Volkswagon surprised the auto world with their pronouncement that hydrogen vehicles are not viable we learn from Green Car Reports. While Toyota and Hyundai are testing fuel cell cars right now with plans to bring them to market in the next few years, VW has decided not to go down that road.  VW CEO Martin Winterkorn said this week:

“I do not see the infrastructure for fuel cell vehicles, and I do not see how hydrogen can be produced on large scale at reasonable cost. I do not currently see a situation where we can offer fuel cell vehicles at a reasonable cost that consumers would also be willing to pay.”

See also Hydrogen Fuel News, Volkswagen CEO not sold on the prospects of hydrogen fuel

On the status of infrastructure, Earth Techling reminds us there are currently only 203 hydrogen fueling stations – public or private – in the entire world.

While Volkswagon may not be too enthused, Hydrogen Fuel News says hydrogen vehicles are gaining traction in Scotland. Much of that country’s progress with hydrogen fuel is coming from several projects underway in the city of Aberdeen. Recently Ballard Power Systems, a leading developer of hydrogen fuel cells, signed an agreement with Van Hool NV (one of the largest bus manufacturers in Europe) and the Transit Authority of Aberdeen to develop hydrogen fuel cells for 10 new hydrogen-powered buses. These buses are expected to begin operation later this year. Ballard hopes to add its fuel cells technology to 40 additional buses operating throughout Europe by 2014. See also Green Car Congress, Ballard fuel cell modules to power fleet of 10 buses in Aberdeen, Scotland.

From Green Car Congress we find that the US could cut gasoline use by 80% by 2050. A study from the country’s Energy Department identifies possible paths to a low-carbon, low-petroleum future in the US transportation sector, and also looks beyond technology to examine the marketplace, consumer behavior, industry capabilities, and infrastructure. The transportation sector presently accounts for 71% of total US petroleum consumption and 33% of total carbon emissions. Heavy duty vehicles (such as trucks, planes, and ships) consume almost half of the fuel used in this sector.  Achieving large reductions are dependent on three factors: lower fuel consumption; lower vehicle use; and lower fuel carbon intensity. All three of these factors must be reduced substantially in order to decrease overall petroleum use and emissions. As for fuels, the study projects that electric batteries, hydrogen and biomass can combine to replace most gasoline in the economy. See also The Christian Science Monitor, US cars in 2050 could be using 80 percent less gasoline.

CleanBiz Asia says China is introducing tough fuel standards for its vehicles. The new rules, jointly issued by five government bodies including the National Development and Reform Commission, will see a cut in passenger cars’ average fuel consumption to 6.9 liters per 100 kilometers by 2015 and down further to 5.0 liters by 2020. The new rules come at a time when environmental complaints (eg. urban smog)  have sparked unrest and even riots in some parts of the country.

Renewable Energy Magazine projects the global hybrid electric vehicle market will generate 2.07 million sales this year. A new report from ASDReports states:

“Hybrid vehicles are a growth market as they offer opportunities to satisfy consumer needs and also government emission regulations. The rising price of oil and the current economic climate have made consumers more conscious about fuel efficiency. Modern technologies enable manufacturers to obtain better fuel efficiency and lower emissions from hybrid vehicles without sacrificing engine performance.”

Plug-in EVs will reach 10% of the global new car market by 2040 according to Exxon-Mobile. A post in plugincars comments on the oil company’s predictions in its recent “The Outlook for Energy: A View to 2040,

“…the oil company’s forecast of 10 percent by 2040, while sober and relatively pessimistic, shows that ExxonMobil sees the technology as real and growing. ExxonMobil expects the global personal vehicle fleet to double from more than 800 million today, to more than 1.6 billion by 2040. The company sees conventional hybrids as the big winner, with “full hybrid vehicles” making up about 40 percent of the fleet in 2040, or more than 50 percent of new car sales in 2040.”

From The Tokyo Times we are told a third of Japanese electric car owners will never buy another. This is the conclusion of a study of Japanese consumers by the business management consultancy McKinsey and Company. “…one-third of the owners said they were very annoyed at their electricity bills–which were higher than what they had anticipated–and the fact that it was difficult to find public recharging stations.” This led the paper to comment:

“It should be a warning for the electric car makers, who should start education programs in order to prevent other negative market feedback, which might scare off new buyers, McKinsey thinks.”

See also autobloggreen, EV grin on early adopters can fade after buying electric vehicle.

If you are charging you EV at work for free or for a very low price, you better take advantage of this opportunity while you can. Green Car Reports tells us companies may soon start charging for the electricity based on a recent study of EV owners in the US state of Texas. That study found 40% of respondents are willing to pay an extra 10 cents per kW/h to recharge their batteries at work. The post concludes”

“The results suggest that people do have realistic expectations of electric car ownership, and that not everything they come across will be free. For some, the benefits of charging at work, saving money they’d be spending on gas overall, outweighs the small negatives of nominal extra charging fees.”

Indian auto maker Mahindra Reva debuted its first EV at a price around $11,000 (with all subsidies included).  As plugincars points out, this is quite cheap compared to EVs produced in Europe, Japan and the US. Mahindra Reva e2O, an electric four-seat hatchback, uses a lithium-ion battery and can go 62 miles on one charge.  It is being marketed as a second, city car in India.

DVICE notes the American Automobile Association (AAA) now has a truck ready to provide a charge for EV owners caught with a low battery. Trucks that offer roadside charging for electric vehicles with depleted batteries are now available in the US state of Washington as well as in the cities of Portland, Oregon, Los Angeles, California, and San Francisco, California. Trucks are expected in Tampa Bay, Florida and Knoxville, Tennessee in the near future.  The trucks provide a 10 to 15 minute charge which will provide up to 15 miles of battery time.







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