Technology StocksThe Electric Car, or MPG "what me worry?"

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From: Eric10/4/2017 6:55:54 AM
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Renault-Nissan To Build All-Electric Compact SUV In China With New JV

15 hours ago by Mark Kane


Renault-Nissan looking to break into China with a new all-electric A Segment SUV (think like Renault Kwid shown here)

Renault-Nissan Alliance has announced a new joint venture – eGT New Energy Automotive Co., Ltd. , which is being established with Dongfeng Motor Group to co-develop and sell electric vehicles in China.

Venucia e30 (aka Nissan LEAF)

Renault and Nissan will each hold 25% of the new JV, while Dongfeng retains 50% of the new company…as per ‘the way it works’ if you want to sell autos in China’.

We should note that, Nissan already has a JV with Dongfeng to produce cars under the Venucia brand (including the e30 “morning wind” – AKA Nissan LEAF).

The goal with this new JV is to develop an all-electric vehicle using an A-segment SUV platform from the Renault-Nissan Alliance – think something like the Renault Kwid (pictured above).

The car would be then produced from 2019 in Dongfeng facility in City of Shiyan, Hubei Province in central China, with capacity of up to 120,000 cars.
“The new joint venture, eGT New Energy Automotive Co., Ltd. (eGT), will focus on the core competencies of each partner and will harness the full potential of the Renault-Nissan Alliance electric vehicle leadership, as well as the resources of Dongfeng in the new energy industry, to meet the expectations of the Chinese market.

eGT will design a new EV with intelligent interconnectivity, that will be in line with the expectations of Chinese customers. It will be jointly developed by the Alliance and Dongfeng on an A-segment SUV platform of the Renault-Nissan Alliance. It will draw on the global leadership on EV technologies and cost-effective car design experience from the Alliance, and the competitive manufacturing costs from Dongfeng.”

“The newly formed eGT is planned to be based in the City of Shiyan, Hubei Province in central China. The electric vehicle will be produced at the Dongfeng plant of Shiyan which has a production and sales capacity of 120,000 vehicles a year. Start of production of the new EV is forecast in the year 2019.”

Another look at the A-segment Renault Kwid

Carlos Ghosn, chairman and chief executive officer of the Renault-Nissan Alliance said:
“The establishment of the new joint venture with Dongfeng confirms our common commitment to develop competitive electric vehicles for the Chinese market. We are confident to meet the expectations of the Chinese customers and to strengthen our global electric vehicle leadership position.”
Official vehicle sales data shows 256,879 BEVs were sold in China last year (up 121%).

And despite a slow start in the Chinese market for 2017, production YTD stands at 223,000 units (up 37.8%), while sales have reached 204,000 units (up 33.6%).

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From: Eric10/4/2017 2:56:30 PM
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New Anode In Toshiba SCiB Battery Adds 200 Miles Of Range In 6 Minutes

October 3rd, 2017 by Steve Hanley

This story about Toshiba’s next-generation SCiB battery was first published by Gas2.

When we think of electric car batteries, we think of Samsung SDI, Panasonic, LG Chem, and Tesla. The name Toshiba seldom enters the conversation. Yet Toshiba has been toiling away in relative obscurity at the margins of battery research for several years. Now it says it has developed a new version of its SCiB battery that can be recharged in less time and at higher power than batteries from its competitors.

The anode and cathode are the keys to any battery. Those are the places where electrons rush in during charging and out again to power electric motors or other devices. The more electrons that can be stored and the faster they can move, the better. Anodes and cathodes degrade over time, reducing battery performance. Some can be damaged by physical impacts or high temperatures, leading to the escape of poisonous gases or fires.

Designing anodes and cathodes that have high energy density, long life, and low volatility is very much an occult science worthy of alchemists. Toshiba introduced its SCiB rechargeable battery cells in 2008, which differ from most other lithium-ion batteries in that they use lithium titanium oxide for the anode.

The company says LTO improves battery performance at low temperatures (we can’t all live in Palo Alto). It also gives excellent power density, long battery life, and is resistant to the damage that can occur in other batteries from external impacts. In tests, the new battery maintains 90% of its capacity after 5,000 charging cycles.

The next generation of Toshiba’s SCiB battery cells uses titanium niobium oxide for its anode material. Toshiba says it has double the storage capacity of the graphite-based anodes generally used in conventional lithium-ion batteries. The new battery has both high energy density and ultra-rapid recharging characteristics. Its titanium niobium oxide anode is less susceptible to lithium metal deposition during ultra-rapid recharging or recharging in cold conditions — a frequent cause of battery degradation and internal short circuiting.

Toshiba claims the new battery can add up to 200 miles of range to an electric car after just 6 minutes using a high-power charger, but doesn’t define what it considers “high power.” Typical DC fast charging equipment in the US operates at 50 kW. Tesla Superchargers have 135 kW of power, and ABB has just announced the first installations of chargers that have up to 350 kW of power. Which is high power? All of them? Only the latter?

“We are very excited by the potential of the new titanium niobium oxide anode and the next-generation SCiB,” said Dr. Osamu Hori, director of Toshiba’s corporate research & development center. “Rather than an incremental improvement, this is a game changing advance that will make a significant difference to the range and performance of EV. We will continue to improve the battery’s performance and aim to put the next-generation SCiB™ into practical application in fiscal year 2019.”

Source: Electric Cars Report

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From: Eric10/5/2017 7:28:10 AM
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  • Boeing & Aerospace
  • Business

  • Zunum brings Silicon Valley startup style to electric-airplane concept

    Originally published October 5, 2017 at 4:00 am Updated October 4, 2017 at 8:29 pm

    An artist’s rendition of Kirkland-based Zunum Aero’s hybrid electric-airplane concept. Zunum is initially developing a 9-seater model for city-to-city commuting. (Zunum)

    Kirkland-based Zunum Aero aims to have its first hybrid-electric commuter airplane in flight tests within two years, though many technological details remain to be worked out

    Dominic Gates
    Seattle Times aerospace reporter

    Zunum Aero, a local startup that’s won funding from both Boeing and the state of Washington, aims to begin small but grow fast. It says it will flight test its first nine-seat hybrid-electric plane just two years from now.

    The company as yet has no hardware to show the world, only ambitious plans and alluring illustrations. It also has a Silicon Valley-style pitch.

    At Zunum’s Kirkland headquarters, Chief Executive Ashish Kumar — a former Google and Microsoft senior executive with a Ph.D. in mechanical and aerospace engineering — insists his small electric planes will open up aviation to many more travelers.

    Existing planes of this size, such as the Wichita-built Beechcraft King Air or the Swiss-made Pilatus PC-12, today are flown by city-to-city commuter airlines that typically serve lucrative short-hop routes — say San Francisco to Los Angeles — and by operators offering on-demand air-taxi service.

    They serve mainly business executives who like to fly out of small airports to avoid the security and logistical delays of major commercial airline travel.

    Kumar says Zunum’s battery-powered plane will open up this aviation sector by dramatically lowering the cost of operating such planes. He cites $260 per flight hour, compared to $600 to $1,000 and up per flight hour on similarly sized nonelectric planes.

    “It will give rise to a much more distributed air system, where smaller to midsize planes fly to many more airports than have service today,” Kumar said.

    A family of electric planes

    Zunum won some credibility in April, when Boeing gave it an undisclosed amount of startup funding.

    In June, the state of Washington’s Clean Energy Fund kicked in an additional $800,000 research-and-development grant.

    The concept is a plane, mostly built of composites, with Tesla-style battery packs in the wings. As a hybrid, it will also carry a relatively small amount of fuel.

    All the electric propulsion gear will be stored behind the passenger cabin and will power two engines mounted on the fuselage, just ahead of the V-shape tail.

    Zunum promises a range of 700 miles and a cruise speed of 340 mph, which is 9 percent faster than the Pilatus and King Air planes.

    The plane would theoretically seat up to a dozen people, but since Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules would require two pilots for 10 or more passengers, in practice, it’ll be a nine-seater in the U.S.

    Zunum sees this as the first of a family of hybrid-electric planes. “In the grand scheme of things,” said Kumar, it’s “also a demonstrator for the 30- to 50-seater that we think is the next logical step.”

    Not content with that ambition, Zunum says its planes will have the capability to be flown autonomously — without a pilot. And its presentations include concept illustrations of a vertical takeoff military model.

    Tech-style startup mentality

    Yet even the baseline technology is still in development.

    A new generation of batteries is needed to power this plane. Kumar says Zunum will rely on the auto industry to come up with those.

    His engineers are focusing on developing the powertrain that will drive the engines. As for the airframe, Zunum will get to the details on that later — next year, Kumar said.

    Myriad regulatory hoops will have to be jumped through to achieve FAA certification. And while Kumar insists this can all be developed for “less than $200 million,” the business plan is sketchy.

    With another round of fundraising ahead, Kumar looks past the challenges, presenting his case as if Zunum were a Silicon Valley tech startup.

    He points out how much investor money is today being poured into innovation in ground transportation, from ride-sharing to electric cars to autonomous vehicles, and says, “that money is now crossing over” into electric, short-range flying as the next big opportunity.

    Yet it’s clear Zunum is still in the early planning phase.

    The company has hired a few high-end propulsion experts and will set up a center near Chicago to start ground tests of the electrics and motors by next summer.

    Around then, Kumar says, the company will also start wind-tunnel tests of a half-scale engine fan at Boeing Field.

    He says Zunum will deliver its first four aircraft in 2022 and ramp up from there.

    And where will they be built? Too early to discuss, says Kumar.

    In March, longtime aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia of the Teal Group wrote a piece dismissing the various sleek and sexy Silicon Valley-style projects aiming to transform aviation — from electric planes to urban air taxis.

    He pointed out that electric airplanes specifically will require a completely new level of battery endurance and reliability compared to those powering cars, since an airplane can’t just pull over to the side of the road.

    “We’re a long way from there,” Aboulafia wrote. “It may take many decades.”

    Undeterred by such doubters, Zunum confidently predicts it will put electric planes into service five years from now.

    Dominic Gates: 206-464-2963 or

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    From: Eric10/5/2017 9:27:11 AM
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    Boeing Buying Drone Maker Aurora Flight Services

    The proposed deal expands the aerospace giant’s reach in the field of electric-powered aircraft

    A Boeing Insitu ScanEagle unmanned aerial system is displayed at the IMDEX Asia maritime defence exhibition in Singapore on May 19, 2015. Photo: edgar su/Reuters

    Doug Cameron

    Oct. 5, 2017 8:59 a.m. ET

    Boeing Co. BA 0.12% on Thursday said it plans to acquire Aurora Flight Sciences Corp., a maker of aerial drones and pilotless flying systems that also expands the company’s reach in the new field of electric-powered aircraft.

    Virginia-based Aurora is a specialist in autonomous systems that allow military and commercial aircraft to be flown remotely, including technology that automates many functions.

    The proposed deal marks Boeing’s second acquisition in less than a year involving autonomous systems following last December’s purchase of Liquid Robotics Inc., a maker of ships and undersea vehicles, and adds to a portfolio that includes aerial drone maker Insitu.

    Boeing’s venture capital arm also this year invested in Zunum Aero, a Washington state-based startup that on Thursday unveiled its plan for an electric-hybrid regional passenger jet.

    Terms for the proposed purchase of Aurora weren’t disclosed. The firm has more than 550 staff and will be run as an independent unit in Boeing’s engineering and technology business.

    Aurora also produces composite parts for aircraft and other vehicles. Boeing is looking to produce more of its own parts as part of an insourcing strategy to reduce costs and potential disruption in its supply chain.

    Boeing has been considering further acquisitions as part of the push to expand sales at its newly formed services arm to $50 billion over the next several years from around $14 billion at present.

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    From: Eric10/5/2017 11:38:33 AM
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    Electric Vehicles Report: Part 2 – The Impacts Of The Electric Vehicle Revolution

    October 5th, 2017 by John Farrell

    The following is an excerpt of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s Choosing the Electric Avenue: Unlocking Savings, Emissions Reductions, and Community Benefits of Electric Vehicles report. We’ll be republishing the full report in order to bring more attention to the changing landscape of electric vehicles. Read part one.

    Impact: Improving the Grid Electric vehicles boost demand for electricity

    On one hand, that’s great news for utilities. The average electric-powered car driver covers 12,000 miles annually, and one study calculated that the additional 4,000 kilowatt-hours used by an electric vehicle would increase a typical household’s yearly energy need by 33% (without adoption of energy efficiency measures). In small numbers, electric cars will change little, but in large numbers they could reverse the stagnant growth in electricity use, which has dropped in five of the last eight years and affected the bottom line of many electric utilities.

    On the other hand, could this increased demand also increase the cost of operating the electric grid (and costs for electric customers) by shortening the life of grid components, requiring replacement or upgraded infrastructure such as transformers and capacitors, or even building new fossil fuel power plants?

    Fortunately, the evidence suggests that electric vehicle expansion will reward, not ruin, the grid and its customers.

    A rigorous analysis spearheaded by the California Public Utilities Commission in 2016 found substantial net benefits in electric vehicle adoption for the state’s electric grid and customers: worth $3.1 billion by 2030, even without smart charging policies and with vehicle adoption clustering in particular areas of the grid. This included the benefits of capturing federal tax credits, gasoline savings, and carbon credits in California’s greenhouse gas allowance transportation market plus all of the associated costs to the customer and grid.

    The study also found surprisingly low costs for upgrading the local distribution grid. Even with a much higher vehicle adoption assumption of 7 million cars by 2030 (one-quarter of all registered vehicles), annual distribution infrastructure costs would be just 1% of the annual utility distribution budget.

    A rigorous analysis by the California Public Utilities Commission found substantial net benefits in electric vehicle adoption: $3.1 billion by 2030, even without smart charging policies and with vehicle adoption clustering in particular areas of the grid.

    A set of studies for northeastern states found a similar net benefit, even without smart charging policies, for vehicle owners, utilities, and society.

    Relatively simple policy changes can enhance the payoff of adding thousands or millions of electric vehicles to the grid. California’s study suggests that the most potent and simplest tool to smoothly integrate electric vehicles is controlling when they charge. This can be done with special rates that give customers a discount for charging at grid-friendly times, or even using special chargers that disallow charging when grid demand is at its highest. These tools increase the efficiency of the electricity system, but also mean lower-cost fuel for electric vehicle owners, a win-win.

    Relatively simple policy changes can enhance the payoff of adding thousands or millions of electric vehicles to the grid. California’s study suggests that the most potent and simplest tool to smoothly integrate electric vehicles is controlling when they charge.

    In an exhaustive analysis using time-of-use (TOU) pricing to strongly incentivize nighttime charging, the California Public Utilities Commission found that shifting from flat-rate to time-of-use charging increased net benefits from $3,600 to $5,000 per vehicle through significant reductions in the energy and infrastructure costs of charging.

    While the California calculation includes the federal tax credit, the benefits are expected to persist even when that incentive expires because of falling electric vehicle and battery costs.

    This following sections explore pricing tools that allow utilities and regulators to better manage grid supply and demand, rather than building new power infrastructure that could be obsolete early in its decades-long life.

    EV Charging Terminology

    A quick note on charging before we dive in. Electric vehicles can be charged at different speeds by using different voltages. A standard 120-volt outlet can deliver about 1.3 kilowatts per hour but may take 12 or more hours to fully charge a vehicle. A 240-volt circuit can deliver a substantially faster charge and can be wired in a typical home or business. Direct current (DC) fast charging uses 440-volt charging that can “refuel” an electric vehicle battery in less than an hour. The following graphic from FleetCarma illustrates.

    Managing Demand

    With proper price incentives, grid managers can motivate electric vehicle users to avoid charging during periods of peak demand, to instead charge when demand is otherwise low, and to help smooth out large increases or decreases in demand.

    The electric grid is designed around periods of peak energy use, with requirements for significant energy reserves dictated by the single-most congested hour of the year. By raising electricity prices at times of peak energy use (and reducing them elsewhere), utilities can largely minimize electric cars’ contribution to peak energy demand. Recent modeling by the Rocky Mountain Institute suggests optimized charging rates would limit Minnesota’s peak demand increase, for example, to just 0.5% when electric vehicles hit 23% penetration, compared with an increase of more than 3% without charging controls.

    Minnesota wasn’t alone. In the four other states modeled, the Rocky Mountain Institute found peak demand impacts of widespread electric vehicle adoption could be significantly reduced with controlled charging. The following graphic illustrates.

    Utilities can also leverage electric vehicles to manage rapid changes in electricity demand. Historically, these ramps up or down have been driven by a morning surge in demand as people wake up and turn on lights and appliances, and another in the evening when stores remain open and residents return home. In some cases, these ramps are also influenced by rooftop solar generation, which sharply reduces demand from solar-powered neighborhoods in the daytime but spurs a sharp increase in local demand in the evening when residential demand increases as the sun sets.

    Utilities typically prepare for these surges by activating gas power plants that can be put on standby or ramped up quickly. However, because these plants are relatively under-utilized, the electricity provided at peak periods is expensive. An August heat wave in Texas, for example, sent hourly electricity prices on the grid well over $1 per kilowatt hour on several occasions, more than ten times the usual price.

    Utility wonks illustrate this challenge with the “duck curve,” shown below for the California Independent System Operator (CAISO). The issue is the steep curve starting around 4 p.m. and peaking around 8 p.m., driven largely by adoption of rooftop solar that drives down daytime electricity demand. One caveat: the deep dip is sometimes called “overgeneration” — implying that there’s too much solar energy production — an issue enhanced when the bottom axis reflects a minimum of 14,000 megawatts. One German observer notes that this issue (as opposed to the ramp) is exaggerated. For context, the chart is also shown with a zero axis.

    Although there are many potential solutions (the linked report from the Regulatory Assistance Project is particularly thorough), electric vehicles can help smooth the curve. By drawing power from the grid during the midday hours when solar output is greatest, electric vehicles can soak up the sun-generated power and in turn reduce the evening ramp-up. Fortunately, data from California suggests that 40% of electric vehicles remain at home even through the midday hours. If vehicle owners have access to charging at home and at work, over 70% of vehicles are available to absorb excess daytime electricity generation.

    By charging these idle electric vehicles during daytime hours, grid operators could reduce the steep afternoon ramp-up in electricity demand. The chart below illustrates how charging these vehicles between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. would help smooth the rise in demand, giving grid managers more time to accommodate increasing electricity consumption.

    The amount of additional demand needed from electric vehicles to achieve this outcome is well within projected capacity. The 1.5 million electric cars California expects by 2025 would have a maximum energy demand of about 7,000 megawatts, more than double the capacity needed to substantially smooth the current afternoon rise in peak energy demand.

    As discussed later, widely distributed charging infrastructure will be key to accessing this resource, as few homes or businesses currently have car chargers. Furthermore, the amount and availability of bill credits or compensation for grid exports (or in the case of Hawaii, a tariff that provides no payment for excess solar production) will strongly impact customer behavior.

    Soaking Up Supply

    Charging controls or pricing incentives can also motivate electric vehicle drivers to charge overnight, or whenever clean energy production is strongest.

    In markets like the Midwest that have abundant wind power, clean energy production often peaks overnight when demand is lowest. The chart below shows the daily demand curve for the Midwest Independent System Operator, which serves a number of states in the Midwest. The 50,000 megawatt-hour gap between daytime and nighttime demand (in July, when the grid is built to accommodate daytime load boosted by air conditioning) could accommodate over 7.5 million electric vehicles on Level 2 (240-volt) chargers without building a single new power plant. That’s almost 2 million more cars than the total number registered in the entire state of Illinois.

    The 50,000 megawatt-hour gap between daytime and nighttime demand could accommodate over 7.5 million electric vehicles on Level 2 (240-volt) chargers without building a single new power plant.

    The hungry batteries of electric vehicles can also be coordinated to improve the capture of wind and solar power.

    The most common constraint in a grid with high levels of renewable energy (over 30%) is overgeneration. This happens when there’s so much renewable energy available that making room for it would mean ramping down or turning off inflexible power plants (coal, nuclear, hydro). In electricity markets, renewables tend to undercut any other resource because — having no fuel — they have almost no marginal cost to produce electricity.

    Electric vehicles represent a new source of electricity demand that can absorb this excess production.

    Charging electric cars during nighttime low-demand periods, for example, means increasing the use of wind energy. A 2006 study from the National Renewable Energy Lab found that electric vehicle deployment “ results in vastly increased use of wind” because overnight vehicle charging overlaps with windier nighttime conditions. A 2011 study from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratories found that if one in eight cars were electric, the additional storage capacity would allow the Northwest grid to handle 12% more wind energy.

    Electric vehicles can also help grids put more solar power to use. The illustration in the previous section — Ready to Charge — illustrates how most electric cars could be available to charge during afternoon hours to absorb solar energy output, although it requires daytime charging (and potentially non-home charging infrastructure) that nighttime charging does not.

    Portuguese researchers found that growth in both solar generation and electric vehicles maximizes the grid benefits of each. Portugal’s heavy emphasis on solar generation means that, as time goes on, it will build up a “substantial amount” of excess daytime solar energy. Because neighboring countries are also building out their solar portfolios, Portugal’s exports would yield low prices, suggesting that solar power might be curtailed (or lost) instead. But researchers found that an expanded electric vehicle fleet — and a preference for midday workplace charging — could decrease the midday solar surplus by 50%.

    A separate Portuguese study includes analysis of simulated solar production during a given week in April. With no electric vehicles, 202 gigawatt-hours — or 48% of solar production — was curtailed during that span. With electric vehicles added to the mix, curtailment fell to 123 gigawatt-hours, or 29% of solar production.

    Together, solar and electric vehicles can do more to smooth the demand curve than either technology could on its own. The following chart, from the Rocky Mountain Institute, shows how optimized electric vehicle charging increases daytime electricity demand by over 200 megawatts (nearly 14% of peak demand) in Hawaii, allowing for more solar production.

    Other studies confirm this potential. A 2012 study by the Imperial College of London, for example, suggests that energy storage, including electric vehicles, can reduce curtailment of renewables by more than half.

    Providing Ancillary Services to the Grid

    By starting, stopping, or varying the level of charge, electric vehicle batteries can provide two crucial “ancillary” services to the grid: helping maintain a consistent voltage (120 volts) and frequency (60 Hertz). These services are provided by short bursts of “reactive” power: either drawing power from the grid or putting it back in. Since nearly all commercially available electric vehicles lack the ability to send power to the grid, car batteries would provide reactive power today only by drawing power (charging).

    The vehicle’s ability to aid the grid also hinges on the power of its charger and the ability to aggregate with other vehicles. On a typical home 120-volt outlet allowing up to 1.3 kilowatts of power per vehicle, it would take over 250 vehicles to reach the minimum threshold to provide ancillary services in energy markets run by regional grid operators PJM or MISO, which cover a substantial portion of the U.S. A 240-volt Level 2 charger with a capacity as high as 6.6 kilowatts per car significantly reduces the number of vehicles needed ( as few as 27) to join the market.

    Electric vehicles can provide substantial value to the grid as they charge (and in the future, perhaps by supplying power back to the grid, see Appendix A — The Vehicle-to-Grid Future).

    Impact: Cutting Pollution

    One major benefit of electric vehicles is reducing pollution impacts of driving. The following chart shows the greenhouse gas emissions from electric vehicles based on the grid electricity supply in 2015. The numbers on the chart are the miles per gallon required from a gasoline-fueled vehicle to have the same greenhouse gas emissions impact as an electric vehicle. The numbers will have risen since 2015, as additional coal plants have been retired.

    Driving electric also significantly reduces other pollutants. The adjacent chart is from a 2007 study of the pollutant impact of hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars in Minnesota. It assumes a grid with a mix of 40% wind power and 60% coal power. The former is likely in the next decade, the latter is laughable in the face of a massive switch from coal to gas and renewables. With that context in mind, the bar representing sulfur dioxide should be ignored as the emissions rate of sulfur dioxides is 99% lower with natural gas, and 100% lower with more wind or solar power.

    Impact: Readying Energy Democracy

    The cumulative power of electric vehicles goes beyond stabilizing the larger electricity system; it offers an opportunity to draw more power from the local economy. Electric vehicles operate in a distinct geography (near the owner) and therefore their benefits are localized. This makes electric vehicles part of a larger transition from energy monopoly to energy democracy, as distributed technology from solar to smartphones localizes everything — production, consumption, and decision making — on the electric grid.

    The following graphic illustrates the shift from energy monopoly to energy democracy. The flow of electricity changes from one-way to two-way as many customers install rooftop solar and purchase electric vehicles. The share of renewable energy grows and that of fossil fuel power shrinks. In general, the community sources more of its energy locally.

    This section details the three key local benefits of electric vehicles: enabling the combination of the “sexy electrics” (solar and electric cars); increasing the capacity for local distributed solar energy production; and providing resilient, local backup power.

    Complementary, Sexy Technology

    Electric vehicles can encourage increased deployment of distributed solar. The same environmental values and spending habits that helped rocket the Toyota Prius to 1 million sales in a decade propel people to install solar panels. Like the conspicuous sustainability credential provided by the unique Prius, economists have speculated that homeowners invest more in solar panels than more affordable insulation and caulking. As such, it is not surprising that two of the clearest signals of green values — electric vehicle ownership and rooftop solar installation — often go hand-in-hand.

    In California, roughly 39% of electric vehicle drivers also owned residential solar in 2013 — far outpacing the general population in the US, where less than 1% of all households had rooftop arrays through the second quarter of 2016. Meanwhile, 17% of California electric vehicle drivers expressed “strong interest” in installing solar in the near future. Of those that already had both, 53% said they sized their at-home solar systems with electric vehicle charging in mind, exposing synergies that reduce grid strain and help accommodate higher electricity demand.

    Boulder County, CO, captured this complementary relationship by offering a program that promoted bulk buying for electric vehicles and solar. Area residents could opt in to access discounts on their purchase of either upgrade. The initiative provided a significant boost to electric vehicle sales. During the September-to-December promotional period, a local dealership sold 85 Nissan Leafs in 2013 and 2014 before jumping to 173 in the same period in 2015. Boulder County, home to less than one-tenth of 1% of the US population, accounted for 3.5% of all US Leaf sales over that span.

    Meanwhile, program participants installed 147 solar arrays totaling 832 kilowatts. At least 19 households (over 10% percent of those participating) purchased both a Leaf and a solar array, and of that group, 11 right-sized their solar project to ensure it could power both their home and their new electric vehicle. By harnessing the federal electric vehicle tax credit alone, participants brought $1.8 million into the local economy — a huge gain, considering Boulder County estimated the program required just 165 hours of staff time and $650 in out-of-pocket expenses. The program was aided by the state electric vehicle tax credit, worth about $3,800 per car or $660,000 altogether.

    The relationship between solar and electric vehicles may not remain as tight in the long term. A 2016 survey of plug-in car owners found that the percentage owning a solar array had fallen from 25% in 2012 and prior to 12% in 2015. This could be due to less affluent car owners or vehicle sales in areas with poorer solar resources. On the other hand, it also means that electric vehicles are dispersing beyond the very savvy customers that already own solar.

    Either way, electric vehicles and solar arrays are both appealing to consumers, in a way that other energy improvements are not. And fortunately, this marriage of sexy electrics delivers benefits to the grid and local economy.

    Electric Vehicles and Community Solar?

    As electric vehicle ownership expands, it will reach many Americans who lack a sunny rooftop but may still have interest in solar. Community solar programs allow these customers to invest in or subscribe to solar energy projects, and the revenue from these subscriptions could offset the cost of charging an electric vehicle. It also allows them to, indirectly, charge their car from the sun.

    The technical benefits of marrying solar and electric vehicles using community solar would be diminished unless customers subscribed to a community solar array located on the same distribution feeder as their primary place of vehicle charging.

    Increasing Local Energy Capacity

    Electric vehicles boost electricity demand and expand local storage, increasing capacity to produce more electricity from local, renewable sources.

    Solar energy, for example, can reduce a neighborhood’s peak energy consumption. If a community is served by a distribution line with a maximum capacity of 1 megawatt and it’s running near that limit, the utility may consider an expensive hardware upgrade. But adding local solar can reduce demand during hot, sunny summer afternoons, potentially allowing the utility to defer that upgrade.

    We illustrate the effect in the graphic to the right. If many homes and businesses in a neighborhood add rooftop solar, it supplants power from the grid with local energy to avoid new capacity needs.

    As solar continues to proliferate, a second set of issues can arise. Lots of small solar power plants can result in a portion of the local grid remaining energized when there’s a larger blackout. This could cause safety issues for utility workers who would expect power lines they’re repairing to be dead. However, smart inverters for solar arrays can automatically turn off power production when the grid goes dark. An even better solution is to island the home or business with solar, allowing them to have power even when the grid is dark. Newer inverters can supply up to 1500 watts for use during blackouts, even as the solar array stops sending power to the grid.

    A second issue is a technical and competitive concern called “backfeed.” Backfeed is what happens when the supply of electricity (including from local solar) exceeds total use on a certain area of the grid. In this case, power flows back onto the grid, as shown in the illustration below.

    This may require substation upgrades to mediate power flow from the high-voltage regional grid to the low-voltage local grid, which weren’t designed with this flow in mind. It also allows local solar generation to compete against many other sources of electricity, including traditional fossil fuel power plants. In the many states where the utility company is responsible for grid safety and owns power plants that would be in competition with local solar, this creates a challenging conflict of interest.

    Electric vehicles can solve backfeed issues by absorbing more local power generation, in turn enabling it to serve local needs. This also reduces wear and tear on utility hardware, inevitable in longer-distance power distribution. The following illustration shows how increasing electric vehicle ownership can reduce solar energy exports to the larger grid.

    Without an additional local source of energy consumption, utilities can “curtail,” or effectively shut off, clean power production from local solar arrays. But a 2016 study in Hawaii confirmed that more electric vehicles on the grid translates to greater potential reductions in curtailed energy. That is especially significant in a rooftop solar stronghold — 17% of utility customers in Hawaii generate their power this way, including at least 32% of single-family homes on Oahu. The study’s authors modeled a scenario where 10% to 30% of Oahu vehicles were electric, and predicted an 18% to 46% reduction in curtailed generation when vehicle charging was controlled to match local power production. In this model, wind and solar provided close to 50% of the island’s total electricity needs.

    The authors cautioned that marked day-to-day fluctuations in wind and solar curtailment obscure the precise effects of controlled charging in capturing curtailed energy, but found that using electric vehicles to integrate more storage makes distributed generation more valuable, more effective, and even more pervasive.

    It’s a scenario that could play out in markets across the country. For example, the California grid operator CAISO reported 132 megawatt-hours in local curtailments of solar generation between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Sept. 15, 2016. These curtailments were due to a limit on the capacity of the local grid to export. Typically, such curtailments involve utility-scale solar. If the capacity of the average electric car battery is 30 kilowatt-hours (the size of that in the 2017 Nissan Leaf), 8,800 parked electric vehicles needing a 50% charge could collectively offset that day’s curtailment, benefiting those generating solar power and helping to stabilize the grid.

    Local Value

    Sourcing power locally has two spillover benefits. First, it keeps more of the economic benefits of power generation within a given community. A typical 1-megawatt solar array creates $2.5 million in local economic activity and 20 jobs. Through its 25-year lifetime, a locally owned solar project will redirect an additional $5.4 million of electricity spending back into local hands.

    The energy may also be more valuable to the grid if it is consumed locally, as ILSR explains in our 2016 report, Is Bigger Best? In many debates nationwide over the proper valuation of solar, most policy outcomes include a higher value for energy that can be used on-site or locally, rather than exported to the larger grid. Utilities and regulators in Hawaii and New York, for example, have adopted measures for distributed solar that favor on-site consumption.


    Electric vehicles can also provide individuals and communities greater resiliency in the face of natural disaster. In the wake of week-long power outages following Hurricane Sandy, many communities on the East Coast sought ways to reduce their reliance on their (often distantly located) utilities. Many states encourage the installation of solar energy generation and even microgrids, miniature versions of the electric grid that can operate when the larger grid goes dark. Microgrids, typically powered by solar and batteries, could use electric vehicles to soak up excess energy production — and keep it local — to provide power during extended grid outages.

    A pilot project at the University of California-San Diego, a campus which supplies more than 90% of its own energy, equipped its microgrid to host 70 electric vehicle chargers. The microgrid can ramp down charging to reduce campus-wide demand. In turn, drivers who allow flexibility in charging receive compensation when their vehicles perform services like frequency regulation. This symbiosis makes electric vehicle integration a compelling prospect for microgrid operators and vehicle owners.

    “The link between a microgrid and an electric vehicle can create a win-win situation wherein the microgrid can reduce utility costs by load shifting while the electric vehicle owner receives revenue that partially offsets his/her expensive mobile storage investment,” researchers wrote in a 2010 study from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

    While microgrids currently comprise a small portion of the total US electric generation capacity, their numbers are expected to double or triple within a decade — rising in tandem with electric vehicle ownership in the US. Particularly as both markets grow, outfitting microgrids with technology to tap into storage and ancillary services from electric vehicles can fortify local power systems. Together, electric vehicles and microgrids promote resiliency.

    As noted above, electric vehicles may also offer a resiliency benefit to existing “microgrids” — homes. The typical second-generation electric vehicle battery (such as the Chevrolet Bolt) stores sufficient electricity to power the average American home for two days. This is a powerful secondary benefit for a purchase centered on mobility.

    The typical 2nd generation electric vehicle battery (such as in the Chevrolet Bolt) stores sufficient electricity to power the average American home for two days.

    Read the full report online, here. For timely updates, follow John Farrell or Karlee Weinmann on Twitter or get the Energy Democracy weekly update.

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    From: Eric10/5/2017 1:09:45 PM
       of 5890
    Nissan e-NV200 electric van gets longer-range battery; still no U.S. plans

    John Voelcker

    4 Comments Oct 5, 2017

    While U.S. buyers eagerly await the arrival of the 2018 Nissan Leaf electric car at dealerships early next year, the company has updated another of its electric vehicles as well.

    Unfortunately, it's one that the company has no current plans to sell in North America.

    That's the new longer-range version of the Nissan e-NV200 small delivery van, which has been on sale for several years in Japan and various European countries.

    DON'T MISS: Nissan e-NV200 beats Renault Kangoo ZE in electric van sales in Europe

    On Monday, Nissan unveiled the updated e-NV200 at its Nissan Futures 3.0 event in Oslo.

    The Norwegian capital may have the highest concentration of electric cars of any city in the world, given the strong financial incentives to buy them. Norway expects to end sales of cars with combustion engines by 2025, and appears to be well on its way to that goal.

    Europe, meanwhile, is expected to be at the forefront of rapid growth in electric trucks of all sizes and classes over the next decade.

    2018 Nissan e-NV200 electric delivery van (European version)

    The 2018 version of the e-NV200 uses the same 40-kilowatt-hour battery pack that the 2018 Leaf does.

    The longer-range Leaf, incidentally, went on sale in Japan this week as well, while U.S. pilot production is now underway at the company's sprawling assembly plant in Smyrna, Tennessee.

    The e-NV200 is the all-electric version of the gasoline-powered NV200 that has been sold in the U.S. since 2013.

    READ THIS: Driving Nissan e-NV200 All-Electric Small Commercial Van (Jun 2014)

    Nissan Europe said it is rated at up to 280 km (174 miles) on the NEDC test cycle, though a comparable U.S. EPA figure would likely be 120 to 140 miles.

    The 2018 Leaf, which is considerably more aerodynamic than the upright e-NV200 van, is rated by the EPA at 140 miles from its 40-kwh battery.

    A longer-range Leaf with a 60-kwh battery and range of more than 200 miles will go on sale at a higher price as a 2019 model in the U.S.

    "Given the huge impact that business deliveries and collections and professional drivers have on air quality and traffic congestion," said Gareth Dunsmore, Nissan Europe's electric-vehicle director, "helping cut the CO2 emissions they create is a vital part of creating a more sustainable future."

    Buyers in numerous European countries will be able to order the longer-range Nissan e-NV200 electric van before the end of this year.

    CHECK OUT: VW Westfalia Camper Van Spiritual Successor: Nissan e-NV200 Camper (Nov 2014)

    While Nissan has been testing earlier versions of the e-NV200 in the U.S. for a few years now, it has made no moves toward importing it for sale.

    Reasons likely include far cheaper gasoline in the U.S., lower sales for small commercial vehicles the size of the NV200, and longer and more unpredictable delivery routes and usage than in European city centers.

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    From: Eric10/5/2017 1:19:15 PM
       of 5890
    Costco members now get GM Supplier Pricing on Chevy Bolt EV, Volt

    Sean Szymkowski


    Oct 5, 2017

    2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

    Costco members in the market for a new vehicle now have a new round of incentives to consider as they head into the final car-buying months of 2017.

    Specifically, shoppers interested in a General Motors vehicle will discover Supplier Pricing on nearly every car—including the Chevrolet Bolt EV electric car and Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid.

    Even better news: buyers can combine that Supplier Pricing from Costco with nearly all other incentives available on a particular vehicle, including leasing and financing rebates.

    DON'T MISS: 2017 Chevy Bolt EV price: electric car starts at $37,495 before incentives (as promised)

    It's an understandable incentive as well: Costco members pay the factory invoice, plus a small program fee, and the no-haggle price is fixed.

    Buyers are still able to negotiate a lower price if they feel compelled, but many historically see the no-haggle price as a major benefit.

    Cars Direct reports the supplier pricing even extends to newly launched GM vehicles, such as the Chevrolet Equinox Diesel crossover utility vehicle.

    2018 Chevrolet Volt

    There are few exclusions; the only cars not eligible for Supplier Pricing include various base models that most dealers rarely stock.

    (Think of L-trimmed Chevrolet vehicles, which exist mostly for advertising purposes.)

    If an interested car shopper isn't currently a Costco member, the money saved through the incentive likely outweighs the membership fee to join the buyer's warehouse club.

    READ THIS: Driving a Chevy Bolt EV electric car halfway across the U.S.: what it takes

    Becoming a Costco member costs $60 annually for Gold status and $120 for Executive status.

    Executive members receive a 2-percent rebate on purchases, though it's capped at $1,000 annually so buying a car doesn't help boost that figure.

    To sweeten the deal, Costco will include a $300 Costco Cash Card for Gold members, and Executive members who purchase a GM vehicle through the program will receive a $700 cash card.

    2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV - 2016 Consumer Electronics Show

    California and other CARB-compliant states will likely see the best deals on the Bolt EV under the Costco program; lease rates and finance offers in these states continue to exceed national offers.

    The Bolt EV has seen steadily rising sales figures, despite launching nationwide just several weeks ago.

    September sales of the Bolt EV tallied 2,632 vehicles, which brings the running sales total to 14,302 units over nine months.

    CHECK OUT: Plug-in electric car sales for Sep: Bolt EV hits new monthly high (updated)

    Chevrolet's affordable electric car starts at $37,495 before federal tax credits up to $7,500 are applied.

    Costco and GM's Supplier Pricing will run one day past 2018; the offers expire on January 2, 2018.

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    From: Eric10/5/2017 1:24:38 PM
       of 5890
    New Flyer invests $25 million in Alabama plant, adds innovation center for ZEVs

    Posted October 3, 2017 by Charles Morris & filed under Newswire, The Vehicles.

    Transit bus and motor coach manufacturer New Flyer plans to invest $25 million in building renovations and expansions at its Anniston, Alabama production campus. Part of the investment will go towards an innovation center for zero-emission bus production.

    The company’s Xcelsior buses are offered with a range of drive systems, including diesel, natural gas, diesel-electric hybrid, trolley-electric, and battery-electric. Of the 44,000 New Flyer transit buses currently in service, 6,400 are powered by electric and/or battery propulsion.

    “We are extremely fortunate to have both local and state cooperation and support for this project,” said Wayne Joseph, President of New Flyer of America. “This investment in process efficiency, operational capacity, and technological development further elevates Anniston as a leading manufacturing site for zero-emission vehicles, and invests in jobs and infrastructure in Alabama.”

    “This investment not only enhances our technical capabilities, but also provides advanced air quality measures to provide the safest possible work environment for our team members,” added Kevin Wood, Senior Vice President of Manufacturing.

    Source: New Flyer

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    From: Eric10/6/2017 7:10:40 AM
       of 5890
    Honda Will Shutter A Japanese Factory To Shift Manufacturing Towards EVs

    15 hours ago by Mark Kane


    Honda Urban EV Concept

    Honda, needing to address a serious problem of domestic production overcapacity in Japan, has decided to close one of its plants – the 1964 Sayama Automobile Plant. The facility will close its doors by March 31, 2022.

    Honda Urban EV Concept

    Today’s production will be consolidated into the nearby Yorii Automobile Plant, which is much more efficient, and not surprisingly a much newer facility (opened in 2013).

    Both sites have the capacity to build 250,000 vehicles each, while overall, Honda’s capacity in Japan stands at 1.06 milion cars, but lowering that to ~800,000 would increase utilization from today’s low 76%.

    At the same time, the Yorii plant will become Honda’s global center for electrified vehicle.s The production processes will be then applied in other plants globally. States Automotive News:
    “Yorii will be positioned as a global center for electrified vehicle production. It will serve as a template for overseas manufacturing as Honda launches more hybrids and EVs overseas.

    A longtime EV skeptic, Honda announced in June that it had established an Electric Vehicle Development Division to create EVs based on dedicated all-electric platforms. That is a departure from Honda’s current stance.”
    Honda called the move an “evolution”.

    At the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show, Honda will present several new concept electric cars, including the new Sports EV Concept…although at this point we’d much rather see “production-intent” offerings on the show stand:

    Honda Sports EV Concept

    Press blast:

    Honda to Evolve its Automobile Production System and Capability in Japan Honda Motor Co., Ltd. today announced that the company will evolve its automobile production system and capability to further enhance Mono-zukuri (the art of making things/manufacturing) in Japan. In more concrete terms, Honda will pursue two key initiatives: to evolve production operations in Japan and to newly establish a function to evolve production technologies in Japan to be shared globally.

    Due to the rapid advance of new technologies such as electrification and intelligence technologies, the automobile industry is undergoing an unprecedented and significant turning point in its history. Anticipating major changes in automobile production, Honda will largely evolve its production operations in addition to product development operations.

    Since its foundation, Honda has been establishing the technologies and know-how of Mono-zukuri in Japan and then evolving them rapidly to operations outside Japan, where each region applies its own originality and ingenuity at the spot. This is how Honda has achieved growth on a global basis. However, from here forward, automobile manufacturers must be able to accommodate new technologies speedily, and therefore it became essential for Honda to further evolve its production function in Japan and establish a structure where Japan operations will lead the other Honda operations on a global basis.

    Based on this understanding of the situation, Honda will pursue the following initiatives.

    1. Evolving production operations in Japan

    While leveraging the respective strengths of automobile production plants in Japan, Honda will establish a production system and capability which will enhance Honda’s competitiveness.

    1) Saitama Factory:

    In order to accommodate the production of vehicles equipped with new technologies such as electrified vehicles, the automobile production of the Sayama Automobile Plant and Yorii Automobile Plant will be consolidated to the Yorii Automobile Plant, which employs the latest production technologies. This consolidation is expected to be completed by around fiscal year 2022 (fiscal year ending March 31, 2022).

    Production know-how involving new technologies will be amassed at the Yorii Automobile Plant and evolved from Japan, Honda’s Mono-zukuri leader, to Honda operations outside of Japan, which will establish a structure where Japan operations will lead other Honda operations on a global basis.

    Associates who are currently working at Sayama Automobile Plant will be transferred mainly to the Yorii Automobile Plant and fully utilize the production know-how they have amassed in their career.

    2) Suzuka Factory:

    Suzuka Factory will continue to establish technologies and know-how for producing highly-competitive mini-vehicles and also continue to play a role to evolve such production technologies and know-how horizontally to other Honda operations on a global basis.

    3) Yokkaichi Factory of Yachiyo Industry Co., Ltd. (Yachiyo)

    Striving to further increase the efficiency of producing low-volume-production models, which Honda is currently entrusting to Yachiyo, Honda and Yachiyo today signed a basic agreement to begin discussion toward making Yachiyo’s automobile assembly business a wholly-owned subsidiary of Honda.

    While leveraging the technologies and human resources amassed at Yachiyo, Honda will further increase efficiency by optimizing its low-volume production system and capability.

    The two companies will continue to discuss more details, such as the scope of Yachiyo business Honda will take over, and strive to reach a final agreement.

    2. Newly establishing a function to evolve global production technologies in Japan

    Within the Yorii Automobile Plant, Honda will newly establish a function to create, standardize and globally share new production technologies to accommodate new automotive technologies such as electrification technologies. Honda associates from production operations in each region will come together in Japan to jointly plan new production technologies and processes based on know-how amassed in Japan. Then, such production technologies and processes will be verified on the demonstration line built for this function, matured and then become standardized. Standardized production technologies and processes will be evolved horizontally to other Honda operations on a global basis so that Honda can launch high-quality new products to the market speedily.

    Moreover, through this function, Honda will further develop and foster global human resources.

    Through these initiatives, Honda will further strengthen and significantly evolve its automobile production system and capability in Japan to reinforce its automobile business structure.

    source: Automotive News

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    From: Eric10/6/2017 7:35:52 AM
       of 5890
    EVs and storage: Lithium’s wild ride and why it will be bigger than LNG

    By David Leitch on 6 October 2017

    Wild thing, I think you move me” The Troggs cover 1966

    Always be gneiss and you’ll ever be taken for granite” – 1960s high school geology joke (thanks Mr Gilchrist it’s the only thing I ever remembered from Geology)

    It’s a boomer out the back – $1.5 billion to $9 billion lithium market in a decade

    A bit over a year ago we had a first look at the lithium market. Since then what already looked exciting has become ever more so.

    Three factors are driving the surge in optimism:
    1. The total cost of ownership [TCO] of, say, a Chevy Bolt, especially in Europe is already within 5% of the cost of a VW TSI Golf.
    2. Various government policy announcements have been very, very bullish.
    3. In the real world we can observe 38% growth for the first six months of the year and there are signs of acceleration. On the basis of these factors we say…
    The lithium market is expected to grow from about US$1.5 billion in 2016 to maybe US$9 billion by 2025.

    The current growth rate of the EV segment is 40% per year. Despite the seemingly endless new supply options, the reality so far has been that commissioning new lithium facilities has lagged well behind budget. In fact, we see by far the main challenge for the sector is keeping up with demand.

    As a result lithium carbonate battery grade (the main product) prices could stay higher for longer (always a risky conclusion), and it is currently over US$10,00 per tonne. Canaccord Genuity forecasts prices averaging over US$10,00 a tonne out to 2025. Lithium represents only a small part of a battery cost.

    At the growth rates we discuss in this note that will require perhaps US$10-US$12 bn of investment just for the lithium extraction capacity. That estimate is based on Roskill US$12,500/t LCE capex and a Lithium Carbonate market perhaps as much as 1 mtpa by 2026.

    Those same numbers suggest that about 750 GWh of battery making capacity is required. That’s about 20 of the Tesla 35 GWh super factories and that first one was $5 billion, so you can expect up to US$80 -US$100 billion of investment in battery factories.

    Those numbers are comparable with investment in total Australasian LNG manufacturing capacity. A key but unpublished number in the below table is the KWh of storage per EV.

    We see this going to an average of 50 KWh by 2025. That could easily be too high and perhaps 35-40 KWh as an average would be better. Our thinking is that range anxiety is the second highest concern after car price and that as battery cost comes down manufacturers will address concerns via bigger batteries.

    Figure 1: Lithium Carbonate supply & demand. Source: ITK adapted from Deutsche

    EV & PHEV sales to total over 5 million by 2021 – It’s happening

    In our view are one of the few organisations keeping global data on EV vehicle sales, by region and by model, and also keeping associated battery chemistry sales records.

    We choose to adopt their forecasts, even though they are at the upper end, because we think they are closer to the data. estimate is for about 5X growth in total EV passenger car sales between 2017 and 2021. This would imply a slight acceleration in the annual growth rate.

    We would not use higher numbers than those of but we do think there is a good case for using higher than consensus numbers as at the moment at least forecasters tend to be revising up.

    UBS, for instance, is significantly lower than us in 2021 in its May estimates, due to lower numbers from China. However, since May China has firmed up policy.

    Even hybrid volumes are expected to triple but the real growth is in fully electric vehicles [BEVs].

    Figure 6 EV sales forecasts. Source:

    The following chart gives an indication of the regional numbers making up this forecast. If we had to question the numbers, it would be in the USA where despite the Tesla Model 3 and despite the Chevy Bolt, economics are relatively unfavourable for EVs.

    That in turn mainly relates to the USA not taxing petrol consumption in the way that virtually every other country in the world does.

    Figure 7: Regional forecasts of EV sales. Source: EV

    2017 H1 Global EV sales up 38%. Not all EVs use big batteries

    Similar growth rates are seen in all three major markets despite policy differences.

    Figure 5: Plug in car sales. Source:

    There is some data that suggests acceleration in the monthly numbers. For instance in Europe July was up 54% and August 69%. EVvolumes expect 0.5 m sales in China for the full year.

    Many of the Chinese cars are small for instance the number 2 selling car in China in August was the Zhidou D2 Ev with just a 12 KWh battery.

    Figure 8 Zhidou 120 km range, 90 kph max speed (down hill). Source: cleantechnica

    Total cost of ownership

    [TCO] the major tipping point UBS Electric vehicle research lead by Patrick Hummel is fantastically interesting. Your author had the pleasure of taking a very minor role on some of Patrick’s reports when he covered utilities prior to taking up the car manufacturing analysis role and in my opinion his research was the most interesting to read of any UBS analyst on any sector.

    In May 2017 UBS published a ground breaking piece of research, as reported by RenewEconomy, that covered a “teardown”, by a specialist company, of the Chevy Bolt.

    As discussed below, the teardown revealed a battery cost lower than expected. The teardown report was supplemented by an earlier online (2016) global survey of 9400 qualified people looking at the key concerns of consumers about BEVs [battery electric vehicles]. The main concerns were:

    Figure 9: Consumer concerns about BEV. Source: UBS survey, 2016

    EV manufacturers are addressing both of the two main concerns, purchase price and range. Access to plug in stations is very easily solved once suppliers decide there is a market.

    TCO based on 3 year lease with 50% residual

    Cost can be thought about in many ways, initial purchase cost v life time cost, consumer v manufacturer perspective, environmental cost. Here we focus on Total cost of ownership. UBS compares a Chevy Bolt v VW TSI Golf.

    A 3 year lease, 50% residual model is used and the best comparison is found in Europe. Even in 2017 using the UBS data (partly confirmed by my own calculations) the TCO of the Golf is very close to the Bolt.

    In bearing the below in mind the note of caution is that Bolt sales in the USA have climbed to 2632 in Sep 2017 or a 31 K annual rate from about a 12K rate in January, but this is still a tiny number relative to say Model 3 expectations of say 30K a month.

    Figure 10: TCO, Bolt v Golf. Source: UBS

    The Bolt initial purchase cost (US$37 k) , and along with other electric vehicles, is expected to come down about $/Euro 1000 per year or about 4% until say 2025.

    The key source of cost reduction is batteries. We show selected numbers from the UBS analysis. Note the relative share of the inverter cost. Total cost comes down by about 1/3 over 8 years. A good improvement, but when utility PV costs fell 30% last year, hardly out of the ordinary.

    Figure 11: Selected Chevy Bolt costs and forecasts. Source: UBS

    The cell reduction costs comes from a change in chemistry (using less cobalt) and a change in energy density (less materials needed) as well as general manufacturing improvements.

    Household battery buyers look at the above numbers and weep

    A Tesla Powerwall 2 is A$8200 before GST & installation or A$607 KWh, so let’s call it US$500 KWh. That’s more than double the per KWh cost of a car battery which, using all the components in Fig 11 ,works to US$230 KWh.

    Undoubtedly the inverter for household use costs more, but we still see that household batteries can come down a long way based on the above comparison

    Global policy development brings manufacturing switch acceleration

    Various Government/Regulators/manufacturers have made stronger than ever statements of intent in 2017.
    • In Germany regulators have mandated all electric vehicle sales to be fully-electric by 2030 (3.4 m cars)
    • France’s ecology minister (imagine one of those in Australia) has announced an end to the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040
    • In Great Britain a similar policy has been adopted.
    • Volvo will only make electric vehicles from 2019
    • VW has targeted 1 m electric car sales by 2025
    • China has adopted legislation requiring 8% of vehicle sales to be electric increasing to 12% by 2020 (2.2 m cars). These shares are measured in NEV [New energy vehicle] permits. 1 NEV permit is equal to 4 fossil vehicle permits which means that in reality the 12% target is actually about 3.4%. That’s still a lot of EVs
    These are big announcements but in stockmarkets 2040 is an eternity away and even 2020 is hopefully a lot further away than the next bonus. The discount rate is about 20% for this.

    Carbon and other emissions are driving policy

    Policy towards EVs is so supportive partly because oil is around 1/3 of and the second largest contributor to global CO2 emissions, and partly because EVs provide fuel security. EVs are quieter, well suited to city commuting, including the use of busses and likely play well to autonomous driving trends.

    Figure 3: Global carbon emissions. Source: CDIAC, 2014 latest data

    The growth in battery electric vehicles, is not just in cars. In China at least busses are converting to electric, and a bus needs about 3X-4X bigger battery pack compared to say a Tesla Model 3. Electric bikes are becoming far more prevalent, even in Australia.

    All this is producing a massive spike in the demand for the lithium. As such it represents one of the few ways for Australian investors in Australian share markets to get exposure to decarbonization themes.

    Australia lead by the National Party is an ostrich on vehicle policy

    Australia light vehicle emission standard is 1 gC/lm based on the Euro 5 standard. A ministerial forum was convened in December 2015 to consider tighter standards.

    The proposed policy had the potential to increase fuel efficiency, saving consumers up to $500 per year and potentially reducing carbon emissions in Australia by as much as 10%. Following release of the proposed policy it became clear the Federal Govt. did not have enough internal support to get the policy mandated. What a disgrace.

    As a result no final paper has been released by the forum. That said, QLD has just announced the Electric Vehicle Superhighway.

    We have some of the dirtiest petrol in the world, are totally dependent on imports but its doubtful if senior members of the National Party, eg Ron Boswell, would even recognize a Tesla if it ran over him in the street.

    Any mention of carbon is censored more strongly by the Federal Government than a Chinese netizen talking about personal freedom would be in Beijing. Still in the same way that Canute couldn’t hold back the tide the National Party won’t be able to hold back the wave of change sweeping the world and EVs are an important part of that.

    Moving on to the lithium supply bottleneck

    In our view supply considerations are the biggest bottleneck to the emerging growth forces for BEVs. We think the market has strongly underestimated the amount of new supply and investment in both lithium and battery manufacturing capacity.

    For years investors have worried about over supply of lithium but this is not what we see. To us it seems like manufacturing lithium has so far proved to be a relatively difficult process with projects late and over budget to an extent. As global production goes up learning rates should drive costs down and this will bear watching.

    Roskill, in a quite optimistic May presentation talking about the 1 MTPA future Lithium market noted the following head and tailwinds.

    Headwinds Tailwinds
    End of, or reduction in, incentive schemes; vehicle prices Cost reduction in battery and EV drive components
    low oil prices CO2, SOX, NOX mandates/ city national targets
    Supply Chain constraints Simpler design and build large scale battery factories
    Raw material availability Improved efficiency & recovery, upstream investment
    Charging infrastructure Network expansion, improved range
    Range Improving cell performance
    Availability Greater number of models
    Lower car ownership Shared services like autonomous driving more suited to Evs
    Look/feel of ICE models Younger drivers more used to high-tech
    Figure 4: Roskill pros & cons for elecrtric vehicles. Source: Roskill

    Australia remains a “digger” and financier

    Australia presently supplies about 35% of the world’s lithium, in hard rock “spodumene” form. The ore is further processed, mainly in China, to produce Lithium Carbonate. It’s presently more capital expensive, but lower overall cost, and arguably more environmentally friendly, to produce lithium carbonate from evaporating brines.

    These brines can be found in South America for the most part and a number of Australian listed companies are active in the South American market including Galaxy Resources and Orecobre.

    The relative LRMC advantage of the brine producers over spoduemene hard rock processors is somewhat under question due to the higher spec (99% lithium carbonate) grade required for batteries and the extra processing cost required to produce this grade at brine facilities.

    The listed lithium sector in Australia has a market cap of around A$4 bn, still small but growing rapidly. We do not distinguish or comment on the merits or otherwise of any of these stocks. Investors are cautioned to do their own research.

    Figure 2 Selected Lithium focused stocks. Source: Factset, prices as of Oct 5

    Raw materials used in lithium batteries

    We take our numbers from Argonne Labs BatpaC model. However most of the estimates for lithium production and sales are measured in lithium carbonate Li2CO3. 0.8 kg of Li2CO3 =

    Figure 12: Raw materials in lithium car batteries

    Lithium reserves by geography and deposit type

    Lithium carbonate of battery grade (99.5%) can be produced in two ways.
    1. By evaporating brines and then purifying via solvent extraction absorption and ionic exchange followed by recrystallisation. About 75% of the global lithium reserves are in brine form with Chile the largest single source.

    Figure 13: Lithium process chemistry. Source: Deutsche from Swiaowska 2015

    2. Spodumene deposits are recovery via open pit mining and “beneficiated” via gravity to produce a 6% Lithium Carbonate grade. The concentrate is then typically shipped to China to a converter where it is roasted, leached and ion exchanged to produce 98% or 99% Lithium carbonate About 19% of global lithium resources are Spodumene and about 11% of global total lithium resources are in Australia.
    Disclosure. The author of this note is the beneficial owner of shares in lithium miner Orecobre.

    David Leitch is principal of ITK. He was formerly a Utility Analyst for leading investment banks over the past 30 years. The views expressed are his own. Please note our new section, Energy Markets, which will include analysis from Leitch on the energy markets and broader energy issues. And also note our live generation widget, and the APVI solar contribution.

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