For Today: Tesla Model 3 production not looking good, BYD sees growing demand for electric buses and trucks

Tesla Model 3 production:  Tesla’s aggressive strategy of growing from 100,000 vehicles manufactured this year to about 500,000 next year – mostly through the Model 3 – isn’t looking very good right now. Its stock prices have slipped 4.5% since the company said this month that only 260 Model 3s were produced in the third quarter and that the 1,500-unit forecast had been far from being met. It goal to ramp up to producing 5,000 of these electric cars per week by December doesn’t look to be realistic. A separate media report confirms the slowdown, with Taiwanese auto component supplier Hota Industrial Manufacturing Co. having its parts orders slashed 40% for the Model 3 in December – from the planned 5,000 per week to 3,000 per week. The target of sending weekly shipments of 10,000 parts in March will be stretched out to May or June, according to the report. A Tesla spokesman declined to comment, and a CEO Elon Musk on Thursday tweeted once again that the company is going through “production hell.”

Urban mobility:  Navigant Research just released a report defining how sustainable mobility plans being adopted in fast-growing cities around the world are being shaped by three factors: automated vehicles, cleaner powertrains, and the mobility as a service (MaaS) model. These will eventually tie the outcome to where cities policies are hoping it will go. The study includes a potential scenario where a high level of adoption of automated vehicles where a city with 3 million inhabitants collectively own 1.5 million cars. Other studies have forecasted that growing usage of autonomous vehicles, biking and walking, and shared mobility services, will mean less vehicle ownership and miles driven.

BYD ready for growth:  BYD’s commercial vehicle arm in the U.S. is seeing growth in demand for electric buses, but also for moving goods. Andy Swanton, vice president of truck sales at BYD, told Trucks.com that the question has changed over to “when, but not if” on converting truck fleets over to electric vehicles. That’s behind the expansion of its Lancaster, Calif., factory where an additional 700 workers could be added to the facility. That will support building up to 1,500 all-electric buses each year and to serve growing demand for electric trucking. Swanton said that the company’s global manufacturing capabilities and environmental policies in California and other markets are behind much of that growth.

 

For Today: Environmental groups pressure automakers to support better fuel economy rules, NEVS partners with ridesharing giant DiDi

Green groups ask for support in clean car standards: Leading environmental groups have launched the “Forward Not Backward” campaign to pressure automakers to back the Obama administration’s federal fuel economy and emissions standards. U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) was scheduled to participate in a conference call Wednesday with executives from Sierra Club, Environment America, Public Citizen, Greenpeace, and Safe Climate Campaign. The speaker panel took place on the eve of Ford Motor Co.’s third quarter financial statement, with Ford, Volkswagen, and other automakers called on to avoid gutting the clean cars standards by “colluding with President Donald Trump to roll them back.”  Last month, the environmental groups sent letters to executives at Ford, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota, Volkswagen, and other automakers urging them to “discontinue any and all efforts to weaken or delay the implementation” of the 2025 fuel efficiency standards. In August, after several meetings with auto executives, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt announced plans to review the standards. Automakers have said the costs of increasing fuel economy standards in the next phase would be financially onerous, and doesn’t reflect current market conditions where cheap gasoline prices are keeping consumer demand leaning toward trucks, crossover, and SUVs, over small cars and electrified models.

Honda and Nissan reveals in Tokyo:  The Honda Sports EV Concept was shown Tuesday at the Tokyo Motor Show. It follows the Urban EV Concept shown last month in Frankfurt. Like the Urban paying tribute to early Honda hatchback models, the Sports EV is said to honor classics like the Honda S600 and S800 coupes that were able to compete in the 1960s with MG and Triumph sports cars. Nissan just revealed the IMx concept electric vehicle, which the company says will be a long-range electric SUV tapping into Nissan’s Intelligent Mobility campaign. Along with electric propulsion, it will get the automaker’s ProPilot automated driving hardware.

NEVS partners with DiDi:  Swedish automaker NEVS AB and Chinese mobility company DiDi Chuxing have forged a strategic partnership. A formal launch took place Wednesday in Trollhättan on Wednesday, in presence of among others the Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven. NEVS (National Electric Vehicle Sweden) is producing electric cars adapted from Saab assets. The company is backed by Chinese investors. The new automaker debuted an electric 9-3 at the 2017 CES Asia trade show. DiDi is China’s largest shared mobility service, and cut Uber out of the market last year through a major investment and no-compete deal. NEVA and DiDi plan to develop an electric vehicle fully optimized to DiDi’s mobility service. That includes going the route of self-driving and on-demand mobility services of the future. It will probably tap into the InMotion concept that NEVS unveiled in June. The first vehicle used in the new cooperative venture will be the NEVS 9-3.

For Today: Twelve cities commit to zero emission vehicles, Fast food fats and oils gaining LCFS credits in California

Mayors commit to ZEVs:  Twelve cities have committed to converting over to zero emission vehicles by 2030 by signing the C40 Fossil-Fuel-Free Streets Declaration. The mayors of London, Paris, Los Angeles, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Quito, Vancouver, Mexico City, Milan, Seattle, Auckland, and Cape Town have signed the declaration that commits to procuring only zero-emission buses from 2025, and to make sure a major area of their city is zero emission by 2030. Commitments include increasing usage of walking, cycling, public transportation, and shared transport; reducing the number of polluting vehicles on their streets; converting over to ZEVs for their city fleets; and collaborating with suppliers, fleet operators, and businesses to shift over to ZEVs and reduce vehicle miles in these cities. Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, who led the ban for elimination of fossil fuel-powered vehicles in the city, is serving as C40 chair. “Working with citizens, businesses and mayors of these great cities we will create green and healthy streets for future generations to enjoy,” Hidalgo said.

The state of AVs:  A new global map by Bloomberg Philanthropies and The Aspen Institute shows were autonomous vehicles stand in cities around the world. They’re broken up into two categories – Piloting Cities and Preparing Cities. Piloting cities have conducted tests of self-driving cars, or will do so in the near future. Preparing cities are conducting long-range surveys of the regulatory, planning, and governance issues raised by autonomous, but have not yet started pilot projects. The US leads the way, followed by the UK and China. Cities make the most sense to study, with technology giants, automakers, and startups focusing on these markets. That’s where future AV customers are expected to live and work, according to the study.

Fast food waste supporting renewable diesel:  California is seeing more of its fuel coming from fats and oils used by fast food restaurants as fleets comply with the Low Carbon Fuel Standard. Seven years after the credit system was initiated for producers of low-carbon fuels, cities and companies are using renewable diesel coming from fats and oils for all types of vehicles, including fire trucks to UPS delivery trucks. Bloomberg reported that the value of the LCFS credits for renewable diesel exceed those from electric vehicles fourfold and are second only to ethanol. The market “is definitely growing,” said Dayne Delahoussaye, head of Neste’s North American public affairs, the largest supplier of renewable diesel in California. “Renewable diesel has become very popular with the refining community as a good tool to meet obligations.”

 

For Today: Tesla preparing to build EVs in China, DOE funding extreme fast charging

Tesla readying for China plant:  Tesla, Inc., yesterday reaffirmed that it’s been in talks with the Chinese government to set up shop in a free trade zone in the Shanghai region – without indicating whether an agreement has been met. Those talks were reported to have been underway earlier this year. Tesla would still have to pay the 25% import fee that it’s had all along in China, but the company would have costs reduced not having to ship the cars into that market. It would also allow Tesla to stay true to its identity of being an independent operator by avoiding the traditional joint venture with a Chinese automaker that Tesla’s competitors have been doing for years. China is becoming more flexible to grow its local EV market and remain No. 1 globally, to clean up air pollution in its growing cities, and to free up the nation from foreign oil imports. The electric carmaker has been moving in this direction in recent years, with CEO Elon Musk thinking that it’s the most significant market in the world for company growth. The company now has a 5% stake from Chinse internet company Tencent Holdings, which should support Tesla’s strategy in that market.

Ethanol beats Big Oil:  President Donald Trump is keeping his campaign promise to ethanol-producing states by backing off proposed biofuel reductions recently announced by the Environmental Protection Agency. In a letter dated Oct. 19, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt said that the agency will keep renewable fuel volume mandates at or above proposed levels, reversing a decision to cut the mandates demanded by oil companies and refineries. It’s a big win for corn-growing states like Iowa, Nebraska, and Illinois, which are economically dependent on demand for corn-based ethanol. Companies such as PBF Energy Inc. and Valero Energy Corp. have been pleading with Trump to revise the costly mandate, and it at first appeared he would be going in that direction.

UK alliance for EV growth:  Automakers are working together in the United Kingdom to better educate car shoppers on the benefits of owning and charging electric vehicles. The Electric Vehicle Experience Center in Milton Keynes, north of London, will feature a multi-brand EV showroom. Sales pitches aren’t allowed, as it will be a showcase for explaining the technology to visitors. Funding participants include BMW, Kia, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Renault, and Volkswagen, along with Chargemaster, a UK-based supplier of charging stations. Chargemaster CEO David Martell said the showroom will be carefully watched, and could be repeated elsewhere in the UK if it works.

LG partners with Qualcomm:  LG Electronics is entering the self-driving car market through an alliance with Qualcomm to jointly research and develop autonomous, connected car technology. The two companies have opened a joint research center in Seoul, with another one slated by open in that city by the end of 2018. The partners will be focusing on fifth-generation wireless communications technology – called 5G – that will deliver data much faster than the current technology. The move supports the three major trends in the auto industry – electrification, autonomous technology, and on-demand mobility services. It will also tie into Qualcomm’s efforts to bring wireless electric vehicle charging as a mainstay to vehicles of the future.

DOE funding extreme fast charging:  The U.S. Energy Department today announced that up to $15 million will be available for research projects on batteries and vehicle electrification technologies to enable growth in fast charging. It includes electrification projects that will support the development and verification of electric drive systems and infrastructure for what it defines as “extreme fast charging” (400-kW). It’s being done through the DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO), which funds early-stage, high-risk research to support improved vehicle efficiency, lowers costs, and increases use of secure, domestic energy sources. It’s part of a VTO-funded report that will be released today, where researchers at Idaho National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory identified technical gaps to bring an extreme fast charging network to the U.S. The full report can be found on the VTO reports and publications page.

For Today: Alphabet investing in Lyft, Greenkraft receives CARB certification

Alphabet investing in Lyft:  Ride-hailing firm Lyft may be gaining $1 billion in a funding round organized by CapitalG, an investment arm within Alphabet, Google’s parent company. Alphabet’s self-driving driving division, Waymo, created an alliance with Lyft earlier this year on an autonomous vehicle project. Another funding division within Alphabet in 2013 made a $250 million investment in Lyft’s competitor, Uber. That ended badly after Uber entered the world of testing self-driving cars, with a major lawsuit coming from Waymo for allegations of intellectual property theft by Uber. The CapitalG funding round isn’t closed yet. One part of the agreement would be having CapitalG partner David Lawee join Lyft’s board.

UQM and Lightning Systems alliance:  UQM Technologies, Inc. announced that it will collaborate with Lightning Systems to support Ford Transit concept vehicles for Lightning Systems’ beta programs through Ford’s Advanced Fuel Qualified Vehicle Modifier (eQVM). Lightning Systems is already in production with hydraulic hybrid applications, and is in the process of expanding its customer offerings to electric vehicles. This early production program supports the initial vehicles that are expected to be delivered to customers during the first quarter of 2018. “This relationship will allow us to provide leading edge technology that will exceed our customers’ expectations for high quality and cost-effective zero emissions vehicles,” said Tim Reeser, President and CEO of Lightning Systems.

Greenkraft receives CARB certification:  Greenkraft Inc. announced that its 8L V8 gasoline, compressed natural gas (CNG), and propane autogas (LPG) fuel-injected engine received new certification from the California Air Resources Board’s On-Road New Vehicle and Engine Certification Program. The company’s 8L V8 fuel-injected engine achieved a NOx emission value less than 0.02 g/bhp-hr, which meets the optional near-zero NOx level set by CARB, on three different fuels: LPG, CNG and gasoline. The Greenkraft 8L spark-ignited engine is among the first to be certified at this near-zero NOx level on three different fuels, according to Greenkraft. It’s available as a stand-alone product, or it can be installed ln one of Greenkraft’s 26,000 GVW or 33,000 GVW heavy-duty trucks.

For Today: Plug-in vehicle sales up 80% in China, Amazon gets patent for drone EV charger

China EV sales strong:  China is seeing a very strong plug-in electrified vehicle market this year. During September, the market saw 59,000 plug-in vehicle sales, up 80% over September 2016. Year to date, China had 338,000 units sold, up 48% over the first nine months of 2016. Battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles made up 1.8% of new vehicle sales in the market, up from 1.5% a year ago. The top five sellers during September, in rank order, were the BAIC EC-Series, the Zhidou D2 EV, the BYD Song PHEV, BYD Qin PHEV, and Chery eQ. BYD took 19% of the “new energy vehicle” sales for the month, beating former leader BAIC, which had 15% of the share.

Model 3 seeing slower forecast:  Telsa, Inc., will be delivering 100,056 total vehicles in 2017, with 3,005 of them being Model 3s. It will be far from the original goal, which included ramping up to build 5,000 Model 3s per week in December. That forecast comes from investment firm Oppenheimer & Co., which also said that Model 3 manufacturing bottlenecks have been slowing down the original delivery forecast for the new electric car. The research note to Oppenheimer investors came from a New York dinner meeting with Tesla management. Executives reaffirmed that all the needed equipment for Model 3 production has been installed, and that the EVs are moving their way through the production line. Musk dispelled a recent report claiming that large portions of the Model 3 were being built by hand.

Amazon drone chargers:  Amazon has gained a patent that will allow the company to create a drone that can charge electric cars, including EVs that are still in driving mode and need more power to get to a charging station. The patent granted to the tech giant also includes a rooftop docking station that the drone can land on to stay connected with the EV and provide power while it continues the trip. It would mean working directly with automakers to be adaptable to the technology, or making aftermarket modifications. The product isn’t scheduled to be launched anytime soon, but it ties into Amazon’s overall strategy tied to drone delivery services. The company could see demand for the product, with sales of EVs increasing each year.

For Today: Polestar 1 could be longest range plug-in hybrid, Toyota showing long range fuel cell vehicle

Polestar 1 could be longest range PHEV:  Volvo Car Group took a step forward on its commitment to electrify its fleet through the new Polestar division. The Polestar 1 plug-in hybrid is scheduled to roll off the production line in mid-2019. It’s a two-door, 2+2 seat coupe with an ‘Electric Performance Hybrid’ drivetrain capable of going about 93 miles on battery power. That could be less in the U.S., with Polestar not specifying whether range is based on European or U.S. standards. If it is 93 miles, it would be the longest range plug-in hybrid electric vehicle on the market. It will have a lot of power, with an output of 600 horsepower and 1000 Nm of torque, appealing to the high-performance car buyer. It will be built on Volvo’s Scalable Platform Architecture (SPA) but approximately 50% is new and created by Polestar’s engineers. A carbon fiber body reduces bodyweight. The company confirmed plans are in place for three Polestar models to be built at a production facility in China. Polestar 2 will be a battery electric vehicle, mid-sized to compete with the Tesla Model 3. It’s slated to start production in late 2019 and will have higher production volumes than the Polestar 1.

Autonomous Bolts in NYC:  General Motors will be testing out self-driving Chevy Bolts in New York City through its Cruise Automation subsidiary. The automaker will be the first to test Level 4 autonomous vehicles in the state, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo; Level 4 allows the car to go into fully autonomous mode with the driver capable of taking control. GM engineers will travel along in the driver’s seat to monitor performance, with a second person riding in the passenger seat. The state of New York has taken a cautious approach to testing out self-driving cars, with its current rules expiring on April 1, 2018. Participating automakers need to list specific vehicles being used for the tests in their application, and each tested vehicle must be covered by a $5 million insurance policy. Another rule under the state’s law is for each testing company to pay for a police escort to accompany the autonomous test vehicle. Other states are taking a more flexible approach to testing autonomous vehicle, with New York requiring the most oversight.

Toyota showing hydrogen-powered concept:  Toyota will be showing the Fine-Comfort Ride fuel cell concept vehicle next week at the Tokyo Motor Show. The company claims it can be refueled at a hydrogen station within three minutes, and will have 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) of driving range. That would be double the U.S. rating of 312 miles of range for the Toyota Mirai; however, Toyota said that the 1,000 km range rating is based on Japan’s JC08 test cycle, which would likely be farther than the U.S. rating. The concept car will also come with artificial intelligence and automated driving features, Toyota said. The “premium saloon” will have room for six passengers. The seat layout can be flexibly adjusted to make the vehicle as comfortable and user-friendly as possible.

For Today: Tesla Model 3 slowdown may come from steel, EVS30 successful in Stuttgart

Why Model 3 slowed down:  What’s been slowing down an expected higher Tesla Model 3 production volume? Auto analysts say that Tesla is struggling with welding together a mostly steel vehicle with the Model 3, which has differed quite a bit from the mainly aluminum bodies of the Model S and Model X. That showed up with the electric carmaker falling short on its third quarter production target for the Model 3. The Wall Street Journal had reported on the slowdown and more light was shed on it during a video about the Model 3 production line posted on Twitter by CEO Elon Musk. Tesla is in a tight spot, pinning much of its future on the Model 3 production line ramped up to big numbers starting at the end of this year. Automakers such as General Motors with the Chevy Bolt, and several other automakers with their long-range EVs, have been anxiously waiting to see the impact of the Model 3 on the market.

RNG at ports:  You can watch a new video from the California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition (CNGVC) to learn more about how renewable natural gas is being tried out in near-zero emission trucks at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. “Powering with the Cummins-Westport ISX12N Natural Gas Engine” shows how a new 12-liter natural gas engine vehicle from Cummins-Westport is being tried out by the ports. A Class 8 heavy-duty truck carries loads from the ports to drop-off points in Southern California. “For us, having an engine that can haul the loads in these conditions, while offering us the emissions benefits of a near zero natural gas engine, is essential to the future success of our business,” said Victor LaRosa Jr., operations manager of port drayage trucking company Heavy Loads Transfer.

Startups competing with Tesla:  You can get a good idea of the challenges of competing with Tesla as small startup company getting into the high-performance electric vehicle race. Automotive News takes a look at how Faraday Future, Lucid Motors, Bollinger Motors, Local Motors, and Elio Motors (not to mention, Karma Automotive and Fisker Inc.) are taking on a very big challenge with Tesla; along with entering the auto manufacturing business in the first place. Starting from scratch will cost hundreds of millions of dollars without any revenue, and recruitment of talented professionals to design and build the electric cars while passing strict government safety tests.

EVS30 successful in Stuttgart:  Electric Vehicle Symposium (EVS30) had been going strong in Stuttgart, Germany, with more than 1,700 participants attending panel discussions from Oct. 9-11. Overall, about 9,500 people have been in attendance as participants and trade fair visitors. Panelists and those visiting exhibits have been discussing the future of mobility at the 30th EVS. The mood was positive, and discussions focused on the next phase of the EV industry’s future coming together this year. “Technological prerequisites have been created and some electrification products are already available, as demonstrated by the 353 exhibitors…….” according to conference planners.

For Today: Mahindra investing $600M in EVs, Tesla fires hundreds of workers

Mahindra investing more in EVs:  India’s electric vehicle market is seeing more support coming from Mahindra & Mahindra, which just announced a $600 million investment in the technology. Electric versions of its current crossover SUVs will be scheduled in the near future. Mahindra had just lost a bid for a 10,000 EV contract with the government’s Energy Efficiency Services Limited agency to its main Indian competitor, Tata Motors. Mahindra was awarded part of the contract after lowering prices to match Tata’s lowest bid; the company admitted it won’t make any profits off the sales of its eVerito electric sedan to the Indian agency. Tata was able to win the majority of the contract even though it has yet to manufacture any EVs. Mahindra has been in the segment for a few years with its e20 and e20 plus small electric hatchback models, the eVerito electric sedan, the eSupro electric van, and the e-Alfa Mini three-wheeler. The government wants to stop sales of fossil-fuel powered vehicles and is supporting electric vehicle development. The company’s subsidiary, Mahindra Electric, will operate as a separate entity supplying components to the Mahindra & Mahindra company, which will manufacture the EVs. The company currently operates a battery manufacturing plant and hopes to set up another larger facility soon.

Paris saying goodbye to fossil-fuel cars:  The city of Paris wants to speed up the elimination of gasoline- and diesel-powered cars by ending their sales starting in 2030. France had already set a target date of 2040 for banning sales of cars running on fossil fuels. The nation’s capital, which will host the summer Olympics in 2024 and not long ago hosted a worldwide agreement on climate change, had already been moving toward banning diesel cars by the time of the Olympics. City officials said it will probably not be a formal ban, but will be introducing a deadline to phase out internal-combustion engine vehicles. “This is about planning for the long term with a strategy that will reduce greenhouse gases,” said Christophe Najdovski, an official responsible for transport policy at the office of Mayor Anne Hidalgo. “Transport is one of the main greenhouse gas producers…. so we are planning an exit from combustion engine vehicles, or fossil-energy vehicles, by 2030.”

Tesla employees terminated at crucial time:  Tesla has fired hundreds of employees, according to a recent report in the San Jose Mercury News, as pressure mounts to build more of the Model 3 sedans. Workers estimated between 400 and 700 employees have been fired, including engineers, managers, and factory workers. Tesla wouldn’t say how many employees were let go, although the company expects employee turnover to be similar to last year’s attrition. They were not layoffs, the company said, but were dismissals based on a company-wide annual review. In interviews with the newspaper, former and current employees said there was little or no warning was given prior to the dismissals. “As with any company, especially one of over 33,000 employees, performance reviews also occasionally result in employee departures,” a Tesla spokesman said. “Tesla is continuing to grow and hire new employees around the world.”

For Today: Tesla recalling Model X electric SUV, Richard Branson investing in Hyperloop One

Tesla Model X recall:  Tesla is recalling about 11,000 Model X electric SUVs to correct a problem in the second-row seats. For the Model X units manufactured between Oct. 28, 2016, and Sept. 1, 2017 with a second row seat that folds down flat, Tesla will be correcting an error that could mean the second row seats would move forward in a crash. The problem stems from incorrectly adjusted seat cables and was discovered through internal testing. It only affects about 3% of those vehicles. The electric automaker is taking on the voluntary recall through a 10-minute procedure done by mobile service operators. The company hasn’t received reports of any issues or accidents related to the problem; customers were to be alerted starting yesterday.

What Ford learned from workplace charging:  Ford Motor Co. will be tripling its electric vehicle charging stations available to its employees in North America from 200 to 600 chargers over the next three years. The first 200 have been in place for three years and have been the source of data on charging habits used by the automaker in its electrification strategy. Ford reported that access to workplace charging appears to be crucian for EV owners and can influence their purchase decisions. Bringing more workplace charging will be part of mass market adoption of EV technology for Ford and the overall industry, the company said. Through early August, Ford’s charging network had provided about 2 million miles of electric driving to its employees.

VW electric trucks and buses:  Volkswagen Group’s truck and bus division will be investing about $1.7 billion into new technology to support battery electric commercial vehicles targeted at urban markets with growing concern over poor air quality. Andreas Renschler, head of the unit, said Wednesday that the investment will go into electric drivetrains, autonomous systems, and cloud-based software. The new technology will end up in systems used by the company’s U.S. truck affiliate, Navistar International. In Europe, it will go to the company’s MAN and Scania nameplates for all-electric buses that will come to European cities next year, he said. That goes with offerings to bus operators that include biodiesel, hybrid systems, and natural gas vehicles.

Clean vehicle jobs:  A new interactive map shows that the Midwest, Northeast, and California have been at the heart of job creation and economic growth in clean vehicles. As the federal standards for fuel economy and emissions are under review, the BlueGreen Alliance Foundation issued a study looking at what’s happened since the federal standards were finalized five years ago. The map highlights advanced vehicle, component, and material manufacturing facilities, and jobs across the U.S. It was done to provide a local-level view of innovation across the industry that supports energy security, economic growth, and global competitiveness.

California supports more clean vehicle programs:  On Tuesday, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed several bills to strengthen California’s zero- and near-zero-emission vehicles. One of them, A.B.739, requires at least 15% of specified heavy-duty vehicles newly purchased by state agencies to be zero emission vehicles beginning in 2025; and at least 30% of those vehicles to be ZEVs beginning in 2030. S.B.498 will require at least 50% of the state’s light-duty vehicle fleet to be ZEVs by 2025, up from the current goal of 25% by 2020. The bill also requires the California Air Resources Board to develop policies and programs that will increase ZEVs in private-sector fleets. Several other assembly bills were signed into law, including one that allow certain clean vehicles to access high-occupancy vehicle lanes, and another authorizing local jurisdictions to dedicate on-street parking spaces for electric vehicle charging.

USPS going electric:  The U.S. Postal Service is getting ready to bring in electrified delivery trucks, according to photos received by Trucks.com. One of the publication’s readers sent in photo of a road tests being done about 30 miles northwest of Washington, D.C., of a USPS badged mail delivery truck likely coming from Workhorse Group and truck body manufacturer VT Hackney. They’re among five entries into the USPS’ Next Generation Delivery Vehicle Program. Workhorse confirmed it was their truck in a tweet Monday after the story was first published in Trucks.com. Workhorse will supply the powertrain and chassis, and VT Hackney will build the body if they win the contract with USPS.

Richard Branson investing in Hyperloop One:  Hyperloop One has gained funding from billionaire Richard Branson and will be changing its name to reflect it. The company announced Thursday it will be renamed Virgin Hyperloop One, and it followed a significant but undisclosed investment by the Virgin Group founder. Based in downtown Los Angeles, Hyperloop One comes from a concept released a few years ago by Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. The transport system will carry passengers and cargo in pods through tubes at speeds of more than 250 miles per hour; and that could eventually go as high as 750 miles per hour. The company has been testing its pods in Nevada. Branson’s Virgin Galactic has been setting up office space in Southern California and will be directly competing with SpaceX in the space transport business.