Category: Electric vehicles

By on June 24, 2020

Following reports that Rivian might decide to move a large portion of its operations out of Michigan, news has reached us that it’s all but abandoning the Mitten State for sunny California.

Starting its life as Avera Motors in Florida back in 2009, the EV startup moved to Plymouth, Michigan in 2015 to poach talent from the Big Three and lay down some roots. However, the company doesn’t appear to have wormed its way into the soil all that deeply. It now plans to move a sizable portion of its operations to Irvine, California, with some employees heading to its plant in Normal, Illinois, to prepare for production.

This has got to be a slap in the face for some Michigan residents, since many were instrumental in the development of Rivian’s first models. The business fired a gaggle of people at its engineering and design center near Detroit at the start of June, only to slot in a couple of high-paid executives. Now it’s starting to look like it may pull up stakes and skip town. Read More >

By on June 18, 2020

On Wednesday, ride-hailing company Lyft announced every vehicle using its platform will be electric by 2030. Since its fleet is comprised primarily of contractors using private vehicles, one might assume the company is planning to offer some financial assistance upon their next purchase. But being sensible rarely means being correct in the postmodern era.

Rather than encouraging its own drivers to make the switch, Lyft plans to work with NGOs, lawmakers, and pressure its industry rivals to make electrification mainstream. Obviously, this will include financial incentives for organizations willing to make the switch to EVs in exchange for a fat wad of cash. That’s what you’re now supposed to focus on. Ignore that Lyft’s announcement literally offers no personal commitment and passes every scrap of responsibility it pretends to be taking on to the government.

Lyft is trying to play the hero, and thinking about it too hard is going to muck everything up.  Read More >

By on June 3, 2020

Indianapolis’ electric car-sharing program, BlueIndy, died in May. Failed green initiatives are fairly common these days, but they remain an important exercise in finding out what works and what doesn’t in order for progress to be made. Unfortunately, that doesn’t preclude host cities from having to deal with the aftermath — and Indiana’s capitol now needs to decide what’s to be done with the EVs and their stations.

BlueIndy lasted four years, with the company announcing it was forced to cease operations because it “did not reach the level of activity required to be economically viable.” The plan was to provide an eco-friendly alternative to car ownership, though Indy citizens seemed less eager than their leadership. This has left the city with dozens of small, relatively new EVs waiting to be crushed and roughly 90 charging stations it has no idea what to do with.

Naturally, it’s asking for advice.  Read More >

By on June 2, 2020

The automotive industry’s sudden interest in all-electric pickups may have been surprising initially, but they’ve since offered a few perks that have helped us understand why companies are suddenly so smitten with the concept. When Rivian first showed its pickup in 2018, it came with some interesting storage solutions that were only possible because it doesn’t need to worry about things like a driveshaft tunnel or a crowded engine bay. We wouldn’t call them game changers but they certainly opened the door (literally) for new storage options and we’re beginning to see this take ever-more impressive forms.

Bollinger Motors has recently patented a passthrough gate that allows one to slot exceptionally long cargo all the way through the vehicle. Officially, they’re two separate patents that work in tandem to allow pickup owners a spot to stash up to 16 feet of lumber — or more if one doesn’t mind it hanging out the front and/or back of the vehicle. Just be sure to tie things down so you don’t accidentally create a brake-launched tarmac torpedo.  Read More >

By on May 6, 2020

Mercedes-Benz is nixing its all-electric EQ hatchback, according to R&D boss Markus Schäfer. Instead, it’s going to play a GLA-sized EQA crossover as its next hand.

Speaking with Autocar, Schäfer basically said it was a question of market demand. The EQC has already been delayed until at least 2021 for U.S. customers, though we’ve heard talk that its suspension could prove indefinite as the brand reassesses what should — and shouldn’t — be included in its future lineup. “We have to watch customer demand and, at the moment, SUVs and crossovers are the absolute favorites. Those are our first priorities,” Mercedes’ R&D head explained.

It’s only the latest chapter in a complicated story about an industry that’s constantly having to rethink how it handles electric cars.  Read More >

By on April 6, 2020

Like most legacy automakers, Volkswagen is casually walking back promises of electrification. As with self-driving cars, the technology behind new-energy vehicles is taking longer to mature than the industry would like. Meanwhile, the market — skewed as it is toward larger models — has been about as cooperative as a sugared-up child come bedtime.

Despite governments around the world incentivizing the sale of EVs, they’re still but a fraction of whole.

With the pandemic undoubtedly discouraging consumers from purchasing big-ticket items, electric vehicle sales aren’t presumed to make a lot of headway in 2020, either. We recently learned that some of the promises made by Ford and General Motors in regard to electrification were overblown by corporate messaging. In truth, they both plan on remaining heavily dependent upon truck and crossover sales for several more years.

However, Volkswagen seemed to be betting everything it had on battery technology. In the wake of its 2015 diesel emission scandal, VW was one of the first companies to promise widespread electrification by suggesting it would build one million EVs by 2023 — with 70 new green models introduced by 2029. The past year has seen the automaker issue qualifying remarks that leave us feeling dubious about its end goal.   Read More >

By on March 27, 2020

News arose yesterday that General Motors’ and Ford Motor Company’s battle plans rely heavily on SUV and pickup sales, rather than electric vehicles. Details of the corporate strategies, first shared by Reuters, soon circulated through the media, with many outlets upset that the pair seem to have oversold the role electrification will play in their respective lineups through 2026. One wonders how they could possibly be this surprised.

Using data issued to parts suppliers from the two automakers, AutoForecast Solutions predicted North American production of SUV models from GM and Ford will outpace the assembly of traditional cars by more than eight to one in 2026. Roughly 93 percent of those models are expected to be dependent upon gasoline. Meanwhile, Reuters compared the manufacturers’ strategy against Tesla — a company that only exists for the explicit purpose of selling EVs and has never assembled a gas-powered automobile — as if all manufacturers are equal in scope and cater to the same type of customers.  Read More >

By on December 11, 2019

The European Union has approved a 3.2 billion-euro fund to promote the research and development of battery technology, with cash pouring in from Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Sweden. While Brussels has been on an electrification push ever since Europe fell out of love with diesel, now may not be the best time to double down on EVs.

We recently covered China’s ailing automotive market, noting the poor performance of new energy vehicles (which fell by at least 40 percent vs the previous November). We’ve also covered a survey showing how eager the nation’s consumer base appeared to be to purchase them, with both writer and readership wondering how reliable those figures actually were. Our collective dubiousness appears to have been valid. Despite being the top region for EV sales, new data from Bernstein Research claims about 70 percent of the 1.2 million electric or gasoline-electric hybrid models sold in China over the past year went directly to government or corporate fleets. When the government started removing subsidies, sales plummeted with little private interest to soften the impact.

Europe may be on a vaguely similar path. While worldwide EV sales are up about 13 percent through October, sales in North America are down 2 percent (at 301,000 deliveries), with Europe rising 37 percent (to 395,000). That’s partially due to European cities being closer together (with more charging points between them), though most EU member states also offer various electric vehicle purchasing incentives and tax exemptions. They’ve likewise adopted stricter environmental rules that make EVs more appetizing to own in the future.  Read More >

By on November 19, 2019

If you hop around this country on a semi-regular basis, you’ve likely noticed that California seems better equipped to endure the onslaught of electric vehicles poised to reshape our society. For all the complaints about the state’s managerial issues and a homelessness situation that’s spinning wildly out of control, it’s one of the few places you can regularly encounter EV charging stations without actively looking.

It’s also an area you see them frequently in use. Many states still harbor large distances between charge points that don’t see a lot of use in the first place. But things are different in California. There are dedicated EV stations along most major highways, increasing in frequency the closer to you get to metropolitan hubs. Once inside the city limits, there are are countless office parks, service stations, and parking structures offering ground-floor charging — many of which will actually have cars plugged into them.

You’ll also notice many are broken and some don’t let you pay via a single swipe of your credit card. Instead, the machine will ask you to make an account with whatever company is offering the service, often trying to push you into using a proprietary app. It’s unfortunate and probably the last thing you want to do after scouting out a particularly well-hidden station because the first three you came across were occupied or out of order.  Read More >

By on November 6, 2019

Ford’s whetting electric appetites at SEMA this week with its new Mustang Lithium prototype. Officially a one-off model for the show, the automaker said it was present to prove how utterly dope future electric performance vehicles will be. Good timing, too, as the debut of Ford’s all-electric, Mustang-inspired crossover is almost upon us.

Ignoring the timing in relation to the Mach E, it’s mildly curious that the brand would first preview the prototype at an aftermarket trade show. But it’s worth noting that the electric Mustang actually cobbles together quite a few parts from various catalogs. The manufacturer informs us that Lithium is equipped with Ford Performance’s Track Handling Pack and Brembo brakes sourced from the Shelby GT350R ⁠— though they’re the tamest inclusions by far.  Read More >

By on October 28, 2019

Our big concern for Mini’s upcoming electric hatchback was that it wouldn’t have sufficient range to make sense in the United States. The company seemed to be more interested in producing a rambunctious urban runabout, rather than something that could serve as a do-anything, go-anywhere EV. But we figured we’d wait to see where BMW Group planned on pricing the thing before folding arms and furrowing brows.

As it turns out, the Mini Cooper SE’s starting MSRP will be $30,750 (including destination). While that undercuts the cost of some “rival” models by several grand, the Mini EV brings less to the party. Read More >

By on October 14, 2019

There are plenty of ways to get free gasoline. Unfortunately, most require you to become uncomfortably intimate with advertising to reap any rewards. Converting your vehicle into a mobile billboard for a brand is a good way to convince said brand to foot your monthly gas bill. But you can also sit through hours of digital surveys or ads to encourage companies to part with fuel cards. Either way, it’s free go juice — with a catch.

Volta Industries is attempting to duplicate this model for EV charging, without the need for middle men. The company will allot a certain amount of electric charge time to customers willing to interact with “embedded advertisements” occupying high-end retail zones. While the company has promoted this business model for several years, it only entered our peripheral vision in recent months after securing investments and solidifying its plans.

Despite the phrase “if you’re getting something for free, you are the product” being around since at least the 1970s, it’s infinitely applicable here.  Read More >

By on September 11, 2019

Naming a car is difficult. All the best predatory animals have been taken and getting creative often results in the certain parts of the world thinking you’ve intentionally named your car something hilarious. Chevrolet’s Nova is the classic example, but modern automobiles still run into trouble. Hyundai’s Kona falls on Portuguese ears as the most vulgar synonym for vagina (an oddly common theme among car monikers) and Audi’s e-Tron translates roughly into French as “turd.” It’s no wonder so many automakers simply forgo issuing real names, opting instead for an alphanumeric jumble.

When Volkswagen began previewing concept versions of its electrified ID lineup, models used a bizarre naming strategy. Maybe titles like Roomzz, Buzz, Crozz, and Vizzion sound better in German, but they didn’t play well here. VW’s solution to the problem has been to simply assign their production counterparts with a number — and it’s looking like that will be continue to be the case.

While the brand was showcasing the new ID.3 hatchback at the Frankfurt Motor Show this week, it also teased a follow-up model that will actually make its way stateside. Originally dubbed the Crozz, the car is now named simply “ID.4.”  Read More >

By on September 9, 2019

nissan imx concept

Despite bringing the electric Leaf to market while the rest of the industry was still scratching its head over how to handle EVs, Nissan has since lost its lead. Eager to get back into the race, the automaker is putting together what it hopes will be a market-friendly model utilizing battery power. It previewed a pre-production concept to U.S. dealers last month.

While the clandestine nature of its debut leaves a lot up in the air, it’s clearly aimed at besting the latest and greatest coming from rival manufacturers. Range will be in the neighborhood of 300 miles, with room for five and sprightly acceleration. The shape? Crossover, obviously.  Read More >

By on July 8, 2019

Wary that China might have the battery market totally cornered by the time electric vehicles become mainstream, the European Union is trying to jumpstart the industry at home. This year, the EU has started working with manufacturers and financial institutions to develop a reliable supply chain of the lithium-ion packs that have been difficult to come by.

European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic is targeting 100 billion euros ($113 billion) for the program, which Bloomberg said would help the EU “act like China.”  Read More >

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