By on August 8, 2014

gas-pump-save-ftr

Though peak oil usually refers to when production reaches the highest point it’ll ever see before coasting back down to the same level once experienced in the 1800s, a new report reveals a different oil peak will come in the next few years: the total product consumed worldwide.

(Read More…)

By on April 15, 2014

South_Point_Wind_Farm

The U.S. Department of Energy unveiled last week a four-year plan that would advance the goal of energy security by building upon as many alternative sources as possible, further reducing dependence on imported petroleum.

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By on January 23, 2014

Speaking at the Washington (D.C.) Auto Show, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said on Wednesday that part of reviving the dormant Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan program may involve making suppliers as well as automakers eligible for the more than $15 billion allocated for the ATVM program that was never loaned out. The program stalled 2011 after the high profile failures of two loan recipients, Fisker Automotive and Vehicle Production Group. Of the other three recipients of ATVM loans, Tesla repaid its loan early and Ford and Nissan continue to pay down their debts on schedule. (Read More…)

By on February 25, 2013

Micro-supercapacitor-prv UCLA Photo

Energy density isn’t the only reason why battery-powered cars have never caught on. As was highlighted in Tesla’s somewhat less than successful media road trip, the amount of time it takes to fill batteries with electrons can be as significant a factor in the practicality of EVs as the amount of electrons those batteries can hold.

(Read More…)

By on June 28, 2011

Smell that? It’s the gathering scent of a new industry trend towards natural gas. Honda’s expanded its pioneering Civic GX to 50 states, Sergio Marchionne wants to replicate his Italian CNG success at Chrysler (eventually), and now GM is jumping on the bandwagon while it’s still relatively uncrowded. The Winnepeg Free Press reports that GM has signed a development deal with Vancouver, B.C.-based Westport Innovations which could see a prototype light-duty natural gas-powered engine completed “within 18 months” if preliminary study proves promising. A Westport spokesman boasts

If both parties agree to move ahead with commercialization this would be one of the first pure OEM [natural gas-powered] products

You know, except the Civic GX which has been prowling American streets since 1998. Still, with Chrysler targeting CNG commercialization no earlier than 2017, GM could have a strong head-start on a fuel technology that promises to be a viable and promising gasoline alternative, especially if the NatGas Bill [PDF] passes, expanding $7,500 plug-in tax credits to natural gas vehicles. And GM’s got a strong partner in Westport, which has heavy-duty commercial deals with Cummins and Caterpillar. With Nissan all-in on EVs and years ahead of the competition in terms of global EV production capacity, look for other competitors to hedge their alt-energy bets… and natural gas is rapidly becoming the most popular alternative.

By on April 13, 2011

There’s been a recent groundswell of interest in natural gas as a fuel for cars in recent months, marked by Honda’s decision to sell a natural gas-powered 2012 Civic in 50 states, Edmunds CEO Jeremy Anwyl’s public paean to the fuel, and the EPA’s relaxation of natural gas conversion regulations. Honda alt-fuel manager Eric Rosenberg enthuses to WardsAuto

We’re the Saudi Arabia of natural gas… Demand [for the Civic GX] has tripled, and that’s actual retail demand. Traditionally, fleet has been about 50% to 55% of demand, but now it’s dropped; now 80% of demand is retail.

And since Chrysler’s new guardian, Fiat, has plenty of (well-subsidized) natural gas experience in Italy, it’s no surprise that Chrysler’s looking to get in on the action (Chrysler’s own experience with the stuff was brief). In fact, just last year Fiat-Chrysler was pushing the idea of natural gas cars as a stopgap until its first EV (the 500) arrives in 2012. Now, presumably because the desired government help wasn’t forthcoming, Bloomberg reports that Chrysler is only promising gassy goodness “by 2017.” Now there’s an interesting way to jump on a bandwagon.

By on April 6, 2011

The NYT reports:

The Environmental Protection Agency has revised its alternative-fuel conversion regulations for light and heavy-duty vehicles, making it easier for manufacturers to sell conversions that are compliant with clean-air laws. The 186-page ruling provides an exemption from a Clean Air Act prohibition against tampering when converting an engine to run on alternative fuel.

In the past, a manufacturer of alternative-fuel conversion systems was required to certify its products in the same manner that a vehicle manufacturer certified its vehicles — an expensive and difficult process. The new regulations provide a way to comply with clean-air standards through streamlined testing.

In essence, the rule change creates a graded compliance structure, depending on the age of the converted vehicle, making it easier to retrofit older vehicles. Read all about it at the EPA’s website.

By on April 2, 2011

One of the toughest challenges facing industry analysts right now involves determining what the market for electric vehicles actually looks like, what kind of volumes it will support and for how long. It’s a problem that I’ve hashed over at length with an old college buddy who now works at a cleantech investment firm, and let me be the first to say that it’s not an easy problem to pick apart. The number of unknown quantities and moving parts explains why opinions among money managers can vary so wildly even about relatively marginal firms like Tesla.

Luckily, Thilo Koslowski of Gartner Research [and celebrated coiner of the term "the trough of disappointment"] has dedicated himself more thoroughly to the problem, and has some startling findings to report. For example, despite the relentless pro-EV hype present in all levels of the media, Koslowski’s research shows that more consumers are actually considering buying a natural gas-powered vehicle. Looks like Edmunds’ Jeremy Anwyl was on to something when he called for an end to EV tax credits in favor of greater support for natural gas cars.

(Read More…)

By on December 1, 2010


According to Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, the Warlord of Vatican City, His Holiness “would certainly prefer an electric popemobile to a traditional, petroleum-powered one.” I suggest the 1976 Sebring-Vanguard Citicar! (Read More…)

By on June 30, 2010

Today, natural gas is a rational alternative to gasoline that can provide a near-term environmental solution on the road to vehicle electrification. It is the most effective solution, in terms of costs and timing, to lessen this country’s reliance on oil

Chrysler/Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne tells the Detroit News that despite not having an electric vehicles in the works until 2012 (can you believe ENVI was just vapor), Chrysler can sell environmentally-friendly vehicles sooner than that. After all, Fiat sells a grip of natural gas-powered vehicles in Europe (130,000 last year), offering the alt-energy drivetrain on nearly every model. Of course, there’s a hitch. Or three.

(Read More…)

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