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Green Fleet Roundup: Toyota, Mazda, Tesla, Republic Services

RepublicToyota says cumulative global sales of its hybrid vehicles topped the 6 million unit mark as of Dec. 31, 2013, reaching 6.072 million units. The latest million-unit milestone took just nine months — the fastest time yet for Toyota.

Electric sports car manufacturer Tesla’s sales in the fourth quarter of 2013 were the highest in company history by a significant margin. With almost 6,900 vehicles sold and delivered, Tesla exceeded prior guidance by approximately 20 percent.

Aluminum company Alcoa has completed a $300 million expansion at its Davenport, Iowa facility dedicated to supplying aluminum sheet products to the automotive industry. According to automakers, demand for aluminum to produce vehicles — already the second-most-used material used to make cars today — is expected to nearly double by 2025, Alcoa says.

Southwest Research Institute has deployed the first vehicle-to-grid aggregation system qualified by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas to manage charging activities for a fleet of electric delivery trucks. The SwRI system suspends vehicle charging when the electric grid frequency drops too far below 60 Hertz, the normal operating frequency. Alternative energy supplies, such as wind energy, can be especially variable, so the SwRI-developed technology is useful for integrating these green technologies into the energy infrastructure, SwRI says.

Rechargeable nickel-zinc battery developer PowerGenix has signed a memorandum of understanding with Asian battery manufacturer Amperex Technology. Under the agreement Amperex will become PowerGenix’s partner for the high-volume manufacturing of NiZn batteries for the worldwide start-stop automotive and industrial energy storage markets.

Mazda has delayed the launch of its SKYACTIV-D clean diesel engine in North America. The company has decided that it needs further development to deliver the right balance between fuel economy driving performance. The engine was originally scheduled for a Spring 2014 launch.

Republic Services has deployed 79 compressed natural gas solid waste and recycling trucks (pictured) throughout greater Indianapolis. The new CNG fleet replaces older diesel powered trucks, and represents a significant local investment in cleaner, safer and more efficient vehicles, Republic says.

Logistics company Sonwil Distribution Center has added several Kenworth CNG tractors to its overall transportation fleet. These CNG tractors, operating under Sonwil’s affiliate Innovative Transportation Services, yield fewer emissions and deliver greater fuel economy and cost savings in comparison to traditional diesel trucks, the company says.

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