Tesla says goodbye to innovative CTO Straubel, BYD and Toyota partnering to bring EVs to China

Tesla losing Straubel:  Tesla, Inc., has taken a big loss with the departure of one of its founders, chief technology officer JB Straubel. At the beginning of Wednesday’s quarterly report, CEO Elon Musk made the stunning announcement along with news on the delivery of 95,356 electric vehicles during the past quarter. Straubel is credited with playing a pivotal role in the development of Tesla’s power systems and battery technology. The photo you see is of Straubel from 2004 in his backyard gluing lithium ion batteries to a case as part of the company’s first concept vehicle. Retiring at age 43, Straubel was still in his twenties when he became convinced that new and innovative li-ion batteries could become the power source for mass produced EVs. Straubel met Musk in 2003, when they had lunch in Los Angeles near the headquarters of Musk’s other passion in life — his rocket company, Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX). Two other entrepreneurs, Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, were in on the early days of the company, working with Straubel and Musk to launch the company. Eberhard and Tarpenning left Tesla in 2008, as disputes came up over the future of the company — and as Musk exerted more control.

Straubel brought a much needed calm and balance to Musk’s approach to running the company, which includes Musk making extreme demands of the company’s corporate leadership and workforce. He was known for providing insight and clarity to the technical points that could come up with shareholders and Tesla engineers. His role as a problem-solving engineer has come through as the company has had to overcome several obstacles. He’s been known for being much more easygoing and approachable than the CEO — and that’s included participating at Tesla vehicle rides and demos. He’s also become known as a leading innovator in EV batteries, energy storage, and propulsion. It’s now his time to move on. “It has been a really tough decision because I feel like I’m letting a lot of people down,” Straubel said. “But, also, you have to live life. I love inventing and creating and building things and am at peace knowing that about myself and wanting to reorient my life. I’m decompressing for a bit and having a little break, but I will have more to say in a few weeks.”

Four automakers backing California standards, Colorado makes deal on ZEVs:  Ford, BMW, Honda, and Volkswagen, signed a deal Thursday with the California Air Resources Board to comply with the state’s clean air admissions standards. They’re now siding with California’s mandate to produce fleets averaging around 51 miles per gallon by 2026, one year after the Obama-era target. This precedes an expected announcement later this summer from the Trump administration on a rollback of existing fuel economy and emissions standard targets, and taking away California’s right to set more stringent rules under the Clean Air Act (i.e., one national standard) to avoid what a Trump spokesman called a “PR stunt.” California’s Governor Gavin Newsom spoke to reporters on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, with vehicle emissions being “perhaps the most significant thing this state can do, and this nation can do, to advance those goals. The Trump administration is hellbent on rolling them back. They are in complete denialism about climate change.”

In related news, automaker trade groups representing 99 percent of U.S. car and truck sales made an agreement with the state of Colorado to join the California zero emission vehicle program starting in the 2023 model year. The state agreed to allow automakers to earn credits for selling electric vehicles in the two model years prior and use other transitional credits available in other states. The Colorado agreement must be approved by the state’s Air Quality Control Commission at a meeting set for later this month. The automaker trade groups issued a statement praising the state’s flexibility in addressing their concerns “by providing the support Coloradans need to buy electric vehicles while allowing auto manufacturers to transition into Colorado’s ZEV program.”

Comeback for diesel engines:  The 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 won the ranking as the most fuel-efficient light-duty truck on the market. General Motors’ pickup achieves an EPA-estimated 33 mpg on the highway and 23 mpg in the city when equipped with the new 3-liter inline six-cylinder Duramax diesel engine and rear-wheel drive. Its the first diesel engine offered in a Chevy light-duty truck since 1997. Light-to-heavy-duty pickups trucks have been a saving point for diesel engines since the September 2015 collapse following Volkswagen’s confession that the company had been dishonest about emissions reporting in its “clean diesel” passenger cars. Now GM will be following market leader Ford on the diesel pickup side, with Ford leading from sales of 94,626 diesel light and heavy-duty pickup trucks during the first half of this year.

Will 5G networks make it?:  One significant area to follow is how the new 5G wireless networks are facing an uphill battle for becoming the industry norm. The stakes are huge, with 5G ready to help save thousands of lives in self-driving cars, along with reducing traffic congestion and emissions. Europe is trying out auctioning off its bandwidth spectrum to monetize the new technology, a very expensive prospect for wireless carriers and partners. Check out this commentary by Roger C. Lanctot, a Strategy Analytics executive, on the challenges BMW and its German partner Deutsche Telekom have in building a consistent and reliable network of 5G wireless connectivity in the market. It’s a challenge faced in the U.S. and other key global markets adopting 5G. “We don’t need 10 Mbit/s, but rather basic bandwidth and guaranteed latency. We need coverage,” said BMW senior VP of electronics Christoph Grote at the recent Automobil-Elektronik Kongress in Ludwigsburg, Germany.

China partnership:  BYD and Toyota announced on July 19 in Toyota City, Japan, that they have signed an agreement for the joint development of battery electric vehicles, which will be electric sedans and sport-utility vehicles. The two parties will jointly develop sedans and low-floor SUVs as well as the onboard batteries for these vehicles and others. They’ll be launched in the Chinese market under the Toyota brand at some point in the first half of the 2020s. This joint venture partnership will help resolve Toyota’s ambitions to use electric vehicles to break into China, the market where the company remains well behind other global automakers. It also ties into climate change strategies as both BYD and Toyota seek to reduce carbon emissions by promoting the widespread use of BEVs.

Tesla settling with SEC over fraud lawsuit, EDTA reports two thirds spike in plug-in sales

Tesla settling SEC fraud suit:  Tesla Inc. may see the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s securities fraud lawsuit settled through a joint filing Wednesday to the federal judge overseeing the case. The settlement means that CEO Elon Musk will be stepping down as chairman for three years, and that two new independent directors will be appointed to the board. Musk will be paying $20 million, and Tesla will pay another $20 million, in fines distributed to harmed investors. Musk’s insulting tweet last week on Thursday, mentioning that the SEC is changing its name to “Shortseller Enrichment Commission.”

While outgoing Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. CEO James Murdoch has been said to likely be appointed the next chairman, Musk tweeted that “This is incorrect.” That comment was directed at a Financial Times report that the son of Fox mogul Rupert Murdoch would be taking one of Musk’s titles. Murdoch joined Tesla’s board last year after years of work with media companies.

EDTA reports spike in plug-in sales:  The number of plug-in vehicles sold from January through September 2018 is a 64% increase over the same period last year in the U.S., according to the Electric Drive Transportation Association’s sales dashboard. EDTA reported that there has been 229,874 total plug-in vehicles sales in 2018, with battery electric vehicles (BEVs) at 144,505 and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) at 85,369 through the end of September. Sales between the two segments were close during the first half of this year, with BEVs taking a leap in the third quarter. During September, BEVs made up 34,046 of the U.S. total and PHEVs made up 10,543 units. EDTA also reported a new look for the dashboard and updates to its research methods.

BYD wins major electric bus deal:  BYD will be helping Vancouver’s largest private bus operator, WESTCOAST Sightseeing, to become a 100% clean-energy fleet by 2023. That deal will consist of 90 electric buses of various types, with the Chinese maker being named the exclusive supplier to WESTCOAST. BYD’s North America manufacturing unit, based in Lancaster, Calif., has taken orders for over 600 electric buses. The company has invested more than $250 million and has delivered 270 of the electric buses so far. BYD is also building electric commercial trucks to serve fleets outside the bus sector.

 

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.

 

New compensation for Musk based on huge expectations for Model 3 sales, Be realistic about investing in cryptocurrency

Musk’s performance compensation:  Tesla, Inc., has announced a new compensation package for CEO Elon Musk this week based entirely on performance — and expectations that the company’s market valuation will be more than 10 times larger than it is today. The company announced that it has started a 10-year CEO performance package based entirely on the automaker’s market cap growing from the current level of $50 billion to more than $650 billion over the next decade. A similar program had been enacted in 2012, with Musk more than hitting the mark. A few market analysts at Seeking Alpha, and news media reports, have been waiving the flag about how realistic the company’s assessment of where it stands with Model 3 production, which will play a very large role in how the company is valued and whether Musk’s new compensation package will work.

Fuel economy standards coming up:  The federal government’s re-examination of fuel economy standards will be strictly based on scientific data gathering and analysis, said William Wehrum, EPA assistant administrator of air and radiation in a speech at the Washington Auto Show. A deadline of April 1 is coming up for review of the fuel economy and emissions standards, which has been a hot topic during transition over at the White House. The EPA has been working to leave behind prior research methods and instead adopt more real-world conditions in an objective, fact-based methodology.

RNG growing in sales:  Clean Energy Fuels Corp. said that sales of it Redeem renewable natural gas (RNG) fuel offering grew by 32% in 2017, from 60 million gallons in 2016 to 79 million gallons in 2017. The 2017 volume from Clean Energy represents over half of the overall United States RNG production as reported by the Environmental Protection Agency through December, the company said.

Watching cryptocurrency:  Starting up a cleantech, clean transportation company and looking for some seed money? Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency has grabbed a great deal of interest in recent months in energy, automotive, technology, and other industries as a viable and growing source of capital. It’s based on a technology called blockchain, which keeps a database of every transaction and uses universal cryptocurrency as the commodity. Navigant Research just sent out a warning after studying date from CoinSchedule.com showing that 325 initial coin offering events last year raised $3.7 billon that is still being examined by the Securities and Exchange Commission on how to regulate this new currency. There’s also the fraud side of the business with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission recently filing complaints.

Stay on the lookout, warns Navigant Research: “The answer is that a yawning gap exists between announcing a project and treating the underlying technology seriously, just as there is a gap between announcing an initial coin offering (ICO) and having a real and sustainable product. Projects like this only help blockchain progress if the companies behind the announcements have a legitimate purpose beyond capitalizing on the world’s blockchain fever.”

Tesla reveals the long-range semi, What drunk driving means for self-driving cars

Newsworthy:  Tesla revealed its electric semi truck at a long-awaited Los Angeles unveiling last night. CEO Elon Musk bragged that it will go 500 miles per charge, with 400 of those miles capable of being charged in 30 minutes. An even faster charge may be coming, too. The heavy-duty truck will be able to go zero to 60 in five seconds, and can hit 60 mph in 20 seconds with an 80,000 pound payload. Musk said that it will make a real difference in the commercial truck market with its cost savings and driver comfort features. It will also save truckers a lot in maintenance costs, with Musk expecting the trucks to not break down until they pass the one million mile mark. The Tesla chief also said that the semi truck will be able to work in a three-truck convoy, reducing its cost per mile for the fleet down to $0.85 per mile, versus diesel being at about $1.25 per mile. The truck was revealed in a larger, long-haul version and a day cab without a sleeper. Attendees at the event were also able to view a new version of the Tesla Roadster roll out of the semi’s trailer. The sports car now has a removable glass roof. Musk said the Roadster will be the fastest car in production on the market with a maximum speed of 250 mph; and the ability to go from 0 to 60 in 1.9 seconds. It can go up to 620 miles on a single charge, a record for production-level electric vehicles………. Toyota is thinking about forging a joint-venture alliance with a Chinese automaker to build electric vehicles locally and meet new energy vehicle mandates issued by the government. China will be starting a quota requirement for all-electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles beginning in 2019 with an ambitious target of seeing 2 mission NEV sales by 2020; and a potential phase-out of fossil-fuel powered vehicles. Toyota currently operates JV companies in the country with China FAW Group Corp and Guangzhou Automobile Group………  Daimler AG will be investing 5 billion yuan ($755 million) in China for factory capacity to manufacture electric cars and their battery packs. The company wants to be well prepared for its Mercedes-Benz and Smart brands comply with new energy vehicle mandates.

Safe automated driving:  A warning sign on California freeways says that “Buzzed driving is drunk driving.” A few other states have similar public education campaigns. What is the meaning of driving buzzed, and does it have anything to do with California and a few other states legalizing marijuana consumption? No, it has to do with a key issue state regulators and safety analysts bring up – the need to eliminate drunk driving and the necessity of bringing self-driving cars to U.S. roads. Buzzed driving refers to driving a car with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .01% to .07%. That’s slightly under the .08% BAC standard used in most state’s drunk driving laws; but there’s been a great deal of concern that while .01% to .07% is legal for drivers, it can be just as dangerous as .08% or higher drunk driving for some of them. Self-driving cars are expected to dramatically reduce the highway fatality rate by taking away control of the car from drunk drivers being part of it. Drunk driving is still the leading cause of fatal crashes in the U.S. Last year was one of the worst ever, with an average of 20 people per day killed in DUI crashes. Safety experts have shared concerns about states legalizing marijuana and its possible side effects on road safety. That’s not measurable in a BAC standard used in drunk driving, but it may become part of state legislation in the future. Ride-hailing firms like Uber and Lyft have successfully tapped into concerns over drunk driving and see their rides as providing a solution to the problem. Uber and Lyft drivers have stories about riders expressing gratitude for their services, not having risked drunk driving after an evening at a night club or party. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has been working with Uber in recent years to inform people that taking an Uber ride is much safer than getting behind the wheel after they’ve been drinking.

For Today: Judge rules against Waymo’s damages expert, Tesla acquires Perbix to help speed up Model 3 production

Waymo faces tough ruling by judge:  Alphabet’s Waymo is facing a serious challenge in making its court case that Uber is guilty of stealing intellectual property behind its innovative self-driving car technology. The federal judge in San Francisco hearing the trial has excluded Waymo’s damages expert, Michael Wagner, from the case; and has restricted use of financial evidence at the trial, according to a docket entry. Waymo claims that it has received damages worth about $1.9 billion in losses. Uber has denied using intellectual property that had allegedly been stolen by former Waymo engineer Anthony Levandowski. Waymo responded to the judge’s decision with a statement that it could still pursue full damages using “the same documents” relied upon by Wagner.

Making hydrogen even cleaner:  Hydrogen fuel station company True Zero says that fuel cell vehicles in California have driven 17 million miles and have used 250,000 kilograms (250 metric tons) of clean hydrogen. That’s come from fuel supplied to 18 retail stations owned and operated by the company. There are now 31 stations open across California, supported by California Energy Commission grant funding. Two-thirds of True Zero’s hydrogen comes from fossil fuels, such as natural gas. One third comes from renewable sources such as biomass; the company says that it is working to increase the use of renewable hydrogen.

Tesla acquires automation company to speed production:  Tesla has acquired a company to further automation at its manufacturing facilities, opening the door to increase production of its closely watched Model 3. Perbix, a maker of automated machines used for manufacturing, has been acquired by Tesla after nearly three years of working with the electric carmaker. Tesla has declined to disclose the cost of the acquisition and other details. Tesla will be expanding Perbix’ operations in the Minneapolis area, where the supplier is based. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has recently been making comments about the automation challenges holding up hitting the production timeline that had originally been set for the $35,000 Model 3. In other news, Jon Wagner, Tesla’s director of battery engineering, has left the company and is launching a battery and powertrain startup in California.

 

For Today: Mahindra investing $600M in EVs, Tesla fires hundreds of workers

Mahindra investing more in EVs:  India’s electric vehicle market is seeing more support coming from Mahindra & Mahindra, which just announced a $600 million investment in the technology. Electric versions of its current crossover SUVs will be scheduled in the near future. Mahindra had just lost a bid for a 10,000 EV contract with the government’s Energy Efficiency Services Limited agency to its main Indian competitor, Tata Motors. Mahindra was awarded part of the contract after lowering prices to match Tata’s lowest bid; the company admitted it won’t make any profits off the sales of its eVerito electric sedan to the Indian agency. Tata was able to win the majority of the contract even though it has yet to manufacture any EVs. Mahindra has been in the segment for a few years with its e20 and e20 plus small electric hatchback models, the eVerito electric sedan, the eSupro electric van, and the e-Alfa Mini three-wheeler. The government wants to stop sales of fossil-fuel powered vehicles and is supporting electric vehicle development. The company’s subsidiary, Mahindra Electric, will operate as a separate entity supplying components to the Mahindra & Mahindra company, which will manufacture the EVs. The company currently operates a battery manufacturing plant and hopes to set up another larger facility soon.

Paris saying goodbye to fossil-fuel cars:  The city of Paris wants to speed up the elimination of gasoline- and diesel-powered cars by ending their sales starting in 2030. France had already set a target date of 2040 for banning sales of cars running on fossil fuels. The nation’s capital, which will host the summer Olympics in 2024 and not long ago hosted a worldwide agreement on climate change, had already been moving toward banning diesel cars by the time of the Olympics. City officials said it will probably not be a formal ban, but will be introducing a deadline to phase out internal-combustion engine vehicles. “This is about planning for the long term with a strategy that will reduce greenhouse gases,” said Christophe Najdovski, an official responsible for transport policy at the office of Mayor Anne Hidalgo. “Transport is one of the main greenhouse gas producers…. so we are planning an exit from combustion engine vehicles, or fossil-energy vehicles, by 2030.”

Tesla employees terminated at crucial time:  Tesla has fired hundreds of employees, according to a recent report in the San Jose Mercury News, as pressure mounts to build more of the Model 3 sedans. Workers estimated between 400 and 700 employees have been fired, including engineers, managers, and factory workers. Tesla wouldn’t say how many employees were let go, although the company expects employee turnover to be similar to last year’s attrition. They were not layoffs, the company said, but were dismissals based on a company-wide annual review. In interviews with the newspaper, former and current employees said there was little or no warning was given prior to the dismissals. “As with any company, especially one of over 33,000 employees, performance reviews also occasionally result in employee departures,” a Tesla spokesman said. “Tesla is continuing to grow and hire new employees around the world.”

For Today: Elon Musk gets Whitehouse greenlight for east coast tunnels, Chrysler only marketing Pacifica as a plug-in hybrid in California

Tesla CEO gaining support for fast train tunnels:  Elon Musk’s The Boring Company received approval from the White House to build a series of tunnels that could run from New York City to Washington, D.C. “Just received verbal govt approval for The Boring Company to build an underground NY-Phil-Balt-DC Hyperloop. NY-DC in 29 mins,” he tweeted yesterday. He later tweeted out that formal approval with the Trump administration is still needed, but after discussions they’ve had, he’s confident the project will be able to move forward. That could bring fast Hyperloop-like trains to Los Angeles and important transport routes on the east coast.

Freight haulers ask feds to keep SmartWay:  Major freight shippers, including Walmart, are asking U.S. House and Senate appropriations committees to restore funding for the voluntary SmartWay clean trucking program. Like several clean transportation programs, it had been cut from the Trump administration’s 2018 federal budget proposal. SmarWay has been working with freight haulers to save an estimated eight billion gallons of fuel and significantly reduce diesel trucks’ emissions of NOx and carcinogenic fine particulate matter. The coalition of companies said in a July 14 letter that the program has saved companies about $27.8 billion in fuel costs since it started in 2004.

Chrysler Pacifica plugging into California:  Chrysler is marketing its Pacifica minivan as a hybrid – and not what it really is, a plug-in hybrid – in every state except California. The Fiat Chrysler Automobiles division is concerned that most U.S. consumers will be confused or concerned about having to charge for the first time and be subject to range anxiety. Plugging in is less of a worry in California, which has made up about half of U.S. plug-in vehicle sales. Still, it is possible to occasionally see Chrysler billboard ads in the state that only identify the Pacifica as a hybrid.

For Today: Hyperloop One ready to move forward, OPEC and oil companies see electric cars taking away oil demand

Hyperloop One test:  Hyperloop One is getting ready to test out its 28-foot-long pod in Nevada in the next few weeks, the startup said. Inspired by Tesla CEO Elon Musk in 2013, Los Angeles-based Hyperloop One is ready to take the pod transport through vacuum tubes in what could someday be a very fast ride between San Francisco and LA. The goal is to reach 250 miles per hour, which would shorten the car trip quite a bit.

Automated trucks:  Speakers at the Automated Vehicles Symposium in San Francisco on Wednesday expect that autonomous heavy-duty trucks will on the road in as little as three years – sooner than expected for light-duty passenger vehicles. Going to fully autonomous mode will take a while longer for commercial trucks, as it will for cars. Trucking companies are fascinated with the technology for its potential to make truck transport safer, improve customer service, and to help drivers become more productive. “A lot of the technology is driver assist or safety enhancement”, said Max Fuller, executive chairman of U.S. Xpress, a major U.S. trucking company. “If you look at [autonomous vehicles], it will come in pieces.”

Electric cars and oil demand:  Bloomberg New Energy Finance released a study today forecasting that electric cars will be reducing oil demand significantly by 2040. That comes from forecasts presented by OPEC, Exxon Mobil, and BP. OPEC quintupled its forecast for sales of plug-in sales, while Exxon Mobil, BP, and other oil producers also revised up their outlooks in the past year.

For Today: Musk taking first Model 3 as birthday present, PEVs offer way for automakers to hit fuel economy target

Musk gets birthday present: Tesla started production of the Model 3 on Friday, and CEO Elon Musk will be taking the very first one off the line. Musk tweeted on Saturday with two photos of the first model to roll off the production line. Tesla board member Ira Ehrenpreis had been the first make a down payment on the Model 3, but had turned over his rights to the first production model to Musk as a birthday gift. Musk, who turned 46, had previously purchased the very first Tesla Roadster and Model X, but not the Model S. The company is scheduled to deliver 30 of these units by the end of this month and aims to reach 20,000 units per month by December.

Oregon offers rebates:  Oregon is offering a plug-in vehicle incentive similar to California’s. Cars with batteries up to 10 kilowatt-hours, will receive a $1,500 rebate and electric cars with larger batteries will get $2,500. It’s part of a larger $5.3 billion transportation funding. It took the state a few years to get there, with purchase rebates having failed a few times in previous legislative sessions. This time, $12 million was included for rebates of six years for all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles with a base price of $50,000 or less.

Hitting the federal mpg standard:  Plug-in electrified vehicles may be the way that automakers hit the federal standards for corporate average fuel economy, according to a new study. A team from the University of Central Florida and MIT has found that the federal fuel economy standard offers an effective policy solution that will increase adoption of PEVs. That will be the case whether implemented alone or with another policy such as government incentives, according to the study. The current standards determine an automaker’s compliance based on annual production volume-weighted average fuel economy of the automaker’s fleet of total vehicles manufactured. The Trump administration is expected to wait until the original deadline of April 2018 to finalize the second phase of rules through 2025; and will probably soften the standards. Selling much higher volumes of PEVs would resolve that problem; automakers will be motivated to build a wide selection of PEV models and market them effectively to hit federal targets, even if softened by the Trump administration.