PECO Rewards Electric Vehicle Owners and EV Technology Investors

Wednesday June 20, 2012
Posted by Spark Energy Staff at 15:42

Philadelphia-based electricity utility PECO announced June 4 that it will be rewarding customers who buy electric vehicles (EVs) or invest in EV technologies.

As part of the PECO Smart Drive Rebates program, residential and business customers who let the utility know that they’ve purchased an EV will get $50 from the utility, per vehicle.

The reward program also encourages investment in EV technologies that can make getting around town easier for EV owners.

Government, institutional and non-profit customers who install Level 2 public EV charging stations in the utility’s area will get a $1,000 incentive per unit, up to two units, to help ease installation costs.

Counties in PECO’s area will get up to $3,000 if they install a Level 2 public charging station.

 

Sources

PECO Gets Charged Up About Electric Vehicles!” MarketWatch, June 4, 2012.

University of North Texas Adds 6 New Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

Wednesday May 9, 2012
Posted at 08:12

UNT Car Charging StationsThe Mean Green just got a bit nicer to owners of electric vehicles.

The University of North Texas campus is getting six new EV charging stations, thanks to the school’s We Mean Green Fund (WMGF), Office of Sustainability and partner ECOtality. The charging stations, each equipped with a 60-inch charger and a handicap-accessible charger, will be installed at the Radio, Television, and Film Building; the Murchison Performing Arts Center; and Wooten Hall.

UNT joins the University of Texas at Arlington; University of California, Los Angeles; University of Colorado, Boulder; and Vanderbilt University as the only colleges in the nation with EV-charging capabilities.

Helen Bailey is UNT’s director of facility management and construction, and the University’s facilities representative for the WMGF subcommittee that green-lit the project. Bailey said she hopes the charging stations will encourage more people in the Denton, Texas area to invest in more hybrid and EV automobiles.

Sources

UNT to Add Six Electrical Vehicle Charging Stations,” North Texas Daily, March 29, 2012.

DOE’s 10 Most Fuel Efficient Cars of 2012

Wednesday May 2, 2012
Posted at 08:42

If you think the all-electric Nissan Leaf is a super fuel-efficient car (on account of the fact that it doesn’t actually use any gas) you’d be right. But if you think it’s the most fuel-efficient 2012 model you can buy, you’d be wrong. That designation goes to the diminutive 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV, a mighty mouse of an all-electric car that gets the equivalent of 112 miles to the gallon.

Miles to the what? You heard right. To make sure that its list is able to evaluate gas cars, hybrid cars, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and electric vehicles (EV) equally, the Department of Energy compared fuel costs with the assumption that a gallon of gas is equivalent to 33.7 kilowatt-hours of electricity.

It’s no surprise that the top fuel-sippers of 2012 don’t actually sip any fuel at all, or that there are no gas-only cars on the list, but here’s a breakdown of the top 10 so you clearly see how the rest of the best stack up.

1. Mitsubishi i-MiEV

Engine: EV

Mileage: City 126 / Highway 99 / Combined 112

Cost to Drive 25 Miles: 90 cents

Annual Fuel Cost: $540

2. Nissan Leaf

Engine: EV

Mileage: City 106 / Highway 92 / Combined 99

Cost to Drive 25 Miles: $1.02

Annual Fuel Cost: $612

3. Ford/Azure Dynamics Transit Connect Van/Wagon

Engine: EV

Mileage: City 62 / Highway 62 / Combined 62

Cost to Drive 25 Miles: $1.62

Annual Fuel Cost: $972

4. Chevy Volt*

Engine: PHEV

Mileage: City 58 / Highway 62 / Combined 60

Cost to Drive 25 Miles: $1.08 (elec. only), $2.54 (gas only)

Annual Fuel Cost: $648 (elec. only), $1,524 (gas only)

* Individual driving habits, especially range, make it difficult to determine average fuel costs. As a result, the DOE has separated electricity and gas costs for the Volt.

5. Toyota Prius c

Engine: Hybrid

Mileage: City 53 / Highway 46 / Combined 50

Cost to Drive 25 Miles: $1.74

Annual Fuel Cost: $1,044

6. Toyota Prius

Engine: Hybrid

Mileage: City 51 / Highway 48 / Combined 50

Cost to Drive 25 Miles: $1.74

Annual Fuel Cost: $1,044

7. Honda Civic Hybrid

Engine: Hybrid

Mileage: City 44 / Highway 44 / Combined 44

Cost to Drive 25 Miles: $1.98

Annual Fuel Cost: $1,186

8. Toyota Prius V

Engine: Hybrid

Mileage: City 44 / Highway 40 / Combined 42

Cost to Drive 25 Miles: $2.07

Annual Fuel Cost: $1,243

9. Lexus CT 200h

Engine: Hybrid

Mileage: City 43 / Highway 40 / Combined 42

Cost to Drive 25 Miles: $2.07

Annual Fuel Cost: $1,243

10. Honda Insight

Engine: Hybrid

Mileage: City 41 / Highway 44 / Combined 42

Cost to Drive 25 Miles: $2.07

Annual Fuel Cost: $1,243

Do you drive one of the cars on this list? Let us know what kind of gas mileage you really get.

Sources

U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Transportation & Air Quality, “Fueleconomy.gov’s Top Ten.”

Finally, A Car That Gets More than 100 Miles Per Gallon

Friday April 27, 2012
Posted at 09:49

If you’ve been waiting for someone to make a car that breaks the lofty 100 mile-per-gallon milestone of automobile efficiency, your wait is officially over.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has just certified Ford’s new all-electric Focus compact car to offer the combined city and highway equivalent of 105 miles per gallon of gasoline.

The electric Focus, which is rated at 99 mpg-equivalent on the highway and 110 mpg-equivalent in the city, is the first gas, hybrid or electric car to top the 100 mile efficiency threshold. The all-electric Nissan Leaf comes in just under the threshold at 99 mpg-equivalent for combined city and highway driving, while the Chevy Volt, the next most efficient car, comes in at a combined 94 mpg-equivalent.

The Ford Focus electric car is expected to go on sale in the U.S. during the first half of 2012.

Sources

Ford Focus Electric Car Rated at 105 MPG Equivalent by EPA,” FuelFix, March 2, 2012.

Electric Tesla X SUV Sets the New Standard for Green Urban Warriors

Wednesday April 25, 2012
Posted at 09:30

If you’re an enviro-friendly urban warrior who has been crossing your fingers for somebody to build an all-electric, all-wheel drive SUV, your wait is officially over.

In early February, Tesla Motors announced that it was taking preorders for its brand new Model X electric SUV, which comes in rear-wheel and all-wheel drive versions, costing from $60,000 to more than $100,000. Just days later, the company had already taken orders for $40 million worth of the plug-in SUV. To get their hands on one, folks had to put down deposits of $5,000 for the base model and $40,000 for the top-of-the-line Signature model.

Speed is an important consideration for Tesla, which has built its brand on the idea that fast can also be green. Tesla claims top end versions of the Model X will go from zero to 60 in 4.4 seconds, which is the sort of acceleration you’d normally associate more with a Porsche than an SUV.

But the car’s cool factor, at least visually, may be the “falcon wing” back door design, which allows the doors to go almost straight up and channels the way-before-its-time DeLorean. With these visually striking and functional doors, passengers and cargo can easily get in and out in tight spaces, such as parking lots.

As an extra feature, Model X buyers will be able to choose from a variety of battery pack sizes to customize their driving range.

In addition to the Model X, Tesla makes the Model S, an all-electric sport sedan, and the Roadster, the all-electric sports coupe that launched the brand. Tesla is also building battery packs and motors for an electric version of the Toyota RAV4, battery packs for an electric version of Daimler’s Smart Fortwo and a full powertrain for an all-electric Mercedes-Benz.

Sources

Tesla Racks Up $40M Worth of Model X Orders,” CNN Money, Feb. 15, 2012.

New Energy Dept. Report Puts Energy Efficiency Onus on Existing Technologies

Thursday October 27, 2011
Posted at 14:08

A new report from the U.S. Department of Energy reevaluates the agency’s strategic plan for supporting clean energy technologies that can help decrease energy use and carbon emissions.

The Energy Department’s first Quadrennial Technology Review found that the agency was making too much of an effort to support and fund futuristic next-generation technologies and not enough of an effort to support and fund existing clean energy technologies that are already proven to work.

According to the report, the government needs to focus on technologies that can survive the time between a technology’s pilot status and when it becomes commercialized and available to the public. During this critical period of time, known as the “valley of death,” many projects tend to fail from a lack of funding.

The report highlighted transportation technologies, namely fuel efficiency technologies and electric vehicle technologies, as having a greater likelihood of clearing the commercialization hurdle than ambitious clean energy or building efficiency projects. Cars are a better target for change, according to the report, because cars spend an average of 15 years in active use and don’t last nearly as long as buildings.

According to the report, the government can change the way energy is used more quickly by focusing on cars because it’s the sector in which people are going to need new products more often and a sector which presents greater opportunities for more frequent adoption of new energy efficiency technologies.

Although the Energy Department proposes in the report to back off funding for clean energy technologies that “are multiple generations away from practical use,” it said that it won’t abandon groundbreaking research. 

Recently the Energy Department announced more than $250 million in funding to research and develop next-generation solar power, hydropower, offshore wind energy, geothermal power and drop-in biofuel technologies.

Sources

"For Energy Department, More Green Cars, Less Next-Next-Technology," Good, Sept. 27, 2011.

Advanced Vehicle R&D Projects Get $175 Million from Energy Department

Monday September 26, 2011
Posted at 08:00

The U.S. Department of Energy announced last month that it was providing $175 million for the research and development of advanced vehicle technologies to help ensure automakers are able to meet new and ambitious fuel efficiency standards recently announced for cars, light trucks and commercial vehicles.

The funds will support 40 fuel efficiency projects in 15 states and will target new innovations throughout the vehicle, including improved fuels and lubricants, more efficient engine technologies, longer-lasting and less expensive vehicle batteries and components, lighter weight materials and other next generation advancements, said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu in a statement.

The historic fuel efficiency standards announced in July by President Barack Obama require the fuel efficiency of cars and light trucks to reach 54.5 miles per gallon by model year 2025. According to Chu, the new standards for cars and light trucks, combined with measures previously enacted by the administration, will save U.S. families a total of $1.7 trillion in fuel costs by 2025 and result in average fuel savings of over $8,000 per vehicle over a typical vehicle’s lifetime.

Additionally, the standards are expected to cut oil consumption by 12 billion barrels between now and 2025 — while daily oil consumption is expected to decrease by 2.2 million barrels  — and prevent 6 million tons of greenhouse gases from being released into the atmosphere.

New fuel efficiency standards for work trucks, buses and other heavy duty vehicles that will be implemented from 2014–2018 will save U.S. businesses that operate commercial vehicles $50 billion during the five-year period.

The commercial vehicle standards are also expected to save more than 500 million barrels of oil between 2014 and 2018 while cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 270 million metric tons.

The companies that receive the $175 million in advanced vehicle research and development funds will add their own additional investments, bringing the total expenditure on fuel efficiency projects to more than $300 million.

The Department of Energy said that the advanced vehicle funds would be divided among 40 projects in eight categories:

  • 8 projects for advanced fuels and lubricants that will allow for the optimal performance of advanced combustion engines
  • 5 projects for lightweight materials that would make lighter weight vehicles more commercially available while maintaining the highest safety standards
  • 2 projects for lightweight multi-material vehicle prototypes that involve the design, construction and testing of a vehicle that’s 50 percent lighter than a standard light-duty vehicle
  • 12 projects for advanced cells and design technology to develop batteries for electric vehicles that significantly exceed the current state-of-the-art in terms of performance and cost
  • 4 projects for advanced power electronics to develop advanced power inverters and electric motors that meet ambitious performance targets while increasing affordability
  • 3 projects for thermoelectric and enabling engine technology that will improve the efficiency of devices that convert engine waste heat to electricity
  • 5 projects for fleet efficiency that will develop fuel-efficient tire and driver feedback technologies
  • 1 project for advanced vehicle testing and evaluation involving the laboratory and field testing of advanced technology vehicles and related infrastructures

Sources

President Obama Announces Historic 54.5 mpg Fuel Efficiency Standard,” The White House Office of the Press Secretary press release, July 29, 2011.

White House Announces First Ever Oil Savings Standards for Heavy Duty Trucks, Buses,” The White House Office of the Press Secretary press release, Aug. 9, 2011.

Department of Energy Awards More Than $175 Million for Advanced Vehicle Research and Development,” U.S. Department of Energy, Aug. 10, 2011.

White House Announces Ambitious New Fuel Efficiency Standards for Vehicles

Thursday September 15, 2011
Posted at 08:15

The Obama Administration announced rigorous new fuel efficiency standards for cars, light-duty trucks, work trucks and buses

The Obama Administration announced late in July that it had reached a historic agreement with thirteen major automakers to increase the fuel economy of cars and light trucks to 54.4 miles per gallon by 2025.

President Barack Obama’s push for the new fuel efficiency standard was joined by carmakers Ford, GM, Chrysler, BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar/Land Rover, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota and Volvo, as well as the United Auto Workers union and the state of California.

“This agreement on fuel standards represents the single most important step we’ve ever taken as a nation to reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” said President Obama. “Most of the companies here today were part of an agreement we reached two years ago to raise the fuel efficiency of their cars over the next five years. We’ve set an aggressive target and the companies are stepping up to the plate. By 2025, the average fuel economy of their vehicles will nearly double to almost 55 miles per gallon.”

The Administration had previously reached an agreement with automakers for model years 2012–2016 that will increase the fuel efficiency of cars and light trucks to 35.5 miles per gallon. The new higher standard of 54.4 miles per gallon will apply to model years 2017–2025.

According to the Administration, the new fuel efficiency standard will save U.S. families $1.7 trillion at the pump between now and 2025. By 2025 the new standard will result in average fuel savings of more than $8,000 over the life of a typical vehicle. The Administration also said that the new standard will dramatically reduce the amount of oil Americans consume, carbon dioxide emissions and the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

Between now and 2025, the standards are projected to cut total oil consumption by 12 billion barrels of oil. By 2025, the standards are projected to cut oil consumption by 2.2 million barrels of oil per day, or approximately half the amount of oil the United States currently imports from OPEC nations every day.

Carbon pollution is expected to decrease along with oil consumption. By 2025, greenhouse gasses are projected to be cut by more than 6 million metric tons, which is more than the total amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the United States all of last year.

New Fuel Efficiency Standards Also Target Commercial Vehicles

The Administration followed the announcement of new fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks with an announcement in August that it had also reached an agreement with truck and engine manufacturers, fleet owners and the state of California to increase the fuel economy of work trucks, buses and other heavy duty vehicles by 2018.

“While we were working to improve the efficiency of cars and light-duty trucks, something interesting happened,” said President Obama. “We started getting letters asking that we do the same for medium and heavy-duty trucks. They were from the people who build, buy and drive these trucks.”

Unlike the fuel economy standard for cars and light trucks, new standards for commercial vehicles for model years 2014–2018 are based on several categories depending on vehicle design and purpose:

  • Combination tractors, also known as big-rigs or semi-trucks, will be required to increase fuel efficiency and decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2018, saving up to an average of 4 gallons of gas for every 100 miles travelled.
  • Heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans will be required to increase fuel efficiency and decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent by 2018, saving up to an average of one gallon of gas for every 100 miles travelled.
  • Vocational vehicles, including delivery trucks, buses and garbage trucks, will be required to increase fuel efficiency and decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent by 2018, saving up to an average of one gallon of gas for every 100 miles travelled.

According to the Administration, the new commercial vehicle efficiency standards will save $50 billion in fuel costs and more than 500 million barrels of oil between 2014 and 2018 while cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 270 million metric tons.

Sources

President Obama Announces Historic 54.5 mpg Fuel Efficiency Standard,” The White House Office of the Press Secretary press release, July 29, 2011.

White House Announces First Ever Oil Savings Standards for Heavy Duty Trucks, Buses,” The White House Office of the Press Secretary press release, Aug. 9, 2011.

Most Fuel-Efficient Cars Available in the United States

Friday July 1, 2011
Posted at 08:33

What are the most fuel efficient cars available in the U.S.?A lot of people who started saving money on their monthly bills by switching from their electric utility to an alternative electric supplier are also probably interested in cutting other energy costs, such as gasoline. For those looking to trade in that old gas-guzzling clunker for a shiny new gas-sipper — but aren’t interested in electric drive vehicles like the Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf — here’s a list of cars available in the U.S. that, according to a range of critics, lead their segments in fuel efficiency.

Two-Seaters: Honda CR-Z (35 City / 39 Hwy / 37 Combined)

Honda’s CR-Z sport hybrid is the Mighty Mouse of fuel-efficient cars. An inline 4-cylinder gas engine produces 122 horsepower and 128 foot-pounds of torque. An electric motor adds another 13 horsepower and a not-insignificant 58 foot-pounds of torque.

Transmission: AV-S7 Automatic

Fuel to drive 25 miles: 0.68 gallons

Miles on a tank: 353

Minicompact Cars: MINI Cooper (27 City / 37 Hwy / 32 Combined)

When BMW bought the Mini brand and re-launched it in 2001, they unleashed the MINI Cooper, a car that has managed to be both a fun-to-drive racer and a fuel-efficient city commuter. The one downside to its efficiency? Premium gas.

Transmission: 6-Speed Manual

Fuel to drive 25 miles: 0.78 gallons

Miles on a tank: 380

Subcompact Cars: Ford Fiesta SFE (29 City / 40 Hwy / 33 Combined)

It's no secret that American automakers have long struggled to field a small car to compete with offerings out of Japan. However, many reviewers believe Ford may have finally succeeded in the Fiesta. As one automotive critic said, "Many months before we drove the first U.S.-spec Fiesta, Ford gave us a week behind the wheel of the European version. Some of us were impressed, others blown away, and everyone shared the same sentiment: 'I hope they don't ruin the U.S. version.' Hallelujah, they didn't."

Transmission: AM6 Automatic

Fuel to drive 25 miles: 0.76 gallons

Miles on a tank: 395

Compact Cars: Lexus CT 200h (43 City / 40 Hwy / 42 Combined)

The Lexus CT 200h gets great fuel economy because it shares its powertrain with the Prius. But this hybrid hatchback is a Lexus, through and through. Surprisingly, it’s also the most affordable vehicle Lexus makes.

Transmission: CVT Automatic

Fuel to drive 25 miles: 0.60 gallons

Miles on a tank: 374

Midsize Cars: Toyota Prius Hybrid (51 City / 48 Hwy / 50 Combined)

What can be said about the Toyota Prius that hasn’t already been said? Love it or hate it, the Prius gets a combined 50 miles to the gallon — better gas mileage than any other car on this list. With numbers like that, it’s no surprise that in April, cumulative Prius sales in the U.S. hit the two million mark.

Transmission: CVT Automatic

Fuel to drive 25 miles: 0.50 gallons

Miles on a tank: 536

Large Cars: Hyundai Sonata (24 City / 35 Hwy / 28 Combined)

Hyundai has made a family sedan that competes favorably with other sedans from Germany, Japan, and the United States.

Transmission: 6-Speed Manual

Fuel to drive 25 miles: 0.89 gallons

Miles on a tank: 466

Small Station Wagons: Audi A3 and Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen (30 City / 42 Hwy / 34 Combined)

The Audi A3 and Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen share the same numbers when it comes to fuel efficiency and emissions. There are differences, though. One’s an automatic Audi and the other’s a manual Volkswagen. The key to their economy? Diesel fuel.

Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic (Audi A3); 6-Speed Manual (Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen)

Fuel to drive 25 miles: 0.74 gallons

Miles on a tank: 444

Midsize Station Wagons: Kia Rondo (20 City / 27 Hwy / 22 Combined)

Kia stopped making the Rondo in 2009, but it’s still king of the hill when it comes to fuel-efficient midsize station wagons.

Transmission: 4-Speed Automatic

Fuel to drive 25 miles: 1.14 gallons

Miles on a tank: 313

Just for fun, would you like to know what the least fuel-efficient car in the world is? It’s the Bugatti Veyron, a 16-cylinder, 8.0-liter rocket on wheels that will go from zero to a bazillion in the blink of an eye. But then again, so will your gas bill. The Veyron gets a whopping 8 miles to the gallon in the city and a mere 15 on the open road. However, if you can afford the Veyron, which costs over a million dollars, you might be able to stomach the higher gas bill.

Sources

2011 Lexus CT 200h is a Foxy, Feisty Take on the Prius,” USA Today, May 9, 2011.

2011 Honda CR-Z EX — Road Test,” Car and Driver, September 2010.

Edmunds.com, “Audi A3 Review.”

Edmunds.com, “Hyundai Sonata Review.”

Edmunds.com, “Kia Rondo Review.”

FuelEconomy.gov, “2011Most and Least Fuel Efficient Vehicles.”

Kelley Blue Book, “2011 Ford Fiesta Review: You're Not Gonna Believe This.”

U.S. News & World Report: Best Cars & Trucks, “2011 MINI Cooper.”

U.S. News & World Report: Best Cars & Trucks, “2011 Toyota Prius.”

U.S. News & World Report: Best Cars & Trucks, “2011 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen.”