A fu­ture with­out a fuel tank

To­tal and Con­ti­nen­tal pre­pare for oil de­mand to start fall­ing

The Witness - Wheels - - ELEC­TRIC - AL­WYN VILJOEN

‘By 2020 there will be over 120 dif­fer­ent mod­els of elec­tric ve­hi­cles across the spec­trum.’

AS the stu­dents who built Stella Lux last week did the school run in their low-slung so­lar-pow­ered, four-seater fam­ily saloon, two large com­pa­nies an­nounced their plans for a fuel-free fu­ture.

José Avila, head of Con­ti­nen­tal’s pow­er­train unit, said the com­pany ex­pects grad­u­ally fall­ing de­mand for newly de­vel­oped me­chanic and hy­draulic en­gine com­po­nents, which is what Con­ti­nen­tal sells.

This is why the group will re­duce its ex­penses in the old tech­nolo­gies step by step and in­stead in­vest more than $300 mil­lion to ex­pand its elec­tric car and hy­brid tech­nolo­gies over the next five years.

Avila pre­dicts elec­tric and hy­brid car sales will ac­count for 40% of the new car mar­ket by 2025.

Mean­while, To­tal SA, one of the world’s big­gest oil pro­duc­ers, pre­dicts bat­tery pow­ered ve­hi­cles will cause de­mand for oil­based fu­els to peak in the 2030. To­tal chief en­ergy econ­o­mist Joel Couse said at Bloomberg New En­ergy Fi­nances (BNEF) con­fer­ence in New York EVs will make up be­tween 15% and 30% of new ve­hi­cle sales by 2030.

Af­ter that, de­mand for in­ef­fi­cient in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gines “will flat­ten out”, Couse said, adding the de­mand may “even de­cline”.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Ben van Beur­den said in March that oil de­mand may peak in the late 2020s. It set up a business unit to iden­tify the clean tech­nolo­gies where it could be most prof­itable.

While Africa still burns fuel, in Europe and the U.S. elec­tric cars are be­gin­ning to com­pete with petrol mod­els on price and per­for­mance. Bat­ter­ies in par­tic­u­lar, which can make up half the to­tal price of an elec­tric car, are drop­ping by about 20% af­ter re­cent de­vel­op­ments.

China, the world’s big­gest mar­ket for new car sales, an­nounced new zero-emis­sion stan­dards for au­tomak­ers at the Shang­hai mo­tor show.

This in­cludes count­ing hy­brid cars as fuel-burn­ing cars, which was bad news for Toy­ota, which now has to add bat­ter­ies to its hy­dro­gen-fuel plan, but plans to phase out fos­sil fu­els cars to­tally by 2050.

In In­dia, Tata Mo­tors is also de­vel­op­ing elec­tric Jaguar and Volvo mod­els, while in Europe Mercedes Benz, VW, Gen­eral Mo­tors are re­leas­ing dozens of new mod­els.

They will all be com­pet­ing against China’s top sell­ing elec­tric brands — most of which South Africa have not heard of — BAIC, BYD, Changan, Ch­ery, Horki, JMC, Kandi, Li­fan, Zhi­dou and Zo­tye, who be­tween them sell over 32 000 all-elec­tric cars a month.

“By 2020 there will be over 120 dif­fer­ent mod­els of EV across the spec­trum,” said Michael Liebre­ich, founder of Bloomberg New En­ergy Fi­nance. “These are great cars. They will make the in­ter­nal com­bus­tion equiv­a­lent look old fash­ioned.”


Stella Lux, a four-seater fam­ily car that runs on sun­shine only.


China’s best sell­ing al­l­elec­tric car in March was the BAIC EC180, of which 2 800 units were sold.

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