Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Almost 10,000 Electric Cars Were Sold In China In November


BYD Qin Sales in China – October Sales of plug-in cars surge in China.

Just in November, 9,728 were sold, which is 10-times more than last year, when incentives to encourage buyers weren’t in place.

After 11 months of 2014, sales have reached 56,700 units and this is almost 5-times more than in the same period of 2013.

At this pace, we will not wait long for China to become largest EV market. However, a big part of those sales are very small electric cars, so it’ll probably be awhile before China takes over the leaders in real-size passenger cars ranks.

Separately, sources in China are indicating that sales break down in half for individuals and fleets.

The best selling model remains the BYD Qin plug-in hybrid with 1,753 sales in November and almost 13,000 this year, which translates to over 20% market share. BYD sold over 2,400 all-electric e6 thus far in 2014 in China.

According to the EV Sales Blog, we have data for other models like Chery QQ3 EV (est. 6,416), Zotye E20 (5,844), Tesla Model S (est. 4,149) and BAIC E150/E200 EV (2,619).

Tesla: Roadster range increased by up to 50%

Tesla unveils new Roadster, giving sporty electric car new huge range

CEO Elon Musk had teased that the car would be updated last week Tesla has updated its sporty Roadster electric car, improving its range by as much as 50%.

The company has updated the battery, as well as the car’s aerodynamics and resistance, to allow it to get as drive as far as 400 miles on one charge.

Customers with the old car will be able to upgrade them to the new package.

The new battery stored 31% more energy than the battery in the original car, said Tesla. The first car had the first ever lithium ion battery every put into a production vehicle, and while it was once state of the art battery technologies have moved on, it said.

The company also reduced the drag of the car, which it said will improve the aerodynamics by 15%. It also reduced the rolling resistance, using new tires and wheel bearings that will give a roughly 20% improvement to the drag on the car.

Tesla will be making appointments to upgrade Roadsters once the car’s new battery has received safety approvals.

CEO Elon Musk teased the upgrade earlier in December, saying that "several crisis issues w[ith] higher priority pushed this out longer than expected".

It expects that “this will not be the last update the Roadster will receive in the many years to come”, it said. There will be no major updates to the Model S, Tesla’s saloon.

The company will be demonstrating the range of the new car in a non-stop drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles in the early weeks of 2015, it said.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Mahindra Reva passes EV sales of 5,000 units Mahindra Reva Electric Vehicles of India has crossed a sales milestone of 5,000 units in 24 countries.

Chetan Maini, CEO of Mahindra Reva, says demand for EVs in India has been increasing over the past few months, and mindsets about electric mobility are changing for the better.

Hyundai to launch electric vehicles in 2016

Hyundai Motor will release its first electric vehicle (EV) in 2016, with LG Chem supplying batteries for the car, officials said Tuesday.

The contract for supplying batteries will run until 2018, according to an official
from an LG affiliate.

A Hyundai Motor official said the automaker is ready to launch EVs in 2016. This is a major change for the automaker as it has not been as aggressive in the
development of EVs as its foreign rivals.

The demand for EVs has been dwindling due to declining oil prices and the
increase in the development of shale gas reserves.

However, the official said the addition of EVs will help the automaker strengthen its portfolio ahead of its international competitors.

"Hyundai's first pure EV will be a mid-sized sedan. Equipped with improved
batteries, enhanced system management and lighter materials, the upcoming
model will weigh about 30 percent less than existing hybrid EVs," said the official.

Albert Biermann, recently scouted by Hyundai as executive vice president from
BMW, will be in charge of the design of the EVs.

Hyundai seeks to establish a better product lineup ranging from hybrids to pure

Unlike plug-in hybrid EVs (PHEVs), which use both gasoline and batteries, pure EVs are powered just by batteries.

Officials at Hyundai's major local battery partners including SK Innovation said
the automaker plans to expand its PHEV models to 12 by 2020 from the current four.

Hyundai plan to launch an electric sports car and a sports utility vehicles (SUVs) as well as small-sized sedans.

For electric SUVs, Hyundai separately agreed with the SK Group's battery affiliate to procure batteries until 2017 to diversify its battery sourcing channels.

Data from research firms showed PHEVs are receiving quite a response from
customers in the United States.

By November this year, 83,647 electric cars were sold in America. PHEVs
accounted for 55 percent of the electric cars sold in the U.S.

The all-electric Nissan Leaf and range-extended Chevy Volt are the top sellers this year, accounting for almost 50 percent of EV sales.

"It will be interesting to see how new government policies, the development of new models and lower energy prices play out in major EV markets," said an LG

Mahindra Maxximo LCV and Verito electric variants launch in 2015 Mahindra is working on launching pure electric versions of Maxximo Mini Van and Verito notchback in 2015.

Speaking to IIFL about the journey of his company, Chetan Maini, CEO of Mahindra Reva Electric Vehicles, revealed that both models are likely to debut next year.

Maxximo electric variant was spied in Bangalore a few weeks ago by Team-BHP

Mahindra Reva has been working on converting the successful Mahindra Maxximo Mini Van and not-so-popular Verito sedan into electric vehicles. Test mule of former was spied in Bangalore few weeks earlier, showing shiny electric motor driving the rear axle, quick charge port near rear left tail lamp and roof top covered with a massive solar panel. Even Mahindra Verito Electric has been spotted under tests for several months now.

Further, regarding Mahindra Reva Electric Vehicles, the company showcased India’s first electric sports car, Halo, at 2014 Delhi Auto Expo, displaying their technical capabilities in developing futuristic advanced platforms.

MREV even played an important role in the brand’s foray into Formula E. Mahindra Reva’s Engineers have supported Mahindra’s Formula E team with vehicle tuning & testing, component & sub-system validation and even race strategies.

Mahindra is likely to add Maxximo and Verito Electric variants to the list of launches in 2015.

The firm recently crossed 5,000 units sales milestone, counting their distribution in over 24 countries. Chetan Maini says there is rise in people’s inclination towards green mobility and demand for electric vehicles in India has also been increasing steadily over past few months.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Seeo bullish on battery development Will Seeo’s 400 Wh/kg Battery Fulfil Expectations?

Forbes, Bloomberg, TechCrunch, Giacom, Green Car Congress, Xconomy, Reuters Pe Hub, The Green Optimistic, VentureBeat, and the MIT Technology Review have all written about the California start-up company Seeo. Korean electronics giant Samsung led in the recent $17 million round of series E investments. The other two investors, Khosla Ventures and Beijing-based GSR Ventures, increased existing holdings. According to President & CEO Hal Zarem, Seeo has a longer lasting battery that can double the existing range of most EVs and has grid applications. Will Seeo’s 400 Wh/kg battery fulfil expectations?

Zarem points to Seeo’s most recent investor” “Samsung is a major supplier and a major user of batteries, so they know a lot about this space. We see their investment as a real vote of confidence. There are a lot of small companies doing battery development and there has been a lot of noise in this space. As a sophisticated investor, Samsung knows how to cut through that and chose to invest in Seeo, which obviously helps us financially and opens up other possibilities for the future.”

Though Samsung has previously denied its plans to enter the EV space, it has filed for technology that can be used in electronic vehicles. One of its subsidiaries has been researching lithium-ion battery cell technology with BMW since 2009. (Note that Samsung SDI is a known supplier of EV batteries.)

What does Samsung see in Seeo?

“We have a solid state battery and are developing a product that is targeted at 400 Wh/kg, which is an energy density that is two to three times that of existing products out there,” said Zarem. “When you double the energy density, you almost cut the cost of manufacturing in half.”

He added: “This type of energy density has the promise to enable mainstream adoption of EVs by hitting range and cost targets that consumers need to see.”

Seeo CEO Hal Zarem

Given that EVs are already superior to gas cars in many ways — a recent comparison wasiPhones to the old dial ups -- this could trigger a massive shift in the popular choice of transportation.

Seeo is not the only company working on a battery that can double the effective range of inexpensive EVs. Tesla and Panasonic are expected to start manufacturing by 2017 that will reportedly bring costs down a lot. There are startups like Sakti3, and there are undoubtedly other promising-looking ones out there.

Zarem said his company’s latest round of funding is to accelerate the development of Seeo’s 400 Wh/kg battery.

Seeo expects to start manufacturing a 300 Wh/kg battery in mid to late 2015.

“Our pilot production is in California. We will scale up in locations that are appropriate for customer opportunity and the cost of manufacturing,” said Zarem.

Given that prices keep coming down and this product is not yet ready for the market, he said it is too early to talk about the retail cost.

“Our battery technology is made on standard lithium-ion processing equipment, using mostly standard materials. We have developed our own proprietary polymer electrolyte. That’s the fundamental technology the company was founded on and we have an exclusive license to that from Lawrence Berkeley labs,” said Zarem. “We have developed a large family of patents around that technology.”

“It’s an all solid state battery. Solid interfaces lead to a more reliable battery. We have groups of cells that have undergone cycle testing to over 2,000 cycles, which is excellent, and we are continuing to improve on that.”

Seeo’s product is still being tested by automotive manufacturers.

“We are working on a prototype vehicle with a customer now,” said Zarem.

They have also performed a 10 kWh demonstration in a stationary storage application with solar panels.

“One of the unique features of the batteries is that they are reliable at elevated temperatures,” said Zarem.

“We see applications in outdoor environment, in warm climates where they use photovoltaics. The best application for our product, with regard to the grid, is along with distributed generation.”

Where large amounts of renewable energy have been deployed in California, Germany, and other parts of the world, the grid is suddenly expected to handle large influxes of energy. It is more efficient to store surpluses in the area than send them back to a central location. Seeo’s product stores energy from two to four hours.

“If you are distributing generation with photovoltaics, distribute your storage alongside that,” said Zarem. “The battery packs that are used for vehicles are on the order of tens of kilowatt hours and match very well with the size of photovoltaic panels that are in residential and commercial application.”

Is it cost competitive with fossil fuel plants?

“That’s the holy grail and we want to get there. We think the potential is there, but no one is there now,” said Zarem.

There were a half a dozen people involved when Seeo’s proprietary, nanostructured non-flammable polymer electrolyte DryLyte™ was developed at Lawrence Berkeley labs.

They formed a company at Hayward, California during 2007. Seeo raised $15 million for its first pilot line in 2011.

“We developed larger format cells, that can be deployed in customer applications as well as modules which contain tens of cells or packs with hundreds of cells which is what you really need in a storage application or an automotive application,” said Zarem. “We’ve been able to make these in large commercially viable formats, make them at high yield, and now we’re pushing for the highest energy density before scaling this into mass production.”

Seeo’s 400 Wh/kg battery sounds impressive. Fulfil expectations.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Germany plans electric car motorway charging stations

(Reuters) - Germany plans to expand the network of charging stations for electric cars across the country to help boost demand, a Transport Ministry paper seen by Reuters showed.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's government wants to bring 1 million battery-powered vehicles onto the roads of Europe's largest economy by the end of the decade.

But high vehicle costs and drivers' concerns about infrastructure and limited battery range have held back sales in Germany to just 24,000 units out of a market of about 3 million cars, according to government data.

Germany currently only has about 100 quick service charging points for electric cars, allowing drivers to recharge batteries in less than an hour, and about 4,800 charging stations running on alternating current, according to the Transport Ministry.

"We will set up quick service charging stations along the motorways across Germany," Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt was quoted by regional newspaper Passauer Neue Presse as saying in an interview published on Saturday.

The Transport Ministry paper said German motorway services operator Tank & Rast GmbH was due to set up quick service charging stations and parking spots at its 400 sites by 2017.

The Berlin-based government will shoulder some of the costs of installing cables and related construction projects, the document showed.

Audi: Two Electric Vehicles By 2018 Volkswagen's premium Audi division aims to bring two purely electric vehicles to market by 2018 as it tries to catch up with rivals such as Tesla Motors and BMW.

Audi's Chief Executive Rupert Stadler told German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) in an interview to be published on Saturday that the launch of an electric sports car and a sports activity vehicle (SAV) were under way.

An excerpt of the article was made available to Reuters on Friday.

The SAV would be a four-wheel drive with a range of more than 500 km (310 miles) per battery load, Stadler said.

He also told FAZ that Audi's push to develop electronic drive and digital technologies would mean the division adding 2 billion euros ($2.4 billion) to its investments by 2019. Audi's investment budget through 2018 amounts to 22 billion.

France: Bollore's 16,000 charge oint network Bollore To Install Nationwide Network Of 16,000 Charging Points In France

Vincent Bolloré and Bolloré Bluecars

Renault Zoe and Bollore Bluecar in France

French company Bolloré is still working on the idea of building a nationwide charging network for electric cars.

16,000 points have been on the table for sometime, which are supposed to be built in four years for €150 million investment. We are not sure what is incorporated in the investment, but at 16,000 points, the average price would stand at €9,375 per point.

According to the news, points would be 7 kW AC units (single phase) and deployed with density of no more than 40 km between each site. It’s strange that power level isn’t set at 3-phase 22 kW (to enable Renault ZOE and others to charge faster).

Bolloré is looking for tax reliefs or exemption from rent for occupying public domain. The French government should decide on this topic before the end of January.

Tesla Announces Roadster 3.0 Upgrade: 70 kWh Battery and New Aero Kit

Roadster 3.0 Upgrade Package Includes 31% Larger Battery Pack And Aero Kit Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s Earlier Tweet Announcing The…Uh, Announcement

As foretold earlier this week, Tesla has rolled out the prototype “Roadster 3.0 Package“.

With precious few days left in 2014 to make good on an earlier promise to update the battery technology found in the Roadster, which first hit the market in 2008, Elon Musk tweeted that all would be revealed after Christmas.

That day turned out to be today, as Tesla Motors announced that current Roadster owners (~2,500 of them) are looking at being able to swap out their old batteries (53 kWh) for new ones with improved technology providing 70 kWh of power.

In addition, and also somewhat unexpected, a Roadster 3.0 retrofit aero kit is part of the package that will make the 2 seater 15% more efficient slipping through the air, along with a new available set of tires, wheel bearings etc. that will aid the car in achieving more range.

How much more range is now on tap? the company says to expect 40-50% more miles. The original iteration of Roadster had been rated by the EPA at 244 miles. Under the right set of circumstance, the company says one could expect to get more than 400 miles.

Tesla will demo the long-range Roadster 3.0 in early 2015. We expect this prototype package to be identical to that which is offered to owners in 2015 (otherwise why do it?). Pricing has yet to be announced. Tesla also says this will not be the last of the upgrades available to owners in the future.

Our own off-the-cuff estimate would be that, given the limit amount of cars to potentially upgrade, Tesla doesn’t want to price the retrofit too exorbitantly but also doesn’t want to lose money either. $25,000-$30,000 sounds about right to us.
Full Tesla Release on Roadster 3.0:

A Slightly New Look For The Roadster Aids In Reaching The Mythical 400 Mile Range Figure

The Roadster 3.0 package applies what we’ve learned in Model S to Roadster. No new Model S battery pack or major range upgrade is expected in the near term.

Battery technology has continued a steady improvement in recent years, as has our experience in optimizing total vehicle efficiency through Model S development. We have long been excited to apply our learning back to our first vehicle, and are thrilled to do just that with the prototype Roadster 3.0 package. It consists of three main improvement areas.

1. Batteries
The original Roadster battery was the very first lithium ion battery put into production in any vehicle. It was state of the art in 2008, but cell technology has improved substantially since then. We have identified a new cell that has 31% more energy than the original Roadster cell. Using this new cell we have created a battery pack that delivers roughly 70kWh in the same package as the original battery.

2. Aerodynamics
The original Roadster had a drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.36. Using modern computational methods we expect to make a 15% improvement, dropping the total Cd down to 0.31 with a retrofit aero kit.

3. Rolling Resistance
The original Roadster tires have a rolling resistance coefficient (Crr) of 11.0 kg/ton. New tires that we will use on the Roadster 3.0 have a Crr of roughly 8.9 kg/ton, about a 20% improvement. We are also making improvements in the wheel bearings and residual brake drag that further reduce overall rolling resistance of the car.

Combining all of these improvements we can achieve a predicted 40-50% improvement on range between the original Roadster and Roadster 3.0. There is a set of speeds and driving conditions where we can confidently drive the Roadster 3.0 over 400 miles. We will be demonstrating this in the real world during a non-stop drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles in the early weeks of 2015.

We are confident that this will not be the last update the Roadster will receive in the many years to come.

Happy Holidays.

BMW i8S To Launch In 2016

BMW i8

BMW i8

CAR magazine reports that next year, BMW on its hundredthanniversary (company was founded in March 1916) will present a plug-in hybrid supercar that will later go on sale in 2017.

It will be based on the i8 and gets code name i8S.

“It is not merely an engineering showpiece but a proper production model, CAR understands. Although it is loosely based on the i8, the flagship coupe features so many bespoke parts that it could almost be described as a new car. The i8’s Life and Drive modules – the carbonfibre upper and the aluminium-intensive chassis – will be retained, but the individual elements are more comprehensively integrated, the material mix is even more diverse and the more efficient packaging eliminates the token rear seats in favour of a bigger luggage bay, sources say.

Expect a virtually redesigned suspension with more aggressive kinematics, along with stronger brakes and wider tyres. Even though the new flagship coupe bears a certain resemblance to the i8, it is safe to expect that the car will sport an even more dynamic look as well as ground-effect aerodynamics.”

Power will go up by some 150 HP compared to the i8, so acceleration will be even better (0-62 mph is expected to be just 3.5 seconds).

“This remains an i8-based sports car, which means it’ll still be a plug-in hybrid. Total system power output will reportedly be in excess of 500bhp; the combined torque stands around the 520lb ft mark.

The new mid-engined coupe is still being evaluated in two different configurations: one features a twin-turbo 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine rated at approximately 320bhp, the other one boasts a 3.0-litre straight six good for close to 480bhp.

While the petrol engine drives the rear wheels just like in the i8, the electric motor propels the front wheels. Its power output is 109bhp when mated to the six and 204bhp when supporting the four.”

Well, it seems that more and more performance plug-in hybrids are coming, however this time rather in limited quantity.

Profile: Chetan Maini, CEO, Mahindra Reva

“EVs need an ‘ecosystem’ thinking that includes vehicles, charging solutions, battery lease schemes and such other services that enable people to adopt EV mobility.” Chetan Maini, CEO, Mahindra Reva, co-founded the REVA Electric Car Company, India's first electric car manufacturer, in 1994. As the CEO of Mahindra Reva, he led the team that created one of the world’s greenest automobile manufacturing facilities. Chetan holds a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering (University of Michigan) and a Master's in Mechanical Engineering (Stanford University). He has over 20 years of experience in the development of solar, hybrid and electric vehicles in the U.S. and India. Prior to REVA, he worked for Amerigon Inc. (USA) and General Motors (USA). His vision and pioneering innovations in electric vehicles have been recognized worldwide, including Mahindra Reva being voted as one of the 50 Most Innovative Companies in the world in 2013 by Fast Company magazine. Chetan was named as one of the top 50 most influential people in India by Business Week and amongst the Young Global Leader (YGLs) by The World Economic Forum to name a few. Chetan also serves as a member of India's National Board on Electric Mobility and Chairs the Personal Transportation Council, World Economic Forum. He currently holds and has filed over 30 global patents in electric vehicle technologies.

Mahindra Reva is a pioneer of electric vehicle (EV) technologies and one of the world's most experienced EV manufacturers. Founded in 1994 as the Reva Electric Car Company, the company was a joint venture between the Maini Group of Bangalore and AEV LLC of USA. Reva focused on creating affordable electric cars through advanced technology and launched its first model in India in 2001 and in London in 2004. In May 2010, the USD $16.5 billion, Mahindra Group acquired a majority stake in the company, which was renamed Mahindra Reva Electric Vehicles Pvt Ltd. Mahindra Reva is headquartered in Bengaluru, India.

Replying to Anil Mascarenhas of IIFL, Chetan Maini says, “EVs need an ‘ecosystem’ thinking that includes vehicles, charging solutions, battery lease schemes and such other services that enable people to adopt EV mobility.”

To what extent has life changed for you after joining the Mahindra family? Have you got the desired results for your pet projects?
I believe that the synergy between the companies took place at a time most opportune for both. It has been symbiotic for both companies, since inception.

We have been able to expand the distributorship through this partnership with M&M’s well established network within the industry. The Group’s support towards sourcing channels has also been beneficial in strengthening the supplier base for Mahindra Reva Electric Vehicles at large. In the operational areas, the company has been able to gain access to the group’s IT & systems. Integrating with the Group has also opened up opportunities to develop diverse electric versions of existing Mahindra Platforms. The teams from both sides are working jointly on various projects now.

And in turn, the partnership has accelerated the M&M Group’s vision of providing sustainable mobility solutions across a broader spectrum of vehicles and market segments. Mahindra Reva’s vision and activities fit in very well with the Mahindra Group’s aspiration to enable people and communities to Rise. In this regard, we share a common purpose that binds us together in this journey.

This year has also been great for us, as we showcased our next gen technologies like the Halo at the Auto Expo& forayed into Formula E. Engineers from Mahindra Reva have in fact supported Mahindra’s Formula Eteam with vehicle testing and tuning, race strategies and component & sub-system validation.

So, overall this union has helped us to further leverage our in-house technology, experience and passion for developing pure electric vehicles. With the Group’s continued support, we look forward to a brighter future for EVs in India and also expand our product portfolio globally with the launch of new products and technologies.

Electric vehicles / Hybrid vehicles are slowly gaining acceptance across the countries. However, it is not the case in India. What according to you is the key factor which is restraining Indian consumers from buying an electric car?

xEVs have gained popularity worldwide and they continue to gain momentum, with sales rising year on year. On the contrary, the scenario has been different in India. I wouldn’t say that consumers in India are being restrained from buying an electric car but there are certain factors at play that have anchored the Indian EV industry in competing at par with its counterparts.

This slow growth has been contributed largely by public awareness about EVs, which is fairly low, coupled with several misapprehensions around the technology. Primarily, EVs are very high on technology and battery management systems, resulting in a higher cost of the car. As a result, potential customers perceive EVs to be expensive, though in reality they payback within 2-3 years due to their lower running costs.

There is also a strong need for long term government policies and its timely implementation in the areas of R&D, EV infrastructure and incentives. The government has been working on an EV centric policy under NEMMP 2020 (National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020) to implement a plethora of incentives and other initiatives that would help boost the industry in India. With all of the above in place and a host of players, EV will be a more sought for mobility solution.

For mass sale of electric cars you also require suitable infrastructure like charging stations. How quickly do you think this can be built in India (at least in cities initially)?
For an advanced technology such as EVs, charging points or stations play a very important role, not just by providing ease of driving sans range anxiety but also creating a momentum for EV sustenance. Countries across the globe have witnessed a sprung of infrastructure providers, which is a huge impetus for the growth of the industry itself. This has further supported in making charge points easily and publicly accessible.

90% of the customers charge their EVs in the premise of their homes. Thus, as a proactive initiative, we began mounting home charging ports for our customers with purchase of the automatic electric Mahindra e2o.

Additionally, we have also put across a robust network of more than 300 publicly accessible charging ports in various cities. They can be spotted at Malls, Airport and several Mahindra dealer and service centres. These are also plotted on maps in the car’s built-in navigation system as well as on Mahindra Reva’s website. One can also download the e2o’s smart app which shows all the charging points across the city, on a map. The individual can now plan the route to the nearest point accordingly. Installation of charging ports across the country will be our enduring effort. We are exploring these opportunities with various retail outlets, banks, more malls and parking bays, in order to set up wall-sockets and charge points.

Any form of public/private partnership in building this infrastructure across India will serve as a big business opportunity. It will not just fuel the growth of the EV industry but also open new business avenues.

You have frequently mentioned that government support in form of subsidy will boost sale of electric cars. By when do you expect the government support to come? Has the change in government hastened up the process?
Sooner the better. While it may be too early to comment, we are yet to see the proposed plans rolling.

How has the response been for your electric car “e2o”. Can you share some numbers like average monthly sales, total capacity? What is the launch pipeline?

We had set certain targets at the beginning of the financial year, whereinSales in India may not have completely fulfilled that expectation but despite the odds, we have received a very good response for our e2o.
Over the past few months as well, a rising trend has been noticed: more and more buyers are coming forward, people are keen on learning and some are well informed, mindsets are changing and month on month sales is slowly gathering a positive pace. Currently, we are able to meet this rise in demand on time, as our facility in Bangalore is capable of producing 30,000 cars per annum (across two shifts).

We have showcased our technical capabilities in developing futuristic advanced platforms such as “Halo”. With access to Mahindra’s platform, we are working on the electric versions of Verito & Maxximo. We also hope to announce new products in the coming year in India and abroad.

What are your plans for exports? Years ago you were looking at a franchisee model where you would provide technology and manufacturing expertise to a local partner abroad. Which countries do you plan to export to?
The company has gained an entry into new markets such as Nepal, Bhutan and Island communities such as Bermuda. With new products in the pipeline, we look forward to adding more to our global portfolio shortly. Come next year and Mahindra Reva will mark its presence across Western European markets.

Brief overview on the car market. What is the percentage share of electric cars in the global markets?
EV market today may be a small percentage of the global market but it has been experiencing 85% growth year on year and is expected to grow at similar levels. According to a recent study by a multi-government forum called Electric Vehicles Initiative (EVI), under the Clean Energy Ministerial, EV sales has more than doubled over the past few years and will soon account for 2-4% of the global automotive market.

Global markets are smartly terming this era as the ‘third age’ of electric vehicles, starting with the mass-market introduction of EVs in 2010.Their R&D efforts are paying off due to support from respective governments in providing over USD 8.7 billion in investment since 2008. This financial aid has not just helped overcome ambiguity surrounding EV adoption among customers but also predominantly reduce battery costs, making EVs the most sought after mobility option worldwide.

Some markets like Norway have crossed the 15% mark of sales of EVs and other markets like China and UK have shown growth rates of 300-500% in the last few months. The recent Deutsche bank report has been positive on the future of EVs and believes that it will not be a niche by 2020. The report states xEVs will reach a 9% market share by 2020, which is higher than India’s estimate of 5%. Mahindra Reva is long term committed to electric mobility and believes the right government policy can enable India to reach the global figures by 2020.

What is the sector prospects, its competitiveness, in our country?
The Electric Vehicles Initiative (EVI), under the Clean Energy Ministerial, has estimated that there will be 20 million EVs on the road by the year 2020.India is one of the 16 member countries of this forum that is dedicated to boosting the growth of EVs worldwide. Majority of international territories are now evolved EV platforms and highly competitive in nature, where one can see a range of Pure EVs and Hybrid EVs, manufactured by numerous players. There has been both horizontal and vertical expansions. The statistics from the report also suggest that there is a strong correlation between sales and EV variety. This shows that more EV models coming to market will result in more choices for the consumer and could further increase sales. Global markets have also taken prospective electrification a notch up by engaging with private stakeholders to better align long term EV goals, discuss the role and intervention of the government, and keep the flow of investments going in R&D innovations and procurement for large scale EV use.

Likewise in India, the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020 was set up. Under the mission, the National Mission on Electric Mobility (NMEM) plan was launched. The plan highlights working with Industry and R&D organisations to deploy6-7 million xEVs on Indian roads by 2020.

India as a market has a huge potential for EVs. Various factors such as incessant stop-go traffic, long distance travel, fuel prices, and effects on health, noise & air pollution, stressful driving due to traffic and jammed roads make EVs a viable option in India. Having said so, a lot can be additionally achieved in this sector. I foresee a plethora of areas being met through niftier technologies in the future and these will not just meet the urban mobility needs but address other spheres of mobility in India such as public transport.

The segment will also get competitive once public awareness levels rise. Consumerism will shift to adoption of such technologies on a larger scale. With more and more erudite buyers, the EV sector in India will soon see enough limelight and players. Probably with more entrants in this segment, the Indian market will open up as similar to global markets. We also hope to see infrastructure partners that would manufacture and supply charging ports publicly, similar to other countries such as Ecotality, Autolib etc. There is also a need for public-private partnerships and also partners on other platforms such as OEM manufacturers, Battery manufacturers and Energy Solutions companies. Academia too can help burgeon this industry if a course is set in place that would create a knowledge pool on new technologies in the automotive area that will help churn engineers of the future.

With a growing niche in India for this segment, we would prove yet again that we have the home grown capability to showcase our technical expertise. I believe that there will be a gamut of xEVs on Indian roads backed by much better infrastructure and India too shall lead the way in mobility technologies and self-sustenance. There is a huge latent business opportunity that awaits to be uncovered.

You are known to be passionate about innovation. Tell us some innovations likely to be witnessed in the sector.
Our focus for innovation has been on making electric mobility affordable and on building great EV ownership and usage experiences for our customers. To name a few, today our EV drivetrains are already globally competitive on a price-to-performance metric, our vehicles are one of the lightest yet safest cars in their category on Indian roads. We have also created India’s first ‘connected car’. We will continue to evolve these technologies. The focus in the future will also be on much more advanced battery technologies that are also affordable at the same time, scaling up of power and efficiency and on fast charging points.

At a product level, there will be more developments and launches in the next year. Innovations will be expanded beyond the passenger car segment to commercial transportation and public mobility areas as well.

In terms of Location, raw material, labour. How is the company positioned?
There are very few cities in India, such as Bengaluru, that resonate with the economy’s growth. Today, it isrightly coveted for not just being the IT capital but also the Science and Technology hub of India. It hosts some of the most prominent establishments and R&D organizations that support in churning the wheel of bigger industries in the country such as Aerospace technologies, Automotive, Apparel, Electronics, Information Technology, Biotechnology, Life sciences, Pharmaceuticals, Engineering and Machine Tools, across sectors.

The city is not just a perfect location for the above but also rich in technical expertise and know-how. In this regard, our location in the heart of India’s ‘Silicon Valley’ near Electronic City in Bengaluru is quite well suited for the development of electric vehicles, both from the perspective of availability of engineering talent as well as from a supply chain perspective.

A significant part of our supply chain is located in and around Bangalore. Apart from batteries and few components, which are imported, rest is locally sourced. Once the required raw materials are procured, the same is assembled here in our facility. Our assembly process is quite streamlined and requires limited access to specialized skills and hence we do not have major labour challenges as well.

Last but not the least, it has been our experience that the citizens of Bengaluru are forward thinking and open to embracing new technology. It is to their credit that Bengaluru has today become the ‘EV capital’ of India.

Brief on your assets and technology
We are one of the most experienced EV players in the world with more than5000 EVs on road, that have covered more than 200million kms, globally. Our skilled teams and engineers, dedicated to R&D are one of our strong assets to-date, which forms 35% of our entire workforce.

The company has 36 patents filed & 14 patents received for core in-house technologies and technical know-how to develop drive trains, battery packs and monitoring systems.

We are also proud of our one-of-a-kind green manufacturing facility in Bommasandra, Bengaluru. It is India’s first and only IGBC (Indian Green Building Council) ‘Platinum’ rated facility. With its own individuality, all aspects of the manufacturing process and facility’s design resonate with our commitment to the environment and determination to use clean technology.

Your expansion/ diversification plans
By showcasing “Halo”, we have already proved our technical capabilities and engineering expertise. With launch of electric versions of Verito & Maxximo, we will be proving yet again that we are strong with our R&D and know-how. We are working on various other projects and look forward to displaying our proficiency in this direction of electric mobility.

Currently, we have presence in top metro cities in India and have plans for expansion in some identified Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities within the country in the next fiscal year along with entry into Western European markets.

Policy and regulatory framework – any impact?
Between 2010 and 2012, the central government used to provide an incentive of up to Rs. 1 Lakh per electric car for EV buyers. This had a favourable impact on EV sales in the country. But the subsidy was withdrawn in April 2012. This experience clearly demonstrates that there is a market for EVs in India. However, incentives in the area of R&D and Infrastructure is crucial, along with a favourable long term and stable policy. Hence the Government’s NEMMP2020 scheme has a laudable objective of providing such stability and transparency but it is imperative that this scheme be implemented timely.

It is also learnt that the NEMMP 2020 will roll in the next fiscal year as a pilot programme and the government is looking at spends of Rs 1000 crore.

What is your company’s vision?
The company believes in a B HAG- Big Hairy Audacious Goal, of becoming Earth’s favourite EV mobility solutions company. It is our belief that EVs need an ‘ecosystem’ thinking that includes vehicles, charging solutions, battery lease schemes and such other services that enable people to adopt EV mobility. Furthermore, we will endeavour to deliver such solutions and services in ways that create great ownership and usage experiences for our customers.

How many cars have you sold so far?
We have sold more than 5000 Mahindra Reva EVsin over 24 countries today and growing.

Give a geographical break-up? Which are the new markets you are looking at?
The company has a presence in cities such as Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Nagpur and Pune. Overseas, Mahindra Reva is a known name in Nepal and Bhutan and across island communities such as Bermuda.

We have plans for expansion in some identified Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities within the country in the next fiscal year along with entry into Western European markets.

What about servicing and after sales?
With access to M&M group’s vast dealer network across the country, we have been able to provide timely after sales service to all our customers. The cars can be brought to the Mahindra service network. We have also setup an EV experience centre in Bengaluru, where prospective customers can learn about and experience EV technology. Alternately, the service team also provides home service by servicing at the customer’s door step.

In order to be able to provide on-the-spot servicing, we have created a radical approach to service, using our telematics solution. Each car has a mobile SIM card with a modem built-in that connects to our servers and transmits vehicle performance data to our servers. Our service engineers receive instantaneous alerts in the event of a fault in the car and can even fix some issues ‘over-the-air’ using the telematics system. In course of an issue that needs to be addressed immediately, then the service engineer can also visit the location of the car and can fix several issues on-site.

What are some of the constraints faced by the car user? What are you doing regarding the same?
At Mahindra Reva, we are always focused on making driving pleasurable and owning an EV a moment of pride. In this direction, our sales &customer teams have heard every customer and driven various positive feedbacks and testimonials through these years. Valuing these feedbacks, we included electric power steering (EPS) and increased the range to 120 km in the all new automatic electric Mahindra e2o. Several other features were also incorporated such as Hill Hold, ‘Connected Car’ technology and accessing certain features of the car through a smart application such as pre-cooling the car, lock/ unlock, regenerative braking, revive function and shift to vacation mode.

Many prospective customers have ambiguity about the Battery performance in the long term and its replacement costs. To address this, in January 2014,we launched the e2o care protection plan.

How many patents do you hold?
Overall 50 patents, of which 36 are filed and 14 received

REVA used to be sold under the name G-Wiz in the UK. Any other countries where it is sold under a different name. Do you change any of the features or design of the car for export market?
The G-Wiz is no longer in production. We are looking forward to launching a European version soon. Details of the same will be announced at a later point in time.

Your capacity and utilization levels? Any increase in capacity planned?
Our manufacturing facility has a capacity of producing 30,000 vehicles per annum (across two shifts). Currently, we do not foresee a need to increase capacity

What are your investment plans over the next couple of years? How would they be funded?
We will strongly be looking at new products and technologies as well as supporting electrification of a couple of models from M&M’s existing platform. New launch markets have been identified to maintain our leadership in this direction.

Friday, 26 December 2014

Volkswagen's Audi aims to launch two electric vehicles by 2018

(Reuters) - Volkswagen's premium Audi division aims to bring two purely electric vehicles to market by 2018 as it tries to catch up with rivals such as Tesla Motors and BMW.

Audi's Chief Executive Rupert Stadler told German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) in an interview to be published on Saturday that the launch of an electric sports car and a sports activity vehicle (SAV) were under way.

An excerpt of the article was made available to Reuters on Friday.

The SAV would be a four-wheel drive with a range of more than 500 km (310 miles) per battery load, Stadler said.

He also told FAZ that Audi's push to develop electronic drive and digital technologies would mean the division adding 2 billion euros ($2.4 billion) to its investments by 2019. Audi's investment budget through 2018 amounts to 22 billion.

2014 World's Top 5 EV countries

This CHAdeMO Map Of All 4,286 Fast Charging Stations (as of December 2014) Illustrates The EV Hot Spots Around The World A couple months ago, InsideEVs’ editors suggested running periodic ‘Top 10′ lists for various aspects of the EV world. One of these has come out so far: the Top 10 best-looking EVs. The idea got my mind rolling on another kind of list: what are the top EV countries? Initially I wanted to jot down 10, but sadly, given my intent (to be described below), as of late 2014 there are not quite 10 countries deserving to be on such a list.

Besides, the Top-10 post draft was way too long. So I narrowed it down to a Top 5, which ended up being 6 because I declared the 5th place a draw.

What is the intent? First, the list is personal, subjective, and non-scientific. I didn’t invent measures or tally up scores. Second, the question I tried to answer is:

How big and positive is the country’s role in the global EV story – i.e., in bringing about the technology transition from ICE to EV?

If This Was 2013, The 4,976 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVs Sold In December Alone In The Netherlands Would Have Put That Country At The Top Of The List, Unfortunately The End Of Some Generous Credits Have Left The Country Behind. Will Norway Follow Suit In 2015?

A country might contribute in many ways, but at least the following five:
Sheer market volume, generating massive demand that triggers production;
Domestic market share, thereby setting an example for other countries;
Innovative domestic infrastructure, again setting an example;
A hub of EV automaking power;
Last but not least, I considered not just the private EV market but also eBuses and other public transit.

Interestingly, the Top 5+1 list is anything but stagnant. Had I done this list in 2013, it would have been very different, and I won’t be surprised if the 2015 list will be again different. This demonstrates how young and dynamic the global EV scene still is.

Two big hat-tips are due. One to this site who covers all the mainstream countries, and the other to Jose Pontes’ EV Sales Blog, a one-man operation that is simply the best online resource in English for EV sales in many countries (and by many we mean almost all of them).

Without further ado (with plug-in sales through November 2014):
5. Germany (tie) – 11,800 sales (2014)

Historical Plug-In Sales In Germany, Broken Down By BEV and PHEVs

Just a year ago, Germany was nowhere near the Top 5. Despite Germany’s leadership position in global-warming awareness and in particular renewable energy, the local EV market was relatively tiny. The German government’s approach to EV incentives – subsidize the automakers, not the purchase – did not yield meaningful EV quantities in 2013. But it has begun to bear fruit in 2014, big time.

Among major automaking countries (Japan, US, Korea, China, India, Germany, France, Brazil come to mind), as of late 2014 there is no equal to the German industry in its depth of commitment to producing plug-in vehicles.

BMW chose a Nissan-like approach: a flagship de novo model, the i3. VW is producing e-versions of its classic lineup; but unlike say the Ford Focus EV, the VW e-Golf is produced at high volumes, and without compromising on essentials. Mercedes, besides owning the zippy Smart, also pushed the B-class BEV out the door, and is now on track to roll out a new PHEV model every 4 months on average.

BMW i3 Production In Leipzig Germany

With the advent of domestic brands on offer, 2014 has seen a stellar rise: 11,683 EV sales through November, compared to 5,999 in Jan-Nov 2013. The market share is still unimpressive (just under 0.5%), but with domestic automakers continuing to crank out new models and larger quantities, and with serious talk about subsidies finally reaching buyers (so far, only institutional buyers, but these are huge in Germany) – 2015 promises to be another upside year for EVs in Germany and for German EVs worldwide.
5. France (tie) – 14,000 sales (2014)

Passenger BEV Registrations in France Through November 2014

For a country whose recent automotive history is so rich in EV lore, the state of EVs in France (and its place in my ranking) is a disappointment. Circa 2000 when American EV enthusiasts were excited then agonized over the E.V.1, France saw a slew of electric light-commercial vehicles – the predecessors of today’s Kangoo Z.E. – which reportedly sold in the thousands.

So arguably, at the turn of the 21st Century, France was the world’s #1 EV nation. More recently, in 2012 Renault produced and sold three completely different BEVs, each in the thousands, including the world’s only mass-produced swappable-battery EV (or so we thought at the time, before Musk unveiled his surprise…). A fourth model, the Zoe – Renault’s sassy and better-looking answer to its cousin the Leaf – was just coming out. There’s no question that in 2012 France was among the World Top 3.

Fast-forward 2 years, and France is still a hotbed of EV activity. The Zoe is doing great in France and a couple other key EV markets, and already announcing an upgrade that will bring its range to ~100 miles. Renault’s larger local-delivery trucks are faring well in pilot runs. There’s also Bollore and its Blue Car, which just crossed 1,000 sales for the year. But France’s other major automaker, Peugeot-Citroen, is sitting on its hands (except for re-badging the MiEV with catchy French names). And domestic sales are largely stagnant. Still larger than Germany’s – 13,952 through November, good for a market share of some 0.7-0.9% – but only a hair above 2013′s numbers (13,480). So for old times’ sake, France is still in the Top 5, but barring major breakthroughs this spot is on borrowed time given the rapid advances elsewhere.

76% Of Plug-In Sales Come Via 2 Models In Japan (data through October 2014)
4. Japan – 30,000 sales (2014)

As recently as March 2011, Japan was without question the #1 EV country. This is where the world’s first global mass-market consumer BEV line, the Mistubishi MiEV, was (and is still being) made.

In late 2010, the Nissan Leaf, designated for an even greater mass market, was launched. The two automaking giants, Toyota and Honda, were also toying with EVs. Quick-charging was developed and QC stations with the national ChaDeMo standard were built by the hundred.

And then the tsunami struck. The catastrophe unleashed a Japanese recession – meaning less local sales, and also soured attitudes towards nuclear energy, which provided a large chunk of the nation’s electricity. Japanese were starting to look for vehicle solutions that involve neither oil nor electricity. This partially explains the massive, government-backed push by Toyota and Honda away from EVs and towards fuel-cell vehicles.

Like This Trim Of Nissan LEAF? Well, You Can’t Order It In The US – Japan Only

Japan is still an EV powerhouse. Well, duh, as long as the globally dominant EV model is made in Japan, the country will likely stay in the Top 5. Add to this the only plug-in SUV one can get (well, we can’t get it here yet…), the wildly popular Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. In terms of domestic sales, in 2014 Japan lost the global #2 position in sales volume. Through October, 27,654 EVs were sold there (3/4 of them either Leafs or Outlanders), compared with 21172 in 2013′s first 10 months. The market share is nearly 1%. But as long as all other Japanese automakers refuse to take EVs seriously, Japan is unlikely to climb back up.
3. China ~37,000-45,000* (2014 – highway capable only)

BYD Qin Sales Have Steadily Grown In China (data through October 2014)

If you think about passenger EVs only, or don’t follow recent sales news, putting China so high up might come as a surprise. Moreover, China’s EV industry and market has had more than its fair share of broken promises, false starts and flops. But I grant China the #3 spot in 2014 for one major reason: it is home to the only automaker currently producing BEV buses in large quantities.

How dominant is the Chinese BYD in the global EV bus scene? For a passenger-EV analogue, envision Renault, Nissan and Tesla joining forces. Sure, there are nice efforts by Swedish, German, English and American EV bus makers, but only BYD can – and does – deliver electric buses now in the many hundreds, possibly thousands this year. BYD is also setting up a Brazil factory, hopefully expanding eBuses into transit markets up and down the Americas soon. And they have also retooled their E6, a failed bid to woo Western passenger EV markets, into a domestically popular electric taxi that is produced by the thousand.

Both Made And Sold In China From This September - It’s The Nissan LEAF…No Wait, It’s The Venucia e30

Meanwhile, the Chinese passenger EV market has woken up this year, big time. In recent months it has easily grabbed the global #2 spot in sales volume from Japan. Current sales are at a pace of ~5,000/month. In September there were reports China has even surpassed the US, but they turned out to be unfounded (numbers coming from China are not quite as reliable). In any case, Jose Pontes’ current estimate of 45k Chinese EV sales through November, compares with some 17,600 sales for all of 2013! That’s around 200% year-over-year, probably more if you look only at recent months. If the rate of increase keeps up, China might overtake the US in EV volume just like it has recently surpassed the US in overall auto sales.

Like in Germany, most of China’s sales surge is thanks to domestic autmakers stepping up and cranking out EVs. Most Chinese EVs are inexpensive 4-seat and 2-seat subcompacts. That’s great, because they will be affordable in other developing countries too. Things are looking great for EVs in China, both for the local market and for export, and come 2015 they might have a shot at the global #1 spot.
2. Norway – 18,500 sales (2014)

Number of registrations of new all-electric passenger cars in Norway – Nobember 2014

We arrive at a country that’s become synonymous with the present EV revolution, the only country where
EVs and in particular BEVs are already part of mainstream culture. A country that gave us Bjørn Nyland! It seems everything has already been said about Norway, where thanks to high gas taxes, super-generous BEV incentives and a pro-EV public mindset that enables them, the EV market share has been over 10% every month since sometime in 2013.

Through November, there were 18,472 EV sales this year in Norway, vs. only 7,035 last year, good for a 14% market share and for 4th place in the world, volume-wise (of course, Norway is 1st in the world in market share. Moreover, the vast majority of them are BEVs). Not too shabby for a nation of 5 million. They also import many used EVs, not included in this tally! I suspect that even our own family’s lease-returned 2012 Leaf, which I thought had ended up in New Jersey, was really only en route to be sold in Norway; a Seattle-area EV reseller told me he does these exports regularly and they ship through New Jersey.

Ready For Everyone To Have A Tesla – Setermoen Norway, The Northern Most Supercharging Station In The World (via Lennarth K)

What else to say? Maybe just this: Norway is living proof that how oil plays in one’s economy, does not determine the ability to think beyond oil. It is easy to forget that Norway is Europe’s top oil *exporter*. Norway is also living proof that even smaller countries (population-wise) without an automaking industry, can have a global impact on EVs’ trajectory.

Norway is where planners and futurists look to identify problems and solutions for industrialized societies in which EVs make up a substantial part of the fleet. Such a “pilot country” is a huge asset to have, so early in the global EV game. Cynics might say it will all go away in a couple of years, once subsidies expire. I feel (hope?) that Norway might have already crossed the point of no return.

The only remaining question is perhaps why, with such stellar credentials, Norway is not #1?
1. U.S.A. ! U.S.A. !! – 107,000 (2014)

US Sales Data Current Through End Of November 2014

So… two reasons. First, the automaker side. Just like Norway is a “pilot country” for overall market penetration, California-based Tesla is a “pilot company” that has found a winning business model for a BEV-only automaker, a business model that is now scaling up into the major leagues. In particular, 2014 has seen two landmark Tesla achievements:
In January the Supercharger network completed the first viable US coast-to-coast path, which has since been both expanded and shortened, and will very soon branch out into several route options. Similar networks are rapidly expanding in Europe and East Asia.
In September the Gigafactory deal in Nevada was signed, complete with the auctioning-off of state subsidies. Notably, Tesla’s demands were taken up by states as seriously as if it was a major company like Boeing or Intel.

Business achievements aside, Tesla gives EVs something beyond their classic “Eat Your Green Medicine and Save Gas” appeal: the swagger of simply being better and more advanced, the Next Big Thing. In 21st Century consumer economy, this is priceless.

2014 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers *Estimated Tesla NA Sales Numbers – Reconciled on Quarterly Totals from Earnings Report (Q1 Sales reported @ 6,457-3,000 Intl Delivers, Q2 7,579 total-approx reported International registrations, Q3 7,785 total deliveries ~ 3,900 US) *Fiat 500e data estimated for Jan/Feb

The second reason for giving the US the top spot, is the sheer scale and resilience of our EV market. While several countries are on par or higher than the US on EV market share (which is hovering around 0.7%-0.8% right now), or are trending up faster (China anyone?), the US market is by far the largest, having already crossed 100k sales for the year, growing ~20% over the stellar 2013. Heck, California alone has more EVs, and quite possibly had more EVs sold in 2014, than any country outside the US. In many ways, California is a second “Norway pilot” for testing out what happens when EVs become mainstream, in a cultural and infrastructure setting rather different from Norway’s.

But overall, unlike 2013, in 2014 the US is not quite as lonely at the top. If American demand for PHEVs/EREVs continues to soften due to deep subsidies of gas prices (subsidized by politicians’ neglect to update gas taxes, by domestic drilling tax breaks, and most recently by oil-exporting countries’ overproduction), and if new models fail to attract the public while too many models remain confined to “Compliance States”, the US might lose its global EV top spot next year.
Honorable Mentions:

The Volvo V60 PHV In Geneva Earlier This Year

As said at the start, while these 6 countries have been great for EVs this year (relatively, at least), it is hard to cobble together 10 fully deserving the title. Still, keep an eye out for Norway’s neighborSweden, where Volvo makes the continentally popular V60 PHEV, as well as a PHEV bus, and domestic EV sales are getting close to 2% market share, more than double last year’s. And the UK, where after years of apparently-futile infrastructure, subsidy and advocacy efforts, sales are finally taking off, having probably blown past 10k EVs (vs less than 3k for all of 2013).

Netherlands, whose EV market share is #2 in the world, and likely holds the single-month sales record for a single model (~5k Outlander PHEVs delivered December 2013), is where one might be more cynical regarding subsidies. Sales are so illogical and unstable there depending upon subsidy type and timing, and they are predominantly of PHEVs despite the country’s small size and dense QC infrastructure, which might have led one to expect it to be a BEV hotspot. Dutch EV sales will likely be down in 2014 vs. 2013, the question is only by how much. That said, relatively speaking there is still a ton of EVs sold there, way more than Holland’s twin Belgium, and still more than even Germany (although not for long).
Dishonorable Mentions:

Too many countries still play the role of EV laggards and dead weights. I will leave aside poorer countries, where there are multiple challenges. But Italy, Europe’s 4th largest auto market with ~1.5M sales/year, only had 1,510 EVs sold through November, hardly increasing over 2013. Italy’s flagship automaker Fiat which owns Chrysler, plays the Village Idiot on EVs, its CEO endlessly spouting anti-EV nonsense. At least Toyota (Fiat’s buddy for anti-EV spins) cranks out Prii, works on fuel-cell cars and has played an important role in Tesla’s development. Fiat-Chrysler just makes lousy inefficient ICE cars on both sides of the ocean, and tries to get away with it by trash-talking.

The Original Better Place Demo Center In Israel

On to my home country of Israel. In mid-2012 Israel could stake a valid claim to the EV Top 5, demonstrating that small countries can play a big role too, all thanks to the megalomaniac Better Place battery-swapping venture. But by fall 2012 things were going haywire, and in May 2013 Better Place went bust and with it, its infrastructure – not just swap stations but even public L2 chargers. This is old news in EV world, so why the dishonorable mention for 2014? Because a few months ago, InsideEVs informed us that hundreds of unsold Better Place Fluence ZEs were left to literally rot in a lot next to Israel’s Ashdod port, and had to be scrapped. Those could have been perfectly working commuting BEVs somewhere, had someone along the line been minimally responsible in his actions. Counting these losses, given its currently almost-nonexistent new EV sales, Israel is actually recording for 2014 a “minus” for overall EVs added.

Double Honorable-and-Dishonorable Mention:

Last but not least, South Korea deserves both honorable and dishonorable mention. Besides Dawoo (a.k.a. GM South Korea) making the Spark EV, a few months ago Kia launched the BEV version of its Soul – the first true “one-up” global challenge to the Leaf in terms of size/range/price tradeoff. The Soul EV is selling pretty well in Europe, however, Korea’s domestic EV market which could, and should, be doing great is apparently hampered by some person with poor judgement in the Transportation department, who ruled that BEVs should not be allowed on highways in Seoul! (or any road with a posted speed limit over 60 km/h ~ 37 mph) Hopefully someone finds him soon and knocks some sense into his head.

Mercedes: Ecoluxe electric platform Automobile has a lengthy piece this month on how the four German mass-market luxury manufacturers each plan to go after Tesla with their own electric vehicles. It was written by Georg Kacher, the magazine's European bureau chief, and the English version came a month after he wrote the German-language original for Autobild. Tesla isn't exactly a threat to the Germans, but, according to the report, the Model S is planting the right kinds of seeds in niches that are important to the luxury players. The thinking is that - in addition to needed electric vehicles anyway for stricter US regulations - it's better to start designing the machinery now.

The article posited Porsche's attack would rest on the coming Panamera platform, but a big hurdle would be battery placement. Unable to find one large space for a lithium-ion pack, engineers would instead put batteries everywhere they could, for a supposed tally of some "108 battery pouches" throughout the body. A few days after the Automobile piece, however, Porsche publicly said it had no intention of challenging the Model S, because the enthusiastic driving the brand is known for doesn't jive with useful range.

In Kacher's retelling, Mercedes' plans are even more ambitious, supposedly taking aim at the Model S and the comingModel X. It would do this with an investment in excess of $2 billion in a program called "Ecoluxe" – Mercedes has no brand division akin to BMW's i and Audi's e-tron.

The new brand would create a four-strong family of bespoke electric vehicles: a smaller platform with a wheelbase around 106 inches and a larger one with a wheelbase around 118 inches. In addition, the range would have "provisions for rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, and rear-wheel steering." The numbers are impressive: seating for seven in the larger vehicles, both longer than 16 feet, front and rear storage areas, ratings of up to 610 horsepower and production capacity of 80,000 units per year. When would we see such creatures? Perhaps as soon as 2019.

China: JAC iEV5 photo

This is the JAC iEV5, a new electric car for China, seen here on a high tech exhibition in Shenzhen in Guangdong Province. The JAC iEV5 debuted in April on the Beijing Auto Show and will finally launch on the Chinese electric vehicle market in early 2015.

Nissan: we will sell 25% more Leafs in 2015 With the Nissan Leaf seeing record sales in Europe this year, the Japanese automaker expects to increase sales of the EV by up to 25 percent in 2015.

According to Nissan Europe’s electric cars director Jean-Pierre Diernaz, Leaf sales are likely to rise significantly in the region in 2015. “I think next year we should see double-digit growth again,” he told Automotive News Europe at an event held at Nissan’s car factory in Sunderland, England.

Nissan Leaf sales rose 40 percent to 12,655 units through October, making the Leaf Europe’s top-selling EV, according to data from JATO Dynamics.

Customers are warming up to the Leaf thanks to lower sticker prices and leasing rates compared to 2010 when the model launched in Europe. The average lease rate for the Leaf in Europe has dropped to about €250 a month from €400 in 2010. In France, where the government offers generous incentives, the Leaf can be leased for as low as €169 a month.

Since 2013, when Nissan transferred production of European versions of the Leaf from Japan to the UK, the company has achieved cost savings, which have been passed on to buyers, Diernaz said.

Nissan offers significant discounts in some markets. In the UK, for example, the company offers a Leaf Visia with £3,200 off (€4,066), which drops the price including batteries to £18,290 - a price similar to compact cars such as the VW Golf and Ford Focus.

Despite the lower prices, Diernaz says the Leaf is still profitable for Nissan in Europe.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Danish charging network adds 100 multi-standard DC rapid chargers Danish electomobility operator CLEVER plans to expand its charging network in Denmark and neighboring countries with 100 ABB Terra 53 multi-standard DC fast charging stations.

The new chargers will be installed through partners, including Öresundskraftin Sweden. The network will continue expanding into other countries with support from the European TEN-T funding program.

CLEVER currently operates 100 charging locations in Denmark, including both AC and DC chargers.

ABB’s Terra 53 offers connectivity features that allow the stations to be remotely monitored, and the ABB Charger Care service program can respond to any service or maintenance needs. ABB’s connected platform also provides a backbone for CLEVER’s payment solutions and administrative systems, and allows the charging stations to connect to smart grids.

“For EV consumers and network operators it is critical to have confidence that EV charging is as available, reliable, and convenient as traditional mobility,” said CLEVER CEO Lars Bording. “That makes it critical for rapidly emerging markets to have partners who not only offer hardware but also the experience and proven solutions for commerce, administration and related services, and who understand how to connect all this to the grid.”

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Limo Service In Chicago Using Tesla’s Model S EVs Is Booming You may remember hearing pretty recently about a chauffeuring service using Tesla Model SEVs opening up in the city of Chicago — beginning operations just a couple of months ago, in October.

Well, apparently, that company — E-Motion Chauffeurs and Hires — has struck it big… to use a somewhat inappropriate expression (they do use EVs after all, not gas-powered vehicles).

Demand was actually so strong during the first week that the company’s servers crashed. Owing to ongoing success, the company recently placed an order for six more EVs from Tesla — this time the all-wheel drive Model S P85D, rather than the lower-speed standard Model S’s.

GAS2 provides more:

Company owner Abdullah Illahi is no stranger to the world of commerce. He is a successful commodity trader who knows that to break into a competitive market, you need an edge. Illahi figured using Teslas exclusively would give him the advantage he needed. “We are completely booked and I’ve been looking for other Tesla owners to try to cover some of our overflows,” Illahi told in an interview. As part of his marketing strategy, his cars are the only ones in the world that are completely black inside and out.

In addition to the environmental considerations of using only zero emissions cars, Illahi expects maintenance costs for his fleet will be far lower than they would be for gasoline powered cars. He isn’t alone in his thinking either; Tesla Tours out of Portland takes customers on vineyard trips across the Oregon wine country, and in London the high-tech GLiiDE taxi service also uses the Model S exclusively.

Illahi is already now aiming to expand his company’s service area to another major American city — apparently either New York or Los Angeles. “We’ve gotten a lot of regulars from New York. They love Teslas and would love to see us take our business to Wall Street.”

To be honest, his marketing strategy seems to have worked on me, because I’m all of a sudden considering utilizing the company’s services next time that I’m in Chicago.

The EV Tipping Point Will Come Quickly An Interview With Fastned CEO Michiel Langezaal; Why The Mass Adoption Of EVs Is Inevitable

Though the Netherlands’ EV sales are picking up, Fastned cofounder & CEO Michiel Langezaal does not think they will reach the national goal of 200,000 EVs and plug-in hybrids on the road by 2020. There are still parts of the country that are beyond the reach of EVs with a 100-kilometers-per-charge range. Around 85% of the population does not have parking spaces at home where they can charge. Yet Langezaal says the EV tipping point will come quickly.

He gave four reasons for expecting to see EVs replace gas cars:
Batteries get better every year. They charge faster, hold more energy, last longer, and are cheaper.

Charging will eventually be as easy as filling up at a gas station.

Once the infrastructure is there, the switch to electric will be much easier.
Electric cars are “computers on wheels,” developed by software engineers. A gasoline car has one function, going forward. The apt comparison is an old dial phone to an iPhone.

The Dutch may not meet their target for 2020, but Langezaal expects to surge past the goal of 1 million EVs and plug-in hybrids by 2025.

“One million is only 15% of the total cars in the Netherlands,” he explained. “History shows us that once you hit 5% or 6%, if the product is better, then the breakthrough comes much quicker. So I think that 2020 figure will be hard to achieve. We will work very hard, 200,000 is quite a lot, but beyond 2020 we will not go to one million cars on the roads we will go to 8 million.”
Europe’s Electric Corridor

Fastned recently received €2 million from the EU to build 94 charging stations in Germany and the Netherlands.

This is part of a €4.2 million subsidy for a consortium of EV charging companies in four nations. The other members are CLEVER A/S from Denmark, Öresundskraft AB from Sweden, VDE Prüf-und Zertifizierungsinstitut GmbH from Germany, and the international EV-charging giant ABB. They will build an electric corridor that encompasses 35 locations in Sweden, 23 in Denmark, 30 in the Netherlands, and 67 in Germany.

“We’re working on the concessions for the locations (in Germany), after that comes building permits,” said Langezaal. “It could take a year, or two years before we start to build. It very much depends on government and my experience is that it takes years.”

He added, “Let’s hope we can use what we learned in the Netherlands to accelerate them.”

German automakers realize they need to build EVs if they want to survive, but they are still nervous. They are following behind Tesla and Nissan, who made that step three or four years ago. Last week, the German car magazine Autobild published a story about the opposition to Tesla.

“Changing a 100,000 people company to build electric cars is not easy,” conceded Langezaal.

There is not much growth in the German market, but the government has signed on to this deal. Langezall said that stamp of approval will be helpful when they start applying for permits. He also believes Germany will continue to lag behind Norway and the Netherlands for two or three years.

Fastned is a marked improvement over the slow charging network that Dutch municipalities like Amsterdam have invested in.

People don’t want slow chargers anymore. Some have even asked dealerships to take vehicles back, after discovering they cannot be fast charged.

Fastned originated as a Delft University startup, in 2010. One of the cornerstones of its success was acquiring 200 prime locations along the Netherlands’ highways.

“In the last two years, Fastned has looked like a real estate company: getting approval and permits; getting grid connections,” said Langezaal.

He added, “It’s like a flow pipe. At the beginning you’re pumping in stuff and at some point it starts flowing out the other side. I think things are beginning to flow.”

Fastned builds its charging stations in 2 to 2½ weeks (it takes 6 to 8 weeks for a gas station). It currently has 19 operational locations and another 10 in the planning stage. Fastned has been adding a new station every week since September.

Langezaal says EV owners are phoning the company every day. As there are only 4 superchargers in the Netherlands, even Tesla owners want to know if they can use Fastned stations.