More EVs, hybrids likely to follow revised EPA fuel economy standards

More EVs, hybrids likely to follow revised EPA fuel economy standards

Enlarge (credit: Luke Sharrett via Getty Images)

The Environmental Protection Agency today announced more stringent fuel economy standards that will require passenger vehicles to travel 70 percent farther on a gallon of gasoline.

The Biden administration announced earlier this year that it would be revising the Trump-era standards, which sought to increase fleet average fuel economy 1.5 percent per year through 2026. The new EPA standards will require automakers to improve fuel economy by 5–10 percent annually across their fleets. Five years from now, fuel economy on new vehicle Monroney stickers will average about 40 mpg combined, up from about 25 mpg today.

The move will save car and truck owners more than $1,000 over the lifetime of their vehicles, the agency said, and it will prevent 3.1 billion tons of carbon pollution through 2050. Transportation represents about a third of US carbon emissions. The rule will take effect in 60 days and will apply to model years 2023–2026. 

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#cars, #corporate-average-fuel-efficiency, #electric-vehicles, #epa, #fuel-economy, #hybrid-car

Power companies band together for coast-to-coast EV fast-charger network

Power companies band together for coast-to-coast EV fast-charger network

Enlarge (credit: Chevrolet)

It took an act of Congress and $7.5 billion in federal funding, but more than 50 of the nation’s power companies are ready to build a coast-to-coast fast-charging network for electric vehicles.

The proposal so far is light on details. Members of the National Electric Highway Coalition say they serve nearly 120 million customers across 47 states and the District of Columbia. The coalition hasn’t said how many fast chargers it will be installing, but the companies said they would focus first on gaps in existing fast-charging networks along interstate highways.

The group is “committed to investing in and providing the charging infrastructure necessary to facilitate electric vehicle growth and to helping alleviate any remaining customer range anxiety,” said Tom Kuhn, president of the Edison Electric Institute, which helped build the coalition.

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#cars, #dc-fast-charging, #electric-utilities, #electric-vehicles, #power-companies

Hyundai and Kia preview EVs due in 2024 with compelling three-row concepts

Kia EV9 concept

Enlarge / The Kia EV9 concept uses pixelated headlights that Hyundai and Kia designers have grown fond of in recent years. (credit: Kia)

Amidst the slew of new electric vehicles that have been introduced in the last few years, one thing has been largely missing: a third row. SUVs and crossovers with room for more than five passengers are wildly popular, but if you don’t want to burn fossil fuels, your options have been limited.

Hyundai and Kia have plans to change that, though. In advance of the Los Angeles Auto Show, which starts tomorrow, the two companies each unveiled concepts that hint at all-new, three-row electric SUVs bound for the US in 2024. Hyundai teased the Ioniq Seven, the second model in a new electric-only sub-brand it’s launching. Meanwhile, Kia gave us a peek at the EV9, a boxy big brother to the curvy EV6.

Hyundai's Ioniq Seven concept has design cues from the <a href="https://arstechnica.com/cars/2020/03/who-did-the-future-electric-sedan-best-bmw-or-hyundai/">Prophecy concept</a>, particularly in the rake of the windshield.

Hyundai’s Ioniq Seven concept has design cues from the Prophecy concept, particularly in the rake of the windshield. (credit: Hyundai)

In keeping with recent Hyundai and Kia designs, the two vehicles look quite different, despite being based on the same E-GMP platform. Yet they share enough details to feel part of the same family.

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#cars, #concept-cars, #electric-vehicles, #hyundai, #kia, #la-auto-show, #three-row

New firefighting tool delivers water directly to blazing EV batteries

To put out an EV blaze, a firefighter operates the nozzle from a remote control box.

Enlarge / To put out an EV blaze, a firefighter operates the nozzle from a remote control box. (credit: Rosenbauer)

In April, a Tesla Model S crashed in The Woodlands, Texas, after the speeding driver failed to negotiate a turn and jumped the curb. The car then hit a drainage culvert and a raised maintenance hole before being stopped by a tree, according to an investigation report by the National Transportation Safety Board. At that point, the Tesla promptly burst into flames.

Firefighters needed four hours to douse the flames, in part because the battery kept reigniting. When the blaze was finally over, about 30,000 gallons of water had been poured on it—what the department normally uses in a month.

Electric vehicle fires aren’t common, but they’re different enough from fossil-fuel-vehicle fires that firefighters need new approaches. One firm in Europe has developed a shipping container-like box in which a blazing EV can be deposited and blasted with water from all sides. But it requires a dedicated truck, making it a costly addition for a fire department.

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#battery-fire, #cars, #electric-vehicles, #firefighting

Subaru shows off its first electric vehicle, the Solterra SUV

Subaru Corp. Solterra electric sport utility vehicle (SUV) during an unveiling event in Tokyo, Japan, on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021.

Enlarge / Subaru Corp. Solterra electric sport utility vehicle (SUV) during an unveiling event in Tokyo, Japan, on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021. (credit: Toru Hanai/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

On Thursday morning in Tokyo, Subaru unveiled its first-ever battery-electric vehicle. It’s an electric crossover called the Solterra, and it has been developed in partnership with Toyota alongside that brand’s forthcoming EV, the bZ4x.

At the heart of the Solterra—or more accurately its core—you’ll find a 71.4 kWh lithium-ion traction battery, between the axles and underneath the floor of the passenger compartment. It has been designed in both front- and all-wheel-drive variants, with either a 150 kW (201 hp) AC synchronous motor driving just the front wheels, or a pair of 80 kW (107 hp) motors, one powering each axle, for a total output of 160 kW (214 hp).

Subaru says that the FWD Solterra has a range of 329 miles (530 km) and the AWD Solterra a range of about 285 miles (460 km). However, those range estimates were generated using the WLTP test standard, which does not accurately reflect the less-energy-efficient driving style required for North American roads.

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#cars, #electric-vehicles, #subaru, #subaru-solterra, #toyota

Electric conversions are this year’s hot trend at SEMA

Las Vegas is currently hosting its annual visit by SEMA, the aftermarket automotive trade show. Hot rods and custom cars have always been a SEMA thing, but these days there’s no guarantee you’ll find a brawny V8 or even any cylinders under the hood. In the past, we’ve covered show cars from Ford and Chevrolet, but this year the electric custom car is a full-blown trend.

Of course, the big OEMs haven’t ignored SEMA this year. Ford’s still in the first flush of Mustang Mach-E mania, and the Blue Oval brought multiple Mach-Es to the show. One is an aggressive-looking Mach-E GT that’ll be auctioned for charity after hopefully hitting 200 mph (321 km/h) at Bonneville, and another is bright orange with lowered air suspension and an e-bike charging rack at the back.

But the one that really caught my attention is a Shelby Mustang Mach-E GT concept, complete with the iconic white-with-blue-stripe livery. I’m not sure it’s any faster than the Mach-E GT Performance Edition that recently brightened my day, but it does look even better, with graphene-infused carbon-fiber bodywork.

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#cars, #chevrolet, #custom-cars, #electric-gt, #electric-vehicles, #ford, #ford-bronco, #ford-mustang-mach-e, #ford-mustang-mach-e-gt, #hot-rod, #porsche, #sema, #shelby-cobra

On Back to the Future day, Porsche celebrates 1.21 GW charging capacity

A Porsche Taycan and a Back to the Future DeLorean

Enlarge / Everyone loves a good time machine, including Porsche. The company made a short video to celebrate reaching a charging capacity milestone in the US and Europe. (credit: Porsche)

Many of the electric vehicles we’ve been waiting for are finally starting to appear on our roads. But wide adoption of EVs depends on more than just the availability of the cars themselves; we also need good charging infrastructure.

Building new charging stations is not an overnight job, as it’s a project fraught with red tape. But on Back to the Future day, Porsche released a whimsical video to celebrate the fact that, between the Electrify America network and Ionity (its European equivalent), there is now at least 1.21 GW of DC fast charging capacity available for its Taycan electric cars. (And any other EV that can fast-charge via CCS or CHAdeMO chargers, of course.)

The relationship of charging infrastructure to EV adoption seems intuitive, and history confirms it. In the earliest days of motoring, electric cars had a far higher market share than their current 2–3 percent and were vying for dominance with cars powered by internal combustion engines or even steam.

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#cars, #charging-infrastructure, #electric-vehicles, #electrify-america, #ionity, #porsche, #tesla-supercharger

Here’s how Lotus is going to build lightweight electric sports cars

Of all the automakers that are undergoing the transformation from internal combustion to electric propulsion, few have my interest quite like Lotus. Partly that’s because I first became a car nerd after discovering the Lotus Seven. But it’s also because light weight has always been a core Lotus attribute, and while electric vehicles have much to recommend them, “light” they typically are not.

This would be immaterial until relatively recently, because the small British sports car company didn’t have the resources to consider a switch to electric. But in 2017 Lotus was bought by Geely, also the owner of a freshly revitalized Volvo. As is the Geely way, Lotus got some much-needed investment and has been set to work on electrification.

In April of this year Lotus revealed that its plans now include four new platforms, three of which are entirely electric. This week we got a glimpse into the way the company is thinking about EVs, as it released some details about its lightweight elective vehicle architecture (or “Project LEVA” in Lotus-speak). The key is a newly developed rear subframe that’s far lighter than the one in the V6-powered Emira (unveiled in July as the last internal combustion engine-powered Lotus).

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#battery-electric-vehicles, #cars, #electric-vehicles, #geely, #lotus-cars, #lotus-elise, #lotus-emira, #lotus-engineering, #lotus-esprit, #sports-cars

Mercedes-Benz prices its flagship EQS electric vehicle below the S Class

The Mercedes-Benz has priced the flagship EQS electric vehicle more than $8,700 below its gas-powered S-Class counterpart, a strategic move by the German automaker aiming to ensure a successful rollout of the luxury EV in North America.

The EQS, which will arrive in U.S. dealerships in fall 2021, will start at $103,360, including the $1,050 destination charge. The federal tax credit will provide another $7,500 off of the sticker price.

Mercedes-Benz will start with two models: the EQS 450+ and the EQS 580 4MATIC, which has a higher base price of $120,160. These two variants will be offered in three trims — the top is appropriately called Pinnacle — pushing that price point as high as 126,360, including the $1,050 destination charge.

Mercedes’s decision to price the EQS below the S Class, which starts at $$112,150 (including destination charge), illustrates the stakes at play here. The S-Class has long been the company’s storied and luxurious flagship sedan. Mercedes, which earlier this year outlined a €40 billion ($47 billion) plan to become an electric-only automaker by the end of the decade, needs to either convert old S Class owners to the EQS or bring in a new slate of buyers.

The 2022 Mercedes-Benz exudes ultra-luxury, as expected. But it’s also loaded with tech, including a 56-inch hyperscreen, monster HEPA air filter and the software that intuitively learns the driver’s wants and needs. There is even a new fragrance called No.6 MOOD Linen and is described as “carried by the green note of a fig and linen.”

Mercedes is betting that the tech, coupled with performance, design and the price will attract buyers. As TechCrunch has noted before, this is a high-stakes game for Mercedes. The German automaker is banking on a successful rollout of the EQS in North America that will erase any memory of its troubled — and now nixed — launch of the EQC crossover in the United States.

#automotive, #electric-vehicles, #mercedes-benz, #transportation

Audi launches its newest EV, the 2022 Q4 e-tron SUV

Audi has launched the Q4 e-tron, the fifth electric vehicle in its growing portfolio, as part of the German automaker’s plan to bring more than 30 EVs and plug-in hybrids to market by 2025.

The Q4 e-tron is Audi’s entry electric SUV model and the price reflects that. The vehicle, which was first revealed as a concept at the 2019 Geneva International Motor Show, has a starting price of $44,995, including the $1,095 destination charge. It’s worth noting that the Q4 electric vehicle is about $1,000 cheaper than the gas-powered 2022 Q5 SUV.

The Q4 e-tron is more like a family of vehicles with three members. There is the Q4 50 e-tron and a Q4 Sportback 50 quattro, a variation that is all-wheel drive and powered by dual asynchronous motors. Both of these vehicles have an estimated EPA range of 241 miles.

Then there’s the Q4 40 e-tron, which is rear-wheel drive and powered by a single asynchronous electric motor. The EPA estimates for the Q4 40 e-tron has not been released.  Here’s a breakdown of some of the basic specs below.

Audi Q4 e-tron

Image Credits: Screenshot/Audi

The new Q4, as TechCrunch noted earlier this year, is packed with tech in its stout-looking package, notably the option to add an AR-enabled windshield.

The Q4 is a larger compact SUV with a short overhang and wheelbase of 9.1 feet. This makes the Q4 look compact from the outside. Inside though, there is combination there’s an interior of 6 feet in length, the kind of space found in a large full-size class SUV. The Q4 40 e-tron and Q4 50 e-tron models come standard with 19′-inch wheels equipped with all-season tires. The Sportback variant of the Q4 50 e-tron quattro receives larger standard 20-inch wheels with all-season tires, according to Audi.

Importantly, the Q4 also shares the same architecture with parent company VW’s modular electric drive toolkit chassis, or MEB platform. This flexible modular system, which was first introduced by VW in 2016, was developed to make it more efficient and cost-effective to produce a variety of EVs.

 

 

#audi, #automotive, #electric-vehicles, #tc, #transportation, #venture-capital

The Station: Gogoro scoots into a SPAC, a Rivian milestone and Tesla prepares to unleash FSD beta software

The Station is a weekly newsletter dedicated to all things transportation. Sign up here — just click The Station — to receive it every weekend in your inbox.

Hello readers: Welcome to The Station, your central hub for all past, present and future means of moving people and packages from Point A to Point B.

The future of transportation beat was flooded with news this week as per ushe. There are two stories that I want to highlight here. First up, is that the first Rivian R1T electric pickup truck in “Rivian blue” rolled off the assembly line at the company’s factory in Normal, Illinois. The R1T and the upcoming R1S SUV are also now certified to be sold in all 50 states (at least online).

This marks a milestone more than a decade in the making for the automaker and its founder and CEO, RJ Scaringe, who started the company in 2009 as Mainstream Motors before adopting the Rivian name two years later. Rivian has undergone explosive growth in terms of people, backers and partners in the past few years. If the company has a successful IPO, which it confidentially filed for recently, it could grow even faster.

Next up, is Tesla and its “Full Self-Driving” beta software, which is about to become accessible to a lot more owners.

The FSD Beta v10.0.1 software update, which has already been pushed out to a group of select owners, will become more widely available starting September 24. Tesla CEO Elon Musk issued a caveat that personal driving metrics captured over a seven-day period via telemetry data will determine whether owners who have paid for its FSD software can access the latest beta version that promises more automated driving functions.

A Reddit post from several months ago provides hints on what data will be used. The poster, who has reversed engineered the Tesla app, found that the company was getting ready to implement insurance directly into the app. There will be a new safety rating page that will track an owner’s vehicle and is linked to their insurance. It’s possible that this is what Musk was referring to when he tweeted “beta button will request permission to assess driving behavior using Tesla insurance calculator. If driving behavior is good for 7 days, beta access will be granted.”

According to the Redditor, the app will track the number of times the ABS is activated, average number of hours driven daily, number of times Autopilot is disabled because alert is ignored, forward collision warnings, amount of time spent at an unsafe following distance and intensity of acceleration and braking.

This release on September 24, which will mean potentially thousands of Tesla owners trying out beta software on public roads, is going to test the will of regulators. Jennifer Homendy, the new head of the National Transportation Safety Board, told the WSJ that Tesla shouldn’t roll out this latest software update until it can address “basic safety issues.” NTSB is not a regulator; it investigates crashes and issues safety recommendations. So while her voice matters and is listened to, the NTSB cannot prevent Tesla from pushing this software update, or any other one, to owners.

Finally, TechCrunch Disrupt is here! The event kicks off Tuesday and I hope to see you all there. There’s even a photo booth (virtual) and I want you to share your photos if you use it.

As always, you can email me at kirsten.korosec@techcrunch.com to share thoughts, criticisms, opinions or tips. You also can send a direct message to me at Twitter — @kirstenkorosec.

Micromobbin’

Lane detection, pedestrian detection, advanced braking systems. These sound like driver assistance features you might find in a new SUV, sedan or truck. These days, this tech is creeping into electric scooters.

The pressure on operators to build scooters that are robust, safe and combat issues like sidewalk clutter has prompted companies to develop and equip their vehicles with advanced driver assistance features. Operators like Voi, Spin, Superpedestrian, Zipp and Bird have all started to integrate tech that can detect when someone is riding on the sidewalk or parking a scooter where it shouldn’t be. Whether through camera-based computer vision or through really accurate geopositioning software, these scooters not only know exactly where a rider is, but they can also put the brakes on or slow them down if they’re breaking the rules.

The question is, is it necessary? My view is that this wouldn’t be necessary if cities stopped offloading the cost of safety onto operators and instead invested in protected bike lanes.

Check out my ExtraCrunch story that looks deeper into the tech, which I’ve dubbed scooter ADAS.

Bird launches its shared e-bike in San Diego

Bird has an exclusive micromobility contract with San Diego State University. Bird’s bike share operation, which was officially launched in June, will be available to the 34,000 students on campus.

Brooklyn Bridge gets a dedicated bike lane

Bikers these days don’t know how good they’ve got it. I remember when I had to ring my bike bell like a mad woman trying to get pedestrians to part for me as I attempted to ride over the busy Brooklyn Bridge. Now, the iconic bridge has its own dedicated two-way bike lane. This is huge news. HUGE. I only wish I were back home to see it. And the best part is that the lane was taken from cars and given back to the people!

Compact, foldable and made in Japan

A company called Shaero just launched in Tokyo with a docked shared tiny moped that can be folded and stored inside lockers between trips. Forget scooter ADAS — more of this please!

Tax break for e-bikes

The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee proposed creating a 15 percent tax credit for e-bike purchases if you earn less than $75,000 per year. This is down from a 30 percent rebate with no income limits in the last version of the bill, which would have been way better, but I guess baby steps?

The latest e-bikes

This week a lot of new e-bikes launched. Here’s a bit of a roundup:

The Crown Cruiser is a retro-futuristic looking e-bike with inbuilt smart technologies like anti-theft tech and a gyro and accelerometer sensor that detects impact. The lightweight frame is made out of carbon fiber, it’s got long-range swappable 36V or 48V batteries with a range of 100 miles or more and its DC hub motor is so powerful the bike can hit top speeds of 31 mph. The Cruiser is currently fundraising on Indiegogo, and has received a £139,000 Sustainable Innovation grant from the UK government.

Daymak has announced the release of their Terra e-bike, part of the company’s Avvenire series. The bike comes in the Terra Deluxe (targeted MSRP of $3,495) and Terra Ultimate (targeted MSRP of $7,999). With two 15W solar panels that trickle life into the battery and multi-level pedal assist, it can get up to 60miles of range and a max speed of 20 mph. The Terra comes with built-in Bluetooth speakers and a drink holder. It also has launched with RidePoints and Daymak Drive X capabilities, which according to Daymak mean that riders can collect redeemable points via the company’s EV reward program for just riding around, and that the bike is blockchain-enabled.

Harley-Davidson is going to offer limited sales through its ebike spinoff Serial 1, of vintage-inspired electric bike model known as the limited edition S1 Series ebike.

Zaiser Motors announced that it reached its Wefunder campaign goals and has released the specs for its platform redesign, which includes the addition of a second sportier electric motorcycle, the Arrow. Its first “Electrocycle” is called the Silhouette and and has 300 miles of range with a 120 mph top speed. Both designs look like something you might make Yoshi drive on Mario Kart, complete with a shiny and bubbly red chassis. The Arrow is designed for city riders, is priced at $8,500 and has an expected range of 160 miles with a 100 mph top speed.

Active lifestyle brand Retrospec has released the Valen Rev, a moto-style electric bike that makes me want to cruise alongside a boardwalk on a California beach. Honestly, it’s a really cute-looking bike, with a retro vibe to it, a tan leather saddle and a choice between fog blue, olive green or black — all matte. It’s got a 48V motor, 6 levels of pedal assist and a 50-mile range, all for the reasonable price of $1,799.99.

— Rebecca Bellan

Deal of the week

money the station

It seemed as if the number of mobility-related SPAC deals had slowed. That brief pause was broken by Gogoro, the 10-year-old Taiwanese company best known for its electric scooters and swappable battery infrastructure.

The company has agreed to merge with Poema Global, a SPAC affiliated with Princeville Capital, in a deal that sets its enterprise valuation at $2.35 billion. If approved by shareholders. the company will trade on the Nasdaq exchange under the symbol GGR.

Gogoro stands to make $550 million in proceeds, assuming as TechCrunch Catherine Shu reports, there are no redemptions. (A growing trend I really need to address in this newsletter). Those funds include an oversubscribed private investment in public equity of more than $250 million and $345 million held in trust by Poema Global. Investors in the PIPE include strategic partners like Hon Hai (Foxconn) Technology Group and GoTo, the Indonesian tech giant created through the merger of Gojek and Tokopedia, and new and existing investors like Generation Investment Management, Taiwan’s National Development Fund, Temasek and Dr. Samuel Yin of Ruentex Group, Gogoro’s founding investor.

So why now? Founder and CEO Horace Luke provided a curious answer that I know will cause a few of my institutional investor friends to raise an eyebrow or two. Luke first explained that with fresh partnerships in place — Yadea and DCJ in China to build a battery-swapping network and Hero MotoCorp in India to launch scooters — it was time to take the company to the next level.

And he added that Gogoro decided to go the SPAC route because “you can talk a lot deeper about what the business opportunity is, what the structure is, what the partnerships are, so you can properly value a company rather than a quick roadshow. Given our business plans, it gives us a great opportunity to focus on the expansion.”

Huh. Anyone ever heard of a “quick roadshow?” Comments from some founders who have taken the traditional IPO path would suggest the contrary.

Other deals that got my attention this week …

BridgeLinx, the Lahore-based startup that operates a digital freight marketplace, raised $10 million in what is the largest seed financing round in Pakistan. Harry Stebbings’ 20 VC, Josh Buckley’s Buckley Ventures and Indus Valley Capital co-led the startup’s financing round, which Salman Gul, co-founder and chief executive of BridgeLinx, told TechCrunch completed within weeks.

Chaldal, the Bangladeshi grocery delivery startups that picks up orders from its own warehouses instead of retail stores, closed a $10 million Series C round led by Taavet Hinrikus, co-founder of Wise, Topia chief product officer Sten Tamkivi and Xploration Capital, with participation from Mir Group. The company plans to use the funds to expand into 15 new cities.

EnerVenue, a battery startup that says it has developed technology to revolutionize stationary energy storage, raised $100 million from strategic investors including Schlumberger, Saudi Aramco’s VC arm and Stanford University. The investment comes around a year after EnerVenue raised a $12 million seed. The company is planning on using the funds to scale its nickel-hydrogen battery production, including a factory in the U.S., and has entered a manufacturing and distribution agreement with Schlumberger for international markets.

GPB Capital Holdings LLC, the private-equity firm being investigated by the SEC on fraud allegations, is selling its car dealership company Prime Automotive Group for about $880 million, WSJ reports.

General Motors has invested in Oculii, a software startup that aims to improve the spatial resolution of radar sensors by up to 100-fold. The new funding, which the two companies say is in the millions, comes just months after Oculii closed a $55 million Series B.

Glovo, the Spanish on-demand delivery platform that operates a network of dark stores focused on urban convenience shopping, announced the acquisition of two regional “Instacart-style” grocery picking and delivery startups, Madrid-based Lola Market and Portugal’s Mercadão. Terms of the acquisitions are not being disclosed.

Muver, a mobile app that lets drivers earn more by managing their interactions with ride-sharing and delivery services, raised $1.2 million in a seed round led by Xploration Capital joined by Baring Vostok, Angelsdeck and Rapid Ladder Capital.

Rolls-Royce Holdings and Babcock International Group sold their combined 39% stake in air-to-air refueling company AirTanker Holdings Ltd. for 315 million pounds ($435 million) to Equitix Investment Management, Reuters reported.

Siemens wants to sell its logistics unit for roughly 500 million euro ($591 million) as part of the German industrial conglomerate’s plan to exit non-core businesses and focus on its industrial operations, Reuters reported.

UPS agreed to acquire Roadie, a platform that uses gig workers to provide local same-day delivery in the United States. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. The acquisition signals shipping giant’s move into same-day delivery, particularly perishable and other goods that are not compatible with the UPS network.

Volta Trucks, the EV startup, raised €37 million ($44 million) to accelerate its plans to produce and sell large cargo vehicles. The round was led by New York-based Luxor Capital Group and returning investor Byggmästare Anders J Ahlström Holding of Stockholm. New investors included U.S. electric truck and battery manufacturer Proterra and supply chain management company Agility. Volta Trucksy said it plans to pilot a fleet of vehicles in London and Paris early next year.

Policy corner

the-station-delivery

Hello everyone! Welcome back to policy corner. Remember the safety probe the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration opened into Tesla Autopilot in August? In case your memory needs refreshing: NHTSA opened a preliminary investigation into 12 (originally eleven) incidents of Tesla cars crashing into parked emergency vehicles. The regulator ordered Tesla to hand over detailed data on the ADAS by October 22 or risk facing a fine of up to $115 million.

Earlier this week, NHTSA sent letters to 12 automakers — including Ford, VW, and General Motors — requesting data on their Level 2 ADAS to aid it in its investigation. The letter to Ford says the information request is “to gather information in support of [the agency’s] comparative analysis amongst production vehicles equipped with the ability to control both steering and braking/accelerating simultaneously under some circumstances.”

Among the data NHTSA is interested in obtaining: the number of vehicles equipped with ADAS the automaker has manufactured; how the company approaches the enforcement of driver attentiveness; other details about the system, like the conditions that would require driver take-over; as well as any consumer complaints, lawsuits, or crash reports related to the system.

Why is this news in policy corner? Well, similar to how each Supreme Court adjudication creates the law, the results of NHTSA’s investigations could also set a precedent for how ADAS is regulated writ large. The agency leveraging its broad authority to gather information could result in new standards or rules for how automakers develop and deploy ADAS in millions of cars now and into the future.

It’s important to remember that NHTSA really is empowered with a huge amount of authority — they could issue a recall of every Tesla on the road, if they so deemed that its Autopilot was sufficiently unsafe.

Speaking of Tesla and GM … it looks likely that the per-manufacturer cap disqualifying the two automakers’ vehicles from the so-called “30D” $7,500 tax credit may be removed soon. They’re disqualified because each automaker has sold more than 200,000 EVs. Anyway, there are two separate proposals being debated in Congress, one in the House and one in the Senate, as part of a larger effort to overhaul and potentially dramatically expand the 30D credit (I wrote about it here). While the proposals have a few significant differences, removing the manufacturer cap isn’t one of them. What that means is a Tesla Model 3 or a new Cadillac EV would once again qualify.

One more note … Evidently, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities halted the approval of new applications for its grant program for purchasing an electric vehicle — because the $30 million earmarked to cover the program is already nearly out of money! Under the Charge Up New Jersey program, people can apply for grants of up to $5,000 for an EV. But demand is so high that that money is already nearly gone.

— Aria Alamalhodaei

Notable news and other tidbits

Let’s dig into the news of the week …

Autonomous vehicles

Walmart has tapped Argo AI and Ford to launch an autonomous vehicle delivery service in Austin, Miami and Washington, D.C. The service will allow customers to place online orders for groceries and other items using Walmart’s ordering platform. Argo’s cloud-based infrastructure will be integrated with Walmart’s online platform, routing the orders and scheduling package deliveries to customers’ homes. Initially, the commercial service will be limited to specific geographic areas in each city and will expand over time. The companies will begin testing later this year.

Batteries

Redwood Materials, the company started by former Tesla co-founder and CTO JB Straubel that aims to create a circular supply chain for batteries, is expanding beyond recycling. Redwood announced plans to simplify the supply chain by producing critical battery materials and is currently scouting a location for a new million-square-foot factory, at a cost of over $1 billion.

That factory will be dedicated to the production of cathodes and anode foils, the two essential building blocks of a lithium-ion battery structure — up to a projected volume of 100 gigawatt-hour per year’s worth of materials, enough for one million electric vehicles, by 2025.

Electric vehicles

Ford Motor announced plans to invest another $250 million and add 450 jobs to increase production capacity of its upcoming F-150 Lightning to 80,000 all-electric trucks annually. The announcement comes after receiving more than 150,000 pre-orders for the all-electric pickup truck. The additional funds and jobs will be spread out across its new Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan, Van Dyke Electric Powertrain Center and Rawsonville Components Plant.

Lucid Group, the all-electric automaker slated to go public this year, said one variant of its upcoming luxury Air sedan has an EPA range of more than 520 miles. The official rating of the Lucid Air Dream Edition Range variant pushes Lucid past Tesla, a company that has long dominated in this category. This announcement not only gives Lucid bragging rights, it reveals a bit about the company’s strategy to offer a variety of versions of the Air sedan with prices ranging between $169,000 and $77,400.

The National Transportation Safety Board announced via Twitter it will investigate a Tesla vehicle crash that killed two people in Coral Gables, Florida. It is not clear if the company’s advanced driver assistance system Autopilot was engaged at the time.

Polestar has shared a few more details of its future electric SUV, including that it will have only two rows of seats, offer single-motor and dual-motor versions and have a powertrain that goes beyond EV versions of the Volvo XC90, Car and Driver reported.

People news

Clive Sinclair, the British entrepreneur and inventor behind the ZX personal computer, pocket calculator and numerous other consumer electronics, died at age 81. Sinclair was also interested in electric vehicles. He invented the infamous Sinclair C5 electric trike, which would spectacularly fail in 1982 only to gain a cult following many years later. Sinclair would invent other electric vehicles, including the electric bike called Sinclair Zike in 1992. He actually spent much of his time in the past 12 years working on personal transportation vehicles like the foldable A bike.

Ford Motor has hired Mike Amend as its chief digital and information officer as the automaker seeks to expand into software, subscriptions and in-vehicle connectivity. Amend, who was president of Lowe’s Online for three years, will focus on Ford’s “use of data, software and technology” — all areas central to Ford’s new Ford+ strategy.

Misc. bits

CNBC writes about headlights and how they’re undergoing a technological revolution that has regulators trying to catch up.

Hyundai, which owns a controlling interest in Boston Dynamics, announced the arrival of the “Factory Safety Service Robot,” essentially a modded up version of Spot designed for safety inspections at factories. Naturally, Hyundai is starting close to home, rolling out its first pilot at a Seoul plant for subsidiary, Kia.

Fair Financial Corp., the car subscription startup, is considering bankruptcy to eliminate debt, reported Automotive News. The company now wants to start a vehicle retailing platform called Fair Technologies.

Reilly Brennan of Trucks VC has launched a jobs board called Mobility Jobs that is focused on the future of transportation. Reilly, who has his own well regarded newsletter, is also fan of TechCrunch and so he’s giving us this code: THESTATION, which gives you dear reader 100% off if you post a job using that special code. Cheers!

#automotive, #electric-pickup-trucks, #electric-vehicles, #ford, #gogoro, #hyundai, #polestar, #reilly-brennan, #rivian, #scooters, #tesla, #the-station, #transportation, #venture-capital

How to meet the demand of EV infrastructure and maintain a stable grid

As electric vehicles (EVs) become the new standard, charging infrastructure will become a commonplace detail blending into the landscape, available in a host of places from a range of providers: privately run charging stations, the office parking lot, home garages and government-provided locations to fill in the gaps. We need a new energy blueprint for the United States in order to maintain a stable grid to support this national move to EV charging.

The Biden administration announced 500,000 charging stations to be installed nationally and additional energy storage to facilitate the shift to EVs. Integrating all of this new infrastructure and transitioning requires balancing the traffic on the grid and managing increased energy demand that stretches beyond power lines and storage itself.

The majority of EV infrastructure pulls its power from the grid, which will add significant demand when it reaches scale. In an ideal situation, EV charging stations will have their own renewable power generation co-located with storage, but new programs and solutions are needed in order to make it available everywhere. A range of scenarios for how renewables can be used to power EV charging have been piloted in the U.S. in recent years. Eventually, EVs will likely even provide power to the grid.

These technological advances will happen as we progress through the energy transition; regardless, EV infrastructure will heavily rely on the U.S. grid. That makes coordination across a range of stakeholders and behavior change among the general public essential for keeping the grid stable while meeting energy demand.

The White House’s fact sheet for EV charging infrastructure points to a technical blueprint that the Department of Energy and the Electric Power Research Institute will be working on together. It is critical that utilities, energy management and storage stakeholders, and the general public be included in planning — here’s why.

Stakeholder collaboration

Charging infrastructure is currently fragmented in the U.S. Much of it is privatized and there are complaints that unless you drive a Tesla, it is hard to find charging while on the road. Some EV owners have even returned to driving gas-powered vehicles. There’s reason to be hopeful that this will rapidly change.

ChargePoint and EVgo are two companies that will likely become household names as their EV networks expand. A coalition made up of some of the largest U.S. utilities — including American Electric Power, Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Entergy, Southern Company and the Tennessee Valley Authority — called the Electric Highway Coalition, announced plans for a regional network of charging stations spanning their utility territories.

Networks that swap out private gas stations for EV charging is one piece of the puzzle. We also need to ensure that everyone has affordable access and that charging times are staggered — this is one of the core concerns on every stakeholder’s mind. Having charging available in a range of places spreads out demand, helping keep power available and the grid balanced.

Varying consumer needs including location and housing, work schedules and economic situations require considerations and new solutions that make EVs and charging accessible to everyone. What works in the suburbs won’t suit rural or urban areas, and just imagine someone who works the night shift in a dense urban area.

Biden’s plan includes, “$4 million to encourage strong partnerships and new programs to increase workplace charging regionally or nationally, which will help increase the feasibility of [plug-in electric vehicle] ownership for consumers in underserved communities.” Partnerships and creative solutions will equally be needed.

An opportunity to fully engage technologies we already have

“Fifty percent of the reductions we have to make to get to net-zero by 2050 or 2045 are going to come from technologies that we don’t yet have,” John Kerry said recently, causing a stir. He later clarified that we also have technologies now that we need to put to work, which received less air time. In reality, we are just getting started in utilizing existing renewable and energy transition technologies; we have yet to realize their full potential.

Currently, utility-scale and distributed energy storage are used for their most simplistic capabilities, that is, jumping in when energy demand reaches its peak and helping keep the grid stable through services referred to as balancing and frequency regulation. But as renewable energy penetration increases and loads such as EVs are electrified, peak demand will be exacerbated.

The role that storage plays for EV charging stations seems well understood. On-site storage is used daily to provide power for charging cars at any given time. Utility-scale storage has the same capabilities and can be used to store and then supply renewable power to the grid in large quantities every day to help balance the demand of EVs.

A stable power system for EVs combines utilities and utility-scale storage with a network of subsystems where energy storage is co-located with EV charging. All of the systems are coordinated and synchronized to gather and dispatch energy at different times of the day based on all the factors that affect grid stability and the availability of renewable power. That synchronization is handled by intelligent energy management software that relies on sophisticated algorithms to forecast and respond to changes within fractions of a second.

This model also makes it possible to manage the cost of electricity and EV demand on the grid. Those subsystems could be municipal-owned locations in lower-income areas. Such a subsystem would collect power in its storage asset and set the price locally on its own terms. These systems could incentivize residents to power up there at certain times of the day in order to make charging more affordable by providing an alternative to the real-time cost of electricity during peak demand when using a home outlet, for example.

Behavior change

The greatest challenge for utilities will be how to manage EV loads and motivate people to stagger charging their vehicles, rather than everyone waiting until they are home in the evening during off-peak renewable generation periods. If everyone plugged in at the same time, we’d end up cooking dinner in the dark.

While there’s been talk of incentivizing the public to charge at different times and spread out demand, motivators vary among demographics. With the ability to charge at home and skip a trip to the “gas station” — or “power station,” as it may be referred to in the future — many people will choose convenience over cost.

The way we currently operate, individual energy usage seems like an independent, isolated event to consumers and households. EVs will require everyone — from utilities and private charging stations to consumers — to be more aware of demand on the grid and act more as communities sharing energy.

Thus, a diverse charging network alone won’t solve the issue of overtaxing the grid. A combination of a new blueprint for managing energy on the grid plus behavior change is needed.

#automotive, #charging-station, #column, #electric-vehicles, #energy, #energy-management, #energy-storage, #opinion, #tc, #transportation, #vehicle-to-grid

Elon Musk praises Chinese automakers amidst regulatory scrutiny

An unusually scripted Elon Musk issued conciliatory and complimentary comments to Chinese automakers during a pre-recorded appearance at China’s World New Energy Vehicle Congress, striking a pose that is worlds away from his commentary style in the United States.

“I have a great deal of respect for the many Chinese automakers for driving these [EV and AV] technologies,” he said, the reflection of a ring light just visible in the window over his left shoulder. The entire tableau was enough to make one suspect that there was a crisis communications expert just out of frame, urging him to continue with his prepared remarks.

Then again, perhaps Musk doesn’t need any external coaxing; China is one of the most lucrative markets for electric vehicles in the entire world, accounting for around one-fifth – or $6.66 billion – of Tesla’s overall sales last year, according to regulatory filings.

While the United States continues to be one Tesla’s largest market, the company has aggressively pursued expansion in China, including opening Gigafactory Shanghai in 2019 to manufacture the Model 3 and Model Y. Tesla faces competition from Chinese automakers, including electric car startup Xpeng and the search giant company Baidu.

“My frank observation is that Chinese automobile companies are the most competitive in the world, especially because some are very good at software, and it is software that will most shape the future of the automobile industry, from design to manufacturing and especially autonomous driving,” Musk said in the message.

The company’s entrance into the EV market of the world’s most populous nation was bumpy at first, but Tesla managed to turn it around. Last year, the Tesla Model 3 was the best-selling EV in China. Tesla has also received unprecedented autonomy in the region, especially as it is the only non-Chinese automaker allowed to wholly own its local subsidiary. It’s a fact that Musk’s noted in past public appearances.

“I think something that’s really quite noteworthy here is, Tesla’s the only foreign manufacturer to have a hundred percent owned factory in China,” Musk said during the company’s Battery Day event last year. “This is often not well understood or not appreciated, but to have the only hundred percent owned foreign factory in China is a really big deal, and it’s paying huge dividends.”

But it hasn’t all been roses: the company has faced a flurry of negative media from both consumers and regulators this year, beginning in February when Chinese government officials summoned company executives for a meeting over vehicle safety concerns.  (To which Tesla said, “We sincerely accepted the guidance of government departments and deeply reflected on shortcomings in our business operations.”)

Then, in April, a woman who said she was a Tesla owner protested the company at the Shanghai auto show in April. Bloomberg reported a few months later that Tesla was attempting to build relationships with Chinese social media influencers and auto-industry publications to combat all the bad PR.

In his pre-recorded remarks, Musk also responded to a question on self-driving vehicles and data security, calling it “not only the responsibility of a single company but also the cornerstone of the whole industry development.” This issue is especially sensitive after news emerged that the Chinese military banned drivers from parking their Tesla’s at its facilities. Last month, China released new regulations aimed at bolstering data security in connected automobiles, Tech Wire Asia reported. Tesla and other automakers, including Ford and BMW, moved to establish local data storage centers in China.

“Tesla will work with national authorities in all countries to ensure data security of intelligent and connected vehicles,” he added.

#automotive, #china, #electric-vehicles, #elon-musk, #tesla, #transportation, #xpeng

Ford boosts spending to increase production capacity of its F-150 Lightning electric truck

Ford said Thursday it will invest another $250 million and add 450 jobs to increase production capacity of its upcoming F-150 Lightning to 80,000 all-electric trucks annually. The announcement comes after receiving more than 150,000 pre-orders for the all-electric pickup truck.

The additional funds and jobs will be spread out across its new Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan, Van Dyke Electric Powertrain Center and Rawsonville Components Plant, Ford said.

The announcement was made during an event at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center, a 500,000-square-foot facility expansion that was part of Ford’s $700 million investment in its Rouge Complex. Gas-powered F-Series trucks are also assembled at the Rouge Complex.

Ford also announced that has started pre-production of the Lightning trucks. These prototypes will be used for real-world testing. The truck will be available to customers in spring 2022.

The all-electric pickup truck is a critical piece of the company’s $30 billion investment into electrification and one of a trifecta of Ford EV debuts and launches in the 18 months, including the Mustang Mach-E. The Lightning may be the most meaningful in terms of the bottom line. The Ford F-150 Lightning follows the introduction of the all-electric Mustang Mach-E and the E-Transit, a configurable all-electric cargo van focused on commercial customers.

The F-150 Lightning will be offered in four trims, which includes the base, XLT, Lariat and Platinum series, and two battery options. The truck, which has an aluminum alloy body, is powered by two in-board electric motors, comes standard with four-wheel drive and has an independent rear suspension. The base version will be priced at $39,974 before any federal or state tax credits, while the midseries XLT model will start at $52,974. All of these prices exclude the destination fees and taxes.

#electric-vehicles, #f-150-lightning, #ford, #tc

Lucid Air snags the longest range EV title, surpassing Tesla

Lucid Group, the all-electric automaker slated to go public this year, said Thursday that one variant of its upcoming luxury Air sedan has an EPA range of more than 520 miles. The official rating of the Lucid Air Dream Edition Range variant pushes Lucid past Tesla, a company that has long dominated in this category.

The official EPA range of the Lucid Air — and its many editions — have been expected to be as high or higher than some of Tesla’s models. This announcement not only gives Lucid bragging rights, it reveals a bit about the company’s strategy to offer a variety of versions of the Air sedan with prices ranging between $169,000 and $77,400.

Lucid initially planned to sell one version of Lucid Air Dream Edition, essentially its first and flagship model of the sedan. There are now two versions: the Lucid AirDream Edition Range, which has 520 miles of range when equipped with 19-inch tires and 933 horsepower, and the Lucid Air Dream Edition Performance, a more powerful version with 1,111 horsepower that can travel 471 miles on a single charge when equipped with 19-inch tires. The range on the Dream Edition Range drops to 481 and the Dream Edition Performance to 451 miles when the vehicles have 21 inch tires.

Lucid Group CTO and CEO Peter Rawlinson credits the range figure on a combination of its 900V battery and battery management system, smaller drive units and its electric drive train technology. Rawlinson noted that he believed this is a new record for any EV.

Lucid plans to produce and sell other variants of the Air, including a Grand Touring version that received a 516-mile EPA range rating. The Grand Touring variant has a starting price of $139,000, while the longest range Dream Edition has a base price of $169,000. The automaker plans to sell two other, less expensive versions: the Air Touring that starts at $95,000 and the Air Pure with a $77,400 base price.

#automotive, #electric-vehicles, #lucid-air, #lucid-group, #tesla, #transportation

Gravity is launching an indoor charging hub in NYC with plans to scale

Electric vehicle fleet and infrastructure startup Gravity thinks it has cracked the code for urban EV charging infrastructure. 

The company, which was founded in February this year, announced its construction project to convert an indoor parking garage in the middle of Manhattan into a public EV fast charging hub. When the 29-space garage on 42nd Street, which Gravity is leasing from real estate firm Related Companies, opens in within a few weeks, it will be the island’s first dedicated EV charging space. Based on Gravity’s plans to scale, it won’t be the last. 

“We’ll probably see five to ten fast charging sites of different capacity in Manhattan over the next six months or so,” Moshe Cohen, Gravity’s CEO and founder told TechCrunch. “We’ve gone with Con Ed to dozens of sites in the five boroughs. We’ve surveyed the power grid and have plans to scale because it doesn’t work as a one-off. It works with scale, with coverage areas.”

Finding a place to park your car in New York City is a nightmare in and of itself. Finding a park and a charge for your EV is like finding a unicorn, and probably an expensive unicorn at that. Most of NYC’s EV charge points are behind the literal paywalls of parking garages, where you might find one or two Blink or EV Connect chargers nestled into a sea of ICE vehicle parking spaces. With Gravity’s hub, parking is free while cars are being charged. The only cost is that of electricity.

Gravity is not the first to recognize the problem of charging electric vehicles in an urban core. Electric mobility company Revel, first known for its shared e-mopeds around New York City, opened the city’s first public fast charging hub in an outdoor lot in Brooklyn this past June. Con Edison, New York’s electric utility company, has supported both initiatives with its electric vehicle charging incentives and rewards.

For Gravity’s site at Manhattan Plaza, the company worked with Con Ed to pull spare capacity power from two separate utility rooms on 42nd Street and Ninth Avenue, bringing in around 2,400 amps of power, which Cohen says is extremely rare to have condensed in one place in any city, let alone New York.

Cohen said he spent a long time location-scouting before choosing this as Gravity’s first spot, and proximity to power wasn’t the only game changer here. The site has its own dedicated entrance off 42nd Street and falls right between Ninth and Tenth Avenues, which is not only close to Times Square and the heart of the city, but also to the Lincoln Tunnel which provides access to and from New Jersey.

“Our vision is we are bringing infrastructure to all the places that cars are right now, so if you’re in our coverage area, you should never have to worry about charging your vehicle, because it’ll get charged where it’s parked,” said Cohen. “So if you think about dense urban areas like Manhattan or downtown Chicago, where are cars parked? They’re either on a curb or they’re inside parking garages, and they’re very space constrained. And so you have to design different equipment that deals with the space and power constraints in order to have charging happen in all those places.”

Design is a big part of Gravity’s business model, from the design of the space itself to the charging equipment. The company says it’s collaborating with Jasmit Rangr, an architect who is known for integrating his buildings with the landscape, climate and environment, in order to transform garages into attractive and welcoming spaces that house clean electric vehicles. 

“The whole area is for EVs only, so it’s really a chance to showcase an experience around what the world would look like if parking areas for cars had no pollution or oil spills,” said Cohen.

Indeed, the renderings do look pretty flash – not at all the dark, creepy, petrol-smelling caverns that one associates with city parking garages. Gravity says Rangr also integrated interactive touchscreens into the designs of the various spaces the company is building out around NYC. The touchscreens are designed by Gravity to help users adjust and monitor their vehicle’s charging as they wait amongst the light-filled wooden car cubbies and try to decide if the plant decor is real or fake. 

Providing standardized and simplified equipment was a big concern for Cohen, as well. He says the current model for public charging equipment in most cases includes an amalgamation of software, hardware and payment processing that are not very well integrated. Gravity has worked with an unnamed manufacturing partner to consolidate those segments and create a more seamless user experience, and that includes what’s happening on the back end of the charge, according to the company. 

Gravity’s first site will accommodate about 22 fast chargers, three intermediate chargers and a few slow chargers. All of the fast chargers are up to 180kW, which means that even when two vehicles are plugged into one installation, each plug can do 90 kW of energy. Cohen says anything below 80 kW isn’t truly fast charging, and many of the companies that claim they offer fast charging are really only able to put out around 62.5 kW. Cohen also says by sending that current through 400 amp charging cables, even smaller volt batteries like those in Teslas can receive more than 80 kW. 

The intermediate chargers use about 24kW to 30 kW equipment and charge cars within one to three hours. The slow chargers charge overnight or within six to eight hours using 11 kW equipment. 

Many of the parking spots will be taken up by Gravity’s fleet of Tesla Model Y yellow cabs, which will charge overnight, says Cohen. Bringing a fleet of electric taxis to NYC was actually the impetus behind building charging infrastructure. Cohen has a soft spot for the yellow cab as an institution and wanted to come up with a way to give it a Renaissance. He got the greenlight from Tesla to lease the vehicles for this use case and worked with the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) to change the rules so a Tesla could be seen as a taxi before setting out on the harder task of how to charge the fleet. 

“I talked to all the major charging equipment companies, and I quickly realized that there’s no charging equipment that is set up for charging fleets, and I realized the extent of the problem,” said Cohen. “We started thinking about infrastructure because the model just does not work without infrastructure and a yellow taxi using a model Y requires high levels of utilization and scale.”

In May, the TLC approved Gravity’s pilot program, and Cohen said the agency is going to release an MOU to continue the program within the next few weeks. In the meantime, Gravity wants to ramp up installing equipment at scale so that it can then grow its fleet.

“People think of mobility as this drain of cash and nobody has figured it out,” said Cohen. “I actually think that mobility and infrastructure are going to get solved together, and you’ll be able to make margins off utilization that are generous.”

#automotive, #electric-vehicles, #ev-charging, #gravity, #nyc, #tesla-model-y, #transportation

Rivian vehicles are now ready for sale in all 50 states, following key certifications

Rivian vehicles have received certifications from three agencies, the final hurdle that allows the electric automaker to sell and deliver its R1T pickup truck and R1S SUV in all 50 U.S. states.

Rivian confirmed to TechCrunch in an email that the vehicles are fully certified by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board. Bloomberg also reported that Rivian has received regulatory approval to deliver vehicles to customers.

Rivian has a direct sales model, in which customers can order its vehicles online. Dealer protection laws in many states prohibit companies like Rivian from having its own stores, where customers can take test drives and learn about financing options. However, there are no restrictions from customers ordering online from those states.

Today, 22 states allow for all vehicle manufacturers to sell vehicles to customers, according to the NRDC. In those states, Rivian can set up stores, display vehicles, offer test rides and importantly discuss financing. Another 11 states allow for only Tesla, which also has a direct sales model, to sell vehicles, often in a limited number of locations throughout the state.

Rivian plans to begin deliveries of the R1T launch edition this month. Deliveries of the R1S SUV are expected to follow this year.

Confirmation of the certifications from the state and two federal agencies followed a trio of announcements in the past several weeks that , including the first production Rivian R1T electric pickup truck in “Rivian blue” rolling off the assembly line Tuesday morning at the company’s factory in Normal, Illinois. The company’s two vehicles also received official EPA ranges of 314 miles for the first edition version of its all-electric R1T pickup truck and 316 miles for the R1T SUV.

All of this follows Rivian confidentially filing paperwork with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to go public. The company, backed by a host of institutional and strategic investors including Ford and Amazon, has not size and price range for the proposed offering.

Sources familiar with Rivian’s IPO plans said the company has not yet started the “roadshow,” a process in which an underwriting firm and company management make a series of presentations to potential investors before going public.

 

#automotive, #electric-trucks, #electric-vehicles, #ipo, #rivian, #transportation

Rivian’s first-production R1T electric pickup truck rolls off the line

The first-production Rivian R1T electric pickup truck in “Rivian blue” rolled off the assembly line Tuesday morning at the company’s factory in Normal, Illinois, marking a milestone more than a decade in the making for the automaker and its founder and CEO, RJ Scaringe.

The company, which started in 2009 as Mainstream Motors before adopting the Rivian name two years later, has undergone explosive growth in terms of people, backers and partners in the past few years.

Rivian operated in relative obscurity, aka stealth mode, for years before it revealed prototypes of its all-electric R1T truck and R1S SUV at the LA Auto Show in late 2018.

Since then, Rivian has raised billions of dollars ($10.5 billion in all); expanded its Normal, Illinois, factory; hired thousands of employees; landed Amazon as a commercial customer; and, most recently, filed confidentially for an IPO. Today, in addition to its Illinois factory, Rivian has facilities in Palo Alto and Irvine, California; and Plymouth, Michigan; and an office in the U.K.

When it first revealed the two electric vehicles in 2018, Rivian had about 600 employees. Today, it has more than 7,000.

Rivian’s announcement Tuesday, which marks the official beginning of R1T production for customers, comes after at least two delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and global chip shortage. Earlier this summer, Scaringe wrote in a letter to customers that R1T deliveries would begin in September, with the R1S to follow “shortly.”

Rivian has been juggling the dueling priorities of prepping and eventually producing the R1T and R1S for consumers and commercial delivery vans for Amazon. The Illinois factory has two separate production lines producing vehicles. One is dedicated to the R1 vehicles and the other line is for its commercial vans.

Amazon ordered 100,000 of these vans, with deliveries starting in 2021. Earlier this year, Amazon began testing the electric delivery van in several cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Earlier this month, Rivian announced that the first edition version of the R1T pickup truck has an official EPA range of 314 miles, while its R1T SUV comes in at 316 miles.

The official range and fuel economy values posted on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website align with Rivian’s previous estimates, which it advertised as 300 miles.

The moment is also important because it means Rivian has the benefit of being the first electric truck on the market. Ford’s F-150 Lightning, which isn’t expected to come on the market until spring 2022, has a targeted range of 230 miles in the standard and up to 300 miles in the extended version. The EPA has not issued official ranges for the Ford Lightning.

Rivian’s “Launch edition” R1T truck and R1S SUV come equipped with a 135-kWh battery pack that is branded as the “large pack.” Deliveries of the Launch Edition vehicles are slated to begin this month.

#automotive, #electric-vehicles, #r1t, #rivian, #rj-scaringe, #transportation

In a first, New York passes law banning new fossil fuel vehicle sales after 2034

Widespread EV charging stations will be critical for New York to feasibly phase-out new fossil fuel vehicles by its 2035 deadline.

Enlarge / Widespread EV charging stations will be critical for New York to feasibly phase-out new fossil fuel vehicles by its 2035 deadline. (credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

New York will ban the sale of fossil fuel vehicles starting in 2035 and require all new cars to produce zero emissions. The new law, signed by Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul last week, will help slash the state’s carbon pollution by 35 percent. It would put New York well on its way to achieving its statewide carbon reduction goals of 85 percent below 1990 levels.

While the sunset date is in line with other plans from the state government, hitting the goal will still require significant planning and coordination. Though EVs aren’t uncommon in New York, the state is effectively starting from zero—around 1 percent of new vehicles sold in the Empire State are fully electric.

The new law doesn’t stop at passenger vehicles. It also requires zero emissions for off-road vehicles and equipment by 2035 and for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles by 2045. There’s some wiggle room with these mandates should batteries or fuel cells for large trucks or construction equipment lag significantly. The law says zero emissions will only be required “where feasible.”

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#cars, #electric-vehicles, #fossil-fuels, #new-york, #new-york-city, #policy, #zero-emissions-vehicles

JB Straubel’s Redwood Materials is expanding into the battery materials business

Redwood Materials, the company started by former Tesla co-founder JB Straubel that aims to create a circular supply chain for batteries, is expanding its business. While it has been known primarily as a recycling firm, Redwood plans to simplify the supply chain by producing critical battery materials right here in the U.S.

To get there, the company is currently scouting a location for a new million-square-foot factory, at a cost of over $1 billion, Bloomberg reported. That factory would be dedicated to the production of cathodes and anode foils, the two essential building blocks of a lithium-ion battery structure – up to a projected volume of 100 gigawatt-hour per year’s worth of materials, enough for one million electric vehicles, by 2025.

But that’s not all. By 2030, the company expects to increase its annual battery materials production to 500 GWh, enough to power five million electric vehicles.

These numbers are incredibly ambitious. If Redwood can pull it off, it would be putting itself squarely among the ranks of the largest materials giants in the world, many of which are located in Asia. BloombergNEF estimated that consolidating the cathode supply chain to the United States, and using a certain percentage of recycled materials, could cut emissions from battery-pack production by 41%.

Recycling alone won’t take the company to these kinds of production numbers, though Redwood is also planning on expanding its recycling operations. Instead, the company said in a statement that it would produce the anodes and cathodes from both recycled batteries and “sustainably mined material.” For now, the company is staying mum on its partners for this new endeavor, but it will likely mean more announcements of partnerships and expansions in the future.

This is just the latest bold move from the company, which has been making moves to aggressively expand its footprint for months. Earlier this summer, Redwood said it would triple the size of its 150,000-square-foot recycling facility in Carson City, Nevada, and it also purchased 100 acres of land near Tesla and Panasonic’s Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada. The news also comes fresh off the heels of a $700 million Series C funding round, from major investors including Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, Baillie Gifford and Goldman Sachs Asset Management. The capital launched Redwood’s valuation to $3.7 billion.

The company has recycling deals with Tesla, Amazon, electric bus maker Proterra, and electric bike maker Specialized Bicycle Components. Redwood says it can recover between 95-95% of critical materials from recycled batteries, such as lithium, copper, nickel and cobalt.

#automotive, #electric-vehicles, #jb-straubel, #lithium-ion-batteries, #supply-chains, #tesla, #transportation

Toyota, Honda urge Congress to reject expanded tax incentive that would benefit Ford, GM, Stellantis

Toyota Motor and Honda are urging legislators to reject a bill that would expand tax incentives for union-made electric vehicles that are built in the United States.

The proposal – which Toyota blasted as “blatantly biased” and “exorbitant” in a letter to Congress – would expand the federal tax incentives from $7,500 to as much as $12,500 for union- and domestically manufactured cars. Vehicles with batteries manufactured in the U.S. would be eligible for an additional $500. If the legislation passes, vehicles from automakers like Toyota, Honda and Tesla would be excluded from the expanded credit, while the “Big Three” manufacturers in Detroit would all qualify.

“The current [bill] draft makes the objective of accelerating the deployment of electrified vehicles secondary by discriminating against American autoworkers based on their choice not to unionize,” Toyota said in a letter to lawmakers. “This is unfair, it is wrong, and we ask you to reject this blatantly biased proposal.”

The automaker further said that the bill favors the wealthy – people that may not need public funds to purchase an electric vehicle. There is a means testing provision in the bill, that would limit access to the credit to individuals making an adjusted income of up to $400,000, or households that make up to $800,000. Whether to set an income cap – and what that income cap should be – has been a major point of contention between Congressional Democrats and Republicans.

The bill also received criticism from Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who said on Twitter that it was “written by Ford/UAW lobbyists, as they make their electric car in Mexico. Not obvious how this serves American taxpayers.”

This would be the first such increase to the up to $7,500 tax credit for EVs since it was put into effect over a decade ago. The bill would also do away with a stipulation that exempts vehicles made by OEMs that have sold over 200,000 EVs from the credit, meaning that General Motor and Tesla cars would once again be eligible.

The bill did receive praise from GM, Ford Motor and Stellantis, three major automakers with workforces represented by the United Auto Workers union. The UAW also supports the proposal.

It’s being considered Tuesday by the House Ways and Means Committee. The expanded credit just one part of a massive $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill that’s currently being debated by Congress and that includes a whole slew of socially progressive proposals meant to target education, healthcare, and climate change.

#automotive, #electric-vehicles, #ford, #general-motor, #gm, #policy, #tesla, #toyota, #transportation

Ford hires new chief digital information officer as it seeks to expand into software and services

Ford Motor has hired Mike Amend as its chief digital and information officer as the automaker seeks to expand into software, subscriptions and in-vehicle connectivity. Amend, who was president of Lowe’s Online for three years, will focus on Ford’s “use of data, software and technology” — all areas central to Ford’s new Ford+ strategy, the OEM said.

The hire is just the latest sign that Ford is serious about beefing up its digital offerings for customers, as the company seeks to pivot toward high-tech segments. The company calls this plan “Ford+,” which it unveiled earlier this year. Central to this plan is electric vehicles, which Ford wants to comprise around half of its global sales by 2030, as well as expanding into new sources of revenue via subscriptions and digital services.

To that end, Amend will oversee a number of teams, including Ford’s technology and software platform function and its global data insight and analytics section.

Amend isn’t Ford’s only recent hire of note. The automaker also recently poached Doug Field — the tech executive who was leading Apple’s special projects team, and who also led the development of the Model 3 at Tesla — as chief advanced technology and embedded systems officer. The two will work closely, along with chief of product Hau Thai-Tang, Ford said.

Amend’s career includes growing the online businesses of major retailers, including Lowe’s, The Home Depot and JCPenney. Ford’s interim chief information officer, Sakis Kitsopanidis, will continue to serve as director of integrated enterprise resource planning.

#automotive, #electric-vehicles, #ford, #ford-motor, #hiring, #transportation

House infrastructure bill includes tax credits for new and used EVs

The House Ways and Means Committee has proposed a wide-ranging overhaul of the current electric vehicle incentives as part of the infrastructure bill.

Enlarge / The House Ways and Means Committee has proposed a wide-ranging overhaul of the current electric vehicle incentives as part of the infrastructure bill. (credit: Stadtratte)

On Friday, the House Ways and Means Committee released a markup of its proposed budget reconciliation bill. There’s a ton of information in the $3.5 trillion plan, but today, we’re interested in a small section of the 645-page “Budget Reconciliation Legislative Recommendations Relating to Infrastructure Financing, Green Energy, Social Safety Net, and Prescription Drug Pricing” section—specifically the parts that deal with incentives to decarbonize our vehicle fleet.

Beginning in 2010, the Federal government has incentivized people to buy or lease new plug-in vehicles by offering them a tax credit. The credit is based on battery size, starting at $2,917 for a vehicle with a 5 kWh battery and providing an additional $417 per extra kWh, topping out at $7,500. However, the credit only applies to the first 200,000 plug-ins sold by an OEM, at which point the credit begins to expire. To date, only Tesla and General Motors have sold enough plug-in vehicles to see their credits sunset.

If the budget reconciliation bill passes as is, the current tax credit (known as 30D) goes away, to be replaced by several new purchasing incentives for greener, more efficient vehicles.

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#battery-electric-vehicles, #cars, #electric-vehicles, #house-of-representatives, #infrastructure-bill, #plug-in-vehicles, #policy, #tax-code

GM extends Chevy Bolt EV production shutdown another two weeks

GM has extended a shutdown at its Orion Assembly Plant another two weeks due to a battery pack shortage related to the widespread Chevrolet Bolt EV and Bolt EUV safety recall.

GM said the extended downtime at the Orion plant will last through September 20. Orion Assembly Plant in Michigan has been shut down since August 23.

The recall, which now includes all Chevy Bolt EV and EUV models made since 2017, was issued after the automaker discovered two manufacturing defects in the battery cell that could increase the risk of fire. The possible fire risk prompted GM to recommend Bolt owners set the vehicle to a 90% state of charge limitation and avoid depleting the battery below 70 miles of range. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration recommends Bolt drivers park their vehicles away from their homes to reduce fire risk.

The automaker said it is working with its supplier LG Chem to “update manufacturing processes.”

Orion was initially shuttered in August because of a shortage of semiconductor chips. GM later notified employees that the plant would continue to be down because of a shortage of batteries related to the recall.

The recall is expected to cost GM $1.8 billion. A GM spokesperson did not provide an update on whether this extended downtime would push that number higher. The automaker has said it will seek reimbursement from LG Chem.

Chip shortages

While the global shortage of semiconductor chips has persisted, GM said it will be able to resume production at several of its plants over the next two weeks.

Full production will begin at its Fort Wayne Assembly and Silao Assembly plants, which produces the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 models, beginning September 13 after being briefly impacted by the global semiconductor shortage, GM said.

All of GM’s full-size truck and full-size SUV plants in North American will be running full production next week.

GM’s Spring Hill Assembly plant in Tennessee will resume production of the GMC Acadia and Cadillac XT5 and XT6 on September 20, after being shuttered since mid-July. That plant will be shut down again as part of a previously scheduled extended downtime beginning the week of September 27 through the week of November 22 for new-model tooling installation.

Cadillac XT4 production, which has been down since February 8, will resume at the Fairfax Assembly in Kansas. GM said production of the Chevrolet Malibu, which is also at Fairfax, will remain down.

The company extended downtimes by one week at Lansing Delta Township and Wentzville, along with an additional week of Chevrolet Blazer production downtime at its Ramos facility.

#automotive, #chevy-bolt-euv, #electric-vehicles, #gm, #tc, #transportation

Ford builds leadership team of commercial vehicle unit ahead of E-Transit launch

Ford has hired six senior-level executives to its newly minted commercial vehicles and services business unit as the automaker prepares to bring to market the E-Transit cargo van and the F-150 Lightning Pro pickup truck  — two electric vehicles it’s betting will become commercial customers’ new workhorses.

Ford pulled from within its ranks and outside the company to fill out the leadership team for the new business unit, Ford Pro. Among the new hires is Muffi Ghadiali, the CEO of Electriphi, the battery management and fleet monitoring software startup that Ford acquired in June. Ghadiali will continue to serve in his role with Electriphi and head up Ford Pro’s charging department.

Ford also hired Tim Baughman, Ford’s former controller for U.S. marketing, sales and service, to be the general manager of Ford Pro North America. Ford Pro’s new CFO will be Navin Kumar, who was previously at Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC.

Tracey Pass, who comes from The Walt Disney Company, has been hired as the chief human resources officer, and Rahul Singh, who was head of software development for Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC, is the unit’s CTO. Wanda Young, chief marketing officer of Samsung Electronics America, has taken a similar position at Ford Pro.

Ford previously announced that Hans Schep will be the general manager of Ford Pro Europe.

Ford Pro is focused on more than just commercial vans. The division, led by Ted Cannis, aims to sell fleet management, maintenance and charging services to commercial clients as well. Ford Pro has said it expects to generate $45 billion in revenue from hardware and adjacent and new services by 2025 — up from $27 billion in 2019.

That’s a hefty hike in revenue and a target that Ford plans to meet by selling a mix of combustion-engine, hybrid, and soon all-electric versions of its vans and full-size pickup trucks; and offering depot and home charging for the EVs, digital services for customers to manage and maintain their fleets, a network of service centers, and, of course, financing.

Ford’s commercial vehicle business has a head start in Europe, where it has been the leading commercial vehicle brand for six consecutive years. In North America, Ford’s share of Class 1 through Class 7 full-size commercial trucks and vans exceeds 40%, according to the company.

A new opportunity to grab more market share has opened up as governments, particularly in Europe, place stricter emissions regulations in urban areas. The E-Transit cargo van, which is expected to ship to customers later this year, and the commercial variant of the F-150 Lightning Pro play a critical role in Ford Pro’s plans. The Lightning pickup truck is expected to come to market in spring 2022.

#automotive, #e-transit, #electric-vehicles, #ev-charging, #ford, #ford-motor, #tc, #transportation

After ignoring EVs for too long, Toyota will invest $13.6 billion in batteries

Toyota's first modern battery EV will be the bZ4x, due in 2022.

Enlarge / Toyota’s first modern battery EV will be the bZ4x, due in 2022. (credit: Toyota)

Toyota was an early pioneer in hybrid electric vehicles, and it has sold more than 18 million hybrids since the introduction of the first Prius in 1997. But it’s fair to say that the world’s largest automaker has been left behind in the shift toward battery EVs.

That situation looks like it’s set to change. On Tuesday, Toyota announced that it will spend $13.6 billion (¥1.5 trillion) on batteries between now and 2030. Of that money, $9 billion (¥1 trillion) will go toward battery production, with a planned output of 180 to 200 GWh/year by the end of the decade.

“What Toyota values the most is to develop batteries that its customers can use with peace of mind. Especially, we are focusing on safety, long service life, and high-level quality to produce good, low-cost, and high-performance batteries,” said Chief Technology Officer Masahiko Maeda.

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#batteries, #cars, #electric-vehicles, #lithium-ion-battery, #solid-state-batteries, #toyota

Automakers race to design desire for luxury and tech

In late summer, car collectors converged in Monterey, Detroit and, most recently, Oxford, England, in an annual tradition focused on ogling over — and oftentimes bidding for — luxury and historic vehicles.

The outdoor luxury automotive events ruled in 2021 after a universal pause the year before due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The events, which included the Goodwood Festival Speed in July, Monterey Car Week and Woodward Dream Cruise shows in August, and the Salon Privé that wrapped up Sunday, showed off more than just swooping coupes and flashy hypercars.

The crowds, which amassed despite the delta variant, and their reaction to the vehicles that lined the plush grounds at each event reflected an unbridled fever for super-luxury cars from the past — but also from the future.

“There was a pent-up demand for a live auction,” Angus Dykman, an auction specialist for Gooding & Company, said. “We had a lot of interest in the live sales. Business has been booming. People were cheering for random cars.”

Porsche 917 cars at the 2021 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in Pebble Beach, California, U.S., on Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021. Credit: Getty images, photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

In this real-life setting, there was an underlying sense of urgency — both among newcomers and established brands — to show customers that their newest vehicles represent the future. The August stop in Monterey is still critical for luxury automakers to show off the designs of their next generation of models. Newcomers Rimac and Lucid Group invested in a Monterey presence, along with the legacy automakers like Bentley, Bugatti and Mercedes-Benz.

The throughline between the vintage and contemporary cars is the stunning designs, which are meant to woo new customers.

Collectors placed orders for the new editions of production cars before manufacturing had even started, all amid a microchip shortage and constrained fleets. They mingled with top executives from the brands. At least a dozen senior executives were spotted at Pebble Beach, including Jim Farley, CEO of Ford Motor Company; Mercedes-Benz U.S. President Dimitris Psillakis; Aston Martin CEO Tobias Moers; and Lamborghini CTO Maurizio Reggiani.

Attendees view the Bugatti Automobiles SAS Bolide during The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering in Carmel, California, U.S., on Friday, Aug. 13, 2021. Image credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

“It is the place to be when it comes to our luxury automotive business,” Moers said from the large stand Aston constructed overlooking the classic car show. “We see new customers here that we’ve never seen before. The brand stands for more than ever before with Formula 1.”

On display were the racy Astons of the future, with the Aston Martin Formula 1 car centerstage to the Valkyrie and Valhalla, an indicator of how Aston sees its way forward.

“It is a statement,” Moers said. “Last year everyone thought the company is done, and then Lawrence Stroll stepped in and put a lot of money in the company. We are back and we are stronger than ever before engaging with the customers.” While much of the U.K. was shut down, he hired new department heads from Bentley, Ford and Porsche.

As a new CEO who took charge during the pandemic, it was also Moers’ first time meeting his North American employees, dealers and customers.

Moers comes from Mercedes-AMG and presents as a confident executive who believes his experience in electrification gives him an edge. “Aston is an ultra-luxury business. They’d always been famous for beautiful cars. With new technologies that are available, there’s no compromise anymore,” he said.

While impressing the Pebble Beach crowd matters, he’s also focused on Aston’s business in China, and how to leverage Mercedes engineering into an expanded Aston portfolio.

“In China, you face different customers than North America, a young population of customers. You have 18 to 30s, and then the 60s upwards, and in between is not existing at the moment. The pace of China is unbelievable. When it comes to the growth of the global wealth pocket, China and Asia are going to be number one.”

For Aston, the future means electrification, rethinking the user experience in the car, and scrapping past plans to draw from the last generation Mercedes-Benz technology on the car.

“We decided not to use the infotainment, the HMI of Mercedes. If you build an HMI for the future, it must be a bit more engaging.” Instead of incorporating Mercedes MBUX infotainment, he said they’re building a new infotainment system with ART, an Italian supplier that has done work for Lamborghini and Apple. “We create our own environment. Our own ecosystem.”

Aston Martin will use Mercedes’ V8 engine technology to become more efficient to meet industry requirements as a transition to electrification.

Power, passion and tech

Pebble Beach Concour

Audi Skyphere Concept. Credit: Tamara Warren

A theme emerged among car company executives at Pebble Beach to convert to a new way of powering cars to reach compliance standards, while maintaining passion for cars among customers and attracting new ones with up-to-date in-car experiences.

No one can go it alone — the small bespoke ultra-luxury makers rely on the investments of large automakers or parent companies to supply engines and electronic platforms, which are reliant on a competitive talent pool to develop. Then these small luxury brands must push harder to be unique from the large companies.

“One of the most important and expensive developments for the past year and for the future is what is called the electronic platform,” said Lamborghini CTO Reggiani. “The electronic platform is something that no one can touch and no one can see. It’s the real nervous system of the car. This is what we try to use from the group. This allows us to use the most carryover, the systems or components that are not possible to recognize.”

Lamborghini is owned by the Volkswagen Group, and some of its chief competitors are part of the same company, including Bugatti, Bentley, Audi and Porsche.

“We take what the group can offer, but we try to be different,” he said. Lamborghini was the first auto brand to embark on an Amazon Alexa partnership, which opened doors for future thinking, he said, because customers embraced the Alexa integration. “The sound is the way to create a filter for the voice recognition. Imagine in the future, you have trouble, a lamp switches on and you ask Alexa, tell me what I need to do. I need to stop the car, I need to call the service assistant. You create artificial intelligence,” Reggiani says. He said they are working to gather data to build new ways to use sound design and voice.

But for the discerning Lamborghini customer, expensive technology must be shown in attractive designs that can’t look too dated. “Design is the first reason to purchase Lamborghini,” Reggiani says. “Design is not like in the past, but a pure design. More and more design is an integration of engineering inside aesthetics. Every single component of the car must have functionality. Aerodynamic meets cooling. Now with the arrival of PHEV, the cooling will become more and more complicated. You can imagine that battery management will be super complicated. Design must fulfill the requirements in a way that is cool.”

Tech and design in the modern era

The vintage cars at Monterey Car Week were a reminder that aerodynamics and weight distribution always ruled car design principles and pushed progress forward, particularly on cars used for motorsports. But technology and design in the modern era means speed, electrification, ADAS, and connectivity housed in a system that’s sleek and timeless. “One of the most important points is to guarantee emotion and this is a requirement,” said Reggiani.

Designing the future means communicating where it’s all going. In a world that’s moving fast, luxury automakers have their work cut out to keep up with the pace. It’s a tall order. Tesla, the automaker that wasn’t present, timed its AI announcements to overlap with the week and is still the company that everyone is chasing to electrification.

In Monterey, driving vintage cars that are immaculately cared for, available in limited quantities and therefore worth millions of dollars can be an intoxicating sport. I test-drove a 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, an elegant manual-transmission roadster, along a Pacific Ocean road, which gave me a small glimpse into this hallowed world, where the price of entrance is prohibitive, especially during a pandemic.

Goodwood, Woodward and Salon Prive, which wrapped this weekend, were equally alluring. Now with the posh outdoor events in the rearview mirror, the automotive industry has shifted its gaze — for the moment — to shows solely focused on the future of transportation.

The IAA Mobility show, which kicked off this week in Munich, has so far featured a more immersive and hands-on experience as automakers try to reimagine the tired auto shows of the past. The array of electric models and concepts on display is a reminder that one thing that money can’t predict is the speed of progress.

#aston-martin, #automotive, #electric-vehicles, #iaa-mobility, #mercedes-amg, #transportation, #woodward-dream-cruise

Solid Power expands production capacity to deliver test batteries to BMW, Ford in 2022

Solid Power, a battery developer backed by Ford and BMW, is expanding its Colorado-based factory footprint as it prepares pilot production of its solid state batteries early next year.

The new production facility will be dedicated to manufacturing one of the company’s flagship products, a sulfide-based solid electrolyte material, by up to 25 times its current output. The new facility will also make room for the first pilot production line of its commercial-grade, 100 ampere battery cells. Those pouch cells are expected to go to Ford and BMW for automotive testing in early 2022, with the aim of getting them into driver-ready vehicles by the latter half of the decade.

Solid state batteries have long been considered the next breakthrough in battery technology. They lack a liquid electrolyte, the material that moves ions between the cathode and anode in traditional lithium-ion batteries, as TechCrunch writer Mark Harris has explained. The gains from such technology, SSB developers say, include increased energy density, reduced costs and a superior battery life expectancy.

Developers also say they’re safer – an important consideration in light of incidents like GM’s three-times recall of Chevrolet Bolt vehicles due to fire risk. It’s the liquid electrolyte that serves as “the spark that leads to thermal runaway,” Solid Power CEO Doug Campbell told TechCrunch. “We believe very strongly that these issues that both Hyundai and GM are now facing would be addressed with a solid-state battery.”

While the startup will be building out a new battery cell pilot production line, Solid Power’s ultimate plan is to eventually only produce the electrolyte material and license out the cell to OEMs and battery manufacturers.

“Long term, we’re a materials company,” Campbell said. “We want to be the industry leader in solid electrolyte materials.” To that end, this current expansion to cell production will likely be the company’s last, he said. The forthcoming pilot production line will produce enough to supply multiple OEMs with cells for automotive qualification testing, with the intent of larger production scales being undertaken by automakers and battery cell producers.

The decision to license the battery cells to partners, rather than produce them all in-house, is an asset-light model born from commonsense, he added.

“Let’s face it, what’s the probability that little Solid Power is going to grow up and displace the likes of Panasonic, LG, CATL?” While some companies are attempting it, like Sweden’s Northvolt, Campbell added that the material business margins are higher and don’t include direct competitors that are all but behemoths. “It’s capital-light, but it’s also realistic.”

The startup said in June it would go public via a $1.2 billion reverse merger with blank-check firm Decarbonization Plus Acquisition Corp. III. The transaction, which is anticipated to generate around $600 million in cash, should give the company enough funds through 2026 or 2027, Campbell said.

The company will need plenty of capital to take it through the rest of the decade, especially as it aims to produce enough electrolyte material to support 10 gigawatt-hour annual cell capacity by 2207. For that, it’ll need “orders of magnitude” more electrolyte production capacity than was even announced today (which is itself an order of magnitude increase), Campbell said.

Solid Power doesn’t even plan on stopping at electrolyte production. Campbell hinted that the company is also at work developing a low-cost cathode material – one that contains no nickel or cobalt, two of the costliest raw battery materials.

“[The industry] is going to be dominated by the cost of materials and the cost of materials is going to be dominated by the cost of that nickel- and cobalt-containing cathode material,” he said. “This particular chemistry that we’ll be disclosing later this year is extremely low cost, we’re talking 1/20th, 1/30th the cost of today’s [nickel manganese cobalt cathodes].”

#automotive, #bmw, #electric-vehicle-batteries, #electric-vehicles, #ford, #solid-power, #solid-state-batteries, #transportation

Wright tests its 2-megawatt electric engines for passenger planes

Just like the automotive industry, aerospace has its sights set on going electric — but flying with battery-powered engines is a tougher proposition than rolling. Wright is among the startups looking to change the math and make electrified flight possible at scales beyond small aircraft — and its 2-megawatt engine could power the first generation of large-scale electric passenger planes.

Electric cars have proven to be a huge success, but they have an advantage over planes in that they don’t need to produce enough lift to keep their own mass in the air. Electric planes have been held back by this fundamental conundrum, that the weight of the batteries needed to fly any distance with passengers aboard means the plane is too heavy to fly in the first place.

In order to escape this conundrum, the main thing to improve is efficiency: how much thrust can be produced per watt of power. Since reducing the mass of batteries is a long, slow process, it’s better to innovate in other ways: materials, airframe, and of course the engine, which in traditional jets is a huge, immensely heavy and complex internal combustion one.

Electric engines are generally lighter, simpler, and more reliable than fuel-powered ones, but in order to achieve flight you need to reach a certain level of efficiency. After all, if a jet burned a thousand gallons of fuel per second, the plane couldn’t hold the amount needed to take off. So it falls to companies like Wright and H3x to build electric engines that can produce more thrust from the same amount of stored energy.

While H3x is focused on small aircraft that will probably be taking flight sooner, Wright founder Jeff Engler explained that if you want to take on aerospace’s carbon footprint, you really have to start looking at commercial passenger jets — and Wright is planning to make one. Fortunately, despite the company’s name, they don’t need to build it entirely from scratch.

“We’re not reinventing the concept of the wing, or the fuselage, or anything like that. What changes is what propels the aircraft forward,” said Engler. He likened it to electric vehicles in that much of the car doesn’t change when you go electric, mainly the parts that have operated the same way in principle for a century. All the same, integrating a new propulsion system into a plane isn’t trivial.

Wright’s engine is a 2 megawatt motor that produces the equivalent of 2,700 horsepower, at an efficiency of around 10 kilowatts per kilogram. “It’s the most powerful motor designed for the electric aerospace industry by a factor of 2, and it’s substantially lighter than anything out there,” said Engler.

The lightness comes from a ground-up redesign using a permanent magnet approach with “an aggressive thermal strategy,” he explained. A higher voltage than is normally employed for aerospace purposes and an insulation system to match enable an engine that hits the power and efficiency levels required to put a large plane in flight.

CG render of a plane using Wright's engines

Image Credits: Wright

Wright is making sure its engines can be used by retrofitted aircraft, but it’s also working on a plane of its own with established airframe makers. This first craft would be a hybrid electric, combining the lightweight, efficient propulsion stack with the range of a liquid fuel engine. Relying on hydrogen complicates things but it makes for a much faster transition to electric flight and a huge reduction in emissions and fuel use.

Several of Wright’s motors would be attached to each wing of the proposed aircraft, providing at least two benefits. First, redundancy. Planes with two huge engines are designed to be capable of flying even if one fails. If you have six or eight engines, one failing isn’t nearly so catastrophic, and as a consequence the plane doesn’t need to carry twice as much engine as you need. Second is the stability and noise reduction that comes from having multiple engines that can be adjusted individually or in concert to reduce vibration and counteract turbulence.

Right now the motor is in lab testing at sea level, and once it passes those tests (some time next year is the plan) it will be run in an altitude simulation chamber and then up at 40,000 feet for real. This is a long term project, but an entire industry doesn’t change overnight.

Engler was emphatic about the enthusiasm and support the company has received from the likes of NASA and the military, both of which have provided considerable cash, material and expertise. When I brought up the idea that the company’s engine might end up in a new bombing drone, he said he was sensitive to that possibility, but that what he’s seen (and is aiming for) is much more in line with the defense department’s endless cargo and personnel flights. The military is a huge polluter, it turns out, and they want to change that — and cut down on how much money they spend on fuel every year as well.

“Think of how things changed when we went from propellers to jets,” said Engler. “It redefined how an airplane operates. This new propulsion tech allows for reshaping the entire industry.”

#aerospace, #aircraft, #aviation, #electric-aircraft, #electric-aviation, #electric-vehicles, #gadgets, #hardware, #startups, #tc

The Station: Lyft, Uber take action in Texas, Van Moof charges up with capital, an eVTOL SPAC deal gets knocked

The Station is a weekly newsletter dedicated to all things transportation. Sign up here — just click The Station — to receive it every weekend in your inbox.

Hello readers: Welcome to The Station, your central hub for all past, present and future means of moving people and packages from Point A to Point B.

Before you jump into the transportation news of the week, a bit of TechCrunch company news!

Private equity firm Apollo Global Management completed its acquisition of Yahoo (formerly known as Verizon Media Group, itself formerly known as Oath) from Verizon. The deal is worth $5 billion, with $4.25 billion in cash, plus preferred interests of $750 million. Verizon will be retaining 10% of the newly rebranded company. The group, aside from Yahoo properties like Mail, Sports and Finance, includes TechCrunch, AOL, Engadget and interactive media brand, RYOT. All told, the umbrella brand encompasses around 900 million monthly active users globally and is currently the third-largest internet property, per Apollo’s figures.

Looking ahead: be on the lookout for automotive and tech news coming out of IAA Mobility in Munich this week. A bit of news that broke Sunday included Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and autonomous vehicle technology company Argo AI unveiling the first version of the ID Buzz AD. Mercedes also had a busy day in the world of EVs.

As always, you can email me at kirsten.korosec@techcrunch.com to share thoughts, criticisms, opinions or tips. You also can send a direct message to me at Twitter — @kirstenkorosec.

Micromobbin’

You might have noticed that the micromobbin’ section wasn’t featured in last week’s newsletter. Well, Rebecca Bellan is making up for that with an extra long write up this week. Take it away Rebecca.

Since Auckland, New Zealand is back in a massive lockdown, the highlight of my week has been getting to write about and, and thus relive, my test of the electric utility bike built by Kiwi company Ubco. If any other electric micro-vehicle companies want to send me a tester and brighten my day, I’m always open.

Tl;dr: the Ubco bike looks like a dirt bike and rides like a moped and absolutely shreds. Pros: Smooth ride, good battery life and can carry a lot of weight and accessories. Cons: A bit on the pricey side, regenerative brakes think they know what’s best for me when I’m speeding downhill and a touchy keyfob.

Last-mile deliveries

If you’re one of those smart lazy people who orders meal kits through the likes of HelloFresh or Blue Apron, you’ve probably interacted with AxleHire without knowing it. That’s about to change.

The last-mile logistics provider announced this week that it would be expanding two pilot programs to bring cool tech to the delivery scene. Over the past year or so, the company’s been partnering with URB-E and using its network of collapsible containers strapped onto e-bikes to make deliveries in NYC, as well as Tortoise’s remotely controlled adorable delivery bots in LA. Now, those programs, which helped AxleHire reduce emissions and beat traffic, are going national.

An Indian empire arises

Ola Electric, the electric scooter manufacturing arm of ride-hailing giant Ola, is in talks to raise between $250 million to $500 million in new financing as it looks to scale its business in the South Asian market.

Falcon Edge Capital, which is potentially leading the round, values the company between $2.75 billion and $3.5 billion, which is up $1 billion from its previous 2019 raise. Side note: Ola, the initial parent firm of Ola Electric, is currently looking to file for an initial public offering.

Big box bike sales

Best Buy has a fresh lineup of electric vehicles that are available online now and coming to select stores in October, including many we’ve written about here, like the Unagi scooter and the new Bird bike. Other top names include Segway-Ninebot, SUPER73 and SWFT.

Speaking of new swag, VAAST Bikes has just revealed the E/1, the latest in the company’s sustainable bike range. The urban e-bike boasts a top notch suspension system that separates pedaling from suspension movement for a more comfortable ride, no matter how much cargo you’re packing. A step-through frame provides a low center of gravity, making it an easy enough bike to mount for riders of all ages and shapes and sizes. The E/1 will be available to purchase in the U.S., U.K. and European markets starting October, and it costs anywhere from $7,499 to $9,999.

Foldable e-bike maker Fiido has raised over $1 million on Indiegogo to fund the production and delivery of its new Fiido X. It’s got a sweet-looking minimalist design with a light and sturdy body, as well as improved pedal-assist and cycling control. Fiido says this bike is the world’s first folding e-bike with a built-in seat pole that transmits battery power. It’s got a 417.6Wh ternary lithium battery, which means when it’s in “moped mode” the range is over 130 kilometers, or around 81 miles. Not bad at all. Price is anywhere from $1,098 to $1,601 at the moment.

Swedish electric motorbike manufacturer Cake also recently released a new super lightweight e-moped that’s built for city utility riding, but can probably handle some off-road fun. The Makka weighs about 132 pounds and comes in two forms: The Makka Range, at $3,500, which is available only in Europe, has a lower maximum speed of 15 miles per hour and a range of up to 35 miles. The Makka Flex, which is available in Europe and the U.S., costs $3,800 and can hit top speeds of 28 miles per hour. The range of this vehicle is slightly less, at 30 miles.

National Drive Electric Week (sans cars)

This is the first National Drive Electric Week that has nothing to do with cars! Fabulous. At this free, two-part expert webinar, a range of experts will talk about how to get moving on two e-wheels and discuss whether or not cars are overrated (they are). Find out how policymakers and advocates are thinking about how we can get electric micromobility and public transit to dominate the roads, rather than cars, even electric ones. The event takes place Saturday, September 25 from 11am to 1pm PST on Zoom. You can register here.

Van Moof’s big raise

VanMoof, the Amsterdam-based startup, raised a $128 million Series C funding round, fund it plans to use in its bid to become the world’s leading e-bike brand. It’s tactic, scale faster than the rest.

Asia-based private equity firm Hillhouse Investment led the round, with Gillian Tans, the former CEO of Booking.com, also participating. Some existing investors also put some more money on the table, such as Norwest Venture Partners, Felix Capital, Balderton Capital and TriplePoint Capital.

The Series C represents a big jump compared to the company’s Series B. Last year, VanMoof raised a $40 million Series B. The startup has raised $182 million in total.

— Rebecca Bellan

Deal of the week

money the station

This week, I want to focus on one deal that appears to be at risk.

Institutional Shareholder Services Inc., an influential shareholder adviser, issued a report this week recommending that investors in Ken Moelis’s Atlas Crest Investment Corp. should vote against a merger with Archer Aviation. The adviser said it would be better for investors if they redeemed their holdings in the blank-check company for cash.

If investors take that advice, it could derail the proposed merger between Atlas Crest and Archer, a startup that is developing vertical take-off and landing electric aircraft. ISS argues that Archer’s legal battle with Wisk Aero puts the company at risk. The firm also points to the falling valuation of the combined company.

As Bloomberg noted this week, ISS has targeted other SPAC deals involving eVTOL companies. ISS opposed the merger between Reinvent Technology Partners and Joby Aviation. Shareholders ignored ISS and vote to approve the merger. ISS also advised against investing in Qell Acquisition Corp.’s merger with Lililum GmbH. That deal is still pending.

While ISS seems to have a general distaste for eVTOL SPACs, the Archer deal is particularly sticky due to its current legal wrangling with Wisk Aero. For those who haven’t been following: Wisk Aero, the air mobility company born out of a joint venture between Kitty Hawk and Boeing, filed a lawsuit in April against Archer Aviation alleging patent infringement and trade secret misappropriation.

Archer didn’t scuttle into a corner. The company countersued in a lawsuit seeking $1 billion in damages from Wisk Aero.

Investors won’t be able to take the wait-and-see approach. The vote to approve the SPAC merger will be held long before this legal fight is resolved.

Other deals that got my attention this week …

Carsome Group, the Malaysian-based online marketplace for buying and selling used cars, raised $170 million from investors, including from semiconductor maker MediaTek, investment company Catcha Group and Malaysian government fund Penjana Kapital, Forbes reported. The company’s post-funding valuation is $1.3 billion.

Cox Automotive acquired Oklahoma City-based Spiers New Technologies (SNT), a business that provides repair, remanufacturing, refurbishing and repurposing services for EV battery packs. The two companies did not disclose the terms of the deal.

Foretellix, a company that has developed a platform to verify and validate automated driving systems, raised $32 million in a Series B funding round led by MoreTech Ventures, with participation from several strategic investors, including Volvo Group, Nationwide, NI and Japan-Israel Ventures. Previous investors 83North Ventures, Jump Capital, OurCrowd and NextGear also participated. The company, founded in 2018, has raised more than $50 million to date.

Gatik AI, an autonomous vehicle startup focused on middle-mile logistics, announced it’s expanding into Texas — its fourth market — with a fresh bundle of capital. Gatik said it has raised $85 million in a Series B round led by new investor Koch Disruptive Technologies, the venture arm of Koch Industries. Existing investors Innovation Endeavours, Wittington Ventures, FM Capital, Dynamo Ventures, Trucks VC, Intact Ventures and others also participated. Gatik has raised $114.5 million to date.

HAAS Alert, a SaaS company that provides real-time automotive collision prevention for public safety and roadway fleets, raised $5 million in a seed funding round led by R^2 and Blu Ventures and joined by TechNexus, Stacked Capital, Urban Us, Techstars, Ride Ventures and Gramercy Fund. The company says it will use the funds to scale sales and outreach efforts and prioritize R&D with vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2X) technology partnerships.

Ideanomics, a fintech and electric mobility firm based in New York, acquired commercial electric vehicle manufacturer Via Motors in an all-stock deal valued at $450 million.

Iconiq Motors, a Chinese electric vehicle firm, is considering going public in the U.S. through a merger with a blank-check company, Bloomberg reported. The startup is working with an adviser on a potential deal that could value the combined company at about $4 billion, according to one source cited by the media outlet.

Kevala, the startup that collects and analyzes energy grid infrastructure data for utility companies, renewable energy providers, EV charging companies, regulators and other energy industry stakeholders, raised $21 million in a Series A round. The company says it will use the funds to grow its team from 60 employees to around 100 by the end of 2021 and increase the deployment of its grid analytics tools.

Sunday, an insurtech startup based in Bangkok, raised a $45 million in a Series B round that included investment from Tencent, SCB 10X, Vertex Growth, Vertex Ventures Southeast Asia & India, Quona Capital, Aflac Ventures and Z Venture Capital. The company says the round was oversubscribed, and that it doubled its revenue growth in 2020.

Yandex, the Russian internet giant that also operates a ride-haling company, acquired Uber’s stake in its Self-Driving Group (SDG), as well as Uber’s indirect interest in Yandex.Eats, Yandex.Lavka and Yandex.Delivery. The total cost of the deal came to $1 billion, giving the Russian company 100% ownership over all four businesses.

Zeekr, the electric vehicle brand by Geely, raised $500 million in its first external funding from a list of investors, including Intel Capital, battery maker CATL and online entertainment firm Bilibili. The round puts Zeekr’s valuation at aboout $9 billion, Reuters reported.

Policy corner

the-station-delivery

Welcome back to policy corner! Let’s talk safety. ​​Traffic deaths spiked in the first quarter of this year, according to preliminary data from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration. The agency estimated that there was a 10 percent increase in fatalities from previous projections, finding that 8,730 people died in motor traffic accidents, up from the 7,900 projected. Oddly, deaths spiked even though there was an overall decrease in the number of people on the road.

“We must address the tragic loss of life we saw on the roads in 2020 by taking a transformational and collaborative approach to safety,” NHTSA’s acting administrator, Steven Cliff, said in a statement. “Everyone — including those who design, operate, build and use the road system — shares responsibility for road safety.”

NHTSA is arguably starting to come up against some of the greatest challenges in the agency’s history, as technological development has brought about a greater degree of driving autonomy and driver assistance systems.

The forthcoming investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot could be a watershed moment for ADAS safety standards. If you aren’t caught up: NHTSA opened an investigation into 11 instances of a Tesla crashing into a parked emergency vehicle, and just added another crash to its investigation earlier this week. In an 11-page letter to the electric vehicle maker, NHTSA gave the company until October 22 to provide extensive data on any hardware and software related to Tesla’s Level 2 capabilities (including Autopilot).

The probe comes as more and more groups — including the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety, as well as the National Traffic Safety Board — call on NHTSA to exercise greater authority over regulating ADAS systems. We’ll certainly be keeping an eye on this investigation as it unfolds in the coming months.

— Aria Alamalhodaei

Notable news and other tidbits

Autonomous vehicles

Motional revealed the first images of its planned robotaxi, a Hyundai all-electric Ioniq 5 SUV that will be the centerpiece of a driverless ride-hailing service the company wants customers to be able to access starting in 2023 through the Lyft app.

The purpose-built vehicle, which will be assembled by Hyundai, is integrated with Motional’s autonomous vehicle technology, including a suite of more than 30 sensors including lidar, radar and cameras that can be seen throughout the interior and exterior. That sensing system provides 360 degrees of vision, and the ability to see up to 300 meters away, according to Motional.

Electric vehicles

ElectraMeccanica Vehicles Corp. unveiled a “cargo” version of its flagship three-wheeled, single-occupant, all-electric SOLO at the Advanced Clean Transportation Expo in California.

Power Global, a two-year-old startup, wants to disrupt the auto rickshaw market by offering a retrofit kit for diesel-powered vehicles and swappable battery pack to transition the more common lead-acid batteries to lithium-ion.

Rivian announced that the first edition version of its all-electric R1T pickup truck has an official EPA range of 314 miles, while its R1T SUV comes in a skosh higher at 316 miles.

Siemens said it will expand its U.S. manufacturing operations to support electric vehicle infrastructure. Specifically, the company plans to open a third facility to its VersiCharge Level 2 AC series product line of commercial and residential EV chargers. The additional facility, which is expected to come online in early 2022, will allow Siemens to manufacture more than 1 million electric vehicle chargers for the United States over the next four years.

TechCrunch editor Mike Butcher digs into YASA, the British electric motor startup that Mercedes-Benz acquired back in July The company, founded in 2009 after spinning out of Oxford University, developed an ‘axial-flux’ motor. YASA will now develop ultra-high-performance electric motors for Mercedes-Benz’s AMG.EA electric-only platform.

Wallbox, an electric vehicle charging company, has selected Arlington, Texas as the location of its first U.S. manufacturing facility. Production at the 130,000-square-foot plant is expected to start as early as June 2022. Production lines for its AC chargers lines, DC bidirectional charger, and DC fast charger for public use, are anticipated to follow in the first half of 2023. Wallbox said it expects to manufacture a total of 290,000 units annually in this facility by 2027 and reach its full capacity of 500,000 units by 2030.

Gig economy

DoorDash workers in California protested outside of the home of DoorDash CEO Tony Xu in response to a recent California superior court judge ruling calling 2020’s Proposition 22 unconstitutional. Prop 22, which was passed last November in California, would allow app-based companies like DoorDash, Uber and Lyft to continue classifying workers as independent contractors rather than employees.

The group of about 50 DoorDash workers who are affiliated with advocacy groups We Drive Progress and Gig Workers Rising  demanded that DoorDash provide transparency for tips and 120% of minimum wage or around $17 per hour, stop unfair deactivations and provide free personal protective equipment, as well as adequate pay for car and equipment sanitizing.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey gave a coalition of app-based service providers that includes Uber and Lyft the go-ahead to start collecting signatures needed to put a proposed ballot measure before voters that would define drivers as independent contractors rather than employees. Backers of the initiative, which is essentially a MA version of Proposition 22, would need to gather tens of thousands of signatures for the measure to make it to the November 2022 ballot.

Uber and Lyft separately announced plans to cover the legal fees of drivers using their ride-hailing apps who are sued under Texas’s new abortion law.

The new law bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is typically around six weeks, and gives any individual the right to sue anyone who aids or abets an abortion. That means ride-hailing app drivers, who might transport a woman to a clinic, can be sued.

Uber CEO Dara Khoswarshari and Lyft CEO Logan Green both took to Twitter express their opposition to the new law and announce their support to drivers.

“TX SB8 threatens to punish drivers for getting people where they need to go– especially women exercising their right to choose,” Green wrote on Twitter. “@Lyft has created a Driver Legal Defense Fund to cover 100% of legal fees for drivers sued under SB8 while driving on our platform.

Khosrowshahi retweeted Green’s tweet and made the same commitment. “Right on @logangreen – drivers shouldn’t be put at risk for getting people where they want to go. Team @Uber is in too and will cover legal fees in the same way. Thanks for the push.”

Green and Khosrowshahi are among the few CEOs (a list that includes Austin-based Bumble and Dallas-based Match Group) with operations in Texas that have come out in strong opposition to law.

In-car tech

GM announced it will idle nearly all its assembly plants in North America due to the ongoing semiconductor chip shortage. The automaker is making a few strategic exceptions. Production of its profitable full-size SUVs will continue this week at its Arlington Assembly plant in Texas. The Flint Assembly facility, where it makes heavy-duty GMC and Chevy pickup trucks and Bowling Green Assembly in Kentucky, where it makes the Corvette, will also continue.

Misc. stuff

BMW Group has committed to a 50% reduction from 2019 levels in global carbon dioxide emissions during the use-phase of its vehicles by 2030, as well as a 40% reduction in emissions during the life cycle of the vehicle. These goals, including a plan to focus on the principles of a circular economy to achieve a more sustainable vehicle life cycle, will manifest in the company’s Neue Klasse platform, which should be available by 2025.

Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and husband, Chasten, announced they are parents to twins.

Buttigieg tweeted: “Chasten and I are beyond thankful for all the kind wishes since first sharing the news that we’re becoming parents. We are delighted to welcome Penelope Rose and Joseph August Buttigieg to our family.”

Nikola Corp. reached a new agreement with Bosch for its hydrogen fuel cell modules. The modules will be used to power two of Nikola’s hydrogen-fueled semi-trucks, the short-haul Nikola Tre and Nikola Two sleeper. Bosch invested at least $100 million in the hydrogen truck startup in 2019 but reduced its shares in the company the following year. Bosch also said last year it would supply fuel cells for Nikola’s European operations.

#automotive, #bmw-group, #dara-khoswarshari, #ebikes, #electric-vehicles, #gm, #lyft, #mercedes-benz, #nikola-corp, #pete-buttigieg, #ride-hailing, #rivian, #the-station, #transportation, #uber, #volkswagen, #vw-group, #yandex

Rivian’s electric R1T pickup truck, R1S SUV get their official EPA ranges

Rivian announced Friday that the first edition version of its all-electric R1T pickup truck has an official EPA range of 314 miles, while its R1T SUV comes in a skosh higher at 316 miles.

The official range and fuel economy values have been posted on the U.S. EPA website. The official numbers align with Rivian’s own previous estimates, which it has advertised as 300 miles.

While EPA estimates can’t account for different driving styles, the test cycle is robust enough to provide an accurate benchmark for customers shopping for an electric vehicle.

In this case, Rivian has the benefit of being the first electric truck on the market. Ford’s F-150 Lightning, which isn’t expected to come on the market until spring 2022, has a targeted range of 230 miles in the standard and up to 300 miles in the extended version. The EPA has not issued official ranges for the Ford Lightning.

Rivian’s “Launch edition” R1T truck and R1S SUV come equipped with a 135-kWh battery pack that is branded as the “large pack.” Deliveries of the Launch Edition vehicles are slated to begin this month.

The R1T and R1S vehicles will be offered in two trims, both of which are offered with the same 135-kWh-pack size. The Adventure variant of the R1T, which has a premium interior, starts at $73,000. The R1T Explore trim starts at $67,500.

The Adventure trim in the R1S SUV starts at $75,500, while the Explore package has a base price of $70,000.

Rivian intends to begin deliveries of the Adventure and Explore packages in January 2022.

Rivian also plans to offer an even larger pack, dubbed the “Max pack,” for the R1T. That larger pack costs an additional $10,000 and is expected to push the range of the R1T past 400 miles. The EPA has not posted an official range for the max pack or other editions, including a planned smaller battery pack option.

#automotive, #electric-pickup-trucks, #electric-vehicles, #ford, #ford-f-150, #ford-f-150-lightning, #r1s, #r1t, #rivian, #tc, #transportation

BMW Group’s Neue Klasse lineup to focus on circular economy to achieve reduction in CO2 emissions

The BMW Group announced Thursday its intentions to commit to a 50% reduction from 2019 levels in global carbon dioxide emissions during the use-phase of its vehicles by 2030, as well as a 40% reduction in emissions during the life cycle of the vehicle. These goals, including a plan to focus on the principles of a circular economy to achieve a more sustainable vehicle life cycle, will manifest in the company’s Neue Klasse platform, which should be available by 2025.

Announced in March, the BMW “New Class” is a reboot of a line of sedans and coupes the German automaker produced from 1962-1977, a line that established BMW’s identity as a sports car manufacturer. The new line will feature “a completely redefined IT and software architecture, a new generation of high-performance electric drivetrains and batteries and a radically new approach to sustainability across the entire vehicle life cycle,” according to the company.

“With the Neue Klasse we are significantly sharpening our commitment and also committing ourselves to a clear course for achieving the 1.5 degree target,” said Oliver Zipse, chairman of the board of management of BMW AG, in a statement. “How companies are dealing with CO2 emissions has become a major factor when it comes to judging corporate action. The decisive factor in the fight against global warming is how strongly we can improve the carbon footprint of vehicles over their entire life span. This is why we are setting ourselves transparent and ambitious goals for the substantial reduction of CO2 emissions; these are validated by the Science Based Targets Initiative and will deliver an effective and measurable contribution.”

BMW says the utilization phase of its vehicles accounts for 70% of the group’s total CO2 footprint, which makes sense given the fact that most of BMW’s car sales are still ICE vehicles. In the first half of 2021, about 11.44% of BMW’s total sales volume were either electric or plug-in hybrid, according to its 2021 half-year earnings report. The company has expressed a goal of selling 1 million plug-in units, including hybrids, by the end of 2021. As of Q2, it’s already at around 850,000, but in order to reach its goal of halving emissions during the utilization phase, BMW will need to seriously up its sales of low or zero-emissions vehicles. BMW already has its i3 compact EV out and plans to launch two long-range models, the i4 sedan and iX SUV, later this year, with plans for more in 2022. But unlike GM or Volvo, the automaker has not yet announced plans to kill its ICE vehicles, nor has it begun to sell a full line of vehicles designed from the ground up to run on batteries.

This announcement comes just a couple of months after BMW, along with other German automakers Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche, acknowledged its involvement in colluding on an emissions cartel since the 1990s. The automakers collectively hid technology that would have been able to reduce harmful emissions beyond what was legally required under EU emissions standards. The EU fined BMW $442 million, a slap on the wrist given BMW’s second-quarter profits of close to $6 billion.

In addition, the EU’s “Fit for 55” energy and climate package, which was released last month, upgraded the overall carbon emissions reductions goal from 40% to 55% by 2030, which means automakers need to pick up the pace of electrification, and BMW knows that. Other proposals reportedly under discussion in the European Commission involve a 60% emissions reduction by 2030, followed by 100% cut by 2035, which would make it near impossible to sell ICE vehicles by that time.

BMW says its Neue Klasse will further the momentum to get EVs to market. The automaker aims to have 10 million all-electric cars on the road over the next decade, with at least half of all BMW Group sales being all-electric and the Mini brand offering exclusively all-electric from 2030. As part of its circular economy focus, BMW also intends to incorporate an increase of use of secondary materials and promote a better framework for establishing a market for secondary materials with the Neue Klasse. The company says it aims to raise the percentage of secondary materials it uses from its current rate of 30% to 50%, but didn’t specify by when.

BMW says its use of secondary nickel in the iX battery, for example, is already 50%, with the battery housing containing up to 30% secondary aluminum, and the goal is to improve those numbers. BMW is also piloting a project with BASF and the ALBA Group to increase the recycling of plastics used in cars.

As part of what BMW is calling a comprehensive recycling system, “the ALBA Group analyses end-of-life BMW Group vehicles to establish whether a car-to-car reuse of the plastic is possible,” according to a statement by the company. “In a second step, BASF assesses whether chemical recycling of the pre-sorted waste can be used in order to obtain pyrolysis oil. This can then be used as a basis for new products made of plastic. In the future, a new door trim or other components could be manufactured from a used instrument panel, for example.”

To ensure an easier recycling process, BMW is also incorporating early-stage design of vehicles. Materials must be put together in a way that’s easy to disassemble at the end of life and then reuse. The automaker says it will increasingly build the interior of a car with monomaterials that can be transferred back into usable material.

“For example, the onboard wiring systems must be easy to remove, in order to avoid mixing steel with copper from the cable harnesses in the vehicles,” the company said in a statement. “If this mixing does take place, the secondary steel loses its essential material properties and therefore no longer meets the high safety requirements of the automotive industry.”

A circular economy also involves using higher-quality vehicles, which will reduce the overall number of materials used because those parts can be recycled or fixed more easily.

With this announcement, BMW promises transparency when it comes to the life cycle of its vehicles. The company does indeed publish life cycle assessments (LCAs), as does almost every other major car manufacturer, but there’s no standard in the industry yet, which means it’s sometimes difficult to compare different vehicles. Looking at the overall life cycle of a vehicle will be increasingly important if we actually want to cut emissions goals. The emissions that come from the supply chains and manufacturing processes to obtain all the materials needed to even build batteries and vehicles is a body of research that’s only just coming to light, and what that light reveals is the possibility that these moves could even increase emissions in the aggregate.

“Embodied emissions can be devilishly difficult to accurately quantify, and nowhere are there more complexities and uncertainties than with EVs,” writes Mark Mills, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, in a recent TechCrunch article about what it takes to calculate the real carbon cost of EVs. “While an EV self-evidently emits nothing while driving, about 80% of its total lifetime emissions arise from the combination of the embodied energy in fabricating the battery and then in ‘fabricating’ electricity to power the vehicle. The remaining comes from manufacturing the non-fuel parts of the car. That ratio is inverted for a conventional car where about 80% of lifecycle emissions come directly from fuel burned while driving, and the rest comes from the embodied energy to make the car and fabricate gasoline.”

#automotive, #bmw-group, #circular-economy, #electric-vehicles, #tc, #transportation