Aggressive New CAFE Standards; The IC Empire Strikes Back

John Petersen Last Friday President Obama and executives from thirteen leading automakers gathered in Washington DC to announce an historic agreement to increase fleet-wide fuel economy standards for new cars and light trucks from 27.5 mpg for the 2011 model year to 54.5 mpg for the 2025 model year. While politicians frequently spin superlatives to describe mediocre results, I believe the President's claim that the accord "represents the single most important step we've ever taken as a nation to reduce our dependence on foreign oil" is a refreshing example of political understatement. After three decades of demagoguery, debate,...

Bears Are Sniffing At Clean Energy Fuels: Should You?

By Jeff Siegel Clean Energy Fuels (NASDAQ: CLNE) has been having a pretty good year. The stock reached a 2015 high of $10.48 on May 4. Up from $5.03 at the start of the year. But the natural gas fueling company co-founded by legendary oilman T. Boone Pickens took it on the chin today after missing analysts’ estimates for earnings and revenue in Q1. When CLNE first came on the scene, I was a fan. I even recommended the company shortly after it went public. And we did pretty well, eventually clocking out with a gain in...

ZAP Announces 100-Unit Block Purchase Order for SMART Car

ZAP (ZAPZ) announced today that, based on interest generated at the San Francisco International Auto Show last week, it has received a 100-unit block purchase order from a U.S. automotive dealer. ZAP will not announce the name of the dealer until the cars are ready to be sold to the general public, but is in discussion with a number of government and corporate fleets as well as automotive wholesale dealers for purchase orders of 100 or more cars, up to 15,000, by December 31, 2004 due to U.S. small manufacturers limitations.

Bernstein and Ricardo Report: Cheap Will Beat Cool in Vehicle Electrification

John Petersen On September 26, 2011, Bernstein Research and Ricardo plc published a 450 page analytical report titled, "Global Autos: Don't Believe the Hype – Analyzing the Costs & Potential of Fuel-Efficient Technology," which combines best in class securities research from Bernstein with the deep automotive expertise of Ricardo, a global leader in engineering, product innovation and strategic consulting. The result is the most comprehensive, detailed and eminently reasonable forecast of short-, medium- and long-term trends in advanced automotive powertrain technology that I've had the pleasure to read. It's devoid of axe grinding or cheer-leading and...

The Best Peak Oil Investments: GPS Navigation Stocks

Tom Konrad, CFA Satellite (GPS) navigation is a Smart Transport strategy that drivers can implement without waiting for governments to act.  This is a look at five GPS Navigation stocks.    I recently wrote how Smart Transport stocks may benefit from declining supply and increasing demand for oil.   I call the application of information technology (IT) to transportation "Smart Transportation."  Smart Transportation improves the function of the market for transportation services, just as the Smart Grid improves the market for electricity: by giving market participants better information and making the price of transportation better reflect...

A Blue-chip Clean Car Stock

One of the criticisms I often hear about cleantech is that, as an asset class, it is too risky and volatile for the average investor. That is a misconception Tom attempted to dispel a few months ago with his Blue-Chip Alternative Energy Portfolio. In fact, some of the most interesting work in cleantech and alternative energy is currently being conducted by large companies. A Clean Car Pick Last year, we told you about a report on investing in clean automotive. We have some interesting follow-up information on one of the companies discussed in that report. ...

Vehicle electrification – sticker shocks, delays and manufacturing capacity forecasts

John Petersen Today we have a bit of a hodge-podge as I consider sticker shocks, delays and manufacturing capacity forecasts in the vehicle electrification and energy storage sector. Since the sticker shock and delay discussions involve recent news, I'll touch on them first before getting into the fuzzier aspects of manufacturing capacity forecasts. I'd like to begin with a note of thanks to one of my Seeking Alpha followers, MRTTF, for sending me links to both news stories. For readers who don't delve into the comment streams, MRTTF is a PhD chemist who works in R&D...

ZAP Solves Battery Dilemma for Mobile Electronics

ZAP (ZAPZ) unveiled today ZAP® Portable Energy(TM), a new rechargeable lithium-ion battery and power storage technology for low-voltage electronics like cell phones, handheld computers and more. "The battery technology to power electric cars is here and ZAP Portable Energy is proof that the technology is maturing at a rapid rate," said ZAP CEO Steve Schneider. "This mobile power source is a breakthrough product that can serve the needs of more than 80 percent of the handheld electronics market. This and other battery advances in mobile electronics are creating the economies of scale necessary to commercialize advanced electric car...

Electric Cars, The Insanity Escalates

John Petersen On January 28th the DOE announced the closing of a $1.4 billion ATVM loan to Nissan North America, a unit of Nissan Motors (NSANY), for the purpose of retooling a factory in Smyrna, Tennessee to produce the Leaf, a zero emission electric car that will be released later this year. Nissan will use the loan proceeds to create "up to 1,300 American jobs" at a cost of about $1.3 million each and the 200,000 Leafs it hopes to produce and sell each year will "conserve up to 65.4 million gallons" of gas, a whopping 327 gallons...
BMW i3 uses batteries with silicon in the anode

The Race For Silicon Anodes

Graphite is the most widely used material for battery anodes.  The anode is the positively charged electron collector in a battery.  It collects and accelerates the electronics emitted by the battery’s cathode.  Graphite gets the anode job because it is has excellent electric conductivity and resists heat and corrosion.  Plus it is light weight, soft and malleable. As satisfied as manufacturers might be with graphite anodes, none would balk at an alternative material that boosts battery performance or reduces cost.  Scientists believe battery capacity can be increased as much as ten times by using silicon for anodes.  It requires six atoms of carbon to bind one...

EPA Says VW Running Massive Clean Air Scam

Jim Lane  VW is facing up to $18.07 billion in fines; recalls, mandatory vehicle emission fixes on the horizon; investigations underway at EPA and in California as “defeat devices” uncovered that evade clean air regulations. In Washington, EPA issued a notice of violation of the Clean Air Act to Volkswagen AG, Audi AG, and Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. alleging that four-cylinder Volkswagen and Audi diesel cars from model years 2009-2015 carry a “defeat device” which circumvents EPA emissions standards for certain air pollutants. Specifically, the EPA alleges that a sophisticated software algorithm on certain Volkswagen vehicles detects...

Energy Storage: Q3 2012 Winners and Losers

John Petersen I usually write a quarterly recap to summarize what happened in the energy storage and vehicle electrification sectors, but Q2 was a tough enough period that I don't see much sense in dwelling on the bloodletting. So instead of focusing on the past, I'll offer a quick summary table with lots of red ink and turn my attention to Q3, which is shaping up as a time of bright opportunity for some companies and profound risk for others. I expect three companies in my tracking group to perform very well in Q3 –...

Hyundai gearing up to launch hybrid cars

While Korea is on red-alert to rising oil prices, Hyundai Motor Co., the nation's largest carmaker, is stepping up efforts to develop fuel-efficient cars that run on a combination of gasoline and electricity. Company officials said the introduction of hybrid cars should come around 2007 or possibly earlier.

Plug-in Vehicle Hucksters are Doing P.T. Barnum Proud

David Hannum was right! There's a sucker born every minute and they're all waiting with bated breath for the low-cost plug-in electric vehicles that are coming soon to a dealership near you; if they're not quietly cancelled first. It's the most insidiously appealing idea of our age: replace those nasty gasoline burning engines with cheap batteries that recharge in minutes and save a fortune on fuel while you "See the USA in Your Chevrolet." It's so appealing in fact that it ranks right up there with free lunch. P.T. Barnum would have been proud. ...

Ten Alternative Energy Speculations for 2008: LEDs and Ultracaps

Investing in Renewable Energy Stocks seldom fails to be exciting, although it can lead to crushing losses as well as mouthwatering gains (Think Ethanol stocks and Thin Film Solar in 2007.)  With this in mind, I usually emphasize that the majority of most investors portfolios should be targeted towards larger, profitable companies, especially those focused on Energy Efficiency rather than the more sexy Renewable Energy technologies.  This is the philosophy behind Alternative Energy Stocks' Blue Chip Portfolio: companies which aren't sexy, but which still are well positioned to take advantage of rising oil prices and increasing efforts to reduce...

2005 Ford Hybrid Added to Oregon Tax Credit List

Oregon continues rewarding people who buy hybrid cars. The state Department of Energy has announced that the 2005 Ford Escape will qualify for tax credits. Tax credits already apply to the 2004 Toyota Prius, Honda Civic and Honda Insight, and state DOE officials expect that the 2005 models of those cars will also qualify. I wanted to point out one key paragraph from the article above. Demand for Hybrid automobiles is soaring. In 2003, 509 people took advantage of the tax credit, said Justin Klure, a policy analyst with the Department of Energy. So far this...