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ELECTRIC CARS ARE NO THREAT TO OIL

Contributed by Robert Lyman © 2017

Robert Lyman will be one of our special guest speakers at the May 9th, 2017 “Climate Dogma Exposed” event at the Red and White Club, McMahon Stadium, Calgary.  Information and Tickets at www.friendsofscience.org or EventBrite.

At a recent conference in Calgary, Steve Kronin, a former under secretary in the U.S. Department of Energy and a New York University professor, predicted that electric vehicles will make up 50 percent of the vehicles on the road by 2050 and that this will pose a threat to the oil industry because of its dampening effect on fuel demand.

 

Kronin’s remarks echo those of many advocates for electric vehicles who enjoy speculating about the future. Their objective, perhaps, is to reinforce the thesis that there will be an easy and inevitable transition to a “decarbonized” world economy.

 

Let us, instead, examine the facts and draw our conclusions from them.

 

There is no question that there has been a relatively rapid growth in the sales of electric vehicles (EV), including both electric hybrids (PHEVs) and all-electric cars (BEVs), since 2010. Annual global sales of plug-in models rose from 134,000 in 2012 to 774,000 in 2016. By the end of 2016, cumulative global sales of plug-in passenger cars and light utility vehicles passed the two million mark.

 

These sales were stimulated in large part by continuing large government subsidies in North America, Europe and China.  The geographic distribution of sales offers some insight into why sales have increased so fast. China, which has poured billions of dollars into consumer subsidies, had 645,000 cumulative sales of plug-ins by the end of 2016. In the United States, where federal subsidies of up to $7,500 per vehicle are available in addition to various state-level subsidies, the cumulative sales total was 570,000 vehicles. Japan accounted for 147,500 and Europe 637,000. Norway alone has the highest plug-in electric car segment. There, extremely rich subsidies have driven plug-ins to 29% of new car sales.

 

That, for EVs, is the good news. However, a little perspective is in order.

 

For all the growth from small beginnings, plug-in electric vehicles still represent less than 0.15 percent of the global light duty vehicle stock. In the United States alone, annual EV sales are far less than 1% of the total. Last year, there were 17 million new cars sold in the United States that run on oil fuels. There were 157,000 EV sales.

 

It is far from clear that governments will continue indefinitely the large subsidies that have underpinned EV sales. In the United States, it has always been a feature of the existing program that the subsidies to an EV producer would end when its sales reached the 200,000 vehicle level. The Trump Administration is now in the process of eliminating or reducing many of the subsidy and regulatory programs implemented by the former Obama Administration to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; one wonders how long the U.S. subsidy program can last. China has announced that it will eliminate EV subsidies by 2020. European taxpayers have begun to tire of endless subsidies to various “green” causes; even there, governments are starting to take a closer look at whether such subsidies are justified when most of them go to consumers who could afford to buy the vehicles without subsidies.

 

Nonetheless, many countries remain committed publicly to a vision of rapidly growing EV sales. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has developed a policy and planning process called Energy Technology Perspectives that seeks to chart technology paths towards the reduction of global GHG emissions from 33 gigatonnes (Gt) in 2013 to about 15 Gt in 2050. The IEA vision for transportation sees EVs constituting 150 million (10%) of the total light duty vehicle stock by 2030 and nearly 1 billion (40%) of the total light duty vehicle stock by 2050. The 2015 Paris Declaration on Electro-Mobility and Climate Change, announced at the time of the COP21 conference, set more modest targets of 400 million electric two-wheelers and 100 million EVs by 2030.

 

With these targets in mind, on which growth path are EVs? Continuation of the relatively fast rate of growth in sales plus some acceleration could yield a vehicle stock of 7.4 to 13 million EVs by 2020. In contrast, an annual growth in sales by 230,000 units per year, as has happened over the last three years, would produce a stock of less than 3 million units by 2020 and less than 7 million units by 2030. Either outcome would be still be tiny in comparison to a global vehicle population of 1.3 billion.

 

Further, the most optimistic projections of EV sales have very limited implications for global oil demand growth. Over the period since 2008, in spite of the most serious recession since the Great Depression, world oil demand has increased from 86 million barrels per day to 97 million barrels per day, or around 1 million barrels per day per year. If that trend continues, then even the most optimistic scenarios for growth in EV sales would only make a slight dent in oil demand growth. Oil would continue, as it is now, the most important energy source on the planet.

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14 Comments

  1. Electric car prices come down while fossil fuel costs go up due to harder to obtain locations on earth.

    http://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Electric-Vehicles-Could-Soon-Reduce-Oil-Demand-By-13-Million-Barrels-Per-Day.html

    Electric Vehicles Could Soon Reduce Oil Demand By 13 Million Barrels Per Day

    According to a new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), the rapid decline in the cost of building batteries for electric vehicles (EVs) will make them cheaper than the internal combustion engine in just a few years. By the 2020s, EVs could beat conventional vehicles on price, a shocking development and a potential epochal shift for energy markets.

    Battery prices declined by 35 percent in 2015, another impressive feat for the technology as it marches towards both relevance and market share. BNEF believes that EVs – on an unsubsidized basis – will be just as affordable as a car that runs on gasoline…within six years. That means that by 2022, BNEF argues, EVs will reach “the point of liftoff for sales.” The cost-competitive prediction for EVs even assumes that gasoline-powered cars continue to improve efficiency at a rate of 3.5 percent per year.

    The writing is on the wall – as a technology, battery costs will continue to decline as manufacturing and the chemistry improves. Oil companies can reduce costs, but commodities don’t see costs decline in the same way. Finite natural resources see costs rise as they become scarcer. In the long-term, very few people expect oil to be as cheap as it is today at around $30 per barrel. And to the extent that oil remains cheap indefinitely, it will be because EVs destroy demand. It is cliché at this point, but as the old adage goes: the Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of stones.

  2. Those with the cheapest oil survive due to the effect of electric cars on the market. And Canadian oil in not the cheap oil in the world, it is the higher priced oil. It appears to me, Canada and the US should start looking at getting out of oil soon. No sense in corrupting governments just so that your industry can squeeze out a few more senseless years.

    The higher the price of oil, the faster electric cars crush them.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/feb/25/electric-cars-will-be-cheaper-than-conventional-vehicles-by-2022

    Electric cars ‘will be cheaper than conventional vehicles by 2022’

    However, the analysis published by BNEF on Thursday predicts that the total cost of ownership – combining purchase price and running costs – of battery-only cars will dip below those with internal combustion engines in 2022, even if the conventional cars improve their fuel efficiency by 3.5% a year.

    The analysis uses the US government’s projected oil price of $50-$70 (£36-£50) a barrel in the 2020s. If the price is $20, the tipping point is pushed back by between three and nine years.

  3. Renewables Guy, As usual you offer unjustified speculation in response to facts. If electric vehicles become cheaper to own and operate than gasoline or diesel-powered vehicles – if pigs had wings…

    • Lol My Lyman. I must be doing something right. You really have no response on this. Tesla Model 3 is expected to come down in price as time goes on. Elon Musk has built the Giga facory to do just that. As production ramps up of batteries, the cost of batteries is expected to come down conservatively 30% which means it will be some number much higher. The best selling large luxury car in the world is the Tesla Model S. It beats out the other large luxury cars even in their own home countries. The upper class in the world has spoken with their dollars. They love Tesla. Next up is the model 3. Lets wait and see how it does. There are already 400,000 $1000 dollar deposits ready to go to get their cars first.

      • Renewableguy, my response is that you are once again speculating. If you follow the auto industry news, you will see that present expectations are that Tesla’s Model 3 will likely not be delivered until late in 2017 or in 2018 and that the price will be well above U.S. $35,000. According to insideevs.com, global EV sales in 2016 were 777,000, of which Tesla’s deliveries were 76,000, or just under 10%. According to Macquarie Research, global cars sales in 2016 were 88 million. EV’s are a sideshow, and Tesla is a small part of the EV industry that happens to get the hype.

      • This is a car that is in the large luxury car market. It matches the same number of Lexus GX460 full size suvs. Apples to apples this is a very good performance for a company so small. I’m sure Mr. Lyman you know of the giga factory in which there will be 5 billion dollars invested into it when its done. Also I’m sure you are aware of it’s (giga factory) planned ability to produce 500,000 cars per year by 2020. Elon Musk typically doesn’t meet his own deadlines, but he does reach them. All the car companies in the world are investing in electrification of their auto lineup. That is the trajectory. With the Trump administration working against efficiency of cars he is actually hurting the US car market.

        https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/04/tesla-model-3-/477243/

        Meanwhile, many hundreds of thousands of vehicles is a lot to produce, even for a more established manufacturer than Tesla. The Toyota Camry was the most popular car in America last year, with 429,355 vehicles sold, followed by the Toyota Corolla at 363,332 and the Honda Accord with 355,557. For its part, Tesla delivered 25,202 Model S cars in the U.S. during that same period. To put that figure in context, it’s about the same number of Lexus GX460 full-size SUVs or Fiat 500 hatchbacks that were sold last year. All of which is to say: For the Model S to reach Camry or Accord-levels of popularity, Tesla would have to ramp up its production capacity quickly and substantially to start delivering by its late-2017, as the company has promised. In all likelihood, many Model 3 reservation customers will wait longer than two years for their vehicles.

  4. 1200 cycles in the lab. Tesla’s batteries now are at about 3000 cycles with 90% capacity remaining. All the improvements that are needed in the battery seem to be in this one so far.

    https://climatecrocks.com/2017/04/08/at-94-inventing-the-solar-future/

    Today’s lithium-ion batteries use liquid electrolytes to transport the lithium ions between the anode (the negative side of the battery) and the cathode (the positive side of the battery). If a battery cell is charged too quickly, it can cause dendrites or “metal whiskers” to form and cross through the liquid electrolytes, causing a short circuit that can lead to explosions and fires. Instead of liquid electrolytes, the researchers rely on glass electrolytes that enable the use of an alkali-metal anode without the formation of dendrites.

    The use of an alkali-metal anode (lithium, sodium or potassium) — which isn’t possible with conventional batteries — increases the energy density of a cathode and delivers a long cycle life. In experiments, the researchers’ cells have demonstrated more than 1,200 cycles with low cell resistance.

    Additionally, because the solid-glass electrolytes can operate, or have high conductivity, at -20 degrees Celsius, this type of battery in a car could perform well in subzero degree weather. This is the first all-solid-state battery cell that can operate under 60 degree Celsius.

  5. Pilot facilities. This is a serious play for taking the lead in batteries. This is very close to making electric cars competitive.

    http://www.greencarcongress.com/2017/04/20170408-hyundai.html

    Report: Hyundai developing solid-state EV batteries itself
    8 April 2017
    Citing “sources close to the matter,” the Korea Herald reports that Hyundai Motor is developing solid-state batteries for its electric vehicles, and has established pilot-scale production facilities.

    “Hyundai is developing solid-state batteries through its Namyang R&D Center’s battery precedence development team and it has secured a certain level of technology,” the source told The Korea Herald.

    Solid-state rechargeable batteries are drawing significant attention due to their increased energy density (partially enabled by the safe use of Li metal anodes), safety and reliability. Solid-state electrolytes are superior to liquid electrolytes in various aspects including dendrite formation on the anode, flammability, and leakage.

  6. This the market speaking.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-04-10/tesla-passes-gm-as-musk-s-carmaker-becomes-america-s-top-valued

    Tesla Tops GM by Market Value as Investors See Musk as Future

    Musk eclipses company once famously tied to U.S.’s fortunes
    Tesla ‘engenders optimism, freedom,’ analyst says in upgrade

    • Tesla is less of a car maker than a speculative high technology firm. There is a very wide difference between the vehicle market, the oil market and the market for speculative stocks. I invite anyone who thinks that Tesla’s market capitalization is a sign of its success as an auto maker to consider the following facts. Tesla will be fortunate this year if it is able to manufacture and market 100,000 vehicles world wide. That compares to over 17 million cars sold in the United States alone last year by the established auto manufacturers. Tesla’s market capitalization has been driven by hype and speculation to $51 billion, above that of General Motors, which annually produces more than 100 times as many cars as Tesla. Over the last three years, Tesla has racked up $1.9 billion in losses, compared to $23 billion of net profits reported by General Motors over that period. The strength of the Tesla stocks is clearly driven by hopes, not actual company performance, and especially hopes that Tesla’s forthcoming Model 3, that Tesla now predicts will sell in the U.S. for about $35,000, will be a major success. Here, however, is where Tesla may flounder most dramatically, because the company has so far failed to produce cars free from serious quality problems (see the Consumers Report evaluation based on consumer feedbacks), to meet manufacturing deadlines or to maintain service to existing customers. Tesla is a sideshow in the global EV market, and an example of how speculation can drive stock prices to outlandish levels, that’s all.

      • All your points Mr. Lyman, is what makes Tesla extraordinary. In spite of its size it is that hightly valued in the market. There are a lot of electric car maker failures out there. This one is the diamond in the rough. And he has the money behind him. The rich want a Tesla over BMW, GM, Ford, Audi, and the rest.. It is risky and yet the market believes and supports Tesla. No ICE, just electric.

  7. The stock market is driven by emotion and greed as much as by logic. Musk has lots of money behind him – much of it government subsidies. The time is coming to short sell Tesla, just wish I knew the appropriate time when the house of cards will fall.

  8. Emissions lowered, quieter ride and take off, more night time flights due to lower noise on neighborhoods.

    https://climatecrocks.com/2017/04/19/peak-emissions-by-2020-a-possible-dream/

    eattle-based startup Zunum Aero has received funding from Boeing HorizonX and JetBlue Technology Ventures toward making its dream of electrified air travel a reality.

    Sometimes billed as the Tesla of the airplane industry, Zunum is developing a relatively small regional aircraft with about 700 miles of range. A 1,000-mile range will be attainable by 2030, it says.

    The as-yet-unnamed aircraft will hold between 10 and 50 passengers, depending on how it’s configured, the company says.

    Zunum’s jet will primarily run on batteries, so it promises to make air travel quieter for passengers and those who live under flight paths.

    Noise-free take-offs will open up the possibility of scheduling more flights overnight.

    A fuel-burning range-extender will turn on only when additional electricity is needed, according to the company’s official website. Ultimately, Zunum plans on building a regional jet that runs exclusively on electricity.

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