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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How a major oil refiner is earning GHG credits in California

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forecast on where global car sales are going over next decade, Ugly signs we’ve crossed the line on climate change

Expectations have been in place that the next decade will be as historically significant as the birth of mass production automobiles — when Henry Ford’s company put the first Model T in production in 1908 and watched it reach the 15 millionth unit 19 years later. But will the 2020s be likely to see these historic shifts fall in place, with the year 2030 typically used in forecasts and emissions reduction goals as the benchmark for adoption? That benchmark could include steadily declining new vehicles sales; electric vehicles becoming more important to automakers and vehicle owners than cars and trucks powered by internal combustion engines; autonomous vehicles clearing regulatory hurdles and starting production; mobility services leading the way in traffic- and smog-congested cities; and younger consumers choosing autonomous, electric, shared ride services over owning their own personal vehicles.

Good questions. Let’s take a look at the first one………
Auto sales forecast: New vehicle sales increased in June in China, the world’s largest auto market, but that came during a 14 month period where 13 of them were in decline. July saw the decline fall back into place. Rising trade tensions and tariffs, a slowdown in China’s booming economy, and implementation of stricter emissions rules, have had their impact. Much of the the June sales boom was fueled by dealers cutting prices way down to clear inventory and prepare for exhaust controls coming to new vehicles. LMC Automotive estimates 2019 will see a second straight annual drop in China. India has seen sales decline at an alarming rate this year, with automakers cutting production and putting plans on hold to increase capacity. Analysts worry that U.S. auto sales reached their historic peak and will continue to see decline this year. Germany’s Center for Automotive Research says that the global auto market is about to take its biggest hit since the financial crisis of 2008, with sales declining by more than four million units at the end of this year.

There are concerns over a global economic slowdown potentially dragging out the current sales decline, yet global sales growth is far from being over. Studies by McKinsey, IHS Markit, Bank of America and Merrill Lynch, and AutoForecast Solutions, predict a return to growth in new vehicle sales worldwide. Should these studies be taken seriously? Yes, as they do tap into auto executive interviews on their product pipelines in the coming years, and opinions expressed by shareholders.

A McKinsey report forecasts global new vehicle sales will return to an increase, but not at the steep rate we’d seen over the past five years. That was at 3.6 percent per year, and it should decline and level out around 2 percent annual growth rate by 2030. Consumers are buying a lot of new vehicles, many times for the first time ever. China, India, Brazil, and a few other countries with emerging economies, are expected to see economic growth return with consumers moving to growing metro regions with strong job demand and more need for transportation beyond metro trains and buses.

The McKinsey study expects that the decline and leveling out will come from macroeconomic factors and the rise of new mobility services such as ride hailing, car sharing, and eventually by automated shared rides.

“New mobility services may result in a decline of private vehicle sales, but this decline is likely to be partially offset by increased sales in shared vehicles that need to be replaced more often due to higher utilization and related wear and tear. The remaining driver of growth in global car sales is the overall positive macroeconomic development, including the rise of the global consumer middle class. As established markets are no longer expanding, growth will continue to rely on emerging economies, particularly China and India,” according to the McKinsey study.

These findings have been echoed in other market reports, with many including electric vehicles in the numbers. A dominant topic of conversation among industry panelists last month at the 54th annual CAR Management Briefing Seminars in Michigan, was the speed in which key markets around the world will adopt EVs and increasing levels of autonomous mobility. Cybersecurity was another key concern, with fear of hackers being able to take over vehicles and shut down the grid, being reiterated by speakers.

AutoForecast Solutions and IHS Markit released studies forecasting overall new vehicle sales growth to continue through at least 2026. Electric vehicles are supposed to replace internal combustion engines in large numbers by 2030, but IHS Markit sees that taking much longer — reaching only 7.6 percent of the total by 2025. Another previous forecast has been set aside, with the young Millennial generation actually buying cars like their parents did and keeping them longer.

Global plug-in vehicle deliveries reached 2.1 million units for 2018, 64 percent higher than for 2017 and 2.4 percent of the world’s overall 86 million units sold last year. The International Energy Agency’s New Policies Scenario expects that by 2030, global EV sales will reach 23 million for that year and the stock of owned EVs will exceed 130 million vehicles (excluding two and three-wheelers). That’s under one forecast analysis including the impact of announced policy ambitions by several governments; the IEA scenario includes another potential outcome where the number shoots up to 43 million and the stock coming to more than 250 million. Either predicted scenario would cut oil demand substantially.

China saw its first drop in recorded EV sales in July. Monthly global sales fell 14 percent with declines in China and North America during that month. Reductions in EV subsidies and a cooling economy impacted the China market. Another top auto market, India, is struggling to get consumers and rickshaw drivers to convert over to EVs and meet goals the government had laid out.

For now (and in another study), the IEA sees oil being king and the US playing a leading role over the next six years. That comes form rapid growth in the shale industry. By 2024, the US will export more oil than Russia and will come close to Saudi Arabia’s exports.

Other advanced fuels, such as renewable natural gas, will offset the advantages stable fuel prices offer petroleum suppliers when it comes to fleets. Affordable gasoline and diesel, and concern over incentives diminishing, are expected to keep EV sales at bay in the US for now with fleets and consumers. Traditional ICE vehicles with good fuel economy, strong crash safety ratings, and a full spectrum of features and connectivity, are leading the way for now. As for new vehicle purchases, it appears that major markets won’t see their numbers go way down over the next decade. It will take longer before alternative modes and energies will be fundamentally and historically altering the industry.

Signs that we’ve crossed the tipping point with climate change:  New fires are continuing to start up in the Amazon rain forest, caused by famers, cattle ranchers and other sources. The world’s largest absorber of greenhouse gases may change roles and begin emitting them, according to scientists. There are other indicators of environmental hazards approaching: Australia’s Great Barrier Reef may be seeing the end of its days….. More than 1 in 10 Americans — 34 million people — are living in rapidly heating regions. Seventy-one counties have already hit the benchmark 2-degree Celsius mark………. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts a further rise of between 1.4°C and 5.8°C by the end of the century in oceans. It would take out many species which are already under stress from overfishing and habitat loss; and the oceans are becoming increasingly acidic…… Scientists recently announced that July equaled, if not surpassed, the hottest month in recorded history. The heat wave that wreaked havoc on Europe in late July has now reached Greenland, causing the ice in the region to melt at a rapid pace.

A few interesting news briefs:

  • On Friday, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, announced Tesla is receiving an exemption from a 10-percent purchase tax. It’s part of a broad national policy applying to domestic electric vehicles. Prior to that on August 20, Tesla was included in Shanghai’s Pilot Free Trade Zone, which will also help the EV maker gain a financial advantage in the world’s largest EV market.
  • Chinese automaker BYD took third place (behind Qualcomm and MasterCard) on Fortune Magazine’s “Change the World” list 2019, which is the American publication’s annual ranking of companies that are hitting targets to help the planet and tackle society’s unmet needs. BYD’s cited achievements include building a flexible “e-platform” for EV design and construction, competitive pricing that’s helped further commercialize EVs, and the recent deal to jointly develop electric vehicles with Japan’s Toyota that should expand BYD’s global reach.
  • The 2019 Hyundai Nexo hydrogen fuel cell electric SUV has earned a TOP SAFETY PICK+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) for vehicles built after June 2019. The Nexo, which is only available in California, is the first such hydrogen fuel cell vehicle that IIHS has tested for crash safety.
  • The Ford Police Interceptor Utility 2020 model is now the first-ever pursuit-rated police utility vehicle with a standard hybrid engine. Agencies in cities such as San Diego, Columbus, Ohio, and Madison, Wisc., have committed to adding hybrids to their law enforcement fleets. So far, these agencies have ordered more than 2,600 units equipped with the standard 3.3-liter hybrid engine.
  • Car sharing service Share Now, which was created this year as part of a joint venture between BMW and Daimler, will expand its electric fleet significantly under the agreement with the City of Munich. A total of 200 BMW i3s will be available to Share Now customers on Munich roads by the end of the year.
  • From GAM editor’s blog post, called The mysterious vanishing of Americans 40 to 60 — and why we were named Generation X: “The next time you go out and about, take a 365-degree look around you. Millennials (ages 23 to 38 during this year) and GenZers (ages 7 to 22) are out doing things in vast numbers, with Millennials nearly as big in population as Baby Boomers — and GenZers following right behind. But what’s happening to my peers in Generation X? We’re there, but in smaller numbers; and many of us are somewhere else — such as working long hours.”

Tesla faces battery and Autopilot challenges, High speed rail struggles in US

Spotlight on Tesla safety in China and the U.S.
The electric vehicle manufacturer is facing scrutiny over two safety issues that have dogged the company for years — fires starting in its battery packs, and crashes happening while its Autopilot semi-autonomous driving system had been activated. Reports have emerged on a Tesla fire in a Hong Kong parking log. Weeks before, a video streamed on Chinese social media platforms showed a Tesla Model S bursting into flames in a Shanghai garage. Startup competitor Nio said last month that one of its ES8 models caught future in Xi’an while being repaired. In the U.S., the National Transportation Safety Board said in a preliminary report that Tesla’s Autopilot system was active at the time of a fatal Model 3 crash in Delray Beach, Fla. That involved a collision between a Model 3 and a semi truck on March 1st. NTSB reported that the Model 3 driver had activated Autopilot about 10 seconds before the collision, and that for about eight seconds before the crash, the Model 3 didn’t detect the driver’s hands on the wheel. Tesla is rolling out an over-the-air software update for the Model S and Model X to improve safety and battery life as it continues investigating the cause of the Hong Kong fire; and issued a statement on the Autopilot incident.

CARB’s Mary Nichols confronts White House over emissions rules
California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary Nichols was set to deliver comments that won’t go well with the Trump administration today during a meeting with California air quality and transportation agencies. Nichols is arguing that the state will match any relaxation of federal auto rules with its own more stringent anti-pollution requirements on everything from fuel to the refineries producing it. The state may be joining a few countries in eventually banning fossil-fuel powered vehicles. These comments were made as the Trump administration readies a final plan for easing emission and fuel economy standards. “CARB will be exploring ways to ensure communities get the reductions of air pollution they so desperately need to keep the air clean and breathable — and continue to fight climate change,” Nichols said in draft remarks. “That might mean, for example, tougher requirements for low-carbon fuels, looking at tighter health-protective regulations on California refineries, doubling down on our enforcement efforts on mobile and stationary sources — and might lead to an outright ban on internal combustion engines.”

What will happen in GM’s Lordstown Plant?
Last week, President Donald Trump set off a wave of attention when tweeting that General Motor’s Lordstown Plant would be bought by Workhorse Group, Inc., even though the deal had not been settled. GM had been in discussions with electric truck startup Rivian, but those talks ended. Since then, Ford has since agreed to invest $500 million in Rivian. Details have yet to come out on GM’s role in the Lordstown Plant, and whether Workhore’s W-15 electric truck will be part of it. There’s also speculation out there that the plant could be where Workhorse builds electric mail trucks for the US Postal Service; but the company would first have to win that contract.

Check out Jon LeSage’s blog:
Interested in topics other than sustainable transportation? You can check out my blog to read about a few others, such as:
“Why I’m a pragmatist, and why you’re one too”
My favorite school of American philosophy, pragmatism, was based on what I see as a few simple questions: Does it work for me? Do I buy into it? What’s in it for me?
“Grocery shopping for Instacart customers who really really really need to have it delivered”
Grocery store shopping and delivery for Instacart, Incidents #1-5……….
 “How a failed rock critic turned working writer — and a big fan of Lester Bangs and rock ’n’ roll”
You may have noticed that my blog is defined as: “writings, reviews, and ramblings from a failed rock critic turned working writer.” Ok, what’s the story behind the failed rock critic? Was there an internship with Rolling StoneSpinEntertainment WeeklyBillboard, or American Songwriter that failed to turn into a job?
“Best rock n’ roll song moments ever in movies, in my opinion”
The Rolling Stones, ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ in ‘Mean Streets’ (1973). Director Martin Scorsese is credited for forging a unique connection between pop music and film, and having a lot of influence on younger filmmakers who followed his lead. But wait, there’s more……..
“Mystery guest sits next to my hospital bed, nudging me to stay alive”
Here’s Chapter 1 in a book I’m putting together, based on my experience in 2007 temporarily dying from encephalitis; and what living has been like since then. The book has the working title, Fall Down 7 Times, Get Up 8.
You’ll have to hit the Older Posts link at the bottom of the first page to see some of these blog posts, and there are more. You may be wondering why I do it, and placed an image of chimpanzees typing away, trying to write a book. I got hooked on writing when I was a child. My mother had been a newspaper reporter for a short period, and worked as a secretary. She would type our term papers, and boy did we get good grades. But she was my fist mentor in writing and editing. The best part is writing about topics I’m fascinated with and love learning more about. Telling the story teaches me a lot as well, and gives me a platform for sharing information that I want to spread with fans of electric vehicles and clean transportation, music and pop culture, spiritual/philosophical experiences (a la pragmatism), and more.
You can sign up for a free newsletter going out when a new piece is posted on the blog. And if you haven’t done so yet, please sign up for Green Auto Market — see the box to the right. This helps me find out what readers are most interested in, so I can stay current and keep the newsletter and blog as lively as possible.

High-speed rail takes off, but what about the U.S.?
High-speed rail continues to take off in Asia, with Thai companies building a $6.8 billion rail project that will link three major airports in the country. That follows Japan’s Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Hitachi beginning testing of Alfa-X, a train capable of hitting a maximum speed of 400 km/h (248 mph). These projects support government efforts to boost investments in hi-tech industrials, robotics, and electric vehicles; and to begin unclogging traffic-jammed roadways.
What about the U.S.? The country continues to fail other leading countries, with California slowly moving forward on its long-promised high-speed rail project and other rail projects stalling. The money isn’t really there yet, but a few companies are looking for a way to bring the rail technology — which is popular in Europe and Asia — across the U.S. Automakers and air travel are fighting it, but the biggest block is funding. The U.S. has more cost per mile in building rail with resolving private property ownership, utility rules, environmental mitigation, and labor costs. Growing traffic congestion and air pollution are thought to be behind companies supporting innovative high-speed rail test projects around the country.

Electric trucks the star of the show at ACT Expo 2019

Electric trucks took up a lot of space in the exhibit hall at this year’s ACT Expo — and that meant medium and heavy trucks along with commercial applications such as electric delivery and refuse trucks. This time major truckmakers took center stage, and specialized makers had announcements to share as well. With about 4,000 attendees, it was the largest ACT Expo yet.

During his keynote speech, Roger Nielsen, president and CEO of Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA), the largest commercial vehicle manufacturer in North America, said his company will be putting about 50 battery electric test vehicles on roads by the end of this year through its Freightliner division, built at a renovated plant in Oregon. 20 of them will be medium- and heavy-duty electric trucks for Penske Corp. and NFI Inc., a major third-party logistics company, under a grant from the South Coast Air Quality Management District. Near-zero-emissions natural gas medium- and heavy-duty vehicles are currently available and will continue from Freightliner as an interim solution until full commercialization of the battery-electric Freightliner eM2 and eCascadia, he said. Its Thomas Built unit will be rolling out Proterra-powered electric school buses.

Peterbilt Motors Co. showed off new electric trucks, including the Model 220EV, Model 520EV, and Model 579EV. The 220EV is spec’d with the Meritor Blue Horizon eAxle and the 520EV will feature the Transpower mid-ship powertrain configuration, while the 579EV will feature the new Allison AXE Series e-Axle. Six of the 579EVs were demonstrated at the exhibit that have been finished for customers. “Today, we have 14 electric vehicles built, on our way to more than 30 by the end of the year, for real customer routes and to analyze performance so that our production options meet the standards customers expect when buying a Peterbilt,” said Peterbilt’s Chief Engineer Scott Newhouse.

While it was outside ACT Expo, Ford on Wednesday announced it’s putting $500 million into electric truck startup Rivian Automotive. Both companies have agreed to work together to develop a battery electric vehicle for Ford’s growing EV portfolio using Rivian’s skateboard platform.

Volvo Trucks North America Wednesday hosted the California Air Resources Board (CARB) as they presented a $44.8 million check to the South Coast Air Quality Management District (South Coast AQMD) for the Volvo LIGHTS (Low Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions) project. The Volvo LIGHTS project is a partnership among the Volvo Group, South Coast AQMD and industry leaders in transportation and electrical charging infrastructure. The project was created ti demonstrate the ability of battery electric vehicles to improve freight and warehouse efficiencies, reduce emissions, and improve air quality. As part of the project, Volvo Trucks will introduce all-electric Volvo VNR regional-haul demonstrators in California later this year, with vehicle sales planned to begin in 2020.

Other introductions at ACT Expo 2019 included:

  • BYD Motors will deliver 14 yard tractors to two BNSF Railway intermodal facilities in Southern California, adding to an ongoing demonstration project.
  • Chanje has partnered with refrigeration unit supplier Thermo King on a prototype zero-emissions refrigerated van.
  • Xos, the new name for electric truck startup Thor Trucks, will retrofit two Loomis Armored US cash-hauling trucks. An order for 100 more trucks awaits if the test models show the trucks’ value.
  • EV Connect is launching a program aimed at standardizing EV charger management and use for both transportation fleets and charging-equipment developers. The EV Charge Station Certification program already has been completed by seven of the industry’s largest charger makers.
  • Ryder’s booth featured a comprehensive charging infrastructure solution, provided by In-Charge Energy. In-Charge provides nationwide turnkey energy and commercial electric vehicle infrastructure solutions to ensure customers maximize the full economic benefits of adopting electric vehicles into their fleet. Its end-to-end model focusing on behind the meter solutions is an industry first.
  • An Amply Power Inc. white paper showed fleets saved an average 37 percent compared with traditional fuels by electrifying their buses and light-duty vehicles. Fleets that charged during off-peak hours could save as much as 60 percent, according to the white paper.
  • Tritium created the “world’s most powerful charger,” the Veefil-PK 175-475kW DC High Power Charger which can add nearly 300 miles range to an EV in just 10 minutes.
  • The first production fuel cell-powered heavy-duty truck jointly developed by Toyota and Kenworth Truck Co. is going forward. The new truck is the first of 10 planned under a $41 million California Air Resources Board grant matched by Toyota, Kenworth, and Royal Dutch Shell.
  • Penske Truck Leasing announced it will open commercial heavy-duty electric vehicle charging stations with 14 high-speed chargers at four of its existing facilities in Southern California. These will be among the first DC fast charging stations in the U.S. designed specifically for heavy-duty commercial electric vehicles.
  • The North American Council for Freight Efficiency recently released a report, Regional Haul: An Opportunity for Trucking, that looks at this growing market segment and was shared during a seminar at ACT Expo. Long-haul trucking isn’t what it used to be, according to the report. Forty five percent of the Class 8 tractors produced today are day cabs and a high percentage of those trucks are involved in regional haul operations.
  • Gladstein, Neandross and Associates (GNA) and the University of California at Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering – Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT) announced the launch of the Low and Zero Emission Readiness (LAZER) Initiative. This new collaboration will support organizations —including transit agencies, refuse operations, trucking carriers, delivery fleets, school districts, municipalities, and more — in evaluating the real-world economic and environmental benefits of advanced transportation technologies.

CES and Detroit Auto Show highlights, Tesla goes to Shanghai

CES and NAIAS take place in January: Has the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas become the most important trade show for automakers and tech partners to attend? It depends on who you ask, but don’t forget about the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. In fact, it clearly beat CES in online attention. The Detroit auto show’s week of news conferences and other events (Jan. 14-17) got nearly 60% more mentions in news and social media than automotive news and topics the week before at CES. That comes from a study by Talkwalker, an advisory company in online marketing.

While CES is about much more than cars, both are significant events, probably the most important shows for new product launches and concept previews. So, what were some of the highlights at these leading auto industry events? Here are just a few.

Nissan unveiled the Leaf e+ at CES, with 40% more range than its predecessor — coming up to 226 miles per charge from its previous 150-mile range. There are minor exterior changes made the front-end design, and a new “e+” logo on the back end. It will go on sale in the U.S. this spring. The new version of the Leaf was supposed to be revealed at the LA Auto Show in November, but things got put on hold once former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn was arrested. At the Detroit Auto Show, Nissan showed off an elevated, electrified sport sedan that will deliver 483 hp, 590 lb.-ft. of torque, and 380 miles of range.  It’s said to be one of seven EVs Nissan will launch by 2022.

Ford and Qualcomm made announcements at CES on 5G C-V2X cellular technology. That’s been a problem for other automakers who still support dedicated short range communications (DSRC). NHTSA, under the Trump administration, hasn’t decided yet on whether the initial plan to require installing DSRC equipment in new vehicles beginning in 2020 or 2021 will be mandated. That’s given C-V2X an opportunity to gain supporters. Audi stayed committed to DSRC in its technology announcements at CES. There’s been a lot of pressure on automakers to come up with the next generation technology to strengthen data streaming vehicle-to-vehicle as more applications and devices become integrated with cars. Ford says that but 2020, all of its vehicles will be equipped with built-in cellular wireless connectivity from AT&T in the U.S., Vodafone in Europe; and China Unicom in China. The automaker said that the initial systems will enable over-the-air updates.

Several automakers opted out of the Detroit event this year (and the auto show will be moving to June next year to get out of the freezing cold time of year in which it’s been taking place for many years). But it’s still a place for several product launches with crossovers and electric vehicles playing a big role. Cadillac will supplant Chevrolet as GM’s lead brand in EVs in the next few years.  Cadillac previewed an all-electric Tesla competitor that will be the first vehicle derived from GM’s dedicated EV architecture.  A variety of body styles will eventually be offered, but the electric crossover will come out next year. Nissan’s 380-mile range concept vehicle (previously mentioned) goes by the name Nissan IMs Concept for now. It’s spacious interior offers a wide video screen dashboard, gold details, and a distinct rear cabin with a large center seat and smaller side seats.

The Hyundai Kona/Kona EV won the utility category at the North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year Awards in Detroit. The company just announced pricing for three variations of the EV with its 150 kW, 201 hp electric motor with a single-speed reduction gear. MSRP will be: SEL at $36,450, Unlimited at $41,150, and Ultimate at $44,650. (Freight Charges for the 2019MY Kona EV are $1,045.) “The Kona Electric is the first mass-market electric car that truly works for the mass market,” said Jamie Page Deaton, executive editor at U.S. News & World Report Best Cars. “A livable EV range, affordable price and practical cabin combine with lively driving dynamics to make the Kona EV a true pleasure. It’s the kind of EV that could convince the most ardent EV-skeptic.”

And in other news……..

  • On January 7, Tesla broke ground on its new Chinese Gigafactory in Shanghai. The electric carmaker plans to produce Model 3 and Model Y electric vehicles at that plant along with its battery packs. CEO Elon Musk said initial production in China of the Model 3 will start towards the end of this year, with volume production coming next year. Tesla is on its way to being the first wholly-owned car plant in China operated by a foreign company.
  • Owners of the electric Porsche Taycan, which is coming out later this year, will be getting three years of free charging stations in the U.S. that have a minimum of two 350 kilowatt chargers per site. One very attractive feature for Taycan owners will be the ability to add more than 60 miles of charge in four minutes. That comes from an 800-volt battery that can absorb these fast-charges. That will beat Tesla, which is promoting its 120-kilowatt supercharging stations that are capable of charging about 80% of the battery in about 30 minutes.
  • Electric scooter rides have taken off in the past year in Southern California and in other parts of the country. With it comes the risk and danger factor. A recent study looked at scooter-related injuries of 249 patients at two Southern California emergency rooms between September 2017 and August 2018. Riders, with an average age of 34 years and 58% of them male, had a lot more injuries than pedestrians,. While they only make it to a top speed of 15 miles per hour, less than 5% of riders reported to have been wearing helmets. About 40% of them had head injuries and nearly one third had broken bones. A study in JAMA Network Open found a lack of operator adherence to traffic laws or warning by the electric scooter companies.

Welcome to 2019, and what to look for in clean transportation and mobility

All-new electrified models:

  • Audi joined the electric vehicle race with the Audi e-tron crossover SUV, its first all-electric production model. The e-tron gets over 200 miles per charge and shows of a luxury design and has all-wheel drive performance.
  • The Jaguar I-Pace was launched, with a sporty design and luxury appointments, and a 240-mile all-electric driving range.
  • The Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid is an all-new version of the plug-in hybrid model. It’a powered by a 3.0-liter gas engine and a 136 hp electric motor.
  • The Range Rover P400e is a plug-in hybrid variant of the Range Rover SUV. It comes with a 2.0-liter gas engine and a 114 hp electric motor.
  • The Hyundai Kona is now available in an all-electric variant that delivers 258 miles of range.
  • The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV finally made it to America. The full-size SUV runs off of a 2.0-liter gas engine and two electric motors, plus greater efficiency and AWD.
  • The all-new Volvo XC40 compact SUV, the first model built on Volvo’s Compact Modular Architecture (CMA), features an efficient four-cylinder Drive-E powertrain.
  • Toyota has changes to its hybrid lineup. The Avalon Hybrid is longer and lower and higher mpg, with its 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and all-new Toyota Hybrid System II powertrain. The all-new Lexus ES 300h comes with a fourth-generation hybrid system delivering a class-leading 44 combined mpg. The Lexus UX entry-level luxury model now comes in the UX 250h hybrid version.
  • The Honda Insight comes in its third-generation version with an advanced two-motor hybrid system that delivers an EPA estimated 55 highway mpg.
  • Kia and Hyundai will launch electric crossovers in 2019, named the Niro and Kona respectively. Hyundai also has a new fuel cell vehicle, the Nexo, available in regions where it can access hydrogen filling stations.
  • On the commercial vehicle and fleet side, Workhorse Group has closed a financing round of $35 million with Marathon Asset Management, with $25 million being a revolving credit line to meeting existing and future purchase orders of its electric trucks.
  • Daimler Trucks is leading a $155-million investment round in electric bus maker Proterra; with Tao Capital Partners, a San Francisco investment firm, as the other lead investor. Daimler sees a growing market for electric buses as public transit districts and school systems in the U.S. and around the world move to reduce emissions. Proterra and Daimler also have an agreement to explore the electrification of a few Daimler heavy-duty vehicles.

Plug-in vehicle sales:  Finalized plug-in vehicle sales figures will be coming out in the next few days for December and all of 2018; but so far, it was clearly a year of record-setting plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles sales in the U.S. Through November, U.S. sales were at 312,887 for plug-in vehicles, compared to 194,479 for all of 2017, according to Electric Drive Transportation Association. Assuming 350,000 units will be sold in 2018, the increase would be about 55% over the previous year. InsideEVs estimates the Tesla Model 3 closed the month with 25,250 sold in the U.S. That compares to 18,650 sold in November. Lately, there’s been a wide gap between the Model 3 and every other plug-in vehicle sold in the U.S., with top sellers like the Tesla Model S and Model X, Chevrolet Bolt and Volt, and Toyota Prius Prime, each hovering somewhere around 3,000 units sold per month. The Nissan Leaf was able to see its first sales increase in a long time.

Mobility going mainstream:  Mobility services like ride-sharing and car-sharing are moving beyond initial excitement by early adopters and over to the mainstream. The Mobility Revolution: A Primer for Fleet Managers, explores four trends that are shaping the near-term future of vehicles and transportation — connected, electric, shared, and autonomous vehicles. The study was sponsored by NAFA Foundation as a tool for fleet professionals to prepare for the near future. The pressure is on for fleet managers and operators to reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions, make their fleets safer, and to try out connected, automated systems for these goals and cost containment. The paper delves into ways that fleets are already testing and exploring these changing technologies and methods, featuring a few successful case studies. Another watershed moment in this new year will be seeing ride-hailing company Lyft beat much-larger rival Uber in filing for an initial public offering. Lyft has been valued at about $15 billion, with its IPO slated for the first half of 2019, sources have told Reuters. Uber is expected to pursue an IPO next year that could value it at about $120 billion. Room rental company Airbnb Inc, valued at $31 billion, is also seen listing in 2019.

Autonomous vehicle test projects:  When, oh when, will autonomous vehicles move beyond the testing phase and be given the green light? It’s not clear, but more companies are entering the testing phase in California and others states. Uber is starting to recover from nine months ago when one of its autonomous test vehicles struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Ariz. The return to road testing in Pittsburgh will be at a much smaller scale than the company’s previous program. Another significant event was learning that Alphabet’s Waymo self-driving Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrids have been through nearly two dozen attacks from irate locals in the Chandler, Ariz.. Over the past two years, irate locals have expressed frustration with tire slashings and pelting these vehicles with rocks. One local resident made multiple attempts to run Waymo vehicles off the road using his Jeep Wrangler, including driving toward one of the Waymo minivans head-on before turning away. He said it came from a Waymo vehicle nearly hitting his 10-year old son while the boy was playing in a neighborhood cul-de-sac.

The battery war continues:  Battery maker 24M just received $22 million in funding for its SemiSolid lithium-ion battery that would beat Tesla and other automakers in electric vehicle driving range and energy storage. The startup company, made up of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) scientists and a former A123 Systems co-founder, offers longer driving range, lower battery cost, and faster manufacturing time. The company is also targeting the grid energy storage market, competing with Tesla’s energy storage unit, along with Daimler, BMW, Renault, Nissan, and other automakers. The SemiSolid speeds up the manufacturing process by cutting out a number of steps typically used in EV battery production. It also cuts down the need for materials such as copper, aluminum, and plastics. That will bring down the battery’s costs and the amount of energy needed to charge up the EV batteries.

Renewable energy trends:  Renewable energy went up a point in 2018 — up to 8% of U.S. power generation through the third quarter of 2018. There’s been a lot of concern over America’s trade war with China that includes renewable energy, but demand continues to grow. One study sees growth continuing in 2019, based on emerging policies that support renewable growth; expanding investor interest in the sector; and advancing technologies that boost wind and solar energy’s value to the grid, asset owners, and customers. Growth was driven by declining wind and solar generation costs, improvements in battery storage, and grid operators’ growing experience in integrating intermittent renewable power into the grid. Demand was strong, as well, with voluntary procurement (purchases not driven solely by government incentives) representing 52% of utility-scale solar projects in development and 73% of projects announced in the first half of 2018.

The trade war may change course:  The U.S. and China may be ready to end, or adjust, the trade war started last year by President Donald Trump. A U.S. government delegation will be traveling to Beijing next week to hold trade talks with Chinese officials, according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke with Bloomberg. The Trump administration launching the trade war — which added more than $200 billion worth of imports from China by the third quarter of 2018 — is considered a key factor in destabilizing oil prices last year. It’s also hurting China’s weakening auto sales, which is seeing its first decline in two decades — during a time U.S. auto sales are expected to decline. Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk and other automotive executives were pleased to see China reduce tariffs to 15 percent from 40 percent after that meeting. Tesla was able to lower prices for its Model S, Model X, and Model 3, which are scheduled to be delivered to customers early next year. BMW AG and Daimler AG were able to cut prices on their U.S.-made luxury vehicles, bringing prices down to the level there were at before the extra duty was added last July. Automakers in the U.S. are waiting to see whether Trump will be hitting vehicle imports with tariffs.

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and stations:  Hyundai has delivered its first Nexo hydrogen fuel cell SUV in the U.S. market. The 2019 Nexo – which replaces the Tucson Fuel Cell – can go up to 380 miles, starting at $58,300 (including $13,000 on its hydrogen fueling card). It joins the Toyota Mirai and Honda Clarity in the fuel cell vehicle market.
The California Energy Commission and California Air Resources Board released a report in late December with some interesting numbers:

  • Public support and public funding remain necessary to achieve the 100-station goal, and more funding will be needed to support the 200-station goal.
  • The current network of 65 stations (including those still in development) provides enough fuel for the existing FCEV population, but capacity will need to double by 2024 to meet projected FCEV growth.
  • Estimated greenhouse gas emissions reductions from funded stations are nearly 76,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year by 2024.
  • More than 5,000 FCEVs are registered in California as of October 2018, nearly double the number from the previous year.

Uber and Lyft going public, Highlights from AltCar Expo speakers

Ride-hailing firms going public:  Uber and Lyft, the top rivals for the U.S. ride-hailing market, are engaged in another race to see who can launch a successful stock market public offering first. While Uber went through disastrous upheaval not long ago, CEO Uber Dara Khosrowshahi, who took over a little more than a year ago, appears to be reviving the ride-hailing giant. Uber may be getting a 2019 offering at a $120 billion valuation, far above recent private market levels. Lyft, meanwhile, could find a public valuation of over $15 billion, which is much closer to IPOs than what some analysts expect Uber to find next year in initial market value.

Musk going to Mars:  While 2018 is turning out the worst of times for Tesla CEO Elon Musk, things are looking brighter on the space transport side of the business — with his grand vision of taking passengers to Mars. His SpaceX company’s Big Falcon Booster will see a factory being built in the Port of Los Angeles, 15 miles south of the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne. SpaceX is getting a lot of support for its Mars mission from NASA, along with contracts for cargo delivery. Another federal agency, the Securities and Exchange Commission, has taken a dim view of Musk, but that’s getting worked out with a federal judge approving Musk’s settlement with the SEC. Musk’s mission to Mars goes back before he came over to Tesla. In 2002, he founded the space travel and exploration company through his frustration that NASA wasn’t doing enough to get humans to Mars. It’s typical to see him featured in interviews wearing his “Occupy Mars” t-shirt to get the message across.

Highlights from AltCar Expo:  AltCar Expo speakers talked about the key issues that government regulators, fleet managers, automakers, and technology partners are facing deploying clean vehicles and supporting clean fuels and energy in California. The popular ride-and-drive was a showcase for green vehicles of all types, including the debut of Electra Meccanica’s Solo single-passenger electric vehicle. The Audi etron 55 quattro was displayed and discussed in a panel by Audi of America’s Spencer Reeder; and attendees had a preview of the new Chanje V8100 Generation 2 Model of the electric van by the Chinese manufacturer.

Terry Tamminen, who now serves as CEO at the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, talked about the lack of clear understanding in the federal government over climate change and its devastating impact from Hurricane Michael and other signs of dire conditions. Former head of California’s Environmental Protection Agency and later Cabinet Secretary under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tammimen served as architect of key legislative changes including the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, the Hydrogen Highway Network, and the Million Solar Roofs Initiative. He sees California playing a critical role in the future of government policy and supporting growth in clean transportation. The state’s mandate to have 100% renewable energy by 2045, and tapping into more renewables to power the state’s energy grid, are signs of the state’s commitment to fight climate change. The cost of electricity dropping from $4 a watt when Schwarzenegger took office to under $1 a watt now is a sign the economic dynamics are coming together, as well, he said.

Santa Monica city council member, and Innogy e-Mobility US strategy and market development head, Terry O’Day, had a conversation with annual AltCar award winner Phillip Kobernick, Logistics Service Manager for County of Alameda, about the latest in Bay Area developments for clean vehicles and infrastructure. The county’s fleet now has 300 hybrid vehicles and 80 all-electric vehicles in its 1,300-vehicle fleet. Hybrid police patrol cars, motorpools, and car-sharing programs are supporting these efforts, he said. The County of Alameda and other government fleets in the region are tapping into incentives for chargers being purchased and installed, with the county reaching about 1,400 charger locations, he said. Kobernick offered three suggestions for meeting sustainability targets: gaining better data from EV usage patterns, similar to what’s available now on gasoline-engine vehicles; more charging options based on fleet vehicle duty cycles — such as when Level 1 charging can work and nighttime charging; and becoming smart users in the electricity grid — how to work with utilities on avoiding being penalized with extra fees during peak demand periods. He’s also interested in exploring whether battery swapping might work in EVs, such as police patrol cars that don’t have downtime to wait for charging.

Stay tuned for an upcoming video link in Green Auto Market that will show the Friday speakers. That will also include “Is California Past the Turning Point?” moderated by Marco Anderson, Southern California Association of Governments and featuring Clinton Bench of UCLA Transportation, Kobernick, and Ken Reichley of Southern California Edison. “Are Auto Makers Truly Committed to Low- and No-Emissions Technology?” was moderated by Sue Carpenter of KPCC “Take Two” and featured Anthony Luzi of Electra Meccanica and Spencer Reeder of Audi of America. Reeder also discussed where Volkswagen’s Electrify America program will be going in the next couple of years.

Amazon bringing in delivery fleet operators, Jaguar Land Rover upping its EV investments

Amazon building delivery network:  Amazon has taken another step to disrupt transportation through its new Delivery Service Partners program, which is creating a network of small business owners operating fleets of up to 40 delivery vehicles. Hundreds of small business owners may join, which could further take share away from UPS, FedEx, and the US Postal Service. Those joining the new network will get training and use of logistics technology from Amazon. Participating businesses can get discounts on vehicles, uniforms, fuels, and insurance. In recent years, Amazon has been building its logistics and transportation presence through air freight delivery, heavy-duty trucks, and the Amazon Flex network of independent contractors. President Donald Trump has criticized Amazon for getting the U.S. Postal Service to deliver its packages at bargain prices and for paying “little or no taxes to state & local governments,” according to one of his tweets.

Looking at the Big Picture: Green Auto Market’s take on developments impacting the auto industry, global economy, and clean transportation.

Jaguar Land Rover has upped its investments in electrified vehicles by 26% — now up to 13.5 billion pounds ($18 billion) over the next three years. The British automaker plans to offer electrified versions of all its nameplates. The company has seen its diesel vehicle sales drop and low profitability led to negative cash flow. JLR plans to produce by 2025 three versions of all its vehicles, including those powered by petroleum fuels, batteries, or a combination of both. The automaker will only offer all-electric versions of its product lineup if there is enough demand, a company spokesman said. This year has seen introduction of the Jaguar I-Pace all-electric crossover. The company plans to use its China factory to produce an EV such as the I-Pace, where competitive brands Audi to Mercedes are investing money to dominate that part of the market.

Volt getting faster charger:  General Motors has cut charging time down for the 2019 Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid nearly in half by doubling the kilowatt capacity. The new 7.2 kilowatt charging system reduces the charging time from about 4.5 hours to 2.3 hours with a 240-volt outlet, GM said Thursday. The enhanced charging system is standard on the Volt Premier trim and will be available as an option on LT trim for the 2019 model year. Range will remain the same on the 2019 model, with 53 miles of battery only and total range of 420 miles on gasoline and electricity.

Tesla Model 3 hits more snags:  Tesla’s struggles to hit Model 3 production continue, with a fourth assembly line added this month under a tent at its Fremont, Calif., plant. Reaching the 5,000 units per week by the end of June isn’t looking good. Battery supplier Panasonic has been facing supply shortages, which would affect Tesla at the Nevada Gigafactory. There have also been two fires at the Fremont plant this month that forced temporary production halts. Reaching the overall target has been a missed mark for Tesla ever since the beginning of Model 3 output.

Hyundai enters energy storage market:  Hyundai Motor Group is working with Finnish corporation Wärtsilä for second-life electric vehicle batteries to reach the growing energy storage market. The global partnership will combine HMG’s expansion in electric vehicles with Wärtsilä’s growing energy business, which includes 67 GW of installed power plants and advanced energy storage technologies and software created through the acquisition of Greensmith Energy. It will tap into Wärtsilä’s existing customer and channel networks across 177 countries globally. Hyundai joins up with several other global automakers, such as Nissan, Tesla, and BMW, now serving the energy storage market.

Lyft raising more capital:  Ride-hailing firm Lyft has raised $600 million in a funding round led by Fidelity Management & Research Company, a subsidiary of Fidelity Investments and a prior Lyft investor. The company could raise up to $1 billion if its able to secure a strategic investor. Prior rounds have included General Motors and Chinese ride-hailing leader Didi Chuxing. Lyft has raised over $4.91 billion in venture capital and private equity funding, according to Crunchbase data. It’s market valuation is now at about $15 billion, double what it was during an April 2017 valuation. Lyft continues to battle Uber for ride-hailing and ride-sharing customers, and has been slowly expanding its presence beyond the U.S. market.

Kroger entering autonomous delivery business:  Grocery retailer Kroger is offering same-day autonomous vehicle deliveries through a partnership with self-driving vehicle startup Nuro. A pilot project will start this fall in several markets yet to be announced. It will use Nuro’s electric pod vehicles for short-range deliveries. The startup hopes to have a strong presence in “last-mile delivery” in markets such as groceries, dry cleaning, meals, an item left at a friends house, and other services. Kroger, which runs the Ralph’s grocery chain, has been getting ready to compete directly with Amazon and its grocery delivery service.

 

Electric buses will make up half of market by 2025, Midwest EVOLVE and Clean Cities supporting EV adoption in region

China dominating electric bus market:  Electric buses are becoming a major force in global vehicle electrification, with China playing a big part in its future. Nearly half of the municipal buses on roads worldwide will be electric by 2025, according to a report from
Bloomberg New Energy Finance. That will mean last year’s 386,000 units sold will go up to 1.2 million in the next seven years. Strong domestic support and aggressive city-level targets will mean China accounts for 99% of the world’s battery-powered buses by 2025, the report said. Last year’s electric bus sales dropped from 115,700 sold in China in 2016 to 89,546 last year due to policy changes and incentives being cut back during that time. This year will see changes as policy from national and local/city governments start to collide, according to a Clean Technica report. Hydrogen fuel cell buses will see an increasing trend as Chinese governments provide more support and subsidies. The Bloomberg report is taking a more optimistic view overall on electric bus growth with China supporting electric buses aggressively.

Two Chinese bus makers are dominating the domestic market – Yutong and BYD. BYD is the leading electric bus manufacturer, and Yutong is the largest overall bus manufacturer in the country. The EV manufacturer not long ago supplied 20 electric coaches to two Macao tourism enterprises in China. BYD continues to be active in other global markets, including supplying buses in the U.S. to transit districts. The Chinese company just announced it will supply 11 BYD ADL Enviro200EV single deckers operated by Go-Ahead London for the Transport for London. They’ll be similar to other BYD electric buses already on London roads operated by Go-Ahead London.

Renewable CNG case studies:  The U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory and Energy Vision released two case studies of successful projects utilizing renewable compressed natural gas (R-CNG) from anaerobic digesters capturing biogases coming from decomposing organic waste. One case study looks at Fair Oaks Farms, an Indiana dairy cooperative with roughly 36,000 cows, where biogases power its milk tanker trucks. The other study explored the Sacramento BioDigester, the first food-waste digester in California to turn commercial organic waste into R-CNG vehicle fuel using anaerobic digestion.

Midwest EVOLVE and Clean Cities bringing more EV experience to the region:  Midwest EVOLVE and its Clean Cities coalition partners are rolling out events offering a hands-on experience to test drive electric vehicles available locally, to help consumers and fleets make sound purchase decisions. One of these will be taking place February 10-19 during the 2018 Chicago Auto Show, where attendees will have the chance to test drive vehicles such as the all-new 2018 Nissan Leaf, 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, and 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. Chicago Area Clean Cities Coalition is hosting the test drives in partnership with the Midwest EVOLVE program. The American Lung Association is a key sponsor to Midwest EVOLVE. The Clean Cities partners include Twin Cities Clean Cities Coalition, Chicago Area Clean Cities, Clean Fuels Ohio, Earth Day Coalition, Greater Lansing Area Clean Cities, North Dakota Clean Cities, South Shore Clean Cities, and Wisconsin Clean Cities.

A few of these Clean Cities coalitions active in Midwest EVOLVE will be hosting their own events this year. Clean Fuels Ohio is highlighting electric vehicles at auto shows throughout Ohio. Wisconsin Clean Cities recently announced the debut of The Electric Room at the 2018 Greater Milwaukee Auto Show, representing the first all-electric vehicle display in that auto show’s history.The Electric Room will feature the latest in electrified vehicles and charging stations. The Greater Milwaukee Auto Show is taking place Feb. 24 through March 4.