As Earth Day fell on Easter this year, automotive companies seem to be looking for a new “leader” to resurrect from fossil fuels and to be reborn out of clean “water” and / or “lithium”. The Shanghai Motorshow from April 18 – 25, 2019 offered some insight on where this leader will come from:  most of the new models on show are in the New Energy Vehicle segment, which in China is defined to include pure battery EVs, PHEVs, and fuel-cell vehicles. The Chinese government in September 2017 forces OEMs  to meet an NEV quota of 10% of total vehicle sales from 2019, rising to 12% in 2020. In Europe car makers have to cut car emissions to less than 95 g/km by 2021 facing a €95 per gram they exceeed multiplied by number of cars they sold that year.

CEO Herbert Dies of VW, who was whistled back by his German transport minister Andreas Scheuer recently to focus only on battery electric (22 mln in 10 years) and not to include hydrogen in VW zero emission strategy, stated that the EU measure would cost the automotive industry 30 bln  with a 13% reduction in their earnings compared to the  4.4 mln vehciels sold last year . Transport and Environment do not foresee any problem for European car makers to comply withthe new measures

However car emissions rose in 2018 to 121g/km according to Jato Dynamics as SUV sales have risen by 3/4 since 2015  (IHS Markit) as diesel car sales declined from 57% in 2011 to 37% in 2018. Car companies expect a lot of the so-called “supercredits” they will get for BEV, although EV car sales are less than 1% still of the market. According to IHS Markit  the total production of NEVs surged by 59.9% to 1.27 million units in 2018, while sales of NEVs increased by 61.7% to 1.256 million units, . In 2018, a total of 984,000 BEVs were sold in China, up 50.8%, while sales of PHEVs reached 271,000 units, up 118%, and sales of fuel-cell vehicles totalled 1,527 units. As a reality check: the number of vehicles rose by 390 mln between 2005 ansd 2015, of which 99,999 was powered by fossil fuels (University of Gent)

The total number of charging stations for NEVs reached 853,000 by the end of January this year, up 8.1% y/y. As part of its efforts to improve the environment, the Chinese government has been encouraging the use of EVs.  The Chinese new subsidy scheme has reduced the subsidies provided by central government in 2018 by almost half and has further raised the threshold for a vehicle to be eligible for the subsidies. The new rules are likely to affect the growth rate of NEV sales in China in the short term, along with pushing automakers to produce more efficient NEVs. According to IHS Markit’s light-vehicle alternative propulsion data, China’s total annual NEV production is expected to reach 2.25 million units by 2020.

Meanwhile in the truck segment Nikola’s CEO Schneider said on April 17  2019 that every one of the 700 refueling stations that the company plans to build across the US would be powered by “renewable energy supplemented by low-carbon grid energy” using equipment from Nel Hydrogen. Solar panels will be a prominent feature at every Nikola station, and Schneider later added that the company hoped to source a minimum of 30 percent of its electricity from these solar panels and other renewable forms of electricity.

In the public domain the Public Transport Authority (TA) of Amsterdam sees the total cost of ownership TCO) of diesel and electric buses alrready at the same level when 83% of the cost of the busess is paid for by the concession holder (bus company) and only 12 % by the TA.  On another public note, Baetsen-Groep and Cure Afvalbeheer are going to collect waste with a hydrogen refuse collectionvehicle, built by E-Trucks Europe, in the Eindhoven region. The vehicles will be presented on 11 April 2019 at the Veldhoven City hall in the presence of the sustainability councilors of the Eindhoven Metropolitan Region. This demonstration is the first in a series of 10 demonstrations in European cities. Baetsen-Groep and Cure Afvalbeheer invested in these innovative and zero-emission vehicles. The vehicles were built by E-trucks Europe, with support from Hydrogenics. Both hydrogen vehicles are the first in Europe (together with a truck in Groningen), whom received an official license plate and registration, and who will be involved in the daily waste collection operation. The construction and demonstration of these garbage trucks is part of the Life ‘N Grab Hy !, project that is coordinated by WaterstofNet.

Photo: courtesy: Arstechnica