Republic Services gaining more recognition in sustainable transportation, Uber releases jarring sexual assault numbers

Republic Services, Inc., just became a member of California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition after several years of adding NGVs to its fleet and making gains in recycling and waste disposal. The company joins Waste Management, Inc., and other refuse companies, in showing the leadership role these companies can make in clean transportation, renewable fuels, and waste-to-energy projects.

Fleets with refuse trucks are among the largest private fleets in the country; bringing in natural gas makes a real difference in reducing carbon emissions and fuel costs. In Fleet Owner’s Top 500 Top Private Fleets (which tracks heavy-duty vehicles), refuse fleets (under the “Sanitation” category) make up three of the top 10 largest fleets, with Waste Management, Inc., at No. 4 and Republic Services at No. 8. Waste Connections & Operating Co., No. 9, is not running NGVs. The refuse company uses fuel efficient vehicles and is deploying energy conserving practices.

In Fleet Owner’s top 500 private fleet rankings, as of April 2019 there were 18,652 total vehicles in Republic Service’s fleet — 148 tractors, 18,504 trucks, and 947 trailers. In the company’s 2018 annual report, it was reported that 20 percent of its fleet operated on natural gas — which could theoretically put that number out to about 3,600 trucks running on compressed natural gas (CNG) and some of these NGVs on renewable natural gas (RNG). However, the latest data from the company states that the number of CNG-powered trucks would be somewhere between 2,200 and 3,100 or more units (with 3,100 running on “alternative fuels”). The Phoenix-based company’s fleet is spread out over 41 states.

The annual report said that in California, the vast majority of Republic’s fleet runs on natural gas — with more than 90 percent utilizing renewable natural gas (RNG). RNG has the lowest carbon intensity of all commercially available fuels, according to the company. Overall, using CNG provides the company with a competitive advantage in communities with strict clean emissions standards and initiatives.

The company’s fleet is making a gradual conversion over to natural gas and that will continue. In 2018, about 13 percent of the replacement vehicle purchases were CNG vehicles. By the end of 2018, the company operated 37 CNG fueling stations.

Waste Management, Inc., has been carrying the lead — and playing a very visible role — in sustainable fleet operations for the refuse industry. The company also belongs to California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition and other organizations. NGVAmerica’s board of directors includes Marty Tufte, Waste Management’s corporate fleet director; and the company has been a major sponsor at NGVAmerica’s annual meeting and industry summit.

In Fleet Owner’s top 500 private fleet rankings in 2019, there were 32,056 total vehicles in Waste Management’s fleet — 1,000 tractors, 31,056 trucks, and 2,600 trailers. At the end of 2017, the company reported it had 6,536 NGVs in operation, with 38 percent of its routed collected trucks running on natural gas, and 80 percent of new vehicle purchases going to NGVs.

In Waste Management’s 2019 sustainability report, the company reported having 7,944 alternative fuel vehicles, 132 natural gas fueling stations, and 130 landfill gas-to-electricity facilities. It also had 247 active solid waste landfills, and five active hazardous waste landfills.

Its landfill-gas-to-fuel plants convert landfill gas into RNG that can be used in its vehicles in the form of CNG or liquefied natural gas (LNG). It achieves the end goals of lowering fuel costs and reducing GHG emissions more than 80 percent compared to vehicles powered by diesel. As for converting over from diesel refuse trucks, the company reported it had 855 million diesel gallons displaced over the useful life of existing NGVs.

US Dept. of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center reports that natural gas powers more than 175,000 vehicles in the US and roughly 23 million vehicles worldwide. The advantages of natural gas as a transportation fuel include its domestic availability, widespread distribution infrastructure, fuel cost savings, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions over conventional gasoline and diesel fuels.

The cost of converting trucks over to NGVs or replacing diesel-powered trucks with new refuse trucks running on natural gas, and the cost of installing enough natural gas dispensers to keep these fleet vehicles fueled, has always been a hard sell for fleets seeking funding and support. Conventional diesel-powered refuse trucks can start at about $250,000, with pricing being reduced through fleet purchase incentives. Incremental costs for converting these vehicles over to CNG-powered could be about $40,000 per vehicle, according to a study; and that figure will vary based on government incentives offsetting that price. A new NGV can cost a fleet up to about 50 percent more than the cost of a conventional diesel-powered refuse truck, and that could be much less depending on available incentives. Natural gas fueling stations can range from $10,000 for a smaller fueling unit up to $1.8 million to build a new fuel station with several fuel pumps.

Fleets included in NGV studies are usually reaching operating cost savings in two-to-three years from these clean-fuel vehicles. Much of that comes from the stable, consistent price of natural gas compared to the higher and more volatile pricing for diesel. Diesel has been averaging a bit over $3 per gallon in the US lately, with the equivalent price per gallon for CNG at around $2.25. That gap can be widened by state and local programs bringing fleet fuel costs down for CNG, LNG, and RNG.

NGVAmerica said that there are currently more than 17,000 natural gas refuse and recycling trucks operating across the US, and about 60 percent of new collection trucks on order are powered by natural gas. Clean Energy Fuels reported that beyond Waste Management and Republic, Progressive (in Canada and the US) and Emterra (in Canada) have been bringing NGVs into their fleets for years.

The City of New York’s Department of Sanitation runs the largest municipal refuse fleet in the US, and decided to switch over to NGVs several years ago. That took place when the city of New York seriously took on its air pollution issue.

In October, Republic Services announced it will operate an additional 156 CNG-powered solid waste collection trucks serving customers throughout the country by the end of 2019, bringing the total number of vehicles running on alternative fuels to more than 3,100. It’s fleet is saving about 26 million gallons of diesel fuel annually.

Earlier this year, the company announced that it will utilize increasing amounts of Clean Energy Fuel’s Redeem RNG fuel across 21 states over the next five years. This is projected to reduce fleet emissions by roughly 250,000 metric tons of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) per year.

In its 2018 annual report, Republic said that during that year, new landfill gas-to-energy projects came online, increasing the production of energy used to power homes, businesses and, in some cases, the company’s own vehicles.

In Waste Management’s 2018 sustainability report, the company said that it had four facilities that produce RNG: Altamont Landfill (Livermore, Calif.), Milam Landfill (St. Louis, Illinois.), American Landfill (Waynesburg, Ohio), and Outer Loop Landfill (Louisville, Kentucky). Collectively, they’re capable of producing enough RNG to fuel about 1,850 natural gas collection trucks.

Republic’s 2018 sustainability report said that the company’s fleet emissions had been reduced by three percent through the use of CNG and RNG. Things are looking up on the emissions and safety fronts, according to the report: “Our recycling and waste collection trucks are complex, high performance machines designed to be safe, comfortable and efficient. As we retire and replace older trucks, we are able to take advantage of advancements in alternative fuels in addition to safety technology and other modern efficiencies.”

This year in July, Republic expanded its sustainability goals over the next decade in Blue Planet: 2030 Goals. Along with working toward zero employee fatalities and reducing workplace injuries, two of the other corporate objectives will be to reduce absolute Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions 35 percent by 2030; and cultivate regenerative landfills that will increase biogas sent to beneficial reuse by 50 percent by that same year.

And in other news……..
Uber sexual-assault incidents:  Ride-hailing giant Uber just released its first-ever report featuring staggering statistics on sexual assaults and homicides involving Uber drivers and passengers. During 2017 and 2018, more than 3,000 people were sexually assaulted during Uber rides. About 42 percent of those reporting sexual assaults were drivers, and the most severe incidents were put upon passengers; 92 percent of people who experienced sexual assault involving penetration were passengers, according to reports. Women and female-identifying survivors made up 89 percent of the sexual-assault survivors. During 2017 and 2018, there were 19 fatal physical assaults occurring in a total of 18 incidents in relation to Uber; 8 were riders; 7 were drivers using the Uber app; and 4 were third parties (such as bystanders outside the vehicles).

Lyft also faces accountability for several sexual assault incidents committed during rides. These crises show the level of inadequacy in driver background checks, and the ability of non-Uber driers to manipulate the app and take rides. Some have been able to hide their identities when using the Uber app. The strict standards applied to other transportation industries will inevitably make it over to the ride-hailing apps.

Fleet EV study:  Find out what fleets think about bringing electric vehicles into their vehicle selector lists from a new study by consulting firm Mortenson. The adoption of zero and near-zero emission vehicles in public and private fleets is growing. The rapid change is causing fleet owners, policymakers, and public infrastructure experts to examine what clean technology means for them. Over 200 professionals were interviewed at the 2019 ACT Expo.

And a few more news briefs………

  • The 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid equipped with front-wheel drive beats out the segment with best-in-class EPA-estimated ratings of 44 mpg city and 41 mpg combined, according to Ford. The 2020 Escape Hybrid Titanium with front-wheel drive has an EPA-estimated rating of 37 mpg on the highway.
  • Elon Musk was cleared by the Los Angeles jury on the defamation lawsuit British caver Vernon Unsworth had filed over the Tesla CEO’s “pedo guy” Twitter comment.
  • California Air Resources Board (CARB) announced that the application period for the competitive Volkswagen Mitigation Trust Combustion Freight and Marine project funding is open. This solicitation is open to eligible owners of in-use freight trucks, switcher locomotives, ferries, tugboats and towboats throughout California.
  • Tesla said its Model 3 cars built in China will qualify for that government’s new energy vehicle subsidies.
  • Eighteen private-sector companies released Road Map to a US Hydrogen Economy that could support zero emissions transportation and significant economic gains.
  • Tesla said on its blog that the Model X won a 5-star rating from the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP), which evaluates a car’s safety assistance features as well as its ability to protect adults, children, and vulnerable road users.

 

LG Chem and SK Innovation in battery legal battle, Gig Economy meets the Gilded Age

Battle over South Korean battery tech:  LG Chem and SK Innovation are each asking the US International Trade Commission to bar the other South Korean electronics company from supplying batteries to Volkswagen, GM, Ford, Jaguar, Audi, and Kia. The stakes are quite high, with one analyst predicting that country’s electric vehicle battery market will grow 23 percent a year to reach $167 billion in sales by 2025.

In America, the battle ensued when LG Chem filed a claim that SK Innovation won the Volkswagen contract fraudulently by receiving trade secrets supplied by ex-LG Chem employees who’d taken jobs with the smaller competitor. SK Innovation had won a contract to build batteries for VW’s ambitious EV product launch campaign, at the automaker’s factories in Germany and in Chattanooga. SKI also was able to start work on a new battery factory in Georgia, about 150 miles from Chattanooga, and another in Hungary. The trade commission is expected to make a preliminary ruling in June and issue a final decision next October.

Tesla, Uber & Amazon — The Gig Economy meets the Gilded Age:  What do Tesla, Uber, Amazon, Lyft, Instacart, and DoorDash have in common? They’re great to buy from, but you probably wouldn’t want to work for them as an independent contractor or employee.

We love the perks — Tesla’s fun-to-drive electric cars, belonging to Amazon Prime, cheap fare Uber and Lyft rides, having the annoyances of grocery shopping taken away by Instacart, and tapping into other efficient, affordable gig economy services. But we usually don’t like working for them — just ask around and search the internet.

Case in point:  An engineer working for Elon Musk’s SpaceX intergalactic travel company told me about the intensely demanding, stressful long hours he has to work. While Musk is still an icon for him as a pioneer in space flights and electric cars, he doesn’t see himself able to live that way for very long. As we’ve heard about from executives leaving Tesla, Musk expects employees to give their lives to the cause.

Another one: A woman working for Amazon told me about attempting to be reclassified from a part-time employee to full-time employee with benefits. She and her Amazon co-workers are expected to work extra hours and take on extra duties. But she’d received a company letter detailing, once again, why she didn’t make it to full-time status with medical coverage and other benefits. Like working for other prominent, well publicized tech employers, what at first seemed like a wonderful career opportunity can go upside down.

For independent contractors working for Uber and the big wave of mobile app-based startups since then, the initial motivating factors behind doing this kind of work have been waning for the past two years.

A few key developments have been taking shape. (See my blog for more………)

And in other news:
Chaotic trade climate:  President Donald Trump said a trade agreement with China might have to wait until after the US presidential election in November 2020, tarnishing hopes that their trade war would go away and its chaotic impact on trade deals and the economic climate. “I have no deadline, no,” Trump told reporters in London, where he was due to attend a meeting of NATO leaders. “In some ways, I like the idea of waiting until after the election for the China deal. But they want to make a deal now, and we’ll see whether or not the deal’s going to be right; it’s got to be right.”

Yesterday, Trump said he would hit Brazil and Argentina with trade tariffs for “massive devaluation of their currencies.” That was followed by a US threat to slap duties of up to 100 percent on French goods, from champagne to handbags, because of a digital services tax that the Trump administration says harms U.S. tech companies.

Turbulence in Hong Kong from the uprising that’s being suppressed by Chinese military has also been part of the upheaval. Automaker stocks seem to be underperforming lately over concerns that China could retaliate over U.S. legislation in support of the protesters in Hong Kong. “The legislation’s passage carries unfortunate timing for the US auto brands, which are also coping with 16 straight months of declining China auto sales,” notes Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Steve Mann.

Will 5G be here soon?:  For those wondering when 5G will be here to take our smart phones and cars to the next level, T-Mobile says it will be the first carrier to offer a nationwide network starting Friday. There are a few caveats, though. It will be using T-Mobile’s 600MHz spectrum that taps into airwaves like the ones used for 4G LTE and bundles them together to deliver faster speeds — offering “low-band” 5G. The company says it will be a precursor to a more robust network that will be made possible with the combination of Sprint’s vast airwave holdings — which made Sprint a direct competitor to AT&T and Verizon Wireless years ago. However, T-Mobile’s acquisition of Sprint still has to complete legal hurdles. The US Justice Department and Federal Communications Commission gave the merger the green light; but, it faces a lawsuit from several state attorney general, and that trial will start Dec. 9. T-Mobile is promoting the 5G launch with special prices on a new OnePlus phone and one from Samsung. The launch of 5G has been a very hot topic for those attending AutoMobility LA and CES in Las Vegas next month. It will have a lot to do with self-driving cars making it to the next level through its use of C-V2X, a communications technology using the same 5G networks coming to our phones. It will allow vehicles to communicate with each other, with traffic signals and with other roadside gear. It’s a key element of making cars safer, diverting traffic jams, and other benefits.

Reserving a Fisker Ocean:  Interested in getting one of the first Fisker Oceans to roll off the assembly line? Put down a $250 down payment by using this iPhone app, called Fisker Flexee. Coming in early 2022, the Fisker Ocean will be “the world’s most sustainable vehicle.”

Musk sued for “pedo guy” insult:  Tesla CEO Elon Musk will go on trial in a defamation lawsuit in Los Angeles federal court starting today based on his infamous Twitter post calling a British cave explorer a “pedo guy.” The jury will decide whether Musk committed a negligent act aimed at Vernon Unsworth, who helped rescue a group of boys trapped in a network of caves in Thailand in July 2018. Musk did apologize and deleted the post, but Unsworth sued Musk for damages, claiming his reputation was damaged by being baselessly branded as a pedophile. Musk plans to testify in how own defense for a trial expected to run about five days. Back in July 2018, Musk fired off a round of irate tweets after Unsworth criticized the Tesla and SpaceX CEO’s offer to help with the rescue mission by sending a mini-submarine built by SpaceX. Musk has said in court documents that “pedo guy” was a common insult “synonymous with ‘creepy old man’” when he grew up in South Africa.

Hydrogen and fuel cell trucks seeing a breakthrough, BMW report shows global EV share by brand

This past year has seen something of a renaissance for hydrogen and fuel cell vehicles, with much of the interest being directed at hydrogen-powered commercial vehicles.

Nikola Motors, Toyota, and Hyundai are dedicating intensive capital and resources to designing and building hydrogen-powered commercial trucks. Daimler Trucks, Kenworth, and truck engine maker Cummins are also entering the fuel cell space.

These vehicles qualify for zero emission vehicle mandates and have a few appealing performance qualities. They offer similar qualities as electric vehicles in performance and torque, but much longer range. Time needed for refueling is comparable to gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles. The cost of producing hydrogen and manufacturing fuel cell vehicles continues to be high, though it has come down in recent years.

Japan, by far, has the largest fueling infrastructure in the world, with Germany following in second place. While in limited production numbers, Toyota and Honda have their fuel cell cars in several countries, followed by Hyundai and Daimler.

So let’s look at some of the numbers…….

Hydrogen Refueling Stations by Country:
Japan — 109
Germany — 70
United States — 44
South Korea — 28
China — 15
England — 12
Denmark and France — 11
Norway — 9
Canada — 7
Austria — 6
Scotland and Sweden — 5
Spain and Switzerland — 4
Australia, Belgium, Iceland, India, and the Netherlands — 3
Finland and India — 2
Brazil, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Taiwan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Wales — 1

Sources: Hydrogen Analysis Resource Center and Alternative Fuels Data Center

Fuel Cell Passenger Cars and Buses by Region:
North America:
Toyota Mirai, Honda Clarity Fuel Cell, and Hyundai Nexo (which replaced the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell). New Flyer manufactures many of the fuel cell buses acquired by transit agencies in the US, with many of these buses equipped with Ballard fuel cells.
Europe:
Daimler GLC F-CELL, Daimler B-Class F-Cell, Toyota Mirai, Honda Clarity Fuel Cell, and Symbol fuel cell range-extended vans.
Asia:
Toyota Mirai, Hyundai Nexo, Honda Clarity Fuel Cell, and Daimler GLC F-CELL. Both Toyota and Hyundai offer fuel cell buses. Several Chinese manufacturers have developed their own buses, including state-owned SAIC Motor and Geely Auto Group, which also owns the Volvo Cars and Lotus brands.

Sources: US Dept. of Energy, Hydrogen Europe, and Reuters

Nikola has become the star of fuel cell vehicles, regularly making dramatic announcements. These include a breakthrough in battery technology that could double the range of electric vehicles without adding any weight; and a monthly lease payment that would require customers to agree to a million-mile lease at the cost of 95 cents mile, or $950,000 over a typical seven-year lease to remove some of the risk of buying a fuel cell truck. The hydrogen-powered truck maker also has plans in the works for setting up about 700 hydrogen fueling stations. Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch has started testing Nikola semi-tractor trucks in its fleet.

Along with making the top-selling fuel cell car in the work (the Mirai), Toyota is also committed to fuel cell trucks. The company has been testing a hydrogen fuel cell yard truck that moving shipping containers within the Port of Los Angeles. Toyota also entered a project with truck maker Kenworth to build 10 zero-emission Class 8 trucks. They’ll be supported by the California Air Resources Board’s Zero and Near-Zero Emissions Freight Facilities grant, and these trucks will be used at the harbor complex for the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Hyundai plans to build a production capacity of 500,000 fuel cell systems for passenger and commercial vehicles by 2030 at a cost of about $6.4 billion. The automaker recently unveiled the concept of its planned HDC-6 Neptune hydrogen fuel cell truck. Hyundai sees opportunities in the US, but the Asian market would also be hot — with serious commitments given to fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen stations by the governments of South Korea, Japan, and China.

Hydrogen fuel cell buses are seeing more demand. They’ve been particularly well tested in California by transit agencies, and China is seeing a lot of them being deployed.

Ballard Power Systems, based in British Columbia, develops and produces fuel-cell products and solutions that are part of these fuel cell buses. The company is elated to see its shares soar after 40 years of struggles in the industry.

The company has seen a dramatic change over the past year, according to Randy MacEwen, CEO of Ballard. Some of that has been coming through customers In Europe, where operating a fuel cell-powered electric bus is now cost competitive with a traditional fuel version, he says. Use of the fuel cell technology is diversifying into ships, trains, and forklifts.

Hydrogen has been taking off in various applications in recent years. As for history, NASA began using liquid hydrogen in the 1950s as a rocket fuel, and the agency was one of the first to use hydrogen fuel cells to power the electrical systems on spacecraft.

Beyond transportation fuel, about 55 percent of the hydrogen produced around the world is used for ammonia synthesis (especially for fertilizers), 25 percent in refineries for intermediate oil products, and about 10 percent for methanol production that’s used in the manufacturing of several types of polymers.

Building an infrastructure for hydrogen and new developments of fuel cells is finally becoming profitable for companies like Ballard Powers and several others. Manufacturers are looking forward to seeing buyer interest increase. EVs provide much of the completion, but it’s unlikely it will ever take hydrogen out of the race.

And in other news:

  • BMW report shows global numbers:  BMW just added global market share by brand for electric vehicle passenger car sales for the first time in its charts. Tapping into IHS Markit’s new vehicle registration database, the study reports that Tesla has 18 percent, BYD (in China) has 11 percent, BMW 6 percent, Beijing Auto 5 percent, Volkswagen 4 percent, Nissan 4 percent, Hyundai 4 percent, Roewe 3 percent. Kia 3, Renault 3, and Geely-Emgrand 3 percent. Other automakers make up the remaining 36 percent of global share. Roewe is a vehicle marque created by the Chinese automaker SAIC Motor, and BYD, Beijing Auto, and Geely-Emgrand also represent Chinese makers — bringing their share to 22 percent overall. Vehicles included in the count are “Electric, Electric w. REX, Electric w/o REX, PHEV Diesel and PHEV Petrol.”
  • Cybertruck vs. F-150:  Ford says a new video being streamed out by Tesla is unfair, and CEO Elon Musk has agreed to a re-match. The new sci-fi, futuristic Cybertruck is competing in a tug-of-war with the Ford pickup, and looks to be easily pulling it away. Launched Thursday night in LA at the tail-end of the media days for the LA Auto Show, Musk says that his company has already taken 200,000 orders for the electric pickup.
  • Other highlights from LA Auto Show and AutoMobility LA:  The 2020 Toyota Corolla won Green Car of the Year for its overall fuel efficiency in both the regular and the hybrid versions. A second award was given to the Honda CR-V Hybrid as Green SUV of the Year. The new hybrid version the CR-V will go on sale in spring 2020. At AutoMobility LA — Hackathon winner and second place; Startup winner; and Karma Automotive’s unveiling of its SC2 concept car with its hinge winged doors.

US more energy independent now, Ford Mustang Mach-E electric SUV a star at LA Auto Show

“America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world.”
President George W. Bush during State of the Union speech, Jan. 31, 2006 

I had a fascinating conversation with an economist at a social gathering last week. We discussed the impact of oil imports and exports on the global economy — especially its impact on US energy independence and climate change policies. The US has entered a new place in the world’s oil supply, now exporting more oil than importing it — and less vulnerable to occasionally turbulent global oil prices than was the case years ago.

This economist finds it quite ironic that two other countries have reputations for supporting sustainability and other forward-thinking policies, but are also leading global oil exporters. The US will have to face this scrutiny as well, he said.

One of them is Norway, a leading backer of the UN’s Paris agreement on climate change, and the most impressive nation in the world for per capita electric vehicle sales; along with generous government incentives for EV purchases and charging infrastructure.

Norway was the 13th largest global oil exporter last year, at 1,254,920 barrels per day.
It was named the 20th most oil dependent country in the world during 2016 in another study, with 3.84 percent of its GDP coming from oil revenue, and fuel exports making up 53 percent of its merchandise exports that year. About 45 oil wells were drilled in 2018, up from about 30 in 2017.

Canada, the second nation mentioned by the economist during our conversation, is recognized for having the best healthcare system in the world and for being proactive on climate change through its government’s policies. However, it was the fourth largest oil exporter in the world last year.

Canada exported 3.5 million barrels of oil per day to the US in 2018, 96 percent of all Canadian crude oil exports, according to Natural Resources Canada. Canada supplied 43 percent of US oil imports last year; followed by Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Venezuela, and Iraq.

The US was the eighth largest oil exporter last year. Saudi Arabia and Russia were No. 1 and No. 2. Saudi Arabia has much larger export volume than any other country in the world.

2018 Largest Oil Exporters — Barrels Per Day

1. Saudi Arabia — 8,300,000
2. Russia — 5,225,000
3. Iraq — 3,800,000
4. US — 3,770,000
5. Canada — 3,596,690
6. UAR — 2,296,473
7. Kuwait — 2,050,030
8. Nigeria — 1,979,451
9. Qatar — 1,477,213
10. Angola — 1,420,588

Sources: CIA World Factbook and US Energy Information Administration

The US is not an oil-dependent country on the import vs. export ratio as of 2019, but the addiction to petroleum continues. On the bright side, the US is less dependent on OPEC, the league of oil producing nations that caused energy and economic chaos in the US twice in the 1970s (along with the Iranian revolution in 1979) — and that continues to be a major power player in the global oil market.

The US is now exporting crude oil to more nations than it’s importing from, the Energy Information Administration said in a new analysis in late October. During the first half of the year, US crude oil exports average 2.9 million barrels per day, according to the EIA, a number that’s gone even higher in the second half of 2019. In the first seven months of this year, the US imported oil from a maximum of 27 nations during a given month; that had gone as high as 37 nations a decade earlier.

A surge in domestic production has made the US a crude oil export powerhouse, a goal that had been the basis of the Bush administration’s energy policies in the previous decade that first created the Energy Policy Act of 2005; and with some of it carried over to the Obama administration. Bush’s famous State of the Union quote on oil addiction has been used as both an irony (raising the question: How serious was the Bush administration on weaning the US off petroleum?), and supporting moves to stabilize US energy through reducing oil imports from countries like Iraq and Kuwait where America had sent troops to; and other countries, especially OPEC members, with hostile attitudes and actions toward the US.

The Energy Policy Act promoted US nuclear reactor construction through incentives and subsidies — which has since been discredited and sidelined following Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011. The Act also provided loan guarantees to entities that develop or use innovative technologies that avoid the by-production of greenhouse gases.

The Act also launched the Renewable Fuel Standard that requires transportation fuel sold in the US to include a minimum volume of renewable fuels. The RFS was expanded and extended in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. These federal laws were where standards came from governing the amount of biofuel that must be mixed with gasoline sold in the US. It soon because the source of a battle between oil companies and refineries versus corn farmers and ethanol producers.

Crude oil is produced in 32 US states and in US coastal waters, according to EIA. In 2018, about 68 percent of total U.S. crude oil production came from five states. Texas is the leader with 40.5 percent of domestic oil coming from that state. North Dakota was the second largest at 11.5 percent, followed by New Mexico at 6.3 percent, Oklahoma at 5 percent, and Alaska at 4.5 percent of domestic crude oil last year.

It’s one of the reasons gasoline is much cheaper in Texas than other states that have to ship and pipeline over their oil and might have state regulations that raise the price at the pump. For example, gasoline recently has been more than $4 a gallon at some California gas stations. In Texas, it’s been a little bit over $2 a gallon.

The US has seen its supply of oil and natural gas surge over the past dozen years through domestic wells and with natural gas coming much more from shale gas fields. Hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) has been the key driver of change in domestic fuel — where oil and gas are extracted from tiny pores in rock formations coming from shale, sandstone, and limestone. Fracking breaks up the rock in formations creating pathways drawing out oil and gas from the rock layers. It involves forcing water, chemicals, sand, or other materials under high pressure into the wells. Steam, water, or carbon dioxide (CO2) can also be injected into a rock layer to help oil flow more easily into production wells.

Fracking has been the source of public protests and litigation from environmental groups, pushing the federal government to enforce regulations. It won’t be going away anytime soon with advocates insisting its become safer and an economical use of clean energy. Critics say fracking brings devastating consequences to drinking water supplies, air pollution, releasing more greenhouse gases, and triggering earthquakes.

More recently, new applications of fracking technology and horizontal drilling have led to the development of new sources of shale gas that have offset declines in production from conventional gas reservoirs, and has led to major increases in reserves of US natural gas. Oil supply has been helped by the Trump administration weakening environmental regulations for offshore and land oil drilling.

What does it mean for transportation fuel in the US going into next year?

The EIA expects regular gasoline retail prices to average $2.65 per gallon in November and fall to $2.50 per gallon in December. The agency forecasts that the annual average price in 2020 will be $2.62 per gallon. EIA expects that Brent and West Texas Intermediate oil prices will see gradual changes next year — up to $65 per barrel compared to $61 this year for Brent; WTI prices are expected to be about $4 per barrel lower than Brent in late 2019 and throughout 2020.

The US Dept. of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center sees price stability for these fuels since 2014 — compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, propane, electricity, ethanol (E85), and biodiesel (B20 and B99-100). Gasoline and diesel have seen more fluctuation in the past five years, but have stayed within a $2 to $3 per gallon national average (with diesel slightly over $3 lately).

Electric vehicle sales are down now in the US, and fuel-efficient smaller cars and crossovers have been down in sales compared to trucks and SUVs since oil prices plummeted downward in 2014.

Spiking oil prices in 2008, and periods of turbulent pricing in 2010 through 2012, helped automakers sell smaller vehicles, EVs, hybrids, and smaller crossovers. All of that changed in 2014 when oil prices plummeted downward — and gasoline and diesel pricing also dropped — helping pickups and SUVs take the lead in new vehicle sales.

Being less dependent on oil imports has helped US gasoline and diesel prices remain stable and less prone to price spikes than a decade ago — less affected by decisions made by OPEC and disruptive events in key supplier markets. It also raises the bar on making the case for consumers and fleets to purchase new vehicles powered by electricity, hydrogen, propane autogas, natural gas, and renewable fuels.

And in other news……..
Ford is rolling out the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E electric crossover SUV at this week’s LA Show press days. It will have two different battery sizes, with one of them having the capacity to go up to 300 miles per charge. Buyers can also choose from rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, and different power outputs. Ford thinks the Mach-E will make a big splash, its first ever all-out competition against Tesla and the majors, tapping into the performance history and style of the Mustang. EVs are expected to play the leading role at this year’s LA Auto Show product launches, with the Audi E-Tron Sportback and, post-show, Tesla’s Cybertruck. Overall, new SUVs/crossovers will be the leading vehicle classification on display.

California announced yesterday that it will halt all purchases of new vehicles for state government fleets from General Motors, Toyota, Fiat Chrysler, and other automakers backing the Trump administration in a battle to strip the state of authority to regulate tailpipe emissions. It’s been a good market for OEMs on the fleet side; between 2016 to 2018, the state said it purchased $58.6 million in vehicles from GM, $55.8 million from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, $10.6 million from Toyota, and $9 million from Nissan.

Volkswagen’s Electrify America announced today an agreement with Lyft to provide the ride-hailing company’s Express Drive program renters of electric vehicles with convenient and included charging on its DC fast charging network. Express Drive is Lyft’s short-term car rental program that gives people wanting to drive on its platform access to an electric vehicle through its rental providers.

Test projects may be tipping point for mobility, Uber and colleagues battling California labor law

Here’s the final commentary in a series on predictions that 2030 will be the watershed year to watch for when vehicles, transportation, and the entire auto industry itself will look quite different than it does today.

Most Americans are skeptical about completely turning over their car rides to an automated, electric vehicle. It would eventually mean giving up an old, classic tradition — getting behind the wheel and taking off for whatever destination they choose, exercising personal freedom of choice. And there are those who adore classic and vintage cars, and won’t ever want to give it up.

The latest J.D. Power study on autonomous vehicles and electric vehicles, and an interview with a top automaker CEO, indicate that peoples’ expectations for new technology development will remain in place; but opinions are leaning toward the transformation and adoption taking much longer than 2030 (more on Honda and the Power study later). Earning the public’s buy-in is going to take a while.

Autonomous, electrified shared rides and robo-taxis appear to be the most likely way that cultural transformation will be taking place — in the US and other markets where ownership of personal vehicles became the expected norm years ago.

There are other pathways expected to play a vital role in these historic shifts. Automated shuttles are becoming the first application for autonomous vehicles to be deployed as people movers under restricted conditions. Fleet deployment of electric light-to-heavy duty vehicles equipped with the latest connected, automated technologies will also play a vital role.

For now, test projects are being carried out integrating autonomous, sometimes electric, vehicles with increasingly popular transportation modes — ride hailing, car sharing, bus and shuttle rides, and a variation on age-old taxi rides. So let’s take a look.

Waymo is the closest example of what it might look like next, certainly in the US and likely around the world. The Waymo One app used to hail rides in Phoenix’s suburb of Chandler provides an alternative to taking a bus ride, taxi, or ride hailing. Started in December 2018, Waymo One has given members of its early rider program (that will go out to the general public eventually) access to an autonomous ride-hailing service. Just hit the button on the app, and very soon an empty Chrysler Pacifica minivan will approach and come to a stop right in front of you.

In 2017, Waymo CEO John Krafcik declared during a conference that “fully self-driving cars are here.” But it would take longer for them to show up for riders. Most all of the Pacifica minivans in the Phoenix area still have human riders trained to take over the van in the event of an emergency; a few self-driving vehicles are operating in limited test areas. There are hundreds of customers in the early-rider program, with some limitations.

Riders will get access to Waymo One if there’s an available vehicle nearby. It’s taking place in a controlled, geo-fenced environment. Riders are selected based on what zip code they live in and have to sign NDAs. The rides are free for now.

Waymo just expanded its working relationship with leading dealer network AutoNation. The autonomous Chrysler Pacifica can now be used to move auto parts between AutoNation’s Tempe, Ariz., locations and other repair shops in the area, including those operated by independent third parties. It’s bound to make the consumer’s vehicle maintenance and repair experience more time efficient and reliable. Previously, the relationship led to Waymo’s Pacificas being serviced at AutoNation garages, and as a mobility source for AutoNation customers to get rides to their dealerships.

Lyft Level 5:  On March 28, Lyft began testing on public roads. Lyft has hired over 300 engineers, applied researchers, product managers, operations managers, and more. The focus has been on creating the world’s best computer vision, robotics, and machine learning experts. Cited accomplishments include 3D segmentation frameworks, new methods of evaluating energy efficiency in vehicles, and tracking vehicle movement using crowd-sourced maps.

The investment from General Motors has merely provided Lyft with needed capital. The company’s autonomous ride group, called Lyft Level 5, about a year ago launched a public self-driving program in Las Vegas with partner Aptiv. In August 2018, the project surpassed 5,000 self-driving rides. That recently surpassed over 50,000 autonomous rides to Lyft passengers. The company said it makes it the largest self-driving program in the US.

Waymo is another partner, where some its self-driving minivans are available for Lyft ride sharing. It’s restricted to Waymo’s authorized zone outside of Phoenix. Waymo CEO Krafcik believes the relationship gives both companies “the opportunity to collect valuable feedback.”

Last spring, Lyft said in its mandatory IPO filing that it wants to begin providing self-driving ride-hail trips on the app within five years. Within a decade, Lyft wants to be ready to provide a network of autonomous vehicles providing a majority of its trips. Five years later, the company wants to see its “purpose-built” self-driving vehicles on the road — able to take passengers on long-haul journeys.

Advanced Technologies Group (Uber ATG):  Before being forced out, Uber founder and former chief executive, Travis Kalanick, said in 2016 that self-driving technology was “basically existential” for the company.

The company believes the future of mobility is increasingly shared, sustainable, and automated. The payoff will be big — supporting sustainability, helping make roads safer, and making transportation more affordable for everyone. But the capital drain continues.

Questions have come and gone about whether Uber will be able to stay in the autonomous vehicle race, with things ending badly in its Pittsburgh test market years ago. Last year’s pedestrian fatality also raises the challenges of clearing the investigation and restoring trust in its ability to safety test its AVs.

Uber is still testing adapted Volvo vehicles in its partnership with Volvo Cars through its, a company that does emphasize safety. A test project with Toyota also continues. Another alliance exists with PTIO, the Partnership for Transportation Innovation and Opportunity, to find solutions that ensure everyone benefits from the adoption of self-driving technology.

AV testing through Advanced Technologies Group (Uber ATG) continues in Dallas, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Toronto, with about 32 AVs being monitored and tracked. Dallas has been the center of testing, with ancillary test runs and Uber services being tried out, including shared rides, Uber Eats, JUMP scooters, Transit, Uber Freight, and more. The city’s modern infrastructure, unique traffic patterns, road characteristics, and climate offer new information that inform the company’s ongoing engineering efforts.

Tesla continues to cooperate with officials during investigations over fatalities tied to its Autopilot semi-autonomous feature. But the race is far from over. The company does have a sizable early lead in this space both in terms of autonomous miles driven as well as monetization of its self-driving technology.

The electric automaker has already delivered over 780,000 vehicles since its launch, and most of them come with pre-installed self-driving capabilities that users can unlock by paying for software. The company’s autonomous driving hardware is based on mature technology such as Radar, Ultrasonic, and Passive video, which is cheaper than some rivals who use LIDAR – a laser-based system.

Going this route has enabled the company to equip the hardware as standard in all its vehicles, irrespective of whether or not a user enables it by paying money.
As the company’s vehicles are estimated to have driven over 1.88 billion Autopilot miles in total thus far, this could be further enhancing Tesla’s log of driving data.

CEO Elon Musk has suggested that its AV system will be available in various applications, including as a revenue source for owners. Those opting in can rent their Model 3, or other Tesla vehicle, out to Uber and Lyft drivers (or another ride-hailing firm) needing an autonomous EV to do their work.

Maven and GM:  In May, GM began shuttering its Maven car-sharing business in eight major U.S. cities, including Boston, Chicago and New York. GM won’t ending Maven anytime soon, but it is taking much longer than hoped to expand. It started up in early 2016 when a team of engineers and project managers were brought over from Google and Zipcar, along with staff it acquired from Sidecar, a failed competitor to Uber and Lyft.

Business has been smaller and slower than anticipated, and with competition coming from established car-sharing brands Zipcar and Car2Go. Two other segments were added — Maven Gig, a rental service for carless Uber and Lyft drivers. Maven Reserve added longer-term rentals; and the latest sub-segment is a peer-to-peer rental service. Maven had also been a good channel for testing out EVs and AVs. In 2017, Maven added over 100 Chevy Bolts to its fleet and participated in GM self-driving car testing.

CEO Mary Barra in recent years had emphasized that her company will become the global leader in advanced, autonomous, and electric vehicles as automakers shift over from vehicle manufacturers to full-service mobility service providers. Maven has been a slow-development projects and AVs are going that route. In July, Its self driving car unit, GM Cruise, said in July it was backing off plans to make available autonomous taxis by the end of this year. More testing of the vehicles will need to happen first.

GM’s $500 million investment in ride-hailing firm Lyft in 2016 has moved far away from any type of joint project, with Lyft continuing to test its own small fleet of self-driving cars without GM’s involvement.

Apple-backed DiDi Chuxing has received a license to operate a fleet of up to 50 self-driving cars on a pilot basis in part of the Jiading district in Shanghai, China. Automakers SAIC and BMW also received permits at the World Autonomous Vehicle Ecosystem Conference on September 16.

Apple had invested about $1 billion in DiDi in 2016. The tech giant has expected that its investment and involvement would boost both companies’ efforts in product research and development — especially in China’s massive auto market. In January, the company cut more than 200 employees from its self-driving car initiative, Project Titan, in what it described as a restructuring. Five months later, Apple confirmed that it had acquired Drive.ai, a self-driving startup backed by more than $77 million in funding.

Didi, a giant ride-hailing company in China, was scheduled to begin picking up ride-hailing passengers with self-driving cars in Shanghai soon. The project will be expanded the program from that city — going toward the deployment of self-driving vehicles outside of China by 2021.

Test rides include another rider providing safety intervention in the event of an emergency. Didi is waiting for a few remaining licenses before it can start transporting customers in AVs. Self-driving rides will be free for customers, and more than 30 different vehicles will be offered for self-driving trips as part of the pilot, the company said.

Amazon:  Amazon continues its move as the central player in goods delivery, warehousing, and integrating technology advancements like delivery drones into the equation. One of the decisions was for Amazon to set up acquisition of 100,000 all-electric delivery vans to Amazon over the next decade. Michigan-based startup Rivian Automotive will be building and delivering them. Amazon chief Jeff Bezos said 100,000-unit fleet will eliminate 4 million metric tons of carbon emissions when fully operational.

Over the last decade, the tech giant has spent billions of dollars working on finding solutions to the “last-mile” problem in urban delivery. The company has built its own fleet of cargo jets, and explored delivery by drone in the form of “Prime Air.” More recently, an increasing percentage of that investment has been directed toward autonomous vehicle technology.

In January, the company introduced the Amazon Scout, a six-wheeled electric-powered delivery robot. Six of these robots are currently making deliveries in a Washington neighborhood during daylight hours, Monday through Friday. The next month, Amazon invested in Aurora Innovation, an autonomous tech startup run by former executives from Google and Tesla.

Penske is getting into car sharing through its Penske Dash subsidiary, with an initial launch in Washington, DC, and Arlington, Va. The trucking logistics, rental, and leasing giant, is offering Volkswagen Jetta SE models for rent by the minute, hour, or day through its proprietary app. Rates are inclusive of fuel, parking, and insurance.

The truck leasing and rental company has joined the race with three other rental companies — Hertz, Avis, and Enterprise — which have been testing out car-sharing projects in recent years. Avis has made the biggest splash with its acquisition of Zipcar.

Penske partnered with Ridecell, which is powering the mobile app, payment processing, parking info, and predictive analytics for the fleet. Members using the service have 24/7 access to a call center and a local fleet operations team.

Operational efficiency will be a big part of the unit’s success, the company said. “We can take advantage of infrastructure through our joint venture partners at Penske Corporation and Penske Truck Leasing, particularly on the service and roadside assistance portion of the car-sharing business,” said Michael Montri, chief operating officer.

Hyundai just announced it will launch a free ride-hailing service with a fleet of autonomous electric cars in Irvine, Calif., starting this month. The news comes after the South Korean automaker announced that it would invest $35 billion in autonomous and electric vehicle development over the next five years.

Hyundai is partnering with AV startup Pony.ai and ride-hailing service Via for the free taxi service. Interested riders can hail a self-driving car via a smartphone app. Korea’s largest automaker said it won’t be fully autonomous. Hyundai says a safety driver will be behind the wheel, and there will also be an additional engineer in the passenger seat.

It’s one piece in the Korean maker’s new global campaign. The company promotes itself as a world-leading smart mobility solutions provider that will be able to offer solutions through its cutting-edge technologies and solutions. That will offer customers “quality time and empower them to pursue their passions at full throttle,” the company said — and has been depicting it in a new global brand campaign called #BecauseofYou.

The first of these TV commercials was filmed in downtown Amsterdam during the morning rush hour. The commercials shows a female office worker being overwhelmed by the traffic — a crisis becomes instantly transformed when she steps out of her Hyundai Nexo fuel-cell SUV and hops onto a Hyundai electric scooter — solving the “last mile” dilemma becoming common in cities around the world with booming populations, and getting to her office on time.

Some automakers backing off:  While 2030 has been named the magic year in a few market reports and conference keynote speeches, the timeline for automated EVs to become the industry norm in global vehicle manufacturing and sales likely will be taking much longer. One auto executive recently spoke to the question.

“The hurdles to battery electric vehicles and complete autonomous driving are still quite high,” Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo recently said in an interview at Honda Motor Co.’s global headquarters.

Honda will focus on gasoline-electric hybrids, not full EVs, through 2030. As for fully autonomous vehicles, Honda will roll out incremental advances that offer real-world safety at affordable prices. The automaker already has a number of new technologies ready to include in its new vehicle lineup, including a hands-off autonomous system for highways. But the company will be taking a “wait-and-see” approach with autonomous and electric vehicles.

Hachigo’s perspectives are shared by other leaders in auto manufacturing, including Japanese rival Toyota’s Executive Vice President Shigeki Tomoyama. The executive last month said in a speech that even with its $10 billion r&d budget, Toyota has always seen the path to commercialization as long and challenging.

Last month, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak said he’s “given up” on ever seeing Level 5 fully autonomous vehicles being allowed on public roads during his lifetime. Apple is still working on a self-driving car project, but Wozniak said it’s become much harder to achieve than had originally been thought.

A new survey by J.D. Power last month supports the conclusion that reaching mass adoption will be taking well over a decade. The study found that consumer sentiment about self-driving vehicles and electrification has stayed flat recently, even through the technology growth has been impressive.

J.D. Power’s 2019 Q3 Mobility Confidence Index Study found that opinions haven’t changed since the last survey three month prior. The index now stands at 36 (on a 100-point scale) for self-driving vehicles and 55 for battery-electric vehicles — identical to the previous one.

“It was a little surprising to find consumer sentiment about self-driving vehicles and electrification has stayed flat,” said Kristin Kolodge, J.D. Power’s executive director-driver interaction and human-machine interface research. “But it shows that consumers are really steadfast in their opinions about new mobility technologies right now, regardless of how close they are to being available for purchase.”

The studies polled more than 5,000 consumers and industry experts on self-driving vehicles, and another 5,000 on battery-electric vehicles. One industry expert in the study agrees with colleagues on how tough the challenge has become. “Tech and automotive companies continue to learn how difficult the problem really is,” the expert said.

In February 2018, a global ride-hailing industry association was formed and found membership in several leading entities — BlaBlaCar, Citymapper, Didi, Keolis, LimeBike, Lyft, Mobike, Motivate, Ofo, Ola, Scoot Networks, Transit, Uber, Via, and Zipcar. They signed the Shared Mobility Principles for Livable Cities today, pledging to prioritize people over vehicles, lower emissions, promote equity and encourage data sharing, among other goals.

The companies estimated they provide about 77 million passenger trips per day in cities around the world. The Shared Mobility Principles offer a vision for the future of cities, and creates alignment between the city governments, private companies, and NGOs working to make them more livable.

These companies and a few others — Waymo, Apple, Tesla, other automakers and automotive suppliers — are expected to be at the center of all of it. Their roles and corporate identities will be transforming, but that will take shape well after 2030.

And in other news……..

Uber and other mobile apps fighting California’s new labor law:  California’s leading mobile app companies — Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Postmates, and Instacart — will be fighting the state’s new law, AB 5, that was approved and signed by the governor in September. AB 5 will essentially be making drivers employees after it becomes enacted on January 1. The Silicon Valley mobility companies are backing what’s called the Protect App-Based Drivers & Services Act, which will become a ballot initiative for the November 2020 election once enough Californians sign a request to have it placed on that ballot. Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash have each contributed $30 million to get the initiative approved by voters; Postmates and Instacart are each contributing $10 million. If enacted, their law would cancel AB 5; it’s being written to ensure drivers and couriers can continue to be independent contractors with flexible work hours. Drivers have been marching in support of the new initiative, which will have incentives built in such as guaranteeing they receive at least 120 percent of minimum wage while on the job. It would reverse the new rules that AB 5 has created for the state. Legal battles are likely to take place in the state’s courts, with class-action lawsuits for workers and suits filed by the mobile app companies attempting to thwart AB 5. For now, Uber and the other Silicon Valley startups are being quiet about how their drivers will be treated after January 1 — if the companies will follow AB 5, or if it will be ignored as they scramble to organize their lobbying and legal battles.

Ford v Ferrari:  For car buffs and racing fans, “Ford v Ferrari” will be a real treat. Released in theaters this coming Friday, the movie dramatizes the 1966 Le Mans 24-hour endurance race, where legendary designer Carroll Shelby’s Ford GT40 was able to knock out reigning champion Ferrari. Mat Damon plays Shelby and Christian Bale plays maverick driver Ken Miles. The filmmakers borrowed cars shown in the film from California-based Shelby Legendary Cars and its parent company, Superformance.

Uber and Lyft riders not happy with LAX:  Airline passengers coming in to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) have to wait longer now to get into their Uber and Lyft rides. Uber and Lyft passengers can no longer wait for the car to arrive curbside at terminals; they have to get on what’s called the LAX-it shuttle and be taken to an offsite station to meet their drivers. The airport continues constructing a major changeover, with a new people mover being set up to carry passengers across the expanding terminals. LAX ground transportation guidelines have been changing for a few years now, and passengers have become more agitated with the wait time and gridlock at the airport with continued construction and roadblocks. Airport administrators hope that setting up the new ride-hailing station will reduce traffic overall for drivers dropping off, and picking up, family and friends on the LAX terminal loop. Getting a ride from Uber and Lyft had been a convenient, cost effective transportation option in the past few years. That’s all changing now, with much of that efficiency being taken away. Air travelers and those driving them have been avoiding LAX whenever possible as traffic has gotten worse. Solutions for travelers include going to another nearby airport whenever possible. However, many cross country and international flights have to go in and out of LAX — and not the Orange County, Long Beach, or Ontario Airports. So changes at LAX greatly affect regular travels living and working in the LA and OC area. For taxi, chauffeured transportation, and shuttle operators, LAX’s changes affecting Uber and Lyft are just deserts for stringent and costly regulations imposed on them for several decades by airports and cities. Uber and Lyft are facing more regulations and fees in London, and the companies can expect government entities around the world to extend more of their own rules and fees as ride hailing continues expanding rapidly in these markets.

BYD Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. announced last week that they have signed an agreement to establish a joint company to research and develop battery electric vehicles (BEVs). The new R&D company, which will work on designing and developing BEVs (including platforms) and related parts, is anticipated to be established in China in 2020, with BYD and Toyota to evenly share 50 percent of the total capital needed. Additionally, BYD and Toyota plan to staff the new company by transferring engineers and the jobs currently involved in related R&D from their respective companies.

When will roads be filled with automated vehicles? Plus, official launch of Fisker Ocean

Here’s part four of a series on predictions that 2030 will be the watershed year to watch for when vehicles, transportation, and the entire auto industry itself will look quite different than it does today.

Five years ago, a speaker at AltCar Expo stirred up a lot of conversation among attendees and a few humorous references by panel speakers during the day. It was big enough for the speaker to be invited back the next year. Tony Seba, Silicon Valley entrepreneur and Stanford University lecturer, made dramatic forecasts about electric transportation, autonomous vehicles, and solar power. One of his revolutionary predictions is that all new vehicle sales in the US will be electrified and autonomous by 2030; and EVs will be powered by solar energy. The prediction came from his model analyzing the technologies’ exponential growth rates in the market.

Earlier that year, in May 2014, Google revealed a new prototype of its self-driving car, which had no steering wheel, gas pedal, or brake pedal, and being 100 percent autonomous. It set off a tidal wave of ambitious goals announced by automakers, media coverage and analysis, and a series of studies and speaker panels on what autonomous vehicles would mean — and how it will soon be the norm with US vehicles and possibly at a global scale.

During this year, KPMG and other analysts were not putting out likely timelines and significant benchmark years for autonomous vehicles (AVs) clearing regulatory hurdles and seeing mass production from major and specialty automakers, and an obvious presence on public roads. Seba’s “disruptive technology” theory is intruiging, but taking the latest look suggests that the new industry and technology hasn’t been building the needed momentum to see historic change over the next decade; not that it’s going to disappear, though.

Safety remains the key barrier to overcome for the new technology to clear regulatory hurdles and find public support. National Transportation Safety Board reports on Uber and Tesla tell some of the story.

Uber Technologies Inc.’s autonomous test vehicles were involved in 37 crashes in the 18 months before a fatal March 2018 self-driving car incident in Tempe, Ariz., the NTSB said on Tuesday. Between September 2016 and March 2018, there were 37 crashes of Uber vehicles in autonomous mode at the time, including 33 that involved another vehicle striking test vehicles. Uber’s self-driving test car that struck and killed a pedestrian in March 2018 wasn’t programmed to recognize and react to jaywalkers, according to the board. The NTSB on Nov. 19 will hold a probable cause hearing on the Arizona crash.

Tesla still has to resolve warnings sent out by fatal crashes that have been attributed to its Autopilot semi-autonomous feature. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in September cited both driver error and Tesla’s Autopilot design as the probable causes of a January 2018 crash, in which a Model S slammed into a parked fire truck at about 31 mph. The driver was distracted and did not see the fire truck, according to the federal agency. NTSB says that Tesla’s Autopilot was also at fault, as its design “permitted the driver to disengage from the driving task.”

KPMG published its second annual Autonomous Vehicle Readiness Index (AVRI) with a metric that takes into account four pillars to determine which country will lead the new transportation mode: policy and legislation; technology and innovation; infrastructure; and consumer acceptance. European countries dominated the rankings this year, with Netherlands at No.1, followed by Singapore, Norway, the US, and Sweden. Norway was a new entry to the list, and passed up the US — which has fallen one place to fourth.

Taking a look at the four categories used by KPMG in the study to develop the measures and methodologies reveals more. For policy and legislation, AV regulations, government-funded AV pilots, and AV-focused agency were key factors; Singapore leads this pillar. For technology and innovation, partnerships, patents, and investments are key factors, with Israel taking the lead this year. For Infrastructure, the Netherlands leads through having the most EV charging stations scaled by the size of its road network, as well as consistently high scores on the other measures. (More on those interesting categories below.) For consumer acceptance, Singapore scored highest overall in the KPMG study, partly due to all of the city-state’s population living in an AV test area.

For countries with a high acceptance rate in AVs, India and Mexico also took leading positions. Those living in Great Britain and the US are the least accepting. A new study by Society of Automotive Engineers International (SAE) with US respondents found that 73 percent of them preferred to share control with their vehicle. An overwhelming 92 percent said it is a requirement to be able to activate an emergency stop function in a self-driving car.

Here are a few other interesting details from the KPMG study and recent news:

  • When looking at the AV infrastructure, some of the factors being reviewed have been density of EV charging stations; quality of mobile internet; 4G coverage (the bridge to much faster 5G networks that are slowing coming out now); and quality of roads.
  • Americans tend to be skeptical about trusting AVs in surveys. But one area of mobility experience that may help adoption in the US and a few other markets is ride hailing. China leads in market penetration of ride-hailing, followed by the US and the UK. Some of the most interesting test projects have involved partners working toward bringing robotaxis and shared rides in AVs — GM working toward its Maven car-sharing unit offering autonomous vehicles including the all-electric Chevrolet Bolt. Uber and Lyft have been investing in it, with Waymo leading the way.
  • Baidu is leading the way in China. China’s search-engine giant is getting the most test miles under its belt, which is critical in building public support for the new technology.
  • Volkswagen is stepping up its efforts to become a leader in autonomous vehicles and ride services by spinning off its own startup that it claims will be among the “best-funded” in the world. Volkswagen Autonomy, or VWAT, plans to bring robot taxis and cargo vans to three continents by 2025.

 

And in other news:

Fisker launch announced:  Fisker Inc. has launched it long-awaited all electric luxury SUV, which the company has named the Fisker Ocean. The company said it will be the “world’s most sustainable vehicle,” built on recycled, vegan and more innovative materials. Fisker said it will be breaking the usual automaker product launch process by revealing a fully running production intent prototype sitting on the actual, completely engineered platform on Jan. 4, 2020. Early reservations will start with the launch of the mobile app later this month, when pricing will be announced. The battery electric vehicle will have 250 to 300 miles per charge, depending on driving conditions, that will come from an approximately 80 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. To learn more, visit www.FiskerInc.com.
BMW and Ford providing charging networks:  The BMW Group will install over 4,100 charging points for electrified vehicles at its German locations by 2021. The new charging infrastructure enables BMW Group employees to charge their cars conveniently at their workplaces. About half of the charging points will also be open to the public. That follows a recent announcement from Ford that it will be offering its all-electric vehicle customers North America’s largest electric vehicle public charging network, with more than 12,000 places to charge, including fast charging, and more than 35,000 charge plugs. Ford said it will be more charging infrastructure provided than from any other automaker. Through FordPass on a mobile device or in each vehicle’s on-screen dashboard, customers will be able to monitor charging at home, and find and pay for easy, one-stop charging at FordPass Charging Network stations.

Volvo Trucks selling EVs in Europe:  Volvo Trucks announced the start of sales of its Volvo FL and Volvo FE electric trucks in selected markets within Europe, meeting the increasing demand for sustainable transport solutions in city environments. “Global urbanization requires urban logistics and truck transport with zero emissions and less noise with increasing urgency. With the Volvo FL Electric and Volvo FE Electric we are able to meet both the strong environmental demands as well as the high commercial requirements of our customers,” said Jonas Odermalm, VP Product Line Electromobility.

Will EVs transform the auto industry by 2030? And more on Trump administration versus California

Here’s another look at forecasts predicting 2030 will be the watershed year to watch for when vehicles, transportation, and the entire auto industry itself will look quite different than it does today. This time, we’ll look at whether plug-in vehicles are likely to overtake internal combustion engine-powered vehicles by 2030.

A new Science magazine article states that: “Electric vehicles are poised to transform nearly every aspect of transportation, including fuel, carbon emissions, costs, repairs, and driving habits.”

That will come from planned mandates coming up soon, that if enacted, include Norway wanting to have all its vehicles be battery electric or plug-in hybrid by 2025; Netherlands banning all gasoline and diesel vehicles by that year; Germany banning internal combustion engines by 2030; and France and Great Britain ending gasoline and diesel car sales by 2040. Not to mention China’s subsidies moving sales of new energy vehicles and Europe and the US seeing strong EV sales. What’s the tipping point? Battery technology, which have a host of challenges to overcome, according to the author.

I would say that two developments will likely slow the pace of EV sales growth we’ve seen over the past nine years, and extend the timing of when we see them make a substantial global impact. One is China cutting its generous subsidies, and the other being a battle between the Trump administration and California’s clean car standards (see news section for more on the battle).

EV sales are declining for now, but how long will that last?

The chart below takes a look at the past decade of battery electric and plug-in hybrid sales since the launch of the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt in late 2010. A few points stand out while reviewing the short history of mass market production-level electric vehicles.

EV sales trends since 2011:  The US was the market leader until 2015, when “new energy vehicle” subsidies began flowing in China and more electric vehicle product offerings entered that market. European countries also began seeing more acceptance of the technology and more EV models to consider. Norway continues to be No. 3 in global EV sales with its extensive government support in subsidies and charging infrastructure. Japan has been in the top five countries for cumulative EV sales.

Two thousand fifteen was the outlier year for US sales, with one of the factors being the Chevrolet Volt dropping in sales as the new next-generation Volt with range boosted from 38 miles to 53 started showing up at dealerships late in the year. Other market trends that pulled EV sales down were low gas prices, fewer incentives, and a broader market shift away from cars and toward SUVs and pickup trucks. But global EV sales kept their upward trajectory, leaping 71.58 percent in 2015 over 2014.

China is by far the leading sales market, with the US following in second with about a quarter of China’s EV sales in the past two years. China’s NEV sales data includes passenger vehicles and heavy-duty commercial vehicles such as buses and sanitation trucks. China’s new energy vehicle mandate and its generous subsidies have brought the purchase prices down substantially. Building out its charging infrastructure has helped, too, as has the launch of a long list of NEVs built and sold by Chinese automakers and joint ventures between foreign automakers and local automakers.

Battery electric vehicles are leading by far in key global markets over plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Last year, BEVs had 66.8% of the US plug-in vehicle market. By December 2018, the stock of new energy vehicles sold in China since 2011 saw 79.4% as BEVs. In Europe during 2018, the sales numbers were closer, with BEVs in the lead by over 40,000 units — 223,284 BEVs and 182,768 PHEVs.

As for popular models, here were the top 10 global sellers in 2018:
1. Tesla Model 3 — 145,846 units sold
2. BAIC EC-Series — 90.637
3. Nissan Leaf — 87,149
4. Tesla Model S — 50,045
5. Tesla Model X — 49,349
6. BYD Qin PHEV — 47,452
7. JAC iEV E/S — 46,586
8. BYD e5 — 46,251
9. Toyota Prius Prime — 45,686
10. Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV — 41,888
Source: InsideEVs

These sales figures show a few trends, one of which is how important the US continues to be for Tesla’s sales. Of the 145,846 Model 3s sold last year, 139,782 were sold in the US. About half of the Model S and Model X units delivered last year were sold in the US with Europe being important for Tesla’s growth. Now with its China plant starting up, that market is expected to be very important for future sales and model introductions.

The BAIC, BYD, and JAC models are sold almost exclusively in China, although BYD is continuing to sign more contracts for electric buses and other commercial vehicles around the world. The Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV are seeing more success outside the US, with Europe being the main marketing focus.

Forecast reports usually cite upcoming vehicle emissions rules, governments moving toward banning gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles, growth in Level 2 and fast-charging stations, and a wide variety of plug-in vehicle offerings — with many more coming to market over the next decade. Automakers expect the pricing to come down as battery costs decline and EV drivetrains, parts, electronic systems, and exterior and interior design, become more economical and efficient in the near future.

What automakers have in the pipelines: Another topic in the reports has been commitments made by manufacturers to roll out an extensive lineup of plug-in vehicles — and sometimes more hybrids and fuel cell vehicles.

The Volkswagen Group continues to lead the charge, expanding its list of new launches in March from 50 to 70 in the near future. The company expects to be building 22 million plug-in vehicles with its new electric drives, such as the MEB, over the next decade on the VW, Audi, Porsche, and SEAT brands — an increase from 15 million in the initial target. The German automaker has collaborated with the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles to demonstrate its vision of EVs and mobility of the future next month. “Building an Electric Future” will open November 20 and will celebrate Volkswagen’s history both globally and locally, as well as introduce VW’s new electric concept vehicles. A global concept unveiling of an all-new ID concept vehicle will take place at a private event on Tuesday, November 19.

BMW AG plans to increase sales of its battery electric and plug-in hybrids by 30 percent every year until 2025 to help meet incoming stringent emission regulation in the European Union. The company moved up its goal for rolling out a lineup of 25 all-electric and plug-in hybrid models by two years to 2023. This would mean BMW will have sold a total of about 700,000 plug-in vehicles by 2025.

Daimler plans to release 10 different all-electric vehicles by 2022. The company is taking a holistic approach to electrification under the new EQ technology and product brand and a charging infrastructure to support it. Daimler will also be electrifying the entire Mercedes‑Benz portfolio. Customers will have the choice of at least one electric alternative in every Mercedes‑Benz model series, taking the total to 50 overall.

Ford Motor Co. is increasing investments in electric vehicles to $11 billion by 2022 and will have 40 hybrid and fully electric vehicles in its model lineup. In April, Ford said it planned to launch more than 30 new Ford and Lincoln vehicles in China over the next three years as it tries to reverse a decline in sales in the world’s biggest auto market; and about one third of them will be EVs. This summer, Ford revealed its first all-electric SUV for that market, the Territory EV, built on Chinese partner Jianling’s compact SUV. It follows a plug-in hybrid variant of the Ford Mondeo, and will be its second plug-in vehicle for the Chinese market.

Toyota has a company goal of selling 5.5 million electrified, Toyota-brand vehicles annually by 2030, up from about 1.6 million vehicles now. The company set up a $10 billion r&d fund for catching up with competitors, and has created a new EV architecture that offers flexibility in size and battery power.

Honda announced a week ago that it will sell only plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles in Europe starting in 2022, three years earlier than previously planned. The Japanese automaker will be launching six new models in Europe over the next three years. The company said it shows its confidence in the technology and seeing regulatory changes that are changing the course of Europe’s auto industry. “The pace of change in regulation, the market, and consumer behavior in Europe means that the shift towards electrification is happening faster here than anywhere else,” said Tom Gardner, senior vice president at Honda.

Tesla has three models poised to come out in the next few years. The Tesla Roadster 2020 is the first-ever follow-up to the company’s debut electric car, the Roadster 2008. CEO Elon Musk boasts that the upcoming supercar will be able to go from 0 to 60 in 1.9 seconds, and can reach a top speed of 250 miles-per-hour. It will cost at least $200,000 when it rolls out next year. The compact SUV Model Y was revealed in March 2019, and will be the company’s second mass market model after the Model 3. It will be able to go 300 miles on a single charge, and it will begin shipping in late 2020 with the standard range model following in Spring 2021. Starting prices for four different variations will go from $39,000 to $60,000. Musk brags that it will have SUV functionality, it will ride like a sports car, and will be the safest SUV in the world. The Tesla Semi heavy-duty truck will go into production next year, and will go nearly 400 miles on a 30-minute charge. The company also says it will go from 0-60 in 20 seconds while hauling 80,000 pounds. It’s expected have a $180,000 starting price.

BYD Company Ltd. sold a total of 520,687 vehicles in 2018, which was made up of petroleum-powered models, all electric, and plug-in hybrids. A Deloitte study forecasted that by 2030, the company will be selling about 18 million units, following Tesla’s expected sales that year of about 22 million vehicles. However, I consider both of these forecast numbers to be extremely optimistic. Last year, BYD narrowly beat Tesla in deliveries to be No. 1 in the world — BYD sold about 250,000 EVs compared toTesla’s 245,240. In April, the company announced six new EV models will be coming up, a mix of all-electric and plug-in hybrid. In July, BYD announced an alliance with Toyota to develop EVs that will be coming out in China between 2020 and 2025. For now, the company is investing heavily in building its clientele for commercial vehicles such as electric buses and trucks in markets all over the world.

Market softening lately:  The last three months have been tough for the Chinese makers, and the US has followed a similar pattern. Year-to-date, the end of September saw global EV sales down to 157,696 units from 175,362, breaking the traditional market growth. US EV sales dropped down to 236,067 for the year as of Sept. 30, 2019 compared to 234,635 for the year on Sept. 30, 2018. September 2018 sales reached 44,589 while September 2019 saw sales down to 33,128 units.

Reductions in electric vehicle subsidies and a cooling economy impacted the Chinese market. The US is seeing a similar sales slide withe overall new vehicle market down 12 percent in September from the previous year, while EVs were down 25.5% year-over-year. One reason for the drop is that the Tesla Model 3 had an unexpectedly high ramp up of production in the second half of 2018.

Tesla Model 3 deliveries are slightly up over last year — 236,067 for the year at the of September, versus 234,635 units through the end of September 2018. The US plug-in vehicle market is expected to decline through this year before a rebound starts next year.

What the forecast numbers look like:  The most commonly cited forecast on 2030 comes from The International Energy Agency’s New Policies Scenario. The study expects that by 2030, global plug-in vehicle sales will reach 23 million for that year and the stock of owned EVs will exceed 130 million vehicles (excluding two and three-wheelers). That’s under one forecast analysis including the impact of announced policy ambitions by several governments; the IEA scenario includes another potential outcome where the number shoots up to 43 million with the stock coming to more than 250 million.

There’ve been other forecasts. In May, Mining and resources giant BHP forecasted that electric vehicles could achieve more than 50 percent share of global new vehicle sales by 2030, and 100 per cent of all vehicle sales by 2050.

Global new vehicle sales are expected to come in at about 80 million units this year. Germany’s Center for Automotive Research (CAR) predicts that in 2022 sales will rise back to 84 million.

Let’s say new vehicle sales reach 100 million by 2030. How much of it would likely be new plug-in vehicles?

Between 2011 and 2018, new EV sales in the US averaged a 56.8 percent annual increase, and global had an average of 67.34 percent. To refine the numbers to more recent market trends, between 2014 to 2018 the average annual growth for US plug-in sales came to 33.69 percent. For global sales, the average annual sales growth between 2014 to 2018 was 57.14 percent with China leading the boom.

Global car and light commercial vehicle sales in 2018 came to about 86 million new vehicle deliveries. Battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle sales came in at 2,018,247 units last year — 2.34 percent of the total. New vehicle sales came in at 17.27 million in the US last year; at 361,307 units, EVs made up 2.09 percent of that total.

So let’s say market conditions look similar in the next few years, without big changes enacted such as a fossil fuel ban in a sizable country. What would that look like?

At the rate of 57 percent in global annual EV sales increases, plug-in vehicles would make up 100 percent of the global new vehicles sales market during 2027. As that scenario would be impossible to reach (aside from an unforeseen miracle), what about viewing a much more conservative forecast — 10 percent annual growth in EV global sales under current market conditions? While a much lower percentage, 10 percent could be realistic given China will be soon cutting out its subsidies, blockades are coming from the Trump administration, downward auto sales in several countries will continue for a while, gasoline prices are staying fairly low, and challenges persist for convincing consumers and fleets to transfer over to EV purchases — charging infrastructure, battery capacity, range getting much better, and perceived long-term value and trustworthiness of transitioning over from ICEs to EVs.

Let’s also assume that EVs making up at least 50 percent of global new vehicle sales would make for a realistic tipping point in emissions reductions, lessening dependence on oil, and hitting a few government targets.

Going with the 10 percent annual sales growth scenario would only bring the number up to about 5,757,995 new EVs sold globally by 2030 — just shy of 6 percent of global new vehicle sales, given the forecast of 100 million units sold by 2030. A recent IHS Markit study, which takes a conservative approach, sees EVs making up 7.6 percent of total new vehicle sales by 2025.

If you take 25 percent annual EV sales growth in global sales, it’s going to look a lot more like the low-end forecast of another study this year. The IEA’s New Policies Scenario expects that by 2030, global EV sales will reach 23 million for that year and the stock of owned EVs will exceed 130 million vehicles.

Perhaps 2040 to 2050 is a more realistic scenario for EVs playing a major role in new vehicle sales, emissions reductions, and having a major impact on oil prices — in terms of hitting the 50 percent mark. If government mandates are enacted and enforced, it would be closer to 2040.

BloombergNEF’s “Electric Vehicle Outlook 2019” report came to a similar conclusion.  The report shows that EVs will take up 57 percent of global passenger vehicle sales by 2040. Electric buses will dominate their sector, holding 81 percent of municipal bus sales by the same date, according to the report.

Norway, Germany, France, China, Costa Rica, South Korea, the UK, Japan, Spain, Taiwan, Portugal, Netherlands, Israel, India, Denmark, and Ireland have proposed a ban on fossil-fuel powered vehicles. Previous Prime Minister Theresa May in June signed the “net-zero” mandate that would cut emissions 80 percent by 2050 compared to 1990 levels. Britain is the first G7 country to commit to a net zero greenhouse gas emissions target for 2050. The new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, is continuing support for the net-zero emissions mandate.

BMW Group may present a more realistic view of how most global automakers are likely to perform in commitment to the new technology in the short term — a slower and gradual strategy rather than launching 20 or more new EV models with a commitment to roll them out in vast numbers by 2025 to 2030 (that VW and other OEMs are championing). BMW predicts it will have sold about 700,000 plug-in vehicles sold by 2025.

The German automaker just released a sales report on EV market share, or “Electromobility in Europe.” The study says that BMW has 13 percent of European sales and Tesla has 20 percent. As for the US, BMW had six plug-in models sold through September, coming in at 9,875 vehicles delivered — 4.18 percent of the country’s EV market.

So, what market conditions will be needed to reach the 50 percent mark? These factors are sure to be watched for:

  • Continuing falls in the price of EV batteries. One study reports that since 2010, the average cost of lithium-ion batteries per kilowatt-hour has fallen by 85 percent.
  • Extended range of battery power, 300 miles per charge.
  • Fast charging networks in high-traffic zones, with free access or reasonable user pricing.
  • China’s new energy vehicle mandate, and whether the national government decides to bring it back. Subsidies have also been generously spread by a few other countries (especially Norway); and states, provinces, and cities in North America, Europe, and Asia. Will these continue, and for how long?
  • The future of California’s Advanced Clean Cars Program, and the battle between the state and the Trump administration over the future of those rules and the national standard.
  • Fleet acquisitions, including the Electrification Coalition launched in 2018 and announced by LA Mayor Eric Garcetti — an online portal that provides cities with a single, equal price for EVs and charging infrastructure by aggregating the demand from Climate Mayors cities and other public agencies.
  • Commercial applications for electric vans, light- and medium-duty trucks, and for municipal buses, will make a significant difference. That’s been the case in China, and is starting to take hold in the US and Europe.

EVs have the potential to become the leading powertrain system used in autonomous vehicles in the next couple of decades. The next feature exploring the 2030 trend will analyze when its likely to see regulatory hurdles cleared and self-driving vehicles going into high-volume production.

A few interesting news briefs:
Battle over clean car rules:  General Motors, Toyota, FCA, Hyundai, and the National Automobile Dealers Association, are backing the Trump administration’s efforts to gut fuel economy standards and California’s ability to keep the bar high. These companies said that in a filing with a U.S. appeals court late on Monday, arguing the administration’s rule provided “vehicle manufacturers with the certainty that states cannot interfere with federal fuel economy standards.”
In July, Ford, Honda, and Volkswagen made a deal with California supporting the state’s policies. The Trump administration is preparing to roll back next month the fuel efficiency standards set by the Obama Administration and revoke California’s ability to set stricter clean-car standards, including the zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate. Last month, the US Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published its overhauled rule, called “SAFE Vehicles Rule Part One: One National Standard,” to take effect November 26.

Aftermath of GM strike:  The United Auto Workers and General Motors agreed to partner under their new contract to manage the impact of new technologies that could threaten thousands of jobs. The National Committee on Advanced Technology would meet quarterly review changes the automaker must implement as it tests 3D printing, plans to bring autonomous taxi rides to the streets, and globally rolls out 20 battery-electric vehicles that require fewer parts than their internal combustion counterparts. GM says these EV will come to market by 2023. The Chevrolet Bolt’s powertrain has 80 percent fewer moving parts than a comparable car with a gasoline engine, experts have said. And autonomous vehicles won’t need steering wheels, brake pedals and instrument panels, an expert said. The union has expressed concerns over thousands of jobs going away from these historic changes being made. The automaker has slashed its earnings forecast for 2019, saying that the strike would cost it around $3 billion in profits this year. Production was going back to full speed earlier this week.

Factory expansion for electric truckmaker:  Orange EV, the first original equipment manufacturer to commercially deploy all-electric electric Class 8 trucks, just announced its second facility expansion in four years, moving to a site with more than five times the production capacity in Kansas City, Mo. Orange EV’s Class 8 Heavy Duty terminal trucks have been commercially deployed since 2015, operating daily in railroad inter-modal, LTL freight, manufacturing, distribution centers, port operations, waste management, trans loading, cross docking, warehouse, yard management, third party logistics (3PL), and other container handling operations. More than 60 fleets have chosen Orange EV pure electric terminal trucks for commercial deployment in 14 states across the US. In California, Orange EV trucks have been purchased and are in use at more than 40 customer locations.

Tesla earnings:  Tesla Inc’s third-quarter revenue fell 39 percent in the US, a regulatory filing showed. A record number of cars shipped in the third quarter of 2019 were enough to help Tesla turn a modest profit, according to financial figures released by the electric carmaker on Wednesday. The company reported $143 in net income, and $6.3 billion in revenue — down slightly from second quarter and down about $530 million from Q3 2018. Tesla reported that the drop in revenue comes from a tripling in the number of customers leasing its cars, mainly from Model 3 leases that launched in April of this year.

EV cash for clunkers:  US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) proposed a plan last week in an op-ed piece that would provide car owners with “large discounts” if they trade in their polluting, gas-powered vehicles for “clean” electric ones. It would be similar to the the Obama administration’s “cash-for-clunkers” program initiated in 2009. The legislation has yet to be written and introduced, but is based on supporting that every vehicle on the road is zero-emission by 2040; and the legislation would result in 63 million fewer gasoline-powered cars on roads by 2030.

GM strike won’t be ending anytime soon, What to expect by 2030 part 2

The United Auto Workers’ strike shows no signs of ending anytime soon — putting more than 48,000 workers in the US off the job since Sept. 16 and costing General Motors more than $1 billion as of Monday; and supplier partners are loosing hundreds of thousands per day. Virtually all of its North American assembly lines are off-line as labor and management attempt to negotiate a settlement contract over wages, healthcare, and job security on the labor side and management’s vision of where it needs to go in the future. Last month, the UAW signed indefinite contract extensions with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Ford Motor Co. The GM contract has historically set the tone and some of the details for the next wave with the other two major domestic automakers.

Contract settlement details from a Monday night offer from GM began to emerge yesterday. Wage increases or a lump-sum payment offered over four years of the proposed contract have been added. The union had rejected the initial offer and submitted a counterproposal Tuesday over disagreements on health care, wages, temporary workers, skilled trades, job security and “concessionary” measures. Talks are expected to resume today.

Along with the strike, two more former UAW leaders have agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors as the government builds a criminal case against some of the union’s leaders for embezzling more than $1 million funds for personal luxuries. Since it started, the corruption investigation has been marked by federal raids and criminal charges against 11 people linked to the UAW and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. So far, nine convictions have been secured over breaking labor laws, taking kickbacks, bribes, and embezzlement. The crisis continues to raise flags over the future of the UAW — and how it will affect the GM strike.

Gaining loyal union membership has been a tougher sell in the US than in Europe and other parts of the world. Membership has been declining since the 1970s, with corruption scandals and strikes adding to worker frustration and declining public support. None of the “transplant” foreign automakers operating in the US have unionized workers. Volkswagen workers at the Chattanooga, Tenn., plant rejected UAW membership in June. Tesla chief Elon Musk continues to fight off moves by the UAW and complaints filed under state labor laws. A California judge ruled Friday that Musk and other company executives have been illegally sabotaging employee efforts to form a union. While these are considered unfair labor practices, Tesla doesn’t face any real penalties.

The economic trends started in the 1970s are continuing — closing plants in the US and opening them up again in other countries with cheaper labor and other costs; bringing in robotics to take over more of the assembly plant jobs; adopting the latest technologies to meet consumer demands, government regulations, and to gain competitive brand images to increase sales and profits. As economists have said in recent years, globalization, technology innovation, and corporate profits, are the defining elements in the future of corporations. Workers have less voice and are being pushed into looking for alternative futures for themselves and their kids. It’s a tough change to make for those coming from multi-generational families and communities that had done very well with auto industry jobs.

Management careers have also been hard hit over the past 30 years as well — with layoffs and forced geographic moves overseas disrupting the lives of thousands of low-to-mid-level management employees. High-level executives have also seen their share of turmoil since the Great Recession, with several surprising cuts being made as major automakers merge with former competitors and startup new business units to meet the fast-changing world of mobility. Shareholders expect to see better profit margins and stock prices, no matter what.

What to expect by 2030 part 2: What generation is most likely to lead the mobility transformation?  General Motors CEO Mary Barra is confident her company will be taking a leading role in mobility services of the future. For those less interested in owning a car, or having to drive and park it everywhere, what about sharing an autonomous Chevy Bolt through your local Maven outlet? Just tap into your mobile app and have it show up in front of your workplace.

The big question becomes: Who will be the customer?

Millennials (about 23 to 38 years old in 2019) broke open barriers by waiting longer to buy their first car — and becoming rabid fans and riders with Uber, Lyft, Zipcar. There have been other on-demand mobility services in meal delivery, groceries, and other needed services for extremely busy people ready and willing to pay.

Some things are changing — with Millennials in the US buying property less than the two generations ahead — Generation X and Baby Boomers. They’re moving to cities and seeing rent, lease payments, and property values shoot up. They’d also lived through the Great Recession, and are carrying concerns over another bout of economic turbulence coming up.

But when it comes to buying cars, Millennials are becoming a lot like previous generations, though they are interested in trying out electrified models — battery electric, plug-in hybrid, and hybrid. And Millennials still make up the lion’s share of Uber and Lyft riders; though the next generation is taking its share of rides, too.

Generation Z — teenagers through age 23 — are still a bit young to determine what sort of economic impact they’ll be having on car sales and other markets. One thing they do have in common with Millennials is being challenging in the workplace. It’s very typical to talk to managers in their 40s through 60s and hear complaints about getting them to do their jobs as they’ve been asked to do — very different from their experience. Supervisors advise that you think a bit differently about where the “youngsters” are coming from. They do tend to be talented, hard-working employees, but it might take a bit longer — and employers are advised to help them find their own sense of purpose and meaning in their work.

A recent survey study by Allison+Partners suggests that changing definitions of transportation and an influx of new mobility solutions are paving the way for the birth of the “mobility culture.”

Gen Z has even less interest in getting their driver’s licenses than previous generations. They see cars as yet another appliance they’ll need to have access to someday that ranks up their with smartphones and gaming machines like Xbox. In the study, they said autonomous vehicles make a lot of sense, and 60 percent of them believe they’ll be using self-driving cars by 2030.

Owning their own prestigious car — whether that be a Tesla or a Lexus — doesn’t matter as much, or make as much sense. Coming of age as the recession finished up, and smartphones became the new norm, pragmatism is the benchmark. The Allison+Partners study concluded that Gen Z will be the first generation in large numbers to get rides from Waymo, Maven, Uber, Lyft, and the next iteration of offerings from Tesla, Volvo, Audi, BMW, Toyota, Honda, and other makers rolling out new options in connectivity, automation, electrification, and safety — along with mobility services of their own.

Mobility won’t be taking over by 2030, with new vehicle sales continuing to see growth in global markets — and concerns over safety and reliability will take several years to be alleviated, especially for autonomous vehicles. But the transformation appears to be occurring, with Gen Z taking the lead.

A few interesting news briefs:
Ford and Mahindra:  Ford is lessening its presence in India, taking a 49 percent share to Mahindra’s 51 percent through a new joint venture managed by Mahindra in the troubled auto market. The two companies will continue working on developing battery-powered cars, but Ford is needing to scale back in a key global auto market that’s been plunging in sales for nearly a year (and one that rival General Motors left in late 2017). The Indian government has been issuing incentives to grow electric vehicle sales, which have been down to only about 2,000 a year — nowhere near what New Dehli wants to see for emissions targets and reliance on oil imports.

Tesla in China:  Tesla’s Shanghai factory plant aims to start production this month but it is unclear when it will meet year-end production targets due to uncertainties around orders, labor, and suppliers. Tesla plans to produce at least 1,000 Model 3s a week from the new factory by the end of this year. The $2 billion factory gained government approval last month and is on schedule to start production in October, the sources said.

Amazon making biggest EV purchase ever:  Michigan-based startup Rivian Automotive will be building and delivering 100,000 electric vans to Amazon over the next decade. The first 10,000 will start hitting roads in 2021 and completing the delivery the next year, with all 100,000 EVs fully operational in Amazon’s fleet by 2030. It makes for the largest EV purchase ever. Amazon chief Jeff Bezos said 100,000-unit fleet will eliminate 4 million metric tons of carbon emissions when fully operational.

Electrify America chargers:  Volkswagen’s Electrify America announced yesterday that it will be offering Level 2 electric vehicle home chargers. Customers can now purchase the Electrify America Electric Vehicle Home Charger on Amazon for $499. The product is also accessible through electrifyamerica.com/charging-at-home. The company said its compatible with all electric vehicles available in the North American market today. It features a charging power of up to 7.6kW – about 6 times faster than the typical Level 1 charger provided to some new EV owners, depending on vehicle make and model.

 

 

How a major oil refiner is earning GHG credits in California

For anyone wondering how things are going in California with compliance to AB 32 and the 2016 revision demanding that greenhouse gas emissions be scaled back 40 percent to 1990 levels by 2030, here’s a quick case study. Marathon Petroleum Co. is asking for permission to generate Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) credits at its Tesoro refinery in Martinez, located in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area. California Air Resources Board posted a refinery project application for public comment on Sept. 20, which will close on Sept. 30, 2019.

You can read CARB’s summary of the project, which the agency said it plans to endorse if all the received comments are addressed satisfactorily by Marathon. In 2017, the company took on an electrification project that replaced a natural gas-fired turbine with an electric motor that drives the refrigeration compressor at the alkylation unit. The project also reduces criteria air pollutants and toxic air contaminants emitted by the refinery. (By the way, the Tesoro brand name is going away following a 2017 rebranding as Andeavor Corp. and a $23.3 billion merger last year of Andeavor and Marathon. Now everything falls under the Marathon corporate logo.)

The Martinez refinery has crude oil capacity of 161,000 barrels per calendar day (bpcd), and employs about 740 workers. Marathon’s other California location, the Los Angeles Tesoro refinery based in Wilmington, has crude oil capacity at 363,000 bpcd, about 1,620 employees, and is the largest refinery on the west coast. Marathon is earning additional LCFS and other California credits at the Watson Cogeneration Plant located within the Wilmington refinery’s complex. The  cogeneration plant produces 400 megawatts for local refineries and sells excess electricity to the local utility grid. Marathon and Tesoro bought former majority owner BP’s share in 2012.

Marathon explained to investors in its annual report that the company has to meet compliance with the state’s stringent climate change and clean air rules — and LCFS credits and the state’s cap and trade quarterly auction system are the best ways to hit the target. “We may experience a decrease in demand for refined products due to an increase in combined fleet mileage or due to refined products being replaced by renewable fuels. Demand for our refined products also may decrease as a result of low carbon fuel standard programs or electric vehicle mandates,” Marathon said in its 2018 annual report.

The LCFS requires a gradual reduction in carbon intensity, reaching a 10 percent reduction in 2020, and last year CARB extended that out to 20 percent by 2030. CARB sees LCFS working well, helping the state meet its 3 percent annual GHG reduction targets and helping to clean the air at some of the nation’s most polluted metro zones. It’s also spurred innovation in low-carbon transportation fuels such as hydrogen, electricity, biodiesel, and renewable natural gas.

Oil companies and refineries have done their share of pushing the state to rollback some of the stringent and costly requirements that the oil industry (and others such as power plants) has to meet. But more of the battle was against farmers and ethanol producers over blocking extending the national E-10 gasoline standard to E-15 or higher. California’s compliance options have been more viable for some of the oil companies and refineries.

In June, CARB reached a $1.36 million settlement with Tesoro and owner Marathon for violating the LCFS. The company had informed CARB of its misreporting of its transportation fuels sold in California. Marathon does seem to accept the challenges of doing business in California and probably won’t be pulling the shutters on its refineries anytime soon. While there are less expensive states to do business in, California is a major market for oil shipping, refining, and keeping gas stations supplied.

It’s been a win-win scenario for California with GHG reductions and well-funded clean transportation and renewable energy programs coming from compliance. In October, CARB approved a $483 million plan to fund clean car rebates, zero-emission transit and school buses, clean trucks, and other innovative, clean transportation and mobility pilot projects. Of that total, $455 million came from the cap-and-trade program, and the remaining $28 million came from the Air Quality Improvement Program. Another recent contribution came from $92 million in LCFS credit funds supporting transportation electrification in 2016.

California’s LCFS is being adopted in other states and Canada, and its ZEV mandates and clean vehicle incentives have followed a similar path. The state led a federal lawsuit filing on Friday that includes 22 other states against the Trump administration’s move to revoke their rights to enact fuel economy and emissions rules outside the national standard. It includes those 13 states that had joined California’s coalition following its vehicle emissions rules — but it also includes states like Michigan, Wisconsin, and North Carolina that Trump had won in the 2016 election. It’s a an age-old battle in the US: state rights vs. Washington’s ultimate power; and it shows the wide polarity between the Trump administration and the state of California.

Q&A on California’s AB 5 and how Uber and Lyft will be impacted, Saudi Arabia drone airstrike escalates oil tensions

A landmark law that would make many gig economy workers employees was approved by the state senate late Tuesday night in California, after months of tension between labor groups, on-demand mobile app companies like Uber and Lyft, and workers’ rights advocates. After endorsing Assembly Bill 5 on Labor Day, Governor Gavin Newsom is expected to be signing the bill into law very soon. If so, the measure will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

Experts say AB5 has the potential to curb labor violations, increase employee bargaining power, and fundamentally alter California’s booming gig economy. US Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has introduced a similar bill in Washington (Workplace Democracy Act), and other states are expected to launch copycat bills in their legislatures. Labor unions could be brought in, or some other entities representing groups of workers for collective bargaining and enforcing the new law (such as new groups including Gig Workers Rising.) It was first introduced in December by Democratic Assembly member Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, and since then the bill has gone through several iterations.

The state wants to stop losing tax revenue — which is another part of how it came to be. California’s Department of Industrial Relations estimates that the state loses about $7 billion a year in payroll taxes due to company misclassification.

What companies will be most affected by it?

Under AB 5, close to one million ride-hailing workers, on-demand delivery drivers, manicurists, and janitors in California will be eligible for the same benefits, minimum wage, and vacation days that full employees are. The final version of the bill includes exclusions for certain industries: lawyers, architects, realtors, hairstylists, fishermen, and freelance writers and editors. That’s based on their jobs not being subject to the law because their industries allow them to negotiate.

The companies most affected will be app-based on-demand mobility companies — in California its made up of about 400,000 people driving for Uber and Lyft, delivering meals for Postmates and DoorDash and groceries for Instacart, other competitors in mobile app services, and for those fulfilling specialized services such as Task Rabbit. A few of these companies, led by Uber and Lyft, say that the law will provide an existential threat to their continued existence. Barclays estimates that Uber’s annual operating costs in California will grow by more than $500 million, and Lyft’s will grow by $290 million.

Trucking firms are quite concerned about AB 5 impacting their profits, as working with independent contractor truck drivers has been common in the industry for years. The bill was opposed by the California Trucking Association through the argument that one of the laws’s standards would make it difficult, if not impossible, to continue using independent contractors. In more recent years, startup firms have been using Uber’s model with a software platform that can bring together drivers with trucking companies for freight-hauling trips.

Who will be representing drivers?

That’s one of the leading questions for those impacted by AB 5. Labor unions are mentioned frequently, but there will be other entities representing drivers and other workers affected by AB 5. New groups are being organized to represent independent contractors under the new law, but there are a few experienced law firms that have been representing gig economy workers in recent years.

One likely scenario is that the first version of collective bargaining will start with lawyers filing for labor arbitration hearings and class-action lawsuits in California courts. Attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan is well known for filing for arbitration, and class-action suits, against Uber and other mobility companies, seeking fair pay for drivers and classifying them as employees. There are several other large law firms in California that have negotiated settlements for independent contractors working for Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Postmates, and other gig economy firms.

The first suit has already been filed — on Wednesday afternoon when an Antioch, Calif.-based Uber driver filed a proposed class-action case against Uber Technologies, Inc., for misclassifying her and other California drivers as independent contractors rather than employees. Filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, the case cites AB 5.

Where did all of it start?

A 2005 lawsuit in California paved the way for AB 5. In 2018, the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of workers in the case Dynamex Operations West v. Superior Court. Dynamex is a nationwide same-day courier and delivery service that offers on-demand pickup and delivery services. Prior to 2004, Dynamex classified its California drivers as employees. Starting in 2004, the company converted all of its drivers to independent contractors as a cost savings measure.

The 2018 ruling essentially created the “ABC test” as precedent, but it only relates to workers seeking minimum wages and overtime pay. Under the test, a worker is only an independent contractor if they meet all three parts:

> The worker is free from the control and direction of the company in relation to the performance of the work, both under the contract and in fact;

> The worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hirer’s business;

> The worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed for the hirer.

Another way of saying it is that if the worker is performing a task that’s central to the company’s functioning, and if their wages are set by the company, they’re more likely to be considered employees.

What do Uber and Lyft think?

Uber and Lyft are dismissing AB 5, and say it will remain business as usual on how drivers are paid. They know that many pleas will be made to reclassify drivers, but they say they’ll be able to pass the new test and their drivers will remain independent contractors. But they and several other mobile app companies fought hard against the bill passing.

Fares will have to go up to cover these additional costs for these two publicly traded companies that have struggled to become profitable. One analyst estimates that 25 percent fare increases in California will be a necessity. That will take some of the edge away from competing with taxis, livery companies, limousine operators, shuttle services, and other transportation providers. But it will still be much lower, with Uber and Lyft typically described as being half the cost of other transportation modes.

Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash have all contributed $30 million each into a fund for a 2020 California ballot proposal that would counteract AB 5. The proposal hasn’t been written yet, and it’s expected to include some concessions to labor such as a guaranteed wage floor if drivers aren’t classified as employees.

What do drivers think?

Uber and Lyft drivers have had their share of work stoppages and public protests calling for fair pay, and sometimes for reclassification as employees. A lot of drivers, however, would like things to stay the same. They may not be making the kind of income they need long term, but they do appreciate the opportunity to quickly bring in decent earnings under flexible conditions.

Unlike other on-demand jobs that require scheduling, Uber and Lyft drivers can set their own hours. They can sign in and out of the app at will to take care of personal business and get some time off to relax and have a meal. Other mobile apps offer some flexibility, and drivers are allowed to set their own weekly schedules during a set time, on a first-come, first-served model.

Yet no matter how often the argument is made about freedom over strict work hours, drivers are feeling the squeeze. They’re typically given generous incentives for joining the networks, getting five-star customer ratings, bringing in their friends as drivers, and working long hours. But that eventually fades away when per trip earnings are cut back as the companies cite pressure to reduce their costs. Drivers have to find the best, peak demand hours to work where they will get rides and deliveries, and earn decent pay. They also face the ominous threat of being “deactivated,” which would mean being fired if they were employees, without warning.

The inconsistency in the work and pay can be very frustrating. There’s nothing worse than scheduling a block of hours, and then to sit there looking at your smartphone for long periods wondering when the trips will begin. Near the end of the shift, downtime could be dragging on when suddenly another ride or order is offered to you that will take an extra hour after the end time to fulfill, and may conflict with personal plans. 

Drivers do value the flexibility in meeting their goals, but the advantage always goes to drivers willing to work long hours. The new law could push Uber and Lyft to give preference to the workers who can and do work full-time hours in California, says Robert Maxim, a research associate for the Brookings Institute’s Metropolitan Policy Program.

Which labor unions could be representing these workers?

This is a gray area, as most drivers in passenger trips and freight hauling don’t have union membership. Labor unions have progressively lost membership since the 1980s, and are taking on battles as much as they can such as the UAW announcing a nationwide strike after negotiations with GM stalled. Here are a few unions that could be involved in representing California workers under AB 5………..

> Teamsters has 1.3 million members, representing heavy-duty truck freight hauler drivers and over 200,000 UPS drivers. Independent truck drivers may want to join up with them.

> Service Employees International Union (SEIU) disputed reports of a backroom deal made with Uber and Lyft executives, saying that the union supports AB 5 and full employee status for drivers. SEIU is known for its 1.9 million members in hospitals, home care, and nursing homes; public services (such as city and county workers); and property services (janitors and cleaners). With AB 5 addressing janitors and cleaners, SEIU will likely be involved in contract negotiations for these workers.

> Transport Workers Union of America represents more than 150,000 members across the airline, railroad, transit, universities, utilities, and services sectors. They’re not likely to be involved and see most of their membership on the east coast.

As mentioned earlier, new entities such as Gig Workers Rising are being created to take advantage of the opportunity to collectively organize for independent contractors.

A few interesting news briefs:

  • Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels hit major Saudi Arabian oil installations during a drone airstrike early Saturday. The Khurais oilfield operated by Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil giant, and the Abqaiq oil processing facility, were struck by a number of drones that caused fires at the plants. Saudi Arabia shut down half its oil production Saturday, which is expected to impact almost 5.7 million barrels of crude production a day, about 5% of the world’s daily oil production; and up to 70 percent of the country’s crude output. The government said the attacks also led to a halt in gas production that will reduce the supply of ethane and natural gas liquids by 50 percent. Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser said nobody was hurt in the attacks and emergency crews contained the fires. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for ordering the attack, in tweets on Saturday, while Iran said it had nothing to do with the bombing. President Donald Trump later tweeted that the US has “reason to believe that we know” who is responsible for the attack and the country is “locked and loaded depending on verification.” Houthi rebels in Yemen have claimed responsibility for the attacks, and said 10 drones had targeted the oil installations; reports are coming out that the attack may also have been caused by cruise missiles. The US secretary of state and presidents’ remarks came amid rising tensions between Washington and Tehran after President Trump’s decision last year to pull the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal.
  • The Frankfurt Motor Show continues to showcase electric vehicle launches as European automakers invest tens of billions into their new lineups to comply with stricter emissions rules and expected growing demand. Volkswagen, Porsche and Mercedes-Benz unveiled electric models that will be heading to dealerships soon. VW’s ID.3, the first model from its new MEB product line, and Porsche’s high-performance Taycan electric sports car, grabbed much of the attention. Pressure is mounting on automakers to go green. On Saturday, thousands of protesters marched in front of the car show to demand a swift end to internal combustion engines and a shift to clean vehicles.
  • For fans of the HBO series, “Game of Thrones,” Henrik Fisker is in a good position to showcase his upcoming all-electric SUV. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who played Jaime Lannister on the recently completed popular TV series, has been a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for climate change and other social issues. Now he’ll be serving as a partner and sustainability adviser to Fisker Inc. chairman and CEO Fisker in working toward a future with advanced, affordable, electric mobility. It will be a good fit in helping the UN meet as many sustainability goals as possible, the company said. Fisker Inc. will unveil its electric SUV at the end of this year. The company said it will offer a range of approximately 275 to 300 miles per charge.
    German auto supplier Bosch said it has earned about 13 billion euros ($14.5 billion) since the beginning of 2018 through “electromobility” orders. That product lineup includes software, production projects for electrical powertrains, automated valet parking, and other projects focused on making mobility more automated, connected, and personallzed.
  • Volvo Group North America became the first trucking OEM to join the US Department of Energy’s Better Plant Supply Chain Initiative. The company recruited eight Volvo Group vendors to commit to reducing energy consumption by 25 percent over 10 years. The federal agency said that 85 percent of US energy consumption is a result of the industrial supply chain, a majority of which is comprised of small- to medium-sized manufacturing companies.