Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Norway reaches 50,000 EVs With generous incentives that include zero sales tax, free parking and charging and the right to drive in bus lanes, Norway has managed to reach the target of having 50,000 electric cars on the roads two years early.

Only in March, nearly 25 percent of all cars sold in Norway were electric. In addition, hybrid cars have nearly 10 percent of the market,Dinside reports.

The number of new electric cars led the Norwegian car market to hit a record low CO₂ emission, with only 93 g/km averaged by new vehicles registered. In comparison, the average CO₂ emission by new cars in Europe in 2014 was 127 g/km.

For Norway, a country with a population of a little over five million, reaching a total of 50,000 electric cars on its roads is a significant achievement. But all the incentives to make people buy electric cars have also cost the Norwegian government a significant amount of money. According to Norway’s Minister of Finance Siv Jensen, the country is losing NOK 3-4 billion (€355 million-€474 million) in lost tax revenue per year, NRK reported.

The Government has announced that it will review all benefits owners of electric cars have before the revised state budget is presented in mid-May. This could mean that all or parts of the incentives could be gone already in 2016.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Big Oil To 'Lose Control Of Auto Industry'

Green car It's not uncommon for media commenters to look at electric-car sales numbers, only to conclude that the segment is teetering on the brink of death.

Electric cars will never become mainstream, they argue, because of fickle consumers who base their-car purchases on what the price of gas happens to be the moment they walk into a dealership.

Yet while the media engages in a tug of war over gas-price analysis, there are encouraging signs pointing to continued growth of electric-car adoption.

Sales have steadily increased since the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf first went on sale in December 2010, and the cost of the batteries that power these cars is decreasing.

Those trends inspired the provocative title "Big Oil Is About to Lose Control of the Auto Industry," for a recent article by Bloomberg (via Charged EVs).

The article promotes the Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) conference held two weeks ago, where optimism about electric cars was in abundance.

2014 BMW i3 electric cars waiting at East Coast shipping port for distribution, May 2014

Analysts argued that electric power will not only supplant traditional fossil fuels, but also alternatives backed by the oil industry, such as ethanol and biodiesel.

Oil consumption peaked in 2004 and has remained flat ever since, Bloomberg says.

That's partially due to consistent improvements in new-car fuel economy, as well as lifestyle changes that see Americans driving less.

Meanwhile, electric-car sales have steadily risen over the past four years.

Bloomberg puts the global sales total for 2014 at 288,500 units. That's just 0.5 percent of all new-car sales, but also more than five times the number sold in 2011.

At the same time, battery costs have fallen 60 percent since 2010, analysts say.

National Drive Electric Week 2014: Charging in Austin. Photo by Aaron Choate.

They believe costs to continue to fall, to the point that electric cars achieve pricing parity with internal-combustion models within a decade.

And while there's no love lost between Toyota and advocates of battery-electric cars, Bloomberg includes hydrogen fuel-cell cars like the Japanese company's Mirai in the movement against Big Oil.

It expects Japan to be the biggest immediate market for fuel cells, with 4,200 cars on its roads by 2018.

That's not much, even compared to battery-electric cars at that stage of their deployment. But it's more than there are now.

The increased attention received by battery and fuel-cell cars contrasts alternative fuels, which seem to be withering on the vine, according to Bloomberg.

Annual biofuel investments plunged 90 percent from a peak of $29.8 billion in 2007, analysts say.

2015 Kia Soul EV enters production
Despite a Federal mandate requiring ever larger amounts of it to be used, ethanol is only available at a small number of fueling stations in the U.S.

Overall, biofuels have been hampered by the inability to find sources not related to food stocks, and have been rendered less financially attractive by low oil prices.

Without biofuels, the oil industry will have a harder time adapting to a world where petroleum isn't at the center of all transportation.

How soon will that world come to be? It's too soon to tell, but stay tuned.

Nissan outsells next two competitors combined Nissan may not be meeting some of the more optimistic prognostications with sales of its Leaf electric vehicle, but it's certainly kicking the competition's butt. EV Sales is tracking global sales of plug-in vehicle models and estimates that Nissan has sold almost 172,000 units of the Leaf worldwide. That's more than the two next-best-selling plug-ins combined.

Globally, EV Sales estimates, the Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in has moved about 88,000 units, while Toyota has sold about 71,000 of its Prius Plug-in Hybrid vehicles worldwide. Fourth-place Tesla Model S is close behind at about 66,000 units.

Among automakers, Nissan is also by far the lead dog, but Mitsubishi has leapfrogged Chevrolet among plug-in vehicle makers, as the Outlander Plug-in Hybrid continues to sell well. Impressively, the relatively new BMW i3 has moved almost 23,000 units since its debut in Germany last year.

As for Nissan, company chief Carlos Ghosn said at the New York Auto Show earlier this month that the company could sell as many as 50,000 units a year of the Leaf in the US, provided that charging infrastructure throughout the country improves. Earlier this year, cumulative US Leaf sales moved past 75,000 units since its late-2010 launch.

US charge stations per state PlugShare Reveals Status of EV Charging, Via Charts

Station Installations by State, 2015-Q1. Levels 2 and 3, all types of connectors. (Source: PlugShare Quarterly)

PlugShare, the leading provider of information about public electric car charging stations, today announced that it will make detailed data about EV infrastructure available on a quarterly basis. The fee-based service, called PlugShare Quarterly, will deliver the data in the form of a gallery of 16 charts and graphs. The first set of three teaser images already indicates a number of important trends in public electric car charging.

A heat-map, “Station Installations by State - 2015-Q1,” reveals that some states where EVs are popular might have plateaued on public charging stations. Oregon jumps out from the map with only 24 new charging station installations during the first three months of 2015. We need to see data for another quarter or two, but it appears that Oregon, historically one of the most gung-ho for EV infrastructure, could be slowing down.

It’s not surprising that California installations in Q1 2015 were much higher with 436, as EV adoption there continues to rapidly expand. With Oregon, we could be seeing the first signs that the early period of rapid growth for public Level 2 chargers is starting to flatten—with the shift in focus moving towards workplace, multi-family and DC quick chargers. At the same time, the fact that Massachusetts ranks fifth for new stations, with 50 locations, shows that other states that have lagged behind on public charging have started to ramp up.

DCFC YoY Installations by Standard, 2015-Q1. (Source: PlugShare Quarterly)

The PlugShare Quarterly graph for “DCFC YoY Installations by Standard, 2015-Q1” is even more revealing. DCFC stands for DC fast charging, the means by which EV drivers can use 500-volt stations to replenish 50 to 100 miles of driving range in about 30 minutes. It turns out that Tesla, a private company with a closed proprietary network of chargers, is growing faster than all other DC fast charging protocols combined. Tesla’s Supercharger network, standing now at about 1,135 stations compared to only about 500 a year ago, has surpassed CHAdeMo, which grew from almost 730 stations to about 1,100 in the past year. Meanwhile, the controversial SAE Combo Cord, which was trumpeted as a major innovation, is moving at the slowest pace. The number of compatible fast chargers using that protocol, primarily for German and American electric cars, is below 200.

Free vs Paid Public Electric Car Charging Locations. (Source: PlugShare Quarterly)

The third teaser chart from the PlugShare Quarterly reveals that most public EV charging stations are still free. More than 63 percent of stations—even nearly five years after the Nissan LEAF and Chevy Volt hit the market—do not require payment. This calls into question, once again, the tenuous business model for public charging. Nearly all EV charging occurs at home where electricity is cheap and the plug is convenient. Therefore, there is a major disincentive to charge an electric car in public when a fee payment is required.

Most charging stations are not networked, and therefore by default are free. A communications channel is required in order to activate a membership card or credit card transaction. For stations that are restricted to specific users, for example employees at a business or customers at a dealership, more than three out of four stations are free.

Some will argue that free stations are the key to growth, while others insist that robust EV charging opportunities will come about only if there’s a profit to be made—a difficult proposition considering the low cost of electricity. Due to the economics, and the number of non-networked stations, the solution at many locations for now is simply not to require any payment.

These are my interpretations of the data, not analysis provided by PlugShare. And that is the point of the PlugShare Quarterly service: for charging networks, automakers, cities and other stakeholders to draw their own conclusions from the most extensive set of data about EV charging.

Electric Car 'Do Not Unplug' Notices: Public Education At Its Best

"Do Not Unplug" hanger sign by Take Charge and Go. The arrival of modern electric cars and public charging infrastructure has brought a whole range of etiquette issues to the fore.

Electric cars' long charging times, and the limited availability of parking spaces with access to charging stations, can sometimes create a bit of tension.

It's not unheard of for drivers to unplug other cars when they can't find a charging station of their own--whether those cars are done charging or not.

There's been much discussion about what to do in these situations, but now there's a simple solution.

A hanger sign marked "Do Not Unplug" on one side and "OK To Unplug" on the other is now available through Take Charge and Go (via Tom Moloughney's BMW i3 blog).

The signs are shaped like the "Do Not Disturb" signs you'll find in hotels, and they slip over a standard J1772 charging connector.

There's even space on the "Do Not Unplug" side in which the driver can write the time when a car will be finished charging, along with a phone number.

Both sides of the card also have a list of charging-etiquette tips that should encourage peaceful relations with other drivers.

They advise electric-car owners not to park in a charging space if they aren't actually charging, to limit their charging times, and--of course--never to unplug another car while it's charging.

One more feature is a QR code which, along with a link to the Take Charge and Go website, provides further information on public charging.

The signs are available through Take Charge and Go individually for $2.49 each, or in a 10-pack for $19.99.

Note that some electric cars have locking mechanisms that prevent them from being unplugged until charging is complete--unless the key fob is nearby.

Only some plug-in cars have this feature, but it could create a minor sticking point in an otherwise straightforward system of owners giving permission to unplug after a certain time or charge level is reached.

Monday, 27 April 2015

LGChem commercial battery news LG Chem Trying To Steal Tesla’s Home Battery Storage Thunder?

Branding is one thing Tesla has absolutely nailed. Well, one of many things. This week (or month) provided a rather obvious example of that for me. But first, a little background:

As I think anyone who follows Tesla rather closely knows, Panasonic is Tesla’s big battery partner. That makes it the top EV battery manufacturer in the world (in terms of 2014 output). AESC, majority owned by Nissan, is #2, providing batteries for the world’s top-selling electric car (the Nissan LEAF). #3 is LG Chem, which provides batteries for electric vehicles produced by General Motors (GM), Renault (which produces popular EV models for the European market), Ford, Volkswagen, Kia, Hyundai, Audi, and now Daimler (which was previously getting its batteries from Tesla/Panasonic). Obviously, LG Chem provides quite a competitive battery.

On to this month: As everyone in the universe knows (or so it seems), Elon Musk announced less than a month ago that Tesla would be announcing a “Major new Tesla product line” on April 30. It was rather obvious this would be a line of battery storage products, and that has recently been confirmed.

Interestingly, Eguana Technologies (which provides power control and conversion solutions for distributed energy storage systems) and LG Chem just announced a residential energy storage system for North America (3 days ago, on Earth Day). The “AC Battery” could also be used by commercial and industrial consumers, the companies note. So, basically, this is a direct competitor to what Tesla is about to announce.

Perhaps the timing is coincidence. Of course, Eguana and LG Chem must have been working on this deal for awhile, and Earth Day certainly seems like a good time to launch such a product. Still, though, I do wonder if they didn’t speed up their product launch in order to try to steal some thunder from Tesla’s announcement. The product won’t actually be available until the summer, according to the press release.

In the end, though, what we’re seeing is that Tesla holds a big advantage in terms of branding. There’s speculation running across the tech, investment, and green web about Tesla’s upcoming announcement, as well as on TV media. I’ve only seen the Eguana and LG Chem news on one site, Green Car Congress (which is pretty obsessive about nabbing press releases at all related to the green car market).

The big question is, “How will LG Chem’s and Tesla’s products compare?” That’s going to be hard to say without getting a lot more information from LG Chem (and Tesla, of course). But here are some of the initial details, via Green Car Congress:
Basic capacity = 6.4 kWh.
“The Eguana power control system manages system power flow and handles the core power conversion functions—AC→DC and DC→AC—as well as connectivity with power grid. It also hosts the consumer gateway and battery management system.”

“The AC Battery is pre-integrated and fully certified, and requires only a grid connection and a dispatch signal to provide a fully functional and durable energy storage installation to the consumer. The AC Battery provides flexibility for system aggregators which want to deploy it as part of new solar storage installations or as a retrofit to solar PV installations already in place.”

“The AC Battery can be used to store electricity from solar and use it during evening hours, or can be used by fleet aggregators to provide utility grid management services including voltage control, frequency regulation, demand response and load balancing,” Eguana and LG Chem write.

LG Chem Senior Vice President Sunghoon Jang also notes, “We are going to strengthen the partnership with Eguana and put our best effort to stand up as the No.1 battery maker in the North American ESS market.” No small aim, and very clearly in competition with Tesla (and many others).

Obviously, we’re going to have to see prices in order to compare the products, as well as battery lifetime expectations and other details. Anyone want to take the lead on that once Tesla and LG Chem announce more details?

EVA Electric taxi for tropical cities

An electric taxi developed specifically for tropical megacities The world’s first electric taxi designed specifically for cities with a predominantly hot climate has been unveiled in Singapore.

The EVA taxi, jointly developed by Nanyang Technological University Singapore (NTU) and Germany’s Technical University Munich, is made of light-weight carbon-fibre composite materials and equipped with an energy-efficient air-conditioning system to minimise the car’s carbon footprint.

150kg lighter than a conventional taxi of a similar size, the vehicle offers a 200km driving range and can be fully charged within only 15 minutes using wireless technology.

“We had identified electro-mobility as one of the solutions necessary to tackle climate change,” said NTU’s Professor Bertil Andersson. “Our success in building an electric car for the tropics is a big step forward in realising our vision for a more sustainable future for everyone.”

The car is equipped with ergonomically designed seats, featuring an integrated system that sucks away moisture and heat from the seat’s surfaces for better passenger comfort.

The climate controls, in-car entertainment, booking and digital payment systems are linked via the car’s infotainment system, allowing passengers to control air-conditioning and audio settings wirelessly from their personal mobile devices.

“Due to the hot and humid weather in the tropics, a significant amount of energy is consumed by the air conditioning system in automobiles,” said Professor Lam Khin Yong, NTU’s Vice President for Research.

“The innovative energy-efficient air-conditioning solutions deployed in EVA, like its new energy-efficient compressor technologies, can be adopted in both current and future vehicles to reduce their carbon footprint.”

In Singapore, taxis are responsible for up to 15 per cent of the total distance travelled by vehicles, despite representing less than three per cent of the overall vehicle fleet. Thus, taxis are responsible for a higher proportion of the overall carbon emissions.

The team behind the project believes that by replacing fuel-burning vehicles with electric-powered ones, carbon emissions as well as local noise and exhaust emissions can be reduced.

The EVA taxi is the first car to have been completely manufactured in Singapore. The development and construction took four years and involved 40 researchers from 20 countries.

“While Singapore is not an automotive manufacturing country, the nation’s economy will definitely benefit in the long run through technology transfer,” Professor Andersson explained. “We are now among the leaders in electro-mobility systems and will be able to offer our knowledge and services to the automotive industries in this region.”

The NTU's previously developed ecosystem of public and private transportation with public and shuttle buses, private cars, bicycles and prototype autonomous vehicles will provide an ideal test bed for the EVA taxi.

In the next four years, the researchers will test the vehicle at the university’s campus, which is set to become Singapore’s national test bed for smart mobility solutions.

“Now that we have proven that it is possible to design vehicles for specific purposes of public transport, it has opened up new questions for us to explore - mainly how purpose-built electric vehicles would fit into the whole transport eco-system together with the trains and buses and how these solutions can reduce travelling times and energy usage used for transportation,” said Professor Markus Lienkamp from the Technical University Munich.

The team believes the innovations developed as part of the EVA project, including the lightweight carbon-fibre composites and the energy efficient air-conditioning system, will soon find their way in to other sectors.

Tesla and Walmart: the first commercial battery deal Walmart Has Tesla Batteries Installed At 11 Locations In California

With Tesla’s official unveiling of its new battery storage systems getting closer, the tension seems to be building some and speculation has been rampant, but some interesting details have certainly already come to light — amongst which is that Tesla is clearly aiming to sell its new battery systems to a wide range of large commercial markets/sectors, as evidenced by the fact that Walmart has already installed Tesla’s batteries at 11 of its California locations, as part of a pilot program with SolarCity.

A broader demonstration of this ambition is clear when a close look at California’s Self Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) is taken. The company is actually already set to receive as much as $65 million via the alternative energy investment incentive program. (Tesla accounts for around 70% of SGIP storage projects connected to California’s grid, and half of all current applications, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.)

“Tesla has been able to install more than 100 projects, really without anyone noticing,” stated Andrea James, an analyst with Dougherty & Co. Also noting that the EV manufacturer’s energy storage business could be “worth as much as $70 to Tesla’s stock.”

Renewable Energy World provides more:

The SGIP database provides a snapshot of Tesla’s activities in its home state and is by no means a complete picture of the company’s storage ambitions.

But Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk has been dropping hints for weeks, and yesterday the company told investors and analysts in an e-mail that Tesla will announce the home battery and a “very large” utility-scale battery on April 30. In the e-mail, Jeffrey Evanson, Tesla’s chief of investor relations, said the company “will explain the advantages of our solutions and why past battery options were not compelling.”

Tesla spokeswoman Khobi Brooklyn said the company would share more information next week.

Given the currently rapidly expanding nature of the storage industry it isn’t surprising that Tesla is wanting to get in on it — especially as it will provide some redundancy and resilience to its electric vehicle battery production operations (via the under-construction gigafactory).

The company’s vision of the future certainly assumes that growth will continue. As Tesla’s CTO JB Straubel recently noted: “Energy storage on the grid will grow rapidly in combination with renewables. Eventually you’re going to have a 100% battery electric vehicle fleet, working in tandem with an almost 100% renewable electric utility grid full of solar and wind.”

At any rate, the official announcement of the battery system(s) is nearly here…. Just a few more days. In the meantime, here are some related stories:

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Renault ZOE Rated Best EV In Driver Power 2015 Survey UK: The 100% electric Renault ZOE EV has been highly commended by owners in the Auto Express Driver Power 2015 survey out finishing an impressive fifth overall out of 200 vehicles and rated as the best electric vehicle to own.

Finishing five places above its nearest all-electric competitor, with a score of 92.87 per cent, the ZOE was also rated the best vehicle in this year’s survey for low running costs as well as second overall for ease of driving. ZOE, in its debut survey year, was ranked second, out of 43 vehicles, in the competitive supermini category.

The ZOE also scored well for In-car technology and performance with owners rating the car ninth and fifteenth respectively out of the 200 entrants.

The Auto Express Driver Power survey had its largest response ever in 2015 with 61,113 car owners, up 20 per cent on 2014, completing the comprehensive survey about their vehicle ownership experience.

The Renault ZOE has won numerous awards since going on sale in 2013 including being named What Car? Magazine’s ‘Best Electric Car for under £20,000’ for the last two consecutive years.

ZOE is one of three all-electric Renault models including the innovative Twizy urban vehicle and the Kangoo Z.E. Van. ZOE can be purchased in two ways, either outright, from £18,443, or from £13,443 with a battery lease from £25 per month (including the Government Plug-In Car Grant) and can charge its batteries in as little as 30 minutes.

A new longer-range version of ZOE, with a new Renault-developed motor, was announced at this year’s Geneva Motor Show which will bring a best-in-class official range of 149 miles when it joins the ZOE line-up in May.

Sales in the UK of Renault’s electric models were up 90 per cent in 2014 to 1,286 vehicles and continued this strong growth in the first three months of 2015 with sales up 148 per cent to 401 vehicles.

Commenting on the ZOE’s performance in the survey, Ben Fletcher, Renault UK Electric Vehicle Product Manager, said: “The Renault ZOE offers the recognized benefits of all-electric vehicles in an ultra-stylish and highly-affordable package. It’s no wonder that owners are so delighted with their cars.”

Steve Fowler, Auto Express Editor-in-chief said: “Breaking into the Driver Power top five is a significant achievement for the Renault ZOE. Owners of electric cars clearly love their vehicles – and the ZOE, in particular, has a winning formula of low running costs and decent performance, plus it’s very easy to drive, too.”

Carlos Ghosn: The Truth About Autonomous Drive Cars

The following is the latest from Carlos Ghosn‘s LinkedIn Influencer series. There has been a lot of talk in the media recently about “Autonomous Drive” technology and a potential future of driverless cars.

No doubt, Autonomous Drive technology will change how we approach driving. I expect it to result a significant transformation in transportation.

But all the talk has left many drivers a bit confused. After years of promoting “eyes on the road, hands on the wheel,” the auto industry is now talking about reading your email or a book while you drive – and the prospect of maybe not even needing a driver.

So it’s a good time to address the questions that arise whenever this subject comes up:

Q: What is Autonomous Drive?

A: Autonomous Drive combines the technology of robotics, artificial intelligence, sensors and car-to-car connectivity. It is a range of technologies that will be added to our cars over the next several years.

The concept already exists in some of the technology in today’s cars: Anti-lock brakes, active cruise control, blind-spot warning or parking assist are examples of technologies that operate autonomously, most without the driver even thinking about them.

Q: When will we start to see this technology?

A: We’re looking at taking the existing technology to the next level, where the driver can cede some control – essentially hands-free driving – while continuing to monitor the car’s operation. Much of this is near-term technology, but it will come in waves, a feature at a time.

At Nissan and Renault, we have pledged by 2020 to have a complete package of Autonomous Drive technologies on multiple models. Starting from late next year, we plan to offer what internally we are calling the “Traffic Jam Pilot,” a feature that allows the car to drive autonomously and safely in heavy, stop-and-go traffic. This eventually will be offered across a wide range of our Nissan, Infiniti and Renault vehicles.

In 2018, we’ll introduce technology that allows a car to autonomously negotiate hazards and change lanes. And by 2020, we plan to introduce vehicles that can navigate without driver intervention in nearly all situations, including complex city driving.

Q: When will we see the driverless car?

A: Eventually, a more elaborate combination of these technologies will lead us to the driverless car – one that can operate fully autonomously, even with nobody in it. So you conceivably could send it to pick up your children from school, or to take an ill parent to the doctor’s office.

But that is much further into the future – at least a decade away. In fact, I expect the technology will be perfected well before it hits the street, because there are a host of regulatory, legal and security issues that must be resolved first.

Q: I love driving. Why would I ever want to give up any control over my car?

A: I love driving, too! As we develop our Autonomous Drive technologies, our focus is on eliminating the drudgery of driving, not the joy of driving.

The fact is most drivers do not enjoy commuting in grindingly slow, stop-and-go traffic. It’s the same thing with long trips along monotonously straight expressways.

With our cars, the driver will decide whether to use the technology when it’s appropriate. It will be optional. Nothing will stop you from being in full control as you enjoy driving the twisty turns of California’s Pacific Coast Highway or the beautiful mountain passes in the Alps.

Our goal is to enhance the driving experience, not detract from it. We want to build cars that give drivers more freedom, more options and more control, but improve the driver’s ability to avoid an accident.

Q: So is improved safety the main advantage?

A: Yes. At the Renault-Nissan Alliance, one of our internal mantras is “Zero Emissions, Zero Fatalities.” We have made tremendous progress with electric vehicles. Autonomous Drive technology is a big step toward achieving the “zero fatalities” part.

Over time, this technology holds the promise of virtually eliminating avoidable crashes. Cars have become much safer over the past 50 years. But in the United States alone, there are still about 6 million crashes annually. And that exacts a huge cost to those affected and on everybody’s insurance rates – a loss in total of about $160 billion a year just in the U.S.

Autonomous Drive will mean far fewer crashes. The car will be able to react faster than you can, just as anti-lock brakes can bring a car to a safe stop faster and prevent it from going into a slide much better than any human.

Q: Are there other benefits?

A: Convenience is one. This technology will allow you to make your commuting time more productive and less stressful. Consider this: Europeans on average spend 300 hours a year in their car; Americans on average spend 750 hours a year inside their car – that’s more than two hours a day. I think most people would rather use that time to check their emails, make a phone call, read an article or listen to a podcast and relax.

Another big benefit is improved mobility for the elderly. It will allow those of us getting older to drive longer. And if you look out further into the future of driverless cars, it will offer the elderly the ability to get around even after they can no longer drive by themselves.

Q: Are you working with other companies on this technology?

A: Yes, no one company has the ability to do this alone. For example, in January we announced a partnership with NASA through Nissan’s Silicon Valley Research Center in California to work on many aspects of this technology, including remote controls. This is in addition to several universities that we’re collaborating with, including Stanford, MIT, Oxford and the University of Tokyo.

Q: It sounds like the auto industry has become a high-tech industry.

A: Indeed, it has. As I travel around the world, I try to meet every few months with university students. And I’ve been telling them that I really can’t remember a more exciting time to be in the auto industry, due to the potential of all this new technology. This really is going to result in a big change in how we approach mobility. It will make our cars smarter, it will expand our ability to get around as we grow older, and above all, it will make driving far safer

All Public Buses In Amsterdam Will Be EVs By 2025 The Dutch city of Amsterdam is going all electric, with regards to public buses that is.

The city is planning for the transition from diesel buses (what’s in use now) to electric ones to be complete by 2025, reportedly.

As humorously put by the city’s transport alderman Abdeluheb Choho in an interview with the Volkskrant, the city has decided to simply go all out rather than be conservative (a bit out of character for the Dutch, I’d say ).

“This project means we are saying goodbye to symbolic behaviour and pilot projects. We have decided to just do it, not to experiment with five buses.”

The plan is reportedly that the first 40 electric buses will be delivered in roughly 2 years time, with all diesel buses being slowly phased out, until there are none left (by 2025 at the latest).

Choho also noted: “We will make Amsterdam more sustainable on a large scale, and we do that with partners who have big ambitions. Front-runners such as the GVB deserve a podium and imitation.” provides a bit more information:

The ferries over the IJ between the city centre and Noord will also be powered by green electricity.

Amsterdam is not the first city to focus on electricity-powered public transport. Brabant has introduced some battery-driven buses and small-scale experiments are under way in Utrecht and Maastricht. Bus company Abellio, which is 100% owned by Dutch national railway firm NS, has also pledged to ensure the 300 buses operating in Limburg province are electric if it wins the concession. The six buses on the Wadden Sea island of Schiermonnikoog are also electric.

Good call, I’d say. With the substantial savings to be had, why not just make the transition relatively rapidly? Why stick with behavior that is more or less just “symbolic” (as Choho put it)? Sure, there is a sunk cost the city will lose (the non-electric buses it has already purchased). But there are daily costs to resident health that come from the diesel pollution.

Lithium launches all-electric car fleet service in Bangalore Lithium Urban Technologies has launched an all-electric car fleet service in Bangalore. The company will use Mahindra e2os to provide fleet services to organisations with the need for employee and inter-campus transportation with more vehicles to join the fleet in the future. The company’s first customers in Bangalore are TESCO, VMware and Total Environment.

Lithium offers a cloud-based transportation management system and a multi-level security system including a live-feed camera on all its cars to monitor all vehicles at all times inside the operation area. The cars are also fitted with WiFi available for the passengers to use. All cars will also come with tamper-proof data tablets with a travel card swiping system to prevent unauthorised passengers from using the service. The tablet will also act as the journey log for distance and payment information.

Clients will have access to the Lithium app on their mobile phones for detailed pre-trip reminders, in-trip information, easy communication with the driver without sharing phone numbers and a 24-hour connection to the central control room along with the availability of a panic button installed inside the vehicle for added security.

Inside the vehicle, passengers will get access to productivity apps which will provide journey updates, inter-city bus information, flight schedules and check-in services, train schedules and access to the latest news, music and videos.

Lithium has also set up over a hundred slow charging stations across the city with the information stored on the vehicle’s GPS for easy locating. The company will also set up fast charge stations at client locations.

The service will only be available to the corporate sector as of now with Lithium offering unlimited kilometre deals to interested companies.

Lithium claims that its car fleet service will save corporate companies between Rs 2-3 crore on an annual basis in transportation costs as its all-electric vehicle service incurs lower running costs as compared to conventional vehicles.

Lithium aims to have 400 cars operating in the first year itself. The company has also planned to expand to other cities along with having 2,000 all-electric cars operating nationwide in the next two years.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

UK: EV sales surging

In the first 3 months of 2015 8,573 electric vehicles were registered, a YOY increase of 366%.
The top 5 sellers were the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Nissan Leaf, BMW I3, Renault Zoe and the. BMW i8.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Qoros 2 PHEV compact SUV concept unveiled The Qoros 2 PHEV concept was unveiled at the Shanghai International Auto Show this week. The compact crossover SUV features a turbocharged 4 cylinder engine for the front wheels and a separate electric motor for each rear wheel. The car can operate in electric only mode or in all wheel drive mode. The driver can also select Hybrid mode, which allows an onboard computer to optimize the input from both the engine and the electric motors for maximum fuel economy in all conditions.

Qoros is an Israeli/Chinese company with international ambitions. In its press release for the Qoros 2 PHEV concept, it offers few particulars about the drivetrain, range, type of battery or other technical specifications but goes on at length about how bold and rugged the styling is. All SUV owners like to imagine their vehicle could win a battle with a charging rhinoceros on the way to work and the Qoros 2 certainly looks capable of doing exactly that.

Chinese cars are virtually unknown in the US market at present, but that is going to change. There was a time when Japanese and Korean cars were unknown here but both have risen over time to become top sellers. Few Americans realize the importance of tradition in every aspect of Chinese culture. The Qoros press release offers numerous examples of how many cultural references are incorporated into the concept car. Here are a few examples:

“The Qoros 2 SUV PHEV Concept features a panoramic glass roof, which makes for a light and airy passenger cabin while incorporating a Chinese pattern in white jade. The pattern is traditionally used in Chinese windows, and synonymous with the layout of ‘Siheyuan’ a historical unique folk house in the Hutongs in Beijing with a long history in Chinese architecture. A QR code has been embedded within the design of the roof graphics, directing viewers to the Qoros website. The driver’s side rear wheel also pays homage to the Chinese Year of the Goat celebration with a special rim inlay design.”

“Looking more closely at the car, there are nine name ‘stamps’ featured throughout the exterior and interior. These reflect the nine design team members that worked on the car, but also have a deeper meaning. In mandarin, Nine九 (pinyin: jiŭ) sounds exactly like 久 (jiǔ) – which means ‘long lasting’ or ‘a long time’ and therefore is often used in weddings. But the number nine also describes something ‘big’ or ‘more’. This reflects the fact that more than just nine designers and technicians were involved to make this project happen.”

The concept features software that constantly updates the driver about projected range using electric or gasoline power. It also has an elaborate charging port that rises up from the base of the windshield so the owner never has to touch a charging cable. Inductive charging equipment is mounted underneath the car for wireless charging at home or on the electrified highways of the future.

Will the Qoros 2 concept ever enter production? And if so, will it ever make it to the US? There is a large pent up demand for plug in hybrid SUVs. If the world’s major manufacturers won’t give the people what they want, perhaps Qoros will.

China: Pateo Project N Concept

Pateo, a telematic and car connectivity provider from China, presented its Project N concept at the Auto Shanghai. The all-electric sports car sits two and is said to have a 650-kW motor, while going for 800 kilometres on one charge. Autonomous driving is a given, too.

China’s CH-Auto plans first home-grown electric sports car

CH Auto plans to begin production of its 'Event’ electric supercar late next year. China’s CH-Auto Technology Co. aims to create the nation’s first domestically developed electric sports car, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The company, steered by a former Beijing Jeep executive Lu Qun, hopes to design and build a battery-powered sports car that is cheaper than imported European gasoline-engine roadsters, it said.

If the plans succeed, the first car will go into production in late 2016.

CH-Auto had earlier designed gasoline-powered cars for Chinese manufacturers such as Zhejiang Geely Group, Jiangling Motors and a Dongfeng Motor Group joint venture.

Electric cars are in focus as the Chinese government has pledged substantial support for their development to address air pollution produced by conventional-engine vehicles.

Lu plans to initially target the high-end of the market with Event, the name given to the company’s first battery-powered sports car.

Once the brand is established, CH-Auto will follow with cheaper electric cars made in greater volumes, the report said.

This week, CH-Auto displayed three cars, including a high-tech two-seater that it said runs on a 48-kilowatt-hour battery and can go from zero to 100 kilometres an hour in 4.6 seconds.

It claims a range of 250 kilometres and can be recharged in six hours using a standard 220-volt power supply, the Journal noted.

The company didn’t reveal the price, but said it will be significantly cheaper than imported sports cars.

Indonesia Planning To Create Electric “National Cars”

The country of Indonesia is now planning to create a “national car” — an electric one, not a fossil fuel powered one — according to recent reports.

The Research Technology and High Educational Institute Minister for the plan, Muhammad Nasir, commented on the plan (and was pretty clear in his choice of words): “Yes, only electric cars, not ones fueled with oil or other fuels.” Amongst Nasir’s other comments, he noted that one of the primary reasons for the initiative is that oil supplies are fast “dwindling.” Certainly true — but I admit, it’s still a bit surreal to hear a government official admit as much.

The initiative will include the help of the Malaysian auto manufacturer Proton Holdings Berhard; but is still expected to create a fair number of jobs in Indonesia, despite this.

Proton’s CEO, Datuk Abdul Harith Abdullah, commented:

The collaboration will be good as both nations specifically work together to develop products for the larger market. Furthermore, Proton, which has the facilities, capabilities and technology know-how in design, development and manufacturing of cars, is the only company in the ASEAN region with a research and development facility in-house.

No other countries in this region have their own national car project other than providing manufacturing and assembly services.

The CEO of PT Adiperkasa Citra Lestari, Abdullah Mahmud Hendropriyono, (the recent signee of a Memorandum of Understanding with Proton) commented as well:

“We are very happy to be working with Proton and Malaysia in this project. With the expertise that Proton has and our similar culture and environment, we are confident that Proton can help to train and develop a pool of specialist workforce for our automotive industry. This collaboration when materialized will not only spur the Indonesian automotive industry further but also expand knowledge and capabilities of our people.”

Worth noting, is that the two companies won’t be legally joined in obligation, but rather the partnership holds “potential for supplementary business openings,” as InsideEVs worded it in its recent coverage.

Interesting. Partial disengagement from the global economy with a refocusing on national industry and decreased resource use (imported resources, in particular) — where have I heard that combination before?

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

World’s First Electric Super Bike The 2015 Sora Signature Series Motorcycle May Be the World’s First Electric Super Bike

Last year’s release of the roughly $50,000 Lito Green Motion Sora, which the Montreal manufacturer proclaims is the world’s first electric cruiser, gave the motorcycle industry a welcome jolt of energy by providing a stylish design and sound performance for an electric two-wheeler. Now, for about twice the price, the more than $100,000 Lito Green Motion Sora Signature Series electric motorcycle offers various improvements that could very well elevate it to the status of the world’s first electric super bike.

Like its predecessor, the Signature Series bike features an electronically adjustable seat that can be operated while in motion to switch from comfortable cruising to race-ready body positioning. Enhancements include new Beringer brakes and Rizoma components. Lito also outfitted it with even more carbon fiber (for the wheels and body) than its predecessor, giving it a stealthier look and lighter weight, which helps the bike reach 60 mph from a standstill in about 4 seconds. The new Sora can reach speeds as fast as 118 mph.

Lito also improved the 2015 Sora bike with LED headlights and a decreased battery-charge time, from nine hours for last year’s model to just three hours for the new bike. The Sora can travel as far as 120 miles on a single charge. The new bike’s Safe Range System, which works in tandem with its 5.7-inch touchscreen display and GPS system, manages speed and acceleration to ensure the bike has enough juice to reach its destination.

Study: 55 EVs now available globally  The global electric vehicles market has made huge progress, with more than 55 models now available globally. 

Currently, over 70 percent of the models on the market are battery EVs (BEVs) and approximately 25 percent are plug-in hybrid EVs (PHEVs). Nevertheless, the number of PHEVs is likely to increase over the next three to four years. 

The market will see greater demand for longer-range vehicles that allow customers to drive up to and past the pure EV range. The BMW i3 sales split between BEV and extended range EVs (eREVs) demonstrates this trend.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Strategic Outlook of Global Electric Vehicle Market in 2015 (, finds that EV sale volumes stood at 304,683 units in 2014 and estimates this to reach 466,407 units in 2015. 
At the end of the year,North America will continue to lead with a market share of 36 percent, followed by Europe and China with a share of 27 and 24 percent respectively. The study covers PHEVs, BEVs, neighbourhood EVs and eREVs.

"Major EV original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) such as BMW (, Tesla ( and Daimler ( expect to benefit from incentives and subsidies in China and have thus designed growth strategies to establish themselves firmly in the market," said Frost & Sullivan Automotive & Transportation Senior Research Analyst Prajyot Sathe. "However, with the annual decrease in incentives by five percent in China, some OEMs are looking at offering alternative technologies such as fuel cell vehicles to qualify for incentives."

Although the EV market is growing in all regions, overall sales have not met the expectations of automakers. Automakers in Europe and North America have not managed to achieve sales targets mainly due to end users' reluctance to adopt new technologies, the long charging time for vehicles, and the lack of awareness on the benefits of EVs.

While sales in the United States EV market have increased by 30 percent from its 2013 level, the number of PHEVs and EVs stand at approximately 162,000 – far from the one-million unit goal for 2015. As part of the strategy to expand sales, automakers are trying to double the energy density of Li-ion technology to improve EV range.

"To further boost sales, EV OEMs are focusing on improving accessibility by establishing EV charging networks through partnerships," noted Sathe. "Tesla, however, is building its proprietary super charging network and has over 120 stations in the US, 75 in Europe and 25 in Asia, where installations are anticipated to double by the end of this year."

Chevrolet FNR Autonomous Concept - Beautiful! Look at this crazy thing. It’s perfect. It’s like a sports car escaped from the Blade Runner prop room and came to life. It’s the world’s angriest roller skate. It’s the future we all dreamed about when we were 10, where the cars on the street look like wacky Hot Wheels concepts. It’s the Chevrolet FNR concept that was just introduced at the Shanghai Auto Show, and it’s perfect, except for one tiny thing: It’s autonomous. Sigh.

Chevy says the concept offers “a glimpse at the mobility of the future,” which we agree with 100 percent. We would love for the future to look like this, all curves and angles and double-bubble cockpit and hollow-center wheels and everything. We’re even cool with the fact that it’s electric, the better to motivate those magnetic hubless wheels and power up with wireless charging.

Reading the press release describing the Chevrolet FNR concept is like perusing the spec sheet of a comic book hero’s spaceship-mobile. Crystal laser headlights? Yep. “Dragonfly” doors? Hell yeah. A security system that uses an iris scanner to recognize the driver? Radical! Gesture control? But of course.

It’s all going well until you read about the roof-mounted radar and perimeter sensors that “map out the environment to enable driverless operation.” And the Chevy Intelligent Assistant software that chooses your route so you can just keep texting. The front seats swivel around to face the rear passengers while the car is in autonomous mode, all the better for avoiding eye contact while you play Angry Birds for the five hundred millionth time. After all, Chevy says the concept aimed to create a “unique, intelligent vehicle for tomorrow’s younger consumers.”

Thankfully, Chevy says that nifty gesture control system would enable the passenger to become a driver once again by disabling the autonomous system and resuming control. That’s heartening, because a road rocket as wild as this deserves to be driven in hell-bent anger.

Electric vehicle sales up 50% across Europe France is leading Europe’s electric vehicle revolution with the nation now accounting for more than a quarter of BEV sales across the EU, new figures reveal.

Data released by the European Environment Agency shows around 38,000 electric vehicles were registered in 2014, up by 57 % compared to 2013.

The largest number of registrations was recorded in France, with more than 10,700 vehicles. Germany - around 8 500 vehicles – was in second place with the UK following with around 6,700 vehicles.

The report confirming Europe’s electric vehicle boom also found new cars sold in 2014 emit on average 2.6 % less CO2 than those sold in 2013 and almost 7 grammes of CO2/km below the 2015 target.

The average emissions level of a new car sold in 2014 was 123.4 grammes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilometre, significantly below the 2015 target of 130 g, according to provisional data from the European Environment Agency (EEA).

Since monitoring started under current legislation in 2010, emissions have decreased by 17 g CO2/km (12 %). Manufacturers will, nevertheless, have to further reduce emissions to meet the target of 95 g CO2/km by 2021.

Other key findings of the EEA report include:

* A total of 12.5 million new cars were registered in 2014, the first overall increase since 2007. Registrations increased in all EU Member States compared to 2013, except for Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands.

* A new car sold in 2014 emitted on average 123.4 grammes of g CO2/km, significantly below the 2015 target of 130 g CO2/km. Europe had already reached its 2015 target by 2013, two years ahead of schedule.

* Average emissions levels in 2014 were below 130 g CO2/km in 17 of the 28 Member States.

* Significantly more efficient models were bought in the pre-2004 EU Member States compared to the newer EU Member States. The most efficient cars were bought in the Netherlands (107 g CO2/km), Greece (108 g CO2/km) and Portugal (109 g CO2/km), while the least efficient cars were bought in Estonia (141 g CO2/km), followed by Latvia (140 g CO2/km) and Bulgaria (136 g CO2/km).

* Diesel vehicles remain the most sold vehicles in Europe, constituting 53 % of sales. Countries with high proportions of diesel sales include Ireland (74 %), Luxembourg (72 %), Portugal (71 %), Spain (66 %), France and Greece (64 %), Croatia (63 %) and Belgium (62 %).

* Despite minor fluctuations in the past, the fuel efficiency of petrol cars has been catching up with that of the more fuel-efficient diesel cars in recent years. The average emissions gap between petrol and diesel is currently below 3 g CO2/km, around one seventh of the gap in 2000.

EVs Charged Via Renewable Energy Will Qualify For Carbon Credits Projects that encourage the switch to electric vehicles will now receive further incentive when they include battery-charging from renewable energy sources, after a rule change was adopted this week by the Board that oversees the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

The CDM, which provides saleable carbon credits to projects that reduce or avoid greenhouse gas emissions, broadened the methodology for electric vehicles to take into account the further reductions that could be achieved when renewable energy was used for recharging the vehicles.

“Powering electric vehicles from new renewable energy sources can make an important contribution to the response to climate change,” said CDM Executive Board Chair Lambert Schneider.

“This is part of the Board’s efforts to make the CDM even better, to broaden its usefulness in the international response to climate change,” he said.

According to the International Energy Agency, road transport accounts for about 14 per cent of CO2 emissions from fuel combustion in developing countries, while petrol car exhaust contributes to illness and death.

A recent UK study found that it could cut its oil imports by 40 per cent by 2030 by investing in EV infrastructure and support mechanisms, while also notching up public health improvements worth £1 billion and a 47 per cent reduction in carbon emissions.

Also at its 83rd meeting, the CDM Board improved a methodology for projects that create clean drinking water.

Electric Vehicles are becoming increasingly popular, driven in part by the success of the Tesla Model S, which features super-charging network in Asia, Europe and the US – many of them powered by renewables.

Interestingly, Origin Energy canvassed the idea of generating carbon credits by using electric vehicles, in a submission to the Abbott government’s Direct Action program. But nothing has been heard of the proposal since.

Norway to review electric car subsidies as sales soar past 50,000 units

(Reuters) - Norway is reviewing its subsidies for electric vehicles after generous government incentives made the country the biggest user of battery powered cars in the world, hurting state revenues, the finance ministry said.

Norway registered its 50,000th electric car on Monday, almost three years earlier than expected thanks to government schemes that have cut taxes and provided a plethora of benefits, including an exemption from tolls and parking fees, free recharging stations and the use of bus lanes.

A fifth of all new cars sold in Norway have been electric so far this year and tiny Norway, with just 5.1 million people, accounted for a third of all European battery powered car sales last year, official data showed.

"Our goal is to present a final agreement on the review of the future of automotive and fuel taxes," the finance ministry said. "The outcome of the review will be announced in the revised budget (due in May)."

The current incentive scheme has been in place since 2012, but it came under criticism last year when sales of the Tesla Model S, a luxury sedan, soared and the budget lost 3 to 4 billion crowns ($380 to $510 million) in expected revenue.

Teslas, starting at about $70,000 and retailing for about$100,000 with extras, accounted for three percent of sales last year, prompting calls to end subsidies for wealthy buyers. Sales of the Nissan Leaf and Volkswagen e-Golf have also risen.

The Norwegian Electric Car Association argues that the benefits need to be maintained longer as only two percent of the cars on the road are electric, still a relatively small figure even if Norway leads the rest of the world by a wide margin.

Norway generates nearly 100 percent of its electricity from hydropower so the shift to battery powered cars results in a net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions -- part of the country's plans to reduce emissions by at least 40 percent by 2030 compared to the 1990 level.

Norway is also Western Europe's biggest oil and gas producer with about 3.7 million barrels of oil equivalents per day and its offshore energy sector accounts for a fifth of the economy.

China close to overtaking US as leading polluter Although the ignominy of being the main cause of man-made pollution has sat firmly with the United States since 1990, China is now close to overtaking them. According to separate experts in both the United States and Norway, China's cumulative greenhouse gas emissions since 1990, the year when governments became more aware of climate change, will outstrip those of the United States in 2015 or 2016. The shift, which reflects China's astronomical economic growth, raises questions about historical blame for rising temperatures and more floods, desertification, heatwaves and sea level rises.
In 1992, a U.N. principle decreed that rich nations were meant to take the lead in cutting greenhouse gas emissions because their wealth, based predominantly on burning coal, oil and natural gas had been prevalent since the 18th century Industrial Revolution. Emerging nations, meanwhile, were allowed to burn more fossil fuels to allow them to catch up and end poverty. But the rapid economic rise of China, India, Brazil and many other emerging nations is straining the traditional divide between rich and poor. The World Resources Institute think-tank, based in the United States, has estimated that China's cumulative carbon dioxide emissions will total 151 billion tonnes for 1990-2016, overtaking their own country’s total of 147 billion next year. India will overtake Russia's cumulative emissions since 1990 in the 2020s to rank fourth behind China, the United States and the European Union, according to Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research, Oslo (CICERO) calculations.
Governments of almost 200 nations are now working out plans for a climate summit in Paris in December that will set targets for 2025 or 2030. Beijing set a goal last year of peaking its rising emissions around 2030, perhaps before.
Commenting for Mentor Jerry Hill, Head of Safety, Health and Environmental consultancy Support said:
"A few years ago China's per capita emissions were low, and consequently, its historical responsibility was low. But that’s now changing fast."
"The rise of cumulative emissions obviously does open China up to claims of responsibility from other developing countries, but stretching liability so far back is complicated."
"Should heat-trapping methane gas emitted by rice paddies in Asia in the 19th century, now omitted from the figures, count alongside industrial carbon emissions by Europe? Should Britain be responsible for India's emissions before independence in 1947?"

Monday, 20 April 2015

43% Of All Of The World’s Electric Cars On The Road Bought In 2014

We already wrote about the recent ZSW report that found that the world electric car market was up to 740,000 at the end of 2014. Other cool stats noted there included:

  • China saw 54,000 electric cars registered in 2014, a growth of 120%.
  • The US grew 69% to hit 290,000 total electric cars, about 39% of all electric cars on the road.
  • Japan grew 45% to hit 110,000 total electric cars.
  • The overall global electric car market saw a growth of 76%.

However, we missed sharing a big one, but thanks to reve putting it in a headline and a hat tip from Bob Wallace, we’re getting it now. Actually, you just saw it in the title: 43% of the world’s electric cars were bought in 2014.

Another stat reve pulled out of the report was that Norway’s 43,400 electric car fleet (which was approximately doubled in 2014) now makes up ~1.6% of the country’s cars. For more on why, see:

Top-Selling Cars In Norway Now Electric Cars (Two Months In A Row) — 4 Reasons Why

Norwegian Electric Car User Findings (10 Charts)

One more time, here are the three key charts from the ZSW report:

Top electric car countries. Total = number of electric cars on the road on January 1, 2015.

Number of electric car sales by year and country.

Top 5 electric car models.

Chinese EV Market Grew 220% In 2014

A new report from RNR Market Research has sketched out the key points of what amounted to being a very interesting year for the Chinese electric vehicle market — as demonstrated by the new report.

The report reportedly notes that 2014 may as well be considered “year zero” for the Chinese market, as sales there surged more than 3.2 times over those in 2013 (~220%), to a notable figure of 74,763. This put the market in the big leagues, so to speak — making “year zero” seem an appropriate designation, as the market now comprises 23.5% of the total global electric vehicle (EV) market.

As far as the performance of Chinese models in the global market (taken as a whole) — there were quite a few entrants from the country that made it into the top 20 list for the year. This includes: the BYD Qin, the Kandi K10, the Chery QQ3 EV, the Zotye E20, the BAIC E150 EV, and the BYD e6. Altogether, these models comprised 15.3% of all EV sales around the world during the year.

Some other things worth noting:

Nearly 34,000 Chinese battery EV passenger cars were sold during 2014 — representing a 190% year-on-year increase over 2013.

2014 saw plug-in hybrid electric passenger car sales in China surge to 17,500 — a huge increase over 2013. Most of these sales were of only two models, though, the BYD Qin and the Roewe 550 plug-in.

BYD, Zotye, BAIC, Kandi, and others are gearing up for big sales in 2015 — with Zoyte even aiming for sales as high as 80,000 units during the year.

BYD had a great year (no surprise there), selling 20,972 electric cars in China in 2014 — capturing a market share of 28.05%. Most of these sales were of the Qin, the E6, and the DENZA, as far as passenger vehicles go; and of the K9 and the J9 as far as commercial vehicles go.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

EV Sales Quintupled in 4 Years

Electric Car Batteries Just Hit A Key Price Point U.S. plug-in electric vehicle cumulative sales have soared in the past few years, thanks in part to rapidly falling battery prices. Via Wikipedia.

Electric vehicle demand in the past five years has soared in this country. The same is true worldwide. By the end of 2014,more than 700,000 total plug-in vehicles had been sold worldwide (plug-in hybrids and pure battery electrics), up from about 400,000 at the end of 2013. As of 2015, dozens of models of electric cars and vans are available for purchase, mostly in Europe, the United States, Japan, and China.

A major reason for the rapid jump in EV sales is the rapid drop in the cost of their key component -– batteries. The energy stored in a battery is measured by kilowatt-hour(kWh). The more kWh stored, the further the car can go on one charge, so a key metric for battery economics is the cost per kWh. The lower the cost, the cheaper it is to build an electric car with a significant range.

In a major 2013 analysis, “Global EV Outlook: Understanding the Electric Vehicle Landscape to 2020,” the International Energy Agency estimated that electric vehicles would achieve cost parity with internal combustion engine vehicles when battery costs hit $300 per kWh of storage capacity. The analysis projected that would happen by 2020.

Yet a study last month in Nature Climate Change, “Rapidly falling costs of battery packs for electric vehicles” determined that “industry-wide cost estimates declined by approximately 14% annually between 2007 and 2014, from above US$1,000 per kWh to around US$410 per kWh.” The study, by Björn Nykvist and Måns Nilsson, also looked at battery electric vehicle (BEV) leaders, like Nissan’s LEAF and Tesla’s model S. They found, “the cost of battery packs used by market-leading BEV manufacturers are even lower, at US$300 per kWh.”

So the best manufacturers have already reached the battery price needed for cost parity with conventional cars.

Last year, UBS, a leading Investment bank, found “the 3-year total cost of ownership (TCO) of a Tesla S model is similar to that of a comparable petrol combustion engine car such as an Audi A7,” in places like Germany.

Even more revolutionary, UBS projects that “the payback time for unsubsidised investment in electric vehicles plus rooftop solar plus battery storage will be as low as 6-8 years by 2020.” Of course, oil prices have been dropping, too (as have solar prices). The battery study from last month found that prices would need to drop under $250 per kWh for EVs to become competitive. Further, it concluded:

“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.”

Can electric car batteries hit that price point? The study projects that costs will fall to some $230 per kilowatt hour in the 2017 to 2018 timeframe. Tesla Motors and Panasonic have started building a massive $5 billion plant capable of producing half a million battery packs (plus extra batteries for stationary applications) a year. It is expected to be completed in 2017. Tesla and Panasonic estimate this “Gigafactory” with 6,500 workers will lead to a 30 percent reduction in cost, which the recent Nature Climate Change study said is “a trajectory close to the trends projected in this paper.”

It may well be that $150 per kWh can be hit around 2020 without a major battery breakthrough but simply with continuing improvements in manufacturing, economies of scale, and general learning by industry. This seems especially likely if China continues its explosive growth in EV sales:

London: World's First Ultra Low Emission Zone Approved

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has confirmed that the world’s first ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) will launch in central London on September 7, 2020.

It will require vehicles travelling in the congestion charge zone of central London to meet new emission standards 24 hours a day, seven days a week or pay a daily charge.

The announcement follows consideration of more than 16,000 responses received during the ULEZ consultation from the public, businesses and stakeholders. The majority (79%) of respondents said it was ‘important’ or ‘very important’ to tackle poor air quality in London and 58% said they ‘support’ or ‘strongly support’ the introduction of the ULEZ.

The ULEZ will require:

Cars and small vans – Euro 6 for diesel engines (registered from September 1, 2015 so five years old or less in 2020) and Euro 4 for petrol engines (registered from January 1, 2006 so 14 years old or less in 2020). Non-compliant vehicles could still drive in the zone but they will be required to pay a daily charge of £12.50.

Large vans and minibuses – Euro 6 for diesel engines (registered from 1 September 1, 2016 so four years old or less in 2020) and Euro 4 for petrol engines (registered from January 1, 2007 so 13 years old or less in 2020). Non-compliant vehicles will be required to pay a daily charge of £12.50.
Heavy goods vehicles, buses and coaches – Euro 6 (registered from January 1, 2014 so six years old or less in 2020 except TfL buses which are required to meet a higher standard). Non- compliant vehicles will be required to pay a daily charge of £100.

Motorcycles and similar vehicles – Euro 3 (registered from July 1, 2007 so 13 years old or less in 2020). Non-compliant vehicles will be required to pay a daily charge of £12.50.

The Mayor and TfL said that they have intentionally confirmed the ULEZ five years in advance of its introduction to give sufficient warning and preparation time for affected drivers, as well as to accelerate the take up of low emission vehicles and stimulate the low emission vehicle market.

Residents living in the ultra low emission zone will have a three year ‘sunset period’, meaning that they do not need to comply with the emissions standards until September 2023.

An extra £25 million from Government will be used to provide grants to help taxi drivers cover the cost of upgrading to a greener vehicle. This is in addition to £40 million already committed by the Mayor to assist taxi drivers whose vehicles would be affected by tighter age limits to retire the oldest, most polluting taxis.

Boris Johnson reiterated his commitment that from January 2018 all new taxis and all private hire vehicles under 18 months old presented for licensing in the capital for the first time should be zero emission capable.

Detailed plans for the new rapid charging network in London, on which Transport for London is working closely with key stakeholders, including boroughs and taxi and private hire trade organisations, are expected to be published later this year.

TfL will continue to lobby the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) for further funding from its £500 million funding pot to support the uptake of zero emission capable vehicles and put in place supporting charging infrastructure.

Michele Dix, managing director of planning at TfL, said: “London’s air quality has an impact on the health of every person living in this city which is why addressing emissions from road transport is such a priority.

"The ULEZ is a feasible and effective way to improve air quality not only in central London but it will also have a positive impact across the whole city too.

"We believe that giving owners of non-compliant vehicles more than five years to prepare means that they have fair warning to decide whether to change their vehicle to one that meets the emissions standards of the zone or pay a daily charge.”

Toroidion 1MW Concept The Toroidion 1MW Concept has been unveiled at the event Top Marques in Monaco. The anticipated two-seater electric supercar with 1341 hp (1 megawatt) has been designed, developed and built entirely in-house in Finland. It is road legal and on top of that the engineering firm hopes to successfully compete in motorsport too.

Toroidion was established four years ago to develop an entirely new electric powertrain that would be competitive at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It would be able to achieve long distance racing as it promises a rapid battery swap. The powertrain has been designed to be scalable in power for different applications as well.

Pasi Pennanen, an experienced car designer who has worked for Jaguar and Honda, believes that one day his technology could power electric cars for everyday use.

“What we have achieved is going to revolutionise the electric vehicles globally,” Pennanen told the media earlier. “We have patented this revolutionary new thing. It is expensive technology and we know that there will be a lot of interest. We’re creating a top of the pyramid.”

The details behind the ‘revolutionary high-performance powertrain’ are yet to be revealed and are expected after thorough testing.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Amsterdam to replace diesel buses with electric vehicles Amsterdam will become the first city in the country to run a fully electric bus fleet, following agreement between the city council and city bus firm GVB. 

The first batch of 40 buses will be replaced by electric vehicles in two years’ time, the Volkskrant reports, and by 2025 the entire fleet will be electric. 

The ferries over the IJ between the city centre and Noord will also be powered by green electricity. ‘This project means we are saying goodbye to symbolic behaviour and pilot projects,’ the city’s transport alderman Abdeluheb Choho told the Volkskrant. ‘We have decided to just do it, not to experiment with five buses.’ 

Amsterdam is not the first city to focus on electricity-powered public transport. Brabant has introduced some battery-driven buses and small-scale experiments are under way in Utrecht and Maastricht. Bus company Abellio, which is 100% owned by Dutch national railway firm NS, has also pledged to ensure the 300 buses operating in Limburg province are electric if it wins the concession. The six buses on the Wadden Sea island of Schiermonnikoog are also electric.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

BMW i5 Could Arrive As Tesla Rival By 2018 Unlike many of its rivals, BMW decided to do its plug-in cars properly by developing standalone platforms for the i3 and i8. The result was the creation of two excellent plug-in cars, the i3 and i8, which have left positive impressions with consumers at opposite ends of the luxury car spectrum. The BMW i5 is slotted to fill the gap between the i3 and i8, and rumor has it that Bimmer’s Model S fighter could make its debut as early as 2018, rather than 2020 asearlier rumors suggested.

BMWBlog reports on a rumor from Germany’s AutoBild magazine put the reveal date of the BMW i5 at sometime in 2018, underpinned by the extended-wheelbase version of theChinese-market 5 Series sedan. Internet speculation has suggested that the i5 could get any of a number of different alt-fuel drivetrains, including a hydrogen fuel cell stack from technology partner Toyota. The two automakers are also working on a joint sports car project.

AutoBild’s information says the BMW i5 will be a plug-in hybrid using Bimmer’s new eDrive technology, combining a 218 horsepower gas engine with two electric motors. The motor at the front will make around 150 horsepower with a second motor at the rear good for 272 horsepower. When all three motors work together, total output is an exceptional 640 ponies, just 51 horsepower less than the mighty Tesla P85D.

But where the P85D can still travel over 250 miles on electricity alone, the BMW i5 will be limited to about 125 km/78 miles of EV range per charge. Even that’s likely a generous estimate at this early stage, as German automakers routinely game the fuel economy tests that result in optimistic ratings all but unreplicatable in the real world. BMW is targeting annual sales of about 30,000 units with a cost of about €100,000/$106,000, right around where the P85D is priced in America, according to the reports.

There’s also no doubt that Tesla will be updating the Model S in meaningful ways over the next three years, so by the time the i5 hits the market, who knows what Elon Musk might have already unveiled?

Some of you might say “A plug-in hybrid isn’t an electric car rival!” but you’re looking at it the wrong way. Instead, think about it like this. Tesla builds luxury cars that happen to be electric. BMW builds luxury cars across a much wider range of models and drivetrains. They’re still competing for the same buyers, the ones simply looking for an exciting-enough driving experience to drop a hundred-large on. Yes, there are buyers who ONLY want an all-electric car, but there are even more who still want the crutch of gasoline’s convenience.

Will the BMW i5 be the Tesla fighter many are hoping for? Or is BMW still a few generations behind Musk and Tesla Motors? Mark 2018 as they year we find out.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Hyundai Sonata PHEV 2015 Seoul Motor Show. The Hyundai Sonata PHEV is the company's first Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle. Although technologically advanced, the PHEV model will behave much like the regular Sonata Hybrid from the driver's seat. A 9.8 kWh lithium polymer battery pack, roughly six times larger than the Sonata Hybrid's battery, is expected to give Sonata Plug-in Hybrid an all-electric range of up to 38.4 km, farther than any other midsize PHEV sedan. The 50 kW electric motor is 32 percent more powerful than the motor in the regular Sonata Hybrid and allows EV operation at higher speeds.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Changan to launch electric four-door coupe concept on the Shanghai Auto Show Changan Auto has released the first image of a new electric four-door coupe concept car that will debut on the 2015 Shanghai Auto Show starting on April 20. The concept features two giant air intakes on each side of the bumper, super thin LED headlights, an illuminated Changan logo, and a rounded bonnet in darker black. The concept will be ‘powered’ by an electric motor with an output of 167hp and 335nm, good for 0-100 in 4.12 seconds, or so Changan claims.

Elon Musk Comments On Minimum Range For Electric Cars

Tesla Model 3 Price Target Is $35,000 Before Incentives CEO Elon Musk laid out what he believes to be the minimum range for any electric car sold to the public: 200 real-world miles.

Musk made a few comments on range during the recent Tesla press conference on Software 6.2 for the Model S. Here’s what Musk stated:

“200 miles is minimum threshold for an electric car. We need 200+ miles in real world. Not 200 miles in ‘AC off, driving on flat road mode. Anything below 200 miles isn’t passing grade. Most people looking for 20% more than that.”

From this statement, it’s believed that Tesla’s upcoming Model 3 will have between 200 and 240 miles of range.

Musk spoke of the high limits for range too, saying that basically 400 miles of range is unnecessary, as the car is then carrying around a lot of extra, often-unused battery.

Air pollution is not the weather's fault Yes, Saharan dust may play a role, but the primary cause of our dangerous air is the policy and technology choices we all make

Air pollution is not caused by the weather. The weather is a factor contributing to high concentrations of air pollution in a given area when it fails to dissipate manmade emissions. It can also, on rare occasions, impact air quality by whipping up particles from naturally occurring deserts or volcanic eruptions. But no blocking anti-cyclone ever pumped NOX into a child's lungs. No gentle zephyr blanketed a city in toxic smog so dense you can't see the horizon.

This much should be obvious, and yet it feels like we all need a reminder that thescandalously high levels of air pollution afflicting southern England this week are primarily the result of the policy and technology choices made by the UK and its neighbours.

Speak to people about the eye-scratching, throat-irritating air in central London today and it won't be long until someone mentions Saharan dust or French factories. And who can blame them. The government this week declared the pollution incident was "due to locally generated particulate matter combining with pollution blown in from the near continent - and a contribution from Saharan dust". Media outlets parroted the line, highlighting the role of gentle southerly breezes and the exotically imported Saharan sands.

And why shouldn't they, this broad attribution of blame is, after all, technically correct. The depressingly frequent air pollution spikes afflicting the UK are invariably the result of a combination of factors that sometimes include European pollution and that North African sand. But what is never made clear in the reporting of these events is the precise contribution made by imported air pollution and the balance between naturally occurring increases in concentrations particulate matter and toxic manmade emissions. Consequently, the causes of the very real health crisis that we are all simultaneously contributing and exposed to are muddied and many people are left with the completely erroneous impression dangerous air is either some kind of unavoidable phenomenon we must endure or a short lived crisis to be blamed on Johnny Foreigner.

One thing needs to be made doubly clear on days like today, when personally I'd advise my son and my grandmother not to come anywhere near central London: the air in much of our capital city and many other parts of the country is dangerously polluted for large chunks of the time. A combination of weather conditions make concentrations of air pollution particularly unpleasant on days like today, but even on breezy days the pollution is still being produced, busy roads remain dangerous for the vulnerable, and lives are ended prematurely.

Unfortunately, the perennial haze of noxiousness only becomes newsworthy when pollution levels move from high to very high. But almost 30,000 British citizens are thought to die early as a result of air pollution each year, thousands more have their quality of life eroded, and a recent report put the cost to the economy at £10bn a year. This is not the fault of high pressure or desert dust, it is the result of our cars and factories and policy makers' reluctance to embrace the cleaner alternatives that can tackle air pollution.

Successive governments have failed to take the issue nearly seriously enough. Labour oversaw a boom in diesel cars that was later shown to have dangerous consequences in terms of air pollution (although it has now vowed to beef up action on air pollution if elected through a new network of low emission zones). Meanwhile, over the past five years coalition ministers have often seemed as concerned with identifying loopholes that would allow the UK to avoid EU air quality rules as they have with delivering tangible improvements in air quality.

Where progress has been made it has been too slow and lacking in scale, as evidenced by the glacial progress on tougher emissions zones and the numerous trials in London of clean vehicles that never seem to result in more than a handful of zero emission cars or buses being deployed. Meanwhile, any sense that government is serious about prioritising action on air pollution has been undermined by plans to scale back the network of monitoring stations and lobbying to reduce EU air quality fines. It is little wonder that environmental legal group ClientEarth was moved to launch legal action against the government over its air pollution record.

The technologies and policies we need to reduce air pollution and respond more aggressively to air quality incidents are readily available and have been shown to work in cities around the world. We know that zero and low emission vehicles, car-sharing, congestion charging, low emissions zones, air pollution warnings, and most of all clean and effective public transport works, reducing air pollution and carbon emissions while curbing financial and health costs. We know some cities that take their citizens health seriously have been moved to ban cars and factories from operating on days when pollution poses a significant threat. But rather than respond to a full blown public health crisis with the ambitious measures that were needed the government has instead prevaricated, in the hope that when it comes to air pollution most people will continue to blame it on the weatherman.