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Fleet Roundup: SAE vs. CHAdeMO, Tesla, Waste Industries, Volvo

The battle over DC fast-charge standards heated up at a recent California State Senate public committee meeting. A GM representative asked the state to limit adoption of DC fast chargers to only those that conform to the upcoming SAE standard (supported by US and German automakers) while a Nissan representative described the CHAdeMO connector (already used by Japanese cars including the Nissan Leaf) as the only existing fast charging standard, Torque News reports. According to Autoblog, the first vehicle to get the SAE connector will be the Chevrolet Spark in 2013.

Waste Industries has spent $8 million to update its fleet with 19 garbage trucks and one service truck that run on compressed natural gas, The Herald Sun reports. The Raleigh, N.C.-based company expects to save about $2 per gallon on fuel in the near-term and reduce maintenance costs in the long term. The project also includes a private CNG fueling station.

Ohio’s Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA) says it will switch 50 percent of its current fleet of buses to CNG over the next two years, starting with the first six CNG fixed-route buses this month. SARTA expects the change to reduce emissions more than 80 percent and save $300,000 per year on fueling costs. SARTA has also installed two CNG fueling stations, one for SARTA buses and the other for the general public.

Alternate-fuel vehicle sales will reach about 900,000 cars in Europe and nearly 250,000 in the North America by 2018, according to new analysis by Frost & Sullivan. The research firm expects liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to lead for the next four to five years while the CNG network straggles in Europe and North America.

Automotive seating, interiors and electronics maker Johnson Controls is providing a series of lighter-weight door panels, seat structures and instrument clusters for the new BMW 3 Series. The door panels are made using a combination of natural fibers and plastic that is 20 percent lighter than conventional components. The seat structures for the driver’s seat save three to four kilograms depending on the model.

Tesla Motors will begin customer deliveries of its electric sedan on June 22, ahead of schedule. The Model S (shown), which gets up to 300 miles per charge, starts at $49,900.

Volvo Trucks will launch its own 13-liter LNG engine for North America in 2014. Volvo says its LNG engine is 30 percent more fuel efficient compared with spark-ignition engines, and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 20 percent compared with current diesel products. The company also says it’s testing another fuel that can be produced from natural gas, dimethyl ether (DME).

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