The European Union warned U.S. congressional leaders and members of President Joe Biden’s administration that the aggressive use of electric-vehicle credits in the pending Build Back Better Act could run afoul of international trade rules and create “friction” in the transatlantic relationship.
The EU’s trade chief, Valdis Dombrovskis, sent a letter dated Dec. 3 to officials including Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell saying that the government subsidies would discriminate against European car manufacturers, according to a copy of the letter seen by Bloomberg.
The American plan would offer an additional $4,500 in tax credits to consumers who buy cars made by U.S. manufacturers with union-represented workers, beyond an initial $7,500 that at first will apply to vehicles regardless of where they are made and five years later will apply only to those made in the U.S. Canada has spoken out against the subsidies and Mexico has threatened to retaliate.
Hybrids and EVs claim a 27 percent market share of November 2021 sales.
Electric vehicle boom fuels rise in UK new car sales » The Guardian »
Almost 22,000 pure electric vehicles were registered in November, more than double the 10,345 registered in the same month last year, as the share of total sales accounted for by battery-powered electric vehicles climbed to 19%.
The Tesla Model 3 was the third bestselling car, with 3,077 sold, and is the bestselling pure electric vehicle in the UK, according to the figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
The boom in electric car sales helped overall sales of new cars to reach 115,706 in November, a 1.7% rise on the same month last year. While the increase is a welcome boost for the car industry, sales are still close to a third down on pre-pandemic levels.
“After four miserable months that the motor industry would rather forget, the tide is finally turning for new car sales,” said James Fairclough, the chief executive of AA Cars. “But the patch supply of new vehicles continues to peg back the number of sales dealers can make. Stock levels of some vehicles are so low that some dealers are even struggling to offer test drives.”
This is in line with a distinct recent trend – while electric vehicles are on the rise in the US, with sales climbing at an annual rate of 28% between 2015 and 2020, the other major car markets have pulled significantly ahead. The electric vehicle fleet grew at 51% a year in China over the same five-year period, while Europe has seen a 41% annual increase.
A lack of federal government support for electric vehicles, cheap gasoline prices in the US and a paucity of charging infrastructure is holding back progress, the report by ING found, with a drastic increase to nearly 9m zero-emission car sales needed by 2030 to hit the administration’s goal.
“What happened is that Europe set new carbon dioxide limits for cars while Donald Trump took the US backwards,” said Margo Oge, who previously oversaw vehicle regulation at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in reference to the former president’s decision to weaken pollution standards for new vehicles. “The policies of the Trump administration are reflecting the US being behind. But the US can catch up if it does the right things.”
Auto industry executives expect electric vehicles will make up just over half of new vehicle sales in the United States and China by 2030, and could do so without receiving government subsidies, according to a new survey by accounting and consulting firm KPMG.
But combustion vehicles, including hybrids, are expected to retain a significant share of most major vehicle markets for years to come, according to KPMG’s latest annual survey of 1,000 auto industry executives.
The speed at which automakers can phase out combustion engines and the carbon dioxide they emit is a pivotal issue for the global auto industry. A group of automakers and countries signed a statement earlier this month calling for phase-out of combustion vehicles globally by 2040, and by 2035 in richer nations.
GM dealers across the country told Insider they are generally optimistic about the future of their businesses and that they’re happy to sell cars no matter their power source. But some also expressed concern about how, exactly, to handle the expense (between $50,000 and $500,000 in upgrades, according to a GM spokesperson), the loss of revenue from cars that need less maintenance, and how to encourage customers to embrace a new way of getting around.
“Is it a concern? Absolutely,” said Paul Householder, service director at Michigan-based LaFontaine Automotive Group. “We just don’t know what we don’t know yet.”
It is clear, though, that dealers must be proactive. “It’s all that much more significant for us as dealers to be engaged,” said Ben Faricy, president of The Faricy Boys auto group in Colorado Springs, Colorado. “We know that this is coming, and we would rather be ahead of the game than behind the eight ball.”
The race is on to secure the global supply of lithium, a necessary component in the production of batteries for EVs.
Even though China’s lithium reserves rank as the world’s fourth largest, the silvery metal is mainly found in the salt lakes around Tibet and Qinghai, a sparsely populated Chinese province spread across the high-altitude Tibetan plateau. That makes it difficult to refine and transport. While the production of lithium carbonate from Qinghai Lake has doubled this year, demand still outpaces supply, according to Dong Yang, the vice president of leading automotive think tank China EV 100. To make up the shortfall, China imports about 70% of lithium from overseas. And with the prospect of even more lithium needed as the EV revolution picks up speed, companies are stepping up efforts to secure supply for its dominant refinery sector.
Ganfeng Lithium, one of the world’s top lithium producers, bid for a stake in Canada’s Millennial Lithium in July, while battery making giant CATL, led by billionaire Zeng Yuqun, joined the race a few months later, trumping Ganfeng. In the end, it was a third company, Lithium Americas, that emerged victorious (although Ganfeng is a shareholder in Lithium Americas). Undeterred, Ganfeng in September bought out its partner, International Lithium, in the Mariana project in Argentina, one of the biggest deposits globally. Last month, Zijin Mining paid around $755 million cash for Neo Lithium, a Canadian group that also has operations in Argentina.
Carmakers are getting in on the action too, with BYD earlier this month inking a four-year supply deal with Do-Fluoride New Materials for at least 56,050 tons of lithium hexafluorophosphate through December 2025. Lyu Xiangyang, the cousin of BYD founder Wang Chuanfu whose loan helped Wang establish the company in 1995, also has investments in spodumene, a lithium-bearing raw mineral, in Sichuan province, which should bolster BYD’s future supplies.
Meanwhile » Stellantis said it has secured a five-year supply of battery-grade lithium hydroxide to support its plans to convert to 98% electrified vehicles by 2025. » Washington Post »
Stellantis, the company that combined PSA Peugeot and Fiat Chrysler, signed a binding agreement with Vulcan Energy Resources Ltd. in Germany, which uses geothermal energy to produce the battery-quality lithium hydroxide from brine without using fossil fuels. Vulcan will supply between 81,000 metric tons and 99,000 metric tons of lithium hydroxide over the five-year term of the agreement.