Soon, drivers will only have the option of using electric cars in Paris as authorities in the French capital have announced plans to remove all gas- and diesel-powered cars by 2030.
“This is about planning for the long term with a strategy that will reduce greenhouse gases,” transport official Christophe Najdovski told France Info radio, according to a report from Reuters. “Transport is one of the main greenhouse gas producers…so we are planning an exit from combustion engine vehicles, or fossil-energy vehicles, by 2030.”
Diesel-powered vehicles are actually set to be outlawed in Paris before their gas-powered equivalents. The deadline for those cars is 2024, which is when the city will play host to the Olympic games.
In a statement announcing the transition to only electric cars in Paris, officials made sure to clarify that the removal of all other types of cars by 2030 should not be interpreted as a ban but a “trajectory.” However, they did not clarify what, if any, penalties would be faced by those who didn’t meet the goal.
While fossil fuel emissions affect all of France and, indeed, the whole planet, Paris is a hotspot for particle pollution. City officials are often forced to issue temporary bans on gas- and diesel-powered cars in response to particularly bad surges.
The U.S. has yet to make any sweeping statements about when similar changes might be made, but the state of California is already well ahead of the curve. Last month, reports surfaced that officials were investigating whether a ban on non-electric cars could help the state reach its lofty goals with regards to climate change.
The days of gas- and diesel-powered cars are seemingly numbered, and many governments appear eager to take a proactive approach to the transition. The real question is which automakers are going to be able to keep up and emerge as leaders in the age of the electric car.
Oxford city centre is considering becoming the first Zero Emissions Zone (ZEZ) in the world. The proposed plan would call for non-electric vehicles to be banned entirely from the Oxford city center by 2035. The scheme would unroll gradually with benchmarks to be met every five years starting in 2020 when the innermost ring of the zone would exclude all cars, buses, and taxis that run on fossil fuels. The gradual expansion of the ZEZ would allow the city to budget by backloading most the cost to the second half of the next 18 years.
The aim of the ZEZ, which is still just a proposal, is to cut levels of harmful nitrogen dioxide (NO2) to near-background levels. The Oxford ZEZ is part of the larger plan throughout the country designed to tackle illegal levels of air pollution; many streets in Oxford are past the legal limit set by the EU for Nitrogen Dioxide. The ban would reduce those levels by as much as a 74 percent.
Challenges for the ZEZ
While public response is more positive than not, many are concerned about the costs, especially to small businesses. According to the Oxford Mail, adjusting for the ZEZ would cost city councils, bus operators, haulage companies, and taxi firms approximately £14 million ($18.5 million). Anyone violating the ban with a non-electric vehicle in the ZEZ will probably be fined about £60 ($79) automatically.
It’s worth noting that whether people are eager to accept the Oxford ZEZ or not, the national government has already announced that the UK will ban the sale of all fossil fuel cars starting in 2040; the final roll-out of the ZEZ will be only five years before that anyway.
Aeronautics giant Boeing is acquiring Aurora Flight Sciences, a company focused on the development of autonomous electric aircraft. The move confirms Boeing’s commitment to bringing their first self-flying commercial passenger vehicle to reality.
The acquisition will bring together the expertise of a proven autonomous electric aircraft maker that has built and operated more than 30 pilot-free vehicles in their 20 years of existence and the financial muscle of Boeing, which has been invested in aeronautics for more than a century. This melding could very well lead to the first fully autonomous electric aircraft.
The development of flying vehicles is likely to continue trending upward, especially now that Boeing has been announced as the sponsorship of a $2 million contest to deliver the next generation of flying machines. Airbus, another aviation giant, is also working on VTOL taxis, which could be flying high as soon as next year, so we shouldn’t have long to wait before personal transportation gets a major lift skyward.
Two major airlines have taken a startup under their wings in pursuit of cleaner air travel. Boeing and JetBlue were revealed to be backing Zunum Aero back in April, and now, the company has set a target release date for their small hybrid-electric airliner: 2022.
A pair of electric motors will power the first aircraft Zunum Aero is developing, and the plane will be outfitted with a gas engine and an electrical generator in addition to electric batteries. The current design for the plane is based around a lone pilot at the controls, but eventually, the company plans for their aircraft to be piloted remotely.
Zunum Aero’s first hybrid-electric aircraft is expected to be capable of carrying up to 12 passengers a distance of 1,126 kilometers (700 miles). Current battery technology can only store enough power to cover around 160 kilometers (100 miles), but as this tech improves, the startup intends for their planes to rely less and less on their generators. By 2030, they expect to have a plane that can carry 50 passengers up to 1,609 kilometers (1,000 miles).
Just like the growing popularity of electric cars, air travel that doesn’t rely on traditional fuel sources could have a positive impact on the environment, but that’s not the only reason airlines are interested in electric-powered planes — these crafts have the potential to make short-haul flights more financially viable.
“We’re getting airline pricing down on a small plane and doing it for short distances,” said Zunum Aero co-founder Matt Knapp in an interview with Reuters. “That kind of aircraft doesn’t currently exist.”
Electric planes could revolutionize the way we fly in places where regional air travel is common, such as North America. Zunum Aero claims that around 96 percent of U.S. air traffic uses just one percent of the country’s airports. Smaller electric airliners could utilize smaller airports, cutting travel time and eliminating the hassle of undergoing the in-depth security procedures necessary at larger terminals.
However, Zunum Aero will face significant obstacles as they attempt to get their planes in the sky. The company’s batteries and backup generators will have to undergo stringent testing if they are to pass muster with authorities, and the startup may be beat to market by competitors also working on short-distance electric planes, such as Wright Electric.
Major car manufacturers are now investing in electric vehicles, and one of their primary areas of focus has been the development of fast-charging batteries to service these cars. At present, lithium ion batteries remain the go-to option for EVs, but the amount of power they provide and their charging capacity leaves much to be desired.
In 2008, the Japanese company pioneered SCiB rechargeable battery cells, and now, they claim to have developed even better SCiB batteries that can give EVs a 320-kilometer (almost 200-mile) range after just six minutes of ultra-fast charging.
The secret to both rapid charging and preserving a battery’s robustness is the material used in its anodes — a part of a battery through which electrons pass.
In their 2008 SCiBs, Toshiba used anodes made from lithium titanium oxide. These new generation SCiBs have anodes made from titanium niobium oxide, which Toshiba said in a press release maintains 90 percent of the battery’s capacity even after 5,000 charging cycles.
On Par With Gas
While Toshiba’s new SCiB cells could definitely improve an EV’s battery life and performance, Toshiba doesn’t define what sort of “high power” charger they would require. Tesla Superchargers can supposedly pump as much as 135 kW of power, and the Model S has a 85 kWh battery with a 426-kilometer (265-mile) range. Would Toshiba’s batteries require a charger more powerful than that to reach full power in six minutes?
While today’s EVs are steadily increasing in power and, in some cases, can even outperform internal combustion engine cars, EV batteries still have room for improvement in terms of life and performance. Toshiba believes their new SCiB is up to the task of delivering these improvements.
“We are very excited by the potential of the new titanium niobium oxide anode and the next-generation SCiB,” Osamu Hori, director of Toshiba’s Corporate Research & Development Center, said in the press release.
“Rather than an incremental improvement, this is a game-changing advance that will make a significant difference to the range and performance of EV,” he added. “We will continue to improve the battery’s performance and aim to put the next-generation SCiBTM into practical application in fiscal year 2019.”
Electric vehicles are becoming more and more popular, and auto manufacturers are taking notice. Now, Ford has set up a group known as “Team Edison” to spearhead its efforts to carve out a place for the company in the growing EV market.
“The idea is to think big, move fast, and make quicker decisions,” said Sherif Marakby, Ford’s vice president of autonomous vehicles and electrification, in an interview with Reuters. He stated that the team “will look holistically at the electric vehicle market.”
The fact that the group has been dubbed Team Edison is a clear shot at Tesla, their main EV competition: Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla were famously embroiled in a heated rivalry stemming from the War of Currents.
Tesla has been ahead of the curve when it comes to fielding electric autos, but Ford seems to be confident that its international prominence will help it compete. Team Edison will be based in Detroit, Michigan, but is set to collaborate with EV teams situated in Europe and China.
Adapt or Die
The popularity of electric cars has been trending upward, which means established auto manufacturers will need to adopt new technologies if they want to stay relevant. A host of countries have pledged to ban the sale of gas- and diesel-powered passenger vehicles in the not-too-distant future, so it’s high time that these companies prepare for what’s coming next.
“General Motors believes in an all-electric future,” Mark Reuss, GM Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain EVP, said in a press release. “Although that future won’t happen overnight, GM is committed to driving increased usage and acceptance of electric vehicles through no-compromise solutions that meet our customers’ needs.”
China has announced that automakers that want to manufacture fossil fuel-powered cars first must produce low-emission and zero-emission cars to attain a new energy vehicle score. The new rule applies to companies that make or import more than 30,000 fossil fuel cars annually. This means that by 2019, carmakers must be producing a fleet with a total of 10% or more electric vehicles, and 12% or more by 2020.
China’s new rule is part of an aggressive plan to phase out fossil fuel vehicles, a goal it shares with the UK and France, which both plan to ban sales of fossil fuel cars by 2040. A recent report indicates that China’s auto market will be all electric by 2030. While the country’s original plan was to ban fossil fuel vehicles outright — which was criticized as too ambitious — this revised version of the plan is aggressive, yet workable, allowing automakers time to adjust to the changing market.
Reducing Emissions Worldwide
This is part of a larger effort on China’s part to reduce carbon emissions and fossil fuel dependency. In 2017 alone, China has surpassed many of its own ambitious environmental goals. By August, the country had already reached its 2020 solar energy installation target, reasserting itself as the largest producer of solar power on earth. In June, an entire region of China ran on 100 percent renewables for seven days. China has begun to build a large-scale carbon capture and storage plant — the first of eight — as part of its attempts to reduce its carbon footprint. The nation has invested more into renewables than any other country in the world, including the US, and has begun to reap the benefits, turning around many of its pollution problems.
The move toward electric vehicles is global. California is considering a ban on the sale of fossil fuel vehicles, and when it comes to technology, California is a national trendsetter for the US. Research shows electric vehicles will dominate the European market by 2035. India will sell only electric cars within the next 13 years, gutting emissions significantly. This latest development is merely the next link in a long, global chain.
Electric cars and plug-in hybrids are amongst the fastest-selling late model used cars in the U.S., according to a new study from iSeeCars. Of the top 10 fastest-selling used cars, six don’t rely on gasoline. The models earning the distinction of cracking the top 10 are Fiat’s 500e (#1), BMW’s i3 (#2), Toyota’s Prius Plug-in Hybrid (#4), Nissan’s Leaf (#6), Ford’s Fusion Energi (#9), and Tesla’s Model S (#10).
The average price of a one- to three-year-old car is $21,000, and Phong Ly, CEO of iSeeCars, speculates that consumers are more willing to take a chance on used electric models thanks to their comparatively lower price. Some of these EVs and hybrids even have price points that are less than half the average, like the 500e’s average of $9,055.
A used Tesla Model S, on the other hand, will cost anywhere from $40,000 to $80,000, but sales are still doing well thanks to other factors. “Tesla’s popularity, along with the scarcity of the Model S on the used car market, is probably driving prices up while cars continue to sell quickly,” said Ly. Tesla’s recent decision to discontinue the cheapest Model S option probably isn’t helping either.
Kalashnikov, part of the larger Russian company Rostec, debuted their vehicle earlier this week to show off its design and capabilities. As reported by Popular Mechanics, its body consists of a simple metal frame with a set of eight rotors used to lift it off the ground. A pair of joysticks are used to control the craft, while a set batteries found beneath the rider’s seat provide the necessary power. In the future, a shell may be built around the frame that keeps the rotors out of harm’s way, but still exposed enough to operate properly.
Using electricity makes it lighter than a craft that relies on gasoline or a diesel engine, but as noted by DefenseNews, the batteries probably only enable it to fly for about 30 minutes before it needs to land. This time limit may place unwanted restrictions on how much it can carry, or what tasks it could perform.
One potential use would be scouting for the military. It could also be used to make deliveries. As of now, its purpose is mostly speculative, as Kalashnikov has yet to specify an end goal. For now, we’ll have to wait and see where the flying car’s development takes it.
Elon Musk stirred up some friendly competition via Twitter when he responded to a USA Today article discussing Daimler’s bet on electric vehicle (EV) technology. Musk said that the “$1 billion bet” the company was putting into taking on Tesla was not enough for “a giant” like Daimler and that it was “off by a zero.”
That’s not a lot of money for a giant like Daimler/Mercedes. Wish they’d do more. Off by a zero.
Daimler didn’t take issue with Musk’s criticism. In fact, they pointed out that the headline of the piece was missing the point, and that they’re investing that extra zero, more than $10 billion, into the next generation EV, plus another billion into batteries:
When a Twitter user pointed out that Musk wasn’t really the force behind Daimler’s $10 billion investment, and that the investment preceded the criticism, Musk responded by joking that he actually had caused the investment:
Officials in California are considering whether a ban on the sale of gas- and diesel-powered cars could help the state meet its climate goals. However, this policy is at least a decade away from being enforced, if it does come to pass.
“There are people who believe, including [some of those] who work for me, that you could stop all sales of new internal-combustion cars by 2030,” said Mary Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board, in an interview with Bloomberg. “Some people say 2035, some people say 2040…it’s awfully hard to predict any of that with precision, but it doesn’t appear to be out of the question.”
However, California’s decision to ban the sale of new gas- and diesel-powered cars would arguably be just as effective on the auto industry as many of the countries contemplating similar action, because of the its already-existent market size. More than 2 million passenger vehicles were registered in the state over the course of 2016 — more than were registered across all of France in the same timespan.
Moving away from fossil fuel vehicles will certainly be a great boon for the environment. The question is lies in how the auto industry is going to make electric cars cheap enough to spur adoption before these proposed bans are put in place.
Wright Electric’s idea is to develop an all-electric aircraft that’s capable of ferrying passengers for short flights —like those from New York to Boston, London to Paris, or Seoul to Jeju. This goal aligns with those of low-cost British airline easyJet, and today, the company announced a partnership between the two organizations.
“A collaboration with U.S. company Wright Electric will support the goal for short-haul flights to be operated by all-electric planes,” easyJet noted in a press release. “Wright Electric has set itself the challenge of building an all-electric commercial passenger jet capable of flying passengers across easyJet’s U.K. and European network within a decade.”
Short-haul flights account for 30 percent of all flights and 50 percent of regional flights. As Engler previously pointed out, that’s a $26 billion market. Electric airplanes that wouldn’t need jet fuel would mean even cheaper flights for a budget airline like easyJet.
“For the first time in my career, I can envisage a future without jet fuel, and we are excited to be part of it,” easyJet CEO Carolyn McCall told Electrek. “It is now more a matter of when, not if, a short-haul electric plane will fly.”
Back in March, Wright Electric revealed their plans for an all-electric commercial aircraft called the Wright One. The plane would be capable of ferrying 150 people on flights under 480 kilometers (300 miles). That’s roughly equivalent to the abilities of a Boeing 737. The only difference would be that the Wright One is battery powered.
Although air transport contributes only 9 percent of carbon emissions in the U.S., having all-electric airplanes for short-haul flights would be most welcome. In the fight to decrease our global carbon footprint, we’ll take all the wins we can get.
Wang Chuanfu, chairman of Chinese automaker BYD Co., Ltd. said Thursday of last week that he expects all cars in China to be “electrified” — i.e., either full-electric or mild hybrid vehicles — by 2030. This timetable for a shift to so-called new-energy vehicles (NEVs) seems fairly aggressive, but considering current developments in China in favor of electric vehicles (EVs), it seems much more realistic.
China’s also been very keen on electric cars, with plans for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles to comprise over a fifth of the country’s car sales by 2025. Speaking at an event in Shenzen, Wang stated that they’re confident in making this timeline work. “We are very confident about all the timetables (to eliminate fossil fuel cars) and we think it will happen earlier than expected,” he said, according to Reuters. “Various governments have announced timetables to end the sale of fossil fuel cars and this is putting pressure on everyone else.”
An Electrified Future
China isn’t the only country that wants to do away with petrol and diesel-based internal combustion vehicles. Five nations, including Germany, Norway, and France, have formalized their plans to do so and China may soon be following suit. Apart from local automakers like BYD, China might soon receive a portion of their EVs from Tesla, as Elon Musk’s company plans to build a Gigafactory in the region.
With all of these developments, “It’s certainly possible for all cars an automaker sells in China and around the world to be electrified in some way by 2030,” James Chao, Asia-Pacific head of consultancy for Shanghai-based IHS Markit Automotive, told Reuters.
As more automakers invest in EVs, as well as hydrogen fuel cell technology, and charging infrastructure continues to improve, these predictions aren’t at all surprising. With cheaper EVs in the mix, like Tesla’s Model 3, Volkswagen’s electric hatchback, and Nissan’s 2018 Leaf, more wide-scale electric car adoption seems inevitable.
British technology company Dyson has already applied their design sensibilities to products like vacuum cleaners, hand driers, and bladeless fans. Now, they’re set to take a stab at the electric car, according to company founder James Dyson.
Dyson announced plans to invest $1.34 billion into the development of an electric car and an additional $1.34 billion into the solid-state batteries that will be used to power it. The company expects to produce their first vehicle by 2020.
Dyson’s electric car project has been in development for the last two and a half years, and currently, 400 engineers are working on the vehicle. The company has chosen to go public now because keeping the project a secret was making it difficult to secure deals with parts suppliers and hire specialized employees.
In keeping with the company’s eco friendly attitude, the hope is that this project will help address the problem of air pollution — something that Dyson has been committed to for decades, according to an email he sent out to employees today.
Rumors began to circulate that Dyson was intending to move into the electric vehicle market when the company received a government grant to finance research into battery technologies in 2016.
As traditional vehicles give way to their electric counterparts, we’re seeing a number of entities attempt to make their way into the auto market. Apple has long been rumored to have an interest in building their own vehicle, although recently those plans seem to have taken a backseat to other projects. Meanwhile, Google is forging ahead with their self-driving cars, despite some setbacks.
Of course, Tesla remains in pole position when it comes to electric vehicles, beating their biggest competition to market by several years. As the company continues to expand their operations, their established rivals and newcomers like Dyson are going to have even more difficulty catching up.
The great push to upgrade to more electric vehicle (EV) friendly infrastructure is underway. A set of photographs obtained by Electrekshow an enormous Tesla Supercharger station being built underground at the Lilacs International Commercial Centre in the Pudong district of Shanghai. The station will house 50 Superchargers, making it the largest known Supercharger station in the world.
Tesla has previously announced a goal of installing 10,000 Superchargers around the world, with 1,000 planned for China alone. Additionally, the company recently announced plans to introduce smaller Superchargers to cities to help expand the ease of owning a Tesla.
The expansion of Supercharger accessibility is one of the key factors in allowing Tesla’s influence to spread across the car buying world. As using and recharging electric vehicles becomes easier, it will also become easier for consumers to buy into the technology. Tesla is working to expand accessibility by making their cars (relatively) more affordable, like with their Model 3 offering.
More accessibility will help to expand EV adoption. And while Tesla vehicles are not currently capable of truly driverless operation, improving autonomous capabilities is one of the company’s major goals. The combination of the added safety of autonomous driving and environmental consciousness will help to usher in a new era in personal transportation.
In the past couple of years, the clean energy revolution has steadily been gaining ground. Aside from transitioning to cleaner, renewable energy sources, a number of countries are also bent on keeping their roads clean by banning combustion engine vehicles. With the transportation sector contributing roughly 15 percent of man-made carbon emissions worldwide, this is a noteworthy step. Listed according to when they made their decisions, here are five nations leading this clean energy revolution on wheels.
In case you’re double-checking if you missed the U.S. in this list, well…you didn’t. It’s still a dream. For now — or at least the next four years.
Electric cars are already poised to take over our roads, but anyone looking to buy a motorhome is still stuck with only fossil fuel-powered options. That could soon change thanks to Dethleffs.
The German motorhome manufacturer has just unveiled their e.home concept. The exterior of this futuristic RV is blanketed in 31 square meters (334 square feet) of solar panels, generating electricity to help fuel the vehicle’s electric powertrain. Its electric 80-kilowatt (107-horsepower) motor can be paired with several battery options.
According to Dethleffs, the e.home’s maximum range is 280 kilometers (174 miles) rated on the New European Driving Cycle, while an EPA rating would likely put it closer to 225 kilometers (140 miles). However, both of those ranges are set without hauling weight. Dethleffs claims a fully outfitted e-home that’s hauling weight would have an estimated range of 165 kilometers (103 miles).
The battery pack lasts for approximately 1,500 charges — about 250,000 kilometers (155,000 miles) — before needing replacement. The e-home supports both level 2 and DC fast-charging, and the solar panels provide 3 kilowatts of supplementary battery-charging electricity.
The Dethleffs e.home also maximizes efficiency by using phase-change materials to absorb heat and release it throughout the day as ambient temperatures fluctuate. Infrared panels throughout the inside of the vehicle also provide a comfortably warm atmosphere.
A Major Offender
The electric motorhome is just one example of vehicles other than cars going electric.
Indian Railways, the largest rail network in Asia, rolled out a Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU) train with a solar-paneled roof in July, and they plan to add 24 more trains to their fleet soon. The rail company estimates that they could save as many as 21,000 liters of diesel annually by attaching solar panels to six coaches on a train.
Tesla wants to bring its electric vehicles to India, and they plan to make the Model 3 their first EV in the country by 2019. CEO and founder Elon Musk mentioned it back in June of this year, and now he’s said it again. Replying to a question on Twitter, Musk explained that Tesla continues to be in “discussions” with the national government of India, the second-most populous nation on Earth.
The only difference between his June announcement and now is the focus of discussion — that is, what it is keeping Tesla from bringing their EVs sooner. Back in June, Musk said that they were asking for a “temporary relief on import penalties/restrictions” until a factory, presumably a gigafactory, is built in India.
In discussions with national govt. Just need a temporary reprieve on local content requirements until we can build a factory in India.
Now, Musk says the delay is due to difficulties with so-called local content requirements. It’s a policy that requires goods to have a certain percentage of the production process sourced from local manufacturers. Musk is asking for a temporary reprieve from this condition until a gigafactory can be built in India.
With these hurdles overcome, and the Model 3 production goals met, India could be a great market for EVs. In fact, the country already has legislation to sell only electric cars by 2030. For Tesla, getting into the Indian market before that obtains is crucial, especially with the country on its way to becoming the world’s third-largest car market by 2020.
On Thursday, 90-year-old boatmaker Hinckley Company unveiled Dasher — the world’s first fully electric luxury yacht — at the 47th Newport International Boat Show. Nicknamed after Hinckley’s first “picnic style” boat, the 8.69-meter (28.5-foot) long, fully electric vessel represents the next generation of passenger water vehicles. Clearly, we’ve come a long way from oars and sails, to coal and gas, to powerful electric motors.
“This isn’t just an existing design, where we dropped a couple of electric motors in,” Scott Bryant, director of new product development at Hinckley Co., told Bloomberg. “The boat has been designed, ground up, for electric propulsion.”
Packed with twin 80-hp electric motors powered by BMW’s 40-kilowatt-hour i3 waterproof lithium-ion batteries, rechargeable via a dual 50-Amp dock, Dasher is the lightest boat Hinckley has ever made: barely 2,950 kilograms (6,500 pounds).
In terms of price, though, it’s not so light. Cost estimates run up to $500,000 — it is a luxury yacht, after all.
The vessel promises a performance worthy of any seafarer, boasting a cruising speed of around 8.6 knots [16 kph (10 mph)] and a range of about 35 nautical miles (NM) [64 kilometers (40 miles)]. Dasher can travel up to 22 NM [40 kilometers (25 miles)] at speeds of 15.6 to 23.5 knots [29 to 43.5 kph (18 to 27 mph)].
Though it’s the first of its kind, Dasher isn’t the only electric boat. The Duffy 18 Snug Harbor is an electric vessel designed for casual cruising, while several companies have designed their own experimental or promotional high-speed electric boats. On the larger scale, China even has plans to build an all-electric warship.
A future in which all boats (and land-based vehicles) are powered by electricity doesn’t seem that far off, and Hinckley is excited to make that transition.
“I don’t believe that Dasher will be our only electric-propulsion product. I think what we’re looking to do is to incorporate a bunch of the features that we’re introducing on Dasher into our other products,” said Bryant. “There’s so much going on in the automotive space, and just in the energy-storage space right now, that to not be a part of it is just silly.”
A new study by researchers from the International Monetary Fund and Georgetown University suggests that electric vehicles might be more popular that their gas- and diesel-powered equivalents sooner rather than later. Their findings suggest that by 2040, it’s possible that 90 percent of passenger vehicles in the US, Canada, Europe, and similarly wealthy nations could be electric.
The study compared the seemingly imminent transition to electric vehicles to the shift from horses and buggies to cars in the early 20th century. Despite driving being quite unlike steering a buggy — and the fact that buying a car was of equivalent expense to the average person as buying a $137,000 auto would have been in 2015 — it only took ten or fifteen years for horses and buggies to be replaced as the primary mode of transport.
The researchers investigated two scenarios; one based on how quickly the public adopted Henry Ford’s Model T cars, and the other based on the pace at which they abandoned the horse and buggy. A significant number of people started using public transport at this time, so it wasn’t a case of every horse and buggy that was put out of commission being replaced by a Model T.
Based on the latter metric — referred to as the slow-adoption scenario — electric vehicles will make up 5 percent of all vehicles in the US by the end of the 2020s, a figure that will rise to 36 percent by the early 2040s. If the fast-adoption scenario comes to pass, 30 percent of vehicles will be electric by the late 2020s, and a staggering 93 percent will be by the early 2040s.
Other studies have predicted a slightly slower rate of adoption. For instance, Bloomberg New Energy Finance projects that only 54 percent of new car sales in 2040 will be electric. However, the consensus seems to be that gas- and diesel-powered cars are on their way out, even if it’s difficult to determine how long the changeover will take.
The cost of electric vehicles will be a huge factor in how quickly things progress. Tesla’s Model 3 could be a gamechanger, with its price tag of $35,000 — assuming that the company can fulfill the massive demand.
For decades, the world has turned to the Frankfurt Motor Show to catch a glimpse of the latest the automotive industry has to offer. Yesterday marked the start of this year’s event, and BMW kicked things off with a bang, revealing a new all-electric sedan that might give Tesla’s Model 3 a run for its money.
The veteran German automaker is calling their new creation the i Vision Dynamics, and it’s a beauty. Though still just a concept, according to BMW’s website, they envision the vehicle having specs that rival those of a Tesla: “a possible range of 600 km (373 miles), over 200 km/h (120 mph) top speed, and an acceleration of 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.0 seconds.”
This four-door Gran Coupé isn’t BMW’s first EV, though. Back in 2013, the company launched the i3 as part of their “i series,” which also included the plug-in hybrid i8. However, both were niche models and few were sold.
The i Vision, on the other hand, is positioned between the i3 and i8, landing right smack in the middle of BMW’s flagship sporty sedan style. “Electro-mobility has reached the heart of our brand,” BMW board member Klaus Frölich said at the motor show, according to WIRED. “Ladies and gentlemen, we are prepared to strike.”
The Evolving EV Market
For a long time, Tesla has arguably been the leader in the EV market. While the Tesla Model S set the standard for the luxury EV, the company’s latest car — the Model 3 — is designed for a larger consumer base.
However, Tesla’s position at the top of the pack is now being challenged by a number of automobile industry heavyweights, many of whom are focused on both the high-end and economy markets.
Even if the BMW i Vision Dynamics and all these other EVs can’t usurp the company’s position in the EV market, one thing is clear: electric cars are the future of clean energy transportation. EVs are positioned to dominate the roads eventually, and the more options drivers have, the sooner that’s likely to happen.
At the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA Cars 2017) in Germany earlier this week, Samsung SDI — the battery-focused division of Samsung — unveiled a new multi-functional battery pack capable of increasing the current range of electric vehicles. As explained by the Korean company, the battery enables cars to go between 600-700 kilometers (372-4343 miles), provided the right number of modules are installed.
“Its users can change the number of modules as they want as if they place books on a shelf,” says Samsung. “For example, if 20 modules are installed in a premium car, it can go 600 to 700 kilometers. If 10 to 12 modules are mounted on a regular sedan, it can run up to 300 kilometers. This pack is expected to catch the eyes of automakers, because they can design a car whose mileage may vary depending on how many modules of a single pack are installed.”
Electrek explains that automakers like Nissan and GM have been using prismatic cells in their battery packs. Samsung SDI began developing new “2170” cylindrical cells earlier this year, following the footsteps of Tesla, which was the first to do so with their “2170” battery cell.
In Competitive Context
No other details for the new battery pack were disclosed at the event, but it’s still an impressive range compared to what existing electric vehicles are capable of. The Tesla Model S, for example, is expected to have a range of 416 kilometers (259 miles), while the Chevy Bolt has an estimated range of 383 kilometers (238 miles) — a recent test conducted by Consumer Reports says otherwise, however.
Upcoming electric vehicles like the recently revealed 2018 Nissan Leaf are good for 241-257 kilometers (150-160 miles), while the highly-anticipated Tesla Model 3 is said to have a range of 354-498 kilometers (220-310 miles). We’ll have to wait and see how well Samsung’s battery performs in a realistic environment.
Volkswagen (VW) has announced plans to offer an electric version of each of their 300 car models by 2030. The automaker will invest €20 billion ($25 billion) in the project and has plans to invest another €50 billion ($59.8 billion) on batteries.
“Customers want clean vehicles,” VW chief Matthias Mueller told the BBC at the Frankfurt Motor Show. “People want to have clean air, and we want to make our contribution here.”
VW is the first major auto manufacturer to make this kind of commitment to electric vehicles. However, other companies are taking similar steps — Mercedes-Benz has stated its intent to offer electric or hybrid versions of all its cars by 2022.
German automakers are in a race to clean up their act following the recent emissions scandal, which was predominantly centered around VW but also affected the likes of Mercedes. In August, Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that the country would eventually ban the sale of new diesel German vehicles, although no timeline was set.
Since the auto industry is Germany’s biggest export, and it accounts for some 800,000 jobs, it’s crucial that the sector finds ways to reduce its reliance on diesel.
Fuel for Thought
The world is shifting toward electric vehicles, but it’s proving to be a gradual process. For economic and practical reasons, we can’t expect cars powered by traditional fuel sources to disappear overnight.
“There will be a coexistence between internal combustion engines and electric drive systems for a certain period,” Mueller said to the BBC. “I can’t tell you how long that will be.” However, it seems that governments, not automakers, will be in control of the schedule.
China remains the leader in terms of electric vehicles on the road, but a shift is taking place all around the world. One recent report indicated that petrol and diesel vehicles will have been outpaced in Europe by 2035 — which certainly seems in line with the timeline VW has in place for its transition.
Tesla is making moves to bring more electric cars into cities by launching a network of new, slimmer Superchargers in urban centers. An announcement from Tesla reveals: “…as part of our commitment to make Tesla ownership easy for everyone, including those without immediate access to home or workplace charging, we are expanding our Supercharger network into city centers, starting with downtown Chicago and Boston.”
The Superchargers are set to be placed in convenient locations in urban areas, to allow drivers to multitask and charge their cars while shopping or running other errands. The smaller Superchargers will deliver up to 72kW of power to an attached vehicle, which is admittedly just over half of what’s capable with current 120kW Superchargers. So while the charge time will increase to about 45-50 minutes, the space between charging stations will, in turn, dramatically decrease.
Ideally, electric vehicles (EVs), like those made by Tesla, would be a fantastic option for city drivers. Many city drivers would not be hindered by worrisome range anxiety, as their trips would be well below the maximum ranges of today’s available vehicles.
Unfortunately, we have yet to arrive in such a utopia, and city-dwelling EV early adopters have to be sustained by a patchwork of available charging stations. The absence of privately owned parking spaces or garages makes owning home-charging setups impossible, so city dwellers must rely on what is publicly available. The resources many currently have are not enough to conveniently support drivers, let alone encourage expansion.
As such, Tesla’s new stations are excellent news for electric vehicles in general, as increasing infrastructure will encourage the growth of the technology, allowing charging capabilities to expand beyond brand specific stations. Electric vehicles have a much smaller imprint on the environment, and as the world’s grids are increasingly relying on renewable resources to meet power needs, that benefit is growing.
The Chinese government is working on a plan to halt the production and sale of cars powered by fossil fuels. Given that the country sees more cars bought and sold than any other, this could have a huge impact on the global electric auto industry.
Deputy industry minister Xin Guobin stated that officials are working on a timetable for the change, speaking at an automotive industry forum on 9 September. While the shift away from gasoline-powered vehicles will obviously help with the country’s far-reaching ecological efforts, it would also contribute to its attempt to curb a growing reliance on imported oil.
China is already the biggest market for electric autos, having surpassed the US in 2016. In 2015, sales of electric-powered and hybrid vehicles swelled by 50 percent, accounting for 40 percent of worldwide sales.
Authorities have been proactive in encouraging this growth, investing billions in research and programs to spur adoption. Starting next year, auto manufacturers will be required to ensure that 8 percent of their output is comprised of electric vehicles and hybrids, with that proportion rising to 10 percent in 2019, and 12 percent in 2020.
China is not the only country that’s preparing to enforce constraints on the manufacture of gas-powered cars in an effort to encourage more eco-friendly alternatives. France committed to putting a ban in place by 2040 at the beginning of July, and the UK followed suit just a few weeks later.
However, it should be noted that these measures don’t extend to decommissioning gas-powered vehicles that are already out on the roads. China’s goal is to hasten the transition to electric autos, but there hasn’t been any mention of banning vehicles that were sold before the restrictions were put in place.
With vehicular deaths in the United States spiking – new data shows a 14 percent rise over the past two years, the first such rise in 50 years – the search for solutions is urgent. Crashes on American roads claim 1,000 lives every nine days.
In a recent article in The New York Times, “A Public-Health Crisis That We Can Fix” (7 March 2017), the writer, David Leonhardt, argued persuasively that distracted driving due to smartphone use is the leading cause of this spike.
Leonhardt suggested that if automation has brought U.S. airline deaths to virtually zero, why not apply it to create driverless cars?
Setting aside for the moment the irony of using wireless communications to prevent deaths ostensibly due to wireless communications, let’s examine the proposition. Certainly, driverless cars have been receiving significant attention due to their promise of increased safety and, tragically, because last year an engineer in a trial run lost his life in a driverless vehicle crash.
How far apart are the promise and the current development of driverless cars? As an engineer working on future wireless communications technologies, I can provide perspective on the challenges in technology, policy and standards that lie between the promise and performance of driverless vehicles.
Cars, Electrification, and Communication
The electrification of vehicles already allows a vehicle to closely monitor its own performance and the condition of its components, increasing safety by notifying the driver of trouble or impending trouble. “Connected” vehicles are in touch with cellular networks, the cloud and/or cloud-based service offerings, including diagnostics, maps, infotainment and roadside assistance, to name a few.
Then there is the “driverless” vehicle. These are still on the drawing board and in occasional trials on public roadways, at least in the U.S. and the UK. Roughly two schools of thought guide their development. One has the driverless vehicle depending on sensors along its route. The other, truly “autonomous” option describes a vehicle equipped with enough artificial intelligence (AI) to sense its surroundings, communicate with other vehicles in its vicinity for collision avoidance and make independent decisions on its navigation. The possibility of a hybrid of these two approaches remains in play.
Situational Awareness Needed
We know that one famous automaker is exploring the combined use of radar and a computer-based vision system for the situational awareness needed to pilot an autonomous vehicle. Another company, famous for its algorithms, is basing its navigational and decision-making system on Lidar (light detection and ranging), which involves a car-top unit that develops a precise map of its surroundings as it progresses down the road.
Though onboard technology for autonomy is also required, such a vehicle will likely communicate with similar vehicles in its vicinity to inform and expand its situational awareness. Whichever technology is used to provide situational awareness, some form of AI is needed to process and act on the incoming data to make driver-like decisions.
Clearly, there is little if any room for error in such a system. And just as technology options exist for situational awareness, options exist for vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) and, ultimately, vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communications.
Thus a key question remains: how can we develop wireless connections between autonomous vehicles that are so reliable we’ll stake our lives on it?
5G and Wi-Fi
With connectivity as the new goal to make driverless, autonomous vehicles a reality, what exact technology or technologies will deliver it? And what information would be shared between vehicles? These remain open questions, but let’s look at two leading candidates: 5G and dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) that depends on a variant of Wi-Fi known as IEEE 802.11p™ may well provide the wireless communication protocol(s). One requirement, apart from reliability, will be low latency. Information between multiple, perhaps hundreds of moving vehicles, must get information from A to B with super-low latency, say, 1-2 milliseconds. Another consideration is whether the radio spectrum is available and possesses sufficient bandwidth to carry these bursts of data at speed and scale.
5G is in its infancy, but its many expected innovations over what’s available today will include extremely high data speeds, significantly lower latency and increased network flexibility that may go a long way to solving some – though perhaps not all – of the challenges inherent in autonomous vehicles, including V2V communication. I’m personally skeptical that 5G in its cellular configuration – that is, vehicle-to-cell-tower-to-vehicle – will provide the super-low latency needed to avoid collisions, but 5G capabilities may work for relatively short-range V2V. 5G’s performance may be impacted by having many vehicles in dense traffic attempting to communicate simultaneously – precisely when safety measures are most needed. 5G’s journey to fruition will have to include favorable public policy and standards to support it.
In contrast, the IEEE 802.11p™ standard has been ratified and commercial off-the-shelf products are available. The main technological difference between 5G and IEEE 802.11p is that the latter relies on what we call a “contention base.” It’s akin to Wi-Fi performance. Anyone can log on, but the data speeds aren’t extremely fast. Both technologies have their supporters. It is conceivable that a hybrid approach could use the best of both methods for V2V connectivity.
Searching for Spectrum
Though the communications technologies for data exchanges between vehicles is currently in flux, one constant is the need to transmit that data over the airwaves, so sufficient spectrum is a must. Since 1999, the Federal Communications Commission has allocated 75 MHz of wireless bandwidth around 5.9 GHz for vehicular communication in the U.S. Due to underuse by the automotive industry up until now, this bandwidth is under pressure for use by other industries, even though we’re now seeing how it should be used by driverless vehicles. Still, such a narrow band might be swiftly overcome by the amount of data transmitted by driverless vehicles in traffic.
One possible solution to that challenge involves spontaneous access to wireless spectrum, which is a problem I’ve studied for a dozen years. It remains a challenge without a firm solution. I think that 5G’s support for something known as cognitive radio offers a potential solution. Cognitive radio would enable a vehicle to locate and lock in on available spectrum, whether it’s dedicated for vehicular communications or is simply unused at the exact moment a vehicle needs spectrum to communicate. And one model for algorithms that can perform this task comes from studies of bumblebee communication. Bumblebees act both in concert and individually as they seek the best source of nectar. A brief explanation of this concept is offered in “Cars Could Follow the Flight of the Bumblebee,” published by IEEE Spectrum (3 December 2015).
Solutions Bring Spin-Off Benefits
Ultimately, we’ll need to figure out how to accomplish all these actions on a highly dynamic topology, meaning numerous cars moving in different directions at various speeds. This remains a pressing research and development issue that will take at least a half-decade to resolve.
If the use of wireless communications tempts humans to distraction, perhaps it’s fitting that it can also offer a solution to make our roads safer. And if we can solve the challenges of mobile communications between a multitude of fast vehicles, we can apply those solutions in other areas, including the Internet of Things (IoT), which promises to connect a gazillion devices. Safer roads are just the beginning of a longer journey.
Developing clean energy and eco-friendly cars isn’t new for Korean automobile maker Hyundai. For the most part, the company has focused on fuel-cell technology, but it recently decided to shift focus, according to an announcement on Thursday.
“We’re strengthening our eco-friendly car strategy, centering on electric vehicles,” Hyundai EVP Lee Kwang-guk told a news conference, Venture Beat reports. The decision comes as the company seeks to catch up with Tesla and other rivals in the EV stage. However, it will still continue to work on fuel cells and hybrid vehicles for a “multi-pronged” approach, the car maker said in a press release.
If electric cars could recharge while driving down a highway, it would virtually eliminate concerns about their range and lower their cost, perhaps making electricity the standard fuel for vehicles.
Now Stanford University scientists have overcome a major hurdle to such a future by wirelessly transmitting electricity to a nearby moving object. Their results are published in the June 15 edition of Nature.
“In addition to advancing the wireless charging of vehicles and personal devices like cellphones, our new technology may untether robotics in manufacturing, which also are on the move,” said Shanhui Fan, a professor of electrical engineering and senior author of the study. “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.”
The group built on existing technology developed in 2007 at MIT for transmitting electricity wirelessly over a distance of a few feet to a stationary object. In the new work, the team transmitted electricity wirelessly to a moving LED lightbulb. That demonstration only involved a 1-milliwatt charge, whereas electric cars often require tens of kilowatts to operate. The team is now working on greatly increasing the amount of electricity that can be transferred, and tweaking the system to extend the transfer distance and improve efficiency.
Wireless charging would address a major drawback of plug-in electric cars — their limited driving range. Tesla Motors expects its upcoming Model 3 to go more than 200 miles on a single charge, and the Chevy Bolt, which is already on the market, has an advertised range of 238 miles. But electric vehicle batteries generally take several hours to fully recharge. A charge-as-you-drive system would overcome these limitations.
“In theory, one could drive for an unlimited amount of time without having to stop to recharge,” Fan explained. “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.”
Some transportation experts envision an automated highway system, where driverless electric vehicles are wirelessly charged by solar power or other renewable energy sources. The goal would be to reduce accidents and dramatically improve the flow of traffic while lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
Wireless technology could also assist GPS navigation of driverless cars. GPS is accurate up to about 35 feet. For safety, autonomous cars need to be in the center of the lane where the transmitter coils would be embedded, providing very precise positioning for GPS satellites.
Mid-range wireless power transfer, as developed at Stanford and other research universities, is based on magnetic resonance coupling. Just as major power plants generate alternating currents by rotating coils of wire between magnets, electricity moving through wires creates an oscillating magnetic field. This field also causes electrons in a nearby coil of wires to oscillate, thereby transferring power wirelessly. The transfer efficiency is further enhanced if both coils are tuned to the same magnetic resonance frequency and are positioned at the correct angle.
However, the continuous flow of electricity can only be maintained if some aspects of the circuits, such as the frequency, are manually tuned as the object moves. So, either the energy transmitting coil and receiver coil must remain nearly stationary, or the device must be tuned automatically and continuously — a significantly complex process.
To address the challenge, the Stanford team eliminated the radio-frequency source in the transmitter and replaced it with a commercially available voltage amplifier and feedback resistor. This system automatically figures out the right frequency for different distances without the need for human interference.
“Adding the amplifier allows power to be very efficiently transferred across most of the three-foot range and despite the changing orientation of the receiving coil,” said graduate student Sid Assawaworrarit, the study’s lead author. “This eliminates the need for automatic and continuous tuning of any aspect of the circuits.”
Assawaworrarit tested the approach by placing an LED bulb on the receiving coil. In a conventional setup without active tuning, LED brightness would diminish with distance. In the new setup, the brightness remained constant as the receiver moved away from the source by a distance of about three feet. Fan’s team recently filed a patent application for the latest advance.
The group used an off-the-shelf, general-purpose amplifier with a relatively low efficiency of about 10 percent. They say custom-made amplifiers can improve that efficiency to more than 90 percent.
“We can rethink how to deliver electricity not only to our cars, but to smaller devices on or in our bodies,” Fan said. “For anything that could benefit from dynamic, wireless charging, this is potentially very important.”
The Tesla Model S will soon be seen paroling the streets of Luxembourg, as a pair of the electric cars has been chosen to become patrol vehicles used by the Grand-Ducale Police.
The Ministry of Sustainable Development decided to purchase the Model S for the police force in an effort to begin a shift towards electric cars. However, the police aren’t the only ones who will get new wheels, as members of the administration are also expected to receive new electric vehicles.
There are currently four versions of the Model S: the 75, 75D, 100D and P100D, but it’s unknown which version will be used for these patrol cars. Regardless, every Model S is designed to be extremely fast; they’re able to go from 0-60 in less than 3 seconds. In fact, just last month, a Model S was used to set a record for the fastest transcontinental run, making the trip from California to New York in 52 hours.
As explained by Electrek, the Model S’ agility paired with this push towards electric vehicles makes this partnership ideal for Luxembourg, which is only 82 km (51 miles) long and 57 km (35 miles) wide. Its implementation in the area could prompt other countries and companies to do the same, reducing the amount of carbon dioxide released into the air, which is a huge contributing factor to global climate change.
Undoubtedly, EVs are starting to take over the automobile market. International investment bank UBS thinks the first step in market dominance of EVs would be in terms of costs. In a report published on May, analysts from the bank’s “evidence lab” predicted that EV prices will soon match those of combustion-engine cars.
According to The Telegraph, the UBS report predicts that the “total cost of consumer [EV] ownership can reach parity with combustion engines from 2018”, a trend which would likely begin in Europe. “This will create an inflection point for demand. We raise our 2025 forecast for EV sales by 50% to 14.2 million — 14% of global car sales.” UBS reached this conclusion after tinkering with a Chevrolet Bolt EV, which it described as “the world’s first mass-market EV, with a range of more than 200 miles.”
Speaking of new vehicles, the recently launched Tesla Model 3 is expected to boost mass adoption of EVs with its relatively affordable price. While it’s currently the cheapest EV out there, Nissan’s 2018 Leaf promises to cost some $5,000 less than the Model 3. This doesn’t mean, however, that electric cars aren’t going to be profitable. “Once total cost of ownership parity is reached, mass-brand EVs should also turn profitable,” the report said.
The UBS report also noted that manufacturing EVs is cheaper than they previously thought — and there’s still more room for cost reduction through strategies like developing cheaper batteries and building more charging infrastructure. These measures will be important, since more and more countries are now opting for EVs. France will ban selling petrol and diesel cars by 2040, while all cars sold in India will be electric by 2030.
Electric cars aren’t the only clean energy tech that’s been getting less costly. Renewable energy sources, like solar and wind, continue to be cheaper than their fossil fuel counterparts. The price of solar panels has, for example, dropped over the last few months. The decreasing cost of EVs seems to be part of a greater revolution towards clean energy.
As new electric vehicles (EVs) like Tesla’s much-anticipated Model 3 continue to hit the market with considerable fanfare, choices for consumers multiply. Existing EVs are now being priced to sell more quickly in many cases.
Electrek reported that new Leafs have been selling at a rock bottom $13,000 in Florida and Ohio. This may be in part due to new vehicles coming on the market, but it is mainly due to a partnership between Nissan and local electric utilities that beefs up the existing federal incentives to purchase EVs.
DeLorean cars have become a staple of ’80s pop culture thanks to their starring role in Robert Zemeckis’s iconic Back to the Future trilogy. Now, a new generation of the DeLorean family is looking to put the brand back into the spotlight by giving new meaning to a line kooky inventor Doc Brown delivers at the end of the first film: “Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.”
In a recent Wired profile, Paul DeLorean, nephew of the original carmaker and current CEO and chief designer of DeLorean Aerospace, revealed that his company is joining the likes of Uber, Airbus, Kitty Hawk, and a few others in attempting to build a flying car.
DeLorean says the company is working on a two-seat, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicle meant for personal transport and that will eventually be capable of autonomous flight. “We are moving forward on a full-size, piloted prototype which will carry two passengers and is designed to operate, fully electric, for a range of [193 kilometers (120 miles)],” he explained to Wired.
Other flying cars in development are only expected to have ranges of around 40 to 80 kilometers (25 to 50 miles), so DeLorean’s target is well above the norm.
As for design specifics, the DeLorean DR-7 aircraft sports two sets of wings, one at the vehicle’s front and the other at its back, with another pair of winglets under the hind wings. The vehicle’s takeoff and forward propulsion rely on a pair of fans, which are powered by electricity and mounted along its center. The fans swivel after takeoff to push the vehicle forward.
In all, the aircraft is about 6 meters (20 feet) long, with a wingspan of about 5.6 meters (18.5 feet). To help the aircraft fit into a (large) garage, the wings are capable of folding against the vehicle’s sides.
Regulating the Skies
Whether they be of the self-driving or flying variety, the cars of the future need to surmount regulatory hurdles before we’ll see any kind of widespread adoption. The use of traditional vehicles and aircraft is currently regulated by numerous laws, and the advanced capabilities of autonomous or flying vehicles are presenting lawmakers with a slew of unprecedented questions.
Along with the need to upgrade our laws to govern this next step in the evolution of personal transport, we also need to upgrade our infrastructure. Electricity is emerging as the energy source of choice for this next generation of vehicles, yet much of the world lacks the infrastructure necessary to meet the refueling needs of a fleet of electric vehicles (EVs).
We still have some time to wait before we can hope to see these flying vehicles in action, as experts don’t expect the first models to be ready for another five to 15 years, but we are well on our way to a future in which roads won’t be the only places we see cars.
The app, called Cruise, is part of the “Cruise Anywhere” service that GM and Cruise Automation are now offering to their employees, who can use the app and self-driving cars anytime, any day of the week…provided a car is available. It provides a similar service to other ride-sharing services, albeit without a driver in control of the car. Due to California law, however, a driver must be present behind the wheel in the event manual control is required.
“We’re really excited about how the technology is evolving, and the rate at which it’s evolving. This is a manifestation of that — putting the app in people’s hands and having them use it for the first time and make AVs their primary form of transportation,” said Cruise CEO and co-founder Kyle Vogt in an interview with TechCrunch.
The Best Is Yet To Come
While the app and Chevy Bolt EV are currently exclusive to GM and Cruise employees, it’s only a matter of time before they, and other autonomous cars, are publicly available. Their presence on the road, even if only for testing purposes, can help prepare drivers for future interactions with them.
If the fleet tests proceed without accidents or even the need for manual control, those still wary of the concept might be put at ease, to say nothing of the benefits of serving the public trust. Autonomous cars, combined with Elon Musk’s underground tunnel system, could not only free up space on streets and highways, but make driving from place to place more efficient, providing additional free time for professionals weary of bumper-to-bumper transit.
Electric vehicles (EVs) are still far away from widespread popularity, but they are well on their way. As with most new technologies, the first iterations have a significant cost barrier that, at least initially, keeps them out of reach for the average consumer. However, EV tech is far enough along for more affordable options to become available.
Tesla is gearing up to release its, relatively, affordable EV option with its Model 3. The base offering of the model starts at $35,000. Chevrolet’s model, the Bolt, begins at an MSRP of $37,495 (though it can be purchased as cheaply as $30,000 with tax credits). Now, Nissan is joining the fun of launching more affordable EVs with its 2018 Leaf model. The base model will cost $29,990, more than $5,000 less than Tesla’s Model 3.
However, there is a reason for that cheaper price. According to leaked information published by Autoblog, the base vehicle’s battery will have a 40 kWh capacity, which will be good for 150 – 160 miles of travel on one charge. Compare this to the Model 3’s 75 kWh battery and it’s easy to see what a consumer is sacrificing for the cheaper price tag.
The availability of cheaper EV’s is a welcome trend, especially considering the cost savings of recharging these vehicles compared to refueling a gas powered car. Tesla estimates that its Model 3 could save consumers $3,584 on gas within five years, which is about $716 per year. Perhaps more importantly, more accessibility to EVs will have an even greater impact on the environment.
One can argue that the differences are minimal, at best. However, now that Tesla has begun deliveries of their new Model 3 line, some are concerned the company won’t be able to meet the overwhelming demand for the electric vehicle (EV). Founder and CEO Elon Musk assured investors during an earnings call for the company’s second-quarter of 2017 on Wednesday that that will not be the case.
“What people should absolutely have zero concern about, and I mean zero, is that Tesla will achieve a 10,000 unit production week by the end of next year,” said Musk. “I think people should really not have any concerns that we won’t reach that outcome from a production rate.”
The CEO was referring to plans to ramp up Model 3 production by significant increments over the rest of this year, from 100 cars in August to more than 1,500 in September. That number is predicted to grow to 20,000 cars a month by December.
This is a surprisingly strong statement, Electrek reports, given that Musk has always tended to flavor predictions with phrases like “best guess” or “I might be wrong.” He has previously admitted that the next few months would be a “production hell” for Tesla, but he appears confident they will be able to deliver.
After markets close on Wednesday, Tesla will release its second-quarter (Q2) earnings report for 2017. Tesla’s usual practice has been to conduct a conference call and Q&A with the company’s management team and investors after releasing quarterly reports. This is the plan for tonight at 5:30 PM ET (2:30 PM PT).
Tesla’s first quarter 2017 update back in May featured an overall increase in production and revenue. “Vehicle production in Q1 increased by 64% compared to a year ago, which enabled us to set new quarterly records of 25,051 deliveries and $2.7 billion in GAAP revenue,” the report read. The trend was expected to continue for Q2, including the decline in earnings per share.
Speculations about the company’s Q2 results from various sources are generally the same: consensus in Wall Street, as well as figures from independent firms like financial estimates crowdsourcing website Estimize, and Zacks Investment Research are consistent. Tesla’s expected to report a growth in revenue of around $2.548 billion to $2.599 billion. The company’s revenue has been growing over the past four quarters, almost always beating expectations, according to Electrek.
Earnings per share, on the other hand, are going to be on the decline: current estimates predict a loss of around $2 per share. Wall Street predicts a $1.94 per share for the quarter, Estimize counts a $1.81 loss per share, while Zacks puts it at $2 per share. For those wondering about the difference between revenue and earnings, earnings are counted after all deductibles (such as production costs, taxes, etc.) have been considered. Revenue is the profit from products sold.
The loss per share comes from investing heavily on Model 3 production and a decline in deliveries for Q2. Tesla’s already reported a total of 22,000 deliveries from April to May, down from a Q1 total of 25,000. The company claims that despite the decrease, it’s able to hit the low-end of its mid-year delivery target of 47,000 to 50,000 vehicles.
Updates: Solar Products, the Model 3, & More
Speaking of production, this Q2 report would be a significant one for Tesla, as it’s going to be the last one before Model 3 production and sales will be counted. As such, delivery numbers are expected to go up before the end of the year as Tesla works towards fulfilling the large number of pre-orders for the Model 3. Less than a week since its release, the low-cost electric vehicle has been receiving favorable reviews.
As the Tesla Model 3 launch was imminent, Jack Stewart of Wired wrote, “The arrival of Tesla’s Model 3 signals a new chapter in automotive history, one that erases 100-plus years of the gas engine and replaces it with technology, design, and performance hot enough to make electric vehicles more than aspirational — to make [electric vehicles (EVs)] inspirational.” But would it live up to its promise?
If you’re still feeling skeptical about Tesla’s Model 3, the reviewers definitely aren’t. Here’s what they have to say now that they’ve driven it.
Magic, I’m telling you. Magic. – Kim Reynolds
In a piece prefaced with, “The Tesla Model 3 is here, and it is the most important vehicle of the century. Yes, the hyperbole is necessary,” Kim Reynolds of Motor Trend raved: “If anybody was expecting a typical boring electric sedan here, nope.”
“Magic, I’m telling you. Magic. And this is the single-motor, rear-wheel-drive starting point. The already boggled mind boggles further at the mention of Dual Motor and Ludicrous,” Reynolds continued. “Have I ever driven a more startling small sedan? I haven’t. At speed, it gains a laser-alertness I haven’t encountered before […] [The] 2.0-liter Alfa Romeo Giulia […] feels like a wet sponge by comparison.”
Electrekis reporting that Tesla is preparing to begin fulfilling their Model 3 orders. Right now, employees who have priority reservations are being given access to an online configurator to help build their cars to a host of specifications.
One of the Model 3’s biggest selling points is its low price tag, relative to other electric vehicle options. However, the available specs on this round of shipments require customers to drop at least $48,000, a far cry from the starting price of the $35,000 base vehicle. This added cost covers the longer range battery, which can take the vehicle 499 km (310 miles) versus 354 km (220 miles) for $9,000. Other “Premium Upgrades” include a glass roof which accounts for the remaining $5,000. There is another option to wait for the cheaper features to be available if a customer decides thrift is more important than expedience.
Good news for those who like their Teslas cranked up to 11. Elon Musk has tweeted that a performance version of the Model 3 should be arriving about a year from now. The news came as the response to a recent tweet:
Probably middle of next year. Focus now is on getting out of Model 3 production hell. More versions = deeper in hell.
This latest response regarding a performance version of the Model 3 is not the first time Musk has mentioned the “production hell” surrounding the vehicle — he used the same phrase at a press briefing Friday night. Meeting the 500,000 unit annual production target for the Model 3, ensuring that the car has “mass appeal,” and piecing together the 10,000 individual components of the car are all contributing to the difficulty producing the highly anticipated vehicle.
While no specifics have been released explaining exactly what a performance version on the Model 3 would entail — beyond its faster speed than the standard model — several sources have made educated guesses.
Jalopnik predicts that the upgraded electric car would be “a dual motor car with all-wheel-drive, a sub-four-second 0-60 mph time, and a top speed not likely higher than around 155 mph,” while Electrek wrote that they expect it “to be equipped with a dual motor all-wheel-drive system, and if it turns out like the performance versions of the Model S and Model X, it should have as [sic] new high-power performance rear motor with higher amperage connection to the battery pack.”
Whatever the performance version may look like, the release of the Model 3 is already a phenomenal achievement. Since Tesla’s humble startup beginnings, the company has not only created a series of cars that are gorgeous, functional, and futuristic, they’ve also helped start an electric car revolution that will benefit the planet.
Electrical vehicles (EVs) are the next evolution in personal transportation. A large-scale shift toward the technology has the potential to significantly reduce the environmental impact of simply getting around, leaving our reliance on gas powered vehicles behind.
However, given that the technology is in its relative infancy, the lack of established infrastructure to support a major shift to EVs remains a significant roadblock to adoption. EVs are limited by their range, and while developing the technology does continue to lengthen the range, many models are best suited for shorter trips.
On Friday night, Tesla CEO Elon Musk held a special event to hand over the keys for Tesla’s new Model 3 to the EV’s first 30 customers. The very first Model 3 owner was Musk himself, of course — then, the next 29 ultimately went to Tesla employees (who made up 10,000 of the 500,000 supposed preorders).
The event marked an exciting moment for Tesla and, no doubt, those 29 new owners, who had deposited $1,000 to reserve one of the company’s first mass-market EVs. Everyone else on the list still has a bit of a wait before they’ll have keys in hand: the rate of production for the Model 3’s is to be 100 cars built by August, ultimately building up to 1,500 cars by September. Also, before buyers are guaranteed a unit, they have to configure the vehicle online before they can place an order. Tesla plans to produce 20,000 Model 3s per month by September.
If you’re wondering what the hype over the Model 3 is all about, it’s important to acknowledge that it’s not just going to be another new electric car; it’s anticipated to be one of the world’s cheapest EVs. “The Model 3 is far more than just another car,” Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at AutoTrader, told The Verge. “If successful, it would mark a breakthrough for electric vehicles and would be promising in terms of the proliferation of the technology.”
The Model 3 signals a change in the air, perhaps heralding an end to the era of the combustion engine. It’s expected help to increase adoption of EVs — since several countries are already firming up policies to eliminate petrol and diesel vehicles in favor of cleaner alternatives. The average passenger vehicle releases some 4.7 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year, and replacing these with 500,000 EVs would be a major step in clean energy adoption. Further, energy stored in EVs could also be used to power microgrids.
The Model 3 also comes with an autonomous driving system — another technology that’s set to revolutionize transportation. So, it’s not just going to make EVs more accessible, it’s also putting self-driving cars within reach of the general public. That’s important, as some research has indicated that autonomous vehicles could significantly lower the number of car-related deaths caused by human error — which is roughly 40,000 every year in the case of the U.S. alone.
As part of a $3.9 billion initiative (£3 billion) to improve air quality, the U.K. government has announced a ban of new diesel and petrol cars in 2040. Of this amount, $330 million (£255 million) has been awarded to local councils to decrease emissions of greenhouse gases. The government says that the sum will be generated by taxing diesel vehicles — although more precise details will be announced later this year.
Although the move to ban cars will not occur for about a quarter of a century, the Department for Environment, Farming, and Rural Affairs has expedited other aspects of the process by cutting the time for councils to make their self-determined plans of action from 18 months down to eight.
Should councils not meet their targets, more extreme measures could be implemented, such as restricting the use of diesel vehicles at peak times and charging diesel drivers for coming into certain towns.
As well as cutting down emissions and pollution, aspects of the bill promote greener infrastructure. For example, the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill allows the government to make it mandatory to have charge points for electric vehicles at motorway service stations.
The International Movement
The U.K. has a serious problem with emissions from the use of fossil fuels and the damage this causes: 40,000 premature deaths a year are linked to emissions, and the country is above limits set by the EU — meaning that 40 million people are living in areas with illegal levels of pollution. The measures will hopefully help the country rectify these failings.
The move reflects a wider international trend, in part instigated by the Paris Agreement, of setting deadlines for banning pollutant technologies in light of a growing awareness that climate changeneeds to be dealt with immediately or it may become too severe to deal with at all.
Electric vehicles (EVs) are fast outgrowing their reputation as a niche market, according to InsideEVs’ recent report of EV and hybrid car sales in the United States.
The most notable data from the report is the 45 percent increase in EV sales from July 2016 to June 2017 compared to the prior 12-month period. Offerings from a variety of manufacturers contributed to the increased sales figures.
From July 2016 to June 2017, Tesla sold more than 28,000 of its Model S units, while Chevy sold about 25,800 of its hybrid Volts. At the third spot is Tesla’s Model X, with just under 21,000 units sold. Toyota’s Prius Prime, which hit the market late last year, is currently on track for a big year as the third highest selling electric hybrid since January 2017.
An Industry’s Future
While some may argue that 45 percent isn’t much, it’s actually a surge when you take into account how EVs were performing in years past. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) noted that plug-in sales grew annually at a 32 percent rate from 2012 to 2016. At that rate, the UCS predicted that EVs would account for 10 percent of all new car sales in the U.S. by 2025.
If the past 12 months are indicative of a shift in consumer behavior towards EVs, however, this growth rate could be sustained for years to come, UCS predicts. If just a 40 percent rate were sustainable, 10 percent of car sales in the U.S. would be EVs by 2023, and that could easily grow to 20 percent just two years afterwards.
The rise of plug-ins and hybrid vehicles owes itself to the increasingly low prices of electric batteries and the expansion of charging infrastructure. These help reduce the cost of EV ownership in the long run. Government support also plays a role, with initiatives like California’s Zero Emission Vehicle program making EV ownership more attractive.
An ordinary petrol or diesel car pumps about 4.7 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year, so taking just one of these vehicles off the road is already a step forward on the path to a cleaner environment. Removing 10 or 20 percent of them is a leap.
According to The Drive, Porsche’s opening gambit in the bid will be the Mission E — slated for release in 2019 — followed by an electric crossover coupe, and then a new generation Macan crossover in 2022. The Macan will prove to be the make or break EV for the German car company, as its current gasoline incarnation is Porsche’s bestseller, with roughly 100,000 vehicles sold in 2016.
Porsche joins a growing number of car companies making ambitious plans to transition to electric in the coming decade. Volvo CEO Håkan Samuelsson said in a video on Twitter that “the future of Volvo is electric,” and to that end, the company plans to make every car off the production line either partially or entirely electric from 2019 onwards.
During a talk at the National Governors Association on Saturday, Elon Musk shared a bold prediction for the future of personal transportation. Not only does he believe that half the cars produced in the United States just 10 years from now will be electric, he thinks almost all cars produced by then will be autonomous.
“In 10 years, half of all production will be EV,” he told the governors. “I think almost all cars produced will be autonomous in 10 years, almost all. It will be rare to find one that is not, in 10 years.”
While EVs and autonomous cars will comprise a bulk of new vehicles, however, that doesn’t mean they will be the majority on the roads. “New vehicle production is only about five percent of the size of the vehicle fleet,” Musk explained, and because a car or truck can last for 15 to 20 years, it will take some time for the old to be replaced by the new. “Even when new vehicle production switches over to electric or autonomous…that still means the vast majority of the fleet is not,” he noted.
Musk estimated that we’ll have to wait a bit longer before we see a significant change in the types of vehicles on the road, but two decades from now, he expects an overwhelming portion of vehicles to be electric and fully autonomous.
The shift won’t be limited to cars and trucks, either. He predicts that eventually “all transport will go fully electric” with the exception of spacecraft.
Musk is at the forefront of this driverless and electric revolution. Tesla recently began production on their Model 3, which is poised to make electric vehicles more affordable, and the company’s cars have been breaking EV industry records for hypermiling and cannonball runs.
Tesla’s progress has spurred their competitors into action, with other industry leaders like Volvo making the decision to go all electric. If the trend continues, Musk’s predictions could prove true and we could be just a few short years from entering the age of electric, autonomous vehicles.
Volkswagen chief strategist Thomas Sedran announced at the Automobil Forum that the I.D. Concept will sell for $7,000 to $8,000 less than Tesla’s model. Aside from competitive pricing, the I.D. Concept was designed to compete with the Tesla Model 3 across the board. The price cutting strategy is one of the company’s more traditional competitive moves in a battle that has, at times, strayed into the unorthodox. According to Electrek, last year before unveiling the concept, VW misrepresented the Model s’ NEDC-rated range in a presentation designed to favorably compare the VW concept electric vehicle (EV).
At this point, it appears that the all-electric hatchback from VW will be available to compete with the Model 3 in the U.S., but not for more than a year after the Model 3 hits the market. Meanwhile, the concept vehicle — which is about the size of the VW Golf — will be part of the company’s more focused EV efforts in the EU and China. Its crossover model made its debut in Shanghai in April.
While Tesla may see the VW model as a potential competitor, its marketing strategies are more centered on converting drivers of gas-powered cars to EVs. However, if VW follows through with its plan to offer 30 all-electric or hybrid models by 2025, it seems likely that it will remain a competitor for Tesla — and everyone else.
Between 2017 and 2024, completely electric cars are expected to “become the rational choice for motorists in Europe,” the report said, as EV showroom prices fall due to cheaper batteries and EV ranges increasing. Charging infrastructure is also expected to become more widespread, in part due to government support.
Stanford University economist Tony Seba, who published a separate report on EVs, made a similar forecast for worldwide adoption. “Our findings clearly indicate that essentially all vehicle miles travelled will be electric by 2040 [worldwide],” he told The Guardian. “The car industry faces an imminent technology disruption by AEVs [autonomous electric vehicles] in the early 2020s. Even without autonomous technology, the internal combustion engine car industry will have been long decimated by 2040.”
Electric vehicles are quickly becoming the future of automobiles, thanks to efforts by both veteran car manufacturers and startups. Perhaps taking a cue from electric car manufacturing leaders like Tesla, traditional auto industry heavyweight Volvo has decided to focus on electric and hybrid vehicles from 2019 and beyond.
“Volvo cars is taking a bold step forward,” the company explained in a video on Volvo’s official Twitter account, “heralding the end of an era for the pure internal combustion engine.”
While other companies have yet to take the leap, Volvo knows investing in electric car production makes good sense from a business perspective: “This is about the customer,” Håkan Samuelsson, Volvo Car Group’s president and CEO, said in a press release. “People increasingly demand electrified cars and we want to respond to our customers’ current and future needs.”
It’s also a decision rooted in a sense of environmental responsibility, “We are determined to be the first premium car maker to move our entire portfolio of vehicles into electrification,” Samuelsson said in the video. “This is a clear commitment towards reducing our carbon footprint, as well as contributing to a better air quality in our cities.”
A Recognized Potential
For a car company like Volvo to commit to hybrids and EVs is no small feat. It could easily translate to over 500,000 cars turned electric, if we base the numbers on Volvo’s 2016 sales. According to the EPA, a single passenger vehicle produces an average of 4.7 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year. With their committment to electric vehicles, Volvo could potentially remove about 2.3 million metric tons of carbon emissions in just one year. The company has already set a sales target of 1 million hybrid and electric cars by 2025.
Will other car manufacturers follow suit? Several other companies already have their own EVs in the works: German automaker Volkswagen aims to produce one million EVs by 2025 and already has three concept vehicles. Chevrolet has also been working to perfect its Bolt EV, and Honda is hard at work on a new charging system that could give electric cars unlimited range.
This could, indeed, herald a new era for passenger vehicles. At the very least, this proves that EVs are no longer just a pipe dream. They are the future of clean transportation — at least for these automakers. As Samuelsson said, “We are convinced that the future of Volvo is electric.”
Even before electric cars officially take over as the new normal, clean driving just isn’t enough for some. One company is looking to take green personal transportation to unprecedented heights. Lightyear is a next-generation car company from the Netherlands that is making some truly lofty promises. The company is working on bringing the world a vehicle powered not just by electricity, but by energy generated from the sun.
According to the company’s website, “all cars of the world combined drive one light year, every year.” Their mission is to switch from a fossil fuel powered light year of travel to one powered by the sun by 2030.
Lightyear is hoping to sidestep one of the major limitations and anxieties of electric vehicles: range. Mass adoption of electric vehicles could be hindered by a lack of investment in charging infrastructure. The website claims that “[o]nly 3% of the world population lives within 100 km of a publicly accessible charging station.”
Everything the Light Touches
The vehicle promised will be powered by energy stored in a battery that can be charged both by a standard (3.7 kW) outlet, as well as solar panels in the vehicle’s body. In a sunny environment like Hawaii, the car could theoretically run for months between charges. Even without the sun, the car could run for a significant range. “Depending on your battery configuration you have between 400 – 800 km of range buffered in the battery,” Lightyear says on their website’s FAQ section.
This technology has yet to be proven, although the company is planning to have ten vehicles produced in 2019. Cost is also a considerable barrier to obtaining one of these future cars. You can reserve one for €19,000 (around $21,700) — a small chunk of the overall €119,000 ($135,800) price tag. It’s an interesting addition to the EV lineup, so we’ll be sure to keep an eye on the development of this technology as the first prototype gets closer to hitting the road.
New photos of the Tesla Model 3 — the most anticipated electric car of the decade, if not all time — have been leaked by You You Xue, who claimed on Reddit that Xue came across the new model randomly in San Matteo, and “jumped straight out of the car and started snapping photos!” The car is due to be launched sometime this year.
Tesla has been extremely secretive about the project, going as far as to camouflage and cover the vehicle in every road test it has conducted to date.
The photos show us the interior of Tesla’s upcoming vehicle, including its dashboard with a 43-cm (17-inch) display, the steering wheel, charging ports, and wheels.
At this point, 2017 looks to be the year of Elon Musk, who is pushing the boundaries of almost any industry he enters: from space rockets, to solar panels, to autonomous vehicles — the sky seems to be the limit for the modern technological prophet.
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.