Saturday, 28 March 2015

Ultra low emission zone for London The world's first "ultra low emission zone" will be introduced in central London in 2020 to tackle air pollution, mayor Boris Johnson has confirmed.

The world's first "ultra low emission zone" will be introduced in central London in 2020 to tackle air pollution, mayor Boris Johnson has confirmed.

The move will require vehicles driving in the congestion charge zone to meet new emissions standards at all times of the day and week, or pay a charge, as part of efforts to cut pollution which causes thousands of premature deaths in the capital each year.

The scheme will reduce the most harmful exhaust pollutants by more than half, officials said.

An extra £25 million is being provided by the Government for grants to help taxi drivers cover the cost of upgrading to a greener vehicle, in addition to £40 million already pledged by the mayor to help cabbies retire the oldest, most polluting taxis.

By 2018, all new taxis and all private hire vehicles under 18 months old presented for licensing in the capital for the first time must be capable of emitting zero emissions, Mr Johnson said.

By 2020, all single decker buses in London will be electric vehicles that produce no traffic fumes, while all 3,000 double deckers will be hybrids with lower emissions.

The charge for cars, motorbikes and vans which do not meet the ultra low emissions standards will be £12.50 a day, while heavy goods vehicles, buses and coaches face a £100 a day charge.

Ministers and City Hall have come under fire from campaigners for failing to tackle air pollution in London and across the UK, with warnings that 29,000 people die prematurely each year because of pollutants in towns and cities.

The European Commission has launched legal action against the UK for its failure to reach targets - which should have been met by January 2010 - to cut excessive levels of air pollutant nitrogen dioxide, which mostly comes from traffic fumes.

Mr Johnson made the announcement at a visit to the factory of Chinese giant Geely, in Coventry, which will develop the next generation London black cab, an ultra low emission vehicle, to comply with the new regulations.

He said: "The world's first ultra low emission zone is an essential measure to help improve air quality in our city, protect the health of Londoners, and lengthen our lead as the greatest city on earth.

"With additional funds announced today, more help is on the way for taxi drivers to support their transition to the latest technology in greener cabs.

"Together we can ensure everyone who lives, works in, or visits our city has the cleanest possible air to breathe."

Prime Minister David Cameron said: "I welcome this announcement which is a world first and great news for London, helping to enhance the quality of life and creating opportunities for companies who develop and manufacture this kind of technology.

"This will build on the UK's strengths in low emission technology and the Government is backing this initiative with £25 million of support."

Labour's London Assembly environment spokesman Murad Qureshi said: "Whilst welcome, today's confirmation that the ultra low emission zone (ULEZ) will be introduced in 2020 will come far too late for the 7,500 people a year who are estimated to die as a result of air pollution, London's silent killer.

"Boris Johnson has had seven years to get to grips with the capital's pollution problem yet on his watch progress has stalled despite growing medical evidence that it costs lives.

"By allowing all London boroughs to opt into the ULEZ, instead of limiting it to a small inner London zone as the mayor proposes, we would be able to improve the air quality of the whole capital.

"Boris Johnson's limited ambition, and the significant exemptions to the ULEZ, risk undermining its effectiveness and condemning vast swathes of the capital to an increasingly toxic future."

The Five Most Ignorant Media Myths About Electric Cars

2015 Nissan Leaf

GreenCar We spend more time than we probably should in grumbling at media coverage of plug-in electric cars.

Journalists try to get it right, in general, but often the specific and complex issues around electric cars, who buys them, and how they're really used get lost or ignored in general reporting.

At one reader's suggestion, then, here are the five myths about electric cars we see most often.

U.S. Gasoline Price vs Sales of Plug-In Vehicles, Dec 2010-Nov 2014 [source: Plug-In America]

(1) Gas prices will hurt or kill sales of plug-in electric cars

It's possible that this will happen, but as of yet, there'll little data to suggest that.

And the data from a four-year study by Plug-In America of gas price fluctuations versus sales of plug-in cars shows gasoline costs bouncing around while electric-vehicle sales rise more or less consistently.

The recent, sharp, sudden dip in gas prices might have a different effect--although consumers largely don't trust that prices will stay low.

And, indeed, in California, gas prices have recently risen by up to a dollar a gallon from their lows last fall.

Mark this one mythical, although potentially true if there turns out to be data.

Chevrolet Bolt EV concept, 2015 Detroit Auto Show

(2) The 200-mile 2017 Chevrolet Bolt will compete with Tesla
There may be some overlap, but a sexy five-seat mid-size luxury sport sedan priced from $70,000 to $130,000 rarely competes with subcompact hatchbacks.

The powertrain may put them in the same consideration set among some buyers, granted.

But we think the Bolt will do much more to expand the market than to hurt Tesla. And that's pretty much what Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said, at various points.

His comments boil down to the old adage, "A rising tide (of electric cars) lifts all boats (among their makers)."

ALSO SEE: Public Charging: Not As Important For Electric Cars As People Think?

(3) Without widespread public charging infrastructure, electric cars are doomed

This is another myth that pretty much refuses to die, despite recent studies suggesting that charging at home--and, crucially, at work--are by far the most important locations.

You can prove this one by asking electric-car owners when the last time they used a public charging station.

Some use them regularly, but our sense after talking to dozens (if not hundreds) is that many of them are quite content to charge overnight, and maybe at work.

We'd love to see additional data on this, but given that most Chevy Volt owners still just use their 120-Volt charging cables--not even a Level 2 charging station--in their garages, we sense it's just not that much of an issue.

2011 Nissan Leaf electric car during IIHS crash testing

(4) Plug-in vehicles are unsafe, and their batteries will fail in only a couple of years

Two in one here.

As for safety, automakers have largely received good crash-safety ratings for the electric cars that have been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

We'll be curious to see how the BMW i3, with its carbon-fiber reinforced plastic body, fares in those tests as the first of its kind.

As for battery durability, there have been a small handful of Nissan Leafs in extremely hot climates that have lost capacity more rapidly than expected.

The vast majority have not, and Nissan says a new battery chemistry vastly increases the hot-weather durability of current Leafs.

And every manufacturer warranties its battery pack against failure for either eight or 10 years, depending on what state the car is sold in.

Gas pump

(5) Electric car sales are a failure because they haven't overtaken gas cars

RLY? This one we just laugh at.

It took technology advances like the automatic transmission, disc brakes, and fuel injection literally decades to arrive in a majority of the cars sold.

To think that electric-car sales would be half of a 16-million-unit U.S. market in less than five years is idiotic.

Or, put more charitably, it betrays an extreme lack of knowledge of the auto business.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Electric-Car Battery Costs Already Cheaper Than 2020 Predictions: Study

Tesla Motors - Model S lithium-ion battery pack

GreenCar It's widely assumed that electric cars will never emerge into the mass market if buying them requires paying a significant premium over comparable internal-combustion models.

While owners may save money on fuel and maintenance over the long term, a higher initial purchase price remains intimidating, and take time to amortize.

And by far the most expensive component of a plug-in electric car is its battery pack.

But there's good news: The price of lithium-ion cells for those packs is dropping. Fast.

A new study claims electric-car batteries are already cheaper than previous estimates for 2020, reportsThe Carbon Brief.

A123 Systems lithium-ion battery cells

Back in 2013, the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimated that it would take until 2020 for cell costs to sink to $300 per kilowatt-hour.

Yet researchers suggest that the electric-car industry may already have reached that goal.

Research estimates put the drop in industry-wide costs at $1,000 per kWh between 2007 and 2014, reducing costs to as low as $140 per kWh.

The study also claims that certain "market-leading firms" such as Nissan and Tesla have also smashed the IEA's $300-per-kWh barrier.

The study is based on 85 cost estimates from peer-reviewed academic publications, as well as reports from analysts, the media, and from the battery and car manufacturers themselves.

The authors note that this constitutes an incomplete body of data. Companies rarely disclose their true costs of manufacturing to the public, they note.

2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid - battery cutaway

Echoing other analyses, they also say battery costs will have to fall further for electric cars to gain mass appeal.

For the U.S., they estimate, costs must drop to less than $150 per kWh for electric cars to move "beyond niche applications."

A figure of $100 per kWh is often cited as the threshold at which electric cars can become price-competitive with internal-combustion models.

The quest to cut costs has led to enormous research into alternatives to today's lithium-ion chemistries.

Volkswagen, for example, is reportedly mulling investing in the development of solid-state batteries for future electric cars.

Those developments are "still distant," the study's authors say. They believe economies of scale are more likely to bring costs down.

Tesla battery gigafactory site, Reno, Nevada, Feb 25, 2015 [photo: CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 Bob Tregilus]

Tesla Motors is currently testing that theory with its Nevada "Gigafactory." When it opens in 2017, the factory is intended to produce cells on a sufficiently large scale to realize a $35,000 base price for the Model 3 sedan.

Even with the current momentum, a dramatic drop in prices likely won't happen overnight.

Lithium-ion cell prices currently average $496 per kWh, according to a different battery-cost estimatepublished in The Washington Post. It claims that the figure represents a 60-percent drop since 2010.

At that rate, cell prices will reach $175 per kWh in five years, which would put parity with internal combustion some distance away.

In the long run, carmakers must produce cars at a profit and sell enough of them to realize economies of scale.

Nissan has said that it expects to break even on the first-generation Leaf, when all is said and done. The Leaf is by far the highest-volume electric car in the world, with total sales that will cross 200,000 this year.

That suggests that the next Leaf, which is expected to offer some models with ranges of 120 to 150 mile--perhaps more--will be both more appealing to buyers and profitable for its maker.

And cheaper batteries, as always, will make that happen.

Formula E targeting races without car changes by 2018/19 season Formula E is on course to become an open formula in its fifth season, 2018/19, when it is planned that each driver will use only one car during the 45-minute races.

The championship has laid out what series boss Alejandro Agag is calling a "five-year road map" to achieve the goal of ending the practice of drivers swapping between cars mid-race.

The first step is to allow development of the powertrains in 2015/16 and batteries in 2016/17, while mandating the use of the existing Spark-Renault SRT_01E chassis.

The road map will also allow for an increase in the amount of energy that can be released from the battery. It will go up in steps from the current 28kw/h to 33kw/h in seasons three and four, and up to more than 40kw/h for season five in 2018/19.

Agag told AUTOSPORT: "I believe we will be able to retain a single chassis for four seasons, but I don't think that will be possible if we are to stop needing to have two cars for each race.

"Teams will go for quite radical technologies, which means they will need their own chassis."

Andretti Formula E team principal Roger Griffiths said that the shift to one-car races would require "a complete change".

"You'd probably need a car with four-wheel-drive, so you could harvest off the front axle, for example," he explained.

China Racing boss Steven Lu warned of the importance of maintaining controls on costs, should Formula E become an open formula.

"We must discuss how we can keep the costs under control," he said.

"We must remember that we are not Formula 1."

The power available from the electric motors will also increase in stages, rising from this year's 150kw in race specification to 170kw next season and 200kw - the same as the present qualifying level - for seasons three to five.

Seven of the 10 Formula E teams have registered as so-called manufacturers along with Renault, a sponsor of both the e.dams team and the series.

China Racing is represented by NEXTEV TCR, a new company set up by Lu, while Motomatica is a joint venture between the Trulli team and Italian technology company Tecnomatica.

A number of teams are expected to come up with their own specifications for the motor and gearbox, which would then be produced by McLaren and Hewland respectively.

The other two teams, Aguri and Dragon will have the right to purchase technology from one of the registered manufacturers at a capped cost.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Public Charging: Not As Important For Electric Cars As People Think? Ask any electric-car advocate, and they'll likely list availability of public charging as one of the key requirements to getting more people interested in plug-in vehicles.

The availability of public charging stations reduces range anxiety and gives drivers greater trip flexibility.

That would logically seem to make electric cars more desirable to consumers.

Yet a new study claims that's not the case.

There is no correlation between charging infrastructure and increased consumer interest in electric cars, researchers from Canada's Simon Fraser University (via ChargedEVs) say.

The relationship between awareness of available public charging and electric-car demand is "weak or nonexistent," claims Professor Jonn Axsen, leader of the study.

Published in the journal Transportation Research Part D, the study is based on a poll of 1,739 households in Canada.

Respondents were asked about their awareness of local charging infrastructure, and their interest in purchasing a plug-in car.

Respondents appeared aware of charging infrastructure in their area.

Simon Fraser University's home province of British Columbia has worked to install public charging stations--about 500 were in place when the poll was conducted in 2013.

Sure enough, about one third of British Columbia residents said they had seen at least one public charging station, compared to 13 percent for the rest of Canada.

However, the study found that respondents were more interested in plug-in hybrids--which in this case included the Chevrolet Volt--than in all-electric cars.

These two results led Axsen and his team to conclude that public charging infrastructure is less important than other policies, such as purchase incentives.

He recommended that regional governments focus on those, as well as on policies that help to better facilitate home charging.

Also recommended: a zero-emission vehicle mandate, similar to the one implemented for 2012 byCalifornia.

It's worth noting that many electric-car drivers primarily charge at home or at work. The amount of time cars sit idle and the short distance of most commutes mean this is often all that's needed.

However, for breaks from the daily routine--or longer trips--extensive public charging infrastructure is still needed.

After all, while home and work charging may be practical in many situations, combining it with public charging covers all the bases.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Electric vehicles' second-hand value 'similar to diesels' Pricing company Glass's says growing familiarity with technology among dealers and consumers is closing gap on competitors

The value of second-hand electric cars is closing the gap on diesels and could overtake them as used-car retailers and buyers became more familiar with the technology.

Trade pricing bible Glass's says in many cases residual value forecasts for electric vehicles (EVs) are already broadly similar to diesels, which could spur even greater uptake of low-carbon vehicles.

Rupert Pontin, head of valuations at Glass's, said the "gold standard" for EVs is the Tesla model S, whose 220-mile range ensures its three-year/60,000 mile value is about 43 per cent – almost exactly the same as well-established direct competitor the BMW M535D M Sport.

However, the residual value of EVs across the market is closing in on diesel competitors. The Vauxhall Ampera Electron's residual value of around 28 per cent after three years or 60,000 miles is bearing down on the Insignia SRI CDTi's 35 per cent, while the BMW i3 extender Suite at 39 per cent is just a few points away from the BMW 320d Sport's 43 per cent.

"Clearly, there is still a difference here between EVs and diesels but there are signs that it is closing all the time," Pontin added. "Crucially, when the overall running costs of an EV are taken into account, factors such as savings on fuel mean that they may beat traditional models."

EV ownership has increased remarkably after a slow start, with registrations under the government's plug-in grant scheme quadrupling over 2014. Initial sluggish uptake was attributed to fears over the range of EVs and how fast they might lose their value, especially as there was little transparency about how much battery packs might be to replace.

Renault offers battery leasing to get around the problem, but there are also signs that manufacturers have listened to consumers – after much pressing, Nissan has announced a new battery pack for the Leaf EV would cost €5,000 (£3,600), taking away a large degree of uncertainty over residual value (RV).

EU legislation setting a target of 95 grams of CO2 emissions per kilometre for average new cars in 2020 is likely to drive the market and with as many as 40 new EV models expected to go on sale in the next three years, RVs are expected to continue to hold up.

"EVs of one kind or another currently account for about two per cent of the market," Pontin said. "However, if the UK is to meet its 2020 emissions target of 95g/km per vehicle, their penetration must increase quite rapidly. As this happens and they become a more familiar part of our daily lives, we expect EV RVs to firm up and stabilise."

UK Highways Agency commissions study into wireless power on roads The Highways Agency has commissioned the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) to undertake a feasibility study into the use of dynamic wireless power transfer (WPT) on Britain’s roads.

The Highways Angency wants to understand whether WPT can be used on motorways and major A roads, so it can prepare for and “potentially encourage” greater uptake of electric vehicles (EV).

Scheduled to report in spring this year, TRL will identify two near-market dynamic WPT technologies that could be suitable in future research and trials of the technology in the UK. The feasibility study will also consider “the requirements for integration with road infrastructure and maintenance, connection to the grid and requirements for provision of power and energy”.

In addition, TRL will look into approaches by vehicle manufacturers of integration into different classes of vehicle from cars to HGVs and busses, and investigate the viability of introducing the technology.

TRL said in a statement: “The purpose of the project is not to find an alternative to current plug-in charging infrastructure but rather to develop a comprehensive charging eco-system capable of delivering power to EVs via different methods. This is to facilitate greater and more flexible use of EVs in the UK, overcome range anxiety and allow switching to zero emission for vehicle types that have traditionally been accepted as not suitable for electrification, such as HGVs and coaches.”

Once the study is completed, TRL said it could be followed by a series of off-road “test track trials and accelerated pavement facility testing”.

Hon Hai (Foxconn) and Tencent partner in electric car business

(Reuters) - Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd on Monday said it has partnered Chinese social networker Tencent Holdings Ltd to develop opportunities related to electric vehicles, marking the latest tech foray into "smart" cars.

Hon Hai, WeChat operator Tencent and luxury car dealer China Harmony Auto Holding Ltd signed an agreement to work together in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou, Henan province, the contract manufacturer said without detailing specifics.

The partnership would put Tencent on a par with online peers Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Baidu Inc, which have already moved into the nascent market for Internet-connected cars vie tie-ups with major auto makers.

Hon Hai said the coalition would form a working team drawing on its manufacturingcapabilities, Tencent's Internet platform and China Harmony Auto's dealership network, to explore commercial possibilities in smart electric vehicles.

Hon Hai, known more for assembling the bulk of Apple Inc's iPhones, already has experience with electric vehicles having manufactured the touch screens in some cars made by U.S. automaker Tesla Motors Inc.

The absence of a carmaker from its new partnership appears to put the group on a different tack to that of Alibaba or Baidu in targeting electric vehicles.

That market has largely failed to flourish in China, though the government has given it years of subsidies and support. The government has redoubled efforts to promote electric vehicles, renewing tax breaks and setting aggressive emission standards.

Hon Hai has manufacturing operations across China and has been working to diversify from the competitive, low-margin contract business. As part of that drive, it bought around 10 percent of Zhengzhou-based China Harmony Auto last year.

China Harmony Auto was not available to comment on the latest partnership. Tencent declined to provide immediate comment.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Electric vehicle batteries 'already cheaper than 2020 projections' The cost of electric vehicle battery packs is falling so rapidly they are probably already cheaper than expected for 2020, according to a new study in Nature Climate Change.

Electric vehicles remain more expensive than combustion-engine equivalents, largely because of battery costs. In 2013 the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimated cost-parity could be reached in 2020, with battery costs reaching $300 per kilowatt hour of capacity.

But market-leading firms were probably already producing cheaper batteries last year, says today's new research. It says its figures are "two to four times lower than many recent peer-reviewed papers have suggested".

High costs, falling

Even though the EU electric vehicle market grew by 37% year on year in 2014, it still made up less than 1% of total sales. High cost is a major reason why electric vehicles have failed to break through, alongside range and a lack of recharging infrastructure.

The new research is based on a review of 85 cost estimates in peer-reviewed research, agency estimates, consultancy and industry reports, news reports covering the views of industry representatives and experts and finally estimates from leading manufacturers.

It says industry-wide costs have fallen from above $1,000 per kilowatt hour in 2007 down to around $410 in 2014, a 14% annual reduction (blue marks, below). Costs for market-leading firms have fallen by 8% per year, reaching $300 per kilowatt hour in 2014 (green marks).

Cost estimates and future projections for electric vehicle battery packs, measured in $US per kilowatt hour of capacity. Each mark on the chart represents a documented estimate reviewed by the study. Source: Nykvist et al. (2015).

For the market-leading firms, shown in green on the chart above, costs last year were already at the bottom end of projections for 2020 (yellow triangles).

The paper estimates prices will fall further to around $230 per kilowatt hour in 2017-18, "on a par with the most optimistic future estimate among analysts". The crossover point where electric cars become cheapest depends on electricity costs, vehicle taxes and prices at the pump.

In the US, with current low oil prices, battery packs would need to fall below $250 per kilowatt hour for electric cars to become competitive, the study says. Behavioural barriers to electric vehicle uptake present additional hurdles to widespread adoption.

The paper says:

"If costs reach as low as $150 per kilowatt hour this means that electric vehicles will probably move beyond niche applications and begin to penetrate the market more widely, leading to a potential paradigm shift in vehicle technology."

Learning rate

To reach that level, costs will have to fall further. But a commercial breakthrough for the next generation of lithium batteries "is still distant", the paper says, and many improvements in cell chemistry have already been realised. This seems to pour cold water on frequent claims of new battery types "transforming" the electric vehicle market.

However, there are still savings to be made in manufacturing improvements, industry learning and economies of scale, which have already brought down costs in recent years. Cumulative global production and sales of electric vehicles are roughly doubling annually, the paper says.

That means the 30% cost reduction expected at Tesla Motors' planned "Gigafactory" battery plant by 2017 represents a "trajectory close to the trends projected in this paper". On the other hand Renault-Nissan's plans to build battery manufacturing capacity for 1.5 million cars by 2016 havehit the buffers as electric car sales have trailed expectations.

There are large uncertainties in the paper's findings. Despite being the most comprehensive review to date, it relies on "sparse data" and acknowledges that a secretive industry might avoid revealing high costs, or conversely might subsidise battery packs to gain market share.

Overall it is "possible" that economies of scale will push costs down towards $200 kilowatt hour "in the near future even without further cell chemistry improvements", the paper concludes. If the paper is right then electric vehicle uptake could exceed expectations. That will be a good thing for the climate - just as long as the electricity that fuels them is not from coal.

Global EV market reaches 740,000 cars, new study finds

BMW's i3 electric vehicle has performed well in its first year, selling 15,000 models and already one of the leading EVs globally.BMW
Analysis by the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research (ZSW) reveals 320,000 new electric vehicle registrations in 2014 as car battery suppliers hit $2.17 billion in revenue.

Germany’s Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemburg (ZSW) has released a report today revealing that the global market for electric vehicles (EV) now stands at 740,000 cars, with almost half (320,000) being registered in 2014.

This rapid growth has been spearheaded by a handful of market leaders, including the Nissan Leaf, Tesla’s Model S, the Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-In and the Honda Fit EV, which dominated new registrations in 2014.

As a result of this growth in the EV sector, car battery suppliers generated revenues of €2 billion ($2.17 billion) last year, with the U.S. market enjoying a particularly bullish year, growing 69% to bring the number of EV’s on the road stateside to 290,000 – which is more than one-in-three globally.

China is the world’s third-most robust EV market, growing by around 54,000 vehicles in 2014 – a 120% increase that leaves the country with close to 100,000 EVs on the road, just behind Japan, which has 110,000 EVs (growth rate of 45% in 2014).

The ZSW found that supportive policies in these three leading countries have helped accelerate EV adoption. In China, for example, domestically made EVs are subsidizied, making them cheaper to the end consumer, whereas Germany – in contrast – has no market incentives to encourage motorists to purchase an EV, resulting in just 11,700 new EV registrations last year, leaving the country in seventh position overall for EV adoption with around 29,600 cars.

As a percentage, EVs account for just 0.07% of all cars in Germany, whereas across Scandinavia that figure is 1.6%.

The report found that Nissan’s Leaf is far-and-away the most popular EV brand, with 150,000 Leaf models registered worldwide since its launch in 2010. Second in General Motors’ Chevrolet Volt, with 75,000 vehicles registered, followed by 60,000 Toyota Prius’s.

Tesla’s Model S has been sold 50,000 times, way ahead of BMW’s i3, of which there are currently only 15,000 on the road globally, but the first German model to really impact the EV market. Indeed, the i3 has only been on the market for just over 12 months, and thus its market share is actually considered impressive in such a short space of time.

The growth rate for the EV market is around 76%, according to ZSW, and the number of new EV registrations has increased twofold each year between 2012 and 2014. "If the momentum of recent years continues unabated, the number of electric cars worldwide will exceed one million in just a few months," said ZSW’s head of electrochemical energy technologies division, Werner Tillmetz.

As the ramped-up pace of EV manufacturing grabs the attention of the supplier industry, the market for lithium-ion batteries – currently the technology of choice for the leading EV producers – will develop in concordance with EV growth, believes Tillmetz.

Having generated revenues of €2 million in 2014, the li-ion battery market for EVs could be worth €15 billion ($16.2 billion) by 2020. "The German industry should continue to invest in the development of batteries and tenaciously strive to close the value chain," he added. "This way, Germany will be able to keep up with the leading nations and seize its export opportunities in an international market with a bright future."

BMW: pop-up stores coming to a US city near you BMW pop-up stores part of the BMW Future Retail Program

Last year, BMW opened a pop-up store in South Coast Plaza mall in Costa Mesa, California. The BMW Gallery was the first pop-store in the …

Last year, BMW opened a pop-up store in South Coast Plaza mall in Costa Mesa, California. The BMW Gallery was the first pop-store in the U.S. and it featured the i8 hybrid sports car. The high-scale store was decorated with large flat screens for configuring BMW cars, art from a local museum and merchandise boutique. The store aims to lure customers back to stores and are part of a global initiative called Future Retail which mimics the philosophy behind the popular Apple Stores – highly digitized, minimalistic and cool looking.

BMW aims to create a similar environment for its 339 U.S. dealers by 2019 wit a total cost of $500 million.

The California-based trial store doesn’t allow direct sales, but it can register visitors for a test drive with one of the five participating local dealers. The five dealerships will be involved in another pop-up store in the same mall in June, in a space that will house more than one car.

Peter Miles, BMW NA VP of Sales Channel Development and Customer Relations, toldAutomotive News that nearly 2,400 people went through the store on its peak day. More than 100,000 people visited the store since it opened.

Local dealers are seeing some success with the store. A special edition 5 Series was featured during Black Friday which led to 20-plus sales. “It was a great result and had a great impact on our business here,” said Steve Rudkin, general manager of Irvine BMW.

Miles also says that the Future Retail program is a response to the lead generator that have gotten between the customers and dealers. “[Future Retail] is the umbrella of the facility, people and processes change,” said Miles. “We are on a mission to earn back our customers from third parties that sell us leads because we lost the trust and the transparency of our customers — that is why the digital environment has been so successful over the last 20 years,” Miles added.

Another dealer in North Carolina is a supporter of this new initiative. “In today’s world, we are not just operating in the automotive retail space; we are being benchmarked and compared to the Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons and other luxury retailers,” says John Desmond, market area vice president for Hendrick Automotive Group.

So far 22 dealerships have been updated or rebuilt, with 147 letters of intent being signed.

The store design is influenced by the work of late modernist German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe with an emphasis on open space, lots of glass and natural light. The showroom is open and free-flowing. Large, virtual display screens are required. “We can control up to eight channels of what goes on that screen, whether it is a marketing message, a new car, or if we want to advertise a specific model,” said Greg Marks, head of BMW’s center development.

BMW dealers are also required to install an Isetta Bar which serves fruit-infused water with different flavors every day. The air in the dealership carries the Asian Gardens scent, the same scent used at the Encore Hotel in Las Vegas, Laham said.

Future Luxury aims to change the shopping experience of a new BMW, from a sombre environment to one that invites customers in and creates a positive and rewarding experience.

Taiwan companies enter wireless charging market Taipei, March 22 (CNA): Taiwanese microcontroller and semiconductor companies, including Generalplus Technology Inc. (凌通) and MediaTek Inc. (聯發科) have began efforts to capture the nascent market for wireless charging, a feature that is increasingly common with wearable devices.

According to research institute IHS, the market for mobile device wireless charging is expected to surge from US$15 million last year to US$480 million by the end of this year and expand beyond US$1 billion by 2019.

After early success by a few pioneers in the niche market, the growing popularity of wearable devices will be marked by the forthcoming release of the Apple Watch on April 24.

Although the high-profile smartwatch from the U.S. technology giant will come equipped with Apple's proprietary wireless charging solution, industry observers say the feature is expected to see rapid growth as it becomes more mainstream.

Samsung, the world's second largest smartphone maker as of the fourth quarter of last year, recently unveiled its Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge flagships, both of which are designed to be compatible with the two major wireless charging platforms, while Huawei, one of the top Chinese mobile device makers also unveiled a smartwatch product geared for the high-end market.

In addition, IKEA announced that it will release a series of wireless charging-equipped furniture, with Starbucks Coffee Co. pledging to provide wireless-charging at more of its branches.

MediaTek announced that its MT3188 chipset recently passed compatibility certification for the BSS 1.2 standard set by Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP), the Qi standard established by Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) and the receiver specification 1.0 standard of Power Matters Alliance's (PMA), and will begin mass production.

In addition to MediaTek, power management chip makers Richtek (立錡) and ENE Technology Inc. (迅杰) have also adopted a diversified approach to wireless charging networks by joining both the WPC and A4WP alliances.

Meanwhile, Anpec Electronics Co. (茂達) announced that its wireless charging products, based on the WPC standard for tablets and smartphones, will be ready for the market no later than the third quarter of this year.

World EV sales January 2015

This from CleanTechnica via EV Sales blog:

Driverless car begins historic 3,500-mile cross-country road trip from California to New York Delphi Automotive began cross-country test of driverless vehicle on Sunday. The car left San Francisco and is headed to New York for an April 3 car show. Two people will be in the specially rigged Audi in case of emergencies. Car includes 20 sensors, including four radars and laser mapping system.

Drivers across America be warned - there's an 'unmanned' car on the road.

A driverless car is currently on a cross-country road trip to test the state-of-the-art technology that allows a driver to sit back and relax with no hands on the wheel.

Delphi Automotive launched the first coast-to-coast test of a driverless car on Sunday, starting at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

For the next week, the specially rigged Audi SQ5 SUV will be headed on a 3,500 mile journey to New York City.

It is expected to arrive before the New York International Auto Show on April 3, ending what Delphi Automotive describes as the 'longest automated drive ever attempted in North America'

'Look ma, no hands': Delphi Automotive started the first cross-county test drive of an automatic car (pictured), starting in San Francisco

Take off: Two people will be in the car at all times during the journey from San Francisco to New York for an automotive show

Test run: Delphi is using the cross-country trip to gather data and check on the car's safety systems

But Delphi insists that drivers on the road shouldn't be scared if they pass by their test vehicle.

Two people will be in the car at all times to take over the controls in emergencies - or more often, construction zones.

Delphi, one of the largest suppliers of automotive electronics and safety systems, is using the long journey in the Audi crossover to acquire 2.3 terabytes data from a sophisticated array of cameras, radar and lidar - a laser mapping technology.

The Delphi drive kicked off March 22 near San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, with plans to wind up in New York City just before the annual auto show opens there on April 3.

During the coast-to-coast journey in the Audi, at least two Delphi engineers will be aboard, including one behind the wheel.

The venture informed all of the states it will pass through about its unmanned car, and all of them agreed to let the vehicle travel on their roads.

The car comes with 20 sensors including four short-range radars, three vision-based cameras, six lidars, a localization system and a driver assistance program.

The Michigan-based firm also wants to test and demonstrate its wireless and active safety systems.

Delphi's demonstration underscores growing interest and investments by automakers and suppliers in self-driving cars, some of which could be production-ready by 2020.

Jeff Owens, Delphi's chief technology officer, sees the automated driver assistance systems in the Audi as building blocks on the road to fully self-driving cars in the next decade.

Delphi has been working on automated cars since 1999, when it split from GM, according to Ars Technica.

Google, which has also been working on self-driving cars, has made public statements about having such a vehicle available in five years.

The tech giant has been testing out its vehicles around its Mountain View, California, campus.

Tesla Motors, the electric car brainchild of Elon Musk, also announced last week that new software out this summer will let cars be largely automatic on the highway.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Mercedes: 10 new PHEVs by 2017 Mercedes-Benz is aiming to introduce at least 10 new plug-in hybrid electric vehicle models by the year 2017, according to recent reports.

This push won’t be accompanied by a significant push towards all-electric vehicles, though, based on comments from company reps — not for the next couple of years anyways.

The new target means that Mercedes will be expected to release one new plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) every 4 months or so, on average. That’s a pretty significant rate of release, representing what seems to be the company’s full embrace of the technology.

“Plug-in hybrids are a key technology on the road to the local emission-free future of the automobile,” stated Professor Dr Thomas Weber, a member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development. “Plug-in hybrids offer our customers the best of both worlds; in the city they can drive in all-electric mode, while on long journeys they benefit from the combustion engine’s range. In addition, hybridization makes the combustion engine more efficient and brings with it a special type of dynamic performance – making driving an absolute pleasure.”

The company has, reportedly, lowered the total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of its European fleet by more than 40% over the last few years — not a bad start, and a trend that will continue, conspidering the company’s new goals.

On that note, the company’s new C 350 PHEV reportedly possess full lifecycle CO2 emissions up to 41% lower than the gas-powered C 250.

EVs Cool Cities - One For The Geeks There is an increasingly hot debate on whether the replacement of conventional vehicles (CVs) by electric vehicles (EVs) should be delayed or accelerated since EVs require higher cost and cause more pollution than CVs in the manufacturing process. Here we reveal two hidden benefits of EVs for addressing climate change to support the imperative acceleration of replacing CVs with EVs. As EVs emit much less heat than CVs within the same mileage, the replacement can mitigate urban heat island effect (UHIE) to reduce the energy consumption of air conditioners, benefitting local and global climates. To demonstrate these effects brought by the replacement of CVs by EVs, we take Beijing, China, as an example. EVs emit only 19.8% of the total heat emitted by CVs per mile. The replacement of CVs by EVs in 2012 could have mitigated the summer heat island intensity (HII) by about 0.94°C, reduced the amount of electricity consumed daily by air conditioners in buildings by 14.44 million kilowatt-hours (kWh), and reduced daily CO2 emissions by 10,686 tonnes.

This is for the scientists amongst you.

At a glance

Figure 1
Figure 2


The replacement of CVs by EVs has been an inevitable trend around the world. As of December 2013, there were 405,000 highway-capable plug-in electric passenger cars and utility vans worldwide1. An increasingly hot debate on whether the replacement of CVs by EVs should be delayed or accelerated has surfaced among researchers, enterprises, and governments2, since EVs are more costly and cause more pollution than CVs in the manufacturing process3, 4.

UHIE is influential in metropolitan areas5. For example, the surface temperatures in some urban areas of Beijing, on July 5, 2010, were nearly 50°C 6, 7. UHIE, which contributes to the extremely high temperatures in urban areas, is the main cause of this phenomenon.

UHIE would cause huge air-conditioning energy consumption 8, 9, 10. The positive feedback of air-conditioning energy consumption to UHIE was proposed and evaluated in Refs. 11–13. Heat emitted by vehicles and air conditioners in buildings, the main source of anthropogenic heat emissions in urban areas, is one of the main causes of UHIE14. The strength of UHIE is measured in terms of HII15. HII is calculated as the urban temperature minus the rural temperature, which depends on heat emissions, aerosol pollution, underlying ground surface, and ventilation, etc.

The replacement of CVs by EVs has important implications for UHIE. There is no doubt that CVs will be replaced by EVs in the long run because fossil energy is non-renewable. However, there is an increasingly hot debate on whether the replacement should be delayed or accelerated2. Here we reveal two hidden benefits of EVs for addressing climate change to support the acceleration of the replacement. EVs emit much less heat than CVs within the same mileage. Therefore, the replacement can mitigate HII, which can reduce the amount of electricity consumed daily by air conditioners, benefitting the local and global climate. These effects are shown in Fig. 1, and Beijing in the summer of 2012 is taken as an example.
Figure 1: The two hidden climate benefits of replacing CVs with EVs.

EVs emit much less heat than CVs within the same mileage. Replacing CVs with EVs would mitigate HII and CO2 emissions to benefit local and global climates.


In Beijing in 2012, the average heat emissions by CV and EV per mile were estimated to be 6.31 and 1.25 million joules (J) respectively. Then the average heat emitted by EV per mile was about 19.8% of that by CV.
Reduction of heat emissions

In the summer of 2012 in Beijing, the daily heat emitted by CVs was 9.85 × 1014 J. If CVs were replaced by EVs, the heat emitted by EVs would be reduced by 7.90 × 1014 J, and the heat emitted by power plants would be increased by 6.09 × 1013 J, so the total daily reduction of heat emissions would be 7.29 × 1014 J.
HII mitigation and reduction of air-conditioning energy consumption and CO2 emissions

The average HII was estimated at 3.0°C in the summer of 2012 in Beijing. Heat emissions, which are mainly caused by vehicles and air conditioners in buildings, contributed about half of the HII in Beijing16. The daily heat emitted by air conditioners was 4.32 × 1014 J. The decreased heat emissions from the replacement are 1.69 times higher than the emissions of air conditioners in buildings, which would mitigate the summer HII by about 0.94°C (Fig. 2). Because of the reduction of HII, the energy consumed by air conditioners in buildings would decrease by 12.03%. The amount of daily energy that could be saved is 14.44 million kWh, which could reduce CO2emissions by 10,686 tonnes per day (Fig. 2). The results are described in Fig. 2.
Figure 2: Overview of the benefits of replacing CVs with EVs.

HII would be mitigated by 0.94°C, 14.44 million kWh electricity would be saved daily in summer, and about 10,686 tonnes of CO2 emissions would be eliminated.


Air conditioners used in vehicles are dispersed, and the energy consumed by them is difficult to calculate. The energy saving and CO2 emissions reduction are underestimated, but the benefits are still very remarkable.

According to the definition of specific heat capacity, when specific heat capacity is a constant, temperature variation is proportional to the heat variation. According to Ref. 17, at standard atmospheric pressure, the specific heat of dry air is 1.005 kJ/(kg × °C) at temperatures ranging from 0°C to 60°C. The average temperature in summer of Beijing is about 24.6°C18, so the specific heat capacity of air could almost be regard as a constant in our model. Thus, it is reasonable to assume that the relationship between heat emissions and HII is linear.

There are many reasons for UHIE, three of which are identified as critical factors: the difference in heat emissions, more aerosol particles and different thermal properties of the ground surfaces. It has been found that pollution aerosols have a positive impact on HII in some places19, while some other studies have found that aerosols have a negative impact on HII20. The impact of aerosol particles on HII is also highly non-linear and uncertain21, therefore, they are not taken into consideration in this model. As to the third factor, the replacement of CVs by EVs is a virtual replacement, which does not change the ground surfaces of Beijing, the thermal properties of the ground surfaces are regarded as unchanged in our model.


The methods used in this research are summarized in Fig. 3.
Figure 3: Diagram of the methods.

The data source and procedure of reasoning and estimating are presented. CVs, conventional vehicles; EVs, electric vehicles; HII, heat island intensity.

First, we analysed the decreased heat emissions caused by the replacement of CVs with EVs. Second, based on the statistics of the contribution of air conditioners in buildings to UHIE and the assumed linear relationship between heat emissions and HII, we deduced the impact of anthropogenic heat emissions on HII. Finally, according to the impact of HII changes on air-conditioning consumption in buildings, we achieved the decreased air-conditioning energy consumption by the replacement.
Heat emissions ratio of EVs to CVs

Energy consumed by CVs is all converted to heat and eventually emitted to the air. Engines of CVs convert fuel energy into thermal and mechanical energy. Then the mechanical energy is converted to heat by overcoming mechanical friction, wind and tire rolling resistance. Energy consumed by EVs is also converted to heat eventually.

In Beijing, the average fuel economy of light-duty vehicles was estimated to be 20.6 miles per gallon in 201212. The heat emitted by gasoline combustion per gallon is 130 million J22. Therefore, the average heat emitted by CVs per mile would be:

where P1 is the heat emissions per mile by a CV, E1 is the fuel economy, Q1 refers to the energy contained in a gallon of gasoline.

The electricity consumed by an EV per mile in China ranges from 18 kWh to 25 kWh per 100 kilometres for different models23, and the average is estimated at 0.346 kWh per mile. 1 kWh is equal to 3.6 million J. The heat emitted by an EV per mile would be:

where P2 is heat emissions per mile by an EV, E2 is the electricity per mile consumed by an EV, and Q2 is the energy contained in 1 kWh.

According to equations (1) and (2), heat emitted by EVs per mile is 19.8% of that by CVs, as shown in equation (3):

where r is the ratio of heat emitted by EVs to that by CVs.
Increment of heat emissions by power plants in Beijing

In 2012, the total electricity consumption of Beijing was 87,430 million kWh. About 28,312 million kWh was generated by thermal power plants in Beijing, accounting for 32.38% of the total electricity consumption24. In 2012, there were 5.2 million vehicles in Beijing25, and the average daily driving distances were 30 miles23. If CVs were replaced by EVs, the increment of electricity produced by thermal power plants (ΔE) in Beijing would be:

where N1 is the number of vehicles in Beijing in 2012, L is the average daily driving miles, and e is the ratio of electricity generated by thermal power plants in Beijing to the total electricity consumption of Beijing.

According to the statistics from Ref. 26, when 1 kWh is produced by Beijing's thermal power plants in 2012, the heat emissions would be 3.48 × 106 J. Thus, if CVs were replaced by EVs, the increment of heat emissions by thermal power plants (H1) in Beijing would be:

where h1 is the heat emissions from Beijing's thermal power plants when 1 kWh is produced.
Reduction of heat emissions

In Beijing in 2012, the daily heat emitted by CVs (H2) was as following.

In the summer of 2012, the average load of air conditioners in buildings was approximately 5 million kW27. Therefore, the daily heat emitted by air conditioners (H3) in buildings was:

where P5 is the average load of air conditioners and N2 is the number of hours per day.

If CVs were replaced by EVs, the reduction of daily heat emitted by vehicles (H4) would be as following.

If CVs were replaced by EVs, more electricity would be consumed. This would increase power plants' heat emissions in Beijing. Therefore, the total daily reduction of heat emissions (H5) is calculated as follows.

HII mitigation

The average HII was 2.77°C during the summer of 2005 in Beijing28 and 2.90°C in 200929. The data in 2012 are not available from official statistics or academic papers. According to the growth rate of HII from 2005 to 2009, we estimated HII to be 3.0°C in 2012. Heat emissions, mainly caused by vehicles and air conditioners in buildings, contributed to about half of the HII in Beijing16. Therefore, if CVs were replaced, in 2012 in Beijing the decreased heat emissions would reduce HII by:

where ΔHII is the decreased HII resulting from the decreased heat emissions with the replacement and k1 is the contribution of heat emissions to HII in Beijing.
Reduction of air-conditioning energy consumption

If HII were to decrease by 1°C, the energy consumed by air conditioners in buildings would decrease by 12.8% during the summer in Beijing11. Although the estimation in Ref. 16 is based on data from Beijing in 2005, air-conditioning energy consumption has taken an increasing proportion of total energy consumption in recent years23, which ensures the validity of our estimation. The reduction of HII resulting from the replacement is near 1°C. We assume the reduction of HII and air-conditioning energy saving is a linear relationship. If CVs were replaced by EVs, during the summer in Beijing, the energy consumed by air conditioners in buildings would decrease by:

where k2 is the percentage of the decreased energy consumed by air conditioners in buildings.

The amount of daily energy that could be saved is 14.44 million kWh, reaching 26.75% of the total electricity consumed by EVs, as shown in equations (12) and (13):

where ΔP5 is the decreased energy consumed by air conditioners in buildings with CVs replaced, and k3 is the ratio of ΔP5 to energy consumed by EVs. With the decrease in air-conditioning energy consumption, less heat would be emitted, which would also contribute to mitigating UHIE and energy saving.
Reduction of CO2

In 2012 in China, 740 g of CO2 was emitted when 1 kWh of electricity was supplied to consumers30. Therefore, when 14.44 million kWh are saved, CO2 emissions could be reduced 10,686 tonnes.

The data in this paper are mainly from the government of Beijing and the State Grid Beijing Electric Power Company. In this paper, we have to use some data of other years because some data of 2012 are not available. Therefore, our estimation of the benefits of replacing CVs with EVs is slightly lower than its actual contribution.

According to the analysis and estimation above, the replacement of CVs by EVs can substantially alleviate UHIE in the summer in metropolitan areas, which can improve the local climate, significantly reduce air-conditioning energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, thus helping to address global climate change.