June 5th, 2016 § Comments Off on BMW revamps “i” electric car division to focus on self-driving tech § permalink
MUNICH, June 2 (Reuters) – BMW has transformed its “i” division into a development centre for self-driving cars, a board member told Reuters, a major strategic shift for the unit previously focused on making a family of lightweight electric vehicles.
While Tesla’s Model 3 will hit showrooms in 2017, and as rivals Porsche and Audi are working on all-electric cars for release by 2019, the German carmaker appears to have put such cars on the back burner. Its next fully-electric car is not due until 2021.
The company has changed tack after its only fully battery-powered car, the i3, failed to gain traction with the public, with only 25,000 sales last year. By contrast, Tesla has already received more than 370,000 orders for its Model 3.
Now, rather than seeking to match the likes of Tesla and Porsche with a new zero-emissions sports limousine for release within the next two years, its main focus will be on developing an electric car with the next generation of technology: autonomous driving.
In an interview at the company’s headquarters in Munich, BMW board member Klaus Froehlich, who is in charge of development, said he had relaunched the i division in April as a unit devoted to producing cars that drive themselves.
“It is now in ramp-up stage. We call it Project i Next.”
The revamp also follows at least four high-profile staff defections from the division this year. Dirk Abendroth, manager of BMW’s “i” powertrain group, Henrik Wenders, vice president product management BMW “i”, and Carsten Breitfeld, vice president engineering, head of the i8 vehicle programme, were poached by a Chinese electric vehicle startup.
As part of its autonomous driving push, BMW is hiring experts in machine learning and artificial intelligence. It is also integrating the functions of existing computer driven assistance systems like cruise control, emergency braking, lane-keeping support and automatic parking.
With a fully autonomous vehicle, BMW could launch a ride-hailing business without having to pay drivers, Froehlich said, giving carmakers a competitive edge over new ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft which are eroding car sales by making part-time use as convenient as ownership.
Earlier this month Toyota Motor Corp said it would invest in Uber, and Volkswagen announced a $300 million investment in Gett, a smaller ride-sharing company.
BMW too may partner with a ride-hailing firm, particularly in markets like China, but the Bavarian carmaker’s strategy on potential partnerships with companies in this space is still being worked on, Froehlich said.
Sales of highly autonomous vehicles – ones where permanent active input from the driver is not required – are not expected to gain traction until 2020, but could then rise to around 9 million a year by 2025, according to analysts at Exane BNP Paribas.
China, the world’s largest car market, is likely to be the market where autonomous cars will first emerge on a large scale, Froehlich said.
“China is extremely fast implementing technology. Last year more electric cars were sold in China than in all the other global markets combined,” he added.
BMW is also considering expanding in the area of reserving parking spaces and electric car charging stations over mobile phones, a market which is still fragmented within countries. The carmaker has already invested in ParkNow and Parkmobile, two digital parking and payment services.
“We want to actively participate in a consolidation process,” Froehlich said. (Reporting by Edward Taylor and Irene Preisinger; Editing by Pravin Chark)
September 30th, 2015 § Comments Off on Volkswagen To Roll Out More Electric and Plug-In Cars By 2020 § permalink
Looking ahead, Volkswagen wants its cars to be able to function as smartphones on wheels — sending and receiving data as they drive.
The German manufacturer plans on joining the self-driving car market, but in the more immediate sense, it will roll out 20 electric cars and plug-in hybrids – spanning compacts to luxury sedans – according to Bloomberg.
“We are in the process of reinventing Europe’s largest automaker,” said VW chief executive Martin Winterkorn prior to this week’s Frankfurt International Motor Show, as reported by Bloomberg. “By 2020, we will have transformed all of our new cars into smartphones on wheels.”
Winterkorn added: “At a time of major social and technological upheaval, people expect new answers, new solutions and new directions from us. The Porsche Mission E and the Audi e-tron quattro concept are nothing less than a quantum leap for our industry.”
With each of the aforementioned electric vehicles boasting a range of 500 kilometers (311 miles), Winterkorn said VW’s Tiguan GTE model exemplifies their “determination to systematically take the plug-in hybrid to further classes and segments.”
To that end, Volkswagen showed off its concept technology for charging electric cars in “V-Charge” in Frankfurt.
“We have the right cars. Now what is needed is the right framework for this key technology to really catch on,” Winterkorn stated.
VW certainly needs the boost, considering that Bloomberg is reporting that the manufacturer’s deliveries in the United States are declining and have also slowed in China, its largest market.
In addition to its vow to roll out with 20 electric cars and plug-in hybrids by 2020, Volkswagen was recently one of the automakers that gained approval from the California Department of Motor Vehicles to test autonomous cars on the steets of California.
February 3rd, 2015 § Comments Off on Driven to distraction by China electric cars § permalink
The great Chinese road trip is about to begin. In the next fortnight, tens of millions of motorists will shortly join at least 1bn others heading home for that mother of all Chinese holidays: lunar new year.
My bronchial passages congest at the mere notion of so many pollution producers taking to the roads all at once. So I was delighted to learn that China’s State Grid had finished building quick-charging stations for electric cars along the 1,200km motorway from Shanghai to Beijing — and eager to give the vehicles a test drive. Xinhua, the state news agency, crowed proudly about the completion of 50 stations capable of charging eight cars each in 30 minutes flat.
And about time too: China is the world’s second-largest market for electric vehicles, and nouveau riche renminbi have poured into purchases of the Tesla model S, the coolest green motorcar on the block. For at least a decade, Beijing has been decanting subsidies into the creation of a homegrown electric vehicle industry, hoping to leapfrog conventional engines and go straight to world dominance of green car technology. And China’s air pollution problem is so big that it must, like the Great Wall, be visible from space. So selling electric cars here ought to be about as easy as selling protective face masks. But it’s not. » Read the rest of this entry «
February 1st, 2015 § Comments Off on Tesla To Expand Supercharger Network In UK To 20 Locations § permalink
Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA) To Expand Supercharger Network In UK To 20 Locations
It was not long ago that Tesla decided to bring its electric car recharging stations to the UK, with the automaker expected to construct nine Supercharger stations in a span of six months. But, it looks like the company will be fulfilling its promise in just three months, as the Palo Alto-based automaker recently decided to expand its UK presence by covering 20 locations for its Supercharger stations.
To expand electric vehicle (EV) business internationally, Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) CEO Elon Musk been promoting the Model S. The billionaire hopes that the electric sedan will be driven all across the world, which would benefit from Tesla’s amazingly quick charging stations.
It looks like Elon Musk has learned his lesson from the recent debacle in China. While the demand for Model S has been high in they country, drivers have complained about the limited Supercharger stations available. This concern was highlighted by Mr. Musk at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this month, as the mastermind behind the all electric Tesla revealed that the company would not be able to meet its 2020 profitability outlook due to the disappointing performance in China.
This update evidently didn’t please investors, as the Tesla stock dropped 6% during the following day trading. In response, the Tesla CEO has redoubled his efforts to construct more charging stations for the company’s EVs.
Providing additional support and infrastructure for these stations is probably the biggest growth hurdle for the US automaker – similar to the chicken and egg problem. EVs are useless unless they are supported by fast charging facility.
It takes two to three hours for electric cars to replenish their lithium ion electric batteries from standard public charging station – a little bit too much of a wait. However, at Tesla’s Supercharger stations, EV owners can charge 80% of their car batteries in just half an hour.
According to the latest reports, Tesla is extending its Supercharger facilities to several areas in the UK, including Exmouth and Northampton. The automaker will also be building Supercharger at Sainsbury’s locations in Winchester and Bristol.
This could be seen as a move to scare off other EV competitors in the emerging market, especially General Motors Company (NYSE:GM), who is set to release the Chevy Spark later this year. GM recently expanded the availability of city car Chevy Spark EV in Maryland, after it proved to be a success in Oregon and California. By expanding its charging station network, Tesla might win over the UK population and help Elon Musk achieve his goal of selling mass market electric cars. The automaker has plans to release the low-priced Model 3 by the end of 2017, which will have a starting price of $35,000.
Tesla stock traded down 0.78% on Friday, closing at $203.60.
October 1st, 2014 § Comments Off on The Strati: World’s First 3D-Printed Electric Car Built in Just 44 Hours § permalink
It’s been a really exciting year for 3D-printing, what with the technology being used in medical breakthroughs to save lives in Spain, to print multiple houses in China and to build an entire castle in a back garden in the US.
And now we have a new first to add to the list in the 3D-printing industry – the world’s first electric car built from 3D-printed parts.
» Read the rest of this entry «
May 26th, 2014 § Comments Off on Tesla news: 100th Supercharger is now open! § permalink
There are now over 100 Supercharger stations globally – 86 in North America, 17 in Europe, and two in China. Number 100 was another milestone in the rapid expansion of Tesla’s Supercharger network, making it possible for Model S owners to drive long-distance, for free, for life.
At a Supercharger, Model S can get up to half a charge of range back in as little as 20 minutes without having to pay anything for fuel (or, now that we mention it, electricity). And it all comes with the convenience of simply plugging in.
We’re building a multi-national network that will ultimately mean drivers will never be more than 100 miles/160 kilometres from a Supercharger. Today’s network already supports road trips on well-travelled routes throughout Europe, and coupled with rapid growth throughout 2014, we’ll more than double our charging infrastructure in Europe by the end of this year. Globally, Model S drivers have already charged enough at Superchargers to circle the globe 573 times.
Check out our new dynamic network map that can help you find stations throughout Europe.
May 21st, 2014 § Comments Off on UK-drive-side Tesla Electric Cars to Silently Tear Up British Roads From June § permalink
Elon Musk’s company will be selling the Brit-orientated Model S from June 7th, priced at £70,000. With it will come an expanded “Supercharger” network for the vehicles, much like the ones seen across the US and China. Free charging stations will be placed along some of the UK’s busiest routes, up the M25 and along the length of the M1. With a 20 minute charge providing 130 miles worth of power, these charging stations should in theory allow drivers to tour the length of the country with just one stop-off.
January 19th, 2013 § Comments Off on BYD adding to Shenzen’s city fleet with 500 e6 electric police cars § permalink
Chinese electric carmaker BYD has won a contract to supply 500 E6 pure electric police cars to the city of Shenzen, China. For BYD, the deal signifies that th
GM rolls out China-developed electric car in world’s top auto market
November 23rd, 2012 § Comments Off on GM rolls out China-developed electric car in world’s top auto market § permalink
(Reuters) – General Motors Co (GM.N) rolled out its first China-developed electric car at the Guangzhou autoshow on Thursday as it ramps up its green car push in the world##Q##s largest auto market.
The Sail Springo EV, with a starting price tag of 258,000 yuan ($41,400), will be initially available only at GM##Q##s dealer outlets in Shanghai, the U.S. automaker said in a statement.
The car, developed and built by GM and its partner SAIC Motor Corp Ltd (600104.SS), has a range of 130-200 kilometres and a top speed of 130 kilometres per hour.
Encouraged by Beijing##Q##s initiative to put 5 million electric and plug-in hybrids on the road by 2020, many domestic and foreign automakers are gearing up to tap the potential of green cars. SAIC launched its Roewe E50 electric car with a price tag of 234,900 yuan around two weeks ago.
Warren Buffett-back BYD Co Ltd (1211.HK) (002594.SZ) had also rolled out a financing package recently that allows fleet operators to buy its pricy electric car e6 in instalments.
Earlier in the year, GM launched its Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid in China.
($1 = 6.2302 Chinese yuan)
October 30th, 2012 § Comments Off on Saab electric cars coming in 2014 § permalink
The deal to give bankrupt Saab a new future as an electric car maker has been finalised.
The buyer, National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB (NEVS)- a joint venture between China’s National Modern Energy Holdings and the Japanese fund Sun Investment-has confirmed that the new Saab will start production of electric cars in 014.
Sadly, the new electric cars, based on Saab models, will not be able to use Saab’s distinctive griffin’s head logo (pictured). The first model is expected to be based on the technologies used to produce the 9-3 and will launch within the next two years.
Saab and NEVs did not disclose details of the transaction that helped rescue the carmaker from bankruptcy.
Saab went into administration last December after struggling to secure long-term investment since it was sold off by GM in 2010. Although sports car brand Spyker bought the firm in early 2010, it soon hit financial problems, with the administrators called in just a year later.
The new buyer, NEV is headed by former Volvo Trucks chief, Karl-Erling Trogen.