Ford Motor Company announced its focus is on next-generation automotive technology and especially electric vehicles and self-driving technology. By 2020, the firm plans to spend at least $4.5 billion on EV technologies and introduce 13 new electric vehicles with a focus on commercial transport, trucks, and performance vehicles. By that time  EVs will make up 40% of Ford’s overall product lineup. In addition Fords wants to produce an autonomous vehicle which is able to operate independently in ride-sharing schemes by 2021.

The US city of Seattle has set a goal of having 30% of all light-duty vehicles in the city operate under electric power by 2030. To accomplish this, the city says it will expand electric vehicle infrastructure, such as charging stations, to encourage and serve the electric vehicle demand. City staff currently uses 80 fully electric vehicles, 17 plug-in hybrids, and over 500 conventional hybrid vehicles.

Denmark is an example of how changes in government policy affect people’s buying habits.  Since the government changed its tax policy for electric cars on January 1st of this year, EV sales have plummeted. Until the end of 2015, electric cars were exempt from Denmark’s whopping taxes on new cars, which can reach as much as 180% of the sales price. Not surprisingly, sales of electric cars were strong. Now, EV sales are down 80% from last year  since electric car buyers were are now assessed a tax equal to 20% of the purchase price. And too make things worse, taxes on petrol cars have been reduced, making them less expensive than EVs.  And more trouble is in store next year when the EV tax will be doubled to 40%.

Similarly, EV sales declined in the UK when the halved the subsidy to purchase one of these vehicles to £2,500. 17,500 electric cars were registered in the UK in the first three months of the year as motorists took advantage of the grants before they were cut. However, between April and June, when the subsidy was cut, only 4,500 were purchased, or a drop of 75%.

Vehicles equipped with hydrogen fuel cells are on track to catch up with battery electric vehicles in the coming years, according to the Global Market for Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles report. The report projects that globally, over 20 million hydrogen fuel cell vehicles would be sold cumulatively by 2032. These vehicles will be the fastest growing segment of the auto market by 2050. Early users of these vehicle will be fleets and high-end consumers. As fueling infrastructure expands in the 2020’s, hydrogen vehicles will begin to garner grater market acceptance with 5 million sold in the year 2032. Currently the Asian automakers Toyota, Honda and Hyundai are embracing fuel cell technology but more automakers are expected to enter this market in the next decade. Japan will have a hydrogen refueling network in place for the 2020 Summer Olympic games while Denmark, Germany and the UK are aggressively building hydrogen stations in Europe.

Europe’s first megawatt industrial hydrogen fuel cell power plant is now in operation. The 1.4 megawatt plant in Mannheim, Germany will produce heat and electricity for FRIATEC,  a supplier of non-corroding and wear-resistant materials.

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