Joint ventures no longer mandatory in China: China will be making a huge change for automakers who want to build electric cars locally – setting up their own shops without having to forge a joint venture with a Chinese automaker. That will lower costs for companies like Tesla that have to pay steep tariffs to import their cars into China, and which choose to run their own factories similar to how they do it overseas. Foreign automakers will be able to go into free-trade zones to establish their factories. The country has 12 free-trade zones in Shanghai, Fujian, Guangdong, and Zhejiang. China will “actively implement the opening up of the new-energy manufacturing sector to foreigners, together with other departments under the direction of the State Council,” the nation’s Ministry of Commerce told Bloomberg. Other carmakers like General Motors, Ford, and Volkswagen, are tapping into JVs with Chinese makers to set up EV manufacturing subsidiaries.
LeEco using Faraday Future patents: Parent company LeEco used some of Faraday Future’s electric vehicle design in LeEco’s LeSee electric car, according to patents filed with the U.S. government. A Faraday Future representative confirmed that two of its patents are being used in the development of LeEco’s electric car. The look and design will be used across the FF and LeSee brands. One patent will be used for the look of the exterior design and the other is for the steering wheel. The two companies have been quiet about their working relationship as parent company LeEco has gone through the wringer financially, including a failed $2 billion acquisition of Vizio. In July, FF walked away from its planned $1 billion factory in Nevada. The company has leased an existing factory in Hanford, Calif., as it seeks new investment funds.
AeroVironment working with BMW and Mini: AeroVironment has been selected as the North American provider of BMW and Mini-branded TurboCord accessory electric vehicle chargers. The dual-voltage charger features a small and lightweight design with a convenient 20 ft. charging cord. That brings 120-volt and 240-volt charging to BMW and Mini electric cars. The TurboCord charger can be purchased with the EV at all North American BMW and Mini dealerships and online. It also integrates state-of-the-art safety features such as unit and plug temperature monitoring, automatic shut-off and a rugged, being waterproof, and submersible enclosure (NEMA 6p) that enables users to safely and reliably charge anywhere indoor and outdoor.
BMW electric launches in Frankfurt: BMW will be showing the giant, three-row SUV, BMW Concept X7 iPerformance just ahead of of the Frankfurt auto show. It will be available as a plug-in hybrid that’s expected to be competitive in the luxury utility segment. Photos went out unexpectedly ahead of time. Production will launch in 2018. BMW executives have said the X7 will go on sale in the U.S. market in early 2019. There’s also an i-Series model, that could be the long-anticipated i5 sedan, that will be revealed next week. It will be one of 12 all-electric vehicles launched by 2025, bringing the total to 25 electrified vehicles offered, BMW’s CEO said.
Maven taking off: Julia Steyn, vice president-Urban Mobility and Maven at General Motors, says that Maven is booming with its consumer base and revenue growing tenfold each month. Its fleet is scheduled to have 1,000 Chevrolet Bolts as GM meets Maven’s orders in the coming months. The 136 Bolts put into service over the first half of the year have logged 1.85 million miles so far. Its Maven Gig program people looking to make money providing rides through Uber or Lyft, or Grubhub food takeout deliveries, or Instacart grocery shopping and delivery.
AltCar Expo panels: Just as a reminder, there’s a great conference coming up next week – AltCar Expo & Conference will be on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 15-16 in Santa Monica. Here are titles of the workshops and events for Friday:
- Building the Foundation for a Sustainable Fleet
- Fleets Tapping into Local Resources for Clean Vehicles & Fuels
- AltCar Award Presentation
- NAFA Awards & Scholarships
- The Role Car Companies Will Play in Ever-Shifting Landscape of Future Mobility
- The Latest on MUD and Workplace Charging Projects and Progress
And don’t forget to look at Saturday’s speaker panel and hours open for the ride and drive. I’ll be moderating the second fleet panel on Friday morning – looking forward to seeing you there.
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.