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)
April 23rd, 2016 § Comments Off on Tough but gotta be done: Netherlands may ban sale of non-electric cars by 2025 § permalink
Times are changing folks and yet human attitude towards worsening air pollution and climate change is all slow behaviours which, unless have the tangible impact, are rarely well pondered upon.
This is why I personally gotta commend Duth government on their effort, forced hand, in fact to make legal steps to ensure that Changes are Made and Made Now rather than later, and promote zero emission transportation, with this proposal to make it illegal to sell pure fossil-fuelled car from 2025 in the country.
Europe’s developing market in on-street charging points and hydrogen fuelling stations will be given a boost if the Dutch parliament passes a law that would ban the sale of non-electric cars by 2025.
The bill was initiated by the Labour party, and has attracted sufficient support in the lower house of the Dutch parliament. It will become law if it gains the approval of the Dutch senate.
If introduced, the law would give a regulatory push to the market for electric vehicles. At present, consumers are deterred from buying non-petrol or diesel vehicles because of the lack of charging infrastructure, and companies are deterred from installing the infrastructure because of the lack of cars to use it.
There are signs that this chicken-and-egg problem is beginning to be overcome in the battery car market, particularly in the Netherlands. Last year, 43,000 new electric vehicles were purchased in the country, giving them a 10% share of the market. In Norway, the leader in electric vehicle adoption, that figure is 22%. By contrast, electric vehicles make up only 1% of UK sales and 0.35% of Canadian sales.
Howerver, hydrogen fuelled cars still face barriers. At present there are few ways to refuel a fuel-cell-powered car.
Shell has made a start on installing hydrogen stations, having set up a partnership in Germany with industrial gas manufacturers Air Liquide and Linde, car maker Daimler and energy companies Total and OMV, to develop a network of 400 hydrogen refuelling stations by 2023. However, only three stations have been set up.
The UK government last year made £6.6m ($9.5m) available to set up 12 hydrogen refuelling stations across the UK, including new Brentford and Croydon outside London, and a mobile station that will be used across the south of England.
Despite the lack of a fuel network, production model hydrogen cars are beginnign to appear. Yesterday, 21 April, Toyota annouced that it would introduce the Mirai to the UK. The £66,000 ($95,000) four-door Mirai (it means “future” in Japanese) is part of the car maker’s plan to shift to alternative fuels as soon as possible – a decision that will be vindicated if the Netherlands enacts its law, and other countries follow suit.
So far, the city of Oslo is looking to ban private cars by 2019 and the mayor of Paris has announced that the city will be rid of diesel cars by 2020.
The process of building a hydrogen refuelling station is shown here.
Toyota’s take on the rapidly changing car industry is shown here.
April 5th, 2016 § Comments Off on Tesla VS Dyson, as the latter Challenges Tesla With $1.4 Billion Battery Tech Investment § permalink
Dyson, the U.K. producer of innovative vacuum cleaners and hand dryers, will spend 1 billion pounds ($1.44 billion) on battery development over the next five years as it increases its efforts to expand into new sectors.
It follows a 2015 acquisition of Satki3, a U.S. maker of solid-state lithium-ion batteries, for $90 million. Dyson Ltd. had previously invested $15 million in the Michigan firm, which said it has found a way to produce batteries with twice the energy storage potential of standard lithium-ion models, at a half to a third of the cost.
Dyson’s battery efforts also received a lift from the U.K.’s 2016 budget, announced last week. As part of the package, the British government awarded Dyson a 16-million-pound grant to undertake research on longer-lasting batteries. The grant came from a regional development fund.
Batteries are a key component in Dyson’s cordless vacuum cleaners, a category that grew 66 percent globally in 2015 and in which Dyson currently holds about a 25 percent share of the market, the company said in an e-mailed statement.
While the immediate application for new batteries would probably be in Dyson’s existing cordless products, they have potential uses in everything from electric cars to tablet computers. In moving into the battery field, Dyson is taking on the likes of Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors, which is also developing advanced cells to power vehicles and home appliances.
March 15th, 2016 § Comments Off on Baby steps: Affordability of Electric Cars Expected to Increase Rapidly § permalink
By 2022 it may be possible to buy an electric vehicle for the same amount as a vehicle powered by a traditional petrol or diesel engine, according to a report published by Bloomberg Business this month.
At the moment the biggest barrier to wider EV adoption is arguably their high asking price. And with infrastructural improvements and technological upgrades, this type of eco-friendly vehicle is becoming more practical by the day, leaving the upfront cost as an enduring issue.
But if analysts are accurate in their predictions, it could be just six years before the choice between EVs and other cars is not affected by such considerations.
The main reason that EVs are comparatively costly today is that the batteries required to power them still put a significant burden on the total expense of the vehicle. But the report points out that battery prices have fallen by just over a third in the past 12 months and are likely to continue to tumble as demand rises and the technology involved in manufacturing them improves.
In 2015 there was a 60 per cent increase in the number of EVs sold internationally. And within 25 years they are expected to account for 35 per cent of the market as a whole.
This suggests that petrol- and diesel-powered cars will still be in the majority by 2040, or hybrids will account for the rest of the market. But ultimately it seems like complete EV dominance is only a matter of time.
Today less than a single percentage point of the new car market is made up of EVs. But as battery prices slide southwards, the predictions made in the report suggest that a major up-tick in sales is just around the corner.
While this is great news for drivers who want to reduce the harmful emissions their motoring activities produce without feeling the sting in their wallets, there are other economic considerations involved with the rise of EVs.
Specifically, it is the industries built around supplying the fossil fuels that power current cars which are likely to suffer. And analysts believe that by 2023 the need for oil will have dropped by up to two million barrels per day.
For companies and indeed entire countries which rely on the demand for oil to survive and thrive, this could be a significant issue. Some are even warning of a looming crisis which will come if steps are not taken today to ensure that the falling need for oil is balanced by investment in other areas.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are expectations surrounding the rise in EV ownership in terms of how this will impact the electricity infrastructure of the UK and other developed nations. With more people charging up their cars at home or while parked elsewhere, the demand for power will only increase.
Globally the amount of power drawn annually by EVs could be equal to a tenth of all electricity generated around the world in 2015. This annual total of 1900 terrawatt-hours of consumption is not likely to be hit until 2040, but it gives an indication of the scale of the challenge that electricity providers are going to face.
This will no doubt lead to debates about the resources which are consumed in order to provide the electricity to charge EVs. Because getting rid of a petrol-guzzling car only to replace it with an EV that plugs into a mains connection supplied by a power station that burns coal will seem like a less than perfect solution to many motorists.
Questions about the mining processes and economic impact of extracting the minerals required to build the batteries which are found within EVs also exist. But in the long term there is no doubt that vehicles must shift away from a reliance on fossil fuels, since non-renewable resources are necessarily limited and unsustainable.
February 15th, 2016 § Comments Off on VW electric car on the new MEB platform will have 311 miles of range for 2019 § permalink
Autocar is out with a new report today claiming inside information on Volkswagen’s first electric car to be built on the new MEB platform. MEB is the platform unveiled at CES last month and showcased in the company’s microbus concept: BUDD-e.
The platform will allow VW to bring to market electric vehicles made to be electric from the ground up. It is based on the now familiar concept of a large battery pack extending flat between the axles.
Volkswagen has apparently green-lighted the BUDD-e, or at least a version of the BUDD-e, for development into volume production, but the vehicle is not expected to hit the market before 2020. Autocar says VW aims to bring to market another electric vehicle on the same platform before the microbus, around 2019, and it will be closer in size to the automaker’s flagship Golf.
Yesterday we wrote about VW planning a longer range version (186 miles) of the all-electric e-Golf, but the vehicle Autocar is talking about would be an entirely new model understood to be around 4400mm in length compared to the Golf’s 4255mm.
The publication claimed the new model’s range will exceed 311 miles (500 km) on a single charge, though that’s likely based on the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC), which is known to be less restrictive than the EPA standard. For example, Tesla’s Model S 85D, which is equipped with a 85 kWh battery pack, gets 270 EPA-rated miles, but 330-NEDC rated miles. “Real-world” range is closer to the EPA ratings.
Autocar also writes that Volkswagen plans to introduce cutting-edge connectivity and infotainment systems in the new vehicle. You can read the full report on their website.
January 23rd, 2016 § Comments Off on Electric cars will become as ubiquitous as the internet, says transport minister § permalink
Electric cars are on track to become as ubiquitous as the internet, the transport minister has said, claiming plug-in vehicle technology was reaching a “tipping point”.Andrew Jones, the roads minister, said sales of ultra-low emissions vehicles (ULEVs) were “rocketing”, with 28,188 new ULEV cars on the road in 2015 – almost double the number in 2014, and more than the previous five years combined.
Although this remains a tiny fraction of the overall car market – with a record 2.6 million new vehicles sold last year – the Government believes by 2050 it can get “virtually every car and van on the road to be zero emission”.
In a speech this week, Mr Jones said: “The shift we are seeing reminds me of the spread of the internet in the 1990s.
“The internet started small, as a niche interest, but then it snowballed, and now it’s hard to imagine being without it.
“I think we are seeing a similar picture emerging for ultra-low emission vehicles in Britain today.
“ULEV sales are not just growing rapidly, they are rocketing.”
In 1998, just 9 per cent of households had home access to the internet – but by 2004 that had increased to more than half of all homes, ONS data suggest. Some 85 per cent of households now have home internet access, the vast majority of them with broadband connections.
Mr Jones added: “The internet only really snowballed when internet users, providers, website retailers and investors came together in sufficient numbers to create a tipping point.
“We’re reaching that tipping point with the ULEV market.”
Hybrid plug-in vehicles such as the Mitsubishi Outlander were the most popular type of ULEVs last year, with 18,254 registrations, a 137 per cent increase on 2014.
Sales of fully electric vehicles increased by 48 per cent, with 9,934 registrations last year.
Sales of ULEVs have been boosted by Government grants of up to £5,000. These grants are being reduced from March, but ministers have vowed to support a further 100,000 ULEV purchases, as well as continuing to offer grants to install home charging points.
Shifting to electric cars is seen as a crucial if the UK is to hit its long-term climate change goals, which require carbon emissions to be slashed by 80 per cent on 1990 levels by 2050.
November 6th, 2015 § Comments Off on On h2:Toyota Will Lease Mirai In Europe, Mostly In Germany And Uk § permalink
I don’t normally cover non-electric car stories on my blog but this one is interesting to say the least and if it was interesting for me I hope it is just as interesting for you. 🙂
Toyota Will Lease Mirai In Europe, Mostly in Germany and UKEurope will be a marginal market for the Toyota Mirai, at least in the beginning. The Japanese automaker plans to ship about 50 to 100 units to Europe in 2016 and 2017, 90 percent of which will be destined for Germany and the UK. That’s insignificant compared to the 1,900 orders Toyota has received from the United States.
The two European countries were chosen because they are expanding their refueling infrastructure for fuel cell vehicles. The Mirai has a sticker price of €66,000 plus local taxes in Europe, but Toyota will initially only lease the car to customers.
“Mirai customers will not have to worry about the resale value or maintenance of their car because everything will be included in the monthly lease rate,” Yoshikazu Tanaka, chief engineer for the Mirai, was quoted as saying by Autonews Europe.
The lease will cost €1,200 a month in Germany and from £600 to £700 in the UK. Contracts will have a four-year duration and no down payment. Besides Germany and the UK, Denmark is another target market for the Mirai. The country has seven fuel cell stations and plans to add five more by year-end. The Mirai will be leased for €1,050 a month in Denmark. From early 2016 the Mirai will be also leased in Belgium.
The leasing rates in individual markets do not include possible government incentives for zero-emission vehicles.
Germany targets 50 stations by the year-end and 400 by 2023, while the UK aims to expand its network to 65 stations by 2020 from 15 at the year-end. In Germany, filling the Mirai’s 4.7-kg hydrogen tank costs below €45 ($51), as hydrogen is priced at €9.5 per kg. A full refill takes from 3 to 5 minutes.
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.
September 25th, 2015 § Comments Off on The cheaper battery: Bosch invents new electric car battery to double mileage § permalink
German electronics firm Bosch says it will have a solid state battery on the market by 2020 that will double the range of electric cars at half the cost of today’s batteries.
Today the cheapest electric cars, which cost around $30,000, typically have a range of less than 100 miles.
Once commercialised, this new battery could give affordable electric cars a range of over 200 miles per charge – and at a lower price.
The acceleration in the development of this new battery comes with Bosch’s acquisition of Californian startup Seeo, which already has sample cells of this battery.
According to Seeo, they have come up with a new way to make lithium batteries without a liquid electrolyte. The batteries need no cooling system and won’t catch on fire the way a traditional lithium ion battery can. They are also significantly lighter and cost less to manufacture, compared to the battery in a Tesla Model S, for instance, which weighs 1,200 pounds and costs $12,000. » Read the rest of this entry «
September 20th, 2015 § Comments Off on Electric: BMW says next electric i car in “final stages” § permalink
At the 2015 Frankfurt Auto Show, Ian Robertson, BMW’s sales chief, told AutoNews that the next BMW i cars are in the final stages of consideration. “We have a number of options that are in the final stages of consideration” to join the i3 battery-powered compact and i8 plug-in hybrid sports car in the “i” lineup, Ian Robertson, BMW’s sales chief. “The i unit will continue to develop.”
Rumors around a new BMW i car have been going around for months now with the i5 name being mentioned the most. Just recently another report mentioned an i5 model arriving in 2020 and being powered by hydrogen fuel cells.
BMW is under pressure as rivals roll out new vehicles in attempt to beat the carmaker in annual sales. Tesla is also preparing two new exciting electric cars: an SUV, Model X, and a 3 Series competitor, Model 3 in 2017.
Over 30,000 copies of the BMW i3 and BMW i8 have been sold since their market launch in late 2013. Even though the two innovative vehicles with carbon fiber passenger cell are still not available in all planned markets planned, the sales have been nothing short of positive. The fully planned market launch was completed in August.
BMW’s strategy for electric cars is to focus on lightweight materials as well as batteries as the industry seeks to extend the distance the vehicles can drive before recharging, Chief Financial Officer Friedrich Eichiner said at a press briefing at the show.
“We don’t think it makes sense to load up cars with hundreds of kilos of battery power in order to get the long ranges,” Eichiner said. “That’s not a solution. We think battery capacity is going to double for the same amount of weight before long.”
In the mean time, BMW is likely to launch an i3 update within the next two years, followed by an i8 facelift.