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Electric vehicles have developed tremendously in recent times, battery capacity and range have increased exponentially, and new investors are flooding into the market to get their share of the pie. The logical question is, where to next with this amazing technology?
Siemens and Germany have announced their collaboration the eHighway which is being constructed on a 10 km strip of the Autobahn close to the Frankfurt Airport in Germany. Though 10km (6miles) doesn’t seem like much, this could be a groundbreaking step for electric trucks in the future. eHighways could cut input costs for companies dramatically and could make the price of goods independent from oil prices.
To learn more about eHighways check out this video.
eHighways have been dominating the news this week, Queensland Australia has announced that they are busy developing the continents biggest electric vehicle friendly highway. The strip of road will stretch over 2000km and will be supplied with 18 charging stations. This will make it possible for citizens to drive up the east coast from Brisbane to Cairns without worrying about recharging their EV’s.
This is a big push from the Australian government to increase the number of electric vehicles in the country. The charging stations will be free of charge for at least the first year and this could incentives consumers to go electric (there are only 700 EV owners in Queensland at the moment).
The E100, which is Baojun’s first electric car, is powered by a single 39-horsepower electric motor and has a top speed of 62 miles an hour. The E100 can drive about 96 miles on a fully charged battery. More than 5,000 people have already registered to buy the first 200 vehicles. Another 500 vehicles will be made available this week, and buyers will be chosen on a first-come-first-served basis. The Baojun E100 will sell for around $5,000 after incentives.
Exactly 70 years after the debut of its first electric vehicle, Nissan’s most advanced EV ever – the Nissan BladeGlider sports car – took center stage at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK.
Electric cars may only be booming now, but Nissan has been at it for the past 70 years and by the looks of it the blade runner could be another masterpiece in the making.
Check out this video if you don’t believe us:
Consumer Reports just published the results of its range test of the Chevrolet Bolt and came up with some surprising results.
While the Bolt is rated for 238 miles of driving by the EPA, the car exceeded that in the Consumer Reports test, squeezing out 12 more miles for a total of 250. That means the Bolt officially beats Tesla’s Model S, at least in this particular test. When CR tested the Model S 75D, it got 235 miles, compared to the EPA estimate of 259. This test may not be particularly telling but with the Tesla S costing double what the Chevy Bolt costs, some eyebrows could be raised at Tesla’s reliability when it comes to range.
Compiled by Ruan Goosen
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.
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.
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
France – Year on Year growth of 1.4% or 260 units
Netherlands – Year on Year growth of -14.2% or shrinking with 656 units
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Base data supplied by EV Sales, all calculations, and data representations by wattEV2Buy.
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Daimler and Chinese BAIC Motors this week agreed to increase the investment in the Sino-German Joint Venture, Beijing Benz Automotive Co (BBAC), to manufacture electric vehicles. The partners agreed to a further investment of 5 billion yuan (655 million euros / $735 million) at a signing of the heads of agreement in Berlin in the presence of German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping. The investment by the German automaker is a further commitment to electric vehicles as it implements the aggressive electric vehicle strategy. BBAC is the localization of the Mercedes-Benz brand and will see its first electric vehicle rolling off the production line in 2020.
In June 2017 both partners agreed to strengthen their strategic collaboration through investments for New Energy Vehicles (NEVs) in China. As part of the investment agreement, Daimler announced its intention to acquire a minority share in Beijing Electric Vehicle Co., Ltd. (BJEV), a subsidiary of the BAIC Group, with the purpose of strengthening strategic collaboration with BAIC in the NEV sector.
The investment will be used to extend the BBAC plant in Beijing, established in 2005 and already Daimler’s largest Mercedes-Benz passenger car production hub, to become a BEV production hub in China. The establishment of a BEV production hub will commence with the building of an eBattery factory, which would be Daimler’s first foreign location of its global battery production network. Daimler plans to invest one of the ten billion euro earmarked for its electric vehicle strategy in the global battery production network for Mercedes-Benz vehicles. The network already includes the site in Kamenz, Saxony, built in 2010, where a second state of the art battery factory is being built with an investment of around 500 million euros. Mercedes-Benz will source the cell for its battery plant in Beijing from Chinese suppliers.
Tesla‘s Elon Musk announced last Sunday that production of the Tesla Model 3 would commence on Friday the 7th of July, two weeks ahead of schedule. Late Saturday evening Elon posted a tweet showing two pictures of the historic vehicle with serial number one that came off the production line. According to Elon Musk, the rule at Tesla is that the first person to pay the full price will get the first Tesla Model 3 SN1. He responded to a tweet that he has the first Roadster and Model X but not the first Model S. The average sales price for a Tesla Model 3 is estimated to be around $50,000 before incentives.
Electric car sales in the USA and Norway showed healthy gains over the same period in 2016. US EV sales increased 16% over that of June 2016 while in Norway sales jumped 62% for the same period. Electric vehicle sales in Norway now stands at a record 42% of new vehicle sales. Total US EV sales for the year so far stands at around 90,000 units, 39% more than in the first half of 2016. Read our detailed breakdown of EV sales for H1 2017 in Norway and the USA by clicking on the following links.
The state-owned Chinese automaker Dongfeng, a top four vehicle producer in China, which primary strategy has historically been the production of localized cars of various international auto companies such as the PSA Group, Hyundai, Honda, Nissan, and Kia. The company’s in-house developed vehicles are sold under the Dongfeng Fengshen brand which up to now had little EV models. On the 3rd of July, the GM of Dongfeng Fengshen announced during the unveiling of its AX4 SUV that the company will focus on SUVs and EVs from now going forward. The GM, Mr. Lui Hong, did not specify if the vehicles will be based on the new AX4 SUV, AX7 or the E70.
VW and robotics firm Kuka this week signed a new co-operation agreement to develop robot-based innovations for all-electric and autonomous automobiles. The new agreement will expand the existing e-smart Connect project which includes a practical and user-friendly solution for charging high-voltage batteries of electric vehicles pictured here charging the VW GenE research vehicle. The Kuka developed charger is a charging solution developed for parking garages.
The Volkswagen Group is planning a strategic e-mobility offensive in the course of realigning its drive strategy. By the end of 2018, more than ten new electrified models will be launched on the market. A further 30 models will follow by 2025. These will be all-electric battery-powered vehicles. In parallel, Porsche will manage the ongoing expansion of infrastructure for quick-charging stations. The Volkswagen Group is providing a vision for autonomous driving of the future with the “Sedric” concept car. Audi recently established Autonomous Intelligent Driving GmbH for self-drive systems. This company is carrying out work for the entire Volkswagen Group.
KUKA AG is one of the biggest providers of intelligent automation solutions and is the world’s leading manufacturer of production plants in the automobile industry. The Group’s own Research Department headquartered in Augsburg lays the technological fundamentals for innovations in industrial production and service robotics.
The highlights for Norwegian electric car sales in H1 2017 was:
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 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.
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.
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.
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The highlights for USA electric car sales in H1 2017 was:
There are no surprises in the Top 3 EV brands with Tesla holding on to its lead over GM due to a 24% rise in Tesla Model X sales. GM could not dethrone Tesla even with a new model, the mass-market Chevrolet Bolt EV up its sleeve. Improved sales in the 2nd Quarter from the Ford Fusion Energi and C-Max Energi helped the brand retain its third position fighting off the strong performance of Toyota with the new Toyota Prius which was placed third at the end of the first quarter.
Most brands showed improved sales growth over the first half of the year with only Ford, Volvo, and Mitsubishi showing declining sales. The Volkswagen Group showed a declining trend as the year progressed and mustered the lowest growth. The declining fortunes of the German automaker can be attributed to the Volkswagen e-Golf not being able to compete on range with the new mass-market Chevrolet Bolt being sold in the same price bracket. Chrysler showed the highest growth after Toyota buoyed by the new Chrysler Pacifica and great specials on its compliance car, the Fiat 500e. The results might have been better for the US automaker, but the Chrysler Pacifica launch was delayed and then impacted by recalls and plant closure due to battery problems.
Most of the existing models showed growth lower than the overall growth due to the big number of new models to the market. Surprisingly the Ford Focus and Fiat pure electric models outperformed the market showing that the public is becoming more comfortable with range issues and the continuously improving charging infrastructure is starting to have and effect on top of the financial incentives making EVs appealing.
European plug-in vehicles were the biggest losers in this half of 2017 with a number of the luxury PHEV models losing big. Volvo and BMW saw some of their relatively new models losing steam. Both the BMW x5 xDrive and Volvo XC90 T8, released in 2016, lost market share in favor of the Tesla Model X. The Tesla Model S sales have flatlined although it remained the top selling BEV model. It will be interesting to see how the new Daimler Smart ForTwo ED fares in the second half of 2017. The German automaker is relaunching the brand as electric only in the USA and Canada from this summer and will offer a slightly improved model at a marginally reduced $23,800 starting price before incentives.
Battery electric vehicles are still maintaining its lead over plug-in hybrids albeit at a lower margin. BEVs took six positions in the Top 10 EV sales for the USA in the first half of 2017. The ever increasing number of plug-in models benefits the technology in the short term as it competes with only a handful of pure electric models. The Plug-in hybrid category benefited mostly from the release of the new Toyota Prius and to a lesser extend the Chrysler Pacifica. The Tesla Models X and S constitute nearly 44% of all BEV models showing the company’s dominance in the sector. The commanding position will improve even more with the release of the Model 3 in the second half of 2017 which might add about 40,000 units depending on the production ramp-up. The release of the Tesla Model 3 and new Nissan Leaf, expected by the end of the year, should help pure electric vehicles outperform the more dirty plug-in hybrids in the second half.
Up to now, news about VWs plans with its I.D. electric series have been sparse. The latest news on the VW I.D. strategy was about VW’s Chairman, Dr. Herbert Diess confirming the production of the I.D. Buzz. Dutch publication, Groen 7, this week provided a further glimpse of the VW strategy with the I.D EV model range which included two more models to join the three models already announced. VW will develop the I.D Lounge, an SUV and I.D AEROe, a sporty sedan exclusively for the US and Chinese markets. The I.D Lounge and I.D. AEROe will follow the I.D., I.D. Cross and I.D.Buzz models to hit the roads from 2019 to 2022. VW will produce the I.D. for the European market and the I.D. Cross for Europe and China. The market for the I.D.Buzz is yet to be defined.
All the I.D. models will be developed on VWs M.E.B platform. Golf replacement, the I.D. is expected in 2019 and promises a range of up to 600km from a 125kW electric motor. The last model in the range, the I.D. Buzz will have two electric motors with a combined output of 291kW and an acceleration of 0-100km/h in 5 seconds.
In related news the CEO of VW Group company Porsche, Mr. Oliver Blume said that half of all Porsche models would be electric by 2023. The Porsche Mission-E is expected in 2019/2020, followed by a BEV SUV Coupé. Porsche is preparing for the production of 60,000 electric vehicles per annum at its Zuffenhausen assembly plant.
Audi and German auto parts company, Schaeffler, partnered to develop a new powertrain for the ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport Formula E Race Team. The partnership will be around the development for the next three generations of the race car’s powertrain. The team has finished on the podium for the past two seasons and is again lying second in the third iteration of the ever popular event.
The VW JAC electric vehicles joint venture signed in Berlin at the start of June 2017 officially kicked off in Hefei, Anhui Province on the 29th of June 2017. The Chinese JV company, JAC Volkswagen Automobile Co., Ltd. with an initial investment of 5.6 billion Yuan ($740 million) will deliver its first electric car in January 2018. According to reports the first EV from the JV will be a fully electric SUV.
We have followed the Chinese “Netflix,” LeTVs, misadventures in the electric vehicle sector for the past year. LeTVs auto companies, Faraday Future in the USA and the LeEco in China, is well known for overpromising and underdelivering on its goals. The reason for the failure of the enterprises to make good on the hype created around it stems mostly from a cash crunch at the parent company, LeTV, due to it overextending itself in a wide range of projects. The founder of LeTV, Jia Yueting, had to personally jump in and save the two electric vehicles from faltering as groundbreaking of the Faraday Future ground to a halt while the launch of the FF91 at the CES 2017 flopped and the JV with Aston Martin was suspended. At the start of June, the Shenzhen Stock Exchange suspended the launch of the company’s RMB 2 billion bond which was supposed to provide cash flow to LeTV and its subsidiaries. This week Jia Yueting announced that LeTV would complete A-round financing by the end of the year to fund its vehicle projects housed under LeAuto. The funding will be used for mass production of electric vehicles. Jia Yeating stepped down recently as General Manager at LeTV and took a board position at LeAuto and FF Global. Faraday Future also clawed back some reputation this week as the FF91 prototype set a new production vehicle record at Pikes Peak.The FF91s time of 11 minutes 25.083 seconds record was 20 seconds faster than the previous record set by a modified Tesla Model S. Should the funding fails it will most probably be the end of the projects as LeTV has racked up large debts already resulting in large-scale layoffs and halting of projects.
The Korean auto manufacturer, Ssangyong, 72.85% owned by Indian conglomerate Mahindra and Mahindra announced that it will produce of an electric SUV by 2020. The SUV is to be assembled at the 250,000 unit plant in Pyeongtaek South Korea. and promises a range of 300km with a top speed of 150km/h. Ssangyong earmarked 1 trillion won ($1 billion) for the development of SUVs and EVs over the next four years. The parent Mahindra & Mahindra will support the development with funds and technical assistance.
The international promotion of electric vehicles got another leg up this week with the Governments of Thailand and New Zealand announcing incentives to promote the adoption of electric vehicles.
The Thai government set preferential excise duties for electric vehicles as depicted in the slide by the Tax Authority below. Electric Vehicles is one of 10 target industries in Thailand, which is an international auto manufacturing hub. The preferential rates will apply through 2025 and will extend to include EVs and ten EV parts. The ten EV components to benefit from the incentive are batteries, traction motors, battery management services, DC/DC converters, inverters, portable electric vehicle chargers, electrical circuit breakers and EV smart charging systems according to the Bangkok Post.
The New Zealand legislature passed the Energy Innovation Amendment Bill to implement sections of the New Zealand Governments Electric Vehicles Program amongst other changes. The amendment comes at a time when New Zealand EV sales for May 2017 smashed records. The amendments make provision for the exemption of EVs from road charges and enabling bylaws allowing special lanes for EVs.
In related news, the US state of Nevada passed Assembly Bill 69 which authorizes the testing of autonomous vehicles on its public roads. Nevada joins an ever increasing list of States allowing for the testing of self-driving cars on public roads. States that already allows for the testing on public roads include Texas, California, Michigan and New York.
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 so 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In June 2016 the Chinese authorities embarked on a program to regulate the industry that saw over 200 companies planning to produce over 50 million cars a year. Initially, the Chinese Government announced that it would only provide ten manufacturers with permits to produce electric vehicles in a bid to ensure quality and reliability to the consumer. A year later, at the end of May 2017, 14 new energy vehicle manufacturers were awarded production certificates to develop electric vehicles, with no indication what the new limit on participants is. China leads the world in terms of the size of the electric vehicle market; one would expect that it would lead to the creation of great looking automobiles, the opposite has been the norm.
China’s electric car sector is known for its ugly models, most are either bad clones of other brands, such as the Tesla Model S clone the Youxia Ranger X, or old body types of Japanese or European models with a battery thrown in, such as the 2012 Suzuki SX4 rebadged as the 2017 SD EV Yinse. Currently, most Chinese vehicle manufacturers are bringing mid-to-low end models to production, competing with Western models such as the Tesla Model 3, Chevrolet Bolt, Renault Zoe and the Nissan Leaf. A couple of Chinese manufacturers are following the Tesla model of starting with a luxury sedan or sports car and will, therefore, compete with the likes of the Rimac Concept One, Tesla Modle S or Porsche Mission-E.
Many Chinese automakers have addressed design challenges by opening design centers in Europe, mostly in Italy, world-renowned for design, especially automotive design. Some Chinese automakers own established Western brands such as Geely owning Volvo, SAIC Roewe buying MG, NEVS buying SAAB and Wanxiang buying Karma Automotive. One might, therefore, be forgiven to expect that world-class design principles would find its way into Chinese electric vehicle production. Unfortunately, the fusion between Western and Chinese design has yet to deliver eye-catching electric vehicles.
With the greater oversight, one would have hoped to be wowed with only the best electric vehicles rising to the top and receiving the coveted production permits. Let’s look at the current Chinese automakers that have been granted production certificates and see what the Chinese consumer and the rest of the world can expect.
The Chinese Government owned BAIC is one of the top-selling EV brands in China and is now into its second generation EV design with the BAIC E200, BAIC EC180, and BAIC EU260. BAIC has also created a stand-alone company for electric vehicles, BJEV and is expected to bring a new brand to light, called Arcfox. Unfortunately, BAIC’s design still looks very much like copies of other brands, take for instance the BAIC EU260 which looks very much like an older Mercedes C-Series.
Changjiang EV produces the eCool EV, also know as the FDG Yangtze EV. The company classifies the eCool as a mini-SIV, but in all honesty, it looks more like a hatchback. The eCool comes with 10-inch multi-touch HD screen providing an onboard interconnected experience and a mobile terminal. The vehicle achieved a 4-star C-NCAP measured at 50km/h impact. The hatchback comes in various funky colors, and customers can personalize their dash and seat covers, not that is does anything for the general look of the EV.
CH-Auto Technology founded in 2010, the Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer branded as Qiantu Qiche (前途汽车), meaning Future Auto in 2015. Qiantu aims to compete head-on with Tesla and unveiled the Qiantu K50 Event! as the first model in its arsenal to do so ( for all the language buffs, the ! is not a typo but part of the name). The K50 Event! is one of the more appealing Chinese EVs.
Chery Auto was honored with “Best Globalization Strategy for the year 2015” among Chinese Vehicle manufacturers. Chery is a leader in the EV sector with one of the first production cars as far back as 2008.The Chery QQ, first produced in 2015, remains one of the top 10 models in China. The QQ might be popular, but it is certainly not for its looks.
The company was founded in 2011 and opened the Jiangsu MIN’AN Automotive Research Institute in October 2015 where it develops its new energy vehicles. Min’an Auto is set to unveil its first EV in 2018. Min’an has the intent to develop three models in 2018, an SUV, rendered below, a sports car and a neighborhood electric (NEV) delivery van. Min’an suffers from the same classification issues as Changjiang EV, trying to sell a hatchback as an SUV.
Owned by Chinese auto parts company Wanxiang Group, who bought the remnants of Fisker Automotive in 2013. The company aims to manufacturer 900 Karma Revero’s in 2017. Waxiang Group was one of the first automakers to receive a production certificate allowing it to produce electric vehicles in 2016. The Karma Revero teaser below was released late 2016 and does not look a lot different than the Fisker Karma of 2012.
JMC created a new company to house its electric vehicle unit under in early 2015. The plant situated in Nanchang City has a planned production capacity of 70,000 units per year by 2020. JMC EV is planning to follow up on its first electric vehicle the E100 EV with four new models, the E200, E160, S330 SUV PHEV and E170. Th JMC E100 is one of the top 20 sellers in China. Both the E100 and E200 looks quite similar and follows the same boring lines as most of the small electric vehicles such as the Chery QQ and BAIC EC180.
The Sokon owned company received its production certificate early 2017 which allows the company to produce 50,000 EVs annually. The company has not unveiled any vehicles but have secured Tesla Co-founder, Martin Eberhard, as a consultant and acquired US-based AC Propulsion at the end of 2016. Sokon developed small commercial vehicles in partnership with Dongfeng.
National Electric Vehicles Sweden (NEVS), a Chinese-owned company, acquired the SAAB brand from bankruptcy in 2012. The company received a production permit for 200,000 units annually. The company has already signed an agreement to supply 20,000 SAAB 9-3 to Chinese Aerospace entity, Volinco. Disappointingly it seems that consumers will have to be content with getting another relic from the past as an option when it comes to buying a new EV in China.
Yudo Auto electric vehicles strategy is to produce affordable pure electric SUVs and aims to be a first-class brand in 5 years and international presence in 10 years. Yudo chose the words “creating for change” as its tagline and opened a Design Center in Milan, Italy. The company unveiled two small SUVs at the Shanghai Auto Show in April 2017 as part of its Gemini strategy. The Yudo Pi1 base model looks like a bad knockoff of the VW Tiguan, and the flagship Yudo Pi3 reminds of a Landrover Freelander of the 90’s. Let’s hope there is more “creating for change” down the line.
Know Beans (Zhi Dou), a Geely company, and yes that’s the brand’s name, develops the popular ZD D2 mini-car which is also sold under the Zotye label as the Zotye E20. The D2, produced since 205, is also a top 20 electric vehicle in China. You just know, when you look at the D2, that it hails from China. I don’t know what is worse, the brand name or the vehicle, enough said.
Henan Suda EV, also know as SD EV received permission to develop a 100,000 EV plant. SD EV offers one of this ‘Back to the Future’ opportunities, where you can buy a vehicle from 2012 as a brand new model in 2017. SD EV has two EV models ready for production. The vehicles are based on Suzuki SX4 sedan and hatch. The word Suda means to ‘Speed Up’ in Chinese while the Henan refers to the company’s home province.
Hozon received an electric vehicle production certificate allowing it to produce 50,000 units per annum. Hozon unveiled its first concept vehicle, a compact crossover named @, at the 3rd World Internet Conference in November 2016. The Hozon logo looks surprisingly similar than that of Mercedes, and the rendering of the marketing material looks like that of an old generation Buick Lacrosse, while the @ like a Tesla Model X.
GreenWheel received approval to develop a 50,000 unit plant. The company is better known for developing Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEV). Now that GreenWheel has qualified for EV production it aims to start production of the small crossover, named the V5, which is an electric version of the Weichai Enranger G3.
For too long the stereotype Chinese manufacturer has been known for copying rather than innovating. It is therefore disappointing to see that most of the authorized EV producers are still developing cars based on old combustion vehicles. The failure of the permitting process to identify and authorize truly innovative companies to ensure a sustainable and dominant Chinese EV sector will be negative for the whole EV sector, we need companies such as Tesla, testing the boundaries set by traditional auto manufacturers.
At the end of the day, beauty is in the eye of the beholder so I would love to hear your comments on the state of China’s electric vehicle design in the comment section below.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Porsche will unveil a powerful Panamera E-Hybrid; Various 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:
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.