Fuelishness! -- The FuelClinic.com Blog

Eco-Drive Chicago – Penn Public Policy Challenge

While Eco-Drive Chicago offers a variety of environmental benefits for the City of Chicago, perhaps the most compelling reason to adopt the program is based in economics. Recent studies have shown that eco-driving practices can lead to a sustained improvement in fuel efficiency of 25%, with short-term improvements reaching as high as 50%. Given that the fuel budget for the City of Chicago’s Department of Fleet and Facility Management is $25.7 million, fuel efficiency improvements of a more modest 15% would amount to $3.86 million dollars in fuel savings annually (if all fleet vehicles drivers were trained). These savings could increase dramatically if the price of fuel rises in the years to come.

While point estimates are not yet available, eco-driving training may also result in reductions in fleet maintenance costs, insurance premiums, and accident liability deductibles, as well the recapture of otherwise productive work time that is now spent refueling vehicles. On the whole, Eco-Drive Chicago: Saving Millions, Reducing Emissions 2 implementing eco-driving training programs will result in significant and sustainable net fiscal savings for the City of Chicago.



Ford’s NEW EcoSport CUV – No Soup For You!

Ford unveiled it’s new crossover, which will be available in 100 markets – but not the US.

Autoblog — Ford has unveiled the production version of its EcoSport crossover at the 2012 Beijing Motor Show. The small five-door utility should offer buyers plenty of functionality in a compact and efficient package thanks to a range of drivetrain configurations including a 1.0-liter, three-cylinder Ecoboost engine. The small-displacement engine is good for 118 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque, which should be more than enough to move the little machine around. All told, Ford says the EcoSport will see duty in over 100 world markets, though the CUV isn’t expected to show up in our neck of the woods.

Here are all the PR details:

An SUV for the Urban World – Ford Reveals Fuel-Efficient, All-new Ford EcoSport in China

Created for the urban environment, the all-new Ford EcoSport offers contemporary design, smart technologies and a high driving position – all in a compact, agile, fuel-efficient shape
Powered by an array of powertrains, including an all-new 1.0-litre, three-cylinder EcoBoost™ engine, the aerodynamically honed Ford EcoSport is designed to be a benchmark in fuel economy while giving customers the performance feel of a larger engine
Packed with aspirational appeal, craftsmanship and sophistication – including the Ford SYNC driver connect system with voice control – the all-new EcoSport offers a compelling alternative to the small car in big cities

BEIJING, April 22, 2012 – Ford today revealed the production version of the all-new Ford EcoSport and announced plans to build the compact, fuel-efficient urban SUV in China, in addition to India, Thailand and South America.

EcoSport’s global debut at the 2012 Auto China in Beijing means customers in China will soon be able to choose an aspirational sports utility vehicle alternative to a small car. The Ford EcoSport offers a confident stance, a high driving position and robust character on top of the agility, manoeuvrability and fuel efficiency that comes with a compact footprint. It’s the perfect combination for the city – ready for work and ready for play.

Within a contemporary design aerodynamically honed for fuel economy, the EcoSport is full of smart technologies, features and craftsmanship that offer customers more than they would expect in this segment.

With a number of powertrain solutions, including Ford’s newest, most advanced engine the 1.0-litre EcoBoost™, EcoSport is designed to be a benchmark in fuel efficiency. It also offers the Ford SYNC driver connect system with voice control and many other innovative features in a spacious and comfortable interior with new levels of craftsmanship as well as outstanding quietness and refinement.

“The Ford EcoSport reflects our commitment to serve our Ford customers in China and around the world with the cars, utilities and trucks they want and value,” said Joe Hinrichs, president, Ford Asia Pacific and Africa. “EcoSport delivers outstanding quality, great fuel efficiency with the 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine, superior safety and really smart design with SYNC.”

The production reveal of EcoSport follows rapidly after the vehicle’s global preview in January at the Delhi Auto Expo as well as in Brazil, where Ford EcoSport was developed by a global Ford development team. In addition to production in Chongqing, the EcoSport will be manufactured in Camaçari, Brazil, Rayong, Thailand, and Chennai, India, and will be offered in nearly 100 markets globally.

EcoSport joins Ford’s family of small global vehicles, which will reach an annual production capacity of 2 million units by 2015.

“The all-new EcoSport is designed and engineered specifically for customers in global growth markets using Ford’s global SUV engineering expertise and reflecting our commitments for quality, leading fuel economy, safety and smart technology,” said Raj Nair, group vice president, Global Product Development. “We’re delivering innovative products like this to drive our global growth.”

EcoSport Titanium

Ford is showcasing its top-of-the-line model, the EcoSport Titanium, on stage in Beijing, painted in distinctive Mars Red. A similar model is being revealed today in Salvador, Brazil, as EcoSport’s global launch momentum builds.

EcoSport Titanium has 16-inch aluminium alloy wheels and a chrome grille.

Inside, EcoSport offers a stylish, modern and well-equipped interior delivering new standards of craftsmanship and quality. The cabin – spacious for five people and their gear – has been engineered to deliver outstanding levels of comfort and quiet operation for customers.

In addition to Ford SYNC with voice control, among EcoSport’s available innovative technologies are Smart Keyless Entry, Ford Power Start, and a cooled bin in the glovebox.

EcoSport offers advanced safety items, such as dual front airbags and side curtain airbags, as well as Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) and Electronic Stability Program.

To take the stress out of driving, the EcoSport comes with an array of driver-assist features including Hill Launch Assist and rear parking sensors.

Its agile, manoeuvrable chassis features electric power-assisted steering (EPAS) for outstanding steering response and improved fuel efficiency.

Beautiful, agile, modern

The new EcoSport is an affordable compact SUV that is ready for work and ready for play.

It targets benchmark performance in fuel economy, driveability and performance to redefine expectations in the compact SUV segment.

The new Ford SUV’s main characteristics were defined by consumers in all of the regions in which it will be sold. The design and flexible use are part of the new vehicle’s differentiated plan, which besides the agility and practicality for urban use, offers power and robustness for more adverse terrain.

The elevated stance and purposeful posture give the new EcoSport the appearance of a higher class vehicle. Its agile and contemporary lines convey confidence, refinement and an adventurous spirit, within a modern and smart package. All this contributes to EcoSport’s aspirational appeal.

“The new EcoSport is full of personality,” said J Mays, group vice president, Design, and chief creative officer, Ford Motor Company. “Customers around the world immediately recognise its capability and SUV robustness that is achieved with aggressiveness. It is friendly and it’s a vehicle that really makes you smile.”

Powering growth in China

Reinforcing Ford’s commitment to offer a full portfolio of vehicles in China, the all-new Ford EcoSport will be the second of 15 new vehicles that Ford plans to introduce in the country by 2015. This is part of a bigger plan to bring more than 50 new vehicles and powertrains to the Asia Pacific and Africa region by mid-decade, underscoring the unprecedented expansion in the region.

“With its superior fuel efficiency and a comprehensive suite of smart technologies, the EcoSport is well-placed to power Ford into a new segment not only in China but also in other growth markets in Asia,” said Hinrichs.

Ford’s aggressive expansion plan in China is being supported by several new investments to increase production capacity.

It was announced earlier this month that Ford and its joint venture Changan Ford Mazda Automobile (CFMA) will invest approximately USD 600 million to expand capacity in Chongqing by 350,000 passenger vehicles, raising total capacity in China to 950,000 units by 2014. The new investment will increase Ford’s total investment in China to approximately USD 4.1 billion.

CFMA already operates two assembly plants and an engine plant in Chongqing. Additional facilities – a USD 500 million engine plant and a USD 350 million transmission plant – are currently under construction.

 



Energy Secretary Chu Admits Administration OK with High Gas Prices

The Heritage Foundation points out that hammering the American consumer with high gas prices to make electric and hybrid cars more appealing is consistent with Obama administration policy and Chu’s philosophy. That explains the refusal to allow the building of the Keystone XL pipeline and to allow drilling in wide areas of the U.S. and offshore areas.

The consequences of the policy are not likely to be of benefit to the Obama administration. The Republican National Committee has already issued a video highlighting the spike in gas prices and the failure of the administration to address the issue.

Read the rest



The US Military Going Green, Again Leading By Example…

Green isn’t just for camouflage any more. The US military recognizes the need to become more efficient, less dependent, and more sustainable.

From a green economy perspective, this legislation could not be more important. The military’s huge demand for energy translates into enormous market pull. By creating a market for biofuels and green technology, the military can spur further research and drive down the price of clean energy to levels that would be competitive with traditional energy sources. According to analysis presented at a congressional briefing on the Defense Department’s Deployment of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, section 526 sends positive signals to the green energy sector by reassuring clean energy producers that their investments will be met with steady demand from the DoD. Such stability is critical for any burgeoning industry.

Read the rest at the Epoch Times.



The Rise of Fleet Eco-Driving – FedEx Eco-Drives After Disaster in Japan

Originally Posted at FleetBlogs

With the recent announcement from FedEx that they are considering implementing eco-driving training and indicators into their fleet management systems, the world leader in overnight delivery once again leads fleet operators in setting best business practices that improve operational efficiency and safety.

Already known for running a very tight business, FedEx found itself eco-driving earlier this year in Japan after the combination tsunami and nucular disasters disrupted fuel supplies across Japan. If FedEx Japan wanted to continue to make deliveries, they needed to squeeze every kilometer they could from every liter of fuel they had. Given the circumstances, FedEx says eco-driving had become an “operational imperative”.

For Japan, Eco-Driving was not just about a contribution to the environment – it was a necessity. How the couriers used the 5 tips when it counted helped us to be there for our customers who were depending on us more than ever for critical shipments.

FedEx driver Zhang Jingwei (pictured) wrote about his ongoing efforts using eco-driving methods taught by a specially trained instructor from Isuzu. Both Ford and Isuzu have been leading the fleet eco-driving research globally over the past 10 years.

By modifying traditional driving methods according to expert theory, fuel consumption could be significantly reduced by up to 25%. The expert also explained that the reduction of fuel consumption reduced carbon emissions, which helps the environment.

Earlier fleet eco-driving studies done both in Japan and around the globe – geared mostly at reducing greenhouse gas emissions – have indicated that modest changes to driving behavior can reap substantial and tangible rewards in improved fuel mileage, using existing equipment and standard sourced fuel.

At a minimum it seemed any fleet could save from 5% up to 25% or more from their fuel consumption – or in the case of FedEx – get deliveries to those who needed them – by training their drivers to use “eco-driving” techniques. Most studies indicate a 10% improvement is easily achieved, with improvements of 25% or more not uncommon. As a side benefit – the most fuel efficient drivers are also some of the safest drivers, according to one trucking company study of their own internal operations.

A recent announcement from University of California, Riverside of the first large-scale scientific study into eco-driving in the US – funded with help from the Department of Energy to the tune of 1.2 million dollars – will likely confirm the findings of previous studies conducted in Europe, Asia, and around the world.

When logistics giant FedEx considers implementing innovative efficiency techniques, the business community takes notice. Eco-driving techniques aren’t new, or somehow unique, but when applied consistantly across fleets of any size the affect on the bottom line can be substantial. Programs can be developed in-house for almost no cost, or can be outsourced to providers who can quickly get your entire fleet trained.

Last month BrightFleet.com, an industry leader in online risk assessment and mitigating driver training, announced the availability of a fleet focused computer based eco-driver training program that allows fleets of any size to quickly roll out comprehensive eco-driving training to their entire fleet.

“Eco-driving” may have had a slow uptake so far in the US – where we enjoy a relatively inexpensive and plentiful fuel supply, but with the uncertain economy and unpredictable natural disasters that can quickly interrupt fuel supplies regionally or nationally – time may finally be right for these simple and cost-effective methods to become part of the smarter standard business practices that will be adopted by innovate fleet operators for years to come.



Across Europe, Irking Drivers Is Urban Policy

Source: Smart Blog

While American cities are synchronizing green lights to improve traffic flow and offering apps to help drivers find parking, many European cities are doing the opposite: creating environments openly hostile to cars. The methods vary, but the mission is clear — to make car use expensive and just plain miserable enough to tilt drivers toward more environmentally friendly modes of transportation.

Cities including Vienna to Munich and Copenhagen have closed vast swaths of streets to car traffic. Barcelona and Paris have had car lanes eroded by popular bike-sharing programs. Drivers in London and Stockholm pay hefty congestion charges just for entering the heart of the city. And over the past two years, dozens of German cities have joined a national network of “environmental zones” where only cars with low carbon dioxide emissions may enter.

Likeminded cities welcome new shopping malls and apartment buildings but severely restrict the allowable number of parking spaces. On-street parking is vanishing. In recent years, even former car capitals like Munich have evolved into “walkers’ paradises,” said Lee Schipper, a senior research engineer at Stanford University who specializes in sustainable transportation.

Read the full article at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/27/science/earth/27traffic.html



Maryland Dimming Street Lights in Effort to Save Money

January 26, 2011 · Filed Under Governments, Intelligent Transportation Systems, United States · Comment 

Baltimore Sun:

In an effort to save energy and money, the State Highway Administration has cut back its overhead lighting on a six-mile stretch of the highway. If results from the year-long test are favorable, officials say, the state could reduce lighting on other highways…

…The experiment has raised concerns about safety in some quarters. For many motorists, a well-lit roadway is comforting, and many studies over the decades have shown that bright lights — in the right places — can save lives.

Highway officials said that even with fewer lights, the illumination of Route 100 will remain well within federal standards. But AAA Mid-Atlantic still has concerns about the test.

“With the nation’s motorists aging rapidly, we need to keep in mind they tend to have more difficulty seeing to drive safely at night. We worry that deactivating highway lighting could curtail motorists’ safety,” said AAA spokeswoman Christine Delise.



Incentivizing Drivers to Conserve Fuel – Bob Stanton, Polk County Florida

Bob Stanton is one of the most forward-thinking fleet managers in the country. He runs the Polk County, Florida government fleet, and has been referenced here in Fuelishness! and BrightFleet.com several times for his experience implementing a highly successful eco-driving program in Polk County. Today he gives a insight into his motivations and successful execution of his program in an article published at Government Fleets called “Incentivizing Drivers to Conserve Fuel“.

By only reading industry publications, one might presume fuel conservation success can be achieved by technology alone through the use of alternative fuels, hybrid, or all-electric vehicles. The Clean Air Act of 1990 certainly steered governments in that direction and now, 20 years later, it’s clear that legislation failed to achieve tangible results. Governments at all levels nationwide have collectively invested billions in technology, which at best has yielded marginal fuel conservation success, and at worst, the technology, hardware, and vehicles have been scrapped at enormous cost. A negative return on investment (ROI) is certainly hard to justify for any organization, public or private.

Mr. Stanton makes a great point, that the focus on a technology-based approach to fuel efficient fleets has nearly completely ignored the contributions of the vehicle operator to the safe and efficient use of the vehicle.

…In summer 2008, Polk County went where few other fleets have gone — to its drivers. All studies show the largest single contributor to fuel use and/or conservation is the driver. Polk County decided the quickest route to meaningful fuel conservation was to target driver behavior and modify it where possible.

A three-pronged approach was used to modify driver behavior. First, the maximum travel speed of the County’s on-highway vehicles was limited to 55 mph. An in-house Eco-Driver training program was developed to train, reinforce, and promote driving habits proven to reduce fuel consumption and assure driver buy-in, and the County added an incentive program to allow employees to share monetarily in their own conservation success.

There are numerous studies, from reputable government and industry sources around the word, that have shown a direct relationship to operator performance and fuel efficiency, with additional benefit to driver & general road safety.

As noted above, the driver is the greatest single factor influencing fuel economy. According to Bridgestone’s Real Answers magazine, up to 35 percent of a vehicle’s mpg is directly attributable to the driver.

The County endeavored to modify behind-the-wheel driver behavior by developing an in-house “Eco Driver” training program to educate drivers about the simple driving techniques that result in tangible mpg improvements.

Bob Stanton’s own project has netted Polk County significant benefits in fuel efficiency and accident reductions:

Over the two years since implementation, Polk County achieved the following results:

  • Fuel consumption reduced by 13.4 percent, or 436,000 gallons.
  • Reduced 6.2 million lbs. of carbon.
  • Reduced preventable accidents by 22 percent.
  • Crash damage severity reduced by 35 percent.

These results are irrefutable. The overall hard dollar savings seen by Polk County due to these incentives have exceeded $1.5 million. The cost of the program is minimal. Beyond the $800 decal cost and the one-hour training time, the program has cost the County nothing.

Even the incentive payouts came at little cost. The incentive payouts originated from dollars saved versus dollars spent.

As a result of its success, the Polk County School Board adopted the 55-mph restriction in May 2010 and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is currently studying the program for statewide adoption.

As oil prices continue to rise to pre-economic-collapse prices at the same time austerity measures are being discussed at state and federal levels, eco-driving is a proven method that fleet drivers and average motorists can take immediate action to see real reductions in both fuel consumption and accident rates.



Move Over for Stopped Emergency Vehicles in Maryland

A new Maryland law went into effect on October 1, 2010. This law requires drivers to move over one lane, away from an emergency vehicle (police, ambulance, fire apparatus) on the side of the road with its red or blue lights flashing, and to slow down. The fine is $110.00 and two points for each emergency vehicle on the side of the road with flashing red/blue lights passed. For example, you come upon an accident scene on the left side of the road. There is a fire truck, an ambulance, and three police cars – all with flashing red/blue lights – at the scene. You continue pass the scene in the left lane at the posted speed. Your fine could be $550.00 plus 10 points. [Source: The Baltimore Sun, October 18, 2010]

If you passed the scene at a speed greater than the posted speed limit, an additional fine and points could be added for speeding and perhaps even reckless driving. 10 points means your license would be suspended for two years – in addition to a substantial increase in your auto insurance (30% – 50%) or forced to use the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund (MAIF) where you will pay at least 30% more than your current premium and must pay for a complete year all at once (no installment payments allowed) – you will remain in this category for three years.

Maryland Point System – This is in addition to any fines that are imposed and increases in automobile insurance premiums:

9 mph or less over the posted speed limit = 1 point

10 – 30 mph over the posted speed limit = 2 points (Except 20 mph or greater over a posted 65 mph limit = 5 points)

30 mph or more over the posted speed limit = 5 points

Reckless Driving = 6 points — can be added to the points assessed for speeding. For example, you are convicted of driving 20 mph over the posted 65 mph limit and reckless driving. The total points that could be awarded (in addition to fines) is 11 points. If you pass a fire truck, ambulance, and three police cars (all with flashing red/blue lights) on the side of the road while you are recklessly speeding down a road with a 65 mph speed limit and you fail to move at least one lane to the right and significantly slow below the speed limit, you could be awarded a total of 21 points! So, what happens?

When you accrue 5-7 points in a 2-year period, you are required to complete the Maryland Driver Improvement Program (driving school).

8-11 points within a 2-year period means your license is suspended for two years.

12 points gets your license revoked. After two years you can apply for a new license. In the example above, you could lose your license for four years and the cost of auto insurance would be high!



205mph Electric Hybrid Supercar from Jaguar

From The Daily Telegraph:

A sexy new 205mph Jaguar supercar that blends sporting looks and performance with the latest ‘green’ technology is set to rock the prestigious Paris Motor Show when it is officially unveiled today.

The new two-seater Jaguar C-X75 is a £200,000 electric hybrid vehicle uses hi-tech jet-turbine know-how from the aviation industry to sprint from rest to 62 mph in just 3.5 seconds and up to 100mph in just 5.5 seconds…

The new Jaguar dispenses with a conventional internal combustion engine.

Instead, powered by a lithium ion battery charged from the domestic mains, the new Jaguar can run with zero-emissions for up to 68 miles on four electric motors – one of which drives each of four wheels.

Then it can harness two rear-mounted super-efficient gas-turbines to generate the extra electric power it needs to give it an extended range of 560miles – enough to get it from London to Berlin on a single 60 litre tank-full.

And that is with minimal emissions of just 28g/km of carbon dioxide – the greenhouse gas blamed for global warning and against which all UK cars are now taxed…

Read the rest (and see more great photos of this car).



Jersey Turnpike Buys System to Predict When You Will Be Sitting in Traffic

Via Bloomberg

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority said it hopes to begin alerting motorists to traffic jams — 10 minutes before they occur.

The agency, which manages the two main toll roads in the most densely populated U.S. state, approved the awarding of a $652,000 contract to En Pointe Technologies Inc.

The El Segundo, California-based company has a computer system that is designed to give drivers an early heads-up on developing traffic jams, to allow them more time to detour away from congestion, Brian Gorman, director of technology, told members of the authority’s board at their regular meeting today.

The system was tested on the 148-mile (238-kilometer) New Jersey Turnpike and the 173-mile Garden State Parkway, which stretches from Cape May to the New York state line. It predicted traffic with at least 90 percent accuracy, Gorman said. Motorists will be alerted to potential problems through electronic signage on the highways.

“We do have the ability to prevent congestion disruption,” Gorman said.

I have written similar software for the DC metro area, and it predicts traffic jams most Mondays through Fridays from 7:30am to 9:00am, and again from 3:30pm to 5:00pm.



Compendium Software Systems to Provide Fuel Conservation Technology for Trial Use on City of Sanford Vehicles

SANFORD, Fla. (July 12, 2010) — Compendium Software Systems, LLC was recently awarded a contract to install its FuelClinic.com® Fleet System fuel conservation and risk reduction technology on select City of Sanford vehicles on a trial basis.

Michael Bragg, president of Compendium Software Systems, LLC, said the Sanford Economic Development Office played a big role in shaping the agreement.

Compendium Software Systems’ FuelClinic.com® Fleet System closely records real-world driver behavior and provides data analysis and reporting.

“FuelClinic.com® Fleet System provides a fuel efficiency report card for drivers and vehicles that will enable the city’s fleet of vehicles to achieve maximum fuel efficiency while reducing fleet risk,” Bragg explained. “The goal is to show how FuelClinic.com® Fleet System can help the City save money by reducing the fuel consumption of normal fleet operations.”

Bragg said the trial project will be conducted in two phases. Each phase will include data collection and analysis, he said.

Bragg said installation of the monitoring equipment will commence in July.

Compendium Software Systems LLC is a client company of the UCF Business Incubation Program and headquartered at the Incubator on West First Street in downtown Sanford. Compendium specializes in advanced information systems for use in driver behavior analysis.



Military Continues to Test Alternative Aviation Bio-Fuels

Some additional information regarding how the DoD is exploring options to ween the military away from petroleum based fuels.

On Earth Day, 22 April, the US Navy conducted a test flight of an F/A-18 Super Hornet at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, run on a 50-percent mixture of a fuel refined from the crushed seeds of the flowering Camelina sativa plant. The flight of the Green Hornet, as it was called, followed an Air Force test a month earlier of an A-10C Thunderbolt II at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, fueled with a similar blend.

Both events had the purpose of testing the performance of biofuel/petroleum mixtures with an eye toward the eventual certification of the fuels for routine use. They also demonstrate the efforts of the Department of Defense to increase its use of renewable energy, not only for environmental reasons but also to protect the military from energy price fluctuations and dependence on overseas sources of petroleum.

The DoD spends $20 billion a year on energy and incurs $1.3 billion in additional costs for every $10 per barrel increase in the market price of oil, according to a report recently released by the Pew Project on National Security, Energy and Climate. In addition to vulnerability to price fluctuations, the DoD’s “reliance on fossil fuels also compromises combat effectiveness by restricting mobility, flexibility and endurance on the battlefield,” said the report. “Transportation of fuel to the combat theater is a significant vulnerability as fuel convoys are targets in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Read the rest…

Source: ISN Security Watch



Charging Motorists by the Mile More Reliable Than Fuel Tax, Says Study

From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

Charging motorists for every mile they drive could be more reliable than fuel taxes to pay for bridges, highways and transit systems, but would be hard to sell to motorists, according to a national policy group.

A RAND Corp. study released last week concluded there were good reasons to switch from charging gas taxes to charging fees based on how far each car or truck travels. The government gets most of the money for road construction and maintenance from gas taxes, but cars and trucks put more wear and tear on roads while inflation and better fuel efficiency make the fuel tax worth less and less, said Paul Sorensen, lead author of the study…

…Collecting the fee would be more expensive than administering the gas tax; putting tracking units in cars likely would raise privacy concerns; and changing the fee wouldn’t be any more popular than changing the federal gas tax — which hasn’t increased from 18.3 cents per gallon since 1993, Sorensen said.

Read the whole article here, then join in the discussion over at the FuelClinic Facebook page.



Fuelishness! Feed: Hummer now “Green” for Japan; Diesel Engine Biofuel Advances; Dolphin Wins Eco-Driving Challenge; Fuel Efficiency VS. The Tax Man in Washington State

  • In Japan, the Hummer Is Now Officially Green — Starting this week, Japanese buyers of the hulking power machines from General Motors — which come with a 5.3-liter, 300 horsepower engine and roar to 60 miles per hour in eight seconds — receive a 250,000 yen ($2,780) subsidy under Japan’s new, looser fuel-efficiency standards for imported cars.
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  • Researchers develop “smart” diesel engine that runs on biofuel blend — Researchers from Cummings and Purdue University claim to have found a way to improve fuel efficiency in diesel engines that run on biodiesel fuel while cutting emission levels. The process involves an advanced “closed-loop control” approach for preventing diesel engines from emitting greater amounts of smog-causing nitrogen oxides when running on biodiesel fuels.
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  • Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne wins Audi fuel-efficiency driving challenge — The Audi Efficiency Challenge was designed to showcase the mileage and performance possibilities that Audi TDI clean diesel technology provides in real-world driving conditions.
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  • Fuel-efficient cars affecting Washington gas tax — Automobiles are more fuel-efficient, people are driving less and, increasingly, they are driving automobiles that aren’t powered by petroleum at all…”All of those things add up to the fact that we aren’t going to rely on the gas tax as being the mainstay of the future if we want to maintain, preserve and improve our transportation system,” said Paula Hammond, the state’s transportation secretary.


Announcing: FuelClinic.com membership in Stuttgart’s “Cities for Mobility”

Today we are very pleased to announce FuelClinic.com membership in the Cities for Mobility network, created and coordinated by the city of Stuttgart, Germany to promote sustainable and efficient transport systems in the member cities.

Cities for Mobility” is a global network on all questions regarding urban mobility. The network is coordinated by the City of Stuttgart and promotes transnational cooperation between local governments, transportation companies, businesses, science and the civil society, with the aim of supporting the development of sustainable and efficient transport systems in the member cities.

“We want to warmly welcome FuelClinic.com as new member in the world wide network Cities for Mobility. The Coordination Office is more than delighted by your decision to join our network and we look forward to a fruitful cooperation with [you]”, wrote Isabelle Kübler from the office of Coordinator Network Cities for Mobility.

FuelClinic.com will provide member cities the ability to invigorate and measure their eco-driving and driver behavior improvement programs with free web-based eco-driving training materials, a voluntary web-based driver-efficiency analysis and reporting system, and increasing levels of technology support for promoting and measuring eco-driving behavior within their cities and communities.

FuelClinic.com was nominated for membership in this network by existing  member Projeto Melhorar, a Brazilian-based initiative to create sustainable transportation systems in South America’s largest country.



FuelClinic data included in Copenhagen case study

A few weeks ago I was asked by EcoDrivingUSA to create a graphic describing some aggregate efficiency improvement data from the information collected here at FuelClinic. The intent was to demonstrate the efficacy of eco-driving techniques for improving fuel efficiency and decreasing GHG emissions.

I spent a few hours pouring through the database, to find the best data set to describe our users maintaining fuel receipt records, making sure not to skew the numbers, but selecting a sub-set of our most active members who do not have data entry problems (automatically flagged as “suspect” by FuelClinic – a whole topic unto itself).

Then I created the following graphic, with this description:

fuelclinic-average-no-training

This information made it into an “EcoDriving Impact Study for Copenhagen” presented by Driving Sustainability earlier this month. What’s most impressive is that the average improvement in fuel efficiency is 5.23% without any real form of ecodriving training – a point not lost on the authors of the study:

According to FuelClinic.com, the average EcoDriver improves their efficiency by 5.3%. These are drivers who have had no formal instruction on green driving…

If everyone in the US improved their efficiency by a basic EcoDriving level of 5%, this would result in a 66,346,545 ton reduction in CO2 emissions in the US.

The most active FuelClinic account users are benefiting from following simple online tips and believing that they can improve their fuel efficiency. The effort it takes to create an account, collect multiple receipts, and enter that information into the application is not trivial, and it indicates that a percentage of motorists are interested in understanding their fuel efficiency – and just the act of being “involved” and improving their understanding is all it take to turn an average motorist into a basic EcoDriver.

As an aside – my personal goal for FuelClinic is to increase this average efficiency improvement to 10% by the end of 2010.

You can download the case study (.pdf) here.



MINI Cooper D Sets New Zealand Fuel Economy Record Of 3.5 l/100km (67.2 MPG)

Source: The Motor Report

2009-mini-cooperd-newzealand-fueleconomyrecord-01

A MINI Cooper D (diesel) – piloted by trained ecodrivers Mark Whittaker and Paul Owen – has just set a new record for fuel efficient driving, by driving 2000 km on just over 72 liters (19 US gallons) of diesel fuel – achieving 3.5 l/100km (just over 67 MPG) average for that trip.

Mark Whittaker said the aim of the exercise was to highlight the potential for cutting New Zealand’s transport related emissions at little or no extra cost.

“In setting this record we are demonstrating that everyone can contribute to reducing emissions by choosing a fuel efficient car and employing simple ecodriving techniques,” Mr Whittaker said.

While Whittaker and Owen had originally targeted an average of 3.0 l/100km, the final 3.5 l/100km figure bested the country’s other top fuel miser – the third generation Toyota Prius – with which the Cooper D shares an official fuel economy of 3.9 l/100km.

The MINI Cooper D sports a fuel efficient and spunky small clean diesel engine and state-of-the-art start/stop technology similar to the new Ford Focus ECOnic we profiled a few days ago.

The Cooper D’s figures are thanks to a host of technological innovations borrowed from parent company BMW (including a start-stop system and a thrifty diesel engine from PSA).

BMW Group New Zealand Managing Director, Mark Gilbert said the fuel economy record proves how far diesel technology has come.

“The MINI has proven that new, small clean diesel engines have an important part to play in improving the fuel economy of the New Zealand vehicle fleet,” said Mr Gilbert.

“And the other clear message from this exercise is that it is not only what you drive, but how you drive, that counts,” he said. (Emphasis added)

That last bit sounds familiar! We certainly agree.

The bad news is that although it was mentioned last February that MINI was considering making the Cooper D available in the US, it has yet to become a reality according to our local MINI dealer. A message to MINI USA about the future availability of the “D” here in the US is awaiting reply – I’ll update you should we hear back. (If you’ve seen a “firm” scheduled availability date, please let me know.)

The future availability of the Ford Focus ECOnic diesel is also yet to be announced. In the past I mentioned my experience driving the SEAT with a small clean diesel a few years ago in Estonia… for now, you’ll still need to cross the pond to have this much fun driving at over 65 miles per gallon.



New Ford Focus Gets 71MPG – Only in Europe

Five years ago I visited family in Estonia, a country still digging out from decades of Soviet domination after World War Two. Estonia is an amazingly beautiful country full of “old world” charm and wonderful people. My cousin, who built heavy robotic equipment for the lumber industry , drove a SEAT hatchback with a small, quiet, and clean diesel engine that had tons of torque, ran on bio-diesel (available in most towns), and got better than 65 miles per gallon regularly. I was astonished.

We drove that spunky car all over the country, into Latvia, with the whole family, sometimes towing his little Russian-era boat. It was a joy to drive, and when we passed a field of soybean my cousin would smile at me and point, saying we were driving on sunshine – converted to oil in those plants. He said proudly “We are all green in Estonia. I am a green man.”

I wondered why I couldn’t buy a car like that back home in America.

Consider the new Ford Focus (available in Europe) with a little diesel engine, and upgraded starter, alternator, battery package that support their improved ECOnic start/stop technology – similar to a golf cart, the engine stops when the car is idle for a few seconds, and springs back to life when you press the accelerator to move ahead.

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As with any Focus it is delightfully balanced and comfortable and the stop/start process in traffic is by no means intrusive or unduly noisy. In fact it is one of the better versions of the current crop of on/off engines.

The starter motor has been beefed up to cope with the additional use while developments have been made to the alternator to reduce friction and lessen the workload on the engine.

To improve fuel consumption further, kinetic energy built up as the car goes along is captured and used to recharge one of the two batteries which power the likes of the air conditioning or entertainment systems when the engine is off.

NOTE: While it’s generally a good idea to turn off your engine and reduce idling when not in traffic, we do NOT recommend turning your car off while in traffic – hybrids and stop/start equipped cars are designed to do this safely and automatically. Turning your car off (turning off the “ignition”) while in traffic is illegal in most places and puts you at risk if you need to move quickly to avoid a hazard.

The Focus also takes “driver feedback” to another level, with an on-board “eco driving coach” that will analyze driving habits and help encourage the driver to be more efficient.

On the road, the car monitors the driver’s technique examining gear changes, the smoothness of steering and use of speed.

The results are displayed on the instrument panel and highlight areas were improvements can be made. It also praises good eco-driving.

Eco-driver feedback systems are becoming more and more popular. FuelClinic is a type of feedback system, but isn’t real-time and doesn’t travel along with you in the car. Our new CarChip Pro does travel with you, providing real-time feedback when you accelerate too quickly, brake too aggressively, or exceed a pre-set speed limit. Other devices like the Rover from Cartasite provide similar feedback, and communicate wirelessly.

These uber-efficient diesels are not easily available in the US (you’ll need to look to Volkswagen if you want a diesel car here), nor is a ready supply of bio-diesel at pumps in many places – a classic chicken-and-egg dilemma.

Would you buy a small diesel-powered vehicle like the Focus mentioned? What if you could have your favorite make, manufacturer, and body style – but with a little-diesel option?



Believe Sustainability is the first member in South America of the Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT) Partnership

November 26, 2009 · Filed Under Community, FuelClinic, Motivations, Reducing Emissions, South America · Comment 

Source: Believe Sustainability

The current discussion on fighting climate change brings a clear need for reductions on greenhouse gases emissions caused by transportation. Transport related CO2 emissions are expected to increase 57% worldwide in the period 2005 – 2030, being 80 percent caused by transportation in developing countries. This is directly linked to an overall lack of sustainability represented by poor urban planning, increased motorization, increased air pollution and noise, growing congestion and decreasing road safety.

It is in this context that Believe Sustainability has become the newest member of Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT) Partnership, aiming to expand its projects on sustainable mobility worldwide.

SLoCaT Partnership is an international organization hosted by the UN Department of Economy and Social Affairs together with development banks and international agencies. It intends to provide opportunities for coordination and cooperation among organizations working on sustainable, low carbon transport.

Believe Sustainability SLoCaT Partnership has a multi-stakeholder membership of more than 40 organizations, among universities, governmental agencies, institutes and NGOs. To promote the partnership, members must demonstrate commitment towards sustainable mobility and low-carbon transportation, and promote the discussion at the regional, national and global level. Thus, Believe Sustainability, an organization located in Brazil that develops consulting on sustainable mobility and creator of the BetterAir Project http://www.projetomelhorar.com.br, comes in great time to join the Partnership, emphasizing the importance of the subject on developing countries in South America.

Center for Science and Environment (CSE)

Center for Transportation and Logistics Studies (PUSTRAL), Gadjah Mada University

Civic Exchange (CE)

EMBARQ, The WRI Center for Sustainable Transport

Global Environmental Facility (GEF)

Global Transport Knowledge Partnership (gTKP)

Interface for Cycling Expertise (I-CE)

International Union of Railways (UIC)

International Transport Forum (ITF)

Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES)

Institute for Transport Policy Studies (ITPS)

Institute of Transport Studies (ITS), University of California, Davis

Korean Transport Institute (KOTI)

Ministry of Land Infrastructure Transport and Tourism, Japan

National Center for Transportation Studies (NCTS), Philippines

Rockefeller Foundation

Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)

United Nations Environment Program (UNEP)

University College of London, Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomtaic Engineering

University of Transport and Communication (UTCC) Hanoi

VEOLIA Transport

WWF International



How to ensure people’s transportation and at the same time be sustainable?

by Lincoln Pavia, The MelhorAr Project 
 
The better that the economy of a country is, the greater the demand will be for transportation and the larger the impact will be on the public transportation service and the emission of CO2, with obvious repercussions on the traffic of towns and cities.
 
The MelhorAr (Improve Air) Project of Sustainable Mobility arose from the need to develop a culture concerned with managing the demand for mobility in a sustainable manner in order to reduce the use of individual transportation,  responsible for 70% of the occupation of the earth and for the problems arising from this option such as pollution and investments in modal infrastructure, as well as to discuss alternative, more sustainable means for cities.
 
Evaluating the current models of mobility of the large global urban centers, the  MelhorAr Project opted to develop projects focusing on the corporate market,  responsible for a large part of the transportation in cities, both of workers and of the distribution of consumer goods. This work model is unique throughout the world, as most consultancies perform with governments.
 
Nowadays the projects of sustainable mobility are still for the public sector, especially in Europe, where the main focus is on modal integration (interconnection between modes of transport) as a means of encouraging people to walk or cycle in order to reduce the pressure on public transportation. In developing countries where a large part of the population does not earn enough to use public transportation, the option for these cases is to get about on foot. However, to the extent that the economy becomes stronger in developing countries, these people end up opting for individual means of transport, as a large part of the public transportation does not cater efficiently for this new public of the layers D and E. Moreover, the most serious problem is the nonexistence of modal connections, so that people travel most of their route using a single mode. The challenge now in our country is to increase the options of collective means of travel without burdening towns and cities with works of infrastructure and investments in transportation which increase the social, economic and environmental impacts. In developed countries (G8), people usually choose to displacement by car, increasing pollution and affecting the quality of life of the population. Making life unbearable in the city.
 
 
 The most urgent challenge is to execute an inventory count of the emissions of public and private collective transportation. It is true that while most emissions come from individual means of transport, the automotive industry is already investing millions of dollars in building more economical, hybrid and electrical models and adapting their engines to cleaner fuels, although the traffic will continue to increase. In the collective transportation sector, we do not yet have an inventory count of emissions of the journeys made. The Public Sector will have to do its homework executing an inventory count of its fleet of buses, trains subway trains, etc. The metropolitan train and subway companies will be increasing their capacity of attending to the public by increasing their networks, which will generate a greater emission of CO2 as the Brazilian and others countries generation of power depends upon thermoelectric stations. The pertinent question is how much power will these increases require?  Countries has the capacity to build hydroelectric and thermoelectric stations, but will they be sufficient to cover the demand of new consumers, electric cars, collective electrical transportation?
 
How will the private sector of collective transportation be able to complement this demand with a quick, cheap, more efficient and sustainable public transportation?

Read more



Driver Distraction: New Presidential Text-Messaging-While-Driving Ban

President Obama’s new ban on text messaging behind the wheel of government vehicles and texting in personal vehicles if using government-issued phones or on official business is an important warning to motorists to the dangers of distracted driving.

Federal employees will not be allowed to text while driving, according to an executive order signed Wednesday night by President Obama.

Department of Transportation Secretary Ray H. LaHood on Thursday announced the measures aimed at curbing what he called a deadly epidemic of distracted driving.

The order covers federal employees when they are using government-provided cars or cellphones and when they are using their own phones and cars to conduct government business.

Separately, the federal government plans to ban text messaging by bus drivers and truckers who travel across state lines, and may also preclude them from using cellphones while driving, except in emergencies.

Tragically, distracted driving claims thousands of lives each year. Texting is becoming more and more popular with both teens and adults, and many of those teens who grew up texting are now getting behind the wheel as inexperienced – and distracted – drivers.  

Last year, 5,870 people died and 515,000 were injured nationally in crashes linked to distracted driving – often due to the increasing number of drivers who juggle cell phones, BlackBerries, and other gadgets.

Drivers who talk on cell phones are four times as likely to crash, regardless of whether they’re using a hands-free device, studies show. In fact, a yakking driver is just as much a road hazard as one who is legally drunk. Texting poses even greater risks, since motorists have to take their eyes off the road.

It’s not just cell phones and text messages. The availability and variety of in-car gadgets continues to grow, and with it the potential for distracting drivers long enough to reduce reaction time and rob drivers of that critical second or two that could mean the difference between accident avoidance or tragedy.



Beyond the PR – Additional Detail about Believe Sustainability

This morning we published a press release regarding the 2nd place finish in the ITS Congestion Challenge. I wasn’t really sure that a second place finish would be news worthy, but after seeking the advice of a few colleagues, I decided it wasn’t a bad idea.

I decided to highlight one of the most interesting bits in the release with a comment from Mr. Lincoln Paiva from Brazil who found FuelClinic at the ITS Congestion Challenge, and wants to work together to take advantage of our new “clean cities” derivative product currently under development.

One such silver lining is a partnership with Believe Sustainability in Brazil, who is interested in using FuelClinic to help reduce carbon emissions from transportation in São Paulo, one of the world’s largest and heavily populated cities.

“We are researching more sustainable ways to reduce the pressure of individual transport in the chaotic traffic in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro” said Lincoln Paiva, CEO of Believe Sustainability and Organizer of Improve Air (http://projetomelhorar.com.br/) Project Sustainable Mobility. “FuelClinic would provide a system that can help change the concept people have regarding the use of the car.”

Brazil is truly energy independent, with sugar-cane ethanol being plentiful, our little promotional video needed a few updates – including translation into Portuguese, and swapping out the “transportation relies on oil 98%” with a “20% of CO2 is produced by transportation”. Mr. Paiva wanted to use the animation during a conference he was speaking at, so we decided to produce a 2nd version.

Here’s the Portuguese version:

 



The Death of “Cash For Clunkers”

August 20, 2009 · Filed Under FuelClinic, LinkedIn, Tax Credits, Twitter, United States · Comment 

Seems like everyone has had enough ofCash for Clunkers“:

The Obama administration plans to end the popular $3 billion Cash for Clunkers program on Monday, giving car shoppers a few more days to take advantage of big government incentives.

The Transportation Department said Thursday the government will wind down the program on Monday at 8 p.m. EDT. Car buyers can receive rebates of $3,500 or $4,500 for trading in older vehicles for new, more fuel-efficient models…

…Through Thursday, auto dealers have made deals worth $1.9 billion and are on pace to exhaust the program’s $3 billion in early September. The incentives have generated more than 457,000 vehicle sales. Administration officials said they have reviewed nearly 40 percent of the transactions and have already paid out $145 million to dealers.

Administration officials said applications for rebates will not be accepted after 8 p.m. EDT Monday and dealers should not make additional sales without receiving all the necessary paperwork from their customers. Dealers will be able to resubmit rejected applications after the deadline.

Not soon enough, IMHO

Corvette:
 

New Truck:

 

Jag on Fire:

 

V10 Super Duty:



Announcing: IOU’s For Clunkers

If you’ve read this blog at all over the last month you know I do not support the CARS program because of it’s excessive wastefulness and questionable effect – perfectly good vehicles and used car parts being destroyed before their normal usable life-span in a dangerous and dirty government mandated procedure.

Now we’re learning that dealerships who participated and “fronted” the $3500 to $4500 government rebate to the customers are now having trouble getting the actual rebate from the government, causing immediate cash flow problems. They basically sold cars at a loss, intending to “make” their profit from somewhere in the rebate check.

If you remember the program works because the government offers consumers a roughly $4500 dollar rebate.

So every clunker a dealership takes in puts them in the red until the government reimburses them. “What you have is hundreds of thousands of dollars sitting out there waiting for the government to pay,” Speers said.
Sheppard Auto has yet to see any cash, “I’m not concerned,” Speers continued, “I think we will get paid, it’s just going to take longer than we anticipated.”

That is fine for big dealerships like Sheppard Motors and Kendall Auto. Kendall’s CEO said they have been paid for 84 of their clunkers, but they have sold about 600.

For smaller dealerships, keeping up with this could be trouble. “A small dealership would have a tough time continuing with this,” Jeff Shutt the GM of Nissan Lithia in Eugene said.

They are doing alright, despite not getting reimbursed for all their clunkers, but there are rumors in the industry that some small dealerships may have to discontinue the program, if they don’t see some cash fast.

Now dealers are waiting on the mailman, hoping that the check arrives soon enough to pay the bills. Wonderful. Payments are so slow that many dealers are opting-out of the IOU’s for Clunkers program.

What are your thoughts? Did you take advantage of C4C? If so, how did it work out for you?

UPDATE: Even more good news over at the LA Examiner

Natasha Bishop: My understanding of the program is that a customer comes in with their clunker and they hand it over to a dealership for a credit of $2500 to $4500 towards a new car.  Does the customer immediately get to take the new car home?

Megan N: The dealership must release the sold car even if government money has not yet been received.

Natasha Bishop:  Your dealership hands over the new car before any rebate money is seen?

Megan N:  Dealerships are having to front the cost and hope that they will get reimbursed by the government. Many dealerships would like to hold onto the sold car until they receive the government money.

Natasha Bishop:  That seems like a big risk for dealerships.  Why can’t dealerships hold cars?

Megan N:  The government is telling customers to report dealerships as they MUST release the car to the customer at time of purchase.

Natasha Bishop:  How does the dealership get their rebate for each clunker sale?

Megan N:  There are well over 20 pages of paperwork the dealership must fill out for each “Cash for Clunker” sold vehicle.  If there is one mistake on this paperwork the government will deny that dealership the money “rebate” for that sold vehicle. There are NO second chances to re-do this paperwork.

Natasha Bishop:  Sounds like dealerships could potentially lose millions of dollars from this program.  What happens to the clunkers when they are turned over to the dealership?



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