A new report from Information Trends predicts the world will have almost 5000 hydrogen fuel cell refueling stations by 2032 compared with almost 400 this year. Deployment of hydrogen stations in major markets is already underway, particularly in Asia, where Japan and South Korea are strong advocates for the hydrogen economy. Germany is establishing 400 hydrogen fueling stations in the next six years as automakers like Audi and Mercedes-Benz are getting ready to rollout fuel cell vehicles. The costs of building hydrogen stations is declining and by 2032 they will have a total capacity of 3 million kilograms/day. Worldwide, more than 20 million hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will be sold by 2032, and those sales will generate up to $1.2 trillion in revenue for the auto industry. The report says that by 2050, hydrogen vehicles will be the “fastest growing segment of the auto market.”
The Upstate Transportation Association, which advocates for professional drivers in the US state of New York, wants a 50 year ban on autonomous or self-driving cars to protect human drivers from losing their jobs. The organization wants New York state legislators to ban self-driving vehicles citing the potential eradication of thousands of transport jobs. The organization has the support of the Independent Drivers Guild, which represents 45,000 of New York City’s professional drivers. The adoption of self-driving cars could reduce traffic accidents by 90%, according to Google. Other advantages include a possible reduction in parking space, as cars could be sent on errands by owners or used by other members of the family. Many observers expect ride-sharing businesses like Uber and Lyft, to convert to driverless cars in a few years. Uber is already testing self-driving cars in the US state of Arizona.
French aerospace company Airbus wants to have an autonomous car in the air by the end of the year, according to the group’s chief executive, Tom Enders. Airbus believes autonomous flying cars will alleviate traffic problems in major cities and could reduce infrastructure budgets for city planners, who won’t have to worry about bridges, traffic lights, or concrete roads. Airbus formed the Urban Air Mobility division last year, to start work on a prototype flying car. It hopes to test this by the end of the year and perhaps have a commercial vehicle ready by 2020. It wants to develop an Uber-like app for the flying cars, where commuters can rent the autonomous vehicle for a single ride. Uber, itself, wants to create an autonomous car based on the Airbus concept.
Uber is reportedly in South Korea exploring a potential autonomous vehicle partnership with the country’s largest automaker Hyundai Motor. The two firms to explore potential collaboration on the development of self-driving ride sharing technology. Uber wants to commence a driverless taxi service by 2020 and is visiting several automakers to see how they can work together to achieve this. Hyundai has incorporated advanced autonomous innovation into its new line of Genesis sedans and has received approval from the South Korean government to test these vehicles on public roads in March.
Japanese automaker Nissan announced it will start autonomous car tests in the UK city of London next month, as it looks to branch out its self-driving program to European roads. A modified version of the Nissan Leaf, the company’s compact electric car, will be tested on public roads. Last year Britain legalized self-driving cars on its public roads.
In the US state of Washington, King County Metro Transit said it will acquire 120 battery-electric buses by 2020. The first 20 are scheduled to go into service this year and 2019. Metro serves the city of Seattle and its surrounding territory. The 40-foot Catalyst buses have an estimated range of about 25 miles, with a quick charging time of just 10 minutes. In addition, Metro will acquire nine long-range electric buses from different manufacturers to test the battery technology with a range of about 140 miles. Metro is challenging the industry to produce buses that can travel farther. As well, it would like the industry to develop 60-foot long buses, better able to replace the articulated buses that make up 55% of its fleet.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced it is working with IVECO and ENGIE to promote natural gas vehicles and infrastructure in Europe. Fiat Chrysler is pursuing the development of alternative fuel motors as a key pillar in its transportation strategy by using fuels already available in its target markets—from natural gas to biofuels. Currently the company manufactures 12 compressed natural gas (CNG) models. The collaboration is starting with Wallonia, Belgium where the city wants its entire fleet of public vehicles running on alternative fuels by 2030. Going forward, the group is looking at several European countries such as Italy, Romania, France, and the Czech Republic and working together on various projects, like CNG fuel stations, R&D collaboration, and cooperation with Governments and other private firms to develop CNG.
In its 2017 Annual Energy Outlook, the US Energy Information Administration sees 7.5 million electric vehicles on US roads in 2025 accounting for 8% of total US car sales (compared with 1% today). The EIA expects long-range fully electric compact cars to cost $35,200 in 2025, down sharply from the $45,800 it predicted in last year’s Outlook. Chevy has already debuted its fully electric Bolt, with an estimated 238-mile range, for under $38,000. As battery costs continue to fall, Chevy, Tesla and Nissan all plan to sell fully electric cars for about $30,000 within a few years.
The Canadian province of Quebec now requires automakers to sell a minimum number of electric, plug-in hybrid and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. Starting with the 2018 model year, 3.5% of all auto sales in the province will have to be from those types of vehicles. That threshold will rise to 15.5% for 2025 models. Quebec is the only province to have this mandate. Companies that don’t meet that threshold will have to buy credits from other automakers that do. It is unclear what penalties automakers would face if they violate the law, as regulations that would define that have not been released. While sales of electric vehicles have grown, they still account for less than 1% of overall new auto sales in Quebec. Across Canada, they make up 0.5 per cent of all auto sales. The Quebec mandate is similar to one in the US state of California and 9 other states.