TOP EV NEWS #1 – NISSAN WOES IMPACT LEAF e-PLUS LAUNCH
The Nissan Leaf e-Plus 60kWh was supposed to be unveiled on the 28th of November 2018. Nissan canceled the launch indefinitely due to the scandal surrounding its CEO and Chairman Ghosn which was arrested due to financial misconduct. Nissan gave no indication when the long-awaited extended drivetrain for the Leaf will be only saying that the company will wait for the scandal to blow over. Currently, the Nissan Leaf is only available with a 40kWh battery pack delivering a range of 243k (152 miles). The Leaf e-Plus with its 60kWh battery has an expected range of 362km (226 miles).
TOP EV NEWS #2 – NEWLY UNVEILED EVs
Illinois based electric vehicle start-up Rivian Automotive digitally revealed its first electric vehicles, the R1T electric pick-up, andR1S electric SUV. The quad powered electric sports utility truck is available from 2020, first in a 400mile version and then 12 months later in a 250-mile version. The two range options are equipped with either a 180kWh or a 135kWh battery pack. The Rivian R1T EV pick-up is available for a refundable deposit of $1,000 and is priced from $61,500 after applying the federal tax incentive. The Rivian R1T EV has a wading depth of 3 feet and extra trunk space of 330L in a gear tunnel.
Similar to the R1T electric pickup revealed a day earlier the quad powered electric sports utility vehicle is available from 2020, first in a 400mile version 250-mile version also following 12 months later. The Rivian R1S EV SUV is priced from $65,000 after applying the federal tax incentive. The Rivian R1T EV has a wading depth of 1 meter and extra trunk space of 330L where a combustion engine would have been. The rear bin storage is 180L, and the SUV has six rows of seats.
KIA unveiled its long-awaited upgrade of the KIA Soul EV at the LA Auto Show. The 2020 KIA comes in a GT-line for the combustion drivetrain and X-Line for the electrified model. KIA doubled the size of the New KIA SOUL EV battery pack to 64kWh which will result in a doubling of the range to over 320km (200 miles). KIA did not provide range estimates as the car is still undergoing testing. The New KIA Soul EV also has an improved motor producing 150kW (200hp) and 395N.m(291 lb.ft) torque, up from 81kW (108hp) and 285N.m (210lb.ft) torque. On the design front, the New KIA SOUL EV MPV gets a rugged crossover-like theme for the X-Line. The KIA e-SOUL is available in the first half of 2019 in Europe and early 2020 in the USA.
Audi unveiled the Audi Sport E-Tron GT coupe at the 2018 LA Auto Show. The e-tron GT is available from the end of 2020 and promises a range of over 400km (250miles) measured on the WLTP cycle. For complete specs, please go to the dedicated page on wattEV2buy here.
Fiat announced that it would start producing the Fiat 500e at the FCA Mirafiori plant in Turin, Italy. The upgrade version of the 500e is developed on the new small electric car platform developed by FCA. Newly appointed CEO Mike Manley said, “Mirafiori will represent the first installation of a full BEV platform applied on the new Fiat 500, capable of scaling to other applications worldwide. Additional investments across our Jeep, Alfa Romeo, and Fiat brands will realize the benefits of existing plant capacity as well as scale and sourcing efficiencies from a common vehicle architecture, and Plug-in Hybrid Electric propulsion (PHEV) system, while preserving traits unique to the brands.”
TOP EV NEWS #3 – GM EV STRATEGY SHIFT
Signs of Tesla’s transformation of the auto sector is emerging in boardrooms all over the globe and with its competitors all rehashing their EV strategies no seemingly every year GM announced this week that it would double its investment in electric and autonomous vehicles. The news came with the announcement that the Chevrolet Volt and Cadillac CT6 PHEV will be killed off by March 2019 as the company joins the direction taken by Ford earlier focusing on trucks, crossover and SUVs and not sedans. The restructuring and discontinuation of the Volt which has sold nearly 160,000 units to date will result in the closure of three assembly plants and two drivetrain factories leading to job losses amounting to 15,000 employees. The plants in question are:
- Oshawa Assembly in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada.
- Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly in Detroit.
- Lordstown Assembly in Warren, Ohio.
- Baltimore Operations in White Marsh, Maryland.
- Warren Transmission Operations in Warren, Michigan.
The announcement caused the ire of Donald Trump which promised to make American jobs his priority. Donald Trump’s actions seem to have the opposite effect as the world including America is now spiraling towards a recession and instead of his denialism of the impact of greenhouse gasses on the climate the world is rushing towards greener transport and energy sources. Trump threatened that he would take away GMs EV subsidies if they don’t plan to replace the lost capacity and build another car in the USA prompting the following reaction by GM stating their commitment to the US economy.
GM is committed to maintaining a strong manufacturing presence in the U.S., as evidenced by our more than $22 billion investments in U.S. operations since 2009. Yesterday’s announcements support our ability to invest for future growth and position the company for long-term success and maintain and grow American jobs. Many of the U.S. workers impacted by these actions will have the opportunity to shift to other GM plants where we will need more employees to support growth in trucks, crossovers and SUVs. GM’s transformation also includes adding technical and engineering jobs to support the future of mobility, such as new jobs in electrification and autonomous vehicles.
We appreciate the actions this administration has taken on behalf of industry to improve the overall competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing.
TOP EV NEWS #4 – BIG AUTO PUSHING EVs IN MAINSTREAM
Earlier the month VW Group CEO said that the company is geared to push EVs into the mainstream as the German automaker plans to produce 15 million electric vehicles on its mass-market MEB platform and take the fight to Tesla. Group CEO Herbert Diess said “We will be aggressive on the pricing. We will be much lower than Tesla, but we have all the huge economies of scale, and the car is specifically designed now.” The plan by VW to produce Evs in this kind of volumes makes it the first traditional automaker in the West to aggressively push the needle in favor of EVs. Up to now most EV strategies of traditional automakers mostly focussed on developing competencies and provide EVs in limited volumes not exceeding around 10% of their total sales. This month saw one of the last domino’s fall to push EVs into the mainstream as Toyota shifts away from Hydrogen cars, kicking and screaming. Toyota created a new subsidiary for its EV push and although the start-up seams insignificant with only four people from different branches of the Toyota group. The Japanese automaker stated that the small team would result in the accelerated development with fast-to-market products thanks to “unconventional work processes”. Comments by Toyota president Akio Toyoda saying that the start-up “will embrace speed in its approach to work” indicates that the company is fast changing tact to catch-up with its competitors to make up for time lost pursuing fuel cell cars. Toyota believed that consumers would prefer hydrogen which refueling rate compares with that of combustion vehicles but the lack of hydrogen fueling infrastructure means that FCEVs can’t compete with the adoption rate of EVs. VW is Toyota’s closest competitor in terms of volume, so the remarks by VW’s CEO certainly had an impact on Toyota’s desition related to EVs. VW CEO Scott Keogh told reporters this week at the Los Angeles Auto Show that the company is scouting for a location for a US plant to produce a mass-market EV by 2020. It is rumored that Toyota is working on a mass-market EV that will hit the market by 2020 with a range of 300km (186 miles). Speculation is that Toyota could use the Prius platform to save development time and produce an electric Aygo as a mass market city car.
Providing further clues of Toyota’s thinking comes from Toyota’s European President & CEO Johan van Zyl saying to the UK publication Auto Express, “We already have some electric vehicles undergoing trials here in Europe – short-range, inner-city transport. So I think that in the future, if you look at that spectrum of technologies that we offer, then EVs will be part of that.” He expanded further expanding on if the company’s city car could be a candidate for pure-electric power “Yes, that’s going to be very interesting. Will people use vehicles which will completely emissions-free in certain areas? We see a stronger growth of that type of thinking in cities where they’re saying, ‘We’d rather have emissions-free vehicles so it should be a plug-in or a pure-electric vehicle.’”
TOP EV NEWS #5 – PRODUCTION UPDATE
Chongqing Jinkang New Energy will start production of the SF Motors SF5 EV Crossover by the end of 2018 as the plant in Chongqing official came in operation this week. The first units of the line will be test cars with the expected list date of the SF5 is only in Q3 2019. Jinkang new Energy is in possession of a 50,000 annual unit permit for the production of electric vehicles from the Chinese Ministry of Information and Technology. The plant employees over 800 robots to automate the welding, stamping, painting and assemble assembly, transportation and loading processes in four workshops. The Jinkang plant also uses AGV robots with autonomous capabilities to identify and distribute parts within the plant. The production line can produce any type of vehicle form compact cars to luxury SUVs and is designed to quickly adjust between different model types. The official investment for the plant is ¥2.5 billion.
Chery Jaguar Land Rover Automobile Co., Ltd. has entered into an agreement with the Jiangsu Changshu Economic and Technological Development Zone to build a new energy vehicle R&D center. The total investment of the project is ¥7 billion and will include an R&D center to develop and testing electric vehicles and will include a test track. Chery JLR started the construction of its plant which currently produces combustion vehicles in 2014. The second phase of 70,000 units is to be completed by the end of 2018 bringing the total capacity of the plant to 200,000 units. The JLR EV strategy is to electrify its fleet by 2020 by producing all its models with fuel, plug-in hybrid, hybrid, and pure electric drivetrains.
The new brand by CHJ Auto “LEADING IDEAL” entered into an agreement with the Chinese OEM Lifan to assemble its first EV, the Leading Ideal One range extended SUV at a new plant in Changzhou, Jiangsu Province. The new plant will with a production capacity of 150,000 electric vehicles is to be completed by August 2019 and comes at a cost of ¥182million and covers 490,000m². The plant will produce only 5,000 units of the Leading Ideal One in 2019 and ramp up to 100,000 in 2020.
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