by Jon LeSage, editor and publisher, Green Auto Market
Here’s my take on the 10 most significant and interesting occurrences during the past week…….
- Bolt launch: The Chevy Bolt is back on track to launch by the end of the year, and it had never gone off course, according to Chevrolet. Several media reports and enthusiast websites said that the Bolt would be delayed by six months. The Bolt remains on schedule, with U.S. sales set to begin by year end, according to a Chevrolet spokesman. General Motors engineers have been spotted testing Bolts equipped with correct finishes and colors in the Detroit area, which means that the Bolt is on schedule.
- Midterm review extension: Three Congressional leaders asked federal environmental and safety officials to extend by 60 days the public comment period for the midterm review on new vehicle emissions and fuel economy standards. Fred Upton, chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce; Ed Whitfield, chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy and Power; and Michael Burgess, chairman of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, signed the letter that was sent to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Administrator Mark Rosekind.
- Audi electrified: Audi is preparing sporty models and electrified vehicles for launch as it emerges from parent company’s diesel reporting scandal. Audi has committed to make sure 25% of its sales will be plug-in hybrid or battery electric vehicles by 2025. Audi said the e-tron Quattro all-electric crossover vehicle will go on sale in 2018 as the lead model in its electrified vehicle campaign, with U.S. sales expected to start in 2019.
- California bill on HOV stickers: Plug In America has been opposing a bill in the California legislature, Assembly Bill 1964, that supports plug-in hybrids but limits purchase incentives on battery electric vehicles. The electric car advocacy group appreciates support the bill gives to High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) carpool lane green stickers for plug-in hybrid vehicles, but opposes limitations placed on white stickers for battery electric vehicles. As of last night, the bill had not progressed through the voting procedure in Sacramento and is likely to be put on hold.
- AB 1613: CALSTART is supporting California Assembly Bill 1613, which is backed by President pro Tempore Kevin De León and would allocate approximately $1.2 billion in revenues collected under the state’s cap and trade program. The majority of the funds were generated during auctions held by the state in 2015. “If Assembly Bill 1613 is approved by both houses, it would enable approximately $20 million in high-value clean transportation projects in the San Joaquin Valley. A number of very promising and different electric trucks and buses would be deployed in the Valley if this legislation passes,” said CALSTART President and CEO John Boesel. Read all about the clean transportation projects being funded that include electric transit buses and postal trucks.
- Fuel cell military pickup: General Motors will be testing out a hydrogen-powered Chevy Colorado pickup with the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) for military use. TARDEC says that it appreciates fuel cell capability because of its capabilities in off-road environments and because it is quiet. Additional tests will include demonstrating exportable power generation. GM and TARDEC will showcase the fuel cell vehicle at the Association of the United States Army’s fall meeting.
- Uber takes a loss: Uber lost $1.27 billion in the first half of 2016, according to sourves attending a shareholder call recently for the privately-held company. Incentive subsidies paid to Uber drivers, especially in China, caused much of the loss, the Uber chief financial officer said during the call. Subsidies for Uber’s drivers are responsible for the majority of the company’s losses globally, Gupta said during the earnings call. Some of that loss has come through intense competition with Chinese ride-hailing market leader Didi Chuxing. Uber has lost about $2 billion in two years in China, and has invested at least $1 billion in subsidy incentives for drivers in that market, according to the Bloomberg report. The recent deal with Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi is expected to help stabilize Uber’s financials. Another challenge has come through an aggressive price war with Lyft.
- Startups getting hit in China: Starting up an electric vehicle manufacturing company has been a hot commodity for angel investors in China, including well-known technology business leaders. That’s expected to take a downward spiral as the government leans toward cutting the list down to only 10 startups that will be receiving permits to become vehicle manufacturers. Half of those spots might already be taken. Beijing Electric Vehicle Co. and Hangzhou Changjiang Passenger Vehicle Co. have been grated permits. Companies preparing to file include Wanxiang Group, LeEco, and WM Motor.
- Kia Optima PHEV: Car and Driver reviewed the Optima PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle), Kia’s first plug-in. The main difference from the regular Optima hybrid lurks under the rear seats and trunk floor: a 9.8-kWh lithium-ion battery pack that, Kia claims, allows the PHEV to go up to 29 miles in electric-only mode and to operate at speeds of up to 75 mph on battery and electric motor, according to the reviewer.
- Cap and trade funds: See where funds raised by California’s cap and trade auction end up. It’s called the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund and has committed $850 to the state’s high-speed rail project as its largest recipient. Low carbon transportation projects are receiving $325 million to back zero and near-zero emission passenger vehicle rebates, freight transportation projects, and others.