(March 2004) SunLine Transit in Cochella Valley, California shifts gears from striving to become a world leader in alternative-fuel research to improving bus service.
For the past several years, SunLine Transit has received various grants to offer alternative transportation to the Valley residents. It was one of the first transit agencies to receive a Ballard-powered fuel cell bus and had a number of transport vehicles powered by hydrogen as well as natural gas.
But, changes are taking place because for the past several months, “auditors have been poring over management and financial practices at the agency and making recommendations for improvement.” (Quote from “SunLine reshuffles priorities,” by Kimberly Trone, The Desert Sun, 01/29.04, p.1 Section B). Both SunLine’s General Manger, Richard Cromwell III, and chief financial officer, William Mair, resigned in August “amid disclosures of conflict of interest and financial management.” According to the article in The Desert Sun there is evidence transit funding had been shifted to non-transit expenses and that contracts had been made without board approval.
(December 2003) DIESEL FUTURES
In a study conducted by General Motors, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Alberta in Canada found that the well-to-wheels efficiency of diesels was better than that of fuel cells and gas/electric hybrids. Details of the study were not made available. Mercedes–Benz will join Volkswagen in with new diesel passenger cars most likely in Europe only, since European cetane levels are close to 3 percent that are then the U.S. diesel, facilitating quick starts and continuing combustion.
Using highly controllable injection systems, reduced sulfur diesel fuel, high cetane rating, and high technology exhaust after treatment systems, the possibility for high mileage, low pollution engines may lie with the diesels.
The reader is impressed with the diesel possibilities which are within reach today, using present fossil fuels.
Ref: Popular Mechanics, Nov., 2003, pp. 94 – 98
(Oct. 2003) Gas guzzlers win in new tax law. This fall, the U.S. Congress passed a tax bill that offers a $100,000 tax credit to any business owner who wishes to purchase any vehicle weighing 6,000 pounds or more when fully loaded. Already, sales personnel in the retail auto market are touting the benefits. In the Anchorage Daily News on September 28th, Chris Thrope at the Anchorage dealership reported that he had already sold ten Hummer H2s in the past month.
This October, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee voted to cut the amount small business could deduct for purchasing an SUV from $100,000 to $25,000. The bill will now be presented to the full Senate. However, the law remains as it is until further action is taken.
On the other hand, hybrids which can average 50 to 60 miles per gallon, are in the process of having the $2,000 tax deduction phased out. Congress is considering legislation that would extend the tax deduction; however, status of the bill remains uncertain.
The U.S. government states that American drivers burn nine million barrels of oil a day in their cars and trucks. By 2010 if the average m.p.g. does not improve, the number will escape to 12 million barrels a day.
According to Tom Gross, a board member of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and a guest speaker at Michelin’s Challenge Bibendum in San Francisco in October, the United States accounts for 25 percent of oil use in the world, but has only has 2.2 percent of the reserves. Transportation accounts for two thirds of all U.S. oil usageand is 95 percent dependent on oil. The DOE does not see sales of SUVs being stagnant or declining, but rather escalating sharply over the next two years.
( )Toby's Comments...Hello Subscribers,
I suppose none of us succeeds all the time. I don’t want to bother you with my problem which currently relates to passing the lab part of my class in refrigerator door opening. It’s not going as hoped.
Fortunately for my ego, others are having problems, too, and their solutions are more interesting. Take for instance the ZEV mandate in California. Automakers must sell 2 per cent of all offerings in California as ZEVs. (Ed note: An electric car is anything but a ZEV or Zero Emission Vehicle because the electricity comes from a variety of sources including coal generating plants, some of the worst polluters on the planet. Others cite nuclear not as an air polluting source but as a long term environmental polluter. Driving an EV requires polluting emissions in the preparation of the ‘fuel’ whether in electricity or hydrogen form, unless obtained from a true pollution free source such as photovoltaic or wind. Even these will have to be manufactured with ‘green’ power to achieve total cleanliness.)
Now, put yourself in the place of an automaker. GM spent a ton developing the EV1 and nobody wants them as replacements for their IC autos. GM could either design another loss leader EV or put another 5 tons in advertising to make people want to plug in. This comment is offered on the basis that you can sell anything if you advertise it enough and get enough movie stars to have one: -case in point divorces, the SUV and the PDA.
GM can’t make a buck in pouring an ounce into either developing a new EV or paying for Supergreen Superbowl ads. Hybrid vehicles don’t qualify in the ‘ZEV’ category, so they have come up with possibly the lowest cost method to meet the mandate: give EVs away!
At this time, GM will give away 10,000 Club Car’s Pathway NEVs (Neighborhood Electric Vehicles), surely not zero emission vehicles, but aptly named as feature laden golf cars.) The company follow with studies on the vehicle useage and performance in California and the Northeast U.S. over the next several months. GM needs to place nearly 5,000 in California to meet their obligation.
Ford and DaimlerChrysler have also seen the light. Ford is donating 500 Th!nk NEVs to the national parks in California, and DaimlerChryser is negotiating to place 300 Global Electric Motorcars in the state parks of California. As the Lead-acid batteries wear out in a few years, there is either going to be a nice battery replacement market or soap box derbies will get a new platform.