Gas2 Week in Review for March 19: Nightmares around Electric Charging Stations, Trump, and More
Electric vehicles were sources of problems as well as state government requests this week. Also in the news was the embarrassing comportment of the U.S. executive in chief when he met with the German head of state. Academia was on the hot seat, with accusations of sucking up to right-wing climate change deniers, and autonomous driving was all the talk, with Intel and MobilEye coming to terms on a new merger. Here are those stories and more in our Gas2 Week in Review.
On a recent 800 mile road trip, Chevy Bolt owner, Dawn Hall spent more hours on the road and more expenses on electricity than she would have spent for gasoline for the same trip in a conventional car. The culprits? Difficulty in finding and connecting to chargers, plus some associated parking charges. Hall’s regular commute is about 100 miles, with occasional family visits often adding another 60 miles to her daily mileage total. Charging her electric vehicle overnight generally takes care of all those daily electric vehicle needs. But in one recent trip, Hall had to reroute to available charging stations and open an EVgo account because her ChargePoint membership didn’t offer charging stations where she needed them.
If the U.S. government is backing away from alternative transportation incentives, many states are not. Thirty U.S. cities have announced that they will purchase full or partial electric vehicles totalling $10 billion— if automakers will provide increase production to meet the state demands for electric vehicles. “If you build it, we will buy it,” says Chris Bast, Seattle’s climate and transportation policy adviser. The electric vehicle offer from the cities comprises automobiles, light duty trucks, street sweepers, trash haulers, and fire trucks, totaling 114,000 electric or hybrid vehicles. That’s more than 70% of all electric vehicles sold last year.
President Donald Trump refused to shake hands with German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a press ceremony, even after a reporter prodded him to do so. The first joint appearance for the U.S. and German leaders took place on March 17 and included CEOs of three major German corporations. Topics on the table included a proposed 35% tax on cars BMW plans to build at a new factory in Mexico. Recently, a senior U.S. administration official huffed that Germany is benefiting unfairly from a weak Euro. “The accusations of President Donald Trump and his advisers are plucked out of thin air,” the president of Germany’s VDMA engineering industry association, Carl Martin Welcker, said in a statement on Monday.
Many of the U.S. top universities are little more than shills for fossil fuel companies, and the white papers they release about climate change incorporate one-dimensional literature reviews that favor climate denial. According to a newly released report, energy companies are using a model developed by the tobacco industry to flood academia with enormous amounts of money to fund energy and climate change research, so much so that impartiality has been lost. The authors say the problem is endemic throughout academia. MIT’s chairman told the Boston Globe, “I don’t see a conflict.”
At at time in which computers and cars are in convergence mode, Intel has agreed to purchase Israel-based MobilEye for $15.3 billion. MobilEye was deeply involved with the development of the original all-electric Tesla Autopilot until a driver death while using the technology in his electric vehicle caused the Tesla/ MobilEye relationship to collapse. The Intel/ MobilEye transaction is expected to close in about nine months. Until recently, MobilEye has relied on chips manufactured by European chip maker STMicroelectronics but intends to use Intel’s fifth generation chips in the autonomous driving system it is developing for BMW.
Photo Credit: Saul Loeb/ AFP/ Getty Images