A future without a fuel tank
Total and Continental prepare for oil demand to start falling
‘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.