The Seven Greenest Vehicles on Earth

The Seven Greenest Vehicles on Earth | 12/08/13
Originally published on Shrink That Footprint

According to Wikipedia, a ‘vehicle’ is a:

mobile machine that transports passengers or cargo. Most often vehicles are manufactured, such as bicycles, cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, trains, ships, boats and aircraft.

But somehow, a ‘green vehicle’ is a:

road motor vehicle that produces less harmful impacts to the environment than comparable conventional internal combustion engine vehicles running on gasoline or diesel.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Wikipedia, but I do find it a little ironic that ‘green vehicles’ are pigeonholed as cars. Because on a full lifecycle emissions basis, cars really aren’t that green compared to other options.

greenest vehicles on earth
The World’s 7 Greenest Vehicles. Image by Shrink That Footprint.

 

Here’s my take on the world’s seven greenest vehicles.

7: The Nissan Leaf

I thought I’d be charitable and include a car. After all, a huge chunk of global passenger kilometers are from automobiles, so better cars are hugely important for the future. I’ve plumped for the Nissan Leaf as it is the leading all-electric car in Japan, the US, UK, Norway…. Using low-carbon electricity, electric car emissions are down around 50 g CO2e/pkm (passenger kilometre), almost all of which comes from vehicle manufacturing.

The nissan leaf
The Nissan Leaf Electric Vehicle. Image by Shrink That Footprint.

6: The Intercity Coach

It may surprise you, but the typical Stagecoach or Greyhound diesel bus can often have lower emissions per passenger kilometer than the best electric car. That’s because intercity buses travel at efficient speeds on highways, have decent occupancy, and have tiny manufacturing emissions, as they are spread over so many passengers. I’ve seen a bunch of studies ranging from 35-85 g CO2e/pkm.

The Intercity Coach
The Intercity Coach. Image by Shrink That Footprint.

5: The School Bus

This one is probably even more surprising, but school buses typically have quite low emissions. Not because they are über efficient, or because they do smooth highway miles, but simply because they have such high occupancy. Emissions per passenger kilometer are typically in the 20-50 g CO2e/pkm range.

The School Bus
The School Bus. Image by Shrink That Footprint.

4: High Speed Rail

High-speed rail can be very low carbon, particularly with the right juice. We’ve taken the Eurostar and TGV from London down to the Pyrenees a couple of times with emissions about a tenth of what a flight would have been. The largely nuclear electricity in France means emissions of 17 g CO2e/pkm on their high-speed network. Typically, emissions are from 10-60 g CO2e/pkm depending on fuel source.

High Speed Rail
High Speed Rail. Image by Shrink That Footprint.

3: Light Urban Rail

Any form of electric train can provide very low carbon miles if it has the right juice. Busy trams, metro, or light-rail systems can also have low emissions. The example below is from Bergen in Norway, where hydro power is dominant. Lifecycle emissions can range from 10-50 g CO2e/pkm depending on fuel source, efficiency, and occupancy.

Light urban rail
Light Urban Rail. Image by Shrink That Footprint.

2: The Electric Bike

Guess how many electric bikes there are in China today? 200 million!! That number floored me when I first saw it. Almost 30 million e-bikes will be sold in China this year alone. That is about half the number of passenger cars globally. In coal-reliant China, an electric bike has average lifecycle emissions of 22 g CO2e/pkm. Depending on fuel mix, they are typically in the range of 5-30 g CO2e/pkm.

Electric bike
The Electric Bike. Image by Shrink That Footprint.

1: The Flying Pigeon Bicycle

The ‘Flying Pigeon‘ is the most popular [green] vehicle of all time. More than 500 million have been produced since 1950. Based on the 1932 Raleigh Roadster, the popular model came in black, with one speed, 28 in (710 mm) wheels, a fully covered chain, sprung leather saddle, rear rack, and rod brakes. This is an old-school classic. In China, where the diet is relatively low carbon and electricity carbon intensive, this bike edges the eBike at around 10 g CO2e/pkm.

The flying pigeon
The Flying Pigeon Bicycle. Image by Shrink That Footprint.

What is missing from the list?

This isn’t the most scientific of lists, and I get the feeling I must be missing some options? You can get a better grip of the data in our 5 Elements of Sustainable Transport post. The one thing that really surprised me in this post is the rise of electric bikes. It is about 90% a China story currently, but the rate of growth in Brazil, Europe, India, and even the US is really impressive.

This article, 7 Greenest Vehicles On Earth, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Shrink That FootprintShrink That Footprint Shrink That Footprint is a resource for squeezing more life out of less carbon. We are an independent research group that provides information to people interested in reducing their climate impact. Our core focus is understanding, calculating, and reducing personal carbon footprints.

Wireless Electric Buses Developed In Utah

Wireless Electric Buses Developed In Utah | 22/10/13
Originally published on Gas2 by Chris DeMorro

It’s easy to understand why some people hate public transportation. Most city buses use large diesel engines that are are loud and smelly, but pure-electric buses are too expensive for most cash-strapped cities to afford.

Utah-based electric bus company WAVE might have a solution for electric buses, using a clever wireless-charging system that drastically reduces battery size and cost.

WAVE wireless electric buses serve the University of Utah. Image courtesy of WAVE.
WAVE wireless electric buses serve the University of Utah. Image courtesy of WAVE.

Developed in conjunction with the University of Utah and commercialized first in Park City, Utah, WAVE got its start powering buses around the university campus. The technology uses inductive charging to wirelessly transfer energy between the charger and the bus. This is nothing exactly groundbreaking here, with other projects in places like South Korea displaying similar ideas.

The difference is that wave uses very small, limited-range batteries with wireless chargers are regular intervals. This cuts down on battery size, which cuts down on cost, and also reduces charging times as well. The batteries are big enough to last a full 16-hour workday with just a few stops over charging pads. Keep in mind that even though buses are big, electric motors provide full-torque at 0 RPM, and most buses never see speeds higher than 40 mph.

As it stands, WAVE currently has test fleets in several U.S. cities, and is working on the installation of a ten-bus system in Long Beach, California. WAVE is looking to expand offerings in another 10 to 20 U.S. cities in the next year, and it could do that thanks to the most-appealing aspect of the system; the ability to retrofit old city buses. With a gallon-equivalent of electricity selling for 65-cents, compared to almost $4 a gallon for diesel, cities that convert their buses to electric systems could save millions of dollars per year with ease.

Could WAVE’s business model be the breakthrough electric buses have been waiting for?

Source: VentureBeat

This article, Wireless Electric Buses Developed In Utah, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Important Media Cross-Post — CleanTechnica is one of 18 blogs in the Important Media blog network. With a bit of overlap in coverage, we sometimes repost some of the great content published by our sister sites.

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Most Drivers Expect All Vehicles To Be At Least Partly Electrified In 20 Years

Most Drivers Expect All Vehicles To Be At Least Partly Electrified In 20 Years | 21/10/13
Originally published on Gas2 by Christopher DeMorro

Anytime someone does a study regarding the future, it’s always worth taking American opinions with a grain of salt.

Still, there seems to be a definite, positive shift towards hybrid and electric cars, and while green cars still represent a small slice of total sales, it’s not hard to imagine a future where all new cars are either hybrids or EVS.

Amazingly, more than half of Americans agree with this scenario.

Cars of the future are expected to be EV's or Hybrids
Most people believe that all cars will be either pure EV or Hybrid by 2033.

Or at the very least, 56% of the 998 people Hankook tires interviewed for their annual Fall Gauge Index study, which asks people to answer a series of questions regarding the auto industry. While Hankook also slipped in something about their innovative airless tires, the fact that more than half of Americans see a future where hybrid or electric cars dominate the market is quite telling.

It means we see a future where gas prices keep climbing, and electric car prices keep falling. It seems as though the push towards natural gas may all be for naughty as EVs and hybrids continue to dominate sales charts. While I for one don’t see combustion engine-only cars completely disappearing, they will become premium, highly taxed products that require heavy taxes to operate.

Americans also have high hopes for car-to-car communications and autonomous vehicles, and 75% of respondents believe airless tires will be equipped on new cars by 2033. What are your hopes and expectations for the future of the automobile?

Source: Hankook

This article, Most Drivers Expect All Vehicles To Be At Least Partly Electrified In 20 Years, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Important Media Cross-Post — CleanTechnica is one of 18 blogs in the Important Media blog network. With a bit of overlap in coverage, we sometimes repost some of the great content published by our sister sites.

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The Elephant in the Room

The Elephant in the Room | 10/03/13
by John Brian Shannon John Brian Shannon

For seven decades, petroleum provided North Americans with a comparatively cheap, plentiful, and reliable source of energy. And it happened to be a kind of energy that was particularly suited to our growing transportation needs.

Transportation CO2 emissions.
knowledge.allianz.com Image courtesy of: Bettina Fachinger

Back in Henry Ford’s day, all of the government subsidies directed towards the exploitation of oil and gas were easily absorbed by a large and upwardly mobile population, and the few gigatons of transportation CO2 and other gases that were added to the atmosphere then, were easily absorbed by the Earth’s natural systems.

In Henry’s day, agriculture was by far the biggest polluter, followed by industry, construction, and electricity production, transportation was far down the list.

Today of course, transportation is directly responsible for one-third of all airborne emissions, and added to that, are the emissions created in the manufacture of the parts necessary to build those millions of cars, trucks, trains, ships and airplanes. In 2013, it adds up to be a very large number indeed. The U.S. alone produces 7 billion tons of CO2 per year.

In an era of unaffordable U.S. budget deficits, direct subsidies to the petroleum industry are in excess of $4.86 billion dollars per year (on average) and when added to the various indirect government subsidies, have become dangerous to the overall economy.

For just one example of other subsidies supporting North America’s addiction to oil; Whose Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines have protected all that Middle East oil since 1932, and what is the grand total cost of that protection? Meanwhile, the environment subsidy in the U.S. is one that is far past the point of being able to absorb the total amount CO2 added to the atmosphere by the U.S.

U.S. Energy Subsidies Chart by DBL Investors.
U.S. Energy Subsidies Chart by DBL Investors.

Someone has to say it. The oil and gas industry, which once lifted the North American economy to unimaginable heights, has now become an unbearable burden to the economy and the environment, and the situation continues to worsen every year. Petroleum, is the 7 gigaton elephant in the room.

At least we only have one elephant in our room. By 2040, China will have four.

China is racing toward developed nation status. China produced 7.2 billion tons of CO2 in 2010, making it the world’s single biggest polluter. It estimated in 2008 that 410,000 people die from air pollution in China every year. It’s land area is similar in size to the U.S. although the U.S. has 311 million citizens (most households own at least one car) while China has 1.35 billion citizens, (where a majority of households will soon become car owners for the first time).

Huge tracts of forested land and grassland in both countries could conceivably capture and make use of, all the CO2 we produce, storing it for decades or even permanently — but only when forested areas and grasslands are not replaced with shopping malls and factories. Which is what has been happening at an accelerating pace since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

India, with less than half of the land area of China, but with a rapidly growing demographic, will be in even worse shape than the U.S. or China. By 2022, India will have 2 billion citizens, but with only half the available land area to absorb all that CO2. In addition, vast areas of land in India are unsuitable for the plant life which removes CO2 from the atmosphere.

At present only 1 billion people in the world have one car or more per household, have home electronics and washing machines, and are connected to an electrical grid (developed nation status). Six billion don’t. But six billion people are expected in the developed nations club by 2050.

For now, the undeveloped and emerging nations are carbon-neutral or better — while one billion live in developed nations which are (huge) net contributors to global pollution levels.

Oil and gas has lifted one billion people into developed nation status, and for that we should be grateful. But, with six billion more people joining the club, we won’t have breathable air in some cities unless we change our transportation fuel — and soon.

All else being equal, if we lower our airborne emissions by one-third by switching from petroleum to electricity for our transportation needs, we will be in acceptable shape. What damage has been done, has already been done — no use in crying over spilt milk. And even if we do successfully switch to electric vehicles, the plant life on the planet will still be working overtime to capture and sequester all CO2 produced by the agriculture and manufacturing sectors as they will continue to add unimaginable amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere.

The important point is to stop adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than the Earth systems can handle. A simple but profound switch away from oil and gas to electricity in our transportation sector can accomplish this goal.

Electric vehicles are presently making huge strides and in September 2013, the all-electric Tesla S was the best selling car in Norway. And really, why not? The Tesla S is a great drivers car, it features almost zero maintenance and it runs on electricity which is provided by a network of (renewable energy powered and conveniently located) Supercharger stations placed all over the country which are free to use for the life of the car. Not to mention the always-available Tesla buyback scheme, where Tesla will repurchase your used Tesla for a previously agreed-upon price.

Free electricity for Tesla cars, no airborne emissions from Tesla cars, and a guaranteed Tesla buyback program. This is the future of transportation!

BMW To Electrify Its Entire Lineup

BMW To Electrify Its Entire Lineup | 10/02/13
by Zachary Shahan

There have been some chuckles about the BMW i3, but it seems clear that BMW is actually quite serious about the assertions that electric vehicles are the future, and that it is enthusiastically jumping into that future.

BMW has actually now stated that it intends to make plug-in hybrid electric versions of every single car it builds.

BMW X5 eDrive SUV
BMW X5 eDrive SUV

The first two are of course the BMW i3 and BMW i8. Next will be the BMW X5 eDrive SUV.

What held BMW up until now? Battery pack issues, according to BMW’s head of production line for large vehicles, Peter Wolf. But, with those apparently out of the way, they ”are planning to have a plug-in hybrid [vehicle] in each and every model series.”

Better torque, better fuel economy, fewer problems and less maintenance… there are a lot of reasons to shift to electric.

This article, BMW To Electrify Its Entire Lineup, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Zachary Shahan is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he’s the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he’s the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.

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