Posted on June 11th, 2008 1 comment
It’s good to see Wayne in the news again. He’s becoming quite a celebrity. And before you think that’s snarky in the least it isn’t. It’s simply the acknowledgment that there are better performance metrics than raw horsepower. Wayne is helping to popularize a new way of judging cars and that is a very good thing indeed.
Hypermiling tricks squeeze every drop from gas tank
Wayne Gerdes pushes his car to the limit to stretch money at pump
Hypermiling is his game, and 59 miles per gallon is his fame.
“It’s a good feeling,” says Wayne Gerdes, the guy who coined the term hypermiling – a growing trend that has drivers wringing more kilometres out of every tank of gas.
That means, says Gerdes, saving up to 30 per cent at the pump, as well as reduced carbon emissions. The movement has been bubbling up over the past few years, but in recent weeks, the formerly fringe-y driving techniques are steering record numbers to his website, cleanmpg.com, thanks to soaring gas prices.
Gerdes, who lives in Wadsworth, Ill., scored his 59 mpg high score – in metric, that’s about 3.9 litres per 100 kilometres – on a full tank of gas while driving his Honda Accord back and forth to work. On that tank alone, he drove 1,778 km. It’s quite a feat, considering his 2005 Accord is not a hybrid vehicle but a PZEV, a low-emissions model available only in the U.S. – and is rated at 24.5 mpg (9.6L/100km) by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Gerdes’ site is dedicated to reducing fuel consumption. He teaches how-to clinics across the U.S., and is a recognized expert on getting great fuel efficiency from your car.
Q: When did you begin hypermiling?
A: I started doing it the day after the towers went down in New York City.
A: Because we’re addicted to oil as a society. And we’re still getting it from the Middle East, because it’s a fluid market … We’re paying our enemies to kill us. That’s what got me started.
Q: Are there other reasons?
A: Smog, greenhouse gases, currency translation, the trade deficit, or just to put money in your pocket at the end of the week. Those are all good reasons to do it. It doesn’t matter what your motivation is. You can’t just drive like you used to.
Q: Who are hypermilers?
A: Anybody can do it. It’s huge right now because of gas prices. But the best hypermilers are those who don’t turn the key at all. They walk, bike, or take public transit. My son and I ride our bikes to church because it’s the right thing to do.
Q: Do you know your mileage on every trip?
A: Yep. That’s the difference between hypermiling and eco- driving, which is the term used in Europe. I think if you don’t know your numbers, you don’t know anything. I’ve got my vehicles instrumented so I know how efficient it is from minute to minute, in real time.
Q: Are you competitive about your numbers?
A: We’re all competitive. Anyone who pushes to these levels is competitive.
Q: Is hypermiling dangerous?
A: You’ll be a safer and more courteous driver if you learn to hypermile. You have to make sure you don’t get hit from behind if you’re going the speed limit and someone comes up from behind really fast. There are things you can do. You can use your flashers, for example. If someone is getting too close, wake them up with flashers. Or the really defensive thing to do if someone comes up behind you suddenly is floor it in the maintenance lane. We’re not out there to hurt anyone.
Q: What about drafting – following a large vehicle to reduce wind resistance?
A: Drafting is like NASCAR. Don’t do that on the road or you’ll be dead.
Posted on May 15th, 2008 No comments
Environment, Budget Focus Of Clean Air Car Showcase
By Shereen Oca
Filling up the gas tank can be a hassle, and with gas prices continuing to rise, the task has become a costly burden.
This Saturday, people will have the opportunity to learn about the different environmentally and budget-friendly options car manufacturers have to offer at the Fourth Annual Clean Air Car Showcase. Visitors can explore, examine and test-drive fuel-efficient cars that feature the newest technologies from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Citadel Broadcasting Company’s TalkRadio 790 KABC started this event four years ago anticipating the current trend of going green, said Roxane Requio, manger of integrated marketing and promotions.
“We hope to educate the public on clean air, especially in California with all the traffic,” Requio said.
Past events have taken place in Santa Monica and Orange. This year, KABC worked with the Downtown Long Beach Associates, to bring the expo to the Pike at Rainbow Harbor, 95 S. Pine Ave. About 2,500 people visited the showcase last year, and organizers say they expect this weekend’s turnout to be the same.
Hybrids, concept cars, Partial zero-emissions vehicles (PZEV) and one electric car will be on display, including the Chrysler GEM (electric), Dodge Chrysler Jeep Zio (concept), Ford Focus (PZEV), Nissan Altima Hybrid, Subaru Outback (PZEV) and Toyota Prius Hybrid.
Each manufacturer will lend two of its cars for a “Ride ‘N Drive,” which Requio said may end up being this year’s highlight.
“It’s not a salesperson trying to sell you the car,” she added. “It’s the engineer and product specialist. It’s more comfortable.”
Those who wish take one of the cars for a spin around a pre-set course, which includes stretches of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach racecourse, must be at least 18 years old with a valid drivers license.
Event emcee will be KABC’s “Motorman” Leon Kaplan. He will be broadcasting live from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Additionally, the Air Quality Management District and Air Resources Board will set up booths to discuss and answer questions about air pollution.
For more information, call 436-4259 or visit www.downtownlongbeach.org.
Posted on March 17th, 2008 No comments
Killing the electric car, again: Part I
Is CARB up to its old tricks?
Posted by Joseph Romm
The following post is by Earl Killian, guest blogger at Climate Progress.
If you’ve seen the movie Who Killed the Electric Car? (which is ranked No. 8 on Netflix in documentary rentals), then you know the EV story up to 2003. What you might not know is that it looks like one of the players in the movie, the California Air Resources Board, is up to no good again.
In killing Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) the first time, they put off progress on this front for a decade. Now they are preparing, at their March 27 meeting, to kill BEVs a second time and probably waste another decade. We don’t have another decade. In Part 2 you will find information on what you can do to let CARB know what you think.
This post provides background on the CARB’s sorry zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) legacy. For background on BEVs, PHEVs (plug-in hybrid EVs), and FCVs (fuel cell vehicles) see Joe’s January post on plug-in hybrids and electric cars. The major automakers are likely to produce plug-in hybrids on their own, but not ZEVs, and yet eventually we want ZEVs to be a part of the fleet to get the greenhouse gas reduction necessary in 2050.
Back in 1990, to help fix chronically unhealthy air in California cities, CARB required that 2 percent of California new vehicle sales have zero emissions by 1998. Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEVs) were then supposed to reach 3 percent by 2001, and 10 percent by 2003, and it was presumed that ZEV meant BEV. In 1996, under automaker pressure, CARB removed the 2 percent and 3 percent requirements but left the 10 percent goal in place. It also allowed low emission vehicles (misleadingly called Partial ZEVs or PZEVs) to substitute for some ZEVs.
In 2001 they tinkered again and added a new category, Advanced Technology (AT) PZEVs, which are essentially hybrids. They also changed the 10 percent goal to 2 percent ZEVs, 2 percent AT PZEVs, and 6 percent PZEVs. The program began to resemble a Rube Goldberg contraption at this point, with gold, silver, and bronze categories. The program’s complexity has continued to grow since.
In 2002, the automakers attacked with a lawsuit claiming the AT PZEV provisions were an attempt to regulate fuel economy, a right they claimed was reserved for the federal government. (The Bush administration filed an amicus brief supporting the automakers in the suit, presaging its later efforts to fight any attempts to address clean air and global warming.) A few months later, the automakers obtained an injunction preventing CARB from enforcing the 2001 program. By this point, the regulations had put 5,600 ZEVs on U.S. roads [PDF], 4,400 in California, but the injunction and later settlement effectively put an end to the automakers’ efforts.
As we now know, the federal courts ruled last year that California does have the the right to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions under EPA waivers, so the automakers’ lawsuit had no merit. (Interestingly, it was mighty Vermont that first vanquished the automakers in court, not California.) However, in 2003, Governor Davis and CARB were spineless and settled with the automakers, rather than stand up for California’s rights. Rather than simply remove the AT PZEV provision that had been used as the basis of the lawsuit, CARB essentially redesigned the entire program to the automakers’ specification.
What the automakers wanted was a hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle (FCV) research program. Like BEVs, FCVs have zero tailpipe emissions. They got their research program, and they didn’t have to deliver anything but prototypes until nine years later, in 2012. Under the agreement, in 2012 to 2014, they are supposed to put 8,333 FCVs a year (0.4 percent) onto the roads. From the original 1998 target of 2 percent ZEVs, they had pushed it out fourteen years and cut the numbers by a factor of five.
Even this was not enough for the automakers. As CARB’s fact sheet [PDF] explains of BEVs, “consumers quickly bought these highly functional vehicles and called for more.” Consumers sat on waiting lists hoping for automakers to produce more. However, the automakers’ next step was not to produce more vehicles, but to pry the BEVs they had leased from the hands of enthusiastic drivers as the leases expired (drivers were refused both the customary options of lease renewal or purchase).
As a result, fewer than 1,200 of these vehicles are on U.S. roads today. Some suggest that the automakers did not want the evidence of what was possible on the roads. Since the massacre, they have consistently taken the line that the technology for ZEVs is not ready, ignoring what they once put on the roads, and in some cases what remain on the roads (several RAV4-EV drivers now have over 100,000 miles on their BEVs, and they continue on).
Returning to 2008, the 2012 deadline now looms for ZEVs in the program created by CARB in conjunction with the automakers. Now the automakers are squealing that they cannot meet the fuel cell targets they used to kill BEVs back in 2003, and CARB staff is obligingly rolling over and proposing to weaken the regulations yet again. Now CARB staff proposes [PDF] that a mere 840 ZEVs a year — 0.04 percent of sales — will be sufficient for the major automakers. In all probability, start-ups such as Tesla will outsell the ZEV goal target for the majors. Worse, if history is a guide to the future, in 2012, CARB will roll over again and push out targets yet again. CARB is doing this despite the fact that major automakers are starting to back away from FCVs, and it is the infeasibility of FCVs that is being used as the excuse for delaying clean air.
Electric vehicles (both PHEVs and BEVs) are the best way to address greenhouse-gas emissions from passenger vehicles. BEVs allow us to fuel our driving with electricity made with no greenhouse-gas emissions, and that is where our electricity production must head in the coming decades. To kill BEVs in 2003 and put a fuel cell vehicle research program in place has already had horrible consequences for our atmosphere. It takes decades for new vehicle sales to change the vehicle fleet, and it takes decades for new vehicle technology to gain consumer acceptance (seven years after hybrids were introduced, they have now reached only 2 percent of vehicle sales). It is time to abandon the fuel cell research program and begin production of vehicles that have the potential to operate without emissions. Examples of new technology adoption rates and the resulting fleet old/new technology composition are shown in the graphs to the right. Only by starting now do we have a chance to reach our 2050 targets.
Posted on January 15th, 2008 No comments
Everything You Know about Green Cars is Wrong
Setting the Record Straight on Hybrids, Electric Vehicles and the Smart
By Jim Motavalli
The new two-seater Smart car is the greenest option. Wrong again! The rather more versatile Toyota Prius hybrid beats it by almost every measure, including versatility. The 2008 Smart fourtwo to be imported into the U.S. gets 33 mpg in the city and 41 on the highway.
The Prius achieves 48/45 mpg for 2008 and has a roomy back seat with quite a bit more storage space. The Prius, being an advanced technology Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (PZEV) trumps the Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) Smart there, too. Yes, I hear you, the Smart, starting at $11,590, definitely has the edge on price.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for clean cars. I just want to make sure we’re driving down the right road.
Posted on November 9th, 2007 No comments
Here’s the double standard that annoys me. Emissions controls are not supposed to pay for themselves. Hybrid cars weren’t engineered merely save money on gas. The idea of the hybrid is to intertwine two concepts, less fuel consumption and create less pollution. It’s always been my take that if you end up paying back some of your investment in fuel savings, great!
And the idea that your choices are having cleaner air and at least a slightly less dependent relationship with oil producing nations or you can have cheap cars isn’t even accurate. As more and more people adopt these standards and more manufacturers are building these vehicles the costs for them will be reduced. That’s basic economics.
So let’s stop playing the game of “how much will it cost?” We don’t do that with a lot of issues (some of which perhaps we should). It’s the wrong thing to focus on here.
Car Prices Likely To Rise With New Emissions Plan
Good Question: What Would Those Emissions Standards Cost You?
(CBS4) DENVER Gov. Bill Ritter’s new Colorado Climate Action Plan makes several big steps toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The one most likely to hit wallets is a call for a change to California style emissions standards within 12 to 24 months.
Ritter’s printed version of his message said Colorado “Will join those states,” referring to the 15 states that follow California in its tougher standards.
Some of the greenest cars out there are not even available in Colorado. Honda makes a gasoline engine vehicle designated as a “Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle,” or PZEV that isn’t sold here.
“They don’t send them to me,” said David Reed of Mile High Honda. “They send me the regular Accords. Five different trim levels but never the emission vehicle.”
While there are some hybrids that earn that designation, their cost is higher. That’s where the car buyer comes in.
“That would be a factor,” said one woman shopping for a new car about emissions standards.
But some lower emissions vehicles, like the PZEV Accord don’t get better gasoline mileage. It becomes a question of payback for the buyer who spends more money to go green.
California is locked in a battle with the federal government right now about its attempts to tighten emissions standards even more than they are now. Fifteen states, including Arizona and New Mexico are waiting to follow California’s lead after it gets a waiver from the feds to require more stringent standards than the EPA requires.
But the federal government has not replied to California’s request. It’s been so frustrating that California’s republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has threatened to sue to get a decision out of Washington.
The Colorado Automobile Dealers Association said if Colorado goes in California’s direction, cars will cost hundreds more by 2011, thousands more by 2016 when California hopes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in vehicles by 30 percent.
California estimates the increase in cost in a vehicle in 2012 will be $367.
Air quality experts in Colorado said California’s standards do reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but aren’t designed to the most to cut the ozone pollution problem on the Front Range.
“Cleaner cars can help provide a solution. There’s probably not going to be a single silver bullet out there to address the issue,” said Colorado Air Quality Control Administrator Doug Lempke.
The commission will be the ones studying a change and potentially making it. New, cleaner cars could be on the road by 2011.