The Truth About Cars » Alternative Energy http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 30 Jul 2015 22:00:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Alternative Energy http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/alternative-energy/ Senate Committee Approves Bill to Help Detroit Make Hybrids http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/senate-committee-approves-bill-help-detroit-make-hybrids/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/senate-committee-approves-bill-help-detroit-make-hybrids/#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2015 21:00:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1129497 A U.S. Senate committee for transportation passed along a bill Thursday that included provisions to help domestic automakers develop and build cleaner vehicles, the Detroit News is reporting. The proposal, dubbed the Vehicle Innovation Act, was included in a larger clean energy bill taken up by the committee. The Vehicle Innovation Act would set aside […]

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A U.S. Senate committee for transportation passed along a bill Thursday that included provisions to help domestic automakers develop and build cleaner vehicles, the Detroit News is reporting.

The proposal, dubbed the Vehicle Innovation Act, was included in a larger clean energy bill taken up by the committee. The Vehicle Innovation Act would set aside $313.6 million next year for research and development of hybrid technology, battery development and alternative fuels such as natural gas. Funding would increase by 4 percent every year up to 2020.

Nearly all major U.S. automotive lobbies representing manufacturers supported the proposal.

The proposal, which will now head to the Senate, faces an extremely difficult future. The bipartisan bill, which was sponsored by Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), and Michigan Democrat Sens. Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow, may be a long shot in the Republican-controlled House — if it makes it that far.

Separately, a bill that Peters introduced that would allow states to use highway funding to help advance road-to-vehicle communications, passed the Senate as part of a larger transportation package. The bill, called the Vehicle-to-Infrastructure Safety Technology Investment Flexibility Act of 2015 says what it does and does what it says will be part of the Senate’s larger 6-year highway funding package.

Along with the Vehicle Innovation Act, the “smart road” provision and larger funding bill won’t be taken up by the House anytime soon. Congress is working toward a 3-month stopgap measure and will take up the larger spending packages after its August recess.

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Drivers Hogging Electric Spaces in Illinois May Get Ticketed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/drivers-hogging-electric-spaces-illinois-may-get-ticketed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/drivers-hogging-electric-spaces-illinois-may-get-ticketed/#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 19:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1125865 An Illinois bill that would make it illegal to park a gasoline-powered car in an electric car charging spot is awaiting the governor’s signature, Green Car Reports writes. The practice, also called ICE-ing, would net a $75-$100 ticket for the offending car owner in Illinois. The electric vehicle charging spot would need to be clearly […]

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ICE-ing Parking

An Illinois bill that would make it illegal to park a gasoline-powered car in an electric car charging spot is awaiting the governor’s signature, Green Car Reports writes.

The practice, also called ICE-ing, would net a $75-$100 ticket for the offending car owner in Illinois.

The electric vehicle charging spot would need to be clearly marked, the bill states. The bill would also make it legal to tow a car from an electric vehicle parking spot, whether in a public place or private garage.

According to the bill’s sponsor, Illinois State Rep. Robyn Gabel, a constituent called her to complain about the practice and that’s what prompted the statewide measure. (Find your state legislator here.)

Several municipalities have already outlawed the practice and there’s a Facebook group dedicated to sharing pictures of reported “ICE-holes.”

In 2012, a Fox News story asked aloud if the parking stations were a perk or privilege and quoted a driver in St. Paul, Minnesota, who said electric vehicle owners could be incapacitated because of the car they’ve purchased.

“This makes me think drivers of electric cars must be a little disabled,” one customer who didn’t want to give his name to FoxNews.com. “They are usually health freaks, so I wonder why they don’t mind walking a half-mile back to a charging station.”

(Photo courtesy ICEHoles – Internal Combustion Vehicle Shaming via Facebook)

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Porsche May Bring Smaller, Electric Panamera-ish Car to Frankfurt http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/porsche-may-bring-smaller-electric-panamera-ish-car-frankfurt/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/porsche-may-bring-smaller-electric-panamera-ish-car-frankfurt/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2015 21:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1123433 Porsche may roll out a Tesla-fighting, BMW 5-Series-sized sedan concept at this year’s Frankfurt auto show, L’Automobile Magazine is reporting (via Car and Driver). The smaller sedan would be about a foot shorter than a Panamera, sport an all-electric powertrain — a first for Porsche — and could be offered alongside gasoline, diesel or hybrid-powered engines. Rumors […]

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Porsche may roll out a Tesla-fighting, BMW 5-Series-sized sedan concept at this year’s Frankfurt auto show, L’Automobile Magazine is reporting (via Car and Driver).

The smaller sedan would be about a foot shorter than a Panamera, sport an all-electric powertrain — a first for Porsche — and could be offered alongside gasoline, diesel or hybrid-powered engines.

Rumors about the car, which has been nicknamed “Pajun,” (PA-namera JUN-ior) have been around for some time, but plugging in a motor that runs on electrons and not gasoline would be relatively new for the perpetually speculative car.

The smaller sedan has seemed like a forgone conclusion for the automaker that is expanding into a full-line manufacturer. Even if our own Jack Baruth can’t stand it. 

The Frankfurt show begins Sept. 15.

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Tesla Prices 70 kWh RWD at $52,500*, Adds Ludicrous Mode to P85D http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/tesla-prices-70-kwh-rwd-at-52500-adds-ludicrous-mode-to-p85d/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/tesla-prices-70-kwh-rwd-at-52500-adds-ludicrous-mode-to-p85d/#comments Sat, 18 Jul 2015 15:18:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1118985 Tesla is yet again updating its Model S range with interesting options on each end of the price scale before the release of the Tesla Model X. Elon Musk, in a blog post yesterday, announced a new single-motor version of the base model Model S 70 priced at $70,000 — or $52,500 after maximum incentives […]

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Tesla Model S In Hero Blue

Tesla is yet again updating its Model S range with interesting options on each end of the price scale before the release of the Tesla Model X.

Elon Musk, in a blog post yesterday, announced a new single-motor version of the base model Model S 70 priced at $70,000 — or $52,500 after maximum incentives available in certain states — which is $5,000 less than the all-wheel drive Model S with the same 70 kWh battery pack.

On the other end of the spectrum is a $13,000 (!!!) upgrade to the P85D, pushing Tesla Motors’ top performer to a 0-60 mph time of 2.8 seconds.

With the new Model S 70 rear-wheel drive model, the main change is the removal of the front-wheel motor, effectively turning the car into a rear-wheel drive model and reducing cost. The new option will make the Model S a more palatable option for those looking for budget luxury, especially once state and federal incentives are woven into the final price.

However, upgrades to the top-range 85 kWh models are more involved. For starters, there’s a new 90 kWh battery option for those willing to part with an extra $3,000 on top of the asking price of 85 kWh models. The new pack increases range by a mere 6 percent, extending drivable distance to almost 300 miles on a charge, says Musk.

Before you rush out to upgrade your pack, Musk offers some guidance:

“Existing owners can also purchase the pack upgrade, but I wouldn’t recommend doing so unless usage is on the edge of current range. On average, we expect to increase pack capacity by roughly 5% per year. Better to wait until you have more time on your existing pack and there is a larger accumulated pack energy difference.”

In addition to the pack upgrade, owners and buyers can now upgrade to the new Ludicrous Mode on the Model S P85D. This upgrade is quite involved, requiring a new, advanced “smart fuse” and upgraded main pack contacter. Together, the upgrades result in a 2.8 second sprint to 60 mph — an improvement of 10 percent — and a quarter-mile time of 10.9 seconds, states Musk. Car & Driver says the upgrade gives the Model S 762 horsepower.

If you are ordering a new P85D and want the Ludicrous Model update, prepare to shell out $10,000 plus another $3,000 for the required range update. Even though Musk says “the battery pack size upgrade and the pack electronics upgrade are almost entirely independent,” when ordering the Ludicrous Mode option, you must also select the new, larger battery pack. If you already own a P85D, you can upgrade to Ludicrous Mode for $5,000 (plus labor) sometime in the next six months. There was no word on pricing beyond the six-month window.

Just to add a teaser, Musk says there will be another mode added — beyond Ludicrous — in the future, but it is reserved for a second-generation Roadster in four-years time.

Musk also states Model X production will begin in two months, but we will believe it when we see it.

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Toyota Taking Reservations for Mirais in California Next Week http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/toyota-taking-reservations-mirai-california-next-week/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/toyota-taking-reservations-mirai-california-next-week/#comments Mon, 13 Jul 2015 20:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1114809 Californians itching to claim one of the first of Toyota’s hydrogen-powered Mirai can raise their hands starting next week, the automaker announced. Toyota announced today it would begin accepting reservations for the Mirai starting July 20. The sedan will cost $57,500, according to the manufacturer, and will be available only at eight California dealerships. Only […]

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Californians itching to claim one of the first of Toyota’s hydrogen-powered Mirai can raise their hands starting next week, the automaker announced.

Toyota announced today it would begin accepting reservations for the Mirai starting July 20. The sedan will cost $57,500, according to the manufacturer, and will be available only at eight California dealerships. Only California residents can buy the car.

The purchase price includes an 8-year/100,000-mile warranty on “key fuel cell vehicle components” and three years — or $15,000, whichever comes first — of fuel.

Toyota says “Power On-Demand” Mirais won’t appear until late 2016, in which the car acts like a mobile, hydrogen-powered electric generator. According to the automaker, the Mirai may be able to power electrical devices — or a home — for “a limited time.”

The Mirai is eligible for a $5,000 rebate in California.

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In Mother Russia, Electric Cars Charge You (Lots of Money to Own One) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/back-mother-russia-electric-cars-charge-potential-buyers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/back-mother-russia-electric-cars-charge-potential-buyers/#comments Wed, 08 Jul 2015 19:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1110553 Wealthy Russians are clamoring for Teslas that aren’t even available in their country, Bloomberg News is reporting. Buyers are paying up to double for the electric vehicles, the story reports, which include freight and import fees of more than $60,000 for the cars. “It doesn’t pollute nature and it’s super cheap and easy to use,” Herman Gref […]

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tesladeal

Wealthy Russians are clamoring for Teslas that aren’t even available in their country, Bloomberg News is reporting.

Buyers are paying up to double for the electric vehicles, the story reports, which include freight and import fees of more than $60,000 for the cars.

“It doesn’t pollute nature and it’s super cheap and easy to use,” Herman Gref told Bloomberg News in an e-mail.

Super cheap is relative term — even in Russian we hope.

The “iPhone on wheels,” according to one Russian buyer, has a small but devoted following, apparently.

There are only 300 registered electric cars in Russia, not including Teslas, for more than 144 million people. By contrast, there are 1,200 registered electric cars in Estonia, with a population 100 times smaller than Russia’s. So far, more than 35,000 battery-powered electric vehicles (excluding Volt) have been purchased in the U.S. this year.

According to the story, Tesla has no future plans to enter the Russian market — which is the world’s second-largest producer of oil. Electric cars in Russia are exceptionally expensive, infrastructure is severely lacking and the Russian government doesn’t offer any incentives to make the switch to electric cars. 

But Russian automaker (with an unfortunate name) Revolta Motors say they’ll introduce a Chinese-built electric car in Russia this year.

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Sales of EVs, Hybrids Slumping After Gas Prices Dip http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/sales-evs-hybrids-slumping-gas-prices-dip/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/sales-evs-hybrids-slumping-gas-prices-dip/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 16:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1105913 Sales figures from automakers this week show slumping sales of electric vehicles and hybrids nationwide as gas prices drop and tax incentives dry up. According to the Detroit News, sales from EV makers such as Nissan and Chevrolet have slowed down significantly — more than 30 percent for the Volt and 12 percent for the Leaf […]

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Atlanta Police Nissan Leaf

Sales figures from automakers this week show slumping sales of electric vehicles and hybrids nationwide as gas prices drop and tax incentives dry up.

According to the Detroit News, sales from EV makers such as Nissan and Chevrolet have slowed down significantly — more than 30 percent for the Volt and 12 percent for the Leaf — last month, and both models may end up down significantly for the sales year.

Hybrid carmakers such as Ford and Honda are also reporting slow sales for their cars. Ford reported that its hybrid sales were down 29 percent over the last five months, and Honda reported a 15-percent drop in June.

Industry analysts say the slowdown could be a result of the lowest gas prices in five years, and a adjustment of states’ EV incentives. Recently, the California Air Resources Board unveiled a tiered incentive program that would adjust rebates based on income. A study showed that more than one in four EV buyers in California earned more than $200,000 a year, but still received the full benefit during the second quarter of 2015. More than three-quarters of EV buyers made more than $99,000. Georgia will end its incentives.

None of this has slowed down automakers’ production of EVs, however.

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Used Tesla Values Could Be a Bubble Waiting to Burst http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/used-tesla-values-could-be-a-bubble-waiting-to-burst/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/used-tesla-values-could-be-a-bubble-waiting-to-burst/#comments Wed, 01 Jul 2015 17:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1104801 The National Automobile Dealers Association new electric vehicle retention list released last week has a tasty little tidbit in its roundup of value retention rates. Tesla’s Model S, which topped the 3-year value retention rate list for EVs in the new list, also sported a better value rate for most cars on a similar list released last year for all […]

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Tesla Model S Center Stage

The National Automobile Dealers Association new electric vehicle retention list released last week has a tasty little tidbit in its roundup of value retention rates.

Tesla’s Model S, which topped the 3-year value retention rate list for EVs in the new list, also sported a better value rate for most cars on a similar list released last year for all segments, including mid-size luxury cars. That includes BMW.

But the news may not be all good, all the time.

According to the most recent NADA study, Tesla’s Model S retains 57.2 percent of its original value after three years based on dealer trade-in values. That figure is tops among mid-size luxury sedans, including BMW’s 5-series, in a study conducted last year.

Also noted in the 2015 study, there is a significant cliff after three years when most EV manufacturers’ powertrain warranties expire, meaning there’s good chance that the Model S’s value plummets after that.

The 2014 study by NADA (which examined all segments – including EVs) was comprised of only the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf — the only two cars that had been on the market for three years by the time the study was conducted. The Volt and Leaf retained 41.6 percent and 38.2 percent of their values respectively, due partly to price drops from their manufacturers and increasing competition in the segment. The 2015 study had worse news for Volts and Leafs on trade-in: those values dropped to 31.3 and 25.3 percent respectively.

As Tesla prepares to release their Model X, there’s no doubt quite a few Model S owners will be looking to replace their sedans. This could trigger a market saturated with Model S’s (or is it “Models S”?) at or nearing the end of their warranty lives — and it’ll likely have legitimate competition in the near future as well, further driving down retained values.

Tesla Model X Teaser

It’s no secret that Tesla has no significant cash flow, hasn’t turned a profit for more than one fiscal quarter in five years, and probably won’t have a cash-positive year until 2020.

That all could mean the bottom falling out for Tesla Model S values soon. Or not.

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Hyundai Struggles Against Infrastructure Issues To Meet Global FCV Sales Target http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/hyundai-struggles-against-infrastructure-issues-to-meet-global-fcv-sales-target/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/hyundai-struggles-against-infrastructure-issues-to-meet-global-fcv-sales-target/#comments Wed, 17 Jun 2015 17:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1094721 Global sales of Hyundai’s Tucson Fuel Cell haven’t been able to match sales targets since the FCV’s launch in 2013, though not for a lack of trying. Hyundai says it shipped a total of 273 units of the Tucson Fuel Cell to showrooms in its home market and abroad since 2013, Yonhap News Agency reports, […]

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2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell

Global sales of Hyundai’s Tucson Fuel Cell haven’t been able to match sales targets since the FCV’s launch in 2013, though not for a lack of trying.

Hyundai says it shipped a total of 273 units of the Tucson Fuel Cell to showrooms in its home market and abroad since 2013, Yonhap News Agency reports, 69 of which were delivered in 2015 thus far. The automaker planned to move 1,000 units by the end of 2015, a goal not likely to occur at this rate.

As for why, the problem comes down to infrastructure. Hyundai Auto Canada representative Chad Heard told TTAC the Canadian subsidiary leased two Tucson Fuel Cells thus far, and received its second shipment for allocation this month.

Heard explained there were more interested consumers than actual product, but doesn’t expect for sales to hit double-digits in 2015 due to infrastructure constraints, adding the company would be able to meet demand in Canada “if there was more access to hydrogen gas.” There is only one filling station available to Tucson Fuel Cell owners, located in Surrey, British Columbia, while the United States and South Korea fare little better with 10 and 11 stations, respectively.

[Photo credit: Hyundai]

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Tesla Unveiling Home, Business Battery Products April 30 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/tesla-unveiling-home-business-battery-products-april-30/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/tesla-unveiling-home-business-battery-products-april-30/#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 18:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1050849 Tesla wants more than to be in the garages of its customers as it plans to begin offering batteries for home and business energy-storage applications soon. The automaker stated in an email to investors and analysts Tuesday it would reveal its new battery products April 30, according to Bloomberg. Investor relations boss Jeffrey Evanson said the […]

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2013 Tesla Model S Cargo areas

Tesla wants more than to be in the garages of its customers as it plans to begin offering batteries for home and business energy-storage applications soon.

The automaker stated in an email to investors and analysts Tuesday it would reveal its new battery products April 30, according to Bloomberg. Investor relations boss Jeffrey Evanson said the unveiling would explain “the advantages” of its home and business battery products and why current options aren’t as compelling as what Tesla has to offer.

Though scant details have come out about the batteries, Tesla’s plans aim to put the automaker as a leader in the emerging energy storage market. Many players in the market look to not just supplement, but ultimately surpass the traditional electric grid. The automaker and sister company SolarCity have already signed up companies like Wal-Mart and Cargill for their energy storage pilot program in California to help establish and accelerate said plans.

[Photo credit: Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars]

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Hillary Clinton Throws Support Behind Ethanol While In Iowa http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/hillary-clinton-throws-support-behind-ethanol-iowa/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/hillary-clinton-throws-support-behind-ethanol-iowa/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 14:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1046370 During a campaign tour stop in Iowa, Democrat hopeful Hillary Clinton threw her support behind corn ethanol. Autoblog reports Clinton met with a number of Democrats at a private affair in Marshalltown, Iowa Thursday, including America’s Renewable Future co-chair Patty Judge and Iowa Corn Growers board member Bruce Rohwer. Judge stated via a press release […]

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Hillary Clinton Boarding Chevrolet Scooby Van In New York

During a campaign tour stop in Iowa, Democrat hopeful Hillary Clinton threw her support behind corn ethanol.

Autoblog reports Clinton met with a number of Democrats at a private affair in Marshalltown, Iowa Thursday, including America’s Renewable Future co-chair Patty Judge and Iowa Corn Growers board member Bruce Rohwer. Judge stated via a press release that Clinton “was extremely receptive” about ethanol, and felt encouraged “by by her comments about the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).” Rohwer added that he was able to thank Clinton for her support, and believed future conversations on the topic would be “just as positive.”

Clinton has supported RFS since at least 2007, when she first made a go for the presidency, though The Daily Beast found that in a 2002 joint letter with Sens. Charles Schumer of New York, Dianne Feinstein of California and Barbara Boxer of California, then-Senator Clinton described legislation that would bring ethanol into the United States gasoline supply as being “the equivalent of a new gasoline tax” forced upon consumers; she would vote against ethanol 17 times during her time in the U.S. Senate.

Clinton’s re-enforcement of her current stance follows support of ethanol by most Republican hopefuls, as noted during a GOP candidate gathering during last month’s Iowa Ag Summit.

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Japan Hydrogen Ambitions Fall Short Of March 2016 Target http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/japan-hydrogen-ambitions-fall-short-march-2016-target/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/japan-hydrogen-ambitions-fall-short-march-2016-target/#comments Thu, 16 Apr 2015 13:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1045250 Japan’s ambition to have 100 hydrogen fueling stations by next March may fall short of reality now that the deadline to apply for subsidies has passed. Reuters reports only 76 such stations were approved for subsidies by the government, which had set aside ¥21.4 billion ($178.4 billion USD) over three years for the sole purpose […]

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Eneos Gas Station With Hydrogen Pumps

Japan’s ambition to have 100 hydrogen fueling stations by next March may fall short of reality now that the deadline to apply for subsidies has passed.

Reuters reports only 76 such stations were approved for subsidies by the government, which had set aside ¥21.4 billion ($178.4 billion USD) over three years for the sole purpose of helping would-be hydrogen-station operators build them; each station costs $5 million to build, with the government pitching in $2.5 million in aid.

Though a representative for the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry stated the government is considering increasing the amount given to encourage more infrastructure development, energy companies are asking for proof that building the stations are worth the investment in the first place. In turn, consumers may find the lack of said stations off-putting as far as considering an FCV like Toyota’s Mirai goes, while FCVs themselves need government incentives to attract said consumers.

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Virginia Tech Transforms Corn Stover Into Hydrogen http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/virginia-tech-transforms-corn-stover-hydrogen/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/virginia-tech-transforms-corn-stover-hydrogen/#comments Tue, 14 Apr 2015 12:00:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1043722 Just as corn kernels have found their way into gas tanks, corn stover could soon end up in fuel cells. A team of Virginia Tech researchers used previous research by Professor Percival Zhang and his team into xylose to turn corn stover — husks, stalks and cobs — into hydrogen through a genetic algorithm model […]

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Corn Harvesting

Just as corn kernels have found their way into gas tanks, corn stover could soon end up in fuel cells.

A team of Virginia Tech researchers used previous research by Professor Percival Zhang and his team into xylose to turn corn stover — husks, stalks and cobs — into hydrogen through a genetic algorithm model to increase both enzymatic generation and breakdown rates by a factor of 10 and three, respectively.

The result is a reduction in both time, capital costs and facility size as far as hydrogen production goes. Lead author Joe Rollin — a former student of Zhang’s, who is also a co-founder with Rollin on a biofuel startup — says the new process can be carried out in a facility the size of a standard gas station, lowering one of the hurdles for widespread hydrogen production and distribution:

We believe this exciting technology has the potential to enable the widespread use of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles around the world and displace fossil fuels.

The project was partially funded by Shell’s GameChanger initiative, as well as the National Science Foundation’s Small Business Technology Transfer program, and was carried out by Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

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Gov. Scott Walker’s Changing Ethanol Stance Sign Of Greater Issue For GOP Hopeful http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/gov-scott-walkers-changing-ethanol-stance-sign-greater-issue-gop-hopeful/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/gov-scott-walkers-changing-ethanol-stance-sign-greater-issue-gop-hopeful/#comments Wed, 18 Mar 2015 12:00:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1024265 Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s flip-flop on the issue of ethanol may be just the tip of an iceberg that could affect his chances for the 2016 GOP hopeful. Autoblog reports several memos linked to the still-unofficial campaigns of the other GOP presidential candidates have noted Walker’s shifts on positions on issues like ethanol, immigration et al. […]

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Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s flip-flop on the issue of ethanol may be just the tip of an iceberg that could affect his chances for the 2016 GOP hopeful.

Autoblog reports several memos linked to the still-unofficial campaigns of the other GOP presidential candidates have noted Walker’s shifts on positions on issues like ethanol, immigration et al. The broad pattern of flip-flopping, as well as his status as an unknown among his state’s voters, means he’ll have a hard go at convincing Republicans that he is their candidate for President of the United States.

On the issue of ethanol, he once denounced the mandate of adding the corn-based variant into gasoline in his 2006 gubernatorial campaign, citing the harm such mandates would impose on “Wisconsin’s working families.” While his team says he still supports that stance, Walker was among those at the 2015 Iowa Ag Summit in Des Moines, Iowa to support the federal renewable fuel standard that allows corn ethanol to be added into gasoline.

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Republican Presidential Hopefuls Discuss Ethanol In Iowa http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/republican-presidential-hopefuls-discuss-ethanol-iowa/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/republican-presidential-hopefuls-discuss-ethanol-iowa/#comments Wed, 11 Mar 2015 12:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1020145 A handful of Republican presidential hopefuls converged upon Iowa last weekend to discuss the pros and cons of ethanol. Autoblog reports U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, former governors Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Jeb Bush of Florida, and Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Scott Walker of Wisconsin debated ethanol and the federal […]

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A handful of Republican presidential hopefuls converged upon Iowa last weekend to discuss the pros and cons of ethanol.

Autoblog reports U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, former governors Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Jeb Bush of Florida, and Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Scott Walker of Wisconsin debated ethanol and the federal standards linked to them at the 2015 Iowa Ag Summit in Des Moines.

While most of the hopefuls supported keeping the standards as they are or increasing them, Cruz was the only one to reject the notion, comparing the program to “corporate welfare.” He added that private businesses could continue to successfully compete in the marketplace “without going on bended knee to the government.”

Cruz’s remarks follow a recommendation by the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce a proposed increase in corn-based ethanol use in gasoline, stating that the biofuel can only go so far when blended with petroleum-based fuels. Meanwhile, both sides of the aisle object to the reduction, citing the economic damage that would hit Iowa — the largest producer of said ethanol in the United States — if the reduction were to go forward.

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Feinstein-Toomey Bill Seeks To Push Other Biofuels Over Corn Ethanol http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/feinstein-toomey-bill-seeks-push-biofuels-corn-ethanol/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/feinstein-toomey-bill-seeks-push-biofuels-corn-ethanol/#comments Mon, 09 Mar 2015 12:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1017954 With one attempt shot down thus far, two U.S. senators are issuing a standalone bill to reduce the use of corn-based ethanol at the pump. According to Hemmings Daily, the Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act of 2015 introduced by Dianne Feinstein of California and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania would call for a modification of the […]

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E10 + 100 Percent Gasoline at the Pump

With one attempt shot down thus far, two U.S. senators are issuing a standalone bill to reduce the use of corn-based ethanol at the pump.

According to Hemmings Daily, the Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act of 2015 introduced by Dianne Feinstein of California and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania would call for a modification of the Renewable Fuel Standard that would push other biofuels, such as biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol, over corn-based ethanol. Feinstein explains:

Our infrastructure has a ceiling for the amount of corn ethanol that can be used, and we’re rapidly approaching it. Companies are physically unable to blend more corn ethanol into gasoline without causing problems for many gas stations and older automobiles.

The Feinstein/Toomey bill joins four others seeking similar action, including three in Pennsylvania, Oregon and Hawaii that would seek to eliminate the mandate of E10 sales altogether.

Meanwhile, ethanol supporters like the Renewable Fuel Association, the National Corn Growers Association and the Advanced Ethanol Council oppose the bill as an assault on the RFS, and call upon the Environmental Protection Agency to increase ethanol use further, despite the EPA’s acknowledgment regarding the limits to blending ethanol with gasoline.

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Automakers Continue Support Of Electric Vehicles Despite Weak Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/automakers-continue-support-electric-vehicles-despite-weak-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/automakers-continue-support-electric-vehicles-despite-weak-sales/#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 11:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1015890 Though sales of electric vehicles are still weak, automakers are not giving up on them over the long term. Reporting from the floor of the 2015 Geneva Auto Show, Autoblog says that technology is important to help automakers meet ever-stringent emissions standards, especially those in China, where heavy air pollution limits how many cars are […]

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2015 BMW i3

Though sales of electric vehicles are still weak, automakers are not giving up on them over the long term.

Reporting from the floor of the 2015 Geneva Auto Show, Autoblog says that technology is important to help automakers meet ever-stringent emissions standards, especially those in China, where heavy air pollution limits how many cars are registered annually. BMW AG CEO Norbert Reithofer said as much when stating that his company cannot leave EVs like the i3 behind, proclaiming such vehicles would be in demand in the future.

Daimler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche says hybrids were “truly attractive cars that represent the best of both worlds” as his and other companies cross the bridge toward a zero-emission future. However, Zetsche adds that the battery technology needed to get to the other side — long-lasting battery packs — are at least five years away.

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US Ethanol Exports Reach Near-Record Levels In 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/us-ethanol-exports-reach-near-record-levels-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/us-ethanol-exports-reach-near-record-levels-2014/#comments Mon, 09 Feb 2015 14:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=994874 Of the 14.3 billion gallons of ethanol produced in the United States in 2014, a near-record 836 gallons were exported. Per a report by the Renewable Fuel Association, those exported gallons went to 51 countries around the world, with the top five importers being Canada, Brazil, United Arab Emirates, Philippines and India. The amount of […]

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2008 Chevrolet Corvette E85 Indy 500 Pace Car Concept

Of the 14.3 billion gallons of ethanol produced in the United States in 2014, a near-record 836 gallons were exported.

Per a report by the Renewable Fuel Association, those exported gallons went to 51 countries around the world, with the top five importers being Canada, Brazil, United Arab Emirates, Philippines and India. The amount of U.S.-made ethanol exported in 2014 comes second to the amount in 2011, when 1.2 billion gallons were sent abroad.

While most export markets continue to flourish, producers saw a continued reduction of exports to the European Union in 2013 and 2014, the result of tariffs against U.S. ethanol.

On the other side, ethanol imports into the U.S. market fell 79 percent in 2014 from 400 million gallons to just 84 million. The figure is the second-lowest on record, behind the 18 million gallons imported in 2010. The majority of the imported ethanol was Brazil, which sent 60.8 million gallons to the U.S. last year, down 83 percent from 2013’s shipment of 348.2 million.

The industry group hopes to add more markets for U.S. ethanol in 2015, having gone on trade missions in Panama, China, Peru, Japan and South Korea in 2014 to help encourage importation, and vowing to “keep at it until all countries understand the value of U.S produced ethanol.”

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Toyota Marketing Mirai With $8K Hydrogen Credit Despite Expiration http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-marketing-mirai-8k-hydrogen-credit-despite-expiration/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-marketing-mirai-8k-hydrogen-credit-despite-expiration/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 14:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989970 Despite the recent expiration of the $8,000 federal credit for hydrogen vehicles, Toyota is still marketing its Mirai as if it never happened. Autoblog reports that Toyota is well-aware of the expiration, and is calling upon both houses of Congress to reinstate the credit. Were that to occur, the $57,500 MSRP on the Mirai would […]

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Despite the recent expiration of the $8,000 federal credit for hydrogen vehicles, Toyota is still marketing its Mirai as if it never happened.

Autoblog reports that Toyota is well-aware of the expiration, and is calling upon both houses of Congress to reinstate the credit. Were that to occur, the $57,500 MSRP on the Mirai would fall to $49,500. Other state and local credits would drop the price further, as well; California customers would pay just $44,500 for their FCVs, for example.

The problem, per the automaker’s energy and regulatory affairs director Robert Wimmer, is predicting where the tax process would go:

The two challenges we have now are that both houses of Congress are Republican and also that there has been talk for a while about comprehensive tax reform. If that moves forward, then extenders would probably be put on the back burner as comprehensive tax reform is discussed.

Even if the credit was reinstated, it may only last as long as year or two instead of the three years Toyota wants for the first-gen Mirai. The automaker has been lobbying Congress to act, though Wimmer could not say to what extent.

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Carter To Musk: Hydrogen Just One Basket For Toyota’s Eggs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/carter-musk-hydrogen-just-one-basket-toyotas-eggs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/carter-musk-hydrogen-just-one-basket-toyotas-eggs/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 13:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989546 Remember when Tesla CEO Elon Musk declared that Toyota was a fool to invest in hydrogen? Twice? Toyota had a few words to say in return last week. Ecomento reports Toyota Senior Vice President of Automotive Operations Bob Carter took Musk to task regarding comments made during the latter’s annual Tesla shareholders meeting last June, […]

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2016 Toyota Mirai

Remember when Tesla CEO Elon Musk declared that Toyota was a fool to invest in hydrogen? Twice? Toyota had a few words to say in return last week.

Ecomento reports Toyota Senior Vice President of Automotive Operations Bob Carter took Musk to task regarding comments made during the latter’s annual Tesla shareholders meeting last June, as well as those made earlier this month at the Automotive News World Congress, when Musk suggested methane or propane as a better energy storage mechanism while declaring hydrogen “an incredibly dumb one to pick”:

I’m a little disappointed in Mr. Musk’s comments in Detroit last week. But I understand. If I was in a position that I had all of my eggs in one basket I would perhaps be making those same comments. When you take a look at the future, [FCVs are] not a 24- to 36-month play. When you start looking in the 2020s, anybody that would deny [the potential of] moving from an oil-based economy to a hydrogen-based economy [isn’t] looking at the future correctly.

Carter’s response, made last week during the J.D. Power Automotive Summit in San Francisco, come on the heels of Toyota’s unexpected response to its Mirai FCV. Though not due in U.S. showrooms until later this year, the automaker received over 16,000 requests for information on the car. Meanwhile, the FCV has 1,500 confirmed pre-orders in its home market of Japan, with Toyota likely to boost production as interest in the Mirai grows.

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Toyota Receives Over 1,500 Orders For Mirai FCV In Home Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-receives-1500-orders-mirai-fcv-home-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-receives-1500-orders-mirai-fcv-home-market/#comments Fri, 16 Jan 2015 13:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=984281 One month after Toyota began sales of its Mirai FCV in Japan, around 1,500 have been ordered thus far, well over the 400 the automaker thought it would sell for the entirety of 2015. Carscoops reports the 1,500 orders are split 60/40 in favor of government and corporate fleets. The overall majority of the orders […]

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2016-toyota-mirai-6-1

One month after Toyota began sales of its Mirai FCV in Japan, around 1,500 have been ordered thus far, well over the 400 the automaker thought it would sell for the entirety of 2015.

Carscoops reports the 1,500 orders are split 60/40 in favor of government and corporate fleets. The overall majority of the orders come from four locations in the country: Tokyo, Kanagawa Prefecture, Aichi Prefecture and Fukuoka Prefecture. Due to its popularity, however, Toyota said it may take a while to fulfill those orders.

The Mirai is expected in the United States beginning later this year, and will sell for $57,500 before federal and state tax credits. A 36-month lease will also be available, with $3,649 due at signing, and $499 per month thereafter.

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NAIAS 2015: Honda Debuts FCV Concept In North America http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-honda-debuts-fcv-concept-north-america/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-honda-debuts-fcv-concept-north-america/#comments Tue, 13 Jan 2015 16:30:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=980441 After making its global debut in Tokyo last year, the Honda FCV Concept bowed in Detroit for its North American unveiling. Power for the concept comes from a fuel-cell stack yielding over 100 kW of output, with density at 3.1 kW/L. The result is a 60 percent improvement in power over the previous FCX Clarity’s […]

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Honda-FCV-Concept-01

After making its global debut in Tokyo last year, the Honda FCV Concept bowed in Detroit for its North American unveiling.

Power for the concept comes from a fuel-cell stack yielding over 100 kW of output, with density at 3.1 kW/L. The result is a 60 percent improvement in power over the previous FCX Clarity’s stack; the FCV Concept’s stack is 33 percent smaller than the former’s powerplant, as well.

Driving range is expected to be north of 300 miles per tank, with refueling to take between three to five minutes at a pressure rate of 70 MPa.

The entire stack sits under the hood when compared to the Clarity’s fuel-storage tunnel. As a result, the Concept can seat five instead of four occupants.

Sales of the production-ready FCV will begin March 2016 in Honda’s home market, with the United States and Europe receiving theirs sometime thereafter.

Honda-FCV-Concept-01 Honda-FCV-Concept-03 Honda-FCV-Concept-05 Honda-FCV-Concept-07 Honda-FCV-Concept-08 Honda-FCV-Concept-11 Honda-FCV-Concept-13 Honda-FCV-Concept-14 Honda-FCV-Concept-15 Honda-FCV-Concept-16 Honda-FCV-Concept-18 Honda-FCV-Concept-19 Honda-FCV-Concept-20

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Detroit Electric Reveals Production Exterior, Interior & Signs Asia Distributor http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/detroit-electric-reveals-production-exterior-interior-signs-asia-distributor/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/detroit-electric-reveals-production-exterior-interior-signs-asia-distributor/#comments Tue, 06 Jan 2015 20:26:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=972394 Detroit Electric, the startup company that hopes to revive the early motoring age’s most successful brand of electric cars, has revealed the final design details and specifications of its Lotus based SP:01 battery powered sports car, which it says will start production in the UK early this year. Preproduction prototypes are being tested at the […]

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Detroit Electric SP01 exterior

Detroit Electric, the startup company that hopes to revive the early motoring age’s most successful brand of electric cars, has revealed the final design details and specifications of its Lotus based SP:01 battery powered sports car, which it says will start production in the UK early this year. Preproduction prototypes are being tested at the Leamington Spa assembly facility. Detroit Electric also announced the appointment of its first distributor in Asia.

The company claims that the carbon fiber bodied 210 KW (285 HP) SP:01 will be “the world’s fastest pure-electric production two-seater sports car”. Since the Tesla Roadster is no longer in production I’m not sure that Detroit Electric even has a competitor for that fictional title belt. Either way, the company is claiming performance stats of 0-60 MPH in 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 155 MPH.

Three transmission choices will be offered, a manual gearbox and two automatics, one with two ratios and one with just a single speed. I’m interested to see why they describe that single ratio transmission as an “automatic”, since an electric motor theoretically doesn’t need a clutch or a torque converter as it doesn’t spin at idle.

Detroit Electric SP01 on the road

Exterior changes made since the second prototype was shown at the Shanghai Motor Show in 2013 are said to be for aerodynamic reasons and include a new rear profile with a fastback roof line and rear window that replace the flying buttresses of the first two prototypes. A new rear wing on top as well as a functional diffuser underneath the rear end that are intended to reduce lift at speed. Paint options and carbon fiber accessory parts were also announced as was a custom paint program for folks who insist on lime green cars. Customers will also have the choice of three different wheel designs, original to Detroit Electric.

Detroit Electric SP01 interior - Left hand drive

The centerpiece of the new interior design is an 8.4 inch touch screen in the console that the company says replaces all analog dials and switches on the instrument panel (though the photos seem to indicate conventional speedometer and tachometer dials in the binnacle in front of the driver). Infotainment, HVAC controls, battery status indicators, and V2X (Vehicle-to-Grid and Vehicle-to-Home) communication will be handled by Detroit Electric’s Android based SAMI (Smartphone Application Managed Infotainment) app. By using an open source platform, the company hopes that third party application developers will create new features for the SP:01. Interior color options were also announced, including the choice of leather or Alcantara upholstery. Based on the publicity photos, the SP:01’s cabin will be much less spartan than that of the Lotus cars on which it is based.

Detroit Electric SP01 interior - Right hand drive

On the business side of things, Integrated Energy, a Korean firm, has been announced as Detroit Electric’s first importer/distributor in Asia. Detroit Electric’s first Asian showroom will open in Seoul, South Korea, also in early 2015. Integrated Energy will also be be working on developing Detroit Electric’s V2X technology at a test site on Korea’s Jeju Island, using a fleet supplied by the startup automaker.

Detroit Electric is still run from their offices in Detroit’s Fisher Building and they say they still hope to one day assemble Detroit Electrics in the cars’ namesake region, but in the meantime they say they are completing the new, dedicated assembly facility in the UK as well as a new European headquarters in Houten, Netherlands that will hand sales, marketing and customer service in the EMEA region.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Toyota Grants Royalty-Free Use Of Over 5K Hydrogen Patents http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-grants-royalty-free-use-5k-hydrogen-patents/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-grants-royalty-free-use-5k-hydrogen-patents/#comments Tue, 06 Jan 2015 11:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=972018 Last year, Tesla granted every one of its competitors full access to its myriad of patents, in the hope they would, in turn, build more EVs. This year? Toyota is doing the same with its hydrogen fuel-cell patents to help spur on further FCV development. The automaker made the announcement Monday during the 2015 Consumer […]

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2016-toyota-mirai-10-1

Last year, Tesla granted every one of its competitors full access to its myriad of patents, in the hope they would, in turn, build more EVs.

This year? Toyota is doing the same with its hydrogen fuel-cell patents to help spur on further FCV development.

The automaker made the announcement Monday during the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where those interested in building their own Mirai can do so with information gathered from the 5,600-plus patents linked to the FCV. Said patents include “approximately 1,970 patents related to fuel cell stacks, 290 associated with high-pressure hydrogen tanks, 3,350 related to fuel cell system software control and 70 patents related to hydrogen production and supply.”

There is a catch for this access, of course: Royalty-free use of Toyota’s patents related to FCVs will last until the end of “the initial market introduction period,” set to end in 2020. Those who are more interested in building the infrastructure for those FCVs, however, will have unlimited access indefinitely. Toyota also asks that any patents developed from those by the former be shared with the automaker, but does not require any party do so.

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Toyota Planning Lexus FCEV For 2017 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/toyota-planning-lexus-fcev-2017/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/toyota-planning-lexus-fcev-2017/#comments Fri, 26 Dec 2014 12:00:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=968066 Love the idea of hydrogen, but can’t fathom paying nearly $60,000 for a Toyota? What if it were a Lexus? Motoring.com.au reports Toyota is planning on a Lexus LS FCEV for 2017, positioned above the LS 600h L hybrid. Unlike the Mirai, which was intentionally built to be an FCEV, the LS will be retrofitted […]

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Toyota Mirai in White

Love the idea of hydrogen, but can’t fathom paying nearly $60,000 for a Toyota? What if it were a Lexus?

Motoring.com.au reports Toyota is planning on a Lexus LS FCEV for 2017, positioned above the LS 600h L hybrid. Unlike the Mirai, which was intentionally built to be an FCEV, the LS will be retrofitted with the former’s Toyota Fuel Cell System.

Per a source close to the matter, redesigned, larger air intakes will grace the LS’ face for ventilation of the electric components, while the fuel cell unit and a pair of hydrogen tanks will be placed under the front seat, rear seat and rear parcel shelf, respectively.

For power, a 150 kW fuel-cell stack will be combined with a 220 kW electric motor to help move the 2100 kg (4,630 lbs) sedan forward over a range of 298 miles. Refueling is expected to take around five minutes.

As for price, the LS 600h L goes for $120,000 USD; figure on the LS FCEV to be just as much before the usual subsidies.

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