Monday, 30 April 2018

Former Opel boss joins US electric car startup Evelozcity

Karl-Thomas Neumann


Evelozcity an electric car startup based in Los Angeles and formed by ex-Faraday Future staff, announced last week the appointment of Karl-Thomas Neumann as the new head of mobility and European operations.
Neumann has almost three decades of experience in the auto industry and served as CEO at supplier giant Continental and the Volkswagen Group's Chinese operations in the past. His last stint was as CEO of Opel but he stepped down in the months prior to the brand's sale to France's PSA Group last August.
Neumann joins fellow German executives at Evelozcity Stefan Krause and Ulrich Kranz. Krause has previously served as CFO at Deutsche Bank and BMW while Kranz helped BMW start its i division. Both execs were hired to help turn around Faraday Future but called it quits last year after butting heads with the company's main backer Jia Yueting.
In addition to developing Evelozcity's mobility services, Neumann will oversee customer experience and branding and marketing for the startup. That will include coming up with a brand name for the eventual cars. The company founders are well aware that the Evelozcity name doesn't easily roll off the tongue.
“We need new transportation concepts and e-mobility to free cities of traffic and pollution,” Neumann said in a statement. “I have looked at many options and believe that the traditional carmakers will not be driving the change.”
Evelozcity was only founded last December but hopes to have its first model on sale by 2021 and two more shortly after. The company is taking a pragmatic and asset-lean approach in order to reach the goal, including outsourcing production, eliminating much of the bureaucracy that slows decision making at bigger firms, and focusing on affordable cars first. Core to its strategy, the company is developing a skateboard-style electric car platform capable of spawning at least three affordable cars: a personal vehicle, a last-mile delivery vehicle, and a ride-hailing vehicle.


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Sunday, 29 April 2018

The Biggest Challenge In Electric Car Markets

EV

Volkswagen is spending $2 billion in America to correct its “Dieselgate” cheating scandal — and to move beyond the typical upscale electric car shopper that tends to be much more interested in driving a Tesla Model S or Model X.
Electrify America, Volkswagen’s subsidiary carrying out the Dieselgate settlement by supporting electric vehicle purchases and charging infrastructure, has been making deals to bring fast chargers to shopping malls. After making an agreement this month to bring 100 charging locations in 34 states to Walmart, more retail outlets were just added. That includes Target, Sheetz, Casey’s General Stores, and Alltown convenience stores.
Walmart and Target shoppers tend to be quite different than Tesla owners, and those driving other electric vehicles from BMW, Chevrolet, Nissan, and other makers. Driving around upscale neighborhoods is usually the best place to find a Model S or Model X parked in the driveway of a high market-value home.
The average consumer car shopper — along with fleet managers overseeing acquisitions of a large part of new vehicles sales — have been tough to reach. Buying and driving their first EVs can raise concerns over driving range, safety, and how reliable the new technology will be over their typical lifecycle ownership.
Building a charging infrastructure under Electrify America, Tesla Superchargers, and other charging networks, is considered critical for reaching mass adoption of EVs. Bringing down the purchase price is another wall to climb — as demonstrated by Tesla investing heavily in its Model 3 with a $35,000 starting price, and General Motors focusing on the Chevrolet Bolt that starts at $37,500. Federal and state incentives bring those costs down even more.
The average pre-incentive price of 10 electric cars with the longest per-charge driving ranges was nearly $42,000 last year. That compares with about $34,000 for an average new car and $20,000 for an average new compact car.
Purchase incentives such as rebates and tax credits have been critical for electric vehicle sales to increase in the U.S., China, and Europe. But who’s tapping into these incentives?
new study by Pacific Research Institute analyzed where tax credits in the U.S. have gone to. Reviewing the latest figures on tax credits for EV purchases, 79 percent were taken by consumers with annual household incomes greater than $100,000 per year. Extending that out a bit showed that households with $50,000 per year or more made up 99 percent of EV tax credits.
California has taken the lead in EV incentives, and has accounted for about half the electric car sales in the U.S. Another $140 million was set aside for electric car subsidies in the 2017-2018 state budget. Much of the rationale behind EV incentives in the state has been to clean up air quality in low-income communities living near traffic-congested freeways and heavy-truck intensive harbors.
The state’s generous incentives are being used by wealthier residents, which the state has taken criticism over in recent years.
Tesla faces a similar challenge selling its vehicles in the U.S., Europe, and China. The Model 3 is seeing strong sales, but the company is struggling to bring in the needed capital to ramp up production and meet promises made last year by CEO Elon Musk. The automaker is working with Chinese government officials to set up a free trade zone, where Tesla can avoid the hefty tariffs it pays to bring its electric cars to its showrooms in China. So far, Tesla’s customers in China have been wealthy consumers willing to pay more for the Model S and Model X.
German automakers have worked hard at becoming more Tesla-competitive and to meet stringent anti-diesel rules coming from the European Union. VW, BMW, and Daimler have made serious commitments to electrifying their vehicle offerings through 2025. Like Tesla, that so far has been seeing most of its gains coming from luxury and performance EV sales.
BMW shows a clear example of it with its pricier i-Series models and offering several of its luxury sedans with plug-in hybrid variations.
Some analysts have praised increases in global EV sales as a sign that EV adoption is increasing significantly. Last year, with 1,223,600 EVs sold globally, a 58 percent sales increase was reached over 2016. China led the way for battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle sales with a 73 percent growth surge last year.
However, that still only represented 1.3 percent of total global new passenger vehicle sales last year. The total has been estimated at 93.5 million light-duty vehicles sold in 2017.
Automakers, government officials, and technology suppliers will have to invest heavily in affordable EVs of all types, fast charging, and a much larger charging infrastructure. For now, gasoline stations and affordable, fuel-efficient passenger vehicles are beating EVs by a wide margin.

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Mercedes-Maybach bets on a hybrid SUV-sedan



Mercedes-Benz is betting on a hybrid SUV-sedan to attract wealthy Chinese buyers to its Maybach ultraluxury model line.

The Vision Mercedes-Maybach Ultimate Luxury concept unveiled at the Beijing auto show on Tuesday previews a high-end SUV that could compete against models such as Bentley's more traditionally SUV-styled Bandage and the upcoming Rolls-Royce Cullinan.

The concept combines the DNA of an SUV with that of a sedan to produce an ultra-modern, three-box SUV, design chief, Gorden Wagener, said at the show here.

Mercedes hopes the SUV-sedan look, which it claims merges influences from the Western and Far Eastern hemispheres, will appeal particularly in China, since the two body styles are the most popular in the market.

At 207 inches long, 83 inches wide and 69 inches high, the concept is more generously sized than the Bentayga.

The rear passenger compartment will be the main selling point to offer first-class comfort geared toward those who employ a chauffeur.

Inside the vehicle has high-end materials such as ebony, a wood often found in Chinese furniture design. These contrast with the white nappa leather seats and rose-gold diamond stitching. The concept is also equipped with a retractable wooden tray containing a fine China teapot and cups.

Its connectivity features are designed to anticipate the wishes of its occupants rather than offer long menus and lists. It can adjust the route to coincide with the appointment calendar. The infotainment technology plays music to match the current mood of the driver and adjusts the route to coincide with the appointment calendar.

The concept has an electric drivetrain with an 80 kiloWatt-hour powerplant and four compact electric motors. Its range is more than 200 miles.

BMW will export iX3 electric crossover to Europe, U.S. from China

Image result for bmw x6


Just as China's trade relations with the U.S. are at their worst in years, BMW is laying the groundwork to start exporting from its biggest market to buyers around the world including in North America.

BMW plans to begin producing its first full-electric crossover, the iX3, in 2020 at its joint-venture plant in the northern city of Shenyang, and will sell the model abroad, according to partner Brilliance China Automotive Holdings.

BMW is offering buyers an early taste of the vehicle with the Concept iX3 unveiled Wednesday at the Beijing auto show.

The iX3 project makes BMW the first major luxury-car maker to ship high-tech vehicles from China, in a sign consumers no longer equate the country with cheap products. It positions the Shenyang site to supply SUVs to the U.S., the second-biggest market for BMW, even with the question of higher American tariffs against Chinese-made goods still up in the air. The government’s Made in China 2025 development drive is giving foreign carmakers more confidence their local joint-venture factories have the technology suitable for exports.

“As long as the vehicle is built properly, and BMW will make sure of that, it doesn’t matter too much to consumers where the car comes from,” said Tim Urquhart, an automotive analyst at market researcher IHS Markit. “This will see a low-volume vehicle being made at a low-cost site.”

The Chinese industry faces even more sweeping changes after authorities this month outlined plans to ease foreign-ownership restrictions on automakers that could eventually enable the manufacturers from abroad to buy out their local partners.

BMW’s choice of China as the sole initial production site for its first electric crossover also shows the shifting focus of the industry. The iX3 will further help the company, which already manufactures a plug-in hybrid version of its X1 crossover in China, meet tightening emissions rules in the world’s biggest electric-vehicle market.

“Carmakers have to have electric-vehicle production in China in any case,” said Mark Fulthorpe, also at IHS. “China has been getting more consideration for export, even if that means sharing profits with joint-venture partners.”

The iX3, which will be able to travel 400 kilometers (250 miles) on a fully charged battery, can be exported after the BMW partnership gained a license last year to ship it outside China.

The model will enter the fast-growing premium electric-crossover segment after Jaguar’s I-Pace crossover and Audi’s Q6 e-rron, which are scheduled for initial deliveries this year, and the Mercedes-Benz EQ C crossover coming out in 2019.

So far, foreign carmakers have exported only a limited number of Chinese-made vehicles, preferring to offer them domestically in place of imports that would attract steep levies. General Motors has sold a few Cadillacs and Buicks outside the country, while Swedish manufacturer Volvo Cars -- now Chinese-owned -- has shipped some S60 sedans to the U.S. The biggest step so far in terms of volume is Ford’s decision last year to shift the Focus compact’s production from North America to Chongqing, a move expected to save $1 billion in costs.

BMW’s only fully battery-powered model is the i3 city car, introduced in 2013. An electric model from the Mini small-car brand will enter showrooms next year. The iX3, which will be based on the existing X3 crossover to save costs, is part of BMW’s strategy to roll out at least 12 all-electric cars by 2025. The carmakers is under pressure to contain ballooning development costs that will hit about 7 billion euros ($8.7 billion) this year, an increase of some 15 percent on top of an 18 percent jump in 2017.

Unlike bigger rivals like Volkswagen Group, which comprises 12 vehicle brands, BMW has limited options to spread technology costs between its namesake badge and Mini. Placing the iX3 in China will put the car at the heart of a market that Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates accounted for 49 percent of the 1.1 million electric vehicles sold globally last year.

Friday, 27 April 2018

Volvo Wants Electric Cars to Make Up 50 Percent of its Sales by 2025



Following the declaration that every car it makes will get a mild hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or all-electric variant beginning in 2019, Volvo now says that all-electric cars will make up 50 percent of its sales by 2025. That's an ambitious target for an automaker that doesn't have any all-electric cars in its lineup right now.
Volvo made the announcement at the 2018 Beijing Auto Show, and the plan seems to be geared toward the Chinese market. China will introduce an emissions-credit system in 2019 that will require automakers to sell specific amounts of electric cars. In a press release, Volvo noted that the Chinese government wants so-called "new energy vehicles" (including battery-electric cars, plug-in hybrids, and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles) to account for 20 percent of the country's annual car sales by 2025.
Emissions standards in the United States will also get stricter over the next few years but, given the uncertain fate of standards for 2022-2025, the lack of a comprehensive U.S. government plan to promote electric cars, and the larger size of the Chinese new-car market, China is likely Volvo's priority.
But what electric cars will Volvo sell to meet its target? While the Swedish automaker has plenty of plug-in hybrids in its lineup right now, it lacks an all-electric model. Volvo said last year that it will launch five electric cars between 2019 and 2021, but it will have to ramp up production fairly quickly and convince customers to buy these cars instead of its internal-combustion or hybrid models.
Convincing customers to go electric will be as crucial to the plan as building the cars themselves. During a roundtable at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show, Volvo CEO Håkan Samuelsson told The Drive that half of the company's models will be all-electric by 2024, but admitted that "ultimately it’s the customer that will decide," to actually buy them.
Tesla has its issues, but it has the advantage of not having to compete with itself by selling electric cars alongside internal-combustion models. Volvo and other legacy automakers are throwing considerable resources at electric cars, but they'll have to ensure that customers choose those electric cars over the gasoline or diesel alternatives sitting in the same showroom.

British Mines May Supply Metals for Electric-Car Batteries




  • The next big source of metals for electric-car batteries may be centuries-old British mines, many of which haven't been active since the 1990s, according to a new Reuters report. A new source of metals is exactly what's needed as automakers seek to boost production of electric cars.
  • Mines in the U.K. county of Cornwall access one of the world's largest tin deposits, but were shut down in the 1990s when a drop in prices made them unviable. Now, researchers are looking at the possibility of reopening the mines, which may contain lithium deposits as well, to supply metals for batteries.
  • This would solve many problems for the battery industry. Increased demand from automakers is expected to create a shortage of the metals used in lithium-ion battery cells. Chinese companies also control most of the existing mines and refineries, leaving Western companies concerned that they will be shut out. Poor working conditions in existing mines in countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo also present ethical issues.
  • A U.K. mining revival creating a source of battery metals in a stable Western country is an attractive prospect for the auto industry, but it's not a done deal. So far, mining efforts have been relatively small scale, with large firms holding back in order to let smaller upstarts take the initial risk, according to Reuters. It's unclear if these initial efforts will point to enough metals to make a difference.
  • Demand for batteries will skyrocket over the next few years as automakers implement ambitious electrification plans. Volvo, Jaguar Land Rover, and Infiniti will soon offer hybrid or all-electric versions of every vehicle they make, and Volvo expects all-electric cars to make up half its global sales by 2025, and the Volkswagen Group plans to launch 50 all-electric models across multiple brands by that time. Nissan expects to be selling 1 million hybrids and all-electric cars by 2022. They're going to need a lot of batteries.



Thursday, 26 April 2018

Ultra-luxury Machines Dazzle at the Beijing Auto Show

FAW E-Jing GT. 

The Beijing International Automotive Exhibition is a barometer of the state of the world’s biggest passenger-vehicle market. New cars are launched, startups vie for attention against their multinational rivals. This year’s show is significant for some key reasons: China is beginning to open up its auto market after two decades of restrictions on how much foreigners can own in local car ventures; electric vehicles are beginning to gain steam; and there’s the looming threat of a trade war.
Bloomberg News captured the pulse of the show throughout the main press day.

TAKING FLIGHT

Porsche may have built its race-car reputation on two-seaters such as the 911, but it’s been SUVs such as the Cayenne that have made China the top market for the German luxury car maker. Now sales of the smaller cars are starting to take off too. While there’s no room for the chauffeur, “demand for our two-door sports cars, the 718 Cayman and Boxster, is developing extremely well,” according to head of sales Detlev von Platen.

THE CREAM OF THE CROP

From ultra-luxury to sleek and speedy, it was all there. A plethora of electric SUVs, some startlingly striking grills and a particularly interesting paint job are among the exhibits. The race to an all-electric future is more evident than ever, as startups take on their multinational rivals in a bid to attract eyeballs.

THE ‘HORSE-TO-CARS’ MOMENT

China’s policies are boosting a rapid move toward electric vehicles in the world’s biggest car market as new technologies emerge, Aston Martin Holdings Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Andy Palmer said. “This whole show is revolving around what they call new energy vehicles, but Chinese policy is very much driving the move toward electric cars and certainly Aston has to go with that flow,” Palmer said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “We’re probably in the biggest change in the automotive industry since we moved from horse to car.”

THE RED FLAG IS NOW GREEN

Xu Liuping, chairman of the board of directors of FAW Group, presents the Hongqi E-Jing GT electric concept car at the Beijing Auto Show.
MARK SCHIEFELBEIN/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
China FAW Group Corp., the car maker that developed the Hongqi, or Red Flag, limousine for Chairman Mao Zedong six decades ago, unveiled the E-Jing GT electric sports car concept at the show Wednesday. The sleek, two-door model was presented in a turquoise-green hue the car maker calls Kanas Green – a name apparently inspired by the Kanas Lake area in China’s northwestern Xinjiang province.

VW-TATA TAKE II

Months after calling off a planned partnership with Tata Motors Ltd., Volkswagen AG signalled it hasn’t shut the door on a tie-up with the Indian auto maker as it works on a strategy to bring budget cars to millions of cost-conscious buyers. Volkswagen, which has been long considering making affordable models for India, will decide on its game plan in the first half of this year, said Bernhard Maier, chief executive officer of Skoda Auto AS, part of the VW group.

BMW TO BUILD ELECTRIC SUV IN CHINA, EXPORT IT

Just as China’s trade relations with the U.S. are at their worst in years, BMW AG is laying the groundwork to start exporting from its biggest market to buyers around the world including North America. The car maker plans to begin producing its first all-electric sport utility vehicle, dubbed the iX3, in 2020 at its joint venture in China and will sell the model abroad, according to partner Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd. The concept was unveiled Wednesday in Beijing.

EVEN WITH NO MUSK, TESLA DRAWS A CROW

No media conference, no product launches, no appearance by Elon Musk – yet Tesla Inc. attracted much of the attention as China’s biggest car show kicked off. The car maker is participating in the Beijing auto show for the first time and surely a crowd gathered around a blue Model X, red Model 3 and white Model S. Tesla doesn’t manufacture in China, yet. The carmaker is widely seen as a beneficiary of the rule changes coming on joint venture partnerships.

NO ONE CAN DO IT ALONE, JAGUAR BOSS SAYS


While automobiles currently have a lot of driver assistance built in, they don’t offer fully autonomous-drive features, Jaguar Land Rover Chief Executive Officer Ralf Speth says. Governments, researchers and the industry need to collaborate across sectors to develop a safe technology. The company, which is teaming up with Waymo to develop autonomous vehicles, is testing the technology predominantly in the U.K. and sharpening efforts to make the roads safer with such cars.

A TRIED-AND-TESTED APPROACH BY THE JAPANESE

To conquer the world’s largest electric-vehicle market, Japan’s car giants are starting by playing it safe. Instead of betting on new models to lure Chinese customers, Nissan Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. are slapping electric motors on cars that are already doing well as gasoline versions. These include Nissan’s Sylphy sedan, and a plug-in version of Toyota’s long-time hit Corolla.

A $111,000 CHINESE ELECTRIC SPORTS CAR WANTS TO VROOM

Qiantu's electric-powered concept vehicle on display at the Beijing Auto Show.
ANDY WONG/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
The founder of Chinese startup Qiantu Motor is jostling for a slice of the world’s biggest electric-vehicle market, and says the race for leadership in the industry has barely started. The company is set to kick off sales of its 700,000 yuan ($111,000) K50 sports car in July. The battery-powered model accelerates from zero to 100 kilometers in 4.6 seconds and can reach a maximum speed of 200 kilometers per hour. It has a range of 365 kilometers on a single charge.

SEDANS ARE DEAD, YOU THOUGHT? THINK AGAIN

Whoever proclaimed the death of the sedan forgot to tell Chinese Lexus buyers. Toyota’s premium brand is launching the seventh generation of its mid-sized ES saloon into a market where sales of the model have almost doubled over the past two years.

MERCEDES TESTS APPETITE FOR MAYBACH CROSSOVER

Maybach was the first off the blocks, extending the ultra-luxury badge with a crossover, complete with a porcelain tea service embedded in a heatable ebony-wood tray. Aimed squarely at any billionaires perusing the Beijing show’s offerings this week, the concept model includes optional white nappa-leather lie-flat seats with massage and aroma-therapy functions. Mercedes isn’t commenting on when it’ll decide on offering the vehicle.

VOLKSWAGEN’S $18-BILLION TECHNOLOGY PUSH

VW is shifting into overdrive, bolstered by spending at its Chinese joint ventures as the German car maker seeks an edge in producing electric, self-driving autos. The partnerships’ technology investments in the next five years will total $18-billion, Jochem Heizmann, head of Volkswagen’s business in China, said Tuesday at a new-model presentation in Beijing.

CHINA LOOKS POISED TO LEAD THE AUTO MARKET

Chinese billionaire Li Shufu has catapulted from founding his Geely Group as a refrigerator maker in the 1980s to owning Volvo Cars, British sports car maker Lotus, London Black Cabs and the largest stake in Daimler AG – the inventor of the automobile. Now he is spearheading China’s aspirations to wedge itself among the big three of the global car industry – the U.S., Germany and Japan – so they become the Big Four.
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Porsche Doubles Target for Deliveries of Electric Cars by 2025



Porsche set one of the industry’s most aggressive targets for selling plug-in hybrid and battery-powered cars, predicting the vehicles will make up as many as half of its deliveries by 2025 in a sign the shift to electric models is speeding up.
The Volkswagen AG luxury brand is readying the all-electric Mission Esports car for sale next year, and has pledged to add variants such as a four-door Cross Turismo concept that it showed in March. Porsche is now comfortable setting a goal for electrified models to comprise 50 percent of sales, double the figure predicted last month, as wider offerings and Chinese policies power demand, division sales chief Detlev von Platen said Wednesday.
“The train for electric mobility has well and truly left the station,” von Platen said in an interview at the Beijing auto show. “China is and will remain the biggest market for electric cars for the foreseeable future.”

The quicker pace follows Volkswagen’s appointment of Herbert Diess as chief executive officer. The CEO has said repeatedly, including at the Beijing show on Tuesday, that he wants the world’s biggest carmaker to adapt faster to the accelerating technology shift hitting the industry. Porsche, VW’s most profitable brand by return on sales, has committed to a fundamental overhaul to sustain its industry-leading margins.

Electric Surge

China takes over to drive global growth for battery-powered vehicle
Banking on a three-pronged strategy of optimizing combustion engines, plug-in hybrids and purely electric cars, Porsche is already seeing customers respond. Some 60 percent of buyers of the updated Panamera four-door coupe in Europe are opting for the electric-gasoline version. The technology for the next generation of Porsche’s iconic 911 sports car will also allow integration of a battery that could provide an extra boost.
Porsche, which this year celebrates the 70th anniversary of its first sports car, needs to bolster returns as Audi, the division that’s Volkswagen’s largest earnings contributor, wrestles with the fallout from the group’s diesel-emissions scandal that erupted in 2015. That unit has lost ground in both sales volume and profitability to rivals Mercedes-Benz and BMW AG. Porsche and Audi plan to deepen cooperation to reap development-cost savings.
Under a new setup Diess outlined two weeks ago, Porsche will be grouped with other ultra-luxury brands, including Lamborghini and Bugatti. The latest attempt at streamlining Volkswagen’s unwieldy 12-brand behemoth, which also includes making engines for ships and power stations, will help bundle more synergies and speed up the rate of change, von Platen said.
Porsche’s global deliveries reached a fresh annual record in 2017, rising almost 4 percent to 246,000 cars. Rapid volume growth in recent years has been largely driven by adding the compact Macan sport-utility vehicle to the lineup.