GM extends Chevy Bolt EV production shutdown through mid-October

General Motors is extending the shutdown of its Orion Assembly Plant until at least mid-October as a result of a battery pack shortage related to the recently announced Chevy Bolt EV and EUV safety recall. Bloomberg first reported that the company intends to idle its plant through the week of October 11.

“These most recent scheduling adjustments are being driven by the continued parts shortages caused by semiconductor supply constraints from international markets experiencing COVID-related restrictions,” the company said in a statement. “We remain confident in our team’s ability to continue finding creative solutions to minimize the impact on our highest-demand and capacity constrained vehicles. Although the situation remains complex and very fluid, GM continues to prioritize full-size truck production which remains in high demand.”

Last week, GM announced the shutdown of the Michigan assembly plant, which began on August 23, would extend to September 20, but it’s clear that the company has not yet found a solution to the causes of delay. In the meantime, GM said it would continue to work with its battery supplier, LG Chem, to update its manufacturing processes and production schedules.

In July, the company began recalls for its Chevy Bolts due to fire risks, and the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration has recommended customers park their vehicles away from homes and other vehicles as a precaution.

Last week, GM said production on its full-size trucks and full-size SUVs would begin by this week, but chip shortages have also caused GM to announce slowing production at five other assembly plants in North America. Some, like the Fort Wayne Assembly and Silao Assembly plants, which produce the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 models, have already ramped up to full capacity as of September 13 after being briefly impacted by the global semiconductor shortage, GM said.

The Lansing Delta Township Assembly plant in Michigan, which builds the Chevrolet Traverse and the Buick Enclave, will add an additional week of downtime the week of September 27 and is expected to resume production the week of October 4. The plant has been shut down since July 19. Downtime for the Chevrolet Camaro and Cadillac Black Wing have also been extended through the week of the 27th, as well as previously announced downtime for Cadillac CT4 and CT5 production. Production on the Camaro has been down since September 13, and on the CT4 and CT5 since May 10.

Production of the Equinox, Blazer and GMC Terrain have been pushed out through the week of October 11, as well, which are produced at the CAMI Assembly plant in Canada and San Luis Potosi Assembly and Ramos Assembly in Mexico. Production of the Blazer and Equinox have been down since August 23 and August 16, respectively.

Cadillac XT4 production, which has been down since February 8, will resume at Fairfax Assembly in Kansas next week. GM said production of the Chevrolet Malibu, which is also at Fairfax and has been down since February 8, will remain down through the week of October 25.

#automotive, #chevy-bolt, #evs, #general-motors, #transportation

EV startup Canoo is gearing up for production in Oklahoma factory

EV startup Canoo has hired hundreds of employees and is homing in on a production date, but critical milestones including landing a battery supplier remain, according to the company’s second quarter earnings report.

Canoo’s earnings report comes just a few weeks after the company’s first investor relations day when it named Dutch company VDL Nedcar as its contract manufacturing partner for its lifestyle vehicle. At the time, Canoo estimated the Nedcar facility would build up to 1,000 units in 2022 for U.S. and European markets, with a target of 15,000 units in 2023. During Monday’s earnings call, CEO Tony Aquila said the company is now expecting 25,000 units in 2023.

Canoo also provided updates on its plans to build a U.S.-based factory, which it describes as a “mega microfactory” for its pickup truck and multipurpose delivery vehicle. In June, the EV startup announced plans to build its first factory in Oklahoma. The state has committed $300 million in non-dilutive financial incentives to support the facility and Phase 2 of manufacturing.

“This two-pronged strategy is important for a few reasons,” Aquila said during Monday’s earnings call. “As a new OEM, working with Nedcar will allow us to refine our manufacturing process. While augmenting our production expertise, which will be deployed in our Oklahoma manufacturing plant, it will allow us to geographically diversify our manufacturing operations and position us to increase our commitments, products and volumes to adapt to changing market demands and build flexibility in distribution.”

Aquila said about a third of Oklahoma’s investment will be available within the first 36 months. These funds will help the company progress as it moves into its Gamma phase, which means Canoo is getting ready to launch. Year over year, Canoo upped its workforce from 230 to 656 total employees, 70% of which are hardware and software engineers. The startup’s operating expenses have increased from $19.8 million to $104.3 million YOY, with the majority of that increase coming from R&D.

The ramping up of expenses pre-revenue is a signal that Canoo is pushing forward on its production goals, but there’s still work to be done before construction begins on the Oklahoma factory. Aquila said Canoo is in the final process of selecting a construction manager, an architect and an engineering firm and will likely have more updates on the construction progress by next quarter.

The company is still working on making a final decision for a battery partner in the third quarter, a move that is becoming increasingly important as more legacy OEMs work to control their supply chain with battery joint ventures. Canoo is also struggling with semiconductor supply chain issues, as is the rest of the industry, but says its streamlined manufacturing process means its vehicles will require less chips to function.

On IR day, Canoo announced that it had completed 500,000 miles of beta testing. As of June 30, Aquila said the company has locked in engineering and design to commence “gamma” builds.

“We have also sourced 87% of components, compared to 74% in the first quarter of the year, and excluding bulk material, we are 95% sourcing complete,” said Aquila. “Our CTO and his team have completed engineering design for 67% of the lifestyle vehicle components and have moved those into tooling.”

Aquila said Canoo would begin its countdown to standard operating procedure for its lifestyle vehicle during the fourth quarter. The lifestyle vehicle is probably closer to production, but Aquila said out of the 9,500 non-binding refundable preorders, preorders for Canoo’s other two vehicles, the pickup truck and the multipurpose delivery vehicle, are the most popular.

#canoo, #electric-vehicles, #evs, #startups, #tc, #tony-aquila

Foxconn plans to build EV factories in the US and Thailand in 2022

Foxconn is getting more serious about its electric vehicle ambitions. The company told investors during an earnings call that it plans to build EV factories in the US and Thailand in 2022 and start mass producing vehicles the following year. Chairman Liu Young-way said the company is also in talks regarding possible locations for plants in Europe.

At its US facility, Foxconn will build vehicles for EV clients including Fisker. The companies signed a deal in May, and Foxconn plans to start making Fisker EVs by the end of 2023. The two are jointly investing in the Project Pear vehicle and will share revenue from it.

Foxconn is in discussions with three states, including Wisconsin, for the EV plant, according to Nikkei. Earlier this year, Foxconn drastically scaled back plans for its existing facility in Wisconsin. Liu has also suggested Foxconn may build EVs at the controversial plant.

The planned Thai factory will form part of Foxconn’s joint venture with oil and gas conglomerate PTT. The two are working on a platform for EV and component production. Liu said Foxconn plans to build up to 200,000 EVs at that plant each year.

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Engadget.

#column, #electric-vehicles, #ev, #evs, #fisker, #foxconn, #tc, #tceng

41 percent of consumers say their next car will be electric

symbol indicating a place to charge an electric car with energy in Catalonia Spain

Enlarge / The biggest impediment to EV adoption appears to be cost of ownership, according to EY’s 2021 Mobility Consumer Index. (credit: Carlos Sanchez Pereyra/Getty Images)

Electric vehicles are increasingly breaking into the mainstream. According to a new survey conducted by EY, 41 percent of consumers planning to buy a car say their next vehicle will be a plug-in. And they’re mainly making that decision because of the environmental impact.

EY surveyed 9,000 consumers across 13 countries (Australia, Canada, China, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, the UK, and the US) in June of this year as part of its Mobility Consumer Index. The last time the firm conducted this survey, in September 2020, just 30 percent said their next car would be either a battery EV or plug-in hybrid EV.

Where do BEVs beat ICE?

EV adoption is moving faster in some places than others. In China, for example, 48 percent say their next car will be an EV, and only 43 percent say it will have an internal combustion engine (with 3 percent looking for a hydrogen fuel cell EV and the remaining 5 percent saying they are unsure). Sweden’s numbers are near-identical, with a matching 48 percent wanting an EV.

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#cars, #electric-vehicles, #ev-adoption, #evs

GM confirms a third electric pickup truck is in development

GM will add a full-size electric pickup truck to its GMC lineup, the latest in a string of EV product announcements by the automaker in the past year as it pushes to deliver more than 1 million electric vehicles globally by 2025.

The EV pickup was shared in a slide deck during the media presentation and later confirmed to TechCrunch. Duncan Aldred, vice president of global Buick and GMC, didn’t provide further details about the vehicle or when it might go into production.

The GM brand is already aiming to begin production of its GMC Hummer EV in the fourth quarter of this year. The GMC Hummer EV, which will be produced at the company’s Factory ZERO assembly plant in Detroit and Hamtramck, a 350-mile range, 1,000 HP and up to 11,500 pound feet of torque with a starting price of $80,000.

The announcement comes three months after GM announced it would produce an electric Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck, which will also be assembled at the Factory ZERO plant. The Chevrolet Silverado EV pickup will be based on the automaker’s Ultium battery platform and will have an estimated range of more than 400 miles on a full charge.

GM President Mark Reuss said at the time that company is positioning the Chevrolet full-sized pickup for both consumer and commercial markets. The automaker plans to offer retail and fleet versions of the Silverado electric pickup with a variety of options and configurations.

#automotive, #electric-vehicles, #evs, #gmc, #transportation

GM to launch fleet charging service to power commercial EVs, even at home

GM and its new EV business unit BrightDrop are launching a fleet charging service as the automaker aims to ramp up its bet on connected and electric commercial vehicles.

The service, branded Ultium Charge 360 fleet charging service in a nod to GM’s new electric architecture and batteries that will be the foundation of its future EV plans, offers many of the tools that a commercial delivery, sales or motor pool business might need. It also includes an effort to add home charging for drivers.

The charging service is the latest addition to BrightDrop, which was launched in January. The business unit offers commercial customers — starting with FedEx — an ecosystem of electric and connected products. BrightDrop has said it will begin with two main products: an electric van called the EV600 with an estimate range of 250 miles and a pod-like electric pallet dubbed EP1. BrightDrop is part of GM’s aim to reach 1 million EV sales globally by 2025.

GM and BrightDrop are launching the charging service with Duke Energy company eTransEnergy, EVgo, In-Charge Energy and Schneider Electric, four companies that can provide the infrastructure needed to keep the commercial vans properly powered.

On the home-charging front, GM said it will expand an existing agreement with Qmerit.

The service is meant to provide tools for fleet operators, which Alex Keros, GM’s  lead architect of EV Infrastructure noted in a call with reporters Thursday are important market growth segment and a critical piece of the electrification puzzle. The company looked at “how to put the right customer experiences together … you know, when you think about fleets these are cars that come home with employees for example, and we’ll have to help those companies and employees figure out charging in their home.”

#automotive, #brightdrop, #electric-vehicles, #evs, #gm, #tc

Dodge challenges: Can the automaker bring muscle into the electric future?

The term muscle car has always been a euphemism for concessions. Want the most power for the money? Forget about a sports car from Porsche or Lotus. Buy a muscle car and just take corners a bit slower. Today Dodge announced it’s making an electric muscle car and it will be available in 2024. The first question that comes to mind: Well, if it’s a muscle car, what’s missing?

There’s a difference between a muscle car and a sports car, and Dodge is uniquely suited to know the differences. The brand has long been associated with horsepower and going fast in a straight line. The Dodge Viper. The Dodge Challenger. Even the Dodge Durango, a lumbering SUV, is available with a tricked-out V8 capable of putting out 710 hp — more power than most Porsches, though no one is about to pit a Durango against a 911 on the track.

Part of the draw of electric vehicles revolves around their mechanical simplicity. That was the original sales pitch for the muscle car, too. But, instead of offering a sports car with a tuned chassis and remarkable aerodynamics, which adds significant development cost, American car companies just stuffed larger engines in everyday family cars. Bam. Muscle cars, baby.

Let’s assume Dodge uses the muscle car mold and makes a low-cost, high-power, straight-line electric racer — think Dodge Challenger rather than Toyota Supra. This mold has several distinct characteristics.

One, burnouts. Muscle cars are known for their burnouts, which themselves are a byproduct of an overabundance of power, lack of chassis refinement and utter disregard for your tires’ tread. Dodge teased this capability in its announcement tweet, showing a vehicle smoking all four tires. Dodge knows its audience.

Muscle car owners expect to be able to tune, tweak and modify their vehicles at home. That’s one of the main appeals to this type of vehicle. Straight from the factory, muscle cars are capable, but the buyer understands the automaker omitted certain parts to keep the sticker price as low as possible. Want better traction? Swap out the tires. Want better cornering? Add stiffer sway bars. An electric muscle car must be modifiable — something that’s increasingly rare as performance is more often optimized through software tweaks than mechanical upgrades.

Tesla has long been criticized for its aversion to vehicle modifications and at-home repairs. This is an opportunity for Dodge and others. A large swath of car buyers expect to be able to wrench on their vehicles, and I’ll wager this demographic is critical to Dodge’s future growth.

These unique characteristics of muscle cars are what make the segment so appealing for Dodge. The auto brand struggles to keep up with the market with a stable of stale vehicles, and the muscle car’s low-cost formula could allow for cheaper development costs.

And keeping development costs low is what Dodge needs right now.

Dodge is owned by Stellantis, a new automobile conglomerate formed when FCA, Dodge’s old owner, merged with the Dutch automaker PSA Group. It gets more confusing when Dodge’s previous owner is mentioned. Once always mentioned along with the giants of GM and Ford, Chrysler previously owned Dodge but is now just another brand in the Stellantis family. Together, Dodge and Chrysler offer only six vehicles, and none have seen significant updates in years.

An electric muscle car could revitalize the brand in the same way the Bronco is revitalizing Ford.

Look at Ford. The 2021 Bronco is a hit because it lines up nicely with consumer’s expectations of a Bronco. People hardly remember the engine and chassis issues that were long associated with the Bronco. Instead, people remember a durable off-roader (and slow car chases), so Ford made a durable off-roader loaded with modern conveniences.

Dodge should do the same with its upcoming electric muscle car. But, of course, calling a vehicle a muscle car sets certain expectations that Dodge would be wise to deliver.

Likewise, Ford is also selling a four-door electric Mustang, and its heavily rumored Chevrolet is preparing a similar electric SUV Corvette. While most people love the electric Mustang (I don’t), they also concede the Mustang naming muddles the branding.

What is it going to be called? Automakers are increasingly turning to their back catalog for new branding. GM revived the Hummer for its first electric truck, and Ford brought back the Bronco and F-150 Lightning. Dodge has a lot of history with muscle cars. There’s the legendary Charger Daytona (perfect if the upcoming car is built on the current Charger or Challenger), the low-cost Coronet and its upgraded sibling Coronet Super Bee, the Dodge Stealth or Dodge Polara — though maybe Polara is too close to the EV maker Polestar. Or Dodge could turn to names used by Plymouth, another brand previously owned by Chrysler. So there’s the Plymouth Roadrunner, Duster, Fury and Barracuda, too.

Last question: How will Dodge make the car sound like a muscle car? Hopefully, they won’t. I’m here for feeling performance rather than hearing it — and I drive a big F-150 with a custom exhaust.


#automotive, #dodge, #electric-vehicles, #evs, #stellantis, #tc

Widespread electrification requires us to rethink battery technology

The global economy’s transition to widespread electrification has increased the demand for longer-lasting and faster-charging batteries across industries including transportation, consumer electronics, medical devices and residential energy storage. While the benefits of this transition are well understood, the reality is that battery innovation hasn’t kept pace with society’s ambitions.

With reports forecasting a 40% chance that the world’s temperature will rise over the next five years beyond the limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius laid out in the Paris climate agreement, it is clear that there’s little time to waste when it comes to creating next-generation batteries, which can easily take another 10 years to fully commercialize.

To meet the increasing pressures to electrify, a completely novel approach to building batteries is the only way to scale rechargeable batteries quickly enough to curb greenhouse-gas emissions globally and avoid the worst-case scenario for the climate crisis.

The challenges to battery innovation

Over the last few decades, battery experts, automakers, Tier 1 suppliers, investors and others looking to electrify have spent billions of dollars globally on creating next-generation batteries by focusing predominantly on battery chemistry. Yet the industry is still grappling with two major fundamental technical challenges that are stunting the proliferation of batteries:

  1. Energy/power tradeoff: All batteries manufactured today face an energy-to-power tradeoff. Batteries can store more energy or they can charge/discharge more quickly. In terms of electric vehicles, this means no single battery can provide both long range and fast charging.
  2. Anode-cathode mismatch: Today’s most promising battery technologies maximize the energy density of anodes, the negative electrode of the pair of electrodes that make up every lithium-ion battery cell. However, anodes already have greater energy density than their positive counterpart, the cathode. Cathode energy density needs to eventually match that of the anode in order to get the most energy storage capacity out of a certain battery size. Without breakthroughs in increasing cathode energy density, many of today’s most exciting battery technologies will not be able to deliver on their full potential. As it currently stands, the most commonly used lithium-ion battery cannot meet the needs of the wide-ranging applications of an all-electric future. Many companies have tried to address these demands through new battery chemistries to optimize the high-power-to-energy-density ratio to varying degrees of success, but very few are close to achieving the performance metrics required for mass scale and commercialization.

Ultimately, the winning technologies in the race toward total electrification will be the ones that have the most significant impact on performance, lowered costs and compatibility with existing manufacturing infrastructure.

Are solid-state batteries the holy grail?

Battery researchers have championed the solid-state battery as the holy grail of battery technology due to its ability to achieve high energy density and increased safety. However, until recently, the technology has fallen short in practice.

Solid-state batteries have significantly higher energy density and are potentially safer because they do not use flammable liquid electrolytes. However, the technology is still nascent and has a long way to go to achieve commercialization. The manufacturing process for solid-state batteries has to be improved to lower costs, especially for an automotive industry that aims to achieve aggressive cost reductions as low as $50/kWh in the coming years.

The other substantial challenge to implementing solid-state technology is the limitation of total energy density that can be stored in the cathodes per unit of volume. The obvious solution to this dilemma would be to have batteries with thicker cathodes. However, a thicker cathode would reduce the mechanical and thermal stability of the battery. That instability leads to delamination (a mode of failure where a material fractures into layers), cracks and separation — all of which cause premature battery failure. In addition, thicker cathodes limit diffusion and decrease power. The result is that there is a practical limit to the thickness of cathodes, which restricts the power of anodes.

New takes on materials with silicon

In most cases, companies that are developing silicon-based batteries are mixing up to 30% silicon with graphite to boost energy density. The batteries made by Sila Nanotechnologies are an illustrative example of using a silicon mix to increase energy density. Another approach is to use 100% pure silicon anodes, which are limited by very thin electrodes and high production costs, to generate even higher energy density, like Amprius’ approach.

While silicon provides considerably greater energy density, there is a significant drawback that has limited its adoption until now: The material undergoes volume expansion and shrinkage while charging and discharging, limiting battery life and performance. This leads to degradation issues that manufacturers need to solve before commercial adoption. Despite those challenges, some silicon-based batteries are already being deployed commercially, including in the automotive sector, where Tesla leads in silicon adoption for EVs.

The imperative for electrification requires a new focus on battery design

Advances to battery architecture and cell design show significant promise for unlocking improvements with existing and emerging battery chemistries.

Probably the most notable from a mainstream perspective is Tesla’s “biscuit tin” battery cell that the company unveiled at its 2020 Battery Day. It’s still using lithium-ion chemistry, but the company removed the tabs in the cell that act as the positive and negative connection points between the anode and cathode and the battery casing, and instead use a shingled design within the cell. This change in design helps reduce manufacturing costs while boosting driving range and removes many of the thermal barriers that a cell can encounter when fast-charging with DC electricity.

Transitioning away from a traditional 2D electrode structure to a 3D structure is another approach that is gaining traction in the industry. The 3D structure yields high energy and high power performance in both the anode and cathode for every battery chemistry.

Although still in the R&D and testing phases, 3D electrodes have achieved two times higher accessible capacity, 50% less charging time and 150% longer lifetime for high-performance products at market-competitive prices. Therefore, in order to advance battery capabilities to unlock the full potential of energy storage for a range of applications, it is critical to develop solutions that emphasize altering the physical structure of batteries.

Winning the battery race

It’s not just performance improvements that will win the battery race, but perfecting production and cost reduction as well. To capture a considerable share of the ballooning battery market that is projected to reach $279.7 billion by 2027, countries around the world must find ways to achieve low-cost battery manufacturing at scale. Prioritizing “drop-in” solutions and innovative production methods that can be incorporated with existing assembly lines and materials will be key.

The Biden administration’s American Jobs Plan highlights the importance of domestic battery production to the country’s goal of being a leader in electrification while meeting ambitious carbon reduction targets. Commitments like these will play a key role in establishing who can maintain a critical competitive edge in the battery space and take the largest share of the $162 billion global EV market.

Ultimately, the winning technologies in the race toward total electrification will be the ones that have the most significant impact on performance, lowered costs and compatibility with existing manufacturing infrastructure. By taking a holistic approach and focusing more on innovating cell design while also fine-tuning leading chemistries, we can achieve the next steps in battery performance and rapid commercialization that the world desperately needs.

#biden-administration, #column, #electric-vehicles, #electricity, #energy-storage, #evs, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #lithium-ion-batteries, #opinion, #rechargeable-batteries, #tc, #transportation

Subaru’s first electric vehicle is called the Solterra and it’s due out in 2022

For Subaru diehards holding out for an electric vehicle, the wait is almost over. The Japanese automaker just announced new details about its first ever EV, which is set to hit the streets in 2022.

Subaru will call its first EV the Solterra, a fitting name for a brand synonymous with outdoor adventures and you know, the sun and the Earth. Also fittingly, Subaru’s first full-fledged EV will be an SUV thats ships with the manufacturer’s well-regarded all-wheel drive capabilities.

The Solterra is built on a new platform the company is developing in partnership with Toyota, which the latter company will use for its impossibly named BZ4X crossover (BZ stands for “beyond zero,” apparently).

Subaru has only released two teaser images so far, but given that the new SUV will share DNA with the Toyota BZ4X, Subaru’s offering will likely look like a toned-down, less aggressively styled version of Toyota’s forthcoming futuristic electric crossover.

Other than that, we don’t know a whole lot. If the Solterra winds up looking a lot like the BZ4X, you can expect a sort of squashed RAV4, maybe somewhere between a Crosstrek and a Forester in size.

Subaru’s first proper EV will join the plug-in hybrid Crosstrek, which the company began selling in 2014 — currently its only option for climate-conscious drivers. The Solterra will go on sale next year in the U.S., Canada, China, Europe, and Japan.

#cars, #crossover, #electric-vehicles, #evs, #greentech, #subaru, #tc, #toyota

Honda targets 100% EV sales in North America by 2040

Honda’s new goal is to achieve 100% EV sales in North America by 2040 as part of its broader target of being carbon neutral by 2050. CEO Toshihiro Mibe announced planned shift away from internal combustion engines at a news conference on Friday, his first since taking over executive leadership of the company in early April.

This is the latest in a stream of pledges from legacy car manufacturers to introduce high percentages of zero-emissions vehicles into their fleets and achieve carbon neutrality. General Motors plans to eliminate gas and diesel light-duty cars and SUVs by 2035 and be carbon neutral by 2040, and Mazda, Mitsubishi and Nissan have all said they plan to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Honda’s goals are also in alignment with Japan’s electrification strategy, which aims for a 46% cut in emissions by 2030.

Honda will start on this road immediately, expecting EVs to account for 40% of sales by 2030, and 80% by 2035 in all major markets. By the second half of 2020, Japan’s second-largest automaker will launch a series of new electric models in North America based on the company’s in-house e:Architecture platform.

Honda, and its subsidiary Acura, will also introduce two large-sized EV models using GM’s Ultium batteries by 2024. The company will further its collaboration with GM by using fuel cell technology for a range of vehicles and applications, like commercial trucks and power sources.

#automakers, #electric-vehicles, #evs, #honda, #transportation

Polestar “will have to question everything” in order to build the first climate-neutral EV

Polestar, the Swedish electric vehicle brand spun out of Volvo Car Group, set on Wednesday a “moonshot goal” of creating the first climate neutral car by 2030. But instead of getting there through more widely-practiced offsetting measures, such as planting trees, the company said it’s going to fundamentally change the way the new EV is made.

That means rethinking every piece of the supply chain, from materials sourcing through to manufacturing, and even by making the vehicle more energy efficient.

“We’re going to do it by reducing emissions, eliminating emissions, rather than offsetting, like many are relying on today, because we see that offsetting is a worrying strategy,” Fredrika Klarén, Polestar’s Head of Sustainability, said in an interview with TechCrunch. “The science is not actually backing it up in terms of its capability of offsetting emissions from producing products.”

While the direct outcome will be a new car – what the company is calling Polestar 0 – it will require a total overhaul of the manufacturing process that could eventually extend to Polestar’s other models. Klarén said that although Polestar’s entire fleet will not be climate neutral by 2030, the company and its parent Volvo have already set targets of being climate neutral across their operations, including Polestar, by 2040.

Both of Polestar’s current models, Polestar 1 and 2, are manufactured in China. Klarén said while much about the Polestar 0 has yet to be determined, the company hopes that it, too will be Chinese-made. Although the country still has a strong reliance on coal, there’s massive development in sustainable technology and manufacturing, she pointed out.

“If I get to vote, we will continue producing in China, but that being said, the Polestar 0, the solutions we will use are not identified yet and we’re going to need to think in new ways we didn’t think was possible prior – where it will be produced, what materials will go in [it],” said Klarén.

Nor are any of the internal systems settled. Geely AG, the parent company of Volvo Cars and Polestar, has been developing its own internal computer-and-battery platform, but it hasn’t been decided whether the new Polestar model will use this system.

She said the most challenging parts of the EV manufacturing process to transition to climate neutral are the materials, specifically aluminum, steel, and battery components.

“We need to tackle the production-related emissions,” she explained. The environmental impact of producing steel, aluminum and the basic materials found in lithium-based batteries is still significant.

Along with the new vehicle, Polestar also launched a product sustainability declaration that clearly lists the carbon footprint of Polestar 2 and all coming models.

“Offsetting is a cop-out,” Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath said in a statement. “By pushing ourselves to create a completely climate-neutral car, we are forced to reach beyond what is possible today.  We will have to question everything, innovate and look to exponential technologies as we design towards zero.”

#automotive, #carbon-offset, #climate, #electric-cars, #electric-vehilces, #evs, #geely-auto-group, #polestar, #transportation, #volvo-cars

Volkswagen really is becoming ‘Voltswagen’ in the U.S.

Automaker Volkswagen wants you to know it’s serious about electric vehicles — so serious, in fact, that it’s officially rebranding around a pun in the U.S. The company revealed in a press release that it’s changing its name from “Volkswagen of America” to “Voltswagen of America” in a press release today. News this could happen leaked late Monday, but many speculated it might be an April Fool’s joke that got out a bit early, but the automaker seems serious about switching the official brand from May 2021 onwards given the official release on its newsroom.

Voltswagen (neé Volkswagen) says that the reason behind the change is to firmly demonstrate its commitment “future-forward investment in e-mobility,” which said more simply, implies that it’s super serious about its electric drivetrain plans. In a more literal sense, ‘Volkswagen’ is actually from the German for ‘the people’s car,’ which suggests that Voltswagen is a car for… volts?

Sort of, but not really, says VW (hey that still works!):

“We have said, from the beginning of our shift to an electric future, that we will build EVs for the millions, not just millionaires,” explained VW CEO and President Scott Keogh in the release announcing the swap. “This name change signifies a nod to our past as the peoples’ car and our firm belief that our future is in being the peoples’ electric car.”

This announcement comes just as Volkswagen has begun shipping its all-electric SUV, the ID.4, in the U.S. It ha a price tag of $33,995, before either federal and tax incentives, so that is indeed on the more affordable side of the existing U.S. electric vehicle market, with even more options set to come for cost-conscious consumers in future as the company spurs uses its commitments of lowering emissions by achieving one million global EV sales by 2025, and playing host to a lineup of mover 70 models across VW and its subrands worldwide by 2029.

Voltswagen branding will include use of a higher blue tone on the VW logo for all-electric vehicles, while gas cars will retain the more traditional dark blue look. The actual word ‘Voltswagen’ will be used on EVs in addition to the initials logo, with the icon graphic itself will be the sole branding on gas cars in the U.S. going forward.

#america, #cars, #electric-car, #electric-vehicle, #evs, #tc, #transport, #united-states, #volkswagen, #volkswagen-group, #voltswagen, #vw

ChargerHelp raises $2.75M to keep EV chargers working

The coming wave of electric vehicles will require more than thousands of charging stations. In addition to being installed, they also need to work — and today, that isn’t happening.

If a station doesn’t send out an error or a driver doesn’t report an issue, network providers might never know there’s even a problem. Kameale C. Terry, who co-founded ChargerHelp!, an on-demand repair app for electric vehicle charging stations, has seen these problems firsthand.

One customer assumed that poor usage rates at a particular station was down to a lack of EVs in the area, Terry recalled in a recent interview. That wasn’t the problem.

“There was an abandoned vehicle parked there and the station was surrounded by mud,” said Terry who is CEO and co-founded the company with Evette Ellis.

Demand for ChargerHelp’s service has attracted customers and investors. The company said it has raised $2.75 million from investors Trucks VC, Kapor Capital, JFF, Energy Impact Partners, and The Fund. This round values the startup, which was founded in January 2020, at $11 million post-money.

The funds will be used to build out its platform, hire beyond its 27-person workforce and expand its service area. ChargerHelp works directly with the charging manufacturers and network providers.

“Today when a station goes down there’s really no troubleshooting guidance,” said Terry, noting that it takes getting someone out into the field to run diagnostics on the station to understand the specific problem. After an onsite visit, a technician then typically shares data with the customer, and then steps are taken to order the correct and specific part — a practice that often doesn’t happen today.

While ChargerHelp is couched as an on-demand repair app, it is also acts as a preventative maintenance service for its customers.

Powering up

The idea for ChargerHelp came from Terry’s experience working at EV Connect, where she held a number of roles including head of customer experience and director of programs. During her time there, she worked with 12 different manufacturers, which gave her knowledge into inner workings and common problems with the chargers.

It was here that she spotted a gap in the EV charging market.

“When the stations went down we really couldn’t get anyone on site because most of the issues were communication issues, vandalism, firmware updates or swapping out a part — all things that were not electrical,” Terry said.

And yet, the general practice was to use electrical contractors to fix issues at the charging stations. Terry said it could take as long as 30 days to get an electrical contractor on site to repair these non-electrical problems.

Terry often took matters in her own hands if issues arose with stations located in Los Angeles, where she is based.

“If there was a part that needed to be swapped out, I would just go do it myself,” Terry said, adding she didn’t have a background in software or repairs. “I thought, if I can figure this stuff out, then anyone can.”

In January 2020, Terry quit her job and started ChargerHelp. The newly minted founder joined the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator, where she developed a curriculum to teach people how to repair EV chargers. It was here that she met Ellis, a career coach at LACI who also worked at the Long Beach Job Corp Center. Ellis is now the chief workforce officer at ChargerHelp.

Since then, Terry and Ellis were accepted into Elemental Excelerator’s startup incubator, raised about $400,000 in grant money, launched a pilot program with Tellus Power focused on preventative maintenance, landed contracts with EV charging networks and manufacturers such as EV Connect, ABB and Sparkcharge. Terry said they have also hired their core team of seven employees and trained their first tranche of technicians.

Hiring approach

ChargerHelp takes a workforce-development approach to finding employees. The company only hires in cohorts, or groups, of employees.

The company received more than 1,600 applications in its first recruitment round for electric vehicle service technicians, according to Terry. Of those, 20 were picked to go through training and 18 were ultimately hired to service contracts across six states, including California, Oregon, Washington, New York and Texas. Everyone who is picked to go through training are paid a stipend and earn two safety licenses.

The startup will begin its second recruitment round in April. All workers are full-time with a guaranteed wage of $30 an hour and are being given shares in the startup, Terry said. The company is working directly with workforce development centers in the areas where ChargerHelp needs technicians.

#abb, #automotive, #california, #career-coach, #ceo, #chargerhelp, #charging-stations, #driver, #electric-vehicle, #electric-vehicles, #energy-impact-partners, #evs, #green-vehicles, #inductive-charging, #kapor-capital, #los-angeles, #new-york, #oregon, #sparkcharge, #tc, #texas, #transportation, #washington

Amazon begins testing its Rivian electric delivery vans in San Francisco

Amazon is expanding customer deliveries via electric cargo vehicle to San Francisco, making the Bay Area the second of 16 total cities the company expects to bring its Rivian-sourced EVs to in 2021. 

San Francisco’s unique terrain and climate were a couple of the reasons Amazon said it chose the city for its second round of testing. Its EVs, which were designed and built in partnership with Rivian, can last up to 150 miles on a single charge. 

Amazon began testing its electric delivery van in Los Angeles in early February as part of its Climate Pledge, which involves the purchase of 100,000 custom electric delivery vehicles. The company first unveiled the vans last October, and has said it aims to have 10,000 of the vehicles operational by next year. 

Bay Area deliveries will initially come out of Amazon’s station in Richmond, California, just one of the many delivery stations the e-commerce giant is redesigning to service its new fleet of EVs. A recent $200 million investment into a new delivery station in the heart of San Francisco signals Amazon’s push to significantly increase deliveries in the city. 

“From what we’ve seen, this is one of the fastest modern commercial electrification programs, and we’re incredibly proud of that,” said Ross Rachey, director of Amazon’s global fleet and products in a statement.

Amazon isn’t the only company to recognize the logic behind electrifying delivery fleets for short trips within cities: DHL says zero-emission vehicles already make up 20% of its fleet, UPS has placed an order for 10,000 EVs and FedEx has pledged to replace 100% of its fleet with electric vehicles by 2040. 

#amazon, #automotive, #delivery, #electric-vehicles, #evs, #logistics, #rivian, #tc, #transportation

Ford to go all electric in Europe by 2030

Ford today announced a new strategy for the European market that aims the automaker at primarily only selling electric vehicles by 2030. To do so, Ford intends to spend $1 billion to revamp a factory in Cologne, Germany, where it will produce EVs using a Volkswagen platform. The first production vehicle from the updated factory is expected by 2023.

Stuart Rowley, president of Ford of Europe, made the announcement today during an online news conference.

This new strategy involves phasing out gasoline-powered vehicles in favor of electric power. The automaker expects to have all commercial vehicles made by Ford in Europe be electric by 2024. Two years later, it expects to have converted its entire lineup into electric or plug-in hybrids. Gasoline-powered commercial vehicles will still be offered for sale in Europe after 2030, Ford says. However, the automaker currently sees electric models accounting for two-thirds of its European sales.

Ford’s announcement comes after a similar pledge from General Motors where the automaker said it intended to mostly produce EVs by 2035. Both Ford and General Motors are small players in the European market where GM has all but pulled out, and Ford only has a 5% market share.

#ev, #evs, #ford, #general-motors, #gm, #tc

Will Ferrell and GM want to prank Norway with pizza, but why?

GM and Will Ferrell took a Cadillac Lyriq EV to Sweden to highlight the fact that Norway buys more electric vehicles per capita than the US.

Enlarge / GM and Will Ferrell took a Cadillac Lyriq EV to Sweden to highlight the fact that Norway buys more electric vehicles per capita than the US. (credit: General Motors)

Although a bunch of automakers chose to sit out 2021, General Motors still saw value in advertising during this year’s Super Bowl. The automaker used the event to promote its electric vehicle aspirations, which include plans to have an all-electric lineup by 2035.

This project will be propelled by a new platform called Ultium and will start with next year’s Cadillac Lyriq and GMC Hummer EV. But you wouldn’t know that from the ad campaign—at least not at first. Instead, we learn that Will Ferrell is really angry with Norway, and he wants to prank the nation of more than five million by sending them all anchovy pizzas.

The cause of this rage? Norway is doing better at EV adoption than the US. Much better, in fact, as 54 percent of all new vehicles sold in the Scandinavian country in 2020 were electric. Here in the US, plug-in vehicles accounted for a mere 2.2 percent of the 14.6 million new cars and trucks sold last year (although in absolute numbers, the US still bought about three times as many EVs as Norway).

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#audi, #cars, #climate-change, #electric-vehicles, #evs, #ford, #general-motors, #norway, #plug-ins, #super-bowl

Amazon begins delivering packages with prototype electric trucks

An Amazon-branded truck drives down a street lined with palm trees.

Enlarge / A prototype Amazon delivery truck in the Los Angeles area. (credit: Amazon)

A year and a half after Amazon announced that it would buy 100,000 electric trucks to reduce its carbon footprint, Amazon says it has begun using prototype vehicles for real-world deliveries in Los Angeles. Amazon expects to spend a few more months testing the vehicles before the start of mass production later this year.

Amazon placed the massive order with Rivian, a startup that has raised billions of dollars to build electric trucks. Amazon is a Rivian investor.

Rivian has designed a “skateboard” electric truck platform that can be used to build a wide variety of vehicles. Rivian is aiming to begin deliveries of its flagship pickup truck, the R1T, and the R1S SUV later this year.

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#amazon, #cars, #climate-change, #evs, #rivian

The automotive industry has got SPAC madness, and it may not end well

Fisker Ocean showing

Enlarge / Fisker now has a market cap of $4.1 billion thanks to a SPAC reverse merger in 2020. It says that the Ocean SUV will be the most sustainable vehicle ever sold. (credit: Fisker)

With technology disrupting the automotive industry, investors have raced to secure exposure to potential winners—whether battery makers, manufacturers of other forms of power storage or developers of the “lidar” sensors that some believe are key to the development of self-driving cars.

Yet, according to a Financial Times analysis, the nine auto tech groups that listed via a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) last year expected revenues of just $139 million between them for 2020. They include QuantumScape, a battery company backed by Bill Gates and Volkswagen; the hydrogen truck start-up Nikola; and the lidar company Luminar Technologies.

While the past 12 months proved a hot market for tech groups doing conventional IPOs, bankers and lawyers say that the SPAC process gives companies—and the vehicles acquiring them—far greater latitude in disclosing future financial projections. The nine auto tech companies, for example, together predict their revenues will reach $26 billion by 2024.

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#bev, #cars, #evs, #gm, #spac, #vw

Carmakers want to ditch battery packs, use auto bodies for energy storage

A stylized image of an automobile.

Enlarge (credit: Viaframe / Getty Images)

Elon Musk made a lot of promises during Tesla’s Battery Day last September. Soon, he said, the company would have a car that runs on batteries with pure silicon anodes to boost their performance and reduced cobalt in the cathodes to lower their price. Its battery pack will be integrated into the chassis so that it provides mechanical support in addition to energy, a design that Musk claimed will reduce the car’s weight by 10 percent and improve its mileage by even more. He hailed Tesla’s structural battery as a “revolution” in engineering—but for some battery researchers, Musk’s future looked a lot like the past.

“He’s essentially doing something that we did 10 years ago,” says Emile Greenhalgh, a materials scientist at Imperial College London and the engineering chair in emerging technologies at the Royal Academy. He’s one of the world’s leading experts on structural batteries, an approach to energy storage that erases the boundary between the battery and the object it powers. “What we’re doing is going beyond what Elon Musk has been talking about,” Greenhalgh says. “There are no embedded batteries. The material itself is the energy storage device.”

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#batteries, #cars, #evs, #li-ion, #science, #zinc

Mobileye signs driver-assistance deal with Geely, one of China’s largest privately-held auto makers

Mobileye’s computer vision technology will be used in a new premium electric vehicle called Zero Concept from Geely Auto Group, one of China’s largest privately-held automobile manufacturers. Mobileye’s owner Intel made the announcement today at the Beijing Auto Show. Zero Concept is produced by Lynk & Co., the brand formed as a joint venture between Geely Auto and Volvo Car Group, and uses Mobileye’s SuperVision driving-assistance system.

Intel also announced that Mobileye and Geely Auto have signed a long-term, high-volume agreement for advanced driver-assistance systems that means more Geely Auto vehicles will be equipped with Mobileye’s computer vision technology.

In a post, Mobileye chief executive officer and Intel senior vice president Amnon Shashua wrote that the deal is the first time “Mobileye will be responsible for the full solution stack, including hardware and software, driving policy and control.”

He added “it also marks the first time that an OEM has publicly noted Mobileye’s plan to provide over-the-air updates to the system after deployment. While this capacity has always been in our repertoire, Geey and Mobileye want to assure customers that we can easily scale their driving-assistance features and keep everything up to date across the car’s lifetime.”

Based in Israel, Mobileye was acquired by Intel in 2017 for $15.3 billion. Its technology and services are used in vehicles from automakers including BMW, Audi, Volkswagen, Nissan, Honda and General Motors, and includes features that warn drivers about issues like blind spots, potential lane departures, collision risks and speed limits.

Geely Auto’s parent company is Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, also the parent company of Volvo Car Group. In 2019, Geely Auto Group says its brands sold a total of more than 1.46 million units. China is one of the fastest-growing electric vehicle markets in the world, and even though sales were hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic, government policies, including consumer subsidies and investment in charging infrastructure, are expected to help its EV market recover.

#automotive, #china, #electric-vehicles, #evs, #geely-auto-group, #intel, #israel, #mobileye, #mobility, #tc

Uber Africa launches Uber Cash with Flutterwave and explores EVs

Uber is launching its Uber Cash digital wallet feature in Sub-Saharan Africa through a partnership with San Francisco based — Nigerian founded — fintech firm Flutterwave.

The arrangement will allow riders to top up Uber wallets using the dozens of remittance partners active on Flutterwave’s Pan-African network.

Flutterwave operates as a B2B payments gateway network that allows clients to tap its APIs and customize payments applications.

Uber Cash will go live this week and next for Uber’s ride-hail operations in South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda and Ghana, Ivory Coast and Tanzania, according to Alon Lits — Uber’s General Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa.

“Depending on the country, you’ve got different top up methods available. For example in Nigeria you can use your Verve Card or mobile money. In Kenya, you can use M-Pesa and EFT and in South Africa you can top up with EFT,” said Lits.

Uber Cash in Africa will also accept transfers from Flutterwave’s Barter payment app, launched with Visa in 2019.

The move could increase Uber’s ride traffic in Africa by boosting the volume of funds sent to digital wallets and reducing friction in the payment process.

Uber still accepts cash on the continent — which has one of the world’s largest unbanked populations — but has made strides on financial inclusion through mobile money.

Update on Uber Africa

Uber has been in Africa since 2015 and continued to adapt to local market dynamics, including global and local competition and more recently, COVID-19. The company’s GM Alon Lits spoke to TechCrunch on updates — including EV possibilities — and weathering the coronavirus outbreak in Africa.

Uber in Sub-Saharan Africa continued to run through the pandemic, with a couple exceptions. “The only places we ceased operations was where there were government directives,” Lits said. That included Uganda and Lagos, Nigeria.

Though he couldn’t share data, Lits acknowledged there had been a significant reduction in Uber’s Africa business through the pandemic, in line with the 70% drop in global ride volume Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi disclosed in March.

“You can imagine in markets where we were not allowed to operate revenues obviously go to zero,” said Lits.

Like Africa’s broader tech ecosystem, Uber has adapted its business to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Africa, which hit hardest in March and April and led to lockdowns in key economies, such as Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa

On how to make people feel safe about ride-hailing in a coronavirus world, Lits highlighted some specific practices. In line with Uber’s global policy, it’s mandatory in Africa for riders and drivers to wear masks.

“We’re actually leveraging facial recognition technology to check that drivers are wearing masks before they go,” said Lits. Uber Africa is also experimenting with impact safe, plastic dividers for its cars in Kenya and Nigeria.

Uber Africa Nairobi

Image Credits: Uber

In Africa, Uber has continued to expand its services and experiment with things the company doesn’t do in in any major markets. The first was allowing cash payments in 2016 — something Uber hopes the introduction of Uber Cash will help reduce.

Along with rival Bolt, Uber connected ride-hail products to Africa’s motorcycle and three-wheeled tuk-tuk taxi markets in 2018.

Uber moved into delivery in Africa, with Uber Eats, and recently started transporting medical supplies in South Africa through a partnership with The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Mobility Africa

In addition to global competitors, such as Bolt, Uber faces local competition as Africa’s mobility sector becomes a hotspot for VC and startups.

A couple trends worth tracking will be Uber’s potential expansion to Ethiopia and moves toward EV development in Africa.

On Ethiopia, the country has a nascent tech scene with the strongest demographic and economic thesis — Africa’s second largest population and seventh biggest economy — to become the continent’s next digital hotspot.

Ethiopia also has a burgeoning ride-hail industry, with local mobility ventures Ride and Zayride. Uber hasn’t mentioned (that we know of) any intent to move into the East African country. But if it does, that would serve as a strong indicator of the company’s commitment to remaining a mobility player in Africa.

Ampersand Africa e motorcycle

Ampersand in Rwanda, Image Credits: Ampersand

With regards to electric, there’s been movement on the continent over the last year toward developing EVs for ride-hail and delivery use.

In 2019, Nigerian mobility startup MAX.ng raised a $7 million Series A round backed by Yamaha, a portion of which was dedicated to pilot e-motorcycles powered by renewable energy.

Last year the government of Rwanda established a national plan to phase out gas motorcycle taxis for e-motos, working in partnership with EV startup Ampersand.

And in May, Vaya Africa — a ride-hail mobility venture founded by mogul Strive Masiyiwa — launched an electric taxi service and solar charging network in Zimbabwe. Vaya plans to expand the program across the continent and is exploring e-moto passenger and delivery products.

On Uber’s moves toward electric in Africa, it could begin with two or three wheeled transit.

“That’s something we’ve been looking at in South Africa…nothing that we’ve launched yet, but it is a conversation that’s ongoing,” said Uber’s Sub-Saharan Africa GM Alon Lits.

He noted one of the challenges of such an electric model on the continent is lack of a robust charging infrastructure.

Even so, if Uber enters that space — with Vaya and others — emissions free ride-hail and delivery EVs buzzing around African cities could soon be a reality.

#africa, #african-tech, #business, #ceo, #dara-khosrowshahi, #e-motorcycles, #energy, #ethiopia, #evs, #flutterwave, #ghana, #kenya, #lagos, #nigeria, #player, #rwanda, #san-francisco, #south-africa, #tanzania, #tc, #transport, #uber, #uganda, #vaya-africa, #visa, #yamaha, #zimbabwe

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