Weekly Electromobility News

BMW to Recall Its i3 With Range Extender; Tesla Started a Video Contest After a Fifth-grader Suggested So; EPA is Expected to Re-review of 2022-2025 Fuel Economy Targets


BMW to Recall Its i3 With Range Extender

According to Green Car Reports, starting on April 3rd, BMW will recall all of i3 with range extender that it has sold in the US, totaling 19,130 units from 2014 model to 2017 model. According to NHTSA, the fuel-tank vent line of i3 with range extender may tear and cause leak. During the recall, the vent line will be inspected for wear and replaced as needed. A clip will also be installed to prevent the tear.

Tesla Started a Video Contest After a Fifth-grader Suggested So

According to Fortune, Tesla officially launched a video commercial contest on this past Saturday, soon after 10-year-old Bria Loveday made the proposal in a letter to Elon Musk. The project is named after the young girl as “Project Loveday”.

Now contestants can submit 90-second videos on Tesla website. The content should be related to Tesla’s products or its commitment to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy”. Top 10 winners will be featured on the company’s social media channels. The participant with the highest score will be introduced at a Tesla’s future launch event.

The contest is open until May 9 and the results will be announced around May 22.

EPA is Expected to Re-review of 2022-2025 Fuel Economy Targets

According to Reuters, EPA is expected to release soon that it would re-review of 2022-2025 vehicle fuel economy targets. This is related to the efforts by automakers to urge President Trump to reverse the decision under former President Obama.

Former President Obama and automakers in 2011 agreed to reach a company average fuel efficiency (CAFE) of 54.5 mpg by 2025. Last July, EPA estimated that CAFE would be between 50.8 and 52.6 mpg in 2025. Carmakers are feeling pressure on these targets. In the past 2 years, fuel efficiency increase has been stagnating partly due to low gas price.

Weekly Electromobility News

Hyundai Ioniq Electric is the Most Energy-Efficient Car; Formula E New York Races Start Ticket Sales; BMW, Nissan and EVgo Partner to Extend Coverage of Charging Stations


Hyundai Ioniq Electric is the Most Energy-Efficient Car

According to Green Car Reports, the all-electric 2017 Hyundai Ioniq achieves 136 MPGe on the EPA rating, which makes the model the most energy-efficient car in the US. It passes the 133 MPGe of the 2017 Prius Prime plug-in and the 124 MPGe of the 1st-gen BMW i3.

2017 Ioniq Electric has an electro-range of 124 miles. Moreover, the range will be increased to 200-mile tier by 2018.

The car will be on sale by end of 2017. The hybrid version will also be available in the same timeframe. The plug-in model will arrive in 2018.

Formula E New York Races Start Ticket Sales

Formula E on Wednesday started ticket sales for its first-ever races in New York, which will take place on 7/15 and 7/16 at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. The sales launch featured NY Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz. The races are the Round 9 and Round 10 of the 2016-2017 season.

The tickets on sale are for the Pier 11 Main Grandstand. The price is $75 for adults, $47.5 for students and $37.5 for children aged 5-15. From 3/1, the price will increase. Tickets are available at Formula E website.

BMW, Nissan and EVgo Partner to Extend Coverage of Charging Stations

According to BMW Blog, BMW and Nissan are funding EVgo to install 174 DC fast-charging stations across 32 states and DC. 50 stations are planned for 2017. As a result of this partnership, EVgo will operate a total of 668 DC fast-charging stations, covering 50+ metropolitan areas and 90%+ of BMW and Nissan electric cars.

Weekly Electromobility News

Mini’s First Plug-in Hybrid May Come Out Next Year; Infiniti Became Serious About Building an Electric Car; Tesla is One Step Closer to Join the Uber Club


Mini’s First Plug-in Hybrid May Come Out Next Year

According to Green Car Reports, it seems that Mini is going to launch its first plug-in hybrid Countryman soon. The car will be all-wheel drive, with the motor powering the rear and the engine powering the front. The powertrain will be the same as the one used in BMW 225xe Active Tourer.

The new Countryman can have its debut next month in Los Angeles Auto Show and the plug-in hybrid version may come a bit later than other models.

The plug-in hybrid Countryman will be Mini’s first mass produced electric car. During 2009 and 2011, BWM was testing the electric drive system through a leasing program with Mini E – a modified Mini Cooper with a 35 kWh battery. In addition, all-electric Mini will come out in 2019.

Infiniti Became Serious About Building an Electric Car

According to Bloomberg, Infiniti boss Roland Krueger mentioned that “we are discussing this internally constantly what is the right timing for Infiniti to have such (electric) vehicles”. He also added that the brand could move “very fast” after deciding to go for it, thanks to the EV technologies available at the parent company Nissan as well as the alliance company Renault. Moreover, the EV market in China weighs in significantly on the decision. In fact, China would be “the first market to launch (an EV)”.

Infiniti in 2012 did show a “production intent” concept electric car named LE (stands for Luxury Electric). The concept features things like wireless charging and connectivity.

Tesla is One Step Closer to Join the Uber Club

According to Reuters, Tesla is preparing a ridesharing services program Tesla Network. The news came from a disclaimer from Tesla on new Model S self-driving. The new vehicles will be built with the hardware that can support full automation once the software becomes ready, according to Elon Musk, and Tesla will run a fleet in cities with low levels of car ownership.

Tesla’s interest in ridesharing services was mentioned in Musk’s Master Plan Part Deux back in July. To have such services is further expanding the company’s vertical integration all the way from the battery Gigafactory.

Weekly Electromobility News

BMW Will Add Electric Version to Its X3 Lineup and Mini Brand; Mercedes Unveiled Generation EQ Electric Concept; New Renault ZOE Electric Car Increases Its Range to 250 Miles


BMW Will Add Electric Version to Its X3 Lineup and Mini Brand

According to Bloomberg, customers will see the electric Mini in 2019 and the electric BMW X3 in 2020, mentioned by BMW CEO Harald Krueger. Mr. Krueger also said that the electric cars would be “competitive” in terms of electro-range and price.

Earlier in May, Mr. Krueger commented that the company would launch i NEXT electric flagship model in 2021, during the company’s 96th Annual General Meeting.

Mercedes Unveiled Generation EQ Electric Concept

According to Fortune, Mercedes-Benz showed an electric concept car dubbed Generation EQ during Paris Motor Show. The carmaker indicated that the car was a “close-to-production” concept crossover.

The electro-range is 312 miles and the 0-62 MPH acceleration is less than 5 seconds. The car is loaded with advanced technologies as well – mirrorless feature, no door handles, concealed windshield wipers, touch-based controls and a floating 24-inch display.

Mercedes is creating a new electric brand EQ with the lineup covering vehicles, charging services and home energy solutions. The electric cars will be sharing a “scalable architecture” and cover from compact class to SUVs.

New Renault ZOE Electric Car Increases Its Range to 250 Miles

According to Renault press release, the new electric car ZOE will have a record range of 400 km (250 miles) based on NEDC drive cycle. The real-life range will be around 300 km (186 miles). The upgrade is through the use of a larger ZE 40 battery. MSRP starts at 13,995 euros. Sales start on October 1st.

Renault ZOE has been the top best-selling electric car in Europe. It reaches the sales of 100,000 units in September this year.

Nissan LEAF – also produced by Renault-Nissan Alliance – has an electro-range of 107 miles currently. There is rumor that next-generation LEAF will have a range of 200 miles and come out in 2018.

Weekly Electromobility News

BMW i3 Lease as Low as $159/mo; World’s Largest Fuel Cell Carsharing Coming Online; Chevy Bolt Autonomous Driving Test Expands to Arizona


BMW i3 Lease as Low as $159/mo

According to BMW USA website, the lease offer is $159/mo and $199/mo for all-electric and range extended i3, respectively. The cash due at signing is $3,584 (all-electric) and $3,624 (range extended). The offer runs through Aug 31.

One note for Californians is that the Clean Vehicle Rebate is on a waiting list now. Nevertheless, it is pretty good deal for an electric BMW.

World’s Largest Fuel Cell Carsharing Coming Online

BeeZero carsharing service is ready to roll out in Munich. What is special is that BeeZero uses a fleet of 50 fuel cell cars – Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell SUV. The car can drive 600 kilometers (or 370 miles) on a single hydrogen tank.

Registration is open already and the service will start on Aug 16th. It charges based on time (5.5 euros/hour) and distance (0.29 euros/km).

Chevy Bolt Autonomous Driving Test Expands to Arizona

According to Fortune, Cruise Automation is using Chevy Bolt to test self-driving in Scottsdale of Arizona. The company is also hiring an automated vehicle trainer to help “test and improve the performance of our driverless cars”. Autonomous driving test on Chevy Bolt is ongoing in San Francisco as well.

2017 Chevy Bolt does not have self-driving feature. However, GM and Lyft plan to test self-driving Bolt taxis on road in a year.

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

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.

Things About BMW i3 and More

My wife is a fan of BMW and wants a Bimmer as her next car. I suggest her to get an electric one and she really likes the idea. i3 is out there already. The car got a unique look. However, to us, it looks like anything but a BMW. I am pretty sure this is exactly what BMW hopes for, since i3 represents a new BMW brand – the BMW i.

(i3. Credit: BMW)
(i3. Credit: BMW)
(i3. Credit: BMW)
(i3. Credit: BMW)

The current generation came out in 2013. The all-electric model can go 81 miles on a charge, powdered by a 22 kWh battery and a 168 hp electric motor. With the range extender, the total range can reach 150 miles. The range extender is a small 647 cc engine (also in some BMW motorcycles). But unlike regular cars, the “motorcycle” engine operates as a generator and power the electric motor. With a 1.9 gallon gas tank, the engine can work for 69 miles on top of the electro-range.

i3 is BMW’s first mass-produced electric car, but the company already started to test out its electric technologies on the road as early as 2009. The first round is between 2009 and 2011, on Mini E, which is based on standard Mini Cooper with a 35 kWh lithium ion battery. After the leasing ended, most of them went back to BMW for testing, exhibition etc. Some batteries were repurposed into a 200 kWh storage system for smart grid, at BMW’s office in the San Francisco Bay Area. (Please see our post Second-life Applications Could Help Reduce the Cost of EV Batteries)

The second round of field trial is on BMW ActiveE, a model based on 1 Series. It took place in 2012-2014, through a 2-year lease program. The car has a 32 kWh battery. Again, the cars were collected back by BMW after the program.

Back to i3, it is slightly larger than 1 Series, but not as big as 3 Series. The MSRP is $42,400 for the all-electric model and $46,250 for the range-extended model. i3 is quite popular in the US, ranked at 4th place among electric cars in terms of units sold in 2015. And the car may not be as expensive as it seems like. There was a post online saying in California, the lease could have been as low as surprising $130/month with no money down, thanks to various rebates and incentives. On the other hand, it should also be taken into the equation the possible increase in car insurance as well as charger installation cost though.

Another thing, the 2017 model which should be coming out later this year is reported to receive a boost in electro-range to 120 miles.

(i8. Credit: BMW)
(i8. Credit: BMW)

i8 is the other current member of BMW i. it is a plug-in hybrid supercar with a 0-60 mph of 4.4 seconds. The battery in it is 7.1 kWh. It sells for $140,700 in the US. An i8 Spyder convertible version may also be produced in the future. (Please see our post Summary on Electric Vehicles at CES 2016)

And more are supposed to come into the i family, soon. i5 reportedly is coming close to the decision on body style – between a bigger i3 crossover and a regular-sized sedan. The debut can be later this year and the delivery next year.  It might be a plug-in hybrid with a total power of high 640 hp and electrorange of 78 miles, an article said. Furthermore, an i6 might also be in the pipeline, targeting for 2020.

BMW is apparently not limiting its electrification to only BMW i brand, but extending it to the BMW brand as well. The company is working on adding plug-in hybrid versions to all of its core-brand models.

2016 X5 xDrive40e and 2016 328e should be around already. 2016 330e  and 2016 X1 xDrive30e should come out later in the year. 740e may follow in late 2016. 530e, 540e and M3 can come out in 2017/2018 timeframe.

These plug-in hybrids have 13-25 miles as the electrorange. BMW also plans to double that range as its next-generation plug-in hybrid powertrains roll out around 2020.

(X5 xDrive40e. Credit: BMW)
(X5 xDrive40e. Credit: BMW)