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New Analysis Shows Just How Bad Electric Trucks Are For Business

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From the Daily Caller News Foundation

By WILL KESSLER

 

Converting America’s medium- and heavy-duty trucks to electric vehicles (EV) in accordance with goals from the Biden administration would add massive costs to commercial truckingaccording to a new analysis released Wednesday.

The cost to switch over to light-duty EVs like a transit van would equate to a 5% increase in costs per year while switching over medium- and heavy-duty trucks would add up to 114% in costs per year to already struggling businesses, according to a report from transportation and logistics company Ryder Systems. The Biden administration, in an effort to facilitate a transition to EVs, finalized new emission standards in March that would require a huge number of heavy-duty vehicles to be electric or zero-emission by 2032 and has created a plan to roll out charging infrastructure across the country.

“There are specific applications where EV adoption makes sense today, but the use cases are still limited,” Karen Jones, executive vice president at Ryder, said in an accompanying press release. “Yet we’re facing regulations aimed at accelerating broader EV adoption when the technology and infrastructure are still developing. Until the gap in TCT for heavier-duty vehicles is narrowed or closed, we cannot expect many companies to make the transition, and, if required to convert in today’s market, we face more supply chain disruptions, transportation cost increases, and additional inflationary pressure.”

Due to the increase in costs for businesses, the potential inflationary impact on the entire economy per year is between 0.5% and 1%, according to the report. Inflation is already elevated, measuring 3.5% year-over-year in March, far from the Federal Reserve’s 2% target.

Increased expense projections differ by state, with class 8 heavy-duty trucks costing 94% more per year in California compared to traditional trucks, due largely to a 501% increase in equipment costs, while cost savings on fuel only amounted to 52%. In Georgia, costs would be 114% higher due to higher equipment costs, labor costs, a smaller payload capacity and more.

The EPA also recently finalized rules mandating that 67% of all light-duty vehicles sold after 2032 be electric or hybrid. Around $1 billion from the Inflation Reduction Act has already been designated to be used by subnational governments in the U.S. to replace some heavy-duty vehicles with EVs, like delivery trucks or school buses.

The Biden administration has also had trouble expanding EV charging infrastructure across the country, despite allotting $7.5 billion for chargers in 2021. Current charging infrastructure frequently has issues operating properly, adding to fears of “range anxiety,” where EV owners worry they will become stranded without a charger.

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Automotive

EV transition stalls despite government mandates and billion-dollar handouts

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By Elmira Aliakbari and Julio Mejía

Both Canada and the United States have set ambitious mandates to accelerate the transition from combustion vehicles to zero-emission vehicles. According to the Trudeau government, all new passenger vehicles and light trucks sold in Canada must be zero-emission vehicles by 2035, with interim targets of 20 per cent by 2026 and 60 per cent by 2030. Similarly, the Biden administration has mandated that two-thirds of new vehicles sold in the U.S. must be electric by 2032. But despite massive taxpayer-funded subsidies for the electric vehicle (EV) sector, storm clouds are growing for the industry.

In April, Tesla laid off 10 per cent of its global workforce as it grapples with slow EV demand and falling sales. Similarly, Ford recently announced it would delay the start of EV production at the Oakville, Ontario plant by two years to let the consumer market develop and allow for further development of EV battery technology. Car rental giant Hertz earlier this year announced plans to sell one-third of its U.S. electric vehicle fleet and reinvest in gas-powered cars due to high repair costs and weak demand for its battery-powered cars. General Motors has abandoned the goal of producing 400,000 EVs by mid-2024 due to lower-than-expected sales.

The sluggish demand for EVs and the response from automakers should raise red flags for both the Trudeau government and Biden administration, given the massive subsidies (a.k.a. corporate welfare) injected into the EV and battery production industry. For instance, in Ontario, the Trudeau government and the Ford government have given $28.2 billion to the Stellantis EV battery plant in Windsor and the Volkswagen plant in St. Thomas. According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, it will take 20 years for the federal and Ontario governments to break even on the $28 billion pledged for those two plants. And this doesn’t include the $5 billion subsidy to Honda for a new EV manufacturing plant in the province.

Similarly, in Quebec, federal and provincial governments have pledged to spend $2.7 billion in subsidies for a new EV battery manufacturing plant and give $644 million to help Ford build a plant to produce EV battery materials.

But in reality, the EV transition faces major hurdles despite the massive amounts of taxpayer money being thrown at the industry.

Firstly, we lack adequate power grid infrastructure to meet the electricity demands of EV mandates. According to a recent study, meeting Canada’s EV mandate by 2035 could increase electricity demand by up to 15.3 per cent nationwide, necessitating substantial investments in new generation capacity and transmission infrastructure. Specifically, Canada would need to construct 10 new mega hydroelectric dams, comparable to British Columbia’s Site C, or alternatively, 13 new gas plants of 500-megawatt (MW) capacity to accommodate the surge in electricity demand from EVs.

Yet the timelines and costs associated with such projects are daunting. Drawing from recent experience with B.C.’s Site C dam, it took more than a decade to plan and comply with environmental regulations and approximately another decade to construct. To date, Site C, which remains under construction, is expected to cost $16 billion.

Secondly, there’s a shortage of mineral supply for EV batteries, with projections indicating the need for numerous new mines to meet EV adoption mandates. According to a recent study, to meet international EV adoption mandates (including mandates in Canada and the U.S.) by 2030, the world would need 50 new lithium mines, 60 new nickel mines, 17 new cobalt mines, 50 new mines for cathode production, 40 new mines for anode materials, 90 new mines for battery cells, and 81 new mines for EV bodies and motors, for a total of 388 new mines worldwide. For context, in 2021 there were only 340 metal mines operating in Canada and the U.S.

Historically, the development of mining and refining facilities has been sluggish. Production timelines range from six to nine years for lithium and 13 to 18 years for nickel—two elements critical for EV batteries. The aggressive government timelines for EV adoption clash with historically sluggish metal and mineral production, raising the risk of EV manufacturers falling short of needed minerals.

The EV transition faces major obstacles, and the recent scaling back or delays in EV production by automakers should serve as a warning to governments about the feasibility of their forced transition policies, which clearly put Canadian taxpayers at risk.

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Automotive

The EV battery ‘catch-22’

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From The Center Square

While setting aggressive goals for electric vehicle market share, the Biden administration also wants tariffs and or restrictions on the importation of vehicles and the minerals needed for their batteries – creating heightened concerns over supply chains in what can be described as a “Catch-22” situation.

Solutions to some of the problems include battery recycling and increased domestic mining, however, the U.S. is currently limited in its capacity for both. Federal funds are spurring new recycling plant projects, but questions remain on whether there will be enough used material to meet projected needs.

In his e-book, “The EV Transition Explained,” Robert Charette, longtime systems engineer, and contributing editor for IEEE Spectrum, says making the transition is harder than anyone thinks. He recently told The Center Square it is truer now than it ever was.

“None of this is simple,” he said.

His argument centers on the lack of planning and systems engineering on initiatives that are politically, not engineering, driven. While change is possible, he suggested it would require trillions more in government spending and enforcing those changes through law.

Charette identified many serious issues in setting up the EV battery infrastructure – and even if those challenges are met, he said, there may be tradeoffs between affordability, security and environmental concerns.

Profitability. Battery recycling is a still-developing process which is time consuming and expensive. The cost of purchasing recycled materials may be more costly than buying them new.

Manufacturing demand and potential backlog. The U.S. will require eight million batteries annually by 2030 to meet the government’s EV target, with increases each year after that.

Standardization. Batteries vary in configuration, size, and chemistry.

Domestic mining. While decreasing our dependency on outside sources, what are the environmental impacts? It can also take years to acquire permits and get a lithium mine up and running.

Mineral shortfalls. Secure and sustainable access to critical minerals like copper, lithium, cobalt, and nickel is essential for a smooth and affordable transition to clean energy. An analysis by the International Energy Agency indicates a “significant gap” between the world’s supply and demand for copper and lithium. Projected supplies will only meet 70% of the copper and 50% of the lithium needed to achieve 2035 climate targets.

The report said that “without the strong uptake of recycling and reuse, “mining capital requirements would need to be one-third higher. The agency also emphasizes China’s dominance in the refining and processing sector.

Transportation of discharged batteries classified as hazardous waste is one of the costliest steps of the recycling process. Experts suggest updates to federal EPA and DOT regulations for how battery-related waste is classified. In addition to health and safety, they say clearer definitions of what constitutes hazardous waste would help reduce transportation costs. Many recycling plants are being built in regions where production sites are located to address this.

Supply chain and skills gap shortages. The timetable set by the government is not aligned with the capabilities of the current supply chain. Software plays a key role in the management and operation of an EV battery, and automakers are competing for a limited supply of software and systems engineers.

Competing interests. The goal is to create a circular battery economy, reducing the need for raw materials. However, an EV battery that is no longer useful for propelling a car still has enough life left for other purposes such as residential energy storage. Experts propose a battery material hierarchy where repurposing and reusing retired EV batteries are more favorable to immediately recycling them, detouring them out of the cycle.

Charette says the biggest problem with recycling projections is that they are built on assumptions that have not been tested.

“We won’t know whether these assumptions hold until we reach a point where we are recycling millions of EV batteries,” he said.

Because most EV lithium-ion batteries produced through 2023 are still on the road, the International Council on Clean Transportation reports that the majority of materials being used as feedstock by recycling plants currently come from scrap materials created during battery production.

According to Charette, manufacturers also claim future generations of batteries will last 15 to 20 years, which he says would put a bigger kink in the used-battery supply chain.

Another issue contributing to consumers’ reluctance to buy an EV is the inability to determine the overall health of your battery. Current testing methods are inefficient and costly.

EV adoption has so far not met projections and with all the competing interests, Charette said the market will ultimately tell us what direction the situation is headed. He is also intrigued over the impact government pressure will have on the eventual outcome.

He said many individual components have yet to be worked out, adding that although there is a vision, “we’re a heck of a long way from that vision to getting where we need to go.”

In his opinion, battery recycling issues are even further behind than transitioning the electric grid to renewable energy sources.

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