Saturday, May 27, 2017

Volvo Parent Company, Geely, Buys Lotus

Li Shufu, the Chinese billionaire who purchased Volvo from Ford and oversaw the company’s successful resurgence seems to have acquired a taste for turning around car brands. I say that because he’s just acquired another storied, troubled, European car brand to turn back from the brink of extinction: Lotus.
That’s the same Lotus whose versatile chassis launched both Tesla Motors and Detroit Electric (to name just two). The same Lotus, too, that brought Kimi Raikkonen back to the top step of an F1 podium a few years back (before reverting back to Renault ownership, anyway). We’re big fans.
Being big fans, it was big news when Li’s Geely Holding Group announced, yesterday, that it would buy a 51 percent stake in Lotus Cars. For Geely, the brand could act as a prestigious “halo” brand to help grow the company’s eponymous core products. “Like Volkswagen has Porsche and Toyota has its Lexus,” explains Tian Yongqiu, an independent auto consultant who tracks Chinese car maker acquisitions.

Li Shufu Now Owns Both Volvo and Lotus

Lotus has a history of using other car makers’ engines in its lightweight sports cars. If that history is a guide, we could see a featherweight Elise or Evora model powered by Volvo’s super-efficient, twin-charged T6 engine in the near future. There’s even talk of an ultra-sporty SUV coming hot on the heels of Geely’s expected cash injection into the British car brandCould it be based on the all-new Volvo XC60Should it be based on the new XC60?
Let us know what you think of Geely’s new acquisition- and whether or not you think Lotus and Volvo will make good partners in an eco-friendly- in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

Sources | ImagesBloombergLotusTalk

Friday, May 26, 2017

SCE $450 EV Rebate Applies To New And Used Cars

Southern California Edison is offering people who drive a plug-in or electric car a one time cash rebate of $450. What makes it different from other EV rebate programs is that it applies to second and third owners and those who lease cars as well. Typically, an EV rebate like the federal tax credit only helps new car buyers. If someone leases a new EV, those rebates go to leasing company (which is often a division of the manufacturer). Although that may help lower the customer’s lease payment, it puts no cash in the driver’s pocket.
“We hope that making second and third car owners eligible for a rebate will help stimulate the market for used electric vehicles,” said Laura Renger, SCE principal manager for Air and Climate Policy. “Not only will customers get a payment, they will also save because electricity is a low-cost fuel. Average fuel costs for an electric vehicle are 50 percent less than a car that runs on gasoline.”
Customers don’t need to jump through hoops to claim the rebate. It can all be done online at the Clean Fuel Rewards website. All that is required is that the name and address on the registration match up with an established SCE residential account. Once all the information is submitted an verified. SCE sends the customer a check.
The Clean Fuel Rewards Program is part of the state of California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard Program, which combats climate change by encouraging the use of low and zero emissions vehiucles. SCE earns credits when customers use electricity at home to charge their electric vehicles. The value of these credits funds the Clean Fuel Rewards program.
SCE is also its Charge Ready program to promote driving on electrons instead of molecules by expanding the EV charging infrastructure in its service area. The expansion will add about 1,000 charging stations at workplaces, hospitals, destination centers, and apartment and condo complexes. Charge Ready targets places where vehicles are normally parked for a period of 4 hours of more. The first Charge Ready EV charger is located at the Lynwood City Hall and became operational in April.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Subaru Will Add Electric Cars To Its Lineup

Subaru and Mazda are like twin sons of different mothers. Both are small players in the auto business who have carved out a niche of devoted followers by doing a few things really well. Both are happy to play at the margins while the big boys fight over the middle. Over the years, Subaru has gained a reputation for building reliable cars that offer a high degree of occupant safety. But to keep up with changes in the marketplace, particularly in China, it needs to add electric cars to its offerings.
subaru electric cars
To make that happen, the company’s CEO, Yasuyuki Yoshinaga, told the press last week that his company will focus first on adding electric motors to its current models rather than creating a separate electric car division as Volkswagen and Mercedes Benz are doing. “If there’s already an attractive Subaru model, for example the XV crossover, and if a customer in Beijing wants one but is only allowed to buy an electric vehicle, if there’s no electric version then he can’t buy it,” Yoshinaga said. “Providing the choice of an EV means the customer can still desire the same Subaru.”

Subaru will invest $1.2 billion in research and development during the next 12 months, most of it aimed at getting a plug-in hybrid version of one of more of its cars into production by the end of 2018. Suppliers like GKN are already building complete EV powertrain components to speed the adoption of electric vehicle technology in the global marketplace and eliminate the need for each manufacture to design, test, and build its own hardware.
General Motors used to have a large stake in Subaru, but sold its shares some years ago to Toyota, which is also behind the curve when it comes to offering electric cars to its customers. It is likely some cross fertilization will take place between the two companies as each seeks to get in on the electric car future. Toyota will invest almost $9 billion in its research and development program in the coming year.
Yoshinaga also said his company expects to have a battery electric car to sell to customers by the beginning of the next decade. He did not indicate whether the BEV Subaru would be an entirely new model or based on an existing car in the company’s lineup. Building a car designed from Day One for electric power is the preferred approach, but developing completely new models takes about 5 years. Subaru may not have time to wait, as it is already late to the cars with plugs party.
Source: Bloomberg

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Elon Confirms Tesla Model 3 Production Will Begin In July, New Autopilot Software Update In June

When Elon Musk said last year that production of the Tesla Model 3 would begin in July of 2017, everyone rolled their eyes and snickered up their sleeves. After the Model X fiasco, the conventional wisdom said projections by the serial entrepreneur were always wildly optimistic. July? More like December, if past experience is any guide. Even Musk admitted the timetable was ambitious and that actual production by late in the third quarter was more realistic.
Tesla Model 3
On May 21, Musk took to Twitter to tell his faithful followers that a major Autopilot software upgrade for cars with the Hardware 2 package of autonomous driving sensors is coming in June. The HW2 package has been baked into all cars manufactured since last October, but the software to make all the pieces function smoothly together has been a work in progress. Right at this moment, cars with the older HW1 package are still able to do some things the newer cars cannot. Midway through a series of tweets about the new software update, Musk slipped in this little tidbit:
@elonmusk Tesla Model 3 update, please.
@kedyson1 That will be tied to deliveries of the first production cars in July
So Model 3 production really will begin in July, just as Elon promised, according to this latest update. How fast will the line move at the beginning? When will the Design Studio that allows people to actually order their cars go live? What options will be available first? All of those questions will have to wait for answers. For now, all we know is the first Model 3 sedans will start rolling off the assembly line in about two months time.
Musk being Musk, he had lots of other things to say. To one owner of an older Model S who said he was anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Model 3, he said, “I’d highly recommend upgrading to latest Model S (which is approx version 4). Only if you really want a smaller sedan, should you get a 3.” The reference to a “version 4” reinforces one of the advantages that comes with owning a Tesla — no annual model changes. The cars evolve; they do not become obsolete.
Musk has been actively working to temper people’s expectations for the Model 3 for a few months, saying the car is a smaller, simpler car with less techno-features. His message is that the Model S is like a BMW 7 Series sedan, and the Model 3 will be more like the BMW 3 Series. Both are fine cars, but they are built to appeal to different audiences.
He also put the kibosh (again) on any hopes that people with older cars could upgrade them to the new Hardware 2. “There’s just no way. Hundreds of parts and most of wiring harness would have to be replaced. Would cost more to retrofit than trading in.”
What about that software update? What is that all about? Musk tweeted, “Excited about the Tesla Autopilot software release rolling out next month. New control algorithm feels as smooth as silk.” Some owners have complained that the Autopilot on their HW2 equipped cars does not operate as smoothly as they would like. “Yeah, control algorithm is safe, but unpleasant. New one is even safer, but super smooth,” Musk says.
Here are a few other key points from Musk’s most recent Twitter blast: Parallel parking and automatic rain sensing wipers will be part of the June software update for cars with HW2 package. Those features are already available to drivers of cars with the first-generation sensor package, so the new update should bring the two into parity with each other. Musk promised an improved web browser would also be part of the upgrade.
A cross-country autonomous driving demonstration run from LA to NYC continues to be planned for later this year. “Still on for end of year. Just software limited. Any Tesla car with HW2 (all cars built since Oct last year) will be able to do this.” What Musk is saying somewhat indirectly is that all cars with the HW2 sensor package will be capable of full Level 5 autonomy once state and federal regulators give their approval and the demo run would be carefully controlled so as not to run afoul and any legal restrictions.
Finally, Musk was asked about when Teslas would be available in India. “Maybe I’m misinformed, but I was told that 30% of parts must be locally sourced and the supply doesn’t yet exist in India to support that.”
India is widely considered to be in the cards for a future Tesla factory. The world is eagerly anticipating where Tesla will build new factories next as the company begins making millions of cars a year, something Musk has suggested it will do by 2020.

China is a given, most observers think, but where in China is a closely guarded secret at present. A factory somewhere in Europe is also widely expected, with several local groups already wooing Tesla with highly creative ad campaigns designed to convince Musk theirs is the best place. Perhaps that news will come in Elon’s next Twitter barrage.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Volvo Quits Diesel, Shifts its Focus to Electrification

Earlier this week, Volvo Cars’ CEO Håkan Samuelsson announced that the company’s current lineup of Drive-E diesel engines would be the last such engines produced by the Swedish car brand. Instead, he says, Volvo’s engineering focus has now switched to electric and electrified vehicles.
Volvo is aggressively pushing development on its new “Modular Electrification Platform” (MEP), which will serve as the basis for a number of cars- including the company’s first long-range electric car. That model is expected to cost between 35 and 40,000 USD when it arrives on US shores in 2019 with a 250 mile range.

Volvo CMA Platform

“That’s what I put in as the prerequisite for the United States,” said Volvo’s US chief, Lex Kerssemakers, back in March. “If I want to make a point in the United States, if I want to make volumes, that’s what I believe I need.”
Volvo executives have been giving credit to American electric car maker, Tesla, for kick-starting demand for electric and hybrid vehicles in the US and China. Vehicles that play into Volvo’s stated mission of creating socially responsible, human-focused products. Samuelsson said as much when he was quoted in Reuters, saying that, “We have to recognize that Tesla has managed to offer such a car for which people are lining up. In this area, there should also be space for us, with high quality and attractive design.”
Samuelsson hinted that Volvo- who has managed to stay clear of any diesel emission scandals, so far– could continue producing its current diesel engines until 2023. Diesel still represents about 50% of the market in Europe, although that percentage continues to fall in the wake of Volkswagen’s “Dieselgate” cheating. After that, Volvo will- officially- be done with diesel.

Source | Images: Volvo, via Electrek

Sunday, May 21, 2017

This is Hydrogen Future Shell Oil is Betting On

Shell Oil seems to have acknowledged that the car of tomorrow will be powered by an electric motor, but the source of the electrons that power those motors is still a question mark. Shell thinks that the public’s familiarity with “filling up”, coupled to the “range anxiety” being expressed by the hundreds of thousands of car-buyers who chose a Nissan Versa over a Nissan Leaf over the past few years, will make hydrogen fuel cells an easier sell than a pure EV.
To welcome all those car of tomorrow driving- er- futurists, Shell and BMW have partnered up to design the slick-looking gas station you see here.

Shell Hydrogen Fuel Cell Fueling Station

Shell Hydrogen Fuel Cell
It’s hard to say whether or not hydrogen fuel cells will be as big as BMW and Shell are hoping they’ll be- but there are other big players involved who are thinking along the same lines. Players like Honda, Toyota, General Motors, and even some of the major players in the convenience store space are betting big on hydrogen and biofuel.
What do you guys think? Are you ready for the big H, or do you find yourself agreeing with the Cleantechnica consensus that hydrogen could create more problems than it solved? Think it through, then let us know what you think in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

Source | Images: Shell, via Motorpasion.

UBS Claims Electric Car Price Parity By 2018, Says Tesla Can Make Money On Model 3

Analysts for UBS have torn apart a perfectly good Chevy Bolt to see how it is put together. What they found led them to make this rather startling announcement:  the “total cost of consumer ownership [of electric cars] can reach parity with combustion engines from 2018.” Notice that doesn’t mean an electric car and a conventional car will cost the same to buy new. It means they will cost the same to own, figuring in maintenance, cost of fuel, insurance, and all the other factors that are part of the total cost of ownership.
UBS electric car study
The UBS study goes on to say, “This will create an inflection point for demand. We raise our 2025 forecast for EV sales by 50% to 14.2 million — 14% of global car sales.”
14% by 2025 is eerily similar to the 15% the state of California is aiming for by the same date. The study language is somewhat imprecise, as the term “EV” is commonly understood by many to include plug-in hybrid vehicles as well as battery electric models, but the inference is that UBS is referring only to fully electric cars in its findings.
After deconstructing the Chevy Bolt, which it called “the world’s first mass-market EV, with a range of more than 200 miles,” UBS called the electric car the “most disruptive car category since the Model T Ford.” It says it expects Europe to lead the rest of the world in adoption of electrics.
The UBS team found that the powertrain for the Bolt was $4,600 cheaper to produce than originally thought, “with much cost reduction potential left.” It also found that the electronics built into the car cost about $4,000 more than those in a conventional car, not including the cost of the battery. But they say GM is losing money on every Bolt they sell. “We estimate that GM loses $7,400 in earnings before interest and tax on every Bolt sold today, mainly due to a lack of scale.”
The same analysts say they expect Tesla to lose $2,800 on entry-level versions of its soon to be introduced Model 3 but think customers will opt for extra cost options that will raise the average selling price to $41,000 — $6,000 more than the base price. Tesla will be able to break even at that price, they believe.
Overall, automakers will start earning a profit of about 5% on electric cars by 2023 as the switch over from conventional cars to electrics gathers momentum. “Once total cost of ownership parity is reached, mass-brand EVs should also turn profitable,” UBS said. 5% happens to be the average profit margin on conventional cars, although some premium manufacturers like BMW are accustomed to profit margins as high as 8%.
Its findings led UBS to issue a warning for companies that make replacement parts, since electric car drivetrains are more reliable than those that feature internal combustion engines. That makes perfectly good sense, considering a gasoline engine has over 1,000 moving parts. An electric motor has 3. Add in the increasingly complex automatic transmissions in use today and there are a lot of things that require fixing as a conventional car ages. “Our detailed analysis of moving and wearing parts has shown that the highly lucrative spare parts business should shrink by 60% in the end-game of a 100% EV world, which is decades away,” UBS said.
Source: The Telegraph| Photo credit: UBS

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Secret To Selling A Million Electric Cars Is Good Sales Practices

Is it true that people aren’t interested in buying electric cars, as Ford CEO Mark Fields claims?  EV sales are hovering around 1% of the market in the US despite all that has been written about then and significant increases in the number of electric car charging stations available. “Ah hah!” Fields and his colleagues say. “See? We told you so.” Gina Coplon-Newfield, the director of electric vehicles initiative at the Sierra Club sees things differently. “When manufacturers say buyers aren’t interested in buying electric vehicles, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy,” she says.
LEAF electric cars

How To Sell Millions Of EVs

John Sullivan of Sullivan Chevrolet says there is a way to turn thousands of EV sales into millions. “The key obstacles to greater adoption are social rather than technological,” he tells Charged EVs. He puts part of the blame on articles online and in the press that are inaccurate or confusing. Many of them are bought and paid for by fossil fuel entities like Koch Industries who are furiously trying to protect what they see as their God given right to destroy the planet in pursuit of profits.

Customers Want Answers To Questions

Shoppers who have questions seldom turn into customers. There is a lot of confusion about the differences between hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and battery electric cars. Many people do not understand how to find electric car chargers or how they work. The Sierra Club recently enlisted the help of 308 people to visit dealerships across the country to shop for an electric car.
One third of the dealer representatives never mentioned available federal and state rebates or other available incentives. One sales person in Massachusetts told a customer that range anxiety was not an issue because there were wires buried under the asphalt on all major roads that recharged the cars as they drove. At 14% of the stores visited, shoppers were told they could not test drive an EV because the models on hand hadn’t had their batteries charged.

Smart Things Dealers Can Do

At Sullivan Chevrolet, they have found having a good selection of electric cars in several colors with a variety of option packages helps. They also keep their inventory parked outside near the front of the store under a canopy of solar panels. That gets people’s attention right away. The company website has a dedicated page for electric cars with lots of basic information and a complete listing of models in inventory. Sullivan says few other dealers feature electric cars in their internet marketing. John Sullivan has made it a point to make sure his sales people have been given adequate training so they can answer basic questions about the differences types of electric cars, incentives, and charging infrastructure.
Joel Levin, executive director of Plug-In America, tells the LA Times that dealers “have not been masterful but they’re improving a lot. The dealer challenge is that it’s a really different sales model than selling a gas car. When you’re selling a gas car, you don’t have to explain the technology. You don’t have to ask questions about a buyer’s lifestyle. With EVs you do. Some dealers are real good at it.”

Hire Dedicated Electric Car Sales People

Brian Maragno, director of EV sales and marketing for Nissan tells the LA Times, “The single biggest thing that separates dealers who actively engage in selling EVs from those who don’t is having a dedicated person, an EV specialist. These people are advocates, passionate about the product,” he says. They keep are involved with forums popular with EV owners. “They know the technology and can engage with the customer on a deep level. In some dealerships in California they have multiple people like that.”
John Sullivan recognizes that educating customers takes longer and sales representatives who sell electric cars need to be compensated differently. A bill in the Oregon legislature would pay a bonus to those who sell an EV, an idea that some of you loved and some hated, but it at least recognizes one of the structural issues holding back the EV revolution.

The Best Incentives Are Immediate Incentives

Sullivan believes that incentives, to be effective, need to be apply at the time of purchase. The federal tax credit doesn’t get applied until the customer files a tax return on April 15 of the following year. “The federal incentive would be significantly more effective if it were available at the time of purchase, regardless of income or tax liability.” Significantly, California will experiment with just such a point of sale approach later this year. The CHEAPR program in Connecticut offers rebates of $750 to $3,000 at the time of purchase and includes up to $300 in bonuses to the dealer. That money can be used to reward sales people for selling electric cars.
Electric car shoppers are well informed before going to a dealership, says Chad Kelman, general manager at Community Chevrolet in Burbank. “The customer comes in with a pretty good understanding of the vehicle upfront,” he says. In an odd twist, he says many of his sales people feel intimidated by customers who know more about the products they sell than they do. He is now hiring people with experience selling electronics.

Infrastructure And Home Charging

Infrastructure is not something car dealers have much influence over but it is critical to many EV shoppers. John Sullivan says, “The impact of infrastructure on EV sales is enormous. Some studies have indicated (and we can confirm) that those with access to workplace charging are many times more likely to buy plug-in vehicles. Many customers cite convenient charging as a key reason for purchasing an EV. At the same time, unreliable public charging is a major concern for potential customers, and a real-world problem for some EV drivers.”
His dealership has a display of all available home charging equipment complete with prices and list of area electricians who are knowledgeable about installing them. It also keeps in contact with the local utility company to keep up to date with rate structures and charging incentives.

Mark Fields Is An Idiot

The bottom line is that having idiots like Mark Fields running around telling everyone who will listen that nobody wants to buy electric cars is a huge impediment to the electric car revolution. The future is coming fast and with Fields at the helm, the once proud Ford Motor Company may be one of many legacy automakers that suddenly finds itself out of business.
Sales is simple. Find out what the customers want. Give the customers what they want. Selling electric cars is different than selling conventional cars but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. It does mean that dealers need to be proactive by having a sufficient inventory, training a knowledgeable sales staff, educating customers about available options, and forging bonds with others in the business community such as utility companies and home charging equipment manufacturers.
Too many car dealers think their business is all about opening the doors in the morning and watching the money roll in. Those people are short sighted fools. Dealer organizations should be spending more time looking to the future and less time fighting new ideas like Tesla’s direct sales model. Dealers who refuse to adapt to the changes coming are going to wake up one fine morning and wonder where all the customers are. They will be down the street, anxious to do business with those who want to do business with them.
Source: Charged EVs

Workhorse W-15 Plug-in Hybrid Electric Pickup Truck Interview With CEO Steve Burns

When the Workhorse W-15 plug-in hybrid electric truck was unveiled to the public at the ACT Expo in Long Beach, the folks from Inside EVs had an opportunity to sit down with Workhorse CEO Steve Burns for an extended interview. The specs for the W-15 are now known — 60 kWh battery, 80 mile range, 0-60 in 5.5 seconds, stainless steel chassis, on board range extender engine supplied by BMW. What isn’t so well know is how Workhorse began and how it got to where it is today.

Wrokhorse W-15

Conversions Don’t Work

Burns started out with a company called AMP that converted conventional vehicles like the Chevy Equinox to electric power. “It’s very expensive to be an OEM. So people say, ‘I’ll take something that’s close and I’ll convert it.’ But what happens when the frame cracks in 10 years and you converted a Ford, let’s say, and Ford’s going to say, ‘Well it cracked because you put this heavy battery pack on it. That’s not our fault,’ right?” Burns asks.
Workhorse is concentrating on fleet sales for one simple reason. Individual buyers don’t look at the total cost of ownership. Fleet managers look at nothing else. “What we discovered with our UPS trucks is that you can prove to a fleet manager that your vehicle is less expensive than a gasoline or diesel counterpart. We could save UPS or a company like UPS about $160,000 per truck over a lifetime. Without any government vouchers, it still makes economic sense.”
Workhorse cost of ownership chart

Concentrating On Fleets Generates Pre-orders

Workhorse says it has 1,000 pre-orders from various utility and delivery fleet operators like UPS and Duke Energy. That resonates with lenders when a manufacturer with good ideas but no track record goes looking for financing. “Investors or strategic partners or the government — all those sources of capital want to know the same thing: ‘Do you have a customer base that will buy these if you build them?’ That’s the hardest thing to prove and that’s what pre-orders do.

Working With Detroit Is Part Of The Plan

“One thing that might be a little different with us than Silicon Valley folks is that we’re in the Midwest and as opposed to saying, ‘Hey, we’re a new kind of car company, we don’t want to involve any rust belt thinking or old school thinking from Detroit,’ we’re embracing Detroit. There’s a lot of Detroit vendors that are helping us here, especially with the carbon fiber stuff. What we had is, from the get go, is A, we had to design this so it can be built in our existing factory, and B, even the UPS trucks are basically a body on rails…..We designed it from the get go so that it could be built at our existing factory, which dramatically reduced costs.
“It’s really quite remarkable, our body parts will come from a Detroit company, all painted. If you look under the roll cage that the passenger sits in, that’s all carbon fiber and composite. It comes to us in one piece. You don’t have to dip it in anti corrosion material. It’s quite remarkable what we’ve saved by going composite and carbon. As far as traditional up front costs, we’ll have a stainless steel chassis and a carbon fiber everything else. Well, there’s a little steel in there, like in the door; even though the door is carbon fiber it has a steel band in there. We didn’t want to reinvent everything. The size of the bed, the size of the cab, we didn’t want to mess with that. We kept the outside parameters.”
You may recall that another electric truck start up, Deutsche Post, is building all electric delivery vans using mostly parts that are readily available from mainstream, established automotive suppliers.

The W-15 Will Meet All Certification Parameters

“No exceptions, we’re not going to apply for any exceptions. Because the numbers we’re at, our orders have already exceeded the limit, so we’re going for full certification. Again, that’s why I talk about Detroit. Folks from Detroit are really knowledgeable about these things. For example, crash testing. You hope to model it in software and really refine it in software, and only have to crush a few to make sure that they line up with the software algorithms. There are decades of that experience in Detroit. It’s remarkable how close they get.”

Why Does The W-15 Use A Range Extender Engine?

Burns says, “Our goal is to be known as the electric truck company that caters to fleets. That’s why we arrived at a hybrid, or a range extender. What we did was, same thing we do with UPS trucks. We put a battery in there that should cover them for 360 days a year, but once in a while something weird happens, like it will be minus 20 in Chicago or there’s a hurricane in Charlotte and all the Duke trucks have to head for Charlotte from other cities. By putting a range extender in there, we’re able to tell a fleet that they will always complete their mission. Most days you run all electric and you get 75 miles per gallon equivalent, but you know the truck will do anything you ask of it. What people expect of a modern day pick up truck is essentially it can do anything.
“Anyway, if we crunch the numbers with a battery pack big enough to tow, haul, and have over more than just 200 miles range, it would just be too big and expensive and heavy. We put electric motors in that are big enough to tow and haul. We put a pack in there that gives you 80 miles on a normal day, but let’s say now you’ve got 2,000 pounds in the bed and you’re towing a 5,000 pound generator. You’re not going to get 80 miles on all electric, but on that rare day they are more than happy if the gas engine has to turn on. It’s against the [EV] religion to put gas onboard. But our only religion is making fleets happy and if we have to have an insurance policy in there so they feel comfortable, then that’s what we do.”

Beating The Market

Burns knows that Tesla is working right now on an electric pickup truck of its own. But it will be battery electric only, which means it may not have the same appeal to fleet buyers who want a truck that can go anywhere, anytime, with no excuses.  “The reason we want to beat the market is we think we have a two-to-four-year lead here and we want to establish the brand and get enough miles on the road and enough customers and really kind of establish us as, ‘If you want an electric truck, you know this is the company that specializes in that,'” Burns says.

It’s Not All About No Frills Transportation

Fleet managers are pretty frugal people. No leather interiors or chrome wheels for them. UPS even refuses to equip its vehicles with air conditioning. But performance — that shove in the back you feel when you mash the throttle — is still important. “One spec that seems to get everybody excited, and when we had the ride and drives at the LA show, everybody wanted to feel a pick up truck do zero-to-60 in 5.5 seconds. It handles like no other pick up truck just because you’ve got that battery low like that. We’ve got a huge crumple zone up front.”
Safety, performance, no corrosion, reliability, and low ownership costs — those are all factors that gladden the hearts of fleet managers. The company now has a prototype on the road. Next comes field testing and building pre-production trucks for certification purposes and to show off to prospective customers. Workhorse expects to put the W-15 into production before the end of 2018.
Source: Inside EV

Elon Musk Says Tesla Over Valued, Denies Worker Complaints

In a recent telephone interview with The Guardian this week, Elon Musk had this rather startling thing to say: “I do believe this market cap is higher than we have any right to deserve.” He noted that Tesla is valued by Wall Street about the same at Ford or General Motors, two automakers that each produce about 100 times as many cars each year as Tesla does. Even if Musk’s promise to be manufacturing 500,000 cars a year twelve months from now comes true, that is still far less than the 10 million a year GM cranks out.
Tesla elon musk factory
“We’re a money-losing company,” Musk added. “This is not some situation where, for example, we are just greedy capitalists who decided to skimp on safety in order to have more profits and dividends and that kind of thing. It’s just a question of how much money we lose. And how do we survive? How do we not die and have everyone lose their jobs?”

Working Conditions At Fremont Factory

Speaking of jobs, Musk also had something to say about working conditions at the factory in Fremont, which employs about 10,000 people. There have dark mutterings and deep rumblings among some of the workers since February, when José Moran told Medium that working conditions at the factory were unsafe and many people were getting injured as a result.
The Guardian interviewed 15 workers for its most recent story, published on May 18. Some spoke on the record but others chose to remain anonymous.  “I’ve seen people pass out, hit the floor like a pancake and smash their face open,” said Jonathan Galescu, a production technician at Tesla. “They just send us to work around him while he’s still lying on the floor.” Records show more than 100 times when an ambulance has been summoned to the factory in the past several years. “We had an associate on my line, he just kept working, kept working, kept working, next thing you know – he just fell on the ground,” said Mikey Catura, a worker on the battery pack line.

Building The Machine That Builds The Machines

Richard Ortiz spoke glowingly of the high-tech factory floor. “It’s like you died and went to auto worker heaven,”  he said, before adding “Everything feels like the future but us.” That sums up the problem in a nutshell. Elon Musk is fixated on disrupting manufacturing in general. He claims factories could operate up to ten times faster than normal once he is done reinventing what he calls “the machine that builds the machine.” It really doesn’t make any difference what products are being manufactured. Musk thinks assembly lines have not evolved very much since the days of Henry Ford. One of the limiting factors is the speed of human workers, or rather the lack of it.
“You really can’t have people in the production line itself. Otherwise you’ll automatically drop to people speed,” he said during an earnings call last year. “There’s still a lot of people at the factory but what they’re doing is maintaining the machines, upgrading them, dealing with anomalies. But in the production process itself, there essentially would be no people.”

One Man’s Story

Michael Sanchez is one who says he has suffered working at Tesla. At first, he was “ecstatic” when he started five years ago, because he believed Tesla was “part of the future.” Now he has two herniated discs in his neck, is on disability leave from work, and can no longer grip a pencil without pain.
Sanchez said his injuries were caused by years spent working on the Fremont assembly line. The cars he worked on were suspended above the line and his job required looking up and working with his hands above his head all day. “You can make it through Monday,” Sanchez said. “You can make it through Tuesday. Come Wednesday, you start to feel something. Thursday is pain. Friday is agonizing. Saturday you’re just making it through the day.”
Not everyone is dissatisfied. One worker who has been with the company about a year told The Guardian, “I’ve got benefits, I’ve got stocks, I’ve got [paid time off. I thoroughly enjoy my work and I feel I’m treated fairly.” A Tesla representative said, “In a factory of more than 10,000 employees, there will always be isolated incidents that we would like to avoid.”

Pressure Not To Report Injuries

Others claim the culture at the factory discourages people from reporting injuries. “I went from making $22 an hour to $10 an hour,” said a production worker, who injured his back twice while working at Tesla. “It kind of forces people to go back to work.” Adam Suarez has been working  at the factory for three years. “No one wants to get a pay cut because they’re injured, so everyone just forces themselves to work through it,” he said.
Musk admits that working conditions were difficult in the early years when workers were on the job 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. But he says things have improved greatly since the decision was made to add a third shift at the factory and began paying more attention to the ergonomics of the workplace.

Musk Hurt By Criticism

For his part, Elon Musk bristled when he spoke with The Guardian. “It’s incredibly hurtful, and, I think, false for anyone to claim that I don’t care.” He claimed his desk was “in the worst place in the factory, the most painful place. It’s not some comfortable corner office.” During the initial ramp up of Model X production, when the doors wouldn’t function correctly and trim that was falling off, In early 2016, Musk took to sleeping on the factory floor in a sleeping bag “to make it the most painful thing possible.
“I knew people were having a hard time, working long hours, and on hard jobs. I wanted to work harder than they did, to put even more hours in,” he said. “Because that’s what I think a manager should do.” He adds, “We’re doing this because we believe in a sustainable energy future, trying to accelerate the advent of clean transport and clean energy production, not because we think this is a way to get rich.”
With all due respect to Elon and his prodigious intellect, sleeping at the end of the assembly line in a sleeping bag is not the same as actually working on the assembly line. His hurt feelings sound a little like The Trumpster complaining to cadets at the Coast Guard Academy commencement on May 17 about how unfairly he is treated by the press.

Eliminating Injuries By Eliminating Workers

“While some amount of injuries is inevitable, our goal at Tesla is to have as close to zero injuries as possible and to become the safest factory in the auto industry worldwide,” a Tesla spokesperson told The Guardian. That is laudable. But what some may lose sight of is that the ultimate way to eliminate injuries is to eliminate workers.
The new Model 3 assembly line will be the most automated production facility in the world and will require fewer human workers than ever before. Musk is perhaps more aware of the the changed coming to the workplace in the very near future, which is why he has said that some sort of guaranteed basic income will be needed when machines do all the work and leisure time is all the time that people are left with.
Source: The Guardian