General Motors has announced their restructuring of the leadership department to prepare for electric mobility. Three executives will now be moving to new positions as GM is ramping up their electrification efforts.
Pamela Fletcher, who was named Vice President of Global Electric Vehicles less than a year ago, will now be taking over as the innovation manager, starting on the first of October. She will directly report to CEO Mary Barra.
Her previous post will then be taken over by her former boss, Doug Parks. Additionally, the company created a new position of Vice President of EV Infrastructure, where Michael Ableson will be taking over.
In Qatar, an ambitious project was recently presented, in which the nation plans to set up a factory for electrified vehicles in the Gulf nation. The factory is planned to be in operation by the time the world cup kicks off in 2022.
The Qatar Quality Trading Company will be receiving technical assistance from the Japanese Softbank-owned chip manufacturers ARM for their planned production complex. The production complex will then consist of six factories and twelve production lines, which will begin as soon as the necessary permissions have been granted.
Takayuki Hirayama, CEO of ARM, explained that three years after production begin, a capacity of 500,000 vehicles is planned. The full production capacity will be reached after seven years, when all twelve production lines will be actively running around the clock, according to Musa Ramadan, CEO of the Qatar Quality Trading Company. The vehicles will be sold around the globe.
Next to the announcement for the factory, the first model was also announced. The BEV will have a 500 kW performance capacity, with a 1,000 km range. As for the charging time, an astronomical 10 minutes were specified by the future manufacturers.
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Porsche is accelerating their electrification plans: It was now announced that between 2022 and 2025, a fully electric version of the Macan, Cayenne, Boxster and Panamera will be made available. As of 2027, only the 911 will drive with a combustion motor.
For Porsche CEO Oliver Blume, it appears that simultaneous production of combustion vehicles alongside producing EVs may simply be too expensive. This also applies to the plug-in hybrid versions, which is why only the 911 will receive a hybrid motor system. The plan is to convert to a sales model where 75% of vehicles sold by 2025 are electrified.
In July, the talk had been that Porsche plans to have every second vehicle sold electrified, and the number had been split between electric and hybrid transmissions at 50% of the production volume, each. The plan has now changed to something faster and more specialized. However, only the plan to electrify the Taycan in 2019 has been officially confirmed by the supervisory board, and the final decision for this rapid electrification plan will be decided this fall, including more new vehicle provisions. A possible direction was presented at the Geneva Motor Show with the Mission E Cross Turismo, while an electric version of the off-road sedan Macan will also likely be approved. The electric Boxster, Panamera and Macan would then be released on the market somewhere between 2022 and 2025.
Under the title SPE, Porsche is also developing an electric construction platform for electric two-door sports vehicles. The platform may also see use by Audi and Lamborghini as well. Audi and Porsche are also developing the Premium Platform Electric (PPE) together, which will provide the basis for the electric Macan.
The e-mobility offensive will cost the German manufacturers billions, without a quick return on investment, which is why CEO Oliver Blume has also announced cuts in other sections over the next three years to save costs. He aims to reduce operating costs by six billion over the time period, which also corresponds to the planned investment price for the electrification.
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The Chinese firm Ganfeng Lithium has signed an agreement with Tesla for the delivery of lithium hydroxide. The agreement runs from 2018 until 2020, with an option to extend for another three years. Ganfeng Lithium will deliver one fifth of their total lithium hydroxide stock to Tesla.
EV suppliers generally need to secure supplies of lithium for their future batteries. Tesla alone may need up to 28,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide per year to meet the demand for their vehicles, by the end of next year. This would then all flow into the cooperation with Panasonic, who is manufacturing Tesla’s batteries.
At the end of August, LG Chem signed an agreement with the Chinese suppliers for the delivery of 48,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide until the end of 2022. This would be sufficient, according to LG Chem, to manufacture batteries for up to one million EVs with a range up to 320 km.
Between the two deals, Ganfeng has officially sealed the two largest deals ever of the lithium industry. Furthermore, the announcement of the deals will likely be instrumentalized to find further investors at the planned stock market entry in Hong Kong and sponsor further expansion for the company.
The Tesla Model 3 has received the highest recommendation from the US NHTSA for safety. Similarly impressive reviews had also been given to the Model X and Model S in the past.
It is not uncommon for vehicles to receive a five star rating from the US National Highway Traffic Safety Association, but to receive a perfect score in all sub-categories is quite an achievement. The following videos explain and show the Model 3’s behavior during various crash-test scenarios and safety tests:
The positive review comes at a time when the Model 3 sales are picking up: In the past two weeks alone, Tesla reportedly received 1,124 orders for the Performance Version alsone.
An airplane from the US DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) was forced to crash land on a public road near Houston due to mechanical problems. Fortunately, the accident did not cause any casualties, however the plane collided with several power lines and vehicles, including a Tesla Model X.
The driver credited his deity and his car with saving his life, and looking at the images from the crash, it was quite lucky nobody was on foot. Adding insult to injury, it seems that the poor driver’s incident was not initially taken seriously by anyone, as airplane crashes on the road are thankfully quite uncommon: “No one believed me when I called them to let them know a plane crashed into me. Tesla, people thought It was a prank call. Wife laughed at me at first..”
If nothing else, the accident provides a testament to the safety of the electric SUVs, and that despite crash testing for airplanes not really being a category to begin with.
Parking for an unnecessarily long time at a Tesla Supercharger is becoming more expensive. The current fee of 40 cents (US$) which begins five minutes after completion of the charging process, is being increased to 50 cents, if at least half of the supercharger spots are occupied. If all spots are taken, it will go up to a whole dollar per minute.
The fee was first introduced towards the end of 2016, when Tesla started experimenting with ways to ensure that drivers would not have to unnecessarily wait for chargers. The Tesla app allows users to accurately follow the charging process from their mobile, and notifies users five minutes before the charging process is finished, and again when it is completed. After this point, drivers have five minutes to move their vehicle, before Tesla begins charging. The fees also apply in Europe with the same conditions, only in euros.
Telsa also announced that the unpaid charging fees would only be allowed to reach 50 dollars, before access to the network is blocked.
The announcement came shortly after Tesla announced an end to free charging for Californians who newly purchase a Tesla. In the meantime, new customers only receive a 100 dollar credit for the service, which has applied for Model 3 buyers without the Performance Package for the last year, before it was applied to all customers recently.
The Swedish bus operator Nobina has ordered 26 electric buses from BYD, which will be delivered in the summer of 2019. With the new order, BYD counts more than 100 orders for their buses in Scandinavia.
The order specifically requires eleven 12m buses for use in Lidköping, ten 18m articulated buses for Borås and five Midi buses (8.7m) for use in the Ale community. BYD announced that the Midi buses would be the first of theirs to be delivered to Scandinavia. Orders for buses of this type were only marked from the Netherlands and Italy so far. Furthermore, Sweden is the second country in Europe to use BYD articulated buses.
Isbrand Ho, Managing Director from BYD Europe, underlined that “Scandinavia has become the fastest growing market for BYD in Europe and is a remarkable success story particularly given both the tough climatic conditions and the strong competitors.” The Chinese manufacturer announced that they have sold more than 600 buses in Europe.
The Dutch HPC company Fastned has opened their second high power charging station in Germany on the A33 near Paderborn. Furthermore, the company are finding success with their legal claim against Shell charging stations.
Fastned’s first HPC park was set up near the A3 in June this year, which is now joined by a second facility near the 150,000 citizen city Paderborn. There customers can use chargers with capacities from 50kW to 175 and 350 kW.
Fastned is following their goal to establish a network of more than 1,000 high speed chargers across Europe, with several hundred being located in Germany. Before the end of this year, the Netherlands-based company plans to open a total of 17 stations in Germany. In Holland, the company is currently operating 76 charging stations. The expansion is particularly aimed at Belgium and the UK, next to Germany.
Furthermore, Fastned has also found first successes with their legal claim against the Rijkswaterstaat government, who gave Shell permission to construct charging stations at locations already promised to Fastned. The company sees themselves at a disadvantage, as they are not permitted to set up shops at their charging stations or set up signs on the highway.
As Fastned now announced, the highest Dutch court has decided that the claim is valid, going against an earlier decision by an Amsterdam court.
Hyundai has presented a new fuel cell truck named the Fuel Cell Electric Truck in Hannover, and has announced a cooperation with the Swiss hydrogen provider H2 Energy to begin next year. Over the next five years, the two will create a fleet of 5,000 vehicles, as well as bring them to market.
Hyundai has already addressed the personal vehicle market with their fuel cell vehicles ix35 Fuel Cell from 2013, and the Nexo from last year, so now the South Korean manufacturers engineers are setting their sights on the utility vehicle market.
The result is the Fuel Cell Electric Truck with eight integrated hydrogen tanks and a 400 km range. The 18 tonne vehicle (34 tonnes with the trailer attached) can hold approximately 33 kg of hydrogen in its tanks, and uses an electric motor with a peak performance of 350 kW and max. torque of 3,400 Nm.
The Swiss company H2E, which is generally specialized on the production and delivery of renewable hydrogen in Germany, Norway and Austria, will begin marketing a fleet of the trucks in the coming year. The plan is to start with their Swiss customers, particularly members of the Swiss H2 Association, which is an organization combining several gas station operators, retailers and other customers from the field of hydrogen. The corresponding agreement was signed at the IAA Commercial Vehicles.
Cheol Lee, Hyundai’s head of the utility vehicle division, views the agreement as an important step to commercialize fuel cell trucks, going as far as stating: “We are yet again advancing the field of fuel cell technology in the automotive industry with today’s announcement of our ambition to commercialize the fuel cell electric truck for the first time in the world”. Hyundai will continue to look for opportunities to expand their fuel cell business in the future. During the Winter Olympic Games earlier this year in Pyeongchang, the company provided fuel cell buses, for example. Currently, they are also testing pilot programmes in South Korea’s major cities.
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Following in the footsteps of Sweden and Germany, Italy will now also convert a section of their roads to a so-called e-highway with overhead cables for electrified trucks. They will also be testing the hybrid truck from Scania with overhead current collectors on the stretch of the A35.
The A35 connects the northern Italian Lombardy region cities Brescia, Bergamo and Milan. To begin, the project will focus on a six km stretch of the highway between the Romani di Lombardia and Calcio exits, and the long-term goal is to establish the first “zero impact” e-highway in Europe, which will provide power along the 62.1 km stretch using solar panels.
Specifically, the hybrid trucks will draw power from the overhead lines, using overhead collectors mounted behind the drivers cabin. This will allow the vehicles to charge while driving. The other partners involved in the project include Scania, Siemens, representatives of the A35 Brebemi and the Concessioni Autostradali Lombarde. The first two partners are also cooperating on two similar projects in Sweden and Germany.
After BMW and Daimler announced their intention to bundle their car-sharing capacities from DriveNow and Car2Go, the fusion is starting to take a more definite shape. The manufacturers announced that their planned joint venture will be based in Berlin.
Furthermore, the two companies have officially applied for permission to found a joint venture with the EU. The joint venture will combine the current offers for on-demand mobility from car-sharing (Car2Go, DriveNow), ride-hailing (Mytaxi, Chauffeur Privé, Clever Taxi, Beat), EV charging (ChargeNow, Digital Charging Solutions) and multi-modality (Moovel, ReachNow), as well as further expanding them.
The two southern Germany-based partners made a poignant choice to expand to the nations capital further north: the mobility service is planned to develop entirely outside of their traditional company structures. Daimler’s chairman of the board Dieter Zetsche explained it as follows: “Our vision is to create a major global player for seamless and intelligent connected mobility services together. As a hub for creativity and innovation, Berlin is exactly the right location for our plans.”
Between Car2Go and DriveNow, a total of 20,000 vehicles in 31 international major cities are on the roads. More than four million customers are currently using their e-mobility services. The ride-hailing services are also already well-developed, as mytaxi, Chauffeur Privé, Clever Taxi (All based in Europe) and Beat (South America) are currently serving almost 16 million customers with more than 170,000 drivers. The two companies plan to significantly increase the number of EVs in these fleets.
Finally, the companies seek to address issues in the economic sustainability of car-sharing services. Particularly the free-floating car sharing concept presents issues. As a result, Car2Go was even forced to shrink their service area last October in Stuttgart. Compared to international competitors such as Uber or Didi from the USA and China, respectively, the new size puts them on a more serious course. The coordination by the two automobile manufacturers can only help here.
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The oil corporation Total has purchased the French charging infrastructure specialist G2Mobility, hailing the move as “a pivotal step in improving our electric vehicle charging offering”. Furthermore, Total announced a cooperation with the cable manufacturer Nexans.
Total is purchasing the infrastructure specialists from their former owners, which include Nexans, for an unpublished price. The acquisition will give Total control over a total of almost 10,000 new charging stations. Alongside, Total’s planned cooperation with Nexans will provide them access to their production capacities and industrial know-how to expand the charging network.
This is not the first time that the French oil company has made a broad move to address the incoming e-mobility shift. A year ago, they announced a cooperation with charging infrastructure supplier NewMotion, to provide access to the 50,000 chargers for their customers across 25 European nations. Furthermore, their subsidiary Saft is focusing on battery development. In February, Saft announced a cooperation with Siemens, Solvay and Manz to found a European Battery Alliance to research, develop and industrialize future battery generations, including for use in EVs.
Their competition from the oil industry is not far behind, however: Their British counterpart BP announced plans to purchase charging specialist Chargemaster in June. Shell purchased the charging infrastructure specialist NewMotion about a year ago.
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The German battery system manufacturer Voltabox has completed another corporate takeover: This time, the expansion cost 5 million euros, going to a German supplier of battery systems specialized on pedelecs; Accurate Smart Battery Systems.
Voltabox stated that their takeover would expand their product portfolio of high performance batteries, as well as gaining additional access to “select mass markets with our modern and efficient lithium-ion technology”. Accurate provides them with an important “piece of the puzzle” regarding full-service services for electrification, according to the Voltabox CEO Jürgen Pampel.
Accurate, which was founded in 2012, has been specializing on standardized and complex battery systems, including technology from battery management to charging. Accurate particularly focused on the areas of pedelecs, e-bikes, golf trolleys and scooters.
The takeover itself will take place in a series of steps – first, Voltabox will move their sales unit Voltaforce to the Stuttgart region, where Accurate has been active. By the end of this year, Accurate will be moving into a new building close to their current HQ in Korntal-Münchingen, while the leadership of the unit will remain with Accurate boss Marcel Wilke. At a later point, the two entities will fully integrate.
Voltabox has been on the expansion course for some time now: At the end of June, the Germans also acquired the US American company Navitas Systems, who was a specialist for battery systems in the intralogistic area. This provided Voltabox with their initial access to battery cell technology, even if only in the custom products. Their main supply still comes from suppliers in China, Korea, Japan and the USA, however the addition of Navitas enables Voltabox to deal with custom applications in-house.
Furthermore, Voltabox also announced their intention of entering the direct sales market of their battery systems for intralogistics solutions. To that end, the company also expanded their 2015 cooperation with Triathlon Batteries in the same field, as well as the takeover of the engineering service provider Concurrent Design in April.
The automobile supplier ZF has presented a new electric transport an at the IAA Commercial Vehicles, which will use Level 4 autonomous driving functions for last-mile transportation. Serial production is set to begin in two years.
More and more suppliers are entering the market for electrically powered package logistics vehicles. Now ZF is presenting their own concept, as well. Performance data has not been issued for the vehicle, as the manufacturers are more interested in exploring the possibilities of intelligent networking, autonomous driving functions and electric motor systems, as well as serial production of these features. The vehicle will then eventually add features such as a “follow me” mode, so it can autonomously support delivery staff with their work.
The ZF leadership is convinced that autonomous driving technology will break through fast in the utility vehicle branch than with personal vehicles, citing lower operation costs :”The cost, safety and efficiency benefits for customers will make a difference here.” Particularly last-mile deliveries are of interest to the manufacturers.
What we do know about the ZF Innovation Van so far, follows: The technological model is based on the high speed processor ZF ProAI, as well as a sensor set including a camera, radar and lidar system for navigation. Thanks to Level 4 autonomous driving capabilities, the transporter can independently maneuver through urban areas. Adding to the autonomous driving capacities, ZF stated that the van can “stay in its lane even if without road markings, recognize both traffic lights and road signs and react to sudden hazardous situations. In addition, the Innovation Van can detect and drive around obstacles such as double-parked vehicles.”
The “FollowMe” function is probably the most innovative feature for a vehicle of this size: using a tablet running an app as a remote, the vehicle can autonomously follow the delivery person as if it were on a “digital leash”. The driver can also send the vehicle ahead or tell it to meet them somewhere, in which case the vehicle will enter the designated area and look for a parking spot.
ZF is already engaged in concrete talks with multiple customers, according to their statements. The concept is proving popular so far. In the next five years, ZF announced, they will also be investing more than 12 million euros in the branches of e-mobility and autonomous driving.
Peugeot has announced their e-Legend concept, which is a fully electric and autonomous homage to the popular Peugeot 504 Coupé. The premiere of the e-Legend will take place at the Paris Motor Show in early October.
Design director Gilles Vidal described the concept as follows: “A modern, sharper Coupé, this ultra-technological archetype of automotive pleasure finds its deep strength in the DNA of the Peugeot 504 Coupé.” The vehicle platform used as a basis for the e-Legend is a specially developed platform for concept vehicles. The design features a headlight setup reminiscent of older Peugeot models with a triple partition and two double modules. Almost the entire vehicle is made of carbon.
As much as the concept visually reminds us of the classic, it looks very different under the hood: A 340 kW motor with a maximum torque of 800 Nm accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in less than four seconds. The top speed is limited to 220 km/h. A 100 kWh battery allows for a range of 600 km, according to WLTP standards. Charging the battery takes place through an inductive system, which can fully charge the vehicle sufficiently for a 500 km range within only 25 minutes.
The interior is designed to remind us of the 60s era with dark wood paneling, but breaks through with the odd modern design element, such as the sixteen screens of a variety of sizes mounted inside the vehicle. In part, they digitally represent interpretations of real materials, but also provide information to the driver and passengers. The highlight is a 49 inch screen under a soundbar, flanked by a 29 inch screen in each of the doors and 12 inch screens in the sun visors.
The manufacturers estimate that the components and technologies in the vehicle would be ready for manufacturing by 2025, according to Phillipe Emmanuel Jean, Peugeot’s head of concept car strategies.
While the PSA subsidiary will be presenting their new model at the Paris Motor Show, another subsidiary is ahead in their game: the premium brand DS is preparing to launch their DS 3 Crossback as a fully electric SUV in the second half of 2019.
While the government of Wales is promoting the use of low emission vehicles and spent £2 million on EV charging points, they are not putting their money where their mouth is.
Not a single car in the new 72-vehicle strong Welsh fleet is even remotely electric, although the Welsh Government said this would change as they plan to buy a single electric car soon – for testing. The official plan is to slash gas emissions by 2020, but with all 72 vehicles running on diesel, they will have to hurry.
Early adopters of electric vehicles will be red listed next year as they are losing an early privilege in California. The state will replace the green and white stickers that permitted access to HOV lanes with red ones, only those will not be available to all.
The sticker policy of California was an early measure of electric car privileges and worked well. Too well for some as it has led to the high-occupancy vehicle, or HOV lane, usually reserved for multi-occupant vehicles and buses, to become crowded with plug-in hybrid and electric cars.
Now the state has come up with a new measure as they seek to replace all white and green stickers with red ones for clean energy vehicles. That would not be a problem if not for another restriction attached to it. The red stickers can only be acquired by owners of an electric car that was bought in 2017 or later.
This means effectively shutting out earlier adopters of electric and low emission cars and there are plenty, 230,000 to be precise. While this high number of low emission vehicles on the road is good news, the new policy may turn out to set a wrong incentive on top. That is if some electric car owners decide to buy a new EV or PHEV before really necessary just to keep their privilege.
The state Department of Motor Vehicles is issuing new red HOV lanes decals as you speak. After January, 1st, 2019 only drivers whose electric car sports a red sticker may ride in the so-called diamond lane. The new decal will expire in 2022.
This example reminds us of Oslo. There the privilege for electric cars to ride on bus lanes had led to protests from bus drivers. At an earlier stage is the UK market. Great Britain is only just considering to designate low emission vehicles with green number plates reportedly.
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Dutch leasing company LeasePlan has found a larget partner in SAIC Mobility Europe. Together they want to offer electric light commercial vehicles, starting with SAIC’s Maxus EV in Europe.
LeasePlan and SAIC Mobility Europe announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to bring the electric Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV) from China to continental Europe.
The exclusive partnership centres on the SAIC Maxus EV80, as well as upcoming new versions. LeasePlan will provide operational leasing solutions for SAIC’s electric commercial vehicles. The services will include configuration and customisation, finance, insurance, fleet management, repair, maintenance, tyres and remarketing. In addition, LeasePlan will provide charging infrastructure for the electric vehicles, as well as access to a network of 75,000 charging points through their existing partnership with Allego (we reported).
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles follows the parent company’s lead and is electrifying mightily. They brought no less than five world debuts to Hanover that range from electric transporters over a cargo e-bike to a fuel cell van.
In fact, the electric vehicles are so new, not even us can find them in our longstanding database. However, the launches fit well with VW having turned up the volume of their campaign for the MEB platform just recently.
Take the I.D. BUZZ CARGO concept, which is the first commercial vehicle to be based on the new I.D. Family and the modular electric drive archietcture (MEB). Volkswagen estimates a 330 to more than 550 kilometre range (WLTP), depending on the battery size and the model. Actually, such a cargo take on the I.D. Buzz had been expected before.
We have heard of the eCrafter previously as well but at the IAA Commercial Vehicles, VW is now presenting a hydrogen-powered take on the van. Obviously its fuel cells propel the Crafter HyMotion into the long-distance segment and VW says, 7.5 kg hydrogen enables the 4.25-tonne van to cover driving ranges of more than 500 km. Moreover, the Crafter HyMotion offers an even larger payload than the e-Crafter. Yet, the Crafter HyMotion is still a concept vehicle that will only become serious once the infrastructure is more widely available, according to the press release.
Than there is the ABT e-Transporter that builds on the company longstanding Transporter series. The electric version has a scalable battery system with an option for 37.3 kWh or 74.6 kWh. This sets a range between 208 and 400 km.
Also by Abt is the e-Caddy, that is due to launch in mid-2019. Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has an electric taxi version on display in Hanover as it offers space for five people. The estimated range is 220 km (NEDC) with a 37.3 kWh battery and a top speed of 120 kph.
Last but not least, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles presents the Cargo e-Bike, a pedal-assist bike or pedelec destined for deliveries on the last mile. Maximum payload is 210 kg, with the load platform positioned between the two front-wheels, carrying a cargo box with a storage volume of 0.5 m3. The electric motor has a standard 250 Watt while assisted speed is capped at 25 kph, thus allowing the electric cargo bike to ride through areas not even an electric car can go. The tilting function promises added fun and safety once the electric Cargo e-Bike will hit the market next year.
To find VW Commercial Vehicles at the IAA, feel free to download our comprehensive guide to all things e-mobility in Hanover here >> electrive E-Mobility Guide IAA (pdf)