by Jon LeSage, editor and publisher, Green Auto Market
Here’s my take on the 10 most significant and interesting occurrences during the past week…….
- ZEV credits: The California Air Resources Board may plan this week for the state’s emissions targets to remain largely unchanged through 2025 and then jump after that year, according to three people familiar with the proceedings. This will disappoint Tesla CEO Elon Musk and environmental groups that have called for expansion of the zero emission vehicle incentives. Tesla sold 80,227 credits during the 11 months through August, which accounted for 86% of the total. And even at prices below what Musk wants, the sales helped Tesla report a profit in the third quarter after having sold $139 million worth of ZEV credits during that quarter. CARB is reassessing its targets as part of the so-called mid-term review of President Barack Obama’s fuel-economy and emissions goals for 2025.
- Longest range ever: Henrik Fisker is striving to earn the bragging rights on plug-in electric vehicle performance. The head of the Fisker Inc. startup on Monday claimed that the all-electric luxury sedan to be released next year, called EMotion, will be able to travel 400 miles on a single charge, reach a top speed of 161 mph, and it will come equipped with hardware allowing for fully autonomous driving. The company said it will announce its self-driving car technology supplier “soon” without providing further details.
- Renewable diesel: San Diego is becoming the largest fleet in the nation to use renewable diesel, with 1,125 diesel vehicles using the clean fuel, including street sweepers, refuse packers, and firetrucks. Doing so will release 80-percent fewer emissions than traditional diesel, according to state officials. That helps the city meet its goal of cutting greenhouse-gas emissions in half by 2035 under its Climate Action Plan, which was adopted in December. The city’s fleet was at first reviewing the option of converting vehicles over from diesel to compressed natural gas, but discovered renewable diesel to be cheaper and much cleaner in reducing emissions. The city doesn’t have to invest in conversion to start using the renewable diesel.
- Bolt production: In May, General Motors had stated the all-electric Chevy Bolt would start production in October, but then pulled the document off its website and wouldn’t comment on it anymore. There’s only been a rumor shared on Twitter so far; that source said that the production line at the Orion assembly plant has officially started. It was posted by the WaterlooRegionVoltec group of Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada.
- Tesla supporters cult members: Lutz on Ex-vice chairman of General Motors and champion of the Chevy Bolt, Bob Lutz, shared another zinger on Tesla Motors and its CEO, Elon Musk. “Tesla supporters are like members of a religious cult,” Lutz said during an interview with CNBC last week. “Just like Steve Jobs was worshiped at Apple, it’s the same way with Elon Musk … seen as a new visionary god who promises this phantasmagorical future, a utopia of profitability and volume.” Watch the video to hear more.
- Health and climate study: The health impact of air pollution has become a widely cited source for implementing emissions reductions rules for transportation. Another study has been released tracking the damage. A new report from the American Lung Association of California states that vehicles are responsible for $37 billion in health and climate costs each year. The study tracked California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont—the 10 states that have zero emission vehicle sales programs.
- Wind and solar: International Energy Agency reported that renewable energy that last year marked a turning point for renewables. Led by wind and solar, renewables represented more than half the new power capacity around the world, reaching a record 153 Gigawatt (GW), 15% more than the previous year, and surpassing coal power. Renewables are also expected to be the fastest-growing source of electricity generation over the next five years, increasing market share from 23% in 2015 to 28% in 2021.
- Wheego goes autonomous: Previously known as Wheego Electric Cars, the revamped company now known as Wheego Technologies no longer manufactures electric cars. It considers itself to be an R&D company, supplying its electric drive and autonomous driving systems. After starting in 2009, the company sold about 400 units through its network of dealers, but it’s been nearly three years since any have been built. The company now is focused on developing products for autonomous vehicles that use machine learning and artificial intelligence. It has two divisions with about a dozen employees each, and was recently granted a permit to test autonomous vehicles in California.
- Chicago electric buses: Electric bus maker Proterra just won a large contract in Chicago. JLL, a leading professional services firm specializing in real estate, announced the first commercial agreement to provide commuter shuttle services via a fleet of electric buses. The service will operate between Chicago’s commuter train stations and two of the city’s tallest buildings, the Prudential Plaza and Aon Center, both of which are managed by JLL. Proterra has leased 10 Catalyst electric shuttle buses to JLL.
- Flying car ride-hailing: Uber has conducted a report on what it calls Uber Elevate, which may become the name of its division providing riders with flying car trips. Along with Otto, the self-driving trucking unit, and the Pittsburgh autonomous car rides, Uber says it wants to find a manufacturer of flying cars to partner with and build an on-demand urban aviation system. Uber is talking to flying car startup makers Aero, Joby Aviation, eHang, and Terrafugia, and others about working together; though it will be several years from now until you’ll get to book a trip on your smartphone.