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New York Is 95% Of The Way To Its 6 Gigawatts By 2025 Solar Power Goal

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Generate Capital Community Solar Project, 17B, in New York, courtesy of NY Governor Cuomo.

New York’s solar growth has climbed 2,100% since the NY-Sun initiative was launched in 2011. The cost of solar dropped 69% in that same period. Naturally, there are large global trends driving these results, but they are great for New York nonetheless. They’re also helping New York Governor Cuomo to easily approach his goal of six gigawatts (GW) of solar power by 2025 — a mandate from the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. New York is 95% there when you look at projects that have already been installed and connected to the grid as well as projects that are currently under development. Four years to add the other 5% doesn’t seem too hard.

One of the great economic benefits is that this solar power growth has created 12,000 jobs across the state.

“Solar energy is a key component in New York’s transition to a clean energy economy as we work to reduce harmful emissions across the board and address the dual challenges of fighting climate change and rebuilding stronger post-pandemic,” Governor Cuomo said. “The success of NY-Sun demonstrates we are on track to meeting our nation-leading energy goals while stimulating green job growth and economic recovery in communities across the state as part of our comprehensive plan to reimagine New York following the pandemic.”

Easy comments for the governor to make. Clearly, he has the whole global solar market and also policies around the world to thank for enabling the solar cost drops and more mature solar ecosystem. Though, New York also does deserve some love for its efforts and policies. Six gigawatts (or even 3 GW) of solar power are more than most countries have installed.

July 13, 2021 — Bethel, NY — Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul cuts the ribbon at the Generate Capital Community Solar Project, along with NYSERDA President and CEO Doreen Harris. (Philip Kamrass/New York Power Authority, courtesy of NY Governor Cuomo)

Generate Capital Community Solar Project, 17B, in New York, courtesy of NY Governor Cuomo.

Generate Capital Community Solar Project, 17B, in New York, courtesy of NY Governor Cuomo.

Generate Capital Community Solar Project, 17B, in New York, courtesy of NY Governor Cuomo.

Generate Capital Community Solar Project, 17B, in New York, courtesy of NY Governor Cuomo.

Here’s a bullet list from the state government highlighting some of what has been achieved since the NY-Sun initiative was launched in 2011:

  • Installed solar on the rooftop or property of 145,000 homes spanning every county in New York;
  • Provided over $1 billion in incentives, leveraging $5.3 billion in private investment;
  • Drove over 2,100 percent solar growth in the state;
  • Delivered enough clean, renewable energy to power over 522,000 New York homes;
  • Fostered 12,000 jobs in the solar industry;
  • Helped to drive down the cost of solar 69 percent in 10 years; and
  • Committed $30 million for projects benefiting environmental justice and disadvantaged communities.

“As someone who grew up near Lake Erie and saw first-hand the harmful effects caused by emissions from the local steel plant, creating a cleaner, greener future has always been a personal fight for me,” Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul added. “By reaching the historic milestone of three gigawatts of solar installed in New York, we can now power more than a half million homes with clean energy, while also creating good jobs and attracting further investment in our State’s green energy economy.”

Generate Capital Community Solar Project, 17B, in New York, courtesy of NY Governor Cuomo.

These announcements were made last week alongside a community solar power project ribbon cutting in the Mid-Hudson region — for the region’s largest community solar project to date. “17B,” as the project is known, is collecting sunlight and turning it into electricity in the town of Bethel, which some old-timers may know is “on the road leading to the site of the original 1969 Woodstock Music Festival.” Generate Capital owns the 6.8 MW community solar project, while it was developed by Delaware River Solar. The project is expected to produce 7.8 million kilowatt-hours of electricity a year. Subscriptions from 129 residences, small businesses, and nonprofits officially get the solar energy. (Though, technically, the power goes into the grid and the subscribers get electricity from the grid, like everyone else.) NYSERDA contributed more than $1 million for the project via the aforementioned NY-Sun initiative.

New York was the #1 state in the USA for community solar power installations in 2020, when it had 549 MW of community solar installed — most of which got support from NY-Sun incentives. Overall, New York is #2 for total installations.

Whether a large-scale solar farm or a somewhat smaller community solar project, and whether looking to install, manage, invest in, or buy a solar project, there is now an enormous amount of data out there to help pick the perfect location, optimize the development project, maximize maintenance procedures for greater efficiency, and simply monitor and analyze the project to see if it’s living up to expectations. Join us in a week for a detailed look at these factors and more, when we will be hosting an “Accelerating Quality Development and Origination” webinar.


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/07/22/new-york-is-95-of-the-way-to-its-6-gigawatts-by-2025-solar-power-goal/

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“Renewable Natural Gas” Is the Ultimate Red Herring

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There are three fossil fuels we must stop burning if we are to save our planet: coal, oil, and methane (aka “natural”) gas. Coal is declining precipitously. Scientists think we hit peak coal in 2013, and American use of coal has fallen by over 50% in the last 10 years (though, we need to quickly nail this coffin closed considering how dirty and polluting coal is). Oil is seeing the writing on the wall as major automakers commit to electric vehicles. Many think 2019 may have been the year we hit peak oil, and EVs are expected to make the internal combustion engine a “historical technology” by 2040. The faster we historicize petroleum, the better, so please buy that electric car or e-bike today. 

Natural gas (aka methane) now comes into sight as the next fossil fuel we need to banish in the quest to rescue ourselves from the most catastrophic climate catastrophe. Burning methane is currently responsible for nearly 25% of all carbon emissions in the US, and its use is growing. Methane is also deeply embedded in many of our homes, and this will make it a challenge to extricate. We aren’t anywhere near hitting peak natural gas usage on our current trajectory.

But, as of recently, some American cities, mostly in California, have recognized the need to eliminate gas and slowly get us off the fossil sauce. In 2019, these leading cities did something that had never been done in the history of our species — they started banning future use of methane in new construction. The idea has been to stop digging a hole that we have to quickly climb out of, so they legislated that no new homes or buildings should be built with methane hookups. This will avoid costly retrofits later. The city-led ban began in California, has reached over 50 cities, and is spreading up the West Coast like a good kind of wildfire. 

Enter “Renewable” Natural Gas

Any entrenched industry will fight with all its might not to disrupt revenue streams, regardless of the effects of their products on humanity (see: oxycontin and tobacco). So, it is to be expected that methane peddlers will spend the next crucial decades resisting efforts to ban their product. They’ll use lots of arguments to slow humanity’s inexorable push towards a fossil fuel future. The most ingenious/insidious one that we must quickly debunk is that their carbon polluting fuel is actually clean or has the potential to become so.

Enter, stage right, “renewable natural gas,” or RNG, a brilliant buzzword for a product that companies are counting on consumers to believe in, to continue with business mostly as usual. Renewable natural gas is methane that comes from biological sources like human and cow sewage or landfills. It differs from current methane, which is fracked from the earth’s interior, some of which escapes through pipes, while the rest is burned, adding to our dangerous warming blanket. RNG harnesses methane being created anyway and thus, doesn’t add new layers to our greenhouse problem. A group of nonprofits in my region just released an in-depth look at renewable natural gas and the numbers aren’t good. 

How to Make Renewable Natural Gas — Anaerobic Digestion and Gasification

Before we can examine how much RNG our society will be able to realistically produce, let’s briefly talk about the two ways to make renewable natural gas. Even though, as we’ll shortly see, RNG won’t come remotely close to meeting our current gas demand, it still has the potential to be an important, lower-carbon tool in reducing the emissions of hard-to-decarbonize applications (like industry). 

The first way to make RNG is through anaerobic digestion technology. This is a process where bacteria eat waste in an atmosphere that doesn’t contain oxygen (anaerobic). Sewage treatment plants and pig farms use this process. They gather fecal matter, bring bacteria to a specific temperature, do a lot of other magic in pipes, and out comes methane gas. Landfills are another source of this methane as wasted food and other fun stuff are eaten by bacteria underground and methane is created as a byproduct.

The second way to make RNG is through thermal gasification, which “uses energy to turn agriculture and commercial forest harvest residues” into something called Syngas. Syngas can then be converted to methane with more processing. According to a large survey by the State of Oregon, “There are currently no commercial-scale thermal gasification plants in the United States that convert biomass into methane. The existing plants produce syngas, which is burned and used to generate heat and electricity.” So thermal gasification is a potentially important, but unproven technology that should not make us believe that we can simply keep burning gas in our homes. 

How Much Renewable Natural Gas Could We Conceivably Produce?

In the 2018 Oregon study cited above, (which had many gas industry officials involved in its writing) researchers looked at what we could optimistically hope for from RNG production. The numbers aren’t good. The potential for anaerobic digestion is 4.6% while the potential for thermal gasification is 17.5% of current natural gas usage in the state. So RNG could potentially cover 20% of the methane gas we use today, assuming significant investments in technology and distribution systems that do not exist today – in other words and not anytime soon.Think about it. We could work our tushies off over the next couple, crucial decades, to try to decarbonize natural gas pipes, while the planet is heating up and wildfire smoke is crossing our country coast to coast, and after crucial time and work, we’d still be using 80% fracked, fossil natural gas. If that’s not backing the wrong horse, then I don’t know what is. 

Oregon’s numbers are similar to national numbers. Another study found that, nationally, we could hope for about 16% renewable natural gas, and again, this is far in the future and only if we invest heavily in RNG.

Compare that to electricity as a fuel, and you’ll see a stark difference. Right now, the national electric grid gets 20% of its power from renewables and 20% from nuclear, making electricity 40% carbon free. Biden wants to get to 100% by 2035. Oregon recently passed a law to get to 80% clean electricity by 2030 and 100% by 2040. Wind and solar are carbon neutral and are the cheapest and most installed forms of new energy generation. We have the roadmap and the tools to completely decarbonize electricity over the next 10–20 years and are doing so faster than anyone expected. Clean electricity is real, proven, happening and the horse we should be backing. 

Other problems with renewable natural gas

There are other significant problems with renewable natural gas which are highlighted in depth in this brilliant article by Laura Feinstein and Eric de Place. Renewable natural gas isn’t even zero carbon. It is true that it often comes from existing sources of methane, but often those sources of methane could be avoided. Take landfills for example. When we toss food scraps into landfills it creates methane. We could capture that methane to make renewable natural gas or we could compost the food scraps like many cities and nations do, and avoid making that methane in the first place and get the benefits of richer, healthier soil in our communities. Relying on renewable natural gas could thus lock us into wasteful, inefficient practices when other options exist. 

Another significant problem is that RNG costs a lot to make. A million BTUs of methane gas currently costs $3. The median cost for the equivalent amount of RNG is about 6 times that, at $18. Yipes! Imagine telling consumers that their gas bills are going to sextuple, and you’ll start to see how viable RNG is as a long term solution. 

Scratch the surface, and it’s easy to see how RNG meets the classic definition of a red herring; “something that misleads and distracts us from a relevant or important question.” There won’t be very much of it, and it’s going to be very expensive. Let’s not get sidetracked from real climate solutions. When our local methane suppliers use the word “renewable” to keep pumping fossils into our homes, we need to understand that this is at best a stalling tactic and a greenwash to distract from the dangers of methane gas. Let’s stay focused on more realistic solutions for heating our homes and addressing the climate crisis like electrification.

I’ll be co-hosting a free webinar with Electrify Now on “The Future of Natural Gas” on Wednesday, September 22. Register and get more information here

Check out this in-depth report on methane gas released by a coalition of 62 organizations recently. 

Related: Natural Gas Leaks Deadly For Trees (Video)

 

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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/09/16/renewable-natural-gas-is-the-ultimate-red-herring/

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Plugin Electric Vehicles Get 28% Market Share in Germany in August!

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The German plugin vehicle market scored over 53,000 registrations last month, with BEVs growing faster (+80% YoY) than PHEVs (+43%). As a result, last month’s plugin share ended at 28% (15% BEV). If you also consider the significant fall of the overall market (-23% YoY/year over year), that means petrol sales (-42% YoY) and even more so diesel sales (-51%) are falling off a cliff.

So, this is what disruption looks like….

The yearly plugin vehicle market share stayed stable at 23% (11% BEV). There were 421,262 plugin vehicle registrations in the first eight months of the year. This market is firmly in The Disruption Zone and well ahead of last year’s score of 14% plugin vehicle market share. Will we see the final 2021 market share hit 25% 30%?

Looking at last month’s best sellers, the little Volkswagen e-Up (2,411 units) was bested this time by its ID.3 sibling, which had its best score this year, 3,750 registrations, and by the Tesla Model 3, which had its best off-peak month ever in Germany thanks to 2,946 registrations.

With both the German hatchback and the American midsizer showing strong performances in one of the slowest months of the year, I believe the story is set for the rest of the year: It will be a VW ID.3 vs Tesla Model 3 duel.

These scores allowed the compact ID.3 EV to reach #5 in the overall market, only the second time it has gotten into the top 5, with the other being a 3rd spot in the pre-registrations inflated month of December 2020. So, one could say that this is truly the first top 5 score of the ID.3. The Model 3 also hit a top 10 position last month in the overall market, ending August in #8. And it did this in an off-peak month, so imagine how high it will get in September…. Having said that, it seems the ID.3 is also rising up, so I wonder if both will reach 5,000 next month, and how high those results will allow them to go. But more on this later….

Off the podium, we have the Mercedes GLC300e/de in 4th, with 1,877 units, a new year best, allowing it also to be last month’s best selling PHEV. Behind it we have the Renault Zoe, slowly recovering its form. In 6th, we have the Cupra Formentor PHEV. It looks like the sporty crossover has struck a chord with buyers, which, even more than before, makes us want Cupra’s iteration of the MEB-platform crossover (the Cupra Tavascan). Hurry up with that one, Volkswagen Cupra!

In the second half of the table, the highlight is the landing of the Tesla Model Y in #16 with 864 registrations, a strong start for a model that is expected to perform even better than its Model 3 sibling. Expect a few monthly wins for the crossover soon and a podium presence next year in Germany’s plugin market. Of the remaining top 10, a mention goes out to the Fiat 500e, thanks to a near-record 1,285 deliveries. The little Italian was 9th last month, just behind the #8 Skoda Enyaq, which managed once again to beat its Volkswagen counterpart, the #10 ID.4, on its own turf. Ouch, that must hurt….

Another recent addition to the market is the Hyundai Ioniq 5, which debuted on the table at #18 thanks to 783 registrations. Expect the retro XL hatchback to become a regular face on the table.

Outside this top 20, the Kia Soul EV had its best score in a year, with 358 registrations, while the quirky Mazda MX-30 registered 409 units, a new year best.

Also, we should mention BMW BEVs. While the small i3 (612 registrations) seems to already be headed to the Great Beyond, the China-made iX3 is finally starting to move decent volumes. It reached a record 386 registrations last month. Meanwhile, the iX yacht had 282 registrations in its second month on the market, which is still a low number. For comparison sake, the Audi e-tron moved 643 units last month. But it is still early. Let’s see how fast BMW ramps up production of its mammoth electric SUV.

With this said, the beginning of the end of the i3 poses a problem for BMW. The company does not have an immediate BEV best seller in the lineup. True, the i4 is coming, but I wonder how high a BEV version of a somewhat niche model (4 Series) can go. Top 20 seems certain but, will it get to the top 10?

Regarding the 2021 table, the Volkswagen e-Up lost ground to the other two frontrunners, the Volkswagen ID.3 and the Tesla Model 3. Also, the German compact EV gained critical ground on the Californian in August. With September set to provide strong/record showings from both e-Up competitors, we should see some changes on the podium as Volkswagen tries to replace the e-Up with the ID.3 in front while at the same time trying to sustain the September peak effect of the Model 3. This could translate into a complicated formula for it to work out. Maybe Volkswagen should call an expert in quantum physics or Stephen Hawking’s best disciple to manage this.

One thing is certain: the last quarter of the year should bring a close race between the Volkswagen ID.3 and the Tesla Model 3, so bring on the popcorn. The coming months will be entertaining.

Elsewhere, the #5 Hyundai Kona EV and #6 Renault Zoe recovered ground over the #4 Volkswagen Golf PHEV, so we might see a 100% BEV top 5 soon.

We have a new face in the second half of the table, with the popular Skoda Enyaq starting its career in the table at #19, allowing BEVs to surpass plugin hybrids in the table (11 vs. 9). Two other BEVs are also on the rise. The Volkswagen ID.4 climbed to #11. (Somehow, we still expected more, didn’t we? Like a top 10 position as a bare minimum.) Also, the Fiat 500e surpassed its Stellantis partner, the Opel Corsa EV, and ended August in #16. The small EV is becoming as popular in the EV class as is the regular Fiat 500 in the overall market, and its success story offers a glimmer of hope for European manufacturing of city cars. One can be successful and profitable in the small EV category, even without moving production to China.

In the brand ranking, Volkswagen (17%, down 1 percentage point) is clearly leading its home market, followed by Mercedes (11%) and BMW (10%), while #4 Audi (8%) is not too far away. The “Volkswagen Premium” brand is enjoying a comfortable lead over Hyundai, Renault, and Skoda, which have 5% each.

Looking at the rankings by OEM, the standings remained the same, with Volkswagen Group having its domestic market well in control. It has an impressive 36% share, followed at a distance by Daimler (14%, down 1 point) and BMW Group (11%).

The best selling foreign (well, mostly foreign …) automotive group was Stellantis (9%). Once again, without rocking the boat, Stellantis is delivering solid performances across Europe, and in Germany in particular, where it runs ahead of the #5 Hyundai–Kia collab (8%) and the #6 Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance.

 

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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/09/16/plugin-electric-vehicles-get-28-market-share-in-germany-in-august/

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Ford & BMW Plan To Begin Testing Solid Power Batteries In 2022

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Everyone expects solid state batteries to be the next big thing in EV technology. While they may offer higher energy densities and lower costs, the main reason researchers all over the globe are rushing to perfect solid state batteries is because they will virtually eliminate the battery fires that have plagued automakers since the EV revolution began. Tesla has had its troubles with battery fires in the past. Lately, Hyundai, Kia, and Chevrolet have had similar troubles with battery cells manufactured by LG Chem, now called LG Energy Solution.

It takes a long time to bring new technology out of the laboratory and into production. Volkswagen has made a major investment in Quantumscape, Ford and BMW have made similar investments in Solid Power, and Toyota is said to be busy perfecting its own solid state batteries. All of them are looking at 2025 as the time when they will be finally ready to install in production cars.

Doug Campbell, CEO of Solid Power, told TechCrunch in a recent interview that  his company wants to be a leader in solid state electrolytes that replace the semi-liquid paste used in most lithium-ion batteries today. It is increasing the size of its factory in Colorado so it can install a new production line to make its latest commercial grade, 100 ampere solid state batteries. Ford and BMW, both of whom have invested in Solid Power, will be the first companies to use them in actual electric vehicles starting next year.

The new production facility will allow the company to produce 25 times more sulfide-based solid electrolyte material than is possible today in its existing facility. The new pouch cells are expected to go to Ford and BMW for automotive testing in early 2022, with the aim of getting them into driver-ready vehicles by the latter half of this decade.

The company says the benefits of its new technology include increased energy density, reduced costs, and longer battery life. But that’s not all. “We believe very strongly that these issues (battery fires) that both Hyundai and GM are now facing would be addressed with a solid state battery,” Campbell says.

Solid Power plans to only produce the electrolyte material and license it to OEMs and battery manufacturers. “Long term, we’re a materials company,” Campbell says. “We want to be the industry leader in solid electrolyte materials.” That means further expansion of the Colorado factory will likely not be necessary in the future, as the new production line will produce enough to supply multiple OEMs with cells for automotive qualification testing. The expectation is that large scale production will be the job of automakers and battery cell producers.

The decision to license the battery cells to partners, rather than produce them all in-house, is an asset-light model born from commonsense, Campbell says. “Let’s face it, what’s the probability that little Solid Power is going to grow up and displace the likes of Panasonic, LG, or CATL?” Some companies like Sweden’s Northvolt are going in that direction, but Campbell says the margins are higher in the materials business and don’t involve direct competition with global behemoths like CATL and other global battery manufacturers. “It’s capital-light but it’s also realistic,” he says.

The startup said in June it would go public via a $1.2 billion reverse merger with blank-check firm Decarbonization Plus Acquisition Corp. III. The transaction, which is anticipated to generate around $600 million in cash, should give the company enough funds through 2026 or 2027, Campbell said.

Low Cost Cathodes Are Next

Solid Power doesn’t plan on stopping at electrolyte production, however. Campbell dropped hints in the interview that the company is also at work developing a low cost cathode material — one that contains no nickel or cobalt, which are two of the costliest raw battery materials. “[The industry] is going to be dominated by the cost of materials and the cost of materials is going to be dominated by the cost of that nickel and cobalt containing cathode material,” he said. “This particular chemistry that we’ll be disclosing later this year is extremely low cost, We’re talking 1/20th, 1/30th the cost of today’s [nickel manganese cobalt cathodes].” If Solid Power can pull that off, that will really turbocharge the EV revolution.

Redwood Materials is also intent on being a major player in the battery materials game and will derive most of those materials by recapturing them from existing batteries. It says it can recover up to 98% of the lithium, cobalt, and nickel in those old batteries so they can be used to make new batteries without the need to extract more of the minerals from the Earth. Volkswagen has just announced it is building a sophisticated new battery research center where it will be able to test new materials and technologies like those being promoted by Solid Power.

In sum, the transition to electric cars is picking up speed. It took a century to perfect the internal combustion engine, but progress on building affordable, reliable electric cars is moving much faster than that. Which is a good thing. The Earth can’t wait for humans to find ways to live without polluting the planet more than they have done already.

 

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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/09/16/ford-bmw-plan-to-begin-testing-solid-power-batteries-in-2022/

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Ford Adding 450 Manufacturing Jobs To Meet Demand For F-150 Lightning

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Interest in the F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck is exceeding Ford’s wildest dreams. So the company is adding 450 workers at three factories in Michigan to make sure it can build them fast enough to meet demand. Ford has upped its annual production goal to 80,000 units — which is still less than 10% of the number of conventional light duty pickups it sells in a typical year. One of the factories that will see an increase in workers is the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center where the F-150 Lightning will be assembled.

Ford has already invested $950 million in the F-150 Lightning program, but reservations have soared from 120,000 at the end of July to 150,000 today. Now Ford says it will commit another $250 million to get its first electric pickup truck, which will sell for $40,000 for the version aimed at commercial customers, into production.

“We knew the F-150 Lightning was special, but the interest from the public has surpassed our highest expectations and changed the conversation around electric vehicles. So we are doubling down, adding jobs and investment to increase production,” Bill Ford, executive chairman of the board of directors at Ford, said in a press release.

According to CNBC, Ford has begun assembling pre-production prototypes of the F-150 Lightning at the Rouge facility. Those prototypes are used by manufacturers  for testing and validation before series production of the vehicles that will be sold to customers begins.

How Many F-150 Lightnings Can Ford Sell?

Ford’s plan to produce 80,000 F-150 Lightning trucks a year may be too low. We all know about range and charging speed and so forth, but the features that have everyone getting all jiggly are that enormous frunk and the ability to power a construction site or keep the lights on at home during a power outage. As one of our readers commented a few months ago, no one ever flew in an airplane — until someone did. No one used an answering machine — until someone did. No one cooked in a microwave oven — until someone did. And no one used their phone to connect to the internet — until someone did.

There is every chance the F-150 Lightning will change a lot of people’s minds about electric vehicles. The first F-150 Lightning owners will discover how absolutely way cool an electric truck can be. They will tell their friends, family, and co-workers, and that’s when the “nobody wants electric cars” whining will cease.

What happened to the sales of diesel cars in Europe after electrics came on the scene — they plummeted, if you didn’t know — could happen to conventional truck sales. By later this decade, sales of light duty electric trucks could equal those of conventional trucks.

By 2030, those conventional trucks could be sitting on the back lots at dealers all across the country, hoping to find someone — anyone — to buy them. Think that’s a fantasy? The F-150 Lightning is a game-changer. It is a real work truck in a way that the Rivian R1T is not. It has the look, the style, and the heft that truck buyers want. It is not odd the way the Tesla Cybertruck will be  — when it gets here. The Ford F-150 Lightning could change everything we ever thought was true about driving an electric vehicle — and not a minute too soon!

 

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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/09/16/ford-adding-450-manufacturing-jobs-to-meet-demand-for-f-150-lightning/

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