For Today: What happened at AltCar Expo, GM’ electrification and mobility strategy in China

AltCar Expo:  Fleets, government agencies, automakers, and technology suppliers are looking forward to the next phase of clean vehicles and infrastructure, according to speakers at AltCar Expo on Friday. Adam Mandel, supervisor, product strategy at EVgo, introduced speakers throughout the day, starting with Gary Lentsch, fleet manager at Eugene Water & Electric Board, on NAFA’s sustainable fleet accreditation program. Resources regional fleets are tapping into for clean vehicles and fuels were discussed in the next panel by Craig VanItem, fleet maintenance supervisor at City of Santa Monica, Vartan Yegiyan, police administrator II and assistant commanding officer at Los Angeles Police Department, Laura Renger, principal manager of air and climate at Southern California Edison, and Mike Bolin, senior account executive at SoCalGas. Issues discussed included finding the real cost of ownership for EVs in fleets; the “chicken or the egg” debate over what needs to be prioritized first – clean vehicles of the charging and fueling infrastructure; SCE’s $450 Clean Fuel Rewards Program; and SoCalGas on how landfills and waste are being converted into renewable natural gas. Marco Anderson, senior regional planner at Southern California Association of Governments, led an afternoon panel on EV charging at multi-unit dwellings and workplaces. The Santa Monica event hosted a wide range of vehicles on Friday and Saturday, including the new Nissan Leaf and improved Rogue Hybrid; a BYD electric bus customized for UCLA events; the Chevy Bolt; the Kia Optima and Nero plug-in hybrids and Soul electric; an RNG-powered commercial truck with 400 horsepower; the Toyota Mirai and Prius Prime; the Honda Clarity in its three variations – fuel cell, electric, and plug-in hybrid; and the Karma Revero plug-in hybrid sports car. AltCar Expo was tied into National Drive Electric Week, as the event provides a great opportunity to test drive and check out the latest in plug-in vehicle offerings.

Ford working with Mahindra:  Mahindra Group and Ford Motor Company announced a strategic alliance, designed to leverage the benefits of Ford’s global reach and expertise and Mahindra’s scale in India and successful operating model. The areas of potential cooperation include: mobility programs, connected vehicle projects, electrification, product development, and sourcing and commercial efficiencies. Mahindra has been leading the utility vehicles segment in India for the past seven decades, and is the only automaker with a portfolio of electric vehicles commercially available in India. The Indian automaker is also developing products like the GenZe – the world’s first electric connected scooter. “Ford is committed to India and this alliance can help us deliver the best vehicles and services to customers while profitably growing in the world’s fifth largest vehicle market,” said Jim Farley, Ford executive vice president and president of Global Markets.

GM in China:  General Motors CEO Mary Barra, speaking to media in Shanghai on Friday, said that the automaker is rolling out at least 10 new energy vehicles (NEVs) in China by 2020. Three of them were already placed in that market over the past year – the Cadillac CT6 and Buick Velite 5 plug-in hybrids and the Baojun E100 all-electric vehicle. Barra explained how it will be part of a larger move bring together autonomous vehicles, connectivity, and shared mobility services. The Chinese government is taking very seriously the need to address fast-growing cities with air pollution, traffic congestion, and safety. By 2025, nearly all of the Buick, Cadillac, and Chevrolet will have an electrified version. GM’s joint venture  company with Chinese automaker SAIC Motor, called SAIC-GM, will be opening a new battery assembly plant in Shanghai sometime this year to support the electrification strategy.

 

 

For Today: Daimler brings eCanter electric trucks to America, Mazda planning on adding an electrified version to all of its vehicles

eCanter electric truck comes to America:  Daimler beat Tesla in bringing commercial electric trucks first to the U.S. market. Mercedes brought Mitsubishi Fuso’s eCanter electric trucks to New York City yesterday. UPS, the Bronx Botanical Garden, Habitat for Humanity, and Big Reuse have begun two-year leases on a small number of the medium-duty electric trucks that can go up to 80 miles on a charge. Daimler had previously made a deal with 7-Eleven to send 25 of the trucks to Japan. The electric trucks can carry three to four and a half tons of cargo, which is a few tons less than the diesel equivalent.

New president at NGV advocacy group: NGVAmerica named Daniel Gage as its new president, as previous president Matthew Godlewski leaves for a position with Ford Motor Co. Gage comes to the natural gas vehicle advocacy group from the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, where he served as senior director of communications and public affairs since 2011. He holds more than 20 years of experience in government and community relations and public affairs. “It’s a defining moment for natural gas in transportation,” said Gage, “and I am honored to lead a talented group of professionals dedicated to advancing cleaner air through the expanded use of natural gas innovation.”

Mazda’s plan to electrify fleet:  Mazda Motor Corp. is planning on adding an electrified version to all of its vehicles by the early 2030s, according to a Kyodo News report. They’ll be all-electric, plug-in hybrid, and hybrid vehicles. The company currently offers one hybrid vehicle, a version of its Mazda3, and has focused on its fuel efficient Skyactiv system in gasoline engines. Electric powertrain technologies are being developed and may be deployed in Mazda vehicles starting in 2019. At that time, the company plans to reveal a very efficient gasoline engine that be used in plug-in hybrid models. Mazda previously forged an alliance with Toyota to develop electrified technology.

For Today: Honda is showing the Urban EV Concept at the Frankfurt auto show, Toyota and Honda supporting seven new hydrogen stations

Honda Urban EV:  Honda is showing the Urban EV Concept at the Frankfurt auto show. Built on a new platform, the company says it’s the model for a future battery electric production vehicle. It will be introduced into the European market with no word yet on whether it will show up in the U.S. It will have an on-board advanced Honda Automated Network Assistant acts as a personal concierge, which learns from the driver by detecting emotions behind their judgments for future recommendations. Honda’s Power Manager Concept, also revealed in Frankfurt, can store and manage energy between the grid, the electric car, and homes. The Urban EV Concept will come out in the near future. “This is not some vision of the distant future; a production version of this car will be here in Europe in 2019,” Honda Motor Co. President and CEO, Takahiro Hachigo.

Seven new hydrogen stations:  The California Energy Commission awarded a grant of $16,362,500 on Aug. 9 to Equilon Enterprises LLC, a subsidiary of Shell Oil Company, for the introduction of seven hydrogen refueling stations in Northern California. The hydrogen stations will be built in collaboration with Honda and Toyota, who will also offer financial support. All seven will be Shell-branded retail stations across Northern California: three in San Francisco, and one in each of Berkeley, Sacramento, Citrus Heights, and Walnut Creek. The Energy Commission awarded the grant through its Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP), which invests up to $100 million every year to support innovations in transportation and fuel technologies that help California meet its energy, clean air, and climate change goals.

Jaguar racing special edition:  Jaguar’s racing division will be launching an exclusive support race to the FIA Formula E Championship in season five at the end of 2018. The Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY will be the support series for the Formula E series, taking place on the same weekends at the same city circuits, starting in late 2018. The company says it has created the world’s first production battery electric vehicle race series. It will also support the launch of the Jaguar I-Pace, the company first battery electric vehicle.

 

For Today: China joins other countries in banning fossil-fuel vehicles, Daimler cutting production costs to make EVs more profitable

China joins global trend:  China is becoming one of several countries stopping fossil-fuel powered vehicles on its roads. Xin Guobin, the country’s vice minister of industry and information technology, announced in a speech Saturday that regulators are working on a timeline for phasing out the sales and production of the gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles. Norway, France, and the UK, are already going in that direction. Almost 80 percent of the global auto market is heading toward an eventual phase-out of petroleum-powered cars through government incentives and mandates. It’s a big job – with about 695,000 of 84 million new vehicles sold last year being electric; and with about a billon vehicles out on roads across the world now.

Ford Transit Custom PHEV tested in London:  Fleets took a look at the Ford Transit Custom plug-in hybrid van in the Cenex Low Carbon Vehicle 2017 event in Millbrook, UK. Ford will be testing 20 of these vans with fleets over a 12-month trials starting later this year. It will go 31 miles on battery only and 310 miles on electric and its 1.0-liter EcoBoost gasoline engine. It’s supported by the Transport for London agency with the Metropolitan Police and several city-based companies participating in the trial. “Seeing the PHEV Transits on the road is an exciting milestone, and we look forward to teaming up with our London partners and customers to explore how these vans can reduce emissions and operator costs in the city,” said Mark Harvey, Director, urban electrified van program, Ford of Europe.

Daimler cutting costs to make EVs profitable:  Daimler wants to cut production costs 4 billion euros ($4.8 billion) by 2025, and will channel funds into developing and manufacturing electric cars. CEO Dieter Zetsche and Frank Lindenberg, VP of finance and controlling Mercedes-Benz Cars, only expect to see half the profit margins now for EV compared to conventional internal combustion engine vehicles. That could break even, and EVs more price competitive, by 2025. Seeing battery prices come down will be a big part of it. More specifics were given on its electric fleet introductions – by 2022, there will be an electric version of every Mercedes model sold. It will be led by the new EQ electric brand, which Mercedes-Benz is overseeing. The Smart brand will stop selling vehicles with any internal combustion engines in 2020.

 

 

For Today: BMW Concept X7 and i-Series launches coming up, AltCar Expo speaker panels next Friday

BMW electric launches in Frankfurt:  BMW will be showing the giant, three-row SUV, BMW Concept X7 iPerformance just ahead of of the Frankfurt auto show. It will be available as a plug-in hybrid that’s expected to be competitive in the luxury utility segment. Photos went out unexpectedly ahead of time. Production will launch in 2018. BMW executives have said the X7 will go on sale in the U.S. market in early 2019. There’s also an i-Series model, that could be the long-anticipated i5 sedan, that will be revealed next week. It will be one of 12 all-electric vehicles launched by 2025, bringing the total to 25 electrified vehicles offered, BMW’s CEO said.

Maven taking off:  Julia Steyn, vice president-Urban Mobility and Maven at General Motors, says that Maven is booming with its consumer base and revenue growing tenfold each month. Its fleet is scheduled to have 1,000 Chevrolet Bolts as GM meets Maven’s orders in the coming months. The 136 Bolts put into service over the first half of the year have logged 1.85 million miles so far. Its Maven Gig program people looking to make money providing rides through Uber or Lyft, or Grubhub food takeout deliveries, or Instacart grocery shopping and delivery.

AltCar Expo panels:  Just as a reminder, there’s a great conference coming up next week – AltCar Expo & Conference will be on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 15-16 in Santa Monica. Here are titles of the workshops and events for Friday:

  • Building the Foundation for a Sustainable Fleet
  • Fleets Tapping into Local Resources for Clean Vehicles & Fuels
  • AltCar Award Presentation
  • NAFA Awards & Scholarships
  • The Role Car Companies Will Play in Ever-Shifting Landscape of Future Mobility
  • The Latest on MUD and Workplace Charging Projects and Progress

And don’t forget to look at Saturday’s speaker panel and hours open for the ride and drive. I’ll be moderating the second fleet panel on Friday morning – looking forward to seeing you there.

For Today: New Leaf make its debut, New EV incentives in California gone for now

New Leaf launched:  The 2018 Nissan Leaf made its debut in Tokyo with its 150-mile per charge range and starting price of $29,990. It will be going on sale in the U.S. in early 2018, powered by a 40 kWh battery and an 80-kilowatt electric motor. The Japanese automaker promised to release a faster, more powerful version with longer range in 2019. The new Leaf is not meeting the 200-mile electric vehicle standard that’s becoming the norm, but it is going about 40 miles further than the current Leaf and costs a bit less; and it can deliver 147 horsepower, 38% more than the previous version. It’s got a new sharp-edged aerodynamic look and a few tech features. That includes the ProPILOT advanced driver assistance system, ProPILOT Park, and the e-Pedal that allows for accelerating, decelerating and stopping the car by using the accelerator pedal alone.

Automotive-Electrification Index:  Global consulting firm AlixPartners just released its Automotive-Electrification Index that tracks vehicle electrification advances by automaker and by country. It combines the number of plug-in hybrid, battery electric, and fuel cell vehicles sold with other measures. These include the “e-range,” a combined percentage of the total ranges of all cars and trucks sold by each automaker; the “e-share” by automaker; and the combined e-ranges and e-shares by country and by major regions of the world. The new product was designed as a more meaningful tool supporting companies and countries striding toward bringing more electrified vehicles to market.

$3B EV incentives goes away:  California’s AB 1184 was amended late Friday, having its $3 billion taken out for future electric vehicle rebates. It now directs the California Air Resources Board to conduct studies on the best ways to write and implement EV rebate legislation. The report won’t be due until Sept. 1, 2019. Language was also removed from AB 1184 that offered a formula for providing higher rebate amounts. The full legislature will consider the amended bill. The $3 billion originally in AB 1184 would have offered rebates until 2030. It would have been six times higher than the nearly $500 million spent on EV rebates so far in the state.

For Today: Concept EQ A teaser sent out before Frankfurt, Mercedes-Benz supporting van rides for urban mobility

Concept EQ A in Frankfurt:  Mercedes-Benz has sent out a teaser photo of the Concept EQ A that will be revealed soon at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The teaser suggests that EQ A could be a crossover like the Generation EQ Concept show last year in Paris; it could be an electric sedan but most likely will be a small crossover or hatchback. It’s not going to roll out until 2020 or later as a production vehicle, and Mercedes-Benz is expected to reveal a few other electric EQ concept vehicles by that time. The company will also be showing a small autonomous concept car in Frankfurt called the Smart Vision EQ.

Merkel pressured to fund clean transportation:  German Chancellor Angela Merkel has committed to doubling funds dedicated to bringing clean transportation to urban spaces. It will double to 1 billon Europe ($1.19 billion) for the fund. As the national election approaches this month, Merkel has been heavily pressured to distance herself from auto executive ties. Critics also say Merkel put off dealing with the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. On Monday, she met city mayors and regional leaders in a follow-up to a summit last month at which automakers agreed to fix 5.3 million diesel cars to cut emissions

Mercedes-Benz supporting van rides for urban mobility:  Mercedes-Benz is entering the ridesharing venue through a U.S. joint venture with Via, a startup company that supports smart public transportation. Mercedes-Benz Vans is investing $50 million in the company, and Daimler Mobility Services’ Volker Mornhinweg will be joining Via’s board of directors. Via passengers secure rides through a mobile app. Via’s algorithm finds a vehicle that best matches the passenger’s route along with other riders in the van. The company’s mission is to support reducing traffic volumes in urban areas.

 

For Today: NLRB investigating Tesla worker safety conditions, Nissan Leaf sales doing well as next-gen version approaches

NLRB investigating Tesla factory conditions:  The National Labor Relations Board has filed a complaint and opened an investigation into worker safety conditions at Tesla’s Fremont, Calif., plant. The investigation comes from complaints filed by Tesla factory employees and the United Auto Workers union with charges of unfair labor practices. The Fremont factory has been picking up production volume as the Tesla Model 3 is being delivered to first buyers, and with production volumes speeding up later this year. Tesla sees it as a campaign by UAW to unionize Tesla workers, which has failed to gain enough support so far to win a union election. Employees have voiced their own concerns about working conditions in the factory. A study released by Worksafe in May found injuries at the Fremont plant to be much higher than the industry average in recent years.

Groups asking feds to retain fuel economy rules:  Several groups have asked to be heard when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency holds a Washington D.C. public hearing on Sept. 6. That hearing will explore possible changes to phase two of the fuel economy and emissions rules. Several groups have filed opinions opposing the Trump administration rolling back on the 2022-2025 standards adopted in the last days of the Obama administration. These groups include the Union of Concerned Scientists, Environmental Defense Fund, Sierra Club, International Council on Clean Transport, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), American Lung Association, Consumers Union, Consumer Federation of America, and BlueGreen Alliance. They’d like to see it stay in place over concerns for the environment, health, consumer and business interests, oil imports, and national security.

Nissan Leaf sales doing well:  Nissan reports that sales of its all-electric Leaf have been doing well lately, with an 8.3% increase over July. At 9,685 units sold in the U.S. so far in 2017, it’s up 22.3% over that same period last year. There’s been a lot of interest in the Leaf lately with the all-new version being launched in September. It will be longer range than the current Leaf and will feature a new set of tech features, including ePedal. Consumers are looking for more affordable electric cars and have a lot of interest in the new Leaf, along with the Tesla Model 3 and Chevy Bolt.