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Compact fast-charger combines transformer & charger

Wed, 10/10/2018 - 18:48

Scientists at the North Carolina State University have developed a particularly small and efficient fast charger for electric cars. Their so-called medium voltage fast charger (MVFC) combines a transformer and charger in one for charging with 50 kW and great efficiency.

In fact, the team from North Carolina State claim their compact charger has reached an efficiency of 97.5 percent. This means their medium voltage fast charger disposes over an additional 4.5 percent power, power that goes to waste as heat when using a conventional charger.

Moreover, they claim their charger to be ten times smaller and much lighter than existing chargers today. The MVFC weights just 50 kilos and can be wallmounted whereas conventional 50 kW chargers require a concrete slap to hold the transformer alone. Srdjan Lukic, associate professor of electrical engineering at NC State and one of the developers explains: “The MVFC does the work of both the transformer and the fast charger, taking power directly from a medium-voltage utility line and converting it for use in an electric vehicle battery.” Another reason why the researchers were able to downsize the technology was the use of wide bandgap semiconductor devices.

From here, they started developing a new version of their compact charging device, this time with quicker charging and taking more than one electric vehicle into account. “We’ve had the more powerful, multi-vehicle MVFC in mind for some time, and recently received funding from the Department of Energy to build a next-generation prototype,” says Lukic.

In the multi-port station design, reads a release, a utility line is connected directly to a solid-state transformer (SST), which is a power-electronics-based smart transformer. The SST then feeds a local DC micro-grid, including stationary battery storage systems so that multiple charging points can be served. The multi-port MVFC will have a rating capacity of one megawatt, with each charging node capable of providing up to 350 kW of power, meaning the researchers are aiming for high power charging territory here.

The team is currently looking for industry partners to commercialise their technology.

news.ncsu.edu

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Mercedes opens order books for new S-Class PHEV

Wed, 10/10/2018 - 16:33

The third generation of the prime plug-in hybrid from Mercedes-Benz is due to at dealerships this month and can be ordered from today. Prices for the S 560 e PHEV start at 96,065 euros and include a new 13,5 kWh battery that allows for 50 km of electric driving.

Power for the Mercedes S 560 e PHEV is provided by the V6 gasoline engine with 270kW with the EQ Power drive adding another 90kW for a combined 350 kW. The battery is the actual novel part though, not so much in range (50 km is pretty standard for a plug-in hybrid) but in its make up.

For the first time, Daimler has used a pack made by their subsidiary Accumotive. They used a new cell chemistry with lithium-nickel-manganese-cobalt (Li‑NMC) which makes for a cell capacity of 37 Ah (previously 22 Ah). Despite an increase of around 50% in icapacity, the battery of the new S-Class PHEV is smaller than its predecessor.

With a water-cooled on-board charger with a capacity of 7.4 kW, the battery can be charged from 10 to 100 percent in approx. 1.5 hours at a Wallbox. The same is possible in around five hours at a conventional socket.

The Mercedes S-Class PHEV 560 e is due to arrive before the year’s end.

daimler.com

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Denmark aiming for decarbonisation of transport

Wed, 10/10/2018 - 16:10

The Danish government presented a new climate action plan with 38 measures, among them the previously leaked ban on the sales of all ICEs by 2030 and hybrid cars by 2035. In addition, the Danes will electrify their entire taxi and bus fleet by 2030 and are ready to spend millions.

Denmark’s so-called climate and air plan (klima- og luftudspil) is comprehensive. The electrification of transport includes the installation of charging infrastructure for example and the government agreed to invest 80 million kroner (about 10,724 million euros).

In addition willing buyers will pay no registration fees when buying an electric and hybrid car costing less than 400,000 kroner (€54,000) in 2019 and 2020. The incentive is a reversal of previous politics that had seen the then new centre-right government discontinuing subsidies, thus causing the breakdown of a fledgling market (we reported).

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EU member states toughen CO2 emission stance – a bit

Wed, 10/10/2018 - 15:11

35 percent – this is the value the ministers of the 28 EU member states managed to agree on during their long hours of negotiating limits of carbon dioxide emissions of new cars. The measure will only come into effect by 2030 and still has to pass Parliament.

The EU Parliament had actually taken a tougher stance and proposed 40 percent less CO2 emissions by 2030 compared to 2021 levels last week following a recommendation by the Environmental Committee. Yet, the member states had to resort to a compromise as the mighty Auto nation Germany blocked a more ambitious target with the help of some Eastern European nations. France had followed the EU Parliament’s proposal despite the country’s strong car industry.

Also with regards to the intermediate 2025 targets, the ministers took a step back from the initial 20 percent to now 15 percent. Still, the targets now on the table are tighter than the EU Commission’s initial draft that called for 15 percent by 2025 and 30 percent by 2030 compared to 2021 levels.

In the end, it was the golden mean and forms the basis for negotiations with the European Parliament commencing today.

europa.eu, bloomberg.com

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Battery cell production in Germany hung out to dry

Wed, 10/10/2018 - 14:42

The TerraE consortium that had planned to set up a mega battery cell production in Germany has failed as none of the businesses involved was ready to shoulder the investment, German media reports. TerraE thus follows other players in the country that continue to ignore the government calling on them to do their bit.

Still, Peter Altmaier, Minister for Ecocomy has not given up and announced to present a new battery cell production consortium on November, 13, reports the Tagesspiegel newspaper that had broken the story. Varta Microbattery Systems and Ford have been named as forming part of it but this has yet to be confirmed.

And there were yet stranger news of the Minister allegedly having promised the power company RWE a considerate amount of money if they would build a battery factory and finally give up coal mining. The latter has been the reason for an ongoing dispute between environmental activists and RWE over a woodland called Hambacher Forst.

But back to TerraE – the conglomerate of 20 companies from production to chemistry specialists including BMZ and StreetScooter that now has failed. They had planned to install a battery facility not unlike the Tesla Gigafactory when they got together in May 2017. The idea was to scale up capacity until it would reach 34 GWh in 2028. Yet they did never began building a factory in the first place, because none of the firms wanted to make a considerable investment into cell production.

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A De Niro for e-Niro

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 19:44

Some things are so obvious it takes a while to actually take hold. So who do you think would be the best brand ambassador for the Kia e-Niro? Yes, indeed, Kia thought the same. 

They have signed actor Robert de Niro to promote the e-Niro in Europe. As an ambassador for Kia’s  electric car, De Niro will star in a series of TV, print and digital advertisements.

Kia says the campaign will draw on De Niro’s “unique ability to entertain, as he educates drivers about the e-Niro,” and we guess combining EV awareness with some fun can only do good. And, what a step up this is, hiring an Oscar-winning actor rather than building a campaign around oversized hamsters as they did for the Soul EV.

The e-Niro featured by De Niro promotion is to commence in November.

autoblog.com, kiapressoffice.com

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Solaris to deliver 85 electric trolleybuses to Lithuania

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 19:05

Solaris signed a contract worth 30 million euros with the transit operator of Lithuania’s second largest city, Kaunas. UAB Kauno Autobusai ordered 85 trolleybuses and expects their delivery over the next 15 months.

The trolleybuses ordered by the Lithuanian public transport company measure 12 metres and are of type Solaris Trollino. They accommodate up to 85 passengers, 27 seated. The trolleybuses are equipped with an asynchronous traction motor that is stronger than 150 kW.

Apart from landing the trolleybus commission for Kaunas, Solaris has recently signed deals for the delivery of 50 articulated Trollino 18 trolleybuses to Cluj Napoca in Romania reportedly and of another 80 vehicles of the same type to Milan in Italy (we reported).

greencarcongress.com

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Fastned partners with large German supermarket chain

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 18:43

Dutch charging infrastructure provider Fastned has struck a new deal. Together with Rewe, a grocery retailer, they will trial fast-charging at four large supermarkets in Germany. If the pilot is a success, they will expand their cooperation to other locations and we asked more details.

The partnership serves to understand both their customers better. Rewe wants to find out whether clients use the opportunity to charge their electric cars when shopping groceries. For Fastned, the partnership with Rewe is a great addition to their growing partner network. Moreover, with Rewe being at the higher end of the market, compared to Lidl for example, the chances of customers owning an electric car are higher.

The charging station will be installed at four supermarkets in the Frankfurt area. We reached out to Fastned for more details and learned that “Fastned will place two 50 kW chargers per ‘parking solution’.The chargers will have an CHAdeMO and CCS plug.” They also confirmed that they will not offer AC charging (type 2) any longer “because it’s not really fast charging at all and will probably disappear in the near future,” a spokes person said.

fastned-en.pr.co

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EVBox & ChargePoint declare roaming agreement

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 18:17

EvBox and ChargePoint say they agreed on a roaming partnership that will allow their customers to freely charge in Europe and North America starting in 2019. The agreement utilises the Open Charge Point Interface (OCPI) protocol.

The companies say this partnership represents the first-ever global agreement to enable roaming between EV charging networks. Beginning in January 2019, EV drivers will be able to roam on the ChargePoint and EVBox networks while traveling throughout Europe and North America at tens of thousands of charging spots distributed across both continents.

The agreement eliminates the need to register for multiple accounts and does away with additional fees when roaming.

The news come in the aftermath of the Global Climate Action Summit that took place in San Francisco. Both EVBox and ChargePoint had announced they would install some 3.5 million EV charging points between them by 2025 reportedly. For both companies, this means a huge increase of their networks and for ChargePoint, the pledge is part of the ZEV Challenge by the C40 Cities and Climate Group.

chargepoint.com, electrek.co

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Ceres building new fuel cell production facility in the UK

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 17:30

Ceres Power announced a 7 million pound (€8M) investment in a new fuel cell manufacturing facility in Redhill, Surrey, UK. This will enable them to build fuel cells worth 2 MW first before scaling up to 10 MW in the long run. Moreover, they are working with Nissan on novel EV applications.

The new Redhill fuel cell facility will thus expand Ceres’ manufacturing capacity significantly and adds to its UK operations with its nearby Horsham facility remaining as the headquarters and Technical Centre.

Ceres’ strategy is to generate revenues through licensing in the development phase, and generate royalties through manufacturing partners once full scale commercialisation is achieved. The need for additional interim capacity has been driven by the increasing demand from the company’s partners which include Nissan, Honda, Cummins, Weichai Power and Bosch.

While Ceres is paying for the fuel cell factory expansion themselves, they managed to score funding from the government for a joint project with Nissan. Their new partnership is looking at electric vehicle applications. 8 million pounds (over 9M euros) in funding have been awarded through the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) for this project in which The Welding Institute (TWI) is a part of as well. The new partnership builds on the joint development with Nissan over the past two years and sees Ceres Power accelerating commercialisation of its SteelCell fuel cell technology in automotive markets. Ceres will lead the project to further develop their solid oxide fuel cell specifically designed to extend the range of electric light commercial vehicles (we reported).

fuelcellsworks.com (Redhill), cerespower.com (Nissan partnership)

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Daimler & Geely planning ride-hailing service in China

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 16:55

Geely has gone from acquisitions to creating something with those firms it gathered in hand. Insiders told Bloomberg of a new joint venture in the making that would see Daimler and its 10%-stakeholder Geely set up a ride-hailing service in China, possibly using Denza EVs.

So far, no such joint venture has been confirmed officially but Bloomberg quotes people close to the matter saying that a 50:50 joint venture dealing with ride-hailing and car-sharing is being discussed. The aim: to take on almighty Didi Chuxing in China’s growing market for shared electric vehicles.

Neither Daimler nor Geely have commented on the matter but it makes sense on more than one level. Geely had acquired almost ten percent in Daimler shares last February, thus becoming the company’s largest shareholder. Geely founder Li Shufu said on the occasion that he was “particularly pleased to accompany Daimler on its way to becoming the world’s leading electro-mobility provider.” Daimler however was not too pleased at first but doing business together in China could provide them with a much wanted stronger foothold. Moreover, the tone has changed lately with Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche describing talks with Geely over possible projects as “very constructive” and “very promising so far” at the Paris auto show.

In turn, Daimler is a valuable partner for Geely. Other than Geely’s other acquisitions such as Volvo, Daimler has experience in sharing offers, most visibly the MyTaxi app or ViaVan and also Car2Go, merged with BMW’s DriveNow reportedly.

bloomberg.com

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Bosch to launch electric van sharing service

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 15:27

Bosch has developed a taste for sharing. After its Coup e-scooter service is running well, the company is looking to much bigger things. Bosch wants to start lending electric vans of StreetScooter at DIY stores across Germany. If the pilot works, a wider roll-out is imminent.

Bosch has set the start for their new service for this December. Customers at selected Toom stores, a hardware store chain in Germany, will be able to rent the StreetScooter electric van built by DP/DHL to bring home their heavy stuff.

Bosch selected five Toom stores to start with in Freiburg, Berlin, Frankfurt, Leipzig and Troisdorf next to Cologne. Requesting an electric van “will only take a few clicks,” the company claims as booking will be done directly and digitally on site. Users pay a flat hourly rate that includes mileage and battery recharging at stations that have already been installed on site. Vans must be returned to the same station that the shopper picked them up from.

Moreover, Bosch believes that shared electric vans have scope for application outside the hardware-store sector. States a press release: “If the new sharing service proves popular, Bosch plans to expand it to include other partners, whether these be other Toom stores, furniture stores, supermarkets, or electronics stores.”

The choice of StreetScooter has not been made at random of course. Bosch delivers the electric drive components for these electric vans. While they use the basic model for their new van sharing, StreetScooter has officially kicked-off production of their largest electric transporter recently. The StreetScooter Work XL is being produced in partnership with Ford at their facility in Cologne. DP/DHL aims to build 3,500 units a year (we reported).

Apart from collaborating, StreetScooter is reportedly working on completing a second factory for electric vans. Located in the German town of Düren, close to Aachen and Cologne, it will help to reach the planned annual production capacity of 20,000 electric vans. Half of them are set for sale to third parties.

bosch-presse.de

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Faraday Future house on fire

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 14:58

Things are back to normal at Faraday Future, only their normal is chaos. In summer all seemed better, after the electric car startup secured a 2BN dollar deal with Evergrande Health. But now both sides blame the other for trying to break the deal and on top there are rumours that the first FF91 car went up in flames.

Faraday Future has had financial troubles in the past but those seemed resolved with the latest 2 billion dollar funding injection. Back in June, the Evergrande Health Industry Group had agreed to take over a 45 percent stake in the EV maker and bought it off then investor Season Smart. The deal included an 800 million dollar payment upfront and an agreement to pay the 1.2BN dollars outstanding at a later date reportedly.

It is that later date which has brought about a fresh row that has led Faraday Future trying to back out of the deal and essentially regain control over their company and also wanting to look for new investors. FF says their move has become necessary only because Evergrande Health had broken their word first and not paid any more than the initial 800 million dollars which have already been spent in July. A statement by the company then accuses Evergrande of trying to take control over FF: “Evergrande held the payments back to try to gain control and ownership over FF China and all of FF’s IP. At the same time, Evergrande is preventing FF from accepting any immediate financing from other sources.”

Evergrande on the other hand accuses Faraday founder and CEO Jia Yueting of trying to push them out of the deal. They have not firmly denied FF’s claim of an existing promise to inject more money but rather say their board had been “manipulated” by the chairman to advance another 700 million dollars. Evergrande Health say they will take “all necessary actions” to protect their interests.

What is certain is: Faraday Future is back in the mess and again they are dragging business partners in with them. The Verge reports that employees and suppliers have not been paid since July. On top, a pre-series version of the FF91 electric car that had been made in the freshly retooled factory in Hanford is said to have caught fire after a company event in September, the Verge claims quoting former Faraday Future workers.

theverge.com, ff.com, reuters.com

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FCA gearing up for Jeep PHEV production in Italy

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 14:24

Fiat-Chrysler is readying their Melfi plant in Italy to accommodate the making of the Jeep Renegade plug-in hybrid. They scheduled pre-production to start next year, about a year ahead of the market launch in 2020. It is also the beginning of FCA’s wider e-offensive.

The Jeep Renegade PHEV features a hybrid motor that cost Fiat-Chrysler 200 million euros to develop. It is also the start of their electrification effort that will see them issue ten plug-in hybrid models and four all-electric cars by 2022 under the Jeep label alone.

The pre-production units of the new Jeep Renegade PHEV are scheduled in 2019. The investment for the new system also includes training for all workers and a modernisation of the plant in Melfi.

The Renegade PHEV is the next step in FCA’s electrification, following the PHEV Pacifica minivan which Google uses en masse in their autonomous Waymo service. FCA also launched the mild-hybrid e-Torque technology on the Ram 1500 truck earlier this year. By 2022, FCA will offer a total of 12 electric propulsion systems (BEV, PHEV, full-hybrid and mild-hybrid) in global architectures. Thirty different models will be equipped with one or more of these systems across all brands.

jeeppress-europe.com

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40 electric buses headed for Munich

Mon, 10/08/2018 - 20:26

Munich’s utility Stadtwerke München (SWM) announced to procure 40 electric buses for the city’s transit operator MVG. An order has been placed with Ebusco, a Dutch company specialising in electric buses and the first six are to arrive next year.

While the Oktoberfest is still well underway, Munich is thinking ahead with a rather large fleet of electric buses to come. For now, the Stadtwerke have ordered four smaller electric buses (12 m) from Ebusco and another two articulated models measuring 18 metres. They are expected to take up service in Munich in the second half of 2019.

Once the electric buses have proven their value, the utility may take the option included in the contract. Ebusco could then deliver another 16 solo buses and 8 bendy buses on top so that MVG could operate a fleet of 40 electric vehicles soon.

The solo electric buses have a 124 kW motor and 362 kWh lithium iron phosphate battery (LFP) said to enable a range of up to 280 kilometres. Recharging at 75 kW takes about four hours says Ebusco so we suspect the buses will be charged at the depot overnight.

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Germany funding solid-state battery research

Mon, 10/08/2018 - 19:28

The German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) launched a new cluster to foster basic research into solid-state batteries. Funding is at 16 million euros and the BMBF expects participants to translate their findings into applications.

In order to find new solutions for solid-state batteries, the ministry counts on the work of 14 institutions, including universities and non-academic research associations. The Justus Liebig University Giessen in Hesse will have the lead of the so-called competence cluster FestBatt (Festkörper Batterie is German for solid-state battery).

The cluster is to concentrate on materials needed to develop non-liquid electrolytes as well as their production and properties.

bmbf.de (in German)

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Piaggio kicking-off Vespa Elettrica sales in Europe

Mon, 10/08/2018 - 18:23

Here she is, the most original scooter from Italy only electric. Piaggio has finally started selling their Vespa Elettrica. The updated classic will come to buyers in Europe first before pre-sales are to start in the U.S. and Asia. Just beware, the price tag makes this a luxury e-scooter.

It has taken Piaggio a while to catch up with the electric transport industry. The Italians had teased an electric Vespa for two years at least before finally kicking off production this September (we reported).

But, now sales are on via a dedicated webpage, or say pre-sales rather for people in Europe willing to buy the Vespa Elettrica. The price of the final product has increased from an initial 4,000 euros to a whooping 6,390 euros that almost make our eyes water. Pre-orders require a deposit of 600 euros. Piaggio had said before that they see their electric scooter in the luxury segment of the market (clearly) but they also offer a new financing option, reads a release.

“The Vespa Elettrica is available in the main Eurozone countries at a price of € 6,390 or, alternatively, through a new purchasing solution based on €991 easy monthly payments. With the addition of a small down payment, the monthly instalment also includes Vespa Care, a package providing planned vehicle services maintenance (36 months or 10,000 km), a 12-month warranty extension, a regular battery check and road assistance enhanced with special services.”

Still, apart from the Vespa being a design icon, the technology seems fairly standard. The electric motor delivers 4 kW and has a 200 Nm torque rating, setting the Vespa Elettrica a little atop a 50cc scooter, particularly when it comes to acceleration and hill starts. Piaggio sets the range at 100 kilometres with a recharge taking about four hours at a conventional socket. No top speed has been released but in eco mode the Vespa Elettrica cruises at 30 kph.

Sales kick off officially in Milan at the EICMA this November. Sales will then commence to include Asia and the States in early 2019, according to the motorbike maker.

piaggiogroup.com, elettrica.vespa.com (Pre-orders, Europe)

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EU Commission to invest €700M in greener transport

Mon, 10/08/2018 - 17:43

The European Commission has proposed to invest 695.1 million euros in 49 projects aiming to develop a more sustainable transport infrastructure in Europe. Funding includes all transport modes, from airports and ports to rail and roads, here with a nod to electric cars.

The aim is to decarbonise transport in Europe. EU Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc said they “are proposing to invest €700 million in 49 key transport projects through the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF)”. She then called for “low-emission mobility across Europe” that includes battery-electric and fuel cell vehicles naturally.

The largest part of the funding will be devoted to infrastructure such as railway network, maritime connections and air traffic management. However, over €250 million of CEF funding will be invested in 26 projects dedicated to developing new technologies in transport notably promoting alternative fuels. Among the selected projects are greening the maritime transport link between Swinoujscie port in Poland and Ystad port in Sweden; deploying hydrogen public transport infrastructure in Denmark, the UK and Latvia; developing zero-emission public transport services for Amsterdam airport, as well as electrifying urban and regional bus routes in Croatia, Italy, Slovenia and Slovakia.

An additional €450 million is made available to finance alternative fuel infrastructure through the InnovFin Energy Demo Projects (EDP) and CEF Debt Instrument. They are managed by the European Investment Bank.

Under the CEF programme, €23.2 billion is available for grants from the EU’s 2014-2020 budget to co-fund TEN-T projects in EU Member States. Since 2014, the first CEF programming year, there have been four yearly waves of calls. In total, CEF has so far supported 641 projects with a total amount of €22.3 billion.

europa.eu

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UK: Tories may axe electric car subsidies

Mon, 10/08/2018 - 17:11

Whilst the British government is juggling with the budget, ministers have warned the Treasury that the budget for the Plug-in Grant scheme is falling short and may demand cuts. Solutions, or ways around spending more rather, are currently being discussed.

There is good news here – plug-in car sales are rising in the UK and faster than the government expected it appears. Back in July, one plug-in car was sold every 9 minutes on the isles reportedly, more than in any other year before. So this is one reason why the budget of chancellor Philipp Hammond has come under increased pressure in recent days.

However, the Plug-In Grant scheme never had much of a budget to play with anyway. For 2018/ 19, the British government led by the Tory party had earmarked 124 million pounds with another 96 million to be spend throughout 2019 and 2020. This is not enough, warn ministers and the report by the Observer quotes insiders suggesting that cutbacks may be around the corner. These could see the Plug-In Grant allowance go down from 4,500 pounds to 3,500 GBP. Plug-in hybrids, the most favoured segment in the UK, may see the incentive cut entirely from now 2,500 GBP.

Another option currently on the table is to introduce a cap so that only electric vehicles costing up to 60,000 pounds would be eligible for the grant. This however would cut off the Jaguar I-Pace from any funding, surely a decision the British brand would not look upon favourably, particularly in light of their new found focus on e-mobility.

Back in July, the government announced its Road to Zero strategy. It aims to ban all sales of gas guzzlers by 2040 and largely ignored calls to push said target forward to 2030. In this light, it remains to be seen, how the Treasury is to tackle the looming shortage of Plug-In Grants. No comment has been issued but with Prime Minister Theresa May having declared the “end of austerity” at a Tory party meeting, it seems as good a time as ever to put the money where the mouth is.

theguardian.com

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Renault-Nissan & Daimler pondering battery cooperation

Mon, 10/08/2018 - 16:06

Renault-Nissan and Daimler may make some cooperative efforts to include battery and autonomous driving technology. At least their executives, namely Carlos Ghosn and Dieter Zetsche saw chances to work more closely together when speaking to the press in Paris. 

Given the occasion of the Paris Motor Show, the announcement remained vague but was driven by an openminded spirit. Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn told a news conference, that “there are plenty of areas of cooperation for our entities,” given that the industry is being in transformation, particularly when it comes to connectivity and electric mobility.

Daimler CEO Dieter pointed out potential synergies with regards to cell chemistries. Carmakers could exchange research results and thus look into various options at the same time.

Ghosn also added that at the moment the car industry was struggling to keep up with demand for electric cars. The reason would not be dependent on volatile oil prices but on the availability of batteries and motors for electric cars rather he said.

reuters.com

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