Monthly Archives: July 2017

For Today: UK banning gasoline and diesel powered cars, Get ready for AltCar Expo

UK banning fossil-fuel powered cars:  The United Kingdom will be banning the sale of vehicles powered by gasoline and diesel by 2040, and would like to see all them off their roads by 2050. The UK follows France, which decided to ban all fossil-fuel powered vehicles by 2040. The mayors of London, Paris, Madrid, Mexico City, and Athens are developing their own policies for clean air and climate change, would like to ban diesel vehicles. The British government has faced legal pressure from a series of lawsuits, and the national government has been taking steps to scrap diesel-powered cars. Nearly 200 million pounds (about $261 million) will go to local governments in the UK to help them restrict access by diesel-powered vehicles to extremely polluted roads. Battery electric vehicles will probably be the route chosen by the national government to replace gasoline and diesel powered cars.

M-B motorsports joining Formula E:  Mercedes-Benz will be joining ranks with other automakers by competing in the Formula E electric racing series starting in the 2019-2020 racing season. In 2018, the automaker’s motorsports division will finish its long-term involvement with German racing series Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) to focus on Formula E. The company has been committed to racing and transitioning over to eco-friendly vehicles in recent years, including winning championships with its hybrid technology in the Formula One series. Mercedes-Benz will becomes the ninth auto manufacturer to join the series. Other automakers include Audi, BMW, Citroen DS, Jaguar, Mahindra, Renault, and electric carmaker startups Nio and Faraday Future.

Get ready for AltCar Expo:  The AltCar Expo & Conference, now in its 12th year, will be taking place in Santa Monica, Calif., on Sept. 15-16, 2017. The free admission two-day event features a series of speaker panels on pressing topics for fleets, government officials, vehicle manufacturers, technology companies, and enthusiasts interested in the issues and trying out the vehicles. AltCar Expo offers the best Ride & Drive out there, with several green cars to drive and a few commercial fleet vehicles to see. With the Trump administration deciding to exit the Paris climate accord, leaders are looking for other channels to address the issues; that includes the role California is playing.

“AltCar Expo was created to provide a forum for both industry and the general public to learn about existing alternatives to the way they use energy and transportation,” said Christine Dzilvelis, Organizing Partner of AltCar Expo. “Today, 52 percent of all Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) purchases are happening in California, and our state continues to lead the nation as it relates to clean energy policies that are driving national and global change. Our intention is for California to continue to lead in this area, and AltCar offers a venue to generate awareness about existing and future technologies and encourage their use.”

For Today: Will the Chevy Volt go away, Fisker parting ways with Nanotech on batteries

Will the Volt go away?:  General Motors is evaluating continuation of six cars, including the Chevy Volt, determining which vehicles will be continued or canceled in the coming years, Reuters reported Friday. The other five would be the Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac CT6, Cadillac XTS, Chevrolet Impala, and Chevrolet Sonic. GM declined to comment. Pressure from shareholders to increase sales may have GM tipping more to pickups, crossovers, and SUVs. It would be a shame to see, with the redesigned Volt doing well in sales – No. 3, close behind the Tesla Model S in the first six months of U.S. sales.

Toyota rolling out new energy vehicle:  Toyota may launch an electric vehicle in China by 2019, to comply with the government’s “new energy vehicle” policy with its strict mandates coming into effect. Toyota said it will introduce EVs in China in a few years, but wouldn’t confirm whether it would start in 2019. Reuters also citied Japanese newspaper Asahi on a story that it the first EV will be built on Toyota’s C-HR sport utility vehicle. The newspaper expects annual output to start at more than several thousand units.

Fisker parting ways with Nanotech:  Fisker, Inc., is ending its joint venture alliance with Nanotech Energy Inc., called Fisker Nanotech, which would have manufactured battery packs for the upcoming EMotion sporty, luxury sedan. The company would have had to focus entirely on Fisker and let other client projects slip away, which won’t work for the company to do, said Jack Kavanaugh, chairman and acting CEO of Nanotech Energy. That JV had started with the Henrik Fisker starting his new electric car company in October. The automaker will continue to “work with Nanotech on the applications of graphene,” but it will use battery cells provided by LG Chem for the EMotion, Fisker said.

 

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: Nissan Leaf coming with e-Pedal, California extending cap-and-trade funds

Nissan Leaf with e-Pedal:  Nissan has just added the e-Pedal to the upcoming refreshed Leaf electric car. Flipping a switch turns the accelerator into an e-Pedal, where you get to accelerate, decelerate, and stop the car all on one pedal. That will include driving on hills, and will ease some of the burden of being stuck in traffic – with 90% of driving needs now being met on one pedal. The new feature comes from Nissan Intelligent Mobility, which is dedicated to transforming how cars driven, powered and integrated into society. More will be revealed on e-Pedal, along with several other interesting changes, during the new Leaf launch in September.

Ports looking at Clean Air Action Plan:  The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach this week will be releasing updates to their Clean Air Action Plan. Mayors Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles and Robert Garcia of Long Beach have vowed to bring several near-zero emissions to the ports by 2035. Concerns over the increased cost of the trucks have been raised by trucking companies and others, and support for the measures has been coming from local residents, environmentalists, and an industry coalition. California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition has accelerated education efforts on the financial and environmental benefits of using renewable natural gas as a transportation fuel; that alternative fuel is expected to play a big part in the ports hitting the near-zero goal. The Coalition just hosted an RNG advocacy day in Sacramento, participated in a joint agency workshop on renewable gas, and co-hosted a webinar on the economic impacts of fueling low-NOx natural gas trucks with RNG.

Cap-and-trade continuing:  California on Monday extended the cap-and-trade program through 2030, which will raise more funds for clean vehicle programs in the state. Support came through when eight Republicans broke ranks and joined with Democrats to continue the program that came from AB 32; it requires companies to buy permits to release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Gov. Jerry Brown has been committed to adding the bullet train from Los Angeles to San Francisco, and bringing more electric vehicles and infrastructure to the state. Sources say there’s already more than $200 million available through the cap-and-trade auctions, now in their fifth year, that can go toward alternative fuels and infrastructure in the state.

For Today: Lux study on Trump’s impact on energy, Volkswagen claims it can beat Tesla Model 3 price by $8K

Lux study on impact of Trump administration:  No matter what the Trump administration’s agenda becomes on energy and environmental issues, the market is filling some of that void, according to a Lux Research analysis paper. Lux examined Trump’s America First Energy Plan and found that renewables and energy storage are well positioned to continue seeing strong growth. State-level policies have been drivers and will continue. Renewable fuels are most vulnerable to Trump’s agenda. “With uncertainty looming and the administration continuing to consider oil-and gas-friendly policies, Trump’s decision to remove the renewable fuel obligation could alter a decade-old ethanol industry,” the report said.

Despite the administration’s political agenda, the president’s actual influence will have an overall moderate impact in the U.S. energy landscape, the paper said. That seems to be the case with plug-in electrified vehicles sales in the U.S. and two other key global markets – demand is up even if federal government support may go away and the Trump administration has backed away from supporting the Paris climate accord. According to yesterday’s Green Auto Market Extended Edition, U.S., plug-in hybrid sales were up about 44% for the first half of 2017 versus that time period in 2016. Battery electric vehicle sales were up 29.2% for that period. Europe is up 27% in plug-in vehicle sales for this year (through May), with plug-in vehicle share at 1.4% of new vehicle sales during that period. In China, “new energy vehicle” sales, aka plug-in vehicle sales, reached about 195,000 sold in the first half of the year, up 14.4% year-over-year. June saw a real rebound in the China market, which had been down earlier in the year. June sales hit about 59,000 units sold, up 33.0% year-over-year. PEV sales made up about 2.7% of new vehicle sales in China during June.

Musk on AI and state sales bans:  Tesla CEO Elon Musk warned a meeting of U.S. governors on Saturday that government regulation of artificial intelligence is needed because it’s a “fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization.” Musk has taken a cautious approach to the AI question in recent years, using his experience with SpaceX missions and developing automated Tesla vehicles as reference. He addressed questions on space travel, self-driving cars, and solar power, at the summer conference of the National Governors Association in Rhode Island. He also brought up the controversial topic of states getting rid of laws blocking Tesla from selling its cars at corporate stores instead of through a franchised dealer network.

VW versus Tesla:  Volkswagen is tapping into its mass production, economies of scale advantage to sell its ID concept vehicles at a much cheaper price than the upcoming Tesla Model 3. VW’s Chief of Corporate Strategy Thomas Sedran said in an interview with German site Automobil Produktion that the starting price for an ID will be down to $27,000 before incentives – $8,000 cheaper than the $35,000 Model 3. That will still take a while as the German automaker’s ID portfolio is still in the early development phase; it will take a few years for the first one to show up at dealerships.

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: Daimler facing emissions charges, Lyft delivering a billon electric automated rides

Daimler facing emissions charges: Daimler is facing charges over having more than a million vehicles sold with excessive exhaust emissions. Mercedes-Benz models sold in the U.S. and Europe between 2008 and 2016 may have had emissions defeat devices, according to German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung. In May, Daimler was subject to a search warrant granted by the District Court of Stuttgart that led to a raid and allegations made about the defeat devices. Engines used in the Mercedes C, E, G, R, ML, S, and CLS class models badged 320 and 350 Bluetec with 3.0-liter V6 engines are being investigated; Mercedes S 250 and E 300 Bluetec models in four-cylinder diesel 1.8 and 2.2 liter models; and diesel-powered Sprinter vans.

Chinese quotas challenged:  Automaker trade groups have asked the Chinese government to delay and soften its proposed mandate for “new energy vehicles” sales quotas to be met. A letter signed by the American Automotive Policy Council (AAPC), the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA), the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) and the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association (KAMA) called penalties for non-compliance unnecessarily excessive. The new rule may require that at least a fifth of new vehicle sales will be plug-in electrified vehicles by 2025, with a staggered system of quotas beginning next year. China has been moving away from its generous subsidies paid to vehicle manufacturers and consumers to build and buy PEVs, and is transitioning over to California’s zero emission vehicle model.

Lyft makes emissions reduction commitment:  Ride-hailing firm Lyft plans to deliver at least one billion rides in electric, autonomous vehicles by 2025. That came from President Trump’s recent announcement to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement. It’s expected to reduce carbon emissions by at least five million tons by 2025. The electric cars will be powered by 100% renewable energy and it will all start with its nuTonomy vehicles coming out later this year in Boston. Lyft’s efforts will also be supported next year through a large test fleet of self-driving Chevy Bolts with its investor, General Motors. Lyft will be well positioned the three technologies that market analysts expect to shape the auto industry – electric, autonomous, and shared mobility services.

For Today: EPA chief takes aggressive stance on emissions violators, DOE grants issued for advanced vehicle technologies

Pruitt ready to go after emissions violators:  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt is ready and willing to apply his aggressive, combative stance to automakers who are violating emissions rules, as Volkswagen AG was caught doing by the agency in September 2015. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was sued by EPA in May, accused of illegally using software to bypass emission controls in 104,000 diesel engine Ram pickups and Jeep Grand Cherokees sold since 2014. He doesn’t think the Obama administration was being too aggressive when taking action on emissions violations, and it’s the duty to EPA to enforce the rules. “Look what VW, and Fiat – you have this Fiat case that is on the horizon as well. The emails and the communications that I’m aware of – it was strategic and intentional and should be dealt with very aggressively,” Pruitt said.

Koch brothers back anti-EV video:  A new video attacks electric cars as losing their environmental contributions based on what’s going into their batteries. The information used in biased and used to set up an argument against the technology. It was made by Fueling U.S. Forward, which supports fossil fuels. It’s led by Charles Drevena, a long-time oil lobbyist, and is funded by the Koch brothers, who are known for advocating fossil fuels and denying climate change. The video claims that metals such as cobalt and lithium used in electric vehicle batteries come from morally reprehensible sources. One example given is the pollution and child labor problem from the metals in the Congo. While that is happening, automakers are practicing policies to avoid purchasing rare earth metals from these markets.

DOE research grants:  The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $19.4 million for 22 new cost-shared projects to accelerate the research of advanced battery, lightweight materials, engine technologies, and energy efficient mobility systems.  Mercedes Benz and General Motors are joining a long list of university research centers, including Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Mercedes Benz is funding a project supporting solid state electrolyte membranes for high performance lithium-sulfur batteries; and GM is supporting research into pouch format cells for lithium-sulfur batteries to achieve high energy density and long cycle life.

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.

For Today: Tesla take world’s largest energy storage contract, Support needed for Clean Cities funding

World’s largest energy storage:  Tesla Energy, the electric carmaker’s battery storage unit, has taken on the world’s largest grid-scale battery project – and must get it done in 100 days. It comes from a tweet CEO Elon Musk made in March to back up South Australia with 100-megawatt-hour battery storage in 100 days or it would be free. That part of Australia has been devastated by power outages. It will be the largest lithium-ion battery storage project in the world, surpassing the second largest – an 80-MW facility in California – also supplied by Tesla Energy. Power will comes from a wind farm operated by France’s Neoen, and will be able to light up 30,000 homes in another blackout were to occur.

Electric pickup truck competition:  A new startup, Bollinger Motors, is taking on Workhorse Group and Tesla in the electric pickup truck market. New York entrepreneur Robert Bollinger brings his background in cattle ranching, cosmetics and marketing to the company – and his new business plan. Bollinger Motors will give its electric trucks easily replaceable riveted body panels and a design that allows owners to quickly convert the pickup into an SUV. Power comes from N electric drive system built from off-the shelf components but fueled with electrons from its own lithium-ion battery pack. The company is designing and assembling prototype trucks in upstate New York, and will host a reveal event in New York City on July 27.

Support funding for Clean Cities:  Transportation Energy Partners is encouraging supporters of the Dept. of Energy’s Clean Cities program to write Congress so that funding can be salvaged. The White House Budget for the next fiscal year wants to eliminate funds for Clean Cities as part of the proposed 73% cut to DOE’s overall Vehicle Technologies program. You can help save Clean Cities by adding your name to TEP’s national letter to the Congressional appropriations leaders. You’re also encourage to contact your Members of the House and Senate directly and urge them to protect funding for the DOE Clean Cities program. Here’s the link.