Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories of Week 22 2017

Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories of Week 22 2017

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TOP EV NEWS #1 – USA EV Sales up 43% Y-t-D

EV sales in the USA are up 43% Year-to-Date after sales in May resulted in it being the second best month for electric cars for the year Usa-may-2017-brandsso far. May 2017 sales outperformed May 2016 with a 46% increase. The tussle between BEVs and PHEVs is to close to call as pure electric vehicles continue giving ground on the lead at had over PHEVs, with PHEVs outselling BEVs in May with 8,325 units vs. 8,243 pure electric vehicles which include the BMW i3 REx.

The best performing electric vehicle for the month was the Toyota Prius, dethroning the Chevrolet Bolt for the first time this year. The Tesla Model S also dropped out of the top 3, a rare occurrence, making way for its sibling, the Tesla Model X. The Hyundai Ionic and Chrysler Pacifica both climbed five or more positions for the year, with the Chevrolet Bolt increased its units sold with 21% on April but remaining in the 5th place overall for the year. The big losers for May 2017 were the Mercedes C350e, Audi A3 e-tron, and Ford Focus Electric.

The Top 3 brands remained the same as this time last year with Tesla, Chevrolet and Ford taking the top three positions. The rest of the brands had to make way for the rise of Toyota, taking the 4th place. Volvo gave up the most ground, falling from 9th to 12th spot.

Usa-ev sales may-2017

TOP EV NEWS #2 – Toyota confirms it sold its historical Tesla stake

Toyota confirmed this weekend that it divested from Tesla as it exited the co-operating agreement the companies had on electric vehicle technology. Toyota acquired 3.15% in Tesla in 2010 for $40.5 million, a stake which would have been worth $1.75 billion at Friday’s close. According to the Japan Times Toyota announced that the sale of the stake, which happened in trances between October 2014 and the end of 2016, is “a part of a regular review of business alliances.” The partnership resulted in the development of an electric Toyota RAV 4, which was abandoned as the company changed course away from EVs to hydrogen fuel cell technologies.

TOP EV NEWS #3 – INDIA targets 6 million plug-in vehicles by 2020

The Indian Government’s Department of Energy posted a blog in which it reiterates its ambition to only sell EVs by 2030 through its National Electric Mobility Mission Plan on which we reported on in Week 17. The Government’s plan set a target of between 6 and 7 million units by 2020 already, which seems overly ambitious as EV sales have yet to pick-up in the country. One if its largest automakers Mahindra and Mahindra last week announced that it only now plans to increase its battery production capacity from 500 units to 5,000 a month, a far cry from what should be needed if it wants to produce its fair share of 6 million units. The blog sees that EVs will reach parity with ICE vehicles by 2022. Bloomberg New Energy Finance in a report last week saw this only happening in 2025. Automakers such as Mahindra is reluctant to overly invest in EV manufacturing infrastructure while the prices of ICE cars remain cheaper than EVs in a country where the consumer is very price sensitive. The Indian Government is yet to definitively announce what financial contribution it will make towards achieving the goals, other than saying it acknowledges that it will need to carry the industry for the first three years.

TOP EV NEWS #4 – CHINA delays EV quota by a year

Chinese Premier, Li Keqiang, and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel met on Thursday to discuss various trade issues between the two countries, amongst others the impact of the China’s ZEV-like quota on German automaker’s expansion plans in the Asian country. The Chinese Government proposed that car manufacturer had to achieve a level of 8% EV sales by 2018. Although not confirmed Reuters on Friday reported that the Chinese Government agreed to delay the quota to 2019 for German companies but that they should ramp up EV deliveries at a later date.

TOP EV NEWS #5 – RUSSIAN Oil denounces EVs and Tesla

As the electric vehicle sales in neighboring Norway climbed 30% year-on-year for the month of May the CEO of Russia’s largest oil company, Rosneft PJSC, Igor Sechin denounced EVs as overrated. Mr. Sechin was quoted by Bloomberg during a speech at the St.Petersburg International Economic Forum saying Tesla is overvalued and EVs are “not as popular as had been expected” in Europe’s biggest economies. Mr. Sechin went further saying “The market’s assessment of the prospects of electric car producers, in our view, is significantly overestimated,” and that “Until the electric transport industry becomes as user-friendly and attractive for consumers as the cars with internal combustion engines, the prospects for electric vehicles remain largely uncertain.” Rosneft that had 2015 revenues of nearly $100 billion market value was clipped by that of Tesla at the end of May 2017. Tesla shares were up nearly 60% for the year while Rosneft was down 20%.

We acknowledge Donald Trump leaving the Paris Climate Pact but took a decision to rather report on other EV related stories of the week.

Interested in learning more about Chinese electric vehicles? Download our fun and easy app below, flick the China switch and swipe left the models you don’t like, right the ones you do, enter the chat rooms and share your thoughts with the community.

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My first date with an Electric Vehicle

My first date with an Electric Vehicle

My first date with an Electric Vehicle.

The big day has finally arrived for my first date with and Electric Vehicle. I am not sure if it is a good or bad thing that my first date with an EV is an award winning luxury model. Fosdick’s BMW provided me with a BMW i3 REx, the range extending version in the BMW i3 series. The REx has the same 22kWh battery as the BMW i3 (2016) EV but with a 647cc combustion engine providing 38hp fueled from a 12liter fuel tank, the same engine as in the BMW 650GT maxi-scooter. The usable battery capacity in the BMW i3 is 18.8kWh. But enough of the technical jargon lets focus on what really matters! The driving experience and making the mind shift to an EV.

One experiences the starkest difference between a “normal” combustion car and an EV the moment you start the engine. When you start the EV there is no sound at all, it is the weirdest experience, you feel uncertain if anything will happen should you step on the accelerator. A golf car makes more noise once you get going, however to all the petrol heads that jokingly refer to a BMW i3 as a glorified golf car I can certainly attest that it is not. If one must compare the driving experience at that level, it will be a Scalextric car. The BMW eDrive system provides powerful torque and the responsiveness is immediate from a standing start. Although with this type of driving you see your battery deplete very quickly. The driving experience is made even more direct thanks to the “one pedal feeling” that comes from a single pedal acting as both accelerator and brake. The low center of gravity provided by the heavy battery pack along the floor pan allows for superior handling.

One of the sales pitches that caught my ear was that there is no service required apart from tires and break changes, obviously with the caveat that the combustion engine in the REx needs servicing. If you consider that with the regenerative braking system much less breaking is required in traffic, resulting in longer lasting braking system.

The sales team was very knowledgeable and provided lots of detail on the car, but I would advise anyone that plans to purchase an EV to do their own homework also and ask relevant questions. For instance, does the package you purchase include fast charging, or is it optional? The BMW WallBox is also optional, BMW provides an assessment of your residents electrical system, which I will highly advise, but the WallBox comes with a high price tag. When I plugged the LV1 charger in my garage plug it tripped the electricity, after which I had to relay power from a plug point with higher amperage inside the house.

With the great tech included in the vehicle, the sales process is not just a “take the key and leave” affair. Connecting the vehicle to the BMW ConnectedDrive system unlocks a whole range of benefits and features. You can send reminders to buy milk or flowers from your laptop to your car or even active the horn, for what purpose I honestly don’t know. Back at my PC after showing the vehicle to some colleagues I was informed by the ConnectedDrive system that the passenger door was still unlocked. Comforts managed through the APP include Preconditioning, acclimatizing the vehicle for your preset departure time.

Through incorporating some gamification elements the APP measures your driving efficiency and compares it to the broader BMW i3 community, which leads to one’s natural competitive spirit kicking in, thereby successfully altering your bad driving habits. I actually ended up altering my route to suit the battery and become more efficient (I will explore battery management and increasing range in a separate post this week).

There are small technical things to take note of and get used to when driving the BMW i3 REx, like only being able to engage the range-extending mode once the battery’s state of charge (SOC) reaches 75%. A surprising thing is that you are not able to install a vehicle tracking system. However with all the connectedness I believe finding the car would be very much like “Find My iPhone”. Opening the fuel tank also requires a certain sequence due to the fire danger associated with the lithium batteries.

I can conclude that my first impressions of the BMW i3 and EV’s are lasting impressions, of the good kind. I already dread the day when I have to go back to a “normal” car. At least I can look forward to a couple of more days with the BMW i3.

 

Wynand Goosen

Wynand Goosen

Contributor

Wynand studied his MBA in San Francisco where he was exposed to the fields of Service Science, Gamification, and Renewables, which he combined to create wattEV2buy and the award winning web app Ekoguru. Wynand is an energy storage expert and has modeled, designed and presented various solutions utilizing lithium-ion and other electrochemical technologies. In his spare time, Wynand is the author of a children’s book series and started a new project called “Career 180”.

Range Anxiety

Range Anxiety

Range anxiety is probably the most common hurdle to overcome for all new Electric Vehicle (EV) owners or prospective owners. Terms like “bricking”, used when your EV is as useful as a brick when running out of energy on the highway springs to mind. Well, I can certainly attest to the fear associated with range anxiety. I am test-driving my first EV next week, an awesome BMW i3, sponsored by the friendly folks at Forsdicks BMW Tygervalley.

The fear is keeping me up at night and remains with me in my waking hours over the last couple of days. The only time I experienced range anxiety in a diesel vehicle was when we took a safari in Botswana. We trekked for 3 weeks with no fuel available in a 600mile radius, and the fuel that was available was not of the required quality, clogging my fuel filter on the way back to Cape Town. But situations like that are extreme for most vehicle owners and they have to cast their minds back to a time when they were students to recall what range anxiety felt like. Having to fuel with the couple of cents that was left after a night out.

Questions like how far the distance between my office and home is, or how would rush hour traffic influence the vehicle’s range, consume my mind. Suddenly I also remember that the power in my house was not of the right amperage for the coffee machine I bought. At the time I did not know what it meant because I failed woodwork with Julius Malema. Now it’s all coming back to me, and I fully understand what amperage is, and that I sold the coffee machine for a reason – not having an amperage of 20amps on the plug points.

When I Googled “car charging stations in cape town” I had to scroll down on the result page, past Cape Cod and some other “Town’s” to find out that there are some in South Africa, being built in Sandton, a cool 1400km (875 miles) from where I live. How I wish I were back in San Francisco, where you had a better chance of finding a charging station than a petrol station in the city. When I did the calculations the BMW i3 would be perfect for my situation, it has a 128km (80 miles) range, which is more than enough for the 36.4km ONE WAY I have to travel to and from town. Suddenly my fear is amplified, as I realize it is equal to nearly 80km a day. What happens if the car is not fully charged when I leave home in the morning? I am also acutely aware that it is winter, and a battery loses its charge quicker in the cold.

Getting back to reality, and my date with a cool BMW i3 tomorrow. I recently read that a study by the US Department of Transport found that 95% of all single-trip journeys is below 50km (30 miles) and 98% below 80km (50 miles), with only 1% above 112km (70 miles). So it is clear that the vehicle manufacturers all targets this sweet spot with Tesla setting the benchmark on the longer distances, with a 400km (250 miles) distance.

I can also take comfort in the fact that BMW, the largest vehicle manufacturer in the world and its clever engineers will not design a product that will leave its driver’s with a car that is as useful as “brick”.

All I need to do to make the next week a great experience is to have a mind shift, from how vehicles were used up to now to how vehicles would be used from now into the future.

Follow my experience as a new EV driver with the BMW i3 over the next couple of days on wattEV2buy.com and join the revolution.

 

Wynand Goosen

Wynand Goosen

Contributor

Wynand studied his MBA in San Francisco where he was exposed to the fields of Service Science, Gamification and Renewables, which he combined to create wattEV2buy and the award winning web app Ekoguru. Wynand is a energy storage expert and has modeled, designed and presented various solutions utilizing lithium-ion and other electrochemical technologies. In his spare time Wynand is the author of a children’s book series and started a new project called “Career 180”.