Week in Review, May 21: Alternative Energy Sources for Transportation
Alternative energy sources are necessary for transportation to replace fossil fuels. During the past week on Gas2, electric vehicles (EVs) beat fuel cell vehicles in reader interest as the most promising technologies to revolutionize transportation.
The big stories this week included an odd statement from Tesla CEO Elon Musk: he allowed that the grand proclamations about Tesla stock superb valuation may be overstated. But, in an oppositional element, a major financial house proposed that Tesla may, indeed, make a profit on the upcoming Model 3. That led our readers to mull over what makes up good sales practices for EVs, including why auto dealers don’t promote EVs more. A heavy duty electric truck with mall multi-fuel turbine range extender engine also led readers to wonder about energy recovery training for braking. And Shell Oil’s continuing wager that hydrogen fuel cells will make an easier sell than a pure EV in the future led readers to discuss infrastructure problems with EVs at present.
Here are those stories and more on this week’s edition of the “Gas2 Week in Review.”
The CEO who has innovated the alternative energy transportation system acting a bit humble? Well, Elon Musk suggested this week that “I do believe this market cap is higher than we have any right to deserve.” With Tesla running neck-to-neck with Ford or GM for market valuation, lots of analysts have had cause to wonder. Musk noted that, as “a money-losing company,” Tesla must balance precariously between viability and loss. Musk added that his board is not just a bunch of “greedy capitalists who decided to skimp on safety in order to have more profits.” He also spoke about the need to protect workers, noting that recent worker complaints have been “incredibly hurtful… and, I think, false for anyone to claim that I don’t care.”
UBS analysts have announced tha total costs of owning an EV will be equivalent to owning a combustion engine car from 2018. Taking into account the costs to own, maintain, fuel, insure, etc. a passenger vehicle, USB has revised its original projections for EVs up to the year 2025, saying that their forecast for EV sales is raised upward “by 50% to 14.2 million — 14% of global car sales.” They also conclude that, while Tesla will likely lose $2,800 on entry-level versions of its Model 3, customers will opt for extra cost options that will raise the average selling Model 3 price and allow Tesla to break even.
U.S. automakers certainly have the ability to sell EVs, and John Sullivan of Sullivan Chevrolet says they can turn thousands of EV sales into millions. He argues that the key obstacles to greater adoption are social rather than technological, with inaccurate or confusing news articles online compounding consumers’ initial reactions to EVs. Sometimes the differences among hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and fully electric cars seem baffling to the uninitiated. Lack of background knowledge about electric car chargers as well as dealer representatives who fail to mention available federal and state rebates or other available incentives also play into current consumer reluctance to turn to alternative energy transportation like electric cars.
WrightSpeed manufactures an innovative heavy duty electric truck propulsion system, and AxleTech International specializes in powertrain components for heavy duty vehicles. The two companies will team up to create custom axle housings for the high power regenerative braking systems. WrightSpeed regenerative braking occurs when force travels back through the drive axle, back through the company’s proprietary gearbox, and into the electric motors. With AxleTech as a WrightSpeed strategic partner that will design and build additional gearbox components, as one reader commented, this will be very important for driving acceptance of electrification on heavy duty vehicles.
The image above is an artist’s rendering of a hydrogen fuel cell fueling station. Notice anything familiar? That’s right. Shell, in partnership with BMW, has created a vision of alternative energy transportation for tomorrow that looks a lot like what a fill-up has looked like for nearly the last century. Shell thinks that, if it draws on the public’s familiarity and comfort with current apparatus for renewing transportation energy stores, then people will be more likely to buy vehicles that are powered by hydrogen. Our readers picked up on the hitch in this argument, which involves converting natural gas reserves into hydrogen as the bottom drops out of the fossil fuel market. You gotta read the comments to this article— our readers know what’s happening with alternative energy sources for transportation, that’s for sure.