TOP EV NEWS #1 – GAC TO VENTURE INTO US MARKET IN 2019
The Chinese automaker GAC has been a regular at the Detroit Auto Show since 2013 and signaled in October 2017 that it intends to venture into the US auto market. This week during the 2018 Detroit Auto Show GAC clarified its strategy around the entry into the US market. GAC is partnering with FCA to use its dealer network as a springboard into the USA from 2019. Unfortunately, the first model to land in the USA will not be an EV but a mid-sized SUV, the GAC Trumpchi GS8. GAC, however, unveiled a vision of the first EV it intends to launch in the country targeted at the young buyers. The GAC Enverge Concept is a compact crossover packed with technology and equipped with a 71 kWh battery providing it a range of 600km (375miles). The 350kW GAC Enverge has a fast charging system allowing it to charge 400km (250miles) in 10 minutes, just as long as it takes to stop and fill-up at a gas-station. At first impression, the GAC Enverge Concept leaves you confused as it seems from the outside not to have side windows in its giant clamshell doors. The mysterious pod on the roof houses a Segway scooter for the “last 100-meter” commute from your car to your final destination making legs a thing of the past in the Enverge future.
Chinese automakers are generally risk-averse making GAC’s foray into to the tough US market significant. GAC already exports to 14 countries but cracking it in the US with its strict technical requirements and high standards will boost the image of the Chinese automaker. GAC is not among China‘s top EV producers, it only sold 5,259 units of its 3 plug-in and 1 pure electric models in 2017. There is already talk that GAC might face obstacles from Washington as both sides of the aisle have a problem with allowing Chinese carmakers access as auto imports to the US only carries a 2.5% tax compared to US models which attract a 25% tariff in China. GAC is yet to announce a name for its US brand as its Trumpchi brand will obviously create issues due to the similarity with the controversial US President. GAC made its intention clear to target the European market after the US excursion.
TOP EV NEWS #2 – INFINITI SET EV STRATEGY
INFINITI, Nissan’s luxury brand sees that EVs will contribute more than half of its global sales by 2025. Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa announced at the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit today this week that the Japanese automaker will launch its first EV in 2021. It is strange that Infiniti sees EVs to be such an important contributor to its sales yet its entry into the market only in 2021 makes it one of the latecomers to the sector signaling that it was not geared for the market change in the first place.
According to a press release by the company, INFINITI will offer a mix of pure electric vehicles (EV) and e-POWER vehicles, demonstrating the full range of low-emission vehicle technology. Infiniti unveiled the Q Inspiration Concept at the Detroit Auto Show as a future vision of what customers can expect from its new level of electrified driving performance. Other than announcing that the Infiniti Q Inspiration will have Nissan’s ProPILOT autonomous drive technology no specifications were released around the electrified drivetrain.
In related news, French PSA Group which include Peugeot, Citroen, DS, Opel, and Vauxhall also explained its electrification plans at the Detroit Auto Show during the Automotive News World Congress. According to PSA CEO, Carlos Tavares, the company aims to electrify its full line of cars and light-truck by 2025 and nearly all its models will have self-driving capabilities by 2030. The result is that PSA will launch 40 electrified models across its brands by 2025.
TOP EV NEWS #3 – RIVIAN EV PLANS CLEARER
A year ago I reported on a stealthy EV-startup, Rivian Automotive acquiring a mothballed Mitsibushi assembly plant in Illinois. The past week Rivian Automotive lifted the veil slightly on its plans through a launch of a marketing campaign. Rivian announced that it will come to market by 2020 with two EV models, a seven-seater SUV, and a five-seater pick-up. Appart from looking more than an extreme sports site the automaker’s website does not provide more information other than that the AWD vehicles will be connected and equipped with advanced self-driving, accelerating to 60mph in under 4 seconds and have a wading depth of 3 feet. The site also mentions that the vehicles will have a massive lockable storage capacity and innovative cargo management solutions. Judging from the team of experts available to the company which includes Dodge Viper designer Tom Gale and former McLaren engineer Mark Vinnels the start-up has a fighting chance.
TOP EV NEWS #4 – NEW EV MODELS AND MARKET EXPANSIONS
Toyota announced on the 18th of January at the start of the Montréal International Auto Show that it will expand sales for its Mirai FCEV to Québec Canada this year. Isabelle Melançon, Minister of Sustainable Development, the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change said at the announcement “The arrival of the Mirai in Quebec is perfectly in line with the adoption of the zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) standard last December, which aims to substantially increase the number of electric cars on Quebec roads. This standard will give Quebecers access to a wider range of electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids.”
Last year Isuzu unveiled its N Series electric truck, late December the Japanese automaker announced that it intends to launch the light delivery truck based on its Elf range by the end of the year in answer to the Fuso eCanter. The Isuzu electric LDV will have a range of 100km and two 40kWh lithium batteries. The batteries are located between the right front and rear wheels and between the left front and rear wheels, respectively. and is for powering the vehicle and cold-storage. The small truck has a maximum loading capacity is 3,000kg.
TOP EV NEWS #5 – SAUDI HEDGING ITS BETS FOR END OF OIL
To diversify its economy and develop its automotive sector the Saudi Government entered into its first EV pilot project according to Reuters. The State-controlled Saudi Electricity Co (SEC) partnered with Japanese Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), Nissan Motor Co and Takaoka Toko supply fast chargers and three Nissan EVs. Although the EV pilot is an acknowledgment that EVs is a reality the country still sees that it will take decades before it has a significant impact on their main export. Suppliers of electric vehicles are spreading their wings to new untapped markets and we are seeing more and more of these initiatives to partner with governments to secure a front row seat to benefit from subsidies to promote the adoption of EVs. This week Mitsubishi and the Vietnamese government also entered into a partnership to increase the adoption of electric vehicles. Mitsubishi presented one Outlander PHEV and quick charger to the Vietnamese Government. Mr. Tran Tuan Anh, the Minister of Industry and Trade of Vietnam said “We are delighted to conclude the MOU with Mitsubishi Motors as our important partner. This joint study is very important milestone to promote the transition of a low carbon economy.”
In related news Toyota, which also don’t see a significant change to EVs in the next decade acquired a 15% stake in Australian lithium miner Orocobre for an approximate AUD292 million (USD232 million) through its subsidiary Toyota Tsusho. Toyota is not the first automaker to buy into lithium mining to secure supply. In 2017 the Chinese Great Wall Motors acquired a stake in another Australian lithium miner Pilbara Minerals.
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