Today in Cleantech

The EPA has issued its sticker for the Nissan LEAF all-electric sedan — let’s break down the numbers. First, the LEAF scored big with its 99 miles per gallon “equivalent,” or MPGe, based on the assumption that 33.7 kilowatt hours of electricity equals one gallon of gasoline. The EPA hasn’t issued its sticker for the LEAF’s big rival, the plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt — but GM has said that the Volt gets about 100 MPGe when it’s in all-electric mode, but about 30MPG when the battery-charging motor kicks in. What about the cost of fuel? EPA pegs the LEAF’s annual electricity cost at $561, though that number will vary depending on regional power pricing differences — but it’s still better than EPA’s annual fuel cost of $867 for the Toyota Prius hybrid. The LEAF’s $561-per-year power cost also brings up useful figures to measure against NRG Energy’s new car charging business in Houston. While it has more expensive public charging options, NRG’s program at the low end promises to install Level 2 car chargers at the homes of new LEAF buyers, and provide all the power they need for three years, at a fixed rate of $49 per month — or $588 per year.

EVO Electric: Electric Car Motor Maker Links with Lotus

EVO Electric, a U.K.-based startup developing a more efficient electric motor for hybrid and electric cars, will be getting a whole lotta attention in Geneva on Tuesday due to a major new partnership. The 3-year-old company has scored a deal with Lotus Engineering, and EVO’s motors are being featured in a plug-in hybrid concept sports car — the Evora hybrid — expected to be unveiled at the Geneva International Motor Show on Tuesday.

The Evora hybrid is expected to look like this regular Evora sports car, which came out in September.

The Evora 414E Hybrid concept car is a plug-in hybrid version of Lotus’ currently available Evora (pictured above), which represented Lotus’ first new vehicle since 1995 when itstarted rolling out in Europe in September. The hybrid concept includes two EVOdrive motors, each providing 204 horsepower and 295 pounds of torque per foot, as well as EVO’s electric generator technology to help run a 35kW range extender system.
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In 2010, EVs Will Need More Than Just an Electric Motor

During the next few years, EV and plug-in choices will multiply and the newness of being propelled by an electric motor will wear off. When that time comes, you can expect potential buyers to start paying closer attention to the technology packages and convenience features they want (and the automakers that offer them). The most exciting part of the Car 2.0 revolution is that if both automakers and software developers play their cards right, a car buyer’s dream car could be just an app download away.

Are You Repelling As Many Clients As You Should?

When you think about growing a business, you think about how to attract customers. You might build a web site, create marketing materials, and look for ways to get your message to the masses, but have you ever considered ways to repel clients?

Separating the wheat from the chaff is a big part of creating a successful business. As one Inc. magazine article noted, “A person ought to be able to…in five or six seconds have an idea of what you’re selling and whether it applies to them.” Weeding out those who are not well-suited for you and your business is just as important as attracting those who are. Read More about Are You Repelling As Many Clients As You Should?

Crossing Diesels with Plug-In Hybrids: Good or Bad Idea?

Volvo V70_PHEV_dieselDiesels and hybrid-electric cars have often been posed as competitors racing to capture the green-automotive market. Diesels are more popular in Europe, while hybrids are more popular in the United States. Both have their advantages and disadvantages: diesels can get impressive fuel economy without complicated drivetrains (providing a cost advantage over hybrids today), while plug-in hybrids bundled with a renewable energy-powered grid can be even cleaner.

But now, it looks like these competitors are coming together. Volvo Car Corp. announced Friday that it plans to bring a diesel plug-in hybrid to the market by 2012. The news comes after Peugeot earlier this month unveiled a diesel PHEV minicar that it plans to bring to the market next year, and BMW also showed off a sporty diesel PHEV concept car at the Frankfurt auto show. While companies have been tinkering with the concept for some time, it looks like diesel PHEVs are finally starting to gain some traction.
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Have Verizon Data Plan, Will Travel With AD3700 Global Modem

verizon-ad3700The Verizon MiFi may be handling all my mobile data connections, but that’s because I’m not roaming globally. I’m stuck in North America with my MiFi and business travelers need more than that. That’s why Verizon (s vz) is releasing the ZTE AD3700 global modem, which works on both Verizon’s domestic EVDO network and also on HSPA networks abroad. The USB modem launches today for $80 with a rebate.
(via engadget)

Milestone: Toyota Plug-in Hybrid to Roll Out En Masse by 2012

Less than three years: that’s the wait time left for a plug-in hybrid from Toyota (s TM) at commercial scale, according to reports this weekend from Japan’s Nikkei (h/t Reuters). The news that Toyota plans to start churning out at least 20,000 to 30,000 plug-in hybrids in 2012 comes just one month after the company first detailed plans to lease plug-in hybrids based on the latest Prius model with lithium-ion batteries.


Toyota’s plans to move forward with mass production of its plug-in hybrid vehicle within the next few years — at a price comparable to Mitsubishi’s planned electric vehicle, according to the Nikkei’s sources — represents another major milestone for a technology that’s widely seen as the future of electric car batteries. The timeline also offers a glimpse of the competition coming down the pipeline for plug-in hybrid makers like General Motors (s GM) with its Chevy Volt, and to some extent Fisker Automotive and Hyundai with their plug-in hybrid sports cars, as well as Honda if it eventually ends up pursuing plug-in hybrid tech. (Honda President Takeo Fukui described it as an option under consideration earlier this year.) Read More about Milestone: Toyota Plug-in Hybrid to Roll Out En Masse by 2012

Milestone: Lithium-ion Batteries to Hit the Road in Toyota’s Plug-in Prius

It’s been a long time coming: Toyota (s TM) began working more than three years ago on lithium-ion batteries as an alternative to the NiMH batteries in the Prius, which can be more expensive, but store more energy with less weight. Today the company detailed plans to lease 500 plug-in hybrids with lithium-ion batteries, including 200 in Japan, 150 in the U.S., and 150 in Europe starting at the end of this year.

The upcoming lease program, mostly for government fleets, will use models based on the third-generation Prius (pictured) that can charge via standard household outlets — and will mark the first time this type of battery has been used for propulsion in a Toyota vehicle. It will also be one of the first on-road trials of this size for lithium-ion batteries in a plug-in hybrid car by a mainstream automaker — making it a major milestone for a technology that’s widely seen as the future of electric car batteries.

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Daily Sprout

Smarty Plans: Technologies that could take our decades-old infrastructure to new levels of intelligence include traffic forecasters, remote-controlled vehicles, smart meters and electronic reservoir monitors. — Wall Street Journal

Green Acres: Green Real Estate Investment Trusts, or REITs, are taking off in the residential sector as firms gear up for a future when real estate agents pitch inefficient homes as “energy fixers.” — NYT’s Green Inc.

A Call to Kill the Hydrogen Car: Want to free up $1 billion in the federal budget for advanced vehicle technology R&D? Then scale back the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle program. — Climate Progress

Texas Plugs In: Texas state lawmakers have proposed a $4,000 state subsidy for plug-in hybrid buyers and a measure to replace the state’s fleet of vehicles with plug-ins (if they’re not too expensive). — Green Car Congress

Could Cleantech Save the Valley?: Since November, Silicon Valley has seen a spike in job losses — but not in the cleantech sector, according to a new economic report. — CNET’s Green Tech

Ford to Follow GM in Making Plug-in Battery Cells Overseas

020309_escapehybridpluginIn the latest blow to the emerging U.S. lithium-ion battery industry, Ford Motor (s f) said it’s picked the French-American joint venture Johnson Controls-Saft to supply batteries for the automaker’s first plug-in electric vehicle. Ford said today it plans to assemble the system stateside from cells produced (at least initially) at a Saft Groupe SA (s SAFT) facility in Nersac, France. Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls (s JCI), one of the world’s largest automotive battery suppliers, will design the system.

This intercontinental arrangement with the joint venture, which also supplied batteries for the Ford Escape plug-in test fleet and makes batteries for Mercedes-Benz and BMW (s BMW) hybrids, is similar to the plan General Motors (s GM) announced for the Chevy Volt last month: GM picked South Korea-based LG Chem to manufacture cells overseas for battery packs to be assembled in Michigan.

Having just secured federal bailout funds, GM took a lot of heat for sending the deal abroad. Ford and its partners seem to have paid close attention the fallout, emphasizing the red-white-and-blueness of assembling the packs in the U.S. — and drawing attention to the importance of building up domestic supply. “As U.S. vehicle manufacturers commercialize their hybrid programs,” Johnson Controls Power Solutions president Alex Molinaroli said in Ford’s release, “the industry will be best served with a qualified and robust domestic supply base.” Read More about Ford to Follow GM in Making Plug-in Battery Cells Overseas