Hyundai to Invest $6.7B in Hydrogen

Hyundai Motor Group plans to invest $6.7 billion in hydrogen fuel cell technology and hopes to produce 700,000 fuel cell systems each year by 2030. Hyundai, which owns about 33% of Kia Motor Corp., plans to install 500,000 of those in Hyundai and Kia vehicles.

Hyundai announced its plans as part of its FCEV Vision 2030, which was announced Dec. 11 as it opened a new hydrogen fuel-cell plant in Chungju, South Korea. The plant, which will be operated by Hyundai Mobis, will increase output from today’s 3,000 fuel-cell packs per year to 40,000 a year by 2022.

Hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles haven’t been adopted in recent years partly because of the lack of fueling infrastructure. There are now 36 retail stations open in California with another 28 under development, according to the California Fuel Cell Partnership.

Hyundai says its research shows that global demand for hydrogen-powered vehicles will grow to 2 million per year by 2030.

Daimler is buying Nearly $23 billion of Battery Cells to Power its Electric Vehicle Offensive

Daimler plans to buy $23 billion worth of battery cells by 2030 as the maker of Mercedes-Benz vehicles and commercial trucks prepares to bring dozens of electric and hybrid vehicles to market.

The German automaker didn’t disclose which companies would supply them with batteries. However, Daimler does have supply deals with LG Chem  and SK Innovation, as well as China’s CATL.

Daimler’s $22.8 billion budget for lithium-ion batteries is just part of its multi-billion effort to launch 130 electric and hybrid vehicles by 2022 as well as commercial trucks, buses and vans.

The company has been ramping up its electric vehicle offensive for years now, an effort that has included the development of a heavy-duty electric truck, plans to spend $1.2 billion to develop global battery production and an investment in electric charging company ChargePoint.

Biodiesel Stakeholders Ask Congress for Long-term Extension of the Biodiesel Tax Incentive

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) and more than 50 member companies and affiliated organizations delivered a letter to House and Senate leaders, urging them to enact a multiyear extension of the biodiesel and renewable diesel tax incentive before Congress adjourns for the year. In February 2018, Congress retroactively extended the tax incentive for 2017, leaving it expired for this year and beyond. The letter welcomes a recent proposal for a seven-year extension of the tax incentive.

In the letter, the biodiesel industry stakeholders state, “We believe that a multiyear extension of the tax incentive would help the biodiesel industry achieve substantial growth over the next several years, creating significant new employment opportunities, an important market for agricultural products and renewable feedstocks, as well as opportunities for rural economic growth.”

The U.S. biodiesel and renewable diesel market has grown from about 100 million gallons in 2005, when the incentive was first implemented, to nearly 2.9 billion gallons in 2016.

Kurt Kovarik, Vice President of Federal Affairs with the National Biodiesel Board, added, “The biodiesel industry has long advocated for a multiyear extension of the tax incentive. Congress can provide the certainty and predictability for producers and feedstock providers that will help us achieve our potential. Because the incentive is currently expired, it is urgent that Congress act before the end of the year.”


City of Beverly Hills Runs 100% Renewable Diesel

The second generation of biofuels and renewable diesel is here, but what does that mean for Beverly Hills fleet manager Craig Crowder? For the City’s fleet of 445 vehicles, it means better performance, reduced maintenance, and a more sustainable way to serve the city. Crowder is proud to report that his fleet now runs on 100% renewable diesel — an important part of the City of Beverly Hills’s sustainability plan.

The logistics that go into managing a fleet with 99 different classifications of vehicles — everything from lawn and garden machines to fire and garbage trucks—is incomprehensible to most Beverly Hills residents. To Crowder, this is just everyday life.

“We have a lot of different types of vehicles,” said Crowder, who has been with the City of Beverly Hills for more than 25 years. “My biggest concern with switching fuel types was the transition and what accommodations would have to be made. Thankfully, with Neste MY Renewable Diesel, it was a drop-in product that required no change in infrastructure.”

Neste MY Renewable Diesel is a low-carbon fuel produced from 100% renewable and sustainable raw materials, primarily wastes and residues. The premium diesel cuts greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80%, reduces carbon monoxide by 24%, and fine particulates by 33%, all while enhancing fleet performance. Neste MY is a direct replacement fuel that requires no blending and is compatible with all diesel engines.

Louisville Man with Terminal Lung Disease Given Electric Car

A Louisville man with a terminal lung disease gets an early Christmas present.

It’s one he hopes will help others learn the importance of clean air.
Mike Olsen has Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, and it requires him to be hooked up to an oxygen tank at all times.
Kentucky’s non-profit electric vehicle group, EVOLVE Kentucky, gave Olsen an electric car, that will help in his role as a Clean Air Ambassador for Louisville.

Think Alternative Fuels Lower Fleet Expenses? Look at Maintenance

In today’s thriving economy, it’s a good year to be a fleet manager. Yet, at the same time, fleet managers at transportation companies, as well as at governments providing services like fire protection or mass transit, still face concerns around profitability and maintenance.

Diesel prices hover around $3.35 a gallon—nearly 54 cents a gallon higher than this time last year. These rising prices, combined with the growing pressure to invest in environmentally friendly alternatives fuels and technologies, mean that fleet managers need to find new ways to better manage, if not reduce, fuel spend while still operating efficiently.

While the headlines make exciting promises about what’s around the corner—“Electrically-powered long-haul trucks!” “Delivery vans and municipal vehicles burning clean natural gas!”—the reality may be years away:

  • Trucks have a long life cycle, so diesel-powered vehicles in current fleets will still be on the road in 2030 and beyond.
  • Fleet owners will need to invest millions of dollars to modify or replace trucks that have internal combustion engines.
  • Building the infrastructure to recharge or refuel vehicles running on batteries or alternatives fuels will take decades.

So Many Choices, but What Really Reduces Fuel Spend?

Cutting fuel costs is consistently top of mind for fleet managers at transportation companies and government services, including fire departments, transit authorities, airports, highway maintenance, and sanitation.

In California, the primary market in the United States for alternative fuels for Class 8 trucks and other heavy-duty vehicles, fuel prices are already higher than other states due to taxes and regulations. And forecasts predict prices to reach or exceed $4 per gallon in 2019. California operators should prepare for diesel prices to reach between $6 and $7 per gallon during the next decade.

In addition, California has a new goal of carbon neutrality, in which the state vows to “remove as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as it emits” by 2045. How fleets respond is critical because the transportation sector in California is the single biggest contributor of greenhouse gas and nitrogen oxide and diesel particulate matter emissions into the atmosphere.

These environmental and monetary concerns are what’s driving fleet managers in their search for fuel options. The most popular are noted below:

  1. Rightsizing the fleet to mix in more fuel-efficient trucks
  2. Converting to alternative fuels such as biodiesel, compressed natural or petroleum gases, and electricity

Both approaches can help fleet managers achieve some of their business or budgetary goals, but they fall short of fully addressing fuel-spend challenges—unless fleet managers also focus on ways to lower the maintenance costs that arise from their fuel choice.

Volvo Trucks Unveils New Efficiency Packages

Volvo Trucks is furthering its focus on freight efficiency by offering new Payload Plus packages.

The new packages for the Volvo VNR and VNL series provide significant weight savings, helping to maximize payload and fuel efficiency in weight-sensitive tanker, bulk-haul, and specific dry van and refrigerated applications.

The Payload Plus packages, now available to order, provide a simple, model-based way to shave up to 540 lbs. from Volvo VNR regional-haul models and remove more than 335 lbs. from Volvo VNL long-haul models, according to the automaker.

Propane Autogas Innovation Sets New Standards

Forget merely meeting emissions standards. The propane autogas industry is raising the bar for what it means to be a clean fuel for commercial fleets.

It’s no secret that more fleets have been finding value in propane autogas vehicles. Regardless of whether that fleet needs a medium-duty delivery van or a Type C school bus, propane autogas has long delivered reduced greenhouse gas, nitrogen oxides (NOx), and sulfur oxides (SOx) emissions at an affordable cost — something other fuels can’t always promise.

In 2017 alone, more than 13,000 new propane autogas vehicles were added to roadways. Fueled by clean propane autogas, these vehicles will significantly reduce the amount of emissions and particulate matter produced over their entire lifecycle.

While the sales figures show that the affordability and low emissions of propane autogas is already resonating with thousands of fleet owners across the United States, our industry’s engine technology partners are never satisfied. They continue to dramatically improve the emissions profile of their engines to offer engine systems with emissions levels previously not thought possible.

RNG Industry Celebrates Growth, Honors 12 Companies

The Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas (RNG Coalition) commenced the North American renewable natural gas (RNG) industry’s annual conference program in Dana Point, Calif., by celebrating industry growth and recognizing 12 companies for their development roles in eight of the RNG production facilities completed across the U.S. in 2018.

This year, the industry surpassed 85 RNG production facilities in North America, up from the 41 facilities built between 1982 and 2014. Further, launching with eight members in 2011, the RNG Coalition surpassed a 150-member milestone earlier this fall.

Production facilities and companies celebrated in today’s ceremony are as follows (project location – companies):

  • Amsterdam, Ohio – Air Liquide and Montauk Energy
  • Angleton, Texas – DTE Biomass Energy and Morrow Renewables
  • Humble, Texas – Air Liquide, Montauk Energy and Waste Management
  • Jasper, Ind. – Amp Americas
  • Perris, Calif. – Greenlane Biogas and SoCalGas
  • Roosevelt, Wash. – Klickitat Public Utility District and Morrow Renewables
  • SE Oklahoma City, Okla. – Aria Energy & Republic Services
  • Walnut, Miss. – Air Liquide & Vilter Manufacturing

Finding Extra Fuel Economy Through Telematics

Small fleets may not always see telematics as a priority. With smaller margins the cost of the service may seem prohibitive, but even smaller fleets can yield strong results. A fleet operations manager with a fleet comprised of nearly 50 vehicles realized higher average fuel mileage and lower cost per mile by implementing telematics into his fleet.

One of the first things that Reggie Eubanks, fleet operations manager for ServiceMaster Restore, did when he joined the company in July was develop a six-month plan to revitalize his new company’s fleet.

This plan would involve integrating new software to manage the fleet, implementing telematics software, and auditing the company’s fleet.

The company’s fleet, he learned, was comprised of over 40 vehicles with 10 or 20 vehicles that would require more repairs than they were worth to continue to operate. A few had literally been run until their wheels had fallen off, he said.

One of the first things the company did after he joined was scrap the vehicles that had outlived their usefulness.

The common theme among the vehicles that remained was high mileage. Nearly all of the vehicles that the company would still use had over 200,000 miles clocked on their odometers.