2019 was a year of EVolution
December 30, 2019
December 30, 2019
There were a lot of unexpected headlines in 2019 and the EV ecosystem in North America was no exception. EV sales continued to skyrocket, there were major vehicle announcements from almost all the manufacturers and there were a record number of utilities investing in ways to integrate EVs with the grid. Some news was great, like the price of batteries falling 87% over the last decade to a price of $156 per kWh. Some news was not so great, such as the White House opposing the extension of the federal EV tax credit. Lastly, some news just left people wondering, “Do we really need a bulletproof car that comes with its own ATV?” In this article we will go over some top EV stories of 2019 and what they mean for utilities.
A wild ride for Tesla
2019 was a big year for the California based company and while there were some justifiable concerns they ended up the clear winners in the EV world. On May 31st Tesla Inc. stock had tumbled 43%, down to $176.99 per share representing an approximate loss of $4.9 billion. Bloomberg cited the reason for this drop as “Wall Street has grown increasingly skeptical about consumer demand for the company’s electric vehicles.” Wall Street was wrong. Tesla not only dominated the EV market, representing 47% of all new US PEV sales, but the Model 3 became one of the highest selling vehicles in the US and on December 27th the company closed at an all time of $434.99 per share. The success of the Model 3 wasn’t the only thing driving the success as Tesla also had a few other major announcements throughout the year. In March, they unveiled a fully electric crossover: the Model Y, announced their first European manufacturing plant Gigafactory 4 in November and unveiled the Cybertruck.
This fully electric pick-up truck was definitely not what anyone expected. Looking like something out of a science fiction movie it featured a “bulletproof” stainless steel frame, on-board power inverters for supplying both 120 and 240-volt electricity, a built-in air compressor for powering pneumatic tools and some questionable armored glass. Love it or hate you are aware of it since it ruled news headlines. The controversially-designed truck had over 250,000 pre-orders placed within a week of its unveiling, and while pre-orders are not sales, it sends a clear message that there is consumer demand for electric vehicles. Whether you are a fan of Tesla or it’s eccentric CEO one thing is certain, Tesla will continue to play a large role in vehicle electrification.
Rivian secures $1.5 billion in investments and a 100,000 vehicle order
It was back in 2017 when Rivian had announced that it would be building a fully electric SUV and Pickup truck. However, it was 2019 that they announced some of their biggest news as they received three rounds of funding; $700 million from Amazon in February, $500 million for Ford Motor Company in April and lastly $350 million for Cox Automotive. If this funding wasn’t a big enough sign that EVs were going to play a significant role in transportation, in September it was announced that the Amazon, the Fortune 500 e-commerce company, had ordered 100,000 electric delivery vans from Rivian. This was not only important because of the total number of EVs it will put on the road but it also sends a powerful message as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said, “If we can do this, anyone can do this.”
The iconic Ford Mustang and F-150 go electric
While Ford has been in the EV game for a number of years they have been focused on hybrid vehicles. That changed in 2019 with the announcement of two battery electric vehicles, the Mustang Mach-E crossover SUV and the F-150 electric pickup truck. While the newest addition to the long-running pony/muscle car line generated a lot of attention, the real winner is the F-150. The F series trucks are not only the most recognized light and medium duty trucks, they are also one of the top selling vehicles in North America with almost 680,000 sold YTD by the end of Q3. While there are still many details that need to be released, such as range and price, the F-150 will undoubtedly play a large role in the future of EVs.
FleetCarma continues to grow and showcases the results of the World’s largest EV charging study
It’s wasn’t only the EV industry that went through some significant changes in 2019. FleetCarma launched new EV load profiling studies across the US with programs in Tacoma, Arizona and Rhode Island to help utilities understand how EVs are driving and charging in their service territories. They relocated to a new office located in the Catalyst137 building, an IoT (internet of things) hub which houses some of Canada’s leading tech companies. In July, they released the findings from the world’s largest EV charging study Charge the North. This groundbreaking research project included 12.4 million miles of driving data, 4,721 MWh of EV charging load and 727,000 charging events gathered from 1000 EVs over a two-year period. This provided numerous insights such as the effects of seasonal climate, geography and commute distance on charging behaviour, the impact of time-of-use (TOU) rates on peak load and the conclusion that if left unmanaged EVs will pose a risk to the grid at the distribution level. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, midway through the year FleetCarma hired a new marketing content developer to produce intriguing articles among other things.
A summary report of Charge the North can be downloaded here.
2019 was a pivotal year for electric vehicles as we saw significant changes and got a glimpse of what lies in the future. However, there are still a lot of questions to be answered and some uncertainty. Will EV sales continue to grow as quickly if the federal tax credit is not expanded? Will other provinces or states introduce laws like British Columbia’s Zero-Emission Vehicles Act, which requires all new vehicles sales to be 100% zero-emission vehicles by 2040? The question that utilities should be focusing on now is, are they ready? EV charging load is evolving and long-range BEVs pose a risk to distribution infrastructure. This risk will only continue to grow as this vehicle type continues to gain popularity and now represent 66% of all new EV sales in the US. Another factor to consider is the battery capacity of these bigger trucks and SUVs as they enter the market. The Rivian R1T pickup truck boasts a battery capacity of up to 180 kWh, which is almost triple the size of a Nissan Leaf (up to 63 kWh) and almost double that of a Tesla Model X (up to 100 kWh). This is important for a few reasons, these batteries will need to charge at a higher power level, the extended range means they won’t have to charge everyday making the load harder to anticipate, and lastly when they are charging it will take longer, increasing the likelihood of coincident peaks.
In order to start preparing a solution it’s critical that utilities better understand the problems related to EV charging load. We at FleetCarma look forward to helping them in 2020, after all it’s our grid too.
Cameron Feil is the Marketing Content Developer at FleetCarma, a division of Geotab. He has spent more than a decade marketing everything from local fish & chip restaurants to phased array ultrasonic non-destructive testing equipment. As a part of FleetCarma he helps promote their cutting edge technology within the electric vehicle industry. Cameron began his career in radio advertising upon graduating the Broadcast Radio program from Conestoga College. After a number of years he transitioned from sales into marketing and has since completed multiple continuing education programs.