[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.]
Honda and Ford separately launching smart home demos
April 24, 2013
American Honda Motor Co., Inc. will create the Honda Smart Home US, a showcase that demonstrates Honda’s vision for sustainable, zero-carbon living and personal mobility, including the use of solar power to charge a Honda Fit EV battery electric vehicle. The site is on the campus of the University of California, Davis; the building process will be documented and shared through the Honda Smart Home US website.
Separately, Ford Motor Company and KB Home announced that products from the Ford-led initiative MyEnergi Lifestyle (earlier post) will be featured in the homebuilder’s ZeroHouse 2.0 model home in San Marcos, Calif., and potentially in additional KB Home markets.
SMART: working for a systems-based approach to sustainable mobility; Alcoa Foundation support for practical solutions in Beijing and Detroit
March 18, 2013
One of the key messages of the US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Transportation Energy Futures (TEF) project (earlier post) is that deep cuts in transportation petroleum consumption and emissions are dependent on combined reductions across three factors: vehicle fuel consumption (modes); fuel carbon intensity (fuels); and vehicle use (service demand). In other words, while vehicle and fuel technologies clearly play a major role, so does demand reduction and the development of smarter, sustainable transportation systems. Of 9 reports from the TEF project, four deal with reducing transportation demand.
SMART (Sustainable Mobility & Accessibility Research & Transformation), a project of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) and TCAUP, the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, is in its ninth year of working on the problem highlighted by the demand-reduction elements of the TEF project—catalyzing systematic and fundamental transformations of mobility / accessibility systems by uncovering a set of “tipping points” along with integrated (not single-fix) solutions guiding the evolution of such systems.
Ford launches FORD2GO car sharing program with its German dealer network; Ford poll shows 56% of Europeans would consider car sharing
March 04, 2013
Ford of Germany has signed a cooperation agreement with the German Ford dealers association FHD GmbH and DB Rent GmbH—the company behind Flinkster car sharing—for a new car sharing platform. FORD2GO will be the first automotive manufacturer-backed, nationwide car sharing program incorporating dealerships.
The program calls for participating Ford dealers across Germany to offer cars and sharing services to customers in their town, allowing easy access to shared cars and offering the chance for potential customers to experience Ford vehicles. Daimler, with its car2go effort, was an early OEM entrant into car-sharing. (Earlier post.) BMW is also exploring car-sharing services (earlier post), as is GM (earlier post) and Toyota (earlier post), but none have directly involved their dealer network at this point as Ford is.
Audi and BMW Group join Aluminium Stewardship Initiative; seeking a standard for sustainable aluminum
February 28, 2013
AUDI AG and the BMW Group, along with Hydro and Rexam, have joined the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI) to help develop a global standard for sustainable aluminum. Aluminium is the world’s second most used metal after steel, and is of specific importance to the automotive industry due to its combination of its light weight, durability and strength.
The Aluminium Stewardship Initiative was founded in the autumn of 2012 and aims to develop the first version of a sustainability standard for aluminum by the end of 2014, with the support of the environmental organization IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). Founding members of the Initiative are AMCOR Flexibles, AMAG, Constantia Flexibles, Constellium, Nespresso, Rio Tinto Alcan, and Tetra Pak.
Deutsche Telekom and IBM to integrate Machine-to-Machine communication and Smarter Cities data analysis technology for enhanced city services
February 23, 2013
Deutsche Telekom and IBM are collaborating to provide an integrated solutions portfolio that enables cities to make smarter use of their services through intelligent data capture and analysis. The Smarter Cities solutions will build on IBM’s Smarter Cities expertise (earlier post) and “big data” analysis capabilities combined with Deutsche Telekom’s global Machine-to-Machine (M2M) capabilities, which include M2M solutions integration and advanced network connectivity.
M2M communication technology facilitates the automated exchange of information between terminal equipment such as machines, vehicles and containers or with a central control center—i.e., an “Internet of Things.” By using sensors embedded in a wide array of systems serving the public—such as a traffic lights, public transport vehicles or parking spaces—M2M technology can report on the status of the system being monitored via the Internet in real-time.
Honda Transmission contracts with Juhl Wind for two utility-scale wind turbines at Ohio plant; up to 10% of electricity for operations
January 25, 2013
Honda Transmission Mfg. of America, Inc. announced an agreement with Juhl Wind, Inc. to develop, install, and operate two utility-scale wind turbines (each rated at about 2MW) to generate electricity for the plant’s operations.
The plant manufactures automatic transmissions, gears and four-wheel-drive systems, including the next-generation Earth Dreams transmission technology. The two wind turbines will supply up to approximately 10% of the plant’s electricity. Based on their location and actual wind speeds, combined output from the two wind turbines is estimated at 10,000-megawatt hours (MWh) per year.
Volkswagen inaugurates 9.5 MW solar park at Chattanooga plant in US; key element of VW Group’s strategic sustainability targets
January 24, 2013
|The 9.5 MW solar park at Chattanooga is owned and operated by Silicon Ranch; VW has signed a 20-year power purchase agreement. Click to enlarge.|
Volkswagen inaugurated its largest solar facility in the world—also the largest solar facility operated by an automaker in the US—at its plant in Chattanooga, TN, which produces the Passat model for North America. The Volkswagen Chattanooga Solar Park has a peak output of 9.5 MW. The power will be used directly in production; solar power will provide up to 12.5% of the electric power required in full-capacity operation and 100% of demand when the plant is not in production.
The new solar park is an integral part of Volkswagen’s worldwide sustainability strategy, which includes generating more power within the Group from renewable energy sources, said Volkswagen Group Officer for the Environment, Energy and New Business Areas, Wolfram Thomas.
MacArthur Foundation grant supports Urban Center for Computation and Data
January 20, 2013
A new Chicago-based research center using advanced computational methods to understand the rapid growth of cities will receive a $500,000 grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The funds help launch the Urban Center for Computation and Data (UrbanCCD), an initiative of the Computation Institute (CI) dedicated to data-driven urban research, planning and design.
Announced in December 2012, UrbanCCD was initially funded by a $600,000-grant from the National Science Foundation and unites researchers from several Chicago institutions, city officials and private enterprise with the Computation Institute (CI), a joint initiative between the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory.
NHTSA proposes new minimum sound requirements for hybrid and electric vehicles
January 08, 2013
As required by the bipartisan Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010 (PSEA), the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has proposed minimum sound standards for hybrid and electric vehicles.
The proposed standard, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 141, would fulfill Congress’ mandate in the PSEA that hybrid and electric vehicles—including passenger cars, light trucks and vans (LTVs), medium- and heavy-duty trucks, buses, low speed vehicles (LSVs), and motorcycles—produce sounds meeting the requirements of this standard.
ISU study finds large potential for biobased materials in auto industry, but with challenges
December 16, 2012
A study by researchers at Iowa State University has determined that the automotive industry has a very large potential to utilize biobased materials. Their report, “Biobased Automobile Parts Investigation”, was developed for the USDA Office of Energy Policy and New Uses. Because SUVs and trucks have a large number of parts, the authors suggested, they are good candidates to be the vehicle types with the largest amount of biobased material on a part number basis.
To create the largest impact, the researchers concluded, emphasis should be placed on the largest producers of vehicles; the five largest producers of automotive vehicles in the United States are General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Chrysler, and Honda. However, they noted, there are also many challenges associated with the use of biobased parts in the auto industry.
Study identifies social policy as important factor in national environmental performance
November 19, 2012
|Theoretical flowchart linking SP to HREP. * Indicates motivation to act environmentally for the benefit of the valued object: other human beings (voting and political actions). Credit: ACS, Kerret and Shvartzvald. Click to enlarge.|
A country’s social policy (SP) plays an important role in explaining differences in the environmental performance (EP) of countries, according to a new study by Dorit Kerret and Renana Shvartzvald at Tel-Aviv University.
The paper, published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, tries to unravel factors that explain national differences in EP by using quantitative data to examine factors affecting the EP of a broad sample of country-wide data. To avoid the variability of performance measures encountered by previous studies, Kerret and Shvartzvald proposed three categories of EP indicators: human-related EP (HREP) (related to environmental health harm); ecology-related EP (EREP); and global-related EP (GREP). They used the EP Index (EPI) as a measure of outcomes.
NYU-BMW i report explores future urban mobility; sustainability and resilience
November 13, 2012
A new study released by BMW i and New York University (NYU) finds that, in the coming years and decades, fundamental changes in the demographic makeup of cities will profoundly alter the way people travel.
This report, prepared by the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management at NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service with the assistance of Appleseed, a New York City-based consulting firm, examines several aspects of the challenge of urban mobility in the twenty-first century: the growth of the world’s urban population, and changes in the characteristics of that population; emerging patterns of urban mobility; and changes in technology design and connectivity.
NREL launches new alternative transportation web tools; planning, maps, data
November 10, 2012
The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has launched a new tool and redesigned DOE’s Alternative Fuels Data Center Web site to help fleet managers, municipalities and consumers choose from a variety of alternative fuels and energy efficiency strategies for reducing petroleum use, vehicle emissions, and operating costs.
The AFDC’s new Petroleum Reduction Planning Tool is an interactive Web application that allows fleet managers to evaluate the benefits associated with five alternative fuels—biodiesel, electricity, ethanol, natural gas and propane—along with a variety of efficiency measures, such as idle reduction and fuel economy improvements.
NRC report finds that large-scale production of algal biofuels poses sustainability concerns; not a definitive barrier
October 24, 2012
Scaling up the production of algal biofuels to meet at least 5%—approximately 39 billion liters—of US transportation fuel needs would place unsustainable demands on energy, water, and nutrients, according to a new report from the National Research Council. However, these concerns are not a definitive barrier for future production, the report says; innovations that would require research and development could help realize algal biofuels’ full potential.
The committee that wrote the report said that concerns related to large-scale algal biofuel development differ depending on the pathways used to produce the fuels. Producing fuels from algae could be done in many ways, including cultivating freshwater or saltwater algae, growing algae in closed photobioreactors or open-pond systems, processing the oils produced by microalgae, or refining all parts of macroalgae.
ERTOC: optimizing CO2 of shipments down to an individual consignment level
October 22, 2012
|ERTOC 7.5-tonne demonstrator. Click to enlarge.|
The Efficient and Reliable Transportation of Consignments (ERTOC) project, a two-year research collaboration between Ricardo, GS1 UK, Unipart Logistics, IRIS Technology and Coventry University, has delivered a viable prototype demonstrator. The goal of ERTOC was to develop a standards-based open-architecture data hub to enable freight users and operators to make more informed choices based on the efficiency and increased awareness of the true financial and environmental cost of transporting goods.
The data hub integrates driver behavior monitoring and coaching, consignment tracking and vehicle tracking and fleet management using telematics-based services. Information from each of these functions is provided via a platform-independent, open application program interface (API).
Toyota begins testing optimized urban transport system
October 01, 2012
|Ha:mo Ride EV-sharing station. Click to enlarge.|
Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC), in cooperation with the Toyota City municipal government, transportation companies and others, began testing of an optimized urban transportation system called “Ha:mo” (“harmonious mobility”). The system will select optimal means of transport for users based on the operational status of public transport systems and traffic conditions.
Vehicle-sharing stations are to be installed at four locations within Toyota City, providing a car-sharing service using COMS (“Chotto Odekake Machimade Suisui”, or “smooth, short rides into town”) ultra-compact single-occupant electric vehicles (EVs) manufactured by Toyota Auto Body Co., Ltd. (Earlier post.)
Global auto production may hit 80+ million units this year; hybrids below 2% of total output
September 11, 2012
|Worldwide light-duty vehicle production. Source: Worldwatch. Click to enlarge.|
Production of light-duty passenger vehicles (cars and light trucks) rose from 74.4 million in 2010 to 76.8 million in 2011, and 2012 may bring an all-time high of 80 million or more vehicles, according to new research conducted by the Worldwatch Institute for its Vital Signs Online service. Hybrids remain below 2% of total vehicle output.
Global sales of passenger vehicles increased from 75.4 million to 78.6 million over the same period, with a projected 81.8 million in 2012, writes report author and Worldwatch Senior Researcher Michael Renner. The major driver of increased production and sales are the emerging economies, especially China.
LowCVP announces winners of Low Carbon Urban Mobility Technology Challenge
September 04, 2012
The UK’s Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) has announced six winners of the Low Carbon Urban Mobility Technology Challenge—a competition to identify and promote low carbon innovations with the potential to cut carbon emissions and other environmental impacts arising from transport in cities.
The winning ideas proffer solutions to the problems posed by the need to travel in crowded urban areas. The proposals include a lightweight, driverless electric bus; a system to improve the efficiency of urban freight transport; a bus-taxi hybrid (a “buxi”); a low carbon, community-managed car club; plus two variants of lightweight, single seat electric vehicles.
BMW launches ParkNow mobile parking service; more details on DriveNow electric car-sharing service
August 20, 2012
At a press conference with San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, BMW Group Member of the Board Dr. Ian Robertson announced the upcoming launch of ParkNow, a mobile parking solution that is a joint venture with Urban Mobility; and also provided new details about DriveNow, a new premium car-sharing service which features a fleet of BMW ActiveE all-electric vehicles. San Francisco serves as the initial US market for each service.
There are an estimated 505,000 vehicles in San Francisco, yet only 448,000 parking spaces available at any given time. On weekdays, the total vehicle population increases by approximately 35,000. An estimated one-third of all downtown traffic on weekdays is due to vehicles searching for a parking spot.
Daimler invests in ridesharing network carpooling.com
July 26, 2012
Daimler AG is investing in the ridesharing network carpooling.com GmbH. The main shareholders will continue to be the company’s three founders, as well as venture capital firm Earlybird. The capital investment will serve primarily the development and expansion of carpooling.com’s mobility solutions.
carpooling.com is the leading ridesharing network, with 4 million registered users, transporting 1 million people a month across Europe. The platform is available on the Internet, on smartphone apps and Facebook. The company brings together ride-sharers for both medium- and long-distance trips, as well as for commuting. Profiles and ratings give users some insight into with whom they are traveling. In addition to rides, the company’s platform also offers bus, rail and airline tickets.
Ford developing a strategy to address urban personal mobility globally; a mobility company, not just an auto company
July 15, 2012
|Rough map of Ford’s Blueprint for Mobility. Click to enlarge.|
Ford Motor Company is mapping out a strategy to address the requirements for personal mobility in the context of the megatrend of increasing global urbanization, both in mature economies as well as in emerging markets. If Ford thinks of itself as a mobility company, rather than just an auto company, said Ford Chairman Bill Ford at the recent, second annual “Go Further with Ford” trend conference, “that really opens up possibilities.”
The Ford chairman had already begun talking about the future of urban personal mobility in the context of ever-increasing congestion at the TED2011 conference in Long Beach. During his keynote address at the 2012 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this year, he outlined a plan for connected cars to help avoid a potential future of what he called “global gridlock—a never-ending traffic jam that wastes time, energy and resources.” (Earlier post.) At the Go Further with Ford conference, he expanded on a broader vision for personal urban mobility supported by an integrated network of different modes of transportation optimized for cities of the future.
TomTom launches Congestion Index based on traffic database; congestion levels in 57 cities in North America and Europe
July 11, 2012
TomTom, the leading supplier of in-car location and navigation products and services, launched its first quarterly Congestion Index. The Index accurately identifies and analyzes traffic congestion in 57 major cities across North America and Europe.
The Index is uniquely based on real time travel data captured by vehicles driving along the entire road network within the select cities. TomTom’s traffic database contains more than six trillion data measurements and is growing by five billion measurements every day. The Congestion Index compares travel time during non-congested periods (free flow) with travel times in peak hours. The difference is expressed as a percentage increase in travel time, representing the congestion level.
UNEP and partners launch Global Initiative for Resource-Efficient Cities; role of public transport
June 26, 2012
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and partners have launched a new initiative that aims to reduce pollution levels, improve resource efficiency and reduce infrastructure costs in cities across the world.
Up to 80% of the world population is expected to reside in cities by 2050. This second wave of urbanisation is projected to see more than 3 billion additional people living in cities in a time-span of just 80 years, primarily in Africa and Asia. In such a rapidly urbanizing world, cities are increasingly becoming the focus of international sustainability efforts.
EPA researcher calls for development of evaluation methodologies and tools to understand positive and negative impacts of algae industry
June 22, 2012
While algae are among the most potentially significant sources of sustainable biofuels in the future of renewable energy, issues remain regarding human exposure to algae-derived toxins, allergens, and carcinogens from both existing and genetically modified organisms (GMOs), as well as the overall environmental impact of GMOs, according to a critical literature review paper by Marc Y. Menetrez of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Risk Management Research Laboratory, Air Pollution Prevention and Control Division.
In a paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology Menetrez identifies and discusses human exposure and environmental impact issues, as well as current research and development activities of academic, commercial, and governmental groups.
Honda to begin reuse of rare earth metals extracted from used NiMH batteries before year end; targeting extraction from motors and Li-ion batteries as well
June 20, 2012
|Flow of the reuse of rare earth metals Honda is striving to achieve. Click to enlarge.|
Honda Motor Co., Ltd., which has been extracting rare earth metals from used nickel-metal hydride batteries at the plant of Japan Metals & Chemicals Co., Ltd. from April of this year, plans to begin reusing the extracted metals before the end of 2012.
Honda will pursue the recycling of precious resources by reusing extracted rare earth metals not only for nickel-metal hydride batteries, but also for use in a wide range of parts. Further, in disassembly process of used nickel-metal hydride batteries, Honda is considering efforts to recover any residual voltage from the used nickel-metal hydride batteries and use it as regenerative voltage for the disassembly process.
NRC report concludes hydraulic fracturing poses low risk for causing earthquakes, but risks are higher for wastewater injection wells; CCS impact undetermined
June 17, 2012
Earthquakes attributable to human activities are called “induced seismic events” or “induced earthquakes.” Hydraulic fracturing has a low risk for inducing earthquakes that can be felt by people, but underground injection of wastewater produced by hydraulic fracturing and other energy technologies has a higher risk of causing such earthquakes, according to a new report from the National Research Council.
In addition, carbon capture and storage may have the potential for inducing seismic events, because significant volumes of fluids are injected underground over long periods of time. However, insufficient information exists to understand the potential of carbon capture and storage to cause earthquakes, because no large-scale projects are as yet in operation. The committee that wrote the report said continued research will be needed to examine the potential for induced seismicity in large-scale carbon capture and storage projects.
Bill Ford: Michigan must become the Silicon Valley of the mobility revolution; emphasis on green and smart technologies
June 02, 2012
In an address at the 2012 Mackinac Policy Conference, Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman Bill Ford said that “Michigan must become the Silicon Valley of the mobility revolution” and outlined key public policy areas to help improve the state’s competitiveness and ensure that the state realizes the full benefit of that impending revolution.
Ford told the delegates that the trends emerging in manufacturing, green technology and mobility demonstrate a great opportunity for Michigan to create a dynamic, diverse and growing economy that affirms the state as a global innovation center. He also described urban mobility specifically as the greatest opportunity for Michigan. Ford believes that tackling this challenge will pave a future for Michigan akin to the birth of a new Silicon Valley.