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Autonomous Vehicles

Published on April 5th, 2018 | by Zachary Shahan

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What Changed In The Electric Vehicle Industry In Quarter 1, 2018?

April 5th, 2018 by  


What actually changed in the electric vehicle world in Q1 2018? Here’s our rundown:

China, China, China

With stunning leadership, we got word that the Chinese city of Shenzhen has electrified its entire bus fleet, which is more than 16,000 buses. Furthermore, electric buses have been booming across China, not just in Shenzhen. A coming step in this fleet rEVolution is delivery and freight vehicles.

On the car front, China released new electric car regulations that will heavily shape the world’s most popular electric cars of 2018 and coming years.

BYD, meanwhile, returned to the top of the Chinese electric car market.

There’s actually more China EV news below, but we’re tucking it into other sections.

New Cars & Other Products

Tesla Model 3 rollout got moving a bit (climbing to approximately 2,000 units a week) and owner + media reviews start pouring in, including an in-depth review from our own Kyle Field (supplemented by a comparison to his previous Tesla Model S). Delivery estimates for the first $35,000 Tesla Model 3 electric cars, however, got pushed back to late 2018. Of course, there was a ton of other Tesla Model 3 news as well.

Another hot new model, the new Nissan LEAF, reportedly collected over 20,000 orders in Europe before deliveries began. UK pricing for the new Nissan LEAF was also released — starting at £21,990 after the £4,500 EV grant from the UK government — and Nissan launched Nissan Energy Solar in the UK. And, as noted in the solar energy industry update, Nissan started using 2nd life batteries from its EVs in energy storage solutions.

The Jaguar I-PACE was officially unveiled, and pricing for the Jaguar I-PACE put it at a cool €82,000 in Europe or $69,500 in the US. (Despite the pricing, though, let’s maybe not call it a Tesla Model X competitor.)

The UK started getting its long-awaited electric taxis from Geely-owned LEVC.

Public orders for the Workhorse W-15 electric pickup truck opened up in the US. UPS noted that the truck is cost-competitive with conventional trucks even without subsidies. Workhorse also unveiled its new N-Gen fully electric van. (Earlier arch rival Via Motors, meanwhile, entered into a joint venture with Geely/Volvo.)

SF Motors splashed onto the scene in California after years under the radar, unveiling the SF5 and SF7.

DHL noted that the Tesla Semi looks set to save the company money after 1½ years of use.

BYD launched a new electric bus model in Brazil, a fresh EV market.

Volvo shared that it will release fully electric versions of the V40 and XC40.

Speaking of new electric vehicle types, a Dutch company introduced an autonomous electric barge.

There’s been a lot of recent progress moving toward low-cobalt EV batteries. Christopher Arcus dug into the shift toward NMC 811 batteries for us. I also spoke with various experts to explore if cobalt is an imminent, existential threat to EV revolution.

EV Charging

GreenWay launched its first “GridBooster” EV fast-charging station with battery backup in Central & Eastern Europe. The company also secured its first locations for superfast EV charging stations.

European EV charging leader Fortum Charge & Drive acquired Plugsurfing, another EV charging leader in Europe.

ClipperCreek started offering a new commercial and residential EV charging station.

UPS is moving towards full electrification of its London delivery fleet, but they key there is a reliance on stationary storage to buffer the EV charging demand.

Autonomous Vehicles

Hyundai & Aurora announced they have teamed up on Level 4 autonomous vehicles. Volkswagen Group & Aurora announced a very similar partnership. And … Aurora also landed a deal with China’s Byton.

Waymo may be a step ahead, agreeing to purchase thousands more Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans for self-driving use. Waymo is also partnering with Jaguar to diversify its self-driving fleet.

Similarly, Nissan and DeNA started robotaxi service on March 5.

China issued licenses to SAIC & NIO to allow self-driving vehicle testing on public roads (the first in China).

An autonomous Uber in commercial operation killed a pedestrian in Arizona, which led to a pause of testing by some companies and increased scrutiny of AVs.

London launched an autonomous pod pilot.

Up a bit higher, Larry Page’s self-flying air taxi took to the skies in New Zealand.

Other EV News

Renault opened up its first EV Experience Centre, a concept EV store for the future.

Ford announced an $11 billion investment in electrified vehicles — 40 electrified models by 2025.

PSA went a step further, saying all of its models would be electrified by 2025.

But here’s a much bigger one: Volkswagen Group plans to electrify versions of all 300 of its models by 2025, and the news in Q1 was that it has invested $25 billion into buying batteries and associated components from three global battery manufacturers — Samsung SDI, LG Chem, and Contemporary Amperex.

Batteries are, of course, the hearts of electric vehicles. But battery production is a tough market to break into, and Bosch has declared it’s out of that game.

Also outside of the automaker world, Alibaba and Foxconn led a $347 million funding round for EV startups.

Meanwhile, oil-focused hedge fund Westbeck Capital launched a new EV hedge fund.

Tesla approved a unique, record 10-year compensation package for Elon Musk that skips giving him a salary but will reward him handsomely if he does well on various performance incentives.

Faraday Future came back from what seemed to be dead and started construction on a factory in California.

Geely, which owns Volvo Cars, put even more money into the European auto market, buying nearly 10% of Daimler. Oddly, Daimler turned around and bought a 4% stake in a different Chinese auto giant, BAIC.

In the carsharing world, BMW & Daimler moved toward a merging of car2go and DriveNow. Around the same time, Daimler purchased Europcar’s 25% stake in Car2Go.

BMW also indicated it is pushing back its EV mass production target due to EV mass production not being profitable before 2020, according to the company.

Norway’s EV leadership continued, with 37% of new car sales in March being fully electric cars and a total of 55% market share for all plug-in vehicles.

In China, Didi Chuxing announced it is starting an electric carsharing getup.

We would be remiss if we didn’t also note that Elon Musk sent his insanely valuable Tesla Roadster into space on a SpaceX rocket, which is just fun.


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About the Author

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species). He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor. He's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don't jump to conclusions.



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