Top Challenges Faced by Electric Vehicle Makers and Owners

Plug-in electric vehicles, and other clean transportation and technology solutions, are growing by leaps and bounds in sales and support by fleets, trucking companies, consumers, and government support. But the challenges continue to grow right along with it. Here’s a look at a few of the issues that tend to come up, and solutions that will need to be considered…………………….

What’s going into the EVs on the parts and components side: There’s the challenge of “embodied emissions,” which come from the materials that go into these passenger and fleet/commercial vehicles. High-carbon materials like steel and aluminum that are made with coal-fired energy is one of the central challenges to overcome by automakers and their suppliers. Vehicle emissions are being reduced substantially by EVs, but emissions from the manufacturing side have been linked to cancer, respiratory illnesses, and premature death predominantly in disadvantaged communities. An impressive speaker panel, Eliminating Dirty Supply Chains in the EV Transition, will take place today, Nov. 15, at 4:00 pm Pacific time in Los Angeles.

Copper supply diminishing: Lack of copper is a serious problem for EVs and solar and wind power coming up. A temporary surplus is keeping prices low for now and discouraging investors from funding projects that would expand the supply as demand continues to increase. China, which consumes more than half the world’s supply of the metal, increased its purchases more than 150% higher than the same nine-month period of 2022, according to Goldman Sachs. Copper miners say investors are waiting for this factor, and a few others, to kick in before it becomes a worthwhile investment.

Lithium has its own problems: Major lithium producers for now are bullish about demand for the essential EV battery materials even through prices have been dropping lately. LG Energy Solution, General Motors, Honda, and other auto and battery makers have trimmed EV expansion plans in recent weeks, partly due to rising interest rates, raising concerns about a supply glut for the battery metal. Australia-based Pilbara Minerals, operating in the world’s largest lithium-producing nation, has been the most-shorted stock on the Australian Stock Exchange, which suggests investors are concerned about lithium demand. Overall, lithium, which varies by region and type, has dropped more than 60% this year. Concerns over lithium supply for EV battery pricing stability have been part of OEMs and suppliers looking for alternatives. In 2022, lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC) remained the dominant battery chemistry with a market share of 60%, followed by lithium iron phosphate (LFP) with a share of just under 30%, and nickel cobalt aluminium oxide (NCA) with a share of about 8% — point to new alternatives to conventional lithium-ion being on the rise, according to International Energy Agency.

Are EVs really fluctuating in sales? Several automakers have been warning this year that the transition over to increased sales will need to slow down as demand declines. Part of the reason is likely due to the fluctuations in supply for a few of the EV models — not the entire market, according to David Reichmuth, Senior Engineer, Clean Transportation Program at Union of Concerned Scientists. About a year ago, a number of EV models were in short supply and dealers had waiting lists of buyers. This year, oversupply has been the case for some EV models. Buyer interest is still there (measured by sales, which are up this year in the US), but the supply of some EV models is facing diminishing consumer demand (or unrealistic production forecasts). Overall, the EV market in the US and other global markets is still looking good, but there could be a downturn the rest of the year. Sales were down in October of this year — with EV sales down, and prices down about 22% year-over-year, which is mainly affected by Tesla sales dropping.

Taking a wholistic approach to sustainable emissions reduction: The most intensive country for electric vehicles as a share of its new vehicle sales presents a good look at the real challenges markets around the world face in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and keeping a workable transportation system in place. That would be Norway, which plans to ban the sale of all fossil-fuel powered vehicles, including hybrids, from 2025. Last year, more than 153,000 plug-in electric vehicles were registered in Norway, which made up nearly 88% of the total volume — higher than in 2021 by nearly one percent. For 2022, Norway led the global market for percentage of total new vehicle sales followed by Iceland (41%), Sweden (32%), the Netherlands (24%), and China (22%), according to analysis by World Resources Institute. The country has been receiving praise and acknowledgement for that accomplishment by the New York Times, the Guardian, Environmental Defense Fund, the World Economic Forum, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

The generous subsidies that drove the EV sales won’t be so plentiful in the near future. Norway may back down from funding the subsidies and redirect funds to other goals, such as supporting city efforts to transition over to alternative transportation modes supporting transit, bicycling, and other efforts to reduce the volume of vehicles on roads, that would address emissions reductions, enhance road safety, and help enliven urban life. There’s also been criticism that EV subsides have gone mainly to affluent Norwegians, adding to the gap between rich and poor in a country that’s prided itself on progressive social policies. This debate is being addressed in the US and around the world. While supporting EV sales and charging infrastructure is a necessity, concern over crowded, congested city streets continues to rise. Perhaps there will be greater support for vehicles such as electric buses and vans transporting groups from Destination A to B — eventually autonomous as well.

The cost of the battery packs: The 65 kWh 350V lithium-ion battery battery pack inside the Chevrolet Bolt runs the full wheelbase of the car and weighs 960 pounds. The standard car model version of the Bolt weighs 3,589 pounds. That would mean it makes up about 26.75% of the Bolt’s total weight. The average lead-acid car battery in a passenger vehicles weighs around: 25-40 pounds. The popular SUV, the Toyota RAV4, weighs 3,370 pounds for its standard model. That would be about 1.2% of the vehicle’s weight for the battery. A semi-truck including its cargo can weigh a maximum of 80,000 pounds. A battery for an electric truck can be up to 16,000 pounds, according to recent reporting by CNBC. That would be about 20% of the total weight. An EV battery might cost between $4,000 and $20,000, depending on the brand and model of your passenger vehicle, JD Power reported in May. It’s harder to find information on the cost of the battery needed for a heavy-duty truck. Transport Topics reported in May that the base price of a Class 8 battery-electric truck is between $350,000 to $500,000, or three to five times that of a diesel-powered heavy-duty truck. The battery has a lot to do with that. Recycling and disposing all of these battery packs will also be one of the major issues to deal with in the near future.

And in other news:
Most air-polluted cities: New Delhi, India, has again topped a real-time list of the world’s most polluted cities compiled in an air quality index by Swiss group IQAir, which put the Indian capital’s AQI at 640 in the “hazardous” category, followed by 335 in the Pakistani city of Lahore. The reasons for it? A seasonal combination of lower temperatures, a lack of wind and crop stubble burning in neighboring farm states had caused a spike in air pollutants in New Delhi, wreaking havoc on the eyes and itchy throats of local residents and workers.

Electrify America and 4 Gen Logistics: Electrify America, the nation’s largest open DC fast charging network for electric vehicles (EV), and 4 Gen Logistics, a leader in sustainable logistics solutions, recently announced the start of construction of a charging station at the Port of Long Beach to support 4 Gen’s growing fleet of electric class 8 drayage trucks. The first phase of the project, funded through Electrify America’s $25 million “Green City” investment, includes installation of thirty 350 kW DC fast chargers at the Port of Long Beach in support of advancing zero-tailpipe emissions and electrification of class 8 heavy duty trucks. 

EV tire company recognized: Electric vehicle tire company Enso was named one of 15 global finalists for the environmental Earthshot Prize. Launched by Prince William in 2020, the award aims to acknowledge sustainability leaders; and help scale the world’s most innovative climate and environmental solutions to protect and restore the planet. With 1.5 billion vehicles globally, addressing the issue of tire pollution is of critical importance in the fight against climate change. Research from Imperial College London in 2023 says that globally, tires emit six million tons of pollution each year and more airborne particulate matter than all tailpipes combined, according to London-based Enso. Michelin is also selling a line of its tires customized for EVs. You can see a banner at Costco stores advertising it.

Panelists Talk About the Realities of Deploying California’s Advanced Clean Fleets Rule

We’re three months away from new trucks having to register in California Air Resources Board’s TRUCRS online system to conduct drayage activities in the state. Those new trucks will have to emit zero emissions, running on batteries or hydrogen fuel cells.

Los Angeles Transportation Club hosted a speaker panel in Long Beach on Wednesday, Sept. 27, to discuss CARB’s Advanced Clean Fleets regulation, which was approved on April 28. The regulation’s first phase applies to trucks performing drayage operations at seaports and railyards, fleets owned by State, local, and federal government agencies, and high priority, last-mile, delivery fleets. 

Bill Robertson, vehicle program specialist, Mobile Source Control Division at CARB; Matt Schrap, CEO of the Harbor Trucking Association; Mike Gallagher, head of indirect sourcing, North America at Performance Team; and Matt LeDucq, CEO of Forum Mobility, spoke on a panel chaired by Bill Mongelluzzo, a senior editor at The Journal of Commerce.

The reasons for California going in this direction are clear with the health risks built in for those living near the ports and freeways where heavy-duty diesel trucks pass through; and for the impact medium- and heavy-duty trucks have on carbon emissions and climate change. But the hurdles are high for fleets to clear for all of it to work under the new rules.

Forum Mobility is currently developing a network of charging depots around the Oakland and Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, and along common trucking routes to warehouse destinations. The company is also putting together a $100 million charging infrastructure from Long Beach to Compton and Fontana. Forum Mobility is bringing in third-party capital to build the needed infrastructure.

LeDucq said that 50 to 150 trucks are typically using Forum Mobility’s charging network. One of the challenges his company, and all the supporters of clean transportation in the state, have to overcome is working with smaller companies to bring in the electric trucks they’ll need to serve the ports. They may be starting with five-to-10 electric trucks, but the cost and steps needing to be taken, can seem overwhelming for these small-to-medium sized truck fleets.

Legal fights expected soon
Schrap expects to see legal battles flare up soon as fleets grapple with meeting the ACF rules. An electric heavy-duty truck costs about $500,000 or more to purchase, and the charging infrastructure is still in its early phase. The megawatts needed to charge all these trucks will need to be set up for these mandates to be served, Schrap said. In his role heading up HTA, Schrap has been heavily involved in clean truck rules since 2005. There is certainly a lot to learn, he said.

“It’s tough to go buy trucks when there’s nowhere to charge them. It’s a chicken and egg” conundrum, Schrap said.

In May, the American Trucking Associations criticized the ACF regulations. ATA President and CEO, Chris Spear, said the state’s rule ignores the electric trucks are in their early stage, and the charging infrastructure needed to support them doesn’t exist yet.

The cost of these electric and hydrogen-power trucks are being offset by state incentives, and through project funding available to the ports through SCAQMD and other agencies. The federal Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 included commercial vehicles in its tax incentives. The legislation includes a tax credit for the purchase of electric commercial vehicles that’s equal to 30% of the vehicle’s purchase price, up to $40,000 per unit.

CARB’s Robertson said that the agency has to take a “push with the pull” approach that comes from integrating the Advanced Clean Trucks rule that’s already in place and the ACF going online in a few months. It’s also about the number of regulatory agencies involved with clean vehicle programs around the state — from South Coast Air Quality Management District, and the San Joaquin valley and Bay Area districts, the California Energy Commission, Gov. Gavin Newson’s executive orders, and state laws.

Fleet operators, truck makers, charging infrastructure suppliers, government officials, commercial property owners and developers, and transportation networking groups, have to stay well informed on all of it. The incentives are a necessity to tap into, and fleets need to make sure they’ve got all the bases covered when acquiring clean vehicles and setting up their charging networks, and having access to hydrogen stations.

Performance Team, a third-party logistics company acquired by Maersk in 2020, has a lot of experience tapping into these programs and testing clean vehicles in its warehousing, distribution, consolidated, and transportation operations. The company currently operates more than 60 distribution and fulfillment center locations in North America. Gallagher said that in August, the company hit the “one million mile” mark for clean vehicles used in its local fleet.

His company has to take a careful look at which locations should be getting the charging infrastructure set up. That has a lot to do with how much ground space if available at these sites to place the chargers, Gallagher said.

Another concern has been fluctuating prices for California’s low carbon fuel standard credits. Prices have come down to about $70 per credit recently, after having been up at the $200 level not long ago. Fleet operators would like to sell their credits to regulated companies that need to buy them — and would love to see the credit prices stay high.

How phase-in process will work
CARB is taking a phase-in approach to hitting the targets. Non-zero-emission “legacy” drayage trucks may register in the system through December 31, 2023. ACF allows drayage and high priority and federal fleets to continue using their existing trucks until the earlier of 18 years or 800,000 miles, or a minimum of 13 years if the truck has over 800,000 miles. All drayage trucks entering seaports and intermodal railyards would be required to be zero-emission by 2035.

New trucks coming in after January 1, 2024, will have to be zero emissions — electric and hydrogen fuel cell medium-to-heavy duty trucks. CARB is requiring:
* 100 percent zero-emission drayage trucks, last-mile delivery, and government fleets by 2035.
* 100 percent zero-emission refuse trucks and local buses by 2040.
* and 100 percent zero-emission capable utility fleets by 2040.
Trucks will have to be active in CARB’s registry, and come to a port at least once a year.

The end goal is to have fleet operators of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in California purchase and operate ZEVs by 2045. For vehicle makers, CARB wants them to sell only zero emission Class 2b-8 vehicles starting in 2036.

Outside of California, New Jersey is adopting similar rules and incentives as California has in place. Washington and Oregon appear ready to head in this direction, too, and other states are considering it.

And in other news………

House bill could stop California and other states from limiting internal combustion engine vehicles.

Tesla Cybertruck launch coming up

Run on Less started by NACFE

Hilton joins other hotel chains in adding EV charging stations

Largest hydrogen stations for heavy trucks coming to Port of Oakland

Toyota Land Cruiser brings back classic 1958 look

Expansion Phase for EV Makers Slowly Picking Up Momentum, $15.5B in US Available Grants

Rivian’s R1T is the top seller for the Irvine, Calif.-based electric automaker.

Beyond Tesla, how are electric vehicle makers doing in the US light-duty vehicle market? It’s gone beyond the startup phase, with these companies having spent years — some well over a decade — designing and manufacturing their first models.

Don’t be surprised if you hear an engineer brag about getting a job offer at Rivian Automotive, at least if you’re living in Southern California near the Irvine headquarters. Rivian had 14,122 employees on December 31, 2022. The number of employees increased by 3,700 or 35.50% compared to the previous year, the company reported. Revenue in 2022 came in at $1.66 billion.

So far, Amazon has about 1,000 electric delivery vans from Rivian, out of its order for 100,000 units. While the R1T electric pickup truck is the top seller so far, Amazon is expected to be getting the remaining 99,000 units of its EDV700 order in the near future and will be the major revenue driver for Rivian.

Taking a look at US sales, only four companies were included in the KBB Q2 EV sales report:

Source: Cox Automotive and KBB

Both Rivian and Lucid Motors have modest market valuations — with each of them around $13 billion in value. Rivian has access to a lot more cash, which makes it more attractive for investors to buy shares. But is Lucid overdoing it in executive pay? Automotive News reported that Lucid CEO Peter Rawlinson made 11 times more than GM CEO Mary Barra last year.

Rivian says that its dual-motor R1T pickup with the 180-kWh Max battery pack just won an EPA rating to go an estimated 410 miles on a charge. That hasn’t been posted yet by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Fisker Inc. is only just starting to deliver cars; the company has the advantage of working with experienced production partner Magna International. Lucid and Fisher both downgraded their product forecasts recently.

Polestar Automotive also reduced its outlook for 2023 production. Volvo Cars, one of Polestar’s major shareholders, needs more time to write the software for a new production platform that Polestar will use for its new sport-utility vehicle, Polestar said. The Polestar 3 will roll out in 2024, rather than later this year as previously predicted.

Vietnamese automaker VinFast in July said that it would start construction of a $4 billion electric vehicle factory in North Carolina soon, as part of its push to expand in the US market. The automaker is part of Vingroup, Vietnam’s largest conglomerate. VinFast started operations in 2019. It plans to start vehicle production in 2025.

There are a number of other EV maker competitors that are still struggling to get in to the expansion phase and roll out new vehicles to customers:
—Lordstown Motors
—Faraday Future
—Bollinger Motors
—Karma Automotive

And in other news………

$15.5B available: The federal government is making $12 billion available in grants and loans for automakers and suppliers to retrofit their plants to produce electric and other advanced vehicles, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told reporters on Thursday. The White House is also making $3.5 billion in funding for domestic battery manufacturers.

NASA has released the first data maps from time-lapsed videos taken from space. It shows several urban areas in the US, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean as hotspots for air pollution, particularly during certain times of day. The visual reports show high levels of pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide.

Musk influencing foreign affairs: A comprehensive feature in New Yorker revealed several more interesting facts about Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s extremely busy life. One interesting point: SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet terminals have been provided through the Pentagon to Ukraine for them to plan attacks and defend themselves in the war with Russia. But the company was reported to have given the Defense Dept. an ultimatum — a $400 million bill for providing annual service. No payment, no access. Soon after, connectivity was severed as Ukrainian forces entered that territory contested by Russia. The article also delved into safety investigations being done on the Autopilot semi-autonomous option for Tesla owners. In other news, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will soon make an announcement about its two-year investigation into Autopilot, the agency recently told Reuters.

Hybrids aren’t going away: Hybrid-electric vehicles are not disappearing as automakers put more time, capital, and talent into all-electric models. Ford is the latest of several top automakers, including Toyota and Stellantis, planning to build and sell hundreds of thousands of hybrid vehicles in the U.S. over the next five years, industry forecasters told Reuters.

BMW’s Mini subsidiary is set to roll out the Mini Cooper E and Mini Cooper SE at IAA 2023 in Munich. The base version E will go 189 miles, while the SE can go 249 miles. The E has 181 horsepower and 213 pound-feet of torque, allowing the driver to take it 0 to 62 mph in 7.3 seconds.

Research Study on GenZ Evaluating Valid, Legitimate News

The State of Nikola Tesla’s Dream for Wireless — in the World of EV Charging

The Wardenclyffe Tower was central to Nikola Tesla struggling to bring inductive, wireless electricity transmission to the world.

Did electric engineer and inventor Nikola Tesla lose his mind at the Wardenclyffe Tower in Long Island, NY, while striving to demonstrate that long-range wireless electricity transmission could be possible? While Tesla did live with mental health issues tied to obsessive-compulsive disorder, he didn’t seem to be wrong about wireless power transmission.

His main problem was that investor J.P. Morgan stopped funding the “Tesla Tower” experiments, and the project had to be shut down in 1906. The tower was later demolished in 1917. The ending of the test project happened about five years into developing the revolutionary technology — that would have freed up countries around the world from having to lay down the costly and laborious electric power grids on land with wired power stations, substations, and endless utility poles. Tesla discovered magnetic resonant coupling – the ability to wirelessly transmit electricity by creating a magnetic field between two circuits, a transmitter and a receiver.

While it’s yet to be taken as seriously as the current electric vehicle charging infrastructure that’s rolling out, the dream of seeing wireless electric vehicle (EV) charging hasn’t gone away. It is seeing something of an uptick lately. These days, inductive (wireless) charging has become the norm for everything from smartphones and laptops to kitchen appliances. Why not EVs?

Experts say it has great potential to make EV ownership more convenient, cost-effective, and appealing for drivers and fleet operators. There are multiple technologies in the works that could free EV drivers from the inconvenience of manually plugging in with a cable. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) continues to research the requirements and feasibility of wireless electric vehicle charging. Roadway classes to be electrified, and roadway charging segment locations and lengths, are part of the study.

Here’s more on some of the players in the game………

Headquartered in Watertown, Mass., WiTricity Corp. is considered to be the largest supplier and service provider in this space. The company specializes in wireless electricity, wireless power transfer, wireless charging, magnetic resonance, and charging electric vehicles. The company serves the automotive, consumer electronics, industrial, and medical industries in the US, Europe, China, Japan, and South Korea. The company came from the merger of Qualcomm and HaloIPT, a leading provider of wireless technology for electric road vehicles. The team was moved over to Qualcomm’s European Innovation Development group based in the UK. In 2019, Qualcomm sold off Halo’s technology to MIT spinoff WiTriCity for a minority stake in the company. The company has developed the WiTricity Halo™ Receiver, which is placed in electric vehicles and which captures energy from the magnetic field produced by the charger and converts the energy to direct current for charging its battery. The company has been talking to luxury carmakers (Genesis being one of them) about making this service a perk for luxury EV owners.

Formerly known as Momentum Dynamics, the King of Prussia, Penn.-based company serves fleets in commercial, transit, and intermodal vehicles. It’s considered to be a leading company in high-power, wireless EV charging. With nearly 50 patents issued and in process, InductEV’s solution lowers owners’ and operators’ total carbon footprint by minimizing dependencies on people and real estate while also maximizing vehicle uptime due to on-route charging, resulting in a reduction in the total cost of commercial fleet ownership. The company is led by founder Andrew Daga, whose time at NASA and working on inductive charging for the International Space Station inspired the company. 
Its pilot project in Oslo, Norway, made electric taxis there operate more efficiently — in an automotive market where nearly two-thirds of new passenger vehicles sold there in 2021 were electric.

Plugless Power 
The company has delivered over one million wireless charging hours for EVs with EV drivers. It has installed wireless charging stations at Google’s office in California and Hertz’s office in Florida. The company describes itself as “the world’s first hands-free proximity charging system for electric vehicles.” Its charging system wirelessly delivers electrical power to the on-board EV battery charger using electromagnetic induction without a physical connection (cable) to the vehicle. An EV equipped with a Plugless Vehicle Adapter can be charged by parking it over an inductive Plugless Parking Pad. In 2020, the company acquired the wireless inductive charging patent portfolio, and other related intellectual property, of Evatran Group, Inc. Trial partners have included Duke Energy and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, along with Google. In 2016, the more powerful second generation Plugless Power wireless charging system was released, supporting the Tesla Model S and BMW i3. The third generation version came out in 2021.

WAVE is considered to be a leading provider of wireless charging solutions for medium and heavy-duty electric vehicles. Embedded in roadways and charging vehicles during scheduled stops, the fully automated, hands-free WAVE system eliminates battery range limitations and enables fleets to achieve driving ranges that match that of internal combustion engines, the company says. Based in Salt Lake City and founded in 2011, the company was later acquired by Ideanomics for $50 million in 2021. More recently, the company has been focused on what it calls “opportunity charging,” an innovative charging method that facilitates the recharging of EVs during regular operational activities where downtime already exists in duty cycles, including layovers for transit buses and lunch breaks for cargo handling equipment. This approach differs from traditional plug-in depot charging, where vehicles are required to return to a central charging station, the company said.

Other companies in this space include:
Tesla just acquired German startup Wiferion, and while the electric automaker didn’t report on the acquisition cost its second-quarter cash flow statements noted that $76 million was spent on “business combinations.” Wiferion focuses on the performance of industrial electric vehicles such as autonomous guided vehicles (AGV), autonomous mobile robots (AMR), forklifts, and collaborative robots (CoBots) – with inductive charging systems that revolutionize the intra-logistical workflows.
EFI Automotive, a Stellantis partner, has developed an inductive robot charger that moves under a vehicle after it’s parked, reports Automotive News.. The automaker announced it at CES in January tied to its Ram 1500 Revolution pickup truck. EFI said the device is able to charge both light-duty and commercial vehicles.
Ford was granted a patent this year that brings together coils connected to an electricity source and embedded in the road surface with an electric vehicle capable of wirelessly receiving the power transmission, InsideEVs reports. ‘Ground penetrating radar (preferably Ultra-Wideband or UWB radar) detects and maps out the embedded charging coils so that a vehicle path can be laid out with the optimal charging capacity. A detection range of the radar extends beyond the charging coil presently beneath a vehicle, potentially beyond the next few coils in the travel direction of the vehicle,” according to the patent filing.
Toyota was awarded a patent in 2022 for what it calls “Optimizing Energy Transfer During EV Charging.” That would apply to developing systems that can optimize the amount of energy transferred from multiple sources along a travel route to individual EVs. It will use a blockchain technique to efficiently use the energy sources.
Electreon, based in Beit Yanai, Israel, has developed smart road technology using a dynamic wireless electric system for the electrification of transportation. The firm uses wireless electric system technology to reduce the need for heavy batteries. It focuses on smart road technology, wireless energy, public transportation, electric vehicles, E- mobility, and autonomous vehicles.
—Founded in 2011 and based in Brooklyn, N.Y., HEVO Inc., offers wireless charging solutions for electric vehicles, focusing on providing users with advanced charging technologies.The company’s wireless charging solution consists of three components: App & Cloud Sync, Power Station, and Wireless Receiver. The HEVO app shows nearby charging stations, monitors and evaluates charging statistics and bill payment status, and indicates charging stations’ availability. With its subsidiaries and distribution network, the company has a presence across North America and Europe, with offices in Brooklyn, Amsterdam, and Silicon Valley.
Hyundai’s Genesis luxury division is involved in a wireless charging pilot project in South Korea. WiTricity’s magnetic resonance wireless charging technology was tried out in the first half of this year through a fleet of Genesis GV60 and electrified GV70 luxury sport utility vehicles. Genesis said that 23 wireless charging pads were placed around the country with a power control station and a base pad placed on the ground. The company said that its wireless charger has an output of 11kW.
—German alternative energy company, Neutrino Energy, is investing 2.5 billion euros in India for developing a self-charging electric car, the Pi Car project. It will be using Neutrino’s patented neutrino voltaic technology. The German company says that neutrino voltaic would have applications across industries and products which involve storing and consuming electricity. The company says that its neutrino voltaic technology derives electrical energy from neutrinos, which are invisible particles that bombard the Earth in roughly equal numbers every moment of every day.
Other major international suppliers have been involved in supplying parts of the wireless EV charging technology for several years — Continental AG, Toshiba, Daihen, and Lumen.

And in other news…….

San Francisco struggling with robotaxis: While the Public Utilities Commission granted San Francisco the right to allow robotaxis without human drivers on its streets on August 10, it’s been a tumultuous situation ever since. General Motors’ Cruise division has agreed to cut its fleet of robotaxis in half after a recent crash in the city. That request had come from the California Department of Motor Vehicles after one of its robotaxis collided with an emergency vehicle on Thursday. The passenger in the robotaxi was taken by ambulance to a hospital to treat injuries that were not severe, Cruise said. A series of other safety and traffic-congestion incidents with Cruise and Waymo robotaxis, and objections expressed over whether they should be allowed to operate in the city, prompted the San Francisco City Attorney to urge state regulators to reconsider allowing autonomous vehicles to operate in the city.

CALSTART has released its Phasing in U.S. Charging Infrastructure report, which is aimed at building an infrastructure for rapid zero-emission (ZE) medium- and heavy-duty vehicle (ZE MHDV) adoption in the commercial transportation industry. In this roadmap, infrastructure buildout meets the pace and volume of ZE-MHDV market growth set by the Global Memorandum of Understanding on Zero-Emission Mediumand Heavy-Duty Vehicles (Global MOU), which the U.S. signed in 2022. The Global MOU, co-led by the Government of The Netherlands and CALSTART’s Global Commercial Vehicle Drive to Zero campaign and program (Drive to Zero), calls for 30 percent new commercial vehicle sales being zero-emission by 2030 and 100 percent being zero-emission by 2040. This adoption rate is 45 percent deeper than the vehicle penetration rates assumed by EPA’s proposed Phase 3 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards for HeavyDuty Vehicles. CALSTART representatives, including president and CEO John Boesel and report author Michael Joseph, are available for interviews. Please contact Dirk Evenson (; (619) 908-2903) or Shane Glaseman (; (626) 744-5617) to make arrangements.

Hydrogen from methane: Researchers Richard Blair and Laurene Tetard, both professors at the University of Central Florida (UCF), have developed a process that allows methane to be converted into hydrogen and carbon at room temperature using nothing but sunlight. Making hydrogen by reforming methane gas presents much opportunity with the US getting more than 95% of its supply from it, but it also creates enormous carbon emissions in the process. Extracting hydrogen from methane at room temperature using only sunlight would mean no carbon dioxide emissions.

Waymo and Cruise Allowed to Operate Autonomous Vehicles in San Francisco, Top Selling Global EVs

On August 10, Waymo and Cruise were approved to operate their paid robotaxi services 24/7 in San Francisco. That decision was made by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in a 3-to-1 vote. Members of the public were able to participate in a six-hour public hearing where they voiced their support and opposition to the autonomous vehicles (AVs). That followed several years, and tens of billions of dollars, with several companies investing heavily in developing and testing AVs — with very little hope until this vote passed through.

Waymo, owned by Alphabet, Inc., and Cruise LLC, owned by General Motors, are being allowed to operate their vehicles at any hour of the day throughout the city of San Francisco while charging for the rides. The commissioners urged the companies to address problems and concerns that were raised by San Francisco officials and residents. These issues included AVs blocking roads, causing traffic jams, and getting in the way of emergency vehicles. Commissioner Darcie Houck said that the comments were being taken very seriously in their decision. If further reports came of incidents, the CPUC could vote to limit the number of vehicles allowed on the roads, or companies’ permits could be revoked altogether.

Waymo operates Waymo One with 24/7 across 225 square miles of the Metro Phoenix area. Waymo One takes passengers from downtown Phoenix, to Scottsdale, to the East Valley, the company says. Riders can download the Waymo One app and take a ride in an all-electric Jaguar I-PACE, with no human behind the steering wheel.
Way One service started in December 2018.

The World’s Top Selling Plug-in Cars — 1st Half 2023
1. Tesla Model Y — 579,552
2. Tesla Model 3 — 279,320
3. BYD Song (BEV + PHEV) — 259,723
4. BYD Qin Plus (BEV + PHEV) — 204,259
5. BYD Yuan Plus EV (Atto 3) — 201,505
6. BYD Dolphin — 158,512
7. Wuling Hong Guang MINI EV — 122,052
8. GAC Aion S — 115,606
9. BYD Han (BEV + PHEV) — 96,437
10. GAC Aion Y — 92,034

In March, AAA published results from its annual AV survey. While survey respondents are open to partially-automated vehicle technology. They’re more apprehensive about fully self-driving vehicles. This year’s study found a major increase in drivers who are afraid, rising to 68% as compared to 55% in 2022. While automakers and their partners have made advancements in AV technologies, improvements will still need to be Mae to build public trust and knowledge about the technology, AAA said.

Source: InsideEVs

While the Tesla Model Y crossover SUV and the Tesla Model 3 small sedan are well known in the US market, here’s a look at the other top-selling electric vehicles in the global market — with Chinese maker BYD playing a major leading role………..

  • The BYD Song (a Chinese name, after the Song dynasty) is a series of compact crossover SUV developed by BYD Auto. 
  • The BYD Qin (pronounced “Chin”) is a compact sedan, available as an all-electric car, as a plug-in hybrid, and as an internal combustion engine vehicle.
  • The BYD Yuan is a subcompact crossover SUV, slotting below the BYD Song compact crossover. It is part of BYD’s “Dynasty Series” of production vehicles, and is named after the Yuan dynasty. It’s selling as the BYD ATTO 3 in Europe.
  • The BYD Dolphin is a battery electric hatchback produced by the Chinese manufacturer since 2021. A subcompact (B-segment) hatchback in its home country, the Dolphin is positioned above the Seagull in the Chinese market and part of BYD’s ‘Ocean Series’. It’s been exported to overseas market such as Europe, Australia, and Thailand since 2023 with lengthened dimensions to satisfy more stringent crash safety standards, and placing it in the compact or C-segment space.
  • The Wuling Hong Guang MINI EV is very cheap to buy — about $5,000 new. It’s not available outside of China, and its inspired competitive automakers to make similar models. It will be coming out in a cabriolet and a long-range version.
  • The Aion S is a compact electric sedan produced by Aion, a marque of GAC Group. It was unveiled at Auto Guangzhou of 2018. A new version, the Aion S Plus, was shown in 2021.
  • The BYD Han is a full-size/executive sedan manufactured by the Chinese automaker, available in an all-electric variant and a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) variant. It is the latest entry of BYD’s “Dynasty” series passenger vehicles, and gets its name from the Han Dynasty, which is considered to be the first golden age of Imperial China. 
  • The Aion Y is a compact electric crossover SUV produced by Aion, another model from GAC Group, since 2021. It was revealed as a concept at Auto Guangzhou in November 2020.

And in other news………..

Ford’s Farley on EVs: Ford CEO Jim Farley said the company is cutting back on its initial goal of building electric vehicles at a rate of 600,000 per year by the end of 2023. That will be moved into next year. A goal of 2 million by 2026 was delayed without an extension date provided yet, if at all. Ford is losing money on each EV it sells; but the plans are still there overall he said. The company’s plant in Cologne, Germany is ideal for launched the electric Explorer, he said. Another challenge has been delaying vehicle production to investigate thermal propagation, which build in countermeasures around fire. They needed a six-month delay “to get the engineering right,” Farley told NPR.

Nikola recall: Nikola is recalling all the 209 battery-powered electric trucks that had been delivered to customers due to an investigation into recent fires that found a coolant leak inside a battery pack as the cause. The electric and hydrogen-powered heavy-duty truckmaker is contacting all parties about it, the company said. The preliminary findings came from a third-party investigator looking into a “minor thermal incident” on one pack on a parked engineering-validation truck, the company said, adding that no one was injured.

More on How Hydrogen and FCVs are Moving Forward, BYD top seller in Sweden

The Hyundai XCIENT Fuel Cell was the world’s first mass-produced fuel cell heavy-duty truck, according to the automaker.

More on hydrogen and fuel cell vehicles, from Automotive News:

  1. The U.S. Department of Energy is in the process of investing $7 billion into a series of regional hydrogen production hubs to make sure it’s available for transportation and heavy industry.
  2. A hydrogen fuel cell system by cellcentric, a joint venture between Daimler and Volvo, was shown at at Daimler Truck Capital Market Day. cellcentric has been a fuel cell provider for cars for a few years, but with the Daimler and Volvo JV acquisition, the company is focusing on developing that technology for the truck market.
  3. The European Union is considering making a regulatory change that would place hydrogen-powered heavy-duty trucks as zero-emission vehicles.
  4. General Motors has created a lab where cells are built into stacks that are used fuel cell systems. The stacks each have 300 cells that create 300 watts of power.
    Hydrogen Fuel News also reported that the automaker has been developing its Hydrotec hydrogen fuel cell technology project, and is now ready to start equipping heavy-duty commercial vehicles such as trucks with the technology.
  5. GM and a few industry experts believe that hydrogen will be a solid replacement for diesel, more than gasoline. That suggests cars will be replaced more by electric vehicles and zero emission commercial trucks will be a mix of hydrogen and EVs.
  6. InsideEVs reported that the second quarter saw the sales volume increase year-over-year in California, where the series-produced models are available for sale. It was also the highest quarterly volume ever — 1,076 new hydrogen fuel cell cars were sold, which is 34% higher than a year ago. The Toyota Mira same most of those sales, with the Hyundai Nexo reporting 40 of these vehicles sold.

And in other news………

BYD ATTO 3 top seller in Sweden. The Chinese automakers’ all-electric SUV sold in the European market came in at No. 1 for electric vehicles sold in Sweden in July 2023. At 721 units sold, it beat No. 2 VW ID.4, which came in at 710 units sold in that country last month. That ATTO3’s battery pack is a 60.48 kWh BYD Blade Lithium Iron-Phosphate (LFP). It has claimed range/battery capacity – 260 miles, and 351 city (WLTP) — Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure. The highway cruising range estimate – 158.6 miles, according to Forbes. The ATTO 3 has a top-of-the-range version ipriced at £38,990 ($50,000) after tax in Britain. The automaker also recently launched that model in Italy along with its all-election BYD Han.

Lucid lowers price on Air: Lucid announced it will be dropping its Lucid Air to $83,900 for the Dual Motor all-wheel drive version, that includes the $1,500 destination fee. That would make it more competitive to the base Tesla Model S Dual Motor that currently starts at $89,880 including a $1,390 destination charge. The Lucid Air Pure has an EPA-rated range of 410 miles with standard 19-inch wheels and 384 if you go with the 20-inch wheels. Tesla’s offering has an EPA-rated 405-mile range with its standard 19-inch wheels or 375 miles with the available 21-inch wheels. In other new, Lucid’s net loss for the second quarter was $764.2 million, or 40 cents per share. A year ago, Lucid reported a net loss of $555.3 million, or 33 cents per share. Revenue in the second quarter rose to $150.9 million from $97.3 million in the same period in 2022, according to CNBC.

Musk may be having surgery: Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced on X (formerly known as Twitter) that he may need to have surgery and will be having an MRI on his neck and upper back. He’ll be posting more information on it during this week. Musk, 52, may need to hand over duties for a while — as head of X, Tesla, SpaceX, and Neuralink.

Corporate Social Responsibility and Greenwashing Looking Bad for Many Companies

Here’s an ideal way that Procter & Gamble could have bolstered its efforts to eliminate deforestation and forest degradation in its supply chains.

Is Cincinnati-based multinational consumer goods company Procter & Gamble (P&G) standing up to its commitment to prohibit forest degradation? Reuters reported that the company has dropped its pledge to not buy wood pulp from degraded forests like the Canadian Boreal Forest.

More than a million acres of that climate-climate forest are clear-cut each year. That’s one go the forests P&G taps into for toilet paper, paper towels, and facial tissues. It’s an important forest in the fight against climate change, with more than 300 billion tons of climate-altering carbons — twice as much carbon as the world’s oil reserves — in its soils, plants, and wetlands.

P&G is one of many companies violating previous sustainability commitments and greenwashing their efforts.

In 2020, a majority of P&G’s investors passed a non-binding resolution requesting that it assess how it could bolster efforts to eliminate deforestation and forest degradation in its supply chains. That came from scrutiny and pressure the company had been placed under environmental non-profit groups and some shareholders. The boreal forest deals violate the resolution.

The company is under a lot of scrutiny now with the Reuters report and the ABC affiliate in Cincinnati airing a an investigative series called, “Conscience of the Company” that explores how the descendants of Procter & Gamble’s founders are trying to influence the company today.

Another challenge is that the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) late last year filed a complaint with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to evaluate if P&G’s claims that it prohibits forest degradation were materially misleading investors. 

In March, Greenpeace Australia Pacific asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to investigate whether environmental claims by Toyota have been misleading or deceptive. The greenwashing complaint focused on claims about the environmental performance of Toyota’s vehicles and its net zero ambitions.

Greenpeace’s complaint includes allegations Toyota’s net zero by 2050 plans are not what the company is carrying out in its vehicle production plans, it was lagging way behind on making electric vehicles, and it has lobbied globally to heal, weaken, or delay vehicle emissions standards.

“Toyota Australia has a long track record in helping customers reduce their vehicle emissions, including through the supply of over 315,000 hybrid-electric vehicles and investment in reduced tailpipe emissions vehicles and carbon neutral technologies,” the company said.

Toyota and Honda had the worst EV availability. Only 11% of Honda dealers and 15% of Toyota dealers had an electric vehicle available for sale. That came from the Sierra Club’s new report “Rev Up Electric Vehicles: A Nationwide Study of the Electric Vehicle Shopping Experience,” which shows that the U.S. auto industry is largely failing to meet consumer demand for electric vehicles (EVs) and automakers are greenwashing their EV commitments.

ExxonMobil tops the charts
ExxonMobil has topped the list for worst-case scenario for global automakers seeking to stay completely dependent on fossil fuels. The company had made some big claims about joining the climate change fight and getting out of oil and into other energy. Shell and BP tend to also end up on greenwashing lists.

Last year, PBS’ Frontline news series presented “The Power of Big Oil,” provided a three-part investigative series the role the fossil fuel industry, particularly ExxonMobil, has failed to confront climate change. The evidence was damning — on how much scientists, corporations, and politicians have known about human-caused climate change for decades, and the missed opportunities to mitigate the problem.

“We have continued to maintain a position that has evolved with science and is today consistent with the science,” said Darren Woods, chair and CEO of ExxonMobil, in an October 2021 congressional hearing.  

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is in a very tough situation. The company provides natural gas and electric service to approximately 16 million people throughout a 70,000-square-mile service area in northern and central California. As climate change hits hard, PG&E is at the epicenter of wild brushfires raging through the region. The company may be wise to break up the covered area and sell off some of it to other utilities or state-owned entities.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) recently approved a settlement PG&E for the utility’s involvement in the 2020 Zogg Fire. PG&E will pay a total of $150 million — $10 million will be paid as a penalty to California’s General Fund, and $140 million in shareholder funds will be invested for new wildfire mitigation initiatives designed to mitigate the risk of similar events occurring in the future. The Zogg Fire was caused when a tree fell on energized conductors owned and operated by PG&E in Shasta County on September 27, 2020. The Zogg Fire burned 56,338 acres, caused four fatalities and one injury, and destroyed 204 structures. A state agency conducted an investigation and alleged that the tree that caused the fire was not removed in time because of PG&E’s poor record-keeping.

Of course, there are automotive, transportation, and energy companies that are being socially responsible.

Newsweek has partnered with global research and data firm Statista for its fourth annual list of America’s Most Responsible Companies 2023.

General Motors is the only automaker to be placed on this list of 500 companies, coming in at No. 56. It came in at 82.94 points on the scale with Environmental Score being the highest, followed by Corporate Governance Score and Social Score down in points and third on the list.

It’s one of 17 companies on the list in the Automotive & Components category. It’s mostly parts and component suppliers. The other manufacturers besides GM are Harley-Davidson, Winnebago Industries, and Polaris Inc., a manufacturer of power-sports vehicles.

For the Energy & Utilities there are no oil companies. Waste Management made No. 73 on the list. Renewable Energy Group, a biodiesel production company headquartered in Ames, Iowa, came in at No. 410.

And in other news………..
US fuel economy standards going up: The Biden administration on Friday proposed to hike fuel economy standards by 2032 to a fleet-wide average of 58 miles per gallon as it seeks to cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce fuel use. That will equate to a real-world fleet efficiency average of about 43.5 mpg. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposal, which covers the 2027 through 2032 model years, would boost Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) requirements by 2% per year for passenger cars and 4% per year for light trucks. The agency’s new proposal would save 2032 vehicle owners about $1,043 per vehicle in lifetime fuel costs, while increasing average vehicle costs by $932. The agency is also proposing new fuel efficiency standards for heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans for 2030-2035 rising 10% per year.

Green hydrogen: A tracker by Aranca allows you to follow all green hydrogen projects around the world. Since 2018, there have been 461 projects put into operations. Register here with your email to get on the Green Hydrogen Hub – Aranca list. You can look at it by country and other parameters.

Tesla owners still love their electric vehicles but are not on good terms with CEO Elon Musk. Bloomberg recently revisited its survey of 5,000 Tesla owners that were first polled in 2019. Most of them think Musk’s recent public statement had harmed Tesla’s reputation, and that his acquisition of Twitter (now called X) was a distraction from his duties at Tesla. The Model 3 is getting “near-universal praise,” Bloomberg said. A majority of owners are satisfied with its reliability, and it’s help up well since the previous survey in 2019.

More than 300 RNG stations: The Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas (RNG Coalition) reported that in North America, there are more than 300 operational Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) facilities, up from just over 30 facilities in 2011 when RNG Coalition was founded. This extraordinary growth reflects the RNG industry’s steadfast commitment to mitigating climate change, fostering energy security, and ensuring a cleaner, greener future for present and future generations, the coalition said. 

RNG plays a pivotal role in reducing global methane emissions — a greenhouse gas estimated by leading scientists to have 80 times the climate-warming impact of an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide. By investing in methane capture and RNG distribution, North America is curbing greenhouse gas emissions, advancing circular economies and enhancing the overall environmental sustainability of the region. 
RNG is a sustainable, clean fuel derived from organic waste found at landfills, wastewater treatment plants, dairy farms and other waste streams. RNG facilities capture and refine biogenic methane emissions produced by this waste, turning it into a valuable energy resource. 

J.D. Power announced that its J.D. Power EV Index, an analytics tool to track the growing electric vehicle (EV) market in the US has been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to help establish benchmarks and monitor ongoing development of EV infrastructure nationwide. DOE research using the J.D. Power EV Index will be led by Argonne National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary science and engineering research center managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the DOE’s Office of Science. The J.D. Power EV Index delivers detailed data on EV infrastructure development and consumer experience with public charging networks at the ZIP Code level across the country. It also provides vital information on regional trends in infrastructure growth and potential barriers to widespread consumer adoption.

Seven Automakers Forge Fast Charger Network, More on Renewable Diesel

Photo source: CleanTechnica

Seven automakers are forming a new company that will be installing 30,000 faster chargers in the US in the new few years. They’re going to be dual-port stations with both CCS1 and NACS (Tesla’s connector), but CHAdeMO won’t be included. The stations will be in urban areas and along state highways.

The seven automakers are BMW, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, and Stellantis. Automakers who had recently agreed to adopt Tesla’s NACS were Ford, GM, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Polestar/Volvo, and Rivian. Automakers reportedly in talks with Tesla: Hyundai, Stellantis, and Volkswagen. ChargePoint and Electrify America had agreed to adopt NACS, according to Car and Driver.

One of the key points in the announcement that this new company’s network hopes to solve a recurring problem: reliability problems. Users will have to plug and replug, or wonder why the charging speed is so low, or is no longer available.

They’re expecting roll out the chargers in mid-2024.

Who Consumes Nearly All Renewable Diesel? California.
California accounts for nearly all renewable diesel consumption in the US, but most of it isn’t made in the state, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). More than eight times the renewable diesel was consumed in California than was produced there in 2021. California imports renewable diesel, with Singapore as the leading overseas market, and purchases it from other states producing it.

Six states—Louisiana, North Dakota, California, Wyoming, Washington, and Kansas—accounted for all renewable diesel (RD) production in the US in 2021.

California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), which went into effect in 2011, is behind all of it. Between 2011 and 2021, consumption grew from 1 million barrels to 28 million barrels per year in the state.

California continues to make gains in renewable natural gas (RNG) investment and production. In just the first half of 2020, RNG made up nearly 90% of all natural gas vehicle fuel consumed in the state, according to Trillium.

LCFS has been adopted in California and is in the beginning phase in Oregon. Other states are considering it.

Soybeans might make up the bulk of RD. While RD and biodiesel both come from vegetable oils, animal fats, and recycled restaurant grease, 100% of RD comes from these ingredients and is chemically the same as petroleum diesel. Vegetable oils are the most economically viable which can be met by oilseed production. Soybeans make up about 90 percent of U.S. oilseed production, while other oilseeds—including peanuts, sunflowerseed, canola, and flax—make up the remainder, says the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. 

And in other news……..

Taking on methane: Colorado is taking on a major environmental problem: the release of methane gas into the atmosphere. A public-private coalitions has worked together to adopt new rules that requires oil and gas companies to directly measure methane emissions at production and publicly report it; and it empowers a new formed division to have the authority to enforce compliance. It also built in a public process for continuous evaluation of a robust companion protocol to make sure it gets carried out long term.

Tesla rigged range estimates: Tesla played with the numbers on available driving range on its electric vehicles for years, according to an investigation by Reuters. A source said that the company rigged the range-estimating software on the cars’ dashboard, providing a “rosy” projection of how far the driver could go before running out of power, the report said.

ACT Expo speakers:  Interested in being a speaker at ACT Expo 2024? Here’s a link for submitting your abstract on topics that would be of interest to clean transportation advocates. The show organizer would prefer to have presenters from fleets. 

Self-driving cars and Uber drivers:  News of driver jobs going away has been floating around since 2014 after Google started testing self-driving cars. Companies such as Waymo, Tesla, and Uber are still testing and developing autonomous vehicles, but there are major challenges they still have to overcome. Regulatory hurdles, technological limitations, and public acceptance remain significant walls to climb. 

E-fuels being taken very seriously these days, NHTSA back to discussing autonomous vehicle rules

Porsche 911s will soon be powered by e-fuels, the automaker said.

There are three options that fleets consider for converting over to clean vehicles:

  1. Drop-in the alternative fuel into an existing internal combustion engine (ICE) and fuel system, such as e-fuels, ethanol blended with gasoline, or renewable diesel.
  2. Retrofit or modify over to an alternative fuel and powertrain, such as compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, renewable natural gas, or propane autogas.
  3. Replace vehicles entirely with another technology such as electric vehicle drive train systems or hydrogen fuel cell systems.

Porsche, Stellantis, Ferrari, BMW, and other automakers are digging into e-fuels as a way of hitting government mandate emissions targets along with zero emission vehicles — battery electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles — on the passenger vehicle side. On the commercial vehicle side, Amazon and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries are taking drop-in e-fuels quite seriously, too.

Drop-ins make much sense for fleet operators, especially fueling vehicles that have been in the fleet for years with much data collected on performance and dependability, adaptability to fleet applications (such as utility trucks), availability, and affordability.

Internal combustion engines continue to dominate fleets, making converting over partially to electric vehicles and bringing in e-fuels as a viable pathway to hitting internal and external targets.

What’s known so far about e-fuels?
It’s a class of synthetic fuel used as a drop-in replacement fuel. Vehicles, ships, and airplanes will be using e-fuels, and they don’t need any modifications.

The process starts with renewable energy such as wind and solar obtaining hydrogen by way of electrolysis. Oxygen is separated from hydrogen through a filtration process. C02 is captured and condensed from the atmosphere, which helps clean the air. Hydrogen obtained by electrolysis is combined with the captured C02 through a process called synthesis. The first result is e-methanol, which can be converted into synthetic gasoline with the help of a methanol-to-gasoline synthesis. This produces the carbon-neutral e-fuel, according to Porsche.

Start-up company Infinium Electrofuels is nearing first production of its e-fuel from a plant in Texas, and its first customer is Amazon. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has been an early investor in the company. Potential customers in aviation, marine shipping, and chemicals, are looking at e-fuels as well, the startup said.

In December, Porsche began working with Chilean operating company Highly Innovative Fuels (HIF) to begin production of synthetic e-fuels. Porsche hopes to be annually selling 145 million gallons of it before the end of the decade. It’s being built at the Haru Oni Demonstration Plant in southern Chile. They’re hoping the synthetic fuel made with renewable energy, green hydrogen, and recycled C02 could displace fossil fuels without having to modify vehicle engines and the fueling infrastructure. For now, it will power Porsche race cars and is being tried out in Porsche 911s.

In late march, the European Union passed a mandate ending sales of carbon-emitting cars by 2035, with the exception that vehicles running on internal combustion engines powered by e-fuels can stay on roads. They’re still debating and looking into the actual carbon dioxide emissions of battery electric vehicles versus ICEs running on e-fuels made from electricity powered by renewable energy. They may allow ICEs to continue to be sold after 2035 but they will need to be fitted or retrofitted with technology called a “fuelling inducement system” to prevent the use of fossil fuels in the vehicle. E-fuel vehicles do have some C02 and other emissions, however they are usually considered to be carbon neutral because the process involves capturing CO2, which will offset the vehicle emissions.

There are critics and observers out there who are taking a “wait-and-see” approach to whether synthetic e-fuels can deliver what advocates promise and whether the fuel will be economically viable. The fuel is currently expensive to produce and won’t be realistic for fleets and consumers to consider as an affordable option for a few years.

Skeptics would like to see honest, realistic reporting on what it will really take to produce the fuel — and the emissions released into the atmosphere during that process and how much energy it will use up to produce. Carbon capture is also very questionable, they say. Does that technology really deliver on what it’s supposed to do, and will that work from an economic perspective?

And in other news……….

Self-driving car rules: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will be publishing a notice of proposed rulemaking on autonomous vehicle guidelines, called the AV STEP. That came from NHTSA acting administrator Ann Carlson speaking at the Automated Road Transportation Symposium. It will offer an alternative regulatory route from previous possible regulations, and it may include removal of limitations on the maximum authorized number of these vehicles that can go on roads. General Motors has yet to hear back on its February 2022 request for exemption for its Cruise Origin robotaxi. GM and other automakers are interested in seeing more details come out on revised rules, which had been sitting on hold since before Covid-19 started.

Truckmakers complying: Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association and California Air Resources Board on July 6 announced an agreement on the state’s plan to phase out sales of Class 4-8 diesel-powered trucks. California regulators agreed to relax existing standards for nitrogen oxide pollution so they align with the federal government’s rules. Engine and truck makers will probably be granted more time to meet new requirements and more protection for legacy engines. The truck makers say they can now meet the state’s zero-emission vehicle targets, even if they’re later overturned in court. Engine and truck makers who’ve signed on include Cummins Inc., Daimler Truck North America, Ford, GM, Hino Motors Limited Inc., Izuzu Technical Center of America Inc., Navistar Inc., Stellantis, and Volvo Group North America.