Saturday, 28 November 2020

Volkswagen Speeds Up Smaller EV Development

 Volkswagen ID 3

Volkswagen (VWAGY) is pulling forward the development of a small electric car for the masses ahead of tougher climate regulations, Reuters said. Volkswagen stock fell.

Under the "Small BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle)" project, engineers are racing to develop a smaller all-electric car which priced between 20,000 and 25,000 euros ($24,000-30,000).

This would make it cheaper than Volkswagen's already small ID.3 electric hatchback, which went on sale in September.

Volkswagen did not provide details on what the new vehicle might look like, when it might be launched or where it might be built, Reuters said. The Financial Times said the smaller EV won't come out for at least three years.

The European Union's more stringent emissions targets are forcing Volkswagen to increase the hybrid and electric share of European sales to 60% by 2030, up from 40% prior.

In October, the ID.3 electric hatchback, key to Volkswagen's plans to dominate global EV sales, leapfrogged Tesla (TSLA) in Europe.

Volkswagen sold 10,475 ID.3s for the month as production of its ID family of electric cars hits full swing at its Zwickau facility.  Renault's Zoe sold 9,614 units in October. Tesla sold just 834 Model 3s after a strong September.

The German automaker began ID.3 deliveries in September but is not bringing the vehicle to the U.S., where smaller cars are out of favor.

It plans the larger ID.4 crossover instead.

Last year, Volkswagen vowed to invest $71 billion in electric and autonomous vehicles as well as battery production, laying the groundwork for the new ID family. Earlier this month, it boosted that spending to $86 billion.

Also in November, General Motors boosted EV and AV spending as automakers play catch-up with Tesla. GM is now spending $27 billion by 2025, up more than a third (35%) from a prior target. Volkswagen partner Ford (F) is spending $11 billion by 2022 on electric cars.

Tesla is starting to boost capital spending after a long slide, as the EV maker continues work on the Berlin and Austin factories. CEO Elon Musk has made comments over the years about a $25,000 car. This week, Musk again mused about a Tesla hatchback, which presumably would be a more-direct rival vs. the ID.3. But it's not clear that Tesla is actively pursuing either project at this time.

The EU’s fastest growing EV market is — surprise! — Latvia!


According to Latvian national news agency, LETA, the Baltic nation has logged the fastest growing rise in electric car sales among EU member states.

Across the first three quarters of this year, Latvians have bought and registered 328% more electric vehicles than they did across the same period in 2019.

Over the first three quarters, 287 electric vehicles were registered in the country. 229 of these were battery electric vehicles and 58 were plug-in hybrids.

While the overall volumes might not compare to bigger car buying nations like the UK or Germany, the growth in EV uptake should still be considered as a positive.

Last year, across the first nine months of the year, there were just 67 EVs registered.

Latvia isn’t alone in experiencing heady growth in EV sales. Slovakia, Czech Republic, and Estonia all saw three-figure growth in EV registrations, posting growth of 316.5%, 245.5%, and 208.5% respectively.

It seems that Baltic nations are quite receptive of new low-emission transport. 

Volkswagen plans small electric car for the masses

BERLIN (Reuters) - Volkswagen is bringing forward the development of a small electric car for the mass market in anticipation of tougher climate regulations, according to plans seen by Reuters, as it seeks to boost sales in a new green era.

Under the project dubbed "Small BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle)", engineers are racing to develop a purely-battery powered car around the size of a Polo which will be available for between 20,000 and 25,000 euros ($24,000-30,000).

This would make it cheaper than Volkswagen's ID.3 electric car, which went on sale in September.

Volkswagen did not provide details on what the vehicle might look like, when it might be launched or where it might be built.

The carmaker has said the European Union's more stringent emissions targets will force it to boost the proportion of hybrid and electric vehicles in its European car sales to 60% by 2030, up from a previous target of 40%.

Earlier this month, it raised its planned investment on digital and electric vehicle technologies to 73 billion euros ($86 billion) over the next five years, of which around 35 billion will be invested in e-mobility.

The VW brand currently plans to build 1.5 million electric cars by 2025.

Saturday, 21 November 2020

China-Led Shift to Electric Vehicles to Help End 'Oil Era': Study



FILE PHOTO: Newly manufactured cars are seen at a port in Dalian, Liaoning province, China April 10, 2020. China Daily via 

SHANGHAI (REUTERS) - AN aggressive China-led shift to electric vehicles is expected to slash global oil demand growth by 70% by 2030 and will help bring an end to the "oil era", according to research by the Carbon Tracker think tank published on Friday.

Within 10 years, China could save more than $80 billion in annual oil import costs as new-energy vehicles (NEVs) become increasingly competitive, Carbon Tracker said.Its calculations were based on a "conservative" scenario by the International Energy Agency projecting that electric vehicles would account for 40% of China's total car sales by 2030, and for 20% of sales in India and other emerging markets.

The cost of importing the oil required to fuel an average car is 10 times higher than the cost of solar equipment required to power an electric vehicle, Carbon Tracker said.

"This is a simple choice between growing dependency on what has been expensive oil produced by a foreign cartel, or domestic electricity produced by renewable sources whose prices fall over time," said Kingsmill Bond, strategist with Carbon Tracker and the report's lead author.

Electric vehicles are a key component of China's efforts to slash climate-warming greenhouse gases and improve urban air quality, and India is also setting ambitious 2030 vehicle sales targets.

China has not yet set a date when it will ban the production and sale of traditional cars, but an industry official said last month that NEVs will account for 50% of all new car sales by 2035, with hybrid vehicles making up the remainder

Will better batteries persuade us to go electric?

 This week, the UK government announced that sales of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned from 2030 - just one signal among many around the world that a major shift to low-carbon motoring is under way.

In practice, that means millions of people are going to have to be persuaded to choose an electric car - and on this week's Tech Tent we explore how improvements in battery technology can make that happen.

The last decade has seen major advances in battery-powered motoring, with Elon Musk's Tesla leading the way in showing that electric cars don't have to be ugly - and they don't have to stop every 20 miles to recharge.

But anxiety over the cars' range, charging availability and initial cost are still issues for potential buyers.

Colin Herron, an automotive engineer who worked for Nissan for many years and is now a consultant on low-carbon vehicle technology, tells Tech Tent there are reasons to be cheerful about future advances in batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are the first target.

"We will be tampering with this battery over the next four or five years, and putting more additives in will get about another 20% boost in performance," he explains.

But he says the big leap forward will come with solid state batteries, which will appear first in mobile phones and laptops before they progress to cars. They promise to be a safer and lighter option, and researchers believe they can offer much faster charging.

"They're all targeting 10 to 12 minutes. That's what they think is the 'stop time', the convenient time to check your email for people who are moving on.

Herron believes, however, that we will all need to change the way we think about motoring in the electric era: using trains for longer journeys, and keeping the car for shorter local trips where stopping to charge will not be necessary.

And he cautions that we also need to realise that describing electric motoring as "zero carbon" may be wide of the mark: "It's emission-free motoring, but the car has to be built, the battery has to be built, and the electricity does come from somewhere."

On that theme, we also hear how one African country is making progress towards a zero-carbon future. Wangari Muchiri, a renewable energy engineer based in Kenya, tells us the country's electricity grid is almost entirely dependent on renewable energy.

"The biggest private sector investment in Kenyan history has actually been in wind energy," she says. "And we're now seeing that, slowly, as people become more confident, investors become more confident with the Kenyan landscape."

The problem is that around half the population, particularly in rural areas, is not connected to the grid, and more than 80% of Kenyans depend on burning wood and other biomass materials for cooking and heating.

Muchiri is involved in a number of projects to build a series of mini-grids, using wind and solar energy to bring less-polluting electricity to rural Kenya.

When much of the world went into lockdown back in the spring, technology proved a vital tool for young people, whether to continue their education or to communicate with friends and family. The Cambridge University psychologist Dr Amy Orben, who researches the impact of technology on mental health, tells us the pandemic has changed how we think about this issue.

She says politicians and the public had often assumed that time spent using technology was time not doing something better. "Lockdown really challenged that idea, and it needed to be challenged," she says.

"For example, for certain disadvantaged groups, it might be a really important way of getting information and getting in contact with people like you, if - for instance - you're an LGBTQ teen in a very small town."

This week also saw a study from the Oxford Internet Institute, which found that video games aren't necessarily bad for your mental health, and can contribute to your sense of wellbeing.

From the spread of misinformation to online bullying, we've heard plenty about the negative aspects of technology this year - but the pandemic has also shown us what a positive force it can be.

Thursday, 19 November 2020

GM: New batteries cut electric car costs, increase range

 DETROIT (AP) — General Motors says a pending breakthrough in battery chemistry will cut the price of its electric vehicles so they equal those powered by gasoline within five years. The technology also will increase the range per charge to as much as 450 miles.

The company’s product development chief promised a small electric SUV that will cost less than $30,000 and pledged to roll out 30 battery-powered models worldwide by 2025

. Nearly all current electric vehicles cost more than $30,000.

The announcement Thursday shows how fast electric vehicle technology is evolving and how it may become the primary fuel for transportation sooner than almost anyone believed.


GM: New batteries cut electric car costs, increase range

2 hours ago

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors says a pending breakthrough in battery chemistry will cut the price of its electric vehicles so they equal those powered by gasoline within five years. The technology also will increase the range per charge to as much as 450 miles.

The company’s product development chief promised a small electric SUV that will cost less than $30,000 and pledged to roll out 30 battery-powered models worldwide by 2025. Nearly all current electric vehicles cost more than $30,000.

The announcement Thursday shows how fast electric vehicle technology is evolving and how it may become the primary fuel for transportation sooner than almost anyone believed.


The GM announcement is among a series of recent tipping points from internal combustion vehicles to electric, Guidehouse Insights Principal Analyst Sam Abuelsamid said. Ford and Fiat Chrysler recently announced plans to build electric vehicles and components at Canadian factories, and Volkswagen, the world’s top-selling automaker, is increasing its EV spending and models. “There’s going to be a lot more EVs coming,” he said.

The challenge for automakers and startups has always been balancing range against battery costs, and GM appears to have gone beyond that, Abuelsamid said.

“What we’re seeing now is that they’re confident enough on their costs that they think they can offer those 300-to-400 mile range vehicles, and the upfront cost is similar to internal combustion vehicles,” Abuelsamid said.

The developments arrive as government pollution regulations tighten worldwide, with California and the United Kingdom recently announcing plans to ban gas-powered new vehicle sales in 10 to 15 years. President-elect Joe Biden is likely to restore government fuel economy regulations that have been rolled back by President Donald Trump, with Biden vowing to spend billions on electric vehicles and charging infrastructure. GM supported the rollback.

“If you look at all the forecasts the estimates, generally, the demand is kind of potentially being forecast to pick up,” said Doug Parks, GM executive vice president of product development. “We think the industry is transforming, and so we want to be at the leading edge of this.”

The company also wants to supplant Tesla as the global electric vehicle leader, saying it has done great things and was able to get the jump on GM and other traditional automakers.

To back up its claims, GM said it will raise spending on electric vehicles from a promised $20 billion, to more than $27 billion through 2025.

The new battery cell chemistry, now undergoing early tests at a lab inside GM’s suburban Detroit technical center, can hold twice as much energy as the company’s current electric vehicle batteries, Parks said. They’ll also cost 60% less than current battery packs now in the Chevrolet Bolt electric car, he said.

The chemistry, which will use lithium metal anodes, will help GM package battery cells for a wide range of vehicles at different price points and ranges, Parks said. The new battery cells also will be used by Honda, which is partnering with GM and battery cell supplier LG Chem of Korea.

Parks said GM’s next generation of batteries due out next year already are getting close to reducing electric vehicle costs so they are similar to internal combustion engine vehicles, especially when fuel costs are factored in.

He said the company will build its own batteries to take advantage of economies of scale as more electric vehicles are sold. “We’ll learn it. We’ll perfect it. We’ll scale it and we’ll ride that cost curve down,” Parks said.

He didn’t give many details on the new electric vehicles GM plans to unveil, but said there would be a Chevrolet electric pickup truck and a small Chevrolet SUV similar in size to the brand’s Equinox. As sales volumes rise for that mass-market SUV, that will help GM offer electric vehicles at even lower prices, he said.

More product details will be revealed at the Barclays Auto Conference on Thursday afternoon, Parks said.

Some more expensive luxury electric vehicles such as the Tesla Model S offer big batteries and ranges of over 400 miles, but Parks said GM plans to bring the higher range to more mainstream markets. A range of 450 miles is about equal to what people expect from a tank of gasoline, he said.

GM’s statements come two months after a similar announcement from Tesla CEO Elon Musk. He said in September the company is working on new technology that will enable more affordable cars that can travel dramatically longer distances on a single charge. He said the new batteries may not be ready for high-volume production until 2022, and there could be a Tesla with a $25,000 starting price.

Accounting and consulting firm Deloitte said in a study last summer that global sales of fully electric and plug-in gas-electric hybrid sales passed the 2 million mark last year, and were 2.5% of all new vehicle sales. By 2030, Deloitte predicts that total electric and plug-in sales will rise to 31.1 million, or 32% of global new vehicle sales. The firm estimates that fully electric vehicle sales will be 25.3 million, or 81 percent of the total.

Monday, 9 November 2020

'Every second electric car' in Europe comes from Germany

German carmakers may have dragged their feet when it came to switching to electromobility, but they are fast gaining ground, according to the country’s Automotive Industry Association (VDA), which said this weekend that nearly every second electric car sold in Europe in October was German-made. “The German automotive industry is already today the European champion in electromobility,” VDA president Hildegard Müller said, noting that in western Europe, German car manufacturers have increased their share of the electric-car market to 46% Germany is the market leader in electric cars in Norway, which has been streets ahead of other European countries in its switch to cleaner mobility. In Germany too, the electric car market is booming: sales of e-cars cars quadrupled in October, compared with the same month a year ago, accounting for 8.4% of all new car registrations to to bring the market share of all-electric and hybrid cars to a record 17.5% high. Much of this bump in sales is down to the increased government subsidies for cleaner-energy vehicles this year. Germany, which decided against putting money behind buyer premiums to boost sales of petrol and diesel cars in the COVID-19 pandemic, has earmarked around €2bn (£1.7bn, $2.3bn) to support its essential auto industry migrate to electric mobility between 2021 and 2024. The VDA boss said that currently more than 12,000 new electric cars and plug-in hybrids a week are being registered in Germany, and that two out of three cars sold this year were from domestic manufacturers. There is however an issue with the low number of charging points across Germany — some 200 new ones a week are coming online, inadequate for the growing numbers of electric cars. “The government's charging infrastructure master plan provides for 1 million public charging points by 2030,” Müller told Spiegel magazine. “To achieve this, we would need around 2,000 new charging points per week from now on. That is 10 times what is currently being built… if things continue as they have up to now, e-mobility will not be able to gain broad acceptance.” Business consultancy McKinsey said in March that Germany’s Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW will become global market leaders for electric cars from 2021. “Europe has 60% more electric cars on the road than the USA,” says Müller said. “The sudden increase shows that the new models are inspiring buyers.”