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So Many E-Scooters, So Where To Dock & Charge Them All?

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The beleaguered cities of today are faced with yet another dire threat as mountains of dockless e-scooters pile up on street corners, laying in wait for unsuspecting pedestrians to trip over them. Perhaps the threat is exaggerated, but the popularity of two-wheeled electric transport is skyrocketing. At some point cities will have to take action, and if all goes according to plan in Paris, a win-win micromobility solution is at hand.

Dockless E-Scooters & The Last Mile

The new plan is being hatched in Paris, where a 150-dock pilot project is about to begin with the Turkish electric scooter docking startup Duckt at the helm. The idea is to keep urban spaces clear of clutter and reduce theft and vandalism, while providing e-scooter rental firms with a platform for lowering their costs.

The idea is similar to the EV charging-plus-kiosk trend that appears to be taking off, but with an emphasis on leveraging existing street furniture rather than necessarily having to build all new infrastructure.

Duckt envisions street lamps, advertising boards, and bus station shelters to begin with. The bus station angle is especially relevant because Duckt is focusing on the “last mile” challenge which the e-scooter leasing business seeks to address.

The last mile refers to a stubborn obstacle for urban mass transportation planners, which is what to do with passengers after they climb off the bus or train and still have a mile or so of walking before they reach their destination.

The E-Scooter Solution To The Last Mile Problem

The last mile gets plenty of blame for the unwillingness of commuters to leave their cars at home and take mass transit. Solving that problem won’t solve all urban mass transit issues but it will certainly help.

Anyway, that’s what Duckt is banking on. Paris is on track to ban diesel cars by 2024 and gasmobiles by 2030, and the public already seems to be gearing up for a big switch. Last year the micromobility firm Lime surveyed e-scooter use in Paris and took note of a significant surge.

Part of that surge could be a temporary blip related to the COVID-19 crisis, but it’s a safe bet that some newly minted fans will continue relying on e-scooters after the crisis fades.

Marc-Antoine Réol, Country Manager France at Duckt, seems confident that the upward trend will be a lasting one.

“The aim of this experimentation is to provide a last-mile infrastructure, which links public transport and shared micro-mobility,” he says.

Don’t just take their word for it. Duckt is getting an assist from the EU clean tech accelerator EIT InnoEnergy and they are all over the idea like white on rice, partly due to their focus on clean power.

“Micro mobility is in the driver’s seat as Paris and other major cities like Barcelona and London decarbonize,” explains Hortense Becheux, who holds the position of Sales Manager France at EIT InnoEnergy. “We think DUCKT offers something truly unique — the solution is built to be adaptable and green. This means it can even generate its own power through solar options.”

Wait, E-Scooters That Don’t Lay Traps For Pedestrians?

The challenge for e-scooter fans is to avoid the whack-a-mole of getting cars out of the way but replacing them with hordes of evil two-wheeled menaces.

“This initiative supports the mayor’s desire to reduce the use of cars in town to a minimum and the city’s ambitious ’15-minute city’ project which aims to give Parisians the full use of their streets back,” emphasizes Réol.

Cagri Selcuklu, co-founder of Duckt, recently elaborated upon the concept in an article over at Urban Mobility Daily.

In addition to identifying use and control of public spaces, he cited the bottom line issue of operational efficiency. That includes avoiding the potential of lawsuits over safety hazards.

“Vandalism and theft of vehicles can be quite widespread, and pedestrian safety is of course another major issue at hand,” he wrote. “While operators do care about making a positive change in people’s lives, operational costs can be prohibitive.”

As a business specializing in docks for e-scooters, Selcuklu also had plenty to say about docklessness.

“Dockless solutions present an opportunity to solve a great deal of first/last mile problems, offering a high level of freedom of movement. But this freedom comes at a cost,” he wrote.

Pedestrian safety is part of the problem, but there is much more to the story.

“Although these vehicles [such as e-scooters] can potentially be found anywhere, they are not necessarily where they ought to be. Next to bus and metro stops or any other transport/commercial hub is where passengers need a first/last mile solution the most,” he wrote.

One Of These E-Scooter Docks Is Not Like The Others

Duckt will have 12 months in Paris to assess its solution, which combines some of the freedom of docklessness with a modular, standardized system. That means anyone, on any scooter, can hook up and plug in.

“Our solution is designed to allow for the storage, securing and charging of 20 scooters streetside in the same space that one car would take up. All it takes to implement a Duckt charging station is a standard grid connection and 4 simple bolts to fix the station to a flat concrete or asphalt surface. Our adaptors make every scooter you see on the street suitable to use the system,” Selcuklu explained.

Onward & Upward For E-Scooters

If all goes according to plan, Duckt will add Paris to its growing list of fans, which as of this writing tops 10 cities and seven different e-scooter manufacturers.

That’s a pretty quick start for a firm that only popped up on the radar a year or so ago, but Selcuklu points to the three co-founders’ cumulative total of 35 years experience in mobility, supply chain, and Internet-of-Things as the force behind Duckt’s “Infrastructure as a Service” business model.

Here at CleanTechnica we’re super on board with the EV trend, but e-scooters and other forms of tiny two-wheeled travel are also catching our eye. Selcuklu has a point when he expands upon the idea that cities need to “adopt sustainable modalities that put citizens, not cars, at the heart of urban mobility.”

Take a look at New York and other cities where COVID-19 adjustments have enabled local restaurants and shops to take over adjacent parking spots, and entire streets have been closed for people to enjoy. Those semi-permanent arrangements build upon a long history of temporary “play street” and street fair closures. In some cases businesses can benefit when streets are closed to cars. Property values can also increase, which adds more fuel to the anti-car fire.

That’s why Duckt’s point of putting 20 e-scooters in the space of one car should give urban planners food for thought. It could be that a knock ’em down, drag ’em out fight over urban EV charging infrastructure lays ahead, pitting electric car stakeholders against e-scooter stakeholders.

Or maybe they can compromise. Who knows!

When last heard from, Duckt was looking into enlisting cities in North America. Hold on to your hats.

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Photo (cropped): Courtesy of Duckt.

 



 


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/03/05/so-many-e-scooters-so-where-to-dock-charge-them-all/

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Waymo CEO Krafcik Steps Down — Does It Mean Anything?

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The longtime CEO of Waymo, John Krafcik, has been leading what many consider to be the leading autonomous driving company since 2015 — 6 years. Though, the news is that Krafcik and/or higher-ups at Alphabet decided it was time for him to find a new passion. He is stepping down as CEO and Waymo will now be led by co-CEOs, Dmitri Dolgov, previously Chief Technology Officer (CTO), and Tekedra Mawakana, previously Chief Operating Officer (COO).

The top question is: does this mean anything? Is Krafcik stepping down because he has failed to deliver on key targets? Is commercial rollout going too slowly? Are autonomous capabilities progressing too slowly? Has Krafcik accomplished what he set out to accomplish and is now ready for either new challenges or early retirement?

Notably, Krafcik recently got into a little communications tussle with Tesla. Krafcik claimed that Tesla’s “full self-driving” system isn’t the right approach toward a fully autonomous vehicle. He considers it a dead end.

“It is a misconception that you can simply develop a driver-assistance system further until one day you can magically jump to a fully autonomous driving system,” Krafcik said in an interview with Manager Magazin.

Naturally, Tesla CEO Elon Musk sees it differently. He expects that the only way to get to truly useful self-driving vehicles is through the vision + deep machine learning system it is continuously improving. It must feel like a frantic race to solve a giant puzzle to many of the members of these teams — that’s certainly what it looks like from the outside. With the different approaches, though, it’s not just a race — one of the companies may be putting the puzzle together in the wrong way.

(NNs = neural networks.)

 



 


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/04/03/waymo-ceo-krafcik-steps-down-does-it-mean-anything/

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The Fossil Fuel Industry Used Deception To Conceal Damage To BIPOC — NAACP Report

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The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) just published a report titled Fossil Fuel Foolery, which identified 10 tactics that the fossil fuel industry used as excuses for not accepting accountability for its impacts on the environment and human health. DesmogBlog noted that the industry used a long list of deceptive tactics that concealed environmental destruction harming Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) as well as low-income communities. Not surprising — the fossil fuel industry only cares about money, and if the planet and human health stand in the way of that, so be it.

The article gave a snapshot of the report findings, and one of the most disturbing things I took notice of was the common tactic that the NAACP described as “co-opt community leaders and organizations and misrepresent the interests and opinions of communities,” sometimes with financial support, to “neutralize or weaken public opposition.”

In short, fossil fuel companies and utilities pour donations on churches, nonprofits, and advocacy organizations to pretty much secure the local community buy-in on projects that generate pollution. The article said it plainly: “to stifle the push towards renewable energy.” And that also includes misrepresenting the community through one or two hired hands.

One example noted in the article is Florida Power & Light’s donation of around $225,000 to the NAACP’s Florida state chapter between 2013 and 2017. Just after these donations, the Florida chapter began repeating industry talking points against the growth of solar energy. This helped accelerate the NAACP’s Initial 2019 report. In addition, the fossil fuel industry and its allies shift the blame onto the very communities affected the most by pollution to distract from the impact of industry operations. This sounds like a narcissistic abuser. Hurt someone and then blame them and convince them it’s their fault.

Last month, President Biden brought attention to a common nickname that encompasses my own city, Cancer Alley. In Louisiana, Cancer Alley is an area along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge (where I live) and New Orleans — the River Parishes of Louisiana where numerous industrial plants are located. This area has clusters of cancer patients and the constant coverage by the media led to the nickname.

President Biden spoke out about the petrochemical facilities that dump out the large quantities of toxic pollution onto predominantly Black communities, and Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) accused the President of slamming our area. Considering Senator Cassidy’s stance in favor of fossil fuels, this isn’t surprising. Earlier this year, President Biden signed executive orders to transform our nation’s heavily fossil-fuel-powered economy into a clean-energy one and paused oil and gas leasing on federal land. President Biden also targeted removing subsidies for those industries. Senator Cassidy and Senator Kennedy spoke out against the President’s orders and in favor of the fossil fuel industry.

“Biden’s executive orders are counterproductive. They eliminate jobs and send them overseas to countries with worse environmental standards, increasing global emissions. We don’t need symbolism — we need solutions. So far, all we are seeing from this administration is an ‘energy’ agenda that betrays the working Americans who thought that this President was going to work for them.” — Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA)

DeSmogBlog noted that when United Nations human rights official issued a statement last month calling ”the development of petrochemical complexes” in the region “a form of environmental racism,” Senator Cassidy had some words to say about this. It should be noted that Senator Cassidy received around $600,000 in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry during the 2020 election season. The fossil fuel-addicted senator pointed to obesity and cigarettes as the causes of cancer instead of the rampant pollution.

Late last year, I went down to the riverfront and was fortunate to have had my N95 mask — the chemicals from the plant across the river not only created a haze but made the air foul. That smell was well worse than cigarette smoke. I wrote about it here because it was so striking.

The Top 10 Fossil Fuel Industry Tactics

The NAACP listed the top 10 fossil fuel industry tactics that shift the blame and responsibility of its impact on BIPOC communities. They are as follows:

  1. Invest in efforts that undermine democracy.
  2. Finance political campaigns and pressure politicians.
  3. Fund scientists and scientific research institutions to publish biased research.
  4. Say government regulations hurt the economy and low-income communities.
  5. Deny or understate the harms polluting facilities cause to people and the environment.
  6. Deflect responsibility–shit blame to the communities they pollute.
  7. Co-opt community leaders and organizations and misrepresent the interest and opinions of communities.
  8. Exaggerate the level of job creation and downplay the lack of quality and safety in jobs.
  9. Praise false solutions while claiming that real solutions are impractical, impossible, or harmful for BIPOC and poor communities.
  10. “Embrace” renewables to control the new energy economy.

Some Key Highlights From The Report

The highly detailed report actually has information that is highly disturbing. For example, in 1980, ALEC founder Paul Weyrich stated: “I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

In 2010, the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission determined that limited political spending by corporations restricted their constitutional right to freedom of expression. This shifted the political power away from citizens to corporations and special interest groups.

Also, leading up to the 2020 election, the American Petroleum Institute spent over $5 million in lobbying practices. The group funneled money to campaign contributions — mostly financing the Senate Leadership Fund, which is a super PAC that supports the Republican Party. From the report:

“With financial support from the fossil fuel industry, politicians actively support destructive energy practices, falsely claim that emissions, not fossil fuels, are the enemy and draft diluted environmental agendas that focus on planting trees instead of shutting down industrially polluted, cancerous alleys.”

E = MC2: Enviro-lies = Manipulaiton X Ca$h

In this section of the report with the clever above headline, it noted that the Center for American Progress identified over 50 research agreements in a 2010 report. These agreements were between universities and major energy companies, where the companies donated a range between $1 million and $500 million toward energy-related research.

Another example cites a 1997 study by the National Centre for Cancer Institute which found that the chemical benzene, which is found in crude oil and gasoline, was connected to the development of chronic diseases in workers exposed to it. Following this report, several petrochemical companies gave nearly $40 million to fund scientific research “designed to protect member company interests.” One example of this type of research is the Shanghai Research Project which published research that supported the petrochemical companies’ practices.

Fossil Fuel Emissions Kill

The report noted that around 63,000 Americans are killed each year by air pollution and these Americans are disproportionally BIPOC and low-income community residents. Senator Cassidy can blame fat people and cigarettes all day, but it won’t change the fact that 40% of communities of color and low-income communities live within three miles of power plants that emit particulate matter that taints our air quality. Last year when the Exxon plant had that explosion — and, yes, despite what officials said, there were reports of an actual explosion (I was less than five miles away from the explosion) — who knows what was pumped into our air?

You can read the NAACP’s full report here.

 



 


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/04/02/the-fossil-fuel-industry-used-deception-to-conceal-damage-to-bipoc-naacp-report/

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Reports: Tesla Plans To Start Building 5 Semi Trucks A Week

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Tesla is building a low-volume Tesla Semi production line, and once it’s complete, Tesla reportedly plans to produce 5 Tesla Semi electric trucks on a weekly basis, reports Yahoo! Finance. The article noted that the low-volume production line is being built in a new building in the industrial park where the Nevada Gigafactory is located. Tesla is also still planning for volume production of the Semi trucks to be manufactured at Giga Texas once it’s able to ramp up battery production there.

On Monday, Tesla received a new order for 10 of its Semi EVs along with two Megachargers. Benzinga reported that this was backed with almost $2 million in federal government support. The Mobile Source Air Pollution Review Committee is investing in a clean transportation initiative on California’s southern coast. As a part of this investment, it awarded MXS Leasing LLC, which is a logistics company based in California, $1.8 million for the deployment of 10 Tesla Semi Class 8 semi trucks and an additional $560,000 for the deployment for two overhead electric cranes.

Momentum, the company that assisted MHX with its application for the funding, said that the deal includes two Megachargers at MXH’s Fontana, California, site. Just after that news broke, Tesla’s Elon Musk tweeted that Semi demand isn’t a problem, but that near-term cell supply makes it hard to scale the Semi. He also noted that this limitation will be less onerous next year.

Although many seem to view this as another delay, it should be noted, as Teslarati pointed out, that Elon Musk was talking about the difficulties of scaling the Semi’s manufacturing. The idea of Tesla actually producing its first few Semis in 2021 still seems possible.  This thought seems backed up by the new report noting that Tesla plans to produce 5 of its Semis on a weekly basis once the low-volume production line is completed.

 



 


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/04/02/reports-tesla-plans-to-start-building-5-semi-trucks-a-week/

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Chevy Bolt Sales Jump 53.7%

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The Chevy Bolt is not the most exciting or flamboyant electric car on the market — it’s not a Tesla or the Ford Mustang Mach-E. However, it is the electric vehicle I see most often on the roads around me aside from all of Tesla’s models. It’s exciting and uplifting to see them, even if the car never put a tingle in the back of my neck.

One thing the Bolt does have in common with the Mach-E is that, love it or not, its sales are pretty weak. That’s not going to change, because it’s a vehicle class that is just not that popular in America. However, the good news is that things are looking up for the little Bolt EV.

In the first quarter of 2021, the Chevy Bolt EV’s sales rose 53.7% over its sales in the first quarter of 2020. In fact, it was the Bolt EV’s best first quarter in history. (Admittedly, it’s not a very long history, but the Bolt EV was the first long-range, semi-affordable electric car on the US market.)

The Bolt EV had 9,025 US sales last quarter, up from 5,873 sales in the first quarter of 2020. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the Bolt EV had just 9,025 US sales last quarter. Multiply that by 4 and you don’t even get to 40,000 sales a year. Heck, you don’t even get to 37,000 sales a year.

You’re not going to cut enough emissions, GM, with under 40,000 electric vehicle sales a year in the 2020s. Tesla likely scored more than 22,000 first-quarter Model 3 sales in the US and 43,000+ first-quarter Model Y sales here. GM needs to understand why its EV of a similar age does so much worse, and how the company could get closer to Tesla’s numbers. The electric revolution is not going to slow down, and a model getting under 100,000 — let alone under 40,000 — annual sales is not going to be seen as a leader for long.

“What about the Bolt EUV? It’s bigger than the little Bolt EV.” Well, we’ll see. …

Chevy Bolt EUV fleet ready for test drives. Photo by Kyle Field, CleanTechnica.

Chevy Bolt EUV with attractive backdrop. Photo by Kyle Field, CleanTechnica.

Inside a Chevy Bolt EUV. Photo by Kyle Field, CleanTechnica.

 



 


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/04/02/chevy-bolt-sales-jump-53-7/

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