Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Lucid (nee Atieva) to build luxury electric cars in Arizona factory

Teaser for Lucid electric car
Teaser for Lucid electric car

Lucid Motors has become the latest startup automaker proposing to build electric cars in the U.S.
The company—formerly known as Atieva—says it plans to break ground next year on a new factory in Casa Grande, Arizona.

Lucid will begin production of its first electric car by 2018, it said in a statement, and expects to employ more than 2,000 people at the factory by 2022.
The ambitious timeline can't help but bring to mind another new automaker—Faraday Future.
Faraday too said it plans to put an electric car into production within two years, and earlier this year it broke ground on its own factory in North Las Vegas, Nevada.
While Faraday still apparently plans to unveil its first production model at CES in January, work on the factory has stopped, seemingly due to unpaid bills.
Teaser for Lucid electric car
Teaser for Lucid electric car

Faraday received a generous package of incentives from the state of Nevada to locate its factory there, but Lucid so far hasn't discussed any incentives offered by Arizona.
It said the site-selection process began over a year ago, and that more than 60 potential sites in 13 states were considered.
Casa Grande was chosen for its "pro-business mindset," available workforce, nearby academic institutions, the company's release said, as well as its proximity to Lucid's Silicon Valley headquarters and suppliers.

The factory is to be overseen by Lucid director of manufacturing Brian Barron, an 18-year veteran of BMW.
The electric car to be built there is expected to be a fast luxury sedan that competes with the Tesla Model S, which has been in production since 2012 and is regularly updated.
Thought to be called Atvus, the Lucid car will reportedly be a mid-size luxury sedan close to the BMW 5-Series in size.
Teaser for Lucid electric car
Teaser for Lucid electric car

It is expected to use a dual-motor powertrain, supposedly producing as much as 900 horsepower.
Lucid has demonstrated this powertrain hardware in "Edna," a Mercedes-Benz Metris van converted into a test vehicle.

In videos that circulated over the summer, Edna dispatches a Model S, a Ferrari California T, and other high-end performance cars in drag races.
In an interview last month, Lucid CTO Peter Rawlinson mentioned a top speed of more than 200 mph, a range of at least 300 miles—and possibly as high as 400 miles in some versions.
Teaser for Lucid electric car
Teaser for Lucid electric car

Lucid (then Atieva) was founded in 2007 by a former Tesla vice president and the founder of a networking company.
It started out developing monitoring and control software for battery packs used in electric vehicles to be produced by other companies.
Insiders suggest, however, that the company's founders always had a long-term goal of building its own vehicles.

Atieva eventually decided to build its own electric cars, and secured investments for that purpose from Chinese automaker BAIC (Beijing Automotive Industry Corp.).
It then received additional funds from Jia Yueting, billionaire and founder of Chinese tech giant LeEco.
Jia is also one of the main backers of the troubled Faraday Future.

European Electric Carmakers Announce Major Ultra-Fast Charging Network


If things go to plan for a pervasive ultra-fast charging network in Europe, by 2020 automakers will make publically recharging electric cars as convenient as a fuel station stop.
That’s the takeaway from an ambitious collaboration announced today by BMW Group, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen Group with Audi and Porsche.
As they anticipate a profound ramp up in plug-in electric cars starting now, the major automakers say they are investing in an initial 400 ultra-fast charging 350-kW sites along critical highways.
“By 2020, consumers should have access to thousands of high-powered charging points,” said Ford on behalf of fellow collaborators in outlining the undertaking.
While estimated recharge times were not given – and ultimately will depend on how large a battery needs to be filled – the up-to 350 kW charge standard is significantly above anything now in service, including Tesla Superchargers.
 Tesla cars cannot presently use CCS chargers. They can use CHAdeMO chargers via an adapter that Tesla sells for $450 in the U.S. That adapter is limited by specification to CHAdeMO's existing 125A specification (really 62.5 kW but sometimes called 50 kW) specification.
Tesla cars cannot presently use CCS fast chargers. They can use CHAdeMO chargers via an adapter that Tesla sells for $450 in the U.S. That adapter is limited by specification to CHAdeMO’s existing 125A specification (really 62.5 kW but sometimes called 50 kW) specification.

Indeed, the planned faster network using a competing charge standard, while not stated by the collaborators, appears to be a direct response to Tesla’s Supercharger network, Tesla has also announced aggressive EV expansion plans and recently said it plans a new joint Gigafactory battery plant and car assembly plant in Europe.
On that note, the collaborators have agreed to use the Combined Charging System (CCS) standard, with the aim of being as inclusive – not exclusive – of as many EV makers as possible, assuming they also design cars compatible with this standard.
At the Paris Motor Show, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche introduced its new EQ brand. The move parallels ongoing initiatives by VW Group and BMW.
At the Paris Motor Show, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche introduced its new EQ brand. The move parallels ongoing initiatives by VW Group and BMW.

The automakers, who will be equal partners in the collaboration, say their next-generation battery electric vehicles will be optimized to take advantage of the quick fill, and they invite other automakers to join in.
“Vehicles engineered to accept the full power of the charge stations can recharge brand-independently in a fraction of the time of today’s battery electric vehicles,” said Ford on behalf of the collaborating manufacturers. “The network is intended to serve all Combined Charging System-equipped vehicles to facilitate battery electric vehicle adoption in Europe.
Unstated is exactly how much money all this will cost.
“The automobile manufacturers intend to make substantial investments to create the network, underscoring each company’s belief in the future of electric mobility,” said Ford.
Otherwise, the chief executives of the different brands all gave their take on why they are doing it, led off with BMW which has its i-brand represented by the i3 and i8.

“This high-power charging network provides motorists with another strong argument to move toward electric mobility,” said Harald Kr├╝ger, chairman of the board of management of BMW AG. “The BMW Group has initiated numerous public charging infrastructure projects over the last years. The joint project is another major milestone clearly demonstrating that competitors are combining forces to ramp up e-mobility.”
BMW was one of the companies who in October said it wants 15-25 percent of its sales coming from plug-in electrified cars. While it got an early head start on electrification, it’s caught criticism for being slow to develop new i-series models faster.
Today’s news indicates it has not at all lost the vision, which in turn is shared by rival Daimler AG which in October announced its EQ brand, and plans for 15-25 percent of all sales to be plug-in by 2025.
Generation EQ.
Generation EQ.

“The breakthrough of e-mobility requires two things: convincing vehicles and a comprehensive charging infrastructure. With our new brand EQ, we are launching our electric product offensive: by 2025, our portfolio will include more than 10 fully electric passenger cars. Together with our partners, we are now installing the highest-powered charging infrastructure in Europe,” said Dr. Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the board of management of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. “The availability of high-power stations allows long-distance e-mobility for the first time and will convince more and more customers to opt for an electric vehicle.”
Audi e-tron Quattro.
Audi e-tron Quattro.

And not to be forgotten is the VW Group, which intends 30 battery electric cars spread among its 13 brands by 2025, and said this year it wants 20-25 percent of sales coming from plug-in cars by 2025.
Brands Americans know, aside from VW, are Porsche and Audi.
“We intend to create a network that allows our customers on long-distance trips to use a coffee break for recharging,” said Rupert Stadler, chairman of the board of management of AUDI AG. “Reliable, fast charging services are a key factor for drivers to choose an electric vehicle. With this cooperation, we want to boost broader market adoption of e-mobility and speed up the shift toward emission-free driving.”
The one U.S. based carmaker doing business in Europe that’s collaborating in the charging network initiative, Ford, says it too is on board, as it otherwise reinvents itself into a mobility company.
“A reliable, ultra-fast charging infrastructure is important for mass consumer adoption and has the potential to transform the possibilities for electric driving,” said Mark Fields, president and CEO, Ford Motor Company. “Ford is committed to developing vehicles and technologies that make people’s lives better, and this charging network will make it easier and more practical for consumers across Europe to own electrified vehicles.”
“There are two decisive aspects for us: ultra-fast charging and placing the charging stations at the right positions,” said Oliver Blume, chairman of the executive board of Porsche AG. “Together, these two factors enable us to travel in an all-electrically powered car as in a conventional combustion engine vehicle. As an automobile manufacturer, we actively shape our future, not only by developing all-electrically powered vehicles, but by building up the necessary infrastructure as well.”
“There are two decisive aspects for us: ultra-fast charging and placing the charging stations at the right positions,” said Oliver Blume, chairman of the executive board of Porsche AG. “Together, these two factors enable us to travel in an all-electrically powered car as in a conventional combustion engine vehicle. As an automobile manufacturer, we actively shape our future, not only by developing all-electrically powered vehicles, but by building up the necessary infrastructure as well.”

The carmakers call the initiative an “unprecedented collaboration” but more will need to be seen. Plans are to get started in 2017 and appear to add substance to the push to make EVs mainstream.
Behind it all are of course regulations forcing automakers to clean up their fleets. The Paris Accord on climate change in 2015 also saw 195 nations agree that the world faces a deadline to slow the rate of global temperature increase.
These forces backed by threat to the ecosystems and environments of the world are the lever that appears to be moving formerly reluctant players to embrace electrification.
These are truly unique times in the history of motorized transportation.

Toyota Discovers Way To Increase Battery Capacity By 15%

There is perhaps no mainstream automaker that has been more dismissive of electric vehicles than Toyota. So imagine my surprise when I read the Japanese automaker’s announcement that it had observed lithium-ion deviation in batteries, allowing for as much as a 15% increase in range and capacity of current battery technology. Is Toyota having second thoughts when it comes to hydrogen fuel-cell technology?
“The lithium-ion battery is a key technology for electrifying cars, and there is a clear need, going forward, for improving this technology and its performance even more,” said Toyota battery technology researcher Hisao Yamashige in the announcement. The so-called lithium ion deviation, which occurs in electrodes and the electrolyte as a result of charging/discharging, is believed to be responsible for both peak battery performance and eventual degradation, though researchers aren’t exactly sure why as the deviation was not possible to observe with standard scientific instruments.
Instead, Toyota turned to the SPring-8 synchrotron radiation facility which, according to Wikipedia, “…is used for materials analysis and biochemical protein characterization by many Japanese manufacturers and universities.” The facility also grants free use of their equipment, so long as the companies publish their results. I’m guessing Toyota saved quite a bit of money by sharing it with the public.
Toyota’s corporate line has been that electric vehicles are only good for short-range driving, and that hydrogen fuel-cells are a better option as a replacement for current car technology. Just last month, however, the automaker was rumored to be preparing a line of long-range electric vehicles for launch in 2020. Armed with this new information, Toyota could have a sizable advantage over other traditional automakers if it can offer 15% more driving range at a comparable price.
The flip side of this coin is that Toyota Mirai sales haven’t exactly been booming, hindered by a slow rollout of hydrogen fueling stations. Has Toyota seen the light? Or is the automaker merely keeping its options open?

Monday, November 28, 2016

2017 Honda Rebel 300 – the First All-new Rebel, EVER

2017 Honda Rebel - All New
Since its introduction in 1985, the Honda Rebel has been a staple of motorcycle instructor courses and “best beginner bikes” lists everywhere. On paper, it was tough beat the agile, lightweight, low-priced 250 cc twin and its cruiser-inspired looks. For the last thirty years, the Rebel has remained a Honda motorcycle staple. An unchanged Honda motorcycle staple. But, last week, all that changed. Say hello, then, to the first all-new Rebel ever: the 2017 Honda Rebel 300.

The new Honda Rebel is, indeed, all-new. Gone is the old, air-cooled twin. In its place, a torquey, modern, liquid-cooled single. The old-school cruiser looks are replaced with something more modern. More Indian Scout or Yamaha Bolt than Harley Sportster, too, it must be said- especially since the Japanese cruisers have often been accused of playing copycat. At first glance, though, the trellis-style frame on the new 2017 Honda Rebel reads “90s Ducati” to me. And that’s high praise.
Once again, Honda is offering the Rebel in two sizes- both up 50 cc from the original CMX250 and CMX450 models. The Honda Rebel 300 is the single, again, while the new Rebel 500 makes use of a 471 cc parallel twin engine. The better to steal sales from Kawasaki’s Vulcan 500, obviously.
You can check out Honda’s official press release and photos, below, along with some of the initial pricing that was released last week. Pricing and availability for the new Rebel are yet to be confirmed, but the “guesses” come from Honda, so- probably close? We’ll see.

All-new 2017 Honda Rebel 300 + 500

New Honda Rebel 300 Rebel 500
Honda today introduced a pair of progressive customs that fuse tradition with groundbreaking new ideas and perspectives while providing ample scope for owner customization. Offering a fresh take on custom cool, the Rebel 500 and Rebel 300 mix old- and new-school style and are engaging and fun to ride, with an outlook geared toward firing the imagination of a younger generation of riders.
Development for the Rebel 500 and Rebel 300 began in the U.S., with the objective of referencing a timeless look while also introducing a forward-thinking, contemporary style all their own. Accessible, fun to ride and easy to live with, the models go their own way but are also blank canvases, ready for whatever their owners’ imaginations have in store.
“For many riders who have grown up through the digital age, motorcycles represent a lifestyle and an attitude, a means of expressing their individuality,” said Lee Edmunds, Manager of Motorcycle Marketing Communications at American Honda. “The machines that speak to these riders need to reflect this, to fit with their life while also offering the potential for further individualization. The Rebel 500 and Rebel 300 are simple and raw, offering cutting-edge style and a radical image while minimizing the barriers to riding. There’s literally nothing else out there like them, and we’re confident that both models will appeal to young riders who want to stand out and are open to new experiences.”

Simple and raw, Honda’s new Rebel models are exercises in straightforward, minimalist design where every detail matters. Low, lean silhouettes are crowned by iconic fuel tanks, aggressively raked front ends and fat tires on large-diameter wheels, along with a stamped-steel rear fender and narrow frame body, resulting in stripped forms that express offbeat individuality from every angle. The evocative round, glass headlight sits up high in a die-cast aluminum mount, the speedometer is a compact dial with negative LCD display and blue backlight, and the ignition is housed below the left side of the fuel tank. Everything that can be is blacked out.
With a 471cc parallel twin, the Rebel 500 has strong bottom-end torque and a smooth, linear power delivery, while the Rebel 300 is powered by a peppy 286cc single cylinder engine. In both cases, the bikes’ riding positions are relaxed and neutral, with arms gently outstretched and feet dropping straight down to the mid-mounted pegs. The versatile Rebels are fun to ride slow and fast, great for day trips, jaunts to the coffee shops or even sporty sessions on winding roads; low weights, slim frames and short seat heights equal agility at lower speeds, whereas good ground clearances allow surprisingly sporty lean angles. Both the Rebel 500 and Rebel 300 are available in standard and ABS versions.


  • Rebel 500: Matte Silver, Bright Yellow, Black, Red
  • Rebel 500 ABS: Black
  • Rebel 300: Matte Silver, Matte Pearl White, Black, Red
  • Rebel 300 ABS: Black

  • Rebel 300 Tentative Price: $4,399 (Announcement Dec. 2016)
    Rebel 500 Tentative Price: $5,999 (Announcement Dec. 2016)
    Availability: April 2017

    2017 Honda Rebel | Photo Gallery

    Saturday, November 26, 2016

    Is A Big Hole In The Roof The Key To Making The Tesla Model 3?

    During Tesla’s annual shareholders meeting, Elon Musk told his audience that Tesla is putting more effort into designing the factories of the future than to manufacturing automobiles. By focusing on “physics-first principles,” Musk said, he believes the production capacity can be increased exponentially if the focus is on “building the machines that build the machine.”
    Tesla Model 3
    He says the Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada is being designed like a giant supercomputer rather than a traditional manufacturing facility. Ultimately, he thinks factories could produce 10 to 100 times as many finished goods as they do today. He explains it this way:
    “The factory itself is considered to be a product. The factory is the machine that builds the machine. It actually deserves more attention from creative and problem solving engineers than the product it makes. What we’re seeing, if we take a creative engineer and apply them to designing the machine that makes the machine, they can make 5 times as much headway per hour, than if they work on the product itself.”
    While that may be true for the Gigafactory, what does it say about making cars? At the moment, Tesla has one auto manufacturing facility — the former NUMMI factory where Toyota and General Motors used to build cars in Fremont, California. That factory has a theoretical maximum capacity of 500,000 cars a year. Tesla is currently building Model S and Model X cars there at the rate of about 2,200 a week or 110,000 a year. Musk says he expects Tesla to build 500,000 Model 3 cars a year. 110,000 plus 500,000 would exceed that theoretical maximum capacity for the Fremont factory.
    Unlike Donald Trump, Musk does not pretend to know all the answers. He freely admits the Model S was designed with little thought about how to actually manufacture it. The Model X was supposed to be built on the Model S chassis, but the car wound up having almost 80% new parts, making it impossible to manufacture the SUV on the same assembly line as the sedan. He says Tesla learned from its mistakes and that for the Model 3 the focus was on ease of manufacture from Day One.
    In a recent post on Seeking Alpha, Randy Carlson asks some interesting questions. If increasing the speed of production applies to the Fremont factory as well as the Gigafactory, the pace of the Model 3 line will be faster than human workers can handle. But human workers are still more proficient at some tasks — such as fitting items to the interior — than robots. How to solve the contradiction?
    Carlson thinks the great big gaping hole in the roof of the Model 3 may be a clue as to what Tesla has in mind. He writes, “One innovation [in the Model 3 is] a very large rear window extending forward to the ‘”B” pillar, eliminating the structural beam above the heads of rear seat passengers. This innovation increases rear seat headroom and at the same time reduces complexity of the design. The big Model 3 rear window does something else, too. It creates a great big hole in the Model 3 design. A hole very conveniently located to allow robots an unobstructed reach into the Model 3 interior for installing carpets, wiring harnesses, sensors, seats, and the like.”
    Once robots are able to manufacture an entire car, human workers can be removed from the assembly line and the speed of production can be dramatically increased. Tesla has recently added a glass roof option to the Model S, an option that requires removal of the center roof support just like on the Model 3. We know a glass roof will be an option on the Model 3. Is the new glass roof option on the Model S a sign that Tesla has also figured out how to use more robots to build that car as well?
    Tesla’s head of production is Peter Hochholdinger. For 22 years, he was in charge of building cars for Audi. Earlier this year, he told the press, “The cars we build [at Tesla] are about seven years beyond everything I’ve seen before.” Is Hochholdinger one of the first to see what “the machine that builds the machine” looks like? If so, he sees to be very much in awe of the changes that Musk and his merry band have in mind for production facilities in the 21st century.
    Source: Seeking Alpha

    Friday, November 25, 2016

    2017 Honda CR-V Rated 34 MPG Highway, 30 MPG Combined

    Small crossover vehicles like the Honda CR-V comprise one of the hottest market segments in the US and why not? They are superb family haulers that can cruise comfortably on the interstate while navigating easily on city streets and in shopping mall parking lots. They have the high seating many Americans prefer and most are available with all wheel drive for those who live in locations where slippery winter roads are a concern.
    2016 Honda CR-V
    If these vehicles have a downside, it is that they typically are somewhat thirstier than the most efficient sedans available today. Even at a time of record low gasoline prices, fuel economy is still an important consideration for most drivers. Nobody enjoys driving a gas pig that is capable of passing everything except a gas station.
    The 2017 Honda CR-V equipped with the 1.5 liter turbocharged engine now has the distinction of having the highest EPA fuel efficiency rating of any vehicle in its class. The new model rides on the same global chassis that is the basis of the latest Honda Civic. In front wheel drive trim, its miles per gallon efficiency is rated by the EPA at 34 highway, 28 city, and 30 overall. That puts it ahead of all its peers.
    • 2017 Toyota RAV4 — 23/30/26 mpg
    • 2017 Kia Sportage — 23/30/26 mpg
    • 2017 Nissan Rogue — 26/33/29 mpg
    • 2017 Ford Escape — 23/30/26 mpg
    • 2017 Chevrolet Equinox — 21/31/25 mpg
    • 2017 Subaru Forester — 26/32/28 mpg
    The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid has slightly better numbers in city mode but also costs more. It is rated 34/30/32 mpg by the EPA. The four wheel drive version of the new CR-V loses about 1 mile per gallon in all parameters. It is rated 27/33/29 mpg. One mile per gallon may seem an acceptable trade off for the security that all wheel drive offers.
    In LX trim with last year’s 2.4-liter four-cylinder, the CR-V is rated 26/32/28 mpg with front-wheel drive and 25/31/27 mpg with all-wheel drive. The 2017 car is 1.5 inches longer, is an inch taller and rides on a 1.6 inch longer wheelbase. Production has begun at Honda’s factory in East Liberty, Ohio. It will also be made in Honda’s other facilities located in Alliston, Ontario and Greensburg, Indiana. Deliveries are expected to begin early next year.
    Source: Motor Trend  Photo credit: Honda (2016 CR-V shown)

    Tuesday, November 22, 2016

    NextEV Shows Off Its NIO EP9 Supercar (w/Video)

    Yet another Chinese backed electric car startup has begun life by building a so-called supercar. Faraday Future did it last year at the CES show in Las Vegas. Its car, the FFZero1, was a non-functioning show car with no plans for production. NextEV has just done it with an actual working car that is scheduled for limited production and which just set the fastest lap ever recorded by an electric car at the Nurburgring. The car was officially unveiled to the press in London on November 21 at a splashy media event at the Saatchi Gallery.
    NextEV NIO EB9
    The new car, designated the NIO EP9, costs $1.2 million to manufacture. The company expects to produce a total of 6 cars and sell them to people who could care less about the federal tax credit. NextEV is headquartered in Shanghai but has several offices around the world, including one in Silicon Valley. It was founded in 2014 by William Li, a Chinese entrepreneur who started the online automotive marketing and advertising firm Bitauto.
    Li says the company first plans to sell its electric and autonomous cars to consumers in China starting in 2017. Global sales are expected to follow. The company’s CEO in the US is Padmasree Warrior, former CTO at Cisco Systems.
    Li told his audience in London, “The NIO EP9 was born to push limits and is the first stage of automotive production for NIO. It is a statement of our vision and technical and manufacturing capabilities. It is a best-in-class product that showcases what is possible with electric vehicles.”
    What possible relevance does a super expensive electric car have to the lives of ordinary people? The answer is, “It depends.” On the surface, the answer appears to be, “None.” But the engineering and technology that went into making the EB9 will prove invaluable when it comes to making vehicles for regular drivers. Battery management and motor control systems are critical to both kinds of vehicles. NextEV currently competes it the Formula E racing series.
    The NIO brand is supposed to represent a new day the company says. Translated into Chinese, NIO means Blue Sky Coming, as in an atmosphere that is not polluted with carbon emission from burning fossil fuels. Elon Musk would approve. Be sure to check out the EV9 on its record setting lap of the Nurburgring in the video below.

    Source: Fortune