The International Energy Agency has issued a new report entitled Energy And Air Pollution. It says even small changes in air pollution levels could have dramatic effects on human health and longevity. When people speak of “untaxed externalities” associated with burning fossil fuels, they are referring to how many people get sick or die each year as a result. If the cost of those fuels were made to reflect those hidden “externalities”, using renewable energy would become economically compelling.
When Tesla introduced the Model X last fall, it had a host of novel features. First, there were those incredible falcon wing doors that set the car apart from anything else on the road. Then there was the panoramic windshield, a one piece affair that starts at the cowl and swoops back over the front seats. Self presenting front doors that sense your presence and open to greet you. Ultra cool second row seats mounted on pedestals for more interior room.
Originally published on Bikocity.
In São Paulo, Brazil, citizens are enjoying less air and noise pollution – at least on one day a week. On Sundays, during what is called Paulista Aberta, motor traffic is restricted on the popular Paulista Avenue and the street is dedicated to cyclists and pedestrians. Grassroots group Minha Sampa campaigned for the event since 2014 and on June 28, 2015, the car-free initiative was realized. The event sparked discussion about the pros and cons of the car-free zone.
After lacking hard evidence to prove the positive impact of the popular and attractive Paulista Aberta, TheCityFix recently reported that new studies show a reduction in air and noise pollution on those Sundays the street enjoys car-free life.
China’s government is getting serious about air quality these days. In addition to offering the death penalty for serious polluters, the country’s government is cracking down on vehicle emissions. In fact, China’s latest round of proposed vehicle emissions is so tough, Honda says they’ll have to go to an all-hybrid lineup in order to meet its requirements.
“In 2025, we don’t expect to be able to sell conventional internal-combustion engines,” Honda chief technology strategy officer for automobile R&D Keiji Ohtsu said in a recent interview about the new standards with Ward’s Auto.
The timing may be good for Ohtsu and Honda, though. The company already has a collection of nearly production-ready hybrid models in the pipeline to meet the US’ ever-increasing emissions standards, as well as those of many major European cities who are thinking of outlawing internal-combustion engined cars altogether.
Ohtsu anticipates that hybrids could account for up to 20% of Honda’s total, global sales by 2020. At the same time, Honda thinks hybrid models in Japan could exceed 80% of total sales in Japan by 2025 with increases in the US coming, as well. That is, of course, despite the fact that the Honda Civic Hybrid was discontinued in 2015 and the excellent Honda Accord Hybrid is on a 1-year hiatus for 2016- which doesn’t look good, really.
My guess is that Ohtsu knows something things that we don’t- but that’s never stopped us from second-guessing Honda, before. What do you guys think? Will Honda’s plans to go all-hybrid in China by 2025 lead to more hybrids landing stateside? Let us know, in the comments.
Source: Wards Auto, via Green Car Reports.
Say what you want about strong central governments, they do get things done. In Italy, Mussolini made the trains run on time and in China, the Communist Party can make the sky turn blue — when it wants to. Recently, the Chinese government planned a celebration to mark the end of World War II. The only problem was, it wanted clear skies for the occasion, rather than the heavy smog that usually hangs over the city.
China decided it wanted to become a market based economy about 30 years ago. It built hundreds of coal fired electric generating plants and bought millions of tons of soft brown coal from Australia to run them. Then it built thousands of factories to produce consumer goods — everything from armaments to automobiles. Suddenly, its streets were crowded with millions of vehicles with low tech internal combustion engines under their hoods. Emissions standards? We don’t need no stinking emissions standards!
Before long, the skies over China’s cities turned a shade of industrial strength gray and stayed that way for months at a time. It took the solons in charge a few decades to figure out that all this industrial activity was slowly poisoning the people it was supposed to benefit. Since then, China has embarked on a massive campaign to harness renewable energy, especially solar power. It is building enormous solar panel facilities in the trackless Gobi Desert, closing its coal fired generating stations as quickly as possible, and pushing hard to make electric cars the basis of its transportation system. Geely Motors, which owns Volvo and the London Taxi Cab Company, announced this week that 90% of its cars will be electric just 5 years from now.
So what did government officials do to make the the skies over Beijing turn blue in time for the big celebration? According to Inhabitat, it ordered local factories to close starting one month in advance of the occasion. Two weeks prior, it ordered the drivers of all 5,000,000 cars that regularly crowd the city’s streets to leave their cars at home. It’s fair to say such heavy handed government action would not be well received in most countries these days. But the plan worked. On the appointed day and at the appointed hour, the skies over Beijing were a beautiful shade of blue, punctuated by lots of puffy white clouds.
The celebration went off without a hitch. Afterwards, all those factories were allowed to resume production and all those cars were allowed back on the streets. Within a few days, everything was back to “normal.” Could there be any clearer example of how direct the connection is between carbon emissions and the environment?
Photo credits: CNN via Inhabitat
Via EV Obsession:
Here’s yet another reminder of why we are so interested in seeing the EV revolution advance.
Even “safe” levels of particulate and nitric dioxide (NO2) air pollution are associated with a notably increased risk of severe heart attacks, according to new research presented by Dr Jean-Francois Argacha of UZ Brussel-Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium.
The “safe levels” in question are actually well below the recommended limits in Europe currently — which means that a great many people on that continent are probably exposed to such levels (at least occasionally).
The new findings are the result of researchers investigating the effect of short-term exposure to common levels of air pollution on the risk of ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) — which is, for some background here, a particularly dangerous type of heart attack triggered by prolonged blockage of blood supply within the heart. Of all heart attack types, this one features largely the worst prognosis.
Most common air pollution is a mix of particulate matter and pollutant gases (sulfur dioxide, nitric dioxide, and ozone). Particularly small particulate air pollution (PM2.5) has the ability to be absorbed deeply into the lower respiratory tract — it’s a common product of fossil fuel combustion.
Green Car Congress provides more information on the methodology used:
Data on PM10, PM2.5, O3 and NO2 levels were obtained from Belgian Environmental Agency air pollution records. A statistical model called RIO was used to provide a real-time evaluation of air pollution exposure in each part of Belgium with adjustments for population density.
Data on STEMI incidence came from the Belgian Interdisciplinary Working Group on Acute Cardiology (BIWAC) STEMI registry, using STEMI hospitalisation as a proxy indicator. The relationship between pollutants and STEMI was assessed using a case-crossover design and performed by the biostatistics department of Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Brussels, Belgium.
Between 2009 and 2013, there were 11,428 hospitalisations for STEMI. The researchers found that 10 μg/m3 increases in ambient PM2.5 concentrations were associated with a 2.8% increase in STEMI while 10 μg/m3 rises in NO2were associated with a 5.1% increased risk. These associations were only observed in men.
Dr Argacha commented: “The association between STEMI and air pollution was observed within one day of exposure. This was despite the fact that concentrations of air pollutants were within the European air quality standard. It’s possible that only men were affected because of the under representation of women in our study population (less than 25%). Nevertheless, previous studies have demonstrated that blood pressure, arterial stiffness and heart rate variability abnormalities secondary to air pollution exposure are more pronounced in men. Sex differences in obesity and blood inflammation may worsen air pollutant effects but this hypothesis requires further investigation.”
Further analysis showed that those over the age of 75 were particularly affected by PM10 exposure, while those under the age of 54 were more affected by NO2 exposure, interestingly.
“Considering that NO2 is more related to vehicle emissions, one explanation for this finding could be that the younger population may be exposed to excess NO2 from road traffic due to a higher level of social and professional activities. This is the first study to examine the effect of air pollution on STEMI occurrence at a national level using a prospective observational registry of unselected patients. We found that particulate and NO2 air pollution, at levels below European limits, are associated with an increased risk of STEMI. The detrimental impact of NO2 exceeds that of fine particles and raises new public health concerns.”
Interesting work, though not reassuring to those of us that are exposed to levels of air pollution such as this regularly (which is the vast majority of us reading this, I’m guessing). Yet another quill in the bonnet for electric vehicles. Here’s to hoping that the next generation of EVs released see large enough sales to displace gas-powered car use to a significant degree. Though, I’d guess that diesel trucks are really more the issue in this case than cars.
The Finnish capital of Helsinki wants to be totally car-free by 2025, and city officials plan to make that goal a reality by creating a new transport infrastructure based on cutting-edge technology, data analytics, and a single, affordable payment system.
Finland’s plan revolves around the notion of “on-demand” transit that, if it works, will be nothing short of a revolution for public transit that will advance the state of that art to such an extent that private car ownership becomes pointless. It goes something like this: a young mother is trying to get her kids to school. Instead of putting them in her car, she uses an app to tell an advanced dispatch system where she is and where she’s going. That system effectively “summons” a nearby bus that will take her kids to their school, picking up other kids, teachers, etc. who live (more or less) along the same route. Later, as the mother gets around Helsinki, she can use the city’s bike share program that’s integrated into the system, as well. If the weather forecast changes, she’ll receive a notification on the same app that can offer her another way home without getting soaked.
Before you scoff at that level of adaptability in route-planning software, consider how effectively UPS’ dispatching software works- and those guys don’t even make left turns!
“The vision is that all kinds of (transport) services will be used together through a single portal,” says transport engineer Sonja Heikkilä, who came up with the plan as part of a Master’s thesis commissioned by the city. “In addition to traditional public transport, (the planned system) would include taxis, car-sharing, and services that don’t even exist yet. A proactive route planner will suggest journeys based on real-time traffic data and alert users to changes caused by accidents or changes in weather conditions.”
Heikkilä’s thesis is based heavily on the argument that young people in Europe have predominantly apathetic attitudes towards cars, coupled with a growing eagerness to adopt new technology (apps) and new ways of looking at traditional transportation models (witness the success of bike sharing programs and ride-share apps like Uber). As such, the fact that the 2025 plan is such a huge departure from the norm could be a boon, rather than an obstacle, on its path to success. The Finnish government seems to agree, with Henna Virkkunen, Finland’s transport and local government minister, going on record with, “I now declare Finland as the country for open traffic experiments – Finland is a Traffic Lab.”
Good for Finland, then, for trying something wild and new. We’ll try to keep up with their plan’s progress in the coming months, and fill you in as we learn more. Stay tuned!
Source | Images: ZDNet.
GM first made waves with its Chevy-badged EN-V electric city “car” back in 2011, but has remained fairly quiet on the EN-V front. Until this week, that is, when GM announced that an updated version of its Chevy EN-V electric pod-mobile would be on display in the Sino-Singapore Tianjin “Eco-City”.
Unlike the original and “version 2” concepts shown in 2011, the latest Chevy EN-V doesn’t use a Segway-like 2 wheel balancing system (although, to be fair, neither does Segway). In its place is a more conventional, lower-cost 4-wheel setup. Similarly, the “cockpit-style” hatch of the concept has given way to more traditional doors, and the styling is much less Tron and, to my eyes, much more Power Rangers.
“More Power Rangers,” by the way, is meant as a positive.
It’s hoped that urban EVs like the EN-V concept will be accepted in China, and work to help reduce the country’s horrific air pollution problems. You can check out Chevy’s official press release, below, and see some more pics of the latest EN-V at the bottom of the page.
GM to Demonstrate Chevrolet EN-V 2.0 in Tianjin Eco-City
SHANGHAI – General Motors today announced that it will begin demonstrating the Chevrolet EN-V 2.0 (Electric Networked-Vehicle) in the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City this week, signaling the company’s learning and progress in sustainable urban mobility.
The demonstration will help GM further understand consumers’ usage of low-speed transportation tools for their daily commute. During the two-week demonstration period, the EN-V 2.0s will be used in the National Animation Industry Park and Eco-Business Park inside the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City.
“This is a step forward to realize GM’s vision for sustainable urban mobility in a practical way,” said Matt Tsien, Executive Vice President of GM and GM China President. “We are pleased that GM’s partnership with the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City Administrative Committee (ECAC) and Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City Investment and Development Co., Ltd. (SSTEC) can serve as the first step for realizing our vision in the real world. It represents GM’s commitment and effort to implement our ‘Roadmap to 2030’ that was rolled out following Expo 2010 in Shanghai.”
As an innovative zero-emission electric vehicle, the EN-V 2.0 aims to contribute to sustainable urban mobility by reducing congestion and pollution. Its concept was first introduced by GM at Expo 2010. The EN-V 2.0 represents an evolution, with improvements in design and engineering.
The pure electric vehicle can travel up to 40 kilometers on a single charge, which is more than adequate for the average urban commute. Parking space for a typical vehicle will be able to hold as many as four EN-V 2.0 vehicles.
“SSTEC is very pleased to work with GM and ECAC to explore green solutions to urban transportation challenges. We welcome GM’s decision to use the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City for the testing and demonstration of its new Electric Networked-Vehicle, and look forward to further expanding our cooperation with GM in the future,” said Ho Tong Yen, Chief Executive Officer of SSTEC.
The Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City is a landmark bilateral project between the governments of China and Singapore, with private-sector investment and development. Located in the Tianjin Binhai New Area (45 kilometers from Tianjin’s city center), the 30-square-kilometer Tianjin Eco-City is designed to create a harmonious and sustainable community that meets the needs of an urbanizing China. It aims to become a modern township where 350,000 residents can eventually work, live, play and learn.
SSTEC is the master developer for the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City. It is a 50-50 joint venture between a Chinese consortium led by Tianjin TEDA Investment Holding Co., Ltd. and a Singapore consortium led by the Keppel Group.
Source | Photos: GM, via Autoblog Green.
The automobile has hit China like a tsunami. Where once there were few private cars, now there are tens of millions. This spurt in growth was fueled by the country’s leaders, who wanted to drive the economy forward as fast as possible so China could catch up with the rest of the world. Consumers in China, though, are crazy about any car with an internal combustion engine but have been slow to accept the idea of electric cars. Currently there are only a smattering of EV’s purring along Chinese roadways – roughly 70,000. BMW thinks that’s about to change.
Why? For one thing, China is experiencing crippling smog conditions in most of its major cities. This has led authorities to mandate removing up to 6 million pollution spweing older cars from its roads as soon as possible. In an effort to tamp down the demand for cars, new registrations are strictly limited and are meted out by lottery. If you are lucky enough to be given permission for a new car registration for a non-hybrid car, the fee can be as much as $15,000.
Unless you are registering an electric vehicle. Then the registration is immediately available and costs nothing. So, let’s see: buy a Buick and wait years for a costly registration or buy an EV and start driving tomorrow for free? Hmmm … that’s a pretty easy choice to make. The government wants half a million EV’s on the road by the end of this year. One thing we know for sure is that when the Chinese government wants something, it usually gets it.
BMW thinks such government policies will tilt the car market in China towards electric cars, and it wants to be positioned to take advantage of the surge when it comes. To pave the way forward, the Bavarian company is installing 46 public charging stations in and around Beijing . It has imported about a 1000 i3 models, which are selling in BMW showrooms next to its upmarket i8 offerings. Mercedes and Volkswagen are also making plans to shoulder their way into the Chinese EV market, as is Tesla (who is looking into Chinese production).
While the policies of China’s central government may seem heavy handed, remember that at the beginning of the automotive era, governments in Europe decided to tax those new fangled devices on the basis of horsepower or engine displacement, which led to smaller, less powerful cars getting built. BMW is betting Chinese policy will provide a strong boost to EV sales. That seems to be a bet worth taking.
Source: The Truth About Cars
The Chinese EV market saw a 38% year-on-year increase in unit sales in 2013, as compared to 2012, according to the most recent figures — for a total of 17,642 EVs sold in the market in 2013. In 2012, total EV sales were 12,791 units.
Given how enormous the Chinese auto-market is, though, that means that EVs only captured a 0.08% share. Certainly not a significant percentage, to put it lightly. Makes it easy to see why the government there is rolling out better EV subsidies.
Those figures look like they’re going to be easily eclipsed this year, though, as sales this year have quite a bit better — over 7,209 EVs have been sold in just the first four months of the year, for a market-share of 0.11%. With generous corporate and consumer subsidies set to kick-in in the near future, the sales should continue to improve.
Perhaps they’ll climb as high as 25,000 by the end of the year?
EV Sales provides more:
>Based on certified data and past performances, the presumed Top 5 had plenty of changes regarding (the previous year’s) ranking, with a new leader, the BYD Qin, selling 3,294 units and collecting 46% on the market, which is also on its way to obliterate Chery’s QQ3 EV yearly record (5,305 units in 2012). One could say that the Qin is shaking things up, eh?
The Chery QQ3 EV dropped to #2 by a great margin, selling roughly 1,600 units, followed by the BYD e6, up one position and doubling sales (881 registrations) compared to a year ago (is it the Qin-factor spreading to the older e6?), while the JAC J3 EV dropped two positions to #4, with some 800 sales.
So, essentially, the EV sales in 2013 in a country of 1.36 billion (China) were only just slightly higher than double the sales in a country of 5 million (Norway) — 17,642 compared to 7,882. Really drives home the disparity in sales between the two, doesn’t it? The markets/environments are of course quite different, but no doubt lessons could be learned.
With regard to the relatively fast adoption of EVs in Norway (and China), the main drivers are hard to ascertain exactly, but there are a number of factors that no doubt contribute, including: strong incentives, awareness, good infrastructure, and negative incentives.
For a detailed breakdown of these factors and others I recommend you read: Top-Selling Cars In Norway Now Electric Cars (Two Months In A Row) — 4 Reasons Why.
While some may just offhand assume that, owing to the relatively small size (and 100+ MPG ratings – Ed.) of mopeds, there’s no way that they produce more air pollution than a car (during an equivalent trip), that’s not always true, according to new research from the Paul Scherrer Institute.
Despite making up just a fraction of total traffic-volume in most regions, mopeds with two-stroke engines are, apparently, at the top of the list of air polluters in many regions of Africa, Asia, and southern Europe.
Rampant polluters: Despite their low numbers two-stroke mopeds generate most of the emissions of fine dust and other air contaminants in many cities.
There’s been talk in recent years suggesting as much, but this new work is some of the first to put hard data behind that idea — while utilizing innovative measurement techniques. The reason for the relatively high contribution to air pollution is mostly down to the fact that the popular two-wheelers aren’t held to the same strict emissions requirements that most other vehicles are.
The press release from the Paul Scherrer Institute provides more:
The scientists used a smog chamber developed at PSI to measure the emission of organic aerosols and aromatic hydrocarbons from mopeds in the laboratory and in standard driving cycles. Organic aerosols are small particles which are suspended in air. They account for a major share of fine particles from traffic. By contrast, after being emitted as gaseous substances aromatic hydrocarbons (arenes) can be converted through chemical reactions in the atmosphere in part into secondary organic aerosols and, by extension, into fine particles. In fact, these secondary organic aerosols often account for the main proportion of fine particles. In their original gaseous form some arenes are harmful, too. Benzene, for instance, which is added to petrol is carcinogenic.
The new study shows that during the conversion of exhaust gas from two-stroke mopeds other worrying products are formed. Using chemical analyses the scientists discovered that during the conversion of arenes from moped exhaust gases into aerosols, harmful reactive oxygen species are also formed which can reach the lungs.
Both when standing still and in motion mopeds with two-stroke engines emit amounts of arenes which are several orders of magnitude higher than the limit values admissible in Europe and the USA. According to the study authors, waiting behind a two-stroke moped in traffic may, therefore, constitute a considerable health risk.
The researchers note that there are several different possible reasons for these elevated emissions — incomplete combustion (common to the engine type), the high ratio of fuel to air in the fuel mixture, or the need to add the lubricating oil directly to the fuel. These issues are far less present in four-stroke engines.
Some of the other interesting findings/notes of the work:
In the city of Bangkok, two-stroke mopeds generate as much as 60% of emissions of primary organic aerosols — while only accounting for 10% of total fuel consumption by traffic in the city. Given the fact that the calculations are based on the average emission factor of the European mopeds used in the study, the actual emissions are actually probably considerably higher.
“Field measurements in China confirm the image of these rampant polluters on two wheels. In the city of Guangzhou the concentrations of arenes in the air fell by more than 80% in 2005 after a ban on two-stroke mopeds. Just 60 kilometers away in the city of Dongguan with its comparatively strict traffic restrictions, higher aromatic concentrations are measured today than in Guangzhou.”
The concentration of specific air contaminants in many Southern European cities could be significantly reduced if two-stroke mopeds were slowly phased-out.
Regardless of health issues, if the idea of a moped or scooter that doesn’t stink and isn’t irritatingly loud appeals to you, then you can, of course, now get an electric one. While the pricing on many electric mopeds and scooters are typically higher, the pay-offs are significant (fuel costs, health-wise, etc), as this new research reinforces.
On that note — series production of BMW’s C Evolution electric scooter recently began at BMW’s Berlin plant. The electric scooter represents BMW’s first entry into the market.
Photo: NYC Scootering.
There’s no nice way to say it: the air pollution in China is bad. The problem is so severe, in fact, that the Chinese government decided to slash number of new cars people can put on the road and has even contemplated instituting the death penalty to curb pollution, with little effect. In a bid to take some of the most heavily-polluting vehicles (heavy-duty diesels) off the road, Beijing says it will replace 80 percent of its gov’t-owned buses with new-energy and clean-fuel vehicles by the end of 2017.
“A total of 13,825 buses, including 4,058 electrically powered and 7,185 running on natural gas, will replace gas and diesel,” said the Beijing Commission of Transport last week, when asked about specifics. The Commission has also pledged to further develop bus routes and sway more commuters using private cars to use public transportation.
Nan Tao, head of the bus company’s service bureau, was quoted by China Daily as saying that the plan reduce petroleum-based fuel consumption by 150,000 tons a year, and cut harmful particulate emissions by 60%. That should go a long way towards accomplishing the city’s goal of reducing of auto emissions by 50% by the end of 2017 … which would, you know, still make Beijing’s air quality worse than Los Angeles’, but you take a win when you can get it, right? Right!
China’s rapid commercial growth has led to almost inconceivable air pollution in its major cities. In the last month alone, high levels of pollution have forced China to all but shut down the northeastern city of Harbin, a major city with a population of nearly 11 million people. In addition to threatening the country’s deadliest polluters with heavy fines and, hilariously, the death penalty, Beijing is taking another step to clean its air: by 2017, a full 40% of new vehicle number plates will be set aside for “new energy” vehicles, effectively acting as a 40% hybrid/electric mandate.
In addition to the “clean car mandate” that I just invented, Beijing will take the somewhat drastic step of cutting the number of new plates it will issue. Beijing will issue only 150,000 new license plates, down from 240,000 each year now. As in the US, all cars must carry plates before they can be driven on public roads.
According to Reuters, new number plate restrictions are already in place in four Chinese cities – Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Guiyang – with plans to restrict number plate sales in eight more cities within the next year. The policy trend has already led carmakers like GM and VW to divert its marketing and sales resources to China’s smaller cities. As long as they can still see the sky, anyway.
According to a new analysis by renowned energy economist Philip K. Verleger – who has served as an energy advisor to both Republican and Democratic Presidents – American consumers are saving between $0.50 and $1.50 per gallon on gasoline as a direct result of increased ethanol production under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).
“The implication for world consumers is clear,” says Verleger. “The (Renewable Fuels Standard) has cut annual consumer expenditures in 2013 between $700 billion and $2.6 trillion. This translates to consumers paying between $0.50 and $1.50 per gallon less for gasoline.”
The reasons for the savings involve the lower cost of domestic ethanol compared to gasoline, as well as the effect of increased ethanol use driving down overall demand for petroleum-based fuels. The Renewable Fuels Association (who, admittedly, are probably less objective than Mr. Verleger) claim, on their website, that “crude oil prices would be between $15 – 40 per barrel higher today without the substantial volumes of ethanol that have been added to petroleum inventories since enactment of the RFS.”
Verleger’s report is just one of the many pieces of evidence that, despite big oil’s unethical anti-ethanol business practices and price-gouging, the Renewable Fuels Standard is working to improve America’s overall health, add new jobs in a tough economy, reduce food costs, and all with AAA support. At least, that’s what court after court has found in their in-depth analysis of the issues involved.
What about you, dear readers? Are you fed up with big oil’s nonsense, yet, or are you still frothing at the mouth with anti-ethanol hysteria? I’m sure you’ll let us know, either way.