and catalysts, and provides a mechanism for nutrient recycling." Complicated and science nerdlike, yes I know. Green Car Congress is an important pub to access regularly and has been around a long time. For me, it's important to track in that these university and research institute projects produce results that many times become absorbed by whoever has an agenda - government agencies, advocacy/industry groups, fuel suppliers, OEMs, environmental activists/lobbyists. And there's quite a lot happening with biofuels and biomass projects - time, money, and talent. There's much to learn.

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