I recently stumbled on an article that I am re-posting below. I was casually reading this article, found it interesting, and then right near the end, the author mentioned Rock Valley College which is the college that offers classes on cold heading. Representatives from Rock Valley College participated in the Fastener Coalition’s Fastener Summit a couple years ago. The author of this article, Ernie Redfern, lives in Rockford, Illinois which a city with a rich fastener history. I wrote to Ernie asking if I could reprint the article and his response was also very interesting:
“No problem at all. I think it is EXTREMELY important that we reinforce the issue with all-electric. I believe the Big 3 in Detroit, not really known for the far thinking, are teetering on becoming extinct. I do not say that without sadness. This country was a big leader in the internal combustible engine (ICE) world. Our problem is we still think we are the leader in the world of automobile markets. China is the clear leader, surpassing us two years ago, and if you review the projections, in a decade will be double the size of the U.S. market. India is also screaming forward – we may find ourselves third on the list.
Although combating climate change is a big factor in the push for all-electric vehicles, dependence on foreign oil is another. The rise in the number of car owners in China and India, the two most populated countries, means those countries must spend more foreign currencies on oil imports while the increased petrol vehicles contribute to an already dismal pollution problem. Electricity is viewed as an energy source that can be domestically produced while combating climate.
Tesla has projected that in 2 years their battery will go from a 400,000 mile life today to a 1,000,000 mile life. Go to the GM web site on the Bolt EV https://www.chevrolet.com/electric/bolt-ev-electric-car – the only maintenance needed is rotating tires every 7,500 miles, replacing cabin air filter every 22,500 miles and periodically checking the brakes. Somehow Tesla can get 370 miles while GM ekes out 238 on a full charge. “
And, with that introduction, here is the article from Ernie Redfern:
As the longest United Auto Workers’ strike in 50 years against General Motors winds down, the underlying tensions will remain. Over the next few years, GM plans 20 new electric models, mostly in China, funded in part by U.S. plant closures and other cost-saving measures so that GM can get the $6 billion it needs per year to bring these cars to market.
From the outside, it may seem a cruel irony that U.S. workers will bear a disproportionate penalty for GM’s ambitions in China. But it’s really about the fight for survival of the U.S. automobile industry. In the next generation of automotive transportation – the all-electric vehicle – the U.S. must remain relevant.
Americans’ love affair with the internal combustion engine might be the undoing of our domestic automobile manufacturers. I told a piston-head friend that gas-powered vehicles are taking the elephant walk into the graveyard. His reaction was fast and furious: “I will NEVER get in, or drive, an electric vehicle!”
Volkswagen Group, the world’s largest auto manufacturer, projects that by 2040, all-electric cars will make up 70 percent of new cars sold in Europe and 60 percent of new cars sold in the United States.
In March 2019, all-electric cars made up 60 percent of new sales in Norway, which is banning gas automobiles by 2025. Denmark, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Netherlands and Sweden have targeted 2030 for the end of new sales of petrol vehicles (which include those with diesel engines). By 2040, that ban would extend to France and the United Kingdom.
China, by far the largest auto market in the world, wants 85 percent of its vehicles to be all-electric by 2040. To reach this target, that government is restricting the number of new petrol vehicles that can be registered.
Germany, about the size of Montana, has committed to installing 1 million charging stations by 2030 with 100,000 being installed in 2020. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates 68,800 stations in this country today.
The State of Illinois’s status? Starting in January 1, 2020, owners of all-electric vehicles must pay an annual fee of $100 in addition to standard registration fees. The Illinois Citizens Utility Board projects that in 10 years we could have as many as 2.2 million all-electric vehicles (30% of all passenger vehicles) registered if we get serious about climate change.
If the U.S. and Illinois are behind, Rockford is in the stone age. There are only 14 public charging stations within a 10-mile radius of downtown Rockford – not one of them on the west side of the Rock River. The City of Rockford, unlike the State of Illinois, has no target on converting part of their fleet of vehicles to either all-electric or hybrid. A check with city officials shows that Rockford has no plan on how to generate revenue from the emergence of all-electric vehicles. And no guidelines are in place for infrastructure investments related to electric vehicles. An example is putting in new city sidewalks without conduit that would allow the city to easily install charging stations later.
As we go all-electric, it is estimated that, worldwide, we eventually will lose 3,000,000 automobile industry jobs. The all-electric vehicle requires 30 percent fewer parts. A UAW study projects they will lose 35,000 jobs in the next few years in the shift to all-electric.
If in 20 years we go to 60 percent all-electric vehicles in the United States, we have concerns to address now:
- Will our aging electric distribution system be able to meet this new power drain?
- A lot of corner gas stations/oil-change centers are going to close. What type of environmental cleanup will be needed and what repurposing is possible?
- With limited gas tax support, how will road improvements be funded in the long run?
- Where are the best places for public charging stations?
- Can we make Rock Valley College a national leader in this technology?
A ship has sailed with the rest of the world on it, and here we are standing on the docks with our gas can in hand. Let’s wake up and protect our place in the automotive world. Even Harley Davidson is going electric.
Ernie Redfern is a Rockford resident.