Published on May 16th, 2018 | by Zachary Shahan0
What Changed In The Electric Vehicle Industry In April?
May 16th, 2018 by Zachary Shahan
Our “What Changed … ?” feature tries to cut through the “noise” (that is, review articles, op-eds, superfluous analyses, announcements about the not-so-near future, fun anecdotes, etc.) in order to highlight significant news in the EV industry, solar energy industry, and energy storage industry each month. Here’s an update on what was actually new in the electric vehicle world in April.
If you know a bit about EV battery history, you know A123. The company is actually still rolling and recently invested in solid-state battery development alongside Ionic Materials.
Electric bike producer HOPR recently unveiled a new offering with a portable power pack (battery) that can be used either to power the bike or charge your electronic devices.
A 100,000 sq ft expansion of BYD’s California factory for electric buses and batteries kicked off at the beginning of April. Demand rising?
Chinese authorities last month approved the IPO plan for Chinese battery giant CATL. As a reminder, CATL is aiming for a 13.1 billion yuan (~$1.97 billion) IPO, followed by world domination.
Japanese venture investments giant SoftBank announced that it would be investing up to CAD$99.1 million into the Canadian firm Nemaska Lithium in order to secure up to 9.9% of the company. Who wants lithium? Everyone.
And LG Chem jumped into two new joint ventures with China’s Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt to secure more cobalt supplies. (Check out our cobalt archives for much more perspective on this portion of the market and what various automakers are doing to get around a supply crunch and human rights issues with the mining.)
We got word that Tesla produced an auto industry record 34,494 fully electric cars in the first quarter of the year. Ironically, that wasn’t enough to appease many analysts and critics, as it was expected that Tesla would ramp up Model 3 production faster than it was able to — which also led to Elon Musk sleeping at the factory to help get production up to full speed. Nonetheless, the Model 3 became the top selling electric car in the United States in Q1, and it may already be the top selling small or midsize luxury car in the US (while the Model S continues to crush the large luxury car competition).
While Europe waits for the Model 3, the new Nissan LEAF hit the Old Continent with a big bang and is now leading electric car sales there — by far.
We normally don’t do simple, far-out announcements here, but it seems worth highlighting that all new Smart cars in Europe will be electric beginning in 2020, following an earlier transition to 100% electric in the USA.
It’s a bit late to the show, but Infiniti is the latest car company to get to work developing a fully electric car platform, which is based around its Q Inspiration Concept.
Going a step further, Protean Electric and LM Industries have partnered up to produce some cool little self-driving electric cars.
PSA Group, after its split with GM, announced that it is creating an electric vehicle division to try to finally jump into the 21st century. (This follows a January announcement that all of its models will be electrified by 2025.)
Going further east, Xiaopeng Motors raised $1.6 billion to help in its efforts to become the Tesla of China, with special help coming from giants Alibaba & Foxconn.
Not to be outdone, another “Tesla of China” startup, Lynk & Co, revealed its Lynk & Co 01.
Chinese car companies may finally have a bit more competition at home, though. At long last, China announced new rules for foreign car manufacturers. The new rules include eliminating the country’s “50-50 rule” by the end of 2018 for foreign manufacturers who manufacture new energy vehicles (essentially, battery electric or plug-in hybrid cars). That means that they can actually sell cars there without a hefty fee or 50% ownership by a Chinese company.
Not waiting around for those new regs to kick in, Volkswagen launched its first Chinese EV in partnership with Chinese joint venture buddy JAC … and it’s basically just a rebadged JAC iEV7S. For a deep dive, check out our China expert Tim Dixon’s take on the car. Volkswagen is also reportedly considering a joint venture with China-based Didi Chuxing (the Uber/Lyft of China). The partnership would concern “purpose built” vehicles. “Current expectations are reportedly for these talks to lead to the signing of a deal early in May, according to that account — with initial terms to see Volkswagen manage a fleet of 100,000 or so new vehicles for China’s top on-demand taxi service.” (No small plans in China!)
Trucks, Vans, & Buses
Workhorse’s E-GEN electric trucks/vans have started making it into WB Mason fleets, managed by fleet giant Ryder. (In case you missed it, check out our own Steve Hanley’s take on the electric truck/van after a test drive.)
Colorado-based Lighting Systems is electrifying smaller Ford Transit vans, and deliveries just got rolling.
And Nissan started taking orders for its 40kWh e-NV200 electric van, offering a bit more range for those in need of an electric delivery van.
Want an electric school bus? Blue Bird’s got your back and is taking orders for 2018 delivery.
The City of Lights certainly wants electric buses. Paris took up a leadership role in electric mass transit by ordering 1,000 electric buses as part of a goal to have a 100% zero-emissions transit fleet. Will this finally kick off 1000+ orders of electric buses in cities outside of China?
Large electric trucks may not be as cool as electric sports cars, but they are critical for cleaning up our air and stabilizing our climate, so it’s grand to see that Germany just announced that electric trucks will be exempt from truck tolls from the 1st of January, 2019. “The change would result in a net savings of around €5,000 per vehicle, depending on the routes used,” the reporting indicates.
Along with GreenWay and other working group partners, we (CleanTechnica) launched a new report on EV charging guidelines for cities. Check it out!
Apparently, sharing companies sometimes don’t want to share. Case in point: GM’s Maven has signed an agreement with EVgo to have EVgo create a dedicated EV fast charging network for the carsharing service.
Dutch EV fast charging leader Fastned is moving further beyond the Netherlands, with new deals made in Sunderland and Newcastle in the UK.
Porsche launched its fast charging network for the US to great fanfare. The network will include at least 500 fast chargers throughout the country by the end of 2019.
Volkswagen’s Electrify America outfit is also pumping up and ready to play. It is installing 100 EV fast chargers at Walmarts across the country, and apparently has over 100 other retail, convenience, & refueling location partners for it EV station buildout.
Not to be outdone by Walmart, Target announced plans for 600 EV charging points at 100 sites over the next two years.
Showing some EV leadership out of Ohio, the PUC there approved a $10 million EV charging infrastructure plan.
Another electrified road EV charging pilot project was launched, this time in Sweden. Will it lead to anything on a large scale? Hard to say, but it seems like something that’s worth tracking.
Showing how things are done when you bring real leadership to the table, Amsterdam Airport installed 100 fast chargers for a new electric airport bus fleet.
On the consumer charging side of things, OVO Energy unveiled a vehicle-to-grid smart charger in the UK.
ABB, meanwhile, launched a new 350 kW charging station at Hannover Messe.
The first graduates of Tesla START classes started hitting the job market in April.
Electric + small (efficient) + shared, India’s Ola network announced it is adding 10,000 electric three-wheelers to its fleet over the coming year.