News Article | March 3, 2016
Many aspects of A LONG HARD ROAD are refreshing. The authors correctly identified transportation as the source of half of Canada’s emissions increases since 1990 and an area where similar cuts can be made. They remind enthusiasts on the West Coast that, east of the Rockies, walking and cycling are not as feasible during the winter. This study has much to offer, but it seems the Conference Board of Canada does not see the EV potential. Micahel Langezaal, of the European fast charging company Fastned, calls EVs computers on wheels. Unfortunately, they are still relatively high priced and often a toy for the rich. In A LONG HARD ROAD, Allison Robins, James Knowles, and Len Coad assume the hindrances to this technology will remain in place for decades to come. In reality, the next generation of electric vehicles already exists and is on the verge of being rolled out. Instead of using a model that suggests EVs that can be driven 16 to 64 kilometers, the authors should have been looking at 200 km and more. While it is true the infrastructure needed for a transition to electric is still limited, it will build out fast once the other factors for a viable electric sector are in place. The real question is when will new EVs become price competitive with new gas cars? Once this happens, we will reach the tipping point, after which the electrics become the vehicle of choice. Langezaal believes the transition to EVs will occur sometime in the next decade. This will start with new car purchases and gradually extend to the resale market. The probability of this occurring is so strong that the real question is “when,” not “if.” One of the problems Robins et al point to is congestion within our cities. “Transport Canada determined that if all roads in Vancouver, Toronto, and Montréal had been able to operate at 70 per cent or more of the posted speed limit during rush hour, rather than just 50 per cent, GHG emissions in those cities would have been reduced by 1.2 million tonnes.” So how can we get some of those cars off the roads? Vancouver has almost reached its goal of walking, cycling or taking public transit for 50% of all trips within the city. This is a feasible model where the winters are mild, but not as viable east of the Rockies. Calgary, Ottawa, and Toronto are still car-centric cities. 77%, 65.3% and 64% of all trips, respectively, are made by automobile. All three of these cities intend to increase the amount of non-automotive traffic. “Calgary intends to limit the availability of parking in areas where “high quality” modes of transportation, such as light-rail transit or bus rapid transit (BRt), exist. Where parking facilities remain, the plan gives priority to “preferred parkers” that include carpool/car share participants, cyclists, motorcycles, and scooters. Ottawa intends to reduce the impact of surface parking by encouraging shared parking lots and the construction of multi-level parking lots, rather than single- level surface lots. Similarly, Toronto intends to limit the supply of non- ancillary parking and to encourage the sharing of parking spaces among uses that have different peaking times throughout the day.” These are excellent ideas which should be employed, but harsh winters are liable to ensure the automotive age endures longer east of the Rockies. We need to develop an electric transportation network. Switching to a near emissions-free automotive sector does not solve all of Canada’s transportation issues, but it makes the road shorter and easier to travel. Top Photo Credit: Parked in the middle of the road! (in Calgary) by Dhinakaran Gajavarathan via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License);Dunsmuir Separated Bike Lane (Vancouver 2011) by Paul Krueger via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License); 89 Bus – Orion VII Next Generation Hybrid-Electric (Toronto) by Diego Torres Silvestre via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License); Example of a +200 km-per-charge EV expected to cost $30,000 in the US (after federal electric vehicle tax credit) : 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV By GM – http://media.chevrolet.com/media/us/en/chevrolet/home.detail.html/content/Pages/news/us/en/2016/Jan/naias/chevy/0111-bolt-du.html http://media.chevrolet.com/dld/content/dam/Media/images/US/Vehicles/Chevrolet/Cars/BoltEV/2017/TechComponents/2017-Chevrolet-BoltEV-024.jpg, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46341789 Get CleanTechnica’s 1st (completely free) electric car report → “Electric Cars: What Early Adopters & First Followers Want.” Come attend CleanTechnica’s 1st “Cleantech Revolution Tour” event → in Berlin, Germany, April 9–10. Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.
News Article | November 27, 2015
Originally published on The Electric BMW i3 blogspot. By Tom Moloughney About a month ago, BMW CEO Harold Krueger surprised the EV world by casually mentioning in an interview with Die Zeit that in 2016 the i3 would have increased range. That of course sparked a lot of online speculation as to how BMW would accomplish this. Did it figure out a way to squeeze in more of the same 60 Ah Samsung battery cells that the i3 currently uses? Might BMW have sourced higher-energy-density battery cells from another supplier? Could Samsung have made the new 94 Ah cells available to BMW now? According to Samsung’s Battery Technology Roadmap, it didn’t look like it would have those cells available for at least another year. According to some well connected insiders, it is beginning to look like BMW will indeed use Samsung’s now 94 Ah battery cells in the 2017 i3, which will begin production in July of 2016. Furthermore, one insider even believes BMW will offer a battery upgrade option for current i3 owners who want the new, higher energy dense battery cells. Personally, I just don’t see how BMW can accomplish this without charging more money for the upgrade than most i3 owners would be willing to pay. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to get the battery upgrade myself. However, even if BMW discounted the new battery pack by giving owners a credit on the battery pack they returned, what would the upgrade price have to be for current i3 owners to bite? Personally, I think I would go for it if BMW could do the upgrade for under $5,000. That would also be contingent on the rumors being correct, and the new battery pack being the same physical size — 96 battery cells packaged in 8 modules, containing 12 cells each. Using the new 94 Ah cells, BMW would increase the i3’s total battery pack size from 21.6 kWh to 33.4 kWh without increasing weight significantly, if at all. Assuming BMW continued allowing approximately 90% of the total pack as usable energy, that would mean that the new i3 will have approximately 30kWh accessible to use. 30kWh usable would increase the i3 BEV’s range to approximately 125 miles per charge and the i3 REx to about 115 mpc. With 115 EPA-rated miles of range, my i3 REx would almost never fire up the range extender, which is fine by me. I’d still need it for the 240-mile trips to Vermont I take every couple months, but not for much more than that. If the i3 had 125 miles of range when it initially launched, I definitely wouldn’t have ordered mine with the REx. However, I’m still not convinced BMW will offer an option for current i3 owners to upgrade, and I’m even less convinced that BMW could offer it at a price point which would make it a reasonable purchase for someone who has only owned their car for a couple years or less. If they had 100,000 miles on the car, and the battery had already degraded to 75% or 80% or so of what it was when it was new, then the owner might be able to justify the cost of a new replacement pack. Of course, this is all speculation at this point. Nonetheless, we’ll be talking a lot about these questions until BMW finally releases the details. Which, by the way, I don’t expect them to do for at least 4 or 5 months. Rumors of an upgrade to an EV’s battery pack can really hurt sales of the current vehicle. The only thing that will hurts sales even more is when the manufacturer admits it, and gives the specifications and the expected launch date for the new model. If anyone out there is i3 bargain hunting, and can live with the i3’s current range, you can expect some killer deals this spring as BMW clears out the remaining 2016 inventory to make room for the 2017s with the new battery. A battery upgrade would seemingly solve another issue that has bothered some i3 REx owners, that being the size of the gas tank — or, really, how much of it they have access to. All i3s come with a 2.4 gallon gas tank. However, for the US market, BMW had to restrict the amount of gas available to use to 1.9 gallons. The reason was to satisfy the California Air Resource Board’s criteria for a BEVx vehicle. One of the criteria for an extended range electric vehicle to be classified as a BEVx is that the range of the car while being driven on battery needs to exceed the range it can drive on gasoline. If BMW allowed the full 2.4 gallons to be available for use, the gas range would be slightly greater than the electric range, and the i3 REx wouldn’t qualify as a BEVx. BMW would lose some of the highly valuable ZEV credits it gets for every i3 REx sold in “CARB states.” If the i3’s electric range is increased more than 20 additional miles, then the full 2.4 gallon tank could be accessed without a BEVx violation. Therefore, I fully expect the 2017 i3 REx to have use of the entire 2.4 gallon gas tank as it does with the European i3s. Actually, if the new batteries do extend the i3 REx’s battery range to the possible 115 MPC, then BMW could increase the gas tank to a little over 3 gallons if they wanted to. The i3 REx would then offer over 200 miles of driving range without needing to plug in or fill up. Whether or not BMW will indeed use the new 94 Ah cells from Samsung is yet to be known. According to CEO Krueger, we do know BMW will be upgrading the i3’s battery pack, and the most obvious and easiest way to do so would be with higher density battery cells. Samsung’s new 94 Ah cells are the same physical size as the 60 Ah cells used in the current i3, so upgrading to the new cells couldn’t be any easier — as long as they are indeed ready and available. As for the battery upgrade for existing i3 owners, it’s a tempting proposition, and one that I hope BMW fully explores to see if there is a way that it can do it at a reasonable cost (I say that’s under $5,000). However, I’m just not convinced that BMW can offer an upgrade without losing a lot of money on every pack they sell. Time will tell, and I’m sure there will be a lot of discussions about this before we actually get all the facts from BMW. Get CleanTechnica’s 1st (completely free) electric car report → “Electric Cars: What Early Adopters & First Followers Want.” Come attend CleanTechnica’s 1st “Cleantech Revolution Tour” event → in Berlin, Germany, April 9–10. Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.
Cadra Van Bibber-Krueger, a doctoral student in the university's animal sciences and industry department, reported results of a trial that fed zinc at concentrations ranging from 0 to 90 parts per million of the finishing diet. The National Research Council's current recommendation for nutrient requirements of beef cattle is 30 ppm dietary zinc. "We found that supplementing up to 60 ppm zinc—for about 90 ppm total dietary zinc—optimized feed efficiency in finishing cattle," Van Bibber-Krueger said. "The study suggests that finishing cattle have requirements for zinc that are substantially higher than the currently recommended concentrations." When selling cattle on a grid – a marketing system that takes into account such factors as carcass weight, yield and quality grade and other factors—Kansas State University's work predicted that supplementing 60 ppm in dietary zinc could result in an increase of $25 in total carcass value for a trace mineral that costs less than a penny per day, said Van Bibber-Krueger. "The potential to increase the value of carcasses by supplementing the proper concentration of zinc can have a big impact on the industry," she said. Kansas State University's trial tested just zinc, a mineral that is essential for normal function of more than 300 enzymes in microorganisms, plants and animals. Zinc and other minerals foster metabolism of nucleic acids, proteins and carbohydrates, all of which are essential for growth in cattle. Improving feeding efficiency means that cattle grow more efficiently with less feed. No differences were found found in marbling score, rib eye area or back fat. Van Bibber-Krueger said that increasing supplemental zinc to 90 ppm decreased performance, indicating excess zinc can be detrimental. "This is just one mineral," Van Bibber-Krueger said. "If we can figure out what the actual concentrations that finishing cattle need for all of the minerals, think about the kind of impact we can have in the future." The full study, "Supplemental Zinc Sulfate Affects Growth Performance of Finishing Heifers,"was published in the proceedings of the 2016 Kansas State University Cattleman's Day. Explore further: A link between zinc transport and diabetes More information: Van Bibber-Krueger, C. L. and Drouillard, J. S. (2016) "Supplemental Zinc Sulfate Affects Growth Performance of Finishing Heifers," Kansas Agricultural Experiment Station Research Reports: Vol. 2: Iss. 1. newprairiepress.org/kaesrr/vol2/iss1/16/
The so-called sharing economy gained traction across the globe in 2015 as Uber upended the taxi business, Airbnb disrupted the hotel sector and a host of online and mobile startups let people moonlight as chefs or handymen. Many see great promise in the collaborative economy, starting with the people flocking to it as way to turn their car or apartment, spare time or hobby, into a source of revenue—with far great flexibility than a conventional job. A PriceWaterhouse study estimates that the "sharing" or "peer-to-peer" economy will explode from roughly $15 billion in worldwide revenues at the end of 2014 to $325 billion by 2025. But critics worry the rising sector is an unregulated Wild West with few safeguards for either workers or consumers, and the trend has raised hackles from incumbents fearing for their survival—cue the taxi driver protests against Uber seen around the world. Posting on the Uber forum under the handle DaveM, one driver describes a summer gig on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, as idyllic. "I'm making good money. If I put in the hours I can get 18 rides a day," he writes. "Beach all day drive at night=happiness." But user tales of woe collected on a website called AirbnbHell, tell another side of the story. One lodging guest recounts: "When I got to the house and met the folks they seemed cool. When I went out for dinner, they stole all my stuff and locked me out. To make it worse, they sent me an email saying God bless, Jesus loves you." Facilitated by smartphones and geolocation technology, the sharing model offers consumers vastly expanded choices and often lower prices. Spearheaded by giants like Uber, present in at least 67 countries, and Airbnb which operates in 190 countries including Cuba, peer-to-peer platforms have the potential "to radically upend both how we consume goods and how we work to afford them," said the PwC report. Notable platforms include Task Rabbit (running errands), Hourly Nerds (computer consultants), Thumbtack (home repairs), Bon Appetour (home-cooked meals) and Washio (laundry). Services such as Instacart, Postmates and Grubhub deliver meals or groceries. "I see this as one stage in a progression representing how digital technologies are changing how we organize work, which has been going on for 30 years," said New York University professor Arun Sundararajan, who specializes in the subject. In the United States alone, some 18 million workers now earn a significant portion of their income outside of traditional employment, according to MBO Partners. And a study by financial software group Intuit found that 80 percent of large corporations plan to increase their use of a "flexible workforce" in coming years. Sundararajan says his research suggests people in digital labor markets often earn more than in traditional jobs. "The evidence I have seen is that wages tend to go up when the work is related to physical presence," as is the case with transportation, delivery or home services, he told AFP. With services that can be outsourced to distant locations, such as web design or translation, wages often fell. The people who stand to benefit most, said the NYU professor, are those struggling to make ends meet, and who are at or below median income. "These are people who can afford to take a vacation because they can rent their place on Airbnb, who can afford their car payments because they drive for a ridesharing service." Backers say the sharing platforms are largely self-regulating: users review providers for quality, providing incentives for good service while weeding out the bad ones. But that view is not universal, with Edith Ramirez, chairwoman of the US Federal Trade Commission, arguing recently that "targeted regulatory measures may be needed to ensure that these new business models have appropriate consumer protections". While many willingly embrace the job flexibility, meanwhile, the lack of a social safety net has raised concerns as traditional employment increasingly gives way to short-term "gig" work. Increasingly vocal critics worry that the protections of the traditional employer-worker relationship, hard-won over the course of decades, could be lost in the process. "This trend shifts all economic risks onto workers. A downturn in demand, or sudden change in consumer needs, or a personal injury or sickness, can make it impossible to pay the bills," says former US labor secretary Robert Reich on his blog. "It eliminates labor protections such as the minimum wage, worker safety, family and medical leave, and overtime. And it ends employer-financed insurance—Social Security, workers' compensation, unemployment benefits, and employer-provided health insurance." New ideas are springing up to address the problem of job security, with startups joining labor activists to endorse efforts for a "flexible safety net" for this new type of worker. A research report by Cornell University's Seth Harris and Princeton's Alan Krueger endorses the notion of a new classification of "independent workers" with portable social benefits. Proponents of the sharing economy argue however that the sector is moving so quickly that it would be a mistake to impose new regulations without careful consideration. "It's not clear that we have found the new models of labor that will dominate in the 21st century," Sundararajan said. "We have to be cautious about rushing into regulation." Explore further: Peers unveils products for workers in the sharing economy
BMW's CEO says that at some future point it will no longer make economic sense to keep adapting diesel engines to ever-tougher rules, but he isn't saying when. Harald Krueger was quoted Tuesday as telling German daily Handelsblatt that the European Union's fuel consumption and emission targets for 2020 and beyond can only be achieved with diesel. He added, however, that "the point will come in the future when it will simply be uneconomic to adapt the diesel drive ever further to the demands of increasingly ambitious legislation." Electric power will then play "the decisive role." Asked what effect the diesel emissions cheating scandal at Volkswagen has had at BMW, Krueger said there has been no impact yet on demand but it's too early to calculate the long-term consequences. Explore further: Germany: VW cars with suspect software in Europe too