Will momentum behind electric vehicles threaten the sustainability of oil and gas markets?
As electric vehicle (EV) consumption increases, some countries around the globe have begun to discuss banning internal combustion engines (ICE). China, France, Germany and India have all revealed future plans to eradicate the production and sale of ICE-based vehicles. Those plans, along with new technology, have companies such as Royal Dutch Shell Plc (NYSE: RDS.A) and General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) taking action.
As these countries strive for cleaner power, the adoption of EVs has become a key part of their zero-emission goals.
At an automotive conference in Tianjin, China revealed it was developing plans towards banning fossil fuel-based cars. Though China has not set a 2040 goal like the U.K. and France, it said it was working with other regulators on a time-specific ban.
“The ministry has also started relevant research and will make such a timeline with relevant departments. Those measures will certainly bring profound changes for our car industry’s development,” Xin Guobin, the vice minister of industry and information technology, said.
Both India and Norway have also said they have electric car targets set for the next few decades. India, home to heavily polluted cities, said by 2030 it plans to have vehicles solely powered by electricity.
In the U.S., California Governor Jerry Brown also expressed interest in developing an ICE ban policy to support its clean air initiatives, according to Mary Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board, during a Bloomberg interview held on Sept. 22.
“This is an aspirational target,” said Anil Kumar Jain, a government energy adviser. “Ultimately the logic of markets will prevail.”
China’s news of a possible ban could cause significant implications for exporters that deliver to the world’s second largest oil consumer. The ban could force those that rely on China’s auto inventory to follow suit.
According to a Bloomberg presentation on electric vehicles, to start an oil crash “you don’t need to replace all the cars on the road today; you just need to reduce demand enough to cause a glut of unwanted oil.”
Emerging autonomous technology could slowly assist bans in making the crash a reality for skeptical oil producers. Though the IEA reports EVs only make up 1% of all auto sales, their growth outlook appears promising thanks to General Motors, Shell and Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA).
In October, General Motors, adamant about an all-electric future, outlined its path to zero emissions citing 20 new EV models by 2023.
“Although that future won’t happen overnight, GM is committed to driving increased usage and acceptance of electric vehicles through no-compromise solutions that meet our customers’ needs,” Mark Reuss, GM’s executive vice president of product development, purchasing and supply chain said on Oct. 2.
GM also said within the next 18 months it would introduce two new all-electric vehicles birthed from its Chevrolet Bolt EV model. The Bolt recently hit a record high for sales this past October leading it into second place behind the Tesla Model S, according to Forbes.
GM built on to its zero-emission plan with the reveal of its Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure (SURUS) in October.
(Source: General Motors)
SURUS, a part of the company’s Hydrotec fuel cell system, is a fuel cell electric platform with autonomous capabilities, which has been adapted for military use. The vehicle is driven by two electric motors, designed to be utilized as a delivery vehicle, truck or even an ambulance—all emissions free, according to GM .
“SURUS redefines fuel cell electric technology for both highway and off-road environments,” Charlie Freese, GM’s executive director of Global Fuel Cell Business, said. “General Motors is committed to bringing new high-performance, zero-emission systems to solve complex challenges for a variety of customers.”
Back in October, Financial Times said Shell had acquired Dutch-based NewMotion, which is the largest electric vehicle charging network in Europe. The acquisition marked Shell’s first deal in electric mobility.
(Source: Tesla/Alexandria Sage, Reuters)
Additionally, Tesla’s Elon Musk said the company would reveal a semi-truck prototype in November. Tesla added that it intends to use the electric big rig to set off the separation between technology leaders and the trucking industry, as it is designed to act as a vessel for freight and not passengers.
Possible ICE ban policies paired with the success of all-electric innovation could force many to choose the battery over the barrel.
Mary Holcomb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.