Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories of Week 29 2017

Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories of Week 29 2017

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TOP EV NEWS #1 – MERCEDES BENZ AND CHERY TRADEMARK DISPUTE

Mercedes Benz and Chery Automotive reached an agreement in the trademark dispute lodged (EV News Week 12) by Chery in March 2017. According to a joint press release, the companies agreed to the following settlement with regards to using the EQ designation for electric vehicles in China:

Chery will focus on using the designations eQ and eQ1, as well as further numerical continuations thereof, while Daimler will focus on use in their electric Mercedes-Benz products with the designations EQC and any other alphabetical supplements. Daimler will use the EQ Power designation for Plug-In Hybrids and meanwhile Chery will also use eQ TEC to nominate their car electrification system.

Chery has already been using the eQ and eQ1 brand names in China since year 2014 and Daimler has now also granted them the possibility to use this name family in countries outside of China. Daimler established the EQ brand family for electrically driven Mercedes-Benz vehicles almost simultaneously in countries outside of China and Chery has granted the company the possibility to also use this in China now.

TOP EV NEWS #2 – BMWs OXFORD PLANT TO PRODUCE BEV MINI

We reported in March that BMW was considering Mini as an EV only brand, with the Mini being its answer to Tesla and Chevrolet‘s mass market cars, the Model 3 and Bolt EV. At the time BMW CEO, Harald Krüger was quoted that the company is considering manufacturing facilities for the Mini in Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK. Reuters this week reported that unconfirmed sources indicated that the UK would be the winner in the race for producing a fully electric Mini. The BMW plant in Oxford is responsible for 60% of the Groups compact cars, but in the aftermath of BREXIT, the German automaker established the Netherlands as an alternative manufacturing base. The report indicates that the final desition will be announced at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September.

TOP EV NEWS #3 – EV SALES UP IN KEY MARKETS

As the June EV sales data are being released, we have been able to create half year reports for the key markets. Most of the of the key markets are showing exceptional growth in the first half of 2017. The increased sales are helped with the release of a slew of new models. As many as 20 new models have entered the Chinese EV market since June 2016 while most European markets saw ten or more new models. Some of the highlights are:

Germany – Year on Year growth of 104% or 11,000 units

USA – Year on Year growth of 39% or 25,000 units – see report

China – Year on Year growth of 35.8% or 44,000 units – see report

Norway – Year on Year growth of 20.6% or 4,600 units – see report

Sweden – Year on Year growth of 35.2% or 2,100 units – see report

France – Year on Year growth of 1.4% or 260 units

Netherlands – Year on Year growth of -14.2% or shrinking with 656 units

Smaller markets such as Spain has also shown growth of 101% and Italy 53%. We will be releasing detailed reports on all the Top 10 countries in the following two weeks.

TOP EV NEWS #4 – NEW NISSAN LEAF HERE IN SEPTEMBER

Nissan announced that the new Nissan Leaf would be released on the 6th of September. New EV model releases have become as anticipated and high profile as smart phone releases some years back. With the date nearing Nissan has been releasing teasers about the long awaited new Nissan Leaf. The latest teaser revealed that the Leaf would have an e-Pedal, or for the novice, just one pedal to accelerate and break. Breaking is done by taking your foot off the pedal, activating regenerative breaking. The technology was first used in the Tesla Model S and then in the BMW i3 in 2014. Previous teasers indicated that the Leaf would have some autopilot functionality.

TOP EV NEWS #5 – VOLVO AND GEELY TO FORM EV TECH JV

The Swedish carmaker, Volvo, and the Chinese company, Geely is fostering deeper relationships in the worlds largest market for electric vehicles. In a press release by Volvo this week it was revealed that the companies would establish a new joint venture technology company to share existing and future technologies. We have seen this cooperative trend in China for the last couple of months, which is a departure from previous JVs between international and Chinese companies. In the past international automakers were forced by law to enter into JVs with Chinee companies to be able to sell their vehicles, which lead to mostly older generation models being dished up to the Chinese consumer as the international partners tried to protect their IP.

The JV company will be owned 50/50 by Geely and Volvo with its HQ in China and a subsidiary in Gothenburg, Sweden. The Memorandum of Understanding agreed to on the 20th of July between Volvo, Geely and newly formed LYNK & CO determined that the companies will share vehicle architecture and engine technologies via cross licensing arrangements of technologies managed by the new joint venture. The IP for the technology will remain with the company that developed it, but the technology itself will be available for use by Volvo, Geely Auto, and LYNK & CO, via license agreements. Volvo Cars and Geely already share technology, most notably the Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) which is being used by Volvo Cars for its soon-to-be-announced smaller range of 40 series cars and by LYNK & CO.

Separately, it is also announced that Volvo will acquire a minority shareholding in LYNK & CO.

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The Swedish Electric Vehicle Market Sweden EV Sales for H1 2017

The Swedish Electric Vehicle Market Sweden EV Sales for H1 2017

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THE SWEDISH ELECTRIC VEHICLE MARKET H1 2017

Sweden EV Sales H1 2017, a summary

We look at the Top brands and models, the gainers and losers and how the battle between battery electric (BEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) technologies play out in the summary of Sweden EV Sales H1 2017.

The highlights for Swedish electric car sales in H1 2017 was:

  • Swedish EV Sales grew by 35.2% Year-on-Year or by more than 2,100 units over the same period in 2016;
  • The Swedish EV sales got off to a great start in January setting the tone for the year. However, the following months saw the trend flattening off, albeit at slightly higher levels than 2016.
  • Plug-in hybrid vehicles seem to dominate the Sweden EV market, commanding over 70% of total EV registrations in Sweden during the first half of 2017.
  • Ten new models, most of them PHEVs, were available to consumers in this semester compared to the same period in 2016;
  • Volvo, the Swedish automaker was the worst performing brand in its home market, losing 25% of its sales compared to 2016, falling out of the list of Top 3 EV brands in Sweden.

The Swedish Electric Vehicle Market Sweden EV Sales for H1 2017

 

The Top Electric Vehicle Brands for 2017 H1 in Sweden

The Top 3 EV brands in Sweden for H1 2017 were VW, new entrant Mitsubishi and BMW. Most EV brands except Volvo and Peugeot showed gains in units sales compared to H1 2016. Hyundai entered the Swedish market with its Hyundai Ioniq BEV. Initial sales for the Ioniq was below average in a market which has a preference for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Toyota re-entered the market with the new Prius but failed to get the same traction as it did in other markets. Tesla and Mitsubishi nearly doubled their sales from 2016. Sweden is on of the few markets where Mitsubishi showed positive growth with the aging Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV in 2017 and now makes up 23.24% of all EV registrations in Sweden. BMW maintained its third overall position with the support of its 330e, 225xe, and X5 xDrive models, more than compensating for waning sales in the BMW i3 model series. VW held on to the top spot, mostly due to the VW Passat GTE which accounted for 25% of all EV sales in Sweden during H1 2017.

The Swedish Electric Vehicle Market Sweden EV Sales for H1 2017

 

The Top Electric Vehicle Models for 2017 H1 in Sweden

Ten new EV models entered the Swedish EV market in the comparison between H1 2016 and H1 2017. Of the ten new EV models, eight were plug-in hybrids, and only the Tesla Model X made it on to the Top 10 list. Volvo launched two new plug-in models at the end of May in its home market, the Volvo XC60 T8 and Volvo S90 T8 PHEV. The XC60 sold 44 units and the larger S90 31 units. The Nissan Leaf still performed well considering the upgrade is expected early 2018. Most of the Mercedes-Benz models fared well except for its larger S550 and GLE550 models. The Daimler company could however not compete with its compatriot, BMW, who had more models in the smaller end of the scale. The BMW 330e, BMW i3, and BMW 225xe Active Tourer sold 813 units while the Mercedes-Benz B250e and Mercedes-Benz C350e could only muster a combined 130 units. The Tesla Model S still performed well in Sweden as opposed to the general trend where we see the sales flattening out in its main markets.

The Swedish Electric Vehicle Market Sweden EV Sales for H1 2017

 

Summary of EV sales in Sweden for 2017 H1, the losers

Volvo was the big loser in Sweden during the first half of 2017 despite having a home ground advantage and bringing two new models to market, albeit only in late May. Volvo’s two mainstay plug-in electric cars, the Volvo XC90 T8 and Volvo V60 PHEV, lost nearly a third of their respective sales to brands such as VW, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz.

The Swedish Electric Vehicle Market Sweden EV Sales for H1 2017

 

The battle between BEV and PHEV models in Sweden

Sweden has a definite preference for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Of the ten new models released since the first half of 2016 in Sweden, eight were PHEVs. A total of 5,850 plug-in hybrid vehicles were sold, comprising 72% of the market while only 2,301 pure electric models were sold during the same period. The percentage breakdown of PHEV to BEV in H1 2017 is very similar to that of H1 2016, explaining why most new models released in Sweden were PHEVs despite a halving of the rebate on plug-in hybrids.

The Swedish Electric Vehicle Market Sweden EV Sales for H1 2017

In conclusion, even at a 3.4% of the national fleet (Q4 2016), electric vehicle sales in Sweden remains low compared to its neighbor Norway, which has an EV penetration of close to 30% (Q4 2016). The sluggish performance is linked to the Swedish EV incentive program which has been erratic, linked to a fixed amount of funding which has been depleted a couple of times. Also, the Swedish EV buyer does not get his/her rebate at the point of sale. The Swedish Transport Agency contacts owners after the purchase of the vehicle requesting the completion of a paper process after which they receive the rebate. The rebate of 40,000 kroner (~ $4,500) applied to BEVs and PHEVs up to October 2016 at which time it was halved for PHEVs.

Detailed breakdown of all electric vehicles sold in Sweden for the first half of 2017

The Swedish Electric Vehicle Market Sweden EV Sales for H1 2017

Base data supplied by EV Sales, all calculations, and data representations by wattEV2Buy.

Be sure to check out our new presentation of all EVs since 2010 to gain great insights on all auto brands and their electric vehicle strategies. We have also created presentations per technology type BEV, PHEV, and FCEV.

Interested in finding the best electric vehicle for you? Download our fun and easy app below, set your preferred technology, price, and range 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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Summary of EV sales in Norway H1 2017

Summary of EV sales in Norway H1 2017

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Summary of EV sales in Norway H1 2017

We look at the Top brands, Best and Worst Models and how the battle between battery electric (BEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) technologies play out in the summary of EV Sales in Norway H1 2017.

The highlights for Norwegian electric car sales in H1 2017 was:

  • Norway’s EV Sales grew 20.62% Year-on-Year or by 4,630 units over the same period in 2016;
  • BEV outsold PHEV also by a margin of 20.6% while having fewer models than plug-in hybrids;
  • Nine new models, most of them PHEV’s, were available to consumers in this semester compared to the same period in 2016;
  • We saw big changes in the Top 3 EV Brands in Norway.
  • EV sales a percentage of total sales broke records in January and June 2017 by constituting 27% and 42% of all vehicles sales for the respective month.
  • Most of the EV sales in Norway for the first half of 2017 came from gains in January and June 2017 which were 67% and 62% higher than that of the corresponding months in 2016.

Summary of EV sales in Norway H1 2017

The Top Electric Vehicle Brands in Norway for H1 2017

Summary of EV sales in Norway H1 2017 We saw very big changes in the Top 3 electric vehicle brands in Norway with only VW Group retaining its Top position, albeit with lower sales in its mass-market VW brand. Japanese automakers, Mitsubishi and Nissan were pushed from the Top 3 by German luxury automakers BMW and Daimler. Tesla sales also surpassed that of Mitsubishi and Nissan, with a strong performance by the Tesla Model X more than offsetting the slide in Tesla Model S sales. Tesla now commands over 11% of the total EV market in Norway.

French automakers Renault, Peugeot and Citroën gave up positions to their peers as Hyundai and GM entered the market with the new Ioniq and Opel Ampera-e (Bolt EV) mass-market EVs. It is disappointing that first movers such as the PSA Group grew too comfortable supplying the same models for the past 5 years without preparing a response to longer range mass-market vehicles. Toyota has not achieved the same stellar sales in Norway with the new Toyota Prius as it did in some of its other markets.

The Best Electric Vehicle Models in Norway for H1 2017

The Top 10 gainers in sales growth over 2016 were mostly plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV) while the top selling vehicles by units were mostly battery electric vehicles (BEV). The BMW i3 rose a healthy eight positions and ate into the sales of the VW e-Golf, VW e-Up, VW Golf GTE, Audi A3 e-tron, and Nissan Leaf. Norway is now the second best market, after the USA, for the German manufactured BMW i3 accounting for 8% of all electric vehicles on the country’s roads. The Tesla Model X performed very well, helping Tesla to nearly double its sales in Norway. The rise of the Model X, now the best performing luxury EV in Norway, came at the expense of the BMW X5 xDrive and Mitsubishi Outlander. Luxury brands Daimler and BMW‘s large selection of PHEV models performed well in Norway with the Mercedes GLC350e helping Daimler to be the leader in the luxury class over BMW. It is only Daimler’s lack of an answer to the BMW i3 that kept the automaker in the third spot overall.

Summary of EV sales in Norway H1 2017

 

The Worst Electric Vehicle Models in Norway for H1 2017

The VW brand sold 1,540 units less than last year across the VW Golf GTE, VW e-Golf, and VW e-Up models. The VW Group lost nearly 2,000 units in total if one should factor in the sales loss from the Audi A3 e-tron. The biggest overall loser was the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV which sold 1,040 units less than the same period in 2016. The Tesla Model S is following the same trend as we see in many other countries, losing 31% or selling 388 units less than last year.

Summary of EV sales in Norway H1 2017

 

The battle between BEV and PHEV models

Pure electric vehicles (BEVs) extended their lead over plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV) to 20.6% from 17.3% in H1 2016 despite having fewer models to offer. A total of 14,753 BEVs sold in the first-half of 2017 in Norway compared to 12,231 PHEVs. For our calculation, we included the BMW i3 REx as a BEV since we don’t have an accurate breakdown of BMW i3 sales between the BEV and range extended version.

Summary of EV sales in Norway H1 2017

Detailed breakdown of all electric vehicles sold in Norway for the first half of 2017

Summary of EV sales in Norway H1 2017

 

Be sure to check out our new presentation of all EVs since 2010 to gain great insights on all auto brands and their electric vehicle strategies. We have also created presentations per technology type BEV, PHEV, and FCEV.

Interested in finding the best electric vehicle for you? Download our fun and easy app below, set your preferred technology, price, and range 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.

LATEST IN DEPTH COUNTRY EV SALES REPORTS AVAILABLE IN OUR SHOP

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German EV sales up 82% year to date April 2017

German EV sales up 82% year to date April 2017

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German ev-sales-april-graph

The pace of German electric vehicle sales just keeps on accelerating as the country’s April EV sales jumped 119% compared to the previous April, bringing the year-to-date increase to 82%, up from 77% in March. Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) maintained a slight lead over Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) with 6,843 units sold vs. 6,728. Plug-in Hybrids were, however, the leading technology for the month of April with wattev2buy-german-ev-sales-april-17-brands-1,953 units sold vs. 1,587.

The Top EV brand in Germany is BMW, taking the crown from VW. The BMW i3, which kept on to its second position overall and the BMW 225xe Active Tourer accounted for nearly 80% of the German automaker’s total sales. Significant of the BMW i3 sales is that the consumer is shifting away from the i3 REx range extended PHEV, last years preferred variant, to the pure electric version. The ratio in 2016 was 474 i3 REx to 216 i3 BEV vs. 897 BEV to 551 REx now. The shift towards the pure electric version is an indication that consumers are getting more comfortable with the technology and that range anxiety is becoming less of a deterrent. Surprising is that Nissan lost a lot of ground in Germany, this was due to the fall in Nissan Leaf sales. The popular, yet dated Leaf, has been able to hold its commanding position in most other markets, so we have to ask the question if Germany is a sign of what’s to come. Nissan teased some pictures of the new Leaf, expected in 2018 this week. The VW brand was one of the other losers for the year-to-date, mostly due to falling Volkswagen Golf GTE and e-Golf sales. The new Renault Zoe Z.E. 40 was the most popular car in February and March but lost ground in April to the BMW i3, Audi A3, and Mitsubishi Outlander.

Smaller and cheaper models remained the top performers in Germany, but new models such as the Opel Ampera-e (rebadged Chevrolet Bolt), Hyundai Ionic and Mini Countryman SE ALL4 has yet to perform. In the luxury segment, Mercedes-Benz outsold Volvo, BMW, and Audi. Tesla remained the best performer in the luxury segment, maintaining its position, owning 10% of the total electric vehicle market in the country. The Toyota Prius, a top performer over the last couple of months in the USA and Japanese markets, is not yet available in the German market and it is unclear if it will be available here.

At this rate, Germany is expected to surpass its 2016 record with about four months to spare, a great achievement for the electric vehicle sector, boding well for global EV sales in 2017.

Please feel free to use the comment section below to share your thoughts on the German EV market and available models.

 

wattev2buy german ev sales april 2017 ytd

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Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories Week 15 2017

Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories Week 15 2017

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TOP EV NEWS #1 – UBER TO BOOST ELECTRIC VEHICLE MARKET

Increased support by ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Ola are becoming a big impetus for EV sales globally. This week Uber launched a program to incentivize many of its drivers to switch to electric vehicles. The program, driven by Uber owned leasing company, Xchange Leasing targets leasing up to 10% of all vehicles in Oregon as electric vehicles by 2019. The program follows on similar efforts in other countries by the company. In London, Uber is building a charging network to support a fleet of 150 electric vehicles, in Cape Town and Johannesburg the company deployed a fleet of BMW i3s on its uberGreen platform. UberGreen projects are also piloted in Lisbon, Madrid, and Paris. Uber is estimated to employ over a million drivers globally via its platform, a target of 10% will add a 100,000 electric vehicles, or just under 5% of the current EV fleet.

Other ride-hailing companies, such as the Softbank backed Ola in India, started to include electric vehicles in their business models. Ola CEO, Bhavish Aggarwal last week announced a pilot project for a large-scale rollout of electric vehicles. Ola’s pilot project includes thousands of EVs and a charging network. An indication of the magnitude of the project can be gleaned from a statement by Softbank Chairman, Masayoshi Son, made in December 2016, saying that Ola will roll out a million EVs over a five year period.

TOP EV NEWS #2 – CALIFORNIA TO TAX ELECTRIC VEHICLES

Various states in the USA had recently levied taxes or fees on electric vehicle owners, and more are expected to follow. The trend, which some claim to be a bid to recover investments in electric vehicle adoption and infrastructure, or due to pressure from lobby groups opposing electric vehicles. The most recent, and most surprising have been California, which will start levying a fee on electric car owners from 2020. Almost 50% of all electric vehicles in the USA is sold in California, and the state has been a big promoter for the adoption of the technology. The fee will consist of a $100 registration charge and an annual tax based on the value of the vehicle.

The fee, which the California legislature says is to fill the gap it would lose from lost gasoline taxes, in our opinion will not have a negative impact on EV sales when it is introduced in 2020. By the turn of the decade, EV prices will be very affordable, and the total cost of ownership is expected to remain below that of combustion vehicles.

TOP EV NEWS #3 – EVs AT THE NEW YORK AUTO SHOW

The New York Auto Show, from 14 April to 23  April, showcases all 30 electric vehicle models available in the state. Electric vehicles at the new York Auto Show 2017 includes the Plug-in Honda Clarity, Mercedes-Benz AMG GT Concept, and the Lucid Air, a luxury sedan which achieved an eye-watering 217mph on a recent test run.
New York recently announced a $2,000 rebate, totaling $55 million, as part of a $70 million incentive by Mayor Cuomo tp promote the adoption of electric vehicles. The state targets a goal of 40% emission reduction by 2030.

The BMW i3 was awarded the title as the World’s Best Urban Car, beating the Citroen C# and Suzuki Ignis.

TOP EV NEWS #4 – EVs AT SHANGHAI AUTO SHOW

The Shanghai Auto Show starts this week on the 21st and will run until the 28th of April. Electric vehicles at the show will include the Bentley EXP 12 Speed 6e, the Skoda Vision E-SUV Coupe, Buick Velite 5 PHEV which is based on the Bolt, the NIO EVE autonomous vision by NextEV, SAIC Roewe i6 compact, VW Concept SUV, and the Hybrid Kinetic H600. Also at the Shanghai Auto Show would be Isreali and Chery JV company Qoros, which will unveil the Qoros Model K-EV, built on the same hybrid electric powertrain as the Koenigsegg Regera supercar. Do you also find that the naming of the model is eerily similar to that of Tesla?

Volvo is also expected to unveil the Volvo XC40 at the Shanghai Auto Show, its latest PHEV SUV, which aims to compete with the Audi A3, Mercedes-Benz GLA and BMW X1.Volvo this week announced that it will produce its first electric vehicle in China, ready for the international market by 2019. Volvo is owned by Chinese automaker Geely since its acquisition from Ford in 2010. Geely last year launched a new brand, Lynk & Co, and accompanying model the Lynk & Co 01 SUV PHEV. Volvo will manufacture its new electric vehicle at the same plant as the Lynk & Co 01 SUV in southeast China. Volvo 90 and 60 series are also manufactured in China.

TOP EV NEWS #5 – APPLE TO TEST SELF-DRIVING CAR

Apple joined the growing number of companies authorized to test autonomous vehicles on California’s public roads. Tech companies have recently encroached on automakers territory, with 11 of the 21 companies on the list of permit holders authorized by the California DMV now being from the sector. Uber, a tech company, lost its permit in February 2017.

According to the permit Apple, based in Paulo Alto, is allowed to test three 2015 Lexus RX450h vehicles on public roads. According to the rules of the autonomous testing program, each vehicle should have two drivers, usually engineers, at all times in the vehicle.

It is not yet clear what Apple’s self-driving strategy is, news over the last two years have been conflicting, ranging from the company either following the Google route of not building car’s but only systems to the Tesla route, building an Apple iCar. The world’s most valuable tech company tagged its self-driving efforts as Project Titan.

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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.

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”.