This week I discuss recall risks for electric vehicles. I share my opinion on California legislators' seeking to ban self-driving trucks from using public roads without a human driver present. I also comment on the future of green hydrogen.
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Hot Topics of 5/15/2023
Designing, developing, and producing vehicles takes a lot of cash. While electric propulsion technology lowered many entry barriers for automotive start-ups (such as engine and transmission development, emissions systems design and testing, etc.), the auto business remains capital-intensive. Although Tesla appears to have achieved profitability, it was operating in the red for many years.
Expect a bumpy ride for the next few years as automakers grapple with managing an increasing level of software complexity. Over-the-air (OTA) updates will allow manufacturers to deploy improvements to customers without dealer visits but expect increased reliance on OTA usage as the need to update software grows over time.
Self-Driving Trucks & Vehicles:
Legislators in California are seeking to ban self-driving trucks from using public roads without a human driver present. This could significantly dampen the state’s role in developing self-driving technology. Protecting jobs and promoting safety is part of the motivation. If the US is to continue to hold a leadership position in automated vehicle technology, we will need development-friendly legislation to reduce barriers to testing while maintaining public safety.
Can green hydrogen fulfill its promise of abundant, clean energy for transportation? It appears to be a more efficient solution for long-haul trucking with short refueling times and lightweight propulsion when compared to battery electric vehicle (BEV) configurations. The hydrogen infrastructure in the US is even more nascent than the EV charging network, so companies must contemplate how to refuel their fleets reliably and economically. I do not see hydrogen powering passenger cars en masse for years to come, but trucking is a killer application. The key is figuring out how to get it in the tank.