Happy Monday friends! Last week I was traveling so this is the Monday edition of the Top Five, my weekly take on the five most interesting developments in low carbon fuels and vehicles (LCFVs) trends over the last week:
Bloomberg reported last week that China is considering a California-style Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandate that would require auto manufacturers to produce more ZEVs or purchase carbon credits or pay fines that are five times the average price of the credits if they fail to meet the targets. The manufacturing target would require automakers to either produce or import ZEVs in proportion to the number of conventional vehicles they sell, according to a policy document (in Chinese) obtained by Bloomberg from China’s National Development and Reform Commission. The document specifically references the California ZEV program, but China will not be the last country that attempts to follow California’s lead on ZEVs.
China’s vehicle market grew at its fastest pace in 3.5 years last month, according to the Wall Street Journal, driven primarily by tax breaks. Meeting climate targets are a motivator of the policy along with air pollution and congestion mitigation are also large factors, especially in China’s largest cities. But the real concern is that subsidies for ZEVs which have totaled $2.3 billion since 2009 end in 2020 – which policymakers fear may slow the development of the ZEV market in China. The country overtook the U.S.as the largest market for EVs last year and is targeting 3 million in sales of ZEVs by 2025.
Last week EPA and the Department of Transportation through the National Highways Safety & Traffic Administration (NHTSA) released the final GHG/fuel efficiency regulation for medium- and heavy-duty engines and vehicles for the model years 2021-2027, which will apply to semi-trucks, large pickup trucks and vans, buses, tractors and other such vehicles. EPA notes that when fully implemented, the rules mean that 2027 model-year heavy-duty trucks will be 25%t more carbon efficient than those sold in the 2018 model year. Read more about it here.
MIT released a study this week finding that 87% of personal vehicles on the road in the U.S. can be replaced by the EVs on the market today with the current ranges and at an overall cost to their owners (purchase and operating) no greater than that of internal combustion engines even if they can only charge overnight.
It would represent a 61% reduction in fuel consumption. Assuming battery technology improves in line with government estimates, by 2020 up to 98% of vehicles could be replaced, representing 88% of our fuel consumption. Moreover, this would more than meet near-term climate targets for personal vehicle travel.
The project, which took four years to complete, included the integration of large datasets on second-by-second driving behavior based on GPS data and national data based on travel surveys to estimate energy requirements of personal vehicle trips across the country. Other findings included the following:
The study team is developing an app that would take the data they compiled and help a driver predict when they will need a conventional car to get from point A to point B and home again over the course of a day. The prediction would be based on factors such as distance, the amount of time spent traveling at high speeds on highways, and whether the weather will require a lot of heat or air conditioning.
Last week, Ford announced its intent to have a high-volume, fully autonomous SAE level 4-capable vehicle in commercial operation in 2021 in a ride-hailing or ride-sharing service. And to get there, Ford is investing in and collaborating with four startups to enhance its autonomous vehicle development, doubling its Silicon Valley team and more than doubling its Palo Alto campus.
Plans are to design it to operate without a steering wheel, gas or brake pedal, for use in commercial mobility services such as ride sharing and ride hailing within geo-fenced areas and be available in high volumes. Ford will triple its autonomous vehicle test fleet this year to be the largest test fleet of any automaker – bringing the number to about 30 self-driving Fusion Hybrid sedans on the roads in California, Arizona and Michigan, with plans to triple it again next year.
Fast Company reviews a recent BCG study on the societal impacts of self-driving vehicles (SDVs), the future of which the consultancy says is not a question of if but when. The benefits are negligible to considerable depending on how these cars will be used, according to several scenarios BCG developed:
BCG stresses these are relative, not actual numbers, noting the benefits of SDVs are likely higher if they provide a better form of private mobility (or, in the case, or ride-sharing, semi-private mobility), rather than replacing people’s existing travel patterns.