More carmakers caught in headlights of VW engine-rigging scandal

More carmakers caught in headlights of VW engine-rigging scandal
Volkswagen has admitted it installed illegal software into 11 million 2.0 liter and 3.0 liter diesel engines worldwide (AFP Photo/Josh Edelson)

Volkswagen emissions scandal

Missing MH370 likely to have disintegrated mid-flight: experts

Missing MH370 likely to have disintegrated mid-flight: experts
A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 commercial jet.

QZ8501 (AirAsia)

Leaders see horror of French Alps crash as probe gathers pace

"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

Friday, September 15, 2017

Modi, Abe get India's first bullet train going as ties deepen

Yahoo – AFP, Jalees ANDRABI, September 13, 2017

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japan's Shinzo Abe shake hands in front
of a Shinkansen bullet train during a 2016 meeting in Kobe (AFP Photo/JIJI PRESS)

New Delhi (AFP) - As India's premier Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe prepare to break ground on the country's first bullet train project Thursday, experts say the collaboration could signal a massive leap for its overburdened and deadly railways.

India's colonial-era rail network carries some 22 million passengers daily, making it one of the busiest in the world. But it is also among the most dangerous.

A government report published in 2012 said almost 15,000 people were killed every year in rail accidents, describing the deaths as an annual "massacre" due mainly to poor safety standards.

Modi has pledged to invest billions of dollars to modernise the country's crumbling railway infrastructure, which is plagued by delays, and the bullet train was one of his key election promises ahead of a landslide victory in 2014.

As New Delhi and Tokyo seek to forge closer ties to combat China's growing regional influence, the project offers a diplomatic and economic boost.

The premiers will lay the foundation for the bullet train network in the western city of Ahmedabad -- connecting Modi's home state of Gujarat with India's financial capital Mumbai.

Japan is a pioneer in high-speed rail transport -- with its Shinkansen bullet train ranked among the fastest in the world.

With projected top speeds of up to 350 kilometres (217 miles) an hour -- more than double the maximum speed offered by the fastest trains operating in India -- it will reduce travel time between the two cities from eight hours to at most three-and-a-half hours.

The new train, which will have a capacity of 750 passengers, is also expected to be safer than the country's creaking rail network, the world's fourth largest by distance.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (right) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi 
visit Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad, on September 13, 2017 (AFP Photo/
PRAKASH SINGH)

'Balance China's hegemony'

Modi recently replaced his railway minister after a series of derailments, including one last month in which at least 23 people were killed in northern Uttar Pradesh state. Nearly 150 died in a similar accident in November.

The agreement for the 508-kilometre network was signed in 2016, with plans to make it operational by December 2023.

Nearly 85 percent of the total project cost of $19 billion will be provided by Tokyo in soft loans, with repayment over 50 years.

Abe's visit to Ahmedabad comes ahead of Modi's 67th birthday on Sunday and many have dubbed it as part of his practice of "birthday diplomacy".

The right-wing Hindu nationalist leader hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping in Gujarat on his birthday in 2014.

"India's relation with Japan is designed to balance China's hegemony," Rajrishi Singhal, a Mumbai-based independent policy consultant, told AFP.

India's crumbling rail infrastructure is in desperate need of modernisation, with 
a report in 2012 describing the 15,000 deaths on the network each year as a 
'massacre' (AFP Photo)

The two countries have close security ties and hold regular joint military exercises.

A proposed joint investment of billions of dollars in Africa is set to be the cornerstone of the relationship, Singhal said.

"India truly values the relationship with Japan and we look forward to further boosting our bilateral ties in a wide range of sectors," Modi tweeted Tuesday.

There are more than 1,500 Japanese companies in India, including auto major Suzuki, the largest car maker in the country.

The success of Suzuki and others transformed India's auto industry, which employs millions today.

Experts are pinning similar hopes on the bullet train project.

"Just like Suzuki changed India's car market and brought millions of jobs, the bullet train will change the entire industry," Singhal said.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

With fossil fuel bans, e-cars shift into higher gear

Yahoo – AFP, Tangi QUEMENER, September 11, 2017

Chinese companies are betting big on electric cars, like the 'LeSEE' concept car
internet company LeEco Holdings Ltd unveiled in last year. (AFP Photo/STR)

Frankfurt am Main (AFP) - Beijing's announcement that it is considering joining France and Britain in banning petrol and diesel cars from its smog-clogged roads promises to accelerate a push towards electric vehicles -- a race in which Chinese carmakers have everything to gain.

As the global auto industry braces for a shake up, here's what you need to know.

What's it all about?

While France and Britain have said they plan to outlaw sales of new diesel and petrol cars by 2040, Beijing has not yet set a date for its proposed ban.

But if China, the world's largest car market, turns its back on fossil-fuel powered cars, it could change the auto industry forever.

With annual sales of some 24 million vehicles, China is home to one in every four new cars on the planet. By 2024, analysts at AlixPartners forecast sales will climb to 42 million annually, accounting for 36 percent of the global market.

By comparison, France and Britain each record sales of some two million new cars per year.

"If China says no more ICE (internal combustion engine), the rest of the world will follow because the rest of the world can't lose China's market. It's too big," says Bill Russo, managing director of Gao Feng Advisory Group in Shanghai.

The mooted driving bans promise to be a hot topic of discussion at the Frankfurt International Motor Show (IAA) this week, Europe's top industry showcase.

What does it mean for carmakers in China?

By law, foreign carmakers are required to team up with Chinese companies if they want to do business in the country.

With China also mulling quotas for electric vehicles -- another move that could jolt the industry, traditional auto giants from Europe, the United States and Japan have no time to waste in expanding their ranges of hybrid and electric cars, experts say.

The benefit from electric cars will depend in part how electricity is generated. 
(AFP Photo/FRED DUFOUR)

"European carmakers will have to step up their efforts in electric vehicles if they don't want to be chased out of the market, because their current offerings are insufficient," says analyst Stefan Bratzel, head of Germany's Center of Automotive Management.

Electric cars only account for 1.7 percent of total sales in China at the moment, but spurred by government incentives the figure has been growing steadily and could skyrocket in coming years.

Chinese carmakers have bet big on the cleaner engines of the future, and account for 96 percent of electric vehicles sold in the country -- compared to a market share of just 43 percent in the traditional car sector.

Anticipating the industry revolution, Chinese firms already dominate the production of electric motors and batteries. "This poses a real problem for the European industry," says Laurent Petizon of AlixPartners.

The era of the combustion engine "will end on a time schedule where China can assure itself that its own domestic carmakers are capable of delivering the solution they would like to see on the road," Russo predicts.

Is this good news for the environment?

Not necessarily. While pedestrians and cyclists in pollution-plagued mega-cities may breathe easier around the purring of electric cars, how 'green' the vehicles are depends on how clean the manufacturing process was.

In China, fossil fuel plants with their climate-altering carbon emissions still power the bulk of the country's factories.

Promising to clean up its act, the government has said it wants 20 percent of Chinese power consumption to come from low-emission energy by 2030, up from 11 percent currently.

In France, which derives 75 percent of its energy from nuclear power, a massive switch towards electric cars would theoretically translate in a significant reduction of harmful carbon emissions.

Any electric car boom will also bring scrutiny to the environmental footprint of battery production, from the extraction of raw materials like lithium to the complex recycling of toxic components.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Daimler to offer electrified versions of all Mercedes 'by 2022'

Yahoo – AFP,  11 September 2017

Every Daimler will have its electric or hybrid version

The world's largest luxury carmaker Daimler plans to offer an electric or hybrid version of every Mercedes-Benz model within five years, its chief executive said Monday.

"By 2022, we'll have the entire Mercedes-Benz product portfolio in electrified version as well, to offer a maximum of choices for our consumers," CEO Dieter Zetsche told investors. "The time is right."

Daimler's announcement comes as the IAA international car show gets underway in Frankfurt this week, where more than 200 new cars will have their world premiere.

The change will mean more than 50 vehicles bearing the Mercedes three-pointed star boast all-electric or hybrid drive.

With ever-more-capacious batteries and falling costs, it was "realistic to expect that by 2025, an electric driveline could be in the range of the cost of a combustion engine driveline," Zetsche said.

Meanwhile, Daimler will only offer fully electric versions of its Smart city cars by 2020 -- "the first conventional car brand that will offer its entire portfolio with e-drive only," he added.

The electric transformation at Daimler won't happen at the flick of a switch.

Executives aim to find some 4.0 billion euros ($4.8 billion) of savings to maintain the 10-percent margin Daimler achieved in 2016 and 2017 -- despite lower profitability from electric cars.

Electric vehicles only offer "half the margin of an ordinary car," financial director Frank Lindenberg said.

But Germany's automakers have been rattled by a diesel emissions cheating scandal, which has so far cost the world's largest car firm Volkswagen more than 20 billion euros.

Suspicion has since fallen on other manufacturers, including Daimler.

And executives and politicians have scrambled to avoid draconian measures to reduce air pollution, including mooted diesel driving bans in some cities.

While the worst appears averted for now, most in Germany agree combustion engines are living on borrowed time as a "bridge technology" to future emissions-free vehicles.

European economic heavyweights France and Britain announced this year they plan to ban combustion engines from 2040.

And a surprise announcement from China -- the world's biggest car market -- that it was mulling a ban of its own has ramped up the pressure for carmakers, although Beijing has yet to name a firm date.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Electric cars catch on in Dutch company lease fleets

DutchNews, September 7, 2017

Part of the HaskoningDHV fleet. Photo: Royal HaskoningDHV

Large companies in the Netherlands are moving over to electric cars, according to a report in the Financieele Daglad on Thursday. 

Engineering group Royal HaskoningDHV said on Thursday that its fleet of 500 leased cars would be 100% electric by 2021. Energy companies Nuon and Eneco are also moving towards an all-electric fleet while phone, TV and internet company KPN will have only cars which operate on biogas, hydrogen or electricity from 2025. 

Sales of fully-electric cars severely lag behind those of conventional vehicles. in the first six months of this year, 240,000 cars running on petrol, diesel or LPG were sold in the Netherlands, compared to only 3,634 all-electric cars. 

Nevertheless electric car sales were up 90% on the 2016 period.

Related Article:


Thursday, September 7, 2017

Post-Harvey Houston faces a car crunch

MSN – AFP, Thomas B. Shea, 6 Sep 2017


As Houston residents contend with flooded homes and lost belongings in the upheaval left in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, many face another urgent priority: getting a new car.

Having a vehicle is a necessity in the sprawling Texas metropolis with few public transportation options.

But as many as a half million cars were washed away or irreparably deluged after the storm dumped a year's worth of water on the city in a matter of days.

Local auto dealerships that survived the storm are reporting brisk business as Harvey's victims seek an essential tool for traversing a city that was built for the automobile and features two massive highway loops that surround the downtown.

"There is a high demand going on now," said Ezequiel Zepeda, a salesman at Houston Direct Auto, a used car company.

Zepeda these days is juggling a torrent of incoming calls and a perpetually full voice mail from residents as well as from workers with non-governmental groups and rescue organizations such as the Red Cross.

"I had a couple come in earlier and both of them bought a vehicle, which doesn't happen often," he told AFP. "I have customers even before I get to work."

Prices of cars have held steady for those already in Zepeda's lot prior to Harvey because many became wet, but did not suffer damage. But Zepeda has boosted prices on many vehicles acquired after the storm due to spiking demand.

More car casualties than Katrina

Major hurricanes like Harvey usually result in numerous car losses, but the toll is expected to be even bigger than other catastrophic storms in recent years.

Appraisal firm Black Book estimates about 500,000 cars will need to be replaced due to Harvey, double the more than the 250,000 hit by Hurricane Sandy in the New York region in 2012, and the 200,000 pummeled by Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf coast in 2005, according to Cox Automotive.

That could give Detroit a boost at a time when the American car industry is feeling the effects of a cooling North American auto boom. But analysts do not expect to see the impact immediately in car industry financials.

"When it does occur, (it) is likely to be greater than was the case with Sandy, because more vehicles are estimated to have been damaged this time around," said Ryan Brinkman, an auto industry analyst at JPMorgan Chase.

Around 150,000 people already have notified insurers of losses, but far more filings are expected, according to the Insurance Council of Texas.

"It might take weeks for victims to be compensated because of the inability to reach or even locate some vehicles," said Mark Hanna, a spokesman for the Insurance Council of Texas, who estimates the total economic impact at $2 billion.

Typical insurance policies allow holders to purchase a small car if their vehicle is damaged in a storm, or receive reimbursement for a rental, Hanna said.

Rental car giant Avis has waived late and extension fees in the hurricane-ravaged area.

"We are moving vehicles into the affected areas as quickly as possible to increase inventory to meet our customers' needs," said Katie McCall, a spokeswoman at Avis Budget Group.

Ford is offering $1,000 rebates for the purchase of new cars.

Some will go without

Unsurprisingly, car purchases are easiest for those buyers who don't need to line up financing, or await an insurance payout.

"If there's a cash deal, I show them the vehicle, they sign the contract and 45 minutes later they walk out the door with the vehicle," said Zepeda.

But some Houstonians will no doubt go carless as they await insurance payouts while putting any available cash into vital home repairs.

"There will be thousands that will be unable to replace their cars immediately," said Andrea French, executive director of TAG Houston, a non-governmental organization that advocates for more public transit solutions.

That could boost the odds that more consumers opt to go into the "black market" of used cars that are not insured, which already accounts for about 15 percent of the Texas market, she said.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Former VW engineer gets 40 months in 'dieselgate' scandal

Yahoo – AFP, August 25, 2017

A US court on Friday sentenced a former Volkswagen engineer to nearly three
and a half years in prison for his role in the company's emissions cheating
scandal (AFP Photo/PAUL J. RICHARDS)

Detroit (AFP) - A US court on Friday sentenced a former Volkswagen engineer to nearly three and a half years in prison for his role in the company's emissions cheating scandal.

James Robert Liang was sentenced to 40 months in prison and ordered to pay a $200,000 fine after pleading guilty to charges he conspired to defraud the United States and violate the Clean Air Act, the court announced.

The sentencing comes several weeks after former VW executive Oliver Schmidt pleaded guilty to fraud and conspiracy charges in the "dieselgate" matter, which has brought one of the world's to auto makers into disgrace.

Liang was also ordered to serve two years of supervised release upon his release from prison, according to a spokesman for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

However, US authorities may choose to deport Liang to Germany once he is released, the spokesman said.

The sentence was significantly harsher than what prosecutors had recommended.

In exchange for Liang's cooperation, Justice Department officials had recommended a sentence of only three years and a fine of just $20,000.

A lawyer for Liang had instead asked for a year of probation and home confinement, noting that Liang's cooperation had resulted in criminal charges against three other defendants.

Liang pleaded guilty in September to a role in a nine-year conspiracy to develop devices that hid emissions harmful nitrogen oxide during pollution tests on Volkswagen's diesel-power cars.

The company has set aside more than $24 billion to cover the fines and compensation in the scandal, in which it admitted in 2015 to equipping about 11 million cars worldwide with so-called defeat devices to mask emissions.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Women to train as Russian air force pilots

Yahoo – AFP, August 12, 2017

Russia says it hopes the first women pilots will be qualified to fly missions
within five years (AFP Photo)

Moscow (AFP) - Female candidates are to be accepted for the first time to train as pilots for Russia's air force, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said Saturday, adding there were so many applications that "we can't ignore them".

"There are many young women who would like to become military pilots. We have received hundreds of letters," he said, according to a ministry statement.

"That's why we've decided that this year we will enrol a first group of women at the military academy of Krasnodar," in southern Russia, he said.

"There will be few of them, 15 in all. But given the quantity of applications that we receive, we can't ignore them. From October 1, the first group of women will start to train to become pilots," he said, adding that he hoped they will be qualified in five years.

Since 2009, the Krasnodar flying academy has accepted female students but not for pilot training, according to the TASS news agency.

In 2014, a senior defence ministry official, Ruslan Vassilev, told Echo Moskvi radio that some 45,000 women serve in the Russian army, although they are barred from some functions, notably combat roles.

In total Russia's armed forces numbered nearly 2 million people this year, including 1 million on active service, according to official figures.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Tech advances will lead to MH370 discovery - Malaysia Airlines

Yahoo – AFP, August 1, 2017

So far, three fragments of MH370 have been found on western Indian Ocean
shores, including a two-metre wing part known as a flaperon

The resting place of missing flight MH370 will eventually be found but it will require advances in science and technology, including artificial intelligence, Malaysia Airlines' chief said Tuesday.

No trace of the Boeing 777, which disappeared in March 2014 with 239 people on board, was found during a lengthy deep sea hunt in the southern Indian Ocean off western Australia, with the search called off in January.

"There will be advances in science that will help locate the wreckage eventually," the Malaysian carrier's chief executive Peter Bellew told The Australian newspaper, adding the discovery "might unlock closure for some people".

Bellew, in Sydney for an aviation summit, said the advances could come through "the availability of artificial intelligence that's coming on stream", high-capacity computing power and university research.

He did not give further details about what specific research could lead to a breakthrough, but added that private efforts to locate the plane could also play a part.

So far, three fragments of MH370 have been found on western Indian Ocean shores, including a two-metre wing part known as a flaperon.

"(There are people) who are spending a lot of their own resources at the moment and co-ordinating with authorities... I do think somebody will make a breakthrough somewhere around this, or a combination of people," Bellew said.

"It will create a situation where there will be some chance of pinpointing the location of where the aircraft may well be."

Australia's national science body CSIRO said in April that MH370 was "most likely" lying north of the former search zone -- a 120,000 square kilometre (46,000 square mile) area largely defined through satellite "pings" and the flight's estimated fuel load.

But Transport Minister Darren Chester has said the underwater probe would not resume unless new evidence about the specific location of the aircraft emerges.

Australia last month released to the public detailed maps showing the topography of the sea floor where the search took place, with a second set of data to be released in mid-2018.


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Hyperloop or hyperbole? Musk promises NY-DC run in 29 mins

Yahoo – AFP, July 21, 2017

New York and Washington are separated by some 330 kilometers (200 miles)
-- currently a two hours 45 minute journey by train or one hour 15 minutes
flying (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)

New York (AFP) - US entrepreneur Elon Musk said Thursday he'd received tentative approval from the government to build a conceptual "hyperloop" system that would blast passenger pods down vacuum-sealed tubes from New York to Washington at near supersonic speeds.

"Just received verbal govt approval for The Boring Company to build an underground NY-Phil-Balt-DC Hyperloop. NY-DC in 29 mins," the flamboyant CEO of Tesla and SpaceX tweeted, using abbreviations for New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington DC.

New York and Washington are separated by some 330 kilometers (200 miles) -- currently an approximately three-hour journey by train or one hour and 15 minutes flying.

The US Department of Transportation forwarded queries for comment to the White House, which offered a statement that neither confirmed nor outright dismissed the bombastic announcement.

"We have had promising conversations to date, are committed to transformative infrastructure projects, and believe our greatest solutions have often come from the ingenuity and drive of the private sector," the statement said.

Experts however said the proposed system would likely require approvals from numerous departments as well as local and state authorities before construction work could begin.

Facing a barrage of skepticism, Musk, who has been known to over-promise in his announcements, clarified: "Still a lot of work needed to receive formal approval, but am optimistic that will occur rapidly," urging people to lobby their representatives.

Musk's involvement in the proposed project is for now limited to building the tunnels, and it is not yet clear which firm he plans to partner with to handle the pod vehicles.

But several companies are now exploring the market, including Northeast Maglev, Hyperloop One and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies.

Beyond the Hyperloop system, Musk has made plans to send two private citizens around the Moon and land an unmanned spacecraft on Mars by 2020.

Earlier this month he vowed to build the world's largest battery in Australia with a 100 megawatt-hour capacity, or enough to power 30,000 homes.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Audi voluntarily recalls up to 850,000 diesel vehicles

Yahoo – AFP, July 21, 2017

German luxury carmaker Audi, a Volkswagen subsidiary, issued a voluntary recall
of up to 850,000 diesel vehicles, saying it would help reduce engine emissions
(AFP Photo/SAUL LOEB)

Frankfurt am Main (AFP) - German luxury carmaker Audi, a Volkswagen subsidiary, issued a voluntary recall of up to 850,000 diesel vehicles Friday, saying it would help reduce engine emissions.

"Audi aims to maintain the future viability of diesel engines for its customers and to make a contribution towards improving air quality," the Bavaria-based manufacturer said in a statement.

Vehicles with affected engines would receive a free software upgrade that "will further improve their emissions in real driving conditions beyond the current legal requirements," Audi added.

The recall affects cars fitted with six- and eight-cylinder diesel motors meeting the Euro 5 and Euro 6 emissions criteria, Audi said, including some from parent Volkswagen and sister firm Porsche that are fitted with Audi engines.

It had developed the offer "in close cooperation" with Germany's Federal Motor Transport Authority or KBA, it added.

Audi's recall comes days after Mercedes-Benz and Smart maker Daimler issued a voluntary recall for more than three million diesel vehicles in Europe.

Pressure on car manufacturers in Germany and elsewhere has been growing steadily since Volkswagen's admission in 2015 that it installed systems in 11 million diesel-fuelled cars worldwide to defeat regulatory emissions tests.

Politicians in Berlin and German regional capitals have been looking at measures to reduce air pollution from diesel vehicles, with some even mulling bans for the highest-emitting vehicles from inner-city areas.

In its statement, Audi said it hoped to "counteract possible bans on vehicles with diesel engines" with its recall.

Related Article:


Thursday, July 20, 2017

India's ageing trains get green makeover with solar panels

Yahoo – AFP, July 19, 2017

Indian railways: years of under-investment but now a green initiative (AFP Photo/
NARINDER NANU)

India has added solar panels to the roof of a train in a national first as it tries to reduce its massive carbon footprint and modernise its vast colonial-era rail network.

The lighting, fans and information displays inside the train -- once powered by diesel -- will run off the sun's energy after the panels were fitted to the carriage.

The train has begun journeys around the capital New Delhi, helping move just some of the 23 million passengers who use India's rail network every day.

"We will be inducting at least four other solar-powered trains in the next six months," Anil Kumar Saxena, Indian railways spokesperson, told AFP on Wednesday.

Batteries charged by the solar panels during the day take over if there is no sunlight, Saxena added. Only as a last resort, if the batteries perish, would diesel be used.

Each train drawing on this green energy is expected to save around 21,000 litres of diesel every year, helping reduce India's enormous reliance on fossil fuels and huge output of carbon emissions.

Built by India's former British colonial rulers, the railway system is one of the world's largest and is still the main means of long-distance travel in the huge country.


But years of financial neglect and a populist policy of subsidising fares have hit the network hard. Prime Minister Narendra Modi vowed to revive it after coming to power in May 2014.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Daimler announces emissions recall of 3 mln diesel cars in Europe

Yahoo – AFP, July 18, 2017

Mercedes-Benz will extend a voluntary recall to more than three million
diesel vehicles (AFP Photo/Tobias SCHWARZ)

Berlin (AFP) - German luxury car maker Daimler, which is being investigated for alleged emissions cheating, announced Tuesday a voluntary recall of more than three million Mercedes-Benz diesel vehicles in Europe.

It said it had already launched a service action for other models and that, "in order to effectively improve the emissions of additional model series, Daimler has now decided to extend the service action to include over three million Mercedes-Benz vehicles".

The Stuttgart-based company said the action would cost the company some 220 million euros ($255 million) and be free of charge for customers.

"In this way, Daimler is making a significant contribution to the reduction of nitrogen-oxide emissions from diesel vehicles in European inner cities," it said in a statement.

The recall would start in coming weeks and, "due to the large number of vehicles", take "a longer period of time".

A week earlier, German media reported that Daimler had manipulated the engines of around one million diesel vehicles to make them appear less polluting, raising echoes of competitor Volkswagen's 'dieselgate' scandal.

Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily and two public broadcasters, citing a court-issued search warrant, said the company "sold vehicles with higher levels of damaging emissions than allowed for almost a whole decade between 2008 and 2016, in Europe and the United States".

Investigators suspect Daimler used a similar so-called "defeat device" to Volkswagen, which in 2015 admitted to manipulating emissions readings on some 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide.

Software in the motor runs the emissions treatment system at a higher setting when it detects the vehicle is undergoing regulatory testing.

At the time, a Daimler spokeswoman contacted by AFP declined to comment on an ongoing investigation, but said the carmaker was cooperating with the authorities.

In its latest statement, Daimler said Mercedes-Benz had developed a completely new diesel engine family that could meet stricter EU emission regulations to come.

"The public debate about diesel engines is creating uncertainty –- especially for our customers," said Dieter Zetsche, chief executive of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars.

"We have therefore decided on additional measures to reassure drivers of diesel cars and to strengthen confidence in diesel technology," he said.

"We are convinced that diesel engines will continue to be a fixed element of the drive-system mix, not least due to their low CO2 emissions." 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

EasyJet launches plans for post-Brexit base in Austria

Yahoo – AFP, Roland JACKSON, July 14, 2017

EasyJet is preparing a post-Brexit soft landing, applying for a new air operator's certificate
in Austria so it can keep flying in the European Union (AFP Photo/PASCAL PAVANI)

London (AFP) - British low-cost airline EasyJet charted a course on Friday to keep flying unhindered across the European Union after Brexit.

The carrier, which is based in Luton, north of London, said in a statement that it will create a new division, EasyJet Europe, which will be based in the Austrian capital, Vienna.

EasyJet, which will retain its Luton headquarters, added that it has applied for a new air operator's certificate (AOC) in Austria to continue flying across Europe regardless of the final Brexit deal between Brussels and London.

The accreditation process is "now well advanced" and it should be concluded "in the near future", the no-frills carrier said.

The application "will allow EasyJet to establish a new airline, EasyJet Europe, which will be headquartered in Vienna and will enable EasyJet to continue to operate flights both across Europe and domestically within European countries after the UK has left the EU", the company added.

EasyJet Europe will become the group's third airline division after EasyJet in Luton and EasyJet Switzerland in Geneva.

Vienna was picked because EasyJet had concluded that its airline regulator was "the best fit" for the firm.

The switch will create jobs in Austria, while no positions would be lost in Britain.

"While the new structure will protect all of EasyJet's current flying rights within Europe, EasyJet will continue to push for the UK and EU to reach an aviation agreement which, at a minimum, will enable flights between the UK and EU," the statement added.

Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern hailed the announcement as "tremendous news for Austria".

The stock market largely shrugged off the news, with the share price edging just 0.1 percent lower to 1,407 pence compared with Thursday's closing level.

"Investors would most probably take as a given that EasyJet would address this successfully as it has no other choice," independent aviation analyst John Strickland told AFP.

The application for a new air operator's certificate in Austria "will allow easyJet to
 establish a new airline, easyJet Europe, which will be headquartered in Vienna," 
it said in a statement (AFP Photo/Alexander KLEIN)

"With the conclusion of the AOC process in Austria, EasyJet will secure its rights to operate intra-EU flights in a post-Brexit world.

"These are a strategic and essential part of its business."

Oanda analyst Craig Erlam added that the development had removed any uncertainty over the matter.

"Investors are underwhelmed simply because they expected a resolution to be found and it's been done very early on," Erlam said.

Soon after Britain voted in a referendum a year ago in favour of exiting the EU, EasyJet applied for a European Union licence to keep flying throughout the bloc.

Britain's airline industry has soared over the last two decades under the Single European Sky system, which lifted trade restrictions on EU airlines.

Unless British negotiators manage to secure preferential conditions, British airlines could lose this status once the country leaves the EU.

This will mean they no longer enjoy rights including being able to freely set airfares, and to launch any route in Europe without getting prior authorisation.

Passengers leaving or arriving in the United Kingdom will face new taxes and British airlines face obstacles and delays in developing new routes.

Britain will leave the EU in March 2019 after voting in a shock referendum last year in favour of its departure.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Elon Musk's Tesla to build world's largest battery in Australia

Yahoo – AFP, Glenda KWEK, July 7, 2017

A handout photo taken and received on July 7, 2017, shows South Australia's
Premier Jay Weatherill (L) and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk (R) at an
announcement in Adelaide (AFP Photo/Handout)

Sydney (AFP) - Elon Musk's Tesla will build what the maverick entrepreneur claims is the world's largest lithium ion battery within 100 days, making good on a Twitter promise to ease South Australia's energy woes.

Billionaire Musk tweeted an offer to help build a battery farm in March after South Australia was hit with a total blackout when an "unprecedented" storm wrecked power transmission towers in 2016.

"This system will be three times more powerful than any system on Earth," Musk told reporters in the state capital Adelaide.

Tesla has built the world's current largest battery, which came online in California in December, Musk said, adding that the South Australian battery would be 100 megawatts -- enough to power 30,000 homes.

"This is not a minor foray into the frontier... I'm pretty darn impressed with South Australia willing to do a project of this magnitude that is beyond anything else in the world," Musk said.

"That takes a lot of gumption... I do see this as something that the world will look at as an example."

The battery will be built in Jamestown, 230 kilometres (143 miles) north of Adelaide and will be paired with a nearby wind farm run by Neoen, a French renewable energy company, South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill said.

Experts said the battery could help transform the renewable energy landscape by addressing the intermittent nature of sources such as wind and solar by pairing them with a large-scale electricity storage system.

"Variability is one of the key challenges in integrating large amounts of renewables into power systems as we try and get towards 100 percent renewables," Ariel Liebman of Monash University's MEMSI energy institute told AFP.

"So we need a balancing mechanism that helps take some excess production when these things are producing a lot and then distribute it into the system when it's needed and there's not so much production."

Battery 'common sense'

Musk said it was "common sense that if you have solar you must have battery because otherwise your power is going to be proportionate to how sunny it is".

"I specifically think that the consistently lowering cost of batteries, coupled with renewables, is going to fundamentally reshape the energy landscape much faster than anyone thinks it will," Cal Lankton, Tesla's vice president of global infrastructure operations, added.

Musk acknowledged his company had to overcome the technical risks associated with building a project at such a large scale, but said Tesla was confident of its success.

The high-flying firm, known for producing electric cars, has agreed to deliver the battery "within 100 days or it is free", Weatherill added.

No figures were given for the cost of the contract.

Neoen, which has built major projects around the world since being set set up in 2008, operates Europe's biggest solar energy park in southwest France, which can produce the equivalent annual electricity to supply a town of 300,000 people.

South Africa-born Musk has envisaged Tesla as a company that can help reduce emissions by not only selling people electric cars, but also generating and storing the renewable energy that powers them.

Australia is one of the world's worst per capita greenhouse gas polluters due to heavy use of coal-fired power.