The world’s first hybrid electric tram, using hydrogen as its main power source, is now operating on a 136-year-old railway in the Chinese city of Tangshan. It will be operating in more cities in China as well as abroad. Having three carriages with 66 seats, the tram can run for 40 kilometers at a maximum speed of 70 kilometers per hour after being refilled with 12 kilograms of hydrogen.

France’s Pragma Industries says its pedal-assist electric bicycle is ready for sale in Europe. Powered by hydrogen, the e-bike has a 100 km (62 mile) range and a recharge time of just 2 minutes. (See photo above.)

The Hydrogen Council says hydrogen may supply almost 20% of global energy by 2050. Oil and gas producers such as Shell are increasing their investments in the fuel, anticipating wider use in vehicles as environmental laws tighten worldwide. For hydrogen to be successful, it will require significant investment in pipelines, storage facilities and manufacturing plants.  It can be stored and handled similarly to gasoline and diesel and hence is attractive to oil firms. The Hydrogen Council is made up of companies like Toyota, BMW, Shell, Anglo American, and Engie SA.

OPEC believes a larger-than-expected boom in electric vehicle sales could cause global crude oil demand to peak and flatten out in the late 2030s.  If a quarter of the world’s cars have batteries, global oil demand would reach a plateau of about 109 million barrels a day during the second half of the 2030s, the organization said in its annual World Oil Outlook.  However, OPEC’s main projection is for oil consumption to increase for decades to come as the global electric car fleet grows at half that pace. It sees fossil fuels accounting for 74$ of world energy use by 2040. The study said:

“It is highly unlikely that electric vehicles will penetrate the passenger car segment with this strength in less than 24 years. Nevertheless, several countries have publicly stated their intention to achieve an even higher share of electric vehicles in new sales.”

OPEC’also sees the possibility that mass adoption of car-sharing services such as those offered by Uber and Lyft could eat away at oil demand as private car ownership declines. In China, rapid growth of these services could shrink the car fleet and cause oil demand from cars to peak in 2035 and then fall marginally over the next five years. That would mean oil use from the car fleet would be 11%  lower than OPEC’s base case, which sees more modest growth in sharing and no peak in Chinese demand. In North America, wide adoption of car sharing and ride-hailing technology would accelerate the decline in oil demand, resulting in a 7% drop to 6.3 million barrels a day by 2040.

General Motors announced plans to launch a new family of electric vehicles in 2021. The automaker is developing an all-new electric vehicle platform that will accommodate multiple sizes and segments, to be sold by different GM brands in the United States and China. Last month GM said it planned to launch 20 new electric vehicles by 2023 and wants to be selling 1 million electric vehicles a year by 2026. The company is working to cut the cost of its lithium-ion batteries to less than $100 per kilowatt-hour from $145 per kilowatt-hour by 2021, which would bring the overall cost of EVs much closer to comparable gasoline-engine models.  The new batteries would hold more energy and charge quicker and would have a range of more than 300 miles (483 km).

Daimler, which owns Thomas Built Buses in the US, says it will begin selling an electric school bus in that country with a range of 100 miles beginning in 2019. Thomas currently is the dominant manufacturer of school buses in the US, with a market share about 40%. The e-bus seats 81 children and is powered by a 60 kWh battery. Fleet operators who need longer range can opt for additional battery packs.

The US state of Oklahoma now as 121 compressed natural gas (CNG) filling stations. CNG currently sells in the city of Tulsa for between $1.55 and $1.65 per gasoline gallon equivalent. Gasoline ranges from $2.29 to $2.59 per gallon while diesel costs $2.76.

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