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Three brothers are attempting to break two Guinness World records while raising awareness for EVs and funds for Boys & Girls Clubs by traveling 18,000 miles to 30 Major League Baseball stadiums and watching a full game, all within just 28 days. Two of the brothers, Steve and Dave Ahart will complete the adventure in a Tesla Model 3 with Mike Ahart providing support. The Ahart’s hope to break the World records for “Fastest Time to Visit all Major League Baseball Stadiums” and “Longest Journey by Electric Vehicle (non-solar).” They further aim to get 10,000 people to pledge to take their first EV test drive and raise $1.2 million in total for the Boys & Girls Clubs chapters in each of the MLB cities they visit. Please support their cause at the epicevroadtrip.com.
Germany’s Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, Peter Altmaier, on Monday, lashed out at the local auto sector for their reluctance to commit to investing their efforts in EVs. Minister Altmaier warned the countries large automakers which include BMW, Daimler, and the VW Group that they will be left behind by international competitors. Altmaier demanded automakers to except that electric vehicles are the future and implement reforms to set the course for an environmentally-friendly future of mobility. This is not the first time that German politicians spoke out against their sector, in August 2017 (Top 5 EV News Week 33/2017) German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that she doubted if German automakers were sufficiently innovative enough to progress the electric vehicle technology. Altmaier stopped short though of calling for a ban on diesel vehicles. A recent ruling by German courts gave cities the right to introduce driving bans on diesel vehicles.
In related news, coinciding with a visit by President Xi Jinping’s to the resort island of Hainan the Xinhua News Agency reported that China would use the island as a test case by being the first to ban the sale of fossil-fuel vehicles. No timeline was given in the report, but it read that China will control the number of vehicles in Hainan in “a scientific way.” The move follows on this weeks announcement by the Chinese Government it will remove the cap on foreign ownership on auto companies. EV producers gained the advantage as the rule will apply to them from this year while commercial vehicle manufacturers will follow in 2020 and passenger vehicle makers only in 2022.
Honda announced that it would hold the world-premiere of a new concept electric car at the upcoming Beijing Auto Show this week. Honda states the car is developed exclusively for the Chinese market and that a production version is to build in the country by the end of the year.
Toyota will present plug-in hybrid versions of the Toyota Corolla and Toyota Levein in Beijing. The two sedan models are also exclusive to the Chinese market and will hit the road in 2019. Both Honda and Toyota announced publically that they do not believe the EV revolution will hold, focussing their efforts more on fuel cell electric vehicles.
Buick unveiled the Velite 6 PHEV and BEV and the Enspire EV Concept this week. The three cars will be on show at the Beijing Auto Show this week. Buick announced that the Velite 6 PHEV will be available for China only later this year while it still has to decide on a release date for the Velite 6 EV. For specs and more info follow the link.
BMW teased the BMW iX3 SUV in a Twitter campaign this week. BMW will unveil the first model in its altered EV strategy at the Auto China Beijing 2018 on the 25th of April. BMW is moving away from a dedicated EV series, the i-series, to having model ranges now include all drive types. The BMW iX3 SUV PHEV and BEV is undergoing testing currently and will be available in 2019.
Chinese EV start-up SiTech unveiled the first of its range of connected EVs, the DEV1, this week. The DEV1 offers an impressive range and lots of tech at a low price. Like most new Chinese EVs of late, the DEV1 also comes with face recognition for keyless entry. The car will be presented in Beijing this week.
BYD announced the unveiling of its new electric concept at Auto China, the E-SEED at Auto China Beijing 2018.
It’s clear that the Chinese Governments aggressive policy to support the adoption of EVs is paying dividends, and the rest of the world can jealously look on as all their favorite brand’s launch models exclusively for the Chinese market.
The Indian multi-national company Mahindra-Mahindra and Italian based Pininfarina announced the creation of the worlds newest luxury brand called Automobili Pininfarina. The company will be based in Europe and specialize in the development of luxury electrified vehicles. Mahindra, which currently lies second in the Formula E championship will combine its technical experience with the legendary automotive design prowess of the Italian company. The new brand will launch its first vehicle, an electric hypercar in 2020.
Automobili Pininfarina will be led by Michael Perschke, as its Chief Executive Officer. Michael brings with him over 25 years of experience with premium German brands at both headquarter director-level as well as in various market roles. He was the Managing Director of Audi in India and a member of the Management Board of Volkswagen Group Sales India, from 2010 to 2013. Michael will play an instrumental role in developing the strategy for Automobili Pininfarina. He will be joined by Per Svantesson as Chief Operating Officer. Per brings with him relevant experience including his stints with the Volvo Group and NEVS.
Recently Chinese deputy minister of Industry, Xin Guobin, warned the country risks falling behind in the autonomous vehicle sector. Up to now, guidelines are fragmented with individual companies like Baidu gaining approval to test vehicles while cities such as Beijing and Shanghai embarked on issuing local guidelines for self-driving tests. In this light the Chinese authorities this week laid out national guidelines for the testing of autonomous vehicles on public roads. According to the guidelines the no vehicle is allowed to be tested on public roads without being tested in non-public tracks. Once authorized vehicles will only be allowed to be tested on designated roads, and a test driver must at all times be behind the wheel. The minister also indicated that technologies required for autonomous driving such as 5G communication and intelligent roads should also receive attention.
According to an Autonews report Nissan and DeNa, a Japanese gaming company, plans to join forces in the development of self-driving taxi early in the next decade. In a previous article, we reported on the two companies running a test program on a 4.5km public road in Tokoyo.
Alibaba confirmed to China Daily that it is working on a Level 4 autonomous driving capable system, joining its local internet giants Tencent and Baidu and internationally Google. According to a McKinsey report, self-driving cars in China has the potential to become a $500 billion market.
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This week saw the announcement of four new EV models by Audi, DS Auto, Tata Motors and Hyundai. The four brands will release electrified versions of existing model ranges as they rush to enter the market.
Audi announced its intentions to launch an electrified version of the Q2 SUV for the Chinese market. The Q2 will compete with the BMW Brilliance X1 which is also specifically produced for the Chinese EV market.
PSA Group’s luxury brand DS announced that it will release an all-electric vehicle or PHEV every year from 2019 starting with the DS7 Crossback. In other news, PSA Group and Changan deepened their relationship in China with the intent to jointly develop electric vehicles in a similar fashion as the VW JAC JV announced earlier this month.
Tata Motors will enter the India market with an electric version of the Tata Tiago hatchback. The Tiago will be Tata’s first production EV. In 2015 the market speculated that the Indian company was to bring the Tata Megapixel to market in 2016 as its first EV but market conditions did not favor EVs at the time. The Indian Government has since embarked on a drive to change to 100% EV in 2030.
Hyundai revealed its latest EV, an electric version of the Hyundai Kona SUV. The car is expected to reach the market late 2018 and will be unveiled at the Frankfort Auto Show in September 2017. Although no specifics has been revealed the Kona is expected to have a range of 217 miles from a 50kWh battery and will be priced below $40,000. In related news, the Korean company announced that it will increase production of the popular Hyundai Ioniq with 50%.
Tesla, now the 4th largest automaker in the world by market cap, has been in talks with the Indian Government to establish production facilities in the Asian country. Tesla CEO Elon Musk provided further incites in the company’s plans for entering the potential growth market by tweeting “In discussions with the government of India requesting temporary relief on import penalties/restrictions until a local factory is built.”
Tesla shares this week reached our target of $380 as per my forecast in Week 20, I hope you took advantage of the opportunity.
In Week 22 we reported on concessions agreed between the German Chancellor and Chinese Premier to delay strict ZEV type mandates to allow German automakers some breathing space. This week the Chinese Legislative Affairs Office published draft legislation ignoring the concessions. The proposed legislation will require automakers to sell new energy vehicles equivalent to 8% of total sales in2018, increasing by 2% annually to reach 12% by 2020. Chinese lawmakers and the Calfornia Resource Board met in China last week to expand cooperation on accelerating the deployment of zero-emission vehicles. The delegation also included officials from Chinese vehicle and battery manufacturers such as BYD, BAIC, Great Wall, Geely, Dongfeng, Yangtze Motors and a half dozen other vehicle and battery companies.
EV sales data for May 2017 published this week included data for Germany and China. I will do a complete breakdown of the sales again next month when June figures will allow me to do a deep dive at the halfway mark for the year. Headline data from Germany and China are as follows:
Germany: EV Sales keep powering ahead EV sales now nearly double that of the same period 2016. Total sales for the year to date stands at just over 17,000 units compared to 8,800 at May 2016. May 2017 EV sales in Germany was nearly treble that of May 2016 as 3,754 EV were added to the fleet compared to only 1,392 units in May 2016.
China: Chinese EV sales are recovering at a decent pace. EV sales in May showed a continuation of the trend started in March 2017. Chinese EV sales are now more than 50% higher than the same period a year ago. May EV sales of over 40,000 units bring the year-to-date sales to 134,000 units. Smaller cars like the Zhidou D2 and BAIC E180 still rules the roost. The new Chery eQ1 has also made the Top 20 list for the month.
GM announced this week that it completed the equipment of 130 Chevrolet Bolt EVs with its next generation of self-driving technology. The vehicles will be added to its fleet of 50 current generation Bolt EVs testing the autonomous technology on public roads in San Francisco Scottsdale and Detroit. The company reported that the new generation technology features GM’s latest array of equipment, including LIDAR, cameras, sensors and other hardware designed to accelerate development of a safe and reliable fully autonomous vehicle.
In related news the California DMV permitted self-driving truck start-up, TuSimple, to test its artificial intelligence (AI)-based Level 4 autonomous driving system on 420-miles of public roads from San Diego to Tucson in Arizona.
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.
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.
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.
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.