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Archive for June, 2009

Deputy Transportation Secretary John Porcari Breaks Ground on Project Funded by the Recovery Act in Wisconsin

Posted by autotran on June 9, 2009

Washington, DC – U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation John Porcari, along with Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle, broke ground today on the County Trunk Highway G Interchange construction project in Racine County, Wisconsin. The project, which received $19.6 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds, is currently the largest ARRA-funded project in the state.

“This project is what the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is all about,”said Deputy Secretary Porcari. “It’s about putting Americans back to work as soon as possible, on projects that make a real difference in the quality of life for the folks who live and work in the area. Working together, we’re going to keep the Wisconsin economy moving, bring relief to middle class families, and improve transportation for the nation.”

“One of the best ways we can position Wisconsin for long-term growth is by investing today in the infrastructure that makes our cities and towns prosperous tomorrow,” said Governor Doyle. “A quality transportation system serves as the foundation of our state’s economy. And good roads are an extremely valuable economic asset that can play a vital role in determining where a business will locate or expand.”

Brandon Nesler, site Foreman on the Highway G project, was laid off from his construction job last year after 16 years of service. After several months of unemployment, Mr. Nesler was hired by Relyco, Inc., to oversee grading work on the recovery project.

“Whenever the government spends money to create work for people that are willing to strap on boots, pack a lunch and go to work, it’s a good thing,”said Mr. Nesler. “We need it; the state needs it; and so do all these men and women.”



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Mitsubishi launched electric car

Posted by autotran on June 5, 2009

Looking to gain an early lead in the emission-free vehicle market, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. Friday launched a compact, 4-door electric car that it will market in Japan to corporate customers starting in late July.

The lithium-ion battery powered i-MiEV, which can travel 160km (kilometers) (99.2 miles) on a single charge, is the 1st step into the eco-friendly car market by the small Tokyo-based auto maker better known for its brawny SUVs like the Pajero.

By bringing its electric car to market this year, Mitsubishi is hoping to gain a lead over Nissan Motor Co., Japan’s 3rd largest auto maker by sales volume, which plans to mass market its own electric vehicle starting in 2010.

But sales volume will be small. Mitsubishi expects to sell 1,400 vehicles in Japan in the fiscal year ending March 2010, raising sales to 5,000 vehicles next fiscal year when it starts individual sales in Japan. Worldwide, Mitsubishi plans to ship i-MiEV in limited quantities to the U.K., New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore starting this year. It has also agreed to supply i-MiEVs to PSA Peugeot Citroen SA in late 2010 or early 2011.By 2020, Mitsubishi says its expects electric vehicles will make up 20 percentages of its overall production volume.

For now, Mitsubishi’s ambitions are constrained by its production capacity and by the high cost of electric vehicles. Mitsubishi plans to produce about 2,000 electric cars in the fiscal year ending March 2010, ramping up to 30,000 vehicles by 2013, as its lithium-ion battery production operations are expanded at Lithium Energy Japan, a joint venture run by Mitsubishi, G.S Yuasa Corp. and Mitsubishi Corp. Nissan, which is putting the finishing touches on its own lithium ion battery plant outside Tokyo, plans to roll out 50,000 electric cars in the 1st year of production.

With a 4.59 million yen price tag, i-MiEV may also struggle to find buyers during the worst recession to hit Japan since World War II. Mitsubishi is counting on generous government incentives to stimulate the market for the vehicles. The national government is currently offering subsidies of up to 1.39 million yen on “clean energy” vehicles like i-MiEV. Some local governments are also offering additional subsidies that could bring the price of i-MiEV down to as low as 2.2 million yen.
Still, many auto makers and analysts remain skeptical of the potential for large scale sales of electric cars because of their limited range and the need to build more recharging stations to support them.

The Mitsubishi Motors Corp. i MiEV (Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle)

The Mitsubishi Motors Corp. i MiEV (Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle)

Mitsubishi is selling its electric car to corporate customers in Japan first in order to allow more time for local governments and businesses to set up more recharging stations around the country to support electric car drivers.

Mitsubishi, however, is confident that the Japanese government’s commitment to promoting electric vehicles through various incentives will help the market here grow substantially. By 2020, the Japanese government expects next generation eco-cars like electric vehicles, hybrids and plug-in electric vehicles, powered by both batteries and gas, will make up half of all new car sales.


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The electric sports car – Tesla Roadster review

Posted by autotran on June 5, 2009

The electric sports car is one of the stars of this year’s London Motorexpo.

The electric sports car is one of the stars of this year's London Motorexpo.

The electric sports car is one of the stars of this year's London Motorexpo.

It is a shame the Lucy Clayton Finishing School for young ladies are no longer in Knightsbridge. I understand they used to have a wooden door and car seat combo for teaching "the right sort of gel" to origami in and out of low-slung automotive exotica with dignity intact. Opening on June 25, the UK showroom for Tesla’s remarkable all-electric Roadster is right around the corner, and having just crumpled behind the wheel with all the dignity of a pantomime horse toppling into an orchestra pit, I could really use a lesson.

It is entirely apposite that the previous victim of my panzer approach to sports car access should have been an Elise, because Lotus and Tesla have much in common. Wishing to establish a performance DNA for its all-electric power train, Tesla took exactly 8 seconds to recognize that the Elise’s all-aluminums and glass-fibre construction offers just the required lightness to ping the Roadster at the horizon with all the alacrity of a bullet fired from a gun that steadfastly refuses to go “BANG”.

In the engine bay lurks a 248bhp electric motor no larger than the size of a KFC family bucket, 6,831 painstakingly temperature-controlled lithium-ion batteries and an electronic power-management system with the IQ of a small planet. By conventional, internal-combustion standards, this is the world’s simplest power train. Two bearings constitute the sum of motor moving parts subject to wear and tear, there’s only one forward gear and maximum torque of 276lb ft is delivered from a standstill…..

Thus armed, the Tesla will shift silently from 0 to 60mph in 3.9 seconds and on to a governed top speed of about 130mph. Claimed maximum range is some 220 miles, with a full charge taking 16 hours, or 4 if you happen to have a 3-phase generator lying around. The harder you use it, though, the shorter the range.

Flick it into drive; remove foot from brake and the Tesla creeps just like any other automatic. There’s no power assistance to the helm but, to be honest, I never really noticed, not even in Knightsbridge. And the only real difference to driving a standard automatic in town is that you rarely seem to need the brakes. The retarding effect of a motor that serves as a generator to recharge the battery is so strong that for the first few miles I find myself inadvertently stopping well short in traffic, and then driving up to the car in front.
The other difference, of course, is the notable absence of noise – all you can hear is the sound of a very small executive jet taxiing beneath the bodywork. Ironically, however, settled at lorry exhaust height in traffic, there’s so much of a racket going on that the benefits of silence are completely lost?

Tesla Roadster review

Tesla Roadster review

Stamp your foot to the floor when pottering at 30mph and the result is little short of astonishing. The Tesla belts away with the seamless surge of a catapult launch, leaving you feeling almost short-changed at the absence of commensurate bellow. The ride is, however, rather more crash-bang than Lotus’s legendary blend of supple, subtle and taut. Maybe it’s the added weight. Despite entirely carbon-fibre couture, the Tesla is a good deal heavier than an Elise and, yes, you certainly do feel the effects of 300 bags of sugar stowed behind your head.

Once you get over having spent £90,000 on a car without an exhaust pipe, the range issue remains a problem. If this is ever to be anything other than a rich man’s toy, it will have to be addressed. Don’t get me wrong: 200 miles allied to this performance is little short of astonishing for an all-electric car, and the average commute won’t constitute a problem. That said, could you commute comfortably in a Lotus?

Fact is, if I wish to coax my popsy any real distance for a filthy weekend, we will be setting out on Wednesday and returning on Tuesday – the frequent overnight stops required for a 16-hour recharge are somewhat more taxing than the Tesla’s toothbrush and squishy grip luggage capacity.

Only 30 per cent of the energy generated by a combustion engine actually drives a car, compared with 85 per cent of that generated by an electric motor, and – assuming a fossil-fuel power station generates your electricity – the Roadster effectively returns CO2 emissions of just 63g/km and an overnight recharge costs less than £5 of cheap-rate electricity, so the Tesla still constitutes a huge step in an interesting direction. Daimler certainly thinks so and, eager to benefit from the unprecedented efficiency of Silicon Valley’s battery- and power-management technology, has recently acquired a 10 per cent stake in the company.

Moreover, with the impending Model S, a four-door saloon with a 300-mile range and a recharging time of as little as 45 minutes, Tesla is quick to point out that, in the context of a clear century of combustion engine development, it isn’t exactly dragging its heels.


  • Price/availability: £90,000. On sale June 25
  • Tested: Tesla Roadster, 375v AC electric motor powered by lithium-ion battery pack, one forward gear
  • Power/Torque: 248bhp@8,000rpm/276lb ft@0rpm
  • Speed top Level: 130mph
  • Acceleration: 0-62mph in 3.9sec
  • Fuel Economy: N/A
  • CO2 Emissions: N/A (63g/km well to wheel)
  • VED Band: A (£0)
  • The Verdict: Extraordinary. Needs an interior to match the engine-bay technology
  • Alternatives: Not really. But there’s a wealth of quick cars out there for 90 grand


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Disaster Assistance Grants Awarded to States to Cover Costs of Railroad Emergency Repairs Following Natural Disasters

Posted by autotran on June 1, 2009

Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo today announced the award of $15 million to nine states for emergency repairs to damaged railroad infrastructure resulting from natural disasters.

Funding from the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) Railroad Rehabilitation and Repair Program (RRRP) will go to state Departments of Transportation to reimburse short line and regional railroads for the cost of repairs.

“Freight railroads are critical to local economies and we are committed to helping them restore rail service after a major disruption,” said Szabo. “This funding will help the carriers defray repair costs and keep the trains running.”

Funds awarded under the RRRP can cover up to 80 percent of the total cost of a selected project, with the remainder to be provided from non-federal sources. Grants may be used to repair bridges, signals and other infrastructure which are part of the general rail transportation system. The grant recipients are as follows:

Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities

* Flood repair for the Alaska Railroad – $637,440
* Flood repair for the Alaska Railroad – $945,680

Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department

* Emergency repairs to Missouri and Northern Arkansas Railroad – $737,292
Illinois Department of Transportation

* Flood control on the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad – $569,700

Kansas Department of Transportation

* Repair of flood damage to the Gorilla Subdivision on the South Kansas & Oklahoma Railroad – $405,702

FRA 03-09

Indiana Department of Transportation

* Flood damage repair on the Indiana Southern Railroad – $1,244,217

Iowa Department of Transportation

* Flood damage restoration to rebuild a bridge and repair signals on the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Railway – $6,965,163

* Flood damage restoration for the Keokuk Junction Railway Yard – $459,200

* Replacement of the Waterloo Bridge over the Cedar River for the Iowa Northern Railway – $2,174,880

Missouri Department of Transportation

* Flood damage repair on Missouri & Northern Arkansas Railroad – $353,600

North Carolina Department of Transportation

* Repair of washouts and debris removal On the Carolina Coastal Railway – $11,101

Wisconsin Department of Transportation

* Repair of flood damage and washouts on the Wisconsin & Southern Railroad – $354,006

Under the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2009, FRA was authorized to make $20 million available for grants to repair and rehabilitate railroad infrastructure damaged in areas declared by the President as a major disaster.

The FRA intends to issue another solicitation for the remaining $5 million in funds through a Notice of Funding Availability to be published in the Federal Register that will be available on a competitive basis.

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