by Jon LeSage, editor and publisher, Green Auto Market
Here’s my take on the 10 most significant and interesting occurrences during the past week…….
- Top sales month ever: June saw the largest-ever total sales figure for U.S. plug-in electric vehicle sales. There were 13,772 PEVs were sold, made up of 7,678 battery electric vehicles and 6,094 plug-in hybrids. The previous record was in December 2015, when 13,274 were sold. That was nearly half the hybrid sales number, which came in at 27,679 new vehicles sold in June. The Tesla Model S came back as the number one seller at 2,800 units sold and the Model X came in at number two with 2,000 units sold (based on estimates). The Chevrolet Volt continues to do well at 1,937 units sold, up 58.1% over June 2015. The Ford Fusion Energi and Chevrolet Spark EV also had substantial increases over last year, while the Nissan Leaf was down 47.2% in sales from June 2015. Hybrid sales were down almost 10% from May, and almost 15% from June 2016. The Toyota Prius line is seeing decline, with the Prius c and Prius v both down significantly.
- Volkswagen is considering teaming up with an electric car battery supplier such as LG Chem or Panasonic Corp. as it emerges from the diesel-emissions scandal, according to people familiar with the matter. VW’s supervisory board also discussed investing around $1.89 billion per factory at several sites around the world. The German automaker confirmed that it’s examining options and considering multiple locations to make batteries for a sales volume of between two and three million purely electric-powered cars by 2025.
- Autopilot investigation: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating a July 1 crash in Pennsylvania of a Tesla Model X to determine whether Tesla’s Autopilot function, a semi-autonomous technology that helps drivers steer and stay in lanes, was at play. NHTSA is currently probing a May 7 fatality of a Tesla Model S driver using Autopilot. Tesla said it received an automated alert from the car indicating airbags had been deployed, but never received logs containing details about the state of vehicle controls — which would indicate whether Autopilot was on or off. NHTSA said it was collecting information from state police, Tesla and the driver, Albert Scaglione of Farmington Hills, Mich. In a separate news story, the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating whether Tesla should have disclosed the fatal May 7 accident to its investors.
- Automakers frustrated with ZEV credits: California is contemplating new zero emission vehicle (ZEV) requirements, making automakers frustrated with the cost and whether electric vehicle sales figures will reach the mark. ZEV credits have been flooding the system and automakers may now be able to fulfill their requirements with as little as 6% of their fleets consisting of all-electric or fuel-cell vehicles, said Dan Sperling, founding director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis. To bring those figures back in line, the state may increase its ZEV requirement, said Sperling, who serves on the ARB board. Automakers earn credits to reach those goals. Companies that exceed the standards, like Tesla Motors, can sell their extra credits to Honda and other carmakers that don’t. The rapid sales growth by Tesla and the increasing range of other EVs have the state contemplating new requirements.
- Read all about “10 States That Charge Extra Fees On Plug-in Cars” in HybridCars.com. The articles features details on programs offered in Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming.
- LCFS support letter: A letter has been sent to California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De León and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon by 57 producers and related business associations stating that California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard policy is working and generating jobs. The LCFS has already helped to reduce 16.6 million tons of harmful carbon pollution, grow clean fuel use by 36%, and avoid the need for 6.6 billion gallons of petroleum, according to the group. “The more than 50 fuel producers and providers that signed this letter strongly back this policy because they know it is driving innovation and investment, and will lead California to a better transportation future,” said CALSTART President and CEO, John Boesel.
- Navigant report on NGVs: A new report from Navigant Research examines the global market for the deployment of natural gas (NG) refueling infrastructure, including an analysis of key deployment factors, with forecasts segmented by compressed NG (CNG) and liquefied NG (LNG), through 2026. “Despite the decline in oil prices, stricter emissions and fuel economy regulations mean that NG remains a very attractive alternative to gasoline and diesel in many regions and vehicle applications where electrification is not a practical alternative,” says Sam Abuelsamid, senior research analyst with Navigant Research. “While slowing growth in China is having an impact on vehicle sales, the number of NG refueling stations globally is still projected to swell at a 4.4 percent compound annual growth rate during the next decade.”
- Lyft may work with chauffeured service: Carey International is pursuing a partnership with Lyft that would become the first and largest alliance between a major chauffeured vehicle service and a transportation network company (TNC), according to LCT Magazine. It’s been a stunning revelation for the chauffeured transportation industry, which has been fighting Lyft and Uber in the regulatory arena over passenger safety, insurance, and duty-of-care issues.
- UberGreen comes to South Africa: Uber has set up a new agreement with BMW and Nissan in Johannesburg, South Africa. Called UberGreen, environmentally conscious users are able to assure that their transport car is a Nissan Leaf or BMW i3. It also provides better pay to the driver, and for now is a six week pilot project.
- Express Drive: General Motors and Lyft will expand their Express Drive short-term rental program to California and Colorado, building on an effort that GM President Dan Ammann said has “dramatically exceeded expectations.” It will open up first in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Denver. It started up in Boston, and GM says that location has maxed out its available seats for drivers in under four days, suggesting there’s been strong demand wherever the partnership opens shop.