GM ready to roll out profitable EVs by 2021, Will Elon Musk’s superstardom be enough for Tesla to overcome hurdles?

Newsworthy:  America’s largest automaker is poised to solve the quandary automakers face on making profits building and selling electric vehicles. General Motors CEO Mary Barra yesterday told investors at the Barclays Global Automotive Conference in New York that the company in 2021 will be launching a new, flexible platform for electric vehicle launches that will bring down costs and increase profits. The new EV platform will accommodate multiple sizes and segments, to be sold by different GM brands in the U.S. and China, she said. A new battery system will bring down costs 30% cheaper than the battery pack used in the Chevy Bolt, Barra said. The automaker will be building at least one million EVs a year by 2026, with most going into China to comply with new energy vehicle regulations. Last month, GM said it planned to launch 20 new electric vehicles by 2023, but did not provide details………… Clean Energy Fuels Corp. announced yesterday that Dallas Fort Worth International (DFW) Airport awarded Clean Energy a renewable natural gas (RNG) fueling contract for the airport’s vehicle fleet with its Redeem brand of RNG. The airport sees using the clean fuel as a way to potentially reduce its fleet emissions by about 70%…………… Daimler will be entering the electric bus market by end of 2018 with the beginning of series production of the all-electric Mercedes-Benz Citaro E-CELL. It will use modular lithium ion battery packs that can be tailored to each customer. The company thinks that by 2030, 70% of all newly-registered urban buses will have emissions-free drive systems.

State of the Company:  It’s been a year of mega-celebrity status for Tesla CEO Elon Musk – being recognized more than Warren Buffet, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, and Richard Branson combined. He’s been on the cover of Rolling Stone this month, as head of both SpaceX and Tesla, reaching rock star status. People Magazine was interested enough in his breakup with actress Amber Heard, who finalized her divorce from actor Johnny Depp in January. “I was really in love, and it hurt bad,” Musk said.

Musk continues to tease fans over the Thursday night unveiling of the electric semi-truck. The latest tweets have said it will “blow your mind clear out of your skull and into an alternate dimension.”

Reality has kept him out of the alternate dimension, with Tesla just announcing its largest quarterly loss ever and a three-month Model 3 manufacturing delay.

There’s also been an employee lawsuit over the working environment at its Fremont, Calif., production plant. An African-American employee is seeking a class-action lawsuit against the company, where he calls the production floor a “hotbed for racist behavior,” where the suit claims black workers regularly face harassment.

The Tesla chief continues to take on extra projects like the Boring Company digging up an underground train tunnel in Los Angeles, developing the Model Y electric crossover, Autopilot software, and the Buffalo, N.Y.-based solar panel factory – all the while directing SpaceX flights to Mars and working to establish Tesla’s role China.

The company plans to leap five-fold in production by the end of next year — from about 100,000 electric vehicles expected to be produced this year to 500,000 next year. That will be led by the new Tesla Model 3. The upcoming Model Y crossover is expected to also play a key role in the company hitting its second grand target — producing 1 million new vehicles per year starting in 2020.

To get there, Tesla has to make it through a rite of passage on a few pivotal challenges:

  • Achieving profitability for the first time
  • Scaling up production 10 times within three years
  • Opening up more vehicle manufacturing and battery production plants
  • Worker relations as union organizers put on the pressure
  • Establishing a presence in China and Europe

Musk’s superstar status may not be impressive enough to maintain strong relations with major investment bankers. Tesla’s stock price has taken a major hit this year, and investors wonder if the company will need to make another junk-bond offering. Model 3 production and delivery will need to be steady to meet the expectations of most investors, who count on the Model 3, and later on with the Model Y.

 

For Today: Ford and Zotye create JV in China, AutoMobility LA coming up later this month

Ford creating JV with Zotye:  Ford Motor Company and Chinese automaker Zotye signed an agreement to establish Zotye Ford Automobile Co., Ltd., a new 50:50 joint venture that will offer a range of stylish and affordable all-electric vehicles for consumers in China under a new local brand. If it achieves regulatory approval, the new JV will design, build, market and distribute all-electric passenger vehicles for the Chinese market. The Detroit automakers already has JVs in place with Changan Ford Automobile Corporation, Ltd. and Jiangling Motors Corporation. Ford will continue working closely with each of its JV partners to develop and manufacture new energy vehicles to meet rising consumer demand in China during the impending electrification phase of the Chinese auto industry.

SJ Airport bringing in electric buses:  Electric bus maker Proterra announced that the San Jose City Council has approved the purchase of 10 Proterra Catalyst E2 battery-electric transit buses and related charging infrastructure for use at the San Jose International Airport. It marks Proterra’s first airport electric bus deployment in the San Francisco Bay Area. Scheduled to be placed in service in late 2018, the buses will be designed and built in California at Proterra’s Los Angeles County manufacturing facility. “These electric buses can help us significantly reduce costs and greenhouse gas emissions, and represent a step towards our aspiration that an electric engine power every shuttle and bus on San Jose’s streets,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

AutoMobility LA will kick off LA Auto Show:  AutoMobility LA is bringing together leading technology companies, automakers, designers, entrepreneurs, government officials and more at the Los Angeles Convention Center, Nov. 27-30, 2017. Debut vehicles will be shown right after at the 2017 LA Auto Show, which will be open to the public Dec. 1-10. The AutoMobility LA conference will feature more than 50 thought leaders across several panels, discussions, and keynote addresses. The Top 10 Startups challenge sets ten startups apart from thousands of newcomers, earns them a tremendous amount of media exposure, and places their products/services on AutoMobility LA’s global stage. Automakers are expected to conduct more than 50 world-class debuts at the event. BMW will be making nine debuts during its press conference, including two global debuts. Porsche will launch the global reveal of the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo. Green Car Journal will announce the winner of the 2018 Green Car of the Year award. The 2018 nominated models include the Honda Accord, Honda Clarity, Hyundai Ioniq, Nissan Leaf, and Toyota Camry. The announcement will take place at the LA Convention Center on Thursday, Nov. 30, at 8:00 a.m. PST inside the Technology Pavilion.

 

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: 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: China raises bar on new energy vehicle targets, Toyota joins up with Mazda and Denso to form EV joint venture

New energy vehicle rules:  China has set 2019 as the first year for automakers to meet new energy vehicle sales targets, with the bar raised to 10% of annual sales that year. That’s two percentage points higher than an earlier proposal for next year, and applies to automakers selling at least 30,000 vehicles in that market. A credit system will be in place for sales of all-electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, which is expected to offer a similar credit trading structure in place with California’s zero emission vehicle program where automakers can trade credits. China’s industry ministry announced the new regulations Thursday, along with news that the level will rise to 12% for 2020. The national government wants to support China’s leading role in EV sales, and to prepare for a long-term ban on fossil-fuel vehicles announced earlier this month. Global automakers this year have been requesting that China soften the mandates for new energy vehicle sales.

Electric buses in the UK:  BYD electric buses reduced about 900 tons of CO2 pollution in London after a year in service. Operated by Go-Ahead London for Transport for London, the fleet of 51 single decker buses serve Go-Ahead’s Waterloo depot on routes 507 and 521. The electric buses have been manufactured by the BYD ADL electric bus partnership. There are now 157 BYD ADL single deck electric buses in service for London operators. BYD ADL also announced that a ceremony was held this week by Liverpool City Region Bus Alliance to bring in a fleet of 12 BYD ADL Enviro200EV buses. The electric buses will be operated by Arriva Merseyside and begin service later this month on the City Centre Circular Routes 26 and 27, known as The Belt.

New EV joint venture launched:  Toyota, Mazda, and Denso will be jointly forming a new company, EV C.A. Spirit, to develop electric vehicles. New production electric models are expected to come out in 2019 and 2020. Toyota will own 90% of the new company, and Mazda and auto parts supplier Denso will split the remaining 10%. It follows an August announcement by the two Japanese carmakers on joint EV projects and a $1.6 billion investment in a new U.S. plant. Denso is known for making key components used in electrical systems for EVs and inverters for hybrid vehicles. The company is working on an energy efficient air conditioning system for EVs.

For Today: Joint venture no longer required for electric carmakers in China, AeroVironment proving BMW and Mini-branded TurboCord EV chargers

Joint ventures no longer mandatory in China:  China will be making a huge change for automakers who want to build electric cars locally – setting up their own shops without having to forge a joint venture with a Chinese automaker. That will lower costs for companies like Tesla that have to pay steep tariffs to import their cars into China, and which choose to run their own factories similar to how they do it overseas. Foreign automakers will be able to go into free-trade zones to establish their factories. The country has 12 free-trade zones in Shanghai, Fujian, Guangdong, and Zhejiang. China will “actively implement the opening up of the new-energy manufacturing sector to foreigners, together with other departments under the direction of the State Council,” the nation’s Ministry of Commerce told Bloomberg. Other carmakers like General Motors, Ford, and Volkswagen, are tapping into JVs with Chinese makers to set up EV manufacturing subsidiaries.

LeEco using Faraday Future patents:  Parent company LeEco used some of Faraday Future’s electric vehicle design in LeEco’s LeSee electric car, according to patents filed with the U.S. government. A Faraday Future representative confirmed that two of its patents are being used in the development of LeEco’s electric car. The look and design will be used across the FF and LeSee brands. One patent will be used for the look of the exterior design and the other is for the steering wheel. The two companies have been quiet about their working relationship as parent company LeEco has gone through the wringer financially, including a failed $2 billion acquisition of Vizio. In July, FF walked away from its planned $1 billion factory in Nevada. The company has leased an existing factory in Hanford, Calif., as it seeks new investment funds.

AeroVironment working with BMW and Mini:  AeroVironment has been selected as the North American provider of BMW and Mini-branded TurboCord accessory electric vehicle chargers. The dual-voltage charger features a small and lightweight design with a convenient 20 ft. charging cord. That brings 120-volt and 240-volt charging to BMW and Mini electric cars. The TurboCord charger can be purchased with the EV at all North American BMW and Mini dealerships and online. It also integrates state-of-the-art safety features such as unit and plug temperature monitoring, automatic shut-off and a rugged, being waterproof, and submersible enclosure (NEMA 6p) that enables users to safely and reliably charge anywhere indoor and outdoor.

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: Renault-Nissan and Dongfeng forge EV venture, Ford and Domino῾s delivering pizzas through self-driving car

Renault, Nissan and Dongfeng forge JV:  The Renault-Nissan Alliance is preparing to enter the world’s largest electric vehicle market through a joint venture with a Chinese partner. The alliance has forged a JV partnership with Dongfeng Motor Group Co. to bring an electric SUV to market by 2019 through eGT New Energy Automotive Co., Ltd., the new company. The three companies have been in alliance for years with a shared factory already in place. It will tie into CEO Carlos Ghohn strategy to maximize economies of scale and become more EV competitive, along with Donfeng’s mission to bring “light, electric, intelligent, interconnected and shared” vehicles to the new energy vehicle market. China is in the process of becoming stricter on subsidies and watching out for another cheating scandal. The government is expected to soon announce a zero emission vehicle mandate similar to California’s. Whatever the government requires, automakers are not backing off China’s booming EV market.

BYD profit declining:  Chinese EV manufacturer BYD reports that its profit margin has slimmed this year since the national government has been cutting back on generous new energy vehicle incentives to consumers and automakers. Increasing market competition is also taking its toll. The company expects its net profits will drop up to 25% during the first nine months of this year, compared to shooting up nearly 79% last year. Vehicle sales fell 14.8 percent to 183,637 units sold during the first half of the year. BYD has been the world’s largest manufacturer of plug-in electrified vehicles over the past two years. As passenger cars decline, the company is benefitting from bringing out more electric buses and trucks – such as what’s being built now at its Lancaster, Calif., plant. “We have seen a sales recovery trend for BYD during the past few months, especially in Q2. In addition, BYD is pushing green public transportation in China and globally,” said Bill Russo, managing director at consultancy Gao Feng Advisory Co.

Ford and Domino’s self-driven pizza deliveries:  Ford Motor Co. and Domino’s Pizza are testing out delivering pizzas in a Ford self-driving car. They’re asking customers what it’s like to receive a pizza through a self-driving vehicle. Over the next few weeks, customers in Ann Arbor, Mich., will have the opportunity to receive their order from a Ford Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Research Vehicle. It will be manually-driven by a Ford safety engineer and staffed with researchers. Ford plans to begin producing self-driving vehicles in 2021 and will tap into the data from this test project.

For Today: California and China ZEV alliance, Roush CleanTech sees breakthrough in low NOx

California and China ZEV alliance:  California is forging an alliance with China to move forward on zero emission vehicle technology development, batteries, and sales increases as the U.S. pulls away from the Paris climate change accord. Governor Jerry Brown and California Air Resources Board chair Mary Nichols met with officials from China’s leading automakers and battery manufacturers this week in an effort to expand cooperation and accelerate deployment of zero-emission cars, trucks, and buses. A new working group was formed through the China-US ZEV Policy Lab at UC Davis to expand cooperation with Chinese vehicle and batter makers. The lab comes from a partnership established in 2014 between UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies and the China Automotive Technology and Research Center. Brown and Nichols have been touring China this week as the nation prepares to adopt the state’s ZEV policy with credits for automakers to purchase and trade for meeting emissions rules.

Three events to consider attending:  Advanced Automotive Battery Conference, June 19-22 in San Francisco. For 17 years, the conference has attracted international thought leaders and battery technologists from major automobile makers and their suppliers to discuss key issues impacting the technology and market of advanced vehicles and the batteries that will power them……… EV Roadmap 10, June 20-21 in Portland, Ore. Founded by Portland General Electric and Portland State University, and now produced by Drive Oregon, the conference has established itself as one of the leading electric vehicle conferences in the United States………… Smart Cities Connect Conference & Expo, June 25-28 in Austin, Texas. Co-located with the US Ignite Application Summit, the conference brings together over 200 cities and their respective leadership to prospect and partner with innovative technology and service providers, linking progressive cities with state-of-the-art solutions and best practices.

Breakthrough in propane technology:  Roush CleanTech announced yesterday that it has developed the first propane autogas engine available in class 4-7 vehicles and Blue Bird Type C buses certified to the optional low nitrogen oxide (NOx) level .05 g/bhp-hr. These new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency- and California Air Resources Board-certified propane engines are 75% cleaner than the current emissions standard. “Roush CleanTech’s low NOx engine is a great step forward for the propane industry,” said Tucker Perkins, president of the Propane Education & Research Council. “Propane autogas is well established as an economical, clean-burning and domestically produced alternative fuel ideal for fleets. Now propane gets the biggest return on NOx reductions, too.”

This Week’s Top 10: Ford adding seven new electrified vehicles, China cutting subsidies for plug-in vehicles

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…….

  1. Ford announces seven of 13 electrified vehicles: Ford CEO Mark Fields gave a speech this morning announcing the introduction of an all-new battery electric small SUV, coming by 2020, which has been engineered to deliver an estimated range of at least 300 miles. It’s one of seven of 1ford-electrified-vehicle-announcment3 new global electrified vehicles the automaker plans to introduce in the next five years, including hybrid versions of the F-150 pickup and Mustang in the U.S., and a plug-in hybrid Transit Custom van in Europe. A high-volume autonomous hybrid vehicle designed for commercial ride hailing or ride sharing will be launched globally in 2021, starting in North America. Ford will also launch two new, pursuit-rated hybrid police vehicles. The automaker will be adding 700 direct new U.S. jobs and investing $700 million during the next four years, creating the new Manufacturing Innovation Center at its Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Michigan.
  2. China cutting new energy vehicle subsidies: Makers of plug-in cars, commercial trucks, and buses will have their generous subsidies cut this year by the Chinese government in the wake of misreporting of production and sales to the government. The Ministry of Finance put caps on subsidies and increased technical specifications required to receive funding, Reuters reported. News had surfaced in September about a scandal with false reports being submitted, along with failure to meet technical requirements needed to gain more “new energy vehicle” government funding for plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles. Subsidies have been considered to be primary driver for making China the world’s largest market for EV sales. Busmakers had their subsidies cut in half, from a previous cap of 600,000 yuan (about $86,000) down to 300,000 yuan ($43,000) per vehicle. For plug-in passenger cars, incentives started being reduced with a 20% drop in 2017. Medium and heavy-duty trucks, and specialized-use vehicles will be capped at 150,000 yuan ($21,584). Local government subsidies will be capped at 50% of what the national government is making available. Technical specs include measuring by energy density and range requirements. Fast chargers for buses will receive more in subsidies. The national government has also been adding automakers to its list of companies being granted licenses to manufacture plug-in vehicles and receive subsidies. A division of Jiangling Motors became the seventh company allowed in the system in late December; Chinese auto parts supplier Wanxiang Group, owner of Karma Automotive and A123 Systems, was added earlier in the month.
  3. Nissan plug-in hybrid: Nissan may be manufacturing a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, according to a senior Nissan official. The collaboration forged last year between Nissan-Renault and Mitsubishi would mean that the new plug-in model will use technology from the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. Takashi Shirakawa, head of R&D for Nissan Europe, said that the Nissan plug-in hybrid will use Mitsubishi technology. The Outlander PHEV has become the top-selling plug-in electrified vehicle sold in Europe. It’s due to come the U.S. sometime this summer. Nissan so far has had all-electric models in its lineup, the Leaf and the e-NV200 concept van. In the first part of December, Japan’s Nikkei reported that Nissan-Renault will be collaborating with Mitsubishi on a common EV platform. The global automaker said the goal of the common framework was to reduce the price of an EV by about 20 percent, and more in line with the price of gasoline-powered vehicles. Key components, such as the motor, inverter, and battery, will be shared by Nissan-Renault and Mitsubishi.
  4. Self-driving Fusion Hybrid: Ford will be showing its next-generation Fusion Hybrid with autonomous vehicle features at CES starting this week in Las Vegas. It’s said to have more computing power, advanced Lidar sensors, and a more targeted field of vision than previous self-driving test Fusions. Ford is using the car as part of its larger strategy to have production-ready fully autonomous vehicles available in the next few years. New features along with the enhanced Lidar system include cameras and radar, algorithms for location and path planning, computer vision and machine learning, highly detailed 3D maps, and adequate computing space and power. “The car must be able to perform what a human can behind the wheel,” said Chris Brewer, chief program engineer for Ford’s Autonomous Vehicle Development, adding that “our virtual driver system is designed to do just that.”
  5. From Volt to Bolt: It’s taken a little less than 10 years from the introduction of the Chevy Volt concept at the 2007 Detroit auto show until affordable, long-range electric Chevy Bolts started being delivered to the first buyers. Automotive News covered the history of these plug-in vehicles, including General Motors’ bankruptcy and the important role both the Volt and Bolt have been playing as GM has reinvented its corporate identity in the industry. It’s been over 20 years (1996) since GM launched the EV1 in very limited numbers; but that electric car has been credited many times in the history of electric vehicles; including GM now working hard at making up for having quickly pulled the EV1 off the assembly line. GM’s investment in ride-hailing firm Lyft and their joint testing of self-driving Bolts marks a landmark in the changing role automakers are taking on in electrification, autonomous vehicles, and mobility services.
  6. Lamborghini Urus plug-in hybrid: Lamborghini R&D chief Maurizio Reggiani said a high-performance plug-in hybrid SUV will likely be revealed in 2017 and go on sale in 2018. The Lamborghini Urus will also be released as a twin-turbo, 4.0-liter V8 model, he said. Turbocharging will be part of the performance power for the PHEV and twin-turbo V8 versions. The Volkswagen-owned sports car brand says it will become “the ultimate super athlete in the SUV segment.”
  7. Autopilot features added: Tesla Motors continued putting the pieces in place for its fully autonomous hardware to move forward – and to keep it integrated with the semi-autonomous Autopilot system. CEO Elon Musk tweeted Saturday about the company beginning testing Autopilot safety features through a software upload to 1,000 new Tesla vehicles that have been built with the fully-autonomous hardware. Model S and Model X vehicles built after October have the fully-automated features built in, in what Musk calls “Hardware 2;” these new vehicles had Autopilot safety features left out for testing later to make sure they’re compatible. The 1,000 vehicles received a software upload with the Autopilot safety features added over the weekend to work out any problems; and to bring them in line with older Model S vehicles that had received Autopilot hardware once it started being added in September 2014.
  8. Propane vehicles sales growth: Roush CleanTech has found converting and selling propane-powered school buses to be taking off in the market, along with its propane vans and heavy-duty pickups.  It took the company six years to sell over 14,000 propane vehicles, but the company is on track to sell 6,000 more vehicles converted to run on propane autogas by the of 2017. The company says that it’s been able to make the business case that propane makes for a better, more cost effective alternative fuel than compressed natural gas.
  9. LCFS summit: Calstart is holding the fifth annual Clean, Low-Carbon Fuels Summit on February 27-28, 2017, in Sacramento. The Summit is known for being one of the premier gatherings which brings together legislators, regulators, and industry executives to discuss what is needed for the low-carbon fuels industry.  This year’s program will jointly focus on opportunities for California, as well as developments happening in other states and Canada. We will also be taking stock of what the incoming US presidential administration means for the clean, low-carbon fuels industry. For the first time, the Summit is open to the public. You can receive the early bird rate if you register by January 14.
  10. FCA automated electric car: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles unveiled a new, semi-autonomous electric minivan at CES in Las Vegas yesterday. Called the Chrysler Portal, the vehicle was “created by millennials for millennials,” according to FCA. The automaker worked with Samsung Electronics as its provider of 360 degree cameras and other sensors, and Panasonic Automotive as its supplier for infotainment, wireless connectivity and audio systems, the company said.