Simanaitis Says

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PLENTY OF countries around the world are questioning fossil-fuel mobility. Yesterday, we looked at proposed gasoline and diesel bans, of one sort or another, in the Netherlands, Norway, Germany, and India. Today, the news is from France, Britain, and automaker Volvo, with something of a reality check on it all. (The U.S. is an outlier in this matter, worthy of discussion another day.)

Automotive News, July 11 and 17, 2017, is a primary source, together with others obtained though Internet sleuthing.

France. Image from

“France Plans to End Sales of Gas and Diesel Cars by 2040” is by Jack Ewing in The New York Times, July 6, 2017. Ewing notes, “The country will also stop issuing new oil and gas exploration permits this year, and stop using coal to produce electricity by 2022.” Also, France has a goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2050.

These French goals are challenging. ”France to ‘Ban All Petrol and Diesel Vehicles by 2040,’ by Henry Samuel in The Telegraph, July 6, 2017, discusses this: “Diesel and gasoline vehicles represented about 95.2 percent of French new car fleets in the first half of the year, while electric vehicles hold 1.2 percent of the market. Hybrid cars make up about 3.5 percent.”

The New York Times, July 26, 2017, carries a story “Britain to Ban New Diesel and Gas Cars by 2040” by Stephen Castle. He reports Britain’s plans are to “match a similar pledge made this month by France, and are part of a growing global push to curb emissions and fight climate change.”

Britain. Image from

Castle also notes, “But the shift to electric vehicles will be a gradual one, and the target set by Britain is less ambitious than some of the efforts elsewhere.” Norway is one of his cited examples; India is the other.

Volvo electrified vehicles. Image from Automotive News

These and other EV buzz depend on the matter of definition. For example, Volvo has said it will build nothing but “electrified” vehicles starting in 2019 (what’s essentially early tomorrow in automaker parlance). However, electrified vehicles include a lot more than pure battery or fuel-cell EVs. It includes plug-in, traditional, and mild hybrids, all of which still burn fossil fuels.

Automotive News, July 17, 2017, offers an Opinion piece by auto strategist Joern Buss: “Does Volvo’s Move Suggest an Irreversible Shift to EVs?” Briefly, matters are more nuanced.

Image from Automotive News, July 17, 2017.

And in an Automotive News Comment, July 10, 2017, publisher Keith Crain discusses “Volvo’s Very Huge Decision.” He notes, “Volvo once owned the safety segment. Now it’s trying to own the electrified-vehicle position. We wish them luck.”

On July 26, 2017, CNN Money’s Alanna Petroff quotes automaker market-intelligence specialist Al Bedwell on government proposals: “It’s really unclear. These are political statements. Until we get more details, it’s really hard to understand what the implications are.”

The CNN Money report also has a video with senior automotive reporter Peter Valdes-Dapena describing how pure EVs fit into this array of electrified vehicles.

A Venn diagram of “electrified” vehicle options.

Valdes-Dapena says, “when car companies like Volvo or entire countries talk about selling electrified vehicles, they’re really talking about all this stuff. Don’t think they’re going all electric; they’re probably not.”

I conclude with paraphrasing a quote attributed to Sheik Ahmed Zaki Yamani: The stone age didn’t end because of government edict. It ended because bronze was a superior material. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2017


  1. sabresoftware
    August 4, 2017

    There are huge implications with switching from gas/diesel to electric propulsion. Even though battery and charging technology has improved over the years executing a long distance drive will almost certainly require multiple overnight stays due to charging time requirements. Also while I am sure that electric cars can provide heating, I imagine that in really cold climates that would come at the very major expense of driving range. Long distance transport would be hobbled again by the long recharge layovers. Aside from these convenience aspects, the large number of batteries required would also put a considerable environmental cost when these batteries are taken out of service. And the demise of fossil fuels would eliminate a number of products other than oil and gasoline that much of our manufacturing industry depends on. Finding substitute materials for all the petrochemical products no longer available would also bring a major cost impact to our economies. It isn’t as simple as mandating electric cars.

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