Rumors that Tesla is looking to establish a firmer foothold in China by building a factory in the region have been circulating all week. First, China Daily shared the news, then both Bloomberg and Reuterspicked it up. Now, the world has confirmation straight from Tesla that the electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer is indeed in talks with local government in China.
Tesla is working with the Shanghai Municipal Government to explore the possibility of establishing a manufacturing facility in the region to serve the Chinese market. As we have said before, we expect to more clearly define our plans for production in China by the end of the year.
Tesla is deeply committed to the Chinese market, and we continue to evaluate potential manufacturing sites around the globe to serve the local markets.
While details of a deal haven’t been confirmed, anonymous sources told both China Daily and Bloomberg that one would be signed yesterday.
By manufacturing cars for local distribution in China, Tesla could avoid the 25 percent import tariffs it currently pays, but the company stressed in its statement that it would continue manufacturing the bulk of its cars in the United States: “While we expect most of our production to remain in the U.S., we do need to establish local factories to ensure affordability for the markets they serve.”
London is taking its commitment to reducing its impact on climate change to a new level: the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, recently announced a major initiative with the goal of significantly reducing carbon emissions within the next few decades. Ultimately, the plan sets out to make London’s entire transportation network zero emission by the year 2050.
A major facet of the city’s public transport system is already electric, chiefly the Underground rail system. Therefore, the bulk of the efforts will be aimed at reducing emissions from vehicles. The plan hopes to cut down the number of trips by three million each day. To do this, the city is calling on people to switch to walking, cycling, and relying on the electrified public transit system.
Among the first steps in the plan is to create a zero-emission zone in central London by 2025 in order to set the preconditions for a full city expansion by the projected end date in 2050. Other steps include mandating all taxis and minicabs be zero emission by 2033, with the city’s buses following suit by 2037. Then, by 2040, all road vehicles in London will be required to to be zero emission.
One of the major obstacles facing the city’s plan, however, is ensuring the proper infrastructure will be in place to allow it to be successful. One challenge that the city has already identified and will be getting to work on is providing adequate charging stations throughout the city, which will be paramount to the plan’s success since it heavily relies on the adoption of electric vehicles.
A string of recent reports from Volvo has suggested that the Swedish car company is preparing to take on Tesla with an electric vehicle (EV) division. The company has released plans for their upcoming Tesla Model 3 competitor, an SUV slated for release sometime before 2019. More recently, the company announced that they will no longer develop diesel engines, signaling a shift toward electric models.
All of this has culminated in Volvo’s latest announcement. The company has also introduced a separate brand to produce and market “high-performance electric cars,” called Polestar. Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars said that “Polestar will be a credible competitor in the emerging global market for high performance electrified cars.”
In the article, a hypermiling duo from Belgium drove a Model S P100D — currently the fastest Tesla car available — in a 26-km (16-mile) closed loop for nearly 24 hours. Traveling at speeds of 40 km/h (24mph), they were able to run the car for 901.2 km (roughly 560 miles) on a single charge.
The previous record was set by Casey Spencer, who drove a Model S 85D ~885 kilometers (550.3 miles) on one charge. The Model SP100D has a higher energy capacity, which accounts for Musk’s confidence that it could go even farther under ideal conditions.
While the average driver won’t be operating their Tesla under hypermiling conditions, the significance of this new record is clear: Tesla’s EVs are now more efficient than ever before. That’s a plus for anyone considering an electric car, as a primary obstacle to adoption has been concerns about limited range, and the more EVs we can get on the roads, the fewer of their fossil fuel-powered counterparts will be contributing to carbon emissions.
Tesla’s 2170 batteries for vehicles are made using Nickel Cobalt Aluminum Oxide (NCA), as opposed to the 2170 battery cells that power the company’s stationary energy storage products, which utilize Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (NMC).
Musk has called the batteries “the best cell in the world that is also the cheapest cell” and says they have the “best energy density in the world.” While they will initially only be used in the Model 3, which is due to go into production next month, Tesla plans to eventually scale up to integrate them into the Model S and Model X, which are already in production.
This is exiting news for both the electric and autonomous vehicle industries as the batteries are pivotal to achieving the Model 3’s $35,000 price tag. As price decreases, general adoption increases, which will result in safer roads for drivers and pedestrians alike. Coupled with the environmentally friendly nature of the cars, Tesla’s Model 3 is looking like a serious game-changer.
Nikola Tesla envisioned supplying power to the world without the need for a tangle of wires strung everywhere. The closest he ever came to realizing wireless transmission was the Tesla coil, which he created in 1891. However, his dreams were much bigger, encompassing a global wireless power grid that any home, business, or vehicle could tap into at will.
Now, researchers at Stanford University think they may have gotten the wireless charging technology right, as they’ve been able to transmit electricity wirelessly to a moving object nearby. If their technology is scalable, they may have discovered a way to allow electric cars to recharge as they’re in motion, eliminating issues of charging station availability and EV battery range. If that final hurdle is truly overcome, electricity could easily become the standard vehicle fuel worldwide.
Senior study author and professor of electrical engineering Shanhui Fan said in an interview for Stanford News, “We still need to significantly increase the amount of electricity being transferred to charge electric cars, but we may not need to push the distance too much more.”
As the team described in their recently published Nature study, the transmission achieved was much smaller than would be needed to power vehicles. However, they did reach a kind of mid-range wireless power transfer based on magnetic resonance coupling. Electricity coursing through wires creates an oscillating magnetic field, and it’s this field that causes a nearby coil’s electrons to oscillate. This in turn transmits power wirelessly. However, it’s a complex process and is only efficient when the oscillating coils are tuned with respect to the moving object.
Until now, this has been one of the primary problems for wireless energy transmission, because there hasn’t been a way to get the coils to automatically tune to moving objects. The researchers solved this problem by using a feedback resistor and voltage amplifier system to detect where it should be tuned to without help from humans.
Tesla’s Wireless Future Arrives
This research is part of an overall push toward safer, clean energy highways with more manageable traffic that will eventually support self-driving cars.
“In theory, one could drive for an unlimited amount of time without having to stop to recharge,” Fan explained in the interview. “The hope is that you’ll be able to charge your electric car while you’re driving down the highway. A coil in the bottom of the vehicle could receive electricity from a series of coils connected to an electric current embedded in the road.”
With coils embedded in the roads, we could eventually enjoy a totally automated highway system. Self-driving electric vesicles could be wirelessly charged en route, and GPS and other navigation systems would also be powered wirelessly. How different is this outcome compared to Tesla’s vision of the global power grid?
His “World Wireless System” would have dotted the globe with wireless towers that transmitted power — along with data — to each other, and individual users could tap into the network with antennae. Although his plan never got past the first tower, which was demolished exactly 100 years ago, his vision of the future was really very accurate. Now that the Stanford team has this piece in place, hopefully we’ll see the rest of it happening soon.
From 2008 and 2012, Tesla actually had a line of electric sports cars called the “Tesla Roadster,” which was the first-ever highway legal serial production of an all-electric car powered by lithium-ion batteries. Tesla has since discontinued its production, but it was announced three years ago that a second generation roadster is coming.
CEO Elon Musk plans for this Tesla Roadster 4.0, so to speak, to outdo the first version. It will be capable of a “Maximum Plaid” performance mode, as Musk would call it in reference to the movie Spaceballs. In a recent tweet, Musk hinted at just how fast this Maximum Plaid would be.
That would an interesting target. Would, of course, only count if capable of doing so right off the production line with street legal tires.
If the first generation, had a “Ludicrous mode” capable of 0 to 97 km/h (60 mph) acceleration in just 2.5 seconds, the Tesla Roadster 4.0 might just hit 97 km/h (60 mph) in under two seconds. “That would [be] an interesting target,” Musk said in a tweet, replying to a question about the new roadster.
“Would, of course, only count if capable of doing so right off the production line with street legal tires,” Musk added, which Electrek’s Fred Lambert considers a possibility for the roadster to be faster with aftermarket components.
There’s a potential new major player in the autonomous vehicle industry, and its a seasoned player in the automotive market. Veteran car maker General Motors (GM) announced Tuesday that it’s completed 10 self-driving test vehicles of its Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle (EV). The cars were manufactured at the company’s plant in Lake Orion, Michigan. GM believes the achievement could position the company at the head of the autonomous car race.
“The autonomous vehicles you see here today are purpose-built, self-driving test vehicles,” GM’s chairman and CEO Mary Barra told her employees Tuesday morning, USA Today reported. GM has the platform and the technology to back up its claim: it’s the first car manufacturer to mass produce self-driving vehicles.
“The level of integration in these vehicles is on par with any of our production vehicles, and that is a great advantage. In fact, no other company today has the unique and necessary combination of technology, engineering and manufacturing ability to build autonomous vehicles at scale,” Barra added.
If competition drives innovation, a crowded electric vehicle (EV) market may be the best way to save the environment. One of the latest competitors to enter, Henrik Fisker, just announced a new electric car that may instigate an innovation war that leads to the next wave of cool, high-performing — and most importantly — climate friendly EVs.
The EMotion — the luxurious sibling to the as-yet-unannounced mass market design — ostensibly has a range of 643 kilometers (400 miles), a not insignificant improvement on the 563 kilometer (350 mile) range of Tesla’s Model S. With a top speed of 259 km/h (161 mph) and a nine-minute charging time, the EV lays down a serious benchmark for Tesla.
Fisker EMotion: World’s most advanced EV. 400 mile + range, 9 min fast charging, autonomous & connected. Very proud of what we are creating! pic.twitter.com/7xWneZwMaT
Fisker is best known for designing some of the most iconic luxury car models in history, including ones that were used in James Bond films. The EMotion is the first car to be produced by his EV company, Fisker Inc.
Although details concerning the vehicle’s price, launch date, and autonomous capabilities have not yet been revealed, the EMotion’s announcement is a welcome update for the people who have been waiting with baited breath to see what the car would look like and how it would compare to Musk’s designs.
Electric cars are a pivotal part of the global fight against climate change, and the efforts of several car manufacturers — including Toyota and Porsche — to make them faster, sleeker, and more luxurious are helping EVs break into the supercar sector of the automotive market. Once there is an EV to meet the taste and desires of every driver, we can start to really phase out the vehicles’ gas-guzzling counterparts.
It looks like Audi is putting its production where its mouth is. A press release from Volkswagen — Audi’s parent organization — says that the car maker is ramping up production capacity for electric vehicles. The company is embracing an increased commitment to electric engines with the philosophy, “electric motors instead of internal combustion engines, batteries instead of fuel tanks.”
Audi is gearing up to launch their e-tron quattro, an electric SUV that is planned to release in 2018 that boasts a 500-kilometer (310-mile) range. The company is launching what it is calling an “E-factory” in its Brussels plant to help ease the transition over from traditional combustion to electric powered engines.
In the new facility, logistics will be run in the front and the rear will be home to the production line for the vehicles’ new 95 kWh battery packs. The company will not be making its own cells but will be assembling the battery packs in the house. One of Audi’s battery specialists stated in the press release: “We had to develop a whole series of new production technologies, all the way to automatic setting of the cell module into its mounts.”
When announcing the new SUV, Audi took a direct shot at Tesla’s Model X by emphasizing Audi’s model’s superior range. Pricing information is not yet available, but we will see if that added juice will be worth any extra cost.
Purdue researchers have developed technology for an “instantly rechargeable” battery that is affordable, environmentally friendly, and safe. Currently, electric vehicles need charging ports in convenient locations to be viable, but this battery technology would allow drivers of hybrid and electric vehicles to charge up much like drivers of conventional cars refill quickly and easily at gas stations.
This breakthrough would not only speed the switch to electric vehicles by making them more convenient to drive, but also reduce the amount of new supportive infrastructure needed for electric cars dramatically. Purdue University professors John Cushman and Eric Nauman teamed up with doctoral student Mike Mueterthies to co-found Ifbattery LLC (IF-battery) for commercializing and developing the technology.
The new model is a flow battery, which is not does not require an electric charging station to be recharged. Instead, all the users have to do is replace the battery’s fluid electrolytes — rather like filling up a tank. This battery’s fluids from used batteries, all clean, inexpensive, and safe, could be collected and recharged at any solar, wind, or hydroelectric plant. Electric cars using this technology would arrive at the refueling station, deposit spent fluids for recharging, and “fill up” like a traditional car might.
Cleaner, Faster Battery Technology
This flow battery system is unique because, unlike other versions of the flow battery, this one lacks the membranes which are both costly and vulnerable to fouling. “Membrane fouling can limit the number of recharge cycles and is a known contributor to many battery fires,” Cushman said in a press release. “Ifbattery’s components are safe enough to be stored in a family home, are stable enough to meet major production and distribution requirements, and are cost effective.”
Transitioning existing infrastructure to accommodate cars using these batteries would be far simpler than designing and building a host of new charging stations — which is Tesla’s current strategy. Existing pumps could even be used for these battery chemicals, which are very safe.
“Electric and hybrid vehicle sales are growing worldwide and the popularity of companies like Tesla is incredible, but there continues to be strong challenges for industry and consumers of electric or hybrid cars,” Cushman said in the press release. “The biggest challenge for industry is to extend the life of a battery’s charge and the infrastructure needed to actually charge the vehicle.”
When can we expect to see these batteries in use? The biggest hurdle isn’t the materials, which are cheap and plentiful, but person power. The researchers still need more financing to complete research and development to put the batteries into mass production. To overcome this problem, they’re working to publicize the innovation in the hopes of drawing interest from investors.
Toyota officially ended its relationship with Elon Musk’s Tesla by selling off its remaining shares of the company by the end of last year. The Japanese automaking company began with a $50 million investment for a three percent stake in the company.
In a statement, Toyota spokesman Ryo Sakai said, via Reuters, “Our development partnership with Tesla ended a while ago, and since there has not been any new developments on that front, we decided it was time to sell the remaining stake.” Interestingly, late last year, Toyota formed an electric car division of its own. So, it looks like Japan’s biggest automobile company is looking to compete for Tesla’s market share.
News from the BBCpoints to Toyota investing in Cartivator to develop a flying car. The startup has been crowdfunding their vehicle, the Skydrive, which has projected speeds of about 100 km/h (62 mph) and the ability to fly 10 meters (33 feet) off the ground.
This move directly opposes previous statements made by Elon Musk regarding flying cars. In an interview with Bloombergearlier this year he said, “Obviously, I like flying things. But it’s difficult to imagine the flying car becoming a scalable solution.”
Electric cars have quickly become the clear front runner in the future of personal transportation. Still, it is exciting to see that flying cars may not altogether be DOA.
The Tesla and SpaceX CEO tweeted an article posted by the World Economic Forum about India’s recent commitment to sell only electric cars in 13 years or sooner. Musk also noted, “It is already the largest market for solar power,” to highlight two separate efforts by India as it takes the fight against carbon emissions seriously. Both of these initiatives are indicative of the transformation India has recently been undergoing.
Those who’ve seen that Leonardo DiCaprio documentary on climate change might remember that bit during the actor’s interview with India’s energy minister. After DiCaprio pointed out that India’s among the leading contributor for climate-warming gasses, the minister made a reply that stumped the actor.
She said that before talking about India, one has to look at the more developed nations and how they are serious about cutting down on their carbon footprint. Besides, India lives with what it has, and it couldn’t afford the alternative energy at that time.
Just a few generations ago, the idea that we could hop in our car for a road trip without a paper atlas and, instead, navigate with computers in our car—let alone computers in our handheld phones—was idea that was little more than science fiction.
However, in recent years, technology has evolved so quickly, and in so many ways we couldn’t have imagined, that we’re now well along the path to a remarkably futuristic world. Flying cars and vacuum tube trains were something only The Jetsons could have made up. But it’s no longer a matter of if, but when we will have these advanced technologies. And the “when” may be much sooner than you think.
In fact, when it comes to some of that previously scifi-only technology, the future is already here.
One of the major ways in which technology is already altering the course of history is through the ways we get around. Transportation—both at the micro and macro level—is already undergoing major adaptations due to technology. Indeed, once upon a time, our transportation was limited by the realities of what we could achieve technologically. Now, it’s practically the reverse: The only thing limiting us is what we can dream up.
On the roadways, electric vehicles and hybrid cars have become increasingly common. Tesla, Google, and even traditional automakers like Volkswagen have EVs in the pipeline. While they aren’t yet an affordable option for every driver, that’s likely to change as the technology becomes easier (and cheaper) to produce. The next task will be scaling up EV technology for trucks, trains, and buses; a task which will likely require a major overhaul of the United States’ infrastructure — especially if the rails and roadways have self-charging technology.
The infrastructure in the U.S. is probably long overdue for an upgrade, but those who are coming up with ideas aren’t limiting themselves simply to what cities need; they’re thinking well beyond. Cars that can seal up potholes or roads that can “heal” and de-ice themselves, train tracks that can charge cars as they cruise along and even send excess energy back to the grid, and bridges that are capable of adjusting their weight-bearing to extend the lives of their cables…these are just a few of the things in the works.
Beyond-your-wildest-dreams concepts like the Hyperloop have already gone from plan to prototype, and they won’t just change how we get from point A to point B, but change our perception of what it means to travel. In the same way that air travel cut time off trips that used to take months by sea, the hyper-fast travel permitted by something like the Hyperloop will change our perceived geographically limitations for work, living, and play.
The idea of distributed energy could also be used for individual, electric vehicles: fleets can be hooked up to a power grid to charge and, in turn, the grid can tap into the excess energy as-needed. As those grids would be powered by wind or solar, the energy-generating potential would be efficient and renewable.
Pair these efficient, renewably-energized vehicles with self-driving technology, and you’re looking at the next frontier of transportation technology: EVs that can drive themselves.
While autonomous vehicle technology is already being developed, we don’t yet know exactly how it will play out in large scale implementation. It would require people to, essentially, relearn to drive (or, as it is, learn to not drive), and the “rules of the road” would need to shift accordingly.
Making Dreams Into Reality
Although the aforementioned technologies are already well on their way to completion, we need to ensure that society it able to keep pace. For example, would multi-lane highways be safer or more precarious in the absence of human drivers? Who’s to blame when an AI driven car gets in an accident? Should human drivers be banned from the streets? While many studies have supposed that autonomous vehicles will be safer because they take human fallibility out of the equation, until the tech is in practice we can’t be sure.
Similar legislative and ethical questions surround the other technologies detailed. As Tony Robinson, who co-founded the company behind The Future of Transportation World Conference, notes, from flying cars to smart streets, the tech of tomorrow is going to necessitate some new rules. For example, he asserts that we will need to “completely rethink the legislation relating to air traffic control, as flying cars will need very high levels of investment in geo-mapping, flight dimensional city mapping, and interfacing with the aviation segment to enable a lot of advanced systems to operate underneath the existing canopy of what we know as air traffic control and air traffic management.”
Fortunately, there are plenty of minds gathering around the world to ruminate on these questions and come up with solutions—ideally, before problems even arise. To this end, The Future of Transportation World Conference, which will be held in Cologne, Germany July 5 and 6 of this year, aims to:
Bring together world transportation leaders from automotive manufacturers and their suppliers, transportation authorities and city planners, rail and public transportation technology firms and operators, technology and software giants, drone and personal air transportation solution companies, freight and logistics companies, mass-transit solution providers, business consultants, inventors of new and disruptive global mobility solutions, all with the common goal of devising better solutions for the increasingly demanding challenge of providing safe, efficient, sustainable transportation for the world in 2030 and beyond.
Electric vehicles (EVs) are well on their way to taking control of the road, leaving behind fossil fuel guzzling gasoline-powered cars and trucks. Still, there is a long way to go before the world is prepared to accommodate fleets of clean energy EVs. Perhaps a convenient and affordable stopgap is in order.
Image Credit: Gogoro
Taiwanese company Gogoro may have an appropriate solution. They recently announced a new model of scooter, called the Gogoro 2, which will be available in Taiwan within the coming months. According to The Verge, the scooters “can go 0-50 km/hr in 4.3 seconds, has a top speed of 90 km/hr (about 55 miles per hour), and a 110km range (about 68 miles) The multicolor scooters are capable of going from 0-50 km/hr in 4.3 seconds.”
The Gogoro 2 will set you back NT$38,800 ($1,295 USD). That is, if they ever become available outside of Taiwan. The company says they will be available in other markets before the end of the year but that cold just refer to their inclusion in its international sharing fleets.
More widespread use of scooters could be an excellent addition to the rise in the use of EVs. However, one of the limitations of these emerging technologies is shared between them. Setting up the infrastructure to support a shift to electric transportation is a considerable hurdle that needs to be overcome.
Still, these scooters could be an important tool to help mitigate the use of fossil fuels for transportation, especially in urban environments where shorter ranges are not a hindrance. Programs like CitiBike have proved successful and scooter sharing could be the necessary bridge between our current means of getting around and a completely clean energy future.
While electric vehicles (EVs) are steadily gaining ground, the majority of the cars on the road today are still gas-powered. Gas prices, however, aren’t exactly getting cheaper. So, while we work towards transitioning from fossil fuel-based vehicles to cleaner alternatives, it certainly helps to find ways to make the cars we have now more fuel efficient. Students from the Université Laval might just have a solution.
As an entry for this year’s Shell Eco-marathon Americas, the Laval students developed a prototype vehicle that could run for 2,713 miles per gallon (mpg) on a Detroit, Michigan test track. Their vehicle’s outstanding performance landed them this year’s top trophy. The competition gives students a chance to design vehicle concepts that maximizes efficiency using various fuels, including everything from gasoline to hydrogen fuel cells.
“In winning the overall competition, Université Laval defeated 114 other rivals vying to see whose vehicle could travel the farthest distance on the equivalent of a gallon of gas,” according to a press release for the event. While the Laval team’s achievement was no small feat, it wasn’t able to outperform last year’s champion car from the University of Toronto — which covered an astounding 3,421 mpg.
A Renewable Future
Better fuel efficiency could translate to less fossil fuel vehicle consumption. While this could count as a win for the environment, fossil fuels remain one of the leading contributors to climate-warming emissions. As such, doing away with them completely is a the ultimate goal.
While it may feel like it, it’s not an impossible task: over the past months, fossil fuels are losing value in terms of price, and seeing reduced efficiency compared to their renewable counterparts. EVs, while still only covering a relatively small share of the automobile industry, are set for a major take over. The increased interest from veteran automakers like Volkswagen, Chevrolet, and Honda is a testament to the future of EVs. And soon, they may not even be the only alternatively fueled vehicles available: one automaker in China is working on a car that runs on solar power.
Electric vehicles (EVs) are rapidly becoming a juggernaut in the future of personal vehicles. Tesla is leading the charge in bringing electric cars to the mainstream. Now, other companies looking to capitalize on that momentum are joining in on the fun. Volvo’s President and CEO, Hakan Samuelsson, recently talked to a German newspaper, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, about how the Swedish car company is ramping up its plans for EVs.
Not only are they looking to expand on electric engines, but the CEO also mentioned in the interview that they will no longer pursue developing diesel engines. “From today’s perspective, we will not develop any more new generation diesel engines.”
Image credit: Volvo
This announcement comes shortly after Elon Musk gave the world a first look at Tesla’s upcoming all-electric semi-truck.
Samuelsson explained further in an email to Reuters, “We have just launched a brand new generation of petrol and diesel engines, highlighting our commitment to this technology. As a result, a decision on the development of a new generation of diesel engines is not required.”
Samuelsson admits that Tesla is the driving force behind the decision to focus on EVs. “We have to recognize that Tesla has managed to offer such a car for which people are lining up. In this area, there should also be space for us, with high quality and attractive design,” he said in the email.
Volvo does not intend to completely phase out the further development of its latest diesel engine — it will continue to upgrade the engines to meet tightening emissions standards. Samuelsson expects these stricter environmental standards to add to the price of diesel engines, giving an additional advantage to electric engines. Reuters reports that Goldman Sachs estimates an additional cost of more than $330 to each engine.
The Volvo EVs are expected to become available in 2019 and cost something in the range of $35,000 to $40,000. Volvo is hoping to release the cars with a range of roughly 402 kilometers (250 miles) per charge. These additions to the EV market will give commuters more options than ever to reduce their carbon footprints.
As a number of car manufacturers — including industry veterans like Volkswagen and Ford — begin to take the electric vehicle market more seriously, finding innovative ways to introduce new EVs has become essential. Of course, EVs are already marvels of innovation, but Chinese startup Nio sees a lot of room for improvement in the field.
For Nio’s CEO Padmasree Warrior, this means approaching the EV — and the car industry in general — differently. “The problem with today’s car is they try to emulate the smartphone interface and smartphone capability into the car. But the smartphone is not just a better cell phone, it’s fundamentally a very different device,” she told Business Insider. “We want to be the first company that builds the next-generation mobile space.”
This means engineering EVs in a totally different way, just like how the smartphone completely reimagined the mobile device. The ultimate goal is to bring automobiles into the future. “We want humans to get their time back free from the chore of driving,” Warrior explained. “Our vision of the car is a computer on wheels.”
Just like Tesla’s current lineup, Nio’s SUV will serve as a testing ground for its more advanced self-driving technology. The company plans to gather as much data as it can from the vehicle to use to build an EV with Level 4 autonomy, most likely the Nio Eve. That vehicle would be launched in the U.S. market by 2020.
Building an autonomous EV is a strategy not unique to Nio, of course. So what makes Nio’s ideas better? Warrior said that Nio wants to build a “living space that moves you.” In other words, the company thinks autonomous vehicles should be comfortable, high-tech environments in which riders can watch movies, take conference calls, and even sleep. To that end, the company is also in the process of developing wireless charging technology t0 integrate into its vehicles.
In short, Nio wants to develop a new autonomous EV experience, and that experience could arrive sooner than you may think.
Now that electric vehicles are here to stay and making money, competition in the industry is heating up. Volkswagen has declared its intention to take on Tesla in a big way — and those most likely to benefit are consumers.
The Financial Times reported that Herbert Diess, the brand chief for Volkswagen, made the company’s plans public at a press conference Sunday: “Anything Tesla can do, we can surpass,” Diess remarked.
“[Tesla] is a competitor we take seriously. Tesla comes from a high-priced segment, however they are moving [to less expensive cars],” Diess continued. “It’s our ambition, with our new architecture, to stop them there, to rein them in.”
Volkswagen has already unveiled three concept vehicles: a smaller hatchback model, a minivan, and a crossover. They are all based on its flexible EV platform, which it calls MEB. Volkswagen aims for a production rate of 1,000,000 vehicles by 2025.
Clearly the German automaker has the capacity to mass produce vehicles; the question is whether it can take Tesla to the mat based on volume. The weak point for Tesla vehicles has always been cost. The company hasn’t always been profitable, and average consumers are priced out of buying from Tesla. This is where companies like Volkswagen will hit them — but how much it will hurt remains to be seen.
Electric Cars Get Competitive
Tesla is also ramping up production: based on its latest projections — which seem totally achievable — it should reach production of 500,000 cars per year seven years earlier than Volkswagen. However, they can only accomplish this feat if people are able to buy those cars. Thus far, people are willing — but the prices remain out of reach for many consumers. That’s Volkswagen’s real edge, assuming it can keep its own costs lower.
However, Tesla has plenty of edges of its own – not least its track record of innovation. Tesla as a company has many loyal consumer-fans precisely because it does things differently than “the big boys” — and companies like Volkswagen may find this loyalty harder to get around than they imagine. In the meantime, consumers can enjoy the benefits of competition as more and more electric vehicles come to market, and companies look to capture more mainstream, middle income demographics.
We’ve heard a lot of talk about Tesla’s plans for an electric crossover SUV, dubbed the Model Y, but so far, that’s all it’s been: talk. We’ve gotten the occasional tease tweet from CEO Elon Musk about the electric crossover, but overall, Tesla’s been secretive about the Model Y. That’s finally changing as Musk revealed more details about the highly anticipated vehicle during Tesla’s investor call yesterday.
The biggest surprise? Tesla plans to build an entirely new vehicle platform for the Model Y. This means that the crossover EV won’t be built using the Model 3 or Model S as a basis — Tesla is making something entirely new.
Musk shared a few details on the kinds of changes we can expect from the Model Y: “The wiring harness on Model S is about 3 km, on the Model 3 it’s about 1.5 km in length. The wiring harness on the Model Y will be 100m.”
No one knows for sure whether or not the Model Y will have the divisive falcon-wing doors of the Model X, but Musk did voice his expectation that it will be out “sometime in 2020 or, aspirationally, sometime in 2019.”
Tesla Spells S.3.X.Y.
By building an entirely new platform for the Model Y, Tesla can take advantage of the latest technologies, as well as prepare for perhaps a new lineup of vehicles — its next generation of autonomous EVs. As such, a new version of the Model S or the Model X isn’t likely before the Model Y is released.
With this electric CUV, Tesla isn’t just playfully spelling S.3.X.Y. with its EV lineup, it’s also moving forward on its quest to revolutionize modern transportation. Musk has long placed his bets on EVs and how they’ll eventually dominate the market. That day may still be some ways off, true, but we’re already on the path toward it. Other automakers, including industry veterans like Chevrolet, Volkswagen, and Volvo, see EVs as the future, too.
The world’s lineup of electric vehicles is getting a new addition in 2018, and it’s going to be an SUV from German automaker Audi. The concept for this e-tron Sportback vehicle first came out in September 2015 at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Now, Audi has opened up reservations for buyers based in Norway for $2,500. That’s the price to reserve — the actual price of the electric SUV has yet to be announced.
In terms of what it could deliver, the e-tron SUV boasts a 499-km (310-mile) range on a single charge of its 95 kWh battery (which, by the way, can be fully charged in 50 minutes). That’s more than the 465-km (289-mile) single charge range of Tesla’s Model X SUV’s 100 kWh battery. In addition, Audi is considering adding an autonomous driving software to the SUV’s features.
In terms of looks, the e-tron is stylish, and could be more so if Audi decides to trade the side mirrors for a couple of cameras instead. Inside, it’s dashboard will be covered in OLED screens — perfect for network connectivity based on LTE Advanced.
Chevrolet Bolt EV, the brand’s affordable, battery-powered electric vehicle (EV), has clocked in serious mileage since its release in December, 2016. According to the company, in just four months owners have driven a collective 7.2 million km (4.5 million miles) as of April 2nd, 2017.
Image Credit: GM
This impressive milestone illustrates how relevant the adoption of EVs are to the world’s effort to protect the environment. The Bolt EV’s all-electric miles are equivalent to saving 175,000 gallons of fuel, following the average EPA estimate of 42 km per gallon (26 mpg) for 2017 vehicles in the US.
The average Bolt owner can drive around 85 km (53 miles) per day, but reports of the vehicle setting record miles on a single charge continue to surface.
“Our early Bolt EV customers are proving the crossover’s functionality, flexibility, and long-range capabilities on a daily basis,” said Steve Majoros, director of marketing for Chevrolet, in a press announcement. “Chevrolet committed to delivering a game-changing vehicle, and we’ve done just that.”
Given that the vehicle has yet to be released nationwide, these figures are indeed impressive. And it certainly looks like these numbers will continue to climb as the Bolt sees a nationwide release by summer 2017.
If you’ve been begging the universe for a flying car for your entire life, you may soon be able to stop asking (sort of). This week, Germany-based company Lilium Aviation took its new all-electric, two-seater vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) prototype for its first test flight. The jet was piloted remotely during the tests, but its creators say the vehicle’s first manned flight will happen soon.
Thirty-six separate jet engines mounted on 12 movable flaps on the Lilium Jet’s 10-meter-long wings power the craft. The flaps point down at take-off to provide vertical lift, and then they tilt gradually into a horizontal position for forward thrust. Lilium says that its electric battery enables the aircraft to reach a maximum cruising speed of 300 kph (183 mph) and achieve a range of 300 kilometers (183 miles), all while it “consumes around 90 percent less energy than drone-style aircraft,” according to a recent press release.
Powered by Renewables
The startup plans to build a five-passenger version of the jet eventually, and Lilium envisions its product being used in an on-demand capacity in dense, urban areas — the Uber of flying cars (though Uber itself is working on its own flying model). Patrick Nathen, co-founder and head of calculation and design for Lilium Jet, told The Verge that the company’s ultimate goal is to make the technology accessible for everyone, replacing expensive ground taxi trips in urban areas with flights at a fraction of the cost.
Although electric-powered aviation is not yet highly developed, this prototype’s design makes it far more efficient in terms of power consumption than other electric aircraft. And although electric cars with the same 1,000-pound batteries used in this aircraft are typically limited to a range of about 482 kilometers (300 miles) per charge, Nathen says that’s enough for their jet.
This jet and virtually all other innovative vehicles in development right now will run on renewables. This is more than a trend — it is simply the way of the future. Tesla vehicles will soon be as affordable as standard vehicles, and their semi trucks and pickups are on the way. This kind of electric-powered aircraft is the next step in truly getting clean energy off the ground while leaving fossil fuels in it.
Burning fossil fuels, such as the gasoline that powers most of our cars, releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Along with other greenhouse gases, this causes the climate change and global warming that we’re seeing today.
People aren’t likely to stop driving any time soon, so the best way to decrease these emissions? Through the adoption of vehicles that are powered by clean energy instead of fossil fuels.
Though electric vehicles were initially a niche offering from a select few manufacturers, they are gaining remarkable traction in the marketplace. In the U.S. alone, 2016 sales increased by 36 percent over 2015’s figures, with just under 160,000 new vehicles hitting the road. By the end of that year, consumers could choose from between 30 different EVs, and that number is expected to reach as high as 70 in the next five years.
“Wisconsin Clean Cities is thrilled to build on the successes of the two previous REV UP WISCONSIN cycles to allow for expanded use of electric vehicles in the state at a reduced price to consumers,” said Wisconsin Clean Cities Executive Director Lorrie Lisek in a press release. “When you are able to combine cost savings with emissions reductions and cleaner air, everyone wins.”
The discount will be effective until June 30, and in total, customers can save a staggering $17,500 on a vehicle purchase. $10,000 is thanks to a group buy discount for participating utility company employees and customers, while $7,500 is in the form of a federal tax credit. With a starting MSRP of just $30,680, that means customers are getting a whopping 57 percent discount on the vehicle. Even with their newly announced price reductions, Tesla’s cheapest EV currently costs roughly five times as much: $69,500.
Incentives like that offered by Wisconsin Clean Cities will no doubt contribute to the continued adoption of electric vehicles, and as more of these environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional modes of transportation hit the road, we’ll lessen humanity’s devastating impact on our planet.
While Tesla is the most recognized name in electric vehicles (EV), it isn’t the only one. Tesla’s pursuit of a cheaper, cleaner, and more sustainable form of transportation has a proven popularity. With this comes natural competition among electric automakers that leaves consumers and the Earth with a net positive.
Got to sit in and poke around the ridiculously spacious and high-tech Lucid Air electric car. Really ??? pic.twitter.com/b9NrWNHL3U
Enter Lucid Motors, a California-based electric vehicle company that has developed a new electric car known as the Air. While the most affordable version of the Air is still more expensive than upcoming Model 3 at $52,500, Mashable’s Ray Wong says that the vehicle “has been billed by many as a Tesla “killer” that’s more high tech and luxurious than the Model S,” adding, “it felt more like being in a private jet or in a first-class plane cabin than in a road vehicle.” Even the former Chief Engineer on the Model S, Peter Rawlinson, agrees.
Rawlinson, the current Chief Technology Officer at Lucid Motors, says that the sculpted battery on the Air provides passengers with far more space than what any Tesla vehicle is able to provide. Some features of the $100,000 fully-loaded Air include: a 1,000 horsepower all-wheel drive twin-motor, a battery that lasts 400 miles, reclining backseats, and front seats that provide a massage. The basic Air will have a 400-horsepower rear-wheel drive single motor and a battery that lasts 240 miles. All models will allow drivers to activate level 4 or 5 autonomous driving, have touchscreens instead of an instrument panel, voice assistant/AI, and facial recognition.
The Benefits of EVs
While luxury cars have led the EV charge (pun intended), more options are gradually becoming available from many other automakers so that everyone can be a part of the electric vehicle solution.
As more choices become available, consumers have the opportunity to find an EV that falls in their price range while meeting their own personal standards. All EVs today do come with certain benefits, such as home recharging, low-cost operation, reduced emissions, and a very quiet, smooth ride. The vehicles could also save the United States billions of dollars in healthcare costs. As more consumers jump on the EV bandwagon, we will see costs go down while a greener thumbprint across the globe emerges.
Lucid Motors just unveiled its luxury Lucid Air and an Alpha Speed Car prototype during the annual New York International Auto Show. Now, the California-based luxury automaker has shared a video of the vehicle’s first high-speed stability test.
During the test at the Transportation Research Center test track in Ohio, the all-electric Alpha Speed Car clocked a speed of 350 kmh (217 mph). That’s the same as a Ferrari LaFerrari.
These tests are relevant to the engineering process of the vehicle as they will allow the team to combine computer simulation models with real-world data to improve performance. According to Lucid Motors’ website:
The test, software-limited to 217 mph (350 km/h), was successful in demonstrating the capabilities of the car and in finding areas for improvement that could not be properly evaluated in static bench tests […] The collected data will now be used to finesse thermal and aero computer simulations and to make further performance improvements that will be tested later this year at higher speeds.
The company assures potential drivers, however, that the Air is more than just fast: “High-speed capability does not compromise our mission to develop a highly efficient vehicle. On the contrary, the focus on maximizing range provides the high power and aerodynamic efficiency that enables higher speeds.”
The Lucid Air is scheduled for production in 2019 and is largely considered a strong competitor for Tesla’s Model S. Priced at $52,500, the vehicle is expected to come equipped with autonomous-ready hardware. It will have a 400-mile range, a 1,000-horsepower engine, and a strong focus on passenger comfort and luxury.
Rise of Electric Vehicles
The diversity of electric vehicles (EV) coming onto the market demonstrates the increased demand for electric alternatives to traditional high-performance transport.
If we really want to reduce carbon emissions, ending our reliance on traditional forms of transportation is one way to do it, so the arrival of numerous EV options is certainly welcome. In addition, many of these cars are being built with advanced autonomous capabilities, which could mean that traffic jams, a perennial problem in urban areas, will be considerably reduced.
Furthermore, the government’s support for self-driving technology is drawn from its potential to help address common pedestrian and road safety issues. Given that most traffic-related accidents and fatalities are caused by human error, the rise of autonomous vehicles on the road would ultimately save lives.
With each new development, it’s becoming clear that electric vehicles are the future of personal transport. Gasoline-fueled cars are a major burden on the environment. One third of all air pollution in the United States comes from vehicles. Not only does this contribute to climate change, but also puts everyone’s health at risk as we end up breathing in these emissions.
More manufacturers are adding electric cars to their lineups. Even the fanciest of automakers are putting their hat in the ring to get carve out a piece of that market. Porsche is planning on rolling out its Mission E electric cars by 2020. The company has already unveiled the model as a concept car at last year’s International Motor Show in Frankfurt. The concept car was a sleek, attractive, four-door sedan. The company plans to offer wireless software updates just like Tesla.
The new car will undoubtedly feature some high-tech bells and whistles. Porsche has not officially confirmed the full spectrum of what will be available with the production model of the car, but we do at least have an idea of where they might be headed.
Inductive charging is a relatively new technology that’s, so far, only widely been integrated into portable technology like cell phones and smart watches. It is quickly becoming more popular in future designs for electric vehicles thanks to the implications of creating parking spots that feature charging pads.
Range anxiety is a common concern among electric vehicle consumers. No one wants to get stranded in the middle of a long trip with the nearest charging opportunity potentially miles away. Porsche is hoping to assuage that fear by offering an 800v charging system that will allow a range of 402 km (250 miles) with just 15 minutes of charge time. A fully charged Mission E could drive up to 498 km (310 miles), leaving Tesla’s Model 3’s 473 km (294 miles) in the dust.
No More Mirrors
Porsche is also making a huge switch that may even rival the change that Apple made to its phones by removing the headphone jack. Instead of the traditional exterior mirrors, the vehicles will be equipped with cameras that display the world around the vehicle in the lower corner of the windshield. Other cameras in the vehicle will track the driver’s eyes to help control the dashboard menu.
The future of electric vehicles is as clear as it is necessary. Combating climate change is of the utmost importance to the continued health of our planet. However, as each new model is unveiled exactly what that future will look like is only limited by the imagination and innovation it can spark.
Faraday Future has been accepting reservations for the FF 91 since January, with the first 300 orders eligible for an exclusive launch upgrade called the Alliance Edition, though no word yet on what that would entail.
The FF 91 was designed and built following Faraday Future’s so-called Variable Platform Architecture (VPA). According to the company, the vehicle’s 130 kWh battery is “the world’s highest energy density battery,” and it delivers an estimated range of 378 miles on the EPA cycle and over 700 km on the NEDC cycle. The FF 91 runs on a 1,050 horsepower electric propulsion system capable of zooming from zero to 96 kmh (zero to 60 mph) in just 2.39 seconds. (For its part, Tesla seems to have acknowledged the rather stealthy Faraday Future by topping that acceleration rate almost as soon as the new vehicle was unveiled and before it actually hit production.)
The FF 91 is impressive as an autonomous vehicle, too. It’s set to be the first vehicle to “feature retractable 3D lidar […], part of a complex sensor system including 10 high definition cameras, 13 long and short range radars, and 12 ultrasonic sensors.” It’s topped with more sensors than any of its counterparts.
Clearly, the FF 91 is a formidable foe for both EVs and self-driving cars. All that’s left now is for Faraday Future to actually roll it out. Hopefully, that future event isn’t too far away.
While Lynk & Co uses Volvo’s compact modular architecture to develop its line of EVs, the Swedish manufacturer is also working on its first long-range EV. Volvo expects to roll it out by the end of the decade.
Coming a little sooner will be Geely’s first feature car, the model 01 crossover, which is expected to come out in China late this year. The first version would be a plug-in hybrid one, while an all electric model is in the works and is supposed to roll out by 2018. The 01 will also enter the U.S. and European markets eventually.
It’s another example of just how electric vehicles are becoming the future of clear energy transportation.
Preparations for Tesla’s Model 3 electric vehicle production are well under way, and one of the most recent development comes from an Austrian cable company. The company — which has not been named publicly as of yet — will be supplying aluminum cabling for the Model 3, according to a report from the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation.
As part of a business deal worth as much as $5.4 million (5 million Euros), Tesla ordered 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles) of “shielded aluminum cables” which will be used to connect the Model 3’s electric motor to an onboard battery pack. The cables are expected to be delivered to Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 in Sparks, Nevada, where the Model 3’s electric motors and gear boxes will be manufactured.
The deal was a result of “intensive development and sales activities,” according to the Austrian company’s Facebook page. This is the company’s first dealing with Tesla, though they are no stranger to working with car manufacturers: they’ve struck previous deals with Ford and Chrysler.
Smaller and Lighter
The Model 3 will be the latest addition to Tesla’s line up of EVs. It’s expected to be smaller and lighter than previous models, assets that the aluminum cabling supports. Supposedly, these Austrian-made cables are lighter than traditional cabling materials, and not to mention cheaper — so their addition isn’t expected to upset the vehicle’s $35,000 starting price.
These days, if you attend a tech convention or conference, chances are you’ll see a presentation or launch of an electric vehicle (EV). The ongoing SXSW Conference happening in Austin, Texas this month is no exception. Just last Friday, a startup called Nio — formerly known as NextEV — announced its plans to release a self-driving electric car by 2020. The company also unveiled its EV concept called Nio Eve.
The Eve is Nio’s vision of what the cars of the future should be.
Aside from being both electric and autonomous, the Nio Eve comes with an artificial intelligence (AI) virtual assistant bot called NOMI, which communicates with you using the car’s heads-up display. This AI bot picks up your preferences as you use your Nio Eve to make your driving experience uniquely personal.
Speaking of experience, the Nio Eve’s interior is designed for the car ride of the future — which is to say, one where you truly ride because you don’t have to worry about driving. It has reclining seats and folding tables, so you can sit back as the car drives itself.
On the outside, the Nio Eve looks like many other EVs — largely recognized for their innovative designs. Nio Eve has sliding doors and a panoramic sunroof.
While the EV may be Nio’s latest car concept, it isn’t their first: back in November 2016, the company launched an EV supercar called Nio EP9. It was referred to as the fastest EV in the world after it beat the previous record by finishing the 13-mile long “Green Hell” track in Germany in just 7 minutes and 5.12 seconds.
The Age of EV
As consumers become more aware of the benefits of EV — particularly their capacity to help improve the world’s climate change situation — it’s no surprise that the industry is growing. A study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) predicts that EVs could replace 90 percent of today’s vehicles.
More and more vehicle manufacturers, including the world’s most popular brands, are working on their own EVs. Despite it’s ubiquity, Tesla isn’t the only EV manufacturer out there: in fact, a database of EV producers lists more than 200 companies from all over the world. Plus, the cost of these electric cars is becoming increasingly more competitive vis-a-vis their gas-powered counterparts.
Tesla’s stock went up almost 6 percent this week — an all-time high for the automaker — after it reported strong sales for its Model S and Model X vehicles. Concurrently, competing automaker Ford — one of the consistently leading automakers in the world — saw shares dip to 3 percent at the end of a weak first quarter. As a result, Tesla’s market value is now at $48 billion compared to Ford’s $45 billion — making Tesla the most valuable U.S. automaker according to stock market standards.
Tesla overtaking Ford’s stock market value is a remarkable achievement, especially since Tesla was only founded in 2003. Ford, on the other hand, is a 114-year-old company. Another major U.S. automobile manufacturer, General Motors (GM), is also well over 100 years old and is valued at around $50.8 billion — a benchmark Tesla could be fast-approaching.
It could be argued that Tesla’s strong numbers are largely being driven by the company’s potential. This year, Tesla is preparing for the launch of its $35,000 Model 3 electric vehicle (EV). Demand for the new model is strong–and with consistent reports ensuring the company’s timely delivery of the product.
More Than An Automaker
It’s also worth noting that despite Tesla’s unprecedented success in the automotive industry, the company is actually a lot more than than an car manufacturer. That being said, comparing Tesla to companies that only concern themselves with vehicles “apples to apples” might be a little misleading. The work they do at the “gigafactory” goes beyond designing cars — even electric ones.
As explained in their mission statement:
The gigafactory will also produce battery packs intended for use in stationary storage, helping to improve robustness of the electrical grid, reduce energy costs for businesses and residences, and provide a backup supply of power.
Following CEO Elon Musk’s vision, the goal is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. To that end, all their efforts are focused on developing the company to further achieve — by leaps and bounds, it seems — a strong focus on energy innovation, technology, and design.
When it comes to electric vehicles (EVs), it’s hard to beat what Tesla has to offer. But Lucid Motors is evidently up to the challenge.
On March 15, the company unveiled its latest model, the Lucid Air — a 1,000 horsepower luxury EV with a 507-km (315-mile) range that will cost upwards of $100,000. A lower-end model, with a 400 horsepower output and a range of 386 km (240 miles) starting at $52,500, will also be available. In contrast, Tesla’s Model S is priced at $71,200.
The EV also features automated driving systems designed to increase the safety and comfort of the driver. The Lucid Air is just one of the many self-driving cars in production as car manufacturers seek to change the way we drive.
Production is slated for late 2018 at the company’s manufacturing facility in Casa Grande, Arizona, just in time for Lucid Motor’s plans to introduce their EV in China, where they expect to see a rise in EV adoption as the country works towards strengthening emission standards.
Despite its potential to take Tesla head on, Lucid CTO Peter Rawlinson told Business Insider that Lucid Air is more likely to compete with luxury coupes like the Audi A6, the BMW 6 series, and the Mercedes-Benz CLS class.
The Future of EVs
Despite all the buzz surrounding the rise of EV adoption and its significant growth rate around the world, there are still only a handful of companies willing to take on Tesla — a brand now considered the benchmark of battery-powered automobilies. Tesla has played a major role in advocating for EVs as a way to combat climate change by reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions.
A company called Wright Electric made a presentation this week at the Tech Crunch Y Combinator Demo Day showing off a plan to design and develop a 150-seat commercial aircraft that operates completely (or at least partially) on electric power. Wright’s core is comprised by a team that was formerly working with NASA to investigate electric aircraft viability. Other design team members also have strong aviation backgrounds coming from Boeing and Cessna.
According to Wright Electric’s blog, its first step is to retrofit a Piper Cherokee into a flying testbed aircraft. Wright hopes to secure funding to prove its concept and then plans to build a nine-seat commercial aircraft that flies without jet fuel.
Fast-forwarding several years — and through layers of red tape in the government approval process — Wright envisions its 150-seat planes replacing the stalwart Boeing 737 on short-haul routes such as NYC to Boston. The BBC says Wright has the interest of European low-cost carrier EasyJet, which hopes for electric flights from London to Paris within ten years. The airline told the BBC, “EasyJet has had discussions with Wright Electric and is actively providing an airline operator’s perspective on the development of this exciting technology.”
The Road to Clean Flight
Apart from employee salary and the airplanes themselves, fuel is the top expense at most airlines. Alternative methods of powering planes aren’t really anything new, and other electric or hybrid concepts have come and gone. Airbus created its E-Fan aircraft to explore the realm of possibility of electric aircraft. Although it’s been successful in the form of a tiny plane with a solo pilot, Airbus has since realized a hybrid version of the plane — equipped with both electric and internal combustion engines — is more viable.
Wright has said it may end up with a hybrid system as well, depending how available battery technology progresses in the nest few years. But there can be no doubt that airlines will do whatever is reasonable and ethically possible to reduce operating costs.
Over the past few years, several airlines have even implemented alternative biofuels to power their jets on select flights. In 2016, United Airlines launched an initiative to use biofuels on every flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to San Francisco (SFO). Alaska Airlines has experimented with a sustainable biofuel based on leftover limbs and branches from the Pacific Northwest timber industry.
How much battery power would it take to power a plane for a 300-mile flight? The problems with batteries on aircraft have been well-publicized, from the fires on the early Boeing 787s, to bulk lithium-ion battery shipments on UPS. Is it possible? Yes. But ten years seems a bit too ambitious when they don’t even have a conceptual plane flying. Their mindset toward eliminating or reducing jet fuel use is commendable, and the reduction in jet fuel use would be beneficial to the environment.
Hyundai’s FE (short for Future Eco) Fuel Cell, slated for 2018, aims to be the future of SUVs. It will run on Hyundai’s improved hydrogen fuel cell technology and is a zero-emission vehicle, promising 30 percent greater energy density than the Tucson Fuel Cell. This futuristic-looking SUV is designed with a clean, flowing look that’s inspired by water, according to Hyundai. On the inside, it has internal air humidifiers that can recycle some of its water emissions within the cabin’s atmosphere. Plus, it has a trunk that can stow and charge an electric scooter.
Bentley EXP 12 Speed 6e
This one’s a comeback concept. Initially unveiled by Bentley at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, the EXP 12 Speed 6e is probably one of the fanciest EV concepts out there. That’s to be expected with British manufacturer Bentley, of course. This elegant two-seater has a better battery than its predecessor, cameras for side mirrors, and no roof — making it perfect for a grand touring experience.
Lexus LS 500h
Here’s another luxurious-looking sedan. Though not an electric car, the 2018 Lexus LS 500h makes the case for a hybrid large sedan, which is cleaner but packs the same powertrain found in the 2018 LC 500h sports coupe. It can run on pure electric power for a considerable distance.
Renault Zoe E-Sport
There’s the regular Zoe, and then there’s the E-Sport. Both are EVs from Renault, but the E-Sport is built to wow your racing genes. It has 460 bhp courtesy of its monstrous 450 kg battery, boosting this four-wheel drive EV’s performance. To keep its weight down to 1,400 kg (3,086 lb), the E-Sport has a carbonfiber body. This working concept is intended to maintain “Renault’s commitment to the ongoing development of electric vehicles.”
The GT by Mercedes-AMG is another high-performance hybrid car concept. The renowned car manufacturer is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a concept car that has a Formula 1-derived 805-hp hybrid powertrain. “With the Mercedes-AMG GT concept, we are giving a preview of our third completely autonomously developed sports car,” Tobias Moers, chairman of Mercedes-AMG, said during the unveiling. “With our AMG GT concept, that means a combination of an ultramodern V8 petrol engine and a high-performance electric motor.”
Singapore is set to become home to one of the world’s coolest supercars, and it’s electric. Vanda Electrics presented a model of its Dendrobium electric car this week at the Geneva Motor Show — and it looked really super. But this EV isn’t super just based on appearance. It packs the specs to back it up.
Named after a Singaporean orchid, the Dendrobium was “inspired by nature and rooted in technology.” The concept was first announced in February 2016, and some of the vehicle’s previously announced specs were changed as it moved from the drawing board to today’s unveiling at the Geneva Motor Show. However, it remains a highly impressive electric car with a top speed of 320 km/h (199 mph) and an acceleration time of 0 to 100 km/h (0 to 62 mph) in 2.7 seconds.
The inside of the Dendrobium houses two inboard electric motors per axle, with a front-side differential (a device that splits an engine’s torque) and single-speed gearbox. At the rear, it has a multi-speed gearbox and differential. No details have been released yet about the capacity of its batteries and its power range.
Electric Cars Are the Future
The future of land transportation will likely be cars that are autonomous and clean, running on renewables like electric batteries or solar power. Tesla is a leader in the growing industry, but they aren’t the only ones in it. Almost all of today’s car manufacturers, including bigwigs like Volkswagen, Ford, Mitsubishi, and Honda, have electric car projects in the works or already in production.
The market for electric vehicles is growing and that trend is expected to continue in the coming years. As their battery costs go down, electric vehicles will become as affordable as their gas-powered counterparts. Indeed, the cost of electric vehicle batteries has already gone down by 80 percent since 2001. Tesla’s Model 3 electric vehicle is moving toward a $35,000 price tag, and while that’s still not as cheap as most comparable gas-powered cars, it’s also not as expensive as electric vehicles used to be.
As countries push for more electric cars, the number of gas-powered vehicles on the roads will drop. This will reduce the number of carbon emission sources on our planet and help in the battle against man-made climate change. While not every EV can be as super as the Dendrobium, each one brings us one step closer to a future free of fossil fuels.
Part of Elon Musk’s grand plan of making the world a greener place and addressing the damage caused by climate change is ensuring that people have access to renewable technology. This means both introducing the technology and bringing the cost down so that people can actually have viable alternatives to traditional, carbon-emitting sources.
Tesla’s Gigafactory was a big part of this plan. Once the factory became operational, Tesla was gunning to reduce their battery cost by 30 percent. Now, a recent announcement from the company hints that it might be possible to bring it down even more. In a promotional video displayed in some stores, it seems that the factory was able to achieve a “35 percent reduction in battery cost.”
No numbers have been officially released, but given the small bits of information that have gradually come out to the public, it seems that Tesla is definitely getting closer to that $35,000 price tag that the company is targeting for its Model 3.
Since 2001, battery cost for electric vehicles (EVs) has been reduced by 80 percent. Even so, the current cost of today’s long-range EVs is still not very affordable for most people. To be able to bring down the overall cost, the price of battery cells and packs must significantly be lowered.
Early in 2016, Tesla said that price point was already below $190/kWh, prior to the Gigafactory starting production. With the factory now up and running, and the Tesla/Panasonic partnership already starting production for the 2170 battery cell, they could be able pull down the cost to $125/kWh.
The goal would be to reach $100/kWh. At this rate, EVs will be on par with gas-powered vehicles — and chances are, people will be more likely to adopt the renewable technology if they can do so without having to spend more money.
Electric vehicles have been growing in popularity among fleet operators, and soon, Beijing may find itself earning a reputation as the hub of the electric taxi. The Chinese city is home to one of the most important taxi fleets in the world, numbering around 70,000, and under a new program for air pollution control that will begin implementation this year, those taxis will be going electric.
According to a report by National Business Daily, the transition to electric cars will cover all new taxis registered in the region. “All newly added or replaced taxis in the city of Beijing will be converted from gasoline to electricity, according to a draft work program on air pollution control for Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, and surrounding areas in 2017,” the report reads.
The city isn’t the first to push for electric taxis. Previously, Shenzhen and Taiyuan both announced similar policies for their taxis, but the move is significant for a municipality of over 20 million people.
Saving Money and the Environment
The total fleet conversion is expected to cost around 9 billion yuan ($1.3 billion USD), but the cost is worth it. Electric cars will potentially save taxi companies from gas expenses and could lower maintenance costs. They will also help save the city from pollution, as Beijing’s populace is exposed to hazardous air quality on a semi-regular basis.
The move to electric cars isn’t cheap, though, which is why Liu Jinliang, chairman of Geely’s ride-hailing arm Caocao, hopes the government will provide subsidies to taxi companies. National Passenger Cars Association secretary-general Cui Dongshu also hopes that the government will speed up the construction of charging facilities.
This new mandate, coupled with the Chinese government’s recent relaxation of restrictions on car manufacturing in an attempt to draw more electric vehicles, demonstrates the country’s seriousness in investing in electric cars. According to Electrek, the nation is now the world’s biggest electric vehicle market, with a fleet of over 600,000 electric cars — more than both the U.S. and European markets combined. Soon, they’ll be adding another 70,000 to that total.
A new dynamic charging technology could give unlimited range to electric vehicles (EVs).
The term “dynamic charging” refers to a technology that can both supply power and perform charging while driving. The system was created by Honda, who claims that they have already developed a system ready for testing which they plan to demonstrate at WCX 17 SAE World Congress Experience next month.
Their dynamic charging system apparently has a charging power of 180 kW (DC 600 V, 330 A) while driving at a speed of 155 km/h (96 mph).
The concept is great in theory, but the biggest barrier here is cost. It won’t be cheap to build the infrastructure required for such a system. Dynamic charging requires charging hardware to be built into or over the road —essentially creating a track that will wirelessly charge EVs that drive over it. Nevertheless, this kind of technology could be applied to highways to increase on-road time of EVs and allow them to cover longer distances.
While dynamic charging isn’t an essential part of the EV revolution now, it could be a critical element for adoption down the line. So expect to see more trials and studies aiming to refine the technology for future use.
Every year, Consumer Reports releases its auto brand report. And every year, European and Asian car manufacturers tend to dominate the top 10. This year, however, an American brand has earned a spot near the top: Tesla.
On the 2017 edition of Consumer Report’s prestigious list, Tesla ranks eighth. This marks the first time Tesla has made the list at all, and it managed to beat out all other American car brands thanks to its improved reliability and high level of owner satisfaction. The company was also recognized for having the highest road test score.
While Consumer Reports has cited Tesla’s Model S sedan as the best car they have ever road tested, the vehicle’s reliability was an issue. This led to the publication withdrawing its “recommended” rating for the car back in 2015, but after updates by Tesla, the rating was reinstated in 2016. That same year, the publication reviewed the Model X SUV, again commending its performance but noting it was disappointed by the vehicle’s functionality and reliability.
Tesla’s innovation in the transportation industry is not only setting new records for quality and performance, it’s also making it possible for more people to invest in cars that are better for the environment. However, everyone knows by now that Tesla’s game plan isn’t just centered on perfecting the technology behind its electric vehicles (EVs). The company’s cars are part and parcel of a larger vision with a strong focus on sustainability.
Tesla’s investments in renewable energy and partnerships forged with like-minded companies since speaks volumes about where the Elon Musk-led brand is headed. Since 2015, Tesla has been invested in energy with the production of the Powerwall and Powerpack, both of which continue to see growth and application across various scales, from residential installations to industrial. Last year, the company added solar roofs to its repertoire, and they hope to seamlessly integrate those with their battery storage system.
As Musk himself has said, “The point of all this was, and remains, accelerating the advent of sustainable energy, so that we can imagine far into the future and life is still good.”
Tesla’s latest earnings report is out, and all in all, things are looking up for the company. It reported better earnings for 2016’s fourth fiscal quarter (Q4), with a 73 percent increase from the same quarter in 2015.
Tesla also reported record-high car orders for both the Model S and Model X. Part of this success may have to do with a new way of selling electric cars that Tesla has been quietly trying out in Asia. Jon McNeill, president of sales and services at Tesla, said during the fourth-quarter earnings call that they want to bundle insurance and maintenance into future pricing for their cars.
“It takes into account not only the Autopilot safety features but also the maintenance cost of the car,” he said according to Business Insider. “It’s our vision in the future we could offer a single price for the car, maintenance, and insurance.”
A Vision of the Future?
According to Tesla’s Q4 earnings report, all vehicles in production “have the hardware necessary for full self-driving.” Advances like this, together with Tesla’s latest improvements in its Autopilot software, are securing the future of self-driving vehicles, and now, the company is also changing the car insurance landscape. According to a report from Bank of America and Merrill Lynch, as self-driving cars get better and decrease the number of accidents on the roads, insurance premiums are expected to drop.
Tesla’s bundle pricing is meant to adapt to that future, and it adds another unique selling point for the company, whose car sales don’t follow the usual heavy-on-maintenance pricing models of other car manufacturers. “If we find that the insurance providers are not matching the insurance proportionate to the risk of the car then if we need to we will in-source it,” CEO Elon Musk said during the earnings call. “But I think we’ll find that insurance providers do adjust the insurance cost proportionate to the risk of a Tesla.”
By 2025, all of the cars on Norway’s roads could be electric. That’s just eight years away—and if the target seems a little ambitious, it should be noted that the country is already well on its way toward this goal. Electric vehicle (EV) sales already comprise 37 percent of Norway’s car market.
Norway has been incentivizing the use of zero emission vehicles since the 1990s. These include exempting EVs from value added taxes (VAT), thus making conventional automobiles significantly more expensive in the country, low annual road tax, and no purchase and import taxes. EVs also park for free in city centers, get access to bus lanes, and don’t have to pay road tolls.
The overall signal from the majority of political parties is that it should always be economically beneficial to choose zero and low emission cars over high emission cars […] The Norwegian Parliament have decided on a goal that all new cars sold by 2025 should be zero (electric or hydrogen) or low (plug-in hybrids) emission. This is a very ambitious but feasible goal with the right policy measures. The Parliament will reach this goal with a strengthened green tax system based on the polluter pays principle, not a ban.
Towards the end of 2016, the country already had 100,000 zero-emission cars on the road. According to projections, this figure will quadruple by the end of the decade. Considering the country only has a population of 5.2 million, this number is already a significant chunk of the country.
Around the world, similar efforts are paving the way for a zero-emission future. While not as bullish as Norway, other countries are working toward creating similar policies and infrastructure that will support EVs.
Sales for EVs have also reached a milestone in the Netherlands, with traditional petrol brands announcing plans to build infrastructure that will support the charging needs of the growing EV market. This is in addition to the Dutch Parliament considering calling a ban on gas and diesel vehicles, in line with the International Zero-Emission vehicle (ZEV) Alliance, which is a commitment to make all car sales sustainable and eco-friendly by 2050. Joining them in this initiative are ten other North American states, the UK, and Germany, which recently passed a resolution that calls for a ban on internal combustion engines by 2030.
“If the Paris agreement to curb climate-warming emissions is to be taken seriously, no new combustion engine cars should be allowed on roads after 2030,” said Greens party lawmaker Oliver Krischer to Der Spiegel. Coupled with car manufacturers’ efforts to bring the cost of EVs down, which would ultimately make them accessible to more people, a zero-free emission future might actually be possible, not just for Norway, but for the world.
Tesla President Jon McNeill just hinted at some news that is sure to please handy Tesla owners and independent vehicle repair shops alike. McNeil stated that policies that would make it easier for Tesla’s cars to be repaired are “in the works.” He left this simple message in response to a comment on a Tesla forum regarding the company eliminating the software performance reductions that were put in place to reduce wear and tear of certain components.
It seems that Tesla is making it easier for individuals and independent body shops to get access to the information necessary to conduct work on the company’s line of vehicles. Such information includes repair manuals, service documents, wiring diagrams, diagnostic codes, and part information.
Currently, those in need of that privileged information have to pay a high premium ranging from $30/hr up to $3,000/year. Repair shops fortunate enough to be certified as a Telsa Approved Body Shop do not have to pay these fees, but the process to become certified is an ordeal in and of itself.
The change has been spurred by legislation in Massachusetts stating that owners have a “Right to Repair,” which requires manufacturers to provide all repair shops with the same information that they give to dealer shops. Similar bills have been introduced in other states as well. Tesla seems to be joining the other manufacturers who have agreed to meet these guidelines so as to avoid a patchwork of regulation across the country.
In an effort to stop the outflow of investments, and at the same time, reduce carbon emissions, China’s National Development and Reform Commission and Ministry of Commerce have announced a new policy that will relax the country’s protectionist laws for electric vehicles — subject to public approval.
The global superpower has laws in force that require foreign automobile companies wanting to establish a Chinese production base to form partnerships with the local ones, and divulge their manufacturing process. This discourages external competition and protects the domestic manufacturers. But apparently China can’t produce enough EVs by itself, so it’s bringing in foreign companies.
As it stands, the government is rallying for its citizens to make the switch to EVs. China wants to have 5 million EVs rolled out on the roads by 2020, as a measure to combat its massive carbon footprint.
This is backed up by studies which show that “electrification” of automobiles is a huge step towards being green. One of which shows that an across-the-table use of EVs reduces greenhouse gasses by 45 to 77 percent, carbon emissions by 80 to 100%, and air quality.
For a country that has been struggling with carbon emissions like China, EVs could be instrumental in achieving its goals. The relaxation of laws cultivates competition, which hopefully results in more EVs on the road, and more efficient models in the future.
The company’s Air EV boasts some pretty impressive specs: zero to 60 in 2.5 seconds, built-in autonomous-ready features, and an unrivaled long-range driving capability of 400 miles on a single charge. All in all, Lucid is offering a luxurious electric sedan that could take on even gas-powered vehicles like the BMW 7 Series or the Mercedes-Benz S-Class with a six-figure price tag to match.
The Air EV comes standard with a 100kWh battery pack, but a larger, 130kWh battery developed by Samsung will be an option. The additional 30 percent capacity puts the Air EV ahead of the current EV frontrunner, Tesla, which offers a 100kWh battery for its Model S and Model X.
Right now, Lucid Motors may hold the distinction of having the longest driving range and battery capacity, but the Air EV won’t be going into production until 2018, which gives other carmakers the opportunity to overtake their specs. Faraday Future, for example, is currently working with LG Chem to improve their battery technology, while luxury automakers Mercedes and Audi have electric car concepts that feature fairly impressive battery capacity.