"The Hybrid, Fuel, and Vehicle Report"
ISSN 1946-1011 The Hybrid Vehicle and Alternative Fuel Report March 15, 2010 The fine print: This report is a summary of articles appearing in popular, business, and technical media referring to the impact of fuel costs and fuel efficiency on vehicle technology, development, and markets appearing during the first two weeks of March, 2010. At the end of the report is a list of all articles summarized, with hyperlinks to internet sources where available. Some hyperlinks may require free registration or paid subscriptions to access. The Hybrid Report is not responsible for hyperlinks that do not work or are no longer active. All hyperlinks worked when created, however, many news outlets archive or move reports soon after publication. The appearance of articles, products, opinions, humor (such as it is), and links in this summary does not constitute an endorsement of the same by the Washington State Department of Transportation. Photos and other artwork included in The Report are either included with permission or are in the public domain. The Hybrid Vehicle and Alternative Fuel Report (ISSN: 1946-1011) is compiled by Thomas L. R. Smith, Ph. D., Economic Analysis Branch, Budget and Financial Analysis Office, Washington State Department of Transportation. Contact the editor by email at email@example.com or by telephone at (360) 705-7941. Contributions of articles and positive comments about The Report are welcome. TABLE OF CONTENTS HYBRIDS ........................................................................................................................................................................ 1 ALTERNATIVE FUELS ............................................................................................................................................... 2 ASSORTED TECHNOLOGY ....................................................................................................................................... 3 SUBSCRIBING TO THE HYBRID REPORT. ........................................................................................................... 5 ARTICLES REFERENCED.......................................................................................................................................... 5 The Hybrid Report celebrates its fifth anniversary on March 30, 2010. In honor of that event, we will have a special Hybrid Report birthday cake. If you are a subscriber to The Report, watch your inbox; you should be receiving an invitation soon. Come by the Mount Rainier Conference Room in the Washington State Department of Transportation Headquarters Building in Olympia at 1:30 to have cake. HYBRIDS National hybrid sales update for February 2010. Hybrid sales for February 2010 were down from January 2010 sales by 3.7%, while sales for conventional vehicles were up by 11.1% Brad Berman (2010) reports from his website at hybridCars.com. Even though February sales were down, February 2010 was much better than February 2009. Hybrids are up 7.1% over last year, while conventional autos are up 9.8%. Mr. Berman says that most of these statistics are driven by the difficulties faced by Toyota’s recall problems. Since half of hybrid sales are Prii, as goes Prius, so goes the hybrid car market. Some manufacturers did make gains at Toyota’s expense. Honda’s Insight increased by 54.1% and the Ford Fusion hybrid increased by 13.2%. But Toyota’s Camry hybrid also saw a 16.6% increase in sales from January to February. At The Hybrid Report, we frequently find ourselves baffled by the things we read. Recently, the Manila (Philippines) Bulletin (2010) reported that Honda was introducing the “world’s first hybrid Sport Utility Vehicle.” The article went on to say that Honda would begin selling the CR-Z hybrid in Japan in February, and would begin selling the car in Europe and North America this summer. We are confused. Toyota already sells a Highlander hybrid and Lexus SUV hybrids. Ford has both the Escape and Mercury Mariner in hybrid form. Then there are GM’s Tahoe and Escalade. You can see Brad 1 The Hybrid Vehicle and Alternative Fuel Report ISSN 1946-1011 March 15, 2010 2 Berman’s list of over 30 hybrid SUVs at hybridCars.com. So, unless someone changed the definition of SUV while I wasn’t looking, Honda is late to the dance. Well, after the rant above, we’ve discovered that there is a slight translation problem between the Manila Bulletin and ourselves. The New York Times clarifies that the Honda CR-Z is a “Sports Car,” not a Sports Utility Vehicle. The vehicle is a two- seater and the name, CR-Z, is a reference to one of Honda’s earlier sports cars, the CRX (Chang, 2010). Hybrid Report reader Karin Landsberg of WSDOT’s Northwest Region Environmental Services provided us with a very interesting article from The Transportation Research Record about potential plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) owners’ interest in plug-ins and possible market behavior. After surveying over 2,000 households in the new-car market, the authors of the study from University of California, Davis’s (UC, Davis) Institute of Transportation Studies came up with three conclusions: 1) half of the potential market for PHEVs are already capable of recharging them in their own homes, but lack sufficient charging locations at work or away from home; 2) potential PHEV owners are most interested in fuel economy and least interested in faster recharging or all-electric operation; and 3) “about a third of the target population has both the infrastructure to recharge a PHEV and interest in a vehicle with plug-in capabilities” (Axsen & Kurani, 2009). A related study, also coming out of UC, Davis asked drivers of the new BMW MiniE about their driving experience, MSNBC (Carney, 2010) relates. Owners of the 80 to 100 mile range electric Minis thought that distance to be sufficient for their needs. The study’s author says that this means that these drivers can get sufficient charging at home and the creation of charging infrastructure in public places is “less of a deterrent to electric car acceptance than was expected.” Our take on that is to offer an alternative hypothesis. This study surveyed early adopters—people willing to take risks on new technology. It could be risky to generalize the opinions of these drivers to the rest of the driving public. ALTERNATIVE FUELS The San Francisco division of US Foodservice is the only food distributor in California that runs its entire fleet on biodiesel, Refrigerated Transporter (2010) says. The company is fueling its food fleet with 5% biodiesel made from “vegetable oils, animal fats, or recycled restaurant greases.” While US Foodservice expects to pay about two cents per gallon more for biodiesel than it would for regular diesel, the company believes that its lowered carbon emissions are equivalent to “taking 65 cars off the road or planting more than 3,000 trees every year.” The Hybrid Vehicle and Alternative Fuel Report ISSN 1946-1011 March 15, 2010 3 New Hampshire’s Foster’s Daily Democrat (Cunningham, 2010) asks “Which comes first, hydrogen fuel, or cars that need it?” After the quoted headline, the Daily Democrat says building a hydrogen fuel infrastructure for hydrogen cars is “a chicken-or- egg” scenario. 1 The article goes on to describe a Connecticut firm’s proposal to develop the “hydrogen highway” on I-95 from Florida to Maine. The company plans to develop and build up to 15 hydrogen stations per year. Engineers at Purdue have made an important breakthrough in developing those hydrogen fueling stations, Indiana’s Boiler Station reports (Weddle, 2010), and that’s the vehicle storage system, itself. One issue with fuel hydrogen cars, the article says, is that the fueling process creates a great deal of heat. The Purdue engineers have developed a way to cool the hydrogen during fueling, which allows the vehicle to fuel faster, store more hydrogen, and do it more safely. ASSORTED TECHNOLOGY Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr made the oft quoted statement, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” 2 In keeping with that idea, Bernie Wagenblast’s Transportation Communications Newsletter reminds us that on February 25, 1910, Thomas Edison demonstrated and battery-powered trolley on the streets of New York City. You can see the New York Times coverage of the event here. While Edison and his engineers proclaimed the test a success and that electric trolleys would become standard, it was panned by railroad engineers and proponents of other power sources. Even with all the interest given to electric vehicles, it appears that sales of electric cars, where they are available, are struggling. The Oakland Tribune reports that many electric car dealerships are closing. The article cites a number of reasons for low sales: the economy and relatively low gas prices are two. A third is “the cars’ own limitations” (Mara, 2010). According to the Tribune, many dealerships closed, while others changed product lines to electric bikes and electric off-road vehicles. One company, ELV Motors, sells bikes to the public but cars to fleet buyers. The limitations discussed in the article is the fact that most electric cars available for sale are “neighborhood electric vehicles” which are low speed and short-ranged. The article also says that when companies like Nissan and GM begin selling the highway speed electric cars, the electric car businesses 1 At The Hybrid Report, we really like to run these “chicken-or-egg” stories because it gives us the opportunity to mention that long ago, agricultural economists Walter N. Thurman and Mark E. Fisher concluded the egg came first by using Granger causality tests (Thurman, W. N. and Fisher, M. E., “Chickens, Eggs, and Causality, or Which Came First?” American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Vol. 70, No.2 (May 1988), pp. 237-2238. You can’t wear out that little gem. 2 It is most likely that Monsieur Karr said “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” which can literally be translated, “the more it changes, the more it’s the same thing.” But who knows, he said it over 100 years ago and in French. My last French class was in 1974. The Hybrid Vehicle and Alternative Fuel Report ISSN 1946-1011 March 15, 2010 4 in existence now will most likely begin selling to companies with large campuses, where the low-speed vehicles make sense. Electric Transportation Engineering Company (eTec) was given a US Department of Energy grant to begin creating electric vehicle charging infrastructure, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Gutierrez, 2010) says. The company is also working with Nissan and several State and local governments (including Seattle) to figure out where charging stations need to go. As part of the Energy Department grant, buyers of the Nissan Leaf can sign up for a study run by the Idaho National Laboratory, which will study charging and driving behavior. Study participants will also get free home charging stations installed. The home charging station brings us to the latest from KB Home. If you’re in the market for a new home and a new electric car, this home builder offers to wire new homes for electric car charging, for just $250, The Wall Street Journal blogged (Wotapka, 2010). While KB Home is the first builder to offer the option, the National Association of Home Builders believes others will follow suit. Clifford Krauss (2010) of The New York Times chronicles the developments in the lithium mining industry, an industry which has taken off because of the interest in producing lighter, longer-lasting batteries for electric and hybrid cars. The interest in the metal has stirred mineral exploration in Australia, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Canada, Serbia, Finland, China, and the United States. There are national security issues related to lithium mining as well. Mr. Krauss writes that while “the biggest producer [of lithium], Chile, is a dependable American ally,” the country with the biggest reserves, Bolivia, has an unstable government, which is currently in Venezuela’s anti-American orbit. Korean techies have developed the Online Electric Vehicle (OLEV) and are testing it at a Korean amusement park to shuttle passengers from the parking lot to the admissions gate, Daily Tech reports (McGlaun, 2010). The OLEV is an electric battery operated vehicle that recharges through strips installed in the pavement. As the vehicle drives over the strip, the vehicle is recharged through magnetic induction, a technology similar to that used in charging many electric toothbrushes or in cell phone recharging mats. The power strips can charge batteries at distances of 25 centimeters away. Other vehicles and pedestrians can cross the power strips without harm. For entertaining reading, you can scroll down to the comments section and follow the quibbling over whether or not this is a “significant invention.” Commenters quibble over the meaning of both “significant” and “invention.” Usually, The Hybrid Report summarizes articles appearing in other publications. It’s not often that we get the opportunity to write our own stories. On Friday, February 25th, we were invited to a demonstration of Coulomb Technologies’ ChargePoint electric vehicle charging station, given by Charge Northwest. The demonstration was set up by The Hybrid Vehicle and Alternative Fuel Report ISSN 1946-1011 March 15, 2010 5 Washington State Department of Transportation’s Public/Private Partnership Office as the inaugural workshop on the West Coast Green Highway inititative. The ChargePoint station which was demonstrated was configured for charging vehicles at 120 volts, but was capable of charging vehicles at 240. Coulomb Technologies also makes a charging station that charges at 440 volts, which is enough to charge the new Nissan Leaf to 80% of capacity in 15 minutes. For more information about the ChargePoint charging station, visit Charge Northwest’s website, here. If you already have an electric car and you need to find out where you can find a ChargePoint station, there is an app for that at iPhone. While we have provided the link here, you won’t be able to open it on a WSDOT computer. To read more about the demonstration you can visit WSDOT’s website and to learn more about the West Coast Green Highway initiative, see the Public/Private Partnerships Office’s website. SUBSCRIBING TO THE HYBRID REPORT. The Hybrid Report comes in two formats: a PDF version sent to your email address and a PDF living at a WSDOT website. If you want to receive the PDF click this link: PDF Distribution List. If you want to be notified when The Report is updated on the Website, click this link: Website Update Distribution List. If you want both, click this: Both Web and PDF. Finally, if you are already on one of our subscription lists, but no longer want to receive this fine publication, click this link: Remove from Distribution List. These links will activate an email; just send it without adding any text and modern technology will handle the rest. ARTICLES REFERENCED Axsen, J., and Kurani, K. S. 2009. Early U.S. Market for Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles: Anticipating Consumer Recharge Potential and Design Priorities. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, No 2139. Washington, D. C.: Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, pp. 64-72. Available: http://trb.metapress.com/content/m1301441701768u2/?p=3caac753582944c18500d6803c683588&pi=7 Berman, B. 2010, March 10. February 2010 Dashboard: Toyota Woes Pull Down Hybrid Sales. hybridCars. Available: http://www.hybridcars.com/hybrid-sales- dashboard/february-2010-dashboard.html Carney, D. 2010, March 4. Electric vehicle range: What, me worry? MSNBC.com Available: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35352973/ns/business-autos/ Chang, R. S. 2010, March 9. With CR-Z, Honda Will Find Out if U.S. Is Ready for a Sporty Hybrid. The New York Times. Available: http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/09/with-cr-z-honda-will-find-out-if-u-s- is-ready-for-a-sporty-hybrid/?nl=automobiles&emc=wheelsema2 Cunningham, Jr., G. 2010, February 28. Which comes first, hydrogen fuel, or cars that need it? Foster’s Daily Democrat. Available: http://www.fosters.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100228/GJNEWS_01/702289861/-1/FOSNEWS The Hybrid Vehicle and Alternative Fuel Report ISSN 1946-1011 March 15, 2010 6 Gutierrez, S. 2010, March 8. Got reservations? All-electric Nissan Leaf debuts in December. Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Available: http://www.seattlepi.com/transportation/416374_leaf9.html Krauss, C. 2010, March 9. The Lithium Chase. The New York Times. Available: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/10/business/energy-environment/10lithium.html?th&emc=th Manila Bulletin. 2010, February 27. Honda rolls out world’s first hybrid SUV. Mb.com.ph. Available: http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/245395/honda-rolls-out- world-s-first-hybrid-suv Mara, J. 2010, February 25. Bay Area electric car dealerships running out of juice. The Oakland Tribune. Available: http://www.insidebayarea.com/timesstar/localnews/ci_14463373 McGlaun, S. 2010, March 10. Korea Shows Electric Trams Which Receive Power from Buried Recharging Strips. Daily Tech. Available: http://www.dailytech.com/Korea+Shows+Electric+Trams+Which+Receive+Powe r+from+Buried+Recharging+Strips/article17867c.htm The New York Times. 1910, February 26. Test Edison Car on Crosstown line. Available: http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive- free/pdf?_r=2&res=9401E1D91539E433A25755C2A9649C946196D6CF%7C Refrigerated Transporter. 2010, February 22. US Foodservice division in San Francisco begins fueling fleet with biodiesel. Refrigerated Transporter Business Picture. Available: http://refrigeratedtrans.com/food- distributors/foodservice/us_foodservice_san_francisco_begins_using_biodiesel_0222/ Wagenblast, B. 2010, February 25. Today in Transportation History. Transportation Communications Newsletter. Weddle, E. 2010, February 28. Purdue research finds cooler way for alternative fuel. Boiler Station. Available: http://www.jconline.com/article/20100228/NEWS0501/2280330 Wotapka, D. 2010, March 9. Forget Granite Countertops, Here Comes Electric-Vehicle Charging. The Wall Street Journal. Available: http://blogs.wsj.com/developments/2010/03/09/forget-granite-countertops-here-comes-electric-vehicle-charging/