Cracker Barrel to Install Electric Vehicle Chargers

By dancurranjr On December 4th, 2010

Cracker Barrel is charging back to its roots.

Next spring, the Lebanon-based store and restaurant chain will begin installing 24 electric vehicle chargers along the interstate corridor linking Knoxville, Chattanooga and Nashville.

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store is working with ECOtality, the project manager for The EV Project, to install Blink electric vehicle chargers at select locations in “The Tennessee Triangle,” the 425-mile stretch of I-40, I-75 and I-24.

“It seems like a very modern thing, but actually it takes us back to our roots,” Cracker Barrel spokeswoman Julie Davis said Tuesday, when the pilot project was announced.

The Hamilton Crossing Cracker Barrel at Louisville Road and the U.S. 129 Bypass in Alcoa is not on the initial list of 12 locations to receive the chargers, but Davis said that does not mean it has been ruled out as a future site.

Providing power to vehicles traces to the company’s origins in 1969. Danny Evins, the company’s founder who grew up in rural Tennessee, was in Atlanta visiting the zoo when he came up with the idea of a store/restaurant to serve interstate travelers, Davis said.

Since Evins was an “oil jobber,” it was only natural that his concept include gasoline pumps. The company removed the pumps in the early ’70s during the oil embargo.

Michael Woodhouse, Cracker Barrel chairman and CEO, said the business has always tried to anticipate what customers need when they “stop in for some good country cookin’ and to experience genuine Southern hospitality.”

While ownership of electric cars is currently small compared to gasoline vehicles, Woodhouse said there is great curiosity about them.

“We like to think that our guests will be pleased to see Cracker Barrel taking an active role in exploring energy alternatives that are aimed at protecting the environment, as well as strengthening our economy,” he said.

Twelve of the 24 Cracker Barrel locations that will have chargers installed have been identified. All will be positioned along the interstate corridor — Athens, Cleveland, Cookeville, Crossville, East Ridge, Farragut, Harriman, Kimball, Lebanon, Manchester, Murfreesboro and Nashville.

The announced locations for the charging stations were based on the results of ECOtality’s EV Micro-Climate process. The procedure takes into consideration a number of factors including geographic location, distance to major interstates and transportation routes, distance to other EV Project charging facilities and population density.

Guests at the selected Cracker Barrels will be able to get an 80 percent charge — the recommended charge — in just under a half-hour at the 12 Cracker Barrel locations which will have the DC Fast Charging stations. These guests will essentially be able to “fill ’er up” in about the same amount of time it takes to order and eat a meal.

Guests visiting the 12 locations that will have the Blink EV L2 chargers, which are slower than the DC Fast Charging stations, will be able to top off their battery “tanks,” so to speak.

ECOtality will oversee the installation of 15,000 commercial and residential charging stations in 16 cities and major metropolitan areas in six states and the District of Columbia.

SOURCE: The Daily Times

Diesel Hybrids Deliver Big Savings to UPS

By dancurranjr On January 2nd, 2010

Score one for diesel hybrids.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory got its hands on six hybrid vans that United Parcel Service is using, and after testing them nine ways from Sunday found diesel-electric technology improved fuel economy more than 28 percent. What’s more, it cost significantly less per mile to operate while delivering the same reliability and performance as conventional diesel vans.

The federal eggheads spent a year analyzing fuel economy, maintenance and vehicle performance data for six first-generation hybrid UPS vans developed by Eaton Corp. It’s no surprise a delivery service would be eager to give diesel-electric tech a try — UPS must spend money by the truckload on fuel — and the NREL joined UPS in putting the trucks through their paces in Phoenix.

So why’d they team up for the research?

Because the Eaton parallel hybrid system was developed in part under a $7.5 million, 33-month contract from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Heavy-Hybrid Propulsion System program. The feds like the technology because it increases fuel economy and reduces emissions, and they wanted to see what we got for the money.

“Having provided funding for the development of the Eaton hybrid system, DOE was eager to participate in testing the system in a commercial fleet,” Lee Slezak, manager of the advanced heavy-hybrid program, said in a statement. “Our goal is to help develop more efficient vehicle technologies and then document their on-road performance.”

The feds compared six diesel-hybrid vans to six diesel vans. According to the lab’s report, the hybrids delivered 28.9 percent better fuel economy, averaging 13.1 mpg to the diesels’ 10.2 mpg. Maintenance costs were about the same, but the diesels showed slightly better reliability — a factor the researchers chalk up to “troubleshooting and recalibration issues” associated with prototype components.

The hybrids were driven 15 percent fewer miles per day, which the feds attribute to the fact the diesel-electrics were assigned to urban routes where they made more stops per mile and spent more time at low speeds or idling. Overall, the hybrids delivered a 15 percent improvement in total cost per mile.

UPS is, as you’d expect, quite pleased with the results.

“NREL’s report on the performance of our hybrid delivery vehicles is helping make this type of energy-efficient vehicle a standard in the industry,” said Robert Hall, the company’s director of maintenance and engineering. He’s hoping the findings speed up market acceptance of the technology.

Eaton supplied the hybrid propulsion systems for the vans, which were manufactured by Freightliner. The system uses an Eaton automated transmission with an integrated motor-generator and lithium-ion batteries. The electric bits are mated to a four-cylinder Mercedes-Benz diesel engine — the same one used in the conventional vans.

UPS must like what it sees, because the delivery company just ordered another 200 Eaton hybrid vans.

SOURCE: Wired

SFO Airport Hybrid Car Renters Get $15 Discount

By dancurranjr On June 6th, 2009

green_rentalSan Francisco International Airport is launching the nation’s first Green Rental Car program that rewards customers for renting “green” alternative-fueled vehicles. Customers who rent hybrid cars at SFO, such as the Honda Civic Hybrid, Nissan Altima Hybrid or Toyota PRIUS will receive a $15 discount at the counter.

It is estimated that more than 4,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year will be eliminated through the implementation of this program.Currently, 10 percent of the rental car fleet at SFO is comprised of high-mileage cars—such as the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Ford Focus—in addition to alternative-fuel cars.

“The Green Rental Car program is the first of several green initiatives the airport is rolling out in 2009,” said John L. Martin, Director of SFO. “We are committed to making SFO the sustainable Airport of Choice for California travelers.”

Participating rental car agencies:

  • Alamo
  • Avis
  • Budget
  • Dollar
  • Enterprise
  • Fox
  • Hertz
  • National
  • Thrifty

SOURCE: SF Examiner

Chrysler Seeks $224 Million in Federal Funds for EV/Hybrid Development

By dancurranjr On June 5th, 2009

chrysler-aspenChrysler is seeking up to $224 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to support rapid development of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. The automaker plans to provide a demonstration fleet of PHEVs based on the Dodge Ram 1500 pickup and the Chrysler Town & Country minivan.

Last month, Chrysler said it would supply the U.S. Postal Service with a fleet of 165 Town & Country EV cargo minivans.

Its latest effort involves two DOE programs, called the Transportation Electrification Initiative and the Electric Drive Vehicle Battery and Component Manufacturing Initiative, which are designed to speed up the development and manufacturing of PHEVs and EVs. If approved, the DOE would provide up to $224 million, with Chrysler matching the federal funds.

Chrysler said it would construct an $83 million “electrification technology and manufacturing center” in Michigan as part of the initiative. The center would be operational by 2010 and would be designed to build more than 20,000 EVs each year.

Chrysler also would build a demonstration fleet that would include 100 Dodge Ram PHEV pickups, 100 Town & Country PHEVs and the previously mentioned Town & Country EVs.

Through April, sales of the full-size Ram pickup were down 31 percent from a year ago, while sales of the Town & Country were down 37 percent.

SOURCE: Edmunds

London’s Iconic Red Double-Decker Bus Goes Hybrid

By dancurranjr On May 22nd, 2009

london-busAround 20 hybrid-electric drive buses have entered service on routes around London and are recording unprecedented levels of carbon efficiency.

The state-of-the-art red double-deckers have achieved the best results for fuel consumption and CO2 emissions ever recorded from bus fleets – an unprecedented 10mpg.

Revolve Technologies, an Essex-based leading engine development and engineering services provider, helped support Northern Ireland-based Wrightbus on the major hybrid drive performance and optimisation programme, which includes the Gemini 2 HEV double decker.
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At the heart of the Wrightbus hybrid system is a standard 2.4 litre Diesel engine – as used in the Ford Transit. With the base engine operating as a generator, Revolve engineers have been able to predict load and speed changes in advance, thus allowing greater freedom with injection strategies and EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) rates.

Drawing on their knowledge of the engine EMS system, engineers have also been able to utilise some of the existing vehicle based strategies to carry out functions which otherwise would have required significant software changes. This, coupled with a unique CAN interface module, has allowed the full integration of the engine and its controller into the overall hybrid control system – and at a relatively low cost.

Paul Turner, Revolve’s Technical Director of Product Development, said, “Having the engine control as a fully integrated part of the hybrid system is a major advantage – and, coupled with a unique calibration, we have been able to achieve exceptional improvements in fuel consumption. The Wrightbus programme involves optimising Series Hybrid Drive systems through a detailed analysis of generator load patterns.

“As a result of this analysis, we have been able to recalibrate the engine to operate at its peak performance throughout the drive cycle, by using smart charging and load control technology. Overall engine performance is significantly improved when compared with normal applications.”

Revolve Technologies’ Executive Chairman, Andrew Williams says, “The Wrightbus hybrid programme gives further insight into the depth, scope and capability which we offer this important and growing area of the market.

“It is also an excellent working in practice example of the formal technical partnership between Revolve Technologies and Ford Component Sales (FCS) and highlights Revolve’s rapidly expanding hybrid and alternative fuels activity.”

The company is currently involved with projects from small capacity, lightweight units through to heavy commercial, marine and industrial applications.”

SOURCE:  Green Wire