Vehicle To Grid (V2G) Technology Achieves Milestone Toward Commercialization

Vehicle to Grid (V2G) technology offers what might be characterized as the holy grail for electric vehicles, and the future got a lot closer on March 12 with the news that a bidirectional EV charging system by Fermata Energy was the first such system in the world to earn the UL 9741 safety standard. UL 9741 features the ability to prevent the discharge of energy when a connected device is not capable of safely receiving backfed power and is a critical milestone toward commercial deployment of V2G.

According to Francisco Martinez, business development director of UL’s Energy Systems and eMobility division, “UL’s role in making the most of the stored energy in electric vehicles is to help ensure that this happens safely,” said Martinez.

Photo of Nissan Leaf plugged in to Fermata Energy V2G

The ability of electric vehicles to discharge energy holds great potential because the vehicles tend to have large batteries with more energy than drivers typically need on any given day; moreover, as with most noncommercial passenger vehicles, EVs are are parked an average of 95% of the hours in a year. The combination of having excess energy and being available a large percentage of time results in benefits that will accrue to:

  • The grid, which can use energy from EV batteries to displace higher cost and potentially dirtier energy from power plants when demand for energy is high; and
  • EV owners, who can monetize the energy as it is dispensed (assuming the energy was purchased and stored at a lower cost).

All indications are that V2G is going to introduce significant new resources to the grid. According to comments this week in Berlin by Volkswagen’s chief strategist Michael Jost:

By 2025 [Volkswagen] will have 350 gigawatt hours worth of energy storage at our disposal through our electric car fleet. Between 2025 and 2030 this will grow to 1 terawatt hours worth of storage. That’s more energy than is currently generated by all the hydroelectric power stations in the world. We can guarantee that energy will be used and stored and this will be a new area of business.

Even today’s relatively small number of EVs is providing hundreds of millions of dollars in net revenue to utilities, according to a recent report by Synapse Energy Economics and as illustrated in the following table from the Synapse report:

Table showing net benefits EVs deliver through V2G technology
Total costs and contributions of incremental EV load, 2019-2030.

As vehicles begin to not only consume energy (providing revenues to the system) but also provide value by sending energy back to the grid, the financial and environmental benefits to EV owners, utilities, and all other utility customers will multiply.

“By unlocking the full potential of electric vehicles, Fermata Energy is helping to accelerate the shift to more electric vehicle usage,” said David Slutzky, CEO and founder of Fermata Energy. “We believe bidirectional energy solutions such as Fermata Energy’s V2G system will play an important role in reducing energy costs, improving grid resilience and combating climate change. We’re excited to be the first company to receive UL 9741 certification and look forward to partnering with other organizations to advance V2G applications.”

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Multi-Billion Dollar Battery Investment Signals Big EV Future

Image of General Motors battery assembly line

General Motors and LG Chem announced today they will invest $2.3 billion to set up an electric vehicle (EV) battery cell joint venture plant in Ohio, creating one of the world’s largest battery facilities. The plant, to be built at a new site near GM’s closed assembly plant in Lordstown in northeast Ohio, will employ more than 1,100 people and have an annual capacity of more than 30 gigawatt hours with the flexibility to expand.

GM Chief Executive Mary Barra said the investment in the Ohio battery plant will accelerate the automaker’s initiative to introduce 20 new EVs globally by 2023. “General Motors believes in the science of global warming and believes in an all-electric future,” she said.

Barra added that the new battery cells will be used in a new GM electric pickup which will start production in fall 2021 at the company’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant.

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Shop Class Reinvented for Electric Vehicle Era

Image of teacher and student in front of VW Cabriolet being converted to electric power.
Ron Grosinger and one of his students, Isamara Lozano, pose in front of electric-powered 1990 Volkswagen Cabriolet.

As technology and STEM-focused curricula become ever more important, high school automotive shop classes have been suffering dwindling interest from teachers and students alike. Enter Ronald Grosinger, of Memorial High School in New Jersey, who figured out how to reposition the vocationally oriented course to appeal to a broader audience and prepare students for a wide range of career paths. “If you’re teaching students about gasoline cars, that’s basically the equivalent of 8-track players,” says Grosinger.

Grosinger persuaded his school to purchase a 1990 Volkswagen Cabriolet so that his class could remove the internal combustion engine, install batteries, and rebuild the vehicle to be powered by electricity.

Photo of Volkswagen Cabriolet converted to electric power.

Over time, the students learned how to produce the various mechanical parts in cardboard, then wood, then steel. They welded parts, tackled wiring and learned to solve problems as they arose. Within a year, the student makeup of the class had expanded to include advanced math, science, physics and engineering students. Also, there were many more female students.

The curriculum has evolved over the past ten years, and now is structured around what Grosinger calls the Four Cornerstones of Engineering: Electrical, Fabrication, Design, and Mechanical.

Photo of chalk board containing electrical engineering drawings.

The department has expanded to four teachers, the school added an after-school automotive program, and several of Grosinger’s students have gone on to work in the automotive field. “Teachers should encourage students to explore new and more efficient ways to move a person from point A to point B, whether that system is a train with solar panels on it, a car with an electric motor in it or retrofitting an existing technology with a different energy source,” says Grosinger. “And don’t come up with the solutions for the students.”

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Porsche Introduces Fully Electric Taycan; Sets New Standard for Driving and Charging Performance

“This day marks the start of a new era.”

With those words Oliver Blume, the Chairman of Porsche, today unveiled the eagerly awaited Taycan, a “100% electric, 100% Porsche.” The Taycan Turbo S and the Taycan Turbo will be the first in a new series of vehicles that are part of a massive transformation taking place at the iconic automaker. By 2022, the company will have invested more than six billion euros in e-mobility. Despite this apparent paradigm shift, Porsche is by no means deviating from its esteemed heritage.

We promised a true Porsche for the age of electromobility – a fascinating sports car that not only excites in terms of its technology and driving dynamics, but also sparks a passion in people all over the world, just like its legendary predecessors have done. Now we are delivering on this promise.

Michael Steiner, Porsche’s Executive Board Member for Research & Development

Performance

Photo of Porsche Taycan Turbo S
Photography: Christoph Bauer Postproduction: Wagnerchic – www.wagnerchic.com

The flagship Turbo S version of the Taycan can produce up to 560 kW (750 hp) of overboost power with “Launch Control” enabled, while the Taycan Turbo produces up to 500 kW of power (670 hp).

Acceleration for the Turbo S is zero to 60 mph in 2.7 seconds, while the Taycan Turbo completes this sprint in 3.1 seconds. The top speed of both all-wheel-drive models is 162 miles per hour.

Range is superior as well: The Turbo S has a range of up to 256 miles, and the Turbo a range of up to 280 miles. The Performance Battery Plus is capable of storing 93.4 kWh of energy.

Charging

The Taycan is the first production vehicle with a system voltage of 800 volts instead of the usual 400 volts for electric vehicles. Higher voltage allows for lighter wiring; lighter wiring permits design flexibility, results in lighter vehicle weight, and enables higher charging speeds. This last point is a particular advantage when needing to charge up during long distance drives. The 800V system is capable of charging at a rate of up to 270 kW, which can provide 60 miles of range in about five minutes.

Charging an EV is similar to filling a container of water; the emptier it is, the faster you can fill it. This means that a charger will output the maximum amount of energy for the longest period of time when the battery is nearly depleted. When the battery is nearly full, on the other hand, a charger will dispense energy more slowly.

To take full advantage of the Taycan’s charging capabilities, then, a driver would strive to begin charging at a low state of charge (SOC). The charging time for 5 percent to 80 percent SOC with a maximum charge rate of 270 kW under ideal conditions is a mere 22.5 minutes. By comparison, a 50 kW charger would take about an hour and a half.

Image of 2020 Porsche Taycan charging port

The Taycan will come with the CCS DC Fast Charger port. This is not compatible with Tesla or CHAdeMO chargers, but most charging station developers other than Tesla, such as EVgo and Electrify America (a related company under the Volkswagen corporate umbrella), are deploying chargers capable of 150 kW and 350 kW.

At the moment, most DC fast chargers in the U.S. (other than Tesla) are only 50 kW, but the Taycan is backward-compatible, meaning it can use the legacy CCS chargers but will be able to draw only the amount of power the chargers are capable of dispensing.

For home charging, the Taycan can fill up at a rate of 30 miles per hour (for the Turbo S) and 33 miles per hour for the Turbo (which gets slightly better mileage than the Turbo S) using an 11 kW Level 2 charger on a 60 Amp breaker. Charging at that rate from 0% to 100% would take a little less than 8.5 hours.

Design

According to Michael Mauer, Head of Style Porsche, the company at first considered an SUV as its first fully electric vehicle, but ultimately decided that taking the first step with a sports car would make a clear statement “that this is the dawn of the new, purely electric era.”

Electric vehicles are typically higher than their gasoline counterparts due to battery placement, so sports car engineers must find a way to store the batteries while providing a comfortable seating position for passengers while maintaining the lowest possible center of gravity. Porsche’s solution is what Maurer refers to as his greatest challenge is “foot garages,” which are created by arranging the batteries in a staggered stair-step position.

Graphic showing chassis and electrical system of Porsche 2020 Taycan

Dispensing with a large internal combustion engine under the hood also allowed engineers to employ a look reminiscent of the iconic 911.

Photo of Porsche Taycan
Photography: Christoph Bauer Postproduction: Wagnerchic – www.wagnerchic.com
Photo of Porsche Taycan
Photography: Christoph Bauer Postproduction: Wagnerchic – www.wagnerchic.com

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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.”

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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.

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.

 

Are Smart Dealers Making a Wise Decision? Dealers Drop Out As Ohio Proves EVs Sell and Daimler Launches Radical Concept

Photo of Autonomous concept car smart vision EQ fortwoJust weeks after more than two-thirds of Smart’s U.S. dealerships elected to stop selling the small vehicle following news that the brand would be shifting to all-electric, the next-generation “Smart vision EQ fortwo” concept vehicle has been introduced. The most prominent feature of the Smart concept is what isn’t there: no steering wheel or pedals.

Photo of interior of Smart concept vision EQ fortwo.Smart Vision

Designed to showcase a new vision of urban mobility, the concept vehicle expands on parent company Daimler’s long range “EQ” plan and offers a glimpse into what Daimler has in mind for the future, which includes ten electric vehicles scheduled to launch by 2022. (Smart is a division of Daimler AG and is distributed in the U.S. by Mercedes-Benz USA.)

Smart’s concept is a shared autonomous electric vehicle that will pick up passengers directly from their designated location. And don’t worry about getting into the wrong car, as so many of us have with Uber and Lyft (even with real drivers at the wheel!). Daimler’s future autonomous vehicles will solve that problem with a message board displaying the name and photo of the next passenger on the front of the vehicle:

Photo of message board on front of Smart concept vision EQ fortwo.“The Smart vision EQ fortwo is our vision of future urban mobility; it is the most radical car sharing concept car of all: fully autonomous, with maximum communication capabilities, friendly, comprehensively personalizable and, of course, electric,” says Smart CEO Annette Winkler. “With the Smart vision EQ fortwo, we are giving a face to the themes with which Mercedes-Benz Cars describes the vision of future mobility within the CASE strategy.”

CASE stands for Connected, Autonomous, Shared, and Electric, and this strategy is a significant undertaking at Daimler. As described by Chairman of the Board Dieter Zetsche, “each of [the CASE features] has the power to turn our entire industry upside down. But the true revolution is in combining them in a comprehensive, seamless package.”

Smart Strategy

Most of the 27 remaining Smart dealerships are in states with zero-emission vehicle requirements, and a cynic would conclude that EVs can’t make it without a regulatory requirement or heavy subsidies. But that’s not true, as evidenced by Germain Motor Group’s decision to continue selling electric Smarts in Columbus, Ohio, a state with no zero emission vehicle (ZEV) requirement. Unusually high demand for electric vehicles in Columbus appears to be driven by a coordinated emphasis of the benefits of decarbonizing transportation and an effort to mitigate obstacles to charging and driving electric vehicles.

This is all happening because Columbus, the winner of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge, is launching the Smart Columbus Electrification Plan. “Columbus has established itself as a leader in electrification with its ‘Smart Columbus’ initiative,” Germain COO John Malishenko wrote in an email reported by Automotive News. “It’s well funded and focused on making Columbus a leader in alternative transportation solutions, so for that reason, we’ve decided to stay put.”

The fact that sales in Columbus remain at a level high enough to warrant keeping the dealership open in the absence of a regulatory mandate demonstrates that a concerted effort to shift behavior can cause meaningful change for the better. Only time will tell whether the 58 departing dealers should have stayed Smart.

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