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NEWS - AMERICAS Shell & Toyota to open seven hydrogen stations in CaliforniA Shell and Toyota are partnering to add seven new hydrogen fuelling stations in California as both companies look to make plans for a petrol free future. The announcement is part of California’s zero emission vehicles and greenhouse gas reduction campaign, with an expected 100 retail hydrogen stations to be in place by 2024. The California Energy Commission has selected 15 new hydrogen stations for up to $31.7m in combined funding, and one connector station project for up to $1.5m in funding. Seven of the stations are coming from the Shell and Toyota project, and the remaining eight will be placed by First Element Fuel. For Toyota, manufacturing the Mirai fuel cell car and supporting hydrogen stations is part of its strategy to stop making traditional-engine models by 2050. Shell says that it sees oil demand and production diminishing. While being interviewed in November, Shell CFO Simon Henry said that demand is expected to peak in about five years. Shell has seven hydrogen stations in place – four in Germany, two in Los Angeles and one that opened recently near London’s Heathrow Airport. VW subsidiary invests $2 billion to promote ElectriC Volkswagen has formed a new subsidiary to manage the $2 billion it is required to spend over the next decade in support of zero-emission vehicles in the U.S. The company, Electrify America, will invest in the construction and maintenance of electric vehicle charging stations, including a “highspeed, cross-country” network of more than 200 fast-charging stations for electric cars. It will also install more than 300 chargers in 15 U.S. metropolitan areas and fund “brand-neutral” advertising campaigns to promote awareness about electric cars. VW agreed to spend the money on infrastructure and other projects to promote zero-emission vehicles as part of a legal settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency following the emissions scandal. Smart to drop gasoline power in favour of electric Mercedes-Benz says it’s refocusing the smart brand in North America on EVs, and will discontinue the gasoline version of the tiny fortwo two-seater. Mercedes-Benz’s smart brand will be electric-only in North America as of this summer, when it introduces the fourth-generation fortwo Electric Drive city car without a gasoline-powered counterpart. Mercedes’ parent company Daimler wants to refocus smart’s operations in the U.S. and Canada in the wake of slowing sales it blames on the cheap gasoline that’s fueling interest in SUVs and crossovers. That effectively cuts smart’s portfolio in half in the region leaving just coupe and cabriolet versions of the fortwo electric city car in the brand’s showrooms. Smart broke the news to its dealers in a letter in which Mercedes-Benz CEO Dietmar Exler told them the decision was precipitated by “developments within the micro-car segment (that have presented) some challenges for the current smart product portfolio.” The gasoline fortwo will remain in production for North America until April, though all existing vehicles will remain available for sale. Benz will continue selling the full range of smart vehicles in other markets, like Europe. Palm Springs gas station gets historic status A Palm Springs fuel station has been recognised as a historic site by the Palm Springs City Council. North Palm Canyon Fuel, also known as the Tram Way Shell Gas Station by local historical boards, has been added to the ranks of the city’s notable, historic properties after being voted as a designated class-one historic site. Owner Yousef Sobhy said that he wasn’t necessarily opposed to the historic designation, but that he didn’t want it to prevent him from renovating and modernizing the station in the future. “I don’t mind designation, but let me do what I need to do to build up the business,” he said, adding that he wanted to remodel the station to make it more aesthetically appealing to customers. “I’m embarrassed to say that’s my station,” he added. Chevron´s fuel stations in Hawaii rebrand as Texaco Island Energy has begun with the rebranding of Chevron stations in Hawaii to Texaco. Three Chevron gas stations in Honolulu and one in Kapolei were the first to convert to the Texaco brand after Island Energy Services purchased Chevron´s distribution and retail assets in November of last year. The remaining Chevron sites are expected to change brand by the end of this year. Island Energy, a subsidiary of New York-based equity firm One Rock Capital Partners and Texaco´s Hawaii licensor, acquired the Chevron assets for an estimated $120 million, according to Biz Journals. Six die in Mexico protests over 20 per cent fuel price hike At least six people were killed and 1,500 arrested during days of protests throughout January in Mexico against a rise in the price of petrol. One of those killed was a serving police officer who had tried to halt robberies at a petrol station. The government announced last month that it would stop subsidising petrol and prices would gradually increase through 2017. An increase of 20% came into force on 1 January causing protests across the country. It brought the price of a litre of petrol to 18 pesos. That makes the average price of a gallon of petrol around the same as the daily minimum wage - 80 pesos - and the raise has caused outrage among people dependent on petrol for their jobs. President Enrique Pena Nieto has called for calm, saying the price hike is necessary after a rise in global oil prices. In a televised address to the nation, he said keeping the subsidy would have put the country’s whole economy at risk. He said raising the petrol price was a “difficult and unpopular but necessary decision”. Traffic ground to a halt in Mexico City as transport workers and lorry drivers set up blockades and hundreds of shops were looted by protesters. Drugs cartels also threatened to take action announcing that they would target fuel stations who failed to lower prices. erpecnews is published by McLean Events, Conferences and Media Ltd. 15


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