New Retail Layouts With EV Charging Deliver a High-Value Customer Experience

The surge in curbside pickup and drive-thru is spurring a major rethinking of how to configure convenience stores and quick serve restaurants to give customers multiple ways to order and pickup food and receive other useful services such as electric vehicle charging, all on the same site.

Public EV charging, which remains hard to find in most areas, is a particularly valuable amenity because it demonstrates the host’s commitment to sustainability while providing customers with a desperately-needed service, especially for drivers who don’t have access to a home charger and rely on convenience charging at work and while shopping.

At a recent presentation to the National Association of Convenience Stores, Joseph Bona and Dan Munford illustrated how global operators are adapting through innovative store designs and site layouts, including by adding complementary services such as EV charging (highlighted below for convenience).

Conceptual plan from Bona Design Lab shows drive-thru-only c-store on site that also includes a walk-up window, EV charging stations and gas pumps.
Conceptual plan from Bona Design Lab shows drive-thru-only c-store on site that also includes EV charging stations.

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EV Chargers Go Upscale

When Automobili Pininfarina’s fully electric Battista supercar is released, owners won’t have to worry about figuring out which home charger to get. The world-renowned design house teamed up with Swiss electric vehicle charger manufacturer and network operator Green Motion SA to produce a bespoke home charger designed not only for function, but also for aesthetics.

The result of this innovative partnership, the Residenza home charger, will charge the Battista’s 120 kWh battery at speeds of 22 kW in Europe and 7.2 kW in the U.S. The Residenza is constructed with recycled and organic materials, and can be customized to match the color of the vehicle. The unit will have an integrated cable management system in the U.S. and a coiled cable in Europe. To take advantage of time-of-use pricing at home, customers can remotely schedule charging and they can also monitor charging status in real-time, both with a dedicated app, 

Most charging will be at home with the Residenza, and for longer journeys the Battista can fill up from 20% to 80% in about 25 minutes using a 180 kW DC fast charger.

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Extreme EV: Electric Mobility (and Luxury) Goes Off-Road

Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz AG this week showcased the EQC 4×4², a heavily modified version of the company’s fully electric EQC 400 4MATIC. The one-off EQC 4×4² is designed to demonstrate electric vehicles’ extreme off-road capabilities and provides a glimpse into future offerings.

While EVs to date have mostly focused on light duty passenger vehicles, a slew of SUVs and pickup trucks are coming soon. In this case, the EQC 4×4²’s extra 6 inches of height enables the vehicle to ford almost 16 inches of water. Steep hills are also not a problem; while the standard EQC is limited to approach and departure angles of 20 degrees, the EQC 4×4² can handle upwards of 30 degree angles.

Another unique feature is the “lampspeaker,” a multipurpose headlamp that contains a speaker to signal the vehicle’s presence (an important safety feature necessitated by the nearly silent electric powertrain).

The EQC’s 80 kWh battery delivers approximately 285 miles on a single charge, and is capable of recharging in about 40 minutes at 110 kW or overnight using a typical Level 2 charger.

Stay tuned for more updates from Daimler’s passenger car brand: Mercedes-Benz plans to launch five fully electric vehicles and 20 plug-in hybrids by the end of next year. Electrified options will grow to include more than 10 all-electrics and 25 plug-in hybrids by 2025. More broadly, the company estimates at least 50 percent of its sedans, coupes, and SUVs will be electrified by 2030.

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Scania Expands Heavy Duty Electric Truck Market

Photo of Scania 25 P battery electric 6x2 rear-steer general cargo transport.

Scania today launched a series of electric trucks, some plug-in hybrid and others fully electric, with the aim to be a leader in the transition to a sustainable transportation system – particularly in urban last-mile delivery applications.

One commercial benefit of electric trucks is that they enable delivery providers to be compliant with rules in urban areas that increasingly prohibit internal combustion engines. Perhaps more significantly, though, the silent powertrain means operators can increase utilization by making deliveries early in the morning and late into the evening. This enables drivers to avoid traffic and park more easily; studies show that off-peak deliveries can be more than 30 percent faster than equivalent daytime routes.

Scania’s fully electric truck can be equipped with batteries capable of storing from 165 to 300 kWh, which at the higher end will provide about 155 miles of range. And in addition to general cargo and temperature-controlled transports, e-trucks can be productively configured as tow truck, tipper truck, concrete mixers and refuse collectors as well as for fire and rescue services.

“It is with a great deal of pride that we announce the start of Scania’s long-term electrification commitment. We will over the coming years annually launch electrified products for our entire range and we are presently reorganizing our production towards that end. Of particular significance is that we will in a few years’ time, also introduce long-distance electric trucks adapted for fast charging during drivers’ compulsory 45-minute rest periods.”  

Scania President and CEO Henrik Henriksson
Photo of Scania 25 P battery electric vehicle charging.

Using the CCS connector at 130 kW DC, the 165 kWh pack can be charged in less than 55 minutes and the 300 kWh pack can be charged in less than 100 minutes. Batteries will also be charged while driving through regenerative braking.

“Scania signifies premium quality and needless to say that characterizes our electrified trucks as well,” said Anders Lampinen, Director of New Technologies. “We are convinced that progressive customers will be eager to lead the way into electrification by taking initial steps to future-proof their fleets,” says Lampinen. “In major transport companies with large fleets, implementation gives them an early opportunity to gain experience in this area. Meanwhile, we know that large transport buyers are interested in reducing their carbon footprints.” 

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New Electrified Jeep Wrangler 4xe Coming Soon to the U.S.

Jeep today introduced its new Wrangler 4xe (pronounced 4byE), a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) that will be equipped with a 17 kWh battery and will deliver up to 25 miles of fully electric driving and an estimated overall fuel efficiency of 50 MPGe (which is calculated by combining the electric and gasoline capabilities). The Wrangler 4xe will be available in three models: 4xe, Sahara 4xe and Rubicon 4xe. “Electric Blue” coloring is featured in the 4xe lineup, as illustrated by the tow hooks shown above.

Although the Wrangler 4xe isn’t fully electric, according to the Federal Highway Administration’s National Household Travel Study, all types of trips in the U.S. average less than the Wrangler’s 25 electric mile range. Many, in fact, average less than half of 25 miles, meaning that even a round-trip in the Wrangler 4xe can be achieved with little to no gasoline. And when drivers take advantage of workplace and convenience level 2 charging at retail locations, nearly all daily driving needs can be achieved solely with electricity.

Graph displaying average commute distances in the U.S.

Similar to some other electrified vehicles, drivers will be able to select various driving modes sothey can maximize the electric driving range. Specifically, drivers can select from the following powertrain modes:

  • Hybrid: The default mode blends torque from the 2.0-liter engine and electric motor. In this mode, the powertrain will use battery power first, then add in propulsion from the 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 when the battery reaches minimum state of charge. 
  • Electric: The powertrain operates on zero-emission electric power only until the battery reaches the minimum charge or the driver requests more torque (such as wide-open throttle), which engages the 2.0-liter engine.
  • eSave: Prioritizes propulsion from the 2.0-liter engine, saving the battery charge for later use, such as EV off-roading or urban areas where internal combustion propulsion is restricted. The driver can also choose between Battery Save and Battery Charge during eSave.

Regardless of the driving mode selected, the Wrangler 4xe operates as hybrid once the battery nears its minimum state of charge. Regenerative braking is a key part of the Wrangler 4xe eco-friendly equation. When the driver steps on the brake pedal, the powertrain control engages the maximum available regenerative braking, up to 0.25 g, from the electric motors to slow the vehicle, augmented with the Wrangler’s traditional friction brakes. The Wrangler 4xe also features the ability to maximize regenerative energy production via a driver-selectable Max Regen feature.

More electrified Jeeps are in the pipeline

The Wrangler 4xe will be sold globally, and it will be Jeep’s first plug-in vehicle offered in the United States. Because plug types vary by country, the Wrangler’s charging port tailored for each market. The U.S. edition will be J1772, which is commonly referred to as “Level 2.” The Wrangler 4xe follows the Renegade 4xe and Compass 4xe, both of which went on sale in Europe this summer, and the Grand Commander PHEV, which entered China last year. Jeep plans to offer electrified options on all of its nameplates over the next few years, and each will carry the 4xe badge.

Our Jeep 4xe vehicles will be the most efficient, responsible and capable that the brand has ever created. We are committed to make Jeep the greenest SUV brand. The electrification of the Jeep lineup will allow commuters to travel solely on electric power, delivering an efficient and fun on-road experience and offering an ability to enjoy even more Jeep capability off-road in nearly complete silence.

Christian Meunier, Global President of the Jeep Brand for FCA

All high-voltage electronics, including the wiring between the battery pack and the electric motors, are sealed and waterproof. As with all other Jeeps, the Wrangler 4xe is “Trail Rated” and possesses solid front and rear axles, full-time 4×4 two-speed transfer case, fully articulating suspension, and 30 inches of water fording capability. It will be available in Europe, China, and the U.S. by early 2021

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Electric Vehicles Save Consumers Time, Energy, and Money While Reducing Carbon Dioxide Emissions


This week the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) reported, based on a study from Argonne National Labs, that light-duty (i.e., passenger) plug-in electric vehicles last year saved Americans 44.8 trillion Btu, the equivalent of 470 million gallons of gasoline. Switching from gasoline to electricity also avoided 2.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution.

Probably of greater interest to consumers, EV drivers saved about $1.2 billion based on the $2.60/gallon nationwide average price of gasoline last year. And because a huge percentage of the nation’s EVs are in California, where gasoline averaged $3.72, actual savings were closer to $1.7 billion.

Graph showing energy savings due to plug-in electric vehicles, 2011-2019.
Source: Argonne National Laboratory, Assessment of Light-Duty Plug-In Electric Vehicles in the U.S., 2010–2019 (June 2020).

Benefits Expected to Improve Due to Longer All-Electric Ranges

These numbers are expected to improve in the years to come. The reason is that the electric driving range of the vehicles on the market during the past several years was, on average, lower than today’s electric driving range. And while vehicle performance is getting better, we’re also seeing more and more models gaining plug-in electric capabilities. This means that more vehicles will be able to drive at least a modest number of miles using electricity.

There will also be more fully electric vehicles on the road; even better, unlike during the study period when a fully electric vehicle’s range averaged less than 150 miles, today the base range is typically more than 200 miles and many vehicles offer ranges that exceed 300 miles. This is significant because, as shown in the table below, the Argonne report’s authors assumed lower-than-average annual driving for fully electric vehicles. Without that discount, the savings would have been even greater. As shown in the following table, once a vehicle’s electric driving range hits about 300 miles, it is assumed to be driven the same number of miles annually (about 13,500) as an internal combustion engine vehicle.

Assumed driving range for PHEVs and EVs, 2010-2019.

Of course EVs do need to fuel up, but using electricity to power a vehicle costs the equivalent of about $1/gallon, which is a big savings no matter where you are. Electric vehicles continue to save money because they require hardly any maintenance or servicing. And all that extra time saved from not going to the gas station and mechanic certainly has a value too.

Environmental Benefits: Good and Getting Better

Finally, driving with electricity is better for the environment because producing a kWh for driving creates less carbon dioxide (CO2) than using an equivalent amount of gasoline.

  • Internal combustion engines: The amount of tailpipe emissions from an internal combustion engine vehicle can be found by multiplying the miles driven by the number of grams of CO2 per gallon of gasoline (8,887) and dividing by the fuel economy (in miles per gallon, or mpg).
  • Electric vehicles: The emissions to drive an electric vehicle are found by multiplying the miles driven by the electricity consumption (in kWh per mile) by the emission rate. Deriving emissions from electricity isn’t as straightforward because the carbon content of electricity isn’t constant; rather, it is based on the fuel source (e.g., nuclear, coal, gas, wind, solar). According to the EPA, electricity production in the U.S. emitted an average of 430 grams of CO2 per kilowatt-hour in 2018.

Despite that variability in electricity, the benefits are overwhelming. A gasoline-powered vehicle consuming 30 mpg emits 300 g CO2 / mile, while a BEV consuming 0.33 kWh / mile in 2018 was responsible for 142 g CO2 / mile. The true savings is likely to be even greater, because so many EVs are charged in California and other states where electricity’s carbon intensity is lower than the national average,. Moreover, EV drivers are likely to have even cleaner energy due to home solar panels or through the voluntary purchase of clean energy from their utility.


All of the benefits described above are only getting better with time. While fully electric vehicles deliver the biggest benefits, even plug-in hybrids will also offer advantages such as electric driving for quick errands and stop-and-go traffic, both of which cause disproportionately more pollution per mile driven. Of course an important consideration for plug-in hybrids is whether drivers actually plug them in and enjoy the benefits, so public policy should strongly support home charging through efforts such as utility-funded outreach and education, as well as discounted or free chargers.

The bottom line is that the market is maturing, more manufacturers are offering plug-in options, and consumers are getting accustomed to driving electric. On the technology side, batteries are getting less expensive and becoming more efficient, which together will result in more miles of electric driving.

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High Expectations for Toyota’s Plug-In Electric RAV4 Prime

Electrified vehicles notched another milestone last month when, for the first time, sales of the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid outpaced sales of the less-expensive standard (and non-electrified) RAV4. The count was close, but consumers purchased 17,051 hybrids and 17,042 non-hybrids. This high level of interest bodes well for the new all-wheel-drive RAV4 Prime that is launching nationwide this summer.

The RAV4 Prime differs from the hybrid primarily because the Prime is a plug-in electric vehicle. The Prime’s $38,100 base MSRP is about $10,000 more than the standard RAV4, but the Prime is eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit and many states offer additional incentives.

The reason to be optimistic about the RAV4 Prime plug-in is that the RAV4 Hybrid is selling so well compared to the standard when the hybrid offers only marginal improvements. For example, the standard RAV4 has 203 hp and the hybrid has 219 hp, while the plug-in Prime has 302 hp. And the hybrid’s hwy/local/combined mileage of 41/38/40 is better than the standard’s 27/34/30, but neither come close to the plug-in Prime’s 94 miles per gallon equivalent.

Given the small price difference (after the federal tax credit and other incentives), performance and fuel savings make the Prime a virtual no-brainer. The 0-60 acceleration in 5.7 seconds makes the RAV4 Prime the quickest four-door model in the entire Toyota lineup. And while the mileage described above is outstanding by any measure, many drivers will hardly ever have to fill up the gas tank anyway because the Prime’s 18.1 kWh battery powers the vehicle for about 42 miles without using an ounce of gasoline. And there’s no need to worry about the battery, because it’s covered under a 10-year/150,000 mile warranty that is transferrable across ownership.

The RAV4 Prime is available in two trim lines, the SE and the XSE, both of which are AWD and can tow up to 2,500 lbs. Other than typical differences between versions such as infotainment systems, the SE is equipped with a 3.3 kW charger and the XSE has the option for a 6.6 kW charger. Both are the standard J1772 universal “Level 2” 240V connector, but the 3.3 kW (240V/16 amp) version charges at a rate of a little less than 10 miles in an hour while the 6.6 kW (240V/32 amp) version charges a bit faster than 15 miles in an hour. Both charge at the same speed of about 3.5 miles per hour when plugged in to a standard 120V (12 amp) outlet.

Unlike many other major automakers, Toyota remains focused on hybrids (plug-in as well as non-plug-in) as compared to fully electric vehicles. But if recent sales are an indication of future trends, the RAV4 Prime may accelerate the company’s electrification plans.

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Lucid Air, All-New EV, Coming Soon

Exterior view of Lucid Studio

Lucid Studios

Get ready to add Lucid to the list of options when you’re in the market for a new vehicle. Lucid Motors announced this week plans to open 20 retail locations, which the company calls “Lucid Studios,” as well as service centers throughout North America by the end of next year. The first batch of locations will be relatively small-footprint spaces in high-traffic areas in California, Florida, New York, and near Washington, DC.

While customers will have the option to design and purchase their vehicle fully or partially online, the studios offer a place “to start conversations and to help educate people about the performance and efficiency benchmarks possible in an electric vehicle,” said Peter Rawlinson, Lucid’s CEO and CTO. “A Lucid Studio is a place for people to learn about our unique brand while supporting every facet of the customer journey.”

Lucid is also Lucid is creating a digital experience to complement the purchase process and that will continue into ownership. The company will soon be launching a new website, which is expected to include configuration options that will enable prospective owners to customize their own car and view it from any angle in a variety of environments.

Image of Lucid Studio Digital Experience

About the Lucid Air

The company’s first production vehicle, the Lucid Air, will feature a driving range of more than 400 miles on a single charge and achieve 0-60 mph in less than 2.5 seconds. Contributing to this fuel efficiency and speed is the vehicle’s extreme aerodynamics. Lucid recently completed tests at Windshear’s advanced rolling-road wind tunnel, where engineers verified a coefficient of drag of 0.21; this makes the Lucid Air the world’s most aero-efficient luxury car. 

Image of Lucid Air aerodynamics test.

The Lucid aerodynamics team comprises leading technologists and analysts drawn from the worlds of automotive and motorsport, with four Formula One World Championships under their belt.

“Key to our development process was creating Lucid’s own meticulous aerodynamic design philosophy for electric vehicles honed from years of success in Formula One. We applied lessons learned from shaping the world’s highest performance racing machines as integral to the Lucid Air’s design process. It’s not just about achieving the lowest coefficient of drag, it’s also key to have a highly balanced performance vehicle with precisely managed airflow in all aspects.” 

Jean-Charles Monnet, Lead Aerodynamicist, Lucid Motors.

Production is expected to begin later this year in Arizona, and the vehicle will be officially revealed online on Sept. 9.

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Date Set for Cadillac Lyric EV Reveal

Cadillac announced the company’s fully electric Lyriq, a crossover, will be revealed (online) on August 6 at 7:00 PM (Eastern).

“Building on more than a century of innovation, the Cadillac LYRIQ marks the beginning of a new chapter for the brand – one that is all-electric and redefines the boundaries and limits of mobility and connectivity,” said Cadillac in a news release.

Parent company General Motors is also garnering attention for the upcoming GMC Hummer, which is being reincarnated as a fully electric SUV, and earlier this year announced a $2.2 billion investment at its Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant to produce a variety of fully electric trucks and SUVs.

Vehicles such as the Lyriq, that are built on General Motors’ third-generation EV platform, will be powered by the company’s proprietary Ultium batteries. These batteries are notable because they will contain zero cobalt and zero nickel cathodes, and are expected to achieve a driving range of at least 400 miles.

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Major Battery Announcement Expected from Tesla

Photo of Tesla PowerPack with solar panels in background.

Mark your calendar for September 15; according to a tweet by Elon Musk, that is the tentative date for Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting and “Battery Day,” which will include a tour of the company’s cell production system. Musk first described the battery event about a year ago as including “a comprehensive review of cell chemistry, module and pack, architecture, and manufacturing plan that has a clear roadmap to a terawatt-hour per year.”

One terawatt hour is one billion kWh of energy storage, and this capacity is about 30 times that of the company’s existing battery production. Assuming an average 100 kWh of storage per vehicle, a terawatt hour could supply 10 million EVs per year. Tesla batteries can also support stationary storage such as the Powerwall and Powerpack.

Below is a photo of Tesla’s second Gigafactory, a 1.2 million square-foot facility in Buffalo, New York, where the company produces solar cells and modules as well as electrical components for Superchargers and energy storage products.

Aerial photo of Tesla's second Gigafactory.

An increase in manufacturing capacity would be reason enough for a major announcement, but what else might Musk have up his sleeve? A decrease in cost would certainly attract a lot of attention by broadening the market for Teslas, but so too would the following:

  • Better energy density. This would allow for more energy storage per cell, resulting in a smaller and lighter-weight battery while providing the same distance. Alternatively, higher energy density would allow for greater driving range without increasing from today’s size.
  • Faster charging speeds. Faster charging would provide drivers with shorter stops on long road trips, and would also reduce queueing at popular charging stations.
  • More cycles. Battery life is measured in charge cycles. After a certain number of cycles, degradation can become noticeable. Given the near absence of critical parts in an EV that are susceptible to failure other than the battery, lengthening the life of batteries has a near 1:1 effect on the entire vehicle’s life. Longer vehicle life at top performance means better value up front and better residual value on resale (including a second life for the batteries as grid resources after a presumably long life in the vehicle).
Tesla Powerwall (photo courtesy of Tesla)

As discussed above, stationary storage already is a significant market. The Powerwall, for example, is a wall or floor mounted rechargeable lithium-ion battery designed for the residential market to enable self-consumption of solar power, emergency backup, time-based control and other grid service applications. It stores 13.5 kWh of usable power.

The Powerpack is intended for commercial and utility customers and provides from 200 kWh to more than 100 MWh of energy storage. Conceptually similar to the Powerwall, the Powerpack benefits utilities and customers alike through cost savings, reliability and resiliency. Examples of specific benefits include demand response, frequency response, backup power, storage for intermittent resources, load shifting, and potentially the ability to defer costly and time-consuming grid upgrades.

Given Musk’s successful track record and propensity for technological advances, the upcoming announcement could include any number of breakthroughs. Stay tuned for more updates as they become available.

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