What Happens When Cities Ignore Electric Vehicles

Photo of electric vehicle charging curbside over sidewalk and through window.

Electric vehicles need places to charge, including on-street parking when garages are not available. In the absence of solutions, drivers who are dedicated to e-mobility are taking things into their own hands.

The Mitsubishi Outlander pictured below is a plug-in hybrid, meaning plugging in is optional; but to forgo plugging in would mean relying on gasoline instead of electricity. This rather drastic charging arrangement shows the lengths to which drivers will go to maximize their vehicles’ electric capabilities.

The result of such efforts is effective for the driver in the short-term but not for passers-by, and is hardly scalable. This problem of no on-street charging must be solved.

Contact me to discuss how to bring on-street charging and cleaner air to your community.

Electric Vehicles: Something for Everyone!

With more than 100 electrified models scheduled to hit showroom floors soon, you will have plenty of options from which to choose. What’s stopping you?

  • Dollars: EVs have a considerably lower total cost of ownership; electricity is equivalent to $1/gallon gasoline, and you will never have another oil change.
  • Charging: Chargers are turning up at more and more retail, workplace, multifamily, and other convenient public locations, as well as between cities for longer journeys.
  • Range: Most new fully electric vehicles can drive 250 miles or more on a single charge, and charging speeds are increasing.

And what about plain old fun? Watch the video above from Audi, and then contact me to learn about how transportation electrification can transform your community.

All-Electric Nissan Leaf Hits 400,000 Units Globally, Sets EV Sales Record

Illustration of Nissan Leaf EV hitting 400,000 in sales.

The Nissan Leaf today became the first electric car in history to surpass 400,000 worldwide sales. Introduced in 2010 as the world’s first mass-market electric vehicle, the Leaf has now covered more than 6 billion miles, saving nearly 4 million gallons of oil per year. And this is just the beginning: Available in 50 markets globally, the Leaf is expanding to six new markets in Latin America and seven in Asia and Oceania this year.

“This milestone is a powerful statement that 400,000 customers, and counting, value the Nissan LEAF for the excitement, confidence and connection it delivers,” said Executive Vice President Daniele Schillaci, Nissan’s global head of marketing, sales and electric vehicles.

The all-new Leaf e+, with a range of 226 miles and MSRP of $36,550 (base trim & before applicable rebates), will be on sale at retailers nationwide this month.

Less than a decade ago, electric cars were seen as a niche product, and Leaf customers were mostly “early adopters.” Today, a growing number of consumers say their next car may be electric. And regulators, utilities, landlords, retailers are listening, as evidenced by EV charging stations popping up everywhere.

For tips on how EVs and EV charging can help your community, neighborhood, and place of business, please contact me. I also invite you to subscribe to receive future posts via email, view my other posts, and follow me on Twitter.

Electrified Jeeps To Follow Major U.S. Plant Investment

FCA Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the parent company of Jeep, is bringing electric vehicle manufacturing capabilities to the off-road icon as part of $4.5 billion investment in U.S. plants.

“Today’s announcement . . . allows Jeep to enter two white space segments that offer significant margin opportunities and will enable new electrified Jeep products, including at least four plug-in hybrid vehicles and the flexibility to produce fully battery-electric vehicles” said FCA CEO Mike Manley.

The term “white space” refers to future but not yet defined “must-have” vehicles, and electric certainly appears to be what Jeep has in mind.

As for specifics, three manufacturing sites (Mack Avenue, Jefferson North, and Warren Truck) will all be capable of producing plug-in hybrid versions of their respective models following the upcoming investment, and they will each have the flexibility to build fully electric models in the future.

The accompanying video highlights some vehicles in Jeep’s pipeline; no electrics quite yet, but stay tuned.

Is your community and company ready for the coming wave of EVs?

Contact me to find out what you can do.

Electric Vehicles Continue Expansion Across America As Capabilities and Benefits Increase

Direct Current Fast Chargers in North America (Feb. 2019)

For the past few years the electric vehicle industry has focused on California. Now, though, states across America are enjoying the benefits of transportation electrification. Here is a partial list of recent developments ranging from early-stage regulatory/legislative initiatives all the way to actual investment:

  • New York: Recent approval of funding for corridor DC fast charging state-wide.
  • Maryland: Recent approval of ~$40 million utility-led investment in EV charging infrastructure.
  • New Jersey: Request by state’s largest utility to invest $364 million in EV charging infrastructure.
  • Massachusetts: Proposal by National Grid to substantially expand investment in EV charging infrastructure.
  • Iowa: Recent holding by state regulators that EV charging service providers are not necessarily regulated utilities (consistent with findings elsewhere but not resolved universally).
  • Washington: Proposed legislation to require state-owned vehicles to be electric.
  • Georgia: $63 million investment in electric buses (using funds from Volkswagen diesel settlement).
  • Minnesota: Adopted goal of increasing number of EVs from 6,000 today to 200,000 by 2030.

These and other initiatives provide a host of societal benefits, ranging from saving consumers money due to lower total cost of ownership for EVs to reduced healthcare costs and better quality of life (especially for children) from reduced tailpipe pollution. Speaking on the subject of advances in the Midwest, Rolf Nordstrom, president and CEO of the Great Plains Institute, commented that:

This vision for electric vehicles offers . . . the chance to quite literally pave the way for a technological revolution in mobility as transformative as the switch from horses to cars. Collaborative public-private efforts . . . are essential to fully realizing the many benefits that electrifying our transportation system will have on the health of residents, the total costs of driving, and the economy.

EVs Ready For Mass Market

Demand for electric vehicles is increasing because customers like the performance and technology associated with EVs as well as the lower total cost of ownership. Upfront price and driving range have been obstacles in the past, but battery costs are falling and energy storage capacity is increasing. Moreover, regulatory imperatives are pushing auto manufacturers to develop EVs that customers find desirable and affordable. The result is that at least 100 electrified models are expected to hit the U.S. market by 2022. And in sharp contrast to just a few years ago when real-world range was around 100 miles, fully electric EVs now provide ranges exceeding 225 miles and plug-in hybrids often satisfy most consumers’ daily needs solely with electricity.

Graph of increasing electric vehicle driving range.
Image courtesy www.cleantechnica.com.

Urban and suburban use will surely continue to grow as scores of plug-in vehicles enter the market. But with longer ranges and increased capabilities, electrified vehicles (including plug-in hybrid as well as fully-electric) actually offer far greater benefits to rural drivers who tend pile on the miles. (The benefits being that electricity is generally equivalent to $1/gallon gasoline, and maintenance for fully electric vehicles is practically non-existent.)

A recent report by Dan Gatti of the Union of Concerned Scientists finds that the average rural driver will save $870 per year by choosing an electric vehicle over a conventional sedan. From an air pollution perspective, that driver will also cut carbon dioxide emissions by more than 3 metric tons per year (almost twice the average emissions reduction from an EV in most urban counties).

Recognizing that more than 2/3 of all vehicles sold in America are trucks and SUVs, EV start-up Rivian is aiming squarely at this opportunity by bringing to market a fully electric pickup. The company gained substantial momentum with the recent $700 million equity investment round led by Amazon. The investment comes on the heels of Rivian’s reveal of the all-electric R1T pickup and R1S SUV at the LA Auto Show last November.

Next Up: Commercial Electric Vehicles

On the commercial side, meanwhile, Chanje is developing a fully electric medium duty panel van designed and built from the ground up to meet the specific needs of the last mile industry. The company recently announced that FedEx will be adding 1,000 Chanje vehicles to its fleet. Electric trucks appeal to all constituencies: Financially they are economical to operate; environmentally they hasten the transition away from diesel; optically they position the operator as an innovator and supporter of clean technology.

“FedEx continually seeks new ways to maximize operational efficiency, minimize impacts and find innovative solutions through the company’s Reduce, Replace, Revolutionize approach to sustainability,” said Mitch Jackson, FedEx Chief Sustainability Officer.  “Our investment in [electric] vehicles is part of our commitment to that approach of serving our customers and connecting the world responsibly and resourcefully.”

Chanje fully electric delivery vehicle.

Next Steps

For more information about electric vehicles and electric vehicle charging, including tips on how you can help bring EVs and EV charging to your community, please contact me. I also invite you to subscribe to receive future posts via email, view my other posts, and follow me on Twitter.

Volkswagen’s All-Electric Dune Buggy Illustrates Flexibility, Efficiency, of “MEB” Global Electric Vehicle Powertrain

Given the high cost and complexity of developing new vehicles, mass market automakers tend to stick to models with broad appeal while shying away from particularly distinctive or offbeat designs. But Volkswagen’s Modular Electric Drive Matrix (MEB), the central element in the company’s electric vehicle future, will help Volkswagen deliver a wide array of vehicles customized for particular regions and purposes, in addition to offering global efficiencies for all models by using a single cost-effective platform.

To illustrate this efficiency and flexibility, and show that the MEB platform can be used for more than just large-scale series production models, Volkswagen at next month’s International Geneva Motor Show will unveil an MEB-based fully electric dune buggy.

Image of Volkswagen electric I.D. Buggy concept

Why did Volkswagen choose a dune buggy? Says Klaus Bischoff, Head Designer at Volkswagen, “A buggy is more than a car. It is vibrancy and energy on four wheels. These attributes are embodied by the new e-buggy, which demonstrates how a modern, non-retro interpretation of a classic can look and, more than anything else, the emotional bond that electric mobility can create.”

MEB: The Heart of Volkswagen’s Electric Vehicle Strategy

According to a recent report in Automotive News, Volkswagen’s electrification seeds were planted at a crisis meeting arising out of the company’s emissions cheating scandal. Held in Wolfsburg on October 10, 2015, then-VW brand chief Herbert Diess convened nine top managers on a Saturday to discuss the way forward in the aftermath of the scandal that cost the company more than €27 billion in fines.

“It was an intense discussion, so was the realization that this could be an opportunity, if we jump far enough,” said Juergen Stackmann, VW brand’s board member for sales. “It was an initial planning session to do more than just play with the idea of electric cars,” he told Reuters. “We asked ourselves ‘What is our vision for the future of the brand? Everything that you see today is connected to this.'”

Just three days after the emergency meeting of the VW brand’s management board, Volkswagen announced plans to develop an electric vehicle platform, codenamed MEB, paving the way for mass production of an affordable electric car.

Fast-forward a few years, and the MEB is firmly positioned to make the manufacture of electric vehicles more efficient — i.e., less expensive — in the long term. The MEB will allow Volkswagen to produce electric vehicles with a more systematic focus and to cater to increasing demand for electric vehicles. The MEB also ensures vehicles using the platform are optimally equipped for EV-specific requirements by taking into account what axles, drive units, wheelbases, and weight ratios need to look like. It also considers the best design and position for the batteries.

Image of Volkswagen MEB Platform

The Plan: Transform 2025+

Streamlining vehicle architecture is key to the electrification aspect of Volkswagen’s Transform 2025+ plan. A big part of Transform 2025+ is an electric offensive aimed at making the company a global market leader and be the world’s first manufacturer to sell more than 1 million pure electric vehicles.

To that end, Volkswagen is investing €30 billion in electrification (in addition to tens of millions of euros in battery technology) and plans to have about 20 fully electric vehicles by 2025 with annual production of 3 million units. The company anticipates sales of 100,000 units during the first full production year, in part by deploying MEB at eight sites on three continents by 2022.

Map showing Volkswagen's MEB Deployment Sites

Volkswagen is currently converting its Zwickau plant to be run as an e-mobility site, and the company announced that Emden and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles in Hanover will switch to the production of electric vehicles in 2022. Collectively, these three sites will become Europe’s largest e-production network. Two EV plants are also taking shape in Anting and Foshan in China, with MEB scheduled for 2020. For North America, VW announced at the Detroit Auto Show that it will invest $800 million to construct a second assembly plant dedicated to EVs in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Image of Volkswagen ID. Crozz concept vehicle
Volkswagen ID. CROZZ concept, expected to enter production in Zwickau in 2020

Conclusion

For more information about electric vehicles and electric vehicle charging, including tips on what you can do to make your property and community EV-friendly, please contact me. I also invite you to subscribe to receive future posts via email, view my other posts, and follow me on Twitter.

Electric Vehicle Advertising Ready for Prime Time; Your Brand Can Benefit Too

Super Bowl ads cost upwards of $5 million for 30 seconds, so brands are deliberate in featuring products and services most likely to bring growth, profit, and success.

As evidence that electric vehicles are ready for prime time, Audi this Sunday will air a 60-second commercial during the big game’s second quarter called “Cashew” that highlights Audi’s electrification strategy by offering a glimpse of the fully electric e-tron GT concept car.

Making a cameo appearance in Cashew is the e-tron SUV, the first of three all-electric models Audi plans to introduce in the U.S. (expected to arrive this spring). The other two models are expected to be the Audi e-tron Sportback (debuting in 2019) and the Audi e-tron GT (debuting in 2020). Audi anticipates offering more than 20 fully electric and plug-in hybrid models globally by 2025.

While this ad is from an automaker, every company can benefit from association with electric vehicles. Let’s talk about how I can deliver your brand a lift in consideration, purchase intent, and perception through association with electric vehicles and electric vehicle charging.

Nissan Improves Range, Power, Performance, Charging Speed of All-Electric Leaf e+

Nissan unveiled at this week’s CES the Leaf e+, the latest addition to the popular and fully-electric Leaf lineup that sports a bigger battery for longer range as well as enhanced power output and faster charging. The Leaf was the first mass-market EV of the century in when it launched in 2011, and Nissan to date has sold more than 380,000 Leafs globally and 128,000 in the U.S.

Extended Range Matches the Competition

The Leaf e+ is a welcome addition to the Leaf lineup as the nameplate’s sales trajectory has declined in the face of competition from moderately-priced fully electric competitors with considerably longer ranges. For example, the Chevrolet Bolt and the Tesla Model 3, both of which are also fully-electric, have approximately double the range of the prior Leafs.

Enter the Leaf e+. With a 62 kWh battery pack (EPA-estimated range of up to 226 miles) and enhanced power output (160 kW motor in the LEAF e+ combine to produce 45 percent more power over prior Leafs and 250 lb-ft (340 Nm) of torque), the Leaf e+ is now a real contender against the Bolt (60 kWh battery, 238 EPA-rated miles, 150 kW motor, 266 lb-feet (360 Nm) torque) and Model 3 Mid-Range (62 kWh, 260 EPA-rated miles, power TBA).

Infographic showing increased battery capacity of Nissan Leaf.

Keeping in mind the importance of maximizing cabin and storage space, the new battery imposes no sacrifices. Even with a 25 percent increase in energy density and the increase in energy storage capacity, the LEAF e+ battery pack is almost the same size and configuration as the pack in the prior Nissan Leaf. Other than a 5-millimeter increase in overall height (16-inch wheels), the car’s exterior and interior dimensions are unchanged.

Faster Charging

Just as important as the extended range is the new Leaf’s 70 kW (100 kW peak) CHAdeMO Direct Current (DC) fast charging system. This means the Leaf e+ can charge up to twice as fast as previous generation Leafs, which peaked at 50 kW. The CHAdeMo port is pictured below, on the left, which is next to the universal Level 2 port.

Photo of Nissan Leaf charging ports.

Based on early testing, according to Nissan, Leaf e+ owners can expect similar charging times when hooked up to a 100 kW charger as current LEAF owners do with a 50 kW charger, despite a 55 percent larger battery storage capacity. Most non-Tesla DC fast chargers installed in the U.S. today offer a peak charge of 50 kW, but network operators such as EVgo and Electrify America are planning now for more powerful chargers to serve the new Leaf and other fast-charging EVs.

Nissan Energy Services and Grid Integration

The Leaf family of cars plays a vital role in Nissan’s efforts to integrate electric vehicles and energy systems into customer’s lives – creating an “EV ecosystem.” Among these efforts is Nissan Energy, the company’s initiative for its electric vehicles to connect with energy systems to charge their batteries, power homes and businesses, or feed energy back to power grids, as well as new efforts to reuse batteries.

“Nissan Energy will enable our customers to use their electric cars for much more than just driving – now they can be used in nearly every aspect of the customer’s lives,” said executive vice president Daniele Schillaci, Nissan’s global head of marketing, sales and electric vehicles. “Our Nissan Intelligent Mobility vision calls for changing how cars are integrated with society, and Nissan Energy turns that vision into reality.”

Infographic of Nissan Energy Services.

While many of the two-way services (“Vehicle to Grid” or V2G) are not yet widely available in the U.S., the desire for them among customers, policymakers, energy services companies and energy suppliers is great.

In the meantime, there is much interest in harnessing the ability to modulate vehicles’ rates of charge in real-time to respond to grid conditions. Because this service does not actually put power back onto the grid it is not true V2G, but instead is referred to as V1G. V1G can be extremely meaningful at scale as a demand response resource. For example, reducing the load of 1,000 EVs by a mere 2 kW each shaves two megawatts from the bulk power system. Similar adjustments can be made at the distribution level, thereby potentially avoiding costly upgrades, based on time, price, load, and parameters provided by customers.

Technology

The Leaf e+ contains many of Nissan’s advanced technologies including ProPILOT Assist semi-autonomous driving system and e-Pedal mode for one-pedal driving, both of which are common among electric vehicles.

“The new Nissan LEAF e+ offers all of the style, convenience and electric vehicle benefits that have helped make Leaf the best-selling electric vehicle in the world, plus even more driving excitement, range, power and choice,” said Denis Le Vot, senior vice president and chairman, Nissan North America. “Nissan Intelligent Mobility is at the core of everything we do and the new Nissan LEAF e+ takes this vision even further,” Le Vot continued. “EVs will play a significant part in our product lineup as we move forward and will lead the way to providing an efficient and sustainable future for the world.”

Photo of 2019 Nissan Leaf e+.

Availability and Pricing

Leaf e+ sales in the U.S. are expected to begin in the spring of 2019, with pricing to be announced closer to the sales-date.

Conclusion

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.

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.