Daimler is in talks with Beijing Electric Vehicle (BJEV), a unit of its Chinese partner Beijing Automotive Group to start building the electric Smart in China. The information was revealed by sources close to the matter but yet awaits official confirmation.
In light of recent changes to the management of Smart as well as China’s push for new energy vehicles, such a move would make sense though. Moreover, Daimler has been working with the state-owned group since 2005 when making cars for the mainland.
In the case of the tiny city cars, the sources suggest, Daimler would look to set up a dedicated joint venture. It could take over production of the electric Smart as well as tying the offering closer to the mind and needs of buyers in China.
Smart is currently undergoing a regrouping as Daimler seeks to turn the brand into an all-electric label. While this move is likely to make them future-safe and to position Smart firmly within Daimler’s EQ network, it has led to falling or stagnating sales in the short-term. This is to change not only with increasing sales in China but also a new CEO. Daimler has appointed Katrin Adt to lead the Smart brand into its electric future as she will succeed Annette Winkler this September reportedly. Like Winkler, Adt is a Daimler veteran and has held leading positions since 1999. Her challenge will be to reverse the trend of falling sales during the time of transition. For Winkler, the decision to let go of the reins at Smart had been an amicable one with Winkler saying “one of the key responsibilities of every executive is to pass on leading positions to the next generation at the right time”.
In Europe, Daimler will flick the switch to run smart fully electrically in 2020 (we reported). Moreover their Hambach facility is already preparing to become a hub of electric car production within the wider Daimler EQ network and the factory has been producing the electric Smart Fortwo for some time now (we reported).
Automation specialist Kuka has received a mayor order from the GAC Group based in Guangzhou. They ordered 430 industrial robots for building electric cars on a mass scale as GAC’s is modernising their EV production in Guangzhou.
The order value lies in the high double-digit million euro range according to Kuka. The specialist firm also counts Tesla among their clients. Still, the order from China is a strategic advance. Says Dr. Till Reuter, CEO of KUKA AG: “We are further strengthening our position in the growth market of Asia and profiting from the megatrend towards automation.”
To automate their production line, GAC opted for robots of the KR QUANTEC series & KR FORTEC series. They will be used for joining and handling tasks in body-in-white production. The order includes the cloud-based platform KUKA Connect. It affords customers easy access to the data of their robots.
The order has been placed in Q2 2018. A date for delivery has not been disclosed. However, GAC has been seen readying itself for moving into the new energy vehicle market. Even joint venture partner Toyota will sell GAC’s ix4 through their showrooms reportedly. Moreover, GAC is planning to have 4 all-electric cars in their lineup by 2020 (we reported).
In order to secure battery supply, the Chinese automobile manufacturer teamed up with CATL recently. They have founded two joint ventures in Guangzhou to produce and market batteries for BEVs and PHEVs. With a starting capital of 1 billion yuan (about 127 million euro) the first JV, called Amperex GAC Power Battery will focus on manufacturing and developing batteries, as well as after-sales and a consulting service. The second one will start with a fund of 100 million Yuan (13 million euro) and will be called GAC Amperex Power Battery System. Their focus is exclusively on battery development and sales. GAC and CATL each own 51 and 49% of the companies, respectively.
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The British government has awarded a total of 35M pounds to three projects involving players such as Nissan and Aston Martin. They are developing low carbon technology with funding through the UK’s Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) with industry matching the investment.
The projects will feed into the Road to Zero strategy of the British government aiming to decarbonise transport. Therefore, all three projects selected deal with zero emission or low-carbon propulsion technology.
Take Aston Martin for example. Together with hofer powertrain they are developing a new generation of e-axle transmissions, e-motor and inverter modules, which will be manufactured in the UK. The project is expected to build the UK’s e-mobility skills as well.
Then there are Nissan and Ceres working on fuel cells together. Ceres will lead a project to develop a compact, high power density, solid oxide fuel cell specifically designed to extend the range of electric light commercial vehicles. Ceres Power and The Welding Institute (TWI) have been awarded a total of £8 million from the UK government for this project. The so-called SteelCell can generate power from conventional fuels such as natural gas and from sustainable fuels such as biogas, ethanol or hydrogen. Made from mass-market and widely available materials, the solution is cost-effective, robust and scalable, Ceres claims.
Other project consortiums are made up of companies including Artemis Intelligent Power and Danfross and Robbie Fluid. According to the APC, the projects have the potential to save about 3 million tonnes CO2.
Utility E.On has announced to begin equipping their charging stations in accordance with the German Weights and Measures Law (Eichrecht). The solution called SAM has been developed by EBG Compleo and enables E.On to accurately calculate the price of charging both per minute and kWh.
Already back in March this year, E.ON had introduced fixed tariffs across its entire network of about 4,000 charging points in Germany. The new SAM technology now enables the utility to open their charging stations for roaming while complying with German law.
The module by EBG Compleo is part of all new AC charging stations of E.ON. They will also retrofit existing charge columns bit by bit. Moreover, E.ON and EBG are working on a solution to integrate SAM in DC charging stations as well.
PI via email
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When Tesla is teaming up with Atari you can expect some fun. Still, the reason for the partnership is a more serious one as the software update 9.0 is coming up – for Tesla, not the game maker.
This time round, the EV manufacturer will include more autonomous features but the upcoming Tesla software update 9.0 will take Elon Musk back to his roots as dot.com pioneer as well.
Old Atari games will be hidden as Easter Eggs. Pole Position is one of the games to be included and Musk indicated it may connect to the actual steering wheel – when parked. So rather than sweeten a ride on Autopilot, the Atari games may shorten the wait at the Supercharger.
FedEx subsidiary FedEx Express has greened their fleet in China. They deployed 48 pure electric vehicles across 13 Chinese cities. The move is part of a strategy to increase efficiency of FedEx’ 90,000 vehicle fleet by 2025.
The fleet in China consists of 2,800 vehicles in total. While 48 electric vehicles does not sound like a lot, they will save about 2,500 litres of fuel per year says FedEx and mark the start of a potentially wider electrification.
FedEx Express currently has more than 2,800 transportation vehicles in China and it will continue to explore the feasibility of expanding the use of new energy vehicles in the country. Says Jimmy Chen, regional vice president of FedEx China: “We continuously develop and use innovative technologies to reduce our environmental impact.”
The new electric vehicles built by SAIC Maxus can travel around 220 kilometres on a single charge. The model EG10 and EV80 have a cargo capacity around 1.5 tons.
Globally, FedEx Express has a goal to increase vehicle efficiency by 50 percent for its 90,000 vehicle fleet by 2025, based off a 2005 baseline. As of fiscal year 2017, FedEx’s vehicle efficiency goal sat at close to 38 percent.
Spanish bus maker Irizar has received an order from Aix-en-Provence, where public transport operator RDT 13 is expecting to receive 15 electric tram buses. The contract includes charging infrastructure and maintenance.
The first electric bus is to take up service next April, while the order is to be completed by September 2019. The new buses will be called L’Aixpress and will connect the western part of the city of Aix en Provence with the southern part.
Operator RDT 13 (la Régie Départementale des Transports des Bouches-du-Rhône) also asked Irizar to provide charging infrastructure. It takes the form of pantographs for opportunity charging stations at the beginning and end of the line. Other charging stations are to be installed in the depot. Frequent opportunity charging is necessary for the L’Aixpress buses as they have been scheduled to run every 5 minutes while stopping every 350 metres. Also, the battery has a said range of 50 kilometres and being rather small means it can be recharged sufficiently in just 4 minutes, according to Irizar.
The 12 metre long Irizar ie-tram ordered by the French university town seats 22 passengers and has space for a total of 78 persons. The buses will be build in Spain where Irizar recently opened a new factory. For now, they make one electric vehicle every 2 days but plan to increase production to one electric bus per day from September reportedly.
Demand has come from close to home as well as from other European countries. Madrid was among the first to utilise electric buses made in Spain reportedly. Furthermore, Irizar has recently entered a cooperation with Ferrostaal to sell and deliver electric vehicles across the DACH region.
Tesla has made some changes to the pricing model for the Model 3 again: After the upgrade to AWD was lowered from $5,000 to $4,000 at the end of June, the price has gone back up to it’s initial $5,000.
That means the Model 3 with all-wheel drive costs $54,000 now. The added features also had their prices raised. While black is still the standard design colour, the pearl white multi coat and the red multi coat now cost $2,000 instead of $1,500.
It looks like Tesla is attempting to reach a higher profit margin. After the second quarter of this year showed the planned production increase, Tesla aims to be profitable for the first time by the end of the year. Revenue had climbed to a new record for Tesla, but expenses still lowered the bottom line to the red area. Slightly above the previous quarterlies, however, giving Tesla good chances to make it.
The US government behind Donald Trump has gotten more specific with the measures announced in April that would loosen environmental requirements for vehicles. California and 18 other states have already announced their intention to defy the regulation.
The traffic safety agency NHTSA and the environmental agency EPA have recommended that the rules for fuel consumption be frozen until 2026. Special interest groups have 60 days to respond.
The recommendation was made “to ensure access to safe, affordable vehicles that are safe for the environment”, according to the NHTSA and the EPA. High vehicle prices have been steadily blamed on the stricter regulations enacted by the Obama administration to begin addressing climate change. The initial regulation had directed the fleet consumption for personal and small utility vehicles to be lowered to about 4.4 litres per 100 km by 2025. The loosening of the requirements can largely be traced to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers; the people producing the cars. They should be happy with the new federal directives.
The plan change would also mean that manufacturers don’t have to bring as many electrified vehicles onto the roads either. Another aspect is that states will no longer be allowed to make their own laws and regulations on the subject – particularly California. Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, has stated the EPA initiative is a giant heap of bad ideas. He worries that the new regulations would actually increase pollution, rather than curb it. His organization has already vowed to fight the regulation publicly and in courts.
California also announced continued resistance: “The Trump administration has launched a brazen attack, no matter how it is cloaked, on our nation’s Clean Car Standards,” said California attorney general Xavier Becerra. He vowed to use every tool at his disposal to fight the legislation. The statements were made in a joint conference with governor Edmund Brown Jr. and head of the California environmental agency CARB, Mary Nichols. Next to California, another 18 states have announced their intention to block and fight the legislation.
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The Chinese manufacturer DearCC, who is mainly known for small, affordable EVs, has founded a premium brand named Enovate. They also presented a teaser for their first vehicle: an electric SUV.
Officially, the new brand will launch in the second half of 2018. DearCC is planning three vehicle platforms, which are designed to benefit from autonomous driving and connectivity. In the next five years, they will release eight vehicle models and aim for an annual sales target of 360,000 vehicles by 2025. The company also plans to serve leasing, luxury and sharing markets for vehicles, next to private sales.
In key cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Shaoxing and Changsha a series of Brand-Experience-Centres have been opened by DearCC. The company also has running partnerships with Star Charge, Teld and Tuhu.cn, to set up a charging and after-sales network. At the start of July, they also signed an agreement with the Westtiger Automobile, who received a manufacturing license from DearCC for SUVs. The debut EV by Enervate will be built in Shaoxing thanks to this agreement.
After the sale of Nissan’s battery business to the Chinese GSR Capital company fell apart recently, the Japanese vehicle manufacturer has now found a new buyer with the Envision Group.
The renewable energy company has struck a definitive arrangement for the sale of the battery section of Nissan, including patents and factories. The workers employed in the locations will all also be kept on in their current positions. The HQ and the development centres of the company will also stay in Japan.
The takeover of the Nissan subsidiary Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC) also includes the battery factory in Smyrna, Tennessee and Sunderland, UK. Envision will also take over the Japanese battery development and production centres in Oppama, Atsugi and Zama. Nissan will retain 25% of the new business in the arrangement. The deal will likely be finalized by March 2019.
In a unique delivery, Elon Musk himself came to deliver a Model 3 to one of his customers. The reason for the visit was the testing of a new delivery system, where the vehicle is brought directly from the factory to the customer using an enclosed trailer.
Elon noted it was “super convenient” and that this would save the plastic wrapping normally used on cars.
The bus operator Busitalia Veneto in Padua has ordered six electric buses from BYD. The six 12m buses will likely be delivered in the next months.
Italy is fertile ground for the Chinese manufacturer: As of 2014, BYD e-buses have been on Milan’s streets, and in Turin and Novara as of last year. The new buses in Padua will bring the total of BYD buses in Italy to 31.
Even if orders are starting to pour in from all over the world, the most lucrative market for BYD is still back home in China. Two weeks ago, the company made an ad-hoc announcement to investors that they had pulled two very large orders on land to deliver e-buses. This time for more than 4,000 electric buses for a number of companies in Guangzhou.
After a small electric plane was tested by the Slovenian manufacturer Pipistrel in Norway, it now took to the skies again in Finland for another test flight. This time the Pipistrel Alpha Electro took off from the Helsinki-Malmi airport.
The Alpha Electro is a two seated electric plane, with an empty weight of 350 kg, including the battery. At the start of the year, the manufacturer successfully completed testing in Australia. The final version of the plane will have a 50 kW e-motor, with a 21 kWh battery packet, which will allow for an hour of flight.
The model that took to the skies above Finland was purchased by the Helsinki Electric Aviation Association. Their head of the board Janne Vasama spoke of taking a first step towards electrified transportation in Finland. “At the moment, the biggest costs in aviation are fuel and maintenance. With electric planes, these are both only about one tenth of what they are for regular planes.”
Ambitious plans, such as Norway has, where all short distance flights are supposed to be electric by 2040, have not been made in Finland. Norway is not only planning to change the entire airline energy basis by 2040, but also plans to open a test stretch in 2025.
The Finnish company Q-Yachts has presented a fully electric yacht with a minimal design. The boat, called the Q30, has enough space for up to eight passengers. The price has not been specified yet.
The technical details have been revealed, though: The yacht will have a continuous performance of 20 kW and a top speed up to 15 knots. A 30 kWh battery will be installed for the serial version, which allows fo a range of 42 nautical miles (78 km). Customers can also opt for a larger 60 kWh battery, which allows for a range of 80 nautical miles.
The Scandinavian flavour is definitely noticeable regarding the boat’s design. The Q30 is very minimal, offering white seating with a small table and lounging area. Beneath the deck, there is a small cabin which lets in natural light thanks to a small porthole.
The German federal cabinet has decided to give the 0.5% tax ruling for corporate electric and hybrid vehicles purchased between 2019 and 2021. This effectively halves the tax rate for corporate EVs.
The government hopes to increase demand for electrified vehicles, and is taking potentially 1.96 billion euro loss in taxes for it. Leading German parties CDU and SPD had already announced their plan to improve e-mobility in the nation. German transport minister Andreas Scheuer said: “This will also enable an active second hand car market to establish itself. This makes e-vehicles cheaper and more interesting for a broad customer group.”
Environmental groups have criticized the tax gift as misguided, saying that it most benefits the least environmentally friendly NEVs, particularly heavy hybrids. Also environmentally friendly forms of transport, such as bicycles, would not benefit at all under the tax programme.
Xiaopeng Motors has finished a round of financing with 4 billion Yuan (587 million dollars) in funding. The first vehicle model by the manufacturer is scheduled to hit the market this year.
In total, Xiaopeng has managed to collect more than 10 billion Yuan from investors so far. In winter, Foxconn and Alibaba joined the investor group as well. This time the new faces included Primavera Capital, Morningside Venture Capital and the head of the company itself, He Xiaopeng. The company had indicated plans to generate a total of 2.7 billion dollars over the course of the year. Xiaopeng was recently rated as valued over 25 billion Yuan.
So much to financial background: the production plans are as follows. The electric crossover G3 will hit the market this year. This is in all likeliness the Xpeng introduced as a concept last year. The development of the BEV was heavily based on freely available Tesla patents. The electric vehicle has a range of 300 km and will cost around 40,800 euro.
Furthermore, Xiaopeng has announced plans to open 150 fast charging stations in China, as well as opening multiple stores in the larger cities in China.
Tesla has released their business report for Q2 2018, and the numbers indicate that Tesla is heading towards being profitable quite soon. The revenue was at record levels for the company, but at the end of the day, Tesla is still in the red, albeit less so than at the end of the last quarter.
The numbers are specifically a record profit of 4 billion dollars between April and June. At the same time, the company also noted the largest loss, with 743 million dollars, which has steadily been increasing over time as well. The loss in Q4 of 2017 had been 675 million, followed by 709 million dollars in Q1 2018. As for the debt accrued by the company, the numbers are still in the red, however the growing revenue gives us the impression the Californians are heading for a “light red” some time soon: The profit grew from 3.3 to 3.4 to the current 4 billion dollars. CEO Elon Musk has also confirmed the plan to become profitable by the second half of this year, which looks increasingly likely now that Model 3 production has stabilized.
The EV manufacturer had made some serious effort to reach the ambitious 5,000 per week production goal for the Model 3 by the end of June, including the setup of a tent outside the Fremont factory with its own assembly line and flying in components from Grohmann instead of shipping them. In the middle of July, Tesla announced new targets: In Q3, they plan on producing between 50,000 and 55,000 vehicles, approaching production numbers of 6,000 per week by the end of this month, and hitting the 10,000 per week mark “as soon as possible”. Tesla realistically expects this mile-stone to be hit some time next year, for a number of reasons, including suppliers. The Gigafactory 1 only (!) reached a production rate 20 GWh per year at the end of July.
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Swedish company Awake is launching its electric surfboard RÄVIK today. Its spec is designed to make mighty waves as it can accelerate to 30 knots (56 kph) in four seconds. Just the €18,900 price tag seems way outside your average surfer’s budget.
An 80 minute charge time enables a 40 minute ride on the board, which seems ample considering the speeds. The carbon fibre body weighs 35 kg including the battery.
After the city of Paris decided not to continue the car-sharing program Autolib by Bolloré a month ago, the service was officially shut down on July 31. The 4,000 electrified vehicles will now disappear from Paris’s streets.
According to Autolib, about half of the vehicles will be scrapped, while others will be used to boost Bolloré’s EV sharing service in Lyon, Turin and Bordeaux, as well as selling some to private businesses.
What will happen to the approximately 6,000 charging stations and their parking spots in Paris has not been sorted out yet. It is quite sure that Renault and PSA are lining up to set up a follow-up service to the car-sharing service starting in September, however both of these will use free-floating principles in their service.
Renault has already specified some things regarding their car-sharing service. The plan is to cooperate with ADA to set up a service called Moov’in with 100 Zoe and 20 Twizy on the streets of the eleventh and twelfth arrondissement, as well as Clichy to the north of the capital. After a trial period, the plan it to eventually expand the fleet to 2,000 by the end of next year.
Renault is the first of several manufacturers moving on the newly available business opportunity in Paris. It has also been announced that the city is not planning on basing the service exclusively with any particular service, but plans to make arrangements with several companies.