U.S. Army Goes All Chevy Volt With New Hybrid EV

by Tina Casey

Army looks to replace Humvee with hybrid EV (courtesy of US Army)

The US Army is working on a more fuel efficient, lightweight and protective multi-purpose vehicle to replace its notoriously outdated Humvee, and we’re shocked — shocked! — to learn that the new prototype features an all-electric drive. The new vehicle, called ULV (Ultra-Light Vehicle) primarily uses diesel fuel to power its electric motors but it can also go a few miles exclusively on its battery pack. Wow, Rush Limbaugh is going to have a field day with this one given his long record of slamming of electric vehicles, particularly GM’s Chevy Volt gas-electric hybrid.

Like the ULV, The Volt can run exclusively off its battery pack as well as its gasoline tank. So, let’s see what Rush has to say about the Army’s newfound friendship with electric drive vehicles.

[Cricket Chirps]

Although Rush is still ranking on electric vehicles at every opportunity, as far as we know he has had nothing to say about the ULV (yet), so let’s fill a little space for him.

In a broadcast last year, transcribed on his website under the headline “Electric Vehicles and the Wussification of America,” Rush had this to say about EVs:

It turns out the internal combustion engine means more to freedom, liberty, economic advancement than any electric car ever will! The electric car is the product of cowards.

Wow, way to support our troops, Rush. The Department of Defense is up to its elbows in cutting edge EV projects, and the ULV is just one example. EV-to-grid systems are another, including a new $20 million EV-to-grid demonstration project involving 500 fleet vehicles.

Another example is Los Angeles Air Force Base, which has set a goal of transitioning 100 percent of its non-tactical fleet to EVs (LA AFB is also an early solar power adopter, btw). The Navy has also established a pilot project for EV readiness at its facilities that includes solar powered EV charging stations as well as new EV charging stations at on-base convenience stores.

Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) are also coming into the picture. Just take a look at the new fuel cell collaboration announced by GM and Honda, factor in GM’s partnership with the US Army on an FCEV fleet in Hawaii, and you can see the potential for widespread adoption of FCEV technology by the Department of Defense.

To sum up, the Department of Defense has been vigorously pushing for the US military to transition out of fossil fuel dependency as a matter of national security and troop safety, and EVs are already a major factor in that transition.

The Ultra-Light Vehicle And EV Technology

The Defense Department has been introducing portable solar power into combat zones, so it’s not that much of a stretch to project into the foreseeable future, when other cutting edge energy technology, including plug-in EVs and FCEVs, find their way into active zones as well as stationary bases.

Two factors are driving the Department of Defense inexorably toward renewable energy and EVs. One is the increasing load of electronic gear borne by both ground troops and vehicles, creating new demands for more flexible, efficient, lightweight, portable and scavenge-able forms of fuel as well as more effective energy storage systems.

Another factor is the piecemeal, localized nature of combat in arenas such as Afghanistan and Iraq, where remote bases and rough terrain demand the use of more up-to-date energy supply logistics than the creaking, hazardous, centuries-old fuel convoy (to say nothing of the air drop, but that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms).

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the ULV prototype. The project comes under TARDEC, the Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, in partnership with the military armor solutions company Hardwire (also known as the maker of bulletproof whiteboards, but whatever).

In a curious bit of timing, TARDEC announced the completion of three new ULV prototypes last week, while in the middle of redesigning the website for the project, so aside from TARDEC’s press release there’s not much available online as of this writing. However, you can still find a great rundown of the ULV in TARDEC’s Accelerate publication (see page 28 at the TARDEC zmags link), and there is also a cache of the old material here.

Billed as the “world’s toughest hybrid,” the ULV is designed to provide improved protection for occupants as well as fuel efficiency, which TARDEC describes as “mission critical.”

The electric drive factors into the protection goal by eliminating a lot of extra hardware, especially underneath the vehicle, which enable blast mitigation technologies to deploy with minimal interference.

As for the drive itself, there are two electric drive motors, one in front and one behind, each of which can independently power the vehicle. Each motor is coupled directly to a differential, driving planetary geared hubs. Here’ s the goodies from the cache:

The planetary geared hubs keep weight to a minimum by reducing the half-shaft torque requirement, keeping each traction motor centrally located between each wheel set, and providing high drive efficiency. The engine/generator “gen-set” mounted in the front provides the continuous power, while the battery mounted in the rear provides power surge and energy storage capability. The combination offers power redundancy, as only one energy source is required for motion, and the battery is capable of moving the vehicle on electric power alone (capable of 10+ mile range on battery alone).

The next step will be to shake the three prototypes down. One is going to undergo rigorous testing at TARDEC’s brand new Ground Systems Power and Energy Laboratory, which was designed with a focus on electric vehicles, alternative energy and energy storage technologies.

Stay tuned.

You too, Rush.

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This article, US Army Goes All Chevy Volt With New Hybrid EV, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

 

US Navy Triples Funding For Clean Energy In Hawaii

by Tina Casey — Special to JBS News

The US Navy has just pumped $30 million into the Energy Excelerator, a funding agency for renewable energy start-ups in Hawaii. That triples the agency’s operating funding over the past three years, and it gives the ol’ Bronx cheer to certain legislators in Congress who have tried to cut funding for the Navy’s ambitious alternative fuel initiatives. Even at the relatively modest initial funding level, the program has already raised follow-on investments from the private sector totaling more than $38 million.

The Energy Excelerator, which also receives funding from the Department of Energy and other partners, has 17 success stories under its belt, and with this new round of funding the ripple effect could be huge. In addition to potential application elsewhere in the US, companies that get under way with help from the Energy Excelerator have the whole Asia Pacific island nation market at their feet.

Hawaii, The US Navy And Clean Energy

Hawaii has a twofold, urgent motive for weaning itself from fossil fuel dependency: extremely high prices (quadruple the national average) and long supply lines. Both are intertwined with the state’s importance to the US Navy, most famously in the form of Pearl Harbor, which also explains why the Department of Defense has been adopting renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in Hawaii hand over fist.

US Navy invests $30 more in Hawaii clean energy startups.
USS Carl Vinson (cropped) courtesy of US Navy.

Aside from major solar installations, which have become ubiquitous at DoD facilities throughout the US, the DoD’s energy and conservation projects in Hawaii include a first-of-its-kind military collaboration between the Army and GM on a fuel cell vehicle fleet (which is part of a larger fuel cell infrastructure project), a full scale rainwater harvesting system at an Army barracks, an experimental renewable energy microgrid system, and a grid-connected wave power system that also serves as a shared test bed for private sector wave power development.

The Hawaii Energy Excelerator Portfolio

At just a fraction of its new funding level, the Excelerator has already established a solid track record. The 17 companies in its portfolio have garnered $18 million in revenue over the past three years.

The projects represent a wide range of renewable energy, alternative transportation and energy efficiency systems.

Some of the standouts include Conscious Commuter Corporation’s e-bike sharing system and Sopogy Inc.’s micro-concentrating solar collectors, a renewable natural gas project from Hawaii Gas, desalination systems powered by renewable energy from a company aptly named Renewable Water Technologies, and Hnu Energy’s “smart” storage solutions for smoothing out spikes in solar availability.

Of particular note is at least one algae biofuel project by the company Kuehnle Agrosystems, which interestingly enough doubles as a water and air pollution remediation system for a local Chevron refinery.

The company was recently recognized by the US EPA for its innovative algae biofuel and industrial carbon capture system, but we’re more interested in the idea that the Kuehnle investment represents yet another end-run by the Navy around partisan opposition to its biofuel initiatives, particularly algae biofuel.

Though key federal legislators including Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) have repeatedly attempted to torpedo the Navy’s biofuel initiatives, so far the Obama Administration has managed to deploy its executive authority to keep the programs humming along.

That includes biofuel research partnerships between the Navy, Agriculture and Energy as well as ample funding for private sector biofuel projects.

Follow me on Twitter and Google+.

This article, US Navy Triples Funding For Clean Energy In Hawaii, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Tina Casey Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt Both Break Their US Monthly Sales Records

by Zachary Shahan — Special to JBS News

The month of August was a good one for plug-in electric car companies. Two of the three leading electric cars (in terms of sales) broke their US monthly sales records last month (we don’t have monthly sales numbers for the other one).

The Nissan Leaf’s new all-time best is 2,420, while the Chevy Volt’s new all-time best is 3,351.

nissan-leaf-sales

The August sales results also now put the Chevy Volt (14,994) ahead of the Nissan Leaf (14,123) in cumulative 2013 sales. The two cars have been trading places at the top for the past few months or so. It feels like the last stretch of an important race in a Hollywood movie, IMHO.

2013 Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt sales are leagues above their 2012 sales. As regular readers know, the US Leaf tantalized the market with a $6,400 price cut in January (thanks to the start of production within the US, which cut costs tremendously), while the Chevy Volt finally did the same last month with a $5,000 price cut (which may not have been as warranted as the Leaf’s).

volt-production

I’ll have a full August 2013 electric and hybrid car sales update here soon. Hold on tight, it might be an interesting one. Overall, though, as I think you’d guess, it looks like August was a record month for plug-in electric cars.

This article, Nissan Leaf & Chevy Volt Both Break Their US Monthly Sales Records, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

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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Communist Price — or Western Value?

by John Brian Shannon

Hey, stop, what’s that sound? Take a look around. Is everyone driving the cheapest car or carrying the cheapest handbags?

Hell no!

And why is that, exactly? Why isn’t everyone driving the latest Chery car — which is an extremely affordable car built in communist China? Or, why isn’t everyone buying the blue communist party uniforms made from a long-wearing material that will stand up to the elements for decades? Why are people all over the world buying expensive cars, handbags, jewellery and electronics, just for a few examples?

The reason is; There are effectively, only two kinds of markets in the world. Upmarket and downmarket and there are legitimate reasons for the existence of both markets.

On the one hand, you have upmarket goods and services, which have traditionally been the preserve of the rich Western nations along with an entire middle class in the West able to well-afford those upmarket goods and services. How convenient!

Could it have been planned this way? Why yes, it was. It has been the economic miracle of recorded history.

On the other hand, downmarket goods and services which have traditionally been manufactured and sold in the developing world — are priced according to local market conditions there. Very convenient for the developing world.

Since the industrial revolution, this is how the marketplace has worked. Upmarket goods were manufactured and sold in wealthy Western countries and downmarket goods were manufactured and sold in poorer countries.

Until now.

Suddenly, many upmarket goods are being manufactured in developing nations and a small but growing percentage are being purchased in developing nations.

The West used to own this part of the market, but for the first time since the Industrial Revolution, the East is increasing it’s ownership of this formerly Western-only marketplace. At the same time, the downmarket goods and services haven’t gone anywhere and are still being manufactured by and sold in the developing nations.

Translating into ‘a loss for the West’ if you see things through the Western prism. If you see things through the Eastern prism, you might call it, ‘Advantage East’ or something like that. I call it something else, but more later.

Let me speak clearly on the situation the West now finds itself in; When you haven’t manufactured downmarket products in the first place, but then relatively suddenly, you lose fully half of your upmarket manufacturing to the developing world — that can only be called a paradigm shift in the marketplace.

Some Western politicians, corporations and junior economists have looked at this and in a panic, have announced that we must lower our costs — to match our competitors costs in the developing world! And, either by lack of action, or by actively supporting this line of thought, they have allowed this trend to continue in the Western nations and over time the problem has become much worse. Unwitting traitors, all.

Wages, benefits, unions, workers, unemployment, health care, retirement age, the housing market, traditional Western upmarket manufacturers — all these have felt the winds of change blowing in from the developing nations. It’s a race to the bottom.

“We must compete with China, we must match their labour rates, lower our social entitlements, we must lessen our national infrastructure spending — otherwise we will be beaten in the international marketplace by countries which already have those lower costs built right into their economy” — or so the thinking goes.

Which is wrong.

Rather than call this new paradigm, ‘Advantage East’ or ‘Loss to the West’ — I call it what it really is, ‘Opportunity Knocks‘ for that is what it is. The shift in the world economy is not a time to recoil in horror and then race to the bottom to try to match our competitors costs.

It is a time to do what we do best. It is a time to do what we do better than any other nation or bloc of nations. It is time to remember what has made us great since the beginning of the industrial revolution — and profoundly, do more of it.

If the great wisdom says that we must win, or at least compete in the great race to the bottom by lowering our labour and other costs and manufacture products of lesser quality, why aren’t we all driving Chery cars and buying no-name handbags?

Why are car companies like GM, Ford, Mercedes, BMW, Land Rover, Toyota, Lexus, Infiniti and the like, selling at near-record volumes and recording great profits? Why are Chanel, Louis Vuitton, lululemon and many others selling their wares at good volumes and profits?

Value vs. price.

In the race to the bottom, the only thing that matters is price. Price of labour, materials, production line, merchandising and profit. Price, price price, comrades!

If price was all that mattered, wouldn’t we all be driving cars built by China’s Chery Motors, or India’s Tata Motors? But, we’re not. And that is not to knock those cars — as I said above, there is a legitimate market for BMW’s, just as there is a legitimate market for economically-priced cars.

If price was all that mattered, we would all wear the blue communist party uniforms, which cost the equivalent of $2.00 U.S. dollars. But, we don’t. Many of us in the West think nothing of walking out of the mall with a $60.00 pair of jeans, or a $100.00 pair of dress shoes. Why? The ‘price-only mindset’ says it is illogical to spend money on clothes.

But we do, because we know the value, of, well, value. If you are fortunate enough to own a Toyota or a Mercedes, you know that you enjoy the ownership experience of a quality vehicle, that you will be well-protected in case of a crash, it will last a long time (assuming you do the proper maintenance) and you can in good conscience, gift it to one of your kids after they graduate and know that they will have a safe, reliable car to drive to college and it will still be in great condition many years later.

Why do many women buy a Louis Vuitton handbag? Why not a purchase based on price alone? Well, I can’t answer that question for you. But, I notice those bags continue to be very popular and it is the rare woman in this part of the world that doesn’t have at least one. It is completely illogical from the ‘price-only’ perspective.

Which is my entire point. The price of something is just the price. Anybody with any disposable income will always opt for a better-quality ownership experience and will pay more for a better quality product  and sometimes, much more!

Which proves it’s not about price. It’s about value for money. So, let’s stop trying to compete on price.

Our economists must convince government policymakers of that fact. We need to stop trying to out-compete the communist system and their communist-priced products. It is a battle we will lose every time, for they have already won that battle. The  downmarket was always theirs. It is a state-subsidized market. We can’t compete in that low-profit world, unless we merge our corporations with our government to create our own communist state. Not many takers on that idea, I’ll bet. Goodbye Louis Vuitton — goodbye Mercedes!

We need to compete on what we do best. And why not? The statists compete on what they do best.

Here in the West, we build quality. It costs a little more. Our products have something intangible, something that will convince people to pay more — and that intangible is called value. This is what we do best, so let us return to compete on what we do best. We not only build products — we build value.

Let’s not race to the bottom trying to beat state-subsidized companies. We can’t win there. Rather, let’s create products with value, not only for Western consumers — but for a huge, new and growing middle class with real disposable incomes — the (conceivably) five billion (non-Western) consumers in the developing world, many of whom are approaching middle class status in their respective countries.

And, lets keep the manufacturing of our value products here, to provide jobs to Western citizens — so that the West can continue to have a middle class too!

.

John Brian Shannon writes about green energy, sustainable development and economics from British Columbia, Canada. His articles appear in the Arabian Gazette, EcoPoint Asia, EnergyBoom, the Huffington Post, the United Nations Development Programme – and other quality publications.

John believes it is important to assist all levels of government and the business community to find sustainable ways forward for industry and consumers.

Check out his personal blog at: http://johnbrianshannon.com
Check out his economics blog at:
https://jbsnews.wordpress.com
Follow John on Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/#!/JBSCanada