The Green Car Innovation Fund summarised

On Friday the 6th of February 2009 I attended a one of the Green Car Innovation Fund (GCIF) consultation sessions being held around Australia. My motivation for attending was primarily to find out how the Fund was going to work and to try to get an idea of the impact of the fund on the Australian car industry.

First, a little background. The Green Car Innovation Fund Framework Paper was released in December 2008 for public comment. The Government is inviting written submissions from interested parties in the Framework Paper. The closing date for written submissions is 5:00pm (Canberra Time) on Thursday, 12 February 2009. Submissions can be sent to:

The Manager
Green Car Innovation Fund

The stated objective of the GCIF is to reduce vehicle fuel consumption or greenhouse gas emissions by enhancing research and development (R&D) and commercialisation of Australian technologies. It is only applicable to the car industry. Technologies for trucks, buses and motorcycles are not within scope. Nor is anything to do with alternative fuel infrastructure. The GCIF provides $1.3 billion in grants over 10 years beginning in July 2009. That said, Holden and Toyota have already been drinking at the well with their small car and hybrid Camry initiatives to the tune of $149 million and $35 million respectively. The funding is planned to be provided on a $1 for $3 basis.  This ratio may change as a result of the consultation sessions. Most agreed that 1 for 3  was useful for large companies but it was not practical for smaller companies and start-ups.

Grants will be allocated on a competitive basis and are open to all Australian companies or individuals willing for form a company. The funding is available via two steams.

  • Stream A is for the Motor Vehicle Producers (MVP) (Ford, Holden and Toyota). Each MVP will have access to a maximum of $300 million.
  • Stream B is open to all Australian companies, consortia or individuals not included in Stream A. A MVP can be part of a consortium in Stream B but it can’t be the lead applicant.

Importantly, despite the Stream A cap per MVP, there is no defined split in the funds available to Stream A and Stream B. The goal is to provide funding to those technologies that will provide the best results. More on that later.

Funded projects must be undertaken in Australia and directly relate to the creation, acquisition, application or commercialisation of knowledge, technology, processes, materials or products which:

  • are new or additional to the applicant
  • significantly improve the fuel-efficiency or greenhouse gas emissions of passenger motor vehicles

Technology can be acquired Internationally and adapted to use in Australia.

The GCIF will support:

  • R&D
  • Proof-of-concept
  • Early stage commercialisation
  • Pre-production development

The criteria against which applications will be judged are:

  • reduction in fuel consuption or greenhouse gas emissions
  • technical merit, extent and calibre of the innovation
  • capacity and capability of the applicant to undertake the project
  • commercial potential
  • contribution to a competitive Australian automotive industry and benefits to the economy

All the criteria seem logical but the most interesting thing I got from the presentation was the emphasis on that last point. While the fund is looking to reduce the fuel consumption or greenhouse gas emissions by 10 – 15  percent against the status quo baseline it is also heavily biased towards creating jobs, improving workforce skill sets, providing benefits to suppliers and growing the automotive industry in Australia. In hindsight that is obvious but I guess I went in thinking the Federal Government might actually be focussed on improving the products from our car industry to give local consumers better products and make the vehicles more competitive in export markets. It seems they are as long as that improvement comes with the creation of more jobs. Further information can be found on the GCIF web site.

An interesting aspect to the presentation that I wasn’t expecting was a politician and an inventor using the opportunity to address those assembled to seek support for their individual projects.

Source: Department of Innovation & AusIndustry presentation


CNG conversions for Australian fleet vehicles

In this announcement on the International Association for Natural Gas Vehicles (NVG Global) web site we learn that Melbourne based Advanced Fuels Technology (AFT) has successfully developed CNG fuel systems for Toyota 4 cylinder 2.7 litre and 6 cylinder 4.0 litre engines and for the 6 cylinder Ford Territory engine.

According to NVG Global the strategy at AFT is to develop Type Approved CNG engine technology for the most common fleet vehicles in Australia. AFT has plans to have 10 engine systems developed and approved for use in Australia in the next 12 months.

UK to get 250 EV recharging points by March ’08

We know that EDF Energy and Toyota have teamed with the goal of setting up infrastructure for plug-in hybrid electric vehicle recharging (previous post). Now EDF Energy has joined forces with Elektromotive, manufacturers of recharging bays for electric vehicles, to providing 250 Elektrobay recharging systems to UK councils by 31 March 2008. Their aim is to make EVs more user-friendly and help people reduce the impact their driving has on the environment.

Elektrobay recharging system

Councils that have committed to installing the charging posts include Sheffield Borough Council, Islington Borough Council, Camden Council and Lambeth Council.

Peter Thorn, Head of Innovation and Partnerships at EDF Energy comments:

As concern for the environment grows, motorists are no longer only interested in what their car looks like, or how fast it can go. The research shows that drivers are increasingly demanding transport options that don’t have such a detrimental effect on the world we live in.

EDF Energy recognises the role EVs can play in helping reduce the 85 million tonnes of CO2 our motor vehicles emit each year, which is why we’ve joined forces with Elektromotive to call on local councils to help make these vehicles a more viable alternative for motorists in the UK.

Source: EDF Energy via Gizmodo

Desert Trek report released – 11,000km on vegetable oil

In a previous post we told you about the 11,000km trek across Australia that Alex Thorogood and Chris Lanham were undertaking in a Toyota Hilux running on vegetable oil.

Desert Trek Hilux

Alex and Chris have returned from their successful journey and have published a report that shows how their vegetable oil system works and highlights some of the successes and failures they encountered along the way. If you are thinking of running a diesel on vegetable oil you can learn a lot from what Alex and Chris experienced on their journey across Northern Australia.

A number of Envirofuel readers have been eagerly awaiting this report so we really appreciate the fact that Alex has personally notified Envirofuel that it has been published. We look forward to the next veggie oil adventure!

More information on the Desert Trek can be found by following the Desert Trek links on the Energy-Wise web site.

Source: Alex Thorogood


Toyota hydrogen fuel cell vehicle completes long distance test

Toyota announced that an improved version of its FCHV fuel cell hybrid vehicle successfully completed a 560 km road test today by traveling from Osaka to Tokyo on a single fueling of hydrogen. The entire trip was completed with the air conditioner on and with no need to stop for refueling.

Toyota FCHV-5

The FCHV used in the trip is 25% more fuel efficient than earlier versions, due to improvements in the high-performance Toyota FC Stack fuel cell and to improvements in the control system for managing fuel cell output and battery charging/discharging. It also features 70Mpa high-pressure hydrogen tanks capable of storing approximately twice the amount of hydrogen as the previous FCHV’s 35Mpa high-pressure hydrogen tanks. These improvements make it possible to achieve a single-fueling cruising distance of approximately 750km.

FCHV Test Vehicle Specifications

  • Overall length/width/height (mm): 4,735/1,815/1,685
  • Weight: 1,880 kg
  • Seating capacity: 5


  • Maximum speed: 155 km/h

Fuel cell

  • Name: Toyota FC Stack
  • Type: Polymer electrolyte
  • Output: 90 kW


  • Type: Permanent magnet
  • Maximum power: 90 kW
  • Maximum torque: 260 Nm


  • Type: Hydrogen
  • Storage system: High-pressure hydrogen storage tanks
  • Maximum storage pressure: 70 MPa


  • Type: Nickel-metal hydride

Source: JCN Newswire