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…….
- Karma Revero launch: Karma Automotive has officially launched the Karma Revero luxury plug-in hybrid sports car built on the Fisker Karma platform. The company said that one of its innovative features is a solar-powered roof. It looks like the original Karma, but it does have a few added features. The previous Karma had access to a solar panel to power the 12-volt battery linked to the air conditioning system. Now the solar panel provides power to the high-voltage battery. It also comes with a completely redesigned infotainment system and super-charging capabilities. Karma Automotive is setting up a networking of franchised luxury brand dealers and its own corporate stores, similar to what Tesla has been opening up. “Serving a mass market is not, and never will be, our purpose,” said Jim Taylor, chief revenue officer. “The Revero is for a discerning group of individuals who desire beautiful, clean vehicles and a memorable ownership experience. We are thrilled to start this journey.”
- AltCar Expo: The City of Santa Monica will present the 11th annual AltCar Expo on Sept. 16-17, dedicated to alternative fuel vehicles and alternative modes of transportation. On Saturday, Sept. 17, AltCar will be celebrating the 10th Anniversary of “Who Killed the Electric Car?” with a special screening and panel discussion with Chris Paine, Dean Devlin, and special guests. Paine will present journalist Dan Neil with the 1st Annual AltCar Disrupter Award. On Friday, Sept. 16, Jon LeSage from Green Auto Market will lead a panel on the Future of Mobility. The lively panel discussion features Hilary Norton from FAST, Delilah Lanoix Harris with ButterFli, and Michael Brylawski from Evercar, and will discuss how the changes will affect fleets as well as consumers. The two-day event will be held at the Santa Monica Civic parking lot and East Wing, 1855 Main St., Santa Monica, CA, Friday, Sept. 16 and Saturday, Sept. 17, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and is free to the public.
- Subaru electric crossover: Subaru will be launching its first plug-in model, an all-wheel-drive electric crossover in the U.S. by 2021 to meet more stringent emissions regulations, according to a Japanese media source. The Japanese automaker will be releasing a midsize vehicle based on its Forester or Outback, according to an unidentified source. It will be based on a new global platform that its parent company, Fuji Heavy Industries, released earlier this year.
- Sierra Club study on EV sales experience: Dealers looking for an opportunity to grow another profit center in electric vehicle sales would do well to not only compete with Tesla but with franchised dealers in their metro areas. The Sierra Club sent a group of mystery shoppers to dealerships and Tesla stores to experience the EV sales process. This took place at 308 dealer locations and Tesla stores in California and nine other states following California’s zero emission vehicle mandates. About a third of the time, sales staff didn’t discuss federal tax and state rebate incentives; 14 percent of the dealerships didn’t have the cars sufficiently charged for a test drive, including at 22 percent of the Chevy dealerships and at 21 percent of the Ford dealerships visited. Only about half of the sales staff provided information on how to charge the EVs.
- Vehicle emissions bill in California: A new bill in Sacramento, which will likely be introduced this week by Los Angeles Assembly woman Autumn Burke, will propose that 15% of all new vehicles sold in the state be emissions-free within a decade. That would clash with the current zero emissions vehicle mandate calling for the same percentage by 2025, but with automakers having flexibility in meeting sales targets based on credit trading. California is facing a political fight over the future of the climate change law and the role vehicles and transportation will play. Burke thinks that the bill will increase pressure on automakers to transition over to more zero emission vehicles.
- GM ownership in Lyft: General Motors will not be increasing its investment in Lyft at this time, according to the companies. Silicon Valley website, The Information, reported that Lyft declined an offer from GM to increase its ownership stake from the current level of 9% up to 100%. The site attributes the report to a “person briefed on the situation.” Lyft was valued at $5.5 billion when GM bought its stake earlier this year. GM President Dan Ammann joined Lyft’s board of directors as part of the investment agreement.
- Germany clears VW diesel car fixes: Volkswagen AG gained approval in Germany to carry out fixes on 460,000 diesel cars using software that cheats emissions tests. The approval from the Federal Motor Transport Authority is valid for countries throughout Europe. It applies to models with 1.2-liter EA189 engines including the Volkswagen Polo and Seat Ibiza. German regulators have already cleared about 4.5 million vehicles in a process the automaker expects to complete by the end of this year.
- Investigating Koch brothers’ campaign for fossil fuels: “Discover the Value and Potential of Domestic Oil and Natural Gas,” says the Fueling U.S. Forward website. It’s part of brothers Charles and David Koch’s $10 million campaign to improve public opinion and support for oil and gas, and to attack electric vehicle and clean energy regulations. The campaign is being led by Charles Drevna, a long time pro-oil lobbyist who spent years at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, and most recently was a senior fellow at the Koch-funded Institute for Energy Research. You can also visit a new site launched to counter this Koch-backed campaign, called KochVsClean.com. Here you can find more information on Fueling U.S. Forward and much more research on this latest attack by the Koch brothers network.
- China may adopt ZEV rules: China’s national government is considering following California’s lead on the zero emission vehicle mandate. China has contributed generously to its new vehicle incentive program, which has helped significantly boost EV sales in the country in recent years. Those incentives will be ending in 2020, and the government is looking into alternatives in support of its “new-energy vehicles” campaign. California’s credit-based system for automakers may gain support in China.
- Tesla edits Chinese website: Tesla Motors removed a Chinese term for “self-driving” from its China website. It follows a Chinese Tesla owner claiming Tesla store employees misrepresented the fully autonomous capabilities of the Autopilot features. The Tesla driver crashed earlier this month while on a Beijing highway after the car failed to avoid a vehicle parked on the left side but partially in the roadway. Both cars were damaged but no passengers were injured.