Category: Corporate Sustainability

Why GM is dumping the Chevy Volt

It was a bit of a surprise to hear that GM is no longer going to be producing the Chevy Volt. With an electric motor that will take you the first 50 miles, the Volt has been a popular plug-in hybrid for people who realize that 90% of their trips are less than 30 miles. But, the Volts also has a gas engine that provides a range of 400 miles, so it overcame many people’s “range anxiety” with a “backup generator under the hood”. What GM found is that most Volt owners are not using the gas engines, and that – with the exponential growth of public and workplace charging stations – customers prefer all-electric drives like the Chevy Bolt, Nissan Leaf, Tesla 3, etc… Another step in our evolution to a fully-electric clean transportation system!

Why General Motors Is Ditching the Chevy Volt https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/why-general-motors-is-ditching-the-chevy-volt?utm_medium=email&utm_source=Storage&utm_campaign=GTMStorage#gs.Jtj_0YY

Out with the plug-in hybrid, in with the all-electric vehicle.

“The need to carry around a backup generator under the hood is just going away.

When General Motors launched the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid in 2010, it was heralded as a breakthrough “car of the future.” Turns out it came with an expiry date.

Come March, GM will no longer produce the Volt, as part of the automaker’s restructuring plan announced last month. GM said it will focus on growing its truck and SUV business, while prioritizing future investments in next-generation of battery-electric vehicle architectures.

The Volt isn’t part of that plan, news that EV fans took hard.

A primary selling point for the Volt was that owners could go (mostly) electric without having to compromise on range. The Volt’s roughly 50-mile electric range covers most daily commutes in America. For longer journeys, the car seamlessly switches over to using its small gasoline engine to power an on-board generator, for a total hybrid range of more than 400 miles.

But GM’s customer data shows that Volt owners simply aren’t turning on their gasoline engines all that much anymore.

“What we’re finding is that consumers are…carrying around this engine and driving on full electricity,” said Shad Balch, Chevrolet spokesperson, in a recent interview at the L.A. Auto Show.

Drivers are also getting over range anxiety, he said. When GM launched the first-generation Volt, there was virtually no public charging infrastructure. Now there are upward of 23,000 public charging stations in the U.S. and Canada.

“The need to carry around a backup generator under the hood is just going away,” Balch said. “We’re seeing that as…our customers are leaving the Volt to get into the Bolt EV.”

That trend is apparent across the EV market. In California, the nation’s largest EV market by far, pure electric-vehicle sales surpassed plug-in hybrids in 2015 and have since expanded their share of the market.

The Volt is retiring with the title of the bestselling electric car in America. GM’s cumulative Volt sales are still greater than Tesla’s, as of today. But now that the market is primed and GM has successfully commercialized long-range EV technology (the Bolt boasts a 238-mile electric range), it’s time to commit to a bigger transition both from a production standpoint and a vehicle standpoint, said Balch.

The Volt has also been a money-loser for GM. The additional equipment needed to make a plug-in hybrid is expensive, while GM committed to making the Volt price-competitive at around $35,000.

GM CEO Mary Barra has stated repeatedly that her company is committed to an “all-electric future.” In a speech earlier this year, Barra said that commitment “is unwavering, regardless of any modifications to future fuel economy standards,” referring to an ongoing policy battle over vehicle emissions rules in the U.S.

Last year, GM announced that the Chevy Bolt is just the first of at least 20 new all-electric vehicles (which includes fuel-cell electric vehicles) that the company will launch by 2023.

GM isn’t the only automaker taking this approach. Nissan, for instance, is (finally) doubling down on its battery electric vehicle lineup.

The Japanese automaker spearheaded the modern battery electric vehicle market in 2010 with the launch of the all-electric Leaf. Last year, the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance held the record for most EVs sold anywhere in the world and may hang on to that title in 2018 as competitors continue to scale up production. The Alliance is currently leading the EV market in Europe, by a healthy margin.

Going forward, Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi plans to develop eight new pure-electric vehicles by 2022. At the same time, Nissan is revamping its flagship Leaf.

Current Leaf vehicles come with a 40-kilowatt-hour battery and roughly 150-mile range, which is quickly becoming one of the shortest all-electric car ranges out there. The 2019 Leaf E-Plus is expected to have a 60-kilowatt-hour battery, which would bring the electric range above 220 miles.

Those details have yet to be released. The Leaf E-Plus was scheduled to launch in November, but Nissan chose to delay in light of Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi chairman Carlos Ghosn’s arrest for financial crimes.

Kia Motors is also responding to growing consumer demand for all-electric vehicles. The Korean automaker unveiled two battery electric SUVs at the L.A. Auto Show last month with over 200 miles of range: the Niro and the Soul. Stephen Kosowski, manager of long-range strategy and planning at Kia, said that once a car surpasses 200 miles of range, customers talk a lot less about range anxiety.

“Consumers are starting to ask us: ‘Why you would you have a plug-in hybrid? Why bother? We like driving past the gas station,’” he said at an L.A. Auto Show side event.

It’s notable that Kia introduced two electric SUVs. If battery electric vehicle sales are on the rise, gasoline-powered SUV sales are skyrocketing — in the U.S. and, increasingly, abroad.

GM responded to this trend by announcing that it plans to shift away from sedans (ending production of six sedans in total, including the Volt) and shifting resources to its larger-format vehicles. It’s a strategy that seems inconsistent, at least on the face of it.

GM has yet to come out with an electric SUV, which means the company will be investing in passenger vehicles on opposite ends of the environmental spectrum: gas guzzlers and zero-emissions vehicles. But the American automaker argues that there’s a reason for this.

“The overall trend right now of consumers is they’re moving from sedans and cars into crossovers and trucks. That is the trend from a business perspective that is driving all of these forward-looking moves that we’re making right now,” said Balch. “The money that we will be able to save because of these transitions is going to be invested in autonomous and electric-vehicle propulsion. So, it’s like we’re using the core business right now to fund the future technology for vehicles of the future.”

GM’s core business — its gas-powered trucks, crossovers and SUVs — dominated the automaker’s display at the L.A. Auto Show this year, with the Bolt EV tucked in the very back.

“It’s very hard to connect the dots because they are such different vehicles,” Balch acknowledged, referring to today’s SUVs and battery electrics. But that’s changing.

Crossovers and SUVs are becoming increasingly efficient thanks to advancements in using lighter materials, which will be applied to future vehicles, including electric ones, said Balch. Also, while the Volt is going away, the battery technology developed for that vehicle, including the active thermal management system to keep the battery at its optimal temperature, has already been carried over into the Bolt.

The challenge for automakers now is to create compelling SUVs, trucks and crossovers that also happen to be electric.

Audi took a meaningful step in this direction with the Audi e-tron, the first next-generation all-electric vehicle to launch from the Volkswagen Group. It’s also the first all-electric passenger vehicle to hit the U.S. market with a charging rate of up to 150 kilowatts, which dramatically cuts down on charging time.

Recent trends show, as many expected, that as battery range increases and charging times decline, consumers will become more comfortable with all-electric drive. As more pure EVs come to market, it’s likely to accelerate the shift away from plug-in hybrids, and could, eventually, eliminate the need for gasoline entirely.

EarthKind Bridge solar project breaks ground

EarthKind Energy is proud to be the clean energy consultant to the New York State Bridge Authority (NYSBA), who broke ground on a 486KW solar system and had their 1,350 PV panels delivered this week.

EarthKind conducted the utility cost analysis, identified the Kingston-Rhinecliff bridge site, provided the solar project sizing, prepared the bid documentation, recommended the installation award, negotiated the Power Purchase Agreement that locked in a price of 10 cents per kwh for 20 years,  coordinated the utility inter-connection application, and is overseeing the project installation and commissioning.

“The Bridge Authority’s commitment and actions to meet Governor Cuomo’s clean energy goals are unparalleled”, said Ron Kamen, CEO of EarthKind Energy.  “The combined lighting efficiency gains and solar energy generation makes the Bridge Authority the first New York State government entity to effectively meet the Governor’s target.  It’s this type of true leadership that will provide stable, affordable electricity prices; save taxpayers money; and create a healthier and more sustainable future for all of us.”

NEW YORK STATE BRIDGE AUTHORITY BREAKS GROUND ON SOLAR PANEL ARRAY AT KINGSTON-RHINECLIFF BRIDGE

 

Super Discount on Brand New Nissan All Electric Leaf!

EarthKind Energy has been working with Sustainable Westchester to create a Clean Transportation Project, and has now partnered with Nissan on the All-Electric Leaf.

We have been able to expand the discount program to ALL Central Hudson customers.

Any Central Hudson customers can now purchase a new 2017 Nissan Leaf for about ½ price (less than $15,000).

The Leaf gets 107 mile per charge, and is a great vehicle for the 90% of American’s trips that are less than 30 miles.

While they are going fast and there is a limited quantity – there are still Leaf’s available at Kingston Nissan.

Google Goes to 100% Renewable Energy!

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Google will be the first major corporation to become 100% powered by renewable energy. Even though Google consumes as much energy as the City of San Francisco, Google has figured out ways to reduce their carbon footprint, eliminate price fluctuations, and save millions of dollars on energy.

“It’s good for the economy, good for business and good for our shareholders.”

Indeed. Read Here.

Saving the World = 100 Gigafactories

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Forbes recently did an article on the movie “Before the Flood”, where the UN “Messenger of Peace” – actor Leonardo DiCaprio – documents the realities of Climate Change, and provides insights into the solutions.

One of most fascinating quotes: To transition the world to 100% renewable energy will take 100 Gigafactories like the one that Tesla is building in Nevada.

While it’s no small feat to build a ~15 million square foot Gigafactory, and building 100 is beyond the reach of any one company – it is tremendously hopeful that there IS an achievable path to get humanity through the ever-deepening depths of climate disruption.

New Yorker’s For Clean Energy Launch

The video from the May 2, 2016 New Yorker’s for Clean Power is finally out! Mark Ruffalo, Ron Kamen and others spoke at the event held in New York City. Ron, representing E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs) spoke about the recently published New York Clean Jobs report and the launching of the New Yorker’s for Clean Power campaign.

PSE&G Installing 100 Megawatt Solar System on Landfill

NJ landfill solar

We have been seeing more and more solar installations being done on landfills, brownfields… over the past few years. Seems to be catching on. Public Service Electric & Gas Co. in New Jersey has proposed to install a 100 megawatt system. What is particularly significant here is that PSE&G is a utility. Historically new installations have been done by solar companies. One major sticky point however is that the utility is asking for a 9.75% rate of return on it’s investment. And that increase would go to the tax payers of New Jersey. Read here.

United Airlines To Use Biofuels!

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United Airlines has announced that it plans on using biofuel for it’s planes!  This is one of the first major airlines to begin to use biofuel.  We hope this is the beginning of a new trend!

Read here!

Delta Computer Group Installs 500 327 watt PV Panels

John Kamen Delta solar system

Click here for details!