Electric Cars

The Takeaway

Supercharging Battery Technology

Thursday, March 19, 2015

With so many advancements in technology, there's still one essential component of most our gadgets that hasn't seen a significant upgrade in a surprisingly long time: The battery.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Harlem Blast; Govs for Common Core; Tesla Troubles in NJ; American Africans

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The latest on the massive gas explosions in Harlem, which leveled two buildings and killed seven (as of 8:30am Thursday). Plus: Delaware Governor Jack Markell speaks out in support of the Common Core as the national standards are questioned in New York and other states. Plus: The electric car company Tesla is contesting a new rule in New Jersey that bans car companies from selling cars directly to consumers; author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on her novel Americanah, which is a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Fiction Award; and tech investor Ben Horowitz shares lessons he learned about making tough decisions while running a new business.

Transportation Nation

Chevy Testing App to Help Volt Owners Visualize -- and Brag About -- Fuel Savings

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Chevy Volt getting juiced up. (Photo via GM)

Early adopters are a risk-friendly group of people. They put in a little extra effort to make new technology work for them, often before all the kinks are ironed out.

They also like to brag.

Chevy wants to harness all of these character traits with a new smartphone app. “Volt owners do like a lot of information,” said Paul Pebbles of GM's OnStar division. “These early adopters, they are very into the data.”

They also want to say: "I spent $1.50 to fill up my car yesterday," possibly with a smug eco-friendly smile aimed at an SUV-owning co-worker. Soon they will be able to.

GM's OnStar is testing out a new mobile app called EcoHub that lets Volt owners track exactly how much -- or how little -- it costs to recharge their cars. OnStar's built-in features already lets Volt owners track how many miles they drive using gas vs. electric power, kilowatt-hours consumed,and other stats. What Chevy wants to do is turn data into dollars. The company estimates it costs about $1.50 a day to power a Volt.

“I think people have a good sense how much a car costs to fill up a car with gas, but when it comes to electric there’s been a lot less visibility of the cost side of the vehicle,” Pebbles said.

A Volt costs about $39,000 -- more than twice the price of other cars. Chevy argues that the savings come over time.

EcoHub is being tested in a single neighborhood to start out, the Pecan Street Demonstration Project subdivision in Austin, Texas. It's a newly built community designed to test out smart energy grid capabilities, constructed with some funding from the Department of Energy.

The houses have more control -- and more data readily available -- over energy , consumptionand some of them are solar powered as well. So EcoHub can adapt to that data, changing when the Volt pulls in power to charge based on when there might be excess solar energy, or time it to when demand is lower.

It will then also be able to compare a Volt's energy use to other household use. "If you look at the energy consumption of a Volt it is a quarter of the average consumption of an average house," Pebbles said. "That’s less than an A/C."

And he wants people to start telling their neighbors that.

Watch a video of Paul Pebbles explaining how EcoHub works.

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Transportation Nation

GM Halts Production of Chevy Volt for Five Weeks Due to Poor Sales

Friday, March 02, 2012

Image: © GM Corp

Chevy Volts aren't selling well. The Detroit Free Press reports that GM is shutting down the Volt plant in Michigan for five weeks to avoid an oversupply of the electric/combustion combination car that GM has invested heavily to market.

As the automaker bounces back from bankruptcy the Volt was meant to signal a new, cleaner, innovative era for General Motors. But after initial hype and design awards, the company has only sold about 7,600 Volts, far less than the 10,000 GM projected, according to the Free Press.

GM will temporarily lay off 1,300 employees at its Detroit Hamtramck plant from March 19 to April 23.

“The fact that GM is now facing an oversupply of Volts suggests that consumer demand is just not that strong for these vehicles." Chief Economist Dr. Lacey Plache said. "The price premium on the Volt just doesn’t make economic sense for the average consumer when there are so many fuel-efficient gasoline-powered cars available, typically for thousands of dollars less.”

The Nissan Leaf, an all-electric car, has a waiting list of about 26,000 people, according to AutoBlog but has sold just 800 cars per month on average, which is more than the Chevy Volt.

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Transportation Nation

President Obama Drops By DC Auto Show, Checks Out Fuel-Efficient Cars

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

President Obama drives a Chevy Volt (2010 White House photo)

President Obama is making it clear he won't miss an opportunity to push the narrative that bailing out Detroit was the right thing to do (particularly since Romney didn't want to.)

The Preisdent walked into the showroom of the 70th annual Washington Auto Show this afternoon, where he inspected about 15 new electric and hybrid models from Ford, Dodge, and GM.

President Obama got inside man of the cars, sitting behind the wheel as he inspected the interiors.

Among the vehicles he viewed were the 2013 Ford C-Max Energi, 2013 Ford Fusion, 2013 Dodge Challenger SRT, 2013 Dodge Dart, 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco and the American Pride Camaro (colorfully decorated with illustrations showing the history of the U.S. military, starting from the Revolutionary War, plus American flags, U.S. presidents and a bald eagle).

After the tour, the President said:  “When you look at all these cars, it is a testimony to the outstanding work that’s been done by workers, American workers, American designers. The U.S. auto industry is back. The fact that GM is back to number one I think shows the kind of turnaround that’s possible when it comes to American manufacturing. It’s good to remember the fact that there were some folks who were willing to let this industry die. Because of folks coming together, we are now back in a place where we can compete with any car company in the world. And these are not only selling here in the United States; they also serve as a platform for us to sell product all around the world. I’m just very proud of what we’re seeing here. That Camaro with the American eagle and the American flag, that helps tell the story. Thank you very much. Keep up the great work.”

Vice President Biden travels to Grand Rapids, Michigan tomorrow to visit the American Seating Company, which makes seats for buses, trains, stadiums, and concert arenas.

Expect to hear a whole lot more of this, this year.

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Transportation Nation

Will Carmakers and Drivers Warm Up to Solar-Powered Vehicles?

Friday, January 20, 2012


Pickup truck powered by solar panel. Photo by Gail Delaughter/KUHF

"Bouncy and peppy" is the way Houston electric car dealer Rick Ehrlich describes the small, three-wheeled pickup that sits outside his Houston electric car business.

"It's a funny little truck," adds Ehrlich as we take it for a spin around the parking lot.

It's a no-frills Zap pickup that weighs about 1800 pounds. It's doesn't look a lot different from the other vehicles at the Houston Electric Car Corporation, but what makes this one different is that you don't have to plug it in to a charging station to power it up. It gets all its power from the sun.

That funny little truck is powered by a lightweight 180-watt solar panel mounted over the bed, which feeds a battery that powers a small, quiet electric motor.  The truck only has a top speed of around 35 MPH and you can't drive it on the freeway, but it's legal everywhere else. Ehrlich says on a clear day you can go eight to ten miles just on the power of the sun, a bit further if you use the power stored in the battery, and it's perfect for people who drive 30 miles or less in a day.

As for the cost, Ehrlich says you can get an electric vehicle for as low as $6,000.  The solar panel costs another $1,000.

"To me, it sounds like nirvana, to find a car for $10,000, that you can drive up to 30 miles a day, virtually for free. When I say virtually for free, they cost between one and two cents a mile."

Erhlich adds, "I think if you go out and buy gasoline every week for your heavy vehicle, you're crazy."

But that's what most Houston drivers are still doing, and their cars and trucks can hardly be described as bouncy and peppy.  Large SUVs and heavy-duty pickups are the predominant vehicles on Houston's freeways.

University of Houston architecture professor Patrick Peters works extensively in solar design.   Along with developing green buildings with his graduate students, Peters is involved with a start-up company that develops solar-powered charging stations for electric vehicles.

Peters says interest is being generated by international solar vehicle competitions,  such as the American Solar Challenge.  While the aerodynamic competition vehicles aren't very practical for everyday use, Peters says these events lead to new technologies that can migrate into the commercial sphere, showing up in vehicle lines that target early adopters for new technology.   Mercedes,  for instance, uses a solar-powered ventilation system to help keep a vehicle's interior cool on hot days.  The Toyota Prius also has a solar-powered sunroof.

Peters is encouraged to see a totally solar-powered vehicle enter the marketplace, but to make the vehicles popular on a large scale,  car makers will have to find ways to integrate the solar panels into the body of the vehicle.  He says the panels also need to be included in a vehicle's warranty so they're not just an add-on part.

Developing lightweight materials to build solar-powered cars is also essential.  Peters says if you can build a bigger car with lighter materials, that will give you more surface space to collect sunlight.  There's also thin solar film that's currently used in various industrial applications.

"Those thin films can take the geometry of the vehicles that's required to maximize its aerodynamic qualities."

The first customers for hybrids, says Peters, were people who wanted to show their concern for the environment through their choice of vehicle. He expects it will be the same with solar cars.   Peters thinks more people will get interested once they start seeing solar vehicles on the roads.

And Peters says if gas prices continue to rise as some analysts predict,  Houston drivers will "respond to the pressures of pragmatic constraints" and take an interest in that funny little vehicle in their neighbor's driveway.

"When fuel costs go up, people get very interested in energy-efficient vehicles of every kind."

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Senate Approves Pipeline Safety Bill, London Bus Stops All Have Real-Time Info, and Did The BlackBerry Outage Lower Traffic Crashes?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Top stories on TN:

The US DOT handed out nearly $1 billion in transit grants. (Link)

Rep. Mica on FAA shutdown: been there, done that, don't want to do it again. (Link)

Orbitz was fined for deceptive ad practices. (Link)

(photo by Graeme Lawton via Flickr)

Last week's BlackBerry outage might be linked to a drop in traffic crashes. (Streetsblog)

The Senate approved a pipeline safety bill after a hold was dropped. (Los Angeles Times)

Could the Tappan Zee Bridge be High Lined? Probably not, but fun to imagine. (NY Times)

Electric cars are so popular with business travelers that Hertz is adding more to its fleet. (Marketplace)

How will Seattle replace its aging bridges? Not through a proposed $60 hike in car fees. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Real-time info is now available for every London bus stop. (Transit Wire)

A proposal to provide free transit service for San Francisco’s youth has some serious roadblocks -- namely a $13.2 million price tag and Clipper card incompatibility. (San Francisco Examiner)

NYC tries to coordinate street construction work via website. (NY Observer)

One plug to rule them all: automakers sign on to a single charging protocol. (Autopia)

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Transportation Nation

Senator: I'll Go After All Energy Tax Breaks

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

(Todd Zwillich -- Washington, D.C) As Congress rummages for every dollar it can find to throw toward the national debt, one Republican senator says he knows where he can find billions: energy tax breaks.

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, the number-three Republican in the Senate, says he's cooking up a plan to cancel most if not all tax breaks enjoyed by the energy sector. Instead Alexander would spend the money on clean energy R+D and lowering the deficit.

This comes a day after Alexander and 33 other Republicans backed a proposal to eliminate $6 billion in taxpayer subsidies enjoyed by the ethanol industry. That vote was seen in Washington as a strong signal that Republicans are ready to put once-sacred tax breaks on the table in an effort to strike a debt deal with Democrats.

"I and my staff are looking at all energy tax breaks," Alexander told reporters on Capitol Hill Wednesday. "I expect that before long I'll have legislation that will look at all tax breaks," he said.

Such a bill would almost certainly become part of a broader debate over reducing the national debt or another fight over tax code reform expected later this year.

Either way, the success of Alexander's effort could mean a fundamental reordering--or in some cases elimination--of billions in tax breaks helping the energy sector.

Alexander said he'll try to eliminate all or most long-standing energy tax breaks and instead put some of the money toward "a Manhattan project for clean energy research." A lot of the burden would fall squarely on utilities and power generation companies. But ethanol, natural gas, and oil and gas tax credits opposed by most Democrats would also presumably be included. Democrats are already vowing to include a repeal of oil company tax credits in any deal with Republicans over the debt.

Alexander is a supporter of electric cars, however, and he said Wednesday he'd favor some "jump start" tax incentives for electric cars and the development of a 500-mile battery. The idea, he said, is to give a boost to burgeoning clean energy technology then cast it to the mercy of the free market.

"I don't think electric cars deserve any sort of government support after four, five years. If they can't survive in the marketplace then they ought to be, y'know, thrown in the junk pile," Alexander said.

Right now consumers can cash in on a $7,500 credit for buying a plug-in electric car. There's also a $1,000 federal residential charging credit for plug-in car owners.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: NY Tells Bikers "Don't Be A Jerk", and Demand for Used Cars Is Up...And So Are Prices

Monday, May 09, 2011

Demand for used cars is up -- and so are the prices. (NPR)

Transportation officials are planning a number of security upgrades along Los Angeles County's network of rail lines over the next year, including a chemical-detection system and scores of new video surveillance cameras. (Los Angeles Times)

The NYPD said two episodes of subway tunnel trespassing this weekend weren't terror-related, but they warn the city's subway system is so big it's possible for intruders to enter blocked areas. (AP)

The NTSB begins a two-day forum on truck and bus crashes today; watch the live webcast here.

A new report says Philadelphia has twice as many bike commuters as any other large city. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Nicole Gelinas op-ed in Sunday's Star-Ledger: Xanadu isn't infrastructure, unless you're a teenager.

NYC unveiled its "Don't Be a Jerk" bike safety campaign. Watch the video below to see the DOT chief experience what must be a moment of catharsis (her cameo is at :15).

Been wondering what Viennese bike rap looks like? Your wait is over.

The US Post Office issues "Go Green" stamps; out of each sheet of 16, five are transportation related: “Share rides,” “Choose to walk,” “Ride a bike,” “Use public transportation,” and “Maintain tire pressure.” (Alt Transport)

Oh, if only: imaginary instructions for an Ikea-made car. A Djiloriann, no less. Click the link for visual. (College Humor via Curbed)

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In case you missed it on Transportation Nation:

--the Northeast reaps nearly $800 million in Florida's rejected high-speed rail funds -- but will the trains really be high speed? (link)

--NY Senator Schumer: Xanadu money should have gone to ARC tunnel (link)

--consensus has been reached on NY's Central Park bike ticketing (link)

--San Francisco will charge your electric car for free through 2013 (link)

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Transportation Nation

SF Will Charge Your Electric Car, for Free Until 2013

Monday, May 09, 2011

(San Francisco–Casey Miner, KALW News) San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee announced today that the city plans to encourage electric vehicle ownership – and calm "range anxiety" – by installing free charging stations in 19 city-owned garages and several other locations around the city, ranging from SFO airport to neighborhood branch libraries. The juice will flow freely until 2013, when the city will likely begin to price it. Full press release from the Mayor's office below.

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Transportation Nation

Chevy: Early Data, Volt Drivers Go More Than 1,000 Miles Per Fill-Up

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Steve Wojtanek in the driveway next to his Chevrolet Volt in Boca Raton, Florida. Wojtanek says he averages 122 miles per gallon, and visits the gas station about once a month. (Photo: Chevrolet News)

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) Chevy announced today that the company's tracking of early Volt owners shows they consistently go more than 1,000 miles between gas fill-ups.

Chevy also released testimonials of drivers who were especially fuel efficient in their driving habits. “On April 11, I had to buy gas for the first time since filling up on Jan. 9,said Volt owner Gary Davis of Greenville, S.C. “In my Volt I’ve driven 4,600 miles on 8.4 gallons of gas. That’s an impressive 547 mpg that I am achieving with my Volt.”

With more typical driving conditions the Volt has still performed impressively on fuel and energy efficiency. Motor Trend tested the vehicle and got 127.6 miles per gallon. Those numbers don't factor in the cost of electricity for charging the battery, something the owner does have to pay for along with gas. Car and Driver computed a 74 miles per gallon equivalence when factoring in the electricity usage during its test of the Volt.

The Volt has a battery with a range of 20-50 miles, after that, a gas powered engine-generator kicks in allowing for longer trips. The typical urban car trip is less than 40 miles. Chevy tells Transportation Nation, they have sold 1,527 Volts through March 2011.

Chevy is releasing these testimonials come as fuel-efficient cars are in the spotlight at the NY Auto Show this week—where the Volt was named the World Green Car today—and following reports of a pair of electric cars catching fire while charging in Connecticut. Right now though, it appears the Volt involved was likely the victim, not the culprit of the two car blaze.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Ford Looks Electric while GM Looks to China, Suburban Rail Fail, and BP Oil Stays

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Click link below for full image.

As gas prices climb for 27th straight day, pushing it above $4 per gallon in more than six states, consider that, internationally speaking, that's not that much. (Flowing Data)

The federal government still owns a 33 percent stake in General Motors. They want to sell that off this summer or fall. (CNBC) That means the U.S. treasury wouldn't benefit from GM's five year plan to double its exports to China. (Detroit News)

Ford is expecting growth to come from the socket. It predicts electric cars will be 10-25 percent of sales by 2020 (Fox Business)

Nissan will repair more than 5,000 Leafs for an electrical problem that causes a start failure. (Reuters)

But charging technology is moving forward. BMW and Siemens are teaming up to test out wireless charging stations for electric cars ... as in, no plugging in, just park within six inches. (AutoBlogGreen)

Two wheelers want in on the game too. A new study predicts electric motorcycles will really take off, with a jump from the current 17 million on the road to 138 million by 2017. (GOOD)

WNYC's Leonard Lopate Show takes on everything airlines from sleeping controllers to why Southwest planes fell apart and how to buy cheap tickets from Europe. (WNYC)

Charleston, South Carolina rejects a plan for highway expansion in what supporters call a victory for livable streets. (Streetsblog)

Washington Nationals fans are having a tough time taking transit to the stadium. Or rather, taking it back because D.C. Metro closes too early for some longer games. (WAMU)

Transport Politic finds that suburban oriented commuter rail doesn't change transit usage all that much in most cases. (Transport Politic)

It's one year since the BP oil spill began. Seafood distributors report sales are down, and the oil is still out there. Hear it in their own words. (The Takeaway)

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In case you missed it on Transportation Nation

- Jerusalem light rail links a divided city. (Link)

- Paying for an electric car was only the beginning of the expenses for the first man in Virginia to own one (Link)

- Look how much money the NYC MTA makes on lost and unused metrocards. (Link)

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Transportation Nation

I Bought an Electric Car, Now What?

Monday, April 18, 2011

(Photo: David Schultz)

(Washington, D.C. -- David Schultz, WAMU) Ron Ball of Fairfax County was one of the first people in Virginia to buy the Chevy Volt, a new eco-friendly electric car. As an avid environmentalist, he had been dreaming of owning a Volt for years. But now that he has one, he's discovering life as a proud Volt owner is more complicated than he realized.

Make no mistake, Ron Ball loves his new ride. People at stoplights roll their windows down and tell him what a great car it is, and ask him how he likes it. He says it's even done wonders for his social life.

"I've given 15, 20, 30 people a ride in the car," says Ball. "Just strangers, people that I've picked up who expressed an interest in it."

First, a little about Ron.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Dynamic Pricing Comes To SF Parking and Amtrak Wants $ To Plan New Hudson River Tunnels

Monday, April 04, 2011

Cuts to the education budget led one Colorado school district to eliminate school buses; parents say more people are driving their kids to school -- and causing more traffic.  (NPR, Denver Post)

San Francisco is rolling out demand-based parking fees ranging from 25 cents to $6 an hour, depending on how many spaces are available. (Silicon Valley Mercury-News)

Is it time to reassess airplane maintenance? (The Takeaway)  Meanwhile, US airlines performed better last year -- but complaints were up 28%. (BusinessWeek)

A turkey visits the parking lot of Minnesota Public Radio. (Full-size picture here.)
Turkey! near the MPR building tonight in d'town St. Paul... on Twitpic

The Minnesota Senate passed a bill that reduces spending on Twin Cities bus and rail operations by $32 million over two years. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

Electric car owners in Washington (state) may soon have to pay a $100 annual fee to make up for lost gas-tax revenue. (Seattle Times)

Amtrak applied for nearly $1.3 billion to start planning two new Hudson River tunnels, as well as an expanded in- New York City station -- and Governor Christie signed off on it. (

Peer-to-peer car sharing -- or 'l'auto se partage' -- comes to France. (Sustainable Cities Collective)

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: New York has applied for more high speed rail funding. So has Amtrak. Short haul flights are on the decline. And: the Texas DOT says road projects need to be bike- and pedestrian-friendly.

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Transportation Nation

Ride Shotgun With an Electric Car Test Driver

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

What is it like to be an early adopter of electric vehicles? President Barack Obama set a goal of having 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015 in his State of the Union, but today there are only a few hundred Americans driving electrics. Last November an attorney from White Plains traded his speedy Camaro in for a chance to be a test driver for the Chevrolet Volt, an electric car that he has used to commute 14 miles from his home to West Nyack.

WNYC's Ilya Marritz caught up the test driver to find out how it went.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: LA's Westside Subway Gets Federal OK, JSK is Compared to Robin Hood, and New Version of OnStar Is Essentially Omnipotent

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

(photo by Dre Batista/Flickr)

Federal officials okay preliminary engineering on LA's Westside subway and light rail line. (Los Angeles Times)

Profiling the grid: Nashville utility planners use research and census data to try to determine who will be buying electric vehicles.  Where should they build substations? In the neighborhoods of female Democrats who live close to work.  (AP via New York Times)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 85% of U.S. adults now wear seat belts. "Only 11 percent wore them in 1982, before the first state law requiring seat belt use."  (NPR)

The Guardian calls NYC Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan "a modern day Robin Hood." And regarding congestion pricing, she says "I do think it's a matter of when, not if."

Two New York City Council members have introduced bills that shrink the no-parking zone on either side of a fire hydrant. (New York Times)

Planned construction on New York's F and G subway lines has been postponed due to the last snowfall. (WNYC)

Brooklyn bicyclists who don't obey the law: the NYPD is coming for you. (Gothamist)

The web war of American Airlines vs. travel sites continues to heat up: now, a company that provides ticket information to travel agents has ended its contract with the airline. (CNN)

A former CEO of Amtrak is the latest addition to the board of DC's Metro. (WAMU)

This could be Ray LaHood's worst nightmare: at the Consumer Electronics Show, General Motors and Verizon unveiled a new version of OnStar. Among its features: Exterior cameras that can detect and record hit-and-runs, and then send the video to the car's owner via a secure server. The ability to watch what's going on in and around the car using a smartphone or home computer. Access to social websites such as YouTube, Twitter and Wikipedia using voice commands. Video chatting via Skype through a dashboard-mounted video display. Remote-controlled home appliance and energy use using an application accessible through the car's video console. Live video images from traffic cameras, to view in real-time congestion. (Detroit News)

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Transportation Nation

Hertz Offers All-Electric Rental Cars

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Nissan Leaf

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) The fledgling electric vehicle market got a little boost yesterday, when Hertz Connect began renting all-electric cars.

The rental car giant is starting small, with just five Smart Electric Drives in New York City. "That's all we could get our hands on right now," says Rich Broome, a Hertz Senior Vice President. But he says, the company is committed to ramping up to 1,000 electric vehicles nationally—including plug-in hybrids—by the end of 2011. Other cities slated to get the rental EVs are Washington, D.C., San Fransisco and select college campuses.

The move is  good news for EVs, even if it isn't totally new. The first generation of electric cars, like the original electric Toyota Rav4, were available for rent at major rental car companies in the late 1990s before carmakers backtracked on production of the vehicles.  Zipcar currently offers plug-in Toyota Priuses as part of a pilot program in partnership with the city of San Fransisco. Zipcar tells Transportation Nation they've been renting alternative-fuel vehicles and hybrids since 2003, and they "welcome Hertz to the space." Zipcar does not offer an all-electric vehicle currently for rent to its members.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Tax Cut Bill Has Mass Transit Tax Break, and Airline Bag Fees Reap Billions

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tucked into the tax cut bill is a provision that would allow thousands of transit riders to save hundreds of dollars a year on their commuting costs.  And it could have a financial ripple effect. (Marketplace)

Airline bag fees brought in $4.3 billion this year. (USA Today)

NYC Transit considers taking entire subway lines out of service for equipment and maintenance. (New York Daily News)

Pennsylvania's Port Authority gets $45 million in emergency funding to postpone record-breaking Port Authority service cuts. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Right now if people charge their electric cars slowly, the grid can handle it. "But people will want faster charging, which will require bigger transformers and heavy-duty power outlets that deliver 240 volts. And running the grid will get more complicated." (NPR)

Snowplow drivers are working around the clock to keep roads passable in the Twin Cities. Snow day! (Minnesota Public Radio; slideshow)

Jet Blue was fined $600,000 by the US DOT for violating rules protecting disabled passengers, as well as failing to disclose code share information. (Washington Post)

The Asian Development Bank has approved a $1.1 billion finance package for two major transportation projects that will help ease traffic gridlock in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. (AP via NPR)

When is carpooling like a the end of a big group dinner? Which Bay Area commuter will reach for their wallet first when the toll booth/check comes? Video below! (Oakland North)

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Transportation Nation

First Chevy Volt Ships to Dealers

Monday, December 13, 2010

Image: © GM Corp

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) Chevrolet began shipping Volt electric vehicles to customers and dealerships Monday. The first of 160 cars expected to be shipped this week from the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant are heading to California, Texas, Washington, D.C. and New York, the initial launch markets for the Volt.

Tony DiSalle, Volt marketing director at Chevrolet called it a "historic milestone." Chevy announced plans for the Volt about four years ago, signaling a move from heavier SUVs toward more fuel efficient cars.

The Volt does have a small gas tank and gas powered engine to supplement the electric drive and allow longer trips of up to 379 miles on a single charge and fill up. That's in contrast to the Nissan Leaf, which does not have a gas engine. The first person to order a Nissan Leaf received their car in San Fransisco on Saturday.

Today's batch of Volts are not the first to ship but they are the first batch to go out to dealers for retail consumers. Earlier this year, Chevrolet shipped 15 pre-production Volts to "technology advocates" and "electric vehicle enthusiasts" for a 90-day vehicle and charging evaluation program.

Chevy has offered an incentive to spark early purchases of the car before roadside charging stations exist.  The company is providing free in-home 240 volt chargers to the first customers who pre-ordered Volts.

Recently private companies have announced plans to build charging stations in Tennessee and Texas. Still, early buyers of the Volt, or Leaf, will have to rely, at least in large part, on in-home chargers.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Christie Likes #7 Extension Idea, and London's Double Decker Bus Gets Revamped

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

NJ Governor Christie says extending the #7 subway across the Hudson is “a much better idea” than the ARC tunnel, but he hasn't yet spoken to Mayor Bloomberg about it. (AP via New York Times)

Traffic fatalities in NYC are at an all-time low, but pedestrians make up the majority of those killed. (NY1)

NYC transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan is one of Esquire Magazine's "15 Genuises Who Give Us Hope."

Talk about paving roads with good intentions: as BART extends to San Jose, "construction crews plan to use at least 250,000 old tires, ground up into 3-inch chunks and laid under large sections of the tracks, to act as shock absorbers, reducing vibration and noise along the route." (San Jose Mercury News)

London's iconic bus--the Routemaster--is getting updated. "The new bus has three doors: joining the single rear entrance are a front and a side door. There are also two staircases, solving a major congestion problem, and a source of missed stops on full buses." (Wired - Autopia)

Do electric cars spell cash or calamity for utility companies? "Plugged into a socket, the Nissan Leafs and Chevrolet Volts can draw as much energy from the grid as a small house." (The Takeaway)

NYC deputy mayor Steven Goldsmith is on today's Brian Lehrer Show.

With all the news about new TSA screening procedures, the Washington Post has assembled a good, sober guide of what to actually expect at the airport.  This Saturday Night Live video takes a more...whimsical approach:

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