10 reasons electric automated shared rides will take off in a decade or two

As explored in Green Auto Market during fall 2019, the transformation of cars and fuels will likely take much longer than 2030. That being said, it looks quite likely that over the next 10-to-20 years, we’ll be seeing a growing part of ground transportation moving toward the forecasted transition. So, here’s a look at why we’re going to be willing to take an electric automated shared ride 10 years from now.

1. Traffic congestion will be getting worse.
A Texas A&M Transportation Institute study from last year expects that traffic congestion across the country will increase by roughly 20 percent in 2025. Five cities will see the worst of it: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, DC, New York City, and Boston. For now, we’re looking for alternative routes and better times to drive somewhere (such as leaving extremely early for an important appointment). New vehicle sales are expected to continue to increase in the developed (and developing) world over the next decade, and these vehicles are made to last longer than in the past — perhaps 12 to 15 years before being taken off roads. Another trend having an impact will be young people moving to cities around the world, and needing some form of transportation. Uber rides, and competitors in mobility, will be part of it; along with personal and fleet vehicles, and commercial trucks and buses. Another key indicator of urban growth: trillions of dollars are being secured to fund development of sporting and entertainment centers; university R&D zones; office buildings; residential properties for both young urban dwellers and senior living communities; and new and revitalized retail shopping districts. This means more and more commercial vehicles will be showing up in metro areas along with more passenger vehicles for personal mobility.

2. Car crashes and road repair will have an exponential effect.
More people moving into major metro areas means more car crashes. The fatality rate per capita has been declining in the US for several years, but we’re going to see a lot more vehicles on highways and city streets. Anyone doing a good deal of driving in major metros these days knows the debilitating effect a car crash can have on traffic; and that also applies to maintenance crews blocking off a lane or two for road construction or repair. Highway construction projects plus car crashes, major or minor, means a lot more headaches for drivers. For drivers planning their day with a tight schedule to get from Point A to Point B by a set time, there’s nothing worse than suddenly seeing warning lights up ahead and long lines of stopped traffic.

3. The magic GPS mapping system will not be invented.
Realtime traffic data is getting better all the time, but it has a very long way to go as cities expand exponentially. Products like StreetLight Data, Garmin, Waze, Google Maps, and Apple Maps, are getting better all the time. But there are too many cars out there, and traffic will become more congested every year. Throw in car crashes, road and lane closures, bad weather, crowded events, and other occurrences, realtime traffic data won’t be fast enough to help divert traffic jams with more and more vehicles coming to roads. And what if there aren’t any viable alternate routes, as if all the traffic is being blocked off? Bad news for those who hate being stuck in traffic.

4. You can expect more tickets and expensive parking.
It’s much easier to get a parking ticket these days, and the cost of parking in a garage or outdoor lot is going up. When you do go to park you car, especially in a residential neighborhood, take a careful look at the posted signs. City planners are trying to keep their curbsides and streets from being taken over by drivers needing to park their cars somewhere. Residents and business owners complain about the stress and inconveniences of parking becoming a rare, valuable commodity, and want to see their city enforce parking codes. Some people wonder if cities are also bringing in additional revenue by putting parking meters and red zones all over town. Drivers usually have to pay for parking to go anywhere, and the hourly rates are going up. You can always download parking apps to find available parking spots, hopefully at a reduced rate. But if the parking spaces are gone, they’re gone.

5. Gasoline and diesel will eventually go up and stay high in pricing.
Consumers and fleets have been spoiled since 2014 when gasoline and diesel prices dropped and stayed relatively low over the years in the US. But it will eventually become more expensive to pump deeper for oil as the supply dries up. Fuel consumers will also have more options to choose from. Global oil demand will hit a plateau around 2030 after seeing an increase of 1 percent globally over the next decade, the International Energy Agency predicts. More energy efficient cars and electric vehicle growth will offset demand, the study said. The cost of electric cars and other clean vehicle options (hydrogen fuel cell, natural gas, propane autogas, hybrids, renewable fuels, and maybe even fuels that are yet to become viable today), will come down in cost and will become more accessible in fueling infrastructures.

6. Desperation over climate change.
Climate scientists have been putting out dark and dreary reports in the past couple of years on the global environmental crisis and expectations for the next few years. Climate change is gradually morphing into climate catastrophe. While the predictions are bleak, I still find many people out there who want to do something about it — drive a clean vehicle, get solar power on their roof, become more energy efficient, recycle all they can, and analyze where they’re going to spend their money, who to vote for, and where to share their opinions on climate change and social responsibility.

7. Car buffs are not looking forward to the future.
For folks who love part of the American dream, its depressing to think of the near future taking away their choices as a car owner. What if your dream car is a 1968 Pontiac GTO or a Dodge Charger from that model year? A 1958 two-tone Cadillac Eldorado? And what happens to your giant, loud Harley Davidson motorbike? Will they be able to give up their gas-guzzling performance cars and bikes to go to work in a quiet, boring electric autonomous shuttle? They’ll have to grieve and move on, but some of them won’t be able to give up their dream cars — and may once again lobby the Environmental Protection Agency to allow a loophole for a few classic cars.

8. The idea is appealing for people who don’t want to feel chained to their steering wheels.
If you ask around, and review a few studies, surveys, and feature articles, you’ll find that there are many consumers who look forward to not feeling enslaved by having to drive their cars. They look forward to avoid feeling knotted up in tension from getting stuck in traffic once again, being late for work, or burned out and exhausted when they finally make it home. It’s discouraging to wait and wait for traffic to lighten up, and then find out you only get to go another three feet forward and then stop again for what can feel like eternity. Many of us look forward to doing something else during that downtime instead of being chained to the steering wheel. It would be much more interesting to engage in conversations with fellow ride-sharers, or to friends by way of phone. What about reading that great book — or writing that book you’ve been thinking about for years? There’s plenty more to do such as responding to emails, watching a movie or TV series, getting more skilled at playing video games, online dating messaging, listening to good music, catching up on social media, and much more. Sound good? It does to me.

9. Saving money on transportation.
When you include the cost of auto financing, insurance, maintenance and repairs, tire replacement, and gasoline, you are looking at spending around $750 per month, or $9,000 per year, on average, for car ownership in the US. What if you lived fairly close to work and didn’t want to own a car anymore? You could ride the bus, take a few Uber or Lyft rides, ride your bike, rent a car or pay for a few hours of car-sharing, and put in a lot of miles walking. What would that cost you? You could probably whittle that down to around $250 per month. That would save you about $500 per month.

10. Competition will rise and choices will be plentiful.
What will it look like to see companies such as General Motors, Ford, Tesla, Waymo, Uber, Lyft, Apple, Daimler, BMW, Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, and China’s Baidu, launching advanced mobility services? Alphabet’s Waymo division took the first step in December 2018 by starting the Waymo One autonomous ride service in Phoenix’s suburb of Chandler. Members of its early rider program (that will go out to the general public eventually) have access to an autonomous ride-hailing service. There are many other test projects underway in North America, Asia, and Europe. These companies are hoping to build significant profit channels and to play leading roles in the future of mobility; with the expectation that car sales will be declining over the years. For now, it’s a wait and see on which companies will line up all the requirements to achieve government-approved, safe, efficient, and durable shared rides.

And in other news………

Formula E:  Jaguar driver Mitch Evans surprised racer Andre Lotterer who looked to be giving Porsche the top spot Sunday at Mexico’s E-Prix. Evans took the trophy for the fourth Formula E electric car race this season, surviving a turbulent race in Mexico that meant 14 drivers crashed and couldn’t finish the race. One of them was Mercedes’ Stoffel Vandoorne, hitting the wall at the exit of Turn 3. Vandoome finished fourth in the championship, the first time he failed to score first place this season.

Kenworth electric truck:  Kenworth will collaborate with vehicle component supplier Meritor on electric powertrain development for Class 8 Kenworth T680E battery-electric vehicles. The electric Kenworth T680E will be a short-hood day cab in tractor configurations of 4×2 and 6×4 axles and as a 6×4 axle straight truck. The T680E will offer an operating range between 100 to 150 miles, depending on application.

Hydrogen trucks:  Hyundai Motor Corp. is entering the hydrogen truck market. The South Korean automaker is partnering with Yeosu Gwangyang Port Corp. to commercialize hydrogen fuel-cell trucks in their country — a move with a broader market potential as Hyundai plans to introduce two hydrogen trucks for logistics transportation by 2023, and then add 10 more. Hyundai is preparing to compete with Nikola, Toyota, and Tesla’s Cybertruck and Semi on the truck side and support its offerings in the fuel cell car segment.

German Gigafactory:  Tesla has been ordered to temporarily halt preparations for a car and battery factory in Berlin after environmentalists won a court injunction on Sunday. The company had been clearing forest land near Germany’s capital city, ahead of building its first European car and battery plant.

The facts about propane school buses, Hyundai and Energy Dept. working together on hydrogen and fuel cells

Editor’s note: Here’s a detailed look at how propane autogas is making headway in clean transportation programs that school districts around the country are deploying. Funding is available, and it’s important to know the selling points of the clean fuel being integrated into the fleet. Many thanks to Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) for contributing. 

School districts and school bus contractors across the nation are moving toward cleaner fuels, in part because of the availability of Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust funds allocated by their state. They have many options to replace older, dirtier diesel school buses with modern counterparts, as Green Auto Market’s Feb. 3 post correctly points out.

The challenge is reducing nitrogen oxides, which is one of the nation’s biggest air quality problems. The federal government regulates nitrogen oxide emissions due to their harmful impact on both the environment and human health.

Propane autogas is one of the most sought-after options to reduce nitrogen oxides. According to a recent study by West Virginia University’s Center of Alternative Fuels, Engines, and Emissions, NOX emissions are 34 times higher in a diesel school bus than in a propane bus, over a stop-and-go route. Propane buses cut particulate matter to virtually zero and nitrogen oxides by 96 percent.

Right now, more than 19,700 propane school buses transport about 1.2 million kids to school across the nation each day. Almost 1,000 school districts have discovered this advanced clean fuel system technology. Propane buses can be found in major urban areas like Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit and Atlanta, along with smaller districts, such as Neosho, Mo. and Chenango Forks, N.Y.

Compare that to 2,500 CNG school buses and 200 electric school buses across the nation.

Here’s another benefit: economics. Propane autogas is naturally much cleaner than diesel in composition and combustion, which translates to substantially lower maintenance costs. Plus, propane fuel costs about 50 percent less than diesel. According to ANL AFLEET Tool data, in a dollar-for-dollar comparison of Type C school buses, propane buses reduce nitrogen oxide emissions more than any other type of fuel.

Those transportation department savings can go back into classrooms. The World LP Gas Association’s 2018 report, “The Role of LPG in Shaping The Energy Transition,” states that if all the nation’s diesel school buses were converted to propane, U.S. school districts could hire 23,000 additional teachers with the fuel and maintenance savings.

When it comes to fueling, there are already thousands of public propane stations across the country. For districts that want onsite infrastructure, propane providers will install a station for little or often zero cost with a fuel contract. And with a range of up to 400 miles on a single refill, propane buses provide the distance that school systems need to get through daily routes and after school events.

But the most important takeaway must be the health and safety of our children, and that means reducing nitrogen oxides.

“The biggest thing we have noticed is that the clean operation of the propane buses has reduced the emissions in our garage and around our schools,” said Barry Bryan, director of transportation for the Bradford Area School District in Bradford, Pennsylvania. “There is far less crude build-up on our computer screens inside of our maintenance bays, which is obviously a plus for our lungs.”

Propane is unique in that its upfront and maintenance costs, range, ease of use and, most importantly, ultra-low emissions are all in the same package. With propane, districts get all the cost and emission-reducing benefits without the sticker shock of electric school buses or the complexity and dirtiness of diesel.

Tucker Perkins is the president and CEO of the Propane Education & Research Council based in Washington, D.C.

And in other news…………

  • Hyundai Motor Company on Monday announced the expansion of its partnership with the US Department of Energy (DOE) and its support of the DOE Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program. The automaker says that its commitment aims to increase technical collaboration to better understand challenges and to collect and publish independently validated data from demonstrating fuel cell technologies and hydrogen infrastructure under real world operating conditions. Hyundai will provide the energy department with five Nexo fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) for use in various regions of the country including Washington, DC, to help advance research and development of fuel cell technologies. Data from the vehicles and infrastructure will be collected, analyzed and published to identify additional research needs in key areas.
  • The National Transportation Safety Board released findings on its investigation into fatal crashes that involved Tesla’s Autopilot driver-assistance system. NTSB disclosed yesterday that in March 2018, Walter Huang, a 38-year-old Apple software engineer, was driving his Tesla Model X in Mountain View, Calif., in Autopilot mode at about 70 mph when it crashed into a safety barrier.  Huang had reported that on prior trips, the car had steered away from the highway, according to the documents made public.
  • Waste Management CEO Jim Fish indicated his company will continue to bet big on converting its fleet from diesel to compressed natural gas (CNG) in comments at the company’s annual Phoenix sustainability forum. “By the end of the year, almost 70% of our trucks on the road will run on CNG, and by the end of next year it will be almost 75%,” he said at the Jan. 30 event.
  • Amazon and Instacart are leading the path toward grocery shopping and delivery. But don’t forget about competitors including parent company Albertson’s Vons and Pavilions grocery delivery services. Vons has been in this business since the 2000s, and you can still see its dedicated delivery vans bringing groceries to customers. Pavilions is promoting its Unlimited Delivery Club with a few incentives like $20 off your groceries and free delivery on you first order if you spend $75 or more. Albertsons is working with Instacart, and are other majors like Kroger and Costco. But they’re all trying out their own services. The Pavilions promo clarifies it: “Not valid on orders fulfilled by Instacart.”
  • Homeless population:  Ever hear of the homeless opera singer sharing her aria with the general public on a subway platform in Los Angeles? That was Emily Zamourka, who had several viewers of the video reach out to her for housing and support last fall. Zamourka is part of a growing population in California, and other parts of the country, of people living in abandoned building, tents, and other places you wouldn’t want to spend the night in. Here’s my take on why the growing homeless community has become a major concern for cities to face; and for those of us living here in homes wondering what all of it will mean.

Fact guide on a major clean transportation growth sector: Green Buses

Buses used by transit agencies and school districts have become one of the most significant growth sectors for clean transportation in the US and worldwide, with electric buses gaining much of that attention over the past year. However, it is useful to get a big picture overview of where green buses are today — and that includes buses powered by natural gas, hybrid systems, biodiesel, battery electric, propane, and hydrogen.

Chinese maker BYD is perceived as the dominant force in electric bus development and sales — but it’s not the largest e-bus maker in China or the world. Plus, there are a number of domestic and global busmakers that are making big moves in this space.

Natural gas and diesel hybrid buses were the first to be added to several transit fleets in US cities between 2005 and 2010, with biodiesel, battery electric, hydrogen, and propane following. A chart in American Public Transportation Association’s 2019 report tells a lot more of this story, and how diesel has been declining in recent years…………..

Source: 2019 Public Transportation Fact Book, American Public Transportation Association

According to the American Public Transit Association (APTA), alternative fuels and advanced hybrid drivetrains powered more than half of all transit buses in 2017 and 2018. Between 2008 to 2018, the share of conventional diesel buses dropped from 70 percent to 42 percent.

Natural Gas:
The fuel became the first alternative replacing diesel to be tried by several transit agencies, with incentives coming from several states to convert existing buses over to compressed natural gas powertrain systems and to construct refueling infrastructures at existing onsite gas stations. NGVAmerica reported that transit agencies have about 11,000 natural-gas powered buses in operation. It makes up about 35 percent of new transit bus orders these days. US school districts have also taken the fuel very seriously, with more than 150 of them operating about 5,500 natural gas powered vehicles in their fleets to move students.

Seven vehicle manufacturers have offerings in heavy-duty CNG-powered buses for the US market — Thomas Built Bus, Optima/NABI, New Flyer, Motor Coach Ind., Gillig, El Dorado, and Blue Bird Bus. Selling points include saving millions in fuel cost, reducing emissions (especially when renewable natural gas can be utilized), and running quieter buses than what comes from diesel engines. Bus fleets around the world have been able to make the case for bringing in CNG-powered vehicles in recent years. New Delhi is operating the largest fleet — about 5,500 CNG-powered buses through Delhi Transport Corp. and the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal System (DIMTS).

Hybrid Buses:
Metro bus operators are using hybrid diesel-electric buses manufactured by Azure Dynamics Corp., Ebus, New Flyer, Gillig, Motor Coach Industries, Orion Bus Industries, North American Bus Industries, Mitsubishi Fuso, Volvo Buses, and many more. Many bus makers are partnering with three major hybrid system manufacturers — GM-Allison Transmission, BAE Systems, and ISE Corporation. Most of the hybrid buses end up in the US, Canada, China, UK, Norway, and Germany.

Biodiesel:
Using B20 and lower biodiesel blends has been a way for hundreds of US school districts and universities to reduce the health risks for staying with diesel fuel. It blends biodiesel fuel meeting ASTM D 6751 requirements with petroleum-based diesel fuel. School boards back it as it offers of low-cost method to meet air quality concerns on its fleet of diesel buses that require no modifications. It can run on existing engines and fuel injection equipment. The fuel is made from vegetable oils or animal fats with restrictions on what can be used to protect engine life.

Battery Electric:
All-electric metro buses have seen a wave of growth in recent years — including 32 percent in 2018. There are about 430,000 of them in operation today — about 17 percent of the world’s buses. But about 99 percent of them are in China, according to a report last year by Bloomberg’s New Energy Finance. Cities in North America and Europe are bringing them in, and California is requiring all new bus purchases to be zero emission by 2029. Europe has seen an increase from around 200 e-buses to 2,200 over five years.

China’s BYD has been the star of the show, signing contracts for acquisitions all over the world and especially in the US and Latin America. However, another Chinese manufacturer, Yutong, has the lead in the market. Yutong has already sold more than 120,000 battery-electric buses, compared to No. 2 competitor BYD with its 50,000-plus unit mark. (By the way, Yutong is also the world’s largest bus manufacturer.)

BYD continues to sign impressive deals including bringing a 20-bus order to Los Angeles World Airports in December, and passing the 400th e-bus delivery mark from its Lancaster, Calif., assembly plant. That makes up the lion’s share of the estimated 650 electric transit buses in service in the US. However, BYD is nervous about the National Defense Authorization signed recently by President Trump. It takes effect in two years, and would ban mass transit agencies from using federal funds to purchase buses or rail cars from Chinese-owned or Chinese-based companies. But there are other markets, including selling about 1,000 electric buses in Latin America so far, and setting up plants in Canada, France, Hungary, and a new joint venture in the UK. The BYD K9 low-floor bus had been one of the most popular of its models.

In the US, local businesses are taking on e-buses to become BYD-competitive. Thomas Built Buses will delivery 50 of them to Dominion Energy in its partnership with Virginia school districts. The utility and school district want that to go up to 1,000 units by 2030 (though Thomas Built has not been handed over that entire contract).

Proterra is considered to be BYD’s leading competitor in electric buses, with contracts signed transit authorities in New York City, Washington, DC, and Philadelphia; and airports in San Jose, Calif., Raleigh, and Sacramento. Belgian busmaker Van Hool has announced a partnership with Proterra, to provide drive trains and batteries for its new line of electric coaches. Proterra, Inc., operators two plants and also offers electric charging systems and energy storage. Its Catalyst series ranges in sizes from 35 to 40 feet in length with various battery configurations.

Other companies to watch breaking into the North American e-bus market: GreenPower Motor Co. in all-electric transit and the micro-transit market; other markets served include school buses, shuttles, a cargo van, and a double decker. Gillig Electric Bus Co. started last year through bus giant Gillig LLC and engine maker Cummins Inc. Another major player, New Flyer, continues to close impressive deals such as one with King County Metro what will delivery up to 120 of its all-electric Xcelsior Charge buses.

Propane:
Propane leads the way with school buses switching over the clean fuels — more than 15,200 propane-powered school buses are out there now, according to research from the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC). And more of these vehicles have been added to school bus fleets since the report was published. Transit districts are also using propane-powered buses in their fleets. That list includes San Diego Metropolitan Transit System, Delaware Transit Corp., and Michigan’s Flint Mass Transportation Authority.

Bus manufacturer Blue Bird has partnered with Roush CleanTech, bringing in its liquid propane autogas system to models such as the Blue Bird 4th Generation Vision Propane bus and Micro Bird G5. The school bus market has been the main focus. Navistar is entering the market through a partnership with Power Solutions International Inc. and its 8.8-liter propane engine.

Hydrogen Fuel Cell:
Hydrogen is just starting to break into the bus market, primarily in California transit agencies and the Hubei provide in China, which plans to bring in 3,000 fuel cell buses over the next two years. Toyota will be operating more than 100 hydrogen-powered buses during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Fuel cell bus makers in the US include Van Hool, ENC, Ebus, New Flyer, ElDorado, and BYD. Ballard, US Hybrid, UTC Power, and Hydrogenics are major fuel cell suppliers. Daimler, the world’s largest truck maker, plans to commercialize a hydrogen-powered transit bus in the next two to three years.

Overal Bus Market — who could be gaining share in clean fuels at some point
Bus majors to watch include Daimler, Scania, Volvo, China’s King Long, Yutong, Hyundai, Iveco, Tata Motors, and Paccar. In the US, the three largest suppliers of buses in the transit market are Canadian company New Flyer, Gillig, and North American Bus Industries (although New Flyer and NABI merged in 2013, creating the industry’s giant). Ontario-based Orion also supplies some of that market. Major players in Europe include ADL Solaris, VDL, Volvo, Ursis, and Bollore. The green bus market is expected to become even more competitive over the next decade.

Other interesting news………

  • Elon Musk has a new enemy that uses the $TSLAQ hashtag. The group consists of accountants, lawyers, hedge fund managers, and former Tesla employees, who post social media analysis of Tesla executive departures, lawsuits, customer complaints, accidents, and other topics.
  • UPS has placed an order for 10,000 electric delivery vans from UK-based company Arrival. The initial 10,000 vehicles will be rolled out in the UK, Europe, and North America from 2020 to 2024 with the option to purchase a further order of 10,000 vehicles. UPS venture capital arm also announced an investment in Arrival of an undisclosed amount.
  • For those preparing the next disaster: The US Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Defense (DoD) will support an opportunity to address disaster mitigation through the use of an advanced fuel truck technology concept known as H2Rescue. The H2Rescue is a fuel cell/battery hybrid truck that first responders and the military can drive to disaster mitigation sites. It can provide sufficient hydrogen to provide power, heat, and even potable water for up to 72 hours.

Cruise Origin wants to be first electric AV for shared rides, Corporate EV fleet alliance led by Ceres

Cruise Origin pushing the boundaries:  Cruise, General Motor’s self-driving vehicle unit, last week in San Francisco launched the Cruise Origin, a large battery-electric autonomous shuttle van that can carry up to six passengers. All of this without a steering wheel or a brake pedal — but it still needs to be cleared by government officials. GM and Cruise are waiting for an exemption from the Federal Motor Vehicle safety standards that would allow the companies to test vehicles without these manual controls. If that gets approved, GM will be able to deploy up to 2,500 robs-taxis a year through its own Uber-competitive ride-sharing business. The US Dept. of Transportation is taking a hands-off approach to regulation on the national level. Elaine Chao, the US transportation secretary, says that this was going to be left to the companies developing these vehicles to self-regulate.
Corporate EV fleet alliance:  Amazon, AT&T, Clif Bar, Consumers Energy, DHL, Direct Energy, Genentech, IKEA North America, LeasePlan, Lime, and Siemens are leading a campaign for an expanded electric vehicle market and improved policy landscape through the Corporate Electric Vehicle Alliance, led by Ceres, a sustainability nonprofit organization. The alliance is focused on decarbonizing transportation to tackle the climate crisis. The group is promoting the benefits of transitioning over to electrified fleets — cost savings on fuel and maintenance, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, freedom from reliance on volatile oil and gas prices, improved driver safety, enhanced company reputation, and bolstered workforce recruitment and retention. Amazon’s purchase of 100,000 Rivian electric delivery vans, and a commitment to deliver 50% of shipments with net zero carbon by 2030, is part of the “climate pledge” the member companies are taking, according to Amazon.

Top Selling US Electric Vehicles in 2019
1. Tesla Model 3: 300,471
2. Tesla Model S: 157,992
3. Chevrolet Volt: 157,054
4. Nissan Leaf: 141,907
5. Toyota Prius Prime: more than 109,003 (by September 2019)
6. Tesla Model X: 85,077
7. Ford Fusion Energi: more than 66,679 (by September 2019)
8. Chevrolet Bolt EV: 58,313
9. Ford C-Max Energi: 42,231
10. BMW i3: 41,988

The Tesla Model 3 continues to dominate electric vehicle sales in the US, at nearly double the volume sold of the Tesla Model S and the Chevrolet Volt. The Volt went out of production in the spring and will be running out of inventory available for sale soon as new vehicles. The Model S finally overtook the retiring Volt in December. The Toyota Prius Prime and Ford Fusion Energi will later include more sales units recorded for the year, as these numbers only went through the end of September. Through the end of October, the Model 3 was the top selling EV in the world, followed by the BAIC EU-Series, BYD Yuan/S2 EV, Nissan Leaf, and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. Another report shows a steep drop for the Tesla Model 3 in The Netherlands, Norway, and Spain, compared to December; however, details on overall EV and new vehicle sales during that time period were not available in this analysis piece.

GAM readership changes:  Green Auto Market has switched over to Mailchimp, bringing over only a list of readers who’ve opened and read the newsletter recently. For those interested in joining the list, the subscriber link on the right column has been reactivated. And you can follow GAM and its editor on Twitter (both the publication and my page), LinkedIn, and Facebook.

RNG study:  Navigant Research just released a study on the growth boom in renewable natural gas. It includes it within the global biogas market, which is expected to continue to grow with a large and relatively established market in Europe and a rapidly growing market in Asia Pacific. Government incentives are making a big difference. “Transportation mandates such as the US Renewable Fuel Standard and California Low Carbon Fuel Standard have been instrumental in the RNG market,” according to the report.

DOE funding announcements:  The US Department of Energy (DOE) will offer an investment of nearly $300 million in funding for research and development of sustainable transportation resources and technologies through the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). These Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) will be issued on behalf of the three sustainable transportation offices: Vehicles, Fuel Cells, and Bioenergy Technology Offices. EERE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) will provide funding support under two of the FOAs that will catalyze research, development, and adoption of energy-related advanced manufacturing technologies and practices to drive U.S. economic competitiveness and energy productivity. Topic areas within this FOA address priorities in advanced batteries and electrification; advanced engine and fuel technologies, including technologies for off-road applications; lightweight materials; new mobility technologies (energy efficient mobility systems), and alternative fuels technology demonstrations. The DOE’s H2@Scale initiative investment will support innovative hydrogen concepts that will encourage market expansion and increase the scale of hydrogen production, storage, transport, and use, including heavy-duty trucks, data centers, and steel production. In a separate announcement, the DOE said it will provide funding of about $96 million for bioenergy research and development. One project will be focused on reducing the price of drop-in biofuels, lowering the cost of biopower, and enabling high-value products from biomass or waste resources.
LCFS verification:  California Air Resources Board has set up its Low Carbon Fuel Standard verifier accreditation training program. The LCFS relies on accurate data monitoring, reporting, and verification to ensure the highest quality data are used in the program. In 2018, CARB approved amendments to add third-party verification requirements consistent with the verification programs under Mandatory Reporting and California’s Cap-and-Trade Programs, and international best practices. The LCFS verification program provides confidence and reliability in reported data for stakeholders, market participants, and the public. You can research accreditations on the LCFS Verification program webpage.

Volvo plug-in vehicles:  Volvo Cars has started taking orders for its XC40 Recharge P8 AWD, the company’s first all-electric car based on the best-selling SUV, in selected markets. The company said its already received several thousands of pre-orders well ahead of availability of the vehicle. The Swedish automaker has a very big goal to make battery-electric vehicles 50 percent of global sales by 2025, with the rest having hybrid variations. The company sold nearly 46,000 plug-in hybrids last year, a 23 percent increase over 2018. In Q4 2019, plug-in hybrids made up more than 20 percent of all its vehicles sold in Europe.

Hydrogen cost coming way down, New Jersey rolls out EV incentive

What’s been happening lately?
Hydrogen is looking better in costs now for fueling clean vehicles and in a few other areas including industrial feedstock and as an energy storage medium. That comes from a new study by Hydrogen Council and McKinsey & Co., that concludes there are now three core market drivers: a steep drop in production costs, higher load utilization cutting distribution and refueling costs, and additional cost drops from scaling up of end-use equipment manufacturing. The study looked at 25,000 data points gathered and analyzed from 30 global companies with cost reductions expected across several different hydrogen applications. These sectors include long-distance and heavy-duty transportation, industrial heating, heavy industry feedstock, and others, which make up about 15 percent of global energy consumption. Of course, much support is needed and Hydrogen Council is championing effective government policies to be adopted in key geographies, along with investment support of around $70 billion in the lead up to 2030 in order to scale up and produce for a much more cost-competitive fuel. “The Hydrogen Council believes that the report’s findings will not only increase public awareness about the potential of hydrogen to power everyday lives, but also debunk the myth that a hydrogen economy is unattainable due to cost,” said Euisun Chung, executive vice chairman of Hyundai Motor Group and co-chair of the Hydrogen Council. “If we are to reach our global climate goals by mid-century and reap the benefits of hydrogen, now is the time to act.”

New Jersey wants to take on greenhouse gases through a new transportation policy. Gov. Phil Murphy just signed an electric vehicle bill into law that offers a clear roadmap for state houses and governors nationwide to tackle climate change. The new law makes it easier for residents of New Jersey to buy an EV by providing a largest-in-the-nation rebate of up to $5,000. It also creates a statewide high-speed charging network, making driving an EV more convenient. Beyond cars, the law also requires NJ Transit to only purchase electric buses by 2032.

Cruise, General Motors’ self-driving vehicle division, has announced the Cruise Origin, developed with Honda Motor Co. It’s been designed with more space for passengers and to take on mobility competitors. The autonomous taxi will give ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft another rival, Cruise CEO Dan Ammann said Tuesday during the vehicle’s introduction. GM is putting all its AV efforts into the Cruise unit these days, and giving the business space to work with competitors like Honda, which became an investor in October 2018. That’s helped Cruise move more quickly to develop a self-driving electric vehicle platform. GM created the platform that doesn’t require a backup driver or steering wheel. Honda contributed to the engineering and production of the vehicle. GM is waiting for an exemption from the Federal Motor Vehicle safety standards that would allow Cruise to test vehicles without these manual controls. If that gets approved, GM can deploy up to 2,500 robs-taxis a year that can be hailed vis a smartphone app.

And a few other new briefs:

  • President Trump said that Elon Musk is “one of our great geniuses, and we have to protect our genius.” 
  • Tesla Autopilot crashes put in a more realistic overview perspective by a mobility expert.
  • The latest on the AB 5 battle, California’s law requiring gig-economy workers to be treated as employees.

Autonomous a decade away? What about connected smart apps until then?

Last week saw the big CES show in Las Vegas, where autonomous vehicles took over five years ago; the star then was the Audi A7 self-driving prototype. Many attendees this year were very disappointed that automakers and tech partners have changed their story from the AV Revolution over to cool, connected features being added to new cars.

Consulting companies Gartner and PwC now estimate that autonomous vehicles reaching mass production and sales — along with the much-hyped robotaxis — will take another decade or so to get here. Auto sales will probably continue declining for a while and then should go back up in the US to over 17 million or more as car buyers aren’t going to be ready to change their lifestyles with AVs — and electric vehicles and mobility services — for quite a while.

At last year’s CES show, several companies revealed advanced driver-assist technologies. It was a letdown for many attendees, and began signaling that the AV Revolution is going to take a while.

“I remember the projections from CES four or five years ago that by 2021, we’d have autonomous fleets and, obviously, that’s not happening as quickly,” said Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, which runs CES. “There’s a lot of barriers,”

A Deloitte study launched right before CES affirms it. Nearly half of US consumers (48 percent) of the respondents believe that fully autonomous vehicles will be unsafe; and 58 percent aren’t willing to pay more than $500 for AV technology.

The Deloitte 2020 Global Automotive Consumer Study surveyed more than 35,000 driving-aged consumers, from 20 countries, across the world. While increased connectivity in new vehicles is thought to be the bridge between the current models and AVs of the future, surveyed consumers have mixed feelings. People in India (80 percent) and China (76 percent) are embracing the idea at over twice the rate compared to Germany (36 percent), followed by the US (46 percent). Some issues do carry over to India and other countries — concerns over privacy and data security being a top issue.

Consulting company PwC says autonomous vehicles used in robotaxi operations will not reach roads in any significant presence until after 2030.

Nissan’s Intelligent Mobility sets a clear example of where the technology is now, and where it’s headed. Intelligent Mobility offers a suite of integrated technology designed to increase safety, comfort, and control while driving, “connecting you with your vehicle and the world around you.” Intelligent Driving starts now with driver assistant technology like Safety Shield 360 that helps you see more and sense more, giving you a helping hand when you need it. Then there’s the e-Pedal that makes electric car driving even more fun. And going to the next step: smart vehicles that connect with each other in an ecosystem that improves safety and traffic flow.

Automakers and tech giants like Apple and Alphabet are following the lead set by Amazon in recent years with the launch of its Alexa and Echo systems. They integrate control systems and devices into a personalized, customized system for giving voice commands to driving directions, EV charging, playing the music you love to hear, and much more. You might say, “Alexa, tell me the best place nearby to pickup a low-carb dinner, and the best way to get there fast while playing great music from the 1980s.”

Highlights from this year’s CES:

  • Sony unveiled an electric car concept that could set the Japanese tech giant up as a partner for self-driving EVs of the future. The company said sensors are embedded within the vehicle, in order to “detect and recognize people and objects inside and outside the car, and provide highly advanced driving support.” Magna Steyr built prototype, and Sony listed Benteler, Blackberry, Bosch, Continental, Elektrobit, Genetex, Nvidia, Qualcomm, and ZF Friedrichshafen as partners.
  • Along with reminders about its intelligent mobility offerings, Nissan revealed a new twin-motor, all-electric, all-wheel-drive system. It’s expected to debut in Nissan’s first all-electric crossover utility vehicle that may arrive in the US in 2021. Called e-4ORCE, the new system will deliver high-torque, precision handling and stability, Nissan said. This will be possible by optimizing power delivery to each of the four wheels.
  • Toyota’s Woven City was shown off as a prototype community of the future that will be built near Mount Fuji in Japan. The 175-acre site will house an experimental laboratory of future technologies including self-driving vehicles run on hydrogen fuel cells, robots, smart homes and new forms of personal mobility. People will be able to live in this community of the future.
  • Hey there, hardcore gamers:  This year, both Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation will launch new, next-generation game consoles. Both are scheduled to arrive this holiday season, and both are being slowly finished up for major launches. And you can always get a cutting-edge TV of the future to play the games on and watch your favorite show. Samsung showed off its Q950 8K TV with a minimal 15mm frame and AI processor that can track screen objects and position the sound to match. LG unveiled its latest rollable OLED TV, that can roll down from the ceiling like a projector screen with no need for a projector; there’s also a more affording OLED TV with a smaller 48-inch display.
  • Uber and Hyundai Motor Co. have a new partnership to develop Uber Air Taxis for a future aerial ride share network, and the new partners unveiled a new full-scale aircraft concept. Hyundai is the first automotive company to join the Uber Elevate initiative, bringing automotive-scale manufacturing capability and a track record of mass-producing electric vehicles.
  • Renault is developing a solution enabling automatic and secure interaction and communication between cars and connected objects in homes in partnership with French smart-home startup Otodo. Users will be able to control their home’s connected objects directly from their vehicle’s dashboard, as well as send instructions from their home, using a smartphone or connected speaker, to their connected Renault vehicle to prepare or share an itinerary, and other functions. It will be available in all Renault models that have the new Renault EASY LINK multimedia system, including the all-new Zoe, Clio, and Captur.
  • Hey there, Avatar fans:  Something that could be called “Ava-car” will be launched to promote upcoming sequels to the hugely popular Avatar movie made by the legendary director James Cameron. He spoke at CES to announced an Avatar-themed partnership with Mercedes-Benz, revealing the futuristic AVTR concept car. It offers what the German carmaker sees as the future of automotive design, featuring things like a steering wheel that will “merge” man and machine. AVTR will be able to recognize the driver based on their heartbeat and breathing patterns. The look of the car is based on non-human characters from Avatar’s fictional eco-universe. The seats and floor are made from sustainable materials, and the battery is recyclable, too.

What to watch for in 2020, Changes in GAM email distribution list

Here are 10 trends and developments that are bound to have a big impact on clean transportation and other sectors — including the presidential election, European emissions rules, and what’s next for car sharing and autonomous vehicles.

1. No continuation of federal EV tax credit
The federal tax credit for purchasers of electric vehicles is ending for automakers selling the highest volumes and hitting their caps on allowable sales — and it appears that won’t be extended. The cap is at 200,000 units sold by brand of battery electric vehicles with a $7,500 tax credit. Tesla and General Motors have already passed that mark, and just had their pleas for extension ignored by the Trump administration and Congress in the new federal budget. Nissan will be next in line, followed by Ford and BMW. Automakers and EV advocates will need to turn to state incentives. The Top five sales states in EV sales during 2018 — California (about 45 percent of total), New York, Washington, Florida, and Texas — have their own state incentives that will have to be tapped into more.

2. Trump campaign clear about environmental and energy issues
The Trump administration continues to campaign for 2020 re-election, regardless of the president’s impeachment. The odds are that the US Senate, with its Republican majority, will not vote to remove Donald Trump from office — making him the third US president after Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton to be impeached by the House but failing to reach the two thirds (67 votes) needed to be removed from office. Trump says he’s ready to continue on as president, and the Democrats are continuing to wend their way through candidates. For now, Joe Biden is the leading candidate, according to polls taken of regular voters.

As for the policies, Democratic candidates aren’t mentioning specific issues like the EV tax credit or incentives for fleets to acquire alternative fuel vehicles. As for taxing carbon emissions to get businesses to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Julian Castro, John Delaney, and Andrew Yang, support it. On extending a cap-and-trade program such as the one started years ago in California, only Tom Steyer is endorsing it for now. As for the Trump campaign, you can review the campaign website and see that the administration will continue it’s crusade to gut environmental regulations, softening fuel economy and emissions rules, and denying climate change exists — statements that can be validated and detailed by environmental groups. Here are a few of the Trump 2020 campaign website statements………

“President Trump and his administration acted aggressively to increase exports of energy resources to the global market. This allowed financing for coal and fossil energy projects………. President Trump has approved the infrastructure and provided the resources needed to unleash oil and gas production in the US……… The Trump administration reversed President Obama’s moratorium on new leases for oil and gas development on federal lands………. President Trump rescinded President Obama’s costly Clean Power Plan and instead has proposed the Affordable Clean Energy Rule……… The EPA has rescinded President Obama’s methane emissions rule that would cost American energy developers an estimated $530 million annually……… 
The EPA is reviewing a rule that if rescinded would relax costly fuel standards and save $340 billion in regulatory costs……… President Trump announced his intent to withdraw the US from the unfair Paris Climate Agreement.”

3. Long-anticipated emission rules starting in Europe
Light-duty vehicle manufacturers will see more stringent emissions standards take effect in Europe in the new year with a phase-in period extending into 2021. Automakers will have to sell a lot more hybrid and electric vehicles in European Union member countries or they’ll pay costly fines, a situation similar to China. Scientists say that about 20 percent of Europe’s carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases come from light-duty vehicles, and heavy-duty trucks add to that emissions share even more. Shareholders worry that profit will be hurt as these green cars can’t be sold at higher prices than conventional gasoline and diesel models, which means they won’t be profitable until battery costs come down. The regulations will eventually cover heavy-duty trucks, albeit with a longer timeline. In Europe, commercial trucks will have to emit 30% less greenhouse gases by 2030. The US will have to continue to wait and see how the Trump administration is ruling on light-duty vehicles and later on medium- and heavy-duty vehicles — though it certainly will be at a less strict standard.

4. Going from NAFTA to USMCA
The House of Representatives voted Dec. 19 in favor of a new trade deal replacing NAFTA. The new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) was passed by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 385 to 41, with a large majority of Democrats approving the deal — a day after House Democrats voted to impeach the president. The Senate plans to ratify USMCA next year, potentially after it holds a January trial on whether to remove Trump from office. According to the new USMCA rules, 75 percent of car or auto parts need to have originated in a country partnership. Under NAFTA’s rules, the floor was 62.5 percent. Additionally, 70 percent of a car’s steel and aluminum purchases must be made in North America.

The new rules also require that a certain percentage of vehicles imported duty-free must be made in a place where employees make an average of $16 per hour. But the critical question remains to be seen — if the new agreement will force enough changes to shift production of vehicles from Mexico to the US. While the U.S would likely replace some of its duty-free imports with its own production, it will still need to rely on more expensive imports. It will cost automakers nearly $3 billion over the next ten years, according to budget projections made by the Congressional Budget Office. And it won’t face the reality of globalization of automotive manufacturing and distribution, and that new vehicles sold in the US already display a mix of foreign-made parts and components. As for now, General Motors and Ford support the new USMCA rules, as does the American Automotive Policy Council, which lobbies for Ford, GM and Fiat Chrysler. Labor unions had been pushing for the bill, too, to protect domestic workers.

5. Tesla bucking downward sales slump in China
While new vehicle sales in China — including electric vehicles — continued to see a downward slide in November, Tesla broke that cycle with a 14-fold gain in new-vehicle registrations. Registrations of Tesla vehicles climbed to a five-month high of 5,597 in November, compared with 393 vehicles sold a year earlier. The China-built Model 3s are set to start at about $50,000, slightly cheaper than imported versions. Tesla thinks it can lower that price by 20 percent or more next year as it starts using local components and parts, reducing costs. There’s much at stake for Tesla as China accounts for about half of the world’s electric-vehicle sales — and with the company seeing the country becoming its largest global market after the US. The electric carmaker needs to see another burgeoning market as EV tax incentives will be going away soon in the US for Tesla and other makers.

6. New EVs that are gaining the most interest
In recent weeks following the LA Auto Show and announcements on 2020 product offerings, a few electric vehicle models have been getting much of the attention. One interesting question is will Tesla’s new Cybertruck will cannibalize sales of the upcoming Tesla Model Y crossover SUV………. Electric truck maker Rivian has raised $1.3 billion for the R1T pickup in a new financing round led by T. Rowe Price. Prior investors including Amazon, Ford, and BlackRock participated in the deal. Amazon, of course, will be buying a lot of the trucks………… Ford’s Mustang Mach-E electric SUV was very hot at the LA Auto Show. It will start arriving in late 2020, and Ford will only make 50,000 units globally in the first model year……….. The 2022 Fisker Ocean crossover SUV can be secured with a $250 down payment. It will offer 250 to 300 miles of range and will feature recycled materials from the ocean……… Volvo and its Polestar subsidiary will only be sending out its Polestar 2 electric car to select dealers in the network. It’s so popular that dealers in Illinois are fighting the Polestar Automotive USA’s plans to limit the dealer distributions…………. Watch for battery- and hydrogen-powered commercial trucks and buses to make a splash in 2020.

7. The latest in autonomous vehicle regulations
Autonomous, light-duty trucks can now be used for commercial purposes on public roads in California. The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles announced the proposal this month, which outlines a permitting process for companies wishing to test or deploy driverless trucks for commercial use. The new rule only applies to autonomous vehicles weighing less than 10,001 pounds — Class 1 and 2 trucks that would include minivans, pickup trucks, utility vans, and step vans. This would be ideal for delivery companies………. At the moment, all autonomous vehicles undergoing testing must have a few controls in place, those being steering wheels and backup drivers. General Motors wants to roll out a small fleet of autonomous vehicles that don’t have these two things. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it will have a decision soon on the automaker’s request.

8. Will female CEOs carry over to automakers?
Enterprise Holdings announced earlier this month chief operating officer Chrissy Taylor would take on the role of chief executive in a planned succession. Taylor, the granddaughter of company founder Jack Taylor, will take the wheel on January 1. She’ll replace Pam Nicholson, the No. 23 person on the Fortune Most Powerful Women in business list who had served as CEO of the car rental giant since 2013. They join Hertz president and CEO Kathryn Marinello, making for two of the three US car rental conglomerate chiefs. In the auto industry — US and global — General Motors CEO Mary Barra is the only woman to run one of these companies. For now, it’s still a boys club — although women make up a third of the technology team on Ford’s Mach-E.

9. Car-sharing continues to be a tough business
Daimler and BMW have called it quits on Share Now, its joint car-sharing unit. A low adoption rate was citied. Share Now will exit the North American market and cease operations in London, Brussels and Florence, at the end of February. Another sad story also came this month, that BlueIndy will cease operations four years after the electric-car-sharing program arrived in Indianapolis. Members of the car-sharing network were told by email that financial reasons were behind the closure. The collaboration with the City of Indianapolis will end on May 21, 2020. BlueIndy said in a news release that 11,000 members took about 180,000 rides over the course of four years, but “Indianapolis drivers have been slow to adopt alternative transportation options and car ownership remains extremely high.”

10. Impact of sulfur emission rules on fuel prices
With the International Maritime Organization (IMO) ready to release its regulation on sulfur emissions on January 1, concerns are being raised over the impact on fuel prices and the economics of transportation. The ocean shipping industry accounts for 90 percent of global trade, and the IMO’s international mandate to reduce “bunker fuel” sulfur content in marine fuel oil from 3.5 percent to 0.5 percent is expected to have a major impact. That will go for maritime shipping and trucking.

According to an IMO analysis at Wood Mackenzie, the global refining system is not equipped to produce the volumes of low sulfur fuel needed to power the world’s shipping industry by the time the regulation goes into effect. While there are existing stockpiles of low sulfur fuel available, the consulting firm expects that existing supply will likely not be enough to buffer global reserves until supply eventually catches up with demand. That consumption rate was about 3.5 million barrels a day from the global maritime sector in 2018. The shipping industry can be turning to diesel products instead of bunker fuel as the supply runs out and bunker fuel goes up in price. Higher prices are expected to be carried over to the trucking industry and other segments. That increased demand would bring higher diesel prices globally, having a profound impact on the trucking industry — especially in the US where trucking provides the lion’s share of freight transportation from these ships to buyers.

Changes at GAM reader subscriber list
Green Auto Market has stopped working with its distribution partner, and the subscriber box will be changing. Until that’s done, new subscribers or those with changing email addresses will need to contact the editor at jlesage378@gmail.com to be placed on the new email distribution list.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And a few more news briefs………

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources: Hydrogen Analysis Resource Center and Alternative Fuels Data Center

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And in other news:

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