So much electric vehicle news, so little time, but what actually changed in the electric vehicle industry last month? Below is some notable news.
Of course, the most notable story is that Tesla Model 3 production continued to ramp up and the car passed up all other premium cars in its segment to become the top selling car in its class in May. That’s just the beginning, though. Much more disruption for competing luxury carmakers is on the way. In fact, it seems that the Model 3 is now one of the 20 top selling cars in the USA and could break into the top 10 in June or July.
One part of that sales growth that’s not so hot is that Model 3 sales make the sales of other electric cars look that much more disappointing and immature.
Thanks to the Model 3, Model S, Model X, Tesla Solar (aka SolarCity), Tesla energy storage products, and coming vehicles, Tesla now actually supplies a $5.1 billion annual economic boost to the state of California. Its impact on Nevada’s economy must be soaring as well.
After a long wait, specs for the high-performance Tesla Model 3 with AWD were released in May, and ordering began for select customers. Additionally, the Model 3 got a collision avoidance rating of “Superior” from the IIHS.
The new 2018 Nissan LEAF got its own safety nod, winning a 5 star safety rating from Euro NCAP. The LEAF is ruling the show in Europe while those on the right side of the Atlantic wait an extra year or so for their Tesla Model 3 orders.
Kia finally took the covers off of the Kia Niro Electric, an attractive looking electric SUV that is sure to have much more consumer demand than Kia is able to quickly supply (due to battery constraints).
Daimler inked a deal to start producing its first EQ electric car (a compact car) in France. “Mercedes-Benz has created a new division known as EQ to produce fully electric cars. It plans to offer as many as 10 electric car models ranging from ultra compact ‘smart’ cars (European auto makers love to avoid capital letters when it comes to naming brands and models) to large SUVs and sedans by 2022. Come 2025, it expects electrics will account for up to 25% of sales. Beginning in 2020, every ‘smart’ car will be electric.”
Zipcar announced it is adding 325 Volkswagen e-Golfs to its London fleet to more seriously move toward zero-emissions transport. London is an easy place to jump into this due to the city’s growing crackdown on polluting cars. Nonetheless, it’s a positive sign, especially when you consider Zipcar’s global reach and the effect some good experiences in London could have on its overall fleet changes.
Ever heard of the SEAT eMii? Even if you’re European, I’d be surprised if you have. Nonetheless, the model soon will be used in an electric carsharing outfit as well, this time in a network in Barcelona, Spain.
Waymo indicated that it’s a fan of the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid (the only plug-in hybrid electric minivan on the market), putting its name down for perhaps 62,000 more of these minivans. I have the feeling Chrysler may just forget about normal consumers soon in order to satisfy the desires and demands of Waymo.
Honda announced that it’s bringing back the Fit EV, but this time giving it a single-charge range over 100 miles (186 miles or 300 km on a presumably non-EPA rating system that is absurdly unrealistic) and a price tag under $20,000. Thing is: not many of the cars will be produced, they’ll just be available for lease, and they’ll be available in only a few US states on the New Continent.
Speaking of compliance cars, Subaru finally joined the plug-in game and announced the Subaru Crosstrek PHEV. Will Subaru sell a ton of these? Almost certainly not. Will it meet fuel-economy regulations that are required in order to sell other vehicles? Sure. Is it an attractive car? Yeah … but it could be much better if Subaru was keen to lead rather than trail the pack.
Maybe the most interesting — yet not that viral — news of the month was that Volkswagen and Apple are teaming up on autonomous cars. Match made in heaven or recipe for disaster? You decide.
The partnership is starting small — “after years of trying to interest Mercedes and BMW in building a self-driving car featuring Apple software, the company has settled for converting Volkswagen T6 vans into semi-autonomous vehicles to shuttle Apple employees between campuses” — but one would presume both companies are wondering whether they should really ramp up the partnership and compete with Waymo, Uber, Lyft, etc.
Volkswagen’s new CEO, Herbert Diess, told investors that it had signed battery orders totaling $48 billion. Of course, this isn’t for cars being produced today, but these are presumably planned needs for coming vehicles in the VW ID electric lineup.
Making its own EV battery move, BMW Brilliance Automotive (a joint venture of BMW and Brilliance China Automotive Holdings) got construction rolling above the foundation on a battery factory expansion in China.
BMW also partnered with GM, IBM, and Accenture to launch a new blockchain initiative dubbed the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI). The initiative is focused on using blockchain for automotive applications. I didn’t know where else to slot this news, so I’m dropping it here.
In Sweden, Northvolt began construction of Northvolt Labs. “The new research and development facility — when it’s finished in 2019 (by current plans) — will be used as a development and testing site for the company’s lithium-ion battery cells and manufacturing practices. In other words, the facility will be used by the company as a small-scale test case for its large-scale electric vehicle (EV) battery manufacturing plans.”
BP — yes, the oil company — expanded its new-energy investments with an investment in EV ultra-fast-charging battery company StoreDot. BP is putting $20 million into this firm, which I imagine is a big deal for StoreDot but still small fries for BP.
Renault and Nissan have reportedly cut a deal with Chinese battery giant CATL to try to ramp up the necessary battery production those companies expect for their increasingly popular electric offerings.
Delivery Vehicles, Buses, & Garbage Trucks
StreetScooter opened up a second factory in Germany for the production of it electric delivery trucks.
Daimler, meanwhile, has started offering its Mercedes-Benz eSprinter, an electric delivery van of its own. Naturally, this is a European market product.
Other companies aren’t sitting idle, though. DAF Trucks announced it has partnered with VDL Groep on a fully electric Class 8 truck. Electric trucking looks like it will start electrifying fast. At the least, the market is heating up.
With a much smaller footprint and delivery capacity, but great flexibility, Workhorse started putting its autonomous delivery drones to work.
BYD landed a deal for 200 of its electric garbage trucks for the city of Indaiatuba, Brazil. It seems BYD may have some friends down in Brazil. But the bigger electric garbage truck orders came in China, where BYD landed orders for 500 of them from two Shenzhen companies. Shenzhen is BYD’s home base.
Volvo also wants to sell you electric garbage and delivery trucks now. The Volvo FE Electric and FL Electric will both be available in Europe in 2019.
Paris and London may be in line for some electric garbage trucks eventually. The two cities just agreed to trial some electric UPS delivery vans to clean up their air and help cut CO2 emission. We expect that the trials will go well and Paris and London will be looking for more electric vehicles soon.
Back in the USA, Motiv Power Systems partnered with Champion Bus to create the first OEM-integrated fully electric shuttle bus. “The new shuttle uses Motiv’s fully electric EPIC 4 series Dearborn chassis as the foundation of the vehicle, which means zero emissions and a CARB-certified platform that smoothens out the process of obtaining relevant rebates for customers. The Champion Challenger EV is based on the robust Ford E-450 platform, which is paired with Champion’s Michigan-built Challenger EV body.”
California launched a new $738 million electrification initiative at the end of May that is focused around EV charging infrastructure and delivery vehicles. “Pacific Gas & Electric, which serves the San Francisco Bay area, will invest up to $236 million in infrastructure, including $22 million for 234 DC fast chargers at 52 locations within its service area. There will be rebates available for up to 6,500 medium- and heavy-duty electric vehicles, such as trucks, cranes, and forklifts at 700 commercial and industrial sites.
“San Diego Gas & Electric will parcel out $137 million in rebates and installation reimbursements for up to 60,000 customers so they can charge electric vehicles at home, whether home is a single family house or a small multi-unit dwelling.
“The lion’s share of the money — $343 million — will be distributed by Southern California Edison, which serves the Los Angeles area. It will go toward rebates for up to 8,500 medium- and heavy-duty electric vehicles and the infrastructure needed to keep them charged at a total of 870 sites.”
A new fast train service opened between Miami, Fort Lauderdale, & West Palm Beach in Florida. The Brightline train is privately operated.
Down further in Brazil, meanwhile, the government signed on for a BYD SkyRail project. The planned route actually runs over the ocean a bit. That would be a train to ride!
Aside from the California initiative noted above, EV charging infrastructure also got a boost in the US Northeast. “Working collaboratively, a dozen northeast US states developed a set of recommendations titled the ‘Northeast Corridor Regional Strategy for Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure‘ to advance public and private investments in electric car charging and increase the use of electric cars throughout the region. The strategy incorporates input from automobile manufacturers, utilities, EV charging companies, and others.”
Going even further north, Quebec also announced a plan for rolling out much more EV charging infrastructure.
Other EV charging industry news: Proterra has a new line of EV charging stations for fleets and eMotorWerks unveiled a new line of smart EV charging tech for networks.