BMW and Tesla executives meet to discuss electric cars

June 13th, 2014 § Comments Off on BMW and Tesla executives meet to discuss electric cars § permalink

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Executives from German carmaker BMW (BMWG.DE) and U.S.-based Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA.O) met this week in a move which could lead to the creation of charging stations usable for different types of electric cars.

BMW and electric carmaker Tesla are seeking ways to raise the popularity of battery-powered vehicles, which consumers have shunned due to their limited operating range, the scarcity of charging stations and the time it takes to recharge them.

“Both companies are strongly committed to the success of electro-mobility and discussed how to further strengthen the development of electro-mobility on an international level,” a BMW spokesman said in a statement on Friday.

BMW said the meeting had taken place on Wednesday but declined to comment in detail about the nature of the talks, or about which BMW executives had met with Tesla.

In a conference call on Thursday, Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk said there had been talks with BMW about how to promote the use of electric vehicles and how to make better use of Tesla’s network of charging stations.

Carmakers including General Motors (GM.N), Ford (F.N), Chrysler, BMW, Daimler (DAIGn.DE), Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE), Audi and Porsche have committed to adopting a common SAE combo standard for fast-charging connectors.

Fast-charging stations allow electric vehicle owners to recharge batteries up to 80 percent in less than 20 minutes.

Today, the Chevrolet Spark and the BMW i3 for example can use the same battery recharging stations.

Tesla has, however, developed its own network of high-speed charging stations including along key autobahn routes in Germany in an effort to make electric cars viable for long-distance commuting.

Tesla’s charger system can be fitted with an adapter that allows its cars, including the Tesla Model S, to be recharged on both the SAE chargers and its own system.

SHARING PATENTS

Tesla also said on Thursday that it would allow others to make use of its intellectual property in the hope of speeding up development of electric cars by all manufacturers.

Musk said this included all of Tesla’s patents, including several hundred current ones and several thousand in the future.

German premium auto makers have been keen to collaborate with Tesla.

In January, Daimler (DAIGn.DE) Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche said the German maker of Mercedes-Benz cars was open to deepening its partnership with the U.S. firm.

Daimler holds a 4.3 percent stake in Tesla, which is already supplying it with electric motors and batteries for its Smart Fortwo electric vehicle (EV) and the new Mercedes-Benz B-Class EV.

(Editing by Jonathan Gould and Mark Heinrich)

The e-up! This fall of 2013: Volkswagen Unveils Its First Production Electric Car

March 15th, 2013 § Comments Off on The e-up! This fall of 2013: Volkswagen Unveils Its First Production Electric Car § permalink

Martin Winterkorn, Volkswagen##Q##s CEO, unveils the e-up!

We missed it in Geneva last week, but the first production electric car from Volkswagen was unveiled at VW##Q##s headquarters in Wolfsburg this morning. We##Q##ve seen several Golf prototypes, but the first production EV from Volkswagen is based on the up! and it##Q##s logically called the e-up!

We bet the electric Golf will be named the e-Golf and compared to it, the up! is actually two models down. In other words, it##Q##s the Yaris-sized Polo that##Q##s below the Golf, and the up! is below the Polo with dimensions close to the diminutive Chevrolet Spark. But the two cars are very different. When the Spark has an angry look and cheap plastics inside, the up! looks nice and refined, outside and inside.

The e-up!—likely to only be available with four doors—is a small electric four seater city car. This format works well for the European market. With limited range and performance, Volkswagen clearly says that its e-up! is “for daily use in the city,” and that “is also ideal for commuters,” or is “an innovative second car.”

This is clearly not a competitor to the Tesla Model S, but it may be what millions have been waiting for: an electric car for the people, with a moderate price. The battery is perfectly integrated below the floor, and it stores 18.7 kWh. Engineers will understand that the range is limited, and Volkswagen announces 93 miles on standard European test methods. You can deduct 20 percent of that number in real world driving conditions, but it##Q##s still more than enough most people, and Volkswagen will be happy to provide a diesel Passat with a 700-plus miles of range to those who need more.

The car##Q##s weight is reasonable at 2,612 pounds, but power is modest. Its motor provide 40 kW continuous with a 60 kW peak (82 hp). That##Q##s more than the base up! which only has 60 horsepower but many are waiting for the GTI version which should get 110 hp. Torque is equally modest at 155 lb-ft and that means this e-up will be much slower than the Chevrolet Spark EV. Volkswagen says it: going 0 to 62 mph will take 14 seconds, and top speed is not autobahn-rated at 84 mph.

But the e-up! and the Spark EV will have a common feature however: their will both use the Combined Charging System (CCS) which supports both AC and DC charging. The only difference will be that the Chevrolet will get the American CCS whereas the Volkswagen will get the European CCS. That##Q##s with the Type 2 Mennekes connector on top, and not the SAE the Chevrolet gets. The plugs supports both AC and DC charging, and Volkswagen says the car can be recharged to 80 percent in 30 minutes. Again, the Chevrolet is faster. The one point where Volkswagen might make a difference is the price, but there##Q##s no indication about it yet. My estimate is that the e-up will sell for two-thirds the price of a Nissan LEAF in Germany—and possibly less.

Volkswagen announced recently that it had opened a new facility to assemble the packs for the e-up! in Braunschweig, with a capacity of 11,000 packs a year. There##Q##s no word yet about the supplier for the the battery cells.

The Volkswagen e-up will have its show premiere in Frankfurt this September, and Germans will be able to buy it soon after. Other European countries will follow, but the e-up is not be expected to be sold where the gasoline model isn##Q##t available. Americans will have to wait for the e-Golf.

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