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Articles on this Page
- 07/31/12--14:02: _Honda launches Jazz...
- 08/02/12--08:00: _Developer sues Tesl...
- 08/09/12--11:50: _Mitsubishi "tempora...
- 08/15/12--17:48: _54.5 MPG fuel rule ...
- 08/17/12--08:01: _Getting NHTSA to si...
- 08/17/12--09:50: _Game on! Elon Musk ...
- 08/20/12--12:01: _Honda's new 'Earth ...
- 08/20/12--16:08: _EV equity partnersh...
- 08/23/12--07:52: _Tesla confirms prod...
- 08/25/12--14:20: _Forbes gives three ...
- 08/27/12--16:09: _GM stopping Chevy V...
- 08/30/12--09:59: _Are battery makers ...
- 09/04/12--14:04: _Honda's modest sale...
- 09/05/12--14:51: _Yo Mobile, Russia's...
- 09/10/12--11:29: _Chevy Volt costs $8...
- 09/12/12--10:42: _BYD sells its first...
- 09/12/12--13:56: _Bosch, Samsung diss...
- 09/12/12--17:01: _Hybrids still accou...
- 09/13/12--16:02: _GM recycles somethi...
- 09/14/12--08:04: _Leaf owners challen...
- 07/31/12--14:02: Honda launches Jazz (Fit) Hybrid in Thailand
- 08/02/12--08:00: Developer sues Tesla over proposed New Mexico Model S plant
- 08/15/12--17:48: 54.5 MPG fuel rule negotiations were not harmonious
- 08/17/12--08:01: Getting NHTSA to sign off is biggest hurdle Wheego faces for now
- 08/20/12--12:01: Honda's new 'Earth Dreams' drivetrains go into production
- 08/20/12--16:08: EV equity partnerships make sense at first, but can end poorly
- 08/23/12--07:52: Tesla confirms production of 100 Model S vehicles, 74 for customers
- 08/25/12--14:20: Forbes gives three reasons to be skeptical of Tesla's success
- 08/27/12--16:09: GM stopping Chevy Volt production for four weeks
- 08/30/12--09:59: Are battery makers due for a "Ghosn shock"?
- 09/04/12--14:04: Honda's modest sales target adds 200 Fit EVs in Japan
- 09/05/12--14:51: Yo Mobile, Russia's first hybrid, delayed until 2015
- 09/10/12--11:29: Chevy Volt costs $80K to build? Not true, says GM
- 09/12/12--10:42: BYD sells its first electric cars, three E6 EVs, in Thailand
- 09/12/12--13:56: Bosch, Samsung dissolving SB LiMotive battery partnership
- 09/12/12--17:01: Hybrids still account for fewer than 2% of new vehicles sold
- 09/14/12--08:04: Leaf owners challenge Nissan on "we don't have a battery problem"
Honda announced the official debut of its Jazz Hybrid in Thailand, marking the Japanese automaker's continued efforts to broaden its hybrid-vehicle production outside of Japan.
The hybrid version of the Jazz, known as the Fit in the U.S., is gaining popularity in Asian markets outside of Japan, hence the new production markets. Honda said the Jazz Hybrid, which pairs an 88-horsepower gas engine with a 14-horsepower electric motor, uses 4.7 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers, which equals about 50 miles per gallon. In the U.S., the EPA rates the most-efficient 2012 Fit, the 1.5-liter 5-speed automatic, at 31 combined mpg, 28 in the city and 35 on the highway.
Earlier this month, Honda broke ground on a Malaysian factory line that will include Jazz Hybrid production. Honda's looking to more than double annual Jazz Hybrid sales in Malaysia to more than 10,000 units.
The Nikkei reported in May that Honda would take Jazz Hybrid production to Thailand. The Thai auto industry, the world's 12th largest, took a massive hit with last year's flood that killed more than 800 people. Plants owned by both Honda and Toyota suffered damage, though both have since reopened.Permalink | Email this | Comments
New Mexico may be The Land of Enchantment, but at least one developer from the state is less than charmed with Tesla Motors.
The electric-vehicle maker has been sued by Rio Real Estate Investment Opportunities for what the developer says was an agreed-upon deal for Tesla to produce its Model S battery-electric sedan in New Mexico, according to website Gigaom.
Tesla allegedly reached an agreement in early 2007 to have Rio Real Estate build a 150,000-square-foot factory and lease it out to the automaker for $1.35 million a year for 10 years. Instead, Tesla decided to start Model S production in California after reaching an agreement with Toyota in 2010 to make the cars at the old NUMMI Toyota-General Motors joint venture plant in the San Francisco Bay Area. We asked Tesla for comment on the matter, but Tesla spokeswoman Shanna Hendriks told AutoblogGreen that the company does not comment on pending litigation.
Tesla, which in June started deliveries of the Model S, said last week that its second-quarter loss widened by 84 percent to $106.5 million because expenses jumped and revenue fell as the company geared up for the car's debut. Permalink | Email this | Comments
Despite some popular deals available for limited times and long-distance adventures, the Citroen C-Zero and Peugeot Ion were never big sellers. Now, Mitsubishi has decided that it's not worth it to build the electric vehicles for PSA any more.
Automotive News reports that overall slow sales of the two electric cars - for the first half of 2012, 852 Ions and 935 C-Zeros were sold - mean an indefinite hiatus for the European jellybeans. A Mitsubishi representative told AN that, "This is a matter of PSA adjusting its orders to market demand. ... Our production total is lower than what we had originally hoped for." The Ion and C-Zero are both rebadged versions of the i-MiEV that Mitsubishi makes in Japan.
Christine Jew, senior specialist, product communications, for Mitsubishi Motors North America, told AutoblogGreen that, "Yes, supply to PSA has been temporarily suspended, however production and sales of i-MiEVs around the world continues as usual. Therefore, this does not affect U.S. production of the i-MiEV." Permalink | Email this | Comments
If you assumed that the federal mandate requiring automakers to reach the 54.5 miles per gallon corporate average fuel economy standard by 2025 was negotiated cordially and ended in a group hug, think again. Verbal fisticuffs and head butting would be more accurate descriptions, with members of Congress and automakers joining the squabble with the federal regulatory agencies. During the negotiation process, foreign automakers took umbrage with more favorable treatment domestic makers seemed to be receiving by the White House.
While the White House did keep the process quiet and off the public radar, it was more like a boiling cauldron behind the scenes, according to new reports. On Friday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's Republican majority staff released a report stating foreign automakers had bitterly complained about how they were treated. Jim Lentz, the U.S. sales chief for Toyota, said Toyota executives in Japan feel like, "they've been screwed" by the mandate that nearly doubles the fuel economy standards by 2025 and what they see as preferential treatment given to larger trucks, calling it a "second bailout for Detroit."
The White House defended the deal, with White House spokesman Clark Stevens saying the historic standards for 2017-2025 model year light-duty vehicles will save families $1.7 trillion dollars at the pump and dramatically reduce fuel consumption. More than a dozen automakers, along with the United Auto Workers, the state of California (which, at that time, made things more difficult with its even more stringent standards), and environmental organizations, supported the mandate, Steven said.
Toyota wanted a few things out of the deal - credits for hybrid electric vehicles, a category in which the company dominates, more flexibility to use car credits for meeting truck standards, and inclusion of the Toyota Tundra in the definition of full-size trucks in the mandate. Volkswagen and other German automakers complained that the deal didn't give credits for clean diesel, while it did favor EVs, compressed natural gas and ethanol. Resentment with the state of California and its regulatory agency, the California Air Resources Board, also raised hackles in the negotiation process.
At the end of the day, the major automakers are now quietly complying with the federal rules and it doesn't look like they will be fighting the state of California in court over its zero emissions rules, as they did a few years ago. Permalink | Email this | Comments
As Wheego Electric Car has been experiencing, starting up a car manufacturing business is a very tough thing to do. Wheego is wending its way through acceptable compliance with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards Regulations (FMVSSR) for its two-seat, all-electric Wheego Whip LiFe car. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had granted Wheego a temporary exemption to the rules to allow for sales of the car as minor problems are being addressed and safety standards met. Earlier this week, it was discovered Wheego has been granted a second exemption period to comply with FMVSSR, after the first waiver ran out on August 1. This new waiver allows the Whip LiFe to remain on the market until December 31, 2012.
The problem with the $32,995 electric car is that its Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system is not fitted to the car, although it is now meeting anti-lock braking system requirements. Wheego has to improve the airbags, too. Its simple airbags are considered compliant until February 11, 2013, when NHTSA would like to see advanced airbags put in place. Wheego is being allowed by NHTSA to build up to 1,000 Wheego Whip LiFe cars in its present condition.
Tesla Motors went through a similar process when rolling out the original Roadster electric sports car in limited-run production. Tesla was given temporary exemption under the same scheme, allowing it to sell the car without advanced two-stage airbags through December 31, 2011.
In the movie, "Revenge of the Electric Car," Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk was compared to Preston Tucker, who built a very cool car in the 1940s - the Tucker - and attempted to beat his major competitors in Detroit by making it as a startup automaker. Tucker went out of business after manufacturing only a small volume of the innovative Tucker models because he didn't have the cash flow to keep his company going.
Management at auto manufacturing companies will tell you that there are a few benchmarks that have to be passed for a new car to make it into someone's garage: funding is an obvious one, along with engineering and design. Then there's the regulations: passing crash tests and getting NHTSA to sign-off an extensive list of federal safety standards. Wheego Electric Car is climbing some very high walls right now and, at this point, getting NHTSA to sign off is the one that matters the most. Permalink | Email this | Comments
It is official: Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk and Fisker Automotive chief Henrik Fisker are throwing jabs at each other, without wearing gloves or safety helmets! Okay, maybe it's not that exciting, but, for those interested in the egos and competition behind the new industry of luxury plug-ins, it's worth checking out.
Most of the juicy information came from the extremely busy Musk, taking time away from developing advanced EV technology and Space X cargo ships, to talk gossip with Automobile Magazine about archrival Fisker that goes back a few years, when Tesla unsuccessfully sued Henrik Fisker for developing the Karma while under contract for the design of the Model S - basically paying someone to design his own car.
Another, more newsworthy zinger was when Musk called out Fisker as a smart designer but one who does not understand the underlying technology problem. Musk said:
Fisker has been scrambling around lately to deal with fires and recalls connected to its A123 Systems partnership. Musk's biggest jab was directed at the flagship Karma: "It's a mediocre product at a high price."
The fundamental problem with Henrik Fisker - he is a designer or stylist...he thinks the reason we don't have electric cars is for lack of styling. This is not the reason. It's fundamentally a technology problem. At the same time, you need to make it look good and feel good, because otherwise you're going to have an impaired product. But just making something look like an electric car does not make it an electric car.
So what did Henrik Fisker have to say? In a written response to Automobile Magazine, Fisker stayed friendly, but did throw down the competitive gauntlet: range anxiety. "Obviously, Tesla and Fisker are appealing to two different customer bases with two totally different technologies. Tesla has pure EV and Fisker has a range-extended offering with no compromise on range," he wrote. Zing!
Fisker thanked Musk for giving a nod to the good-looking Karma, which won Automobile's 2012 Design of the Year. He also made a statement to clear up the legal wrangle: Fisker won in court. A judge threw out the case and awarded costs to Fisker.
Both companies have done a lot of "borrowing" of existing technologies to bring their plug-ins to market. Karma needed Quantum Technologies to provide the plug-in hybrid drivetrain and used a General Motors-sourced 2.0 liter turbo four-cylinder engine. Tesla used the Lotus Elise to develop its first car, the Roadster. That being said, the sparring judges would probably send more points to Tesla Motors, which is selling its battery system and EV powertrain technology to companies like Toyota.
Ding, ding, ding! Elon Musk wins this round. Will there be another? Permalink | Email this | Comments
Production of the "Earth Dreams" powertrains that will slot into the 2013 Honda Accord has begun at the Japanese automaker's Anna Engine and Honda Transmission Mfg. plants, both of which will supply the Ohio assembly lines where the Accord is built.
As one would expect with car as important to Honda as the ninth-generation Accord, the company has made a huge investment in the North American debut of its new direct-injected, 2.4-liter four-cylinder, a new CVT transmission, and a 3.5-liter V6 and its optional six-speed automatic. Honda has spent $220 million on expansions, casting operations and automated lines for its associates, and the plant is now able to make 1.8 million Earth Dreams engines annually.
The new engines are said to be good for a 10-percent improvement in fuel economy compared to current offerings, and the powerplants will eventually migrate to other models in Honda's lineup. Check out the press release below for more information.Permalink | Email this | Comments
WARNING to electric carmakers and lithium ion battery manufacturers: it's suggested you stay away from taking equity stakes in each other's companies. Practicing this type of electric-vehicle keiretsu could lead to harikari.
In an Automotive News commentary, Dave Guiliford analyzed two examples of such investment alliances that haven't gone so well. In 2010, battery maker A123 Systems took a $20.5-million stake in Fisker Automotive and supplied the battery systems for the first (and thus far only) Fisker car, the Karma. In 2007, Ener1 took a 31 percent stake in Norwegian EV maker Think and signed a contract to supply lithium ion batteries for the Think City electric car. As part of that deal, Ener1 CEO Charles Gassenheimer became chairman of the Think board.
Initially, these partnerships seemed to make sense. If these types of partnerships worked well together, it could be similar to what's called keiretsu in Japan, where suppliers become an important part of the supply chain for automakers and long-term, successful partnerships are forged. On the other side of the coin, taking such investment risks can end poorly. As Guiliford wrote, "Tying a small, new-tech supplier and a small, new-tech automaker compounds the risk that each company has."
Both Ener1 and Think have entered bankruptcy following Think's disappointing sales of the City. A123 has written down its investment in Fisker by nearly half and cautioned, in its first-quarter report, that it could be at risk from lower-than-expected orders from Fisker. Fisker is struggling to bring its second plug-in hybrid, the Atlantic, to market.
The lesson? Taking equity links can sometimes be a shrewd move for automotive partners. It can also be like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Permalink | Email this | Comments
In the latest official Tesla blog post, George Blankenship, Tesla's vice president of worldwide sales and ownership experience has got some fresh Model S numbers for us. Specifically, the company has now made 100 production Model S vehicles, with 74 of those destined for reservation holders. The rest, Blankenship writes, are "being used for test drive cars, in-store displays, engineering tests and for service team training. We plan to continue to increase production in the upcoming weeks."
That increased production target for the rest of the year is 5,000, with 20-30,000 in 2013.
To put all these numbers in perspective, in early August, Tesla had only made 50 Model S vehicles, 29 for customers.
Blankenship was one of the people who is now driving a new Model S. He writes, "And for those of you who are wondering, yes, my wife and I got our Model S on Saturday! It was delivered to our house at 10 a.m. sharp by one of our Tesla Delivery Experience Specialists. Some things really are priceless." Permalink | Email this | Comments
The future's cloudy, but you should still buy the stock. That's the message Forbes is sending about Tesla Motors.
Tesla's stock price may rise another 50 percent or so, but the electric-vehicle maker's steep ramp up, potential competition and dependence on a single model for its success (for now) pose risks to the automaker's future, Forbes writes.
The company, which has more than 12,000 reservations for its Model S sedan so far, is planning on ramping up to build as many as 20,000 units next year. Earlier this year, it was making around 10 units a week (this past Thursday, Tesla confirmed that it made its 100th production Model S), and to ramp up that quickly creates the potential for quality control and supplier performance issues, said Forbes. Nonetheless, Forbes has a $41 price target on the stock; Tesla was trading at about $29 a share on Friday.
Tesla started deliveries of the Model S in June and said last month that its second-quarter loss widened by 84 percent to $106.5 million because expenses jumped and revenue fell as the company prepared for the car's debut.
Additionally, with companies like BMW and Audi jumping into the advanced-powertrain fray, Tesla can expect to see increased competition just as it looks to expand production of the Model S. Permalink | Email this | Comments
This is not the first time General Motors has idled Chevrolet Volt production (see here and here) but it is perhaps the most unexpected. According to Automotive News, the Volt's Detroit-Hamtramck plant will be shut down for four weeks - from September 17 until October 15 - starting next month. This will affect about 1,500 workers.
With this news, it seems that GM must be sitting on more Volt inventory than we suspected. Earlier this year, the plant was shut down because GM had a 150-day supply of Volts, but sales have been good this summer. Still, AN says, as of August 1, GM had an 84-day supply. Another clue that there are more Volts around than people want, some Volt lease deals have surfaced recently that are considered underpriced. A spokesman told AN that, "We don't comment on production schedules. We continue to match supply and demand." Permalink | Email this | Comments
Battery makers in the Japanese auto market are quite nervous, with concern that "Ghosn shock" may return in the wake of low-selling lithium-ion powered electric vehicles.
In 1999, Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn put the squeeze on steel materials suppliers, pressuring them to reduce prices as part of his corporate rehabilitation agenda. That's when the term "Ghosn shock" was invented, and it's believed to have triggered the steel industry's reorganization in Japan.
While Nissan has established a joint company with NEC Group producing lithium-ion batteries, the automaker wants to have access to lower prices from Hitachi. Nissan wants to add li-ion batteries produced by Hitachi to its next-generation, eco-friendly Altima and Pathfinder models, slated to be sold in the U.S. in 2013.
Lithium-ion battery manufacturers have been disappointed at the sluggish sales of electric vehicles because they expected to supply a huge amount of batteries to auto manufacturers. Now, the batteries are oversupplied and cutting into battery maker profits. For example, the Nissan Leaf sold little more than 20,000 units in 2011, only 40 percent of the company's stated goal.
Automakers had been limiting their battery suppliers, many times through jointly-owned ventures. Examples include Hitachi forming a partnership to supply li-ion batteries to General Motors for its hybrid cars, and Toyota working closely with Panasonic. Mitsubishi has a jointly owned company established with GS Yuasa Corp, but started to obtain batteries for low-priced models of electric vehicles from Toshiba Corp. Honda did the same - adopting Toshiba batteries for the Honda Fit EV.
The joint venture relationships offer benefits to automakers, such as product quality and specifications right for the car. The new priority for automakers, though, is price competition, and building more working relationships with more battery makers could mean cheaper batteries. Automakers know they need to bring down the MSRPs on electric vehicles and hybrids to increase the sales volume. Since li-ion batteries make up a big part of the production cost, battery makers are being pulled into a more competitive, tough market ... Ghosn style. Permalink | Email this | Comments
Honda continues its low-volume rollout of the Fit EV with a decision to lease 200 units in Japan over the next two years, mostly to local governments and businesses. After unveiling the car in the U.S. last November, Honda announced it expects to bring about 1,100 units to market over the next three years. The number could be larger, though, since Honda will be monitoring market acceptance to gauge production volume. We suspect the modest sales target has something to do with compliance with California's regulation that large automakers build at least some zero-emission vehicles.
Honda's development team created the Fit EV with three targets: build an EV with greater range requiring less battery capacity, enhance motor drive performance and make the battery charging as time efficient as possible. The development team used two key words to define the EV's identity - "fun" and "mottainai" (which translates to "no waste.")
Honda chose the basic package of its internal combustion engine Fit with its compact body size and occupant comfort, and worked on building an electrified version that maximizes energy efficiency. Honda was able to achieve what Green Car Congress calls "the current best AC energy consumption rate of 106 Wh/km and one-charge mileage of 225 km (140 miles) in JC08 mode." As for limited production and sales targets, Honda remains in line with other plug-in-hesitant major automakers like Ford, Toyota and Mitsubishi. Permalink | Email this | Comments
Hybrids are generally known more for their fuel economy than speed. True to form, Russia's first gas-electric model just got a little slower.
Yo Auto, the hybrid-vehicle maker launched with help from Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, said the Yo Mobile model will be pushed back to early 2015, reports Agence France-Presse. Originally, it was supposed to debut later this year.
An executive with Yo Auto, who resigned because of the delay, said the hold-up was caused by supply issues from a U.S.-based parts maker whose identity wasn't disclosed. The executive denied that the delay was due to the fact that Yo Mobile was nothing more than a publicity stunt. Prokhorov touted the vehicles during a presidential run last spring, then stopped talking about them.
Prokhorov, who owns the National Basketball Association's Brooklyn Nets (formerly the New Jersey Nets), said in late 2010 that the Yo Mobile would see the light of day by the end of 2012. He also once claimed that his company would produce up to 45,000 Yo Mobile vehicles a year from its factory near St. Petersburg and sell them for between U.S. $10,000 and $15,000. Prokhorov's Onexim Group, along with Russia-based truckmaker Yarovit, was said to be investing about $200 million in a plant to build the cars.
Earlier this year, Yo Auto started pitching a crossover hybrid that can run on both gasoline and compressed natural gas (CNG) and can get about 65 miles per gallon. No price or release dates have been announced. Permalink | Email this | Comments
Late last year, the Internet went wild with the "news" that each Chevrolet Volt that was built cost taxpayers $250,000. That figure was completely untrue, of course, but the question of how much GM is paying to make each Volt is as close to a perennial one as we have 'round these parts when it comes to the new generation of plug-in vehicles. The latest figures, which come to us via "auto industry consultants who spoke with Reuters," suggest that, currently, each Volt costs GM around $80,000, or at least somewhere between $76,000 and $88,000.
That 80k breaks down this way: Each Volt currently has $56,000 in fixed costs - $18,650 in development costs and $37,350 in tooling costs - as well as $24,000 in parts and labor, according to the consultants. With each Volt sold, the $56,000 will drop by a little bit, but it's a slow process. Reuters says GM has invested an estimated $1.2 billion into the Volt program so far and when you divide $1.2 billion by the 21,500 Volts sold in the U.S. so far, you get $56,000. This does not take advertising and marketing costs into account, or the number of Volts (and Opel Amperas) sold overseas. In response, GM issued a statement clarifying just how much Reuters is relying on current sales numbers to get to the $80k number, saying, Reuters' estimate is "grossly wrong." The full statement is available below.
What GM isn't saying is how much, exactly, it costs to make a Volt. But Doug Parks, GM's vice president of global product programs, did admit that the Volt is a losing proposition, financially. He told Reuters, "It's true, we're not making money yet. ... [It] eventually will make money. As the volume comes up and we get into the Gen 2 car, we're going to turn (the losses) around."Permalink | Email this | Comments
Hey, it's a start.
BYD, the China-based vehicle maker that's repeatedly delayed the debut of its battery-electric vehicles for the U.S. market, has sold three of its EVs to the Thai utility company that supplies power to Bangkok as part of an effort to promote EV vehicle use in the country. Power company MEA cited BYD's leadership role in EV production and Thailand's need to adopt more green transportation as the reason behind the purchases.
A year ago, Thailand flooding killed more than 800 people and devastated its automobile production industry, including companies like Toyota and Honda. Before the floods, Thailand was the world's 12th-largest automotive producer, with about 1.6 million vehicles built in the country in 2010. Because of the flood, any efforts promote the production of more fuel efficient cars and, in some cases, vehicles with advanced powertrains, were held back.
BYD has been testing its all-electric e6 with Shenzhen, China taxi operators for more than two years. The company has also sold about 200 battery-electric buses worldwide. BYD, whose investors include Warren Buffett, was testing its EVs in Los Angeles as early as 2010 and had previously set U.S. launch dates for 2010, 2011 and 2012. BYD opened its North American headquarters in Los Angeles late last year.Permalink | Email this | Comments
After four years of partnering with Samsung SDI on lithium-ion battery production, Bosch apparently wants to go it alone.
SB LiMotive, the Bosch-Samsung SDI joint-venture created to produce lithium-ion batteries for electric-drive vehicles, will be dissolved once its current contract obligations are satisfied. Bosch will take over all battery-systems operations and is looking to expand battery production in Europe. Each company will give the other access to its patents.
Early last year, the partnership began production at a South Korea factory with plans on doubling output by 2015. Partnership executives also told Ward's Auto at the time that it was looking into opening plants in Europe and North America. The BMW ActiveE and the Fiat 500 EV were among contracts the partnership won for lithium-ion battery production. SB LiMotive began operations in September 2008. The Bosch press release is available below.Permalink | Email this | Comments
It's either a drop in the bucket or a segment with lots of room to grow. Which aspect an advanced-powertrain vehicle advocate chooses depends on how he sees the challenge that hybrids face in the marketplace. Given a new study that once again shows that, after more than ten years on sale, gas-electric models still account for just a small fraction of the global light-duty vehicles made, we're inclined to see it both ways.
Worldwide vehicle production could reach a record 80 million units this year, up at least 4.2 percent from 76.8 million last year, according to Washington, D.C.-based sustainable industry advocate Worldwatch Institute. But, hybrids will account for fewer than one in every 50 vehicles produced, according to the survey, or less than two percent. Electric vehicle production? That's at "barely perceptible levels," the report said.
In the U.S., things look a bit better. Here, alt-fuel vehicle sales are rebounding this year after the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011 crippled production of the Toyota Prius, the world's most popular hybrid. Through August, green vehicle sales surged 63 percent compared to 2011, to more than 353,000 units. August U.S. alt-fuel sales stood at about 50,000 units, or almost four percent of the almost 1.3 million light-duty vehicles Autodata said were sold in the U.S. last month. Think of it as a bigger drop in a smaller bucket, perhaps.
See below for an overview of the Worldwatch Institute report.Permalink | Email this | Comments
For automakers pursuing sustainability initiatives - things like powering plants with solar panels and recycling existing car components - General Motors is stepping it up a notch. GM is working with a Detroit nonprofit group to turn leftover auto materials into warm coats and sleeping bags for the area's houseless.
The recycling campaign was inspired by Veronika Scott, an Empowerment Plan leader at the College for Creative Studies. Scott had started a project to design clothing for the houseless using recyclable materials. While working on a local shoot for a Planet Green cable TV production, she met John Bradburn, GM's manager of waste-reduction efforts. Bradburn told her about Sonozorb, which is a highly oil-absorbent insulating material used to fit into car door cavities and vehicle compartments for sound absorption. GM had been reusing Sonozorb at its plants and the material was also used to clean up the Gulf oil spill in 2010, some of which was even recycled into production Chevrolet Volt vehicles.
It made sense for Scott to request donation of the material from GM, and the company delivered 2,000 yards of the materials. That was enough to make about 400 coats from extra Sonozorb chunks that came from the production of Chevy Malibu and Buick Verano sedans. Auto supplier GDC works on the project, too, reprocessing leftover material into quilt-like fabric for the coats that also transform into sleeping bags.
Scott employs about seven formerly homeless women who are paid to craft about 150 coats a month. The coats are sent to homeless outreach groups in Detroit and other destinations, including Ohio, New York, and San Francisco.
The donations tie into GM's commitment to reduce waste. Last year, the company recycled or reused 2.5 million metric tons at its facilities worldwide. It's also a good way to service the local community. "We're reaching out and helping others," Bradburn told the Detroit News.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Things appear to be heating up in the desert.
Some Nissan Leaf owners aren't buying the automaker's claim that suspected loss of battery capacity stems from issues related to the car's display readings and not fundamental battery issues.
To prove the point, about a dozen Leaf drivers are getting together in Phoenix this weekend to compare capacity-display levels with actual driving range, according to Green Car Reports.
Leaf owner Tony Williams, who is leading the effort, says that, while batteries with a full set of "bars" indicating battery capacity will provide as much as an 84-mile range, cars missing two bars and four bars will come up anywhere between 18 miles and 28 miles short of that range.
Reports started surfacing this summer about Arizona Leaf owners complaining that the heat caused the cars to rapidly lose battery capacity. Nissan, which has long said that a battery pack will keep as much as 80 percent of its capacity after ten years, more recently noted that heat could only hurt capacity if it climbed as high at the 130-140-degree range.
Either way, the publicity doesn't help Nissan, whose Leaf sales have lagged this year. Last month, Nissan sold 685 Leafs in the U.S., which was up from 395 in July but way down from 1,362 units in August 2011. Permalink | Email this | Comments