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Automobile Industry


California Funding Program Qualifying More Fleet Owners for Cleaner-Running Trucks and Retrofits

Ultra-low-sulfur diesel engine. Photo from Cleanmpg.com.

California has some of the nation’s toughest emissions standards for diesel vehicles operating within the state, even if they’re outside-based.

The state’s Air Resource Board has just approved changes to an existing $28 million financial assistance program that will increase the number of independent truck fleet owners qualifying to purchase new cleaner-running vehicles in California.

The changes made to the statewide Voucher Incentive Program (VIP) are designed to help owners comply early with the statewide truck and bus regulations passed in 2008.

“This will help a lot of small businesses owner comply with the law, and also ensure we continue the state’s efforts to fight pollution from diesel trucks and clean up the air,” said a statement by ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols

The approximately $28 million available through the program will be used to fund both truck replacements and exhaust retrofits statewide. The new vehicle parameter changes will qualify the following types of fleet owners for funding assistance:

  • Medium heavy-duty trucks with a gross vehicle weight of 19,501 pounds and above now qualify, compared to previously only heavy heavy-duty trucks with a declared vehicle weight greater than 60,000 pounds.
  • Trucks with mileage as low as 15,000 miles per year are now eligible, compared to previously when a truck had to operate a minimum of 30,000 miles per year or consume 4,700 gallons of diesel fuel per year during the previous two years.
  • High-mileage trucks can get up to $45,000 in voucher money, compared to previously when the maximum amount of a voucher was $35,000.
  • Owners with 2002 and older engines may qualify for a newer truck, where previously only trucks with 1993 and older engines were eligible.
  • Now there’s also a new funding option for up to $10,000 per truck for an exhaust retrofit.

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Luxury Automakers to Debut EV/Hybrids at New York International Auto Show

The all-electric BMW MINI E. Photo courtesy of Autocraze.com.

If you’ve ever wanted to test drive a concept car - with the bonus of it being environmentally friendly too - then you’re not going to want to miss next month’s New York International Auto Show.

Events will run from March 31-April 11, with the showroom floor opening to the public on April 3 and running to the last day of the show. Among the daily all-day events/exhibits will be the “Indoor Ride & Drive” in the Electric Vehicle Pavilion, which will give attendees the experience of driving non-emission vehicles.

Sponsors, participants, and exhibitors will include Mitsubishi Motors, as well as:    

  • THINK - an electric vehicle manufacturer. 
  • BMW MINI E - a fully electric, zero emissions brand vehicle.
  • PEP Stations - a provider of charge stations for electric vehicles to commercial facilities. 
  • Amp Electric Vehicles - a manufacturer and installer all-electric high performance drive trains for Chevrolet Equinox, Saturn Sky, and Pontiac Solstice vehicles.

Also at the show will be some luxury automakers that have stepped into the ‘green’ design arena, and will be exhibiting their newest concept cars.

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GM Expanding Into In-House Design and Development of Electric Motors

Betting on a growing eco-conscious consumer market, General Motors is continuing to diversify its business operations with an increasing emphasis on greener technologies. In the latest move in this direction, the company plans to expand its in-house vehicle development capabilities to include the design and manufacture of electric motors.

GM two-mode hybrid technology for the 2010 Chevrolet Tahoe. Image courtesy of automobilemag.com.

GM was selected last August by the U.S. Department of Energy for a $105 million grant for the construction of U.S. manufacturing initiatives to produce electric motors and related drive components.

GM plans to invest approximately $246 million in electric motor and electric drive manufacturing, including the construction of a high volume electric drive production facility at its Baltimore Transmission plant.

“The expansion of the Baltimore plant will generate a significant influx of money and jobs into the greater Baltimore area,” said Tom Stephens, GM vice chairman of global product operations. The company projects that this new initiative will allow it to create approximately 200 new jobs.

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Washington Auto Show Expanding Presence of Green Technologies

This year’s auto show season has begun with a focus on ‘green’ - both in the money and eco-friendly sense of the word. Among the first shows this year, The Washington Auto Show plans to more than double the size of its exhibits featuring ‘green’ cars and technologies.

Even before the actual exhibits open on Jan. 27, the day before will kick off with the beginning of the 2010 Electric Drive Transportation Association Conference at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

The EDTA is a cross-industry trade association that works in and outside of Washington, D.C. to promote the electrification of transportation, including battery, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and fuel cell vehicles. Members include automotive and equipment manufacturers, energy companies, technology developers, as well as battery and component suppliers.

Among the issues that are set to be discussed will be ways to accelerate the development and adoption of fuel-efficient electric drive vehicles.

As for the actual ‘green’ exhibiting, the show will feature a 65,000 square-foot display called the Advanced Technology SuperHighway, which will showcase advancements in electric, diesel, natural gas, advanced petroleum, biofuels, ethanol, hydrogen, and safety technologies.

Adding to the excitement, Green Car Journal has announced the finalists for its 2010 Green Vision Award, which will be presented at the auto show‘s “Change Happens Here” event on Jan. 26.

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GM India and Reva Electric Car Co. Partnering to Expand Eastern Presence

Despite the global recession, General Motors India and Reva Electric Car Co. are set to close the year on a high gear.

At last week’s Los Angles Auto Show, Robert A. Lutz, GM’s vice chairman of global product development, said, “Today, we have a much healthier balance sheet, with significantly less debt. We’re positioned to be profitable in anything close to a normal automotive sales market. And, we’ll begin to repay our government loans sooner than expected, starting this month.”

On the international front, Mr. Lutz remarked about GM’s newest ‘green’ India partnership, saying, “In September, we signed an agreement with Reva Electric Car Company to cooperate in the development of small car platform based electric vehicles for India.

“Our goal is to jointly develop, with Reva, electric vehicle technology, and advanced vehicle control systems. We’re also working closely with the government of India to develop an electric vehicle infrastructure.”

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