Travel News

High Speed Chargers Bring EV’s One Step Closer to Mainstream

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - In the year 1906, Ray Stannard Baker wrote the following passage about automobiles in the book The Boy’s Book of Inventions: Stories of the Wonders of Modern Science.

“The electric vehicle which has had its most successful development in this country has its well-defined advantages and disadvantages. It is simpler in construction and more easily managed than any other vehicle: one manufacturer calls it ‘fool proof.’ It is wholly without odor or vibrations and practically noiseless. It will make any permissible rate of speed and climb any ordinary hill. On the other hand, it is immensely heavy, owing to the use of storage batteries; it can run only a limited distance without recharging…”

He goes on to say, “Indeed, all the manufacturers of electric vehicles speak with the confidence of the day when the whole of the United States will be as thoroughly sprinkled with electric charging stations as it is today with bicycle road-houses.”

A hundred years ago we were at a crossroads similar to the one we find ourselves at today, with electric vehicles vying against gasoline-powered cars. Back then, the choice was made, influenced by a good deal of lobbying and maneuvering by the oil industry. The fact that gasoline powered cars were also cheaper and didn’t have the range issues of electrics also helped to tip the scales.

So, the question is, how much have things changed? Electric cars are still more expensive and still confront the range limitation challenge that seems to be inherent in trying to store adequate energy in electrical rather than chemical form.

What has changed is the realization that widespread usage of fossil fuels has put our planet and everything living on it at risk of a destabilized climate that threatens every aspect of our life-support system.

With so much of our day to day life built around a gas powered car that can be quickly and (of late) inexpensively filled up at any of the thousands of gas stations that cover the landscape, the challenge of switching over to a completely different energy is huge.

Yes, EV prices are coming down (see Chevy Bolt) and charging stations are popping up everywhere. According to DOE, there are currently 8,983 charging stations and 22,387 charging outlets in the US. Whether that’s as many as there were bicycle roadhouses back 1906 is not clear, but unless people are convinced that it’s enough to assuage their “range anxiety,” they will hesitate to buy an EV. Roughly 120,000 electric vehicles were sold in the US last year, bringing the total up to around 280,000.

There are a couple of other dimensions to this question. One is that, unlike gasoline, people do have access to electricity at home, which is where much of the vehicle charging, at least for local trips will take place. That’s why there needn’t necessarily be as many charging stations as there are gas stations. The other dimension is the fact that not all charging stations are created equal.  What varies is the amount of time required for a charge, though what is true in all cases is the fact that it will take longer to charge your car with electrons than it did to fill it with gasoline.

Most people will come to recognize that it will be worth the wait in order to maintain a livable climate, but that doesn’t mean it will be an easy adjustment.

Is there another way to do this? In a word, yes. Some areas, like Denmark, for example, are experimenting with the idea of a charged battery as a service. This is how that works. Instead of owning the battery as part of your car, the battery is a shared resource. When your charge is getting low, you pull into a station, where they lift out your battery and replace it with a fully charged one. This doesn’t take any longer than filling up a gas tanks, but it’s a different ownership model that is more in line with the sharing economy. Not all EVs are configured for this but several Nissan models are designed to work with a robotic battery switching station designed by Shai Agassi of Better Place. That same approach, by the way, was used by New York taxi companies in the early 20th century when electric cabs made a brief appearance. The other option would be to go to hydrogen fuel cell, which is being vigorously pursued by Toyota.

TripAdvisor’s GreenLeaders Program Helps Travelers Choose Sustainable Hotels

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Hotels can reduce their environmental footprint as well as gain economic benefits when they pursue sustainable initiatives. In addition to enjoying a greater competitive advantage, guest loyalty, enhanced brand value and recognition, hotels stand to achieve direct financial savings when their costs of energy, water and waste disposal come down due to sustainability strategies.

Death of EVs Greatly Exaggerated

(3Bl Media/Justmeans) - Mark Twain once quipped, “reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”

The same might be said of the pronouncement of Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jones, who said “EV’s are dead, long live TESLA.”

Stock analysts are not particularly well-known for their patience, and if Google went back far enough, you could probably find a similar sentiment being expressed by great-granddaddy Jones back in 1908 about the first Fords rolling off the assembly line. The impetus for the comment was an announcement that Toyota was ending its parts contract with Tesla.

Okay, admittedly, EV’s have not become highly profitable overnight, the way that Wall Street likes them. Yes, market penetration is still tiny, and some companies like Fiat, are losing money on every 500e they sell. But think of the size of the battleship that is turning around. In the US alone there are more than 120,000 gas stations. How many EV chargers are out there? Roughly 8,000. How long does the average American hold onto his car? Almost six years. How long has there been a viable, affordable EV on the market? Nissan LEAF sales began in December 2010.

EVs are superior to internal combustion vehicles in almost every way except that:

  1. They are more expensive
  2. Charging infrastructure is still being built
  3. Range is still an issue for many people
  4. They are not yet considered mainstream

All of this is changing rapidly. As Tesla has already demonstrated, and Jones himself acknowledges, they are being enthusiastically grabbed up by those that can afford them. Jones just happens to call them “compelling performance vehicles that just happen to be EVs.”

The fact that they just happen to be EVs, is not just a coincidence, but rather an outcome of something called low-end torque that electric motors can smoothly deliver in a way that even the best engines can only dream about. In a nutshell, it’s the power available before a vehicle has come up to speed.

UNWTO Promotes Sustainable Tourism to Conserve Migratory Bird Flyways

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has launched an innovative project that aims to develop sustainable tourism at destinations along the world’s major migratory bird routes. The organization will bring the project into spotlight on the World Migratory Bird Day 2014 – celebrated in more than 70 countries on 10-11 May.

Leaks Make Natural Gas Vehicles Less Climate-Friendly Than Diesel

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - A couple of weeks back, we wrote about how natural gas was being used to replace diesel to fuel many large trucks. California-based Clean Energy Fuels Corp. opened several natural gas filling stations in locations stretching from coast to coast. We wrote, “Natural gas has become an attractive option for high-horsepower trucks, because it is less expensive (by up to $1.50/gal), cleaner (23% less GHG emissions), and offers better price stability when compared with conventional diesel. It's also better for the health of drivers and the communities in which they operate. Given the high level of natural gas availability in the US at this time, it also offers the opportunity to reduce dependence on imported oil.“

A recent study, just released, reveals some information that could potentially pour cold water on this approach. The study, which was jointly conducted by scientists at Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), found that there is currently 50% more methane already in the atmosphere than had previously been thought. The researchers have determined that this gas must come from leaks throughout the natural gas supply chain.

After conducting a detailed analysis, weighing both the benefits and costs, the team determined that from a greenhouse gas perspective, the added methane resulting from these leaks, more than offsets the reduction in carbon dioxide resulting from the switch from diesel to natural gas. In other words, according to the study’s lead author, Adam R. Brandt, Assistant Professor of Energy Resources at Stanford, “Switching from diesel to natural gas, that’s not a good policy from a climate perspective.”

The leaks, however, were not severe enough to tip the balance when it came to replacing coal-fired power plants with natural gas. That's because of the enormous amounts of CO2 that comes from coal. Even factoring in the methane leaks, gas-powered plants have half the impact of coal plants.

Companies Earn Gold Medals for Sustainable Travel Programs

The GBTA Foundation, the education and research foundation of the Global Business Travel Association, has awarded "Gold Medals" to five companies for spearheading sustainability in the travel industry.

Enhancing Stakeholder Practice, Ten Years Later: Professor Ed Freeman on Community, Technology and Globalization

AN EXCLUSIVE JUSTMEANS INTERVIEW

In the world of organizational management, stakeholder theory addresses the ethics behind running a business.

Aloha, LOHAS: Say Hello to the Tourism Sector’s New Premium Stakeholder

Tourist industry firms can attract the LOHAS segment if CSR policies address sustainability and eco-consciousness.

Are Solar Sails the Future of Sea Travel?

Eco Marine Power, a Japanese green energy company  is in the midst of developing the Aquarius Solar and Wind Marine Power System for ships and sea vessels.

This game-changing technology utilizes solar-powered sails which combine the use of wind, solar, and traditional fuels to keep the vessels moving.

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