TOP EV NEWS #1 – TESLA EXPANDS FOOTPRINT IN ASIA
Tesla is aggressively targeting Asia for expansion. Last week we reported on Elon Musk’s tweet about the US company’s efforts to enter the Indian market. Musk in his TED interview in May eluded to Tesla pursuing the signing of up to five Giga factories by year-end. Rumors that Tesla will establish a factory with the Shanghai Municipality was quashed byAutomation Instrumentation company, Shanghai Lingang Holdings Ltd. The company denied any contact with Tesla related to a China-based factory as the news created a spike in the Chinese company’s share price. Tesla in the meantime responded with the following press statement:
“in order to better serve the China market, Tesla is exploring the possibility of establishing a Chinese manufacturing plant with the Shanghai municipal government. Based on the previous communication, by the end of this year, the localization plan will be more clear. Tesla has been committed to cultivating China market. At the same time, in order to better serve the market all over the world, we are constantly assessing the potential factory location in the global area. Although we expect that most of the production will be completed in the United States, we need to set up factories overseas to ensure more local consumers can afford our products.”
Tesla is looking to establish local production in world’s largest market for electric vehicles to escape the 25% import duty on its models. Tesla also this week began delivering the Model S 90D in South Korea announced the launch of the Model X in Indonesia.
Other Tesla headlines this week saw the announcement of the start of the production of the Model 3 battery cells and the resignation of its Autopilot Head, Chris Lattner. Chris Lattner joined the company barely six months ago. Both Chris and the Tesla cited that he did not fit the company’s culture.
TOP EV NEWS #2 – CHINESE AUTOMAKERS GEAR-UP TO BATTLE TESLA
SAIC, the state-owned top four Chinese auto manufacturer and CATL, top lithium battery manufacturer, this week established two joint venture companies in a bid to challenge Tesla’s dominance in the EV and Battery sectors. CATL and SAIC will play to their strengths in the separate JVs with CATL focusing on battery technology and SAIC on drive train development.
In a similar vein, BYD, the top selling EV manufacturer in China for two years running has spun its battery division into a separate entity allowing it sell batteries to other Chinese and international auto manufacturers.
TOP EV NEWS #3 – NEWS RELATED TO SELF-DRIVING CARS
Ford this week publicly presented its autonomous Ford Fusion Hybrid we reported on at the end of last year. The self-driving Fusion was put through its paces at the University of Michigan where it successfully navigated daily traffic conditions at a top speed of 25mph.
The French PSA Group announced that it plans to have a Level 3 self-driving vehicle by 2020 and introduce semi-autonomous DS 7 Crossback next year. The PSA systems are called ‘Traffic Jam Chauffeur’ and ‘Highway Chauffeur’.
Texas signed a bill authorizing testing of self-driving cars on public roads.
TOP EV NEWS #4 – AUDI & VW CONFIRM EVs FOR PRODUCTION
Audi announced that it will start producing the Audi e-tron Sportback EV at its Brussels plant from 2019 while VW’s Chairman, Dr. Herbert Diess confirmed that it will produce a version of the of the I.D. Buzz unveiled last year. The I.D. Buzz will join the I.D. Crozz in production and compete with Tesla‘s expected Type II people carrier.
TOP EV NEWS #5 – NEW BRANDS AND MODELS UNVEILED
This week was another bumper week for the EV sector as two new EV-specific brands were created alongside the usual flood of new ZEV models we are now getting used to.
Volvo created a high-performance electric vehicle company by rebranding its Polestar High-Performance Division. Volvo teased the new logo and announced the new management, under the leadership of its Design VP, Thomas Ingenlath, now Polestars CEO. Polestar will continue its engineering work under its old logo but will turn the sub-brand into an electrified global high-performance car company with the new branding.
Chongqing Sokon, one of the 15 Chinese companies with EV production certificates and owner of US based AC Propulsion this week acquired US AM General’s auto assets for $110 million. The acquisition includes the Hummer plant in Indiana and will be housed within its USA unit, SF Motors. Sokon has made a number of aggressive moves the last 12 months, including the signing of Tesla co-founder Martin Eberhard but so far has not made any clear indication of how all these actions will translate into a strategy.
CHJ Automotive announced during a Round A capital raising that it will create a new vehicle category for city application by bringing an ultra- compact two-seat EV to market in 2018 from its plant in Changzhou, Jiangsu province.
Zotye announced that its sixth and latest production facility, completed recently in Chongqing, will produce an electric SUV, the M12 or Zotye T300E as well as a PHEV MPV the seven seat B40.