Natural Gas Truck Sales Are on the Rise

Retail sales of U.S. and Canadian Class 8 Natural Gas trucks have increased in 2019, reversing the declining trend from the year before, according to ACT Research’s Alternative Fuels Quarterly.

As of May, year-to-date sales were up 43% and were also up 10% from April’s numbers.

“Bucking the early decline pattern of the past few years, cumulative sales for the first five months of 2019 appear to be gaining ground,” said Ken Vieth, senior partner and general manager at ACT Research. “Despite soft reports in three of the first five months this year, sales of natural gas-powered vehicles are on an overall upward trajectory, gaining 10% month-over-month, 60% compared to May of 2018, and showing 43% improvement against the first five months of last year.”

Refuse fleets were the biggest purchaser of new Class 8 natural gas trucks. Other big adopters were transit and school bus fleets.

Verizon Connect Offers Navigation App

Verizon Connect has begun offering a navigation mobile app that works with its Verizon Connect Reveal telematics platform and helps give drivers directions based on their vehicle and load types, the company announced.

The app is designed to reduce miles driven and improve driver safety as part delivering a more efficient route.

The mobile app helps keep drivers safe by ensuring they travel on permitted roads and avoid low bridges or tunnels. It also helps save time and money by providing efficient directions to reduce the number of out-of-route miles, according to the company.

The app also provides updated routes so drivers can avoid major accidents, construction, and road closures.

Agility Picks up 2020 EPA Certification for Propane Autogas Engine

Agility Fuel Solutions, a provider of clean fuel solutions for medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles, has received 2020 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certification for its 488LPI propane autogas engine for sale in truck and bus applications.

The 488LPI is built using Agility’s patented liquid propane injection technology to ensure consistent injection of propane in the liquid state across all cylinders under all operating conditions, improving engine performance.

Agility says it designed the engine for reliability, with improvements such as a valvetrain with roller rockers and newly designed dress parts specifically engineered to ensure reliability, durability and fuel efficiency.

A custom configuration of the 488LPI engine is supplied to Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC) as a part of the DriveForce brand of engines. The DriveForce 8.0L is available in the Thomas Built Bus Saf-T-Liner C2 Propane school bus and in the FCCC S2G medium-duty truck.

Electrify America Petitions for Electric Vehicle Emoji

Electrify America has submitted a formal proposal to the Unicode Consortium, the governing body for emoji creation, to introduce the first-ever “Electric Vehicle With Charger” emoji for smartphone keyboards.

The submission announcement, and a corresponding petition on Change.org, comes two days ahead of World Emoji Day on July 17.

“As EVs become more popular and charging station networks continue to expand, we felt it was time for an emoji that reflects the changing industry and future of transportation,” says Rich Steinberg, director marketing, communications and Green City initiatives at Electrify America. “We hope an emoji, a symbol used in everyday digital communication, will help more people get used to the idea of driving an EV and become excited about the possibility of owning one someday.”

 

Eco-Energy Launches Logistics Service for Ethanol Market

Eco-Energy, a biofuel supply chain company, launched its Ethanol Logistics Service on July 11 to reach a broader mix of ethanol buyers and shippers, and create the largest asset-backed logistics management service exclusively focused on ethanol.

The service, which initially is focused on truck transport, will begin operations with $25 million of annual freight under management, according to the Franklin, Tenn.-based company. Eco has partnered with Rocky Mount, N.C.-based Eagle Transport Corp. as the preferred truck carrier for the business, and Eagle will assume certain truck operations currently within Eco-Energy Transportation.

 

“We recognize a real need to resolve current gaps in ethanol logistics management, as well as proactively address the future constraints we anticipate in this space,” said David Maggied, Eco-Energy’s vice president of transportation.

DOE Tallies U.S. EV Charging Units

As of May 2019, there were more than 68,800 Level 2 and DC fast-charging units throughout the U.S., according to the “fact of the week” from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Vehicle Technologies Office.

Of that total, 16% – or approximately 10,860 units – were DC fast-chargers, making long-distance travel more practical for electric vehicles (EVs), says the DOE. A DC fast-charger can add 60 to 80 miles of range per 20 minutes of charging, while a Level 2 charger can add 10 to 20 miles of range per one hour of charging.

At 22,620, California has the most EV charging units of any state, representing about a third of the nationwide total.

Tips to Managing Electric Vehicle Range in Winter

Alliy Sahagan coasted in a 2017 Nissan Leaf into the Gunnison County Electric Association (GCEA) warehouse in Gunnison, Colo. on the electric vehicle equivalent of running on fumes. Just minutes earlier, the Leaf’s dashboard told her the car had zero miles left and a 9% battery charge.

Sahagan was returning from what was supposed to be a 25-mile test drive on a minus 5-degrees Fahrenheit January morning. When she left the electric utility company’s warehouse, she didn’t notice the battery level was at 63%.

Sahagan knew GCEA operating guidelines warn battery electric vehicle (BEV) operators to expect up to a 40% reduction in vehicle range in Gunnison’s subzero winter weather.

“In my haste, I neglected to follow some of my own EV prep preaching,” says Sahagan, who oversees the association’s BEV loan program, which includes the Leaf, a Chevy Spark model and two other hybrid-electric vehicles.

She has since used this story as a cautionary tale to help people remember the dos and don’ts of operating electric vehicles during the winter.

Toyota’s Brazilian Corolla Will Run on Pretty Much Whatever You Want

For 22 years, Toyota Motor Corp. has made hybrid cars that don’t require drivers to choose between running on gas or electricity. In October it will add a third option: ethanol.

The Japanese manufacturer will package its ultrapragmatic drivetrain in an all-new Corolla sedan that will be bolted together at its plant in Sao Paulo. Toyota is billing the vehicle as the cleanest hybrid ever made.

Ethanol has long been a popular fuel in Brazil, where it’s brewed fairly efficiently from fast-growing sugar cane. Because the plants process CO₂ as they grow, ethanol is considered a renewable fuel; burning a gallon of it releases only 10% to 20% as much carbon as burning a gallon of traditional gas, according to Unica, a sugar association.

“The goal is to make a car with zero carbon emission; that’s the industry’s race,” said Ricardo Bastos, Toyota’s head of government relations in Brazil. “With ethanol, we’re closer if you consider the whole cycle, well to wheel.”

Walmart’s EV Stations Let You Plug In While You Shop

Electric vehicle owners will have a new reason to visit Walmart as they travel across America: Not only can they stock up on snacks and drinks but they can get electric charges.

Arkansas-based Walmart, the nation’s biggest retailer and No. 3 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest private carriers in North America, teamed up with Electrify America, a Virginia-based company owned by Volkswagen Group of America. In the past year, 120 electric vehicle charging stations have been installed in 34 states, with most located at Walmart stores off major highways. More are planned as Walmart tries to become one of the nation’s largest retail hosts of electric vehicle charging stations.

Placement of the charging stations currently in operation give drivers the option of stopping only at Walmart stores while they travel on interstate routes from Houston to Chicago, San Antonio to St. Louis and Washington, D.C., to Savannah, GA., according to Walmart.

Now, most commercially available electric vehicle charging stations are concentrated along the two coasts and in major urban areas. Walmart said that through its arrangement with Electrify America, more electric vehicle stations will be available in rural communities, secondary highways and outside the coastal regions.

Ford Readies for Push in Electric Cars, Morgan Stanley Says

Ford Motor Co. is preparing to make a bigger push in electric vehicles, according to Morgan Stanley.

The company doesn’t currently offer any electric cars, although it has been heavily investing in such technology. The carmaker’s ongoing discussions with Volkswagen AG promise to take its electric-car ambitions “to the next level,” analysts led by Adam Jonas wrote in a note on July 3, adding that such a deal mitigates financial risks from electric car investment.

“While Ford and VW have yet to announce any definitive agreement around joint-BEV development,” Morgan Stanley wrote, referring to battery electric vehicles, “we believe investors should prepare for significant levels of potential collaboration to share development and manufacturing costs.”

A logo is displayed on the steering wheel of a VW I.D. Buggy electric concept automobile. Volkswagen AG is nearing a deal to cooperate with Ford Motor Co. on electric-car technology and self-driving vehicles. (Chris J. Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)

Ford shares rose as much as 1.7% to $10.29 on July 3, the highest level since May 17.

An announcement could be imminent. Bloomberg has reported that Volkswagen’s supervisory board plans to discuss, and possibly approve, the next steps toward expanding its alliance with Ford when it meets next week, according to people familiar with the matter. The two companies announced a collaboration on vans and pickup trucks back in January.