Thursday, December 22, 2016

How fuel economy is determined and reported for alternative fuel vehicles

Question of the Month: How is fuel economy determined and reported for alternative fuel vehicles?

Answer: Last month we learned about how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determines and reports conventional light-duty vehicle fuel economy ratings. While alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) fuel economy testing is largely similar to that of conventional fuels, the EPA makes some adjustments to account for different vehicle technology and fuel energy content. By tailoring AFV fuel economy testing and reporting, the EPA is able to provide apples-to-apples comparisons and allow consumers to make informed decisions.

All-Electric Vehicles

What's Reported: The fuel economy label for all-electric vehicles (EVs) includes all of the same information as that listed for gasoline vehicles (fuel economy, fuel cost savings, annual fuel cost, and emissions). However, EV labels list fuel economy using miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent (MPGe), sometimes referred to as miles per gasoline gallon equivalent (MPGGE). MPGe represents the number of miles a vehicle can go using a quantity of fuel with the same energy content as a gallon of gasoline. MPGe is a useful way to compare gasoline vehicles with vehicles that use fuel not dispensed in gallons. EV labels also include the following information:

  • Vehicle Charge Time: Indicates how long it takes to charge a fully discharged battery using Level 2, 240-volt electric vehicle supply equipment.
  • Driving Range: Estimates the approximate number of miles that a vehicle can travel in combined city and highway driving before the battery must be recharged.
  • Fuel Consumption Rate: Shows how many kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity an EV would use to travel 100 miles. Like gallons per 100 miles, the kWh per 100 miles relates directly to the amount of fuel used. It is an estimated rate of consumption rather than economy (measured in miles per gallon [MPG] or MPGe), which allows for more accurate energy usage comparisons between vehicles.

What's Tested: To test EV fuel economy, the vehicle battery is fully charged and the vehicle is parked overnight. The next day, the vehicle is tested over successive city cycles until the battery is depleted. The battery is then recharged and the energy consumption of the vehicle is determined by dividing the kWh of energy needed to recharge the battery by the miles traveled by the vehicle. MPGe is based on this figure. The process is repeated for highway driving cycles, and the combined city and highway fuel consumption and MPGe is based on the standard ratio of 55% city and 45% highway driving.

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles

What's Reported: Like EVs, plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) fuel economy labels include fuel cost savings, annual fuel cost, and emissions information. For PHEVs that can use either electricity or gasoline (but only one fuel at a time), also known as non-blended or series PHEVs, labels include information for the fuel economy of both fuel modes. The electricity information is identical to that of EVs, listing charge time, fuel economy in MPGe, and fuel consumption rate in kWh per 100 miles. The gasoline information provides fuel economy in MPG and fuel consumption information in gallons per 100 miles. PHEV fuel economy labels also include electricity only, gasoline only, and combined electricity and gasoline driving range estimates. For PHEVs that use electricity and gasoline at the same time, also known as blended or parallel PHEVs, fuel economy labels reflect the fuel economy, fuel consumption, and range of the vehicle when it uses its standard electricity and gasoline mix.

What's Tested: Because series PHEVs can use either electricity or gasoline, the EPA determines a vehicle's fuel economy and fuel consumption based both on its use of only electricity and only gasoline. To determine a PHEV's electric fuel economy, the EPA issues testing methodology nearly identical to that of EVs. If the gasoline engine is required to complete the test cycle, the EPA methodology uses both the electric energy consumption and the gasoline consumption to calculate the MPGe values for the electric operation only. Vehicle testing for the gasoline operation of the vehicle is similar to any other conventional hybrid electric vehicle. Parallel PHEVs are tested using their standard mix of electricity and gasoline.

Other Alternative Fuels

What's Reported: The EPA also requires fuel economy information for original equipment manufacturer (OEM) vehicles that use alternative fuels. This includes dedicated natural gas, propane, and hydrogen vehicles, as well as bi-fuel vehicles, such as bi-fuel natural gas, propane, and flexible fuel vehicles (vehicles that may use 51%-83% ethanol-gasoline blends). Note that the EPA does not require fuel economy testing of vehicles converted to run alternative fuels after they are purchased. While the EPA does not list fuel economy information for vehicles that use biodiesel, all diesel vehicles may use fuel blends of up to 5% biodiesel. These vehicles achieve fuel economy very similar to conventional diesel.

For vehicles that use exclusively alternative fuels (e.g., natural gas or hydrogen), the EPA lists fuel economy in MPGe in order to accurately reflect the fuel's energy content and make easy comparisons with conventional fuel vehicles. Vehicles that can use either alternative fuels or conventional fuel, such as bi-fuel natural gas, bi-fuel propane, and flexible fuel vehicles, have fuel economy, fuel consumption, and range estimates for both the alternative and conventional fuel listed on their fuel economy labels. Fuel economy for alternative fuel use in bi-fuel and flexible fuel vehicles is listed in MPGe, while fuel economy for conventional fuel use is listed in MPG.

What's Tested: For vehicles that run exclusively on alternative fuels, fuel economy testing methods are similar to those of conventional vehicles. For bi-fuel and flexible fuel vehicles, the vehicle fuel economy is tested as it runs exclusively on each fuel, similar to PHEVs.

For more information about AFV fuel economy, see the website and select from the Advanced Cars & Fuels menu. Also, view the Fuel Economy Toolkit.

Happy Holidays!

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team

Saturday, November 26, 2016

How Much Do You Know About Fuel Cells

Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Hydrogen and Fuel Cells?
Hydrogen and fuel cell technologies power cars, buildings, and more. But how much do you know about them?

Test your knowledge with this recent Energy Department blog post, Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Hydrogen and Fuel Cells?

Friday, November 25, 2016

Question of the Month: How are conventional light-duty vehicle fuel economy ratings determined and reported?

Answer: It's important to understand the who, what, when, where, and why (and how!) of fuel economy testing and labeling. In particular, you may be interested in the recent changes described below (see "When" section).

"Who" is tested?
Most light-duty vehicles must be tested for fuel economy. Exceptions include motorcycles, pickup trucks and cargo vans with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) above 8,500 lbs., and passenger vehicles with a GVWR above 10,000 lbs.

Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) test a representative vehicle for each light-duty model and report the results to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA reviews the results and confirms estimates for about 10% to 15% of the vehicles through tests at the National Vehicles and Fuel Emissions Laboratory (NVFEL).

How are vehicles tested?
Vehicles are tested in a laboratory using a standardized procedure established by the EPA. The vehicle's drive wheels are placed on a machine called a dynamometer that simulates the driving environment—much like an exercise bike simulates cycling. The energy required to move the rollers is adjusted to account for wind resistance and the vehicle's weight. On the dynamometer, a professional driver runs the vehicle through standardized driving routines, which simulate "typical" trips in the city or on the highway. Each driving routine specifies the speed the vehicle must travel during each second in the test. To measure the fuel economy of the vehicle, a hose is connected to the tailpipe to collect the engine exhaust during the tests. The carbon in the exhaust is measured to calculate the amount of fuel burned.

From there, the manufacturer enters the test results into an equation the EPA has established to determine the final city and highway fuel economy estimates (see the Code of Federal Regulations, 40 CFR 600.210-12, for more information. Combined city/highway fuel economy is calculated by weighting the city miles per gallon (mpg) value by 55% and the highway value by 45%. Combined fuel economy values provide consumers with a quick and easy comparison point across vehicles.

What information is included on the fuel economy label?
In addition to providing city, highway, and combined city/highway mpg fuel economy estimates, the new fuel economy label provides information about emissions and fuel cost:
  • Comparing fuel economy to other vehicles: The label shows the average mpg rating of similar sized vehicles for users to easily compare fuel economy. It also estimates how much money you would save or spend in fuel costs over five years compared to the average vehicle.
  • Annual fuel cost: Based on annual mileage assumptions, projected fuel price, and mpg rating, the label displays estimated annual fuel cost.
  • Emissions information: The label rates the vehicle on a scale of 1 to 10 for (a) fuel economy and greenhouse gas and (b) smog emissions, making it easier for consumers to choose cleaner vehicles.
  • QR Code: Users are able to scan the QR Code on the label to access helpful tools and additional information about the vehicle's fuel economy and emissions.
When did this rating system come into effect?
The EPA's fuel economy testing and labeling procedures were initially established in the late 1970s and have evolved over time. The EPA updated its fuel economy methodology with MY 2008 vehicles and again this year with MY 2017 vehicles. The 2008 methodology changes incorporated the effects of faster speeds and acceleration, air conditioner use, and colder outside temperatures. These updated methods improved the accuracy of fuel economy estimates.

This year's changes are more subtle. As described in the "How" section above, the EPA is responsible for providing an equation that manufacturers use to calculate the final city and highway fuel economy for their vehicles. Starting with MY 2017 vehicles, the EPA updated the equations used to calculate fuel economy estimates for some vehicles. The updated equations better reflect the more fuel-efficient vehicles and advanced technologies (e.g., hybrids and tubocharged engines) on the road today. While most vehicles will not be affected, some fuel economy estimates will decrease by 1 to 2 mpg.

MY 2011–2016 mpg estimates on have been converted to the new ratings system to allow for easier comparison of fuel economy of newer and older cars.

Where is fuel economy data available?
EPA fuel economy estimates are displayed on the Fuel Economy and Environment stickers affixed to the window of new vehicles. Fuel economy estimates for vehicles from model year 1984 to present are also available online at DOE's website.'s Find a Car tool allows users to search by vehicle make, model and year. The website's My MPG page allows consumers to calculate, track, and post their fuel economy to compare it with the EPA test ratings and other users' posted results. Full fuel economy data is downloadable in PDF or spreadsheet form on

Why does this matter?
Accurate and detailed fuel economy information allows consumers to make informed decisions. Widely available and clearly presented data supports the purchases of clean and efficient vehicles. As always, it is important to remember that the EPA ratings are a useful tool for comparing vehicles because they are always done the same way under the same set of conditions. However, since consumer driving conditions and styles can vary greatly, the fuel economy some drivers achieve may vary from the EPA's estimates. For tips on improving your fuel economy, visit the Factors that Affect Fuel Economy page on

Watch for more information next month on how fuel economy for bi-fuel vehicles, including plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, is tested and reported.

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Clean Energy Fuels Corporation Still Not Profitable

The supply of natural gas still exceeds demand. The author of this article considers OPEC an unlikely threat to national security. "The optimism concerning natural gas vehicle demand in the U.S. has been and is ahead of its time."

Friday, October 28, 2016

What idle reduction technologies are available for heavy-duty vehicles?

Question of the Month: What idle reduction technologies are available for heavy-duty vehicles?

Answer: Heavy-duty vehicle idling, or running a vehicle's engine while it is not in motion, occurs for a number of reasons, including temperature control during required rest stops, powering electronic equipment, and to avoid cold starting the vehicle. According to Argonne National Laboratory (Argonne), more than 6 billion gallons of diesel and gasoline fuel are wasted by vehicle engine idling—with half from medium- and heavy-duty vehicles alone. Argonne estimated that a heavy-duty long-haul truck generally idles around 6 hours per day, or 1,830 hours per year. Not only does this wasted fuel cost more than $20 billion a year, but it also results in increased emissions of air pollutants, such as oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter. This is particularly an issue for school buses, as these emissions can have harmful health impacts on children. A number of states, counties, and municipalities have implemented vehicle idling restrictions and regulations to address this issue.

Idle reduction technologies afford drivers with the same comforts and services offered by engine idling, but are much more fuel efficient. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) SmartWay Program and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have evaluated a number of idle reduction technologies for heavy-duty vehicles to identify their fuel reduction benefits. There are two main categories of idle reduction technology: onboard equipment and truck stop electrification (TSE) sites.

Onboard Idle Reduction Equipment
Onboard idle reduction equipment is installed directly on the vehicle. This technology can help reduce idle time at any location, including roadsides, delivery sites, and truck stops. Examples include auxiliary power units (APUs), which are small diesel-powered generators that provide power for temperature control systems and electronic devices, and coolant heaters, which keep the vehicle's engine warm to avoid cold starting. Other technologies include cab or bunk heaters, engine recovery systems, storage air conditioners, and automatic engine stop-start controls. For a complete list and detailed descriptions of available onboard idle reduction equipment, please refer to the Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) Onboard Idle Reduction Equipment for Heavy-Duty Trucks page listed below.

Truck Stop Electrification
TSE sites, also referred to as electrified parking spaces, allow drivers to power temperature control systems and other appliances using equipment provided at the site. Note that TSE can reduce direct vehicle emissions and fuel consumption, although there may be indirect emissions impacts associated with the source of electricity used to power the equipment. There are two types of TSE: single-system electrification and dual-system electrification.

Single-system electrification is comprised of off-board equipment that is stationed at the truck stop. Drivers parked at the site have access to services such as internet, heating, and air conditioning. Dual-system electrification, also known as "shorepower," requires both onboard and off-board equipment because trucks must be able to plug into the external electrical outlets provided. Trucks must have equipment that is compatible with these electrical outlets.

Currently, there are more than 100 TSE sites in operation across the United States, comprising a total of nearly 2,600 parking spaces. For a map of TSE sites, please see the AFDC TSE Locator.

Market Availability Resources
The number of drivers that utilize idle reduction equipment, as well as the portfolio of available technologies, continues to grow. For up-to-date information about available idle reduction technologies for heavy-duty vehicles, see the following resources:
  • EPA's SmartWay Idling Reduction Technologies (IRTs) for Trucks and School Buses:
    • This page includes detailed information about the verification procedure, as well as a list of SmartWay verified idle reduction technologies for trucks and school buses.
  • DOE's National Idling Reduction Network News:
    • Each month, the National Idling Reduction Network releases a newsletter, including information about fleet adoption of idle reduction technologies, new available technologies, funding opportunities, and relevant regulatory news. Check out the September 2016 newsletter for notable news from heavy-duty idle reduction technology manufacturers, including a solar-powered idle reduction system.
  • DOE's Clean Cities IdleBox Toolkit:
    • The IdleBox Toolkit provides outreach materials and educational resources on vehicle idle reduction, including presentations, fact sheets, and other publications specifically for heavy-duty vehicles.
  • North American Council on Freight Efficiency's (NACFE) 2016 Annual Fleet Fuel Study:
    • NACFE conducts an annual survey of Class 8 truck fleets to better understand heavy-duty fleet adoption of idle reduction technologies and practices. Check out the 2016 study, which covers trends in idle reduction technology, based on data collected from 15 North American fleets about their use of 69 different fuel-efficient technologies.
Additional Resources
For more information about heavy-duty vehicle idling and idle reduction technologies, please refer to the following resources:
  • AFDC Heavy-Duty Truck Idle Reduction Technologies:
  • Argonne Reducing Vehicle Idling:

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team

Monday, October 10, 2016

Shell Gets LNG Contract With Carnival Cruises

Carnival will introduce two LNG-powered cruise ships that will come online in 2019. Shell got the contract to supply the fuel. "These ships will be the first in the cruise industry use LNG to generate 100 percent of the ship’s power both in port and on the open sea – an innovation that will significantly improve air quality to help protect the environment and support Carnival Corporation’s sustainability goals."

LNG-Powered Marine Vessels For Volkswagen

Volkswagen Group has committed to using two LNG-fueled car carriers to transport cars between Europe and North America.
The two LNG-powered vessels have a capacity of about 4,500 vehicles. The car carriers, equipped with a 105,000 cubic foot LNG tank installed below deck, will have a comparable capacity to conventional transatlantic freighters. Both ships will feature a 12,600 kW engine developed by MAN Diesel & Turbo.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Current And Future Medium- And Heavy-Duty Vehicle Fuel Efficiency And Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards

Question of the Month: What are the current and future medium- and heavy-duty vehicle fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards?

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (collectively, HDVs) are expected to surpass light-duty vehicle (LDV) emissions by 2030. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 directed the U.S. Department of Transportation to establish fuel efficiency standards for HDVs. Then, in 2010, President Obama announced a new national program to implement coordinated fuel efficiency and GHG emissions standards for medium- and heavy-duty engines and vehicles. As you may have seen last month, EPA and NHSTA recently finalized the most recent set of requirements under this program.

First promulgated by EPA and NHTSA in 2011, these coordinated standards are being implemented in two separate phases, beginning with Model Year (MY) 2014 to 2018 (Phase 1, which has now been extended through 2020) and followed by MYs 2021 to 2027 (Phase 2), with some exceptions. Under Phase 1, the GHG emissions and fuel efficiency standards generally increase in stringency in MY 2017, then remain steady through MY 2020. GHG emissions and fuel efficiency standards under Phase 2 of the program increase first in MY 2021, and then again in MYs 2024 and 2027. Although the Phase 2 standards do not begin until MY 2021, manufacturers may need to begin compliance measures beforehand in order to be adequately prepared to meet the targets.

Fuel efficiency and GHG emissions standards are determined differently for each of five regulated heavy-duty (HD) engine and vehicle categories: combination tractors; vocational vehicles; HD engines used in combination tractors and vocational vehicles; trailers used with combination tractors; and HD pickup trucks and vans. For more information on these categories, please refer to pages 3 and 4 of the EPA Phase 2 fact sheet.

NHTSA Fuel Efficiency Standards
NHTSA's fuel efficiency standards are designed to take into account the different functions of each of the regulated vehicle categories. Therefore, the standards are calculated differently for each vehicle category. For HD pickup trucks and vans, there are separate gasoline and diesel target values.

The vehicle-based standards for combination tractors and vocational vehicles are calculated based on weight class, as well as specific characteristics of the vehicle category that affect fuel consumption and emissions, such as roof height for combination tractors and drive cycle for vocational vehicles.

The HD engine standards are determined by the size of the engine, the fuel type (diesel or gasoline), and the characteristics of the respective vehicles into which they are installed. The HD pickup and van standards, engine and chassis included, are fleet-average standards based on fuel-specific (gasoline and diesel) target values that are determined by a "work factor" curve. The "work factor" curve takes into account the payload and towing capacity of the vehicle and whether the vehicle has 4-wheel drive. Like the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) program for LDVs, the HD pickup and van targets are production-weighted based on the manufacturer's total sales volume of all of its different HD pickup and van models.

Compliance Timeline
Manufacturers were required to meet Phase 1 fuel efficiency standards for combination tractors, vocational vehicles, and HD engines beginning either in MY 2016 or 2017. Phase 2 standards apply in MY 2027, with phase-in standards for MYs 2021 and 2024. Trailer fuel efficiency standards are voluntary beginning in MY 2018, and mandatory effective MY 2021. Manufacturers were not required to participate in the Phase 1 HD pickup and van program until MY 2016. At the outset of the program, NHTSA gave manufacturers the option to choose one of the alternative phase-in options for the Phase 1 standards. Phase 2 HD pickup and van standards begin in MY 2021 and increase in stringency by 2.5% each model year through MY 2027.

Fuel Efficiency Standards and Targets
To view the final Phase 1 standards and HD pickup and van targets, please see the Phase 1 Final Rule. For the recently finalized Phase 2 standards and targets, see the Phase 2 Final Rule. You may also reach out to TRS directly ( if you would like specific information about where to find the finalized standards.

EPA GHG Emissions Standards
EPA also takes into account the varying functions of each of the regulated vehicle categories in its GHG emissions calculation. It uses the same factors as NHTSA to determine emissions standards for each vehicle category, except measurements are based on grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted.

Compliance Timeline
EPA's mandatory Phase 1 GHG emissions standards for combination tractors, vocational vehicles, and HD engines began in MY 2014. The timeline for the Phase 2 standards mirrors that of the NHTSA fuel efficiency standards. However, Phase 2 trailer emissions standards differ in that they are mandatory in MY 2018. For Phase 1 of the HD pickup truck and van program, similar to the fuel efficiency targets, manufacturers were given the option to choose from two alternative phase-in options. As with the Phase 2 fuel efficiency targets, the separate GHG emissions targets for diesel and gasoline HD pickups and vans will increase in stringency under Phase 2 by 2.5% per year from MY 2021 to 2027.

Emissions Standards and Targets
GHG emissions standards and targets for Phase 1 and Phase 2 can be found in their respective final rules. Please refer to the Fuel Efficiency Standards and Targets section above for more information.

Manufacturers may employ many different compliance measures to meet the fuel efficiency and GHG emissions standards. These measures vary depending on the vehicle category. Each vehicle category has a different certification testing process to determine its GHG emissions and fuel efficiency values. These values are the baseline to which any additional earned credits can be added. The regulation also offers incentives to encourage advanced vehicle technologies.

The credits and incentives available for both the EPA and NHTSA programs include:
  • Advanced Technology Credits: Phase 1 of the program incentivizes manufacturers to produce advance technology vehicles and engines by effectively allowing manufacturers to "count" certain vehicle and engine types as more than one in their compliance calculations. This includes vehicles with hybrid powertrains and Rankine-cycle waste heat recovery systems, as well as plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). As the new Phase 2 standards are premised on some use of Rankine-cycle engines and hybrid powertrains, these technologies will not qualify as advanced technologies under Phase 2. From MY 2021 through MY 2027, advanced technology credits (with considerably higher multipliers) will only be offered for PEVs and FCEVs.
  • Innovative Technology and Off-Cycle Credits: Both Phases 1 and 2 of the program allow manufacturers to earn credits for off-cycle technologies that result in benefits that are not captured in certification testing procedures.
  • Early Credit Multipliers: Phase 1 of the program enabled manufacturers to earn credits for early compliance. Phase 2 will not include early credits.

For more information on the medium- and heavy-duty engine and vehicle GHG emissions and fuel efficiency standards, please refer to the following resources:

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team

Monday, September 19, 2016

Natural Gas: Is It A Good Fit For Your Fleet?

T. Boone Pickens, FedEx Chairman Fred Smith and NGVA's Matt Godlewski join ATA President Chris Spear to discuss natural gas advancements in this special LiveOnWeb broadcast from September 19, 2016.

Adopt Natural Gas Truck Technology Now

Brad Douville, Vice President of Business Development at urges fleet owners to adopt natural gas truck technology now in this opinion piece.
The long-term view is behind the decision by shipping giant UPS to invest in 12 additional compressed natural gas fueling stations and 380 CNG heavy-duty trucks.

"We own our fleet and our infrastructure. That allows us to invest for the long-term, rather than planning around near-term fluctuations in fuel pricing," UPS explained when announcing its investment earlier this year.

When major shipping companies such as UPS switch significant portions of their fleets to alternative fuel vehicles, those who don't will miss the savings and fall behind their competition. From 2011 through 2014, fleets averaged a $2-per-gallon savings with natural gas compared with diesel fuel. For a heavy-duty pickup truck consuming 2,000 gallons per year, this equated to a $4,000 savings. For a Class 8 weight segment, or heavy-duty truck, consuming 20,000 gallons, the savings reached $40,000.

White Paper on Environmental Benefits of Natural Gas Vehicles

From NGVAmerica News:
NGVAmerica’s Emissions and Environmental Working Group has completed a white paper and infographic highlighting the benefits for fleets using natural gas as a transportation fuel, Fleets Run Cleaner on Natural Gas. The goal of the working group was to provide an NGV industry supported consensus document on the benefits of switching to natural gas.

The infographic provides high level environmental benefits, while the white paper goes into more detail and provides definitions, assumptions and sources for our results. NGVAmerica hopes that these documents serve as a source for its members and the industry at large when discussing the benefits of using natural gas vehicles.

The white paper and infographic are available on the NGVAmerica website.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Light-duty Vehicle Fuel Economy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards

Question of the Month: What are the current and future light-duty vehicle fuel economy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards?


According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), light-duty vehicles (LDVs) emit nearly 60% of transportation-related GHG emissions and use more than half of all petroleum transportation fuel in the United States. In 1975, Congress enacted the Energy Conservation and Policy Act, which directed the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to implement the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) program. The goal of the CAFE program is to reduce national energy consumption through fuel economy improvements. Specifically, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), as part of DOT, develops annual fuel economy requirements for new passenger cars and light-duty trucks. Fuel economy is measured based on the average mileage a vehicle travels per gallon of gasoline, or gallon of gasoline equivalent for other fuels.

In 2009, President Obama announced a new national program to harmonize fuel economy standards with GHG emissions standards for all new light-duty cars and trucks sold in the United States. Under this program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) develops GHG emissions standards that correspond with NHTSA CAFE standards for each model year (MY). Thus far, the EPA and NHTSA have implemented the program in two parts, beginning with MYs 2012 to 2016 and followed by MYs 2017 to 2025. GHG emissions and CAFE standards have become increasingly stringent from one MY to the next.

In the final rule that established the coordinated standards for MYs 2017 to 2025, the EPA and NHTSA committed to perform a midterm evaluation (MTE) to (i) determine whether any changes should be made to the GHG emissions standards for MY 2022 to 2025, and (ii) set final CAFE standards for those MYs. This past July, the EPA and NHTSA completed the first step of the MTE with their issuance of a draft technical assessment report. For more information on the MTE, please see the EPA Midterm Evaluation of Light-Duty Vehicle GHG Emissions Standards page and the NHTSA Midterm Evaluation for Light-Duty CAFE page.

NHTSA CAFE Standards
NHTSA determines CAFE standards based on each vehicle’s size, or its footprint, which is essentially the distance between where each of its tires touches the ground. In general, the larger the vehicle is, the less stringent the fuel economy target will be. NHTSA then calculates each manufacturer’s fleet-wide compliance obligation, which is weighted based on vehicle sales (e.g., if 15% of a manufacturer’s sales are one model, that model gets a “weight” of 0.15 in average fuel economy calculation), each vehicle’s footprint, and the volume of vehicles the manufacturer actually produces.

Based on previous MY sales, NHTSA estimates that by MY 2025, passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks will need to meet an estimated combined average fuel economy of at least 48.7 to 49.7 miles per gallon. This estimate is subject to change based on the actual individual manufacturer fleet composition and production volumes. To view the annual standards, please refer to page 4 of the NHTSA CAFE Regulations for MY 2017 and Beyond fact sheet.

EPA GHG Emissions Standards
Similar to the NHTSA CAFE standards, the EPA also uses the footprint-based approach to determine carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions standards in grams per mile (g/mi) for each vehicle manufacturer. The EPA GHG emissions requirements are linked to the CAFE standards, and are also based on individual manufacturer fleet and production volumes. The EPA’s passenger car standards call for CO2 emissions reductions of 5% per year from MY 2017 to 2025. Light-duty trucks will have a bit more time to adjust to the standards, beginning with a 3.5% reduction per year from MY 2017 to MY 2021, then ramping up to a 5% reduction per year from MY 2022 to MY 2025. Refer to page 4 of the EPA GHG Emissions Standards for MY 2017-2025 fact sheet to see the projected CO2 emissions targets.

Manufacturers can meet these standards in a variety of ways. In addition to making direct improvements to vehicle components (e.g., engines and transmission efficiency, light-weighting), manufacturers may also achieve compliance by generating credits. First, manufacturers are required to calculate average fleet-wide tailpipe CO2 emissions and average fleet-wide fuel economy. These values serve as the baseline to which any additional earned credits can be added. The regulation also offers incentives to encourage advanced vehicle technologies.

These credits and incentives include:

  • Air Conditioning and Off-Cycle Improvements (EPA and NHTSA): Manufacturers can earn credits from efforts such as air conditioning efficiency improvements, as well as from off-cycle technologies that result in real-world benefits, like engine start-stop or solar panels on plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).
  • Advanced Technology Vehicles (EPA Only): The EPA regulation also includes incentives to encourage the production of advanced technology vehicles. For MYs 2017 to 2021, manufacturers that produce all-electric vehicles, PHEVs, compressed natural gas vehicles, and fuel cell electric vehicles may “count” these vehicles as more than one vehicle in their emissions compliance calculations.
  • Hybrid Electric Full-Size Pickups (EPA and NHTSA): Manufacturers are encouraged to produce a certain percentage of full-size pickup trucks that are hybrid electric vehicles, as they will receive compliance credits for doing so.

For more information on LDV GHG emissions and CAFE standards, please refer to the following resources:

Stay tuned for next month’s Question of the Month, where we will delve into the medium- and heavy-duty engine and vehicle standards.

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Fuel-Efficiency Standards Finalized for Heavy-Duty Trucks

The "U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have finalized new standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles that will improve fuel efficiency and reduce carbon pollution while also strengthening national energy security and manufacturing innovation."
The final standards are expected to lower CO2 emissions by approximately 1.1 billion metric tons, save vehicle owners fuel costs of about $170 billion, and reduce oil consumption by up to 2 billion barrels over the lifetime of the vehicles sold under the program. Overall, the program will provide $230 billion in net benefits to society, including benefits to the climate and Americans’ public health. Specifically, the EPA says these benefits outweigh costs by about an eight-to-one ratio.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

"Regulators Defend Fuel Standards"

From the Wall Street Journal:
)"Regulators Defend Fuel Standards" (U.S. News, July 19) notes the growing tension between consumer desires for larger, less fuel-efficient light trucks and ambitious automotive emissions and efficiency targets set by the Environmental Protection Agency. There is a proven but unfortunately overlooked solution to this problem: fueling light trucks with natural gas. Natural gas is much better suited for pickups and other large vehicles than electrification and conventional natural gas can reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 20%. Even better, greenhouse-gas emissions can be reduced by 90% or more with renewable natural gas captured from landfills or dairy farms, which is already providing over half of natural gas-vehicle fueling in California today.

These emissions benefits are easily on par with electric vehicles but regulators and legislators alike have failed to provide the same level of support. In particular, natural-gas vehicles ought to be eligible for the $7,500 federal tax credit that is currently available only to electric vehicles, as well as the considerable regulatory incentives for EVs provided by the EPA and California Air Resources Board. European countries such as Germany and Italy have proved that natural gas can become a low-cost, widely used alternative fuel with the right policies. With similar government support in the U.S., natural gas could allow auto makers to provide low-emission alternatives for the larger vehicles that consumers are gravitating toward.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

What are the key considerations when installing ethanol equipment at a fueling station?

Question of the Month: What are the key considerations when installing ethanol equipment at a fueling station?

Answer: For those new to ethanol fueling, installing the necessary infrastructure may be unchartered territory. From fuel specifications to dispensing regulations, the recently updated Handbook for Handling, Storing, and Dispensing E85 and Other Ethanol-Gasoline Blends is the go-to source for all your ethanol station installation needs. The Handbook is designed for those who blend, distribute, store, sell, or use ethanol blends above E10 (90% gasoline blended with 10% ethanol). Below is a summary of some of the top infrastructure considerations:

Blend Level
If you are considering an ethanol fueling station, one of the first decisions to be made is the blend level. Specifically:
  • Low-level blend: E10
    • Regulations and Specifications: E10 is subject to the same regulations and specifications as regular gasoline.
    • Equipment: E10 can be stored and dispensed in existing gasoline fueling equipment.
    • Vehicle Applications: Any gasoline-powered vehicle
  • Mid-level blend: E15 (10.5% to 15% ethanol); other common offerings include E25 (25% ethanol) and E30 (30% ethanol)
    • Regulations and Specifications: ASTM International (ASTM) D4806 -Standard Specification for Denatured Fuel Ethanol for Blending with Gasoline for Use as Automotive Spark-Ignition Engine Fuel
    • Equipment: For underground equipment, stations must adhere to federal code, which requires compatibility. The majority of tanks and pipes are compatible with all ethanol blends. For above-ground equipment, stations must use equipment listed for the fuel being sold. A list of compatible equipment is available in the Handbook.
  • Vehicle Applications:
    • E15: Flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs), model year 2001 and newer conventional light-duty cars and trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles
    • E25 and E30: FFVs
    • Note: FFVs can operate on any blend of gasoline and ethanol, up to 83% ethanol.
    • High-level blend: E85 (51% to 83% ethanol, depending on geography and season), also called ethanol "flex fuel"
  • Regulations and Specifications: ASTM D5798 - Standard Specification for Ethanol Fuel Blends for Flexible-Fuel Automotive Spark-Ignition Engines
  • Equipment: E85 fueling equipment is subject to the same requirements as mid-level blend equipment.
  • Vehicle Applications: FFVs

Fuel Quality
Most transportation fuel sold in the United States is blended to ASTM specifications, the fuel quality standard. These standards are recognized by federal and most state government agencies as the primary means of ensuring fuel quality. Fleets and retailers should work with their fuel suppliers to confirm that the fuel provided meets these requirements. After the installation of ethanol fueling equipment, operational precautions, such as periodic checks (e.g., once every one to two months) of fuel properties, should be performed to help assure fuel quality.

Infrastructure Requirements
An ethanol station consists of approximately 60 interconnected pieces of fueling equipment necessary to deliver fuel to vehicles, including tanks, pipes, pump, dispenser, and hanging hardware. UL is the primary third-party safety certification laboratory that has developed standards for listing fueling equipment.

As stated above, stations must meet federal compatibility requirements for underground equipment, which includes a letter stating compatibility from a manufacturer with specific biofuel blends or listing from a third party laboratory, such as UL. The majority of existing tanks and pipes are compatible with all ethanol blends. Some associated underground storage equipment, such as leak detection and prevention or fill equipment, may need to be replaced.

Above-ground equipment must be listed for the fuel blend being dispensed. UL listed above-ground equipment is available for E10, E25, and E85 blends. A complete list of compatible equipment is available in the appendices of the Handbook.

Note that some stations have UL-listed E85 blender pumps capable of legally dispensing ethanol blends between E0 and E85, including mid-level blends like E25 or E30, for FFV owners.

Federal law requires dispenser labels for ethanol blends above E10 to follow Federal Trade Commission specifications. Labels must be placed on the front panel of the dispenser in a position that is clearly visible. Approved labels are available free of charge from the Blend Your Own website. Some states have additional labeling requirements; check here to see if your state does.

When handling ethanol, it is important to keep safety procedures in mind. Like gasoline, ethanol is flammable, poisonous, and may contain additives that can be harmful even with casual contact. To avoid risk, personal exposure to ethanol should be minimized. To fight an ethanol fire, specific equipment, materials, and training is required. Before offering blends above E10, consult your local fire marshal to determine regulations governing safe ethanol handling procedures. It is also important to be familiar with specifications detailed in the E85 material safety data sheet.

For additional information on installing ethanol equipment at a station, such as a full list of codes and regulations, as well as a checklist for installing and dispensing ethanol blends, refer to the Handbook.

In addition, check out the Alternative Fuels Data Center's (AFDC) ethanol pages for general information, on ethanol fueling stations:

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

"LA Metro Considers Future with RNG"

From NGV Global News:
Emission reductions of both GHG and NOx from Low NOx engines and renewable natural gas (RNG) "are an order of magnitude more cost effective than reductions from transition to electric or fuel cell buses," is the conclusion of a report delivered to LA Metro in Los Angeles last week, reports Fleets&Fuels.

LA Metro is considering purchase options for the future following a decision by its Board in April to 'develop an initial outline for a comprehensive plan to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions by gradually transitioning to a zero-emission bus fleet'. The Cummins Westport Inc. (CWI) ISL G Near Zero (NZ) offers transit authorities an alternative product that is certified to optional near-zero emissions standards and will allow LA Metro to meet its goal of zero-emission transit buses more quickly and for less money.

F&F's editor Rich Piellisch summarises the information delivered by Dana Lowell of M.J. Bradley & Associates and Julia Lester of Ramboll/Environ for LA Metro:

  • Fleet costs will rise by just 1% with LNOx+RNG, as compared to 8% to 14% for all-electric buses or 9% to 13%.
  • There are significant emissions advantages: lower GHGs, lower NOx emissions
  • Less expensive

The ISL G NZ engine is built off the current ISL G platform, but requires Closed Crankcase Ventilation (CCV) that prevents crankcase emissions, a larger maintenance-free Three-Way Catalyst (TWC), and a unique engine calibration. Together, these improvements will allow the ISL G NZ to certify to 0.02g/bhp-hr, or 90 percent below the current U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) NOx standards.

LA Metro, which switched entirely to CNG fuel in 2011 and reportedly operates almost 2,200 CNG buses today, will use the report to guide future technology decision-making.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Tire Strategies to Save Fuel

Question of the Month: What vehicle tire strategies and technologies are available to save fuel?

Answer: It’s easy to understand why tires are essential to a vehicle, but tires also play an important role in your vehicle’s fuel economy. Tires affect resistance on the road and, therefore, how hard the engine needs to work to move the vehicle. By maintaining proper tire inflation or investing in low rolling resistance or super-single tires, you can improve your vehicle’s fuel economy. Whether you drive a light-duty vehicle (LDV) or heavy-duty vehicle (HDV), there is a tire strategy or technology to help you increase your miles per gallon (mpg).

Proper Tire Inflation

Properly inflated tires increase fuel economy, last longer, and are safer. Oak Ridge National Laboratory estimates that you can improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3% by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. In fact, under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by up to 0.3% for every one pound per square inch drop in pressure in all four tires. It is especially important to keep an eye on tire pressure in cold weather because when the air becomes cold, the tire pressure decreases.

You can find the proper tire pressure for your vehicle on a sticker located on the driver’s side doorjamb or in the owner’s manual. Also, check to see if your vehicle is equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), which will illuminate a dashboard light when the tire inflation, in one, multiple, or all tires reaches a certain pressure threshold. Fleet managers, in particular, may consider using telematics with a TPMS to assist their drivers with maintenance. Even if a vehicle has a TPMS, however, it is still good practice to manually check your vehicle’s tire pressure in order to ensure all of your tires are properly inflated.

Low Rolling Resistance Tires

Rolling resistance is the energy lost from drag and friction of a tire as it rolls over a surface. This phenomenon is complex, and nearly all operating conditions can affect how much energy is lost. For conventional and hybrid electric passenger vehicles, it is estimated that about 3%-11% of their fuel is used just to overcome tire rolling resistance, whereas all-electric passenger vehicles can use around 22%-25% of their fuel for this purpose. For heavy trucks, this fuel consumption can be around 15%-30%.

Installing low rolling resistance tires can improve vehicle fuel economy by about 3% for LDVs and more than 10% for HDVs. In LDVs, a 10% decrease in rolling resistance can increase fuel efficiency by 1%-2%. Investing in low rolling resistance tires makes economic sense, as the fuel savings from the use of these tires over the life of the vehicle can pay for the additional cost of the fuel-efficient tires. Most new passenger vehicles are equipped with low rolling resistance tires, but make sure you keep rolling resistance in mind when shopping for replacement tires.

Super-Single Tires

Reducing vehicle drag can provide significant fuel economy improvements. One way HDVs can reduce drag is by replacing traditional dual tires with one super-single tire—also called a wide-base or single-wide. In Class-8 heavy-duty vehicles (see the April Question of the Month for a definition), this can save fuel by reducing vehicle weight and rolling resistance. A super-single tire is not as wide as two tires, so there is a slight aerodynamic benefit as well, further improving vehicle efficiency.

More Information

For more information, see the following pages:

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Has OPEC lost its grip on oil prices?

In an article on USA Today, Hossein Askari, Iran professor of business and international affairs at George Washington University, says "OPEC is just powerless. They cannot agree to anything, both for political reasons and economic realities."
"I think we're in a newer paradigm for the oil market," said Rob Haworth, investment strategist and commodities expert at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. OPEC "can't afford to cut production in a meaningful way, so we are back to the market and the fundamentals of supply and demand and cost of production being the driver of price."

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Next Generation Heavy-Duty Natural Gas Engines Fueled by Renewable Natural Gas

This White Paper explores the need—and leading approaches—to immediately start deploying zero-emission and near-zero-emission heavy-duty vehicle technologies on a wide-scale basis in the United States.

During low oil prices, fleets with own CNG still saved money

Researcher Jon Gabrielsen says that "In the United States, with oil around $40/barrel of crude, just one alternative fuel remained cost-competitive, the analysis finds: compressed natural gas, or CNG." "I had to concede that despite the challenges to equip for CNG and the costs to upfit the vehicle, the savings are even larger, making it the lowest break-even proposition against diesel."

You can find his report here.

"Any time that one can fuel a commercial vehicle with CNG for at least fifty cents per DGE less than with diesel fuel then one will have at least a 3-year or shorter payback by having equipped for CNG instead of diesel."

Sunday, May 22, 2016

How Can I Use The AFLEET Tool To Make Decisions About Alternative Fuels?

Question of the Month: What is the AFLEET Tool, how can I use it to make decisions about alternative fuels, and what are the recent improvements?

Answer: Argonne National Laboratory's Alternative Fuel Life-Cycle Environment and Economic Transportation (AFLEET) Tool allows you to examine both the environmental and economic costs and benefits of alternative fuel and advanced vehicles. By entering data about your light- or heavy-duty vehicle(s), you can estimate petroleum use, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, air pollutant emissions, and cost of ownership.

AFLEET uses data from Argonne's Greenhouse gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in Transportation (GREET) model and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Motor Vehicle Emissions Simulator (MOVES) model to estimate life cycle (well-to-wheel) GHG and tailpipe air pollutant emissions. Users can either use the model's default values or get even more accurate results by customizing the tool with their real life vehicle or fleet data. By using AFLEET's simple input mechanism, users can answer questions such as:

  • What are the emissions savings of replacing a conventionally fueled fleet with alternative fuel vehicles?
  • What is the incremental cost, and potential return on investment, of buying a flexible fuel vehicle?
  • How many passenger vehicles will be "taken off the road" by using natural gas refuse trucks?

Fleets and others that have been using AFLEET since its original release in 2013 will be pleased to hear that AFLEET has been updated to reflect more recent emissions data. In addition, Argonne added new features to help users formulate a more complete picture of the costs and benefits of alternative fuels.

Updates include:

  • Fuel Prices: AFLEET uses public and private station pricing based on the 2015 average Clean Cities Alternative Fuel Price Report data. In addition, fuel pricing is now state-based rather than based on a national average. Users may also input a range of fuel prices to determine effects on simple payback models.
  • Infrastructure Costs: The updated version of AFLEET features data on fueling station and electric vehicle supply equipment infrastructure construction, operation, and maintenance costs. Users may also calculate other infrastructure-related costs, such as public station out-of-route mileage and fueling labor costs.
  • Latest Vehicle and Emission Data: AFLEET uses the latest GREET 2015 air pollutant emissions data, which includes updated heavy-duty fuel economy and emissions data, data for fuel cell electric vehicles, and updated life cycle data for renewable natural gas. AFLEET has also been updated to use the most recent version of EPA's MOVES data, 2014a.
  • Externality Costs: AFLEET output data now includes externality costs of national petroleum use and GHG emissions. Externality costs are the indirect damages associated with fuels that are not explicitly captured by the marketplace (e.g., property damages from increased flood risk as a result of climate change). Externality cost estimates will be useful in putting local vehicle and fleet decisions in a national perspective.

For information about and instructions for using AFLEET, refer to Argonne's AFLEET User Guide.

In addition, check out the Alternative Fuels Data Center's (AFDC) fuel-specific emissions pages for general information on the emissions impacts of the various alternative fuels:

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team

Friday, May 13, 2016

T. Boone Pickens at Hudson Institute

In a conversation with Arthur Herman.

T. Boone Pickens was the featured guest at the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC for a conversation hosted by Arthur Herman. This conversation is well worth watching because of the historical nature of the oil and gas industry through which Boone leads the audience. This is fact-filled but also generous with the famous Boone Pickens sense of humor.

To set the stage, Boone said that we use about 20 million barrels of oil per day (70 percent of that is used as our primary transportation fuel) and we import about half of it.

Boone talks about the tremendous impact horizontal drilling and fracking have had on the industry.

"I didn't believe horizontal drilling would work when I saw it the first time. You have one well, you bend the pipeline 90 degrees and extend it out 10,000 feet; you frack it 40-60 times and you have access to all that oil or gas with just one hole and one rig."

On American technology, Boone said, "When I got out of Oklahoma State University in 1951, we knew that over 90 percent of all the oil in the world had been found by American geologists and geophysicists. Today, 65 years later, it's still about the same."

Will oil prices go up? Boone thinks so: "Today we produce 93 million barrels per day worldwide. 70 percent of that goes to transportation fuel. The demand is growing, so next year we'll need 94.5 million barrels a day, but oil fields tend to deplete at about 4 percent a year. So, globally, we are seeing modest growth on the demand side, and modest reduction on the supply side. What happens? Prices have to go up."

What about the military cost involved in protecting Middle East oil? Boone told the group that 17 million barrels a day passes through the Straits of Hormuz. The U.S. gets about 1.2 million barrels – less than 10 percent – yet American taxpayers fund 100 percent of the costs.

"I asked the Pentagon if we could charge China and India and Europe for their share of those costs. They told me 'We can charge them, but they won't pay it.'"

On one of his favorite subjects, The Pickens Plan, Boone reminded the audience that he was not interested in changing passenger vehicles over to natural gas. But, moving from diesel to natural gas for heavy-duty trucks would save the truckers money because natural gas is much cheaper on a BTU-equivalent basis, it's cleaner than diesel, and because of our enormous natural gas reserves we don't have to worry about protecting someone else's natural gas supplies.

Boone was asked: If the next President asked you what three elements of an energy policy should be, what would you say? He replied that he would say that the speech should begin with, "We will use our own resources."

Second, Boone would tell them that we need to bring together Canada, the U.S. and Mexico to make it one oil and gas market as the North American Energy Alliance.

Third, get heavy-duty trucks on natural gas – not passenger cars or light trucks – and we can save 3 million barrels of oil per day.

What is the Hudson Institute?"
Founded in 1961 by strategist Herman Kahn, Hudson Institute challenges conventional thinking and helps manage strategic transitions to the future through interdisciplinary studies in defense, international relations, economics, health care, technology, culture, and law.

Hudson seeks to guide public policy makers and global leaders in government and business through a vigorous program of publications, conferences, policy briefings, and recommendations.

Clean Cities Videos

Here is Clean Cities' YouTube page where there are 436 videos to choose from, at this moment.

Videos from Clean Cities Coachella Valley which includes this video from T. Boone Pickens and this one, an overview for first responders.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

SunLine Transit Adds All-Electric Buses

"SunLine Transit Agency, which serves more than 3.5 million passengers annually in California’s Coachella Valley, says it has expanded its growing alternative fuel vehicles fleet with the addition of its first emissions-free, all-electric buses."
Electric vehicle manufacturer BYD has provided the 40-foot, low-floor transit buses with seats for 35 and room for more than 60 standing passengers to SunLine. The transit agency says it began testing the vehicle on service routes in January.

Technical white paper on air quality and climate protection

From US
May 6, 2016. Gladstein Neandross & Associates (GNA) released a technical white paper – written on behalf of multiple private and public sector organizations – that explores the need and approaches to start deploying zero-emission and near-zero-emission heavy-duty vehicle technologies on a wide-scale basis in the United States. With approximately 166 million Americans residing in areas with exceedingly poor air quality, and with greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) contributing to global climate change, America needs to more aggressively transform on-road HDVs to the lowest emission technologies and fuels available. The White Paper has compared four fuel-technology combinations to address these goals and has concluded that there is only one pathway in highly impactful heavy-duty trucking applications that meets the commercial feasibility and logistics tests to immediately begin this transformation. This is near-zero-emission heavy-duty natural gas vehicles fueled by increasing volumes of ultra-low-GHG renewable natural gas (RNG).

"As progressive corporations and municipalities across America are looking for ways to reduce their environmental footprint, we are seeing increased focus on the transportation sector to address sustainability goals," said Erik Neandross, CEO of Gladstein, Neandross and Associates, co-author of the whitepaper. "This engine-fuel combination provides a phenomenal opportunity for progressive heavy-duty fleet operators to effectively eliminate emissions from their mobile operations."

Heavy-duty natural gas engine technology available today is more than 90 percent cleaner than the most stringent applicable U.S. EPA standards for oxides of nitrogen. With such low-emissions, this engine technology has a similar smog-precursor emission profile as that of a heavy-duty battery electric truck plugged into the cleanest electrical grid in the nation. These benefits, as well as significant reductions in GHG emissions, are achieved with HDVs fueled by conventional natural gas. When fueled with RNG (made from renewable waste stream sources such as landfill gas, dairy waste, waste water treatment plants and other sources), lifecycle GHG emissions are reduced by more than 80 percent.

The combination of new near-zero-emission natural gas engine technology and RNG provides the single best opportunity for the U.S. to achieve immediate and substantial NOx and GHG emission reductions in the on‑road heavy‑duty transportation sectors. Equally important, major reductions of cancer‑causing toxic air contaminants can immediately be realized in disadvantaged communities adjacent to freeways and areas of high diesel engine activity, where relief is most urgently needed.

This White Paper also describes recommended actions for government and industry stakeholders that will help begin broad deployments of this engine/fuel combination. These recommendations include 1) establishing or strengthening national, state and local incentive funding programs to help produce and deploy these new-generation heavy-duty NGVs, and 2) developing focused efforts that help produce and transport RNG, where the economics and logistics are most conducive.

Friday, April 29, 2016

What are the various vehicle weight classes and why do they matter?

Question of the Month: What are the various vehicle weight classes and why do they matter?

Answer: Which Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard applies to my vehicle? What are the state emissions testing requirements for my vehicle? Would a medium-duty vehicle qualify for the plug-in electric drive motor vehicle tax credit? To answer these questions and determine which laws, regulations, and incentives may apply to your vehicle or fleet, you must first understand the specifics of the vehicle weight classifications.

You may recall learning about federal agencies and vehicle classes from our February Question of the Month. However, each agency defines vehicle classes differently. So this month, we will dig deeper into the specific vehicle weight classes set by three federal agencies. This guide will help you identify a Class 1 vehicle to a Heavy-Duty Vehicle 8b, and everything in between.

U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)

The FHWA defines vehicles as Class 1 through 8, the most common categorization used in the fleet industry. The classes are based on a vehicle's gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), which is the maximum operating weight of the vehicle, measured in pounds (lbs.). GVWR is set by the manufacturer and includes the total vehicle weight plus fluids, passengers, and cargo. The FHWA's vehicle classes (listed below) are used in the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act (e.g., as it relates to the National Highway Freight Program). The vehicle classes are also used by certain states to determine vehicle road and fuel taxes, access to roadways, and idle reduction and emissions reduction requirements.

  • Light-Duty Vehicle: less than (<) 10,000 lbs.
    • Class 1: <6,000 lbs. Example vehicle: Sedan or sport-utility vehicle (SUV)
    • Class 2: 6,001 – 10,000 lbs. Example vehicle: Utility van
  • Medium-Duty Vehicle: 10,001 – 26,000 lbs.
    • Class 3: 10,001 – 14,000 lbs. Example vehicle: Mini bus
    • Class 4: 14,001 – 16,000 lbs. Example vehicle: Step van
    • Class 5: 16,001 – 19,500 lbs. Example vehicle: Bucket truck
    • Class 6: 19,501 – 26,000 lbs. Example vehicle: School bus
  • Heavy-Duty Vehicle: greater than (>) 26,000 lbs.
    • Class 7: 26,001 – 33,000 lbs. Example vehicle: City transit bus
    • Class 8: >33,000 lbs. Example vehicle: Dump truck

For more vehicle examples, see the Types of Vehicles by Weight Class chart.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

The EPA uses the following categories to certify vehicles based on emissions standards, in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's CAFE standards to regulate fuel economy. The light-duty vehicle category is also used in Energy Policy Act vehicle acquisition requirements. Note that there is a distinction between vehicles and engines in the EPA's classification because there are separate emissions standards for each.

Passenger Vehicles
  • Light-Duty Vehicle: <8,500 lbs.
  • Medium-Duty Vehicle: 8,501 – 10,000 lbs.
Heavy-Duty Vehicles and Engines
  • General Trucks
    • Light-Duty Trucks: <8,500 lbs.
    • Heavy-Duty Vehicle Heavy-Duty Engine: >8,500 lbs.
  • Heavy-Duty Trucks
    • Light-Duty Truck 1 and 2: <6,000 lbs.
      • Split is based on loaded vehicle weight (LVW), where:
        • Light-Duty Truck 1: <3,750 lbs. LVW
        • Light-Duty Truck 2: 3,751 – 6,000 lbs. LVW
    • Light-Duty Truck 3 and 4: 6,001 – 8,500 lbs.
      • Split is based on adjusted loaded vehicle weight (ALVW, the average of the GVWR and the curb weight, which is the weight of the vehicle without passengers or cargo), where:
        • Light-Duty Truck 3: <5,750 lbs. ALVW
        • Light-Duty Truck 4: >5,750 lbs. adjusted ALVW
    • Heavy-Duty Vehicle 2b: 8,501 – 10,000 lbs.
    • Heavy-Duty Vehicle 3: 10,001 – 14,000 lbs.
    • Heavy-Duty Vehicle 4: 14,001 – 16,000 lbs.
    • Heavy-Duty Vehicle 5: 16,001 – 19,500 lbs.
    • Heavy-Duty Vehicle 6: 19,501 – 26,000 lbs.
    • Heavy-Duty Vehicle 7: 26,001 – 33,000 lbs.
    • Heavy-Duty Vehicle 8a: 33,001 – 60,000 lbs.
    • Heavy-Duty Vehicle 8b: >60,000 lbs.
  • Heavy-Duty Engines
    • Light Light-Duty Truck: <6,000 lbs.
    • Heavy Light-Duty Truck: 6,001 – 8,500 lbs.
    • Light Heavy-Duty Engine: 8,501 – 19,500 lbs.
    • Medium Heavy-Duty Engine: 19,501 – 33,000 lbs.
    • Heavy Heavy-Duty Engine Urban Bus: >33,000 lbs.

U.S. Census Bureau

The U.S. Census Bureau uses the following Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey classes to measure how many private and commercial trucks operate within the United States.

  • Light-Duty Vehicle: <10,000 lbs.

  • Medium-Duty Vehicle: 10,000 – 19,500 lbs.

  • Light Heavy-Duty Vehicle: 19,001 – 26,000 lbs.

  • Heavy-Duty Vehicle: >26,000 lbs.

States are not consistent, as some use one of the classifications above and others develop their own classifications for various state laws, regulations, and incentives related to vehicles. Be sure to check your state legislation and program guidance to determine which classifications apply. For example, the California Air Resources Board typically uses "heavy-duty" to describe vehicles with a GVWR greater than 14,000 lbs., which is referenced in the Mobile Source Emissions Reduction Requirements.

Looking for a more visual comparison of the various classifications? Check out the Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) Vehicle Weight Classes and Categories chart.

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team

Friday, April 22, 2016

"Let’s Make OPEC Irrelevant, Not Just Laughable"

From T. Boone Pickens:
Nearly 40 years ago, OPEC nations met and brought America to her knees overnight. Long gasoline lines. Gasoline prices skyrocketed. Crippling economic conditions. Nearly two generations have passed since then. That translates to 185 million Americans - more than half of all Americans - who have never experienced that hardship or challenge. But those of us who did will never forget it.

My, how times have changed. OPEC nations - and a few others - gathered in Doha, Qatar the other day to address the slide in oil prices that threaten their economic viability and their national security. Powerful gathering? Hardly. Laughable is more like it.

Led by the Saudi contingent, with their own resolution in hand, they met to approve a freeze on production at January levels. It would have been a meaningless gesture, but, still, the markets took note. Oil prices perked in advance of the confab in anticipation of "positive" news.

That gathering was as fractured as the Mid East itself. There was no agreement. It was a comical sideshow on the global energy stage that proves, yet again, just how irrelevant OPEC has become these days.

There are much more important issues playing out on that same energy stage that will move oil prices higher in the coming months. Consider these operational outages and challenges:
  • U.S. rigs have fallen by 75 percent and 30 percent internationally. In the U.S. alone, that has led to a steeper and steeper decline of oil and natural gas production.
  • We're closing in on 300,000 lost jobs in the energy space in America.
  • We are witnessing production declines in China, Brazil, Mexico, Kazakhstan, Latin America, Europe and many other nations.
  • As if this is not enough, in the last month, we have seen production outages in Kuwait, Iraq, Nigeria and Venezuela.
And then there's Russia. They have moved in and out of the Middle East, having been kicked out in the 1970s. They are back in now, and whether it's for "diplomacy" or control of oil supplies, they are a growing factor. And, know this: Russia has never been a nation that's fostered stability. Instability is more their game.

Thankfully, we're now a nation with options. Credit stunning advances in horizontal drilling and fracking that position us rich in energy resources. We're now the number one natural gas producer in the world, and in the top three for crude oil production.

America's potential energy future has never been brighter. But there's a challenge, and that's whether we - as a nation - are willing to learn a lesson we should have learned 40 years ago, and that's putting our own energy future in our own hands.

The best way to do that is to utilize free market principles and inject serious fuel competition in the transportation mix. Governments at all levels can and should lead the way. One way to start: Open their fleet vehicle and fuel purchasing to competing domestic fuels. Let the cleaner, cheaper, domestic option - and taxpayers - win. Let's make OPEC and those other oil-producing nations irrelevant.

It will take an energy plan. It's like planting a tree. The best time to plant one was 40 years ago. The second best time is today. Count on me to make that a key issue in the coming presidential election.

Rather than spending hour after hour feuding over delegate selection strategies in the Republican primaries, or the role of Super Delegates on the Democratic side, candidates for public office at all levels should be elbowing each other out of the way to present the best energy program for America.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

73% Of Americans Prioritizing Alternative Energy

In a recent Gallup poll, 73% of respondents said they personally are prioritizing use of alternate energy sources. Past polls show that a majority of Americans have favored alternative energy since 2011, but "this year marks the first time a majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents prefer an alternative energy strategy:" 51%. One theory offered for this is that with lower gasoline prices, Americans feel there is less risk in shutting down some oil drilling in the U.S.

Here is the page on the Gallup website where they present the results of this poll.

Monday, March 21, 2016

What are some common questions related to the federal tax credits for alternative fuels and infrastructure?

Question of the Month: It's tax time! What are some common questions related to the federal tax credits for alternative fuels and infrastructure?

Answer: Tax season is upon us, and the recent federal tax incentive extensions and changes impact the alternative fuel and infrastructure tax credits.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 (H.R. 2029) retroactively extended several tax credits, including the Alternative Fuel Excise and Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Tax Credits. It also included updates to calculation method for the Alternative Fuel Excise Tax Credit amounts, specifically for propane and liquefied natural gas (LNG). Below we discuss three recent frequently asked questions about these credits.

How have the Alternative Fuel Excise Tax Credit amounts changed for propane and LNG in 2016 and beyond?

The Alternative Fuel Excise Tax Credit applies to alternative fuel sold or used to operate a motor vehicle. Previously, the excise tax credit amount for propane and LNG was based on a volumetric basis ($0.50 per gallon). For fuel sold or used starting January 1, 2016, however, the excise tax credit amount for propane and LNG is based on an energy equivalent basis. This means the credit for propane is now measured per gasoline gallon equivalent (GGE) and LNG is measured per diesel gallon equivalent (DGE). Specifically, the updated Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 8849, Schedule 3 defines 2016 tax credit rates for propane and LNG as follows:
  • Propane: One GGE is equal to 5.75 pounds (lbs.) or 1.353 gallons of propane.
  • LNG: One DGE is equal to 6.06 lbs. or 1.71 gallons of LNG.
What does this mean for propane and natural gas retailers and fleets? In short, the tax credit for the same amount of fuel is now less:
  • The propane tax credit was previously $0.50 per gallon and is now $0.50 per GGE (1.353 gallons of propane), which equates to $0.37 per gallon.
  • The LNG tax credit was previously $0.50 per gallon and is now $0.50 per DGE (1.71 gallons of LNG), which equates to $0.29 per gallon.
The tax credit amount for compressed natural gas (CNG) is still based on the GGE, where one GGE is equal to 121 cubic feet.

Natural Gas Vehicles for America (NGVAmerica) provides additional information on federal tax incentives for LNG and CNG, and highlights the impacts of the recent tax credit changes in the article New Year Rings in Changes for CNG and LNG in 2016. The National Propane Gas association explains the excise tax equalization for propane.

So, you said the Alternative Fuel Excise Tax Credit was retroactively extended. Does that mean I can claim it for fuels sold or used in 2015?

Yes! Both the federal Alternative Fuel Excise Tax Credit and Biodiesel Mixture Excise Tax Credit were extended to cover 2015, meaning that propane, CNG, LNG, hydrogen, and biodiesel sold or used in 2015 are eligible for the federal tax credit. To file for the tax credit, registered claimants must submit a single one-time 2015 claim with IRS Form 8849, as well as the accompanying Schedule 3. The deadline to submit a claim for fuels sold or used in 2015 is August 8, 2016. Please note that the tax credit amount for propane and LNG sold or used in 2015 is based on the previous, volumetric rate of $0.50 per gallon.

For additional information on claiming the tax credit for fuels sold or used in 2015, please see IRS Notice 2016-05.

Are tax-exempt entities eligible for the Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Tax Credit?

While a tax-exempt entity, such as a school or state government fleet, may not be eligible to claim the Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Tax Credit directly, the entity selling the fueling infrastructure to the tax-exempt entity can claim the credit and pass the "discount" along to the fleet. According to Title 26 of the United States Code, Section 30C(e)(3), the entity selling the fueling equipment to the tax-exempt entity can be treated as the taxpayer and claim the Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Tax Credit, but only if the seller discloses the amount of the credit allowable to the tax-exempt purchaser in writing. In practice, this means the tax-exempt fleet would have the opportunity to use this information to request a discount. However, the infrastructure seller is not required to pass along any savings associated with the tax credit.

For more information on how tax-exempt entities may be eligible for the Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Tax Credit, please see the IRS Instructions for Form 8911.

Please note that the Technical Response Service recommends consulting a qualified tax professional or the IRS before making any tax-related decisions.

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team

Clean Energy CEO Strongly Supports Senator Inhofe letter to EPA

From Clean Energy:
March 18, 2016—CEO Andrew J. Littlefair today gave his strong support to Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and the letter he delivered to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, detailing how the EPA should incorporate natural gas vehicles into remediation efforts when investigating the Volkswagen diesel emissions issue.

"Senator Inhofe has given the EPA a proven path to significantly remediate the excess diesel emissions caused by Volkswagen. Natural gas vehicles with the new 'Near Zero' engine, available on the market today, lower nitrogen oxide emissions by 90 percent or more over their diesel counterparts, and provide a cost-effective real-world answer to this challenge. Only a comprehensive solution including both light duty electric vehicles, and natural gas vehicles in the medium and heavy-duty trucking markets, will be able to correct the damage caused to our environment."

Natural gas fuel costs less per gallon than gasoline or diesel, depending on local market conditions. The use of natural gas fuel not only reduces operating costs for vehicles, but also reduces greenhouse gas emissions up to 30% in light-duty vehicles and 23% in medium to heavy-duty vehicles. In addition, nearly all natural gas consumed in North America is produced domestically.

You can find a copy of the Senator's letter here. He says:
Volkswagen has until March 24 to provide the court with an explanation as to how it plans to fix the emissions problem with the diesel vehicles that the company has acknowledged violate emission standards set under the Clean Air Act. I understand that EPA has requested Volkswagen produce light duty electric vehicles as part of the settlement: in February, Reuters reported EPA "was asking VW to produce electric vehicles at its plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and to help build a network of charging stations for electric vehicles in the United States." While EPA has favored EVs in the past and inevitably will continue to do so, EVs are not the only answer to mitigating the Volkswagen emissions issue. If the purpose of the settlement is to remediate the excess nitrogen oxide and other pollutants emitted by compromised Volkswagen light duty vehicles, requiring light duty EV production will have little overall impact. It is my understanding that new heavy-duty natural gas powered trucks can be equipped with engines that lower nitrogen oxide emissions by 90 percent or more compared to available diesel engines, and that these heavy-duty vehicles, if deployed, could offset significantly more pollution than electric vehicles, and in a much more cost-effective way.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Fuel Cell Electric Buses in California

From the California Fuel Cell Partnership

Fuel Cell Electric Buses in California

More than 15 years of experience in California

California has 20 fuel cell electric buses (FCEBs) operating in daily revenue service at three locations.
  • 13 in the San Francisco East Bay by AC Transit
  • 5 in the Coachella Valley with SunLine Transit, with 7 additional buses planned for delivery
  • 1 at UC Irvine
  • 1 at Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) (coming April 2016)
  • 1 25-passenger transit shuttle is funded for operation by Fresno County Rural Transit Agency
  • 2 25-passenger transit shuttles are funded for Cal State LA
  • 2 29-passenger transit shuttles are funded for SunLine

Interest in zero-emission buses is growing here and abroad

38 applicants recently applied for $23.6 million (FY14-15 funds) in state funding for zero-emission buses and medium and heavy-duty vehicles. This grant funding cycle was over-subscribed for a total of $290 million in requests. Another $60 million was planned for FY 15-16 for this program, but remains unappropriated.
  • The European Union is currently soliciting applicants for a program to build up to 100 fuel cell electric buses, validating industry reports that sufficient volume can reduce the cost to an equivalent of $700k per bus.
  • In China, construction has begun on more than 300 FCEBs for the cities of Rugao, Foshan and Yunfu in 2016/17.
  • In Japan, Hino, a subsidiary of Toyota, plans on producing 100 FCEBs for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Why FCEBs?

Fuel cell electric buses have consistently demonstrated superb operating performance in their ability to maintain sustained power and acceleration in a wide spectrum of operating conditions, smooth and quiet operation, and the same range as conventional buses with about double the fuel efficiency. Plus -
  • No local in-route emissions
  • Quiet operations
  • Operate well in extreme temperatures

FCEBs pave the way for the introduction of heavy-duty vehicles
  • Transit agencies tend to be first adopters of advanced heavy-duty vehicle technologies. Such efforts enable the private sector to assess and adopt these technologies.
  • Supporting zero-emission buses, battery and fuel cell, will not only help local transit agencies contribute to on-road emission reduction, it will also help develop the technology for other medium and heavy-duty vehicle platforms.

Status Report
  • More than 2.7 million miles in service in California.
  • More than 2.5 million passengers carried in California.
  • DOE and DOT have set performance targets. These targets (e.g. range or fuel economy) have been achieved or are within line of sight without requiring major technology advances (e.g. durability).
  • California Fuel Cell Partnership
  • FCEBs are at Technology Readiness Level 7 – Level 9 is considered commercial.
  • The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has collected FCEB data across North America since 2004.

SunLine Transit (Thousand Palms, CA)
  • In 1994, SunLine was the first transit agency in the U.S. to transition its entire fleet to CNG buses.
  • In 2001, SunLine acquired its first FCEB. The most recently received buses represent SunLine's 8th generation of FCEBs.
  • Since then, its fuel cell buses have accumulated more than 1.3 million miles.

AC Transit (Oakland, CA)
  • Since 2000, AC Transit has been building the most comprehensive hydrogen fuel cell demonstration program in the United States.
  • From 2006 to 2010, AC Transit operated three FCEBs, logging more than 270,000 miles and carrying over 700,000 passengers, all while achieving significantly greater overall energy efficiency than diesel buses.
  • In 2010, AC Transit received 12 new FCEBs, which have since logged more than 1.4 million miles and 174,281 hours of operation. In 2014, the FCEB transferred from CT Transit was added, bringing the total size of the AC Transit fleet to 13.
  • The lead fuel cell on one bus is now at 22,000 hours of life and is a 2002 design that was not expected to exceed 5,000 hours.
  • AC Transit's fuel cell buses have consistently achieved 60% greater fuel efficiency than comparable diesel buses. On higher speed, commuter routes, the efficiency has been as much as twice that of the diesel fleet.

Centers of Excellence

CaFCP's members developed the Bus Road Map which calls for Northern and Southern California centers of excellence in order to provide the economies of scale necessary for substantive cost reductions. SunLine Transit, a national and international leader in FCEB demonstration, is committed to becoming a center of excellence and a showcase for the technology.

A center of excellence would have these features:
  • A large scale deployment of fuel cell hybrid buses that comply with transit agency requirements and are operated in normal revenue service on scheduled runs (e.g. no compromise or deviation in service)
  • A 12-year operating period, per US DOT FTA
  • Hydrogen fueling infrastructure with throughput sufficient to achieve a fuel cost per mile comparable to conventional buses
  • Regional training and education for transit staff and community stakeholders


Questions? Contact the California Fuel Cell Partnership
Nico Bouwkamp, Technical Program Manager,
Keith Malone, Public Affairs,
Bill Elrick, Executive Director,