The 2017 Atlantic Ocean hurricane season racked up a record $306 billion in damages and aid, making it the costliest hurricane season ever, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This reality is the latest piece of evidence that extreme weather is wreaking havoc around the world, with increasing frequency and severity.
Here’s a question for leaders of corporations and municipalities: What was the impact of extreme weather on your bottom line last year? And how are you mitigating this threat to your company’s operations and finances in the future?
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A funny thing happened when the Trump Administration pulled the United States out of the Paris Accord last year: the nation’s commitment to sustainability actually increased in many ways. Call it a “boomerang effect” if you will, but consider some of the efforts that have taken place since the U.S. opted out of the landmark agreement on June 1, 2017.
- An organization called “We Are Still In” was formed among business and legislative leaders in all 50 states to demonstrate the U.S.’s ongoing commitment to the Paris Accord principles. As the organization describes itself on its website: “This unprecedented network of networks represents more than 127 million Americans and $6.2 trillion of the U.S. economy. Spanning all 50 states — red and blue — we are demonstrating America’s enduring commitment to tackling climate change, ensuring a clean energy future, and upholding the Paris Agreement.”
- A group of Governors joined forces to create the United States Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of 17 state governors committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
- Major automakers and state partners throughout the Northeast U.S. launched an initiative called “Drive Change. Drive Electric.” The coalition is dedicated to increasing awareness and adoption of electric, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell electric vehicles.
- Global sales of all-electric cars and plug-in hybrids hit a major milestone in 2017, surpassing 1 million units, according to Navigant Research. Navigant also expects annual sales growth of 38 percent through 2020.
- XL, the leader in electrified truck solutions for commercial and municipal fleets, announced a record year of sales in 2017, surpassing 60 million customer miles driven. As of today, Earth Day 2018, XL’s systems have successfully saved over 1.2 million gallons of gas, eliminated almost 11,000 tons of CO2 emissions and added almost 10,000 hours of driver productivity to our fleet customers’ bottom lines.
The efforts seem to be working. Ironically, while global carbon emissions levels worldwide actually increased in 2017, the U.S. posted the largest year-over-year decline in carbon emissions of any advanced economy. While these trends are due to a wide range of factors, a renewed interest in and commitment to sustainable energy practices seems to be playing at least a contributing role in the positive momentum being generated here in the U.S.
Even as the Federal Government is introducing legislation that rolls back automotive fuel economy standards, the consumer and commercial market for electrified higher efficiency, lower emission vehicles continues to drive demand – particularly given the significant cost savings these vehicles have demonstrated.
The bottom line on this “boomerang effect” is this: regardless of whether the administration in power is red or blue, it will have little bearing on the ability to go green when it makes good business sense.
Incentive programs for new vehicle technologies are often put in place to support faster adoption by commercial fleets. These incentive programs can both help justify deployments of earlier stage technologies, and enhance return-on-investment calculations.
While a broad range of incentive options have been rolled out over the years, the specific type that is proving to be very versatile and effective, especially among fleets, is voucher programs.
Voucher programs, which have launched in certain cities and states over the past several years aimed at commercial fleets, essentially offer point-of-sale rebates on the purchase (or sometimes, the lease) of a range of eligible alternative technology vehicles. The fleet customer gets an immediate discount off the regular price of new vehicle technology, while the vehicle or technology provider (not the fleet) performs the back-end diligence to get reimbursed by the voucher program administrator.
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Two of the most popular terms in urban planning today are smart cities and clean energy. These concepts naturally go hand-in-hand.
As cities get smarter, they use energy more efficiently and in a more controllable fashion, and they are better able to incorporate intermittent clean energy sources. Cities, and the power grids that support them, can use traditional power generation and stationary energy storage to support intermittent resources like wind and solar, but the lowest-cost solution for over a decade has been to control power loads with demand response. A large and emerging new power load is electrified vehicles, and they will play a critical role in the future of smart cities and clean energy.
To put things in perspective, the battery systems in the U.S. Toyota Prius fleet alone represent about 40 gigawatts of power. That’s about the same as the entire electric grid in New York state. While those vehicles don’t connect with the grid, there is a growing wave of plug-in vehicles with much larger batteries coming, and they will be a dominant and flexible force on the grid. If integrated properly, however, they can support the growth of smart cities and clean energy in profound ways.
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Every month it seems like automotive manufacturers around the globe are committing to offering more and more electrified vehicles. New announcements are coming fast and furious. General Motors is among the leaders on this front, recently announcing plans for 20 new all-electric models by 2023. In a move that goes one step beyond many of its peers, GM is also positioning itself as a leader in electrified commercial vehicles too, thanks in part to a new strategic partnership with XL.
GM recognizes that in today’s commercial fleet market, there’s a growing demand for hybrid electrics, plug-in hybrids and other electrified vehicles. This trend is being driven by large companies’ and municipalities’ strong desire for fuel efficiency improvements, cost savings and corporate sustainability goals within their fleets. GM and XL recently announced a collaboration to make it easier for companies to scale fleet electrification through two tactical steps.
First, GM has added XL Hybrid upfits as an option in its commercial dealer ordering system for Chevrolet and GMC dealers. Fleet customers are now just a few clicks away from adding XL upfits to their Chevy Express and GMC Savana full-sized vans and cutaways powered by GM’s 6.0-liter engine, as well as GM’s new 4.3-liter engine later this year. Second, GM has created dedicated ship-thru codes for XL Hybrid upfits to make installation and vehicle logistics seamless. Ship-thru installation locations for XL systems include both Knapheide Manufacturing and Adrian Steel just down the street from GM’s factory in Wentzville, MO.
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You’ve done your research into XL Hybrids. You’re excited about the fuel savings and sustainability benefits of deploying XL technology. And you’ve ordered your new vehicles with XL3 Hybrid Electric Systems. Now it’s time to decide how you’re going to visually demonstrate your commitment to sustainability.
We recommend you go BIG and go BOLD! Let’s turn your vehicles into mobile billboards that announce your corporate sustainability leadership.
Adding hybrid decals, and/or graphical wraps to your fleet vehicles, can deliver big benefits. Green branding shows your customers and community you’re making a meaningful difference in the environment. Vehicle signage strengthens awareness of your company’s brand, business strategy, and products and services.
In fact, the Outdoor Advertising Association of America says that decals and vehicle wraps can create as many as 30,000 to 70,000 impressions a day depending on the location of the vehicle. Whether moving along the highway, parked in front of your business, or picking passengers up, your green-branded vehicles will get noticed.
Continue reading “Let Them See You’re Driving Green”