The Manhattan Tesla store has a special vehicle in its showroom this weekend — the Tesla Cybertruck. Elon Musk confirmed that Tesla’s hottest new EV will be there until Sunday. The showroom is located in the Meatpacking District of Manhattan, NY. The Cybertruck’s appearance is in connection to Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s appearance on Saturday Night Live on Saturday.
Cybertruck prototype in New York this weekend
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 8, 2021
Cybertruck at the Manhattan Tesla store today pic.twitter.com/enKuTKlDkj
— Sawyer Merritt 📈🚀 (@SawyerMerritt) May 8, 2021
When Owen Sparks asked Elon how long the Cybertruck would be in New York, Elon replied that it would be there until Sunday. I actually have a Cybertruck on preorder and am excited about more sightings. Recently, Elon showcased the Cybertruck at Giga Texas.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 7, 2021
Images of the vehicle’s visit to Giga Texas were shared by members of the Tesla community on Reddit — the r/TeslaMotors subreddit. Photos and videos showed that workers at Giga Texas were in awe of the beast. I think that’s what I’ll name mine, “The Beast.”
More Tweets & Photos of the Cybertruck in New York
— Tesla Owners Club New York State (@TOCNYS) May 7, 2021
The Cybertruck – the most revolutionary truck ever is now able to see in the New York area! Take a look for yourself by going to the Meatpacking-860 Washington Tesla store which is at 860 Washington St. New York, NY 10014! It closes today at 8 PM and reopens tomorrow at 11 AM! pic.twitter.com/8sUrOnGqdE
— BabyTesla (@BabyTesla3) May 7, 2021
— Jens Marklund (@jensdotwork) May 7, 2021
Cybertruck has hit the streets of New York City! I wonder if it will make an appearance on SNL tomorrow 🤔 pic.twitter.com/EQKKpJVEAw
— Owen Sparks 🌎 (@OwenSparks_) May 8, 2021
SPOTTED IT!!!!! pic.twitter.com/HEPnRRdIJJ
— Jeff 💙✌️ (@JeffTutorials) May 8, 2021
Featured photo by Tesla Owners Club Of New York, used with permission.
Radio Flyer Is Growing Up With Its First Line Of Products Aimed At Adults
The Radio Flyer Little Red Wagon was a huge part of millions of American childhoods over the last 104 years, and it continues to be, today. That doesn’t mean the company is a one-trick pony, though — in recent years, folding cargo haulers, strollers, trikes, and kid-friendly kick-scooters have become a growing part of the company’s product line. Now, as the Gen Z kids who grew up riding Little Red Trikes enter adulthood, Chicago-based Radio Flyer is taking the next logical step with a line of e-bikes and electrified kick scooters aimed specifically at adult riders.
“We’ve inspired creative play for generations of families, so launching a line that offers adults a fun way to explore their world is a natural fit,” said Robert Pasin, Chief Wagon Officer at Radio Flyer. “This is a huge milestone for us, and truly demonstrates our determination to never stop innovating, even at a legacy brand like Radio Flyer.”
Radio Flyer e-Bikes
The new, fat-tired Radio Flyer e-bikes are available in two lengths — a standard “mid-frame” length, and a long-tail “cargo length” that’s suitable for carrying a pair of child seats. The bikes launch with a series of “thoughtfully designed accessories” ranging from child carriers to storage solutions.
Radio Flyer’s e-bikes feature a 500-watt rear hub motor and Flight Speed™ Lithium-Ion Battery with five levels of pedal assist, as well as a “throttle-only” (read: no-pedal) option. Not bad for a bike with a relatively low $1699 starting price tag!
Radio Flyer e-Scooters
The electric kick-scooters, or e-scooters, from Radio Flyer offer a similar sort of value. The scooters start at “just” $599, and have a “slim” design available in 3 colors — one of which is the classic Little Red, which is the one you want (obviously). The scooters’ batteries are good for over 15 miles per charge and a top speed of 16 MPH.
So, they’ve got an iconic name, a loyal fanbase, and a strong feature-per-dollar value proposition. What else could Radio Flyer possibly throw at this launch? How about a little Chicago star power? Radio Flyer teamed up with actress, producer, and mom, Tia Mowry. Mowry, best known for her role in Sister Sister, is active, playful, and a genuine fan of the brand. “There are very few products from my own childhood that my kids still enjoy today,” said Mowry, a mom of two. “Flyer is the perfect alternative to piling my family into the car, and I can’t wait to expand our own fleet of Radio Flyer products with new e-bikes.”
Tia Mowry on the Radio Flyer e-Bike
What do you guys think? Is this a great step forward for Radio Flyer, or should it be building electrified wheelbarrows or something to stay closer to the whole “wagon” thing? And, more importantly, are you a soulless, joyless monster if you don’t buy one of these in red? Scroll on down to the comments section and let us know!
Source | Images: Radio Flyer.
Waymo & J.B. Hunt Team Up To Bring Autonomous Freight Trucks To Texas
Autonomous driving technology company Waymo has teamed up with Arkansas-based transportation logistics company J.B. Hunt for a pilot project designed to test the use of Waymo’s autonomous driving in moving freight.
Texas has been selected as the state to trial the collaboration in. Waymo will use its Class 8 autonomous trucks to transport goods between Houston and Fort Worth via the Interstate 45 for one of J.B. Hunt’s customers. The Waymo Driver autonomous platform will be used to operate the truck, but the vehicle will not be totally unmanned – a commercially licensed truck driver, a Waymo software technician, and a Waymo autonomous driving specialist will be on board to oversee and monitor the operation.
The Waymo Driver platform is actually Level 4, meaning it can operate without needing a human safety driver – although only when the weather is good and only on certain routes. Of course, the ultimate goal is for Waymo to have driverless autonomous trucks zipping around the whole US, but this is some time away.
We first reported on Waymo’s intention to bring self-driving trucks to Texas last year, and it seems this is that intention coming to fruition. This pilot project is seen as the first major step in making the Waymo Driver platform commercially viable. In a statement, Charlie Jatt, Waymo’s Head of Commercialization for Trucking, said: “We’re thrilled to collaborate with J.B. Hunt as we advance and commercialize the Waymo Driver. Our teams share an innovative and safety-first mindset as well as a deep appreciation for the potential benefits of autonomous driving technology in trucking. It’s companies and relationships like these that will make this technology a commercial reality in the coming years.”
Waymo already has an autonomous taxi service in operation. It had a successful launch in Phoenix, Arizona last year, although there was some controversy due to one of its self-driving taxis going rogue in Chandler, Arizona last month. It seems there are still some kinks to be ironed out – the road to fully autonomous vehicles becoming commonplace is very long and quite bumpy.
Looking ahead to the potential expansion of the new collaboration in Texas with J.B. Hunt, it’s clear that there will be advantages of this technology for freight companies. Unlike human drivers, autonomous vehicles do not suffer from fatigue and can drive non-stop. Autonomous vehicles will also arguably be safer in the long-term due to the elimination of human error.
This could be bad news for truck drivers – but not just yet. Craig Harper, Chief Sustainability Officer at J.B. Hunt, said: “While we believe there will be a need for highly skilled, professional drivers for many years to come, it is important for J.B. Hunt as an industry leader to be involved early in the development of advanced autonomous technologies and driving systems to ensure that their implementation will improve efficiency while enhancing safety.”
Oh, So They Do Make Electric Trucks After All
The boo birds were on the attack earlier this spring, when the US Postal Service announced plans to convert most of its crumbling, fire-prone fleet of more than 230,000 old gasmobiles to new gasmobiles, with just a small fraction reserved for electric trucks. Adding insult to injury, the new fleet contract was awarded to the firm Oshkosh Defense, which critics have charged has less EV experience than other contenders. Well, the contract is still a target for critics, but suddenly the prospects for an all-electric Postal Service fleet are looking brighter.
What Happened To All The Electric Trucks?
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy was only in office for a few months before accusations of financial conflicts and elections interference landed him in the doghouse last year. The heat turned up this spring when he announced plans to not electrify the Postal Service fleet.
On February 23, DeJoy outlined an initial installment of $482 million on a $6 billion contract for Oshkosh “to manufacture a new generation of U.S.-built postal delivery vehicles that will drive the most dramatic modernization of the USPS fleet in three decades.” The contract called for 50,000 to 165,000 vehicles to be delivered over a 10-year span beginning in 2023, which will be equipped “with either fuel-efficient internal combustion engines or battery electric powertrains and can be retrofitted to keep pace with advances in electric vehicle technologies.”
Despite the wiggle room for ICE technology, that actually seemed fairly promising in terms of ushering in a smooth transition to electric trucks, until DeJoy explained that the initial projection was for only 10% electric vehicles.
On the heels of a tsunami of criticism, on March 23 DeJoy unveiled a service-wide modernization plan that stipulated 100% fleet electrification by 2035. That pace is still less than optimal, and some members of Congress are pushing to accelerate the EV timeline by providing more money for purchasing more electric trucks more quickly.
They Make EV Batteries, After All
Part of the initial of the Oshkosh contract criticism stemmed from a report in Bloomberg on March 10, which indicated that Oshkosh Corp. raised concerns about the company’s EV expertise in a securities filing last November. The report also noted that Oshkosh executives downplayed those concerns in a January 2021 earnings call, telling investors that their plans for the Postal Service fleet covered both ICE and electric trucks, along with retrofit potential.
It seems that Oshkosh had a good reason to be more confident this year than last year.
On June 9, Oshkosh Corp. announced the delivery of its first electric fire truck and unveiled its new Volterra™ electric platform, which was developed by its subsidiary Pierce Manufacturing.
“The first Pierce® Volterra zero-emissions pumper has been placed on duty with the City of Madison Fire Department in Wisconsin, making this the first electric fire truck in service in North America. The Volterra pumper is serving front line duty at Station 8, the City of Madison’s busiest fire station, supporting a population of over 250,000,” Oshkosh enthused.
In the announcement, Oshkosh emphasized that the new electric trucks build on the company’s decades-long experience in electrification, beginning with an electric boom lift in the 1990s through its JLG Industries branch.
Oshkosh plans to use the Volterra platform across its Fire & Emergency division. Next up is the Volterra hybrid Striker® aircraft rescue and firefighting vehicle, which will be touring airports around the country this summer.
More Electric Trucks For The US Postal Service
Oshkosh also appeared to leverage the new announcement to allay concerns about its ability to design specialized electric vehicles for any customer, including the US Postal Service.
“Category leading innovations, developed with direct input from our customers, is a hallmark of our Company,” said Oshkosh EVP and President for Fire & Emergency, Jim Johnson.
“Our electric vehicles designed around Oshkosh Corporation’s proprietary and patented technologies will provide the environmental benefits fire departments request, without compromising on the leading-edge operational performance, functionality, safety attributes, customization, or the traditional configurations and styling customers expect from our fire apparatus,” he added.
As applied to fire trucks, the meat of the Pierce Volterra platform is an “Oshkosh patented parallel-electric drivetrain featuring an electro-mechanical infinitely variable transmission allows zero-emissions operation when powered by the integrated onboard batteries.”
The electric trucks are designed to operate on on 100% electric power under normal conditions. If an extended emergency kicks in, ICE technology will take over. After all, better safe than sorry.
Electric Trucks By Any Other Name Are Still Electric
Some day in the sparkling green future, battery technology will improve to the point where an ICE backup is not necessary for specialty vehicles. Until then, fuel efficiency and biofuels can help cut emissions for heavy duty vehicles over the near term. That’s another area in which some interesting developments may be on the horizon for the US Postal Service, considering its reliance on long haul trucks.
Oshkosh Defense already has a hybrid system called ProPulse under its belt, which consists of a fuel efficient diesel engine that powers an all-axle electric drive. The Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory helped to finance a starter version of the hybrid electric technology back in 2003, with the aim of cutting emissions from garbage trucks. Oshkosh has demonstrated the system on its 35,000 pound Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck for the US Army, claiming a 20%-35% fuel savings over conventional technology depending on speed.
The truck also features on-board energy storage, which can be deployed to power stationary facilities like airfields and hospitals. Back in 2010 Oshkosh demonstrated the energy storage system on the Phalanx truck-mounted missile interceptor system, so there’s that. The US Postal Service might not ever need a Phalanx truck-mounted missile system, but mobile sorting equipment and other devices might come in handy.
Another other option is fuel cell technology. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have been struggling in the passenger car market, but the heavy duty usage field has picked up the torch. A growing number of manufacturers are dipping into the technology for buses and long haul trucks as well as aircraft, watercraft, and locomotives.
The Postal Service has a history in electric mobility that dates back to 1899. No, really! The attention shifted massively over to compressed natural gas after the Energy Policy Act of 1992, but it looks like interest in fuel cell technology picked up around 2005.
In 2018 the Postal Service piloted a fuel cell conversion system for electric trucks. The project was supported by the US Department of Energy and yielded promising results in terms of reducing emissions, though one of the lessons learned appears to be that fuel cell electric trucks should be designed from scratch rather than trying to retrofit fuel cells onto existing vehicles.
Also, in 2017, our friends over at Plug Power revved up a five-year fuel cell truck contract with the US Postal Service, so it appears the Post Office may already have a few other tricks up its zero emission sleeve in addition to battery-powered vehicles.
The big question now is how fast the Postal Service can cut emissions, considering that catastrophic global warming is looming right around the corner and impacts are already occurred in parts of the world.
That’s up to members of Congress, who control the purse strings and enact the policies. President Biden is sticking to his climate action guns along with almost every Democrat, but almost every Republican member of Congress is aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has vowed to put the freeze on Biden’s plans for, well, just about everything. Game on!
Follow me on Twitter @TinaMCasey.
Photo: Electric fire truck (cropped) courtesy of Oshkosh Corp.
PG&E Commissions Microgrid Near Yosemite National Park
Pacific Gas & Electric, the utility company that serves much of northern California, has commissioned the first of many standalone microgrids in Mariposa county near Yosemite National Park. Built and installed by BoxPower, the remote grid will permanently replace the overhead distribution power lines that once served a handful of customers in Briceburg, a community located in a High Fire Threat District of the Sierra Nevada foothills. The new microgrid will improve reliability while significantly reducing the risk of wildfires in the area.
The hybrid system uses solar combined with battery energy storage and backup propane generators to provide a permanent supply of electrical energy to remote customers as an alternative to using traditional poles and overhead wires.
BoxPower says such microgrids may be used to supply other remote locations that are served by conventional transmission lines that traverse other HFTD areas. The microgrids are expected to cost less to build and maintain than building and servicing transmission lines. BoxPower has previously installed two of its microgrid systems in Puerto Rico.
“PG&E is eager to deliver the benefits of remote grids to our customers, and we intend to expand the use of standalone power systems as an alternative to certain existing distribution lines, providing enhanced reliability with a lower risk profile and at a lower total cost,” says Jason Glickman, executive vice president for engineering, planning and strategy at PG&E. The PG&E customers receiving electric service from the Briceburg Remote Grid include two residences, a visitor center, and telecommunications and transportation facilities.
The microgrid will be 89% powered by renewable energy from a BoxPower SolarContainer and a ground mounted solar array rated at 36.5 kW DC. The system includes a 27.2 kW / 68.4 kWh lithium ferro phosphate battery energy storage system manufactured by BoxPower. There are also two 35 kW propane generators integrated into the system and a fire suppression system to protect the hardware and the facility.
PG&E and BoxPower will be able to monitor and control the system via satellite and cellular connectivity, with capabilities for remote performance management, safety diagnostics, alarms, reporting, and automated refueling notifications. The containerized microgrid system is designed for rapid deployment and scalability, streamlining future replication at similar sites. PG&E has identified hundreds of potential locations for remote grids and is targeting up to 20 operational remote grid sites by the end of 2022.
“BoxPower is proud to play an important role in bringing clean, reliable, and fire-safe power to rural energy consumers through our work with PG&E and other utility companies,” Angelo Campus, CEO of BoxPower tells CleanTechnica in an email. “PG&E is leading the industry shift in California in terms of using remote grids specifically for wildfire mitigation purposes. PG&E’s example is one that other utilities in the state and across the West may be eager to follow in the face of worsening drought and extreme wildfire conditions.”
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