Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Toyota Prius was once the eco-car darling. Now it's Tesla.

Move over, Prius.
Toyota  been slacking on developing its own all-electric car. It's reached the point that its hybrid Prius owners are defecting over to electric car company Tesla.

Recent comments from Toyota's North America CEO Jim Lenktz in Automotive News clued everyone in on how much of a pull Tesla has. According to the auto publication, about 9 percent of Toyota drivers jump to other brands, and half of those defectors are Prius owners going to Tesla.
The Prius is the closest thing Toyota drivers have to an electric option. It came out ahead of the EV boom back in 1997, but it's still gas-reliant. Toyota's electric lag is pushing eco-conscious drivers to vehicles like Tesla's moderately priced sedan, the Model 3. (It starts at $46,000, while a new Prius is upward of $23,000.) Prius sales are dropping. In fact, CNBC reported a 23 percent sales drop in 2018.

Back in August, Tesla CEO Elon Musk shared the top non-Tesla cars customers are swapping out for a Model 3: Toyota Prius, BMW 3 series, Honda Accord, Honda Civic, and Nissan Leaf. The Prius is a hybrid, while the Leaf is all-electric. 
Musk didn't give any numbers then, and we reached out to Tesla to see if they'd share any trade-in data. Because he did list the Prius first.
In that same earnings report, Tesla said it was outselling "mid-sized premium sedans" like the BMW 3 series, Audi A4, Lexus IS, Jaguar XE, and others.

The Model 3 is certainly popular, especially in California and Norway. As CleanTechnica broke down, at one point last year one out of every 22 car sales in the Golden State was a Tesla.

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Indonesia Plans Electric Vehicle Incentives for Foreign Car Makers

\JAKARTA (REUTERS) - Indonesia is finalizing a new electric vehicle (EV) policy that will offer fiscal incentives to foreign car makers, as it ramps up efforts to become a lithium battery hub, its deputy industry minister said on Tuesday.
"Our target is for 20 percent of all cars produced in Indonesia to be electric vehicles by 2025," Harjanto said, adding he had been in talks with Japanese and Korean car makers.
Indonesia, second largest car production hub in Southeast Asia after Thailand, plans to introduce a fiscal scheme that will offer tax cuts to EV battery producers and automakers, as well as preferential tariff agreements with other countries that have a high EV demand, the deputy minister told reporters.
"The lower the electric vehicle's carbon emission, the lower the tax will be", the official added.
"We are encouraging companies and investors in Japan, Korea, and internationally in general to get into the electric vehicle business at all levels."
Harjanto declined to name the companies in talks, but he told Reuters in December that South Korea's Hyundai Motor planned to start producing EVs in Indonesia as part of an around $880 million investment in the country.
Japan's Mitsubishi announced in mid-2018 it would work with the Indonesian government to research infrastructure that could accommodate EVs.
Indonesia, Southeast Asia's largest economy, has plentiful reserves of nickel laterite ore, a vital ingredient in the lithium-ion batteries used to power EVs.
Authorities are betting the country can tap into those reserves to become a major regional player in lithium battery production and feed the fast-rising demand for EVs.
Harjanto said construction on an ambitious $4 billion lithium battery project on the island of Sulawesi would be finished in 16 months.
The Morowali site, where the proposed battery plant would be located, currently has 20 nickel ore processing facilities that feed 1.5 million tonnes of nickel pig iron a year into a 3-million tonne-per-year stainless steel mill.
Involving investors from South Korea, Japan and China, the lithium battery project is emblematic of the Indonesia's ambitions, but analysts have cast doubts on how quickly the plans can be carried out as some of the required nickel smelter technology is complicated

Monday, 28 January 2019

Porsche’s New Electric Car Offers a Faster Charge Than Tesla

In the next decade, Porsche will spend more than 6 billion euros on electric and hybrid-electric vehicles like the Taycan.

Zero-to-60 times are shorthand for what anybody buying a Porsche is supposed to care about. But with the all-electric Taycan due out later this year, Porsche executives are talking up a less-exhilarating metric:  getting to 60 miles of charge.
Stepping into the world of electric cars is making even the most hallowed performance brands rethink how they market their vehicles, and Porsche is no exception. At peak, the Taycan will be able to add more than 60 miles of charge in four minutes, thanks to an 800-volt battery that can absorb fast-charging rates of up to 350 kilowatts. That’s quicker than Tesla owners can achieve at the company’s 120-kilowatt supercharging stations, which can bring batteries to about an 80 percent charge in roughly 30 minutes.

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Aston Martin Rapide E prototype with 800V battery takes first steps

Aston Martin, the company has opted to start its all-electric push with a limited production run of its high-performance, Porsche Taycan-rivaling Rapide E.
Aston Martin President and Group Chief Executive Officer Andy Palmer recently took to Twitter to share a milestone in the Rapide E’s development. Palmer’s Twitter post featured a short video of a first validation prototype moving on its own for the first time with its 800-volt battery system. The Aston Martin CEO’s video was brief, but the short clip does provide an idea as to how the vehicle looks and sounds like when it’s moving.
Considering that the Rapide E in the video is a first validation prototype, it is quite understandable for the vehicle to move in a very deliberate pace. That said, it is quite interesting to hear what appears to be an audible whine from the car’s electric motors despite the Rapide E’s slow speed. It remains to be seen if the audible sounds from the EV’s motors are deliberate, but it does provide the Rapide E with a rather unique “exhaust note,” electric motors notwithstanding.
In the comments section of his post, the Aston Martin executive noted that the Rapide E’s 800-volt battery is a breakthrough in electric car technology, since it gives the vehicle a “significantly quicker fast charging time than any current technology.” Palmer also hinted at “another piece of Aston Martin history” being made on January 21, though the CEO noted that it would remain a “tightly-held secret” for the time being.
In a previous statement to Car and Driver, Palmer noted that the Rapide E would cater to a market that is beyond the premium segment being targeted by companies like Tesla. With a limited production run of 155 vehicles, the Rapide E is targeting customers who desire cars at the top end of the market.  
“For me Tesla is a very credible competitor in the premium market, against Daimler, BMW, Audi, and the others. But they’re not in the (upper reaches of the) luxury market where we are. Most of the people who buy a Model S are buying it fully loaded. They’re not limited by their cash; they’re limited by the offer. They’re not a competitor of ours. We’re looking to those people looking for something above Tesla. That customer probably isn’t looking for Ludicrous mode. Our offer will have very credible acceleration, equal to a gasoline Aston Martin, but you’ll be able to drive the car rapidly all the way around the N├╝rburgring without it derating or conking out on you.”  
Overall, it would be quite interesting to see how well the Aston Martin Rapide E stacks up against the competition. With vehicles like the Porsche Taycan Turbo and a possible updated Tesla Model S entering the market in the near future, the luxury carmaker’s flagship car would have to be excellent in all areas to stand out from the competition. In this sense, Aston Martin appears to have done its homework.
To help the company develop the vehicle, the luxury automaker opted to collaborate with Williams Advanced Engineering, the R&D and consultancy arm of the Williams Formula 1 team, to create the Rapide E’s electric powertrain. Aston Martin also noted that it is using an “800V battery electrical architecture with 65kWh installed capacity using over 5600 lithium ion 18650 format cylindrical cells.” The vehicle also packs serious power, with “two rear-mounted electric motors producing a combined target output of just over 610 PS and a colossal 950 Nm of torque.” In a press release last September, Aston Martin noted that the Rapide E would feature a range of over 200 miles per charge under the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP).
Production for the Aston Martin Rapide E is expected to begin in Q4 2019. The vehicle’s price has not been announced by the luxury automaker, though speculations suggest that the all-electric car would cost somewhere in the $200,000 to $250,000 range. Reports have hinted that all 155 units of the Rapide E have already been reserved.

Tesla Supercharger attacked as vandals drill into charging plugs, partially sever cable

Tesla Model 3, the electric car revolution is steadily gaining ground. Across the auto industry, new startups are focusing on electric cars, and veterans such as Porsche are committing to a future powered by sustainable energy. Unfortunately, as could be seen in recent incidents surrounding the Tesla community, it appears that there are still some groups who are showing resistance to electric vehicles as a whole.
Last December, a number of Tesla community members shared their experiences involving Superchargers being blocked by gas-powered vehicles. While some of these “ICE-ing” incidents appear to be the result of an honest mistake, some were undoubtedly intentional. Tesla owners u/Leicina and u/BarcodeOfficial from the r/TeslaMotors subreddit, for one, noted from their experience that some pickup truck drivers who were intentionally blocking Superchargers were verbally harassing EV owners.
While such ICE-ing episodes continue to be reported across the Tesla community, an incident recently shared by Model 3 owner-enthusiast Mark Larsen showed what could very well be one of the most direct acts against Teslas to date. As noted by Larsen, a Supercharger station at St. George, Utah — one of the company’s older charging locations — became the victim of an aggressive act of vandalism. During the incident, the vandals attempted to sever a Supercharger cable. The perpetrators drilled into the plugs of the charging stalls as well.
As a result of the attack, the Model 3 owner noted that three of the Supercharger’s stalls became inoperable. Fortunately, there were some security cameras in the area. Thus, there is some hope that the culprits behind the Supercharger attack might eventually be apprehended. As noted by Larsen in his Twitter post, the incident has already been reported to Tesla. 
While Tesla’s electric cars are beloved by many, the vehicles themselves remain polarizing to some members of the auto community. Apart from ICE-ing incidents and acts of vandalism against Superchargers, there has also been a rise in reports of break-ins involving the company’s vehicles. In the Bay Area and neighboring cities alone, some Tesla owners practically felt as if they were being targeted due to the frequency of attacks against electric cars.
While responding to a Model 3 owner whose vehicle was damaged while it was unattended, Elon Musk noted that Tesla would be rolling out a ‘Sentry Mode’ as an added security feature. Musk did not elaborate on the capabilities of Sentry Mode, though it is speculated that the feature would extend upon Tesla’s built-in dashcam solution and leverage the vehicles’ eight surrounding cameras for video recording versus one. In true Elon Musk fashion, the name Sentry Mode appears to be rooted in pop culture, being a feature of Iron Man’s redundant defense mechanism for JARVIS.
In a recent comment on Twitter, Elon Musk noted that Sentry Mode should roll out to owners who are part of the company’s beta testing program in two to three weeks. Considering the pervading negative sentiments from the anti-EV community today, Tesla’s Sentry Mode would definitely be a timely feature.
There is no doubt that the electric car revolution is starting. Inasmuch as resistance against EVs is likely to remain, there is very little that can be done to stop the auto industry’s transition to electric power, particularly as key markets such as Europe and China have both committed to a future powered by sustainable energy. Among automakers, Tesla’s disruption with the Model S, X, and 3 has all but encouraged veteran carmakers to push the development of electric vehicles, as evidenced by cars such as the Porsche Taycan and the Jaguar I-PACE. As electric vehicles become more prevalent, and as more automakers embrace sustainable transportation, one can only hope that resistance against EVs would eventually fade and die out.

Friday, 25 January 2019

California police dept. adds Tesla electric car to patrol fleet, touts gas savings

A police department near Tesla’s main factory in Fremont, California, has added a used Model S electric car to its fleet of vehicles, officials said in a press release this week.
The Fremont Police Department said the Model S would replace a 2007 Dodge Charger in its car pool, noting that it was the only electric car that met its standards for size, performance and safety. The Model S will be modified for police use and equipped with a light bar, push bumper and other necessary gear.
The used Model S cost more than $61,000 after taxes and fees, as well as an additional $4,447 for police modifications. By comparison, the department said a Ford Explorer with required police equipment could cost roughly $40,000, plus modifications costs, as well as an additional $32,000 in gas costs and $15,000 in maintenance over a five-year period.
“The electric patrol vehicle pilot program is an extension of the [city of Fremont’s] clean technology and smart city initiatives to help make Fremont a more sustainable community,” Fremont Police Captain Sean Washington said in a statement. “Given that Fremont Police vehicle fleet is responsible for a total of 980 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, this program has the potential to eliminate 10 percent of all municipal greenhouse gas emissions.”

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Volvo Says Electric Car Unit Polestar Could List One Day


FRANKFURT/STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Volvo Cars, owned by China's Geely , could in future seek external investors for its Polestar performance electric car brand and list the unit on the stock market but has no immediate plans to do so, the company said on Thursday.
Germany's Capital magazine had earlier quoted Volvo Chief Executive Hakan Samuelsson as saying that Polestar could tap financial investors to help stem the costs of developing new electric powertrains as a precursor to listing.
However, a spokesman for the Swedish carmaker said that while Samuelsson had "discussed the benefits of making it possible for external investors to enter Polestar in the future", he had not confirmed any plans in that regard.
"(There are) no plans and no timeline for this; it was only a discussion around future possibilities," the spokesman said.
Carmakers are having to strike partnerships and seek alliances to cut the burden and cost of building new electric and autonomous powertrains, even as they grapple with challenges stemming from Washington's trade war with China and new emission regulations.
Volvo abandoned plans to list for an estimated valuation of between $20 billion and $30 billion in September due to trade tensions and an auto industry downturn.
When putting the IPO on ice, Samuelsson had said that Volvo had "other alternatives" to raise finance.
The company and parent Geely each held a 50 percent stake in Polestar since October 2017, when they agreed to jointly invest 5 billion Chinese yuan renminbi ($736 million) in the brand to fund its initial development of luxury electric cars.
The marque is looking to roll out three models by 2021 and hit a target of 50,000 to 100,000 cars a year.
It is gearing up to debut the Polestar 2, its first full-battery electric vehicle that it has widely touted as competitor to Tesla's Model 3, this quarter and also intends to launch production of its first car, the more expensive $155,000 Polestar 1 hybrid, by the middle of the year.

Growing popularity of electric cars drives revival of US copper mining

The country├ó€™s increasingly pro-mining policies are also fueling the red metal's industry revival. Pictured: A general view of the mine's construction so far
Once seen as a slowing option in the global mining industry, US copper deposits have quietly drawn more than $1.1billion in investments as electric car-makers such as Tesla rush for more of the metal.
And leading the way in mine expansions is Nevada Copper Corp, which is building one of four copper projects set to open in the country by the end of 2020.
One of the first to be opened in more than a decade, the Pumpkin Hollow copper project in Yerington, Nevada, is less than 60 miles (100 km) from Tesla’s massive Gigafactory, a closeness that one main investor said was a key factor for investment.
Getting there! Surrounded by numerous onion farms and the Sierra Nevada mountains, the Pumpkin Hollow copper mine in Yerington, Nevada, is set to open in 2020 and building work (pictured) is still underway
Stephen Gill of Switzerland-based Pala Investments, Nevada Copper’s largest shareholder, added: ‘The copper industry needs areas of good supply with low political risk, and that’s what we get in the United States’.
Surrounded by fields of onion farms and backed by the Sierra Nevada mountains, the Pumpkin Hollow mine will produce more than 100,000 tonnes of copper each year once it opens underground and open-pit portions are fully operational, which is expected to happen in phases.
The project has largely been supported by local residents as the state's economy has historically been linked to mining, however, some have opposed it due to concerns about water rights and native lands.  
Below we take a look at the construction of the underground mine with a remarkable collection of photos.
Finished! The main shaft station, pictured, has now been completed and will hold the material handling system. This will hoist ore out of the mine during production
Finished! The main shaft station, pictured, has now been completed and will hold the material handling system. This will hoist ore out of the mine during production

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Tesla Denies Signing Agreement With Chinese Battery Company

Tianjin Lishen Battery Joint-Stock Co., a spokeswoman for the electric-car maker said, denying a Reuters report that it had inked a preliminary agreement with the Chinese company.
“This is completely false,” according to a WeChat response to a query from Bloomberg News Tuesday. “Tesla previously received quotes from Lishen, but did not proceed further. We have not signed any agreement of any kind with them.”
Reuters reported that the U.S. carmaker signed a preliminary agreement with Lishen to supply batteries for its new Shanghai car factory in an effort to reduce its reliance on Japan’s Panasonic Corp. The companies had yet to reach a decision on how large an order Tesla would place, and Lishen was still working out the battery-cell size that Tesla would require, according to the report.
Panasonic plans to supply Tesla’s Shanghai factory with lithium-ion batteries, in what would be an expansion of their existing relationship, the Nikkan Kogyo reportedearlier.

Mercedes-Benz will produce electric batteries in Poland

Mercedes-Benz will produce electric batteries in Poland: PM

WARSAW (Reuters) - Daimler-owned Mercedes-Benz Cars will start producing electric batteries in Jawor, Poland, the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Tuesday, as the company looks to ramp up its investments into electric batteries in the coming decade.
“We are very happy that an investor that has been with us for a few years has entrusted us again and in the same place in Jawor,” Morawiecki said at a press conference, according to public news channel TVP.
Daimler is already building a plant to produce engines in Jawor.
Mercedes-Benz Cars board member Markus Schafer told the conference that the new investment would create 300 jobs and that investments would total over 200 million euros.
Daimler will buy battery cells worth more than 20 billion euros ($23 billion) by 2030 as it readies mass production of hybrid and electric vehicles, the company said in December.
The company is one of a number of German automakers expanding in electric vehicles as European regulators clamp down on toxic diesel emissions.
The auto industry currently has a range of different battery recipes competing for use in battery cathodes. One is NCA, or lithium nickel cobalt aluminum oxide, produced by Panasonic and used by Tesla.
Chinese manufacturers use a composition called LFP which has a lower energy density but does without cobalt, while Japanese carmakers use LMO, or lithium manganese oxide, which is used by Nissan and LG Chem.

Tesla reverses charging prices hike

Tesla superchargers

Electric-car maker Tesla has reversed a decision to drastically increase prices for its charging stations, following a backlash from customers.
Owners had complained the price rise - estimated to be around 30% - would mean electric cars risked becoming far less competitive than petrol ones.
The planned price rises will now be reduced by an average of 10% globally.
Tesla said it had listened to drivers and taken their feedback seriously.
Initially Tesla users were allowed to use its network of charging stations - called Superchargers - for free. That changed to a model that offered some free credits but since November 2018, all new Tesla vehicles have had to pay per use, unless they were bought with a referral code which came with six months of free use of Supercharging stations.
Recently chief executive Elon Musk said even the referral system was unsustainable and it was announced that prices would rise globally, based on local electricity rates and customer demand.
After complaints in its own chat forums and on social media sites, Tesla said the hike would be reduced by 10%, putting the average price in the US at $0.28 per kWh, according to website Electrek , which broke the news of the U-turn.
Electricity top-ups are charged per kilowatt of electricity or per minute spent charging in regions where direct sales of electricity are forbidden.
Supercharger stations are dotted around the US and other countries and are located near other amenities such as shops or restaurants.
Average charge times in such stations are between 30 and 45 minutes, according to Tesla. The charges are higher than consumers would pay to charge their vehicles at home, where the vast majority of charging takes place, but are useful for those on longer journeys.
Tesla plans major expansions for its Supercharger network in Europe during 2019, with Elon Musk pledging coverage will "extend to 100% of Europe. From Ireland to Kiev, from Norway to Turkey".

Monday, 21 January 2019

European Power Firms Aim to Harness Electric Car Batteries


FRANKFURT/LONDON/PARIS (Reuters) - Ever wanted to run your electric car for free? If you're open to a bit of give and take, then stay plugged in and your wishes might come true. At least that's what some European power companies and Japanese carmakers believe.
E.ON and EDF are already working with Nissan <7201.T> to develop services that allow power stored in electric vehicle batteries to be sold back to the grid - and now they're trying to persuade European carmakers to follow suit.
With millions of electric cars expected on European roads over the next decade, utility firms see both an opportunity to sell drivers more electricity and a risk that surges in charging at peak times could destabilize stressed power grids.
That's why E.ON is working with Nissan to develop so-called vehicle-to-grid (V2G) services, including software for aggregating and marketing charging data so the German power company can predict peaks and troughs in electricity demand.
Nissan's idea is that if you charge your electric vehicle (EV) at off-peak times and are prepared to sell power back to the grid when it's under strain, you could effectively charge for free.
French utility EDF has teamed up with San Diego-based V2G technology specialist Nuvve to build the first commercial-scale V2G charging network in Europe for vehicles made by Japan's Nissan and Mitsubishi <7211.T>.
Europe's biggest utility by market value, Italy's Enel , has also worked with Nissan and Nuvve on V2G pilots in Denmark and the Netherlands, as well as in Rome and Genoa.
The problem for the utilities is that unlike Nissan, the French and German firms that will make most of the electric cars expected on Europe's road in coming years are not playing ball - at least for now.
E.ON and EDF are talking to European carmakers about taking V2G seriously, according to two industry sources, but they are more focused on EV charging technology that the sources say is less suited to two-way flows than Japanese standards.
The other big V2G holdout is EV pioneer Tesla , which also sells large stationary batteries for home power storage. Tesla declined to comment on V2G.
The idea of using millions of EV batteries as large virtual power plants to put power back into the grid has been around for years though the concept is still mostly at the pilot phase, mainly because there are very few EVs on the roads now.
But its appeal to the power industry is obvious.
With a typical car driving less than 10 percent of the day, the rest of the time car batteries could be used to balance out demand and supply swings in energy networks that increasingly need to juggle intermittent solar and wind power.
That's the case in Germany in particular as it is phasing out baseload nuclear and coal-fired plants, unlike France and Japan which are sticking with nuclear to ensure a secure supply.
Jonathan Tudor, director of technology strategy at the innovation division of Britain's biggest utility, Centrica , said V2G will be part of the mix of technologies stabilizing networks - once more EVs hit the road.
"Winding the clock forward 10-12 years, if consumer behavior stays the same we will see thousands of people arriving home and wanting to charge up their cars at the time that is already peak demand for most countries," he said.
Alberto Piglia, global head of e-mobility at Enel, said as the EV market grows exponentially, there will be a tipping point at which there will be an explosion of related energy services. "We are preparing the world for this."
One major hurdle for the roll-out of V2G in Europe is that for now it only works well with the EV charging standard developed in Japan known as CHAdeMO.
The IONITY e-mobility joint venture, meanwhile, is focused on establishing the Combined Charging System (CCS) plug as the industry standard
But experts say the communication protocol between CCS chargers and EV batteries is not being set up currently in way that allows rapid changes in two-way information flows to charge and discharge electricity.
The network of 4,000 V2G charging stations it is developing with EDF in Britain and France will only be used for now with corporate fleets of Nissan Leaf E-NV200 utility vans and Mitsubishi Outlanders running on the CHAdeMO standard.
That's why Nuvve is also in talks with French and other carmakers about making CCS compatible with V2G.
China, the world's biggest market for EVs, also has V2G in mind. China's own GB/T standard is not well suited to V2G but the China Electricity Council struck an agreement with the Japan's CHAdeMo Association last year to develop a common fast-charging plug that should handle rapid two-way flows.
But at a time when global infrastructure standards for EVs have yet to be established, German carmakers are reluctant to give up on the technology they have invested in, nor cede too much control over their vehicle components to utility firms - something V2G effectively requires them to do.
Still, despite making little headway so far, E.ON hopes that the CCS standard will become part of the V2G mix.
"The technology for aggregation and marketing that we're developing at E.ON based on the CHAdeMO standard will also be applicable to the CCS standard," said Johannes Werhahn, E.ON's head of flexibility, renewables marketing and storage solutions.
OVO Energy, a challenger to Britain's "Big Six" power retailers, is also eyeing CCS as a market for the V2G charger it launched last year in a deal with Nissan.
"We are very close partners with Nissan but we do expect to work with other car manufacturers in future, including those that use CCS," said Tom Pakenham, OVO's head of EVs.
Centrica invested in Israeli EV software charging firm Driivz last year and said part of the deal would involve developing V2G technology.
"Once the software is integrated and we understand what needs to be done we will look to start trials, likely sometime in the next 18 months," Tudor said.
One catch for V2G proponents is that constantly charging and discharging is widely perceived to be the fastest way to shorten the life span of a battery - the most expensive component in an EV usually accounting for about a third of its cost.
Analysts say persuading consumers that V2G makes economic sense and doesn't disrupt their daily lives will be crucial.
Nissan, though, is convinced V2G will "change the rules of the game" once consumers can be offered a service that will effectively mean they can charge vehicles for free.
Japan's Honda <7267.T> also plans to incorporate V2G capability when it launches its first EV in Europe this year.
Nuvve's Poilasne said V2G could reduce the total cost of EV ownership by about 25 percent without ruining the battery, though earnings from grid-balancing services would be greater in countries with a larger share of intermittent renewable energy.

Sunday, 20 January 2019

VW’s chairman says even small electric cars aren’t going to be cheap

Converting the world’s automobile fleet to fully electric will be more energy efficient in the long run, but Hans-Dieter Poetsch, chairman of Volkswagen, warns that it’s not going to be cheap.
The auto executive tried to tamp down expectations that VW’s entry-level electric vehicles were going to be competitively priced with their non-electric counterparts, in an interview with the Welt am Sonntagnewspaper, published today (Jan. 20).“The current price level cannot stay the same if these cars are equipped with electric motors,” he said, according to the Reuters. “Therefore, it will inevitably lead to significant price increases in the small car segment.”
Poetsch also said the higher costs of small electric carts might make them unaffordable for people with low incomes. It’s a bit of strange comment from the leader of a company that is more and more tightly tying its future to electric vehicles. Volkswagen is set to invest $11.8 billion in China by 2025 to develop and manufacture electric cars, and make 50 million electric cars around the world.
In addition, prices have dropped considerably for electric vehicles in the past year, especially as China is poised to produce so many electric cars that the government is limiting manufacturing permits for electric car startups. In China, low-speed electric vehicles (that typically top out at somewhere between 25-40 mph) cost as little as $1,000 even without subsidies. Four-door models with near 200-mile range are beginning to debut at $8,680 in China.  In India, the 75-mile range Mahindra e2o costs around $10,000. And in the United States, a number of carmakers are starting to offer long-range electric vehicles for close to $35,000, like the $36,450 2019 Hyundai Kona EV, as federal tax incentives for EVs begin to expire.
Volkswagen plans to launch the first of its new line of electric cars, the ID, in Europe in 2020. It’s expected to be priced similarly as a fully loaded diesel Golf, which sells for between $35,000 and $40,000 in the US.