About EVs in China

“In 2020, 48% of all EVs on the road could be found in China — more than the combined figure for the US and Europe. China’s EV fleet will be 60% of the world’s total by 2030. Xi Jinping has extended both the sales tax exemption on EVs and subsidies for domestically built EVs to the end of 2022.

“China’s large domestic market, raw materials access, and favorable government policies mean it will continue to dominate the EV landscape and won’t be as disadvantaged by the lithium shortage. Xi Jinping has facilitated the growth of the domestic EV market, causing Tesla to lose market share in China to BYD. This is not only to cement China’s dominance in EVs but also to help meet the net zero target year of 2060.”– Amrit Dhami, Thematic Analyst at GlobalData

Volkswagen Group 2021 EV Numbers

By Gary S. Vasilash

Volkswagen Group—Volkswagen, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Škoda, SEAT, CUPRA, Audi, Lamborghini, Bentley, Ducati, Porsche—announced its combined electric vehicle sales on a global basis for 2021.

The company delivered 452,900 battery electric vehicles in ’21, a 95.5% increase over ’20 numbers, when it delivered 231,600 units.

The vehicles that are the biggest contributors:

  • Volkswagen ID.4: 119,600 units
  • Volkswagen ID.3: 75,500 units
  • Audi e-tron:  49,200 units
  • ŠKODA Enyaq iV:  44,700 units
  • Volkswagen e-up!: 41,400 units
  • Porsche Taycan:  41,300 units

Of that, the ID.3, Enyaq iV and e-up! are not available in the U.S. market. That represents a total of a non-trivial 161,600 units.

Here’s something to consider about that 452,900 EVs:

The Group delivered a total 8,882,000 vehicles in 2021.

Put the numbers in context.

About Those EV Range Numbers

By Gary S. Vasilash

One of the things that OEMs are touting is the range that their electric vehicles can travel before they need a charge.

This, of course, is a means by which the dreaded consumer “range anxiety” with EVs can be assuaged.

For example, when Mercedes introduced its VISION EQXX concept car last week one of the points that people stressed about this sleek concept is that it has a range on the order of 620 miles.

When Chevy introduced the 2024 Silverado EV it noted that it has an estimated range of 400 miles.

While not a Mercedes, think about a Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. Stylish. Seats five. Fully fitted with tech. Depending on which trim level, it returns a combined miles per gallon rating of either 52 mpg or 47 mpg.

So, with its 13.2-gallon fuel tank, this means that you have range of 686 miles or 620.4 miles. In a car that you can buy today. (Assuming that you can find one.)

Then the Silverado.

While the numbers aren’t available for the 2022 3.0L I-6 turbo-diesel, there are for the ’21 model with that engine. The 4WD truck has a combined miles per gallon rating of 26 mpg.

The Crew Cab has a 24-gallon tank.

So this means that the Silverado diesel has a range of 624 miles.

Somehow that electric 400-mile range is impressive only for an EV.

And then, of course, there is that whole thing about charging.

One of the features of the ’24 Silverado is that thanks to its fast-charging capability, one can get 100 miles of range within 10 minutes.

According to the American Petroleum Institute, it takes an average of two minutes to fill a vehicle with liquid fuel.

Somehow that 10-minute charge doesn’t seem all that impressive.

The Unplowed Road to Electric Vehicles

By Todd Lassa

The morning of General Motors’ reveal at CES in Las Vegas of new electric vehicles—most notably the Chevrolet Silverado EV pickup truck and also the Chevy Blazer EV and Equinox EV, which will be coming in 2023 and ’24—the most-read op-ed column in The Washington Post was entitled, “Imagine Virginia’s icy traffic catastrophe – but only with electric vehicles.”

WaPo editorial writer and columnist Charles Lane relates the story of a Canadian semi driver stuck in the storm’s 40-mile backup on I-95 in Virginia earlier this week. A Tesla driver knocks on the semi’s door and tells the trucker that his kids are stranded in the car and there’s no way to recharge the EV. The truck driver, who told the story in his Twitter account @MyWorldThroughaWindshield, gave the Tesla driver water, a spare blanket and a mylar thermal blanket.

Lane points out that pure-electric vehicles lose range in cold weather and cannot be revived as easily as a petroleum-fueled vehicle. To make the Tesla driver’s prospects for recharge tougher, the power grid failed in parts of Virginia Monday night.  

As Gary Vasilash notes in his post “Still the EV Charging Question,” there is no solution in sight for how to quickly re-charge electric vehicles that run out of juice between any two charging points.

But the source of the problem is far older than the accelerating shift from internal combustion engines to EVs. The core issue is the priority the U.S. gave in the last century to designing and building infrastructure centered around the automobile.

In his column Lane references GM’s EV commercial for last year’s Super Bowl, in which Will Ferrell satirically takes on Norway for its then-actual 54% EV market share (which increased to 65% in 2021). Norway is much colder than most of the U.S., though with a much smaller population, and it’s beginning to back out of “massive” EV subsidies. Then the columnist gets to the core of the country’s advantage regarding EVs: In Norway “a mere 10% of workers in the largest city – Oslo – commute by car.”

Eureka. Transportation alternatives are a way of life in places like Norway. That makes a big difference.

Meanwhile, back in Virginia after the huge mid-Atlantic storm, Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) spent 26 hours, 45 minutes driving up I-95 to Washington, D.C., for a voting rights meeting—a drive that usually takes two hours. Kaine told NPR’s All Things Considered he once took a bicycle ride from Richmond to D.C. in an event with Virginia police officers one Memorial Day weekend, “basically the same ride up Route 1,” in 13 hours.

Now, I’m not the least-bit anti-car, and I’m not advocating a wholesale shift to alternative transportation sources. But our overcrowded highways, freeways and city streets have long been an anathema to any pleasure associated with driving.

The clean, efficient way to commute in that part of the country should be an electric-powered commuter rail system, though it’s far too late for that.

The best we can hope for is to face 40-mile snow-clogged traffic jams with EVs rated 400+ miles of range (probably 325-350 miles in cold weather) and a proliferation of recharging systems along the way. That’s assuming we can afford such EVs, as even ICE-powered new vehicles average more than $46,000. Middle-class commuters can always get a deal on a three-year-old off-lease EV featuring yesterday’s state-ot-the-art range, while the working class – the people who drive the snowplows, semi-trucks and emergency vehicles – get to work in our gas- and diesel-powered trade-ins.

About the 2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV

By Gary S. Vasilash

When Chevrolet introduced the 2024 Silverado EV today, there was an interesting quote made by Steve Hill, vp of Chevy.

Hill said: “The Ultium Platform”—the thing that General Motors is using to underpin all of its post-Bolt EV models—“is a critical enabler of next-level pickup truck performance for both fleet and retail customers, whether they are currently driving a Silverado or are considering a pickup for the first time.”

The interesting bit is that Hill said “fleet and retail customers,” with the first being fleet.

The Silverado EV, when launched, will come in two versions, both in Crew Cab configurations.

There is the flagship RST First Edition:

(Images: Chevrolet)

And there is the WT:

The RST First Edition brings such things as four-wheel steering and automatic adaptive air suspension. There’s a 17-inch diagonal LCD infotainment screen.

Simply, inside and out this looks like a very cool pickup truck that anyone who is interested in such things would be chuffed to have in her or his driveway.

The WT is a bit more, well, pragmatic. Chevy points out that it offers 510 hp and 615 lb-ft of torque; 8,000 pounds of towing and 1,200 pounds of payload.  The a bit later after launch there will be a model with 20,000 pounds of trailering capability.

RST owners will be able to access Ultium Charge 360, which is what consumers of other GM EV crossovers and cars will undoubtedly use. WT owners will have the opportunity go to a variant, Ultium Charge 360 Fleet Service. When that was announced in July 2021, Ed Peper, U.S. vice president, GM Fleet said, “Fleets have a significant impact on the transition to EVs and by expanding Ultium Charge 360 to our fleet customers, GM aims to be a significant industry leader to advance fleet EV adoption at scale and accelerate our goal of reaching 1 million EV sales globally by 2025.

“Fleet electrification is an important element of our growth strategy, and we will leverage our leadership and expertise in this space to support customers at home, at depots and in public with our suite of providers.”

The first models to be built at the GM Factory ZERO (Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center) will be the WT. It will be available in the spring of 2023. It will have a base MSRP of $39,900.

Then the RST First Edition vehicles—the fully loaded Silverado EV—will follow in the fall of that year. The base MSRP of that model is $105,000.

Other variants—with price points of some $50K, $60K, $70K and $80K—are planned.

Two points:

  1. The $105,000 RST First Edition might seem a bit pricy for, well, a pickup truck, but this is an electric pickup that is not only tricked out with all manner of tech, but it will come with a battery capable of, GM says, an estimated range of over 400 miles. Typically, EV models (e.g., the GMC HUMMER EV) start out at a high price point and then go down from there. . . .
  2. . . .which brings us to the point that GM is actually starting out with a much more modest price for the WT before going to the RST First Edition. There is a clear understanding that if they want to move lots of EV pickups, then the sweet spot is with contractors and other commercial service providers. Sure, the RST First Edition will probably have its reservation bank fully subscribed by the time you read this. But that will be a limited number of trucks. Although the margins on the RST First Edition will probably make the WT look like some sort of Dickensian orphan, the WT is going to be the thing that is going to make EV pickups a mass market phenomenon, not the RST First Edition.

It is a purpose-built pickup. The purpose is not only to have an offering in the segment, not only to provide style and functionality, but to expand the number of EVs on the road.

Which GM is committed to doing.

Still the EV Charging Question

By Gary S. Vasilash

The excitement associated with electric vehicles (EVs) in some corners makes it seem as though it is a foregone conclusion that the world is going to be full of what are, at this point in time, Teslas and vehicles that want to prove that they are better than Teslas.

When Ford announced that it was going to nearly double the production of its forthcoming F-150 Lightning, an electric pickup, to 150,000 units by mid-2023, you’d think that someone announced free beer at a football stadium. Happy days are here again!

But there are still hurdles that have to be overcome before there is massive acceptance of EVs, and a big one remains the whole issue of batteries, range and charging.

Better batteries, which have been and continue to be developed, generally means more range and faster charging.

That’s good.

But at this point there are still comparatively few charging stations, and when you see announcements of additional stations being built out by companies like Electrify America, take into account that unlike a visit to your local Fossil Fuel Emporium: Purveyor of Fine Snacks, where you spend about five minutes, the amount of time—even for the hyperfast chargers and the vehicles that can accept that level of charge—is generally on the order of 20 minutes.

So a bit of simple math has it that four liquid-fueled vehicles can be handled in the amount of time that it takes a single EV to get a charge.

Then there is the issue of what happens when a vehicle is out of fuel.

Who hasn’t seen someone walking down the road with one of those red gasoline containers, having had a vehicle run out of gas and in need of something to get it going?

A gallon of gas weighs a little over six pounds.

But what happens if an EV runs out of electricity?

Were there something analogous, it is probably going to be something that no one is going to want to lug for much of a distance.

A regular 12-volt battery such as the one that is undoubtedly under the hood of your vehicle weighs 30 pounds or more—not the sort of thing you’re going to want to carry very far.

The massive 40-mile I-95 traffic jam that occurred earlier this week in Virginia, where people were stuck in their vehicles for more than a day, has given rise to stories about how some EVs fared, and it seems not particularly well.

Yes, liquid-fueled vehicles ran out of gas.

But here’s the thing: someone can buy a five-gallon gas cannister at Walmart for about 13 bucks. The price of gas in Virginia is an average $3.15 a gallon. So to fill that container with fuel would cost $15.75. That’s less than $30 all-in. The gas would be good to get a few cars on the side of the road running.

What is the analogous answer for a Ford Lightning or another EV that is out of juice?

Interesting XPeng 2021 EV Sales Numbers

By Gary S. Vasilash

The numbers for Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer XPeng—not merely EVs, but “Smart EVs”—for 2021 are rather impressive, especially when looked at as a percentage basis compared to 2020.

As in:

  • 181% increase in the number of vehicles delivered in December 2021 vs. December 2020
  • 222% increase in deliveries in Q4 2021 vs. Q4 2020
  • 263% increase in total vehicles delivered in 2021 vs. 2020

But then when you drill down the numbers are somewhat less impressive.

  • 16,000 vehicles delivered in December 2021
  • 41,751 vehicles delivered in Q4 2021
  • 98,155 vehicles delivered in 2021

Still, directionally things are going well for the company.

XPeng P7 sport sedan. (Image: Business Wire)

The company offers both sedans and SUVs in the China market.  It is notable, as the interest in sedans in the U.S. is waning, that of its December deliveries of 16,000 vehicles, only 3,511 were SUVs—the largest share was taken by the sport and family sedans.

Another interesting thing about XPeng is that the company is building out a supercharging network—661 stations in all, located in 228 cities.

But even more notable is this: it has 311 retail outlets across 121 cities.

For a nascent company in the EV space, 311 is a lot of dealerships.

Tesla, for comparison, has about 170 galleries and showrooms in the U.S.

EVs Can Be More Green

Assuming you’re concerned with your carbon footprint

By Gary S. Vasilash

Polestar, the growing EV brand, is running life cycle assessments of putting its vehicles on the road, from start to finish.

One of the areas of focus is on the materials and manufacturing. They can deal with the carbon footprint there.

But then the vehicle goes into the hands of consumers.

And then they reach the end of their usefulness and are recycled (good) or scrapped (bad).

Polestar has expanded its focus to the vehicle-in-use stage. To that end it is working with a Dutch solar designer, Marjan van Aubel, working on increasing the amount of vehicle charging that is being performed via renewable sources.

Van Aubel: “There still needs to be significant integration. Solar energy only accounts for a small percentage of the electricity in the European grid, and just 34% of the energy we use comes from renewable resources. But together, we’re expanding the possibilities of generating energy from wind, water and solar sources. Designers are coming up with completely new ideas, too. They are proof that we are well on our way to creating a fully renewable energy grid and truly sustainable electric mobility.”

Here’s something to consider: In the U.S. solar adds 3.3% to the grid.

The importance of renewables in charging an EV: Polestar has determined that by using renewable electricity the carbon footprint of an in-use EV can be cut in half.

Non-trivial.

Major Commercial Euro EV Truck Order

This is a serious commitment to electric logistics

By Gary S. Vasilash

DB Schenker has been around since 1872, moving things first between Vienna and Paris, then, with time, around the world. Clearly the company knows what it is doing to have existed for so long.

It is not unusual for a logistics company to announce that it is buying some electric trucks. Generally the number announced is not all that large. After all, when you are being depended on by someone to get whatever from here to there within a set period of time, you don’t want to depend on some technology that is still somewhat new.

It is one thing for someone to have an electric passenger car.

It is entirely another for a company that could be moving critical goods to put it on an electric 16-tonne electric truck.

Note the clever cab design of the truck–high visibility for the driver to make driving in city centers (or “centres”) easier. (Image: Volta Trucks)

So it is notable that DB Schenker has announced that it is purchasing 1,470 such trucks to transport goods from distribution hubs to city centers from Volta Trucks.

Volta Trucks?

A Stockholm-headquartered company established in 2017. An objective of the founders is to “decarbonize last-mile logistics and to make city centre environments safer, more pleasant and sustainable places to live and work.”

And to do so with the development of commercial vehicles like the Volta Zero.

DB Schenker will be working with Volta to develop a 12-tonne variant of the Zero, as well.

The logistics company will test a prototype of the Volta Zero during the spring and summer of 2022, then the learnings from that will be rolled into the production trucks.

It will utilize the vehicles at 10 locations in five countries.

Cyrille Bonjean, executive vice president, Land Transport at DB Schenker said, “The large-scale partnership with Volta Trucks allows us to significantly increase the pace of electrification of our fleet and invest in greener transport solutions, brings us closer again to our goal of carbon neutral logistics.”

Cox Finds EV Interest Not Yet Sparking

Sure, there are lots of people who want to buy Teslas, but one brand does not a solid segment make

Cox Automotive took a look at what real people think about their likelihood when it comes to the possibility or potential of their buying an EV the next time they’re in the market for a new vehicle and it seems that they are more likely to buy an ICE-powered pickup truck or SUV.

That is:

  • 38% are considering an EV within the next 12 months. Let’s face it, all of us consider lots of things. But when it comes to actually signing the documents. . . .
  • 21% say they are >50% confident their next vehicle will be an EV. There are a couple of ways of looking at this. Is the 21% a subset of the 38%. Or are these confident people, people who are likely to buy a new vehicle. . .oh, sometime.
  • 3% are 100% confident their next vehicle will be an EV. It so happens that 3% is the share of market that EVs will have this year.

Here’s something that’s not surprising:

If an EV is available for $5,000 less than a comparable gasoline vehicle, 71% will consider the EV.

Price is the second-highest barrier to buying, at 51% citing EVs and being too expensive.

The others are:

  • 57% think there’s not enough charging stations in their local vicinity
  • 42% are worried the battery won’t hold a charge
  • 41% are concerned with the cost of potential battery replacement (shouldn’t that be 42%, or is it that 1% who are worried about the lack of a sustained charge will just live with it?)
  • 37% still have range anxiety—although the positive news for EV purveyors is that two years ago 47% cited low range as a concern

Here’s something that ought to be of concern of the marketers at Nissan (LEAF) and Chevy (Bolt EV): 63% of those surveyed don’t know that Nissan offers an EV and 69% are unaware that Chevy has one in the showroom.

Oddly enough, 21% are aware of and considering a Toyota EV. Which leads one to wonder whether this is in anticipation of the bZ4X coming next year or that there are actually people who are aware of the fact that although the Mirai is powered by a fuel cell, it actually is an EV, just not a BEV (battery electric vehicle).