EV market becomes more competitive in US, Automakers navigating through chaos in Chinese market 

The Tesla Model Y is the clear global and national winner so far this year — 409,378 units sold globally through the end of August followed by Wuling Hong Guang Mini EVs at 278,838. The Telsa Model 3 was third at 268,157 vehicles sold, according to InsideEVs. BYD took six of the remaining Top 10 global units during the first eight months of this year.

Tesla still dominates the US market, but car buyers are starting to open up to alternatives more so this year than in the past. Once you get away from the obvious top two selling Teslas, the Ford Mustang Mach-E, Tesla Model S, Chevrolet Bolt, Tesla Model X, Hyundai IONIQ 5, and Kia EV6 came in fairly close together in sales during the first three quarters of this year. The Mustang Mach-E, Ioniq 5, and EV6, are newcomers to the list and are doing particularly well. 

And in other news……

A locked-down China:  Public protests aside, China continues to be a strange place to be. Driven by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s lockdown to fight Covid, automakers have had a hard time running their businesses. BMW expects to see more COVID-19-related lockdowns in China into next year, despite strong demand there for the automaker’s full-electric models and expectations of stable global sales. Honda suspended its operations in Wuhan, the city where the pandemic began in 2020, because of limitations being placed around movement enforced in the area. How long it will remain closed is yet to be seen. Jeep declared bankruptcy for its part in the GAC-FCA joint venture just months after Jeep’s parent Stellantis had increased its share in the company. Tesla and Mercedes have been taking action to stabilize their presence in China’s large electric vehicle market. Tesla is changing it marketing starting and offering insurance subsidies as part of cost cuts. Mercedes slashed the price for its flagship EQS electric sedan by as much as $33,000 to restore is share in the world’s largest EV market. Volkswagen   halted production at a joint venture plant that it has with China FAW Group on Monday of this week. The German automaker attributes the shutdown to a shortage of components.

Exhibitor information is available for the 36th Electric Vehicle Symposium and Exhibition (EVS36), taking place June 11-14, 2023 in Sacramento, Calif.  Registration for attendees opened up on Oct. 3. Organized and hosted by EDTA, it’s considered to be the premier global showcase for industry innovation and is the longest-running international conference devoted to electric transportation and technologies. Featuring compelling presentations from industry and thought leaders, a cutting-edge exposition with exhibitors from around the globe and multiple networking events, EVS36 will provide a wide array of opportunities to showcase leadership, learn from the experts and educate the public and the media about electric transportation.

California’s Advanced Clean Fleets Rule: Beyond the zero emission vehicle mandate, California is rolling out its Advanced Clean Fleets (ACF) Rule that was put together by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and later backed by Gov. Gavin Newson. It applies to drayage fleets and those operated by state, local, and federal agencies, as well as “high priority fleets.” CARB says that “high priority fleets” are companies with $50 million or more in gross annual revenue that either own, operate, or control at least one vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) greater than 8,500 pounds, or entities that own, operate, or control a total of 50 or more vehicles with a GVWR greater than 8,500 pounds. As for timeline, CARB states that 100% zero-emission drayage trucks, last mile delivery, and government fleets are in place by 2035; 100% zero-emission refuse trucks and local buses by 2040; and 100% zero-emission capable utility fleets by 2040. There are also regulatory components to the proposed rule that would affect manufacturers, local and state agencies, drayage fleets, and high priority and federal fleets that break out the mandates and timing. 

Investors not feeling good about Musk and Twitter:  According to a survey conducted by Morgan Stanley, a bulk of investors are distressed by the drag on Tesla shares driven by Elon Musk’s Twitter purchase. About 75% of respondents to the bank’s survey indicated that the Twitter purchase has been a major contributor to the steep slide for Tesla share prices as of late, with 65% also indicating the acquisition will have a “negative or slightly negative impact on Tesla’s business going forward.” Only 5% said the acquisition is likely to be positive for the automaker’s business — a strange statistic to see from a financial community used to praising Musk. The social media giant continues to go through upheaval under Musk with layoffs and other bad news moving along. They have been happy to find out the company has delivered its first electric semi truck in California. CARB had awarded the grant to an air district in California’s Central Valley that partnered with PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay to transform its manufacturing site in Modesto, Calif. The company wanted to replace all of its diesel-powered freight equipment with zero-emission trucks and install solar panels and energy-storage systems.

Coal ain’t going away soon:  Coal is the world’s single-largest source of carbon dioxide emissions from energy, and massive efforts are needed to quickly reduce these emissions to avoid severe climate change impacts, according to International Energy Agency (IEA). In a new special report – Coal in Net Zero Transitions – the agency lays out what is needed to reduce global coal emissions rapidly enough to meet international climate goals while supporting energy security and economic growth. The analysis in the report, which was launched on Energy Day during the COP27 Climate Change Conference in Egypt, shows that over 95% of global coal consumption is occurring in countries that have pledged to achieve net zero emissions. To reverse this reality, super-charging the renewable energy replacing coal, and extensive job training and development spending is needed. 

Texas seeing a lot of methane emissions:  A special report from PBS that first aired Nov. 23, explored how extensive Texas’ destructive methane emissions is, with much of it coming from the regional Permean basin that comes from hydraulic fracturing into the earth (called fracking) for natural gas. Sharon Wilson of environmental group Earthworks is shown doing a “climate bomb” with a sophisticated $100,000 camera that tracks and records pollution. About 1,100 super emitters have been found in Texas by this organization and other testers. Natasha Miles, a Penn State University participating in a study measuring emissions, disputes industry reporting about fumes being released. Her research team has found five times more emissions than what’s being reported by companies doing the fracking. Investigations being done by Texas Commision on Environmental Quality has been far from impressive and authentic.

Camper friendly trucks and high-performance racers: An editor’s notebook at the LA Auto Show 

It’s nice to see public events return to near-normal conditions. Though not as all-encompassing as pre-Covid auto shows, the LA Auto Show offered a few treats to car buffs, auto media, and other regular attendees at the special event opening day called Automobility LA.

Rugged, do-it-yourself camping gear was a theme at this year’s LA Auto Show

This year’s themes were similar to what’s been building up in recent years — electric crossover utility vehicles, SUVs and pickups showing off camping gear, and expensive high-performance cars with some of them being zero emission vehicles. 

The LA Auto Show, one of the industry’s iconic events, was canceled in 2020, rescheduled to May 21-31, 2021, and was then postponed until Nov. 19-28 of that year. It was fairly well attended last year with people wearing masks and showing proof of vaccinations or evidence of testing negative for Covid. This year, Autombobility LA took place on Nov. 17, which kicked off the LA Auto Show through Nov. 27 — including being open 9:00 am to 4:00 pm on Thanksgiving Thursday. 

The ride and drives were revamped with an outdoor EV Test Track powered by Electrify America, offered test drives on the track from Chevrolet, Genesis, Kia, VinFast (a Vietnamese startup offering eSUVs) and Volkswagen; and Porsche during the first weekend only. 

Attendees enjoyed seeing a new offering — indoor test rides inside the exhibit halls featuring new EVs — Ford F-150 Lightning, Hyundai Ioniq 5, and Nissan Ariya. In West Hall, the Camp Jeep, Ford Bronco Built Wild, and RAM Truck Territory, were available to be driven around tracks that included roller-coaster-style humps somewhere around half the elevation peak you usually see in amusement parks. Other test drive cars were available outside the convention center from Ford, Alfa Romeo, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, Ram, Toyota, and Volkswagen. 

Show attendees got a kick out of driving a Ford Bronco over a ramp.

Other show highlights included:

  • Hyundai introduced an electric Ioniq 6 with a 340-mile range in its North American version. The Ioniq 6 EV, with an arched design, is coming to the US next spring. 
  • British company Charge Cars showed off its 67, a carbon-fiber-clad EV inspired by a 1967 Mustang that has a starting price of $460,000. A variety of interior and exterior trim options are available for modification upon request, the company says. 
  • The all-electric Fiat 500e will be coming back to America in the first quarter of 2024. It’s likely to use the higher-powered 117-hp electric motor from the European version, though more details will come out lately. Fiat’s parent company Stellantis expects it will be part of building the Fiat brand in America. 
  • Czinger founder Kevin Czinger and crew were present to show off the 21C, a high performance $2.3 million hybrid hypercar. It’s built as a 3D printed sports car by about a dozen robots at its facility in Los Angeles in an efficient small space. Established in 2019 by Founder and CEO Czinger, former head of Coda Automotive, This company is shooting for achieving success through future Human‑AI design within an environmentally sustainable system. 
The Czinger 21C got a lot of attention during Automobility LA, the first day of the auto show.

Nine finalists were named for the 2023 North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year (NACTOY). The jurors vote based on elements including automotive innovation, design, safety, performance, technology, driver satisfaction, user experience, and value.

The finalists for each category, in alphabetical order, for

North American Car of the Year:

Acura Integra

Genesis G80 EV

Nissan Z

North American Truck of the Year:

Chevrolet Silverado ZR2

Ford F-150 Lightning

Lordstown Endurance

North American Utility Vehicle of the Year:

Cadillac Lyriq 

Genesis GV60 

Kia EV6

Six of them are electric: Genesis G80 EV, Ford F-150 Lightning, Lordstown Endurance, Cadillac Lyriq, Genesis GV60, and Kia EV6. The winners will be announced at a special event in Detroit on January 11, 2023.

US will be running clean fuel test program with government in Ukraine, Market Intel on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles — Part 2 

Special Presidential Envoy John Kerry spoke at COP27 in Egypt on Saturday. The US and Europe will be working with Ukraine on production of clean hydrogen and ammonia.

The US and Ukraine made a significant announcement during COP27. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and Ukraine Minister of Energy German Galushchenko announced a Ukraine Clean Fuels from SMRs Pilot project on Saturday that will demonstrate the production of clean hydrogen and ammonia using secure and safe small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) and cutting-edge electrolysis technologies in Ukraine. The idea behind is to develop first-of-a-kind pilot of commercial-scale production of clean fuels from SMRs using solid oxide electrolysis. Building on existing capacity-building cooperation launched under a US program, the project seeks to support Ukraine’s energy security goals, enable decarbonization of hard-to-abate energy sectors through clean hydrogen generation, and improve long-term food security through clean ammonia-produced fertilizers. It’s a very good move economically and geopolitically with much of Ukraine’s economy tied to its agriculture, and much of the pressure coming from Russia has to do with oil and gas. 

Kerry also used that opportunity to announce Project Phoenix, which is aimed at accelerating the transition in Europe of coal-fired plants to SMRs while retaining local jobs through workforce retraining. Project Phoenix will provide direct U.S. support for coal-to-SMR feasibility studies and related activities in support of energy security goals for countries in Central and Eastern Europe. This could help free up neighboring countries that have been shipping a lot of natural gas over from Russia. The US reiterates that it’s committed to supporting the use of innovative clean energy technologies to power global decarbonization efforts and providing options to achieve net zero transition in hard-to-abate energy sectors.

Speaking of partners in Ukraine:  Those of you looking for good online tutoring/teaching services, consider Preply. This Ukraine-based company has been working with thousands of students around the world to improve their skills for testing to get into college and grad school, and other tangible goals. During my time in grad school, I’ve been working with them to gain more teaching and tutoring experience. It’s been very insightful to speak with students around the world on their goals and dreams.  —Editor Jon LeSage

Market Intelligence — HFCVs, Pt. 2:   Available now is the second part of the report exploring hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles, hydrogen technology, and hydrogen fueling stations. This edition looks at all the vehicle manufacturers that are now in this space, and what’s coming up next. This has been leaning toward hydrogen-powered trucks and vans, with much of the opportunity coming from commercial vehicles serving ports. The zero emission vehicle mandate is pushing much of it, as is greater confidence in the hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. The fueling infrastructure has a long way to go, along with access to “green hydrogen.” But the opportunities are increasing. Here’s a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the technology and fuel. Click here for more information. 

And in other news:

The latest on Musk and Twitter:  So, do you have to pay for the $7.99 per month subscription fee to use Twitter now that Elon Musk owns the company? No, Musk says it’s about verifying accounts as the new owner works to overhaul the platform’s verification system. There are other advantages to joining the club for those interested, but there’s still a lot for Musk and his management team to work out there. Musk has two other challenges coming up soon. Musk go to court later this week to defend his $56 billion pay package from allegations by Tesla shareholders that it was tainted with easy performance targets. Also, a Tesla Model S owner is on trial for manslaughter. It may become a first-of-its-kind legal test of the responsibility of a human driver in a car with advanced driver-assist technology like Tesla’s Autopilot.

COP27:  The COP27 climate conference that is taking place through November 18 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, is the platform for nearly 200 countries to strike a deal to steer the world towards cutting greenhouse gas emissions, and to scale up finance for countries being ravaged by climate disaster. Delegates from many of the former-colony, developing nations around the world are calling for the major global economies to fund renovation of their infrastructures toward clean energy and efficiency. There might be more movement forward on this pressing issue than in past UN climate change conferences. A few countries have resisted mentioning a global goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius in the official text of the COP27 summit in Egypt, U.S. Special Climate Envoy John Kerry said at the conference on Saturday; its too early to tell if this will stop an agreement being reached. Attendees are looking forward to hearing newly elected Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (aka Lula) is heading to the COP27 summit this week, to reassure the world that Amazon rainforest is now in safe hands. Deforestation in Brazil reached a 15-year high under outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro, as farm owners had been able to push back on protected rainforest acreage under Bolsonaro. 

Speaking of deforestation:  Elelectric carmaker Tesla will have to do more of around its new Brandenburg Gigafactory to set up its needed production plant. The company will be applying for expansion and is beginning to clear local pine forests. This clearing process will remove pine trees over about 173 acres of currently forested area. The electric carmaker said it has already begun taking the necessary steps for species and forest protective measures. This factory will be important for Tesla to expand its European market presence. 

GM’s EV push:  General Motors CEO Mary Barra is planning on telling investors this week that GM expects its electric-vehicle program to be profitable in 2025, the same year it’s targeting sales of 1 million battery-powered electric vehicles. GM has plans in the works to roll out a $30,000 Chevy Equinox EV and electric Silverado pickup next year.

Latest on the US DOE and Funding Projects, Getting a Handle on Twitter and Musk’s Other Businesses

Now that nearly all U.S. states (45 of them) offer incentives for battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, we’re not dependent on support merely from Washington, D.C. Having said that, everyone should have a handle on what the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) has to offer. Here’s an overview — perhaps best named “DOE 101,” featuring a list of DOE segments that clean transportation stakeholders need to be familiar with; plus a fascinating look at state incentives for electrified transportation. DOE is well funded under the current administration, with many inspiring research projects moving forward. 

And the latest:  GM partnership on advanced batteries General Motors and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Microvast Holdings, Inc., were selected by DOE to receive a $200 million grant through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that will fund a new separator facility to supply battery components. It was one of 20 companies and partnerships to receive grant funding from DOE’s $2.8 billion available. With existing operations in Tennessee, Florida, Colorado, and Texas, the company was thrilled to enhance its vertical integration strategy by expanding its domestic footprint and production capabilities to include battery components. Its highly thermally stable polyaramid separators will transform high-energy lithium-ion battery development and drive significant value for the industry, the company said. Microvast expects the new separator facility to supply battery components to its existing battery cell manufacturing facility in Clarksville, Tenn., as well as other customers across the commercial, specialty, and passenger electric vehicle (EV) markets, energy storage systems (ESS) and other applications.

Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E)  The ARPA-E advances high-potential, high-impact energy technologies that are too early for private-sector investment. ARPA-E awardees are unique because they are developing entirely new ways to generate, store, and use energy. ARPA-E empowers America’s energy researchers with funding, streamlined awards process, technical assistance, and market readiness through a rigorous program design, competitive project selection process, and active program management ensure thoughtful expenditures. 

And the latest:  The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) late last month announced $39 million in funding for 16 projects across 12 states to develop market-ready technologies that will increase domestic supplies of critical elements required for the clean energy transition. The selected projects, led by universities, national laboratories, and the private sector aim to develop commercially scalable technologies that will enable greater domestic supplies of copper, nickel, lithium, cobalt, rare earth elements, and other critical elements. The Biden-Harris Administration has remained focused on strengthening the critical materials supply chain as rare-earth elements are necessary to manufacture several clean energy technologies—from electric vehicle batteries to wind turbines and solar panels. President Biden has underscored the importance of deploying energy sources that reduce carbon pollution, lower costs for families and businesses, and ultimately mitigate the impacts of climate change.  

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs:  The SBIR/STTR programs are U.S. government programs, intended to help certain small businesses conduct Research and Development (R&D). The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) SBIR/STTR programs provide grant opportunities to small businesses performing R&D in support of the DOE mission.  Grants are competitively awarded for the development and commercialization of new ideas and innovative research. 

And the latest:  On Oct. 26, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced $3,169,239 in funding to eight small businesses to further develop and commercialize their environmental technologies, delivering economic and environmental benefits to the communities they serve. Awarded projects include an air purifier that reduces the risk of transmitting viruses and bacteria, a forecasting tool that reduces unwanted pesticide drift, software technologies for improved recycling, and a process for producing a sustainable low- carbon building material.

Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE):  Funding, Prize, and Competition Opportunities. Come to the site to see current open EERE funding opportunities; visit EERE Exchange to see past opportunities. EERE primarily supports research and development (R&D) on energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.

Late last month, the EPA announced $3,169,239 in funding to eight small businesses to further develop and commercialize their environmental technologies, delivering economic and environmental benefits to the communities they serve. Awarded projects include an air purifier that reduces the risk of transmitting viruses and bacteria, a forecasting tool that reduces unwanted pesticide drift, software technologies for improved recycling, and a process for producing a sustainable low- carbon building material.

Clean Cities Coalition Network:  Connect with Clean Cities’ national network of local coalitions and stakeholders working to implement alternative fuels, advanced vehicles, and fuel-saving strategies. The Clean Cities Coalition Network is a coordinated group of nearly 100 coalitions in the US working in communities across the country to advance affordable, domestic transportation fuels, energy efficient mobility systems, and other fuel-saving technologies and practices.

Bionergy Technologies Office: The U.S. Department of Energy Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) supports research, development, and demonstration to enable the sustainable use of domestic biomass and waste resources for the production of biofuels and bioproducts. 

2022–2023 AlgaePrize Competition: Launched in January 2022, the AlgaePrize is a new competition from DOE BETO that encourages students to pursue innovative ideas for the development, design, and invention of technologies within the commercial algae value chain. Learn more about this student competition.

Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge: The U.S. Department of Energy is working with the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and other federal government agencies to develop a comprehensive strategy for scaling up new technologies to produce sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) on a commercial scale. Learn more about the SAF Grand Challenge and BETO’s SAF R&D.

Sustainable Aviation Fuels: BETO empowers energy companies and aviation stakeholders by supporting advances in research, development, and demonstration to overcome barriers for widespread deployment of low-carbon sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). SAF made from renewable biomass and waste resources have the potential to deliver the performance of petroleum-based jet fuel but with a fraction of its carbon footprint, giving airlines solid footing for decoupling greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from flight. The U.S. Department of Energy is working with the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and other federal government agencies to develop a comprehensive strategy for scaling up new technologies to produce SAF on a commercial scale.

Vehicle Technologies Office The DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Office provides low cost, secure, and clean energy technologies to move people and goods across America. Technology areas include batteries, charging, and electric vehicles; energy efficient mobility systems; advanced engine and fuels technologies; lightweight and propulsion materials; technology integration; and reports and publications. 

Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office The Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office (HFTO) focuses on research, development, and demonstration of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies across multiple sectors enabling innovation, a strong domestic economy, and a clean, equitable energy future. Clean energy sources such as hydrogen help combat climate change by addressing industrial emissions that are often hard to decarbonize. And, it can be produced from a variety of clean energy sources including renewables and nuclear.

Office of Science Laboratories. The National Laboratories have served as the leading institutions for scientific innovation in the United States for more than seventy years. The Energy Department’s 17 National Labs tackle the critical scientific challenges of our time — from combating climate change to discovering the origins of our universe — and possess unique instruments and facilities, many of which are found nowhere else in the world. They address large scale, complex research and development challenges with a multidisciplinary approach that places an emphasis on translating basic science to innovation.

Argonne National Laboratory For clean transportation stakeholders, Argonne is a very significant test center. Projects have included electric vehicle testing, and alternative fuel vehicle, hybrid electric, and plug-in hybrid testing. Measuring energy use and emissions output for a wide variety of vehicle and fuel combinations are among the top issues studied at the test center. Analysis of transportation systems on a life-cycle basis permits the research staff to better understand the breadth and magnitude of impacts produced when vehicle systems are operated on different fuels or energy options like electricity or hydrogen. Such detailed analysis also provides the granularity needed to investigate policy implications, set R&D goals, and perform follow-on impact and policy assessments. With the support of several programs within the US Department Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Systems Assessment Group in Argonne’s Energy Systems and Infrastructure Analysis division has been developing the GREET (Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in Transportation) model to provide a common, transparent platform for lifecycle analysis (LCA) of alternative combinations of vehicle and fuel technologies.

Plus, another resource: state offerings on hybrids and EVs. The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) offers this database: 

NCSL — State Policies Promoting Hybrid and Electric Vehicles Forty-five states and the District of Columbia provide an incentive for certain EVs and/or PHEVs, either through a specific utility operating in the state or through state legislation. The incentives range from tax credits or rebates to fleet acquisition goals, exemptions from emissions testing, or utility time-of-use rate reductions. 

And in other news

Twitter purchase: New Twitter owner Elon Musk has pulled more than 50 of his trusted Tesla employees, mostly software engineers from the Autopilot team, into his Twitter takeover, according to CNBC. He also brought in two employees from his Boring Company (underground tunnels) and one from SpaceX’s Neuralink business.  Musk fired top executives from the social media company. Musk’s Tesla had a solid quarter of earnings last month but now the company says it won’t be able to reach a full 50% growth rate from the 936,000 units it delivered in 2021. In breaking news, Tesla will be opening what’s being called a “unique EV research, testing, repair, and maintenance facility” in Southfield, Mich. 

BYD working with Toyota, reports big profit gain: Toyota Motor Corp announced the launch of a small electric sedan, which will be powered by BYD’s batteries and will be produced and sold in China. The Japanese automaker said the car would be called the Toyota bZ3. It did not say when the vehicle will be available in showrooms. Last month, BYD reported that net income for Q3 2022 could jump 365% versus Q3 2021. BYD’s strong results worked against China’s economy and strengthened the strong image the automaker is gaining. 

Big fleets converting over to EVs: Amazon, FedEx, and other big fleet operators, are moving fast to replace their huge fleets of gasoline- and diesel-powered delivery trucks with electric vehicles. It’s a win for the environment, but these sizable fleets have to installing lots of chargers and work on charging up when electricity rates are cheap.

Lucid Air lineup will be added to on Nov. 15: The Lucid startup electric vehicle company will be unveiling more of its Lucid Air lineup on November 15 at the Lucid Studio Beverly Hills. That will complete the Air luxury sedan lineup with the Air Pure and Air Touring being the newest ones. The online global launch will also show off the Grand Touring, Grand Touring Performance, and the Sapphire-The Dream Edition.