Thursday, 28 February 2019

More than 800 new electric vehicle charging outlets coming to New Jersey

The Chevrolet Bolt EV is shown on stage at the 2017

New Jersey will spend $3.2 million to build 827 electric vehicle charging outlets across the state, more than doubling the number of places motorists can go to recharge their cars, officials announced Thursday. 
The state will also spend $8 million to buy eight electric NJ Transit buses for the city of Camden, officials at the state Department of Environmental Protection said.
The money comes from New Jersey's share of the federal government's multi-billion-dollar settlement with Volkswagen after the German car manufacturer had installed "defeat devices" in diesel-fueled cars to falsify how much harmful emissions they were emitting.

Gov. Phil Murphy's administration has been criticized for diverting more than half of the $141 million last year to balance the current state budget. 
Despite improvements, air quality in New Jersey is still among the most polluted in the nation, according to the American Lung Association's annual report. 
New Jersey continues to get failing grades for smog, and transportation emits 71 percent of the state's nitrogen oxide - a main ingredient in smog. Transportation is the biggest producer of greenhouse gases in the state at 46 percent. 
The $3.2 million will be used to purchase and install outlets in 55 municipalities and counties, at NJ Transit train stations, public parking lots and garages, apartment and condominium complexes, car-share services, hotels, private companies and nonprofit organizations.
Of all public entities, NJ Transit is looking to is stall the most chargers with 53 spread out among eight rail stations including 10 for its Metro Park station, 3 for Wayne and two for the Meadowlands. A full list is below.
Rutgers is looking to install 50 at its three campuses in New Brunswick, Newark and Camden. The City of Passaic and Paterson are requesting 11 and 10 chargers, respectively, while a smaller town like Ridgewood is requesting one.
This is the first round of Volkswagen money for charging stations. Murphy said he would use $10.8 million of the settlement for electric-vehicle charging stations.
New Jersey has 786 charging outlets at 322 public locations across the state.

New EV Charging Stations

Below is a list of public entities requesting some of the $3.2 million to build new charging outlets: 
  • Borough of Bound Brook 
  • Borough of Fanwood 
  • Borough of Fort Lee / Fort Lee Parking Authority
  • Borough of Haddon Heights
  • Borough of Haledon
  • Borough of Keyport
  • Borough of Lake Como 
  • Borough of Leonia 
  • Borough of Maywood 
  • Borough of Milltown 
  • Borough of Oradell 
  • Borough of Paramus 
  • Borough of Red Bank 
  • Borough of Tinton Falls
  • Borough of Wharton 
  • Borough of Woodcliff Lake 
  • Bridgewater Township 
  • Camden County 
  • City of Atlantic City 
  • City of Cape May 
  • City of East Orange 
  • City of Egg Harbor 
  • City of Hoboken 
  • City of Jersey City 
  • City of Passaic 
  • City of Paterson Parking Authority 
  • City of Pleasantville
  • City of Somers Point 
  • City of Summit 
  • City of Ventnor 
  • Clarence Dillon Public Library 
  • Community Medical Center 
  • County of Bergen
  • County of Burlington 
  • County of Essex 
  • County of Hudson 
  • NJ Transit - Metro Park 
  • NJ Transit - Hamilton 
  • NJ Transit - Trenton 
  • NJ Transit - Princeton Junction 
  • NJ Transit - Meadowlands 
  • NJ Transit - Wayne 
  • NJ Transit - Greenwall 
  • NJ Transit - MMC/ROC 
  • North Hudson Sewerage Authority
  • Raritan Borough Environmental Commission
  • Roselle Board of Education
  • Rutgers University - Camden 
  • Rutgers University - Newark
  • Rutgers University - New Brunswick
  • South Jersey Transportation Authority - Farley Service Plaza
  • South Jersey Transportation Authority - Atlantic City Welcome
  • Center
  • Township of Bloomfield
  • Township of Cherry Hill 
  • Township of Egg Harbor 
  • Township of Lawrence 
  • Township of Little Falls 
  • Township of Long Beach
  • Township of Moorestown 
  • Township of Mount Holly 
  • Township of Parsippany 
  • Township of Sparta 
  • Township of Springfield 
  • Township of Teaneck 
  • Township of Warren 
  • Village of Ridgewood 
  • West New York Parking Authority 
  • West Windsor Parking Authority 

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Kia electric concept car for Geneva displays a 21-screen salute

Kia teaser

Kia is going to show an electric concept car at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show (we got our first look last week), and the automaker has revealed some interesting and even funny details about the car ahead of time. For starters, there will be 21(!) individual high-resolution screens in this puppy. The teaser photo of the interior is showing off a lot of them, but don't fret, there are still more in there somewhere. Kia isn't exactly serious about this kind of a setup; here's a section of the press release for you as an example:
"In a humorous riposte to the industry's current obsession with ever increasing dashboard screens, the concept features 21 individual ultra high-resolution screens. These curve their synchronized way across the top of the dashboard in a layout that's at the same time both casual and coordinated."

So yes, it's a joke. But it's still sort of incredible a concept like this one will exist. We don't expect 21-screen interiors to be reality anytime soon, especially when the folks who designed it agree that it's completely laughable, too. What comes next in the release is also a bit confusing.

Kia says this is its first pure-electric four-door passenger car — nothing wrong there. However, it then goes on to say it combines elements from "a muscular sports utility vehicle, a sleek and athletic family saloon and a versatile and spacious crossover." SUVs and crossovers are mentioned twice there, but this is meant to be a four-door passenger car? The teaser makes it look like the concept is much more car-like than a crossover, but it could be deceiving. A hint of black cladding is shown in this side profile shot as the closest hint to its intentions of being more crossover-like.

Another interesting detail here is the evolution of Kia's tiger nose grille we saw introduced on the Stinger. It looks like future Kia electric cars will have a "tiger mask" (ha) instead of a traditional flow-through grille. We dig the normal design itself on the Stinger, and the teaser itself doesn't disappoint. The car/crossover/combination thereof will be revealed in Geneva on March 5, so check back then to see the full concept.

Monday, 25 February 2019

In China, an electric car lifestyle


Chinese electric car startup Nio aspires to be the Tesla of China. To achieve that, its founder and CEO William Li wants his customers to feel like they're part of an exclusive club.
While reporting on the burgeoning Chinese electric vehicle industry for 60 Minutes this week, contributing correspondent Holly Williams found that Li is taking a particularly unique approach in his company's branding. He wants customers to know that Nio is a luxury car—and so much more.
"That's kind of a cliché," Williams told 60 Minutes Overtime in the video above. "A lot of companies that actually sell things, that sell stuff these days want to tell you that they're a lifestyle company. But I think with Nio, there's an element of truth to it."
Li's target audience is the new, growing group of upper-middle class Chinese, people who have had money for enough time to buy the things they want and are now focused on reinventing their lifestyles. According to Williams, Li thinks Nio can be part of that transformation by offering exclusive access to a social community.
To begin with, Nio offers its customers the Nio app. In addition to providing practical assistance to Nio drivers, such as dispatching a mobile charging station to revive a dead battery, the app also connects customers to an entire social network of other Nio owners.
Li has also built a handful of private social clubs called Nio Houses. Located in large Chinese cities, Nio Houses feature a car showroom on the first floor and a private clubhouse on the second floor, which is only open to Nio car owners. Nio Houses offer numerous perks, including courses on topics like flower arranging and espresso making, and private rooms where Nio owners can hold business meetings.
Li hopes that entry to Nio Houses becomes something of a status symbol.
"It's a place to socialize," Williams said. "And the idea is that Nio helps offer them a kind of upper-middle-class lifestyle."  
Williams admitted that she was initially skeptical of the Nio House appeal. But after speaking with some customers in the Beijing Nio House, she began to understand the allure.
Williams met Ben Cui, a middle-aged Chinese man who had just purchased a Nio SUV. Cui told Williams that he was eager to attend events at the Nio House—he wanted to learn how to make coffee, while his wife was looking forward to the flower arranging classes.
He also said he saw the Nio community as a way to make friends. In fact, Cui said that the social aspect is what ultimately convinced him to buy a Nio, rather than a foreign-made car.
The Chinese government incentivizes its citizens to purchase electric vehicles of any brand. Michael Dunne, a former General Motors top executive and auto industry consultant in Asia, told Williams the Chinese government waives the fee for the license to buy a car if that car is electric. In Shanghai, Dunne said, that license typically costs up to $13,000. The Chinese government also subsidizes the purchase of electric vehicles with up to $10,000 in rebates to keep the prices more in line with gas-powered cars.
Because domestic vehicles have no import fees, a Nio costs about $60,000—roughly half the price a customer in China would pay for a Tesla.
Li hopes the appeal of electric vehicles—along with Nio's exclusive social network—will be enough to entice the new Chinese upper-middle class to buy a Nio.
"If you are buying a car, you're not just buying a vehicle," Li told Williams. "You're buying a ticket to a new lifestyle."

Sunday, 24 February 2019

One EV Maker Is Offering A Unique Solution To Blackouts

Nissan leaf

Japan is extremely prone to natural disasters--tsunamis, typhoons, and earthquakes, to name a few--drastically complicating the already complex matter of energy security for the top five biggest energy consumers in the world. Japan’s government and energy industry are all too aware that any number of devastating natural disasters could easily wipe out the nation’s energy supplies, but now they may have discovered a new solution to this enduring problem.
Local government in Japan is looking into the possibility of using the type of batteries traditionally used to power electric vehicles to provide a dependable backup source of energy in emergency situations. A growing number of local government officials are reaching out to electric vehicle producers to strike a deal in which they would have free access to electric vehicle batteries in the event that traditional energy sources are compromised.
Luckily, the best-selling electric vehicle model in the world happens to be Japanese, not Chinese, American, or European as one might guess. As of 2018, Nissan’s Leaf had sold more than 360,000 units. Now Nissan has announced plans to host an event next month to showcase how their cars could be of use in the event of a natural disaster by letting people stay overnight in their vehicles as well as to tap into the electricity stored in the vehicle’s batteries as they would in an emergency situation resulting in power outages. According to officials from Nissan, a fully charged Leaf battery has the potential to power a standard Japanese household for up to four full days.
The idea is not a new one--back in March of 2011 electric vehicles were used as batteries to power aid stations and shelters in the wake of a massive 9.0 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami in the Tohoku region of Japan which resulted in widespread blackouts in Tokyo. Then, in 2012 Nissan competitor Mitsubishi signed an electric vehicle lending agreement with Kyoto Prefecture in 2012, before providing access to electric vehicles to communities in need after another huge earthquake with a 7.0 magnitude mainshock hit Kumamoto prefecture in southern Japan in 2016. Soon after, Nissan started promoting their electric vehicles as a possible backup power source in case of emergency in 2017, claiming that in the case that traditional power sources are out of commission for a day or two, as easily can be the case in the wake of a natural disaster, the power stored in electric vehicle batter
In two of the first accords of this kind, Nissan made an agreement last year with the Nerima Ward of Tokyo as well as with the city of Yokosuka to provide their electric vehicles free of charge to provide power in an emergency. Additionally, Nerima created a system for sharing privately-owned electric vehicles to other constituents in need of power during a disaster situation, and began using electric vehicles for its police force fleet starting last year.
While electric vehicles are gaining popularity and political interest in Japan, and local company Nissan continues to outsell all other electric vehicle producers with its Leaf model, they are a long way from becoming a plentiful commodity in Japan. In 2018, electric vehicles represented just 0.2 percent of vehicles on the road in Japan and about 1 percent of new vehicle sales, meaning that they won’t be a reliable source of enough backup energy for the entire nation any time soon. What’s more, Nissan’s days of electric vehicle sales domination are numbered. China is on track to eclipse all other producers in the very near future--in large part thanks to their near-total monopoly on the very same lithium electric vehicle batteries that Japan is putting hanging its hopes on for disaster relief.

Saturday, 23 February 2019


At Detroit’s auto show in 2007, they unveiled the Chevrolet Volt concept car, not knowing yet whether they had the technology to pull off a major breakthrough in battery-powered vehicles.

It took nearly four more years, but the first Volt — a longer-range version of a plug-in hybrid — rolled off the assembly line late in 2010. GM had hopes that customers would be ready for a car that could go 38 miles on electricity before a small internal combustion generator kicked in.
They weren’t. On Tuesday, the last Volt was built with little ceremony at a Detroit factory that’s now slated to close. Sales averaged less than 20,000 per year, not enough to sustain the costly undertaking.
The Volt wasn’t the first electric car, but it was the first to conquer anxiety over range at a reasonable cost. GM’s limited-range EV1 came out in the 1990s, and Tesla put out its 200-plus-mile Roadster in 2008 for more than $100,000.


The Volt was among the first plug-in hybrids, many of which can go only 20 or so miles on electricity and haven’t gained much popularity among consumers.
Yet the Volt did serve a purpose. It led to advances in lithium-ion batteries similar to those that power smart phones and computers. But such advances ultimately led to the Volt’s demise as GM and other manufacturers developed fully electric vehicles that can go 200 more miles per charge.
“While it was a financial loser, it did what was intended,” said retired GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, who shepherded the Volt into production. “We viewed it as a stepping stone to full electrics, which were totally out of reach due to the then-astronomical cost of lithium-ion batteries.”
GM now has the Chevrolet Bolt, which can go 238 miles on a single charge, and it has promised many more electric vehicles in the future.
The Volt did develop a loyal fan base, many of whom are upset with the company for scrubbing the project.
Richard Winters, a 65-year-old physician from Poteau, Oklahoma, said the Volt still is useful in areas like Oklahoma and Arkansas where electric vehicle charging stations are few. He bought his first Volt in 2016 for the 120-mile round-trip commute from home to the Arkansas hospital where he works.
He bought another one last year, a revamped model that can go 50 miles on electricity before the gas generator starts. Because he can recharge at work, most of his commute is done on battery power. Winters routinely goes 1,400 miles between gas station fill-ups, which he likes. And it costs only around $1 worth of electricity to charge the battery, he said.
Winters had always wanted an electric car, but like many, was afraid he’d run out of juice and get stranded. “When the Volt came out I was happy,” he said of its nearly unlimited range.
GM, he said, should have spent more to promote the car. “I’ve been really surprised at the lack of marketing,” he said. “I would not have an electric car if I did not have that gas engine.”


Originally, the Volt was to be a sleek, futuristic five-seat vehicle built to hold a battery and a new three-cylinder engine to generate electricity, said Navigant Research analyst Sam Abuelsamid. But because of GM’s financial problems, the project was scaled back and became a modified version of the Chevrolet Cruze compact car with only four seats and many parts from other GM vehicles, he said.
“They made some huge strides with that car, but it wasn’t all that it could have been and certainly not what they envisioned when they unveiled the concept,” Abuelsamid said.
Although it would be nice to continue producing the Volt, GM needed to stop making it due in part to changing consumer preferences for SUVs, he said. The company also lost money on every Volt, cash that is needed for research on autonomous vehicles and more advanced electric cars, he said.
“It’s not the right vehicle for the market today,” said Abuelsamid. “It doesn’t really make sense to keep it going. As much as you’d like to, it’s probably better to let it go.”

Friday, 22 February 2019

Tesla the next Amazon? Shareholder sees the stock reaching $4,000

 Elon Musk wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera: Billionaire Elon Musk, chief executive officer of Tesla Motors.
"Everybody is beginning to adjust for Musk... Having been a portfolio manager for many years, I know how to adjust to what different CEOs say given their personalities and their aspirations... The same thing was happening with Amazon for years. We were considered crazy, and yet now it seems so obvious. I think the same is going to be true of Tesla." 
That’s Tesla (TSLA) shareholder Cathie Wood of ARK Invest stating her extremely bullish take on the stock in a CNBC interview.
She said that her bull case for Tesla over the next five years is a whopping $4,000 a share. Bear case: $700. So, in other words, even if Tesla story gets derailed, Wood still believes the stock will double from here.
Tesla’s market cap currently sits at $53 billion. If the stock hits Wood’s $4,000 target, its valuation would approach $700 billion. Amazon (AMZN) , by comparison, is valued at $800 billion.
Amazon in September became the second U.S. company (Apple (AAPL) did it a month earlier) to break $1 trillion.
The CNBC segment follows a podcast Tuesday in which Wood and ARK Invest innovation analyst Tasha Keeney talked with Musk about Tesla’s future. Of note, Musk explained to them that the company should have the technology in place to operate vehicles without drivers by the end of the year.
"Everybody is beginning to adjust for Musk... Having been a portfolio manager for many years, I know how to adjust to what different CEOs say given their personalities and their aspirations... The same thing was happening with Amazon for years. We were considered crazy, and yet now it seems so obvious. I think the same is going to be true of Tesla." 
That’s Tesla (TSLA) shareholder Cathie Wood of ARK Invest stating her extremely bullish take on the stock in a CNBC interview.
She said that her bull case for Tesla over the next five years is a whopping $4,000 a share. Bear case: $700. So, in other words, even if Tesla story gets derailed, Wood still believes the stock will double from here.
Tesla’s market cap currently sits at $53 billion. If the stock hits Wood’s $4,000 target, its valuation would approach $700 billion. Amazon (AMZN) , by comparison, is valued at $800 billion.
Amazon in September became the second U.S. company (Apple (AAPL) did it a month earlier) to break $1 trillion.
The CNBC segment follows a podcast Tuesday in which Wood and ARK Invest innovation analyst Tasha Keeney talked with Musk about Tesla’s future. Of note, Musk explained to them that the company should have the technology in place to operate vehicles without drivers by the end of the year.

Daimler, BMW to invest 1 billion euros in venture to rival Uber

BERLIN (Reuters) - German carmakers Daimler and BMW unveiled a joint ride-hailing, parking and electric car charging business on Friday to compete with mobility services provided by Uber and other tech firms.
The luxury car firms said they would invest more than 1 billion euros ($1.13 billion) to expand the joint venture, shifting beyond manufacturing and car sales toward pay-per-minute or pay-per-mile systems.
Consultancy PwC has said carmakers face marginalization by cash-rich technology firms unless they develop services based on vehicle usage.
Established ride-hailing firms have been expanding. China’s Didi Chuxing aims to build its business in Latin America and Uber is gaining a stranglehold on its U.S. market.
“Further cooperation with other providers, including stakes in startups and established players, are also a possible option,” Daimler’s Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche said.
Daimler’s Car2Go car-sharing brand will be combined with BMW’s DriveNow, ParkNow and ChargeNow businesses, with both carmakers holding 50 percent stake in the venture.
The venture has five strands: REACH NOW, a smartphone-based route management and booking service, CHARGE NOW for electric car charging, FREE NOW for taxi ride-hailing, PARK NOW for parking services and SHARE NOW for car-sharing.
“These five services will merge ever more closely to form a single mobility service portfolio with an all-electric, self-driving fleet of vehicles that charge and park autonomously,” said BMW Chief Executive Harald Krueger.
BMW and Daimler are working to develop autonomous cars, vehicles which could enable them to up-end the market for taxi and ride-hailing services.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Model 3 leasing program could be a bad sign for Tesla investors

Tesla's Model 3 at the Tesla store in Washington, D.C.

A report saying that Tesla might be starting a leasing program for its Model 3 sedan could be a bad sign for investors in the electric car maker, according to one analyst.
The timing of the report could be a sign that the gradual expiration of federal tax credits for Tesla vehicles is hitting demand for the sedan, said CFRA analyst Garrett Nelson in a note published Wednesday. The reduction in the tax credits began this year.
"While TSLA has meaningfully driven down vehicle unit costs in recent quarters, we have growing concerns regarding top-line results due to combination of moderating sales volume, price reductions and mix," Nelson said. "Looking past the near term, we expect TSLA to face significantly increased EV competition starting with the 2021 model year."
Tesla responded to a report from news site Electrek published on Tuesday saying the electric vehicle manufacturer is planning a leasing program, but that it has not finalized the dates when it will begin.
"This is simply an internal document to ensure teams are prepared for when we eventually introduce a leasing option to customers," said a statement from Tesla send to CNBC, referring to the email referenced in the Electrek report. "No decision has been made about when Model 3 leasing will be available, but it will definitely be after the dates outlined in this document."
CEO Elon Musk also said on the company's fourth-quarter earnings calls that Tesla might wait until later this year to start a program.
"We've been reluctant to introduce leasing on Model 3 because of its effect on GAAP financials," Musk said on the call. "It is worth noting that demand to date is with zero leasing. Obviously, leasing is a way to improve demand, but it makes our financials looks worse. So we're not wanting to introduce that right away. We'll introduce it sometime later this year probably."
Tesla already offers leases on its other models, and it is common for customers to lease vehicles in the premium end of the car market.
Several manufacturers are either already selling electric vehicles or planning to release new models in the next few years. Some are aimed at the higher end of the market, where Tesla's vehicles are priced, especially the full-size Model S sedan and Model X SUV.
Musk billed the Model 3 as a relatively affordable electric car, and initially Tesla intended to sell them at a starting price of $35,000, much lower than the current price. Competitors are eyeing that end of the market as well.

Japan wants to boost the use of electric vehicles as a power source during natural disasters

Japan, a country which frequently suffers natural calamities such as tsunamis, typhoons, and earthquakes—which can often paralyze energy supplies—is looking to further harness the power of batteries used in electric vehicles (EVs) during such disasters, local media reported (paywall) yesterday (Feb.20)
Nissan, which produces the Leaf, the world’s best-selling EV model, plans to hold an event in March to let people stay overnight in their cars and try using the electricity stored in their car batteries to simulate the experience of being in an emergency, according to Japanese newswire Jiji (link in Japanese). A fully charged electric vehicle can supply power to a standard home for up to four days, a Nissan official told the news outlet.
The company last year came to an agreement with Tokyo’s Nerima Ward and the city of Yokosuka to provide EVs for free in emergency situations. Nerima also last year (link in Japanese) implemented a system whereby owners of EVs would be able to loan their vehicles out for free to those in need during a disaster, and also started using EVs for its fleet of police patrol cars.
Nissan explained the concept of using EVs as a power source in case of a disaster in a video it made in 2017. When a disaster hits, it can take more than a day to restore electricity, and during that period, EVs can be used as an emergency backup to supply energy for heating, cooking, and telephones, according to the video.

Nissan competitor Mitsubishi also provided EVs as power sources (link in Japanese) to affected regions after a huge earthquake struck Kumamoto prefecture in southern Japan in 2016.
Despite producing the best-selling EV model in the world, however, it may take a long time for EVs to become more widespread as an emergency power source in Japan, as they made up just 0.2% (paywall) of vehicles on the road as of 2018

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid will carry a price tag over $50k

The electric car revolution is coming. Is Arizona prepared?

Ford plans to woo electric-vehicle fans—and attract a new crowd to plug-in vehicles—with its upcoming, Mustang-inspired all-electric crossover, arriving next year, it’s the fully redesigned Explorer that will probably continue to do the heavy lifting for Ford on the family-vehicle front.
Put that way, the soon-to-arrive Explorer Hybrid version could do a lot of good. And Ford has just released some basic pricing information for the lineup.
There’s one hitch to that plan, however. At least for now, the hybrid version is limited to near the top of the lineup. The 2020 Ford Explorer Limited Hybrid starts at $52,780, including the $1,095 destination charge. It costs $3,555 more than an equivalent Explorer Limited in non-hybrid form.

The irony that's not lost on us is that, at least at its rollout, the Explorer Hybrid might carry a higher base price than Ford's promised performance-oriented fully electric SUV. 
It's also considerably more expensive than its closest rival, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid, which is available in its mid-range LE trim for as little as $38,265 in all-wheel-drive form (for 2019).
The Lincoln Aviator is the Explorer’s luxury-brand cousin; it will share some of the Ford’s underpinnings but get a higher-performance version of the hybrid system, featuring plug-in hybrid capability—and a much higher price tag yet.
The Explorer Hybrid will have a 3.3-liter V-6 engine, with a new 10-speed modular hybrid automatic transmission. There will be all-wheel-drive and rear-wheel-drive versions, and it will have unique 20-inch polished aluminum wheels with “higher-series” brakes. Tow ratings will be up to 5,000 pounds.

Ford says that the Hybrid will include active noise control, so as “to help make this the quietest Ford ever.” The Limited Hybrid also gets wireless device charging, a surround-view camera system, and leather upholstery.

With all-wheel drive, current 2019 Explorer models are rated just 19 mpg in their EPA combined ratings in base form or 18 mpg with the higher-performance turbocharged (EcoBoost) engine. We expect mileage ratings to improve somewhat with the 2020 Explorer’s 3.3-liter direct-injection naturally aspirated and 3.0-liter turbo versions, both with 10-speed automatic transmissions.
If Ford’s previously estimated figure of at least 24 mpg remains true, the Explorer Hybrid could get about 4 more mpg—or go about 20 percent farther on a gallon of gas.
Although that’s an impressive achievement, napkin math says that at 15,000 a year it could take more than 12 years to break even, based on current gas costs alone (a national-average $2.295 per gallon, as of Friday, according to AAA).

So far, Ford has made the hybrid system that star of its next-generation police-vehicle push, in the Police Interceptor Hybrid Utility, where it can provide strong pursuit performance but cut down on the idle time that’s so common for police duty.
Although it’s frustrating that Ford doesn’t have an economic hook for the Explorer Hybrid quite yet, pitching it as the quieter, better-performing model—that just happens to get better mileage, too—might well be the way to get more of these in family driveways.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

France to lift investment in electric car battery cells

PARIS (Reuters) - France will invest 700 million euros ($790 million) over the next five years into projects to boost the European electric car battery industry and reduce its carmakers’ reliance on dominant Asian rivals, said French presidency officials.

Advisers to French President Emmanuel Macron said he is set to make the announcement Wednesday night at a dinner of international carmakers representatives in Paris gathering for the centenary of the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers.
They were speaking anonymously ahead of the president's speech.
The German government announced last November that it has set aside around 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) to support battery cell production

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Tesla's Autopilot blamed by driver for accident, police say

A Tesla owner whose car crashed Sunday evening in New Jersey blamed the vehicle’s Autopilot, which he told police unexpectedly took over moments before the accident.
It was just after 6:30 p.m. when the driver, Eric Carter, of Hamilton, was heading north in his Tesla Model X on Route 1 in North Brunswick approaching Adams Lane, police said.
Carter told police he intended to go straight but the vehicle’s steering wheel suddenly pulled to the right as he approached the intersection. The wheel locked to the right, Carter said, and a message appeared that the car had detected a new lane.
"His feeling is the vehicle registered the turn lane and got confused," said North Brunswick Police Captain Brian Hoiberg.
The Tesla went off the road, struck a curb, hit some traffic signs and careened over another curb before it came to rest in a grassy area, police said.
The vehicle has "extensive" damage, police said, but there were no injuries.
Carter did not receive any summonses, police said.
A Tesla spokesperson told ABC News on Monday they "are not aware of a single instance in which Autopilot refused to disengage" since the system launched in 2015.
"Safety is the top priority at Tesla, and we engineer and build our cars with this in mind. We also ask our customers to exercise safe behavior when using our vehicles, including following the car’s instructions for remaining alert and present when using Autopilot and to be prepared to take control at all times," Tesla said in a statement to ABC News Monday. "A driver can easily override Autopilot by lightly touching the steering wheel or brakes. Moreover, the brakes have an independent bypass circuit that cuts power to the motor no matter what the Autopilot computer requests. And the steering wheel has enough leverage for a person to overpower the electric steering assist at all times."
Despite the name "Autopilot," Tesla's driver assistance technology does not make the vehicle autonomous. Tesla's website says the technology is "intended for use only with a fully attentive driver who has their hands on the wheel and is prepared to take over at any time."
Statistically, drivers appear to be safer in a vehicle with Autopilot than a vehicle with no driver assistance, the company said.
Data provided by Tesla in October 2018 said when Autopilot was active in a vehicle, one accident occurred for every 3.34 million miles driven. The most recent federal data indicates "one auto crash for every 492,000 miles driven in the U.S. without an autonomous assist," according to The Associated Press.
There were no witnesses to the one-car crash in New Jersey, police said. Carter is the only source of information.
While the department had no similar crashes on file, a police source said at this point “there’s no reason not to believe” the driver’s account. The source noted the absence of alcohol, drugs or any claim that Carter was run off the road.
Tesla has reached out to the North Brunswick Police Department seeking additional information, a police source said.

Monday, 11 February 2019

2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid earns 52 mpg combined from EPA

2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid debuted at the 2018 LA Auto Show, the automaker said it hoped that the EPA would rate its new hybrid at about 50 miles per gallon combined. Well, the EPA numbers are out, and the news is even better than Toyota had hoped.
According to the EPA's estimates, as spotted on Monday by Car and Driver, the 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid will achieve 53 mpg city and 52 mpg highway, for a combined rating of 52. That's a fair bit higher than any other trim of Corolla, although those are pretty efficient, too, topping out between 36 and 40 mpg highway, depending on trim and body style.
All that thrift comes from a 1.8-liter, Atkinson-cycle I4 gas engine mated to two electric motors. It produces a net 121 horsepower, all of which is sent to the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission. Its nickel-metal hydride battery pack lives under the rear seat, to avoid eating into cargo space. Like previous Toyota hybrids, it has an EV mode for electric-only operation, but since it isn't a plug-in hybrid, don't expect more than a few miles of silent operation in this mode.
The 2020 Corolla Hybrid is pretty well equipped, too, sporting an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, in addition to a unique 7-inch cluster screen that can provide tips for more efficient driving. Toyota's suite of active and passive safety systems, including autobrake and adaptive cruise control, is standard on every Corolla, not just the hybrid.
We still don't know how much the 2020 Corolla Hybrid will cost, but considering it goes on sale this spring, it shouldn't be too much longer before we find out. It wouldn't be obscene to assume a starting price at or just below $25,000, just to give you an idea of what to expect.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

How large China is as an electric vehicle market

They’re coming.
Bloomberg NEF colleagues often say that China is “half of everything,” such as aluminum, steel and copper consumption. For the electric vehicle sector, China is at least half of everything, if not far more, in three key areas: It represents 76 percent of all commissioned lithium-ion battery manufacturing capacity; logged 60 percent of global EV sales in fourth-quarter 2018; and held 50 percent of global public vehicle-charging infrastructure as of the end of 2018.
That helps explain just how large China is as an electric vehicle market, but a number of myths and misconceptions still drive much of the perception of the country’s role in electric transportation. 1  Let’s dispel some of them.
Two years ago, electric vehicles were about 1 percent of all vehicle sales in the world’s largest vehicle market — about the same as in North America or Japan, and about half the figure in Europe. By the end of last year, though, electric vehicles made up 7 percent of new vehicle sales in China, with a compound growth rate of 118 percent since 2011.
Five years ago, about 15 times more small, low-speed electric vehicles than normal passenger electric vehicles were bought in China. Last year, though, buyers picked up nearly 1.1 million normal passenger electric vehicles, compared to 1.4 million low-speed vehicles. It’s important to note that low-speed vehicles are excluded from government EV subsidies, and low-speed electrics are not counted in official government EV sales figures. Small and low-speed vehicles are still the majority of the market, but they are not the entirety of the market.
From 2012 to 2015, China’s main provider of charging stations was State Grid, the government-owned monopoly power distribution and retailing company found in most of the country. By the third quarter of 2018, however, State Grid was only the second-largest public charging-system operator in the country, with a network just half the size of private company T-Good and only barely ahead of another private company, Star Charge. Equipment manufacturers now own more than half of all public charging stations in China; state-owned grid companies own only 20 percent.
The national government forces everyone to buy electric vehicles.
There are numerous national support mechanisms for electric vehicles, including direct subsidies for purchase, industrial support policies, mandates and quotas for sales, and emissions and fuel-economy regulations for new car sales. However, local regulations — in particular city-level restrictions on internal-combustion vehicles — are a significant driver of electric vehicle demand. Six Chinese cities have major restrictions on internal-combustion-vehicle purchases. If we consider them their own markets, and exclude the U.S. and China as a whole as markets, these cities were six of the biggest electric vehicle markets in the world last year. Also important: Different local incentives for plug-in hybrid and pure electric vehicles have led to very different proportions of plug-in hybrid and pure electric vehicles sold in Shanghai (mostly plug-in hybrids) and Beijing (almost entirely pure electric).