This past weekend, LAcarGUY‘s team were on-hand at the unveiling of the official H2.0 Fountain at Polliwog Park on Earth Day. LAcarGUY is proud to be among a number of community partners who have contributed to support Leadership Manhattan Beach’s initiative to provide seven state-of-the-art water drinking fountains to the community, where three of which include a fountain especially for canine companions.
LAcarGUY‘s Manager of the Environment, Alisha Auringer, and CIO, Tim James, had the opportunity to fill up their water bottles using the bottle-refilling dispensers! LAcarGUY was also presented with a sponsorship plaque from the wonderful team at Leadership Manhattan Beach.
Check out a few pics from the day! If you attended the event, tell us what you think of the new drinking fountains!
LAcarGUY, the leading hybrid dealer group in the world, was a proud sponsor for the second annual Grades of Green Trash Free Lunch Challenge at local schools.
There were 17 local schools that participated in the challenge and the top three were all sponsored by LAcarGUY stores! First Place went to Lunada Bay Elementary School, sponsored by Pacific Porsche. They won by reducing trash going to landfills by 87.5%. The school was honored with a celebration on Earth Day, on April 22, and will received a $1,000 education grant.
Before the Trash Free Lunch Challenge the Lunada Bay School were producing 13 bags of trash and 0 bins for recycling. After the Challenge they reduced this to 5 bags of trash and increased their recycling to 2 full bins per day.
The students at Lunada Bay also designed a water drip irrigation system consisting of plastic water and juice containers as an irrigation system for the schools fruit and vegetable garden where they are growing kale, lettuce and strawberries.
President/Owner of LAcarGUY Mike Sullivan responds to the great news, “This is one of my favorite projects of the year to be a part of. We are so proud of these kids for taking complete control of their environment and then going home and teaching their parents….what a great cycle. I’m really happy that Alisha could be a part of the judging panel and take those learnings back to LAcarGUY; really teaches our employees the benefits of sustainability in our everyday lives. Couldn’t be more proud.”
A judging panel of five environmental experts visited Lunada Bay and two other finalists in the competition—Riviera Elementary in Torrance, and Washington Elementary in Redondo Beach—earlier today to determine the Grand Prize winner. The panel included Alisha Auringer, Manager of the Environment, LAcarGUY; Marieta Francis, Executive Director, Algalita Marine Research Foundation; Abby Landers, El Segundo High School Grades of Green club president and Youth Board Advisor for Grades of Green; Michelle Nakamura, Operations Manager, 5 Gyres Institute; and RupamSoni, Senior Environmental Engineer, Sanitation Districts of L.A. County.
Even though this year’s Trash-Free Lunch Challenge is nearly complete, any school may initiate Grades of Green’s Trash Free Lunch program, as well as more than 40 other environmental activities. Complete instructions are available at no cost to schools at www.gradesofgreen.org.
The second annual SBC Industry Achievement Awards will be held next week on April 17th and Lexus Santa Monica is proud to host the event in our showroom. The evening will feature award presentations as well as talks from lifetime achievement recipients, Cisco Home and Bentley Prince Street.
Attendees will have the opportunity to network with industry professionals. Catering will be provided by top restauranteurs featuring organic and local fare while cocktails by Real de Mexico Tequila will also be featured. There will also be a raffle with great prizes to be won.
The goal of this award’s event is to recognize the contributions to the local economy by sustainable businesses and individuals. The awards provide a platform to salute these Southern Californian sustainable professionals and their companies. The event coincides with Earth Day and will be broadcast to 15 million US television households via satellite and a rich video-on-demand online channel on the debuting Tomorrow’s Planet TV network.
Award recipients will receive the SBC Giving Tree which is a living Bonsai tree trophy and this year, for the Second Annual SBC Industry Achievement Awards, the following awards will be presented:
- SBC’s B Corp. Award
- SBC’s Sustainable Small Business Award
- SBC’s Sustainable Business Award
- SBC’s Best Public Advocate for Sustainability Award
- SBC’s Lifetime Achievement in Sustainability Award (individual)
- SBC’s Lifetime Business Achievement Award (business)
- SBC’s People’s Choice Award: Category: Sustainable Restaurant
To purchase tickets, organize a table or book tribute ads, check out the links provided and for more event details visit the SBC website. For further information, contact Molly Lavik, executive director, Sustainable Business Council at 310.488.4401 or email@example.com.
by Zach McDonald | hybridcars.com
We’ve known for some time that Subaru’s first hybrid offering was headed to market for 2014—the only question was which existing model it would be built around. The carmaker did an admirable job keeping that secret until last week, when it unveiled the XV Crosstrek Hybrid at the 2013 New York International Auto Show.
The car is a more efficient, more powerful version of Subaru’s popular XV Crosstrek, which debuted last year and is a crossover based upon the Impreza sedan platform. The non-hybrid XV already boasts impressive efficiency on its own—25 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway—and while Subaru has yet to announce official numbers for the hybrid, it’s said to net a mild improvement of about 10 percent in overall fuel economy.
So why bother with building a mild hybrid version of the XV Crosstrek? The answer lies in the crossover’s blend of improved performance and fuel economy. Rather than thinking about the Crosstrek Hybrid as a strictly green upgrade over the standard XV, think of it as replacing a 2.5-liter performance version of the car. The Crosstrek Hybrid’s 13.4-horsepower electric motor improves acceleration and torque without necessitating a larger engine, and even provides sufficient power to drive the car on its own at speeds up to 25 mph.
The car fares significantly better in the city than its non-hybrid brethren, making it far more suited for use as an every day grocery hauler in addition to a weekend getaway finder. Oh, and it just so happens that the XV Hybrid will be the most fuel-efficient all-wheel-drive crossover on the market when it comes out later this year, besting the Lexus 450h by about 2 mpg in overall fuel economy.
Pricing for the 2014 XV Crosstrek Hybrid hasn’t yet been announced, but Subaru plans to begin making deliveries of the car in the fourth quarter of 2013.
by Zach McDonald | HybridCars.com
One of the best business moves Toyota has ever made was its decision to invest in the potential of nickel metal hydride batteries as a secondary power source for vehicles. Today, Toyota says it’s looking to the next generation of battery technologies to surmount the challenges facing modern electric vehicles.
According to Automotive News, Toyota is several years into the development of solid state and lithium air batteries, which have long been seen as potential replacements for today’s comparatively heavy and expensive lithium ion cells. Solid state batteries, which Toyota hopes to deploy in vehicles by 2020, offer an equivalent storage three to four times greater than lithium ion. Lithium air batteries are a few more years away, but have a storage density five times greater than today’s EV packs.
Toyota has been public about its skepticism concerning the potential for lithium ion-powered EVs. And though the company has invested in ventures ranging from its agreements with Sanyo to its partnership with Tesla in developing the new RAV4 EV, the presence of lithium ion batteries in Toyota’s vehicle lineup is relatively sparse. The only fully-electric vehicle the carmaker offers in the United States is the RAV4, which is a limited-production vehicle available only in California.
Future technologies could resolve many of the qualms Toyota might have had with diving head first into lithium ion. “Next-generation battery cells need to exceed the energy density in lithium ion batteries significantly,” Toyota managing officer for material engineering, Shigeki Suzuki, told Auto News. “We’ve been accelerating our development of those next-generation batteries technologies since 2010.”
One of the concerns facing EVs is potential supply limitations for materials currently vital to their production. Lithium and rare earth metals (which are used as magnets in most motors,) are just two of a number of resources that some worry could threaten the future of the plug-ins in the same way that limited oil supplies threaten ICEs. Toyota’s research into next-generation batteries and motors has been mindful of these threats, with the carmaker aiming to ditch rare earth intensive motors from its vehicles by 2020.
Toyota is by no means the only carmaker researching lithium air or solid state batteries, but its timeframe for releasing vehicles that utilize the technologies certainly seems to be more ambitious.
Subaru is expected to unveil its first production hybrid at the New York International Auto Show later this month—though it’s still unknown what that vehicle will be. In the meantime, the carmaker took the opportunity at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show to display a hybrid that’s at least a few more years away from making it to dealerships.
The Subaru Viziv concept is a crossover with a unique, low-slung silhouette that falls within the Subaru design vision while a the same time looking nothing like anything the carmaker has ever put on the road. But beneath the vehicle’s futuristic styling and car show concept bells and whistles—witness its upward-opening two-door, four-seat setup—lie technologies that Subaru is likely developing for implementation down the road.
The Viziv is powered by a diesel hybrid powertrain, a mix that has yet to make its way to the United States despite loud calls from diesel fans looking to boost their fuel economy to gasoline hybrid levels. In theory, the pairing makes a lot of sense: clean diesel vehicles tend to be more efficient than their gas-powered counterparts, and with the boost in city fuel economy offered by a hybrid regenerative braking system, diesel hybrids would be poised to be among the most efficient vehicles on the road that don’t plug in.
For the Viziv, Subaru is switching out its familiar all-wheel drive system for a “through the road” hybrid configuration that places a 2.0-liter diesel engine under the hood, which is aided by two electric motors hooked up to the rear wheels. When additional performance is needed, both the engine and motors can run in tandem. When it’s not, the motors can supplant the engine for better fuel economy.
Another feature attached to the Viziv at Geneva was Subaru’s new EyeSight system, which places two cameras behind the front windshield to identify other cars in motion around the vehicle and send signals that allow the car to automatically adjust to changing conditions. Cruise control is made easier by the EyeSight system, thanks to the car’s ability to slow down and keep a preset distance from other vehicles. EyeSight debuted as an option in the Legacy and Outback this year, though Subaru is said to be planning a lineup-wide expansion soon.
by Zach McDonald | HybridCars.com
A study from PA Consulting Group has ranked the Volkswagen Group ahead of four of the world’s other largest automakers in a rating of overall sustainability. The global auto giant, whose brands include Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, Bentley and several others, beat out Daimler, BMW, Peugeot Citroen, and Toyota, earning an overall score of 81 points out of a possible 100—eleven points ahead of the next highest finisher. The difference between the second and fourth best scores was just two points.
PA Consulting set out to measure the carmakers in three separate categories: Sustainability Strategy, which assessed on the basis of overall targets and clarity of reporting goals to the public; Product Portfolio, which measured the effectiveness of each manufacturer at developing and implementing green technologies; and Transparency and Operational Performance.
“The study shows that all companies have a robust sustainability strategy in place,” said Tobias Reich, automotive expert at PA Consulting. “Although Toyota is widely perceived as the most sustainable, Volkswagen comes out on top based on our study. Clear objectives need to be set and performance constantly monitored against set goals to improve the green performance and environmental impact.” The study said Toyota was in part hurt by the fact that it had already come so far in green mobility that its research and development spending for such technologies had tapered off compared to its competitors.
Despite being slow to plug-in electric vehicle market, VW may soon catch up with forthcoming fully electric and plug-in hybrid versions of its popular Golf, as well as the much talked about 261-mpg XL1. Volkswagen has been particularly strong in the wide range of technological configurations it has been developing, including hybrid, clean diesel, electric, natural gas and plug-in hybrids.
Recently, VW Group’s Audi brand unveiled its A3 Sportback G-Tron with bi-fuel power. The car will run on both gasoline and natural gas, giving it a combined range of more than 800 miles. Audi’s green strategy for the vehicle goes beyond the car itself though, as Audi will begin manufacturing a synthetic methane using a special process to recycle captured carbon and turn it into fuel for the G-Tron. When operating on this fuel—which Audi calls “e-gas”—the A3 produces emissions in the range of some electric vehicles.
by Zach McDonald | HybridCars.com
If you are the proud owner of an electric, plug-in hybrid or compressed natural gas vehicle in the California, you are currently eligible for a sticker entitling you single-occupancy use of the state’s High Occupancy Vehicle lanes. Unfortunately for future buyers, those stickers and the program that created them are scheduled to expire on January 1, 2015. That’s just 22 months left of passenger-free carpool lane fun.
So far, 31,000 stickers have been administered. Green stickers indicate plug-in hybrid or range-extended cars and are limited to 40,000 total. White stickers—which are awarded to electric-only and compressed natural gas vehicles—will be administered to all eligible vehicles throughout the life of the program. As 2015 draws closer, this benefit will become less and less valuable to potential buyers, limiting its usefulness to early plug-in vehicle adoption.
Thankfully for plug-in drivers, California assemblyman Bob Bloomenfield has introduced AB 266, which proposes extending the life of the stickers by a whole ten years, to January 1, 2025. If the measure is adopted, the current rules and limitations on gas-electric plug-ins will remain in place, but all stickers would remain valid through 2025. Pure-electrics and CNGs would be eligible all the way up until the termination date.
For those who doubt the value of the HOV incentives to motivating buyers, look back at the hybrid HOV incentives (which expired in 2011,) in spurring hybrid vehicle demand in the Golden State. As hybrid sales built and the number of stickers allotted under the program was reached, used hybrids with carpool lane access began to sell for as much as $4,000 more than those without. According to one insurance company estimate, a used hybrid with one of the 85,000 yellow HOV stickers administered was worth $1,200 more than a comparable vehicle.
According to GreenCarReports.com, committee meetings on the bill could begin as soon as early March. Stay tuned.
by Zach McDonald | HybridCars.com
After a 2012 rife with bad news, 2013 could offer a new beginning for Fisker. Recent news reports indicate that the company is currently the object of a bidding contest between two Chinese car giants capable of investing the money necessary to bring its second car, the Fisker Atlantic to market.
In the meantime, CEO Henrik Fisker is focused on the carmaker’s first product, the Fisker Karma, which has been out of production for more than seven months after deals with its assembler Valmet Automotive and battery supplier A123 systems went sour. In the case of A123, Fisker was unfortunate enough to have its supplier go bankrupt even as orders for the car remain unfilled.
A123 Systems was recently acquired by another Chinese company, Wanxiang Group, which is currently in talks with Fisker to resume supply of the Karma’s battery pack. The carmaker recently said that production will resume on the Karma “fairly soon.”
Perhaps in anticipation of that event, Mr. Fisker has been out promoting the Karma of late, making appearances at auto shows and sitting down with Autoblog Green for an extended interview. In it, Fisker confirms that his company has sold “close to 2,000 cars” to date, a number that he admits is a disappointment under the company’s old business plan but healthy under its current outlook.
“I have to say honestly, I felt like the first six months of , every time you saw one problem, there was another one coming. Then came the Presidential debates. It just didn’t stop,” Fisker told Autoblog. Fisker said his company has adjusted its model to reflect a slower timetable for its next vehicle, and is now focused on building its brand through the Karma
For Fisker, part of that effort involves personally connecting with. “If you own a Mercedes, you can’t go have dinner with Mr. Benz, because he isn’t around any more,” Fisker said. “But you can have dinner with Henrik, maybe, at some special events we’re doing. Even with our current customers, because we see them as brand ambassadors, I have had dinner or breakfast with at least 500 of them.”
Moving forward, Fisker said he likes his company’s chances. “I think we have a big advantage that our vehicles are already ready for some of the things that are happening in the future, whether that’s higher taxes in Europe on CO2 emissions, whether it’s 2025 fuel economy standards–we are the only luxury car with a gasoline engine that fulfills these standards.”
It remains to be seen when Fisker’s real “make or break” car, the Atlantic, will finally be released—or where it will be produced. Still, Fisker has been on its new path for more than a year and a half now, and as the company patiently waits for the investment it needs to move forward with the Atlantic it has had the time to restructure and adjust its goals. Once Karma production finally does restart, the central goal will be to expand its sales markets and grow the list of 2,000-some “ambassadors” Fisker has so far attracted.
by Zach McDonald | HybridCars.com
Last month, the Obama administration backed off its previously stated goal of having 1 million plug-in vehicles on American roads by 2015. Undaunted by the administration’s failure to live up to its milestone, California governor Jerry Brown announced last year that the Golden State would aim for 1 million zero-emissions vehicles (ZEVs) on its roads by 2020 and 1.5 million by 2025.
Last week, the state announced details about how it will work to achieve those ambitious goals. California’s Interagency Working Group on Zero-Emission Vehicles—which is composed of a dozen different state entities including the governor’s office, the California Air Resources Board and the California Energy Commission—was put in charge of drafting the plan. The ZEV Action Plan (available here) outlines four target areas of improvement for facilitating ZEV adoption:
- Complete needed infrastructure and planning
- Expand consumer awareness and demand
- Transform fleets
- Grow jobs and investment in the private sector
Within each area the plan outlines proposals and delegates responsibility to different state agencies for evaluating and implementing those proposals. Some of the highlights:
- Enable universal ZEV refueling access for California drivers through state funding for electric vehicle charging stations and improved coordination with municipalities.
- Consider a plan to require developers of new multi-unit buildings to dedicate a portion of parking spots to plug-in vehicle charging.
- Extend state plug-in vehicle incentives and advocate for federal incentives including a plan to change the $7,500 EV tax credit to a point-of-sale rebate.
- Consider waiving or reducing state sales tax on ZEVs.
- Promote non-monetary incentives for ZEVs, including single-occupancy carpool access and preferred parking spaces at state-owned buildings and parking lots.
- Ensure that by 2015, 10 percent of state fleet vehicle purchases are ZEVs, expanding to 25 percent by 2020.
Between its ZEV Mandate (which forces carmakers to sell a certain portion of zero-emission vehicles in the state for each conventional internal combustion vehicle,) and the new ZEV Action Plan to facilitate the success of those vehicles, California has again chosen to be proactive in promoting the latest clean vehicle technologies. In the coming years, the state will likely continue to remain the national leader in both plug-in vehicle sales and available infrastructure.