PG&E Proposes Major Build-Out of Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) today asked state regulators for permission to build an estimated 25,000 electric vehicle chargers at sites across its service area in Northern and Central California. If approved, this program would be the largest deployment of EV charging stations in the country.The chargers would be located at commercial and public locations, including multi-family dwellings, retail centers, and workplaces. Approximately 10 percent of the chargers would be installed to support disadvantaged communities. PG&E would also provide tools and educational materials for site hosts and customers to learn about the benefits of electric vehicles.More than 60,000 plug-in electric vehicles are currently registered in PG&E’s service area, which represents more than a fifth of all EVs in the United States. The Governor’s Office has called for 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles in California by 2025 to help meet the state’s ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. To support that plan, industry models suggest that PG&E’s service area will need about 100,000 Level 2 chargers in public locations by 2020.All of the 25,000 stations PG&E proposes to build would have Level 2 chargers, which provide up to 25 miles of range for every hour of charging. To support travel between metropolitan areas, PG&E would also install at key locations 100 DC fast chargers, which can recharge an EV’s battery in only 30 minutes. A growing number of DC fast charging stations are being deployed along the “West Coast Electric Highway,” which serves drivers from British Columbia to Baja California.The chargers would be provided at no cost to the site host. PG&E proposes to own all of the infrastructure, but contract with third parties to build, install and maintain the chargers and manage customer billing. The utility expects that the program will take about five years to complete following approval by the California Public Utilities Commission.The cost of PG&E’s plan, if approved, would be shared by all electric customers as a contribution to helping the state meet its clean air and climate goals.The total impact on system average bundled rates would be minimal in 2016 and 2017 and would average only a tenth of a cent per kilowatt-hour over the next five years of the program. A typical residential customer would pay about 70 cents more per month over the period 2018 to 2022.PG&E is a strong supporter of transportation electrification for a cleaner environment. The utility has more than 1,200 electric-base vehicles in its fleet, and is a leader in introducing new electric technology into its vehicles. It was one of the first utilities in the country to offer money-saving rate plans for EV customer charging. It recently announced a major smart-charging pilot program with automaker BMW.

Lightways (Contractors) Ltd Switches Fleet to Toyota Hybrids

Lightways (Contractors) Ltd is one of the latest UK businesses to switch to Toyota hybrids for a greener and more tax-efficient vehicle fleet. If that wasn’t enough to put a smile on its directors’ faces, the hand-over of the new vehicles at SDM Toyota in Falkirk was marked with an array of red noses for everyone involved – cars included – celebrating Toyota’s nationwide fund-raising efforts for Comic Relief as an official partner to Red Nose Day.The company, established in 1978, provides a wide range of road surfacing and repairs and carriageway and festive lighting services across Scotland from its headquarters in Larbert and additional depots in East Kilbride and Dalkeith. It has recently taken delivery of Auris, Auris Touring Sports and Prius+ models for use by its contracts managers and directors.A company spokesman said: “As a business we are keen to demonstrate our environmental awareness and realised how we could do this in our company car fleet by changing to Toyota hybrids.“As well as being a greener option, the new cars are practical for our transport requirements and also deliver attractive tax benefits. We also appreciate the good reputation Toyota hybrids have for reliability and being a comfortable drive when you have to cover long distances.The British-built Auris and Auris Touring Sports hybrids are a popular choice for fleet and business customers, available with sub-100g/km CO2 emissions that secure annual road tax exemption (Vehicle Excise Duty) and attractive benefit-in-kind company car tax rates. Prius+ adds a further dimension to Toyota’s hybrid range, a seven-seat compact MPV that uses advanced lithium-ion battery technology to provide the right amount of power from a more compact battery pack.Each of these models can also operate for short distances in all-electric EV mode, cutting tailpipe emissions and fuel consumption to zero when, for example, travelling in slow-moving city traffic.

Ricardo-AEA Announces Hydrogen Refuelling Station Competition

Ricardo-AEA has been selected, in partnership with E4tech, to deliver the UK Government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles’ (OLEV) ‘hydrogen refuelling stations’ infrastructure grant scheme – the scheme aims to support the roll out of a UK hydrogen fuel network capable of servicing fuel cell electric vehicles. Grant funding of £3.5 million will be provided through the scheme to develop up to seven new, fully functional, hydrogen refuelling stations, with a further £2 million being made available to upgrade up to eight existing ‘demonstration’ stations. Ricardo-AEA will oversee the submission of infrastructure proposals through its online application portal, before technically reviewing the applications and making a formal recommendation to OLEV. Technical experts within Ricardo-AEA and E4tech will judge applications on how well they meet a range of criteria, including the role they will play in an early hydrogen network. Once successful infrastructure candidates have been chosen, Ricardo-AEA will work with government to deliver the grant payments and monitor and report on the installation of new hydrogen refuelling stations. The competition opened on 2 February 2015 and potential applicants are being invited to register their interest via the online application portal on Ricardo-AEA’s website: http://www.ricardo-aea.com/cms/hydrogen-refuelling-station-grants. Upon registration, candidates will receive a competition guidance document and the scheme’s application form. Lisa Groves, senior consultant at Ricardo-AEA commented: “We’re very pleased to be delivering this project on behalf of the UK government. Leading car manufacturers have already chosen the UK as one of their first markets for FCEVs and it’s vital that the UK builds an effective refuelling network in order to benefit from this low carbon technology. We have developed a robust selection process that will enable government and industry money to target the most suitable projects and deliver this new infrastructure. We look forward to working with OLEV to see the first part of the UK’s hydrogen refuelling network established in 2016/2017.”

France Announces New Incentives To Switch To Electric Cars

French government announced plans to provide diesel car drivers with up to a 10,000 euros (US$11,310) grant to switch to plug-in electric cars. The initiative forms part of France’s 2015 environmental road map outlined by Energy and Sustainable Development Minister, Segolene Royal and forms part of a backdrop which has seen some hint diesel could be phased out by 2020.According to Segolene Royal, from April the government will introduce a bonus of up to 10,000 euros ($11,310) for the purchase of an electric model if the customer elects to replace an old diesel vehicle. 6,500 euros ($7,350) will also be given out to new owners of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. “We have to eliminate old diesel cars that are more than 13 years old and have no filters,” commented Royal.A 10,000-euro rebate would reduce the price of Renault’s Zoe subcompact EV to 12,400 euros from 22,400 euros. The price of the Nissan Leaf would fall to 14,390 euros.The two models are France’s best-selling passenger car EVs. French sales of the Zoe were 5,970 last year, according to analysts Inovev. Leaf sales were 1,604.Royal’s comments on diesel cars fall in line with the recent measures by the French government, which in December announced it would increase the so-called TICPE excise tax on diesel by 2 euro cents per liter, claiming a total of 807 million euros this year from consumers. French drivers have been encouraged to buy diesel cars over gasoline because of more affordable taxes – now environmental groups lobby the government to align the levies. Additionally, French automakers also believe the new measures would spur consumption, as buyers will re-orient towards new cars with better fuel consumption.

Scalable Electric Drive for Future Electric Vehicles

Although electric cars meet current trends, driving axles are still too heavy, too expensive and too large for them. To address this situation, Fraunhofer researchers joined forces with partners to design an optimized axle module for commercial vehicles. It is powerful, lightweight, compact and cost-effective.The future belongs to electric motors, and commercial vehicles are no exception. To date, however, many attempts to develop electric motors for commercial vehicles have stalled at the prototype stage or are extremely expensive: Usually electric models cost between two and three times as much as their conventional equivalents. The reason for this is the lack of suitable technologies for series production.This is where ESKAM comes in. Short for Electric, Scalable Axle Module, the project is sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). A total of eleven partners, including the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology IWU in Chemnitz, are developing an axle module for commercial vehicles, consisting of a motor, gearbox and power electronics. Everything fits neatly and compactly into a shared housing, which is fitted in the respective vehicle using a special frame construction also developed by the project scientists.The axle module presents numerous advantages. For example, it has a high power density and a very high torque. For drivers, this means very fast acceleration. While the speed of most electric motors is approximately 10,000 to 15,000 rpm, the ESKAM motor achieves speeds of 20,000 rpm. “When we started on the project three years ago, we were the only ones who could obtain such high speeds,” recalls Dr. Hans Bräunlich, project manager at IWU. “In the meantime, others have been attempting similarly high speeds. But our head-start in accumulating development experience has given us a technological edge, which we intend to further extend.”Cost-effective manufacturing through series production technologiesHowever, the chief advantage concerns another aspect entirely: As well as designing the axle module, the project researchers and developers simultaneously developed the required series production technologies. IWU had the lead role in this work as well as being the technological lead for the overall project. “Thanks to the innovative concept, there is great flexibility when manufacturing the modules – for small quantities and large batches alike,” says Bräunlich. Series production brings economic advantages, with reductions in production costs of up to 20 percent, according to Bräunlich.Let’s take the gearbox that forms part of the axle module as an example. It consists of shafts and toothed wheels. Usually, shafts like these are manufactured from expensive cylinders or by means of deep-hole drilling. In both cases, the excess material is unused. By contrast, researchers at IWU have chosen new, short process chains together with methods that allow greater material efficiency. One such method is spin extrusion, which was developed by IWU. Although it also uses a block of material, here the blank is shorter than the finished shaft. “To help visualize the process, think of pottery,” explains Bräunlich. “The material is extruded during the shaping process – and pressed outward in a longitudinal direction. This allows us to use virtually all the material, cutting material costs by approximately 30 percent and reducing the overall weight of components.” Until now, there have been only initial ad-hoc approaches for this method. Now the scientists have made the technology fit for series production. The toothed wheels are also made using a different process. Instead of milling them from the material, they are now manufactured using a special forming process called gear-rolling, which was also developed at IWU. This method does not produce any metal chips, and effectively no material is lost.All-purpose module, from small cars to busesThe flexibility of the axle module is not limited to batch sizes either, but also extends to geometry. “Because the module is scalable, we can use it in everything from small vans and municipal vehicles to buses and trucks,” says Bräunlich. With a wheel hub motor, that would not be possible. While wheel hub motors have definite advantages – such as a wider steering angle and greater responsiveness – they are not suitable for commercial vehicles, as they scarcely deliver more than 2,000 rpm. Since each wheel also requires its own power electronics, costs are higher. “Both developed versions have their own clear raison d’être and should be chosen specifically for a planned vehicle type,” says Bräunlich.The individual modules developed by the various partners are finished and ready to go, as are the manufacturing techniques. In the next stage, the consortium is now putting the individual parts together to make a demonstrator. After that, they want to fit the axle module into a real car for testing by the end of 2015.

Toyota Wants Its Hybrid Batteries Back – All Of Them

The hybrid batteries used in Toyota and Lexus models can last longer the vehicles themselves, so often they are only recovered when the cars reach the end of their useful life, or if they have been involved in an accident. Toyota already has a battery collection rate of more than 90 per cent, but is now widening its strategy and targeting a 100 per cent result.In Europe, Toyota has years of experience operating an internal collection system through its retail network. Toyota and Lexus dealers receive a new hybrid battery in exchange for an old one, leading to an average 91 per cent collection rate.Toyota Motor Europe has set itself the challenge to significantly increase this figure to 100 per cent, through its own network and, additionally, any authorised end-of-life vehicle treatment operators.To support this, the company has announced an extension of its current battery recycling agreements until 31 March 2018.Since July 2011, the France-based Société Nouvelle d’Affinage des Métaux (SNAM) has been taking back and recycling nickel-metal hydride (NiMh) batteries, as used in Prius, Auris Hybrid, Yaris Hybrid and all Lexus hybrid models.Since August 2012, Umicore NV, based in Belgium, has handled lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, which are used in Prius+ and Prius Plug-in models.Steve Hope, Toyota Motor Europe General Manager Environment Affairs, said “When our customers buy a hybrid, they already know that they are in for outstanding fuel efficiency, a stress-free driving experience and a reliable car. This is yet another reason for a hybrid purchase, as we can ensure their car excels in its environmental performance throughout its lifecycle.”Used hybrid batteries are still mainly destined for recycling, but TME has started to research options for the remanufacture of NiMh batteries, potentially giving them a second life as a vehicle or a stationary energy source. Stationary batteries can potentially store surplus renewable energy, for example as an emergency back-up, or cheaper, or help manage fuel costs by storing cheaper, off-peak electricity.Since 2000, around 850,000 Toyota and Lexus full hybrid vehicles have been sold in Europe. Protection of natural resources is a cornerstone in Toyota’s environmental approach, making sustainable recycling of high voltage batteries a priority.

ACEEE Names The Greenest and Meanest Vehicles For 2015

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has released its 18th annual list of the greenest and meanest new vehicles on the market, with the smart fortwo electric drive named the top green vehicle available.
The Smart ForTwo Electric Drive tops the Greenest List once again this year with the highest Green Score ever. Toyota’s Prius Plug-in and original Prius perform exceedingly well again in 2015, jointly taking spot #6. The original Prius also scores a 54 (but is not listed on the Greenest). At #10, the Mitsubishi Mirage was the sole conventional vehicle to earn a spot on the list this year, although the conventional Smart ForTwo is not listed only because its all-electric counterpart had already claimed a spot on the Greenest List. Six out of 12 places in this year’s Greenest List were claimed by plug-in electric vehicles. Electric vehicles claimed additional spots on this year’s Greenest List largely due to the inclusion of one vehicle that just missed a spot on the 2014 Greenest List (the Ford Focus Electric), as well as two vehicles that were left off the list last year due to low sales volume (the Spark EV and Fiat 500E). Two mid-size vehicles also appear on the Greenest List: the Nissan Leaf and Toyota Prius Plug-in, indicating that green need not mean small. This year’s list also features a diverse array of manufacturers: nine different automakers are represented by the 12 top-scoring vehicles, including two American manufacturers (Chevrolet and Ford) and two European manufacturers. The following vehicles comprise the Greenest List for 2015:

Make and model

Specifications

Green Score

Mercedez-Benz Smart Fortwo Elec. Drive Convertible / Coupe

Electric

61

Chevrolet Spark EV

Electric

59

Fiat 500E

Electric

59

Toyota Prius C

1.5L 4, auto CVT

57

Nissan Leaf

Electric

57

Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid

Electric / 1.8L 4, auto CVT

54

Lexus CT 200H

1.8L 4, auto CVT

54

Honda Civic Hybrid

1.5L 4, auto CVT

54

Honda Civic Natural Gas

1.8L 4, auto

54

Mitsubishi Mirage

1.2L 3, auto CVT

54

Ford Focus Electric

Electric

53

Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid

1.4L 4, auto

53

At the same time, it’s important to note that some of the Greenest are only being offered in a handful of states, and that the larger classes are not represented. Hence ACEEEE also identifies practical options among the top widely available, automatic transmission, petroleum-fueled models. The Greener Choices list includes trucks and SUVs, such as the Ford F-150, the Chevrolet Trax, and the Nissan Quest. The gasoline-powered Chevrolet Spark and Honda Fit top their respective car classes. As the list demonstrates, consumers can make greener choices whatever their vehicle needs may be. Domestic manufacturers claimed five of the 12 Greener Choices spots:

Make and model

Specifications

Green Score

Toyota Prius C

1.5L 4, auto CVT

57

Toyota Prius

1.8L 4, auto CVT

54

Mercedes-Benz Smart ForTwo Convertible / Coupe

1.0L 3, auto [P]

53

Honda Fit

1.5L 4, auto CVT

51

Toyota Prius V

1.8L 4, auto CVT

51

Chevrolet Spark

1.2L 4, auto CVT

51

Ford C-Max Hybrid

2.0L 4, auto CVT

48

Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

2.0L 4, auto CVT Awd

46

Chevrolet Trax

1.4L 4, auto stk

45

Chevrolet Colorado / GMC Canyon

2.5L 4, auto

38

Nissan Quest

3.5L 6, auto CVT

36

Ford F-150

2.7L 6, auto stk

36

The Meanest List this year is comprised of heavier medium-duty vehicles and European sports cars that are the least friendly to the environment:

Make and model

Specifications

Green Score

Ram 2500 (CLASS 2B)

5.7L 8, auto 4wd

17

Chevrolet G2500 Express / GMC Savana (CARGO CONVERSION) (MDPV)

6.0L 8, auto

18

Bugatti Veyron

8.0L 16, auto Awd

19

Bentley Mulsanne

6.8L 8, auto stk

21

Mercedes-Benz G 63 AMG

5.5L 8, auto 4wd

21

Mercedes-Benz G 550

5.5L 8, auto 4wd

22

Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe

6.7L 12, auto stk

23

Lamborghini Aventador Roadster

6.5L 12, auto Awd [P]

23

Toyota Sequoia FFV 7

5.7L 8, auto stk 4wd

23

Lexus LX 570

5.7L 8, auto stk 4wd

23

Ferrari FF

6.3L 12, auto 4wd

23

Nissan Armada

5.6L 8, auto 4wd

23