Marker blog
Posted by admin at 5:00AM on 4/25/2012 with tags:

With all the hoopla surrounding natural gas/CNG in recent months, from T. Boone Pickens standing side-by-side with Miss. Gov. Phil Bryant to states considering natural gas-favoring legislation, you’d think natural gas vehicles were the best or only solution to America’s energy problems. That’s simply not the case.

We’ve posted about it before, but it bears repeating: propane vehicles are a viable alternative fuel technology, and propane autogas is the most widely used alternative fuel in the world, with nearly 18 million vehicles running on this clean, economical fuel.

Check out this infographic to learn more about the benefits and differences between autogas and natural gas on the Autogas for America website.

Marker blog

Electric vehicles (EVs) have recently attracted significant attention from the media, politicians, and environmentalists, but do EVs really live up to everything their manufacturers promise? Autogas for America released a new Alternative Fuel Fact Brief on November 25, examining the evidence behind the industry’s claims that EVs are viable, cost-effective and “zero-emission.”

The study questions electric vehicle’s environmental record, considering the greenhouse gases emitted during EV manufacturing. It points out that while EVs have no tailpipe emissions, they charge on U.S. electric grids that draw 50 percent of their power from coal. The Fact Brief also casts doubt on the practicality of EVs for public and private fleets, citing the technology’s struggles with limited carrying capacity, limited driving range and the high cost of their charging infrastructure. The study warns that experts believe an increase in EVs could overburden an already strained electric grid.

While electric vehicles hold many benefits over vehicles running on traditional fuels, the Fact Brief encourages consumers to consider other alternative energies which have more verified environmental and economic benefits and a proven record in American fleets.

Marker blog
Posted by admin at 9:30AM on 9/17/2011 with tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Currently, the car with the best gas mileage reaches about 50 miles a gallon. So, it came as a huge shock to the automotive industry when General Motors announced last year that their new electric-drive Chevy Volt would reach an EPA-rated 230 miles per gallon. But so far, journalists, industry experts and even the EPA are still at a loss to fully explain GM’s math.

The Chevrolet Volt is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, designed to run on electricity until its battery level drops. After that, a gasoline engine kicks in to power the car. According to GM, the Volt’s battery-only range would be about 40 miles, and the gasoline engine would have about 40 mpg.

How did GM reach this inflated figure? According to Motor Trend, GM used a proposed EPA measurement system that converts a vehicle’s kilowatt hours (kWh) to an equivalent in miles per gallon. Since GM predicted the Volt would consume 25 kWh per 100 miles, they calculated 230 miles per gallon. The EPA has since shied away from GM’s claims, officially rating the Volt at 37 kWh per 100 miles and announcing it had “not tested a Chevy Volt and therefore cannot confirm the fuel economy values claimed by GM.”

Journalists questioned the 230 mpg claim because the actual figure can change drastically depending on how the Volt is driven. For instance, CNN predicts that if a driver goes 300 miles with a fully charged battery, the fuel economy would actually be about 62.5 mpg. found that with the battery depleted the car averaged 31.1 mpg.  Edmunds ultimately called the Volt’s performance “seriously subpar when compared to the mid-40s mpg that a standard hybrid typically provides.”

Analysts say GM’s figures also overlook recharging and initial costs. GM has said 8 kWh are needed to travel 40 miles, which the Department of Energy says will cost around 88 cents per charge. While these costs may appear modest, reviewers like question the overall value since the Volt is far more expensive than other hybrids.

Ultimately, GM and other EV manufacturers need to justify the high price tag of their vehicles by providing buyers measurable fuel savings and a return on their investment. But, even the CEO of GM has questioned the Volt’s lasting value, saying it will be “an old, old technology and old news” in just five years.


Marker blog

According to a new study by psychologists at Germany’s Chemnitz University of Technology, drivers who regularly worry about an electric vehicles’s (EV) battery level don’t maximize their vehicle’s potential. The study found that worried drivers overcharged their EVs on a regular basis. However, the study didn’t address how overcharging can lower the vehicle’s battery life and potentially strain electric grids.

Feeling like you’re about to be stranded because your car runs out of juice is known as “range anxiety” in the EV business. The study at Chemnitz found drivers experienced range anxiety about once per month, and researchers proposed that feeling could worsen if there were no nearby public charging stations. EV manufacturers have long tried to dismiss consumers’ worry about insufficient mileage between charges. Then again, when new battery-electric cars like the Nissan Leaf lose power unexpectedly, range anxiety may be well founded.

The researchers discovered most drivers needlessly recharged their vehicle with 20 percent or more power left in the battery. This finding is important because frequent charging can overwhelm the electric infrastructure, which is already threatened by electric vehicles.

Experts estimate that EVs consume about a third of the power of a house, and warn that adding electric cars to a residential area could overwhelm transformers and even cause blackouts. A public charging network would ease drivers’ nerves, but would add an additional burden to the grid. EVs draw their power from a system that is not prepared to meet the increased demand.

Overcharging can also degrade EV’s battery at a higher rate. Fast charging a Nissan Leaf, for example, can decrease the battery life much faster than slow charging at home. And, replacing a dead EV battery isn’t cheap: a recent article from the UK states that a new battery pack could cost over $30,000.

With the harm overcharging can ultimately bring to their vehicles and the electric grid infrastructure, EV drivers unfortunately have more to worry about than just their range.

Image by Salvatore Vuono

If you liked this post, you might also like these posts:
Marker blog
  • Electric vehicles aren’t “zero-emissions” as advertised. Sure, EVs may have no tailpipe emissions, but when an EV plugs in, where does the energy come from? The fact is, almost 50 percent of our nation’s electricity is produced by coal. According to one new study, half of an EV’s lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions are produced during the manufacturing and shipping phase.
  • Alternative vehicle fuels aren’t just better for the environment, they’re better for your health. In some states, vehicle emissions constitute the largest source of air pollution like smog and ozone, which can lead to respiratory and other health issues. That’s why the American Lung Association promotes alternative fuel use.
  • Current technology cannot affordably harness enough renewable energy power to meet electricity demand. Also, while wind and hydro power are considered by some to be viable energy sources, researcher and author Vaclav Smil contends that these two sources could only supply a small portion of future energy demand. Together, all renewable energy sources only constitute 8% of current worldwide energy supply, according to Smil’s book.
  • Biofuels, such as ethanol, are not feasible future energy sources. With the challenges that global food supply is currently facing, we can no longer afford to use food as vehicle fuel while other alternatives are available. Many experts have linked redirected food supply used for producing corn-based ethanol to rising tortilla and livestock feed prices. “Ethanol is taking a larger and larger share of [corn] production,” says one agricultural economist.

To learn more about the differences between alternative fuels, view our Alternative Fuel Fact Briefs online.

PHOTO SOURCE: Project Seed

If you liked this post, you might also like these posts:
Marker blog


Autogas and Gasoline Prices, 2009-2011

It’s no secret that gasoline is expensive, but what many Americans don’t know is the cost of the alternative. Autogas for America released a new Alternative Fuel Fact Brief on Aug. 24. The paper highlights how propane autogas, while as practical to use as traditional fuels, is cheaper and cleaner than gasoline. The study considers the big picture, pointing out that high gasoline prices are not just a burden to the individual consumer, but are crippling an economic recovery.

The study demonstrates that gasoline is not only an expensive resource, but also a volatile one. While the cost of gasoline nearly doubled in 2009, autogas prices remained low and relatively flat. Gas started at $2, and jumped all over the board from there. Historically, autogas has cost about $1.25 per gallon less than gasoline, when including a 50-cent-per-gallon federal alternative fuel tax credit. Some states even provide tax incentives for using alternative fuels like autogas.

For organizations already burdened by strained budgets, the high price of and uncertainty surrounding oil can complicate planning for the future. Everything from turmoil in the Middle East to declines in foreign reserves can drive up the price of oil. However, 90 percent of the U.S. autogas supply is made in America. While prices at the pump reflect instant savings for autogas fleets, autogas has also produced long-term savings. Vehicles running on autogas have been on American roads for years now, and real-world case studies show as much as $145,000 in annual fuel savings for fleets making the switch from gasoline to autogas.

The cost savings from autogas use offer more than just the immediate rollback for the consumer.  Lowering fixed costs like fuel expenses helps to create and save jobs, support a green energy economy and boost a company’s bottom line.

For a comprehensive look at the differences between autogas and gasoline, visit the Resources page of the Autogas for America website.



Marker blog

nissanleafIf you fast charge your Nissan Leaf more than once per week, you could see a decrease in your vehicle battery life by several years.

Mark Perry, Nissan’s director of product planning, said, “If fast charging is the primary way that a Leaf owner recharges, then the gradual capacity loss is about 10 percent more than 220-volt charging. In other words, it will bring the capacity…closer to 70 percent after 10 years.”

The same article also states that an average Lithium-Ion battery cell in an electric cycle has about 1,000 full cycles before it is classified as reaching its “end of life” (EOL).  If you fast charge your Leaf more than twice a week, however, the battery’s EOL could arrive much more quickly. Since the lifespan of the battery is determined by a fixed number of charge cycles, more frequent charging effectively ‘uses up’ battery capabilities more quickly.

According to the industry, a battery has reached its EOL after it has lost 20 percent of its original storage capacity, meaning a charging capacity of 80 percent, which occurs in about 10 years without frequently fast charging an EV.

With all the expenses of electric vehicles (and they seem to be making them more expensive over time), the cost of a replacement battery brings yet another cost into the mix if you want your EV to keep running. In fact, according to a recent British article, it could cost you up to £19,000 to purchase a new battery pack, which would be about $30,645 in U.S. dollars. Indeed, Nissan has stated the production costs for a replacement Leaf battery are around $18,000 – but has declined to say on its website how much a replacement battery would cost the consumer.

And it seems other automotive buffs are questioning the viability of the Leaf’s battery. As Daryl Siry wrote in a blog for

“It also appears that Nissan has cut corners on the most critical aspects of electric vehicle technology – the battery pack.”

Photo Source:

If you liked this post, you might also like these posts:
Marker blog

A few weeks ago, we mentioned the misleading Nissan Leaf commercial that told the story of the gracious polar bear on his quest to thank those who drive green. Apparently Hollywood doesn’t mind that Nissan’s “zero emissions” push might not be accurate, because the commercial has received an Emmy nomination.

While this commercial does make the point that we should be doing all we can for the environment (including lowering emissions), it deceives viewers and polar bears alike. The ad claims the Nissan Leaf is “zero-emissions,” though that isn’t entirely true. Electric vehicles (EVs) may be (or may not be) better for the environment than conventional gasoline vehicles, but all they can claim is zero “tailpipe emissions.” The energy that powers their batteries is produced by a national energy mix that relies heavily on coal. In fact, according to the EPA’s blog, as of 2009, 20 U.S. states generated more than half of their energy from coal; states such as West Virginia, Indiana and Kentucky were generating more than 90 percent of their power from coal.

And the polar bear ad isn’t the only example of Hollywood and the mainstream media pushing alternative energy misconceptions. This Wall Street Journal article interviewing the director of the new Pixar movie “Cars 2” has him superficially remarking about alternative fuels, “Why isn’t everybody jumping on that bandwagon? It makes so much sense: Electricity, solar, whatever. There’s ethanol. There’s all this stuff you could be doing.”

In a way, he’s right – there is “all this stuff you could be doing,” but all his suggestions are currently unviable technologies. However, there are other options that are more viable than electric, ethanol, or hydrogen cars. Domestic alternative fuels such as propane autogas are clean, affordable and American made; OEM autogas vehicles and aftermarket vehicle conversions available right now.

Many alternative fuels are currently too expensive to implement or range and performance issues remain. Autogas is providing fleets the most bang for their buck, with autogas vehicles having up to 90 percent the range of gasoline vehicles and no loss in vehicle performance.

If the media truly wants to support alternative fuel technologies, they should do more research and figure out that EVs aren’t the only ones helping the environment.

Marker blog

Electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers are working hard to get their say in today’s competitive alternative vehicle market, and now it looks like the cars themselves are going to have to speak up.

One of the more noticeable traits – maybe because it is not so noticeable – of an EV is that they produce almost no sound. However, due to concerns over safety, companies such as Warwick Manufacturing Group are designing and testing sounds to be added to EVs.

“Electric vehicles and hybrids are alarmingly quiet,” said Warwick’s Paul Jennings. “The concern is that as a road user, as a pedestrian or as a cyclist, we’re just not aware of their presence. And therefore there’s a real danger that there could be an accident.”

Jennings further explained that sounds they are testing range from regular “car” noises to sounds from “The Jetsons.” Once they have a noise, they test them in their car, named Elvin.

Clotaire Rapaille, consultant for the automotive industry, thought this idea sounded like music to her ears.

“Think of all the possibilities that are suddenly open,” she said. “We have different ring tones for different cell phones; we can have different sounds for different kinds of cars.”

While safety is important, noise emissions shouldn’t be the only thing that electric vehicles are worried about. In an article published on the American Fuel Facts blog, we describe how EVs may be worse for the environment than gasoline vehicles when energy-sapping batteries are factored into the equation.

Zero-noise and zero-emissions both sound nice, but it looks like neither may turn out to be in our future.

Marker blog
Posted by admin at 5:08PM on 6/24/2011 with tags: , , , , , , ,

A recent British study has questioned the environmental benefits of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and has gone so far as to claim they may be dirtier than gasoline vehicles. While this statement may baffle those who have seen automakers’ touting “zero emissions” EVs (view our June 2nd post about Nissan), the study goes on to say that nearly half of an electric vehicle’s emissions are produced during the manufacturing process, before the car has ever been driven. EVs require multiple batteries to operate – batteries that greatly increase the amount of energy needed and pollution created by the factory.

Of course, the other portion of EV emissions is created when the vehicle’s battery is charging. Since much of the world’s electricity is sourced from dirty sources such as coal, the EV’s emissions are simply being transferred from the road to the area around the power plant.

One place this study’s findings might be (indirectly) tested is in Australia where PEV manufacturer Tesla is attempting to break the national record for the longest road trip by an electric vehicle with its all-electric “Roadster.” It will be recharged along the way with renewable energy sources such as solar, hydro and wind to illustrate the low emissions capabilities of the vehicle. Critics of the project, such as automotive expert and editor of New Zealand’s sardonic Dog and Lemon Guide Clive Matthew-Wilson, say that the car isn’t as environmentally conscious as Tesla would have you believe. “Burning coal to make electricity to power an electric car creates more pollution than if you simply powered the same vehicle using petrol [gasoline],” Matthew-Wilson said.

This study was among the first to complete an analysis of  the energy-intensity of producing batteries when calculating EV life-cycle emissions. Given that this and other recent studies have targeted EVs’ green credentials lately, shifting from gasoline to mass production of EVs may be too ambitious for now – which only furthers the case for using American-made, clean-burning alternative fuels like autogas and natural gas.

To make the way for a true clean energy future with PEVs, America would need to overhaul its energy grids and greatly expand renewable energy use. The disparity between EVs’ actual contribution to lowering emissions and EV proponents’ dream of what it could be does not mean we’re stuck with gasoline in 2011– autogas is right here, right now.

More... Return...