Self-driving cars are in the news this week.  The vehicles use use radar, video cameras and lasers to navigate roads and stay safe in traffic without human assistance.. The Telegraph reports that self-driving cars are “not far off” and TechNewsDaily tells us how much we are going to love self-driving cars. The latter says “the gradual switch to a hands-off driving approach promises perks including saving on gas money, faster commutes and the luxury of texting on smartphones without risking a crash.” We further learn from the Los Angeles Times that a bill to allow for self-driving cars passed the California Senate.

Scientists think that hydrogen is tomorrow’s biofuel according to PHYS ORG. Researchers at the University of Birmingham are creating clean biohydrogen from food waste paving the way for a bioenergy alternative for the future. Creating clean hydrogen from waste not only uses that waste but provides a fuel that is emission free.

China is subsidizing the production and purchase of energy efficient cars to the tune of a billion dollars says Reuters.

Green Car Reports posts that E15 ethanol can damage vehicle engines.  A two year study by the Coordinating Research Council (CRC) says that E15 gasoline, which contains 15% ethanol, could damage the engines of certain high-volume car and truck models. The study monitored cylinder compression, valve leakage and wear, engine emissions, and emissions-control diagnostics. The US Environmental Protection Agency has conditionally approved the use of E15 for cars built between 2001 and 2009.  The CRC says the EPA did not wait until all the research was completed before coming to its decision. However, as the post makes clear, the issue is academic at this point as no E15 is available in the US right now because the proper equipment to dispense it has yet to be installed.

Do hybrids save us money?  Hybrid vehicles cost more upfront than comparable gasoline models, but get better fuel economy. So will we save money in the long run? Green Car Reports directs us to a website to help us answer that question.  FuelEconomy.gov  has a tool that enables us to compare the costs of purchasing and operating a hybrid and its equivalent gasoline model.

From Hybrid Cars we learn that Chevrolet Volt drivers average 1400 km (900 miles) between gasoline fillups. See also Autoevolution.

DesignNews tackles the question: Why Is EV Battery Development So Hard? The answer?  It is a painstaking process. Unlike electronics where semi-conductor manufacturers are working with one material – silicon – and refining it over time, battery makers are working with new and multiple materials and are always coming up against the laws of thermodynamics. “You can do anything you want to those materials, but you aren’t ever going to get any more energy out of them than the thermodynamics allow… Battery development is just hard, slow work.”

RTCC finds that businesses are abandoning fossil fuels and moving to green fleets in an effort to reduce fuel costs. A new report from consultancy firm Grant Thorton found that one in four business leaders have either implemented alternative transport fuel policies or are actively pursuing them. High on the list are natural gas, electric, hybrid and biofuel powered vehicles for their fleets. You can see the report here. Yet in the UK, business drivers are “turned off” by the limited range of EVs and lack of charging points we learn from TheGreenCar. In that country vehicle leasing company ALD Automotive revealed that six in ten business drivers would not change their current vehicle for an electric vehicle because of these factors.

Propel Fuels is rethinking the American gas station says Market Watch. The retail fuel company, with 28 stations in California and Washington, is starting to offer renewable fuels (E85 Flex Fuel, biodiesel blends) alongside conventional fuels (gasoline, diesel). In future each station will add natural gas and electric charging points.

hybridCars tells us that hybrid diesel-electric buses are coming to Chicago. The Chicago Transit Authority has ordered 33 diesel-electric articulated buses which seat 115. The buses should be on the road by mid-2013.

There were a number of posts this week about renting electric vehicles.  Torque News noted that EV Rentals Help Drive Electric Car Introduction and greenwise mentioned plans by rental company Hertz to begin an EV share service in Oxford, England. ClickGreen is calling Oxford, “the electric car capital of Europe” now that it has one of the highest densities of EV charging points anywhere in Europe. MyPerfectAutomobile talked about MPG Car Rental in Venice, California which has an all green fuel fleet including EVs and hybrids. You can visit the company’s website here.

Digital Journal reports on a conference in London, England where Hertz told the audience that it has the most diverse fleet of EVs and plug-in hybrids available in the rental market. It is renting EVs by Nissan, Renault, Vauxhall Motors, Chevrolet, GM, Mitsubishi, and Tesla in 10 cities on 3 continents. In London Hertz data shows that the average electric vehicle rental is six hours, with an average journey of 16.81 miles.

plugincars pondered the question: Does EV Quick-Charging By the Minute Make Sense?

The UK has its first pay-as-you-go EV charging network. businessGreen says that EV drivers in the UK could soon be able to charge their vehicles without signing up to different membership schemes for different regions of the country. London-based electric car charging company POD Point is plannng 620 chargers nationwide available on a pay-as-you-go basis by the end of 2012 and hopes to expand the size of the network to 2,000 charge points by the end of 2013.

Azocleantech informs us about a new solar charging station for Chevy Volts in the city of Joliet, Illinois.  And solar panels on a train station in Westport, Connecticut will soon be charging EVs in that town reports the Westport News.

The campus of the University of Texas at El Paso now has 10 EV charging stations according to the Houston Chronicle.


 

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