The Yahoo! Groups Product Blog
- Members: 378
- Category: Energy
- Founded: Nov 9, 2001
- Language: English
Show Message Summaries
Sort by Date
March 22, 2012
As Young Lose Interest in Cars, G.M. Turns to MTV for Help
By AMY CHOZICK
DETROIT — Ross Martin, 37, is a published poet and a former drummer in an alternative rock band. Wearing Nike high tops and loosefitting jeans, he is the kind of figure who wouldn’t attract a second glance on the streets of Brooklyn, where he lives.
But on a chilly afternoon here last month he managed to attract a few odd looks as he walked across the 24th floor of General Motors’ global headquarters. Mr. Martin is the executive vice president of MTV Scratch, a unit of the giant media company Viacom that consults with brands about connecting with consumers.
He and his team are trying to help General Motors solve one of the most vexing problems facing the car industry: many young consumers today just do not care that much about cars.
That is a major shift from the days when the car stood at the center of youth culture and wheels served as the ultimate gateway to freedom and independence. Young drivers proudly parked Impalas at a drive-in movie theater, lusted over cherry red Camaros as the ultimate sign of rebellion or saved up for a Volkswagen Beetle on which to splash bumper stickers and peace signs. Today Facebook, Twitter and text messaging allow teenagers and 20-somethings to connect without wheels. High gas prices and environmental concerns don’t help matters.
“They think of a car as a giant bummer,” said Mr. Martin. “Think about your dashboard. It’s filled with nothing but bad news.”
There is data to support Mr. Martin’s observations. In 2008, 46.3 percent of potential drivers 19 years old and younger had drivers’ licenses, compared with 64.4 percent in 1998, according to the Federal Highway Administration, and drivers ages 21 to 30 drove 12 percent fewer miles in 2009 than they did in 1995.
Forty-six percent of drivers aged 18 to 24 said they would choose Internet access over owning a car, according to the research firm Gartner.
Cars are still essential to drivers of all ages, and car cultures still endure in swaths of suburban and rural areas. But automobiles have fallen in the public estimation of younger people. In a survey of 3,000 consumers born from 1981 to 2000 — a generation marketers call “millennials”— Scratch asked which of 31 brands they preferred. Not one car brand ranked in the top 10, lagging far behind companies like Google and Nike.
The five-year strategic vision that Scratch has developed for Chevrolet, kept quiet until now, stretches beyond marketing to a rethinking of the company’s corporate culture. The strategy is to infuse General Motors with the same insights that made MTV reality shows like “Jersey Shore” and “Teen Mom” breakout hits.
Mr. Martin calls the G.M. headquarters the “Death Star,” after the Star Wars headquarters of Darth Vader. He says he understands the unlikely melding of cultures he is trying. “We know we’re people who don’t fit in here,” he said.
The partnership is intended to transform things as diverse as the milieu at the company’s steel-and-glass headquarters, the look of its Chevrolet cars, the dealership structure and the dashboard technology. Even the test drive is being reimagined, since young consumers find riding in a car with a stranger creepy, Scratch said.
Automakers are realizing that if they do not adjust to changing youth tastes, they “risk becoming the dad at the middle school dance,” said Anne Hubert, senior vice president at Scratch, who leads its consulting practice and works closely with G.M.
Last summer, Mr. Martin and his team temporarily transformed part of the G.M. lobby into a loftlike space reminiscent of a coffee shop in Austin or Seattle, with graffiti on the walls and skateboards and throw pillows scattered around. As part of its “Millennial-Con,” Scratch brought in viral video stars like Sergio Flores, known as the Sexy Sax Man, a musician with a mullet and a denim jacket.
Mr. Martin has recruited what he calls “insurgents,” young Chevrolet employees who are willing to change things from the inside and report to him on skeptical executives.
“How do you embed the voice of a generation in a company the size of G.M.?” Mr. Martin said, sinking into an armchair near a communal coffee maker. “It’s like moving a crater.”
But G.M. was determined to be moved. “It was the early days after bankruptcy, and we said, ‘What are we really going to do differently in the next five or 10 years?” said Mark L. Reuss, president of General Motors North America.
He lined up meetings with Viacom. He asked executives how the company could apply MTV’s research and programming strategy to Chevrolet, which makes up 70 percent of G.M.’s sales in the United States and was, in the halcyon days of the car, a youth brand. The companies homed in on several of Chevy’s small and more fuel-efficient models like the Sonic, Cruze and Spark.
Founded in 2010 as part of MTV, Scratch now taps into audiences that watch other Viacom cable channels like Comedy Central, Spike and VH1. It is a new source of revenue for the media company outside traditional advertising.
“We used to use research in a very proprietary way, but it became clear advertisers were hungry for our insights,” said Philippe Dauman, Viacom’s president and chief executive.
G.M. hired John McFarland, a 31-year-old marketing executive who previously worked at Procter & Gamble, to oversee the company’s MTV-ification. Mr. McFarland said it had been a challenge to prove to his bosses that young consumers had money to spend ($170 billion in buying power, according to the market research firm comScore), and did not just rely on their parents.
“There’s been a lot of pessimism in the auto industry towards this generation,” said Mr. McFarland over a plate of brisket at Slows Bar BQ in Detroit’s Corktown district.
But signs of change are there. On a recent Tuesday morning in the General Motors Technical Center, which was designed by Eero Saarinen, a couple of car executives huddled around a “persona board” in the color and trim laboratory.
They studied a collage loaded with images of hip products like headphones created by Dr. Dre, a tablet computer and a chunky watch. The board inspired new Chevrolet colors, like “techno pink,” “lemonade” and “denim,” aimed at “a 23-year-old who shops at H&M and Target and listens to Wale with Beats headphones,” said Rebecca Waldmeir, a color and trim designer for Chevrolet. This rainbow of youthful hues will be available on the Spark this summer.
Still, any turnaround will not be quick. Car designs have around a three-year lead time. The paint has to dry (colors are baked in the Arizona desert for a year before they are approved and introduced to consumers). And the car industry, from assembly line to union to smooth-talking dealer, revolves around a powerful and entrenched culture.
It is also unlikely that G.M. will adopt some of Scratch’s advice. After installing “secret shoppers” at select nationwide Chevrolet dealerships, Scratch recommended that salespeople abandon the hard sell and that the traditional system, based on commissions, be reimagined. Young buyers, they realized, are used to the Apple store, where salespeople do not push products. (Joel Ewanick, G.M.’s global chief marketing officer, said the automaker was training dealers on how to adapt to young car buyers.)
“We tried to teach dealers how to calibrate conversations,” Mr. Martin said. “Stop trying to be cool and give them the fist pump. They can tell you don’t get it.”
Improving Environmental Performance in Your Chinese Supply Chain
By Erica Plambeck, Hau L. Lee and Pamela Yatsko
December 21, 2011
It’s not easy, but some leading companies have found that the right incentives and collaborative efforts can help their suppliers achieve better environmental performance.
Rather than simply monitoring Chinese suppliers’ compliance with local environmental, health and safety standards, leading multinational companies are giving suppliers tools and incentives to independently improve environmental performance.
Given how much of the world’s manufacturing takes place in China and the damage it has wrought on that country’s environment, most analysts expect that multinational brands’ supply chains will face increasing scrutiny in the coming years. As nongovernmental organizations heighten their monitoring and the Chinese government enforces new laws to increase transparency and accountability, multinational corporations can expect growing pressure to run a clean supply chain.
For companies, the costs of ignoring problems can be considerable. For example, in August 2011, a consortium of five Chinese environmental NGOs focused attention on Apple, the beloved U.S. technology giant, for using Chinese suppliers with outstanding public pollution violations and ignoring the NGOs’ earlier entreaties to redress the problems.1 International headlines soon reported “Apple Attacked Over Pollution in China”2 and “Apple Cited as Adding to Pollution in China.”3 Within a month, Apple was in talks with the environmental organizations to clean up its — and its suppliers’ — act.
And NGOs no longer just scrutinize MNCs’ immediate suppliers. Greenpeace International in July 2011 singled out Nike, Adidas and other major brands for doing business with a big Chinese textile group found to be discharging toxins into a local river. It didn’t matter that Nike and Adidas sourced finished garments from the group’s cut and sew facilities, not from its fabric factories that most likely released the toxins.4
How can MNCs avoid such embarrassments? Even for high-profile companies like Nike and Adidas, which are ahead of industry peers in promoting environmental improvement in their supply chains, it may never be completely possible. But MNCs can minimize risks in China if they heed the sometimes painful lessons that these and other leading companies have learned in recent years about managing their Asian supply chains. (See “About the Research.”) Rather than simply monitoring Chinese suppliers’ compliance with local environmental, health and safety (EHS) standards, leading companies are giving suppliers tools and incentives to independently improve environmental performance. They are helping suppliers use energy, water and materials more efficiently and reaching deeper into their supply chains to where the greatest environmental damage occurs. At the same time, they are overcoming their traditional reluctance as competitors to cooperate in monitoring and fixing problems at common suppliers.
About the Research
The authors have long experience researching supply chain management, environmental sustainability and/or China business issues. We conducted our research over a one-and-a-half-year period with the cooperation of leading multinational buyers (mostly in the apparel and footwear industries), their suppliers and environmental nongovernmental organizations and industry forums. Among the companies whose efforts contributed to the authors’ understanding of the subject were multinational buyers Nike, Levi Strauss, Adidas, Patagonia, Timberland, Walmart and General Electric. Suppliers included Esquel Enterprises, PrimeAsia Leather, ISA Tan Tec, Luen Thai Holdings, Yuen Thai Industrial, Shanghai Uchino and Ningbo Shenzhou Knitting. Also providing input were NGOs and industry groups active in China such as the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, Business for Social Responsibility, Fair Labor Association and the Leather Working Group. We conducted more than 20 interviews, mostly with sustainability or corporate responsibility managers. In a few cases, interview subjects responded to written questions. We also consulted published sources, including some teaching cases developed by the authors. Information has also been drawn from industry conferences on environmentally and socially responsible supply chains organized by the authors at Stanford University.
We group the lessons MNCs have learned into two categories based on “the knowing-doing gap” — that is, what you need to know and how you should act on what you know.5
Getting to Know Your Supply Chain
Any sustainability effort in China must start by creating a context that facilitates identification and visibility into the supply chain. Five activities can help foster a “knowing” environment in China:
1. Provide incentives for identifying, disclosing and addressing problems. Many multinational buyers have found themselves in an incessant cycle of auditing for EHS compliance by their Chinese suppliers. They ask the supplier to correct one thing, which it does, only to have to ask it to fix another. As a result, suppliers end up relying on the buyer rather than developing their own desire and expertise to identify and fix problems without prodding.
Chinese suppliers often don’t see the need to disclose an environmental problem to buyers unless they’ve received a direct request for information from a buyer. Take the case of a large Chinese cotton fabric supplier to many multinational apparel brands, which in 2006 had to pay $1 million for dumping contaminated water directly into a river in southern China — a fact that clients discovered from third parties. Executives say the company simply did not recognize the importance of sharing that information. In other cases, factories intentionally obfuscate, treating, for instance, a lower percentage of discharged water than claimed.
The way MNCs currently perform EHS compliance auditing — known as “standing guard” and “the checklist approach” — has done little to change these types of behaviors. Concerned buyers have come to realize that the time and money spent on auditing for both EHS and labor compliance have not yielded the expected returns. A spate of research, mostly focused on working conditions, has underscored the limits of audits alone as a tool for improving supplier performance.6 Press reports in 2006 spotlighted how adept Chinese factories had become at hiding problems from auditors and revealed the growth of an indigenous consulting industry designed for just that purpose.7
Another reason checklist audits sometimes don’t work is that auditors are susceptible to bribery. “Corruption is widespread,” said a former representative of a Walmart supplier in China. “The audit companies have the power to hurt the factories, so lots of bribery goes on.” Using an internal audit team is preferable, although companies need to manage these teams carefully. “Often these people are hired from the local community so the potential for corruption is still there,” he said.8
Faced with those frustrations, MNCs are moving away from relying exclusively on auditing by putting into place practices that encourage Chinese suppliers to take more responsibility for improving environmental performance. While they are not planning to jettison their EHS auditing programs, they are trying to incentivize suppliers to look for and disclose deficiencies themselves. For instance, if a Chinese supplier identifies a problem, it should not be shamed for the problem with a downgrade in its EHS rating, which would discourage self-reporting, says Amanda Tucker, Nike’s director for sustainable manufacturing performance. Nike, therefore, makes negative disclosures reflect positively on suppliers’ records.
Suppliers know that if they volunteer the correct data about a problem, Levi Strauss will not give them a zero-tolerance violation and will work with them to fix the problem.
Levi Strauss normally gives a supplier that provides false or inconsistent records a “zero tolerance” violation. After two or three such warnings, the apparel company usually terminates its relationship with a factory. However, suppliers know that if they volunteer the correct data about a problem, Levi Strauss will not give them a zero-tolerance violation and will work with them to fix the problem.
Luen Thai Holdings, a Levi Strauss supplier with apparel manufacturing operations in China and elsewhere in Asia, finds that this approach works well. Unfortunately, Luen Thai executives complain, not all customers are as “mature” as Levi Strauss. Rather than working with suppliers to solve problems, they say, many buyers simply audit factories and give sanctions for noncompliance.
Leading MNCs have also learned not to push transparency too hard, too fast at Chinese and other Asian suppliers, as doing so can backfire. If a company airs its contractors’ “dirty laundry” in a way that causes them to “lose face” with industry peers and buyers, they may start to hide or falsify information. Financial bonuses for improved performance can also make matters worse by giving suppliers even more incentive to cover up problems. MNCs therefore should take pains to put negative reporting on a supplier in a proper context so that the information cannot be misinterpreted. Tucker’s advice: Proceed, but proceed “thoughtfully.”
2. Collaborate with nongovernmental groups to facilitate monitoring and help Tier 1 and subtier suppliers self-identify problems. To encourage Chinese suppliers to take greater responsibility for improving their operations’ environmental performance, concerned buyers are also working with NGOs. In a shift from previous times when they might have had a solely adversarial relationship, many leading brands now cooperate with monitoring NGOs. For example, Timberland, Walmart, Nike and other buyers collaborate with the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, a Beijing-based nonprofit that tracks domestic and foreign companies’ air and water violations in China published by local environmental protection bureaus. These buyers use IPE’s database to screen new and existing Chinese Tier 1 suppliers and to encourage suppliers to fix problems when violations are found. Some MNCs have also started using the database to evaluate and monitor Tier 2 suppliers.
Timberland is one of the buyers that collaborates with the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, a Beijing-based nonprofit that tracks domestic and foreign companies’ air and water violations in China.
More than 100 multinational corporations, including Apple, became acquainted with IPE through the NGO’s program of contacting foreign companies directly about pollution violations at their Chinese factories or suppliers as a pressure tactic to spur compliance. In mid-July 2009, for instance, IPE and Beijing-based Friends of Nature, China’s oldest environmental NGO, sent a letter to Timberland CEO Jeffrey Swartz about repeated violations at two Timberland materials suppliers, Shanghai Richina Leather in Shanghai and Falcon Tannery in Guangdong. Neither factory had responded to the NGOs’ earlier communications regarding the infractions. In the letter, the NGOs asked Swartz if Timberland knew about the pollution violations when it chose the factories as suppliers and whether it would take action to stop the breaches. When they did not receive a response, they alerted the press.9 A flurry of correspondence followed in which Timberland attempted to address the NGOs’ concerns and proposed ways to work together.
Contacted by IPE about wastewater discharge violations at some of its Chinese suppliers, Nike now urges current or prospective suppliers that turn up on IPE’s blacklist to post an analysis of the violation’s causes, indicate the corrective actions they took and provide a current environmental performance update. Of the 13 factories Nike found blacklisted since it launched a China transparency program in mid-2009, all have complied with its request, say Nike managers. Nike also encourages its suppliers to use IPE’s database to proactively monitor their own operations and those of their suppliers.
Some first-tier suppliers agree that the IPE database is useful. Hong Kong-based apparel maker Esquel Enterprises says the database helps it decide which subtier suppliers to work with on improvements and which to shift away from. The company has had some successes in using the IPE mechanism to drive improvements: At Esquel’s request, Nantong Yiyi Interlining Co. in Jiangsu province contacted IPE in July 2008 about a 2006 violation of water discharge standards posted on IPE’s site. In 2009, an IPE-monitored factory audit confirmed Nantong Yiyi had spent about 850,000 yuan to improve its wastewater treatment facility and upgrade its environmental management.
Multinational electronics manufacturers are collaborating with NGOs as well. Ten member companies of the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) recently submitted their Chinese supplier lists to the nonprofit Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), which then searched IPE’s database to identify water pollution violations among the suppliers.10
3. Make use of improving Chinese government data to augment internal supply chain transparency efforts. In addition to getting suppliers to self-identify problems, brand owners should pay attention to the Chinese government’s recent efforts to measure more accurately environmental problems and progress. For example, China’s central government last year issued the results of its first official nationwide census on pollution sources, which revealed that twice as much polluted water was discharged in 2007 as was previously reported.11 If the quality of government data continues to improve, buyers will do well to use that as a second source of information about partners and potential partners.
4. Work with multibrand forums to standardize Chinese supplier audit data at Tier 1 and subtiers. Rather than going to the trouble of developing their own environmental audit process, MNCs are working together in multibrand forums to create standardized social and environmental audit protocols. Similar to efforts in the electronic industry,12 the Fair Labor Association, for instance, is creating a standardized audit for labor and basic EHS compliance and developing a database to capture that information. According to FLA CEO Auret van Heerden, member companies look in the database to see whether a factory has been audited. If it has, then they can either conduct another audit using the same questions and scoring to update the old audit, or they can just add more information about an outstanding remedial item.
5. Encourage environmental transparency as an efficiency tool. In most businesses, the things most likely to get done are those that directly impact the bottom line. Now, a number of MNCs have found that besides the other advantages, a closer look at the supply chain can reveal opportunities to cut costs. Take Walmart’s efforts over the last two years to pinpoint the ingredients, country of origin and suppliers’ suppliers for its 6,000 private brand products. Scrutiny of its organic cotton supply chain led Walmart to purchase and ship cotton directly from Turkey to Guatemala for processing and final garment assembly rather than processing the cotton in China and then shipping to Guatemala — a change that lowered CO2 emissions and Walmart’s costs. Ultimately, buyers who arm themselves with better knowledge can design a supply chain that is not only cleaner but cheaper.
Act on Knowledge From Improved China Transparency
Once buyers have created an environment that provides visibility into their Chinese supply chain, they need to respond effectively to what they now know. To accelerate this process in China, companies should follow seven courses of action:
1. Encourage the training of more Chinese environmental professionals. China may enjoy an abundance of factory labor, but it suffers from a severe shortage of sustainability professionals. Not recognized as important in China until recently, the discipline was not taught at Chinese universities, and few Chinese entered the profession. Moreover, Chinese suppliers often appoint people with the wrong skills for environment-related jobs. They tend to select EHS staff not on the basis of their expertise in environmental engineering or manufacturing processes, but for their communication and English language abilities, in order to enable them to interact with MNC corporate responsibility departments.
This means buyers often cannot find a qualified point person at Chinese suppliers to drive environmental initiatives. Not that the auditors are necessarily the best people to judge their expertise: Buyers’ EHS auditors, both internal and third-party, are often not much better on technical issues. EHS auditors know what suppliers need to achieve, but they often cannot instruct suppliers how to do it, says Nigel Bennett, engineering director for garment manufacturer Yuen Thai Industrial, a subsidiary of Luen Thai Group, in southern China.
Concerned buyers try to fill the gap by training staff at their Chinese suppliers. Once trained, however, these employees are difficult to retain. Buyers do not control how much a supplier pays its newly minted EHS professionals, who are often poached by other suppliers, lured away by the prospect of a higher salary.
This paucity of EHS professionals and environmental engineers in China limits the potential for self-reporting and improving environmental performance in general. Chinese suppliers are often reluctant to disclose problems that they do not know how to fix. When combined with other barriers to environmental transparency and sustainability in China, such as relatively low fines for environmental violations, spotty enforcement of regulations, unsophisticated factory management and high capital equipment costs, Chinese suppliers often find paying pollution fines easier than fixing problems.
Some brands are trying to overcome China’s human resources conundrum by banding together. Adidas, Timberland, Walmart, Nike and GE are among the multinationals participating in a new EHS academy in Guangdong in collaboration with the Chinese government and the Institute for Sustainable Communities, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization. Together with a planned sister school in Jiangsu, the academy will eventually train 4,000 managers a year.
2. Put skin in the game. Prospects for ownership of environmental improvement are greatest at Chinese factories where concerned buyers have invested time and money. Consider the case of Nike. Over the last six years, the Beaverton, Oregon, athletic shoe and sports apparel brand has implemented an intensive environmental engineering program at some 40 footwear suppliers located primarily in China, Vietnam and Indonesia. The program, which establishes performance baselines and sets improvement targets, focuses on increasing the efficiency of materials use, reducing the use of hazardous waste and petroleum-based solvents and maximizing scrap utilization. Benefiting from the efforts of seven full-time Nike environmental engineers and close collaboration across technical functions, the footwear factories now generate one-third less nonhazardous materials waste and have reduced hazardous waste by almost 40% per pair of shoes manufactured since the program started. Their use of solvent-based chemicals has also fallen dramatically, by 96% from a 1995 baseline.
Nike has implemented an intensive environmental engineering program at some 40 footwear suppliers located primarily in China, Vietnam and Indonesia. Those footwear factories now generate one-third less nonhazardous materials waste and have reduced hazardous waste by almost 40% per pair of shoes manufactured since the program started.
Nike environmental engineers spend more than 80% of their time driving environmental initiatives at these suppliers, rather than simply auditing them for EHS compliance. Nike enjoys the lion’s share of the factories’ production output, which makes factory management more willing to follow up on Nike’s recommendations for environmental improvements and avoids the problem of other buyers free-riding on Nike’s efforts. Nike’s other active contract suppliers, which number more than 130 in China alone, can be less amenable to Nike’s requests. Most of them are apparel suppliers, for whom Nike is a small account. With less leverage, Nike has found it more difficult to capture their hearts and minds.
Nike’s recommendations to apparel factories may have lacked teeth for another reason too: Created in the late 1990s, Nike’s corporate responsibility department, which oversaw EHS compliance at suppliers, did not have an equal say in making factory sourcing decisions with traditional Nike business functions. CSR officers tended to enter the decision-making process late in the game, when momentum in favor of a supplier was too strong to redirect. Recognizing this dysfunction, Nike in 2009 set out to embed its sustainability function into design, manufacturing and marketing decisions from the get-go.
3. Learn from your suppliers and facilitate learning among suppliers. A nascent movement among proactive Chinese suppliers to share environmental data and plans with buyers is beginning to grow. One company, Esquel, with multiple textile and garment manufacturing sites in China and operations ranging from cotton growing to garment assembly, is part of a small group of suppliers to multinational apparel and footwear brands that is proactively taking measures to improve environmental transparency and sustainability. Besides monitoring its Chinese suppliers for pollution violations using IPE’s database, Esquel has implemented energy and water conservation programs and is developing a comprehensive framework for measuring its products’ carbon footprint. It also voluntarily publishes discharge data and plans to publish its own corporate social responsibility report.
Proactive suppliers such as Esquel can teach concerned buyers lacking in operational expertise how to fix environmental problems. Buyers, in turn, can transfer best practices to other suppliers. Yuen Thai Industrial, for instance, instructed the EHS auditors from its most important multinational buyer on its methods for recycling water and reducing emissions from coal-fired boilers. At a stakeholder meeting in the spring of 2009, the buyer invited YTI and other suppliers to teach the buyer and the other stakeholders about their environmental projects.
Similarly, Walmart’s private brands organization is bringing together representatives from approximately 15% of its supply base in noncompeting groups to share experiences and find environmental sustainability and other supply chain efficiency gains. Patagonia has created a forum for exchange through The Footprint Chronicles, its interactive website that includes video, supplier profiles and chat groups that track the impact of specific Patagonia products. Company quality director Randy Harward believes that more has been accomplished within Patagonia’s supply chain by suppliers viewing what other suppliers are doing than by almost anything else that Patagonia has done.
Proactive suppliers in China see their environmental initiatives as enhancing their competitiveness. Pressure from multinational buyers, the Chinese government and NGOs has ignited action. Walmart, for example, ratcheted up pressure on its suppliers to improve transparency by requiring them to disclose the name and location of every factory they use to make the products Walmart sells. All had done so by mid-2010, according to the company.13 Proactive suppliers believe the market for eco-friendly products will grow and see their efforts as good for business over the long term. Luen Thai executives, for instance, say they look forward to winning more business from customers as a result of the company’s environmental initiatives.
4. Collaborate with other buyers to drive change in your common suppliers. To get the many more unenthusiastic suppliers to take requests for environmental improvements seriously, concerned buyers are working together in China to boost their collective leverage. Brands have collaborated on labor compliance at Chinese suppliers for some time, but joint efforts on EHS and deeper environmental issues are just getting off the ground. Nike began working with like-minded buyers, such as Levi Strauss and Adidas, on EHS audit report sharing, monitoring and remediation of their common Chinese apparel suppliers in 2007.
Leading companies are also extending collaboration on environmental work further into their multitiered supply chains — to their suppliers’ suppliers, where previously they had little presence. Although most pollution occurs in the manufacturing of the materials that go into final products (Tier 2), buyers traditionally concentrated efforts on their Tier 1 suppliers, which do final assembly and with whom they have direct relationships.
Besides gaining more leverage to drive environmental improvement through collaboration, buyers can gain more reach by sharing monitoring costs, which are considerable given the complexity of fixing environmental deficiencies and the sheer number of suppliers. Walmart has nearly 20,000 Tier 1 suppliers in China alone. Adidas has nearly 400. Through collaboration, buyers expect to derive better environmental performance information more systematically from suppliers than they garnered in the early days of labor compliance evaluation, when they developed monitoring programs on their own.
Some Chinese suppliers are only too happy to work with the auditor for a group rather than multiple auditors. They say the explosion in the number of audits can divert their attention away from actually fixing problems. Luen Thai managers, for instance, complained of having to spend more time attending to audits and writing corrective action plans than focusing on correcting issues found in previous audits. Executives say each factory is audited once or twice a month, in most cases seeking repetitive information. Esquel puts the total number of EHS audits it fields at 170 per year.
While some suppliers welcome collaborative auditing, others are uncomfortable with it, at least at first. The experience of having a group of auditors simultaneously poring over a factory’s records can be intimidating for suppliers. As a result, it pays to start off brand collaboration slowly to accustom suppliers to the concept and see its benefits. This may mean simply sharing findings about a factory in the beginning rather than immediately conducting joint on-site audits.
5. Find like-minded buyers with whom to build collaborative auditing and remediation processes at shared factories. Striking up collaborations on EHS audits with one or two other brands, however, can be complicated. For one thing, concerned buyers often do not share Chinese factories with brands that put as many resources toward EHS auditing as they do, which limits the number of suppliers at which concerned buyers can attempt to collaborate. For another, when they succeed in finding an equally committed brand at a shared factory, the EHS standards, priorities and competence of the two audit teams may differ greatly: A globally accepted environmental accountability standard does not exist yet. Buyers tend to use audit instruments and methods of collecting information developed on their own.
These differences can make integrating one brand’s findings into another’s factory EHS rating system dangerous, especially if sourcing decisions are based on those findings. Companies need to make sure they are comparing apples with apples so as not to inadvertently treat a factory unfairly, which could cause it to hide problems. When choosing partners, Nike determines the degree of similarity of the buyer’s audits with its own. Rather than seek agreement on all aspects of its counterpart’s environmental checklist, Nike tries to focus more on identifying a critical problem that both buyers see as a priority at a particular shared supplier, such as poor wastewater management. They then work together to encourage the supplier to upgrade its wastewater treatment capability.
Breaching antitrust laws during collaborations is always a concern for buyers. But the brands most involved in environmental collaboration, such as Adidas and Levi Strauss, do not see it as an insurmountable impediment. Under U.S. antitrust law, companies cannot share or act on privileged information that influences consumer prices or creates some other anticompetitive situation. They also cannot take joint action against a supplier. Rather, they must make their own decision about what to do if the supplier does not follow through with their requests to fix a problem.
For instance, Levi Strauss and Adidas could agree that a Chinese supplier should put in a wastewater treatment plant. What they cannot do is jointly decide to cut off the supplier if the supplier decides not to do it. If properly managed by the brand collaborators, antitrust concerns should not impact on sharing factory-level environmental performance data. Antitrust is more of an issue for collaboration on labor compliance because of the potential to discuss wages, which can influence pricing.
6. To reach Tier 2, you need friends. Given resource constraints and the complexity of having all the conditions in place for successful buyer-to-buyer collaboration on environmental monitoring and remediation, collaboration via multi-stakeholder forums led by NGOs or industry groups may offer greater hope for environmental improvement, particularly further up the supply chain. Groups such as FLA, BSR and Organic Cotton Exchange can bring more buyers and suppliers to the table and help concerned buyers find like-minded counterparts with similar capacities and supply chains to monitor shared Chinese suppliers.
Buyers in BSR’s Apparel, Mills and Sundries Working Group, for instance, share two types of audits of participating materials suppliers: a labor and basic EHS audit from agreed-upon external monitors and, more significantly, an audit focusing solely on environmental issues from third-party monitors with proven environmental expertise. To increase buyer leverage and supplier motivation, BSR also encourages brands to sign group letters from their sourcing and procurement departments stating that the recipient can expect more business if it makes environmental improvements.
Buyers and suppliers with operations in China are also rallying around industry-led efforts, such as the Leather Working Group, a cross-brand collaborative organization started in 2005 to improve environmental performance at the tanneries that supply buyers’ contract footwear manufacturers. Multinational brands such as Timberland and Nike, U.K.-based leather advisory company British Leather Consortium, and leather suppliers together developed an environmental assessment protocol. LWG-sanctioned auditors with leather industry expertise use the protocol to monitor and rate qualified tanneries as bronze, silver or gold.
LWG suppliers support this industry-led forum because they receive fewer audits, and LWG-sanctioned auditing companies understand leather-manufacturing processes and can provide recommendations. They also like that the audit is specific to the tanning industry and promotes comparison of environmental performance solely among tanners rather than with software and other less-polluting industries. LWG has also initiated collaboration among the tanners themselves. “Before the Leather Working Group came around, you’d probably never find the tanners sitting around the table together and discussing their energy numbers, and their water numbers, and what their environmental practices are,” says David Wright, chief environmental officer for PrimeAsia Leather, which operates tanneries in China, Taiwan and Vietnam. Now, they share information on better waste disposal options and other issues.
Multinational buyers support LWG because they share auditing costs via a member fee, have a standardized platform for comparing tanneries and get tanneries moving in the right direction. They credit collaboration through LWG with improving greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption by more than 15% between its member tanneries’ first and second audits, which took place 18 months apart. Timberland wants all of its leather suppliers to be LWG silver-rated by the end of 2010.
That being said, buyers need to keep a close eye on third-party monitors hired via environmental collaborations like LWG. This was a lesson that LWG and its members learned the hard way when one of the two Chinese tanneries that IPE flagged in its 2009 imbroglio with Timberland turned out to have received LWG’s silver rating. Following the incident, participating buyers leaned on LWG to strengthen its auditing protocol.
Whether choosing to audit materials suppliers in collaboration with other buyers or not, buyers will have to rely on third-party monitors with expertise in environmental issues to carry out Tier 2 assessments in China, rather than relying on in-house auditors. Few buyers on their own are sophisticated enough or have the resources to monitor Tier 2, which is often more complicated environmentally than Tier 1. For this reason, Patagonia, which assesses Tier 1 suppliers itself, is working with Switzerland-based Bluesign Technologies to monitor Tier 2 in China and elsewhere. Again, the challenge for most buyers will be to find third-party monitoring companies in China that have the environmental expertise needed to work effectively at Tier 2. NGOs can help. BSR, for instance, is helping buyers set up mechanisms for sharing information about which third-party monitors are credible.
7. Tailor programs to local realities. Similarly, buyers may run into problems finding credible technical service providers in China to work with their suppliers. China’s energy service companies are a case in point. The list of services an energy service company offers in China is normally more limited than in developed markets, according to BSR, which helps buyers with their energy efficiency programs at Chinese suppliers. Moreover, poor contract enforcement in China and uncertainty about the survival of many small and medium-sized enterprises there mean suppliers and energy service companies are not normally willing to enter into the same sort of long-term energy performance contracts as in developed markets.14 This lack of maturity in China’s energy service industry was just one of the issues that Walmart had to work around when it started planning its energy efficiency program, announced in 2008, for its top 200 suppliers in China.
Ultimately, concerned MNC buyers have learned that environmental programs implemented successfully at home cannot necessarily be rolled out the same way in China. They now understand they must tailor programs to meet human resource constraints and other local conditions, while providing incentives that encourage suppliers to take ownership of environmental initiatives. Tailored correctly, energy efficiency programs are proving a great first step toward helping Chinese suppliers take charge of environmental improvement and self-reporting. It is relatively easy for buyers to encourage suppliers to implement them because they promise cost savings.
Environmental compliance or even working on wastewater quality can be a harder sell, since these programs do not offer suppliers immediate economic rewards. Once suppliers see improvements and savings from an energy efficiency program, they may be more willing to move onto bigger projects and take more ownership. Walmart reports that 119 factories participating in its China energy efficiency program achieved a more than 5% increase in efficiency as of 2010.15 Such progress can lead suppliers to ask, “What’s next? What else can we do?”
Halfway Up the Mountain
None of this will be quick or easy. Unlike with earlier initiatives, buyers and NGOs alike are under no illusion that Chinese supply chains — indeed, any emerging-market supply chain — can be brought into environmental compliance overnight. Instead, concerned buyers now see improving transparency and environmental performance as a gradual process that requires thoughtful engagement with suppliers.
As Andy Ruben, Walmart’s vice president of private brands and former vice president for sustainability puts it, “We need to push what we and our supplier base are comfortable with, but at the same time we realize that if we are halfway up the mountain and our supply base is not with us, we’re not really halfway up the mountain at all.”
Erica Plambeck is the Walter Kenneth Kilpatrick Professor of Operations, Information and Technology in the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Senior Fellow in the Woods Institute for the Environment. Hau L. Lee is the Thoma Professor of Operations, Information and Technology at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the director of the Stanford Global Supply Chain Management Forum. He is on the board of Esquel, one of the companies discussed in this article. Pamela Yatsko is a writer and researcher. She is a former Shanghai bureau chief for the Far Eastern Economic Review and author of New Shanghai: The Rocky Rebirth of China’s Legendary City.
1. See “The Other Side of Apple II: Pollution Spreads Through Apple’s Supply Chain,” Friends of Nature, Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs, Green Beagle, Envirofriends, and Green Stone Environmental Action Network, Aug. 31, 2011, www.ipe.org.cn/Upload/Report-IT-V-Apple-II.pdf.
2. L. Hook and K. Hille, “Apple Attacked Over Pollution in China,” Financial Times, Aug. 31, 2011.
3. D. Barboza, “Apple Cited as Adding to Pollution in China,” New York Times, Sept. 1, 2011.
4. See “Dirty Laundry: Unravelling the Corporate Connections to Toxic Water Pollution in China,” Greenpeace International, July 2011; “Adidas Group Response to Greenpeace Report,” Adidas Group, July 2011; and J. Watts, “Greenpeace Report Links Western Firms to Chinese River Polluters,” The Guardian, July 12, 2011.
5. J. Pfeffer and R.I. Sutton, “The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge Into Action” (Boston: Harvard Business Press, 2000).
6. R. Locke, M. Amengual and A. Mangla, “Virtue out of Necessity? Compliance, Commitment, and the Improvement of Labor Conditions in Global Supply Chains,” Politics & Society 37, no. 3 (September 2009): 319-351; R.M. Locke, F. Qin and A. Brause, “Does Monitoring Improve Labor Standards?: Lessons from Nike,” Industrial and Labor Relations Review 61, no. 1 (October 2007): 3-31; and R. Locke and M. Romis, “Improving Work Conditions in a Global Supply Chain,” MIT Sloan Management Review 48, no. 2 (winter 2007): 54-62. Our analysis of a game-theoretic model suggests that an increase in auditing effort by a buyer results in lower compliance effort by the supplier and increased risk of violations and negative public relations (of the sort recently experienced by Apple) in two cases. In the first case, the buyer bears a substantially higher cost associated with a violation than does the supplier, and the supplier is likely to be able to hide problems from the auditor. Then, high audit intensity motivates the supplier to hide rather than comply. In the second case, the supplier has thin margins, a high cost of compliance and substantial cost in the event that a violation is detected. Then, the supplier does not hide information from the auditor. Instead, the supplier relies on the auditor to identify problems. As the buyer puts more effort into auditing, the supplier has a lower risk of suffering an externally detected violation for any given level of compliance effort, and therefore the supplier puts less effort into compliance; in short, the supplier free-rides on the buyer’s auditing effort. An alternative approach is for the supplier to engage and pay a reputable third party to undertake the auditing. That may improve compliance and profitability for both buyer and supplier — assuming the third party is not corrupt. Q. Zhang and E.L. Plambeck, “Auditing, Hiding, and Compliance in Socially Responsible Supply Chain Management,” working paper, Stanford Graduate School of Business, 2011.
7. T. Fuller, “‘Sweatshop Snoops’ Take on China Factories,” New York Times, Sept. 15, 2006; and “Secrets, Lies, and Sweatshops,” Business Week, Nov. 27, 2006.
8. E.L. Plambeck and L. Denend, “Wal-Mart’s Sustainability Strategy,” Stanford Graduate School of Business case no. OIT-71 (Stanford: Stanford University, April 17, 2007): 9.
9. W. Clem, “Timberland Linked to Polluting Factories,” South China Morning Post, Aug. 7, 2009.
10. “Electronics Supply Networks and Water Pollution in China: Understanding and Mitigating Potential Impacts,” Business for Social Responsibility, November 2010.
11. S. Oster, “China Report Finds Extensive Pollution,” Wall Street Journal, Feb. 10, 2010.
12. The Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition in 2007 launched the E-TASC program (the electronics industry’s Tool for Accountable Supply Chains) to manage data and share audit results.
13. “Walmart Global Sustainability Report: 2010 Progress Update” (Bentonville, Arkansas: Wal-Mart Stores Inc., 2010), http://cdn.walmartstores.com/sites/sustainabilityreport/2010/WMT2010GlobalSustainabilityReport.pdf.
14. “Unlocking Energy Efficiency in China: A Guide to Partnering With Suppliers,” Business for Social Responsibility, May 2010, p. 11.
15. “Walmart Global Sustainability Report.”
March 22, 2012
Tesla’s Ambitions Fueled by Customer Down Payments
By PETER EAVIS.
After reading about Tesla Motors’ new electric sedan three years ago, Rob Stelling drove 100 miles to the carmaker’s showroom in Menlo Park, Calif., and put down $40,000 in cash to make an early reservation for the Model S.
“It took them 20 minutes to count it,” said Mr. Stelling, a clinical laboratory scientist from St. Helena, Calif., who expects the car to be delivered this summer. “Tesla’s the only company that makes a premium, no-compromise electric car.”
Customers like Mr. Stelling have become an important source of cash for Tesla, which collected $61 million of down payments in 2011, up from $5 million in 2010
Like many clean-energy start-ups with ambitious goals, Tesla is consuming large amounts of money as it develops its electric cars. For most of its nine-year existence, the carmaker, whose earlier Roadster sports car attracted the likes of George Clooney and Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas, has mainly relied on the federal government and stock investors for money.
Now, Tesla is increasingly using customer down payments to finance operations. Without the deposits, the company’s operations would have consumed $175 million of cash last year instead of $114 million.
But that money could dry up if the company experiences production delays or other bumps in the road. Then Tesla would be more reliant on a clean energy loan from the government. The federal program is facing increased scrutiny after the solar panel maker Solyndra collapsed last year, exposing the government to big losses on its loan to the company.
For now, the flood of customer cash reflects the strong demand for the Model S, which Tesla says will be able to go from zero to 60 miles per hour in 5.6 seconds. More than 8,000 consumers have plunked down money to reserve one of the sedans, with some signing up years before its expected release this summer. Earlier this year, Tesla started taking down payments for the Model X, a gull-winged crossover vehicle that is expected to be released in 2014.
“Tesla seems to have a business model that’s going to work,” said Jesse Pichel, an analyst at Jefferies & Company, a brokerage firm. Mr. Pichel’s first research report on Tesla was titled “If Apple Made a Car, This Could Be It!”
The deposit on the basic Model S sedan, which is projected to have a base price of about $57,000 before tax credits, is roughly $5,000. Customized versions require down payments of tens of thousands of dollars.
But consumer cash — at least before the cars are rolling off the production line — may not be a reliable source of financing.
Customers can pull back their deposits at anytime, since Tesla has not required them to sign purchase agreements. The company plans to obtain official contracts after production begins on the Model S, which is scheduled for the middle of this year.
If there are production hiccups, some buyers may have second thoughts and ask for refunds. The Roadster was delayed for several months.
A Tesla spokesman, Ricardo Reyes, says he still expects the first Model S deliveries to take place on schedule in July.
And some customers welcome a short delay. “It’ll give me more time to save the money,” said Patrick A. Lynch, a lawyer from Providence, R.I., who put down $5,000 in February on the sedan.
Contract or not, customers may not have much protection should Tesla face a cash squeeze.
Once the money is deposited with the company, Tesla can use the bulk of it to finance its regular operations, rather than walling it off in segregated accounts. Should the company run into real financial trouble, customers may not be able to recover their money because they will be behind major creditors like the federal government.
Tesla itself discusses the risks of not segregating its cash in its latest annual report. For instance, the company says it has to separate funds that come from customers in Washington State, so far a relatively small market for the company.
In the annual report, Tesla adds: “There can be no assurance that other state or foreign jurisdictions will not require similar segregation of reservation payment received from customers. Our inability to access these funds for working capital purposes could harm our liquidity.”
For now, Tesla’s practice does not seem under threat in California, its biggest source of down payments. A spokesman for the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles said as long as the “reservation process is refundable,” the agency would not take action. Mr. Reyes said Tesla had adequate alternative sources of cash, including $189 million it can still tap on a federal loan.
And prospective customers — the ultimate arbiters of the company’s success — remain enthusiastic about Tesla’s products. Some say they don’t mind that the company is using their funds.
“At the end of the day,” Mr. Lynch said, “I really believe in what they’re trying to do.”
March 24, 2012
The Electric Car, Unplugged
By JOHN BRODER
THE future would appear bright for the electric car. Gasoline prices are high. The government is spending billions on battery technology. Auto companies are preparing to roll out a dozen new electrified models. Concern is growing about the climate impacts of burning oil. And tough new fuel economy standards are looming.
Yet the state of the electric car is dismal, the victim of hyped expectations, technological flops, high costs and a hostile political climate. General Motors has temporarily suspended production of the plug-in electric Chevy Volt because of low sales. Nissan’s all-electric Leaf is struggling in the market. A number of start-up electric vehicle and battery companies have folded. And the federal government has slowed its multibillion-dollar program of support for advanced technology vehicles in the face of market setbacks and heavy political criticism.
The $41,000 Volt, in particular, has become a target of conservatives. Glenn Beck called the Volt “crappy.” Rush Limbaugh accused General Motors of “trying to kill its customers” by selling an unsafe car. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said while campaigning for president in Georgia last month that the Volt was too small to handle a gun rack (a claim proved wrong repeatedly on YouTube).
Daniel F. Akerson, the chairman of General Motors, defended the Volt before Congress earlier this year after revelations that the battery pack in one Volt caught fire three weeks after a federal crash test. Federal authorities eventually declared the car no more flammable than regular gasoline-fueled vehicles.
“Unfortunately, there’s one thing we did not engineer,” Mr. Akerson said. “Although we loaded the Volt with state-of-the-art safety features, we did not engineer the Volt to be a political punching bag. And that, sadly, is what it’s become.”
Is this the beginning of the end of the latest experiment in the electric car, whose checkered history goes back to the dawn of the automobile age? Can the electric car survive only with heavy government subsidies and big consumer rebates? Are the Teslas and Fiskers and ActiveEs and Volts and Leafs destined to be the playthings of only rich technophiles with a couple of spare gas-powered cars at home?
Or is this what an emergent technology looks like before it crosses the valley of death?
“Face it, this is not an easy task,” said Brett Smith, assistant research director at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. “You still have an energy storage device that’s not ready for prime time. You still have the chicken and egg problem with the charging infrastructure. That’s not to say it’s not viable over the long run. But the hype is gone and the challenges are still there.”
The market for all-electric and plug-in electric cars in the United States is tiny, amounting to fewer than 20,000 sales last year out of total light-vehicle sales of 12.8 million. Even in optimistic forecasts, plug-in vehicles will account for less than 5 percent of the global market by 2025.
Hybrids that do not require external charging, however, like today’s Toyota Prius and many others already in showrooms, are a growing segment. Forecasters say they could represent as much as 6 percent of the market by 2015 and 25 percent by 2025, in part because they are among the few vehicles currently on track to meet the government’s proposed new fuel economy standard of roughly 50 miles per gallon by 2025.
Other propulsion technologies, like natural gas and fuel cells, are more likely to be seen first in heavy trucks and local delivery vans because of limited refueling options.
Jon Bereisa is a former G.M. systems engineer who helped design the Volt and was among the lead developers of the company’s mid-1990s experiment in electric vehicles, the ill-fated EV1. He says that the prospects for the electric car are much better today than they were then, but technical development, cost reduction and consumer acceptance are going to take far longer than most people expect.
“There is much more political support for it today, for a variety of reasons,” he said. “Global warming, energy security, petroleum prices, all these vectors are aligned to support the electrification of the automobile, whether it’s hybrid, plug-in, extended-range hybrid or full battery-electric.”
But he added that the Volt was an incredibly complicated device in the early stages of development. “When you push the start button, you’ve got 10 million lines of software running. On an F-15, it’s about eight million lines of code. You’re really driving a modern data center, and a lot can go wrong.”
He noted that the current Volt was the first generation and predicted that its third version, which will come between 2020 and 2025, will gain wide acceptance, as long as G.M. does not end the project and the government backs a nationwide infrastructure of charging stations.
PRESIDENT OBAMA, who has been a strong supporter of alternative vehicle and fuel technologies, proposed this month spending more than $4 billion to encourage purchases of electric and natural gas vehicles and to speed construction of charging and fueling stations. He is seeking to raise the current $7,500 purchase incentive for electric and plug-in electric vehicles to $10,000, and to make it a point-of-sale rebate rather than a credit to be claimed on a tax return.
David B. Sandalow, the assistant secretary of energy for policy and international affairs, said that the Obama administration was fully committed to nurturing this technology, and he is persuaded that, eventually, it will catch on.
“It is the future of transportation,” said Mr. Sandalow, who saves money on gas by commuting to work in a Prius converted to run 30 miles on battery power alone. “The only question is how fast and how soon.”
He said that China, Germany, Israel, South Africa and other nations were racing ahead with electric vehicle programs and maintained that President Obama’s goal of putting one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015 was achievable if Congress fully financed his rebate and infrastructure proposals.
Most analysts doubt the million-car goal is achievable, as the enthusiasm over electrification in the industry has begun to flicker and the price of battery technology remains stubbornly high.
At the recent auto show in Geneva, for example, Peter Schwarzenbauer, a top executive at Audi, said of electric vehicles, which generated considerable buzz at previous shows, “Reality is phasing in.”
And Dieter Zetsche, the chief executive of the German automaker Daimler, said that cost, range and consumer rates remained serious problems for the electric car. Still, he said, the company would continue work on such vehicles, as well as those powered by gasoline, diesel and hydrogen.
“There is no alternative,” Mr. Zetsche told reporters. “We believe it is our responsibility to push this technology forward and make it marketable.”
The fate of the electric car remains hazy, with technical, economic and political forces working both for and against it. Chris Paine, who made the 2006 documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?” about the demise of G.M.’s EV1 at the hands of the car company, government regulators and the oil industry, said he was alarmed at how quickly the political climate had turned against the Chevy Volt and other electric vehicles, and offered a theory as to why.
“The attacks leave me a bit stunned,” he said in an e-mail message. He said the Volt had been more successful in the marketplace than the early Prius was and that today, unlike in the late 1990s, the government and the auto industry are fully behind electric vehicle programs.
But one possible culprit still stands to gain if the electric car is killed yet again, Mr. Paine suggested.
“Not too hard to guess,” he said. “With Americans paying $250 a month to fill up on gasoline when electricity can do the job in a Volt for $50 a month, why are we being told electric cars are failures? Who could possibly be behind this?”
A reporter on energy and the environment for The New York Times.
Ecomagining the Atomic Airplane
The Atomic Airplane
May 4, 2010
Source: The Discovery Channel
The Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion program researched and developed two main systems of nuclear powered jet engines. The Direct Air Cycle program was the first of these. Developed by General Electric, this facet of the program was based in Evendale, Ohio. The Direct Air Cycle program was popular because it was simple, reliable and suitable and the engines were able to start quickly. It worked by letting compressed air run through the reactor of a conventional jet engine where it could be heated before being exhausted through the turbine. The X-39 engine was produced by this program and it proved to be highly successful with several upgrades made to the system at later stages. The final HTRE-3 would have most likely been used to power the X-6 nuclear propulsion aircraft if the project hadn’t been scrapped.
Discovery Channel - Nuclear Airplane - Part 1 - http://youtu.be/xb7uZQ1_n4w
Discovery Channel - Nuclear Airplane - Part 2 - http://youtu.be/w4MfrvMnnww
Discovery Channel - Nuclear Airplane - Part 3 - http://youtu.be/0TzCPZyAmpQ
Discovery Channel - Nuclear Airplane - Part 4 - http://youtu.be/udLJbSywzBM
Discovery Channel - Nuclear Airplane - Part 5 - http://youtu.be/Dp-0Y8lQ-JQ
Monday March 26, 2012
How to Make Drones Scarier: Make Them Nuclear Powered
By Adam Clark Estes | Mar 22, 2012
Government scientists find it "disappointing" that “current political conditions will not allow use" of a nuclear-powered drone that can fly around the Earth for months. We do not. Why? Because the mere thought of a nuclear reactor flying around the heavens, snapping pictures of villages and possible firing rockets at them is absolutely horrifying, that's why. Set aside the fear of a nuclear reactor crashing in your yard — these would be drones that would not run out of power.
ProPublica's Justin Elliott just posted a set of documents (PDF) from the Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico dated June 2011 that detail the development and testing of said nuke drones. With the help of scientists from Northrop Grumman, the scientists mapped out the feasibility of building such an aircraft, not only from a technical point of view but, apparently, a political one too. The military benefits of such a weapon tool are pretty clear: Building a nuke drone would make it possible “to increase [unmanned aerial vehicle] sortie duration from days to months while increasing available electrical power at least two-fold." That's where the nuclear power comes into play. As Steven Aftergood points out on the FAS Project on Government Secrecy's blog:
The project summary, which refers to "propulsion and power technologies that [go] well beyond existing hydrocarbon technologies," does not actually use the word "nuclear." But with unmistakable references to "safeguards," "decommissioning and disposal," and those unfavorable "political conditions," there is little doubt about the topic under discussion.
There are really two ways of reacting to this news. One, good for the government scientists for deciding not to build a flying, unmanned nuclear power plant. (Bear in mind that we don't actually know if they've continued work on the project since last June.) Two, let's make this a teaching moment. Last December when CIA lost a drone over Iran was a teaching moment, too. Just imagine if it had an American-made nuclear reactor inside of it.
The Supersonic Low Altitude Missile or SLAM (not to be confused with the U.S. Navy's current Standoff Land Attack Missile) was a canceled U.S. Air Force project conceived around 1955. Although it never proceeded beyond the initial design and testing phase before being declared obsolete, it represented several radical innovations in tactical aircraft.
The SLAM was designed to complement the doctrine of mutually assured destruction, and as a possible replacement for or augment to the Strategic Air Command system. In the event of nuclear war it was intended to fly below the cover of enemy radar at supersonic speeds, and deliver thermonuclear warheads to roughly 16 targets.
The primary innovation was the engine of the aircraft, which was developed under the aegis of a separate project code-named Project Pluto, after the Roman god of the underworld. It was a ramjet that used nuclear fission to superheat incoming air instead of chemical fuel. Project Pluto produced two working prototypes of this engine, the Tory-IIA and the Tory-IIC, which were successfully tested in the Nevada desert. Special ceramics had to be developed to meet the stringent weight and tremendous heat tolerances demanded of the SLAM's reactor. These were developed by the Coors Porcelain Company. The reactor itself was designed at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory.
The use of a nuclear engine in the airframe promised to give the missile staggering and unprecedented low-altitude range, estimated to be roughly 113,000 miles (182,000 km) (over four and a half times the equatorial circumference of the earth). The engine also acted as a secondary weapon for the missile: direct neutron radiation from the virtually unshielded reactor would sicken, injure, and/or kill living things beneath the flight path; the stream of fallout left in its wake would poison enemy territory; and its strategically selected crash site would receive intense radioactive contamination. In addition, the sonic waves given off by its passage would damage ground installations.
Another revolutionary aspect of the SLAM was its reliance on automation. It would have the mission of a long-range bomber, but would be completely unmanned: accepting radioed commands up to its failsafe point, whereafter it would rely on a Terrain Contour Matching (TERCOM) radar system to navigate to preprogrammed targets.
Although a prototype of the airframe was never constructed, the SLAM was to be a wingless, fin-guided aircraft. Apart from the ventral ram-air intake it was very much in keeping with traditional missile design. Its estimated airspeed at thirty thousand feet was Mach 4.2.
The SLAM program was scrapped on July 1, 1964. By this time serious questions about its safety had been raised, such as how to test a device that would emit copious amounts of radioactive exhaust from its unshielded reactor core in flight, as well as its efficacy and cost. ICBMs promised swifter delivery to targets, and because of their speed (the Thor traveled at roughly Mach 12) and trajectory were considered virtually unstoppable. The SLAM was also being outpaced by advances in defensive ground radar, which threatened to render its stratagem of low-altitude evasion ineffective.
 Reactor design
The reactor had outer diameter of 57.25 in and length 64.24 in; the dimension of the reactor core was 47.24 in diameter and 50.70 in length. The critical mass of uranium was 59.90 kg, and the reactor's power density averaged at 10 megawatts/cubic foot, with total power of 600 megawatts.
The nuclear fuel elements were made of refractory ceramic based on beryllium oxide, with enriched uranium dioxide as fuel and small amount of zirconium dioxide for structural stability. The fuel elements were hollow hexagonal tubes about 4 in long with 0.3 in distance between the outer parallel planes, with inside diameter of 0.227 in. They were manufactured by high-pressure extruding of the green compact, then sintering almost to its theoretical density. The core consisted of 465000 individual elements stacked to form 27000 airflow channels; the design with small unattached elements reduced problems related with thermal stresses. The elements were designed for average operation temperature of 2330 °F (1277 °C); the autoignition point of the reactor base plates was only 150 °C higher. The neutron flux was calculated to be 9×1017 neutrons/cm2.s in the aft and 7×1014 neutrons/cm2.s in the nose. The gamma radiation level was fairly high due to the lack of shielding; radiation hardening for the guidance electronics had to be designed.
The reactors were successfully tested at Jackass Flats of the Nevada Test Site. The Tory II-A reactor, the scaled-down variant, was tested in mid-1961 and successfully ran for several seconds on May 14, 1961. A full-scale variant, the Tory II-C, was run for nearly five minutes at full power. The latter test, limited by the air storage facility capacity, ran for 292 seconds. The air fed to the reactor was preheated to 943 °F and compressed to 316 psi, to simulate ramjet flight conditions.
- ^ http://www.voughtaircraft.com/heritage/special/html/sslam3.html
 External links
Vought SLAM (Pluto)
Studies of the feasibility of using nuclear power for propulsion officially began in New York City in May 1946 but were moved to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, in September of that year to be at the source of nuclear technology. The NEPA (Nuclear Energy for Propulsion of Aircraft) Project made numerous studies of the direct air cycle in which air is heated by conduction as it passes through a nuclear reactor.
The design of ceramic reactors led to the possibility of a nuclear ramjet with unlimited range. In November of 1955 the U.S. Office of Strategic Development asked the Atomic Energy Commission to determine the feasibility of this concept. By October 1956 the world situation was such that the U.S. Air Force issued a System Requirement (SR #149) for a nuclear-powered winged missile. Further internal Air Force studies and reactor development at General Electric’s Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion Project and later at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory of the University of California indicated overall feasibility of the nuclear reactor.
The Cold War situation at the time dictated the need for a strategic missile with positive deterrence or retaliation capability. Chance Vought also recognized the need and in 1957 formed a study group under Dr. Walt Hesse to do unfunded studies. These and studies at other aircraft companies resulted in the United States Air Force issuing Requests for Proposal which were sent out to the aircraft industry.
In August 1958, Chance Vought Aircraft, North American Aviation, and Convair were selected to conduct funded studies of a low-altitude nuclear-powered strategic missile for a mission no chemical-powered vehicle could perform.
In early 1961 another competition was held among the three aircraft companies for a contract to study and demonstrate the feasibility of the missile airframe and subsystems. This competition was won by Chance Vought Aircraft and a contract was awarded in April 1961, titled “Aerothermo-dynamics for Pluto”. Pluto was the code name of the ceramic reactor development project then being done at Lawrence Radiation Laboratory.
Studies, design and tests of a nuclear- powered strategic missile weapon system were conducted at Chance Vought Aircraft during the period from early 1956 to mid1964. During this period all the technical unknowns were evaluated and shown to be solvable. A conceptual design of a missile was completed and a test nuclear reactor for propulsion was operated at full power.
No airframe had been designed to operate in the environment of Mach 3 at sea level where skin temperatures reach 1,000 Fahrenheit and the sound pressure level is on the order of 162 db. Aerodynamics in this flight regime was little explored. Almost 1600 hours of wind tunnel testing in all the national laboratories resulted in a canard configuration design that could operate in the planned flight profile.
The classical spike inlet was replaced with a scoop-type inlet invented in the program, which gave pitch/yaw performance over a wider range and a pressure recovery of 86% that was much higher than the initial program objective. An extensive materials investigative program resulted in the selection and fabrication of a section of fuselage using Rene 41 stainless steel with a skin thickness of 1/10 to ¼ inch.
This was strength- tested in a furnace to simulate aerodynamic heating. Forward sections of the missile were to be gold plated to dissipate heat by radiation. A 1/3-scale model of the missile nose, inlet and duct was constructed and wind tunnel tested.
A preliminary inboard design of the complete weapon system missile was made to show location of all equipment and hardware, including the hydrogen weapons. A detailed and final design would have been required.
SLAM 1/10 Scale Model
Because the SLAM reactor would operate at high radiation levels without shielding, finding suitable electronics that could operate even for the few hours lifetime required was a daunting task. Careful selection and substitution of insulation materials, potting compounds, and semiconductors in a full complement of missile electronics such as guidance and control, telemetry and instrumentation was made with industry assistance.
The largest radiation effects test ever conducted took place in 1964 in the Air Force’s NARF facility at General Dynamics under SLAM Program sponsorship. It was demonstrated that suitable system electronics were or could be made available for the SLAM mission.
To deliver multiple warheads with precision over long ranges required a dual guidance system. Inertial systems were available but were not capable of surviving in the harsh radiation environment. The impetus of the program resulted in the development of gas dynamic bearings for gyroscopes, and radiation-resistant, or “hardened” components which were evaluated in the Air Force NARF facility. These tests showed that inertial guidance systems could be made which would satisfy the mission requirements if midcourse and terminal corrections could be made. The Vought- funded studies associated with SLAM developed a precise system for such an application.
This system was patented under the name of FINGERPRINT. The name was changed to TERCOM when the rights were assigned to the U.S.A.F. and is still known today by that name when used in the cruise missile. The system employs terrain contour information along the flight path stored in a digital matrix. A matrix of terrain elevations was concluded to be as distinctive as the human fingerprint. Elevations of all land areas of the earth were available from contour maps. Downward- looking radar on the missile then compares the real elevations with the stored data and the missile position is determined and corrections made to direct it toward the target.
Several TERCOM fixes could be made as SLAM proceeded to multiple targets. Extensive flight testing over all types of terrain, with and without snow cover, verified that accurate missile locations could be obtained. All the required hardware was verified in the NARF facility as being suitable for operation in a radiation environment.
The source of energy for SLAM propulsion was to be a nuclear fission reactor operating at a power level of 600 Megawatts. The reactor was not to have radiation shielding for the fission products of neutrons and gamma rays. As a result, the neutron flux was calculated to vary from 9 x 1017 N/CM2 in the aft section to 7 x 1014 N/CM2 in the nose. Gamma ray energy was expected to be 4 x 1011 MEV in the aft section and 1.2 x 108MEV in the electronics compartment.
This required careful selection of materials which could survive not only the high temperatures but also the high radiation levels. The study program investigated all missile subsystems. Some very sensitive ones required a feasible amount of local shielding. The result of the investigations led to the conclusion that missile subsystems were available or could be made available for the SLAM application.
Flight testing of the missile was planned to be conducted over the northwest Pacific ocean with termination in deep ocean waters in the neighborhood where atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons had taken place.
The reactor development work for nuclear propulsion systems was started by the NEPA Project and specific development for nuclear ramjet application at the Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion Department of the General Electric Company. As the ramjet program gained in importance, it was moved to the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory (LRL) of the University of California in January 1957. LRL’s working with Chance Vought for missile propulsion requirements resulted in the following nuclear reactor characteristics for the SLAM weapon system:
Fissionable Core-------------47.24 in.
Core Length------------------50.70 in.
Critical Mass of Uranium--59.90 kg.
Avg. Power Density---------10 MW/cubic foot
Total Power-------------------600 MW
Avg. Element Temperature- 2,330 deg. F
The fuel elements for the test reactors were made of the high-temperature ceramic beryllium oxide (BO). This was mixed with enriched uranium di-oxide (UO2) in a homogeneous mixture with a small amount of zirconium di-oxide (ZrO2) for stabilization. This mixture in a plastic mass was extruded by the Coors Porcelain Company under high pressure and then sintered to near theoretical minimum density.
Each fuel element was a hollow hexagonal tube approximately 4 inches long, 0.3 inches across flats, and had an inside diameter of 0.227 inches. These were stacked end to end to provide the 50.7 inch length of heated air passage. There were 27,000 of these heated airflow channels and 465,000 individual fuel elements. The design with these small unattached pieces was such that the problems of thermal stress in ceramics was minimized.
Two reactor tests were conducted to verify feasibility. Tory II-A was a scaled-down test which was conducted in mid-1961 and operated at design conditions on October 5, 1961. Tory II-C was a full-scale reactor test for a period of 292 seconds which was the limit of the air supply from the storage facility. That facility stored 1.2 million pounds of air which had to be preheated to 943 degrees Fahrenheit and supplied at a pressure of 316 psi to simulate ramjet inlet diffuser conditions. Tests were conducted at Jackass Flats in The Nevada Test Station by Lawrence Radiation Laboratory. These tests demonstrated the feasibility of the nuclear power-plant for the SLAM weapon system.
The centerpiece of the Pluto effort, the Tory reactor was designed to be durable but compact enough to fly.
The 25 miles of oil well casing needed to store air for ramject simulations dominated Pluto's test site at Jackass Flats.
Mounted on a railroad car, Tory-IIC is readied for its highly successful May 1964 test.
Muscle in Mothballs
All the major areas had been investigated by mid-1964 and the feasibility of nuclear flight was firmly established, laying a foundation for proceeding with a detailed design and flight test. But the world was beginning to change with the Cuban missile crisis in the past, the development of long-range ballistic missiles, and the advent of space exploration. The concept of releasing radioactive fission products in the atmosphere in any locale was being rejected as more was learned of the effects of their release.
The program was terminated in July 1964 by the Department of Defense and the State Department as “being too provocative”. It was believed by many that if the U.S. deployed a missile of such awesome power against which there was no known defense, then the Soviets would be compelled to do so. At the end of the project, Chance Vought had 177 engineers and scientists involved in the program full time. It was called “a model technology program” by the Department of Defense. Much of the technology, especially that of the guidance system, TERCOM, is utilized in the cruise missile that is part of today’s arsenal of U.S. weapons.
The Flying Crowbar
The New York Times Energy for Tomorrow Conference to be Held April 11;
Event to Feature Keynote Speaker Daniel Yergin
Leaders from across the energy sector will discuss principal challenges and opportunities in fueling a new global economy
Press Release: The New York Times Company – Mon, Feb 27, 2012 9:00 AM EST
The New York Times will host on April 11, 2012 a conference for leaders in energy to convene for a conversation about the future of energy in the face of new global and economic demands. With many countries holding elections this year, energy is a priority discussion across global economic agendas, and The New York Times Energy for Tomorrow conference will be a place for leaders to talk about the globalization of demand and debate how to finance and secure the world energy supply.
Anchoring the conference will be a keynote address by Daniel Yergin, chairman of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and world-renowned authority on energy issues and policy, international politics and economics. Among his accomplishments, Mr. Yergin is the recipient of the United States Energy Award for lifelong achievements in energy and the promotion of international understanding.
Speakers will include:
- Carol Browner, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress, and former assistant to President Obama and director, White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy;
- Steve Nadel, executive director, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE);
- T. Boone Pickens, founder and chairman, BP Capital Management, and founder of the grassroots campaign the Pickens Plan;
- Phil Radford, executive director, Greenpeace USA.
New York Times moderators will include: Thomas Friedman, foreign affairs columnist; Clifford Krauss, national business correspondent; and Joe Nocera, Op-Ed columnist.
The Times will curate an audience of around 400 leaders in energy in the public and private sectors that will include government officials, energy companies, environmental groups and NGOs, investors and policymakers.
Conference sessions will be global in scope, and the format will be a mix of head-to-head debates, panel discussions, keynote addresses, case studies, single speaker “ignition” presentations and audience brainstorming. The event will also include online polling and surveys, and delegates will participate through their smartphones.
“This conference is a unique opportunity for thought leaders, business leaders and policymakers to come together and discuss shaping a new global economy in the face of staggering energy needs,” said Gerald Marzorati, editor for The New York Times who is responsible for creating The Times’s conferences. “We look forward to hosting some of the world’s most influential voices in the energy sector and participating in important conversations about the future of energy across the globe.”
The New York Times conference, which is in collaboration with Richard Attias and Associates, will take place on Wednesday, April 11, at The TimesCenter. Attendance to the conference will be by invitation only, and more information can be found at www.NYTEnergyforTomorrow.com.
The TimesCenter is located at 242 West 41st St., New York, NY.
Tickets are priced at $1,500.
If you are from an academic institution or NGO, you may be eligible for a reduced fee, and should enter those details in the request for invitation form.
Stephanie Yera, 212-556-1957
stephanie.yera @ nytimes.com
Sponsorship Sales Contacts
Andy Wright, VP Advertising
The New York Times
wrighah @ nytimes.com
Kerrie Gillis, VP Advertising
The New York Times
kerrie @ nytimes.com
Program and Participant Information
speaker @ nytenergyfortomorrow.com
margot.carr @ richardattiasassociates.com
(212) 794-8801 ext 1121
Chairman, IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates
Author, “The Quest”
Daniel Yergin, chairman of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates, is a Pulitzer-Prize winning author and leading authority on energy, international politics and economics and is a recipient of the United States Energy Award for “lifelong achievements in energy and the promotion of international understanding.” His latest book “The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World,” has been hailed as “a fascinating saga” about the “quest for sustainable resources of energy” and “the book you must read to understand the future of our economy and our way of life.”
“The Quest” is the follow-up to Yergin’s previous book, “The Prize: the Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power,” which received the Pulitzer Prize and became a number one New York Times bestseller that has been translated into 17 languages.
Other significant works by Yergin include “Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy”; “Russia 2010”; “Energy Future”; and “Shattered Peace.” Yergin has also written for The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, International Herald Tribune, and many other publications. He is also CNBC’s global energy expert.
Both “The Prize” and “Commanding Heights” were made into award-winning documentaries. The eight-hour miniseries “The Prize” was aired on PBS, BBC and NHK and viewed by 20 million viewers in the United States alone. The 6-hour documentary of “Commanding Heights” that Yergin produced received three Emmy nominations, the CINE Golden Eagle award and the New York Film Festival’s Gold World Medal for best documentary.
Yergin serves on the U.S. Secretary of Energy Advisory Board and chaired the U.S. Department of Energy’s Task Force on Strategic Energy Research and Development. He is a trustee of the Brookings Institution, on the Board of the New America Foundation, and on the advisory boards of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Energy Initiative and the Institute for 21st Century Energy.
Yergin holds a B.A. from Yale University, where he founded The New Journal, and a Ph.D. from Cambridge University, where he was a Marshall Scholar. He has taught at the Harvard Business School and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Lester R. Brown
Founder and President of Earth Policy Institute
Lester R. Brown, described as “one of the world’s most influential thinkers” by the Washington Post, is founder and president of Earth Policy Institute, a nonprofit environmental research organization based in Washington, D.C. During a career that started with tomato farming, Brown has been awarded 25 honorary degrees and has authored or coauthored over 50 books.
One of the world’s most widely published authors, his books have appeared in some 40 languages. His recent book is entitled “World on the Edge.” He is a MacArthur fellow and the recipient of many prizes and awards.
In 1985 the Library of Congress requested his personal papers, noting that his writings and work had “already strongly affected thinking about problems of world population and resources.”
Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress
Carol Browner is a distinguished senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. Ms. Browner also serves as a Senior Counselor of Albright Stonebridge Group and on the Board of the League of Conservation Voters.
Ms. Browner most recently served as assistant to President Obama and director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, where she oversaw the coordination of environmental, energy, climate, transport and related policy across the federal government. During her tenure, the White House secured the largest investment ever in clean energy and established the national car policy that included both new automobile fuel efficiency standards and first-ever greenhouse gas reductions. Previously, Ms. Browner was a founding principal of The Albright Group LLC from 2001 to 2008.
From 1993 through 2001, Ms. Browner served as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. As administrator, she adopted the most stringent air pollution standards in our nation’s history; set for the first time, a fine particle clean air standard; and spearheaded the reauthorization of the Safe Drinking Water Act as well as the Food Quality Protection Act. She was known for working with both environmentalists and industry to set science-based public health protections while providing businesses important flexibilities in how to meet those standards. She worked across the agency to ensure a focus on protecting the most vulnerable, particularly children.
From 1991 through 1993, Ms. Browner served as secretary of environmental regulation in Florida, where she launched the largest ecological restoration project ever attempted in the United States to restore the natural flow of water to the Everglades.
Ms. Browner serves on the Executive Committee of the Center for American Progress and was a founding board member of the organization from 2003-2008.
Ms. Browner earned her B.A. and a law degree from the University of Florida in Gainesville. She has one son and is married to former New York Congressman Tom Downey.
President and Chief Executive Officer, Virent, Inc.
Lee Edwards is the president and chief executive officer of Virent, Incorporated. Virent is in the business of replacing crude oil, creating the chemicals and fuels the world demands from a wide range of naturally occurring, renewable resources. Using patented catalytic chemistry, Virent converts soluble biomass-derived sugars into direct replacement products molecularly identical to those made with petroleum, including gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and chemicals used for plastics and fibers.
In 2011, Virent announced significant chemical and fuels milestones: it will provide plant-based paraxylene to Coca-Cola, enabling a 100% renewable, 100% recyclable PlantBottle®. The company became the first to create gasoline from corn stover and pine harvest waste through the National Advanced Biofuels Consortium, and it has several initiatives underway through the F.A.A. and the D.O.E. to create jet fuel from cellulosic biomass. The development of Virent’s BioForming® technology platform is supported through active investors, including Cargill, Coca-Cola, Honda and Shell, which blends Virent’s biogasoline into fuel used by the Scuderia-Ferrari Formula 1 race team. The company has 120 employees and is based in Madison, Wisconsin. The company has received numerous honors, including the World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer award and the E.P.A.’s Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award.
In 2010, Lee was elected chairman of the Advanced Biofuel Association based in Washington, D.C., representing 32 member companies engaged in providing alternative transportation fuel technologies to market.
Lee has 25 years of global energy leadership and petroleum industry experience. He was president and C.E.O. of BP Solar, part of BP’s alternative energy portfolio with $1 billion in sales. Lee also served as a director for Tata BP Solar, a joint venture in Bangalore, India, with Tata Power. Mr. Edwards held a range of executive positions including C.I.O. for BP’s downstream business, president for BP Pipelines North America, and vice president of BP’s global brand where he led the strategy, design and launch of the current BP Helios brand.
Pulitzer Prize-winning Op-Ed columnist, The New York Times
Thomas L. Friedman won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, his third Pulitzer for The New York Times. He became the paper’s foreign-affairs columnist in 1995. Previously, he served as chief economic correspondent in the Washington bureau and before that he was the chief White House correspondent. In 2005, Mr. Friedman was elected as a member of the Pulitzer Prize Board.
Mr. Friedman joined The Times in 1981 and was appointed Beirut bureau chief in 1982. In 1984, Mr. Friedman was transferred from Beirut to Jerusalem, where he served as Israel bureau chief until 1988. Mr. Friedman was awarded the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting (from Lebanon) and the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting (from Israel).
Mr. Friedman’s latest book, “That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back,” co-written with Michael Mandelbaum, was released in September 2011.
Mr. Friedman’s book, “The World is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century,” was released in April 2005 and won the inaugural Goldman Sachs/Financial Times Business Book of the Year award. In 2004, he was awarded the Overseas Press Club Award for lifetime achievement and the honorary title, Order of the British Empire (OBE), by Queen Elizabeth II.
His book, “From Beirut to Jerusalem” (1989), won the National Book Award for nonfiction in 1989 and “The Lexus and the Olive Tree” (2000) won the 2000 Overseas Press Club award for best nonfiction book on foreign policy and has been published in 27 languages. Mr. Friedman also wrote “Longitudes and Attitudes: The World in the Age of Terrorism” (2002) and the text accompanying Micha Bar-Am’s book, “Israel: A Photobiography.”
Born in Minneapolis on July 20, 1953, Mr. Friedman received a B.A. degree in Mediterranean studies from Brandeis University in 1975. In 1978, he received a Master of Philosophy degree in Modern Middle East studies from Oxford. Mr. Friedman is married and has two daughters.
Robert A. Hefner III
Founder and owner, The GHK Company
Mr. Hefner is founder and owner of GHK Exploration, a private natural gas company headquartered in Oklahoma City. He pioneered ultradeep natural gas exploration and production that led to the development of technology needed to produce many of the world’s “deepest and highest pressure natural gas wells.” In the 1970s, Hefner was a leader in the industry’s successful efforts to deregulate natural gas prices. These technological and political accomplishments led to the development of vast new domestic natural gas resources.
Hefner’s recent book, “The Grand Energy Transition (GET),” forecasts the continuing decline of coal and oil and an energy future called The Age of Energy Gases, with America’s abundant natural gas as the bridge, along with wind, solar and hydrogen (www.The-GET.com ).
For over two decades, Hefner has actively pursued his interest in China in the areas of energy and foreign affairs, while he is an advisory director of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) and established the Hefner Initiative on Energy and National Security there.
Amy Myers Jaffe
Director of the Energy Forum at the Baker Institute
Amy Myers Jaffe is the Wallace S. Wilson Fellow in Energy Studies and director of the Energy Forum at the Baker Institute, as well as associate director of the Rice Energy Program. Jaffe’s research focuses on oil geopolitics, strategic energy policy including energy science policy and energy economics. Jaffe was formerly senior editor and Middle East analyst for Petroleum Intelligence Weekly. She is widely published and served as co-editor of “Energy in the Caspian Region: Present and Future” (Palgrave, 2002) and “Natural Gas and Geopolitics: From 1970 to 2040” (Cambridge University Press, 2006), and as co-author of “Oil, Dollars, Debt and Crises: The Global Curse of Black Gold” with Mahmoud A. El-Gamal (Cambridge University Press, 2010). Jaffe also contributed to Foreign Policy’s “21 Solutions to Save the World” (May/June 2007).
She served as a member of the reconstruction and economy working group of the Baker/Hamilton Iraq Study Group, as project director for the Baker Institute/Council on Foreign Relations Task Force on Strategic Energy Policy, and as a principal adviser to USAID’s project on “Options for Developing a Long Term Sustainable Iraqi Oil Industry.”
She currently serves as a strategic adviser to the American Automobile Association (AAA) of the United States and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Jaffe was among the Key Women in Energy-Americas honorees in the Pathfinders/Trailblazers category (2004), the honoree for Esquire’s annual 100 Best and Brightest in the contribution to society category (2005), Elle magazine’s Women for the Environment (2006), and was named to Who’s Who in America (2008).
Jaffe is a Princeton University graduate with a degree in Arabic studies.
Energy correspondent, Business Day, The New York Times
Clifford Krauss is a Houston correspondent for The New York Times’s Business section, a position he has held since July 2006. Mr. Krauss covers the energy sector, with a specific focus on natural gas, and the oil and coal industries.
Previously, Mr. Krauss had served as chief of The New York Times’s Toronto bureau since 2002 and Buenos Aires bureau chief from April 1998. Before that he was the police department bureau chief for the metropolitan desk, a position he held since January 1994. From 1992 until 1993, he covered Congress in The Times’s Washington bureau, and from 1990 until 1991, he covered the State Department in Washington and before that, he was the bureau’s night editor.
Before joining The Times, Mr. Krauss was a freelance author, writing “Inside Central America,” (Summit Books, 1991).
Mr. Krauss was an Edward R. Murrow Press Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations from 1987 to 1988; a Central America correspondent at The Wall Street Journal’s Miami bureau from 1984 to 1987; a Mexico, Central America and Caribbean correspondent at the Cox Newspapers’ Mexico City bureau from 1981 to 1984; a freelance Central America correspondent, based in Guatemala City, for: The Atlanta Constitution, The Christian Science Monitor and Field News Service from 1980 to 1981; a metro reporter at United Press International, New York City bureau, from 1979 to 1980; and night editor at United Press International, Mexico City bureau from 1977 to 1979.
Mr. Krauss’s freelance articles have appeared in Foreign Affairs, Gentleman’s Quarterly, The Nation, The Wilson Quarterly, The Gannett Center Journal and GEO magazine.
Born in New York City on July 30, 1953, Mr. Krauss received a B.A. degree in history from Vassar College in 1975. He went on to earn an M.A. degree in history from the University of Chicago in 1976 and an M.S. degree in journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 1977.
Mr. Krauss, who has worked and traveled throughout Central America, is fluent in Spanish.
John Krenicki Jr.
Vice Chairman, GE and President & CEO, GE Energy
John Krenicki is a vice chairman of GE and the president and chief executive officer of GE Energy. The businesses that comprise
GE Energy include Power & Water, Oil & Gas and Energy Management. Mr. Krenicki’s GE career began in the Technical Marketing Program, after which he held a number of leadership roles with GE Plastics andother materials businesses. He later served as vice president of Lighting-Americas, Superabrasives and president and C.E.O. of TransportationSystems.
In 2003, he was named a senior vice president of GE and the president and C.E.O. of GE Plastics.
In 2005, Mr. Krenicki assumed his current role as the president and C.E.O. of GE Energy, and in 2007 was appointed as a GE vice chairman. He is a member of GE’s corporate executive council and the GE Capital board of directors.Mr. Krenicki earned a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Connecticut and an M.S. degree in management from Purdue University.
Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Program on Energy Security and Climate Change, Council of Foreign Relations
Michael Levi is the David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for energy and the environment at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and director of the CFR program on energy security and climate change. An expert on climate change, energy security, arms control and nuclear terrorism, Michael is currently at work on two books. The first tells the story of the recent boom in American energy, evaluating its consequences and explaining how the United States should take advantage of it; the second, with Elizabeth Economy, explores the causes and consequences of China's quest for natural resources. His previous book, “On Nuclear Terrorism” (Harvard University Press), was published in 2007.
Michael is a member of the Advisory Board to Princeton University's Carbon Mitigation Initiative and the Strategic Advisory Board for NewWorld Capital LLC. Previously a fellow at the Brookings Institution, he holds a Bachelors of Science in mathematical physics from Queen’s University, an M.A. in physics from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in war studies from the University of London.
Executive Director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE)
Steven Nadel is the executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a nonprofit research organization that works on programs and policies to advance energy-efficient technologies and services. Steve has been at ACEEE for 23 years serving as deputy director of the organization and director of ACEEE’s Utilities and Buildings programs prior to his promotion to executive director in 2001. Prior to ACEEE he planned and evaluated energy efficiency programs for New England Electric, a major electric utility; directed energy programs for the Massachusetts Audubon Society, Massachusetts’ largest environmental organization; and ran energy programs for a community organization working on housing rehabilitation in the poorest neighborhoods of New Haven, Conn.
Steve has worked in the energy efficiency field for 30 years and has over 100 publications on energy-efficiency subjects. He has testified many times before Congress on energy efficiency subjects and also testified before multiple state legislatures. He was a major contributor to national energy legislation passed by Congress in 1987, 1992, 2005, 2007, and to energy legislation now pending before Congress. His current research interests include utility-sector energy efficiency programs and policies, state and federal energy and climate change policy, and appliance and equipment efficiency standards.
He has an M.S. in Energy Management from the New York Institute of Technology, and an M.A. in Environmental Studies and a B.A. in Government from Wesleyan University in Connecticut.
Op-Ed columnist, The New York Times
Joe Nocera became an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times in April 2011. Prior to his role change he wrote the Talking Business column and also contributed to The New York Times Magazine as a business writer. In addition to his work at The Times, he serves as a regular business commentator for NPR’s “Weekend Edition Saturday” with Scott Simon.
Before joining The Times in 2005, Mr. Nocera spent 10 years at Fortune magazine, where he held a variety of positions, including contributing writer, editor-at-large and executive editor. His last position at Fortune was editorial director. Previously, he was the Profit Motive columnist at GQ until May 1995, and he wrote the same column for Esquire from 1988 to 1990. In the 1980s he served as a contributing editor at Newsweek, executive editor of New England Monthly and senior editor at Texas Monthly. From 1978 to 1980, he was an editor at The Washington Monthly.
Mr. Nocera has won three Gerald Loeb awards and three John Hancock awards for excellence in business journalism. His book, “A Piece of the Action: How the Middle Class Joined the Money Class,” (Touchstone, 1995) won the New York Public Library’s Helen B. Bernstein Award for Excellence in Journalism. He anchored the 1997 Frontline documentary “Betting on the Market,” which aired on PBS, and in 2003 edited “The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron” (Portfolio, 2003), a best-selling book by two Fortune senior writers. In 2007, Mr. Nocera was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for commentary. He was a winner in The Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW) 2007 Best in Business Journalism Contest for his column in The New York Times.
Born in Providence, R.I., on May 6, 1952, Mr. Nocera earned a B.S. in journalism from Boston University in 1974. He has three children and lives in New York.
T. Boone Pickens
Chairman, BP Capital Management
T. Boone Pickens is one of the nation’s most successful businessmen, first building one of the nation’s largest independent oil companies, Mesa Petroleum, and later reinventing himself in his 70s as one of the most successful investment fund operators with BP Capital. In July 2008, Boone launched the Pickens Plan (www.PickensPlan.com), a grassroots campaign aimed at reducing this country’s crippling addiction to imported oil.
Boone’s 2008 book, “The First Billion is the Hardest,” also details what this country must do to win back its energy independence. He is also aggressively pursuing a wide range of other business interests, from alternative energy options to Clean Energy, a clean transportation fuels company he founded and took public in May 2008 (the eighth entity he has helped go public in his career).
CNBC has dubbed him “Oracle of Oil” for his uncanny knack of predicting oil price movements. His many professional honors include membership in the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, the Texas Business Hall of Fame, and the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. In 1998, the “Oil & Gas Investor” listed him as one of the “100 Most Influential People of the Petroleum Century.” During the span of his career, Pickens has given away $1 billion to philanthropic causes.
Executive Director, IEEE
Jim Prendergast is responsible for furthering IEEE’s role in fostering innovation and technological excellence. Prior to joining IEEE, Dr. Prendergast was corporate vice president and chief technology officer for DuPont Electronic & Communication Technologies, where he accelerated growth in the electronics and communications high tech markets. In 2003 he joined the DuPont Photomasks Board of Directors and remained throughout the successful acquisition of DPMI by Toppan in April 2005.
Previously, Dr. Prendergast was vice president and director of Motorola’s Physical Sciences Research Laboratories where he directed long-range research in future integrated systems, energy, lab-on-a-chip and speculative ‘reach-out’ initiatives. He also directed the Wireless Research & Development Laboratory at Motorola and served as chief technologist and director of strategy within Motorola’s Semiconductor Products Sector.
Dr. Prendergast received a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Cambridge University.
Executive Director of Greenpeace
As the executive director of Greenpeace, Phil Radford is at the helm of one of the largest and most influential environmental groups in the country. Radford leads a national team of 500 highly-skilled environmental leaders working on both global and national campaigns to protect our planet’s oceans, forests and climate.
Radford began his environmental career organizing to shut down incinerators near his family home in Oak Park, Illinois, just outside of Chicago. Soon after, he found himself fundraising locally for environmental issues. With his roots in local organizing and fundraising, Radford has always specialized in mobilizing people to raise their voices for the planet.
Prior to taking on his current role, Radford worked as Greenpeace’s grassroots director for six years. As director, he built what has now become a thriving and strategic grassroots program, including online and on-the-ground organizing, student organizing and training, and a 15-city national street fundraising program.
Before joining Greenpeace, Radford founded Power Shift, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating clean energy market breakthroughs. As executive director, he worked with the cities of San Diego, Chula Vista, Berkeley and others to secure solar energy efficiency investments for municipal buildings. He also won a commitment from Citigroup to offer and market energy-efficient mortgages to make solar and wind power affordable for American homeowners.
Phil has a degree from Washington University in St. Louis, and a certificate in nonprofit management from Georgetown University.
Chairman, President and C.E.O. of Duke Energy
Jim Rogers has served as chairman, president and C.E.O. of Duke Energy since 2007. He has 23 years of experience as a C.E.O. in the electric utility industry. Over that period, he has delivered an average total shareholder return of more than 12 percent per year by focusing on stakeholders and finding business solutions to environmental challenges.
Rogers has served more than 50 cumulative years on the boards of directors of eight Fortune 500 companies, and has served on numerous nonprofit boards, including current participation on the boards of the Asia Society and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.
In 2012, he will assume the chairmanship of the Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership, the nonprofit organization of the world’s largest electricity utilities. He earned his bachelor’s degree and his law degree from the University of Kentucky, and lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Manuel Camacho Solis
Mexico's former Secretary of Urban Development and the Environment, and former Mayor of Mexico City
Manuel Camacho Solis has been Mexico’s secretary of foreign affairs, mayor of Mexico City, secretary of urban development and the environment, undersecretary of regional development and a member of Congress. Recently, he was coordinator in the grassroot movement of the center left and is a leader in the Frente Amplio Progresista.
He has been a reformer and an effective negotiator in extremely difficult conflicts. He negotiated the truce with the Zapatistas, which ended the war in the state of Chiapas. In the social turmoil that followed the earthquakes in Mexico City, he coordinated the reconstruction and promoted the policies that controlled the environmental crisis of Mexico City. He has defended an ethical imperative for solving difficult social problems without resorting to the use of force.
Blowing away Nuclear Power
BY CHRISTIAN KJAER, Business World Online, March 21 2012
BRUSSELS -- It has been evident for years that Europe needs an
energy system that can cut dependence on fossil fuels, bring down
future energy costs, and fight climate change. But the Fukushima
accident in Japan one year ago underscored the need for an
energy source that will fill the gap left by declining nuclear power.
Many ask: is renewable energy up to the task?
In the aftermath of the Fukushima meltdown, European Commission
President José Manuel Barroso said that now is the time for the
renewables sector to "prove itself as a scalable, affordable, and
secure energy source… I believe that is going to happen."
Germany plans to abandon nuclear power by 2022, and Switzerland
by 2034. Italy has voted against restarting its nuclear program,
which was halted after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, while Belgium
has resolved to decommission the country’s two nuclear plants.
And, in France, nuclear power is becoming an election issue, with
the opposition proposing to reduce its share of electricity production
from 74% today to 50% by 2025.
But the decline of nuclear power is nothing new: between 2004 and
2011, more nuclear-power capacity was decommissioned worldwide
than was installed. Last year alone, the world installed 50% more
new wind-power capacity (41.2 gigawatts) than all new nuclear
capacity installed from 2002 to 2011 (27.3 GW). In terms of
electricity production, the wind-power industry has installed the
equivalent of 1.3 nuclear reactors per month over the past three
In Germany, where nuclear power accounts for 22% of electricity
production, replacing reactors with renewables is already viewed
as a realistic alternative. Indeed, according to a report by the
German government’s Ethics Commission, Germany should be
able to replace nuclear power with renewables in a decade. The
German government estimates that domestic electricity prices
would rise by just 0.01 euro/kWh, equivalent to 3 euros ($3.90)
per month for an average German household, if it phased out its
nuclear fleet. If Germany can do it, so can the United Kingdom
(where nuclear power accounts for 16% of electricity supply) and
Spain (where the share is 20%).
The European Commission, too, envisages a significantly higher
share for renewables in Europe’s energy mix. According to its
estimates, 3% of all new power capacity installed from 2011 to
2020 will be nuclear, compared to a 71% share for renewables.
Opponents argue that renewables are expensive and dependent
on subsidies. But a report last year by the UK government’s
Committee on Climate Change noted that the cost of onshore
wind power was cheaper than new nuclear power in 2011, and
predicted that it will remain lower in 2020, 2030, and 2040.
Likewise, France’s Court of Auditors has said that the cost of
electricity from new nuclear capacity could jump to 70-90
euros/MWh in 2020 -- a level with which onshore wind power
could easily compete in most parts of Europe.
Private investors concur with such assessments. Uncertainty
in the UK over nuclear planning, construction costs, electricity
prices, operating costs, waste, and decommissioning creates
risks that are "way too high to give you an electricity price which
is affordable," according to Citigroup. Investors will steer clear
"unless the UK government is willing to fully underpin
construction, power price, and operational/safety risk."
In October 2011, former UK Energy secretary Chris Huhne
said that two-thirds of the budget for the government’s
Department of Energy and Climate Change, or 2.4 billion
euros a year, is spent on nuclear power. But that is a drop in
the ocean compared to decommissioning costs. According to
Huhne, "the provisions for nuclear decommissioning costs in
total were £2 million in 1970, £472 million in 1980, £9.5 billion
in 1990, £22.5 billion in 2000, and now, £53.7 billion. When
nuclear power was held up to the cold, hard light of the
market, it proved to be uneconomic."
Wind power has received a fraction of the financial support
that nuclear energy has received -- and yet wind can provide
electricity at less than half the cost of new nuclear-power
plants. According to the European Environment Agency,
80% of the total energy subsidies in the European Union is
paid to fossil fuels and nuclear energy, while 19% goes to
renewables. Moreover, wind energy has zero fuel costs,
minimal waste-disposal and decommissioning costs, and
a tiny fraction of nuclear power’s risk to human health or
Already, EU governments plan to meet 14% of the Union’s
electricity demand with wind power by 2020. The industry
believes that it can meet 50% of demand by 2050. With high
oil prices, a higher EU carbon price from 2013, and the high
cost of nuclear energy, onshore wind power is the most
economically viable carbon-free power option.
Meanwhile, offshore wind is already competitive with new
nuclear energy, and there are at least ten other renewable
energy technologies that are smarter, cleaner, and less
risky than nuclear power. Indeed, it is nuclear power, not
renewables, whose future in Europe presupposes
continued massive government subsidies.
In short, the answer to whether renewable energy can fill
the gap left by declining nuclear power is yes. Europe does
not need nuclear power to meet its future energy needs.
Christian Kjaer is CEO of the
European Wind Energy Association.
ANSI to Host Exploratory Meeting for Energy Efficiency Standards Panel to
Support Clean Energy Economy
All Stakeholders Invited to Participate in April 25 Meeting in Washington, DC,
New York, NY, March 26, 2012: On April 25, the American National Standards
Institute (ANSI), coordinator of the private-sector-led U.S. voluntary
standardization system, will host an exploratory meeting to examine the need for
an Energy Efficiency Standards Panel (EESP) to develop a standardization roadmap
for energy efficiency initiatives in the United States.
Energy efficiency forms a core component of the nation's sustainable energy
policy to promote energy security, a cleaner environment, and spur job creation
and innovation. Consumers, the government, and industry alike are sounding the
call for energy efficient technologies and programs to support America's clean
energy future – an economic and social imperative for the nation.
Over the next ten years, energy efficiency efforts are expected to grow
dramatically, with a significant number of diverse initiatives already underway
in the public and private sectors. The April 25 meeting will help define the
scope and areas of focus for a potential standards panel in this area vis-à-vis
the standards, codes, and conformance programs needed to advance the nation's
energy efficiency agenda. If formed, the goal of the ANSI Energy Efficiency
Standards Panel would be to develop a standardization roadmap that would define
a coordinated U.S. approach to energy efficiency standardization activities and
help foster innovation and advance the market for energy efficiency
ANSI standards panels have successfully championed standards-based solutions for
key issues and technology areas, from electric vehicles and homeland security to
healthcare information technology, nanotechnology, and identity theft
"Energy efficiency is a cross-cutting issue that applies to all industry
sectors, and I encourage all stakeholders to participate in the April 25
exploratory meeting," said S. Joe Bhatia, ANSI president and CEO. "The Institute
has a long and successful track record in bringing diverse stakeholders together
in a neutral forum to develop consensus-based solutions for national and global
priorities. ANSI stands ready to provide standards coordination in this critical
area as well."
To be held in the Washington, DC, metro area, registration is free and is open
to all interested stakeholders, including industry, government, academia,
professional societies, trade associations, standards developing organizations,
and consumer representatives. Additional event details and a draft agenda are
forthcoming. Questions about this activity can be directed to Fran Schrotter,
ANSI senior vice president and COO (fschrott@...; 212.642.4934). Register
now for the April 25 meeting.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is a private non-profit
organization whose mission is to enhance U.S. global competitiveness and the
American quality of life by promoting, facilitating, and safeguarding the
integrity of the voluntary standardization and conformity assessment system. Its
membership is comprised of businesses, professional societies and trade
associations, standards developers, government agencies, and consumer and labor
organizations. The Institute represents the diverse interests of more than
125,000 companies and organizations and 3.5 million professionals worldwide.
The Institute is the official U.S. representative to the International
Organization for Standardization (ISO) and, via the U.S. National Committee, the
International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), and is a U.S. representative to
the International Accreditation Forum (IAF).
From Chapter 4:
THE NUCLEAR-MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL RISK COMPLEX
“These facilities require immense staffs to monitor sensing and tracking information on nuclear waste pools, perform regular analysis and research on unstable and evolving chemical waste slurries, maintain and repair vessels, and countless other tasks. The parking lot of these facilities are full. It they weren’t, we’d all be in a lot of trouble, quickly. If those people don’t show up for work some day, perhaps due to a disease pandemic, economic depression, political turmoil, or a natural disaster, the infrastructures established to maintain fissile material in a stable state could deteriorate or even tumble into chaos. With nuclear energy, we risk not only our well-being but also the contamination of many, if not all humans, who occupy this planet after us.”
Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism (Our Sustainable Future)
Paperback: 464 pages
We don’t have an energy crisis. We have a consumption crisis. And this book, which takes aim at cherished assumptions regarding energy, offers refreshingly straight talk about what’s wrong with the way we think and talk about the problem. Though we generally believe we can solve environmental problems with more energy—more solar cells, wind turbines, and biofuels—alternative technologies come with their own side effects and limitations. How, for instance, do solar cells cause harm? Why can’t engineers solve wind power’s biggest obstacle? Why won’t contraception solve the problem of overpopulation lying at the heart of our concerns about energy, and what will?
This practical, environmentally informed, and lucid book persuasively argues for a change of perspective. If consumption is the problem, as Ozzie Zehner suggests, then we need to shift our focus from suspect alternative energies to improving social and political fundamentals: walkable communities, improved consumption, enlightened governance, and, most notably, women’s rights. The dozens of first steps he offers are surprisingly straightforward. For instance, he introduces a simple sticker that promises a greater impact than all of the nation’s solar cells. He uncovers why carbon taxes won’t solve our energy challenges (and presents two taxes that could). Finally, he explores how future environmentalists will focus on similarly fresh alternatives that are affordable, clean, and can actually improve our well-being.
University of Nebraska Press (June 1, 2012)
Cara Pesek, Publicity Manager
Ozzie on Twitter: @OzzieZehner
Ozzie Zehner is a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley.
He researches the social, cultural, political and economic conditions influencing energy policy priorities and project outcomes. His work also incorporates symbolic roles that energy technologies play within political and environmental movements. His other research interests include consumerism, urban policy, environmental governance, international human rights, and forgeries.
Ozzie Zehner’s recent publications include two public science books (Green Illusions, 2012; and The Little Book about Big Oil, 2013), educational resources (in Green Technology, Sage, 2011; and Green Culture, Sage, 2011), as well as academic and mainstream articles. His research, writings, and projects over the previous two decades have been covered by CNN, The Washington Post, MSNBC, Science News Radio, The Economist, Business Week, The Humanist, Form Magazine, and numerous other publications. He also serves on the editorial board of Critical Environmentalism.
Ozzie Zehner attended Kettering University (BS -Engineering) and The University of Amsterdam (MS/Drs – Science and Technology Studies). His research was awarded with honors at both institutions. He lives in Washington, DC and San Francisco.
SOLAR CELLS AND OTHER FAIRY TALES | Discover the 5 unseen harms of solar cells and witness a simple sticker that could produce a greater energy impact than all of the nation’s photovoltaics combined.
WIND POWER’S FLURRY OF LIMITATIONS | See why engineers can’t solve wind power’s biggest obstacle and what they’ll really need.
BIOFUELS AND THE POLITICS OF BIG CORN | Learn why corporations turned food into fuel and how they’ll try again.
THE NUCLEAR-MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL RISK COMPLEX | Get a rare glimpse inside tank SY-101 and learn why nuclear power may not close a single coal-fired power plant in the U.S.
THE HYDROGEN ZOMBIE | Read this behind-the-scenes exposé on the life, death and afterlife of the hydrogen dream.
CONJURING CLEAN COAL | The most intriguing question isn’t about whether or not clean coal exists. Rather, why do so many Americans even believe clean coal could exist?
HYDROPOWER, HYBRIDS, AND OTHER HYDRAS | Discover why future environmentalists will resist electric cars and hybrids as well as a host of other technologies.
THE ALTERNATIVE-ENERGY FETISH | Witness what clean energy and pornography have in common.
THE FIRST STEP | Catch a glimpse of a hidden “boomerang effect” that is undermining green energy investments.
WOMEN’S RIGHTS | Find out why contraception won’t solve concerns about overpopulation (and what actually could).
IMPROVING CONSUMPTION | Examine the problems with thinking of consumption in terms of “Sustainable,” “Green,” or “Organic” (and uncover secret paths forward).
THE ARCHITECTURE OF COMMUNITY | See why future environmentalists will reject LEED buildings and straw-bale homes in favor of more durable options.
EFFICIENCY CULTURE | Discover why carbon taxes won’t solve our energy challenges (and learn about one tax that could).
ASKING QUESTIONS | Learn what environmentalists of the future are studying in college today.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OLEV™ (On Line Electric Vehicle) Technology Offers Zero Emissions Performance
with Smaller Batteries and Dramatically Reduced Energy Costs for Bus and Truck
Catherine Madden of OLEV Technologies will present an analysis of the benefits
of OLEV Technology at the Electric Vehicles Land, Sea & Air USA 2012 Conference,
to be held Mar. 27-28 in San Jose, CA.
Boston, MA, March 26, 2012 –– "On-line Electric Vehicle Technology, or OLEV, as
we call it, offers fleet operators continuous operation, reduced energy
consumption and costs, along with the added benefit of zero emissions, and
eliminates plug-in charging infrastructure." says Catherine Madden, Senior
Product Manager for Boston-based OLEV Technologies. "We think it's the best
solution for medium- to-heavy duty bus and truck fleets running on defined
routes" she says.
Madden will present an analysis of the benefits of OLEV Technology at this
week's Electric Vehicles Land, Sea & Air USA 2012 Conference, to be held Mar.
27-28 in San Jose, CA. In her presentation, she will discuss OLEV technology's
advantages and analyze the economic and performance variables surrounding
several electric power alternatives for trucks and buses.
"If we're going to solve the challenges around adopting clean transportation
strategies with electric power," says Madden, "we as a nation need to focus on
the type of solutions where electric service is integrated and the performance
expectations of the electric vehicle remain unchanged when compared to today's
technologies. That means vehicles should operate continuously, without
compromising schedules for the sake of charging, and for buses, where users
don't notice any real difference from what they're already used to. OLEV
Technology delivers on that, except electric buses are very quiet," she said.
OLEV Technologies previously announced that its On-line Electric Vehicle Bus
Project for the City of McAllen, Texas has been selected for funding through the
Federal Transportation Administration TIGGER (Transit Investment in Greenhouse
Gas and Energy Reduction) grant program. The objective of the project is to run
electric buses utilizing OLEV's proprietary technology, which delivers electric
power wirelessly from the roadbed, allowing the buses to charge wirelessly both
during operation and while they pause to load and unload passengers. Three
diesel buses from the McAllen City Bus fleet will be retrofitted to run on
To receive a copy of Ms. Madden's presentation, along with a white paper
explaining the benefits of OLEV technology in greater detail, please visit
More About OLEV Technology
OLEV™ (On Line Electric Vehicle) Technology delivers a safe, efficient electric
vehicle with in-motion charging capability via wireless power transfer. The
OLEV™ (On Line Electric Vehicle) system delivers an environmentally sustainable
solution with vastly lower energy consumption with benefits that include
stationary and in-motion wireless charging, which eliminates downtime for
recharging; zero tailpipe emissions; continuous operation with unlimited driving
range; and highly flexible routes that can be designed to any configuration. The
OLEV technology solution is targeted to dedicated and semi-fixed route transit
systems, including airport, campus and national park bus fleets, urban rapid
transit systems and catenary-free electric trolleys and trams, as well as
commercial fleets. OLEV™ technology can be retrofitted to existing fleets or
deployed in all new fleets.
About OLEV Technologies, Inc.
Founded in 2011, OLEV Technologies is a Massachusetts based start-up with a
vision to become a leading provider of OLEV™ (On Line Electric Vehicle)
Technology, a zero emission, clean transportation solution, based on wireless
electric power transfer technology, and targeted at the electric vehicle
industry. OLEV Technologies serves as the exclusive North American and South
American licensee responsible for commercializing the OLEV™ (On Line Electric
Vehicle) technology invented at the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and
Technology (KAIST). KAIST began the development of OLEV in May 2009, and since
then, various prototype vehicles including bus, sedan, SUV, and trolley have
been invented. Upon successful completion of field tests, three on-line electric
trams are currently operating at a theme park in Seoul, South Korea, since July
2011. The tram, consisting of three carts, can carry up to 100 passengers per
OLEV™ technology was recognized as one of The 50 Best Inventions of 2010 by TIME
The company's headquarters is located at 27 Drydock Avenue, Boston, MA, 02210.
Visit OLEV Technologies online at www.olevtech.com.
The City of McAllen will implement OLEV's electric bus technology on one of its
central city bus routes to reduce energy consumption and deliver zero emissions
without compromising service level or performance.
Electric Cars? No. Bicycles? Yes.
I was recently quoted by both USA Today and FOX News regarding my take on priority parking for electric vehicles. I argued that American taxpayers give electric car owners tax breaks and credits to buy their vehicles as well as priority parking and special freeway lanes even though there’s no evidence they’ve done anything positive for the environment in return. In fact, the mining, heavy metals, and other side effects of electric car production and operation are likely worse for the environment when compared to traditional gasoline-powered vehicles, and will be for some time according to a National Academies report.
If stores and organizations wish to minimize their environmental footprint, then they can give priority access to bicyclers and pedestrians. Congress can do the same.
Bicycling is booming across the country right now but Congress has taken no notice of the trend. Congress is actually moving to lower bicycle and pedestrian transportation funding, which already represents less than 2% of the total transportation budget. (See the just released Alliance for Biking and Walking’s 2012 Benchmarking Report)
Senate bill 1813 has left committee and will be up for a vote soon. In its current form, it will shrink bicycle and pedestrian support by eliminating dedicated funding for programs such as the broadly successful Safe Routes to School (SRTS) initiative. It will lump other types of pedestrian and bicycle funding into a discretionary budget to be apportioned by state governments. States would be free to divert bicycle and pedestrian funding within their borders to automotive projects.
Congress is framing all of these cuts as a way to save money. But if Congress is serious about stabilizing the nation’s balance sheets, they’ll stand up to thirsty car-culture lobbies and back low-cost bicycle and pedestrian improvements that pay durable dividends.
– Ozzie Zehner is the author of Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism
Published: January 24, 2012
The Shell Eco-marathon challenges high school and college student teams from around the world to design, build and test energy efficient vehicles. With annual events in the Americas, Europe and Asia, the winners are the teams that go the farthest distance using the least amount of energy.
Shell Eco-marathon Americas 2012 will take place in Houston, Texas, home to Shell U.S. Headquarters. The dates are March 29-April 1, 2012. The track will be on city streets of downtown and the paddock and camping areas will be located inside the George R. Brown Convention Center.
Ask a question
We're here to help. If you have any questions or need more information, please let us know. If you are a participant or are interested in participating, have a technical question, comment or question about our website, please send an email to us at ecomarathonamericas @ shell.com.
If you are a member of the media and would like more information about Shell Eco-marathon Americas event or wish to schedule an interview with one of the participating teams, please call our media line at 713-241-4544.
Join our social network communities
Students Target Miles Per Gallon Record
Challenging the 2,564 Mpg Record, High School, University Squads Race To Finish Their Super-Mileage Vehicles
University of Missouri students are racing to finish their futuristic “TigerGen III” hydrogen-powered vehicle. And, at Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey, five senior engineering students are readying their lightweight, plug-in electric car with its carbon fiber shell. Their big concern? Making sure a driver can fit inside it.
In California, students at Monrovia High School are confident that their three-wheeled, computer-controlled vehicle will be a winner this year. And, at Mater Dei High School in Indiana, students are putting the finishing touches on four vehicles and hoping one will prove to be the most fuel-efficient.
More than 1,000 innovative high school and university students across the Americas are fast approaching the sixth annual Shell Eco-marathon Americas in Houston.
The event challenges students to build, design and compete with their high-mileage vehicles in competitions held annually in Europe, the Americas and Asia. Shell Eco-marathon brings together future leaders in science and engineering who are passionate about finding solutions to global energy challenges.
From March 29 through April 1, students and their fuel-efficient vehicles will navigate the streets of downtown Houston, amid the skyscrapers, and strive to break the astounding 2,564.8 miles per (one) gallon achieved in 2011 by Quebec’s Université Laval team, which will compete again this year.
That far outperformed the 50 miles per gallon attained by a Shell scientist in 1939 in a challenge that has evolved into today’s Shell Eco-marathon. Since then, the event has brought together thousands of students from more than 30 countries to put their futuristic vehicles to the test.
“Shell Eco-marathon is an important part of the energy challenge facing our planet,” says Mark Singer, Global Project Manager. “The future will require a mosaic of energy solutions, and we believe we’re contributing to a smarter energy future with more responsible options for our customers and credible advice for our markets and policymakers. Shell Eco-marathon is an amazing experience for students and spectators alike.”
‘Amazing Experience,’ Indeed
The event has sparked intense competitions between high schools and between nearby universities, among other rivalries. In particular, Los Angeles-area universities see who can best each other annually, as do several Texas universities, including the University of Houston, the University of Texas at El Paso and for the first time this year, Rice University. Some Texas high schools would also like to claim state winner’s rights.
Never mind local rivalries, says the Stevens Institute team. Team members have high hopes for its first-ever Shell Eco-marathon entry, which will compete in the electric prototype class, comprised of futuristic vehicles seeking to reduce drag and maximize efficiency. “We expect to do quite well,” says senior Steve Rawson. “With some of the initial numbers we have from our design, we look to finish with about 400-or 500 miles/kWh and first in the class.”
At the University of Houston, the Superleggera team expects its entry to get 1,000 miles on a single tank of gas. But, the engineering students have been short of one major ingredient – cash – and they are actively seeking sponsors.
Good Samaritans Help
Supporters certainly can make a difference. The University of Alaska at Fairbanks’ electric vehicle in 2011 cost about $5,000 in supplies and another $2,500 in travel, and the team won Wired magazine’s unofficial “Down to the Wire” award for its last-minute efforts to get its funding. This year, the automotive engineering students are busy building additional vehicles, adding to the costs.
Teams get help from various good Samaritans. At Granite Falls High School in Washington, team volunteer Kari Hanson recently received the volunteer of the year award from a local business and she donated her $5,000 check to help fund the team’s trip to Houston. “Shell Eco-marathon Americas takes academic learning from the classroom and applies it to something real and tangible, but it also teaches us life and workforce skills they can put to use in the real world,” she says.
Several teams have websites to keep their communities informed of their Shell Eco-marathon Americas 2012 progress and seek donations.
Students Gain from Their Experiences
Shell Eco-marathon participants eagerly talk about how the competition has equipped students for careers in energy and technology. Allen White, faculty advisor of the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology team, says graduates have received job offers from Chrysler, Cummins Engine, Caterpillar and Rolls-Royce, among others.
MacKenzie Sellers, past president of the Purdue University Solar Racing team in 2007 and 2008, also works at Rolls-Royce, mostly with aerospace gas turbine engines. “My experience on the solar racing team prepared me for my career,” she says.
In addition to the student competition, Shell along with media sponsor The New York Times, will host the 2012 Energy Summit: Earth 2050: The Nexus of Food, Energy, Water. The two-day symposium will be attended by a variety of leaders representing policy, the environment, business and academia.
For more information on all 2012 events across the globe, including the complete Americas 2012 roster, schedule and official rules, please visit Shell Eco-marathon website at www.shell.com/ecomarathon.
About Shell Oil Company
Shell Oil Company is an affiliate of the Royal Dutch Shell plc, a global group of energy and petrochemical companies with 93,000 employees in more than 90 countries. We deliver a diverse range of energy solutions and petrochemicals to customers worldwide. These include transporting and trading oil and gas, marketing natural gas, producing and selling fuel for ships and planes, generating electricity and providing energy efficiency advice.
We also produce and sell petrochemical building blocks to industrial customers globally, and we are investing in making renewable and lower-carbon energy sources competitive for large-scale use. In the U.S., we operate in 50 and employ more than 20,000 people delivering energy in a responsible manner.
About Shell Eco-marathon
Shell Eco-marathon is a global program that challenges high school and college student teams to design, build and test the most energy-efficient vehicles. With annual events in the Americas, Europe and Asia, this innovation competition pushes future scientists and engineers to travel the farthest distance using the least amount of energy. Shell Eco-marathon Americas 2012 will take place March 29 – April 1, 2012 on the streets of downtown Houston, the energy capital of the world. Visit www.shell.com/ecomarathon/americas to learn more about this program.
INQUIRIES: Shell Media Line +1 (713) 241-4544
The companies in which Royal Dutch Shell plc directly and indirectly owns investments are separate entities. In this press release “Shell”, “Shell group” and “Royal Dutch Shell” are sometimes used for convenience where references are made to Royal Dutch Shell plc and its subsidiaries in general. Likewise, the words “we”, “us” and “our” are also used to refer to subsidiaries in general or to those who work for them.
These expressions are also used where no useful purpose is served by identifying the particular company or companies. ‘‘Subsidiaries’’, “Shell subsidiaries” and “Shell companies” as used in this press release refer to companies in which Royal Dutch Shell either directly or indirectly has control, by having either a majority of the voting rights or the right to exercise a controlling influence.
The companies in which Shell has significant influence but not control are referred to as “associated companies” or “associates” and companies in which Shell has joint control are referred to as “jointly controlled entities”.
In this press release, associates and jointly controlled entities are also referred to as “equity-accounted investments”. The term “Shell interest” is used for convenience to indicate the direct and/or indirect (for example, through our 34% shareholding in Woodside Petroleum Ltd.) ownership interest held by Shell in a venture, partnership or company, after exclusion of all third-party interest.
This press release contains forward-looking statements concerning the financial condition, results of operations and businesses of Royal Dutch Shell. All statements other than statements of historical fact are, or may be deemed to be, forward-looking statements.
Forward-looking statements are statements of future expectations that are based on management’s current expectations and assumptions and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results, performance or events to differ materially from those expressed or implied in these statements.
Forward-looking statements include, among other things, statements concerning the potential exposure of Royal Dutch Shell to market risks and statements expressing management’s expectations, beliefs, estimates, forecasts, projections and assumptions. These forward-looking statements are identified by their use of terms and phrases such as ‘‘anticipate’’, ‘‘believe’’, ‘‘could’’, ‘‘estimate’’, ‘‘expect’’, ‘‘intend’’, ‘‘may’’, ‘‘plan’’, ‘‘objectives’’, ‘‘outlook’’, ‘‘probably’’, ‘‘project’’, ‘‘will’’, ‘‘seek’’, ‘‘target’’, ‘‘risks’’, ‘‘goals’’, ‘‘should’’ and similar terms and phrases.
There are a number of factors that could affect the future operations of Royal Dutch Shell and could cause those results to differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements included in this press release, including (without limitation): (a) price fluctuations in crude oil and natural gas; (b) changes in demand for the Group’s products; (c) currency fluctuations; (d) drilling and production results;
(e) reserve estimates; (f) loss of market share and industry competition; (g) environmental and physical risks; (h) risks associated with the identification of suitable potential acquisition properties and targets, and successful negotiation and completion of such transactions; (i) the risk of doing business in developing countries and countries subject to international sanctions;
(j) legislative, fiscal and regulatory developments including potential litigation and regulatory effects arising from recategorisation of reserves; (k) economic and financial market conditions in various countries and regions; (l) political risks, including the risks of expropriation and renegotiation of the terms of contracts with governmental entities, delays or advancements in the approval of projects and delays in the reimbursement for shared costs; and (m) changes in trading conditions.
All forward-looking statements contained in this press release are expressly qualified in their entirety by the cautionary statements contained or referred to in this section. Readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements.
Additional factors that may affect future results are contained in Royal Dutch Shell’s 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2010 (available at www.shell.com/investor and www.sec.gov). These factors also should be considered by the reader. Each forward-looking statement speaks only as of the date of this press release, February 29, 2012.
Neither Royal Dutch Shell nor any of its subsidiaries undertake any obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement as a result of new information, future events or other information. In light of these risks, results could differ materially from those stated, implied or inferred from the forward-looking statements contained in this press release.
The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) permits oil and gas companies, in their filings with the SEC, to disclose only proved reserves that a company has demonstrated by actual production or conclusive formation tests to be economically and legally producible under existing economic and operating conditions.
We use certain terms in this press release that SEC's guidelines strictly prohibit us from including in filings with the SEC. U.S. Investors are urged to consider closely the disclosure in our Form 20-F, File No 1-32575, available on the SEC website www.sec.gov - opens in new window. You can also obtain these forms from the SEC by calling 1-800-SEC-0330.
Mitsubishi i Electric Vehicle Owners Benefitting from Expansion of EV Charging
Network in Hawaii
Honolulu, Hawaii, March 29, 2012 –
Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc. (MMNA) today has announced that the
company will be installing an ultra-fast DC electric vehicle (EV) quick charger
that will be available for use by the public.
The Japanese auto manufacturer, along with invaluable aid from Eaton Corporation
(NYSE:ETN) and the State of Hawaii, are helping to lay the foundation for a
bright future for 100% electric-powered vehicles in America's island paradise
through the development and ongoing expansion of a safe and convenient electric
vehicle (EV) charging network.
Mitsubishi Motors and Eaton
Thanks to the cooperative efforts of Mitsubishi Motors and diversified power
management solutions company Eaton Corporation – an official electric vehicle
charging equipment supplier for MMNA and supplier for commercial Level 2
charging stations at its EV certified dealerships – the Honolulu area and the
island of O'ahu are seeing a rapid expansion in the number of safe and
convenient Eaton electric vehicle (EV) charging stations installed on Hawaii's
most populous island.
Eaton will soon have an ultra-fast DC electric vehicle (EV) quick charger at Ko
Olina Resort – one of the premier vacation destinations in Hawaii. The Eaton DC
Quick Charger can replenish an empty 2012 Mitsubishi i main lithium-ion battery
pack to 80% full in under 30 minutes.
Sitting on the western side of the island of O'ahu approximately a 30-minute
drive from Honolulu, Ko Olina is an expansive oceanfront resort that includes a
world-class marina, award-winning golf course, Marriott hotel and timeshare
properties, and Disney's new Aulani resort.
Under the "Electric Vehicle (EV) Ready" grant program, the Hawaiian government
plans to reduce the use of imported petroleum fuels for ground transportation
and achieve 70% clean energy use by 2030.
The Eaton DC Quick Charger at Ko Olina will be free-to-use by anyone with an
electric vehicle equipped with the CHAdeMO-compliant quick-charging port at this
busy tourist destination as soon as it is up and running, making EV recharging
convenient for the citizens of Hawaii and vacationing visitors.
The Eaton DC Quick Charger will be installed by Volta Industries, the official
distributor/installer of Eaton EV chargers in Hawaii.
Volta Industries has recently unveiled a plan to develop a Volta Hawaii network,
a local business-sponsored, free-to-use electric vehicle charging network that
includes an initial rollout of four (4) Volta-designed/Eaton-powered Level 2 EV
charging stations at popular shopping destinations Pearlridge Mall (located
approximately 10 miles west of downtown Honolulu) and Kahala Mall (approximately
5 miles east of downtown Honolulu). The company plans on installing several
dozen free-to-use, Volta designed, Eaton powered Level 2 EV charging stations
across the island of O'ahu over the next year.
"Thanks to the cooperation of the State of Hawaii and Eaton Corporation,
Hawaiian residents and visiting tourists driving 100% electric-powered vehicles
like the 2012 Mitsubishi i will soon have an ever-expanding and easy-to-use
electric vehicle charging network that's also extremely cost-effective when
compared to gasoline alternatives," said Yoichi Yokozawa, President and CEO of
Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc. "Many of the goals outlined in the
memorandum of understanding (MOU) agreement between our company and the State of
Hawaii to help foster electric vehicle acceptance are quickly becoming a
The deployment of a safe and convenient electric vehicle (EV) charging network
of Level 2 and DC Quick Chargers by Mitsubishi Motors and Eaton Corporation is
helping to make 100% electric-powered vehicles like the 2012 Mitsubishi i an
ideal choice for affordable and sustainable transportation in Hawaii.
For more information about Eaton Electric Vehicle Solutions, please visit
eaton.com/plugin and for more on the 100% electric-powered 2012 Mitsubishi i,
please log on to i.mitsubishicars.com.
About Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc.
Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc., (MMNA) is responsible for all
manufacturing, sales, marketing, research and development operations for
Mitsubishi Motors in the United States. MMNA sells coupes, convertibles, sedans
and sport utility vehicles through a network of approximately 400 dealers. In
November of 2011, MMNA launched the battery-powered electric vehicle Mitsubishi
i as part of a corporate mission to offer consumers more environmentally
responsible modes of transportation. This battery-powered electric vehicle
technology addresses the need for vehicles that produce zero tailpipe emissions
and support a growing agenda for sustainability.
About Ko Olina Resort
Ko Olina is a 642-acre master-planned resort community on the western shore of
the island of O'ahu. Resort partners include the iconic J.W. Marriott Ihilani
Resort & Spa at Ko Olina, Marriott's Ko Olina Beach Club, Marriott's most
successful vacation club product in the world, Ko Olina Beach Villas Resort
luxury condominium residences, the new Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, Disney's
first family destination resort outside of its theme park developments, and the
state-of-the-art Ko Olina Marina. The resort, known as Honolulu's premier
vacation destination, also features seven pristine oceanfront lagoons connected
by 1.5 miles of shoreline pathways, access to a diverse selection of ocean and
outdoor activities and the island's best weather. For more information, visit
About Eaton Corporation
Eaton Corporation is a diversified power management company with more than 100
years of experience providing energy-efficient solutions that help our customers
effectively manage electrical, hydraulic and mechanical power. With 2011 sales
of $16.0 billion, Eaton is a global technology leader in electrical components,
systems and services for power quality, distribution and control; hydraulics
components, systems and services for industrial and mobile equipment; aerospace
fuel, hydraulics and pneumatic systems for commercial and military use; and
truck and automotive drivetrain and powertrain systems for performance, fuel
economy and safety. Eaton has approximately 73,000 employees and sells products
to customers in more than 150 countries. For more information, visit
Worldwatch report focuses on China’s green future
Nourishing the Planet Agriculture, China, Economy, Food Security, Research, Sustainable
By Haibing Ma and Danielle Nierenberg
China’s environmental problems remain a cause for global concern as climate change continues to reduce agricultural production and create instability in world food prices, according to The Worldwatch Institute’s report Green Economy and Green Jobs in China: Current Status and Potentials for 2020. The report was co-authored with a research team at the Institute for Urban and Environmental Studies led by Dr. Pan Jiahuathe. It cites alarming facts about the status of China’s environmental stability, including the placement of seven Chinese cities on a list of the top ten most polluted places on earth. “In 2005, water in 59 percent of rivers was undrinkable, along with 70 percent of water reserves and inland lakes, and one quarter of all aquifers polluted with more than half of urban aquifers heavily polluted,” according to the report.
Worldwatch’s report is the first to highlight China's move toward a green economy and the jobs created along the way. (Photo credit: Worldwatch Institute)
In order to address its dire environmental problems, China is establishing millions of green jobs in the forestry, energy, and transportation sectors. In particular, China is making efforts to use wind and solar power to greatly reduce China’s dependence on coal and create jobs in the manufacturing of wind turbines, solar photovoltaic panels, and solar water heaters. Additionally, the implementation of high-speed rail throughout the country will allow faster access to business centers and connect people from different regions, while creating jobs in manufacturing and service. While such efforts will help move China in a positive direction, the greatest opportunities for green jobs may be in the sustainable agriculture sector. Sustainable agriculture is a key component in reducing air pollution and water contamination, protecting forests and wildlife, all while producing nutritious food.
At a time when China’s population is growing, producing healthy food is of critical importance. But pollution has taken its toll on agriculture by reducing crop production, including a loss 10 million tons of grain production annually, according to the report. China is also facing its worst drought in 6o years which has caused food prices to go up, Oxfam USA notes that in March of this year food prices in China were nearly 12 percent higher than were the previous March. China has emphasized forestry as an effective way of addressing pollution while creating employment opportunities. The report states that forestation alone accounted for 1.8 million full-time green jobs in 2010, and that “nourishing these forested areas is vital for sustaining the country’s green transition.”
In addition, according to the report, agriculture is one of the largest users of energy in China and that China is also the world’s largest producer of fertilizer. In 2010 China’s fertilizer production totaled 66.20 million tons, the largest output in history.
China could also benefit from urban forests as a way to use agriculture to provide environmental benefits. When trees and other vegetation, like urban farms and gardens are planted they act like sinks for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, thus contributing to reduction of greenhouse gases and reducing air pollution. Urban forests are being looked at by urban planners around the world, including China, as a way to contribute to the health of urban areas.
Worldwatch’s report is the first to highlight China’s move toward a green economy and the jobs created along the way. At a time when food security is of global concern and population growth continues to stress the environment, the innovations highlighted in the report have the potential to affect the world in a positive way. The report states “One of the greatest lessons to be learned from the early days of China’s green transition is that building a sustainable future requires using approaches and processes that are sustainable in practice as well.” With more China-focused projects in development, including a potential sustainable agriculture strategy for the northwestern regions, China could achieve both an effective and efficient transition towards green economy.
Haibing Ma is the Worldwatch Institute’s China Program Manager. Danielle Nierenberg is project director of Nourishing the Planet.
MIT researchers succeeded in generating about 70 picowatts of light from 30 picowatts of energy — an efficiency of 230 percent!
LED's Exceed 100% Efficiency
March 5, 2012 by Lisa Zyga, PhysOrg.com
An LED's power conversion (wall-plug) efficiency varies inversely with its optical output power. Wall-plug efficiency can exceed 100%, the unity efficiency, at low applied voltages and high temperatures. Image credit: Santhanam, et al. ©2012 American Physical Society.
(PhysOrg.com) -- For the first time, researchers have demonstrated that an LED can emit more optical power than the electrical power it consumes. Although scientifically intriguing, the results won't immediately result in ultra-efficient commercial LEDs since the demonstration works only for LEDs with very low input power that produce very small amounts of light.The efficiency is around 230% according to calculations - Ed. Note
The researchers, Parthiban Santhanam and coauthors from MIT, have published their study in a recent issue of Physical Review Letters.
As the researchers explain in their study, the key to achieving a power conversionefficiency above 100%, i.e., "unity efficiency," is to greatly decrease the applied voltage. According to their calculations, as the voltage is halved, the input power is decreased by a factor of 4, while the emitted light power scales linearly with voltage so that it's also only halved. In other words, an LED's efficiency increases as its output power decreases. (The inverse of this relationship - that LED efficiency decreases as its output power increases - is one of the bigest hurdles in designing bright, efficient LED lights.)
In their experiments, the researchers reduced the LED's input power to just 30 picowatts and measured an output of 69 picowatts of light - an efficiency of 230%. The physical mechanisms worked the same as with any LED: when excited by the applied voltage, electrons and holes have a certain probability of generating photons. The researchers didn't try to increase this probability, as some previous research has focused on, but instead took advantage of small amounts of excess heat to emit more power than consumed. This heat arises from vibrations in the device's atomic lattice, which occur due to entropy.
This light-emitting process cools the LED slightly, making it operate similar to a thermoelectric cooler. Although the cooling is insufficient to provide practical cooling at room temperature, it could potentially be used for designing lights that don't generate heat. When used as a heat pump, the device might be useful for solid-state cooling applications or even power generation.
Theoretically, this low-voltage strategy allows for an arbitrarily efficient generation of photons at low voltages. For this reason, the researchers hope that the technique could offer a new way to test the limits of energy-efficiency electromagnetic communication.
More information: Parthiban Santhanam, et al. "Thermoelectrically Pumped Light-Emitting Diodes Operating above Unity Efficiency." Phys. Rev. Lett. 108, 09740 (2012). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.108.097403
Integrity Research Institute | 5020 Sunnyside Ave | Suite 209 | Beltsville | MD | 20705
Rachelle Van Zanten - My Country (Official Video) HD
Uploaded by bootshank on May 6, 2011
Inspired by images of Tahltan women blockading Shell in defense of the Sacred Headwaters in northern British Columbia, Rachelle wrote 'My Country'.
She was invited to perform it for the Tahltan people at the Iskut Music Festival a year later, where we filmed this video.
One of the Klabona Keepers brought us up to the Headwaters, the birthplace of the Skeena, Nass and Stikine rivers and a traditional Tahltan territory. This area is critically endangered by a number of industrial mega-projects which threaten all 3 watersheds, affecting an area larger than Ireland.
Shot on Canon 5D2 & a host of HDV cameras (& 1 ancient Betacam).
INTERVIEW: Rob Peterson Of Chevy Talks Volt Production Shutdown, Reveals High Customer Satisfaction
Posted By Brit Liggett On April 2, 2012
There is a buzz in the air this week about the Chevy Volt thanks to an announcement by General Motors on Friday that they’ll be shutting down production of the Volt at the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant for five weeks. While the news media geared up  to make this announcement look like the end  for this highly-publicized plug-in hybrid electric vehicle , we bet that this decision to equalize supply with demand is just a Volt growing pain . So, we went straight to the horses mouth and asked Rob Peterson of Chevy Volt Communications about the Volt team’s take on this whole situation. It seems the feeling inside the company is decidedly positive — something you might not envision if you just listened to Google News and your television. Peterson started off the interview by telling assuring us what we already though was true, “this is just an opportunity to adjust our inventory levels, it is just temporary,” and then let us in on some insights from the Chevy crew.
As we explained in an article earlier today , and as many outlets have pointed out, the Republican primary contenders  have been using the Volt as a scapegoat  for assaults against the “radical left.” Peterson said that though their attacks might seem baffling, he can look at things from their perspective.
“President Obama has been out in front trying to create a national alternative energy policy and part of that is assisting in the diversification of fuel used for automobiles. He has put a target out for one million plug-in electric vehicles  for 2015,” Peterson pointed out. “Then there is the action he took in assisting in the bailout of General Motors. What is happening right now is there are people out there that did not support the bailout and they did not support government incentives in trying to spur an industry such as this. [sic] The Volt fits in both of these categories. It makes it an easy target for these people to go after in order to differentiate themselves from the policy of the President.”
Even though Peterson alluded to the fact that he could grasp the reasoning behind the Republican stance , he made sure to note that he didn’t agree with the punches. He followed up that statement by noting that the Volt, “promotes energy security in the United States, it is manufactured here in the United States, it is about innovation, about an organization trying to do something bigger than just what the organization is. So, it is a little bit of a dichotomy for those people that oppose it.”
Peterson also made mention that perhaps the biggest problem in this hiccup is being the first line out to battle in the electric vehicle wars. “The key thing here is that the Volt is not that much different than all these other new technology vehicles but there is an adoption curve. The adoption rate can’t just take off but eventually it will reach a tipping point. But you have to be out there first, we’ve been out there for awhile,” Peterson told us. “We’ve stumbled here with the investigation of the battery fires , which put a little bit of a damper on sales but we are seeing a recovery in sales, there is positive momentum out there which is a great sign for us.” He reiterated to us that this small speed bump and temporary factory shut down was just a moment for Chevy to catch its breath, reassess the situation, and let sales catch up with production.
“Our objective is to build vehicles to meet demand rather than building vehicles and forcing a different type of demand curve. It is really important for people to understand that the Volt is a vanguard in the introduction of electric vehicles,” Peterson told us. With every new introduction of technology or a change in lifestyle, one has to expect bumps in the road. It can’t all be smooth sailing. One thing that has been smooth, however, is customer satisfaction with the Volt. Peterson told us that in a recent Consumer Reports  survey 93% of Chevy Volt owners said they were “very satisfied” with their vehicle.
“It is a fun to drive car. There’s lots of technology in it. Everyone’s buying behavior is slightly different, some want performance some want technology,” Peterson explained. “Across the board they love this vehicle for a whole slew of different things. While there are people out there that want to see things happen faster, they say there are challenges that exist in the marketplace. What we have going for us is that we have a product that is outstanding and a customer base that is enthused with the vehicle.” When we asked him what he’d tell a person thinking about buying a Chevy Volt he said he’d, “tell someone to step up to a Volt owner and ask what they like about their car. It won’t be a quick conversation.”
He also explained that though the Volt is seen as already having been a failure, Chevrolet has only had Volt sales open in all fifty states for barely two and a half months. That’s not enough time to really test the waters and Peterson believes that after they right their inventory with demand, they’ll be off and running again. Interestingly though, they aren’t just banking on the Volt to carry them through this new fuel-efficient revolution. They’re actually using a lot of the technology that makes the Volt so special in their other models. “We are starting to see dividends from this advanced vehicle finding its way into other vehicles. While we are racing up the adoption curve in the market with the Volt, behind the scenes we are leveraging the technology in other vehicles to provide other customers with more fuel efficient options.”
URLs in this post:
 news media geared up: http://money.cnn.com/2012/03/05/autos/volt_sales_analysis/?source=cnn_bin
 look like the end: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-500395_162-57390448/chevy-volt-a-bad-sign-for-electric-car-sales
 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/whats-ailing-the-chevy-volt/2012/03/04/gIQAW6HrqR_blog.html?tid=pm_business_pop
 Volt growing pain: http://inhabitat.com/why-the-halt-in-chevy-volt-production-doesnt-foretell-electric-vehicle-doomsday
 Image: http://inhabitat.com/inhabitat-exclusive-chevy-talks-volt-production-shutdown-reveals-high-customer-satisfaction/rob-peterson-volt-3
 Image: http://inhabitat.com/inhabitat-exclusive-chevy-talks-volt-production-shutdown-reveals-high-customer-satisfaction/rob-peterson-volt-5
 Image: http://inhabitat.com/inhabitat-exclusive-chevy-talks-volt-production-shutdown-reveals-high-customer-satisfaction/rob-peterson-volt-2
 Image: http://inhabitat.com/inhabitat-exclusive-chevy-talks-volt-production-shutdown-reveals-high-customer-satisfaction/rob-peterson-volt-4
 Image: http://inhabitat.com/inhabitat-exclusive-chevy-talks-volt-production-shutdown-reveals-high-customer-satisfaction/rob-peterson-volt-1
 using the Volt as a scapegoat: http://inhabitat.com/republicans-criticize-obama-for-supporting-the-american-made-chevy-volt-in-new-video
 one million plug-in electric vehicles: http://inhabitat.com/obama-will-not-meet-his-electric-car-goal-by-2015
 investigation of the battery fires: http://inhabitat.com/general-motors-to-make-structural-changes-to-chevy-volt-batteries-to-ease-fire-fears
 Consumer Reports: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/chevrolet/volt.htm
 + Chevy Volt: http://www.chevrolet.com/volt-electric-car/
Bay Area has couple of small nuclear reactors
David R. Baker, Chronicle Staff Writer
Not far from Pleasanton, in a grassy valley grazed by cows, lies a nuclear reactor that the Bay Area keeps forgetting.
Another sits 17 miles away in San Ramon.
By the standards of the nuclear industry, both reactors are tiny. The small amounts of energy they generate don't flow onto California's power grid. Instead, operators use the neutrons from each reactor to peer inside solid objects, in a process similar to X-ray imaging.
Thirty-six "research and test" reactors are scattered throughout the United States, often on college campuses. Four are in California. They rarely draw attention except from the researchers, companies and government agencies that rely on them.
That may change, at least briefly, due to Japan's nuclear crisis, in which partial meltdowns and radiation releases at a quake-stricken nuclear plant have forced authorities to evacuate the surrounding area. Small test reactors, after all, operate on similar principles to their much larger cousins, using uranium fuel rods held close to one another to generate fission.
But they are also different in key aspects of their design, differences that operators say make meltdown virtually impossible.
"The reactor can't exceed the melting temperature of the fuel, even if we tried," said David Turner, manager of the Vallecitos Nuclear Center near Pleasanton.
For example, the center's reactor can't sustain a nuclear reaction if the water surrounding the fuel rods leaks out, said Turner. It also can't sustain the reaction if the temperature rises above 120 degrees. Other small reactors have similar safety features.
"The hotter it gets, the more it poisons its own reaction," said Sandra Warren, general manager of the Aerotest Operations facility in San Ramon.
Indeed, the most common type of test reactor - called TRIGA, for Training, Research, Isotopes, General Atomics - was designed to be safe enough that university students couldn't screw it up. Nuclear engineering students often train on the small reactors before landing jobs at big commercial power plants.
"TRIGA reactors are absolutely essential for that," said Barry Klein, director of the McClellan Nuclear Research Center near Sacramento. Originally built by the U.S. Air Force, the center is now run by UC Davis and also trains UC Berkeley students on its small reactor.
"You can't train nuclear engineers at Dunkin' Donuts," Klein said.
Still, the test reactors sometimes cause controversy. A 2008 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that reactor owners and federal regulators had not sufficiently studied the ways that terrorists could attack the facilities.
And while Bay Area residents tend to forget about the reactors in their midst, some local environmentalists have long questioned whether Vallecitos could be damaged by earthquakes.
"There are huge risks in the Tri-Valley area, and throughout the Bay Area, that modern science calculates are much more severe than people thought when these facilities were built," said Marylia Kelley, executive director of the anti-nuclear group Tri-Valley CAREs (Communities Against a Radioactive Environment).
Vallecitos has a longer, more illustrious and more contentious history than most small nuclear facilities.
Among the hills near the Sunol Grade, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and General Electric Co. built the first commercially owned nuclear plant to supply power to the general public. The Vallecitos Boiling Water Reactor began operating in 1957, generating about 5 megawatts of electricity. (For comparison, PG&E's Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant near San Luis Obispo generates about 2,200 megawatts.)
Although PG&E used the power from Vallecitos, the boiling water reactor largely served as a way for GE to test components and systems for the larger commercial plants to come. The company took it out of service in 1963.
But the Vallecitos site had other, smaller reactors as well. One of them, which made radioactive isotopes used in medicine, was closed by federal regulators in 1977, after the U.S. Geological Survey reported that a fault line might run closer to the facility than previously suspected.
That triggered a long, fierce fight between GE and local environmentalists who feared that an earthquake along the Verona Fault could seriously damage the reactor. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission finally gave GE permission to restart the reactor, but the company in 1985 decided not to do so, saying that competitors in the medical isotope business had seized all of GE's former market share.
Still, the company continued to run one last reactor at Vallecitos. Generating just 100 kilowatts, the reactor performs neutron radiography, using neutrons to create images of the interior of objects.
Although forgotten by many, Vallecitos still has its critics. Their focus often isn't on the reactor itself. Rather, they worry about the used fuel rods that owners of commercial nuclear power plants ship to Vallecitos for study. Vallecitos has "hot cells," places for handling radioactive material such as spent fuel rods.
The rods are shipped to Vallecitos by truck. Once examined, the used nuclear fuel is stored on site, in a chemically stabilized form. Turner said Vallecitos has taken in about 300 to 350 kilograms of spent nuclear fuel - or about 660 to 770 pounds - over the years.
"You're storing nuclear waste within feet of a fault line," Kelley said. The possibility of a highway accident involving a shipment of used fuel rods also troubles her.
"Anytime you put spent nuclear fuel on the highway with station wagons and soccer moms, there's a risk," Kelley said.
Turner said the storage facility, as well as the reactor, can withstand earthquakes. And the fuel rod shipping containers must survive tests that involve dropping the containers from a 10-foot height and subjecting them to a diesel-fueled fire.
The San Ramon reactor also has a long history, receiving its operating license in 1965.
It too specializes in neutron radiography. NASA used its imaging for both the Apollo moon-shot program and the space shuttle.
But the reactor's future is up in the air. The parent company that owns Aerotest is looking for someone to buy the facility, and Aerotest shut the reactor last fall. Several potential buyers have expressed interest, Warren said. But the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, she said, wants to make sure that whoever buys it has the resources to pay for decommissioning the facility, whenever that occurs.
This article appeared on page D - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle
Fisker Atlantic Debuts At 2012 New York Auto Show: Video
By Viknesh Vijayenthiran
Apr 4, 2012
Fisker’s follow-up to the Karma, the highly-anticipated Project Nina, has now made its official world debut at the 2012 New York Auto Show as the Fisker Atlantic.
The car on display in New York is labeled a “design prototype” but as the Karma has proven, Fisker isn’t afraid to introduce concept-like, bold designs on its production models.
Project Nina was only a running code-name for the Atlantic, which like its Karma big brother comes powered by a range-extended electric drivetrain dubbed EVer.
The Atlantic produces significantly less power than the 408-horsepower Karma, but offers the choice of standard rear-wheel or optional all-wheel drive.
Its four-cylinder gasoline engine, which acts as a generator to charge a lithium-ion battery, is not mechanically connected to the wheels and is likely to be a BMW unit. It has been tuned to offer maximum economy and high torque.
One major difference between the Karma and the Atlantic is that the smaller sedan will be built in the U.S. and will be significantly more affordable, though it still won’t be cheap. Pricing should be similar to the $57,400 ($49,900 after tax credits) starting price of its main rival, the Tesla Model S, though Fisker is being tight-lipped on specifics.
Fisker Atlantic Design Prototype - 2012 New York Auto Show
Overall, the Fisker Atlantic’s dimensions are comparable to those of an Audi A5 though it has seating for five. It has been engineered inside and out to offer a dynamic yet compact feel on the road. It features a unique glass roof that shows off a ridged ‘spider’ structure. This design allows the Atlantic to offer a remarkable amount of rear headroom for a car with its sleek, coupe-like stance.
Other notable features of the design are Fisker’s signature grille, sharp headlights, rear door handles mounted on the C-pillars and slim LED tail-lamps.
Speaking at the unveiling of the Atlantic, Fisker chairman and design boss Henrik Fisker said, “We are exceptionally proud of the Atlantic design prototype and believe we have created another groundbreaking car that looks and will drive like nothing else on the road in this class.”
Fisker says its Atlantic is aimed at young families who want to drive an impactful, high-end vehicle while making a positive statement about responsibilities--both in terms of their commitment to sustainability and the practicalities of everyday life.
More details, including final specs, prices and an on-sale date will be given closer to launch.
The development of the Atlantic has not been without any hurdles. Fisker was recently forced to stop work and lay off employees at its plant in Delaware, which is scheduled to start building the car towards the end of the year. And just last week A123 Systems, Fisker’s main battery supplier, announced a recall of its U.S.-manufactured lithium-ion battery after a fault was discovered when several owners of the Karma couldn’t start their cars.
HI-RES GALLERY: Fisker Atlantic Design Prototype - 2012 New York Auto Show
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Fisker Readying Second Luxury Plug-in After Karma Setbacks
By Alan Ohnsman and Jeff Plungis on April 04, 2012 Fisker Automotive Inc., maker of plug-in luxury cars, is preparing to build a second rechargeable model as it fixes glitches and boosts deliveries of its $103000 Karma sedan. more
BusinessWeek ( 4/3/2012 10:47:26 PM -08:00 )
With Atlantic, Fisker Seeks Out Calmer Seas
By JERRY GARRETT What is it? An plug-in hybrid sized and kitted up like a midrange Audi, BMW or Mercedes-Benz. In Fisker-speak, the Atlantic was the vehicle formerly referred to as Project Nina. Is it real? Yes and no. Insofar as the Atlantic has been more
New York Times (blog) ( 4/3/2012 10:25:12 PM -08:00 )
Fisker CEO revamps business plan amid Karma woes
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Fisker Automotive, a maker of plug-in hybrid sports cars, may build its second model outside of the United States if federal funds intended to pay for the vehicle's production fall through, the company's chief executive said on more
Chicago Tribune ( 4/3/2012 9:12:52 PM -08:00 )
Fisker finds funding, Atlantic EVer will see production
In the wake of securing $392 million in financing, Fisker Automotive announces that it will produce its newly announced affordable extended range EV. by Antuan Goodwin April 3, 2012 9:14 PM PDT Follow @antgoo The 2012 New York Auto Show starts early more
CNET ( 4/3/2012 8:20:02 PM -08:00 )
Fisker's Plans at Car Plant in Doubt
By JOSEPH B. WHITE Fisker Automotive's new chief executive, Tom LaSorda, said the luxury electric-vehicle company is looking at alternatives to building its second model in a former General Motors Co. plant in Delaware, raising the possibility of more
Wall Street Journal ( 4/3/2012 7:43:21 PM -08:00 )
Fisker unveils its new Atlantic plug-in car
By Peter Valdes-Dapena @PeterDrivesApril 3, 2012: 8:45 PM ET NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Fisker Automotive, best known as the manufacturer of the Fisker Karma, a high-end plug-in luxury car, unveiled its next model, the Atlantic, Tuesday night in advance of more
CNN International ( 4/3/2012 5:48:46 PM -08:00 )
Fisker Debuts All-New Atlantic After Securing $392 Million in Funding
By Damon Lavrinc When Elon Musk envisioned the creation of Tesla, his plan was simple: Develop an exclusive, high-performance sports car for the world's EV elite, use that money to produce a more attainable mid-range luxury sedan and follow that up more
Wired News ( 4/3/2012 5:21:29 PM -08:00 )
Seeking US Loans for Plant, Fisker Scrambles to Restore Credibility
DETROIT — Fisker Automotive's huge assembly plant in Delaware stands vacant, waiting for the money, equipment and workers to make a new plug-in hybrid electric car backed by loans from the federal government. But whether Fisker, a start-up based in more
New York Times ( 4/3/2012 4:49:02 PM -08:00 )
Fisker to debut Atlantic plug-in EV at NYC event tonight
News of Fisker's smaller second act left the 'Net with many questions. Tonight, we hope to get some answers. by Antuan Goodwin April 3, 2012 4:40 PM PDT Follow @antgoo Fisker released a new batch of photos of its Atlantic plug-in EV after images leaked more
CNET ( 4/3/2012 3:44:41 PM -08:00 )
Hybrid Sports-Car Maker Fisker Completes $392 Million Fundraising
By YULIYA CHERNOVA Fisker Automotive Inc., a maker of plug-in hybrid sports cars, closed on a $392 million financing that the company hopes eventually will reach $500 million, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. more
Wall Street Journal ( 4/2/2012 11:53:37 AM -08:00 )
Fisker Surpasses $1 Billion in Funding With New Investment
By Andrew Herndon on April 02, 2012 Fisker Automotive Inc., a maker of plug-in hybrid sports cars, got financing that increases its funding to $1.025 billion. The company disclosed the $129 million investment in a filing today that didn't identify more
BusinessWeek ( 4/2/2012 9:33:25 AM -08:00 )
Amid Setbacks, Fisker Automotive Closes On $392M In New Financing
By Yuliya Chernova Fisker Automotive closed on $392 million in a current round of financing that the company hopes will reach $500 million, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Fisker has about 650 of its luxury plug-in more
Wall Street Journal (blog) ( 4/2/2012 8:03:27 AM -08:00 )
Photos of Fisker Automotive's Atlantic luxury plug-in electric are online a day before the company officially unveils the car in New York. Called Project Nina, the four-door sedan is expected to have the same powertrain as the Fisker Karma (and Chevy more
CNET ( 4/2/2012 4:46:31 AM -08:00 )
Troubled Fisker to unveil a new sedan - the Nina
By Peter Valdes-Dapena @PeterDrivesApril 2, 2012: 9:08 AM ET Fisker has experienced some trouble in the early months with its current model, the Karma. A less expensive Fisker car is expected to be unveiled on Tuesday. NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Fisker more
CNNMoney ( 4/2/2012 2:41:16 AM -08:00 )
Fisker's luxury plug-in starts with stumble
By Alan Ohnsman And Aaron Ricadela, Bloomberg March 30, 2012 Fisker Automotive Inc.'s dream of a profitable plug-in luxury-car business still entices investors, even as the California startup fixes glitches in its first model and is pulled into a more
Victoria Times Colonist ( 3/30/2012 1:58:56 AM -08:00 )
Fisker looks for Karma pay off
Fisker Automotive Inc.'s dream of a profitable plug-in luxury-car business still entices investors, even as the California startup fixes glitches in its first model and is pulled into a political fight over a US loan program. more
Edmonton Journal ( 3/30/2012 12:56:14 AM -08:00 )
Fisker unveils Atlantic plug-in car
Fisker Automotive, best known as the manufacturer of the Fisker Karma, a high-end plug-in luxury car, unveiled its next model, the Atlantic, Tuesday night in advance of the New York Auto Show. Prior to its unveiling, the Atlantic had been known only by more
Local 10 ( 4/4/2012 12:12:38 AM -08:00
Fisker Atlantic: Officially Unveiled [Photo Gallery] [Video]
The Fisker Atlantic just made its official debut at the New York Auto Show and now he have full details and also a full view of the car. It's just a design prototype for now, but based on the Fisker Karma's design we're sure that the final version more
autoevolution ( 4/4/2012 12:00:04 AM -08:00 )
Fisker Atlantic officially revealed +video
The Fisker Atlantic – a smaller range extender car from Fisker – has been officially revealed on the eve of the New York Auto Show. We had the leaked photos of the new Fisker Atlantic a few days ago – a car we'd known as 'Project Nina until now – but more
Cars UK (blog) ( 4/3/2012 11:58:04 PM -08:00 )
US: Fisker unveils Atlantic sedan design prototype
Fisker Automotive unveiled a design prototype of its second model, the Atlantic sedan previously designated as 'Nina', on the eve of the New York Auto Show.The Atlantic is a luxury four-door sport... This article is available only to members of more
Automotive World ( 4/3/2012 11:37:30 PM -08:00 )
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, April 4
Glenn Turner, 917-817-3396, glenn @ ripplestrategies.com
Shayna Samuels, 718-541-4785, shayna @ ripplestrategies.com
SEC Overrules ExxonMobil's Attempt to Block Shareholder Resolution on Fracking
Shareholders to Vote on Resolution at Company's Annual Meeting, Wednesday, May 30
Just eight weeks before ExxonMobil's annual shareholder meeting, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sided with investors in their battle to address concerns about the energy giant's hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") operations. The shareholder resolution asks ExxonMobil to issue a report on the financial impact to shareowners from the regulatory and community impacts associated with the controversial practice of fracking. On March 28th the SEC rejected ExxonMobil’s request to omit the resolution from its proxy, clearing the path for a vote on the proposal at the company’s annual shareholder meeting on May 30th.
"Community opposition to fracking has grown significantly in recent years, leading to bans, moratoriums, and increased regulatory scrutiny," said Michael Passoff, Senior Strategist at As You Sow, a shareholder advocacy nonprofit that filed the resolution on behalf of the Park Foundation. "Investors need companies to disclose how they are managing these wide-ranging risks."
In response to the shareholder proposal, ExxonMobil argued to the SEC that it had substantially implemented the requests shareholders laid out in their resolution. Deeper research revealed a large gap between information shareholders requested and what ExxonMobil disclosed. According to As You Sow's attorney, Sanford J. Lewis, "ExxonMobil has provided fragmentary and incomplete information on some of the community concerns, does not disclose government enforcement actions as requested by the proposal, and has disclosed far too little analysis useful to investors on the short- and long- term risks posed by these developments."
For example, ExxonMobil's existing reporting focuses heavily on community opposition it faced in just a single town, Southlake, Texas. In actuality, more than 70 towns or cities and at least three states and four countries - including New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Germany, France, Bulgaria, and South Africa - have enacted bans or moratoriums on fracking which can limit drilling operations and materially impact investors' holdings. The company's existing reporting failed to detail where these wide-ranging developments may affects its operations.
The environmental and public health concerns from fracking center around the toxic chemicals used in fracking fluid and the disposal of wastewater; these two critical issues could have significant financial implications for the companies involved, and are contributing to increased regulatory scrutiny. ExxonMobil asserted to the SEC that it had no hydraulic fracturing-related environmental violations. It made this claim by limiting reportable violations to activities detectable deep underground, ignoring impacts occurring near the surface. In fact, in Pennsylvania alone, 156 notices of violations related to natural gas extraction operations where fracking is underway were issued to ExxonMobil or its recently acquired subsidiary, XTO, between 2010 and 2011.
The resolution also asks the company to identify risks to operations or expansion related to water supply limitations. While the company touts its recycling efforts in the Marcellus Shale, in reality its efforts are comparatively minimal. Less than 0.2% of its fluid wastes including drilling, fracking, and produced water from Pennsylvania is recycled by the company, whereas other companies are recycling more than 90% of their wastes.
"Fracking is a major issue of concern for investors and the public," says Jon Jensen, Executive Director of the Park Foundation. "It is critical that we understand how companies are managing the risks to human health and the environment of communities where they operate. As the nation's largest natural gas producer, ExxonMobil needs to set the standard for disclosure on its gas exploration practices and development of safe technology."
Fracking resolutions have received significant support from shareholders since they were first filed in 2010. Last year, the average vote for proposals related to fracking was 40%, which is double the average support for a shareholder vote on environmental or social risks.* Over 15 companies have faced similar resolutions, and many have been withdrawn in exchange for company commitments to shareholders. ExxonMobil and Ultra Petroleum are industry laggards in disclosure and are the only companies to receive resolutions focused on their fracking operations for three consecutive years.
The proposal was filed by As You Sow on behalf of the Park Foundation, and was co-filed by the following investor groups: Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate; Unitarian Universalist Service Committee; Benedictine Sisters of Boerne, Texas; Zevin Asset Management; First Affirmative Financial Network; and the Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica. This proposal is part of an investor coalition effort coordinated by Green Century Capital Management and the Investor Environmental Health Network.
As You Sow is a nonprofit organization that promotes environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, coalition building, and innovative legal strategies. For more information visit www.asyousow.org.
* The percentage in favor was calculated by (i) dividing the number of votes in support of the proposal by (ii) the sum of the number of votes voted in support of and against the proposal. Abstentions and broker non-votes were not included in the calculation.
Press contact: Ruth Ashton
press @ pod-point.com
020 7247 4114
Electric vehicle drivers beat fuel crisis - and make a cash hefty saving
Study results show range anxiety is no barrier to mileage
Many people think of electric vehicles as ‘quirky,’ but results from a pilot study conducted by British EV charging company POD Point and the Danish EV leasing specialist ChoosEV show that EVs are quickly adopted as the primary family car.
For the cash-strapped British family driving 12,000 miles a year, this could result in savings of £961 a year on fuel*.
The study supplied 600 families with an electric vehicle as a second car, and recorded their mileage and electricity consumption over a 10-month period.
Results revealed that EV users travelled much further than expected. Most reported the EV had quickly replaced the petrol or diesel car as the car of choice for everyday driving, and several families’ mileage exceeded 18,000 miles a year – representing a saving of £1,442 on the family finances**.
Savings on fuel costs escalate as mileage increases, and the purchase price of EVs will reduce dramatically this year with the launch of new ranges at prices equivalent to the average family car.
Said Erik Fairbairn, CEO of EV charging company POD Point: “There’s been a lot of scepticism about EVs, and now is the time to trumpet the message that EV drivers haven’t been affected by spiralling fuel costs or the recent fuel crisis. The lifetime costs of running a petrol or diesel car continue to escalate, and when you can charge your car for under £1.50, the £80-a-tank cost doesn’t make financial sense.”
So what about the ‘range anxiety’ that has bedevilled the EV’s reputation?
Erik commented: “The public charging infrastructure for electric vehicles is being rapidly installed in the UK in car parks at supermarkets, railway stations and designated on-street parking bays. There is also a growing network of rapid chargers at motorway service stations.”
The 2011 MiniE trial*** showed that on average EV drivers charge their car three times a week, and showed that range anxiety is not an issue for everyday driving – findings supported by a recent survey by TomTom and POD Point which showed:
· 74% of EV drivers do more than 9,000 miles a year
· Most (74%) EV drivers use their car for the commute to work
· 82% of EV drivers have at least one other car – but 80% consider their EV as their primary vehicle
- ends -
Yearly fuel cost £1,135 based on 12,000 miles in a new Ford Focus 1.6 TDCi. Combined/urban use 67.3 mpg. Diesel at £1.40 per litre.
Yearly charging cost £174 based on 12,000 miles in a Nissan Leaf, charged on British Gas Economy 7 night rate of 6.05p per kWh.
Yearly fuel cost £1,703 based on 18,000 miles in a new Ford Focus 1.6 TDCi. Combined/urban use 67.3 mpg. Diesel at £1.40 per litre.
Yearly charging cost £261 based on 18,000 miles in a Nissan Leaf, charged on British Gas Economy 7 night rate of 6.05p per kWh.
The MiniE trial was a government-supported trial that tested the use of electric vehicles in real driving conditions. It was published in 2011.
About EV costs
EV owners benefit from reduced car tax, do not pay congestion charge in London, and some councils wave parking fees for EVs.
About POD Point
POD Point is an EV hardware and software specialist, providing ‘smart’ networked home and street charge points.
A live, online map shows the availability of POD Point charge points at: www.pod-point.com/home/live-availability.
POD Point has been selected by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) to develop the National Chargepoint Registry, which will provide an interactive map showing the location and availability of charge points in the UK and enable developers of apps, satnavs, and websites to develop platforms showing the location and availability of charge points in the United Kingdom.
About the ChoosEV trial
The ChoosEV results were from a pilot sample - the initial stage of a two-year longitudinal study that will examine the driving habits and electricity use of 2,000 families in Denmark using electric vehicles. A further interim dataset will be available in July 2012.
For further information about POD Point, more statistics from the POD Point/TomTom survey, or to speak to an EV charging company specialist, call POD Point on 0207 247 4114 or email press@...
POD Point Ltd.
t: 020 7247 4114
f: 0207 788 9631
a: 4th floor, Cityside House, 40 Adler Street, London E1 1EE
Follow us on Twitter & Facebook
200+ Miles per Gallon – No Kidding
Li-ion Motors, the first company in the world to deliver a lithium Ion powered car to a retail customer, presents the answer to high gas prices and celebrates the 4 year anniversary of problem free daily driving of the first ever ALL ELECTRIC, Lithium Ion powered car.
$5 in Gas for the average car… 30 miles
$5 of electricity for a Li-ion Motors car… 200 miles
WAVE II – Winner of the 2010 X-Prize with 202.5 MPGe
Inizio – Worlds Fastest, All Electric, Zero Emission Supercar
170 MPH, 0-60 in 3.4 Sec, up to 200 miles on single charge
Take a look for yourself
Video - Engineering of the Inizio:
Video - WAVE II
Outlet’s interested in featuring/reviewing the Inizio and/or the WAVE II are encouraged to contact:
Li-ion Motors Corp.
rralston @ li-ionmotors.com
Valmet Dawn gets its Tron on in Geneva
By Sebastian Blanco
Posted Mar 8th 2012
There are a lot of ways to describe the Valmet Dawn you see pictured above, but our favorite could be mouthed by Keanu Reeves: Whoa. And then we would expand it to WTF? As in, "Whoa the F?"
That's because Valmet Automotive – the makers of the Fisker Karma, among other vehicles – has wrapped its electric vehicle engineering chops in what is perhaps the most impractical and odd-looking concept vehicle we've ever seen. The Dawn concept is meant to show that Valmet can both research and develop EV components like drivetrains and batteries and put them together into a vehicle, a two-prong approach that Valmet says is a new strategic focus area for the company. With that in mind, perhaps it not a total surprise that Valmet hasn't released any sort of information about the range, power or really any real-world details about the Dawn. Like, for example, what's that blue disc in front? An inductive charger? A 21st Century cow catcher? An Identity Disc?
Valmet says this test bed vehicle "integrates both the component developer and integrator roles. Displaying the battery pack, drivetrain, control unit and charging options, it also shows what ultimately can be achieved in the world of electric mobility, by integrating solutions in an innovative fashion." Innovative. Yeah, that's the word.
PO Box 4
(Visiting address: Autotehtaankatu 14)
FI-23501 Uusikaupunki, Finland
Tel. +358 20 484 180
Fax +358 20 484 181
March 02, 2012
Valmet Automotive pursues two-fold approach to EV engineering
Valmet Automotive, a leading service provider for the automotive industry, applies a two-fold approach to EV engineering. The company is reinforcing the R&D efforts, while simultaneously complementing them with an integrator role.
Valmet Automotive is an established global pioneer in electric mobility, both in engineering and manufacturing. With the increasing popularity of electric vehicles, Valmet Automotive has made electric vehicle engineering a strategic focus area.
EV engineering has reorganized and extended its resources to meet the requirements of the two-fold approach. Firstly, in component engineering, R&D focus is on drivetrains and batteries. Valmet Automotive also intends to establish an EV Software Competence Center. Secondly, Valmet Automotive focuses on EV engineering as a solution integrator. With generally low level of component and solution standardization in EVs, a capable integrator is a valuable asset to both established and startup companies.
"For decades, automotive industry has leaned on highly standardized solutions. Now they are no longer applicable; the powertrain for example must be engineered for every EV model separately" comments Markus Hirvonen, Project Manager, Valmet Automotive.
At the Geneva Motor Show, Valmet Automotive presents its competences in EV engineering in a unique way. The demonstrator "Dawn" integrates both the component developer and integrator roles. Displaying the battery pack, drivetrain, control unit and charging options, it also shows what ultimately can be achieved in the world of electric mobility, by integrating solutions in an innovative fashion.
"Valmet Automotive has world class competences in EV components and their integration in a complete vehicle. Our experience in EV engineering, manufacturing engineering and series production are assets to our customers", says Ilpo Korhonen, President, Valmet Automotive.
This isn’t Valmet’s first electric vehicle concept; it made an electric city car called Eva in 2010. This also showcased the company’s talents, demonstrating a modular aluminium spaceframe structure developed in-house, a simple direct-drive motor, a future HMI (human machine interface) communications system and a powertrain capable of 120km/h and a range of 160km – in a 2+2 seater bodyshell rather more conventional-looking than the Dawn’s. Do we remember the Eva? No.
March 15, 2012
Valmet Automotive’s Dawn a major attraction at the Geneva Motor Show
Valmet Automotive’s Dawn, the demonstration study of electric vehicle components and integration, has become one of the most intriguing visitor attractions at the Geneva Motor Show in 2012.
Valmet Automotive, a leading service provider for the automotive industry, gave the Dawn its world premiere at this year’s Geneva Motor Show. The futuristic, non-compromising and clean-lined styling, hovercraft-like appearance and the EV components exposed on the body have instantly elevated the Dawn to one of the great public and media attractions of this year’s event.
The positive and excited reception of the Dawn by the media and in particular by the public includes also comments that point out the seemingly impractical solutions, including the almost zero road clearance and the protruding drivetrain unit. Aimo Åhlman, Vice President of Product Development, Valmet Automotive, explains:
“From the beginning, we have consistently communicated that this is not a car. Nor is this a concept for a car that could or would be manufactured at some later stage. Therefore we have never released any numbers or figures about the Dawn – simply because there aren’t any. The Dawn is a demonstrator that illustrates the EV components Valmet Automotive’s Engineering services are focusing on, and how we can integrate the components together. The Dawn is a full scale expression of what could be achieved by combining the current EV technology and a visionary design. And yes, it appears to be the most popular non-production vehicle we have ever had on our stand.”
The Dawn displays the essential EV components in a completely unique, never before seen fashion. The inductive charging (the blue plate at the front end) and fast-charge plug at the rear as well as the purposefully designed battery pack at the car center form a part of the aerodynamically sleek and honed body.
On the other hand, the control and drivetrain units are exposed on the body for display purposes. Even the roughest concept car would never show these components in a clear, easily understandable way.
“An eye-catching EV still makes for a WOW effect. At Valmet Automotive, we wonder why. EVs have been around for over a century. The technology enables engineering any kind of EVs, sports cars, family cars, SUVs, busses - you name it. We hope that the success and popularity of the Dawn will lead to a fresh, modern and popular concept of EVs - cars that are as versatile as their traditional combustion engined counterparts, but with a greener energy source”, says Åhlman.
Teija Åhlman, VP Communications, Valmet Automotive
Tel. +358 20 484 8060
Email: teija.ahlman @ valmet-automotive.com
Valmet Automotive is an experienced provider of automotive engineering, vehicle manufacturing, convertible roof systems and related business services. Our special areas of expertise are premium cars, convertibles and electric vehicles. We employ 1,700 professionals in Finland, Germany, Poland, Sweden, China and the USA.
China in the Driver’s Seat
· April 3rd, 2012
· By Chris Nelder
After a century of continuous growth in vehicles, America’s love affair with the car appears to be idling. The number of passenger cars and light trucks in operation has hovered around 240 million since 2007. U.S. vehicle miles traveled have also been gradually declining since 2007.
But China is just getting started with its car romance, and the rate at which they’re adopting vehicles is astonishing.
The sheer number of vehicles being added in Asia means a whole new level of competition for oil. It’s a competition that Asia will almost surely win, and will probably do more to drive the adoption of electric cars in the U.S. than any policy or tax credit.
A blistering pace
In 1999, there were just 15 million vehicles on the road in China, and only 6 million of those were cars. In the U.S., there were 216 million vehicles, of which 132 million were cars.
Source: "Low Carbon Transportation: Options and Observations," Innovation Center for Energy and Transportation (iCET), Bejing, June 2011. Chart source: Feng An, iCET, 2010.
But in the past five years, the growth rates have shot up. By 2010, China had the world’s second-largest fleet at 78 million vehicles, and sales had climbed to 18 million a year, about half again as much as U.S. sales.
This year, total domestic vehicle sales in China are expected to be about 20 million, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. And over the next five years, China is expected to add over 125 million vehicles—more than half the total number of cars and light trucks in the U.S.—to its fleet.
While the growth rate of China’s fleet has slowed somewhat from its blistering double-digit pace in 2009 and 2010, it is still estimated to grow by at least 8 percent this year. And with a total population nearly five times that of the U.S., it will continue to adopt far more vehicles long into the future.
At the end of 2011, there were 106 million automobiles (including three-wheeled motor vehicles) in China, according to its National Bureau of Statistics. And although estimates vary fairly widely, it’s possible that the Chinese auto fleet will be larger than the U.S. fleet by 2020.
Along with its new vehicles, China has been laying pavement at a furious rate. As of last year, China had 53,000 miles of expressway nearly all of it built over the last five years. The U.S. Interstate Highway system has 47,000 miles, which took more than three decades to construct.
The fuel efficiency race
After improving substantially from the late 1970s through the 1980s, our fuel economy began to flatten out in the 1990s as gas prices fell and the SUV craze swept over America. The average efficiency of U.S. cars barely budged from 21.2 mpg in 1991 to 23.8 in 2009.
Source: "Low Carbon Transportation: Options and Observations," Innovation Center for Energy and Transportation (iCET), Bejing, June 2011. Note: Instead of miles per gallon, China measures fuel economy inversely, as liters per 100 kilometers. The declining lines indicate improving fuel economy.
And thanks to improved engineering and reliability, our vehicles are older than ever before. The average age of automobiles and trucks in the U.S. has crept up in a straight line, from 5.6 years in 1970 to 11 years in 2011.
By contrast, the vast majority of China’s vehicles are much newer, and much more efficient. New cars, minivans and SUVs in China already get nearly 36 mpg, while the average fuel economy of new vehicles purchased in the U.S. is just 23.7. By 2016, when U.S. standards will require vehicles to get the same fuel economy that China’s do today, China’s will be required to get 42 mpg. Indeed, it would appear that U.S. vehicles may never catch up to China’s fuel economy.
These trends may not hold to their current trajectories, however. iCET notes that the average fuel efficiency of the Chinese fleet hasn’t improved much since 2006, and that as Chinese consumers become wealthier, they may opt for larger vehicles and end the trend toward better fuel economy. Even so, if we account for the efficiency of their two-wheeled fleet, with motorcycles getting 60 – 80 mpg, and scooters getting over 200 mpg. China’s overall fleet efficiency is vastly better than that of the U.S. Including motorcycles and other vehicles, China’s registered motor vehicles numbered 225 million in 2011, implying that they actually have more motor vehicles with two wheels than vehicles with three or four.
Largest and most inefficient fleet
In short, the U.S. wound up with the world’s largest and most inefficient fleet because we bought the most vehicles, and the most inefficient vehicles, and bought them earlier. While we were snapping up 14 mpg SUVs in the 1990s, Europe was buying little 30+ mpg 4-bangers, and China was hardly buying any. Now we’re dragging around this huge old fleet like a turtle shell, while China is just getting started, and they’re buying vehicles that are twice as efficient as ours at the outset. At current sales rates, it would take nearly 20 years to turn over the existing U.S. fleet, and its fuel economy is improving far too slowly to catch up with the rest of the world.
The implication is clear. Since the global supply of conventional oil stopped growing at the end of 2004, competition for oil has increased and forced prices up. With its far more efficient and rapidly-growing fleet, Asia will be able to outbid the U.S. for fuel. By the time we replace just half of our fleet, a larger number of far more efficient vehicles elsewhere will be competing for diminishing exports and driving prices beyond our pain threshold. A transition to electric vehicles and mass transportation in the U.S. is probably inevitable.
Top image: Shanghai, 2007. Courtesy Flickr user smokingpermitted
Subscribe to Txchnologist’s daily email
Chris Nelder is an energy expert who has spent a decade studying and writing about energy and related issues. He has written two books (Profit from the Peak and Investing in Renewable Energy) and hundreds of articles on energy and investing, is a frequent media guest, and he lectures and consults with business and government on the future of energy. He blogs at GetREALList.com
Battery supplier A123 Systems in danger of filing bankruptcy?
By Mark Kleis
Thursday, Mar 29th, 2012
Following the high-profile recall of $55 million worth of battery packs used in electric vehicles such as the Fisker Karma, battery producer A123 Systems is reportedly facing dire financial conditions.
In fact, based on comments and official recommendations from a Deutsche Bank analyst outlined in a Bloomberg report, A123 may have trouble raising the capital needed to deliver on its orders without “massive equity dilution.” The analyst, Dan Galves, described the cost of the recall as an event that “represents a severe impact” on the company’s cash reserves.
Galves also officially dropped his “buy” recommendation for A123, changing it to “hold.” The analyst explained his changes in detail, “Recent quality issues may lead to concerns over AONE’s ability to manufacture with quality at high volumes, potentially leading to customer defections or at least difficulty in procuring new contracts.”
Although a Fisker Karma was the unfortunate recipient of the faulty battery pack that turned out to be the precursor to the entire recall, the start-up automaker is far from being the only one which either currently uses, or plans to rely on A123 for batteries in their vehicles. General Motors, for examples, has inked a deal with A123 and has confirmed intentions to use A123-produced batteries for the Chevrolet Spark EV, as well as for the upcoming Cadillac Converj.
Not to be left out, Chrysler had previously signed a deal with A123 to use their batteries in the 500 EV, but apparently dodged a bullet two years before it was figuratively fired when the automaker decided at the last minute to end the deal.
Regardless of Chrysler’s involvement, the reliance of multiple automakers for batteries from A123 begs the question – will any or all of these automakers be forced to inject cash into A123, or will the automakers go elsewhere if the company goes belly up?
Just address an email to ETList@yahoogroups.com
Jump to a particular message