The Sacramento Bee asks: Whatever happened to the Hydrogen Highway? In 2004 then-California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger approved the construction of the Hydrogen Highway – an extensive network of hydrogen filling stations to serve drivers of zero-emission fuel-cell vehicles in the US state. So where is it? Today there are only 9 hydrogen fueling stations open to the public statewide, and only about 225 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in operation. Now there are hopes it will get back on track again. Auto companies such as Toyota say they will start selling hydrogen vehicles by the end of this decade and the state of California has just passed legislation to fund measures to add 100 hydrogen refueling stations across the state. The funding is in place until 2024 so presumably these stations will be constructed by then.
International Business Times has a guide to buying an electric vehicle. See also the Lowell Sun, Be sure your situation is right for an electric car.
Irish Trucker tells us how difficult it is to measure the cost of operating electric vehicles when they are part of a fleet.
Some time ago Earth’s Energy noted that some US states were looking at paying for the upkeep of roads by taxing vehicles by the mile to ensure alternative fuels are captured. (See here and here.) Now it looks like the state of Oregon is going ahead with its proposal to do just that. According to FoxNews, instead of charging motor vehicles on the basis of the amount of fossil fuels they consume (gasoline or diesel tax), they will be taxed based on the number of miles they drive. The program will start in 2015. We can be sure other states (and countries) will be watching closely to determine if they should follow. With alternative transportation fuels rising to the fore (electric, natural gas, biofuels) governments want to make sure they collect all the revenue they can to contribute to road and highway maintenance. The Oregon plan would replace the 30-cents-a-gallon state tax with one for 1.5 cents a mile. It is not clear how out-of-state traffic would be treated, including transport trucks.
Fast Company reveals the 10 cheapest states in the US to drive an EV. The best savings are in the states of Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming. In Washington it is almost 4.5 times less expensive to operate an EV compared to the equivalent gasoline powered vehicle. In Idaho, it’s 4.2 times. The lower cost is primarily dues to hydro electric power being relatively cheap in the Northwest part of the country.
A recent survey finds that in the US electric cars are most attractive to young, suburban residents.
Nearly 7 percent of U.S. consumers in a nationally representative sample said they were “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to purchase or lease a plug-in electric vehicle over the next 12 months…The age groups most likely to consider purchasing such a vehicle within the next year were 18-24 and 25-34, according to the survey. Residents in suburban areas ranked highest in geographic interest.
So far some 170,000 pure electric cars have been sold worldwide since 2011 according to International Business Times. Nissan leads the list with over 100,000 sales of its Leaf and is followed by Renault with 40,000 sales. Renault owns 43% of Nissan. Other sellers include Tesla, Ford and Volvo. To put these numbers in perspective, global passenger car sales exceeded 80 million last year. BMW is taking orders for its new plug-in EV, the i3, and currently has 8000 pre-ordered sales.
The US military intends to acquire almost 100,000 EVs this decade reports WebProNews. The EVs are expected to lower fuel costs as well as supply an extra power source back-up at US military bases.
South Africa has its first electric car. MoneyWeb notes Nissan has started selling the Leaf in this African country despite the lack of government incentives for consumers to purchase them.
Mike Whitfield, managing director of Nissan South Africa, said the Leaf’s sales price of R446 000 might seem costly. However, if one includes electricity costs of about R22 500 over a six-year period and maintenance costs of R1 500, the total cost of the car over the six-year period (R470 000) compares favourably to the total cost of ownership of equivalent petrol (R484 000) or hybrid (R505 000) models over the same period, he said. (1 rand -.099 US dollars or .073 euros)
Rental car drivers just aren’t plugging into electric vehicles, largely because of fears the batteries will die. In fact, people who drive off in electric vehicles from Enterprise Holdings Inc., the biggest U.S. auto renter, often bring them back to trade for a car that runs on gasoline.
“People are very keen to try it, but they will switch out of the contract part way through,” Lee Broughton, head of sustainability at Enterprise, said in an interview. “Range anxiety makes them think they can’t get to a charging station.”
See also The Christian Science Monitor, Why electric car rentals are usually short.
Global commercial EV sales are surpassing consumer EV sales says environmental LEADER. This includes both hybrids and plug-in electrics. A new report from IDTechEx finds that the consumer hybrid and pure electric cars market may not see a profit at all in the next 10 years, with the exception of Toyota’s hybrid models. The main reason is that consumer electric cars depend heavily on government support that could change at any time, unlike commercial and industrial vehicles, which do not rely on government subsidies. Commercial and industrial vehicles include taxis, buses, forklifts, airport ground support vehicles and on-road delivery vehicles.
The New York Times tells us 8 US states have joined together to encourage the sales of EVs. The states are California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont. To overcome “lackluster sales” of EVs, the states intend to work jointly to adopt a range of measures, including encouraging more charging stations and changing building codes, to make it easier to own an electric car. They hope to encourage the sale of 3.3 million EVs by 2025.
The states, which represent more than a quarter of the national car market, said they would seek to develop charging stations that all took the same form of payment, simplify rules for installing chargers and set building codes and other regulations to require the stations at workplaces, multifamily residences and at other places.
plugincars writes about the slow growth of the vehicle-to-grid market. One advantage of electric cars is their ability to give power back to the grid when plugged in, working just like battery backup to level out power loads. For example, one authority commented: “Cars pack a lot of power: one typical electric-drive vehicle can put out over 10 kilowatts, the average draw of 10 houses. There are 250 million registered cars in the U.S. Imagine if we could harness even two percent of that energy: 50 million homes could be powered!” However, that remains a dream. So far vehicle to grid, also known as V2G, hasn’t progressed beyond the demonstration phase with pilot projects underway in the US, Europe and Japan. Now new research from Navigant Research says it will be at least another decade before the dream becomes reality. One major barrier, at least in the US, are state monopoly electric utilities and state pricing laws for electricity which combine to limit the incentives for the creation of a market driven vehicle to grid market.