EPA 2014 Renewable Fuel Standards Proposal Reaffirms Commitment to Biofuels
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed the levels of renewable fuels to be blended into gasoline and diesel. The proposal for annual volume requirements, developed with input from the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Agriculture, is required under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 for all motor vehicle gasoline and diesel produced or imported in 2014.
The EPA proposal seeks to put the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program on a path forward. The renewable fuels program was developed by Congress in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and expand the nation’s renewable fuels sector while reducing reliance on foreign oil. The standards determine how much renewable fuel a refiner or importer is responsible for, and are designed to achieve national volumes for each type of renewable fuel.
“Biofuels are a key part of the Obama administration’s ‘all of the above’ energy strategy, helping to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, cut carbon pollution and create jobs,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “We have made great progress in recent years, and EPA continues to support the RFS goal of increasing biofuel production and use. We look forward to working with all stakeholders to develop a final rule that maintains the strength and promise of the RFS program.”
The proposal discusses a variety of approaches for setting the 2014 standards, and includes a number of production and consumption ranges for key categories of biofuels covered by the RFS program. Specifically, EPA is proposing volumes for cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel and renewable fuels.
EPA is also addressing the E10 blend wall issue. Nearly all gasoline sold in the U.S. is now E10, which is fuel with up to 10 percent ethanol. Production of renewable fuels has been growing rapidly in recent years. At the same time, advances in vehicle fuel economy and other economic factors have pushed gasoline consumption far lower than what was expected when Congress passed the RFS. As a result, the country is now at the E10 blend wall, the point at which the E10 fuel pool is saturated with ethanol. If gasoline demand continues to decline, as currently forecast, continuing growth in the use of ethanol will require greater use of higher ethanol blends such as E15 and E85.
The Obama administration has taken a number of steps to allow or encourage the use of these higher ethanol blends. In 2010, EPA approved E15 for use in vehicles newer than model year 2001, and developed labeling rules to enable retailers to market E15. In addition, since 2011, the USDA has made funding available through the Rural Energy for America Program to support deployment of flex-fuel pumps that can dispense a range of ethanol blends.
The new 2014 proposal seeks to address additional actions that could be taken by government and industry to help overcome current market challenges, and to minimize the need for adjustments in the statutory renewable fuel volume requirements in the future. Visit www.epa.gov/otaq/fuels/renewablefuels/regulations.htm.
The 13th High-Efficiency Truck Users Forum (HTUF) National Meeting, held recently in Chicago, proved to be an important venue for bringing together stakeholders from all corners of the industry to advance the commercialization and adoption of high-efficiency truck and bus technologies. Billed as “The Forum for Action in High-Efficiency Commercial Vehicles,” HTUF focused on work across all high-efficiency technologies for commercial vehicles, and identified key actions required to move forward in the year ahead.
The HTUF Commercial Truck Action Group provided feedback on several working groups and initiatives, including strong support from across the industry for a nationwide voucher incentive expansion program. CALSTART is now in the process of developing a formal proposal for industry engagement and commitment to help implement these programs.
New companies and technologies continue to face significant structural obstacles related to emissions certification and onboard diagnostics compliance. As a result, CALSTART is continuing to explore opportunities for creating a certification process with more flexible policies that would allow new technologies to be deployed during the early (low-volume) stages of commercialization.
Sessions at HTUF focused on other issues as well. Included was a fleet deployment best practices working group session on helping fleets achieve economic and operational benefits as they deploy high-efficiency technologies. One question the session tried to help answer, for example, was, “How should our industry define, measure and prioritize high-efficiency technology deployment?”
Also at HTUF were the following sessions:
• Reduced Battery Life Cycle Costs Initiative
• Engineered Fuels – What are some of the more cost-effective improvements over traditional diesel and gasoline? When and where will they become more widely available to fleets?
• Advanced High Power Charging Systems for Your Electric Truck or Bus – New fast-charge systems are being readied for market that have potential to significantly expand the use of EV and PHEV technologies.
• Natural Gas as an Enabling Fuel for Near Zero Emissions – Several innovative applications for NG were highlighted as methods to extend the near-term range and performance capability of HD EVs.
• Zero Emission Truck and Bus Breakthrough – Several recent and important developments and programs were shared regarding ZE truck and bus development and deployment.
During the HTUF meeting, a Ride & Drive event included a technology parade. Featured were vehicles that focus on progress in refining overall driveability (noise vibration and harshness), continued innovation around regenerative braking (maximizing efficiency while also accommodating driver/fleet feedback) and increased utilization of real-time driver feedback displays.
HTUF also hosted the Hino/FleetCarma MPG Challenge, which demonstrated the significance of driver behavior on fuel economy on a fixed route of approximately 1.2 miles with eight to nine stops. The tests were conducted without exceeding locally posted speed limits or violating safe driving practices. The test vehicle for the challenge was a 2014 Hino 195h hybrid electric truck provided by Hino Trucks. Since a diesel-equivalent truck was not available, baseline fuel economy results were established by driving the Hino hybrid under aggressive driving conditions.
Results of the challenge included that out of 21 drivers, three drivers demonstrated a 45 percent improvement in fuel economy (mpg) compared to the aggressive driving baseline. Filtering the data to exclude the three most efficient drivers, the results indicated that typical drivers delivered from a 15 percent to 35 percent mpg improvement, depending on driving behavior.
The results, according to HTUF organizers, clearly demonstrate the importance of driver behavior on hybrid mpg results, and reinforce the importance of driver feedback displays and driver training, a fleet deployment best practice that is receiving increased attention industry-wide.
“The High-Efficiency Truck Users Forum is a process for driving and accelerating the commercialization of high-efficiency technologies into the commercial vehicle market,” said Kevin Beaty, vice president and HTUF director, CALSTART. “We do this by using a proven, ﬂeet-driven commercialization model and fostering a unique collaboration between OEMs, suppliers, fleets, policymakers and other stakeholders. We promote technology deployment and validation through action-oriented industry working groups aimed at achieving the goal of driving down the cost of developing new technologies.”
The 2014 HTUF Annual Meeting will be held September 22-23, 2014, at the Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Ill. Visit www.calstart.org.
Club Car Launches New Line of Carryall Vehicles
To help commercial customers switch from pickup trucks to gas, diesel or zero-emissions electric utility vehicles, Club Car is launching a new line of Carryall utility and transport vehicles (UTVs). To bridge the gap between trucks and UTVs, the manufacturer partnered with Subaru to design a new 14-horsepower, 404-cc, single-cylinder overhead cam engine that features electronic fuel injection, capacitive discharge ignition, hemispherical heads and a case-hardened steel timing chain. A splash lubrication system, which eliminates the need for oil filters to simplify maintenance and reduce environmental waste, is included as well.
Most new electric Carryall utility vehicles will feature a combination of an onboard, high-frequency charger with an integrated cord retractor as standard equipment. The charger can be programmed for multiple algorithms, including lead acid or gel/AGM batteries, and can be plugged into any 110- or 240-volt outlet.
The new Carryall vehicles retain the rustproof aluminum frame, rack-and-pinion steering and independent front suspension system on previous models. An aluminum bed box accommodates a configurable and removable track-based attachment system for tools and other equipment. Movable bed dividers and cargo tie-downs to stabilize loads and prevent shifting are available, and the system accommodates optional ladder racks, bucket holders and other accessories. Visit www.clubcar.com.
Transforming Service Vans to Hybrid Vehicles
Newly purchased 2014 Chevrolet Express service vans in the Coca-Cola fleet are now fitted with hybrid electric powertrain technology from XL Hybrids. Coca-Cola, which currently operates the largest hybrid electric delivery fleet in North America, is adding 100 of the vans to its light-duty fleet.
The XL Hybrids patent-pending hybrid electric powertrain can be installed on existing or new vehicles. Early test results of the technology at Coca-Cola showed a 15 to 20 percent reduction in fuel use compared to conventional vans. The company estimates that as a result of fuel savings, the powertrain unit will pay for itself three times over its projected 10-year life span. Visit www.xlhybrids.com.
GM to Offer Full-Size Bi-Fuel Sedan
A Chevrolet Impala sedan that operates on either gasoline or compressed natural gas (CNG) will be available to fleet customers from General Motors. The GM-produced full-size bi-fuel sedan is expected to go on sale next summer as a 2015 model.
The Chevrolet Impala bi-fuel sedan, according to the manufacturer, is designed to address the range anxiety associated with vehicles that run only on natural gas. The model features a factory-engineered powertrain that switches seamlessly from CNG to gasoline. Total range is expected to be up to 500 miles.
Other GM green initiatives, in addition to the Chevrolet Volt, Chevrolet Spark EV and the upcoming Cadillac ELR, include the introduction of start-stop technology as standard on the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu, helping the midsize sedan achieve a 25 mpg city/36 mpg highway rating. GM is also using electrification to boost fuel economy in the Buick Regal and LaCrosse sedans, which both get an EPA-estimated 36 mpg in highway use. Visit www.gmfleet.com.
First CNG-Capable 2014 Ford F-150 Rolls Off the Line
Ford has begun production of the 2014 F-150 half-ton pickup with the ability to run on natural gas. The vehicle, powered by a 3.7-liter V-6 engine, is available with a factory-installed, gaseous-fuel prep package that includes hardened valves, valve seats, and pistons and rings, so it can operate on either natural gas or gasoline through separate fuel systems. When equipped with a bi-fuel CNG/LPG engine package, the F-150 is capable of achieving more than 750 miles on combined tanks of gasoline and CNG, depending on tank sizes.
For the CNG/LPG models, fleets choose a Ford Qualified Vehicle Modifier to supply fuel tanks, fuel lines and unique fuel injectors. The OEM has established a rigorous qualification program for alternative-fuel vehicle modifiers.
By next summer, Ford will offer eight commercial vehicles with a gaseous-prep option, including:
• Transit Connect van and wagon
• Transit van, wagon, cutaway and chassis cab
• E-Series van, wagon, cutaway and stripped chassis
• F-Series Super Duty pickup and F-350 chassis cab
• F-Series Super Duty chassis cab (F-450, F-550)
• F-650 medium-duty truck
• F-53 and F-59 stripped chassis
• 2014 F-150 light-duty pickup
Ford notes that customers also can accelerate the payback period in a bi-fuel vehicle by taking advantage of a growing number of state incentives. Nearly 20 states offer or will soon provide tax incentives or rebates for CNG-converted vehicles. Visit www.fleet.ford.com.
UPCOMING GREEN EVENTS
The Green Truck Summit & The Work Truck Show 2014
The Green Truck Summit, to be held March 4-5, 2014, in conjunction with The Work Truck Show 2014, offers an opportunity to gather information about innovative clean vehicle technologies, alternative fuel trends and upcoming products. Produced by the NTEA and presented by International Truck, the 2014 Green Truck Summit will focus on the rising use of natural gas to power vocational trucks.
Technical experts, government officials, business leaders, and early adopter fleet managers will present educational sessions at the Green Truck Summit, including five general and 24 breakout sessions on a variety of topics, including:
• Advanced technology trends
• Ways to reduce fuel consumption
• Technology selection and deployment strategies
• Funding opportunities and incentives
• Critical advances in engine and fuel technology
• Implementation challenges
• Determining return on investment
• OEM strategies for incorporating advanced technologies into future product offerings
A forum for green vehicle ride and drive demonstrations of the latest advancements in alternative technology vehicles, urban planning, energy efficiency and climate education, the new Northern California AltCar Expo will include an Industry/Fleet Day. The expo will include electric, hybrid electric, natural gas and hydrogen vehicles, and feature a number of debuts.
The Northern California AltCar Expo event will also be the site of presentations by experts in clean driving technology, and will provide an opportunity to learn more about a newly announced plan backed by governors of eight states to put 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles on the road within a dozen years. The plan calls for the creation of financial incentive programs, development of a common standard for roadway signs and charging networks, and the possibility of establishing favorable electricity rates for home charging.
Northeast Regional HTUF Fleet Workshop and Ride and Drive
In partnership with the City of New York, the Northeast Regional HTUF Fleet Workshop and Ride and Drive will provide a full day of activities focused on advancing alternative fuel vehicles in the Northeast through best business practices. Fleets throughout the region are invited to participate in an engaging discussion focused on region-specific business needs, appropriate technology solutions by fleet vocation and incentives available in New York to help drive the alternative fuel vehicle market. Following the morning panel discussions, fleets and regional stakeholders will have the opportunity to get behind the wheel of an alternative fuel vehicle and experience the efficiencies and benefits of cleaner, more sustainable vehicle solutions.
Alternative Clean Transportation Expo 2014
Long Beach, Calif.
The ACT Expo brings together more than 3,000 fleet, technology company, OEM, fuel provider, infrastructure developer and policymaker attendees. All weight classes and alternative fuel types are represented at the event, including electric, hybrid, hydrogen, natural gas, propane autogas and renewable fuels. Participants can explore the event’s expo hall and test-drive dozens of advanced technology vehicles, see alternative fuel vehicle projects at off-site tours, attend fleet-focused educational sessions, and network with vehicle, fueling and technology suppliers.
Electric Drive Transportation Association Conference & Annual Meeting
The EDTA promotes battery, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and fuel cell electric drive technologies and infrastructure. The EDTA also conducts public policy advocacy, education, industry networking and conferences. Its membership includes vehicle and equipment manufacturers, energy companies, technology developers, component suppliers, government agencies and others.