Friday, February 28, 2020


Less attention has been paid to the development of hydrogen fuelled cars and even less to plans already in place to construct hydrogen economies. THE GENERALIST investigates. Our story begins with the earliest known hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.

1966 GM Electrovan prototype cutaway MOTORTREND [Nov 1, 2016]
           by Frank Markus
In 1966, General Motors Engineering Staff outfitted a forward-control GMC Handivan with a fuel-cell propulsion system. Though fuel cells had been in use since the early 1800s, GM was first to use one in a vehicle. The company had been experimenting with electric vehicles and was looking to combine the electric motor with a longer-range, faster refueling source of electricity.
The Electrovan's remarkably power-dense (for the time) fuel cell supplied a continuous output of about 32 kW that could peak at about 160 kW. It was made up of 32 thin-electrode modules connected in series. The motor and powertrain controller were mounted under and between the front seats. Also under the floor were the 32 fuel cell modules interconnected by some 550 feet of plastic piping. The "fuel" storage was pretty unique: cryogenic hydrogen and oxygen tanks and an electrolyte reservoir mounted behind the middle bench seat. That one contained some 45 gallons of potassium hydroxide that filled the modules, piping, and reservoir. Just the electrolyte weighed 550 pounds; the whole van? A stout 7,100 pounds.

Nevertheless, the Electrovan could hit 70 mph, accelerating to 60 in 30 seconds. Overall range was a pretty impressive 150 miles. Because of safety concerns, the Electovan was only driven under its own power on GM-owned property. Shortly after it was built, tested, and unveiled to the press in 1966, the project was scrapped due to cost concerns. The bill for the platinum in the fuel cell would cover the purchase of a fleet of Handivans, and then as now there was no real viable hydrogen infrastructure in place.

National Hydrogen Energy Vision and Roadmap
In response to recommendations within the National Energy Policy,  the US Department of Energy (DOE) organized a November 2001 meeting of 50 visionary business leaders and policymakers to formulate a National Hydrogen Vision. A National Vision of America’s Transition to a Hydrogen Economy – to 2030 and Beyond was published in February 2002 as a result of the Hydrogen Vision Meeting. This document summarizes the potential role for hydrogen systems in America’s energy future, outlining the shared vision of the market transformation.
In April 2002, DOE followed up with a larger group of over 200 technical experts from industry, academia, and the national laboratories to develop a National Hydrogen Energy Roadmap. This roadmap, released in November 2002, describes the principal challenges to be overcome and recommends paths forward to achieve the vision.

The FreedomCAR partnership

In January 2002, the FreedomCAR Partnership was established as a research and development collaboration between the Department of Energy and the U.S. Council for Automotive Research (USCAR), a partnership formed by Ford Motor Company, Chrysler Corporation, and General Motors Corporation. 
In September 2003, the Partnership was expanded to the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership by bringing the major energy companies (BP America, Chevron Corporation, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil Corporation and Shell Hydrogen) to the group. 
In June 2008, the Partnership was expanded to include two utilities, DTE Energy and Southern California Edison. 
In May 2011, the Partnership was expanded once again to include the Electric Power Research Institute and Tesla Motors and was renamed U.S. DRIVE Partnership (U.S. DRIVE) where DRIVE represents Driving Research and Innovation in Vehicle efficiency and Energy sustainability.

Review of the Research Program of the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership
Third Report (2010) National Academies Press
See also:


President Bush's Hydrogen Fuel Initiative,  January 28th

In his State of the Union speech, President George W. Bush put forth his hydrogen fuel initiative:
"Tonight I am proposing $1.2 billion in research funding so that America can lead the world in developing clean, hydrogen-powered automobiles."
"A simple chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen generates energy, which can be used to power a car producing only water, not exhaust fumes. With a new national commitment, our scientists and engineers will overcome obstacles to taking these cars from laboratory to showroom so that the first car driven by a child born today could be powered by hydrogen, and pollution-free. Join me in this important innovation to make our air significantly cleaner, and our country much less dependent on foreign sources of energy."

President George W. Bush looks over a scooter powered by solid hydrogen fuel during a demonstration of energy technologies at The National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., Thursday, Feb. 6, 2003. "Cars that will run on hydrogen fuel produce only water, not exhaust fumes," said the President in his remarks. "If we develop hydrogen power to its full potential, we can reduce our demand for oil by over 11 million barrels per day by the year 2040." White House photo by Paul Morse. 

Thursday, February 6, 2003

Bush touts benefits of hydrogen fuel

Cites risk in reliance on 'foreign sources' of oil

CNN Report [Extracts]. Full text here

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The United States can change its dependence on foreign oil and "make a tremendous difference" in the world and the environment, President Bush said Thursday as he announced details of a $1.2 billion initiative to make hydrogen fuel competitive for powering vehicles and generating electricity.
"We can change our dependence upon foreign sources of energy. We can help with the quality of the air. We can make a fundamental difference for the future of our children," the president said at the National Building Museum in Washington. "Hydrogen fuel cells represent one of the most encouraging, innovative technologies of our era."
Bush outlined several advantages to hydrogen fuel: that it can be produced from domestic sources, that the sources of hydrogen are abundant and that it's clean to use.
"Cars that will run on hydrogen fuel produce only water, not exhaust fumes," meaning they could dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help America "take the lead when it comes to tackling the long-term challenges of global climate change," he said. 
But the greatest result of using hydrogen power, Bush declared, will be the nation's energy independence.
"It's important for our country to understand, I think most Americans do, that we import over half of our crude oil stocks from abroad. And sometimes we import that oil from countries that don't particularly like us." The president said this dependence is risky.
"To be dependent on energy from volatile regions of the world, our economy becomes subject to price shocks or shortages or disruptions, at one time in our history, cartels. 
If we develop hydrogen power to its fuel potential, we can reduce our demand for oil by over 11 million barrels per day by the year 2040."
Bush vowed he would work with Congress to push hydrogen fuel cell technologies, reiterating the pledge from his State of the Union address that a child born today will be driving a hydrogen, pollution-free vehicle as his or her first car.
Bush outlined several advantages to hydrogen fuel: that it can be produced from domestic sources, that the sources of hydrogen are abundant and that it's clean to use.
"Cars that will run on hydrogen fuel produce only water, not exhaust fumes," meaning they could dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help America "take the lead when it comes to tackling the long-term challenges of global climate change," he said.
But the greatest result of using hydrogen power, Bush declared, will be the nation's energy independence. 
"It's important for our country to understand, I think most Americans do, that we import over half of our crude oil stocks from abroad. And sometimes we import that oil from countries that don't particularly like us." The president said this dependence is risky.
"To be dependent on energy from volatile regions of the world, our economy becomes subject to price shocks or shortages or disruptions, at one time in our history, cartels.    If we develop hydrogen power to its fuel potential, we can reduce our demand for oil by over 11 million barrels per day by the year 2040."
Bush vowed he would work with Congress to push hydrogen fuel cell technologies, reiterating the pledge from his State of the Union address that a child born today will be driving a hydrogen, pollution-free vehicle as his or her first car.

Critics faulted Bush's proposal.

The president's plan, said Daniel Becker, director of the Global Warming and Energy program at the Sierra Club, "serves as a shield" to protect automakers from improving fuel economy, a step he said would reduce the nation's dependence on foreign energy faster than Bush's plan would.
"We look forward to the day 20 years from now when hydrogen-powered cars are widely available. But we can't afford to sit back and wait for that day. We need to do something to address the problem immediately," Becker said.
The president's hydrogen fuel initiative calls for $720 million in new funding over the next five years to develop the technologies and infrastructure to produce, store, and distribute hydrogen for use in fuel cell vehicles and in generating electricity.
Combined with the FreedomCAR (Cooperative Automotive Research) initiative, the White House said, the president is proposing a total of $1.7 billion over the next five years to develop hydrogen-powered fuel cells, hydrogen infrastructure and advanced automotive technologies.
The president's hydrogen fuel initiative seeks to lower the cost of producing hydrogen enough to make fuel-cell cars cost-competitive with conventional gasoline-powered vehicles by the year 2010, according to the administration.

The 2003 invasion of Iraq was the first stage of the Iraq War. 
The invasion phase began on 19 March 2003 (air) and 20 March 2003 (ground) and lasted just over one month.


For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 25, 2003

Hydrogen Economy Fact Sheet
U.S.-EU Summit

Cooperation on the Development of a Hydrogen Economy
 'Hydrogen is the simplest element and most plentiful gas in the universe. Yet hydrogen never occurs by itself in nature, it always combines with other elements such as oxygen and carbon. Once it has been separated, hydrogen is the ultimate clean energy carrier.'
 The U.S. Space Shuttle program relies on hydrogen-powered fuel cells to operate shuttle electrical systems, and the crews drink one of the by-products: pure water. 
Hydrogen is one of the most promising alternatives to hydrocarbon fuels, such as gasoline. Hydrogen can be produced from a wide variety of domestic resources using a number of different technologies. It can also provide a storage medium for intermittent and seasonal renewable technologies, and can be used in combustion processes and fuel cells to provide a broad range of energy services such as lighting, mobility, heating, cooling, and cooking.
On June 25, 2003, the United States and the European Union agreed to collaborate on the acceleration of the development of the hydrogen economy.
Both President Bush and European Commission President Prodi have made the development of a hydrogen economy a major priority.
President Bush's Hydrogen Fuel Initiative, announced on January 28, 2003, envisions the transformation of the nation's transportation fleet from a near-total reliance on petroleum to steadily increasing use of clean-burning hydrogen. 
President Prodi at the European Union June 16-17 High Level Group on Hydrogen and Fuel cells Conference noted that hydrogen now looks like the best candidate to address sustainable development.

U.S.-EU collaboration on the development of a hydrogen economy will provide a strong foundation for the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy (IPHE), announced by the United States in April of this year.
[The International Partnership for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells in the Economy (IPHE), formed in 2003, is an international governmental partnership currently consisting of 19 member countries and the European Commission.They are: Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, European Commission, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Italy, South Korea, Netherlands, Norway, Russian Federation, South Africa, UK, US. On their website you can click on the national flags to see what progress has been made.]

In February 2004, DOE published its Hydrogen Posture Plan, which describes DOE’s “plan for successfully integrating and implementing technology research, development and demonstration activities needed to cost-effectively produce, store and distribute hydrogen for use in fuel cell vehicles and electricity generation. It was updated in fiscal year 2007 to reflect progress and renamed as the Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program Plan in fiscal year 2011. 
President George W. Bush plugs in a hydrogen-fueled car in 2007 
with then-Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally and Vice President Dick Cheney. 
Washington Pool/SIPA/Newscom

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 and Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007
are 'historic pieces of legislation [which] support many of the principles outlined in the National Energy Policy to strengthen our nation's electricity infrastructure, reduce dependence on foreign oil, increase conservation, and expand the use of clean, renewable energy. 
EPACT 2005 focuses partly on hydrogen and  EISA 2007 partly focuses on improved vehicle fuel economy including fuel cells and reflects strong Congressional support for research and development of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. These two Acts make the long-term commitment necessary for a market transformation by authorizing the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Program through 2020 and by requiring coordinated plans and documentation of the Program’s activities.
Source:  Review of the Research Program of the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership
Third Report (2010) National Academies Press
uel Cell Technologies Program Multi-Year Research, Development and Demonstration (MYRDD) Plan - Section 1.0: Introduction


Alternative Fuels Data Center/US Dept of Energy

Gassed up and ready to go  
by Alice Klein (NewScientist/ 8th September 2018)

'Hydrogen-Powered cars have had a bumpy ride. Back in 2003, they were touted as "one of the most encouraging, innovative technologies of our era" by US president at the time George W. Bush. Then the Tesla revolution came along and they were left in the dust by their battery-driven electric rivals. Now, there are signs of a comeback.'
At the moment, there are only about 6000 hydrogen vehicles on the road globally, compared with 2 million electric vehicles.  
A recent survey of more than 900 global automotive executives by consulting firm KPMG found that 52 per cent rated hydrogen fuel cell vehicles as a leading industry trends
Japan has announced plans to put 40,000 hydrogen vehicles on the road in the next five years, and South Korea 16,000.
Germany wants to have 400 refuelling stations for hydrogen vehicles by 2025.
California has already opened 35
The ability to rapidly refuel is one of the main advantages hydrogen vehicles have over their electric counterparts, says Macleod. Filling up a hydrogen car takes about the same time as filling a petrol one, rather than the hours it typically takes to recharge an electric car's battery. You can also go further on a full tank of hydrogen-about 500 kilometres, compared with 300 kilometres for a standard fully charged battery.
Although hydrogen reacts cleanly — the only thing coming out of the exhaust pipe is water —hydrogen vehicles are more energy-intensive than electric ones if you factor in fuel production and transport, says Jake Whitehead at the University of Queensland, Australia.
At the moment, most hydrogen is extracted from natural gas —a fossil fuel. "Green" hydrogen can be made by splitting water using solar or wind power, but this involves multiple steps, each using energy along the way. Whitehead's modelling shows that hydrogen vehicles require between 80 and 100 kilowatt-hours of electricity to travel 100 kilometres, compared with about 20 kilowatt-hours to travel the same distance in a battery vehicle.
Hydrogen cars currently cost about 13 cents per kilometre to run, compared with 8 cents per kilometre for petrol cars. 

The shorter refuelling time and longer range of hydrogen fuel cells make them appealing for taxis, buses and long-haul trucks, Hydrogen fuel cells are already finding applications in these heavy-use vehicles. 

 Amazon has recently invested in hydrogen-powered forklifts for its warehouses.

US manufacturer Nikola Motors, meanwhile, says it has received 11,000 pre-orders for its hydrogen fuel cell truck.


Revamped 2nd generation Toyota Mirai goes on sale at the end of 2020.
The first generation Mirai was launched in Japan in 2014 selling at $60,000. They have since sold 10,000.

Green Tomato - a London-based private hire taxi service with a fleet of Toyota Mirai FCEVs (Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles) is one of the participants in a €26million demonstration project called Zero Emission Fleet vehicles For European Roll-out (ZEFER) which began in September 2017 and will run until September 2022.

The project will deploy 180 FCEVs (Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles) in Paris and Brussels (60 vehicle taxi fleets), and London (50 private hire vehicles and 10 deployed to Metropolitan Police fleets). The vehicles will each complete at least 40,000km, totalling over 1 million km between them using more
than 100 tonnes of hydrogen. Green Tomato claims that running costs of the hydrogen cars are comparable with a Toyota Prius, refueling takes the same time as a conventional petrol or diesel car, and the range is 300 miles (480km) per refill.

In October 2019, 13 hydrogen-powered FCEVs travelled  a combined total of just under 6,000km from Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Norway to converge in Hamburg for a Hydrogen for Clean Transport conference.

This was made possible by following a network of 32 Hydrogen Refuelling Stations (HRS) funded by the pan-European Hydrogen Mobility Europe (H2ME) project, targeted to expand to 49 by 2022. The recently launched shows the location and live status of 137 HRSs, more than half of which are available in Germany.

FCEVs deployed in the H2ME project included: the Toyota Mirai; Symbio’s new generation of the Renault Kangoo Z.E electric van; Honda’s second-generation FCEV; and Daimler’s new-generation Mercedes-BenzGLC F-CELL SUV.

H2ME project partners Audi and BMW announced plans for releasing small series hydrogen vehicles in the coming years. In total, more than 1,400 FCEVs will be deployed by 2022.

There are currently more than 550 hydrogen vehicles for private and business use across the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Scandinavia, and other European countries.

The number of hydrogen refuelling stations is rising, but currently there are only 139 across Europe, including 12 in the UK and 6 in London.

Hydrogen Fleet Exceeds 1.6million km threshold Jonathan Manning/ 20th Jan 2020

Tuesday, February 25, 2020


These are fast-moving disruptive times for the auto industry worldwide. In the mainstream media, electric vehicles are receiving most attention but there is much more to be discovered behind the headlines. It's a complex picture which THE GENERALIST will try and make sense of.

One of the best places to start perhaps is the KPMG Annual Global Automotive Executive Survey, now in its 20th year. KPMG member firms operate in 147 countries and in many fields including accountancy, sustainable investment, financial consultancy. Their top-line mission: to build 'a future where everyone feels included and diversity is embraced'. So how do people working inside the industry feel about the future?. Here's some edited highlights from a section of the report entitled 'The Future of Combustion'.

There will not just be the one and only powertrain technology
Based on country and area of application, multiple drivetrain technologies will co-exist alongside each other – execs globally believe that by 2040 there will be a fairly even split: 

Battery Eelectric Vehicles [BEVs] (30%), Hybrids (25%), Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles [FCEV] (23%) and Internal Combustion Engines [ICEs] (23%). 

Globally Hybrids (71%) and BEVs (71%) are the clear investment focus of  execs. Regionally, Hybrids are remaining the number one investment focus of execs from North America, South America and India & ASEAN. Chinese and Western European execs clearly focus on BEVs. 

Consumers still prefer hybrids and ICEs over fully electric vehicles. Clear favourite for their next car is a hybrid. Consumers from more rural areas clearly prefer ICEs over all other technologies' 

KPMG: 'This distinctly shows that most consumers have significant doubts about the market maturity of complete new alternative technologies' 

 'We have concluded that diesel was technologically never dead, just socially unacceptable....we will see a continuous supply of diesel fuel. Its production is linked directly to the production of gasoline; both originate in the processing of crude oil.

The majority of consumers no longer considers diesel to be a viable option. Globally more than two-thirds of consumers oppose diesel. In China, the leading market of battery electric technology, the disapproval rate was 82%.

'Continuing failure to comply with ecological standards would continue to lower the social acceptance of diesel'.


The future will be a mix of different drivetrain technologies
 The automotive industry is in the middle of a product-driven disruptive period. Driven by industrial policies, as well as society’s increasing ecological awareness, alternative electric powertrains are pushing their way into (mature) automotive markets, currently still with limited success.  

Challenges for e-mobility, such as infrastructure, cost and charging, remain high.
BEVs, FCEVs, full electric hybrids or engines powered by alternative fuels only account for a marginal fraction on today’s roads. Global executives believe that we will see a strong increase in the [their] share...over the next decade. However, in their opinion ICEs will still account for the largest share of cars by 2030 (31%).
 It’s completely understandable that we will have a mix of different drivetrain technologies. [They] will co-exist and complement each other, varying in their respective areas of application, car size, also factoring in industrial policies and dependency on raw materials.
In summary, we believe that the times when the OEM's [Original Equipment Manufacturer] technology strategy exclusively determined the offer in the market are over. Nowadays, regulators, industrial policies, infrastructure and raw material access are driving the agenda.
  KPMG: 'Infrastructure obviously plays a key role in the future success of alternative drivetrain technologies. Today’s gas station infrastructure is very pure, while the “refueling / recharging” infrastructure of tomorrow will be diverse.'
Dutchman ends 'world's longest electric car trip' in Australia
April 7th 2019
Ditchman Wiebe Wakker took just over three years crossing 33 countries in his 95,000 km journey by electric car  - a retrofitted station wagon nicknamed "The Blue Bandit" - from the Netherlands to Australia to prove the viability of such vehicles in tackling climate change.

Following the UK’s announcement that it will ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars from 2035, Macquarie University Professor Graham Town nominates the year Australians will make the switch to all-electric vehicles. 
'Although we’ve been a bit slow off the mark, Australia could ban the sale of new internal combustion engine (ICE) cars from 2030.'That would align us with other countries planning to prohibit petrol and diesel cars in the near future, namely Norway in 2025; Demark, India and Germany in 2030, Britain in 2035; and China and France in 2040.' 
So far there has been no national policy to address the adoption of electric vehicles. However the Federal Government is expected to release a national strategy later this year.

Many Scandinavian governments have supported the uptake of electric vehicles by waiving sales tax on fully electric vehicles and this has resulted in much higher uptake rates.
In Norway, the government is rolling out free charging infrastructure, so the majority of all new vehicles sold are now electric.
Additionally, these and many other countries are electrifying their bus transport systems, with targets to replace petrol and diesel buses by fully electric buses 10 or more years ahead of their targets for light vehicles.
There are currently less than 20,000 fully electric vehicles on the road in Australia, out of a total of about 20 million registered vehicles.
Analysts predict that the purchase price of an electric will be on par with ICEs by about 2025. Given the much cheaper running costs and environmental benefits, most people in the market for a new car are likely to switch then, if not before.
Most states are in the process of rolling out fast-charging infrastructure along main highways to accommodate longer trips and tourism by electric vehicles. For example the Queensland Government is implementing an ‘electric super highway’ charger roll-out plan to enable tourists to do fly-drive holidays using electric vehicles.
Latest News:  The Electric Vehicle Council says 6,718 full electric and hybrid plug-in vehicles were sold in Australia in 2019, up from 2,216 the year before. The Guardian/6th Feb 2020



The fleet of plug-in electric vehicles in Norway is the largest per capita in the world. In March 2014, Norway became the first country where one in every 100 passenger cars on the road was a plug-in electric; the market penetration passed 5% in December 2016, and attained 10% in October 2018. The Norwegian plug-in car segment market share has been the highest in the world for several years, achieving 29.1% in 2016, 39.2% in 2017, 49.1% in 2018 and 55.9% in 2019.

'As a result of the successful policies implemented to promote EV adoption, the stock of electric vehicles in Norway has increased rapidly, resulting in several unintended consequences, and raising several complaints and criticism. These include: high public subsidies as compared to the value of the reduced carbon footprint of electric vehicles; the possibility of traffic congestion in some of Oslo's bus lanes due to the increasing number of electric cars; the loss of revenue for some ferry operators due to the large number of electric cars exempted from payment; and the shortage of parking spaces for owners of conventional cars due to preference to electric cars (although this was actually the intended policy).'

Source; An extensive Wikipedia entry Plug-in electric vehicles in Norway

Refuelling industry looks to Norway for answers on how to evolve 
Archie Hall (Financial Times/ Feb 15 2020)
In Bergen, Norway’s second city, close to one in five cars in are now fully electric                               — the most of any city, anywhere. Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates that 57 per cent of global car sales in 2040 will be electric. Norway crossed that threshold in March.
Norway’s government wants to end sales of fossil fuel-powered cars by 2025 and has waived its heavy taxes on new car purchases for electric vehicles.
 Many multinationals that run petrol stations are visiting  the city to try and see whether the electric car mean the end of the road for roadside refuellers?

'After buying Norway’s largest petrol station network in 2012, Canadian refuelling giant Alimentation Couche-Tard designated Norway its “laboratory” to study that precise question. 

British consultancy Insight Research also offers fuel retailers what it calls Norwegian “retail safaris” where they can pay to tour petrol station sites across Oslo.

A Boston Consulting Group study published last year found that at least a quarter of petrol stations worldwide risk closure by 2035 without significant changes to their business models. Under BCG’s most aggressive scenario, 80 per cent could shut.

In Norway, while charging outlets are increasingly available at petrol stations, the majority of electric vehicle owners use them only monthly, according to the Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association. Day-to-day, most charge at home or at work.

 "We are witnessing a transition from internal combustion engine vehicles to zero-emission vehicles" The transition will take time, says Wang. He calculates that even if close to 100 per cent of Chinese car sales are EVs by 2031, they will still only number around 30 per cent of all cars on roads. 
 -- Yunshi Wang, director of the China Center for Energy and Transportation at the University of California, Davis

China buys more EVs than any other nation. In 2018, 125 million electric cars - 984,000 of which were solely battery-powered - were sold in the country, accounting for more than half of all EVs sold globally.  
 A significant proportion of them were made by BYD Auto, a firm headquartered in Xi'an, China. In 2018, BYD sold nearly 248,000 zero-emissions vehicles globally, outpacing Tesla's sales of roughly 245,000.  The company began in 1995 as a manufacturer of batteries for mobile phones and digital cameras, and has since expanded to produce battery-powered cars, buses and trucks. In July 2018, it launched a fleet of 37 fully electric double decker buses as part of London's public transport system. 
The shift has been driven by a Chinese government goal of reaching 5 million "new-energy" vehicles - including battery electrics, hybrid cars and fuel-cell cars - on China's roads by 2020, when yearly sales of these cars should hit 2 million.'
 Even though the Chinese EV market is already the biggest in the world, EVs still only make up an estimated 4 per cent of total car sales there. 
The world leader is Norway, where last year 46 per cent of cars sold were EVs.  
  • Energy security is also a concern. About 70 per cent of China's crude oil is imported. "China wants to rely mostly on electricity, which it can produce domestically," says Wang. 
  • The Chinese government has been subsidising electric car designs for a decade and has given financial backing to many EV manufacturers. It has also invested in infrastructure for charging the vehicles.
  •  By the end of 2018, China had an estimated 342,000 public charging points - and new residential buildings are required to have somewhere to plug in. In comparison, there are about 67,000 public chargers in the US. 
Source: 'China drives Into the Future' by Donna Lu [ New Scientist/13 July 2019]
Huge government subsidies were introduced in China in 2010 to kick start the EV revolution. Those subsidies are due to run out at the end of 2020, although there has been recent specualtion that a rethink may be possible, Sales of electric vehicles declined for the last six months of 2019 and the latest news is that coronavirus outbreak has caused a most severe downturn in sales of EVs in China which is dragging down the global market. According to Bloomberg News: The virus has brought the broader auto industry to a virtual standstill'.



[Investors Chronicle /Feb 12, 2020]

By Alex Janiaud, Nilushi Karunaratne amd Tom Dines

The UK government has brought forward its intention to end the sale of new combustion engine-powered cars and vans to 2035, fuelling concerns about the future of the automotive industry and the UK’s readiness for the advent of electric vehicles.... the government prepares to withdraw its plug-in car grant in March, which has supported electric car sales growth and provided customers with as much as £3,500 to purchase low-emission vehicles.
Out of the 149,279 cars sold in the UK in January 2020, only 4,054 were battery electric vehicles, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) – although this was up from 1,334 in 2019. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles accounted for 4,788 of car sales, again having increased from 2,268 cars last year.
Diesel and petrol car sales fell 36 per cent and 9.5 per cent, respectively, year on year in January, as part of a broader downward trend in automotive sales, in a sign that the UK’s electric car boom may have relied in part on the government’s grant.
“For the UK market to stand any chance of meeting the extremely challenging 2035 goal, an extensive package of government support is vital,” the SMMT said. It advocated extending grants to all ‘ultra low emission vehicles’, citing negative consequences in other European markets from prematurely removing support “before the market is ready”.

Infrastructure/Charging Points:

A report commissioned by Scottish Power suggests the UK will need 2.6m public charging points by 2050 to meet its net zero target. Slow progress is being made.

According to charging point locator Zap Map, there are more than 30,000 charging connectors spread across almost 11,000 locations. Recent growth has been driven by the installation of faster charging points.

National Grid (NG.) has called on public funding for “ultra-rapid” charge points, capitalising on the proximity between the UK’s main transport corridors and high-voltage transmission network. It has identified 54 motorway service stations that could put 99 per cent of electric vehicle drivers within 50 miles of a charging location.

BP (BP.) acquired Chargemaster in 2018 and had more than 7,000 charging points in the UK at the end of last year. For Tufan Erginbilgic, outgoing chief executive of BP’s downstream business, the ultimate aim is to “closely replicate the current fuelling experience”.

Aside from having enough charging points, a critical question is whether the electricity network can cope with increased demand.

National Grid’s ‘Future Energy Scenarios’ report forecasts that annual electricity demand from road transport could increase from around 1 terrawatt hour (TWh) in 2020 to up to 96 TWh by 2050.

Major schemes to introduce new grid capacity typically take five years of planning and delivery, and thinktank Energy Systems Catapult believes there is a “real risk the uptake of EVs is potentially much faster than the investment cycles within which network operators operate”.

National Grid is confident additional demand can be met through ‘smart charging’ which manages energy consumption. Charging can be deferred from peak times to periods when there is spare capacity and consumers are incentivised with cheaper off-peak power. Regulator Ofgem calculates that flexible charging would enable at least 60 per cent more electric vehicles to be charged, reducing the need for expensive upgrades to network infrastructure.

If the UK is serious about ramping up its electric vehicle infrastructure, it might look to emulate the Netherlands, where Total SA (TTA) was awarded Europe’s largest electric vehicle charging contract to install and operate up to 20,000 new public charging points. 

As the auto sector shifts away from petrol and diesel engines, the manufacturers and infrastructure companies are – understandably – expected to face the bulk of the work in facilitating the shift towards electric vehicles... the sector is facing sharp declines in the number of new car registrations here and now.

The consumption patterns of electric vehicle owners are different from those of traditional drivers, with demand for oil products disappearing and less demand for parts replacements.
 The heavier average weight of electric vehicles, along with higher rates of acceleration, are expected to drive increased demand for tyres.
The service intervals [on an EV] can be around every 25,000 miles, compared with 10,000 miles currently, and batteries have fewer parts than internal combustion engines, meaning fewer things can go wrong.
“It’s going to be significantly longer service intervals, less complexity for things to go wrong. So, there will be a gap to your [aftersales],” he said.

However, this does not mean that electric vehicles will be the government’s favoured automobile option in the long term. Mike Allen of Zeus Capital notes that, at the start of the century, diesel was seen as the environmentally friendly option endorsed by the government, but now faces bans.
“I can fully see a situation where people [who] own electric cars suddenly have to pay more for their electricity to charge up their cars because of the pressures on the national grid, and the government saying you should drive a hydrogen car,” he said.

Saturday, February 15, 2020


THE GENERALIST has written about Green Cars and related issues in two previous posts, which can be read in full here. Earthed: Green Car Guide [Sept 25th 2006] and Earthed: Green Cars 2008 [Nov 8th 2008]. It's interesting to see what progress or not has been made in the last 12-14 years. The most intriguing story is about SUVs.

September 2019: Automakers faced protests at the Frankfurt auto show accusing them of not doing enough to end their reliance on diesel and gasoline engines.. On the eve of the show four pedestrians were struck and killed by an SUV in Berlin, prompting a fierce debate about the "social utility" of these gas-guzzling, tank-like cars.

2006: End of the SUV? 

'Ford has finally predicted the fall of the SUV, a vehicle that has supported the company’s finances for decades. SUV sales have been falling month by month with a speed that Ford’s chief sales analyst describes as “pretty eye-popping”. As consumers abandon SUVs and light trucks in favour of smaller cars, the big three US automakers, General Motors, Ford and Daimler-Chrysler, are having to take a hard look at their own product lines. Ford announced in early June that it would produce 58,000 fewer trucks in the next quarter than it had in the same period last year – but 40,000 more cars. Meanwhile Chrysler’s senior vice-president of sales, Gary Dilts, has told the Washington Post that his company plans to ‘dial up’ the fuel-efficiency message, with TV ads highlighting how many miles per gallon you can get in its more compact cars.As Detroit hits problems, the main beneficiaries of the new trend are the Japanese. Toyota and Honda are seeing their pioneering investments in fuel-efficient compact cars and petrol-electric hybrids start to pay big dividends. Toyota is on the verge of overtaking GM as the world’s largest vehicle manufacturer.'
This information came from Green Car Guide, launched in September 2006 by Paul Clarke as the UK’s original green car news site. Clarke writes:
'Our work has always been driven by the overriding desire to look after the environment, which includes helping with solutions to the issues of climate change and local air pollution, but we also believe that today’s overriding political priority is sustainable development; it is possible for people to like cars and the planet, and so for over 13 years our passion has been to promote cars with the least impact on our environment.
The site is updated monthly. The current section GREEN 4X4S, SUVS AND CROSSOVERS reads in part:
'Our reviews cover electric, plug-in hybrid, hybrid, petrol and diesel 4x4s. Diesel cars are in the headlines for all the wrong reasons at the moment, but usually the most efficient 4x4s that we’ve tested in real life driving are diesels, and the very latest RDE2 diesel engines are as clean as petrol engines for emissions that impact on local air quality, and they have lower CO2.'
'So whatever size and type of 4×4 you want, there should be an efficient one to suit you. But it’s worth remembering that aerodynamics and weight are two of the worst enemies for real-life economy, and 4x4s and SUVs usually have a large frontal area and are heavy, so if you want ultimate efficiency, ask yourself if you really need a 4×4. A crossover estate body style is more aerodynamic, and usually lighter than a full size SUV. It will also be better to drive on the road.' 
 The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) is described by Wikipedia as a right-wing neo-liberal think-tank. Not a source that The Generalist would ordinarily use. However on October 15th 2019, they published an extraordinary paper written by Energy Modellers Laura Cozzi and Apostolos Petropoulos which makes shocking reading.

Buick S.U.V.s at a General Motors plant in eastern China.

Growing preference for SUVs challenges emissions reductions in passenger car market

The background to this story is the rise of electric vehicles and a decline in the sales of comnventional cars. They write:
'Carmakers plan more than 350 electric models by 2025, mostly small-to-medium variants. Plans from the top 20 car manufacturers suggest a tenfold increase in annual electric car sales, to 20 million vehicles a year by 2030, from 2 million in 2018. Starting from a low base, less than 0.5% of the total car stock, this growth in electric vehicles means that nearly 7% of the car fleet will be electric by 2030.'
'Meanwhile, the conventional car market has been showing signs of fatigue, with sales declining in 2018 and 2019, due to slowing economies. Global sales of internal combustion engine (ICE) cars fell by around 2% to under 87 million in 2018, the first drop since the 2008 recession. Data for 2019 points to a continuation of this trend, led by China, where sales in the first half of the year fell nearly 14%, and India where they declined by 10%.
They suggest that: 'These trends have created a narrative of an imminent peak in passenger car oil demand, and related CO2 emissions, and the beginning of the end for the “ICE age.”
 They ask the question: 'As passenger cars consume nearly one-quarter of global oil demand today, does this signal the approaching erosion of a pillar of global oil consumption?

They then reveal the shocking truth: 'A more silent structural change may put this conclusion into question: consumers are buying ever larger and less fuel-efficient cars, known as Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs).'

This dramatic shift towards bigger and heavier cars has led to a doubling of the share of SUVs over the last decade. As a result, there are now over 200 million SUVs around the world, up from about 35 million in 2010, accounting for 60% of the increase in the global car fleet since 2010. Around 40% of annual car sales today are SUVs, compared with less than 20% a decade ago.

 This trend is universal. Today, almost half of all cars sold in the United States and one-third of the cars sold in Europe are SUVs. In China, SUVs are considered symbols of wealth and status. In India, sales are currently lower, but consumer preferences are changing as more and more people can afford SUVs. Similarly, in Africa, the rapid pace of urbanisation and economic development means that demand for premium and luxury vehicles is relatively strong.

The impact of its rise on global emissions is nothing short of surprising. The global fleet of SUVs has seen its emissions growing by nearly 0.55 Gt CO2 during the last decade to roughly 0.7 Gt CO2.

As a consequence, SUVs were the second-largest contributor to the increase in global CO2 emissions since 2010 after the power sector, but ahead of heavy industry (including iron & steel, cement, aluminium), as well as trucks and aviation.

On average, SUVs consume about a quarter more energy than medium-size cars. As a result, global fuel economy worsened caused in part by the rising SUV demand since the beginning of the decade, even though efficiency improvements in smaller cars saved over 2 million barrels a day, and electric cars displaced less than 100,000 barrels a day.

In fact, SUVs were responsible for all of the 3.3 million barrels a day growth in oil demand from passenger cars between 2010 and 2018, while oil use from other type of cars (excluding SUVs) declined slightly. If consumers’ appetite for SUVs continues to grow at a similar pace seen in the last decade, SUVs would add nearly 2 million barrels a day in global oil demand by 2040, offsetting the savings from nearly 150 million electric cars.


In an essay by Julia Poliscanova entitled: 'Mission Possible: How carmakers can reach their 2021 CO2 targets and avoid fines' published in September 2019 on the Transport & Environment website. They are a non-profit politically independent organisation, whose vision is to try and a create a 'zero-emission mobility system that is affordable and has minimal impacts on our health, climate and environment.'
 'Since we were created 30 years ago, T&E has shaped some of Europe’s most important environmental laws. We got the EU to set the world's most ambitious CO2 standards for cars and trucks but also helped uncover the dieselgate scandal; we campaigned successfully to end palm oil diesel; secured a global ban on dirty shipping fuels and the creation of the world's biggest carbon market for aviation - just to name a few. Credibility is our key asset. We are a non-profit organisation and politically independent.

They write that: 
'The EU car CO2 law setting a 95 g/km target for 2020/21 agreed a decade ago was intended to achieve a step change in car emissions crucial to decarbonising transport. But just 16 months before the target comes into force carmakers are less than halfway towards their goals.
The pitiful progress to date has been caused primarily by three factors. Firstly, a failure to significantly improve the CO2 emissions from conventional engined cars by fitting more clean technologies. Secondly, the very limited supply of zero emission and plug-in hybrid models, purposefully constrained by carmakers to keep selling conventional models. Thirdly, a huge growth in sales of SUVs that have leapt from 7% in 2009 to 36% in 2018 and are expected to reach nearly 40% by 2021.

On average, SUVs have CO2 emissions 16 g/km (or 14%) higher than an equivalent hatchback model, and for every 1% shift in the market to more SUVs, the CO2 emissions increase by 0.15 gCO2/km on average. 

In other words, the increase in SUVs since 2013 has had a CO2 effect 10 times more than the diesel decline. In reality, carmakers’ performance is even more disappointing since half of the emissions reductions since 2008 happened through manipulation of the official laboratory tests.

'Are SUVs sabotaging the green transport revolution?'
[UK Energy Research Centre/09 Dec 2019

Professor Jillian Anable, UKERC Co-Director said:
“The rapid uptake of unnecessarily large and energy consuming vehicles just in the past few years makes a mockery of UK policy efforts towards the ‘Road to Zero’.
Effectively, we have been sleep-walking into the issue. The decarbonisation of the passenger car market can no longer rely on a distant target to stop the sales of conventional engines. We must start to phase out the most polluting vehicles immediately.
It is time to enact a strong set of regulations to transform the entire car market towards ultra low carbon rather than focusing solely on the uptake of electric vehicles.”
Dr Christian Brand, UKERC Co-Director said:
“There is now overwhelming consensus that achieving net-zero requires the phase out of fossil-fuelled vehicles to be brought forward to 2030 and this must include hybrids. 
At the same time government should take action to counter ‘unintended consequences’ such as the recent trend in the UK to buy larger, heavier cars such as SUVs. This trend is global so will require policy and industry action across all global markets including the US, EU and China.”
                     SUVs are way worse for the planet than anyone previously thought                                    by Matt Reynolds (Wired / 6 December 2019)

David Bailey, professor of business economics at Birmingham University’s Business School. 
“Electrifying bigger crossover [SUVs] is much more difficult so you’re more likely to see [electrification] in small, compact crossovers,” says Bailey. Until now, the car industry has focused on electrifying smaller passenger cars which are easier to convert and are more attractive to environmentally-minded consumers. 
But that could be about to change. Bailey says that more compact – and therefore more fuel efficient – SUVs are starting to win out over their beefier brethren. In 2019, sales of midsized SUVs declined by 8.2 per cent while small SUVs and crossovers continued to grow by 13 per cent in the first half of the year. Among the most expensive SUVs, sales of large models were down two per cent while the compact segment was more than filling the gap, growing by 18 per cent in the same period.
“The bubble has burst for big and medium-sized SUVs. The growth is going to be in small, compact crossovers” says Bailey.