Tesla and BMW sidestepping tariff war with China, Formula E will see more powerful electric racers

Tesla and BMW making deals in China:  Tesla and BMW are preparing to avert some of the steep tariff increases coming out of the trade war between the U.S. and China. Tesla is closing a deal on its second vehicle manufarutinrg plant, in Beijing, in which the U.S. electric carmaker will own 100% of the plant. BMW, which has been in Chinese joint ventures for years, will become the first foreign automaker to own a majority share of a Chinese automobile venture. The trade war continues to escalate, with China on Wednesday vowing to add another $200 billion in U.S. tariffs in retaliation to President Trump’s moves. Tesla CEO Elon Musk made the deal on Tuesday for the Shanghai plant, which the company said will double its vehicle manufacturing capacity. The plant could cost $1 billion to built, and construction will start early next year. Tesla could be the first of many companies setting up shop in one of China’s free-trade zone that sidesteps its typical requirement for joint-ventures with Chinese companies. Beyond expanding the BMW Brilliance Automotive partnership, BMW inked a deal with Great Wall Motor to produce Mini electric vehicles through a new 50:50 joint venture, Spotlight Automotive Limited, which will be dedicated to developing and producing EVs in China.

Looking at the Big Picture:  Green Auto Market’s take on developments impacting the auto industry, global economy, and clean transportation.

Formula E will see more powerful electric racers:  The FIA Formula E racing series will be seeing stronger batteries in its next season ready to power sleek, open-cockpit race cars. These new vehicles, bearing a resemblance to the Batmobile, will be able to hold up to 250 kilowatts of power (about 335 horsepower) and reach speeds of 174 miles per hour. Owners of the electric racers will no longer have to swap cars during the race. The current season is ending in Brooklyn this weekend. The new technology will bring the electric racers up to where they’ve needed to go since Formula E’s inception. “That’s a big, big step,” said Nico Rosberg, a retired Formula 1 driver who’s now an investor in Formula E. “Battery performance is finally at a necessary level.”

Trucking seeing costs spike:  The cargo hauling trucking industry will see increased costs due to a shortage of drivers, new regulations, and strong demand. Inflation is expected to come from America’s vital cargo hauling sector, which is integral to economic growth. Truckmakers are testing out autonomous commercial trucks and platooning, but truck operators won’t be seeing those come to market anytime soon. New government regulations have been targeted at making roads safer while limiting hours on the road for truckers. Rising diesel prices are impacting truck operator profits, but costs are rising overall. The cost of a full truckload has soared this year, according to Cass Information Systems’ measure of per-mile rates. These costs, excluding fuel, leaped 9% in May from a year earlier.

Tesla losing tax credits:  Soon after hitting its 5,000 Model 3s produced per week target, Tesla will see its federal $7,500 tax credits come to an end after passing the 200,000 electric vehicles sold mark. It will be at $7,500 for the rest of this quarter and the following quarter (through the end of 2018), and then will drop to $3,750 for six months. From there, the federal tax credit is cut in half to $1,875 for another six months and then will disappear. The expected tax cut may be one of the reasons that Tesla upped deliveries to Canadian customers in June.

Details coming out on VW settlement funds, Implications of trade war on the auto industry

VW settlement funds:  Volkswagen Group’s $30.4 billion “Dieselgate” U.S. settlement is taking shape, including nearly $3 billion going out to states through the Environmental Mitigation Trust. California leads the list, so far securing $422.6 million going toward zero-emission heavy-duty trucks, buses, and charging stations. Texas was second, at $209.3 million, Florida third at $166.3 million, New York fourth at $127.7 million, and Pennsylvania in fifth place at $118.6 million. The next five on the list were Washington state at $112.7 million, Illinois at $108.7 million, Virginia at $93.6 million, North Carolina at $92 million, and Maryland at $75.7 million. School buses are a priority for several states that have received funds. More than 10 states have finalized their plans, according to the Sierra Club. State officials are deciding how the money will be spent meeting guidelines under the settlement. The funding must go towards reducing nitrogen oxides (NoX), a major component of air pollution. Only 15% can go toward the electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The settlement funds are being divvied up based on how many Volkswagen diesel cars with emission-cheating software were registered within each state.

Looking at the Big Picture:  Green Auto Market’s take on developments impacting the auto industry, global economy, and clean transportation.

Implications of trade war on auto industry:  President Trump has placed tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese imports, including auto parts. China, in retaliation, hiked tariffs on U.S. light-duty vehicles imports to 40% from 15%. The trade war has been building for months now, with automakers working hard to ship more vehicles to the U.S. to pre-empt the higher tariffs being slapped on. The ports of Baltimore, Jacksonville, Fla.; and Brunswick, Ga. — the three leading U.S. ports for importing automobiles — in May shipped out a combined 23,000 more cars than they did a year earlier. The port of Long Beach, Calif., saw imports rise 3.4% in May and exports drop 24%. Auto executives and analysts have been reminding the Trump administration that vehicles built in the U.S. are packed with foreign import parts. The cost will be extreme — tariffs that will be placed in imported parts could cost $35 billion along with a whopping $48 billion on tariffs for imported cars assembled outside the U.S., according to the American Automotive Policy Council, a lobbying group that represents the three Detroit automakers. The trade war between the U.S. and China will also have implications for electric vehicle sales, with Tesla particularly vulnerable through building its EVs in the U.S. and exporting to China.

Big oil vs. utilities:  Oil companies and utilities are wondering which of the two economic sectors will dominate the booming electric vehicle charging infrastructure around the world. BP and Shell have charging company acquisitions in the works, with Europe being a key market for EV infrastructure growth. Utilities are preparing to meet the surging demand for electric power for high-volume EV sales in the next decade and beyond. BP will be investing about $170 million to acquire EV charging company, Chargemaster. The major oil company plans to add charging stations to its network of retail fueling stations. Sweden’s Vattenfall and Finland’s Fortum Oyj utilities are currently installing chargers at homes and at workplaces; and the U.S. is seeing utilities playing a major role in building the charging infrastructure.

BYD working with Changan:  BYD has forged a strategic cooperation agreement with Changan Automobile to jointly manufacture batteries for electric vehicles. A new joint venture company has been set up in the city Chongqing in central China. Both companies plan for the total battery production capacity of 10 GWh to be staggered over two phases, with the first stage estimated to amount to 5-6GWh and the second stage 4-5GWh. “This strategic agreement marks a significant milestone in the way BYD conducts its supply and marketing. Today’s announcement has implications for the company’s battery business and the long term development of the entire organization,” said BYD President and Chairman Wang Chuanfu.

Pruitt leaving administration:  Controversial EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is stepping down, President Trump announced yesterday afternoon. The former Oklahoma attorney general, who had led multiple state lawsuits against the EPA, has been at the center of several ethics charges in recent months, describing them as “unrelenting attacks” in his resignation yesterday. Pruitt had plans to roll back the corporate average fuel economy standards and had heavily cut back on several agency measures that had been enacted by the Obama administration and other previous presidents.