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Fleet Briefing: Toyota, Siemens, Coda, ABB, VW’s Car of the Future

Here’s the latest alternative fuel and energy-efficient vehicle news affecting environmental and energy executives.

Siemens has announced plans for the eHighway of the Future—the electrification of trucks and select highway lanes via overhead electrified wires, similar to those used for modern-day trolleys or streetcars. German roadways are already testing a pilot, and Siemens is planning further projects to connect the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to cargo centers. Siemens says it has developed the supporting technology necessary to make the eHighway a reality: infrastructure, software, hardware and drives.

Select California Toyota dealerships will sell the RAV4 EV later this summer for $49,800. The all-electric SUV has an expected driving range rating of about 100 miles and charging time of about six hours on a 240V/40A charger, according to Toyota.

Although damaged parts from China slowed Coda Automotive’s EV production, Coda’s Los Angeles dealership is scheduled to receive its first 10 sedans for sale by midweek, reports Automotive News. Depending on driving habits, the five-seater gets up to 125 miles per charge, according to the automaker. It has a base price of $37,250.

The Port of Seattle has awarded AeroVironment a contract valued at up to $8.8 million through 2014 to supply its PosiCharge Electric Ground Support Equipment fast charge systems to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Every large hub and many smaller airports in the US now operate at least one AeroVironment PosiCharge eGSE fast charge system, the company reports.

A number of companies rolled out new charging products this week. ABB entered the US EV charger market with its Terra 51. The DC charger, launched in Europe in 2010, will be available for US delivery in the second half of 2012. ABB says it reduces electric vehicle charging times from eight hours, using regular alternating current, to as little as 15 to 30 minutes. Schneider Electric says its EVlink DC Quick Charger, now available in the US, takes less than 30 minutes to charge a typical battery to 80 percent. Leviton’s Level 2 (240V, 40A) charging station provides 9.6 kW output, and will charge the Toyota RAV4 EV in approximately six hours, according to the company.

And finally, the car of the future: Volkswagen’s Hover Car, a zero-emissions two-seater that hovers just above the ground. VW asked Chinese internet users to post their ideas about the car of the future on the People’s Car Project; 33 million visitors submitted more than 119,000 ideas. Auto China 2012 is showcasing three of these vehicle and technology concepts: the Hover Car, the Music Car and the Smart Key.

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