EVs are the future*
*But what if we can’t reach the future in time?
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*But what if we can’t reach the future in time?
Read more →
Americans love choice. Whether it’s deciding what kind of car we drive, what type of food we eat for dinner, or which smartphone we use, there’s an abundance of choices. In fact, our country was even built on the premise of being able to choose what religion you practiced.
USA Today just reported that Ford is cutting the sticker price of the fully battery-powered plug-in Focus Electric by a flat $6,000. That’s on top of a $4,000 price reduction on the same vehicle a year ago. The new sticker price is $29,995 including shipping—but not including federal tax credits of up to $7,500 and state incentives that might effectively knock another $2,500 off the amount buyers pay.
Read more in TIME.
Some vehicles have complex, protracted development histories–and it looks like the Infiniti LE electric luxury sedan may be one of them. Following a period in which its development was suspended by Infiniti’s then-CEO Johan de Nysschen (who most recently heads Cadillac), the LE is now back on Infiniti’s product plan
Just a few short months ago, newspapers, led by the WSJ, trumpeted, many on their front pages, the Saudization of America and the end of America’s and OECD’s reliance on Middle East oil. Do you remember? Well maybe you don’t have to– at least after 2025. The IEA’s World Energy Outlook for 2013, published Nov 12, indicates that the “Middle East, the only large source of low-cost oil, remains at the center of the longer-term oil outlook.” Within about 10 years or so, it will provide the largest share of the world’s expanded oil supply.
I realize the fragility of projections and have in the past criticized the IEA and the EIA and other makers of global energy projections. At times, projection makers are more artists than scientists. The good artists, sometimes, come close to what actually happens. The not so good ones either get lucky or appear to mute their “over or under” reality numbers. They either provide ranges, permitting them to say they were right in the future, or they complain, perhaps over a good bottle of wine, about the complexity of the variables.
I believe it is important to read the IEA report because it lends a bit of skepticism to the idea that America and its friends are entering the golden era of energy abundance. Indeed, The New York Times on Nov 13 ran the IEA story under the headline, “Shale’s Effect on Oil Supply Is Forecast to Be Brief.”
Here is what the IEA said in their Executive Summary:
“The role of OPEC countries in quenching the world’s thirst for oil is reduced temporarily over the next 10 years by rising output from the U.S., from oil sands in Canada, from deep water production in Brazil and from natural gas liquids from all around the world. However, by mid-2020, non-OPEC production starts to fall back and countries in the Middle East provide most of the increase in global supply. Overall national oil companies and their host governments control some 80 percent of the world’s proven-plus-probable oil reserves.”
America’s likely surplus combined with a slowdown in the increase of demand will not affect costs of oil and gasoline in a major way. Escalating demand for both will be reflected in Asia and will place a floor under prices. America’s oil companies function in a global market and are not governed to a great extent by the laws of supply and demand in this country. They will sell to the highest bidder worldwide.
IEA indicates that “the need to compensate for declining output from existing oil fields is the major driver for upstream oil investment to 2035…conventional crude output from existing fields is set to fall by more than 40 mb/d by 2035.Of the 790 billion barrels of total production required to meet our projections for demand to 2035, more than half is needed just to offset declining production. According to the NY Times, IEA conclusions are generally shared by the EIA; that is, today’s rapid oil production from shale will continue for a relatively short time and then slow rapidly. IEA indicated the slowdown will occur in the mid-twenties, EIA by the late teens.
IEA’s and EIA’s analysis should not generate a bipolar response or create a need for a regimen of pills to cure projection related manic depression. It’s only a projection. Take a deep breath and count to ten. Next year it will likely change because of “complex variables ” including but not limited to changing world demand, Middle East tension, new technology and the use of alternative fuels.
Until we get better at projection, let’s applaud IEA and EIA’s professionals. At a minimum, they are honestly and artistically responding to lots of unknowns. Paraphrasing the comedian Ilka Chase (and changing a word or two) projectionist’s minds are cleaner because they change them so often…
Their efforts should at least reinforce the need to think through transportation fuel strategies and act with all reasonable speed on what I would consider, at least, low hanging fruit. For example, a coordinated campaign by the public, nonprofit and private sector to encourage the federal government to approve methanol as a fuel would be a good first step. Federal acquiescence, if combined with simultaneous certification of low cost kits to convert existing vehicles to flex fuel cars could provide the framework for an effective transitional fuel strategy.
It, likely, will take from five to ten years before electric and or hydrogen powered vehicles will be able to reach the budgets and driving needs of most low, and moderate income Americans. Even when renewable fuel powered new vehicles reach a mass market, the technology will not be able to change the gasoline dependent older vehicles. In this context, alternative transitional fuels could, with the addition of an increased number of conveniently located fuel stations and stimulated by new demand, offer competition to oil company restricted gas-only stations and consumers a choice of fuels. America would be better off economically and environmentally. Consumers would secure a more predictable, probably lower price for fuel at competitive pumps and charging stations. The nation would be less dependent on imported oil.