Release Date: 06/25/18
In this week’s roundup of Electric Vehicle (EV) news, we focus on the continued promise of better batteries, the excitement building around the launch of Jag’s new all electric SUV, the I-Pace, Uber jumping into urban electrification and how batteries are effecting the future of electricity.
Battery news: Batteries are, in our mind, the critical piece of the EV tech puzzle. Not only is battery price the key variable in the ultimate sales price of an EV, improving energy density, fire safety, charge times and the number charge cycles the battery can handle are key to the attractiveness of EV’s to the consumer. In the last 12 months, there has been a huge uptick in investment in batteries by both VC firms and automakers. The latest piece of news is that VW is investing in QuantumScape, a solid-state battery startup that was spun off from Stanford. There has been promising news that solid-state batteries have significantly faster charge times and can store 2-3 times the amount of energy of a traditional lithium-ion battery, last for over 23,000 charge cycles and have none of the fire risk of the current batteries. However, no one has been able to show that they can take prototypes into mass production levels. VW seeks to bring its expertise in production to scale up the production of QuantumScape’s batteries with a target production date of 2025. electrek ("Volkswagen becomes latest automaker to invest in solid-state batteries for electric cars".)
EV car news. The excitement around the launch of the Jaguar I-Pace, an all-electric SUV, is bordering on hysteria. Petrol heads in all the major car review publications are raving about its handling, acceleration, interior, spaciousness and quietness. Elon Musk has been successful in marketing the Tesla range of cars but has burned through billions of dollars and can barely produce 100,000 cars per year. As one reviewer put it: “[t]hank you very much, Elon, for setting the table. Now, while you build tent city factories and pick stupid Twitter fights, the OEMs and their supply chains that reach to Jupiter and back are going to eat the food right off your plate.” It seems that Jaguar is first of the OEM’s to the table. As we have mentioned before, consumers won’t buy EV’s just because they are green. They will buy EV’s because they represent a superior technology to the internal combustion engine (ICE). By the way, the I-Pace is $15,000 cheaper than the equivalent Tesla X.
Uber moves toward electrification: Uber has launched a yearlong pilot program to provide incentives for its drivers to switch to EV’s, targeting 5 million trips in the next 12 months. “We see the writing on the wall,” Adam Gromis, Uber’s head of sustainability, told the Los Angeles Times. “Unless we can be delivering a more efficient form of mobility, we won’t be providing a good solution that cities need. That’s why we’ve gone into bikes. That’s why we’re working with transit. That’s why we’re focused on electrification.”
Colorado joins the battle against the EPA. Colorado has joined the 12-state consortium that follows California’s air quality rules rather than the federal EPA. Under the Clean Air Act, California was allowed to set its own standards. Other states can either follow California’s standards or the looser federal standards, but they cannot establish their own standards. Colorado, a traditional pro-coal mining and oil state, made the move in response to the EPA’s May announcement that it intends to loosen the fuel economy standards set by the EPA under the Obama administration. Of the states that follow California, 9 also follow its target for zero emission EV’s. Given the car buying market those 9 states represent, that mandate is one of the reasons EV’s became an established option. It is not yet clear whether Colorado will also follow California’s zero emission targets, but it has been one of the states that has provided an integrated plan to developing charger infrastructure. https://www.greencarreports.com/news/1117312_colorado-moves-to-follow-californias-low-emissions-air-quality-rules
Half of electric production will be from renewables. A couple of weeks ago, we discussed the report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) predicting that 50% of new car sales would be EV’s by 2050. In a new report, they predict that half of world’s electric production will be from wind and solar, largely driven by the advances in battery storage ability and falling costs for batteries. Successfully linking battery storage to renewable production allows utility companies to better manage grid demand and reduce the need for backup power generation from carbon-based fuels. “The future electricity system will reorganize around cheap renewables," said Elena Giannakopoulou, head of energy economics at BNEF.