California Helps Drivers Plug-in and Replace Clunkers with Cleaner Cars

California Helps Drivers Plug-in and Replace Clunkers with Cleaner Cars

To transform the vehicle fleet, you need to work on both ends — accelerating the purchase of cleaner new vehicles and the retirement of old clunkers. The California legislature is sending a package of bills to Governor Brown’s desk that does just that. Taken as a whole, these policies will ensure Californians at all income levels enjoy the environmental, public health, and financial benefits of cleaner, more efficient vehicles.

Assembly Bill 8, authored by Henry Perea (a companion to Senate Bill 11, authored by Fran Pavley) extends funding for the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, which, amongst other things, provides rebates for new low and zero emission light, medium, and heavy duty vehicles. Senate Bill 359, authored by Ellen Corbett, provides supplementary funding needed to meet growing market demand for the same rebate programs. Together, these bills will ensure California remains the nation’s largest market for plug-in electric vehicles, with almost all of the nation’s medium and heavy duty electric trucks and about a third of the nation’s 130,000 modern plug-in cars (see green line below).

PEV Sales

Meanwhile, Senator Corbett’s “Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Open Access Act” (Senate Bill 454) will help ensure the Californian’s driving those vehicles will have a place to plug them in when they’re not enjoying the convenience of re-fueling at home at a price that’s equivalent to dollar-a-gallon gasoline. Likewise, Marc Levine’s Assembly Bill 1092 will help improve access to charging stations for drivers who live in multi-family buildings.

Transforming the state’s vehicle market isn’t just about getting more clean cars off dealers lots, but also about taking the dirtiest vehicles off the streets. Senate Bill 459, authored by Fran Pavley, aims to reform the state’s Enhanced Fleet Modernization Program, which provides drivers with cash incentives to retire older, higher polluting vehicles and replace them with cleaner cars and trucks. It’s estimated that three-quarters of vehicular pollution in the state comes from one quarter of the cars and trucks on the road.  While the state has had some success in helping people retire those older vehicles, the portion of the program which provides vouchers for consumers to replace those clunkers with cleaner vehicles has yet to be successfully implemented.

Senate Bill 459 will reform the program to help Californians, especially lower income Californians, both retire their old clunkers and replace them with more efficient cars and trucks. This will not only clean our air, but help families that spend a disproportionate share of household income on transportation expenses.  Replacing old vehicles with even moderately more efficient vehicles can provide significant savings; upgrading to a 25 mile per gallon vehicle from a 15 mile per gallon vehicle would save a California driver approximately $1,600 every year.

It’s worth noting that about 95 percent of vehicle parts are recycled, so the package of policies described above will literally be turning old clunkers into cleaner, safer new cars and trucks, accelerating the transformation of the vehicle fleet, cleaning our air, and easing pain at the pump.

Nissan LEAF Electric Car will start at $32,780 including the Lithium Battery

Nissan LEAF Electric Car will start at $32,780 including the Lithium Battery

(March 30, 2010)

Sale, Lease and Reservation Details for the Nissan EV

Nissan announced U.S. pricing for the 2011 Nissan LEAF electric car, which becomes available for purchase or lease at Nissan dealers in select markets in December and nationwide in 2011. Nissan will begin taking consumer reservations for the Nissan LEAF April 20, months ahead of other electric cars in this price range.

Including the $7,500 federal tax credit for which the Nissan LEAF  will be fully eligible, the consumer’s after-tax net value of the vehicle will be $25,280. The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2011 all-electric, zero-emission Nissan LEAF is $32,780, which includes three years of roadside assistance. Additionally, there is an array of state and local incentives that may further defray the costs and increase the benefits of owning and charging a Nissan LEAF – such as a $5,000 statewide tax rebate in California; a $5,000 tax credit in Georgia; a $1,500 tax credit in Oregon; and carpool-lane access in some states, including California.

As a result of aggressive pricing and the availability of the $7,500 federal tax credit whose benefit is immediately included, Nissan will be able to offer a monthly lease payment beginning at $349, not including state or local incentives, which could further reduce the net cost of the Nissan LEAF.

The vehicle at the standard SV trim level is well-equipped with a variety of standard features, including an advanced navigation system and Internet/smart phone connectivity to the vehicle, including pre-heat/pre-cool and charging control. Nissan LEAF is equipped with energy-efficient LED headlights and makes extensive use of recycled and recyclable materials, such as seat fabric, instrument panel materials, and front- and rear-bumper fascias. Other standard amenities include Bluetooth connectivity; Intelligent-key with push button start; Sirius/XM satellite radio capabilities and roadside assistance. Safety features include vehicle dynamic control (stability control), traction control and six airbags. The SL trim level, available for an additional $940 (MSRP), adds features including rearview monitor, solar panel spoiler, fog lights, and automatic headlights.

Reservations on April 20

In order to ensure a one-stop-shop customer experience, Nissan is carefully managing the purchase process from the first step, when consumers sign up on NissanUSA.com, until the customer takes the Nissan LEAF home and plugs it into a personal charging dock.

■Nissan begins accepting reservations on April 20 first from people who have signed up on NissanUSA.com, and, after a brief introductory period, to all interested consumers.

■Consumers will be required to pay a $99 reservation fee, which is fully refundable.

■Reserving a Nissan LEAF ensures consumers a place in line when Nissan begins taking firm orders in August, as well as access to special, upcoming Nissan LEAF events.

■Rollout to select markets begins in December, with nationwide availability in 2011.

Charging Equipment

In tandem with the purchase process, Nissan will offer personal charging docks, which operate on a 220-volt supply, as well as their installation. Nissan is providing these home-charging stations, which will be built and installed by AeroVironment, as part of a one-stop-shop process that includes a home assessment.

■The average cost for the charging dock plus installation will be $2,200.

■Charging dock and installation are eligible for a 50 percent federal tax credit up to $2,000.

■Using current national electricity averages, Nissan LEAF will cost less than $3 to “fill up.”

■Nissan LEAF also will be the sole vehicle available as part of The EV Project, which is led by EV infrastructure provider eTec, a division of ECOtality, and will provide free home-charging stations and installation for up to 4,700 Nissan LEAF owners in those markets.

This major announcement gives Nissan a lead over Toyota, General Motors, Ford and others that will also be offering electric cars. Top 10 Electric Car Makers 2011 U.S. Offerings

$2.4 Billion Accelerates 48 EV and Charging Projects

$2.4 Billion Accelerates 48 EV and Charging Projects

President Obama Signs AARA

President Obama Signs ARRA

President Obama Announces $2.4 Billion in Grants to Accelerate the Manufacturing and Deployment of the Next Generation of U.S. Batteries and Electric

(8/5/09). Further accelerating the manufacturing and deployment of electric vehicles, batteries, and components here in America, and creating tens of thousands of new jobs, President Obama announced 48 new advanced battery and electric drive projects that will receive $2.4 billion in funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. These projects, selected through a highly competitive process by the Department of Energy, will accelerate the development of U.S. manufacturing capacity for batteries and electric drive components as well as the deployment of electric drive vehicles, helping to establish American leadership in creating the next generation of advanced vehicles.

“If we want to reduce our dependence on oil, put Americans back to work and reassert our manufacturing sector as one of the greatest in the world, we must produce the advanced, efficient vehicles of the future,” said President Obama.

“For our nation and our economy to recover, we must have a vision for what can be built here in the future—and then we need to invest in that vision,” said Vice President Biden. “That’s what we’re doing today and that’s what this Recovery Act is about.”

“These are incredibly effective investments that will come back to us many times over—by creating jobs, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, cleaning up the air we breathe, and combating climate change,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “They will help achieve the president’s goal of putting one million plug-in hybrid vehicles on the road by 2015. And, most importantly, they will launch an advanced battery industry in America and make our auto industry cleaner and more competitive.”

The announcement marks the single largest investment in advanced battery technology for hybrid and electric-drive vehicles ever made. Industry officials expect that this $2.4 billion investment, coupled with another $2.4 billion in cost share from the award winners, will result directly in the creation tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. battery and auto industries.

The 48 new awards

* $1.5 billion in grants to United States-based manufacturers to produce batteries and their components and to expand battery recycling capacity
* $500 million in grants to United States-based manufacturers to produce electric drive components for vehicles, including electric motors, power electronics, and other drive train components
* $400 million in grants to purchase thousands of plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles for test demonstrations in several dozen locations; to deploy them and evaluate their performance; to install electric charging infrastructure; and to provide education and workforce training to support the transition to advanced electric transportation systems.

Today, President Obama visited Navistar International Corporation, in Elkhart, Indiana, to make the announcement. Navistar will receive a $39 million grant to manufacture electric trucks which the company reports will ultimately will create or save hundreds of jobs when full scale manufacturing at the site commences. Overall, seven projects in Indiana will receive grants totaling more than $400 million. The applications from the companies and from one university engaged in this technology research anticipate that these awards will create or save thousands of jobs.

Vice President Joe Biden and four Members of the Cabinet also fanned out across the country to discuss the historic announcement.

Vice President Biden was in Detroit to announce over $1 billion in grants to companies and universities based in Michigan. Reflecting the state’s leadership in clean energy manufacturing, Michigan companies and institutions are receiving the largest share of grant funding of any state. Two companies, A123 and Johnson Controls, will receive a total of approximately $550 million to establish a manufacturing base in the state for advanced batteries, and two others, Compact Power and Dow Kokam, will receive a total of over $300 million for manufacturing battery cells and materials. Large automakers based in Michigan, including GM, Chrysler, and Ford, will receive a total of more than $400 million to manufacture thousands of advanced hybrid and electric vehicles as well as batteries and electric drive components. And three educational institutions in Michigan—the University of Michigan, Wayne State University in Detroit, and Michigan Technological University in Houghton, in the Upper Peninsula—will receive a total of more than $10 million for education and workforce training programs to train researchers, technicians, and service providers, and to conduct consumer research to accelerate the transition towards advanced vehicles and batteries.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu, whose Department selected the 48 award winners, visited Celgard, in Charlotte, North Carolina, to announce a $49 million grant for the company to expand its separator production capacity to serve the expected increased demand for lithium-ion batteries from manufacturing facilities in the United States. Celgard will be expanding its manufacturing capacity in Charlotte, North Carolina, and nearby Aiken, South Carolina, and the company expects the new separator production to come online in 2010. Celgard expects that approximately hundreds of jobs could be created, with the first of those jobs beginning as early as fall 2009.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson was in St. Petersburg, Florida, to announce a $95.5 million grant for Saft America, Inc. to construct a new plant in Jacksonville on the site of the former Cecil Field military base, to manufacture lithium-ion cells, modules and battery packs for military, industrial, and agricultural vehicles.

Deputy Secretary of the Department of Transportation John Porcari visited East Penn Manufacturing Co., in Lyon Station, Pennsylvania, to award the company a $32.5 million grant to increase production capacity for their valve regulated lead-acid batteries and the UltraBattery, a lead-acid battery combined with a carbon supercapacitor, for micro and mild hybrid applications. East Penn Manufacturing is a third-generation family business with over 63 years in battery manufacturing.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke visited Kansas City, Missouri, to announce a $10 million grant for Smith Electric to build and deploy up to 100 electric vehicles, including vans, pickups, and their “Newton” brand medium duty trucks. In addition, Secretary Locke announced three other grants supporting manufacturing and educational programs in Missouri: a $30 million grant to Ford Motor Company supporting the manufacturing of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in Kansas City and in Michigan; and a $5 million grant to Missouri University of Science and Technology, in Rolla, Missouri, to fund educational and workforce training programs on advanced vehicles technologies.

See the full list of award winners (PDF 65 KB) and a map of their locations (PDF 371 KB).

Top 10 Electric Car Makers

High-Speed Rail Unlocks Intermodal Potential

High-Speed Rail Unlocks Intermodal Potential

Diridon Station San Jose

Diridon Station San Jose

By John Addison (4/7/09).

Intermodal solutions allow people to effectively navigate major cities such as New York, Washington D.C., Paris, Madrid, and Tokyo. Subway and light-rail are especially effective, but expensive to build. As cities grow, change, and morph, not every potential route can be served with subway and light-rail. Bus rapid transit is a cost effective way to duplicate some of the benefits of light-rail, at a fraction of the capital expenditure. Buses, taxis, car sharing, bicycling, and walking are all parts of the solution. For many, cars are their preferred way to get around, yet if all transportation were cars then cities would be frozen in gridlock.

High-speed rail integrates all these systems together and moves people from city to city at high-speed. When the distance is only a few hundred miles, high-speed rail coupled with city transit beats airplane and car every time.

Now an 800 mile high-speed rail network is being started in California. Because it depends on local and public-private partnership funding, as well as state and federal funding, it will be built in sections. First online are likely to be areas that are currently overwhelmed with passenger vehicles crawling on freeways that should be renamed “slowways.” Likely to be among the first in service are the Orange County – Los Angeles section and the San Jose – San Francisco section.

San Jose provides an example of current transportation problems as well as the future promise of high-speed rail integrated with intermodal solutions. Currently, during rush hour, cars crawl from all directions into San Jose, the self-proclaimed capital of Silicon Valley. Vehicles overload some of the nation’s busiest highways – 680, 880, 101, 280, 87, and 17.

Commuters to and from San Jose have a number of options. Many require multiple transit agencies and added time to reach their destination. Caltrain services cities from San Francisco to San Jose, at times taking only an hour, at other times being less frequent and taking much longer. Several transit agencies have special commuter shuttles including AC Transit and Santa Cruz Metro.

Major San Jose employers promote carpool and van pool commute programs. Shuttle buses run to the nearby airport. Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority’s (VTA) light-rail and buses effectively cover major parts of the city and connect to other systems. A variety of private bus, shuttle, car sharing, taxi, and other services all help. A network of bicycle trails and paths helps some enjoy their commute and stay in shape.

A central hub for VTA, Caltrain, and Amtrak is the Diridon Station in San Jose, named after Rod Diridon who provided leadership for the modern transportation system in the greater area as six-time chairperson of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and Transit Board. He has also been chair of the American Public Transit Association; he is the Executive Director of the Mineta Transportation Institute and Chair Emeritus of the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CAHSR).

When I met with Rod Diridon last month he was optimistic about CAHSR breaking ground within two years, and carrying a high volume of riders on at least one segment within ten years. The reasons for success are compelling: high-speed rail is less expensive than freeway expansion, less expensive than airport expansion, secured voter approval during a severe recession, will create up to 400,000 new jobs, integrates all of California’s major transit systems, reduces petroleum use, and helps prevent increased climate change damage. Mr. Diridon feels that support is also strong, because each year of delay could add millions to the ultimate cost of the 800 mile system.

In ten years, the Diridon Station is likely to see high volumes of travelers as high-speed rail shuttles people to and from San Francisco in 30 minutes. The CAHSR system will share the corridor currently in place for Caltrain. The station will allow passengers to board Amtrak and continue on to places like Los Angeles and Sacramento. Eventually, the high-speed rail will continue to those destinations, as all right-of-way and not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) issues are resolved.

In ten years, increased VTA light-rail traffic will flow through the system as San Jose continues to grow. VTA Transportation Planner Jason Tyree described how light-rail will be supplemented with advanced bus-rapid transit that will rapidly move people with modern features such as level boarding, automated fare handling, signal prioritization, and potentially dedicated lane sections. The 60-foot buses will be hybrid diesel.

People from the East Bay area may connect to the station via an extension to BART. Feeding off BART will be AC Transit’s ultramodern buses including its expanded fleet of hydrogen fuel cell buses.

The Diridon Station ten-years from now could well have zero-emission electric bus shuttles from the nearby airport or even a more advanced people-mover service. Preferred car parking at the station is likely to be for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. San Jose, home to advanced vehicle and technology companies like Tesla, is committed to an extensive city-wide vehicle charging infrastructure.

Although many electric vehicles are criticized for only having less than 100 mile in range per battery charge, such range is good for several days when combined with effective public transportation systems. Another way to cover the last miles to and from home and work is the good old bicycle. Bicycle boarding will be permitted on high-speed rail and the other public transportation systems.

As cities are connected with high-speed rail, similar multimodal systems will also be connected in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Sacramento, and other major cities in this state of 40 million people; soon to be 50 million people.

The new high-speed rail and the light-rail transit systems use electricity not petroleum. Electric rail is many times more efficient than diesel engine drive systems. In ten years, by law 33 percent of the electricity will be from renewable sources such as wind, solar, and geothermal. In 20 years, especially with the benefit of California’s new cap-and-trade of greenhouse gases, renewable energy is likely to be less expensive than natural gas and nuclear, with coal already being phased out in California. In other words, the high growth part of California transportation is likely to be zero-emission providing significant relief in emissions and energy security.

Combining improved multimodal transportation with high-speed rail with renewable energy is bringing climate solutions just in time. California’s busy Highway 101, which stretches over 800 miles and which carries millions daily, will find major sections under water if the sea rises only 16 inches.

As leading delegates from 175 nations now meet to discuss climate solutions  scientist agree that global warming is accelerating and the artic ice cap is disappearing.

The multimodal transportation that serves millions of Americans is experiencing record use and provides the foundation for a more promising future.

John Addison is the author of the new book – Save Gas, Save the Planet.