The electrification of the car industry is gathering pace, particularly in Europe, where the sale of new cars running on petrol and diesel will end in 2035.
But challenges remain around their production, affordability and whether enough infrastructure can be put in place to persuade drivers to make the switch.
– China in pole position –
China is a leader in the electrification of cars, with favourable policies helping sales to double in 2022.
But experts have warned they could slow.
“China’s BEV (battery electric vehicle) growth will moderate in 2023, after a meteoric rise in 2022 of more than 100 percent year-on-year,” said Al Bedwell, director of Global Powertrain at LMC Automotive.
“The country’s slowing economy and unavoidable retail price increases will dampen Chinese BEV and plug-in hybrid demand, though much volume will still be added.”
Automakers were hobbled in 2022 by a lack of semiconductors, the computer chips that are key for all types of cars.
But more than 1.1 million electric cars were sold in the European Union last year, up by a quarter to a record 12.1 percent share of the market.
Bedwell said the growth “will accelerate to 50 percent in 2023 as the chip crisis eases”.
In North America, electric cars could represent seven percent of the market this year, with 1.3 million vehicles sold, according to industry analysts LMC Automotive.
The United States is giving its electric car industry a major boost with a $370 billion green energy bill that includes tax cuts for US-made electric cars and batteries.
In total, one in eight cars sold worldwide in 2023 could be electric.
– Tesla dominance –
Elon Musk’s Tesla remains the biggest seller of electric cars globally, shifting 1.3 million units in 2022, driven by its Model Y SUV. It predicts a 37 percent increase this year.
But Chinese firm BYD has it in its sights.
The manufacturer almost tripled sales last year to 900,000 cars, and intends to develop in Europe and North America.
Chinese manufacturers like BYD or rival carmaker NIO are “the most competitive in the world, work harder and smarter”, Musk said himself in January.
Traditional auto giants like Volkswagen and Stellantis group — which owns Peugeot and Jeep — are also stepping up their launches of electric models.
Luxury brands such as Rolls Royce and Ferrari are also planning to launch their first battery-powered models soon.
Even so, Japanese automaker Toyota has continued to defend hybrids, presenting them as more accessible and the only concrete solution for the energy transition.
– Price war –
Electric cars are on average much more expensive than their petrol equivalents, starting from about 35,000 euros ($38,000). This puts them out of reach for many drivers, despite heavy subsidies.
But Tesla announced price cuts of up to 20 percent in Europe and the US in early January, quickly followed by a similar move from Ford.
In Europe, manufacturers could follow a similar route to gain market share, but also in order to comply with increasingly stringent European CO2 emission standards, according to German analyst Matthias Schmidt.
“2022 was a problem of supply, (but) we’re likely to see a complete switch,” he said.
“If (manufacturers) start to panic, we’re likely to see more and more cuts.”
Producers could also react to Chinese manufacturers ramping up production, with plans to produce in Europe at a cheaper price.
– Charging –
Concern about battery life remains one of the main factors that deters drivers from switching to electric vehicles.
Most are limited to a few hundred kilometres and recharging can take anything from 20 minutes to several hours depending on the terminal.
This means the development of a network of fast and accessible terminals for charging is crucial for longer journeys.
The EU will need 3.4 million charging points by 2030, according to a report by consulting firm McKinsey, with updated power grids to cope.
This could cost some 240 billion euros, with companies including Fastned and Ionity ramping up investment in charging stations.
UAE sought to use COP28 to advance oil deals: report
The United Arab Emirates planned to exploit meetings with foreign governments arranged due to its COP28 hosting role to strike fossil fuel deals, according to leaked documents obtained by the BBC.
The leaked briefing notes, obtained by journalists at the Centre for Climate Reporting (CCR) working alongside the British broadcaster, were prepared by the UAE’s COP28 team for summit president Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber ahead of meetings with foreign governments between July and October this year.
Leaked “talking points” prepared for a meeting with China said that ADNOC, the UAE’s state oil company, was “willing to jointly evaluate international LNG (liquefied natural gas) opportunities” in Mozambique, Canada and Australia.
Briefing notes prepared for meetings with Colombia, Germany and Egypt suggested that ADNOC “stands ready” to support each country develop fossil fuel projects.
The documents showed the UAE prepared talking points for meetings with 20 countries, including the United States, UK and Germany, on commercial opportunities for state renewable energy company Masdar.
COP28 president Al Jaber is also CEO of ADNOC and Masdar.
A COP28 spokesperson told AFP that the documents cited by the BBC “are inaccurate and were not used by COP28 in meetings. It is extremely disappointing to see the BBC use unverified documents in their reporting.”
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the body responsible for the COP28 summit, which starts on Thursday, told the BBC that the “cardinal principle” for hosts was “the obligation of impartiality”.
Climate campaigners have raised concerns about the influence of fossil fuel interests at the talks in Dubai, noting Jaber’s role as head of an oil company.
In an interview with AFP on Saturday, Jaber defended the large presence of heavy emitting industries including the oil and gas sector.
“Everyone needs to be part of this process and everyone needs to be held responsible and everyone needs to be held accountable,” he said.
COP28, which will be held until December 12, is due to be attended by 167 world leaders, including King Charles III and Pope Francis.
Alberta proposes more open definition of software engineer in new bill
Tech companies and the APEGA feud as the Alberta government prioritizes tech growth
Software engineers build technical programs — but not unless they’re regulated and certified. At least, that has been the stance of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA).
Tech companies in Alberta like Neo Financial and Helcim recently petitioned to Premier Danielle Smith for a more open interpretation of the job title “software engineer,” as they were faced with lawsuits over job ad verbiage from the APEGA.
It seems the government listened.
Fast forward to November 2023? The Government of Alberta has proposed changes to legislation, specifically the Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act, to open up the legal definition of software engineer, as many tech companies use the title without actually seeking a professional engineer’s professional designation or certification.
The proposed changes fall under the new Bill 7, which has generated approval from the tech industry:
“This is an important development for the innovation sector in the province and will give companies and their employees the freedom to use titles that have long been universally accepted in the tech industry.”
- Sam Pillar, Chief Executive, Jobber
However, the APEGA sees the initiative as a threat to public safety:
“Title protection is vital to preserving public safety and maintaining high standards of practice and ethics.”
- Jay Nagendran, Registrar, APEGA
Sure, tech companies could retitle job descriptions to “software developer” instead; however, studies show that these job ads receive significantly less applicants and interest than those titled with “software engineer.” The main goal? Supporting the tech industry in attracting and retaining top talent.
Experts predict similar issues will arise in the ever-evolving tech industry. For example, growing popularity of generative AI like Chat-GPT will create a demand for “prompt engineers” — see the dilemma? The legislative changes (if passed) are thought to foster tech company growth, improve the economy, and reduce red tape.
Learn more about the proposed bill here.
Veronica Ott is a freelance writer and digital marketer with a specialization in finance and business. As a CPA with experience in the industry, she’s able to provide unique insight into various monetary, financial and economic topics. When Veronica isn’t writing, you can find her watching the latest films!
Nissan accelerates UK electric car production
Japanese auto giant Nissan announced Friday it would invest up to £2 billion in UK electric car manufacturing, which the government touted as a sign of confidence in the sector.
Nissan said it will produce electric models of two best-selling cars, Juke and Qashqai, at its facility in Sunderland, northeast England, which is its biggest factory in Europe, building on UK net zero plans to switch away from dirty fossil-fuel vehicles.
The carmaker will plough £1.12 billion ($1.4 billion) into its UK operations and wider supply chain for research and development and manufacturing of the two new models, it added in a statement.
That will also spark further investment in infrastructure projects and the supply chain, including another electric car battery factory, bringing total investment to as much as £2 billion ($2.5 billion).
Nissan’s investment will support its UK workforce of 7,000 employees — and 30,000 jobs in the nation’s broader supply chain.
– Carbon neutrality plans –
“Exciting, electric vehicles are at the heart of our plans to achieve carbon neutrality,” said Nissan President and CEO Makoto Uchida.
“With electric versions of our core European models on the way, we are accelerating towards a new era for Nissan, for industry and for our customers.”
Uchida declared in September that there was “no going back” on the group’s electrification plans as it aims for 98 percent of European sales to be electric vehicles by 2027.
The news comes as Britain looks to take a leading role in the production of electric cars as companies and governments shift away from high-polluting automobiles.
The UK government confirmed Friday that it has awarded £15 million of funding towards a collaborative R&D project for zero-emission vehicles led by Nissan.
“Nissan’s investment is a massive vote of confidence in the UK’s automotive industry, which already contributes a massive £71 billion a year to our economy,” said British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who will attend a formal announcement at the site later on Friday.
“This venture will no doubt secure Sunderland’s future as the UK’s Silicon Valley for electric vehicle innovation and manufacturing.
“Making the UK the best place to do business is at the heart of our economic plan.”
Finance minister Jeremy Hunt pledged Wednesday in his budget update to invest £4.5 billion in strategic sectors including the auto industry.
– Net zero targets –
However, earlier this year Sunak softened policies aimed at reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050, delaying a ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars by five years to 2035.
That still means however that the country’s largely foreign-owned car manufacturing sector must switch to producing fully-electric vehicles.
Nissan had previously warned that a no-deal Brexit would threaten the Sunderland site, but committed to its future after the government agreed a trade deal.
Yet the nation’s car industry has warned that automakers will soon face a damaging 10-percent hike in customs duties on electric cars crossing the Channel.
Britain left the European Union in 2021 after clinching a last-gasp free trade agreement which removed tariffs on cars.
But under the deal, from January 1, 2024, at least 45 percent of the value of car parts must originate from Britain or the European Union to be exempt from customs duties.
That hits electric carmakers because their batteries often originate from China, despite UK efforts to establish production.
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