Simanaitis Says

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GOODBYE, INTERNAL COMBUSTION? PART 1

THESE DAYS, there’s a lot of governmental talk around the world about banning gasoline and diesel vehicles in favor of electric ones. Some of this thinking is laudatory. Some of it is politically motivated. Some is pie-in-the-clean-air sky. Some is (mis)guided technically.

Much of it requires definition, as with Volvo’s announcement that starting in 2019, it will produce only “electrified” vehicles. I’ve gleaned these tidbits from Automotive News, July 10 and 17, 2017, in addition to my usual Internet sleuthing. Indeed, my sleuthing was sufficiently successful to warrant Part 1 here and, tomorrow, Part 2.

With the International Energy Agency as a source, Austria, Britain, China, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, and Spain are pushing hard, in one manner or another, to promote electric vehicles. In fact, EV buzz is that deadlines may have already been set beyond which no gasoline nor diesel vehicles can be sold. It’s 2025 in Norway; maybe 2025 in the Netherlands; 2030 in Germany and India, the latter, more or less; and 2040 in Britain and in France.

A bit of buzz analysis is appropriate here, because most of these governments appear to have hedges built into their proposals.

A year ago, U.K.’s Independent newpaper website reported that the Netherlands was “on the brink of banning sales of petrol-fuelled cars.” This was proposed by the country’s ruling Labour Party, though coalition partners weren’t quite as green.

The Netherlands. Image from independent.co.uk.

Norway has perhaps the clearest and most achievable target: It proposes a performance standard (as opposed to one based solely on hardware) requiring that all new passenger cars and vans sold in 2025 and beyond must be either zero-emissions vehicles (thus, battery or hydrogen fuel-cell EVs) or low-emission vehicles (plug-in hybrids).

Last year, about 40 percent of the cars sold in Norway were EVs or hybrids, a market penetration encouraged through the country’s combination of tax and use incentives. Among other things, this suggests that battery EVs are feasible in Scandinavia’s rigorous winters. Oslo’s coldest month is January, averaging -3 degrees Celsius/28 degrees Fahrenheit and considerably colder when the sun sets after its brief daily appearance.

Germany’s 2030 goal proposes eliminating sales of new vehicles that depend solely on gasoline or diesel. That is, hybrids will apparently still be part of the vehicle mix.

India’s 2030 goal for every vehicle to be powered by electricity is, according to government energy advisor Anil Kumar Jain, “an aspirational target. Ultimately the logic of markets will prevail.”

India. Image from auto.ndtv.com.

India has some of the world’s most polluted cities. What’s more, and hardly encouraging for EVs, 59 percent of India’s electricity comes from coal. Any well-to-wheel advantage of a coal-sourced battery EV versus an advanced gasoline counterpart is not a certainty.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about France, Britain, automaker Volvo, and perform a reality check on “electrified” versus EV. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2017

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