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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Uber self-driving car could be grounded by Google

Uber self-driving car could be grounded by Google

Uber’s self-driving pilot program may be halted in May due to a court order. According to a Reuters report, the Judge in the Waymo Uber court case warned the car-hailing company that should his director plead the 5th Amendment, and not testify for fear of incriminating himself; he might just grant the injunction sought by Google’s self-driving company, Waymo.

The case against Uber was brought before the San Francisco District Court in February. Waymo claims that its former employee, Anthony Levandowski, downloaded 14,000 files related the Google autonomous vehicle program before leaving to join Otto, an autonomous vehicle company acquired by Uber in 2016. Otto, using Level 4 autonomy equipped semi, successfully delivered a load of 50,000 beers on a 2-hour journey to Colorado Springs in October 2016.

Judge William Alsup warned Uber’s legal team in a closed hearing this week that unless Uber can prove they have not used any of Waymo’s technology associated with the files, that he would like to hear Mr. Anthony Levandowski version. The Judge went further, saying “I’m sorry that Mr. Levandowski has got his — got himself in a fix. That’s what happens, I guess, when you download 14,000 documents and take them, if he did. But I don’t hear anybody denying that.”

Uber has yet not responded to Waymo’s claims and is trying to push for arbitration, where Mr. Levandowski can testify in a closed hearing without fear of being criminally charged.

Uber last week temporarily grounded its autonomous vehicle pilot project after a collision caused by another vehicle. The company lifted the grounding on Tuesday. The hearing, set for May 3, could lead to a longer injunction of Uber’s self-driving program, wich would not add to alleviate the company’s tarnished public image. Should Uber be handed an injunction, it does not stop them from testing in other countries.

In other Uber electric vehicle-related news, the ride-haling company had to withdraw from Denmark after the introduction of a new law making it difficult for the company to operate its business model. And in the UK the company announced that it would expand it’s existing electric vehicle fleet from 20 Nissan Leaf and 30 BYD e6‘s to 150 cars in the City of London. The company will adapt its app and install fast chargers to assist the drivers of the EV’s.

 

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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.