Saturday, 29 August 2020

Japan’s ‘flying car’ enjoys successful test flight with one aboard

 Japan’s ‘flying car’ enjoys successful test flight with one aboard

While Sci-Fi has long mused on the possibility of cars soaring through the sky, Japan’s SkyDrive Inc. might just make that a reality, The Associated Press reported Friday.

That day, video presented to reporters showed a motorcycle-like vehicle with propellers levitating about 3-6 feet and hovering in a netted area for four minutes as part of the “flying car” effort’s successful yet modest test flight. One person was aboard the machine.

“Of the world’s more than 100 flying car projects, only a handful has succeeded with a person on board,” Tomohiro Fukuzawa, leading the SkyDrive effort, told the outlet.

Fukuzawa, who hopes “many people will want to ride it and feel safe,” said the latter component is a crucial one, even as he hopes to make “the flying car” into a real product by 2023.

At this juncture, the contraption can fly for a mere five to 10 minutes, but increasing its capabilities to 30 minutes could also increase its marketability, allowing for exports to China, for instance, said Fukuzawa.

In principle, such machines — also known as eVTOL or “electric vertical takeoff and landing” vehicles — would allow for speedy point-to-point personal travel, in contrast to current aerial modes of transportation like planes and helicopters.

Many aspects have to fall into place though for eVTOLs to hit the market and be successful, said Sanjiv Singh, who co-founded Pittsburgh’s Near Earth Autonomy, also working on an eVTOL aircraft.

“If they cost $10 million, no one is going to buy them,” Singh, a professor at Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute, told the outlet. “If they fly for five minutes, no one is going to buy them.”

Similarly, if their safety is at all questionable, people won’t buy them, said Singh.

SkyDrive started as a volunteer project back in 2012, when it was called Cartivator, and was funded by top Japanese companies like Toyota and Panasonic.

Though a demonstration flight in 2017 was unsuccessful, SkyDrive has improved in the three years since, even racking up an addition $37 million (3.9 billion yen) of funding, some of which came from the Development Bank of Japan.

In line with Fukuzawa’s 2023 goal, the Japanese government is hoping their eVTOL will resemble the vehicle from the animated sitcom “The Jetsons.” The futuristic show first aired in the early 1960s and again in the late 1980s.

Ideally, Japan is looking to expand the vehicle’s commercial use by the 2030s. At that point, the government hopes eVTOLs would serve as lifelines amid disasters and connect remote areas.

Friday, 28 August 2020

EV Maker XPeng Has Solid Debut as Clean Cars Grab Investor Fancy


(Bloomberg) -- Chinese electric-car startup XPeng Inc. nailed its trading debut in the U.S. as cleaner types of vehicles increasingly grab the attention of consumers and investors.

XPeng’s American depositary shares jumped as much as 67% before closing 41% higher after the Guangzhou-based firm raised $1.5 billion in an initial public offering. The company, with a market value of about $15 billion, expanded the size of its offering and priced the securities above a marketed range.

Strong share-price gains this year by Tesla Inc. and NIO Inc. have stoked investor demand in the electric vehicles sector and prompted similar companies to go public. Li Auto Inc., another Chinese EV startup, increased the size of its U.S. IPO in July to raise $1.3 billion. Its shares, which fell 17% Wednesday, are still up 69% from their offer price.

Hybrid and electric-car registrations soared in Europe last month, seizing a record share of the market and lifting total sales to the highest in 10 months. EV sales in Europe in the first half also exceeded China for the first time since 2015. That’s a slight concern for the world’s biggest car market, but XPeng Vice Chairman Brian Gu said competition among electric vehicle makers is helping speed their adoption.

“There’s a big inflection point we see in the capital markets looking at new energy and smart EV phenomenon,” Gu said in a Bloomberg News interview.

Gu said XPeng plans to introduce a new model yearly -- a sedan next year and a larger SUV in 2022. While China will remain the company’s primary market for the foreseeable future, XPeng sees long-term opportunities elsewhere, he said.

Global Aspirations

“Smart EV is a global product,” Gu said. “We have aspirations to be a global company.”

For the six months ended June 30, XPeng said it had a net loss of $113 million on revenue of $142 million. XPeng delivered 18,741 of its first vehicle, the G3 SUV, through July 31, according to the company’s filings. It started deliveries of its second model, the P7 sedan, in May, shipping 1,966 units by July 31, according to its filings.

The depositary shares are worth two ordinary Class A shares. The company’s voting power is controlled by holders of Class B and Class C shares, which will carry 10 and five votes each, respectively.

Guangzhou-based XPeng closed its latest funding round for a total of $900 million, according to its filings. Qatar Investment Authority put in $100 million, while Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala invested another $100 million, the company said in the prospectus. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. also contributed $215 million, boosting its investment in XPeng.

The offering was led by Credit Suisse Group AG, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America Corp. XPeng is trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol XPEV.

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

2021 Polestar 2 electric car arrives as one of the year’s best, most advanced new cars

 The 2021 Polestar 2 electric car has a long hood and roofline, 4.45-second 0-60 mph acceleration and responsive handling.

There’s a surprising new contender for 2020's best and most advanced new car: The Polestar 2.

The handsome four-door fastback from Volvo’s performance and technology brand is loaded with useful features and accelerates and handles like a first-rate sport sedan.

Don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of Polestar. The brand’s a baby, founded by Volvo and its Chinese owner, Geely, in 2017. The Polestar 2 goes on sale in September, but the brand’s total presence in America so far is about 150 units of the Polestar 1, an expensive carbon-fiber plug-in hybrid.

The 2021 Polestar 2 is the brand’s bid for wider awareness, but it’s not exactly mainstream. True to its Scandinavian roots, a “vegan” interior  — no leather and no wood — is standard on the $59,900 base model. Leather is not exactly disapproved— Swedes are practical people; hand them a check, they’ll cash it — but it is a $4,000 option.

The Polestar 2’s features include all-wheel drive with a motor on each axle and the first production use of Android Automotive. Not to be confused with the Android Auto smartphone — right, that’ll never happen — Android Automotive provides voice recognition, navigation, music, control of some vehicle functions and more through Google computing.

You can also set it to provide information about road conditions to Google, making it a precursor to the connected vehicles expected to reduce traffic congestion in the future.

The 2021 Polestar 2 electric car has a long hood and roofline, 4.45-second 0-60 mph acceleration and responsive handling.

The car can even connect to your Google account for full access to addresses, calendar and more, but that’ll be a bit Big Brotherly for some, so it’s optional.

I spent a recent afternoon driving a Polestar 2 around lakes, highways and cities in Southeast Michigan. I barely scratched the surface of its features, but it was fun to drive and the features seemed reasonably easy to use.

Driving impressions

The Polestar 2 has all the best driving characteristics of an electric vehicle — instant torque, low center of gravity, regenerative braking that can virtually replace the brake pedal — but it takes remarkably little time to adjust from a conventional vehicle.

Acceleration is immediate and satisfying, as you’d expect with 487 pound-feet of torque available at all times.

Polestar claims a 4.45-second 0-60 mph time, and 12.76-second time in the quarter mile because you just know EV drag racing will be a thing.

The 2021 Polestar 2's standard interior trim is 'vegan;' No leather, no wood.\

The 51/49 weight distribution and low center of gravity — both thanks to locating the heavy batteries low and in the middle of the floorpan — keep it planted on the road. Direct tuning and a slight rearward bias in power delivery mimic the feel of a well-balanced rear-drive performance car.

You can set the brakes to mimic the feel of a conventional car but why bother, when you’ve got the "one-pedal driving" setting in the portrait-style touch screen? The setting maximizes regenerative braking, the amount of power recovered and fed back to the battery when you release the accelerator pedal. The vehicle slows so quickly that I had almost no need for the brake pedal after a quick learning curve. Because it charges the batteries, the feature also extends driving range.

The steering is also adjustable. I usually prefer the "sport" setting, but it seemed to deliver higher effort and less feedback in the 2. I found the base setting for steering most satisfying.

The 2 is very quiet on the road. Even with summer tires, frequently on rough country roads, wind and tire noise are minimal. When it’s moving, the 2 generates an unobtrusive but noticeable sound to alert pedestrians and animals to its approach. It sounded a bit like an approaching Roomba, the stealthy little autonomous vacuum.

The front seat has plenty of room, but there’s no sunshade for the fixed sunroof. The glass panel has a mild tint, but I’d still like a shade for particularly hot days.

Saturday, 15 August 2020

The Polestar 2

 2021 Polestar 2. <p class="copyright">Polestar</p>

  • The Polestar 2 is the first all-electric car from Polestar, a new brand from Volvo and Geely.

  • It will compete against the Tesla Model 3, Jaguar I-Pace, and Audi e-Tron.

  • Prices start at $59,900 and deliveries will commence next month.

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The future-is-now characteristics are the same. The same big infotainment screen, the same minimalist interior, the same zip when the right pedal goes down. Take away my sight, and I'd be tempted to guess I'm at the wheel of the Tesla Model 3, about as good an electric car as can be driven. But I'd know better because something feels different: Things here are more substantive, more satisfying.

The interior is built to be something an actual human would use and enjoy — not a button-free, avant-garde exercise in alternative design. This is the all-new Polestar 2, you see, and it drives like a finished version of the Model 3.

Polestar as a brand might be new. But it comes from people who very much know how to build a car, and build one well. This is a piece of the future worth looking forward to. 

The 2021 Polestar 2: Cut from a new brand

Polestar was launched in October 2017 as a standalone, electrified brand from Volvo and its Chinese parent company, Geely. Despite its global headquarters located at the Volvo campus in Gothenburg, Sweden, Polestar markets itself away from its Swedish sibling. Don't call it a Volvo, because it's not.

2021 Polestar 2. <p class="copyright">Kristen Lee/Business Insider</p>

The first Polestar model was the Polestar 1: an agonizingly stylish, high-performance hybrid with a face similar to the Volvo S90. Next is the Polestar 2: a battery-only electric sedan with a slopey C-pillar, and the company's first EV.

Built in Luqiao, China, the Polestar 2 quickly established itself as a champion of sustainability. In addition to running without reliance on fossil fuels, the 2 also touts seat fabrics made from recycled plastic bottles, interior plastics made with waste cork products, and carpets woven from recycled fishing nets.

2021 Polestar 2. <p class="copyright">Polestar</p>

The Polestar 2's range has yet to be officially rated by the EPA, but its European WLTP estimate is 291 miles. Keep in mind, however, that WLTP estimates can be more optimistic than EPA estimates.

At 15.1 feet long and 6.5 feet wide, the 2 is about the length of a Toyota RAV4, though about five inches wider. It weighs 4,680 pounds.

The Polestar 2 starts at $59,900, debuting initially as a heavily loaded "launch edition" version that includes features such as the Pilot Assist driver-assistance technology, a Harman Kardon stereo system, and Android as its native operating system. The Polestar spokesperson said a base model will be available later on.

2021 Polestar 2. <p class="copyright">Polestar</p>

Obviously, plenty of fun can be had in a naturally aspirated V8 with a manual transmission. This is a different kind of fun, one that makes a high-pitched whirring when you really lean into the pedal and as the car gathers speed. No hiccups in the acceleration from gears shifting — just flawless, smooth forward momentum, and the sound of the wind washing over the car as you pick up speed.

Friday, 14 August 2020

Daimler to Pay $2.2 Billion to Settle U.S. Diesel Issues


(Bloomberg) -- Daimler AG will pay about $2.2 billion to settle U.S. diesel-emissions issues in the latest fallout from years of closer regulatory scrutiny on vehicle pollution.

An agreement in principle with authorities including the U.S. Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency will cost the German automaker roughly 1.27 billion euros ($1.5 billion), according to a statement. The Stuttgart-based company will pay another 592 million euros to settle class-action litigation brought by consumers.

“While this hopefully resolves this issue and allows the company to focus on other pressing challenges, it is a reminder that other stakeholders are likely to receive the majority of Daimler’s cash flow in the period 2020-23 irrespective of underlying performance,” Citigroup Inc. analyst Angus Tweedie said in a note.

Daimler shares fell 1.2% to 41.91 euros as of 9:55 a.m. in Frankfurt, in line with the Stoxx 600 Autos & Parts index. The shares are down 15% for the year.

The pacts resolve issues that arose when U.S. regulators stepped up their examination of diesel emissions after Volkswagen AG’s cheating scandal emerged in 2015. The Justice Department asked Daimler to investigate its vehicle-certification process the following year.

Although the costs add to Daimler’s financial headwinds triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic, the amounts are relatively small compared with the larger-scale emissions violations that have cost VW more than 30 billion euros. Daimler says it fully cooperated with U.S. authorities, whereas VW officials lied to EPA and California regulators before admitting the company created devices to defeat emissions tests.

Daimler’s issues also involve fewer vehicles. Its agreement with U.S. authorities covers civil and environmental claims related to the emission-control systems of about 250,000 cars and vans. VW admitted in 2015 to rigging as many as 11 million diesel engines worldwide, including roughly 600,000 in the U.S.

Emissions Issues

The auto industry is still far from out of the woods with U.S. regulators.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV recently disclosed that it had started discussions with the Justice Department’s criminal division to resolve an investigation of diesel-emissions issues. Ford Motor Co. also revealed last year that its emissions-certification process may have been flawed and that the Justice Department had opened a criminal investigation.

Electric-car maker Tesla Inc. has meanwhile posted a string of consecutive quarterly profits thanks in part to selling regulatory credits to carmakers that could not otherwise meet tougher pollution standards. The Model 3 maker’s market capitalization has soared past $300 billion, almost double VW, Daimler and Ford’s combined value.

Years of Impact

Daimler expects to incur hundreds of millions of euros in additional expenses related to fulfilling the requirements of its settlements and said the costs will impact its business for the next three years.

The company warned in its annual report published in February that German motor-industry watchdog KBA is likely to rule that additional vehicles are equipped with defeat devices. Daimler boosted provisions for legal and regulatory costs as a result.

In its statement, Daimler said it has made sufficient provisions for the cost of the U.S. settlements. In the coming weeks, authorities will file consent decrees with a U.S. district court for final approval.

A spokesperson for the California Air Resources Board, one of the authorities involved in the settlements, said the consent decree is expected to be filed in mid-September. Representatives for the Justice Department and EPA declined to comment.

Thursday, 13 August 2020

Toyota C-HR Hybrid review: the stylish SUV just got a whole lot better

 2020 Toyota C-HR Hybrid

The Toyota C-HR’s concept-car-for-the-road looks certainly divide opinion, and have done since it was launched in 2016.

What can’t be denied is that it stands out from the crowd. And if you bemoan identikit hatchbacks and SUVs, that’s surely to be celebrated, whether you’re a fan of its wild curves and creases or not.

The C-HR’s sales success suggests quite a few people are; it’s proven a bit of a hit for Toyota, stealing sales from the Nissan Juke and Peugeot 3008 in the process. Of course, the zeitgeisty 1.8-litre hybrid powertrain hasn’t hurt it either, despite the fact the 1.2-litre non-hybrid has always been a slightly better car to drive.

But now, Toyota has shoehorned in the much-vaunted 2.0-litre hybrid from the Corolla, and while it’s done so, it’s given the C-HR a bit of mid-life botox. Time, then, to find out whether this extrovert family car still warrants its popularity; read on and register or login to find out our decisive verdict.

Pros: Good ride and handling balance, excellent new hybrid option, impressive reliability record

Cons: Claustrophobic rear seats, tiny boot, fiddly entertainment system

What's under the skin?

It isn’t just the new engine that’s big news, though. Toyota’s redesigned the suspension with the aim of improving ride comfort. Sadly, though, this new setup only comes on the 2.0-litre hybrid version – the 1.8 remains largely as before. All new C-HRs do, however, get a tweaked power steering system that, Toyota says, has improved feel.

Toyota’s ditched the 1.2-litre petrol engine, so now the only C-HRs you can buy are the hybrids. That means the range kicks off with the old 120bhp 1.8-litre model, with the 182bhp 2.0-litre costing £1,640 more – just over £26 for every extra brake horsepower and that upgraded suspension thrown in for free, which doesn’t sound like too bad a deal.

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Bollinger Motors

 Bollinger B2 prototype

Bollinger Motors has been in a different category all along versus Rivian or other electric trucks—not only because it plans to keep the operation low-volume, but because it has focused on developing its B1 SUV and B2 pickup as Class 3 vehicles—trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVRW) of more than 10,000 pounds and up to 14,000 pounds. 

Now Bollinger Motors has teased a few more technical details for its so-called E-Chassis that will underpin both of those vehicles. And it’s not surprising that Bollinger might be planning to offer the sturdy chassis as a building block for commercial truck makers. 

Bollinger notes that the E-Chassis will be manufactured alongside the B1 SUV and B2 pickup and made available for commercial use in 2021—a statement that we take to suggest that other commercial-truck partnerships might be forthcoming. 

The company hasn’t yet revealed who will be manufacturing the B1, the B2, and the E-Chassis. It’s previously said that it will be entering an agreement with a third-party supplier to build these trucks in the U.S.

Two battery packs will be offered: 120 kwh and 180 kwh, with an integrated thermal management system (previously verified as a water-cooled battery pack). 

As shown in these recently released pictures of the E-Chassis, the trucks will have hydraulic power steering and an independent front and rear suspension, with hydropneumatic self-leveling functionality, which should help with everything from towing to off-road situations. 

By appearance alone, the new chassis looks significantly different than the chassis Bollinger first showed in 2017

The trucks will have an onboard charger than can range from 5 kw to 15 kw. And the weight rating required by their Class 3 rating will make any trucks based on the E-Chassis potentially good for a higher weight rating than other last-mile delivery vehicles. 

One of the primary advantages to Bollinger in making its trucks so capable is that at Class 3 the trucks become exempt from crash tests, fleet efficiency, and various other rules. 

Bollinger is still taking $1,000 deposits for its trucks, which will start at $125,000, and aiming for deliveries to start in the first half of 2021. 

Sunday, 9 August 2020

Cadillac just unveiled its Lyriq electric car

 The Cadillac Lyriq EV was revealed on Thursday.

  • On Thursday, Cadillac revealed Lyriq, the first all-electric vehicle in its history.

  • Lyriq is the first Cadillac to arrive as the division becomes General Motors' lead electric brand.

  • Lyriq will use Cadillac's new Ultium battery technology and offer more than 300 miles of range on a charge.

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

When General Motors said in January of 2019 that Cadillac would become its lead electric brand, it was hard to know what to expect.

But 2020 is the year that the plan begins to take shape, starting with the unveiling of the Lyriq, Caddy's first all-electric vehicle, revealed as a show car on Thursday evening.

"Led by Lyriq, Cadillac will redefine American luxury over the next decade with a new portfolio of transformative EVs," Steve Carlisle, executive vice president and president, GM North America, said in a statement.

The Cadillac Lyriq has a sleek, crossover silhouette.


The Lyric reveal was supposed to happen in Los Angeles in March, but the coronavirus pandemic scuppered that plan. Business Insider got a look at the vehicle earlier that month, however, when GM held a media day to showcase its forthcoming EV lineup — 22 electrified vehicles coming by 2023 — and share details on its "Ultium" battery technology.

Lyriq is all-electric Caddy number one. Cadillac called the crossover a "show car," to distinguish it from the production version. On a briefing with media this week, Carlisle said the vehicle would launch first in China, and soon after in the US (production should commence in 2022). He also said pricing would be more than $75,000, but less than $100,000, to start.

A split tail light design is a signature Lyriq feature.

The design is distinguished by a "black crystal" grille, which Cadillac said is "part of a dramatic lighting choreography that — along with bold vertical, slim LED signature lighting — greets the owner upon approach." 

That motif continues to the Lyriq's rear, where "a split tail-lamp design incorporates slim LEDs that are also integrated into the lighting choreography."

The crossover promises a range of more than 300 miles on a single charge. Cadillac also said that rear- and all-wheel-drive variants would be offered. Critically for customers potentially cross-shopping with Tesla, Lyriq will have Caddy's latest iteration of its Super Cruise semi-self-driving technology, which enables fully hands-free operation on over 200,000 miles of GPS-mapped highways.

A real marquee feature is a gigantic, 33-inch LED screen that stretches across the entire dashboard.

"This new display has the highest pixel density available in the automotive industry today and can display over one billion colors," Cadillac said.

Design and engineering are also important aspects of the Lyriq story.

"With a dedicated EV architecture, [Lyriq's] design eliminates significant physical constraints associated with adapting electric propulsion within a conventional vehicle architecture, for an optimized design that supports greater driving range, an engaging driving experience and a new interpretation of passenger space," Cadillac said in a statement.

The Lyriq is also the first GM vehicle to use the new Ultium battery technology. A 100-kilowatt-hour configuration consists of "large, flat pouch cells that enable smart module construction to reduce complexity and simplify cooling needs," Cadillac said. "Additionally, the battery electronics are incorporated directly into the modules, eliminating nearly 90 percent of the battery pack wiring, compared to GM's current electric vehicles."

Active noise-canceling technology, Cadillac said, would make for a very quiet, relaxing interior — and allow an available 19-speaker AKG Studio audio system to shine.

Friday, 7 August 2020

Tesla Supplier LG Chem Expects Battery Revenue to Double by 2025

Bloomberg) -- While the Covid-19 pandemic has dented demand for electric vehicles this year, a South Korean supplier expects its battery sales to reach a new high thanks to strength in Europe and a contract with Tesla Inc.’s factory in China.

Revenue at LG Chem Ltd.’s battery business will reach a record of about 13 trillion won ($11 billion) this year, before hitting 30 trillion won in 2025, Chief Executive Officer Hak Cheol Shin said in an interview at his office in Seoul.

“We have no problem in our supply chain and can deliver all of the orders from customers this year despite the coronavirus,” Shin said.

Even with demand for rechargeable batteries seen slumping for the first time ever in 2020, South Korean makers posted sales gains in the first half. The Asian nation’s suppliers particularly benefited from European governments using virus recovery funds to help boost EV sales as well as new models from automakers including Volkswagen AG, according to SNE Research.

Sales at LG Chem jumped 83% to 10.5 gigawatt hours, lifted by rising demand for Tesla’s Model 3 sedans in China as well as for Renault SA’s Zoe cars, SNE Research said. That helped LG Chem, whose stock has more than doubled this year to a record high market value of about $44 billion, take the market lead over China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. The Korean company’s shares rose as much as 11.5% Friday morning after Bloomberg published the first version of this story. CATL fell as much as 4.4% amid general weakness in Chinese stocks.

“The point is how much LG will be able to get orders from Tesla, because everyone agrees Tesla will lead the electric-car market,” said Hwang Kyu-Won, an analyst at Yuanta Securities Korea Co. “However, if other automakers catch up with Tesla, that might be good news for LG Chem too, because of its diversified customers.”

Tesla has also been using lithium-ion batteries made by No. 3 maker Panasonic Corp. at the Shanghai plant, which began production late last year. CATL recently struck a deal to supply the same factory, wooing Elon Musk with packs that BloombergNEF says cost about 20% less than rival products.

Read more: The Battery Billionaire Who’s Key to Tesla’s Future in China

LG’s products use lithium nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) oxides, offering high energy density, which makes them more expensive but longer lasting. CATL uses lithium iron phosphate (LFP), which is cheaper and provide lower density.

While LFP batteries may be “good enough” for a driving range below 300 kilometers (186 miles), NMC is likely to win out longer term as it should be able to lower costs while increasing density at a faster rate, according to Mark Newman, a senior analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein H.K. Ltd.

Regardless of which technology is better, lower prices are seen as key to getting more consumers to shift from autos with combustion engines to EVs. Batteries account for 25% to 40% of total manufacturing costs for mass-manufactured battery electric vehicles, according to BloombergNEF. That is set to drop to 20% or less in the next few years amid pressure to reduce costs.

Price fluctuations for cobalt and nickel won’t hurt LG’s battery margins, as contract prices with automakers are now designed to pass through raw material costs, according to Horace Chan, an analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence.

LG Chem has moved to reduce overhead by working with automaker partners including General Motors Co. and Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. on building EV battery plants, which can cost more than $2 billion. Such ties put the company in a strong position to benefit from an eventual rebound in auto demand and growing adoption of EVs.

“The global electric vehicle industry itself is growing fast, but the penetration rate is about 3% now,” LG Chem’s Shin said. “The rate will be about 10% in 2025.”

Mahindra seeks investors for electric vehicle business

Mahindra seeks investors for electric vehicle business

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian automaker Mahindra & Mahindra <MAHM.NS> is looking for investment partners for its domestic electric vehicles business and is finalising investment plans for its Automobili Pininfarina unit, the group's managing director said on Friday.

The automaker wants to be a key player in mass-market electric vehicles (EVs) through its unit Mahindra Electric and in the high-end segment through Europe-based Pininfarina, which is building an electric hyper car Battista, Pawan Goenka said.

Mahindra & Mahindra is seeking financial or strategic investors for Mahindra Electric, Goenka told a news conference after the group's quarterly earnings. For Pininfarina, it is finalising how much investment it needs for future projects and will then decide how to raise funds, Goenka said, adding that this could include taking a strategic partner.

Mahindra & Mahindra said in June that it was evaluating all its businesses and would continue to invest only in those where it sees a strategic advantage or can get an 18% return. It has said that EVs are strategic to its growth.

As part of this evaluation, Mahindra has also decided not to proceed with the bid made by its North American unit to supply vehicles to the U.S. Postal Service, group CFO Anish Shah told the same press conference, conducted online.

The project would have required an investment of close to $500 million and given "the current environment and the focus on capital allocation" it would not have met the company's targeted return on investment, he said.

Shah said the North America business is also under review and Mahindra will have more clarity on its future once litigation with carmaker Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCA) <FCHA.MI> <FCAU.N> in that region ends.

Mahindra reported a sharp fall in profit for the April-June quarter to 1.12 billion rupees ($15 million), compared with 23.14 billion rupees a year earlier, due to lockdowns and disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The automakers' shares have risen around 18% since the group announced on June 12 that it was reevaluating its businesses.

Saturday, 1 August 2020

Mazda Surprises With World Premiere Of Hybrid Version Of MX-30 Electric SUV At Rare Car Event

A 1956 Corvette also graced the event floor.

At the Automobile Council near Tokyo on Friday, the only auto show to be staged in Japan since the pandemic struck, Mazda surprised the 3,000 invited guests and media with the world premiere of a gasoline version of its soon-to-be-launched MX-30 pure electric SUV. Up until yesterday, as far as anyone knew, the MX-30 crossover which debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show last November, was going to be a dedicated EV. Now it has a hybrid brother.
Fitted with the same 2.0-liter 4-cylinder gasoline “e-Skyactiv G” mild hybrid system employed in the Mazda3, the all-wheel-drive MX-30 will go on sale by the end of the year. In contrast, Mazda says it will start taking orders to lease the MX-30 fully electric version by the end of 2020, with deliveries starting in early 2021. Featuring suicide doors, like those employed on the rotary-powered RX-8, the MX-30 incorporates controversial styling that takes the crossover in a different direction to its much highly-acclaimed Kodo Design. Penned in that design philosophy, the Mazda3 won the 2020 World Car Design of the Year while the MX-5 captured the same trophy in 2016.

Rising coronavirus cases in Japan worried nervous event organizers who feared the Automobile Council might be canceled altogether, after already being postponed twice. As infections spiked at over 1,500 cases on Friday, the Japanese government re-floated the idea of imposing a state of emergency. In line with current non-state of emergency government guidelines however, all guests were required to wear masks and socially distance while event staff took body temperatures at the venue’s entrance and recorded visitor’s names and phone numbers to maintain a potential tracing protocol.

Plug it in: Electric car charging station numbers are rising

Plug it in: Electric car charging station numbers are rising

DETROIT -- When the electric car revolution arrives, will there be enough places to plug in?
There are now 26,000 electric vehicle charging stations open to the public in the U.S., with more than 84,000 plugs.
But the country, and the world, will need thousands more if drivers are going to adopt vehicles powered by batteries alone. And because they’re being asked to invest before that demand arrives, automakers and charging companies are struggling to raise the numbers.
Currently electric vehicles make up only about 1.3% of total new vehicle sales in the U.S., according to the auto site. Electrics are much bigger in other countries, accounting for 2.6% of global new vehicle sales last year, the International Energy Agency says.
With more than 40 fully electric vehicles on the market in the U.S. or coming within the next three years, however, auto and charging company executives say the demand is on the way.
“The automakers, more and more of them, are committing to manufacture electric vehicles,” said Mike Moran, spokesman for Electrify America, a network of charging stations being built with $2 billion in settlement money from Volkswagen’s diesel emissions cheating scandal. “Last year automakers announced a combined $225 billion in investments in electrification.”
On Friday, General Motors and charging company EVGo announced plans to add about 700 fast-charging stations, tripling the number on the EVGo network over the next five years. They wouldn’t say how much they’ll invest, but plan to add 2,700 fast-charging plugs.
They’ll focus on 40 unspecified metropolitan areas, with emphasis on California, Texas, Florida and Illinois. And they’ll build the stations near where people go to run errands, like grocery stores or pharmacies. Typically a fast-charger can refill a battery in 30-40 minutes, so the idea is for charging to be done while people are shopping.
“We’ve done extensive consumer research in understanding what’s important to the customer,” GM CEO Mary Barra said. “Clearly having a robust charging infrastructure is something that our customers have told us is important.”
Detroit-based GM says it’s moving away from the internal combustion engine to an all-electric future, and it plans to roll out 20 new electric vehicles globally by 2023. Crosstown rival Ford has an all-electric SUV coming with 300 miles (480 kilometers) of range, and it’s planning a fully electric version of the F-150 pickup, the nation’s top-selling vehicle.
Fast-charging stations have higher kilowatt capacities than home chargers, and they’re important to quickly recharge batteries on newer electric vehicles that can travel 300 or more miles on a single charge. But the bulk of the nation’s public charging network is much slower. The U.S. Department of Energy says there are 3,884 public fast-charging stations in the country now with 14,858 outlets.
As more electric vehicles are sold, more fast chargers will be needed, especially for people who live in apartment buildings who can’t charge at home, said Cathy Zoi, EVGo’s CEO.
The 2,700 new fast-charging outlets will start to become available early next year. GM and EVGo say they’ll invest in the outlets, but many will be built with funding from utilities, governments and public-private partnerships.
More public charging stations will allow GM and other automakers to better compete with Tesla, which now leads the world in electric vehicle sales and has its own private network of fast-charging stations. Tesla has network of 1,971 charging stations with 17,467 outlets worldwide. A U.S. number wasn't available.
Electrify America now has over 450 charging stations in the U.S. with more than 2,000 fast-charging outlets, Moran said. It plans to have 800 stations and about 3,500 outlets by the end of next year.
Guidehouse analyst Sam Abuelsamid said the number of chargers is increasing rapidly and should be enough to meet demand as more electric vehicles are sold. A big problem now is that each network has its own payment system, so owners need multiple accounts to access all chargers, he said. But Ford, GM and others are working to aggregate all the networks into one account.
“As more and more vehicles come to market that support faster charging and have longer ranges, especially with aggregating, enabling roaming, that’s where I think it will start to make a difference,” he said.