Thursday, 27 June 2019

VW enters the car-sharing game with all-electric WeShare launch in Berlin

VW enters the car-sharing game with all-electric WeShare launch in Berlin
Volkswagen has talked a big game about the future of mobility, but when it comes to nascent schemes like car sharing, it hasn't really rolled out much. BMW and Daimler, on the other hand, are throwing down more than $1 billion to combine their efforts into a five-joint-venture Mobility Megazord. So what is Volkswagen to do? Well, it had better start playing catch-up, which it appears to be doing.
VW announced on Thursday that it is entering the car-sharing market with WeShare. Starting in Berlin, WeShare will only offer electric vehicles to people, going a bit above and beyond the average car-sharing service, which tends to have a mix of vehicle types available. It's starting with a fleet of 1,500 e-Golfcompact hatchbacks, and in the future, it will add 500 e-Up! subcompact hatchbacks. Then, after VW's upcoming ID 3 EV comes online, that will join the fleet, as well. In 2020, WeShare will expand to both Prague and Hamburg.
For now, the service is limited to a 150-square-kilometer (roughly 58-square-mile) chunk of the Berlin area, focusing on the city center and expanding beyond the city's ring train line. People looking to use the service need to have both a phone and a credit card, they must be at least 21 years old, they must be licensed for over a year and they need a permanent address in Germany. WeShare will cost 0.19 euro (about $0.22) per minute to start, but in September, it'll expand to three different pricing tiers averaging about 0.29 euro (about $0.33) per minute. Registration fees and airport fees will be waived.
Since the vehicles are electric, they'll need to be charged, which will happen on public chargers. To that end, WeShare is working with two grocery chains, Lidl and Kaufland, to add public charging points at over 70 locations for easier access to electrons. WeShare employees will collect and charge vehicles with low batteries, but eventually, VW wants to add incentives for people who charge cars themselves.
While VW might be behind in car-sharing compared to BMW and Daimler, that's not to say Volkswagen isn't exploring future mobility ideas in other ways. In May, VW launched its Inclusive Mobility initiative, which aims to ensure future methods of transportation are built with all groups in mind. The company is also working to test robotaxis and other services in China in the near future. And then there's Moia, the VW Group brand dedicated to ride-hailing, which spawned an electric van concept with loads of space for up to six passengers.

NIO recalls nearly 5,000 electric SUVs after battery fires in China

Leading Chinese EV startup NIO has recalled nearly 5,000 of its ES8 electric SUVs after multiple reports of battery fires surfaced over the last few months in China. SUVs built between April 2nd, 2018, and October 19th, 2018, are included in the recall and will need to have their battery packs replaced. It will take two months to swap out battery packs on all of the affected vehicles, the company says.
The issue is with the battery packs themselves, according to an investigation performed by NIO with the help of “industry experts,” the supplier of the pack, and “other concerned parties.” They found that a module in the battery pack was, in some cases, pressing up against a voltage sampling cable in the wiring harness. Over time, this repeated contact wore down some of those cables, resulting in short-circuits that led to a handful of fires.
NIO says it switched to a battery pack with a different structural design in October 2018, which is why the recall stops there. The company also says it will compensate “all users that incurred property losses in the incidents caused by battery quality and safety issues, in accordance with relevant laws.
“NIO would like to sincerely apologize to our users and the public for the trouble caused by the battery safety incidents,” the company wrote in a statement. “As a user enterprise, NIO takes quality concerns seriously and will always act with honesty and transparency. The company also wants to express our heartfelt gratitude to all those who have followed and cared for NIO during these incidents.”

Electric Car Charging Hassle Will Spur Buyer Resistance

The BMW Isetta 300 bubble car from the 1960s. Electric cars might need to be this small to be affordable and easy to charge.
Battery cars face many barriers to success, but the charging system is the biggest hurdle and this threatens to derail the whole European Union (EU) project to force its citizens into electric vehicles.
It’s not just the lack of public charging stations, but their clunky operation and unreliability. This is going to be a running sore with carmakers as they try and sell electric cars. The public is well aware that electrification will soon be upon them and it won’t be long before we're all thinking of buying them. Future buyers of electric cars will expect them to be just as convenient as internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. When word gets around that electric car buyers are wasting a huge amount of their time queuing up at charging stations, or finding the interface time consuming and opaque, sales will stall. As electric cars gain market share, expect to see scenes reminiscent of the 1970s fuel crisis as queues develop because of inadequate charging.
Experts like evergreen Bob Lutz, 87 now and a former mover and shaker at BMW, Ford, Chrysler, and GM, reckons that the EU might be forced to rescind its harsh rules for ever increasing fuel efficiency, to save the European industry from financial damage.
This negative view of battery-only car prospects is based in part on a week I spent driving an all-electric Volkswagen e-Golf. It was a fabulous car. The electric motor gives it amazing and eerily-quiet acceleration. The handling and build quality are exemplary. The range is only about 145 miles, but the e-Golf will soon be replaced by the VW ID range of electric vehicles with close to twice the range. The e-Golf is simply a regular sedan with an electric motor. The ID.3 will be the first of many VWs which will be built on engineering dedicated to electric mobility. The e-Golf would be perfect as a regular commute to work, (although it costs 33,840 pounds after tax - $38,500 -  and 30,340 pounds - $34,500 - after a government grant) but if you are planning anything more adventurous, beware.
I have an electric charger at home. It's a ChargePoint and works a treat, but I searched out the local charging network to see how it functioned. I live in Sussex, about 70 miles south of London. It is a prosperous area where the industry presumably expects to make big electric car sales. I’ve had electric cars in the past and used Zap-Map to pinpoint chargers. This has been chronically unreliable and suggested charger locations which often didn’t exist. This time the first supercharger station, which can fill the battery to about 80% of its capacity in 40 minutes, was at a local supermarket. The charger was out of order and closed. Ten miles north-west was another supercharger. I parked the car and phoned the number on the machine for instructions on how to connect the thing. I had an account with the company running the machine. After a 15 minute wait on the ‘phone I got through, and 45 minutes after that and numerous attempts, we gave up. It didn’t help that the screen of instructions on the charger couldn’t be read in bright sunlight.
Fifteen miles east for another supercharger. This one was owned by a different company and wouldn’t recognize my account and demanded I download an app and fill out a form with address and banking details. I declined, wondering why the machine couldn’t handle a simple credit card deal. As I was preparing to leave, another e-Golf drove in. The vehicle, emblazoned with ads for the car, was clearly on loan from a dealer. The driver, a well-dressed man in his late 30s with wife and baby, clearly assumed that “filling up” an electric car would be almost as easy as a gasoline vehicle. He approached the machine and went for the standard charger. I asked him how many miles he had in the tank – 20 miles - and how far he needed to travel - 80 miles. I told him if he wanted another 60 miles that method would take possibly at least 3 hours and he should use the supercharger. In those circumstances, even the supercharger taking about 30 minutes seems grossly inadequate compared with the less than 5 minutes and no hassle promised by the ICE method.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Tesla Raising Over $500M With Debt Backed By Vehicle Leases

The electric car maker recently started marketing $546 million of bonds backed by leases of its Model S and Model X vehicles. People familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that some of Tesla’s new asset-backed securities (ABS), issued to help finance the company’s expensive expansion plans and production of its first mass-market auto, the Model 3, are already 14 times oversubscribed. They are due to go on sale on Thursday.
Immense early demand for the bonds has enabled Tesla to reduce the amount it rewards investors for lending it money. According to Bloomberg’s sources, the Palo Alto, California-based company initially promised to pay as much as 2.9 percentage points over benchmarks on lower-rated portions of the debt. Later on, when Tesla realized that investors were clamoring to subscribe to its first auto ABS, it was able to cut that margin to 2.65 percentage points.
“It’s got the Elon Musk magic to it,” John Kerschner, head of securitized products at Janus Henderson Investors, told Bloomberg. “It just makes for an easier sale.”
Interest in Tesla’s auto ABS will come as welcome news to the company. Barclays analyst Brian Johnson reckons Tesla could burn through $4.2 billion this year as it ramps up production of its Model 3 car, making new funding crucial to keep the company afloat. (See also: Tesla Model 3 Production Estimate Slashed 75% at Cowen.)
In previous years, Tesla looked to equity, convertible bond and junk-debtmarkets to raise capital. Results have so far been mixed.
In August, the company’s junk-bonds plunged below their selling price, amid concerns about Tesla’s cash flow. In contrast, the electric car maker’s convertible notes have reportedly been popular with investors.
According to Bloomberg, Tesla is now keen to become a regular issuer of auto ABS. Bond investors have been forced to look further afield as fixed incomeyields shrink, with demand for debt backed by consumer payments such as auto leases proving to be a particularly popular alternative.

Chinese electric automaker BYD opens first plant in Canada

(Reuters) - Chinese electric vehicle maker BYD Co Ltd said on Tuesday it had opened its first plant in Canada, which will initially focus on assembling buses for the Toronto Transit Commission, a public transport agency.
The 45,000 sq.ft. facility is based in Ontario and the transport agency will receive 10 electric buses with an option for 30 more, the Warren Buffett-backed company said.
As traditional automakers withdraw from Canada, municipalities across the country are doubling their efforts to tackle climate change through zero-emissions transit, Ted Dowling, vice-president of BYD Canada, said.
Last year, Reuters reported that the company had put plans to open its first Canadian electric truck plant on hold but could revive the project when the electric vehicle maker sees a business case.
BYD had last year planned to open the site with about 40 workers, aimed at boosting green manufacturing in Ontario, Canada's most populous province.
The company is looking to replicate its Lancaster, California plant, which started with about 100 workers in 2013 and now employs more than 750 people.

BMW Drags Feet on Merkel's Call for German Battery Champions

Newly assembled BMW i3 electric automobiles sit on the final quality control line at the BMW factory in Leipzig.

BMW AG plans to increase sales of electric and plug-in hybrids by 30% every year until 2025 to help meet incoming stringent emission regulation in the European Union, prompting the carmaker to accelerate the rollout of battery models.
The German manufacturer moved up a goal for a lineup of 25 electric and plug-in hybrid models by two years to 2023, it said Tuesday, following plans by other carmakers like Volkswagen AG to keep up with tightening regulation. This puts BMW on a trajectory to sell roughly 700,000 electrified vehicles by 2025.
The quicker ramp up on electric cars will put the world’s second-biggest luxury carmaker on a trajectory to meet EU regulation by 2021 on CO2 and avoid fines, Chief Financial Officer Nicolas Peter told reporters in Munich.
“We will achieve them from my perspective, no doubt,’’ Peter said.
Carmakers in Europe are exposed to potentially billions in fines on tough regulations for carbon dioxide fleet emissions that’ll be phased from next year. Rather than falling, automakers’ CO2 emissions have been going up for the past two years due to demand for larger sport utility vehicles and consumers buying fewer diesel cars. Diesels emit about a fifth less CO2 than equivalent gasoline vehicles.
From 2020, much of the EU car fleet will be capped at 95 grams of CO2 per vehicle per kilometer driven. Currently, BMW sits at 128 grams, Chief Executive Officer Harald Krueger said.
The regulation is adding to a bevy of headwinds for the industry as it transitions into electric cars, while also battling trade tensions and a slowing global economy. To tackle the challenges, BMW has put in place a 12 billion euro ($14 billion) cost-cutting program.
BMW currently offers one battery-powered vehicle, the i3 city car, which it started selling in 2013. It’s adding an electric Mini later this year. The company sold 142,000 electric and plug-in vehicles last year, a rise of 38% to make up about 6% of total deliveries. Demand this year has slowed, rising about 2% through May.
Other carmakers have also increased targets for electric vehicles in recent months. Daimler AG in May said that more than half of its Mercedes-Benz brand cars would be plug-in hybrid or electric variants by 2030, while Volkswagen plans to sell more than 1 million purely electric cars by 2025.
BMW on Tuesday also announced it would only buy electricity from renewable energy sources from 2020 onward for all its locations. Separately, the carmaker said it has set aside between 100 million euros and 500 million euros in order to deal with Brexit.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Electric cars: Owned by few, subsidized by all

Imagine one day that your rich friend Becky FaceTimes you from San Francisco to show off her brand-new luxury car. Congrats to Becky! She works hard for a living, and she earned that brand-new whip.
But then, when collecting your next paycheck, you notice Uncle Sam took part of your earnings to pay for Becky's car. To make matters worse, the next time you go to fill up your 15-year-old sedan at the gas station, you notice an extra charge at the pump to help pay for Becky's fuel.That's not a fair system, but it's what's happening with electric-vehicle subsidies.Both federal and state governments have generous handouts for electric vehicles. The federal tax credit extends up to $7,500. Throw in state subsidies, and that figure can easily top $10,000.
Furthermore, utilities that stand to benefit from drivers plugging in for fuel are spending tens of millions of dollars on EV charging stations and billing the costs back to all ratepayers. And let's not forget, EV drivers don't pay any gas tax, which is literally highway robbery since the federal gas tax is supposed to pay for the Interstate Highway System.
Who's benefitting from this government-forced benevolence? The people who need help from other taxpayers and ratepayers the least. According to research from the University of California at Berkeley, 90% of the tax credits accrue to America's top income quintile. A May 2019 Congressional Research Service report found that 78% of the tax credit's recipients had an adjusted gross income of $100,000 per year or more.
Nearly half of all EV sales reside in one state: California. Count EV subsidies as another case of concentrating benefits to the elite and dispersing the costs among the rest of Americans.
As currently structured, the federal tax credit applies to the first 200,000 electric vehicles per manufacturer, and then a phase-out of the credit begins. Two automakers, Tesla and GM, reached that threshold and are in the phase-out stage. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) is leading the charge to extend a $7,000 tax subsidy for an additional 400,000 vehicles per manufacturer. Other policymakers want to lift the cap altogether and extend the tax credit permanently. Some iteration could wind up in a larger tax-extenders package.
The set-up of the per-manufacturer cap reflects an "infant industry" justification: to help a new technology with some taxpayer-funded training wheels, then let it ride on its own. Increasing or lifting the cap delegitimizes the original intent of the tax credit. Even so, the infant industry argument is bogus in the first place. As economist Milton Friedman said, "The so-called infants never grow up" because companies become dependent on the preferential treatment from Washington. Alleged temporary credits instead become permanent fixtures in the tax code.
In addition, the market already provides plenty of economic opportunity for alternative fuel technologies. Collectively, Americans spend more than $300 billion per year on gas. Globally, both the electricity and the transportation-fuels markets are multitrillion-dollar markets. That's more than enough incentive for an infant industry to turn into a giant (and quite quickly!) if they have a good product.
Any extension of the EV tax credit would be terrible for most American families. The extension would be massively expensive. The Stabenow extension alone could cost taxpayers as much as $16 billion over the next 10 years, according to a recent study by Ernst & Young.
And the direct cost is just a small part of the overall economic harm. Extending the tax credit would continue to take decision rights away from car buyers and perpetuate the federal government's authority to nudge consumers to use the technology or fuel source of its choice. Each time the government presses its thumbs on the scales of production and consumption, it disempowers car-buyers and obstructs innovation.
Besides, having captive ratepayers cover the costs of recharging infrastructure through higher electricity bills for all ratepayers makes no sense. Some states are requiring utilities to put forth plans to do so. Proponents of such spending initiatives argue that consumers won't buy EVs if they have no place to re-charge them, thus creating a chicken-and-egg problem.
But economically viable technologies overcome the chicken-and-egg problem all the time. Consumers wouldn't buy cell phones if there were no cell-phone towers. Cell phones used to be a luxury item 20 years ago, and now more than 5 billion people own them. The same can happen with EVs and charging stations if automakers produce cars people want to buy without help from Washington.
Polling consistently shows that EV subsidies are wildly unpopular, and the overwhelming majority of Americans don't even want to give a nickel to pay for someone else's car purchase. Extending the tax credit and increasing the cap would be an economic and political loser. Congress should pump the brakes on this cronyist handout that benefits the elite.

Friday, 21 June 2019

Mini will unveil its first electric car on July 9

BMW is no stranger to electrification, having released several plug-in hybrids and the diminutive i3 range-extended electric hatchback. Its budget brand Miniis in the same boat, as its current lineup does offer some electrification, and in just a couple weeks, we'll see its first electric car.
Mini announced on its website this week that the first electric Mini will debut on July 9. It will land in a fair few markets, according to Mini's site. Right now, preorders are open for France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. There is also a "stay in the loop" link available for buyers in Italy, Spain, the UK and the US.
We first drove the 2020 Mini Cooper SE, which will likely be the name it sports in production guise, back in March. The prototype we drove rocked the same sheet metal as the average Mini, albeit with bumpers lacking exhaust cutouts and a grille. The interior was covered, so we can't tell you much about it, except for the fact that it has an electronic parking brake. The battery pack lives in the transmission tunnel, so it doesn't eat into interior space, which is already at a premium in these baby Bimmers.
Mini hasn't divulged any specifics about the powertrain yet, but we do know that most of the electric running gear is plucked from the latest version of the BMW i3 electric city car. 60 miles per hour should arrive in between 7 and 8 seconds, and a DC fast charger will bring a depleted battery up to 80 percent in about 40 minutes.
The automaker only gave us a quick spin in the prototype, but it left us wanting seconds. It was nimble through the autocross course Mini put together, with some nicely weighted steering, easy-to-module brakes and -- of course -- plenty of all-electric torque that can be conjured up at a moment's notice. We can't wait to take a crack at Mini's EV once the camouflage comes off. Sales should start in the US by the end of the year.

North Macedonia firm plugs vintage minis into electric

SKOPJE (Reuters) - In Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia, a small light blue car, reminiscent of bygone Communist times, silently zips through the streets in the first major attempt in the Balkan country to produce its own electric vehicle.
It is the brainchild of Skopje-based BB Classic Cars, a local company which restores vintage cars and now converts some of them to electric ones with help from a government innovation fund partly aimed at promoting greener technologies.
North Macedonia, which wants to join the European Union where tighter emissions rules are due to come into force in 2020, is battling major pollution mainly from car emissions and heating coal. It is planning to introduce subsidies for purchases of less polluting or zero emission cars.
BB Classic Cars converted the supermini Zastava 750, an upgraded license-built Fiat 600 popular across the now-defunct Yugoslavia, replacing its petrol engine with an electric  one.
Milorad Kitanovski, director of the BB Classic Cars, said that the performance of converted Zastava 750s, originally manufactured in Serbia’s city of Kragujevac from the early 1960s until mid-1980s, is the same or better than the original.
“The engine has a far greater potential for a far greater performance and higher speed, but we limited it to 120 kilometers per hour,” Kitanovski said.
The converted cars are fitted with electric motors manufactured by Germany’s Kessler which also has a plant in North Macedonia. Kitanovski did not say how much the company invested to make the conversion.
The car has a range of 150 kilometers, while charging time is around three hours with a home charger, and only 15 minutes with rapid chargers.
“The cost of three hours of charging is less than 1 euro ($1.12), for the 10 kilowatts which is the battery capacity,” Kitanovski said.
The price tag is set around 20,000 euros ($22,568.00) and the company is mainly looking at international buyers, he said.
In comparison, Porsche Macedonia offers Volkswagen’s e-UP! and e-Golf electric cars for 25,000 euros and 37,000 euros respectively, according to a February report by the country’s MIA news agency.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

China's Father of Electric Cars Says Hydrogen Is the Future

Washington DC June 13, 2019; The AIADA newsletter reported that Bloomberg said the world’s biggest car market is set to embrace hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles the way it did EVs, Wan, who’s been called the father of China’s electric-car movement, said in a rare interview in Beijing on June 9.
A former Audi executive who went on to become China’s science-and-technology minister, Wan convinced leaders two decades ago to bet on the then-untested technology of vehicle electrification, selling it not only as a way to boost economic growth but also to tackle China’s dependence on oil imports and its mounting levels of pollution. His strategy -- using government subsidies to bring carmakers and drivers on board -- made China home to one of every two EVs sold globally today.
We should look into establishing a hydrogen society,” said Wan, 66, who’s now a vice chairman of China’s national advisory body for policy making, a role that ranks higher than a minister and gives him a voice in the nation’s future planning. “We need to move further toward fuel cells.”
That means the government will commit resources to developing such vehicles, he said. While China plans to phase out the long-time subsidy program for the maturing EV industry next year, government funding for fuel-cell vehicles may stay in place to some extent, Wan said.
Shares of some hydrogen-related companies rose. Jiangsu Huachang Chemical Co., which develops hydrogen pumping stations, advanced by the 10% daily limit on Thursday in Shenzhen. Shanghai Tongji Science & Technology Industrial Co. and Lanzhou Great Wall Electrical Co., which are both invested in the fuel-cell vehicle industry, also rose in Shanghai.
In typical EVs, lithium-ion batteries store electrical energy produced away from the car and use that to power the vehicle. Hydrogen fuel cells use a chemical reaction to produce energy, converting hydrogen stored in the vehicle into electricity, while emitting only water vapor. Hydrogen’s superior energy-to-weight ratio over a lithium-ion battery lends itself to longer trips.
Despite the backing of industry giants such as Toyota Motor Corp. and the benefits of fuel-cell vehicles -- they refuel faster and are more suitable for driving long distances than all-electric vehicles -- the technology hasn’t caught on amid expensive prices.
But China has the muscle to change all that should it make hydrogen-powered vehicles a national priority -- the type of turning point the industry has been waiting decades for.
For Wan -- a mechanical engineer trained in Germany -- the shift toward hydrogen is a natural step in realizing a vision of having electric cars dominate inner-city traffic, while buses and trucks filled with hydrogen tanks roam the nation’s highways for long-distance travel.
The adoption of fuel-cell vehicles has been slow in spite of China having an abundant supply of hydrogen, Wan said. There are only about 1,500 such vehicles in use there today, compared with more than 2 million purely electric vehicles, he said.
The U.S. Has a Fleet of 300 Electric Buses. China Has 421,000
It’s not just China. Hydrogen fuel cells have struggled to gain traction worldwide not just because of high costs -- one of the key components is platinum -- but also because of the lack of infrastructure and the complexity of storing hydrogen.

Then there’s the matter of hydrogen’s flammability, as evidenced by the recent fire at a refueling station in Norway.
“We will sort out the factors that have been hindering the development of fuel-cell vehicles,” Wan said.
Efforts are under way in Japan, which plans to increase the number of fuel-cell vehicles on its roads to 40,000 by 2020 -- though BloombergNEF estimates sales so far aren’t close to that target. In Europe, Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz unit rolled out a fuel-cell version of its popular GLC SUV. In the U.S., the California Fuel Cell Partnership is trying to promote the technology, with limited success.
Back in China, buses appear to be particularly ripe for fuel cells, which use a chemical process to convert hydrogen into electricity, emitting only water vapor. China is by far the world leader in using electric buses -- accounting for 99% of them worldwide last year, according to researcher BNEF -- but they’re mostly used in cities for short distances.
Hydrogen buses are capable of driving beyond 500 kilometers (310 miles) on a full tank, versus about 200 kilometers for electric ones. That presents a big opportunity because there are five long-distance buses in China for every inner-city one, according to Wan.

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Toyota join EV Market

TOKYO — Toyota Motor Corp. is gearing up for another run at the U.S. electric vehicle market, possibly starting with a crossover developed jointly with Subaru.
The two Japanese carmakers said last week they will jointly develop a dedicated EV platform and build a C-segment crossover on it that each company will sell separately.
The announcement was part of a messaging blitz by Toyota that it intends to amp up EV deployment and even introduce a solid-state battery by next summer. Toyota said it expects to get half its global sales — roughly equal to 5.5 million units — from electrified vehicles by 2025, five years ahead of the 2030 goal it had floated in December 2017.
Pure EVs are expected to account for fewer than 1 million of those.
Executive Vice President Shigeki Terashi, Toyota's r&d chief, outlined the road map in a briefing about Toyota's EV plans. He cited the "sudden surge" in EV popularization in markets around the world for Toyota's new plan.
"Progress has surpassed the target," Terashi said. "We have entered a new age."
To illustrate its vision, Toyota rolled out clay concepts of vehicles populating its future EV fleet. A new EV platform will underpin six variations for the global market. The line will consist of a large SUV, a medium SUV, a medium crossover, a medium minivan, a medium sedan and a compact car, the company said.
The concepts shown have a distinctive EV design, with long wheelbases, slitlike headlamps and camera-based sideview mirrors. Missing are radiator grilles; clearly visible was accentuated aerodynamics.
A day before last week's briefing, Toyota disclosed a plan to jointly develop an all-electric platform for midsize and large vehicles with Subaru, with a new EV crossover based on it. That vehicle will debut in the early 2020s with the U.S. as a key target market, a Toyota spokesman said.
U.S. plans
The last EV Toyota sold in the U.S. market was also a crossover and also the product of a joint venture — an all-electric RAV4 crossover developed with Tesla. Toyota pulled the plug on that production in 2014, ending the two-year project with the California EV specialist.
Despite the fact that EVs account for only 1.3 percent of the U.S. market, Terashi said Toyota can't ignore the U.S. because it is still the world's second-largest EV market in terms of overall volume.
Automakers sold 194,869 battery-electric vehicles in the U.S. in 2018, according to the Automotive News Data Center, compared with more than 700,000 in the world's largest EV market, China. Norway was No. 3 with sales of 46,000.
Toyota is considering other options for meeting zero-emission mandates in the U.S. The first, Terashi said, is introducing a next generation of the Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car. But Toyota also needs EVs, he said. The company is debating whether entries should come under the Toyota or Lexus brand, or possibly have a sporty character, akin to Tesla's, he said.
In the compact EV segment, Toyota is working with Suzuki and Daihatsu.
And as part of the new plan, Toyota expects to introduce an ultracompact, two-seat EV in Japan in 2020. It will have a range of 62 miles.
Terashi added that Toyota also wants to unveil a solid-state battery for electrified vehicles ahead of next year's Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The technology, which promises lighter, more powerful and safer batteries, could be a breakthrough in spurring electric vehicle demand.
"Wanting to make an effort is not enough. You really should be able to deliver," Terashi said.
"If possible, by the time we have the Olympic games next year, we would like to make sure that a solid-state battery can be unveiled to the public," Terashi said.
ZEV Factory
To achieve these plans, Toyota must accelerate EV development, partly in response to increasingly stringent emissions requirements in China and Europe. It plans to start making EVs in China next year on its way to releasing at least 10 battery-powered models worldwide by the early 2020s.
Toyota won't be abandoning the trademark hybrid technology pioneered in the Prius. It also aims to have electrified versions of every model in the Toyota and Lexus lineups by 2025.
But EVs have taken on fresh priority.
The new dedicated EV platform will be developed with partners and called e-TNGA, a play on the company's new-generation Toyota New Global Architecture modular platform. The EV version is an outgrowth of EV C.A. Spirit Corp., a nine-company consortium led by Toyota to develop and share components for electric vehicles. Other members include Subaru, Mazda, Suzuki and Daihatsu.
To better focus on EV development, Toyota created the Toyota ZEV Factory last November. It is an in-house EV division for product development and business planning with 290 people that takes the technology developed by EV C.A. Spirit and tailors it to the Toyota brand.
Terashi warned that it could be a long time before EVs are profitable by themselves.
A quicker road to profitability, he said, would be adopting a new business model.
The idea is to not just manufacture and sell the cars, but also to work with partners on wringing revenue from throughout a product's lifetime. That includes businesses in sales, leasing, sharing, peripheral services, used-car sales, battery reuse and recycling.
"Once those become viable, the [battery-electric] business will become viable, even if the battery price remains quite high," Terashi said, adding that a new approach was crucial. "Unless we work on this at a very accelerated manner, we will not be able to ensure our future survival."

Sweden's Electric Car Is Under Threat

Sweden's Electric Car Boom Is Under Threat From Power Crunch

(Bloomberg) -- Sweden’s ambitious plan to drastically cut emissions from transport by bringing millions of electric cars onto the road could be derailed by a lack of power capacity for new charging stations in major cities.
An increase in government grants sent sales of electric cars surging by 253% in the first five months this year, but the rally could be over before it’s really started. Demand for electricity in Stockholm and other cities is outgrowing capacity in local grids, forcing new charging networks to compete with other projects from housing to subway lines to get hooked up.
To reach a government target of becoming carbon neutral by 2045, the industry group Power Circle says the Nordic region’s biggest economy needs to add to about 2.5 million plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles by the end of the next decade from around 70,000 today. While many of these will be charged at home for shorter journeys, a network of stations for longer trips and professional drivers from taxis to delivery vans is also needed.
“To get people to take the plunge and want to buy an electric car they shouldn’t be forced to take long detours to find a charging station,” Tobias Henmark, head of the Swedish unit of Fortum Charge and Drive, which operates 740 fast chargers in the Nordic region. “Right now there is a tendency to cover up the deficiency by increasing the cost of capacity, and that would make it impossible to build charging infrastructure.”
The Swedish government has said it wants to halt the sales of all fossil-fueled cars by 2030 to cut emissions from transport by 70%. To be able to do that it is counting on significant electrification of private cars by further increasing subsidies after introducing a bonus last year.
“Above all, it’s in a rush,” Isabella Lovin, Swedish minister for climate and energy said. “Many of the cars being sold during the next decade will still be driven in 2045.”
For the rise in electric vehicles to be manageable despite the lack of power capacity, Power Circle suggests that owners should receive incentives not to charge and even send power back to the grid during morning and afternoon peak hours. If enough cars in the future are connected and willing to share their batteries with the grid, more electric vehicles would lessen the capacity problem instead of making it worse.
“Electric cars can make or break the grid,” said Johanna Lakso, chief executive officer for the group. “When we are about to roll out the infrastructure why not be smart about it and use it to support the power networks?”
Despite the big jump in sales this year, Sweden is behind its neighbor Norway when it comes to total numbers of electric cars. The oil-rich nation had more than 10 times as many such vehicles registered by the end of May, making it one of the biggest markets in the world. Lower taxes and other perks such as free parking and a special permit to drive in bus lanes have boosted sales.
Sweden’s total sales of 6,694 electric vehicles in the five months through May are tiny on a European scale. About 500,000 are expected to be sold in the region this year. Shipments rose by 40% in the first quarter, mainly driven by Germany with a third of all new cars, according to a report by BloombergNEF.
Still, less than 4% of all new cars sold in Germany and the rest of Europe was solely powered by batteries, compared with more than a fifth in Sweden and as much as 56% in Norway.
In Norway, an electric car will cost about the same as similar petrol versions as taxes are set up to level out price differences in favor of the more expensive battery-powered cars. In Sweden, even with a 60,0000-krona ($6,356) subsidy introduced last year, electric cars will still cost almost twice as much as petrol-fueled ones because general vehicle taxes are much lower.
While Sweden was still exporting more than 10% of its electricity output last year, its aging grid is struggling to ship the commodity to where it is most needed. Demand in the main cities has grown a lot quicker than expected. It can take as long as 10 years to build new cables and that means Stockholm is not expected to be able to significantly boost power use until 2030, according to local grid manager Ellevio AB.

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Arizona electric car subsidies benefit wealthy at expense of lower-income families

FILE - Electric Vehicle charging

Arizona's lower- and middle-class populations are subsidizing wealthier residents who take advantage of a state tax credit to purchase electric vehicles, according to new research.
The Ohio-based Buckeye Institute partnered with the Arizona Free Enterprise Club to conduct the research on electric car subsidies and their impact on Arizona taxpayers of varying incomes.
The result of their study was published in the report It
• More than 83 percent of electric car subsidies went to families earning more than $100,000 while less than one percent were used by households making less than $50,000.
• Electric car owners pay on average $500 less each year than non-electric car drivers for road maintenance.
• There is a charging station for every 12 electric cars in Arizona compared to 249 gas-powered cars per gas pump.
"After a comprehensive analysis, our research clearly shows that Arizonans are being overtaxed to subsidize wealthy owners of electric cars, which disproportionately hurts those who can't afford to purchase a new electric car," said Andrew J. Kidd, an economist at the economic research center within the Buckeye Institute. "Furthermore, if a new proposal by the Arizona Corporation Commission is adopted, Arizonans will pay more on their electric bills to subsidize the building of more electric charging stations."
In the research paper's conclusion, the authors recommend a more hands-off approach by government.
"Arizona, like all governments, should proceed with caution in this burgeoning area and allow the market for new vehicle technologies to grow organically with little interference from politicians and bureaucrats," the report concludes. "Future EV policies and programs would be well-served by thorough cost-benefit analyses that take a fuller view of the actual social costs and benefits associated with purportedly “green” vehicles