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

EV Charging Network in Europe Getting Boosted; NextEV Will Build Six of Its $1.2 Million NIO EP9 Electric Supercar; Maserati Alfieri Electric Will Start Production by 2020


EV Charging Network in Europe Getting Boosted

According to Reuters, six carmakers, including VW, Audi, Porche, BMW, Daimler and Ford Europe, have signed a memorandum of understanding to fund the installation of thousands of ultra-fast charging stations by 2020, as part of the effort to increase EV sales.

The charging stations will be using CCS (combined changing system) protocol, which is currently adopted by most of EV models from European and US carmakers. The ultra-fast charging network under the agreement will be capable of outputting 350 kW, much higher than the state-of-the-art 50 kW.

NextEV Will Build Six of Its $1.2 Million NIO EP9 Electric Supercar

According to Fortune, the EV startup NextEV unveiled its first model NIO EP9 electric supercar recently in London. The car took on “the Green Hell” track of Nuerburg-Ring and finished it in 7 minutes and 5.12 seconds, slashing the previous track record by nearly 17 seconds. This result may help justify the supercar’s $1.2 million price tag. And there will be only six of them.

NextEV will introduce a volume production model in China next year.

Maserati Alfieri Electric Will Start Production by 2020

According to Motoring, Maserati confirmed it would build the electric version of its Alfieri by 2020. This detail follows the initial comment by Maserati’s engineering head Roberto Fedeli about 2 month ago. Fedeli mentioned that the tasks would be to give the EV the Maserati identity and to make the car fun to drive.

The electric Alfieri is planned to roll out one year after the twin-turbo V6 version. Maserati has plans to build the electric models of its Levante SUV, Ghibli and Quattroporte, as well.

Things Important But Often Omitted When Getting an Electric Car

Electric cars are getting popular among buyers. Since 2010, the sales of electric cars have been growing to about 0.6% of total sales in the US. Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicted that electric cars could account for 35% of new car sales by 2040. It is well known that electric cars can help save on driving cost, but the high price, lack of chargers and limited range are concerning. However, these limitations may not be as bad as they seem to be.

Actual cost of driving an electric car can be comparable to that of a regular car. Although the price tags of most electric cars are over $30k, you can immediately cut them by thousands of dollars through government incentives. For example, there is federal tax credit as much as $7,500 available in the US. (Please see our previous articles on What You Can Get From Government for Getting an Electric Car in California – Part 1 and Part 2) Plus, your monthly spending on driving can be only half for an electric car as compared with a regular car. This applies to the current low gas prices. Electric cars can drive at 3-5 miles/kWh. Some brands like Nissan and BMW currently even offer free charging in certain charging networks (although those charger locations may not be convenient for you to get to).

A side note on electricity cost: depending on your home energy consumption, the rate can be different for charging an electric car. There can be multiply plans from energy providers for you to choose from. Utility companies like PG&E in California offers plans designed for charging electric cars.

You can use a wall socket to charge electric car. A charge can cost over a thousand dollars. This spending can easily offset your savings on driving cost over a few years. The good news is you have the option to simply plug the car in a standard wall outlet at home. In the US, the standard outlet is rated at 15A and 110V. The charging power can be around 1.2 kW, which means 4-6 miles per hour charged. This is probably sufficient if your commute is less than 40 miles round-trip.

(200-mile all-electric Chevy Bolt. © General Motors.)
(200-mile all-electric Chevy Bolt. © General Motors.)

There are (and will be) ways to extend the range. Limited range is a hassle to many drivers. It becomes even worse considering the fact that the actual range can be different under different driving conditions or at different environment temperatures. On other words, the actual range can be lower on highway or in winter than what you would expect.

An apparent way is to go with plug-in hybrid. After the battery is depleted to a low level, a plug-in hybrid starts to run on a hybrid mode (that is, engine plus battery) for longer distance. BTW, the current low gas prices can make the driving cost of a hybrid car comparable to that of an electric car.

Another solution is the on-going construction of DC fast-charging network. You stop to charge the car to about 80% in 30 minutes and then drive on. How well drivers can accept this solution would largely depend on the network coverage as well as the improvement on charging speed.

Moreover, affordable 200-mile electric cars are on the way to the dealers. Chevy Bolt will come out near the end of the year, followed by Tesla Model 3 and next-generation VW e-Golf. They will partly lift the range anxiety with the electric cars and be a good opinion for one to buy/lease.