Dan Welch, Center for Climate & Energy Solutions, EV Clips for the Week ending Oct 6th, 2017
Several automakers turned up the juice on their commitments to electrified transportation. Most notably, General Motors is planning for an “all-electric future” by substantially increasing its planned investment in EVs to at least 20 new all-electric vehicle models by 2023. The company also plans to develop heavy-duty hydrogen FCVs for non-retail customers. Ford’s CEO Jim Hackett shared his company’s plans to introduce 13 new EV models globally within the next five years as part of its $4.5 billion investment in EV development. Ford is also putting together “Team Edison” to accelerate the development of EVs. Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn joined the procession by sharing his company’s plans to electrify half of its models by 2022. The company plans to offer eight all-electric and 12 hybrid models within the next five years.Automaker leaps into electrification may be spurred by the Chinese government’s announced requirement for large automakers to sell “new energy vehicles” and consideration of banning sales of new gasoline-and diesel-powered vehicles. For context, GM plans to release at least 10 “new energy vehicles” in China by 2020.
According to a Morgan Stanley analyst, automaker pledges are insufficient without a “well-defined plan” to manage charging infrastructure. The analyst frames EV charging as not just a technical problem, but also involves navigating political issues such as working with unions and utilities. The New York Times points out that even when sufficient publicly charging infrastructure is available, drivers may be swapping “range anxiety” for “time trauma.” Charging in public may take half an hour with current DC fast charging technologies, and faster-charging technologies may not be available for years. Charging availability and wait times are challenges covered by the International Council on Clean Transportation’s global assessment of charging infrastructure deployment practices, challenges, and emerging best practices in major EV markets.
Turning back to GM, the company also indicated that it will be prepared to step into the autonomous vehicle market “well ahead of competitors.” GM could start large-scale commercial operations as soon as 2020, according to reports by Deutsche Bank. Conducive policies for autonomous vehicles would need to be in place for the vehicles to legally operate on U.S roads. The U.S. Senate is considering such a policythrough a bill that would create safety exemptions for autonomous vehicles to operate without human drivers—a similar bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously. As lawmakers consider the legal implications of autonomous technology, podcasters from Radiolab turn up the sound effects as they consider the philosophical and ethical implications of driverless vehicles. The podcast underscores concerns reported by Car and Driver that suggest consumers may be slow to adopt driverless technologies. Even though removing humans will almost certainly improve road safety, consumers may be loath to give up control of their own fates by getting into a car that makes safety decisions for them. Passengers in autonomous vehicles may choose to steel their nerves with a tipple or two, at least in Australia. A report from the country’s National Transport Commission identifies the responsible party as the autonomous driving system, not an impaired human occupant, and has recommended revising rules on drunk driving in fully autonomous vehicles.
As always, these stories and more are summarized and linked below.
Enjoy the long weekend!
Generating Maximum Impact – EV Test Drive Best Practices Webinar (Plug In America): Plug In America will host a webinar on Tuesday, October 17th at 12pm EDT to present best practices on promoting EVs to consumers at test drive events. Speakers include representatives from an outreach strategy consultancy, an electric utility, and a state office of energy and environment.
Manufacturers and Models
GM promises 20 all-electric cars by 2023 (Business Insider): General Motors has substantially increased its planned investment in EVs in sharing its plan to introduce at least 20 new all-electric vehicles by 2023. The company’s executive vice president of global product development stated that “General Motors believes the future is all electric.” GM also plans to develop heavy-duty hydrogen FCVs for non-retail customers.
Ford CEO Jim Hackett’s plan to Wall Street: Fewer models, more electric cars (Detroit Free Press): Ford CEO Jim Hackett has announced that the automaker plans to introduce 13 new EV models globally within the next five years as part of its $4.5 billion investment in EV development. Ford is also putting together a “Team Edison” to accelerate the development of EVs. “The idea is to think big, move fast, and make quicker decisions” the company’s vice president of autonomous vehicles and electrification said of the team, which will be based in Detroit but will liaise with teams based in China and Europe.
Renault wants half its cars to be electric or hybrid in 2022 (ABC News): The CEO of French automaker Renault said that the company plans for half of its models to be electrified by 2022. The company plans to offer eight all-electric and 12 hybrid models within the next five years. CEO Carlos Ghosn also said that Renault plans to invest heavily in autonomous driving features.
Tesla misses Model 3 production goals (Wall Street Journal): Tesla fell short of its Model 3 production goal for the third quarter, building 260 Model 3s that did not meet an anticipated 1,500 vehicles. The shortfall signals that the automaker’s ramp up to large scale production may not go as smoothly as hoped as Tesla plans to manufacture 5,000 Model 3s weekly by the end of the year.
Putin says he’d drive a Tesla (Bloomberg): Russian president Vladimir Putin affirmed his willingness to drive EVs, responding, “What do you think—that we’ll only be riding in carts or something? No, we won’t be riding in carts. Or on tanks?” Putin praised “light, fast, and efficient” EVs, but in a nod to his nation’s significant export, added that natural gas as a motor fuel is more environmentally friendly than electricity.
September 2017 Dashboard (Hybrid Cars): September 2017 U.S. EV sales are now available: 7,719 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and 13,421 all-electric vehicles were sold this past month. Combined EV sales from this past September are up 32% from EV sales in September 2016. Sales of the Prius Prime sit atop the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle market with 24.6% of the market, while the Chevy Volt is in second at 18.8% of the market. Tesla’s Models S and X led all-electric vehicle sales with 33.5% and 25.3% of the market, respectively, while the Chevy Bolt took 19.6%.
General Motors commits to an “all-electric future” with sights set on China (Greentech Media): GM’s heightened electrification strategy may be aimed at gaining inroads into the Chinese vehicle market, where policymakers are considering a ban on gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles. The automaker plans to release at least 10 “new energy vehicles” in China by 2020 and will open a new battery plant in Shanghai this year through a joint venture with Chinese company SAIC.
Where the money is in the electric vehicle supply chain (Seeking Alpha): The trend toward electrification could mean a change in the value of vehicle component supply chains. Raw materials may be a better investment, according to Laurentian Research, than investments in vehicle assemblage and manufacturing.
The surprising investment opportunities created by electric cars (Quartz): Investors are raising the prices for the raw materials that will be necessary to deliver an anticipated electrification revolution over the next decade. Quartz provides price indices for lithium, cobalt, copper, and other raw materials that go into the manufacture of EVs and lithium-ion batteries.
Here’s how every major automaker plans to go electric (Mashable): Mashable provides a rundown of recent automaker major announcements on EV strategies, listing the manufacturers and their expected EV deployment strategies.
Electric car makers with no infrastructure plan can’t be taken seriously, says analyst (CNBC): A Morgan Stanley analyst argues that automakers must have a “well-defined plan” for charging infrastructure to succeed in the EV market. The analyst frames EV charging as not just a technical problem, but also involves navigating political issues such as working with unions and utilities.
For electric car owners, ‘range anxiety’ gives way to ‘charging time trauma’ (NY Times): As “range anxiety” fades with greater investment in public charging, some EV drivers are now experiencing “time trauma,” the discomfort of waiting for their vehicles to charge. High-powered DC fast chargers may help reduce the time spent at charging stations, but the technology is not prevalent and will likely not be available for years.
Western governors envision electric vehicle corridor (BNA): Seven Western governors pledged to cooperate in planning corridor charging for EVs along their highways. The states will develop an “Intermountain West Electric Vehicle Corridor” across more than 5,000 miles of highway.
|Infrastructure Funding Spotlight
Lawmakers looking at new fees for clean fuel cars, raising prices for express lane use (Deseret News): A Utah state senator plans to introduce legislation in 2018 to implement an annual $225 alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) registration fee or to allow AFV owners to participate in a pilot program that would institute a tax based on miles driven. A separate proposal may also cap free AFV access to HOV lanes, though current AFV owners would retain their access.
The tricks and treats California can use to banish fossil fuel cars (Wired): California may not receive a waiver from the EPA to ban the sale of new gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles, but other policy options may help facilitate a transition to cleaner vehicles. Foreign governments in Norway and China are implementing innovative incentive solutions, and states and cities can adopt and refine such solutions to meet the needs of their own residents.
U.S. Senate panel puts self-driving cars in fast lane (Reuters): The United States Senate’s Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee approved a bill that would speed the process of deploying autonomous vehicles on U.S. roads. The legislation, which passed the House of Representatives unanimously, provides exemptions for safety regulations that require human drivers. The bill would provide a national framework for autonomous vehicle deployment, though some critics argue that the bill infringes on states and cities’ existing authorities.
Emerging best practices for EV charging infrastructure (The International Council on Clean Transportation): This recent report provides a global assessment of charging infrastructure deployment practices, challenges, and emerging best practices in major EV markets. The report finds that public charging is valuable to encouraging EV adoption and that multifaceted and collaborative approaches help the successful buildout of charging infrastructure, though there is no universal benchmark for the number of EVs relative to each public charge point.
Developing hydrogen fueling infrastructure for fuel cell vehicles: A status update (The International Council on Clean Transportation): This recent report provides a synthesis of information regarding the global development of hydrogen FCV fueling infrastructure. The authors conclude that progress on FCV technology may open greater possibilities for low-carbon transportation, but uncertainty about hydrogen production from renewable energy is a challenge for FCV investment. Additionally, the report states that expensive infrastructure investments must be made by industry, though public-private investments may reduce cost burdens.
New reality: Electric trucks and their implications on energy demand (McKinsey): The Energy Insights division of consultancy McKinsey predicts that the electric truck market could grow quickly, up to 15 percent of new global truck sales by 2030. The report identifies three drivers that determine the attractiveness of electric trucks: price parity for total cost of ownership, electrification readiness, and regulations that enable a supportive environment (such as strict emissions targets).
Utilities should charge into electric vehicles (Bloomberg): A report by the Rocky Mountain Institute points to the role of planners and electric utilities in providing public charging as an opportunity to advance EV adoption. The authors argue in “From Gas to Grid” that an EV revolution will be arriving soon, and that proper planning is required to help facilitate the transition and benefit consumers and the electric grid.
Choosing the Electric Avenue: Unlocking Savings, Emissions Reductions, and Community Benefits of Electric Vehicles (Institute for Local Self-Reliance): Two pieces by Clean Technica (Part 1) (Part 2) draw from a report on EV promotional strategies and environmental benefits to share the impacts of an EV revolution. The report by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance shares recent charts and predictions by a range of analysts.
Autonomous and Connected
GM jumps to record after Deutsche Bank says automaker to launch self-driving car fleet as soon as 2020 (CNBC): General Motors plans to launch self-driving vehicles “well ahead of competitors.” The company could start large scale commercial operations as soon as 2020. News of the company’s electrification and autonomous technology strategies sent shares of GM up by more than 4 percent to a record high on Monday.
Driverless Dilemma (Radiolab): Podcast Radiolab addresses the autonomous vehicle market with a philosophical quandary about the value of one human life versus many. The podcast is referring to philosophical choices that automakers and autonomous vehicle technology developers must make for a vehicle—protect the passenger or nearby pedestrians?
Autonomous cars: how safe is safe enough? (Car and Driver): Autonomous driving technologies are expected to be safer and more reliable than human drivers, but consumers may be slow to adapt to the technology. Consumers may not fully understand or embrace the risk reduction that comes with a loss of control.
Self-driving taxies like Uber’s will disrupt public transport networks, study says (CNBC): Researchers from UBS anticipate that ride-hailing services, such as Uber or Lyft, will disrupt use of public transit networks in service today. UBS notes that self-driving taxi services could offer fares at a fraction of the cost of public transit.
Drink-drive rules ‘need updating for an autonomous era’ (BBC News): A report from Australia’s National Transport Commission has recommended revising rules on drinking and driving in fully autonomous vehicles. The report identifies the responsible party as the autonomous driving system, not an impaired human occupant.
Could the ideal electric vehicle be a hybrid? (Greentech Media): In an analysis for the Energy Collective, a clean energy blog, researcher Schalk Cloete claims that all-electric vehicles offer no clear fuel-cost savings and “insignificant” greenhouse gas and tailpipe emissions reductions over gasoline-powered hybrids. The researcher argues that gasoline-powered hybrid technology will improve emissions performance, while the upfront costs of all-electric batteries impacts consumer adoption of EVs.
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Dan Welch, Solutions Fellow | P: 703-717-5504