Electric Vehicles /Lithium

American vehicles make up only 30% of the cars in use globally, they are responsible for almost half of the GHGs emitted by vehicles. In the U.S. alone, autos emit more than 333 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) each year, while consuming about 44% of oil use. Of roughly 250 million vehicles on US roads, about 55% are classified as automobiles: 92% of US households own at least one car. In Britain, a report by the Royal Academy of Engineering lays out the reality of turning some of Britain's 30 million cars electric in coming decades. They conclude that the challenges are do-able but also pretty daunting.  link  (in the European Union in 2011 cars emitted an average of 135.7 grams of CO2 per kilometer. By 2015 the target is 130 grams and by 2020 95 grams.) 

Since 2010, increasing numbers of electric vehicles, including buses and commercial vehicles, are being phased into transport plans around the world..While some manufacturers explore fuel cell technology, the emphasis will be on electric/hybrid for the coming decade as we transition away from petroleum as a source of energy. However battery-powered vehicles are forecast to make up less than 2.5% of the world's fleet in 2015. The automotive trade journal Ward's Auto  estimated that the total number of vehicles on the road crossed 1 billion sometime during 2010. An industry analyst has calculated that the total vehicle number mid-2014 is 1.2 billion.
with 98% gas powered contributing 40% of the planet's greenhouse gases.
October 2016. Environmentalists will have unprecedented choices as the number of battery-only and hybrid plug-ins grows to 33 in 2017 from just three in 2011, according to the Consumer Federation of America. link  (October 2016) The number of plug-in electric cars on the world’s roads is set to pass the landmark of 2m vehicles by the end of 2016, with industry observers saying the electric car revolution is finally underway. link
It’s looking like the 2020s will be the decade of the electric car. link

Lessons from four EV hotspots in United States editorial  -  August 2012 
EV Updates -

  • Overview of the electric car market
  • Tesla & Ford - likely leaders in mass production
  • Battery charging advances
  • Batteries and the role lithium plays & other technology
  • The role being played by Asia
  • Commercial vehicles & buses
  • Selection of electric models 
  • Diesel and the diesel deception in Europe.
  • Hydrogen fuel-cell development

Overview of the electric car market

February 2016: Electric cars will be cheaper to own than conventional cars by 2022. An analysis published by BNEF on Thursday predicts that the total cost of ownership, combining purchase price and running costs of battery-only cars will dip below those with internal combustion engines in 2022, even if the conventional cars improve their fuel efficiency by 3.5% a year. link

How do electric cars work? (2016) Within a few years, the total amount of all-electric car models has gone from a select, expensive few to well more than a dozen, with most major brands and a handful of new companies throwing their best technologies and innovations into these models. As the technology is constantly changing to create cars that are better for consumers, there's been a great deal of mixed messaging about their safety, ‘greenness’, and convenience. While there's a lot to consider when buying a car, electric cars are far more convenient today than may people realize. To fully understand them, one must start with considering how electric cars work. More reading
Timeline history of the electric car  from 1832 - link

April 2016: Can Tesla lead to an EV revolution in time? Current transportation emissions, on a global scale, were 6.7 billion tons of CO2 in 2010, or about 23% of all global greenhouse gas emissions related to the use of energy, and projected to be 12 billion per year in 2050, barring major policy shifts. The majority of that was for road-based transportation, though the figure also includes shipping, aircraft, rail, and other sources. (In the United States, transportation makes up about 25% of emissions.) With Tesla’s very aggressive target of 500,000 vehicles a year by 2020, it would still represent only about .5% of global light-duty vehicle sales. However if Tesla ends up driving the rest of the auto industry to change and make more electric cars, that’s another matter. Bloomberg New Energy Finance, for instance, thinks electric vehicles sales will be less than 5% of total vehicle sales globally until about 2022, when battery technology becomes cheap enough to really, really compete. This means that it’s around 2040 that the numbers really get impressive, in that year, 35% of new cars sold could be EVs, the group thinks, and they could comprise about 25% of the global auto fleet. link

February 2014: Electric vehicles gaining foothold. Worldwide production of all-electric and plug-in vehicles is expected to rise 67% in 2014 to 403,000 vehicles, up from 242,000 in 2013 according to market research firm IHS Automotive. In 2013 96,000 EVs were sold in the US. Thanks to competition, battery prices are dropping rapidly - the most costly component of EVs.  link
October 2013: Electric car sales surge in US in 2013 as “range anxiety” fades.   link

September 2013: How much CO2 are electric cars responsible for? A map showing where electric car charging ends up using the most low-carbon electricity is linked here. Each country has a number attached to it, which is the number of grams of CO2 equivalent per kilometer. This means how much CO2 is emitted per kilometer traveled. It takes into account vehicle manufacturing carbon emissions as well, though that number is held constant in each country. The lowest numbers are Iceland, Paraguay, Uruguay, Norway, Sweden, France, and Switzerland. The worst countries with the most carbon-intensive fuel mixes are, unfortunately, a lot of high-population countries with high coal and oil consumption. India leads this pack. link 

March 2013: Hybrid solutions for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.  Several companies participating in the Energy Department's National Cleran Fleets Partnership are working to expand the number of hybrid trucks in their fleets.  Medium-duty delivery vehicles with hybrid technology can achieve up to 36% higher fuel economy than their conventional counterparts. link  (Fleet member General Electric has committed to convert half of their global vehicle fleet, and will partner with fleet customers to deploy a total of 25,000 electric vehicles by 2015.)

May 2012: Strong sales for electric two-wheel vehicles. Nearly 382 million electric two-wheelers will be sold in Asia Pacific through 2018. Two-wheel vehicles, including scooters, motorcycles, and bicycles are a very popular mode of transport in China, India and most south-east Asia nations.  According to a new report by Pike Research, annual sales of electric two-wheel vehicles will reach 65.5 million units resulting in a cumulative 382 million sales by 2018. Close to 92% of sales will be in China. link

Plug In America is an advocacy group for electric vehicles.

Tesla & Ford - likely leaders in mass production

Time to look more closely at Tesla, and Elon Musk. 
Over the course of several years, Tesla sold about 2,400 Roadster sports cars
April 3 2016: Tesla Model 3 orders top 250,000 in first 36 hours. - link
October 2014: Tesla on track to sell 50,000th Model S - link
Tesla's supercharger network - link
These numbers are not large
for a big carmaker -- Toyota sells more Camrys in a month than Tesla plans to sell in a year. Still, for an automotive startup, they seem heroic. Tesla's Model S presents a confusing test case. It's a stylish, high-performance car, with a battery pack that gives it greater range (between 160 and 300 miles before recharging, depending on the model) than any other electric car. And EVs like Tesla's seem to be evolving at an astonishing rate. If batteries get 50% better, it will put EVs on an even playing field with gas cars. Between the time Tesla produced the Roadster and Model S, the batteries have improved by about 40%. And Tesla does not advertise, does not give discounts, and has never given any test-drives. link  (Tesla's $465 million in federal loans was paid back in full, nine years early.)
Tesla shows off a 90-second battery swap system; wants it at supercharging stations by December 2012 - link
  (August 2013) Tesla looking at major expansion - link 
June  2014:Tesla helping advance electric vehicle technology. Electric carmaker Tesla Motors is handing over the keys to its technology in an unusual effort to encourage other automakers to expand beyond gasoline-burning vehicles. link  
(December 2014) Elon Musk’s so-called gigafactory may soon become an existential threat to the 100-year-old utility business model - link

Tesla may be the company that makes the breakthrough on electric cars for the masses. In one way, it is not a car-maker in the traditional sense, but more like a company such as Apple - starting from scratch, with a product not based on conventional gas-engine vehicles, different completely from the Nissan Leaf or Volt. There have been huge risks, but staying with a plan that required first the expensive roadster to provide funding, it is coming closer to reality. As batteries become cheaper, transition time for electric vehicles is getting within sight.

May 2015: Dyson could become the next Tesla motors as it develops a new electric car, according to a leading industry expert. Filed patents show the Dyson vehicle may use solid-state batteries, which would see the car’s range stretch to hundreds of miles and also be safer than current batteries. link        _________________________________________________

October 2012: 100 mpg Ford hybrid announced. Ford is poised to roll out the C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid utility vehicle that can travel up to 620 miles powered only by its lithium-ion battery and one tank of gas. The C-MAX Energi is also America’s most fuel efficient plug-in hybrid. The EPA certifies the C-MAX Energi for 108 mpg equivalent in city driving and 92 MPGe on the highway, for a 100 MPGe combined rating. link
Ford, with the Focus model, will quite possibly lead the breakthrough in acceptance of electric vehicles, challenging the Nissan Leaf. (For other challengers in the market, see "Selection" lower down.)  

December 2015: Ford accelerates EV transition with $4.5bn investment. Ford is ploughing $4.5bn into electric vehicle (EV) solutions and extensions through to 2020, in an enhanced investment programme that will see 13 new EV models added to the US carmaker's portfolio. The investment - Ford’s largest ever over a five-year period - will see more than 40% of the company’s global new number plates attached to EV cars. Ford's new Focus Electric, one of the 13 new models, will deliver an 80% battery charge in around 30 minutes with a projected 100-mile range. Earlier 2015, the company announced that its European factories will have cut energy consumption by 25% in 2016 compared with 2011. link

Battery charging advances

And further into the future, lithium air batteries.

July 2015: Battery storage and lithium supply update. Lithium supply and demand dynamics over the next few years, 2015 suggests a possible supply of 300,000 tons and a possible demand of 480,000 tons. (Bloomberg)  With a 7-10% annual growth for demand there would not be enough lithium as projects stand right now. However, there are more than 13 million tons of lithium reserves, plenty to satisfy our growing need, but the problem is extraction: it takes lots of time and, in some cases, lots of money. link

March 2015: Batteries get cheaper and more efficient. Next-generation hybrid cars combining electric and gas power in new ways are emerging as a low-cost alternative for consumers as batteries get cheaper and more efficient. Battery packs for electric vehicles, loaded with lithium-ion cells, now cost around $496 a kilowatt-hour, a 60% drop from 2010. That could plunge to $175 within five years. link

April 2015: Electric car batteries just hit a key price point.  Electric vehicle demand in the past five years has soared in the USA. The same is true worldwide. By the end of 2014, more than 700,000 plug-in vehicles had been sold worldwide, up from about 400,000 at the end of 2013, and now dozens of models of electric cars and vans are available, mostly in Europe, the U.S., Japan, and China. A major reason for the rapid jump in EV sales is the rapid drop in the cost of their key component, batteries. The energy stored in a battery is measured by kilowatt-hour (kWh). link  
August 2016: Public electric vehicle (EV) charge points will outnumber petrol stations in the UK by 2020, marking a potential tipping point in the adoption of zero emission vehicles. link

October 2012: Single charging system agreed by manufacturers link

February 2013: Estonia installs “world’s first” nationwide fast-charging network. Estonia has become what is thought to be the world's first country to launch a nationwide fast-charging network with 165 web-connected direct current chargers can recharge an electric vehicle in just 15 to 30 minutes.  link 

Batteries and the role lithium plays / technology

April 2016: The hunt for lithium is on. Demand for lithium - the hottest commodity on the planet and the only commodity to show positive price movement in 2015 - is poised to continue on its upward trajectory, becoming the world's new gasoline and earning the moniker of "White Petroleum”. The lithium that is currently being mined quite simply is not enough to put a dent in the projected demand dictated by our hunger for consumer electronics and the pending energy revolution. This means that the new market is all about new players. Right now, most of the world's lithium comes from Australia, China and the "Lithium Triangle" of Argentina, Chile and Bolivia. In North America, Nevada is the only player in this game, but more to the point, the U.S. state has the best lithium there is to have-lithium found in the brine. Within the Lithium Triangle, it's all about Argentina right now. Chile is not granting any new concessions, and opposition in Bolivia has led to a suspension of lithium mining. Argentina has recently announced a deal with creditors to repay debt stemming from the country's 2001-2002 default, paving the way for Argentina's return to global financial markets.

For the electric vehicle industry alone, Goldman Sachs predicts that for every 1% rise in EV market share, lithium demand will rise by 70,000 tons per year. Furthermore, Goldman Sachs predicts that the lithium market could triple in size by 2025 just on the back of electric vehicles. And the Argentina lithium rush is already in full swing, with miners eyeing resources of up to 128 million tons of lithium carbonate. link   June 2015: Is there enough lithium to maintain the growth of the lithium-ion battery market? link   

Lithium Batteries. In order to mine the resource from the salt flat, technicians need to get a brine to the surface, where it is evaporated in pools to expose the lithium. Half of the world's known lithium reserves lie in a remote salt flat in the southern Andean plane of Bolivia which is not a country known to be friendly to foreign businesses. Accounting for an estimated reserve of 5.4 million tons, the Salar De Uyuni salt fields - predicted to become the Saudi Arabia of lithium - is being eyed by the world’s largest auto companies. Compared with lithium reserves of 3 million tons in Chile, 1.1 million in China and just 410,000 in the United States, the Bolivian reserve indicates the leverage Bolivian President Evo Morales has.

August 2016: Can Bolivia capitalize on huge lithium, reserves? Bolivia should be in a great position to take advantage of the lithium boom: the country holds the world’s largest identified reserves, but it first has several issues to overcome with a rudimentary infrastructure, a challenging regulatory environment and doubts around the security of investments in the land-locked nation area likely to continue posing obstacles to investors. Bolivia, one of the poorest countries in Latin America, has began shipping lithium to China in what is considered the first step towards fulfilling its ambitions to becoming the world’s No. 1 exporter of the commodity, used in high tech devices such as smart phones and electric cars, as well as in the pharmaceutical industry. The first 10 tonnes of lithium carbonate were extracted from a pilot plant at the country’s salt flats, located in the southwestern region of Uyuni.  link

July 2014: Breakthrough in lithium battery design. A team of Stanford University researchers, including former Energy Secretary Steven Chu, believes it has achieved the "holy grail" of lithium battery design: an anode of pure lithium that could boost the range of an electric car to 300 miles. The lithium in a lithium-ion battery today is found in the electrolyte. The electrons in the electrolyte flow to the anode during recharging, and if the anode were also made of lithium, the battery would be able to generate much more power and weigh much less. Until now, however, lithium anodes have been unusable, but the Stanford team thinks it has solved these problems.  link

July 2012: U.S. seeks return to lithium leadership. Two plants in North Carolina and Nevada are the beneficiaries of the Obama Administration's quest to reclaim a leadership position in lithium manufacturing, a key component of electric vehicle batteries and consumer electronics. The US was a leader in lithium production during the 1990s, but it now imports the majority from sources in South America, just as demand for lithium has risen rapidly. link

March 2010: The lithium chase. About 60 mining companies have begun feasibility studies in Argentina, Serbia and Nevada that could lead to more than $1 billion in new lithium projects in the next several years, while dozens of smaller projects are being proposed in China, Finland, Mexico and Canada. The four biggest current producers, which mine and otherwise gather lithium in Chile, Argentina and Australia, say they are planning to expand long-running projects as future demand warrants. link  

June 2010: Nanotubes expand lithium battery prospects. A lithium-ion battery with a positive electrode made of carbon nanotubes delivers 10 times more power than a conventional battery and can store five times more energy than a conventional ultracapacitor. The nanotube battery technology, developed by researchers at MIT and licensed to an undisclosed battery company, could lead to batteries that improve heavy-duty hybrid vehicles and allow faster recharging for electronic gadgets, including smartphones. link

The role being played by Asia

September 2016: China to boost electric car sales ten-fold. China understands the electric revolution better than any other country. The government is aiming at a more than 1,000% increase in sales of electric vehicles by 2025, some 3 million units a year, offering subsidies that can total 60% of an electric-car’s sticker price.  link

February 2016: Chinese market electrifying for green vehicles. Government subsidies are fueling a boom in electric vehicles in China, driving hopes for the industry’s global future as the world’s biggest car market offers economies of scale that could make the technology mainstream. Sales of electric cars, though still modest, have rocketed four-fold in a year thanks in part to lavish government handouts, as Beijing looks to cut down on dangerous air pollution that shrouds urban areas. The government says it wants five million “green” vehicles on the road by 2020 in the country of more than one billion people. link

August 2015: An Asian alternative to Elon Musk’s approach. Developing countries in Asia are steering along their own path on electric vehicles. There they see a market for two- and three-wheelers that is ripe for the picking. One Japanese auto company, is positioning itself as the Tesla Motors of the developing world. Toru Tokushige, founder and CEO at Terra Motors Corp said last year. "Our long-term goal is to create a company with rapid growth, beyond the growth of Samsung and Apple, Our short-term goal is to take the lead in the Asian market just as Tesla has positioned itself as a leader in the electric automotive industry."  link

September 2009: China is now the largest global auto market. A report by McKinsey & Co predicts the Chinese electric vehicle market to be worth up to $220 billion by 2030. The government is adding fuel to the fire by offering local governments and taxi fleets up to $8,800 in subsidies for every electric or hybrid vehicle. Electric charging stations will soon be constructed in Beijing, Shanghai, and Tiajin. Even if powered by electricity generated from coal, electric cars will decrease carbon emissions by 19% and reduce urban air pollution.  First time car owners comprise 80% of the market.   link

Commercial vehicles & buses

Electric buses
September 2016: New
Proterra electric bus can drive 350 miles on one charge. Proterra’s newest bus is set to hit the streets next year. In August this bus logged 600 miles on a Michelin track on one charge. Electric buses save money on fuel and maintenance, and some cities qualify for pro-electrification local and federal subsidies. That takes the sting out of the Catalyst E2 Series’ $799,000 base price. (A conventional diesel bus can go for as low as $300,000.) link

May 2016: Battery electric – the next generation of buses. Proterra is the leading U.S. electric bus company. Their 40-foot electric buses have fuel efficiency equivalent to 22 miles per gallon, giving them one-fifth to one-fourth of the per-mile fueling cost of regular diesels, hybrids, and natural gas buses. And they have much lower maintenance costs. So over the 10- to 12-year lifetime of a typical urban transport bus, the Proterra can save $400,000 in total operational costs compared to a typical diesel. “Right now, the biggest question isn’t which technology will win in the bus market, it’s how quickly all-electrics will take over,” says Ryan Popple, CEO of Proterra.  link

February 2015: First 200-mile electric bus unveiled. Industry pioneer BYD Motors recently unveiled the first long-range battery-electric bus, the BYD C9, at the United Motorcoach Association Expo in New Orleans. The +190-miles range of the C9 puts BYD’s new offering in a category all its own as far as electric buses go, extending the potential uses of such buses far beyond immediate urban environments. link   More about electric buses    

July 2014: Bus fleets are going electric. Thanks to recent technological advancements electric buses are now a viable option. And it isn’t just environmental sustainability that’s so appealing - electric buses also make sense from an economic perspective. Proterra, the maker of a 77-passenger all-electric bus, says that the battery-run bus can operate continuously for 24 hours. Fully charged, the bus can run for three hours, and stops along its route to recharge while passengers load and unload. Cities around the world are turning to the quiet, emissions-free buses to meet their growing transit demands. Here in the U.S., Reno, Nevada recently introduced four new electric buses to its fleet, which includes 18 hybrid-diesel electric vehicles. A spokesman for the city’s Regional Transportation Commission told the Reno Gazette-Journal that the buses, which are also in use in Stockton and Pomona, California, offer “the lowest carbon footprint of any bus on the road … [and] have a life cycle of 16 years, versus 12 years for a traditional bus.” In Worcester, Massachusetts, six Proterra electric buses will each emit 130 fewer tons of CO2 emissions per year, compared to the diesel alternative, and will reduce operating costs by $3 million over a 12-year span. link

Commercial vehicles.
March 2016: A focus to greener trucks and busesHeavy-duty models are undergoing rapid innovation for applications like battery-powered city buses, delivery trucks, freight loaders, and ferries. Experts say that these electric workhorses can play an important role in decarbonizing transport, and could spin off technologies that benefit electric cars, a far larger  and more important  market. Tesla co-founder, In Wright, is now working to electrify commercial vehicles.   link
Smith Electric Vehicles, a British company, is the world's largest manufacturer of electric commercial vehicles and they've just made the world's largest electric road vehicle. link  Ford is working with Smith Electric Vehicles to market a pure battery electric-powered light commercial vehicle in North America, based on the all-new Transit Connect global commercial vehicle platform. Since 1920, Smith has converted tens of thousands of vehicles to battery electric power.   (Smith expands in US market - link)  Medium and heavy duty trucks only make up 4% of road traffic in the U.S. but suck up 22% of US oil transport demand - link

Selection of electric models

September 2016: Renault claims Zoe has longest range of any mainstream electric car. The latest model’s 250-mile range will help ‘psychological barriers’ in drivers who fear running out of power, carmaker claims.  link

June 2016: Volkswagen plans to launch 30 all-electric models to reposition itself as a leader in "green" transport .and by 2025, all-electric cars would account for about 20-25% of the German carmaker's annual sales. The group  intends to launch more than 30 purely battery-powered electric vehicles over the next ten years. link

September 2016: Chevrolet’s Volt and Bolt cars. Sometime during the last three months of 2016, the first 2017 Chevrolet Bolt will be delivered. The 200-mile electric car, base-priced at $37,500 before incentives, will be the first car in the world with those specifications. And it will bring battery-electric vehicles with ranges of 200 miles or more into the mass market well ahead of the promised Tesla Model 3. But plug-in hybrids have proven very hard to explain to car shoppers, who "get" that battery-electric cars run only on battery power and hybrids run only on gasoline but get better gas mileage than regular cars. So with the Bolt EV offering 200 miles combined of all-electric travel, at a price only $3,000 or so higher, where exactly does that leave the Volt? It's worth noting that in the Volt's best sales years, 2012 and 2013, it sold around 23,000 units a year. link

New Nissan Leaf unveiled 
August 2009
 - Nissan announces the long-awaited zero-emission cars being developed with Renault. Designed as a four-to-five seat, front-drive C-segment hatchback, Nissan says the Leaf is not just for use as a specialty urban runabout, but an everyday vehicle with a range that meets the needs of 70% of the world's motorists. In the case of U.S. consumers, Nissan says that fully 80% of drivers travel less than 62 miles per day. link  
Established in 1999, the Renault-Nissan Alliance aims to be the global leader in zero-emission mobility. Nissan took out $1.6 billion in loans from the U.S. Department of Energy to revamp its factory in Smyrna, Tenn., for Leaf production. November 2013: Leaf sales rising. Nissan says its electric Leaf is now profitable, and they are ramping up US production. There are 34,000 Leafs on US roads today and 75,000 worldwide. link

February 2013: VW to unveil 261 mpg electric car. Volkswagen plans to unveil its 261 mpg XL1 plug-in hybrid, a two-seat sports machine, at the Geneva auto show on March 5. The vehicle can travel up to 31 miles on electric power. Under full power,  After an initial production run of 50 vehicles, VW says it will adjust further production plans according to demand. link 
(Update -  June 2014: The XL-1 diesel-electric plug-in hybrid can travel from New York to Washington DC on just one gallon of gas, while emitting a tiny fraction of the greenhouse gases of the average US car. It spews out 34 grams of carbon for every mile driven, compared to 340 grams for a conventional car. The car is now at car dealers in Germany and Austria, but only in a limited edition run of 250 vehicles. About 50 have sold so far for a pricey $150,000. link)    Magazine's test, it averaged "only" around 160 mpg -  link

What's it like to live with an electric Mini? After 6 months driving an all-electric mini, a British businessman reports on what life is like with an all-electric car. link 

Diesel and the  diesel deception in Europe

The diesel deception in Europe. (September 2015) The technical problem is that carmakers are being told to reconcile several different environmental ambitions. To sell a car means an increase fuel economy, but reducing CO2 emissions to avoid global warming leads to NO2 exhaust gases which poison people. It is chemically nearly impossible to do it all. Improve one and you will probably make another worse. European governments have prioritised a reduction in climate emissions and incentivised the diesel industry with lower tax thresholds and fuel prices for cars that emit significantly less CO2. The result is that millions of people have bought diesels believing the industry and government hype that they are better for the planet than petrol cars. But the cruellest thing the industry did was to lobby the European commission and national governments to weaken and delay the adoption of tighter emission tests. More stringent diesel rules, called Euro 6, were proposed eight years ago and are meant to ensure that all European cars are tested in road rather than laboratory conditions. But carmakers, backed by governments, have made sure these new tests will not come into force until 2017 at the earliest.link   (Jan. 2016 - VW faces billions of dollars in penalties from U.S. lawsuit - link)  (July 2016) Scandal just got worse for VW. Attorneys general for New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland announced Tuesday they are suing the company for fraud - link
Update - VW CEO told about emissions crisis a year before admitting to cheat scandal - link

July 2015: Pollution benefits of diesel challenged. Carbon emissions aren't the main problem when comparing diesel with petrol. Air pollution caused by diesel engines is, for now, a peculiarly European problem. About half of all cars currently sold in Europe are diesel powered. Of the 70 million cars sold worldwide last year, only 10 million were diesel. Three quarters of those were sold in Europe. link

February 2016: Diesel ‘worse than petrol’ for the climate. Environmental group, Green Budget Europe (GBE), says that after including the global warming caused by black carbon from diesel engines, cars that use the fuel do more harm to the climate than petrol-driven vehicles. Diesel’s share of new car sales in Western Europe rose from 15% during the early 1990s to more than half in recent years, because of reduced taxes and lower air pollution standards for diesel fuel and diesel cars. GBE says the constant improvement in petrol engines is one factor explaining why diesel cars now have a worse climate record than petrol cars. link

Hydrogen fuel-cell development

Fuel cell vehicles are basically electric vehicles that use hydrogen tanks rather than batteries for energy storage. With current technology, fuel cell cars tend to have greater range than pure electric cars. Hydrogen tanks are lighter than big battery packs and take much less time to fill. However, electric cars have the advantage of an existing charging infrastructure - a hydrogen station infrastructure has yet to be built.  Sept. 15 2009: Hydrogen-powered vehicles are slowly gaining traction, first with an announcement last week that auto companies are spending billions on fuel cell vehicles, and now with news that Germany is planning with to launch a countrywide hydrogen fueling network by 2015. A total of eight companies are working to bring the fueling network to fruition. link

November 2015: Hydrogen cars to take British roads. Billed for the last decade as a clean alternative to petrol or electric vehicles, hydrogen cars are no longer a car show concept but a driving reality. The challenge for manufacturers now is wide scale adoption. Hyundai or Toyota have not sold a single car to an individual consumer. That might be partly explained by the fact that even after an EU-funded 15,000 grant, these first hydrogen cars cost around twice as much as most of the electric cars they are competing against as a clean alternative to diesel and petrol. link

July 2015: Toyota, Nissan and Honda combine for fuel cell expansion. The three Japanese automakers agreed on key details regarding a new joint support project for the development of hydrogen fueling station infrastructure in Japan. The companies pledged up to $90,000 per station to cover construction and operating costs. link

May 2015: Toyota’s $57,500 hydrogen car. The Toyota Mirai, first mass-market car to run off hydrogen, has quickly become a powerful force in the battle for tomorrow’s roads. The four-seater can drive farther and refuel faster than any electric car a driver can buy. But the world’s biggest car company is placing a massively risky bet on hydrogen. Rival automakers have repeatedly tried and abandoned this technology as unrealistic and doomed to fail. Elon Musk says: “If you’re going to pick an energy source mechanism, hydrogen is an incredibly dumb one to pick.” link  

January 2015: Toyota releases hydrogen fuel-cell patents. Toyota will make more than 5,600 patents on fuel-cell technologies available for use, free of royalty payments, to a wide array of companies in the transportation sector. Those patents include many granted for innovations that led to the production version of the Japanese maker's first hydrogen vehicle, the 2016 Toyota Mirai. link

September 2013: Progress on hydrogen fuel-cell cars. Hyundai will become the world’s first car company to mass produce hydrogen fuel cell cars according to a company report. The Korean car maker plans to manufacture 1,000 of the SUV-based fuel cell cars and by 2020, Hyundai plans to up the target to around 100,000. link

Hydrogen fuel-cells not a solution for USA:
May 2009 Fuel cells have been touted by politicians and people from the industry for many years. However the Department of Energy's proposed budget boosts research on energy efficiency and renewable energy sources but makes cuts in hydrogen fuel cell vehicles because the technology is many years from being practical.
Energy Secretary Chu said: "We asked ourselves, 'Is it likely in the next 10 or 15, 20 years that we will convert to a hydrogen car economy?' The answer, we felt, was "no."  

An in-depth comparison of the costs of fuel-cells versus electric  - here 
Links to other alternative fuels: biodiesel  hydrogen  natural gas  electricity  propane   ethanol
supplied by the Department of Energy.
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