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Automobile Industry


Zero To Debut Its 2012 Electric Motorcycles In November At the EICMA: Milan Motorcycle Show

Zero Motorcycles will attend the EICMA show for the first time this year, where it plans to launch its 2012 line of electric motorcycles. The company is keeping quiet about the details of what it plans to do at the show, but if the past year is any indication, it should be something to see!

Zero S electric motorcycle. Photo courtesy of Zero Motorcycles.

Last month, Zero participated in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Joint Energy and Transportation Conference in San Francisco. The major themes of the conference included transportation’s role in a clean energy future, involving “transportation systems for livable low-carbon communities.”

Low-carbon producing energy sources, such as biofuels and electricity, were also discussed. In support of greener fuel initiatives, Ray LaHood, U.S. Secretary of Transportation, said in a statement at the conference that, “Our roads, runways, railroads, waterways, and transit systems all must move greater numbers of people and products, while leaving a smaller environmental footprint.”

Zero had the opportunity at the conference to give LaHood a personal demonstration of its 2011 electric motorcycles. He expressed support for extending federal tax credits for electric motorcycles in talking with the company.

In May, the company also had the distinction of its Zero S electric motorcycle receiving the ‘e-Bike of the Year Award at Europe’s Clean Week 2020.

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Driving Electric Vehicles Set To Become A More Widespread Practical Option In Netherlands

Lots of reasons exist for why more people still haven’t made the switch to electric vehicles, and most of them have to do with cost and convenience.

Photo courtesy of The Holland Sentinel .

Even for those willing to pay the higher cost for an electric vehicle, there has always been the issue of recharging infrastructure. Owners could recharge their vehicles at home, but then they could only go for short distances for fear of running out of power.

Over the last couple a years, a number of companies have been developing public infrastructures by creating networks of electric vehicle charging stations.

Some of the most notable have been Better Place partnering with government of Ontario, Canada in an effort to develop an electric car infrastructure in the province, and the company signing an agreement with Jerusalem to develop a charging infrastructure for electric vehicles in the city.

In the United States, General Motors has partnered with a number of utilities to install over 500 Pacific Coast charging stations for public use.

Now also getting into the building game is a new electric vehicles infrastructure provider called The New Motion. It’s a fledgling company that’s only been around since 2009, but it’s already making its mark in the Netherlands.

Earlier this month, The New Motion opened its first “fast charging station” for electric vehicle at the Van der Valk Hotel Vianen (Netherlands). The station is the first of what is set to be a national network of 30 stations, with the target of having them all in place by the end of 2012.

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Ford Expanding Fuel Saving Hybrid Technology To Conventional Vehicles

2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid. Photo courtesy of caremycars.com.

If you’re like most people, you aren’t very comfortable with change, so if you’ve driven a conventional vehicle your whole life, you might not be quite ready to take the leap into a hybrid or electric.

Getting use to new technologies can be a bit intimidating, but the good news is that some of that hybrid fuel efficiency will soon be coming to conventional vehicles, and it won’t require you to change your driving habits at all.

Ford is working on adapting one of its popular gas saving feature from its hybrids to its conventional models. It’s a feature that automatically shuts off the engine when you hold down the brake while you’re stopped and automatically starts it again when you take your foot off the brake.

In the United States, the feature currently exists in the Ford Fusion Hybrid and Ford Escape Hybrid. The global rollout of its “auto start-stop” system is already underway in Europe. The system is designed to work on both gasoline and diesel engines, and is standard on the Ford Ka and Mondeo.

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U.S. National Policy Proposed to Lower Trucking Industry Fuel Use and Greenhouse Emissions

This year UPS added 200 new hybrids to its fleet. Photo by roadtransport.com.

Radical changes are speeding toward the auto industry as regulators feel an increasing push from the Obama administration to reduce oil consumption and lower greenhouse gases. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have just proposed a new initiative called the Heavy Duty National Program, geared to reducing the fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of medium and heavy duty vehicles, such as large pickup trucks, vans, semi-trucks, as well as all types and sizes of work trucks and buses.

The agencies estimate that the combined proposed standards have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 250 million metric tons and save approximately 500 million barrels of oil over the life of vehicles sold from 2014 to 2018.

“The new rules are expected to save truckers more than $35 billion in net benefits. Whether you’re an independent contractor who relies on a pickup truck or an independent operator of a full size semi, shrinking fuel costs will mean more money in your pocket,” said Ray LaHood, secretary of transportation.

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U.S.Legislators Grant Billions to Electrify Auto Industry Fearing Foreign Oil Security Risks

Over the last two years, U.S. legislators have given out over $2 billion in grants and loans to companies for the research and development of energy efficient green technologies for the nation’s auto industry.

A major motivator is fear. The latest government report - The Recovery Act: Transforming the American Economy through Innovation - found that, “Oil powers 95 percent of America’s cars, trucks, ships, planes, and rail cars.

“The United States is the largest oil consumer and importer in the world and relies on imports for more than half of its oil consumption. This dependence on oil is an energy security threat and increases U.S. economic vulnerability.” Additionally, it acknowledges that, “The environmental impact of petroleum-powered vehicles is also a rising concern.”

The bulk of the grant money to the auto industry has gone into building factories and facilities for improving electric vehicles, new battery technologies, electric power trains, and the development of charge stations.

The report speculates that, “Today, an American driving 32 miles a day to and from work will spend almost $1,000 a year on gasoline, each day adding to U.S. dependence on foreign oil. A consumer driving an electric car would save over $630 per year powering the car with electricity generated in American power plants instead of gasoline made from imported oil.”

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