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The Electrical Vehicle Revolution Keeps Expanding

While we often highlight the harmful impacts of fossil fuel burning in the form of ongoing crises like sea level rise and increasingly extreme weather, it’s important to keep shining a light on the fact that there are various climate change solutions available to us now. These solutions come in the form of policies and technologies presently at hand. A key solution being the ongoing renewable energy revolution.

A major aspect of this revolution is expanding access to clean energy vehicles and the high energy density batteries that drive their electric motors (see batteries will kill fossil fuels). Though we like to highlight the sustainability advantages of Tesla’s all-renewable business model, there are a number of other automakers who are also contributing. And these producers are manufacturing some increasingly kick-ass clean energy machines.

This widening field produces healthy competition between EV companies even as it results in greater overall appeal for electrical transportation in general. We covered Jaguar’s new I-Pace last week — which is a smaller competitor to the Model X (or maybe it’s not much of a competitor). But one that features high quality, a lower base price of around 70,000 dollars, (down from earlier estimates in the 80s) comparable range and rapid acceleration.

(Hyundai’s Kona SUV is expected to start selling in Europe, Korea and possibly the U.S. later this year.)

Another new high-quality, long-legged entry to the small EV SUV arena is the Hyundai Kona. Reported to have a range between 186 and 292 miles, the Kona is Hyundai’s second EV following the Ioniq. And it’s expected to launch in Europe and South Korea this spring to summer with a hopeful U.S. release for later this year. Like the I-Pace, it’s projected to sell about 20,000 units each year worldwide. But unlike the Jag and the X, it will probably have a sticker price that’s quite a bit lower than $70,000 to $100,000 (no firm word yet on cost). Though Hyundai recently poked fun at Tesla with a billboard, placing its hat in the ring as yet another ‘Tesla competitor,’ Kona is a smaller, slower SUV with a 0-60 acceleration of 9 seconds. But Kona’s sleek exterior and long range prove that you don’t have to travel at ludicrous speed to be attractive.

It’s worth adding that the increasing ranges and capabilities of these new gen EVs are quite compelling overall. The cars are a big jump forward and, in many respects, they’re better than the fossil fuel based vehicles they’re actually competing with (despite all the talk-talk about Tesla killers). Given the fact that billions and billions of dollars are presently being invested in EVs around the globe, we are likely to see a good many more high-quality EV models produced in a number of years.

(EV sales north of 16,000 during February [not yet illustrated] is a big jump that hints at a break-out year for U.S. electrical auto sales. Image source: Inside EVs.)

Not only are big automakers like Volkswagen and Porsche announcing new concept EVs with increasing frequency even as actual models keep coming out from an expanding list of companies, we also have all-electric start-ups jumping into the fray. Notably the China-backed NIO brand just made a $2 billion dollar IPO on the New York Stock Exchange. And, meanwhile, Dyson is backing its own electrical car division — with three clean energy autos on the drawing board so far.

The proliferation of EVs is already having a big impact on U.S. sales. Just during February of 2018, 16,489 electrical cars sold in the U.S. This is up considerably from the record 12,375 sold during the same month of 2017 and is even a big jump from earlier estimates near 14,000. One driver of this increase is rising Model 3 sales. But there’s also a nice fat tail coming in from the expanding number of high quality EVs selling in the range of 250 to 1,000 units per month.

The flow of new offerings from the clean energy revolution in autos is thus starting to look more and more like a fire-hose. And it’s about to get faster.

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34 Comments

  1. Yup, every one of those EVs and phevs sold is making a difference. Not only by signalling to battery manufacturers to build factories post haste, dropping the prices of batteries even more, but by dropping oil demand. Once the electrified trucks and buses get going too (and ferries in Europe too!), it’ll just take a small drop in global oil demand (2% maybe?) to cause a significant dent in oil company market capitalization. Investors will realize oil co reserves might not be a sure thing in the future.

    Their profits and their political clout will drop. Not fast enough, but they will.

    The Kona will soon be joined by the new Leaf, the Kia Niro, a longer range Kia Soul, and a bunch more. Not to mention the Chinese efforts. Very exciting.

    Liked by 1 person

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    • Actually, the new 151 mile range Leaf is already selling. Nearly 900 in February. Production still ramping. It might give the Model 3 a run if Tesla production lags in the next month or two. But I think the 3 will ramp through end of March.

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      • bill h

         /  March 10, 2018

        Re my comment below 151 miles IS a reliable estimate for the new Leaf! The 39 kWh Kona’s real-world range is probably similar.

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        • Per reports, Kona is expected to produce medium and long range versions. The shorter range Kona is like to be closer to the Leaf. Longer range appears to be 240 US. The variance above is due to uncertainty in battery pack size given multiple inconsistent reports.

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        • Mblanc

           /  March 11, 2018

          Thanks for the mileage/range discussion, I kept seeing WLTP mentioned, and hadn’t quite worked out what it all meant.

          Bit disappointed with the constant references to competing with Tesla. Now I’m looking for that line, it is quite glaring, and jarring. I suppose the Tesla’s are all the public really knows, when it comes to EV’s, so the comparison is obvious

          I’m hoping that 20k number is just the initial build/1st year, because Kia is a proper high volume manufacturer (unlike Jaguar). The South Koreans have been some of the most responsive and light-footed of the old companies in recent years, so I am hoping for very competitive pricing and relatively rapid scale up. Perhaps being close to some big battery players will also help.

          Interesting speculation from Marcel about when we will see an effect on oil consumption. Sadly overall Co2 efficiency is declining here in the UK, because diesel sales are dropping fast. Hopefully this will turn around soon, as buyers move towards greater electrical power.

          The list of available EV models at the start of 2018 and the end should make comforting reading, and with the likes of NIO and Dyson arriving without those difficult legacy issues, I’m balancing hope and fear better than a few years ago.

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  2. bill h

     /  March 10, 2018

    A word of warning about the claims about range of EVs. There seem to be two globally recognised standards here: the US (EPA?) and EU standards on mileage rates (i.e distance per unit of energy/fuel consumed). The EU standard tells you what mileage you can expect if you travel at, IIRC, a steady 25 mph in a straight line, i.e.what nobody actually does. The US standard is for a real world scenario of stops and starts and plenty of turns. Not surprisingly they give very different values. For instance my 24 kWh NIssan Leaf is specified by the EU standard as having a range of 125 miles, while the US standard gives only 85 miles. My guess is that the Hyundai Kona range that Robert mentions is that defined by the EU standard: its real world range is probably only about 2/3 of this.

    Unfortunately, there seem to be plenty of salespeople and advertisements providing misleading range information, See, for instance: https://www.aol.co.uk/cars/2018/01/30/labour-mp-condemns-electric-vehicle-manufacturers-for-systemati/

    Sadly, ethical products are just as prone to dishonest sales pitches as any other products.

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    • Marcel

       /  March 10, 2018

      Bill, it’s true the Euro standard (nedc) and the Japanese standards are definitely misleading. There is a new Euro std called something like WLTP which is closer to the EPA version, but still a bit high. The Korean std is AFAIK pretty close to the EPA.

      Since Hyundai lists useable capacity though, unlike Nissan, who list full capacity including buffer, Hyundai’s 39kwh is actually quite a bit more than Nissan’s. Given that the Ioniq is super efficient, the Kona might be too, so they might be able to get close to those numbers on the EPA cycle.

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      • Slower acceleration indicates that Kona is optimized for efficiency. I think the 39 kWh battery will range closer to 190 in EPA. A larger pack in the range of 70 kWh is also referenced in some reports. Hence the wide range variance above.

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        • bill h

           /  March 10, 2018

          Robert, the Leaf gives you a choice of “throttling back” the acceleration – the ECO mode – in order to optimise “fuel” economy. It is in this mode that it is able to achieve its advertised mileages.

          Marcel, you’re right that not all the NIssan’s stated battery capacity is available for actually moving the car: I believe 2.5 kWh is required for all the other functions. Even so this doesn’t explain the Kona’s considerably greater range. If they really can achieve that it is a huge selling point.

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    • When available, we use the US standard. Kona appears to be 240 US, but this is unconfirmed. I-Pace is in a similar range. New Leaf is 151 US.

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  3. OT, but some rare figures on the cost and effects of using enhanced weathering of rock (crushing and spreading) to absorb atmospheric CO2. Not encouraging.
    Enhanced weathering of rocks can help to pull CO2 out of the air — a little.
    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180306101711.htm

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  4. wharf rat

     /  March 10, 2018

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  5. wharf rat

     /  March 10, 2018

    5-hour climate change lesson will be first for federal court

    San Francisco and Oakland are battling the world’s oil giants in federal court for knowingly producing fossil fuels whose emissions have triggered sea level rise. The two coastal cities argue that oil companies — including BP, ExxonMobil, and Shell — should foot the bill for hugely expensive infrastructure defenses to hold back rising waters — such as formidable sea walls.

    And now — for the first time — a federal judge will listen as both sides present their understanding of climate science and the causes of global warming before the court. The hearing, referred to by the judge as a “tutorial,” will address at least 14 specific questions that U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup asked both sides on Feb. 27.

    https://mashable.com/2018/03/09/first-ever-federal-court-climate-science-hearing/#4oJB.qNdhOqN

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    • It’s good that we’re seeing these kinds of discussions in federal court. We’re likely to see a good deal more. Although, if we start to get public nuisance hearings down at the state level, especially in California, it’s really bad news for the oil industry and really good news for pretty much everyone else.

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  6. Genomik

     /  March 10, 2018

    Maybe one of these days fusion will materialize. I’m not holding my breath but it would be a game changer.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/09/nuclear-fusion-on-brink-of-being-realised-say-mit-scientists?CMP=share_btn_fb

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    • https://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/news/science-tech/laser-boron-fusion-now-%E2%80%98leading-contender%E2%80%99-energy

      Just the engineering side, no radioactive fuel, no radiation apart from the output of pure electrons which uncontrolled is radiation, but that is what magnetic fields etc are for.
      No massive cooling or steam turbines.

      Potentially commercial models in operation within 20 years and humungously cheaper and simpler to build and operate than New Gen Fission or Tokomak Fusion, maybe cheaper than gas or coal plants to build and certainly to operate

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    • The interesting bit in that article to me is the superconductor – think “wiring” for transportation and energy transmission.
      Still using the Hydrogen approach which does produce radiation and still a steam generator/turbine power generation with all the added bulk and complexity and water provision and cooling required. Wont power a space ship or aircraft or small to medium shipping or a colony on Mars without plenty of water and cooling

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  7. Genomik

     /  March 10, 2018

    I’m just going to nominate California as the state most damaged by climate change. Might even ‘win’ for global catastrophe area. We have already had extensive drought killing 90 million trees, record setting fires all over and now Americas bread basket might be producing less bread.

    Not too make light of a bad situation and many other areas have had it tough as well (Portugal, Himalayas, australia) but California has been getting hit on a variety of fronts and I anticipate more trees dying as well as a variety of other damages including what the article mentions.

    A lot of irony here as California is the Golden State and folks come here for the nature but most of its nature may literally become golden as it dies from drought.

    http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-climate-agriculture-20180309-story.html

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  8. Andy_in_SD

     /  March 11, 2018

    Cumulative annual mean mass balance for glaciers (plus ref glaciers) on the world glacier monitoring service.

    Note: “mm w. e.” mean millimeters water equivalent.

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  9. Andy_in_SD

     /  March 11, 2018

    If you are interested in glacial loss, this interactive tools allows you to view the data (graphed over observations) for numerous glaciers world wide.

    http://wgms.ch/fogbrowser/

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  10. Andy_in_SD

     /  March 11, 2018

    A superb site with plenty of before / after’s of glacial retreat. The compares also include arrows denoting important feature changes.

    https://blogs.agu.org/fromaglaciersperspective/

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  11. Greg

     /  March 11, 2018

    “Life cannot just be about solving one miserable problem after another – that can’t be the only thing. There need to be things that inspire you, that make you glad to wake up in the morning and be part of humanity.” Elon Musk

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    • I’m personally inspired by human progress and by that uniquely human spirit that sends our eyes toward the far horizon. Both awe and advancement are driven by that same indelible force — the ability to look beyond, to imagine something more. New lands, new frontiers, and indeed, new solutions to old problems. It is by that same faculty that we both overcome difficulty and achieve that wondrous world in which we all deserve to live.

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  12. Andy_in_SD

     /  March 12, 2018

    Once last bit of ice by Petermann Glacier, and the channel Is open up all around Greenland… already. And this is at the freeze maximum (mid March). Not good at all.

    http://www.arctic.io/explorer/8/2018-03-11/8-N79.50822-W71.72622

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  13. kassy

     /  March 12, 2018

    Unravelling the mystery of ice ages using ancient molecules
    March 12, 2018, Cardiff University

    In a new study published in the journal Nature Communications, the team have shown for the first time that ice ages, occurring every 100,000 years, are accompanied by a rapid build-up of sea ice in the Earth’s oceans.

    Our planet’s ice ages used to occur at intervals of every 40,000 years, which made sense to scientists as the Earth’s seasons vary in a predictable way, with colder summers occurring at these intervals. However there was a point, about a million years ago, called the ‘Mid-Pleistocene transition’, in which the ice age intervals changed from every 40,000 years to every 100,000 years.

    Their results showed that at the same time as the cycles of ice ages changed from 40,000 years to 100,000 years there was a distinct increase in sea ice extent and a change in the rhythm of sea ice build-up across climate cycles.

    “Prior to the Mid-Pleistocene transition, sea ice build-up and decay during ice ages was more gradual, whereas in the late Pleistocene, when the cyclicity of ice ages changed, we observed conditions characterised by a prominent short-lived peak in sea ice extent during late ice ages,” said Henrieka Detlef, a postgraduate researcher at Cardiff University School of Earth and Ocean Sciences who led the study.

    With less water evaporating into the atmosphere, there would be less moisture being transported to continental glaciers which, in turn, would cause them to retreat and help in the transition from an ice age to a warm period.

    “It’s clear that sea ice plays a fundamental role in the transition from an ice age into a warm stage every 100,000 years,” Detlef continued.

    https://phys.org/news/2018-03-unravelling-mystery-ice-ages-ancient.html

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  14. wharf rat

     /  March 12, 2018

    Three California Gas Plants to Shut Thanks to State’s Green Push
    March 9, 2018, 12:41 PM PST

    The Golden State is increasingly inhospitable to fossil-fuel power plants.

    In the latest development, NRG Energy Inc. plans to shutter three old gas-fired power plants in California, according to a Sierra Club statement Friday. The plants are operated by the company’s GenOn unit, which is expected to be spun off under a bankruptcy agreement that was approved last year.

    GenOn intends to shut down the Etiwanda plant in Rancho Cucamonga as of June 1. The Ormond Beach facility in Oxnard is slated to go dark as of Oct. 1 and the Ellwood site in Goleta is set to close as of Jan. 1 of next year. An NRG spokeswoman declined to comment Friday.

    California regulators are pushing utilities to ditch gas-fired power plants for clean-energy projects amid a state-wide effort to cut their greenhouse-gas emissions in half by 2030 from 2015 levels. In January, the California Public Utilities Commission approved an order that requires PG&E Corp., the state’s biggest utility, to change the way it supplies power when demand peaks, by using batteries or other non-fossil fuel resources.

    “Closing these plants is more proof that clean energy is driving gas out of California,” Evan Gillespie, a Sierra Club campaign manager, said in the statement.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-09/three-california-gas-plants-to-shut-thanks-to-state-s-green-push

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    • I’ve noticed that protest movements, while keeping the pressure on coal, have moved more and more to both new pipelines and new gas plants. The keep it in the ground push appears to be picking up steam.

      Worth noting that the Kinder-Morgan protest was also quite large this weekend.

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