ULEMCO Converts Ford Transit Vans into Hydrogen Diesel Hybrids

ULEMCo, the ultra-low emissions vehicle company, has started converting white Ford Transit Vans into hydrogen diesel hybrids instead of vehicles that solely run on diesel fuel. This conversion has resulted in 70-percent lower carbon dioxide emissions for the vans.

According to ULEMCo, “In the tests, Ford Transit vans converted to hydrogen diesel hybrid achieved emissions of 59g/km of carbon dioxide, some 70% lower than a typical diesel Transit. Harmful nitrous oxide emissions were reduced by 40%.

“Using the dual fuel conversion, van operators can continue to use the full tank of diesel after the store of hydrogen is used up, extending their total range to as much as 700 miles between fill ups. Importantly, the conversion kit takes up no valuable cargo space as it fits underneath the vehicle. The van’s driving performance is not affected.”

The drivers of the vans can run for 200 miles on hydrogen fuel before automatically switching over to diesel. Another advantage for fleets is that the hydrogen equipment can be switched over to other vehicles as the fleets upgrade and acquire more vehicles.


Toyota to Triple Number of Mirai Fuel Cell Vehicles

In Japan’s Aichi Prefecture, Toyota will be adding a couple more assembly lines by the end of 2015 to handle the demand for its Mirai fuel cell vehicles, an investment of over $165 million. On next Monday, December 15, 2014, Toyota has stated that they will begin manufacturing the first commercial Mirai cars in this Prefecture.

According to Nikkei, “Exports to the U.S. and Europe are also expected to begin in the summer of 2015. Especially in California, regulations that promote zero-emissions vehicles are seen creating a tailwind. Toyota’s current capacity will not be enough to meet brisk demand at home and in the U.S.

“Toyota plans to sell 400 Mirais in Japan by the end of 2015. In the U.S., it seeks to move 3,000 units or more by the end of 2017. In Europe, the plan is to sell 50 to 100 units a year around 2016.”

The Hyundai ix35 Tucson fuel cell vehicle is a commercial vehicle already available for lease in Southern California. With the Toyota Mirai commercially available in the summer of 2015 in California, this will spur the building of hydrogen fueling stations in that state.

In fact, today in West Sacramento, CA the first public hydrogen fueling station in Northern California is being unveiled at a Ramos Oil Company facility. This will be the first of many to be opened publicly in the Golden State within the next couple of years.


200 Mirais Will Be Manufactured at Toyota’s Secret Plant

In a secret assembly plant in Toyota City, Japan, Toyota will be making 200 Mirai fuel cell vehicles to order by master craftsmen. The plant was previously used to create 500 Lexus LFA V10 sports cars which sold for approximately $375,000 each.

According to AutoNews, “Toyota Motor Corp. has struggled to fill the void at the secretive workshop in Japan where the Lexus LFA was assembled ever since the last $375,000 sports car rolled off a line in December 2012. Now, it finally has landed a new product, one just as niche and high profile: Toyota’s new Mirai hydrogen fuel cell sedan.

“The backlot LFA Works at Toyota’s Motomachi assembly plant in Toyota City has been tasked with hand building the limited-run car partly because of its craftsmanship and attention to detail. And also because the Mirai, with its dedicated platform and hydrogen-powered drivetrain replete with mammoth fuel tanks, is better built by hand than in Toyota’s ultra-efficient factories.”

The 200 Toyota Mirai fuel cell vehicles that have been pre-ordered will be used in corporate and government fleets. Another reason the Mirai is being hand built is so that the car meets customer demand and is not over-produced.


It’s Official, the New Toyota FCV Is Called Mirai

Yesterday in Newport Beach, California Toyota President and CEO Akio Toyoda announced officially that the company’s new commercial fuel cell vehicle will be called Mirai (which means future). This isn’t a big surprise, since on July 31, 2014 word had leaked out unofficially that Toyota would be going with this name.

But, wait, there’s more …

According to Toyota, “Of course, the car of the future won’t become a reality without the hydrogen stations to support it. That’s why Toyota North America chief executive officer (CEO) Jim Lentz announced a new commitment to drive the development of a hydrogen refueling infrastructure in five northeastern U.S. states.

“To support Mirai’s introduction to the region in 2016, Toyota is collaborating with Air Liquide to develop and supply a phased network of 12 state-of-the-art hydrogen stations targeted for New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. The states and locations have been strategically selected in the greater New York and Boston areas to provide the backbone of a hydrogen highway for the Northeast corridor. Specific details of the collaboration will be revealed in the coming months.”

Toyota also has a worth- see video on their website where Akio Toyoda talks and shows the history of R&D that went into making the Mirai. See the press release and video here.


Mercedes-Benz G-Code Hydrogen Concept Unveiled

The Mercedes-Benz Vision G-Code Concept has been unveiled coinciding with the company’s R&D center in Beijing, China. This subcompact crossover concept has been designed to attract the younger Chinese drivers.

According to Benz Insider, “Based from the images and information provided by the German automaker, the G-Code will be designed as a Sports Utility Coupe. It will measure 161 inches, which is even shorter than the GLA—the brand’s smallest crossover so far.

“Not much was revealed about the engine specs of the compact crossover concept. However, the plan is to equip the auto with a turbocharged combustion engine powered by hydrogen. Then, the power will emanate from the front wheels. Also, it will carry an electric motor that will drive the rear axle and transmit its power selectively to the two wheels using a dual multi-disc clutch.”

A couple other notable features of the Mercedes G-Code Concept are the silver finish on the body of the vehicle serves as a solar panel and the holographic grille which gives the car the ‘cool’ factor.






Sainsbury Supermarket to Receive Hydrogen Fueling Dispenser

In the UK, the Sainsbury grocery chain has announced it will receive the country’s first hydrogen fueling dispenser located at a supermarket. The dispenser will be built by specialty gas maker Air Products.

According to Air Products, “Sainsbury’s has announced the UK’s first supermarket forecourt hydrogen dispenser will be located at its Hendon store by the end of the year. Working with global leaders in hydrogen infrastructure, Air Products, the new dispenser will join a network of existing stations helping bring a breath of fresh air to residents and visitors in London and the South East.

“The SmartFuel® station will be able to fuel a growing number of hydrogen-powered fleets driving around the Capital. From hydrogen-powered buses running between Covent Garden and Tower Gateway, to hybrid delivery vans operated by Commerical Group and hydrogen powered taxis already driving on London’s roads; it is clear hydrogen isn’t a fuel of the future, it’s a fuel for today.”

The Sainsbury 700-bar SmartFuel® hydrogen fueling dispenser will be part of a larger network of H2 fueling stations around London that will be supporting the commercial fuel cell vehicles that will be rolling out in that area over the next several years.


Riversimple FCV Developed in the Cloud

Open source hydrogen car maker, Riversimple is now designing its vehicle with the help cloud computing. The software of choice is Cadonix, a state-of-the-art cloud-based CAD app for the automotive industry.

According to Electronics Weekly, “The firm is developing a two-seater local network electric car, powered by hydrogen fuel cells and with a body made from composite materials.

“R&D is led out of Wales by an engineering team drawn from top automotive, aerospace and motor racing; design is led by Chris Reitz, former design chief for the Fiat 500, with his team at their studio in Barcelona. The team is aiming for fuel efficiency of more than 200mpg, a range of 300 miles, 0-30mph in 5.5 seconds, and a cruising speed of 55 mph.”

The Riversimple car (pictured at top) is scheduled to be released for lease next year. The lease will include maintenance, insurance and fuel with the monthly cost of an average car.


President Putin prods hydrail ahead

by guest blogger Stan Thompson

By fiddling with his oil faucets and natural gas valves, Vladimir Putin may be having the same unintended acceleration effect on Europe’s diesel-to-hydrail transition that John L. Lewis had on the coal-to-diesel transition in the USA during the last century.

Recently I’ve heard two ambassadors from European countries explaining to American audiences what ails the EU’s economy. Putin’s delight in brandishing his oil and gas withholding leverage figures prominently. Casting diplomacy to the winds, one ambassador referred to Putin’s grasp of the situation using a homely metaphor having to do with seizing private body parts.

It’s been observed that Putin sees himself playing chess while President Obama is playing checkers. It won’t have escaped Putin’s notice that the forty Alstom HMU (Hydrail Multiple Unit) trains that Northern Germany will see by 2020 means the permanent loss of some fraction (not even a pawn’s worth) of his rail diesel export revenue.

He may not, however, have tumbled to the probability that those first forty hydrail trains amount to a rolling snowball at the top of an Alp.

Long ago, Europe honed railway electrification to a fine edge. But, ever since the end of steam, the trackage beyond the wire’s end has been diesel. If Europe had no fear of uncertain oil supplies or price manipulation, the high cost of maintaining wayside electrification plant might easliy have tipped the balance of the climate menace in diesel’s favor.

But North Germany’s superabundance of night-time wind turbine energy—readily expressed as hydrogen gas—is a natural hydrail fuel source. That means the track beyond the catenary will not always rely on Putin’s oil.

By making the rail diesel supply more problematic, he’s made the transition to hydrail less so.

When Vossloh, the high-tech German locomotive manufacturer, rolled-out their new D18 model, they made it “Future-Proof” by designing-in a hydrail prime-mover option. By so doing, they made their locomotive potentially Putin-proof as well.

In 2006 Vladimir Putin was in his second term as President and Mikhail Yefimovich Fradkov (later head of Russia’s Foreign Inteligence Service) was Prime Minister. That was the year that the Second International Hydrail Conference was convened in Herning, Denmark. “2IHC” was hosted by Danish scientists interested in using Jutland’s ample wind energy to re-power the diesel rail line from Vemb to Thyborøn, making it the world’s first hydrail passenger service.

In that more relaxed time, Ms. Sandy Kaiser, the US Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission (second only to the Ambassador) gave the opening speech at 2IHC.  Russian Railways sent a delegation of nine—by far the largest delegation ever sent to a Hydrail Conference. The proceedings were conducted in English and simultaneously translated into Russian.

A year later the Danish hydrail vision was eclipsed by the sunset of the world economy (not to say the dawn of the Great Recession). Iceland (founded by Danes) had been planning to achieve the world’s first zero-carbon national energy economy. But their sovereign wealth funds were invested heavily in bundled US mortgages adulterated with sub-prime funnymoney debt. Ironically, in Iceland’s fiscal crisis, Russia made them a big bail-out loan, sourced—one supposes—in oil revenues!

In the 1940’s, when most intercity passenger transportation was still by rail and rail was still powered by coal, United Mine Workers’ President John L. Lewis had the same rather personal grip on America that Putin (per the ambassador’s speech) has on Europe today. In the chaos that resulted, the painful grip was pried loose, in part, by converting some locomotives from coal to oil.

Very likely no hydrail intelligence at all percolated up to the former KGB pro and chess champ back in 2006. But Vladimir Putin might do well to note how the “United States versus John L Lewis” game eventually played out.

Daimler a Dozen in Regard to Hydrogen Cars

On October 3, the Wall Street Journal ran an article titled, “Daimler, Renault Chiefs Knock Hydrogen Cars” which isn’t exactly true, especially the Daimler part.

Chief executive of Daimler AG Dieter Zetsche, said that he is concerned about the rollout of the hydrogen fueling infrastructure to support the cars and that all of the major car companies with fuel cell vehicles need to be on the same page.

While Toyota, Honda and Hyundai have gotten much attention for their fuel cell vehicles, it’s Daimler AG that has built the largest fleet of hydrogen cars worldwide. The Daimler Mercedes-Benz B-class F-Cell is pictured above.

According to AutoCar India, “Produced under series production conditions, the Mercedes-Benz B-class F-Cell has already been in day-to-day use with customers in the European and American markets since 2010. Today, the total mileage of the Daimler fuel cell fleet, which now numbers more than 300 vehicles, including numerous research vehicles, reaches far more than nine million kilometres, the company has said.

“Based on the current and pending results, Mercedes engineers expect to identify further potential for optimisation, which will flow directly into the development of the next generation of fuel cell electric vehicles. The company has the clear objective to develop a common drive train in cooperation with Ford and Nissan, and to bring competitive fuel cell electric vehicles in large numbers on the streets by 2017.”

So clearly, Dieter Zetsche is not knocking hydrogen cars as his company currently owns the world’s largest fleet. He simply wants a strategic plan that involves all of the fuel cell car companies with the same vision for rolling out the supporting infrastructure in the months and years to come.


$100 for a Chance to Win a Toyota Fuel Cell Vehicle


For the cost of a $100 raffle ticket, one lucky Californian will win a Toyota Fuel Cell vehicle which rolls out next summer. As of this writing 12 out of 1000 tickets have been sold and there are 9 days and 12 hours remaining in the raffle.

According to Toyota, “Toyota and the Environmental Media Association (EMA) are offering a historic opportunity to own the company’s first zero-emission hydrogen vehicle when it arrives in California in late 2015. Toyota is the first major auto manufacturer to give away a fuel cell vehicle to an individual owner.

“As the infrastructure to support the vehicle is currently only available in the golden state, prize applicants must be California residents. Residents can purchase opportunities to win at www.biddingforgood.com for a cost of $100 per ticket or $500 for six. All monies raised will benefit programs of the EMA, a nonprofit 501(c)3 dedicated to harnessing the power of celebrity and the media to promote sustainable lifestyles.”

The winner will be announced on October 18, 2014 at the Warner Brothers Studio in Burbank, CA during the 24th annual EMA Awards.


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