EV update – May 26, 2017

From Dan Welch at C2ES.org — thanks, Dan!  Supplemented with some additional info from Inside Climate News.

Financial analysis firm UBS says that some EV models could reach cost of ownership parity with typical cars in 2018, though such parity would be achieved in the short term by automakers selling at a loss.  The investment bank UBS sees the cost of ownership for electric cars (purchase price plus maintenance and fuel) falling fast and reaching parity with gasoline and diesel vehicles as soon as next year in Europe. The bank’s analysts completely disassembled a Chevrolet Bolt, General Motors’ mass-market electric car, to better understand manufacturing costs. Their conclusion that it costs GM $27,800 to build the Bolt was lower than they had expected, the Financial Times says here. As a result, they raised their estimate for the pace of adoption. UBS expects true cost at sale parity in the U.S. auto market to arrive around 2025, when automakers will be earning from EV sales due to improvements in scale and production costs. Bloomberg New Energy Finance also estimates EVs will cost less than gasoline-powered vehicles by 2030, due largely to global investments in battery EV manufacturing.

UBS expects that 30% of its car sales in Europe will be electric by 2025. The current share is close to 1%.  Volkswagen is expecting 25%.  Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson told Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that his company does not plan to develop a next generation of diesel engines for its cars and SUVs (despite the current importance of diesel for its European lineup). The existing diesel engine won’t be abandoned for years, but the next move is to electric vehicles.

Joining the recent announcement of a multi-billion dollar Chinese EV battery plant project, Daimler AG is set to break ground on a 500 million-euro EV battery manufacturing plant in Germany. The automaker plans more than 10 all-electric Mercedes-Benz models by 2022 and promises battery versions of commercial vehicles, including its Sprinter vans. Bloomberg says big battery factories are also planned for Sweden, Hungary and Poland, and global battery-making capacity is on pace to double by 2021.

Combined with other large battery production plants planned in Europe and Asia, battery manufacturing is becoming diverse and global. Japanese battery maker Panasonic’s CEO of North American operations sees the future of transportation as “definitely electric” and a “slam dunk,” adding that the timeframe is the only uncertain aspect of the move to electricity. A Jalopnik author sees increased investment in EV batteries and parts as an opportunity to follow lessons of the 1990s’ personal computing movement of standardizing and modularizing components that make production easier, less expensive, and more consumer-friendly. What’s the worst that could happen by following 90s computing trends?

Lastly, California’s Air Resources Board has made a decision about VW’s ZEV investments in the state. CARB sent a letter to VW’s subsidiary, Electrify America, requesting a supplement to the California investment plan that would address concerns over equitable investments for low-income and vulnerable populations. GM has been accused of installing defeat devices similar to VW’s in a civil suit over 705,000 pickup trucks. The suit alleges that “Duramax” engines installed in Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups from model years 2011 to 2016 emit higher than permissible levels of air pollution. GM joins growing ranks of automakers accused of installing defeat devices in diesel-powered vehicles, as Fiat Chrysler faces charges from the Department of Justice for the same infraction.

Cutting air pollution through reduced driving? The data on change in urban neighborhood density in recent years shows more people packing into urban centers in places such as Seattle and New York. But most U.S. cities got less dense—San Antonio was the sprawliest city—and these are also the places with the fastest overall population growth. The article is here.  : “It’s another example of a polarized America, of places becoming more unlike each other: not only with respect to income inequality and politics, but also with growth patterns.” —Jed Kolko, chief economist at Indeed.com

Manufacturers and Models

New Ford CEO relies on veterans to reboot profits (Reuters): Ford has hired a James Hackett as new CEO to streamline operations and to help develop the company’s new ventures, including electric and autonomous vehicles. Sherif Marakby will take over the electric and autonomous division, leaving his position from ride-hailing company Uber.

Subaru considers electric versions of its cars in R&D push (Bloomberg): Subaru is planning to develop a plug-in hybrid EV by the end of next year and an all-electric vehicle for production by 2021. The automaker will also add a driver-assist setup that will detect obstacles on the roads.

China is the most lucrative market for electric cars—and Volkswagen just made a big push to win the country (Business Insider): Volkswagen and Chinese automaker JAC have received permission from China’s National Development and Reform Commission to build 100,000 all-electric vehicles per year in the nation. VW already has joint ventures with China FAW Group Corp and SAIC Motor Corp in China.

Deployment Spotlight

Phoenix could offer public buying program for electric cars (KJZZ): The city of Phoenix is considering a public bulk-purchase program for EVs. Phoenix is drawing from a Boulder, Colorado program that partnered with Nissan dealerships to provide discounts worth up to $8,000 per Leaf. The Phoenix program intends to partner with regional dealers, as well as utilities and other cities, to arrange bulk consumer discounts.

Toronto startup seeks to boost electric vehicle charging stations (The Globe and Mail): Tech startup SWTCH is implementing a program in Toronto that would allow EV charging station owners to rent out their facilities to other drivers, similar to how AirBnB allows homeowners to rent out their residences. The program is in beta mode and is looking for residential charging owners to join.