So many stories have piled up in the past few days or so that I think it’s time for a few roundup posts. Here’s one on clean transportation:
1. Toyota reported today that its Prius model hit an all-time US sales record in March in the midst of high gas prices. “Camry and Camry Hybrid increased 30.5 percent year-over-year with its best-ever March, leading monthly passenger car sales with 42,567 units. The Prius family outsold every previous record posting March sales of 28,711 units, up 48.8 percent over the year-ago month…. TMS posted March sales of 38,215 hybrid vehicles, an increase of 49.0 percent compared to the same period last year. Toyota Division posted sales of 34,722 hybrids for the month, up 60.7 percent over the year-ago month. Lexus Division reported monthly sales 3,493 hybrids.”
2. BMW and Toyota are teaming up to work on next-generation lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles, as I reported in December. Now, they’ve just finalized an agreement confirming the memorandum of understanding (MoU). “The research project being undertaken under the agreement is focusing on increasing the performance and capacity of lithium-ion battery cells through the use of new combinations of materials for cathodes, anodes and electrolytes.”
3. UPS is looking to deliver goods in a more eco-friendly way for the London Olympics with 10 new biomethane trucks (trucks that run off of biofuel from waste).
4. Electric Vehicles International (EVI) has launched a 500 zero emission medium duty truck deployment initiative in California to “help implement Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.’s recently issued Executive Order to achieve widespread deployment of zero-emission vehicles throughout California,” the company announced. The initiative will replace diesel trucks with California-made, state-of-the-art, zero-emission vehicles. “Over the next two years, this initiative will eliminate up to 12 million miles of toxic diesel emissions per year throughout California and will support the creation of many jobs in the state’s Central Valley.”
5. Lithium-ion battery costs are projected to fall to $397/kWh in 2020 according to a recent Lux Research report. However, the market research company notes that is “far short of the $150/kWh target from the U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC) and not enough to reach the mass market.”
6. Northumbria University researchers in the UK are working on a resource to help estimate the impact of electric vehicles on the grid.
“The resource will help policy-makers, developers and network operators to analyse the impact of electric vehicles in the presence of micro generators and low carbon technologies. It will help to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. This tool will help to build the infrastructure around electric cars and can be used inside and outside the region, as well as in international contexts.
“Any electricity usage scenario can be tested using this tool, giving a picture of what can happen to existing grid infrastructure and helping to plan future power networks or smart grids.”
7. UCLA engineering researchers have been working on “a method for converting carbon dioxide into liquid fuel isobutanol using electricity.”
“In a study published March 30 in the journal Science, James Liao, UCLA’s Ralph M. Parsons Foundation Chair in Chemical Engineering, and his team report a method for storing electrical energy as chemical energy in higher alcohols, which can be used as liquid transportation fuels,” the UCLA news release stated.
“The current way to store electricity is with lithium ion batteries, in which the density is low, but when you store it in liquid fuel, the density could actually be very high,” Liao said. “In addition, we have the potential to use electricity as transportation fuel without needing to change current infrastructure.”
8. US airlines have dropped a lawsuit against the EU’s new law which charges airlines for their carbon emissions, but that’s not because the battle is over. The airlines are apparently hopeful that the US government will take up the matter for them.
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