Tag Archives: EVs

EV tipping point is getting closer, and Exxon is beginning to worry

Last fall, I interviewed John Mitchell, an associate research fellow with Chatham House and a guy who knows his stuff when it comes to energy transitions. One quote I used from him — in an article I wrote for Corporate Knights— really stood out for me: “For oil, the Kodak moment will be when somebody produces a low-cost battery, as that will change the transport market profoundly.”

Mitchell didn’t mention a specific price-point, but a number I’ve heard tossed around as the likely tipping point is $100 per kilowatt-hour. At that price it’s believed electric cars can easily outcompete gas-fuelled vehicles by pretty much every measure. Tesla’s chief technology officer JB Straubel said last year that he expected that $100 target to be hit by the end of this decade.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance says it expects battery cell packs for battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) to average less than $120 kWh by 2030. Colin Mckerracher, BNEF’s head of advanced transportation, had a post on Twitter last week featuring an interesting slide from a Ford investor presentation. Ford, according to the slide, thinks its battery cells for BEVs can hit $120 kWh in 2020 and projects costs hitting $95 by 2025 and $85 by 2030. BNEF will be updating its price survey next quarter, Mckerracher tells me.*

Finally, we can’t let the week go by without pointing to the soon-to-be-launched GM Chevy Bolt, which we learned will have a range of 238 miles (383 kilometres) between charges. It has been reported that the batteries used in the Bolt come in at $145 kWh. The car will still be priced in the high $30,000 range, but the fact a mainstream carmaker like GM is hitting this range at this price point in 2016 is nothing short of phenomenal, and in my opinion should silence all the EV haters who have dismissed the technology and its potential. Did they really believe that EV tech as reported in 2010 would never change, never get better, never get more affordable?

electric_busAnd let’s not obsess over just cars. Buses and big trucks, previously considered off limits to battery technology, are now being eyed as potential markets. Elon Musk, in Part Deux of his Master Plan, cited plans in July for a “Tesla Semi” unveiling next year and a desire to get into “high passenger-density urban transport” — i.e. buses. A Michigan-based company called Nikola Motor Co. is coming out with its own electric drive semi-trucks fuelled by hydrogen, while Proterra has a bus that can go 350 miles (564 km) on a single charge.

No wonder Exxon Mobil has beefed up its anti-EV lobbying. The company is getting worried. It sees the trend line, and it knows what this means for its core business. The only stalling tactic it has at this point is to continue feeding the public an increasingly tired line: EVs and their batteries need further development and cost-reductions to be competitively viable on a large scale.

It’s hogwash, of course. At some point within the next decade, Exxon executives are going to have to turn to the camera and smile for their Kodak moment.

*Paragraph has been updated from earlier version.

Episode 5 of the Clean Break Podcast

In Episode 5 of the Clean Break podcast, host Tyler Hamilton, returning after a long break (hey, it’s cottage time), discusses Ontario’s heat wave, applauds record Chevy Volt sales in Canada, and wonders why a small slice of EV purchase incentives don’t go to the auto dealerships that sell the cars. This shorter-than-usual podcast concludes with an interview with Phil Abrary, president and CEO of Vancouver-based Ostara Nutrient Recovery Technologies, one of Canada’s most successful pure-play cleantech companies.

 

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Electric car naysayers are sadly misinformed about EV potential

My Clean Break column is a defense of electric vehicles, which are often dissed by auto reviewers who can’t wrap their heads around a world not dominated by noisy, smelly, polluting vehicles. Yes, the internal combustion engine can become and is becoming more efficient. Yes, the internal combustion engine will be here for decades to come. But electric vehicles, despite the pronouncements of some skeptics, will not be dead on arrival. What these folks fail to take into account is that many of the problems associated right now with electric vehicles are likely to be overcome within the next 10 or 20 years as the rate of adoption begins to pick up. The amount of innovation going on in this area is unprecedented, and the benefits will become clear enough by 2020. Nobody is claiming electric vehicles will completely take over. Nobody is saying the adoption of electric cars will be quick. But electric cars are coming — get used to it — and the world will be a better place for it.

It’s time to stop stubbornly clinging to the past.

Vehicle-to-grid innovator gets scooped up by GridPoint

Arlington, Virg.-based GridPoint Inc., a leading smart grid platform developer, has acquired a small Seattle company called V2Green, which is leading the charge — excuse the pun — toward grid-vehicle interaction as electric-car development gathers momentum. Basically V2Green has “smart charge” software that will synchronize the charging of electric vehicles that connect to the grid, aided by an on-board vehicle communications device that talks/negotiates with the power utility when an EV is plugged in. Continue reading Vehicle-to-grid innovator gets scooped up by GridPoint

Better Place in talks with Ontario

I have a story in today’s Toronto Star about exploratory talks taking place between the Ontario government’s ministry of economic development and Better Place, the Shai Agassi venture that has electric-vehicle infrastructure projects on the go in Israel and Denmark. Sean Harrington, head of global development at Palo Alto, Calif.-based Better Place, said Ontario and the Toronto region specifically is a “good fit” for the Better Place model because of the high population density in the area — 5 million people within a 180-kilometre radius. He said talks are preliminary but that there’s already an effort underway to find a car manufacturer willing to participate in “Better Place Ontario” by locally manufacturing electric cars for such a project. Continue reading Better Place in talks with Ontario