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…….
- Federal funds cut: If the Trump administration’s 2018 proposed budget passes in Congress, two important federal funding programs for green vehicles and cleantech will go away. The proposal would eliminate the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Loan Program (ATVM) and Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). To absorb Trump’s proposed $54-billion increase in defense spending, big cuts will be made to other federal agencies. These two Department of Energy funding programs have been able to tap into DOE-sponsored university programs and public/private alliances with vehicle makers and tech suppliers. The first-ever mass market electric vehicles in the U.S. – the Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, and Tesla Model S, had benefited from federal backing.
- Ford eQVM program: Ford is adding OEMs in electrified vehicles to the Advanced Fuel Qualified Vehicle Modifier (QVM) program. These vehicle modifiers and upfitters develop and install electrified and hydraulic hybrid powertrains for Ford trucks and vans. The eQVM program kicks off with three developers – XL Hybrids, Motiv Power Systems and Lightning Hybrids. These companies offer electrification or hydraulic hybrid solutions for a range of Ford vehicles popular with fleet and commercial customers, including F-150, F-250 to F-550 Super Duty, F-650 and F-750 medium-duty trucks, Transit and E-Series vans and chassis, and F-53/F-59 stripped chassis.
- Uber upheaval: Jeff Jones, the president of Uber, is quitting the ridesharing company after only being there about six months. The move by the No. 2 exec, sources say, is directly related to the multiple controversies there, including charges of sexual harassment. Uber’s list of controversies is long and complicated, including the Waymo lawsuit on Uber stealing its technology for self-driving cars. The company said it plans to review and commit to diversity goals and publish results from a sexual harassment investigation over the coming weeks. Arianna Huffington, a company board member, said a probe into the company’s culture and harassment claims is likely to be completed by the end of March. Huffington will help oversee the investigation along with Eric Holder, the former U.S. attorney general.
- VW MEB product launches: Volkswagen is preparing to launch its first all-electric I.D. car in 2020 on the new MEB modular electric platform. The company is concerned that increasingly strict emissions rules in China and Europe will need to be taken very seriously. VW brand CEO Herbert Diess told analysts last week that the I.D. concept hatchback shown at the Paris auto show last year is expected to have its design approved in August for the 2020 launch; followed by an electric SUV coming out after 2020, with a concept being revealed next month at the Shanghai motor show. The I.D. Buzz minibus concept previewed at the Detroit auto show in will be the third EV and should come out in 2022. China will play the most important role for VW meetings its ambitious EV sales target over the next decade.
- Lucid Air pricing: Lucid Motors has revealed the pricing of Lucid Air, the company’s all-electric supercar that was unveiled in December. Lucid says it will charge $60,000 for a 400-horsepower, rear-wheel drive version of the sedan, which will have 240 miles of range. The company is currently taking $2,500 reservation down payments; the car is scheduled to begin shipments in 2019.
- VW settlement: Volkswagen’s Electrify America subsidiary will be installing 320 kW fast chargers in California as part of the $2 billion settlement from the diesel emissions scandal. The chargers will not be proprietary to VW and will use Combined Charging Systems, CHAdeMO, and open protocols like Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP) in the chargers being placed. In total, the company plans to install between 2,000‐3,000 chargers (mostly Level 2 and 50 kW DC chargers) at 400 or more individual stations.
- NextEV finds another backer: Chinese search engine giant Baidu will be investing about $600 million in Chinese startup NextEV. NextEV already has the backing of tech giant Tencent Holdings and Hillhouse Capital. The startup launched the world’s fastest electric car, the Nio, at a bay area event. Both NextEV and Baidu have licenses to test out there self-driving cars in California, so electrified autonomous vehicles should be part of the alliance.
- NGVs in Europe: European Alternative Fuels Observatory released a special edition report on the natural gas vehicels in that market. This edition is dedicated to the use of natural gas vehicles in Europe. Some facts about the NGV market in. The latest figures show that there are about 1.3 million NGVs in Europe. They fuel up at more than 3,600 CNG stations in Europe with the top five infrastructure countries being Italy, Germany, Sweden, Netherlands, and Austria. There are more than 50 different models of CNG and LNG vehicles available in Europe. NGVs are years ahead in Europe as these vehicles and fuel played an important role in several decimated countries like Italy recovering from World War II.
- Goodbye Model S 60: Tesla’s Model S 60 will go away after April 16 orders as Tesla cuts out the least popular, and least expensive, electric motor and battery pack option. The cheapest option will be the S 75 and the starting price will go from $71,300 to $77,800. There will be a wider gap between those looking for the cheaper Model 3 and pricey Model S and Model X.
- Hydrogen station webinar: Today at 12 noon (PST), you can join the California Fuel Cell Partnership for a brown-bag webinar update about hydrogen station network development in California. This webinar will provide general, non-technical overview about: retail fueling network development status; next retail stations ready to come online; proposed CEC funding of 16 additional stations; and SOSS system updates. To participate from 12 noo to 1:00 pm PST, register here. You can also participate in a Q&A after the presentations.