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Topic : California Is Trying to Jump-Start the Hydrogen Economy

Since President George W. Bush fueled a minivan with hydrogen 15 years ago, the promise of cars and trucks powered by the fuel has come up mostly empty.


That hydrogen pump, in Washington, closed long ago. But in California, the beginnings of a hydrogen economy may finally be dawning after many fits and starts.


Dozens of hydrogen buses are lumbering down city streets, while more and larger fueling stations are appearing from San Diego to San Francisco, financed by the state and the federal government. With the costs of producing and shipping hydrogen coming down, California is setting ambitious goals to phase out vehicles that run on fossil fuels in favor of batteries and hydrogen.


Some energy executives said they expect investment in hydrogen to accelerate under President-elect Joe Biden, who made climate change a big part of his campaign and proposed a $2 trillion plan to tackle the problem.


A recent McKinsey & Co. study estimated that the hydrogen economy could generate $140 billion in annual revenue by 2030 and support 700,000 jobs. The study projected that hydrogen could meet 14% of total American energy demand by 2050.


The use of hydrogen, the lightest and most abundant substance in the universe, is still in its infancy, and California is determined to be its cradle in the United States.The state now has roughly 40 fueling stations, with dozens more under construction. While those numbers are tiny compared with the 10,000 gasoline stations across the state, officials have high hopes.


With about 7,500 hydrogen vehicles on the road, an aggressive state program of incentives and subsidies from cap-and-trade dollars envisions 50,000 hydrogen light-duty vehicles by mid-decade and a network of 1,000 hydrogen stations by 2030.


Hydrogen-powered vehicles are similar to electric cars. But unlike electric cars, which have large batteries, these cars have hydrogen tanks and fuel cells that turn the gas into electricity. The cars refuel and accelerate quickly, and they can go for several hundred miles on a full tank. They emit only water vapor, which makes them appealing to California cities that are trying to reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.


“Almost any objective analysis for getting to zero emissions includes hydrogen,” said Jack Brouwer, director of the National Fuel Cell Research Center at the University of California, Irvine.


Source article: https://udn.com/news/story/6904/5106534

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Wheels falling off China’s ‘deep fake’ car manufacturer

Chinese automobile manufacturer Zotye Auto is a household name in China. The company is famous for manufacturing copies of car models by luxury international brands including Audi, Porsche and Lamborghini. After a long delay, on June 22, Zotye Auto finally released its 2019 year end financial results. The report revealed that last year, the automaker suffered losses of 11.2 billion yuan (approximately NT$46.6 billion), or an average of 30 million yuan per day. The company’s market value also shrank from 30 billion yuan to a mere 3.6 billion yuan. Even worse, because the company is unable to guarantee the authenticity, accuracy and completeness of its financial report, Zotye Auto has been issued with a “risk of delisting warning” by Shenzhen Stock Exchange.


Seemingly without a care for the outside world, Zotye Auto has been audaciously building slavish copies of imported luxury car models. The company became a household name in China after producing facsimile versions of the Audi Q3 (Zotye SR7), Porsche Macan (Zotye SR9) and Lamborghini Urus (Zotye Concept S). Due to Zotye Auto’s uncanny ability to produce lookalike cars, there is a joke currently doing the rounds in China: “If you want to get behind the wheel of a Lamborghini, pay a visit to Zotye Auto.”

眾泰汽車因為不顧外界觀瞻,大膽模仿進口名車,而在中國家喻戶曉,該公司推出的眾泰SR7模仿奧迪Q3,眾泰SR9模仿保時捷Macan ,眾泰Concept S模仿蘭寶堅尼Urus。由於模仿能力出眾,中國坊間甚至流傳著一句調侃話:「這輩子能不能開蘭寶堅尼,就看眾泰了!」

However, having relied on imitating the work of others, the company lacks home-grown innovation, while the quality of its vehicles has not kept pace with the sophistication of its copycat designs. Annual sales have been steadily falling too: in 2016, the company sold 330,000 vehicles. This fell to 310,000 in 2017 and only 230,000 in 2018. Zotye Auto initially set a sales target of 480,000 vehicles per year, yet in 2018 it failed to reach even half that figure. Last year, sales declined at an even steeper rate with the company only managing to shift 116,600 vehicles.


To make matters even worse, Zotye Auto chief executive Lou Guohai has stated that he cannot guarantee the authenticity, accuracy and completeness of his company’s year end financial report, citing various reasons including uncertainty over the company’s ability to continue operating, multiple lawsuits and outstanding obligations.


Source article: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/lang/archives/2020/07/01/2003739125

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Despite High Hopes, Self-Driving Cars Are ‘Way in the Future’

A year ago, Detroit and Silicon Valley had visions of putting thousands of self-driving taxis on the road in 2019, ushering in an age of driverless cars.


Most of those cars have yet to arrive — and it is likely to be years before they do. Several carmakers and technology companies have concluded that making autonomous vehicles is going to be harder, slower and costlier than they thought.


“We overestimated the arrival of autonomous vehicles,” Ford’s chief executive, Jim Hackett, said at the Detroit Economic Club in April.


In the most recent sign of the scramble to regroup, Ford and Volkswagen said Friday that they were teaming up to tackle the self-driving challenge.


The two automakers plan to use autonomous-vehicle technology from a Pittsburgh startup, Argo AI, in ride-sharing services in a few urban zones as early as 2021. But Argo’s chief executive, Bryan Salesky, said the industry’s bigger promise of creating driverless cars that could go anywhere was “way in the future.”


He and others attribute the delay to something as obvious as it is stubborn: human behavior.


Researchers at Argo say the cars they are testing in Pittsburgh and Miami have to navigate unexpected situations every day. Recently, one of the company’s cars encountered a bicyclist riding the wrong way down a busy street between other vehicles.


Another Argo test car came across a street sweeper that suddenly turned a giant circle in an intersection, touching all four corners and crossing lanes of traffic that had the green light.


“You see all kinds of crazy things on the road, and it turns out they’re not all that infrequent, but you have to be able to handle all of them,” Salesky said. “With radar and high-resolution cameras and all the computing power we have, we can detect and identify the objects on a street. The hard part is anticipating what they’re going to do next.”


Salesky said Argo and many competitors had developed about 80% of the technology needed to put self-driving cars into routine use — the radar, cameras and other sensors that can identify objects far down roads and highways.


But the remaining 20%, including developing software that can reliably anticipate what other drivers, pedestrians and cyclists are going to do, will be much more difficult, he said.


A year ago, many industry executives exuded much greater certainty. They thought that their engineers had solved the most vexing technical problems and promised that self-driving cars would be shuttling people around town in at least several cities by sometime this year.


Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/343041/web/