Monday, 30 September 2019

Genovation GXE Corvette set an electric car speed record

Several electric cars have been making the news recently for their high speeds and blistering acceleration. Now, a new record of 210.2 mph has been set by the world’s fastest street-legal, all-electric vehicle: the Genovation GXE, which also held the previous record.
Based heavily on the C7 Corvette, the 800-plus-horsepower, $750,000 Genovation GXE managed to reach a record 209 mph ahead of its release last year, but the automaker wanted to beat that figure.
The new run was carried out by Johnny Bohmer on a 3-mile runway at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and was witnessed by the International Mile Racing Association to record and verify the speed.
With five battery packs powering two 300-kW electric motors, the Genovation GXE boasts 700 pound-feet of torque. It also has a 170-mile range, can go from zero to sixty in under three seconds, and, according to Genovation, can reach 220 mph.
As reported by Motortrend, a few changes were made to the car in order to add that extra 1.2 mph to the previous record. The massive rear wing was replaced with a lower-profile spoiler to reduce drag, a smoother aero element was used instead of the chin splitter, and the diffuser vanes were cut at a steeper angle. Additionally, the rake was altered and suspension springs stiffened to stop the front of the car from dropping too far at high speeds, and the power was increased, though it wasn’t revealed by how much.
As you can see in the video, the car hits 100 mph very quickly, before going on to reach 210.2 mph—a record for a production electric vehicle.
It’s been an interesting few weeks in the world of high-speed electric vehicles, with Tesla’s Model S and Porsche’s Taycan both claiming the fastest lap times at various racetracks. We’ve also seen the Taycan do 0-100 on an aircraft carrier’s deck.

The Clock Is Ticking On Electric Car Batteries - And How Long They Will Last

You have to draw the line somewhere, so I’m going to choose 2012. That’s when Tesla started making the Model S in earnest, and the big battery packs that power it. Sure, there were electric cars before the Model S, but not many, and none I can think of that used packs as big or as sophisticated as the P85 and its stablemates. 
So 2012 it is.
Seven years later, how are those big batteries holding up? What can electric vehicle owners expect from them in the years to come? And what happens when they reach the end of their service life?
Plus an even bigger question: What’s next for battery technology?

The State of Charge

Recently, a thread appeared on Reddit where a user posted that his Tesla’s battery had shown only a tiny amount of degradation after years of service and 72,000 miles. He was an early buyer of the then largely unknown Model S (which came out in 2012), and he claims that since he purchased the car that same year, he’s only lost about two percent of capacity, which has resulted in the loss of just a handful of miles of range. Hundreds of comments follow with tales both similar and disparate, but the consensus seems to be that Tesla owners are not finding their batteries have deteriorated by 50% in five years like some naysayers were claiming would happen. In general, the opposite was true; Most commenters said their batteries only lost a few percentage points of capacity since new, with some saying over 10% had been lost. The original poster said his only real “battery care” guideline was to charge to 90%, not 100%, which Tesla and other EV carmakers don’t recommend doing unless maximum range is immediately needed for a long trip. But is the battery performance noted in the Reddit post - albeit all of which is unconfirmed - true of every Tesla, or all electric cars? The battery is one of the most expensive components of an electrified car, so how long can owners expect one to last? So far it seems like they are holding up, or Tesla would have a PR disaster on its hands. But the clock is ticking: Tesla warrantees its battery and drivetrain for eight years, which means some early adopters are coming up on the end of their warranty period. It will be interesting to see how those Tesla and other EV owners fare as the years and miles pile up.

Battery 101

Any “battery” is an energy storage device, of course. It does not generate energy, it just holds energy for use later. Modern batteries have come a long way in a short time. The changeover from 160 years of lead-acid batteries, like those that still live under the hood of most petroleum-powered cars, to the lithium-ion cells that power just about everything these days, is an innovation from the 1990s.
We have the popularity of cell phones and laptop computers to largely thank for pushing the rapid development of Li-ion batteries. Without the development of the lithium-ion formulation, much of the tech we now enjoy, from electric cars to smartphones to DSLRs to vape pens (and so much more) would not exist, or at least not in the convenient ways we have become so accustomed to and rely upon. Imagine running your smartphone on a half-dozen AAA alkalines. It probably wouldn’t last an hour, and the form factor? No thanks.
In an electric car, the “battery” is actually made up of hundreds or thousands of smaller batteries, usually the cylindrical type that look like oversized AA cells, sometimes called 18650 cells. They hold a lot of power, and in aggregate, can push a two-ton vehicle down the road for hundreds of miles at highway speeds. Pretty impressive.
But rechargeable batteries of any kind still wrestle with common problems: Degradation over time, which affects the ability to hold a charge, long charging times and myriad “best practices” that need to be followed to maximize battery life, even if those practices keep a battery from performing to its full potential. You know what they are: Don’t run them all the way down. Don’t get them too hot. Don’t puncture them!! Use only the approved charger/cable/thingie, and in general, don’t try to replace them yourself.
With electric vehicles, the checklist also includes not making a habit of fully charging to 100% all the time (80% is typically recommended) and not to run them down to zero, lest the voltage drop so far that the battery becomes damaged or “unrecoverable.” The reason is that such practices can accelerate the slow creep of degradation that limits how much energy the battery can hold - or even brick the battery, in terms of low voltage. And over time, the storage capacity only goes down and (so far) will not recover, along with a lessening of how much power the battery can put out at one time, which affects peak motor output and acceleration. Until at some point, it gets so bad it has to be replaced. Then what?

Recycle And Reuse

At present, there is no great organization around recycling used EV batteries. However, several countries, especially China, are not seeing this as a problem, but as an opportunity. Fortunately, lithium-ion batteries are recycle-friendly, and they can be made into... more batteries. Early indications are that it may be more expensive (and environmentally problematic) to “throw away” spent EV batteries, which often aren’t that “spent” to begin with.
When battery degradation hits 70 percent, most people are going to either choose to replace the battery, or replace the car. In either case, with 70% of the battery still working, recycling it makes much more sense than just lofting it into a pit somewhere, especially given the cost of the materials involved.
Batteries, given their tech pedigree, will probably follow the common arc of most tech products: They’ll get both better and cheaper as time goes on. And the recycling and disposal of the waste products will likely become big business, much as metal recycling is a huge industry today. That’s not to say all those things will happen automatically, but because batteries use fairly expensive materials, those seeking to recover the materials for profitable resale will continue to refine their methods, improving efficiencies, perhaps to the point where the issue of recycling the power packs becomes a major consideration in their initial design. At that point, EV batteries could come close to achieving a “closed loop” production cycle that requires a minimum of new material to make a new battery.

What’s Next (Maybe)

Last week, Wired noted that Tesla was filing patents for a new breed of lithium-ion batteries that could last for a million miles in their cars. The key appears to be a re-formulation or tweaking of the lithium-ion recipe. Essentially, an evolution of the battery tech we have now instead of a brand new idea. Will it happen? If the patents are granted, it might mark a new era in battery power. As you can imagine, with electric vehicles becoming more popular and the need for ever more batteries for our tech toys, the race is on to find a new battery formulations to replace the dependable, but ultimately limited capabilities of the lithium-ion battery. There are already some alternatives out there, but many EV makers and battery developers have pegged the solid-state battery as the holy grail of battery tech.
What’s so great about it? The solid-state battery could pretty much solve all known battery problems: As conceived, it would have enormous capacity, giving cars driving ranges over 1,000 miles easily. Charging times could be on par with a gas stop. With economies of scale, they could be inexpensive to make - and get cheaper as time goes on. They may end up being very light in weight, and due to their “solid” construction, very safe. 

The problem is, no one is quite sure how to make one that performs like the current lithium-ion cells, although there are plenty of players looking to solve that problem. Finding the answer could trigger a complete rethink of how we power just about everything that needs a battery - or liquid fuel. Such is the promise of the solid state battery. Numerous companies are dumping huge amounts of money into solid-state battery R&D since coming up with a reliable product could revolutionize the world in much the same way as the light bulb.

Friday, 27 September 2019

A Startup is Creating an Electric Car You Subscribe To by the Month

Electric cars are an increasingly popular way to get around, but what if you’re hesitant to buy or lease this new way to get around?
Torrance-based Canoo is a startup working on an answer: an EV you subscribe to!
The startup just unveiled their first car to the world: an EV by the same name, Canoo! It looks like a mix between a minivan and a SUV.
Inside, the backseat it feels more like a living room with seating for seven. Up front, there is a minimalist aesthetic.
One unique aspect of this car: there is no traditional dashboard display. You place your phone in the dashboard holder and it tells you everything you need to know.
"You buy a new car and the first thing you do is buy an iPhone holder because you’re most likely not going to use the navigation from your car manufacturer. You’re most likely not going to use the music from your car manufacturer," said Krause.
And, just like Netflix and Spotify, you subscribe to this car. You can't buy or lease it!
"Look at the young generation, they don’t want to own stuff anymore," explained Krause.

Thursday, 26 September 2019

auto insurance registration data in China may show Tesla sales surging

GP: Tesla China showroom Beijing 140709
Tracking sales in China can often be opaque but one analyst believes data on automotive insurance registrations reveals that Tesla has strong demand in the key market.
“Tesla’s deliveries to real, actual people are still rising at a triple-digit pace, despite being hamstrung by import duties, a flagging auto market, and a historical inability to tap EV subsidies,” Piper Jaffray analyst Alexander Potter wrote in a note to investors on Thursday.

Potter’s research found that electric vehicle sales in China are increasingly made by unidentified “mystery buyers,” as well as fleets. However, in sales to actual Chinese consumers, Pipper Jaffray says Tesla has been steadily increasing its market share.
The firm estimates Tesla’s third quarter deliveries – a closely watched measure of the company’s sales – in China are up more than 175% compared to the same period last year. Potter noted that insurance registrations are an imperfect way to calculate Tesla deliveries but defended it as a method, saying it still helps track demand.

Tesla shares rose 6.1% in trading to close at $242.56 a share. Piper Jaffray has an overweight rating on Tesla with a $386 price target.
Most of the growth in China is being driven by the company’s cheaper Model 3, Potter said, while deliveries of the higher profit margin Model S and Model X vehicles “have actually declined by nearly 25%” year-over-year for the months of July and August. Despite that drop, Piper Jaffray remains optimistic about Tesla’s future in China.
“Tesla’s Shanghai facility should be operational in the next few months/quarters, and once it opens, margins should rise,” Potter said. “Even in a market like China, where EV models are commonplace ... Teslas are among the only electric vehicles (EVs) that consumers actually want to buy.”
Baird analyst Ben Kallo similarly noted that Tesla’s factory in Shanghai factory is on track to begin making Model 3 vehicles by the end of this year.
“We think TSLA has been able to leverage lessons learned at Fremont and Gigafactory 1 to optimize the ramp of G3 in Shanghai; it took only ~9 months to construct, ahead of guidance,” Kallo said.
Kallo also pointed out that the production of both vehicles and batter packs at the Shanghai facility would help limit any possible impact from the ongoing trade war on Tesla. Baird has an outperform rating on Tesla, with a price target of $355 a share.

Tesla expected to report third quarter deliveries late next week

Elon Musk’s electric automaker is expected to report third quarter deliveries on Oct. 3, a metric Wall Street is closely watching ahead of Tesla’s earnings.
RBC Capital Markets raised its estimate for Tesla’s third quarter deliveries to a total of 97,200, from its previous forecast of 86,300. RBC, which has an underperform rating and $190 price target on the stock, believes stronger than expected sales in Europe are helping Tesla this quarter.
“We believe expectations for 3Q19 deliveries have come up, but a print [over 100,000] (which TSLA needs to average over [the second half of 2019] to hit low-end of guidance) should be well received when deliveries are reported within the first 3 days of October,” RBC analyst Joseph Spak said on Wednesday. “However, we continue to believe valuation is stretched with a lot of good already baked in.”
Kallo said Baird believes the company is setup to surprise to the upside this quarter. The firm believes Tesla may even report a new quarterly record for deliveries, above the 95,200 cars it delivered in the second quarter.
“We think expectations are low and believe shares could react positively if the company achieves sequential growth in deliveries (~95k +),” Kallo said.
Credit Suisse stuck to its below average estimate of 84,000 deliveries for the third quarter but said in a note on Thursday that it would not be surprising to see Tesla report strong numbers.
“That said, even if it meets consensus on deliveries, the question into 3Q EPS will be around margins + how the stock reacts with likely the first negative y/y revenue growth quarter since 2012,” Credit Suisse analysts Dan Levy and Robert Moon said.
Credit Suisse has an underperform rating on the stock with a $189 price target.

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

South Wales electric car charging points get £459k boost

A small electric car charging in London

Electric car use is being given a boost in south east Wales where five councils will share £459,000 of UK government funding for new charging points.
They will be installed in 33 car parks across Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Newport and Torfaen.
Blaenau Gwent cabinet member Dai Davies said support for renewable energy would help preserve the environment.
The charging points will be installed near residential areas where people have no off-street parking.
The government said this was aimed at overcoming a barrier to the take-up of electric cars, among motorists unable to plug in their vehicles at home.
Mr Davies said local authorities and their partners were helping support residents who were "passionate" about cutting their use of fossil fuels.
"We are delighted to be able to give them confidence to use electric vehicles now and for our future generations," he told the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
The Welsh Government and Natural Resources Wales are also contributing to the £636,000 cost of the project.
Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns said: "The next few decades will be transformative for our transport industry,"
Cardiff, Carmarthenshire, Powys and Swansea councils have also been promised money, although the sums have yet to be confirmed.
The scheme, which will provide 146 individual charging sockets, has to be completed by the end of March for the government money to be claimed.

Electric Volvo XC40 coming this October

Volvo promised a battery-electric vehicle in 2019, and gosh darn it, it's going to deliver. Next month, Volvo will pen a new chapter in the company's history as it introduces its first electric car to the world. The automaker said in a Wednesday announcement that the Volvo XC40 will serve as the basis of its first electric vehicle and detailed some of the structural details of the forthcoming EV.
While Volvo wasn't ready to show what the compact SUV will look like, we do know it's going to be a very different animal under the skin. The Swedish luxury marque underscored that its vehicles always focus on safety, and the electric XC40 will be no different. Volvo said it's redesigned and reinforced the entire front structure to compensate for the fact that, well, there's no engine there.
Meanwhile, the battery will be stuffed in the XC40 EV's floor and the images depict two electric motors -- one for each axle, likely to create an all-wheel drive system. The battery includes a safety cage embedded in the middle of the body structure, too, to protect it in the event of a crash. Essentially, the big battery gets its own crumple zone.
Moving to the rear, the electric powertrain is partially integrated with the body structure to better distribute forces felt in a crash.
The safekeeping doesn't stop with passive engineering. The XC40 EV will introduce a new active-safety architecture with radars, cameras and ultrasonic sensors. The software to run the entire active safety fleet comes from Zenuity, a joint-venture operated by Volvo and Veoneer. The Swedish automaker promises it's scalable by nature and will lay the foundation for self-driving car technology.
We can expect more details on the electric XC40 in the coming weeks before Volvo lifts the curtain on its first EV on Oct. 16.

Monday, 23 September 2019

Electric vehicle charging hub opens in Dundee

charging hub
Dundee has more than 130 electric taxis and the city council says its own fleet of electric cars and vans is the largest of any local authority in the UK.
The new hub, along with two more planned for the Bell Street and Olympia multi-storey car parks, will provide an extra 300 charge point connections across the city.
With more than half the population of Dundee not having a driveway or off-street parking, the aim is to allow commuters to charge at the new hubs during the day, with residents of nearby homes able to access them at night.
Ryan Todd, who runs a taxi business in city, said he started switching his fleet to electric vehicles because of the cost, but now it also makes more business sense.
"If I could run a fleet of electric vehicles, or a fleet of diesel vehicles, it would be electric all day long," he said.
"There's just so little that goes wrong with them."

Electric coach service

Fraser Crichton from Dundee City Council said the capacity of the new hub was allowing the council to look at other opportunities to increase electric vehicle use, including the possibility of an electric coach service.
"We have got an 800 kilowatt transformer here, so there's a lot of power," he said.
"That mean as there's an increase in EVs we can start increasing the numbers here. However, we still have a lot of power in excess.
"We are speaking to quite a lot of parties, but one of the real exciting ones that we are looking at is potentially a coach company starting from here. A pure electric coach, inner city, going to Glasgow and Edinburgh from Dundee and that would be the first in the UK."
The city council has said the uptake in electric vehicles has been so great that it will now start charging for charging.
Elinor Chalmers, from the Electric Vehicle Association Scotland, said it was not surprising that the "honeymoon period" was over.
"As long as it is fairly priced then at the end of the day it is still going to be cheaper than filling up your car with petrol or diesel," she said.
"People are doing less than 2p a mile - which you are not going to get any time soon with a petrol or diesel vehicle.
"It's been very nice having it for free, but this infrastructure doesn't pay for itself."

Saturday, 21 September 2019

Amazon and the All-Electric Future of Fleet Vehicles

charging station

 Amazon’s order for 100,000 electric delivery vans by 2030 into perspective. Today, FedEx uses 85,000 “motorized vehicles” to deliver packages around the world. UPS has around 123,000 package cars, vans, tractors, and motorcycles, including about 10,000 the company says use “alternative fuel and advanced technology.” One hundred thousand delivery vans? That’s a lot.
For proponents of electric vehicles, it’s a big opportunity—and not just for Rivian, the decade-old startup in which Amazon has invested, and from which it will buy the vans. Rivian, which has not yet put a vehicle into production, has a busy few years ahead of it.
More significantly, though, the deal suggests that fleets—delivery fleets, truck fleets, taxi fleets, ride-hail fleets—may be the key, or a least a key, to transportation’s electric future. That’s especially true in a country where just 2 percent of today’s auto sales end with someone driving a plug-in electric car off the lot.

Shifts in fleet purchases might show which way the wind is blowing. “Individual consumers are thinking through [electric vehicle purchases] as well, but they don't have a forcing function,” says Bill Loewenthal, senior vice president of product at ChargePoint, which operates a network of EV charging stations.
Other organizations are inching towards big electric fleet buys. Transit agencies are getting more excited about electric buses, especially in Asia. London is pushing Uber to go all-electric. Even the US Postal Service may get in on the act, as it looks to award a multi-billion-dollar contract for a new generation of mail delivery trucks. (The electric vehicle-maker Workhorse is reportedly a front-runner there.)
The scope of Amazon’s purchase will make its electric vans battery-powered tech ambassadors in many neighborhoods. “Hopefully exposure to technology, and people seeing electric trucks in their neighborhoods, will do a lot for the market,” says Jimmy O’Dea, a senior vehicles analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists.
But the impact of all-electric fleets could be even greater. Big organizations using electric vehicles—like transit agencies with electric buses, or delivery companies with electric vans, or even autonomous vehicle companies like Cruise—often don’t allow the public to use their charging facilities. (Cruise charges its testing Chevrolet Bolts in a San Francisco garage basement.) But some do, says Loewenthal. “Depending on the day, during the daytime a charger might be available to the public, and at night time that infrastructure will be used for fleets.” Charging stations cost thousands to install, so the support of big companies using electric vehicles in their fleets could make it easier for regular folks to top up.
Of course, this depends on where the vehicles will show up. If the electric vans only appear in cities like San Francisco or Oslo, where spot-the-Tesla games are already lively, their ability to expose new people to a new tech will be limited. Dubuque or Peoria, though, might be another story. Rena Lunak, a spokesperson for Amazon, declined to answer questions about where the company would use the delivery trucks.
The fleet purchase also sets a high-water mark for corporate fleet greening. One hundred thousand vehicles is, again, a lot, and other companies hoping to keep up with Jeff Bezos will have their work cut out for them. “Now everything is going to be measured against Amazon’s announcement, and I think that’s good,” says Camron Gorguinpour, a senior manager of electric vehicle work at the World Resources Institute. The purchase might also broaden law- and policymakers’ ideas about what’s possible: If Amazon believes it can electrify a huge slice of its fleet quickly, why not push others to do the same?

Friday, 20 September 2019

2020ers race toward an electric car future

Electric cars sit charging in a parking garage at the University of California, Irvine
WASHINGTON — You will drive an electric car, and sooner than you think.
That’s the upshot of the climate plans coming out of the 2020 Democratic field. Several candidates are calling for phasing out sales of fossil fuel-burning vehicles within the next two decades and would encourage the shift with hundreds of billions of dollars for research, consumer incentives and charging infrastructure.
Following the lead of Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a former 2020 contender, many candidates have set a target date for, at minimum, requiring all new passenger vehicles be zero-emission: Sen. Kamala Harris of California and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg put it at 2035, for example, while Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts aim for 2030.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has an even more ambitious goal: moving the entire transportation sector to zero-emissions vehicles by 2030 through hundreds of billions of dollars in incentives to trade in old cars and trucks.
“We are all going to love driving our electric cars,” entrepreneur and 2020 contender Andrew Yang said at a CNN climate forum. He's suggested a voluntary buyback program for fossil-fueled cars.
The candidates' approaches set up a general election clash with President Donald Trump, who has mocked electric cars and taken steps to deregulate the industry to allow vehicles to pollute more even as automakers increasingly bank on a battery-powered future — with or without his support.

The Democratic proposals reflect the party’s bolder approach in 2020, animated by activism around the Green New Deal, but also by the brutal math of climate change. Getting to zero-emissions around the world by 2050, which the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says is necessary to limit global warming to a 1.5 degree Celsius increase in temperature (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), requires moving past fossil-fuel burning vehicles. They make up about 29 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.
“When we look at the pollution reductions we need, transportation is the largest source of emissions out of any sector of the U.S. economy,” Don Anair, who manages research on clean vehicles at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told NBC News. “It’s critical to tackling climate change.”
But for Democrats, the politics of mandating the trend ahead of the U.N. panel's recommended schedule could be tricky as Republicans look to portray their opponents as virtue-signaling scolds who want to tell voters how to live and eat. Opposition to enviro-friendly paper straws has already become a rallying cry for conservatives in 2020. The Trump campaign even sells plastic ones on its website with the pitch "liberal paper straws don't work."
But straws, unlike cars, are mostly irrelevant to stopping climate change — and they're not ingrained in the American identity in a way that slots perfectly into a culture war. Nobody ever said the perfect country and western song has to have a straw in it, but they have said that about trucks.
Even before the latest Democratic proposals, Trump spent months deriding electric cars as part of a broader denunciation of the Green New Deal and similar efforts.
“They want you to have one car instead of two, and it should be electric, OK?” the president said in a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference this year. At another event, in Michigan, he did an impression of a husband asking his wife, “Darling, where do I get a charge?” after running out of juice on the road.
“In theory, people want to be more sustainable,” Republican strategist Matt Gorman told NBC News. “When you get into practice, that’s when the rubber meets the road and it can get troublesome very quickly.”
Public polling has shown the Green New Deal and related climate proposals are relatively popular. But a poll by the left-leaning think tank Data for Progress in March also found that requiring new cars to be electric by 2030 was the least popular environmental policy they tested, with voters opposing it by 15-point margin.
“We live in a ‘car-triarchy,’” the think tank's founder, Sean McElwee, told NBC News. “This has been pretty consistent in the polling we’ve done.”
Democrats have one big advantage, however: The industry is already preparing for something like a post-Green New Deal world. While electric vehicles made up just over 1 percent of American sales in 2018, with Tesla dominating the market, major automakers are planning to roll out an array of electric vehicles in the coming years.
Industry analysts see a potential tipping point in the next few years as battery technology improves and allows the cost of new electric cars to drop below gas-powered ones. General Motors CEO Mary Barra declared last year that the company’s future is “zero emissions” — an announcement that drew a rebuke from Trump. Volkswagen plans to launch nearly 70 electric car models over the next decade.
“The overall automotive sector globally is progressively moving toward electric vehicles,” Scott Shepard, a London-based auto industry analyst for Navigant Consulting Inc., said. “The main triggers for that are regulatory policies.”
To McElwee, this creates an opportunity for Democrats. A progressive White House might spur electric vehicles with policy, but it's automakers who will be making the strongest case to the public with a marketing budget that dwarfs political spending.
“There is a sort of sense of electric vehicles now as these coastal-elite-type things,” McElwee said. “That’s the kind of thing an advertising campaign would be designed to solve.”
There are signs this is starting to happen. As companies get ready to unveil more electric models aimed at broader markets, they're pitching customers on potential upsides like no more gas costs, easier maintenance and more responsive handling rather than depicting the vehicles as a sacrifice to save the planet.
Ford, for example, is preparing customers for a pivot with a campaign to counter “myths” about new electric vehicles like its upcoming Mustang-inspired SUV. It recently put out a video of an electric prototype version of its iconic F-150 pickup truck hauling more than 1 million pounds of freight, countering the image of electric vehicles as an urban commuter phenomenon.
This helps explain the unusual dynamic of the Trump administration trying to loosen regulations to allow cars to burn more gasoline only to get pushback from the same auto companies that would supposedly benefit from the change.
Trump has raged on Twitter about the move recently, and his administration has launched an antitrust inquiry into four automakers who came to an agreement with regulators in California — the center of the electric-vehicle boom — on stricter mileage standards.
On Wednesday, Trump announced his administration is revoking California's authority to set its own vehicle emissions standards, which effectively required automakers to produce zero-emissions vehicles — a widely anticipated move that came as the administration also prepares to roll back the strict Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards set under President Barack Obama.
But it’s not just American regulatory issues that car companies have to think about. France and the United Kingdom are planning to phase out sales of gas and diesel vehicles by 2040. China is making a big push to build out its own electric car industry, and India’s government is aggressively pursuing a transition as well. Norway wants to phase out fossil-fuel vehicles by 2025, and it's making rapid progress: About 60 percent of new car sales were electric in March.
Getting too far behind the times could mean not being able to sell cars in major markets around the world.
There’s still skepticism about how quickly electric vehicles could replace gas-powered ones in America. Brett Smith, a director at the Center for Automotive Research, said he’s seen predictions in the past of a “hockey stick” effect, where customers suddenly flock to electric vehicles at an exponential pace.
“It’s never come,” Smith said. “But this is the first time where I see the automotive industry putting unimaginable amounts of money into it.”
The transition requires convincing customers not used to electric vehicles to adopt a new way of thinking about energy, one in which they mostly keep their car topped off with a charging station at home or work. Experts also say a psychological roadblock remains for people worried they won’t be able to find a charging station on a long trip or will be stuck for a long time waiting for batteries to recharge, especially in rural areas.
This is where Democratic proposals could make a big dent in the timeline for adopting electric vehicles. Virtually all the front-runners in the polls, including candidates like former Vice President Joe Biden who have not proposed a firm date for phasing out fossil-fueled cars, have plans to spend billions of dollars on new charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. Expanding tax credits for purchases of the vehicles could also encourage people to switch.
“The economic case is very likely to tip to electric vehicles soon,” said Anair, of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “The next step is charging support and what state and federal policies can put into the market.”
In the end, the ability of Democrats to win the political argument over electric cars might come down to whether customers like the product.
“With paper straws, it was a case where people abruptly changed to it, and it’s just plainly not a good product,” Gorman, the Republican strategist, said. “With cars, they need to continue to find a way to make it as seamless as possible for people to do it.”

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Florida utility to install 1K electric car charging stations

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Florida Power & Light plans to install 1,000 electric-charging stations at 100 locations across the state.
The utility’s announcement Wednesday says the stations would be located on major roadways, public parks, shopping malls, tourist destinations and at major employers, such as Office Depot in Boca Raton.
FPL spokeswoman Alys Daly tells the South Florida SunSentinel she didn’t have a cost estimate. The charging stations would go through regulatory approval in Tallahassee as part of a future cost-recovery filing with the Florida Public Service Commission.
The company’s chargers are universal, compatible with all electric cars, as well as plug-in hybrids.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Electric dominates Frankfurt

a person standing in front of a blue car: (File pix) The Mercedes-Benz VISION EQS, presented by Ola Källenius, chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz. Courtesy Photoi
TOP automakers have given a peek at their electric model plans at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA 2019) against the backdrop of industry concerns over the US-China trade tensions.
The likes of Daimler AG, through unit Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen AG, showed off their sleek electric vehicles (EVs) with the industry undergoing a radical overhaul as the end of the combustion-engine era looms.
The geopolical volatility adds another layer of uncertainty to the industry and Daimler is one of the first car manufacturers to warn of the growing headwinds from the US-China trade spat.
Taking the limelight at the IAA 2019 media preview on Tuesday prior to the show’s public opening was the world premiere of Mercedes’ Vision EQS.
The sleek Vision EQS is a glimpse of what a large luxury sedan from the world’s No. 1 luxury car company will look like in the near future.
It is essentially the S-Class of the future. It is Mercedes’ first big step towards the vision of making its cars CO2-neutral by 2039.
The Vision, which is built upon the Mercedes EQC, the carmaker’s first production electric vehicle, boasts an elegant yet dynamic exterior design with highly crafted and sustainable luxury inside.
This electric car sprints from standstill to 100km in just under 4.5 seconds, while boasting 350 kilowatt of output and 760 Nm of torque.
Vision EQS can recharge from 0-80 per cent in less than 20 minutes. When fully charged, it can cover a range of up to 750km.
Mercedes did not say when Vision EQS would be on sale but outlined plans to roll out at least 10 purely electric cars in the coming years.
Other attractions at the sprawling Mercedes booth are the EQV, an electric version of the brand’s V-class passenger van, and plug-in hybrid versions of its compact line-up such as the A250e hatchback, A250e sedan and B250e minivan.
The GLB compact SUV also made its first-show debut since being unveiled in June.
At separate halls, Volkswagen and its luxury car arm, Audi, are showcasing their new line-up of possible challengers to Mercedes’ electric models.
Volkswagen’s long-awaited ID.3 compact electric car made its debut just before deliveries were scheduled to begin in Europe.
The ID.3 is Volkswagen’s first EV to use the MEB electric car platform, a key part in its goal to sell one million EVs a year by 2025.
Audi features its AI:Trail concept vehicle, a possible electric SUV with off-road capability, and an RS6 performance version of the A6.
Two big news events at the show were the launch of Porsche’s first electric sports car called Taycan (pronounced Tie-can) and the return of the Land Rover Defender.
The four-seater Taycan boasts two electric motors, all-wheel drive, up to 750 horsepower and a top speed of 160mph.
The Defender is making a comeback after production was stopped in 2016, ending a 67-year run. The off-roader will be available in two body lengths when it goes on sale next year.
BMW, meanwhile, unveiled a new front-wheel drive 1-series hatchback and a wider and longer X6 SUV, with the most powerful variant at the show having 530hp.
Ford is featuring the new Puma subcompact SUV and plug-in hybrid of Kuga compact SUV, among others.
Honda is among a few Asian automakers not skipping the show. It is showcasing its new small full-electric hatchback called Honda e. Reports estimated that the car will sell for between 28,000 and 35,000 euros.
Chinese companies flock to IAA
WHILE a number of Asian automakers skipped the show, Chinese companies, from automakers to electric vehicle battery suppliers had a busy day at the recent Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA 2019).
Nissan and Toyota were among the bigger Japanese carmakers to give this year’s IAA a miss, along with European counterparts such as Fiat and Peugeot.
Pressure to reduce CO2 emissions in the automotive industry has seen the rise of electric vehicle battery makers, mainly from China.
Farasis Energy, a Chinese-backed American company sealed a deal to supply lithium-ion batteries to Daimler for the electrification of its Mercedes-Benz cars. According to Reuters, Farasis is constructing a 600-million euro plant in Bitterfeld-Wolfen in Germany’s Saxony-Anhalt region and the battery-producing process will be powered by renewable sources.
SVOLT Energy Technology will also start making batteries in Europe in a two-billion euro factory by 2023. The company showcased its slew of EV batteries which employ ‘stacking technology’, including the NCM 811 high-energy-density battery cells as well as its battery modules, PACKs and BMS, which provide battery system solutions for PHEV and BEV specifically designed for the European market.
Ningde-based CATL, which also has a plant under construction in Erfurt, Germany displayed its latest NMC (nickel manganese cobalt) and LFP (lithium iron phosphate) batteries that offer ultra-fast charging and long life. Chinese carmakers are also pushing their vehicles into new European markets.
Great Wall Motors chairman Wei Jianjun told Reuters the company plans to sell WEY-branded SUVs to the EU in two years, and once sales hit 50,000 units a year it may consider building a car manufacturing facility in the region. In the earlier stage, the company plans to export its China-made cars into the region. Its brand of vehicle, Haval is currently present in Italy.
Other Chinese carmakers making their presence felt with their latest automobiles include FAW and Byton.