In a move to secure its cobalt supply for lithium batteries, Korea’s LG Chem has agreed to build two joint ventures with China’s Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt. The JVs are expected to start producing 40,000t a year of precursors and cathodes from 2020.
In order to make this happen, LG Chem said it would raise a total of 239.4 billion won (over 180M euros) by 2020 to set up the joint ventures in China. Once production of precursor and cathode materials will be up and running, LG Chem plans to use the battery materials for its battery plants in China and Poland.
JV partner Huayou Cobalt is among the world’s biggest cobalt producers and made 20,000 tons of cobalt in 2017 alone.
One joint venture is to make precursors from cobalt, manganese and nickel. When these precursors are combined with lithium, they become cathodes, which will happen at the second facility. The factory for precursors will be built in Quzhou, in which LG will hold a 49 percent stake. The cathode production will take place in Wuxi in Jiangsu province, where the Koreans will hold a 51 percent stake.
While the joint ventures will start producing the battery materials from 2020 with an estimated annual capacity of 40,000 tons for about 400,000 electric vehicles, they say the capacity can be increased to up to 100,000 tons depending on future demand.
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FIA has given the green light for Porsche and Mercedes to enter the electric racing series as the governing body accepted their applications to produce powertrains for the Formula E. They will start in season 6, while BMW is in for season 5 and just showed off their racer in action.
Mercedes and Porsche are among the 11 Formula E manufacturers that have been homologated for the 2019/20 season. They join existing FE manufacturers Audi, DS, Jaguar, Mahindra, NIO, Penske and Venturi as well as Nissan for season six. The two additions for season six will have a two-year homologation period, until the next cycle begins for the 2021/22 Formula E races.
BMW is joining for this coming season five though and has just sported its electric race car, the BMW iFE.18, on their Driving Academy site in Maisach, near Munich. It is powered by a new drivetrain, which has been jointly developed by engineers from BMW i production development and from BMW Motorsport.
The press release compares the racer with its production counterpart, the motor used in the i3, saying “the race machine is 50 percent lighter, 66 percent more compact and produces 100 percent more performance (than the i3).”
The BMW iFE.18 will make its first public appearance at the official Formula E test in Calafat from 17th to 19th April 2018.
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Mumbai-based Strom Motors has unveiled a compact electric car designed for Indian cities. Once the Strom R3 will roll into the shops on its three wheels later this year, Indian buyers may get one from 300,000 Rupees – about 3,700 euros.
Strom Motors’ R3 sports two doors but three wheels with two at the front and one at the rear. With its compact size and set up, the EV weighs only 450 kilos.
One electric motor offers 13 kW, while two battery options offer a range of either 80 or 120 kilometres. Only the top of the line trim called Strom R3 Bolt gets the longer range of 120 km as a standard. The remaining two versions, the R3 Pure and the R3 Current, get a range of 80 km but it can be upgraded to 120 km.
The capacity of the batteries is unknown to date but the company says, a fast-charging system can charge 80% of the battery in 2 hours and the EV recuperates while braking.
Once the electric vehicle will go on sale by the end of this year it will start at a price of said 300,000 rupees. Strom Motors wants to find customers in urban centres like Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru first.
Toyota plans to build a battery factory in Thailand to produce power packs for its hybrid vehicles from 2020. Unnamed sources say the Japanese corporation expects PEV sales to rise in the country due to tax incentives and that it also needs to fulfil its own forecasted demand.
Toyota expects its global sales to reach 5.5M electrified vehicles annually by 2030, among them 4.5M HEVs and PHEVs as well as 1 million BEVs and FCEVs (we reported). And they will all need batteries.
The planned battery facility will be close to Bangkok in Chachoengsao province, where Toyota already produces cars. Key battery components will be imported and assembled in Thailand.
Toyota’s subsidiary Primeearth EV Energy Co, which has plants in Japan and China, currently produces and supplies batteries to finished car factories across the globe.
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Klaus Fröhlich, who is the BMW board member for development, is set to join the supervisory board of energy group E.On, but will remain in his position at BMW. If the move is approved it will be another sign of the sectors merging in terms of e-mobility.
E.ON will propose Fröhlich as a candidate at its annual general meeting scheduled on May, 9. The utility has advanced its electric transport activities further lately as it embarked on projects with Nissan as well as Swedish startup Uniti.
Furthermore, E.ON plans to install 10,000 public charging stations all over Europe, including at super markets, train stations and highway stops by 2020 (we reported).
BMW is considering to launch the BMW i1 as new entry-level electric car, a report by Spanish Motor.es suggests. The i1 would be a little bigger than the i3 but smaller than the BMW 1 series, while technology is to come from the electric Mini due by 2019.
Both the BMW i1 as well as the Mini Cooper EV will will feature an electric motor providing front-wheel drive, and will also have a similar power output.
According to the report by the Spanish portal, the i1 will come as a five-door hatchback. Since the continuation of the i3 and i8 may end after 2021 reportedly, the new i1 will likely replace the i3 and become the brand’s most affordable EV.
Overall, BMW has trademarked nine more names with i. The i3 and i8 are only the first of the family and there are another twelve electrified models planned by 2025.
Next one up is the X3 due by 2020 – if the i1 will not precede it but nothing has been said about production plans yet. There is also the Vision Dynamics concept car scheduled for 2021 and codenamed i20 and lastly the iNext (2021).
The public transport company Carris from the Portuguese capital Lisbon has put out an open order for 15 electric buses and their charging infrastructure. Up to 11.7 million euro are being offered, and bids are being accepted until the 16th of May.
The desired contract will have a 16 year run-time. It is considered likely that the Portuguese bus manufacturer CaetanoBus will be fighting hard for the contract. Some of their buses have already been tested in Lisbon, Port, Coimbra, Guimaraes and Braga. The bus was developed in cooperation with Siemens and engineers from the University of Porto.
The plan does not end with the acquisition of 15 buses however; Carris is planning to acquire 460 electrified buses by 2021, 30 with an electric propulsion system. The city of Porto is also planning the purchase of 15 electric buses by 2019.
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The ride-share provider Uber has now added a new tool to their case: The American ride-share company Jump Bikes, that is currently active in San Francisco and Washington D.C. The bikes are already available via the Uber app.
This marks the first takeover under the new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. Reports have indicated that the move cost more than 100 million dollars. As a result, Uber has expanded their business into a new direction.
In January, Uber had already begun by adding the Jump bike services in San Francisco through their app. The concept is set up as a station free concept, where riders pay an approximately 2 euro fee per ride in the San Francisco area. In DC the bikes are also present, and the take-over will see both brands remain with their current leadership.
The German minister for transport Andreas Scheuer has handed over the first four grants for the acquisition of 2,000 new EVs and the required charging infrastructure as a part of the Clean Air 2017-2020 program.
The first recipients were the company Alphabet Fuhrparkmanagement, the German Post, the police central in Lower Saxony and the Freiburg Transport Authority.
The BMVI (German ministry for transport and infrastructure) will be taking part in the initiative with around 20 million euros for the procurement of the vehicles. To be exact, the contract compromises 1,500 StreetScooter, 200 utility vehicles and 250 electric passenger vehicles, as well as the corresponding charging infrastructure, which entails more than 1,500 charging stations.
The program to support the development of e-mobility has been successful so far, as more than 400 orders have been placed so far, according to Scheuer. The first four grants alone will put about 2,000 new EVs on the streets, which will help with the goal to avoid driving bans and provide a smoother transition to renewable energy based transportation.
The application process for grants is open to communities to expand their vehicle fleets, public transport providers, taxi companies, car-sharing providers as well as companies such as delivery services or health care services, provided they are officially part of a communal mobility concept.
The Taiwanese startup Xing Mobility has shown off their electric super car Miss R, which they introduced towards the end of 2017, in a series of videos. Furthermore, the company will present an electric truck in Taipei.
Last November, Xing garnered a few headlines when they introduced their super-car Miss R. The concept will be completed by the end of 2018 and be produced in a small series of 20 vehicles. The car won’t come cheaply, however: A price tag of 1 million dollars is attached as the basic price.
The company has also announced that they do not intend to disappear after producing their super cars, and have begun moving to begin producing their electric drive-trains for buses, scooters, construction vehicles and specialty boats. This weeks AutoTronics car show in Taipei will see the company present a 3.5 ton truck. The vehicle has a 350 volt motor and a lithium-ion battery pack, which is made up of 150 modules with a total of 6,300 cells.
Volkswagen made a brief announcement, that the company leadership were undergoing changes, which may also include the CEO. This likely means big changes for the electric mobility division as well.
Rumors have stated that the chief executive Matthias Müller was replaced by the VW brand manager Herbert Diess. Diess was well known at his previous job with BMW for having a strong focus on e-mobility and was instrumental in the development of the BMW-i subsidiary brand.
Under Müllers leadership the company known for the diesel scandal has already begun realigning itself. At the IAA VW presented its Roadmap E, which entails a massive e-mobility expansion. 80 new EVs will be released under the various brands under VW by 2025.
Eberspaecher has opened a new factory for electric vehicle heaters in China. The main focus of the factory near Tianjin is the production of high voltage heaters for electric and hybrid vehicles.
According to the German company, the factory is planned to produce up to one million heaters per year, once it has been fully upgraded. Tianjin is about 100 km southeast of Beijing, where Eberspaecher has their current Chinese HQ. The company has been producing vehicle heaters in China since 2008.
The company released a press statement, saying that “it was less than six months between making the decision and moving in”. The production is set to begin with around 100 workers, which will be doubled within four years, if things go as planned.
The new factory in China will cooperate with the German locations at Herxheim and Hermsdorf, which will also be subject to some expansion. In order to keep up with the rising demand for PTC ceramics for the high voltage heaters, the company purchased land in Hermsdorf recently as well.
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Chinas president Xi Jinping announced plans to “significantly” lower import tariffs on cars this year. Furthermore, foreign companies will generally receive better market access and improved investment opportunities.
The statements came as Xi Jinping made a speech at the Asian economic forum in Bo’ao. “China’s door of opening up will not be closed and will only open wider,” was the wording used by Jinping. Opening the doors would lead to progress, while isolationism would result in falling behind. Over the course of his speech, he also spoke more explicitly about the automotive market.
The import tariffs for cars currently stand at 25% in China, and foreign car manufacturers have to enter a joint venture with a Chinese company in order to produce cars locally. The newly announced lowering of import tariffs will likely benefit Teslas the most, as the Californian brand has delivering to China exclusively as an export market so far.
How exactly the changes will affect Tesla and the rest of the international market will be seen over the next months. Only days ago, Bloomberg reported rumours on a new list circulating that specified goods threatened with higher import tariffs, among them electric cars (we reported). So indeed the potential trade war between the USA and China may affect the situation, making predictions even more difficult, although it is worth lending some weight to the wording used by Xi Jinping.
The Chinese EV startup Xiaopeng Motors has announced their plan to begin accepting pre-orders for their electric Crossover G3. The company also announced their intention to generate an additional 2.7 billion dollars in growth this year.
The startup, founded in 2014, managed to recently complete a round of investment totaling 350 million dollars, from the two investors Foxconn and Alibaba. The latter had purchased 10% of Xiaopeng towards the end of 2017, and is planning further investment with Ford: The plan is to explore new sales channels, such as vending machines for EVs. Foxcomm on the other hand, who is also known for their work surrounding the iPhone, is funding the former BMW-i managers Carsten Breitfeld new venture Byton and is cooperating with Evoke Motorcycles.
The G3 itself will be the serial version of the 2017 introduced Xpeng. Development also benefited from the recently expired Tesla patents, which are now available for public use. The BEV is expected to have a 300 km range. The long-term plans by the company are focused on expansion, and initial steps include the production of 100,000 vehicles per year.
Nissan has announced a new vehicle for the upcoming Beijing Auto Show; the EV will be produced in a joint venture with Dongfeng and is designated for the Chinese market.
Further details about the new car have not been released yet, at least not before the car show. The Beijing Auto Show will also host the new Nissan Leaf, as well as the electric concept IMx by Nissan, which was presented in Tokyo last October.
China is without a doubt an attractive market for Nissan. The Japanese car manufacturer announced in February, that they planned to invest approximately 7.6 billion euros in the region over the next five years along with their Partner Dongfeng. A large portion of the investment is earmarked for e-mobility. In particular, more than 20 electrified car models (both battery-electric, as well as with the e-Power Range-Extender) are planned, with 6 rolling out by the end of next year, under the brand of Nissan, Venucia and Dongfeng. One of these 6 will now be revealed in Beijing.
Nissan announced another joint venture with their alliance partner Renault to combine with Dongfeng last October. There had also been rumors of a complete fusion of the two European car manufacturers, who have been closely affiliated as of late. The newly minted eGT New Energy Automotive is now owned at 25% each Nissan and Renault, and the other 50% by Dongfeng. The first cooperative car will be a small electric SUV, which will be produced in the Dongfeng factory in Shiyan as of 2019. The factory is set up for an annual capacity of 120,000 vehicles.
Austrian supplier Magna has signed a cooperation agreement with China’s BAIC. Their first joint project will be the development of an intelligent electric vehicle architecture for the Chinese market in order to support BAIC’s electrification strategy.
Magna was reportedly chosen due to their innovative and cost-efficient solutions for vehicle production, their engineering services and their competence in EV architecture and lightweight construction.
As a supplier, Magna has been very busy in China and has shown some returns on their efforts recently. Last October, Magna also founded a joint venture with the SAIC subsidiary Huayu Automotive Systems. The first focus of this venture is the development of an electric power unit for an unnamed German car manufacturer
Additionally, Magna is delivering a variety of parts and systems for the new electric SUV ES8 with a battery swapping system by Nio, which is now being released in China. The electric transmission as well as the front axle are made by Magna. Also the aluminum rear axle and the locking mechanisms for the doors are made by the Austrians.
The British police forces seem confused with the choice of cars they are being offered, as officers misfueled their tanks 299 times last year. It seems that even traditional combustion motors are too complicated for some, which is especially rich compared to arguments regarding the usability of EVs.
The mix up of petrol and diesel and diesel and petrol has cost the UK police force a total of 53,337 pounds. Needless to say that this could have been avoided most E-asily.
US bus maker Blue Bird has received all required certifications for its electric school buses which are now in pre-production. The company also opened the order books and their EVs qualify for grants available in California and New York respectively.
The Blue Bus powertrain was developed together with Adomani and EDI, thus clarifying which school bus supplier EDI is working with as part of the a 4.4 million dollar DOE programme for electric school buses (see earlier post).
In particular, the electric school buses feature the EDI PowerDrive 7000 EV drivetrain system. With up to 160 kWh lithium-ion battery packs, the buses are expected to deliver up to 120 mile range.
Vehicle-to-Grid capability is coming in 2019, supported by said US Department of Energy (DOE) development grant.
The buses exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards with Colorado Racking and Kentucky Pole Test certification standard on every Blue Bird bus.
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Audi is making gaming a reality as it plans to deploy the e-tron Vision Gran Turismo as a taxi during the Formula E races in Italy. The car had first been drawn up for virtual races on Sony’s PlayStation 4 but will hit the real road in Rome this weekend.
It marks Audi’s entry into the Formula E electric racing series. The customers and guests of the brand will be able to drive around the FE city circuits as passengers in the Audi e-tron Vision Gran Turismo starting in Rome on April, 14.
Audi’s pre-production center developed and made the Audi e-tron Vision Gran Turismo a reality within eleven months based on the example from the “Gran Turismo” PlayStation game. The best-selling video game has cult status with gamers and Audi has been working together with Sony and Polyphony Digital, the creators of “Gran Turismo”, for nearly 20 years.
Says Audi’s chief designer Marc Lichte: “Although the design of a virtual vehicle allows much greater freedom and the creation of concepts which are only hard to implement in reality, we did not want to put a purely fictitious concept on wheels. Our aim was a fully functional car. The Audi e-tron Vision Gran Turismo shows that electric mobility at Audi is very emotive. This car incorporates numerous elements of our new design language such as the inverted single frame in the vehicle’s color that will be typical for our new e-tron models.”
While the Vision Gran Turismo is a standalone model, Audi is planning to offer a total of more than 20 electric vehicles by 2025. For the next stage of the transition, a dozen new purely electric models are expected, as well as 8 new PHEVs. The “basic” Audi e-tron for example, will be available as of end of this year starting at 80,000 euros and the car manufacturer also announced a Gran Turismo (GT) version (without the vision) recently.
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Elon Musk took to Twitter to announce the arrival of the Model 3 with AWD can be expected by July. While the dual motor has been awaited, the Tesla CEO stressed (once again) that their priority is to get production up to speed.
Musks original Tweet said: “We need to achieve 5k/week with Model 3 before adding complexity that would inhibit production ramp.” He added: “So probably July.” This means the dual motor set ip is now linked to Tesla reaching their capacity target of 5,000 Model 3 per week leaving the factory in Fremont with Musk expecting to hit that mark finally this July.
In a previous email update of the Tesla CEO, Musk had announced the Tesla Model 3 had reached a production rate of 2,000 vehicles per week.
The milestone of 5,000 vehicles per week is set for the end of Q2, meaning that Tesla will have to more than double its Model 3 production rate within the next months in order to keep up with its plan. The milestones are also of particular interest to Musk, as his compensation package as CEO is directly tied to their achievement.