General Motors (GM) announced that it would stop manufacturing petrol and diesel cars by 2035, and would instead focus only on building zero emission vehicles as part of its plan to go carbon-neutral in its operations by 2040. The mammoth automaker is known for its gas-guzzling trucks and muscle cars, and its decision will likely have wide-ranging repercussions on the ICE vehicle ecosystem across North America. Its CEO Marry Barra has also previously acknowledged that it needs to switch to making EVs to pursue growth and profitability, and the company is launching the Hummer SUV as a 100% electric pick-up truck in 2022.
GM’s arch rival, Ford Motor Company, will also invest $22 billion by 2025 into developing new EV models that particularly target its largest selling divisions: pick-up trucks, commercial vans and SUVs. Ford’s foray into EVs with its Mustang Mach-E SUV has been successful, and its new funding strategy is part of its $29 billion investment in electric and autonomous vehicles. Its CEO, Jim Farley, claimed that “Ford is all in and will not cede ground to anyone in developing and delivering connected electric vehicles and services”, and it will be re-launching the F-150 — the largest selling vehicle in the US across all categories — as a fully electric pick-up truck in 2022.
India: Delhi CM launches “Switch Delhi” campaign, calls for 500 EV chargers
The chief minister of Delhi launched the “Switch Delhi” campaign on February 4 to educate the city’s residents on the merits of electric vehicles and to tackle its deadly air pollution. The campaign will encourage malls, market complexes and even RWAs (Resident Welfare Associations) to install EV chargers, and the administration has issued a tender to install 500 EV charging points across 100 locations in Delhi. Most importantly, within six months, the Delhi government will only hire electric cars for its several departments.
IIT startup develops zinc gel batteries as affordable alternative to li-ion
A startup incubated at IIT Kanpur developed a zinc-based battery that has found backing from big names, such as Shell, as a cheaper, non-toxic alternative to li-ion batteries. Known as Offgrid Energy Labs, the group developed a solvent-less zinc gel from salts commonly used in animal feed and agriculture, and it acts as the electrolyte for the battery. Its advantages include being non-flammable, temperature stable and not needing clean and dry rooms (like li-ion batteries do) — which lowers their cost by 35%. The batteries’ modular design also allows them to be customised for various applications.
The startup has generated a lot of interest and if successful, its batteries could prove to be an affordable alternative to India’s mammoth reliance on overseas imports.
US biofuel industry reluctant to join oil lobby in opposing Biden’s push for EVs
A report in Reuters suggested that high-ranking members of the US farming and biofuel sectors are reluctant to partner with the country’s oil lobby to oppose the new president’s federal subsidies for electric vehicles. The sectors are hugely influential in US policy making and have previously been at loggerheads with the oil refining industry as biofuels are a low-carbon alternative to gasoline.
However, the American Fuel and Petroleum Manufacturers (AFPM) association has been reaching out to its rivals to ensure that liquid fuels — and the IC engine — have a future in the US. Yet, associations like the National Corn Growers Association (NGCA) are reluctant to be seen as openly hostile to the new president, and have not yet confirmed if they would consider the partnership.