Navigant Research Blog

Hopes to Spur EV Growth in South Korea

— February 8, 2016

moving white carElectric vehicle (EV) sales in South Korea reached 2,821 units in 2015, compared with 1,183 units in the year prior. Considering that the 2015 goal was to have 5,000 units on the road in the country, the EV adoption rate has been rather low in South Korea, mainly due to the lack of charging infrastructure available in the country and consumer perceptions of the vehicles. Nonetheless, the central government and municipalities are introducing plans to push more EV sales. For example, the central government mandated that 25% of the government’s new vehicle fleet must consist of EVs starting in 2015. In addition, the city of Seoul and Jeju Island are aiming to deploy 50,000 EVs respectively by 2017.

Government Plans for 2016

In December 2014, South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) announced its goal to deploy 200,000 EVs and 1,400 fast-charging stations by 2020. In line with this goal, the latest press release from the Ministry of Environment states that the government will subsidize sales for 7,900 EVs, 30,400 hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), and 3,000 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) in 2016.

According to the press release, an EV driver can receive up to ₩12 million ($9,928) in purchase subsidies, along with a ₩4 million ($3,309) tax incentive and ₩4 million ($3,309) for the charging equipment. Eight EV models are eligible for this program – the Kia Ray, Kia Soul, Renault Samsung SM3, Chevrolet Spark, Nissan LEAF, BMW i3, Hyundai Ioniq, and Labo Peace (a heavy duty vehicle). HEV and PHEV drivers can receive ₩1 million ($827) and ₩5 million ($4,137) in purchase subsidies, respectively, as well as ₩2.7 million ($2,234) in tax incentives. Applicants are selected on a first-come, first-served basis or by a random drawing.

Charging Infrastructure Development

On the charging infrastructure side, there are currently 337 public fast-charging stations in the country with the goal of having 1,400 stations by 2020. That said, the government plans to build 150 stations this year. In addition, some public fast-charging stations may be privatized since the government is encouraging private participation in developing EV charging infrastructure.


Electric Mobility Devices Make a Splash at CES

— January 26, 2016

Car driving fastThe International CES, the global consumer electronics show held every January in Las Vegas, exhibits the latest technologies and trends in the electronics industry. This year, electric mobility devices formed one of the major trend lines of the conference, as cities are increasingly looking for new ways to reduce traffic congestion while consumers are simultaneously considering innovative options for cutting down on their commute times.

At CES, Oregon-based Arcimoto introduced its new all-electric 3-wheeled motorcycle, with a top speed of 80 mph and up to a 130-mile range. Currently, 3-wheeled vehicles are often used to reduce air pollution and congestion in cities while hauling cargo for deliveries. Rapidly evolving 3D printing technology is now being combined with electric motorcycle manufacturing, as Energica demonstrated with its debut of a 3D-printed e-motorcycle called the Ego. The streetbike has tremendous acceleration, able to go from 0 to 100 km/h (or 0 to 60 mph) in less than 3 seconds. The Ego’s top speed is 150 mph, and an 80% battery charge can be achieved in just 30 minutes. Electric bicycles (E-bikes) were trending at CES, and exciting new advances in hover boards, electric roller-skates, and electric skateboards were also on display.

Perhaps most notably, e-scooter company Gogoro unveiled its home-charging solution for customers who wish to forgo the company’s citywide battery swapping networks and charge their batteries at home. This product fills what perhaps was the last remaining hole for Gogoro, which now looks primed to expand its battery swapping network from Taipei to large European cities, beginning with Amsterdam in mid-2016. The company’s Go Charger holds two batteries and plugs into a 110V outlet. Two versions of the charger will be offered, with one version charging the batteries in 2.5 hours and the other taking 5 hours for a full recharge.

Cheapest, Quickest Way to Adopt Electric Transport

All signs are pointing toward the electric mobility device industry continuing to expand in 2016, as these vehicles are often significantly more affordable than full-sized electric vehicles. In fact, sales of e-bikes, e-scooters, and e-motorcycles are each expected to individually outpace the sales of electric cars this year, in some cases by a wide margin.

Electric Vehicle Global Sales Estimations: 2016

Ryan Blog Table

(Source: Navigant Research)


More Automakers Are Revisiting Fuel Cell Vehicles

— January 5, 2016

Consumers are waiting for the next big thing in clean transportation, yet nobody has a clear idea of what it may look like. While battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are a popular option in this niche market, fuel cells vehicles (FCVs) offer similar environmental benefits. Though the buzz surrounding FCVs has waned over the years, many believe that growing government incentives and advancements in the technology position this class of vehicles for a major breakout in the coming years.

Fuel cells are devices that convert chemical energy into electrical energy, much like a battery. Proton exchange membrane fuel cells (or PEMFCs) have been the leading type of fuel cell for light duty vehicles (LDVs) and buses due to their shock resistance, compact construction, and fast startup time. Toyota made headlines a few months ago with its rollout of the Mirai FCV in the United States. The fuel cell stack utilized within the car is Toyota’s proprietary stack with W.L. Gore’s polymer exchange electrolyte. Preorders well exceeded expectations, totaling just under 1,900 units by October. Toyota plans to sell 3,000 units in the United States by the end of 2017. Navigant Research documented the market for FCVs in its recently published research brief, Fuel Cell Vehicles.

New Developments in FCVs

In 2015, the Tokyo Motor Show served as a platform for auto manufacturers to showcase their efforts within the FCV space. Toyota made further news with its Lexus LF-FC Concept, which utilizes a fuel cell electric system that drives the rear wheels and also can send power to front in-wheel motors for all-wheel drive. Honda revealed its new production version of the Clarity set to go on sale early this year. The Clarity’s entire fuel cell stack and drivetrain is now packaged under the hood. This model will likely be the basis of Honda’s new BEV and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle in the next few years. Additionally, Daimler showcased its Vision Tokyo concept at the show, an autonomous-capable lounge on wheels with a plug-in hybrid fuel cell drivetrain similar to the F015 Concept shown at the Consumer Electronics Show. There is no lack of technological innovation in the transportation sector, but other issues like infrastructure and cost must be resolved before widespread FCV adoption can occur.

Research institutions, automakers, and cleantech manufacturers continue to push new developments with fuel cells, and new ways to improve them are underway. Through nanotechnology and advanced microscopy, scientists have found ways to decrease the amount of platinum used in PEMFCs by up to 84%, possibly even eliminating the need for it all together. This would translate to a significant decrease in vehicle cost if it is able to be fabricated at scale. Companies like Ballard Power Systems and Hydrogenics are frequently enlisted to have their fuel cell modules utilized in different applications (e.g., defense, aerospace, and stationary power), and have made developments to incrementally improve roundtrip efficiency. Furthermore, key partnerships (like BMW and Toyota and Daimler, Nissan, and Ford) dedicated to researching and improving fuel cells technologies will continue to be important in decreasing costs.

Electric drive is the leading opportunity to improve our transportation system’s efficiency. With fuel cells there is one more way to generate that electricity. Fuel cells also help ensure that there is an option for everyone as the push toward electrification and efficiency continues throughout the transportation sector. The years 2016 and 2017 should prove to be a breakout year for FCV announcements and deployments. Increased government, private sector, and public sector support will determine how deeply integrated FCVs will become in the global transportation fleet.


Driving Green in India

— December 31, 2015

Beijing’s infamous smog attracts more media attention, but there’s another city that holds the title in terms of pollution. The World Health Organization (WHO) dubbed Delhi the world’s most polluted city based on data from 1,600 cities collected between 2008 and 2013. How bad is the city’s air pollution problem? The WHO found that levels of PM2.5 (particulate matter under 2.5 microns) in Delhi were 15 times the maximum advised level. Delhi is not alone; Indian cities scored 13 spots in the WHO’s assessment of the 20 most polluted cities in the world.

So why does Beijing attract more attention? It’s partly due to China’s economic power, and partly due to its emergence as a global power and its leaders’ evident interest in expanding the country’s influence in global affairs. China declared its first ever red alert warnings in Beijing in early December, right in the middle of the Paris climate change talks, where China played a central role in the agreement negotiations. The pressures on India are somewhat different, as India has not taken quite the same high profile approach to global economic, environmental, or diplomatic debates. China has also been ahead of India in monitoring its pollutants. However, Indian political leaders are increasingly feeling the need to address the problem, especially as outside agencies such as the WHO catalog the issue.

Sources of Pollution

Vehicle emissions are a major contributor to India’s pollution problem, but the country’s vehicle emissions regulations lag behind those in Europe and North America, and it has seen little adoption of cleaner fuel vehicles. We are now seeing Delhi embracing brute-force mechanisms to control vehicle emissions, including vehicle bans and driving limitations. From January 1 to 15, drivers in Delhi will only be allowed to drive on alternate days. Given the number of exceptions, the policy may have limited impact.

India is also ending its recent—and relatively short-lived—love affair with diesel. India’s favorable taxation rates for diesel meant it was cheaper than gasoline, and the country saw diesel vehicles reach 50% or higher of new passenger car sales in the past 5 years. Diesel fuel is now back closer to parity with gasoline, so gasoline vehicle sales are rising. India was also touched by the Volkswagen (VW) diesel emissions scandal. VW will have to recall over 300,000 diesel vehicles that were found to be emitting more than is allowed under Indian regulations—regulations that were already much less stringent than European and U.S. standards. This spells trouble for diesel in India, with the capital region already declaring bans or restrictions on various types of diesel vehicles.

India is going to have look increasingly to alternative fuels to help reduce vehicle emissions. In Delhi, taxis and ridehailing services like Uber must switch to natural gas. India is also looking to spark adoption of hybrid and electric vehicles.  The Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India (FAME) program provides subsidies for hybrid and plug-in cars, buses, scooters, and rickshaws through 2020. The government’s goal is to have around 6 million electric or hybrid vehicles on the road by 2020. While only the goal for passenger cars is just 8% of the 6 million, given the anemic sales of hybrid and electric cars to date, even that will be challenging. Navigant Research estimates that sales of hybrid and electric cars make up less than one-fifth of 1% of the current passenger car market in India. India will have to significantly ramp up domestic manufacturing of hybrid and electric vehicles and offer additional incentives to be able to reach this goal.


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