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Bloomberg: The Electric Car Revolution Is Here to Stay
Within six years, the cost of owning an electric car will be cheaper than purchasing and running a petrol or diesel model. That’s the conclusion of a report on the fast-expanding electric car market by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
The report says that even if petrol or diesel driven cars improve their fuel efficiency over the coming years, the cost of owning an electric car—buying it and running it—will be below that of conventional vehicles by 2022.
The increased sale of electrically-powered cars is seen as an important element in the fight against climate change. CO2 emissions from vehicles fueled by petrol and diesel cause a build-up of greenhouse gases and, especially in cities, pollution from exhausts causes serious damage to health.
Bloomberg says electric vehicle (EV) sales worldwide reached just under half a million in 2015—a 60 percent rise on the previous year. Although electric-powered cars make up only one percent of the global vehicle total at present, it is predicted that worldwide EV sales will be more than 40 million by 2040, making up approximately 35 percent of all light duty vehicle sales.
The report’s authors say developments in battery technology are one of the key factors driving the downward trend in prices in the electric car market.
“At the core of this forecast is the work we have done on EV battery prices,” said Colin McKerracher, a Bloomberg analyst.
“Lithium-ion battery costs have already fallen by 65 percent since 2010, reaching $350 per kilowatt hour (kWh) last year. We expect EV battery costs to be well below $120 per kWh by 2030 and to fall further after that as new chemistries come in,” added McKerracher.
To date, two types of electric car have been produced for the mass market: a battery electric vehicle (BEV) is solely dependent on batteries for power, while a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) uses a combination of rechargeable batteries and a conventional engine as back-up.
Recent improvements in battery technology mean that a BEV can travel up to 200 miles without recharging.
Electric vehicle manufacturers say that as more sales are achieved, manufacturing costs will drop as economies of scale are achieved.
Various electric-powered sports models manufactured in the U.S. and Europe have tended to grab the headlines recently, but the main sales growth in future is likely to take place in China.
At present, the U.S. continues to be the world’s biggest EV market, although it is Japan’s Nissan Leaf that heads electric car sales.
The government in China, faced with tackling serious pollution problems in many cities, is giving big subsidies to the country’s electric car manufacturers.
Incentives to Buyers
It is also offering incentives to buyers, in terms of lower insurance premiums and road taxes, discounted charging facilities and access to urban road networks when other vehicles are banned due to high pollution levels.
Xindayang, a Chinese manufacturer, is marketing electric vehicles in China at a cost of $10,000—much cheaper than EVs elsewhere.
Chinese EV manufacturers have global ambitions. Faraday Future, a China-backed EV maker, recently announced plans to invest more than a billion dollars in a manufacturing plant in the U.S.
China is also investing heavily in the necessary infrastructure for EVs. The State Council—the main law-making body in China—announced last year that facilities would be developed to handle up to five million plug-in vehicles by 2020.
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"The rapid pace of labour-saving technology brings into focus the possibility of a shorter working week for all, if deployed properly," Autonomy Director Will Stronge said, The Guardian reported. "However, while automation shows that less work is technically possible, the urgent pressures on the environment and on our available carbon budget show that reducing the working week is in fact necessary."
The report found that if the economies of Germany, Sweden and the UK maintain their current levels of carbon intensity and productivity, they would need to switch to a six, 12 and nine hour work week respectively if they wanted keep the rise in global temperatures to the below two degrees Celsius promised by the Paris agreement, The Independent reported.
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"We welcome this attempt by Autonomy to grapple with the very real changes society will need to make in order to live within the limits of the planet," Emma Williams of the Four Day Week campaign said in a statement reported by The Independent. "In addition to improved well-being, enhanced gender equality and increased productivity, addressing climate change is another compelling reason we should all be working less."
Supporters of the idea linked it to calls in the U.S. and Europe for a Green New Deal that would decarbonize the economy while promoting equality and well-being.
"This new paper from Autonomy is a thought experiment that should give policymakers, activists and campaigners more ballast to make the case that a Green New Deal is absolutely necessary," Common Wealth think tank Director Mat Lawrence told The Independent. "The link between working time and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions has been proved by a number of studies. Using OECD data and relating it to our carbon budget, Autonomy have taken the step to show what that link means in terms of our working weeks."
Stronge also linked his report to calls for a Green New Deal.
"Becoming a green, sustainable society will require a number of strategies – a shorter working week being just one of them," he said, according to The Guardian. "This paper and the other nascent research in the field should give us plenty of food for thought when we consider how urgent a Green New Deal is and what it should look like."
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