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AUTOMOTIVE NEWS, OCTOBER 4, 2021, carried a provocative page 1 story by Michael Martinez: “Ford Isn’t Waiting—It’s All In On EVs.”
“When Ford Motor Co. introduced the F-150 Lightning in May,” Michael Martinez writes, “CEO Jim Farley said it would be a measuring stick to gauge customer acceptance for electric vehicles.”
Martinez continues, “But Ford had no intention to wait for the results. At that same time, behind the scenes, the automaker was forging ahead on plans for its next-generation electric pickup and a trio of battery plants to power 1 million Ford and Lincoln EVs a year. Those plans crystallized last week in the form of an $11.4 billion investment that will create 11,000 jobs building EVs and batteries in Tennessee and Kentucky. It’s the clearest sign yet that Farley wants Ford to be a major player—if not the leader—in EVs.”
In auto industry terms, this is happening quickly. Blue Oval City in Stanton, Tennessee, 50 miles northeast of Memphis, will open in 2025. The 3600-acre facility will include an assembly plant for the F-150 EV, a battery plant, a supplier park, and trade school. BlueOvalSK in Glendale, Kentucky, about 50 miles south of Louisville, will reflect Ford’s joint venture with Korean battery maker SK.
This addresses a question often asked about EV manufacture: Should automakers became their own battery makers as well? Or should they depend upon suppliers?
Ford CEO Farley told CNBC that it’s important to “in-source” battery production, all the better to avoid matters such as the current global semiconductor shortage. “We have to learn how to manufacture them in this country,” Farley said. “We can no longer import raw materials from halfway around the world.”
Martinez notes, “The early demand has persuaded the automaker to adjust its EV goals; in May, it planned for 40 percent of its global fleet to be EV by 2030, but now Ford says as much as half will.”
So How Soon Before I Go EV? I am “retired,” though SimanaitisSays and a time-gobbling GMax hobby make a mockery of that term. On the other hand, both of these are home-based activities and my trusty 2012 Honda Crosstour’s odometer has only recently exceeded 25,000 miles. In one sense, I should be the prototypical EV owner.
My Rare Crosstour. It’s not that I find EVs out of the ordinary. Indeed, here in Southern California, I see a lot more Teslas in our vehicle mix than Crosstours. (Perhaps an unfair comparison, as Honda discontinued this particular crossover vehicle after the 2015 model year.)
Clean Air. Nor I am averse to the clean-air implications of EV ownership, especially here in California: Unlike some other states, California derives a goody portion of its electric energy from renewable sources. Thus a California EV is much more environmentally friendly that one charged with coal-derived juice.
A Significant Event. As noted by Sammy Roth in the Los Angeles Times, April 29, 2021, “California Just Hit 95% Renewable Energy. Will Other States Come Along for the Ride?”
Roth wrote, “For all the time we spend talking about how to reach 100% clean power, it sometimes seems like a faraway proposition, whether the timeframe is California’s 2045 target or President Biden’s more aggressive 2035 goal. But on Saturday just before 2:30 p.m., one of the world’s largest economies came within a stone’s throw of getting there.”
Several Caveats: The 94.5% figure was a fleeting four-second snapshot taken around 2:30 p.m. on April 29, 2021. The particular power grid measured supplies four-fifths of the state, though not Los Angeles, Sacramento, and several other regions. Roth also noted, “It came at a time of year defined by abundant sunshine and relatively cool weather, meaning it’s easier for renewable power to do the job traditionally done by fossil fuels.”
Still Significant. Nevertheless, it’s a significant achievement added to others elsewhere in the world: Roth noted, “Iceland currently achieves nearly 100 percent of its power from renewable energy. Costa Rica recently powered itself with 100 percent renewable energy for 299 days. But when the world’s fifth-largest economy does it, that should make you sit up in your chair.”
Or in your EV? ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2021
Electric? no thanks.
Another place that’s strongly toward solar (mainly) and renewables (generally) is South Australia. Worth looking at how they’re integrating rooftop solar (which most other places including California discourage now). They’ve had at least one episode where the solar production exceeded usage, and some had to be exported to neighboring areas where generation is usually more coal & gas dominated. They’ve moved to make rooftop solar more dispatchable (mainly by adding local storage) while remaining affordable, to minimize such episodes in the future. California’s only nibbling around the edges of such an approach.
Note that EVs can serve as local storage, if suitably equipped and used with the right kind of charging equipment. If it’s used as little as your Crosstour (and my Bolt certainly falls into that category), it’s a nice big battery sitting in your garage or driveway looking for a way to be useful when not moving you around. I understand that the Nissan Leaf had such equipment in Japan. Why pay extra for a Powerwall?
Following the “California Just Hit 95%…” link I looked at their April 24 chart, and did a rough integration of the data for the whole day to arrive at 258,000 MWH of renewable and 597,000 MWH of total generation per day. I considered that the exports during the daytime would come from renewable (solar). So over a whole day renewables are only about 51% of the system capacity.
2018 data from the California Energy Commission indicates that Solar was 31% and other renewable sources was about 3%, for a total renewable capacity of 34%. Obviously renewable capacity has increased between 2018 and 2021.
Since most electric cars would be charged overnight renewable solar, short of using storage systems, would not be able to provide much support, and wind probably would not be able to support the demand.
In 2019 California gasoline and diesel consumption was about 58 million gallons daily, which would require about 1,955,000 MWH of additional capacity on the grid. Considering a daily capacity of about 618,000 MWH of current capacity assuming no turndown of natural gas and hydro systems during the day and consistent import of a maximum 6000 MW all day, the additional demand for vehicle use would be 316% of current system capacity. This is a not insignificant increase, especially if all jurisdictions in North America attempt to do the same energy transition.
If Natural Gas were to be replaced by electric power in California the 2,074,302,000,000 CU FT of gas used in 2020 would require 6.25×10^8 MWH per year or a daily average of 1,712,294 MWH of additional capacity (another 277% of additional capacity required).
With oil and gas removed entirely from our materials supply many substances that our society depends on would require significant ramping up of production of alternate materials, and many of these other materials also have environment impacts too. For example concrete to replace asphalt also has CO2 impacts. More wood consumption to make plastics and other materials would consume carbon sink potential. Alternate oil products for lubricants, well if I was a whale I’d be getting pretty nervous.
There is no one easy solution to this.
Will electric vehicles become a larger part of our vehicle fleet? Yes I’m sure. Will they totally replace the fleet? I’m not so sure at least in my lifetime.
Recharging vehicles still present some challenges. Overnight charging at home is a definite option, but what happens when you don’t have a secure parking location, such as an open parking lot or even on the street?
If service stations were to shift to charging stations, even with fast charging systems we’d require significantly more real estate devoted to them (i.e. more bays) due to the longer visit times (i.e. instead of waiting 5-10 minutes for the car in front of you plus another 5-10 minutes to refuel yourself a recharge including waiting for the car ahead of you could extend to and hour to an hour and a half or more if there is a longer lineup). Right now this isn’t much of a problem, but as the electric fleet increases this will become a logistical issue.
And finally, while I’ve read that electric cars can operate successfully at temperatures as low as -20C (0F), where I live -30C (-22F) to -40C (-40F) are not unheard-of.
And I have to add that the current Ford commercial where they say that you could use your eF100 to power your home when you get home at the end of the day and experience a power cut is somewhat humorous, as the most likely power transfer scenario at the time of the day would be to recharge your truck after running around all day.
The idea of powering through a brief outage using the battery in an EV is fine, as long as the EV battery is always at a fairly good state of charge. If it’s low, well, not so good. But presuming it’s short (not multi-day like some of the PG&E messes in CA), and the power is back on by midnight, well, after midnight is when you should be recharging anyway.
Ford also markets its hybrid and PHEV F150 as something that (with the correct options) can power at least essential loads in your home. The benefit, of course, is that when the battery runs down (as would happen quickly in the non-PHEV hybrid), the engine kicks on. Just don’t park it in a closed garage….
I am anxiously awaiting mine!