The auto industry is moving into all-electric, but hybrids are a powerful middle ground; Report
As politicians declare their love for clean electric cars and fall on their own to be the first to ban the sale of new, supposedly dirty and climate-threatening fossil fuel cars, a report from Emissions Analytics suggests hybrids could have the way forward for a few years because electric cars do not have a clear enough CO2 (carbon dioxide) advantage and their price will likely remain too high for the mass market.
Green groups like Transport & Environment think it is nonsense and a diversion from the urgent task of moving to zero net carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on major countries to ban the sale of cars and SUVs by 2030 powered by internal combustion engines (ICE), while the United States calls for electric cars to “zero emission” battery, rechargeable hybrids or fuel cell cars to take 50% of its market by the same year. Johnson then watered down the plan a bit by allowing ICE / electric hybrids to remain on sale until 2035. Germany’s new coalition government could call for a ban on the ICE when it emerges in weeks or months at a time. to come. Other large economies are planning similar measures.
Some governments in the European Union (EU) do not adhere to this policy.
“It’s not possible,” Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said, responding to a question last month about the EU’s proposal to ban new petrol and diesel cars by 2035.
“We cannot dictate here what the green fanatics have designed in the European Parliament,” Babis said. Babis is running for re-election this month. In the second half of 2022, the Czech Republic assumes the rotating presidency of the EU. Automobile manufacturing accounts for almost a third of the Czech economy, and VW’s Skoda, Toyota and Hyundai / Kia build sedans and SUVs here.
The EU has already passed tough rules limiting carbon dioxide (CO2), which some experts say means manufacturers will really have to be fully electric when the last set of rules take place in 2030. Others say the new, tougher set of rules in 2025 means even plug-in hybrids won’t suffice.
Hybrids are vehicles like the iconic Toyota Prius that combine a computer-coordinated battery and ICE engine to deliver improved fuel economy. Electric range is not much more than a mile. Plug-in hybrids use a much larger battery that can provide around 30 miles of electric range, while the latest models like the Suzuki Across PHEV have about 50 miles of electric range.
Emissions Analytics CEO Nick Molden said EU policy may be premature. Emissions Analysis describes itself as an independent real-world emissions testing company.
“Right now, it seems battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are neither clean enough nor a strong enough consumer proposition to mass adoption without a significant subsidy. These are certainly not zero emissions, especially due to the construction process and tire wear emissions. Hybrids, on the other hand, significantly reduce CO2 emissions from tailpipes now – albeit slightly less than BEVs – and present few utility drawbacks to consumers, ”Molden said in the report.
The range anxiety associated with BEVs wouldn’t be a problem, and hybrid prices start at a more affordable level.
“Therefore, it would be optimal to follow a hybridization strategy for, say, the next 10 years, and then switch to BEVs afterwards, once they are cleaner and present less of a disadvantage to the consumer,” Molden said.
This is anathema, then some for environmental pressure groups, like Transport and Environment, based in Brussels.
“Battery-powered electric cars emit no CO2 or air pollution, so they provide the necessary climate benefits to completely decarbonize road transport immediately. Although hybrids require less battery material, the minimum emissions savings they provide are simply not enough for the job at hand and are a distraction, ”said Julia Poliscanova, senior manager of clean vehicles at T&E .
BEVs may not emit CO2, but overall cleanliness depends on how grid electricity is generated. In Germany, for example, where up to 24% of electricity is produced from coal, this claim would not go far, unlike in predominantly nuclear France. The manufacturing, extraction and afterlife recycling processes also generate a lot of CO2.
T&E wants action against ICE vehicles, which may soon be cheaper and not require subsidies anyway.
“The idea that we continue to launch the box on the road with combustion engine cars is ludicrous. Electric batteries could be cheaper than diesel and (gasoline) cars over the next five years, as shown. our study with Bloomberg NEF, and it’s subsidy-free. Governments should continue to tighten car CO2 targets to encourage automakers to produce electric cars on a large scale. This will provide affordable, zero-emission vehicles for everyone. world without wasting time with false solutions, ”Poliscanova said.
The EU is negotiating to tighten the 2030 rules to a 55% reduction in CO2 emissions from 2021 levels, from a previously agreed reduction of 37.5%.
The current auto industry mantra is that even plug-in hybrids will have to take precedence over BEVs, with both Mercedes and Mercedes claiming PHEVs are only interim technology.
German automotive tech giant ZF disagrees.
ZF CEO Wolf-Henning Scheider told Reuters at the recent IAA Mobility trade fair in Munich that, based on the company’s backlog, he expects PHEVs to play an important role in the electrification of individual mobility.
“(PHEV demand will last) well beyond 2030 in many parts of the world,” said Scheider, as they increase electric range to over 60 miles from the current average of around 30. miles.
Emissions Analytics, in the report, said BEV’s biggest source of CO2 is in manufacturing, but points out that there are few air quality benefits. NOx emissions have been greatly reduced.
“If the fleet (in the UK) were entirely made up of these latest diesel and petrol cars, there would be no breach of the Clean Air Act. For mass particulate emissions, exhaust filters on ICEs typically reduce emissions to less than 1 mg / km. In contrast, tire emissions from ICEs are around 32 mg / km over a lifetime, while the wear rate for BEV tires, all other things being equal, is 21% above 38 mg / km. . Add the tailpipe and non-tailpipe emissions together. BEVs emit slightly more than ICEs and fully hybrid electric vehicles (FHEVs), ”the report says.
The report says the introduction of BEVs looks a lot like the optimal strategy for reducing lifetime CO2, but the gap to FHEVs is closer than reported elsewhere.
“However, this neglects the consideration of risk. Deployment of hybrids would present a relatively low risk due to limited resource requirements, consumer resistance and taxpayer subsidies, ”the report said.
The report states that BEV’s CO2 reduction estimates are sensitive to many factors, including –
Speed and degree of decarbonization of battery and vehicle manufacturing
Speed and degree of decarbonization of the network
Improvements in the energy capacity of the battery and therefore in the range of the vehicle
Longevity of batteries and BEVs as a whole
Geopolitical security around rare battery materials
Environmental and ethical issues around mining
Degree to which kilometers driven by BEV vehicles replace ICE kilometers, or add up due to lower marginal cost
Ability to develop a transparent and standardized life cycle model to be able to objectively verify CO2 reduction claims.
The report states that while BEVs are likely to provide a theoretically higher rate of CO2 reduction, it may be better to focus on shorter-term FHEVs and then migrate to all-electric or another technology later. .
“As high certainty methods of CO2 reduction are an urgent political need, it may be best to ‘bank’ the low risk 24% reduction over 10 years of hybrids (which Emissions data shows. Analytics), then migrate to BEVs and other less -CO2 powertrains.
“Returning to the subject of currently scarce battery materials, the FHEV strategy requires 39 GWh of battery capacity for vehicles sold within ten years to 2030. In contrast, the BEV strategy requires 570 GWh, or 15 times more. From a practical, ethical and geopolitical point of view, this is important, ”says the report.
Professor Gautam Kalghatgi, a member of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said the supposed benefit of CO2 for BEVs with large batteries is diluted by the high built-in emissions from manufacturing the batteries which can only be shut down if the vehicle is driven to CO2-free electricity for a long time. enough distance.
“Therefore, in many cases, depending on the conditions / assumptions, (hybrids) may have lower greenhouse gases (GHGs) over their lifespan than BEVs. The bigger the battery, the more severe the GHGs and other environmental impacts, ”Kalghatgi said.
The report believes that BEVs are not yet a product of sufficient value to be rapidly adopted without significant subsidies. New ICE and SUV cars are now clean enough not to break air quality rules and are readily available for hybrids. Greater competition for hybrid BEVs would benefit consumers.
“Large amounts of taxpayer subsidies could also be avoided. It would surely be better to take the pragmatic route and hybridize everything as soon as possible, ”the report concludes.
“Hybridization is a much less risky proposition, manufacturers can make real money without government subsidy, consumers love it because it’s less of a compromise, and it’s ready today,” said Molden in an interview.