Category: Electric vehicles

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 >

By on June 24, 2019

Following rumors that Audi’s E-Tron would have to be delayed due to issues with battery supplier LG Chem and some unforeseen “software development” problems, Volkswagen Group’s plan to build 330,000 electric vehicles per year in Zwickau, Germany, by 2021 appeared to possess a plot hole the size of the Grand Canyon.

The EV problem is not unique to Volkswagen. Other manufacturers hoping to build electric cars have also been struggling with factory retooling, high development costs, and in-demand battery suppliers that are more than willing to change their prices. However VW claims to have solved some of these issues, at least for a while, citing new investments in China and multiple partnerships with battery concerns. Read More >

By on June 11, 2019

With Europe and China promoting aggressive emission mandates, including proposals to eventually prohibit the sale of internal combustion vehicles, electric cars look to be a shoe-in. The UK’s Committee on Climate Change recently recommended moving up the country’s 2040 deadline to end the sale of gasoline or diesel cars to 2035 as part of a wider target to cut the country’s net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050.

Unfortunately, battery electric vehicles still represent less than 1 percent of the region’s new car sales. While EV sales rose 63 percent in April vs the previous year, the adoption rate doesn’t appear to be on the same track as regulatory measures pushed by various authorities.

According to government-commissioned poll from 2016, range anxiety appears to be the primary culprit in the United Kingdom. Most respondents cited recharging their battery as their biggest hangup, with elevated EV costs playing second fiddle. Read More >

By on April 11, 2019

Yesterday, we discussed Volkswagen trouble in finding the perfect recipe for affordable electric cars. Today, its BMW’s turn, and a broader look at how electrification is affecting Germany on the whole.

Reducing auto emissions has become immeasurably stylish in countries across the globe, with Europe doing some of the heaviest lifting via stringent regulatory measures. As a result, Germany’s automotive sector intends to go green and push EVs to the forefront. While BMW may not have committed itself to electrification quite so thoroughly as Volkswagen, the company isn’t sitting around while the competition does everything. The company is making concerted efforts of its own. Still, there are drawbacks to upending established supply chains and dumping a fortune into developing an entirely different type of car.  Read More >

By on March 27, 2019

The unlikely alliance between BMW and Daimler, solidified earlier this year, is in the opening stages of producing something tangible. The duo are already said to be working on a joint platform for electric vehicles, which the German business publication Manager Magazin claims will underpin a new EV from BMW.

Called the i2, the battery-powered subcompact is to be slotted beneath BMW’s existing i3. While rumored to be similar in size, the i2 will abandon the i3’s carbon fiber body in an attempt to minimize costs and broaden appeal. Daimler would follow by producing its own version, likely using Mercedes-Benz’s EQ sub-brand.  Read More >

By on March 6, 2019

Kia’s much-teased EV concept turned out to be less attractive and more serious than we initially assumed. Following an announcement suggesting the vehicle’s wild arrangement of 21 interior screens was a humorous jab at industry trends, the automaker officially debuted the car at the Geneva Motor Show. Styled at the company’s European design centre in Frankfurt, the “Imagine by Kia” concept manifested into a slightly puffy crossover serving as an exercise in design.

In the end, Imagine is guilty of some of the show car sins Kia seemed to be railing against. For starters, it uses a single sheet of glass for the windscreen and roof, features rear-hinged doors at the back, rides on bespoke Goodyear tires, and hosts the ever-popular menagerie of interior displays.  Read More >

By on January 23, 2019

Back in 2017, Honda debuted its adorable Urban EV Concept, a vehicle that ended up becoming the belle of the Frankfurt Auto Show. Its cheeky design was suitably modern while still adhering to traditional automotive models. In fact, the car seems styled in a manner that’s intentionally reminiscent of the first-generation Civic.

Having already promised a production version for the European market, Honda has issued an update on the vehicle’s progress. The automaker recently confirmed it will show a new prototype of the Urban EV at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show in March, ahead of a production model slated to debut later this year. It also provided a teaser sketch of the model (above), proving that Honda doesn’t want to alter the cute little car more than it needs to.  Read More >

By on January 3, 2019

electrify-america-ev-charging-station, Electrify America

Perhaps — but Norway treats EV owners like royalty.

Battery electric vehicles are not subject to most of that country’s automotive taxes, are subsidized via credits, and are frequently offered free parking and charging points as a way to further encourage drivers to get away from gasoline and diesel. Norway is also working aggressively toward banning all gas-powered vehicles by 2025.

According to Reuters, the strategy is working. The independent Norwegian Road Federation (NRF) said Wednesday that electric cars rose to 31.2 percent of all sales last year. EVs represented 20.8 percent of the country’s overall sales in 2017 and just 5.5 percent in 2013.  Read More >

By on December 10, 2018

Hyundai’s hydrogen-powered Nexo is so ludicrously specialized that it’s utterly impossible to make a case for it outside of California. In fact, even that might be overstating its usefulness — allow me to try again. The Nexo Fuel Cell works near Los Angeles or San Francisco and absolutely nowhere else in North America. And, while that’s primarily due to its dependency on hydrogen fueling stations, which exist almost exclusively in two relatively small corners of the Golden State, it’s not the only reason.

You need to be a certain type of person to want to drive the Nexo. Someone who likes making a statement, is interested in green tech, and possesses absolutely zero interest in spirited bouts of driving. It’s slow, appliance-like, and offers nothing to the typical enthusiast crowd, save for some interesting styling. However, if you want something eye-catching that runs on alternative energy and routinely spend a large portion of your day in horrible LA traffic, it could be the right tool for the job.  Read More >

By on November 30, 2018

After some healthy automotive foreplay, Audi finally took the wraps off its new e-tron GT Concept at the LA Auto Show. Offering the best elements of the brand’s design language, the vehicle previews a production model that’s scheduled to appear late in 2020, as well as Porsche’s upcoming Taycan EV — which will share the Audi’s drivetrain and platform.

Relatively handsome, if you like Audi sedans and oversized grilles on electric cars, the GT avoids getting overly ambitious with the futuristic styling we see on a lot of mainstream EVs. We’d call this “extremely modern” rather than some truly visionary design you’d expect from a concept car. It’s safe but not so safe that anyone should be left fretting.

However, it’s not quite the Tesla destroyer the media is eternally hunting for. Despite boasting some impressive specifications, the e-tron is roughly on par with the Model S when viewed broadly. But it should still make for healthy competition while encouraging the American brand to step up its game.  Read More >

By on November 19, 2018

Volkswagen Group has been hyping its upcoming all-electric lineup for a while, with the Type 2-inspired Buzz Concept serving as an impromptu mascot for the company’s new I.D. brand. However, we had hoped VW would rename some of the concepts once production models hit the scene, maybe even tapping into its heritage. While the I.D. Buzz, Crozz, and Vizzion provide a cohesive naming strategy, we’ve heard better automotive handles before.

It seems as if the automaker is inclined to agree. Unfortunately, rather than come up with a new set of names, Volkswagen appears to be trademarking a series of alphanumeric titles. We’re not going to pretend that VW has the best-named lineup in the industry but it would have been nice to see them try something new, rather than fall into the same trap nearly every other premium nameplate and EV manufacturer has.  Read More >

By on October 15, 2018

Nio, originally launched as NextEV in 2014, announced that it had delivered 3,268 electric SUVs in the third quarter of 2018. Not only does this beg the question of when Nio swapped from Formula E and electrified hypercars to utility vehicles, but it also makes us wonder how a burgeoning EV firm managed to surpass production goals. Aren’t all zero-emission automobiles that aren’t developed by established automakers supposed to languish in purgatory?

Answering the first question is easy. Nio started deliveries of the ES8 crossover last June, though it still sells the high-performance EP9 for $1.2 million. We doubt that model provided any significant contributions to overall volume in Q3. The trickier bit of this equation is figuring out how the Nio moved all that metal. While 3,200 cars is a paltry some for a mainstream manufacturer, it’s pretty damn good for a company that just started building a volume electric. Even Tesla would have been envious in 2012.  Read More >

By on October 15, 2018

Until recently, anyone wanting a purely electric vehicle capable of driving beyond the confines of a daily commute was stuck shelling out the big bucks. Then Chevrolet introduced the Bolt in 2016, proving that 200+ miles of range wasn’t out of the question. With most EV competitors achieving just over half that, it seemed like it might be awhile before we saw another mainstream nameplate surpass that achievement.

Keen to one-up the Americans (even though the Bolt was technically developed by GM Korea), Hyundai has come forward with the 2019 Kona Electric. This subcompact crossover replaces its standard four-cylinder and fuel tank for an electric motor and 64-kWh battery pack. The end result is a familiar platform with an unfamiliar powertrain that’s capable of 258 all-electric miles, according to the manufacturer. It also happens to be quite enjoyable to drive. The Kona even hums like an an angel at low speeds, something I found wildly entertaining as I wheeled it around Los Angeles.

If I had to be run over by a car, I would love for that noise to be the last thing I heard before the world went dark.  Read More >

By on October 5, 2018

electrify-america-ev-charging-station, Electrify America

Volkswagen’s court-mandated subsidiary, Electrify America, has announced its second investment of $200 million into the nation’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and not a moment too soon. Plug-in car sales in the United States have already surpassed last year’s record of nearly 200,000 deliveries, thanks to Tesla’s rollout of the Model 3, and we’ve still got three months left to go.

Of course, it wouldn’t really matter if EV sales tanked in 2018 because VW is legally obliged to do this. There could have been a single, lonesome plug-in sale this year and Electrify America would still have to spend the same amount — as per its parent company’s agreement with the U.S. government. This time around, the goal is to improve charging infrastructure between cities while not ignoring major metropolitan areas. Cycle 2 will also focus primarily on California for the next 30 months, which is probably for the best. The state accounts for over half the country’s yearly EV sales.  Read More >

By on September 27, 2018

Tesla Model 3, Image: Tesla

When Tesla Motors began production of its Model 3 sedan, CEO Elon Musk announced the firm was entering into a kind of “production hell.” He probably didn’t realize just how accurate a statement that would turn out to be. Already contending with a backlog of orders for the Model 3, Tesla simply couldn’t meet the volume targets it set for itself over the last year. It’s now bending over backwards to finish the quarter strong and prove to investors it is capable of turning a profit.

The automaker frequently referenced production bottlenecks as the culprit for the Model 3’s delay. Panasonic, the sole battery supplier for the vehicle, appears to be taking ownership of the issue. “The bottleneck for Model 3 production has been our batteries,” Yoshio Ito, Executive Vice President of Panasonic, said on Tuesday. “They just want us to make as many as possible.”  Read More >

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