This Week’s Top 10: Tesla releases Q4 financials, the latest on former Propel Fuels CEO Matt Horton and other highlights from Green Auto Market – Extended Edition

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. Elon Musk talking to crowdTesla Motors Q4 financial reporting showed sales growth and profit loss. Tesla Motors’ financial performance during 2014 hit both ends of the spectrum. Revenue soared 59% to $3.2 billion for the year while Tesla’s net loss increased to $294 versus a loss of $74 million in 2013. Fourth quarter revenue hit $957 million, up from $615 million from the fourth quarter of 2013. Using Tesla’s preferred non-GAAP accounting method, revenue rose 44% to $1.1 billion. Net losses widened to $108 million in the fourth quarter from $16 million. The company did meet its goal of producing 35,000 vehicles for the year, but did not meet its Model S P85D delivery target. Severe winter weather and shipping problems reduced its number – 1,400 vehicles shipped in December didn’t arrive until the next quarter. There had already been growing concerns about Tesla’s delivery problems based on the brand’s slower-than-expected launch in China, with the company last month confirming demand there was “unexpectedly weak.” Tesla said it ran into concern from potential buyers in China about the lack of charging infrastructure in the country. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has expressed frustration that problems in China have raised with investors, saying that the issue “is being blown way out of proportion.” The company has approached the final stages of development for its Model X crossover. Tesla expects to ship 55,000 Model S and X units in 2015, yielding more than a 70% year-over-year increase in deliveries. Forty percent of the deliveries are expected to take place in the first half of the year. Tesla entered 2015 with over 10,000 Model S orders and nearly 20,000 Model X reservations.
  2. This Month in Green Auto Market – Extended Edition: Former biofuels industry leader and Propel Fuels CEO Matt Horton takes on a new role with an electric vehicle manufacturer………. What the new Ford Interceptor Utility means for police departments – and what law enforcement thinks about alternative fuel vehicles………. Monthly figures for hybrid and plug-in sales, alternative fueling stations, and fuel prices……… All this and more for those interested in subscribing to the monthly edition of this newsletter.
  3. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has awarded 10 projects teams to deploy 55 low and zero emission fuel cell, battery electric, and electric hybrid buses across the US; 38 of them will be electric or fuel-cell powered. CALSTART will be working with three transit agencies to purchase and deploy 15 of these vehicles: Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA) will receive $8,877,405 for five hydrogen fuel cell buses from the Integrated Product Team of Ballard Power Systems, BAE Systems, and ElDorado National; SunLine Transit Agency will receive $9,803,860 to build and deploy five hydrogen electric hybrid fuel cell buses. BAE Systems, Ballard Power Systems and ElDorado National will team up to build the new zero-emission buses; and San Joaquin Regional Transit District (RTD) will receive $4,702,011 and purchase five Proterra battery-electric buses and a charging station. You can read all about it at the FTA site.
  4. Canadian company Ballard Power Systems has entered into an $80 million “technology solutions” transaction with Volkswagen that involves transfer of automotive fuel cell intellectual property and a two-year extension of an engineering services contract. Audi will acquire a package of patents from the fuel-cell company that will be applied across all VW Group brands. Along with cars, Ballard produces cells for use in forklifts, buses, and stationary used in distributed power generation.
  5. Solar-powered electric car Stella has won the TechCrunch award for biggest technology achievements during the 8th annual “Crunchies Awards.” Stella was up against an impressive list of contenders — Apple Pay, The Block Chain (Bitcoin), Rosetta Mission’s Comet Landing, and SpaceX Lateral Booster. Stella, created by Solar Team Eindhoven from the Eindhoven (Netherlands) University of Technology, has been widely recognized and is gaining support. Partners include National Drive Electric Week, Plug In America, and the Coast to Coast EV Connection project. Stella’s car uses a roof-mounted solar panel that can provide enough power to move the car 500 miles on a full charge of the battery.
  6. Agility Fuel Systems, a leading designer and producer of natural gas fuel storage and delivery systems for heavy duty trucks and buses, and Clean Energy Fuels announced a joint CNG fuel system sales program to reduce the incremental cost of heavy-duty natural gas trucks. Agility and Clean Energy will work with trucking customers and offer CNG fuel systems installed at a substantially reduced cost when there is a natural gas fueling agreement. Last year during ACT Expo 2014, Agility announced a joint venture with Hexagon Lincoln to manufacture both a new type of lightweight Type IV CNG fuel cylinder, and the assemblies needed to mount them on heavy duty vehicles.
  7. Volkswagen of America says it will invest $10 million to support electric vehicle infrastructure by 2016. During a presentation at the 2015 Electric Drive Congress in Washington, DC, Volkswagen’s Jörg Sommer, vice president, product marketing and strategy, made the announcement during a presentation about the automaker’s approach to e-mobility surrounding the launch of the electric 2015 e-Golf. The automaker would like to see federal financing support for setting up fast-charging networks in urban areas and interstate corridors.
  8. Technical support for those repairing hybrids and EVs. I-CAR®,the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair, launched the Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Disable Search on the I-CAR Repairability Technical Support (RTS) Portal to build a robust, centralized hub of valuable industry information to give collision repair professionals the answers they need as quickly as possible. Users can find information on how to identify where parts of the hybrid or electric system are located, how to disable the system before beginning a repair, welding best practices, and refinish precautions.
  9. UK testing autonomous vehicles. The United Kingdom government has launched a test program for autonomous vehicles in four cities across the country. No major automakers appear to be involved in the test program, and the projects include smaller vehicles such as a pod-like microcar and another test model that looks like an oversize golf cart. The project has the equivalent of about $30 million in government funding.
  10. Higher mileage Chevy Volt. Automotive News analyzed what’s behind General Motors increasing the battery-only range on a single charge of the 2016 Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid from 38 miles to 50 miles. Some of that improved fuel efficiency comes from reducing its weight 243 pounds from the prior model. Subscribers have access to a chart with popups explaining where those gains were made in the battery pack, engine, and electric transaxle.

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