For Today: Test drive new Nissan Leaf at NDEW, Longer range EVs and FCVs from Hyundai

Drive the new Nissan Leaf:  Nissan will be showing the next-generation Leaf all-electric car during National Drive Electric Week, following right after the global reveal on September 5. In eight cities, you can sign up for the “Drive and Discover Experience” for a test drive. Nissan is the official sponsor of the event for the third straight year. “The timing couldn’t be better. Bringing LEAF to some of the most enthusiastic EV advocates just days after its global debut is the perfect way to kick things off for this technology-packed car,” said Brian Maragno, director, Nissan EV Marketing and Sales Strategy.

Electric vans for postal delivery:  The StreetScooter WORK XL has started being manufactured for postal carriers in Germany at a plant in Aachen. It comes through a partnership between Deutsch Post DHL and Ford using the Ford Transit chassis to build electric delivery vans. About 150 pre-production WORK XL models will be build this year, and more than 2,500 of these production vehicles by the end of 2018. It will be equipped with battery pack options going from 30-90 kWh, offering 80-220 kilometers (50-124 miles) of range. It has 20 cubic maters of storage space, capable of hauling over 200 packages. Deutsch Post DHL is also building the StreetScooter WORK and WORK L vans.

Hyundai launches longer range EVs and FCV:  Hyundai will be launching long-range electric vehicles and a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle that can travel farther. The South Korean company has also upped its green car strategy under the Hyundai and Kia brands, which has gone up to 31 eco-friendly vehicles coming out by 2020, up from the previous goal of 28. The company announced today that one of its new EVs will go 500 kilometers (311 miles) per charge when it comes out after 2021. A small electric SUV will have a driving range of 390 km (about 242 miles) will come out during the first half of next year. The company also announced that it will be launching a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle that can travel more than 580 kilometers (360 miles) after being fueled. The second-generation fuel cell SUV will be coming out early next year. Hyundai said it be going 40% farther than its first-generation fuel cell vehicle, the Tucson ix FCEV. So far, the green car campaign has been led by the Ioniq hybrid, all-electric, and upcoming plug-in hybrid version.

For Today: Chinese company says it sill bring first mass-scale electric van to U.S., Consumers preferring shared mobility over car ownership

First mass-scale electric vans:  Chanje, a California-based startup company, says it will bring the first mass-scale electric medium-duty vehicles to fleets in the U.S. market. The all-electric commercial vans will start being delivered later this year. The company is co-owed by Hong Kong-based FDG Electric Vehicles Limited. FDG owns other EV companies, including Prevok, a Chinese joint venture with Smith Electric Vehicles. Chanje will tap into FDG’s EV and lithium ion battery manufacturing resources. The large electric van will be sold to fleets “at a previously unavailable scale and price,” and will be “purpose-built to be a long-life truck.”

Alternative fuel calculator:  ACT Research just made available an enhanced fuels calculator that helps fleets analyze operating costs when using diesel, natural, gas, hydrogen, and electricity. ACT’s Truck Fuel Calculator allows users to measure energy choice and vehicle cost, fuel and performance, and maintenance over a period of time or cycle. “Electric vehicle technology continues to make strides as it further penetrates the various vehicle classifications with Class 8 on the docket,” said Ken Vieth, senior partner and general manager at ACT Research. “All viable commercial vehicle power alternatives must now be considered to accurately measure potential cost

Ride-hailing versus car ownership:  A new study shows consumers are starting to prefer mobility services like Uber and Lyft over car ownership. The study was done by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, Texas A&M Transportation Institute, and Columbia University. Research was done in Austin, Texas, where ride-hail services like Uber and Lyft pulled services last year due to a local ordinance. The study found that 41% of those surveyed turned to their own vehicle after Uber and Lyft left the market; and 9% actually bought an additional car for their transportation needs. Three percent switched over to public transit; and 42% went over to another, smaller transportation networking company.

 

For Today: Mazda goes sustainable, car2go increasing ridership

Mazda sustainability drive:  Mazda just released details on Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030 that includes the first ever commercialized gasoline engine with a compression ignition. That will bring 20% to 30% more fuel efficiency than current models on the market with Mazda’s Skyactiv technology. The corporate sustainability campaign will shoot for 2019 to roll out the new Skyactiv-X and its first electric vehicle. That could be coordinated with its Toyota alliance for jointly developing EVs. Sustainable Zoom-Zoom is structured around reducing corporate carbon dioxide emissions, well-to-wheel, 50% by 2030 and 90% by 2050.

Uber battle continues:  Former Uber chief Travis Kalanick won’t be returning to his previous job leading the ride-hailing company, co-founder Garret Camp said. The company is committed to bringing in a new “world-class CEO to lead Uber,” he said in an email to challenge a news report published in Recode. Kalanick stepped down in late June, seven years after starting the global giant with a group of Silicon Valley buddies. The pressure was intensifying following a series of revelations of questionable business practices, including being a bad place for women to work. Kalanick told Recode that he is “Steve Jobs-ing it,” which means he thinks Uber will have to bring him back to lead the company to victory, as Apple had done with Jobs. Several Uber board members disagree with Kalanick.

car2go seeing growth:  Daimler’s car sharing unit, car2go, reported that its usage increased 40% year-over-year in the first half of 2017 compared to a year prior. That’s taking place at 11 North American locations with 4.5 million trips taken so far this year. Members are spending 33% more time traveling this year than last. The company is in discussions with other cities about car2go opening shop there, with the company emphasizing the environmental and economic benefits of using its one-way carsharing model.

For Today: Tesla Model 3 orders cancelled, Watching US-China relations

Model 3 orders:   Total orders for the Tesla Model 3 are now at 455,000 with about 63,000 cancellations having been made over the past year. CEO Elon Musk said that
cancellations came from people burning out over having to wait an hour and a half to complete the order process online. During a quarterly earnings call yesterday, the company announced that it had burned through about $1.16 billion in cash during Q2 to keep the Model 3 factory on schedule along with Gigafactory battery production. Stocks closed yesterday with a 7.4% jump to $350.13 as investors remained enthusiastic.

Used green car sales:  CarMax reports that the Toyota Prius last year was the most popular used hybrid/EV sold at its nationwide chain of stores. That was followed by the Ford
C-Max, Ford Fusion, Lexus CT, and Kia Optima. Ford will be taking the C-Max hybrid and plug-in hybrid out of production but it has been doing better lately in new vehicle sales; the Fusion has done well, too, being very competitive with the Prius in the hybrid space. The Prius has seen a lot of fluctuation his year in hybrid hatchback sales. The Prius Prime has been doing very well, competing with the Chevy Volt and Bolt, and the Tesla Model S and X in U.S. new vehicle sales.

Tension between U.S. and China:  U.S. relations with China continue to be tense under the Trump administration, with three leading Democratic senators urging the president to stand up to China. Trump’s issues have focused on protecting intellectual property and honoring trade practices between the nations. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer was one of the three. Trump has been pressing China to cut steel production to cut oversupply and to rein in North Korea’s missile testing program. The Obama administration, while also concerned over high tariffs and equitable trade, had established strong relations with the country on vehicle electrification and renewable energy goals. Now it’s up to California and Gov. Jerry Brown to keep those goals going – electric cars, buses, and trucks. China is likely to adopt some version of California’s zero emission vehicle policy by the end of the year. But relations between the two nations could be a stumbling block.

For Today: UK banning gasoline and diesel powered cars, Get ready for AltCar Expo

UK banning fossil-fuel powered cars:  The United Kingdom will be banning the sale of vehicles powered by gasoline and diesel by 2040, and would like to see all them off their roads by 2050. The UK follows France, which decided to ban all fossil-fuel powered vehicles by 2040. The mayors of London, Paris, Madrid, Mexico City, and Athens are developing their own policies for clean air and climate change, would like to ban diesel vehicles. The British government has faced legal pressure from a series of lawsuits, and the national government has been taking steps to scrap diesel-powered cars. Nearly 200 million pounds (about $261 million) will go to local governments in the UK to help them restrict access by diesel-powered vehicles to extremely polluted roads. Battery electric vehicles will probably be the route chosen by the national government to replace gasoline and diesel powered cars.

M-B motorsports joining Formula E:  Mercedes-Benz will be joining ranks with other automakers by competing in the Formula E electric racing series starting in the 2019-2020 racing season. In 2018, the automaker’s motorsports division will finish its long-term involvement with German racing series Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) to focus on Formula E. The company has been committed to racing and transitioning over to eco-friendly vehicles in recent years, including winning championships with its hybrid technology in the Formula One series. Mercedes-Benz will becomes the ninth auto manufacturer to join the series. Other automakers include Audi, BMW, Citroen DS, Jaguar, Mahindra, Renault, and electric carmaker startups Nio and Faraday Future.

Get ready for AltCar Expo:  The AltCar Expo & Conference, now in its 12th year, will be taking place in Santa Monica, Calif., on Sept. 15-16, 2017. The free admission two-day event features a series of speaker panels on pressing topics for fleets, government officials, vehicle manufacturers, technology companies, and enthusiasts interested in the issues and trying out the vehicles. AltCar Expo offers the best Ride & Drive out there, with several green cars to drive and a few commercial fleet vehicles to see. With the Trump administration deciding to exit the Paris climate accord, leaders are looking for other channels to address the issues; that includes the role California is playing.

“AltCar Expo was created to provide a forum for both industry and the general public to learn about existing alternatives to the way they use energy and transportation,” said Christine Dzilvelis, Organizing Partner of AltCar Expo. “Today, 52 percent of all Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) purchases are happening in California, and our state continues to lead the nation as it relates to clean energy policies that are driving national and global change. Our intention is for California to continue to lead in this area, and AltCar offers a venue to generate awareness about existing and future technologies and encourage their use.”

For Today: Will the Chevy Volt go away, Fisker parting ways with Nanotech on batteries

Will the Volt go away?:  General Motors is evaluating continuation of six cars, including the Chevy Volt, determining which vehicles will be continued or canceled in the coming years, Reuters reported Friday. The other five would be the Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac CT6, Cadillac XTS, Chevrolet Impala, and Chevrolet Sonic. GM declined to comment. Pressure from shareholders to increase sales may have GM tipping more to pickups, crossovers, and SUVs. It would be a shame to see, with the redesigned Volt doing well in sales – No. 3, close behind the Tesla Model S in the first six months of U.S. sales.

Toyota rolling out new energy vehicle:  Toyota may launch an electric vehicle in China by 2019, to comply with the government’s “new energy vehicle” policy with its strict mandates coming into effect. Toyota said it will introduce EVs in China in a few years, but wouldn’t confirm whether it would start in 2019. Reuters also citied Japanese newspaper Asahi on a story that it the first EV will be built on Toyota’s C-HR sport utility vehicle. The newspaper expects annual output to start at more than several thousand units.

Fisker parting ways with Nanotech:  Fisker, Inc., is ending its joint venture alliance with Nanotech Energy Inc., called Fisker Nanotech, which would have manufactured battery packs for the upcoming EMotion sporty, luxury sedan. The company would have had to focus entirely on Fisker and let other client projects slip away, which won’t work for the company to do, said Jack Kavanaugh, chairman and acting CEO of Nanotech Energy. That JV had started with the Henrik Fisker starting his new electric car company in October. The automaker will continue to “work with Nanotech on the applications of graphene,” but it will use battery cells provided by LG Chem for the EMotion, Fisker said.

 

For Today: Elon Musk gets Whitehouse greenlight for east coast tunnels, Chrysler only marketing Pacifica as a plug-in hybrid in California

Tesla CEO gaining support for fast train tunnels:  Elon Musk’s The Boring Company received approval from the White House to build a series of tunnels that could run from New York City to Washington, D.C. “Just received verbal govt approval for The Boring Company to build an underground NY-Phil-Balt-DC Hyperloop. NY-DC in 29 mins,” he tweeted yesterday. He later tweeted out that formal approval with the Trump administration is still needed, but after discussions they’ve had, he’s confident the project will be able to move forward. That could bring fast Hyperloop-like trains to Los Angeles and important transport routes on the east coast.

Freight haulers ask feds to keep SmartWay:  Major freight shippers, including Walmart, are asking U.S. House and Senate appropriations committees to restore funding for the voluntary SmartWay clean trucking program. Like several clean transportation programs, it had been cut from the Trump administration’s 2018 federal budget proposal. SmarWay has been working with freight haulers to save an estimated eight billion gallons of fuel and significantly reduce diesel trucks’ emissions of NOx and carcinogenic fine particulate matter. The coalition of companies said in a July 14 letter that the program has saved companies about $27.8 billion in fuel costs since it started in 2004.

Chrysler Pacifica plugging into California:  Chrysler is marketing its Pacifica minivan as a hybrid – and not what it really is, a plug-in hybrid – in every state except California. The Fiat Chrysler Automobiles division is concerned that most U.S. consumers will be confused or concerned about having to charge for the first time and be subject to range anxiety. Plugging in is less of a worry in California, which has made up about half of U.S. plug-in vehicle sales. Still, it is possible to occasionally see Chrysler billboard ads in the state that only identify the Pacifica as a hybrid.

For Today: Nissan Leaf coming with e-Pedal, California extending cap-and-trade funds

Nissan Leaf with e-Pedal:  Nissan has just added the e-Pedal to the upcoming refreshed Leaf electric car. Flipping a switch turns the accelerator into an e-Pedal, where you get to accelerate, decelerate, and stop the car all on one pedal. That will include driving on hills, and will ease some of the burden of being stuck in traffic – with 90% of driving needs now being met on one pedal. The new feature comes from Nissan Intelligent Mobility, which is dedicated to transforming how cars driven, powered and integrated into society. More will be revealed on e-Pedal, along with several other interesting changes, during the new Leaf launch in September.

Ports looking at Clean Air Action Plan:  The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach this week will be releasing updates to their Clean Air Action Plan. Mayors Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles and Robert Garcia of Long Beach have vowed to bring several near-zero emissions to the ports by 2035. Concerns over the increased cost of the trucks have been raised by trucking companies and others, and support for the measures has been coming from local residents, environmentalists, and an industry coalition. California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition has accelerated education efforts on the financial and environmental benefits of using renewable natural gas as a transportation fuel; that alternative fuel is expected to play a big part in the ports hitting the near-zero goal. The Coalition just hosted an RNG advocacy day in Sacramento, participated in a joint agency workshop on renewable gas, and co-hosted a webinar on the economic impacts of fueling low-NOx natural gas trucks with RNG.

Cap-and-trade continuing:  California on Monday extended the cap-and-trade program through 2030, which will raise more funds for clean vehicle programs in the state. Support came through when eight Republicans broke ranks and joined with Democrats to continue the program that came from AB 32; it requires companies to buy permits to release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Gov. Jerry Brown has been committed to adding the bullet train from Los Angeles to San Francisco, and bringing more electric vehicles and infrastructure to the state. Sources say there’s already more than $200 million available through the cap-and-trade auctions, now in their fifth year, that can go toward alternative fuels and infrastructure in the state.

For Today: Lux study on Trump’s impact on energy, Volkswagen claims it can beat Tesla Model 3 price by $8K

Lux study on impact of Trump administration:  No matter what the Trump administration’s agenda becomes on energy and environmental issues, the market is filling some of that void, according to a Lux Research analysis paper. Lux examined Trump’s America First Energy Plan and found that renewables and energy storage are well positioned to continue seeing strong growth. State-level policies have been drivers and will continue. Renewable fuels are most vulnerable to Trump’s agenda. “With uncertainty looming and the administration continuing to consider oil-and gas-friendly policies, Trump’s decision to remove the renewable fuel obligation could alter a decade-old ethanol industry,” the report said.

Despite the administration’s political agenda, the president’s actual influence will have an overall moderate impact in the U.S. energy landscape, the paper said. That seems to be the case with plug-in electrified vehicles sales in the U.S. and two other key global markets – demand is up even if federal government support may go away and the Trump administration has backed away from supporting the Paris climate accord. According to yesterday’s Green Auto Market Extended Edition, U.S., plug-in hybrid sales were up about 44% for the first half of 2017 versus that time period in 2016. Battery electric vehicle sales were up 29.2% for that period. Europe is up 27% in plug-in vehicle sales for this year (through May), with plug-in vehicle share at 1.4% of new vehicle sales during that period. In China, “new energy vehicle” sales, aka plug-in vehicle sales, reached about 195,000 sold in the first half of the year, up 14.4% year-over-year. June saw a real rebound in the China market, which had been down earlier in the year. June sales hit about 59,000 units sold, up 33.0% year-over-year. PEV sales made up about 2.7% of new vehicle sales in China during June.

Musk on AI and state sales bans:  Tesla CEO Elon Musk warned a meeting of U.S. governors on Saturday that government regulation of artificial intelligence is needed because it’s a “fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization.” Musk has taken a cautious approach to the AI question in recent years, using his experience with SpaceX missions and developing automated Tesla vehicles as reference. He addressed questions on space travel, self-driving cars, and solar power, at the summer conference of the National Governors Association in Rhode Island. He also brought up the controversial topic of states getting rid of laws blocking Tesla from selling its cars at corporate stores instead of through a franchised dealer network.

VW versus Tesla:  Volkswagen is tapping into its mass production, economies of scale advantage to sell its ID concept vehicles at a much cheaper price than the upcoming Tesla Model 3. VW’s Chief of Corporate Strategy Thomas Sedran said in an interview with German site Automobil Produktion that the starting price for an ID will be down to $27,000 before incentives – $8,000 cheaper than the $35,000 Model 3. That will still take a while as the German automaker’s ID portfolio is still in the early development phase; it will take a few years for the first one to show up at dealerships.

For Today: Hyperloop One ready to move forward, OPEC and oil companies see electric cars taking away oil demand

Hyperloop One test:  Hyperloop One is getting ready to test out its 28-foot-long pod in Nevada in the next few weeks, the startup said. Inspired by Tesla CEO Elon Musk in 2013, Los Angeles-based Hyperloop One is ready to take the pod transport through vacuum tubes in what could someday be a very fast ride between San Francisco and LA. The goal is to reach 250 miles per hour, which would shorten the car trip quite a bit.

Automated trucks:  Speakers at the Automated Vehicles Symposium in San Francisco on Wednesday expect that autonomous heavy-duty trucks will on the road in as little as three years – sooner than expected for light-duty passenger vehicles. Going to fully autonomous mode will take a while longer for commercial trucks, as it will for cars. Trucking companies are fascinated with the technology for its potential to make truck transport safer, improve customer service, and to help drivers become more productive. “A lot of the technology is driver assist or safety enhancement”, said Max Fuller, executive chairman of U.S. Xpress, a major U.S. trucking company. “If you look at [autonomous vehicles], it will come in pieces.”

Electric cars and oil demand:  Bloomberg New Energy Finance released a study today forecasting that electric cars will be reducing oil demand significantly by 2040. That comes from forecasts presented by OPEC, Exxon Mobil, and BP. OPEC quintupled its forecast for sales of plug-in sales, while Exxon Mobil, BP, and other oil producers also revised up their outlooks in the past year.