Every now and then I peak above the parapet and regale Cats with news from the EV front. As a year has passed since the last update, I have girded my loins and offer the following for your information.
The major manufacturers have released assorted production comments in the past few months:
- Toyota – investment of $100 billion over the next decade with a minimum of 30 vehicles to be offered by 2030. They expect to be selling 3.5 million EVs per year by 2030. Hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles (including light trucks) are under development and they are convinced hydrogen fuel cell has a bright future.
- VW – Volkswagen’s CEO recently said “as much electrification as possible, as much hydrogen as necessary”. VW see EV cars for people and hydrogen fuel cell for heavy vehicles and other requirements. VW is investing $86 billion from 2021-25 in EVs with more from 2026 onwards. By 2030, they expect over 50% of all VW group (inc Audi, Bentley, Porsche, Skoda etc.) sales to be EV and achieving 100% EV sales by 2040.
- Hyundai/Kia – 23 EVs by 2025 and a further 17 models by 2030. Minimum of $22 billion investment and global EV sales exceeding 2 million per annum by 2030. Hydrogen fuel cell passenger and light trucks in extensive pre-production testing and Hyundai has commenced investing in various hydrogen refuelling facilities. EVs first, and hydrogen to follow.
- Ford – Ford announced it is splitting its business into two separate divisions. The ‘E’ division will be responsible for the all-electric vehicles whilst the ‘Blue’ division will develop internal combustion models. In March 2022, the Blue division registered a patent for a combustion engine running on hydrogen with the U.S Patent and Trademark Office. Meanwhile, Ford announced that its entire vehicle range offered in Europe will be electric by 2030.
- General Motors – GM plans to completely phase out vehicles using internal combustion engines by 2035 including SUVs and those giant utes they call ‘pick-ups’. $35 billion investment to 2025. GM have partnered with Liebherr-Aerospace to develop fuel cell technology for aircraft and other applications.
- Mercedes – Last year the European Commission voted to uphold the ban on the sale of new petrol or diesel ICE passenger cars starting in 2035. Mercedes claims it will have an all- electric line-up by 2030. Mercedes have shelved their research into hydrogen power and will focus exclusively on EVs.
It doesn’t really matter where you look – BMW, Volvo, Renault, Mitsubishi, Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan, Fiat et al – the answer is the same from every manufacturer. They are all moving to EVs and many are active in hydrogen fuel cell research. To be fair, some manufacturers such as Aston Martin, Ferrari, Lotus, McLaren and others have no choice if they want to continue to sell their cars in Europe. Many European countries are imposing sales bans from 2030 and no later than 2035 on new ICE petrol/diesel vehicles including hybrids.
Of course, the US market is key and in August 2021, President Biden announced a target that by 2030, half of the vehicles sold in the United States will be battery electric, fuel-cell or plug-in hybrid. This matched the major US automakers plans for the inevitable future of electric vehicles with GM pledging that 100% of its cars sold would be zero-emission by 2035 whilst Ford announced that 40% of its US vehicles sold by 2030 will be electric. Coupled with EV imports of foreign manufacturers, it’s likely that Biden’s target will be achieved.
But why are we doing this? Simple really.
Transport, in all its forms, is estimated to produce some 24% of global carbon dioxide emissions with passenger vehicles and trucks contributing 75% of that total (45% and 30% respectively). Aviation (12%) and shipping (11%) make up most of the balance.
The global fleet of passenger vehicles is approximately 1.4 billion cars and as manufacturers produce some 90 million vehicles per year, it will obviously take about 15 years to ‘replace’ the global fleet with non-emission vehicles. As ICE vehicles will effectively cease production from 2035, that dovetails with the internationally agreed requirement to reduce emissions by 2050.
Coupled with that, hydrogen fuel cell technology will be sufficiently advanced to power trucks, trains, heavy equipment, aircraft and boats/ships no later than 2030. Large ships burning tonnes of bunker fuel per voyage will be a distant memory by 2050 for example. But importantly, achieving the 2050 emissions target cannot be achieved without eliminating ICE petrol/diesel passenger vehicles.
Overarching all this, global organisations such as the UN, EU and IPCC plus every major political party and most politicians on the planet has been captured, rightly or wrongly, by the environmental movement. Everybody is singing from the same song sheet egged on by every NGO, chancer, influencer and charlatan – all of whom recognise the vast, almost incalculable, sums of money to be skimmed.
I acknowledge the gigantic infrastructure and cost* issues with charging all these EVs and hydrogen refuelling, but a transport transformation is underway and it cannot be stopped. By the end of this decade EV production will be frenetic and growing rapidly. Demand for lithium, graphite, ‘heavy’ magnets, rare earths, hydrogen production facilities (plus transportation) and rechargers, to name just a few, will be immense. Invest now. You don’t have to necessarily agree with the rationale for the global shift to net zero, but you might as well make some money out of it.
* The current consensus seems to be that the cost to achieve net zero will require expenditure between 1.5% – 2% of global GDP per year until 2050. Global GDP is currently around $US87 trillion per annum.
The GDP expenditure forecast is very likely optimistic.