electric cars

Clean Energy Cars Coming Your Way

With the new year upon us California, who is the State leading the way on clean air initiatives, is releasing new rebates and incentives for clean energy cars. These types of cars can range from hydrogen fuel cell's, hybrid's and plug-in electric cars. With the sticker price of a clean car on average being higher than a gas guzzler having some financial help can help you make a difference in your communities air quality as well as help your pocket book. 
Below we have included some helpful links to incentives and rebates that are currently available or that will become available in 2016. We hope to see more clean cars on the road in 2016! 
Clean Vehicle Rebate Project
The Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP) promotes clean vehicle adoption by offering rebates of up to $5,000 for the purchase or lease of new, eligible zero-emission vehicles, including electric, plug-in hybrid electric and fuel cell vehicles. As long as funds are available, eligible California residents can follow a simple process to apply for a CVRP rebate after purchasing or leasing an eligible vehicle.
Drive Clean
DriveClean.ca.gov is a web site of the California Air Resources Board developed as a resource for car buyers to find clean and efficient vehicles. The web site is designed to educate Californians that pollution levels range greatly between vehicles, and there are a variety of clean vehicle options available today that offer the same style, performance and luxury features as traditional gasoline vehicles. DriveClean.ca.gov provides information and resources to learn about clean advanced vehicle technologies and fuels, and offers a variety of useful search and comparison tools to help car buyers find the cleanest vehicle that suits their lifestyle.

REBATES! for Your New Alternative or Renewable Vehicle

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (SJVAPCD) offer a number of rebates, incentives and vouchers to promote the introduction of cleaner vehicles on California roads. So, if you’re looking to get a new (or used) car in the near future, seriously consider an alternative or renewable vehicle. It will save you your money and your lungs over the long term.

First thing’s first. What counts as an alternative or renewable vehicle? There are several technologies available and in development. Here are a few of our favorites:
Now for the incentive and rebates… the best part and probably the reason you’re reading this! 
Photo Source: Zero Motorcycles

CARB is sponsoring a CCSE- administered rebate program for zero-emission and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Whether you want to buy or lease one of these light-duty vehicles, you can get up to $2,500 through the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project. The website has an extensive list of eligible vehicles, links to apply for the rebates easily online, project statistics, and informative FAQs.

The Drive Clean! Rebate Program, administered by the SJVAPCD, offers up to $3,000 for new vehicles purchases and leases. Check the eligible vehicle list and apply for your well-deserved rebate using this fillable W9 form. If you need more information about all these vehicles, check out this DriveClean Buying Guide. You can access a quick vehicle compare and a Plug-In EV Resource Center or even calculate your savings by rebates and incentives.

The SJVAPCD also has a Vanpool Voucher program to promote carpools for SJV residents. So many people commute 20 miles or more for work by themselves in inefficient vehicles, and this rideshare program would alleviate congestion on the roads and vehicle emissions. The incentive is worth up to $360 a year and you can apply using this fillable form. The SJVAPCD has a number of other grants and incentive programs that target improving our air quality. Check them out here!

I want. If only! The new Tesla Model X.
If you manage a fleet that only operates in California, you could be eligible for this Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP). Vouchers are somewhat limited, but they are worth anywhere from $6,000 to $45,000 for each qualified new hybrid or electric truck or bus you buy. Eligible vehicles can be found here and the website has information for all dealers, fleets and vehicle makers. As long as your fleet operates only in California, it is eligible for this project, no matter the size or whether it is private or public.

There is a lot to take advantage of and I suggest you look into these if you’re considering a new vehicle! The technologies are only getting better and our air seems to only be getting worse, especially with this recent drought. So, do your part!

Electric vehicles are coming: Recharge with 5 choices

The MiEV is coming to town.

Translation: Mitsubishi Motors North America Inc. is offering up its Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle (amazing name, I know) for pre-order starting April 22, Earth Day.

This vehicle, like Nissan's Leaf, is all electric all the time. The only other full-on electric car commercially available is the Tesla Roadster, which will set you back about $100,000. Tesla's sleek Model S sedan, which also boasts a 300 mile charge life and claims zero to 60 in 5.6 seconds, costs about half that and comes out next year.

The $41,000 Chevy Volt is also on the streets. One was spotted by my co-worker Sandy Nax recently at a Kingsburg auto show. The Volt also features a gas engine for backup. Its all-electric range is 40 miles, not quite half the $32,780 Leaf's 100-mile advertised distance.

But according to Washington Examiner reporter David Freddoso, the news isn't all that electrifying for Chevy. Freddoso writes in his blog in March that sales of the Volt in February were a "very modest 281," down from 326 in December. Read some of the comments on the post, and it appears to be an issue more of supply than demand. One commenter says his Volt won't be delivered until late April or May.

After several delays, Fisker appears on track to begin delivering its Karma sedan in June or July, reports Products & Tech News. The blog says "Fisker’s Roger Ormisher also points out that the company did begin 'limited series production' at the end of March as planned, and he says the company is 'ramping up slowly to ensure absolute quality.'" The all-electric luxury car will cost about $100,000.

Comparatively, the entry-level 2012 Mitsubishi i will set buyers back a measly $27,990. Add in the federal tax credit and the price drops to $20,490, "a substantial savings ... when compared to its mass-produced production EV competition," the company says in a statement.

For a couple thousand more, buyers can get the SE package with "360-watt, eight speaker sound system, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, upgraded seating material with silver interior accents, unique two-tone interior and door panels, 15-inch alloy wheels and fog lamps." Another upgrade includes a quick-charge port for 80 percent recharge in 30 minutes and other fun stuff.

The MiEV will be on display at Earth Day San Francisco 2011 on April 23 in the Civic Center Plaza. For more information, go to http://www.earthdaysf.com/.

Mitsubishi didn't offer a driving range for the MiEV on its press release, but Michael Boxwell of thechargingpoint.com says the automaker claims a range of 92 miles. He said while testing the car, he was able to achieve a range of 92.7 miles in the city. "However, at higher speeds range does drop off considerably," Boxwell says. "On a trip down the motorway my range dropped to a little over 50 miles, while cross-country motoring gave me a range of 64.4 miles."

Blogger Phil T has been testing the limits of his newly purchased Nissan Leaf on Southern California roads and had this to say of its range: "I measured 86.5 miles of range on a day when I decided to try to run the car out of power to see what the range would be. I drove some of the miles gently and others aggressively, with no freeway miles. I know that the car is capable of more range, and I may try it again with a full 'tank' of careful driving."

I'll be following the exploits of Phil T, who just recently picked up his Leaf in Costa Mesa. I mentioned to him my fear of going all electric. (I have considered converting my black custom 1974 Super Beetle.) Phil says not to worry: "No point in being afraid, Mike. After all, 'faint heart never won fair maiden,' as they say."

In my defense, I will say I won the fair maiden 20 years ago.

Phil says it's just a matter of factoring in conditions and whether a driver's daily trips fit the range of an electric vehicle. "That and you'd need a plan for longer trips," he says.

So, if you've taken the plunge, I'd love to hear about your experiences.

Electric cars, Portugal and grandsons

As predicted, electric cars have debuted on streets across the globe.

I've been looking to make my first personal sighting of an electric car, but I've seen nothing so far by a major manufacturer despite a quick trip to see my latest grandkid in the eco-friendly Seattle/Puget Sound area.

The first delivery in the United States popped up earlier this month in California going to Olivier Chalouhi of Redwood City, reported John Voelcker, senior editor of greencarreports.com. It was a black 2011 Nissan Leaf SL from a dealership in Petaluma.

Now Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates has received one of 10 Leafs delivered to his government, the first, according to officials, in Europe. The Nissan electric procurement is meant to publicize Portugal's MOBI.E Program, which offers a charging network for the vehicles and is working with other automobile manufacturers to develop a system that will promote greater use of the cars.

Portugal's Prime Minister José Socrates is one of 10 recipients and will reportedly now travel exclusively by Electric Car for his official travels around Lisbon.

Socrates said he's proud of the distinction and called his fledgling charging network "a leading example to the world of how to roll out electric cars." He said in a statement that "Portugal is the first country in the world to have a nation-wide smart grid for electric vehicles."

Portugal gives the rest of us at least two things in the EV roll out to watch. The first is whether consumers will accept the Portuguese government's efforts to provide recharging stations. And the second is whether electric cars can overcome concerns and prejudices of multiple generations used to the freedom and security of internal combustion.

Portugal's not taking chances by sweetening the pot. Private customers buying one of the first 5,000 electric cars will be entitled to a 5,000-euro incentive and don't have to pay registration or a "single circulation" tax. Another 1,500 euro rebate is available to those who replace cars ready to croak.

Americans have incentives as well, but generally electric cars come with a premium. I noted in a past post how Honda was working to get its Insight hybrid priced for the masses to boost sales, pushing the base cost to about $18,200.

But electrics have a way to go with a cost of between $30,000 and $40,000. I went online over the holidays looking at the VW TDI Golf, which I priced well appointed for about $23,600. The diesel gets phenomenal mileage (reportedly 42 mpg highway) and is another option for the eco-minded.

So there's stiff competition. Maybe by the time I travel again to Bellingham, Wash. to see little Cyrus in six months, we'll see a Leaf or Volt or something else electric cruising the tree-studded streets.

I did see a glorified street legal golf cart-looking rig in Seattle's U District on Thursday. I wonder what the automotive landscape will look like when Cyrus turns 5?

Photo: Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates and his Leaf.

Top 15 Cities for Green Jobs

It shouldn't come as a surprise that Silicon Valley and the rest of the Bay area is the nation's No. 1 spot for clean- energy jobs. But did you know that Houston, where oil runs deep, and the Rust Belt region of the Midwest are making huge strides in green energy and alternative fuels?

A new report by Clean Edge Inc., a research firm devoted to clean energy, notes that green jobs are represented in dynamic industry sectors, such as electric vehicles, energy storage, advanced lighting, building materials and the energy grid.

Silicon Valley continues to lead in the U.S. as Cisco, Google, Intel and others get on the bandwagon. Los Angeles is second, with Boston, New York and Denver rounding out the top five.

Houston, which ranked 15th last year, is now eighth, courtesy of biofuels and wind energy. Plus, Houston's city government is the nation's top municipal buyer of green power. San Diego also has made strides from 11th to seventh, thanks to biofuels.

Worldwide, clean-energy jobs exceed 3 million, according to sources cited in the study, and that number is likely to grow as other countries ramp up their green presence. China, South Korea, Japan and other nations are the heavy hitters in clean jobs.

Those countries "are hiring thousands of factory workers to crank out solar panels, lithium-ion batteries, and a wide-range of wind turbine components. At the same time, traditional European clean-tech leaders like Germany and Denmark continue to expand...," the report said.

The United States, thanks to a significant infusion from President Obama's stimulus package, is advancing as well.

In Colorado, Abound Solar is retrofitting a closed automotive transmission factory near Kokomo, Ind., into a photovoltaic plant thanks to a state, county and federal incentives. Nine advanced electric-vehicle battery plants have opened in the United States, with much of the $2.4 billion boost in that sector headed to Michigan.

But political and economic considerations could slow U.S. progress. The report says that feed-in tariffs, which offer stable payment to power generators through long-term purchase agreements, could significantly boost clean energy initiatives in this country.
Those programs are popular in Germany, Canada and Britain, but haven't caught on big in the U.S. (Sacramento Metropolitan Utility District recently created one). The report also warns of clean-tech jobs potentially moving south of the border to Mexico, and suggests that more efforts in this nation should be directed to the low-hanging fruit of energy efficiency.

"Eager supporters of clean energy, however, sometimes overlook the easy efficiency fixes and instead channel enthusiasm - and dollars - toward the generation of renewable energy.
The report ends with five initiatives that its authors should be put into place:

  • Deploy aggressive national renewable standards with teeth;

  • Support development of green infrastructure;

  • Implement and enforce efficiency, fuel and emissions standards;

  • Establish green banks, bonds and funds;

  • Implement carbon taxes.

Oh, I almost forgot. Here are the top 15 U.S. regions for clean-energy jobs:

  1. San Francisco Bay area

  2. Los Angeles-Long Beach

  3. Boston

  4. New York

  5. Denver

  6. Washington D.C.

  7. San Diego

  8. Houston

  9. Chicago

  10. Austin

  11. Seattle

  12. Atlanta

  13. Dallas'

  14. Portland

  15. Sacramento

Parking Garage Takes The Green

More cities and businesses are turning garages and carports into generators of solar power. This 11-story parking garage in Chicago takes that a major step forward. It has to be one of the coolest green projects in the country.

Introducing Greenway Self-Park. It features an array of vertical wind turbines on its southwest corner to make the most of the Windy City's namesake features. It has plug-ins for electric cars, a cistern rain-water collection system and services by companies that allow people who don't have vehicles to share one when they need wheels.

The developers are pursuing LEED certification. Read all about it here at Clean Fleet Report, where reporter John Addison also praises the sustainability efforts of Chicago city leaders. The lakeside city receives high rankings by SustainLane.

An industry blog, Concrete Products, also has information.
(Photo by greenbeanchicago.com)