Waymo and Cruise Allowed to Operate Autonomous Vehicles in San Francisco, Top Selling Global EVs

On August 10, Waymo and Cruise were approved to operate their paid robotaxi services 24/7 in San Francisco. That decision was made by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in a 3-to-1 vote. Members of the public were able to participate in a six-hour public hearing where they voiced their support and opposition to the autonomous vehicles (AVs). That followed several years, and tens of billions of dollars, with several companies investing heavily in developing and testing AVs — with very little hope until this vote passed through.

Waymo, owned by Alphabet, Inc., and Cruise LLC, owned by General Motors, are being allowed to operate their vehicles at any hour of the day throughout the city of San Francisco while charging for the rides. The commissioners urged the companies to address problems and concerns that were raised by San Francisco officials and residents. These issues included AVs blocking roads, causing traffic jams, and getting in the way of emergency vehicles. Commissioner Darcie Houck said that the comments were being taken very seriously in their decision. If further reports came of incidents, the CPUC could vote to limit the number of vehicles allowed on the roads, or companies’ permits could be revoked altogether.

Waymo operates Waymo One with 24/7 across 225 square miles of the Metro Phoenix area. Waymo One takes passengers from downtown Phoenix, to Scottsdale, to the East Valley, the company says. Riders can download the Waymo One app and take a ride in an all-electric Jaguar I-PACE, with no human behind the steering wheel.
Way One service started in December 2018.

The World’s Top Selling Plug-in Cars — 1st Half 2023
1. Tesla Model Y — 579,552
2. Tesla Model 3 — 279,320
3. BYD Song (BEV + PHEV) — 259,723
4. BYD Qin Plus (BEV + PHEV) — 204,259
5. BYD Yuan Plus EV (Atto 3) — 201,505
6. BYD Dolphin — 158,512
7. Wuling Hong Guang MINI EV — 122,052
8. GAC Aion S — 115,606
9. BYD Han (BEV + PHEV) — 96,437
10. GAC Aion Y — 92,034

In March, AAA published results from its annual AV survey. While survey respondents are open to partially-automated vehicle technology. They’re more apprehensive about fully self-driving vehicles. This year’s study found a major increase in drivers who are afraid, rising to 68% as compared to 55% in 2022. While automakers and their partners have made advancements in AV technologies, improvements will still need to be Mae to build public trust and knowledge about the technology, AAA said.

Source: InsideEVs

While the Tesla Model Y crossover SUV and the Tesla Model 3 small sedan are well known in the US market, here’s a look at the other top-selling electric vehicles in the global market — with Chinese maker BYD playing a major leading role………..

  • The BYD Song (a Chinese name, after the Song dynasty) is a series of compact crossover SUV developed by BYD Auto. 
  • The BYD Qin (pronounced “Chin”) is a compact sedan, available as an all-electric car, as a plug-in hybrid, and as an internal combustion engine vehicle.
  • The BYD Yuan is a subcompact crossover SUV, slotting below the BYD Song compact crossover. It is part of BYD’s “Dynasty Series” of production vehicles, and is named after the Yuan dynasty. It’s selling as the BYD ATTO 3 in Europe.
  • The BYD Dolphin is a battery electric hatchback produced by the Chinese manufacturer since 2021. A subcompact (B-segment) hatchback in its home country, the Dolphin is positioned above the Seagull in the Chinese market and part of BYD’s ‘Ocean Series’. It’s been exported to overseas market such as Europe, Australia, and Thailand since 2023 with lengthened dimensions to satisfy more stringent crash safety standards, and placing it in the compact or C-segment space.
  • The Wuling Hong Guang MINI EV is very cheap to buy — about $5,000 new. It’s not available outside of China, and its inspired competitive automakers to make similar models. It will be coming out in a cabriolet and a long-range version.
  • The Aion S is a compact electric sedan produced by Aion, a marque of GAC Group. It was unveiled at Auto Guangzhou of 2018. A new version, the Aion S Plus, was shown in 2021.
  • The BYD Han is a full-size/executive sedan manufactured by the Chinese automaker, available in an all-electric variant and a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) variant. It is the latest entry of BYD’s “Dynasty” series passenger vehicles, and gets its name from the Han Dynasty, which is considered to be the first golden age of Imperial China. 
  • The Aion Y is a compact electric crossover SUV produced by Aion, another model from GAC Group, since 2021. It was revealed as a concept at Auto Guangzhou in November 2020.

And in other news………..

Ford’s Farley on EVs: Ford CEO Jim Farley said the company is cutting back on its initial goal of building electric vehicles at a rate of 600,000 per year by the end of 2023. That will be moved into next year. A goal of 2 million by 2026 was delayed without an extension date provided yet, if at all. Ford is losing money on each EV it sells; but the plans are still there overall he said. The company’s plant in Cologne, Germany is ideal for launched the electric Explorer, he said. Another challenge has been delaying vehicle production to investigate thermal propagation, which build in countermeasures around fire. They needed a six-month delay “to get the engineering right,” Farley told NPR.

Nikola recall: Nikola is recalling all the 209 battery-powered electric trucks that had been delivered to customers due to an investigation into recent fires that found a coolant leak inside a battery pack as the cause. The electric and hydrogen-powered heavy-duty truckmaker is contacting all parties about it, the company said. The preliminary findings came from a third-party investigator looking into a “minor thermal incident” on one pack on a parked engineering-validation truck, the company said, adding that no one was injured.

Tesla settling with SEC over fraud lawsuit, EDTA reports two thirds spike in plug-in sales

Tesla settling SEC fraud suit:  Tesla Inc. may see the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s securities fraud lawsuit settled through a joint filing Wednesday to the federal judge overseeing the case. The settlement means that CEO Elon Musk will be stepping down as chairman for three years, and that two new independent directors will be appointed to the board. Musk will be paying $20 million, and Tesla will pay another $20 million, in fines distributed to harmed investors. Musk’s insulting tweet last week on Thursday, mentioning that the SEC is changing its name to “Shortseller Enrichment Commission.”

While outgoing Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. CEO James Murdoch has been said to likely be appointed the next chairman, Musk tweeted that “This is incorrect.” That comment was directed at a Financial Times report that the son of Fox mogul Rupert Murdoch would be taking one of Musk’s titles. Murdoch joined Tesla’s board last year after years of work with media companies.

EDTA reports spike in plug-in sales:  The number of plug-in vehicles sold from January through September 2018 is a 64% increase over the same period last year in the U.S., according to the Electric Drive Transportation Association’s sales dashboard. EDTA reported that there has been 229,874 total plug-in vehicles sales in 2018, with battery electric vehicles (BEVs) at 144,505 and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) at 85,369 through the end of September. Sales between the two segments were close during the first half of this year, with BEVs taking a leap in the third quarter. During September, BEVs made up 34,046 of the U.S. total and PHEVs made up 10,543 units. EDTA also reported a new look for the dashboard and updates to its research methods.

BYD wins major electric bus deal:  BYD will be helping Vancouver’s largest private bus operator, WESTCOAST Sightseeing, to become a 100% clean-energy fleet by 2023. That deal will consist of 90 electric buses of various types, with the Chinese maker being named the exclusive supplier to WESTCOAST. BYD’s North America manufacturing unit, based in Lancaster, Calif., has taken orders for over 600 electric buses. The company has invested more than $250 million and has delivered 270 of the electric buses so far. BYD is also building electric commercial trucks to serve fleets outside the bus sector.


Will top-selling Chinese electric carmaker BYD plunge into the U.S. market?

BYD logo and carsChina-based plug-in electrified vehicle manufacturer BYD has become the third largest seller of PEVs in the world. The company is following Renault-Nissan and right behind Tesla Motors in cumulative annual global sales through September; at 161,000 sold versus Tesla’s 164,000, BYD could become No. 2.

BYD has now surpassed Mitsubishi as the third largest global seller of PEVs. Mitsubishi has seen most of that sales volume come through its Outlander plug-in hybrid doing well in Europe. During the summer, Mitsubishi announced that the long-delayed launch of the SUV in the U.S. market will be delayed yet again, the fifth time that delay happened since its 2013 Japan-market launch.

BYD is seeing a limited but growing presence in the U.S. through its electric buses and sanitation trucks. But what about selling electric cars in hotspots like California and other U.S. markets with a lot of interest in PEVs?

There have been rumors and analytical speculation about BYD, with its 10% ownership stake from Warren Buffet and Berkshire Hathaway, bringing some of its top-selling electric car models to the U.S. The company dominating the fast-growing Chinese PEV market should be able to grab hold of solid footing in America, right? Even with climate-change doubter Donald Trump taking over the White House, other automakers are counting on U.S. electric car sales to grow quite a bit.

So far, China is winning out. BYD’s top-selling model, the BYD e6 all-electric car, was flat in sales not long ago with 33 units sold in China in 2010. BYD sold 3,118 e6 units in China last month. The company held five of the top 12 spots for PEVs sold in China during October. Competition has been with other Chinese brands, with the Tesla Model S coming at No. 12 that month. Tesla and other automakers with partnerships in China, including General Motors, are rolling out Chinese market versions of cars like the Chevy Bolt to compete in that fast-growing market.

Why China?

Chinese government incentives for new energy vehicles (NEVs).have made that growing market more attractive than the U.S. for BYD. Government subsidies in China can be as high as 90,000 yuan ($13,000) and more consumers are buying in. Chinese automakers are taking the market even more seriously with a wide range of passenger cars, crossovers, and SUV selling to Chinese consumers. Local Chinese automakers make up most of the electric car market and are now seriously investing in research and development, developing better cars with more power and longer range, which is helping sales. This year’s Guangzhou Auto Show, held this month in China, saw the debut of over 30 new energy vehicles.

Starting in 2013, plug-in hybrids such as the BYD Qin and Tang, were top sellers for the company. More recently, all-electric models have taken the lead, with the e6 and newcomer models e5 and Qin EV300 doing very well. Increasing battery capacity and range for all-electric models has helped sales increase. BYD has also done well selling to both consumers and fleets in the Chinese market, as both customer segments show more interest in plug-in models overall and more confidence in all-electric models and China’s charging infrastructure.

BYD America

Incentives have been stronger in China for BYD. Earlier this year, BYD America Vice President Michael Austin said that the $7,500 tax credit provided by the U.S. federal government is insufficient if there isn’t support from the federal and local governments in the form of more charging infrastructure. Austin said that about 80 BYD e6 electric cars have been imported to the US, with about 50 of those brought to New York for taxi and ride-hailing purposes.

“Right now, we really don’t have parts and distribution or consumer warranty service, and we don’t have a dealer network,” said Austin to Autoblog. “It’s easier to service fleets.”

BYD America has been visible at events in the U.S. such as ACT Expo with its electric bus models, which lead the North American market in electric bus sales. Other commercial vehicles are coming up. BYD America operates a manufacturing assembly plant in Lancaster, Calif.

This month, BYD America launched the industry’s first all-electric, long-range electric garbage truck. The refuse truck was a project jointly developed with Wayne Engineering, an Iowa-based refuse truck equipment maker.

There has been concern that Trump, with his doubts about climate change and the EPA, and support for fossil fuels, could alter national environmental and fuel-efficiency policies. Is the electric garbage truck a dying cause? Probably not, according to industry insiders.

“No one has a crystal ball, but there are some business case and regional and global market trends that make us believe that electric truck development and targeted deployment will continue,” Bill Van Amburg, senior vice president and trucking programs director at Calstart, told Trucks.com.

The trend toward greater electrification is meeting customer demands for efficiency and operational improvements and is not tied to U.S. energy policy, wherever that may end up going, he said.

That perspective, for now, seems to be shared by automotive executives interviewed about the post-Trump election impact on U.S. auto sales. Ambitious goals of launching several new PEV models in the U.S., Europe, and other markets, still seem to be in place for Volkswagen, Daimler, BMW, GM, Tesla, and a few others.

While selling more electric cars in the U.S. appears to be on hold now for BYD, expanding beyond China is not off the company’s strategic planning. Korea is one of those markets

Last week, BYD completed registration of its office in Korea and secured a dealership to sell its cars. Tesla is also set to open a store soon, in the city of Hanam.

Plug-in Electric Vehicle Sales Growth – from U.S. to China

BYD logo and carsThere continues to be a symbiotic relationship between the U.S. and China in plug-in electric vehicle manufacturing, sales, and technology development. Government subsidies are helping bring sales up, as are introductions of new models that are gaining more interest from consumers in both China and the U.S. More EVs are coming in the near future, and in more type classes, including a minivan and crossover SUVs in the U.S. market and diverse offerings in China. The Beijing Motor Show in April and May showed off an intriguing lineup of new EVs rolling out from BYD, Changjiang, Dongfeng, Brilliance, Beijing Auto, Changfeng, JAC, and others. The symbiotic relationship comes from alliances between global automakers and Chinese companies for EVs to be sold in China and eventually in other markets; and between the Chinese and American governments pushing for clean technologies and emissions reductions. There’s also a list of manufacturers and suppliers based in the U.S. that are building electric cars and technologies that will be shipped overseas and sold in China.

EV sales in China and the U.S.: China is number one in global EV sales, with the U.S. following and Europe seeing growth as a region. Deliveries of “new-energy vehicles” surged in China by 126% to 86,374 units in the five months through May, according to China Passenger Car Association. BYD Co.’s Tang SUV was the best seller in the plug-in hybrid category, while BAIC Motor Corp.’s BAIC E series was top-selling electric vehicle in the January-May period. The Chinese auto market had more than 26,000 new EVs sold in May, a 119% increase over the same month last year, The U.S. saw a very strong EV sales month in June with 7,678 battery electric vehicles and 6,094 plug-in hybrids for a total of 13,772 EVs sold. The previous U.S. record was in December 2015, when 13,274 were sold.

BYD leads the way in China: Altogether, BYD sold a total of 61,722 plug-in electric vehicles last year, with nearly all of them being sold in China. That was more EVs than Tesla, Nissan, or General Motors sold last year individually. BYD only sells plug-in electric vehicles, both battery electric and plug-in hybrid. Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway owns about a 10% stake in the Chinese company. According to year-end figures released by the company, it delivered 31,898 of the newer Qin plug-in hybrids and 18,375 Tang PHEVs, along with 7,029 of the older all-electric e6 battery electric models, during 2015. For the first five months of 2016 (as illustrated in the chart below), the BYD Tang has been the top seller in China at 15,615 units sold. The company also sold 2,888 Denza compact hatchback plug-ins last year, which were built by its joint venture with Daimler.

Top Selling Plug-in Electric Vehicles in China – May 2016

                                                    May 2016        YTD 2016

BYD Tang                                        3,249                 15,615

BYD Qin                                           2,912               7,334

Kandi K11 Panda EV                     2,598               3,127

SAIC Rowe 550 PHEV / e550     2,198               6,382

BAIC E-Series EV                           1,714                8,712

BYD e6                                             1,683               7,579

JMC E100                                       1,300               4,527

Chery EQ                                          1,269              4,384

BYD e5                                              1,172              2,676

JAC i EV 4/5                                    1,076              6,513

Role major Chinese automakers are playing: As mentioned, joint ventures such as Denza are playing a role in EV sales in China. Major Chinese automakers have their share of JVs with global automakers from the U.S., Europe, Japan, and South Korea. They’re contributing to EV sales through these partnerships and are backed by generous government incentives. If you view the Top 10 sales ranking above, you’ll notice that some of the top 10 Chinese automakers in overall vehicles sales are making inroads to EV sales. SAIC was number one in Chinese new vehicle sales last year; BAIC was number five; Chery was number nine, and the company includes the JAC brands in its lineup.

Electric-only brands: Kandi is another electric-only brand in China, along with BYD, seeing strong results in the top selling EVs. The Kandi K11 Panda EV is being manufactured through a joint venture with Chinese automaker Geely. Geely International Corp. was the number 10 selling automaker in Chinese new vehicle sales last year.

Tesla just starting in China: Tesla Motors sold 300 Model S units in May 2016, and 1,811 overall in 2016 through the end of May. It was number 19 on the top 20 plug-in electric vehicles sold in May 2016 in China – compared to No. 1 in U.S. plug-in sales during June 2016. Tesla has been investing heavily in major cities in China with retail stores and Supercharger installations.

U.S.-Based OEMs and Suppliers with Electric Drive Technologies and Chinese Investors: One of the more fascinating trends in the China-U.S. alliance in EV development has been the role that Chinese investors have played in sometimes saving U.S.-based companies. The former Fisker Automotive (now Karma Automotive) is now owned, along with lithium battery maker A123 systems, by major auto parts supplier Wanxiang Group. Here’s a list of these U.S.-based companies in EV technologies that will be interesting to watch in coming years:

  • Faraday Future
  • Karma Automotive
  • A123 Systems
  • Wheego Electric Cars
  • Smith Electric Vehicles
  • Protean Electric
  • GreenTech Automotive
  • BYD (U.S. office) offering electric buses in North America.
  • Zap Jonway

SAIC partners with Disney: Chinese automaker SAIC is providing EVs for hourly rentals to Shanghai Disney Resort customers. SAIC will also provide a fleet of electric vans for shuttle service to the amusement park. SAIC currently operates a car-sharing service with 100 electric cars, as well as 100 electric buses that ferry tourists from nearby train stations, subway stations, and airports to the Disney resort.

Hyundai competing in Chinese market: As part of its initiative to roll out several hybrid, plug-in, and hydrogen fuel cell models, Hyundai Motor Co. says it will be going full-speed ahead in its electrified vehicle rollout to increase range and compete with upstart Chinese rivals. Hyundai has found out how extensive the EV market is becoming in China with foreign OEM alliances and small Chinese startups. Several global automakers are selling EVs in China, and must use electrical drivetrain components developed with a local Chinese supplier. The national rule has made Chinese suppliers more technologically savvy in key items such as motors and electrical control units, according to Hyundai.