BMW revamps “i” electric car division to focus on self-driving tech

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.
RIDE-HAILING
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)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-3623212/BMW-revamps-electric-car-division-focus-self-driving-tech.html

Sales of electric cars rise by 120% in a year

May 18th, 2016 § Comments Off on Sales of electric cars rise by 120% in a year § permalink

 

  • Number of electric cars on the road has more than doubled in a year 
  • Figures show 45,326 plug-in and hybrid cars were in service in 2016
  • This is compared to just 20,522 vehicles at the start of last year

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3595898/Sales-electric-cars-rise-120-year-45-000-plug-hybrid-vehicles-road.html#ixzz490tjPtwJ 
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The number of electric cars on Britain’s roads has more than doubled in the last year, according to new government data.

There were 45,326 plug-in and hybrid cars on the streets at the end of last year compared to just 20,522 the year before – a 120 per cent increase.This compares to just a two per cent rise in the sales of traditional cars over the same period.

It represents a phenomenal growth since 2010, when there were just 134 electric vehicles on the roads, according Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA) data.Growth has accelerated rapidly since the Government introduced the plug-in car grant scheme at the start of 2011, which offers up to £4,500 off the price.

However, the number of electric vehicles is still just a tiny fraction of the 31 million petrol and diesel engined cars in the UK.The best-selling fully electric car in the UK is the Nissan Leaf, 11,219 on the road but this is dwarfed by the hybrid Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV with 16,100 models.

Edward Jones, electric vehicle manager at Nissan GB, believes the UK electric vehicle market is at a ‘tipping point’.’

Each year we see thousands more motorists switched on to the capability, performance, and reliability of pure electric motoring,’ he said.’ With current electric vehicle ranges enabling more than 90 per cent of daily driving needs, we believe the UK is at a tipping point for mass EV adoption.’ Richard Hudson, sales director at BMW UK, said advances in technology are overcoming the drawbacks of electric motoring.

 

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3595898/Sales-electric-cars-rise-120-year-45-000-plug-hybrid-vehicles-road.html

Outlander BEV to come? Nissan buys controlling share in Mitsubishi for $2.1 billion

May 13th, 2016 § Comments Off on Outlander BEV to come? Nissan buys controlling share in Mitsubishi for $2.1 billion § permalink

Mitsubishi, days after admitting it had falsified fuel-efficiency ratings, just got snapped up by Nissan.

Nissan Motors announced Thursday that it will be purchasing a 34% stake in Mitsubishi Motors for $2.1 billion. The buying up of Mitsubishi shares will give Nissan a controlling stake in the carmaker.
The move comes just days after Mitsubishi admitted it had knowingly manipulated fuel economy tests on some of its global subcompact models. Intriguingly, the fraudulent efficiency figures affect Nissan, too, as the two had a technical partnership for several years. This meant Nissan sold rebadged Mitsubishi models as its own.
Going forward, the brands will further share vehicle platforms and technology as well as utilize global production facilities. Nissan’s CEO Carlos Ghosn emphasized that Nissan will respect the Mitsubishi brand and history by growing its presence.
Simply put, though Nissan surely feels burned by Mitsubishi’s fuel economy faking, it needs Mitsubishi’s small-car prowess. Once the deal is finalized in late May, Nissan can effectively run full throttle with Mitsubishi vehicles into burgeoning global markets — likely under the newly reinstated Datsun economy brand.
https://www.google.co.uk/amp/mashable-amphtml.googleusercontent.com/amphtml/pages/CAIiEOhCfqN3byao7ImG-ij67yAqIggEKhoIACIQd3d3Lm1hc2hhYmxlLmNvbSoECAowCDCBmB4?client=safari#

http://arstechnica.co.uk/cars/2016/05/nissan-acquiring-mitsubishi-strategic-alliance/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-36273122

UK & Ireland’s answer to Route 66 to be driven… in an electric car!

March 24th, 2016 § Comments Off on UK & Ireland’s answer to Route 66 to be driven… in an electric car! § permalink

2,500 mile bucket list road trip is being driven for the first time this April.

The official ‘Route 57’ electric car will be hitting the road and heading through 57 must-see destinations across England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. The road trip runs from 6- 26 April, starting in Plymouth and ending in Galway, visiting villages, towns, and cities along the way.

Route 57 was designed as the UK and Ireland’s answer to US Route 66, by Jurys Inn Hotels who are supplying accommodation along the way, to the driver, motoring journalist Jess Shanahan. Jess will be doing the road trip in a KIA Soul EV supplied by electric car leasing company DriveElectric, and stopping at charging stations along the route, mapped out by ZapMap.

As well as promoting local tourism, the campaign’s use of an electric vehicle (EV) seeks to challenge common myths around electric cars. A recent survey by the AA (infographic available for use as long as credit with a link to source is given) shows that the ‘range’ of an EV is one of the top reasons why people are not buying electric cars. The Route 57 campaign will show that these perceptions do not match reality with today’s green car technology, and that an electric car can drive more than 2,580 miles across four countries.

Jess will be posting updates on the Route 57 website: www.route57.org.uk along with Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram – and taking driving music suggestions through the Twitter hashtag #route57, or adding them directly to the Route 57 Spotify playlist. Audiobook suggestions are also welcome – Jess will be fittingly listening to Bill Bryson’s ‘Notes from a Small Island’ to begin with.

More information & contact:

See Route 57 Media Pack and/or contact: Ardziv Simonian asimonian@agenda21digital.com
Phone: +44 (0)2070360774, Mobile: 07735808868
Additional notes:

Jurys Inns Hotels designed the original Route 57 road trip as an equivalent to US Route 66, which has a similar mileage and drive-time, to help people explore the UK & Ireland, and encourage local tourism
An estimated 200,000 people travel from across America and the world every year to drive all or part of the iconic Route 66 (1) stretching from Chicago to Los Angeles, providing jobs and revenue from tourists which generates millions of dollars for locations along the route. (2)
Route 66 has great historical and cultural significance, forming part of a ‘bucket list’ for many people, and ranked by Britons in the top 10 of ‘things to do before you die’. (3)
Sources:
(1) Route 66 Recommissioning Initiative: http://www.bringbackroute66.com/theplan.html

(2)Route 66 Economic Impact Study, by Rutgers University: https://www.wmf.org/publication/route-66-economic-impact-study-synthesis-findings

(3) Average British bucket list 2014, survey by Engage Mutual: http://www.onefamily.com/our-story/media-centre/2014/surprises-in-average-british-bucket-list/

Baby steps: Affordability of Electric Cars Expected to Increase Rapidly

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.

from: http://www.carcraft.co.uk/news/articles/2814/affordability-of-electric-cars-expected-to-increase-rapidly

BMW prepping for next generation of electric cars

February 29th, 2016 § Comments Off on BMW prepping for next generation of electric cars § permalink

A new generation of electric cars is coming, whether we like it or not. Some experts are claiming that by 2050, only about 10 percent of all vehicles on the road will be powered solely by internal combustion engines. Hybrids and EVs are becoming the future of the automotive world and it’s happening rather quickly. So BMW must be ready and it’s doing so by investing heavily into an electric future.

We’ve already seen the new concepts from BMW of what the future holds and that’s just the beginning. BMW is working very hard to implement electric and hybrid technology into almost every single model line possible and it must do so to survive.

Reason being is that BMW isn’t the only German car company that’s doing this, as both the entire Volkswagen Group and Mercedes-Benz are working hard on this new generation of EVs as well.
» Read the rest of this entry «

Aftermarket: Tesla Model S to get wireless charging from April

February 23rd, 2016 § Comments Off on Aftermarket: Tesla Model S to get wireless charging from April § permalink

Aftermarket specialists can now add wireless charging functionality to your Tesla Model S

Wireless charging specialists Plugless have announced plans to introduce a system that can top up your Tesla EV without the need for lengthy and cumbersome cables.

Owners will be able to charge their Tesla Model S by simply parking on top of the inductive charging pad. Parent company Evatran is taking pre-orders in the US now for first installations in April, though there is no word on when the technology will reach the UK.

In the US, however, a similar system for a Nissan Leaf costs around £1,000. As the Tesla has bigger batteries, you would expect the relevant Plugless pad to command a slight price premium – though installation is included in the price.

For now, the setup is only available for rear-wheel drive Model S cars. The Dual Motor all-wheel drive models aren’t currently compatible, though Evatran says it is working to make Plugless available on all Tesla models in the near future. This will include the Model X and forthcoming Model 3 in due course.

The Plugless system is totally weatherproof, so can be installed both in garages and on driveways. It’s not as fast as Tesla’s innovative Supercharger network, though, with the company claiming only 20 miles of added range for every hour the car is left charging. That means a Model S with the 70 kWh battery would take 13 hours to realise its 260-mile maximum.

We’ll have more information on the Evatan’s wireless charging system – including any plans for UK release – in the coming months.

from: http://www.autoexpress.co.uk/tesla/model-s/94505/tesla-model-s-to-get-wireless-charging-from-april

Lamp posts with charging points and free parking for green cars: Four cities get £40m pot to improve electric-car infrastructure

January 25th, 2016 § Comments Off on Lamp posts with charging points and free parking for green cars: Four cities get £40m pot to improve electric-car infrastructure § permalink

A fund of £40 million will be spread across four towns and cities in a Government bid to promote the uptake of electric and plug-in hybrid cars, it was announced on Monday.

Local authorities competed for a share of the pot, with Nottingham, Bristol, Milton Keynes and London being the big winners of the electric-vehicle investment, the Depart of Transport confirmed.

The money from the Go Ultra Low City Scheme will now be used to boost the infrastructure for alternative-fuel vehicles in the UK new new proposals predicted to save commuters up to £1,300 a year.

Electric-car boost: A new £40m pot to improve the infrastructure for charging electric and plug-in hybird cars has been awarded to four UK cities, the DfT announced. Erik Fairbairn, ceo of POD Point, is pictured here.

» Read the rest of this entry «

100 electric car charging stations to be installed around Oxford in world’s biggest scheme

January 25th, 2016 § Comments Off on 100 electric car charging stations to be installed around Oxford in world’s biggest scheme § permalink

ONE HUNDRED new charging points will be created in residential streets in Oxford to make electric vehicle ownership possible for 16,000 extra homes.

The largest pilot of its kind in the world will begin when 30 trial points of various kinds are installed in pavements and lampposts by the end of this year.

The most successful types of charger points will then be rolled out in 100 residential streets around the city, probably from 2018.

Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council hope to encourage thousands more people to buy electric cars to help cut emissions in the city.

City executive board member for climate change, John Tanner, said: “Climate change and poor air quality are two of the biggest issues facing Oxford and we all need to do everything we can to cut vehicle emissions.

“However, for people living in Oxford’s beautiful but narrow terraced streets, charging an electric car is a real problem. This project aims to remove that barrier.

“By installing 100 electric charging points, we are going to turn the Oxford into a city filled with electric avenues.” » Read the rest of this entry «

Nissan Will Make More EV Batteries in the UK, Along with New Electric Vehicles

January 23rd, 2016 § Comments Off on Nissan Will Make More EV Batteries in the UK, Along with New Electric Vehicles § permalink

Nissan has committed to making more batteries for electric vehicles in the United Kingdom. The Japanese company will use its Sunderland factory to make the next generation of batteries for electric cars. The £26,5 million ($37,5 million) investment safeguards 300 highly skilled (and well paid) jobs at the 30-year-old plant. 

If you are wondering why this is a big deal, you should know that Nissan’s Sunderland plant is the largest facility in the history of the United Kingdom. Furthermore, the change will make this specific factory the largest lithium-ion battery plant of its kind in Europe. 

Nissan has been making electric cars in Sunderland since 2013, when it invested £420 million ($595 million) in accommodating the production of the Leaf and its components. 

The highly skilled workers did not come out of the sky, as Nissan partnered with several Universities and other technology partners to pave the way for future engineers that would further develop batteries for electric vehicles.

Nissan makes batteries for its EV in three factories across the world. The other European plant used by Nissan to make battery modules for one of its electric models, the e-NV200 electric van, is found in Barcelona, Spain. 

The Leaf was recently updated, and the new version will be available at dealers across Europe starting this month. The car has an upgraded range of 155 miles (250 kilometers). However, the Leaf is not Nissan’s first electric vehicle. The first prototype of this type was made by the carmaker 68 years ago, and it was called the Tama Electric Vehicle. 

The Japanese brand also marketed the world’s first electric car with a lithium-ion battery in 1996, the Prairie Joy EV. Thanks to that vehicle, Nissan engineers were able to develop the company’s first mass-produced EV, the Leaf. 

Investing in making new electric cars is not enough to make them attractive. All carmakers that invested in this technology have rolled out their quick-charging solutions. 

In the case of Nissan and Renault, the two alliance partners developed the CHAdeMO Quick Chargers. Currently, there are almost 10,000 CHAdeMO chargers worldwide, each capable of charging a Leaf’s battery from the “low level” alert to 80% capacity in just 30 minutes.

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