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[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

DOE to fund development of processes to aggregate purchases of alt-fuel and advanced vehicles; goal is cost reduction and accelerated adoption

November 21, 2014

DOE plans (DE-FOA-0001236) to issue in the February 2015 timeframe a funding opportunity (DE-FOA-0001237) to develop and to implement effective purchasing/procurement processes designed to coordinate and consolidate bulk alternative fuel vehicle and advanced vehicle orders and thus reduce the per-unit prices of commercially-available vehicles.

DOE expects that such an aggregated purchasing/procurement process will enable original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and suppliers to increase production volumes; achieve economies of scale; and reduce incremental vehicle costs specific to electric drive, natural gas, propane, hybrid, and other alternative fuel vehicle and advanced vehicle technologies.

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La Poste Group and Renault enter new eco-mobility partnership; coincides with delivery of the 5,000th Kangoo Z.E.

October 31, 2014

Philippe Wahl, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of La Poste group, and Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Renault group, signed a new partnership agreement today to pursue and strengthen their cooperation on the search for eco-mobility solutions. Since the launch of France’s low-carbon vehicle project in January 2009, La Poste group, which has the country’s largest industrial fleet with some 69,000 vehicles, has equipped itself with a complete range of electric vehicles, including small light commercial vehicles, quads, three-wheelers and electrically assisted bicycles. Today, La Poste mailmen and mailwomen use nearly 25,000 means of electric transport daily.

The Renault group and La Poste group are working together in a wide range of fields on forward-looking issues independently of their business relations. By signing the new partnership agreement, the two French companies are pursuing their collaborative efforts on the search for eco-mobility solutions. Through research work and studies, the two groups will develop pilot projects on new mobility solutions and continue to foster the sustainable mobility of the present and future, focusing on four main areas:

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GKN to supply 500 electric flywheel hybrid drive systems to Go-Ahead Group for buses

July 29, 2014

UK transport operator Go-Ahead Group has ordered 500 electric flywheel Gyrodrive systems from GKN Hybrid Power for use in buses. The Gyrodrive Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) system (featured in Audi’s LeMans-winning R18 e-tron quattro) harvests braking energy normally lost as heat.

When the driver brakes, a traction motor on one of the axles slows the vehicle, generating electricity at the same time. This electricity is used to charge the flywheel, spinning it at up to 36,000 rpm. When the driver accelerates, the system works in reverse. The energy is drawn from the flywheel and converted back into electricity to power the traction motor, which helps accelerate the bus back up to speed, generating fuel savings of more than 20% at a significantly lower cost and weight (60 kg, 132 lbs) than battery hybrid alternatives. Useable stored energy is 1.2MJ, with peak power of 120kW.

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Study finds testing the technology the strongest initial motivation for fleet managers adopting EVs

July 25, 2014

According to a report from Frost and Sullivan (Kumar, 2013), fleet managers adopted more than half of EVs sold globally up to 2013. A new study of factors influencing fleet managers’ adoption of electric vehicles has found that testing new technologies was the strongest driver of initial EV adoption, followed by lowering environmental impacts; government grants; and improving the organization’s public image. Thereafter fleet managers adopted or indicated an intent to adopt a larger number of EVs because of the benefits that they offer.

The study by William Sierzchula at Delft University of Technology, published in the journal Transportation Research Part D, used fleet manager interviews and pilot project report to investigate 14 US and Dutch organizations that adopted EVs from 2010 to 2013 to determine which factors influenced their purchase decisions. In addition, Sierzchula also analyzed the reasons why these same firms did or did not expand their EV fleets.

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EEI encourages utilities to spend at least 5% of fleet acquisition budgets on plug-ins

July 23, 2014

The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) released a white paper, “Transportation Electrification: Utility Fleets Leading the Charge,” that focuses on the electric power industry’s effort to accelerate the expansion of electric transportation in commercial and retail markets, beginning with electric utility fleets. The paper encourages investor-owned electric utilities to meet an industry-wide goal to spend at least 5% of annual fleet acquisition budgets on plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and technologies.

An analysis of utility fleets by Utilimarc shows only about 1.7% of the vehicles purchased by electric utilities in the last five years were equipped with plug-in technology.

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ABB and Volvo Buses partnering on fast-charging system for hybrid and electric buses

July 22, 2014

ABB and Volvo Buses are partnering to co-develop and to commercialize electric and hybrid buses with open standards-based direct current (DC) fast charging systems. The cooperation will create a city-wide standardized charging system for electric and electric hybrid buses that can charge buses quickly through an automatic roof-top connection system at bus stops or through cabled charging systems overnight.

This approach, based on internationally accepted standards (EN61851-23), enables maximum re-use of existing e-mobility technologies, thereby ensuring a rapid deployment of urban e-mobility. The first joint project will be the implementation of Volvo Electric Hybrids and ABB’s automatic e-bus chargers in the Luxembourg public transport system, where as many as 12 Volvo Electric Hybrid buses operated by Sales-Lentz will be running on existing lines by 2015.

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Virginia Tech wins $55M in federal contracts for commercial truck driver safety and automated vehicle research

July 21, 2014

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute has been awarded two federal contracts worth a combined potential $55 million to further study safety efforts for commercial truck drivers and break new ground in the burgeoning field of automated vehicles.

The contracts are being awarded by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) with a ceiling of $30 million for a five-year period, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) at a maximum of $25 million during a five-year period. Collectively, the contracts—both won this spring—are the largest of their kind awarded to the institute in its 25-year history.

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Review: Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD with bi-fuel CNG option

July 14, 2014

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View of the CNG tank in the bed of a Silverado 2500HD with bi-fuel option. Click to enlarge.

GM’s 2015 Chevy Silverado 2500HD with the bi-fuel (natural gas) option (earlier post) offers buyers—primarily commercial and fleet buyers—a strong natural-gas option in the ¾-ton pickup market that combines the excellent qualities of the base Silverado 2500HD with the economic (lower cost) and environmental (lower emissions of GHGs and criteria pollutants) benefits of natural gas fuel and packages the two together seamlessly.

As with any vehicle choice, there are trade-offs that need to be balanced against target use. In the case of the 2500HD bi-fuel, the two main trade-offs are a reduction in power and torque in CNG mode compared to gasoline mode, and the loss of a portion of the bed of the truck to the 3,600 psi CNG tank and its box-like enclosure. (It looks like a hefty black tool box mounted across the front of the bed.) Of those two trade-offs, only the second is permanent. The driver can easily switch from CNG to gasoline with the flick of a switch, essentially reverting the 2500HD to its conventional gasoline cousin, with the accompanying boost in power and torque for occasions that might call for it.

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Report finds progress in UK Low Carbon Emissions Bus uptake, but a need to review incentives

July 06, 2014

Despite the recent uptake of low carbon emission buses (LCEBs) in the UK, significant barriers remain to sustained market growth, and there are risks of current progress being disrupted, according to a new report prepared for the UK LowCVP by Transport & Travel Research Ltd, in partnership with TRL.

LCEBs are defined as vehicles producing at least 30% fewer lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions than a current Euro-III-equivalent diesel bus of the same total passenger capacity. The well-to-wheel greenhouse gas emissions, expressed in grams of carbon dioxide equivalent measured over a standard test, take into account both the production of the fuel and its consumption.

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DOE seeking input on commercialization of fuel cells as range extenders for battery-electric vehicles

July 04, 2014

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a Request for Information (RFI) (DE-FOA-0001145) to solicit feedback from industry, academia, research laboratories, government agencies, and other stakeholders on issues related to the technical and economic feasibility of commercializing fuel cell range extenders for available battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) in the US market.

DOE’s office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE) is specifically interested in information on BEV makes and models where an after-market modification to extend the vehicle range using a Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) fuel cell system would be most feasible.

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Ram introduces Doblò-based 2015 Ram ProMaster City van

June 27, 2014

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2015 Ram ProMaster City. Click to enlarge.

Chrysler’s Ram brand introduced the 2015 Ram ProMaster City commercial van. The Ram ProMaster City is based on the Fiat Doblò, a two-time International Van of the Year winner with more than 1.3 million units sold. The new, smaller van joins the ProMaster and Ram Cargo vans, and is intended to provide incremental growth for Ram’s brand sales volumes.

The front-wheel drive 2015 Ram ProMaster City will be offered in two-seat cargo van and five-seat passenger wagon configurations and is powered by the 2.4-liter Tigershark I-4. The engine generates 178 hp (133 kW) at 6,400 rpm with peak torque of 174 lb-ft (236 N·m) at 3,900 rpm.

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US Hybrid awarded contract to deliver plug-in fuel cell shuttle bus to Hawaii County Mass Transit Agency

June 19, 2014

US Hybrid Fuel Cell Shuttle Bus
The hydrogen shuttle bus. Click to enlarge.

California-based US Hybrid Corporation has been awarded a contract by the Hawaii Center for Advanced Transportation Technologies (HCATT) for the design, integration and delivery of its H2Ride Fuel Cell Plug-In Shuttle Bus for operation by the County of Hawaii Mass Transit Agency’s (MTA) HELE-ON Big Island bus service. The project is funded by the State of Hawaii and Office of Naval Research via the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI).

Integrated at US Hybrid’s Honolulu facility, the 25-passenger shuttle bus utilizes a 30 kW fuel cell fueled by a 20 kg hydrogen storage and delivery system. The fuel cell and 28 kWh lithium-ion battery pack power the vehicle’s 200 kW powertrain, air conditioning, and auxiliary systems. Onboard batteries are recharged by regenerative braking as well as grid charging. The US Hybrid fuel cell, powertrain, and vehicle controller optimizes power delivered by the energy storage and fuel cell power plant.

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Lightning Hybrids releases initial emissions testing results for medium-duty hydraulic hybrids

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The Lightning Hybrid system. Click to enlarge.

Lightning Hybrids, a maker of hydraulic hybrid systems for medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses (earlier post), released initial results from emissions testing conducted by an independent testing facility in Colorado of two medium-duty trucks upfitted with the Lighting Hybrids system. The results show decreases in NOx of up to 90% and decreases in CO2 emissions of up to 16% over the same baseline vehicle, depending upon the drive cycle tested.

Lightning Hybrids tested two vehicles: a 2013 Ford E450 6.8-liter V10 and a 2010 GMC 3500 Savana Cutaway 6.0-liter V8. Both vehicles were first tested without Lightning’s hydraulic hybrid system to provide a baseline with which to compare the results with the hybrid system installed.

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US Army, Lockheed Martin complete 2nd autonomous convoy demo; more vehicles, higher speeds. Update w/video.

June 12, 2014

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The AMAS CAD II convoy of driverless trucks. Click to enlarge.

The US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) and Lockheed Martin successfully demonstrated additional capabilities of the Autonomous Mobility Appliqué System (AMAS) at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina by conducting a driverless line-haul convoy with seven military trucks at speeds up to 40 mph (64 km/h).

The recent AMAS CAD II demonstration built upon the capabilities that were demonstrated at Ft. Hood, Texas, in January 2014, where three unmanned military trucks negotiated oncoming traffic, followed rules of the road, recognized pedestrians and avoided various obstacles at speeds up to 25 mph (40 km/h) in an urban environment. (Earlier post.)

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SunLine Transit Agency takes delivery of two new fuel cell buses; 8th generation

June 10, 2014

SunLine Transit Agency of Thousand Palms, CA has taken delivery of two new eight-generation fuel cell buses, each powered by a Ballard FCvelocity-HD6 fuel cell module. These new buses evolve the previously deployed seventh-generation American Fuel Cell Bus (AFCB) configuration, which was first introduced with SunLine Transit Agency in 2011. (Earlier post.) SunLine is a longstanding leader in the deployment of clean transportation technologies in the United States; the agency converted entirely to CNG from diesel more than 20 years ago.

The AFCB has a fuel-cell-dominant hybrid electric propulsion system in a series configuration. The AFCB configuration utilizes Ballard’s FCvelocity-HD6 fuel cell module to provide primary power, in combination with BAE Systems’ HybriDrive propulsion and power management systems deployed in an ElDorado National 40-foot (12-meter) Axess model, heavy duty transit bus.

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2015 Ford Transit offers fuel economy up to 46% better than old E-Series vans

June 06, 2014

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2015 Ford Transit offers up to 46% better fuel economy than the old E-Series. Click to enlarge.

The all-new 2015 Ford Transit delivers as much as 46% better fuel economy than Ford E-Series. Transit goes on sale for the first time at US and Canadian dealerships this summer, eventually replacing the E-Series—the best-selling van for 35 years, first sold in 1961 as Ford Econoline.

Transit comes standard with a 3.7-liter V6 engine, and customers also can choose from an available 3.5-liter EcoBoost or 3.2-liter Power Stroke diesel. When equipped with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine, 2015 Transit low- and medium-roof regular wheelbase wagons deliver a 14 mpg city/19 mpg highway EPA-estimated rating (16.8 and 12.4 l/100 km).

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Study finds V2G-capable electric school buses cost-effective with current technology; financial and environmental benefits

May 29, 2014

Electric school bus fleets with vehicle-to-grid (V2G) capabilities are cost-effective with today’s technology, and could save schools money while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving public health, according to a new study by a team at the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE).

Lance Noel and Regina McCormack conducted a cost-benefit analysis of owning and operating a V2G-capable electric school bus, and compared its cost-effectiveness to a traditional diesel school bus. They analyzed several factors, including fuel expense, electricity and battery costs, health externalities, and frequency regulation market price. The V2G-capable electric bus provides the school savings of $6,070 per seat in net present value ($230,000 per bus over the vehicle’s 14-year lifespan) and becomes a net present benefit after five years of operation. Without externalities (e.g., medical and climate change costs), the net present benefit would be $5,700 per seat.

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California Energy Commission publishes investment plan for alt and renewable fuel and vehicle technology, 2014-2015

May 14, 2014

The California Energy Commission has published the “2014‐2015 Investment Plan Update for the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program”. The 2014‐2015 Investment Plan Update covers the sixth year of the program and reflects laws, executive orders, and policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, petroleum dependence, and criteria emissions. It details how the California Energy Commission, with input from stakeholders and the program Advisory Committee, determines the program’s goal‐driven priorities, coupled with project opportunities for funding.

The Energy Commission held public Advisory Committee workshops to collect feedback on the initial and then revised staff drafts; a lead commissioner report version was released on 8 April 2014, and the Energy Commission adopted this commission report at its Business Meeting on 22 April 2014.

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Cambridge study of near-term alternative London bus technologies finds lean-burn CNG most costly with greater climate impact than diesel

May 01, 2014

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Annual GHG emissions relative to BASE Scenario (BASE Scenario = 949 kt CO2e on a 100-year GWP basis) for differing London bus fleet technology options. Lean-burn CNG is disadvantaged by unburned HC and natural gas pipeline leaks. Credit: ACS, Chong et al. Click to enlarge.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge have conducted a comprehensive environmental cost–benefit analysis of near-term alternative bus technologies. The study considered emissions of non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHC), CO, NOx, PM2.5, sulfur dioxide (SO2), and ammonia (NH3), as well as the lifecycle climate impact of CO2 and non-CO2 greenhouse gases (GHG) on a CO2-equivalent basis.

Their findings indicated that emission control strategy retrofits are the least costly near-term intervention to reduce urban air pollution. Although hybrid buses provide net GHG reductions and air quality improvements, associated costs are higher and more uncertain than emission retrofits. Lean-burn (spark ignition) compressed natural gas (LB-CNG) delivers the lowest health impacts due to the significant reduction of PM2.5, but has relatively high associated CO2e emissions that negate the health benefits, they found. As a result, current LB-CNG vehicles are the most costly of all of the modeled technologies, they concluded. Their study appears in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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Aberdeen takes delivery of first 4 of 10 hydrogen buses

March 24, 2014

The Aberdeen (Scotland) city council has taken delivery of four of the 10 hydrogen buses ordered from Belgian firm Van Hool and to be operated by FirstGroup and Stagecoach as part of the Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project. The others are due to be delivered in the coming weeks; in total, the 10 will represent the largest single operating hydrogen bus fleet. Ballard Power Systems is developing the hydrogen fuel cells for the buses.

The £19-million (US$31 million) Aberdeen City Council-led bus project, which has backing from Europe, the UK Government and the Scottish Government, as well as a broad range of private sector partners, is testing the economic and environmental benefits of hydrogen transport technologies and aims to drive the development of hydrogen technologies.

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New Fuso Canter with EcoEfficiency; up to 9% more fuel efficient; new hybrid

February 25, 2014

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Fuso Canter 7C15 Eco Hybrid, box body. Click to enlarge.

Mitsubishi Fuso, 90% owned by Daimler AG, has improved the performance of its Fuso Canter light-duty truck. With 140,000 units produced worldwide, the Fuso Canter is an international hit in the light-duty-truck sector and easily the best-selling truck model at Daimler Trucks. The new Canter is up to 9% more economical than its predecessor, depending on variant and field of application. At the same time, CO2 emissions have been reduced by a similar amount.

The new Canter offers compliance with Euro 5b+ emissions for the light versions up to 6.0 t permissible GVW and Euro VI for the heavy versions. The “EcoEfficiency” models combined a number of measures available as standard for all Canter model variants. These include higher injection pressure for even more efficient fuel combustion; low-friction engine oil to reduce in-engine friction; an electromagnetic fan clutch; an optimized cooling system; a start/stop system for the engine; a new axle ratio configuration; low rolling-resistance tires for the Euro VI models; and reduced friction losses in the transmission with manual gearshift.

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Initial results from first phase of road trials for 40-ft BYD electric bus in Canada

January 25, 2014

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2013 STO-AVT electric bus test results chart: BYD Electric Bus energy consumption (Wh/km) over speed (km/h). Click to enlarge.

The first phase of a ten-month trial for a 40-foot BYD battery-electric bus (which commenced the Summer of 2013) was completed in Gatineau, Québec and Ottawa, Ontario in December. (Although the bus drive is zero-emissions, in frigid weather bus-heating was supplemented with a small diesel heater integrated into the bus).

The evaluation, performed by the Société de transport de l’Outaouais (STO) in conjunction with AVT (the Société de gestion et d’acquisition de véhicules de transport), found that the average speed of drivers on Gatineau and Ottawa routes was 23 km/h (14 mph), and the resulting distance the BYD bus could travel at this average speed was 250 km (155 miles)—the equivalent of 1.3 kWh/km without air-conditioning and 1.5 kWh/km with air-conditioning, and full passenger loads).

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Mayor of London: all new London taxis will need to be zero-emission capable from 2018

January 16, 2014

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, announced plans that would require all new taxis presented for licensing in the capital to be zero-emission capable from 1 January 2018, with the expectation that they will automatically operate in zero-emission mode while in areas where the capital’s air quality is at its worst—such as parts of central London.

The Mayor confirmed his plan at Transport for London’s (TfL’s) “New Taxis for London” event, at which he met five manufacturers developing zero emission capable taxis—Frazer-Nash, Nissan, Karsan, London Taxi Company and Mercedes-Benz. The new zero-emission capable taxis being developed include both plug-in full series hybrid vehicles and full electric models.

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FTA to award up to $24.9M to low- or no-emissions transit bus projects

January 10, 2014

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced the availability of $24.9 million of Fiscal Year 2013 funds (FTA-2014-001-TRI) for the deployment of low- or no-emission (LoNo) transit buses. Of that amount, $21.6 million is available for buses and $3.3 million is available for supporting facilities and related equipment.

The LoNo Program provides funding for transit agencies for capital acquisitions and leases of zero emission and low-emission transit buses, including acquisition, construction, and leasing of required supporting facilities such as recharging, refueling, and maintenance facilities.

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Plug Power to develop H2 fuel cell range extenders for FedEx Express electric delivery trucks

January 09, 2014

Plug Power Inc., the leading provider of hydrogen fuel cell technology to the materials handling market, will develop hydrogen fuel cell range extenders for 20 FedEx Express electric delivery trucks, allowing FedEx Express to nearly double the amount of territory the vehicles can cover with one charge. (Earlier post.)

This $3-million project is funded by the US Department of Energy (DOE) and includes project partners FedEx Express, Plug Power and Smith Electric Vehicles. The resulting hybrid vehicles will be powered by lithium-ion batteries and a 10 kW Plug Power hydrogen fuel cell system. The fuel cell solution is based on Plug Power’s GenDrive Series 1000 product architecture.

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DOE awarding $7+ million to four hydrogen and fuel cell projects, including fuel cell delivery trucks

December 17, 2013

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is awarding more than $7 million to four projects that will help bring cost-effective, advanced hydrogen and fuel cell technologies online faster for both mobile and stationary applications.

Private industry and DOE’s national laboratories have already helped to reduce automotive fuel cell costs by more than 50% since 2006 and by more than 30% since 2008. Fuel cell durability has doubled and the amount of expensive platinum needed in fuel cells has fallen by 80% since 2005. Building on this progress, the new projects will help further reduce the cost of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, expand fueling infrastructure and build a strong domestic supply chain in the United States. These projects include:

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Two case studies outline how Houston and Loveland are saving money with EVs in their fleets

The Electrification Coalition released two case studies outlining how two cities—Houston, Texas and Loveland, Colorado—are saving money by using electric vehicles (EVs) in their vehicle fleets. The Electrification Coalition, launched in November 2009, is committed to promoting policies and actions that facilitate the deployment of electric vehicles on a mass scale in order to combat the economic, environmental, and national security threats posed by US dependence on petroleum. (Earlier post.)

City officials in Houston estimate that the city’s 27 Nissan LEAF electric vehicles will save the city $110,000 annually compared to internal combustion engine vehicles. A similar study examining Loveland, Colo. found that the city’s LEAFs will cost 41% less to own and operate than gasoline-powered vehicles.

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La Poste testing hydrogen fuel cell range extenders in Renault Kangoo Z.E. mail delivery vehicles

December 11, 2013

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Symbio ALP-5 range extender. Click to enlarge.

The Franche-Comté region and La Poste (the French postal service) are testing hydrogen fuel cell range extender kits from Symbio FCell in three Renault Kangoo Z.E. electric mail delivery vehicles under real working conditions. This system is expected to double the range of the electric cars used for postal delivery.

The three Kangoos Z.E.s with fuel cell range extenders (HyKangoos) will be deployed in the first quarter of 2014 on mail delivery platforms. These vehicles, with a combination of a hydrogen fuel cell and batteries, offer an extended range that performs under demanding conditions: mail routes of 100 km (62 miles) or more through the cold, hilly and mountainous terrain. (The Franche-Comté region borders on Switzerland, with the Vosges mountains to the north and the Jura to the south.)

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