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: 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: Tesla Model 3 ahead of schedule, Teaser video on BMW i8 Roadster

Model 3 schedule announced:  Production of the Tesla Model 3 has cleared regulatory approval and is two weeks ahead of schedule, according to a tweet last night by CEO Elon Musk. The first production model is expected to go off the line this Friday. The first 30 will be delivered to customers on July 28th at a handover party. Musk said the company expects the first 100 cars will be finished in August, and then the ramp up will start with 1,500 or more September. It’s looking like 20,000 per month can be built beginning December, he tweeted. The Model 3 is on track to break the company’s pattern of delaying production and delivery of the Model S and especially the Model X.

Safe and sane:  Green Auto Market will take the day off tomorrow for Independence Day. Have fun and expect to get stuck in traffic.

BMW video on i8 Roadster:  BMW just released a teaser video of the BMW i8 Roadster, which is scheduled to come out next year. The convertible is shown in the video with its removable hardtop in place, covered in camouflage, and being blown over in a wind tunnel. That suggests the i8 Roadster is moving forward in factory and road testing so that it can go to production level. It will be the third member of the i-Series vehicles, and BMW is expected announce the fourth member sometime this year. In May of last year, BMW’s chief Harald Kruger confirmed during a press conference in Munich that the i8 Roadster has been approved for production.

For Today: Musk tweets teaser on Model 3 launch, Europe’s largest utility sees plug-in vehicle sales coming faster than expected

Model 3 release date teaser:  The launch date of the Tesla Model 3 will be revealed on Sunday, according to a Twitter post by CEO Elon Musk. However, the announcement could be other news such as when the production will start next month, or when a production model will be shown during that month. Douglas Bailey spoke for those anxious to learn more in his tweet last night: “please have mercy. I don’t care if you say July 31st – but the speculation on Model 3 final release date has to stop.” Musk responded: “News on Sunday.” Musk said recently that Tesla is “definitely” on track to begin Model 3 production in July. Customers will be able to customize their orders for color and wheel size, Musk told shareholders earlier this month.

European plug-in sales:  The European plug-in vehicle market was up 48% in registrations during May, year-over-year, with 20,568 vehicles sold. It was up 21% over April, according to the European Alternative Fuels Observatory. Plug-in hybrids took the lead with 11,494 units sold, with all-electric vehicles at 9,074 units sold. The Renault Zoe finished in first place with about 10% of the share and 2,065 units sold during the month. The Mitsubishi Outlander retained second place, followed by the Nissan Leaf, BMW i3, and the Volkswagen Passat GTE.

Largest utility backing chargers:  The CEO of Europe’s largest utility sees the pace of plug-in vehicle adoption becoming faster than the global auto and energy industries expect. Italian utility Enel SpA chief Francesco Starace said in an interview in Rome that his company will be investing nearly 300 million euros ($341 million) to install about 12,000 recharging spots across Italy. These vehicles will need a larger charging infrastructure. Starace said that electric cars could help stabilize the grid. It will also provide a small revenue stream to users when they’re recharging through a new ‘vehicle to grid’ technology in Italy. Electric cars become large mobile batteries able to interact with the power grid, supporting renewable energy and helping to balance out power flow.