Audi Is Paying Drivers to Scrap Old Diesels, Buy New Cleaner Vehicles

Seeking to rid German roads of old, polluting diesel vehicles, Audi is paying a premium for trade-ins when the customer purchases an Audi that is compliant with today’s more stringent Euro 6 emissions standard. The size of the bonus payment, which ranges from about $3,600 to $12,000 based on the vehicle the customer purchases, is highest when paired with an plug-in electric e-tron or CNG-powered g-tron. The trade-in bonus is available until March 31.

Audi’s payments are aimed at drivers of all diesel makes and models that are classified as meeting the more permissive Euro 1 through Euro 4 emissions standards. Audi is scrapping the trade-ins regardless of residual value.

Asked why Audi is offering such a generous incentive, a spokesperson for the company said:

Audi wants to make a contribution to improving air quality in our cities. As an automaker, we are living up to our promise to provide financial support for environmentally compatible mobility. We intend to offer our customers convincing incentives to choose modern, low-emission vehicles of the latest generation.

Germany is a logical market in which to run this program because diesels constitute more than half of all new cars sold in Europe in recent years. In the U.S., meanwhile, the diesel market share is less than one percent.


Euro Emissions Standards

As indicated by the numbered Euro standards, European regulation of vehicle emissions has evolved over time to reduce threats to environmental and human health. Tailpipe emissions include carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HC), nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter (PM), as well as greenhouse gases (GHG). Each emission causes different impacts – hydrocarbons and NOx, for example, contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone, CO2 contributes to climate change, and other air toxics and pollutants impose a range of harmful effects. The following table illustrates each generation of European emission standards for passenger vehicles.

Table showing EU emission standards for passenger cars (g/km).
EU emission standards for passenger vehicles (g/km)

Audi’s trade-in program specifically targets NOx, a diesel emission, as opposed to other emissions such as greenhouse gases. Technologies that enable diesel vehicles to meet the new standard include exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), the lean NOx trap (LNT), selective catalytic reduction (SCR), diesel particular filter (DPF). Despite movement in the right direction, advances remain achievable through better technical implementation as well as testing that is stricter and more consistent across each country’s regulators. Another major criticism of the European model to date has been that testing conditions are unrealistic and do not reflect real world driving conditions.

Much of the attention being paid today to diesels arises from the enforcement actions brought against Audi-parent Volkswagen for using defeat-devices to circumvent diesel emissions tests in the U.S. Whether or not there is a direct connection between that violation and Audi’s trade-in program in Germany, in the U.S. Volkswagen is committed to spending $2 billion over the next ten years on zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and awareness. Audi, for its part, has announced plans to deploy more than 20 electrified models before 2025. Production of the first two mass-produced models, the e-tron EV in 2018 (shown at top) and the e-tron Sportback in 2019 (shown below), will be in Brussels.

Photo of the Audi e-tron Sportback concept world premiere, Shanghai 2017.
Audi e-tron Sportback concept world premiere, Shanghai 2017.

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Automakers Partner With European Gas Stations On Electric Vehicle Charging; Will This Model Reach America?

Photo of Ionity electric vehicle fast charger.With the goal of making drivers comfortable purchasing fully-electric vehicles without worrying about running out of fuel, a consortium of global automakers is poised to install hundreds of high speed electric vehicle (EV) chargers across Europe by 2020. Earlier this month, BMW Group, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company, and the Volkswagen Group with Audi and Porsche announced the formation of a joint venture called Ionity that will develop a network of approximately 400 separate locations with an average of six chargers per location.

Ionity stations will serve vehicles equipped with the Combined Charging System (CCS or Combo Coupler), which support the sponsoring companies and General Motors but exclude Japanese & Korean automakers such as Nissan, Kia, and Mitsubishi (which use the CHAdeMO plug) and Tesla (which uses a proprietary plug and can use CHAdeMO chargers with an adapter). There is no adapter between high speed CCS and CHAdeMO or Tesla.

Ionity’s Strategic Partners

This week, Ionity announced partnerships with European gas station operators Shell, OMV, Tank & Rast, and Circle K, under which more than 200 locations will be constructed across eighteen countries. Ionity’s partnership is clearly mutually beneficial because automakers need to quickly deploy hundreds of fast chargers at convenient locations and gas station operators need to hedge their bets as sales of fully electric vehicles ramp up and the demand for gasoline falls. “By installing fast charging stations … we are taking the next step and gearing our service to the future needs of our customers,” says Jörg Hofmeister, Head of Electromobility at Tank & Rast.

An Evolving Business Model

The term “gas station” is increasingly becoming a misnomer as facilities shed vehicle repair services and grow to incorporate retail such as merchandise and fresh-made food along with seating and the kind of restroom that is acceptable even to discerning customers. By offering EV charging, which takes longer than filling up a gas tank, companies are positioning themselves to leverage their retail offerings, which also happen to deliver far higher gross margins than gasoline.

Certain companies in the U.S., such as Wawa and Sheetz, already include relatively extensive food and merchandise, while others are heavily investing in upgrades; Speedway, for example, is investing $380 million to build new stores and remodel/rebuild existing locations. Adding electric vehicle charging is a relatively modest expenditure, especially when the alternative is to lose customers entirely.

Infrastructure 2.0

In the U.S., the first wave of fast-charging infrastructure has been installed at retail locations such as shopping centers. With electric vehicle sales increasing, there will be a need for more chargers and more powerful chargers. Whether the next wave of chargers will be installed in similar locations, or whether the Ionity model will be expanded to the U.S., remains an open question.

Meanwhile, in addition to the inter-city use case targeted by Ionity, there are significant opportunities for charging within urban locations, at workplaces and multifamily housing, and for fleets.

Next Steps

To discuss the factors that go into the strategies discussed above, as well as the many other opportunities that exist, please contact me via my website or LinkedIn. I also invite you to subscribe to receive future posts via email, view my other posts, and follow me on Twitter.

With Dramatic Electric Concept, Mitsubishi Primed for EV Comeback

Photo of Mitsubishi e-Evolution Concept.Mitsubishi this week unveiled the e-Evolution concept all-electric high performance SUV. The e-Evolution prototype, which Mitsubishi describes as demonstrating the company’s new direction in sport utility vehicles, electric vehicles, and connected mobility, is a big step forward for an automaker that was early to the electric vehicle space but has recently fallen a step behind.

Photo of 2014 Mitsubishi i-MiEV.
Mitsubishi i-MiEV (Mitsubishi photos courtesy Mitsubishi Motors Corp.)

Mitsubishi earned plaudits for the 2009 launch of the all-electric i-MiEV, which is considered the world’s first modern-day highway-capable mass production electric vehicle. In the U.S., though, the subcompact never enjoyed significant sales or garnered much love. Burdened with a cramped interior, modest exterior, and range of only 62 miles, American sales have been downright abysmal.

With the electric vehicle market today growing by leaps and bounds, many industry-watchers have been wondering when the EV pioneer would get back in the game. Although Mitsubishi’s e-Evolution remains a concept prototype, all indications are that the company is on the right track.

Taking a page from Tesla’s playbook, Mitsubishi emphasizes styling and performance capabilities. For example, leveraging the design freedom afforded to vehicles without space-consuming internal combustion engines and the accompanying mechanical systems, the e-Evolution sports a vast digital dashboard, sharply slanted front windshield, short overhangs, and high ground clearance.

Photo of Mitsubishi e-Evolution Concept.With regard to handling and performance, Mitsubishi’s concept vehicle provides 4-wheel drive via three electric motors, one for each rear wheel and a shared motor for the front wheels. The triple-motor system uses advanced sensors and other technology to provide superior cornering and traction performance in a system called Super All-Wheel Control.

As reported in Automotive News, Mitsubishi’s general manager for product strategy Vincent Cobee said:

[The e-Volution] is just trying to tickle your intellect and say “an EV is not an apology car, it’s the future of transportation.” This is one example to provoke folks but it is also clearly a symbol of where we want to go from a product development point of view.

Specifications such as range and battery size are not yet available, but based on the competition Mitsubishi will likely target at least 300 miles of range with a battery no smaller than 85 kWh. As for the type of plug Mitsubishi will use for fast charging, based on the company’s experience with the CHAdeMO direct current technology in the i-MiEV it’s a safe bet that plug will appear on the production vehicle along with the industry-standard J1772 Level 2 plug.

Photo of Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MiEV at an EVgo Freedom Station.
Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MiEV at an EVgo Freedom Station. © 2017 Michael Krauthamer

Further enhancing CHAdeMO’s chances is the fact that Mitsubishi is in the same corporate family as Nissan, whose 250,000+ Leafs use CHAdeMO. Finally, using CHAdeMO will enable Mitsubishi to leverage the nationwide network of DC fast chargers that Nissan has deployed at its dealerships and retail locations with EVgo to support Nissan’s No Charge To Charge program, under which Nissan customers get up to two years of free charging.

While the CHAdeMO chargers currently deployed in the U.S. supply up to 50 kW of power, the next generation of chargers is expected to deliver 150 kW, with the following generation after that expected to supply 350 kW. This is important because the coming wave of EVs will have large batteries, necessitating faster fast charging than is generally available today. At 150 kW, a 300-mile range EV would be expected to charge from empty to 80 percent in about a half hour, though with such a long range the vast majority of charging for nearly all drivers will be Level 2 charging overnight or while at work.

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With Holistic Approach, Mazda To Introduce Electric Vehicles

Photo of Mazda Concept RX-Vision.Every automaker takes pride in their engines, but few match the passion and conviction shown by Mazda. Mazda has reason to believe it’s on the right track; in 2016, for the fourth year in a row, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency named the company, whose fleet-wide adjusted fuel economy performance is 29.6 miles per gallon, the most fuel-efficient auto manufacturer in America. Mazda achieved this distinction despite offering not a single all-electric or plug-in, and only one hybrid electric model. No surprise, then, that Mazda’s approach to electric vehicles has been relatively tepid.

Nonetheless, Mazda has announced that, starting in 2019, it will introduce electric vehicles and other electric drive technologies. And, by 2030, according to a recent report in the Japanese outlet Kyodo News, Mazda anticipates that all of its models will use electric motors; this does not mean that every vehicle will be fully electric, but each will have an element of electrification. This follows on the heels of similar news from other major automakers, most notably Volvo and Jaguar Land Rover, who are also transitioning to electrified powertrains.

What’s particularly interesting about Mazda’s news is that the company says it will be releasing electric powertrains “in regions that use a high ratio of clean energy for power generation or restrict certain vehicles to reduce air pollution.” This principle is set forth in Mazda’s recently updated long-term vision dubbed “Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030.”

Mazda's Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030 graphicBy limiting deployment of electrified vehicles to regions meeting these specific characteristics, is Mazda adopting the “compliance car” mentality under which EVs are sold only to avoid penalties, or is Mazda looking to examine various regulatory and environmental market attributes and determine which of its vehicles will create the smallest environmental footprint by balancing tailpipe emissions against power plant emissions?

Mazda’s strategy includes:

  • “continu[ing] efforts to perfect the internal combustion engine” with innovations such as SKYACTIV-X, the company’s new engine technology that combines compression ignition and a supercharger to improve fuel economy; and
  • introducing electric vehicles and other electric drive technologies starting in 2019.

The goal appears to be to deploy gasoline and diesel vehicles where emissions from tailpipes are lower than from power plants, and electrified vehicles where electricity generation is cleaner than tailpipe emissions.

Electricity Production

It is well known that the fuel used to generate electricity makes a big difference in the type and quantity of greenhouse gases produced per mile driven by an electric vehicle. According to a study by the Union of Concerned Scientists, electricity from American power plants fueled by natural gas instead of coal results in a 51% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The following table (reproduced from the UCS’s 2015 study titled “Cleaner Cars from Cradle to Grave; How Electric Cars Beat Gasoline Cars on Lifetime Global Warming Emissions) shows the benefits of each fuel type:

Table showing GHG reduction by electricity fuel type.Fuel mixes vary regionally, within regions, by time of day, and based on prevailing market conditions. In general, though, the overall fuel mix by region in the U.S. is as follows:

Map showing generating capacity by fuel type (2017).The good news is that, overall, electricity generation in the U.S. is increasingly powered by natural gas and other technologies that are cleaner than coal, with the trend toward clean energy clearly continuing. Because natural gas is largely displacing coal, the result will be reduced air emissions.

Graph showing U.S. electricity production by fuel type, 2011-2016.Regardless of the overall fuel mix, individual customers’ electricity is generally derived from a variety of fuel sources at any given time based on economic dispatch directed by regional grid operators.


Drivers can ensure, in a sense, that their vehicle is charged with renewable energy by purchasing renewable energy credits, but this is a financial and not physical transaction.

Even without renewable energy credits, though, drivers who plug into the grid at night are likely to be fueling their vehicles with at least some wind power. This is because onshore wind is typically strongest at night. The following chart illustrates wind generation in PJM over three days earlier this month, with each of the peaks occurring during overnight hours:

Graph showing hourly wind generation in PJM.
Hourly Wind Generation in PJM (Sept. 15-17, 2017).

Solar power is having a comparable (though inverse) effect during daylight hours, as shown in the following “Duck Curve” graph from the California ISO (the state’s electrical grid operator), which illustrates demand for traditional electricity falling during the day and then quickly increasing at dusk; this energy supply coincides with EV drivers charging while at work:

Graph showing California ISO Duck Curve.

The amount of energy produced from wind and solar is growing as the price of installing these technologies continues to fall due to reduced costs and increased productivity.

Global Market

Compared to countries with less-stringent air quality regulations, both power plant and tailpipe emissions in the U.S. are relatively clean. For this reason, the Union of Concerned Scientists has concluded:

On average, [battery electric vehicles] representative of those sold today produce less than half the global warming emissions of comparable gasoline-powered vehicles, even when the higher emissions associated with [battery electric vehicle] manufacturing are taken into consideration.

Globally, as the cost of batteries falls and vehicles’ electric ranges increase, driving electric will become more and more feasible. In countries with weak electrical grids, proliferating distributed energy resources such as solar, wind, and battery storage can serve to strengthen the grid, improve reliability, and bring cleaner air.


Whether fueled by electricity or gasoline/diesel, the transportation sector is a key factor in reducing greenhouse gasses. Because electric vehicles, when paired with the decarbonizing electricity sector, will bring so many benefits, every auto manufacturer offering EVs is to be applauded. Mazda’s plan is not only commendable, it is also highly thought-provoking because the company is taking a rational approach to its sales strategy with the purpose of not only doing well financially by responding to the clear market demand for electrified vehicles, but also doing good by strategically deploying vehicles where they will be most effective in helping the planet.

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Are Smart Dealers Making a Wise Decision? Dealers Drop Out As Ohio Proves EVs Sell and Daimler Launches Radical Concept

Photo of Autonomous concept car smart vision EQ fortwoJust weeks after more than two-thirds of Smart’s U.S. dealerships elected to stop selling the small vehicle following news that the brand would be shifting to all-electric, the next-generation “Smart vision EQ fortwo” concept vehicle has been introduced. The most prominent feature of the Smart concept is what isn’t there: no steering wheel or pedals.

Photo of interior of Smart concept vision EQ fortwo.Smart Vision

Designed to showcase a new vision of urban mobility, the concept vehicle expands on parent company Daimler’s long range “EQ” plan and offers a glimpse into what Daimler has in mind for the future, which includes ten electric vehicles scheduled to launch by 2022. (Smart is a division of Daimler AG and is distributed in the U.S. by Mercedes-Benz USA.)

Smart’s concept is a shared autonomous electric vehicle that will pick up passengers directly from their designated location. And don’t worry about getting into the wrong car, as so many of us have with Uber and Lyft (even with real drivers at the wheel!). Daimler’s future autonomous vehicles will solve that problem with a message board displaying the name and photo of the next passenger on the front of the vehicle:

Photo of message board on front of Smart concept vision EQ fortwo.“The Smart vision EQ fortwo is our vision of future urban mobility; it is the most radical car sharing concept car of all: fully autonomous, with maximum communication capabilities, friendly, comprehensively personalizable and, of course, electric,” says Smart CEO Annette Winkler. “With the Smart vision EQ fortwo, we are giving a face to the themes with which Mercedes-Benz Cars describes the vision of future mobility within the CASE strategy.”

CASE stands for Connected, Autonomous, Shared, and Electric, and this strategy is a significant undertaking at Daimler. As described by Chairman of the Board Dieter Zetsche, “each of [the CASE features] has the power to turn our entire industry upside down. But the true revolution is in combining them in a comprehensive, seamless package.”

Smart Strategy

Most of the 27 remaining Smart dealerships are in states with zero-emission vehicle requirements, and a cynic would conclude that EVs can’t make it without a regulatory requirement or heavy subsidies. But that’s not true, as evidenced by Germain Motor Group’s decision to continue selling electric Smarts in Columbus, Ohio, a state with no zero emission vehicle (ZEV) requirement. Unusually high demand for electric vehicles in Columbus appears to be driven by a coordinated emphasis of the benefits of decarbonizing transportation and an effort to mitigate obstacles to charging and driving electric vehicles.

This is all happening because Columbus, the winner of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge, is launching the Smart Columbus Electrification Plan. “Columbus has established itself as a leader in electrification with its ‘Smart Columbus’ initiative,” Germain COO John Malishenko wrote in an email reported by Automotive News. “It’s well funded and focused on making Columbus a leader in alternative transportation solutions, so for that reason, we’ve decided to stay put.”

The fact that sales in Columbus remain at a level high enough to warrant keeping the dealership open in the absence of a regulatory mandate demonstrates that a concerted effort to shift behavior can cause meaningful change for the better. Only time will tell whether the 58 departing dealers should have stayed Smart.

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U.K.’s Royal Mail Goes Electric, Reducing Tailpipe Emissions and Lowering Operating Costs

Photo of Arrival's Royal Mail electric delivery vehicle.Growing up, I remember finding out the mail was delivered because my dog barked on hearing the mail truck. Starting later this year, lucky customers on certain routes in the United Kingdom will no longer have that convenience because the U.K.’s Royal Mail Fleet has begun deploying more than 100 electric delivery vehicles. Not only will neighborhood and city streets be quieter, electric vehicles will also put an end to belching tailpipe emissions exacerbated by frequent starts and stops. (The vehicle pictured above, manufactured by U.K.-based Arrival, offer an additional innovation, namely compliance with London’s vehicle design standards intended to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety by greatly improving visibility from behind the steering wheel.)

Last-mile services and urban or stop-and-go driving such as mail delivery are perfect applications for electric vehicles because these conditions provide the optimal mileage per kilowatt-hour. With today’s falling battery prices, along with unpredictable oil prices and the health hazards presented by tailpipe emissions, there is little excuse for light-duty vehicles such as mail trucks not to convert to electricity.Photo of Royal Mail's electric delivery vehicle manufactured by Arrival.By traveling on fixed routes with highly predictable conditions and returning to the same facility each night for charging, little is left to chance. Unlike high speed driving or conditions requiring rapid acceleration, demands which require a lot of energy, gradual acceleration and slow speeds such as on mail routes draw paltry amounts of stored electric energy while regenerative braking constantly charges the battery.

In addition, lacking most of the complex systems and parts found in vehicles powered by an internal combustion engine (e.g., engine, transmission, fuel pump, catalytic converter), the Royal Mail’s electric vehicles will enjoy sharply-reduced operating expenses even before fuel is taken into consideration.

Silent, clean, and inexpensive to operate, the Royal Mail’s zero-tailpipe-emission vehicles will be supplied by Arrival (nine vehicles now beginning a one-year trial period, pictured above) and Peugeot (100 Partner L2 Electric vans, expected by year-end, pictured below).

Photo of Peugeot Partner Electric.Each electric Peugeot Partner will carry a 22.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack and offer a payload capacity of more than 1,000 pounds with a range of up to 106 miles. The Arrival vehicle’s specifications reportedly are similar, with the possible addition of a range extender.

The ~100 mile all-electric range being tested will be sufficient for a typical mail route, especially because regenerative braking recharges the battery throughout a day’s journey. When driven at slow speeds or with frequent stops, such as in urban environments or on mail delivery routes, electric vehicles are exceptionally efficient. And when the vehicles return to the depot, they can be easily charged using electricity priced at a less-expensive off-peak rate.

The Peugeot is charged with a Level 2 charger (for overnight) or a CHAdeMO direct current fast charger (providing an 80 percent fill-up in 30 minutes if starting from empty). As an alternative to grid power, the large roofs at mail facilities may offer the prospect of these vehicles being truly 100% emission free by utilizing rooftop solar panels, storing the energy in batteries during the day, and then using that energy to charge the delivery vehicles overnight.

Paul Gatti, Royal Mail Fleet Director, said: “Our research has shown that electric vans are a good operational fit with our business and we are delighted to be ordering such a large volume to use in our daily operations. This is good news for our customers and the towns and cities which we serve. It also means we are on the front foot for future changes in emissions legislation. Emissions are an important issue for us at Royal Mail and we are continuously looking at new and innovative ways to reduce our carbon footprint and our impact on air quality. Improving the efficiency of our fleet by introducing electric vans is just one example of this.”

The delivery vehicle specs are modest compared to a passenger vehicle such as the BMW i3, which generates 170 horsepower from a 125 kW motor producing 184 pound-feet of torque. The electric Partner, by comparison, produces 67 horsepower from a 49 kW motor with maximum torque of 148 pound-feet. But the Royal Mail’s vehicles’ moderated performance will provide reliable operation that is environmentally friendly, safe, and highly energy-efficient.

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Audi to Introduce Solar Roofs, Improve Fuel Efficiency and EV Range

Thin-film solar cells in panoramic glass roofs of Audi models: Audi and Alta Devices, a subsidiary of the Chinese solar-cell specialist, Hanergy, are working together on this development project. With this cooperation, the partners aim to generate solar energy to increase the range of electric vehicles.
Photo courtesy Audi AG.

Audi today announced a plan to increase the range of the company’s electric vehicles by generating onboard solar energy using thin-film solar cells. Audi and its partner, California-based Alta Devices, a subsidiary of the Chinese solar-cell specialist Hanergy, are taking an incremental approach and will first integrate Alta’s efficient, thin, and flexible mobile power technology into panoramic glass roofs. A prototype is expected by the end of this year.

Recognizing that drivers demand maximum range from their electric vehicles, and also responding to ever more stringent fuel economy requirements around the globe, Audi and other vehicle manufacturers are going to great lengths to maximize every opportunity to increase overall efficiency as well as replace liquid fuels with electricity. Consistent with this effort, Audi’s next step after integrating solar into glass panels will be to cover almost the entire roof with solar cells.

By generating onboard and clean renewable power for systems such as air-conditioning and seat heaters, the solar cells will reduce the demand on an all-electric vehicle’s main battery, thereby providing a longer range for driving. But solar cells also can improve fuel efficiency in mild-hybrid vehicles by making the gasoline or diesel engine’s output more fully available for moving the vehicle instead of producing electricity for in-cabin use. Eventually, Audi and Alta envision solar energy directly charging a fully-electric vehicle’s main battery. “That would be a milestone along the way to achieving sustainable, emission-free mobility,” said Bernd Martens, Audi’s Board of Management Member for Procurement.

The partnership with premier automaker Audi is a high-profile opportunity for Alta, holder of multiple world records for energy conversion efficiency. “This partnership with Audi is Alta Devices’ first cooperation with a high-end auto brand. By combining Alta’s continuing breakthroughs in solar technology and Audi’s drive toward a sustainable mobility of the future, we will shape the solar car of the future,” said Alta CEO Ding Jian.

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Advanced Transportation Projects Receive Federal Investment

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office this week announced $13.4 million in investments to support five new cost-shared, community-based projects focused on energy efficient mobility systems. Funding will go to support research and development related to connected and autonomous vehicles, alternative fuel vehicles, and infrastructure including natural gas, propane, biofuels, hydrogen, and electricity.

The specific winners are:

  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, New York), which will receive $2 million to evaluate changes in freight demand patterns that reduce energy use, incorporate energy efficient technologies and practices into freight logistics, and publish lessons learned.
  • Pecan Street Inc. (Austin, Texas), which will receive $1 million to pilot “last mile” electric bus services. The project includes a feasibility assessment of new technologies such as autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles and dynamic app-driven re-routing.
  • City of Seattle Department of Transportation (Seattle, Washington), which will receive $1.9 million to accelerate the use of EVs in shared mobility applications in four major U.S. markets and establish best practices for all U.S. metro regions.

In addition, two community partner projects focusing on alternative fuels will also receive funding:

  • Center for Transportation and the Environment (Atlanta, Georgia) and its partners will receive $4.6 million to accelerate the deployment of alternative fuel vehicles and infrastructure throughout the southeastern United States.
  • Metropolitan Energy Center, Inc. (Kansas City, Missouri) and its partners will receive $3.8 million to accelerate the deployment of alternative fuel vehicles, as well as supporting infrastructure, through community-based partnerships throughout Missouri, Kansas, and Colorado.

One of the Vehicle Technologies Office’s areas of focus is energy efficient mobility systems. Energy efficient mobility systems includes efforts to identify and support technologies and innovations that “encourage a maximum-mobility, minimum-energy future in which transportation systems may be automated, connected, electric, and/or shared (ACES).”

According to independent third-party evaluations of the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy’s R&D portfolio that has been evaluated to date, taxpayer investment of $12 billion has yielded an estimated net economic benefit of more than $230 billion, with an overall annual return on investment of more than 20 percent.

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Will Mahindra, Owner of Legendary Pininfarina, Take On Tesla?

Photo of Mahindra Electric VehicleWith India’s power minister having recently announced that by 2030 “not a single petrol or diesel car should be sold in the country,” Anand Mahindra, Chairman of industrial giant Mahindra Group, discussed on CNBC this week his company’s commitment to electric vehicles. Given the huge market opportunity even if the minister’s extraordinarily aggressive goal is not fully achieved, Mahindra and Tesla’s Elon Musk exchanged tweets on prospects for electric vehicles in the potentially huge market:

Mahindra says he is not worried about Tesla, and that “[Tesla] coming into India would actually increase the awareness of electric vehicles [and] increase the size of the pie.” On the question of whether the company will expand its fully-electric portfolio beyond the e2oPlus subcompact, eVerito compact, and eSupro van, Mahindra said that he plans to build fully-electric vehicles and is “not going to take the halfway measure” with hybrids.

Mahindra is already producing vehicles at the entry-level of the market, and it has the resources to cover all segments, but whether it will go head-to-head with Tesla remains undecided for now. If Mahindra does take on the luxury EV market, the company is expected to turn to Pininfarina, the legendary Italian designer of iconic vehicles such as Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, and Maserati, which Mahindra acquired in late 2015.

Photo of Pininfarina FerrariTransitioning to clean transportation is a high priority for India. According to a report by NITI Aayog, India’s most influential government think tank, switching from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles would save the country $60 billion in energy and decrease carbon emissions by 37%. Reducing emissions is a particularly important issue because, according to a 2014 World Health Organization study, 13 out of 20 of the world’s most polluted cities are in India, and tailpipe emissions are dirtier per unit of energy produced than power plant emissions. That said, there is an emphasis in India to avoid the already-strained electrical grid altogether and charge EVs with solar panels. Each EV produced by Mahindra gets its first charge at the factory from solar panels, and customers can purchase their own solar panels for off-grid charging at home.

Photo of Mahindra EV Solar ChargerIn light of the country’s efforts to move away from traditional vehicles, Mahindra Electric recently announced its roadmap for the next generation of electric vehicles, an initiative dubbed “EV 2.0.” Speaking on the subject of the roadmap, Dr. Pawan Goenka, Chairman of Mahindra Electric, said, “The time has now arrived for EVs to become mainstream and Mahindra has the right technology and products for India. We will actively engage with the government . . . and other private players for setting up a robust EV ecosystem. We are also ramping up our investments towards developing the next generation of EV technologies and products that will cater to the smart cities of tomorrow.”

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Volvo Goes All-In With Electric Drivetrains

Buying an electric Volvo will soon become a lot easier. Volvo Cars announced today that, starting in 2019, every model the company launches will have an electric motor. This is, without a doubt, a big step for a large and influential automaker with a global footprint, though today’s announcement does not mean that every vehicle in the lineup will be fully electric, or that internal combustion engines are going away immediately. Rather, all new models will be equipped with some form of electrified drivetrain, whether it be 48-volt mild hybrid, plug-in, or fully-electric. Then, as the company’s gasoline-only portion of the lineup is redesigned or retired, there will be no more purely gasoline-powered vehicles.

“This is about the customer,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive. “People increasingly demand electrified cars and we want to respond to our customers’ current and future needs. You can now pick and choose whichever electrified Volvo you wish.”

While many customers do, indeed, seek out various types of electric drivetrains, Volvo’s decision to include electric technology as a default recognizes that selling electric as an option is challenging because most customers will not step out of their comfort zone or pay extra for the new technology. Taking away the option eliminates the need for customers to make a proactive decision and simplifies sales staff training while improving fuel economy and reducing carbon emissions.

Volvo’s portfolio will include a variety of electric technologies, each of which will improve fuel economy and reduce carbon emissions while at the same time supporting the power-hungry infotainment systems customers crave. Some models will be equipped with 48-volt mild hybrid systems, while others will be plug-in hybrids. Five vehicles, to be launched between 2019 and 2021, will be fully electric with no gasoline engine at all. Of these five, two will be high performance vehicles from Polestar, Volvo Cars’ performance car arm.

The announcement by Volvo represents one of the most significant moves by any car maker to embrace electrification and highlights how, more than a century after the invention of the internal combustion engine, electrification is paving the way for a new chapter in automotive history. That this momentous announcement comes from Volvo is not entirely surprising considering (1) Volvo’s strength in Europe, where emissions standards are becoming increasingly stringent, and (2) that Volvo is owned by Geely, the Chinese automotive giant which needs to keep up with rapidly increasing demand for electric drivetrains in China as shown in the following graph:

Mariordo (Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz) • CC BY-SA 4.0

“This announcement marks the end of the solely combustion engine-powered car,” said Mr. Samuelsson. “Volvo Cars has stated that it plans to have sold a total of one million electrified cars by 2025. When we said it we meant it. This is how we are going to do it.”

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