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Summary:

It appears 2009 is shaping up to be the year of the fleet: The Renault-Nissan Alliance, which has set a goal of leading the global electric vehicle market, said today that it has struck two new deals to accelerate deployment of upcoming plug-in vehicles in corporate […]

It appears 2009 is shaping up to be the year of the fleet: The Renault-Nissan Alliance, which has set a goal of leading the global electric vehicle market, said today that it has struck two new deals to accelerate deployment of upcoming plug-in vehicles in corporate fleets. BNP subsidiary Arval has agreed to develop leasing plans specifically for electric cars in an effort to speed their adoption, and fleet giant ALD Automotive has signed on to support introduction of Renault’s electric cars into European corporate fleets from 2011 onward.

Renault-Nissan’s move is just the latest in a slew of deals for the alliance as it works to build a market and infrastructure for its upcoming electric vehicles. But it also represents the latest fleet play — one of the biggest for plug-in vehicles, given the reach of the companies involved (Arval and ALD’s fleets include a total of more than 1.4 million vehicles internationally) at a time when the business of fleet supply and management is attracting innovators from across the green transportation sector. As consumer vehicle sales slump and automakers look to test out their inaugural electric models in controlled settings, fleets offer a good match.

Today’s deals come on the heels of Canada-based Electrovaya launching a small car-sharing program for its Maya 300, a low-speed electric four-seater planned for the fleet market. And it comes less than two months after car-sharing company Zipcar jumped into the fleet management biz in hopes of crossing over into profitability by year’s end.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Government Accountability Office, or GAO, released a report on the new push for plug-in vehicles in federal fleets, and it highlighted a number of challenges — mostly having to do with high upfront costs, the need for charging infrastructure, limited supply and the fact that federal agencies face potentially conflicting mandates to reduce electricity use while adding on a new source of demand (the vehicles).

Among the key recommendations in the GAO report is for the Secretary of Energy to develop guidance for agencies acquiring plug-in vehicles. According to the report:

Such guidance might include assessing the need for installing charging infrastructure and identifying areas where improvements may be necessary, mapping current driving patterns, and determining the energy sources used to generate electricity in an area.

Depending on how quickly fleet initiatives from companies Renault (at large scale) and Electrovaya (at small scale) take off, and on how they pan out — they, too, may encounter customers worried about at high upfront costs and infrastructure needs — the government may be able to take some of these cues from private sector innovators.

“Kangoo be bop Z.E.” prototype photo credit Renault

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  1. Carl Sanders Friday, June 26, 2009

    Regarding the politics of the DOE ATVM Loan awards:
    So it turns out to be all the best loans money can buy.
    Ford paid over $14M to elected officials and consultants in order to get the loan. Ford paid the third largest amount and Ford got the third largest loan. This is disclosed in public records searches and lobby filings just revealed. 21 elected officials had direct benefit from the deal.
    Nissan paid over $10M to elected officials and consultants in order to get the loan. Nissan paid the third largest amount and Nissan got the third largest loan. This is disclosed in public records searches and lobby filings just revealed. The law and public statements by elected officials state that the money was to increase American competitiveness for America car companies yet the money was given to a Japanese company who will send all of the profits back to Japan. 7 elected officials had direct benefit from the deal.
    Tesla paid over $100,000.00 to elected officials and consultants in order to get the loan. Tesla paid the third largest amount and Tesla got the third largest loan. This is disclosed in public records searches and lobby filings just revealed. Tesla’s filings show that their business model is unsustainable compared to competitors, that they were 200% off on the BOM of their car, that all of their first funding was wasted so they have to pay back twice as much to investors as competing companies and that their technology is so old, it all needs to be redone yet they still got money. 18 elected officials had direct benefit from the deal. Tesla did not even read the rules for the loan and planned to build a building when the NEPA rules make that option impossible so they had to restart the process, which is supposed to put one into a new cycle yet they were kept in the previous cycle and put ahead of Fisker, Bright and others who had applied earlier than Tesla.
    The ATVM program was created by Ford, GM & Chrysler lobbyists to pad their company’s pockets and those three had pre-hardwired the entire $25B for their own pockets but something happened in the process when Senator Bingaman added a few key lines that opened the door for OTHERS to apply to build green technology and required that those who get the money were “financially sustainable” businesses. Back when the ATVM was authored to save Detroit, it was fully known that Detroit was going to go bankrupt. Ford had the same problems as GM and Chrysler but they went around the world getting bailout money instead of going first to US funds. As law required public exposure of the bankruptcy, Bingaman’s brilliant plan to finally create a green transportation industry was revealed. The very people that had stopped green cars for over 100 years suddenly became the first people to, accidently, cause them to happen but now others could do it too.
    Bingaman should get the Congressional Medal of Honor for pulling of this impossible trick and finally giving America the Electric Cars it should have had for the last hundred years.
    Once Detroit realized this, they tried to hijack the whole ATVM program with a takeback at the end of 2008 but that effort was defeated by a close late night vote. Now that it was out there, Detroit lobbyists and influencers fought to get the review of applicants delayed for as long as possible because they realized that, in a recession, most of the smaller competing interests could be forced to go out of business if they could just be kept away from the money for long enough. Major American TARP banks have said that the standard commercial loan process that each of these 26 applicants (not hundreds of applicants- There were 26 applicants in the round) should take 4 weeks at the longest and 3 weeks nominally. It seems clear that the loans were delayed due to political agendas and not process issues.
    Bright Automotive had applied on time, ahead of the others, turned in low overhead numbers and a great path too profit but they were virtually ignored while intensive meetings were conducted with Nissan, Ford and Tesla because those parties paid for it. The law says that this, and the purchasing of favors, gave those parties an unfair business advantage using taxpayer dollars, over Bright. A case Bright would easily win if they choose to run with it.
    Clearly, it isn’t over yet. Stay tuned for the Senate, Congressional, Ethics Committee and media reviews of this one. Watch for the charts connecting who-to-who. (It is OK to re-post this)

  2. PHOTOS: Nissan Unveils 2010 Electric Car, Aims for Family Sedan Pricing Saturday, August 1, 2009

    [...] Trials: Some Progress, Long Road Ahead Wireless Charging: Making the Leap from Gadgets to Cars Renault-Nissan Eyes Fleet Market for Electric Cars, Strikes Two New Deals Tesla Wins $465M in DOE Loans; Nissan Gets $1.6B for Electric Cars [...]

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