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Recently, Republicans received some favorable climate-related coverage. Utah’s 3rd District Congressman John Curtis announced the formation of a Conservative Climate Caucus. It came with a roster of roughly 60 Congresspeople, none of them particularly well known names. While they are light on content, they have sufficient info on their site to make a few early assessments. It’s possible that their actual actions will pleasantly surprise me, but the start is inauspicious.

First, though, it’s worth looking at some prior art in conservative climate actions.

There have been a few Republicans at the climate change table in the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus for years, and they include big names like Romney, Murkowski, Graham, Rubio, and Gaetz, all of whom are missing from the new Caucus (although it’s easy to understand why Gaetz wasn’t invited). And until the 2018 midterms, they were actually fully bi-partisan as their policy, with newcomers required to join in matched pairs.

Their solution is a revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend, along with reduced regulation. It’s a good policy, as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go nearly far enough and it would have needed to start in 1990. We need governments to make tough choices, we need carrots to draw first-movers, and we need sticks to beat recalcitrant industries with. A carbon fee that’s low and capped at a too-low rate is exactly one policy lever. The carbon fee and dividend is bog-standard conservative economic policy, outside of Libertarian ideologues. Place a price on negative externalities and let the market take care of the rest.

The Climate Leadership Council is another legacy group focused on climate action. It was founded by senior Republican luminaries including former Secretaries of State James A. Baker and George P. Shultz, and Rob Walton, former Chairman of Walmart. Its focus is a revenue-neutral climate fee and dividend as well, along with a side helping of deregulation. Since its very conservative founding, it’s branched out to be a bi-partisan effort as well, and gained approval of Nobel Laureates in economics and corporate sponsorship. That corporate involvement is telling, by the way. There are 8 big fossil fuel-oriented emitters in the set, all of which have been doing quite well at greenwashing and notably less well at actually eliminating fossil fuels. When BHP, ExxonMobil, and BP are bellying up to the bar, the reasonable question of greenwashing arises. But the policies include a border carbon adjustment as well, and there are worse policy sets. They would start their fee at $40 per ton per the report and increase it above inflation until it hit $80, which is too low, but still better than nothing.

So many conservative policy strategists and economists favor carbon taxes. But watch what happens when sensible administrations implement this conservative Pigovian tax:

  • In Australia, center-left Labor brought a carbon tax in. The right-wing Liberals — with the support of the Oz version of the Heritage Foundation and coal baron money — derided it utterly, fought an election on it, and when they won, canceled it.
  • In Canada, the centrist Liberals brought in a revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend to tax payers. The increasingly right-wing Conservatives derided it, fought two elections against it, thankfully losing both, and in a recent policy convention, refused to include climate change and action in their policies.

It’s like the Affordable Care Act, a Republican-created and tested policy that the conservative Obama Administration brought in. The Republicans immediately derided it as ObamaCare and fought tooth and nail against it for years. Consistency and so-called conservative parties like the Republicans don’t go hand in hand anymore.

So the new Republican-only Conservative Climate Caucus exists in a context. It doesn’t have big names associated with it. It’s inherently partisan. It’s entered a place where two pre-existing, well structured, well thought-through actually conservative caucuses and political action groups with senior Republican engagement already exist. And it doesn’t have a coherent policy it stands behind.

But it does have a set of ‘beliefs’, and they’ve already tipped their hand about what they are really all about. Let’s look at what they believe, point by point.

“The climate is changing, and decades of a global industrial era that has brought prosperity to the world has also contributed to that change.”

“Contributed to.” Right. The science is clear that we would be experiencing very slow cooling in a stable climate, but instead are seeing radically rapid heating, over 100 times faster than the heating which melted the continental glaciers 20-25 thousand years ago.

So yes, this is a belief. It’s not the reality. But that’s also not a policy indicator, so we can somewhat ignore it.

“Private sector innovation, American resources, and R&D investment have resulted in lower emissions and affordable energy, placing the United States as the global leader in reducing emissions.”

“Global leader.” Right. Germany is off 40% in GHG emissions since 1990. US emissions are about the same as they were in 1990, after having risen through 2010 or so. You have to cherrypick your timeframes to pretend the US is a global leader in emissions reduction when its per capita emissions are still among the highest in the world and its historical emissions are a full 25% of the global historical total.

This is a point of faith on the right. They really seem to believe this is true. So yes, more unsupported belief, not reality. And also not policy, although it’s a pointer to policy.

“Climate change is a global issue and China is the greatest immediate obstacle to reducing world emissions. Solutions should reduce global emissions and not just be “feel good” policies.”

China is not the greatest immediate obstacle in the real world. It is on track to hitting its (admittedly weak) Paris Agreement targets nine years early. It built as much wind and solar in 2020 as the rest of the world combined, 72 GW of wind and 48 GW of solar. It has 38,000 km of high-speed electrified passenger rail in operation, enough to circle the equator. It has well over 400,000 electric buses on the roads of its cities when no other country has 1,000 in operation. It buys 50% of all electric vehicles. It builds virtually all of the solar panels used globally. Chinese firms are two of the top five global wind turbine manufacturers.

China remained signatory to the Paris Agreement and acted when Republicans took the US out of the Agreement and regressed. For the past four years, the largest single obstacle to climate action was the United States. This is Sinophobic posturing, and indicative of policy that will not be useful. It sells well, and Biden does it too, but it remains harmful, finger-pointing nonsense.

And yet again, not policy, just a pointer to where policy might go.

“Practical and exportable answers can be found in innovation embraced by the free market. Americans and the rest of the world want access to cheaper, reliable, and cleaner energy.”

“Innovation” is a right-wing mantra as well. What it translates to is research funding, funding for the fossil fuel industries for failed carbon capture technologies, and yet more billions for nuclear energy. Innovation has already been embraced by the free market. It’s called wind and solar power. And it’s delivering cheaper, reliable, and actually clean — not ‘cleaner’ — energy globally today.

Germany and Denmark are running well over 40% on renewable electricity and their grid reliability metrics are vastly better than the US’. The average German and Dane see less than 15 minutes of power interruptions annually.

No one in the US sees anything approaching that level of reliability.

But this suggests policies. They extrapolate to:

These are no climate-friendly policies. These are fossil fuel industry friendly policies.

“With innovative technologies, fossil fuels can and should be a major part of the global solution.”

No, they won’t. This is #hopium from the fossil fuel industry, the Republican’s primary sponsors. The fossil fuel industry has to dwindle to a petrochemicals industry providing industrial feedstocks, perhaps 20% of a barrel, probably less.

This is indicative of energy and climate policies which are not about the greatest good for the greatest number, but the greatest good for the smallest number, specifically fossil fuel oligarchs like the Kochs.

“Reducing emissions is the goal, not reducing energy choices.”

Eliminating emissions is the goal, and some energy choices do not make that at all possible. Physics makes that very clear. More meat for the fossil fuel industry at the expense of the climate here.

So what this all means is that if — big if — Republicans actually come up with a climate policy at the federal level based on the new Caucus, it will be pretty much what Trump did.

  • Point fingers at other countries
  • Give lots of money and love to the fossil fuel industry
  • Pretend that the US is a leader, as opposed to a laggard

There is no intersection visible between the sane, empirically based policies of the Democratic Party, which is actually focused on the greatest good for the greatest number, and the policies of the Republican Party at this point.

Organize now to keep them out of power in 2022 and 2024.

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SUPER73 launches Adventure series e-bikes, kids bikes, and new e-motorcycle details




SUPER73 launches Adventure series e-bikes, kids bikes, and new e-motorcycle details

Southern California-based electric bike company SUPER73 has been quite busy lately, at least if today’s triple whammy of an announcement is any indication. The company dropped a new line of off-road e-bikes, new kids balance bikes and new information about the upcoming C1X electric motorcycle.

SUPER73 Adventure Series

The SUPER73 Adventure Series is an update to each of the company’s existing model lines, adding more hardcore tires and in some cases extra suspension, among other new components. According to the company, “Each SUPER73 Adventure Series model comes standard with more aggressive SUPER73 GRZLY tires, an extended performance seat with gripper vinyl for added comfort, a headlight and rear light, fenders, and the relocation of the battery to the down tube for the S and R models giving them a lower center of gravity for better handling.”

All of the Adventure Series bikes will also come standard with an 8-speed cassette, which is sure to make those off-road hill climbs much easier, at least when you opt to use the pedals.

According to SUPER73 CEO LeGrand Crewse, the new lineup was developed by listening to customer feedback:

“At SUPER73, we combine thoughtful design with features riders want on our vehicles. It’s a combination of form and function that sets us apart from the competition and the SUPER73 Adventure Series delivers in spades, so we’re excited to announce the new lineup is available now. We are huge proponents of listening to our customer feedback, especially from our Super Squad, while understanding the critical details that take our product to the next level. We’re always evolving our product lineup to reach the widest array of riders possible, showcasing a steadfast commitment to current and new customers.”

The new SUPER73 Z Adventure will start at $2,695, the SUPER73 S Adventure will start at $3,595, and the SUPER73 R Adventure will start at $3,995. All three models will include hydraulic disc brakes and suspension forks (a major upgrade for the SUPER73 Z), while the S Adventure and R Adventure’s forks will be fully-adjustable.

SUPER73 K1D kids balance e-bikes

First teased over a year ago, SUPER73 is finally ready to release its K1D lineup of kids balance bikes.

According to the company, these little two-wheelers feature a design that was influenced by 80’s BMX and Motocross culture. They offer a 60-minute play time thanks to the battery and tiny electric motor.

That little battery uses LiFePO4 cells, which are virtually fireproof and also offer over double the lifespan. That means your kid will all but certainly outgrow the bike long before the battery would ever need to be replaced.

In another nod to safety, the K1D features regenerative braking to offer stronger stops and recharge the battery at the same time. A low and medium power mode selector lets young riders slowly develop their skills, while a third “Track Mode” can be unlocked by a parent for the highest power level.

Crewse boasts about the tiny bike’s safety and performance-based design:

“The technological advancements in the K1D youth series balance bike is groundbreaking from a safety, performance, and durability standpoint. We’re excited to announce the highly anticipated product has officially arrived. At SUPER73, we’re focused on driving the technology of our products forward, while making it fun and safe for our customers. The launch of K1D provides us with an entirely new customer base of young, aspiring riders and we’re thrilled to be leading the charge in our industry.”

The K1D is priced at $1,295 and will begin shipping in June.

SUEPR73 C1X electric motorcycle to feature super fast charging

We’ve heard a lot about faster charging for electric motorcycles lately, and it sounds like SUPER73 is eyeing the top prize for quickly juicing up.

So far we’ve known that the bike would feature highway-capable speeds and a city range of around 100 miles (160 km). But now we’re getting new info about the expected charging times, and they’re quite impressive.

According to the company, the C1X should be able to charge from 10% to 80% in only 15 minutes, which will give riders about 70 miles (112 km) of range in little more time than it took to read this article.

The new technology and its integration into the bike was made possible thanks to SUPER73’s efforts to hire a team of engineers with backgrounds in top tier EV manufacturing, aerospace mechanics, and consumer electronics.

As Crewse added:

“I’m incredibly proud of the dedication our team has shown in order to bring the C1X to life. The secret behind our innovation is the belief that the user experience should always serve as the guiding principle behind everything we create, and our electric motorcycle is no exception. This year, we’ve set out to prove that you don’t need to break the bank in order to take advantage of cutting-edge technology. Our riders can now enjoy the benefits of fast charging in a more accessible and approachable package with the C1X.”

The C1X’s development will continue through this year, with the company hoping to deliver the first production units in 2024. Upon its release, the C1X will likely challenge recently released or upcoming light electric motorcycles like the SONDORS Metacycle, Ryvid Anthem and CSC RX1E.

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ICE car values plummet in China and it is the canary in the coal mine




ICE car values plummet in China and it is the canary in the coal mine

A looming crisis is brewing in China, as hundreds of thousands of unsold, polluting gas-powered vehicles may be rendered unsellable due to incoming emissions rules. It’s another sign that the global auto industry isn’t ready for the shift to EVs and will be caught unawares if it doesn’t ramp EV production fast enough.

The new Chinese emissions rules were announced all the way back in 2016 and are set to go into effect in July. This gave automakers almost seven full years of notice to get it together and prepare to produce and sell less-polluting vehicles, more than enough time to bring a new model fully from original conception to production.

The rules don’t ban all gas cars, but they do set stricter emissions standards on several pollutants released by internal combustion vehicles. Carbon monoxide, Nitrogen oxide, particulates, and other pollutants must all be reduced by a half or a third.

Automakers seem to have planned to continue selling polluting vehicles up until the deadline, but then COVID hit. This affected the production of vehicles but also affected purchases. Auto sales dropped, and while sales have started to recover somewhat, most of that recovery has been in EV sales, while ICE sales are still depressed.

Dealership foot traffic is high, but customers simply aren’t buying. This has left dealers with a huge glut of polluting vehicles and a ticking clock that will make them unsellable in July.

China was originally somewhat slow to adopt EVs – in 2015, EV market share was less than .84%, similar to the US market share of .66% and well below California at 3.1% at the time. But in 2022, US market share had risen to only 7.2% and California to 18.7%, whereas China’s EV market share is now a whopping 30%, leapfrogging several countries in the process. So China was a little late at the start but has advanced much more quickly in recent years, catching companies by surprise.

As a result, dealers have been offering massive discounts on polluting inventory vehicles, but this hasn’t been enough. Even the government has stepped in, with provincial governments adding additional subsidies to reduce the price of locally-produced vehicles.

Rapidly dropping prices have resulted in a “wait-and-see” attitude among Chinese buyers. Given that prices are already falling, customers think that they can wait longer and that these prices will fall even further.

Given the dealers and manufacturers are confronted with a situation where their cars will soon become valueless and that there simply aren’t enough customers interested in buying the number of cars they have in inventory, any price they can get for the cars that’s greater than zero may be worthwhile come July.

But the problem most harshly affects foreign automakers in China. Chinese companies have been faster to adopt EVs than foreign ones, so automakers from Europe, Japan, and the US will be most affected by this glut of vehicles. Sales from Chinese brands are flat year-over-year, but sales from US brands are down 12%. German and Korean brands are down 22%, and Japanese and French brands are down more than 40%.

China’s car dealership associations are scrambling for a fix. The China Auto Dealers Chamber of Commerce (CADCC) asked that the emissions rules be delayed six months, until January 1, to help clear the backlog. This is not an unexpected request from a Chamber of Commerce – organizations which so often take the side of polluters over people – but the CADCC also requested that automakers stop production of new cars that don’t meet the upcoming standards immediately, rather than continuing their production plans up until July.

But that’s just China – the same will happen around the globe

China’s turnaround on EV adoption may be an exceptional case. It has gone from a relative laggard to one of the global leaders and now stands only behind Northern Europe in current EV market share. The timing of COVID, the rapid shift to EVs, and new emissions rules have created somewhat of a perfect storm in the country.

But make no mistake – similar trends will play out elsewhere in the world in the coming years, and many automakers simply are not ready.

It takes time to design, build, and distribute vehicles, as these companies know well. But the inability to project trends seven years into the future will prove to be the downfall of laggard companies that don’t take EVs seriously.

I don’t say this in an attempt to function as some sort of oracle of the automotive industry, but from simple observation of events happening now.

We’ve seen other regions shift to EVs faster than expected. Even Norway, long known to be a standout in EV adoption, has taken many by surprise. The country planned to end gas car sales in 2025, but it’s already basically there. This has resulted in some brands hastily withdrawing their gas cars from the Norwegian market – Hyundai only gave a few days of notice that they would stop selling gas cars in the country at the start of this year.

This sort of thing is possible in a country that’s part of a large economic bloc where cars can be shifted around to other nations, but when the entire bloc goes electric, what then? We get a situation like China’s, with stranded vehicles that may end up being worth nothing or close to it.

We’ve also seen some drivers, not even high-mileage ones, realize that renting, fueling, and maintaining an EV is cheaper than the continued running costs of using a paid-for gas car. When that happens, the value of the gas car is effectively zero – it’s worse to continue driving it than it is to get a whole new EV.

It doesn’t take much to see that these trends could result in a full-on “bank run” to abandon gas cars and buy EVs, depending on how unbalanced the supply-demand equation becomes.

Tesla as a case study

Tesla started selling cars in 2008, and 100% of those cars were electric. But it only really got into “mass production” in 2012-2014 with the Model S. At the time, one could look at a chart of sales trends of the Model S versus competing models like the BMW 7-series, Mercedes E- and S-class, Lexus and Audi offerings, etc., and see a strange dip in all of them which coincided with the rise of Model S sales. Tesla wasn’t creating a new market, it was eating the market that existed – and fast.

And these trends continued with other models. It was clear that EVs – as long as they were designed to take advantage of the inherent benefits of electric drive and sold with purpose rather than as compliance vehicles – were going to take market share from gas cars.

The company making these moves loudly proclaimed that in order to make EVs work, one needed to ensure that they had enough batteries to manufacture these cars, enough dealers who cared to sell and knew how to sell these cars, and a suitable charging network for owners to get around in a transparent manner. So it did those things. All around a decade ago.

This wasn’t a secret; other automakers could see it happening. I had this discussion with executives from various automakers around the mid-2010s, many of whom saw it happening but couldn’t get their organizations to act with proper urgency. Meanwhile, most of them thought that they would easily overtake the newcomer with their superior manufacturing expertise – with VW famously claiming they’d reach that point by 2018 (spoiler alert: they still haven’t).

And now, we’re still hearing CEOs say that “batteries are the constraint,” while Tesla outsells every other brand’s EVs combined, twice over, in its home country. Tesla also happens to have a battery factory that broke ground nearly ten years ago now, while some manufacturers are just starting to break ground or announce investments this year.

This is not even a case of Tesla being uniquely right in these prognostications. It is the pure EV company that started first (which is to say, the only one that started at the right time), had enough funding to get off the ground in time (a difficult task), and was confronted with a blue ocean, a market that refused to build EVs in any significant number.

Tesla thus became essentially the only game in town. People want EVs, and everyone else just isn’t bothering to make them yet. This didn’t need to be inevitable. This happened due to intransigence from the major players in the industry. And this case study shows that it was not impossible to see these signs coming, nor impossible to act on them. Other automakers just…. didn’t.

The signs were there from the start

We, the EV faithful, have been trying to shout this from the mountaintops since the beginning. In fact, Electrek exists largely because of this tweet from our publisher Seth Weintraub, ten years ago this year:

We’re a few months out from Seth’s deadline, and look at what’s happening in China. In the next three months, potentially hundreds of thousands of cars are under threat of becoming valueless because they don’t meet the emissions guidelines that were announced long ago. Buyers could buy them now for a song but still aren’t interested.

In 2018, we saw the same thought make its way into “mainstream” car media when WSJ’s Dan Neil said the same. That was five years ago now, and even then he said that he would be stupid to buy a gas car at the time, because by the time he was ready to sell that car, ICE car values would likely drop to zero.

Meanwhile, the EV deals of the past (which we catalog here on Electrek) have largely dried up (well, except for the Chevy Bolt, which is a screaming deal). Automakers don’t need to give deals on EVs – everyone wants them. They’re going to sell out regardless. Heck, you can barely even find one for MSRP these days.

This mismatch of supply and demand is because automakers have consistently underestimated EV demand for a decade now. We heard for so long that the demand wasn’t there, and all of a sudden, now we’re hearing the opposite. But if you wait to react until after the demand is too high for you to fulfill, you’ll still have years worth of prep to do before being able to meet that demand.

At this point, it could be too late already for some automakers. Even the largest on Earth, Toyota, seems likely to suffer from their obstinacy (along with other Japanese automakers and perhaps the entire country of Japan). Toyota’s new CEO, Koji Sato, has given some indications that he wants to turn things around, but it’s very late in the game already.

And going back to China, this is part of what the China Automobile Circulation Association warned about in a March 24 note. It recognized that auto manufacturers got demand drastically wrong and that those companies’ underestimation of EV popularity is what has led to this situation. It called on all levels of the auto industry – government, manufacturing, and dealerships – to shape up and embrace change in a way that these entities have not yet done.

We need to see the same in the rest of the world, lest the same fate happen elsewhere. You’ve been warned.

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Weird Alibaba: An inflatable Chinese electric jet ski for $2,000 – What’s the catch?




Weird Alibaba: An inflatable Chinese electric jet ski for ,000 - What's the catch?

As usual for entries in this Awesomely Weird Alibaba Electric Vehicle of the Week column, the fun EVs we dredge up tend to bridge the gap between fun-looking and palm sweat-inducing. Would you take a cheap inflatable electric jet ski out into the bay or off the coast? What if I told you that you had to build it yourself?

That appears to be the case here with this week’s find. It’s an inflatable vessel that is jet ski shaped, though I’m not sure it fulfills all of the requirements to become a jet ski – namely the water jet turbine.

In fact, there’s actually no motor at all. It seems to be just the 3.5 meter (11 ft) boat itself, but at least it comes with a convenient transom in back to mount your own motor.

And in our case, we can slap on an electric outboard to turn this thing into not just a bad idea on water, but a green bad idea on water.

If you really wanted to stay true to the advertising, you could actually get an electrically powered jet ski-style water turbine to add to this boat. Amazon can hook you up with an impressive offering that looks like it would require cutting an inlet hole in the bottom of the boat and an exit somewhere through the rear transom.

Short of building a true jet ski though, I think an overpowered trolling motor will probably suffice. The vendor for the motor linked above seems to propose that is equivalent to 10 hp, which sounds reasonable for a small watercraft like this.

Technically the motor is only rated at 2.2 kW, which is around 3 hp. But we generally find that small electric outboards offer performance of around 3x the rated power of combustion engine outboards due to their much higher torque. It may not rip as fast as the larger gas engine below, but then again maybe it will. Who knows until we find out ourselves?!

You’ll need a whopping 60V of battery for that awesome little electric outboard, which I’m hoping will fit either under the seat or under the “hood” of the jet ski.

I’d actually be pretty interested to get a look under that hood to see what’s going on with that steering wheel. Since the jet ski/inflatable boat seems to be set up for a transom-mounted trolling motor, I don’t know how they expect to tie in steering linkage to something like that.

But my past experience of buying electric boats on Alibaba has taught me to never discount the ingenuity of East Asian engineers building low-cost vehicles that will presumably hold the life of one or more people in their hands.

chinese electric jet ski

One thing is for sure: At around $2k, this will definitely be the cheapest new jet ski you could buy, electric or otherwise. Personal watercraft aren’t cheap, and the electric ones carry a significant premium.

But if you’re handy, don’t mind wiring up a motor and battery yourself, and also don’t mind a steering wheel for show while you twist around to control a tiller motor, then you just might wind up with one of the most unique vessels on your local lake or river.

And consider the ease of transport! You probably don’t even need a trailer like you would for a traditional jet ski. The entire thing weighs just 176 kg (388 lb), though the spec sheet also says it is made from fiberglass, so perhaps the data isn’t quite accurate. Either way, this inflatable vessel can’t weigh too much. And the fact that you can deflate it to fit in the back of a van or SUV is a big benefit too. Or you can just leave it inflated and probably fit it in a truck with the tail gate down. Not my mini-truck, but maybe your truck.

At $2,025 for this thing, it’s pretty darn cheap – though that’s before the cost of batteries and a motor. Don’t forget though that there’d be several thousand dollars in shipping costs, customs import charges, taxes, broker fees, etc. Also, don’t forget that you should absolutely not buy this thing. While I’ve picked up some cool and weird little EVs from Alibaba over the years, it’s never a good idea. The process is long and complicated, not to mention fraught with extra charges at every step of the way. And you never know if the company who just received your wire transfer is even going to deliver your product in the end, which is just another fun little stressor that comes with shopping on Alibaba. So please, don’t join the ranks of my foolish readers and risk your hard earned money on something weird like this.

But if you ignore my warnings and decide to go for it, be sure to let me know what happened! And maybe update your will before the maiden voyage.

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