Monday, 27 July 2020

Li Auto Offers EV Future to U.S. Investors

Chinese startup Li Auto is seeking to raise up to $950 million in a bet that U.S. investors will support its vision for an electric vehicle future in China, the world’s largest auto market.
The five-year-old automaker, formerly known as CHJ Automotive, said it will 95 million American depositary shares at an indicative range of $8 to $10 per share in an initial public offering.
The listing would be the largest by a Chinese company this year, surpassing the $510 million IPO of cloud service provider Kingsoft Cloud. Li Auto would be the second Chinese electric vehicle maker to list in the U.S after Nio.
“We believe that our EREV [extended-range electric vehicle] technology will help accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles in China and contribute to China’s national initiatives to build a low-carbon-emission society,” the company said in an amended prospectus.
Li Auto started volume production of its first model, the Li ONE SUV, in November 2019 and had delivered more than vehicles as of June 30. It is focusing on the SUV segment within a price range of RMB150,000 ($21,000) to RMB500,000 (US$70,000).
Unlike rival Tesla and Nio’s pure battery electric vehicles, the Li ONE allows drivers to charge their cars with electricity or gasoline. It can operate “even when customers have no access to charging infrastructure, thereby completely eliminating range anxiety,” the prospectus said.
Li Auto generated sales of RMB1.9 billion (US$275.0 million) for the second quarter, up 128.6% from the year ago, while its gross margin improved to 13.3% from 8.0% in the previous quarter.
“However, Li Auto is bleeding cash along with its rivals, with around RMB 4 billion in total net losses over the past two and half years,” TechNode said.
Li Auto, whoch was founded in 2015, is backed by Chinese food delivery giant Meituan Dianping. Private equity firm Hillhouse Capital plans to invest $300 million in the IPO.
The float is “the latest gauge of U.S. investor demand for Chinese companies going public,” Reuters said, adding that “prestige and listed comparables continue to propel them toward a U.S. listing.”

Sunday, 26 July 2020

Honda Electric Car Is Range And Price Challenged

98th European Motor Show
Honda’s new little electric city car won’t be a candidate for best value for money or longest range, but it is a technology marvel with plenty of ground-breaking innovations, while being the first in a brand-new category of “small premium”.
The “e” looks exceptionally cute, has lively performance, and when you get behind the wheel for the first time, you will see a marvellous sweeping dashboard design which might make even Tesla TSLA -6.3% owners envious.
Honda has no current plan to sell the car in the U.S.
When you consult the various data sources on the dashboard, which fills the entire space in front of the driver and front-seat passenger and is boarded by the TV monitors for the wing-mirror cameras, you might find some disturbing information. When I climbed aboard, the battery monitor said 97% full, while the range predictor said only 106 miles. The claimed range for the Honda e from the 35.5 kWh battery is 125 miles. This compares unfavorably with many other all-new electric cars in this price-bracket – in Britain the top of the range Honda e Advanced – is priced at 29,160 pounds after tax ($37,100).
Cars like the Renault Zoe (240 miles) and the Peugeot 208 e (220 miles) are priced very close to the Honda e but are bigger, and have this huge almost double advantage in range. Honda counters with the argument that the interior quality of the “e” is in a higher class, and the technology offered is also worth paying for. Honda says that for most daily commuters, the range of 125 miles would be more than adequate, while its fast charging is top class. Honda says it can be 80% recharged in 30 minutes.
Even electric cars at the lower end of the price range, like the Volkswagen eUp and its derivatives the SEAT Mii electric and Skoda Citigo e, have close to 170 miles of range. Spain-based SEAT and Czech-domiciled Skoda are VW subsidiaries.
Viktor Irle, Stockholm, Sweden-based analyst with consultancy EV-volumes said these three electric cars will sell a total of about 27,000 in Europe this year, with the VW accounting for around 13,000, the Skoda 5,000 and the rest from the SEAT. Like the Honda, none of these vehicles are at home on the highway because they start seriously haemorrhaging power at over about 65 mph.
“Sales of the Honda e will ramp up slowly to about 20,000 to 25,000 a year (globally) with the major sales in the home (Japanese) market. They’ll sell about 1,500 in Europe this year, and around 4,000 in 2021. The range is a bit poor and it’s expensive. It will do best in Japan and some Asian markets,” Irle said.
Meanwhile Honda said the rear-wheel drive “e” is part of its plan to electrify all its cars by 2025.
Honda said what it called the minimalist interior has been designed to feel like a lounge.
“The clean surfaces also incorporate flush-fit pop-out door handles, (like Tesla) whilst the charging-point port is integrated in to the bonnet (hood). This helps to reduce drag and increase the overall efficiency of the car,” Honda said.
The “e” includes what Honda calls a “sector-first” camera system for the wing-mirrors, which are replaced by bullet-like cameras on each side, and little screens on the left and right of the dashboard show the rear view. The “e” boasts much high technology, which until recently would only have been seen in high-priced German vehicles. The “e” has systems like collision mitigation, which also detects in-danger pedestrians, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assists and lane departure warning.
One of the high-tech boasts of the “e” is an enhanced voice control facility. If you say “OK Honda” it will in theory fulfil commands like increasing the regenerative braking or tuning the radio. I’ve heard these claims a few times over the years, and up until now, they’ve never worked for me. Nor did this one, although it might with a bit of time for the system to recognise your voice.
The 150 hp Honda e Advanced accelerates from zero to 60 mph in less than 8 seconds with a top speed of 100 mph.

Saturday, 25 July 2020

Tesla is quickly ramping up its ability to make cars, trucks, SUVs, batteries, and solar panels.

A rendering of Tesla's forthcoming Gigafactory near Berlin, Germany.

  • Tesla is rapidly growing its worldwide manufacturing footprint.
  • The company is operating factories in California, Nevada, New York, and China.
  • A new plant is under construction in Germany, and Tesla just announced another factory will be built near Austin, Texas.
  • In just a few years, Tesla has become a global manufacturing juggernaut, supporting its goal of becoming the biggest provider of sustainable transportation and energy.
I can remember a time when Tesla barely made any cars. That was back in 2010, when it had just taken over a former GM-Toyota plant near San Francisco. The only car for sale was the original Roadster, and just a few thousand had hit the road.
Fast forward to 2019, and Tesla had sold 250,000 vehicles in a single year, with the goal of doubling that total in short order.
The company's growth is accelerating, but to satisfy demand for new and existing products, and to reach global markets more directly and at lower cost, it's rapidly expanding its manufacturing capability. Four factories could be six in two years, as plants in Germany and Texas come online. 
The scale that this expansion provides could enable Tesla to become more solidly profitable. But it could also increase the company's already huge lead over its EV competition. 
Here's a closer look at how all these factories fit into the master plan, which goes beyond just cars:
Let's start with Tesla's factory in Fremont, CA, on the east side of San Francisco Bay.
Tesla bought the plant in 2010, after General Motors went bankrupt and slimmed down its assets. In a previous life, the factory was called New United Motor Manufacturing (NUMMI) and was jointly operated by GM and Toyota.
The factory has been humming away for a decade; it has a production capacity of 500,000, but thus far Tesla has only managed about half of that.

Thursday, 23 July 2020

Tesla to build its largest auto assembly plant in Texas

Tesla is heading to Texas to build its largest auto assembly plant, CEO Elon Musk announced during the electric car company's Q2 earnings call on Wednesday. Musk said that work is already underway on building the 2,100-acre site. 
The factory will be in Travis County, near Austin, and will employ at least 5,000 people with a minimum wage of $15 per hour, according to the Associated Press. Tesla has said it will invest $1.1 billion. 
Musk described the new gigafactory as "an ecological paradise" on the Colorado River, complete with a boardwalk and a biking and hiking trail. He said the site will be open to the public. 
The company will use the site to build its new Cybertruck pickup, as well as the Model Y small SUV. Musk said that the company will produce "a lot" of vehicles in the "long term." On its website, Tesla says Cybertruck production will begin in late 2021. 
Over the next 10 years, Tesla will receive more than $60 million in tax breaks from the federal government and a local school district, according to the AP. 
Texas Governor Greg Abbott welcomed Tesla to the state, saying the company is "one of the most exciting and innovative companies in the world, and we are proud to welcome its team to the State of Texas." 
"Texas has the best workforce in the nation and we've built an economic environment that allows companies like Tesla to innovate and succeed," Abbott said in a press release. "Tesla's Gigafactory Texas will keep the Texas economy the strongest in the nation and will create thousands of jobs for hard-working Texans. I look forward to the tremendous benefits that Tesla's investment will bring to Central Texas and to the entire state."

Tesla picks Texas for its Cybertruck factory.⁦Thanks to ⁦.@elonmusk⁩ & .@Tesla for embracing our great state.The Gigafactory will employee thousands of Texans & be a cornerstone for next generation innovation.It’s been fun to get to know you. Welcome to Texas.
In a summary of Tesla's Q2 update published on Wednesday, the company said that despite the main factory in Fremont, California, being closed for nearly half of the quarter due to the coronavirus pandemic, "business has shown strong resilience during unprecedented times." 
"We believe the progress we made in the first half of this year has positioned us for a successful second half of 2020. Production output of our existing facilities continues to improve to meet demand, and we are adding more capacity," the company said. "Later this year, we will be building three factories on three continents simultaneously." 
Musk said during the earnings call that the California factory "will continue to grow." Along with the new factory in Texas, Tesla is also building a factory in Germany, and has a factory in Shanghai. 
Musk added that the company was "super impressed" by Tulsa, Oklahoma, which was also a top contender for Tesla's new factory, and said that they will "strongly consider Tulsa for future expansions Tesla has down the road."

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Tesla's spent a year terrifying, electrifying Wall Street

Tesla's spent a year terrifying, electrifying Wall Street

DETROIT (AP) — Tesla's losses were mounting last summer, massive debt payments were looming, and both Wall Street and federal regulators had run out of patience with the erratic behavior of CEO Elon Musk.
One year ago this week, shares plunged 14% after Tesla posted another quarterly loss, this one for $408 million, wiping out about $6 billion of the company's worth.
Since then the stock has blasted off like at rocket at SpaceX, another Musk-led company. Tesla's market value today is three times that of Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler, combined. A single share of Tesla now goes for $1,600, a seven-fold increase from a year ago, making it one of the most expensive publicly traded shares in the world.
“Things just turned on a dime,” said CFRA Analyst Garrett Nelson. “It's just been one positive announcement after another.”
In the past year, the electric car and solar panel maker successfully opened a factory in China, introduced the Model Y electric SUV, made debt payments and it's posted profits for three straight quarters. Musk toned down the posts on Twitter that had cost him and the company $40 million in penalties from U.S. securities regulators.
A day before the company posts quarterly results one year removed from that week in 2019, industry analysts have begun to question if Tesla is running too hot. Analysts polled by FactSet expect a $228 million net loss from April through June. Only one analyst has a 12-month stock price target above the current value.
Tesla's stock surge has enriched Musk, boosting his net worth to an estimated $73.5 billion. He passed Warren Buffett, the Sage of Omaha, on the Forbes Billionaires list. And Musk could be headed for another big payday soon under his ambitious Tesla compensation package. In total, Musk and other Tesla shareholders have made about $240 billion since March 18, the low point for the stock price this year.

With second-quarter sales of Tesla vehicles outpacing the first despite a global pandemic, shares could jump again if Tesla surprises with its fourth consecutive profitable quarter. That would likely check all the boxes and could lead to Tesla's admission into the club of corporate giants: The S&P 500 stock index.

Sunday, 19 July 2020

Britain’s Next Fighter Jet Could Be Powered by Batteries

relates to Britain’s Next Fighter Jet Could Be Powered by Batteries

BAE Systems Plc, the developer of Britain’s next fighter jet, said it’s considering powering the planned warplane using alternative propulsion such as hybrid or fully electric systems.
BAE, which is working with engine-maker Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc and others, is “examining all options” to power the plane, manufacturing director Dave Holmes said on a webcast Wednesday. The Tempest is due to join the Royal Air Force fleet from 2035.
“I wouldn’t rule anything out,” he said. “If you’re looking at something that’s going to be in service out to 2050 to 2060 and beyond, all of those options are very feasible.”
Electric flight is still in its infancy. One of the biggest challenges remains the weight of the batteries required to get anything othe than a very small plane into the air. Rolls-Royce developed a hybrid-electric commercial-aircraft concept called E-Fan X with European planemaker Airbus SE, though the project was suspended this year as the coronavirus pandemic weighed on the sector.
BAE envisions using newer manufacturing techniques such as 3D printing on the Tempest. It said Wednesday it will also work with Williams Advanced Engineering to adapt battery-management and cooling technologies used in Formula E race cars. The company, part of Formula 1 supplier Williams Grand Prix Holdings Plc, aims to deliver energy at lighter weights, according to its technical director, Paul McNamara.
Technology has transformed aerial warfare since the Tempest’s predecessor, the Typhoon, first came into service in the early 2000s. While plans are fluid, the U.K.’s Ministry of Defence has said it’s looking at designs for unmanned drones that can fly alongside fighters like the Tempest.
Drones have helped to speed electrification, though battery power is usually used on smaller craft requiring stealth. Larger ones typically have conventional turbofan engines.
The E-Fan X demonstrator replaced one of four jet engines with an electric motor and has a high power battery pack to provide energy storage.
Airbus is working on a French-German rival to the British Tempest project with Dassault Aviation SA. The European planemaker has said its next narrow-body commercial aircraft, also targeted for the mid-2030s, will use alternative power.
BAE, which is also working with Italy’s Leonardo SpA and missile maker MBDA, said it’s not focused on the competition but on meeting its own goals, and continues active discussions with other potential partners.
Sweden’s Saab AB signed a memorandum of understanding to join the Tempest project last July.

UAE Seeks to Help Tesla Accelerate Autonomous Driving Push

The United Arab Emirates threw open the door to Tesla Inc. to join its push to accelerate autonomous driving over the next five years as the Gulf nation seeks to bolster its digital economy, a UAE minister said.
The government plans to hand out data that would be useful to driver-less cars to help incentivize start-ups, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence Omar Al Olama said in an interview with Bloomberg TV. Dubai Future Lab, an arm of state-owned Dubai Future Foundation, is also entering partnerships, he said.
“Usually it costs a lot of money for them to collect all this data, but as a government we can collect it and then give it to them as an incentive to start up,” Al Olama said.
Tesla Inc.’s Elon Musk said last week that the carmaker is poised to develop a technology making its vehicles fully capable of driving themselves. Tesla and its competitors are “welcome to come and start in Dubai,” Al Olama said.
The UAE’s economy has been battered by the coronavirus pandemic. But as the country was locked down for weeks, consumers and companies were forced to shift their activities online, boosting the nation’s digital economy.

Thursday, 9 July 2020

The latest Corvette is great, but wait until you see what comes next

Overton, Nevada (CNN)With its engine behind the driver instead of under the hood, General Motors' new Chevrolet Corvette represents a huge change for one of America's most famous cars. While the reason for the new design may not be immediately obvious, it will be later on when GM unveils more powerful versions of the company's flagship sports car.
GM has not officially announced anything yet, but there's no question that there will be faster, more powerful Corvettes to come. And these machines could take GM into the realm of true supercars, like Lamborghini and Ferrari.
But even in today's base model, the 495-horsepower Stingray, there are advantages to the Corvette's new "rear mid-engine" layout. For example, it shifts the car's weight, changing how the car handles in curves and making it quicker in a straight line since there's more weight over the back wheels where the power goes.
    It also puts the driver closer to the center of the driving experience. The driver's body is now near the engine, where the car's weight is concentrated. And the driver sits farther forward in the car, closer to the front wheels that steer the car. Also, the hood is lower -- since there's no engine under it -- providing an unimpeded view of the road ahead.
    With the new Corvette, GM engineers and designers frequently use the term "bandwidth" to describe all of the advantages the new design offers. Basically, it enables engineers to create versions of the car with much more power and the ability to handle it.
    It's not as if the last-generation Corvette was a poor excuse for a sports car. The base model -- the Corvette Stingray -- had a 455-horsepower V8 engine mounted under the hood. It was frequently cited as one of the world's great sports car bargains, providing performance on par with a Porsche 911 -- but for $30,000 less. Added to that, the Corvette was eminently practical for a two-seat sports car. It even got decent fuel economy considering its power output.
    The new Corvette maintains all those benefits while adding 50 horsepower. There's ample storage space both behind the engine and up front under the hood. With a base price just under $60,000, it's not a cheap car, but it's still a spectacular value.
    Corvette engineers I've spoken with admit that the old front-engined design's limitations became apparent in more powerful versions of the car. As horsepower was increased to create cars like the 755-horsepower Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, race track lap time didn't improve as much as could be expected.
    The new mid-engined design, with more weight over the back wheels, will help to draw more performance -- and sheer enjoyment -- from future higher horsepower engines and, possibly, electric motors. (A high-performance hybrid is widely rumored to be in the works but, as with all future Corvettes, GM has not confirmed this.)
    In February, I drove a well-optioned Corvette with a final sticker price approaching $90,000. The quality of the materials was nice. The interior was richly appointed. The new Corvette takes the idea of a "driver's car" to the extreme. A long, narrow row of buttons, mostly controls for cabin heating and cooling, create a low wall between the driver and passenger. The central touchscreen is also tilted toward the driver.
    One thing the Corvette no longer offers is a manual transmission. Most drivers probably won't miss it. The new Corvette's transmission is both quick, responsive and as smooth as well-oiled glass. Those things don't often go together in an automatic transmission, but the Corvette's 8-speed works amazingly well.

    Wednesday, 8 July 2020

    British Gas places UK’s largest electric van order with Vauxhall

    Grant Shapps standing in front of a blue car parked in a parking lot: British Gas Centrica Vauxhall EV

    British Gas has ordered 1,000 all-electric Vivaro-e vans from Vauxhall. It’s the largest electric vehicle order for a commercial fleet in the UK.
    The electric vans will be used across the country by British Gas engineers. Centrica, owner of British Gas, said it’s committed to electrifying its entire fleet of 12,000 vehicles by 2030. 
    The Vauxhall Vivaro-e is the sister van to the all-electric Citroen e-Dispatch and Peugeot e-Expert. It was due to be unveiled at this year’s Commercial Vehicle Show, but with the event cancelled due to the coronavirus, the electric van was, fittingly, given a digital launch.
    British Gas says it could order a fleet of the smaller Vauxhall Combo-e when it arrives in the summer of 2021.
    For now, the Vivaro-e offers the equivalent of 136hp, a payload of up to 1,226kg, and a top speed of 81mph. It’s also the first electric van with the ability to tow a trailer.
    The electric range varies depending on the battery size. The 50kWh version should be good for 143 miles, while the 75kWh provides an impressive 205 miles.
    Recharging to 80 percent capacity takes 30 minutes in the 50kWh version and 45 minutes in the 75kWh van, both using a 100kW public charger.
    Although prices haven’t been announced, a Vivaro-e with a 50kWh battery is expected to cost around £30,000.
    Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “Today’s announcement marks another milestone as we continue on the road to a green transport recovery.
    “This is a huge step for such an iconic British company, who are showing leadership in making the switch to zero emission vehicles as we to strive to meet net zero emissions by 2050.
    “We’re determined to build back greener – to deliver better air quality and lower our carbon footprint, which is why we’re investing more than ever in zero emission grants and infrastructure.”
    Stephen Norman, managing director of Vauxhall, added: “I am delighted that British Gas has confirmed the UK’s largest order of battery electric vehicles with the Vauxhall Vivaro-e. 
    “As with all businesses up and down the country, tradespeople rely on their van as an essential tool of their work and our 300-strong retailer network is crucial in continuing to provide support to carry British business.
    “The strength of the quantity of orders for our all-electric van demonstrates that the Vauxhall Vivaro-e, the first step in the electrification of our entire van range, can contribute towards the transition towards low emissions vehicles whilst improving air quality.”
    For more electric vehicle news, visit our sister site Motoring Electric.

    Saturday, 4 July 2020

    Toyota was one company that truly believed in the hydrogen future

    Toyota was one company that truly believed in the hydrogen future, and produced the very credible FCV-R concept in 2011 that developed into the Mirai, which became commercially available in 2015. A second generation will be released in 2021. Honda has also produced a couple of fuel cell vehicles, the Clarity Fuel Cell and FCX Clarity. Hyundai has the Tucson Fuel Cell. So there are some choices available, and these vehicles are all quite viable for everyday usage, with the Mirai offering a range of 312 miles on a tank, and the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell managing a very healthy 366 miles.
    So why haven’t hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) taken off in the same way as BEVs, considering their convenience? June 2019 could be the month that scrawled the writing on the wall. No sooner had a chemical plant producing hyrdogen in Santa Clara exploded, leaving FCV users in California short of fuel, but just a few days later a refuelling station in Sandvika, Norway also went up in flames. This really brought home the truth that hydrogen can be a dangerously explosive gas – as if we didn’t know it already. I haven’t heard of any cases of the cars themselves detonating, and the fuel tanks are now Kevlar-lined to protect against this explosive possibility. But it was hardly a confidence-inspiring series of events.
    However, the safety concerns are not the main reason why hydrogen is a far inferior option for personal transportation than BEVs. If one of your main goals is to save the planet, BEVs are considerably more energy efficient than FCVs, when you take into account the whole series of steps between power generation and propulsion. With a BEV, once the electricity is generated – hopefully from a renewable source – the supply of this to your vehicle charging location loses about 5%. The charging and discharging of the battery then lose another 10%. Finally, the motor wastes another 5% driving the vehicle. That makes for a total loss of 20%.
    With a hydrogen fuel cell, however, you first have to convert the electricity to hydrogen via electrolysis, which is only 75% efficient. Then the gas has to be compressed, chilled and transported, which loses another 10%. The fuel cell process of converting hydrogen back to electricity is only 60% efficient, after which you have the same 5% loss from driving the vehicle motor as for a BEV. The grand total is a 62% loss – more than three times as much. Or, to put it another way, for every kW of electricity supply, you get 800W for a BEV, but only 380W for an FCV – less than half as much. That’s a huge inefficiency if you’re hoping for a greener future, and doesn’t even take into account the fact that 95% of hydrogen is currently generated from fossil fuel sources.
    Nevertheless, hydrogen still has niches where its main strengths – lightness and quick refuelling – give it a clear advantage. While you can fit your personal driving lifestyle around strategic battery charging stops, this is not ideal for a commercial vehicle that needs to run for very long periods and distances with only short waits to refuel. The weight of batteries for eight hours of continual usage would also be prohibitive in a train, for example. So, for industrial vehicles, hydrogen seems like a viable option, despite the inefficiency. Nevertheless, in the UK, there were only ten hydrogen-powered buses in service in March 2019, alongside 155 electric ones (with more arriving) and 3,669 hybrid ones. But a hydrogen double-decker is also coming into service in London, with hydrogen diggers and trains also already in use. Stock market darling Nikola Motor is working on hydrogen semi-trailer trucks alongside electric and hybrid variants.
    But for personal car users, it’s no contest. Hydrogen evangelists are still arguing that FCVs are the future of personal transport and the technology will take off in 2020. It’s likely that FCV energy supply-chain efficiency will be improved over time and more renewable energy sources used in hydrogen production. However, considering the number of BEVs already on the road, FCVs have lost this battle already and will never catch up. A BEV is a viable form of personal transportation right now in most developed Western nations. There are lots of options with over 200 miles of range, and Tesla TSLA has even hit 400 miles. There are charging points springing up all the time, with more than twice as many EV charging points in the UK as petrol stations. The battle for the future of green personal transportation is over, and battery electric vehicles have already won.

    Audi, EnBW to Turn Electric Car Batteries Into Grid Support Tools

    Audi, EnBW to Turn Electric Car Batteries Into Grid Support Tools

    FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German carmaker Audi and utility EnBW are setting up an electric car battery operation at EnBW's Heilbronn plant to build scaleable storage facilities by the end of this year, drawing on retired batteries to help power grids.
    Electric vehicle battery recycling and reuse has become a priority for car and battery makers while renewable energy companies face the problem of how to absorb surpluses of wind and solar power to avoid waste and disruption to the stability of grids, slowing the transition to purely carbon-free energy systems.
    Alexander Kupfer, project head of circular economy at Audi and in charge of his firm's activities at the site, said the cooperation was part of Audi's recycling commitments.
    "We want to develop a plug and play battery storage solution for the energy industry," Kupfer said in an interview.
    "The storage facility in Heilbronn will be the blueprint for a scaleable product that can be sold in growing numbers."
    Audi has been testing the behaviour of electric car batteries, which represent a third of an EV's unit costs, in a research setting in Berlin for three years.
    The batteries to be used for the commercial phase of the project come from test cars, which have run hundreds of thousands of kilometres, Kupfer said.
    "A used EV battery still can function for another three to 10 years," he said.
    EnBW, a market leader in renewable energy, will construct storage containers at the Heilbronn power and heat cogeneration plant, that would serve as a reference site.
    Thereafter, EnBW would develop similar storage tools for sale to industrial power customers, local utilities or decentralised generation plants.
    Financial details were not disclosed.

    Thursday, 2 July 2020

    US car sales just had their worst quarter since the Great Recession

    New York (CNN Business)Major automakers reported a more than 30% drop in US sales in the second quarter, the biggest plunge in sales since the Great Recession and the auto bankruptcies of 2009.
    Several of the top automakers reported quarterly sales Wednesday, and the weeks of pandemic-forced dealership closures hit them hard.
    Sales were also hurt by record job losses limiting spending money, as well as mass work-from-home policies that temporarily put commutes on hold. Further, the closing of auto plants for much of the quarter limited the supply of new vehicles at the dealerships that were open, with popular vehicle models particularly hard to find.
      General Motors, the largest US automaker, saw a 34% sales drop. Last week GM announced it will cut 700 jobs at a Tennessee plant later this summer because of the drop in demand for the SUVs built there. Still, GM (GM) said sales fell most sharply in April and showed signs of recovery in May and June.
      "GM entered the quarter with very lean inventories and our dealers did a great job meeting customer demand, especially for pickups," said Kurt McNeil, GM's vice president of sales. "Now, we are refilling the pipeline by quickly and safely returning production to pre-pandemic levels."
      Fiat Chrysler (FCAU) reported a 39% decline in revenue, pointing to the drop in rental fleet sales. Rental car companies typically buy about 10% or more of US car sales in the course of a normal year.
      But with the huge slowdown in travel, car rental companies have virtually halted their purchases. Meanwhile, Hertz (HTZ) filed for bankruptcy. And all the car rental companies are selling cars from their existing fleets, creating more competition for.
      Toyota (TM) also reported a 35% drop in second quarter US sales, although it saw an improvement as the quarter progressed. June sales were off 22%, the company said.
      Despite the signs of improvement later in the quarter, it's unlikely there will be a rapid increase in sales throughout the summer, said Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for Cox Automotive. Cox is forecasting a 35% drop in total US sales for the second quarter once all the automakers report and the data are in.
      A Cox survey showed one-third of those who intend to buy a car said they will delay their purchases, driven by factors such as general uncertainty in the market and continued unemployment concerns.
      "The industry is facing the potential for a cruel summer for automotive sales," Smoke said in a recent presentation.
      Another auto research firm, LMC, projects a 33% drop in sales in the quarter and a 22% drop over the course of the full year.
      "There is still plenty of risk ahead, with the possibility of continued outbreaks," said Jeff Schuster, president of global vehicle forecasting for LMC, adding that some of the current sales are likely being driven by pent-up demand that could soon fall off.