Weekly Electromobility News

Telsa Gigafactory Received Grand Opening; Chevy Volt Reaches 100,000-Unit Mark in the US; Apple’s EV Project Reported to Have a New Head; Porsche is Hiring 1,400 People for Mission E


Telsa Gigafactory Received Grand Opening

Fortune reported that Tesla held the invite-only grand opening of Gigafactory on last Friday.

The factory at complete will be the largest in terms of footprint and second largest to Boeing in terms of volume. The facility itself is developed by Tesla as a giant machine, which undergoes extensive engineering to maximum density and efficiency.

Currently, 14% of the Gigafactory is operational. By 2018, the production will be able to ramp up to 50 GWh for battery packs. The full capacity will be 150 GWh.

Chevy Volt Reaches 100,000-Unit Mark in the US

According to Hybrid Cars, Chevy Volt most like has crossed this milestone of 100 thousand sales in the US in the past weekend.

Up to June, the accumulative sales of the car were 98,558 and the monthly sales were 2,000 plus/minus 100 for the past few months.

Chevy Volt is the top selling plug-in electric car in the US. Its global sales passed the 100,000-unit mark last October.

Apple’s EV Project Reported to Have a New Head

According to WSJ, Apple has assigned its senior executive Bob Mansfield to head the secret EV project dubbed Titan.

Mr. Mansfield is a highly regarded leader at Apple, having a record of bringing successful product to market including MacBook Air, iMac, iPad and Apple Watch.

The project is reported to have hundreds of engineers working on it. The target ship date is reported to have pushed to 2021 from the original 2019.

Porsche is Hiring 1,400 People for Mission E

According to Reuters, Porsche, in development of its first electric car Mission E, is needing 1,400 more people. 900 of them will be production staff, 300 will be salaried workers and 200 will be engineers.

The project has a budget of 1 billion euros and targets 2019 as ship date.

Weekly Electromobility News

California EV Rebate Funding is Exhausted for Now; Draft Technical Assessment Report of Fuel Economy Targets Released by US Regulators; Battery Raw Material Lithium Carbonate Sees Price Decrease in China

 California EV Rebate Funding is Exhausted for Now

According to the state’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Project, the funding for the rebate program is used up for now. Applications for the rebate after June 10th are held on a waitlist.

California lawmakers are discussing the FY 2016-17 budget, from which the funding for the rebate program is supposed to come.

The state rebate was $2,500 for pure electric car and $1,500 for plug-in hybrid.

Draft Technical Assessment Report of Fuel Economy Targets Released by US Regulators

The draft report was released jointly by EPA, DOT and CARB. It kicked off a midterm evaluation of fuel economy standards for 2022-2025. The final determination of the midterm evaluation on whether the standards are still appropriate will be made by April 2018. The current standard for 2025 is 54.4 MPG for company average fuel efficiency.

The highlights of the draft report include: 1. Automakers are innovating in a time of record sales and fuel economy levels; 2. Our new analysis shows that the standards can be met largely with more efficient gasoline powered cars – we continue to project that only modest penetration of hybrids and only low levels of electric vehicles are needed to meet the standards; 3. The National Program preserves consumer choice, even as it protects the environment and reduces fuel consumption.

On the other hand, carmakers are feeling pressure for meeting future standards. MPG improvement has been stagnating for the past 2 years or so, partly due to cheap gas price.

Battery Raw Material Lithium Carbonate Sees Price Decrease in China

Hot EV sales in China were driving the price of lithium carbonate high. It was more than doubled in 2015 and saw another 50% increase in March, to $27.8 thousand/ton (or 180 thousand yuan/ton).

According to China Times, the price of lithium carbonate has dropped by 22% in the second quarter of this year. This result is related to the slowdown of EV battery production – 40% less than the first quarter.

China has sold 170,000 plug-in EVs in the first 6 months of this year, or a 127% increase as compared with the same period of last year. On the other hand, the sales are far behind the goal of 700,000 for the year. The June sales are less than half of the December sales last year.

Six Recent Tesla Car Accidents Reportedly Linked to Autopilot (to Different Degrees)

Tesla’s autonomous driving feature Autopilot has received much attention recently. Six accidents of Tesla cars were reported that to different degrees were in the context of Autopilot.

Accident #1

On April 26, a Model S rear-ended another vehicle on I-5 northbound from LA. The driver told Ars Technica: “All of a sudden the car ahead of me came to a halt. There was a decent amount of space so I figured that the car was going to brake as it is supposed to and didn’t brake immediately. When it became apparent that the car was not slowing down at all, I slammed on the brakes but was probably still going 40 when I collided with the other car.”

Tesla responded that before the accident, the vehicle logs data recorded the deactivation of autopilot, traffic aware cruise control and automatic emergency braking system due to the driver’s use of brake pedal.

Accident #2

On April 29, a Model S started on itself and crashed the windshield into a trailer parked in front, in Lindon of Utah. The driver claimed that he parked the Tesla car, chatted with a person for 20 seconds to 1 minute, went away for 5 minutes and found the car under the trailer after came back.

Tesla responded that the vehicle logs “show that the incident occurred as a result of the driver not being properly attentive to the vehicle’s surroundings while using the Summon feature or maintaining responsibility for safely controlling the vehicle at all times.” The Summon feature enables the car to park by itself after a few actions to activate. The logs recorded that the Summon feature started 3 seconds after the drive got out of the car and closed the car door.

Accident #3

On May 7, a Model S crashed into a tractor trailer on Highway 27 Alternate near Williston, Florida. The trailer was making a left turn when the Tesla car on Autopilot mode from the opposite direction drove under the trailer. The driver and only occupant of the Model S was killed.

A Tesla blog wrote “Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied. The high ride height of the trailer combined with its positioning across the road and the extremely rare circumstances of the impact caused the Model S to pass under the trailer, with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the Model S.”

Accident #4

On May 19, a Model S hit a stopped van in left lane of a busy road in Europe. The driver posted a video of the accident, showing that the car was on Traffic-Aware Cruise Control of Autopilot which was locking on a car driving in front. While the car in front was steering right to avoid a stopped van, the Model S did not seem to react accordingly and hit the van.

The driver claimed that Tesla Europe stated that “all systems worked as expected.”.

Accident #5

On July 1, a Model X crashed on Pennsylvania Turnpike near Bedford exit in Pennsylvania. The Detroit Free Press reported that the car “hit a guard rail off the right side of the roadway. It then crossed over the eastbound lanes and hit the concrete median. After that, the Tesla Model X rolled onto its roof and came to rest in the middle eastbound lane. ”

The two people in the car were injured in the accident. The driver told police that the car was in Autopilot. However, Tesla released a statement saying “We have since attempted to contact the customer three times by phone without success. Based on the information we have now, we have no reason to believe that Autopilot had anything to do with this accident.”

Accident #6

On July 9, a Model X on Autopilot bumped into a guard rail near Whitehall of Montana. Fortune reported that the car “failed to detect debris, a wooden stake, in the road” according to online comment by a person who claimed to be the driver’s friend.

Tesla’s statement said that “The data suggests that the driver’s hands were not on the steering wheel, as no force was detected on the steering wheel for over 2 minutes after auto-steer was engaged (even a very small amount of force, such as one hand resting on the wheel, will be detected). As road conditions became increasingly uncertain, the vehicle again alerted the driver to put his hands on the wheel. He did not do so and shortly thereafter the vehicle collided with a post on the edge of the roadway.”

Weekly Electromobility News

BMW Electrified Car Sales Reached 4% in Western Europe in June; Plug-in EV Sales in June Doubled in China; Samsung Interested in Buying BYD Stock; Future Mobility Aims to Introduce its Automated Electric Car by 2020


BMW Electrified Car Sales Reached 4% in Western Europe in June

BMW released sales result for June. The company sees increasing demand for its i and iPerformance cars. In Western Europe, 4% of its sales went to electrified cars. In particular, the percentage was 14.9% in the Netherlands and 13.2% in Scandinavia.

Moreover, as the new i3 94A is near launch this month, the number of pre-orders in Europe is reaching 5,000.

Plug-in EV Sales in June Doubled in China

According to Automotive News China, almost 44,000 plug-in EVs were sold in June in China, a 107% increase from one year ago. Among them, about 34,000 units were pure electric cars and the other 10,000 were plug-in hybrids.

For the first 6 months of this year, China has seen a 127% increase in plug-in EV sales, to 170,000 units.

Last year, 331,092 plug-in EVs were sold in China and 114,022 were sold in the US.

Samsung Interested in Buying BYD Stock

According to Bloomberg, BYD disclosed that Samsung is in talk with the company regarding buying its stock. The size of this transaction is not disclosed at the moment.

Samsung sees BYD’s growth potential and plans on strategic partnership on EV technologies. This potential move is believed to benefit Samsung’s business in auto semiconductor.

Samsung SDI plant in China did not yet manage to be on a list of battery suppliers with which the electric cars are qualified for government subsidies. The result is affecting Samsung’s EV battery sales there. For example, the automaker JAC is reported to slow down the production of its iEV6s electric car, which uses Samsung battery.

BYD is already on the list of qualified battery suppliers. Warren Bufffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. owns 10% of BYD.

Future Mobility Aims to Introduce its Automated Electric Car by 2020

According to Reuters, CEO Carsten Breitfeld said the Chinese startup was targeting year 2020 for its first electric car with fully self-driving feature. The car will be a mass-produced model, coming from a platform developed for multiple models.

The company is backed by Tencent and Hon Hai and was closing the Series A round. Breitfeld, before joining Future Mobility, was leading the BMW i division. The core team of the division also came with him to work for the startup.

Weekly Electromobility News

International Energy Agency Publishes Global EV Outlook 2016; Fortune and Tesla Disagree on the Materiality Topic; China Creates a National Innovation Center for EV Battery

International Energy Agency Publishes Global EV Outlook 2016

The report is available on International Energy Agency (IEA) website. It points out that 1 million electric cars were passed in 2015 (1.26 million to close the year). 1% of market share for EVs has been reached in 7 countries, including Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, France, China and the UK.

Moreover, the battery cost has decreased by a factor of four since 2008. Ranges of over 300 km are expected from EV makers, which are believed to be encouraging for EV development.

The Electric Vehicle Initiative has a goal (20 by 20) of reaching 20 million EVs globally by 2020. The Paris Declaration targets for 100 million EVs globally by 2030.

Fortune and Tesla Disagree on the Materiality Topic

On May 7, a fatal Model S crash happened while the car’s Autopilot was on. On May 16, Tesla told the government about the accident, according to Reuters. On May 18, Tesla started a new stock sell.

Fortune published an article saying that the accident “was a material event” and followed it up with another article titled “Tesla Said an Autopilot Crash Would Be ‘Material’ Before Elon Musk Said It Wasn’t”.

Tesla’s response to Fortune was later put online by Fortune. In the response, Tesla said “Fortune’s article, “Tesla Said an Autopilot Crash Would Be ‘Material’ Before Elon Musk Said It Wasn’t,” is fundamentally incorrect.”

China Creates a National Innovation Center for EV Battery

According to People.cn, a national innovation center for EV battery was established in Beijing. The center is the first of manufacturing innovation centers initiated by the “Made in China 2025” project.

The center will be operated in “company+partnership” mode, integrating resources from government, auto industry and academy. 3 billion yuan (or $448 million) will be used for R&D between now and 2020. The center plans to improve EV battery performance and catch up with Japan and Korea by 2020.

Weekly Electromobility News

NHTSA Opens Evaluation into Autopilot Performance in a Fatal Tesla Model S Crash; VW Likely To Build One of the First Battery Plants in China; NextEV Set to Unveil Its Electric Supercar This Year

NHTSA Opens Evaluation into Autopilot Performance in a Fatal Tesla Model S Crash

According to Tesla Blog, NHTSA is looking into the Autopilot performance in a fatal Model S crash in Florida on May 7, 2016. The regulators are determining if “the system worked according to expectations”.

With Autopilot on, the Model S crashed into a tractor trailer which was making a left turn. The car drove under the trailer and the roof was sheared off. The crash killed the driver and only occupant Joshua Brown of the Model S.

VW Likely To Build One of the First Battery Plants in China

According to Automotive News Europe, a person familiar with VW management said “China is likely one of the first” that VW is building a battery plant in.

VW unveiled 2025 group strategy 2 weeks ago, with an emphasis on vehicle electrification. 150 GWh of batteries are projected to be needed, which is a huge procurement challenge for the carmaker. The source indicated that VW was planning roughly 10 plants with a total investment of 20 billion euros.


NextEV Set to Unveil Its Electric Supercar This Year

According to Autocar, the debut of NextEV’s first electric supercar will be “somewhere in Europe” this year, a comment made by the startup’s president Martin Leach, former president of Ford Europe.

The supercar is in advanced development and has managed to produce more than 1 MW, or 1341 HP. It is targeting the performance comparable to McLaren P1 and LaFerrari. The price tag will be around 1 million euros.

NextEV currently sponsors a Formula E team.