Recharge Wrap-up: 2017 RFS requirements set, Seattle's hybrid ambulances

GKN Driveline supplies eAxle for BMW X1 plug-in hybrid.

The EPA has finalized its annual renewable fuel volume requirements as part of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The total renewable fuel requirement to be blended into the national supply of gasoline and diesel has been raised from 18.11 billion gallons to 19.28 billion gallons a year. For 2017, the RFS will include a target of 15 billion gallons of "conventional" renewable fuels (think ethanol). Advanced biofuels (with a required 50-percent decrease in lifecycle carbon emissions) increase from 2.88 to 3.61 gallons. Biomass-based biodiesel (with 50 percent less greenhouse gas emissions) increases by 100 million gallons to 2.0 billion, with a target of 2.1 billion gallons for 2018. Cellulosic biofuel (with 60-percent greenhouse gas emissions reductions) jumps 35 percent to 311 million gallons. Read more from the EPA.

The Seattle Fire Department is now using hybrid ambulances. The Ford E-450 ambulances have been retrofitted with the XL3 Hybrid Electric Drive System from XL Hybrids, resulting in a 23-percent improvement in fuel economy over nine months of driving so far. Furthermore, the ambulances' CO2 emissions have dropped by 19 percent, helping toward the city's Drive Clean Seattle program to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2025. Seattle is pleased with the results so far, and is ordering more retrofitted vehicles from XL Hybrids, including Ford Transit vans for the Seattle Department of Public Utilities. Read more in the press release from XL Hybrids.

GKN Driveline is supplying its eAxle electric axle to BMW for the X1 plug-in hybrid for the Chinese market. The expansion of the GKN's all-wheel-drive program follows use of the same family of eAxles in the 2 Series Active Tourer 225xe. It also signals an evolution of the technology from sports cars like the BMW i8 to what GKN Driveline CEO Phil Swash calls, "the new wave of plug-in hybrids with electric AWD." The eAxle system produces up to 1,475 lb-ft of torque and 94 horsepower, allowing for viable all-electric driving, and faster AWD acceleration. Read more in the press release from GKN Driveline.

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