What AI could mean for clean transportation and mobility

The first-ever factory robotic was tried out by GM in 1961.

It’s been fascinating to see artificial intelligence become an even more significant, pervasive topic than Covid-19 in the news this year. While it certainly didn’t start this year, it took a turn on Nov. 30, 2022, with the release of the ChatGPT, an AI chatbot developed by OpenAI. Congressional hearings this month with Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, have stirred the pot even more.

In late May 2014, Google launched its first self-driving test car at its corporate campus. That event launched a huge wave of attention and discourse — and ambitious announcements made by automotive CEOs. While that technology is still in development, and awaits government approval to roll out on roads beyond where it stands today, AI was always a core theme and actuality that would come up during discourse.

Here’s an overview on how significant it has been for the auto industry and its potential for advanced, clean transportation………….. 

  1. Follow the money
    Following an excellent earnings report issued by technology company Nvidia, its shares shot up 24.4% on the NYSE yesterday — a near-record gain in a one-day increase in market capitalization for a US company. Nvidia is a key player in the game. It makes the chips used to train AI platforms such as ChatGPT, which powered the company’s training by using 10,000 Nvidia graphic processing units (GPUs) on a Microsoft supercomputer, according to the BBC.

Crunchbase reported that $20 billion has been raised by startups using AI in 2023.

According to equity market analyst PitchBook’s report, venture capitalists have steadily increased their positions in generative AI, from $408 million in 2018 up to $4.8 billion in 2021 and $4.5 billion in 2022. Generative AI is a type of AI system capable of generating text, images, or other media in response to prompts. It rapidly learns the patterns and structures of their input training data, and then generates new data that’s very similar.

ChatGPT falls into this segment, with GPT standing for Generative Pretrained Transformer architecture. That language model tool can answer questions and assist users with tasks, such as composing emails, essays, and code. While all this attention has raised concerns over job loss in several categories, arguments are also being made about the benefits the technology can bring to assist workers in this fast-changing, stressful workplace. One ChatGPT rival, Anthropic, recently raised $450 million in Series C funding.

Bessemer Venture Partners, one of the oldest venture firms in the U.S., has set aside $1 billion of its most recent fund solely for investments in AI. Sameer Dholakia, a partner at the firm, sees this level of investment in AI inevitable. He sees the adoption curve being much faster than previous platform shifts such as cloud computing.

“Literally trillions of dollars of value gets created when you have these massive tectonic shifts,” Dholakia said.

2. It’s been in the works for over 60 years Manufacturing robotics: The first robotic system was introduced in New Jersey, on a General Motors assembly line, in 1961. Today, the auto industry is usually considered to be the fastest and most extensive adopter of the technology with the focus on creating the most efficiient supply chainz. That hasn’t always gone over well with UAW and job loss, but union contracts and management pratices have had to adapt to these significant changes over the years.
Cruise control: American Motors introduced the first car with that option in 1965. After the OPEC oil embargo and gasoline price crisis of 1973, it gained popularity as a way to drive efficiently and save gas.
Telematics: General Motors launched OnStar in 1996, which at first become the first-ever in-vehicle telematics system; along with a safety emergency service responding to airbag deployments. Other safety and convenience services were added over the years tied to smartphones and dashboards.
Connectivity: Over the past 15 years, connected, semi-autonomous features have been added — lane changing, safety warnings, self parking, app to car connectivity, entertainment/infotainment, security functions, and eventually, vehicle-to-vehicle communications. Mass adoption of the iPhone and Android phones was behind this surge.

  1. Autonomous electric vehicles depend on AI to clear safety standards
    About eight years ago, I moderated a panel during a Clean Cities event that discussed future modes of transportation and urban mobility that were going to be tested and eventually deployed. One moment that stood out was how much everyone in the room seemed to agree that autonomous electric vehicles made a great deal of sense — and needed to be developed. These vehicles need a lot less maintenance and replacement parts, and would maximize the energy stored in their batteries.

Perhaps the biggest barrier to overcome for autonomous vehicles to become viable is resolving the safety question. AI is being used to simulate real-world conditions to safety-test autonomous vehicles. Without AI, there will be no self-driving vehicles.

General Motors, and several other global automakers, sees all of this coming together in the near future. Personal vehicles with internal combustion engines played a vital role in giving Americans a great sense of personal freedom in their lives. But that also brought about huge challenges in the form of pollution, congestion and accidents.

“At GM, our vision of a future with Zero Crashes, Zero Emissions and Zero Congestion has guided the development of our self-driving test vehicles and our belief that all fully autonomous vehicles should be electric vehicles,” the company said on its website.

  1. Driving is heading toward a new wave of ease, safety, traffic avoidance, and efficiency
    Wendy Gonzalez, CEO of Sama,  which provides best data annotation services for AI and machine learning models, sees AI’s contribution being the driving force behind transforming vehicles through integrated innovations across the industry.

Autonomous vehicle manufacturers must create datasets that will ensure their AI can enable safe hands-free driving. That will be the primary element for enabling accident prevention — accurate risk assessment and monitoring the driver.

This technology revolution can enhance the luxury experience and personalize the vehicle, she said. AI can tap into machine learning to adapt the vehicle specifically to that driver, according the Porsche. The automakers trained more than 270 machine learning models during development to create the most effective recommendations possible — with its AI recommendations becoming more than 90% accurate; and with accuracy improving through each use and data input.

In-car voice assistance is another pathway to reacing a high level of efficiency and safety, Gonzalez said. It used to be offered only in luxury vehicles, but 90% of all new vehicles sold globally are likely going to have voice assistants by 2028. Saying, “Hey Honda” (or whatever manufacturer made that vehicle), “turn on my Apple Music,” is much safer than the driver becoming distracted and unsafe to have that perk.

  1. Going outside the norm, with SPACs being a good example of it
    Anything to do with AI is requiring a “thinking outside the box” approach. There’s always the humans vs. machines paradigm, and fear of something going very wrong. Backers of AI appear to be driven by the other side of that coin — creating much better living conditions for fellow human beings in upcoming centuries. And if you’re worried about massive job cuts, then what about all the good jobs it will take to build out and manufacture the technology, repair and maintain it, manage and direct it, learn from it, and carry it over to 2.0 versions?

Special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) have been one of the alternative routes that AI startups are using to get the funding needed for R&D and to find financial backers. It may not get as much respect and street cred as IPOs, but it might be a more advantageous route to take — as was discovered in recent years by electric vehicle startups. In AI, SPAC funding rounds began showing up and working out; and are still part of the business plans for a few startups. iLearningEngines, a training provider offering “AI-powered learning automation,” announced in April that it plans to list on Nasdaq at an initial valuation of around $1.4 billion through a merger with shell company Arrowroot Acquisition Corp. Finding that senior partner company, or more than one, is part of getting SPAC deals made.

News Synopsis —
A few snippets of need-to-know news stories………….

Tesla and Ford just announnced a previously unheard-of alliance. The two companies went on Twitter Spaces for a live audio discussion between Tesla’s Elon Musk and Ford’s Jim Farley. Current Ford vehicle owners will get to access 12,000 Tesla supercharges across the US and Canada beginning early next year; but they’ll need to get an adapter. Next-gen Ford electric vehicle owners will receive Tesla’s charging plug; that will begin in mid-decade.

Two South Korean giants, Hyundai Motor Group and LG Energy Solution, have forged an EV battery cell manufacturing joint venture in the U.S. Starting construction in the second half of this year, the JV plans to start battery production at the end of 2025 at the earliest.

Tesla may have failed to protect 100 gigabytes of confidential data leaked by a whistleblower, according to Germany’s Handelsblatt data protection watchdog for the Netherlands. That data was tied to customers, employees and business partners, according to the agency.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) this week announced the Clean Fuels & Products Shot, with the goal of substantially decreasing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) coming from carbon-based fuels used by the fuel and chemical industries. That decrease would come from utilizing more environmentally friendly carbon sources, that would target a minimum reduction of 85% in GHG emissions compared to fossil-based sources by 2035.

Citi analyst Itay Michaeli wrote in a recent note to clients that things are not as bad for Tesla as you might think — with all the competition the company is facing and the negative attention that Twitter-focused CEO Elon Musk has been going through. The electric vehicle maker’s brand loyalty is staying strong, according to quarterly S&P Global data, and in a report from Barron’s. The data analytics show that Tesla’s brand loyalty remains high and that the automaker continues to take share away from other automakers.

Lyft leaving ridesharing, and the future of car ownership

What’s next for clean, automated, efficient, and safe transportation? Well, that boils down to a case-by-case basis. For example, the No. 2 in America ride-hailing company is getting out of the ridesharing business.

Lyft Inc. announced it’s officially ending shared rides, according to the company’s new CEO David Risher. Customers are tired of being taken away from their intended route and putting in extra time on the ride, Bloomberg reported.

Market leader Uber is going to stay in the shared ride service. The company is still moving forward with reviving its carpool service, now dubbed UberX Share. The company today rolled out its Uber Carpool ride (available during peak commute hours) option where you can lock in your price; and you can expect to pay 35% less than you’d pay for UberX, according to the company. It pairs customers up with riders going in the same direction.

Lyft would like to make the airport ride pickup easier for customers. Customers can now hail a ride the moment they land, as opposed to putting in the request when arriving and moving over to the pickup area, Risher said.

The May 2023 edition of Green Auto Market’s Market Intel explored this question of what’s happening in mobility in the context of what’s going with car ownership. While car ownership and new and used vehicle sales have stayed high in the US, there are several indicators out there showing that a deep downward shift is well on its way. This is being driven by economic factors, concerns over traffic congestion and safety, air pollution, and climate change rules.

For many urban transportation planners, taking a multi-facedted approach to the future of mobility is becoming a necessity. Let’s take a look at a few figures:

  1. The average annual cost of ownership in the US has gone up to $9,282 per year recently, a five percent increase over the the previous year. Where does all that come from? Fuel costs, maintenance, repair, and tires costs went up about 10% with vehicle registration and tax fees also seeing their way up.
  2. Car prices have gone up significantly — Kelley Blue Book reporting that the biggest price increases last year was for full-size cars (up 12.6 percent to $48,314). Luxury cars and vans also had significant price increases. It’s part of why Tesla has lowered its MSRPs in recent months — to increase sales share and to adapt to car buyers facing significant price increases on several fronts.
  3. The charging infrastructure needs some work. That’s a recurring theme for electric vehicle owners of all types — from fleet operators to veteran EV owners. They’d like to see more consistency and availability for fast charging, and to see consistent rate prices for recharging away from home or work.
  4. The question of when autonomous vehicles will become available beyond the test phase is still a mystery. Last year, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) gave permits to self-driving units of General Motors and Alphabet Inc to allow for passenger service in autonomous vehicles with safety drivers present for the Cruise and Waymo divisions, respectively. The Phoenix market is seeing a lot of activity here. Waymo One and May Mobility are providing services to small groups of customers, and are poised to expand their businesses to other markets when the regulatory environment clears.
  5. However, nearly two thirds of Americans are still concerned about the safety of taking self-driving vehicles. Roughly six-in-ten adults (63%) say they would not want to ride in a driverless passenger vehicle if they had the opportunity, while a much smaller share (37%) say they would want to do this. According to Pew Research. Makers of autonomous vehicle (AV) technology will have to work together to get Americans over the hump — such as participating in test rides, and finding ways to use AVs for practical purposes — such as shuttle rides on college campuses and senior living facilities, and other practical applications.

Vehicles — sales trends, launches, incentives and funding, regulatory, vehicle manufacturer news

The North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) was present last week at ACT Expo to share about, among several items, its Run on Less – Electric DEPOT program. This event will feature eight fleet depots with 15+ Class 3 to 8 battery electric vehicles (BEVs) operating in the U.S., Canada, or Mexico. These eight fleets have been chosen for the research project. The end goal is to provide more clarity on fleet scaling considerations such as charging infrastructure, engagement with utilities, total cost of ownership management, driver and technician training, charge management, and more. It will also highlight effective partnerships between fleets, OEMs, and utilities — with a deep dive look into utilities, charging equipment, and construction.

Sustainability and carbon reduction — setting and hitting targets, studies, regulatory, global alliances, sustainability drives

“Hertz Electrifies Orlando” Hertz and the city of Orlando have launched Hertz Electrifies Orlando, a public private partnership aimed at accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) and expanding the environmental and economic benefits of electrification across Orlando. Hertz will be adding up to 6,000 rental EVs to its existing fleet in Orlando, for availability to leisure and business customers as well as rideshare drivers.

To help expand charging, Hertz will support the installation of up to 50 public fast chargers across the Greater Orlando area, in partnership with bp (BP plc oil company). In addition, Hertz is working with Orange Technical College (OTC) to help bring EV tools and training to its auto servicing students. Hertz is also making summer jobs available through the city’s Summer Youth Employment Program. Hertz Electrifies Orlando aligns with Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer’s 2030 Electric Mobility Roadmap goals to accelerate EV adoption in multiple transportation sectors and develop a robust charging ecosystem to reduce emissions that harm public health, bolster climate change resilience, and increase access and affordability for all communities.

SVT Fleet Solutions (SVT) has restructured the company to focus on comprehensive fleet solutions on pressing issues — from regulatory compliance and funding support to zero-emission vehicle procurement and operations. SVT President Don Kelley sees taking an end-to-end fleet management approach even more necessary with actions being taken such as California’s recently passed Advanced Clean Fleets Rule.

The company’s executive team is bringing together resources for fleet management clientele including regulatory compliance support; a fleet sustainability strategy to help clients hit emission targets cost effectively; covering the spectrum for vehicle funding and financing including identifying and securing grant funding and incentives to reduce total cost of ownership for low-and-zero emission vehicles; and analyzing diverse procurment options from light-to-heavy vehicles that include battery-electric, propane autogas, natural gas, and fuel-cell powered cars, vans, and trucks.

Other services offered include comprehensive uptime support that taps into predictive analytics; centralized fleet administration support that will also assist clients in driver recruitment and retention strategies; and managing vehicle remarketing for vehicles reaching end of useful lives or fixed terms.

ACT Expo Marked a New Phase for Clean Vehicles Being Integral in Hitting the Net Zero Target

More than 12,000 attendees went to ACT Expo 2023 last week at the Anaheim Convention Center.

There were plenty of signs that the clean transportation business is going through a growth surge:
1. The event outgrew the Long Beach Convention Center, with 12,000 attendees this year versus 8,000 last year. It’s gotten to the point where the conference will move to Las Vegas next year and back to Anaheim in two years, but not having to share the space with another conference (a nursing convention) as was the case this year.
2. The rollouts and announcements were nonstop, with big announcements coming from major truck builders on the electric and hydrogen fronts.
3. Conference speakers called out the fact that commercial trucks — medium- and heavy-duty — make up less than 5% of vehicles on U.S. roads but make up 23% of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the U.S. Dept. of Energy. Ground transportation will make for a big part of the global challenge, that the U.S. has committed to, of reaching net zero by 2050. Panel speakers expect that by 2040, key achievements will be met in the clean vehicles and in the fueling and charging infrastructure needed to make it all happen.
4. The exhibit hall was packed with booths and vehicle displays — from Volvo Construction’s electric powered crane (the EC 230 Electric Excavator) to BYD’s electric school bus.
5. Gaps still need to be overcome in the electric vehicle charging and hydrogen fueling station networks to serve this growth trend in zero-emission trucks. However, Nikola Corp. had some good news here. The company is getting up to $1 billion for 50 of its planned hydrogen fueling stations. Infrastructure developer Voltera Inc. has agreed to build the stations under a five-year agreement.

Here are a few highlights from the conference and expo:

Day two keynoter Dana CEO Jim Kamsickas gave a history lesson going back close to 200 years ago — and how far it’s all come along. “We are in the midst of disruptive change in commercial transportation,” he said. “The convergence of innovative technology around us has influenced the way we develop our vehicles, with software becoming the defining force for connectivity, autonomy, tracking, and predictive maintenance.”

The State of Sustainable Fleets — 2023 Market Brief was released. Diesel trucks will be sunsetting earlier than expected as the roadmap to zero-emission vehicles gets set out in many states. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a heavy-duty engine rule in late 2022 that sets the strictest national standards ever on emissions that contribute to air pollution. This report came out days after the California Air Resources Board’s new Advanced Clean Fleets (ACF) rule was released. It will require that all new medium- and heavy-duty vehicles sold or registered in the state of California will be zero-emission by 2036. 

Hydrogen fuel cell trucks played a leading role on the show floor as it plays a significant part in zero emission vehicle (ZEV) targets being met. Hyundai Motor debuted the mass-production model of its class 8 fuel cell electric truck tractor, XCIENT Fuel Cell. Toyota said it will place its fuel cell powertrains in Kenworth and Peterbilt vehicles.

Electric medium- and heavy-duty trucks filled much of the floor space. Freightliner-owned Daimler unveiled a new medium-duty truck brand, eM2. Mack Trucks just doubled its zero-emissions vehicle offerings with the new MD Electric medium-duty truck. Navistar’s International Class 6 eMV now has a factory-installed optional ePower and electric power take-off electrical system. The truckmaker also announced that its Class 8 battery electric vehicle will go into production in 2024 with a few demo units expected on the road later this year.

PepsiCo confirmed it will enter at least one of its Tesla Semi trucks in the ‘Run On Less’ trucking industry event later this year. It will be Pepsico’s entry in the North American Council for Freight Efficiency’s Run on Less – Electric Depot. NACFE Executive Director Mike Roeth reported that data will be streamed on the Semi’s daily routes during September’s run.

Volvo Trucks North America tripled its Certified Electric Vehicle Dealerships from 12 to 36 locations, with 56 more coming up — all of this in less than a year.

Cummins Inc. announced the launch of Accelera by Cummins, a new brand for its New Power business unit. Accelera provides a diverse portfolio of zero-emissions solutions for many of the world’s most vital industries empowering customers to accelerate their transition to a sustainable future. The company says the line-up emphasizes the role that hydrogen will play as part of “Destination Zero.” The company is also working on electrolyzers that can produce hydrogen that can power both a hydrogen-fueled internal combustion engine (H2-ICE) concept truck and a fuel cell electric powertrain.

Winners of this year’s ACT Expo Fleet Awards:

  • Leading Off-Road Fleet: Sunbelt Rentals
  • Leading School Fleet: Lower Merion School District 
  • Transit and Mobility Award: Montgomery County, Maryland 
  • Leading Private Fleet: Manhattan Beer Distributors 
  • Leading Airport Fleet: Kansas City International Airport 
  • Leading Public Fleet: New York City Fleet
  • Leading Carrier: Performance Team Logistics LLC 
  • In It for the Long-Haul Award: NFI 

GreenPower unveiled the EV Star Utility, a purpose-built, all-electric, all-aluminum utility stake bed truck. The EV Star Utility is built on the company’s EV Star Cab & Chassis and is designed for vocational applications such as landscaping, construction, agriculture, public works and more.
Hino Trucks has signed a distribution agreement with Hexagon Purus to exclusively distribute a complete battery electric tractor. This tractor will utilize Hexagon Purus’ proprietary zero-emission technology, including battery systems, auxiliary modules, power modules and the vehicle-level software and is developed to operate on Hino’s XL 4×2 tractor cab chassis.
Peterbilt displayed its Model 520EV refuse configuration featuring the industry’s first all-electric side loader body from Heil.  In contrast to traditional hydraulically powered bodies, this electric-actuated body uses no hydraulics while on route and is fully integrated with the 520EV. The company said that it results in an energy-efficient vehicle with single point of charge and increased range. Peterbilt also displayed its Model 579 equipped with Aurora L4 advanced autonomous technology. 

Southern California-based Tom’s Truck Center has just added Nikola Corp’s battery-electric Class 8 truck to its electric commercial truck lineup. They are now available for sale at Tom’s two dealerships (along Interstate 5 in Santa Ana, Calif. and Santa Fe Springs, Calif.), and a fuel cell version is expected by the end of the year. Tom’s has also invested in charging stations at its two locations.

Hyzon Motors, a supplier of zero-emission heavy-duty fuel cell electric vehicles, released its white paper, Designing the Future of Fuel Cells, a white paper describing the Company’s progress toward producing a single stack 200kW fuel cell system. The company reported that most original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have opted to combine two complete sets of 90-150kW fuel cell systems. Hyzon’s in-house fuel cell system design and production, combined with a strategic network of suppliers, means that its 200kW fuel cell system offers a single stack that generates enough electricity to meet these power requirements, the company said.

Shell displayed the Starship 3.0, which is powered by a Cummins X15N natural gas engine that will run on Shell Renewable Natural Gas (RNG).“Shell Starship 3.0 will feature some of the best-in-class technologies which are leading the way forward in helping decarbonize the heavy transport sector,” said Dr. Selda Gunsel, President of Shell Global Solutions and VP Fuels and Lubricants Technology, Shell.

Questions You May Have About the CARB Advanced Clean Fleets Rule

  1. How does the California Air Resources Board’s new Advanced Clean Fleets (ACF) rule differ from the Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT) rule?

The first one from 2020 (ACT) was targeted at vehicle manufactuers, and the new rule applies to fleets. ACT was aimed at manufacturers who certify Class 2b-8 chassis or complete vehicles with combustion engines who must sell zero-emission trucks as an increasing percentage of their annual state sales from 2024 to 2035. By 2035, zero emission trucks/chassis sales in California would need to be 55% of Class 2b – 3 truck sales, 75% of Class 4 – 8 straight truck sales, and 40% of truck tractor sales. 

Under ACF, fleet owners will be on a longer track with their fleets. All new medium- and heavy-duty vehicles sold or registered in the state of California will be zero-emission by 2036. Existing vehcles will be able to continue operating through their useful life. For those operating vehicles for private services such as last-mile delivery and federal fleets such as the Postal Service, along with state and local government fleets, the transition will begin in 2024. Drayage trucks will need to reach zero-emissions by 2035. Last mile delivery and yard trucks must transition by 2035, work trucks and day cab tractors must be zero-emission by 2039, and sleeper cab tractors and specialty vehicles must be zero-emission by 2042.

2. Which technologies will be considered zero emissions?

Battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell medium-to-heavy-duty vehicles. Commercial trucks powered by renewable natural gas (RNG) and renewable diesel (RD) don’t fall directly under the zero-emission vehicle target. However, the CARB board did direct staff to coordinate with relevant state agencies on how non-fossil biomethane from sources related to the state’s wastewater and food waste diversion requirements under SB1383 can be used in hard-to-decarbonize sectors as part of the transition. They’ve asked them to report to the Board, by the end of 2025, any actions needed to accomplish the transition. CARB and other state and regional agencies encourage and incentive RNG and RD fleet usage. Using RNG is supported by CARB to reduce methane from organic wastes and other applications to help achieve California’s climate goals. In November, CARB approved amendments to the In-Use Off-Road Diesel-Fueled Fleets Regulation aimed at further reducing emissions from the off-road sector. It requires the use of R99 or R100 renewable diesel in off-road diesel vehicles.

3. What are some of the gains CARB has cited to set the new guidelines?

The new rule, ACF, will put California on a path toward accomplishing Gov. Gavin Newsom’s goal of fully transitioning the trucks that travel across the state to zero-emissions technology by 2045. While trucks represent only 6% of the vehicles on California’s roads, they account for over 35% of the state’s transportation generated nitrogen oxide emissions and a quarter of the state’s on-road greenhouse gas emissions, according to CARB. California communities that sit near trucking corridors and warehouse locations with heavy truck traffic have some of the worst air in the nation. Due to the impact that truck traffic has on residents living near heavily trafficked corridors, drayage trucks will need to be zero-emissions by 2035. 

The new rule is expected by CARB to generate $26.6 billion in health savings from reduced asthma attacks, emergency room visits, and respiratory illnesses. For fleet operators concerned about cost containment, going this route will save an estimated $48 billion in their total operating costs from the transition through 2050. California is set to invest almost $3 billion between 2021 and 2025 in zero-emission trucks and infrastructure. This investment is a part of a $9 billion multi-year, multi-agency zero-emissions vehicle package to equitably decarbonize the transportation sector that was agreed upon by Governor Gavin Newsom and the legislature in 2021.

An analysis of the sales and purchase requirements by CARB estimates that about 1.7 million zero-emission trucks will be on California roads by 2050. 

4. What about the infrastructure? What’s next?

For more than a decade, California has been making investments in infrastructure and to support the development and adoption of zero-emissions vehicles. The Joint Statement of Intent created the structure for collaboration between CARB, the California Energy Commission, the California State Transportation Agency, California Transportation Commission, California Department of Transportation, the Department of General Services, and the Governor’s Office of Economic and Business Development. These agencies will continue to plan, develop, deploy, and help to fund the extensive network of electric charging and hydrogen stations required to help get California to zero-emissions by 2045.

5. What does the market look like?

There are hundreds of models on the market in California now, with several of their builders making announcements at this year’s ACT Expo. They’re getting better for range and meeting most fleet applications, designed to meet their daily usage schedules. Volvo, Daimler Truck, and Volkswagen’s Traton are offering different-size battery electric models to logistics clients in Europe and the U.S. The list continues in medium-to-heavy duty offerings from PACCAR, Nikola, Navistar, Rivian, BYD, Freightliner, Mack Trucks, Peterbilt, Kenworth, Motiv Power Systems, and more. 

GAM Market Intel: Why car ownership is going away gradually
What’s the best bet for urban mobility, reducing air pollution, making mobility safer, and less restricted by traffic? It may not be about car ownership. While car ownership and new and used vehicle sales have stayed high in the US, there are several indicators out there showing that a deep downward shift is well on its way. This is being driven by economic factors, concerns over traffic congestion and safety, air pollution, and climate change rules. Let’s start by taking a look at the pragmatic dollars and sense side of it, coming from the AAA annual report. The average annual cost of ownership in the US has gone up to $9,282 per year, a five percent increase over the the previous year.

Here’s the link to the latest edition of GAM Market Intel, and previous versions………


STTN launches comprehensive resources for travel and transportation companies to hit sustainability targets and build strong networks

Sustainable Travel & Transportation Network was launched on April 24, offering a community-based marketplace that provides a platform for users to meet carbon emissions targets and find travel partners committed to sustainable operations and services. STTN provides comprehensive resources for companies to create sustainable travel supply chains. The company provides training, resources, and opportunities for participating members to build greater efficiencies, better-managed procurement processes, and the ability to integrate sustainability as a core business value and goal in the travel, transportation, and tourism sectors. STTN works from a comprehensive vision of what sustainability means for network members — environmental, social, and economic factors that are expected to be reached by stakeholders including customers, board members, shareholders, and governing bodies.

The company’s co-founders are Sara Richardson, previously the founder and president of non-profit business development association RAS International; and Patricia Charla, previous co-founder for environmental certification and consultancy Tech360. Faculty for training programs include sustainable travel consultancy TravelHorst founder Horst Bayer and IGManagement managing director Bernard Harrop; sustainability software GreenFeet founder Lisa McKelvey is also part of the company’s leadership team.

STTN is designed for corporate travel managers, travel management companies and travel agencies, accommodation and destination service providers, sustainability officers, transportation service providers, and other service providers and supporters, to meet environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals through efficient, achievable, and durable practices. Participating members will be guided and supported in how to achieve STTN certification, which complies with carbon offsets that must be measurable, monitored over time, and validated by an independent third party, the United Nations (UN), or a government body. For more information, visit the website at www.sttnetwork.com.

Details on the new EPA proposed vehicle emissions standards: What’s distinct about the new proposed set of emissions guidelines for passenger and commercial vehicles announced this month by EPA administrator Michael Regan? By 2032 about two-thirds of new passenger vehicles will have to be zero emissions — which mean battery- and fuel cell-powered vehicles. Internal analysis found that with nearly 70 percent EVs sold by 2032 and about 40 percent in medium-duity vehicles would be a pathway for successfully complying, Medum-duty breaks out to vehicles in the 8,501 to 14,000 pound range. It can also be heavy-duty vehicles such as semi trucks, tractors, buses, cherry pickers, and delivery vans. The end goal is to reduce close to 10 billion metric tons of carbon-dioxide emissions.

There are currently loopholes in the EPA first draft that favor SUVs and crossovers, which have been very popular in US new vehicles sales — up there with pickup trucks. Overall, the federal government and lawmakers face that age-old question: If you build it, will they come? Will car shoppers be buying them? EVs tend to be more expensive than their gasoline-powered equivalents, and with interest rates going up, it’s getting more costly to borrow money to buy a new car or truck.

Climate Investments: For those interested in tapping into California’s vast financial resources supporting clean transportation, you might want to attend California Air Resources Board’s (CARB’s) virtual public workshop on funding guidelines for agencies that administer California Climate Investments. California Climate Investments implemented nearly 19,500 new projects through $1.3 billion in funding in 2022 alone, with $933 million directly benefiting disadvantaged communities and low‑income communities and households, according to the state. This workshop takes place May 8, 2023, at 2:00 pm PST.

Renewable NG tax credit introduced: Rep. Linda T. Sánchez, D-Calif., and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., earlier this month introduced the Renewable Natural Gas Incentive Act, which would provide a tax credit for renewable natural gas that is used in heavy-duty vehicles in order to immediately reduce greenhouse gas and particulate emissions while further supporting clean and efficient transportation across the country.   “This tax credit will allow transit agencies, school districts, freight haulers and package delivery companies to replace aging fleets with sustainable alternatives, all without slowing production or increasing costs,” Sánchez said.

ACT Expo just around the corner: John O’Leary, president and CEO of Daimler Truck North America (DTNA) will be the opening keynote speaker at the 12th annual ACT Expo, May 1-4, 2023, at the Anaheim Convention Center in Southern California. DTNA is North America’s largest manufacturer of Class 5-8 commercial vehicles and aims to offer an exclusively CO2-neutral new vehicle product line by 2039.
O’Leary’s keynote on Monday, May 1, will be followed by the debut of the 2023 State of Sustainable Fleets market brief report, which will highlight key trends and the ever-increasing clean vehicle adoption plans of fleets across the nation. Learn more about media events to hear about breaking industry news and to witness new product reveals and vehicle unveilings.

GreenerCar rankings and looking at rail safety and emissions

Vehicles — sales, launch trends, incentives and funding, regulatory, and auto/truckmaker news

ACEEE’s GreenerCars rankings: The Mini Cooper SE Hardtop 2 Door, Nissan Leaf, Mazda MX-30, Toyota bZ4X, and Subaru Solterra AWD — all of them electric vehicles — made the top five for an annual ranking. American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) ranked the top five most environmentally friendly cars based on guidelines quite different than other similar rankings. The nonprofit research organization, which develops policies to reduce energy waste and combat climate change, has left Tesla models off its annual GreenerCars rankings. Smaller, lighter cars go up higher on the list based on its methodology of looking at powertrain efficiency and vehicle weight as key measures. It’s all based on an environmental damage index (EDX) that reflects the cost to human health from pollution associated with vehicle tailpipe emissions, vehicle manufacturing and disposal, and the production and distribution of auto fuel and electricity. The next five on the list, led by Hyunda Elantra Hybrid Blue, are all hybrid vehicles.

Safety and environmental concerns putting more pressure on rail to improve. The hazardous chemical spill last month in Ohio, and the fatal passenger train crash in Greece this month, have put rail transport under serious scrutiny. Since then, state officials said up to 2,500 gallons of diesel may have spilled in Washington, though a BNSF spokesperson said a “minimal amount” had leaked. That makes for two environmentally hazardous spills on U.S. railways.

Two legislators are taking action to address concerns that railway workers have been voicing for years. Elected officials Michele Grim of Ohio (D) and Mike Jacobson of Nebraska (R) are working on passing legislation surrounding rail safety in their respective states, with the hopes it will become federal law as well.

Rail transportation has been working hard to surge ahead and compete with trucking as the principal transportation mode for freight; and projects have been in the works for years to bring passenger rail up to speed.

Rail for both freight and passengers has been improving for decades, with fatalities rare and injuries recently being only slightly above fatalities. Derailments and other accidents are still high, but that number has also been declining and many of them are minor incidents. Accidents were about 1,600 per year in the U.S. in 2020 and 2021, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Surging freight demand is pushing rail operators such as Union Pacific, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, and CSX, to maximize rail across the U.S. The industry’s recent contract dispute with rail workers seeking increased paid leave for sick days also showed the impact rail can have on the economy: a strike was estimated to cost $2 billion a day from the disruption of the flow of goods. Amtrak has also been feeling the pressure, as the Biden administration seeks to expand its service and ridership, while also improving safety.

You can read more about rail transport in this month’s Market Intel, including how trains rank in greenhouse gas emissions compared to other modes of transportation.

Fuels and Infrastructure — renewable and clean fuel, fueling and charging infrastructures, renewable energy, alternative fuels

White House Opens Applications for First Round of $2.5 Billion Program to Build EV Charging in Communities & Neighborhoods Nationwide
The Biden-Harris Administration opened applications for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s new Charging and Fueling Infrastructure (CFI) Discretionary Grant Program, a key step towards the President’s goals of building a national network of 500,000 public EV charging stations and reducing national greenhouse gas emissions up to 52% by 2030. The first round of funding under the program, established by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, makes up to $700 million available for cities, counties, local governments, Tribes and others to strategically deploy EV charging and other alternative vehicle-fueling infrastructure projects in publicly accessible locations in urban and rural communities, as well as along designated Alternative Fuel Corridor

“As we electrify the economy, as we move into electric vehicles, we create a market incentive for the private sector to come into this space, a hundred billion dollars of which is on its way already. One of the things that has to be done is to build EV charging stations….500,000 across America in partnership with the private sector.” – White House Senior Advisor and Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu

Advanced transport — sustainable transportation, autonomous, shared rides, mobility, smart cities

National Center for Sustainable Transportation Wins $20M Grant The U.S. Department of Transportation recently announced that the National Center for Sustainable Transportation, based at the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies, will receive $20 million to lead a group of seven universities studying transportation effects on the environment. It’s part of the Department of Transportation’s University Transportation Centers Program. The $20 million grant ($4 million per year over five years) will allow researchers at UC Davis and other consortium member universities to focus on accelerating equitable decarbonization that benefits both the transportation system and the well-being of people in overburdened and historically disadvantaged communities.

Sustainability and carbon reduction — setting and hitting targets, studies, regulatory, global alliances, sustainability drives

Transportation Sector Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Source in 2020 Rail, along with ships and boats, lead the way on low levels of greenhouse gas emissions being released. Light-duty vehicles have the worst emissions, followed by medium- and heavy-duty trucks, according to U.s. Environmental Protection Agency data. Read this month’s GAM Market Intel to get a good look at the numbers. Other data analytics include the fact that 60.5% of electricity was powered by fossil fuels in the U.S. in 2021 according to U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Check it out! — reports, events, webinars, and more

Speaker Lineup of Advanced Transportation Leaders for ACT Expo 2023
ACT Expo announced its confirmed speakers for its 12th annual conference, taking place May 1-4, 2023, at the Anaheim Convention Center in Southern California. Attendees will hear more than 200 expert speakers representing the nation’s most progressive fleet operators, as well as executives from leading commercial vehicle manufacturers and suppliers, infrastructure and clean fuel providers, and more.
Through a series of panel presentations, workshops, and keynotes, ACT Expo speakers will spotlight low- and zero-emission fleet case studies, financial incentives to improve TCO for advanced clean vehicles, updates on the evolving regulatory landscape, progress to accelerate development of zero-emission infrastructure, and the latest transportation technology advancements – including battery technology, charging infrastructure, biofuels, hydrogen, autonomous vehicles, and more.
ACT Expo’s dynamic lineup of executive level keynote speakers includes
John O’Leary, president and CEO, Daimler Truck North America. Click here for the list of speakers.

A challenging Super Bowl ad for full self-driving Teslas, New format and latest Market Intel 

Green Auto Market is undergoing a format change with stories organized in five categories that tend to be of much interest to readers and stakeholders. Plus, more on the next edition of GAM’s Market Intel.

Vehiclessales, launch trends, incentives and funding, regulatory, and auto/truckmaker news

Are full self-driving Tesla’s safe, Super Bowl ad asks: Tesla CEO Elon Musk was probably relieved to be attending the Super Bowl game as the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles played a tightly scored championship game. He didn’t have to watch the Super Bowl TV ad placed by Dawn Project, an organization founded by tech entrepreneur Dan O’Dowd. It starts with a warning about the full self-driving Tesla Model 3 hitting a child in a crosswalk, running into an empty baby stroller, and hitting an adult pedestrian near the end of the video; each of the two being crash-test dummies. The point comes across clearly. It ends with the question: “Why does NHTSA allow Tesla full self-driving?”

“Deceptive marketing and woefully inept engineers” are two of the charges made as causes for it in the TV commercial.

The U.S. Justice Department is currently investigatingTesla over its autopilot and Full Self-Driving features. Musk has had his own share of problems to deal with, separate from the safety challenges Tesla faces. Along with advertiser and revenue loss on Wednesday, when users in the U.S. and Canada were unable to send messages or post tweets for about a half hour.

Another Super Bowl ad: “Premature Electrification” — Ram Trucks.

Ford adds to EV battery offerings: Ford announced today it is investing $3.5 billion to build the country’s first automaker-backed lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery plant, offering customers a second battery technology within Ford’s EV lineup. Ford says that it’s committed to build both nickel cobalt manganese (NCM) and LFP batteries in the U.S., helping America’s No. 2 EV company in 2022 bring EVs to more customers and diversify its U.S. supply chain. This plant – called BlueOval Battery Park Michigan – initially will employ 2,500 people when production of LFP batteries begins in 2026. The company may further grow its battery capacity at its Marshall, Mich., plant, which will be part of a wholly owned Ford subsidiary.

Kia PHEV wins Vincentric award: Getting a strong value rating on a plug-in vehicle is a very good thing, as Kia found out winning the 2023 Vincentric Best Value in America award for two of its vehicles — the 2023 Sorento PHEV and the 2023 Rio. Those vehicles took the Mid-Size SUV and Subcompact categories, respectively, and Kia took the passenger car category. Value is determined using a statistical analysis that incorporates the current market price and total cost of ownership of 2023 model year vehicles. Other electrified vehicle winners: Toyota Corolla Hybrid, Hyundai Ionic Electric, Lexus LC Hybrid in Luxury Hybrid, Volvo S90 Plug-In Hybrid in Luxury EV/PHEV, Kia Sorrento Hybrid in Hybrid SUV, Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid in EV/PHEV SUV, and Volvo XC90 Plug-In Hybrid in Luxury EV/PHEV SUV.

Mercedes-Benz Vans is bringing a cargo van variant of the all-new eSprinter in the U.S. and Canada in the second half of 2023, while the market launch in Europe will follow towards the end of 2023. The all-new Mercedes-Benz eSprinter will be produced in Charleston, S.C. and Ludwigsfelde, Germany in the future, in addition to the Mercedes-Benz plant in Düsseldorf.

Fuels and Infrastructure renewable and clean fuel, fueling and charging infrastructures, renewable energy, alternative fuels

Hydrogen and fuel cells: Honda, Hyundai, and Toyota just participated in the 2023 Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Seminar (HFCS), held in Long Beach, Calif. Organized by the Fuel Cell & Hydrogen Energy Association (FCHEA) and supported by the U.S. government, HFCS is the largest hydrogen industry event in North America, with a history of more than 40 years. At the event, Hyundai Motor discussed hydrogen cooperation with government agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Energy and leading global companies in the hydrogen industry. The company presented its vision to create a Hydrogen Society on a global scale, displayed its XCIENT Fuel Cell hydrogen electric truck and introduced the ‘Waste-to-energy’ concept of hydrogen production.

Association name change: The California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition is now the California Renewable Transportation Alliance – CRTA.  The change is in response to the organization’s expanded focus on the use of renewable fuels to reduce trucking emissions. Transportation is the leading source of climate-altering greenhouse gases (GHG), as well as smog and other air pollutants.  Diesel trucks are the biggest contributors.  They are responsible for 70 % of the smog-causing pollution and 80 % of diesel particulate matter (soot), even though they number less than 7 percent of the 30 million registered vehicles in the state. “Building on a successful legacy, CRTA will remain the premiere organization that delivers on renewable fuel policies and near zero emission strategies here in the Golden State,” said Todd Campbell, Chair of the CRTA Board of Directors.  “The Alliance will continue to promote sensible solutions that aggressively advance clean air, climate protection, job creation, and real-world solutions to California’s daunting mobile source challenges.”

Advanced transport autonomous, shared rides, mobility, smart cities

Nissan is holding Nissan Futures, an event showcasing how Nissan is shaping the future of sustainable mobility and innovative design, at its Global Headquarters Gallery in Yokohama, Japan, from Feb. 4 to Mar. 1. As part of the event launch, Nissan today unveiled a physical concept model of its Max-Out EV convertible. The model was previously shown in virtual form as part of the Nissan Ambition 2030 vision announced in November 2021 under the Nissan Futures banner. The Max-Out—which will be on display for the duration of the event—embodies Nissan’s ambition to support greater access to both sustainable and innovative mobility.

Uber is working with unnamed automakers to design EVs customized for its ride-hailing and delivery services, according to The Wall Street Journal (and thanks to Green Car Reports). The company confirmed the project recently at an event hosted by the paper, but declined to say which automakers the company was working with. Ride-hailing could have seats that allow passengers to face each other, while two- or three-wheeled vehicles are being considered for delivery services owing to their smaller footprint, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said.

Sustainability and carbon reductionsetting and hitting targets, studies, regulatory, global alliances, sustainability drives

BP has further tarnished its opportunity to redeem its role in the massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010, and for being a major fossil fuel supplier. When Bernard Looney took over the British oil company three yeas ago as CEO, he’d promised to lead the way on BP becoming a an oil company transforming into a green energy giant by cutting way down on oil production and and putting billions into renewable energy. That came to an end last week while announcing record-high profits in oil sales and and a sharp rollback in meeting those sustainability and carbon reductiion targets.

Check it out!reports, events, webinars, and more

In this edition of GAM’s Market Intel, you’ll find a comparison between Tesla and BYD in their compeition to be the global leader in plug-in vehicle sales and market presence. Plus, Sustainable Transportation Market Data. Two of them are featured — Alternative Fuel Stations in the U.S. — February 2023; and Price Comparisons in Available Fuels. Renewable diesel has been added to the data this time.

Great opportunity for sustainability and mobility startups, Who’s winning the game: Tesla or BYD?

There’s a great opportunity in sustainability and mobility to gain $100,000 support and participation in a renowned support system for startups. Offered by gener8tor, the U.S. Venture Sustainability Accelerator program supports the growth of its startups through a network of experienced mentors, technologists, corporate partners, angel investors, and venture capitalists. It’s a 12-week startup accelerator sponsored by U.S. Venture, a leader in sustainable energy solutions, and powered by gener8tor. The selected teams will receive a $100,000 investment in return for 7.5% equity in their company using a Simple Agreement for Future Equity (SAFE).

To date, gener8tor’s roughly 1,000 alumni have cumulatively raised more than $1.2B in follow-on financing. The company is looking for five sustainable / mobility startups from anywhere in the U.S. Relocation to Appleton, Wisc., for the duration of the program is required.The applications close on January 9, but it may need to be extended one week. The International Trade Council recognized gener8tor as the Venture Capital Firm of the Year in October. Read all about the Accelerator here.

More on Tesla: An early release of numbers happened this week, for those interested in the Tesla vs. BYD race. BYD took the lead with 1.85 million plug-in electric vehicles sold last year — more than tripling sales in the previous year. Battery electric vehcles were still behind Tesla. That U.S. company reported 1.31 million deliveries worldwide. But there are some distinctions in this race — which will be explored more fully in the January issue of Green Auto Market’s monthly Market Intel report.

And more in the coming issue of Market Intel:
Sustainable Transportation Market Data
— Alternative Fuel Stations in the U.S. — January 2023
—Alternative Fuel Price Report
Teaser: Which has more stations in place — hydrogen or liquefied natural gas (LNG)?

Tesla not necessarily going to ‘hell in a hand basket’ in the wake of the Twitter fiasco

Did any of you hear holiday partygoers discuss Elon Musk in recent weeks, or participate in such lively discussions?

We’ve all witnessed a great many scandals and crises over actions taken by Musk in his CEO role at Tesla, SpaceX, and now Twitter. It goes back to about 2010. It was strange to see Musk get away with quite a lot, but we seemed to get used to it years ago. If other automaker executives had made these types of claims, promises, and insults (do you remember the British cave diver being accused of being a “child rapist”?), they would have been seriously sidelined or removed from office.

Yet those past incidents were nothing compared to recent weeks. The chicken certainly has come home to roost for Musk. It came out of his fiasco with Twitter, but it’s certainly spread over to Tesla recently in various ways.

Twitter had been the primary social media platform for many serious players out there — news media, Washington politicians, digital entrepreneurs, political activists, actors and comedians, and Hollywood executives, to name a few. Many of them shut off their Twitter accounts after being disgusted by Musk’s takeover and initial actions. The stories were disappointing to hear, with many talented employees leaving Twitter or being forced out. And who expected Donald Trump to reject Trump’s offer to come back, or understood why Musk would have made that offer in the first place?

As mentioned, the assault on Musk’s image and reputation has been spilling over to Tesla. That became clear as I heard holiday party comments about the electric carmaker having serious problems in the China market. Another juicy one I heard is that Tesla customers are furious over the poor condition of the new electric vehicles being delivered to them.

So what is the state of affairs for the world’s largest battery electric vehicle maker when separated from the mess that Musk got himself into at Twitter? Could Tesla be going to “hell in a hand basket” as the old timers used to say?

  1. The latest on the China crisis and angry Tesla customers.
    Tesla seems to be doing alright in the world’s largest EV market, but the company is going through a difficult time along with its competitors. For example, Tesla sold 302,000 new vehicles in the US last year. In China, the company sold 473,103 units during that time, according to Carsalesbase.com. They won’t be leaving there anytime soon. A Reuters article stirred up some of that concern that China is a difficult place to be right now, and that Tesla is going to pull back on the market. But that’s happened before with Tesla and it could happen again.

Finding evidence of poor condition Tesla vehicles being delivered to new owners has also been a bit tricky, whether that be in China, the US, or Europe.

2. Would it be a grave error to work for one of these companies?
What’s it like to work for Tesla and SpaceX? The hours can be long — with office staff working 60+ hours, and some of the anecdotal reports coming in at 80-to-90 hours per week. Musk did crack down on his employees earlier this year who were staying away from the office because of the Covid allowance of working from home.

Visitors to the Zippia recruitment website have given the company high ratings with a 4.8 out of a 5 star rating score. Tesla has strong employee retention with staff members usually staying with the company for an average of 3.7 years. The average management-level employee at Tesla makes $108,037 per year, which is competitive for its location and industry.

There was a lot of concern expressed that Musk would use loyal Tesla employees to bump out Twitter employees and take over their workplace — with the new employer expecting staff to devote their lives to their jobs no matter what. But so far, Musk has only pulled around 50 employees over to Twitter — mostly software engineers who’ve worked on the Autopilot semi-autonomous technology team.

Musk did take the hardline with existing Twitter employees. They were told they’d have to join the team and follow his guidelines or take three months of severance. Twitter had already been falling into mayhem with employees wanting to leave or see improvements. Musk had been strong-armed into dropping down his $44 billion acquisition by the executive board. At first, last spring, they’d avoided him and his offer, but they got around to suing him into buying Twitter, a company that won’t be going back to the stock market anytime soon.

  1. The numbers aren’t so bad for Tesla.
    Tesla delivered 938,172 vehicles globally in 2021. Of these, the Tesla Model 3 had 501,000 unit sales. The Model 3 and Model Y accounted for 97% of Tesla’s sales volume in 2021. For the first nine months of 2022, Tesla brought in $21.45 billion in sales and net income of $3.29 billion. That was 55.95% growth year-over-year in sales and 103.46% in net income growth for that time period.

The company has the clear lead for global EV sales. No. 2 in the world, Chinese automaker BYD, sold 593,745 plug-in electric vehicles globally last year. That broke out to 320,810 battery electric vehicles, and 272,935 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

Tesla has become securely established as a global automaker. The company has been building vehicles in China, the world’s largest auto market, since 2019. This year, two more giga battery factories have started up, Giga Texas (in Austin) and Giga Berlin (in Germany). The California factory is still doing well as is Shanghai, China. It’s corporate office moved over to Austin in December 2021.

  1. Stock market performance brings Tesla more in line with competitors.
    Tesla, Inc., has taken a big hit this year — down about 70% in value. How did it get there? Musk selling lots of Tesla shares and getting absorbed in a contentious role at Twitter are two reasons being floated out there by investors. Then there’s everything else — market forces impacting other carmakers and industry sectors.

If you look at a five-year chart on stock performance for Tesla, Inc., it looks similar to stock performance from some of its major global competitors. That’s not isolating EV sales and performance, but looking at the entire companies’ performance. When looking at Tesla, Ford, GM, Toyota, and Volkswagen, prices were flatlining into 2020. Then prices spiked up in 2020 and dropped into 2021; then they went way up through the early part of the next year and have been declining in recent months.

Some of that had to do with new car prices going up along with sales figures. A major shortage of computer chips has driven dealer inventory way down and kept new car prices up — and used car prices way up. Another thing driving up sales revenue has been shoppers buying more expensive trucks and SUVs, driving up revenue. They’re also buying more expensive add-ons (including from Tesla) such as automatic braking and lane departure warnings. Rising prices and consumer loan rates have been adding to the sales revenue increases.

  1. There is another company Musk oversees, and it’s doing well.
    SpaceX is doing very well these days; and while the rumors abound that management and engineers have to put in some very long hours to do the job and have no say in how the company is run, that doesn’t seem to be the case overall. Gwynne Shotwell has moved up to be SpaceX’s president and COO, and manages the daily operations of the commercial space exploration company. Shotwell and vice president Mark Juncosa are now overseeing the facility and operations of company’s Starbase,  a spaceport, production, and development facility for its rockets, which is located at Boca Chica, Texas.

Musk owns about half the privately held company and is still known for keeping a strong presence there. It has over 10,000 employees and a valuation of $74 billion. It’s been a very good year for the space travel company. The company broke its own annual records with the 60th mission that have delivered 54 Starlinks into low-Earth orbit. Starlink is bringing cell phone and internet access to several smaller countries that had never had it before.

  1. Tesla can’t force fully autonomous electric vehicles to market.
    The automaker has been building in the capacity to switch over to Level 5 fully autonomous self-driving vehicles in recent years, with Musk promising in 2017 that the technology would soon be available. But they’re not going to turn over that capacity to the vehicle owner until it gets legally cleared by vehicle safety administrators such as the National High Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and China’s Ministry of Transport. It doesn’t look like that will be happening anytime soon.

More than 100,000 Tesla vehicles have been sold with the Autopilot feature over the years, the company says. Customers can buy the whole package for $15,000 when they purchase their car, or they can pay an additional $199 a month for the Enhanced Autopilot version. Popular functions include automated lane changing on highways, automated parking, traffic-aware cruise control, and lane keeping. Some of these are included in the standard driver assistance package (which is called Autopilot) and some come with the package marketed as either Enhanced Autopilot or Full Self-Driving in the U.S. for the additional package cost of $15,000 or a monthly $199 payment.

Tesla has been cooperating, over the years, on recalls and safety investigations on its vehicles. Tesla is once again undergoing vehicle safety tests to two more vehicles with NHTSA. One involved a 2021 Tesla Model S moving erratically through traffic lanes on the San Francisco Bay Bridge on Thanksgiving Day. The Tesla driver caused a crash on the bridge involving eight cars, and claimed he was using the Tesla Full Self Driving features.

Another recent crash incident being looked at by the safety agency involves a 2020 Tesla Model 3. NHTSA reported to CNBC that it has gathered data for review on at least 41 crashes involving Tesla vehicles where automated features such as automatic emergency braking, or more extensive driver assistance system features included in Autopilot, FSD and FSD Beta, were involved.

  1. What does Tesla have to offer? And what’s next?
    Here are Tesla’s entries for the 2022 model year — and a look at 2023 and possibly beyond………

—Tesla Model 3 Rear-Wheel Drive: $46,990 
—Tesla Model 3 Long Range: Unavailable Until 2023.
—Tesla Model Y Standard Range: $61,990
— Tesla Model 3 Performance: $62,990
—Tesla Model Y Long Range: $65,990
—Tesla Model Y Performance: $69,990
—Tesla Model S Long Range: $104,990
— Tesla Model X Long Range: $120,990
—Tesla Model S Plaid: $135,990
— Tesla Model X Plaid: $138,990
— Future model: 2023 Tesla Cybertruck: pricing removed
— 202X Tesla Roadster: pricing removed
— 202X Tesla hatchback: ~$35,000

Source: Inside EVs

In conclusion, Elon Musk is no longer the rock star that he used to be. He’s got a lot to clean up, but it looks like Tesla and SpaceX should continue to exist. As for Twitter, we’ll have to wait and see.

Nuclear fusion breakthrough Q&A, California doubling its EV chargers

The National Ignition Facility is a laser-based inertial confinement fusion research device, located at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

A few points on the major nuclear fusion lab breakthrough:
What happened: Tuesday’s announcement by the U.S. Dept. of Energy and the DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) reported that on Dec. 5, a team at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California was able to achieve an historic first: it produced more energy from nuclear fusion than the laser energy used to drive it. Achieving this “fusion ignition,” means that it was “a major scientific breakthrough decades in the making that will pave the way for advancements in national defense and the future of clean power,” DOE said.

It is going to take quite a long time to become commercially viable. Kim Budil, the director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, said on Tuesday that cheap, abundant electricity from nuclear fusion is still “probably decades” away.

What are the advantages?
“This astonishing scientific advance puts us on the precipice of a future no longer reliant on fossil fuels but instead powered by new clean fusion energy,” U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer said in the Tuesday announcement.

It is a zero emissions energy source, and it excels past nuclear fission (which fuels nuclear power plants across the U.S. and the world) mainly because it doesn’t produce the nuclear waste associated with these current nuclear power plants; radioactive waste that can last thousands of years. Another strength is that nuclear fusion can be commercialized at scale.

Where does national defense come in?
That’s one of the main mission statements at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory — ensuring the safety, security, and reliability of the nation’s nuclear weapons. Scientists have known how to produce fusion since 1952, when it started being used in thermonuclear weapons.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said this breakthrough solves two fundamental problems — producing clean power to combat climate change and
“maintaining a nuclear deterrent without nuclear testing.”

There have been concerns over nuclear power plants becoming weaponized if governments are prone to starting wars. Iran’s supply of enriched uranium from nuclear power plants has been the focus of heated debate and pressure on that country for several years.

Does it raise the concerns of the anti-nuke protestors?
Yes, but so far the reactions have been more quiet than they were years ago. Protestors in the late 1970s and 1980s were most concerned about the implications of the Three Mile Island accident in 1979 that was a partial meltdown of its Unit 2 reactor in Pennsylvania. It’s been the most significant accident in U.S. commercial nuclear power plant history but there have been several incidents before and after; and many more around the world. The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, near San Clemente, Calif., was shut down in 2013, and was another incident raising concerns over safety.

There’s also a sense of purism for many Americans who belong to environmental groups like the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, and Friends of the Earth. For many of them, the ideal future would be having solar and wind power our electricity supply, which would then transmit power to energy-efficient homes and commercial buildings, and keep electric vehicles charged up and ready to drive. America and the rest of the world has many years ahead before that, or anything like it, could be the norm. It is looking like it won’t just be renewable energy — green hydrogen and nuclear fusion look like they’re getting the backing they need to be part of the clean energy and clean transportation future.

The California Energy Commission on Wednesday approved a $2.9 billion investment backing zero emission vehicles and their needed infrastrucrure. The plan will bring 90,000 electric vehicle (EV) chargers to the state — more than double the current level at around 80,000 chargers. The 2022-2023 Investment Plan Update increases funding for the CEC’s Clean Transportation Program by 30 times; and it accelerates California’s 2025 EV charging and hydrogen refueling goals. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will benefit from $90 million going to hydrogen refueling infrastructure, $118 million for zero emission vehicle manufacturing, and other funding. Much of it will go to the medium-to-heavy duty vehicle infrastructure.

In this month’s Green Auto Market — Market Intel
One reason that hydrogen and fuel cells continue to stay visible is all the deals being made by publicly traded companies (and a small number of privately held) in the field. Here’s a look at these companies that are going way beyond transportation………. If you take a good look at where self-driving passenger cars, drones, and autonomous transport is going these days, there are a few positive stories. But most of what’s coming out implies that AVs still have a few years left before gaining mass market approval. Click here to order, or back issues.

Has Elon Musk gotten carried away, and it’s time to pay the price? Things are not looking good for the CEO of Twitter, Tesla, and SpaceX. This may be the year the chickens come home to roost, after many years of him getting away with various shenanigans. For one thing, Tesla’s global electric vehicle share dropped down to 65% in the first six months of 2022 — that’s down from 79% share in 2020. The numbers will likely drop as competitors to continue to surge forward. Musk is taking an aggressive approach to legal squabbles over at Twitter. The company has also cut payments for leasing its HQ building, and has written off a nearly $200,000 bll for private chatter flights the week he took over. But the situation may be much bigger than Musk’s fight to take over Twitter. Reuters reports that Tesla may be down in stock price but so is Rivian Automotive. Other EV startups had it even worse. Electric van maker Arrival warned it could run out of cash in less than a year. Lucid Group Inc., backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, struggled to build its Air luxury EVs. Chinese Tesla challenger Xpeng Inc.’s shares lost more than 80% of its value.

Mileage and emissions numbers improve: On Monday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its annual Automotive Trends Report, which shows that model year (MY) 2021 vehicle fuel economy remained at a record high while emission levels reached a record low. The report also shows all 14 large automotive manufacturers achieved compliance with the Light-duty Greenhouse Gas (GHG) standards through at least MY2020. For MY 2021, vehicle fuel economy remained at an all-time high of 25.4 miles per gallon (mpg), and new vehicle real-world carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions decreased to a record low of 347 grams per mile (g/mi).

“Today’s report demonstrates the significant progress we’ve made to ensure clean air for all as automakers continue to innovate and utilize more advanced technologies to cut pollution,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Working together across the public and private sector, we can deliver on EPA’s mission to protect public health, especially our most vulnerable populations, and advance President Biden’s ambitious agenda to combat the climate crisis.”