By on August 5, 2019

After a few years, most of us begin to notice our smartphones have developed an inability to hold a charge like they used to. The fix used to be pretty simple, no worse than swapping a couple of AAs into the remote. Order a new battery online, pop off the back of the device, and replace the run-down cell with a fresh one. Unfortunately, this simple act grew more difficult as manufacturers gradually decided to seal off access to your phone’s internals — mimicking the plight facing EV owners whose energy source is losing capacity.

A number of electric vehicles in the United States are about to celebrate their 10th birthday. A bunch of them are Nissan Leafs, the first mainstream BEV made widely available in the U.S. market. At the same time, customers have begun complaining about diminished range, with some asking for a battery refurbishment program like the one enjoyed by customers living in Japan.

So far, the best they’ve received is a confident “maybe” from the manufacturer. It might behoove them to expedite things and pull the trigger. Automakers are running behind in terms of establishing a global solution to aging EV batteries, and they’re risking a lot by not already having one in place.  (Read More…)

By on June 18, 2019

China is currently the largest proponent of electric vehicles on the entire planet. The nation has even incorporated BEVs as a significant part of its complex strategy to overtake the United States the dominant global superpower. However a sudden influx of battery related fires has caused it some trepidation, even though there hasn’t been much evidence to suggest they are actually more prone to catching fire than gas-powered vehicles.

Regardless, the People’s Republic is now demanding that manufacturers conduct routine inspections on electric cars. China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology says all companies must conduct checks on BEVs, focusing on battery waterproofing, battery boxes, charging points, high-voltage wiring harnesses, and even the wear of mechanical components. They will also be required to report on repairs and any incidents that might indicate a problem. According to the ministry’s press release, they have until October to submit their findings.  (Read More…)

By on May 10, 2019

Volkswagen seems to be feeling pretty good about itself today. After announcing pre-orders for the ID.3 hatchback, the first vehicle from VW’s new electric sub-brand, the company reported it was already having issues coping with demand. Within 24 hours, the automaker said it had received more than 10,000 reservations throughout Europe, creating some extra work for its IT department.

“Sometimes, the IT systems are unable to handle the large number of users accessing the system at the same time,” VW said in a release. “This leads to long waiting times and interruptions in the registration process in some markets. Volkswagen is working hard to eliminate the hitches. Nevertheless, more than 10,000 registrations were received throughout Europe during the first 24 hours.”

While it sounds phenomenal, as the company repeatedly noted ID.3 demand is already exceeding expectations,  it’s nowhere near Tesla territory. But the American firm is somewhat of an outlier with an almost miraculous ability to get the public excited about new product and a longer history of EV manufacturing. By comparison, VW is still testing the waters — even though it has already agreed to preform a cannonball by 2025 and sell 1 million connected, zero-emission vehicles every year. (Read More…)

By on May 9, 2019

Image: Nissan

Pick your jaw up off the floor. As automakers struggle to offer electric vehicles deemed “affordable” by the motoring public, those buyers aren’t exactly swamping dealers with requests for EVs.

Even in the Europe Union, members of which punish drivers of fossil fuel-powered vehicles with high taxes, EVs amounted to just 2 percent of new vehicles registered last year. And yet the EU plans to drastically cut down on greenhouse gas emissions in the coming years.

New data from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) shows that the EU’s green dreams will be hard to realize without some sort of massive incentive for the purchase of electric vehicles, as right now those vehicles are only marginally popular in extremely wealthy countries. The EV “people’s car” is still a dream. (Read More…)

By on May 8, 2019

Months before its planned debut at Germany’s International Motor Show, Volkswagen has announced the first model of its ID electric sub-brand — the ID.3 — and wants the world to know it’s already accepting pre-orders. While the U.S. is unlikely to see the model for some time, if ever, the vehicle provides a glimpse into VW’s much-touted electrification strategy.

Volkswagen’s corporate release claims the ID.3’s MSRP starts below 30,000 euros (about $33,500 USD), with a “1st special edition” beginning at 40,000 euros (roughly $44,750 USD). Pretty steep for a people’s car.  (Read More…)

By on April 16, 2019

Over the past several years, the Chinese government embarked on an aggressive electric vehicle push, hoping to mitigate the nation’s severe air pollution, reduce its reliance on oil imports, and foster a high-tech manufacturing sector that could put the rest of the world to shame. The result of these efforts? Hundreds of new EV companies, propped up by Chinese subsidies and investors, with no real future.

While it was known that most of these startups would never make it to the finish line, estimates of their survivability rate has grown increasingly bleak. For a time, it was assumed that most would die out — leaving anywhere between 5 and 10 percent to reach the assembly phase. However, NIO Capital’s Ian Zhu posited that the number was likely closer to 1 percent last August.

China is now pulling back its support, with many believing the industrial bubble is about to pop. And they have the math to back it up.  (Read More…)

By on April 10, 2019

Even with affordable electric vehicles cropping up on the global market, their budgetary nature is relative. While the industry promises that EVs will offer the world an affordable, mechanically simple and green alternative to traditional internal combustion models, they’ve yet to deliver. That’s not to suggest e-cars are failures, just that the technologies involved are still maturing.

Battery prices will continue to decline and eventually governments won’t always need to incentivize EV purchases through tax credits. But we’ve yet to reach the point where it makes just as much financial sense to buy a small EV as it would a gasoline-powered econobox. That could soon change. (Read More…)

By on April 10, 2019

With many concerned that the public’s modest adoption of electric vehicles could backslide without a federal tax incentive, U.S. lawmakers introduced legislation on Wednesday to expand the EV tax credit by 400,000 vehicles per manufacturer.

This would help companies that have already exhausted their quota, like Tesla and General Motors, but even automakers that are nowhere near their current allowance would have something to gain — a wider window in which to sell alternative-energy vehicles with governmental help.

Called the “Driving America Forward Act,” the legislation would grant automakers a $7,000 tax credit for an additional 400,000 vehicles and shorten the depletion/phase-out schedule to nine months. However, the existing deal of 200,000 vehicles per automaker eligible for $7,500 tax credit would also remain intact, resulting in a pretty big allowance for government incentives.  (Read More…)

By on April 9, 2019

mini electric concept

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.  (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 13, 2019

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.    (Read More…)

By on February 14, 2019

alexandria ocasio-cortez

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. (Read More…)

By on February 4, 2019

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.  (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…)

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