This Week’s Top 10: California ZEV credits tightening up, Tesla shareholders have mixed feelings about SolarCity deal

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. Chevy Volt at dealershipZEV credits tightening: California’s zero emission vehicle
    mandate, adopted by nine other states, is heading for change in 2018 as the credit structure enters its next phase. Automakers have been able to earn partial credits from sales of plug-in hybrids and hybrid electric vehicles, along with low-emissions and fuel efficient conventional vehicles. Regulations will be tightening in 2018 in a way that limits the impact of those partial credits and requires more sales of pure ZEVs, or battery electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. California and nine other states – Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont – accounted for 28% of new-vehicle registrations in the U.S. last year, according to IHS Automotive data. Automakers are feeling the pressure to comply soon while rolling out more competitive, affordable, 200-mile-plus electric vehicles.
  2. Tesla and SolarCity: Tesla shareholders had mixed reactions to Tesla’s plan, announced last week, to take over SolarCity for $2.8 billion. Tesla said that by acquiring SolarCity, the two companies would create a unique package of clean energy offerings, including solar panels, home battery storage, and electric cars under a single trusted brand. Investors, however, have been cool to the deal, sending the value of Tesla down more than what it proposed to pay for SolarCity. Critics have argued the two companies cater to different groups of customers, with little crossover. Elon Musk, a founder of Tesla and SolarCity who owns about a fifth of each, has to rely on outside investors to decide where this deal will go, and the process is being led by major fund companies such as Fidelity Investments. Some investors are concerned that this new investment will take away the focus needed to run the gigafactory and roll out the Model 3 the way it should be rolled out; others perceive trouble in taking on more than $3 billion in debt carried by SolarCity, a company run by Musk’s cousins. Tesla shares closed at $198.55 yesterday after reaching a recent peak of $235.52 on June 8.
  3. Faraday testing self-driving cars: Faraday Future will begin testing prototype self-driving electric vehicles on California roads later this year after winning approval from the state, an industry source said. A spokesperson from California DMV confirmed that Faraday had been approved to test self-driving vehicles on public roads on June 17. While the company plans to begin selling high-performance electric vehicles next year in the U.S., no details have been revealed yet on its self-driving car.
  4. Karma starts assembly: Karma Automotive opened up its 555,670-square-foot factory in Moreno Valley, Calif., with its first Karma Revero rolling of the assembly line last month. “A flame-red 1993 Chevrolet Camaro was the last car to roll off an assembly line in Southern California 24 years ago,” the automaker said. “We changed that this May when the first Karma Revero rolled off our Moreno Valley assembly line. The first of many.”
  5. Nissan said it will introduce two new technologies this year to move the automaker along in becoming a leader in electric vehicles and self-driving cars. The first is a new range extender that Nissan says will tackle two of the biggest hurdles confronting electric vehicles: cost and limited range.The new hybrid system, dubbed e-Power, debuted as a concept, the Gripz compact crossover shown last fall at the Frankfurt auto show.
  6. EV market forecast: Navigant Research expects the North American electric vehicle market will grow by around 62% year-over-year in 2016, nearing 200,000 sales. Growth is anticipated to come from expanding sales of the Tesla Model X, the second-generation Volt, and the introduction of the Chevrolet Bolt 200-mile range BEV, Prius Prime plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV later in the year. Navigant Research projects that the introduction of the Tesla Model 3 in late 2017 will likely boost the North American PEV market by around 60% in 2017 and then nearly double the market in 2018 after the first full year of Model 3 sales.
  7. Ford’s sustainability report: As part of its 2015/2016 Sustainability Report, Ford is introducing Project Better World, a mobility health services pilot program aimed at improving lives in developing countries while supporting new technological advancements and data analytics experiments. Through this program, Ford is working with World Vision South Africa and Riders for Health in Nigeria to donate two Ford Rangers, equipped to work as mobile health clinics, to meet the mobility needs of underserved communities in each country. Ford says that its continuing to invest in and strengthen its core business of designing, manufacturing, marketing, financing and servicing cars, SUVs, trucks, and electrified vehicles. At the same time, the automaker is aggressively pursuing emerging opportunities through Ford Smart Mobility – its plan to be a leader in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience, and data and analytics.
  8. According to global EV sales data, consumers and fleets bought 58% battery electric vehicles and 42% plug-in hybrid electric vehicles as of last year. That’s shifting this year as PHEVs gain share. BEVs are showing more strength lately through strong sales in China.
  9. Fuel cell submarines: General Motors is working with the U.S. Navy in an effort to develop a new generation of unmanned undersea vehicles driven by hydrogen fuel-cell technology that can operate for as long as 70 days at a time. The technology would replace the more limited battery-drive systems currently in use in so-called UUVs, according to Navy officials.
  10. Audi vs. Tesla: Audi says that having roots going back to 1885 give it decades of experience that will help it win over Silicon Valley startup Tesla Motors. “For over 100 years, automobiles have always gotten better,” Stefan Niemand, the German engineer who is the architect of Audi’s electric-car strategy, said. “Drivers won’t adopt electric cars if they’re seen as smaller, uglier and more expensive.”


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Highlights from EVS29 in Montreal as Conference Returns to North America

EVS29 logoThe largest electric vehicle conference of the year returned to North America. Electric Vehicle Symposium & Exhibition (EVS29) was held June 19-22 in Montreal with about 2,000 attendees participating in speaker sessions and workshops – and an opportunity to test drive EVs. The international event showcased EVs and charging infrastructure from Québec and all over the world. Sponsors included Nissan, Toyota, the provinces of Quebec and Ontario, Hydro Quebec, Investissement Québec, and Charged Electric Vehicle Magazine; the event was organized and hosted by Electric Drive Transportation Association. (Editor’s note: EVS30 will be the 30th EVS venue since 1969 and it will be held next year in Stuttgart, Germany.)

Here were some of the highlights from the annual event:

BMW introduced its energy storage system that taps into the resources of its BMW i3 vehicle battery – and that can be integrated seamlessly with charging stations and solar panels. The system utilizes BMW i3 high-voltage batteries and can be expanded to incorporate second-life batteries as they become available in the market, BMW says. Users of the energy storage system can offset peak energy costs and will have access to backup energy supply during power outages. BMW is adding its new product to the energy story market segment that others automakers had previously entered including Tesla, Daimler, and Nissan.

The Ride, Drive & Charge event organized by EVS29 offered the general public the opportunity to test drive some of the electric cars available on the market in Canada. Car manufacturers will made their latest electric car models available to the public. A side event was held on Sunday, June 19, with an EV parade featuring electrified vehicles including bicycles, delivery vehicles, and cars parading downtown from Palais des congrès.

City of Amsterdam won AVERE’s E-Visionary Award for the second time for continuous efforts in developing e-mobility in the broadest way, including charging infrastructure, taxis, tourist boats, and much more. AVERE is the European association for electromobility. Jury members awarded Amsterdam for its long and solid track record of promoting the use of EVs in the city, putting an effective charging infrastructure in place and promoting in general the transition to electromobility. The targets and the ambitious timing set for zero emission taxis, buses, small delivery vehicles, light vehicles, and boats, were recognized. The E-Visionary Award for North America (chosen by the EDTA & Electric Mobility Canada) was given to the City of Montreal. Professor CC Chan from EVAAP – and World Electric Vehicle Association founder – presented the Asia-Pacific E-visionary Award to the Hon. DU Peng, Consul of the Peoples Republic of China to Quebec for outstanding efforts in the field of E-Mobility by the City of Hefei.

See the EVS29 social media pages on Twitter (@EVSymposium29) and Facebook for highlights from speakers and the exhibit hall. Audiences learned more about Canadian transit districts bringing in electric buses; Montreal Mayor accepting the WEVA e-Visionary award as his city leads the charge for electric mobility; and Parliamentary Secretary Kim Rudd to the Honorable Jim Carr, Minister of Natural Resources, giving keynote remarks during the opening plenary.

Highlights from speaker panels included:

  • Takuma Takeuchi of the University of Tokyo spoke on wireless in-wheel motors that he said can make EVs more efficient. The technology could enable induction charging directly from coils embedded in roadways, which would eliminate the need for on-board batteries entirely. The version that the University of Tokyo is working on replaces the cables that carry electricity from the battery to the wheels with magnetic coils that send power through the air.
  • Hydro-Québec announced the electrification of Highway 20, one of Québec’s busiest corridors, between Montréal and Mont-Joli. New fast-charge stations in Daveluyville and Laurier-Station will be in addition to the existing stations in Sainte-Julie, Drummondville and Lévis. A sixth charging station will be available this fall at the St-Hubert restaurant in St-Hyacinthe. Results of a pilot project were also discussed, which was run by the Hydro-Québec’s research institute, IREQ, and aimed to test power exchanges between electric vehicle batteries and homes or the electrical system.
  • Martin Bruell of Continental AG, Germany, revealed progress on elimination of the on-board charger (OBC). In a paper, “Bidirectional Charge- and Traction-System” he reported, “We have developed a cost-efficient solution for E-Mobility targeting all kinds of conductive charging. It solves the chicken-and-egg problem of investment for fast charging electronics by reusing existing electronics in the car. It makes the charging station as simple as possible, which is AC charging. Furthermore all conductive charging interfaces can be used when the BCTS is installed.”
  • New EV telematics service: FleetCarma, a provider of telematics systems for electric vehicles, announced at EVS29 the launch of a new product for fleets seeking to increase the number of electric vehicles they operate. Fleets connecting the new telematics device, named the C2, to gasoline, diesel, and hybrid vehicles in their fleet receive the immediate benefits of standard telematics, while the system also uses the operational data to identify optimal vehicles for replacement with electric vehicles. The single telematics system provides immediate telematics benefits on the gasoline and diesel vehicles while providing the long term benefits of optimized electric vehicle deployment.
  • Nissan Leaf going farther on a charge: As reported last week (along with the FleetCarma announcement), Tthe next-generation Nissan Leaf will be able to travel more than 200 miles per charge from its 60-kWh battery, said Kazuo Yajima, Nissan’s global director of EV and HEV engineering. Watch AutoblogGreen’s Sebastian Blanco doing a video report on what it’s like this week in the expo hall at EVS29. You can hear Yajima talk about Nissan’s new battery pack during the video.
  • The Institut de recherche sur l’hydrogène (IRH) at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, together with Toyota Canada representatives and Quebec’s Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Pierre Arcand, invited media to an event to express their desire to position the province as a leader in sustainable mobility. The recently unveiled energy plan makes hydrogen and fuel cell electric vehicles an integral part, with a Toyota Mirai vehicle display.

This Week’s Top 10: Nissan Leaf joining 200 mile EV club, EV incentives put on hold in California

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. Lithium battery in Nissan LeafNissan Leaf will go over 200: The next-generation Nissan Leaf will be able to travel more than 200 miles per charge from its 60-kWh battery, said Kazuo Yajima, Nissan’s global director of EV and HEV engineering. Yajima spoke to AutoblogGreen at the Electric Vehicle Symposium (EVS29) in Montreal. It’s coming, but he couldn’t say when. Yajima said the 60-kWh pack will more drive the car 210-220 miles per charge, which is more than double the range from the current Leaf’s 24 kWh battery. Nissan had placed the 60-kWh pack in the IDS concept car revealed last November. Watch AutoblogGreen’s Sebastian Blanco doing a video report on what it’s like this week in the expo hall at EVS29. You can hear Yajima talk about Nissan’s new battery pack during the video.
  2. EV incentives on hold in California: The California legislature has passed a new budget, awaiting Governor Jerry Brown’s signature, which cuts off funds for the state’s clean vehicle subsidies. EV advocates are waiting to see if a compromise will be made before the governor signs the bill, or if a new measure will be introduced. If the governor does sign this bill, subsidies will be cut including consumer rebates for electrified vehicles, “environmentally friendly” heavy trucks, and other clean vehicle programs. Car buyers seeking incentive funds are on a waiting list for now. A Los Angeles Times article says it may have to do with how the state is spending funds generated by its cap-and-trade program. California’s cap-and-trade auction credit system requires businesses like oil refineries and manufacturers to buy permits based on how much they pollute. The governor may be holding onto the funds to get lawmakers to reach a deal this summer on extending the life of the cap-and-trade program. That state program is facing legal questions over whether it can keep operating past 2020.
  3. SCAQMD webinar on $50M funding: Join the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) for a complimentary one-hour webinar to learn about the $50 million in California’s new Proposition 1B funding for: heavy-duty truck replacements; truck stop electrification; electric charging stations; hydrogen fueling stations, and other topics. With this free webinar, SCAQMD is aiming to ensure all the relevant fleets that operate Class 6, 7 or 8 trucks are well aware of the funding that could be available to them. The program is presented by Vicki White, Program Supervisor, SCAQMD. It will take place Thursday, June 23, at 2:00 p.m. PDT. Click here to register.
  4. Attacking Uber’s surge pricing: Gett is taking swipes at competitor Uber in a New York City ad campaign aimed at resentments over surge pricing. The campaign targets Uber’s surge pricing, which takes hold when rider demand is high. Gett, an on-demand black-car app that’s available in more than 60 cities worldwide, is placing its ads on 570 subway cars, phone kiosks, digital street-level billboards, and bus shelters around the city. Gett, which received a $300 million strategic investment from Volkswagen Group last month, is tapping into riders’ annoyance with having their fares increased 1.5 times the usual fare – and sometimes up to two or three times the fare. Gett emphasizes that it doesn’t have surge pricing in the ads.
  5. EVgo brings in new investor: Charging networking supplier EVgo, which was started years ago by electric utility NRG Energy, has become an independent company. Vision Ridge Partners, a climate action-oriented investment firm, has closed on its major investment in EVgo. This move supports EVgo’s mission of expanding its charging network, including its commitment to deploying public fast charging stations. EVgo has worked closely with automakers like Nissan, BMW, and Ford to develop a vehicle-centric customer experience. EVgo operates 665 fast chargers in more than 50 top metro markets across the country.
  6. New EV telematics service: FleetCarma, a provider of telematics systems for electric vehicles, announced at EVS29 the launch of a new product for fleets seeking to increase the number of electric vehicles they operate. Fleets connecting the new telematics device, named the C2, to gasoline, diesel, and hybrid vehicles in their fleet receive the immediate benefits of standard telematics, while the system also uses the operational data to identify optimal vehicles for replacement with electric vehicles. The single telematics system provides immediate telematics benefits on the gasoline and diesel vehicles while providing the long term benefits of optimized electric vehicle deployment.
  7. Didi investment grows: Didi Chuxing Technology Co., China’s leading ridesharing company and Uber competitor, has raised $7.3 billion in its latest fundraising effort, giving it a host of powerful allies including Apple Inc., to establish its strong market presence. A recent funding round attracted Apple’s recent $1 billion investment, China Life Insurance Co., and the financial affiliate of online shopping firm Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. The round valued the company at nearly $28 billion, people familiar with the matter said.
  8. CEC grant: The California Energy Commission has approved $13.5 million to showcase low- and zero-emission vehicles at two of the state’s busiest seaports, to identify and install electric vehicle charging sites at California’s national parks, and to complete hydrogen refueling station evaluations. Project funds are from the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP). According to the CEC, the ARFVTP has invested more than $606 million to date and funded more than 543 clean transportation projects.
  9. Uber and Hyundai alliance: Uber wants to partner with Hyundai on the development of self-driving technology in the automaker’s home country, according to Maeil Business News Korea. Uber is also poised to place an order for a huge number of Hyundai vehicles. In April, automakers Ford and Volvo, ride-sharing rivals Lyft and Uber and tech giant Google joined forces to form the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets.
  10. NASA electric planes: NASA has unveiled plans to spend the next decade working on electric planes under the ‘X-57’ moniker. One plane will be based on the Italian Tecnam P2006T, a very efficient 4 seat light aircraft. Its smaller 12 motors will only be used for takeoffs. The larger two engines on the end of the wings will propel the plane during cruising which is expected to be a solid 175 mph.

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German automakers lay out electrified vehicle strategy, and what’s behind it

Electric cars charging in GermanVolkswagen Group just made a commitment to change its business strategy in the wake of the diesel emissions scandal that started last September. The German automaker will be introducing more than “30 new pure electric vehicles” by 2025, while also establishing a mobility solutions division. Two other German automakers are heading down a similar path. Daimler will be introducing a long-range electric vehicle this fall at the Paris auto show, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg for its electrification strategy, according to Mercedes-Benz USA’s chief executive. BMW will be adding to the i Series with the “i Next” as the automaker combines autonomous mobility with electrification in the BMW and Mini brands.

Here’s a look at each company’s upcoming product launches and what’s behind all of it……….

  • VW’s STrategy: On Thursday, Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Mueller laid out the company’s long-awaited “STrategy 2025″ at a press briefing in Wolfsburg. These 30 new EVs are expected to account for up to one-quarter of its sales – two to three million pure-electric cars a year by 2025. VW’s $300 million investment last month in ride-hailing app Gett was part of something much larger. The company says that its plans to establish a mobility solutions division that will develop its own services as well as acquiring businesses in areas such as ride-hailing, robo-taxis, and carsharing.
  • Daimler’s long-range EV and long-range strategy: Mercedes-Benz will display a prototype of an electric-powered Mercedes car with a 310-mile range in October at the Paris motor show, development chief Thomas Weber recently said. Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Dietmar Exler just told Automotive News that the long-range EV to be introduced at the Paris show is just the tip of the iceberg for the brand’s electrification strategy. It will be way more than one EV, he said, and the company plans to sell more than 100,000 electric cars a year by the end of the decade. The electric car launch will compete with Tesla for leadership in luxury EVs. Weber said Daimler would launch its fourth-generation electric Smart car at year end in two- and four-seat variants. Daimler currently offers two all-electric cars as Smart and B-class models, and several plug-in hybrid variations. More hybrid models are in the pipeline, the company says.
  • BMW focusing on urban mobility: BMW won’t be launching the next i Series car until 2021, as the German automaker focuses first and foremost on autonomous vehicle technologies. Sales of the i3 and i8 haven’t been strong enough yet, which is likely behind the delay. Called the “i Next,” for now it’s expected to be priced between the i3 and i8, it will be similar in size to the 5-Series, and will probably have its own number. Another factor for changing its focus to mobility from EVs has been BMW investing in recent years in urban mobility test projects and R&D efforts in Europe and North America. Like other automakers, BMW sees electrified vehicles tied intimately into mobile and autonomous cars of the future, as illustrated by plans for its next EV. “The i Next will be our new spearhead for innovation and technology,” said BMW’s sales and marketing chief Ian Robertson. “Planned for 2021, it will offer autonomous driving, digital connectivity, intelligent lightweight design, a totally new interior. And ultimately it will bring the next generation of electro-mobility to the road.”
  • Facing diesel car emissions disaster: Volkswagen, Opel, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche were told they will be recalling 630,000 vehicles to fix diesel emissions management software, a German government official announced in April. Fiat may be pulled into it, with German media reporting on regulators investigating the emissions of a Fiat model equipped with a diesel engine that may be evading emissions tests. The recall number has increased for VW, which gained approval earlier this month from Germany’s KBA motor vehicle authority to recall 800,000 of its diesel cars fitted with emissions cheat software. KBA has approved software fixes on Passat, CC, and Eos models with two-liter diesel en Last week, the company addressed that issue as part of its global strategy. “Volkswagen has always enriched the lives of millions of people all over the world with its brands and products,” VW’s Mueller said. “Our aspiration is to continue that success story and play a leading role in shaping auto-mobility for future generations, too. This will require us – following the serious setback as a result of the diesel issue – to learn from mistakes made, rectify shortcomings and establish a corporate culture that is open, value-driven and rooted in integrity.”
  • Catching up with other countries: A statement made by a German government official last week illustrates the country’s ambitious goals for carbon emissions reductions – and for making its EV market stronger as it lags behind several other countries. Deputy Economy Minister Rainer Baake wants to make all new cars sold and registered in Germany to be emissions free by 2030 to assist in meeting pollution reduction goals. Germany’s pledge to cut carbon dioxide output by 80% to 95% by 2050 requires transportation pollution to be cut radically, Baake said. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been pushing for more EV incentives to boost sluggish electric-car sales. Germany has been behind China, US, UK, Norway, Japan, and Netherlands in annual EV sales. In late April, the German government reached a deal with automakers to jointly spend 1.2 billion euros ($1.4 billion) on incentives to boost EV sales and support emissions reduction targets.
  • Global competition: While Tesla Motors catches much of the flak for changing the EV game globally, it’s not just Tesla. In December, Ford announced that it’s investing an additional $4.5 billion in electrified vehicle solutions by 2020. The automaker will be adding 13 new electrified vehicles to its portfolio by 2020, when more than 40% of the company’s global nameplates will come in electrified versions. Nissan continues to expand its presence in markets around the world with the Nissan Leaf and the e-NV200 electric van. Honda has been adding plug-in versions of its models and remains committed to the technology along with fuel-cell cars. GM’s chief executive Mary Barra popularized the 200-mile EV debate earlier this year while championing the upcoming Chevy Bolt that will be launched prior to the Tesla Model 3. “This is truly the first EV that cracks the code because of long range at an affordable price,” Barra said in a keynote speech at the CES convention in Las Vegas.
  • Mobility strategies: For these three German automakers, electrification is part of a much larger strategy to face an historic shift over to another business model. As said several times in Green Auto Market and other sources, carmakers are changing their identity from vehicle manufacturers with dealer networks to providers of mobility services for the cities of the future. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and Daimler chief Dieter Zetsche denied rumors last week during a conference panel that Uber will be buying 100,000 vehicles from Daimler or that that two companies will merge. Daimler has been making headways into mobility on its own, starting a U.S. division of its Moovel mobility-services in April through acquiring Texas-based ride-sourcing company RideScout and Portland, Oregon-based mobile-ticketing service GlobeSherpa in April. Daimler’s Car2Go has been one of the leading carsharing services in Europe and North America for several years. VW recently made a $300 million investment in ride-hailing mobile app Gett. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) will be testing out 100 driverless Chrysler Pacifica minivans with partner Google. Uber will continue to partner with automakers including Toyota and possibly with FCA. Retail giant Walmart is testing out grocery delivery services with Uber and Lyft. General Motors is planning on following up its $500 million investment in Lyft with a test project involving self-driving Chevy Bolts. Last week, the Mini Vision Next 100 electric concept car was shown to media in London. The autonomous electric car concept is based on a prediction that traditional car ownership will become optional. Mini and parent company BMW AG are investing more into the urban mobility market, which is expected to grow substantially in the coming decades.
  • All three German automakers have research centers in California’s Silicon Valley, as automakers believe that advanced vehicle technologies – including connected cars, mobility services, autonomous vehicles, and vehicle electrification – shape the industry’s future. Silicon Valley neighbors Google, Apple, Uber, Lyft, and Tesla seem to be thinking the same way.

This Week’s Top 10: Daimler releases comprehensive green powertrain lineup, Argonne publishes lifecycle analysis study

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. Mercedes electric powertrainDaimler green powertrain plan: Daimler will be spending $8 billion, half its R&D budget, on green powertrains over the next two years. Daimler says that all its vehicles will be “electrified” by 2020, and a next-generation electric car platform will be coming out at production level by the end of the decade. The green powertrains will include a mix of technologies including electric, fuel-cell vehicles, and BlueTec diesels. During a tech briefing yesterday at its headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, Mercedes-Benz announced that its upcoming GLC F-Cell hydrogen fuel-cell SUV will also include a battery pack that plugs in to recharge. It will be the first production vehicle to combine these two powertrains. Mercedes also gave details about it next-gen electric car platform. This “multi-model vehicle architecture” will be previewed as a concept vehicle at the Paris Auto Show in late September. It’s not scheduled to roll out as a production vehicle until later in the decade. It may come out first as an SUV similar to the GLC, and there’s also talk it could be a sporty sedan.
  2. Lifecycle analysis study: A new study by Argonne National Laboratory provides a comprehensive lifecycle analysis, or cradle-to-grave analysis, of the cost and greenhouse gas emissions of a variety of vehicle-fuel pathways, as well as the levelized cost of driving and cost of avoided GHG emissions. The analysis spans a full portfolio of midsize light-duty vehicles, including conventional internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs), flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs), hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), battery electric vehicles (BEVs), and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). The study finds that battery electric vehicles with 90 to 210 miles of range, and hydrogen fuel cell cars, can lower GHG emissions to 50g CO2/mile, if the electricity will be from 100% renewable energy. The report concludes that most of the advanced vehicle technologies with the greatest potential are also the most costly, while conventional gasoline engine cars can go below 150 g CO2/mile.
  3. More EVS29 keynote speakers: Electric Vehicle Symposium (EVS29) organizers announced more keynote speakers for the plenary discussions. At the opening plenary on June 20, the Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA) will welcome delegates from around the world. Event co-hosts from Electric Mobility Canada (EMC) will be featured, and prominent policy and industry leaders from Canada and the U.S. will deliver keynote remarks on the future of electric drive. Including: Philippe Couillard, Premier of Québec; Denis Coderre, Mayor of Montréal; Kim Rudd, Parliamentary Secretary to Jim Carr, Minister of Natural Resources; Éric Martel, President and Chief Executive Officer, Hydro-Québec; and Reuben Sarkar, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation, U.S. Department of Energy. A mobile app is available now for PC, Apple, and Android devices. Features include the ability to message other attendees, view the schedule, and more. Click here to register for the conference.
  4. Ferrari executive Marco Mattiacci has been appointed Faraday Future’s global chief brand and commercial officer. Mattiacci was president and CEO of Ferrari North America from 2010 to 2014, and helped launch Ferrari in China. At Faraday Future, he will oversee branding, marketing, communications, distribution, sales and user experience. He will also serve on the company’s key strategy, product, design, and human resources committees.
  5. Which stock to buy? Executives at Ford and General Motors are frustrated that their impressive financial results haven’t surged their share prices, says Automotive News columnist and news editor Dave Guilford. Ford has been trading in the low $13 range in the middle of its 52-week average. GM has been around $30, also mid-range over the past year. Tesla traded below $25 in the first month after it went public on June 29, 2010. Tesla closed at $229.34 on June 9. For Guilford, it’s all about the perceptions of the market and how the financial institutions work. “Despite vastly improved operations, GM and Ford look like buy-and-hold stocks, great if you want to collect dividends over the years,” he wrote. For Nick Bunkley, staff reporter – Ford at Automotive News, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been as good as presidential candidate Donald Trump at shaking off bad publicity. “Almost every time Tesla Motors reports another quarterly loss, its stock price actually goes up, to the irritation and total bewilderment of Detroit auto executives who watch their shares stagnate amid record earnings,” Bunkley wrote.
  6. LAPD contract: BMW won a contract to supply the Los Angeles Police Department with 100 electric cars, beating Tesla Motors on the bid. BMW is leasing 100 of its i3 battery electric plug-in vehicles for $387 per car, per month. The LAPD plans to use these vehicles for community outreach and other police business, but not patrols or car chases. That will bring the city’s fleet up to nearly 200 electric vehicles in various departments.
  7. Green HQ: Toyota will be powering 25% of its electricity with a 7.7-megawatt solar array at its new North American headquarters in Plano, Texas. The automaker will have to capacity to go to 100% renewable energy in the long run. Toyota is seeking LEED platinum certification, the US Green Building Council’s highest level, at its new corporate campus. The new facility is slated to open in May 2017.
  8. Electric cargo trucks: BYD Motors will be providing 27 battery electric trucks to San Bernardino County’s regional government association in California. The electric trucks will serve three communities heavily impacted by truck emissions. A state grant of $9.1 million was awarded. “This project will help put the very cleanest trucks to work where they are heavily utilized, moving cargo within freight yards,” said Mary D. Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board. “Cleaner trucks mean cleaner air for all Californians, but especially for those who live in neighborhoods next to these freight transfer facilities.”
  9. Carsharing VW plug-ins: Zipcar’s London fleet will now include 50 brand-new Volkswagen Golf GTE plug-in hybrids. It’s part of a new partnership with Westminster City Council and Volkswagen UK. The new Volkswagen PHEVs can be rented for £7 ($9.93) an hour — the same rate that the gas-powered Volkswagen Golf can be rented from Zipcar in London.
  10. UberMan blog: My new book, Tales of UberMan: An auto journalist shares his Prius with savvy riders, now has a blog with content from the book and news developments in the field – including more details on the class-action lawsuit settlement by Uber drivers. You can also read one of the book’s chapters, “Taking drinkers off the roads and listening to their sad tales.” The chapter features a few interesting tales and digs into the social and safety issues Uber and Lyft drivers face driving drunk riders.

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Flying cars grabbing attention and funding right up there with autonomous vehicles

TerrafugiaIf you’re a fan of science fiction author Philip K. Dick, and movies made from his writings, you’ve probably been thinking about flying cars for years. Featured in the Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? novel and Blade Runner film – and “The Electric Ant” and “Minority Report” short stories (along with the Steven Spielberg film Minority Report) – flying cars will be one of the mobility options we use daily, according to the author.

Flying cars, and similar technologies such as aerial delivery drones, are on a similar track as autonomous vehicles. They’re still in the early testing and development phase, but it looks like we will see them on our roads and skyways much sooner than expected. Google co-founder Larry Page seems to think so.

Page, CEO of Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., is spending his own money on two startups developing flying cars. He’s funded one of them, Zee.Aero, more than $100 million since it started in 2010. Since last year, Page has also been backing another startup, Kitty Hawk, which is making another flying car that could compete with Zee.Aero.

Zee.Aero conducts test flights of its prototype at an airport hangar in Hollister, Calif. The startup firm also has a manufacturing facility on NASA’s research center at the edge of Mountain View, Calif. Zee.Aero employees call Page the guy upstairs (‘GUS’). Page had demanded his involvement in the startup should stay hidden, according to an article last week in Bloomberg.

Kitty Hawk has headquarters about half a mile away from Zee.Aero, The startup is working on “something that resembles a giant version of a quadcopter drone,” according to Bloomberg.

Larry Page isn’t the only investor passionate about flying cars……..

Terrafugia TF-X received Federal Aviation Administration approval for test flights in late 2015. The hybrid-electric flying car will have fold out wings with twin electric motor pods attached to it, and is capable of recharging its batteries either from its engine or by plugging in to electric car charging stations. This mid-size car has twin helicopter-style rotors at the tips of its wings that fold out of the car and lift the TF-X into the sky. Once it’s up in the air, electric engines teamed with a 300-horsepower engine provide power. The rotors fold back, and a ducted fan pushes the TF-X along. It has a cruising speed of about 200 mph, with a range of about 500 miles.

The company says that development of the TF-X hybrid-electric flying car is expected to last 8-12 years. Once developed it will be tested in a wind tunnel at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It could go on sale for $120,000 and seat four people. You can watch the video here; and the image was taken from the video for the photo shown at the beginning of this article.

Google is working with NASA and 13 other companies, including Amazon and Verizon, to create an air-traffic control system for drones, called Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Traffic Management. With safety being a key concern, the federal government is seeking to work with the private sector to create rules of the aerial highways. Recent crashes of drones, including at national parks and on the White House grounds, have brought concern to watching over the new technologies being tested. The economic opportunities are part of gaining support from corporate backers.

“They definitely see it as an economic opportunity and as something that they want to participate in,” said Brian Wynne, president of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. “This is real magic.”

NASA is researching prototype technologies for a UAS Traffic Management (UTM) system that could develop airspace integration requirements for enabling safe, efficient low-altitude operations. Currently, there is no established infrastructure to enable and safely manage the widespread use of low-altitude airspace and UAS operations. A UTM system for low-altitude airspace may be needed, perhaps leveraging concepts from the system of roads, lanes, stop signs, rules, and lights that govern vehicles on the ground today, whether the vehicles are driven by humans or are automated, NASA says.

Amazon has gained a lot of attention with its Prime Air automated delivery drones. In December, Amazon released a video showing a prototype of one of its delivery drones, which shares features of both helicopters and airplanes. Prime Air will get packages to customers within 30 minutes of them ordering it online at, according to Amazon’s Paul Misener. The range has to be over 10 miles and the carried weight will be less than five pounds for typical Amazon orders and up to 55 pounds, he said.

During a presentation at ACT Expo 2016, Steve Burns, CEO of Workhorse Group Inc., talked about the company’s truck-based HorseFly Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) delivery system, which is currently undergoing testing by Workhorse under a Section 333 exception granted by the Federal Aviation Administration. At its booth, the company showed a video featuring a small drone launching from the top of a delivery truck, flying a package to a nearby house and returning to the vehicle. Burns focused on the economic efficiencies and state-of-the-art technology in the HorseFly during his presentation.

A Chinese company’s EHang 184 has been cleared for testing in Nevada. The approval was given by the Nevada governor’s office to develop and test the vehicle at the state’s Federal Aviation Administration-approved drone test site. The electric passenger drone created by EHang was unveiled at CES in Las Vegas in January. The company says that it’s the world’s first passenger drone and is capable of autonomously carrying a person in the air for 23 minutes. It’s a 142-horsepower “personal flying vehicle” that can transport a single person at an altitude of more than 11,000 feet, China’s People’s Daily Online reported.

Other flying car projects in development described in a lengthy Bloomberg feature include:

  • Volocopter made by E-volo with a price tag of $280,000 and seating for two. The prototype all-electric vehicle will be sold as a hybrid to increase flight times. It will have 18 propellers in a circular structure placed above the cockpit.
  • AeroMobil 3.0 will cost $400,000 and seat four. It will be gasoline powered, can take off from driving down a road and soaring to the air quickly, and can cover a flight distance from, say, New York to Toronto. The company, AeroMobil, says it will start taking orders for it this year.
  • Moller Skycar is being built at Moller’s workshop in Davis, Calif. Moller International says it will cost $500,000 to $1 million and will seat four. It will have a range of 805 miles at 131 mpg, and a maximum speed of 308 mph. Founder Paul Moller has been trying to build a flying car for about 50 years; this is the fifth-generation flying car Moller has built. Investors have put in more than $100 million in his test projects over the years.
  • Lilium Jet, from German startup Lilium Aviation, is the world’s first all-electric vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) plane, according to the company. The price has yet to be determined and will seat two people. It has a range of 300 miles and a maximum speed of 250 mpg. The company says it will be easy to fly with software doing much of the work. Lilium Aviation has received funding form the European Union.
  • Joby Aviation says that customers will be able to call over its Joby flying car similar to getting an Uber ride. The all-electric plane, which seats two, will have a 100-to-200 mile range after being charged. The company expects to begin flying prototypes by this year’s end. It’s being built at a 500-acre compound in Santa Cruz, Calif. Future flying cars will seat four and look more like airplanes with six propellers positioned around the aircraft.

This Week’s Top 10: Tesla Model X has a big month in sales, BMW shifting from electric to autonomous

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. Tesla Model XMay EV and hybrid sales: The Tesla Model X has seen a huge sales increase – up a third from the previous month. Consumer Reports did feature a critical review in print and video, focused mainly on concerns with the falcon doors and too many bells and whistles versus practical features. That was released last week, so we’ll have to check on June sales to see if it’s having an impact. The Model S is seeing some decline in sales month-over-month and year-over-year. The Ford Fusion Energi is doing well in sales, and is getting closer to the Fusion Hybrid in overall sales numbers. The Ford C-Max Energi continues to soften in sales. Overall battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle sales were flat from April, and were up 5.5% over May 2015. Hybrid sales as a share of total U.S. new vehicle sales increased slightly – up to 2% of the total share after it had been hovering below the 2% mark for several months. Since it was debuted in January 2015, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid has become a hot seller. Now at No. 2 in the rankings, it came in at No. 9 during the month of December 2015 with 1,430 units sold that month. The hybrid version was debuted a few months after Toyota halted production of the low-selling all-electric RAV4.
  2. BMW switching to autonomous cars: BMW announced that it’s slowing down in its EV development and wouldn’t be developing another fully-electric i model until 2021. BMW is moving over to development of autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence. While being a “fantastic car,” the BMW i3 isn’t as popular as BMW had hoped, so the automaker is switching some of its focus over to self-driving vehicles – which is becoming the next “technological race,” according to the BMW blog.
  3. Building EV market: The 29th International Electric Vehicle Symposium (EVS29) & Exposition has announced new forums dedicated to market building discussion. The Market Builders’ Forums will gather public and private industry innovators to discuss their strategies for growing the electric drive market and will include an opportunity for audience Q&A. Forum 1 will be moderated by Robert Graham, Director, EV Everywhere Challenge for the U.S. Dept. of Energy; panelists will include Britta Gross, Director, Adv. Vehicle Commercialization Policy at General Motors; Robert Langford, Manager, Electric Vehicle Sales at American Honda Motor Company; Brendan Jones, Vice President, East Region at NRG EVgo; and Laura Renger, Principal Manager, Air & Climate at Southern California Edison. Forum 2 will be moderated by Lisa Jerram, Senior Research Analyst at Navigant Consulting; panelists will include Aaron Cohen, General Manager, Electric Vehicle Strategy at Audi of America; Colleen Quinn, Vice President, Gov’t Market Development and Public Policy at ChargePoint; Marco Vivivani, Director, Development and Public Relations at Communauto; and CC Chan, Professor, Academician, Fellow at University of Hong Kong, EVAAP, WEVA and others. Register now and gain access to the entire electric drive value chain under one roof.
  4. Uber, Lyft, and Walmart: Ridesharing firms Uber and Lyft are adding to their list of services by working with Walmart for grocery shopping and delivery. Walmart will start with delivery tests through Uber in Phoenix and Lyft in Denver, which should start within the next two weeks. Walmart is testing another grocery service through its Sam’s Club stores. The pilot project started in March with delivery of general merchandise and grocery for business members in Miami.
  5. DOE funding: The S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) announced that $22 million is now available to support research, development, and demonstration of innovative plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) and direct injection propane engine technologies; as well as community-based projects to accelerate the adoption of light, medium, and heavy duty vehicles that operate on fuels such as biodiesel, electricity, E85, hydrogen, natural gas, and propane.
  6. EV charging in San Diego: San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) is supporting development of the electric vehicle charging infrastructure through a $45 million pilot program for the installation of electric-car charging stations; and through investing $7.5 million over the next five years in an education campaign to promote electric cars. The project will include installation of 3,500 charging stations at 350 locations, including businesses and apartment complexes. Of that total, 10% will be installed in disadvantaged communities, SDG&E said.
  7. Winner of EcoCAR3: Ohio State University has won EcoCAR3 once again. Along with winning the latest round, OSU won EcoCAR3 last year and won the final EcoCAR2 the previous year. OSU’s Series Parallel PHEV 2016 Chevrolet Camaro was the first to officially meet all safety protocols. The team of students achieved the goals in just a few short months after receiving the car, to winning the competition. Sixteen university teams each reworked a 2016 Camaro for the competition. EcoCAR3, run by the U.S. Department of Energy and sponsored by General Motors, works to further the reality of the vision and development of eco-friendly vehicles while maintaining power and performance.
  8. Santa Monica buses running on RNG: Clean Energy Fuels Corp. announced that the City of Santa Monica has awarded Clean Energy a multiyear liquefied natural gas (LNG) contract to fuel its Big Blue Bus (BBB) fleet of vehicles. The 5-year deal, worth an estimated $3 million per year, will enable BBB to continue using Clean Energy’s Redeem™ brand of renewable natural gas (RNG), rated up to 90% cleaner than diesel and considered the cleanest transportation fuel available. BBB began using Redeem by Clean Energy in January 2015.
  9. VW settlement in Germany: Germany’s motor vehicle authority KBA on June 3 approved proposed fixes for the three models with 2.0-liter diesel engines from the EA 189 diesel engine family, VW said. The automaker received regulatory approval for technical fixes to its Passat, CC, and Eos models. VW can now recall more than 800,000 of the 8.5 million cars in Europe affected by its emissions scandal.
  10. Smart city mobility: Navigant Research is presenting a webinar on June 14 at 2:00 p.m. EDT, “Changing Models for Urban Mobility – Examining New Transportation Options in the Smart City.” Vehicles are becoming more connected and autonomous, and more reliant on digital technologies. Electric vehicles are also becoming more widely available and affordable. At the same time, governments are pushing for increasing emissions reductions and cities are increasingly regulating private car usage. All these factors will work together to change how people move around in the smart city. In this webinar, Lisa Jerram, principal research analyst at Navigant Research, Eric Woods, research director at Navigant Research, and David Alexander, senior research analyst at Navigant Research, will discuss the dynamics surrounding this shift in transportation strategy.

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The state of clean advanced vehicle technologies on World Environment Day 2016

World Environment Day 2016, a global outreach campaign organized by United Nations, celebrated its 42nd anniversary on June 5. It’s a global platform for raising awareness and taking action on what it considers to be increasingly urgent issues. About 25% of the world’s CO2 emissions are tied to transportation globally, according to the International Energy Agency; and about 30% in the U.S., according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Here are the latest developments on clean, advanced vehicles around the world.

Proterra electric busUS-China electric bus competition: On Friday in Los Angeles, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and Chinese Minister of Transport Yang Chuantang signed an agreement officially announcing the US-China “Race to Zero Emissions.” One city from each of the two countries will be competing to determine which one will deploy the highest percentage of emission free buses by 2025.  The race is designed to improve air quality in urban areas and prevent climate change. For each of the cities entering the competition, the minimum size of the fleet must be 200 or more buses. Two smaller transit properties can form a team and compete in the race if their combined fleet size is 200 buses or more. Potential participants can learn more at “This challenge will hasten the development of new and emerging technologies that will move us away from fossil fuels and race us closer to our ultimate goal of zero emissions, while creating good jobs and economic growth in both the United States and China,” said Secretary Foxx.

In large part inspired by the successful federal “Race to the Top” education program in the U.S., CALSTART developed the Race to Zero concept in 2014. In June 2015, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the Race to Zero had been endorsed in concept by the U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group. A five-year federal transportation bill came through in December dedicating $55 million annually for the purchase of zero or near-zero emission buses; and the Chinese government has made attractive incentives available through the national government and many of the larger cities.

CALSTART is working under contract with the U.S. DOT to support the Race to Zero Emissions. Entrants in the competition will be able to take part in annual meetings and able to learn about the latest developments in electric bus and charging technology in both the United States and China. “CALSTART is eager to begin working with cities and transit properties that not only want to take full advantage of the advances in zero emission bus technology, but also wanted to become part of a larger global effort to prevent climate change,” said CALSTART President and CEO, John Boesel.

Mahindra launches 2nd EV: In commemoration of World Environment Day, Mahindra Electric launched the e-Verito, its second all-electric car in the country; it’s another step in the Indian automaker’s efforts to offer the most affordable electric vehicles in the world. The e-Verito’s base price starts at 950,000 rupees (about $14,225). Mahindra is already selling the e2o electric hatchback in India. The e-Verito will come with a 72V 3-phase AC induction motor producing maximum gross power of 41 hp @3500 rpm and maximum torque of 91 Nm @3000 rpm, mated to an automatic transmission. It can be quick charged in two hours through fast charging at the top-end option and price for the e-Verito.

The Mahindra e-Verito and e20 are tied to the discontinued Reva, with the e20’s exterior styling very similar to the Reva. The Mahindra e20 may be the most affordable electric car in the world with a starting price of 592,000 rupees (about $8,865). The e20 can travel 120 kilometers (74.5 miles) on a single charge.

Norway may ban fossil fuels: Norway’s political system may soon adopt the world’s fastest fossil fuel ban. Politicians from both sides of the political spectrum have reportedly reached some concrete conclusions about 100% of Norwegian new vehicles sold running on clean fuel by 2025. Norway may ban the sale of all fossil fuel-based cars by that year, continuing its trend towards becoming one of the most ecologically progressive countries on the planet, according to reports.

There has been some denial from opponents of the measure that the move has been confirmed. If passed, it would be particularly significant because a large proportion of Norway’s funds rely on the country’s petroleum industry. The government has offered attractive incentives for electric vehicle purchases in the country. That helped the nation experience the highest percentage of EV sales ever recorded – with EVs making up 23% of new vehicle sales in the country last year.

South Korea emissions tests and green car sales: The South Korean government will be enacting real-world emissions tests of diesel vehicles in 2017, and unveiled ambitious new targets for environmentally-friendly vehicle sales. South Korea’s cities have become choked by smog, similar to what China has been seeing. The South Korean government wants to bring air quality up to western European levels within a decade. The government would like to raise its green vehicle target to 30% of new vehicles sales by 2020 – up from 2.6 percent currently. The government also promised to support growth in plug-in electrified vehicle sales by increasing new charging stations to 10 times their current level.

Israel base for advanced vehicle technologies: While Israel had been the home to the now-defunct Better Place electric vehicle battery-swapping company, that company’s presence and other local innovators have brought investors to the country. Mobileye, a technology company that develops vision-based advanced driver assistance systems providing warnings for collision prevention and mitigation, has been gaining attention globally and seems to symbolize advance technology innovations in the country. Waze, the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation mobile app, started up in Israel before being acquired by Google for over $1 billion. Analysts say these two companies were part of a big wave of auto sector startups. Better Place is considered to have served as an “incubator” in Israel for talented developers and professionals who later moved on to new startups or established vehicle technology companies. Israel has been a vital space for General Motors, which a few years ago invested in an R&D center there. The technologies developed in Israel, including those developed in the Global Connected Consumer project led by the Israeli R&D division, will be integrated into millions of GM vehicles worldwide in the coming years.