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Posts Tagged ‘global warming’

What Will Paris Climate Change Agreement Mean for Motorists?

Alternative power soon could be the norm, rather than the exception.

by on Dec.14, 2015

Paris traffic along the Seine River. The city has struggled with increasing pollution problems.

In a historic move, 196 countries – from small Pacific island nations to economic powerhouses like the U.S., Germany and China – have signed on to support the climate change accord negotiators hammered out in Paris over the weekend.

“History will remember this day,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said of an agreement expected to lead to a massive shift away from the use of fossil fuels. That is seen as key to efforts aimed at minimizing global temperature increases and a predicted rise in sea levels.

Climate News!

The accord came after a marathon, 48-hour session in the City of Lights. Paris was an apt place for the negotiations to take place as it has had to take emergency steps several times to deal with increasing air pollution problems in recent years. Going forward, the city will see a shift in how it powers the beacon atop the familiar Eiffel Tower, as well as the cars that crawl along its ring highway, the Peripherique, during rush hours.


Could Battery Cars “Pose Environmental Threat”?

New study warns they could actually accelerate global warming.

by on Oct.05, 2012

Is the Honda Fit EV a boon or a bust for the environment? A new study isn't very positive.

Could battery cars speed up the pace of global warming?  That’s the unexpected twist to emerge from a new study that warns that electric vehicle technology is far more energy-demanding during production and can actually result in more CO2 emissions during operation than conventional vehicles.

The results of the new study could enflame the debate over the value of electric propulsion – and the costly subsidies that governments around the world are offering.  On the other hand, proponents, including many environmental groups, contend the new report and similar previous studies, overstate the downside of battery power.

The Last Word!

“Electric vehicles consistently perform worse or on par with modern internal combustion engine vehicles, despite virtually zero direct emissions during operation,” wrote co-author Anders Hammer Stronman, of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.


Will Europe Legislate the Gas Engine Out of Existence?

Regulators considering full ban on fossil fuel-powered vehicles by 2050.

by on Mar.28, 2011

By mid-century, Parisians and other European drivers may have a choice of battery cars or mass transit.

If European regulators follow through on a proposal now getting serious consideration all fossil fuel-powered vehicles could be banned from the Continent’s roadways by 2050.

The proposal is part of a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Europe by 60% by mid-century, according to the Dutch news site NU.NL.  Regulators blame automotive emissions for half of the carbon dioxide produced in Europe.

The plan would be phased in over the next four decades, with the number of gas and diesel-powered automobiles being cut in half by 2030.

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European regulators are already making it difficult for the internal combustion engine.  By 2012, makers will need to cut the CO2 output of their average vehicle to just 130 grams per kilometer.  Since there is a direct correlation between the fuel that goes into an engine and the CO2 that comes out, this works out to approximately 66 mpg.  By 2020, the carbon dioxide figure drops to just 95 g/km, with the fleet-average fuel economy rising to 100 mpg.


London Congestion Charge under Review

Design regulation exempting hybrids is outdated and unfair.

by on May.27, 2010

If you exempt too many vehicles, congestion increases. Why should any be exempt?

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has proposed changing the congestion charge exemption to include cars with conventional engines that emit low levels of CO2, in many cases lower than the hybrid or alternate fuel vehicles currently benefiting from taxpayer largess.

Under the current rules, the Alternative Fuel Discount gives drivers of alternative fuel and hybrid cars a 100% discount in London’s £8 Congestion Charge. (See London Congestion Policy Excludes Clean Cars?)

Under the Mayor’s new “Greener Vehicle Discount” proposal, any car registered after 1 January 2011 that emit less than 100g/km of CO2 and meet the Euro V standard for air quality will be exempt.

In addition, and as a way of encouraging more electric cars, the same exemption will apply to full battery electric and plug-in hybrid cars.

Volvo had questioned what place an emissions discount had in a congestion charge at all, not without self interest of course.  Then, Volvo lobbied that when a discount exists, there should fairness so that it did not bias one particular technology over another.

Volvo already offers a sub-100g/km Volvo C30 Sports Coupe. It has also shown a V70 wagon with plug-in hybrid technology that emits less than 50g/km CO2 – this technology will be launched in 2012 – and prototype versions of a full battery-electric C30.


Fuel Economy & Greenhouse Gas Rules Finalized

The most aggressive U.S. standards ever are now in place.

by on Apr.01, 2010

The Administration has delivered a historic compromise in the face of what looked to be overwhelming odds against it.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today jointly established new federal rules that set the first-ever national greenhouse gas emissions standards, and will increase the fuel economy of all new passenger cars and light trucks sold in the United States.

Starting with 2012 model year vehicles, the rules together require automakers to improve fleet-wide fuel economy and reduce fleet-wide greenhouse gas emissions by about 5% every year.

NHTSA has established fuel economy standards that strengthen each year, reaching an estimated 34.1 mpg for the combined industry-wide fleet for model year 2016.

The rules, with a claimed cost of $52 billion and benefits of $240 billion, are compromised or the results of compromises in several areas, depending on your point of view. The vast majority of buyers will not see fuel economy anywhere near 34 mpg.

Because credits for air-conditioning improvements can be used to meet the EPA standards, but not the NHTSA standards, the EPA standards require that by the 2016 model-year, manufacturers must achieve a combined average vehicle emission level of 250 grams of carbon dioxide per mile. The EPA standard would be equivalent to 35.5 miles per gallon if all reductions came from fuel economy improvements.

Perhaps more worrisome from policy and health points of view are exemptions for the  gas guzzling, CO2 belching vehicles that the rich buy.

DOT and EPA received more than 130,000 public comments on the rules proposed in September 2009, and officials said there was “overwhelming support” for the new national policy. This means that automakers will be able to build a single, light-duty national fleet that satisfies all federal requirements, as well as the standards of California and other states.

The collaboration of federal agencies also allows for clearer rules for all automakers, instead of three standards (DOT, EPA, and a California standard), and was a clear victory for the Obama Administration that negotiated it after decades of gridlock and legal maneuvering.

The joint rules are also a sign of the decreasing political influence of automakers, which had long blocked fuel economy increases, and recognition of a growing green sentiment among voters.   (more…)

Solar Electricity From a Porsche Warehouse

The equivalent energy for 500 households will be made.

by on Feb.15, 2010

Porsche estimates 1,780 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) will be saved every year.

Porsche AG, Stuttgart, is making a 40,000-square-meter area on the rooftop of its central spare parts warehouse in Sachsenheim (Baden-Wuerttemberg) to install and operate approximately 8,500 photovoltaic modules there.

When completed, the system will generate nearly two million kilowatt hours per year — the equivalent to the average energy consumption of approximately 500 four-person households.

The latest development is consistent with a European trend toward solar power generation, boosted by government incentives.

Goldbeck Solar GmbH, Hirschberg an der Bergstrasse, starting later will install  in February the photovoltaic cells and operate the powerplant a few weeks later.

The electricity will be fed into the grid of the energy provider E&W Eichwald GmbH, Bietigheim-Bissingen.

“Progressive environmental protection and conservation of resources isn’t only a Porsche priority in production. Our central spare parts warehouse provides the ideal conditions for ecological energy generation,” says Wolfgang Leimgruber, Member of the Executive Board for Production and Logistics of Porsche AG.


Porsche estimates that approximately 1,780 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) will be saved every year.

It claims the photovoltaic system in Sachsenheim will be one of the most modern and efficient in the Greater Stuttgart area.

Think Fast! New EV Fast Charge Method Announced

Zero-to-80% charge in 15 minutes, said to be a new standard.

by on Jan.26, 2010

A new time joins the zero-to-60 mph number, minutes from depleted to mostly recharged.

Electric vehicle manufacturer Think will announce later today  that it will join with AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVAV) to jump-start the fast-charge infrastructure in the United States.

The announcement will come at a 15-minute news conference at the Washington Auto Show.

Fifteen minutes is the time it will take to charge a Think City electric vehicle from completely depleted to 80% using an advanced fast-charge system, establishing what Think thinks is a new benchmark for the rapidly developing electric vehicle industry.

“This is a major leap forward for electric vehicles, according to Think CEO Richard Canny. “ The development and deployment of very-fast-charge stations will help speed the electrification of automobiles in the United States and globally.”

We're Fast!

Think will also announce that it has chosen EnerDel, the Indiana-based lithium-ion battery manufacturer, to be the exclusive battery supplier for its City electric vehicles sold in the U.S. through 2012. EnerDel also will also supply at least 60% of the batteries for City electric vehicles sold in Europe.     (more…)

Volvo to offer Plug-in Hybrids across the Range

Swedish maker plans electrification of entire line by 2020.

by on Jan.22, 2010

The start of the hybridization of the entire line.

Volvo’s plan to offer a plug in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) on one of its larger car lines by 2012 is just the beginning of an ambitious program to spread the technology to its entire lineup by the end of the decade – if not sooner – according to insiders working on future products at the Swedish company.

The Volvo plan arises from CO2 emissions reductions dictated by stringent European Union regulations. These are twice as tough as the controversial CO2 reductions that are now being implemented in the U.S., which call for a 35.5 mpg fleet average in 2016.

Plans for exports of PHEVs and BEVs are still flexible, executives say.

At the lighter end of the line, starting with the C30 BEV, a pure battery electric vehicle, will also be offered in Europe at the same time.

Plans for exports of PHEVs and BEVs are still flexible, executives say, and are dependent on the price of fuel, as well as government taxation and subsidy policies governing the marketing of electric cars.

The vast engineering development, manufacturing and sales programs required for electrification are being undertaken against the background of a depressed, profitless global industry, where loss-making Volvo Car is being sold by its parent, Ford Motor Company, to the Chinese maker Geely.

Successful and, more importantly, profitable implementation of electrification now appears key to the survival of all auto companies given the current regulatory environment, which shows no signs of decreasing demands for more fuel efficient and therefore less CO2 belching vehicles. The fact is companies and customers no longer will control their own fates as things are now shaping up. Regulation will dictate a large part, if not all of the market,  and survival of companies will depend on how they can comply with an unprecedented amount of government direction.

Smaller companies such as Volvo face a larger challenge in surviving, arguably, if nimbleness as well as possible exemptions and/or company friendly regulation are not ultimately more decisive factors.

Viewed one way, the Volvo commitment to hybrids is a stunning reversal of the traditional disdain that European makers expressed about this  Japanese developed technology. All European, and for that matter U.S., automakers are well behind current developments in the ongoing hybridization of the auto industry,  which has been underway for more than a decade now.


CO2 Blues as Makers Grapple with EU Regulations

In a declining and weakening market, stringent requirements dictate more downsizing and more cost increases.

by on Jan.19, 2010

CO2 reduction is no walk in the park for automakers or their unsuspecting consumers.

Increasingly severe CO2 standards in Europe requiring average fleet emissions of 130g/km by 2015 are forcing automaker to undertake a drastic downsizing of vehicles in a market already dominated by relatively small cars.

The regulations backed by tax incentives and special treatment of makers and classes of vehicles have global implications as Asia and the United States debate and institute their own future auto regulations.

The U.S. now is looking at CO2 limits of roughly twice that of the European Union, but all bets are off after 2015 as to what the next regulatory steps are.

What happens in a volatile political and regulatory environment will determine the types of vehicles you can buy – potentially eliminating the vehicle you are driving now– how small remaining vehicles will be, and how much more – and it will be more — you will pay for them.

At risk are the recovery and future profitability of heretofore wealth-creating automakers who in the depressed world economy will have a difficult time passing on the large costs incurred to make already small efficient cars cleaner still.

About 8-10 million cars are expected to be in the less than 130g/km CO2 emission band in Europe by 2015, according to automotive consultancy Frost & Sullivan. That’s about two-thirds of the market, which by definition will come to define the market.

This is resulting in a complex three-dimensional game of chess just underway behind the scenes, as mass marketers will by necessity try to squeak by with minimal investments.


Luxury makers, with their affluent and relatively well-educated customers, have the opposite problem – how much to spend on advanced technologies that the buyer can’t access or even see in terms of traditional luxury features so that they can continue to offer larger sizes, more engine power and more gadgets that define luxury without offending the greenish sensibilities of potential customers. Here, too, makers ultimately face a pricing problem. Too much in price might be too much even for the relatively affluent, or too little in social responsibility will not be enough.


Plug-In Hybrid Costs to Stay High, Benefits Modest

Are hundreds of billions in taxpayer subsidies really needed?

by on Dec.22, 2009

Even a small battery pack adds $3,300 in cost.

Costs of plug-in hybrid electric cars are high — largely due to their lithium-ion batteries — and unlikely to decrease drastically in the near future, claims a new report from the National Research Council.

Costs to manufacture plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in 2010 similar to the Chevrolet Volt are estimated to be as much as $18,000 more than for an equivalent conventional vehicle, $14,000 for the battery pack alone. And the cost estimates in the report are incremental manufacturing costs. They do include engineering and overhead costs, or the profits that automakers will try to pass on to customers.

Although a mile driven on electricity is cheaper than one driven on gasoline, it will likely take several decades before the upfront costs decline enough to be offset by lifetime fuel savings.

Subsidies in the tens to hundreds of billions of dollars over that period will be needed if plug-ins are to achieve rapid penetration of the U.S. automotive market.

Worse, even with these efforts, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are not expected to reduce oil consumption significantly or carbon emissions before 2030.


The report looks at plug-ins that can operate on electricity for 10 or 40 miles. A theoretical PHEV-10 is similar to the existing Toyota Prius, but with a larger battery. The PHEV-40 is similar to the Chevrolet Volt since it has a larger motor and a much larger battery than the PHEV-10 to get 40 miles of electric range.