TOP EV NEWS #1 – THE EV SECTOR IN CHINA IS OF TO A BANG IN 2018
Following a year of record EV sales where a couple of strong brands such as BAIC, BYD, GAC, and Geely emerged as frontrunners, the Chinese EV sector prepares for the effects of the Governments ZEV mandate requiring new energy vehicles to be 8% of sales from 2019 scaling to 12% in 2020. Some commentators believe that EVs would trigger a long-awaited industry shake-up forcing mergers with stronger brands or liquidation of loss-making brands which have been propped up by easy loans, government incentives and regulations to develop a local auto sector. Automotive News China (ANC) commented this week that effects of a stagnant auto sector coupled with pressure to develop EV technologies on small brands such as Haima, Lifan, Hawtai, SG Automotive and even state-owned companies are forced to alter their business plans. According to ANC Haima sales fell 35% in 2017 while various auto brands are struggling to raise cash in the current environment. Lifan which saw sales decreasing 2% in 2017 canceled a stock issuance on the Shanghai exchange due to investor perceptions. SUV makers Hawtai and SG are in merger talks while state-owned companies FAW, Dongfeng, and Changan which is lagging in the EV race agreed in December 2017 to share EV technology and develop a joint supply chain.
Even foreign brands are not spared, state-owned Changan this week had to approve a 1.8 billion yuan ($285 million) bailout for PSA’s local Citroen DS venture after suffering a 68% drop in sales in 2017 which contributes to the company technically becoming insolvent. The funds will be used to realign the lossmaking 50/50 JV and to develop EV models. Most automakers are now focussing on EV development as a way to yet again use state incentives to prop up their finances. Changan also announced a 50/50 JV with Mazda to develop EVs where the local operator will supply the technology and the Japanese automaker the body. The first EV from the JV will be a compact crossover in 2019.
The entry of technology companies in the auto sector is further fragmenting the Chinese auto market where funds are flowing to start-ups instead of traditional auto brands. Alibaba and Apple supplier, Foxconn, this week led a further investment round in EV start-up Xiaopeng with a 2.2 billion yuan ($349 million) investment bringing total investments in X-Peng to $800 million. X-Peng plans to bring its connected EV, the G3 Crossover, to market later this year. Haima was contracted to use its spare capacity to assemble the G3, formally know as the X-Peng Identity X, through to 2019.
The support by the Chinese Government to be the world leader in EV development is also creating opportunities for local brands with GAC and SAIC already announcing plans to enter the US and European markets with electric passenger and commercial vehicles. Bus makers such as BYD is already supplying electric buses to various Western cities while looking to develop a passenger vehicle assembly plant on Europe’s doorstep in Morrocco.
TOP EV NEWS #2 – MERCEDES IDENTIFIES HUBS FOR EV PRODUCTION
In a press statement, this week Mercedes set out its EV production plans through to 2023 when it aims to electrify its complete model range, offering 50 electrified vehicles of which ten would be pure electric. According to Member of the Divisional Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production and Supply Chain, Markus Schäfer, Mercedes will assemble EVs at six plants on three continents and produce batteries in-house at two plants. The Mercedes EV strategy as set out this week includes battery production and assembly operations with its Chinese JV BBAC with local partner BAIC in Beijing. Chronologically the plan which will see the investment of ten billion euros in assembly and a further one billion euros in battery production will be as follows:
- Electric hubs are already being built around the globe;
- 2017 saw the start of the production of the Smart ED in Hambach, Germany, the first of the company’s fourth-generation EV technology;
- Completion of the second battery factory in Kamenz and intensify preparations for the EQC at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Bremen in 2018;
- Production of the EQC SUV in Bremen in 2019;
- Production of the EQC in China at the BBAC plant in Beijing;
- Production of SUV, compact, upper and luxury class vehicles at plants in Rastatt, Sindelfingen, and Tuscaloosa (USA)
TOP EV NEWS #3 – PORSCHE MISSION-E PRODUCTION UPDATE
In an internal interview by Porsche, Albrecht Reimold, the company’s Member of the Executive Board responsible for Production gave the following update on the progress of operationalizing the Porsche Mission E production. The 29-hectare development of the assembly line where 20,000 Mission E EVs will be assembled is named “Project Zuffenhausen 2020” referring to the development of a second assembly line at the German company’s Zuffenhausen plant. When asked when the Mission E will reach production at the new the German automaker’s Plant 4 Reimold said “The initial equipment will be brought into the buildings in early 2018. But we are ultimately looking at 2019.”
When asked for clarity on the relationship between the Mission E and the JV between Porsche and Audi to develop EVs under the Premium Platform Electromobility – or PPE platform for short Reimold answered “What we plan to do with the PPE architecture is transfer the existing model lines into the age of e-mobility. Working with Audi, we are taking responsibility for creating the vehicle architecture of the future. Mission E is an independent, separate model line and is the ideal way to supplement and expand our product portfolio.”
According to Reimold Zuffenhausen aims to be a CO2 neutral factory and will switch to biogas from 2020 as a first step, eliminating up to 5,000 tonnes of environmentally damaging carbon dioxide every year. For more on Porsche’s thinking around production read the rest of the article here.
In related news, Volkswagen Sachsen GmbH, a manufacturing subsidy of the Volkswagen brand with headquarters in the city Zwickau announced that it would be able to produce 1,500 EVs a day by the end of 2020 when the final phase of converting the plant which currently produces Lamborghini, Golf, Passat and previously Bentley models. The Zwickau plant will commence production of its first EVs in 2019 when the I.D. Crozz rolls off the assembly line. The Zwickau plant will produce EVs for VW, Seat and Audi brands.
TOP EV NEWS #4 – JAGUAR ANNOUNCES i-PACE RELEASE DATE
Jaguar announced the date it would officially open its order book for the Jaguar i-Pace as March the 1st 2018. The company will also set the pricing on the same date and premiere the much-anticipated EV at the Geneva auto show on March the 6th. The company completed testing of the I-Pace extreme temperature performance at the Jaguar Land Rover cold weather testing facility in Arjeplog Sweden. The testing was successfully completed in -40ºC conditions.
Jaguar also announced improved charging data with the i-Pace being able to charge in less than 45 minutes to 80% via a 100kW system. This is a 100% improvement from the concept vehicles 90 minutes announced in 2017.
See the full specs on our dedicated page.
TOP EV NEWS #5 – RENAULT TRUCKS TO GO ELECTRIC IN 2019
Renault Trucks, a Volvo owned company, announced that it will bring a range of electric trucks to market in 2019. Renault Trucks sees the technology as indispensable for city center access. Renault Trucks have been field testing EV technology with various partners such as Nestle and Delancy Group with experimental full-electric 12 to 16-tonne trucks. Renault Trucks also has a 4.5-tonne Maxity Electric truck since 2010. A dedicated assembly line for all-electric trucks is being installed at Renault Trucks’ Blainville-sur-Orne plant in Normandy, France.
TOP EV NEWS – AUTONOMOUS NEWS FROM PAST WEEK
Hyundai showcased the world’s first autonomous fuel cell EV which will be used during the Winter Olympics to be held in South Korea. A fleet of five vehicles equipped with Level 4 self-driving technology completed the 180km (113 miles) at the allowable speed of 110km/h from Seoul to the Olympic village at Pyeongchang. The fleet consisted of three NEXO FCEVs and two Genesis 80 autonomous cars. Hyundai is set to commercialize Level 4 self-driving cars in smart cities as early as 2021. Hyundai’s autonomous technology allowed the vehicles to navigate through toll gates by accurately calculating the toll gate’s width and position, and precisely pinpoint the vehicle’s position on a map by using external sensors fitted for situations when the GPS signal was interrupted, such as going through long underground tunnels.
Hyundai’s self-driving technology includes enhanced connectivity made possible by the 5G network provided by mobile service provider, KT Corp. The infotainment system allows passengers to use functions such as Home Connect, Assistant Chat and Wellness Care. Home Connect is a car-to-home technology which allows passengers to access and control IoT devices in a smart home. Hyundai will phase in home-to-car technology from this year and car-to-home from 2019 into other Hyundai models. Assisted Chat is a Chat Bot, and the Wellness Care monitors passengers health information and connects to a health consultant through video-call.
In a bid to strengthen its sales in China GM announced that the majority of the 20 EVs that the US carmaker intends to produce by 2023 will be available in the worlds largest EV market and that it will include its Super Cruise driver assistance technology.
As Waymo moves from its R&D phase in the self-driving race to operations in the deployment of the world’s first self-driving ride-haling service the company this week entered into an agreement with FCA USA to supply it with thousands of Chrysler Pacifica PHEV minivans. Waymo has already acquired 600 plug-in Pacifica minivans in its self-driving program that now spans 25 cities after the companies entered into a partnership centered around the development of self-driving cars in May 2016. The Chrysler Pacifica plug-in minivans became the first vehicle to attain Level 4 autonomy. According to John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo, “The Pacifica Hybrid minivans offer a versatile interior and a comfortable ride experience, and these additional vehicles will help us scale.”
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