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Hybrid Fleet Vehicles

michael posted more than 9 years ago | from the save-a-joule-or-two dept.

Businesses 191

howman writes "This article in the Toronto Star tells of a Canadian company called Azure Dynamics Corp. which has a novel approach to cutting fuel costs and harmful emissions in fleet vehicles. The novelty is not so much in their technology but in the fact that they are hitting the fleet vehicle users market. While Azure doesn't manufacture any of the components, it 'works with the companies that make all the parts for Canada Post's trucks or Purolator's vans - the engines, the chassis, and so on - to convert those vehicles into HEVs.' With an existing and potential client list that includes Purolator, Canada Post, the United States Postal Service and Renault and London Taxi International, it may not be long before you see one of their branded vehicles on a street near you."

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191 comments

Last Post! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9276255)

Please do not post anything below this post. Thanks.

Re:Last Post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9276263)

Your mom gives lousy head.

But then, you already knew that.

Re:Last Post! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9276278)

I know, I know. But it's better if you ask her to remove her dentures before.

aluminium batteries (5, Interesting)

lkcl (517947) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276260)

only when partenan cells are available will any kind of EV be viable. http://www.europositron.com

Re:aluminium batteries (2, Insightful)

Bushcat (615449) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276286)

I dunno, my milk and mail was delivered reliably every morning by EV decades ago.

Electric vehicles are viable now. (3, Insightful)

Moderation abuser (184013) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276709)

250-400 mile ranges are possible using existing battery technology. You can buy vehicles now which will do that at motorway speeds. Pretty much in line with current petrol vehicles.

That said, the batteries are not your standard lead/acid ones and are still very expensive, but that's purely down to the manufacturing capacity.

Re:aluminium batteries (3, Insightful)

cstream_chris (776009) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276938)

Don't forget to charge up your batteries for an electric car with that electricity created by coal. Coal accounts for 50%+ of the electricity in the US.

I hate my girlfriend! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9276264)

A partial list of things I hate about Erica:

She thinks she's funny

She has four of every color tank top in existence

She sleeps with fake dogs (one of which has a hard face)

She constantly buys bad DVDs and doesn't watch them even ONCE

She doesn't like to listen to loud music in the house or car

She's obsessed with losing Red Sox ticket auctions on eBay

When she goes to McDonalds she gets three cheese burgers, two fajitas (I can't believe they have those), a 12 piece nugget, and pepperoni pizza happy meal

I was playing Nirvana's unplugged album the other day and she didn't know what I was listening to

Anyone got any advice?!

Re:I hate my girlfriend! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9276293)

Kill her. Kill her and eat her. That way she will always be a part of you.

The soft, juicy brain is where she keeps her super powers. Eat that last, and you will become more powerful than you could possibly imagine!

Re:I hate my girlfriend! (0, Offtopic)

grub (11606) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276353)

hahaha! Oh man, that caught me so offguard. Thanks for my Friday morning burst of laughter. (bye bye karma)

Re:I hate my girlfriend! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9276308)

Does she give good head? When she gets nasty, just tell her "shut up and *suck*, bitch!"

Re:I hate my girlfriend! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9276341)

ummmm dump her ass???

Re:I hate my girlfriend! (-1, Offtopic)

Inda (580031) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276432)

Sounds like a normal woman to me. Maybe you are gay?

Friday is burn Karma day. I have plenty to burn and moderating twice a week is getting to be a chore.

Re:I hate my girlfriend! (-1, Offtopic)

Patrik_AKA_RedX (624423) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276542)

She constantly buys bad DVDs and doesn't watch them even ONCE
Wait, isn't that a good thing? I would expect you would hate it if she did watch them.
Anyone got any advice?!
How about you 2 start communicating? If you can't communicate in a relationship, it won't last very long. You want advice? Find a quite place and spend a few hours discussing your differences without yelling or being childish. After that you'll either have a healthy relationship, or you'll break up.

And another free advice: Don't ask for relation advice on /. It's like asking Saddam advice on human rights.

Re:I hate my girlfriend! (-1, Offtopic)

Rick.C (626083) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276625)

Anyone got any advice?!

Get her a puppy. A cute, cuddly one. A yellow Lab might be a good choice.

Then get yourself a puppy. Name it "Erica".

You'll both be happier - trust me.

Critical Mass (5, Insightful)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276267)

Here in Rhode Island, USA, we have several propane filling stations, however they're all clearly marked "State Vehicles Only". So while its nice to see the State Troopers and trolley buses cruising around on propane, there needs to be more filling stations, and they need to be available to the general public.
These sorts of alternative energy options always require a certain critical mass, or number of cars, or number of users, before they're economically viable. (No comments from the anti-gasoline tinfoil hat crowd, please)

Re:Critical Mass (4, Informative)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276358)

Indeed, targeting fleet vehicles seems like a good way to convince the public that HEV technology is a viable solution. People drive them on the job, and if they have a good experience will see that it's not so bad. Then when it comes time to buy a new car they might consider a HEV of their own.

As for propane, here in NY my company just finished a job converting a school bus garage to be "explosion proof" as they were getting new busses that run off of compressed natural gas. The district is buying 20 busses a year until their entire fleet is replaced with the new CNG busses.

The advantage of HEVs, though, is that they still burn gasoline, and as such the fuel supply infastructure is already widely established. Going with CNG or Propane requires a whole new infastructure.
=Smidge=

Re:Critical Mass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9276640)

Fleet vehicles also increases the number of units manufactured, which drives down costs through economies of scale. Also, when you place an order for a fleet of vehicles, the manufacturer is pretty much (but not always!) guaranteed that those units are already sold, which avoids excess unsold inventory. Good for the manufacturer. It's also good for the buyer, who typically gets a nice volume discount.

Re:Critical Mass (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276737)

CNG requires minimal infrastructure improvements. Most parts of the US have high pressure natural gas available so all that is needed is a holding vessel and pumps. Beyond that it is possible to make a vehicle which will run on either gasoline/gas or diesel/gas. For more info on so called Bi-fuel vehicles see this [fueleconomy.gov] government link. Such vehicles make TONS of sense for fleet vehicles as they can run on cleaner cheaper fuel when available but also can use standard fuel if away from the alternative stations for extended periods of time.

Re:Critical Mass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9277249)

Beyond that it is possible to make a vehicle which will run on either gasoline/gas or diesel/gas. Such vehicles make TONS of sense for fleet vehicles

Stop right there!

We had a bi-fuel fleet vehicle and it was stupid. You need two tanks, so they put the propane tank in the cargo area. It was a station wagon you couldn't haul cargo in. Everyone avoided it and took the more poluting pickup truck.

I'm all for propane fuel, but having two tanks full of fuel is a huge waste.

dual fuel quite possible (5, Informative)

zogger (617870) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276372)

There's a variety of dual fuel carbs out there for normal vehicles. Using either gasoline, or gas and/or propane or natural gas. I looked into it before for my van with a chevy 350, normal carb. At the time, several years ago now, the conversion was around 300$ I think.
Here's a Google link for dual fuel, propane [google.com]
As for finding propane for a fill up, it's not that hard, most yellow pages will direct you to your local outlet for bulk filling. Not near as many as for a normal gas station, but every community in the US probably has some place you get get propane. I've had to find the places a lot, my van and my RV both have propane tanks (just for the camping accessories right now), and I've never had a hard time finding propane. And for that matter, it might not be that hard to have a big bulk tank put in in your back yard, have the truck top it off occassionally, and do your own "fill up" right at home with the appropriate extra gear installed. A nice way to buy when it's cheap and have a good reserve handy.
/me = remembers OPEC boycott and sudden "no gas" very clearly

Re:dual fuel quite possible (5, Interesting)

2000 Britneys (549923) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276517)

Few years back I had a dual fule Oldsmobile and it was working very very well. The fill up were no problem since most of gas stations in Canada do indeed have propane available at all times. Also it was much much cheaper to run a vehicle on propane.

As for your idea of having your own "bulk" tank in the backyard I don't think it is possible. To fill up a car you need to have a certification at least here in Canada.

For the people that say propane is explosive and might be a danger to the public if you have big "bulk" tanks I had a guy show me how to extinguish
fire with liquid propane. It worked. Apparently propane has much higher ignition point then reg gas
it is a lot safer to use. Plus all the tanks in the vehicles have safety devices that will prevent leaks from the tank unless the tank itself is physically damaged.

Re:dual fuel quite possible (1)

TykeClone (668449) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276581)

But once it's burning, it's scary - especially if the fire is on the tank. Once enough pressure is built up, all sorts of bad things happen.

Re:dual fuel quite possible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9276689)

So you require that these tanks have an automatic fire suppression system and some sort of leak/overpressure detection.

Yeah, it adds to the cost of the tank. Making it safer is a good thing.

Re:dual fuel quite possible (1)

ivrcti (535150) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276712)

Here in the states, there is almost always a community limit to the size of propane tank you can keep on a residential property. The commercial tanks (2-5000 gallons) have the potential for HUGE explosions that in the worst case scenario could take out your block.

Re:Critical Mass (2, Informative)

AmigaAvenger (210519) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276405)

As an experienced second-hand user of CNG (parents drove fleet CNG vehicles) I can personally say i would not want CNG anywhere close to my vehicle! The added weight for the tanks is incredible, and the engines average 50000-80000 miles before they have no compression left. (And don't get me started about the bomb qualities, 8 - 6 foot tanks about a foot in diameter, at 2000 psi. KABOOM!)

Liquid gasoline has some properties that modern engines rely on, lubrication and cooling mainly. it doesn't provide much, but what it does provide makes the difference between 200k+ miles or 50k.

Re:Critical Mass (5, Interesting)

swordboy (472941) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276474)

The problem with propane (or natural gas, for that matter) is two-fold:

1) You are still burning nitrogen, which creates NOx emissions [google.com] (bad).
2) Nonrenewable

Hydrogen and fuel cells are clearly the future. My vision is that some enterprising inventor will come up with a high-density method for storing hydrogen, at which point high-capacity hydrogen batteries will be possible. As I pointed out yesterday [slashdot.org], NiMH batteries are just closed loop hydrogen fuel cells. With a high-density hydrogen storage solution, you could have a battery-powered car which could travel several thousand miles between charges, which would likely consist of swapping out the battery pack.

This would work well with out existing infrastructure. Power plants typically idle down to very inefficient ranges during the night time hours. These plants could simply use the excess electrical capacity at night in order to separate hydrogen from water. This hydrogen could be stored in said high-density storage solution and stored in battery packs. These battery packs could be used in all sorts of stuff from automobiles to houses (making note that the "grid" is where most of our energy is consumed today - it is very inefficient).

Re:Critical Mass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9276513)

>1) You are still burning nitrogen, which creates NOx emissions (bad).

And how does H2 solve the nox problem? Are you going to have a dedicated O2 tank as well?

Re:Critical Mass (1)

Dr. Evil (3501) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276630)

>1) You are still burning nitrogen, which creates NOx emissions (bad).

And how does H2 solve the nox problem? Are you going to have a dedicated O2 tank as well?

I don't think the burning is the problem, it's the combustion... Even if you were burning gasoline to generate steam, you'd be better off, it would burn much more cleanly than in an internal combustion engine.

"Hydrogen economy" style solutions have all typically been fuel cells... which doesn't have the same problems as combustion. I don't know of an IC hydrogen engine, but I don't doubt it would spew some bad stuff.

Even a gasoline fuel cell would be better than a gasoline IC engine... Chrysler was working on that for a little while, but I think the environmentalists screamed too loudly that it doesn't solve the extraction and transportation environmental issues... but I thought it was an awesome idea.

One step better would be biodiesel fuel-cells. There's some research going on with diesel fuel cells (just type \"diesel fuel cell\" in Google) but I haven't seen anyone specifically targeting biodiesel. There could be some devilish problem with the system I'm not aware of, but what would be nice is that you can use the existing diesel infrastructure to fuel-up consumer vehicles, while at the same time advancing electric fuel cell technology, reducing emissions and leaving the door open for a simple fuel conversion to biodiesel.

I could of course be very wrong.

Re:Critical Mass (0)

clarkcox3 (194009) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276952)

>>1) You are still burning nitrogen, which creates NOx emissions (bad). >And how does H2 solve the nox problem? Umm, if you burn H2, you get H20. Then there is no problem with nitrous-oxides. >Are you going to have a dedicated O2 tank as well? You do realize that there is oxygen in the air we breathe ...

Re:Critical Mass (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 9 years ago | (#9277212)

the NOx comes from burning the nitrogen in air; it does not come from the fuel. It occurs anytime the combustion temperatures get above a certain point; and, Hydrogen burning can most definitely reach those temperatures.

Re:Critical Mass (3, Insightful)

shreak (248275) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276653)

Hydorgen fuel cells are not a fuel, they are a storage mechanism. Where do you get the Hydrogen to fuel your fuel cell? Probably from a non-renewable hydrocarbon (like propane or butane) or from an energy company that produces your hydrogen compound by using traditional energy sources (electricity from oil or coal).

Hopefully there will be an efficiency gain due to economies of scale (produce lots of power in one place and distribute it) But don't make the mistake of thinking that by moving around where the petrolium fuel is produced that the problem is gone.

=Shreak

Re:Critical Mass (3, Interesting)

green1 (322787) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276560)

I find this interesting, where I live (Canada) I actually have trouble thinking of a gas station that does NOT sell propane... the primary role of these filling stations seems to be for barbeque tanks and for motorhome accessories, however this is also where propane vehicles fill...

propane conversions were really popular here in the 80's, but demand has lessened signifigantly, propane conversions are expenzive, and your mileage is less, so even with the signifigantly cheaper cost of propane, you never recover from the initial cost of the conversion unless you put on a LOT of miles. There's also the disadvantage that you can't park in any covered parkade (they're worried about a possible leak as propane is heavier than air and will pool in lowlying areas instead of properly dissipating)...

A large number of taxis still use propane, and some police cars (though they seem to be giving up on it too these days)

Our transit system experimented with natural gas powered busses for a few years, but they gave up on that one too, apparently it took hours to fill the tanks, and the busses were constantly in for service, those that are still on the road are running off of their gasoline tanks only (they were all dual fuel). about the only vehicles I see on the streets on a regular basis that run on natural gas are those owned by our local natural gas supplier, and even they haven't converted their entire fleet.

things aren't looking entirely gloomy for alternative fuels though, just today our transit system released a press release saying they're trialing a diesel-electric hybrid bus... we'll see how that goes...

Great idea! (3, Insightful)

Mz6 (741941) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276272)

This is probably one of the best business idea I have read in a while. They stay away from actually producing the products that will make up the car, but they build the packages to transform the car into a HEV. I think that's just brilliant!

Good idea (4, Insightful)

JosKarith (757063) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276282)

Of course the Stop-Start kind of driving that these vehicles will be doing is perfect for hybrids.

Re:Good idea (5, Funny)

Trigun (685027) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276304)

Stop and start? This is in Canada, where it's sixty kilo-meters in between igloos.

Re:Good idea (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276451)

Stop and start? This is in Canada, where it's sixty kilo-meters in between igloos.

What? You expect them to run over every polar bear, moose and wolverine they cross between igloos?

Good idea indeed (5, Informative)

the_twisted_pair (741815) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276362)

..And I have to say the hybrid approach probably makes better sense than a 'pure' EV given the scale of American cities.

Here in the UK electric vehicles have long been a feature of the townscape - Doorstep milk deliveries were always carried out by the huge (10,000+ at peak IIRC) fleet of 'milk floats' operated by the major dairies (this service is now in decline, killed by supermarkets). EVs just makes so much sense for such start/stop urban use, and for early in the morning - they're near-silent.

Fortunately, the advantages are recognised - many local councils are experimenting with newer EVs and hybrids for the obvious reasons in town centres. Here in Bristol there is a fair percentage of council-operated natural-gas powered vans, and experimental conversions of diesel city buses.

only the BIG companies are able to do this... (3, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276294)

What's more, Azure makes plain that its customers must put their money where their mouth is. Interested parties have to commit up front that they'll place an order before Azure builds a prototype; if Azure achieves what it promises in emission reductions and fuel-cost savings, the customer has to pay for and receive the order.

"There are lots of tire-kickers, but if we perform, they agree to buy," said Deacon.


While their potential/interested clients are big ones it seems like a lot to ask in order to get a fleet out there for you.

Analysts believe Azure will make it. MacMurray is forecasting the company to lift itself out of the red by 2007 -- mainly because demand for hybrid vehicles that rely less on gasoline and don't pollute as much will continue to be strong.

We'll see. I wish them the best of luck but I doubt that they will be able to create what they say they can every time and with such a "small" possible base of customers.

Makes Perfect Sense (5, Insightful)

laigle (614390) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276316)

Fleet vehicles rack up more mileage, so they get a better return on investment with hybrids. Plus they're in a better position to absorb the increased up front costs than consumers. I've seen a lot more switchover to alternative fuel technologies and the like with fleet vehicles than the general public. Hopefully this will provide the needed incentive to get these technologies into commercially viable stages of development.

Re:Makes Perfect Sense (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276360)

Part of the reason fleets use alternative fuels is that companies receive significant tax benefits by converting their fleets to alternative, low emissions fuels (cng, lpg, etc.)

Re:Makes Perfect Sense (1)

AviLazar (741826) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276370)

It's pretty much always the case that commercial industry embraces a new technology, which then helps drive down the cost of this technology (and helps refine it) so that the consumers then look to purchase it. The fact that hybrid cars hit the consumer market first was a bit of a different trend, but I think it will get a bigger jump-start when more of these vehicles are utilized by companies. The local public transportation company (SEPTA) in the Philly area is starting to use hybrid buses....I think this is way cool, just about as cool as when the bus company moved the exhausts to the top of the truck, instead of at the bottom (where the exhaust hit people and cars). -A

Re:Makes Perfect Sense (3, Informative)

The Fun Guy (21791) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276438)

Not only do they rack up more miles than the average consumer-driven car, they do a lot of stop-and-go driving. From an efficiency and emissions standpoint, electric cars are great at this sort of thing, much better than gas engine. The intervening longer distance driving to and from the dispatch point, or to delivery neighborhoods is where the gas engines are better (range, cruising efficiency).

Hybrids seem to be a really good option here.

Re:Makes Perfect Sense (2, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#9277050)

What I want to know is how they compare to turbo diesels. As we have seen VW TDIs get mileage comparable to hybrids in the city and generally superior mileage on the highway. They get good mileage around town because they make peak torque at very low RPMs (about 150@1500, but these are 1.8 liter engines.) The only down side of a turbo is slightly increased maintenance. The down side of a hybrid is added weight from motors and batteries, the need to replace and recycle those batteries and dramatically increased complexity.

I would think that using turbo diesels would be a better solution for most fleets. I can see how inner city buses and taxis might be a good fit for hybrids, and some delivery vehicles that make frequent stops, but other than that I frankly doubt that they provide a better return than a nice efficient turbo diesel.

Re:Makes Perfect Sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9277231)

Isn't VW working on a diesel hybrid? Best of both worlds.

Re:Makes Perfect Sense (3, Informative)

Rick.C (626083) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276537)

The main issue for consumers is that unless they buy the vehicle new and plan on running it until it dies, it's harder to get the Return On Investment (ROI). Fleet operators typically buy 'em new and run 'em into the ground.

If you buy a new car and plan to trade it in after three years, you can't justify the ROI. Also, any conversion will likely void the warranty, and you may find it difficult to sell a "non-standard" car later.

If you buy an older used car and convert it, it may not last long enough to give you a decent ROI.

HEV conversion will likely be popular only for fleets and for die-hard hobbyists. Let's hope that this will eventually work its way into a factory installed (and supported) option on mainstream vehicles.

Hope this sticks (5, Interesting)

beachplum (777797) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276320)

The rush to develop alternatiives to gas was also pretty big after the gas crunch in the 70s. All that stuff kind of faded away after gas prices came down.

There are so many better alternatives now than there were then. This is one of the best I have seen, so maybe it will actually catch on and have enough longevity as an idea to create a cultural change.

Re:Hope this sticks (1)

FenwayFrank (680269) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276453)

The rush to develop alternatiives .. faded away after gas prices came down.

True, but it's different in that proposals for using alternative fuels had a larger deployment or up-front cost which fell on the wrong side of cost-benefit equation. With hybrids, you're using the same fuel, still cutting your fuel costs by half or more (if and) when prices come back down.

You can buy one from Toyota. (2, Informative)

niclas_b (575629) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276326)

http://www.toyota.com/prius/

Re:You can buy one from Toyota. (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276408)

the prius makes a lousy delivery truck.

Re:You can buy one from Toyota. (1)

niclas_b (575629) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276463)

You're right. This car is intended for personal, every-day use ,running on batteries in traffic jams and on gas during cruising. I guess the electric motor could be used as a "booster" when you overtake another vehicle. (I do not work for Toyota...)

Re:You can buy one from Toyota. (2, Informative)

Salo2112 (628590) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276541)

The Prius won't do what these vehicles are desinged for, although they might make good vehicles for couriers.

Also, my neighbor is a poohbah at a local Toyota dealership and he tells me there is a two-year waiting list to get one.

Emissions (1, Interesting)

mangu (126918) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276328)

Is the emissions from fleet vehicles a significant part of the total? Good, of course, to reduce everything you can, but I doubt that, even if all fleet vehicles had zero emissions, the overall pollution levels would be much reduced.

Re:Emissions (3, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276381)

Perhaps overall, no, but it should have a significant effect in some very localised areas. For example, in central London, virtually all traffic is busses and taxis. Redcuing that will have a significant effect on the air quality near major roads.

Re:Emissions (2, Informative)

confused one (671304) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276393)

Fleet vehicles, including long-haul trucking, account for approximately 30% of emissions.

In broadest (and simplest) terms, emissions run as 30%industrial, 30%commercial fleet, 30%private vehicles, 10% other.

Re:Emissions (1)

kent_eh (543303) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276462)

Is the emissions from fleet vehicles a significant part of the total?

Maybe, maybe not, but another part of the equation is that the government (post office) should set a "good example" for the people.

Yeah, I know, the gov't isn't usually looked to for moral leadership, but that doesn't mean that they shouldn't try to do the right thing.

The electricity still comes from fossil fuels! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9276338)

This has been said before, so I will keep it short. People see these cars running on electricity with 'no emissions', and assume the car causes little or no pollution. Unfortunately, the electricity that you charge up your car's battery probably comes from fossil fuel combustion. You just might not know it, since the power generation station that burns it is far from urban centers.

On top of this, energy companies try to mislead their customers into thinking the energy is clean. I live in Ontario. I buy my electricity from 'HydroOttawa'. A lot of people think that it is hydro-electricity they are buying, when really, it is more like 15% hydro. 85% or the power really comes from burning fuels. (Don't tell anyone though; this horrible 'environmentalism' trend is hurting profits at great companies like Enron.

Re:The electricity still comes from fossil fuels! (4, Interesting)

mrtroy (640746) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276374)

I buy my electricity from 'HydroOttawa'. A lot of people think that it is hydro-electricity they are buying, when really, it is more like 15% hydro. 85% or the power really comes from burning fuels.

Show me some evidence that 85% of the power we get in ontario is from fossel fuels. That sounds like some bullshit to me. Especially considering you say 15% hydro (very low for the ammt of hydro we produce) and do not include nuclear power anywhere in your numbers.

Do not make outrageous claims with inaccurate numbers.

Re:The electricity still comes from fossil fuels! (1)

CommieOverlord (234015) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276507)

Well, nuclear power plants do technically run on fuel....That's why there's all the kerfuffle about what to do with radioactive waste.

Re:The electricity still comes from fossil fuels! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9276791)

We can just send all of it to Canada!

Re:The electricity still comes from fossil fuels! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9276639)

He had no basis for his numbers so I'll supply some. Although I think you'll conclude he was way out there.

According to opg [opg.com] only 40% (9000MW or so) of their production comes from Fossil Fuels.
So OPG can theoretically produce 23GW (assuming that the output listed there was theoretical and we arn't selling the surplus) and Bruce Nuclear if it ever gets up produces another 7000MW

Current consumption [theimo.com]is roughly 20GW so Fossil Fuels can only produce half of our current demand. Peak demand [theimo.com] is roughly 25GW. So we can produce at most 30-40% of our peak demand from fossil fuels. Looking at just hydro electric we need it to be running at roughly 30% capacity for it to be at the 15% figure and that dosn't include nuclear or alternative sources of energy.

Re:The electricity still comes from fossil fuels! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9276404)

yes. it does. but the cost of generating electricity by power plant is cheaper than the cost of generating electricity by your car. Thats where the cost benefits are.

Re:The electricity still comes from fossil fuels! (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276484)

Unfortunately, the electricity that you charge up your car's battery probably comes from fossil fuel combustion.
[...]
I live in Ontario. I buy my electricity from 'HydroOttawa'. A lot of people think that it is hydro-electricity they are buying, when really, it is more like 15% hydro. 85% or the power really comes from burning fuels.


Québec is mostly hydro...though they are trying to get more fuel burning stations.

Re:The electricity still comes from fossil fuels! (1)

CommieOverlord (234015) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276543)

Yes, powering your car from electricity coming off the power grid is still resulting in emissions, but...

- Industrial power plants are more efficient and cleaner than a car engine. Especially considering that some of them are hydro or nuclear

- Less micro-leakage into the environment due to spills at gas stations, leaking car gas-tanks, leakage during accidents

- More efficient distribution, no need to have fleets of trucks driving the highways 24/7 to keep gas stations supplied.

No, electric cars are not perfect but they are better.

Yes but.... (1)

threeturn (622824) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276618)

Yes but,
  • batteries are highly inefficient
  • batteries are heavy and waste power when they are moved about with the vehicle
  • batteries are made of heavy-metals and other substances that are very polluting to extract and refine.
I would really like to see a total lifecycle environmental impact of convetional vs hybrid cars.

Re:The electricity still comes from fossil fuels! (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276620)

Add to this, lower distribution losses. When you transmit energy in the form of electricity, less power is wasted in the transportation compared to shipping fuels, either through pipelines or by roads, railroads, or ships.

Re:The electricity still comes from fossil fuels! (1)

brunogirin (783691) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276648)

I totally agree.

Also, the point of electric cars is that once you've converted all cars to electric engines, you've got a clean interface at the car level. The implementation, ie, how you provide the electricity can then be converted to greener and more efficient energy without cars needing to be converted further.

You can also deliver the fuel in a way that makes sense depending on the local natural resources: Long coastline with strong tides? Use tide power. Windy place? Use wind power. Very sunny place? Use solar power. Trendy upper middle class area? Generate electricity from all the people sweating in fitness centres.

In regions as diverse as the US or Europe, it makes complete sense because you then have the possibility to provide energy using a mix of solutions because there is no silver bullet and individual regions are more adapted to one solution or another.

Another advantage of electric power is that the day your country is short, it is easy to buy some from the neighbour. Although, as demonstrated recently in North America, Italy and England, current power grids might not be able to take the strain...

Re:The electricity still comes from fossil fuels! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9276793)

Dang, that's a clever idea. Hook generators up to exercise equipment. Seriously. Replace the weights with a battery charger. Vary the load to change the intensity of the workout. Wonder how much power that would create.

This would pay off for an exercise club as long as the equipment doesn't cost too much. Reduce your power costs and let you advertise your place as environmentally friendly. You might even be able to up your rates.

Know if anybody has tried this?

Re:The electricity still comes from fossil fuels! (1)

overunderunderdone (521462) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276731)

Don't tell anyone though; this horrible 'environmentalism' trend is hurting profits at great companies like Enron.

No Enron was a very "green" company. They were a natural gas company that slowly morphed into a kind of energy brokerage. They heavily pushed environmental legislation because a lot of it included schemes that involved a lot of brokering of energy between different entities which is what Enron did. Enron was the biggest (only?) corporate lobbying for passage the Kyoto treaty - and they lobbied heavily for it.

So buy your electricity from a green supplier. (1)

Moderation abuser (184013) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276742)

Sure it comes from the same place now, but as the green supplier is committed to renewable energy, that's where *they* will be investing the money you give them.

Re:The electricity still comes from fossil fuels! (1)

ekc (594380) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276834)

Um...forgive me if I'm wrong, but I thought we were talking about hybrid vehicles here. They do not charge off the grid. They use a conventional gasoline/deisel engine to charge up the battery. They are quite fuel efficient, however, since the engine can be kept small. It only needs to handle average power demands, and in a vehicle which stops and goes a lot, this could potentially spell enormous savings. Postal vans would be an ideal application. They might also consider garbage trucks.

Re:The electricity still comes from fossil fuels! (1)

clarkcox3 (194009) | more than 9 years ago | (#9277012)

>Unfortunately, the electricity that you charge up your car's battery probably comes from fossil fuel combustion. You are, of course, correct that the energy has to come from somewhere, but you also have to keep in mind that power plants are likely much more efficient than the typical engine of a car.

confused (0, Offtopic)

AviLazar (741826) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276343)

Gooooo Canada....hmm morality question here, how do I root for Canada and still call myself an American?

Re:confused (-1, Troll)

Patrik_AKA_RedX (624423) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276441)

Call Canada the 50th state.

Re:confused (3, Funny)

AviLazar (741826) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276492)

Alright, lets kick out Hawaii...hey wait a minute, thats a place of scantily clad women...lets kick out Alaska and make Canada the 49th state :)

Re:confused (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9276646)

After NAFTA, Canada and Mexico became, respectively, 51st and 52nd states.

Re:confused (3, Insightful)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276516)

how do I root for Canada and still call myself an American?

I suggest looking at a map, and figuring out the limits of America. Little known fact, not many people in the United States know this, but America actually extends a bit north of Vermont and a tad south of Texas...
;-)

Re:confused (2, Insightful)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276657)

When someone says "American", they generally mean the country of "The United States of America", or a citizen thereof. If they mean another country, they will usually use a more specific name, eg "Canadian", "Mexican", "Brazilian", etc.

If refering to the continent, generally they will specify "North", "Central" or "South" America, and it will be apparent they are talking about a continent based on context.

While it may be technically correct to refer someone living in Canada as an "American" because that's the name of the general continent they're on, it is generally not something you do unless you want to be a total sh*thead and want to start a symantics argument. ;-)
=Smidge=

Re:confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9276671)

.hmm morality question here, how do I root for Canada and still call myself an American?

Move to Minnesota.

depends on it's use... (3, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276345)

Fleet vehicles.. if used in town for stop-start-stop then yes this would be a great idea.... but fleet vehicles that are used for open highway?

your greatest increase in economy is by adding a double overdrive gearbox to it. They sell them as aftermarket add-on's for Motorhomes and they can increase a 33 foot motorhome's gas mileage by 20%.

The biggest problem with emissions and fuel economy though is NOT the vehicles but the drivers. if the drivers were careful with their driving economy will go up, but it's more cost effective to push your employees harder and force them to drive inefficently and even break the law.

as for in-town deliveries... I dont understand why a pure-electric vehicle would not be the best choice. they spend more time off then running.

Re:depends on it's use... (2, Informative)

AviLazar (741826) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276388)

Most modern day trucks have computer sensors in there that prevent the truck drivers from accelerating in certain methods....meaning that no matter how far they push the pedal down, the computer will only let them go so fast and burn so much gas. A lot of the "guess" work is removed from the drivers since there are people who like to abuse the system.

The Civic GX seems pretty good for this (3, Informative)

GlassUser (190787) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276365)

http://www.hondacars.com/models/model_overview.asp ?ModelName=Civic%20GX [hondacars.com]

I wouldn't mind having one myself. You can get this little appliance called a phill ( http://www.fuelmaker.com/phill/ [fuelmaker.com]) that will recharge the car's tank at home. It's slow, but convenient - plug it in at home overnight. Or you can charge it fast at a commercial station (there's one five minutes from home, for me). This would be a pretty good commuter car.

Re:The Civic GX seems pretty good for this (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276446)

They're talking commercial fleet. There are tons of vehicles (literally : ) already available from manufacturers that run on CNG.

AZD.V (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9276379)

For slashdotters in the USA who like to pick up a few shares of foreign companies that look interesting, check out InteractiveBrokers [interactivebrokers.com].
They'll let you trade securities on foreign exchanges for less $$ than most brokers let you trade domestic stocks.

When I start seeing a slashdot effect on the stock market I'll be seriously impressed.

Infrastructure (3, Interesting)

bubba_ry (574102) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276433)

I read an article in Discover or Scientifc American (can't remember which!) recently detailing the shift to alternative fuels. Not only is it a challenge to develop applicable technologies that are economical for end users, an even greater challenge will be to develop the infrastructure necessary to support these vehicles. We take for granted that one can stop at a gas station and fill up. If one we're driving a propane-powered vehicle, one would require an appropriate filling station. The answer to this appears to lie in getting large companies to 'buy in' (sorry for the manager speak, lots of meetings this week!) to using alternative fuels and retrofitting their stations for those fuels. When they have taken hold, and enough demand exists, consumer stations can begin to be retrofitted with the necessary equipment to ease consumers into using cars that run on newer fuels.

It's kinda like how you can still buy VHS!

HEV ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9276450)

High Emission Vehicle?

My '75 F250 Supercab qualifies for this! :P

Wot! No electric cars! (4, Insightful)

seniorcoder (586717) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276508)

I would ideally like to buy an electric car. Things were looking good. The major manufacturers were starting to produce them. GM EV1, Ford Ranger, Toyota RAV4 all available electric.
Now where are they? The RAV4 was only available to fleet buyers. Ford has stopped production of the electric Ranger, GM stopped leasing the EV1 and crushed the lot.

Two questions:
1. What happened? 2. I still want an electric car. Any suggestions?

Re:Wot! No electric cars! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9276565)

The Univ. of Alabama has a fleet of electric trucks. They have special "Official Use only" parcking spaces with electric outlets to charge their trucks.

I remember a Chevrolet exec at an autoshow, when asked about electric cars, saying they were a waste, because of the small percentage improvement in gas mileage. He also said that GM was focusing on trucks, because of the vast gains in gas mileage to be made there.

As a side note, these electric trucks are a factor in meeting EPA regulations, which has stipulated recently(2years ago or something) that overall truck gas mileage must increase.

Bloody good question (1)

Moderation abuser (184013) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276823)

Especially as lithium based batteries weren't available at the time. New battery technologies have more than doubled the power available since these vehicles were introduced.

I believe that they've basically been "gotten to" by the oil companies who want you to continue filling up at their gas stations. Whether it's propane, lpg, hydrogen, ethanol or methanol they don't care as long as your money is going their way.

How about working with Toyota? (2, Interesting)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276595)

I think Azure Dynamics ought to seriously look at working with the Toyota Motor Company to develop hybrid-drivetrain technologies for the future.

It's a good mix, too--Azure has the technology Toyota may not have, and Toyota has probably more experience with hybrid drivetrain vehicles than anyone else in the world, thanks to the successful sales of the Toyota Prius.

I for one would love to see the United States Postal Service eventually phase out its current fleet of small mail-carrying vehicles with ones that use a hybrid drivetrain--we're talking sales that could run into the tens of thousands! :-)

using GPS to switch between fuel and battery? (2, Insightful)

pomakis (323200) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276800)

The article states:

The iconic black cabs, which have been retrofitted with Azure's hybrid-electric powertrains, were designed to cut emissions in London's smoggy downtown core. A global positioning device installed in the cabs will automatically switch the engine to battery power when it enters the city centre and switch it back to fuel when it leaves.

This seems a bit strange. One has to wonder why the decision to switch isn't up to the driver. I'm sure it's not an issue of convenience, since pressing a button is hardly a chore. Would it be for regulatory reasons? Perhaps the thought is that the drivers will want to stay on fuel power because it gives them more oomph, but that this system will force the switchover to satisfy whatever regulatory requirements are put in place. If this is true, it would seem to be a mostly unstated negative point about the technology. Creating unhappy drivers isn't the greatest way of going about pushing a brave new technology.

Hmm. Diesel-Electric? (2, Insightful)

Mike Hicks (244) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276835)

Looks like these guys are focusing on turning diesels into diesel-electric. Delivery vehicles often run on diesel and the London Taxis use it as well. Not really surprising that a company has been trying out that technology, since people have been using it in trains since the 1930s or so (of course, most diesel-electric trains don't incorporate batteries to store extra energy, as far as I know).

Well, the diesel-electric train is the series hybrid type, where the engine isn't directly connected to the wheels. I imagine this company had to do a fair amount of work on the parallel hybrid type where both the engine and electric motor connect to the wheels. My understanding is that, theoretically, series hybrids are more efficient. If true, it confuses me why most hybrids we're seeing these days use the parallel style (or a variation on it) instead. I guess I've heard that, with the Prius for example, the electric motor balances out the power curve of the engine. Electric motors have extremely high torque at low RPMs, but apparently become less efficient at higher RPMs where gasoline engines are better. Of course, diesel engines have a different power curve than gasoline engines, with more torque and horsepower appearing at low RPM (probably one reason why semis have like 15 gears ;-)

Anyway, GM has their Electro-Motive Division (EMD) that has been producing diesel-electric trains for decades. I'm curious why nobody there has (at least publicly) demonstrated some diesel-electric trucks/vans/etc.

Re:Hmm. Diesel-Electric? (2, Interesting)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 9 years ago | (#9276924)

You have to remember that a diesel-electric locomotive is a very large piece of machinery. Even a small yard switcher locomotive is physically larger than any unstretched automobile you find on the streets today.

But with today's technology, a parallel diesel-electric hybrid vehicle could be made quite small indeed. And it will be very clean, especially with the use of sulfur-free diesel fuels and the latest in fuel-delivery and exhaust emission control technology.

Re:Hmm. Diesel-Electric? (5, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#9277143)

I imagine this company had to do a fair amount of work on the parallel hybrid type where both the engine and electric motor connect to the wheels. My understanding is that, theoretically, series hybrids are more efficient. If true, it confuses me why most hybrids we're seeing these days use the parallel style (or a variation on it) instead.

Trains are in a situation where weight matters much much less than in a car. They can afford the weight difference of having an extra generator in there driven by the diesels. Also, their diesels are much larger, and larger diesels are more efficient. The most efficient internal combusion engine in the world is the size of a small house and runs on diesel fuel. I forget what the application was, though I believe it was on some sort of ship, which makes sense.

Some hybrid vehicles now use a CVT (continuously variable transmission) so they can use the gasoline engine more often, and keep it in its powerband more reliably.

Converting a two wheel drive vehicle to a hybrid is typically relatively trivial; You hook up power to the non-driven wheels. This usually represents only a small engineering challenge. The rest of the problems are fairly well-known today. As I am fond of pointing out, even radio controlled cars do regenerative braking these days, and it does make a significant difference in runtime. It's probably a bigger challenge to try to find someplace to put the batteries :)

Incidentally, they do have semi-trucks with automatic transmissions and they usually don't have many gears. However, they are lossy during acceleration as are all automatic transmissions. They probably do have a lockup torque converter, however, so once they get going they should be approximately as efficient as a manual gearbox.

Azura Stock (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9276895)

What exchange would this company trade on?

GM is on the way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9276925)

Well GM is releasing Hybrid Silverados and Sierras this fall. They are already giving 50 for fleet vehicles to Miami-Dade.
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