Weekly Electromobility News

Apple Looking into EV Charging Technologies Reportedly; Carmakers Feeling Pressure for Meeting Future Fuel Efficiency Goal; 2017 Ford Fusion Energi Set PHEV Range Record at 610 Miles; Study Suggests Low Level of EV Awareness Among Consumers

Apple Looking into EV Charging Technologies Reportedly

According to Reuters, Apple is interested in charging stations for electric cars. Reuters’ source indicated that Apple is reaching out to companies in this field to collect knowledge. There are also new hires at Apple, who specialize in such charging technologies, based on a LinkedIn review by Reuters. Apple is building an electric vehicle reportedly, with Titan as the project name and a target ship date of 2019. Hundreds of engineers were said to work on the project.

Carmakers Feeling Pressure for Meeting Future Fuel Efficiency Goal

According to Wall Street Journal, carmakers are anxiously waiting for the release of a mileage report from US regulators in June. The report will be followed by the re-evaluation on future targets regarding car companies’ fleet fuel efficiency. Current version is to meet 54.5 MPG by 2025.

The improvement on the MPG of new vehicles sold has been stagnating for the past 2 years or so, at about 25 MPG, partly thanks to cheap gas price. Meeting MPG regulations is one factor to carmakers to build and sell expensive electric cars.

On the other hand, EPA data reveals that car manufactures exceeded 2014 targets and 25% of 2015 models are good for 2018 targets already.

2017 Ford Fusion Energi Set PHEV Range Record at 610 Miles

According to Fortune, the 2017 Ford Fusion Energi PHEV has an EPA estimated range of 610 miles combined. The car can run on battery for 21 miles, then on hybrid mode for 589 miles. In comparison, the 2017 GM Chevrolet Volt PHEV has a total combined range of 420 miles.

Fusion Energi is ranked at the 5th best-selling PHEV in the US in 2015 by howmuch.net.

Study Suggests Low Level of EV Awareness Among Consumers

According to Reuters, a recent poll conducted by Harris, of 1,052 US samples showed that 67% did not “know anyone who owned an electric car, a plug-in hybrid or a hybrid”.

Moreover, around 76% of respondents acknowledged that they were “not at all sure” about the range of a plug-in hybrid. The average range from the poll was 260.8 miles, much less than the actual numbers. As mentioned above, Chevrolet Volt can drive 420 miles and Fusion Energi can drive 610 miles.

This research was commissioned by Ford.

Weekly Electromobility News

Tesla Model 3 Launch to Receive Funding from New Stock Sell

Reuters reported that Tesla plans to raise up to $1.7 billion by new stock sell, to prepare its Model 3 launch. The company in a prospectus said that up to 8.2 million common stock shares will be sold at an expected price of $204.66 per share.

Tesla plans to advance its 500,000-unit production goal to 2018, which is 2 years earlier than the original plan. This adjustment was made in response to the encouraging 373,000 pre-orders of the Model 3. The new fund will mainly be spent on production expansion and supplies.

The 2018 goal is viewed by analysis and suppliers too aggressive. Tesla hired Peter Hochholdinger as VP of vehicle production last week. For Q1 this year, it posted a non-GAAP net loss of $0.57 per share and a GAAP net loss of $2.13 per share.

BMW Sued over i3 Allegedly Defected Range Extension Feature

MLG Automotive Law in a press release stated that it filed a lawsuit case against BMW North America on May 17th. The lawsuit is over alleged defects in BMW i3 with Range Extender. It is a national class action case.

As mentioned in the press release, allegedly in practice, when the range-extending engine operates, the car will speed down as the battery runs to low state of charge, if under significant load conditions like “going up a hill, or loaded with passengers”.

Similar issue was seen online more than one and a half years ago. BMW was reported to have an enhancement through software upgrade and other measures. There also is a recall for mount screw in the US.

Formula E Plans to Race in New York City Next Year

According to CNN, Formula E is trying to have NYC host one round of the championship next year. The CEO Alejandro Agag is “very optimistic” about its happening.

Formula E Championship uses open-wheel electric cars to race, kind of the electric car version of Formula 1. With a 28 kWh battery pack, the cars can output as high as 270 HP. The top speed can reach 140 mph.

The 2015-2016 season is the series’ second season. There are 9 teams and 19 racers to compete.

Weekly Electromobility News

Total S.A. and Saft Groupe S.A. Announce Proposed Acquisition

Oil giant Total S.A. on May 9th filed an acquisition offer on all of Saft Groupe S.A. shares with French Financial Markets Authority, upon mutual agreement between the two companies.

Saft is a well-known battery maker. It is a major supplier of nickel-based and primary lithium batteries for industrial use. Its products include lithium-ion batteries and packs as well.

The proposal values Saft at €950 million (or $1.07 billion), which reflects a 38.3% premium over Saft’s recent share price.

This transaction further represents Total’s plan to invest on renewable energy technologies. In 2011, Total acquired solar panel manufacturer SunPower.


BMW to Launch i NEXT Flagship Vehicle in 2021

The Verge reported that BMW will expand i product lineup and launch i NEXT vehicle in 2021. The news came from comments made by BMW chairman Harald Kruger during the company’s 96th Annual General Meeting.

New i NEXT will be the flagship of BMW, an “innovation driver” setting standards for electromobility technologies in the future. The car will be the platform for new autonomous driving, connectivity, lightweight and interior look.

Moreover, new-generation i3 with 50% more capacity (94 Ah cell) and up to 200 km range will be available in a few weeks. i8 Roadster is confirmed for 2018 launch.


Tesla is Still Finalizing Model 3 Design

Reuters reported on May 10th that Tesla still has not finalized its Model 3 design yet. Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk mentioned during a conference call that the design freeze would need another 6-9 weeks.

Model 3 delivery is expected to start in late 2017 and the company’s production capacity will ramp up to 500,000 units per year by 2018.

There have been some personnel changes recently. Former Audi veteran Peter Hochholdinger joined Tesla as VP of vehicle production, following the departure of Tesla’s previous VPs for production and manufacturing.

Weekly Electromobility News

Total Electric Car Sales Exceed 200,000 in California

California Plug-in Electric Vehicle Collaborative (PEVC) data revealed that in April, cumulative sales (since 2011) of cars with a plug have reached 202,744, of which 6,296 units were added in the month. Nation-wide, April sales are 12,109 units and total sales since 2011 have become 440,924 units.

Based on data from EV Obsession, Models exceeding 1,000 sales in April in the US include: Tesla Model S all-electric (2,000 units); Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid (1,865 units), Nissan LEAF all-electric (1,246 units), Ford Fusion Energy plug-in hybrid (1,238 units) and Tesla Model X all-electric (1,200 units).

Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid Joins 100,000-sales Club for Electric Cars

According to Hybrid Cars, Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid has sold 101,900 units through March this year. Nissan LEAF, Tesla Model S and Chevrolet Volt (including Opel/Vauxhall Ampera and Holden Volt) have achieved the same milestone already – 218,000, 120,000 and 110,000 respectively.

The car has a 12-kWh battery pack and can run 32.5 miles on electric. US sales will start later this year.

Tesla Motors Releases Q1/2016 Shareholder Letter

The update released on May 4th indicated that the company plans to expand to 500,000 units per year in 2018, two years ahead of the previous schedule. Q1 non-GAAP net loss was $0.57 per share and Q1 GAAP net loss was $2.13 per share.

The new production expansion goal is doubted by Wall Street. AutoNation Chairman and CEO Mike Jackson calls it “mission impossible”.

Moreover, Reuters reported that Greg Reichow – Tesla’s vice president of production, and Josh Ensign – Tesla’s vice president of manufacturing, have left Tesla.

Fuel Cell Vehicles Forecast to See Annual Production of over 70,000 Units by 2027

IHS Automotive released the report forecasting over 70,000 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles produced annually by 2027. Between now and then, 17 models powered by a fuel cell will be made available. OEMs in Japan and Korea are the major players in the market for now. European carmakers will take the lead by 2021. 70,000 will represent lower than 0.1% of total car sales by then.

Earlier, The Asahi Shimbun reported that Toyota is working on a mass-production version of its Mirai fuel cell car with less cost, around $50,000-$55,000 before government incentives. The company targets 2019 to start delivery.

Adoption of Electric Cars Decreases the Demand for Platinum

Bloomberg analyzed that as the car industry is switching to the electric, world demand for platinum will decline significantly. In 2015, about 42% of the metal went into cars, mainly as a catalyst to control emissions. Electric cars are eliminating tailpipes, thus the need for platinum.

Interestingly, platinum may see a new opportunity with fuel cell vehicles. In current fuel cell technologies, platinum is a key component to use hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity.