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President Obama recently announced the creation of the National Clean Fleets Partnership, a public-private initiative dedicated to helping large companies use greener vehicles. Five private sector leaders, AT&T, FedEx, PepsiCo, UPS, and Verizon, will team up with the Department of Energy to convert a significant portion of their service fleets to electric or alternative fuel-vehicles.

These charter members own five of the top ten largest fleets in the country, operating more than 250,000 vehicles between them. Making their service vehicles cleaner will have a massive impact on America’s fuel consumption and environmental footprint, as well as saving the companies money in the long run.

EcoCAR congratulates the Obama administration and the five charter members on this initiative, and we hope the technologies EcoCAR teams are developing today will be in some of the Clean Fleet vehicles of the future!

Take a look at this video to learn more about the National Clean Fleets Partnership:

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In a recent article, TreeHugger reported that Camp Pendleton, the U.S. Marine Corps’ training facility, will be receiving a new delivery in February…from Smith Electric! The USMC recently purchased two electric Newton trucks from the company and plans to use them to carry equipment and personnel on the base. Although the trucks may not be ready for combat just yet, they do carry up to eight tons of cargo and can go as far as 100 miles on a single charge. The trucks are fuel-emission free, making them an excellent start for the USMC’s goal to increase reliance on renewable electrical energy to 25 percent by 2025.

Photo: Smith Electric

While the purchase of the Newtons marks a milestone in the Marine Corps’ green initiative, it is not the first organization to use the Newton. In fact, the trucks have been used by a number of major companies carrying snack chips, soft drinks, and office supplies through the streets of New York City for a few months now. With all of the buzz around electric cars hitting the market in the near future, some people seem to be forgetting that electric vehicles are already traveling the streets today!

Delivery trucks have a set-route, often times less than 30 miles long and do not use the freeway, making them the perfect candidate to go electric. “The performance, infrastructure and availability issues that plague electric car and light-truck models don’t cross over to their commercial counterparts,” said Bryan Hansel, CEO of Smith Electric. It will be interesting to see if the USMC will purchase more Newtons in the future, but if it does, it may need to wait in line. Hansel says its trucks are back-ordered until the second quarter of next year.

This demand for the trucks doesn’t come as a big surprise, especially since the U.S. government is putting fuel-economy standards in place for commercial vehicles that go into effect in 2015.

What other industries or organizations do you think can benefit from electric vehicle technology? Let us know in the comments section below!

Over the past 30 days, we’ve seen some important news that’s relevant to the future of clean automobiles. We thought it was worth sharing two recent announcements with our readers:

Secretary Chu Announces Nearly $300 Million in Clean Cities Grants to Support Clean Fuels, Vehicles, and Infrastructure Development — Secretary Steven Chu announced the selection of 25 cost-share projects under the Clean Cities program that will be funded with nearly $300 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. According to the press release, these projects will speed the transformation of the nation’s vehicle fleet, putting more than 9,000 alternative fuel and energy efficient vehicles on the road, and establishing 542 refueling locations across the country. The Department of Energy also estimates they will help displace approximately 38 million gallons of petroleum per year. READ RELEASE HERE

President Obama Announces $2.4 Billion in Grants to Accelerate the Manufacturing and Deployment of the Next Generation of U.S. Batteries and Electric Vehicles — President Obama announced 48 new advanced battery and electric-drive projects that will receive $2.4 billion in funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. These projects, selected through a highly competitive process by the Department of Energy, will accelerate the development of U.S. manufacturing capacity for batteries and electric drive components as well as the deployment of electric drive vehicles, helping to establish American leadership in creating the next generation of advanced vehicles. READ RELEASE HERE

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ohiostate_logo1The Ohio State University is no stranger to national championships, but today’s EcoCAR Challenge victory was a first. Actually an international competition (including teams and sponsors from Canada), the EcoCAR Challenge didn’t showcase touchdown runs or fast breaks, but it did feature world-class talent. In fact, with all due respect to all OSU’s student athletes, the prowess this team demonstrated over the past year designing their Extended Range Electric Vehicle (EREV) may someday change the world.

Although the EcoCAR Challenge can only crown one winner for the first year, congratulations are also due to second-place winner University of Victoria and third-place winner Mississippi State University.
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The wrapped Saturn Vue

The wrapped Saturn Vue

June is usually the time when college students shift gears for the summer, but for some engineering students, June is the time to literally get everything in gear. The students involved in the EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge competition have spent this, their first year, designing a new and advanced architecture for a 2008 Saturn Vue to reduce petroleum use and increase fuel efficiency.

EcoCAR is a three-year competition that builds on the 20-year history of DOE advanced vehicle technology competitions by giving engineering students the chance to design and build advanced vehicles that demonstrate cutting-edge automotive technologies. This important partnership aims to inspire and support the next generation of scientists and engineers around the common goal of sustainable mobility. To prepare for the June 12 year-end EcoCAR Competition Finals, these students are preparing to dazzle GM and DOE officials with their designs – just as if they were designing the next car to roll off the production line.

As new automotive technology gets attention in the consumer market, it is also gaining political attention. President Obama recently announced $2.4 billion in funding as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to encourage the production of next-generation plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and advanced battery components for such vehicles. The Act also includes a $7,500 incentive for buyers of these vehicles. Many of the student teams are ahead of the electric curve, having already incorporated electric components into their vehicles.

Eight of the EcoCAR teams, including Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Mississippi State University, North Carolina State University, The Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, University of Wisconsin, University of Victoria and Virginia Tech chose to design extended-range electric vehicles (EREV), which, like GM’s Chevy Volt, demonstrate full performance with an electric powertrain that can extend the range of the vehicle with its onboard fuel storage. The EcoCAR Challenge teams that selected an EREV as their architecture will use either B20 biodiesel or E85 ethanol to extend the range of their electric vehicles.
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