Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Germany: October EV sales second best month ever. Plug-In Car Registrations In Germany Up To Almost 1,250 in October

Plug-in registrations in Germany – October 2014

The number of electric car registrations grew last month in Germany to the second highest result ever – 1,243 and 10,343 YTD.

Registrations of plug-in hybrids doubled year-over-year to 402, while all-electric cars went down a little bit to 841. In total, plug-ins captured some 0.4% of the market.

BEVs still hold more than two-thirds of the market – 6,888, with plug-in hybrids at 3,455 this year.

Plug-in registrations in Germany – October 2014

Electric smart with 263 in October and 1,286 in 10 months is the best selling all-electric car in Germany.

Renault ZOE had its best month ever with 178 registrations. 919 were registered this year.

BMW i3 is stable at 133 (59 without REx). 2,004 were registered YTD, which makes i3 the leader (among BEVs/PHEVs).

And there were also 75 BMW i8s (new record) this month, which brings its YTD total to 299.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV had 89 registrations in October, reaching 916 for the year.

Nissan LEAF added 74 for 746 total YTD.

Volkswagen had 199 all-electric registrations and 17 plug-in hybrids, while Mercedes had 17 and 26 respectively. VW is approaching 2,000 electric car registrations this year, while Mercedes exceeds 100. Both brands do not break out numbers by individual plug-in models.

Tesla Model S is somewhere at the bottom of the rank with 17 new registrations in October and 593 this year.

Plug-in registrations in Germany – October 2014

US: Coda Sedan to come back as Mullen 700e Recycling of old car designs as Chinese-market vehicles aside, very few car designs live forever in the automotive world. When a car ceases production for whatever reason, it tends to not come back to the same market.

Here’s the Mullen 700e, which will debut at the 2014 LA Auto Show. You may remember it as the Coda Sedan.

Yet the car formerly known as the Coda Sedan is about to do just that with a phoenix-like resurrection planned for this year’s 2014 LA Auto Show. Like a stray cat on yet another of its nine lives, the five-seat electric sedan is back, this time under the name of the Mullen 700e.

What’s more, the car that is debuting this week at the LA Auto Show is almost identical to the Miles XS 200 — a car which debuted at the very same LA Auto Show back in 2007, long before Tesla, Nissan, General Motors or Ford were making and selling mass-produced plug ins.

But in order to understand this particular debut and the Mullen 700e’s past, we’re going to have to give you a little bit of this car’s sworded history.

Based on the Chinese-market Hafei Saibo gasoline-powered sedan — which itself was based on a Japanese-market Mitsubishi Lancer Chassis from the late 1990s — the car originally debuted in the U.S. as the Miles XS 200 was marketed as one of the first affordable all-electric models to hit the market.

That model — which morphed into the Miles XS 500 — promised a range of around 120 miles per charge from a proprietary lithium-ion battery pack, a top speed of 80 mph, and a showroom arrival of late 2008.

By mid-2009, the Miles EV — the company who had imported the Chinese-made electric car into the U.S. in the first place — had made the decision to spin off its full-size, freeway-capable electric car business from the rest of its low-speed, NEV fleet. As a consequence, it started Coda Automotive, a company dedicated to freeway-capable vehicles.

Many years passed, including some fluctuations in expected market price, launch date and a fairly steady stream of staff. Despite some major financial woes — including a desperate last-round of funding — Coda Automotive managed to bring its $38,145 all-electric sedan to production in March 2012.

In the face of better-priced, more capable cars from mainstream automakers like Nissan and General Motors as well as some pretty terrible reviews and a shocking two-star NHTSA frontal crash test rating, most consumers chose more mainstream brands over the retro-styled Coda.

By late 2012, Coda Automotive was in big trouble, laying off fifteen percent of its workforce before slashing prices of its Coda Sedan by more than $14,700 in order to try and attract new buyers. By mid 2013, the Coda Automotive’s parent company — Coda Holdings — filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, Coda Holdings was reorganised, splitting off the lithium-ion battery pack side of Coda Automotive as Coda Energy, with the remaining unsold Coda Sedans and gliders acquired by Ready Remarketing, who along with a company called Club Auto Sales, tried to offer service and sales of the remaining Coda Sedans under the Coda Cars name badge.

Now it seems Coda Cars has been acquired by Mullen Motor Company — a company which itself has been through several defunct business relationships to bring plug-in cars to market — with Coda Car’s CEO Richard Curtis now President of Mullen Consolidated.

And so this is how the Coda Sedan — a car with more lives than we’ve had hot dinners — is yet again preparing to debut at the LA Auto Show this week under the Mullen 700e nameplate.

There’s a new website, and even a new product brochure, which appears to have skilfully reused photoshopped images from the original Coda Production Run, with just the hood name badge changed to reflect the car’s new identity.

As Autobloggreen details, very little about the Mullen 700e is expected to have changed over the former Coda Sedan design, but there’s a hint that a larger 50 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack could be offered, giving the 700e a claimed range of 185 miles per charge.

Even the Coda publicity shots (left) have been reused for the Mullen 700e (right). Same photo, different badges.

Here at Transport Evolved, we’d love to believe that this time the Miles XS200 Miles XS500 Coda Sedan Mullen 700e is going to make it big in the marketplace.

But while Mullen is keen to market this vehicle as “The All-New, All-Electric Mullen 700e,” in its official brochure, we’ve yet to see any evidence that this isn’t yet another attempt to bring a car back to market that didn’t do all that well the first few times around.

We hope to be proven wrong.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Next Generation GS Yuasa lithium-ion battery triples energy density Next Generation GS Yuasa lithium-ion battery GS Yuasa Corp. said Monday it has developed a next-generation lithium-ion battery with three times the capacity of existing products. The battery uses sulfur as a key material for the positive electrode. The Kyoto-based company now aims to improve the durability of the silicon-based negative electrode, so it can commercialize the next-generation lithium-ion battery by 2020.

Sulfur is harmless to humans, cheap and found in abundance in nature. But it does not conduct electricity, making it difficult to obtain strong electric output from batteries using sulfur-based electrodes.

GS Yuasa succeeded in discharging the high-capacity battery by filling sulfur into small holes on carbon rods in order to make the element conductive, the company said.

“This battery can be manufactured at a lower cost,” said Shuji Hitomi, group manager at GS Yuasa’s research and development center. “If it is used in a car, the range (without recharging) would be greatly increased.”

Monday, 17 November 2014

Research: EVs $533 billion by 2025

According to IDTechEx, analysis shows that the electric vehicle business will cap at $533 billion dollars in 2025.

According to IDTechEx, analysis shows that the electric vehicle business will cap at $533 billion dollars in 2025.

You surely already know that electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids are on the rise for obvious reasons, among them being a huge cut in operating cost and in emissions… It’s a win-win to go electric.

With loads of plug-ins becoming available on the market, there’s now becoming an EV to fit most anyone’s needs.

Some obscure examples of why plug-ins on the rise include: China auto manufacturers producing 11-times more plug-ins than in 2014 than in 2013; China’s devotion to purchasing electric buses; Canadian mining companies wanting electric trucks; more motorcycle makers committing to producing all-electric bikes; and so on.

IDTechEx’s sales graph.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

VW: 400 mile battery packs? Solid-state batteries capable of delivering on a 400+ mile range per single charge are a real possibility and possess “great potential” according to Volkswagen’s Chairman of the Board Dr Martin Winterkorn.

Those comments from Winterkorn were made recently during a Stanford award ceremony for “Science Award Electrochemistry.”

Bold comments (relatively so anyways). Of course, if such a battery can be economically manufactured, then that would more-or-less turn the industry upside-down — pretty much eliminating “range anxiety anxiety” and opening EVs up to a segment of the market that is currently disinterested in driving them.

As sister site GAS2 notes, “the ability to bring 1,000 Wh/l to EVs [makes] them rival the range of many conventional cars. Current battery energy is in the area of just 260 Wh/l, so Winterkorn is looking at nearly quadrupling the density of the current crop of battery tech.”

Another key factor will be bringing down the costs, with the VW exec saying that lowering the price to about 100 euros ($124) per kWh would “significantly increase the market potential of electric vehicles.”

The solid electrolyte of solid-state batteries is also much less likely to catch fire compared to the liquid solutions many EVs currently use (not that such a concern compares to the concern of a gasoline tank catching fire). Toyota claims to already have a 400 Wh/l battery pack, but it’s clearly not excited about or bullish on EVs, so….

While Volkswagen has been something of a late arriver to the EV market, the company is slowly making gains towards its goal of a diversified EV lineup. Company executives have previously stated that they expect to have EVs with ranges of 300+ miles by the end of 2017. While this article has mostly dealt with solid-state technologies, Volkswagen is also reportedly pursuing lithium-air battery technology.

Why I will nver buy a Lexus

Watch the Lexus TV commercial and judge for yourself.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Tesla: Autopilot New Safety Features and Autopilot

The launch of Dual Motor Model S coincides with the introduction of a standard hardware package that will enable autopilot functionality. Every single Model S now rolling out of the factory includes a forward radar, 12 long range ultrasonic sensors positioned to sense 16 feet around the car in every direction at all speeds, a forward looking camera, and a high precision, digitally controlled electric assist braking system.

Building on this hardware with future software releases, we will deliver a range of active safety features, using digital control of motors, brakes, and steering to avoid collisions from the front, sides, or from leaving the road. (Please note this hardware is not available as a retrofit.)

Model S will be able to steer to stay within a lane, change lanes with the simple tap of a turn signal, and manage speed by reading road signs and using active, traffic aware cruise control. It will take several months for all Autopilot features to be completed and uploaded to the cars.

Our goal with the introduction of this new hardware and software is not to enable driverless cars, which are still years away from becoming a reality. Our system is called Autopilot because it’s similar to systems that pilots use to increase comfort and safety when conditions are clear. Tesla’s Autopilot is a way to relieve drivers of the most boring and potentially dangerous aspects of road travel – but the driver is still responsible for, and ultimately in control of, the car.

The Autopilot hardware opens up some exciting long term possibilities. Imagine having your car check your calendar in the morning (a feature introduced in Software v6.0), calculate travel time to your first appointment based on real time traffic data, automatically open the garage door with Homelink, carefully back out of a tight garage, and pull up to your door ready for your commute. Of course, it could also warm or cool your car to your preferences and select your favorite morning news stream.

The introduction of this hardware is just the first step for Autopilot in Model S. We will continue to develop new capabilities and deliver them through over-the-air software updates, keeping our customers at the forefront of driving technology.

Other Product Updates

Our commitment to continuous improvement extends to other features of Model S, and we have recently made several updates to the car. The following features are either in production or will be delivered with Dual Motor Model S (as indicated).
Seat comfort improvements and taller headrests for whiplash protection
Improvements for a quieter cabin
Wider rear door opening
Electrically opening, self-closing charge port door on Dual Motor Model S (delivered with Dual Motor Model S)
Increased visor size and larger vanity mirror
Parcel shelf and front trunk cargo net now standard
Air ionizer and carbon filter for cabin air purity
Updated steering column control module
Updates to Alcantara interior trim, such as wrapped roof bow and top pad

USA: Ford links with micro wind turbine company Ford has just tapped four dealerships to receive micro wind turbines in a first-of-its-kind partnership with the aptly named company Wind Energy Corporation, and we are already convinced this is just the first tiny ripple in a massive wave of wind energy installations at Ford locations. The new vertical-design turbines spell out Ford in big, bold letters, providing a perfect example of the unique branding and marketing opportunities that micro wind turbines provide to businesses.

The idea is, if you’re going to spend money on an elevated sign anyways, you might as well put it into service generating clean, renewable energy to attract and serve your growing cadre of energy-aware customers and EV buyers.

The Wind Energy Corporation Micro Wind Turbine

Ford’s press material on the new micro wind turbines was a little thin on detail and the website forWind Energy was under construction at the time of this writing, but the folks at Wind Energy were nice enough to email additional specs for the wind turbine.

The vertical wind sail micro wind turbine is part of a proprietary integrated system that includes a 5.5 kilowatt wind energy generator and a 7.0 kilowatt solar panel array (available as rooftop or ground mounted), all coordinated with smart electrical and control systems. Wind Energy calls it, what else, The Windy System™.

According to Ford, each Windy System can deliver about 20,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, which is enough to charge a Ford Focus Electric 870 times.

The turbine is designed specifically for placement in proximity to buildings and people, meaning that it is quiet, and Wind Energy claims that it is “bird-bat-butterfly friendly.” At about 20 feet tall and 13 feet in diameter, the slim silhouette also helps from an aesthetic point of view. Overall, the turbine plus the tower is 50 to 65 feet tall.

As for durability, anything at 6 mph and more gets you a current, although the turbine will lock down for safety if things reach a hectic 40 mph.
Micro Wind Turbines And Ford

Along with our sister site we’ve been following Ford’s transition into the EV market. Aside from retail hybrid and electric vehicles, the company has also been all over sustainable strategies at its manufacturing sites, and it has become one of the leaders in the trend toward renewable energy packaging for home EV charging.

Extending the renewable energy messaging out to the company’s dealers was the next step. Under the terms of the new partnership, Wind Energy will put up $750,000 to install The Windy System at the four dealerships (we didn’t ask, but that sounds like a power purchase agreement to us). Aside from EV charging, the output will also go to power outdoor lighting and indoor energy use.

Apparently Ford and Wind Energy tapped the four dealers in recognition of their “exceptional commitment to clean energy” as well as their suitability as wind and solar energy sites, so let’s give them a shout-out:

Dana Ford Lincoln, Staten Island, New York
Tom Holzer Ford, Farmington Hills, Michigan
The Ford Store, Morgan Hill, California
Fiesta Ford, Indio, California
Advantages Of Micro Wind Turbines

While we’ve been huge fans of tall-tower, utility scale wind turbines (especially in the emergingoffshore wind energy sector), we also have the loves for micro wind turbines. You don’t get the scale efficiencies, but with micro wind turbines commercial property owners and tenants do get the twofer of doubling up signage with renewable energy generation. If your wind is in the doldrums, no problem, because the turbine still functions as a sign.

It’s also worth noting that, despite some naysayers in the wind industry, the US Department of Energy is anticipating that micro wind turbines will play a role in the future energy landscape.

Wind Energy’s choice of turbine dovetails with the branding aspect because unlike bladed turbines, the wind sail’s broad, sail-like surfaces lend themselves to lettering and other graphics.

Speaking of branding, the folks at Ford were nice enough to invite us along last spring when they introduced the new tricked-out 2015 Edge, and they included a brief overview of the Ford licensing program for retail in the package. Have you checked out the Ford merch store lately? We’re thinking that aside from dealerships, some of those Ford fans out there will want to get their hands around a Ford-branded micro wind turbine.

For that matter, given the growing popularity of micro wind turbines at sports venues, team-branded micro wind turbines for sporting goods stores could be next on the horizon.

Korea: Seoul offers $18,000 EV grant - with a catch Those considering purchasing an EV may now want to consider moving to the capital of Korea, Seoul — owing to the city’s recent legislative moves designed to spur the growth of the EV market there.

The city is now offering up to 20 million won (around $18,225 at the current exchange rate) in incentives to EV buyers there. There’s a catch, though: the full incentives are available only to those that purchase from one of four partner car manufacturers.

Those four car manufacturers are: BMW, General Motors, Kia, and Renault-Samsung.

So, there are certainly some options there, so not too bad. (Unsurprisingly, EVs from Japanese auto manufacturers like Nissan aren’t eligible.)

With the new incentives factored in, the base price of a new high-end EV, like the BMW i3, can be lowered substantially — from about 57.5 million won ($52,423) to about 37.5 million ($34,200).

I guess I might need to retract my first sentence, though, at least for Americans. After the US federal tax credit for electric vehicles, the BMW i3 costs just $33,850.

EV charging stations incentives are also in place for corporate and other organizational buyers. There’s an additional 7 million won ($6,379) in incentives available for installers of charging stations in parking lots or garages.

The reported reason for the rather high incentives on offer is as a counter to the common public disinterest in EVs in Korea. Currently there are only about 1,500 registered EVs in South Korea, out of a total of 20 million registered vehicles.

If you’re wondering why that number is so low, though, the real reason isn’t simply public apathy but also restrictive laws that could more or less be referred to as being “anti-EV.” The most prominent of these laws is the one that “bars electric cars from local highways with speed limits over 60 kilometers per hour (about 37 mph) — including almost 208 miles of highway in and around Seoul.” What?!

You’d hope rather than simply offering incentives that that law would be struck off the books…. But it remains for now.

UK: EV surge continues

According to the SMMT, Plug-in electric sales passed 10,000 units YTD at the end of October (10,421, vs 2,840 YTD 2013). The market is surging...