Tesla Partners with College of Marin

During a presentation at Tesla Design Studios in Los Angeles the company unveiled a new Tesla battery that has home, commercial and utility-scale storage applications. College of Marin is the first community college to partner with Tesla to install the new battery storage products on campus.

The college received $5.3 million in government incentives to help cover the costs of site prep, installation of the lithium-ion battery pack, liquid thermal control system, and software that receives dispatch commands from a solar inverter. Concrete slabs will be installed behind the Student Services Building at the Kentfield Campus and near the Main Building at the Indian Valley Campus.

Tesla home batteryVice President Greg Nelson expects installation to begin in mid-May and last until the end of June. Once the stationary batteries are operational, Nelson estimates the cost savings to be anywhere from $100,000-$150,000 annually for the College.

“Leveraging existing relationships made this new partnership possible. Through collaboration with our friends at Marin Clean Energy, we were able to meet the program qualifications and embark on this new venture with Tesla that has been nine months in the making,” said Nelson. “This takes College of Marin to the next stage of energy conservation, moving the College forward as a leader in sustainability. I believe this program will grow, creating opportunities for other community colleges throughout the country.”

“We are proud to partner with Tesla and others in this innovative pilot project,” said Board of Trustees President Wanden Treanor. “College of Marin is honored to help prove the potential for this new energy source while at the same time generating considerable savings to the College’s energy bill. It is another step toward realizing a promise we made to the residents of Marin.”

Bobby Likis to Spotlight Ethanol Exports

likis-logoSyndicated car-talk program “Bobby Likis Car Clinic” will feature a discussion on global demand for U.S. ethanol and its co-products on this week’s globalcast which airs live on Saturday morning March 14.

nec14-patriot-juddJudd Hulting of Patriot Renewable Fuels will talk with Bobby about the operations, products and statistics of Patriot’s ten-year old, ethanol plant located near the Quad Cities and not far from Chicago. “Demand for American-made ethanol and distillers grain is growing worldwide as countries are coming to understand and value the cost-saving and environmental benefits of high-octane ethanol and farmers continue to demand the high-protein distillers grain,” says Hulting, who is the commodities manager at Patriot. Hulting will also talk about Export Green, his recent trade mission to Brazil in collaboration with the U. S. Department of Commerce.

“The advantages to the production and use of ethanol nationally – and export internationally – are striking,” says Likis. “Join us to hear Judd discuss the export of U.S. produced ethanol and his trade mission to Brazil. You may be surprised to learn that E27 (27% ethanol) – up from E25 – is now the baseline for retail gasoline in Brazil.”

To view Hulting’s interview in its entirety, tune it to WatchBobbyLive.com on Saturday, March 14, at 10:25a ET.

Leno Anti Ethanol Rant Raises Eyebrows

Former Tonight Show host, comedian, and car enthusiast Jay Leno is being taken to task by automotive experts for a harshly-worded, negative article in AutoWeek entitled “Can’t We Just Get Rid of Ethanol?”

The thrust of the article is to support reform or elimination of the Renewable Fuel Standard and even attacks farmers.

I just don’t see the need for ethanol. I understand the theory—these giant agri-business companies can process corn, add the resulting blend to gasoline and we’ll be using and importing less gasoline. But they say this diversion of the corn supply is negatively affecting food prices, and the ethanol-spiked gas we’re forced to buy is really awful. The big growers of corn have sold us a bill of goods.

leno-e85-corvetteLeno has been a long-time supporter of renewable fuels. This picture from an April 2008 Popular Mechanics article written by Leno shows him with a 2006 Corvette Z06 that he said “has a top speed of 208 mph and runs on a homegrown alternative to gasoline – cleaner-burning E85 ethanol.”

In this interview with DomesticFuel in 2007, Leno talks about biodiesel specifically but all renewable fuels in general about being good for America and agriculture. “We try to support companies that make products here in America,” he said. “To me, it’s a great thing to see people no longer losing their farms because they can’t make a crop that’s viable anymore …you support the farmers, they watch my TV show, I buy their products.” 2007 Interview with Jay Leno on Renewable Fuels

Syndicated car show host and technician Bobby Likis thinks Leno’s article seems uncharacteristic. “I cannot believe “what Jay said” is “what Jay really believes.” His words smack of otherwise invested horse-whisperers who use personal agendas to sway vulnerable-for-whatever-reason people towards their way,” says Likis in an editorial for the E-xchange Blog refuting all of Leno’s claims.

Bob Reynolds, president of Downstream Alternatives and automotive engine specialist, particularly countered Leno’s claims that ethanol causes corrosion in vintage cars. Reynolds cited a study by Hagerty Insurance and Kettering University’s Advanced Engine Research Lab that concluded “with minor updates and proper maintenance E10 will not prevent the ability to enjoy your collector car.”

Renewable Fuels Association president Bob Dinneen commented on Leno’s apparent biofuels about-face. “Will the real Jay Leno please stand up?,” said Dinneen. “Unfortunately, it appears Leno has fallen victim to the relentless barrage of myths and misinformation about ethanol and classic cars coming from all of the usual suspects.”

Electric Cars Gain Ground in Vehicle Rankings

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has released its 18th annual vehicle environmental ratings on greencars.org. The top rated vehicles for the year were Mercedes-Benz Smart ForTwo Electric Drive Convertible/Coupe with the highest score ever, Chevrolet Spark EV, Fiat 500E, Toyota Prius C and the Nissan Leaf. Six out of 12 places in this year’s Greenest List were claimed by plug-in electric vehicles. This year’s list also features a diverse array of manufacturers: nine different automakers are represented by the 12 top-scoring vehicles, including two American manufacturers (Chevrolet and Ford) and two European manufacturers.

Mercedes-Benz Smart ForTwo Electric Drive Convertible/Coupe wins Greenest Car of 2015 on Greencars.org. Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz Smart ForTwo Electric Drive Convertible/Coupe wins Greenest Car of 2015 on Greencars.org. Photo: Mercedes-Benz

“As the electric vehicle market continues to develop, we’re seeing a number of different options from a variety of automakers, including several from American manufacturers,” said ACEEE lead vehicle analyst Shruti Vaidyanathan.

ACEEE notes at the same time, it’s important to note that some of the Greenest are only being offered in a handful of states, and that the larger classes are not represented. As the list demonstrates, consumers can make greener choices whatever their vehicle needs may be by providing facts that allows a consumer to examine the eco-performance of any 2015 model. The site assigns each vehicle a Green Score, a single measure that incorporates lifecycle greenhouse gas and criteria pollutant emissions. Updates to this year’s methodology include the incorporation of a fuel cell vehicle analysis and a new estimate of nuclear damage costs.

In addition to highlighting the year’s Greenest, Meanest, Greener Choices, and best-in-class lists, the greenercars.org website features informative write-ups on model year 2015 highlights, a consumer primer on vehicles and the environment, and advice on how to buy green when shopping for a new car or truck.

Chevy Premiers Bolt EV Concept

Chevrolet has premiered its Bolt EV concept car, a long-range all-electric vehicle designed to offer more than 200 miles of range starting around $30,000. Leveraging the electrification prowess established by Volt and Spark EV, the Bolt EV concept is designed to offer long-range performance.

“The Bolt EV concept is a game-changing electric vehicle designed for attainability, not exclusivity,” said General Motors CEO Mary Barra. “Chevrolet believes electrification is a 2015 Chevy Bolt EV Concept Carpillar of future transportation and needs to be affordable for a wider segment of customers.”

According to Chevy, drivers will be able to select operating modes designed around preferred driving styles such as daily commuting and spirited weekend cruising. The modes adjust accelerator pedal mapping, vehicle ride height and suspension tuning. The Bolt EV concept is also designed to support DC fast charging.

“We have made tremendous strides in technologies that make it easier and more affordable for Chevrolet customers to integrate an all-electric vehicle in their daily lives,” continued Barra. “The Bolt EV concept demonstrates General Motors’ commitment to electrification and the capabilities of our advanced EV technology.”

Click here to learn more about the Bolt EV.

Propane Autogas Ford Transit Expected in 2015

ford-transitThe Ford Transit 3.7L engine conversion to propane autogas is in development and expected to go in for EPA certification by January 2015, according to Blossman Services, managing member of Alliance AutoGas and exclusive United States distributor of Prins Autogas products.

The Transit will be the first “bolt & plug” conversion to be installed by Blossman Services which says the bi-fuel Prins VSI system conversion will require no intake manifold drilling, cutting, or splicing of wiring. The Ford Transit conversion will go into testing this month.

Replacing the Ford E-Series, the Ford Transit vans and wagons are available in single and dual-rear wheels models, with three body lengths, and three roof heights to choose from. Configurations cover 8, 10, 12 and 15 passenger seating, providing flexible cargo volume and payload options. Compared with the previous Ford full-size E-Series van, the all-new Transit Wagon offers higher fuel economy ratings and is designed to haul cargo or carry people. The 3.7L Ti-VCT V6 surpasses the E-Series standard 4.6L V8 gas engine in EPA estimated highway mpg by 19 percent.

RFA’s Geoff Cooper on Bobby Likis Show

likis-smallThe “Bobby Likis Car Clinic” featured Renewable Fuels Association Senior Vice President Geoff Cooper on show’s live globalcast this past Saturday, November 8.

Cooper addressed a variety of topics including the truth behind the fictional food vs. fuel argument, as well as the hot button issue of greenhouse gas – or GHG – emissions and the role ethanol plays in reducing their output into the ozone. Cooper will also share with Car Clinic audiences the benefits and the commercialization of cellulosic ethanol.

“RFA recently conducted a study that shows while corn prices have plummeted, food prices have remained steady or have risen,” said Cooper. “The petroleum industry would like to pin any increase in food prices on the ethanol industry when in fact it is oil that drives food prices.”

Listen to Cooper’s interview with Bobby here and watch the video below: Bobby Likis interviews RFA's Geoff Cooper

Two-Thirds of New Vehicles Approved for E15

E15-americasAuto manufacturers explicitly approve the use of E15 (15 percent ethanol blend fuel) in approximately two-thirds of new vehicles, according to the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

RFA’s analysis of model year (MY) 2015 warranty statements and owner’s manuals finds that nearly 63 percent of MY 2015 vehicles will have E15 approval from their manufacturers. E15 is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for all 2001 and newer vehicles — accounting for roughly 80 percent of the vehicles on the road today. When coupled with expected MY 2015 flex-fuel vehicle (FFV) production, it is estimated that E15 will be allowed in close to 70 percent of MY 2015 vehicles. Manufacturers approve the use of up to 85 percent ethanol blends in FFVs.

The RFA analysis revealed several interesting trends:

After approving the use of E15 in some of its 2014 Honda and Acura models, Honda Motor Company has extended E15 warranty coverage to all models in 2015.

All Toyota models in 2015 include explicit E15 approval, up from just a fraction of Toyota models in 2014. Just as in 2014, E15 is approved for use in most, but not all, 2015 Lexus models.

For the fourth year in a row, General Motors approves the use of E15 in all models. Similarly, E15 is approved in all Ford models for the third year in a row. Vehicles from these two automakers alone account for roughly one-third of sales in the United States.

Audi, Jaguar, Land Rover, Porsche, and Volkswagen also expressly approved the use of E15 in their 2015 models.

The analysis also found that the Chrysler Group failed for the fourth year in a row to approve the use of E15 in owners’ manuals for its models. Despite that, a significant share of Chrysler output is expected to be FFV-capable, meaning E15 is approved for use in those vehicles.

Simplifying Propane Autogas Dispensers

2014 World LP Gas Forum Photo Album

perc-wlpgf14-superiorOne of the keys to getting more propane-powered vehicles on the road is getting more propane autogas fueling infrastructure and making it safe and simple for users.

Superior Energy Systems offers a whole line of autogas dispensing systems and during a Propane Education & Research Council event at the World LP Gas Forum, Mike Walters talked about how they are making it so easy your grandmother can use it. “The whole idea is to get autogas fueling to the point of being so similar to gasoline that people aren’t afraid of it,” said Walters, showing off what they nicknamed the Granny Nozzle. “It’s so simple that granny can pull into the C-store and fuel up her SUV without having to have personal protective equipment.”

“What we’re talking about here is low emission transfer versus no emission transfer,” Walters said.

Listen to Walters here and watch the video below to see the system. Mike Walters, Superior Energy Systems

PERC Names Top Propane Autogas Green Fleet

alpha-bakingChicago-based Alpha Baking Company received this year’s Propane Autogas Fleet award from the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) at the annual Green Fleet Conference & Expo in Schaumburg, Illinois this week.

The award honors one public or private fleet every year for leadership in sustainability by switching to clean, American-made propane autogas. Alpha Baking, a national bakery products distributor and home to the iconic S. Rosen’s brand, developed and implemented 22 Ford E-450 bread delivery trucks in 2012 with the help of Roush CleanTech.

“Alpha Baking’s primary reason for adopting propane autogas was because it was the right thing to do. Propane autogas reduces harmful emissions, it’s made in the U.S., it reduces our dependency on foreign oil, it’s efficient, and it keeps our communities clean,” said Bob McGuire, Alpha Baking’s vice president and director of logistics, who accepted the award during the Green Fleet Awards ceremony. “Choosing vehicles that run on American-made propane autogas has also allowed us to lower fuel costs without sacrificing performance.”

Hear more about Alpha Baking’s experience with propane autogas in PERC’s latest Straight Talk video at propanestraighttalk.com.