Ford’s Big Bet on Electric Cars as It Invests in the U.S. Plant

2016_A&M–Commerce_Homecoming_Parade_03_(Pres._Emer._Keith_McFarland_and_Nancy)The first few days of 2017 have been significant to Ford Motor Co. A lot of attention has particularly been geared towards the company’s move to opt against setting up a Mexico manufacturing plant worth more than a billion dollars. Instead, Ford plans to invest about $700 million in its Michigan plant, which will help in creating jobs for 700 Americans. Though it might seem that the decision was prompted by some high-profile individuals, this is not the case. The reason behind the change of plans is Ford’s independent analysis of the company’s business imperatives.

However, it would also be essential to consider other news related to Ford. Earlier in the week, Ford gave details concerning its increasing commitment to producing electric cars. It particularly emphasized expanding its offerings in the coming years. One of the notable moves is the automaker’s plan to produce a small electric SUV. This SUV will have an approximate range of about 300 miles. This information concerning the car was obtained from a press release issued by the company. The designing of the new SUV will take place from the ground up, contrary to utilizing an existing car platform. Ford’s electric vehicle champion and Purchasing Vice President, Hau Thai-Tang, gave information on the automaker’s new approach through a telephone interview.

Thai-Tang explained that this was the very first time that the automaker had optimized a full-battery electric car’s architecture. This would give the company the opportunity to give consumers the full merits of an electric car. The benefits will be in terms of the car’s engineering configuration and the vehicle packaging. It will also provide occupants with an optimized experience. In addition to developing a fully electric SUV, Ford also plans to launch a number of hybrid electric cars in by the year 2022. These cars will help in showcasing the clear advantages of electrification, which go beyond fuel-efficiency merits.

Three iconic sub-brands will specifically receive the hybrid treatment. Hybrid versions will be added to both F-150 pickup truck and Mustang lines. A plug-in hybrid will be incorporated into the company’s commercial car sector. In Mustang’s case, the addition of the hybrid technology is expected to help the company in showcasing both the low-end torque and performance. For the hybrid F-150, capability will be showcased and the Transit’s role will be enhancing productivity. Productivity, capability and performance are the attributes that define the major benefits of electrification other than fuel efficiency.

Leave a Comment January 13, 2017

The Next Leaf Confirmed at CES by Nissan’s CEO

'16_Nissan_Leaf_(MIAS_'16)According to a statement made by Carlos Ghosn, Nissan CEO, a second-generation Nissan Leaf is set to be produced in the next few years. He however, did not give additional information about the date, driving range or model year. Nissan managed to develop a lithium-ion battery of 60-kWh as per the suggestions made during 2015’s Tokyo Motor Show regarding the concept vehicle reveal. In January 2015, Ghosn further stated that the automaker was developing a battery with a range of 200 miles. Recently, a Renault electric vehicle, ZOE, was introduced and stated to have a 186 mile range.

Shortly before Ghosn’s speech, Nissan’s Vice-President of Advanced Engineering and Research, Takao Asami said told reporters that the next Nissan Leaf would have a range of more than 200 miles. He further added that the automaker had the plans of introducing a charge rate of 150 kilowatts. Asami noted that Nissan was considering developing batteries of different sizes and different driving ranges for North America, Europe and Asia. The keynote address by Ghosn revolved around the upcoming connected and autonomous vehicle technology. The model is set to have the ProPilot technology that enables the functionality of an autonomous drive for highway driving. For the connected vehicles, Ghosn said that NASA introduced the artificial intelligent technology that is currently referred to as Seamless Autonomous Mobility.

The technology in question plays a crucial role in bridging the gap between the roads populated by human drivers and those filled with autonomous traffic. Ghosn also noted that Nissan has diverse types of electrified technology that includes a series hybrid, the e-Power. The power required by the e-Note’s wheels is provided by an electric motor, which generates electricity from a battery pack. A gasoline engine is used for charging the battery pack. Hence, the car’s fuel economy is comparable to that of hybrid vehicles, though the driving is similar to that of electric cars. The big question is regarding the exact date that the new Nissan Leaf is set to be revealed to the general public. Reports indicate that this new vehicle may be available as early as this coming week. Consumers may get the opportunity to see the car for the very first time during Detroit’s auto show. Alternatively, the waiting period may extend till Tokyo’s Motor show that is scheduled for October. Regardless of this uncertainty regarding the actual release date, the full details of the car should be expected any time from now.

Leave a Comment January 13, 2017

Focus Shifting to Used Electric Vehicle Market

2016_tesla_model_s_90d_hatchback_27201717953Since the electric car resurged less than ten years ago, the market for used electric vehicles has been down with the exception of the occasional deal. The main reason for the observed trend is that the market in question is still very small. However, things are changing as the market is becoming significantly more active. This is attributed to the ending of leases. It is therefore, advisable to focus attention in 2017 to the used electric vehicle market. Cars rarely stay on the lot when they are returned after their lease use if over and the car is returned to the dealership. More often than not, such cars are put on wholesale auctions so that other dealerships can acquire them.

Car dealers can access these wholesale inventories, which is a great way of knowing the amount of money paid and the manner in which the market is evolving. Considering the current costs of 2013 electric vehicles, timing is perfect since three-year leases will be ending by now, and it is evident that there is a significant drop in price at the level of wholesale. The selling prices of different used electric vehicles can be obtained from the auction sites. For example, the 2013’s Tesla Model S has a selling price of $31,000. An interesting fact about Tesla and its Model S is that contrary to other car manufacturers, Tesla has direct control of the majority of the second-hand vehicle market for its cars. This control is attributed to the automaker’s direct sales model. This is why it is hard to get the model anywhere else apart from the company. Currently, it is difficult to get a pre-owned certified Model S. To be fair, Tesla sells the model for less than fifty thousand dollars with a new warranty.

Since the real conditions of these cars are not clearly known, it is difficult to state whether the deals are so good. Regardless of this fact, consumers can still opt for a Model S for its affordable cost. Other models include the Fiat 500e, which sells for only $4,000. The starting price of a new Fiat model is about $31,800. These prices are really good for three-year old vehicles that have relatively low mileage. Although the prices have not gone down drastically, there is still a good reason for consumers to keep their eyes on next year’s used car market. The production and delivery of electric vehicles in high volumes started in 2013-2014. Hence, the used electric car supply will be significantly high this year and next year.

Leave a Comment January 6, 2017

Oregon Plans to Boost the Adoption of Electric Cars

_13_fiat_500eIt is evident that following numerous years of increasing electric vehicle sales, the utilities of electric cars are gearing toward establishing useful infrastructure. Two weeks ago, a utility in California, PG&E gave the approval for installing more than seven thousand plug-in cars charging stations. Oregon has now followed suit and confirmed its plan to enhance electrified transportation. It will do so by not only setting up new charging sites, but also educating the public on the advantages of electric vehicles, as well as boosting the purchases of electric buses. These plans were jointly filed by the Pacific Power and Portland General Electric (PGE).

Six public, electric-vehicle charging locations will be built by PGE in downtown Portland at the “Electric Avenue” site. Each of the sites will have around four standard charging stations in addition to a Level 2 connector of 240-Volt. PGE will also set up and run charging sites that will be used for electric buses operated by TriMet in Portland. Consequently, capital will be freed to allow boosting of electric bus purchases by the transit agency. Pacific Power will also install charging sites and lower specific electric rates, which will make electricity cheaper for fast-charging site operators.

A plan for Coal Transition and Clean Electricity was passed by Oregon last spring. The plan eliminates the use of coal by PGE and Pacific Power by the year 2030. It also requires the generation of fifty percent of the electricity from sources that are renewable by the year 2040. Both utilities plan to establish pilot programs that will help in conveying information on the best practices for demand response, car to grid technology and fleet electrification. The program will also involve offering financial help to consumers interested in innovative community-based car electrification ideas.

Both utility plans will also be involved in consumer education and outreach efforts to raise awareness on the merits of electric vehicles. According to the Executive Director of Drive Oregon advocacy group, Jeff Allen, the exciting bit is the consumer engagement component of these plans. A majority of Oregon residents are not aware of the fact that there are more than twenty electric car models that can be bought today. They are also unaware of the fact that they can lease six of the models for approximately $200 per month. Oregonians need to be educated on the benefits that they can reap from electric cars, as well as the fact that driving such cars is a fun-filled experience. They are worth purchasing and driving.

 

Leave a Comment January 6, 2017

Toyota to Share Its Hybrid Technology with Major Competitors

toyota_prius_plug-in_hybrid_-_paris_motor_show_2016_01Toyota has made quite a number of remarkable decisions over the past half year concerning its present, as well as future vehicle technologies. After opposing the battery-electric cars for several years, the automaker has finally made a commitment to launch one by the year 2020. Now, Toyota has made the decision to share its hybrid technology with other automakers. This decision was announced in the last two weeks as a part of the company’s power train strategies. The move by the automaker marks an evident change of course.

Since the launch of the Prius Hybrid in 1997 in Japan, the automaker has been known to fiercely guard and protect its hybrid-electric technology. A few licensing deals have been signed including one with Nissan for an Altima hybrid (2007-2011 models) that have been sold in the United States. Toyota also signed a deal with Mazda for the Mazda 3 compact hybrid that was sold solely in Japan. A notable aspect concerning those deals is that they were not only limited, but also fairly low-volume. According to the description given in a report by Reuters, Toyota has a plan of working with the suppliers at an early stage to allow standardization of components and make it easy for other automakers to utilize its hybrid technology.

The fourth generation of Toyota Prius was launched last year. The car’s drive is considerably better, while its fuel-efficiency is also better compared to the previous versions. Unfortunately, the sales seem to have lagged, probably due to factors such as continued cheap gasoline, a change in consumer preferences, and the model’s extreme styling. Toyota also made a shocking decision in its 2017’s Prius Prime, which is the most recent plug-in hybrid. The latest technology defaults the vehicle to run only in the electric mode when the battery charge is still present. This is contrary to a majority of other plug-in hybrid cars except the Chevrolet Volt.

There has been an increased understanding of the advantages of fully-electric propulsion by Toyota. The strategy of sharing the hybrid technology would be of a long-term nature. Changes will be made to technical standards and parts specifications, with most of them being invisible to buyers. The suppliers of Toyota have been known to produce technology that can only be utilized by Toyota. As the simple battery-electric cars gradually gain market popularity, they have a high likelihood of surpassing the continually low market penetration of hybrid cars. Either way, consumers should get ready for more hybrid cars utilizing the Toyota technology. The company is trying to match up to its competitors including Tesla and General Motors.

 

Leave a Comment December 30, 2016

Lucid Motors to Reveal an Air Electric Sedan Car in 2019

Courtesy of insideevs.com

Reports indicate that that Lucid Air will have the capacity to cover up to four hundred miles on a single charge. The key question is the length of time or period it would take for the car to be produced and sold. This startup electric vehicle manufacturer, formerly known as Atieva, made an  announcement last week concerning its plans to produce an Air sedan. It further revealed an interesting photo gallery of the vehicle in question. Now, Lucid Motors hopes that deliveries will begin in early 2019. Production is set to start in 2018 at the new assembly plant worth $700 million in Casa Grande, Arizona. The plant will break ground early next year. Lucid’s Global Manufacturing Director, Brian Barron, confirmed the above information during an interview with Automotive News, adding that the timeline was quite aggressive.

Baron spent around twenty years working for one of the most popular automaker models, the BMW. Because of his vast experience, Lucid Motors believes in Barron to lead and ensure that the Lucid Air sedan is delivered within the set timeline. One of the challenges that Lucid faces is that of introducing a car manufacturing plant to the community for the very first time. Currently, the startup is working collaboratively with community colleges around the area of Casa Grande to not only train, but also hire and certify workers who would enhance production. Barron said that when BMW was established in South Carolina, the region had no automotive industry. Textile industries were the most common.

The state of Arizona has transformed from farming and mining and has become attractive to external investors. The popularity of the location has further increased because of its close proximity to interstate highways linked to the West Coast’s major ports, flight and rail routes. Lucid is trying as much as it can to streamline the process. A positive move is to have a third party that would handle the part of the assembly inside the plant. Currently, Lucid is facing a historic challenge that is usually encountered by startup car manufacturers. The automaker has to grab the interest and attention of the market, followed by manufacturing of the vehicles within a timeframe that is realistic, at a reasonable cost. The company has to set up a factory within a short time. Additionally, Lucid Motors has to compete with major car manufacturers such as Tesla Motors, as well as other startups such as Faraday Future, Karma Automotive and Fisker Inc. The automaker plans to roll out 255 units in 2019.

Leave a Comment December 30, 2016

Lucid Reveals a New Luxury Sedan

Lucid Air - CNET

Lucid Air – CNET

Lucid Motors unveiled its much anticipated electric vehicle with a projected range of more than 400 miles. The car’s acceleration is also high, and it intends to exceed any model that Tesla plans to offer. The luxury sedan in question will give the experience of a luxury jet. Additionally, it will ooze an air of sophistication and elegance, considering its state-of-the-art self-driving capabilities, aircraft-style seating, and high-resolution computer displays. The company hopes that production will start in 2018 at Arizona’s $700 million factory. The pricing will be comparable to that of Tesla Model S. Its 1000 horsepower electric car variant will have a starting price of about $100,000. Next in line will be an electric vehicle with a retail price of $65,000.

Lucid comprises of 300 employees, as the core team aims to improve on the key features present in Tesla’s Model X or S. It also plans to emphasize on creating an interior that is more traditionally luxurious compared to Tesla’s minimalist style. Chief Technical Officer of Lucid, Peter Rawlinson, was previously the lead engineer in Tesla’s Model S development. Derek Jenkins, the design’s vice president was formerly the leader of Mazda’s design center in North America. We are yet to see how this automaker will keep up with the strong competition from Tesla, which is better-established. It will also be forced to battle electric cars having a range of 200-300 miles from major automakers.

The Lucid Air will set a new standard on the performance of the luxury electric vehicles. For instance, it will have a unique two-seat design that allows the seats to recline up to fifty-five degrees. It will also have air suspension design allowing the inversion of the normal engineering to bring the springs nearer to the wheels. Many design themes will also incorporate natural materials, such as textured woven and leather fabrics. Other notable features are 29-speaker audio systems, optional glass and active noise cancellation. The car will also have focused microphones for passengers to use the car’s language voice system. This feature will improve the accuracy of infotainment and navigation requests in the same way as Apple’s Siri.

Recently, the company made an announcement of its collaboration with Samsung’s SDI to produce battery cells with high-power density and energy. The Director of Lucid’s battery technology, Albert Liu, said that Lucid Air will utilize battery cells that offer resilience when charging at high-speeds so as to reduce loss of energy capacity over the car’s lifetime.

Leave a Comment December 23, 2016

General Motors’ Plan to Produce Autonomous Chevrolet Bolt

chevrolet-boltGeneral Motors has a plan of taking advantage of the new self-driving auto law implemented in Michigan. With the production of Chevy Bolt, GM will be the first car manufacturer to produce autonomous cars. According to Mary Barra, the CEO of GM, the automaker is set to immediately start conducting tests for the self-driving Chevy Bolts within the Detroit area. The testing in question is expected to begin as early as January 2017. Doug Parks, the vice president of General Motors said that the automaker has already started testing around 40 autonomous Bolts in Scottsdale, Arizona, and San Francisco. The test runs in Michigan will be on a larger scale compared to the ones currently going on.

The automaker is set to utilize Michigan’s self-driving vehicle policy, as well as current severe weather conditions that take place in Michigan. Mary Barra said that the main objective is to make sure that the autonomous cars produced can be driven safely in all roads and weather conditions. A few days ago, Rick Snyder, the Michigan governor, signed legislation that gave automakers, as well as technology partners, a go-ahead to implement, test, and market autonomous cars in the state. The policy covers more than what has been enacted in other states. It allows for the removal of brake pedals and steering wheels. It also gives companies the permission to provide ride-hailing options with their autonomous cars.

Assembling of the autonomous Bolts will be held at the General Motors plant situated in Orion Township. Non-autonomous fully-electric Chevy Bolts are produced within the same plant along with Chevrolet Sonic subcompact vehicle. The workers of GM will incorporate some of the Chevy Bolt’s sensors, Lidar (radar that uses light rather than sound), and cameras, as well as test out other autonomous technology. So far, testing has been been done only on private roads located a mile from the General Motors technical center. Barra stated that the automaker will open up testing to nearby roads followed by expansion throughout Detroit.

Chevrolet dealers started selling non-autonomous Bolts in Oregon and California this week. The market will be expanded to Virginia, Massachusetts, and New York in early next year. Around mid next year, the Bolt will have spread nationwide. General Motors has been conducting road testing for self-driving cars for many years, and now it has become a significant push by car manufacturers, technology companies, and auto suppliers to increase the popularity of autonomous cars on the United States roads. Tesla Model X and Model S equipped with full autonomy hardware are under production. The anticipated Model 3 will also have it.

 

Leave a Comment December 23, 2016

Hybrid Cars that Take Less than Three Years to Pay Back

2017-ford-fusion-hybrid

Ford Fusion 2017hybridcarsuv.com

While critics have raised questions concerning the higher cost of alternative energy cars compared to conventional cars, there are some hybrid cars that are worth a purchase. Owners of these cars are likely to be paid back in less than three years. The pay back is possible within the three years even in the absence of government subsidies, which are usually available for plug-in vehicles.

Toyota’s 2016 Avalon Hybrid

This hybrid car would pay back in about 2.8 years. The Avalon is one of Toyota’s top range sedans that is likened to a Lexus having Toyota’s badge. It also closely resembles the non-hybrid version of Avalon. It is known for saving fuel. Its powertrain is a 2.5 liter Hybrid Synergy and was coined from the Camry Hybrid. The non-hybrid version’s powertrain has a capacity of 3.5 liters with a range of 24 mpg. Although the non-hybrid model is more powerful, EPA figures indicate that the Avalon hybrid can save up to 540 dollars annually.

Honda’s 2017 Accord Hybrid Touring

Honda was on a hiatus for model year 2016 and then came back with a revised version of the Accord Hybrid. This car is high-tech and gives a range of 48 mpg. Its non-hybrid counterpart has a range of 25 mpg. The power of the Accord hybrid is also greater in comparison to that of a V6. In terms of price, the hybrid costs $1,305 more, but according to the EPA figures, savings for the hybrid car amount to $621 annually.

Ford’s 2016 Fusion Hybrid Titanium

This model was released this year, with the updated model for 2017 available for sale now. The 2016 hybrid model’s cost is only $160 more than the non-hybrid Fusion Titanium. It promises a range of 41 mpg in comparison to the non-hybrid’s 26 mpg. The 2016 Fusion is likely to pay back in less than five months with the approximate annual savings amounting to $456. The updated 2017 Fusion now gives a range of 42 mpg, with its pricing remaining reasonable.

Lincoln’s 2016 MKZ Hybrid

The pricing policy of Ford for its upper scale Fusion becomes better for the MKZ Hybrid of the Lincoln division. The hybrid luxury car has a hybrid engine with a capacity of 2 liters, while the non-hybrid version has a turbocharged engine with a capacity of 2 liters, as well. There is also a V6 with a rating of 21 mpg. The hybrid, which the gas-saver within the family, offers plenty of power with a range of 40 mpg.

 

Leave a Comment December 16, 2016

Supercapacitor Breakthrough to Allow Electric Cars to Charge within Seconds

BMW i3 Electric

BMW i3 Electric

Augmented Optics, a technological firm, has manufactured a supercapacitor material that allows electric cars to be charged as fast as refueling a normal car. This innovation threatens to make lithium-ion batteries useless. The new material that is set to serve as a replacement for conventional batteries comes as a polymer utilizing the soft contact-lens technology. This technology may increase the performance of the electronic components of the supercapacitors, which play the role of storing and distributing high power volumes. Polymers are composed of organic molecules that have repeated sub-units bonded together into a three-dimensional system.

Tests have been done on the new material by researchers from the University of Bristol and the University of Surrey in Great Britain. Their test findings reveal that the material’s effectiveness is a thousand to ten thousand times more compared to current supercapacitors. Augmented Optics’ technical director, Dr. Donald Highgate said the technology has a high potential. Hughes added that if the material is as good as it is thought to be, it may entirely replace battery technology. It will be shocking to vehicle manufacturers if this new technology turns out to be disruptive. However, cars could still be manufactured on similar factory lines. This project has been kept a secret until this point, with global patents having been filed last week.

A key advantage of supercapacitors is their capability of charging and discharging quickly through numerous cycles. Unfortunately, the efficiency that the current supercapacitors have on holding charges is not as high as that of batteries. For example, some supercapacitors utilized by buses in China need recharging every three to four miles. With the new material, supercapacitors now have a storage capacity that is closer to that of lithium-ion batteries. They have the additional benefit of cheaper costs of production and immediate recharging.

Dr. Ian Hamerton , one of the project’s scientists from the University of Bristol said that they initially did not consider the automotive industry. However, as the findings were revealed, it was evident that this technology would be adopted by the car industry. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors said that he was sure the supercapacitors were a breakthrough for the auto industry, especially for electric cars. According to Augmented Optics’ Chief Executive, Jim Heathcote, the group is in search of partners to whom it can offer assistance in building these storage devices and supplying the polymers. Auto Express reported that the team plans to produce a prototype electric vehicle by the year 2017. Owners of this car will be able to charge it in a few seconds with a driving range of about 150 miles.

 

 

Leave a Comment December 16, 2016

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