Opel Announces Launch of Plug-In and Fully Electric Vehicles, With More to Follow

Photo of Opel Grandland X SUV.“Opel is going electric!” announced CEO Michael Lohscheller, as the company celebrates the release of two electrified vehicles in 2019, a plug-in hybrid Grandland X SUV (pictured above) and a fully electric Corsa.

The electric version of the best-selling Corsa “will make electro-mobility affordable for many customers, it will be a real electric car for the people,” said CEO Loscheller. The Grandland X plug-in hybrid brings electrification to a larger vehicle class and will deliver up to 300 hp along with “e-All Wheel Drive” technology.

As Opel enters its 120th year in auto manufacturing in 2019, Lohscheller emphasized that “We are putting maximum effort into the electrification of our portfolio.” Opel’s next step is to offer a fully electric midsize van, the Vivaro, in 2020, as well as a fully electric subcompact SUV, the Mokka.

Opel’s electrified vehicles are consistent with parent company PSA Group’s mandate that every new model come in a hybrid or all-electric version, and by 2025 every single model from the PSA Group family will have an electrified version (Opel plans to achieve this milestone by 2024). As evidence of the company’s commitment to this aggressive goal, the company will launch fifteen new electrified vehicles in the next two years.

For more information about electric vehicles and electric vehicle charging, please contact me via my website or LinkedIn. I also invite you to subscribe to receive future posts via email, view my other posts, and follow me on Twitter.

Predicting EV “Tsunami,” Volvo Invests in Mobile Electric Vehicle Charging Company FreeWire

Photo of Volvo vehicles with Freewire charging.Volvo announced this week an investment in FreeWire Technologies, a company specializing in mobile electric vehicle (EV) charging units. Other investors in FreeWire’s $15 million Series A include the integrated energy giant BP, manufacturing powerhouse Stanley Black & Decker, and the United Kingdom’s Innovate UK.

FreeWire was founded about five years ago by Arcady Sosinov, who was born just outside of Chernobyl in the year of the nuclear catastrophe. His family emigrated to the U.S. when Arcady was young, but the life-altering experience of growing up in a disaster zone influenced his decision to pursue a career in cleantech. Arcady identified electric vehicle charging infrastructure as a pain point, and today the goal of minimizing EV charging infrastructure guides his company’s direction.

 

The move into charging makes sense for Volvo, which is aggressively embracing transportation electrification.

“Volvo Cars’ future is electric, as reflected by our industry-leading commitment to electrify our entire product range,” said Zaki Fasihuddin, CEO of the Volvo Cars Tech Fund. “To support wider consumer adoption of electric cars, society needs to make charging an electric car as simple as filling up your tank. Our investment in FreeWire is a firm endorsement of the company’s ambitions in this area.”

Earlier this year Volvo committed that every new car launched from 2019 will be electrified, with plans for half of all sales by 2025 to be fully electric. Describing itself as “a human-centric car company,” Volvo’s Fasihuddin explains that one of the company’s goals is to make customers’ lives easier. This explains the fit with FreeWire, which offers mobile “infrastructure light” chargers that can be installed quickly without major construction, along with portable batteries that the company is marketing to workplaces and multifamily communities that lack electrical infrastructure. Lastly, FreeWire can deliver truck-based mobile batteries that pull up to an EV and provide a charge wherever the customer’s vehicle happens to be.

To deliver on its promise to investors, FreeWire has entered into partnerships with contract manufacturers here in the U.S. as it lays the groundwork for scaling up manufacturing capabilities from dozens of systems to hundreds. Within about a year, says founder and CEO Sosinov, FreeWire expects to have a full production line shipping hundreds of units per month to customers around the world. To get to that point, the company has hired staff including a COO and VP of Operations to bulk up its supply chain expertise, documentation, and testing to maintain consistency and reliability.

Volvo’s electrification strategy does not envision direct ownership of charging or service stations, but the investment in FreeWire reinforces the company’s overall commitment to supporting a widespread transition to electric mobility together with other partners.

In an interview with Automotive News Europe about EVs and EV charging, Volvo’s Fasihuddin said “There are so many issues to think about and we want to get out ahead of that because we think there is a tsunami coming. And we’re part of creating that.”

For more information about electric vehicles and electric vehicle charging, please contact me via my website or LinkedIn. I also invite you to subscribe to receive future posts via email, view my other posts, and follow me on Twitter.

 

Uber to Help Drivers Save Up for Electric Vehicles

Photo of Uber at an electric vehicle charging station.

Uber announced this week that the company will help drivers in London convert to cleaner transportation by raising $260 million toward electric vehicle purchases. Many drivers shy away from EVs today because EV sticker prices are higher than for internal combustion engines, and purchase decisions are determined in large part based on the monthly payment rather than the lifetime total cost of ownership.

By transitioning to electric vehicles, drivers will benefit from a lower total cost of ownership and the public will benefit from reduced tailpipe pollution, so Uber’s efforts to help buy down the monthly payments will bring both financial and environmental benefits.

London was targeted because the city plans to have only EVs on the road by 2025. To raise the capital to ease Uber drivers’ transitions, passengers in that market will pay a slightly higher fee per mile to help Uber drivers save up. One hundred percent of the fees will be put into an individual savings account for the driver who earned the revenue. Drivers will have no minimum commitment to using the EV for Uber driving, and if a driver leaves Uber before withdrawing the funds the money will be spent on other clean air initiatives said Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.

For more information about electric vehicles and electric vehicle charging, please contact me via my website or LinkedIn. I also invite you to subscribe to receive future posts via email, view my other posts, and follow me on Twitter.

Electric Vehicles Create Opportunity for Parts Manufacturers

As plug-in electric vehicles begin to steal marketshare from internal combustion engines, what’s an engine block and cylinder head maker to do? Nemak, the giant global manufacturer of complex metal automotive components, is applying its expertise to specialized parts such as battery trays and electric motor housings that are critical to both passenger safety and battery performance in hybrid and electric vehicles.

Minimizing weight is particularly significant for plug-in vehicles, and Nemak has already sold more than 3 million parts in this category resulting in annual revenue of approximately $400 million, or 10 percent of the company’s business. Not only are more cars requiring lightweight parts, but electric vehicles also present a bigger opportunity on a per-vehicle basis than traditional vehicles:

Because of this new business opportunity, “we decided to create an organization focused exclusively on driving execution and growth in [lightweight components and electric vehicles] — in addition to successfully ramping up production of these components, we are already seeing its contributions materialize in the form of cutting-edge innovations linked to vehicle lightweighting and electrification, primarily in battery, body-in-white, and chassis and suspension applications,” said Armando Tamez, Nemak´s CEO.

At its current pace, the company expects by 2020 that it will have a 20 percent share of the total U.S. and European market for battery housings for plug-in hybrid vehicles with annual sales of $1 billion by 2022 as more vehicles globally transition to electricity.

For more information about electric vehicles and electric vehicle charging, please contact me via my website or LinkedIn. I also invite you to subscribe to receive future posts via email, view my other posts, and follow me on Twitter.

PSA Group to Launch Hybrid and Electric Vehicles

 

Another global automaker joins the electric vehicle ranks; starting next year, every new model from PSA Group will come in a hybrid or all-electric version, and by 2025 every single model will have an electrified version. In announcing this move, PSA Group cites forecasts which call for the electrified market to expand by 9x in the U.S., 13x in Europe, and 8x in China by 2025.

Showcasing the company’s commitment to electric mobility, PSA Group’s Peugeot recently unveiled the fully electric and autonomous e-Legend concept vehicle that is anticipated to have a range of more than 350 miles (featured in above video).

The company, which earlier this year established a Low Emission Vehicles Business Unit to focus on electrification, has defined the following “innovation triptych” to guide its strategy:

  • Innovating to meet customer expectations to meet the needs of the greatest number of people and develop original vehicle features.
  • Innovating to limit environmental impact by reducing the CO2 and pollutant emissions of vehicles, and by limiting the environmental impact of the materials used to build them.
  • Innovating to offer more attractive products, in terms of quality, longevity, value-added services such as connectivity and autonomy, and the driving experience.

Plug-in hybrids, which carry battery packs for all-electric driving accompanied by a backup internal combustion engine for longer journeys, are a big part of PSA Group’s strategy. According to Olivier Salvat, who leads the company’s plug-in hybrid electric vehicle group, “Fifty percent of journeys in Europe cover less than [10 miles]. Plug-in hybrid is an optimal solution for everyday electric driving for short journeys, with the internal combustion engine providing power for longer drives.” From a macro perspective, the company estimates that tailpipe pollutants can be cut in half with a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle charging only once a day as compared to a traditional internal combustion engine.

Graphic of PSA Group's electric vehicle platform.

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Audi Unveils All-Electric e-tron SUV and Innovative Charging Experience

Introducing the e-tron

Photo of the world premiere of the Audi e-tron electric vehicle.Audi this week joined the expanding electric vehicle market in a big way, unveiling the all-electric e-tron SUV. The 5-seater e-tron comes equipped with a 95 kWh battery, is expected to provide approximately 300 miles of range on a single charge, and will be built in a carbon-neutral facility in Brussels. With a top speed of 124 mph and 0-60 in 5.5 seconds, the e-tron will be a force to be reckoned with.

Extreme Fast Charging

A big distinction for the e-tron is that it can charge at a rate of 150 kW using a CCS DC fast charger. This is faster than the 120 kW that Tesla peaks at today, and three times faster than the 50 kW maximum rate of charge for most other fully electric vehicles on the road today. Assuming an average of 3.25 miles of driving per kWh of energy, the e-tron can receive an 80% charge in 30 minutes. (A charger providing 150 kW of energy for 60 minutes will deliver 150 kWh; in 30 minutes the charger will deliver half that, or 75 kWh; 75 kWh x 3.25 miles per kWh = 243 miles in 30 minutes.)

Although very few CCS chargers are today capable of providing power at 150 kW, this will be changing as Electrify America invests $2 billion to create a nationwide network of highway and community ultra-fast DC fast chargers. In addition to Electrify America, a wide range of companies from established electric utilities to start-up entrepreneurs are racing to deploy infrastructure across the country.

New Generation Quattro Drive

The e-tron’s electric drivetrain’s inherent instant torque and high speeds are well suited to Audi’s legacy of quattro drive, and indeed electric drive brings quattro to a new level. The quattro all-wheel drive system, which is standard on the e-tron, enables the vehicle to achieve optimum traction in a variety of weather conditions and on challenging road surfaces.

Innovative Braking Increases Vehicle Range

Audi engineers estimate that, on average, the e-tron’s regenerative braking system will contribute as much as 30 percent of the vehicle’s range depending on the conditions, terrain and driving style. The e-tron recovers energy in two ways: by means of coasting recuperation when the driver releases the accelerator, or from the driver actively pressing the brake pedal. When set to the most aggressive mode, regenerative braking will displace manual braking in up to as many as 9 out of 10 situations and enable the driver to control the vehicle solely with the accelerator.

Placemaking

Audi’s future EV charging station is the epitome of placemaking, a retail strategy of boosting foot traffic at a destination by making it compelling and creating reasons for shoppers to visit. Describing a temporary prototype charging station constructed this month in San Francisco (shown below), Loren Angelo, VP of Marketing at Audi of America, explained, “The heart of the experience is a modern take on what a charging station could look like in the near future – a place where drivers of electric vehicles can refuel themselves while their vehicle recharges.”

Photo of Audi's experiential electric vehicle charging station.The company perhaps is envisioning a future where Audi infrastructure complements the Audi brand experientially, rather than today’s model of installing chargers in parking lots of other retailers. Audi need not look far for inspiration for retail innovation; just a few miles from its U.S. headquarters in Fairfax County, Virginia, is finance giant Capital One, which is reinventing neighborhood banking with its modern and vibrant Capital One Cafes (themselves often located within a block of Apple or Tesla stores).

Photo of Capital One Cafe.Capital One’s innovative placemaking experiences, which will never be confused with a traditional bank branch, leverage the time customers may spend charging by offering them value in the form of food and drink, as well as a relaxing environment to spend a few minutes and unwind, do some work, or socialize.

Pricing and Delivery

The e-tron will be priced from $74,800 and is expected to be available in America during the second quarter of 2019. Audi is producing 999 limited “First Edition” models for the U.S. market. These first editions will be priced at $86,700, and will include features such as 21-inch bi-color black wheels and orange brake calipers to complement the e-tron nameplate lettering near the charging port; the interior will feature black leather with gray contrast stitching as well as natural wood inlays. Reservations require fully refundable $1000 deposits and are now being accepted. The e-tron is the first of more than 20 models Audi plans to introduce by 2025; some will be plug-in hybrids, and half will be fully electric.

For More Information

For more information about the e-tron and electric vehicle charging, as well as many other electric vehicle and clean transportation opportunities, please contact me via my website or LinkedIn. I also invite you to subscribe to receive future posts via email, view my other posts, and follow me on Twitter.

Audi’s 300+ Mile All-Electric e-tron SUV With Supercharging Coming Soon

Photo of Veiled Audi e-tronRipping a page from Tesla’s playbook, Audi this week announced that, starting this fall, customers will be able to place refundable $1,000 deposits for the company’s brand new, and first all-electric, 5-passenger SUV: the e-tron.

Until the new vehicle makes its global debut in San Francisco on September 17, though, customers will have to wait for details. In the meantime, Audi of America president Scott Keogh is setting expectations high, saying “We’re introducing a premium, customer-centric vehicle in a premium, customer-centric way.”

The e-tron is expected to be delivered to showrooms in the first part of 2019. With nearly 30 percent of its customers in the U.S. anticipated to go electric by 2025, the e-tron will be the first of three battery-electric vehicles that Audi plans to debut by 2020.Photo of Audi e-tron prototype.The all wheel drive e-tron is expected to carry a 95 kWh battery; assuming 3.5 miles per kWh, drivers should reasonably expect well more than 300 miles of range on a single charge.

And when drivers do need to charge away from home, the e-tron will fill up at a rate of up to 150 kW using CCS-format DC fast chargers. This translates into an 80% charge, or more than 250 miles, (from empty) in about 30 minutes.

What does it mean to charge at 150 kW? A kW is a measure of energy used in a given instant, while a kWh is a quantity of electricity consumed or stored. Using a car analogy, you can think of kW as your speed, and kWh as your distance traveled. And for a sense of magnitude, a typical LED bulb consumes less than 10 watts, while 150 kW is 150,000 watts.

Filling at a rate of 150 kW means that the e-tron can take on 150 kWh per hour, assuming maximum flow. (DC fast chargers do slow when the battery’s state of charge exceeds 80%, so automakers try to achieve 80% as quickly as possible; a typical metric is 30 minutes.) To charge a battery that can store 95 kWh to 80% from empty, the charger must deliver 76 kWh (80% of 95 kWh). Doing so in 30 minutes requires an hourly rate of 152 kW (76 kWh per half hour and 152 kWh per hour).

Other than Tesla’s proprietary network, nearly every DC fast charger in America today tops out at 50 kW, though Electrify America’s intercity corridor network will be built with 150 kW chargers. As vehicle capacities increase, today’s stock of DC fast chargers will have to be replaced with more powerful units. Fortunately, much of the cost of installing DC fast chargers is the initial construction; upgrade costs are certainly not insignificant, but these should be greatly reduced if the original construction contemplated eventual improvements.

For more information about the issues discussed above, as well as many other electric vehicle and clean transportation opportunities, please contact me via my website or LinkedIn. I also invite you to subscribe to receive future posts via email, view my other posts, and follow me on Twitter.

GM’s Electric Lineup Grows With Buick Enspire Concept, Velite 6 PHEV and EV

Photo of Buick Enspire all-electric concept SUV.General Motors continues to expand its lineup of electrified vehicles, introducing at this year’s Beijing auto show a fully electric SUV concept from Buick called Enspire (above) and a plug-in hybrid electric version of the Buick Velite 6. The company reports that a fully electric Velite 6 will be introduced at a later date.

While there are no announced plans to bring either the Velite PHEV or EV to the U.S., GM is clearly ready to meet increased demand when in develops. The Velite and Enspire are part of GM’s commitment to roll out at least 20 new all-electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles globally by 2023. Following GM’s announcement last fall of its zero emission future, GM’s Mark Reuss, executive vice president of global product development, purchasing, and supply chain, said:

General Motors believes the future is all-electric. A world free of automotive emissions. These aren’t just words in a war of press releases. We are far along in our plan to lead the way to that future world.

China, the location of the Velite and Enspire introductions, is clearly a ripe market for GM’s electric ambitions. EV sales in China last year jumped 53 percent, to a total of more than 750,000 units, or 2.7 percent of total vehicle sales. Here in the U.S., by comparison, sales totaled not even 200,000, or about 1.2 percent of the market (with California accounting for fully half of all sales). That said, sales are expected to increase dramatically in other parts of the country, particularly the so-called “Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Mandate” states, where more than 3 million zero emission vehicles will have to be sold by 2025 for automakers to avoid significant penalties for non-compliance. ZEV Mandate states include Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Enspire SUV Concept

Buick’s Enspire SUV concept is sure to attract a lot of attention as the market for electric vehicles expands beyond the sedan market. Able to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in four seconds, the fully electric Enspire will be able to travel up to 370 miles on a single charge and be recharged to 80 percent within 40 minutes.

Buick Enspire EV SUV Concept.

With regard to the interior, a “surround skyline” theme and suspended theater-type seating give the Enspire a bright and spacious interior.

Buick Enspire all-electric concept SUV seats.Simple yet elegant colors and exquisite craftsmanship combine with ambient lighting to wrap users in a premium environment. The center console and armrests feature natural wood grain and microfiber suede. The Enspire has an array of cutting-edge connectivity technologies that include an OLED display screen and an intelligent augmented reality technology-based head-up display system. It also adopts the 5G super-high-speed network concept.

Velite 6 PHEV and EV

The Velite 6 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle’s propulsion system is composed of an electronically controlled variable transmission, two AC permanent-magnet synchronous motors with a high-performance lithium-ion battery, and a 1.5L naturally aspirated engine especially tuned for hybrid vehicles.

Photo of Buick Velite 6 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.To enhance the battery’s life cycle and provide stable performance, GM is using a new-generation modular high-performance ternary lithium-ion battery pack whose liquid cooling heat management technology provides independent and uniform temperature control. The batteries will be assembled at the new SAIC-GM Power Battery Development Center in Shanghai.

Image of Buick Velite battery.Technology

In addition to cutting-edge powertrain technology, the Velite 6 also enables drivers’ smartphones to serve as a virtual key to enter and start the vehicle. In a move that provides convenience not only among family and friends, but also car sharing more broadly, GM’s technology also lets vehicle owners use their phones to authorize others to use the vehicle through their phones. According to the company, additional functions and new features will continuously be added to improve the user experience.

Buick Velite 6 all-electric concept SUV center control screen display.For more information about the issues discussed above, as well as many other electric vehicle and clean transportation opportunities, please contact me via my website or LinkedIn. I also invite you to subscribe to receive future posts via email, view my other posts, and follow me on Twitter.

 

Jaguar Land Rover Cites Vehicle Electrification in Appointing New Executive

Photo of plug-in electric Land Rover.

Citing vehicle electrification, Jaguar Land Rover named Grant McPherson as Executive Director of Manufacturing and a member of the company’s Board of Management. McPherson will oversee more than 20,000 people and will report to Ralf Speth, the company’s CEO.

In addition to responsibility for the company’s UK and global manufacturing operations and logistics teams, McPherson will be responsible for “transforming [the company’s] plants to enable Jaguar Land Rover’s exciting electrified future.”

Starting in 2020, all new Jaguar Land Rovers will be electrified, which means a mix of fully electric, plug-in hybrid, and mild hybrid vehicles.

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Bentley Encourages Drivers to Plug-In and Maximize Electric Benefits by Bringing Style to EV Charging

Photo of Bentley Bentayga Plug-In Hybrid with home charging station concept by Philipe Starck.

Teaming up with world-renowned artist Philippe Starck, Bentley has unveiled conceptual images of a home charging station for the Bentayga plug-in hybrid. Designed to keep charging cables neat and safe at home while blending sophistication with utility, the “Bentley by Starck Power Dock” is intended to encourage Bentayga Hybrid customers to ensure each journey begins with the maximum electric-only range by not missing an opportunity to plug in.

While not difficult, plugging in a vehicle is hardly what most people would consider stimulating or glamorous. And while drivers of fully-electric vehicles need no coaxing to plug in their vehicles, charging is optional for plug-in hybrids. But if customers forgo charging, they will be missing a great benefit of electrified transportation. Bentley and Starck recognize that making the task of charging enjoyable and rewarding will enhance the overall experience of driving an electric vehicle.

“As always with my designs I wanted the maximum of intelligence with the minimum of materiality. I wanted it to be a modern art piece: durable, real and avant-garde high tech. It was also important for me that the unit was as sustainable as possible,” explained Starck. In addition to Starck’s home charging station, Bentley equips each Bentayga with bespoke bags containing charging cords for use when away from home.

Starck, who happens to be a Bentley customer, describes his connection with the vehicles not as about design or horsepower, but as “a mental and sentimental relationship.” It is just this sort of emotion that draws many customers to electric vehicles today. Extending this aura to charging will increase the likelihood that customers will take an extra few seconds to plug in their vehicles and maximize the opportunity to drive with zero tailpipe emissions.

Bentayga Highlights

The plug-in hybrid Bentayga, which will be available for ordering in select markets in the second half of 2018, will have an all-electric range of about 31 miles. Level 2 charging will take 2.5 hours (from fully empty), while charging on a household outlet will take about 7.5 hours.

To maximize fuel efficiency (whether electric or gasoline), the vehicle uses satellite navigation information to determine when and where to use the battery-powered electric motor versus the internal combustion engine. When the driver programs in the trip’s destination, the navigation system will dynamically calculate the most efficient route and use of gas and electricity, with the goal of maximizing electricity. For example, if the vehicle determines that the beginning of a journey will be on the highway but the end will be on local or urban roads (whose slower speeds and denser development are well-suited for electric drive), the computer will reserve battery energy for the end. In every case, the system is designed to maximize overall efficiency by reducing on-board charge to zero just as the vehicle reaches its destination.

 

For more information about the issues discussed above, as well as many other electric vehicle and clean transportation opportunities, please contact me via my website or LinkedIn. I also invite you to subscribe to receive future posts via email, view my other posts, and follow me on Twitter.