It’s been 103 years since the Anderson Electric Car Company based in Detroit made the 1907 Detroit Electric car. Watch GM assemble its new Chevy Volt in a mere 90 seconds in this time lapse video.
When you’re submitting a bid to replace the KC-X aerial refueling tanker at $29.55 billion for 179 airplanes, every second counts. Literally and figuratively. Unfortunately when your bid is 5 minutes late and is disqualified, it works out to $5.91 billion per minute. That’s what allegedly happened to Los Angeles-based US Aerospace and its Ukrainian partner Antonov.
Bids were due at 2 p.m. EST at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio on July 9. According to US Aerospace, the company’s messenger arrived at the Air Force base at 1:30 pm and was denied entry, given bad directions, and told to wait by Air Force personnel. The Air Force stamped the proposal received at 2:05 pm. US Aerospace was notified July 22 that the company’s bid was late and would not be considered as part of the source selection.
The US Aerospace/Antonov team has filed a formal protest with the Government Accountability Office. According to the GAO, “…bidders or others interested in government procurements may have reason to believe that a contract has been, or is about to be, awarded improperly or illegally, or that they have been unfairly denied a contract or an opportunity to compete for a contract.” The bid protest process does not address programmatic issues such as whether the KC-X tanker program is needed or whether US Aerospace’s proposal is better, but rather, were the procurement rules followed. The US Aerospace team filed a protest (File # 403464.1) on August 2, 2010 and a decision is due October 6, 2010.
According to Aviation Week, at issue is when the US Air Force took control of the proposal documents submitted by US Aerospace. Was it when the messenger stepped on the base? The GAO will sort through the sequence of events.
Skilled in business development, proposal experts stress the importance of following the prospect’s submittal rules, however crazy those rules may be to everyone else. Getting disqualified because the submittal failed to meet the basic administrative requirements is every proposal specialist’s worst (and avoidable) nightmare. If they ask for a ‘soft-sided’ binder, then you should make sure you go out and find a soft-sided binder for your proposal. If they want the proposal delivered to Hawaii on a Monday before noon, then you need to make alternative arrangements because no delivery service will guarantee it before 5pm.
In government procurement, some rules are not meant to be broken. Good luck, however, to the US Aerospace/Antonov bid. Increased competition will only make the troubled KC-X tanker procurement process better in the long run.
Roughly one year ago, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, along with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, announced a nine-step policy plan for transforming the Bay Area into the “Electric Vehicle Capital of the U.S.” Where do we stand with the officially named Bay Area EV Corridor program? Here’s a summary of activities to date.
In early January 2009, San Jose was the first of the three cities to actively support electric vehicles. Electric vehicle charging station startup Coulomb Technologies installed three charging stations in the downtown San Jose area.
Not to be outdone, San Francisco followed in February by installing three charging stations (also from Coulomb) in front of City Hall in an area dubbed the Green Vehicle Showcase. The stations are now used by plug-in electric vehicles already in San Francisco’s municipal fleet, along with plug-in electric hybrids owned by car-sharing organizations City CarShare and Zipcar.
Colulomb has gone on to install charging stations across the region (searchable map) including Healdsburg, Santa Rosa, Elk Grove, West Sacramento, Walnut Creek, and Cambell (Colulomb’s headquarters). The charging stations are either stand-alone installations or attached to light posts. EV owners subscribe to Colubomb’s charging service and access the station via a smart card.
The other charging station company with plans for the region is called Better Place. At the mayoral media event last November, the company announced a $1 billion charging and battery-swapping network in the Bay Area. The company has since announced partnerships with Renault and Nissan. Given Better Place’s infrastructure-heavy approach, it may be some time before we see a station up and running here in the Bay Area.
At the state level, the California Energy Commission is focused on develop policy, clearing regulatory hurdles, and providing seed funding. The State’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program is helping a broad range of alternative transportation technologies. In April 2009, the state adopted its first investment plan with recommendations for expending $176 million over two years. The Commission is currently updating the plan for the 2010-1011 fiscal year with anticipated funding of $100 million per year.
While the Bay Area EV Corridor program is being helped by the state alternative vehicle program, it received significant planning support from efforts tied to a Regional Clean Cities ARRA grant, which proposed 109 charging stations across the region. Although the grant was not received, it laid the ground work for better coordination across the region. Now more than 100 cities, 9 counties, and 3 regional agencies are all working together to develop the EV program. A workshop summarizing activities to date was held in October.
Finally, the region’s elected representatives are also helping out in Washington. As part of the recently passed 2010 Energy and Water Appropriations bill, $1 million is allocated to the San Francisco Electric Vehicle Initiative, which will be used towards planning and building the required EV infrastructure.
Looking back over the last 12 months, I’d say much has been accomplished. What do you think?
With a projected net loss of $7 billion for fiscal year 2009, the Postal Service needs to find ways to cut costs. While the Postmaster General’s request to cut Saturday delivery will save $3.5 billion, it’s not nearly enough. Electrification of delivery vehicles is one area that holds promise as it could deliver savings of $219 million per year.
The U.S. Postal Service’s current fleet includes approximately 146,000 delivery vehicles. These right-hand drive delivery vehicles average about 10 miles to the gallon and range in age from 8 to 22 years.
According to an August 2009 report (pdf) from the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, “broad use of electric vehicles in the Postal Service delivery fleet would be operationally feasible.” The report highlighted several elements contributing to the finding:
- Short delivery routes that average approximately 18 miles a day;
- Regimented operating hours and centralized base locations allowing for off-peak charging;
- Stop-and-go driving characteristics, which creates excellent opportunities for regenerative breaking to recapture energy; and
- High existing fuel expenses.
The report acknowledges that the Postal Service is in the midst of an economic crisis and does not have capital funds to spend on vehicle electrification. Without extensive funding from outside sources, the report concludes that it is not currently economically feasible for the Postal Service to do a broad fleet purchase.
The report did examine the use of vehicle-to-grid revenue (V2G) in addition to outside funding to help offset costs. With V2G, stored battery electricity or capacity can be sold back to grid operators when not needed. The following is a summary of the Inspector General’s financial analysis for several possible scenarios:
- Postal Service Purchases and Maintains Vehicles, Without Government Funds or Grid Revenue: Payback>10 years; Individual Rate of Return (IRR) = -1%
- Postal Service Purchases and Maintains Vehicles, Without Government Funds But Generates Grid Revenue Payback = 5.6 years; IRR = 15.4%
- Postal Service Purchases and Maintains Vehicles with Available DoE Program Grants: Payback = 5.5 years; IRR = 19.9%
- Postal Service Purchases and Maintains Vehicles with Grid Revenue, and DoE Program Grant: Payback < 2 years; IRR = $63.2
For outside funding, the analysis looked to the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 as the most likely source. Within the stimulus bill, there are three potential sources of funding:
- Funding for alternative transportation technologies and fleets;
- Loan guarantees for investment in battery technology and demonstration; and
- Grants for development of technology associated with the smart grid.
Several recipients of last week’s smart grid stimulus funding announcement incorporated elements to support vehicle charging including Duke ($200 million), SMUD ($127 million), NV Energy ($138 million), and Madison Gas and Electric Company ($5.5 million), among others. Other V2G funding sources will be made available soon.
Hopefully the Postal Service can take advantage of the funding to help determine whether fleet electrification makes better sense than raising the price of postage (once again).
Hybrid truck manufacturers and suppliers wrapped up a 3-day conference in Atlanta on Thursday. The Hybrid Truck Users Forum (HTUF) showed off the latest medium- and heavy-duty hybrid-electric, hybrid-hydraulic, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles for commercial and military use. Governor Sonny Perdue even declared this past week Hybrid Truck Week in the state of Georgia.
Converting trucks to more efficient, less polluting technologies is a laudable goal.
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, heavy-duty trucks serve as the backbone of today’s freight transportation system. They also consume more than 3 billion gallons of diesel fuel in California alone. According to EPA estimates, every gallon of diesel fuel releases roughly 22 lbs of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, not to mention NOx, SOx, and PM. According to a recent IBM study (see below), trucks are responsible for 7 percent of all US global warming emissions.
The conference opened with a modern day cattle drive on the streets of Atlanta with over 30 hybrid trucks participating (photo slideshow). During the conference, sessions focused on technology advancements and incentive programs. Participants even tracked the event on Twitter.
On the last day of the conference, participants were able to drive a variety of models in the parking lot of Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves. Southern Company provided a utility bucket truck for the ride and drive event.
Utility use of hybrids is rather interesting as they can be used for both fleet vehicles and larger service trucks. The larger service trucks often need to idle their engines to run heavy lifts and other equipment. The hybrid-hydraulic lifts can operate using battery power.
According to a profile on the Clean Fleet Report, Pacific Gas and Electric Company has the largest compressed natural gas fleet in the US. PG&E’s clean fuel fleet consists of service and crew trucks, meter reader vehicles and pool cars that run either entirely on compressed natural gas or have bi-fuel capabilities.
If we’re going to reduce greenhouse gas (and other) emissions from the transportation sector, hybrid trucks seem to be a smart approach.
One final note: IBM released a study on the future of the hybrid truck industry at the conference along with a summary video.