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

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

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.

Electric Car’s High MPG Equivalent Doesn’t Equal to Savings on Driving Costs

Electric car’s MPG equivalent (MPGe) can be impressively over 100. One might assume that this is how much the driving costs can be saved by. Like if you compare 100 MPGe and 25 MPG for a regular car, three quarters of the driving cost could have been saved when go with 100 MPGe. This is not really the case.

MPG equivalent actually is based on energy equivalent. One gallon of gas and 33.7 kWh of electricity contain same amount of energy, which is 121.32 megajoules. So for electric cars, MPGe equals the number of miles the car can drive using 33.7 kWh of electricity. For example, if an electric car is rated 101.1 MPGe (that is 3 times 33.7), what it means is that the car would use 1 kWh for every 3 miles.

Now we can convert MPGe into something related to driving costs – miles per dollar equals to MPGe divided by the product of 33.7 kWh and the electric rate (like $0.1/kWh). Similarly, for regular MPG, the miles per dollar equals to MPG divided by the gas price.

For example, if we still compare 100 MPGe and 25 MPG for driving costs, here is how they look. If your electric rate is $0.1/kWh, 100 MPGe means roughly 30 miles per dollar [100/(33.7X0.1)=29.7]. For the 25 MPG car, assuming a gas price of $2.5/gallon, then 25 MPG means 10 miles per dollar (25/2.5=10). So two thirds of the driving cost could be saved when go with 100 MPGe.

You can plug in real numbers and calculate real savings.

The MPG label (the Monroney label) has the car’s estimated annual fuel cost and for electric cars, how much can be saved over a 5-year span. The numbers are based on some estimated (not may not be up-to-date) numbers like gas price, electricity rates and annual mileage (which usually is 15,000 miles). Therefore, it will be more accurate to estimate using your actual situation.

One more word on electricity rates – the electricity you use to charge the electric car at home is somehow included in your overall household usage. With this being said, you may want to do a little research to find out which electric rate plan fits you better, as you add a few hundreds of kWh to your monthly energy consumption.

For example, the utility company PG&E in the Bay Area has a plan for EV charging. During off-peak hours (11pm to 7am), the rate is as low as 11 cents/kWh. On the flip side, during peak hours (2pm to 8pm), the rate is 44 cents/kWh, which is quite high compared to other rate plans.

Back to MPGe, if it is confusing to electric car buyers, why is it still there? For one thing, the officials use this number to calculate each carmaker’s average fuel economy. Many countries set standard on the average fuel economy. For example, for Model Year 2020 in the US, carmakers need to reach 49 MPG on average for compact cars. In this regard, electric cars with high MPGe helps a lot.

Some of the top runners in terms of MPGe: BMW i3 (124 MPGe), Chevy Spark EV (119 MPGe) and Fiat 400e (116 MPGe).