Sobering news has been given to me by fellow Californians. Gov. Gavin Newsom may be ruining what was once great about California.
A co-worker told me about how he’s leaving the state, maybe to Florida. A few hours later at lunch, an old friend told me about leaving the state and moving to Japan to take a job. He’s concerned that Newsom is turning the state into “Commifornia” that’s going to drive up taxes and the cost of living even further. He’s especially concerned about Newsom recently signing bills to create more affordable housing in California; the new laws allow more duplexes and small apartment buildings in certain neighborhoods. He’s afraid that will bring him a few undesirable neighbors.
My co-worker would agree, and had a long list of problems with what’s going on in Washington, DC, as well. Newsom’s California is not for him, and he may need to leave the country. I didn’t ask whether they’d voted to recall Newsom last month, but I assume they did.
Maybe they’re pragmatic libertarians. I haven’t heard Trump’s name come up lately, or a Republicans vs. Democrats political battle. That was resolved on inauguration regardless of the January 6 chaos and Trump’s continued claim that the election was rigged. I think the two men I spoke to the other day wouldn’t be Trump true believers; but they don’t like what the state stands for and that it does cost more to live here than in a few neighboring states, several other states, and plenty of other countries. Panama was one I heard about that might be the destination of a move.
I have heard that voice coming from others, too. When I go to work in Costa Mesa, it’s an interesting mix of ex-hippies, surfers, creative workers, rich people from Newport Beach, Trump backers, visitors from other countries, vegans, environmentalists, and working people who worry about the cost of living going up. They might bring up the COVID-19 economy and how things are going up in prices and are taking long to receive — a new car, parts for their house remodel, electronics, and more.
For those wanting to leave the state, there’s a good long list of complaints: high cost of living, high taxes, job loss, and crowdedness make the list. There’s also the large homeless population, air that could be cleaner, road construction and traffic jams, and prices that keep going up.
What about diversity? I don’t see that one mentioned or hear it in conversations, but my gut instinct is that many white people are leaving because the Latinx (Latino/a) population has been growing along with other people of color. Public Policy Institute of California reported that no one group has 51%. As of 2019, it broke out to 39% of state residents are Latinx, 36% are white, 15% are Asian or Pacific Islander, 6% are African American, fewer than 1% are Native American or Alaska Natives, and 3% are multiracial or other, according to the 2019 American Community Survey.
There’s also a lot of young people moving here for school and work. That ties in with an overall population trend toward Millenials and Generation Z — meaning that teenagers through people in their early 40s fit into these two large demographic groups.
Along with those planning to leave California, recent conversations have been about whether you stay in California as you age and head to retirement years. Can you afford it?
As part of my master’s degree program in strategic communication, I’ve been working on a paper on Gen Z (teenager through late 20s) going to college and surging out into the workforce. They are a bit different, even when compared to Millennials. They’ve been “digital natives,” the first generation to be able to teach grandparents how to use their smartphones and play video games at four years old.
They’re also very open and straightforward in conversation, the workplace, and on social media — about race issues, gender identity, sexual orientation, and climate change. They may have a friend who’s been through transgender surgery, and they get very annoyed if one of their parents express concerns over one of their friends being in the LBGTQ community — or that their son or daughter is one of them. Or they may be white and just got married to a black person and they’re going to have kids.
I took that subject matter in my paper for a couple of reasons: one is that I’ll be working with Gen Xers in the next two years when I finish grad school and start teaching journalism and communication college courses. The other is that I have Gen X family members, who openly share with me about any of these questions. Their friends, and some of my co-workers, have also added to the conversations, and have made the research very insightful and never dull.
They love California, and I would tend to agree. Besides the weather, a long list of places I love to go to, and the kind of people who live here, there are other reasons.
Let’s look at a few interesting facts about the state:
U.S. Electric Vehicle Sales First Half 2021 National: 310,272 California: 121,006 Source: California Energy Commission
EVs made up 10.66% of the vehicles sold in California during the second quarter of 2021, according to Detroit Bureau. The top two selling EVs in California were Teslas: the Model Y and Model 3.
Non-C02 emitting electric generation accounted for 51% of in-state generation in 2020, down from 57% in 2019. That came from nuclear, large hydroelectric, and renewables. Total renewables reached 33%, up 2.5% from 2019 levels.
Residential rooftop solar photovoltaic systems directly reduce the measured delivery of power from the state’s fleet of utility-scale power plants. As a homeowner with solar power panels on the roof, I’m proud to hear that.
While Tesla has a lot going on out-of-state, the company just broke ground in Lathrop, in San Joaquin County, Calif., to build a new “Megafactory” planned facility. The company will be making Megapacks, the energy-storage product Tesla sells to utilities. That will create more jobs for the company and for the state. It had been souring lately, when CEO Elon Musk moved to Texas in December and talked dow California polities. There’s also a new factory for production of the Model Y and Cybertruck in Austin. But like other companies, Tesla won’t be leaving the state behind entirely.
California plans to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars statewide by 2035, Newsom announced a little over a year ago.
California, the rest of the US, and probably most of the world, will be continuing through a very stressful and strange time in our history. Murders increased 30 percent in the U.S. last year according to FBI statistics, and this year is up, too, though at a slower rate.
Clearing through COVID-19 would help quite a bit, but the polarity and struggle over political, social, economic, environmental, cultural, and other issues, won’t be getting any easier anytime soon.
And in other news………… More than 100 U.S. House lawmakers urged Speaker Nancy Pelosi today to keep a $4,500 tax credit incentive for union-built electric vehicles (EV) in a massive spending bill. In the letter, 107 Democrats asked the speaker to retain the credit supported by the United Auto Workers and US automakers.
Volvo Trucks has received an order for 100 FM Electric trucks from DFDS, Northern Europe’s largest shipping and logistics company. It’s the biggest electric truck deal that Volvo has made, and one of the largest ever for electric heavy duty trucks worldwide. “I believe this will encourage many more customers to confidently take the first step in their own electrification journey,” said Roger Alm, President Volvo Trucks.
Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) is partnering with fleet operations to pilot 12 new heavy- and medium-duty natural gas vehicles. This pilot is the first step to what is an expected compressed natural gas (CNG) fleet numbering 160 or more vehicles. Janisse Quinones, PG&E Senior Vice President of Gas Engineering, said that the environmental and cost-saving benefits are the primary reasons for this program, which is why it aligns with PG&E’s sustainability goals.
Copper more important than lithium: I had an electrician in my house not long ago, evaluating what changeovers will be needed to plug in new appliances and get them working at the voltage and safety level they need. Somehow that kitchen evaluation meeting led to comments about a major problem for electricians, and electric vehicle makers and buyers, being caused by Elon Musk — too much copper is being put into Teslas and their charging network. That’s creating scarcity and driving up costs, he said.
Copper is used throughout electric vehicles, charging stations, and supporting infrastructure because of its durability, high conductivity, and efficiency — according to Copper Development Association Inc., a key trade group in the copper sector. For EVs, copper is a major component used in electric motors, batteries, inverters, and wiring. A battery electric vehicle can contain more than a mile of copper wiring in its stator windings used in electric motors.
Yes, Teslas and other EVs do use a lot of copper. They have four times the copper content than do gasoline-powered vehicles, says Greenlight Capital hedge-fund manager David Einhorn — and the cost is going up.
Copper Development Association reports that conventional cars use 18 to 49 pounds of copper; hybrid electric vehicles use an average of about 85 lbs.; plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) use about 132 lbs.; battery electric vehicles (BEVs) use about 183 lbs.; a hybrid electric bus uses about 196 lbs. and a battery electric bus uses about 814 lbs. of copper.
The copper trade group also estimated that BYD used 26 million pounds of copper in all its vehicles manufactured during 2016. The Chinese company that year also used more than 295,419 pounds of copper for all the chargers it sold.
Einhorn said demand for the metal has been growing significantly — 4 percent on average over the past 10 years. Beyond EVs, some of that growth will also continue to come form chargers, solar panels, and wind power. That should equate to about five million tons of demand growth per year by 2029, predicts Goldman.
Einhorn advises investing in copper due to increasing commodity prices and elevated profits for copper producers compared to past years. Prices have been going up — about 33 percent this year.
It ain’t all about the copper: Prices have been going up for EVs, such as the Tesla Model 3 recently being raised about $2,000 in sticker prices to a $39,990 starting price. The Model Y went up about $5,000 to $51,990. Asked about this on Twitter, CEO Elon Musk replied, “Prices increasing due to major supply chain price pressure industrywide. Raw materials especially.”
One of those materials has been computer chips. During the quarterly conference call in April, Musk told investors that the company set aside building luxury models — the Model S and the Model X — to send more chips over the Model 3 and Model Y. The shortage of computer chips has been a “huge problem,” Musk said.
It’s not all about Tesla, or EVs, overall. In July, the average price for a used vehicle jumped more than 21 percent to about $25,400 from $20,900 a year ago. For new cars, buyers that month started paying roughly $40,800, up about 4.9 percent year over year. Other similar price spikes were seen during that time, such as rate prices for rental cars at airports and in local markets. New and used vehicle supply has been tight, with much of that coming from the global supply chain being thrown off by COVID-19. Transporting vehicles from one city to another is also taking longer and costs have gone up.
GM facing EV battery fires: For months, General Motors faced mounting pressure this year connected to fire risk associated with LG battery packs used in the Chevrolet Bolt; a few of them caught fire during charging. The company has been able to resume production after fixing the problem, according to an August announcement. The automaker will replace batteries in all 2017 to 2022 Bolt EVs — which the company said will cost it about $800 million.
LG’s battery plants in Holland and Hazel Park, Mich., have resumed production. LG is also adding capacity to provide more cells to GM. Replacement battery modules are expected to begin shipping to dealers as soon as mid-October.
The cause of these fires will be addressed by new manufacturing processes by LG, and reviews of quality assurance programs with its partner, GM. The root cause has been identified as two manufacturing defects known as a torn anode and a folded separator, both of which need to be present in the same battery cell.
Heavy trucks helping AVs: Commercial trucks are likely to break through the barriers faced by autonomous vehicles in safety regulations and widespread adoption. That was highlighted recently during an ACT Expo speaker panel when Charlie Jatt, head of commercialization for trucking at Waymo, explained how the Alphabet subsidiary’s business plan has been morphing.
The Waymo One autonomous ride-hailing service is still going strong in the Phoenix area. Waymo Via, an autonomous trucking and local delivery solution, is a more recent addition to the Waymo family. Lessons have been learned from Google, and later Waymo, testing self-driving cars, and then transitioning over to Waymo One delivering passengers to destinations in converted, autonomous Chrysler Pacifica minivans. Lessons learned are being taken over to the heavy-duty side.
“We’ve taken that playbook, in knowing how to develop and deploy a fully driverless, fully autonomous, all-the-way solution, and apply it to the trucking market,” Jatt said.
Total cost of truck ownership study: Electric and fuel cell trucks gained attention as well lately from a new study launched by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The federal agency seeks to pinpoint the conditions for when battery electric or fuel cell electric commercial trucks offer economic advantages over traditional diesel-fueled trucks by examining a key metric—the total cost of ownership (TCO).
Commercial trucks have quite different challenges than do passenger vehicles for complying with greenhouse gas emission rules. For one, the miles driven is much more for commercial trucks — about 120,000 miles per year versus about 15,000 for personal vehicles. The weight is much heavier, too, with Class 4 trucks starting around 14,000 pounds to Class 8 tractors hauling heavy loads and bringing the GVW up to 80,000 pounds. Medium- and heavy-duty trucks use about 26 percent of transportation fuel nationwide, while only making up about 4 percent of the total vehicle fleet.
The study compares six trucks powertrain technologies and operating scenarios for Class 8 tractors and Class 4 parcel delivery trucks. These technologies are conventional diesel, diesel hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric, compressed natural gas, fuel cell electric, and battery electric.
“Our objective was to provide a quantitative comparison of various powertrains to highlight the potential lifetime implications of each technology,” said Chad Hunter, lead author of the report and former NREL researcher. “This analysis found that battery-electric and hydrogen-electric powertrains could have a competitive TCO as early as 2025, even for Class 8 vehicles, which are notoriously difficult to decarbonize.”
Dead batteries galore: While electric vehicle sales haven’t hit the 10 percent mark yet, quite a few of them have been sold since 2010 — and the question of what happens to their battery packs once they end their shelf life becomes a tough one to answer. Millions of EV batterieswill be showing up in the next few years. Once placed in landfills, the cells can release problematic toxins, including heavy metals. And recycling the battery can have hazardous effects, says materials scientist Dana Thompson of the University of Leicester in England. If you cut too deep into a battery cell, or in the wrong place, it can short-circuit, combust, and release toxic fumes, she says.
Thompson advocates for constructive actions to be taken to recycle some of the battery elements and take away valuable metals that can be used elsewhere. She’s worked on developing solvents for extracting valuable metals from spent car batteries. Another practice she and colleagues have advocated for has been testing and adopting better recycling methods for the used batteries that would not only prevent pollution, but also Helping governments boost their economic and national security by increasing supplies of key battery metals that are controlled by one or a few nations. The U.S. Department of Energy has invested about $15 million into a ReCell Center to coordinate studies by scientists in academia, industry, and at government laboratories.
Big players in energy storage and backup: You might be familiar with the larger energy storage companies that are using battery storage systems to store and distribute electric power usually generated by renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and geothermal. The top five energy storage companies in the U.S. this year are: #1. NextEra Energy, #2. Toshiba, #3. Tesla, #4. sonnen GmbH, and #5. General Electric.
What about companies that are manufacturing home generator systems that can restore power to a home or commercial building during a blackout power outage? The unsuspected market leader here has been Generac, a 62-year-old Waukesha, Wis., manufacturer that has about 75 percent of standby home generator sales in the U.S. Climate change-driven weather crises have turned it into a hot commodity on Wall Street.
Homeowners are willing to pay about $12,400 for the Generic backup generator. Hurricane Ida left over a million people in Louisiana and Mississippi without power recently in the days of turbulent weather. Last year, the Energy Department reported 383 electricity disturbances. As of the end of June, there had been 210 so far this year with a larger surge typical to the second half of the year.
Engine-maker Cummins and heavy equipment company Caterpillar — two major players in the commercial truck manufacturing market — have entered the energy backup market. They have small shares compared to the market leader, but they could be tough competitors if they apply their experience and expertise in production and distribution to this new market.
And in other news……….. Beyond COVID-19: The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued new Global Air Quality Guidelines (AQGs) that can inform the public and help reduce levels of key air pollutants, some of which also contribute to climate change. The new report shows a systematic review of accumulated evidence since 2005, with a marked increase of how air pollution affects different aspects of health. Exposure to air pollution is estimated to cause 7 million premature deaths worldwide each year, and results in the loss of millions more healthy years of life. In children, this could include reduced lung growth and function, respiratory infections and aggravated asthma. In adults, ischaemic heart disease and stroke are the most common causes of premature death attributable to outdoor air pollution, and evidence is also emerging of other effects such as diabetes and neurodegenerative conditions. The report states that mortality is due to exposure to fine particulate matter of 2.5 microns or less in diameter (PM2.5), which cause cardiovascular and respiratory disease, and cancers. Air pollution is now on a par with unhealthy diets and tobacco smoking for causing global health risks, WHO says.
Yet another EV SPAC coming up: Polestar, the Swedish electric car company that is a joint venture between Volvo and Geely, is going public by merging with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. Funds will be coming from billionaire and “serial SPAC backer” Alec Gores and investment bank Guggenheim Partners. Polestar is expected to have a $20 billion valuation and should bring in about $800 million for the company in cash.
The company’s headquarters is in Gothenburg, Sweden, and an assembly line in Chengdu, China. The startup has only released two vehicles so far: the $155,000 hybrid coupe Polestar 1 and the all-electric fastback sedan Polestar 2. The Polestar 3, an electric crossover SUV, is expected to be launched in late 2021.
More driver assist safety concerns: A regional California agency called out Tesla on Thursday over safety concerns for the automaker’s advanced driver assist system. This comes right before the company wants to launch a wide release of a test version of the software. The San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) is also disputing the name of the system, “Full Self-Driving” (FSD) saying it is an advanced driver assistance program, not an autonomous vehicle system.
Tilly Chang, Executive Director of the SFCTA, said in a statement to Reuters that a human driver should “continuously monitor” Tesla’s FSD system. “We are concerned about the safety record of this service and the name of the service as it could be confusing for consumers, and hope DMV, FTC and NHTSA continue to monitor and analyze this issue to protect consumers and the traveling public,” she said.
Charger landscape by 2030: Market research firm Guidehouse Insights expects that the world will have a fleet of 185 million plug-in electric vehicles by 2030. To keep these vehicles running, the charging infrastructure will obviously have to expand. That will come from a multi-tiered strategy. Light-duty vehicles capable of charging up to 500 kW will be common then, and heavy commercial vehicles capable of charging at more than 1 MW; some PEVs will be battery swapping capable, some will be vehicle-to-grid (V2G) capable, and some will be charged by wireless systems. Most will be AC- and DC -based charging systems. But more innovation is expected to show up with fast charging being part of it. Momentum is coming from programs and strategic moves adopted by governments, corporations, and automakers.
Editor’s note: Apologies to all of you who contacted me to get together at ACT Expo. I missed the conference for two reasons: my spouse just had knee replacement surgery and I’m the caregiver; and I just started grad school. See you next time. — Jon LeSage
If you face a power outage during the bad weather going on around the country, just look to borrow a neighbor’s F-150 PowerBoost hybrid with Pro Power Onboard. Maybe your neighbor has a job where they need to run power tools off the grid — so their fleet manager ordered a few hundred of them and had them all delivered with instructions during blackouts.
And maybe that fleet manager told colleagues all about it at ACT Expo, Aug. 31 to Sept. 2; or will be doing so at AltWheels Fleet Day on Oct. 4; or at Work Truck Week next year. Here’s the second half of a guide to resources already in place and dedicated to driving clean transportation, fuels, and energy forward.
ACT Expo — a few highlights With masks everywhere and safety protocols in place, ACT Expo returned to Long Beach once again to highlight the enthusiasm and interest surrounding clean transportation and clean vehicle technology. The ACT Expo is already looking to expand next year’s show, and you can schedule to attend ACT Expo 2022, May 9-12, 2022, and once again at the Long Beach Convention Center.
Organizers of the ACT Fleet Forum talked about programming on cutting-edge technology and opened membership to new participating fleets. Public sector and small fleets that have begun adopting clean technologies including propane, compressed natural gas (CNG), battery-electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles and renewable fuels are now eligible to join large national fleets including Penske Transportation Solutions, Amazon, Walmart, J.B. Hunt, and Schneider. An industry-leading educational initiative for early adopters to share best practices in clean transportation technologies, the ACT Fleet Forum provides member fleets education via webinars, workshops, and in-person site visits year-round. Facilitated by clean transportation consulting firm Gladstein, Neandross & Associates (GNA), the ACT Fleet Forum is an extension of the Advanced Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo, North America’s largest advanced transportation technology and clean fleet event. ACT Expo that took place Aug. 31 to Sept. 2 at the Long Beach Convention Center in Southern California.
BYD unveiled two battery-electric heavy-duty trucks, the Gen3 8TT and 6F, vehicles that combine performance, reliability, and driver comfort into stylish designs. They feature cabs styled by Wolfgang Josef Egger, the renowned former Audi chief designer. The stylish cabs offer improved aerodynamics and energy efficiency. The truck come standard with Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS), making driving easier and safer. The trucks are equipped with an Electronic Parking Brake system, offer keyless entry and push to start functions, and have up to 185kW CCS1 charging capability. The extended range version of the 8TT and 6F offer a range of up to 200 miles on a charge, BYD said.
Day two of the conference started with an announcement of the Joint Electric Truck Scaling Initiative, or JETSI, a landmark initiative to deploy 100 battery-electric regional haul and drayage trucks across California. The trucks, manufactured by Daimler Trucks North America and Volvo Trucks North America, will be deployed by logistics companies NFI Industries and Schneider on freight corridors serving the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, as well as distribution centers across Southern California. Attendees heard a presentation by Volvo Trucks North America’s President Peter Voorhoeve. GNA CEO Erik Neandross queried Voorhoeve on the Volvo Trucks’ involvement with the JESTSI project, the VNR Electric, the OEM’s partnership with Daimler on fuel cell truck development, and how the global consensus on climate change is evolving.
Penske Truck Leasing announced a collaboration with Stem Inc. to pilot its Athena smart energy storage software to optimize the electricity requirements associated with charging commercial electric trucks. The pilot project included a 350 kilowatt (kW)/800 kilowatt hour (kWh) battery system powered by Stem’s Athena at Penske’s heavy-duty truck charging positions in Ontario, Calif. Through this, Penske is continuing to expand its fleet electrification efforts including the evaluation of important related technologies to support the emerging charging needs of battery electric trucks. Since starting the pilot in April 2021, smart energy storage has driven a 40% decrease in Penske’s site peak energy consumption.
Navistar’s fully electric, medium-duty International eMV Series trucks is now in production and available to order. The eMV is available in four different wheelbase options – 217″, 236″, 254″ and 272″ – and features the Diamond Logic electrical system as standard equipment. The battery provides a 135-mile range when fully charged. “Our team has worked tirelessly to build an all-electric medium-duty vehicle solution that offers our customers all the environmental benefits of a zero-emissions vehicle, while delivering the capabilities of a traditional medium-duty truck to help you take care of business,” said Debbie Shust, vice president of medium-duty trucks at Navistar.
Quantum Fuel Systems has been selected by Certarus Ltd. to deliver industry-leading virtual pipeline trailers for hydrogen in December 2021. Certarus will receive Quantum’s VPLite-H45/40’ trailers, which have a gas mass of 803kg at 3,600 psi (248 bar). The trailers will be approved for use in both the United States and Canada. “Certarus is uniquely positioned to accelerate the energy transition by making hydrogen a convenient fuel solution for our customers. We chose to expand our partnership with Quantum because of their extensive experience working with hydrogen, and the proven quality of their virtual pipeline trailers that enable us to safely deliver zero emission energy anywhere our customers need it,” noted Curtis Philippon, CEO of Certarus.
Karma Automotive announced a new designation for their suite of engineering services and contract manufacturing operations called “Powered by Karma.” The team revealed two new modular electrification vehicle projects at ACT Expo. Powered by Karma provides business to business (B2B) modular vehicle electrification solutions and services to outside customers. Using the company’s experience in vehicle engineering and manufacturing operations, the team creates and integrates new technologies and provides world-class flexible contract production services for customers in the mobility space. Powered by Karma also creates modular, commercial-grade electrification systems that can be used for Class 3-6 vehicles in various configurations including busses, RVs, step vans, box trucks, and more.
XL Fleet announced a new engagement with Stellantis N.V. to produce hybrid electric Ram 2500 and 3500 heavy-duty pickup trucks. This partnership marks the first time that Ram vehicles can be ordered with hybrid-electric drive technology, allowing fleet managers to reduce emissions and maintain sustainability targets. XL Fleet’s XLH hybrid electric drive systems are also currently available on a wide variety of Class 2-6 vehicles from Ford, Chevrolet, GMC, and recently announced Isuzu.
And there are a few other events to know about………
Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference & Expo 2021: NC Clean Energy Technology Center, The 100 Best Fleets, and NAFA Fleet Management Association, are offering a Virtual Sustainable Fleet Technologies Conference on Sept. 9 to Oct., 19, 2021. It will take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:00 to 3:30 pm ET. The Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference 2021 will highlight current technologies, topics and issues in the fleet industry as we navigate the rapidly evolving transportation industry. Sessions will focus on the latest and greatest opportunities for biofuel, electric, natural gas, and propane fuels and fueling – with a strong focus on data-driven decisions, tools, and technologies. Join them online for valuable presentations and conversations.
Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology Expo and The Battery Show: Each year, engineers, innovators, and thought leaders converge in Novi, Mich., for a conference and expo focused on keeping up with the fast-moving advanced battery and automotive industries. This year, two of these events are being brought together Sept. 14-16, 2021 at Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Mich. The national’s biggest advanced battery and electric vehicle event will show battery applications in automobiles, consumer electronics, medical devices, and stationary storage. The event organizers expect over 10,000 attendees, more than 550 suppliers, over 150 speakers, and more than 72 hours of education.
AltWheels Fleet Day: AltWheels Fleet Day is coming up on Monday, Oct. 4, and registration is now open. For the second year, the event will virtually offer speakers, panels, and presentations on critical issues facing fleets and other stakeholders in alternative fuels and vehicles. Fleet managers will learn more about funding programs and emerging trends at the 16th annual AltWheels Fleet Day. More details will be coming out soon on speakers and subject matter. Last year, the conference went virtual for the first time and featured an impressive line-up of 19 expert speakers along with several sponsor videos. The event drew 378 registrants to hear keynote talks from Anirban Basu, Chairman & CEO, Sage Policy Group, and Bill Van Amburg, Executive Vice President, CALSTART; as well as a series of panels and interviews of industry leaders from organizations such as Ford, Toyota, UPS, National Grid, US Environmental Protection Agency, Verizon Connect, and Blackburn Energy to name a few. All sponsors, co-hosts, speakers, and moderators must register online to attend this year’s virtual event. By registering, attendees will receive the zoom link.
CALSTART Event: CALSTART has been been part of a big one — reduce emissions significantly with trucks emitting 27 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and make up less than 4 percent of the global on-road fleet; and 60 percent of nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions worldwide. ZET Global Expo at COP26, which runs from Nov. 1-12 at Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow, will work with global leaders on reaching the net zero by 2050 target. Organizers are happy to see a variety of zero emission trucks (ZETs) available for fleets and truck operators to purchase these days. Speakers will focus on getting nations and subnational governments that are setting climate commitments to take a closer look at ZETs and align their climate goals with policies and programs that accelerate ZETs.
Washington, DC – Online registration for NGV21 – NGVAmerica’s in-person 2021 Annual Meeting and Industry Summit – scheduled for October 19-21, 2021 at The Wigwam Arizona Resort in Greater Phoenix, Arizona is now open at ngvshow.com. This year’s show – presented by Clean Energy Fuels – will focus on NGV’s achievement of a carbon negative now transportation solution for medium- and heavy-duty fleets. For the first time ever, California fleets fueled with bio-CNG achieved carbon-negativity in their 2020 transportation operations. Ninety-two (92) percent of all on-road fuel used in natural gas vehicles in California last year was renewable natural gas (RNG), and CARB data from Q4 2020 puts the current carbon intensity average of bio-CNG in the state system at -26.11 gCO2e/MJ. NGVAmerica’s Annual Meeting and Industry Summit is the only dedicated natural gas in transportation alternative fuels conference and show focused on the North American market and hosted and attended by the biggest players in this space.
Meeting of the Minds: Cities are innovating, companies are pivoting, and start-ups are growing. Every urban practitioner has a remarkable story of insight and challenge from the past year. Meet these peers and discuss the future of cities in the new Meeting of the Minds Executive Cohort Program. Replace boring virtual summits with facilitated, online, small-group discussions where you can make real connections with extraordinary, like-minded people. Meeting of the Minds events convene thousands of VIPs each year. Those interested can fill out a form to download the sponsorship prospectus and get involved with Meeting of the Minds. The dates and location have yet to be announced, but stay tuned for more news.
Work Truck Week 2022: Produced annually by NTEA – The Association for the Work Truck Industry, Work Truck Week is your once-a-year chance to see all of the newest industry products, choose from dozens of industry-focused training courses, and gain access to technical engineering representatives from hundreds of exhibiting companies. More event information will be coming out soon, which will be held March 8-11, 2022 at Indiana Convention Center (Indianapolis).
Government Agency Fleet Programs:
Argonne National Laboratory: At the US Dept. of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, the agency offers cumulative figures, and some details on the latest market developments, on hybrid electric vehicle sales, plug-in vehicle sales, and hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles. You can also view charts on US plug-in vehicle sales since 2010, and mostly sales data for electric vehicles. The problem here is that you have to magnify the chart and gaze at lines of color to estimate those volumes. One study by Argonne National Laboratory provided a comprehensive lifecycle analysis, or cradle-to-grave analysis, of the cost and greenhouse gas emissions of a variety of vehicle-fuel pathways, as well as the levelized cost of driving and cost of avoided GHG emissions.
Clean Vehicles: Clean Fleets Related Links for State and Local Transportation Resources: This page provides links to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and non-EPA Web-based resources that provide additional information on clean vehicles. Links go directly to specific Web sites or documents that address fleet-related trends and issues. Clean Fuel Fleet Implementation Guidance provides guidance to states and regulated entities in the implementation or start-up phase of the Clean Fuel Fleet program. Clean School Bus USA is a voluntary EPA program designed to reduce children’s exposure to diesel exhaust and the amount of air pollution created by diesel school buses. SmartWay Transport Partnership is a voluntary partnership between various freight industry sectors and EPA that establishes incentives for fuel efficiency improvements and greenhouse gas emissions reductions. U.S. “Green Fleets” Initiative is a program managed by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives that provides “green fleet” information for local governments.
Clean Cities: Clean Cities Coalition Network is a resource of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office. At the national level, the Vehicle Technologies Office provides unbiased and objective resources and information to help transportation stakeholders evaluate options and achieve goals around alternative fuels, advanced vehicles, mobility solutions, and other fuel-saving strategies. At the local level, more than 75 coalitions leverage these resources to create networks of local stakeholders that advance transportation projects. Since 1993, Clean Cities coalitions have steadily increased their energy use impact each year through diverse transportation projects for a cumulative impact equal to nearly 11 billion gasoline gallon equivalents (GGEs).
Advanced Clean Fleets — California Air Resources Board: California Air Resources Board (CARB) is developing a medium and heavy-duty zero-emission fleet regulation with the goal of achieving a zero-emission truck and bus California fleet by 2045 everywhere feasible and significantly earlier for certain market segments such as last mile delivery and drayage applications. The initial focus would be on high-priority fleets with vehicles that are suitable for early electrification, their subhaulers, and entities that hire them. The goal of this effort is to accelerate the number of medium and heavy-duty zero-emission vehicle purchases to achieve a full transition to zero-emission vehicles in California as soon as possible.
South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD): This agency acts as a clearinghouse for California AQMD projects, programs, and grants aimed at fleets seeking to reduce air pollution. Fleet Rule Information: To reduce both toxic and smog-forming air pollutants, the South Coast AQMD adopted seven rules that will gradually shift public agencies and certain private entities to lower emissions and alternative fuel vehicles whenever a fleet operator with 15 or more vehicles replaces or purchases new vehicles. All seven fleet rules are now in effect. Readers should review each rule that would affect their purchasing or contracting procedures involving fleet vehicles. For some entities, more than one rule may apply. Fleet rules on heavy-duty public fleets: To reduce air toxic and criteria pollutant emissions, this rule requires public fleets in the South Coast AQMD’s jurisdiction operating heavy-duty vehicle fleets to acquire alternative-fuel, dual-fuel, or dedicated gasoline heavy-duty vehicles when procuring or leasing these vehicles for use within the South Coast AQMD’s jurisdiction. If the fleet operator obtains an approved Technical Infeasibility Certification for this purchase, a diesel-powered heavy-duty engine or vehicle with an approved control device may be purchased. VIP overview: The VIP is a streamlined approachto reduce emissions by replacing old, high-polluting vehicles with newer, lower-emission vehicles. This program is limited to owners/operators with fleets of 10 or fewer vehicles that have been operating at least 75% (mileage-based) in California during the previous twenty four (24) months. The goal of this program is to reduce emissions from in-use heavy-duty trucks in small fleets by replacing Engine Model Years 2009 and older with Engine Model Years 2013 (or newer) emissions compliant models. The VIP is implemented by South Coast AQMD through contractual agreements with Dealers and Dismantlers. The Dealers will apply to South Coast AQMD for the vouchers on behalf of the applicant. If approved, the voucher amount will be deducted from the total purchase price of the truck by the Dealer. Applicants interested in replacing their truck must purchase their replacement truck through an South Coast AQMD-approved VIP Participating Dealership that has completed the required training for the VIP. A current list of South Coast AQMD approved Dealerships and Dismantlers is included below. Additional updates to these lists will be posted on our webpage as they become available.
California Energy Commission’s Clean Transportation Program: Also known as the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, the Clean Transportation Program provides funding to support innovation and accelerate the development and deployment of advanced transportation and fuel technologies. The program invests up to $100 million annually in a broad portfolio of transportation and fuel transportation projects throughout the state. The Energy Commission leverages public and private investments to support adoption of cleaner transportation powered by alternative and renewable fuels. The program plays an important role in achieving California’s ambitious goals on climate change, petroleum reduction, and adoption of zero-emission vehicles, as well as efforts to reach air quality standards. The program also supports the state’s sustainable, long-term economic development.
Clean Fleets — New York State: Local governments can either install an EV charging station and/or other alternative fuel infrastructure or deploy alternative fuel vehicles in the municipal fleet. Resources include…….. A Fact Sheet that provides a brief description of the Clean Fleets action along with the benefits communities can expect to achieve. The Step-by-Step Guidance slide presentation provides an overview of the Clean Energy Communities Program as well as a detailed description and step-by-step guidance for implementing the Clean Fleets action. New York State Office of General Services Vehicle Marketplace is where local governments can purchase competitively priced cars and trucks including alternative fuel vehicles from a variety of vehicle dealers. Creating EV-Ready Towns and Cities: A Guide to Planning and Policy Tools is a guide that highlights best practices and introduces policy options for public officials and private-sector leaders seeking to prepare their communities, jurisdictions, states or organizations for electric vehicles. Clean Vehicles and Infrastructure Rebates: The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is offering rebates of up to $5,000 per clean vehicle and up to $8,000 per port for electric vehicle charging stations. A document provides information on how to apply. The Clean Fleets Certification Form, Version 2: This certification form may be completed and submitted to earn credit for this action. NYSERDA Clean Energy Communities: Local governments in New York State can use the Clean Energy Communities program to implement clean energy actions, save energy costs, create jobs, and improve the environment. In addition to providing tools, resources, and technical assistance, the program recognizes and rewards leadership for the completion of clean energy projects.
And in other news………… Big developments in hydrogen and fuel cell vehicles: Ballard Power Systems Inc. has formed a partnership with Germany-based Quantron AG to bring several fuel-cell electric truck platforms to market.The Canadian developer and manufacturer of proton exchange membrane fuel cell products said the initial focus of the collaboration would revolve around the integration of Ballard’s heavy-duty fuel cell power modules into Quantron’s electric drivetrain and vehicles. Ballard expects initial deployment of fuel cell electric trucks to be in the second half of 2022…………. Hyundai Motor Group has set out its vision for hydrogen energy and a global hydrogen society. At the Hydrogen Wave global online forum in Seoul, the Group presented its plans to popularize hydrogen by 2040 through the introduction of new technologies and mobility solutions in transportation and other industrial sectors. That lineup includes trucks, a sports car, and drones. “Hyundai Motor Group’s vision is to apply hydrogen energy in all areas of life and industry such as our homes, work-places and factories. The goal is to make hydrogen readily used for everyone, everything, and everywhere,” said Chairman Chung at the Hydrogen Wave online global forum.
MB making big moves in EVs: Mercedes-Benzlaunched a few electric vehicles ahead of the IAA Mobility show in Germany, including its first AMG-branded high-performance EV, a sedan and a G-Class SUV concept — all part of the company’s big strategy to become an electric-only automaker by the end of the decade. The automaker has already started producing the all-electric EQS, a high-forward and sleek flagship that’s meant to be an electric counterpart to the S-Class.
Gigafactory Berlin: The German government is finalizing a subsidy package that could give Tesla over $1 billion in government funding for its new battery factory at Gigafactory Berlin. Tesla says that the project will also include a large battery cell factory, making it the automaker’s first in-house volume production of battery cells. The factory has been conducting the initial tests of its Model Y production equipment.
The executive order signed Thursday by President Joe Biden sets admirable targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fighting climate change. Half of all new vehicles sold in 2030 are to be zero-emissions vehicles, including battery electric, plug-in hybrid electric, or fuel cell electric vehicles (see news section below for more details).
But I have some questions for Biden: —Will automakers actually fulfill this order, and what happens if they don’t? (The answer seems to be no, since it’s been described as a nonbinding goal.) —Can we expect the saying from the 1989 movie, Field of Dreams, to be fulfilled? “If you build it they will come,” being that saying. If automakers do roll out half their available new vehicles as ZEVs, will there be enough purchases to make it profitable and long lasting? Will the charging and fueling infrastructure be enough? —Could there be other ways to reach these big picture targets?
As I’ve written about before, it’s likely going to take much longer to hit that admirable target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fighting climate change. The good news is that the needed elements are already here, and key players in the clean transportation arena will continue to lead the way.
There is a period of transition before those wonderful targets can be met — with fleets, individuals who own zero emission vehicles, charging/fueling infrastructure builders and suppliers, vehicle makers/OEMs, technology partners and suppliers, clean fuel and energy suppliers, government agencies, and associations and research centers, already playing a key role in the development of clean transportation as, eventually, the new normal.
Here’s hoping that vaccinations continue and the latest surge in Covid-19 delta and other variants begin a rapid decline, with vehicle emissions reductions following right behind. In the meantime, getting familiar with and connected to the vast resources in clean vehicles and fuels might be a good way to spend some of our downtime.
WARNING: Some of the publications I list below will be cutting off your free access to viewing articles and websites. They’re looking for paid subscribers, or free access to members of their group. Of course, you can always search for other sources of the news they’re reporting.
CALSTART Most all stakeholders in clean transportation are very familiar with CALSTART, but here are a few interesting facts. The founders say two forces created the organization in 1992 — defense and aerospace spending was being cut, leaving quite a few talented people without their jobs; and increasing interest in cutting back air pollution in the US, which was the force behind the California Air Resources Board setting targets for the sale of zero-emission vehicles. Now the nonprofit consortium has offices in New York, Michigan, Colorado and California. The NPO is dedicated to the modernization and adoption of clean vehicles. The group’s focus has expanded to global through its Drive to Zero program, with the vision of supporting the role zero-emission trucks will play in reaching collective Paris Agreement goals; more than 270 member companies and partners worldwide are participating. You can get on that project’s newsletter list, and sign up for the CALSTART Compass newsletter that covers newsworthy projects, studies and reports, and events.
Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA) Established in 1989, EDTA is a cross-industry trade association promoting the advancement of electric drive technology and electrified transportation. Members cover the gamut in the electric drive value chain: OEMs, battery and component manufacturers, utilities, charging infrastructure developers, and others. They follow a three-prong strategy by emphasizing the economic, national security, and environmental benefits of displacing oil with electricity in battery and fuel cell-powered vehicles. They would like to see the U.S. to adopt an aggressive five-year plan that catalyzes growth with significant, long-term investments in market expansion and accelerates technology development and deployment. You can join a list for weekly updates and analysis of news developments. There’s also official statements such as what EDTA leaders think of President Biden’s executive order on zero-emission vehicles.
International Council on Clean Transportation The ICCT started up in 2001 and now has offices in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Berlin, and Beijing. Its mission is to improve the environmental performance and energy efficiency of road, marine, and air transportation, to benefit public health and mitigate climate change. The organization has provided research, analysis, and data for environmental policymakers. One of its studies has provided a global comparison of the life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions of combustion engine and electric passenger cars. One of the more interesting parts of its history is the role ICCT played in “dieselgate.” The ICCT had commissioned researchers at West Virginia University to test Volkswagen diesel car emissions in 2013. The following year, the NPO alerted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board that the models displayed much higher levels of nitrogen oxide emissions than permitted by law. In September 2015, the EPA announced that the German automaker could be liable for up to $18 billion in penalties. That came from charges that VW had been using software on almost 500,000 VW and Audi 2.0 liter diesel cars sold through the 2009 and 2015 model years that circumvented EPA emissions standards.
Gladstein Neandross & Associates (GNA) Since its founding in 1993, GNA has been offering a blend of technical, funding, creative, and strategy development services to public- and private-sector clients spanning the clean energy and advanced transportation sectors. Its projects have earned national awards and recognition from agencies and associations, including the South Coast Air Quality Management District, Coalition for Clean Air, and the California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition. Organizing events like Advanced Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo over the past decade have made GNA more visible and significant in the clean transportation sector. Other events put on by GNA have included California Dairy Sustainability Summit, Renewable Gas 360, Rethink Methane Symposium, High Horsepower (HHP) Summit, and NGV Industry Summit.
Propane Education & Research Council PERC provides leading propane safety and training programs and invests in research and development of new propane-powered technologies. Its programs benefit a variety of markets including transportation, agriculture, commercial landscaping, residential, and commercial building. PERC came to be when the U.S. Congress passed the Propane Education and Research Act (PERA), which was signed into law in 1996. PERC’s operations and activities are funded by an assessment levied on each gallon of propane gas at the point it is odorized or imported into the U.S. PERC has been committed for several years to promote propane autogas through research projects, government and industry liaisons, and public education. Take a look at the Comprehensive Compliance Handbook, which offers a variety of regulations, codes, and standards that apply to the propane industry systems that you install and service to effectively comply with requirements that can apply to your business in your jurisdiction. You cansubscribe the the e-newsletterto stay current with the latest propane news, stories, videos, and more.
NGV America Natural Gas Vehicles for America is a national organization dedicated to the development of a growing, profitable, and sustainable market for vehicles powered by natural gas or biomethane. It represents more than 200 companies, environmental groups, and government organizations interested in the promotion and use of natural gas and biomethane as transportation fuels. Member companies produce, distribute, and market natural gas and renewable natural gas across the country; manufacture and service natural gas vehicles, engines, and equipment; and operate fleets powered by clean-burning gaseous fuels. Resources offered to those interested in natural gas vehicles include information on numerous federal and state grant opportunities that assist fleets in transitioning to the clean fuel. The VW Trust Action Center provides information the Environmental Mitigation Trust, which states and territories may use to invest in transportation projects that will reduce NOx emissions. It’s annual conference and trade show will be taking place Oct. 19-21 in Phoenix. You can also check out NGV news and insights.
RNG Coalition RNG Coalition is a non-profit organization dedicated to the sustainable advancement of renewable natural gas (RNG) as a clean, green, alternative and domestic energy resource — and as a key component and partial solution to addressing global climate change. The coalition has seen its efforts pay off, with hundreds of RNG projects either operational, under construction, or in development in North America. Job creation has been very good with RNG production facilities creating five-to-seven times more jobs than an equivalently sized petroleum refinery. More recently, stakeholders have found that hydrogen generators can use RNG or biomethane to create renewable hydrogen (RH2), providing similar opportunities for farmers and local communities to create clean, storable energy, while reducing waste, decarbonizing, and making use of existing infrastructure. The NPOs annual conference, RNG Summit, also known as the U.S. Federal Fly-In & Policy Forum, took place May 11, 2021, in Ft. Worth, Texas.
Plug In America Plug In America is a non-profit, supporter-driven advocacy group that has a long list of accomplishments contributing to making electric vehicles a viable, appealing choice for US car owners. The organization helps consumers, policy-makers, auto manufacturers and others to understand the powerful benefits of driving electric. That comes through practical, objective information for making their best choices when buying a plug-in electric vehicle that fits their lifestyle. Plug In America founded National Drive Electric Week, the world’s largest celebration of the plug-in vehicle, which brought together over 180,000 attendees across 324 events in 2019, across all 50 states. As reported recently, the organization’s PlugStar Program is nationally recognized for educating consumers and dealers. Last year, the NPO conducted its first annual survey of EV consumers—both drivers and those considering an electric vehicle. A more recent effort has been encouraging members to tell Congress to support President Biden’s full $174 billion EV investment.
American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) ACORE is a national NPO that unites finance, policy and technology to accelerate the transition to a renewable energy economy. Founded in 2001, ACORE works to unite finance, policy and technology to accelerate the transition to a renewable energy economy. Members are active in renewable energy technologies and constituencies, including developers, manufacturers, top financial institutions, major corporate renewable energy buyers, grid technology providers, utilities, professional service firms, academic institutions, and allied nonprofit groups. Serving these communities includes convening key stakeholders, facilitating partnerships, educating senior officials on important policies, publishing research and analysis on pressing issues, and undertaking strategic outreach on the policies and financial structures essential to renewable energy growth. For more on upcoming events, click here; and go here for a newsletter sign up.
ICF The global consulting firm offers the ICF Climate Center which provides in-depth research and insights that help organizations establish clear, practical pathways forward through the combination of climate science and predictive analytics. For clean vehicles and fuels, the firm offers technical expertise and creative solutions to promote advanced technologies and alternative fuels across the transportation sector. For transportation electrification the company is fluent in the technology, infrastructure, and market forces to make the switch. With low carbon fuel standards, the consulting firm works with regulatory agencies in program design and implementation, and to assist fuel providers with understanding compliance options and market trends.
E&E News E&E News publishes five daily newsletters tracking energy and environmental policies and rules, research study findings, the effects of climate change, and the political and legal battles being fought in these sectors. It is a paid subscription service, but you can get placed on a short-term reader list to see if it’s worth the time and money spent. It does offer in-depth research and analysis, and can be the only source available on some very important topics.
Green Car Congress This publication is truly unique, and it does require that you stay open to learning about new, cutting-edge technology (with a few fundamentals from physics and engineering included). Mike Millikin started it up in 2004, and it’s been the only publication like it; except for occasional features and think-pieces in automotive, business, and science publications. Its subject matter has expanded in recent years — as have the automotive, transportation, and energy industries — to include connected and autonomous technologies, advanced batteries and energy storage, and a wide range of alternative, clean fuels and energy sources.
NGT News NGT News (Next-Gen Transportation) has become the only publication like it, while a few years ago there was at least one direct competitor and a few weekly editions. This publication provides daily news updates read by fleets, OEMs, fuel suppliers, technology providers, and infrastructure developers staying informed on clean transportation. Staying current in this field requires a few topics — technology innovations, government policies, the regulatory structure, corporate developments, new vehicle/product launches, and r&d developments. A good publication for those wanting to stay informed on the wide spectrum of information.
Green Car Reports Go to that site to see Green Car Reports’ Best Car to Buy 2021, first drive reviews of electric and hybrid vehicles, and coverage of how current green cars are holding up over time in sales, performance, and value. It’s a good consumer pub to read, with a few big picture/business items such as what’s happening in Washington, DC. The publication is owned by Internet Brands, which owns and operates other automotive publications such as CarsDirect, The Car Connection, Motor Authority, and Auto Credit Express. Green Car Reports gets to tap into that database of resources for covering new vehicles and technologies.
InsideEVs InsideEVs has its share of rivals for being the lead publication in the electric vehicle space. While I do check out Electrek and news features from Bloomberg, Reuters, Automotive News, and major media sources, InsideEVs is an excellent one-stop shopping site for me — the latest offerings, the competitive climate, what Tesla and its chief are up to, the charging infrastructure, government incentives and other developments in global markets, and the latest data and analytics on EV sales and other fascinating trends. Plus, all the details you probably want to know when shopping for EVs.
CleanTechnica It’s a popular site in the US for cleantech news and commentary, with a focus on solar energy, wind energy, electric cars, and other clean technologies. It does offers some insightful data and analysis articles on electric vehicle sales, popularity of certain models and why that’s the case, and the demands that cleantech industries face overcoming regulatory hurdles, incentives that may be dwindling, power players in the war over climate change, and a few other relevant topics. You might learn how long it takes for solar panels to pay for themselves, and overcoming hurdles on the public’s perceptions of electric vehicles.
Transport Topics What will come out of efforts to gain major funding and development projects from Washington, DC, on the nation’s highway and transportation infrastructure? Well, then go to this publications for in-depth coverage of the political and legal issues involved, and how it would be carried out across the country. Those reading this industry publication can read about the top for-more carriers and logistics companies, the world of intermodal transport, and what fleet operators are doing to comply with government environmental and energy requirements and corporate sustainability policies.
Trucks.com This is a fairly new publication that’s doing a very good job of covering the gamut on all things you might be wondering about trucks. That would cover autonomous trucks; commercial vehicles powered by electricity and other clean fuels; the state of retail sales for pickups, SUVS/crossovers, and vans; the business and fleet market; freight and logistics and some of the regulatory structure shaping it; new trucks product launches; trucking shows; and taking adventures in your truck or SUV and where you can find the necessary gear. Los Angeles Times veteran Jerry Hirsch became the editor in chief, and works with a team of other recognized journalistic names in the field. They do offer an effective mix of what the B2B and consumer reader communities would like to know more about.
GreenBiz GreenBiz is a must read, along with CleanTechnica and Environment + Energy Leader, for professionals working in the sphere of sustainability. Read all about net zero policies, resilient supply chains, enforcing ESG standards, carbon credit trading, how industries are decarbonizing, the critical role cities are playing, and the best in corporate sustainability practices. Green vehicles will also get a bit of coverage here, such as one of the field reporters attending a specialized conference and trade show. Its conference has been well attended with a lot of name speakers, such as Bill Gates at the February online conference.
Environment + Energy Leader Formerly known as Environmental Leader, this publication changed its name to address what other professionals in the field (including clean transportation) understand — reducing greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, power stations, production plants, waste management, and more, is essential. Then there’s all the energy needed to keep it running — and the total lifecycle of how the energy is generated and what it all means. It’s more of a B2B publication than its direct competitors, offering details on how global governments are regulating and working with corporations and NPOs to carry out emissions and energy mandates; and deals being made between companies to advance the business model and profitability of sustainability in all the forms it takes.
Fleet Forward Bobit Business Media launched this publication about three years ago to address the growing interest fleet professionals have in the future of transport — autonomous, electric, connected, and shared rides. Other topics being covered in this publication include smart cities, new technology breakthroughs, connected fleets, fleet management as a service, and the latest in green trucks that fleets are deploying. The fleet manager’s business model is always being addressed, such as saving in energy and operating costs; safety issues with self-driving vehicles; predictive maintenance practices; and what automakers have to say about the future of their product offerings and incentives being offered to fleets. One of its sister publications is Charged Fleet, which tracks the latest in electric vehicles and hybrids that fleets can consider.
Biofuels Digest This is the Bible for all things biofuels, and its founder, Jim Lane, is a known figure for anyone tracking the subject matter. It’s being run by Nuu Media that includes Biofuels Digest, The Daily Digest, and the Weekly Circular. These publications track the bioeconomy and all its implications — from the corn growers versus oil companies though the federal Renewable Fuel Standard and state regulations for ethanol in gasoline; advanced biofuels that may be sidetracked and others that are succeeding; investments in decarbonizing projects for meeting climate change mandates; biogas pipelines that are being built, and many other highly technical articles to read. Parent company Nuu Media also produces online media, conferences, webinars, data services and original streamed content, focused on the advanced bioeconomy.
Charged Electric Vehicles Magazine Charged continues to be a glossy magazine and internet publication that covers all things electric. It’s designed like a Car and Driver for electric vehicle buyers. It also digs into the business of EVs, with profiles of startup carmakers and technology supplier partners they’re working with. It’s a good one for how-to guides and technical descriptions of all that goes into electric drivetrains, electrical systems, battery packs, and chargers. It’s more consumer and car focused, but you will find profiles of electric truck makers as well that are providing delivery trucks, heavy-duty freight haulers, and utility applications. You’ll also be viewing advertisements from OEMs and suppliers to the business; it is a marketplace for those doing business in the EV space.
Waste Dive Waste Dive provides in-depth coverage and analysis on subject matter that spreads its reach over a wide range these days. It’s not all about picking up and hauling trash in a clean vehicle. This publication digs into refuse collection and transfer, recycling, organics, zero waste, landfills, policy, and more. It’s owned and operated by Industry Dive, a media company that says it reaches more than 11 million decision makers in more than 20 of the world’s most competitive industries. Other publications in the group cover smart cities, supply chain, transport, and utility.
Want to follow companies that have stock tickers? Just enter them on Seeking Alpha and you can get email announcements that something new was just posted by an investor or market analyst explaining why Elon Musk pushed back Tesla’s Cybertruck deliveries to 2022; and similar analysis of other companies. Some of these companies get very little attention; perhaps you’ll just be receiving a brief summary of their quarterly earnings meeting. But there are millions of passionate investors out there who post commentaries, or at least read them and post comments. The best part is hearing about something first on Seeking Alpha and digging into it. That could provide more information on what’s happening in the Chinese and European electric vehicle markets.
See how energy consumption has been utilized, and how it’s changed in recent years, by country. The measure in the first graph is millions of tons of oil equivalent (Mtoe), which is used to describe the energy content of all fuels. China, of course, was the world leader last year, with the US ahead of India by more than double the amount. You can also see how it measured over the past 20 years; and much more from the Enerdata Yearbook — including share of renewables in electricity production.
The International Energy Agency seems to be the leading source on global oil production and alliances between countries on energy supplies; and a major player in getting those alliances worked out. Published annually, its World Energy Outlook is a highly cited source on global energy developments. Its World Energy Model, a large-scale simulation tool, was developed by the IEA over a period of more than 20 years. It’s been designed to replicate how energy markets function. It’s a valuable tool for analyzing energy types and forecasts for demand, production, and pricing.
Interested in seeing how retail fuel prices have fluctuated in the US since 2000 — including gasoline, E85, CNG, LNG, propane, diesel, and B20 and other biodiesel combinations? If you go see the US Dept. of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center, you can adjust the parameters such as the timeframe and the fuels included in the graph. You can also see recent data on how these fuels have been in average prices over a quarterly period. Viewers can then go into sections on specific alternative fuels to learn much more about them and they’re utilized, and data on how they’re performing. Clean Cities Coalitions have tapped into this data collection for reports and public information campaigns over the years; and its a very good source for staying current on fluctuating trends.
Here’s a good place to look at how the major energy types are performing, and some predictions on where they may go if certain economic factors go as expected. It’s provided by the US Energy Information Administration. WTI crude oil and Brent crude oil dollars per barrel data is shown, along with gasoline, diesel, heating oil, natural gas, and electricity. You can look at how these indices have fluctuated in the US in recent years. There’s always new energy reports and charts being placed on this site. One of the recent ones has been Forecast Sensitivity of Carbon Dioxide Emissions to Temperatures.
Here’s another valuable, useful data tool from the US Dept. of Energy. This site now allows you to slice and dice the data to find out a whole lot. You can break out stations by biodiesel (B20 and above), compressed natural gas (CNG), electric, ethanol (E85), hydrogen, liquefied natural gas (LNG), and propane autogas (LPG). It does cover both the US and Canada. Did you know there are 881 public CNG stations, 53 hydrogen stations, and 1,863 propane stations available? Also there are 49,448 electric vehicle pubic charging stations (Level 2 and DC/fast charger) that offer about 119,000 charging outlets. While studying the map it looks like Canada has about 10 percent the size that the the US offers in charging stations, which is roughly the same population ratio between the two countries.
S&P offers one of the most respected consulting firms in energy and fuel consumption and forecasts. When you visit this site, you’ll see renewable energy forecasts, U.S. solar and wind projects, and the most recent power forecast. That study includes data and analysis of battery storage costs, growth of renewable power and battery storage, a forecast of natural gas prices, projected generation and capacity balances by energy type, and a forecast analyzing reserve margins of major power markets.
Conferences: Stay tuned for more coverage of upcoming signifiant clean transportation events in the next edition. As for what’s coming up soon…………
CALSTART Events CALSTART Policy Update — a members-only webinar will take place tomorrow, Wednesday, Aug. 11, at 9:00 am Pacific time. The organization will provide an interactive update on federal and state clean transportation policy. Hear about the recent and exciting progress on funding for clean vehicle and infrastructure incentives in California and Washington, D.C., CALSTART’s policy priorities, and new federal proposals for US Battery Leadership.
The 10th annual Green Transportation Summit & Expo (GTSE), which will take place Aug. 16-18 in Tacoma, Wash., is the region’s premier clean transportation convening event. With this year’s theme of Reflecting + Refocusing on a Resilient Future, particular attention will be given to recent events affecting our communities and livelihood. GTSE’s partnership with the U.S. EPA’s West Coast Collaborative and Mobilize California Summit brings stakeholders key to reducing heavy-duty diesel reductions in significant fleets across the continent. For the safety of all attendees GTSE currently plans to require masks at all times during the event, regardless of vaccination status, with the exception of meals. As the situation with COVID-19 is changing daily, the event organizers are closely monitoring the response by healthcare and government officials to ensure the protection of stakeholders.
ACT Expo ACT Expo is taking place Aug. 31 to Sept. 2 at the Long Beach Convention Center in Southern California. Revival of investments in advanced clean commercial vehicle technologies and fuels are making a comeback, with special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, investments in the industry grabbing headlines throughout this past year.. ACT Expo’s opening panel will offer attendees a good look at funding opportunities and significant projects taking shape. More on ACT Expo in the next edition of Green Auto Market.
NGVAmerica’s Annual Meeting and Industry Summit Registration is now open for NGV21, which will take place Oct. 19-21 at the Wigwam Arizona Resort in Phoenix. NGV21 is the only dedicated natural gas in transportation alternative fuels conference and show focused on the North American market. On-road, off-road and everything in between will be featured, from traditional freight, refuse, and transit applications to growing marine, rail, and construction use. Stay tuned for more.
And in other news…………
Fuel economy and emissions executive order: Thursday’s announcement by President Joe Biden formalized what his administration has been promising all along, to reverse the Trump administration’s course and return to what had been implemented by then-President Obama. The nonbonding deal with most automakers also directs them to make up half their sales with zero-emission vehicles by 2030. That would come from battery electric, plug-in hybrid, and fuel cell electric vehicles.
Biden’s plan requires 10 percent emissions reductions in 2023 and 5 percent every year after that through 2026. Trump’s standards ended with the fleet averaging about 29 mpg through a real-world fuel economy guideline. The Biden rule should be close to reaching the target set up in the Obama administration’s mileage requirement, about 37 mpg.
It’s part of the Biden administration’s plan to fight climate change to get Americans to switch over from fossil fuels to advanced, clean, renewable energy and fuel. The ZEV plan would be reliant on major investments by the federal government in charging stations and other infrastructure. Biden said that it’s also part of the country’s objective to compete with China, a leader in the electric vehicle market.
The president made the announcement on the White House South Lawn, with a few zero-emission vehicles behind him. He was joined by executives from Ford, GM, and Stellantis, as well as leaders from the United Auto Workers union and members of Congress.
It’s not yet clear on how the infrastructure bill will affect emissions and new passenger vehicles sold, with more changes expected to come as Democrats prepare comprehensive budget proposals. However, the infrastructure bill that was passed today in the senate does offer a few positive outcomes, according to U.S. PIRG. That includes “the largest-ever federal investment in public transportation. It invests in electric school buses. It reinstates the ‘polluter pays’ taxes for hazardous waste Superfund site cleanups,” said U.S. PIRG’s Chairman Doug Phelps in a statement.
In-depth study on the equity of EV charging: Mobilyze.ai, the first location analytics and micro-targeting platform for the EV market and the Toyota Mobility Foundation, have some fascinating data to share on electric vehicle charging. Only 9.7 percent of households in US cities have access to a public EV charging station within a convenient quarter mile (or 5 minute) walk from home. Higher-income households live closer to charging in some large cities such as NYC and Chicago. However, in many US cities it is lower-income households who live closer to charging, in downtown areas and other public locations with significant t racial disparities to access EV charging.
That statement comes from a new report that provides a comprehensive analysis on access to EV charging in US cities, addressing dimensions including population coverage, wealth and racial disparities, and patterns of EV adoption. Mobiliyze.ai and Toyota Mobility Foundation are hoping that the Biden Administration and electric utilities that are planning to deploy public EV chargers prioritize an equitable rollout as well.
More on Tesla truck: Delivery dates for Tesla’s EV pickup, the Cybertruck, have unsurprisingly been pushed back to 2022. The delay, first spotted by Inside EVs, was confirmed on the vehicle’s website, which now states production will begin next year. Late 2021 had been the initial target timeframe. Inside EVs thinks the delays have something to do with Tesla’s factory in Texas, where the Cybertruck is going to be manufactured.
New paper explores California transit agencies and ZEVs: CALSTART’s new white paper, California Transit Agencies Chart a Course to Zero Emissions: A Review of Proposed ZEB Pathways Under the Innovative Clean Transit Regulation, looks at key data found in the plans that outline a gradual shift to zero-emissions buses by 2040 as required by the California Air Resources Board’s Innovative Clean Transit (ICT) regulation. More than half of responding agencies (10 out of 19) plan to purchase FCEBs, and two additional agencies will consider both FCEBs and BEBs in their undeclared acquisitions. These and other observations of these plan can be found in the new paper.
Another sign that Covid-19 has taken a turn — at least on the economic level — is that electric vehicle startups are gaining traction again. Companies that have been flying under the radar for long periods have suddenly found generous deals from investors.
But not all the news is good, and we won’t see any of these new EVs come to market this year. Here are a few interesting developments………
It’s all about SPACs Special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) have been growing at an unprecedented pace this year, with investors and private company owners seeing the business model as a win-win. EV startups are among a growing number of automotive sectors gaining SPAC backers.
Crunchbase News, which tracks Silicon Valley and tech startups,just documented these 2021 deals and found that big-name investment and venture capital firms have gotten into it this year for the first time. SPAC may not get as much respect as initial public offerings, but it has gained quite a bit of credibility and support. The publication’s list includes electric busmaker Proterra; charger netwtwork EVGo; fuel-cell powered commercial truck maker Hyzon Motors; EV startup Lucid Motors; online used car marketplace Cazoo; electric scooter maker Bird; and DC faster charger company Tritium.
Autonomous vehicle companies and automotive suppliers are also reaping the rewards of going public by merging with SPACs, which are publicly listed investment companies. The latest one was Lucid Group, the company formed after Lucid Motors’ merger with Churchill Capital Corp IV (CCIV) and which is now a publicly listed company. Lucid has been best known for its all-electric Air sedan.
Lucid Group launched on Nasdaq on July 26, which the company said brought in $4.5 billion in capital. Class A common stock and public warrants are now listed under the new ticker symbols “LCID” and “LCIDW.” The capital will allow it to add 2.7 million square feet of additional space at the company’s greenfield factory in Arizona; some of that will go to adding a separate line for the Project Gravity electric SUV. Shares of Lucid Group climbed nearly 10 percent in their first day of trading on Monday, hovering around $26.50, while ending the week at $24.25.
The SPAC deal had been announced in February as the fog started lifting from the pandemic. Investors have been enthusiastic about these types of deals, allowing businesses to go through public combinations with shell companies and avoid traditional IPOs. Lucid had already invested $700 million in the greenfield plant, and had looked forward to bringing in more outside investments funds. In 2019, the California startup gave up majority ownership to Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund in exchange for a $1.3 billion investment.
Canoo, a startup with a plan to roll out an electric minivan in 2022, went public last December through a reverse merger with an SPAC. In June the company said it planned to build an assembly plant in Oklahoma that would open in 2023. Canoo is known for its “skateboard”, or a low-rise platform that bundles batteries and electric motors with chassis components such as as steering, brakes and wheels, on which a variety of vehicle body types can be built.
Last October, Fisker went public in an SPAC reverse merger with Spartan Energy Acquisition to net the company more than $1 billion. Outsourcing to other companies like Magna and Foxconn to do the engineering, and being less invested in assets, could help the company reach growth and profits. The Fisker Ocean electric SUV will start rolling off the assembly line at Magna’s Graz facility in Austria in November of next year.
Faraday Future had a revival from what looked like a near-death experience not that long ago. That was thanks to a SPAC deal with Property Solutions Acquisition Corp. that is providing the automaker with $1 billion. The company had gone through upheaval — abandoning a plan for a $1 billion factory in Nevada; but it has yet to build its first vehicle. Another difficulty: Its founder and CEO, Chinese billionaire Jia Yueting, filed for bankruptcy in 2019.
The company received much attention for showing off its alluring electric car, the FF91, with voluminous interior room, gigantic display screens and Tesla-competitive acceleration. But the audience will be very limited once the vehicle roll out, with pricing going from $120,000 to $200,000.
UK-based Arrival makes electric buses and vans using micro-manufacturing – an asset-light strategy. It recently went public via a SPAC merger, and partnerships have helped the startup move forward, Last year, it made an agreement with UPS to roll out an initial order of 10,000 electric delivery vehicles through 2024. This year, Arrival partnered with Uber to create a purpose-built EV for ridesharing, and more recently took an order of 3,000 EVs from LeasePlan, a major fleet management company.
It didn’t go well for Nikola Nikola Corp. has tried out SPACs as an alternative method to finding the backing that it needed, but that took an ugly turn for the worst. Its former chief was indicted last week on three counts of criminal fraud over false claims he made about the company.
Nikola was able build support and interest by rolling out a number of zero-emission fuel cell electric concept trucks from 2016 to 2020. Trevor Milton, the founder and former CEO of Nikola, had been an articulate champion of the product. Milton had also become a billionaire after taking the vehicle maker public through an SPAC deal. The stock price had skyrocketed as the CEO made several claims about the company’s progress toward bringing its electric and fuel cell trucks to market.
Trouble began brewing last year when a report from Hindenburg Research made several allegations exposing deception by Nikola and Milton. The report had included several claims corroborated in previous reportsfrom Electrek and Bloomberg. The company did respond to those claims, but its response failed to address and rebut these allegations.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan charged him on July 29 with two counts of securities fraud and one count of wire fraud. The former CEO pled not guilty to the charges later that day and was freed on $100 million bail. The US Securities and Exchange Commission also filed a civil suit against him for securities fraud.
In a statement, Nikola said that the indictment was against Milton and not the fuel cell electric truck manufacturing company. The company also noted that he had not been involved in the business since last year. The company had hoped to restore confidence and enthusiasm in its business model well beyond Milton, living up to its ambitious claims. One of those had been its goal to build 700 hydrogen fueling stations across North America by 2028. The hydrogen would be produced on site at each location. But now the very existence and future of Nikola Motors is in question.
What does chip shortage mean for electric vehicles? The global auto industry has been particularly vulnerable to a shortage in chips, or semiconductor devices, that are behind the increasingly complex electrical and digital devices used in new vehicles. That comes primarily from entertainment systems, navigation systems, and sensors.
The pandemic increased demand for personal electronics, especially cell phones and laptops, that also require chips — throwing off the supply chain where production couldn’t keep pace with demand. Experts say that the chip shortage will greatly affect EV production, which puts startups in another sensitive situation.
This issue came up during Tesla’s second quarter earnings call. CEO Elon Musk said that the company has been able to switch to types of chips that are readily available, but that the chip shortage was limiting the company’s output.
Market analysts expect that the chip shortage will begin to ease in the third or fourth quarter of this year. However, it could take much of next year for these new chips to make their way through the supply chains to new vehicles being produced.
Three other EV startups to watch Rivian: The electric truck maker startup has been been doing very in finding financial backers and corporate contracts, with Amazon being the most noticed. Ford’s support has been helping, too. There may be some type of IPO coming up soon. Rivian has been in talks with government officials about building a factory in the UK, near Bristol. That may involve a large state-support package. A delivery van version of its R1T electric truck has been delayed from June to the second half of this year to arrive with customers. Lordstown Motors: This Ohio-based startup has been capturing interest in its Endurance L-1500 with in-wheel motors that can delver 250 miles of range and 600 horsepower. That interest is more tied to commercial customers than consumers. It will have a starting price of $52,500. Production is expected to start in September for initially reach 1,000 units. The company launched its own SPAC in October 2020 on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol RIDE. The company has been hurt by negative reports, and by conerns that having bought General Motor’s former massive (6 million square foot) Lordstown, Ohio, assembly plant was not a good idea. Workhorse, as reported here recently, has been spending a lot of time in the delivery drone business. Its electric truck story fell out of grace recently by losing the U.S. Postal Service deal on the agency acquiring its battery electric vehicle delivery trucks. That’s meant a 70 percent drop in share prices from its all-time highs. Its product is still an unknown risk — electric trucks designed with hub motors, which offers potential benefits to fleets but has gone largely unproven so far.
And in other news…………..
Speaking of SPACs, they’re not always going to succeed: “Investors are perceiving EV charging businesses as highly promising investment_targets based on their long-term revenue projections, however the relevance of strategic investments in this area cannot be underestimated as has been displayed by the performance of recent SPACs.”
That comes from Charles River Associates new report,Investment in EV Charging Business. Eager buyers coming into the charging and e-mobility are making it tougher for startups and established suppliers to stay focused on the tasks at hand in the competitive landscape. But the opportunities are there.
Lyft’s role in autonomous vehicles: This Automotive News podcast features Jody Kelman, head of Lyft’s autonomous ride division, explores the suprisiding moves made by the ride-sharing giant that looked like it would be completely stepping out of the autonomous shared ride business. As podcast interviews tend to go, it offers a more interesting and personalized look at the issues. Kelman talks about the company’s new deal with Ford and Argo AI, offers insights gathered from driving data, and tells the story of her first ride in an autonomous vehicle.
Hydrogen coming to India? The use of hydrogen power for vehicle transport is an “interesting alternative” for India, especially as it would reduce dependence on lithium imports, the chairman of India’s top-selling automaker Maruti Suzuki said on Monday. R.C. Bhargava discussed the challenges with shareholders in the company’s annual report meeting as the company looks to meet stringent emissions targets; and as demand for lithium used in batteries soars worldwide. India would be following behind three other neighbors in the Asia Pacific region — Japan, South Korea, and China — which for years have been committed to bringing in more fuel cell vehicles and charging stations.
Plug-in electric vehicles arena’t going to take over new vehicle sales anytime soon, but the market is having a surprising comeback given that Covid-19 and economic jitters continue. Consumers are looking well beyond the basics, including entertainment during the quarantine, for electric passenger cars, while electric trucks are seeing a bit of movement as well.
While major players are making the headway in sales, startups are coming out of the shadows and playing a role in the market dynamics as well. Electric trucks are getting a lot of interest from investors.
This week: the major automakers are doing well.
Top 10 global EV brands in sales this year through May
Brand 2021 Units Sold
Strong sales of plug-in electric vehicles marked June sales results, and the first six months of this year. US sales more than doubled in the first half compared to that time period in 2020, versus a 29 percent increase of the overall new vehicle sales market.
In China, about 235,000 plug-ins were sold in June, which translated to 15 percent market share for the overall new vehicle sales market in that country. June saw an all-time record for new energy vehicles. About 12 percent of the overall market is battery electric vehicles. The Wuling Hong Guang MINI EV continues to lead the China market.
Europe saw plug-in vehicles taking an even larger share of its overall new vehicle sales than China. At over 237,000 registrations in June, these vehicles made up 19 percent of the total market. Year over year, it was a 157 percent gain in sales for plug-in vehicles sold in the European market.
Tesla numbers looking very good. Much of Tesla’s numbers have been fueled by the new Model Y small crossover taking off. The Model 3’s sales has been dropping and the Model S and Model X have been nearly absent compared to previous strong sales. The Model Y really took in the California market, where crossover SUVs remain popular with drivers.
Tesla Inc. just crossed a threshold on Tuesday when for the first time ever it announced quarterly profits without without counting on the sale of emissions credits to other automakers. Those credits had run out, and in the first quarter, Tesla reported a $534 gain in selling federal credits to competitors. Another gain expressed by Tesla executives was that it’s been able to sidestep the effects of a global chip shortage that has held back production for global automakers. The company will have to continue that sidestep as it attempts to satisfy growing demand for electric vehicles, they said. On the downside, Tesla said it had to once again delay its semitrailer truck, aLready two years late, with deliveries expected in 2022.
Tesla reported about $12 billion in revenue during the second quarter, nearly double Q2 2020. A profit of $1.1 billion was reporting, the eight sequential quarter without a loss.
The biggest surprise in global EV sales has been seeing a Chinese joint venture shoot up in sales since last year. The Wuling HongGuang Mini EV that starts at $4,500 — a tiny, two-door hatchback that seats only four people — has done very well since its introduction a year ago. It debuted in China and has only sold there so far, with plans on shipping it overseas. Its manufactured under a JV between Wuling, SAIC Motor, and General Motors.
SAIC was already a strong player in the market, coming it at 8th place in global EV sales so far this year through its broad lineup. The company did particularly well last year. Sales of its new energy vehicles (NEVs) saw a year-on-year increase of 73.4 percent to 320,000 vehicles in 2020, representing the fastest growth rate and highest sales figures in China. The major Chinese automaker produces EVs under several brands, including joint ventures — Roewe, SAIC Wuling, MG, Maxus, and SAIC VW. The luxury brand Roewe has been particularly important, with its new “R” logo rolled out last year for the Marvel-R electric SUV.
Volkswagen has been pleased to see its ID concept take off. The ID 3 and ID 4 have made up 50,000 units of its total EV sales so far this year through the end of May; though the production process and sales have been slower than analysts had expected for the ID series.
Still, VW is not anywhere near where it had pledged to be by now with 2025 being the lofty benchmark. The German automaker says that over the next 5 years, it will spend about $55 billion electrifying all its brands. In 2025 the company expects 25 percent of its global sales to be battery electric vehicles (BEVs), growing up to 60 percent by the early 2030s. Europe will see an even higher goal to reach, with VW recently raising its sales target for BEVs plus plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) in Europe to 70% by 2030, up from 35%. All ICE production for VW brand will stop in Europe by 2035.
BYD Han EV was the Chinese automaker’s top seller with 32,865 units sold January through May. BYD continues to emphasize its fleet/commercial/transit vehicles with more units being sold abroad in the transport bus and commercial truck segments.
Three days ago, the company celebrated the production of the 100,000th Han model, which has been offered in China since Summer 2020 in two versions — all-electric and plug-in hybrid. Soon before that announcement, BYD reported that it sold in China 40,116 passengers plug-in cars, which is 207 percent more than a year ago, and a new monthly record. Plug-in electric vehicles made up about 81 percent of total BYD passenger vehicle sales in June, which matches the 81 percent record from December 2018, the company said.
Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler recently said that it plans to invest more than 40 billion euros ($47 billion) by 2030 to be ready to take on Tesla in an all-electric car market, but warned the shift in technology would lead to job cuts. That will come through building eight battery plants with strategic partners as the German automaker ramps up EV production. By 2025, all new vehicle platforms will only make EVs, the German luxury automaker added.
Daimler is in a similar position as VW, Volvo, Audi, Peugeot, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Ford, and other automakers: How do you take on Tesla? While EV sales has been gradually growing for these global automakers, none of them have crossed the tipping point they’d set in recent years to meet stringent government climate change and air quality regulations, and to meet growing demand for clean vehicles and sustainable products among consumer and corporate customers.
BEVs still dominate the global EV market. The top-selling plug-in hybrid in May was the Toyota Prius Prime at 5,850 sold worldwide that month with a similar pattern for the year and BEVs leading the way. There were only four plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) in the top 20 during that month.
And in other news………..
Ford announced that Romulus, Mich., will be the home of its new global battery center of excellence – Ford Ion Park – which is accelerating the company’s research and development of battery and battery cell technology – including future battery manufacturing. Ford Ion Park is aimed at driving high-volume battery cell delivery, better range, and lower costs for customers.It represents $100 million of Ford’s $185 million investment in developing, testing, and building vehicle battery cells and cell arrays.
“Ford already is delivering on our plan to lead the electric revolution with strong new vehicles including Mustang Mach-E, 2022 E-Transit available late 2021 and the 2022 F-150 Lightning available from spring next year,” said Anand Sankaran, Ford Ion Park director. “The new lab will help Ford speed up the battery development process to deliver even more capable, affordable batteries and is part of Ford’s renewed commitment to making Michigan a centerpiece of its focus on EVs.”
Amazon-backed electric truck startup Rivian raised $2.5B in its latest funding round amid reports of plans for an initial public offering. The funding round was led by Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, D1 Capital Partners, Ford Motor Co., and funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price, according to a statement. Rivian has raised about $10.5 billion overall.
The market for hydrogen power generation technologies is transitioning toward maturity and wider adoption, buoyed by improving economics, growing government support, and demand for clean and reliable power, according to a new Guidehouse Insights report. Since around 2016, the hydrogen economy has gained significant momentum as countries, cities, organizations, and industries look to decarbonize. The emergence of commercially viable hydrogen vehicles and massive investments in electrolyzers for green hydrogen production have pushed hydrogen’s potential to new levels, the study says.
One company is set to tap into these growing market dynamics. Hyzon Motors Inc., a global supplier of hydrogen fuel-cell-powered commercial vehicles, has developed new onboard hydrogen storage system technology that it says is capable of reducing the weight and manufacturing cost of commercial vehicles powered by the company’s hydrogen fuel cells. The new patent-pending onboard hydrogen storage system technology has the potential to reduce the overall weight of the system by 43 percent, storage system costs by 52 percent, and the required manufacturing component count by 75 percent, according to the report.
Tesla expanding access to fast-charging network. CEO Elon Musk recently tweeted that by the end of the year, the electric vehicle maker will be opening up its network of Superchargers to other EVs. Tesla has had a competitive edge with it network of over 25,000 fast chargers at over 2,700 stations globally.
Germany’s transport minister had said he was trying to convince Tesla to go this route; and President Joe Biden’s plans to put in $1.2 trillion on infrastructure, with $7.5 billion going toward EV infrastructure, could also boost efforts to open up EV fast chargers. Charging companies such as Volkswagen’s Electrify America, and Blink Charging Co., EVgo Inc., and ChargePoint, are also building out charging networks across the US.
If you’re fascinated with green vehicle sales, where do you go to find that information?
Not long ago, you would have gone to InsideEV’s EV Sales Scorecard, HybridCar’s Hybrid Dashboard, Electric Drive Transportation Association’s monthly report, Green Auto Market’s Extended Edition (for paid subscribers); regular coverage in Green Car Congress. EV-volumes.com, and CleanTechnica; and special reports that might be released by EVAdoption, International Energy Agency, BloombergNEF, Statista.com, and occasionally, other sources.
So, what have we got left these days? After spending time researching that question, it looks like there are only three main sources available at this time:
US Dept. of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory. The agency offers cumulative figures, and some details on the latest market developments, on hybrid electric vehicle sales, plug-in vehicle sales, and hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles. You can also view charts on US plug-in vehicle sales since 2010, and mostly sales data for electric vehicles. The problem here is that you have to magnify the chart and gaze at lines of color to estimate those volumes.
CleanTechnica’s news coverage and quarterly US electric vehicle sales charts. CleanTechnica is a very good publication to follow for those interested in the state of renewable energy, climate change policies, energy efficiency, sustainability campaigns, and the role that electric vehicles is playing in the market. That might include EV models doing well in Europe and other global markets.
Veloz.com: Veloz is a fairly new nonprofit organization dedicated to “leading the electric car revolution.” The NPO’s members come from key sector companies, agencies, and nonprofits. Its focus is on California, but its reporting does include national figures. The organization’s Sales Dashboarddata comes from the California Energy Commission and includes the most current cumulative figures on zero emission vehicle (ZEV) sales in the state, including plug-in vehicle and fuel cell electric vehicle sales in California and in the US. You can also view cumulative data on California’s EV charger and hydrogen stations, and on California vehicle models available meeting the state’s ZEV guidelines.
What’s missing is monthly sales data on models. How is the Tesla Model 3 doing in US sales last month compared to a year ago? Two years ago? How many units have been sold since it was introduced in 2017? What are the closest plug-in models in sales from other automakers? These and other good questions can’t be answered now — unless you have a research firm that you’ve paid to do that project; or some of it may be provided to member organizations in NPOs and through alliances with government agencies. Even better yet, you get the automakers to provide their monthly sales data reports directly to you.
What happened to all that wonderful data? In late 2019, and into the next year, announcements started being made that these sales reports would be coming to an end. As you can see on Argonne National Laboratory’s page: “As of November 2019, Argonne no longer reports the number of E-drive vehicles sold by make and model.”
Argonne offers details on where it’s data used to come from, but if you visit these sites, you’ll notice they’re missing — with or without announcements on the last of the detailed reports. I think the main reason for these changes was publications having less resources to spend the necessary time, and to tap into existing relationships, to get these reports done and published. Media sources were going through cutbacks in staff, mergers and acquisitions, and a perception that green vehicles were not the hot commodity for getting more active readers and advertisers. Maybe that would be going over to smartphone apps like Apple CarPlay, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, and the latest and coolest high-performance cars powered by fossil fuels.
Green Auto Market stopped publishing these charts around this time to subscribers as well — that came from having less of the data available; and changes in my own career path that included stopping regular editions out for about seven months.
That being said, what is going on in green vehicles sales? Here’s a few market trends that I’ve noticed:
Battery and electric vehicle sales are coming back gradually, but the long-term effect looks pretty good. A total of 53,779 light-duty plug-in vehicles — 37,967 battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and 15,812 plug-in hybrid electric (PHEVs) — were sold during May 2021 in the US, up 329 percent from sales in May 2020, says Argonne National Laboratory.
Cumulatively, 230,687 PHEVs and BEVs have been sold in 2021. US plug-in vehicle sales in 2020 totaled around 296,000 units, which was down significantly from the 331,000 in sales in 2019 due largely to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Platts Analytics Future Energy Outlooks’ report.
The chart featured above, from Argonne National Laboratory, supports the idea that plug-in vehicles are back on track for gradual growth and integration into new vehicle sales. That would go for North America, Europe, and China, according to this report and other sources.
Light-duty trucks make up most of hybrid sales. Here’s a telling one…… light trucks (pickup trucks and SUVs) were on pace to account for 76.2 percent of all US new-vehicle retail sales in May 2021, according to J.D. Power and LMC Automotive. The ratio was down for light trucks versus cars in hybrids, but the same trend carried over.
About 64 percent of US new hybrid vehicle sales from January through May 2021 were led by light trucks. During that month, 75,025 hybrid electric vehicles sales (27,085 cars and 47,940 LTs) were sold in the US,. It was up 170.5 percent from the sales in May 2020. Toyota is doing very well here. The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid has been No. 1 lately in US hybrid sales, with the Toyota Highlander Hybrid at No. 2.
Northern Europe leads the way. Plug-in vehicles are still down as marginal share of total new vehicles sales in the US (about 2 percent last year), but that’s far from true in a few other countries. Northern Europe is leading the way here. The top five (percentage of 2020 total new vehicle sales) were Norway (74.8 percent), Iceland (52.4 percent), Sweden (32.3 percent), Netherlands (25.0 percent), and Finland (18.1 percent).
That data from International Energy Agency, presented in a Pew Research Center study, shows the world average at 4.6 percent. Massive EV market China came in at 5.7 percent of new vehicle sales going to plug-ins last year.
Tesla still dominates the market. While the Model 3 may not have total domination of the market anymore, it’s still doing very well. And it’s No. 2 behind the new Model Y. That new small crossover had 44,680 units sold in the US during the second quarter, while the Model 3 came in at 36,300. The Model S and Model X were down on the list of Q2 2021 US sales, but still in the top 10. Tesla had a slight decline in its share, but it still controls 71 percent of US plug-in vehicle sales this year.
Catalytic converters a hot topic for car thieves — and for a filmmaker who exposes ‘smog conspiracy’
How did catalytic converters become such a hot topic lately — whether that be about car thieves or an entertaining movie about its history and cover up by automakers? The technology has been around for years and was essential for automakers to meet state and federal rules on manufacturing vehicles producing less smog emissions, but there is something of high value to thieves beyond that purpose.
You may have noticed in local news coverage that catalytic converter units have been cut off and removed by thieves at an alarming rate over the past year. Many arrests are being made regularly, and recovery of stolen goods is being claimed by law enforcement around the country whenever possible.
The technology uses precious metals as catalysts that process raw exhaust gases and converts them over to less harmful gases in water, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen.
Why are thieves stealing a lot of them these days? They’re not reselling the converters; it’s that the precious metals used in manufacturing catalytic converters have quite a lot dollar value to buyers, according to Roadshow editor Brian Cooley. Platinum, palladium, and rhodium, though in small quantities, make the theft worthwhile for these precious metals.
Where did it all begin? A series of air pollution and air quality federal laws starting in 1970 eventually led to a 1975 federal mandate on emission standards that included the catalytic converter. The OPEC oil embargo of 1973 was another influential factor on the federal government adding the 1975 rules. States eventually enacted rules on aftermarket catalytic converters that would meet federal Environmental Protection Agency standards.
That eventually evolved into California requiring the use of California Air Resources Board-compliant catalytic converters on Jan. 1, 2009. Other states followed along including New York (6/1/2013) and Maine (6/1/2018) mandating the use of CARB-compliant converters for certain model year vehicles. Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, Colorado became the latest state to call for the use of. CARB-compliant catalytic converters typically use an enhanced combination of washcoat technology and higher precious metal load to meet the state’s stricter emissions conversions standard.
What the new movie deals with No Sudden Move, a 2021 film streaming on HBO Max and starring Don Cheadle and Benicio Del Toro, was directed by Steven Soderbergh. It’s a crime thriller about a 1954 theft of the first catalytic converter system. As mentioned, that air pollution reduction system did become mandated by the federal government in 1975 — but had been floating around in the backdrop for over two decades. That plays into the classic conspiracy theory about major automakers buying patent rights, or conducting legal battles in court or through lobbying efforts, to suppress clean vehicle technology. One idea here is that America already has a vast network of gas stations. Switching over to alternative fuels and energy would be incredibly costly; and who would foot the bill?
Actor Matt Damon plays an anonymous auto industry executive in No Sudden Move who becomes similar to “Deep Throat” in All The President’s Men. He refers to moves being made by automakers to control the catalytic converter and how big bucks would be paid to get the technology returned from the thieves. At the end of the movie, text rolls across the screen explaining how, a few years after the film’s historic placement of its storyline, the federal government sued major carmakers for conspiring to hide evidence that vehicles were causing pollution; and the automakers were suppressing catalytic-converter technology that could help combat the problem.
Damon’s shadowy character also responds to questions about the “redlining” of neighborhoods in Detroit that would later bring down housing market value and encourage crime waves in America’s black community neighborhoods. Redlining segregation went far beyond Detroit, the auto executive said.
The catalytic converter reference at the end of the film goes to a 1969 lawsuit by the US Dept. of Justice against American Motors, Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors, who were charged with conspiring between 1953 to 1969 to delay both the manufacturing of pollution-control devices and their installation in cars. It took on the slang term, “smog conspiracy” in media coverage.
Soderbergh, best known for his Ocean’s 11 trilogy, has kept his hand in geopolitical battles and conspiracy theories over his career. Oscar-winning Erin Brockovich (2000), features Julia Roberts playing the title character on a crusade with her law firm employer to hold accountable Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) for its role in the Hinkley groundwater contamination incident. Traffic (2000) explored the drug trafficking industry and the futile attempts to suppress it by criminal law and enforcement; Contagion (2011) set the tone for Covid-19 when a business traveler having an affair in Hong Kong contracts a pandemic virus and brings it back to the US. Jude Law plays an anti-pharmaceutical industry activist — and conspiracy theory champion — who benefits financially from his own clandestine efforts to spread the story.
Automakers tend to stay out of these stories and accusations, choosing to focus more on winning high-performance racing competitions and growing sales and profit margins each quarter. In more recent years, they have tended to cooperating more with regulators and participate in discussions with California on zero emissions, fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen, and charging infrastructure. They also continue to ask for a national standard by the federal government on fuel economy and emissions.
Complying with catalytic converter rules is one of many that automakers must follow in safety, fuel economy, and reliability. Suppressing the technology is less likely these days, and after the 2015 Volkswagen diesel car debacle, they’re especially less likely to take on those types of risks.
The catalytic converter is likely one of several technologies that will eventually go away if the projected model of electric, autonomous, connected, and shared vehicles becomes the global industry’s norm. For now, state and federal laws require vehicles to be equipped with these transitional technologies, and for automakers to do their part in making sure it happens.
And in other news……… EA doubling infrastructure: Electrify America announced its “Boost Plan” to more than double its current electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure in the United States and Canada, with plans to have more than 1,800 fast charging stations and 10,000 individual chargers installed by the end of 2025. The expansion will increase the deployment of 150 and 350 kilowatt chargers – the fastest speed available today – and help pave the way for more electric vehicles in North America.
New Honda CEO on EV alliances: Honda Motor Co.’s new CEO Toshihiro Mibe said today that the automaker is willing to form new alliances to make electric vehicles profitable. One alliance partner is General Motors, and the two companies have said they will meet two objectives: introduce two jointly developed large-sized EV models in North America, using GM’s Ultium batteries, in 2024; and roll out several new models which feature a new EV platform they’re calling ‘e:Architecture.’
Mibe, who took this job in April, made points during a press conference on issues affecting all automotive executives — the economic and regulatory pressures to share technology and costs with competitors, meet stringent clean air and climate change mandates, and to transition over to autonomous driving.
New ride-hailing startup: Finally! Something positive and constructive related to the ride-hailing market: a driver-owned cooperative in New York City. How a union organizer, black car driver, and former Uber executive, took on a huge challenge: building a new ride-hailing platform that gives profit and control to drivers. Read all about it.
RNG brings carbon negativity: Natural Gas Vehicles for America (NGVAmerica) and Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas (RNG Coalition) announced that California fleets fueled with bio-CNG achieved carbon-negativity for calendar year 2020. They also say that 92 percent of all on-road fuel used in natural gas vehicles in California last year was renewable natural gas (RNG). According to data from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) the annual average carbon intensity score of bio-CNG in that mix was -5.845 gCO2e/MJ. The carbon intensity of California’s bio-CNG continues to drop. -0.85 in Q2 and -17.95 in Q3.
BYD sales skyrocket: BYD sold 51,015 vehicles in June, with 49,765 units of passenger vehicles and 1,250 units of commercial vehicles respectively. In China, the company’s new energy vehicles shot up 207 percent year-over-year in June. During the second half of 2021, BYD will continue increasing its production capacity to meet market demand and use innovative technologies such as the DM-i hybrid system and the blade battery to create more sales in the future.
While post-pandemic road testing has started up again for autonomous vehicles in the US and other countries, reaching the commercial level is still a long ways off — at least the fully autonomous vehicle part of it. Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) continue being included as standard equipment on new vehicles, and other pieces of the puzzle continue to fall into place — but all of the technology will remain under strict scrutiny for years. On the other hand, aerial drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are already commercialized and growing in production options. UAWs have always been years ahead of autonomous vehicles.
The potential is huge for fleets, transit agencies, transportation planners, ride-sharing companies, shuttles, technology giants, robotics manufacturers, vehicle makers, and more. The transformation into connected, electric, shared, and autonomous vehicles is on its way, but at a slower pace than many had hoped for.
“In recent years, private and government testing of autonomous vehicles has increased significantly, although it is likely that widespread use of fully autonomous vehicles — with no driver attention needed — lies many years in the future,” according to the April 2021 briefing by the Congressional Research Service.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)just issued orders for manufacturers to report any crash that happens while a vehicle is automating some driving tasks and an injury or property damage is reported. It covers all vehicles that can partially automate functions, such as steering, acceleration, or braking. Fully autonomous vehicles (AVs) will go on the list later on, once they become available for sale. More will be revealed by NHTSA on the safety issues that AVs and ADAS face.
Safety has to be resolved NHTSA’s move addresses the major roadblock for AVs to move forward to mass-market production: safety. The pace was slowed down after the 2018 death in Arizona of a pedestrian struck by an autonomous vehicle operated by ride-hailing firm Uber. The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the fatality was caused by an “inadequate safety culture” at Uber. Two April 2021 fatalities in a Tesla vehicle that was operating with no one in the driver’s seat raised further questions about the safety of AVs.
The federal government has put in place an overview on AV laws, and for the states to carry out the specifics. That will come in the form of national safety standards and requirements. The feds would like like states to lead the way dialogue with tech innovators, industry, and government.
The majority of testing has been taking place in a handful of states: Arizona, California, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Washington. California remains the busiest hub for AV testing.
In California, there are 55 permit holders for testing a self-driving car with a driver onboard. Eight of them are also permit holders for driverless testing. One of them, Nuro, Inc., also has authorization for deployment of autonomous vehicle that was granted on Dec. 23, 2020.
Nuro is an American robotics company based in Mountain View, Calif. The company develops autonomous delivery vehicles, and was the first company to receive an autonomous exemption from NHTSA since its vehicles are designed to carry goods instead of humans.
It joins up with Waymo, the self-driving unit of Alphabet, which opened up its fully driverless vehicles to all customers of its ride-hailing service in the Phoenix area back in October. Nuro and Waymo are operating and overseeing a fairly small number of AVs in the two states.
The other companies on the California permit holders list have been very visible in testing out AVs for nearly a decade. The list includes Apple, Argo AI, Baidu USA, BMW, Continental, Cruise, Delphi, DiDi, Honda, Intel, Lyft, Mercedes-Benz, Nio, Nissan, Nvidia, Pony.AI, Qualcomm, Ridecell, Telenav, Tesla, Toyota Research Institute, Volkswagen, and Waymo. Exploring some of the AV technology that these companies are developing, many times with partners, can be eye opening. The investment has been sizable, and thousands of employees have devoted their workdays to exploring and testing the technology.
Uber and Lyft go on to other things Another clear sign that AV is a market segment that’s still years in the makingis that companies are leaving after having invested substantially into it. Lyft recently sold its AV unit to a Toyota subsidiary, Woven Planet, for $550 million. Uber sold its business to Aurora, a startup headed by Chris Urmson, who played a key role in Google’s self-driving car division before it was named Waymo.
For the companies still in the business — automakers, Waymo, and a few startups, they’re likely to spend an additional $6 billion to $10 billion before the technology makes it to the commercial level.
“This is a transformation that is going to happen over 30 years and possibly longer,” Urmson said.
There may have been too much hype during 2014-15 after Google rolled out its self-driving test cars and every automaker, tech giant, and startup, claimed it would change the world within a brief time period.
Self-driving trucks is a segment that may see success before driverless passenger cars. Both Ways and Aurora are developing autonomous trucks along cars. The routes are simpler and less drivers involved. Daimler and Volvo are expected to do well in commercial autonomous trucks. Tesla has that opportunity, too.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk is known for making bold, sometimes outlandish, statements about Tesla rolling out breakthrough technology way ahead of competitors. That’s certainly been the case with fully autonomous vehicles, but Tesla owners have had enough of it. Musk’s bold claims go back to 2018, and then again in 2019 when his first promise didn’t come through. His wording changed over to a “feature-complete” system that would still rely on the driver’s attention, which most recently rolled over to Tesla’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) Beta. As usual, that test program is taking much longer than he’d hoped for. Musk had promised that an update should be coming “no later than June.” But Tesla owners went after him on Twitter as the month ended, and Musk had to back down.
Nearly all states considering laws or have them in place States are taking it very seriously, with many of the rules governing testing of the vehicles. Forty-eight states have laws or regulations — or those that are under consideration — related to autonomous vehicles. Twenty-nine states have enacted legislation related to AVs, according to National Conference of State Legislatures.
These 29 states are Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin (and Washington D.C.). Governors in Arizona, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ohio, Washington and Wisconsin have issued executive orders related to autonomous vehicles.
Drones have been leading the way Look up drones on Google, and you’ll be scanning through hundreds of Amazon listings on small drone aircraft used by teenagers and adults as a hobby. Some of the drones, aka UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), are being used for commercial purposes — weather and traffic reports, deliveries, and many other functions. For those working in the industry, aerial and water drones are far ahead of driverless cars; and reconnaissance aircraft, which have been used by the US military for over 40 years, lead the way.
One company, DroneDeploy, offers aerial inspections with UAVs. DroneDeploy works with clients such as construction companies, building inspectors, planning agencies, and designers, to keep upgrading its products for effective scrutiny of construction projects.
“Today you have to count on a superintendent walking by the right thing at the right time and taking a picture. Capturing everything with a drone will help you catch issues that you’re not catching now,” according to Austin Lay, Visualization Coordinator/sUAS Flight Specialist, Layton Construction.
On April 21, 2021, the Federal Aviation Administration passed final rules for remotely identifying drones and allowing operators of small drones to fly over people and at night under certain conditions. The Remote Identification (Remote ID) rule provides for identifying drones in flight and the location of their control stations, reducing the risk of them interfering with other aircraft or posing a risk to people and property on the ground.
“Drones can provide virtually limitless benefits, and these new rules will ensure these important operations can grow safely and securely,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson. “The FAA will continue to work closely with other Department of Transportation offices and stakeholders from across the drone community to take meaningful steps to integrate emerging technologies that safely support increased opportunities for more complex drone use.”
Major aerospace and defense companies have been making moves in this space for several years and have been working with government officials to comply with rules. Amazon Prime Air — a future delivery system from Amazon — is being designed to safely get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less using drones.
Boeing builds the MQ-35 Stingray aerial-refueling drone for the Navy. The company is also working on the Airpower Teaming System or “Loyal Wingman” military unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
Northrop Grumman has played a leading role in the deployment of pilotless aircraft for the military. Its RQ-4A Global Hawk surveillance drone grabbed attention in 2019 after it was shot down by Iran while operating in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz. Its MQ-4C Triton, based on its Global Hawk drone, is playing a part in marine environments; Fire Scout, a rotary-wing drone, is being used in Navy ships.
Lockheed Martin builds the Stalker XE for special forces units, Desert Hawk III for UK forces, and the avionics for small quadcopter drones used by police. The company has also invested in artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Its AI team was a semi-finalist in Darpa’s dogfight challenge. In May 2020, the company announced a partnership between the Air Force Test Pilot School and the company’s Skunk Works division to strengthen the Air Force’s drone technology with AI.
Workhorse Group and AeroVironment have a presence Electric truck builder Workhorse Group is best known for building battery-powered trucks and vans that have been winning a lot of fleet purchase deals. While recently suing over not winning the the U.S. Postal Service’s contract for electric trucks, Ohio-based Workhorse Group is up there with Rivian for gaining a significant presence in the commercial electric truck market.
The company’s Horsefly UAV product is expected to do well in the package delivery space. Horsefly Is a custom built, high-efficiency delivery UAV that is fully integrated with Workhorse’s line of electric delivery trucks. The Horsefly system is designed to conform to the FAA guidelines for UAV operation in the US, the company said. Most notably, being fully integrated with delivery trucks, the system is designed such that a driver or driver’s assistant can maintain line-of-sight operation of the UAV delivery process.
Not long ago, California-based AeroVironment had a significant role to play in the U.S. electric vehicle charging infrastructure. But in June 2018, the company sold its chargingand test systems business to Webasto Group. AeroVironment employees in this division were carried over to their new employer.
AeroVironment has been strengthening its role as the Pentagon’s top provider of drones, but that’s not the end of it. The company said its Raven drone “is the most widely used unmanned aircraft system in the world today.”
The company built the Mars helicopter Ingenuity for NASA which performed the first controlled flight on another planet in April. It gained quite a lot of attention for the company and a lot more customers. Other achievements include bringing in oil giant BP (BP), the National Park Service, and law enforcement agencies have been drone customers.
And in other news…………
Infrastructure funding moves to Senate: The US House of Representatives approved a $715 billion surface transportation and water infrastructure bill Thursday in what Democrats say is the first step in sweeping infrastructure legislation that Congress hopes to finish by September. The vote passed 221-201 and goes to the Senate.
It includes provisions from the Biden administration’s $2.3 billion infrastructure proposal authorizing electric vehicle charging stations; spending on safety for roads, bridges, and highways; and rail, transit, and drinking and wastewater infrastructure. One major project could be $11.6 billion directed to connect New Jersey and New York’s Penn Station in Manhattan via four modern transportation tubes beneath the Hudson River.
Called the “INVEST in America Act,” the $715 billion contains more than $44 billion added during the amendment process to make greater investments in infrastructure.
President Joe Biden faces a set of political challenges getting through this funding round with more bills approaching asking for up to $6 trillion when all the numbers are totaled. Compromises and negotiations will continue with moderate Democrats clashing with the party’s left wing, and from Republican legislators.
The Senate just passed another transportation infrastructure bill last month. Many elements will have to be working out with Congress, which has its own set of priorities lad out in the INVEST in America Act.
U.S. PIRG sees that the INVEST in America Act would devote a record $547 billion to public transit, walking and biking infrastructure, and wildlife crossings, while emphasizing a fix-it-first, climate-friendly approach to transportation. It would improve water infrastructure, protect drinking water, and repair and expand the nation’s transportation system, the organization said.
Last November, Environment America and U.S. PIRG released Blueprint for America, an infrastructure plan to make American families and communities safer, healthier, and more resilient by focusing specifically on the areas of energy, transportation, water, solid waste, and natural infrastructure.
“No one wants dirty air, polluted water or unsafe roads. Adopting common-sense solutions to these problems is in the interest of all Americans and we applaud members of the House for coming together to do so today with the passage of the INVEST in America Act, said U.S. PIRG President Faye Park. “This bill shows a healthier, safer future is possible and we look forward to continuing to work with Congress to address all our infrastructure needs.”
Virgin Hyperloop is hoping thatfederal funding will include funding for some of its high-speed transportation projects. On June 16, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee passed S. 2016, the Surface Transportation Investment Act, which includes multiple provisions that will allow the continued development of hyperloop in the US, with bipartisan support.
“We applaud Chairwoman Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ranking Member Roger Wicker (R-MS), and all the Members of the Committee for their inclusion of provisions that will further the advancement and growth of the hyperloop industry,” said Sir Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group. “This is an important step to bringing hyperloop travel to Americans across the country.”
ACT Expo live investor summit: The Advanced Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo’s inaugural live Investor Summit will offer attendees a full picture of the current state of the industry, as well as key trends and projections for the coming year. The summit, taking place at the Long Beach Convention Center in Southern California, will be held on Monday, Aug. 30, kicking off the event. The conference and expo will be running Aug. 31 to Sept. 2. While it’s been a very tough time over the past year, clean transportation has seen a few gains being made. Investment in advanced clean commercial vehicle technologies and fuels are at an all-time high, with special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, investments in the industry grabbing headlines throughout this past year. Investment is expected to grow this year and into 2022. ACT Expo of this opening panel will offer attendees a good look at funding opportunities and significant projects taking shape.
AltWheels Fleet Day coming up in October: On Monday, Oct. 4, AltWheels Fleet Day will continue virtually and offers speakers, panels, and presentations on critical issues facing fleets and other stakeholders in alternative fuels and vehicles. Fleet managers will learn more about funding programs and emerging trends. More details will be coming out soon on speakers and subject matter. Last year, the conference went virtual for the first time and featured an impressive line-up of 19 expert speakers along with several sponsor videos. The event drew 378 registrants to hear keynote talks from Anirban Basu, Chairman & CEO, Sage Policy Group, and Bill Van Amburg, Executive Vice President, CALSTART; as well as a series of panels and interviews of industry leaders from organizations such as Ford, Toyota, UPS, National Grid, US Environmental Protection Agency, Verizon Connect, and Blackburn Energy to name a few.
Past Co-Hosts of this event have included: NAFA Fleet Management Association Chapters in New England, NY, and NJ; MA Motor Transportation Association; ME Motor Transportation Association; MA Highway; Massport; MA Executive Office of Transportation; ME Dept. of Transportation; Clean Cities Coalitions (CT, MA, ME, NH, NJ, NY, RI); American Public Works Association of New England; and many more. As a Co-Host, you will receive several benefits including free admission for all members; listing of your organization as a Co-Host on the Fleet Day website, with link, logo, and brief description; and other promotional activities provided by the Co-Hosts. For those interested, contact Meg Rivett, Event Director, at 508-498-8020 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New vehicle emissions comparison study: Reuters has releasedanalysis of data from a model that calculates the lifetime emissions of vehicles, a hot topic for debate in advancing electric vehicles and charging infrastructure to meeting climate targets. That comes through comparison of several electric vehicle (EV) models with traditional internal combustion engine choices that car buyers make. For example, if you own a Test Model 3, you’ll have to drive about 13,500 miles before you’re doing less harm to the environment than a gas-guzzling vehicle. The model was developed by the Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago. The detailed methodology includes thousands of parameters from the type metals in an EV battery to the amount of aluminum or plastic in a car. The study was conducted with Argonne’s Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions and Energy Use in Technologies, which provided its GREET model for the study. GREET is now being used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board.
Ford makes leap in electrified sales: Ford sales of electrified vehicles jumped 117 percent in June, capping off a new first-half sales record on sales of 56,570 vehicles, hitting a record level. Mustang Mach-E sales totaled 12,975 vehicles, while F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid added an additional 17,039 vehicles to the total. Escape Hybrid and Escape Plug-in Hybrid sales totaled 15,642 – up 45.9 percent over last year. Ford’s Mach-E grew its sales 26.7 percent compared to May.
The use of robotics in vehicle manufacturing will continue to grow at a fast enough pace to speed up production — and to remove quite a lot of jobs. Of course, job loss is nothing new in auto manufacturing where downsizing plants and moving some of them overseas has been taking place since the 1980s.
For the auto industry, it all started with General Motors testing out prototype spot welding robots in 1961. By the 1980s, billions of dollars were being spent by automakers worldwide to automate fundamental tasks in their assembly plants. Automation system deployment did decline in the 1990s, but innovative technology did help it to rebound in the next decade.
Today, it’s a common part of factories, and it’s starting to become another revenue source for automakers through providing robotic services to other companies. These companies are selling the advantages of protecting workers from injuries and making factories more efficient and streamlined by bringing in the best of robotics. There’s also the point about making the job less repetitive and boring for workers, which could also help improve retention.
At TC Sessions: Mobility 2021 earlier this month, three auto executives spoke to the issues. Max Bajracharya of Toyota Research Institute, Mario Santillo of Ford, and Ernestine Fu of Hyundai described how their companies are now viewing the technology. It’s not about the auto industry, as much it its for these companies to make names for themselves — and clientele — in the robotics sector.
“I think all automakers are recognizing that there won’t be the automotive business in the future as it is today,” Bajracharya said. “ A lot of automakers, Toyota included, are looking for what’s next. Automakers are very well positioned to leverage what they already know about robotics and manufacturing to take on the robotics market.”
Yet on the factory job front, there still are expectations for machines replacing humans. A 2019 report from Oxford Economics estimates that about 8.5 percent of the global manufacturing workforce stands to be replaced by robots, with about 14 million manufacturing jobs lost in China alone out of the 20 million projected to be displaced by 2030. Over the next decade, the US may lose more than 1.5 million jobs to automation. The number of robots currently in the global workforce, 2.25 million, has multiplied threefold over the past 20 years, doubling since 2010. Of course, these statistics go far beyond automakers with manufacturing including computers, consumer electronics, clothing, parts and components, packaged food, and other segments.
Four companies dominate the general industrial robotics market: Fanuc, Yaskawa, Kuka, and ABB. Automakers sometimes work with more than one of them, and other partners in automation.
There’s a correlation being made by automakers between robotics and EVs — through building and converting more factories into electric vehicle production and robotics playing an integral role. The connection seems to be more about electric autonomous vehicles and mobility. Robotic manufacturing might be included in the campaign they’re describing, at least for a few automakers.
Here’s a look at where all that’s going, starting with the big question: Will robotics take a leap forward, transforming vehicle manufacturing plants and upending the workforce?
BMW: The German automaker is betting on selling autonomous mobile robotics (AMRS) to the logistics sector. That will be through its Industry-Driven Engineering for Autonomous Logistics unit, which abbreviates to IDEAL and has the formal name of IDEALworks (IW). BMW Group started this unit in late 2020. The company has been partnering with Nvidia to develop mobile robots for internal use in their factories, primarily around automated material handling at the last mile, for a number of years. IW builds on this internal development and expands the scope to include autonomous robots in the logistics sector, and that could expand to couriers, 3PLs (third-party logistics), retailer stores, and online retailers.
The robot deployed is referred to as the small transport robot (STR) and is equipped with a Lips 3D camera and Sick sensors for safety. All robots rely on the Nvidia AGX hardware and makes significant use of NVIDIA’s SDK. BMW hopes to relieve employees from mundane and repetitive tasks so they can do better in their core competencies.
A year ago, the company confirmed it will cut about 6,000 jobs in Germany in an effort to cut costs as the automotive sector continues to struggle to recover from the Covid-19 outbreak. The German automaker and its works council agreed the workforce reduction will be achieved via a mixture of redundancies, early retirements, and not renewing temporary contracts, along with not filling new vacancies. It’s the first time since the financial crisis of 2008 that the company has had to cut staff. The company also tied the cuts to expanding focus on electric mobility and autonomous driving while boosting corporate efficiency.
BYD: On March 2, Beijing Horizon Robotics Technology R&D Co., Ltd. (Horizon Robotics), an AI chip supplier, held a strategic cooperation signing ceremony with BYD Co., Ltd., at BYD’s Shenzhen headquarters. Horizon Robotics, a five-year-old company specializing in AI chips for robots and autonomous vehicles, sees huge potential in automotive partnerships. Horizon’s OEM and Tier 1 auto partners, according to the firm, include Audi, Bosch, Continental, SAIC Motor and BYD. Based on its own deep chip and intelligent technology accumulation, BYD says it will be cooperating with Horizon’s leading artificial intelligence chips and algorithms. It gives BYD a leverage point for adding AI, robotics, and automated vehicles, into its catalogue tied to electric vehicles and advanced batteries.
FCA: Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s robot unit Comau was spun off before the merger with PSA, for the benefit of all shareholders of the combined company. The Jan 19, 2021, $52 billion merger between FCA and PSA Group created Stellantis, now the fourth-largest automaker in the world. Comau is an Italian industrial automation company specializing in processes and automated systems that improve corporate manufacturing production through four core offerings: Controls; Teach Pendant with its ergonomic human robot interface; Auxiliary Equipment enabling equipment for increased functionality; and Software, offering digital tools to enhance processes.
Comau considers itself to be a leading company in the industrial automation field on the global playing field. The full portfolio includes: joining, assembly and machining solutions for traditional and electric vehicles, robotized manufacturing systems, a complete family of robots (including collaborative and wearable robotics) with extensive range and payload configurations, autonomous logistics, and asset optimization services with real-time monitoring and control capabilities. Tesla just because one of its clients this year.
Ford: In April, the company announced that at its transmission plant Livonia, Mich., where robots help assemble torque converters now includes a system that uses AI to learn from previous attempts how to make the production process more efficient. Inside a large safety cage, robot arms wheel around grasping circular pieces of metal, each about the diameter of a dinner plate, from a conveyor and slot them together. Ford uses technology from a startup called Symbio Robotics that looks at the past few hundred attempts to determine which approaches and motions appeared to work best. A computer sitting just outside the cage shows Symbio’s technology sensing and controlling the arms. The enhanced automation allows this part of the assembly line to run 15 percent faster, a significant improvement in automotive manufacturing where thin profit margins depend heavily on manufacturing efficiencies, Ford said.
General Motors: General Motors announced late last year that Factory ZERO, Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center, the company’s all-electric vehicle assembly plant, is the first automotive plant in the US to install dedicated 5G fixed mobile network technology. Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband service is operating now at Factory ZERO, with its exponential increases in both bandwidth and speed supporting the ongoing transformation of the plant as it prepares to begin producing EVs in 2021.
It offers considerably faster download speeds and greater bandwidth than 4G networks. Factory ZERO is being completely retooled with a $2.2 billion investment, the largest ever for a GM manufacturing facility. Once fully operational, the plant will create more than 2,200 good-paying U.S. manufacturing jobs, the company said.
General Motors embraced smart manufacturing in 2018 through its Zero Down Time robot program in partnership with Japan’s Fanuc. Dan Grieshaber, GM’s director of global manufacturing integration, recently told Automotive News that the program includes 13,000 robots across GM’s 54 global manufacturing plants. The robots upload their data to Fanuc where the results are measured against GM’s performance expectations.
GM is using the system to troubleshoot maintenance issues and other quirks before they become serious. Another goal: helping prevent fatigue for workers that use repetitive motion. The sensors, actuators and tendons — comparable to the nerves, muscles and tendons in a human hand — increase dexterity for the worker. GM also uses collaborative robots or “cobots” that can operate around the human workforce without a safety cage.
Hyundai: In December, Hyundai Motor Group and SoftBank Group Corp. agreed on a transaction that placed Hyundai at an 80 percent controlling interest in Boston Dynamics in a deal that values the mobile robot firm at $1.1 billion. The deal came as Hyundai Motor Group envisions the transformation of human life by combining world-leading robotics technologies with its mobility expertise.
The two owners hope it will establish a leading presence in the field of robotics, and it will mark another major step for Hyundai toward its strategic transformation into a Smart Mobility Solution Provider. The Korean company said that it has invested substantially in development of future technologies, including autonomous driving technology, connectivity, eco-friendly vehicles, smart factories, advanced materials, artificial intelligence (AI), and robots.
Boston Dynamics produces mobile robots with advanced mobility, dexterity and intelligence, enabling automation in difficult, dangerous, or unstructured environments. The company launched sales of its first commercial robot, Spot, in June of 2020 and has since sold hundreds of robots in a variety of industries, such as power utilities, construction, manufacturing, oil and gas, and mining.
Nissan: As Nissan prepares to build a new generation of electrified, intelligent and connected cars, the company is making a series of investments to upgrade its production technologies and facilities, but the company is emphasizing the benefits that will come to employees more than cutting costs. Nissan’s mission is improving efficiency in terms of preventing mistakes, maintaining quality, ensuring that workers are freed from monotonous tasks, and reducing strain and fatigue from work.
One way to make improvements will be choosing when to automate. Certain assembly line processes are best suited for robots, particularly if they’re simple and repetitive yet relatively strenuous for humans. Another area of focus will be on industrial robots that work on things like welding and assembly are ordinarily kept in cages for safety reasons, due to their size, strength and speed of movement. Cobots (collaborative robots) seem to the answer here, for manufacturing processes where people and machines need to work closely together. Cobots offer robotic arms with limited strength and speed of movement. In addition to being extremely nimble, they can be easily reprogrammed to learn new tasks, Nissan said.
Tesla: Tesla and Stellantis-owned Comau are setting up a new series of automation equipment for manufacturing at Tesla’s Fremont Factory in Northern California. According to permits submitted by Tesla to the City of Fremont, Tesla will begin to anchor and install Comau’s products that entail highly automated and effective manufacturing techniques that are designed for electric vehicles.
Before Tesla started building its Model 3 compact sedan in 2017, CEO Elon Musk laid out a vision for its Fremont, Calif., assembly plant to become the factory of the future. But Musk had to learn similar lessons that what General Motors tried in the 1980s. GM saw its efforts backfire, as robots sprayed paint on each other and welding machines damaged vehicle bodies. Tesla’s efforts met a similar fate, as Model 3 production got off to a much slower start than the company had predicted. The delays were severe, and Musk later admitted he was wrong for trying to lean so heavily on automation. But the challenges persist, according to current and former Tesla employees. Mechanical problems are continuing at the Fremont plant, but this time are not cutting off production targets.
Toyota: Toyota has been developing industrial robots since the 1970s and has been bringing them into their manufacturing systems to improve quality and reduce costs. Robots are primarily used in their welding, painting, and assembly processes. In recent years, everything has been shifted over to Toyota Research Institute (TRI). Most recently, TRI has been refining its technology and service to be applied to the home. As societies age, there will be huge demand for increased caregiving, systems that enable us to live independently longer, and assistance for an increasingly aging workforce, the company said. Robots and automation can play a key role in freeing up people to spend more time with family, assisting people with tasks they enjoy, or helping them perform work for their jobs.
It will be drastically different than the machines Toyota has set up to make its factories more efficient. Here’s where machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) methodology come to play. To address the diversity a robot faces in a home environment, TRI teaches the robot to perform arbitrary tasks with a variety of objects, rather than program the robot to perform specific predefined tasks with specific objects. In this way, the robot learns to link what it sees with the actions it is taught. When the robot sees a specific object or scenario again, even if the scene has changed slightly, it knows what actions it can take with respect to what it sees.
Volkswagen: Speaking of the aging global population, Volkswagen plans to use robots to cope with a shortage of new workers caused by retiring baby boomers. According to the company, the move to a more automated production line would ensure car manufacturing remains competitive in high-cost Germany. Similarly to other manufacturing outlets, VW predicts many of its workers will retire between now and 2030. Plus, a lack of skilled employees joining the business is forcing the company to look for alternative solutions.
The German automaker is also moving forward on automation at its electric vehicle plants. VW Passenger Cars and VW Commercial Vehicles divisions have ordered more than 2,200 new robots for the planned production of EVs at the German plants and the US plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. The company ordered more than 1,400 robots from the Japanese manufacturer Fanuc for their production facilities in Chattanooga, and from Emden in Germany. Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is purchasing 800 or more robots from the Swiss manufacturer ABB for the carmaker’s Hanover, Germany, plant. The robots will be primarily used in body construction and battery assembly.
Volkswagen had been doing a lot of business with Kuka, bringing in thousands of robots to its plants all over the world. There’s been speculation that since Kuka was taken over by the Chinese technology group Midea in spring 2016, Volkswagen has been trying to become more independent of the robot specialist based in Germany. But the company has rekindled its relationship, including giving part of the production duties over to Kuka for its ID Buzz electric vehicle.
And in other news………. Supercharger network opening up: Tesla will be breaking one of its golden rules: don’t let anybody beyond Tesla owners use its charging network. The company has told Norwegian officials that it plans to open the Supercharger network to other automakers by September 2022. A decade after deploying the first Supercharger, Tesla now has over 25,000 Superchargers at over 2,700 stations around the world. But opening it up has been in the works. Last year, CEO Elon Musk said that Superchargers are now being used “low-key” by other automakers.
A German official recently announced that they have been in talks with Tesla to open up the network to other automakers. In Norway, Tesla wants incentives from the government to open up its Supercharger network. Government officials confirmed that Tesla told them that it plans to open the Supercharger network to other automakers by Sept. 2022, and they will approve the incentives as long as Tesla goest through with the initiative.
It would be viable for Tesla to open its chargers throughout Europe, where its Supercharger network uses the CCS connector, which is standard in the region. However in North America, Tesla would have to offer an adapter since it uses a proprietary plug on its vehicles and charging stations in that market.
Ford and Argo report on AV improvements: Fordjust released more details on its self-driving vehicle development, the first time since its 2018 safety report to the US Dept. of Transportation. In addition to working with Argo AI to advance the development of a robust Automated Driving System to guide Ford vehicles on roads, the automaker continued to research and develop an improved customer experience, fleet management capabilities, behind-the-scenes transportation-as-a-service software, and more.
In addition to Miami, Ford plans to launch its self-driving service in Washington, D.C., and Austin, Texas. In all three of these cities, Ford established robust testing and business operations, including terminals and command centers to manage these fleet of vehicles as they transport people or deliver goods. Ford’s newest self-driving test vehicles are built on the Escape Hybrid platform, taking advantage of increased electrification capabilities and featuring the latest in sensing and computing technology. The Escape will be utilized to initially launch the service with.
Alongside testing in Miami, Austin and Washington, D.C., Argo AI continues to test the Automated Driving System in Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Palo Alto, Calif. These projects have helped the company integrate self-driving test vehicles directly into its business pilots, offering real-world insights into what is required to run an efficient self-driving business.
Ford hopes to be a part of city transportation systems and provide a service that helps make people’s lives better. An example is the collaboration in Miami that created a Ford-designed smart infrastructure. Ford worked closely at the city, county, and state level to begin researching complex intersections. The data will help Ford and transportation officials better understand how autonomous vehicles can better navigate through busy or tricky intersections.
Argo continues to make significant advances toward enabling commercialization — including the recently announced Argo Lidar sensor with sensing range capability of 400 meters. This new technology enables Ford and Argo to test vehicles on highways and help connect vehicles to warehouses and suburban areas, expanding potential service areas for ride-hailing and goods deliveries.
With the onslaught of Covid-19 last year, concern over climate change and air pollution was set aside. The Trump administration had already pulled the US out of the Paris climate accord, and there was no support for clean vehicle incentives and renewable energy.
What’s the latest on incentives and public education drives? Two vehicle manufacturers have been bumped from federal tax incentives after crossing the cap placed per automaker, but all the other automakers have access to it (and one more is approaching the cap.) This year, clean vehicles and energy are coming back. While it seems like cryptocurrency has become the hot topic, there’s been a lot of movement on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, demand for renewable energy, and serious moves by automakers to get back on track. Perhaps losing 15 months has inspired many stakeholders to revive their commitment to hitting targets set in recent years.
But the federal legislature is considering more incentives that could go even higher than the $7,500 tax incentive. There’s also a move being made for medium- and heavy-duty EVs that being considered in Washington.
Don’t forget that EV sales get a lot of support at several states across the country. It does require a bit of study and analysis to tap into.
As for public education campaigns, Plug In America has made a big difference here, including starting to break through the wall between dealers and consumers. A new study by an EV advocacy group brings even more hope for the retail and fleet markets.
Edmunds looks at federal tax credits Federal tax incentives are still in place, but they will run out in their current state. The current federal tax incentives are applied to each manufacturer and continue until the automaker sells 200,000 qualified vehicles, with most going up to $7,500 tax credits for plug-in electric vehicles. Tesla hit the milestone first in July 2018. As a result, there are no federal tax credits for Tesla now.
In the last quarter of 2018, GM became the second carmaker to sell 200,000 qualified plug-in vehicles, Edmunds reported. Nissan is next in line for a credit phaseout, but Edmunds analysts think it could go into 2022 before the sales benchmark is hit. All other makers are trailing far behind in plug-in vehicles.
The incentive is based on the electric vehicle’s battery size. For example, the Toyota Prius Prime only qualifies for a $4,502 tax credit.
New incentives being considered in Washington The federal tax incentives for EVs might be replaced with new legislation in Washington. A new bill called “Clean Energy for America” that passed the U.S. Senate Finance Committee this week would raise that to $12,500.
The legislation would keep the $7,500 level in place but would then add $2500 if the EV was assembled in the U.S., and another $2500 if it was made at plants represented by a labor union. The bill also sets a maximum MSRP for qualifying EVs at $80,000. The current EV tax credit has no price limits.
The bill now moves to the full U.S. Senate for consideration and approval.
Fleets operating medium- and heavy-duty vehicles are asking for more incentive from the federal government. CALSTART’s zero-emission transportation coalition is tapping into the Biden Administration’s FY22 Budget Request proposal for an upfront cash payment option in a zero-emission tax credit.
A broad coalition of 60 organizations called for congressional action on the option in a letter. Partners who co-signed include leaders in truck manufacturing, technology partners, and charging and fueling infrastructure companies. Tailoring a tax incentive amount to offset a large portion of the incremental cost with the option to monetize the credit, as the FY22 Budget proposal does, will help aggressively knock down this barrier to deployment, CALSTART said.
What Fisker thinks about it Henrik Fisker, CEO, Fisker Inc., has asked the federal government to consider his plan, called “75 and more for 55 and less.” It would be a point-of-sale rebate of $7,500 plus $10 per mile of certified driving range for battery electric vehicles (BEVs) priced at $55,000 and less.
With a $7,500 rebate plus the range incentive, access to battery electric vehicles become more widespread by becoming a reduced transaction price, especially when received at the time of sale, and not as a delayed tax credit, he said.
“That driver of demand is magnified when applied to vehicles with a sticker price of less than $55,000. According to Cox Automotive, the average selling price of a new vehicle in the United States is $41,000, and over 80% are transacting under $55,000,” Fisker wrote.
The base price of the 2022 Fisker Ocean will be $37,499. Many buyers will qualify for the $7,500 federal EV tax credit, bringing the price down to less than $30,000.
State incentives available around the country Forty-five states and the District of Columbia provide an incentive for certain EVs and/or PHEVs, either through a specific utility operating in the state or through state legislation.
Several states have a dozen or more programs; some of them are designed for fleet and transport operators using medium- and heavy- duty vehicles. Many of the incentives are geared only to businesses and not individual personal vehicle owners. Some credits come in the form of exemptions from fees and inspections. Others are non-monetary incentives such as carpool lane access and free parking.
California offers plug-in hybrid (PHEVs) and zero emission light-duty vehicle (ZEV) rebates through its Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP). It offers rebates for the purchase or lease of qualified vehicles. Qualified vehicles are those light-duty ZEVs and PHEVs that the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has approved or certified. Under the program, CARB offers rebates of up to $4,500 for fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), $2,000 for BEVs, $1,000 for PHEVs, and $750 for zero-emission motorcycles.
California’s Hybrid and Zero Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP) and Low NOx Engine Incentives, CARB provides vouchers to eligible fleets to reduce the cost to purchase qualified electric and hybrid trucks and buses at the time of purchase. Vouchers are available on a first-come, first-served basis and range from $2,000 to $315,000 depending on vehicle weight and type. Only fleets that operate vehicles in California are eligible. Voucher amounts vary depending on whether the vehicles are located in a disadvantaged community.
PlugStar Program bridges the EV sales gap Plug In America’s PlugStar Program has really taken off and is bridging a wide gap between dealers and advocates of EVs, including automakers ramping up production of these vehicles and needing a proactive dealer network to sell them through. The non-profit EV advocacy group began its PlugStar EV dealer training and certification program in 2018. Since then, thousands of dealer sales staff and hundreds of dealerships across the country have been trained in the program.
–PlugStar trained sales staff sell four times more EVs than their untrained counterparts. –PlugStar certified dealers sell 20 percent more BEVs than non-PlugStar dealers. –PlugStar dealers are two times more likely to get 5-star customer ratings than non-PlugStar dealers.
The study also explored the major batteries that exist in getting through to EV shoppers and given them the service level they need — bridging what’s called the “EV Sales Gap.” Barriers in getting through to consumers include: consumer awareness of the varying aspects and benefits of EV ownership, including EV fueling and incentives.
Barriers for making it work with franchised auto dealers include finding ongoing support in a rapidly changing EV ecosystem, confidence in selling a new technology, and alignment of automotive dealership incentives for selling EVs.
And in other news………. ID.4 AWD details come out: The new Volkswagen ID.4 AWD electric SUV revealed on June 17 will offer Americans yet another reason to embrace sustainable driving. With two electric motors, max 295 horsepower and an estimated 0-60 mph time of 5.7 seconds for the AWD Pro model, the ID.4 AWD offers performance and all-weather traction at a starting MSRP that no other all-wheel-drive electric vehicle for sale in the U.S. can beat. It’s MSRP is $43,675 and has an estimated range of 298 miles on the European WLTP test cycle.
“We’re committed to making EVs the default choice for Americans,” said Scott Keogh, President and Chief Executive Officer of Volkswagen of America. “The all-wheel-drive ID.4 merges the utility and zero-emissions driving delivered by the rear-wheel-drive vehicle with the performance from our sporty vehicles.”
Ford brings in charging management partners: Ford announced June 17 it is acquiring Electriphi, a California-based provider of charging management and fleet monitoring software for electric vehicles. This puts Ford in a solid position to resolve a hurdle for fleets attempting to adopt electrification — managing charging for efficiency. Electriphi’s team and services will be integrated into Ford Pro – a new global business within Ford committed to commercial customer productivity and to developing the most advanced charging and energy management experiences. “As commercial customers add electric vehicles to their fleets, they want depot charging options to make sure they’re powered up and ready to go to work every day,” said Ford Pro CEO Ted Cannis. “With Electriphi’s existing advanced technology IP in the Ford Pro electric vehicles and services portfolio, we will enhance the experience for commercial customers and be a single-source solution for fleet-depot charging.”
Mercedes partnering for US charging expansion: Mercedes-Benz USA, together with its charging partners, is committed to raising the bar on EV charging with Mercedes me Charge – the official charging ecosystem of the EQS and other future electric mobility products. Mercedes me Charge offers important innovations and convenient charge management services for the groundbreaking new all-electric EQS Luxury Sedan including a partnership with ChargePoint that simplifies the process of finding, using and paying for charging sessions on all major networks in North America. Through the Electrify America program, Mercedes me Charge enables complimentary 30-minute charging per session for the first two years from account activation and allows customers to simply “Plug & Charge” at all Electrify America DC fast chargers.