Propane Autogas Ford Transit Expected in 2015

ford-transitThe Ford Transit 3.7L engine conversion to propane autogas is in development and expected to go in for EPA certification by January 2015, according to Blossman Services, managing member of Alliance AutoGas and exclusive United States distributor of Prins Autogas products.

The Transit will be the first “bolt & plug” conversion to be installed by Blossman Services which says the bi-fuel Prins VSI system conversion will require no intake manifold drilling, cutting, or splicing of wiring. The Ford Transit conversion will go into testing this month.

Replacing the Ford E-Series, the Ford Transit vans and wagons are available in single and dual-rear wheels models, with three body lengths, and three roof heights to choose from. Configurations cover 8, 10, 12 and 15 passenger seating, providing flexible cargo volume and payload options. Compared with the previous Ford full-size E-Series van, the all-new Transit Wagon offers higher fuel economy ratings and is designed to haul cargo or carry people. The 3.7L Ti-VCT V6 surpasses the E-Series standard 4.6L V8 gas engine in EPA estimated highway mpg by 19 percent.

RFA’s Geoff Cooper on Bobby Likis Show

likis-smallThe “Bobby Likis Car Clinic” featured Renewable Fuels Association Senior Vice President Geoff Cooper on show’s live globalcast this past Saturday, November 8.

Cooper addressed a variety of topics including the truth behind the fictional food vs. fuel argument, as well as the hot button issue of greenhouse gas – or GHG – emissions and the role ethanol plays in reducing their output into the ozone. Cooper will also share with Car Clinic audiences the benefits and the commercialization of cellulosic ethanol.

“RFA recently conducted a study that shows while corn prices have plummeted, food prices have remained steady or have risen,” said Cooper. “The petroleum industry would like to pin any increase in food prices on the ethanol industry when in fact it is oil that drives food prices.”

Listen to Cooper’s interview with Bobby here and watch the video below: Bobby Likis interviews RFA's Geoff Cooper

Two-Thirds of New Vehicles Approved for E15

E15-americasAuto manufacturers explicitly approve the use of E15 (15 percent ethanol blend fuel) in approximately two-thirds of new vehicles, according to the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

RFA’s analysis of model year (MY) 2015 warranty statements and owner’s manuals finds that nearly 63 percent of MY 2015 vehicles will have E15 approval from their manufacturers. E15 is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for all 2001 and newer vehicles — accounting for roughly 80 percent of the vehicles on the road today. When coupled with expected MY 2015 flex-fuel vehicle (FFV) production, it is estimated that E15 will be allowed in close to 70 percent of MY 2015 vehicles. Manufacturers approve the use of up to 85 percent ethanol blends in FFVs.

The RFA analysis revealed several interesting trends:

After approving the use of E15 in some of its 2014 Honda and Acura models, Honda Motor Company has extended E15 warranty coverage to all models in 2015.

All Toyota models in 2015 include explicit E15 approval, up from just a fraction of Toyota models in 2014. Just as in 2014, E15 is approved for use in most, but not all, 2015 Lexus models.

For the fourth year in a row, General Motors approves the use of E15 in all models. Similarly, E15 is approved in all Ford models for the third year in a row. Vehicles from these two automakers alone account for roughly one-third of sales in the United States.

Audi, Jaguar, Land Rover, Porsche, and Volkswagen also expressly approved the use of E15 in their 2015 models.

The analysis also found that the Chrysler Group failed for the fourth year in a row to approve the use of E15 in owners’ manuals for its models. Despite that, a significant share of Chrysler output is expected to be FFV-capable, meaning E15 is approved for use in those vehicles.

Simplifying Propane Autogas Dispensers

2014 World LP Gas Forum Photo Album

perc-wlpgf14-superiorOne of the keys to getting more propane-powered vehicles on the road is getting more propane autogas fueling infrastructure and making it safe and simple for users.

Superior Energy Systems offers a whole line of autogas dispensing systems and during a Propane Education & Research Council event at the World LP Gas Forum, Mike Walters talked about how they are making it so easy your grandmother can use it. “The whole idea is to get autogas fueling to the point of being so similar to gasoline that people aren’t afraid of it,” said Walters, showing off what they nicknamed the Granny Nozzle. “It’s so simple that granny can pull into the C-store and fuel up her SUV without having to have personal protective equipment.”

“What we’re talking about here is low emission transfer versus no emission transfer,” Walters said.

Listen to Walters here and watch the video below to see the system. Mike Walters, Superior Energy Systems

PERC Names Top Propane Autogas Green Fleet

alpha-bakingChicago-based Alpha Baking Company received this year’s Propane Autogas Fleet award from the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) at the annual Green Fleet Conference & Expo in Schaumburg, Illinois this week.

The award honors one public or private fleet every year for leadership in sustainability by switching to clean, American-made propane autogas. Alpha Baking, a national bakery products distributor and home to the iconic S. Rosen’s brand, developed and implemented 22 Ford E-450 bread delivery trucks in 2012 with the help of Roush CleanTech.

“Alpha Baking’s primary reason for adopting propane autogas was because it was the right thing to do. Propane autogas reduces harmful emissions, it’s made in the U.S., it reduces our dependency on foreign oil, it’s efficient, and it keeps our communities clean,” said Bob McGuire, Alpha Baking’s vice president and director of logistics, who accepted the award during the Green Fleet Awards ceremony. “Choosing vehicles that run on American-made propane autogas has also allowed us to lower fuel costs without sacrificing performance.”

Hear more about Alpha Baking’s experience with propane autogas in PERC’s latest Straight Talk video at propanestraighttalk.com.

ACE Thanks Motorclubs’ Endorsement of E15

Gene Hammond and Mark Muncey, co-owners of Travelers Motor Club and Association Motor Club Marketing have endorsed E15 (15 percent ethanol and 85 percent petroleum in motor gasoline). American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty thanked the motorclubs, who have members in all 50 states, for setting the record straight on E15.

Hammond, who has worked in the auto club business for 40 years said, “Not one of our over 18 million members has called us with a problem related to the new E15 fuel or any E15ethanol blend. Travelers Motor Club and Association Motor Club Marketing support the use of E15 in vehicles as a safe and affordable alternative to gasoline.”

Lamberty called it “eerily appropriate” for the auto clubs to speak out so close to Halloween. “Ethanol opponents have done a masterful job of devising E15 horror stories, and we appreciate these two motor clubs shining the light on the campaign being waged by Big Oil and AAA, and showing drivers that the E15 monsters aren’t real.”

“Real-world results trump ghost stories, and the real-world findings of these two auto clubs mirror what we have heard from fuel station owners who sell E15: they’ve had no customer complaints, no breakdowns, and no repair bills from drivers who fill-up with E15,” continued Lamberty. “In fact, because E15 is a higher-octane fuel that costs less than regular, stations with E15 are gaining customers and E15 has become the second highest volume fuel in most of the stations that sell it.”

Lamberty said the motor clubs’ announcement, coupled with last week’s U.S. Court of Appeals ruling rejecting an E15 lawsuit filed by Big Oil, automakers, and the small engine lobby, “offers hope that truth will win out over fear-mongering”. Continue reading

Bobby Likis Car Clinic Globalcast Features Ethanol

likis-logoBobby Likis Car Clinic recent globalcast featured topic was ethanol with guest Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). More specifically the two discussed issues around the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

During the program, Dinneen explained that the RFS and ethanol production saves consumers money at the pump, decreases America’s foreign oil dependence, and helps rural America. He discussed the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed cuts to the RFS and the negative impact those cuts would have on consumers and investment in next-generation ethanol.

Dinneen said, “In today’s environment of misinformation and spin, it is absolutely vital that consumers know the truth about ethanol and understand the role the Renewable Fuel Standard plays in furthering America’s energy independence, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and lowering the price of gasoline for drivers.” He adds, “I was proud to join Car Clinic’s Bobby Likis to give an overview of the political, regional, and agricultural factors that play into the future of ethanol production and explain the benefits of ethanol to drivers all across the country. Their votes of confidence in the RFS will count in the upcoming election.”

Likis, who is an automotive and ethanol expert, reflects, “When presented with facts – which Bob Dinneen delivers in easy-to-understand terms – American consumers and voters are smart enough to make the right decision at the polls in November. That’s how the RFS was passed in the first place. Clearly, the RFS has delivered to voters: lowering prices at the gas pump; reducing dependence on foreign oil; stimulating regional economies; giving the environment a fighting chance; and incenting investors to keep their money in the US as they research and develop new seed and other technologies to increase efficiencies and crop yields.”

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.

Wind Turbines Outperforming Expectations at Honda

Wind turbine energy output is exceeding expectations just six months after installation at the Honda Transmission Mfg of America plant located in Russells Point, Ohio. The two wind turbines have exceeded the projected power output figures by 6.3 percent. The turbines, standing 260 feet tall with 160-foot blades, were initially projected to produce upwards of 10,000 megawatt hours (MWH) of electricity per year, accounting for approximately 10 percent of the plant’s annual power needs. The turbines have outperformed company projections in four of the six months since operation began. At their highest output, the turbines provided 16.26 percent of the plant’s power requirements for the month of April.

“We are extremely pleased with the performance of the wind turbines’ production over their first six months,” said Gary Hand, Vice President of Honda Transmission Mfg. of America. “The turbines’ operation has exceeded the projections established during the project development.”

The wind turbines have also contributed toward reducing the CO2 emissions of power production, helping HHondaturbinesSMrevonda reach its voluntary goals to reduce the environmental impact of its products and manufacturing operations by 2020. This includes a 30 percent reduction in CO2 emissions from Honda products, and significant CO2 reductions from the company’s plants and other operations, compared with year 2000 levels.

We are pleased to observe the performance of the two on-site wind turbines are achieving results over and above what Honda had anticipated. From the outset, we were confident that the site location selected would allow the GE turbines to produce a significant amount of the facility’s’ energy requirements,” said Tyler Juhl, vice president of operations for Juhl Energy who developed and installed the turbines.

The installation of the turbines makes the plant the first major automotive facility in the United States to receive a substantial amount of its power from on-site wind turbines. The two turbines are owned by ConEdison Solutions.

Michael W. Gibson, vice president of energy services at ConEdison Solutions, added of the wind power achievement, “ConEdison Solutions takes tremendous pride in our commitment to customers, and we are proud to be helping Honda implement its innovative energy program at Russells Point. With this initiative, Honda has set an excellent example for the American manufacturing sector, and we are gratified that they have been pleased with its success.”

Participate in the Annual Nat’l Electric Drive Week

If you haven’t had the experience of driving an electric vehicle, now is your chance. The 4th Annual National Drive Electric Week is September 15-21, 2014 and will take place in 115 cities in 35 states and oversees. The event allows consumers the opportunity to see the benefits first hand of driving an electric vehicle including clean-air and cost-savings, by participating in ride-and-drives.

National Drive Electric Week (formerly National Plug In Day) has quadrupled in size since its launch in 2011. This year organizers said it is expected to draw at least 35,000 attendees. Drive Electric logoMany cities are participating for the first time while other cities have participated since the event was founded. Just as U.S. plug-in vehicle sales are expected to reach their first quarter-million mark, cities will offer one-day activities or observe the celebration’s entire week, organized nationally by Plug In America, the Sierra Club and the Electric Auto Association.

“As we celebrate the first quarter-million plug-ins sold, these vehicles continue their inevitable march toward mainstream adoption,” said Plug in America President Richard Kelly. “Plug-ins offer the industry’s most efficient technology, freedom from gas stations, costly car repairs and reliance on foreign oil, and the option to drive on renewable energy, delivering tremendous public health and environmental benefits. National Drive Electric Week offers everyone the chance to learn this first hand.”

National Drive Electric Week events target people who have never driven EVs and offer ride-and-drives of every plug-in on the market. All the events are free.

“Don’t let Drive Electric Week zoom past without visiting an event near you. Electric cars take fuel efficiency and state-of-the-art technology to an exciting new level,” added Said Sierra Club’s Director of Future Fleet & Electric Vehicles Initiative, Gina Coplon-Newfield.

Here are some examples of what cities across the U.S. are planning:

  • Connecticut’s Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection and the state’s Automotive Retailers Assn. will award the state dealership with highest plug-in sales.
  • The mayor of Huntington Beach is expected to appear at Surf City’s seaside event.
  • Stella, the world’s first solar-powered family car and winner of last year’s World Solar Challenge, birthplace of the storied EV1, will visit Cupertino, where organizers are attempting to break the Guinness world record for most EVs assembled.
  • Poolesville, Maryland’s event could draw 10,000, staged next to an annual fest replete with a town parade and marching band.
  • Houston will celebrate EVs at a solar-powered IKEA store, which will trumpet the event on its electronic billboard, visible from a major freeway intersection. Attendant mini-events will take place at EV charging stations around the sprawling city.
  • Scottsdale, Arizona’s event will bring EV efficiency to the site of one of nation’s longest running gasoline-car shows.
  • UCLA and Santa Monica High School will share the EV message with youth through lectures and other activities of the new National Drive Electric Week Ambassador School initiative.
  • 50 EVs in New Hampshire will scale Mount Washington, the northeast’s highest peak.

For more information about National Electric Drive Week and to find a city near you, visit www.driveelectricweek.org.

Future for Ethanol Blends

ace14-lambertyGetting higher blends of ethanol in the marketplace continues to be frustrating, even with the approval of E15 (15% ethanol).

The biggest problem continues to be roadblocks by oil companies, according to American Coalition for Ethanol Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty, who compared the sale and use of E15 to premium gasoline. “If you total (all the) vehicles that could use E15, we’re closing in on 15 million vehicles,” said Lamberty, which is 20% of the vehicles on the road. In contrast, about 12% of total cars are supposed to use premium gas, according to their owners manuals, but only 3% of the gas sold is premium. “Oil companies demand that marketers put premium in their stations … oil companies ban E15 sales,” said Lamberty. Ron Lamberty, ACE Senior VP

ace14-drakeFollowing Lamberty at the ACE annual conference this week, Dean Drake of the DeFour Group talked about the next chapter for ethanol blend fuels.

Drake, who spent 34 years with General Motors, says increasing ethanol blends will require significant cooperation between automakers, government, and the ethanol industry. “Neither oil nor ethanol by themselves are a perfect transportation fuel, largely because of octane,” said Drake. “Gasoline is the king when it comes to energy density, but it also has a fairly low octane rating. Ethanol, while having less energy, has a very high octane rating.”

He talked about the potential for what he calls “eco-performance” fuels. “What we’re talking about here is a fuel that would be widely available that would allow auto manufacturers to build advanced vehicles,” he said.

Learn more here: Dean Drake, DeFour Group

27th Annual Ethanol Conference photo album

Audi Moves to Improve EV Owner Experience

A3-sportback-etron-exterior-08Audi of America has announced the launch of a new program: Audi energy. The program is designed to improve the electric vehicle ownership experience as well as reduce the carbon footprint that comes with vehicle production, distribution and driving. Ultimately, the program will produce a new plug in hybrid vehicle – the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron – estimated to be available in the U.S. in mid 2015.

The program has three elements associated with the A3 e-etron:

  • At-home Audi-designed Level 2 charging developed with Bosch Automotive Service Solutions;
  • Audi will purchase carbon offset certificates in California and Africa to offset GHG emissions; and
  • Sunpower will provide optional home solar power system for Audi owners including a new home energy storage solution to capture additional solar energy.

“The Audi A3 Sportback e-tron will offer drivers an eco-conscious vehicle ownership experience,” said Wayne Killen, General Manager, Product Strategy and Launch. “Audi energy takes this to the next level with solutions that allow for sustainable fuel driving and a lower carbon footprint. We believe this will be one of the most comprehensive offering in the industry today.”

Plug-In Electric Vehicles Talk in the Cloud

Plug-In electric vehicles (EV) will soon be “talking in the cloud” as Ford Motor Company collaborates with seven of the world’s largest automakers and 15 utility companies to develop technologies for EVs to talk to the utilities via the cloud. According to Ford, this would help manage energy use and improve the efficiency of the power grid.

The pilot program will create a standards-based communications platform for use by plug-in EVs and the electric grids. This platform will enable the utilities to contact vehicle customers who have opted-in to the program, sending a request for those cars to stop charging temporarily to help manage a grid that is DCF 1.0becoming overloaded. This approach uses existing communications technology and standards, such as Ford’s MyFord® Mobile App, and pushes to advance those systems by enabling two-way communication between the electric grid and electric vehicles.

“This innovative platform provides a critical enabler for the next step in vehicle electrification,” said Mike Tinskey, associate global director, Electrification Infrastructure for Ford. “It’s a way for plug-in electric vehicle drivers to be financially rewarded for their willingness to help manage the electric grid.”

Participating utility companies are prepared to offer financial incentives to owners who make their cars available to the grid, similar to utilities offering customers discounts for allowing their home air conditioning to run intermittently during times of high demand. Customers who opt-in to the program can charge their cars at a location of their choice and have the ability to ignore the utility’s request to stop charging.

The formal collaboration between the automakers, utilities and Electric Power Research Institute began in fall 2012. However, the concept and application of electric vehicle/grid integration has been studied extensively by numerous research groups for more than 10 years.

GM Fuel Cell Vehicles Surpasses 3 Million Miles

General Motors’ fleet of fuel cell vehicles has surpassed the three million mile mark running on hydrogen-power. According to GM, some individual vehicles have accumulated more than 120,000 miles and by using hydrogen, the fleet has avoided 157,894 gallons of gasoline consumption. This specially equipped fleet of Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell vehicles are part of GM hydrogen-powered Chevrolet EquinoxGM’s 119-vehicle Project Driveway program, which launched in 2007. Since then, more than 5,000 drivers have provided feedback on the functionality and drivability of fuel cell technology.

“Hydrogen fuel cell technology is an important part of GM’s advanced propulsion portfolio and we continue to make substantial progress in furthering this technology,” said Charlie Freese, executive director of GM’s global fuel cell engineering activities. “These vehicles have operated through seven full winters and a wide range of environmental conditions, proving that fuel cells can meet the demands of real-world drivers.”

GM has announced several fuel cell-related collaborations over the past few years. In July, 2013, GM and Honda announced a long-term collaboration to co-develop next-generation fuel cell and hydrogen storage systems, aiming for potential commercialization in the 2020 time frame. In addition, GM and Honda are working together with stakeholders to further advance refueling infrastructure, which is critical for the long-term viability and consumer acceptance of fuel cell vehicles.

Also last year GM opened a new state-of-the-art Fuel Cell Development Laboratory at GM Powertrain World Headquarters in Pontiac, Mich. In September, 2013 GM and the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development & Engineering Center (TARDEC) jointly announced an expansion of their relationship for testing automotive fuel cell technology.

EPA Releases Tier 3 Emission Standards

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released its Tier 3 Vehicle Emission and Fuel Standard Program rules. The purpose of the program is to reduce impacts of motor vehicles on air quality and public health. In addition to lower the gasoline sulfur standard, the program is supposed to reduce both tailpipe and evaporative emissions from passenger cars, light-duty truck, medium-duty passenger vehicles and some heavy-duty vehicles. The proposed rule was released on May 31, 2013 and the final rule was signed on March 3, 2014.

EPA_LOGOIn a nutshell, what does this mean for the alternative fuel industry? It means that in some circumstances alternative fuels such as higher blends of ethanol could emerge as next generation automotive fuels. Tier 3 fuels are considered fuels that the automotive industry can “test” to meet the emission standards. The EPA’s rule finalizes an ethanol content of 10 percent (E10) for emissions test gasoline. However, the biofuels industry was lobbying for higher ethanol blends to be approved as test fuels such as E15 and E30. This did not come to pass.

So in other words, an automotive company can test “E15″ and find positive emission reduction results, but since it is not considered a legal “test fuel,” the fuel can’t be considered meeting (or exceeding) the EPA’s emission standards.

“It’s not the greatest thing since sliced bread; but at least there’s dough in the machine,” said Advanced Biofuels USA’s vehicle emissions expert, Robert Kozak. “We didn’t get everything that we wanted but two items are important. 1) The new requirement that vehicles be tested and certified using E10 (10% ethanol blend that is standard fuel across the country); and 2) The opportunity for manufacturers to request approval of another new certification fuel such as high octane/high ethanol E30 (30% ethanol blend).”

The next step, says Kozak, is to begin working with the EPA immediately to approve the next round of text fuels such as E30. Others in the industry agree that E15 and E30 should be legal test fuels but some believe the next step is to sue the EPA because limiting the higher ethanol blends as test fuels will limit the automakers research and deployment of more and better optimized vehicles, such as flex fuel vehicles, designed to capitalize on ethanol fuel blends.