Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) are hydrogen-powered. They are more efficient than conventional engine vehicles and produce minimal carbon emissions. Hydrogen production via electrolysis yields water vapor and air. Hydrogen is one of the alternative fuels listed under the Energy Policy Act of 1992 and has qualified for alternative fuel vehicle tax credits. The six well-known fuel cells are Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM), Alkaline (AFC), Phosphoric Acid (PAFC), Solid Oxide (SOFC), and Molten Carbonate (MCFC).
Often referred to as the “future mobility and a silver bullet” to the climate calamity, these FCEVs are a feasible option to do away with greenhouse emissions. OEMs and various stakeholders are rushing to be in line with the regulations put forth by different agencies. One such recent target set is the European Commission’s audacious target of making 40% of new vans and cars zero or low-emission vehicles by 2030.
There are several reasons for hydrogen to been seen as an alternative to combustion-based engine vehicles; there are several advantages of employing FCEVs:
- Quick charging time: This feature has helped to boost flexibility and usage. The fuel cells’ hydrogen tanks get full and are ready to go in just five minutes.
- No engine noise: With no engine noise and a strong start owing to hydrogen-powered electric motors providing full torque even at low speeds, the propulsion in these fuel-cell cars is electrical.
- A more extended range: Hydrogen cars have a longer range as compared to other electric vehicles. It provides a more outstanding mileage of around 300 miles.
- Increased productivity: The hydrogen fuel cell is the perfect alternative to other non-conventional means —it has an efficiency of around 60%, whereas others offer an efficiency of just about 20%-30%. It is also more productive because 1 kg of hydrogen produces three times as much energy as 1 kg of petrol.
Shifting Industry Patterns
Of late, a lot of mergers, acquisitions, and joint ventures can be seen coming up, and the significant players are readily acquiring hydrogen-related companies. Several companies have given up because of high up-front costs and great competition with BEVs. However, there is still a silver lining for them. Several automobile manufacturers have leaped on the bandwagon and partnered with several hydrogen producers and filling-station managers.
Germany may lead as BMW contemplates expanding the hydrogen fueling-station network to around 130 stations by 2022. This is expected to enable approximately 60,000 hydrogen cars in the country. That’s not the end of growth. With such an unprecedented spike, 400 hydrogen stations are expected by 2025 in Germany itself.
This spike in the production of fuel-cell vehicles is witnessed globally. Big names in the automotive industry are inclining towards this. Hyundai Motor is gearing up to produce fuel-cell-powered heavy vehicles from 2023 after the initial trials in 2021. South Korea’s Ministry of Environment will acknowledge this entire process till launch. Hyundai Motor has also reportedly partnered with the US Department of Energy (DoE). The latter will receive five FCEVs—dubbed Nexo that will significantly boost the fuel-cell technologies.
Toyota Motor Corp. is heading to manufacture around 2,00,000 hydrogen-powered vehicles by 2025. The company expects a capacity of 200,000 units non-auto industry and 500,000 hydrogen fuel cells for commercial vehicles and passenger cars.
To make vehicles greener, Robert Bosch GmbH has recently partnered with Powercell Sweden AB, a fuel-cell stack maker. This deal involves manufacturing PEM-based fuel cells, and the stack will be added to different Bosch’s fuel-cell products. Bosch predicts a minimum of 20% EVs globally that will be fuel-cell-powered by 2030.
The Technology Is Used For Heavy-Duty Vehicles Too
Heavy-duty trucks, logistic vehicles, passenger vehicles, and buses are also targeted to be FCEVs’ significant employers. The prominence of heavy-duty cars has surged significantly in recent years, with many taking the lead like Hyundai, Toyota, Fast Track Fuel Cell Truck, and Foton Motor Group.
OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturer) and several other green advocates consider these heavy-duty trucks as a compelling alternative for zero-emission vehicles considering scenarios of high pollution and greenhouse emissions. Most OEMs are thus currently focusing on R&D in this area.
Though the development of fuel-cell heavy-duty vehicles hasn’t yet gotten lots of traction, such trucks can provide faster refueling times versus battery-electric trucks and travel longer distances. This step, in turn, of course, will help minimize the downtime across entire fleets.
Case Study: Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Powered Electric Vehicles Set To Be Used As Public Vehicles In California
A novel car-sharing service is offering hydrogen-powered FCEVs at affordable rates. This service is viewed as a new, cleaner-burning mobility option in two backward areas of California. This initiative is named the StratosShare program. It launched in Riverside and San Bernardino counties in 2019. This is one of the first initiatives in the United States to combine the car-pooling model with FCEVs.
StratosFuel (the program’s founding company) considers its relationship with the local Clean Cities as the key to success.
Strategies to solve challenges and to improve the future utility
The company has placed these shared vehicles at convenient and accessible locations. Customers also have the choice to return the car from the pick-up point or at other drop-off spots. To enable this flexibility, the company looks out to working with partners in identifying suitable parking locations.
The company has also developed creative ways to ensure that the vehicles’ tanks stay full at all times. Each car has its fuel card, and the StatosShare app provides step-by-step instructions. It provides 24/7 customer service support that is always available on the phone. When the fuel gauge dips lower than a quarter, StratosFuel dispatches a team member to fill the vehicle between the rental spots.
As StratosShare looks to the future, its officials say that they will maintain their vehicle-use data that will be used to determine if there is a demand for more vehicles or fuel. In preparing for this growth, StratosFuel is expanding its ZIP facility to increase production and screen new fueling station locations.
Mr. Rafay Anwar is a Manager at Ingenious e-Brain, a leading global ISO certified company providing a broad spectrum of IP intelligence, technology intelligence and business intelligence services to worldwide companies and legal firms across the globe.
What’s Going On Between Tesla & China?
Around the time Tesla announced plans to build the Shanghai Gigafactory, China’s government rolled out the red carpet. Relaxed regulations on foreign ownership, expedited building permits, even an offer of a residence permit — nothing was too good for Elon Musk and his team. China wanted the jobs and contracts for local suppliers that Tesla promised, and Tesla delivered.
— Tesla Greater China (@teslacn) April 29, 2021
Lately, however, some have been asking if the honeymoon is over. A scrappy new domestic model, the Wuling HongGuang Mini EV, appeared out of nowhere to steal Tesla’s first-place monthly sales rank. A young lady who was dissatisfied with the way Tesla handled her brake situation attracted a lot of attention with a high-profile protest at the Shanghai Auto Show. [Editor’s note: From what I’ve read, the brakes performed normally in order to get good traction. However, there’s no doubt this lady generated a lot of headlines and different interpretations within China and outside of it.] Now, the Global Times, a state media outlet, has claimed that “sales are expected to drop sharply” because of Tesla’s supposed problems with handling customer complaints.
Reporters have been asking China hand Michael Dunne whether Tesla is in trouble in the Middle Kingdom, but, as he reports in his latest ZoZo Go Newsletter, Tesla’s prospects in China remain brilliant. The automaker delivered 35,000 Model 3s and Model Ys in March, by far its best month ever.
As for the customer complaints, Dunne reports that, in a recent survey conducted by China Quality Network, the Tesla Model 3 received the fewest complaints of any model on the market. “When you look back over Tesla’s six-year history in China, you will discover that customer complaints are nothing new,” he writes. “What is different this time around is that China’s state media feels it has sufficient power to remind Tesla that it operates in China only at the pleasure of regulators in Beijing. Tesla started out with all the leverage. Now things are leaning in China’s direction.”
As many in the auto media have observed, Tesla needs China, and China needs Tesla. As a global automaker, Tesla needs to succeed in the world’s largest auto market. Meanwhile, China hopes to use electrification as its path to a seat at the top table of the industry, and its companies and engineers need the technology and experience they can gain by working with the world’s EV trendsetter.
Apparently, from time to time, the Chinese media finds it necessary to remind the Californians who’s boss. “When China was eager to secure Tesla’s investment into the Shanghai Gigafactory, the Global Times had nothing but praise for Elon and his company,” writes Dunne. “But now that the plant is built and the production continues to climb, the Global Times sees that Tesla needs China just as much as — if not more than — China needs Tesla.”
What exactly does China want from Tesla at this point? Expert China-watcher Dunne concedes that “you never know. The regulators and state media launch their mortars but there is no instructions memo attached. As we speak, you can bet the Tesla China leadership team is working all the back channels to discover what is required to get this storm to pass.”
Dunne suspects that Chinese authorities will press Tesla to accelerate “original engineering” in China, allowing domestic firms to get more involved in the development of key EV components, including advanced chips. As local control over sales, supply chains, and original engineering increase, Tesla’s leverage vis a vis China’s powers-that-be may continue to erode.
Dunne’s conclusion: “Tough arena, China.”
Legacy Auto Paid To Advertise EVs On SNL Last Night, While Tesla’s Elon Musk Hosted
In a move that proves that Tesla is the leader of the auto industry in at least one sense, legacy automakers — Ford, Audi, and VW scrambled to get some EV advertising on Saturday Night Live last night. Lucid also joined the legacy automakers in this endeavor. This is a win for those of us trying to convince our friends and families to switch to a cleaner vehicle. How does this prove that Tesla is the industry leader? Well, Tesla’s CEO was the host of last night’s episode of SNL.
You may have lost a few thousand on $DOGE last night but remember, Ford, VW and Polestar probably lost millions last night advertising to Elon and Tesla fans.
— Max (@1478397vw) May 9, 2021
The Verge noted that a total of five of Tesla’s competitors bought ad time during last night’s SNL episode and that commercials for the Audi e-tron, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Volkswagen ID.4, and Lucid Air all aired within the first 20 minutes of SNL.
The article noted that it wasn’t just EV companies either. Sierra Space is a rival of SpaceX and it purchased several spots that will run on YouTube clips of Elon Musks’s appearance on SNL. The Verge noted that Sierra Space is also targeting non-SNL video clips of Elon Musk on YouTube.
USA Today also noted there were four automakers that bought ad time, but this time naming Lucid, Ford, Volkswagen, and Volvo.
Legacy Auto Had To Pay For What Tesla Got For Free
This got me😂😂 pic.twitter.com/6vk2xUvUn5
— Nyasha-mercy (@NyashaMercy_) May 9, 2021
Tesla is notorious for not buying advertising, and in the days leading up to Elon’s appearance on SNL, there was ample proof that Tesla doesn’t need to spend anything on advertising. Elon had the Tesla Cybertruck on display at a Tesla store in Manhattan, and when it wasn’t on display, he was driving it all over the city. This led to videos and photos being shared to the point that Tesla’s Cybertruck started trending on Twitter.
— Jon Clemons (@jonclemonsjp) May 8, 2021
Naturally, this led to a plethora of news stories about the vehicle on the streets of New York. Business Insider, Fox News, CNET, The Independent, and several others covered the story. We wrote about it being on display in New York and I probably would have written about it being on the streets of New York as well, but I wanted to wait until after SNL aired to write this.
The Independent wrote, “Tesla’s Cybertruck caused a stir in New York City as it took to the streets ahead of Elon Musk hosting Saturday Night Live.”
Cybertruck is trending on Twitter, Ford is not trending. Tesla satisfies woke desires.
— Lee Nelson (@technologiclee) May 8, 2021
One notable area that the Cybertruck was spotted in was New York’s Times Square. Investopedia noted that there’s an average of 380,000 pedestrians that go through times Square daily. There’s another 115,000 drivers and passengers as well, and on busy days, that number can go up to a total of 460,000 people, making it one of the busiest tourist attractions in the world. Investopedia also stated that for marketers, Times Square advertising receives roughly 1.5 million impressions day-to-day and that the cost of advertising is between $1.1 and $4 million a year. From Investopedia:
“A Times Square billboard cost for a day can start at $5000 and go up to well over $50,000. Moreover, it can cost up to $3 million per month to advertise on Time Square’s largest billboard. The average cost per impression for a billboard advertisement for the rest of America is much lower, ranging from 0.2 to 0.5 cents.”
However, it’s free to drive there. Well, you’d have to pay for gas if your car isn’t an EV, but, technically, driving on the streets is free. And when you have a vehicle that is as unique and recognizable as the Tesla Cybertruck, driving in Times Square is something that will definitely make the news — especially since many mainstream media outlets love to report on Tesla’s every move.
— 𝐄𝐫𝐢𝐜 𝐑𝐢𝐡𝐥𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐧 (@ericrihlmann) May 8, 2021
The tweet above by Eric Rihlmann has been featured in a few news articles. It has gotten over 3,000 retweets and over 17,000 likes on Twitter. It’s also had over 700 replies. Of those retweets, 868 of them were quote tweets, with a range of comments. Someone said they were buying a Tesla while others were asking questions such as, “How does it fair on slushy, snowy roads that may or may not have a nice layer of ice underneath?”
I know a gaht damn transformer when I see one Elon ainn slick 🤨 https://t.co/oXFnjj8hWr
— $teeezy🥂 (@Steeezy4b) May 8, 2021
That look like one of my high school laptops 💻 on the run from my math quiz scores.
— Black (@unbothered___81) May 9, 2021
For some reason, this was designed to avoid detection by enemy radar.
— Kurt (@_Kurt_Kurt_Kurt) May 9, 2021
How This Makes Tesla The Leader
Although Tesla’s market cap is three times the size of Toyota’s, which used to be #1, Tesla isn’t the top seller in vehicles — not een close. Tesla is still ramping up production capacity, which take s along time even when done at a hyperfast speed. But it is the most talked about automaker and brand in the auto industry. This is what makes Tesla the leader. Other automakers can’t compete, and thus have to buy the attention.
Think about it. Ford and a few other legacy automakers paid money for 30 seconds of air time while Tesla’s CEO didn’t have to pay a dime for hosting the entire show. In fact, he was probably paid as an actor for his time (I don’t know the specifics, though). If he was paid, he got paid to talk about Tesla and his other projects.
For electric vehicles as a whole, this competitive rush is showing consumers that electric is the future. With Tesla leading the way and being the loudest voice for EVs, automakers have no other choice but to follow if they want to survive what Tesla is doing to their industry.
Featured image designed by Johnna Crider (screenshot of SNL clip made into a graphic)
Electric Vehicle Direct Sales vs. Auto Dealer Protectionism — Podcast with James Chen of Rivian (& Formerly Tesla)
This is the second part of a two-part CleanTech Talk interview with Vice President of Public Policy at Rivian James Chen. A video recording of our one-hour discussion is also now online for CleanTechnica Members, Supporters, Technicians, and Ambassadors to view on YouTube. But if you prefer straight audio, you can listen below (I’m embedding both parts of the interview) or on a large variety of podcast platforms.
|You can subscribe and listen to CleanTech Talk on: Anchor, Apple Podcasts/iTunes, Breaker, Google Podcasts, Overcast, Pocket, Podbean, Radio Public, SoundCloud, Spotify, or Stitcher.|
In this portion of the podcast, I asked about legacy automakers previously trying to sell directly to consumers. James pointed out that Ford tried to sell vehicles directly in the 1990s, but couldn’t. But that doesn’t mean they should have another shot in the present or future. James said that Rivian’s view is that any manufacturer producing EVs should be able to sell EVs directly to consumers.
James also pointed out that Canada allows both options — conventional auto dealers as well as automakers selling directly to consumers — and it works fine.
I also asked Rivian’s top dog battling antiquated dealer-protection laws about the argument that “you need dealers for consumer protection.” I couldn’t get the question out without laughing, because the argument is so hilariously insincere, but James took the question seriously nonetheless and had a lot of interesting things to say. He explained in detail the various consumer protections that exist — there are many — to protect auto buyers. The idea that dealers are needed to protect consumers is simply myth — as if you hadn’t figured that out by now.
That doesn’t mean James sees dealers as dead corporations walking. He sees a future for them! Well, some of them. “I think there’s a real opportunity here for franchise dealers to look at their business model and evolve. They don’t have to be the buggy whip manufacturers of the 1900s, or the blacksmiths of the 1900s. They can look at the business model and figure out how to evolve.” He goes on to give an example, Cox Automotive, and what it is doing to progress in various ways.
We also heard a bit from James about his deeper history as an environmental lawyer and “car guy,” and how that mixture ended up leading him to Tesla, and more recently Rivian.
James mentioned Tim Echols and his EV policy leadership in Georgia*, which got me thinking about EV champions in the policy world, leading me to ask him a few questions about that. He mentioned Governor Polis and some of the great stuff he has been doing in Colorado as well as Governor Whitmer’s own style of EV leadership in Michigan. (*See: “Georgia Commissioner Tim Echols Explores Rivian At Georgia State Capitol” and “Joe Biden: A Chance To Save The Day,” by Tim Echols.)
James also talked a bit more about how antiquated, anti–free market state policies regarding auto dealerships have been resolved or improved in certain states.
To close, we talked a bit about EV policy and sales leadership in Europe and China. We also talked about how important it is to the future of the United States economy and its people to not be a laggard in this sector.
China’s Current Emissions Overtake OECD Nations
China now emits more greenhouse gas pollution than the 37 member nations of the OECD combined, a new report from the Rhodium Group says.
China’s climate pollution has increased dramatically in recent decades and its cumulative emissions since 1750 are still far smaller than the cumulative pollution emitted by OECD nations.
China now accounts for more than a quarter of global climate pollution, well over double the U.S., Earth’s second-largest polluter, which accounts for 11% of global climate pollutants.
China’s much larger population, however, means its per-capita emissions are still far lower than the U.S. per-capita emissions, which remains the world’s worst polluter per capita.
Originally published by Nexus Media
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