Tesla settling with SEC over fraud lawsuit, EDTA reports two thirds spike in plug-in sales

Tesla settling SEC fraud suit:  Tesla Inc. may see the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s securities fraud lawsuit settled through a joint filing Wednesday to the federal judge overseeing the case. The settlement means that CEO Elon Musk will be stepping down as chairman for three years, and that two new independent directors will be appointed to the board. Musk will be paying $20 million, and Tesla will pay another $20 million, in fines distributed to harmed investors. Musk’s insulting tweet last week on Thursday, mentioning that the SEC is changing its name to “Shortseller Enrichment Commission.”

While outgoing Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. CEO James Murdoch has been said to likely be appointed the next chairman, Musk tweeted that “This is incorrect.” That comment was directed at a Financial Times report that the son of Fox mogul Rupert Murdoch would be taking one of Musk’s titles. Murdoch joined Tesla’s board last year after years of work with media companies.

EDTA reports spike in plug-in sales:  The number of plug-in vehicles sold from January through September 2018 is a 64% increase over the same period last year in the U.S., according to the Electric Drive Transportation Association’s sales dashboard. EDTA reported that there has been 229,874 total plug-in vehicles sales in 2018, with battery electric vehicles (BEVs) at 144,505 and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) at 85,369 through the end of September. Sales between the two segments were close during the first half of this year, with BEVs taking a leap in the third quarter. During September, BEVs made up 34,046 of the U.S. total and PHEVs made up 10,543 units. EDTA also reported a new look for the dashboard and updates to its research methods.

BYD wins major electric bus deal:  BYD will be helping Vancouver’s largest private bus operator, WESTCOAST Sightseeing, to become a 100% clean-energy fleet by 2023. That deal will consist of 90 electric buses of various types, with the Chinese maker being named the exclusive supplier to WESTCOAST. BYD’s North America manufacturing unit, based in Lancaster, Calif., has taken orders for over 600 electric buses. The company has invested more than $250 million and has delivered 270 of the electric buses so far. BYD is also building electric commercial trucks to serve fleets outside the bus sector.

 

White paper studies mobility revolution and its impact on fleets, GAM editor emcee at AltCar Expo

New study explores how mobility is transforming fleets:  A new white paper has been released for fleet professionals and other interested parties facing an historic change — transitioning from fleet managers to mobility managers.

The Mobility Revolution: A Primer for Fleet Managers, explores four trends that are shaping the near-term future of vehicles and transportation — connected, electric, shared, and autonomous vehicles. Written by Lukas Neckermann, a former auto executive and consultant on mobility services, and Green Auto Market editor Jon LeSage, the study explores the issues poised to transform transportation in the next decade. It was sponsored by NAFA Foundation as a tool for fleet professionals to prepare for the near future.

“As the fleet industry makes a rapid transformation into the ‘mobility’ industry, the NAFA Foundation, in cooperation with NAFA Fleet Management Association, is providing fleet professionals with the building blocks to transform their units, teams, and personal careers to a mobility orientation,” said Phillip E. Russo, CEO of the NAFA Foundation and NAFA Fleet Management Association.

Fleet managers and operators of all types — corporate, government, emergency response, trucking, and urban delivery — are beginning a transition over to mobility managers. That means building in systems that allow them to observe fleet vehicles and make rapid decisions to increase efficiency — such as avoiding bottlenecks from traffic and vehicle collisions. The pressure is on for fleet managers and operators to reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions, make their fleets safer, and to try out connected, automated systems for these goals and cost containment. The paper delves into ways that fleets are already testing and exploring these changing technologies and methods.

Fleets are playing a key role in the testing and development of technology in trial test programs. Some of it is starting to be deployed, such as Voyage, a firm that is rolling out electric, autonomous shuttle vans in senior citizen communities in the U.S. Amazon and UPS are featured in case studies for their participation in advanced mobility projects.

First responder fleets — fire, police, and emergency medical responders (EMR) — have been a platform for testing connected, automated systems including fleet vehicle tracking earlier than other fleet segments. In recent years, that’s played out in emergency services delivered after hurricanes Katrina, Sandy, and Mathew devastated local communities through flooding, highway and bridge destruction, collapsed buildings, and disrupted utility services including power transmission. Energy storage in electric vehicle battery packs can be used during power outages is one of several examples featured in the white paper.

The study also explores how automakers, Silicon Valley giants, and partners such as autonomous technology and vehicle charging suppliers, are taking all four of the trends very seriously. Companies such as General Motors, Alphabet’s Waymo, Tesla, and Apple, are becoming the source of both cooperative test projects and competitive forces as each strives to be a leader in the emerging field. This point is being reinforced by Honda’s announcement this week that it will be investing $2.75 billion into GM’s Cruise autonomous vehicle unit; Renault-Nissan and Daimler possibly extending their alliance in autonomous vehicles, battery tech, and mobility services; and Toyota and Japanese tech giant SoftBank deciding to jointly fund a new mobility company that combines autonomous driving and mobility services.

The free white paper is available for download.

GAM editor MC’ing Friday at AltCar:  The 13th annual AltCar Expo & Conference will be taking place Oct. 12-13 in Santa Monica, Calif. Jon LeSage, editor of Green Auto Market, will serve as Master of Ceremonies on Friday, Oct. 12. This year’s Industry & Fleet Conference on that day will focus on California’s trailblazing commitment to alternative technology transportation, infrastructure and energy. Terry Tamminem, CEO, Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, will make opening remarks. Phillip Kobernick, Interim Logistics Services Manager for the County of Alameda, will be in discussion with Terry O’Day, Executive Vice President,  Innogy e-Mobility and Santa Monica City Council Member. “Is California Past the Turning Point?” Will be moderated by Marco Anderson, Southern California Association of Governments and will feature Clinton Bench of UCLA Transportation, Kobernick, and Ken Reichley of Southern California Edison “Are Auto Makers Truly Committed to Low- and No-Emissions Technology?” will be moderated by Sue Carpenter, KPCC “Take Two” and will feature Anthony Luzi of Electra Meccanica and Spencer Reeder of Audi of America. You can visit the AltCar Expo and Ride & Drive, which provides consumers with access to the most extensive array of battery electric, fuel-cell electric, plug-in hybrid, and hybrid electric vehicles available. Debuting at this year’s event is Electrica Meccanica’s new all-electric, single-passenger vehicle, SOLO.

Musk stepping down as chairman:  Tesla CEO Elon Musk had to back down from a threat to resign if a settlement was reached with the Securities and Exchange Commission. During a phone call with Tesla directors, board members insisted that the settlement be reached. Musk later gave his “grudging approval” through his attorneys to pay $20 million and step down as chairman but remain as CEO, according to The New York Times. The newspaper also reported the board proposed that James Murdoch become the new chairman. Murdoch is a Tesla board member and CEO of the Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. media company; but the board had not made a decision on filling that position yet. CNBC reported that Musk has 45 days to resign as chairman through the SEC settlement and the pay the $20 million fine over an agreement to settle a fraud lawsuit filed by the SEC on Thursday stemming from Musk’s Twitter posts announcing potential removal of Tesla, Inc., from the stock market. The electric carmaker has also agreed to appoint two new independent directors to its board and establish a new committee of independent directors and put in place additional controls and procedures to oversee Musk’s communications, according to the SEC. The Tesla CEO will continue to have his voice heard on the matter. Business Insider studied the SEC papers on Wednesday and found that Musk won’t be barred form voting his shares in favor or against nominees to Tesla’s board.

Cycle 2 of VW diesel vehicle settlement:  Electrify America released details of the second cycle for Volkswagen’s zero emission vehicle settlement with California and the EPA. Cycle 2 begins in July 2019, and will offer its next $200 million investment in California’s charging infrastructure over a 30-month period. DC fast charging stations will be the central focus in nine metro areas within the state: Riverside-San Bernardino; Santa Cruz-Watsonville; Santa Rosa; Fresno; Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim; Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade; San Diego-Carlsbad; San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward; and San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara. The charging stations will be placed in retail locations, but Electrify America will also consider the needs of adjacent multi-unit dwellings where Level 2 residential charging deployment can be challenging. Electrify America also will invest in DC fast charging stations specifically targeting shared mobility drivers — car share, taxis, and transportation networking company (TNC) drivers.

Cities leading the way for EV charging, NHTSA safety rating for Model 3 a bright spot for Tesla

Cities leading the charge:  Cities, utilities, and technology suppliers are making serious commitments to expanding the electric vehicle charging infrastructure, according to speakers at last week’s Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco. The Climate Group and C40 Cities groups announced that 26 cities, states, regions and businesses took on commitments. Those include 12 states and regions joining The Climate Group’s zero-emission vehicle challenge, such as California and Washington state, Quebec, Scotland, and Australia’s Capital Territory; and 12 cities joining C40’s fossil fuel-free streets declaration, including Seoul, Tokyo, Honolulu, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood, Calif.  Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that 19 cities and two counties in the U.S. have formally launched the Climate Mayors Electric Vehicle Purchasing Collaborative. EVBox, which now has about 60,000 charging stations installed globally, expects to have 1 million EV chargers installed by 2025. ChargePoint announced a target of 2.5 million public chargers by 2025, mostly in North America and Europe. That will shoot up from about 53,000 public charging sites the company currently operates.

Bright spot for the Model 3:  Tesla, Inc., had a bright sport in its continuing struggle to mass produce the Model 3 and to restore its brand image. The Model 3 received a five star safety rating in all crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The rear-wheel-drive version of the Tesla Model 3 earned an all-around five-star safety rating from NHTSA, the highest possible issued by the agency from frontal, side, and rollover crashes. As for the continuing challenges faced by Tesla and CEO Elon Musk, the company saw another top executive leave. Liam O’Connor, vice president of global supply management, has resigned said people familiar with the matter. O’Connor had come over from Apple Inc. in 2015, and is at least the fifth senior Tesla executive to leave the company in recent weeks. Another blow took place this week with the U.S. Dept. of Justice reportedly opening a criminal fraud investigation into the electric carmaker, stemming from Musk’s announcement last month that he would be taking the company private and that he secured the needed funding to do so. The probe appears be at an early phase, but it follows a reported Securities and Exchange Commission investigation and shareholder lawsuits over the same issue; and a libel lawsuit filed against Musk by a man he accused of being a pedophile. A Tesla spokesperson said the Justice department did send Tesla a voluntary request for documents and that the automaker has been cooperating.

Volvo supports efforts to reduce plastic:  Volvo Cars this week joined the G7 Ocean Plastics Partnership during the G7 Summit in Halifax, Canada. The company also presented its own sustainability program in detail, including its Plastics Vision that aims to substantially increase the amount of recycled material used in new Volvo cars and to support efforts to reduce plastics pollution. “Volvo Cars is the only car maker to be invited to the G7 summit, underlining the company’s position as an industry leader in sustainability,” the company said in a statement.

Lucid Motors gets $1B:  Luxury electric vehicle startup Lucid Motors gained a $1 billion investment from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, an entity once rumored to be Musk’s potential partner in taking Tesla private. Lucid Motors will use the investment to finance the 2020 launch of its first EV, the Lucid Air. Tesla CEO Elon Musk had previously touted conversations with the Saudi fund as key in considerations to take Tesla private, which won’t be happening for Tesla.

IKEA delivering in EVs:  IKEA says all its home deliveries in the inner cities of Amsterdam, Los Angeles, New York, Paris and Shanghai will be made by electric vehicles or through other zero-emission solutions. That will take place by 2020 and will also support adding charging stations to its retail stores. Last year, the company joined EV100, an initiative launched by the Climate Group, that aims to meet the five-city EV goal by 2020, make all home deliveries in ZEVs by 2025, setting up chargers at IKEA locations by 2020, and cut in half emissions from IKEA employees and customers by 2030.

Daimler investing in Proterra:  Daimler Trucks is investing in the fast-growing electric bus market through leading a $155-million investment round in electric busker Proterra. Tao Capital Partners, a San Francisco investment firm, is the other lead investor. Proterra and Daimler will also explore electrifying select Daimler heavy-duty vehicles. One of the first ventures will be to bring Proterra’s battery and drivetrain technologies to the North American school bus market through Daimler’s Thomas Built Buses division. “We aren’t just the leading supplier of conventional truck and buses; when it comes to electrification we also want to be the leader,” said Martin Daum, global head of Daimler Trucks and Buses, at the IAA Commercial Vehicles show in Hanover, Germany, on Wednesday.

Nio goes public and ready to compete for premium EV share, Tesla loses more executives in its turbulent workplace

Nio IPO:  Chinese electric car startup Nio made its way to the stock market, raising $1 billion in its IPO this week and market valuation at $6.42 billion; but that’s well below the $20 billion company executives had been initially hoping for. Shanghai-based Nio is targeting the premium electric-SUV segment, calling itself Tesla-competitive in its home market of China. Nio launched its first electric SUV in December, the seven-seat Nio ES8, which is priced at about half the cost of a Tesla Model X sport utility in China. Formerly known as NextEV, Nio says it will be bringing an autonomous EV to the U.S. by 2020. The ES6, an electric five-passenger SUV, is in development. Nio backers include Chinese internet giants Baidu and Tencent, as well as Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi. Tencent also owns a small stake in Tesla stock.

Tesla Inc. has been losing executives this year, with turbulence coming from the company transitioning into a mass market automaker with production of the Model 3. CEO Elon Musk’s erratic behavior has also taken its toll. Justin McAnear, vice president of worldwide finance and operation, said in a statement Wednesday that he is leaving to take the role of chief financial officer at another company. Tesla’s chief accounting officer, Dave Morton, announced his exit last week. The work pace at Tesla and the level of public attention of the company were cited as reasons for his departure. One executive, Jerome Guillen, may be able to keep pace with Musk’s intense demands. Guillen has been named president of automotive operations, and is known for being a skilled multitasker who’s been able to operate within the Tesla culture.

While President Trump’s high import tariffs have taken their toll on several industry sectors, solar power has been able to find growth and stability. Data reported on the the second quarter of 2018 showed signs of a market turnaround. Utility solar project procurement soared in Q2 2018 as component prices declined and home solar installations steadied after a 15% contraction last year, according to the latest U.S. Solar Market Insight Report from Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables (previously known as GTM Research) and the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Volkswagen Group warned that it will be spending a lot more to meet its target for electric vehicle product launch. While the German automaker had originally estimated that 20 billion euros ($23 billion) would be going into it, CEO Herbert Diess says this will not suffice, without providing a new cost figure. The automaker needs to reduce expenses more to be able to invest in future technology and weather turbulent periods, he said. The target is huge — VW Group plans to launch 80 new EVs across its brands including Audi, Porsche, Skoda and Seat by 2025 and offer an electrified version of each of its 300 group models by 2030. “The burden for our company, such as the cost of bringing to market electric cars, will be higher than expected,” Diess said in a joint interview with labor head Bernd Osterloh in VW’s internal newsletter. “This is particularly so since some of our competitors have been making more progress.”

The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) on Wednesday released its white paper analyzing the fuel efficiency of the 20 leading airlines on routes between the U.S. to Europe in 2017. Following rigorous scientific assessments, Norwegian once again rose to the top as the most fuel-efficient airline on transatlantic routes for a second time, also receiving this honor in 2015 when the ICCT released its first study.
Findings showed Norwegian, on average, achieved 44 passenger kilometers per liter, which is 33% higher than the industry average. Norwegian, flies one of the youngest fleets in the world, comprised of Boeing 787 Dreamliners, 737-800s and 737-MAXes.

Amazon continues to invest in the grocery delivery business, now expanding Whole Foods Prime Delivery to 10 additional U.S. cities. The full list of 38 cities now includes Charlotte, Las Vegas, Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, Raleigh, Seattle, and Tucson. Coverage will also be expanding in New York, Los Angles and Dallas/Ft. Worth. Amazon acquired Whole Foods, known for its organic and locally-grown produce, last year for $13.7 billion.

ACT Research Co. forecasts commercial electric vehicles will make up a “significant share” of the Class 4 through Class 8 market in 2030 to 2035. Growth will be coming from U.S. truck makers, new startups, and engine manufacturer Cummins Inc. Interest is coming from fleet operators who need to reduce tailpipe emissions and reliance on diesel fuel. “They want to take it into production but it all depends on how that market votes,” ACT Research Co. Vice President Steve Tam said.

 

Daimler, BMW, and Audi bringing EVs to production level, Musk smokes pot and shares wide-ranging opinions during podcast

Premier EVs rolling out:  German automakers are now stepping up to their commitment made two years ago at the Paris Motor Show to become Tesla-competitive and produce production-level premier electric vehicles. Mercedes-Benz unveiled the Mercedes EQC all-electric SUV on Tuesday, and it will be Daimler’s first production model under the company’s electric EQ sub-brand. BMW next week will be flying the autonomous iNEXT electric crossover in a Boeing 777 Freighter to press events in Munich, New York, San Francisco, and Beijing. On Monday, Volkswagen’s Audi began mass production of the Audi e-tron, the brand’s first all-electric SUV with longer range. Audi will unveil the battery electric SUV at a world premiere in San Francisco on Sept. 17. It’s a good time to roll out these high-performance, premier EVs as Tesla and its leader, Elon Musk, face a series of challenges. Production problems for the high-volume Model 3 continue, as do controversial moments with Musk — made more so last night during a podcast (see below). Editor’s note: See my Oilprice link for more articles on EVs and energy trends.

Musk enjoys podcast:  Tesla CEO Elon Musk puffed on a marijuana joint, lit up a flamethrower, and showed off a Samurai sword during a Thursday night interview with podcast host Joe Rogan. It’s been a tumultuous month for Musk, attempting to take the electric carmaker private and releasing a series of controversial tweets that sent Tesla stock prices on a roller coaster. He appeared to be more at ease during the casual interview wearing his Occupy Mars t-shirt and commenting on the future of artificial intelligence. As for interesting comments: manufacturing electric cars is “very difficult,” getting governments to regulate artificial intelligence isn’t going anywhere, and his underground tunnel in Los Angeles isn’t going forward, “Mostly because of paperwork.” While marijuana is legal in California, where the interview took place, Musk’s phone started getting hit with messages. “I’m getting text messages from friends saying, ‘What the hell are you doing smoking weed?'” he said. Musk explained that he’s “not a regular smoker of weed” because he “doesn’t find it’s very good for productivity. It’s like a cup of coffee in reverse,” he said. Using marijuana, along with taking Ambien to deal with his sleeping problem, has been of concern among Tesla shareholders and board members since a New York Times interview last month. As for flying cars, Musk doesn’t see the point of investing in it as a practical mode of transportation. “If you get one of those toy drones and imagine it’s 1,000 times heavier — that’s not going to make your neighbors happy,” Musk said. “If you want a flying car, just put wheels on a helicopter.”

Bolt going global:  The Chevrolet Bolt is getting ready to roll out to new markets. Pam Fletcher, vice president of the automaker’s global electric vehicle programs, told an audience at Citi’s 2018 Global Technology Conference that the Bolt EV electric car will ship out to new markets around the globe due to unforeseen demand. “We see demand increasing in markets we’re already in and we’ve seen new markets around the globe that we didn’t originally plan to have the Bolt in asking for it,” she said. “And so, we’ll be announcing some of these additional markets, here, in the not-so-distant future.”

California bill supporting clean trucks:  Sixty companies are urging California Governor Brown to sign a bill that will encourage more big rigs powered by clean fuels to operate on California highways and roads. Assembly Bill 2061 (D-Frazier) will speed the improvement of air quality in disadvantaged communities that are often heavily impacted by polluting diesel trucks weight limit by a small percentage. Current law restricts the gross vehicle weight of trucks to 80,000 pounds. Because the energy storage and fuel delivery systems for zero emission (ZE) and near-zero (NZE) vehicles are presently heavier than diesel tanks, the restriction means that fleet operators who use cleaner technologies must carry smaller payloads, which creates a significant disincentive. AB 2061 would increase the weight limit for ZE and NZE trucks to 82,000 pounds and thereby improve the business case for cleaner trucks. The bill is co-sponsored by CALSTART, the California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition, and San Diego County Disposal Association.

National Drive Electric Week:  National Drive Electric Week will be starting tomorrow at nationwide EV ride and drives. Running Sept. 8-16, the nationwide celebration is geared toward heightening awareness of the widespread availability of plug-in vehicles and the benefits of all-electric and plug-in hybrid-electric cars, trucks, motorcycles, and more. They are fun to drive, are less expensive and more convenient to fuel than gasoline vehicles, are better for the environment, promote local jobs, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil, according the event organizers. Those interested in buying or leasing an EV can go to one of the events and talk to owners who have successfully done so.

DOE grants:  The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the selection of 42 projects totaling $80 million to support advanced vehicle technologies that can enable more affordable mobility, strengthen domestic energy security, reduce U.S. dependence on foreign sources of critical materials, and enhance the country’s economic growth. Batteries and electrification projects won $31.9 million in funding. These research projects will develop technologies to recharge multiple electric vehicles quickly and at very high “extreme” power levels; software, controls, and hardware to provide physical and cybersecurity protection of electric vehicles and electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The projects will also work to develop cathode materials for next generation electric vehicle batteries that eliminate or significantly reduce the use of cobalt, an expensive and foreign-sourced critical material.

California and Trump administration officials meet on clean car rules, AltCar coming up in October

Fuel economy and emissions rule:  California clean air regulators met with Trump administration officials on Wednesday to work on resolving their conflict over clean vehicle emissions and mileage standards. The Trump administration had set off protests and lawsuit filings with its Safer and Affordable Fuel Efficient Vehicles rule that would freeze the mpg and emissions rules at 2020 levels through 2026. It would also take away California’s power to set state emissions rules — which is being followed by a dozen other states and the District of Columbia. Officials said they agreed to hold future meetings to work out the national fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards. California Air Resources Board chair Mary Nichols last month told Reuters that she sees a “window” to making a deal this fall.

NIO going public:  Chinese electric-vehicle maker and Tesla-rival NIO Inc. launched a U.S. stock sale that could raise up to $1.32 billion and bring its market valuation up to about $8.5 billion. That would happen before the startup has generated any substantial revenue. The Shanghai-based company is planning to list on New York Stock Exchange in about two weeks.

Lyft also going public:  Lyft has started the process for an initial public offering in an effort to beat Uber to the public markets, sources said. The ride-hailing firm has hired IPO adviser Class V Group LLC to guide Lyft management, said people familiar with the discussions who asked not to be identified. Banks will be pitched as financial backers as soon as September with the listing targeted for March or April. In another story, Toyota Motor Corp. announced a $500 million investment in Uber to jointly develop autonomous vehicle technology. The ride-hailing giant will integrate Toyota’s Guardian autonomous technology into Toyota Siennas for use in Uber’s ride-hailing network.

AltCar Expo coming in October:  The 13th annual AltCar Expo & Conference will be held Oct. 12-13, 2018, at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. This year’s conference will focus on California’s trailblazing commitment to alternative technology transportation, infrastructure and energy. “AltCar has become the most nationally respected event for industry, municipalities and general public that showcases the latest products, news and information for alternative technology vehicles and infrastructure,”says California State Senator Fran Pavley.

On Friday, Terry Tamminem, CEO, Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, will make opening remarks. Panel topics include legislative issues, “Current and Ongoing OEM Commitments to Alternative Technology Vehicles,” and “Alternative Technology Transportation – ‘No Turning Back.’” Friday will feature the Industry & Fleet Conference, and the Expo and Ride & Drive is open to industry and the public. Those attending the Friday speaker panels can find an early bird discount here.

 

Hyundai Kona Electric joins 200-mile plus club, CALSTART hosting Drive-to-Zero event on commercial vehicles

New member to 200-mile plus club:  The Hyundai Kona Electric received a rating of 258 miles per charge in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s rating. For MPGe figures, it was given 132 city, 108 highway, and 120 combined. The range rating puts it in a small league with above 200-miles per charge vehicles that includes the Chevy Bolt, Tesla Model 3, Tesla Model S, and Tesla Model X. The Kona Electric is powered by a 64 kWh battery that has a 150 kW and 395 Nm electric motor (front-wheel drive), and a top speed of 104 mph. It has 100 kW CCS Combo DC fast charging capability.

Lucid Motors finds $1B investor:  PIF, the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund that may be helping Tesla go private, may also be investing more than $1 billion in Lucid Motors and its high-performance electric models. According to sources familiar with the matter, that would be $500 million at fist and cash injections later based on goals being met. CEO Elon Musk has said that PIF may be investing up to $72 billion in taking Tesla off the stock market into a private company. PIF has already agreed to other investments including $45 billion into a giant fund led by Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp. that will be funding several new mobility technologies.

Getaround raising funds:  Car-sharing/car rental firm Getaround is taking on Hertz and Avis with its “peer-to-peer car-sharing model. It’s been enough to raise $300 million from an investment round led by SoftBank. The car rental company has raised $400 million since its founding, with Toyota having previously made an early investment in the startup. Using the Getaround app, users can search for cars parked near them to choose one for a ride. The account is set up with the customer’s drivers license and credit card, and the app allows the user to unlock the door from their phone. These cars will be provided by other car owners who join the Getaround network and want to make side income off their car when they’re not using it.

Ford recalling some electric models:  Ford is recalling the charging cords for more than 50,000 of its plug-in hybrid and battery electric cars sold in North America since they could cause fires in electrical outlets. The 120-volt charging chords came with certain 2012 through 2015 Focus all-electric cars and some 2013 through 2015 Fusion Energi and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrids. Ford reported that four fires had started in C-Max vehicles, but there no injuries. In three of the fires, owners had been using their own extension cord, which Ford had warned against doing. The fourth fire was inconclusive and Ford said it does not believe the fire was related to the cord. Dealers will be getting new cords for Ford owners to replace the first version; the new cords can sense high temperatures and shut off charging if necessary. Letters will be going out to owners starting next week.

CALSTART event next month:  CALSTART will host the “Global Commercial Vehicle Drive-to-Zero” workshop on Sept. 11 at the Bay Area Metro Center in San Francisco. CALSTART will launch a new seven-year program during the event aimed at dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 with a focus on global medium- and heavy-duty vehicle markets. It’s an affiliate event for the U.N. Foundation’s Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) supporting the Paris Agreement. Under contract with the California Air Resources Board (CARB), CALSTART has done an extensive analysis, validated by global OEMs, and identified which segments of the medium- and heavy-duty vehicle market could most rapidly transition to zero- and near-zero emission technology. The event next month will kick-off a multi-year partnership between CALSTART and those who share the vision of making commercial zero emission vehicles widespread by 2025. Visit this page to register.

SEC investigates legality of Tesla’s moves to go private, Electrify America ads say EVs taking personal mobility out of Stone Age

SEC and Tesla:  The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s provocative tweet Tuesday about taking the electric-car company private, according to two people familiar with the matter who’ve asked to not be named. SEC enforcement attorneys in the San Francisco office had already been gathering information on the company’s manufacturing goals and sales targets, with Musk’s tweet being added and investigated for its credibility. Tesla’s potential to go private comes during a turbulent period of hard-to-reach production targets for the Model 3. The company’s stock prices have jumped and fallen this week — up after his statement that he’s secured funding for taking the company private, and down 4.8% today to $352.45 as doubt grows over Musk’s company blog post on his goal to buy out shareholders at $420. The SEC said the inquiry is preliminary and won’t necessarily lead to anything more formal such as charges of wrongdoing.

The SEC has shown concerns over another matter regarding Tesla going private. On Wednesday, the SEC sent the company a subpoena regarding Musk’s Monday blog post that Saudi Arabia’s sovereign fund first approached him last year about taking Tesla private last year. Tesla could become one of around 200 investments made by Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia’s campaign to reduce its oil dependence and diversify its economy. Musk wrote that the country’s Public Investment Fund recently bought an almost 5% stake in Tesla, and were part of his recent tweet that his proposal to go private had “funding secured,” he said. The SEC is now facing new legislation signed this week by President Trump that expands the government’s authority to investigate and potentially block foreign takeovers of domestic companies. The federal government still has authority to examine foreign investments in U.S. companies even when its not a majority stake acquisition. If the Saudi Arabia sovereign fund comes through, it would be the second significant foreign investor in the electric carmaker. China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd. owns almost 5 percent of the company, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Ford and AVs:  Ford Motor Co. has outlined the values and practices of its autonomous vehicle (AV) strategy in a new report, “A Matter of Trust.” The 44-page report covers Ford’s goals, philosophy, priorities and technical approach to AV development; and its provides details about its work with Argo, an artificial intelligence company that Ford invested in last year. The two companies have been researching communication between AVs and pedestrians through a partnership with Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. Ford and Argo and also conducting pilot programs with Postmates and Domino’s Pizza studying customer interaction with driverless vehicles. Ford is the third company after Waymo and General Motors to release such a report.

BYD in Thailand:  BYD has delivered 101 battery electric e6 hatchback cars to Bangkok, with another 1,000 more to come. The agreement with Thailand to export an additional fleet of cars moves BYD to the number one position in the country‟s market for all-electric vehicles. Bangkok‟s new e6 fleet will be utilized as VIP taxis and as part of a car sharing service. With just two hours of charging time, BYD cars are able to travel up to 400 kilometers (248.5 miles).

Bosch eCity Truck:  Bosch solution makes electrical powertrains for delivery vehicles cheaper and more efficient. The market potential is huge in its local market — three-fourths of Germany’s commercial vehicles are vans. With its eCityTruck powertrain solutions, the German auto supplier offers “economical solutions for the electrification of light commercial vehicles weighing up to 7.5 tons. These solutions are easy to integrate and facilitate the rapid implementation of vehicle manufacturers’ electrification strategies.”

Electric scooter market:  There’s a new mobility competitive battle to gain share with consumers who’d rather pay for a ride than own a car. Bird and Lime are two startups that offer electric scooter rentals in dozens of markets in the U.S. and Europe. These scooter services have Uber and Lyft beat on pricing. For example, in Los Angeles, Uber has a minimum fare of $5.60, while Bird offers just $1 plus $0.015 per minute in LA and other markets. Uber does have a partnership with Bird’s competitor Lime. The report is the first issues of The Rideshare Guy’s Mobility Report.

Ultra-low NGVs:  Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) and Food Express, Inc. (FXI) announced the addition of 11 new ultra-low emission natural gas trucks to the FXI fleet. The company, with the assistance of SoCalGas, applied for and received $1.1 million in grant funding for the new trucks which started making deliveries this week. The company has an additional 35 trucks on order. Funding was received from the Prop 1B program administered by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District and the California Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Program (HVIP).

Electrify America ad campaign:  Electrify America, Volkswagen’s company investing in electric vehicle charging infrastructure and promoting the adoption of Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEVs), has launched its first-ever national advertising campaign leading into the fall television season. The integrated campaign kicks off with national TV broadcast, radio, and a website, www.Plugintothepresent.com. The advertising campaign, “JetStones,” used the theme song from two popular Hanna-Barbera cartoon, “The Jetsons,” and “The Flinstones,” in its TV and radio spots. The idea here is to bring personal transportation out of the Stone Age and into the future. The advertising spot features electric vehicles from six different car manufacturers to showcase a wide variety of EVs available in today’s marketplace.

 

States battling Trump’s fuel economy cut, CAR Management Briefing Seminar highlights

The Trump administration’s proposal to cap federal fuel economy rules at 35 mpg, instead of the original level around 50 mpg by 2025, has set off opposition from state governors and other leading stakeholders. California and 18 other states promised yesterday to fight Trump’s proposal to weaken fuel efficiency and emissions standards — and California will use every legal tool to fight back. Gov. Jerry Brown pledged to, “fight this stupidity in every conceivable way possible.”

“This is a huge setback for the industry, especially suppliers that create two thirds of all U.S. auto-related jobs. Automotive suppliers are making billion-dollars bets in high-efficiency vehicle technology. Today’s announcement is likely to provoke a long battle in the courts and create a tremendous amount of uncertainty. Meanwhile, suppliers in other countries will be racing ahead to help the rest of the world meet their obligations under the global climate accord,” said John Boesel, CEO of CALSTART.

Plug In America will be joining a lawsuit to defend the electric vehicle from the “devastating effects this proposal will have — not just on the EV market, but on clean air, national security, public health and the global climate.”

 

Center for Automotive Research (CAR) Management Briefing Seminars, held July 30-Aug. 2 at Traverse City, Mich.

Trade delegates from Canada and Mexico made the case for their countries not being enemies of the state. Stalled out North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations, newly imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum, and the Trump administration’s investigation into whether auto imports are a threat to U.S. security, have backed Canada and Mexico into a corner and derailed the NAFTA alliance.

Nissan is in a collaboration with NASA to develop what is billed as the “world’s safest traffic control system,” to get autonomous vehicles through busy intersections where humans and vehicles confusingly mix, or through pop-up construction zones where how to proceed may be unclear. Nissan has been emphasizing the human element. Informing Nissan’s traffic-control system is NASA’s Mars Control center and the U.S. Federal Aviation Admin. air-traffic control system.

Auto supplier Continental has been using the CAR seminars to showcase its latest biometrics technology, which lets drivers unlock and start their car with their face, fingerprint or voice commands — just like the newest cellphone. Continental’s tech is meant to provide an extra layer of safety for drivers and passengers. For example, someone would need to scan their fingerprint on a particular button or speak a password through a voice recognition system to start the car, even when they have a working key.

Toyota showed off the latest version of its hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered Class 8 commercial test truck. It’s an improved version of Toyota’s first Project Portal vehicle which began operation in April 2017 and has logged 10,000 miles (16,000 km) of real-world testing.

 

Oregon protects itself against a lawsuit attempting to block clean vehicle incentives: 

The Oregon supreme court ruled against a lawsuit filed by AAA Oregon/Idaho and the Oregon Trucking Association that challenged the state’s proposed funding mechanism for the electric vehicle (EV) rebate program. The state supreme court’s rulig againt the lawsuit allows the Clean Vehicle Rebate Program to move forward. The program offers two rebates — a rebate of up to $2,500 for the purchase or lease of any new electric or plug-in hybrid car with a base MSRP of $50,000 or less. The second rebate provides up to $2,500 to lower-income drivers and can be combined to provide $5,000 towards a new vehicle, or applied to a used electric car.

 

Tesla and BMW sidestepping tariff war with China, Formula E will see more powerful electric racers

Tesla and BMW making deals in China:  Tesla and BMW are preparing to avert some of the steep tariff increases coming out of the trade war between the U.S. and China. Tesla is closing a deal on its second vehicle manufarutinrg plant, in Beijing, in which the U.S. electric carmaker will own 100% of the plant. BMW, which has been in Chinese joint ventures for years, will become the first foreign automaker to own a majority share of a Chinese automobile venture. The trade war continues to escalate, with China on Wednesday vowing to add another $200 billion in U.S. tariffs in retaliation to President Trump’s moves. Tesla CEO Elon Musk made the deal on Tuesday for the Shanghai plant, which the company said will double its vehicle manufacturing capacity. The plant could cost $1 billion to built, and construction will start early next year. Tesla could be the first of many companies setting up shop in one of China’s free-trade zone that sidesteps its typical requirement for joint-ventures with Chinese companies. Beyond expanding the BMW Brilliance Automotive partnership, BMW inked a deal with Great Wall Motor to produce Mini electric vehicles through a new 50:50 joint venture, Spotlight Automotive Limited, which will be dedicated to developing and producing EVs in China.

Looking at the Big Picture:  Green Auto Market’s take on developments impacting the auto industry, global economy, and clean transportation.

Formula E will see more powerful electric racers:  The FIA Formula E racing series will be seeing stronger batteries in its next season ready to power sleek, open-cockpit race cars. These new vehicles, bearing a resemblance to the Batmobile, will be able to hold up to 250 kilowatts of power (about 335 horsepower) and reach speeds of 174 miles per hour. Owners of the electric racers will no longer have to swap cars during the race. The current season is ending in Brooklyn this weekend. The new technology will bring the electric racers up to where they’ve needed to go since Formula E’s inception. “That’s a big, big step,” said Nico Rosberg, a retired Formula 1 driver who’s now an investor in Formula E. “Battery performance is finally at a necessary level.”

Trucking seeing costs spike:  The cargo hauling trucking industry will see increased costs due to a shortage of drivers, new regulations, and strong demand. Inflation is expected to come from America’s vital cargo hauling sector, which is integral to economic growth. Truckmakers are testing out autonomous commercial trucks and platooning, but truck operators won’t be seeing those come to market anytime soon. New government regulations have been targeted at making roads safer while limiting hours on the road for truckers. Rising diesel prices are impacting truck operator profits, but costs are rising overall. The cost of a full truckload has soared this year, according to Cass Information Systems’ measure of per-mile rates. These costs, excluding fuel, leaped 9% in May from a year earlier.

Tesla losing tax credits:  Soon after hitting its 5,000 Model 3s produced per week target, Tesla will see its federal $7,500 tax credits come to an end after passing the 200,000 electric vehicles sold mark. It will be at $7,500 for the rest of this quarter and the following quarter (through the end of 2018), and then will drop to $3,750 for six months. From there, the federal tax credit is cut in half to $1,875 for another six months and then will disappear. The expected tax cut may be one of the reasons that Tesla upped deliveries to Canadian customers in June.