NB: This is a partial cross post to comments I made under my ‘Green Gone Wrong’ :: Consumption == the bane of human existence? by bla bla blat a few days ago. Since I started this thread, I’ve had not only the opportunity to engage colleagues in the LinkedIn matrix on the GReEN Group, but Nissan motors, as well. Here’s more…

On the comment section to my post above, I go on to say…

An ancillary note: It appears as if the US EPA isn’t completely being taken-in by auto manufacturers zero emissions claims. I just hope they don’t lose their ability to regulate carbon/GHG emissions in the USA.

Electric Vehicles Losing Their ‘Zero Emissions’ Claim in U.S.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson explained:

“Electric vehicles are frequently advertised as zero emissions, but we all know that that’s not entirely true, because when you plug in, there’s some emissions from the source.” Currently in the U.S., that source is often burning coal, and that means greenhouse gas emissions.”

Yet, there are troubling concessions being made that are utterly misleading…

“Each manufacturer can count its first 200,000 EVs, fuel cell vehicles and the electric portion of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles produced in model years 2012-2016 as “zero emissions.”

“Several of the major automakers had urged the EPA to keep the “zero-emissions” label permanent, in part to raise consumer confidence in a relatively new type of vehicle.”

This, on the part of auto manufacturers, is disturbing, disingenuous, dishonest and frankly, I repeat, UTTERLY MISLEADING.

And to one of my new colleagues, Arno Evers, Mr. Hydrogen of Munich, Germany, who is well-versed with the California Fuel Cell Partnership, CAFCP.org, and in complete agreement with my assertions, I went on to say…

I took a recent look at the California Fuel Cell Partnership web site, to find out if they have been successful at moving away from the reforming of hydrocarbon fuel as the input, and closer to electrolyzing water for hydrogen production in an effort to move toward closing the zero emissions loop. I located this: http://www.cafcp.org/hydrogen-station-configuration

Other stations use electrolyzers and solar panels to make hydrogen from water and electricity. Electrolyzers look like commercial refrigerators and are attached to the water line. The equipment to produce, compress and store the hydrogen can be on the forecourt or on the canopy. Solar panels are connected to the grid, producing electricity for the utility during daylight hours, then the electrolyzer “buys back” the electricity to make hydrogen at night, when the demand”and rates are lower. Currently available electrolyzers can make enough fuel for up to 50 vehicles a day.

And this is promising, but I can’t help but think the efficiency is still low and not financially feasible. We have to start somewhere, yes? http://cafcp.org/site-electrolysis

Several stations in California produce fuel on site through electrolysis, using solar or wind energy. It’s one way to meet California’s regulation SB1505 that requires 33% of hydrogen for transportation be produced from renewable sources.

The station pictured is a Shell station in West Los Angeles. The electrolyzer, compressor and storage tank are on the roof of the canopy, maximizing space at the station.

Also, the CAFCP trial with buses has been successful, such that second phase deploying more transit buses in the SF Bay Area (Alameda County Transit, Santa Clara VTA) and SunLine Transit Agency in SoCal was invoked in 2008.

The third phase of the program, which starts in 2010, will put 16 fuel cell buses in operation under the aforementioned transit routine and will include four additional transit agencies; Golden Gate Transit, San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency (SF MTA), San Mateo County Transit (SamTrans), and the City of Burbank.

And so it goes. I sent a letter to Nissan, raising my concern about how they are not being completely up-front about the Zero Emissions moniker they aspire to attach to the LEAF. Well, I’ll give Nissan credit. My inquiry did not fall into a ‘black hole.’ Here’s a response, that I already thoroughly challenged. You can see integrity is undeniably not one of their stronger suits. If they are going to tout this as Zero Emissions, they should offer crystal clear clarity, it is a “Zero Emissions vehicle from the tailpipe on”, in their copy on their web site and in all their marketing prose–there IS a difference.

Dear Kimberly King,

Thank you for taking the time to personally contact us about your interest in the Nissan Electric Vehicle.

How can this the LEAF be tagged a Zero Emissions vehicle if the batteries are not charged from a station that only delivers electrons strictly from renewable energy generation? Isn’t this an untruth and just more greenwashing?

We apologize for any confusion. The Nissan LEAF is a zero emission vehicle because it does not emit any pollution to move the vehicle forward. Yes, the electricity used to charge the Nissan LEAF’s battery pack could create emissions depending on its source. Refining oil to create gasoline also creates emissions, and then once in an internal combustion engine vehicle gasoline creates emissions in order to propel the vehicle forward.

Please note that the “grid” is 60 percent cleaner than gasoline, even when it’s energy source is “dirty.” And unlike gasoline, which will retain the same properties over time, the electrical grid, like the auto industry – is working to become cleaner, tapping into alternative forms of power such as wind, or solar. Besides the efficiency of an electric engine is much higher than an internal combustion engine (an electric car can drive around 60km with the energy equivalent to 1 liter of gasoline) having a huge impact on the energy consumption.

Rest assured that we are not greenwashing. The Nissan LEAF is a 100% electric, zero emissions vehicle. Please contact us if you require further assistance in this matter.

We appreciate your time, and encourage you to share our contact details with friends and family. For your convenience, we can be reached:

By return email.
Through our website at www.nissanusa.com
By phone at 877-664-2738.
We’re here to serve you from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (CST) Monday through Friday and 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (CST) on Saturday

Nissan EV Customer Support
1-877 NO GAS EV (664-2738)

Bottom line: I cannot and will not capitulate to Nissan’s zero emissions reasoning put forth. Arno and I strongly believe, we can only proceed in telling the truth. And acting with high ethics…