Envision Issues Patent for Curbside EV Charging Product

Envision Solar International Inc., a producer of infrastructure products for EV charging, says the U.S. Patent and Trademarks Office has issued U.S. Patent No: 10,518,657 covering EV Standard, the company’s renewably-energized streetlamp product.

Envision’s patented EV Standard product is designed to overcome the challenges associated with the provision of on-street EV charging, while also providing an energy-efficient and sustainable-lighting solution. EV Standard’s products can be deployed without having to invest in expensive, disruptive and time-consuming civil or electrical upgrades because they leverage streetlamps’ pre-existing foundations and connections to the electrical grid, the company says.

The EV Standard product provides efficient street lighting and curbside EV charging by combining solar, wind and utility-generated electricity in a bank of integrated batteries. While most traditional streetlamps do not have sufficient electrical capacity to provide meaningful EV charging, the combination of all three sources of power will do so in a sustainable and economical manner.

“This latest patented product will enable us to fill a significant gap in the current EV charging infrastructure market. As electric vehicles become more widespread the demand for on-street charging will become urgent,” says Desmond Wheatley, CEO of Envision.

Kenworth, Dana Collaborate on Electric Truck Development

Kenworth and Dana Inc. say they are collaborating on electric powertrain development for medium-duty Kenworth battery EVs.

The zero-emissions Kenworth K270E cab-over truck is equipped with a Dana-designed e-powertrain system that is fully integrated and compatible with the Kenworth chassis.  Configured as a direct-drive system, the vehicle utilizes a Spicer Electrified e-propulsion system and a standard Dana drive axle and driveshaft.

Dana also supplies an e-power system, which generates, stores and manages the energy for the vehicle and consists of electrified auxiliary systems, an on-board charger and two battery packs. Dana-developed software and controls enable the diagnostics and telemetry of the complete system.

The electric powertrain will be available with range options between 100 and 200 miles. Using the vehicles’ DC fast-charging system, the high-energy density battery packs can recharge in about an hour, making both the Class 6 Kenworth K270E and Class 7 K370E cab-overs ideal for local pickup and delivery, as well as short regional-haul operations.

“This is an important next step in our evolution of an electric powertrain,” says Kevin Baney, general manager of Kenworth and vice president of PACCAR. “Kenworth plans to produce up to 100 medium-duty cab-over electric trucks in 2020.”

Panasonic, Tropos Motors Reveal Concept Cargo, Firetruck

Panasonic and Tropos Motors have revealed two multi-technology production-ready compact utility commercial vehicles.

These right-sized, fleet truck concepts are powered by Panasonic’s proprietary software and cloud services platform OneConnect.

“The goal is to address the needs of businesses that depend on small commercial vehicles with a practical and efficient solution,” says John Bautista, founder and CEO of Tropos Motors. “With an ability to accommodate both large and purpose-built payloads, our vehicles are created with versatility in mind to fulfill the requirements of any corporate, first-responder, agricultural or last-mile application.”

The first production concept is the Connected Right-Sized Emergency Firetruck. The vehicle is a Tropos Motors’ right-sized firetruck outfitted with a Panasonic TOUGHBOOK FZ-G1 tablet to track and receive emergency information.

Firetrucks can cost as much as $500,000; the Tropos FRV firetruck is one-tenth the cost and has similar capabilities. Due to its smaller height, the firetruck can access tighter spaces and can even fit underneath most parking structure height restrictions.

OpConnect Introduces Plug-N-Play Network Connected Stations

OpConnect, a developer of EV charging technology, says it has shipped its first Plug-N-Play OCPP-enabled EV charging stations.

The company notes that this technology allows stations to be installed and activated by any licensed electrician without commissioning.

“This is an important step in saving installation costs for our customers,” says Dexter Turner, CEO of OpConnect. “No longer will installing networked stations require costly commissioning by the manufacturer or a certified installer. Just like many devices we use every day, when the station is first powered up, it will identify itself on the network, and the customer will be in business.”

This technology reflects OpConnect’s goal to improve customer satisfaction and help reduce the costs associated with EV charging.

“The more cost-saving innovation we can bring to market, the more EV infrastructure we can get deployed, which will help accelerate EV adoption,” adds Turner.

NACFE Fleets Saved Almost $900 Million in Fuel Costs

The North American Council for Fuel Efficiency’s 2019 Annual Fleet Fuel Study found that overall fuel efficiency for Class 8 trucks in long-haul applications continues to improve, thanks to a host of new technologies and operational practices. However, the study also found that there is a “significant” performance gap between the numbers being posted by most fleets and the best-in-class performers on the fuel efficiency front.

The study encompassed Class 8 tractors (daycabs and sleepers) and trailers in regional and long-haul applications. Its primary goal was to study the fleets’ levels of adoption of 85 technologies and practices, and the results those drove in each organization.

All 85 technologies are currently available – not prototypes, validation test units, or pre-production units. This study focuses on technologies purchased and implemented onto a fleet’s trucks and trailers. In certain cases, fleets were asked if they had retrofitted any of the devices on their equipment, but this was done for context and is not included in the adoption data.

Fleets providing data for this 2019 study include Bison Transport, C&S, Cardinal Logistics, CFI, CR England, Crete, Frito-Lay, Hirschbach, Maverick, Mesilla Valley Transportation, NFI Industries, Nussbaum, Paper Transport, Prime, Schneider, United Parcel Service, and Werner. Over the years new fleets have joined the study while others stopped or failed to report for a year.

According to NACFE, the primary finding of the 2019 study is that the 21 fleets being evaluated are increasing their rate of adoption of these technologies, and that they are enjoying improved fuel economy as a result of these efforts. The overall adoption rate for the technologies studied in this report has grown from 17% in 2003 to 45% in 2018. Not all technologies could be applied to a single tractor-trailer, as some are clearly an either-or decision.

The report cited several technologies that NACFE fleets adopted in greater quantities during 2019. The technologies with the highest adoption rates were:

  • Predictive cruise control — 32% increase
  • Shift-to-neutral ATMs — 29% increase
  • Low rolling resistance tires — 21% increase
  • Aerodynamic wheel covers (tractors) — 66% increase
  • Engine start/stop for HVAC — 26% increase
  • FA-4 high efficiency engine oil — 531% increase
  • Use of hotels to reduce idle — 22% increase
  • Tire pressue inflation systems (tractors) — 168% increase
  • Trailer nose cones — 23%
  • Trailer gap reducers — 1,389% increase
  • Truck stop electriciation (snorkel type) — 29% increase
  • Solar panels (tractor) — 126% increase
  • Aerodynamic wheel covers (trailers) — 24% increase
  • Mechanical turbo compounding — 25% increase

Blink Working on DC Fast Charging Powered by Kinetic Energy

Blink Charging Co. is partnering with Chakratec, an Israeli e-mobility company, to bring a DC fast charging solution to the U.S. that can be deployed virtually anywhere, regardless of the location’s existing power grid capabilities.

DC fast chargers provide the fastest electric vehicle (EV) charging speeds, making these high-power charging solutions available only in locations with sufficient grid power. Upgrading grid infrastructure is extremely costly. Even for cities that can afford the upgrade, the process can be convoluted: arduous approval processes and various regulatory and bureaucratic procedures tend to slow down the approval process.

The Blink and Chakratec project is expected to introduce cutting-edge DC fast charging technology to the U.S. that utilizes a kinetic energy storage system. This will enable high-power charging, serving many EVs daily without straining the grid, and avoiding increased “high demand” charges from utility companies. The proprietary technology is chemical-free, environmentally friendly and able to complete a full charging cycle within just 20 minutes, the companies say.

New NFPA 58 guidelines change autogas refueling process

Changes to the autogas refueling process are on the horizon due to new NFPA 58 2020 guidelines.

The guidelines for the new year specify the propane industry adopt the K15 connection for all future autogas vehicles reinstated into service, purchased or converted after Jan. 1, 2020.

Unlike the outgoing ACME valve, which requires a threaded connection to the vehicle, the K15 allows for a much easier quick-connect to a vehicle for refueling. This type of connection reduces fugitive emissions during the autogas refueling process, making it more environmentally friendly and increasing driver safety, Alliance AutoGas (AAG) explains.

Fugitive emissions – or gases or vapors that are released due to leaks and other irregular releases of gases – often escape during the autogas refueling process. AAG says the average quick-connect K15 releases 76 percent less fugitive emissions when compared to the ACME connecter.

“We have seen a significant increase in autogas gallons used for fleets that have switched from the ACME to the quick-connect,” says Jessica Johnson, partner and projects liaison for AAG. “It creates a fueling experience that they are used to and is less intimidating because they don’t have to put on the protective equipment. Our customers are much more confident in their refueling, and can go about business as usual.”

The NFPA 58 code change is not retroactive to vehicles produced before Jan. 1, 2020, AAG explains. However, when a fleet receives a new propane vehicle or performs a conversion after Jan. 1, 2020, the K15 is a requirement for that vehicle.

To help fleets through this transition, adaptors are available, though adaptors are not considered a long-term solution. Any existing ACME equipped propane vehicle can quickly and easily be retrofitted to the new K15 refueling valve, which is the preferred solution for fleets because it allows them to benefit from the advancements in propane vehicle refueling, increasing their ease of operation and safety, AAG says.

“The quick-connect K15 is an exciting advancement in the autogas industry,” says David Kennedy, director of autogas design at AAG. “It provides an easier process compared to what was being used previously and is more environmentally friendly. We have had elderly drivers from our Alliance AutoGas customers struggle with lining the ACME connecter and getting it to thread in the past. Having the K15 allows drivers to refuel with greater ease.”

Trillium Completes Two CNG Stations at Love’s Sites

Trillium, a provider of alternative fuel systems and renewable fuels, is adding two new public compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations to its network of California locations.

Trillium designed and built the CNG stations at two Love’s Travel Stops located in Lost Hills and Tehachapi, Calif. The stations will offer renewable natural gas (RNG) refueling capabilities to fleet customers. Produced entirely from organic waste streams, RNG is a low-carbon fuel and interchangeable with pipeline-quality natural gas.

The new CNG stations will feature two fast-fill dispensers and will be heavy-duty vehicle accessible. Slated to open in the first quarter of 2020, these two new stations will add to the network of more than 30 private and public Trillium locations located in California.

“We are excited to expand our network and bring access to RNG fueling to our many fleet customers operating in California’s Central Valley,” says JP Fjeld-Hansen, vice president of Trillium.

Microtransit Fleet Takes Delivery of First Two Electric Ford Transits

Lightning Systems says it has delivered the first two units of an initial order of six Lightning Electric Ford Transit 350HD wheelchair-accessible passenger vans to Freebee, an operator of on-demand public transportation in south Florida.

Freebee serves local communities through municipal transportation contracts, using a microtransit model that provides passengers with free door-to-door rides.

“The Lightning Electric Transit 350HD passenger van is ideally suited to the emerging microtransit model,” says Tim Reeser, CEO of Lightning Systems. “Our EV powertrain and battery solution is configured and installed to support features such as wheelchair lifts, aftermarket HVAC systems and third-party seating configurations. The combination of performance and range, as well as the passenger experience that comes from riding a battery-electric vehicle, all contribute to making it a great choice for door-to-door transit in urban and suburban environments.”

8 States Sign Statement to Accelerate Transition to Zero-Emission Trucks and Buses

California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont joined with the District of Columbia to sign a statement of intent today to develop an action plan to accelerate the deployment of zero-emission trucks and buses.

The initiative is led by the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

“Our states recognize that nearly all new motor vehicles need to be electric by 2050 to achieve the necessary reductions in greenhouse gas emissions,” the statement reads. “Therefore, transportation electrification is a key climate action strategy and a top air quality priority for our states.”

The next step is for the governors of those states to agree to a Memorandum of Understanding to form a strategy to accelerate the zero-emission truck market.