Weekly Electromobility News

Tesla Starts to Sell the Longest-range Electric Car; California PG&E Turns to its Customers to Fund EV Projects; Faraday Future FF91 Would Cost “Less Than $300,000”


Tesla Starts to Sell the Longest-range Electric Car

According to Electrek, Tesla has made available its Model S 100D version. It is loaded with a 100 kWh battery pack and has an EPA rating of 335 miles – a new world-record of electro-range for a mass produced pure electric car.

The MSRP starts at $95,000, which is only $3,000 higher than the price for the 90D version but $35,000 lower than P100D. Also available for Tesla is the Model X 100D, with a range of 295 miles.

New customers will not be able to enjoy free Supercharge access though.

California PG&E Turns to its Customers to Fund EV Projects

According to The Mercury News, California utility company PG&E announced a plan to facility the use of EVs in the state, and its customers would pay on average 28 cents more per month to help fund the $253 million proposal.

PG&E’s plan is intended to support the conversion of large- and medium-sized vehicles to EV and to expand fast-charging stations. The rate increase would be over a five-year period and PG&E thinks that the long-term benefits will offset it for the customers.

On its EV efforts, the utility is installing 7,500 chargers in the residential area and offering a $500 clean fuel rebate.

Faraday Future FF91 Would Cost “Less Than $300,000”

According to Electrek, Faraday Future FF91, which debuted a few weeks ago at CES 2017, would cost “less than 2 million yuan”, said Jia Yueting during an interview. That amount is equal to $290,000. Jia Yueting’s LeEco is the financial backer of Faraday Future.

FF91 received over 64,000 within 36 hours of its debut.


Weekly Electromobility News

California PG&E Offers a $500 Clean Fuel Rebate for Electric Cars; ChargePoint to Introduce 400kW DC Fast Chargers; VW Electric Concept Van I.D. Buzz Seen at 2017 Detroit Auto Show


California PG&E Offers a $500 Clean Fuel Rebate for Electric Cars

California Utility Company PG&E just started to offer a $500 Clean Fuel Rebate to its customers who drive an electric car. The rebate results from the State’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard. PG&E gets credits from the state as its customers charge EVs using electricity at home and the company passes on the money to the customers through this new rebate program.

To apply, simply submit the PG&E account number and the EV’s registration card through the website.

PG&E recently also got the approval on spending $130 million to install 7,500 chargers in the residential areas it covers.

ChargePoint to Introduce 400kW DC Fast Chargers

According to Charged EVs, ChargePoint will roll out 400kW chargers in July this year. The system is called Express Plus. It will allow to charge the 200-mile Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3 at maximum power rates.

ChargePoint also launched Express 250 fast charging system, which is capable of generating 90 miles of electro-range in half an hour.

VW Electric Concept Van I.D. Buzz Seen at 2017 Detroit Auto Show

According to Car Magazine, VW exhibited a new electric concept van named I.D. Buzz at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show. The all-electric van has eight seats and goes for 270 miles on one charge. It is capable of fully autonomous driving, in which the driver’s seat can turn and face back and the futuristic steering wheel can go into the dashboard.

I.D. Buzz is built on VW’s MEB electric car platform. A compact hatchback electric car with the platform will go on sale in 2020. VW expects sales of one million of electric cars per year by 2025. Fully autonomous driving is also “conceivable starting in 2025”.

Weekly Electromobility News

California Clean Vehicle Rebate Has Changed Applicant Income Requirements; 2016 FIAT 500e Lease Offer at $49/mo; Model S “Exploded” After Fatal Crash in Indianapolis


California Clean Vehicle Rebate Has Changed Applicant Income Requirements

According to California Clean Vehicle Rebate Project, three changes have been made – 1) new higher-income caps, 2) increased rebate levels for low-income consumers and 3) plug-in hybrids’ new range requirements. These changes apply to vehicles purchased/leased on or after Nov. 1.

For the higher-income caps, new requirements are $150 thousand for single filers, $204 thousand for head-of-household filers and $300 thousand for joint filers. These caps become more stringent by $100-200 thousand than before. The consumers above the caps are not eligible for the rebates, with the exception of fuel-cell vehicles.

For low-income consumers, the new rebate levels are an extra $2,000 on top of the standard, which reflect a $500 increase from before Nov. 1.

For plug-in hybrids, now they need to have an electro-range of at least 20 miles to be eligible for the rebates. Therefore, cars like BMW X5 xDrive40e and BMW i8 would not be eligible.

The rebates are limited to two purchases/leases per household.

2016 FIAT 500e Lease Offer at $49/mo

According to Santa Monica FIAT, 2016 FIAT 500e lease specials are as low as $49/mo plus tax for 36 months. The down payment is not specified on the website. The MSRP is $32,795. The deal will run until Nov. 15.

The electric car has a highway rating of 108 MPGe and an electro-range of 87 miles per charge. It is loaded with a 24 kWh battery. The car is eligible for the California Clean Vehicle Rebate of up to $4,500 as well as the HOV lane access.

Model S “Exploded” After Fatal Crash in Indianapolis

According to WTHR, the accident happened around 1am on Thursday, which caused the two occupants their lives. The Model S was “traveling at a high rate of speed” and “slammed into a tree”.

An eyewitness’s video recorded large flames and then an explosion. “It hit that tree and it bounced around and all of a sudden it just exploded,” described Al Finnell. The batteries onboard made firefighting different. Kevin Jones from the Indianapolis Fire Department described that some batteries fire off “almost like projectiles”. The firefighters have been trained to deal with crashes involving EVs. Tesla also posted firefighting instructions on how to avoid injuries to the rescuers.

Weekly Electromobility News

California Resumes EV Rebates and Green HOV Decal Issuance; smart Goes Electric for all of its 2017 Models; China New Energy Car Market Growth Stays Strong


California Resumes EV Rebates and Green HOV Decal Issuance

According to Clean Vehicle Rebate Project, $133 million was approved by the state on Sept 14, to continue funding the rebate project. The fund will be used to cover applications on the waiting list since June 11 as well as new applications in FY2016-17. The qualified applications are expected to start receiving rebate checks in December.

Moreover, according to California DMV, the state removed the 85,000 limit on Green HOV Decals on Sept 13. The green decals allow plug-in hybrids to use carpool lane during rush hours. The applicants on the waiting list since December 2015 and new applicants will receive the decal. The application fee was raised to $22 from the previous $8. The green decals expire on Jan 1, 2019.

smart Goes Electric for all of its 2017 Models

According to TechCrunch, Daimler’s smart will make all-electric an option to all of its 2017 lineup, including fortwo, fortwo Cabrio and forfour.

These electric cars can run 99 miles (EP rating) on a single charge. fortwo Electric Drive will arrive in spring 2017 and the fortwo Cabrio will be available later in the summer. smart will introduce its EVs at Paris Motor Show in October.

Current, 2016 smart fortwo Electric Coupe is available. MSRP starts at $19,990 before incentives. Leasing is as low as $139/month.

China New Energy Car Market Growth Stays Strong

According to Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China (MIIT) , the new energy car August sales in China are 38 thousand units, an increase of 92.2% from last year. Specifically, all-electric car sales are 28 thousand units (106.4% increase) and plug-in hybrid sales are 10 thousand units (61.0% increase).

Up to August this year, total new energy car sales in China are 245 thousand units, an increase of 115.6% from last year.

In addition, from January to August, the total car sales in China are 16.7 million units.

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.

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.

Debate on Issuing More Green HOV Lane Decals in California

Before Dec. 18, 2015, when people bought plug-in hybrid electric cars (PHEV) in California, they could apply for a green HOV lane decal and enjoy driving in the carpool lane without having to drag another person on board. Now this perk is somehow in jeopardy for new PHEV buyers, as all 85,000 decals are gone. DMV is still accepting new applications, but at the moment it is unclear if more decals will be issued or not.

(Morning commute in California. The left lane is the HOV lane.)
(Morning commute in California. The left lane is the HOV lane.)

The increase in the green decal limit has happened 3 times in the past. Originally, in Jan. 1, 2011, 40,000 decals were authorized. Three and half years later on Jul. 1, 2014, the limit was increased by 15,000, which brought the total to 55,000. Half a year later on Jan. 1, 2015, another 15,000 were added. And again after half a year, on Jul. 1, 2015, the most recent 15,000 were added to reach a new total of 85,000.  These decals are good until Jan. 1, 2019.

The question is: Should California consider issuing more green decals?

On one hand, the EV sales have not seen a sign of taking off yet. According to the data published by Electric Drive Transportation Association, 114,022 PHEV and EV were sold nationwide in 2015, down from 118,773 in 2014, although all vehicle sales rose by 5.8% in 2015.  Another piece of evidence is that it took longer time to use up the green decals in 2015 than in 2014.

Although all-electric cars have unlimited white decals to use the carpool lane, the range anxiety makes PHEV an appealing option to many green car lovers. And carpool lane access definitely is a plus in decision making. President Obama’s 1 million EV goal by 2015 was only 40% accomplished, but we can make effort on the 1.5 million goal for California by 2025.

In year 2007 when California decided to cap the yellow HOV decals for regular hybrid cars at 85,000, 91,417 of them were sold in the state. In comparison, the PHEV sales in 2015 in California can be just one third of that number. Plus, oil prices dropped to 11 year low recently and may stay low for a decade as predicted by Vitol CEO Ian Taylor.  In this regard, there is still a need to promote PHEV sales and green decals for sure will be helpful.

On the other hand, the pressure on HOV lane capacity needs to take into consideration. When the 85,000 yellow HOV decals were terminated on Jul. 1, 2011, there were probably less than 4,000 all-electric cars on the road. Now, besides 85,000 PHEVs, there should be a similar number of EVs which can use the carpool lane as well.

Another option would be to issue new green decals only to PHEVs capable of e.g. 60 miles or plus on electric. For one thing, these PHEVs will run on battery mode for most of the time (hopefully), so they are closer to zero-emission than PHEVs with a small battery. For another thing, PHEV technologies are becoming mature. On this note, BMW is adding PHEV versions to all of its core-brand models in the next few years (Please see our article Things About BMW i3 and More) and Mercedes-Benz will roll out 10 PHEV models by 2017.

The previous increases of the limit occurred in roughly 2 months after the limit was reached. The 40,000 limit was reached on May 9, 2014 and the increase followed on Jul. 1, 2014. The 55,000 limit was reached on Sept. 23, 2014 and an increase was made on Jan. 1, 2015. The 70,000 limit was reached around mid-May, 2015, which was followed by an increase on Jul. 1, 2015.

So it would be too much of a rush to have passed a bill on Jan. 1, 2016, considering the limit of 85,000 had not been reached until Dec. 18, 2015. Last time, AB 95 was approved on Jun. 15 by the Legislature and Governor Jerry Brown signed it into effect on Jul. 1. However, if it is urgent enough, a new bill can take effect right after authorization.

What You Can Get From Government for Getting an Electric Car in California – Part 2

Government is trying to promote electric cars. In Part 1, we looked at the Federal Tax Credit. In this article, things like the Clean Vehicle Rebate incentive, the HOV Lane Access incentive, charging infrastructure goal and news on out-of-state buyers will be covered.

Clean Vehicle Rebate. For now, you can receive $2,500 and $1,500 from the state when you buy/lease an all-electric car (EV, like a Tesla) and a plug-in hybrid electric car (PHEV, like a Chevy Volt), respectively. BMW i3 REx (with the range-extender) is eligible for $2,500 instead of $1,500, According to DriveClean.ca.gov.

One note: there does need to be funding available for the program. The program current fiscal year is 2015-2016 (Q3/2015-Q2/2016). As of 1/29, issued and reserved rebates are $31,867,753 (59% of the total fund) and there still is $22,042,247 (41% of the total fund) remaining for this fiscal year, according to the program website . Calendar-wise, we are roughly 58% into this fiscal year, so pretty much on pace to use up the fund by the end of Q2.

Another recent news is that the EV and PHEV rebate program will put an income cap on eligibility for higher-income consumers and increase the rebate for lower-income buyers. The implementation date is expected to be mid-March of this year and will be announced 2 weeks at least ahead on the program website.

The gross annual income cap is $250,000 for single filers, $340,000 for head-of-household filers and $500,000 for joint filers. Incomes exceeding these thresholds will not be eligible for receiving the rebates. On the other hand, if household gross incomes are no more than 300% of the federal poverty level, the buyers will receive $1,500 more than the current numbers after the adjustment.

Details on the future changes can be found at https://cleanvehiclerebate.org/eng/information-fiscal-year-2015-16-income-limit-changes. In addition, the rebate covers fuel cell cars as well.

HOV Lane (Carpool Lane) Access. There are two categories: White Clean Air Vehicles (where EVs belong) and Green Clean Air Vehicles (where PHEVs and BMW i3 REx belong). These cars can apply for decals so they can use carpool lane during morning and afternoon rush hours, even if there is only the driver in the car.

The number of available white decals for EVs is unlimited, while the green decals have already ran out on Dec 18, 2015 (a total of 85 thousand). The number of green decals was increased several times by the State in the past. The DMV currently is still receiving applications right now, but there is no guarantee on additional new green decals.

Charging infrastructure construction. This is critical to the adoption of electric cars. One of California’s zero-emission vehicle goals is by 2020 to build adequate infrastructure for 1 million such vehicles. For example, the Governor announced $120 million settlement back in 2012 to fund 200 fast-charging stations and 10,000 plug-in systems at 1,000 locations. Moreover, in Oct. 2015, the Governor signed a bill to simplify the permitting process on EV charging system installation across the state.

Out-of-state Buyers. It may soon come true for out-of-state customers to stop paying sales tax for buying cars manufactured in California, like from Tesla. The hope is to attract people to come to the state and pick up their new cars in person. The Senate passed the bill on Jan 27 and the Assembly is next.

(Ford Focus Electric. Credit: Ford)
(Ford Focus Electric. Credit: Ford)

To repeat what is in Part 1, you can end up paying less for an electric car and enjoy some privileges. For example, 2016 Chevy Volt PHEV has an MSRP of $33,995, but you can get $9,000 off ($7,500 federal tax credit and $1,500 state rebate). Then the price will be around $25k. As another example, 2016 Ford Focus all-electric car, MSPR is $29,170, but you are eligible for $7,500 tax credit and another $2,500 state rebate. So the out-of-the-pocket price can be below $20k. There are incentive details on more cars on DriveClean.ca.gov . Also please check out our homepage for date on electo-range and fast charging of electric cars.

What You Can Get From Government for Getting an Electric Car in California – Part 1

The high price tag makes the cars less appealing to consumers. There are three major incentives in California: the State’s Clean Vehicle Rebate, the Federal Tax Credit and the HOV Lane Access. Besides, the state is promoting hard to get charging infrastructure ready and sufficient for electric cars.  Also, out-of-state buyers may soon stop paying sales tax here (applies to cars manufactured in the state though, like Tesla).

Let us take a look at the Federal Tax Credit in this article. Other incentives and “perks” will be covered in Part 2.

(2016 Nissan LEAF. Credit: Nissan)
(2016 Nissan LEAF. Credit: Nissan)

Federal Tax Credit. The original registered owner (and in case of leasing, the carmaker) can get up to $7,500 of federal tax credit for an all-electric car (EV, like a Nissan LEAF) or a plug-in hybrid electric car (PHEV, like a Chevy Volt).

The actual amount is related to the size of the battery in the car. According to IRS, the calculation looks like this: the base credit is $2,500; if the battery is 5 kWh, you can get $417 on top ($2,917 in total); if the battery is larger than 5 kWh, you can get another $417 for every kWh (partial kWh counts too) exceeding 5 kWh on top of the $2,917.

For example, if the battery is 6kWh (1kWh exceeding the 5 kWh threshold), you can get $3,334 in total ($2,500+$417+$417); If the battery is 10.5 kWh (5.5kWh exceeding the 5 kWh threshold), you can get $5,210 in total ($2,500+$417+$417*5.5). Moreover, if the battery is at 16 kWh or higher, the federal tax credit will be capped at $7,500.

A few notes:

Firstly, there is a list of 28 qualified carmakers, although it covers all major EV/PHEV manufacturers, on IRS website. Noticeably, Honda and Hyundai currently are not on the list. Honda had 2014 Accord PHEV before and Hyundai just launched 2016 Sonata PHEV (Federal tax credit is tbd, according to driveclean.ca.gov)

Secondly, there is a limit for each carmaker on the total number of qualifying cars. In brief, cumulative 200,000 in the US after 12/31/2009. The current sales numbers are roughly just half way. As one of the top-selling EVs, Nissan LEAF had sold about 88 thousand cumulatively in the US as of November last year.

Thirdly, the tax credit applies to only the federal portion of your tax liability, not to your total liability. You can reduce your federal tax liability dollar-for-dollar by using the tax credit. However, your tax liability cannot be reduced to below zero. Therefore, say the tax credit from buying an electric car is greater than your federal tax liability, you will only be able to use a part of the credit to bring the liability to zero.

Tax credits are different than tax deductions. Tax deductions reduce your taxable income. So you can end up paying less tax with tax credits than with same amount of tax deductions.

Fourthly, only the original registered owner of the car is eligible to the federal tax credit. In case of buying a new car, make sure you are the original owner, not the dealer. In case of leasing a new car, the carmaker is the original owner and they get to claim the tax credit. Usually the lease price will be lowered as a result. In case of buying a used car, no tax credit eligibility anymore, even if the original owner did not claim the credit.

In summary, if you take into consideration this Federal Tax Credit and the state’s Clean Vehicle Rebate (will be discussed in Part 2), you can end up paying (much) less for an electric car. For example, 2016 Chevy Volt PHEV has an MSRP of $33,995, but you can get $9,000 off ($7,500 federal tax credit and $1,500 state rebate). Then the price will be around $25k. As another example, 2016 Ford Focus all-electric car, MSPR is $29,170, but you are eligible for $7,500 tax credit and another $2,500 state rebate. So the out-of-the-pocket price can be below $20k. There are incentive details on more cars on DriveClean.ca.gov. Also please check out our homepage for date on electo-range and fast charging of electric cars.