Tag Archives: alternative fuel

Audi RS5 TDI Concept

It’s an exciting time for diesel vehicle enthusiasts—Audi is celebrating 25 years of the TDI engine! And how does a car company celebrate a milestone like this? By unveiling an awesome new concept car, of course.

rs5-tdi-2-1

Audi RS5 TDI photo credit: autoblog.com

According to Autoblog, Audi is set to unleash the RS5 triple-turbo-charged diesel concept at the Leipzig Auto Show this month. And by “triple-turbo-charged,” I mean to say that the 3.0-liter V6 is a twin-turbo diesel engine with an electric supercharge tacked on just for kicks. Super fast kicks. The RS5 ramps up from 0 – 6o mpg in about four seconds flat.

And what’s better than going super fast, super quick? Super efficiency! Thanks to the diesel engine, the RS5 uses only five liters (~1.3 gallons) in 100 km, which translates to about 47 miles per gallon.

While this is only a concept car, Audi does have several other diesel options the available today, including the A6, A7, A8L, Q5, and Q7 TDIs, plus other models from previous years.

Fuel innovation: Ethanol from CO gas

So, where’s your fuel coming from next? Out of thin air. Scientists around the country continue to innovate new fuels that reduce dependence on petroleum and improve air quality. And this development caught our attention.

Ethanol from Carbon Monoxide Gas
No corn, sugarcane or switchgrass needed. Stanford University scientists have developed a method to produce ethanol out of carbon monoxide gas.

???????

As quoted in a recent Ethanol Producer magazine article, Matthew Kanan, an assistant professor of chemistry at Stanford and coauthor of the ethanol study says, “we have discovered the first metal catalyst that can produce appreciable amounts of ethanol from carbon monoxide at room temperature and pressure – a notoriously difficult electrochemical reaction.”

Unlike current ethanol production, this method does not require fermentation of biomass, typically corn, sugarcane or other starchy crops. The technique is similar to a process that reduces water into hydrogen—but in this case, reducing carbon monoxide into liquid ethanol.

While petroleum will only get more difficult to find and more costly to produce in the future, alternative fuel sources will increase, improving upon existing renewable fuel methods and inventing new and diverse sources.

Read more about the Stanford study.

Trident Inceni: A speedy sporty diesel

The word “diesel” usually brings to mind a big, loud, rumbly truck and probably not a very fast truck. The Trident Inceni turns this idea on its head. This sports car is smokin’—and no I don’t mean the exhaust. There’s no hint of clunky, puttering truck in this vehicle. trident-iceni Here’s the low down from Auto Blog:

Billed as “the world’s fastest and most fuel efficient diesel sports car,” the Trident Inceni is styled in the grandest of British tradition. But it’s what’s under that classical sheetmetal that makes it stand out. Where you’d expect to find a gasoline-burning engine, the Trident Inceni packs a 6.6-liter turbodiesel V8 good for an entirely respectable 395 horsepower and a time-bending 700 pound-feet of torque. Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission (there aren’t a lot of gearboxes out there, after all, that could handle that much twist), the Inceni is said to be good for a 3.7-second 0-60 time and a top speed in excess of 190 miles per hour. All that with a range of 2,000 miles and the ability to run on mineral or bio-diesel.

Did you catch that last part there? The ability to run on BIODIESEL. Now that’s my kind of sports car. trident-iceni-09-1 Maybe you don’t have a cool $160k to drop on the biodiesel car of your dreams. Luckily, there are a few more accessible options on the market. For example, check out our post on the VW Golf Sportwagen.

Happy Earth Day! Propel customers reduce CO2 emissions and petroleum use

In honor of Earth Day, we want to say a big THANK YOU to all of our customers who choose renewable fuel—even when it’s not Earth Day. Together, Propel customers have a significant and positive impact on our planet, reducing both harmful emissions and petroleum use. Just check out our Community CleanDrive Report:

Clean Drive Report Customizable

Interested to see your own impact? Any Propel customer can have a personalized CleanDrive report that shows the positive benefits of choosing renewable fuel. Simply register at propelfuels.com/CleanDrive and start racking up your numbers every time you fill. Plus, each time you track a fill you’ll be entered to win monthly prizes like free fuel and exclusive Propel gear.

What better day to start seeing your positive impact than Earth Day? Sign up now.

Hope to find a Koenigsegg on Easter

The only egg I want to find in my Easter basket is a Koenigsegg supercar—specifically, the CCXR or the new One:1. Not to be picky, but both of these ultra-performance vehicles run on E85 or E100. And what’s a sports car without a high-octane fuel?

GFW_5509jalop1-860x574

Koenigsegg One:1

Koenigsegg, the Swedish manufacturer of these high-performance sports cars, proudly touts its development of “green technology.” The CCXR was the first Hypercar in the world designed and calibrated to run on high ethanol blends (E85 or E100), as well as regular petroleum gasoline.

ccxr-01-1024x521

Koenigsegg CCXR

The One:1 is following in the CCXR green tracks by also running on E85.

release3jalopnik_1920-860x574

Koenigsegg One:1

If you’re wondering about the name, here is what Koenigsegg has to say:

The hp to kg curb weight ratio is an astonishing 1:1. This is the  “dream” equation previously thought impossible. On top of this the One:1 is the first homologated production car in the world with one Megawatt of power, thereby making it the world´s first series produced Megacar.

I might not fully appreciate the engineering ramifications of this ratio, but I am throughly impressed regardless. Learn more about the CCXR and the One:1 at the Koenigsegg website.

Looking for a more sensible vehicle that can still run the same high-performance, high-octane fuel as these supercars? Check out our list of E85 vehicles.

2014 Geneva Motor Show diesel vehicle round-up

European auto shows tend to deliver on the diesel front, and this year’s Geneva Motor Show was no disappointment. I just hope these models make it to American showrooms in the future!

Below are my favorite diesels from the show. Basic specs and pics courtesy  of Autoblog Green.

Audi TT

2015-audi-tt-00-1

The third generation of this sporty little two-seater was revealed at the Geneva Motor Show with the exciting news that “Audi is offering a trio of engines for the new TT, including a 2.0-liter turbodiesel powerplant that’s good for 184 horsepower, 280 pound-feet of torque and an excellent 56 miles per gallon.” Unfortunately, the the TDI option is currently unconfirmed for the US market. Here’s hoping!

Volkswagen Multivan Alltrack Concept

vw-multivan-alltrak001-1

The luxurious VW T5 MultiVan would take the vagabond-travel lifestyle to a whole new, classy level — or at least make hauling kids around in a van more appealing. The “nautical themed” van features an All-Wheel Drive system and a seven-speed transmission powered by a 177-horsepower diesel engine.

BMW X3

05-2015-bmw-x3-geneva-1

Great news, this diesel will be available in the US! According to the Autoblog report, “in addition to the 2.0-liter turbo-four and 3.0-liter turbo-six, BMW will now offer an X3 xDrive28d, fitted with – you guessed it – the 2.0-liter turbodiesel inline four-cylinder engine found in the 328d sedan. Output for this engine is rated at 180 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, and BMW says this oil-burning mill will help the X3 reach 60 miles per hour in just under eight seconds. The automaker hasn’t released any information about real or predicted fuel economy figures for the diesel X3, as yet.”

Bentley SUV diesel

exp9f

Ok, so most of us will never be able to afford a Bentley, let alone a premium diesel model, but it warms my efficiency-loving heart to know that the option will be available for those who can. This wasn’t technically on the floor at the Geneva show, but Autoblog had the inside line from the a convo with the CEO. The luxury SUV is slated for production in 2017 and the possibility of offering a diesel engine option is currently in the works. In addition to the potential diesel option, the vehicle will be designed from the get-go as a plug-in hybrid. Hopefully, this Bentley will get the best of both efficiency worlds.

Volkswagen T-Roc Concept

vw-t-roc-concept

Autoblog is confident that VW plans to build a Golf-sized crossover that would nest under the existing, larger Tiguan and it will look something like the T-Roc Concept a “with its flexible new MQB architecture and a diverse family of suitable powertrains that include gas, diesel, compressed natural gas, plug-in hybrid and pure electric models.” Lots of options, that’s what we like to hear. Now just make sure at least the diesel option ends up Stateside.

Ok, you’re probably thinking, enough of the European diesel options. What about some sweet, super efficient diesels I can get in the good ol’ US of A? Look no further than our recent post on the Chicago Auto Show.

EPA aligns with CA emission standards, calling for cleaner cars and cleaner fuel

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released the finalized “Tier 3″ standards for vehicle emissions levels. The standard promises to “quickly and effectively cut harmful soot, smog and toxic emissions from cars and trucks” and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles on the road today, while bringing more fuel-efficient cars and trucks to market. The new standards closely align with emission levels and greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions set forth by the California Air Resources Board, allowing carmakers to focus on meeting one cohesive standard for the entire country.

Together, the federal and California standards will maximize reductions in GHGs, air pollutants and air toxics from cars and light trucks while providing automakers regulatory certainty, streamlining compliance, and reducing costs to consumers.

Tailpipe emission standards will phase in gradually starting in model year 2017 though 2025. The focus is on limiting emissions of non-methane organic gasses (NMOG), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and particular matter (PM) for light-duty and some heavy-duty vehicles. All told, the tailpipe standards represent an 80% reduction from today’s average.

In addition, starting in 2017, gasoline refiners will be required to reduce sulfur content to no more than 10 parts per million on an annual average basis. That is a reduction of 60% from the current levels. According to the EPA, the “new low-sulfur gas will provide significant and immediate health benefits because every gas-powered vehicle on the road built prior to these standards will run cleaner – cutting smog-forming NOx emissions by 260,000 tons in 2018.”

The ultimate outcome of the standard will benefit consumers’ pocket books as well as overall public health. The changes promise to save Americans “more than $8,000 by 2025 over a vehicle’s lifetime” in fuel cost—and that adds up: “the fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards covering model year vehicles from 2012-2025 are projected to save American families more than $1.7 trillion in fuel costs.” Plus, by cleaning up air pollutants and harmful emissions, “once fully in place, the standards will help avoid up to 2,000 premature deaths per year and 50,000 cases of respiratory ailments in children.”

Renewable fuels play a part in the program too—the program finalizes standards for E85 as an emissions test fuel (for the first time) in Flexible Fuel Vehicles and calls for the standard test gasoline to contain 10% ethanol by volume.

Read more about the EPA’s finalized Tier 3 emission standards.

New Diesels debut in Chicago: Smaller trucks, wagons and powerful sedans

Since diesels reappeared with ultra-clean emission standards in California showrooms in 2008, the options keep coming. And there were several new diesel vehicles making an appearance at the recent Chicago Auto Show.

One of the noteworthy debuts was Nissan’s Cummins-equipped Frontier “concept” truck. Looking for a diesel truck that’s smaller than your first apartment? Here it finally is. (Will Chevy respond? read on…)

001-nissan-frontier-cummins-concept-live_628opt

Nissan Frontier – photo: autoblog

This so-called “concept” vehicle is really just the Frontier DesertRunner 4×2 sans gasoline engine. Instead of the standard gasoline engine, the truck features a 2.8-liter four-cylinder turbo diesel. Though,  according to Autoblog, it might be a few years before the concept is market ready.

BMW showed off their diesels too. The 2015 X3d is getting a new diesel option and the 740Ld xDrive sedan, a 3.0-liter turbodiesel. These models add to BMW’s growing lineup of diesel-powered options, including the 328d, 535d, and the X5d.

01-2014-bmw-760ld-chicago-1

740Ld – photo: autoblog

2015-bmw-x3-002-1

X3d – photo: autoblog

Plus, the seventh-generation Golf vehicle line will be getting a refresh as the Golf SportWagen (the Jetta SportWagen will be incorporated into the Golf line) and it will definitely have TDI diesel option.

photo: autoblog

VW Golf SportWagen Variant – photo: autoblog

Not to be outdone by the likes of Nissan and Volkswagen,  Chevrolet is releasing both a midsize diesel-powered truck and a sporty turbodiesel sedan.

By 2016, the Chevy Colorado pickup will have a 2.8-liter Duramax four-cylinder diesel engine. And the 2014 Chevy Cruze TD is already cruisin’ the streets with its super efficient 2.0-liter turbodiesel. Chevrolet is a major supporter of renewable fuel options and proudly supports the use of Biodiesel B20 in its new diesel models.

photo: autoblog

Chevrolet Colorado – photo: autoblog

There are a few more diesels on the horizon that we will further investigate in the future, such as the Jeep Wrangler and the Frontier’s big brother, the Nissan Titan. It is encouraging to see so many diesel options coming to market. Renewable fuels, like biodiesel, are an integral part to helping meet California’s Low Carbon Fuel goals, so the more diesel options out on the road, the better! Just make sure to fill ‘em up with biodiesel.

For biodiesel locations, please visit propelfuels.com/locations.

Audi gets behind renewable gasoline made from sugar

Audi  sees renewable biofuel alternatives as an integral part of the future of motor fuels—in fact, according to a recent report from Wired, the automaker is investing in gasoline made from sugar. This sweet fuel can run in any gasoline-powered vehicle, without modification!

audi-inline-1

image: audi

Audi has partnered with Global Bioenergies, a French company creating bio-isooctane by fermenting sugar with specially engineered E. coli bacteria. This reduces production cost and increases efficiency.

“Bio-isooctane can be used as a direct replacement for gasoline, or blended with conventional gasoline much like ethanol. The company has demonstrated the process in a lab, and is in the process of building two production plants. The goal is to produce more than 100,000 liters of gasoline annually — a pittance from a global perspective, but the program is a working proof-of-concept, and that’s where Audi’s investment comes in.”

Bio-iooctane is not the only “drop-in” fuel headed to the pump. Renewable diesel made from tallow and other renewable oils is in production and ready to replace petroleum diesel in the near future. And it just so happens that Audi has several turbo diesel models on the roads and more on the way—looks like Audi is on board with renewable fuel and ready to offer drivers choice at the pump.

Read more from Wired.

2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel rated most fuel efficient pickup

In a recent report issued by Motor Trend, the EPA has released fuel efficiency numbers for the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel placing the full-size pickup at the top of its bracket for fuel efficiency. The rear-drive Ram 1500 with its EcoDiesel engine boasts a 20/28/23 mpg city/highway/combined, which as earned it the title of Motor Trend’s “Truck of the Year.”

http---image.motortrend.com-f-wot-1402_2014_ram_1500_ecodiesel_epa_rated-63662142-2014-Ram-1500-Ecodiesel-side-view-in-motion

According to Motor Trend, the impressive mpg rating is “thanks to features like active grille shutters, an adjustable air suspension with an ‘aero’ mode, and a segment-exclusive eight-speed automatic transmission.”

And just to note, the B20 biodiesel-approved EcoDiesel engine is the same fuel-efficient workhorse powering the diesel Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Read more on the Ram 1500 from Motor Trend.

Hottest diesels on the road found at the 2014 National Biodiesel Board conference

This year, a few members of the Propel Fuels’ team — myself included! — were lucky enough to attend the 2014 National Biodiesel Board conference in San Diego, which happened to be timed beautifully with our Homegrown Roadshow 2.0 road trip. (Did you follow me & Em on our journey through SoCal? If not, be sure to check out Facebook to catch up on our shenanigans!)

A true opportunity to get back to our roots, the NBB Conference brings together folks from all rungs of the biodiesel industry—from manufacturers of processing components to fuel producers, vehicle manufacturers, and, of course, retailers like Propel that are dedicated to bringing those carefully processed fuels the last mile to consumers and fleet drivers like you.

nbb_booth

In addition to providing a rare opportunity to geek out with our industry brethren under one roof, the conference allowed to us to get to know our partners at the Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) a bit better. As the representing arm of the San Diego Clean Cities Coalition, the Center for Sustainable Energy is committed to increasing awareness of renewable energy programs, including renewable transportation fuels. We were happy to share a booth with CCSE’s local Program Assistant, Rebecca  (pictured below with the not-me Emily) and chat with industry folk and consumers, alike, about the advantages and availability of Propel’s biodiesel.

Plus, the conference gave a couple of us a chance to finally check out the latest diesel vehicles — and even climb behind the wheel of a few.

FORD F250
The F-series family has been a top selling truck line for over 60 years and for the past four years, the Ford F250 Super Duty trucks have proudly sported a B20 biodiesel badge. At the NBB conference, Ford brought out the F250 for the vehicle showcase and the “Ride-and-Drive.”

em_F250(Trying my best to mimic those fancy car gals we see at all the auto shows.)

B20_F250

During the NBB-sponsored “Ride and Drive,” Propel’s Director of Fuel Supply & Logistics, Parker took the Ford F250 out for a spin. The standard Ford-built 6.7L Power Stroke® V8 Turbo Diesel offers 800 lbs of torque and 400 horsepower. And, of course, the B20 stamp of approval—higher mileage, better engine performance, and cleaner emissions.

F250

Having had previous experience with past generations of F250s, Parker’s reaction to the smooth handling and easy acceleration was enthusiastic. “This is a truck I could get used to driving, ” he proclaimed. The double cab was roomy with plenty of space for passengers and comfortable enough to be in it for the long haul. But, it is a work truck, and it is not small, so might not be the best about-town transportation.

driving-F250

CHRYSLER JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE ECODIESEL
To say that we’ve been excited about the release of the 2014 diesel Grand Cherokee is an understatement. We anticipated its arrival since the Detroit Autoshow early last year and now, finally, got the chance to inspect the Jeep in person.

nbb_autoshow

The 2014 Jeep® Grand Cherokee’s 3.0L EcoDiesel engine has a 30-mpg highway rating, can run up to 730 miles on one tank of fuel (Biodiesel B20, of course), and can tow up to 7,400 pounds. A great vehicle for rugged roads and superior fuel economy—and the B20-approval seals the deal.

jeep_diesel

CHEVROLET CRUZE
Winner of the National Biodiesel Board’s 2014 Innovation Award, the Chevy Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel is the first light-duty passenger car in the U.S. to be fully approved for use with B20 biodiesel blends nationwide.

cruze_b20em_cruze

Naturally, it was at the top of our Must-Test-Drive list. At Propel HQ, many of our team members own Volkswagen diesel passenger vehicles, namely the Jetta TDI sedan, which is the German equivalent to the American Cruze. As a TDI-driver, myself, I was looking forward to trying out a US-produced diesel for comparison.

driving-cruze1

The Cruze ran like a top, with smooth acceleration and only a gentle purr letting on to the diesel power. Some drivers might be disappointed to discover that the diesel is only offered with an automatic transmission and does not have a standard amenities package option—top of the line only, which means a bigger price tag for an already premium model. However, with a 46 mpg highway rating, beating out any hybrid on the market, it may be worth the extra cost. And as for the Cruze’s German competitor, the “Ride and Drive” guide was willing to go head-to-head with any Volkswagen diesel spec, matching or topping the Jetta TDI’s performance.

bulldozerAnd then there was this behemoth. While we didn’t have the chance to take this fancy biodiesel-friendly Cat Wheel Loader for a spin, Emily did prove that the wheel capacity is approximately one human. And the DPF filter catches 99% of all particulate matter. So fresh and so clean, clean!

– Emily S (“Shell”)

Producer Spotlight: New Leaf Biofuel

newleaflogo1

Driving with Propel biodiesel in Southern California? Here’s a look at the amazing people & process behind your favorite fuel. New Leaf Biofuel based out of San Diego California has been producing high quality biodiesel with pride and purpose since 2005.  Started by a group of innovative recent college grads, New Leaf has a mission firmly grounded in their San Diego community: to enhance air quality, sustainability, and strengthen the local economy.

13251851129197-950x390

The high quality biodiesel produced by New Leaf starts off as fryer grease and waste oil from local restaurants, hotels, schools, hospitals, and other businesses. New Leaf collects the used cooking oil and brings it back to their production facility, which is conveniently located right in San Diego. Once at the plant, the waste grease is filtered, purified, and cleaned up–all to prepare for the processor that turns the oil into high grade biodiesel ready to be distributed to fleets and retailers, like Propel Fuels!

“The best thing a potential consumer of biodiesel can do is to find a manufacturer who is strict about control,” said CEO Jennifer Case in a Union-Tribe San Diego article highlighting New Leaf. “We are trying to make a product that is going to be accepted in the marketplace. Therefore we have to be really strict about our quality standards. If everybody else who makes biodiesel did the same thing, we would be able to go into the next level and become a fuel that people used commonly and that states, cities and commercial fleets were confident that it wasn’t going to harm their engine.”

nlfp

The waste-grease-to-biodiesel-fuel is win-win setup on several levels. First of all, instead of paying  to dispose of waste grease, businesses and organizations with industrial kitchens have a reliable revenue stream from selling their used cooking oil New Leaf. Secondly, as a domestic (really, hometown) facility, New Leaf creates valuable industrial jobs that support the local economy. And, last but not least, New Leaf produces a cleaner-burning fuel from renewable resources for use in diesel engines across San Diego.

Creating value for business. Supporting the domestic economy. And helping to make a healthier, more sustainable community. All in a days work. Nicely done, New Leaf!

Fill up with New Leaf’s biodiesel at select Propel locations in Southern California.

Learn more about Propel’s renewable fuel producer partners.

World Record for fuel economy goes to a diesel!

Ladies and gentlemen, once again, diesels are cleaning up on the podium. This time it is a Guinness World Record for the best fuel economy. The Volkswagen Passat TDI, driven by a two-man team for 8,122-miles across America, achieved 77.99 miles per gallon. A full 10 miles per gallon better than the previous record! And it flew passed the hybrid record by a whopping 13 miles per gallon.

VW-Passat-TDI-Clean-Diesel

Drivers, Wayne Gerdes and Bob Winger, purchased only 104.94 gallons of diesel fuel for the entire distance of their tour. The duo used common hyper-miling techniques like steady acceleration after stopping, utilizing momentum, and sticking to the speed limit. Doesn’t sound too tricky! Even without any fancy driving techniques, the Volkswagen Passat TDI is rated an EPA estimated 43 miles per gallon on the highway.

Read more about  record setting VW TDIs  and  history of their awesome fuel economy.

Photo credit: Autoweek.com.

Ethanol proves to be a sweet opportunity for California farmers

Most of California’s sugar mills have closed up shop in recent years, leaving sugar beet farmers without a market for their crop. But now ethanol derived from sugar beets is providing a new opportunity for these farmers and their communities.

beets_for_refining_1

Farmers in the small community of Mendota, California are leading an effort to bring back the once widely-grown sugar beet crop. In 2008, Spreckels sugar plant was shuttered, leaving many residents without a job and farmers without a purchaser for their beets. In a stroke of ingenuity, the seed company suggested the community grow beets for ethanol. Thus, the Mendota Bioenergy company was formed!

field_beets

According to a recent report from California public radio, “Mendota Bioenergy has a $5 million grant from the California Energy Commission – and the partnership of university experts from UC Davis and Fresno State – to complete the test site. It should be up and running this winter and, if all goes as planned, the company will then build the nation’s first commercial sugar beet biorefinery in Mendota by 2017.”

Mendota Bioenergy will not only produce a domestic alternative to petroleum gasoline, but the ethanol plant itself will also have a sustainable focus with measures in place to let nothing go to waste. Plus, beets grow well on marginal lands and require very little fresh water. Overall, ethanol produced from California-grown sugar beets and processed in the Mendota refinery will have a much lower carbon footprint than petroleum gasoline, lower even than typical corn-based ethanol. Now that sounds like a sweet deal.

Read more from The California Report.

Now that’s fast. E85-powered motorcycle hits 200mph in a mile.

We know racers love E85–the fuel increases performance and helps vehicles go, well, fast. Just how fast you ask? According to The Scoop Blog, the fellows over at No Regret Performance, optimized a 2006 Suzuki GSX-R750 motorcycle to run E85 and managed to reach over 209.98 miles per hour in a standing mile. Talk about zoom.

No Regret Performance- 200mph club members

No Regret Performance- 200mph club members

The racers of No Regret Performance, Jean-Pierre Trzebiatowski and Thomas Cronan, made several modifications to the motorcycle in order to run the high-blend ethanol fuel, including upgrading the fuel system, replacing injectors, and reprograming the bike’s computer. For the full scoop on the team’s technical modifications, check out Holly Jessen’s post.

Not mechanically savvy? Me neither. Luckily, there are plenty of cars right off the assembly line ready to run high-performance E85. Check out our list of Flex Fuel E85 compatible vehicles: www.propelfuels.com/vehicles.

Consumer Reports Says Flex Fuel Chevy Impala “Top of Class”

Chevrolet Impala It’s good to have a Flex Fuel vehicle on top. Consumer Reports is calling the  E85-friendy 2014 Chevrolet Impala the “best new sedan the magazine has tested in its category.” It’s the first time an American sedan has held that standing in at least 20 years. The Impala scored a 95 out of a possible 100. Only 2 other vehicles scored better in the overall report: the BMW 135I coupe and the no-gas-at-all Tesla Model S. The totally redesigned Impala’s 300 hp, 3.6L V6 engine includes E85 Flex Fuel capability as standard for the 2LT and 2LZ trim levels. Read the full report at http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2013/09/chevrolet-impala-review/index.htm. To see a list of all available Flex Fuel models, visit www.propelfuels.com/driveE85.

U of M Study says “Go Clean Diesel, Save Money”

U of MMaybe we’re preaching to the choir, but a new study by the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute shows that clean diesel vehicles save their owners money. And of course, choosing that diesel vehicle opens the door to using high performance, lower carbon, American made biodiesel. Even when paying a bit more for the diesel model, the Transportation Research Institute found that a diesel’s total cost of ownership (TCO) is lower than the gas version. Here’s how they put it…

“Our results show that clean diesel vehicles generally provide a return on investment in both the three- and five-year timeframes, though there are differences in the amounts of return among mass market vehicles, medium duty trucks, and luxury vehicles,” authors Bruce M. Belzowski and Paul Green, assistant research scientists with UMTRI, state in their report. “The estimates of savings for three and five years of ownership vary from a low of $67 in three years to a high of $15,619 in five years, but most of the savings are in the $2,000 to $6,000 range, which also include the extra cost that is usually added to the diesel version of a vehicle.”

Read more at http://www.biodieselmagazine.com/articles/9232/study-shows-diesels-save-owners-money-over-gasoline-versions.

Ethanol fuels American Le Mans Series

Ethanol blends are the top fuel choice for vehicles in the 2013 American Le Mans race series.  The added performance benefits and eco-friendly quality of ethanol  make ethanol fuel blends the preferred choice for the performance-demanding Le Mans racers.

ALMS-ethanol
As part of meeting the Green Racing protocols and the International Motor Sports Association, American Le Mans cars must choose from four sanctioned fuels, including clean diesel, E10, E85 and isobutanol. At the start of the season, vehicles racing in the series choose to use either E85 (85% ethanol) or E10 (10% ethanol) for the duration of the races.

ALMS-ethanol-monterey

It’s not hard to see why ethanol is a popular choice with the fuel’s wicked 100 octane rating. According to a special piece in the Chicago Tribune covering alternative vehicle news, ethanol’s higher octane rating “helps prevent pre-firing of an engine’s pistons and allows the race car to get more bang for the buck.” Plus, “heat takes its toll on engines, especially in [ALMS] cars. Ethanol is said to contain less heat energy than gasoline per volume, releasing less as it is burned.”

Racers might prefer ethanol for the performance benefits, but the fuel’s green factor is what truly makes it stand out. In high-blends like E85, ethanol fuel emits 20% fewer carbon emissions than conventional petroleum gasoline. And the best part? E85 is not reserved for Le Mans vehicles only. Many consumer vehicles can run E85 and get the same performance benefits. Find out if your car can drive E85.

Thanks to alms.com for photos from raceday in Monterey.

More (smaller) choices in alt fuel cars

Don’t need a Chevy Tahoe or a Ford F350? You are not alone. And while diesel passenger car registrations are on the rise – the choices for smaller cars compatible with biodiesel and Flex Fuel are not great. The good news is they are getting better. Here are a couple new options that do not require an addition to your garage.

dodgedart123

The Dodge Dart FFV is a welcomed newcomer to renewable fuels with an entry price of $16,000. Chrysler hasn’t officially said when the Dart will become flex-fuel capable, but the 2.0-liter Tigershark engine is designed as an FFV. Chrysler and IAV representatives at the SAE World Congress at Cobo Hall reported the engine will be going into the 2014 Dart, which is due later this year.

Cruze123

Starting MSRP for the B20-ready diesel Chevy Cruze is reported to be $25,695, and GM plans to sell them in markets where its B20-approved Chevrolet Silverado diesel models have done well, including the West Coast. The 2014 Cruze is expected to move into production this summer (2013), and gets better mileage than most hybrids.

More than 33 light- and medium-duty diesel passenger cars and trucks, as well as heavy-duty diesel models from nearly 20 different brands, will be available in the market this year. In addition to its Ford F-Series Super Duty trucks, Ford is introducing a new diesel model in its Ford Transit full size van which will also be approved for use with B20 biodiesel.  Additionally, Chrysler’s new 2013 Ram Heavy Duty pickup features 6.7-liter Cummins High-Output Turbo Diesel powertrain.  The 2013 Ram Heavy Duty diesel pickups are approved for general use with B20 by all customers beginning in January 2013.

Super Efficient Diesel-Electric Plug-Ins Abuzz at Geneva

To our delight, several manufacturers unveiled diesel-electric hybrid models at the Geneva Autoshow, including Volkswagen’s XL1 diesel-powered plug-in hybrid, touted as the “world’s most efficient car.” Reminiscent of a tictac on wheels, the XLI is a spacey, futuristic-styled two-seater claiming a whopping 261 miles per gallon fuel efficiency.

volkswagen-xl1-geneva-2013No word on how many of these snazzy little diesel-sippers will go into production or what the price tag might be (rumors suggest over six-figures), but we like the direction VW is headed.  For more information, check out autoblog’s report.

Ready for more diesel-electric thrills from Geneva?

Subaru showed off the Viziv diesel hybrid crossover. A concept vehicle that is the poster child for Subaru’s  “Vision for Innovation,” the Viziv offers a glimpse into future design and technological direction for the company.

subaru-viziv-concept-geneva-2013

Mitsubishi also brought a diesel-hybrid concept to the spotlight in Geneva: the Concept GR-HEV, a Sport Utility Hybrid Truck. According to Autoblog, “the vehicle’s drivetrain is good for CO2 emissions of 149 grams per kilometer. For comparison’s sake, the global 2012 Ford Ranger emits 264 g/km when equipped with the 3.2-liter turbo-diesel engine and a six-speed manual transmission.” Nice.

mitsubishi-concept-gr-hev-geneva-2013

Learn more about current diesel vehicle options and cleaner fuels for diesel vehicles at www.propelfuels.com.

Photo Credits — Autoblog.com

Detroit Autoshow. We like what we see.

This year’s Detroit Autoshow boasted plenty of shiny, drool-worthy vehicles, and, as renewable fuel enthusiasts, a couple in particular caught our eye.

Diesel (!) Jeep Grand Cherokee.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit

First of all, we love our diesels, especially the re-release on American soil of an old favorite like the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Chrysler’s new EcoDiesel V6 powers this off-roading champ. For all the specs and in-depth details, read Autoblog’s review on the Grand Cherokee’s comprehensive update.

Volkswagen CrossBlue Diesel-Hybrid.

01-volkswagen-crossblue-concept-detroit

Be still our efficiency-loving hearts! Did you just say DIESEL-HYBRID? Before you get your hopes up too much, for now it’s a concept only. According to Volkswagen, the three-row crossover has an estimated fuel economy of 35 mpg combined and a whopping 89 mpg in electric mode. Get the scoop from Autoblog.

X-Truck Plug-In Hybrid Concept.

via-x-truck-detroit-2013-01-1358266422

It might be hard to tell but the X-Truck is a suped-up, highly-modified Chevy Silverado by Via Motors. The most obvious addition is the plug-in hybrid powertrain, which enables it to get the touted, but still unofficial, 100 miles per gallon. The truck still uses a 5.3-liter V8 from GM as a gas generator–when the battery is in a low state-of-charge, the generator kicks in and helps power up the battery packs. This begs the question: is the V8 Flex Fuel E85 compatible?! We certainly hope so!

New Clean Fuel Point is now open in Sacramento – Try Propel fuel for FREE!

Image

Come get your fill of Flex Fuel E85 and Biodiesel B20 at Propel’s new Clean Fuel Point in Sacramento @ Mak’s Valero station, 1101 Broadway. During the Grand Opening event, try $10 of Flex Fuel E85 or Biodiesel B20 for FREE!

The Grand Opening celebration goes from Tuesday, September 11 through Friday, September 14, 10am – 7pm. Hope to see you all there!

Image

American Ethanol and Propel Attend NASCAR Sonoma

Propel was ecstatic when our friends at American Ethanol invited us to attend the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway in June. A proud supporter of both America’s heartland and the addictive sport of stock car racing, American Ethanol is a non-profit organization that is teamed up with NASCAR to increase education and awareness around ethanol as a cleaner, greener, American-made transportation fuel. For the 2012 season, all cars competing in NASCAR run on E15, a blend of 15% ethanol and 85% gasoline that is gaining more traction with individual drivers and consumers across the nation thanks to its widespread compatibility, cleaner emissions, reduced petroleum content and support of American jobs.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Once at the races, American Ethanol Sponsorship Manager Carrie Emert and Growth Energy VP Kelly Manning surprised Propel with a behind-the-scenes tour of the garages, a one-on-one chat with RCR pit crew member Aaron Schields—who grew up on a corn farm and now holds one of the most important jobs in the sport!—and the once in a lifetime chance to present the American Ethanol Special Award to driver Greg Biffle during Opening Ceremonies.

Big thanks to American Ethanol for hosting such a unique day at the track and for all your support spreading the word about the benefits of ethanol. We had a great time!

For more information on American Ethanol, check them out online or visit their Facebook page.

“On the Green Road” Tops Off at Propel Berkeley

While Propel’s Homegrown Roadshow team of Emily and Emily were between events in the SF Bay Area, they paid a visit to our Berkeley Clean Fuel Point to meet up with Cece Reinhardt, one of the partners behind On the Green Road. Per the duo’s website (which is also a live blog of their adventures), the goal of On the Green Road is to “green an Airstream, turn a used diesel truck into a veggie oil machine and hit the road in complete ‘off the grid’ style.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Amazingly, Cece and her fellow road-tripper Brenda Daugherty have been living out this journey since the end of last year and have plans to canvas much of the US and even parts of Canada while “driving towards sustainability one mile at a time.” And while Cece didn’t have the Airstream in tow when Propel met up with her in Berkeley to donate a well-earned tank of B20 biodiesel, she did promise that we’d meet again. We hope so! Best of luck to these road warriors as they live out their green dreams in sweet Airstream style.

Learn about Cece and Brenda’s On the Green Road adventure at www.greenrvlife.com, and find out where the Homegrown Roadshow is headed next at propelfuels.com/roadshow.

The Homegrown Roadshow is Coming to Town!

Yeehaw! This March, Propel is taking our show on the road, visiting seven of our CA fuel sites to bring Flex Fuel and Biodiesel drivers the chance to try clean burning, American-made fuels for free.

From the Bay Area  all the way down to San Diego, Propel’s Roadshow duo Emily and Emily will be cruising the West Coast, sharing their renewable fuel knowledge and offering new Propel customers at least $10 of free fuel along the way. The tour kicks off on Wednesday, March 7, in Elk Grove, CA (just outside of Sacramento) and concludes Friday, March 23 in Arcadia, CA (just outside of LA). For a full list of dates and locations, be sure to visit the Homegrown Roadshow online.

In addition to free fuel, Roadshow event attendees can also partake in special offers and giveaways from our convenience store partners. Own a business with fleet vehicles? We’ll have a dedicated fleet specialist on-hand at every event to discuss exclusive fleet savings and the many performance advantages of Flex Fuel and Biodiesel.

Can’t make it to an event? Starting next week, drivers can follow the Roadshow live on Facebook, and be sure to keep your eyes peeled for our official tour vehicle, Scout, passing through town. Every Scout or Roadshow picture posted to Facebook is a chance to win Propel swag and free fuel, so whether you see us live in person or you spy Scout zipping around your city, snap away!

See you on the Roadshow!

From Festive to Feedstock, San Franciscans “Treecycle”

Christmas trees are collected curbside in San Francisco. Credit: SFGate.com

In many American cities, nothing quite marks the end of the holiday season (or the beginning of the New Year) like gutters strewn with discarded Christmas trees.

But for the past 25 years, the city of San Francisco has been breathing new life into these signs of yester-yule with Recology’s “Treecycling” Program — an initiative that not only rescues Christmas castoffs from the local landfill but goes one step further by chipping the trees into valuable biomass, which can be used for things like renewable fuels.

According to Bob Besso, Recology’s waste reduction and recycling manager, who spoke with the Bay Citizen about the program, more than 500 tons of Christmas trees were collected in San Francisco in 2010.

Because of fir trees’ high acid content, they shouldn’t be mixed with regular compost, so turning the trees into wood chips is the preferred, if not perfect, alternative.

While the chipping process does result in air pollutants, it’s superior to allowing the trees to decompose, which would produce methane and 21 times the gases associated with chipping, according to Kevin Danaher, outreach and communication program manager with San Francisco Department of the Environment.

Perhaps the best solution for a city constantly on the cutting edge of eco-friendly practices? Renting fresh, if unconventional, Christmas trees that can be replanted following the holiday season through organizations such as Friends of the Urban Forest (the program was so popular, it sold out in 2011).

Still, fans of tradition and the environment can rest a little easier knowing that the fresh-cut variety can fuel more than the holiday spirit thanks to Treecycling efforts. To learn more about the program and to read the full story, vist The Bay Citizen online.

Propel Fuels Partners with Econation Green Transportation Service in California

Just in time for the New Year, Propel is making new friends in the fleet world, including our latest fleet customer, Econation – a global ground transportation company that exclusively employs the use of hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles in its fleets.

Econation driver Teddy fills his Suburban with Propel's Flex Fuel E85 in Arcadia, CA.

Econation will fuel its fleet of Flex Fuel vehicles at Propel locations in the greater Los Angeles area with renewable E85 fuel – a cost-effective blend of 85 percent high-performance, American-made ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. As a business member of Propel’s proprietary CleanDrive® program, Econation will also be able to track the environmental impact of every gallon of Propel fuel pumped, including pounds of CO2 reduced, barrels of oil displaced and more.

“Today more than ever, travelers appreciate being able to do something better for the environment while still experiencing the comfort, luxury and affordability they associate with a leading transportation company,” said Econation Managing Partner Ben Bloch. “We view this new partnership with Propel in the same light. We’re able to fuel our Flex Fuel vehicles with the sustainable, American product they were designed for without sacrificing quality, performance or cost. And Propel’s CleanDrive reporting program complements emissions data reports that we offer our clients. It’s a natural marriage.”

The CleanDrive system is an integrated carbon emission reduction tracking platform that tracks and displays the carbon emission reductions from the use of renewable fuels purchased at Propel stations. CleanDrive graphically displays the positive impacts of renewable fuel use including: reductions in CO2, barrels of oil displaced and reductions in foreign oil consumed. The system tracks fuel usage across Propel’s network of fueling stations, enabling businesses and government fleets to quantify the positive impacts of their decision to use low-carbon fuels, and in some cases meet mandated or voluntary fleet emission reduction goals. (You can have your own personal CleanDrive account, too! It’s free to register.)

“We’re proud to work with Econation who is setting high standards in green transportation and introducing sustainable fuels to an entirely new sector,” said Propel CEO Matt Horton. “Together with great fleets, individual drivers and better choices at the pump, we are making progress at reducing our dependency on imported oil and helping meet our nation’s emission reduction goals.”

So who exactly is Econation?

Econation is a global “green” alternative to traditional ground transportation (taxi’s, Town cars, limousines and buses). Offering an assortment of the most cutting edge hybrid and alternative fuel based sedans, utility vehicles and buses, Econation provides corporations and individuals with a way to be environmentally and socially conscious without sacrificing price, comfort, or dependable service. Econation was the first alternative fuel and hybrid firm to win Limousine, Charter and Tour (LCT) magazine’s 2011 Operator of the Year award, which measures chauffeured ground transportation firms on categories including innovation, safety and operational excellence.

To learn more about Propel Fuels, visit us online on from your mobile phone at propelfuels.com. More information on Econation is available at www.econation.com.

2012 VW Passat TDI ranks #1 for fuel economy over hybrids

Consumers don’t often consider full-size options when on the hunt for fuel efficient vehicles; however, there is a new class of roomy sedans boasting better fuel economy than previous generations. Motor Trend put three of these super efficient sedans in a head-to-head comparison to see which would come out on top in a miles-per-gallon competition.  The three vehicles compared include two hybrids, 2011 Hyundai Sonata and 2012 Toyota Camry, and one diesel, 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI. After comparing road test mileage, driving experience and design, the VW Passat won hands down.

While the article had positive things to say about both the Hyundai and the Toyota, the Passat took first place by a long shot. With a highway rating of 40 mpg, on one tank of fuel the Passat can cruise the interstate for 740 miles without needing a pitstop. Add in a six-speed manual transmission and that range shoots up to 43 miles per gallon and 796 miles per tank. Overall, Motor Trend concludes that the superior trunk space (no pesky batteries infringing on storage capacity), “the first-rate steering and taut, lively suspension deliver a rewarding, responsive drive that can’t be matched in this group.”

Read more from Motor Trend.

The best part about diesel vehicles? You can run clean, American made biodiesel without any conversion. Find a Propel biodiesel location near you.

Major Commercial Airlines Launch Biofuels Flights

Two commercial airlines are taking biofuels to the skies, and with a bit of competition in the air, biofuels for aviation are becoming a reality.

Just this morning, United Airlines launched the first commercial US flight operated by biofuels. Powered by Solazyme Solajet fuel, flight 1403 (a Boeing 737-800 Eco Skies aircraft) departed from Bush International Airport in Texas en route to Chicago O’ Hare International Airport in Illinois. The Solajet fuel used was a blend of 60% biofuels and 40% conventional petroleum-derived jetfuels.

Meanwhile, in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska Airlines plans to launch its first regularly-scheduled route powered by biofuels this Wednesday, November 9. The carrier’s passenger flights from Seattle-to-Washtington, D.C. and Seattle-to-Portland will both be regularly fueled by a 20% used cooking oil-based biofuel blend from Dynamic Fuels. In total, Alaska (and its sister airline Horizon) will operate 75 biofueled flights over the next few weeks.

“This is a historic week for U.S. aviation. The 75 flights that Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air will fly over the next few weeks reflect our longstanding commitment to environmental responsibility and our belief that sustainable biofuels are key to aviation’s future,” Alaska Air Group Chairman and CEO Bill Ayer was reported as saying in an article from Biofuels Digest. “What we need is an adequate, affordable and sustainable supply. To the biofuels industry, we say: If you build it, we will buy it.”

To learn more about the future of biofuels in commercial aviation, read the full article at Biofuels Digest online.

Propel’s gone mobile!

We are happy to announce the launch of Propel Mobile. Visit propelfuels.com from your smart phone to get started.

The new Propel Fuels mobile site has everything you need to find and fill with Propel renewable fuels. In addition to the great features above, now you can:

  • Contact Customer Service with the touch of a button
  • Get the facts about our clean fuels
  • Add Propel to your home screen for quick, app-like access on the go
  • Easily access our main site for our full suite of online resources