September 2017: Why switching to all-electric cars will take time. There is no question that the car industry is undergoing a radical change. Car makers are not saying they will get rid of diesel or petrol cars completely. They are simply promising to make electrified versions of them available. It is also important to recognise what "electrified" actually means. It can refer to fully electric battery powered vehicles(such as the Tesla), but it can also be used to describe hybrids - and hybrids come in many forms. Although manufacturers’ pledges may sound a bit more dramatic than they really are, it is true that carmakers are investing a great deal of money in new electric models. Clearly, if millions of petrol and diesel cars are to be replaced by electric versions, then a huge investment will be needed in charging infrastructure. They will also need batteries - a lot of batteries. Meanwhile, hybrid cars offer a convenient and effective stop-gap. As BMW's chief executive Harald Krueger puts it, petrol and diesel cars "are not dead yet. You will see a transition time, with investments in combustion engines - petrol engines, diesel engines, very efficient engines." link


Latest news:

Nov. 21 2017: The electric car as an energy storage system.  Electric cars are, in effect, energy storage devices, and because they spend much of their time parked up not doing anything they can help smooth out the peaks and troughs in energy demand. The system is called Vehicle to Grid, or V2G. Nissan is developing it in partnership with an Italian power firm, and is already operating a small trial hub in Denmark. link


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

Overview of the electric car market

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  
lt's looking like the 2020s will be the decade of the electric carlink
March 2017: The number of electric vehicles on the road rocketed to 2 million in 2016 after being virtually non-existent just five years before, according to the IEA (International Energy Agency). But they represent just 0.2% of total light-duty vehicles on the road, with China accounting for more than 40% of the electric cars sold in the world and more than double the amount sold in the United States. link 

September 2017: 10 giant companies commit to electric vehicles. A coalition of global corporations launched a global campaign to accelerate the shift to electric vehicles and away from gas- and diesel-powered transportation. The EV100 coalition is expanding EV charging infrastructure and shifting away from gas for transportation. Since more than half of the cars on the road belong to companies, the new coalition hopes to have a major impact. link

June 2017: Electric cars accelerate past 2m mark globally. The number of electric cars in the world accelerated past the 2m barrier in 2016 as prices fell and manufacturers launched new models. The number of battery-powered vehicles numbered just hundreds globally in 2005 and passed the 1m milestone in 2015, but sales jumped 60% in 2016. link

February 2017: Norway leads Europe’s EV surge. Norway is the clear electric vehicle pacesetter in Europe, which now has about 500,000 electric vehicles. In 2016, nearly 40% of the nation’s newly registered passenger cars were EV’s. China leads the world in EV usage, with about 600,000 all-electric vehicles on its roads and an ambitious plan to deploy 5 million EVs by 2020. Norway and the Netherlands, intends to phase out all fossil fuel-powered automobiles by 2025.  link

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 
Trends in electric car searches in USA  by state - 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. However if Tesla ends up driving the rest of the auto industry to change and make more electric cars, that’s another matter. By 2040 35% of new cars sold could be EVs,  and could comprise about 25% of the global auto fleet. 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 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
Toyota sells more Camrys in a month than Tesla plans to sell in a year. 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. (Tesla's $465 million in federal loans was paid back in full, nine years early.)
April 2017 -
Batteries from Gigafactory could be Tesla’s secret weapon -  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 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. 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  

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
   (Update - September 2017: Dyson to take on Tesla with its own electric vehicle by 2020 - link)

December 2015: Ford invests $4.5 billion in EVs. Just in time to undercut the threat of an “affordable” Tesla EV, the Ford Motor Company has pledged a massive five year, $4.5 billion investment including 13 new EVs, bringing its electrified vehicle portfolio up to more than 40% of its global nameplates. To be clear, new plug-in hybrids are included in the EV group, but Ford is highlighting a new 100% electric fast-charging Focus Electric with an anticipated range of 100 miles. link

Battery charging advances
 Lessons from four EV hotspots in United States editorial  -  August 2012  

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 2011: 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 

Lithium information

Lithium, frequently referred to as "white petroleum," drives much of the modern world, as it has become an irreplaceable component of rechargeable batteries used in high tech devices. Even though Bolivia has more identified lithium resources than any other country, the current top three producers are Australia, Chile and Argentina. link   The lithium-ion batteries needed to power electric cars use lithium carbonate or lithium hydroxide, but the industry typically talks in terms of lithium carbonate equivalent which contains both. Two types of lithium deposits dominate. One is hard rock as found in Australia, for which ready-to- go capacity to produce battery grade lithium can take up to three years. The other is brine, mostly found in Chile and Argentina, which can take seven years or more. link  Australia is the world leader in lithium production with 13,000 metric tons in 2014. Unlike Chile and Argentina whose lithium is found in brines below the surface of salt flats, Australia extracts lithium from traditional hard-rock mines and exports a proportion of it to China and other Asian countries. Chile produces the second most lithium at 12,900 metric tons in 2014. Top ten producers link  (Pictured: lithium pools in Chile; credit Kate Davies and Liam Young)

August 2017: Meeting demand for lithium. Demand for battery-grade lithium compounds is expected to skyrocket in the next decades in tandem with soaring demand for electric cars as governments and individual consumers try to reduce their carbon footprint. Although there's plenty of lithium around, the problem is ensuring there is enough capacity to process it. Producers of processed lithium are agreeing long-term contracts with their customers to fund the investments needed to address a looming shortfall. link  (October 2017: Battery metals other than lithium could be in short supply. link)

May 2017: Lithium-ion gigafactories planned across Europe. Battery-making gigafactories are about to arrive in Europe, challenging Tesla’s lead. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to break ground at a $543 million plant for Daimler AG.  Large-scale factories are also planned in Sweden, Hungary and Poland. Lithium-ion battery packs are projected to be 43% cheaper by 2021, dropping to $156 a kilowatt-hour from $273 today. link 

June 2015: Is there enough lithium to maintain the growth of the lithium-ion battery market?  The U.S. Geological Survey produced a reserves estimate of lithium in early 2015, concluding that the world has enough known reserves for about 365 years of current global production of about 37,000 tons per year. Even though 365 years of reserve supply sounds very comforting, the point of the EV and stationary storage revolutions is that current demand will shoot up, way up. If the 100 Gigafactories scenario could come true, the 365-year supply would be less than a 17-year supply. link 

March 2017: Argentina may be about to flood the market with lithium. Good news for Tesla. If all of the projects go ahead, Argentina’s annual output of the metal used in electric-vehicle batteries would surge to 165,000 metric tons, or about 45% of global supply. Mining secretary Daniel Meilan said he isn’t concerned by the prospect of a flood of new lithium supply sinking prices. link

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 Argentina lithium rush is already in full swing, with miners eyeing resources of up to 128 million tons of lithium carbonate. link

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.   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

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

Commercial vehicles & buses

Electric buses

July 2017: Electric trucks and vans cut pollution faster than cars. In Europe, less than 5% of vehicles are commercial vehicles or heavy duty trucks, but they contribute to almost 20% of greenhouse gas emissions, Given there are more than 300 million commercial vehicles on the planet's roads, according to data portal Statista, it is clear that this goal need not be focused solely on passenger cars.  Unlike most car owners, businesses and governments can often afford to absorb the initial cost of going electric and make the business case for fuel savings down the road. link

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  

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.   
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             

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
March 2017: Study finds diesel emissions scandal to cause more than a thousand premature deaths - link

April 2017: Diesel cars now cleaner claims car makers' group. The SMMT organisation claimed latest diesel cars can improve air quality and are the ‘cleanest ever’ in vital fight against climate change saying vehicles featured special filters and technology that converted most of the nitrogen oxide (NOx) from the engine into harmless nitrogen and water before it reached the exhaust.  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.  September 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  (Update: May 2016: H2 MOBILITY targets 400 hydrogen fueling stations by 2023 - link)
September 2017: Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have flopped with drivers. 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

May 2009: Hydrogen fuel-cells not a solution for USA. 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."  link 

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.
Copyright 2008 thinkglobalgreen.org   All Rights Reserved