The Next Zipcar

By Jeff Siegel Well, I was partly right.. Last year I wrote the following about the car sharing company Zipcar (NASDAQ: ZIP): “... because Hertz and Enterprise are foaming at the mouth to tap the car sharing market, I wouldn't be surprised if one or both eventually made a bid for ZIP in a couple of years. Either way, I don't think Zipcar is under any serious threat in the near-term, and I may be looking to pick some up on dips.” When I got to the office on Wednesday morning, I read the following headline:...

A123 Systems vs. BYD and Other Irrational Battery Investments

John Petersen Mother always taught me that if you can't say something nice, it's usually better to say nothing. While regular readers might question my ability to follow Mom's advice, this is an article I had really hoped somebody else would write. The quick summary is that while the shares of A123 Systems (AONE) may be a reasonable investment at current prices, the shares of BYD Co. Ltd. (BYDDF.PK) are an irrational value proposition, the shares of Ener1 (HEV) are even worse, and the shares of Valence Technologies (VLNC) are beyond understanding. Since many readers find detailed tables...

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?)...

The Best Peak Oil Investments: PTRP – Powershares Global Progressive Transport Portfolio

Tom Konrad CFA Many investors find the prospect of selecting individual stocks simply too daunting.  For those investors interested in investing in peak oil, but uncomfortable with the risks and moral dilemmas inherent in oil company stocks, there is another option: Powershares Global Progressive Transportation Portfolio (PTRP).  I've been researching and writing this series about investments that will benefit from peak oil for half a year.  If you've read the 20+ articles in the series so far, you've learned about several stocks that should be well positioned to benefit from rising oil prices, and you should...

Maxwell Stakes its Claim in a $2.7 Billion Niche Market

John Petersen Last Wednesday Maxwell Technologies (MXWL) announced the launch of a new ultracapacitor product that insures reliable engine starting for commercial trucks and other heavy vehicles. According to the Energy Information Administration, the existing US fleet includes 4.2 million heavy-duty diesel trucks. All of these vehicles are subject to strict anti-idling laws and regulations that strain their battery systems and increase the risk that the engine won't be able to start when it needs to. While a dead battery is a pain for the average consumer, it can cause a world of problems for a commercial truck...

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.

Who Killed the Electric Bus?

In the last Technology Quarterly, The Economist had a story about the electric busses in 1907 London.  As they tell it, the electric bus had a real chance to beat out the internal combustion engine, and the company only failed because of fraud.  The electric technology was in many ways superior to the internal combustion engines which eventually won out. In fact, many people at the time still considered the horse to be the far superior technology.  These days, the battle is still between the same three fuels: Electric, Petroleum, and biomass (grass and oats for the...

The Best Peak Oil Investments, Part X: Improving Vehicle Efficiency

Tom Konrad CFA The easiest way to reduce fossil fuels is to increase vehicle efficiency.  Government mandates already in place will ensure that such improvements occur.  Some stocks may benefit from the trend, but choose carefully. Dr. Daniel Sperling knows about as much as anyone about what policymakers can do to reduce the use of oil.  He is the Director of the Institute of Transport studies as the University of California Davis, and a long time member of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), so he understands transportation from both the academic and policy perspectives.  He also...

A Few Dividend Paying Alt Energy Stocks

As I've discussed previously, things haven't been easy of late for alt energy stocks, especially those of the pure-play kind. A few days ago, I was asked which, if any, alt energy stocks I could recommend in this environment. My answer was: none. While people continue to go on television claiming that alt energy's problem has to do with falling oil prices, in my view the real risk at the moment has do with financing - financing for the companies producing the technologies and financing for their customers. The two business models are simultaneously under attack: for...

Honda Projects Rise in Hybrid Car Sales

Honda Motor Co (HMC) expects the introduction of its new gas-electric version of the Accord to boost its U.S. sales of hybrid vehicles to more than 45,000 next year. Honda officials said Thursday they expect to sell 20,000 hybrid versions of the Accord sedan, in addition to the Honda Insight and Civic hybrid compacts.

Quantum Awarded Fuel System Production Contract for General Motors’ 2006 Natural Gas Sierra and...

Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide Inc (QTWW) will provide the engineering effort to accommodate the model year changes for the fuel system. Quantum will also produce the alternative fuel systems and provide the specialty vehicle assembly of the fuel systems into the new trucks. In addition to integrating roughly 250 components into the vehicle, Quantum was also responsible for the powertrain and systems engineering to ensure that the system is optimized for performance, durability, safety and emission compliance over the life of the vehicle. Quantum's engineering effort extends to the vehicles being validated through a wide range of operating...

How Are We Doing On Our Stimulus Plan Stocks So Far?

A few weeks ago, I wrote a series of two articles on the yet-to-be-unveiled Obama stimulus package for the economy, arguing that things pointed in the direction of massive infrastructure spending with a green twist. I argued that this would benefit a certain categories of rail-related stocks and electric grid stocks. How am I doing relative to the market as a whole, which has had several positive trading days for the past while on the back of the eventual stimulus plan?    Railway Stocks I discussed four railway stocks in an article published on October 18....

A PHEV-EV Demand Curve, REEV-isited

Why is Detroit Obsessed with PHEVs?

The Best Peak Oil Investments, Part VI: Barriers to Substitution

Tom Konrad CFA There are two types of solution to the liquid fuels scarcity caused by stagnating (and eventually falling) oil supplies combined with growing demand in emerging economies.  The most obvious is to find a substitute to replace oil.  These substitute have barriers to their use as a replacment petroleum based fuel.  Understanding those barriers also leads us to the investment opportunities that arise from these substitutes.  As I wrote the first five parts of this series, looking into potential substitutes for gasoline and diesel, it was clear that many potential substitutes would need...

Stop-start Idle Elimination Crossed The Chasm While Everyone Was Distracted

John Petersen John Lennon once quipped, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." A classic example of the phenomenon is the quiet emergence of stop-start idle elimination as standard equipment on new vehicles while politicians, pundits, the media and mechanical monkeys beat the drum and played the kazoo for the amazing EV sideshow. Stop-start is more than a vague promise of hope and change. It's a reality that's sweeping through the auto industry today and will conserve more gasoline in 2013 than all of the worlds HEVs and plug-in vehicles combined....

Zoltek: High in Fiber, Low in Valuation

by Debra Fiakas CFA   The Stohr DSR has an all carbon fiber body (Photo credit: Rhots/Wikimedia Commons)   Zoltek Companies (ZOLT:  Nasdaq) is in the business of fibers, mostly carbon fibers.  Plain, simple fibers may not seem very impressive.  However, Zoltek’s carbon fibers are in wide demand for renewable energy applications such as wind turbines blades and deep sea oil and gas wells.  After two years swimming in red ink, Zoltek has managed to bring sales back up to 2008 levels.  The company earned $22.9 million in...
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