Thursday, December 23, 2010

Top Green Car Happenings of 2010

I did put together top story/trend coverage for 2010 in Automotive Digest Weekly Green, but did not rank the stories in order. So here's my ranking of the events this year:

1. Gulf oil spill - that went on for quite awhile and wreaked havoc, much like the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989. It reinforced the freedom from oil addiction America needs to work on.

2. Delivery of Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt to first buyers, before the year ended. They did what they said they were going to do.

3. EPA strict standards for corporate average fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions for light duty vehicles, and then later in the year for heavy duty vehicles. There's a lot to it, and vehicles will become more expensive, efficient, and clean. And smaller and lighter.

4. Governments around the world are offering incentives and mandating adoption of higher mileage and lower emissions vehicles. This has been happening in Europe and Asia. It was fairly surprising to see how much is happening in China.

5. Tesla Motors had a very big year - NUMMI plant, going public, and having companies like Toyota partner to use its EV drivetrain technology.

6. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles got a shot in the arm with announcements from Toyota, Hyundai, and Mercedes Benz on fuel cell cars coming to market.

7. Natural gas vehicles are growing in popularity with fleets and there may be more heavy trucks on the road using this fuel. T. Boone Pickens was able to convince Senate Majority Leader on a $5 billion bill to convert heavy-duty trucks and buses to run on natural gas. It will have to be reintroduced in the senate, but is likely to pass next year.

8. Automakers started going green - Ford especially, with its sustainability officer, building cars with more recycled materials, and winning a Nielsen award on green marketing at the LA Auto Show. General Motors has been doing a lot in arena, too, as have many other OEMs. Fisker Automotive has been tying this theme closely to its marketing campaign for the upcoming Karma.

9. Electric vehicle product announcements were stunning, and eventually numbing. The number of announcements of all-new cars, or electric versions of existing models, was enormous. Some of it is fairly far into the future, or at least a few model years from now. But it was way more than I originally anticipated.

10. Electric vehicle industry coalitions were plentiful and ambitious as well - from Electric Drive Transportation Association, California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative, and Electrification Coalition are all worth learning more about as charging stations make their way across the country, and need as much support as possible in doing so.

Number 11 would deal with Renewable Fuel Standards that came out this year and will have much impact on what happens next with biofuel - ethanol, biodiesel, and advanced biofuels (such as cellulosic and algae). Very much connected to this is the decision by the EPA to increase ethanol's level in gasoline sold across the country to E15 for 2007 model or later vehicles. There are lawsuits and debates going on for both of these issues, and they will be getting sorted out next year and beyond.


Post a Comment