EV charging market leaders, GAM editor goes to J school, $11.4B in California Climate Investments

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 jlesage378@gmail.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. 

Federal tax credits are finally coming back, but there is a lot to sift through

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 Congress article.

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.

Consumer Reports has done a comprehensive analysis of where EVs likely stand on the new list.

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.

A Mid-Year Look at the State of the Clean Transportation Sector

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.

Why buy Twitter?
The saga continues with Tesla CEO Elon Musk getting sued in a Delaware court by social media giant Twitter for ending a binding $44 billion merger agreement to buy the company. The board is upset that Musk now “refuses to honor his obligations to Twitter and its stockholders because the deal he signed no longer serves his personal interests.”

Infighting with former President Donald Trump has 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:

  1. Tesla Model Y
  2. Tesla Model 3
  3. Ford Mustang Mach-E
  4. Tesla Model X
  5. Hyundai Ioniq 5
  6. Kia EV6
  7. Tesla Model S
  8. Nissan Leaf
  9. Kia Niro
  10. Audi e-Tron

Source: KBB

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 place Sept. 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 site for 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:

6/14/22: Regular Unleaded $5.016
6/19/22: Diesel $5.816

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.

EV sales providing a bit of stability during a continued period of chaos in the supply chain and at fuel pumps

Gasoline and diesel prices have skyrocketed due to supply shortage, though not necessarily caused by the Russian war in Ukraine. That seems to be a factor, but whatever the cause, it is helping consumer interest to rise in buying electric vehicles.

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 for between $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.”

Read all about it, and the challenges being faced by renewable fuel suppliers, in an LA Times feature article.

And read about RNG Coalition members providing a bullish outlook on the future of that clean fuel hitting growth targets. 

Natural gas from Russia, Ford’s electric trucks and vans, BMW Brilliance changes owners, and more news

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.

Source: World Population Review

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.

So, how did 2021 turn out? It depends on how you look at it

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 been selling 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 studied nine 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.

Upcoming Events

National Biodiesel Conference and Expo
Jan. 17 – Jan. 20, 2022 in Las Vegas

National Ethanol Conference
Feb. 21 — 23, 2022 in New Orleans

Green Truck Summit-Work Truck Show
March 8 – 11, 2022 inIndianapolis

Sustainability and Emerging Transportation Technology (SETT) Conference
March 15 — 18, 2022 in Irvine, Calif.

Advanced Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo
May 9-12, 2022 in Long Beach, Calif.

COP26 coming to an end with more hope in sight, youth activists push for more

Stop with the “blah blah blah” inside COP26 climate change negotiation rooms, calls out activist Greta Thunberg. Photo by By Matt Watts, Nov. 1, 2021, for Evening Standard.

As the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) enters its final stretch in Glasgow, Scotland, here are a few highlights:

Phasing-out fossil-fuel vehicles — who’s on board: 2040 is the target year to remove fossil fuel-powered vehicles to fight climate change from a group of automakers, other companies, countries, and cities. Some major players are not backing it as of yet. Here’s how it breaks out so far for what’s being called the Glasgow Declaration on Zero Emission Cars and Vans:

Backing it: Over 100 signatories including General Motors, Ford, Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, BYD, and Jaguar Land Rover; Leaseplan; Uber; food retailer Sainsbury’s; 33 national governments including India, New Zealand, and Great Britain; states such as California and New York; and cities such as Seoul, South Korea, and Sao Paolo, Brazil.

Not backing it: Toyota, Volkswagen, Stellantis, Hyundai, Nissan, Honda, and BMW; and the U.S., China, Germany, Japan, and France. Why are they not backing it? Some say that countries need to go further with their commitment to the charging and grid infrastructure. Germany said that there’s still an internal debate over whether fuels made from renewable energy but burned in a combustion engine could form part of the solution. The European Union has proposed a fossil-fuel vehicle ban on these vehicles by 2035, along with a commitment to a charging infrastructure that automakers have been asking for.

The U.S. still needs to get its act together on new climate change policies, along with finish up the overall federal budget. The bipartisan infrastructure bill did finally pass a few days ago, but much is yet to be done in Washington.

Youth activists want more: While constructive pledges are emerging form COP26, there continues to be a number of stalled items that many would like to see go forward. Eighteen-year old global activist Greta Thunberg has been leading a massive protest outside the meeting halls. She’s tired of just hearing, “blah blah blah,” coming out of the working group sessions. These activists are pushing hard for politicians to end inaction, calling government figures and business leader to do everything they possibly can meet the crucial goal of capping global heating to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Tens of thousands of protesters marched through the rainy streets of Glasgow, Scotland over the weekend to demand the urgent measures necessary to tackle the crisis.

Supply chain goes for 2050 as the mark: 2050 could be a more realistic goal for other countries and stakeholders as the First Movers Coalition was formed that wants to help transform eight hard-to-abate sectors: aluminum, aviation, chemicals, cement, direct air capture, shipping, steel, and trucking. Together, these economic sectors represent more than one-third of the world’s carbon emissions. The World Economic Forum is partnering with the US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and over 30 global companies to invest in innovative green technologies so they are available for massive scale-up by 2030 to enable net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest. Founding members include A.P. Møller – Mærsk, Amazon, Apple, Bank of America, Mahindra Group, SSAB Swedish Steel, Trafigura Group, Vattenfall, Volvo Group, Yara International, and Western Digital.

U.S. calls for cutting methane: Last week, the Biden administration announced it will be cracking down on methane, a potent greenhouse gas that spews from oil and natural gas operations and can warm the atmosphere 80 times as fast as carbon dioxide in the short term. Methane is produced by landfills, agriculture, livestock, and oil and gas drilling. It is sometimes intentionally burned or vented into the atmosphere during gas production, which has been difficult for governments to stop.

It will apply to about one million oil and gas rigs across the U.S. The Obama administration had previously attempted to prevent methane lakes from oil and gas wells built since 2015, but these rules were cut out by the Trump administration.

President Joe Biden also said that 70 countries had joined a coalition to cut methane levels 30 percent by 2030.

In Washington, the oil and gas industry has been working together to block a separate effort in Congress to impose a fee on methane leaks from oil and gas wells as part of a broader budget bill. The methane fee is designed both to raise revenue and to lower greenhouse pollution.

Deforestation another key focus at COP26: Brazil joined more than 100 other signatories committed to end and reverse deforestation by 2030, which became the first major deal last week to come out of the global conference. Brazil holds about one-third of the world’s remaining rainforests, including a majority of the Amazon rainforest. Brazilian farmers and beef-sector ranchers have cut down much of it, while other Brazilian farmers have been working hard to protect and restore it.

The countries who have signed the pledge — including Canada, Brazil, Russia, China, Indonesia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the US, and the UK, cover around 85% of the world’s forests. Forests play a critical role in fighting climate change by absorbing vast amounts of carbon. Another bright spots has been a pledge of public and private funds to meet the pledge and coming in at about $19.2 billion.

And in other news: A major environmental report was released as COP26 moved forward last week. A new analysis study produced by investigative journalism non-profit ProPublica shows for the first time just how much cancer-causing chemicals come from thousands of sources of hazardous air pollution in the U.S. — and how much the chemicals they unleash could be elevating cancer risk in their communities. Using advanced data processing software and a modeling tool developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, ProPublica mapped the spread of cancer-causing chemicals from thousands of sources of hazardous air pollution across the country between 2014 and 2018. It offers a distinct view of how toxic air blooms around industrial facilities and spreads into nearby neighborhoods. One example given in the study comes from a huge chemical plant near a high school in Port Neches, Texas, which laces the air with benzene, an aromatic gas that can cause leukemia.

DOE granting awards for emissions reductions: The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) last week awarded $199 million to fund 25 projects aimed at putting cleaner cars and trucks on America’s roads, including long-haul trucks powered by batteries and fuel cells, and at improving the nation’s electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure. Projects granted funding include SuperTruck 3, the third phase of an initiative that will work to improve medium- and heavy-duty truck efficiencies and reduce emissions of freight transportation. Overall, 25 research, development, and demonstration projects were granted awards aimed at advancing electrification of freight trucks, reducing vehicle emissions, and improving the electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Volvo Group, PACCAR, Daimler Trucks, Ford, and General Motors, were among the winners.

Rivian going public: Electric truck startup Rivian is expected to do very well during its initial public offering today — with valuation estimates that came in at about $70 billion shooting up to nearly $107 billion. The company has been at it a long time — first raising debt financing about a decade ago. The past two years have been much better, driven by an Amazon-led round bringing in around $700 million in corporate backing. As a private company, Rivian has raised about $10.5 billion in funding.

Based in Irvine, Calif., the truckmaker has a manufacturing plant in Normal, Ill., and other facilities in Palo Alto, Calif., Carson, Calif., Plymouth, Mich., Vancouver, British Columbia, and Woking, England.

Study on power sources for U.S. energy: Interested in finding out how clean energy is becoming in the U.S. — and which states are the farthest behind? Check out a new study from Michael Sivak, the managing director of Sivak Applied Research and the former director of Sustainable Worldwide Transportation at the University of Michigan; and calculations based on the data developed by the Union of Concerned Scientists; plus raw data (the percentages of electricity generated from different energy sources in the individual states) coming from the Nuclear Energy Institute. A well-to-wheels report on electric vehicle emissions of greenhouse gas took into account eight different energy sources. Coal and oil continue to be the source leading to most emissions from electricity generation, and hydro, wind, and nuclear are the energy sources leading to least emissions. West Virginia continues to be the leading source of power generated by coal, in 2020 knocking out Wyoming as the 2018 leader. Missouri, Kentucky, and Utah were the remaining states in the top five worst coal-power polluters.

Global carbon data analysis updated: Our World in Data, a source of data and analysis on critical issues, just updated its data on global CO2 emissions. The annual update is based on the latest release form the Global Carbon Project. Check out the overall website for amazing, and sometimes disturbing, charts on numerous categories shaping the world’s future.

Climate crisis worsens, but wait, there is hope! A look at sustainability leadership in transport and energy

If bizarre and tragic weather reports aren’t enough for you, how about another one? Check out this detailed look at the state of plastics accumulating in the ocean and what that means for various forms of life.

Yes, it’s a dark time to hear about climate change, which would be more accurately called climate crises these days. And there’s more bad news. When will COVID-19 be over and economic disruption continuing with more inflation and the global supply chain being clogged up (make sure you add extra days/weeks to any of your Amazon, UPS, and FedEx orders)? There are no easy, clear solutions for all of it in Washington, D.C., and Glasgow, Scotland.

But there may be a glimmer of hope out there. Here’s a look at the state of things………….

What’s coming at COP26: The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, is the 26th conference of its type and got underway yesterday. Today was filled with ominous warnings about where it all stands. It will be running through Nov. 12 in Glasgow, Scotland at the Scottish Event Campus. There’s a good deal of concern over global temperatures rising and that it could be a fighting ground between the US and China over accountability ands realistic solutions; but there’s also a good deal of gratitude that it can even take place. It had been postponed from November 2020 due to COVID-19.

President Joe Biden wants to make the case to the world at COP26 that the U.S. is clearly back in the fight against climate change. His $1.85 trillion social spending and climate bill initially had managed to apparently get through the senate, and it does include the most ambitious climate change goals adopted by the U.S. Biden hopes it will help America’s position at COP26. The challenge looked like it would be getting it through the House. There are still key congressional holdouts. The scaled-back bill still needs more support from Democrats in Congress. But then Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) shook things up today by criticizing Democrats’ $1.85 trillion bill supporting healthcare, education and climate-change; and withheld his support for a legislative framework that the White House had cast as a consensus acceptable to all members of the Senate Democratic caucus. The struggle continues.

China vs. the U.S.: While there may be great debate at COP26 over which country will be taking the best approach to reversing climate change, the numbers need a good look. These two countries lead the way as largest greenhouse gas emitters, but China is the clear winner. Rhodium Group, a research and analytics firm, studied pre-COVID 2019 data to determine that China’s greenhouse gas emissions were nearly 2.5 times that of the US’, and more than all the world’s developed countries combined. China emitted 14.1 billion metric tons in 2019, more than a quarter of the world’s total emissions. America had emitted 5.7 billion tons, 11% of total emissions, followed by India (6.6%) and the European Union (6.4%). But the U.S. is the clear global winner historically. Cumulatively, the US has emitted almost twice as much CO2 as China since 1850, and no other country has come close to beating the U.S.

Infrastructure support in CA with feds: California Gov. Gavin Newsom and the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) just announced a strategic partnership to help facilitate innovative projects and financing opportunities for multi-billion infrastructure improvements in the state. It follows on the heels of Newsom’s executive order to help tackle supply chain issues, and as part of the ongoing efforts of the Biden-Harris Task Force on Supply Chain Disruptions. This partnership can help kick-start construction to deliver benefits to the transportation supply chain and U.S. consumers in the future. Projects that could receive support through this agreement include: expanding capacity for freight rail; railyard and truck electrification; and highway upgrades to improve truck travel times.

The State of Sustainable Fleets report, produced by Gladstein Neandross & Associates, gathers real-world data directly from early-adopter fleets across the U.S. to provide deep insights into the adoption of clean fuel fleet vehicles and practices. The analysis includes public, private, and for-hire fleets, including school, municipal/shuttle, urban delivery, refuse, utility, transit, short-haul, and long-haul sectors. Along with insights into vehicle sale trends, real-world infrastructure and fuel costs, and the growing adoption of renewable fuels, here are a few more of the gems you can find………..

Fleet Technology Miniguides
Propane, natural gas, battery electric, and fuel cell electric vehicle miniguides

Market and Trends Brief
The 2021 State of Sustainable Fleets Market and Trends Brief is a technology-neutral analysis of key insights and critical trends for today’s leading on-road clean vehicle technologies. It studies the adoption of these four leading clean vehicle technologies against a baseline of diesel and gasoline technology. The assessment’s comprehensive findings represent government, private, and for-hire fleets and are gathered across nine sectors including school, municipal, shuttle, urban delivery, refuse, public utility, transit, regional-haul, and long-haul.

What to know about NGVs and RNG
Who is adopting natural gas vehicles and why.

Just Announced: A Potentially Industry-Changing Natural Gas Engine
More on Cummins announcing its plans to bring a 15-liter natural gas engine to the North American heavy-duty market, now bringing full range of natural gas powertrains to the market.

Fact Finder: What’s behind the numbers on violence during COVID, Quitting Vs. Fired, and even some good news Here’s Fact Finder, a new column I’m starting in Time Capsule 21st Century that’s tied into my upcoming online course, Real Research Methods, on Teachable.com. Along with looking at the crisis of the pandemic, news items and analysis look into the dark side of social media, and some very positive and constructive education and training opportunities for students wanting to strengthen their research skills and overcome an unofficial diagnosis I’m calling “information trauma.”

Industry Leaders Rally around Pathways for Decarbonization
The Mission Possible Partnership (MPP) is an alliance that aims to unite industrial leaders, customers, financiers, and more behind aggressive decarbonization strategies. Its leaders will be attending COP26 to speak the organization’s voice. Aviation, steel, and shipping are three of the seven “hardest to abate” industries that together account for some 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. And MPP, which developed the decarbonization strategies, is now working on the other four high-emitting, hard-to-abate industries: cement, aluminum, trucking, and chemicals. All these industries tend to rely on high-heat processes or energy-dense fuels for which fossil-free alternatives are either immature or expensive.

And, finally, read all about the latest from the inspirational XPRIZE — on the ground at the ANA Avatar XPRIZE finals.

Is Gavin Newsom turning the state into Commifornia? What’s next for the Golden State?

Sobering news has been given to me by fellow Californians. Gov. Gavin Newsom may be ruining what was once great about California.

A co-worker told me about how he’s leaving the state, maybe to Florida. A few hours later at lunch, an old friend told me about leaving the state and moving to Japan to take a job. He’s concerned that Newsom is turning the state into “Commifornia” that’s going to drive up taxes and the cost of living even further. He’s especially concerned about Newsom recently signing bills to create more affordable housing in California; the new laws allow more duplexes and small apartment buildings in certain neighborhoods. He’s afraid that will bring him a few undesirable neighbors.

My co-worker would agree, and had a long list of problems with what’s going on in Washington, DC, as well. Newsom’s California is not for him, and he may need to leave the country. I didn’t ask whether they’d voted to recall Newsom last month, but I assume they did.

Maybe they’re pragmatic libertarians. I haven’t heard Trump’s name come up lately, or a Republicans vs. Democrats political battle. That was resolved on inauguration regardless of the January 6 chaos and Trump’s continued claim that the election was rigged. I think the two men I spoke to the other day wouldn’t be Trump true believers; but they don’t like what the state stands for and that it does cost more to live here than in a few neighboring states, several other states, and plenty of other countries. Panama was one I heard about that might be the destination of a move.

I have heard that voice coming from others, too. When I go to work in Costa Mesa, it’s an interesting mix of ex-hippies, surfers, creative workers, rich people from Newport Beach, Trump backers, visitors from other countries, vegans, environmentalists, and working people who worry about the cost of living going up. They might bring up the COVID-19 economy and how things are going up in prices and are taking long to receive — a new car, parts for their house remodel, electronics, and more.

For those wanting to leave the state, there’s a good long list of complaints: high cost of living, high taxes, job loss, and crowdedness make the list. There’s also the large homeless population, air that could be cleaner, road construction and traffic jams, and prices that keep going up.

What about diversity? I don’t see that one mentioned or hear it in conversations, but my gut instinct is that many white people are leaving because the Latinx (Latino/a) population has been growing along with other people of color. Public Policy Institute of California reported that no one group has 51%. As of 2019, it broke out to 39% of state residents are Latinx, 36% are white, 15% are Asian or Pacific Islander, 6% are African American, fewer than 1% are Native American or Alaska Natives, and 3% are multiracial or other, according to the 2019 American Community Survey.

There’s also a lot of young people moving here for school and work. That ties in with an overall population trend toward Millenials and Generation Z — meaning that teenagers through people in their early 40s fit into these two large demographic groups.

Along with those planning to leave California, recent conversations have been about whether you stay in California as you age and head to retirement years. Can you afford it?

As part of my master’s degree program in strategic communication, I’ve been working on a paper on Gen Z (teenager through late 20s) going to college and surging out into the workforce. They are a bit different, even when compared to Millennials. They’ve been “digital natives,” the first generation to be able to teach grandparents how to use their smartphones and play video games at four years old.

They’re also very open and straightforward in conversation, the workplace, and on social media — about race issues, gender identity, sexual orientation, and climate change. They may have a friend who’s been through transgender surgery, and they get very annoyed if one of their parents express concerns over one of their friends being in the LBGTQ community — or that their son or daughter is one of them. Or they may be white and just got married to a black person and they’re going to have kids.

I took that subject matter in my paper for a couple of reasons: one is that I’ll be working with Gen Xers in the next two years when I finish grad school and start teaching journalism and communication college courses. The other is that I have Gen X family members, who openly share with me about any of these questions. Their friends, and some of my co-workers, have also added to the conversations, and have made the research very insightful and never dull.

They love California, and I would tend to agree. Besides the weather, a long list of places I love to go to, and the kind of people who live here, there are other reasons.

Let’s look at a few interesting facts about the state:

U.S. Electric Vehicle Sales First Half 2021
National: 310,272
California: 121,006
Source: California Energy Commission

  • EVs made up 10.66% of the vehicles sold in California during the second quarter of 2021, according to Detroit Bureau. The top two selling EVs in California were Teslas: the Model Y and Model 3.
  • Non-C02 emitting electric generation accounted for 51% of in-state generation in 2020, down from 57% in 2019. That came from nuclear, large hydroelectric, and renewables. Total renewables reached 33%, up 2.5% from 2019 levels.
  • Residential rooftop solar photovoltaic systems directly reduce the measured delivery of power from the state’s fleet of utility-scale power plants. As a homeowner with solar power panels on the roof, I’m proud to hear that.
  • While Tesla has a lot going on out-of-state, the company just broke ground in Lathrop, in San Joaquin County, Calif., to build a new “Megafactory” planned facility. The company will be making Megapacks, the energy-storage product Tesla sells to utilities. That will create more jobs for the company and for the state. It had been souring lately, when CEO Elon Musk moved to Texas in December and talked dow California polities. There’s also a new factory for production of the Model Y and Cybertruck in Austin. But like other companies, Tesla won’t be leaving the state behind entirely.
  • California plans to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars statewide by 2035, Newsom announced a little over a year ago.

California, the rest of the US, and probably most of the world, will be continuing through a very stressful and strange time in our history. Murders increased 30 percent in the U.S. last year according to FBI statistics, and this year is up, too, though at a slower rate.

Clearing through COVID-19 would help quite a bit, but the polarity and struggle over political, social, economic, environmental, cultural, and other issues, won’t be getting any easier anytime soon.

And in other news…………
More than 100 U.S. House lawmakers urged Speaker Nancy Pelosi today to keep a $4,500 tax credit incentive for union-built electric vehicles (EV) in a massive spending bill. In the letter, 107 Democrats asked the speaker to retain the credit supported by the United Auto Workers and US automakers.

Volvo Trucks has received an order for 100 FM Electric trucks from DFDS, Northern Europe’s largest shipping and logistics company. It’s the biggest electric truck deal that Volvo has made, and one of the largest ever for electric heavy duty trucks worldwide. “I believe this will encourage many more customers to confidently take the first step in their own electrification journey,” said Roger Alm, President Volvo Trucks.

Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) is partnering with fleet operations to pilot 12 new heavy- and medium-duty natural gas vehicles. This pilot is the first step to what is an expected compressed natural gas (CNG) fleet numbering 160 or more vehicles. Janisse Quinones, PG&E Senior Vice President of Gas Engineering, said that the environmental and cost-saving benefits are the primary reasons for this program, which is why it aligns with PG&E’s sustainability goals.


Fascinating facts about advanced clean vehicle technology — from copper to the state of energy backup

Copper more important than lithium: I had an electrician in my house not long ago, evaluating what changeovers will be needed to plug in new appliances and get them working at the voltage and safety level they need. Somehow that kitchen evaluation meeting led to comments about a major problem for electricians, and electric vehicle makers and buyers, being caused by Elon Musk — too much copper is being put into Teslas and their charging network. That’s creating scarcity and driving up costs, he said.

Did Elon Musk take too much copper away from the global market?

Copper is used throughout electric vehicles, charging stations, and supporting infrastructure because of its durability, high conductivity, and efficiency — according to Copper Development Association Inc., a key trade group in the copper sector. For EVs, copper is a major component used in electric motors, batteries, inverters, and wiring. A battery electric vehicle can contain more than a mile of copper wiring in its stator windings used in electric motors.

Yes, Teslas and other EVs do use a lot of copper. They have four times the copper content than do gasoline-powered vehicles, says Greenlight Capital hedge-fund manager David Einhorn — and the cost is going up.

Copper Development Association reports that conventional cars use 18 to 49 pounds of copper; hybrid electric vehicles use an average of about 85 lbs.; plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) use about 132 lbs.; battery electric vehicles (BEVs) use about 183 lbs.; a hybrid electric bus uses about 196 lbs. and a battery electric bus uses about 814 lbs. of copper.

The copper trade group also estimated that BYD used 26 million pounds of copper in all its vehicles manufactured during 2016. The Chinese company that year also used more than 295,419 pounds of copper for all the chargers it sold.

Einhorn said demand for the metal has been growing significantly — 4 percent on average over the past 10 years. Beyond EVs, some of that growth will also continue to come form chargers, solar panels, and wind power. That should equate to about five million tons of demand growth per year by 2029, predicts Goldman.

Einhorn advises investing in copper due to increasing commodity prices and elevated profits for copper producers compared to past years. Prices have been going up — about 33 percent this year.

It ain’t all about the copper: Prices have been going up for EVs, such as the Tesla Model 3 recently being raised about $2,000 in sticker prices to a $39,990 starting price. The Model Y went up about $5,000 to $51,990. Asked about this on Twitter, CEO Elon Musk replied, “Prices increasing due to major supply chain price pressure industrywide. Raw materials especially.”

One of those materials has been computer chips. During the quarterly conference call in April, Musk told investors that the company set aside building luxury models — the Model S and the Model X — to send more chips over the Model 3 and Model Y. The shortage of computer chips has been a “huge problem,” Musk said.

It’s not all about Tesla, or EVs, overall. In July, the average price for a used vehicle jumped more than 21 percent to about $25,400 from $20,900 a year ago. For new cars, buyers that month started paying roughly $40,800, up about 4.9 percent year over year. Other similar price spikes were seen during that time, such as rate prices for rental cars at airports and in local markets. New and used vehicle supply has been tight, with much of that coming from the global supply chain being thrown off by COVID-19. Transporting vehicles from one city to another is also taking longer and costs have gone up.

GM facing EV battery fires: For months, General Motors faced mounting pressure this year connected to fire risk associated with LG battery packs used in the Chevrolet Bolt; a few of them caught fire during charging. The company has been able to resume production after fixing the problem, according to an August announcement. The automaker will replace batteries in all 2017 to 2022 Bolt EVs — which the company said will cost it about $800 million.

LG’s battery plants in Holland and Hazel Park, Mich., have resumed production. LG is also adding capacity to provide more cells to GM. Replacement battery modules are expected to begin shipping to dealers as soon as mid-October.

The cause of these fires will be addressed by new manufacturing processes by LG, and reviews of quality assurance programs with its partner, GM. The root cause has been identified as two manufacturing defects known as a torn anode and a folded separator, both of which need to be present in the same battery cell.

Heavy trucks helping AVs: Commercial trucks are likely to break through the barriers faced by autonomous vehicles in safety regulations and widespread adoption. That was highlighted recently during an ACT Expo speaker panel when Charlie Jatt, head of commercialization for trucking at Waymo, explained how the Alphabet subsidiary’s business plan has been morphing.

The Waymo One autonomous ride-hailing service is still going strong in the Phoenix area. Waymo Via, an autonomous trucking and local delivery solution, is a more recent addition to the Waymo family. Lessons have been learned from Google, and later Waymo, testing self-driving cars, and then transitioning over to Waymo One delivering passengers to destinations in converted, autonomous Chrysler Pacifica minivans. Lessons learned are being taken over to the heavy-duty side.

“We’ve taken that playbook, in knowing how to develop and deploy a fully driverless, fully autonomous, all-the-way solution, and apply it to the trucking market,” Jatt said.

Total cost of truck ownership study: Electric and fuel cell trucks gained attention as well lately from a new study launched by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The federal agency seeks to pinpoint the conditions for when battery electric or fuel cell electric commercial trucks offer economic advantages over traditional diesel-fueled trucks by examining a key metric—the total cost of ownership (TCO). 

Commercial trucks have quite different challenges than do passenger vehicles for complying with greenhouse gas emission rules. For one, the miles driven is much more for commercial trucks — about 120,000 miles per year versus about 15,000 for personal vehicles. The weight is much heavier, too, with Class 4 trucks starting around 14,000 pounds to Class 8 tractors hauling heavy loads and bringing the GVW up to 80,000 pounds. Medium- and heavy-duty trucks use about 26 percent of transportation fuel nationwide, while only making up about 4 percent of the total vehicle fleet.

The study compares six trucks powertrain technologies and operating scenarios for Class 8 tractors and Class 4 parcel delivery trucks. These technologies are conventional diesel, diesel hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric, compressed natural gas, fuel cell electric, and battery electric.

“Our objective was to provide a quantitative comparison of various powertrains to highlight the potential lifetime implications of each technology,” said Chad Hunter, lead author of the report and former NREL researcher. “This analysis found that battery-electric and hydrogen-electric powertrains could have a competitive TCO as early as 2025, even for Class 8 vehicles, which are notoriously difficult to decarbonize.”

Dead batteries galore: While electric vehicle sales haven’t hit the 10 percent mark yet, quite a few of them have been sold since 2010 — and the question of what happens to their battery packs once they end their shelf life becomes a tough one to answer. Millions of EV batteries will be showing up in the next few years. Once placed in landfills, the cells can release problematic toxins, including heavy metals. And recycling the battery can have hazardous effects, says materials scientist Dana Thompson of the University of Leicester in England. If you cut too deep into a battery cell, or in the wrong place, it can short-circuit, combust, and release toxic fumes, she says.

Thompson advocates for constructive actions to be taken to recycle some of the battery elements and take away valuable metals that can be used elsewhere. She’s worked on developing solvents for extracting valuable metals from spent car batteries. Another practice she and colleagues have advocated for has been testing and adopting better recycling methods for the used batteries that would not only prevent pollution, but also
Helping governments boost their economic and national security by increasing supplies of key battery metals that are controlled by one or a few nations. The U.S. Department of Energy has invested about $15 million into a ReCell Center to coordinate studies by scientists in academia, industry, and at government laboratories.

Big players in energy storage and backup: You might be familiar with the larger energy storage companies that are using battery storage systems to store and distribute electric power usually generated by renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and geothermal. The top five energy storage companies in the U.S. this year are: #1. NextEra Energy, #2. Toshiba, #3. Tesla, #4. sonnen GmbH, and #5. General Electric.

What about companies that are manufacturing home generator systems that can restore power to a home or commercial building during a blackout power outage? The unsuspected market leader here has been Generac, a 62-year-old Waukesha, Wis., manufacturer that has about 75 percent of standby home generator sales in the U.S. Climate change-driven weather crises have turned it into a hot commodity on Wall Street.

Homeowners are willing to pay about $12,400 for the Generic backup generator. Hurricane Ida left over a million people in Louisiana and Mississippi without power recently in the days of turbulent weather. Last year, the Energy Department reported 383 electricity disturbances. As of the end of June, there had been 210 so far this year with a larger surge typical to the second half of the year.

Engine-maker Cummins and heavy equipment company Caterpillar — two major players in the commercial truck manufacturing market — have entered the energy backup market. They have small shares compared to the market leader, but they could be tough competitors if they apply their experience and expertise in production and distribution to this new market.

And in other news………..
Beyond COVID-19: The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued new Global Air Quality Guidelines (AQGs) that can inform the public and help reduce levels of key air pollutants, some of which also contribute to climate change. The new report shows a systematic review of accumulated evidence since 2005, with a marked increase of how air pollution affects different aspects of health. Exposure to air pollution is estimated to cause 7 million premature deaths worldwide each year, and results in the loss of millions more healthy years of life. In children, this could include reduced lung growth and function, respiratory infections and aggravated asthma. In adults, ischaemic heart disease and stroke are the most common causes of premature death attributable to outdoor air pollution, and evidence is also emerging of other effects such as diabetes and neurodegenerative conditions. The report states that mortality is due to exposure to fine particulate matter of 2.5 microns or less in diameter (PM2.5), which cause cardiovascular and respiratory disease, and cancers. Air pollution is now on a par with unhealthy diets and tobacco smoking for causing global health risks, WHO says.

Yet another EV SPAC coming up: Polestar, the Swedish electric car company that is a joint venture between Volvo and Geely, is going public by merging with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. Funds will be coming from billionaire and “serial SPAC backer” Alec Gores and investment bank Guggenheim Partners. Polestar is expected to have a $20 billion valuation and should bring in about $800 million for the company in cash.

The company’s headquarters is in Gothenburg, Sweden, and an assembly line in Chengdu, China. The startup has only released two vehicles so far: the $155,000 hybrid coupe Polestar 1 and the all-electric fastback sedan Polestar 2. The Polestar 3, an electric crossover SUV, is expected to be launched in late 2021.

More driver assist safety concerns: A regional California agency called out Tesla on Thursday over safety concerns for the automaker’s advanced driver assist system. This comes right before the company wants to launch a wide release of a test version of the software. The San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) is also disputing the name of the system, “Full Self-Driving” (FSD) saying it is an advanced driver assistance program, not an autonomous vehicle system.

Tilly Chang, Executive Director of the SFCTA, said in a statement to Reuters that a human driver should “continuously monitor” Tesla’s FSD system. “We are concerned about the safety record of this service and the name of the service as it could be confusing for consumers, and hope DMV, FTC and NHTSA continue to monitor and analyze this issue to protect consumers and the traveling public,” she said.

Charger landscape by 2030: Market research firm Guidehouse Insights expects that the world will have a fleet of 185 million plug-in electric vehicles by 2030. To keep these vehicles running, the charging infrastructure will obviously have to expand. That will come from a multi-tiered strategy. Light-duty vehicles capable of charging up to 500 kW will be common then, and heavy commercial vehicles capable of charging at more than 1 MW; some PEVs will be battery swapping capable, some will be vehicle-to-grid (V2G) capable, and some will be charged by wireless systems. Most will be AC- and DC -based charging systems. But more innovation is expected to show up with fast charging being part of it. Momentum is coming from programs and strategic moves adopted by governments, corporations, and automakers.