Four of Five Light-duty Pickups Will Now Offer Diesel Engines
Like Samuel Clemens’ famous anti-epitaph, the death of diesel engine during this past year has been greatly exaggerated, if you look at the news coming out of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Saturday, Jan. 13, Chevrolet announced that its 2019 Silverado pickup will get a healthy dose of car tech along with a stout diesel engine that will allow it to go toe-to-toe with the just-announced 2019 Ford F-150 diesel and two incumbents, the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel and Nissan Titan XD.
With the Duramax six, all three pickup leaders now will offer diesels
The Chevrolet Silverado Duramax diesel is an inline six that GM’s Global Product Development Chief Mark Reuss said would be the “best-performing” engine in the class. No specs were released, so it is unclear if Reuss was talking about horsepower, torque, fuel economy or some combination of them all. More details were promised soon.
The new Duramax and the revised carryover 5.3-liter and 6.2-liter V8 will mate up with a new Hydra-Matic 10-speed transmission to optimize fuel economy. Those engines will also get something GM is calling Dynamic Fuel Management, which has the ability to shut off cylinders not needed for acceleration. That technology, on which they didn’t elaborate, sounds like Tula Technology’s Dynamic Skip Fire that Clean Fleet Report recently test drove. The engine also will add start-stop capability.
In another swipe at its cross-town rival, Chevrolet made a major point of its up to 450-pound weight loss without simply swapping out steel for aluminum. GM took a much more complicated path of analyzing each part and component on the truck and determining the best material to use that would deliver weight reduction while maintaining durability, safety and functionality.
Chevy’s weight-loss program meant using different materials throughout the truck
That process results in the 2019 Silverado, which ends up with aluminum doors, hood and tailgate, steel body panels and bed, high strength steel chassis and advanced high strength steel for some of the key structural pieces of the cab (they ended up with seven different grades of steel in the truck in the end). The same analysis resulted in substitutions such as carbon-composite second stage-springs that saved more than 12 pounds wherever they were used compared to the previous stamped steel units.
The weight reduction program is even more remarkable when you look at the dimensions of the new truck. It has grown almost four inches in wheelbase and 1.6 inches overall compared to its predecessor. Those extra inches have been used to increase cabin and cargo space.
In addition to weight reduction, the Silverado also got some serious wind tunnel work to reduce aerodynamic drag. Engineers also added features borrowed from car models such as the air curtains in the grill first seen in the sixth generation Camaro.
And All the Car Tech
Inside, the Silverado gets even more car-like
The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado (as well as its GMC Sierra cousin, which will be introduced later this year) receives a healthy dose of previously car-based technology. Reuss promised the new Silverado would be “the most connected” truck GM has ever offered. They didn’t announce all of the features, but said the Silverado will get wireless phone charging, 4G LTE Wi-Fi connectivity, Apple Car Play, Android Auto and more features to be announced later.
Chevrolet’s adding three new trim levels to the Silverado so customers will now be able to choose from nine different models of the pickup. The packages highlight options designed for odd-roading and different tire-wheel combos. Compared to passenger cars, pickup trucks remain highly customizable vehicles, something Chevy clearly wants to tap into.
New 2019 Chevrolet Silverados are expected to go on sale this fall. Pricing will be announced closer to launch, but it’s likely there will be little change from current pricing because of the highly competitive truck market.
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Clean Fleet Report Founder Looks Back—And Forward
We have seen amazing progress in cars, electrified transportation and in the future of mobility, since I started Clean Fleet Report in 2006. Oil usage peaked in 2006 in the United States and other developed nations and I reported 10 reasons.
What once was rare (the EV) is becoming more commonplace
Clean Fleet Report was started to showcase success in clean transportation. Fleets were five years ahead of the mass market. Although I could not find hundreds of electric vehicles in my neighborhood, at US Marine Corps Camp Pendleton I witnessed hundreds of electric vehicles being charged with solar power. They also had a large fleet of advanced diesel vehicles running on biofuel and even a hydrogen fuel cell pilot. In 2006, it took fleets to put in the charging or fueling infrastructure, stock the parts, secure the advanced diagnostics and training, and keep everything running.
Now my neighborhood streets include a steady stream of electric cars from Tesla, Chevrolet, BMW, Nissan, Ford and dozens of others. Since I live near Silicon Valley, where every automaker has an R&D center, I also see a number of autonomous vehicles clocking-up their millions of miles.
I still am in awe of the innovators and the fleet managers who devote years to working through all the issues so that we can all benefit from the technology breakthroughs.
The Circle of Life
I interviewed hundreds of people for my book, Save Gas, Save the Planet. One theme that emerged is many experience a “circle of life.” Their college was in a city with excellent transit and they lived car-free. Later, a job, a relationship or a dog necessitated their buying a car. Relationships blossomed and they had a car and a truck. Many raised children and worked longer hours to support three or four vehicles. Eventually, they retire, downsizing to two, then one, and finally zero cars.
Shared electric bikes are another mobility option
With children long grown, my wife and I replaced our two cars with one Chevrolet Volt. My mom is down to zero. In my book and in Clean Fleet Report, I surveyed the progress of hybrids, electrics, advanced fuels and integrated urban transportation. When the book was released in 2009, much of the technology looked cutting edge.
Naysayers dismissed electric cars as expensive golf carts. Now we have millions of electric cars, SUVs, buses and trucks. We have 150 million electric bicycles. My wife and I only have one electric car, but two electric bikes, and frequently travel on electric buses and rail. Fleets continue to convert innovation into major success.
Another area of breakthrough success is in smart cities around the world. The future of urban mobility is ACES: Autonomous, Connected, Electric, Shared.
For decades, we have used shared mobility in cities as we ride on buses, rail and on-demand ride-sharing options, including Uber and Lyft. Most major cities have metro rail and bus systems that enable people to travel faster.
We don’t know what the transportation future will look like, but we hope it will be ACES
Of our shared choices, rail moves the most; cars the least, with buses in between. Rail is laid down into fixed routes that last 40 to 100 years, yet cities grow and reshape organically. When people deboard transit one-quarter mile from their destination, most walk. But for the last one-to-three miles, on-demand services are needed. Smart cities have integrated these services of rail, bus, on demand, bicycling and walking.
Around 20 years ago, Toyota added an electric motor and advanced battery to a conventional car and introduced the hybrid Prius. Success in hybrid cars led to hybrid heavy-duty vehicles such as buses and trucks. With the success of hybrids, plug-in vehicles were introduced, so that batteries could be charged from garage outlets or public chargers.
By 2025, Navigant expects 37 million electric vehicles (EVs) on the global roads, fueled by lithium battery costs falling from $1,000 per kWh in 2010 to $145 (GM’s price from LG Chem reports Car and Driver).
From electric cars to electric buses and electric rail, we are ending our dependence on gasoline and diesel powering 15 percent efficient drive systems and transitioning to local renewable energy powering 90 percent efficient electric drive systems. Mobility is increasingly powered by wind and solar, not from the extreme emissions from shale drilling and pipelines from tar sands. Millions of lives will be saved annually, now lost to lung damage from air pollution. Trillions will be saved in health care.
In most developed nations of the world, transit systems in major cities are connected with high-speed rail, which is pure electric. The planned 800-mile high-speed rail system for California will connect all major cities, 25 transit systems and run on 100 percent renewable energy. Those transit systems are planning on thousands of electric buses. Ridesharing providers are already adding electric cars to their fleets.
Drivers kill over a million annually, making the roads unsafe for other drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. Self-driving cars see better, using multiple cameras, lasers and 360-degree lidar. Self-driving cars are totally focused on driving; don’t text, bounce to music, drive after drinking, smoke dope or get distracted.
Sharing is becoming a real, growing option to car ownership; soon that shared car may pick you up instead of you picking it
Machine learning and big data will make full use of autonomous fleets during peak hours, routing them to the right places at the right times. In some cities, wireless charging will be used for the fleets of self-driving cars and shuttles. In others, the vehicles will drive themselves during off-peak hours to car washes and parking structures where they will be fast-charged.
The benefits of self-driving are hotly debated. A transportation authority, San Francisco CTA, states that the on-demand services have made the streets of SF more congested. Other studies conclude that on-demand leads to fewer cars and more transit use. After analyzing the data from three million taxi rides, MIT calculated that 2,000 on-demand 10-person vans in New York CIty could replace 14,000 taxis. MIT researchers also estimate that successful use of ride-share apps like Uber and Lyft could reduce the number of vehicles on the road by a whopping 75 percent without slowing down travel.
We will have autonomous cars, buses and trucks. Vancouver even has electric self-driving Skytrain monorail.
Put a price on carbon, congestion zones and vehicle miles traveled during peak hours, and most urban transportation will not be solo drivers. It will be in electric and autonomous shared rides like Lyft Lines, Waymo and Waze (Alphabet companies) shuttle vans, autonomous buses and rail. Autonomous vehicles will save lives, insurance rates will drop, hospital bills will drop, urban housing will be more affordable without requirements of one and two spaces per unit. ACES mobility improves urban density.
When I listen to debates about autonomous vehicles, I am reminded of similar debates 10 years ago about electric vehicles. EVs were predicted to add massive congestion, use nothing but coal power, eliminate jobs and cause recessions by reducing petroleum demand. None of these alarming forecasts happened.
We were making a long and painful drive back from Los Angeles to San Francisco in heavy traffic. On the freeway, in the middle an empty desert, my Android Auto navigation told me that I could save 37 minutes by taking the next exit. I almost dismissed the direction as an error, but I trusted Google Maps and took the exit. As we drove 12 miles on a windy sideroad, I looked at the I-5 freeway in complete gridlock, due to a major accident. After 12 miles, we were directed back on the freeway, indeed saving 37 minutes.
Your car is now connected to the world and can help you navigate through it
Google could see the speed of thousands of Google Map users at that GPS location. In my Google Map settings, I had given permission to reroute me based on traffic information. Google’s sophisticated algorithms saved me valuable time. Tomorrow, similar apps will guide us through our day of interconnected services making best use of rail, transit, car, and some healthy walking.
Leading cities are already using ACES – autonomous, connected, electric, and shared mobility. Look for high growth in smart cities. ACES brings us mobility that is safe, pollution-free, healthy and less expensive.
Congratulations to all who have made a difference these past 12 years. Engineers have dramatically improved drive systems. Software wizards have transformed cars into networks of supercomputers on wheels.
Congratulations to Michael Coates, who has been running Clean Fleet Report these last three years and to his team, which keeps you updated about today’s most efficient cars and tomorrow’s most intelligent transportation. Most important are all the readers from fleet managers and car owners who take the best information and ideas and put them into action.
Welcome to 2018!
We wish all of you a very Happy New Year! We hope 2017 was as good for you as it was for us here at Clean Fleet Report. We published more articles than in any previous year, covered breaking news of new models and tested cars of all shapes and sizes. The team of John Faulkner, Larry Hall, Steve Schaefer and Nick Zatopa dug deep and brought you up close to all of the important stories this year.
It’s a great time to be focused on green cars as the number of EVs, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and high-mileage gas and diesel vehicles continues to climb. And autonomous technology and connected vehicles promise to become a part of our daily lives. This has been a great year for us, but we think 2018 promises to be even more exciting. Glad to have you along for the ride.
Look for some surprises in January!
Editor & Publisher
Clean Fleet Report
The Mode 3 is just one of the stories we’ll be covering in 2018
A New Way To Get a Car for an Errand—an Hour—or a Day
It’s nice to have your own car, but what if you don’t need one most of the time? What if you could use one only when you had an errand to run, a quick trip to make, or someone to meet? You could save the purchase price, the payments, the insurance, the maintenance and other headaches.
Well, is you live in sections of Oakland and Berkeley, California, you can do it today. I did. I used Gig Car Share, a service from AAA that lets you find a car nearby, reserve it, drive it, and leave it when you’re done any place in the Oakland/Berkeley “home area.”
The first thing you see is a map of where the cars are
The first step is to download the app. For my iPhone, I grabbed it from the App Store. Then, I used the software in the app to sign up for a free account. This was interesting, because besides entering information, such as name, address, email address and credit card information in the easy-to-use forms, the app directed me to photograph my driver’s license and take a selfie to compare my face to it. I got it right the first time around, and then popped open the app.
The app opens to a map, centered on where you are. If you’re not in the car zone, just slide yourself over there. As usual, the locations are grouped, so, if you see a circled with “20” in it, as soon as you zoom in further it’ll break into more and more detail, until you are looking at single vehicles. These are available rides, which you can reserve right from your phone. Of course, it makes sense to do it when you’re close by (you can reserve up to 30 minutes in advance).
I found one just around the corner and walked there. I wanted to check it out before pushing the Reserve button.
This is the car I found
Every Gig Car Share is a black Toyota Prius C hybrid (the small Prius hatchback) with a pair of bike racks mounted on top. You can tell it by the big “G” logo on the rear pillar. Though it’s not a large car, you can squeeze three people in the back seat, making it good for taking your friends along.
I found the car in good shape, if not sparkly clean. I saw a few bird droppings and some dust, but it looked serviceable. In the photo above, it looks great.
When you first reserve the car, the app asks you to check out the body for flaws, so you can report them and not be blamed for them. I noticed several scrapes and dings that had been marked with stickers, which showed that Gig Car Share already knew about them. I saw a tiny scrape on the right side but decided to let it go.
My car had a nearly full tank of gas, which was good to know. When you reserve a car, the app shows you the amount of fuel available. If, while using the vehicle, you need more, there’s a gas card inside the glovebox. Just call Gig Car Share for a pin to operate it.
The windshield unlock tag
You use the app—or a card the company sends you—to gain access to the car. There’s a little device in the lower left corner of the windshield that you place your phone or card near to connect to the car. Then, you can touch “Unlock” on your phone and you’ll gain access. I did, and sat down in the black interior.
I had read online about customers having issues with cars that were smoky, but this one just smelled lightly of air freshener, and was fairly clean. I found a couple small pieces of plastic wrapper and the driver’s mat had some dirt, but overall it was just fine. I pressed Start, carefully backed out of the tight spot, and was off.
The floor mat–not clean, but not bad
Once you’re underway, there’s really nothing different about the driving experience. The Prius C is a competent car for errands, commuting, and general use, and this one was no different. The audio system had FM available, and I tuned to my favorite station.
After a mile or so, I decided that there was nothing to be gained from going further from my starting point, so I turned and then parked down the street.
The app allows you to park and return to your car
When you stop, you can end the service and relinquish the ride for someone else’s use by selecting “End Booking.” Or, you can keep the car, in case, for example, you want to stop and pick up something or someone. I tried this, using the “Park and Come Back” setting on the phone.
While I was parked, I was charged $0.30 a minute – different from the normal $2.50 per mile rate for driving.
While I was parked, I took time to examine the bike racks. To use them, you take the key out of the packet in the glove compartment and place your bike in per the instructions on the key chain.
Every car comes with a bike rack, giving you different options
There are short videos on the Gig Car Share website that quickly explain how to perform the bike rack process—and the other features. I took time to watch the video on my phone before I tried the service. This makes it easy to figure things out, although I did lightly pinch my finger fooling with the bike rack.
The app is easy to use, with logical selections to get information you need before and after a ride.
When I was ready to resume, I unlocked the car again—it gave me a minute to open the door—and headed back to the area where I had started my ride. Because I was testing the service from a place near my own car—not my house—I tried to make it close to the original pickup point, but if I had needed a one-way trip, my drop-off could have been miles away, as long as I stayed inside the service area.
Back to a new home
I finally found a spot in front of a house a couple of blocks from my car. I carefully checked for my personal belongings (the app warns you to), and ended the booking with one touch.
Gig Car Share uses software from Ridecell, an established San Francisco startup that bills itself as “The World’s Most Intelligent Mobility Platform.” Their platform also supplies the software for BMW’s ReachNow car sharing service, which is currently active in Portland, Oregon and other places. Ridecell also offers ridesharing software, and with the acquisition of Auro, they are moving into autonomous vehicles, as well. Their end-to-end platform is designed for companies to set up their own car, ride or autonomous fleets.
The receipt comes after you’re ended the loan; if you’d used the car for a “gig,” you could even cover the cost of the loan
Gig Car Share sent me my receipt in an email. I felt that $6.43 was a reasonable price for an experiment. I even received a 10 percent discount as a AAA member. If you used the car longer and went further, of course it would cost more.
After a refreshing walk to my own car, I headed home and realized that someday, with services like Gig Car Share, Uber, Lyft and their autonomous vehicle iterations, I may not need to own a car anymore. Gig Car Share isn’t available where I live, or in most places–yet, but something like it likely will be available before long. I’d like to see the fleets use fully electric cars, and perhaps offer more choices of vehicle. But for now, the efficient little Prius is just fine.
The easy-to-use home page for the app
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Concept Car Promises Future “Intelligent Mobility”
One of the missing pieces of the electric car portfolio is the crossover. Most current EVs are sedans with only Tesla offering its pricey—and large–Model X. Nissan, relishing its role as the worldwide leader in EV sales, took a significant step at the Tokyo Motor Show this week by showing the IMx—a concept crossover that could fill the void.
Welcome to the future!
Like most concepts, take what was shown on the stand with a dose of skepticism. In fact, with this one, you can pretty much suspend belief that it will ever be seen in production in anything close to this form. Nissan’s past concept designs have ended up being more muted when they go on sale. Fanciful features like retractable steering wheels will disappear. Over the top performance numbers tend to shrink in the real world.
Crossover with Style
With those caveats, let’s enjoy the Nissan IMx, which Nissan presents as a glimpse “just around the corner.” The IMx is a crossover in the Land Rover Evoque, BMW X4 mode—essentially a high-riding hatchback. It offers more versatility and flexibility than its staid sedan cousins.
The IMx is all new underneath
The IMx is not a Leaf SUV, but is built on Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi’s new global EV architecture. That flexible platform will underpin a whole generation of plug-in vehicles for the three companies.
This model promises to be more than just a peppy electric crossover. It features 430 horsepower and 516 pounds-feet of torque from two electric motors driving all four wheels. The battery pack size is not disclosed, but Nissan says it will have more than 300 miles of range.
More Than an EV
But there’s more! The IMx is the “future of mobility,” according to Nissan. It features a future version of ProPilot, Nissan’s autonomous car technology. When engaged, it will retract the steering wheel, recline the seats and take
Not much to see here
over control of the car. The featureless (no knobs or switches) dash is designed to respond to gestures, eye movement and spoken commands. This is “just around the corner,” according to Nissan. So get ready.
At the show Nissan also formally introduced the Nismo Leaf concept, which had been previewed. It also announced that the company would be participating in Formula E racing next year, so there may be a place for all this high-horsepower EV.
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At last week’s Frankfurt auto show, automakers vied to show that Tesla won’t overtake them by introducing a passel of battery-electric vehicles themselves. Here’s a look from Clean Fleet Report of one of those new electrified cars that you could be driving by the end of this decade.
Design Purity & Electric Power Win Our Hearts
Amidst high-performance supercars, flashy designed luxury cars and a passel of self-driving electric car concepts, the pint-size, almost plain-Jane Honda Urban EV Concept won our hearts at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show. It was brilliant in its simplicity and design purity, a styling choice rarely seen these days.
Inside the Honda Urban EV it’s clean and minimalist
A wisp shorter than the Honda Fit, the Urban EV Concept hearkens back to the original Civic with its hatchback shape, round headlights and rectangular grill, which is now a screen between the headlights that can display messages to the outside world, including greetings, advice for other drivers on the road, or charging status updates. The rear end has the same feature, and the blue backlit Honda badge is a design cue that will be used on the company’s EVs going forward.
Entry and exit from the vehicle is via rear-hinged coach doors, formerly called “suicide doors.” The electric charging cable connection is housed on the hood.
A Throw-back Machine
The four-passenger car features 1970s-style twin bench seats with fabric upholstery. Seat backs and arm rests are embellished with wood finish accents. The same wood finish wraps around a large “floating” dashboard console. This houses the steering wheel column, a set of simple control buttons and a panoramic display screen. The dashboard itself is completed by a wrap-around screen that runs behind the console and extends into the doors. The main dashboard screen presents a range of vehicle information, including remaining battery charge level.
Honda included the advanced Automated Network Assistant, which acts as a personal concierge. It is said to learn from the driver and detect emotions behind his/her judgements. It can then use this information to make new choices and recommendations to the driver.
Is that 70s Civic coming back?
No details on the range of the electric powertrain were released, but Honda says key parts of the powertrain development will include a high-density, lightweight battery pack, integrated heat management and the evolution of energy transfer functions–both to and from the vehicle.
The Urban EV Concept is no concept pipe dream. During the introduction in Frankfurt, Honda Motor Co. president and CEO, Takahiro Hachigo, said, “This is not some vision of the distant future; a production version of this car will be here in Europe in 2019.”
While Honda’s Urban EVs will be buzzing around European cities two years from now, the company made no mention of if or when it would come to the U.S. That saddens us somewhat, because we want to drive it, and hope that the production model looks as cool as the concept!
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