The Kodak Moment

OPEC is reported to have raised its 2040 electric vehicle fleet prediction from 46 million vehicles a year ago, to 266 million. It now also says the spread of EVs could dampen sales targets in some parts of Asia as soon as 2018. 
According to one study, the reduced demand for fossil fuels with the uptake of EVs by 2040 will reduce demand for 8 million barrels of oil, more than the current combined production of Iraq and Iran. 
Is this the Kodak moment for car makers when they must decide their direction? The choice is to switch entirely to EV (as Volvo has done) or to continue to produce internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles only, banking on a premise that there will almost certainly always be a demand – albeit majorly reduced – for fossil fuel vehicles.
 
The speed of uptake of EVs is surprising everyone – oil producers, vehicle manufacturers and Governments. And while the majority of new cars sold are ICE vehicles, the increasingly rapid rise in the sale of EVs will see the crossover – that point where EV sales equal and then surpass the sale of ICE vehicles – come around a lot sooner than predictions from as recently as a year ago.
 
Before the crossover comes however, there is another important milestone for ICE manufacturers, the peak. That point where sales demand starts to drop off and the steady decline in units sold sets in. That’s when you’ll see the sweet deals on conventional cars as auto companies compete to retain business.
 
From now until 2040 may seem like a long way off, but to a century-old Automotive industry, it is just another stage in the development of each brand’s relevance to its market.  

Did a Domino Just Fall?

With major changes starting to happen worldwide for the electric vehicle industry, has the first domino just fallen?

Emmanuelle Macron’s Government has announced that France will end all sales of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040. This is part of an initiative to meet its targets under the Paris accord and has also been touted as a public health issue by officials.

The announcement came just one day after Volvo made the big announcement that it will produce only electric or hybrid vehicles from as soon as 2019.

When car manufacturers become technology manufacturers and the French snub fossil fuels, it has been a big week for the global uptake of electric vehicles. If you were to liken it to the domino effect, you could say perhaps the lead tile has toppled…

EV Registrations Double in New Zealand

In the first twelve months since the Government released its Electric Vehicle Strategy, EV registrations in New Zealand are increasing quickly. Light EVs (cars) are a growing proportion of registrations, dominated by used imports, with individuals owning more light EVs than companies. The “others” group (typically councils, regional and local government) is growing quarter by quarter.

According to the Ministry of Transport website, EV vehicle registrations doubled following the Government’s EV Strategy announcement in May 2016, from 87 in that month to 195 in June. There have been some ups and downs on monthly registration numbers, but on average, EV registrations have stayed at just under 200 per month for the past year. Continuing into the 2017 calendar year however, and registrations have crossed over the 200 mark to average 207 per month.

As to where the EVs are on a regional basis, Auckland is the clear “home of the EV in NZ”. Next best – and a long way behind – is Canterbury, Wellington and then Otago. Look at that in an “EV per 1,000 population” basis, and while Auckland still tops, not so far behind is Otago, ahead of Wellington, Canterbury, Northland and Nelson/Marlborough.

Although only a small percentage of the overall EVs in New Zealand, heavy electric vehicles are showing their presence as the integration into the national fleet continues on target.

Tesla Comes to New Zealand

The electric vehicle industry in New Zealand got a major boost with the arrival of US company Tesla to these shores.

The company has set up its first store on Karangahape Road in Auckland and a supercharger location at The Base Shopping Centre in Hamilton. Further superchargers, which promise fast charge for vehicles, are planned for Taupo and Sanson later in the year. The superchargers are touted as being able to charge the high-end Tesla Model S, which as a range of 600km, from flat to full in 30 minutes.

The Model S costs around $300,000 in New Zealand, with even the cheapest models priced at $117,000. The expectation, however, is that in future more widely affordable models will be released, most notable the Model 3.

The presence of the high-profile company is a significant step for the public profile of electric vehicles in New Zealand, which are rapidly gaining traction in the consumer market.

The Emissions-Free State

California wants to remove as many diesel-powered vehicles from its roadways as possible, and it isn’t just cars, “medium to heavy-duty” vehicles are being targetted, with spending of up to US$1 billion available to “accelerate widespread transportation electrification”.

California’s three largest Utilities have filed proposals for an allocation of the funds. The largest is to create the infrastructure required to electrify the entire freight handling system at the Port of Long Beach.

A large percentage of the goods Americans buy enter the country through ports in California, however the transportation corridor from port to warehouse has some of the worst air pollution in the world. The plan is to replace all heavy operating equipment with electric motors. From gantry cranes that unload ships to the trucks that deliver to the warehouses.

Other proposals include adding charging infrastructure for heavy-duty trucks and buses along major highways, the addition of 90,000 home charging units, the electrification of ground support vehicles at local airports and the installation of EV chargers at airport parking lots.

Nearing the Tipping Point

Sales of electric vehicles are growing each month, with the EV market nearly double its forecast from last year and nearly ten times the forecast from 2014.

But the figures we are seeing are for sales of small to moderate size passenger cars. The real savings for the environment and in curbing demand for oil is heavy electric vehicles, and in particular, heavy EVs that are purpose built from the ground up.

Electric bus trials are happening worldwide. But few are full battery electric. Most are either battery-assist with a diesel or CNG on-board turbine, overhead wire, or rapid charge with charging stations along a managed route. And a number of these are conventional ICE vehicles that have been converted.

Similarly flatdecks, vans and service trucks are conventional truck bodies converted to battery electric.
A purpose built full battery electric vehicle is designed to minimise wind drag for efficiency and has a lower centre of gravity for improved stability and to lessen any likelihood of vehicle roll-over.

As European nations record EVs out-selling fossil fuel vehicles, similarly it is happening in some States across America, one get the feeling that it will not be long before we reach the point where electricity becomes the preferred energy for transportation.

New Web Site

Welcome to the new Zero Emission Vehicles web site!

As ZEV moves from research and development into production and commercialisation of its vehicles, so too the web site was due for an overhaul. It is all being put together now, so bear with us as content is added in and we provide information on who we are what we do.

A ‘news’ section (of which this is the first post) will be updated with significant events here at ZEV and in the heavy electric vehicle community and you can also follow us on our Facebook page.