Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories Week 11 2017

Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories Week 11 2017

ONE

Detractors of EV startups might claim press releases for intentional models potentially available two to three years down the line, such as the FF91, Lucid Air and lately the NIO EVE, means nothing until they are brought to production. But hell man, isn’t it just inspirational to see these companies trying to push the envelope of imagination, technology, risk financing and the stale products beautified by big auto’s marketing departments? It makes the heart swell and brings tears to your eyes (at least mine). This week at its world premiere event at the SXSW event Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories Week 11 2017in Austin Texas NextEV unveiled its vision for its Level 4 Automated NIO EVE for the USA market in 2020. The brain and heart behind the NIO EVE are Nomi, the driver companion through autonomy and artificial intelligence. NIO USA partnered with Mobileye, NVIDIA, and NXP to bring its vision to life.

Along with the release of the NIO EVE, U.S. CEO Padmasree Warrior showed a video of the NIO EP9 completing the first historical feat of racing around the America‘s Track in Austin Texas without a driver, reaching a top speed of 160mph. The vehicle also broke a lap record with a driver.

The release was not without its controversy as competitor; Faraday Future claims the design stole from its own FF91 released at the CES 2017 in Las Vegas earlier the year.

TWO

Lucid Motors this week placed a shot across the bow of luxury automakers such as Volvo, Audi, Mercedes, BMW and even Tesla by announcing the pricing for the Lucid Air. The San-Francisco based startup introduced a starting price for the base model at $60,000 before Federal and State incentives. Read wattEV2Buy’s blog post on the press release to see what is included in the competitive pricing.

THREE

President Donald Trump may be a good thing for electric vehicles. In the same week as the President acted to review the emission standards set by the EPA on automakers, as a sign of defiance as much as 30 US cities jointly asked automakers indications on providing 114,000 electric vehicles. Bloomberg reported that the move, coordinated by Los Angeles mayor, Eric Garcetti, requested vehicles which included police cars, street sweepers, and trash haulers to prove the demand for EV’s. The move by President Trump was part an election promise and part a request by Big Auto to slow the march of electric vehicles which caught them unawares. Big Auto in a letter to President Trump, claimed the demand for electric vehicles were not sufficient enough to justify the EPA emission standard. It has become a national past time to defy the new President. wattEV2Buy first reported on the attack on electric vehicles in a blog post, called controversial by some, on the 1st of March.

FOUR

Intel acquired the Israeli autopilot company, Mobileye for an incredible $15.3 billion. Mobileye partnered with Tesla on its first generation Autopilot but had a very public fallout round about the time of the first fatal crash in a Tesla Model S using Autopilot. At the time the CEO of Mobileye criticized Elon Musk for being too aggressive with the implementation of autonomous systems.

FIVE

Tesla retires its Model S P60 while the company raises $1.4billion to fund the manufacturing of the Model 3. Tesla announced this week that it would retire the 60kWh battery and upgrade all existing orders to the 75kWh model. Filings with the SEC showed the capital raising for the Tesla Model 3 was done through a stock sale for $350 million at a price of $262 per share. The balance of $850 million was raised through the issue of convertible notes.

Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories Week 10 2017

Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories Week 10 2017

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ONE

Bloomberg printed an article this week named “The Electric Car Rush Started Too Early” following BMW‘s release of its financial statements, showing a profit margin of only 8.9%, which was the lowest since 2010.  The reason for the pressure on some automakers bottom line is the heavy investment required in research and development for the strategy shift towards new mobility trends, including autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles, connected (focus on secure), and shared mobility options. In BMWs case, the investment so far is $4.3 billion. The article also criticized EV’s real environmental cost by the hand of a graph (below) from the website shrinkthatfootprint.com showing that EV’s carbon emissions, when charged from coal, can be as much as four times higher than when charged from green sources such as hydro and other renewables.

TWO

Next EV‘s CEO announced this week that it plans to commercially launch an affordable Level 4 Autonomous electric vehicle in the USA by 2020. The model will be released under the company’s newly minted NIO brand. NIO is partnering with Israeli Mobileeye (camera-based autonomous systems), Nvidia (AI chip) and NXP semiconductors on the autonomous system.

THREE

The Mercedes parent, Daimler AG invested in ChargePoint, the operator of a network of charging stations. The investment is in line with the German automakers push into electric vehicles.

Another significant investment this week was by the Shanghai Listed Far East Smarter Energy Group in the UK based Detroit Electric. The investment totaling £1.5 billion will eventually lead to the creation of 400 jobs at the company’s Leamington Spa facility for the production of its SP:01 EV.

FOUR

Although light on new commercial electric vehicles the Geneva Motor Show this week offered some great eye candy in the form of new concept vehicles, which included:

Nissan announced the unveiling of the new version of its popular Leaf EV expected in September, with commercial sales shortly after that. The Leaf is expected to have a range of 200 miles and some autonomous driving ability through its ProPilot system.

Techrules from China unveiled their four wheels three seater production sportscar, the Techrules REn, which features range extender technology.

FIVE

On the regulatory front. In the east a ministerial meeting was called in India, chaired by the finance ministry to setting standards for the country’s electric vehicle future. In the west, the British Budget failed to give anything new to the electric vehicle sector. Some market observers expected guidance on emissions and carbon taxes. Chancellor Hammond did, however, confirm £270 for EV’s AI and robotics.

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Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories Week 9 2017

Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories Week 9 2017

ONE

An article by OilPrice.com based on BP’s long-term energy outlook claims the electric vehicle car threat to the oil industry is overstated and a red herring for investors and other observers. The article cast doubt on if the achievability of a target of a 100 million electric vehicles by 2030, especially in a Trump era. Nonetheless, BP’s forecast still sees only a marginal effect of only 1.2 million barrels per day on oil demand if the target of around 7% EV’s by 2030 is reached. The article concludes that a bigger unknown to oil demand gains in fuel efficiencies, largely driven by more stringent emission targets.

TWO

Rumors about Apple’s secretive iCar named Project Titan has been circulating. MacWorld.co.uk speculated this week that Apple, the world’s most valuable company, has set itself a deadline of late 2017 to prove feasibility for a vehicle to rival Tesla.

THREE

Some policy gains were made this week in support for electric vehicles in the ongoing tussle targeting regulations for and against the technology. New York will from the 1st of April 2017 provide a $2,000 incentive to buyers of electric vehicles. In Wyoming, despite efforts by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers backed by Ford and GM to block Tesla from opening its direct sales business, the State Legislature this week approved a bill allowing Tesla to open its showrooms and sell vehicle’s without the use a middle man.

FOUR

Honda is setting itself up for failure with this week’s announcement that the much anticipated mid-sized 2018 Honda Clarity EV will only have an 80-mile range. Despite being a mid-size sedan, with the obvious space benefit it brings, the car will not even compete with smaller compact sedans and hatchbacks, such as the 2017 BMW i3 (114 miles), Nissan Leaf (107 miles) and the VW e-Golf (125 miles). The Honda Clarity EV’s direct competitors in the $30,000 to $35,000 price range, the Hyundai Ionic (124miles) and Tesla Model 3 (200 miles), will put it to shame.

FIVE

February Electric Vehicle sales data released for the USA this week reveals some interesting talking points. Overall, February sales gained a further 13.4% in January 2017 and over 55% on year on year basis. Contributors to the increase came from a nearly doubling in sales of the Tesla Model S and continued demand for the new Toyota Prius Plus. Unfortunately, the Prius in our books hardly counts as an electric vehicle due to its underwhelming continued reliance on its combustion engine. Disappointingly, sales for the Chevrolet Bolt declined over 18% from January, bringing total sales for the four months to 3,272 units, far short if one takes that at a claimed 30,000 units per annum the Bolt should have sold 10,000 units during the four months. In the car maker standings, GM retained its lead with 2,776 units over Tesla’s 2,550 units with Ford taking third place with 1,704 units.

Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories Week 8 2017

Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories Week 8 2017

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ONE

The disruption caused by the threat of electric vehicles is finally hitting home, and in no other week has pushback by the proxies of the affected parties been so prominent than the past week. The efforts to block the march of electric vehicles has reached new heights as old foes Big Corn, and Big Oil agreed to work together in defending the transportation fuel sector. Reuters reports the Renewable Fuel Association (AFR) and American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) will target electric vehicle incentives to “level” the playing fields. We hope the AFR and AFPM remember all the subsidies and support they received over the years to “level” the playing fields. 

In the USA report by the Sierra Club, a respected environmental association, reported on the drive by various States to penalize electric vehicle owners. The report speculates that the efforts, already successful in ten States and considered in a further six, is backed by the Oil Industry. Only four States have been successful in blocking the attack. Penalties in the form of fees varying between $50 and $300 per year are levied on drivers. In a separate effort, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers asked the newly Trump appointed Environmental Protection Agency Tsar, Scott Pruitt, to withdraw the Obama era agreed on 54.5MPG emissions benchmark required by 2025. The AAM’s reasoning is that achieving the standard is too costly and that the consumer’s demand is not there to support such a stringent rule. Really? Our question to the AAM is how can the consumer demand something if the supply of something else is stuffed down their throats?

In Hong Kong, a mainstay market for Tesla, the Financial Secretary in his budget announced that the 20-year-old tax incentive for first time EV registrations would be scrapped, and the tax discount on electric vehicles be capped at around $12,500. The result is that the cost of a Tesla Model S could nearly double in price. The move is in a bid to limit overall car ownership.

TWO

Following on the news three weeks ago that Scotland Yard would acquire electric vehicles for operational purposes the Swedish Police announced the testing of electric vehicles to phase out all fossil fuel use by 2030. Ten cars are tested in three cities in the country. The test would be to utilize the cars as administrative vehicles.

THREE


Porsche
will unveil a powerful Panamera E-HybridVarious auto manufacturers this week teased their hybrid and electric vehicle lineup for the Geneva Auto Show to be held from the 9th to 19th of March 2017. The vehicles include:

  • The Chinese start-up Techrules will unveil its Supercar, the GT96;
  • Toyota will reveal it’s I-Tril concept, speculated to be a three-wheel city vehicle; and
  • Renault is said to reveal a new electric vehicle

FOUR

Waymo filed papers aginst Uber for stealing its Lidar technology developed in its self-driving project. The case relates to a former employee, Anthony Levandowski downloading files from Google’s servers before joining the autonomous trucking company Otto, which was acquired by Uber in 2016.

FIVE

SEAT, the Volkswagen-owned auto manufacturer will display an electric vehicle prototype at this week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. The vehicle includes it’s Digital Access technology, replacing a key with a mobile phone. The first pilot will kick-off at its factory in Spain, using employees. Connectivity and the Internet of the Vehicle are bringing the world of mobile ever closer to the auto sector.

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Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories of Week 7 2017

Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories of Week 7 2017

ONE

The respected Economist Magazine this week commented on forecast adjustments by various investment houses for the penetration of electric vehicles. Up till last year, the consensus was that only 4% of new vehicles would be electric by 2025. BNP Paribas now forecast 11% penetration by 2025, while Morgan Stanley see’s a 7% penetration. In 2016 international EV sales increased with nearly 750,000 units (42%)  in spite of a low fuel price environment. One factor driving the change of heart are aggressive regulations to support environmental targets. In Norway electric vehicles now makes up 37% of new vehicle fleet amid government support while in China the Government aims to have EV’s make up 8% of new vehicles by 2018. Technology has also moved much faster than anticipated and battery cost, a long time stumbling block is coming down faster than anticipated, with some mega factories coming online within the next two years. Our hearts go out to the automakers that failed to notice the trend, RIP Fiat, Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, and the list goes on, not to mention Big Oil. 

TWO

This week Tesla CEO Elon Musk commented on the disruption of self-driving cars to the sector during the World Government Summit in Dubai. Mr. Musk was in Dubai for the launch of Tesla in the Emirates. His comments indicated that Tesla would have its first Level 4 Autonomous system available by the end of 2017. The disruption is significant to the auto sector since once a self-driving car is available, it will devalue new cars without the technology. According to Mr. Musk, the disruption will be slow initially but that in ten years from now all new cars will have the capability to be autonomous. It’s significant that Mr. Musk made the comments at a Government Summit as regulations, not technology seems to be the biggest hurdle at the moment. Will technology force the pace of Governments? We sincerely hope so.

THREE

Mercedes-Benz USA announces that Daimler will stop selling combustion based Smart ForFour and ForTwo models in the USA and Canada. The brand will focus on electric models only in a report by Reuters. 

FOUR

The Wall Street Journal reported on the Chinese Electric Vehicle market hitting a road block, with new electric vehicles sales down over 60% for January. China up till now has been the mainstay of the sector with sales increases in 2015 of 300% and 50% on top of that in 2016. The recent clampdown on corruption in the sector which led to a range of new regulations being forced on the Chinese market since December 30, 2016, is seen to be the reason for the sharp slowdown. The Wall Street Journal reported on fines of $150 million imposed on some companies in September 2016. The fines were as a result of subsidy fraud. The Chinese Government also indicated earlier the year that they want to increase barriers to entry and limit the market to around ten manufacturers, down from over 200 currently, in a bid to improve quality and safety of the end product.

FIVE

The 3rd event in the current series of the Formula-E electric vehicle street racing calendar held Buenos Aires Argentina ended yet again with a victorious Renault.eDams team. The e.Dams driver, Swiss-born Sebastian Buemi clinched his 3rd win of the series. The Brasilian Lucas Di Grassi’s 2nd position kept Audi’s ABT Schaeffler standings in the overall second position. The Chinese teams of Next EV and Techeeta were the only teams climbing the rankings, now lying 4th and 5th respectively. Newcomer Panasonic Jaguar has yet to score a single point in the 3rd season, with its drivers Evans and Carrol ending 18th and 19th.

Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories of Week 6 2017

Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories of Week 6 2017

ONE

California-based Lucid Motors this week released video footage of its winter testing of the Lucid Air, unveiled in December 2016. Lucid Motors, previously known as Atieva, is one of the more exciting electric vehicle brands to enter the sector in recent years and sports its own drive train and battery technologies. The automaker tested its prototype vehicle’s dynamics and breaking system in the sub-zero temperatures of Minnesota. The Lucid Air’s drive train handled the low friction surfaces consisting of packed snow and polished ice extremely well as evident from the video below.

TWO

The world’s fourth richest man, Carlos Slim of Mexico, announced this week that he would back the development of a Mexican-produced electric vehicle through his company, Giant Motors in a joint venture with Grupo Bimbo, the world’s largest bread maker. The strategy plays off in an environment where many US based automakers are contemplating bringing production back to the USA amidst President Trumps America First policy environment. Mr. Slim said the electric vehicle would be designed specifically for Mexican conditions. Giant Motor’s and Chinese JAC Motors also entered into an alliance to manufacture vehicles in Mexico’s Hidalgo province.

THREE

The Chicago Auto Show kicked off this week, sporting the highest number of electric vehicle technologies on display in the Show’s history. Vehicles on display include BMW’s i8the Mini Cooper Countryman PHEV, and Ford’s Fusion Energi PHEV. It’s wattEV2Buy’s observation though that with the lack of inspiring and game-changing technologies the Chicago Show underscore that Big Auto is still not getting boots and all behind the technology. Reading between the lines, we see big auto focusing more on autonomous vehicles than electric drive trains as it’s future strategy. 

FOUR

Volkswagen USA announced the creation of a unit to channel $2 billion into zero emission vehicle awareness programs and charging infrastructure over the next decade. The commitment forms part of the Group’s settlement in the diesel emission cheating case, but ultimately the move is also in support of the company’s bold strategy shift to focus on electric vehicle technology. The unit named Electrify America, based in Virginia and will oversee the installation of 500 charging stations and a pilot Green City program.

FIVE

Honda and Hitachi announced the formation of a joint venture to develop and produce electric motors for the electric vehicle sector. The tactic is part of Japan’s third-largest automaker strategy to have new energy vehicles as two-thirds of its production lineup by 2030.

Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories Week 5 2017

Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories Week 5 2017

ONE

Daimler and Uber announced a cooperation agreement where Daimler will introduce and operate self-driving cars on the Uber network. Uber abandoned efforts to build its own vehicle early on, rather focusing on partnering and acquiring technologies to achieve its goal of a self-driving fleet for its network. Uber acquired autonomous trucking company Otto in 2016 and made a successful delivery of a consignment of beer before being blocked by the California DMV.

TWO

Public opinion and consumer boycotts are driving the composition of President Donald Trumps advisory council with Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick this week resigning his seat on the council amid call to delete the Uber app. Some shortsighted Tesla owners are now also asking their deposits back for the Model 3 due to Elon Musk’s position on the council. Elon, this week in a tweet, explained that his position should not be seen as a support for Trumps policy’s but rather as an opportunity to influence the causes that Mr. Musk believes in, such as electric vehicles and his Mars project.

THREE

To support the new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan’s efforts to combat air pollution in the city the London Metropolitan Police Service, also know as Scotland Yard launched a new green fleet of over 250 new energy vehicles by the end of the year. Tesla and other automakers have been approached to trail their new energy vehicles for front line operations as part of the first phase, which would eventually see the overhaul of Scotland Yards fleet of 4000 vehicles.  

FOUR

 Faraday Future’s future remains a contradiction in terms as the company struggles to remain afloat. This week the company tried to allay fears about the future of its North Las Vegas plant. The company announced that construction would go ahead albeit on a much smaller scale in a phased approach. The new phased construction is in line with the company’s reduced model lineup down from 7 models to 2. The smaller lineup now only consist of the FF91 unveiled in January at the CES in Las Vegas and a crossover targeted at the Tesla Model X. It remains to be seen if the company can achieve its new goals amongst the challenges created by its financial position, including holding on to the necessary skills as the start-up keep on losing key executives.

FIVE

The California Department of Motor Vehicles released it’s 2016 Autonomous Vehicle Disengagement report this week. We reported earlier that a total of 20 companies were authorized to test the autonomous technology on the State’s public roads by the end of 2016. The Disengagement report reflects the number of events where a driver essentially has to take over from the vehicle’s autonomous mode to either prevent a traffic incident or where it fails. Alphabet’s autonomous vehicle program moved from Google to a stand-alone company Waymo, revealed its 2016 scoring in a blog post by it’s Head of self-driving technology. Waymo showed a marked improvement from its 2015 safety related disengages of 0.8 (341) disengages per 1000 miles to 0.2 (124) in 2016.

Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories Week 4 2017

Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories Week 4 2017

ONE

Off-course it is expected when Arnold Schwarzenegger buys an electric vehicle it will not be a Chevy Bolt, but damn the man knows how to get what he wants. The movie star turned politician unveiled his converted Mercedes Galant Wagen in Austria recently. The Kriesel converted G-Wagen SUV sports an 80kWh battery pack producing 482hp which accelerates the vehicle from 0 – 60mph in 5.6 seconds with an 185-mile range (296km).

TWO

The Chinese-owned NEVS, who acquired SAAB technology after the company filed for bankruptcy in 2012, announced this week that it received approval for its 200,000 unit plant in Tianjin. Earlier in 2015, the company declared that the Chinese Aerospace entity, Volinco, signed an intention to acquire 20,000 SAAB 9-3 sedans for its staff, in a transaction worth around $1 billion. The City of Tianjin is also a shareholder in National Electric Vehicles Sweden (NEVS).

THREE

Three Californian utilities put forward a $1 billion proposal to electrify the State’s transport system in a bid to reduce pollution and lower the barriers to entry for electric vehicles. The three utilities, Southern California Edison, PG&E, and SDG&E, expects the cost to be carried by customers. The proposals vary from supercharging networks to rebates and electrification projects for delivery vehicles. 

FOUR

Big Oil is noticing the rise of electric vehicles and is preparing themselves to profit from the sector in a move that will help the electric vehicle snowball accelerate. The Financial Times this week reported that Shell would introduce fast charging stations at various European petrol stations, while Total is similarly studying the viability of including charging stations. It seems downstream oil business has changed their tune from being deniers in 2016 to the adage of “if you can’t beat them join them.” 

FIVE

A barrier to the electric vehicle sector has long been auto dealers and one reason why Tesla chose a direct selling model. Now Audi, a Volkswagen company, and automaker who is also betting its future on electric vehicles told dealers to get behind the technology. Auto dealers are blocking the technology because less moving parts will lead to fewer service calls, taking away annuity income. The President of Audi America, in his keynote address to the National Automobile Dealers Association, told the audience that the industry would be entirely electric in 10 years and they have to change their business models to remain relevant.

Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories Week 3 2017

Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories Week 3 2017

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#1 – First EV to finish Dakar

An electric vehicle finished the grueling Dakar Rally in South America for the first time this week. The Acciona 100% EcoPowered rally car finished the 5,600 miles after the third attempt at the title. The team sponsored by Acciona, a Spanish Renewable Developer, has spent five years fine-tuning the vehicle which includes a 100-watt solar panel and Tesla battery pack. The Acciona 100% EcoPowered has a 200 km (125 miles) range in race conditions powering a 250kW electric motor providing 800nm of torque. The vehicle achieves a top speed of 150km/h (94mph).

#2 – More Bullionaires flock to EV sector

Bloomberg reported that the JSW Group’s owner and Chairman, Sajjan Jindal, announced in Davos, Switzerland his intention to enter the Indian Electric Vehicle market by 2020. The metals tycoon expects the Indian government, like many other governments, will promote EVs once it’s more affordable. Although India has some large automakers such as Tata and Mahindra, which is a contender in the Formula E Series, the country is significantly lagging its neighbor China, the world’s largest EV market. India had only around 6,000 electric vehicles registered at the end of 2015.

#3 – Tesla not to blame for fatal crash 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concluded its report on the fatal accident of a Model S in “autopilot” with a truck back in May 2016. The US NHTSA’s report exonerated the company and found no defect or reason for a recall. The agency’s findings collaborated the company’s claims at the time that the autopilot made driving safer, as it found that the crash rate of the Tesla decreased by 40% after introducing the Autopilot’s Autosteer feature.

The main conclusion of the report is:

  • Driver Assist Systems “require the continual and full attention of the driver to monitor the traffic environment and be prepared to take action to avoid crashes.”
  • Urges drivers to read all instructions and warnings before using the ADAS systems.
In other Tesla-related news, the company’s share price increased 4% after a Morgan Stanley report on sales for the anticipated release of the Model 3, putting some hurt on the big short positions entered in recent months against the company.

#4 – Panasonic extends partnership with Tesla

Panasonic announced it’s intention to extend it’s already a significant partnership with Tesla beyond just batteries, and in particular to autonomous technology such as sensors. The Japanese technology company’s strategy had changed markedly towards the auto sector after it’s initial partnership with the Tesla in the early 2000’s when the automaker was just a start-up.

#5 – EVs advancing at much greater pace than forecasted

A report just released by the Californian Air Resouces Board indicated that advancement in electric vehicle technology is happening at a much faster pace than anticipated five years back. The report highlights the efforts by Tesla and Chevrolet to bring affordable and long range vehicles to the market. The report found expanding charging networks, advancements in battery performance, decreasing cell costs, and the number of models available to the consumer as factors for the improved results. On the other hand, the Board states that not all automakers attack the challenges with the same vigor, with Honda and Fiat Chrysler named as company’s that just do the bare minimum to comply with regulations. We predict this will reflect in the various companies share prices five years from now when the next report takes the pulse of the sector.

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Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories of Week 2 2017

Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories of Week 2 2017

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#1 – DIY EVs gets a boost

Looking to develop your own electric vehicle? Yes, you can, with Italian OSVehicle’s modular platform providing an open source hardware platform from as little as $12,000. Add to that George Hotz’s self-driving car kit which he plans to market through his company comma.ai at a price of $1,000, and you can build your own “ai-chauffeur” driven zero emission vehicle. The ability to use open source technology will lower the barriers to entry for entrepreneurs and hobbyists alike, providing further disruption to the auto industry.

#2 – Tesla poaches from Apple

Tesla bags two senior executives from Apple. The world’s leading electric vehicle manufacturer this month acquired Chris Lattner, responsible for Apple’s Swift application software head, and Matt Casebolt, senior director of Design for Apple’s Mac range and listed on over 50 Apple patents. Matt is filling the position of Senior Director Engineering, Closures and Mechanisms at Tesla, while Chris’s experience in leading an over 200 strong engineering team would stand him in good stead as Vice President of Autopilot Software.

#3 – USA DOT creates Automation Committee

The USA Department of Transportation this week announced the formation of an Automation Committee to oversee its self-driving policy, with Tesla, a clear leader in the sector not on it. Self-driving vehicles and electric vehicles are not necessarily mutually inclusive as the technology could be applied to all drive trains. However, the appointment of GM CEO Mary Barra as Co-Chair of the committee could be a clear indication of which tail is wagging the dog. GM recently opposed the new EPA emission requirements of 54.5 mpg by 2025. Follow the link for the complete list.

#4 – FIAT on notice for cheating on emission tests

Another one bites the dust as the Environmental Protection Agency this week put FiatChrysler on notice for cheating on its emission tests. Diesel Gate might be the best own inflicted wound by big auto fighting electric vehicles, forcing big brands such as Volkswagen and Mitsubishi to change strategy from pushing back to embracing the technology. Now Fiat’s CEO, Sergio Marchionne, who has been a fervent EV hater might be forced out or to change his stance.

#5 – Renault adds to its EV model range

Renault this week announced two more additions to its electric vehicle model range, both light commercial vehicles. Renault is one of the few automakers in Europe to commit early on to electric vehicles with models such as the Renault ZOE and Twizy. The two new models will be an improved version of the Kangoo ZE delivery van and a full-size commercial van, the Master ZE. Both vehicles will have an improved 33kWh battery pack and 7kW AC Charger.

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Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories of Week 1 2017

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TOP EV NEWS #1 – FARADAY FUTURE UNVEILS FF91

Faraday Future unveils its FF91 at the CES 2017 in Las Vegas. The FF91 presented great gimmicks but Tesla Killer it ain’t. In all fairness, the company claims that the vehicle is a production model, but it yet has to deliver a single working version as the two cars presented to the media were only Beta versions. The company’s demonstration also went horribly wrong and removed the video of it and replaced it with an edited version. Fortunately the original has been downloaded by various media outlets for posterity. Follow the link for the alternative reality as opposed to the company’s reality below.

TOP EV NEWS #2 – FORD ELECTRIC VEHICLE STRATEGY

Ford’s electric vehicle program announced this week, although sounding impressive, falls short of delivering a punch for the sector. The company unveiled seven electrified models to reach the market in the next five years with a further six to follow. The automaker will also invest $700 million in upgrading their Michigan plant for electric and autonomous vehicle production, adding 700 direct new jobs. The press release clearly aims to impress President Donald Trump as the company also scuttled plans for a $1.6Bln plant in Mexico. The reason why we see Ford’s announcement as underwhelming is that the company is clearly just towing the line according to regulations since all the model’s bar one would be plug-in hybrid’s, a trend which has surely run its course. Die hard Ford enthusiast would be happy with PHEV versions of the Mustang, F-150, a hybrid autonomous model, two police vehicles and Transit Custom taxi/delivery van. The only Battery Electric Vehicle is a Small Utility with a range of 300 miles.

TOP EV NEWS #3 – 400kW CHARGING STATION

ChargePoint, a manufacturer of charging stations and adapters unveiled a water-cooled 400kW DC fast charger, the Expres Plus at the 2017 CES in Las Vegas this week. The Express Plus would be available from mid-2017 in both CCS and CHAdeMOstandards and would add 100 miles range in just 15 minutes. To put the significance in perspective automakers qualify ultra-fast chargers from 350kW and above, with Tesla‘s industry-leading supercharger being 145kW.

TOP EV NEWS #4 – KPMG GLOBAL AUTOMOTIVE EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

KPMG’s 2017 Global Automotive Executive Survey leaves us dumbfounded as an overwhelming number of executives still see Battery Electric Vehicles fail and Fuel Cells to be the real deal. The report, however, identifies Battery Electric Vehicles as the key trend up to 2025 as regulatory pressure pushes awareness of the technology. A telling figure though is that amongst downstream players, such as auto dealers, Battery Electric Vehicles are second only to connectivity and digitalization, again proving the reluctance of dealers to push the technology.

TOP EV NEWS #5 – NEW EV START-UP RIVIAN MOVES INTO PLANT

An Illinois-based start-up Rivian Automotive moves into old Mitsubishi plant which it closed with a full loss of employment opportunities to the Normal County in 2015. The newcomer hopes to invest $175 million in developing electric and autonomous vehicles which would create employment opportunities for 1,000 people. Rivian announced that it would unveil its first model later this year and start production in 2019.

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Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories of Week 52 2016

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TOP EV NEWS #1 – Ford debuts its autonomous vehicle

Ford debuted it’s next-generation Fusion Hybrid Autonomous development vehicle this week. The second generation of the vehicle sports more production ready controls and LiDar sensors on top of an improved computer hardware platform. Improved field of vision on the sensors allowed Ford to have only two sensors as opposed to four in the first generation. The second generation follows the first, introduced three years ago. The company aims to have an SAE Level 4-capable vehicle commercially available by 2021 for ride-hailing and sharing purposes. Ford will also expand its test fleet, currently operational only in California to its home state, Michigan.

TOP EV NEWS #2 – Lamborghini announces plans for PHEV

Lamborghini, a Volkswagen company, announced this week that it plans to include a PHEV version of its first SUV since the LM002, the Urus when its released in 2018. The auto manufacturer is also rumored to work on an all-electric vehicle, named the Vitola, which will use the Porsche Mission E platform.

TOP EV NEWS #3 – LeEco breaks ground for EV plant

The controversial LeEco announced the groundbreaking of its plant in the city of Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province China. LeEco is entwined between Faraday Future and the LeSee electric vehicle manufactured by LeEco. Both companies were founded by Chinese businessman Jia Yueting. Both businesses are known for making bold statements and big ticket announcements just to be followed by press reports of cash flow and funding problems. The announcement comes at a time when Faraday Future is battling to break ground on its plant in Northern Los Angeles. The company could not even pay the $21 million deposit to Aecon despite being offered $300 million by the local authorities for building the assembly plant there. LeEco has also partnered with Aston Martin on the RapidE, where it will help with the development of the zero emission technology. Faraday Future is said to hold the patents to the technology, but recent reports state that the technology is in fact held by a separate company in the Cayman Islands, creating insecurity for investors and borrowers..

TOP EV NEWS #4 – Missouri rejects Tesla license renewal

In another attack on Tesla by the old guard, as the State of Missouri rejected its dealership license renewal. The reason being a ruling by Circuit Judge Green in a case brought against the Missouri revenue department by the Missouri Auto Dealers Association for allowing the license in 2015. Tesla prefers to use a direct sales model due to the notorious inability of traditional dealers to sell electric vehicles. Tesla will be forced to close shop in the State come January the 1st 2017.

TOP EV NEWS #5 – A scramble for EV resources by miners

Miners are scrambling for “modern” resources such as lithium, nickel, and cobalt used in the electric vehicle manufacturing process. A reporter, Marcus Le Roux explored the various metals and their potential supply constraints and sources in the Australian. Most interestingly are the place which copper plays within the electric vehicle industry and the expectation that current lithium demand would rise from 16,500 to between 120,000 to 250,000 tons by 2025 to feed the 14 battery mega factories that are developed, mainly in China.

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Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories of Week 6 2017

Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories Week 49 2016

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#1 – FARADAY FUTURE TEASES AHEAD OF CES 2017

Faraday Future revealed several teasers of its Electric Vehicle in anticipation of its launch during the Computer and Electronics Show in Las Vegas early next year. The teasers posted on Instagram included darkened images of the rear and front of the vehicle, leaving much to the imagination. The teasers also included video’s of the masked vehicle in motion and racing a Bentley and Tesla. The company is keeping up appearances despite recent reports that cash flow issues are hampering the construction of its Las Vegas assembly plant.

#2 – Lucid Motors partners with Samsung SDI on battery tech

Lucid Motors, the newly branded automaker from Silicon Valley, previously know as Atieva, and Samsung SDI entered into a strategic partnership on creating a next generation lithium-ion battery cell, focussing on improving the energy density and lifespan associated with damage caused by fast charging. Lucid’s Director of Battery Technology, Dr. Alber Lui said: “I have been very pleased with the results of the collaboration with Samsung SDI in developing a cell chemistry that meets our stringent standards.”

#3 – Trump appoints “Enemy of EPA” to head it

President-elect Donald Trump this week appointed Scott Pruitt as the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new head. The appointment of a self-proclaimed enemy of the agency as its head is sparking fear in environmental circles, including the electric vehicle sector. Traditional automakers have already called for changes in the agency’s emissions targets. It seems however that the agency is fighting back with it fast tracking the filing of its midterm review before President Trump’s inauguration. The new standard calls for a fuel consumption limit of 54.5 MPG by 2025.

#4 – Possible EV from Chinese smartphone maker

Chinese Smart Phone maker, Xiaomi, also know as the “Apple of China” in a surprise move announced that it would unveil an electric vehicle on Monday the 12th of December. Speculation is rife on the type of electric vehicle that the company could launch, with most commentators believing it to be a scooter or Neighbourhood Electric Vehicle (NEV). It will not be the smartphone makers first electric vehicle, earlier this year the company unveiled an electric bicycle, the Mija Qicycle, a 250watt electric motor with a range of 45km (28miles).

#5 – BMW downbeat on EVs

Despite BMW’s reaffirming its strategy to pursue the development of electric vehicles at its September board meeting, the company remains downbeat on the sector. BMW’s Chief Financial Officer, Frederick Eichner, was quoted by Bloomberg saying “We’ve learned that people aren’t prepared to pay a higher price for an electric vehicle. I don’t see some kind of disruptive element coming from electric cars that would prompt sales to go up quickly in the next five to six years.”

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