Fly, Fight & Win Includes Electric, Biodiesel & Ethanol

U.S. Air Force tests first all-electric vehicle fleet in CaliforniaMy Air Force brethren are known for being able to fly, fight and win, and now, they’ll be doing it using electric vehicles, biodiesel and ethanol. This news release from the U.S Air Force says the Department of Defense’s first non-tactical vehicle fleet composed entirely of plug-in electric vehicles was unveiled at Los Angeles Air Force Base, California.

The rollout of the 42-vehicle fleet marks a milestone in the DOD’s demonstration of emerging technology and the vehicles will serve as a resource to the electrical grid when they’re not being driven.

“Everything we do to fly, fight and win requires energy, whether it’s aviation fuel for our aircraft or power to run the bases that support them,” said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. “This vehicle-to-grid pilot is a great example of how Airmen are driving the Air Force forward and finding new and innovative ways to make every dollar count.”

The PEV fleet includes both electric and hybrid vehicles ranging from sedans to trucks and a 12-passenger van. The vehicles have the capability to direct power both to and from the electrical grid when they’re not being driven, known as vehicle-to-grid technology. Unique charging stations have been installed on Los Angeles AFB to support the vehicles’ V2G capability…

In addition to the PEV fleet in L.A., the Air Force is also investigating the benefits of other alternative fuel vehicles. More than 9,000 ethanol flex fuel vehicles are in the service’s inventory worldwide, along with 50 biodiesel fuel stations on its installations.

The Air Force plans to expand this demonstration project to Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey.

ChargePoint Now Accepts PayPal

ChargePoint now accepts PayPal. PayPal has long supported electric vehicles (EVs) and has installed 34 ChargePoint ports at their San Jose, California, campus for employees and visitors. The company states by enabling people to pay for a charge using PayPal, they are giving their customers a faster and easier way to pay.ChargePoint-PayPal

ChargePoint stations are independently owned so businesses and individuals are free to set pricing however they prefer. Some station owners prefer to offer charging for free as an amenity or to attract visitors. Others set a price to cover costs or drive revenue. Over half of the 19,000 charging spots on the ChargePoint network are free. When there is a fee to use a station, drivers can pay with their ChargePoint account by adding their credit card. Now, drivers can also use PayPal to get a charge.

“With PayPal as a payment option, it’s even easier for drivers to plug in to a ChargePoint station,” said Pasquale Romano, ChargePoint’s CEO. “Combining the largest network for EV charging with a leader in digital payments means that more drivers can make the switch to electric.”

Now when asked for payment information, drivers can choose PayPal and will be directed to PayPal.com to enter their username and password. To start charging, drivers can use the ChargePoint mobile app or wave their ChargePoint card in front of the station’s card reader. The first time a driver accesses a station that requires a fee, a $25 deposit will be charged to their account and payment will be deducted from that deposit.

Sierra Club Releases EV Finder Tool

Consumers interested in electric vehicles (EVs) now have a way to do their research. A new ‘pick-a-plug‘ web tool has been released by the Sierra Club. The app asks the user a few questions about driving habits and vehicle needs, and then generates a list of Pick a Plug In AppEVs that fit the bill. Sierra Club said there is no overall best EV – the best EV for any given driver depends on how many miles a day the person drives, whether the person takes frequent long trips, whether there is a place to plug in the car, and how much money the person is prepared to spend.

“There are a lot of compelling reasons why more than a quarter million Americans have already bought EVs since they first came on the mass market a few years ago,” said Gina Coplon-Newfield, director of the Sierra Club’s Future Fleet & Electric Vehicles Initiative. “They are cool high-tech wonders, there is little or no need to ever visit a gas station, they are much cheaper to fuel -the equivalent of about $1 a gallon, and they are much better for the environment -even when considering the emissions from the electricity to charge them up.”

Today there is a $2,500-7,500 federal tax credit that comes with the purchase of an EV, and many cities and states offer additional incentives, like a purchase/lease rebate, carpool lane access, and special utility rates for EV drivers. Linked to the new ‘pick-a-plug-in’ web tool is Sierra Club’s online EV Guide where all of this information is available by zip code, as well as a tool that calculates how much carbon emissions and fueling costs the EV will save compared to the average conventional car.

Currently, less than 1 percent of U.S. households have an EV, but according to a poll conducted last year by the Consumers Union and the Union of Concerned Scientists, nearly half of American households could purchase an EV for their next car based on driving needs and access to electrical outlets or EV charging stations.

Panasonic to Install 68 EV Charging Stations

Panasonic is providing engineering, construction and procurement services to Powertree Services Inc. (Powertree) to build 68 electric vehicle charging stations at several multi-unit residential properties in San Francisco, California. The EV charging stations will be powered by solar energy a battery storage component. When complete the EV charging stations will have the ability to supply high power charging to vehicles, ancillary services provided to the utility to support the grid, solar power to tenants and supplemental power to the buildings. The stations are scheduled to be completed by Earth Day 2015.

Powertree EV charging station“Panasonic is committed to driving new technologies and collaborating with entrepreneurs to help bring about renewable energy options and a sustainable future. Our work now will pay off in terms of future economic and other benefits for building owners, and a reduction in greenhouse gases,” said Panasonic Enterprise Solutions’ Jamie Evans, Eco Solutions Managing Director.

When complete, the 68 stations will result in a total installed capacity of 6.1 megawatts of power and 2.5 megawatts of EV charging capacity. Each station is configured to support up to 70 amps or 18 kilowatts. This is roughly equivalent to 60 to 70 miles of range for every hour of charging. The exact rate of charging depends on vehicle models. The stations will be powered by on site photovoltaic panels, and can generate clean energy for building use, or have the ability to provide backup generation, in the event of a grid outage.

Stacey Reineccius, founder and CEO of Powertree, added, “Owners of multi-tenant apartment and mixed use buildings face a rising demand from tenants, drivers and new regulations that combine to require them to install, manage, upgrade electric charging facilities and support electric vehicles. With Powertree Services owners can turn this potentially burdensome situation into new value and offer attractive new amenities for their tenants even in medium to small urban properties with no capital outlay by the property owner.”

BYD Motors Debuts Largest Battery Powered EV

The world has been introduced to the largest batter powered vehicle developed by BYD Motors. The company unveiled the double barreled EV bus during the 2014 American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Expo in Houston, Texas this week. During a ceremony, attendees were invited by VP Michael Austin to, “throw off the shackles of a single-fueled system – an electric platform is ‘adaptable’ – it becomes cleaner as you do, through the use of renewable wind, water and solar renewable power generation.

60-foot BYD transit busAustin challenged the status-quo of those promoting fossil fuels as a clean alternative. “The consequences of our choices today will leave a legacy that our children will live with, both environmentally and economically, for decades into the future.”

The Lancaster eBus, a 60-foot, articulated battery-electric bus, can drive 170+ miles with a passenger load of up to 120 people. “BYD’s mission is to create safer and more environmentally-friendly battery technologies. This has resulted in the BYD Iron-Phosphate Battery, a fire-safe, completely recyclable, and incredibly long-cycle technology — the foundation of BYD’s Electric buses,” BYD Motors Fleet Sales Vice President, Brendan Riley. “These buses run entirely off battery power lasting up to 24 hours on a single charge, with single off-peak charging time of 2-4 hours. No additional generation capacity is needed to be built to charge our buses at night since the grid is only 40% utilized.

Also on display at the BYD Exhibit was a 40-foot, Battery-electric Transit bus from Antelope Valley Transit Authority. AVTA Board Chairman Norm Hickling boasted that the 40-foot bus on the Expo show floor was the only bus, “that drove over 1500 zero-emission miles from Los Angeles all the way to Houston for the Expo under its own power.”

AVTA tested BYD buses in the hottest part of the Lancaster, California summer in August with full air-conditioning running and with 5250 pounds of sand bags to simulate a full passenger load. Hickling added, “We drove nearly 100 miles more than BYD advertises — up to 250 miles per bus charge and we covered almost 750 miles in 24 hours! We are very impressed with BYD technology and quality. The most interesting news about this 1500 mile journey to Texas is that it was completed for $200 in electricity–the lowest cost trip to the show of all buses.”

“PUMP” Coming to a Theater Near You

There is a new documentary coming to a theater near you: PUMP. The film tells the story of America’s addiction to oil. Stories told range from Standard Oil’s illegal tactics to the dominance of oil companies. The goal of the film is to explain why and how consumers can end Big Oil’s monopoly and “win choice at the pump”.

According to the movie’s website, gasoline is our only option of transportation fuel today. With global demand rising and the continued dependence on gas our wallets are thinning. In addition, air pollution is getting worse and Americans are fighting wars in oil-rich countries.

PUMP shows consumers how making a variety of replacement fuels widely available will reduce fuel prices across the board. Diversifying the market with replacement fuels that are cheaper, cleaner and American made will also create jobs, strengthening the economy at home and promoting stability abroad.

The movie features experts including John Hofmeister, former President of Shell Oil Co.; Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, Inc.; Peter Goldmark, former president of the Rockefeller Foundation; our colleague Jim Lane and other noteworthy figures.

To see where the movie is headed and to buy tickets, visit the PUMP website.

Charged by Biodiesel, Electric Bike Sets Record

killajoule1The world’s fastest electric motorcycle gets its power from a biodiesel-fueled generator. This article from Torque News says Eva Hakansson made a 270 mph run at Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah in the KillaJoule electric streamliner motorcycle, making it the the fastest electric motorcycle in the world, and its pilot the fastest woman on a motorcycle.

Making its runs and then returning for a recharge from a biodiesel generator as the chutes got repacked and the ice water cooling system was flushed and refilled, the KillaJoule needs little attention outside of these maintenance items between runs. Yet this motorcycle, one of the simplest machines on the raceway, beats all but the smallest handful in speed.

The Shootout had the KillaJoule smashing its own 240 mph record with a phenomenal 270.224 mph average. The team believes that this speed is as fast as the motorcycle can go in its current configuration. The team plans to call this a race year and return to the garage for more tinkering to see if they can’t improve aerodynamics, push a little more juice out of the batteries, and otherwise work towards a 300 mph goal for 2015.

Hakansson says she might shoot to break that 300 mph barrier as early as next year.

Volvo Releases All Electic Hybrid Bus

Volvo will be introducing its new 7900 Electric Hybrid during the International IAA Commercial Vehicles show in September 25-October 22 in Hannover. The EV bus is silent, cleaner and with significantly lower fuel consumption and Volvo has already signed contracts with several European cities for the first deliveries.

Volvo Electric Vehicle Hybrid Bus“I am very proud to launch this ground-breaking bus system. Electric-hybrid buses and full-electric buses are tomorrow’s solution for urban public transport. They will allow us to reduce energy consumption, air pollution, climate impact and noise, which are some of the biggest challenges facing large cities worldwide,” said Håkan Agnevall, President Volvo Bus Corporation.

Noise is a growing problem in many cities. The noise level beside an Electric Hybrid is 65 decibels, that is to say normal conversation level. The Volvo 7900 Electric Hybrid runs in electric mode on average 70 percent of the route, silent and emission-free.

The Volvo 7900 Electric Hybrid offers flexibility in operation; it can run as an electric bus in selected areas, but performs as a hybrid on any route. Charging at end stations takes 6 minutes. A number of European cities are showing a keen interest in Volvo’s Electric Hybrids. Hamburg, Luxembourg and Stockholm will implement the new bus system in 2014 and 2015. Series production is scheduled to start in early 2016.

ChargePoint Shows Increase in Campus EV Charging

College and university students are back in school around the country and this fall, more students, professors and employees than ever before have access to electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. ChargePoint, an open EV charging network, has released new data showing an increase in on-campus EV charging.

ChargePoint DashboardToday there are 1,134 charging spots at colleges and universities on the ChargePoint network. That’s up nearly 35 percent, with just 838 at this time last year. On-campus EV charging is still relatively new, with the first ChargePoint station installed at the end of 2010 at Pasadena City College.

“American universities are often our hubs of innovation and technology,” said Pasquale Romano, ChargePoint’s CEO. “It is no wonder adoption of electric vehicles and charging infrastructure has prospered on college campuses. Our data demonstrates which colleges and universities are leading the way when it comes to supporting low and zero emission vehicles. We hope this helps spur friendly competition between campuses to be the greenest institutions in the world.”

With 38 on-campus charging spots, the University of California at Davis has the most of any university on the ChargePoint network.

Here are the top 5 colleges and universities with the most ChargePoint EV charging spots:

  • University of California at Davis: 38
  • Towson University, Maryland: 36
  • Santa Clara University, California: 26
  • Western Michigan University: 22
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology: 21

Click here to see the full list of on-campus EV charging stations.

National EV Sales Exceed Quarter Million Mark

Electric vehicle (EVs) sales have reached the quarter-million mark in the U.S. this week, just ahead of the fourth annual National Drive Electric Week taking place September 15-21, 2014.

Nissan Leaf“Clean energy prosperity is on the way and there’s no turning back,” said Sierra Club director Michael Brune. “National Drive Electric Week and the dramatic increase in the number of plug-in electric vehicles on the road are just the latest examples of how American consumers are demanding 21st-century solutions to energy and the climate crisis, and given the choice would leave dirty fossil fuels in the ground.”

The global event is designed to highlight the fun, convenience, cost-savings and clean-air benefits of EVs, National Drive Electric Week is organized nationally by Plug In America, the Sierra Club and the Electric Auto Association. These organizations team up with other local groups and volunteers staging local events from Hawaii to Vermont, where EV sales continue to be robust.

“Plug-in vehicles have had a good year,” said John O’Dell, senior editor, fuel efficiency and Green Vehicles at Edmunds.com. “Despite a slowdown in the conventional hybrid segment, battery-electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are up about 39 percent over last year. They remain a tiny part of the market–less than a one-percent share–but more and more people seem to be considering them as they shop for fuel efficient transportation.”

Sharing the message abroad, at least one city in the Netherlands, five in Italy and 10 in Canada will take part in National Drive Electric Week (formerly National Plug In Day). Events are collectively expected to draw at least 35,000 attendees, including elected officials. Proclamations will be plentiful.

But the main point, according to National Drive Electric Week is to have a good time, with seasoned EV drivers taking those new to the cars for a spin.