Archive for the ‘General’ Category


Mar 06

Peak Demand Projected For Gasoline By 2021


By Jon LeSage

Demand for gasoline has been projected to reach its peak next year in the U.S. and as early as 2021 globally.

Analysts at Edinburgh-based consultancy WoodMackenzie say this will happen in the face of continuing growth in the vehicle fleet due to vehicle engine efficiency. The rising number of hybrid and electric vehicles being sold and higher fuel standards in the U.S. and Europe will contribute to the historic consumption shift.

The dramatic drop in oil prices during 2014 brought oil consumption to a record high last year, with 9.326 million barrels per day last year consumed in the U.S.

That will be changing in years ahead. An expected recovery in oil prices in coming years will be an important factor in demand growth diminishing, WoodMackenzie said.

Reaching that peak will have a huge economic impact eventually, with demand for gasoline in the U.S. accounting for 10 percent of global oil consumption; and global demand for gasoline representing a more than a quarter of the world’s oil consumption, according to WoodMackenzie.

The consulting firm thinks that improvement in battery technology will be a turning point.

“We expect gasoline engine efficiency to continue to improve through better deployment of batteries in hybrid vehicles,” WoodMac analyst Alan Gelder said.

The question of whether peak oil demand will be reached has been a hot topic of debate over the past decade by oil companies, regulators, economists, auto executives, and environmental groups. Oil companies and oil processors face a period of change as several nations, and a United Nations-backed plan, consider getting rid of fossil fuels entirely in the next 20 years or so.

Vitol, the world’s top oil trader, expects global demand for gasoline and diesel to peak in 2027-2028. Royal Dutch Shell predicts oil demand could peak in the 2030s.

The International Energy Agency expects oil consumption to grow in the foreseeable future, but at much slower rates.

SEE ALSO:  Does America Still Need Green Cars Now That It’s Swimming in Oil?

There are other economic and fuel consumption factors to consider. Growing vehicle sales and fuel consumption in Asia will play a part. Fuel efficient vehicle sales are expected to increase, but the global gasoline car fleet is expected to grow by more than 10 percent by 2025 to above 1 billion vehicles, WoodMac predicts.

“We still see global oil demand growing but the role of transportation shrinks,” WoodMac analyst Alan Gelder said.

WoodMac sees demand coming more form the petrochemical sector, with oil feedstocks going into plastics. Demand should also see an increase from the diesel and gasoil used in commercial transportation by buses, ships, and airplanes.

The study expects that overall consumption will see an historic drop.

“Traditionally we had (annual) oil demand growth north of 1 million barrels per day. We are transitioning over the next decade to growth of around 500,000 bpd a year,” Gelder said.



Mar 03

Volt is Country’s Best Selling Plug-in Car So Far This Year


With two months out of 12 completed, and yet early in the year, the Chevrolet Volt is the best-selling plug-in car in America.

That has a nice ring to it doesn’t it? February’s 1,820 sales added to January’s 1,611 come to 3,431 for the Bowtie-branded car with a plug and gas engine backup.

Next down is an estimated 2,900 estimated sales by the Tesla Model S through February, then 2,728 sales for the Toyota Prius Prime, and 2,114 for another Chevy product you may have heard of, the Bolt EV.

Another data point of interest is out of three dozen regular hybrids tracked on the Dashboard, only four have higher (and they are substantially higher) numbers than the Volt.

How the rest of the year will go of course is anyone’s guess.

We’ll post the entire charts below for your perusal.


Mar 02

Panasonic Solar Roof Will Energize Toyota Prius Prime in Japan


On Tuesday Panasonic unveiled a next-generation solar roof panel that will be optionally used on the Japanese-market Toyota Prius Prime.

With more than triple the energy generation of former 50-watt roof panels on the Toyota, the HIT™ Photovoltaic Module for Automobile could find its way onto other brand cars and will be able to power accessories and charge the battery with 180 watts output.

The idea of using available real estate on the car and capturing the sun’s energy may sound great, but even with superior photovoltaic cells, Toyota estimates on a sunny day maybe only 3.7 miles of electric range may be added.

That won’t do away with the need to plug in for the Prius Prime estimated in the U.S. with 25 miles range, but every bit counts.

Whether further advancements could inch the solar juice upwards enough to make the idea widespread is unclear, but Panasonic said new chemistry is responsible for its latest innovation

“Panasonic’s solar cells have a unique structure that combines a crystalline silicon substrate and an amorphous silicon film, and feature high conversion efficiency and excellent temperature characteristics,” said the company.

Notable also is Panasonic is a solar cell and battery supplier to Tesla, and is leveraging that relationship to potentially do business with other carmakers.

“Panasonic will make efforts to expand the use of the ‘HIT™ Photovoltaic Module for Automobile’ and contribute to the achievement of an environmentally friendly society in the automotive as well as the housing and industrial fields,” Panasonic said.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said the Model 3 will “probably” have a solar roof option as well, and if the idea continues to gain traction, it may become more common.

To date, Panasonic has not announced it would put the bent-glass covered roof on the U.S. market Prius Prime however.

The company is reportedly working on a solution to enable the roof to pass U.S. rollover tests, but for now this is a work in progress with no timeline given.

Meanwhile inquiring minds want to know: is this something GM should do and do you suppose it will?


Mar 01

Lyft Spreads Across US With Openings in 50 More Cities


By Jon LeSage

Ride-hailing firm Lyft will be spreading its presence across the U.S. by adding 50 more cities.

The announcement from Thursday follows one from the previous month about another 40 U.S. cities being added to the service network. Lyft says it’s all part of this year’s “massive expansion,” with the goal of providing millions more people across the country with access to reliable, affordable transportation through a “peer-to-peer ridesharing community.”

The list of 50 new cities served includes mid-size markets across the U.S., such as Pensacola, Fla.; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Flint, Mich.; and Amarillo, Texas.

Autoblog reports that Lyft wants to expand to about 300 U.S. cities by the end of the year. The ride-hailing service would be available to about 72 percent of the U.S. population at that point, the company said.

Lyft has been competing head-to-head with Uber. Los Angeles has been considered to be a battleground for the two companies in bringing down fares to get more rides from customers who want to avoid getting stuck driving through heavy traffic and finding limited parking spaces.

SEE ALSO:  Sooner Than Some Think, Lyft Will Launch GM’s First Autonomous Electric Car

Lyft followed Uber by about two years with its 2012 launch in San Francisco. Uber has been spreading its presence into other segments including food delivery and assisting disabled passengers. Futuristic plans include autonomous vehicles and flying cars.

Lyft, on the other hand, has been sticking with individual and shared rides, though a partnership with General Motors is opening up new opportunities.

In January 2016, GM made a $500 million investment in Lyft and has plans to jointly promote and deliver automated rides and to sell GM cars directly to Lyft drivers who need them. The automaker has been planning to work with Lyft next year to bring thousands of self-driving Chevy Bolts out for test runs, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

GM also sees a growing opportunity serving the carsharing market through its new Maven subsidiary. Maven, like Lyft, is also seeing expansion into new U.S. cities.



Feb 28

Workhorse Bringing 500 Plug-in Hybrid Pickups to California Utilities


By Jon LeSage

Workhorse Group, Inc., is moving forward in taking fleet orders for its W-15 Plug-In Electric Pickup, through an agreement made with utilities in southern California.

The original equipment manufacturer will be bringing 500 of its pickups with a plug to Southern California Public Power Authority (SCPPA), a joint power authority made up of 11 municipal utilities and one irrigation district in the region.

The company cites letters of intent also made with Duke Energy, Portland General Electric, the City of Orlando, and other fleet clients.

“We will be testing the truck to confirm our expectation that the W-15 Electric Pickup may save utilities money over the life of the vehicle, when compared to a conventional gasoline-powered pickup,” said Michael Webster, SCPPA’s executive director. “SCPPA and our publicly-owned utility Members are committed to sustainability, the safety of our drivers and the communities we serve. The Workhorse W-15 could assist in all of these areas by reducing emissions, as well as reducing fuel and maintenance costs.”

The W-15 light duty platform design is an extension of the E-Gen electric technology used in Workhorse medium-duty delivery trucks, according to the company. Panasonic 18650 lithium-ion batteries can carry the truck about 80 miles on battery only. While the press release doesn’t mention it, a small two-cylinder gasoline engine onboard acts as a generator to add a hybrid driving range of an estimated 310 miles.

The company said that it expects to offer the W-15 for an MSRP of $52,500. It will be revealed in early May at the ACT Expo in Long Beach, Calif.

Deliveries are expected to begin in 2018.

SEE ALSO:  Workhorse Group Plans a PHEV Pickup Truck With 80-Mile Electric Range

The W-15 will also offer the feature of providing an energy source for fleets needing crews to tap into that power out in the field. Utility fleets can power equipment directly from the pickups battery power source. That power can be tapped into without the truck running, and could also be a backup energy source during blackout.

Workhorse is competing directly with Via Motors, which offers converted plug-in hybrid pickups to fleets. Via Motors had backing from former General Motors vice chair and Chevrolet Volt marketer Bob Lutz.

The company says manufacturing the plug-in hybrid pickup makes it unique in the market.

“We believe this will be the first plug-in range-extended electric pickup truck built from the ground up by an OEM in America.  Our existing electric medium duty, delivery truck business has demonstrated that low Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is compelling to fleets,” said Steve Burns, Workhorse CEO.

Workhorse Group is also known for testing out a drone package delivery system.


Feb 27

Consumer Watchdogs To Trump: Don’t Cut US Fuel Economy Standards


After every automaker doing business in the U.S. signed off on two letters asking President Donald Trump to reconsider national mpg standards, consumer advocacy groups have asked him to keep the rules in place.

The groups, Consumers Union which publishes Consumer Reports, and the Consumer Federation of America, said in their joint letter that cheaper fuel costs promised by tough Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards benefit Americans.

SEE ALSO: Automakers Distressed Over EPA’s Fuel Economy Announcement

To date, there is no official indication President Trump will re-open review of the fuel economy and emission standards through 2025, but things could be headed that way.

The day after Trump was inaugurated, the Auto Alliance representing 77 percent of U.S. automakers asked him to reconsider rules for 2022-2025 and that has since been added to by the global automakers. In all, these groups represent 13 automakers who are asking Trump to review rules set under the Obama administration.

The automakers’ letters were a response in turn to a move performed at the end of Obama’s presidency to either lock in or make the EPA rules difficult to modify.

SEE ALSO: EPA Finalizes 2025 Fuel Economy Rules Before Trump Enters Office

In the case of politics as usual, the EPA under Obama rushed a final determination for 2022-2025 rules early this year ahead of an April 2018 deadline. The action was decried by automakers who say the rules are too tough, and will cost as many as 1 million jobs, with resultant losses to the U.S. economy.

With their letter this week, Consumers Union and the Consumer Federation of America – who represent consumer interests – now beg to differ.

SEE ALSO: Automakers to New EPA Chief: Drop Obama’s CO2 Rules

“If standards are rolled back, the biggest losers will be hardworking Americans, many of whom put Trump into office,” said CFA Director of Public Affairs Jack Gillis in a phone interview today. “The biggest winners will be foreign oil which we’ve done a pretty good job of reducing dependence on because of these standards.”

The CU/CFA letter also bypasses any talk of greenhouse gas, as Trump is not a believer in man-made climate change. It instead speaks to interests he was elected to champion.

This shift in rhetoric to suit the change in political winds has been seen already, such as by Tesla, which recently posted a video touting “energy security” and avoiding talk of climate change although this is very much also an interest for parties involved.

At this stage, Gillis said his organization and Consumers Union are proactively preparing, and want a “seat at the table” should Trump attempt to reopen the review of CAFE standards.

The CFA backs its assertion that CAFE standards “can save consumers thousands of dollars over the life of the vehicle in reduced gas costs, even at today’s lower prices” with data from “numerous” cost-benefit analyses.

“It is clear to us that the car companies are working very hard to reopen the discussion and obviously their intent is not to beef it up, but to roll it back,” Gillis said.

SEE ALSO: CAFE’s Midterm Evaluation For 2022-2025 Could Electrify Automakers One Way Or The Other

Ironically, the 13 automakers doing business in North America had previously signed off on the rules they may now wish to contest, he said. And, they agreed to it when “they weren’t doing so well and now they are doing smashing” he said of solid profits and sales record in recent years.

Ironic also is the carmakers have demonstrated they can profit despite being well on their way to ramping up mpg and curtailing fleet average CO2.

“When we look at their performance over the years, its clear the automakers are well on their way to meeting an estimated 40 mpg by 2025 – keep in mind that’s 8 years away.”

Publications more often publish the EPA’s standard of “54.5” mpg or a few mpg less to satisfy CAFE, but on window stickers that consumers will see, the rules equate to high 30s, or low 40s by 2025 compared to mid 20s today.

Following is the open letter in its entirety.

Dear Mr. President:

On behalf of Consumers Union and the Consumer Federation of America, we ask that you maintain the strong fuel economy standards established by the Environmental Protection Agency. These standards help to lower fuel costs for middle class families across the country, support job creation and innovation, and improve air quality.

Rolling back fuel economy standards would hurt hard-working, middle-class Americans and small businesses that rely on a car or truck for their livelihood. Even at today’s lower prices, gasoline is a major expense for a majority of American families. Fuel economy standards are a cost-effective way to save consumers money on fuel. In fact, Consumers Union’s research shows that consumers would enjoy net savings of $3,200 per car and $4,800 per truck, over the life of a vehicle that meet the 2025 standards, even at today’s low gas prices. If gas prices rise, which we expect they will, the savings would be significantly higher. And when consumers save money, they spend it on local goods and services, helping to further boost the economy and encourage more job growth.

Rolling back the standards will rob consumers of these savings, providing them with less expendable income. For families struggling to cover basic needs, this would be an added burden. Improving fuel efficiency in cars and trucks not only saves money today, but help provide families with a bit of insurance against future gas price increases. In fact, strong majorities of consumers across the political spectrum value fuel economy standards—our recent surveys and polls show that about 80% of Americans support the standards.

Thanks to fuel economy standards, the automakers have invested in innovative technologies to improve fuel economy, and their efforts have paid off. Automakers have not only met today’s fuel economy standards, but they have exceeded the standards in many cases, all while enjoying record profits and record sales. Many cars and trucks available today outperform standards set for 2020 and 2021. And one of the great features of the fuel economy standards is that they are flexible and adapt to the vehicles consumers actually buy–as consumer demand has shifted toward larger vehicles, automakers’ targets have also lowered because larger vehicles have lower efficiency targets. The standards help improve consumer choices across the entire fleet regardless of the size of vehicles consumers choose to buy. Finally, the standards will go a long way to keeping the car companies from again needing a bailout as they did when their lots were filled with unsold inefficient vehicles the last time gas prices peaked.

Consumers are relying on fuel economy standards to lower their fuel costs in the future. Staying the course on fuel economy supports working families and increases American jobs, which are top priorities for our nation.


Shannon Baker-Branstetter

Consumers Union

Jack Gillis

Consumer Federation of America

Cc: Administrator G. Scott Pruitt, EPA

Secretary Elaine Chao, DOT

Kevin Green, DOT

Bill Charmley, EPA

Chris Grundler, EPA

Michael Olechiw EPA

Rebecca Yoon, NHTSA

James Tamm, NHTSA

Mike McCarthy, CARB

Annette Hebert, CARB

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