How Clean Transportation Gains Credibility and Presence, Global EV Sales Way Up

Taking a good look at news coverage illustrates the credibility and growing presence of clean transportation. Plug-in vehicles, fuel economy and emission standards, reducing urban traffic and air pollution, corporate sustainability, BYD continues getting global brand recognition, and more about Elon Musk and Tesla, were all given serious attention this week.

EV lifecycle longevity: As car buffs brag about being able to drive their electric vehicles well over a million miles, is that such a good thing for those making the cars and parts? EVs and their batteries are expected to see continued improvements for longevity, performance, and efficiency. But this will bring an even bigger challenge to global automakers. Can you make them like Apple’s iPhones, where users have to upgrade to a new phone every few years?

New CAFE standards are not enough: While the federal government’s corporate average fuel economy standards have been valuable since first starting during the 1973-74 oil embargo, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration could do a better job of supporting zero-emission vehicles. That comes from Zero Emission Transportation Association’s Executive Director Albert Gore on NHTSA’s CAFE standards just being raised to 50.4 miles per gallon by model year 2031. Electric vehicles are doing much better than gasoline-powered vehicles. Proof of this statement: the Top Ten for model year 2024 are all EVs and average more than 122 MPGe.

What about congestion pricing? New York City, Boston, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., have all been exploring tactics to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution. They’d like to follow the leads of several international cities that have banned cars on certain streets at certain times. New York was preparing to launch a fee that would be charged to drivers in parts of Manhattan; and that revenue would be used to better fund public transportation. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has postponed the implementation of the city’s congestion pricing plan indefinitely, citing economic concerns. Congestion pricing remains stuck in New York and the other U.S. cities for now.

Tree planting to save the planet: Hyundai Motor North America is doing a great job of illustrating why corporate sustainability should be a priority — saving the planet. The automaker has added to its partnership with nonprofit organization, One Tree Planted, to plant an additional 300,000 trees this year throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. This year’s contribution will result in a total of 650,000 trees planted since the start of the partnership in 2022. One Tree Planted’s goal is to restore forests around the world, supporting efforts to restore the earth’s habitat for biodiversity and to help fellow humans survive and thrive well into the future.

BYD brand becoming better known: According to the latest Kantar BrandZ Most Valuable Global Brands 2024 report, BYD has successfully retained its position within the Top 10 global automotive brands for the second consecutive year, with a brand value exceeding US$10 billion. Kantar BrandZ is based on setting standards for industry-leading brand valuation, combined with research from the world’s largest and most extensive brand equity study: 4.3 million consumers covering 21,000 brands across 525 categories in 54 markets. BYD thinks the fact that it is operating across four major industries — automotive, rail transit, new energy, and electronics — is why it’s been able to establish a strategic presence across six continents. As for new energy vehicles (battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles), BYD has sold over 7.6 million NEVs.

Sexual harassment at SpaceX: Charges of sexual harassment and blurring the lines between a professional workplace and private lives have come up again for SpaceX and its CEO Elon Musk. While also heading Tesla, X, Boring Co., Neuralink, and xAi, Musk has also found enough time to have a sexual relationship with a former SpaceX intern, who he later hired onto his executive team, according to The Wall Street Journal. There was also another sexual relationship with a second employee; and a third woman employee said that Musk asked her several times to have his children but she refused. He then denied her a raise and complained about her performance, this employee said. It’s been more than just Musk. In 2021, five former SpaceX employees said there was a “culture of sexual harassment” in the company. One of those women described multiple instances of being groped.

Musk’s $56 billion pay: A Tesla shareholder vote this afternoon on whether to reinstate CEO Elon Musk’s $56 billion pay package that was shot down by a Delaware judge will get passed, Musk said. Late on Wednesday, he said that Tesla shareholders have communicated that they’ll re-approve the pay package, which would get a formal vote the next day. Shareholders will address the pay package from 2018 along with moving the car company’s incorporation state to Texas, at the company’s annual meeting.

What’s up with Cybertruck: You may have noticed the futuristic 2024 Tesla Cybertruck parked somewhere near you. It’s a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive model, which starts at about $80,000; there’s a $20,000 package where you can add the “Foundation Series” package with a few extra features. Steering takes place through the steer-by-wire and four-wheel steer, which brings maneuverability features to make the Cybertruck more like a pickup truck than a tank. Body panels are made from stainless steel and buyers will later have the option of buying armored-glass windows. It’s become the most controversial EV ever, which discussions delving into its looks, safety, and credibility as a truck.

Supercharger becoming Ionna?: The Tesla Supercharger had been the big hope for many about a shared fast-charger network. That’s taken a plunge recently with the company cutting out the entire Supercharger team. It doesn’t affect Ionna’s plans to put 30,000 high-power urban and highway-adjacent fast-charging connectors in the U.S. and Canada. The charging network — based in Durham, N.C., and backed by BMW, Honda, General Motors, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, and Stellantis — got the commitment it needed late last year; and now it says that Tesla’s shutdown will not get in its way. The startup joint venture charging network company said that a total of seven “Quarterback Labs” will be placed around the country. These will be designed to help each participating automaker address charging issues following software updates, tackle customer issues closer to the source, and offer interoperability testing. The JV company plans to have a few DC fast chargers up and running by the end of 2024.

And in other news…………

Q1 plug-in sales way up: More than 3.2 million new passenger plug-in electric vehicles were registered globally during the first quarter of 2024, which is about 25% more than a year earlier. BYD Group took the lead with 624,398 units registered (19.4% share). Tesla registered 386,825 units (12% share), Geely-Volvo registered 251,106 units (7.8% share), Volkswagen Group registered 205,652 units (6.4% share), and Chinese automaker SAIC registered 190,409 units (5.9% share). EV-Volumes researcher Jose Pontes, said that these five groups continue to be responsible for more than half of all plug-in car sales.

New resources for hydrogen and fuel cells: The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office (HFTO) just launched a new web resource, Clean Hydrogen and Environmental Justice. The new webpage and related links provides a centralized resource that serves both to present HFTO’s environmental justice (EJ) work externally, as well as to solicit input from stakeholders. It covers a wide range of topics, including; common concerns expressed by communities about clean hydrogen; and background on the principles of environmental justice and the Justice40 Initiative. An outline of HFTO’s EJ strategy, with detailed discussion of all aspects of that strategy, is also available.

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