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Updated: 13 hours 11 min ago

Elon Musk steps down as chairman of Tesla

Sun, 09/30/2018 - 13:01

A settlement was made in the pending US SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) case against Elon Musk regarding his privatization tweet – Musk will have to step down from his position as chairman of Tesla for three years and both Musk and Tesla will each pay a $20 million fine.

The agreement will allow Elon Musk to retain his position as chief executive, meaning that he will be able to continue shaping Tesla’s future, albeit with slightly less responsibility. Additionally, Tesla will have to add two independent directors to their board and “take steps to monitor Mr Musk’s communications with investors”. A permanent ethics committee to monitor disclosures and potential conflicts of interest will also be established.

The entire issue began with a tweet, where Elon Musk had publicly wondered aloud about taking Tesla private, as he had been taking issue with short-sellers, who had been betting against the company on the stock market. The part that particularly caught the SEC’s eye was that Musk added that he had already secured funding, causing some major flux on the stock market.

An agreement in the decision came as a surprise, as Musk had rejected a more lenient deal a week before, which would have placed a two year ban and a ten million dollar fine. The decision to reopen negotiations likely came from the background that Musk might have been permanently barred from serving as a top executive in Tesla or any other public company. This agreement also does not include an admission of guilt, meaning that Musk can declare he has done nothing wrong in future. Musk had been worried that the decision might compromise his ability to negotiate with investors, which is also why he had declined to settle previously.

While the settlement certainly provides relief to Musk and his company, Tesla is not out of the woods yet; The SEC will continue to investigate the company’s production goal claims, and with Musk gone from the helm, Tesla will have to find a replacement quickly. Regarding Musk’s other business ventures, such as the Boring Company and SpaceX, waivers were issued by the SEC to keep the settlement from being held against them.

nytimes.com, sec.gov, greencarcongress.com, electrek.co

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Ford & Zotye sign ride-hailing JV deal

Fri, 09/28/2018 - 19:26

Ford and their Chinese partner Zotye have officially signed the contract for their planned joint venture which will provide electrified solutions for fleet operators and drivers in China to help address the fast-growing ride-hailing market.

The new 50:50 joint venture between Zotye and Ford Smart Mobility, which is a subsidiary of the US American vehicle manufacturer, is now officially real and calls itself Zotye-Ford Smart Mobility. The required state permission by the Chinese government has not been granted yet, however.

This joint venture was kicked off by the idea to provide drivers and fleet operators with ride-hailing services from a single hand, including the rental of electrified vehicles, fleet management as well as intelligent networking and infotainment services. Ride-hailing services are generally conducted in private vehicles, with passengers using apps to pay for the service.

With a starting capital of 20 million dollars, the joint venture is planned to take it’s seat in Hangzhou, the capital of the Zhejiang province. At first, the service will concentrate on establishing itself within the province, before expanding beyond it’s borders in incremental steps. As their first rental vehicle, the partners are looking at the Zotye Z500 EV, which is a fully electric sedan with a 330 km range.

Furthermore, the new joint venture will work towards cooperating with another global joint venture, which Ford and Zotye founded last November named Zotye Ford Automobile Co. Ltd. This joint venture was founded to focus on developing a series of affordable electric vehicles for the Chinese market. The initiative is also owned at 50:50 stakes between the partners.

With a look at sales numbers, Zotye took the fifth place on the Chinese market last year with a total of 36,979 sold vehicles. The first three places were taken by familiar names BYD, BAIC BJEV and SAIC with sales numbers of 113,669, 104,520 and 44,236, respectively. These numbers refer to both battery-electric vehicles and hybrids collectively.

gasgoo.com, just-auto.com

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Audi suspected of cheating emissions tests with PHEVs

Fri, 09/28/2018 - 18:03

The Munich state prosecutor suspects Audi may have also cheated emissions tests with their plug-in hybrids. During testing, the prosecutor believes, that Audi may have placed additional strain on the batteries in order to take pressure off the combustion components, and giving a fake impression of CO2 emissions.

The news was broken by the German newspaper Wirtschaftswoche, who questioned the prosecutors themselves. The prosecutors themselves have not made major moves on the suspicion, but is cooperating with the German Federal Motor Vehicle Transport Authority to determine whether Audi may have engaged in CO2 relevant manipulations. Further tests on the vehicles have not been done yet, however.

In the USA, the same methodology was potentially also used. A high-ranking VW employee, who had tipped off the state prosecutor in the direction of Audi, stated that they were certain that it was also used there, at least. Neither Volkswagen, nor their subsidiary Audi have commented on the suspicions as of yet.

electrive.net, wiwo.de (All in German)

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Segway to introduce drifting go-cart

Fri, 09/28/2018 - 16:52

The company known for the two-wheeled electric personal vehicles favoured by tourists all over the world, has again brought an innovation to the market. This time, they plan on creating an electric go-cart, which is particularly well-equipped for drifting.

Using the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo, the company is raising funds and testing the waters with great success: Instead of the targeted 20,000, they have already managed to garner $400,000.

The product is advertised as “made to drift” and is size-adjustable for different drivers, as well as having a good acceleration. To be specific, the acceleration from 0 to 12 mph takes place in 2 seconds, and the cart is powered by two electric motors with a maximum capacity of 800 w. A manual handbrake assists drivers with the drifting action.

autoblog.com, indiegogo.com

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New 120 Ah battery cells : BMW boosts i3 and i3s range

Fri, 09/28/2018 - 08:15

The speculations that appeared in June regarding a potential battery upgrade for the BMW i3 and the i3s to battery cells with 120 Ah have now found a conclusion. Following the face-lift for the vehicles, their batteries were upgrade by almost 30% capacity to 42.2 kWh.

When the i3 was introduced in 2013, the batteries had a capacity of 60 Ah and 22.6 kWh, while the 2016 introduced battery increased performance to 94 Ah and 33 kWh. Now the newest upgrade will boost the range up to 310 km, according to WLTP standards. The market launch will take place in November this year.

Next to the space designated for the high voltage battery and the vehicle weight, the driving performance and energy usage remain nearly unchanged. The BMW i3 is powered by a 125 kW electric motor. Acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h can be done in 7.3 seconds. The electric motor in the BMW i3s has a capacity of 135 kW and can accelerate to 100 km/h in 6.9 seconds.

The energy for both models is drawn from a 42.2 kWh lithium-ion battery. It is made up of eight modules with twelve battery cells each. The battery allows for a range of 285 to 310 km for the i3, depending on the vehicle setup, while the is3 manages a range of 270 to 285 km. The battery can be charged from a regular household plug to 80% in about 15 hours, however a wallbox allows for a significantly faster charging period. The vehicles retain three-phase charging capabilities to 11 kW, in which case the 80% charge is reached in 3.2 hours. The fastest charging option is the CCS option up to 50 kW. This allows charging to 80% capacity to take place in only 42 minutes.

Both the electric motors as well as the performance electronics and batteries are part of the BMW eDrive technology, which is developed in-house by BMW. The lithium-ion cells are constructed in a specialized way to meet BMW’s needs. A cooperation with the cell manufacturer in terms of research and development has allowed the vehicle manufacturer to significantly optimize the batteries. The battery cell competence centre in Munich, which is currently under construction by BMW, will likely help to further support the battery development for the i3 in future.

Parallel to the introduction of the new batteries, the BMW i3 and i3s will receive a new exterior look: a new paintjob is available, as well as new interior design options. The lighting system will receive adaptive LED high-beams, with matrix functions. A sport packet will be made available for the i3, which combines a darker design with a sports chassis including improved suspension, stabilizers, a lowered vehicle base and 20 inch wheels. An optimized menu in a tile setup from the iDrive system was also connected to the navigation system. In further connectivity improvements, the vehicles will also include wireless mobile phone charging options as well as WLAN hotspots. Market launch for the new, improved i3 will be in November, and a price has not yet been announced.

Update 28.09.2018: Due to the sinking battery prices, BMW has decided to offer the models with the range increase at the same price as the previous version. This means that the i3 will continue to cost 37,550 euro, while the i3s carries a 41,150 euro price-tag. The range extender will not be available in Europe, but will continue to be manufactured for export markets.

Additionally, all new customers who have purchased an i3 recently will receive the battery upgrade for any vehicle that is produced after the first of November. When prompted whether customers would be able to upgrade their existing battery packs, the BMW spokesperson declined, stating that the global demand hat not been sufficient to launch a line of replacement batteries.

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CARB announces up to $205 million in EV grants

Thu, 09/27/2018 - 20:59

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has announced up to $205 million in grants for projects to accelerate the adoption of clean freight technologies and improving air quality in the state. Eleven projects will receive $150 million, with another $55 million to be considered for further investment.

The eleven confirmed projects will be funded from the California Climate Investment programme, using funds from the state’s Cap-and-Trade programme. The projects focus on a variety of aspects surrounding freight transportation and ways to make the process cleaner, including all of the following:

  • “Flexible Solutions for Freight Facilities – San Joaquin Valley Zero and Near-Zero Emissions Enabling Freight Project: The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (SJVAPCD) will receive $22.6 to demonstrate a battery electric locomotive, zero-emission drayage truck, hybrid cranes and other equipment at intermodal rail yards in Stockton and San Bernardino. Project partners will provide $22.9 million in matching funds.
  • Frito Lay Transformative Zero and Near-Zero Emission Freight Facility Project: The SJVACP also will receive $15.4 million to help replace all diesel-powered equipment at Frito-Lay in Modesto, including deployment of 15 heavy-duty Tesla battery electric tractors, 38 low NOx trucks fueled with renewable natural gas, and demonstrate six Peterbilt e220 battery electric trucks. Partner match: $15.4 million.
  • Volvo Low-Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions (LIGHTS): The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) will receive $44.8 million to deploy 23 Class 8 Volvo battery electric trucks and 24 zero-emission forklifts, along with 58 heavy-duty fast chargers and other related equipment in Ontario, Chino, Fontana and Placentia. Partner match: $45.9 million.
  • Next Generation Fuel Cell Delivery Van Deployment: The Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE) will receive $5.4 million to deploy four fuel cell hybrid electric delivery vans for UPS for a minimum 12-month demonstration project in Chino. Partner match: $5.8 million.
  • Zero Emissions for California Ports: The Gas Technology Institute will receive $8 million to demonstrate two fuel cell yard trucks at the Port of Los Angeles. Partner match: $6.3 million.
  • Zero-Emission Freight “Shore to Store” Project: The Port of Los Angeles (POLA) will receive $41.1 million to deploy ten Kenworth and Toyota fuel cell Class 8 trucks, build two new large-capacity hydrogen fueling stations in Wilmington and Ontario, and deploy two electric yard tractors at the Port of Hueneme and two zero-emission forklifts at Toyota’s POLA warehouse. Partner match: $41.4 million.
  • Sustainable Terminals Accelerating Regional Transformation (START) Project Phase 1: The Port of Long Beach will receive $50 million for a project expected to benefit the Ports of Long Beach, Oakland and Stockton that will deploy 38 electric yard tractors, nine electric gantry cranes, 18 electric heavy lift forklifts, 15 zero emission Class 8 trucks, a hybrid tugboat, two ocean-going vessels with selective catalytic reduction installations, and other state-of-the-art port-related equipment. Partner match: $52.9 million.
  • Zero-Emission Beverage Handling and Distribution at Scale: The Center for Transportation and the Environment will receive $5.5 million to deploy 21 battery-electric Class 8 trucks at four Anheuser-Busch distribution facilities, and to commission solar generation at its Carson facility. Partner match: $5.8 million.
  • Zero Emission from Farm to Table: Reducing Pollution Emissions and Health Risks from the Movement of Produce along Two adjacent Trade Corridors in California: The City of San Francisco will receive $4.6 million to demonstrate 30 electric medium- and heavy-duty vehicles between the Bay Area and the Valley, to install fast chargers in San Francisco and Sacramento, and additional charging infrastructure at the San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market. Partner match: $4.6 million.
  • Fuel Cell Hybrid Electric Delivery Van Deployment: The Center for Transportation and the Environment will receive $4.3 million to expand a project with UPS in Ontario that will yield 15 new zero-emission vehicles. Partner match: $5.2 million.
  • Net-Zero Farming and Freight Facility Demonstration Project: Project Clean Air will receive $3.3 million to deploy and demonstrate five electric battery Class 7 trucks with all-electric Transport Refrigeration Units with Moonlight Companies in Reedley. Partner match: $3.3 million.”

The other $50 million will be invested following the October board meeting. The programmes considered focus on freight and clean transportation, but also take factors such as service to disadvantaged communities or potential to act as a “showcase” technology for industry. Whether or not the technology will have potential for market penetration also plays a factor in the investment programme.

Finally, the investment will be matched by private and public partners, which may bring the total investment sum up to more than $400 million.

greencarcongress.com, arb.ca.gov

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Vion plans charging network for E-trucks in North America

Thu, 09/27/2018 - 20:40

Vion plans to establish a charging station network for electrified trucks in North America over the next few years. Starting next year, 40 to 50 stations will mark the start of the implementation along the most important routes in the USA.

Eventually the network is planned to comprise more than 1,500 stations and include both Canada and Mexico. Vion is currently still on the search for investors. The intention is to adapt the charging stations to the needs of the transport industry. This not only includes the charging capacities of the charging stations, which are supposed to be able to charge a vehicle in 30 to 50 minutes, but also include services at the locations, including shopping and sleeping facilities.

Specifically, the company aims to set up a charging station every 600 km. This is the minimum range, that electrified trucks will be able to reach in terms of range, according to Vions’s estimate. These figures seem to specifically address Tesla’s Semi, which will be hitting public roads next year. This launch, as well as those of other incoming e-trucks in the next two years will be addressed by the network, as no comparable system is currently available in the USA.

The first step of 40 to 50 stations will take an installation time of approximately one year. The first calculations have also already been completed regarding the costs and expected income: Vion expects that the installation costs of a single station will not exceed 650,000 dollars (550,000 euros), “due to the simplicity and technological effectiveness of the Vion electric charging stations.” This figure includes the real estate cost. For 50 charging stations, Vion estimates that the total construction cost, including everything, will run about 37.5 million dollars (32 million euros). Concerning the earnings in these 50 locations, Vion is calculating that about 250 trucks and 100 private customers would use the charging stations daily, bringing in about 292 million dollars annually (250 million euros).

vionusa.com, medium.com, digitaljournal.com

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VW testing procedures for cheaper fuel cell production

Thu, 09/27/2018 - 20:06

A new procedure, developed by Volkswagen in cooperation with the US American university at Stanford, is set to significantly reduce costs for the production of fuel cells. Particularly, the amount of platinum required has been reduced, resulting in a significant cost reduction.

The high production costs for fuel cells still present one of the biggest market entry barriers for the technology. Platinum remains one of the heaviest contributors towards the cost, acting as a catalyzer to power the fuel cells. The material is spread in particle-form onto carbon powder. The process itself only takes place on the surface, however, which wastes a significant amount of the precious metal.

The new procedure by the researchers from VW and Stanford addresses this point exactly. During the manufacturing process, the platinum atoms are directly applied to a carbon surface, creating particularly thin particles. The process is a modified atomic layer deposition (ALD). This allows the material reduction of platinum to a bare minimum, as well as increasing the efficiency of the fuel cell catalyzers by three times over the current standards, as well as increasing the lifetime of the technology.

Prof. Friedrich Prinz from Stanford is convinced that the process will provide “enormous” opportunities to reduce costs in production. Next to the fuel cell manufacturing, a variety of other processes could benefit from the procedure. For example, lithium-ion batteries of the next generation could implement the process. The next step, according to Volkswagen, will be to adapt the lab results to a large scale serial production.

greencarcongress.com, volkswagen-newsroom.com

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Panasonic ahead of schedule for Gigafactory expansion

Thu, 09/27/2018 - 19:45

The plan by Tesla’s battery partner Panasonic to set up three new assembly lines in the Gigafactory 1 in Nevada by the end of the year, will likely be completed ahead of schedule. The expansion will increase the production capacity by about 30%.

The news was announced by Yoshio Ito, head of the automobile division at Panasonic. He declined to mention an explicit date, however. The expansion for the Gigafactory, which was announced this summer, will see the factory have a total of thirteen production lines. In this production dimension, it would be possible for Panasonic to deliver a total capacity of 35 GWh to Tesla, which is the requirement for the company to keep up with their current Model 3 production.

Tesla had initially planned to increase their 30% increase for the construction of stationary batteries, however the high demand for the Model 3 has taken over all of their capacities at the Gigafactory 1. “The bottleneck for Model 3 production has been our batteries,” Ito said. “They just want us to make as many as possible.”

As was recently reported, the energy business by Panasonic took a hit in the battery division in the second quarter of 2018. The exact number was a loss of 8.4 billion Yen (75 million dollars). This was mainly blamed on the need to expand production lines and factories, namely the Gigafactory 1. Panasonic is calculating that the business with the Model 3 and Tesla will yield results starting in October, due to the increasing demand for the vehicle.


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Toyota to deliver fuel cell systems to CaetanoBus

Thu, 09/27/2018 - 19:07

The Portuguese bus manufacturer CaetanoBus will receive fuel cell systems from Toyota. The first demonstration buses by CaetanoBus with Toyota’s FC technology are scheduled to roll off the assembly line within slightly more than a year.

The Japanese company will deliver fuel cell stacks to Caetanobus as well as hydrogen tanks and further components. The Portuguese bus manufacturer will then begin manufacturing hydrogen buses for public transit. According to president José Ramos, CaetanoBus aims to be the first company in Europe to implement the Toyota technology. He added that his company is convinced that FCEVs are a good solution for emissions-free buses.

Toyota themselves presented a fuel cell bus named Sora last year. The new development is based on the fuel cell technology from Toyota’s H2 personal vehicle Mirai, and will find it’s first major use during the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. As of 2025, Toyota then plans to implement their fuel cell technology in a range of SUVs, Pickups and utility vehicles. In order to help bridge the gap to serial mass production, the manufacturer aims to reduce the proportions of costly materials, such as platinum.

Many experts believe that fuel cell technology will have difficulty establishing itself in the mass market. Regardless, Toyota went ahead and released the Mirai in 2014 as the first serial fuel cell vehicle on the market. The purchase price of about 60,000 dollars (before subsidies) and the lacking hydrogen infrastructure resulted in rather slow sales, however. Even today, less than 6,000 Mirai have been sold worldwide.

This has not stopped Toyota from developing the technology, however: further cooperations to commercialize fuel cell technology have been founded over the years. The most recent was cooperation with the East Japan Railway Company. The main objective of the cooperation focuses on H2 transportation, including the establishment of  hydrogen fuel stations, as well the introduction of fuel cell vehicles and the development of fuel cell technology for railway transportation.

toyota.co.jp, greencarcongress.com, toyota.co.jp (East Japan Railway Company)

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Update on PHEV adaption to WLTP

Thu, 09/27/2018 - 18:38

The new WLTP standard in the EU has automobile manufacturers scrambling to adapt their plug-in hybrid vehicles to the new emissions regulations. Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes and Porsche have even temporarily halted sales of PHEVs in the EU.

The previous NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) standard in the EU had different testing procedures than the WLTP (Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure), which went into effect earlier this month.

One of the biggest changes is the effect reduction from fully charged batteries, as the assumption is that drivers would not constantly be driving with full batteries, which pushed CO2 emissions above the crucial 50 grams per kilometre. This caused many of the tax benefits offered in various EU nations to no longer apply to various PHEV models. In most cases, a bigger battery will need to be integrated into the vehicles to make them eligible for the tax credit. According to the German VDA, “The vehicles are tested with a full battery, then the test is repeated until the battery is empty, when they are tested again. The CO2 value is then calculated as the ratio of the electrical range to the total range.”

Automobile manufacturers are still testing whether the redesign is worth the cost, considering that a larger battery may have further implications on vehicle design. In the meantime, VW has stopped sales of their compact Golf GTE, which is the fourth best selling hybrid without clarifying when it would be available again. A VW spokesperson added that testing was in a critical stage: “There is a bottleneck with the testing…We have to get priority for highest-volume models.”

Porsche went so far as to pull sales of both their Panamera sedan and the Cayenne SUV, and will not start taking orders again until serial production has begun, according to their spokesperson. Mercedes is not currently offering plug-in hybrids, but will begin sales within the next two months for the S-class and the E-class models. The C-class is not due until next year, and all of the Mercedes PHEVs will yield less than 50g/km of CO2.

Mitsubishi has managed to overhaul their Outlander PHEV ahead of the pack, which currently records 46g/km of CO2, making the vehicle eligible for financial incentives and entry to low-emissions zones. The vehicle downgraded the combustion motor from 2.0 litres to 2.4 litres, while upgrading the battery from 12 kWh to 13.8 kWh.


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BYD expands e-bus factory in Lancaster

Thu, 09/27/2018 - 15:59

BYD has again expanded their electric bus factory in the Californian Lancaster. Another five million dollars will flow into the newly completed 9,290 m² depot, which will bring the total investment cost for the facility to more than 53 million dollars.

The factory currently has a capacity of 1,500 e-buses per year. 270 of these have already been delivered, according to BYD. Another 80 vehicles are currently in production, with another 300 reservations for additional e-buses in the works.

The stock market development for BYD has been positive – in the last ten years, the stock value for the EV and battery manufacturer has increased more than 500%. This should particularly make the US major investor Warren Buffet happy, who had invested about 233 million dollars in BYD via his holding company Holding Berkshire Hathaway.

greencarcongress.com (Lancaster), bloomberg.com (Stock Market)

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Škoda presents PHEV concept with 70 km electric range

Thu, 09/27/2018 - 15:51

The Czech VW brand Škoda has announced plans to present the Vision RS concept at the Paris Motor Show beginning in early October. The concept is a plug-in hybrid with 180 kW system performance and a 70 km electric range.

Škoda has described the concept as an overview of the next development step for the athletic Škoda RS models and the design of a future compact vehicle. The design itself will also reflect the future direction for the Czech company. As another novelty, Škoda announced that material sourcing placed additional focus on using vegan materials as well as sustainable production methods.

The technical details for the concept are as follows: A 100 kW, 1.5 litre gasoline motor provides the major power, combined with a 75 kW electric motor. Combined, this makes for the 180 kW system performance mentioned above. The acceleration was stated to go from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.1 seconds. In total, the compact sports-car will not exceed 33 grams of CO2 per kilometre.

Compared to the market average of 50 km electric range, the Škoda concept surprises with a 70 km electric range, according to NEFC standards. The reason for the boost is a 13 kWh lithium-ion battery with a 2.5 hour charging time.

carscoops.com, autocar.co.uk, skoda-storyboard.com

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Audi e-tron hits 10,000 reservation milestone

Thu, 09/27/2018 - 14:37

Audi has reached and passed the 10,000 reservation milestone for the e-tron around the world, according to head of Audi France, Lahouari Bennaoum. The fully-electric serial model has found popularity with both private and commercial buyers.

According to his statement, Lahouari Bennaoum is expecting that the e-tron will mainly find use as a company car, and currently estimated the orders from private and commercial customers to stand at about 30:70, respectively.

Audi’s first electric SUV was presented recently in San Francisco. The basic price for the vehicle was set at 79,900 euros. The only thing that remains to be seen, is what exactly Audi included in their “extensive serial features”.

Johannes Eckstein, product manager for the e-tron, added that early in the next decade, the Audi e-tron GT would be the first serial model to allow for 350 kW charging. At the Los Angeles Motor Show, the e-tron GT concept presented a brief overview of what we can expect from what the Ingolstadt-based company hails as the “athletic spear-point” for their electrification plans. EV fans will not have to wait until the 2020s for Audi’s next release however; next year, the Audi e-tron Sportback will hit the market, and in 2020 a fully electric compact model will be presented.

The electrification plan has Audi selling more than 2o electrified vehicle models by 2025. About a dozen fully electric vehicles and eight plug-in hybrids are planned.

insideevs.com, autocar.co.uk, automobile-propre.com (In French)

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Audi A4 with added health benefits

Thu, 09/27/2018 - 13:47

There is a most unusual conversion that turns an Audi A4 into a fitness machine. The FitCar PPV is pedal-powered but still said to reach the same performance as the real Audi, only that pedals connected to a flywheel activate the accelerator.

This way, drivers can get the full experience of riding the car, while maintaining the health benefits of riding a bike. The brake pedal was also replaced with a push hand control to keep the driver’s feet clear while pedaling. The designer stated that drivers can burn as much as 300 calories in a 30 minute drive.


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Skoda working on mobility concepts with Prague

Wed, 09/26/2018 - 17:33

Škoda, the city of Prague and the Czech Technical University have agreed to implement concepts for sustainable urban mobility together in the Czech capital. Initiatives will include electric mobility and sharing offers using future Skoda EVs including scooters.

For now the cooperation is a Memorandum of Understanding but the melange of partners from industry, politics and science is to work on integration. Škoda, the government of Prague and the Faculty of Transportation Sciences at the Czech Technical University are summarising their ideas as “urban mobility concepts”.

Particularly Skoda is eager to move along to turn from a car manufacturer to the “Simply Clever company for the best mobility solutions,” says CEO Bernhard Maier.

These solutions are yet to materialise but the partnership says they will focus on concrete projects from the start and plans on using future electric ŠKODA cars to create of a pool of electric scooters for sharing. The sharing system will tie in to the existing travel card for public transport in Prague. In addition, the city together with its transit Operátor ICT, recently introduced the Moje Praha (My Prague) app, which already includes vehicles from Skoda DigiLab’s car-sharing platform HoppyGo.

The first electric model by Skoda will be an electric version of its compact car Citigo that it is to be market ready latest by the end of 2019. The electric car will be based on the VW e-up, but increases the range to 300 km. Nothing is known of future Skoda electric scooters to date so they may just use the same sharing platform.

Volkswagen’s Eastern European label wants to launch five all-electric models until 2025 reportedly. The first model will be built in the Czech plant Mladá Boleslav, which will be producing electrical components for the plug-in hybrid models of several Volkswagen brands from 2019 onwards as well.


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BMZ investing €120M in growing battery business

Wed, 09/26/2018 - 16:48

German supplier BMZ has earmarked 120 million euros to invest in the expansion of its battery factory for various electric vehicles at Karlstein. An additional production hall measuring 3,000 sqm is under construction and BMZ is also building a new logistics centre.

The expansion is set to end in September 2019, then having undergone three construction phases. The logistics hall with space for 1,200 pallets will be completed a month later in October that year. At the same time BMZ is expanding their battery production facilities in Poland and China.

For BMZ the investment follows increasing demand for their battery systems that are in use in electric vehicles reaching from cranes and excavators over buses (growing Eurabus is an example) to electric bikes and robot lawn mowers even.

The new production hall in Karlstein is to built “high-tech products,” says BMZ owner Sven Bauer and adds that the company is looking to hire programmers but also production specialists. Overall, the new hall will create 300 jobs in battery manufacturing in Europe.

BMZ acts as design and assembly specialist and recently secured a supply agreement with LG Chem for battery cells. The Korean company is to deliver a couple hundreds of million cells throughout 2022 so that BMZ may fulfil its obligations to producers of various (light) electric vehicles.


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ZF facilitates converting diesel buses to electric drive

Wed, 09/26/2018 - 15:58

A new solution called e-troFit facilitates the conversion of buses from diesel to electric drives and is the topic of a strategic partnership. ZF Aftermath will supply the system’s components to in-tech, an engineering bureau and integrator based in Munich.

The agreement also includes ZF’s global network that in-tech may use to spread their bridge technology widely. Getting an e-troFit means to switch from diesel engines to electric motors more quickly and effectively turning buses into zero emission transport solutions.

For Helmut Ernst, head of ZF’s Aftermarket Division, e-troFit is a timely offer, particularly as markets are not yet ready to “provide the necessary volume production of electrically driven vehicles until 2025. Until then, converting conventional commercial vehicles to electric drives is an excellent opportunity to substantially support cities in the electrification of public transport and still reach the required climate protection objectives,” he said.

Andreas Hager, head of the Smart Mobility Business Unit at in-tech, adds aspects of cost and time to these thoughts when saying that “for many cities and municipalities, procuring new, electrically powered buses means long waits and high purchasing costs. This is why e-troFit is an ideal alternative that can be quickly realised,” and more cost effectively so. In-tech claims the conversion would only take a few weeks given all components are available.

ZF Aftermath offers its two existing components for this purpose, namely the CeTrax, an electric central drive designed for city buses, and the AxTrax AVE electric portal axle. “CeTrax can be installed directly into the existing vehicle platform without having to make any major modifications,” explains Ernst. Power is at 300 kilowatts and a maximum torque of 4,500 Nm.

The AxTrax AVE electric portal axle can cater to a range of city buses and is suitable for many drives, including hybrid, electric or a fuel cell drive as well as those powered from an overhead wire. Each wheel is driven by a liquid-cooled asynchronous motor to keep the axle weight low. The maximum engine output is 250 kilowatts and a maximum torque of 22,000 Nm.

For now the partners focus to convert solo buses into electric buses, starting in Germany before widening their offer to the rest of Europe.


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Renault to install Europe’s largest 2nd life battery storage

Wed, 09/26/2018 - 14:45

French carmaker Renault and partners have published their plan for an Advanced Battery Storage system. They say it will become the largest energy storage system in Europe reutilising batteries from used electric vehicles. The modular system will comprise of multiple sites across France and Germany.

Renault reasons that their system is to facilitate the integration of renewable energy sources and the stabilisation of the grid within 50 Hz. On more concrete terms, their Advanced Battery Storage project aims to install “the biggest energy stationary storage system using EV batteries ever designed in Europe by 2020,” says a press release.

In numbers, they will reuse 2,000 battery packs from electric vehicles to offer a power of 70 Mw and energy amounting to 60 MWh, equivalent to the daily consumption of a city of 5,000 households.

The system will connect multiple sites in Germany and France. The first such hubs will be built at Renault facilities in French Douai and Cléon. In Germany, a former coal power station in North Rhine-Westphalia will be converted into a new energy powerhouse. They will then expand the project to ultimately reach 60 MWh by 2020.

The gradual expansion is an in-built feature of their modular model that uses EV batteries compiled in containers. Nicolas Schottey, Director of Renault’s New Business Energy programme explains the system’s flexibility: “This unique assembly will give Advanced Battery Storage the capacity to generate or absorb, instantaneously the 70MW power. This high power combined with high capacity of our solution will allow to react efficiently to all major grid solicitations.”

While other carmakers such as Daimler have been looking into similar installations, Renault is predestined for second-life applications as the company have long offered electric vehicles but more so with battery leasing. While this business model has been loosened lately, Renault continues to own many of the power packs used in EVs such as the Kangoo Z.E and Zoe.

Still, they have partners on board for the Advanced Battery Storage project, including La Banque des Territoires, the Mitsui Group, Demeter, and The Mobility House. The latter is also working with Daimler on their energy storage system in a reformed coal plant.


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China’s EV startups turning to established suppliers

Wed, 09/26/2018 - 14:08

News reach us speaking of two strategic cooperations. Electric carmaker WM Motor of China has turned to BorgWarner as a seasoned supplier of electric drives. Also Byton, China’s EV startup with a western all-star board, announced a cooperation with Bosch.

First to the WM Motor and BorgWarner agreement that has been fixed to last over three years. BorgWarner is expected to contribute a number of their electric drive technologies to the partnership, including the eDM module.

This electric drive module has marked the start of the two companies working together already earlier this year, when they announced the eDM would power WM Motor’s first electric SUV, the EX5 they are selling in China.

The now formally advanced cooperation “marks a major step for BorgWarner’s expansion in China’s new-energy vehicle market,” said Tom Tan, President of BorgWarner China. He added they were to “fuel the development of the Chinese electric vehicle industry with our efficient electrical systems and high-performance electric power products.”

The orientation towards China had become apparent earlier this month when the supplier announced they had won contracts with three major carmakers from China. One to work with BorgWarner is Great Wall reportedly. The state-owned company opted for the eDM module as well. It will be used in their upcoming C30 electric vehicle and for electric vehicles of their dedicated EV brand ORA.

BorgWarner offers this component for both electric and hybrid vehicles. BorgWarner is also supplying two unnamed Chinese manufacturers with its coaxial P2 module and electro-hydraulically operated control unit.

And now to Byton, the EV startup of former BMWi man Carsten Breitfeld. The German-led company has turned to Bosch and signed a strategic cooperation agreement in Dusseldorf. They will focus “on powertrain technology, braking systems, and driver assistance systems,” says the press release but details remain unknown. Yet, Byton CEO Breitfeld offered some words on the partnership that “will allow the two sides to share resources, complement advantages, and drive business innovation to jointly offer the customers products with better quality and price.”

Byton is currently preparing for series production of its first electric car. Based on the M-Byte concept the SUV is set for launch in late 2019. Moreover, Byton unveiled a second electric car concept, the K-Byte at this year’s CES in Asia reportedly.

borgwarner.com (BorgWarner), reuters.com (Bosch)

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