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amor de cosmos Feb 24, 2014 7:22 PM


Woes of Megacity Driving Signal Dawn of ‘Peak Car’ Era
By Jeff Green and Keith Naughton
Feb 23, 2014 9:01 PM PT

The world that Henry Ford put on wheels is poised for a stall.

In the globe’s growing megacities, pollution and gridlock are putting a damper on driving. In India, some commuters are leaving their cars at home to avoid traffic snarls and long prowls for parking. More young Americans are forgoing the dream of auto ownership for public transport, bikes and vehicle-sharing. Cars on the road are lasting longer than ever.

All of that may herald a new era for an auto industry weaned on a century of global growth. The world will reach “Peak Car” -- a point at which annual global sales growth will top out -- in the next decade, several auto-industry analysts predict. Researcher IHS Automotive, for one, sees annual sales cresting at 100 million within that time.

Peak Car is at odds with the ambitious expansion plans of global automakers, which IHS says are gearing up to produce more than 120 million vehicles by 2016 -- almost 50 percent more than last year’s worldwide sales mark of 82 million. The dynamic also threatens the business plans of parts producers, suppliers of raw material and oil companies.

Driving this upheaval is a rapidly emerging reality: The vehicle that ushered in an unparalleled era of personal mobility in the last century is, in many cases, no longer the most convenient conveyance, particularly as more of the world’s population migrates to big cities.

Megatrend Reckoning

No one is predicting that car sales will suddenly fall off or that today’s car companies are now dinosaurs. What the experts do see is a reckoning for car companies, which may have to adapt to a world with less car-buying and more car-sharing, more cars that drive themselves and fewer hot rodders on the highway.

“The key question is: Do you sell cars or do you sell mobility?” said Tim Ryan, New York-based vice chairman of markets and strategy for consultant PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. “If you ignore these megatrends, you run the risk of becoming irrelevant.”


Goodbye, Horses

What the attendees didn’t predict was the impact of a technology that had been invented more than a decade earlier. By 1912, cars outnumbered horses. By 1920, the internal combustion engine had replaced oats-fueled horse power altogether, Morris said.

That long-ago urban-planning conference still speaks to the greatest challenge in this emerging new era of mobility -- persuading auto-obsessed consumers they will no longer need their own set of wheels.

“It’s really pretty hard to go to somebody and say ‘Can you imagine a day will come when you won’t need a car?’” said Phil Gott, senior director of long range planning at IHS in Lexington, Massachusetts. “Because the obvious answer is ‘What, are you nuts? I’ll always need a car.’ But in fact, people are moving into the cities and doing with fewer cars and in some cases with no cars.”


Bhutan to cut fossil fuel imports 70%, embrace electric cars
Sami Grover
Transportation / Cars
February 24, 2014

Africa isn't the only continent where clean energy could leapfrog fossil fuels. In Asia too, where economic growth has brought major air quality and pollution issues, there are signs that a new paradigm could be emerging. From India's proposed 4000 megawatt solar power plant to China's efforts to curb smog, renewables, alternative fuel vehicles and energy efficiency are moving firmly into the mainstream.

The small, mountainous nation of Bhutan is getting in on the act too. The same country that has made headlines for measuring Gross National Happiness (there are some legitimate questions for how GNH is calculated) and aiming for 100% organic agriculture recently announcing a partnership with Nissan to supply electric vehicles (EVs) to government and taxi fleets, as well as electric vehicle chargers, as part of a broad scale effort to cut fossil fuel imports by a whopping 70%, eventually aiming to become a zero emissions nation.

There are a number of reasons why this is important, most notably because while Bhutan is a net exporter of hydroelectric energy, it also imports all of the gasoline and diesel used for transportation. Much like Richard Branson's recent efforts to encourage energy independence for island nations, a country like Bhutan serves to benefit disproportionately from cutting the cord from fossil fuels.

Here's how the press release from Nissan describes the opportunity:
The country currently only uses 5% of the clean power it produces, exporting the majority to India. But almost all of the revenue earned from selling electricity is spent on fuel imported from India to run the nation's existing vehicles, which number some 36,000 vehicles in Thimphu alone.

Video Link


Kandi Plans Electric Car Network in Beijing, Shanghai
By Bloomberg News
Feb 23, 2014 8:53 PM PT

Kandi Technologies Group Inc. (KNDI), a Chinese electric carmaker that rents out vehicles to the public, said the service is profitable and plans to expand it to cities including Beijing and Shanghai.

“I have been meeting local officials from other cities who have been visiting our company almost daily in the past few months,” Kandi Chairman Hu Xiaoming said in a Feb. 21 interview at the company’s office in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. “They are very interested in our model and keen on promoting use of electric vehicles in their cities.”

Kandi, together with joint venture partner Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. (175), provides electric vehicles for short-term hire using automated multilevel garages in Hangzhou. Rental rates start from 20 yuan ($3.3) an hour and covers the first 25 kilometers (16 miles), compared with the starting rate of 11 yuan for taxis.

“Kandi’s business model can bypass obstacles in the promotion of electric cars such as inconvenience of charging,” said Harry Chen, a Shenzhen-based analyst with Guotai Junan Securities Co. “By expanding into more cities, it will help stimulate the overall electrical vehicle business in China.”

The automaker’s shares have outperformed the Nasdaq Composite Index this year after tripling in 2013, as China stepped up efforts to combat worsening air pollution and encouraged the adoption of electric vehicles. The world’s second-largest economy is lagging behind its target to have 5 million alternative energy-powered vehicles by 2020 because of a lack of charging stations and high costs.

amor de cosmos Feb 26, 2014 6:59 PM


Tesla Model S wins 'best overall' car by Consumer Reports
Calling the vehicle a "technological tour de force," the magazine awards the all-electric sedan its top ranking.

by Dara Kerr
February 25, 2014 8:59 PM PST

The story of Tesla is a bit like that of "The Little Engine That Could." It's a smaller company, which makes a product different than the rest, that's been working to stay afloat in a world of giant car companies.

Well, it appears Tesla has just made it over the mountain.

The company's all-electric Model S sedan was selected by Consumer Reports as 2014's "best overall" car.

Here's what Consumer Reports writes about the car:
Sure, you can talk about this electric luxury car's blistering acceleration, razor-sharp handling, compliant ride, and versatile cabin, which can fit a small third-row seat. But that just scratches the surface of this technological tour de force. The Tesla is brimming with innovation. Its massive, easy-to-use 17-inch touch screen controls most functions. And with its totally keyless operation, full Internet access, and ultra-quiet, zero-emission driving experience, the Tesla is a glimpse into a future where cars and computers coexist in seamless harmony. Its 225-mile driving range and 5-hour charges, using Tesla's special connector, also make it the easiest, most practical, albeit pricey, electric car to live with.


Beijing Auto-License Lottery Sees Few Electric-Car Takers
By Bloomberg News Feb 26, 2014 2:15 AM PT

Beijing’s aspiring car owners would rather brave the long odds of winning a license plate in the lottery than opt for an electric vehicle.

While the city received more than 90 bids for each available permit for conventional gasoline autos in the latest draw held today, only 1,428 people applied for the 1,666 new-energy vehicle plates offered, according to a statement on the municipal government’s website.

The lopsided demand underscores the challenges carmakers such as BYD Co. (1211), whose E6 electric car qualified for Beijing’s subsidies for the first time this month, face in selling electric vehicles in the world’s largest auto market. Consumers have been reluctant to switch to electric cars in China because of reliability concerns and a lack of charging infrastructure.

“This is really brand new stuff and people are still cautious,” said Lin Huaibin, a Shanghai-based analyst at researcher IHS Automotive. “This situation will last for some time because it takes time to build infrastructure.”

To manage worsening congestion and air pollution, Beijing will reduce the number of new conventional vehicles this year to 130,000 from 240,000 previously, while reserving 20,000 plates for new-energy vehicles. The city will also build 1,000 public quick-charging poles this year, covering the suburbs and city center, the official Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday.

M II A II R II K Feb 27, 2014 3:28 PM

Shetland Islands

Ventura, Cali.

Athens, Ga.



M II A II R II K Feb 27, 2014 5:26 PM

Toronto proposes prefabricated solution to repair Gardiner much faster

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Toronto has found a way to shave years off the reconstruction of the Gardiner Expressway and save its users $3 billion worth of wasted time, by using prefabricated sections of road.

- “The savings are so massively significant that this really is a solution that should sail past council,” said Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, who asked staff to look for ways to shorten the timeline needed to replace the expressway’s deck, the steel-reinforced concrete layer below the asphalt. The staff report goes to public works for approval on Tuesday.

- “We save eight years of massive congestion and gridlock,” he said.
The time savings will be made on the elevated section of the expressway from Dufferin St. east to the Don Roadway, where the new system, which has been used before in bridges, will be employed on the Gardiner for the first time.

- Entire cross-sections of the expressway, including asphalt, concrete decking and steel girders, will be cut out and replaced with the prefabricated pieces.
“Instead of placing rebar and pouring concrete, we’re going to prefabricate pieces at another site and come in and drop in sections of the deck,” said Minnan-Wong. The work is expected to take 12 years instead of 20.

- The method will replace conventional repairs, which involve stripping away the asphalt road surface and sawing and chipping away at the deck below to free the concrete from the metal studs that anchor it to the steel girders below. Afterwards, steel rebar is installed and new concrete is poured.


amor de cosmos Feb 27, 2014 5:55 PM


Musk’s $5 Billion Tesla Gigafactory May Start Bidding War
By Alan Ohnsman Feb 27, 2014 6:56 AM PT

Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA)’s plan to build what co-founder Elon Musk bills as the world’s largest battery factory could shake up the power industry and trigger a bidding contest between states eager for the 6,500 jobs the $5 billion investment could create.

The luxury electric-car maker announced yesterday that it’s selling at least $1.6 billion of convertible notes to finance the project and exploring locations in Texas, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico for a 10 million-square-foot facility. Tesla declined to comment on whether any negotiations had begun.

“This would rank as the most attractive industrial project out there,” said Dennis Cuneo, president of DC Strategic Advisors LLC and a former Toyota Motor Corp. executive who helped that carmaker select manufacturing sites.

Tesla has dubbed the project the “gigafactory,” and it would make Musk a force in both U.S. manufacturing and electric power. The plant he envisions would have more capacity than any other to make lithium-ion batteries.

“This has a huge impact beyond Tesla,” said Harley Shaiken, a labor economist at the University of California, Berkeley. “It gives enormous legitimacy to battery production and the future of the electric car because that lies in the battery. It’s high stakes, high technology.”

Tesla plans an investment of $4 billion to $5 billion by 2020 and will fund about $2 billion of the total, the Palo Alto, California-based company said in a presentation on its website. The convertible bond offering could grow to $1.84 billion, according to a separate statement.

Power Storage

The plant is key to Tesla becoming a mass-market automaker capable of producing 500,000 or more electric vehicles a year from a projected 35,000 this year, Musk has said. Its cheapest vehicle, the Model S, starts at $71,000.

The 42-year-old billionaire could also get closer to achieving his goal of being a leader in the power-storage industry in the U.S., as utility customers continue to turn to batteries and solar panels to reduce electricity bills.

The scale of production at the planned factory would be so immense that Tesla estimates it would drive down lithium-ion battery costs by at least 30 percent.


Light-Duty Natural Gas Vehicles on Roads Worldwide Will Reach Nearly 40 Million by 2023
Market will more than double in the next 10 years, report concludes

February 24, 2014

Increasing supplies of low-cost, readily available natural gas, along with expanding refueling infrastructure and increasingly strict vehicle emission requirements, are driving strong growth in the market for light duty natural gas vehicles (NGVs). This growth is occurring in countries where a robust market for NGVs already exists, such as India, China, Thailand, and Brazil, and in countries where NGVs are a relatively small niche, such as the United States and Germany. Click to tweet: According to a new report from Navigant Research, the total number of light-duty NGVs on roads worldwide will grow from 17.5 million in 2013 to 39.8 million in 2023.

“A number of major automakers are refocusing their efforts in the NGV market, particularly in regions where interest in these vehicles is strong,” says Dave Hurst, principal research analyst with Navigant Research. “Overall, the number of NGVs on the world’s roadways will roughly double by 2023, at which time NGVs will account for 2.6 percent of all vehicles on the roads.”

The market for light-duty NGVs is not homogenous around the world or even within regions, according to the report. In North America, the market is heavily focused on fleet purchasers, while in parts of Western Europe, Latin America, and Asia Pacific, the consumer market plays a much bigger role. Whether a particular market is focused on fleets or private consumers has a significant impact on the NGVs available. In North America, the fleet market for NGVs remains relatively small, so automakers are content to rely on vehicle conversions by companies that complete the conversion prior to customer delivery.


Big Data in the Driver's Seat
2 Feb 26, 2014 2:16 PM ET
By Rosabeth Moss Kanter

The development of the Interstate Highway System in the 1950s made the car the preferred individual mode of ground transportation. This upended residential patterns, creating suburbs and exurbs, and relegated rail to the background.

Sixty years later, however, America has changed. City centers have been revitalized and are once again desirable residential areas. Traffic congestion and pollution are recognized as significant problems, as is the inability to evacuate cities in an emergency. Car-sharing and bike-sharing are on the rise. And technology is in the early stages of reinventing roads in ways that can save lives, cut costs, raise revenue, reduce congestion and build businesses that create jobs of the future. The oldest of infrastructure -- the Romans built roads -- will soon begin to offer a very different experience.

Flying cars (the Massachusetts start-up Terrafugia is working on it) still seem a distant prospect, but new vehicle technology is rapidly taking hold. Google Inc. is testing driverless cars on select roads in California. BMW and Audi showcased their latest autonomous electric vehicle models at the January Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Mercedes-Benz's self-driving S-class sedan began to be tested on German city streets in September, thanks to a more hospitable European regulatory environment, which already allows automated steering up to certain speeds, as long as drivers can override it. A Department of Transportation project with major U.S. auto manufacturers is testing use of vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems to improve safety in a fleet of 150 cars that can, for example, keep you in your lane.

Vehicles are beginning to dynamically interact with roads and each other. An estimated 900,000 front-to-rear vehicle crashes per year in the U.S. cause injuries and deaths and cost about $2 billion, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Equipping cars, trucks and buses with sensors and network connections can ensure that vehicles avoid danger, saving lives and money.

Technology is also changing where and when we drive. To bypass traffic congestion, motorists in Minneapolis-St. Paul are willing to pay the hourly equivalent of $60-$120 for use of a High Occupancy Toll lane, which is charged to an electronic pass. The system dynamically changes pricing, depending on time of day and use. It resembles an auction for the use of road space, brought to you by Big Data. You can join similar auctions for road segments in Seattle, Miami, Houston and Los Angeles -– saving time and increasing productivity.

amor de cosmos Feb 28, 2014 6:47 PM


Tesla No DeLorean as 619% Jump Makes Hottest Auto Stock
By Alan Ohnsman Feb 28, 2014 7:19 AM PT

Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA), propelled by praise from Consumer Reports and plans to build a better battery and expand in Asia, has cemented its place as the highest-flying automobile stock in at least two decades.

The luxury electric-car maker’s 619 percent rally in the last 12 months is unmatched by any global automaker in at least 20 years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Tesla’s almost 15-fold jump since its June 2010 initial public offering is also bigger than any U.S. stock that has debuted since 2006.

While further gains may become more challenging with Tesla now trading at 154 times estimated earnings, the youngest U.S. carmaker has already beaten odds that crushed startups such as DeLorean Motor Co., Tucker Car Corp. and Fisker Automotive Inc.

“Its combination of technology, glitter and utility, while being a leader in a segment that has a lot of potential, is leading buyers and investors to Tesla,” said Alan Baum, an analyst at Baum & Associates in West Bloomfield, Michigan, who tracks alternative-powertrain autos. “They’re leading a new segment with a product that transcends the segment it’s in.”

Tesla’s market capitalization has swelled to $31 billion -- more than half that of General Motors Co. (GM) and Ford Motor Co. (F) Tesla’s share price run-up also gave Musk an opening to sell $2 billion of convertible notes, up from an initial plan to offer at least $1.6 billion, to fund his new battery plant.


India’s Mahindra Sells $11,300 Electric Car in Bhutan
28 February 2014

Feb. 28 (Bloomberg) — Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., India’s biggest sports utility-vehicle maker, introduced an electric car in Bhutan to help the Himalayan kingdom clear the air of fuel fumes and attract more tourists to its pristine environs.

The e2o will retail at a starting price of 699,000 ngultrum ($11,300), Mumbai-based Mahindra said today in an e-mailed statement. Bhutan, which imports all its oil, signed an agreement to develop charging infrastructure for electric vehicles in the landlocked nation, the company said.

Growing emissions from vehicle exhaust threaten Bhutan’s reputation for clean air and its tourism industry, a major source of foreign exchange, the nation’s Department of Roads said at a United Nations conference in November. While Bhutan exports 72 percent of the hydropower electricity it generates, most of the money earned is spent on importing diesel and gasoline, according to Nissan Motor Co., which introduced its Leaf electric car there this month.

Bhutan, which has a total of 44,678 light vehicles, will also get a Tesla Motors Inc. Model S next month for trial, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said last week.


Wireless Charging Systems for Electric Vehicles Will Surpass 300,000 in Annual Sales by 2022
Automakers plan to release wireless-capable models in 2015-2016, report finds

February 27, 2014

Wireless charging systems for electric vehicles (EVs) offer several advantages over conventional plug-in technology, foremost among them unparalleled convenience for EV owners. Until recently, these systems were in the R&D and pilot stages only, but now products have begun to reach the market, and several major EV manufacturers have plans to offer models with wireless charging capability in the 2015-2016 timeframe. Click to tweet: According to a new report from Navigant Research, worldwide sales of wireless EV charging systems will grow from a few hundred in 2014 to nearly 302,000 by 2022.

“Although some in the industry remain unconvinced that wireless charging will ever be more than a small niche market, it’s clear that major automakers have concluded that this technology could be a differentiator in a crowded EV market,” says Richard Martin, editorial director with Navigant Research. “Features once considered luxury items, such as power windows and automatic garage door openers, tend to spread, over time, across all vehicle segments – and that is likely to apply to wireless charging, as well.”

Several developments in 2013 signaled the beginning of a new phase in this emerging market, according to the report. Bosch announced a sales and distribution agreement with Evatran, maker of the Plugless Power system, with products scheduled to reach the market in the first quarter of 2014. Also, the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) said that its Wireless Power Transfer Task Force for vehicles has agreed on a standard frequency for wireless EV charging, reducing the possibility of a standards battle among competing vendors.

amor de cosmos Mar 2, 2014 12:42 AM


Six Questions Regarding Tesla’s GigaFactory
Sam Jaffe — February 27, 2014

This week, Tesla revealed the first details about its plan to build an enormous battery factory to provide cells for its future electric vehicles. Among the revelations: the factory will be powered primarily by its own solar and wind power parks; it will produce more than 50 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of battery packs a year; and it will cost $6 billion to build. To kick things off, Tesla also filed to sell $1.6 billion worth of convertible bonds today.

While these are intriguing details, there’s still a lot to determine about what this factory will actually look like. Here are my questions about the GigaFactory:

Why isn’t California one of the states being considered for the plant? The company named Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas as potential host sites. To build the batteries in a different state and then ship them to California, even by rail, will add considerable cost to the batteries. Why not locate the factory at or near the company’s vehicle assembly plant in Fremont, California? My guess is that environmental regulations for such an enormous factory are one negative factor weighing against California. That leads to a second question: Where will the cars be built? The batteries coming from this factory will be going into Tesla’s next-gen passenger car, not the Model S or Model X. That means that a car factory could also come along with the battery plant.

How much wind and solar will be needed to supply power to the plant? A battery factory making 50 GWh of batteries will require enormous amounts of electricity – some for the actual making of the batteries and some for the initial charging of the batteries that is the last step in the manufacturing process. This could require as much as 1 GW of renewable energy projects. Is the price of those installations factored into the stated $6 billion cost of the factory?

Where will the extra 15 GWh of batteries come from? In the slides that Tesla distributed, the manufacturing capacity of cells was stated as being 35 GWh. But the manufacturing capacity of packs was stated as being 50 GWh. So where will the extra 15 GWh of cells come from? From other battery company factories throughout the world? From more GigaFactories?

Why is this factory so cheap? $6 billion doesn’t sound very cheap. But it actually pencils out to a little more than two-thirds the cost, on a per GWh basis, of other large battery factories. Clearly, the large scale of the factory will make equipment purchases cheaper. Nevertheless, the estimated cost of the factory seems extremely low and brings into question whether Tesla and its battery partners have some new manufacturing innovations up their sleeves.

Why wasn’t Panasonic mentioned in the news release? Most observers assume that Tesla will build the factory with Panasonic, which makes all the cells for the Model S and the upcoming Model X. However, the news release only stated that the car company’s “manufacturing partners” will help finance and build the factory. Is it possible that another battery supplier is inserting itself in between Panasonic and Tesla?

How much will the cells cost once the factory is up to scale? Tesla CEO Elon Musk has stated in the past that Tesla buys its cells for between $200 and $300 per kilowatt-hour (kWh). The slides distributed with the GigaFactory announcement claim that the facility will be able to cut the costs of the battery packs by 30%. But how much of that comes out of cell costs versus price cuts in the other equipment in the pack? Does this get Tesla down to $175 per kWh? To $100 per kWh?

There’s no denying that this is a bold venture. If the company manages to follow through on these plans, it will construct the biggest factory in the world (not just for batteries, but for anything). And they will yet again echo Henry Ford’s spirit with a 21st century version of the original megafactory, the River Rouge complex.

amor de cosmos Mar 2, 2014 7:08 PM

could also use wireless charging systems on these sections:


Solar Serpents in Paradise by Mans Tham Architect
March 2nd, 2014 - Posted in Architecture

This project explores how architectural design could change both the function and the narrative of the most symbolic structure of modern society: the freeway. The Solar Serpents would be connected to the grid and the energy produced would be instantly sucked up locally with no transmission costs or losses.

The panels can be produced, used and recycled in the same city thus benefiting the local economy at all stages in the life of the urban solar power plant. The cost for this project is compared to many other power plants rather predictable. The roads themselves will be less exposed to UV degradation and the cost of gas/electricity for AC will be reduced for the people driving in the solar serpent.

Solar panels need unshaded sun which makes freeways with their big clearing an ideal site. Mounted above a road they also provide shade that would decrease the use of air conditioning on sunny days. And also: The high cost of UV degradation of paved freeway surfaces would decrease and noise will go down for the people living next to the freeway.

This project was worked on the 24 kilometer long stretch of the Santa Monica freeway between downtown and the beach. On average it is 40 m wide. This gives us a paved surface of 10 million square feet.The Solar Serpent would give the freeway a radically different and bold presence in the city. Recharging stations along it clearly explains the connection between production and usage.


The world's largest aircraft can fly for three weeks (it's not cute)
The HAV 304 Airlander is green, efficient, a hybrid, and, well, quite bizarre.

by Chris Matyszczyk
March 1, 2014 4:37 PM PST

Thanks to technology, the world is becoming a darker place.

No, I'm not suggesting that we're becoming less and less enlightened, as we sacrifice our minds to the robots.

Instead, I'm merely indicating that we will soon not be able to see that thing we currently call the sky.

There'll be Jeff Bezos's drones flying around all day, delivering dictionaries and diapers to the distressed. There'll be journalistic drones all around, capturing every aerial detail of multiple car crashes.

And then there'll be the HAV 304 Airlander, which is so large that it will block the view of several planets as it waddles through the heavens.

I confess I hadn't heard of this plane before the Telegraph told me it was the world's largest aircraft.

Indeed, when you look at the promotional video above, it's got massive green credentials, can fly for three weeks, and is a marvelous hybrid of airship, plane, and helicopter.

It's 300 feet long and doesn't need an airport to take off. Yes, if you have a large garden, it can take off from it.

amor de cosmos Mar 4, 2014 6:30 PM


All-Electric School Bus Hits the Road
Big yellow waits in the wings for its smaller counterpart to make (electric) inroads.

Katherine Tweed
March 4, 2014

When it comes to energy efficiency, schools are a relatively easy target. There is a natural synergy between educating the next generation and teaching sustainability and efficiency, whether it’s telling kindergartners to turn off lights when they leave a room or running sophisticated energy efficiency competitions between graduate school departments. Schools often own the buildings they occupy, making it easier to swallow long-term paybacks for efficiency retrofits.

When it comes to moving students to and from school, however, there has been less progress. The nearly half a million school buses in the U.S. are inherently more efficient than single-car drivers, but transportation efficiency gains end there for many school districts. Most youngsters (and bummed-out high schoolers without wheels of their own) are waiting at street corners and the end of driveways for practically the same yellow bus their parents rode to school (the addition of seat belts notwithstanding).

Not so for one group of kids in San Joaquin Valley, Calif. Starting in February, the Kings Canyon Unified School District becameone of the first school districts in the nation to order multiple all-electric school bus to transport students. The bus is a modification of Trans Tech Bus' SST model, with an electric powertrain from Motiv Power Systems, which also provides electric powertrains to other heavy-duty vehicles by dropping its new technology into existing chassis. A few years ago, Smith announced the availability of an electric school bus with Trans Tech, but it did not gain success in the marketplace.

“In this way, we are answering the call of the transportation industry to build reliable EV trucks that fit seamlessly into the existing diesel truck manufacturing and service infrastructure,” Jim Castelaz, founder and CEO of Motiv, said in a statement. “We are absolutely thrilled to see the Kings Canyon all-electric school bus on its route, transporting students, without exposing them to diesel exhaust. I hope that by the time my daughter is ready to go to school, she will be able to ride clean, zero-emission school buses like this one.”

Many states across the U.S. already have anti-idling laws that apply to school buses to cut down on air pollution. But there is often an exception when the buses need to be powered on to run the heat or air conditioning. The federal government has also ensured that school buses will have to become more efficient in coming years. President Obama has introduced the first fuel efficiency standards for medium and heavy-duty vehicles during his time in office, which will now become even more stringent.

Even with the more efficient use of the buses and gains in gas mileage, they could still be an attractive fit for electric powertrains. Like other fleet vehicles that have gone electric, such as Proterra buses in San Antonio, Motiv's garbage trucks in Chicago or FedEx’s delivery trucks, school buses have prescribed routes that can work well with a limited battery range.

School buses often sit idle for part of the mid-day and overnight, which could allow them to participate in demand response or frequency regulation markets, as that option becomes more widely available. Frequency regulation might be more realistic than demand response, since school buses are on the roads during the afternoons when peaks usually happen in summer. In PJM and Texas’s ERCOT, there are already pilots to allow fleet EVs to participate in the energy markets. One Chinese electric bus manufacturer operating in California is calling for utility rate redesign that would further incentivize electric transportation.

M II A II R II K Mar 4, 2014 8:38 PM

How Buenos Aires unclogged its most iconic street

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The postcard image of this proud city is Avenida 9 de Julio, a triumphant boulevard that is by some accounts the widest street in the world. There’s two parts to the picture everyone knows. One is the towering Obelisk commemorating the founding of Buenos Aires. The other is the 20 lanes of traffic commemorating the city’s love of cars.

- In the past year, half of that image has changed dramatically. City work crews ripped out four of those traffic lanes in the middle of the roadway. In just seven months, they gave the space entirely to buses and the people who ride them. --- Buses used to be stuck in the mix of traffic on 9 de Julio, jostling with with cars, taxis and trucks. Now, buses have their own lanes for 3 km before peeling off into traffic to get to their destinations. More than 200,000 commuters, many of them traveling to or from the suburbs, enjoy a faster ride that also makes a subway transfer obsolete.

- The 9 de Julio Metrobus is a sort of transport surgery on the beating heart of the city — similar in ways to what New York City did a few years ago when it shut cars out of parts of Times Square. --- “It speaks a lot about a city, to be able to change the thing people are so proud of,” says Andrés Fingeret, director of the Argentina office of the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy. The international organization recently gave Buenos Aires its Sustainable Transport Award for 2014. --- “Avenida 9 de Julio used to be a monument to cars,” says Fingeret. “Now, it’s reshaping the city as a monument to people.”

- The loudest opposition came from groups of architects, city planners, and environmentalists who didn’t want to see 1,500 trees and the small green spaces surrounding them removed. (Most of the trees were replanted elsewhere.) Some said the project should be built on the outer edges of the avenue, not in the middle of it. --- Critics also argued that the intervention was costly and redundant, since a subway line running below 9 de Julio covers the same route. Some drivers complained that left turns from the roadway would become impossible. And inevitably, the project got swept up in national politics: Mauricio Macri, the mayor of Buenos Aires and the bus route’s champion, is a political opponent of the current president of Argentina.

- Now that the bus system is operational, most of the opposition has gone away. That’s because it’s helped to unclog traffic and reduced travel times for just about everybody traveling through the area. According to Guillermo Dietrich, the city’s undersecretary for transport, travel time is down for buses by 50 percent, for minibuses (private buses that make fewer stops) by 45 percent, and for cars by 20 percent. --- “It benefits everyone,” says Dietrich, “even those traveling by car.” He points out that cars still have ten central lanes to use, plus three exclusive side lanes and a parking bay — and the buses are no longer fighting with them in traffic.



Buses were re-routed from side streets to the new bus lanes, allowing 100 blocks to become pedestrianized.

amor de cosmos Mar 5, 2014 6:26 PM


New All-Electric School Bus Saves California District $10,000+ Per Year

We don’t have to wait any longer for all-electric school bus transport in the US. The Kings Canyon Unified School District in California’s San Joaquin Valley is paving the way for districts across the nation to provide students with zero-emissions transport. The district has four of these electric school buses on the way from Trans Tech Bus, featuring an innovative standard powertrain from Motiv Power Systems.

The Trans Tech/Motiv vehicle has passed all KCUSD and California Highway Patrol inspections and certifications. Although some diesel hybrids are in use, this is the first modern electric school bus approved for student transportation by any state.

Jason Flores, Transportation Director for KCUSD, tells us:
KCUSD has taken major strides to reduce diesel particulate emissions by as much as 85%. Going [all] electric with these new green school buses is just one more important step in KCUSD’s ongoing portfolio of measures to protect our children, serve our community, and be good stewards of our environment. We hope other school districts will follow our lead to protect children… and protect themselves from rising diesel costs.
Trans Tech calls this electric version of its popular SST model the “SST-e.” It uses a Ford E450 cutaway chassis. The bus is available with 80 or 100 miles of range. It holds either 25 students or 18 students with a wheelchair lift and configurable track seating for up to 3 wheelchairs.


The Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan (just between you and me)
By Guest Post
Electric Vehicles, Hybrids, Transportation
March 4, 2014

Out of the past (August 2006) comes this past blog by the Elon Musk

It finishes with his plan which today could be considered an an accurate prophecy. It is amusing he has to explain who he is back then.

Background: My day job is running a space transportation company called SpaceX, but on the side I am the chairman of Tesla Motors and help formulate the business and product strategy with Martin and the rest of the team. I have also been Tesla Motor’s primary funding source from when the company was just three people and a business plan.

As you know, the initial product of Tesla Motors is a high performance electric sports car called the Tesla Roadster. However, some readers may not be aware of the fact that our long term plan is to build a wide range of models, including affordably priced family cars. This is because the overarching purpose of Tesla Motors (and the reason I am funding the company) is to help expedite the move from a mine-and-burn hydrocarbon economy towards a solar electric economy, which I believe to be the primary, but not exclusive, sustainable solution.

Critical to making that happen is an electric car without compromises, which is why the Tesla Roadster is designed to beat a gasoline sports car like a Porsche or Ferrari in a head to head showdown. Then, over and above that fact, it has twice the energy efficiency of a Prius. Even so, some may question whether this actually does any good for the world. Are we really in need of another high performance sports car? Will it actually make a difference to global carbon emissions?

Well, the answers are no and not much. However, that misses the point, unless you understand the secret master plan alluded to above. Almost any new technology initially has high unit cost before it can be optimized and this is no less true for electric cars. The strategy of Tesla is to enter at the high end of the market, where customers are prepared to pay a premium, and then drive down market as fast as possible to higher unit volume and lower prices with each successive model.


Becoming Energy Positive

I should mention that Tesla Motors will be co-marketing sustainable energy products from other companies along with the car. For example, among other choices, we will be offering a modestly sized and priced solar panel from SolarCity, a photovoltaics company (where I am also the principal financier). This system can be installed on your roof in an out of the way location, because of its small size, or set up as a carport and will generate about 50 miles per day of electricity.

If you travel less than 350 miles per week, you will therefore be “energy positive” with respect to your personal transportation. This is a step beyond conserving or even nullifying your use of energy for transport – you will actually be putting more energy back into the system than you consume in transportation! So, in short, the master plan is:
  1. Build sports car
  2. Use that money to build an affordable car
  3. Use that money to build an even more affordable car
  4. While doing above, also provide zero emission electric power generation options

Don’t tell anyone.

ssiguy Mar 6, 2014 5:26 AM

That solar panelled freeway could actually make sense if it is economical and especially in colder climates.

As long as the sun is there and it produces enough electrical power to make it economically viable, it would be very popular in areas that get a lot of snow. Not only would it be much safer but it would also safe the state/province a small fortune in snow removal which can become very costly not only to clear but it also deteriorates the roads faster. It would help productivity by getting rid of closed highways due to snow storms etc and make delivery more predictable in the winter. In fact, the more snow an area gets the more it would make sense as the greater the savings in snow removal. Snow removal and sanding/salting is damn expensive and the money saved could go back to the developer of the system.

The state/province would get more secure power, safer roads that would require less maintenance and it wouldn't cost them anything extra.

initiald Mar 6, 2014 2:18 PM


Originally Posted by ssiguy (Post 6481091)
As long as the sun is there and it produces enough electrical power to make it economically viable, it would be very popular in areas that get a lot of snow.

It will need to be very strong to support the weight of snow. It looks like it has openings on the sides and between the panels to let exhaust out and light in - otherwise it would need lighting. The openings would let snow in, and you also have to worry about strong wings getting in and creating lift.

M II A II R II K Mar 6, 2014 8:05 PM

New game "Mini Metro" lets you design your own subway system. Train speeds and commuter behavior are automated, so your task is simple: draw the routes that'll get the trains to run as efficiently as possible. You start with a small city of three unconnected stations. But as new neighborhoods pop up and the population swells, you must grow the system accordingly before everything grinds to a halt.

Walmart Designed a Fuel-Efficient Truck That Actually Looks Pretty Cool

Read More:



At a recent meeting on sustainability, the company unveiled the Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience, a new concept truck that's 20 percent more aerodynamic than its current fleet. The WAVE features a micro-turbine power-train that can run on diesel, natural gas, biodiesel, and potentially new forms of fuels still in development. The trailer is also made almost exclusively with carbon fiber, which sheds around 4,000 pounds of body weight.


Video Link

Busy Bee Mar 6, 2014 9:21 PM

I can already hear the average American trucker dissing this for looking silly and all Europy etc.

amor de cosmos Mar 7, 2014 6:41 PM


2015 Volkswagen Golf GTE Plug-in Hybrid Debuts with a 157 MPG Rating
by Marc Carter, 03/07/14

Volkswagen has unveiled their new 2015 Golf GTE plug-in hybrid ahead of its world debut at the Geneva Motor Show next month. Based on the popular 2015 VW Golf GTI and GTD models, the new GTE turns the sporty hatchback into a plug-in hybrid that can travel up to 31 miles in full electric mode.

The Golf GTE is powered by a 1.4L gas engine and an electric motor that generate a combined 201 horsepower and 258 lb-ft. of torque. An 8.8 kWh liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery gives the Golf GTE an electric driving range of 31 miles, and it can also reach speeds up to 81 mph in EV mode. VW estimates that on the European cycle the Golf GTE will have a combined rating of 157 mpg. Using a conventional household wall outlet, the Golf GTE’s battery can be recharged in 3.5 hours, while using a public charging station will drop that time to 2.5 hours.

Compared to the rest of the Golf lineup, the Golf GTE looks nearly identical. The GTE combines the sporty styling of the GTI and the all-electric e-Golf. Volkswagen has not released any of the pricing details or which markets it will be available in. Volkswagen has announced that it is working on a hydrogen fuel cell powertrain for the Golf.

Video Link

Jonboy1983 Mar 8, 2014 12:18 AM

Not really anything pertaining to new technology, but supposedly the managers of the Chester County G.O. Carlson Airport near Coatesville want to expand it so that someday the airport can handle commercial jets.

My wife and I just purchased a townhouse that is just across Business Route 30 from the airport...

M II A II R II K Mar 8, 2014 4:23 AM

Absurd Commuter Rail Setup

Video Link

Busy Bee Mar 8, 2014 12:46 PM

Absurd?!? Try awesome. The south shore line street running is a blast from the past and I'd hate to see it go.

Wizened Variations Mar 8, 2014 7:40 PM

Not as bad as it looks.

Originally Posted by M II A II R II K (Post 6484543)
Absurd Commuter Rail Setup

Video Link

1) The South Shore Railroad has been running trains down the line for about a century, I would suspect.

2) The train Station certainly does not cost much to operate.

3) No one argues with a 9 car train. People wait for this train to cross the street.


I do believe, however, that with all the safety legislation and other types of government involvement, that we here in NA have lost the ability to make rail systems cheaply.

One reads on various transportation centric websites about why US and, to a lesser extent, Canadian transit system tend to cost so much to make per km.

If this station and rail line were built today, additional costs would include:

A) Relocating and improving fresh and brown water lines that cross the rail line right-of-way.
B) Burying all power lines within 1 or 2 blocks of the rail line, if any power lines were to cross the right of way.
C) Digging an underpass, or putting in an overpass at the stop light intersection.
D) Putting in wide sidewalks, fencing off the rail line track, and, purchasing a strip (at a high price) of land paralleling the train line for a bike lane.
E) Making a stop that would provide no step access for the physically challenged to a full train long platform.
F) The platform needs to have a weather shelter that is sufficient for future user needs.
G) The station needs some art, preferably large and colorful.

H) Local politicians and their property developer friends see the potential of the location, and, have purchased parallel properties during the time the idea of putting the rail line in was discussed.
I) The houses on these properties, being blighted, are placed in a tax exemption status for 5 years, then torn town to put in a transportation Oriented Development.
J) This TOD requires that a parking lot be put in on one side of the line as the there is parking space to square foot retail + residential ordinance requirement.

In the old days they would put in a cheap mile of line in a week or two, and, over the next 3 or 4 years improve portions of the new line during weekends.
The station would be a "shack" that would be put up in a couple of days, particularly if preassembled and shipped to the site on the new railroad.

I think we have lost something "in translation."

Back when railroads were powerful and government was weak, train versus car/bike/pedestrian accidents would be reduced by a combination of continuous horn blasts and running expresses down the street (after the line has been improved) at 100 km/h!

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