Clean Automotive Tidbits

Ford (NYSE:F) just announced that it was going to unveil a suite of new vehicles based on clean powertrain technologies at the upcoming LA Auto Show. Too little too late? The company, which failed to anticipate the impact of sustained high gas prices on demand for gas-guzzling SUVs, has been haemorrhaging market share over the past 2 years to rivals with greater foresight like Toyota (NYSE:TM). To many observers, the future doesn’t look particularly bright for this icon of the US auto industry. On a related note, the US Supreme Court will hear arguments today on a petition...

BYD Stalled Despite Japanese Carmakers’ Woes in China

Doug Young BYD's G3 at the Shenzen High -Tech Fair in 2009.  BYD needs more exciting new products to thrive despite Chinese buyers spurning Japanese auto brands. Photo credit: Brücke-Osteuropa. The prognosis isn't looking good for Japanese car brands in China, with Honda (Tokyo: 7267) becoming the latest predictor that the gloom plaguing Japan's big 3 automakers could last into next spring and perhaps even longer. That looks like bad news for not only Honda, Toyota (Tokyo: 7203) and Nissan (Tokyo: 7201), but also their Chinese...

NREL Researchers Prove the Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility in Electric Drive

John Petersen In the most under-reported cleantech story of the year, researchers from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have used an impressive array of computational and modeling tools to prove that the Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility, which holds that the first unit of consumption of a good or service yields more utility than the second and subsequent units, doesn't have a loophole for plug-in vehicles. The penultimate slide from an NREL presentation at Plug-in 2011 says it all – and proves beyond doubt that cars with plugs are less effective at saving fuel and reducing emissions than...

ZAP Invests in Advanced Battery Manufacturing Company in China

ZAP (ZAPZ) announced that it has taken an equity position in Zibo Enterprises Co. Ltd., a manufacturer of advanced battery technology in The People's Republic of China. Steve Schneider, Chief Executive Officer for ZAP, says that the announcement is the next step in the Company's business plans to establish a ZAP Energy Division. Schneider says the synergy between advanced automotive and energy technology has prompted ZAP to expand and departmentalize to focus on these respective markets.

High Conviction Paired Trade – Short Tesla Motors And Buy Exide Technologies, The Sequel

John Petersen Last November I broke with tradition for the first time in over 30 years and suggested a paired trade that bought Exide Technologies (XIDE) and shorted Tesla Motors (TSLA). Over the following three months, investors who made the trade and bought four Exide shares while shorting one Tesla share pocketed the following gains. 16-Nov-2010 16-Feb 2011 Net Entry Exit Gain Buy Four Exide -$29.76 $49.68 $19.92 Short One Tesla $30.80 ...

How Short-Term Supply Constraints Will Impact Booming HEV Markets

John Petersen For several weeks I've been writing about robust demand in Europe for a new class of HEVs that are usually referred to as "stop-start" or "micro hybrids." According to the EPA's website: "Stop/Start hybrids are not true hybrids since electricity from the battery is not used to propel the vehicle. However, the Stop/Start feature is an important, energy-saving building block used in hybrid vehicles. Stop/Start technology conserves energy by shutting off the gasoline engine when the vehicle is at rest, such as at a traffic light, and automatically re-starting it when the driver pushes...

A Plug for Plugs

CO2 reduction and fuel savings are not the only reasons to own a Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV.)  There is real value in the ability to plug in to the electric grid which is not captured by price projections. Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA There will be gas lines. Alternative energy saw its first flowering during the 1970's and 1980's, fueled by the OPEC oil embargo and late oil shocks which followed the peaking of domestic United States oil production.  Demand exceeded supply, and domestic price controls meant that the market could not balance supply and demand; instead gas was...

How Hybrid Cars Work

You can learn about Hybrid Cars at the excellent How Stuff Works website using the following link: How Hybrid Cars Work.

Two Exciting Alternative Energy Themes For Summer

By Harris Roen Summer is here, and the sun has been shining on alternative energy. Two investment themes in the changing alternative energy landscape have emerged as potential profit centers for investors. To take advantage of these trends, the Roen Financial Report has added in four new companies to the list of about 250 alternative energy companies that we track for our readers. Investment Theme #1: The growing domestic Japanese solar market In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan has committed to growing renewables as a domestic energy source. According to Mercom Capital Group,...

Solid Hydrogen Storage Powers a Practical Hydrogen Hybrid Vehicle

Energy Conversion Devices Inc (ENER) and ChevronTexaco Technology Ventures LLC, is demonstrating the use of its metal-hydride hydrogen storage system in a modified hydrogen-electric variant of today's best-selling hybrid sedan. The modified hydrogen hybrid will be available for test drives at the South Coast Air Quality Management District's "Hydrogen - Fueling the Clean Air Future" conference today and tomorrow, August 16 and 17, at the J.W. Marriott Desert Springs Resort in Palm Desert, Calif.

Honda Natural Gas Civic Sales Sputter

By Jeff Siegel I learned today that sales of Honda's natural gas Civic tanked 65% in 2014. I didn't even know they were still trying to sell those things! I actually remember a few years ago, attending a car show and talking to a Honda rep who was pushing this thing. I didn't have the heart to tell him he was barking up the wrong tree when he tried to sell me on all the benefits. What benefits? Inferior fuel economy, a clunky ride, and no infrastructure? Sure, there was the special fueling unit that could be installed in...
car insurers and community solar

Car Insurers Can Help Community Solar Find EV Customers

By Joe McCabe, P.E. The insurance industry has lots of exposure to climate change. But as Warren Buffet has explained, not so much for companies that do annual policy adjustments, like Berkshire Hathaway. Their exposure is limited because the trends are baked into the premiums. But there is an opportunity for reducing insurance risk due to climate change, and it comes from the insurance industry itself. The business model is to have car insurance salespeople provide leads to virtual electric car charging services. This has perfect demographics because electric vehicle owners are very receptive to solar electricity. Who wouldn't want...

Cellulosic Electricity: Stock Analysts v. Venture Capitalists

Romm v. Kholsa In a persuasive series of articles, entitled "Pragmatists vs. Environmentalists" (Parts I, II, and III) on Gristmill, Vinod Khosla provides the reasoning behind his "dissing" of plug-in hybrids, which drew the ire of Joeseph Romm.  Neither seems to think the argument is settled, and Joeseph Romm returns fire here. As someone who knows as much about investing as Joe Romm and has written as much about Climate Change and Energy Policy as Vinod Khosla, I feel the need to jump into the debate and settle the matter.  (Will either of them will notice?)...

Hyundai Charges Up Green Bond With EVs And Hybrids

by the Climate Bonds Team Hyundai Capital Services issues first Korean corporate green bond for hybrids and electric vehicles (5yrs, 2.87%, $500m) Hyundai Capital Services, the subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Company (005380.KS) that provides loans and leases for new Hyundai and Kia cars, issued a $500m green bond. The inaugural green deal has a 5-year tenor and fixed semi-annual coupon of 2.87%. Lead underwriters for the deal were Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citi, and Credit Agricole. The green issue is the first corporate Korean green bond and only the third out of Korea after KEXIM’s initial...

A123 Systems Files Price Range Amendment

John Petersen This morning A123 Systems filed another registration statement amendment for its planned IPO. The amendment specifies a preliminary price range of $8.00 to $9.50 and a preliminary offering size of 25 million shares (28.85 million shares with over-allotment option). Amendments like today's filing occur during the late stages of an IPO and it's not unusual to see the price range or offering size increase in later filings. Both of the preliminary values are about half of what I expected. The price range surprises me because of its rough parity with the $9.20 per share...

The Big Oil-Electric Vehicle Connection

Neal Dikeman For those of you interested in the sector under the sector in electric vehicles, the guts of Li Ion battery technology, the week just got more interesting than an overpriced, over hyped Tesla (TSLA) IPO. Check out a very quiet unnanouncement in A123's SEC filings noting a multi-year supply deal with ConocoPhillips' Cpreme, the emerging leader in anode materials for Li On batteries.  The technology is a processing technology to make high performance graphite based powders out of plain old petroleum coke materials, that has the potential to be very low cost at scale.  A123 has...