Automakers find themselves in the midst of a widespread electrification effort. However, the slow adoption rate of these vehicles has created some trepidation. Rather than roll out fleets of EVs en masse, most manufacturers have chosen to adopt platforms allowing for multiple powertrain configurations, relegating electrics to entirely new sub-brands or transforming lesser nameplates into EV brands.
Daimler is a good example of this. Mercedes-Benz has its EQ sub-brand, while Smart was rejiggered into a nameplate entirely focused on “electro-mobility.”
BMW Group will likely take a similar route with Mini. The brand’s first fully fledged EV is fast approaching, with the company repeatedly suggesting that it might reposition itself as an electric-focused nameplate. Peter Schwarzenbauer, BMW board member and Papa Bear to Mini, Rolls-Royce, and BMW Motorrad (motorcycles), is the man responsible for overseeing the shift, and has offered up a tentative glimpse into Mini’s future.
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.
Sex, Drugs, and Electric Cars: Report Claims Elon Musk Tried to 'Destroy' Whistleblower, Spied on Union Meetings
A recent report from Bloomberg frames Tesla CEO Elon Musk as quite the jerk in relation to his actions toward a former employee. This worker is the whistleblower who, last year, shared internal documents that suggested the company’s Nevada Gigafactory was blowing through raw materials at an alarming rate. Martin Tripp offered up information showing Tesla wasted $150 million in materials and accused the automaker of pursuing unsafe production procedures during its push to increase Model 3 volume.
Tripp, who tried briefly to maintain his anonymity, said he was concerned that Tesla was shipping cars that were potentially dangerous to consumers. However, Tesla quickly responded by suggesting the claims against it were ridiculous and the amount of waste cited in the report was an overstatement.
“As is expected with any new manufacturing process, we had high scrap rates earlier in the Model 3 ramp. This is something we planned for and is a normal part of a production ramp,” Tesla told Business Insider in 2018.
Following an intense Twitter rant from Elon Musk, the story died down. But the corporate task force charged with finding out who leaked the information would eventually lead to even more ridiculous claims.
If you’re freaked out that the so-called Green New Deal will soon render you carless, or perhaps driving an EV against your will, I am here to tell you: Relax.
If you’re hoping the Green New Deal will save the planet from a climate crisis the federal government itself has predicted is just a hair over a decade away, I am here to tell you: Those backing the deal have their hearts in the right place, but their heads in the clouds. Or perhaps somewhere lower and darker.
Volkswagen has agreed to spend $2 billion improving the United States’ adolescent charging infrastructure over the next 10 years as part its diesel-related agreement with federal regulators. As part of that arrangement, the automaker established Electrify America as the subsidiary responsible for most of the leg work.
While it invests heavily in the nation’s EV charging network and drops a few million here and there to raise ecological awareness and encourage the adoption of zero-emission vehicles, it also has to be careful to remain brand neutral.
None of Electrify America’s programs can be seen as catering to VW, resulted in some interesting bedfellows. Case in point, Electrify America just announced plans to install Tesla Inc battery storage packs at more than 100 charging stations across the U.S.
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.
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.
The Democratic Republic of Congo has declared cobalt a “strategic” substance, nearly tripling the royalty rate miners will have to pay on it. According to a governmental decree, miners will now pay 10 percent in royalties to extract the element.
While we’ve previously warned of the likelihood of a global supply shortage elevating the price of batteries, it seems this will occur only after the Congo taxes the crap out of it. This is the second time cobalt has seen a royalty hike since June, when the region increased the previous 2 percent royalty to 3.5 percent.
Besides the looming prospect of a reversal in the falling price of EV batteries, a spike in the price of cobalt is already ruffling some feathers.
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.
Alternative fuel advocates often suggest that if society could simply get the lead out on solving the infrastructure problem, electric vehicle adoption would reach an all-time high. They’re most likely correct, too. With so much of the world set to gradually ban internal combustion vehicles, EV sales are almost assured to rise. But holdouts abound due to electric vehicles’ laundry list of shortcomings.
Electric cars are often more expensive than their combustion counterparts, offer diminished range, take longer to “refuel,” and are subjected to a charging network that’s less robust than than those associated with petroleum. If the industry is to solve those problems, it’s going to need a lot of money. Around $6 trillion should do the trick.
While electric vehicles get better every year, they remain beholden to battery technology. This results in a few inherent shortcomings – the most noteworthy being limited range and extended downtime while charging. While this has helped throw a wet blanket EV adoption, it isn’t the technology’s only fault. Modern car batteries are also dependent on relatively rare metals that are both morally contentious and prohibitively expensive to procure.
Cobalt, mined almost exclusively in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and often by children, is likely the worst offender. Prices skyrocketed after EV manufacturing went mainstream, and analysts have long predicted a shortage that could severely impact the long-term popularity of zero-emission vehicles. Fortunately, a new way to build batteries may be on the horizon, though this particular application could create as many issues as it solves – since it involves removing an element that’s paramount to a battery’s long-term stability.
British vacuum magnate James Dyson has decided to construct his company’s planned electric vehicles in Singapore, rather than his home country. The choice prompted a mild uproar in the UK, as Dyson was a major proponent of Brexit.
However, he’s also still a businessman. China currently buys more EVs than any other nation on the planet, a fact that’s unlikely to change any time soon, and it’s typically more affordable to manufacture there than risking importation. This is especially true of automobiles. Officially, Dyson has said his business’ “center of gravity” has begun shifting toward Asia, accounting for nearly three quarters of the company’s revenue growth last year.
C’est la vie, as the British say.
China has bit of a gambling problem when it comes to electric car manufacturers, though it should probably be referred to as a “gambling solution.”
The country dumps vast sums of money into hundreds of EV startups, effectively hedging its bets by placing chips on absolutely everyone. With $15 billion already invested, the nation intends to put another $47 billion toward the cause — plus whatever funding investment firms decide to contribute. While the strategy has definitely stimulated the economy, created jobs, and supersized the industry, there’s growing concern that creating a battle royale between startups could blow up in China’s face.
Even if it doesn’t, there’ll still be a bunch of automakers eating each other until only a handful remain. Previous estimates had that number riding around 5 percent of the whole. But NIO Capital, the Chinese investment firm that’s already invested a gratuitous amount of funds into advanced automotive tech, claims the actual number will be far lower — probably around 1 percent.
Nissan unveiled the Leaf Nismo EV this week, with sales commencing in Japan at the end of the month. This is a big surprise for the Western automotive media, as few of us truly believed it was possible. While rumors suggested the existence of such a vehicle, we presumed it would either not happen or manifest as a pathetic appearance package on a vehicle entirely consumed with efficiency.
We were wrong. Nissan actually retuned the Leaf’s computer for improved acceleration and gave it a bunch of meaningful performance upgrades.
We’ve mentioned Chinese startups working on electric vehicles in the past. You’ve got the American-based (but Chinese-owned) Faraday Future that couldn’t pay its bills, its big brother LeSEE (which is facing similar troubles), the performance-focused NIO, the luxury-minded Byton, the German-named Weltmeister, and a handful of others making ink every so often.
While EV startups from other countries (Tesla, Rimac, etc.) garner their own headlines, it’s more common to see a Chinese startup angling for media exposure as of late.
Of course, established automakers are busy setting up their own electric divisions to fulfill the nearly absent Western consumer demand for EVs. They’re gambling on a future where electrification replaces internal combustion, but nobody is betting more on “green” than China. As of today, it’s estimated that the country has 487 electric car companies, and the nation feels this still isn’t enough. Holy shit.
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- Thehyundaigarage Yes, Canadian market vehicles have had immobilizers mandated by transport Canada since around 2001.In the US market, some key start Toyotas and Nissans still don’t have immobilizers. The US doesn’t mandate immobilizers or daytime running lights, but they mandate TPMS, yet canada mandates both, but couldn’t care less about TPMS. You’d think we’d have universal standards in North America.
- Alan I think this vehicle is aimed more at the dedicated offroad traveller. It costs around the same a 300 Series, so its quite an investment. It would be a waste to own as a daily driver, unless you want to be seen in a 'wank' vehicle like many Wrangler and Can Hardly Davidson types.The diesel would be the choice for off roading as its quite torquey down low and would return far superior mileage than a petrol vehicle.I would think this is more reliable than the Land Rovers, BMW make good engines. https://www.drive.com.au/reviews/2023-ineos-grenadier-review/
- Lorenzo I'll go with Stellantis. Last into the folly, first to bail out. Their European business won't fly with the German market being squeezed on electricity. Anybody can see the loss of Russian natural gas and closing their nuclear plants means high cost electricity. They're now buying electrons from French nuclear plants, as are the British after shutting down their coal industry. As for the American market, the American grid isn't in great shape either, but the US has shale oil and natural gas. Stellantis has profits from ICE Ram trucks and Jeeps, and they won't give that up.
- Inside Looking Out Chinese will take over EV market and Tesla will become the richest and largest car company in the world. Forget about Japanese.
- Joe These guys are asking way to much.. 40% raise, Medical for retired workers, 4 day work week. - Go work a regular job like as an accountant, or Insurance agent and see what you get when you retire! Why do I have to put money in a 401K and these guys get a pension and medical for life. Cars are already to expensive! However at the same time GM is bragging that they are going to be making billions on subscription services in the coming years. If we could all stop being so greedy the world would be a better place