Auto briefs: Bamboo, zero emission trucking, charging corridor

The use of bamboo in vehicle design, an effort to utilize fuel cells in heavy duty trucks, and a series of fast charging stations along the I-95 corridor in the Northeast were among the items promoted by automakers recently.

  • Ford says it is experimenting with using bamboo as a component in its new vehicles. The automaker says the material is strong, flexible, renewable, and fast-growing, and that it outperforms other synthetic and natural fibers when combined with plastic. Bamboo could be included in both vehicle interiors as well as a component of plastic parts. Ford says it already uses several sustainable materials in its vehicle production, including recycled plastic bottles for wheel liners and carpeting, post-consumer tires for seals and gaskets, and rice hulls to reinforce plastic in the F-150's electrical harness.
  • Following up on its development of its fuel cell Mirai model, Toyota is working to bring the same technology to heavy duty trucks. The automaker recently announced "Project Portal," which will study the feasibility of using trucks powered by fuel cells for operations at the Port of Los Angeles. Toyota has created a truck with two fuel cell stacks capable of producing 670 horsepower and 1,325 pound feet of torque, with an estimated driving range of 200 miles per fill during normal port operations. The feasibility study will be conducted this summer and will contribute to the port's Clean Air Action Plan to reduce emissions.
  • Nissan announced at the New York International Auto Show that it is partnering with the EVgo electric vehicle charging network to install nine new fast charging locations along the I-95 corridor between Boston and Washington, D.C. The nine sites include a total of 50 charging stations, with each site capable of charging four or more vehicles at once. The initial power output is 50 kilowatts, but the sites have been designed to support upgrades up to 150 kilowatts. The charging stations will be open in the autumn and include a number of sites in Connecticut.

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