Daimler adds Geely as major investor for electrification: Li Shufu, the chairman and main owner of Chinese carmaker Geely, has taken a 9.69% stake in Daimler AG, the German company said in a regulatory filing last week. The $9 billion in Daimler shares makes Li the largest single shareholder in the manufacturer of Mercedes Benz cars, trucks, and vans. Sources told Reuters that Geely’s main objective in the Daimler investment is sharing its EV technology to meet China’s demand for new energy vehicles. Zhejiang Geely, which owns Volvo, in December invested $3.9 billion in Volvo AB, the world’s second-largest truck maker after No. 1, Daimler Trucks. The Chinese company has also invested in Via Motors and an electric truck joint venture for China. Daimler has made comments about preparing to be the world’s leader in electrified trucks in the medium-duty and heavy-duty truck segments. Last week, the company released details on its eActros heavy-duty trucks still in development. The company said that the eActros drive system comprises two electric motors located close to the rear-axle wheel hubs. The truck can carry a payload of 11.5 tons, and will have a 125 mile range per charge. Energy will be stored in two lithium-ion batteries with an output of 240 kWh. Daimler is looking at 20 to 80 kW charge rates, which will be able to charge up the eActros in three to 11 hours.
Geneva will showcase Tesla-competitive models: European automakers will be utilizing the Geneva auto show next month as a platform for being truly Tesla-competitive. That comes after a sobering finding – the Tesla Model S outsold the Mercedes-Benz S class and BMW 7 series in Europe for the first time last year. The Tesla Model 3 could add to that pressure if it makes it through production problems and hits company targets. Jaguar will be showing the I-Pace electric crossover, which is considered to be the first competitive all-electric Tesla rival. Volvo will show its Polestar 1, the first car from its new electric performance brand. The plug-in hybrid Polestar 1 won’t be directly competing with all-electric Teslas, but it will come close in its performance – capable of producing 600 horsepower and 150 kilometers (93.2 miles) in electric-only, the longest range of any plug-in hybrid. Bentley will also reveal its first plug-in hybrid aimed at customers willing to pay more. Audi, Volkswagen, and Mercedes-Benz also will show off all-electric vehicles aimed at Tesla.
States adding fees to back infrastructure cleanup: States are watching what the federal government is doing on rebuilding the highway infrastructure, and may have to come up with their own solutions. President Donald Trump’s $200 billion plan to repair America’s transportation corridor, revealed Feb. 12, is intended to attract a huge amount of additional money from states, localities, and private investors. The goal is to generate a total pot of $1.5 trillion to upgrade the country’s highways, airports, and railroads. Finding outside funding sources is essential to the policy changes moving forward, with non-federal government sources accounting for 70% of the formula for choosing infrastructure projects. Hawaii has taken steps toward adding new fees for electric vehicle owners, to get them to “pay their fair share” towards maintaining the state’s bridges and roads. Other states, including California, are likely to add more toll road fees as voters have turned down efforts to add other fees and funds coming from Washington are drying up; and some states are considering adding more EV taxes, similar to what Hawaii has been working on. President Trump has suggested adding federal gas taxes to raise more of the funds, but that’s been fading out in Congress. Republican legislators haven’t supported it, and want to gain support from voters as the mid-term election approaches. Adding a hefty gas tax may not go well with voters.