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.
Puget Sound Energy has added 40 new Ford Transit utility vans equipped with a hybrid electric drive system from XL.
PSE selected XL’s fleet electrification technology for its 40 Ford Transit utility vans, an upgrade that is expected to reduce each van’s carbon footprint by up to 20% and increase fuel economy by as much as 25%. The utility worked with XL to upfit each van with an electric motor and advanced lithium-ion battery pack, as well as the XL Link connected vehicle system.
“We know our customers value the environment, so we were excited for the opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint through our fleet vehicles,” said Wayne Gould, director of corporate shared services at Puget Sound Energy. “This is another step for PSE to invest in the development of cleaner alternatives and technologies.”
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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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California fleets brace for $4/gallon spikes this summer
Spring is upon us, and with rising temperatures also come rising gas prices across the country. AAA is reporting that gas prices are expected to rise to their highest levels since 2015, beginning when the refineries change over supply from their winter to more expensive summer blends. AAA’s prediction is for gas prices to rise nationally to an average of $2.70 a gallon, with some states, such as California, seeing spikes as high as $4.00 a gallon. These examples reflect a price increase on average of about $0.40 a gallon higher than what was seen last spring. Just last week alone, gasoline prices rose an average of $.05 per gallon across the country* in what is likely to become a trend in the months ahead. After knowing all the facts, here are some suggestions, including some from AAA, to keep your fuel costs down and increase sustainability for your fleet.
*Update: As of 4/2, prices had risen by $.11 per gallon.
Continue reading “Fleet managers take notice: AAA is forecasting the highest gas prices since 2015”
Last week’s NTEA show was a huge success, and it was certainly a major showing for XL. Some of our highlights included an announcement of our company’s record sales in 2017, a corporate rebranding from XL Hybrids to XL, and the debut of our XLH hybrid electric Ford F-250 solution, which was on display in our booth.
Here’s a list of the top 5 questions we were asked by the hundreds of customers, prospects and partners we met at the show – both in our booth, and the neighboring Ford booth, where we were also on display. Please email us at email@example.com if you have additional questions that aren’t addressed in this blog. Let’s dig in!
Continue reading “The Top 5 Questions Heard at NTEA”
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.
Continue reading “XL and General Motors Streamlining Vehicle Electrification for Fleets”
At their best, incentive programs for vehicle technologies seed an early, innovative market, getting potential users comfortable with new technology. This has been the goal of CARB’s Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project voucher project (HVIP) in California.
HVIP was created to accelerate the adoption of commercial hybrid vehicle technologies in California, and reduce fleet fuel use and emissions. The program has had successes, but also areas for potential improvement. Now in 2018, with some recent changes to HVIP that XL Hybrids has supported, the program is a great way for fleet operators in California to take advantage of hybrid (HEV) and plug-in (PHEV, EV) technology.
Continue reading “Making California’s HVIP program work better for fleet operators”
Imagine the scene: Automotive executives at an industry conference test-driving electrified and hybrid vehicles from various independent companies, including Ford models upfitted with XL Hybrids technology. The test track is filled with commercial trucks of all shapes and sizes demonstrating different technologies. A van driving on the track starts to slow down. Instead of the usual sound and motion of normal breaking, the van sounds like someone is pounding from inside the cargo hold, trying to escape. Heads turn to see the commotion.
This scene proves an important point for any company developing and deploying electrified technology for commercial vehicles: When fleet industry folks buy a commercial vehicle, they want it to drive and sound like an OEM-quality vehicle: Same drivability, same reliability. And when it comes to electrified vehicles, fleet driver experience often means more to the fleet manager than the financial and sustainability savings.
Continue reading “The XL Hybrids PHEV Pickup Truck: It’s a Ford Truck”
The XL Hybrids team aims to make our vehicle electrification technology available to as many fleets as possible. To that end, California fleets now have more product options from XL.
We just received approval for plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) Ford F-150 pickup trucks in the Golden State – an industry first.
In fact, XL has the most approvals to sell into California – in the form of executive orders, or EOs, issued by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) for aftermarket vehicle electrification in the fleet industry. In addition to PHEV F-150s, we also offer hybrid-electric (HEV) systems for certain model year Ford Transit vans, GM vans and cutaways, and Ford E-Series cutaways. Making our products available to the California market, which is a bellwether for electrified vehicle technology, is a focus of XL Hybrids.
Continue reading “XL Hybrids Gets Latest CARB Approval, Continues Push into California with First-Ever PHEV Ford F-150s”