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BMW Tweaks Battery Tech, Jaguar & Audi Tweak Range, Mercedes Delays EQC

BMW, Audi, and Jaguar are all touting improvements in the range of their electric SUVs, while Mercedes says it is holding the EQC back from the US market to meet demand in Europe.

To catch up on some notable EV news from four different European auto companies, below is an EV news medley. Together these stories provide an interesting look at how the EV revolution is going for these legacy automakers.

Jaguar & Audi Extend Range

The Jaguar I-PACE and Audi e-tron should be precisely what battery electric customers crave — premium SUV-type vehicles with a full complement of luxury touches. Unfortunately, both have suffered from rather less range than prospective customers would like, especially when compared to the offerings from Tesla. Both have recently taken some steps to address the range issue.

Using feedback from the eTrophy racing series and more than 50 million miles (80,467,200 km) of real-world driving, Jaguar has put together a no-cost package of electronic updates that improve battery usage, aerodynamics, and the operation of the all-wheel drive system, according to Autoblog. The upshot is a range boost of about 8% or 12 miles (19 km) more than the 234 mile (377 km) range currently certified by the EPA. As an added bonus, the updates will allow some over-the-air updates after the new software is installed by a Jaguar dealer.

Jaguar says the upgrade allows the battery to “run to a lower state of charge than previously without affecting drivability, durability, or performance.” The change affects range and efficiency. Horsepower and torque are unchanged. It also refines the torque distribution between the front and rear motors, which improves efficiency in ECO mode. Finally, Jaguar has refined thermal management control by using the active radiator vane system more frequently and made small tweaks to the regenerative braking system.

Audi has also unlocked more of the energy stored in the 95 kWh battery in its e-tron electric SUV. Previously, only 83.6 kWh were usable. Now 86.5 kWh can be accessed. The regenerative braking system feeds more electricity back to the battery, and the front motor is virtually shut down during many driving situations. Autoblog says the changes mean the e-tron can travel 15.5 more miles (25 km) on a single charge, which is a good thing since its EPA range rating at present is a paltry 202 miles (325 km).

According to Audi, the updates are available now for European customers and will be included in the cars coming to America later this year.

BMW Touts New Energy Density & Chemistry

A BMW press release extols the virtues of its new Generation Five electric powertrain, virtues which include a motor that uses no rare earth elements to new NMC 811 battery chemistry that uses two-thirds less cobalt. BMW sources all the lithium and cobalt used in its prismatic cells itself, and in turn supplies them to its battery cell manufacturing partners. BMW claims its latest battery cells have a 20% higher energy density than its Generation Four cells.

The first recipient of the Generation Five powertrain will be the iX3, which is also available with a gasoline or diesel engine and as a plug-in hybrid.

Mercedes EQC Delayed

Mercedes-Benz has announced it will delay bringing its EQC electric SUV to America until 2021. In a statement, it told Autoblog, “The EQC launch in Europe and other markets earlier in 2019 generated high interest worldwide for the EQC. In a recent direction from Daimler AG, it is a strategic decision to first support the growing customer demand for the EQC in Europe. As a result of this decision, the U.S. market launch date of the Mercedes-Benz EQC will be rescheduled to 2021.”

In theory, the move to hold the EQC back makes perfect sense. On January 1, the new EU emissions regulations came into effect. They impose large fines on any manufacturer whose cars emit more than 95 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer. At the present time, only 5% of the models Mercedes-Benz sells are in compliance. Electric vehicles count double under the new regulatory scheme, which means car companies can minimize the impact of the rules by selling lots of electric cars.

But Stuttgart, we have a problem. Teslarati reports that EQC sales in Germany are dismal. Since sales began in September, only 55 have been sold in the home country — 19 of them in November. How embarrassing! Kinda makes the Mercedes claim about “growing customer demand” sound like a bunch of self-serving hogwash.

The Takeaway

For years, the doomsayers have been chanting in unison about how Tesla will be bankrupt soon. Yet the reality is people are flocking to buy electric cars from Tesla while turning up their noses at the vehicles coming from Jaguar and the legacy German car companies. Despite BMW’s self-proclaimed advances in battery and powertrain technology, it still refuses to build more pure battery electric cars. Jaguar and Audi struggle to build electric cars that have the range customers crave. And Mercedes can’t seem to sell its vaunted EQC at all despite a concerted marketing campaign, or has production problems.

In the final analysis, it looks like Tesla is not a company likely to fail. Rather, one or more of the German or UK premium-class brands may not survive to see the beginning of the next decade.

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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."


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