New electric cars parked under photovoltaic systems at a parking lot in Jinzhong.

From NYT article, see previous post.

“New electric cars parked under photovoltaic systems at a parking lot in Jinzhong. China has one of the fastest-growing E.V. markets, with sales expected to double this year to about six million vehicles.Credit…Visual China Group via Getty Images”

David Lindsay: We are cutting down forests to put up solar farms, when we could be doing this to parking lots all over the country!!!

Source: (20+) David Lindsay | Facebook

For China’s Auto Market, Electric Isn’t the Future. It’s the Present. Electric Isn’t the Future. It’s the Present – The New York Times

“Zhang Youping, a Chinese retiree, purchased an all-electric, small sport-utility vehicle from BYD — China’s largest electric vehicle maker — at an auto show for around $20,000 last month. Her family has bought three gas-powered cars in the last decade, but she recently grew concerned about gas prices and decided to go electric “to save money.” A few months earlier, her son had also bought an E.V. It was a $10,000 hatchback from Leapmotor, another Chinese manufacturer.

This year, a quarter of all new cars purchased in China will be an all-electric vehicle or a plug-in hybrid. There are, by some estimates, more than 300 Chinese companies making E.V.s, ranging from discount offerings below $5,000 to high-end models that rival Tesla and German automakers. There are roughly four million charging units in the country, double the number from a year ago, with more coming.

While other E.V. markets are still heavily dependent on subsidies and financial incentives, China has entered a new phase: Consumers are weighing the merits of electric vehicles against gas-powered cars based on features and price without much consideration of state support. By comparison, the United States is far behind. This year, the country passed a key threshold of E.V.s accounting for 5 percent of new car sales. China passed that level in 2018.”

Railroads’ Strategy Thrilled Wall Street, but Not Customers and Workers – The New York Times

“America’s first commercial railroads were built almost two centuries ago. Freight rail has been a symbol of the nation’s economic might and ingenuity ever since.

In recent years, some of the biggest names on Wall Street have made significant investments in railroads, reaping big stock gains as railroads reported higher profits. But the underlying strategies that strengthened railroads’ bottom lines have caused friction with customers, regulators and particularly workers — giving rise to a contract dispute that threatened a nationwide shutdown of the railway system.

After losing ground to trucking in the mid-20th century, the rail industry managed to recover through decades of consolidation and a push for efficiency. Critics say those same dynamics created a system with thin staffing and minimal competition, making it particularly vulnerable to shocks like the coronavirus pandemic.”

Edward Niedermeyer | We Can’t Just Throw Bigger Batteries at Electric Vehicles – The New York Times

“. . . . Compared to the herculean task of building supply chains to sustain a broad domestic E.V. market, tackling this problem from the demand side almost seems easy. Proving that E.V.s can road trip may have been an important psychological hurdle for the technology to tackle, but it remains more psychological than real: the average American motorist drives about 40 miles per day and 95 percent of our car trips are 30 miles or shorter.

We haven’t so much overcome this psychological hurdle as thrown big batteries at it, which is having a paradoxical (if predictable) effect of actually entrenching it. Despite dramatic growth in median E.V. range, to 234 miles in 2021 from 90 miles in 2015, consumer demand for range is always one step ahead. Three hundred miles might have been a desirable figure for potential E.V. buyers in 2019, but come 2021 it was 341 miles, according to findings from Cox Automotive. We could cater endlessly to this desire for more range without ever satiating it: More is always more, but more is also never enough.

As much as these psychological challenges are born of American geography, history and mythology, they are also born of the unique attributes of gasoline. Rather than holding E.V. adoption hostage to our ability to make batteries match internal combustion in every way, government policy should focus on the cases where E.V.s have advantages that internal combustion will never match: waking up every morning with a full “tank” sufficient for daily commuting and errands.

By improving home charging for urban apartment dwellers and prioritizing vehicles with smaller batteries, rather than road-trip-enabling charging stations and big batteries, we could maximize the miles we can affordably electrify. In an era of battery scarcity, we could have two 150-mile E.V.s for the battery capacity in every 300-mile E.V. Or, using the same 300-mile E.V. battery, you could have six plug-in hybrids with 50 miles of electric range for daily driving and a gasoline engine for those rarer road trips or many, many more e-bikes.”

Farhad Manjoo | With Elon Musk, the Drama Is the Point – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“Previously on “Elon,” our man rushed into a $44 billion deal to buy Twitter just before the bottom fell out of tech stocks, including his own. Not the best timing, but fret not, for Elon’s always got an out.

This time it’s bots. Eradicating the scammy, automated accounts that plague Twitter had been one of his ideas for turning the company around: “Defeat the spam bots or die trying!” he’d vowed.

Well, new war plan: Retreat! Twitter says bots make up less than 5 percent of its user base, but what if there are lots more bots than we thought? Couldn’t, say, 20 percent of Twitter’s users be bots? And maybe it’s even more! What if Twitter has been underreporting its bot count in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission? Hence Elon’s new plot: Unless Twitter can prove who’s bot and who’s not, the deal’s shot.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Maybe Musk will continue to do well, My partner and I set aside money for an S3 Tesla, and then Musk announced he planned to reopen Twitter to Trump and his ilk. We decided not to buy a Tesla after all. Luckily, there will be more choices by next year.

Edward Niedermeyer | Elon Musk’s Tesla Management Is a Bad Sign for Twitter – The New York Times

Mr. Niedermeyer is the author of “Ludicrous: The Unvarnished Story of Tesla Motors” and has interviewed over 100 former Tesla employees.

“Elon Musk’s repeated wavering on his deal to buy Twitter has roiled markets and raised fresh questions about his seriousness. His promises to preserve free speech, ban spam bots and dramatically boost revenue may have earned the blessing of the company’s founder, Jack Dorsey, but with Twitter’s stock falling well below his offer price, Mr. Musk appears to be reneging on a deal that has made even Wall Street grow skeptical.

For those of us who have followed Mr. Musk’s antics for some time, the latest twist in his bid for the social media platform is entirely in character. The way that he has managed and marketed his businesses from Tesla’s early days reveals a dysfunction behind the automaker’s veneer of technofuturism and past stock market successes. Often announcing new features without consultation with his team, he forces his employees to bridge the enormous gap between technological reality and his dreams. This disconnect fosters a negligent and sometimes cruel workplace, to disastrous effect.”

GM’s Mary Barra Has a Plan to Win the Electric Vehicle Race – The New York Times

“WARREN, Mich. — General Motors made a splash last year when it announced a bold plan to ramp up sales of electric vehicles and said it would stop making gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035.

But more than a year later, some other automakers appear better positioned to lead the industry’s transition to E.V.s. Tesla had global sales of more than 310,000 electric cars in the first quarter of this year, while G.M. is far behind unless it counts E.V.s made by its Chinese joint ventures. It sold fewer than 500 E.V.s in the United States in the quarter. Ford Motor has just started production of an electric F-150 pickup truck and has taken customer reservations for more than 200,000 of them.

Yet, G.M.’s chief executive, Mary T. Barra, is unconcerned. In her view, the G.M. strategy should enable the company to make more affordable E.V.s than most competitors, and eventually to win over many of the tens of millions of mainstream car buyers who are not yet shopping for electric vehicles.

Last year E.V.s accounted for about 3 percent of the 15 million cars and trucks sold in the United States. As that percentage grows, G.M. expects this cost advantage to allow it to overtake most of its rivals within a few years and to challenge Tesla for the lead in E.V. sales before the end of the decade.”

Farhad Manjoo | Riding a Bike in America Should Not Be This Dangerous – The New York Times

     Opinion Columnist

“MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — At about 8:15 a.m. on a Thursday morning in March, Andre Retana, a 13-year-old riding his bike to middle school, pulled up to a red light at the intersection of El Camino Real and Grant Road in this Silicon Valley suburb.

Near two major state highways, the El Camino and Grant crossing is one of the area’s busiest and most dangerous sections of roadway. The intersection lacks dedicated bike lanes and other features to protect bicyclists and pedestrians from fast-moving motor vehicle traffic. Instead the intersection is an asphalt-and-concrete love letter to cars. Gas stations occupy two corners; an America’s Tire store sits on a third, a BMW dealership on the fourth. Its traffic design, too, prioritizes the efficient movement of cars and trucks over other uses of the road. To keep traffic humming along, motorists on all of its corners are allowed to turn right on red lights.

As Andre approached the intersection’s southeast corner, he rode alongside a construction truck waiting at the light to turn right. A police investigation would later determine that the truck had come to a complete stop at the red light. Police say the truck driver, high up in the cab, had never seen Andre, who was in the truck’s blind spot.”

How the Supply Chain Crunch is Hurting California Farmers. – The New York Times

Peter S. Goodman has covered the supply chain chaos for the past two years. He reported this story from Manteca and Fresno, in California’s Central Valley, as well as Washington, D.C., and the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

“During a normal spring, the sight of orchards bursting with clusters of almonds is a boon throughout California’s Central Valley. Here is money growing on trees.

Not this year.

As Scott Phippen looks out on his orchard on a recent afternoon, he feels a sense of foreboding tinged with rage. His warehouse is stuffed with the leftovers of last year’s harvest — 30 million pounds of almonds stored in wooden and plastic bins stacked to the rafters, and overflowing into his yard. Orders assembled for customers sit in giant white plastic bags and cardboard cartons arrayed across pallets, awaiting ships that can carry them across the water to Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

The almonds are here, the customers are over there, and the global shipping industry is failing to span the divide.”

How Billions in Infrastructure Funding Could Worsen Global Warming – The New York Times

The highways in Colorado, one of the nation’s fastest-growing states, are frequently clogged with suburban workers driving into Denver, skiers heading high into the Rocky Mountains and trucks rumbling across the Interstates.

A Western frontier state with an affinity for the open road and Subaru Outbacks, Colorado’s traditional answer to traffic congestion could be summed up in two words: more asphalt.

But widening highways and paving new roads often just spurs people to drive more, research shows. And as concerns grow about how tailpipe emissions are heating the planet, Colorado is among a handful of car-dominated states that are rethinking road building.

In December, Colorado adopted a first-of-its-kind climate change regulation that will push transportation planners to redirect funding away from highway expansions and toward projects that cut vehicle pollution, such as buses and bike lanes.