The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has given the approval for gas stations to sell gasoline-ethanol blends containing up to 15% ethanol reports the DesMoinesRegister. Most gasoline sold in the United States and Canada currently sell a mix of 10% ethanol. Corn-based ethanol has been pushed by the ethanol industry and American farmers who supply corn as a way to reduce U.S. dependence on imported oil, create jobs and boost income for rural communities. Critics say that ethanol leads to food inflation by driving up the cost of meat and poultry and can damage internal combustion engines.

greener ideal gives us The Unfortunate History and Hopeful Future of Electric Cars. brings our attention to a new book that questions the environmental benefits of electric cars and hybrids. These vehicles are neither clean nor green according to Green Illusions (June 2012, University of Nebraska Press), written by University of California – Berkeley visiting scholar Ozzie Zehner. His anlysis considers mining impacts, toxins, energy use, suburban sprawl and carbon footprints of production. From an environmental perspective, Zehner argues that hybrids and electric cars are no better than gasoline vehicles, a conclusion backed by the US National Academy of Sciences. “Shifting from gasoline to electric vehicles is like switching a smoking habit from cloves to menthols,” asserts Zehner. “It isn’t acceptable for doctors to promote menthol cigarettes — should environmentally minded people promote alternative fuel cars?”

reve tells us Range Anxiety is the Mortal Enemy of Electric Vehicles. “Range anxiety is always and everywhere the mortal enemy of EV efficiency… When consumers and government start weighing the true cost of electric drive against it’s largely illusory benefits the house of cards will collapse and investors will suffer.” The author does the math to show how inefficient electric batteries are and how much they waste scarce nonferrous metals as the recycling costs are too high to justify salvaging them. In a related post, MarketWatch explores what happens to hybrid and electric vehicle batteries. Right now there are not enough used electric batteries to justifying a recycling industry. However, Edmonds predicts that over the long term, recycling will play an important role in reducing the costs of hybrids and EVs. “The reuse of the metals and rare-earth compounds that make these batteries work will help keep costs down, and the market for used batteries also will help prop up the resale value of electric-drive vehicles, which is a definite plus for consumers” says green car analyst John O’Dell. While a profitable recycling industry is unlikely for another decade, firms in the US are already preparing for that day. Edmunds.thinks that once battery recycling hits full throttle, it should be a painless process for consumers. Auto dismantlers and designated recyclers will handle all the recycling; the car owner won’t have to do anything except get the vehicle and its faltering battery to a dealer.

Frost & Sullivan writes about the potential EV market in Central and Eastern Europe. EV sales in Central and Eastern Europe are anticipated to cross the 60,000 mark by 2017 as demand increases from growing urban areas. Additional growth is likely with the development of less costly battery technology. As in Western Europe, the greatest barrier to rapid EV growth is the construction of an ubiquitous charging infrastructure.

BusinessWire tells us about a new report on the global EV charging station market. Research and Markets expects this market to increase by almost 80% by 2015 as both public and private EV charging stations are constructed.  The US will have a strong demand for private charging stations while countries like China will build a lot of public charging stations. You can access the report here. On car charging in China see Electric car charging venues increase with rise in demand in China at RushLane.

Renault and Nissan are providing EV chargers in France to speed up their rollout reports Reuters. The two affiliated automakers will give away close to 1,000 fast chargers costing around 5,000 euros ($6,300) each to car parks, supermarkets and other high-visibility public spaces under private ownership. Among major auto companies, Renault-Nissan has staked the most on electric cars, investing 4 billion euros in their development and production.

MarketWatch mentions an EV charging station in Hartford, Connecticut which is the first in the world to be located in an apartment building powered and heated by a fuel cell. The station uses a Level II charger, which provides 240 volts with 32 amps of power to quickly refuel an electric vehicle’s battery in a half hour or so.

US rental car company, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, is installing EV charging stations at its Santa Monica and Torrance, California locations. Each station will be able to fast charge four cars at a time, says The Sacramento Bee.

Australia is about to welcome EVs. Nissan’s all electric Leaf is now available for about $AU 51,000 and GM subsidiary, Holden, will be soon selling the Volt. Early reports said the Volt would be priced in the $AU 60,000 range.

Australian company, Club Assist, is rolling out a mobile electric vehicle charger intended for roadside assistance. According to ZDNet Green Tech Pastures, it is a Level 2 charging device designed to provide enough charge over 10 minutes to get an EV to a place where it can be charged completely. Last Week Earth’s Energy told you about a similar mobile charger in the UK. See also just-auto Charging Solutions launches portable “EV Rescue” charging unit.







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