Author Archives: Jason Mathers

Electric vehicles enter the here and now

A Ford at an electric car charging station in Buffalo, NY. Photo by Fortunate4now

The high level of confidence that automotive industry leaders have in the future of electric vehicles (EV’s) has been on full display recently.

In just the past few weeks:

This spurt of corporate announcements has been paired with a bevy of statements of international leadership:

These developments are more than just excitement about an emerging solution. They are indicators that the market for EVs is developing faster than anticipated even just last year.

Consider the findings of a new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. It found that:

[L]ithium-ion cell costs have already fallen by 73 percent since 2010.

The report updated its future cost projections to reflect further steep cost reductions in the years ahead, with a price per kilowatt-hour in 2025 of $109 and in 2030 of $73.

Cost reductions on this order would result in EVs achieving cost parity with some classes of conventional vehicles by 2025 – and across most vehicle segments by 2029, according to the report. EV sales are expected to really take off once they achieve cost parity with conventional vehicles, as the vehicles are significantly less expensive to fuel and maintain.

The acceleration in the EV market is great news for climate protection too. A recent assessment found that zero-emission vehicles, such as EVs, need to comprise 40 percent of new vehicles sold by 2030 in order for the automotive sector to be on a path to achieve critical mid-century emissions targets. With the momentum in the EV market, we have a critical window to further boost this market by ensuring greater access of electric vehicles and a cleaner electric grid to power them.

Unfortunately, the U.S. has not demonstrated the same appetite for national leadership on EVs as other countries. Even worse, we are going in the wrong direction – with serious implications for our health, climate and economy.

Instead of leading, the Trump Administration is undermining critical clean air and climate protections including the landmark clean car standards for 2022 to 2025. The actions of individual automakers, however, tell a very different story from the “can’t do it” mantra put forth by the Administration.

In their commitments, investments and new product introductions, automotive manufacturers and their suppliers are clearly telling us that low emissions vehicles can play a much bigger role in the near future.

The fact is that automakers can meet the existing 2022 to 2025 federal greenhouse gas standards through deployment of current conventional technology alone. Now, in addition to the robust pathway automakers have through existing technologies, EV adoption rates in the U.S. will be 10 percent in 2025 if the Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecasts hold true. This is further proof that the existing standards are highly achievable. Rather than weaken the standard, the Administration should be pursuing options to further scale EVs over the next decade.

Investing in clear car solutions is sound economic policy. These investments enhance the global competitiveness of the U.S. automotive sector.

This is why the UAW in a letter supporting the existing 2022 to 2025 clean car standards, noted:

UAW members know firsthand that Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) and greenhouse gas (GHG) standards have spurred investments in new products that employ tens of thousands of our members.

Like other key aspects of the potential of the emerging EV marketplace, the role it can play as an employer has been in the news recently too.

An AM General assembly plant in northern Indiana was acquired by electric vehicle manufacture SF Motors. The company announced that it will make a $30 million investment in the facility and keep on all the 430 employees.

Fittingly, most of the 430 jobs that were saved to manufacture an emerging, clean technology are represented by UAW Local 5 – the oldest continuously operating UAW Local in the country.

Posted in Cars and Pollution, Economics, Energy, Green Jobs, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Jobs, News, Partners for Change, Policy| Leave a comment

EPA SmartWay and Clean Truck Standards Save U.S. Businesses Millions

(This post originally appeared on EDF+Business)

American businesses benefit tremendously from the robust voluntary and regulatory programs of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. These programs are now under threat of massive budget cuts and regulatory rollbacks.  In the coming weeks and months, the experts at EDF+Business will examine what a weakened EPA means for business.

 

It’s safe to say that the EPA isn’t having the best week. Whether it was new administrator Scott Pruitt vowing to slash climate and water protections at CPAC or this week’s reveal that President Trump wants to slash a reported 24 percent of its budget, the EPA has taken a beating recently. However, what may not be as obvious is that slashing EPA’s budget and reducing funding to key programs actually hurts businesses that have greatly benefitted from EPA programs.

A key example of how the EPA bolsters business is freight. In the freight world, the EPA has done a lot for companies’ bottom lines while protecting human health and that of the planet. Companies seeking to reduce freight costs and achieve sustainability goals across supply chains receive immense value from the EPA.  Two key programs that provide this value are the U.S. EPA SmartWay program and the Heavy-Duty Truck Greenhouse Gas Program.

A compelling value proposition for business

SmartWay was created in 2004 as a key part of the Bush Administration’s approach to addressing clean energy and climate change. The program has grown from fifteen companies at its start to nearly 4,000 companies today. The program attracts strong private sector participation because it offers a clear and compelling value proposition: freight shippers gain access to information that enables them to differentiate between freight carriers on emissions performance.

This saves shippers money and cuts carbon emissions. Freight carriers participate in the program to gain access to large shippers, such as Apple, Colgate-Palmolive and Target.

The EPA SmartWay program is not only a popular program that is delivering billions of dollars of annual savings to the U.S. economy, it is also a core strategy for companies to reduce their freight emissions. The agency has calculated that since 2004, SmartWay partners have saved:

  • 8 million metric tons of carbon emissions
  • Over 7 billion gallons of fuel
  • $24.9 billion in fuel costs

To put it in perspective, the reduction of 72.8 million tons of emissions is roughly the equivalent to taking 15 million cars off the road annually. The $25 billion in aggregate savings from this one program is more than three times the annual budget of the entire EPA.

Given the strong value proposition of the program, it is no surprise that many companies with existing science-based targets on climate emission reductions participate in EPA SmartWay, including: Coca-Cola Enterprises, Dell, Diageo, General Mills, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Ingersoll-Rand, Kellogg Company, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble Company and Walmart.

Clean fuel driving a healthy U.S. economy

Another key program that is saving companies billions is the Heavy-Duty Truck Greenhouse Gas Program. This program supports long-term cost savings and emission reductions through clear, protective emission standards with significant lead time.

The first generation of this program, running from 2014 to 2017, was finalized in August 2011 and will cut oil consumption by more than 20 billion gallons, save a truck’s owner up to $73,000, deliver more than $50 billion in net benefits for the U.S. economy, and cut carbon dioxide pollution by 270 million metric tons.

The program was created with the broad support of the trucking industry and many other key stakeholders. Among the diverse groups that supported the standards were the American Trucking Association, Engine Manufacturers Association, Truck Manufacturers Association, and the United Auto Workers. The industry has embraced the new and improved trucks too.

The success of the first generation effort spurred the agency to launch a second phase that was finalized in August 2016. This effort stands to be a major success as well. The program is estimated to save:

  • 1.1 billion metric tons of carbon pollution
  • 550,000 tons of nitrous oxides and 32,000 tons of particulate matter (aka: harmful air pollutants)
  • 2 billion barrels of oil
  • $170 billion in fuel costs

This latest phase is also big hit with leading companies. More than 300 companies called for strong final standards during the rulemaking process, including PepsiCo and Walmart (two of the largest trucking fleets in the U.S.), mid-size trucking companies RFX Global and Dillon Transport, and large customers of trucking services General Mills, Campbell’s Soup, and IKEA. Innovative manufacturers, equipment manufacturers, and freight shippers have also called for strong standards.

The corporate support for these standards was so impressive that the New York Times issued an editorial illustrating a rare agreement on climate rules.

Every company that sells goods in the market benefits immensely from these two programs and many others from the U.S. EPA. Programs like EPA SmartWay and the Heavy Truck Greenhouse Gas Standards are saving companies and consumers billions of dollars annually, and are integral to corporate efforts to cut carbon emissions.

Looking ahead

In his remarks to EPA employees on his first day on the job, Pruitt acknowledged that “we as an agency and we as a nation can be both pro-energy and jobs and pro-environment…we don’t have to choose”. My hope is that this is a signal of open mindedness to a path forward would allow further improvements to the environment and the economy rather than roll-backs on vital programs and protections.

Perpetuating the belief that the EPA and business are at odds will not only hurt the environment, but would endanger American prosperity.

Posted in Cars and Pollution, Clean Air Act, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Policy, Setting the Facts Straight| Comments are closed

Investments to Meet Emissions Goals are Driving Innovation and Growth in U.S. Auto Industry

15261010832_b13a8d395c_kThe past couple of weeks have seen a whirlwind of announcements related to the U.S. auto industry.

The century-old industry has been hailed as the fastest U.S. job creator – expanding payroll by “nearly 35 percent” in recent years. Manufacturers have introduced dozens of new, fuel-efficient models. Technology companies and automotive manufacturers are collaborating more than ever to add features, and to get the world ready for self-driving vehicles.

The need for climate action has been a critical driving factor in each of these trends.

The Clean Car Standards have been focusing auto industry investment and innovations since they were finalized in 2010. Over that time, the automobile industry has made a dramatic return to profitability and added jobs – all while exceeding the Clean Car Standards. The industry has also started to bring to market a new generation of fuel-saving solutions.

Confirmation of these trends could be found at the recent Consumer Electronics Show and the Detroit Auto Show, where manufacturers paraded out their latest developments.

  • Ford stated that it expects sales of electric vehicles will overtake sales of gas-fueled vehicles within 15 years. Ford showcased its ability to improve conventional vehicles by unveiling the 2018 model Ford F150 – the best selling vehicle in the U.S. – with options for a more fuel efficient 3.3 liter six cylinder engine and automatic stop-start technology. It also announced new hybrid versions of the F-150 and Mustang by 2020. The company promised a new fully electric SUV vehicle with 300-mile range by 2020.
  • General Motors (GM) celebrated having the fully-electric, 238-mile range Chevy Bolt awarded the North American Car of the Year or Truck of the Year. The Chevy Bolt was previously awarded Motor Trend Car of the Year. The Bolt, which came to market last month, is also at the center of GM’s work on self-driving vehicle technology
  • Nissan announced a new generation of its LEAF electric vehicle, with “autonomous drive functionality" for highways.
  • Honda publicized its plan to introduce a new, U.S.-made hybrid vehicle in 2018 and roll out its Clarity Electric and the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid vehicles.
  • Toyota appointed its president (grandson of the company’s founder) to lead their newly formed electric car division, in an effort to “speed up development of electric cars.” 
  • Volkswagen – unveiled a prototype electric van capable of a 270-mile range and with room for eight-passengers. The company has committed to have at least 25 percent of its global sales be electric vehicles by 2025.
  • Samsung introduced a new lithium-ion battery cell for electric vehicles. The battery promises over 350 miles of range and a 20-minute fast charge. The battery is slated for production in 2021.
  • Tesla declared that its gigafactory for battery production was open for business. The Reno, Nevada facility already employees almost 3,000 workers, and is ultimately expected to employ 6,500 in full-time positions.
  • Mercedes announced in Paris last year that electric cars would account for 25 percent of the company’s deliveries in 2025, backed by plans to invest $1.1 billion in battery technology.

As these developments show, automakers and their suppliers are investing and bringing to market clean vehicle solutions beyond what even the Clean Car Standards require.

These companies are making these investments because there is a robust domestic market for clean cars. Electric vehicle sales in the U.S., for example, were up more than 50 percent in the second half of 2016 (compared to 2015).

Companies are also making these investments to stay competitive in a global race that will define the next chapter of mobility. GM, for example, had a third of its global sales in China in 2016. China is the largest market worldwide for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and if U.S. automakers want to be competitive there they will need to stay on the leading edge of the technology curve. Autotomy and electrification will be the hallmarks of this new, global chapter.

By driving more investment in future offerings, the Clean Car Standards help position U.S. manufacturers to win this race at home and abroad.

This perspective was recently voiced by the United Auto Workers, which noted:

“Our competitors around the globe are working to strengthen environmental standards and it would be counterproductive to enact policies that provide disincentives for investing in advanced technologies and improving efficiency. History has taught us that a diverse fleet is essential for strong export sales and keeping jobs in the United States. Efficiency and emission standards can and must continue to be a win-win for the environment, working families, domestic manufacturing and the overall economy.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Posted in Cars and Pollution, Clean Air Act, Jobs, News, Partners for Change, Policy| Comments are closed

Open Road Ahead for Clean Trucks

rp_iStock_000002312011Medium2-1024x768.jpgOur nation is making great progress in reducing the environmental impact of trucking.

This is tremendous news, of course, as trucking – the main method of transporting the goods and services we desire – is critical to the fabric of our society.

Consider these facts:

We’re making major progress because of a team effort from truck and equipment manufacturers, fleets, policymakers, and clean air and human health advocates. With protective, long-term emission standards in place, manufacturers are investing in developing cleaner solutions and bringing them to market. Truck fleets are embracing new trucks because of lower operating costs and improved performance.

(For a more detailed picture of the widespread support for cleaner trucks, see EDF’s list of quotes supporting recent national Clean Truck standards.)

We must continue this team effort to make further necessary improvements in the years ahead.

Despite our recent progress, diesel trucks continue to be a leading source of NOx emissions, which is why a number of leading air quality agencies across the nation, health and medical organizations, and more than  30 members of Congress are calling for more protective NOx emission standards.

Trucks are also a large and growing source of greenhouse gas emissions. Thankfully, the new fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards mentioned above – which were released this past August and just published in the Federal Register today – will cut more than a billion tons of emissions.

Trucking fleets are embracing cleaner trucks. UPS, for example, is expanding its fleet of hybrid delivery trucks. PepsiCo, Walmart, Kane and others have applauded strong fuel standards for trucks.

Manufacturers are developing solutions to further improve the environmental footprint of trucking.

In the past few weeks alone:

  • Cummins unveiled a 2017 engine that cuts NOx emissions 90 percent  from the current emission standard.
  • Volvo Trucks North American showcased its entry to the DOE SuperTruck program, which is  a concept truck capable of surpassing 2010 efficiency levels by 70 percent and exceeding 12 miles per gallon.
  • Navistar also revealed its SuperTruck, the CatalIST, which hit a remarkable 13 mpg.

The progress we’ve made to date does more than just improve conditions within the U.S. Our strong standards push U.S. manufacturers to develop solutions that will resonate with international markets. For example, the European Union, Brazil, India, Mexico, and South Korea all are exploring new fuel efficiency and greenhouse standards for big trucks. U.S. manufacturers will be well positioned to compete in markets that put a premium on fuel efficiency.

In the coming years, we will need to continue to advance protective emission standards to protect the health of our communities and safeguard our climate. When the time comes, we will be building upon an impressive record of progress and cooperation.

Posted in Cars and Pollution, Economics, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, News, Policy| Comments are closed

Praise for the New Standards for Cleaner Freight Trucks

Earlier this week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Transportation announced new greenhouse gas emissions and fuel efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, and they’ve been winning praise and support ever since.

The extraordinary and far-reaching support for the new Clean Truck standards ranges from leading public health organizations to the companies and workers who manufacture these vehicles, the businesses that depend on fleets of these vehicles, and the consumers who rely on goods and services delivered by these fleets.

Here are a few examples:

The continued focus on improving fuel efficiency will unlock new innovations that protect our environment and spur economic growth… The steps we have taken to boost the efficiency of our fleet across PepsiCo have significantly reduced emissions while lowering our operating costs, and we are committed to doing much more. We thank the Administration for its leadership on this issue and believe these new standards set the stage for continued progress.

– Indra K. Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo.

In our opinion, the phase two standards are balanced, with the EPA and NHTSA having done an excellent job of incorporating feedback from multiple stakeholders including manufacturers, fleet operators, private operators and environmental NGOs.

– Frito-Lay North America supply chain senior director Michael O’Connell (Frito Lay is a division of PepsiCo)

This new set of regulations will encourage innovation and has the potential to spur domestic economic growth … In the long-run, these regulations will make trucking operations in the United States stronger by reducing its dependence on oil and making our economy less vulnerable to the fluctuations of a single global commodity.

– Mike Britt, Director of Advanced Engineering for United Parcel Service (UPS) and Chair of the CALSTART Board of Directors

Eaton recognizes the importance of providing environmentally responsible solutions, so we are pleased with the new Phase II standards for medium and heavy duty commercial vehicles which will deliver significant fuel consumption and emissions reductions … These new standards ensure that we both satisfy customers and protect the environment.

– Craig Arnold, Eaton chairman and CEO

What the rule does is it brings clarity to the entire industry. … It helps us pace and justify our investments, an investment we are doing anyway.

– Mihai Dorobantu, director of technology planning and government affairs for Eaton

Our goal in this process was to work collaboratively with the agencies to simplify compliance while maximizing environmental benefits and overall cost savings for the fleets. I think we’ve achieved that.

– Dick Giromini, President and CEO of Wabash National

We’ve long supported standards that reduce emissions and improve the environment, particularly in the communities where we operate. That’s why we support the new Phase II standards for medium and heavy-duty trucks. It’s a win-win for our industry, our customers and communities – reducing emissions and saving fuel and money.

– David Steiner, CEO, Waste Management

[The standards] provide a long-term road map to make sure we develop the technology we’ll need in the marketplace … That’s a positive for us.

– Brian Mormino, Cummins executive director of environmental strategy and compliance

Many businesses view the term ‘good regulation’ as the ultimate oxymoron. But the latest fuel efficiency standards are a good example of government and industry working together to address a critical societal challenge.

– Alex Stark, Kane is Able, Modern Marketing Expert | Supply Chain Collaboration Evangelist

This is great news for the trucking industry and companies that are concerned about reducing their shipping costs. Because these vehicles are so large, even small improvements in fuel economy yield significant cost-savings through reduced oil use. This is yet another area where stronger environmental performance is better for businesses and the economy, too.

– Carol Lee Rawn, director of Ceres Transportation Program

We applaud the EPA, NHTSA and CARB for listening to public and industry input and raising the GHG emissions standards. This new rule will spur continued innovation in the transportation sector. We've seen again and again that regulation is useful – perhaps even essential – to drive the industry to embrace innovative technology to improve fuel economy, reduce petroleum consumption, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

–  David Johnson, president and CEO, Achates Power 

The vehicle efficiency standards released today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are a critical move forward in the fight for healthy air … We thank President Obama, the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for this important step to save lives and safeguard Americans’ health.

American Lung Association

The new rules are long-term, technology- and product-neutral, address the needs of consumers and industry, and promote healthy competition that benefits consumers, manufacturers and the economy overall. The trucking industry will benefit. Consumers will save. And the economy will thrive. It’s a win-win-win.

– Mark Cooper, Director of Research for the Consumer Federation of America

Under these vehicle standards, working in concert with sound manufacturing policy, American companies and workers are demonstrating that the nation can lead in combating climate change while creating American jobs and making America’s auto sector one of the most technologically advanced and competitive in the world. We are committed to seeing this trajectory continue.

– Kim Glas, Executive Director of Blue Green Alliance

There's no doubt the whole world will look at these standards and use them as a benchmark.

– Nic Lutsey, International Council on Clean Transportation

Posted in Cars and Pollution, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Policy| Comments are closed

New Clean Trucks program: Business, Consumers and the Planet all Win

(This post originally appeared on EDF+Business)

Across America, companies have reason today to celebrate an important step to drive cost and emissions out of their supply chain. The U.S. EPA and U.S. Department of Transportation unveiled new fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards for heavy trucks. Once fully implemented, the new standards will cut over a billion tons of climate pollution and save hundreds of millions of dollars by 2035.

Every business in America stands to benefit.

Why? Because every business in America relies, in some form, on trucking services. Product manufacturers need trucks to get goods to market. Service and knowledge companies depend on trucks to deliver equipment and supplies. Retailers utilize trucks in distribution.

One of Walmart's aerodynamic trucks

One of Walmart's aerodynamic trucks

Retailers and consumer brands are among the top winners of strong fuel efficiency standards, as these companies account for a lot of freight movement. Companies that have undertaken detailed carbon footprint analysis often find, as Ben & Jerry’s did, that freight transportation can account for upwards of 17 percent of their total impact.

The new fuel standard means continued progress in tackling this significant source of emissions. This progress will reveal itself in lower carbon footprints for every product brought to market. It will be apparent through lower freight and fuel surcharge fees – saving large consumer brands millions annually.

The standards will be increased in 2024 and 2027, resulting in final standards that will require new tractor-trailer units to emit 25 percent less climate pollution in 2027 than in 2017. Long-haul truck drivers will see the new efficiency technology pay back in under two years.

The new standards will drive market uptake of a number of proven fuel saving technologies. Through the Super Truck program of the U.S. Department of Energy, for example, a Daimler team developed a 12.2 MPG trucks and a Cummins and Peterbilt team developed a 10.7 MPG truck. As a group of leading technology innovators noted early this year, “clear, stringent, long-term fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards” are critical to scaling emerging solutions “by creating certainty that high-quality, effective innovations will be rewarded in the marketplace.”

With the certainty of long-term standards, manufacturers will make the needed investments to introduce new engine platforms, better integrate powertrains, and take advantage of other cost-effective choices. In fact, this is just what has happened during an earlier phase of the clean truck program.

PepsiCo, Walmart, General Mills and a number of other leading companies played a critical role in securing the robust, final standards. They were drawn to advocate for strong standards because of the clean truck program’s combination of significant environmental and cost savings, and its ability to bring forward market-ready solutions.

It’s telling that these companies, which are leaders in adopting voluntary green freight best practices, were motivated to advocate for federal greenhouse gas and fuel efficiency standards too. They recognize that freight movement, which accounts for around 10 percent of U.S. greenhouse gases, has a critical role to play in cutting our emissions.

Making heavy trucks more fuel efficient is the single most important step to reducing freight emissions. The program announced will be crucial to build a low-carbon future that enables the free flow of freight. That is an outcome every business should celebrate.

Posted in Cars and Pollution, Economics, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, News, Partners for Change, Policy| Comments are closed
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