Freightliner Introduces First Hybrid-Electric Class A Motorhome

winnebagoadventurerhybrid2Looking to make a cleaner world and give better mileage to its customers, Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation (FCCC) has introduced the first hybrid-electric Class A motorhome chassis in the industry.

This company press release says the innovative ecoFRED™ chassis shows significant improvements in fuel economy compared with traditional gas pullers:

Fulfilling the tagline “Driven by You,” the ecoFRED prototype was engineered to address environmental and fuel-savings priorities identified by FCCC’s motorhome customers. ecoFRED also is in line with Daimler AG’s (Daimler) “Shaping Future Transportation” global initiative focused on reducing pollutants and fuel consumption.

Equipped with the Eaton® hybrid-electric system, ecoFRED features all the attributes FCCC customers have come to expect from the FRED™ motorhome chassis.

ecoFRED, so named because of its increased fuel economy and ecological/ environmental benefits, has the additional benefits of significantly less brake wear due to regenerative braking, leading to lower replacement costs. It also boasts better acceleration and increased towing capacity, and operates similar to driving an automatic transmission.

The release goes on to point out that the RV was built in collaboration with Winnebago:

Bob Olson, Winnebago Industries chairman, CEO and president added, “Winnebago Industries has a rich tradition of creating innovative fuel-efficient motorhomes, and we’re pleased to have partnered with Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation on developing the ecoFRED chassis concept used in our Winnebago Adventurer Hybrid concept vehicle.”

Downstream of Mighty Mo Could Become Power Generator

A downstream portion of the Missouri River could join the upper part of the river in becoming a major power generator in this country.

This story from the Columbia (MO) Daily Tribune says a Massachusetts-based company is hoping to harness the hydrokinetic energy the river produces… without the massive dams seen in the Dakotas and Montana:

Free Flow Power Corp. wants to plant thousands of small turbines underwater and use the rotation of turbine blades to produce clean energy. It has requested preliminary permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to study 25 regions of the river for the feasibility of generating electricity.

Nationwide, the company has requested permits to study more than 100 spots along the Missouri, Mississippi and Ohio rivers.

The river segment nearest Columbia, a stretch of about 10.5 miles, is proposed as the site of as many as 6,300 Free Flow turbines that could generate enough electricity to power more than 100,000 homes.

Additional sites along the Missouri River could be home to hundreds of more turbines.

Regulatory challenges and characteristics of the river could be the biggest hurdles the company would have to clear to make the project a reality. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Army Corps of Engineers… among others… would have to sign off on the project. And there’s lots of debris in the river that could damage the turbines, and, of course, ice in the winter could do some real damage unless the blades are far enough under water… a tough proposition in a river known for varying depths. But the upside is one turbine could replace 147 tons of coal a year.

Top Ethanol Producer Addresses Farm Forum

The head of the world’s largest ethanol producing company was keynote speaker at 12th Annual Farm Journal Forum in Washington D.C. today.

POETPOET CEO Jeff Broin says his company is considering various options to purchase ethanol plants, although he would not specifically comment on rumors that they might buy the bankrupt VeraSun or any of its assets.

“There are a lot of opportunities out there. We have looked at dozens of options over the last six months and we will continue to look at all of the options,” Broin said.

Broin remains optimistic about the ethanol industry despite shrinking margains that are now making ethanol more expensive than gasoline.

“I’ve personally produced ethanol at $10 per barrel oil,” Broin said. “At $4 corn, we can beat $60 oil prices. As oil falls below that it will have some effect on grain prices.” Today oil futures were $47 a barrel while December corn futures were just over $3.48 a bushel.

While the short term may look bleak, Broin says long term he expects to see a very successful industry.

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving From ZimmComm New MediaIt’s time to take a break in the action from all the news and information in the alternative fuels business. In case you haven’t seen it, you might want to check out the History Channels, Modern Marvels – The Turkey, since it features a segment on turning turkey waste into fuel!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving from ZimmComm New Media.

And just in case you want to know more, here’s what Wikipedia says about it:

Thanksgiving, or Thanksgiving Day, is a harvest festival. Traditionally, it’s a time to give thanks for the harvest and express gratitude in general. Thanksgiving is a North American holiday with the dates and whereabouts of the first Thanksgiving celebration a topic of modest contention. It has generally become a national secular holiday with religious origins. Though the earliest attested Thanksgiving celebration was on September 8, 1565 in what is now Saint Augustine, Florida[1][2], the traditional “first Thanksgiving” is venerated as having occurred at the site of Plymouth Plantation, in 1621.

Today, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October in Canada and on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States. Thanksgiving dinner is held on this day, usually as a gathering of family members.

EPA, UPS Team Up for Green Brown Trucks

""Shipping giant UPS has teamed up with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to put more eco-friendly delivery trucks on the road.

""This story from CNN says UPS will order some new vehicles that uses technology developed by the feds, namely, a hydraulic hybrid system:

The Environmental Protection Agency holds many of the patents on the innovative technology, which was developed in an EPA fuel-emissions lab in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with the help of engineers from Eaton Corp., which designs hydraulics systems.

"This vehicle to my right may look like a brown package truck that you'd see every day in your neighborhood," said UPS Chief Operating Officer David Abney, standing beside a prototype of the hybrid truck at a news conference Monday. "But underneath the hood is a whole different kind of technology."

The trucks combine a diesel engine with a unique hydraulic propulsion system that replaces the conventional drivetrain and transmission. Using hydraulic pumps and storage tanks, the vehicle captures and stores energy the way a battery does on an electric hybrid car.

The motor converts pressure from the hydraulic fluid into rotating power for the wheels and uses stored energy to accelerate the vehicle, thereby recovering more than 70 percent of the energy normally wasted during braking.

The article goes on to say that the design is perfect for the stop-and-start driving UPS does in cities. The first truck will hit the road in Minneapolis soon after the first of the year.

Reaching out: as the audience diversifies, MTV networks scores points at connecting with its many segments.(MTV Networks: targeting the multicultural customer)(Music Television)

Multichannel News September 20, 2004 MULTICULTURAL MARKETING. CABLE OPERATORS HAVE HEARD ABOUT IT FOR DECADES BUT IT’S ONLY IN THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS THAT MOST HAVE REALIZED IT HOLDS THE KEY TO A BIG PART OF THEIR FUTURE SUBSCRIBER GROWTH As the U.S. population continues towards a much more diverse mix of racial, ethnic and social backgrounds, cable companies must work harder than ever to reach out to important segments of their audience. Most know the first step in accomplishing that goal: offer programming that grabs viewers and connects with them each time they tune in.

All of this adds up to growing demand for shows that can pull off that vital connection, and that’s a trend that bodes well for MTV Networks.

Known since its early days as a company that stays tuned to its viewers’ every whim, MTVN has been honing its skills at serving the needs of increasingly diverse audience segments. website keenan and kel

Hence, the growing viewership at VH1 includes a sizable complement of African Americans, who didn’t used to consider the network an entertainment option, but now routinely do. Ditto MTV2, where a hip approach to hip hop fans has helped produce the highest ratings in the network’s history.

MTVN’s multicultural roots go way back. At the flagship network, pioneering shows like Real World have included racially diverse casts since their creation two decades ago, while Nickelodeon’s first original series, Clarissa Explains It All, smashed the long-held axiom that boys wouldn’t watch a show built around a female main character.

Today, the diversification continues and the audience has taken notice. A recent Horowitz Urban Market study singled out MTV as the top brand among Hispanic young people, while a Beta Research survey found the same group of viewers ranks MTV Espanol and VH Uno first and second among their favorite Spanish language digital networks.

VH1 Soul, another digital channel, has cultivated a unique audience of upscale, high income African Americans, while MTV Jams puts a 24-hour-a-day spotlight on one of the most influential contemporary music genres: hip hop.

At Nickelodeon, groundbreaking bilingual series Dora the Explorer entertains while teaching little kids Spanish words. Its digital spinoff, Nicktoons, will add a Spanish language riced next month while another digital sibling, The N, has wrapped production on Miracle’s Boys, a five-part drama about a young man who gives up a scholarship to MI’I” to come home to Harlem and raise his two brothers after the death of their mother. see here keenan and kel

Executives at MTV Networks have long attributed their ability to stay steeped in popular currents to their constant trolling for different points of view and a workforce that mirrors the audience at large. Company chairman Judy McGrath, in an interview earlier this year, described her approach this way: “It’s not about getting advice from the most powerful people. It’s about finding the person with the next idea for The Apprentice or The Osbournes and making sure that person has nay phone number.” MTVN’s penchant for diverse casts, evident in shows ranging from Nickelodeon’s Keenan and Kel to MTV’s Pimp My Ride, MTV2’s Sucker Free Sundays, and VH l’s Hip Hop Honors, make its portfolio of networks an attractive option for cable operators segmenting their marketing to different sectors of an increasingly multiethnic audience.

It’s an approach that hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Jenny Alonzo, president of the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications, singled out the company as an industry leader last year during an interview with Multichannel News. “MTV [Networks] is very forward thinking and they have been for many years,” Alonzo said. “They have a great story to tell, not just on air, but also off-air within their ranks and within their corporate offices. I think they represent diversity at every level–not just color diversity–but gender, sexual orientation, etc. They really do understand the value of having a team that represents our people.”

E85 Offered at Massachusetts’ Logan Airport

Gulf Oil, LP has opened the second E85 fueling location in the state of Massachusetts. The facility will be servicing flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) that travel to and from Logan Airport at 100 Service Road in Boston.

“We are proud to be among the first to open this alternative fueling location, and we look forward to the day when many more choices — from e85, biodiesel and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) from primarily domestic sources form the foundation of a new energy future,” said Gulf Oil CEO Joseph Petrowski. “We look forward to remaining a market leader in alternate fuel development and are proud that our home of Boston and the Northeast are in the forefront of this transformation.”

The opening of this E85 site is the result of a partnership between Gulf Oil and the station’s operator Energy North and its President Mr. Ken Black who is committed to broaden its fuel options from traditional petroleum to a more varied and secure domestic source of biofuel. The second partnership is between the public and private sectors.

Petrowski went on, “The partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy and the leadership of Massachusetts Representative Delahunt, Governor Deval Patrick, and Energy Secretary Ian Bowles is an important example to the nation of how the public and private sectors can work constructively to solve one of the most important issues of the 21st century: our nation’s energy security.”

Solving Global Warming Gets Debaters Going

Just when I thought we would not get much on renewable energy in tonight’s presidential debate from Belmont University in Nashville, a question from the crowd has started the conversation in earnest. A lady asked if the candidates would take the same quick call-to-action approach to solve the looming global warming crisis as we saw in the recent financial crisis.

Republican Sen. John McCain says he supports the development of cleaner-burning vehicles, such as hydrogen-powered cars as part of the solution to solve the climate crisis.

Democrat Sen. Barack Obama says this country has the potential to create five million green jobs in the near future, if we development the alternative energy sources available. He compares what renewable energy could do for the economy with what the computer did for it. Obama reiterates his commitment to solar, wind, geothermal and nuclear power as well.

Obama has taken a direct shot at McCain’s renewable energy record by pointing out that McCain has voted against alternative fuels 23 times. McCain countered that some of those included votes against big tax breaks for Big Oil.

Both men have touched on the issue of a resurgent Russia, fueled by petro dollars… which comes back to the issue of how they are going to make that a non-issue by freeing us from foreign oil.

That’s it for the night. We’ll get together again in about a week when the third and final presidential debate comes on.

McCain, Obama Call for More Renewable Energy

Presidential candidates Republican Sen. John McCain and Democrat Sen. Barack Obama are back at this evening, debating from the campus of Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn… and I’m here on my couch watching and listening carefully to what they say, paying special attention to what they say about renewable energy.

Both have just touched on the renewable energy issue, mostly from the standpoint of weaning America from foreign sources of non-renewable petroleum. McCain says we need to take an “all of the above” approach that includes biofuels, wind and solar energy, as well as nuclear and domestic petroleum. Obama counters that we need to have an energy plan that frees us from foreign oil in 10 years time, once again, through renewable energy.

Obama says we each need to think about how we use energy and how we gather more petroleum and alternative energy sources. He says incentives and tax breaks for people who buy American-made, fuel-efficient vehicles are very important, as are home conservation efforts.

Pretty light on any specifics on either side on renewable energy… or any other issue for that matter.

I’ll keep my eye on them and update again if something comes up. Stay tuned…

Senate Approves Renewable Energy Credits

Things could be looking up for renewal of renewable energy incentives as the U.S. Senate has approved $17 billion in tax credits for wind, solar, geothermal and ocean energy systems.

This article from cleantech.com says passage comes on the heels of last week’s similar vote by the U.S. House (see my Sept. 17th post):

The tax credits, due to expire at the end of the year, now must be reconciled with those approved by the House before heading to the president, who has said he will likely support the measure. The House is expected to take up the bill Wednesday.

If enacted, the Senate bill:

* Extends tax credits by eight years for residential and commercial solar systems, one year for wind energy, and two years for other renewable energy sources, such as wave and ocean tide.
* Gives a 30-percent tax credit to homeowners who install solar systems and businesses that install solar, wind, geothermal and ocean energy systems.
* Gives a 10-percent tax credit to homeowners for energy-efficiency improvements, such as insulation, replacement windows, water heaters and heating and cooling equipment.
* Offers a tax credit of $2,500 to $7,500 for plug-in electric cars, depending on the battery capacity of the vehicle.

Senate leaders are encouraging House members to approve this version of the bill as the best chance for the President to sign the bill to get the credits renewed before the end of the year.

Now You See It… Now You Don’t

It appears that someone might have jumped the gun a bit when General Motors released the first pictures of the production version of its much-anticipated electric car, the Chevrolet Volt, earlier today.

According to this article in the Detroit News, the pictures of the Volt (seen on the right here, thanks to a quick blogger at TheCarConnection.com who was smart enough and in the right place at the right time to save the pictures before they could be taken off GM’s web site) were supposed to go out next week:

Ten photos were briefly posted on GM’s media Web site, and an external site, and promptly picked up by auto bloggers around the world.

“Those were put up in error and taken down quickly thereafter,” Chevrolet spokesman Terry Rhadigan said. “It was not intentional.”

The release comes a week ahead of the automaker’s 100th anniversary celebration, during which the Volt is expected to be unveiled officially.

But how much the posting was an accident remains to be seen:

The blogger who found the photos Monday before they were taken down suspects the release was a publicity move by the automaker.

“I think they’re getting very good at playing the game of public relations,” said Marty Padgett, editor of thecarconnection.com. “Everyone is interested (in the Volt), so why not let some teases float out there?”

It looks like TheCarConnection.com is getting a lot of feedback on the new pictures… some good, some bad. You can see more of the photos and read the comments by clicking here.