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.
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.
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.
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:
Genesis G80 EV
North American Truck of the Year:
Chevrolet Silverado ZR2
Ford F-150 Lightning
North American Utility Vehicle of the Year:
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.
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.
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. TheClean 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 batteriesand 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.
While clean transportation stakeholders have been leaning towards plug-in electric vehicles — whether that be through cars, SUVs, or medium-to-heavy-duty trucks — hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles and hydrogen as a fuel/energy source have had quite an impressive year. Cleantech advocates who lean into EVs and renewable energy have been much more open to considering the technology to hit core targets. One element is how California has included fuel cell vehicles as the sister technilogy to EVs in its zero emission vehicle mandates. This edition of the new publication — GAM Market Intel — is the first of two parts on hydrogen and fuel cell technology with this one exploring fuel cell vehicles around the world, and how they’ve been doing in sales. The debate over which technology is better to hit the zero-emission vehicle target — plug-in electric or hydrogen fuel cell — still comes up occasionally. A decade ago, it was common to hear the arguments, when Elon Musk might have attacked fuel cell vehicles just a few years after the movie Who Killed the Electric Car? accused the California Air Resources Board of backing hydrogen fuel ceil vehicles over EVs. Several major car and truck makers have added fuel cell vehcles over to their offerings to hit these targets and becasue buyers are showing more interest in expanding their choices.
The second GAM Market Intel report digs into the sometimes grandiose commitments governments had been making to hit lofty goals by 2030 — as if they could only make available in their countries electric vehicles that will be semi-to-fully autonomous and part of sharing networks. Not liketly of course, but what it is a more realsitic projection on where the technology stands today and a more realstic view of where it’s going in the near future? It ties into urban planning, development, and transportation strategies in place globally that assume EVs and mobility services will be leading the way in traffic- and smog-congested cities.
You can visit the order page for the two studies to learn more, or you can click the Market Intel link in the left column.
Goodby, Mr. Parker: For those of you fortunate enough to have known Chuck Parker, I’m sure it was sad to hear about his passing away on Sept. 21 at the age of 88. I’ve appreciated reading about parts of his life that I’d forgotten about, or never knew. Special thanks to my colleagues Janice Sutton, CEO and Editor in Chief, Fleet Management Weekly, and Mike Antich, Editor and Associate Publisher, Automotive Fleet, for writing wonderful tributes to Chuck’s impressive professional career and fine qualities as a human being. It was also good to read about how much other professionals in automotive appreciated him, and the stories they had to tell in Sutton’s LinkedIn page. My heart goes out to Chuck’s family, including his wife Nancy Edwards, who was an honor to work with along with her husband.
I’d like to acknowledge Chuck for creating the business and editorial platform that the industry’s first digital media company, Automotive Information Network (AIN). Automotive Digest served as the flagship publication website that AIN’s nine industry e-newsletters operated from; it all started up in 1998 and was the first of its kind in the industry. Those of us working with Chuck had to learn how to do video interviews, edit segments for viewing, write about significant news and events in the US auto industry, and sometimes globally, from a concise and focused format, and to look for the “big picture” significance of trends in the market. We were able to interview some of the most interesting and influential leaders in the auto industry, fleet management, remarketing, auto finance, digital marketing, advanced vehicle technology, and clean transportation. It was a digest for busy, thoughtful insightful professionals in the auto industry — and for others fascinated with what was going on. Fleet Management Weekly is continuing with this editorial model, and is a must-read and must-view for professionals in that discipline. Green Auto Market started out as part of the Automotive Digest media titles; and I thank Chuck and Nancy, and other colleagues, for supporting this publication.
And in other news………..
New OPEC embargo on the way? Did you know that Russia joined OPEC in 2016, and that it was renamed OPEC Plus? This coalition, led by Russia and Saudi Arabia, announced Wednesday it will cut way back on oil production by 2 million barrels per day. It’s possible it may push up gas prices worldwide and play into the tension and chaos from Russia’s war in Ukraine. “The President is disappointed by the shortsighted decision by OPEC Plus to cut production quotas while the global economy is dealing with the continued negative impact of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine,” U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan and National Economic Council Director Brian Deese said in a statement.
German car rental company Sixt is following global competitor Hertz’ lead by announcing it will be bringing in 100,000 electric vehicles. That order will be fulfilled by Chinese automaker BYD between now and 2028. The first batch will be delivered this year to Germany, France, the Netherlands, and the U.K. during Q4 of this year. Hertz announced about two weeks ago that it will order up to 175,000 EVs from General Motors over the next five years. Other deals were made by Hertz to bring in thousands of electric cars built by Polestar and Tesla. The end goal is to covert 25% of its fleet over to EVs by 2024. It’s also very good news for BYD, which has been trying to build its global band presence. Its commercial vehicles are going in fairly small numbers all over the world, and it has a significant share of China’s EV market. Bringing in movie star Leonardo DiCaprio as brand ambassador for its new energy vehicles has been part of that strategy.
Hydrogen and fuel cells have gained enough presence to earn an annual day of recognition. The U.S. Dept. of Energy says that October 8 was chosen to be designated as National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day by the number 1.008. That’s the atomic weight of hydrogen. The national day of recognition was set up to support efforts to celebrate hydrogen and its role to transition to “a cleaner and more equitable energy future.”
Jon LeSage, author of the two studies featured above and editor of Green Auto Market, is available for consulting services including being interviewed on clean transportation and related topics. He brings experience, expertise, and broad, global perspectives on the auto industry, alternative fuel vehicles, sustainability issues, government policies, and the future of automated mobility. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ChargePoint and Tesla lead the way: Charging has always been the “chicken or the egg” dilemma for EV advocates — and now both the vehicles and infrastructure are taking off. The numbers in this table don’t include the entire U.S. market, with other suppliers also serving EV drivers, but it’s a good look at how far all of it has gone and which companies have contributed quite a lot. Special thanks to data-driven analysis and forecast firm EVAdoption for making such valuable information available to all of us. ChargePoint has kept a steady pace deploying significant large installations of charging stations. The company accounts for 42.8% of all US public charging ports and 42.9% of all charging locations, according to EVAdoption. Kudos to Tesla for opening up its Supercharger network to any electric car. Open sourcing has been pushed by Greenlots and other fast-charging advocates, and while Tesla isn’t going down the open-source technology lane, in spirit much of the same will be happening by opening up its fast chargers to other brands.
As for me……
As I’d mentioned about a year ago, I’m working on my master’s degree. I just had the opportunity of attending a weekend course on campus — the Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia, the oldest J school in the nation; and the best, according to graduate members of the “Mizzou Mafia.” I will be finished in December 2023, and I look forward to teaching college courses in journalism (and related — media and communications being part of it). I’ve also been honored to become a freelance reporter for the Beachcomber News in Long Beach, Calif. I cover the economic trends in the city — companies setting up shop to build aerospace of the future (such as Virgin Galactic and SpaceX), the role Amazon is playing at the port and the city, and creation of a task force to deal with a major social dilemma — absuse of the elderly. But I will continue to put out Green Auto Market; and I am available for expert/consulting time on the business of green vehicles, fuels, and technologies. As I’d done before, I’ll also have a subscriber section and reports on the market data and stratgic issues shaping the future of clean transportation. I’ll get the word on that section in the near future. Any questions, you can always contact me at email@example.com.
And in other news………….
Califiornia Climate Investments: California’s cap-and-trade funds continue being spent on good causes. A California Air Resources Board (CARB) mid-year report said that California Climate Investments implemented over $1 billion from December 2021 through the end of May 2022, bringing the cumulative total to just over $11.4 billion. Of that total, $5.4 billion of all implemented funds have gone to California’s priority populations, which include disadvantaged and low-income communities. Overall, 567,143 California Climate Investments projects are expected to reduce an estimated 78.6 million metric tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, in addition to 102 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in expected reductions attributable to the High-Speed Rail project.
BMW’s Plug&Charge feature: From mid-2023, a Plug&Charge function will be available in the first BMW models, enabling customers to charge electricity at public charging points without having to use a charging card or app. It will all happen through a data exchange between the vehicle and the charging station. BMW Charging will also be expanding its charging with this feature provided by Digital Charging Solutions GmbH (DCS). The new functionality allows Plug&Charge access to the IONITY charging network initiated by BMW.
Mercedes and Rivian: Mercedes-Benz Vans and Rivian have initiated a strategic partnership to jointly produce electric vans. A new joint venture company will be established to create a manufacturing plant in Europe that will build large electric vans for both the Mercedes-Benz and Rivian brands. It will be coming from a new EV plant next to an existing M-B plant in Central/Eastern Europe. At least two vans architectures will be built from there — VAN.EA, the electric-only platform used in M-B vans; and a second-generation electric-van, built on the Rivian Light Van platform. Future models will also be explored.
Phew!!! What a relief to see the electric vehicle (EV) tax credits pass through Congress; with President Biden expected to sign them into law through the much larger Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. These $7,500 tax credits had disappeared for all Tesla models and GM electric models after previously reaching their 200,000 unit limits and closing periods — with Toyota heading down that path, too.
Not only that, I was more than pleased to see Plug In America endorse it after the House wrapped up the legislative process on Friday. There was a lot to sift through on the new regulations, with quite a few EVs being excluded.
It had been a close call in the senate with approval from Democratic senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona; and a tie-breaker from vice president Kamala Harris. The House vote was also split along party lines.
I had my share of doubts, which I tweeted about recently.
I was concerned that, for those consumers and fleets interested in electric vehicle tax incentives, the new law was going to be difficult to sift through — and could be taking away that incentive from EVs they’d wanted to buy.
Automakers and federal regulators will be digging through the legalese to clarify which vehicles qualify for the law and which don’t under the domestic production rules and the the price limitation that was also set; and what to do about the battery packs and the minerals that go into them — most of which come from China.
It includes a new tax credit of up to $4,000 on used EVs, and revised tax credits of up to $7,500 on certain new EVs. Married couples don’t qualify for the new-vehicle credit if their modified adjusted gross income on a joint tax return exceeds $300,000. The limit is $150,000 for single tax filers.
A new mandate has been introduced for qualified vehicles being assembled in North America. It applies to buyers of new “clean” vehicles that includes battery-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Limitations for eligible EVs are on the purchase price are: no more than $55,000 for sedans and $80,000 for SUVs and trucks.
As for minerals used in qualifying EV battery packs, here’s a look at the structure that will be implemented. It goes by the “percentage of the value” of the applicable battery critical minerals that are extracted or processed in the US, or from a U.S. free-trade partner, or recycled in North America. That annually escalating schedule governing the levels of critical minerals has been included that requires starting with 40% for a vehicle placed in service before Jan. 1, 2024; and goes up to 80% for a vehicle placed in service after Dec. 31, 2026.
A long list of applicable critical minerals is included in the bill, which can be viewed in a Green Car Congressarticle.
Vehicles not assembled in North America and that will go outside the qualified vehicle list include: the BMW i4, Hyundai Ioniq 5, and Kia EV6; but there will be several more on this list. As for automakers, Audi, Kia, and Porsche have already stated that buyers of their electric vehicles will not qualify for the tax credit. Volkswagen said it will have to work out how to make the ID.4 eligible next year. Higher-priced EVs from Tesla, Fisker, and Lucid Group also will not qualify for the EV tax credit.
Some automakers are complaining that too few vehicles qualify for the new mandates based on what must be built in the U.S. and where their batteries come from — at least where the minerals that make up a lithium-ion battery come from. Many automakers have said that they cannot meet the short timeframes in the bill and their vehicles are unlikely to fully comply for some time. Other makers have complained that several of their EVs no longer comply at all for the credits.
Fleet trucks and vans will get credits Commercial electric truck makers are in a good place with incentives of up to $40,000 per vehicle providing strong motivation for fleets to look at Daimler’s Freightline Cascasia, Lion Electric’s (LEV) Class 8 trucks, the Tesla Semi, and Workhorse Group’s medium-duty trucks, among others. It provides a purchase incentive of up to 30% to buyers of medium- and heavy-duty vehicle used by fleets and logistics/transport companies, or $40,000, whichever is lower. This bill provides a purchase incentive of up to 30% to buyers of medium- and heavy-duty vehicle used by fleets and logistics/transport companies. The tax credit for commercial fuel cell vehicles is also set at 30% of the price or $40,000, whichever is lower.
On the new tax credit, Rivian Automotive CEO R.J. Scaringe said, “I think…… this is a really important step and I think it’s great for the acceleration of electrification and really providing a path to a carbon-neutral economy. Now in terms of what that represents for us, it’s certainly a powerful tailwind… The incentives are quite strong, the consumer-facing incentives at over – at $40,000. So the – we see this as really helping to drive a rapid transition to electric vehicles in the commercial space.”
$3 billion will be available for U.S. Postal Service vehicles. USPS had requested an extra $3 billion to cover the difference in the upfront cost for EVs and charging infrastructure.
The bill would continue the credit for low-income consumers who install charging in their homes. It will also be expanded for commercial installations.
Vehicle manufacturers will have access to several different tax credits that will help them set up or grow manufacturing of EVs and batteries in the U.S.
Most of the proposed rules go into effect for cars put into service after Dec. 31, 2022 and are valid through 2032. Automakers and other stakeholders will have to clarity another provision that vehicles must be manufactured in North America in order to qualify, which will go into effect as soon as the law is passed and signed by the president. Some of the provisions won’t go into effect until after regulations are finalized.
It’s still not clear about how many EVs will be budgeted for manufacturers to receive these tax refund incentives in the 2023 fiscal year and beyond. Tax incentives will be available through auto dealers at the time of purchase and built into the acquisition price, and by the consumer who purchases the EV and includes that rebate in their next tax filing.
CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 A separate legislative action will also play a big part in supporting production and marketing of even more EVs. On Tuesday. Aug. 9, 2022, President Joe Biden signed a $280 billion bipartisan bill to strengthen domestic manufacturing of semiconductors in an effort to not rely as heavily on overseas production of these important tech components. Officially called the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, this new bill provides $52.7 billion for American semiconductor research, development, manufacturing, and workforce development, with $39 billion going to manufacturing incentives, $2 billion for chips used in automobiles and defense systems, $13.2 billion in research and and workforce development, and $500 million to provide for international information communications technology security and semiconductor supply chain activities.
The CHIPS Act will also provide a 25 percent investment tax credit for capital expenses for manufacturing of semiconductors and related equipment, $1.5 billion for promoting and deploying wireless technologies that use open and interoperable radio access networks, $10 billion to invest in regional innovation and technology hubs across the country, as well as various other science-related investments.
“Thank you to the leaders who made the CHIPS Act a reality to strengthen American supply chains, especially for legacy chips needed in auto and defense,” said Jim Farley, CEO at Ford Motor Co., via Twitter, on the day it was signed by the president. “This bipartisan law will help Ford and the U.S. innovate, create jobs, build EVs customers love, and compete on the global stage.”
How important is the semiconductor to EVs? “Semiconductors are a keystone technology in the energy sector as they are essential for the operation of nearly every electric vehicle, recharging station, and wind turbine as well as the entire electrical grid,” according to the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Semiconductor — Supply Chain Deep Dive Assessment, published earlier this year.
And in other news………
EV subscription company offering Teslas and more: Autonomy, the nation’s largest electric vehicle subscription company, placed an order for 23,000 electric vehicles with 17 global automakers to expand and diversify its subscription fleet beyond Tesla. The fleet order is valued at $1.2 billion. With many automakers going all-in on electric vehicle launches, and so many exciting new products coming to market in the next six to 18 months, the company placed its fleet order, and is excited to expand its subscription lineup and make it easier for consumers to make the transition to electric., said Scott Painter, founder and CEO of Autonomy. Autonomy’s order was placed with the fleet departments of these automakers: BMW, Canoo, Fisker, Ford, General Motors, Hyundai, Kia, Lucid, Mercedes-Benz, Polestar, Rivian, Stellantis, Subaru, Tesla, Toyota, VinFast, Volvo, and Volkswagen.
Diesel truck and airplane solutions: U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) say that test results are looking good from bio-based feedstocks including woody biomass residues, agricultural residues, algae, and municipal solid waste as renewable sources for production of new fuels is looking good for diesel trucks and airplanes. It would mean a GHG emissions reduction of 60% to 84%, respectively.
Two big charging company acquisitions: Late June saw two major acquisition deals in the charging space. On June 21, Blink Charging Co. announced the acquisition of SemaConnect, Inc., a leading provider of EV charging infrastructure solutions in North America, for a combination of cash and shares of its common stock. The transaction added nearly 13,000 EV chargers to Blink’s existing footprint, an additional 3,800 site host locations, and more than 150,000 registered EV driver members.
The next day, French energy management and automation company Schneider Electric acquired EV Connect, a California-based EV charging solution provider. EV Connect serves customers across 41 states in the U.S., including GM, Avista Utilities, Love’s Travel Stops, Verizon, Marriott, Hilton, Western Digital, ADP, New York Power Authority, and numerous municipalities.
These strange times continue as another Covid variant surges, war continues in the Ukraine, tensions in Washington continue as more comes out on the January 6, 2021 Capitol attack, and the cost of fuel and food (and just about everything else) stays high. But it’s not stopping a return to usual for most of us, with summer travel going strong and a few other upward market trends taking place. So, let’s take a look at the state of things..……….
Last week, Musk started making comments about his disappointment with Twitter for letting bots get in the way, as the company can’t verify its figures on the spam accounts. Musk says that Twitter hasn’t given him the information he needed to evaluate the deal.
Infighting with former President Donald Trumphas also been a mess for Musk to clean up; or at least to give the impression he’s winning or won’t settle for Trump’s brand of humiliation. Musk has taken his usual route of one upping an enemy in a debate, suggesting that 76-year-old Trump should “sail into the sunset.”
So the question becomes: Why would Elon Musk want to buy Twitter?
Certainly, the publicly traded social media company did have a market cap of around $50 billion back in April, when this acquisition deal became public — and which helps explain the $44 billion bid price. And yes, Musk has access to the funding with the most recent personal net worth placing him at about $237 billion, the richest person on the planet.
Musk has certainly enjoyed holding the platform he’s had on Twitter for years with over 100 million followers — way more than the estimated 60 million Trump had. But what real value does Twitter have to offer? Twitter makes the bulk of its revenue through advertising fees to partners. Advertising income accounts for over 85% of the company’s annual revenues last year, according to an analyst report. Data licensing agreements accounted for approximately 14% of Twitter revenues.
As for the business sectors we’ve known Musk to be in, Tesla has had a choppy performance year but it still stays up in market value and sales. For the second quarter, production and deliveries took a sizable hit, even with two new factories in Berlin and Austin starting to ramp up production. Analysts are not happy with the production results which are down about 55,000 units from strong performance in the first quarter.
The 10 Bestselling EVs in the First Quarter:
Tesla Model Y
Tesla Model 3
Ford Mustang Mach-E
Tesla Model X
Hyundai Ioniq 5
Tesla Model S
The company has a stable presence in battery packs, energy storage, solar panels, and fast chargers. Autonomous vehicle services are still on hold, but Tesla may be more ready than other companies to enter the space when it opens up on the testing and safety regulations side.
His original business (after a few other deals like co-selling PayPal) was SpaceX, which started up in 2002. There are plenty of big contracts coming in, and the privately held space-launch company is looking very good with its Starlink product. It offers high-speed, broadband internet in remote and rural locations around the world. For now, 34 countries are getting satellite internet access through Starlink. Another big step: at the end of June, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted the company authorization to use its Starlink satellite internet system on vehicles in motion — including cars, trucks, boats, and aircraft.
All of these business ventures make much more sense than Twitter. Perhaps Musk and a few other entrepreneurs are seeing the full possibility in social media. Finding tangible, measurable, actionable achievements is another matter.
Fun facts about EVs: Beyond Musk and Tesla, here’s a look at the global and national electric vehicle market………. >There were 66.7 million new vehicles sold worldwide last year, and 6.9 million were plug-in hybrid or battery electric light-duty to heavy-duty electric vehicles — making up 10.34% of the total new vehicles sold globally last year. That’s a significant benchmark level to pass. >As the Statista chart below illustrates, it took five years for global EV sales to have a solid base for annual sales — and growth has been in big steps each year since then. >Cumulative global EV sales reached 18.6 million last year, with 95% being light-duty vehicles and 5% heavy-duty vehicles. >China sold 51% of them last year with 3.5 million units sold, 2.3 million were sold in Europe, and the US came in third with a record high of 667,731 units sold.
Events are starting to come back At the end of its final day in May, ACT Expo 2022 surpassed the previous year’s event by more than 3,000 attendees; more than 8,500 industry stakeholders signed up for this year’s event. That’s a very good sign industry events are seeing a comeback — with 2020 seeing only a few online conferences and last year seeing the return of a few live events, but with much lower attendance than usual.
More significant events are coming up:
The Mobilize California Summit is considered to be the SoCal region’s premier fleet modernization, alternative fuels, and workforce training event – where industry and education intersect – to collaborate on existing and emerging technologies, trends and training tactics. Offering information-packed sessions, prominent national and regional speakers and the latest technologies, this event is where government fleets, industry and academic leaders examine the current and future trends in clean transportation and logistics to improve workforce training, as well as curriculum development. It’s taking place July 21-23, 2022, at South Coast Winery & Spa in Temecula, Calif.
ITS World Congress 2022, taking placeSept. 19-22, 2022 in Los Angeles, CA, exploring “Transformation by Transportation”, is the global event that brings together world leaders, practitioners, policy makers, researchers, and private industry to advance and unite the intelligent transportation systems (ITS) industry.
AltWheels is one of the premier annual event promoting alternative and sustainable transportation solutions for fleet managers. This year on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, the organizers will combine the expanded reach from its virtual event over the past two years with the benefit of in-person networking, live ride-and-drive experiences, and expanded opportunities for reaching your target audience. This year’s AltWheels Fleet Day will serve as the NAFA October meeting and gathering of northeast Clean Cities representatives. Organizers will be announcing the theme, keynote speakers, and panel topics as the event gets closer. It will take place at Four Points By Sheraton in Norwood, Mass.
Obama and Biden administrations too connected to Big Oil?Frontline, PBS’ investigative reporting program, has shown a three-part special on the power of Big Oil companies to block efforts to reduce climate change. While Republican administrations are reported as being too supportive of Big Oil, two Democratic presidents are called out for also being too sympathetic to fossil fuel.
The first part of the Frontline series takes Exxon-Mobil to task for funding substantial studies over the years that have turned into distorted sources for the oil industry to make the case that there’s no real evidence global warning and climate change are taking place beyond typical historic patterns. Fossil fuels can’t be blamed, they said. That’s taken apart by former executives who participated in those studies, and who need to be honest about what really happened.
The Obama and Biden administrations are taken to task in the third episode for not taking elimination of fossil fuels seriously enough. They’ve called onto classic economic arguments on how fossil fuels are a necessity for the U.S. to move forward. Obama is seen speaking to the necessity of natural gas as a domestic fuel that’s cleaner than petroleum and coal, and protects the U.S. from foreign oil import instability.
More recently, Biden has taken the argument that the U.S. must be protected from oil and gas market instability — especially during Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine. That’s cut off the supply of Russian oil, which the U.S. had been preferring over OPEC nations imports. More recently, Biden has not liked seeing Saudi Arabia continuing its strong alliance with Russia. The U.S. president had hoped to lower oil prices by convincing Saudi Arabia to increase production.
Biden had also previously announced that the U.S. would be releasing its fuel reserves that have been kept stored to avoid the petroleum supply drying up and instigating a gasoline and diesel price hike. Other countries were encouraged to do so, as well.
Both presidents have been supportive of EV tax incentives, manufacturing grants for clean energy and EV manufacturing, and other progressive initiatives. Biden and future Democratic presidents will be pressured by a wing of their own party, environmental groups, and others, to say no to Big Oil.
Time to contact your senator to support EVs Plug In America is encouraging fans of electric vehicles to contact their U.S. Senators to support an expanded EV tax credit. A federal EV tax credit has been integral to stimulating EV sales by reducing the difference in total price by up to $7,500 compared to gas-powered vehicles. An upcoming Senate spending bill is offering the opportunity to see this incentive supported and to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by putting more EVs on our roads. Contact your US Senator using the form below! You’ll just need to provide a few pieces of information to connect you with your elected officials. Click here to tap into the organization’s sitefor getting these letters done.
What’s happened with high gasoline prices? AAA reported that the highest U.S. gas prices ever recorded took place last month:
This week, those prices have come down to $4.631 for unleaded gasoline and $5.611 for diesel despite increase in demand. Prior to last month’s spike, the highest previous regular unleaded gas price had been recorded at $4.11 a gallon in July 2008. Analysts think that these high fuel prices have been helping to sell more EVs this year.
Electric vehicle sales stayed strong in the U.S. while overall new vehicle sales were down in March.TrueCar expects Tesla will be the only automaker to see a gain during the month. The war in Ukraine and what remains of the Covid-19 pandemic have disrupted supply chains along with continued shortage of computer chips. Skyrocketing gasoline prices also had quite an impact.
Looking at quarterly numbers, Reuters reported other markets are seeing a strong gain for green car sales with 40% going to electric and hybrid vehicles in France. On the other side of the green car sales coin, gas guzzling, expensive SUVs did well in the U.S., with the Chevrolet Suburban, GMC Yukon, and Cadillac Escalade, seeing sales rise during the quarter compared to a year ago.
Tesla should be reporting strong numbers as its quarterly report comes out soon. Wall Street expects a gain over its fourth quarter deliveries of 308,650 electric vehicles. However, they will be watching to see if the company having to shut down its Shangai factory to comply with Covid-19 lockdowns could have a downward effect.
Kia has enjoyed marginal success in EV sales. Kia America just reported that it sold 3,156 all-electric EV6 models in March, its best-ever monthly sales. The company also reported a 55% increase of all its electrified during March.
Fuel prices reached highest level ever last month. AAA Gas Prices reports an average U.S. retail gasoline station price of $4.21 as today, compared to $2.87 as of a year ago. California has the highest price, with an average of $5.88. Diesel fuel’s national average is $5.10 versus $3.09 a year ago, AAA reports. The highest U.S. fuel prices ever recorded by AAA happened last month — $4.33 for regular unleaded on March 11 and $5.13 for diesel on March 12.
President Biden just announced the release of 1 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve every day through October to address the soaring prices, and which he blames on Russia’s chief Vladimir Putin. He’s hoping that could drop gas prices down by about 50 cents per gallon. Oil analysts don’t think it will have that much effect with a temporary dip that will go away from the usual spikes seen from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
The gas pump price hike is being felt with spikes like $6.25 per gallon at some California gas stations — and similar surges across the country relative to their average prices. But that price spike did start creeping up right before Russia invaded Ukraine. One the EV side of the business, those sales have been doing well for awhile — with significant increases in 2021 coming from more appealing and cost effective products to choose from, concern over climate change and air pollution, and improvements in charging stations and EV range.
The impact of Russia on the fuel prices and the global auto market is still too early to be determined. The country is the third biggest producer of oil in the world, behind the US and Saudi Arabia. Europe is feeling it the most, with more than half of Russia’s exports going there. That’s behind the tensions between Germany and Russia about production of a long-awaited oil pipeline — which Germany has put on hold for now.
The US is less reliant on Russian oil — getting about 3% of its imports from that country in 2020. That number went up to 7.9% in 2021 according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and it is thought to be a part of fuel prices spiking in the U.S. That places Russia right behind Mexico for third place in U.S. oil imports, with Canada still providing over five times as much oil as either Mexico or Russia provided last year.
EV maker startup Rivian Automotive Inc. has sent out a warning on the impact of chaos in Eastern Europe. In a regulatory filing Thursday, the electric truck and van maker blamed the war, along with the ongoing pandemic and inflation, for “disruptions to and delays” in operations. The company also listed the military conflict as a factor in higher component costs — including battery metals, which Rivian said have risen “considerably.”
Chaos continues in Ukraine. News is coming out daily on the impact of air strikes in the region with the latest being Russia accusing Ukrainian forces of sending two helicopters to attack a fuel facilitate at Belgorod, about 20 miles inside Russia. A video showed the storage tanks on fire. A U.S. official did confirm the airstrike, and that another one had occurred at a Russian ammunition depot in that area two days earlier.
Ukrainian officials have not confirmed the attack yet, but they have raised concerns this week about the country’s national nuclear plant operator, Energoatom, reporting that the last of the Russian forces that had occupied the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear power plant had pulled out. Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Russian troops who dug trenches in the still-contaminated forest around Chernobyl had been exposed to radiation. There have been no confirmation of reports that troops have been sickened by the radiation exposure. Global nuclear watchdog agency, the IAEA, is conducting an investigation, and on Thursday said that it had “not been able to confirm reports of Russian forces receiving high doses of radiation” in the exclusion zone around the decommissioned nuclear power plant.
And in other news………….
EVs visible at the Oscars: Aside from another type of chaos coming from the Will Smith slap, electric vehicle had a few shining moments during Academy Award commercials on Sunday night. While most automakers stayed away from the awards show TV spots they usually run, EV startup Lucid showed of its Air model. Disney’s ABC was asking forbetween $1.7 million and $2.2 million for a 30-second ad during the Oscars. Lucid has been promoting a few attractive features in its marketing materials lately — an EPA range of up to 520 miles per charge, a fast charging system, and the ability to design the details on Air ordered.
Other TV spots during they Academy Awards included: —The BMW iX all electric SUV —The Mercedes EQS Electric sedan, which the company just announced has a starting price of $147,500. —FedEx’s “Priority Earth” commercial featuring electric vans.
Editor’s note: You may not have seen any or some of these TV commercials while watching the Oscars on Sunday night. The TV ads that we view will vary by how we watch TV, which has been affected by the near-end of traditional broadcast TV, explosive growth in streaming channels and how each one is showing its commercials, and whether we’re still watching cable TV.
NHTSA rules detailed: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced today it has finalized its light-duty vehicle fuel economy standards, which will: —Increase fuel efficiency 8% annually for 2024-25 model years. —Increase fuel efficiency 10% annually for the 2026 model year. —Require an industrywide fleet average of approximately 49 mpg in the 2026 model year. —Reduce U.S. gasoline consumption by more than 200 billion gallons, as compared with continuing under standards changed over by the previous administration. —Reduce average fuel costs over the lifetime of 2029 model-year vehicles by $1,387, while increasing the average cost of those vehicles by about $1,087.
That average has been adjusted over the years from the initial target of about 54.5 mpg under the Obama administration. The revised and finalized standards will require an industrywide fleet average of approximately 49 mpg in the 2026 model year. It will start with an in increase fuel efficiency by 8 percent annually for cars and light trucks in the 2024 and 2025 model years, and by 10 percent annually for 2026.
ACT Expo speaker lineup announced for May event Organizers of the Advanced Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo this week announced the roster of featured speakers for the 11th annual event, taking place again at the Long Beach Convention Center from May 9-12, 2022.
Attendees will hear speakers talk about the history-making trend of rapidly accelerating decarbonization of commercial transportation during the four-day event. Top executives fromf all sectors will be present — global vehicle manufacturers, supplier partners, fleet operators, and other key stakeholders in the field. That list includes: John O’Leary, President and CEO, Daimler Truck North America Mathias Carlbaum, President and CEO, Navistar Tom Linebarger, Chairman and CEO, Cummins Art Vallely, President, Penske Truck Leasing Peter Voorhoeve, President, Volvo Trucks North America Carlos Maurer, Executive Vice President, Sectors and Decarbonization, Shell Mary Aufdemberg, General Manager of Product Strategy and Market Development, Daimler Truck North America Marie Robinson, Executive Vice President, Chief Supply Chain Officer, Sysco Craig Harper, Chief Sustainability Officer, EVP, J.B. Hunt Drew Cullen, Senior Vice President, Fuels & Facility Services, Penske Transportation Solutions Matt McLelland, VP of Sustainability and Innovation, Covenant Logistics Bill Bliem, Senior Vice President of Fleet Services, NFI Industries Patrick Browne, Vice President, Sustainability, UPS Emily Conway, Fleet Sustainability Manager, PepsiCo Jeff Wismans, National Director of Fleet Operations, UNFI Lisa McAbee, Vice President, McAbee Trucking Thomas Healy, CEO, Hyliion Craig Knight, CEO, Hyzon Motors Andreas Lips, CEO, Shell Recharge Solutions Pablo Koziner, President, Energy and Commercial, Nikola Motor Company Lining Zhou, President & Co-Founder, Coulomb Solutions (CATL) Aaron Gilmore, CEO, WAVE Çetin Meriçli, CEO & Co-Founder, Locomation Charlie Jatt, Head of Commercial Trucking, Waymo
The full list of ACT Expo speakers can be viewed on the ACT Expo site.
How much clean fuel can a cow provide per year? “With a good natural gas car, one cow could get you across the country,” said Neil Black, president of California Bioenergy, which installs the digesters that trap and repurpose the gas. “In addition to producing milk and cheese and yogurt and ice cream … each cow produces about 125 diesel gallon equivalents of methane a year.”
Aside from historic tensions between Russia and NATO-member countries, there’s another factor that appears to be driving some of the conflict over Ukraine. Russia is the world’s largest supplier of natural gas, providing about 40% of Europe’s supply. Russia might be able to manipulate the supply chain, including cutting off gas pipelines running through Ukraine.
Most of the natural gas used in Europe heats homes, and there’s a large part of it powering industry in the continent. Russia’s biggest customer has been Germany, which needs natural gas to heat homes and run factories. While German has invested heavily in wind power and other renewables, natural gas still leads the way.
That was behind German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visiting President Joe Biden at the White House this week. The main topic of discussion was a Russia-to-Germany pipeline called Nord Stream 2. While it’s not yet in operation, it’s been the source of NATO-member debate for years, with Germany supporting the pipeline but the U.S. has been worried that it would increase Europe’s dependence on more Russian energy.
It would be highly disruptive if Russia decides to cutoff natural gas to Europe — unlikely as much or Russia’s economy is energy dependent. But it could be used if military and economic tensions between Russians the U.S. continue to escalate. The game of chess continues as Russia prepares its large combat force to go to war, if necessary, and the U.S. struggles to build more NATA support for a potential armed conflict.
Russia could cut off gas exports via pipelines in Ukraine — which would have a harmful impact on Germany and Europe overall. That’s been a driver for Germany to send it chancellor over to Washington to meet with Biden. There’s also a concern from Germany and others that Europe’s already high energy prices could soar if Russia were to alter the supply.
Ford taking electric trucks and commercial vans seriously Ford is adding to the electric truck market through its F-Series — and more recently from an announcement it will begin shipping its all-new E-Transit electric commercial vans. Ford invested $100 million in Kansas City Assembly Plant and added approximately 150 full-time jobs to produce E-Transit as part of its commitment to American manufacturing. This vehicle follows the Mustang Mach-E sport utility vehicle, the F-150 lightning electric pickup, and the F-150 Lightning Pro, the first-ever all-electric F-Series truck purpose-built for commercial customers.
The company said it will be able to globally produce 600,000 battery electric vehicles by late 2023. The E-Transit already has more than 10,000 orders from businesses of all sizes and Ford is working on ways to increase production, the company said.
Ford is also selling another potential benefit to customers going the electric truck route. The company said it will be the first in the U.S. to offer the ability for customers to power their homes with the F-150 Lightning if the grid were to go dark. Ford and its F-Series until will be partnering with major solar company Sunrun to enhance home energy management. That comes soon after the nation saw its largest-ever energy interruptions during 2020.
BMW Brilliance being led by the German automaker BMW AG has an increased majority stake in its Chinese joint venture BMW Brilliance Automotive Ltd. (BBA). BBA just received the necessary business license from Chinese authorities, effective Feb. 11. It’s giving the German automaker a 75% stake and Chinese partner Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd. is indirectly holding the remaining 25%.
The BMW Group in 2020 worked with its Chinese partner on doubling battery production at the Tiexi, China, battery factory. That was done to increase supply coming from growing demand for its electric vehicles in that market.
These ownership changes have been in the works since 2018, when Tesla was given an exemption and kept full ownership of its Chinese operations. BMW first took a majority share in BMW Brilliance that year. But as of the beginning of this year, the Chinese government has stopped making the 50-50 mandate.
The government is taking a more cautious approach in other sectors as that ownership model continues to change across economic sectors. Much of that comes from its ridesharing giant Didi Global Inc’s controversial listing. Didi held an IPO in June last year, which placed pressure on Chinese companies doing business in the U.S. Filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission didn’t go well with Chinese authorities. China’s antitrust regulator, the State Administration of Market Regulators, ended up grilling leading Chinese tech companies last year, including Didi, about unfair competitive practices.
Shenzen, China-based BYD had a very good month — and year. Its EV sales totaled 92,926 and soared 367.6% of sales in January 2022 over that same month a year earlier. That followed a year of selling about 600,000 vehicles last year. Last fall, Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway was able to lead the raising of about $1.78 billion in stock placement on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
And in other news……… Trucker battle in Canada: Auto parts maker Magna International Inc said disruptions at the Ambassador bridge caused by Canadian trucker protests against Covid-19 vaccination mandates have started to have some initial impact on its operations. Since late January, convoys of truck drivers going from British Columbia to Ottawa have been blocking traffic to protest Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s mandate. Some of Magna’s automaker customers have had to cut or idle production due to the gridlock at the Canadian capital; the route has always been a key supply route for U.S. automakers.
Funding strong for EV charging and vehicles: The Biden administration yesterday announced $5 billion will be available to states to fund electric vehicle charging stations over the next five years. It came out of the administration’s $7.5 billion in infrastructure funds tied to expanding the nation’s network of EV chargers. It’s a very good time for the charging infrastructure and EV makers to gain necessary financial backing. It topped $19 billion last year, according to Crunchbase data — more than double what came through in 2020. Electric truck maker did well, raising $2.65 billion in January 2021 and another $2.5 billion in July of that year. The solid-state battery space is finding backers too for battery companies and OEMs.
Tesla is going through a bit of turbulence for a few reasons……. —A California civil rights agency sued Tesla this week, alleging racist harassment of and discrimination against black workers that has persisted for years at the company’s car assembly plant and other facilities in the state. That was tied into a three-year long investigation and review of hundreds of complaints from Tesla workers by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing. —Tesla will be recalling nearly 580,000 vehicles in the U.S.— coming from 10 recalls with two of them in the past couple of weeks as increasing scrutiny has come from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). One of the most recent recalls ordered Tesla to roll back a self-driving feature that caused the company’s cars to break the law. While Elon Musk said “there were no safety issues,” federal regulators disagree. Teslas has attempted to slow down but not completely stop at all-way intersections with stop signs, under very specific conditions. The company first introduced the so-called “rolling stop” feature back in October 2020 as part of an update to its Full Self-Driving beta software update.
It was a good year for clean transportation and sustainability efforts, but not so good for the overall state of things.
Stakeholders in the field continue to do an admirable job of pushing forward the issues for government support and funding, technology innovations, sustainable transportation projects, and increasing public support for electrified, clean fuel vehicles and renewable energy.
All that, while an unstable landscape continues.
Weather disasters increased, with evidence mounting of climate change intensifying. For those attending and following COP26 — the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland — a consensus came out that the new climate agreement was too watered down, that very little came from the conference.
Positive moves came out of Washington, D.C., especially supporting electric vehicle sales and infrastructure. But the federal government has been overshadowed by investigations into the Jan. 6, 2021, storming of the capitol and what came of it. And there’s the part about the federal budget not being passed yet. Of course, a resolution was passed that continues until Feb. 18. But if a deal isn’t reached and signed by the president, agencies will have to run at last year’s levels and not meet requests/demands for increases. And federal employees might not see their paychecks for a while, which is the case during typical budget agreement deals being dragged out.
The biggest issue of all — Covid-19 — is also continuing to present a distressing chain of events, with a small glimmer of hope coming through. Are we over the hump yet on it? When can we take off our masks?
It’s time to take a good look at how things are going in clean transportation and fuels — which is making very positive contributions to the planet, air quality, the economy, and opportunities for innovation. It’s also useful to look at what’s happening in the auto industry, affecting how well clean transportation adoption can go forward in 2022.
The state of the auto industry New vehicle sales in 2021 finished a little bit over 15 million, up 3.4% from last year. That was a slight uptick from 2020 — but still about 2 million units below the year before Covid-19 hit, according to the Associated Press. Sales would have been even higher if the supply of microchips had been enough, which wasn’t the case. General Motors felt it harder than several competitors; the company lost its mantle as the No. 1 selling automaker in the U.S. to Toyota. GM reported a 13% sale drop last year, while Toyota saw its U.S. sales rise 10.4% during the year to 2.3 million units.
The must-attend CES annual conference and trade show in Las Vegas closed one day early as a pandemic safety protocol, running from Jan. 5-7, 2022, according to the Consumer Technology Association. Automakers showed more of their presence in the autonomous vehicle arena, not to mention electric vehicles. More than a dozen new production and concept cars made their debut, including some from as far away as Turkey and Vietnam.
The Cadillac Halo Concept Portfolio was displayed, including InnerSpace, a two-passenger autonomous electric vehicle. GM and Qualcomm rolled out the Ultra Cruise cruise control product. GM’s Chevrolet Silverado EV drew a lot of attention at the conference.It’s scheduled to go on sale in 2023 as a battery-powered alternative in General Motors’ popular pickup offerings. Mercedes-Benz made a bold claim at CES — its EQXX concept gets 625 miles per charge and its batteries are 50 percent smaller and 30 percent lighter than those in its recently launched Mercedes-Benz EQS sedan. No production plans have been announced, but company executives say the batteries and other technologies will find their way into future Mercedes electric vehicles.
Bloomberg today published one of those articles we’ve seen quite a few times in the past decade: major automakers commit to knocking Tesla off its pedestal as the clear leader in plug-in electric vehicles. Volkswagen and Toyota are leading the charge, laying out $170 billion worth of investments to win, according to the article. We’ve heard many grand statements made by these and other companies; and yet, they still don’t really follow through. Let’s see how this one goes.
Tesla sees a good year Tesla said it delivered 308,600 electric vehicles in the fourth quarter of 2021, beating its previous single-quarter record as well as analysts’ expectations. For the full year, the electric automaker delivered 936,172 vehicles, an 87% increase versus 2020 when it reported its first annual profit on deliveries of 499,647.
The company’s new facility in Austin, Tex., known as Gigafactory Texas, will begin production in mid-January. The Model Y crossover, and the upcoming Cybertruck, will come from this plant. The company is operating plants in Fremont, Calif., Nevada, New York, and Shanghai; and will be opening soon in Berlin and Austin.
Stock market analysts wonder why CEO Elon Musk has beenselling so many of his Tesla shares, $16.4 billion worth since November. Perhaps $11 billion will go toward paying his federal tax bill; and another $2 billion could go toward paying off his $2 billion in taxes owed to the state of California. Some of it may go into his SpaceX company and into Gigafactory Texas. Musk did ask his Twitter followers for feedback on it in November before initiating a few efforts to sell those shares.
It probably helped for Musk to win the Time Magazine Person of the Year award for 2021. His credibility and support has been coming back.
The company just announced that it will be selling its “full self driving” (FSD) software for $12,000, up $2,000 from the previous price. Must tweeted on Friday that the new price will take affect on January 17th for customers “only in the U.S.”
Global EV sales Global passenger plug-in electric vehicle sales not only continued to increase, but reached a new all-time record in November 2021. According to EV-Volumes data, over 721,000 global new passenger plug-in electric vehicles were registered during that month. That was 72% more than that month in the previous year, and a new monthly high. Another new record was set with EVs making up 11.5% of new vehicles sales globally for that month. About 72% of the new EV sales were battery electric — making up about 518,000 units versus 203,000 going to plug-in hybrid electric vehicles globally in November.
U.S. sales of EVs jumped 83 percent in 2021 to 434,879, but represented only 3% of the market, according to data from analytics firm Wards Intelligence. In 2020, the electric share of new vehicle sales was approximately 2.4%, for a total of 306,000 units sold in the U.S. That broke out to about 66,200 plug-in hybrids and 240,100 battery electric vehicles, according to Transportation Energy Data Book: Edition 39, April 2021.
Forbes reported that Chinese automakers saw a very good sales year, with about three million EVs sold in that country last year. BYD’s EV sales increased 314% — from 189,689 in 2020 to 603,783 in 2021. Nio more than doubled sales volume with a 109% rise over 2020, coming in at 91,429 sold last year. Li Auto sold 90,491, a 177% increase over 2020. XPeng reported 98,155 EVs sold last year, a 263% increase over the previous year.
Green Car of the Year awards In November, Green Car Journal announced the winners of its annual awards that go back to 2005 — with a few new categories having been added in recent years. These awards have acknowledged introductions of new vehicles that decrease emissions, encourage energy diversity, and improve efficiency. And the winners are…………
2022 Green Car of the Year — Audi Q4 e-tron Other finalists included the BMW i4, Kia EV6, Rivian R1T, and Volvo C40 Recharge. 2022 Luxury Green Car of the Year – Lucid Air Vying for this award were also the Audi e-tron GT, BMW iX, Karma GS-6, and Mercedes-Benz EQS. 2022 Urban Green Car of the Year – Chevrolet Bolt Finalists included the Hyundai Kona Electric, Hyundai Venue, Kia Seltos, and MINI Cooper SE. 2022 Performance Green Car of the Year – Tesla Model S Plaid Among this award’s finalists were the Audi e-tron GT RS, Ford Mustang Mach-E GT, Lucid Air Dream Performance, and Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo Turbo S. 2022 Green SUV of the Year – Hyundai IONIQ 5 The top 5 finalists included Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe, Lexus NX, and Volkswagen ID.4. 2022 Commercial Green Car of the Year – BrightDrop EV 600 Finalists were the ELMS Urban Delivery EV, Ford E-Transit, Lightning eMotors Electric Van, and Rivian Electric Delivery Van. 2022 Green Truck of the Year – Ford Maverick Finalists included the GMC Hummer EV, Rivian R1T, and Toyota Tundra. 2022 Family Green Car of the Year – Toyota Sienna Finalists included Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, Honda Civic, Kia Sorento Hybrid/PHEV, and Volkswagen ID.4.
The state of government incentives The Biden administration set a goal for electric vehicles to make up 50% of all new car sales by the end of this decade in order to fight climate change through ramping up emissions-free vehicle technology. But the U.S. follows China and Europe— with about 4% of new sales going toward EVs in 2021, versus 9% in China and 14% in Europe.
Here’s a good look at the latest in federal tax incentives for purchasing EVs. Of course, it no longer applies to Tesla models as the company outsold its cap on available tax credit incentives. And Clean Vehicle Rebate Program offers a look at tax credits for fuel-cell vehicles, battery electric vehicles, and plug-in hybrid vehicles at the federal level and state level in California. Charging suppler ClipperCreek offers a state-by-state look at EV rebates and tax incentives.
The federal government is looking at three possible initiatives which would help grow the number of clean vehicles on U.S. roads: —Biden’s Build Back Better program includes a revamping of the system of federal tax credits for EV purchases. It could make improvements over the current tax credits with cash rebates, and incentive for buyers of used EVs, and it wold eliminate the incentive cap placed on Tesla and other automakers. —The administration’s Electric Vehicle Charging Action Plan would create two separate programs. One would be the Charging and Fueling Infrastructure grant program offering $2.5 billion in competitive grants for public EV charging; or in hydrogen, propane autos, or natural gas fueling stations. The National Electric Vehicle Formula Program will provide $5 billion in “formula funding” for states to use “to build a national charging network.” States will get to decide where funds go, and it’s expected not all of it will be placed in existing state EV charging infrastructure initiatives. —Another move was made at the regulatory level. In December, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized a set of new auto emissions standards. The new rules would be applied to model years 2023 through 2026. The new rule would require automakers to build passenger cars and light trucks with average fuel economy of 55 mpg by 2026. The current average figure is 38 mpg. It increases and extends the Obama administration’s mandate of averaging about 51 mpg by 2025. These rules will take effect, and could have a greater impact on moves by the automakers than the first two possible initiatives that were previously presented.
Another event move has been a joint effort by two federal agencies. The U.S. Dept. of Energy and Dept. of Transportation launched an initiative on Dec. 14, 2021, to build out a national EV charging network reaching 500,000 EV chargers. The agencies created a Joint Office of Energy and Transportation to support the deployment of $7.5 billion from the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to build out a national EV charging network focusing on filling gaps in rural, disadvantaged, and hard-to-reach locations.
States are playing a very significant role in clean vehicle manufacturing and refueling/recharging networks going forward, according to Gladstein Neandross & Associates (GNA). Through its Policy 360 program, GNA has observed that several state have adopted policies to require the sales or purchase of passenger and commercial zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). California continued to lead the way, with Policy 360 tracking several initiatives in 2021. They could set the precedent for what to expect in a number of states in 2022. For California, these actions included “ZEV sales and purchase mandates; increased incentives such as grants, rebates, and loans for the acquisition of electric vehicles and charging infrastructure; and the introduction of pilot programs and other studies to understand the impacts of zero emissions fees and taxes, vehicle production, and freight corridors,” GNA wrote in coverage of the program.
Topics to follow in the new year……….. 1. Biomethane advocacy nonprofit Energy Vision studiednine options that refuse fleets have available to power their vehicles. Fuels and technologies included biodiesel, renewable diesel, fossil, renewable natural gas (RNG), hybrid technologies, battery electric vehicles, dimethyl ether (DME), and hydrogen. The report found trucks equipped with natural gas engines powered by organic waste-derived RNG fuel achieved the greatest benefits at the lowest cost. These strong ratings included performance, cost, cutting lifecycle GHG emissions, and health-damaging pollutants. RNG-powered refuse trucks, compared to diesel-powered, see their nitrogen oxides emissions cut by 90% — and significant reduction in particulate emissions.
2. The electric vehicle grabbing most of the attention lately: 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning.
3. A major stumbling block for advancement of advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) to autonomous vehicles: the courtroom.
4. Keep your eyes on special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, which have been very attractive for more companies including batter company Solid Power, charging supplier ChargePoint, and EV startup Lucid Group.
5. International Energy Agency (IEA) says in a new report that the world’s capacity to generate electricity from solar panels, wind, and other renewable energy sources are on course to accelerate over the coming years, with 2021 expected to set a fresh all-time record for new installations.
6. A March 2021 analysis of the world’s 2,000 biggest publicly traded firms found that over 400 of them have embraced net-zero targets, according to Cleantech Group’s Ian Hayton, lead analyst, materials & chemicals. These 700 companies have some sort of neutrality pledge in place. These pledges came from several large firms across industries including Coca-Cola, General Motors, French utility Engie, and Nippon Steel.
7. Which type of vehicle is poised to lead the way over to autonomous vehicles? Commercial trucks.
8. The Hyundai Ioniq 5 electric SUV got an EPA-rating of more than 300 miles per charge. Pricing starts below $33,000 when you count in the $7,500 federal tax credit.