Sunday, April 30, 2017

Elon Musk Talks Tunnels, Trucks, And Factories At TED2017

Elon Musk made an appearance at TED2017 in Vancouver on Friday, where he revealed a teaser photograph of the upcoming Tesla Semi. Look all good teasers, it conceals as much as it reveals. Most prominent in the photo are the headlights, which resemble those found on the company’s Model S sedan and Model X SUV.
Tesla Semi
Like Apple, Tesla places a premium on styling. Expect the Tesla Semi to be one of the most visually appealing Class 8 heavy duty trucks on the road. But styling is not what the people buying big rigs care about. In the world of freight hauling, grunt is what it’s all that matters — the ability to haul 80,000 lb loads over the mountains and across the plains of America. And that is precisely where electric motors are at their best.
Musk says the Tesla Semi will “out-torque” the biggest, badest, brawniest diesel powered rigs on the road, thanks to its use of electric motors. He says he has driven the prototype and calls it “spry” — a curious adjective to describe a 12 foot tall truck. It’s like driving a sports car, he insists, something no Peterbilt drivers has never said.
Musk had other news. He told the audience Tesla may announce up to four new Gigafactory locations this year, without specifying where they will be located. Musk has previously said the world will need about 100 Gigafactories to store all the renewable energy necessary to complete the transition away from fossil fuels. “I just hope I don’t have to build them all myself,” he once quipped. That is unlikely. Panasonic announced this week that it is building a new 860,000 square foot battery factory in Dailin, China this year.
Where will they be located? China is high on the list of possibilities. Musk had an unannounced private meeting with Vice Premier Wang Yang two days before he showed up in  Vancouver — the first auto CEO ever granted that privilege. Tesla is anxious to start building cars in China and it will need a battery factory there as well.
Something else happened yesterday. A video surfaced on YouTube explaining Musk’s vision for a network of underground tunnels to relieve congestion in the world’s cities. It shows Teslas being driven onto pallets powered by electric motors that are lowered by elevators to the tunnels below. Once there, they speed along at up to 124 miles per hour. “You should be able to go from say Westwood to LAX in 5–6 minutes,” said Musk in Vancouver. That same trip on surface streets can take up to an hour during peak traffic periods.
Sharp eyed observers will notice the video was posted by Tesla Europe. Is that a hint about where one of those new Gigafactories will be?

Source: TechCrunch   Photo credit: Tesla

Saturday, April 29, 2017

467 Tesla Factory Robots & New Blue Model 3 Spy Shots

If you thought a company that plans to start mass producing a new electric car on July 1 would have its factory finished already, think again. According to Teslarati, a person claiming to be a field service engineer for Kuka Robotics has taken several photos of 467 new robots that have been delivered to the factory recently and are awaiting installation. The photos were posted on the Southeast Traders forum by a person with the username Mac11FA, who says he will be onsite for the next 7 weeks to help get the robots mounted and operating properly.
Model 3 robots
Kuka Robotics is located in Augsburg, Germany, and its robots can cost from as little as $50,000 to as much as $500,000 a piece. Each is capable of performing multiple tasks involving movements along multiple axes using a variety of tools and adapters. They can perform such tasks as spot welding and laser welding, as well as handling of materials. Larger robots are often used to move large components between sub-assembly lines. The total cost of the Kuka robots Tesla ordered for its Model 3 production line is rumored to be around $50 million.
Tesla owners who have toured the factory recently were asked not to take photos inside, but one person, who uses the name Engle on the Tesla Motors Club forum, posted this comment: “You can’t take photographs, but I can tell everyone that there is an enormous area of the factory where the Model 3 assembly line is being built. There are Kuka robots all over the place waiting to be installed. It’s a beautiful thing. One of the guys that works there said there’s so much activity going on, that he and a friend challenge each other each morning to see if they can figure out what’s new that day.”
Elon Musk teased his audience during the Q3 earnings call last September when he said the Model 3 assembly line would resemble an “alien dreadnaught” when it is completed. Musk is convinced he can disrupt the entire manufacturing sector by building better factories that operate up to 10 times faster than the conventional factories in use today. He calls his plan to reinvent manufacturing “making the machine that makes the machine.”
Many industry experts say Tesla is taking a huge risk by going straight to production with an assembly line that has not been fully calibrated and tested. Musk announced last month that there will be no “beta” versions of the Model 3. Those are the early production cars that are manufactured in small quantities for testing purposes before regular production begins. Every other automaker in the world uses “beta” testing programs.
But Tesla is not every other company. It says the first cars off the line will be delivered to employees, people who can drive them home, discover any defects that need addressing, and bring them back the next day for adjustments. Apparently, Tesla workers are more than happy to serve as guinea pigs.
Blue Tesla Model 3
A near production version of a Model 3 was spotted recently near the factory. Compared to other “early release candidates,” it looks completely dialed in and ready for delivery to a paying customer. Musk’s production timeline is daring and bold. Nothing like this has ever been tried before. None of which is causing Musk to lose any sleep. He is supremely confident of his own abilities and those of the people who work for him. Judging by the astronomical price of Tesla shares at the moment, plenty of people agree with him

EV Fast Charging Companies Get Green Light From London

Fastned is well on its way to becoming one of the largest electric car charging networks in Europe. Last week, it announced it was working with German authorities to construct a fast charging network in that country. Now, Fastned says it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Transport For London to do the same in the Greater London area.
Michiel Langezaal, CEO of Fastned, told the press last week, “We are witnessing the start of the Autowende from fossil to electric. This is accompanied by the start of a transition from petrol stations to fast charging stations where electric cars can charge super fast and continue their journey. Fastned is building a pan-European network of fast charging stations that will provide freedom to drivers of electric cars to travel across Europe. As charging speeds increase, charging will become like refueling your car, and fast charging stations will be the petrol stations of the future.”
Transport for London has established a goal of 300 fast charging stations in the Greater London area by the year 2020 in order to meet the City’s plans to significantly reduce air pollution by expanding the number of electric vehicles on its roads and highways. Having a fast charging network in place is deemed critical to meeting that goal.
Fastned was selected after an extensive competitive bidding process, along with a few other companies. “The other charging companies are Bluepoint London, the Centrica Consortium, Chargemaster and Electricity Supply Board (ESB),” Roy Hales notes. “London’s first 75 charging points should be operational by the end of the year. By 2020, there could be 300. “
Fastned’s Lengezaal says, “We are very happy that TfL is making locations available for charging infrastructure through a public tender procedure. This enables Fastned to build the infrastructure required to give freedom to electric vehicle drivers and allows Fastned to live up to its mission to accelerate the advent of the electric car.”
Transport for London (TfL) will enter into concession agreements with Fastned to permit construction of the fast charging stations starting in a few months. In total, TfL has an £18 million fund for upgrading the city’s power supply and to build rapid charge points.
London is doing much more than this, though — on January 1, 2018, all new taxis coming into the city will have to be capable of zero-emissions driving, as any vehicle with a plug is. Roy Hales adds: “TfL and the Office for Low Emission Vehicles are offering taxi drivers up to £7,500 towards their purchase of  a new zero emission capable black cab.” Those electric taxis, unsurprisingly, will need some places to charge — and to charge fast. Hence the complementary EV charging scheme.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Dubai Shows Off Its First Solar Powered Gas Station

It’s a bit of a paradox — a solar-powered gas station. But, if anything, it’s another sign of how the world is slowly but surely turning away from fossil fuels toward clean, renewable energy. Dubai is part of the United Arab Emirates, the fourth-largest oil producer in the world. Yet the UAE is also positioning itself for the transition away from fossil fuels that its leaders see coming. Among other things, the UAE sits on the edge of the Persian Gulf. Much of its land area will be threatened by rising sea levels if the melting of the world’s ice shelves continues unabated.
solar powered gasoline station
In recognition of the country’s commitment to sustainable energy, the International Renewable Energy Agency has chosen Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s other major city, as the home for its global headquarters. Solar farms are springing up everywhere to take advantage of the abundant sunshine that falls on that part of the world every day.
ENOC, which stands for Emirates National Oil Company, has now opened the first solar-powered gas station in the country. Solar panels on the roof have a rating of 120 kW, which is 30% more than the station needs for its operational needs. The excess is fed back into the local electrical grid.
The new ENOC station has other “green” features. It uses a system to collect the vapors released from its fuel tanks and solar lighting. It also recycles its wastewater. Clean water is in short supply on the Arabian peninsular. All ENOC stations will soon have charging equipment for electric cars. Seven do at the present time.
Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority has agreed to lease 200 Tesla electric cars for use as taxis in Dubai, which will increase the need for more EV charging infrastructure in the area. The new ENOC is not the world’s largest solar-powered gasoline station. That distinction belongs to a BP station located in central Ohio.
Source and photo credit: Muslim Village

30 Million Americans Would Consider Buying An Electric Car

AAA conducted a survey of 1,004 Americans in February to find out how they feel about electric vehicles. The results show that 15% are considering an electric car when they buy their next car. AAA says that translates into 30 million people — one seventh of the US car buying population. “With their lower ownership costs and compatibility with emerging autonomous technologies, electric vehicles are poised to be a key vehicle of the future,” says Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of automotive engineering.
Tesla Model X electric car
What AAA finds significant about the poll results is that interest in electric cars remains fairly strong despite relatively low gas prices. AAA conducts the survey every year and finds the level of interest is about the same as it was five years ago when gas prices were considerably higher.
The survey showed interest among millennials was somewhat higher than the average. 18% of people in that age bracket told the pollsters they would consider an electric car next time around. Concern for the environment, lower long term costs, desire for the latest technology, and access to car pool lanes are all factors that contribute to the interest in electric vehicles.

The survey also showed that nearly one third of potential car buyers would consider a hybrid or plug-in hybrid car. The fear of running out of battery power while away from home is the biggest factor people mention when talking about why they would not consider an all electric car.
Demonstrating the schizophrenia the American public has about big government and CAFE regulations, 70 percent of car buyers say they consider fuel economy to be an important thing to weigh when selecting a new car. Other factors that are high on their priority list are safety technology, brand recognition, styling, and smartphone connectivity.
The AAA survey makes a liar out of Ford CEO Mark Fields, who continues to insist that nobody wants to buy electric cars. Pssst. Hey, Mark. 15% of car buyers says they would consider buying an electric car. That’s the same percentage as those who told AAA they would consider buying a pickup truck.
Having pigheaded leaders like Fields in charge of one of America’s leading car companies is one reason why the electric car revolution continues to lag behind expectations in America. Mark, here’s a thought. How about showing some leadership skills to go along with that fancy salary of yours?
Source: AAA

Williams Formula E Experience Will Make Better EV Battery Possible

“Racing improves the breed,” is one of the most time-honored phrases in motorsports. Many new ideas got tried on race cars first before they were incorporated into road cars — electronic fuel injection, disc brakes, overhead camshafts, to name just a few. Formula E features battery-electric open-wheel race cars that compete on racing circuits laid out on city streets. All the cars use a 28 kWh battery supplied by Williams Advanced Engineering, a subsidiary of the Williams Formula One enterprise. The lessons learned from the first two Formula E seasons have taught Williams engineers how to make a better EV battery for road cars.
EV battery improvements from Formula E racing
Racing flat out for 50 minutes builds up a tremendous heat, more than would ever be experienced in an ordinary electric car in daily use. Also, the combination of bumpy city streets and stiff racing suspension means the level of vibration is far higher than any passenger car would normally experience. To address those concerns, Williams Advanced Engineering has many modifications that will make a regular EV battery more robust and reliable. Paul McNamara, technical director at Williams Advanced Engineering, explains the changes:
“We have made quite a range of small changes in three areas: the first one is the cooling system – with changes to make that more robust and make it easier for us to assemble and disassemble. We’ve also done a few things to improve the performance of the thermal interface materials and the details of how the cooling tubes link up with the cells and the bus bars.
“The second area is the bus bars themselves. In the battery, we’ve got proper bus bars dealing with the quite high currents. In terms of building up the battery those bus bars all have to be interconnected. They’ve got special joints in them so that we can disarm it and bring it down to beneath 50 volts and allow us to disassemble it. Those joints have improved so they’re more resilient to vibration and the thermal displacement going into them has improved in the battery as well.
“And the final area has been in the detail design around supporting the cells, because the pack cells of the battery have to be supported and insulated from vibration and then connected into the bus bars. So, we’ve made quite a lot of detail changes to do that throughout. All of those things help us with making the batteries more reliable for the teams but they also help us in extracting more power and help us to put in more power.”
To make things more complicated, the FIA has approved a rule change for season three that allows 50% more energy to be regenerated and put back into the battery during braking. That means even more heat that the drivetrain must cope with.
“The ability to cool the battery and do all of that in a lightweight way is the key thing,” says McNamara. “If you’re trying to make an electric car, the biggest challenge you’ve got is weight. Because by the time you’ve taken away your engine and conventional gearbox, drivetrain, fuel system, fuel tank and exhaust, the weight of all that is usually lighter than what you want to put back in terms of a battery pack. The real challenge is having parity of weight while having a decent range. So making the battery lightweight is key to that, and that’s where Formula E brings learnings to us.”
The lessons learned in Formula E will result in a better, more reliable EV battery for road cars in coming years. This is one instance in which racing really is improving the breed.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Fisker EMotion Electric Car Previewed Ahead Of August Reveal

Time was when a the first time a new car got shown to the public was at an event called a reveal. Now, the industry likes to tease the public with photos that show only portions of an upcoming new car in what might be termed a pre-reveal. The Fisker EMotion electric car is getting just such pre-reveal treatment this week. The company has just released a photo of the front of the car to whet people’s appetites.
Fisker E Motion electric car
Henrik Fisker is a respected automotive designer who previously worked for BMW and Aston Martin, among others. His first attempt at designing an electric car resulted in the Fisker Karma. It was actually more of a hybrid with a 4 cylinder Chevy engine wedged in under the hood. When the Tesla Model S was introduced, sales of the Karma plummeted and the company went bankrupt. It has now re-emerged as Karma Automotive.
Henrik Fisker is back with an all new company, one he claims will make a fast-charging, long-range electric car that has no battery. Instead, it will employ graphene-based ultracapacitors. The technology breakthrough comes courtesy of Nanotech Energy, a UCLA research group that specializes in perfecting graphene energy storage devices.
“Graphene shows a higher electron mobility, meaning that electrons can move faster through it. This will charge a battery much faster,” says Lucia Gauchia, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and energy storage systems at Michigan Technological University. “Graphene is also lighter and it can present a higher active surface, so that more charge can be stored.”
Jack Kavanaugh, formerly with Nanotech Energy, has now partnered with Henrik Fisker to form Fisker Nanotech. “The challenge with using graphene in a supercapacitor in the past has been that you don’t have the same density and ability to store as much energy,” Kavanaugh says. “We have solved that issue with technology we are working on. Altering the structure of the graphene has allowed them to improve the supercapacitor’s energy density.”
In addition to its cutting-edge electricity storage feature, Fisker says the EMotion will be lighter than a comparable car because it will feature a combination of aluminum and carbon fiber in its construction.

Fisker EMotion: Carbon & Aluminum structure = 20% lighter structure than other cars its size. New proportions with Extreme low hood.
August 17 is now scheduled to be the day when the entire Fisker EMotion is revealed for all the world to see. We know the car will feature four butterfly doors. Fisker also says it will have a range of 400 miles. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in mid 2018.

Source: Inside EV

“I’d Like to Drive a Hybrid Car” Hyundai Commercial Debunks Stereotypes

Hybrid cars should have much higher sales in the U.S. They’re a compromise between the conscious knowledge that fossil fuel engines hurt the environment and the subconscious stress produced by range anxiety. So, why aren’t more people buying hybrid cars?
Maybe it’s because of misinformation campaigns from fossil fuel-funded news outlets like Breitbart, which states that, “Apart from being poky and tinny and smug and expensive and utterly useless for long distances, electric cars are also terrible for health and the environment.”
Whew! There is so much research out there to contradict these Breitbart fallacies. Here are some stories that demonstrate how foolish the Breitbart claims are. (Hang your cursor over the explanations.)
The popularity of hybrids is growing annually, and they have the potential to unseat gasoline as the fuel for our cars, which scares the bejesus out of oil companies.
Yet, let’s acknowledge a fact about consumerism: people tend to buy items that are highly marketed. Since U.S. automakers have devoted nearly nothing to advertise any type of electric vehicle, their appeal remains relatively low in the U.S.
That is, until now. The folks over at Hyundai have a new commercial out on the television airwaves right now that pitches the 2017 Ioniq, a hybrid vehicle. The commercial is an overt attempt to debunk stereotypes of a hybrid driver. Instead of hiding behind research data, Hyundai has created a marketing message that explicitly addresses the average U.S. person’s concerns about driving a hybrid car. It’s funny, self-deprecating, and very effective.
Title: “Hybrid Blues | Hyundai Ioniq HEV”
Voiceover/ male: “The world needed a better hybrid, so we built it. The all-new 2017 Hyundai Ioniq HEV.”
Key words/ terms/ messages: “better,” “all-new.”  The implication here with the word “better” is that Hyundai learned from past mistakes with hybrids. So, it’s revealing an “all-new” hybrid, one that is a product on the cutting edge in the car industry.
Person 1/ male construction worker: “I’d like to drive a hybrid car, but I’m not sure it’s for me.”
Key words/ terms/ messages: “like,” “not sure.” Many car consumers right now feel torn in two directions: a desire to move into sustainable transportation available through hybrids and other electric vehicles but an uncertainty that function won’t follow emotion. This is the essential tension right now in the electric car industry.
Person 2/ female Kenpō U.S. martial artist: “I don’t eat kale, and I’ve never hugged a tree.”
Key words/ terms/ messages: “kale,” “hug… tree.”  Kale, alongside trendy, chichi items like quinoa and craft beer, signify a millennial generation’s quest toward a healthier lifestyle through unusual artisan foods and beverages. Likewise, environmentalists who work to protect the world from destruction or pollution, embodied by the image of saving trees, can have a negative connotation in some circles as being effete, privileged, or out-of-touch with the reality of the working class.
Persons 3 and 4/ female dog groomer and female in surgical clothes: “I’d like to drive a hybrid car, But I’m not sure it’s for me.” (refrain)
Key words/ terms/ messages: Refrains are repetitions that assert the importance of an idea while enhancing the rhythm of the whole. When composers really want an audience to pay attention to a certain point or set of words, they use a refrain to make it evident. The uncertainty of owning a hybrid, balanced by the sense of yearning, is repeated here to emphasize the binary of good vs. evil, so prevalent in western culture.
Persons 5 and 6/ male playing paintball and male working a deli counter: “Lawnmower engines, no cargo room, and crappy batteries.”
Key words/ terms/ messages: “lawnmower engines,” “cargo room,” “crappy batteries.” Most gas lawn mowers have a 2 stroke engine, which would be unacceptable to power a car. SUVs are in such demand that almost every other segment has suffered as a result. Even Tesla battery partner Panasonic concedes that it is necessary to look at alternative battery power sources to gain more density; research into solid-state, lithium-air, and non-Li-ion batteries is the norm now.
Person 7/ female court stenographer: “I just wanna drive a good-looking whip with really great MPGs.”
Key words/ terms/ messages: “good-looking,” “great MPGs.” The confluence of appearance and high mileage is intentional here. Automobiles have been central to the identity of U.S. citizens for a century. They define our ideological landscape and are central to the American economy. Hyundai uses this plea for “great MPGs” as a way to introduce the Hyundai Ioniq in the next and final segment of the commercial, describing it as “the most fuel-efficient car in America.”
Voiceover/ male: “You know, the world didn’t need another hybrid. It needed a better hybrid. Introducing the Hyundai Ionic. The most fuel efficient car in America.”
Key words/ terms/ messages: “world,” “another,” “better,” “most fuel efficient car in America.” A majority of polled U.S. citizens are skeptical about the Trump administration’s approach to climate action and are starting to realize that each of us has to be conscious of our carbon footprint. Instead of adding “another” mediocre hybrid to their catalog, Hyundai argues that they have come up with a “better” alternative that answers many U.S. citizens’ concerns about electric vehicles.
Text: “The EPA est. 59 mpg. Hyundai Ioniq. The most fuel-efficient car in America. Better drives us. Hyundai.”
Key words/ terms/ messages: “59 mpg,” “better.” The Ioniq Hybrid has been officially certified by the EPA as getting 57 mpg city and 59 mpg highway. The Ioniq Hybrid will be joined in 2017 by an all electric version that Hyundai says will have 124 miles of range. “Better?” Are there any combustion engine SUVs in the U.S. that get this kind of gas mileage? Not.
The individuals depicted in this commercial are average people going through their daily work routines. They sing about their reluctance to buy a hybrid car, and their collective hesitation speaks to the next generation of car buyers in the U.S. Hyundai taps into this trepidation and refutes it successfully by allowing us to laugh at our fears.
Anybody who wants to know more about the Hyundai Ioniq after seeing this commercial could then turn to the Car and Driver product review. According to that publication, the whole reason the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq hybrid is here is that the manufacturer is ready to enact a long game that speaks to regulatory landscapes and fuel prices.
You can view the commercial here for yourself. Be sure to sing along with the Hyundai Ioniq song.

Photo credit: quinn.anya via / CC BY-SA

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Continental Invests More In Electric Car Propulsion, Less In Internal Combustion Engines

Continental is one of the largest suppliers to the world’s automobile manufacturers. It has built its business on building better internal combustion powertrains, but it can see that road coming to an end ahead, and so it plans to ramp up its investments in electric car propulsion systems. “We have to expect gradually falling demand for newly developed mechanic and hydraulic engine components,” Jose Avila, head of Continental’s powertrain unit, says. “This is why we will reduce our expenses into these technologies step by step.”
Aston Martin electric car
Continental says it will invest more than $300 million to develop and expand its electric car and and hybrid technologies over the next five years. It says it expects electric and hybrid car sales to account for 40% of the new car market by 2025. That’s a date that used to seem far away, but in the world of manufacturing where research and development often precede production by three to five years, it is just around the corner.
Ever tightening emissions standards in all markets around the globe are pushing vehicle manufacturers to plan for more electric and electrified products. Investing in both internal combustion engines and electric car technology is expensive. The announcement by Continental is the signal many electric car advocates have been waiting for. It suggests the pendulum is slowly swinging away from gasoline and diesel engines and toward a low- or zero-emissions future powered by batteries and electric motors.
That transition has stock brokers nervous. “Large chunks of today’s powertrain revenue streams are simply obsolete in battery-electric vehicles,” Victoria Greer, an analyst with Morgan Stanley said in a note to clients. “We continue to struggle with the companies’ message that electric vehicles will be a content multiplier.”
But Continental says it is well positioned to benefit from the shift. It manufactures a range of the components, sensors, and sophisticated electronics systems that cars will need in the future. It expects that to generate about €3,000 in revenue for every electric car it supplies parts for by the time 2025 gets here. That is three times the revenue it received from supplying components for conventional cars last year.
Source: Bloomberg

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Nio ES8 Electric SUV Isn’t Weird And That’s A Good Thing

Nio is a Chinese automotive startup begun by William Li. It was originally known as NextEV but switch its corporate name a few months back. Until the Shanghai auto show, it was known primarily for an extraordinarily fast all electric two seat supercar called the Nio EP9 which was shown circulating at speeds up to 160 mph at the Circuit of the Americas race track in Texas recently. This past week at the Shanghai auto show, Nio showed off a much more prosaic vehicle. Called the ES8, it is reported to be a 7 passenger electric SUV with all wheel drive.
Nio ES8 electric SUV
Details are hard to come by at this point. The ES8 is intended solely for the Chinese market, so far as we know. It rides on a 118 inch wheelbase and is 196 inches long overall. Both the body and the chassis are made entirely aluminum. A range of 300 miles is mentioned, but Asian carmakers often use a very optimistic standard. For now, assume an EPA range of 200 to 220 miles. No battery size was specified for the show car on display in China. Production is set to being later this year.
In a press release, Nio dropped this dollop of information: “The vehicle’s swappable battery will provide a charging experience that surpasses refuelling at gas stations. The manufacturing and supply chain that will produce the ES8 is already in place.” A swappable battery? That is a concept that others, including Tesla, explored a few years ago but dropped after tests proved it was too cumbersome and too costly. How Nio plans to overcome the technical and price concerns remains to be seen.
William Li, the CEO of Nio, told the press in Shanghai. “Today we unveiled our new production vehicle, the NIO ES8 to the China market. It is another statement of our vision and technical and manufacturing capabilities. It is a best-in-class product that showcases what is possible with electric vehicles. I am proud of our relentless focus on vision and action. From track to road, NIO continues to achieve major milestones every year.”
Nio ES8 electric SUV
The most shocking thing about the Nio ES8 is how utterly conventional it looks. Manufacturers are always pulled in opposite directions by the advent of new technology. On the one hand, they want their snazzy new gadget to be instantly recognizable as something new and exciting. Toyota went that way with the second generation Prius (the first generation had all the visual appeal of a lump of bread dough). Chevy started in that direction with the Volt but dialed back the wow factor for the second generation car to make it more appealing to mainstream drivers.
The ES8 is about as mainstream as it gets. An SUV is what the industry refers to as a “two box” design — a space up front for the mechanicals and a large box behind it for passengers and cargo. Every time a manufacturer tries to gussy up an SUV to make it more visually appealing, (the Tesla Model X and the Volkswagen CROZZ are two recent examples) they wind up lowering the amount of stuff the car can conveniently carry. Hauling stuff is theoretically the raison d’etre of any SUV, dating back to the original Ford Explorer.
Car News China carps, “the NIO ES8 needs a bit more crazy.” Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If a car can carry 7 people and all their gear and do it on battery power alone, that is a “Hurrah!” moment for the industry. We need more cars for mainstream folks and fewer cars for early adopters. Congratulations to Nio for not getting sucked into building a swoopy looking vehicle with no room inside for more than a carton of Kleenex and a miniature poodle.
Source: Cleantechnica  Photo credits: Nio

Aggressive Tesla Supercharger Expansion Planned Ahead Of Model 3 Launch

As Tesla prepares to move into mass-market sales of its electric cars, some owners have expressed concerns that all of those new Model 3 owners will overwhelm the existing Tesla Supercharger network. Things are especially bad in California, where Ben Sullins of Teslanomics says there are already 105 Teslas for every Supercharger station. (The average worldwide is about a third of that number.) The problem is only going to get worse in the Golden State, since Tesla says it will build Model 3 sedans for its employees at the Fremont factory first.
Tesla Supercharger expansion
To calm jittery current owners and reassure those who will be converting their Model 3 reservations to firm orders soon, Tesla issued a blog post today in which it promised it had a handle on the situation and it’s moving aggressively to expand its Tesla Supercharger network. “As Tesla prepares for our first mass-market vehicle and continues to increase our Model S and Model X fleet, we’re making charging an even greater priority. It is extremely important to us and our mission that charging is convenient, abundant, and reliable for all owners, current and future. In 2017, we’ll be doubling the Tesla charging network, expanding existing sites so drivers never wait to charge, and broadening our charging locations within city centers.”
The blog post goes on to say, “We started 2017 with over 5,000 Superchargers globally and by the end of this year, Tesla will double that number to total more than 10,000 Superchargers and 15,000 Destination Charging connectors around the world. In North America, we’ll increase the number of Superchargers by 150 percent, and in California alone we’ll add more than 1,000 Superchargers. We’re moving full speed on site selection and many sites will soon enter construction to open in advance of the summer travel season.
Some might quibble that the “summer travel season” is already close at hand, but not to worry. Any company that can install a total of 396 Powerpack grid storage batteries for Southern California Edison in just over 3 months time can find a way to install 1,000 Supercharger units in a few months. The plans and specifications are virtually identical from one Tesla Supercharger location to another. All that needs to be done is attend to the permitting process and hire the contractors. Get those backhoes fired up!
“[W]e know that to truly advance electric vehicle adoption, we must continue investing in charging infrastructure. Toward that goal, Tesla will build larger sites along our busiest travel routes that will accommodate several dozen Teslas Supercharging simultaneously. In addition, many sites will be built further off the highway to allow local Tesla drivers to charge quickly when needed, with the goal of making charging ubiquitous in urban centers.
“Tesla will continue to lead the industry with the fastest, most advanced charging technology in the world and continue to build the only cars capable of leveraging that power. The ongoing expansion of the networks will ensure that Tesla drivers are able to quickly and easily charge their vehicles no matter what, and that a seamless charging experience remains our priority.”
People debate whether Tesla’s stock price is too high or too low. When they do, they focus on the number of cars delivered or reservations taken. People seldom stop to consider that the Tesla Supercharger system is the world’s largest, most reliable, and most powerful electric car charging network, but it may prove to be one of the company’s most valuable assets in the future.
If only other manufacturers would put their money where their mouth is and take charging infrastructure seriously. Instead, most of them (especially the American automakers) are standing around with their hands in their pockets waiting for someone else to do the heavy lifting while whining that no one wants to buy electric cars. Yes, Mary Barra and Mark Fields, we are talking about you!
For a look at current and planned Supercharger locations, Tesla has a convenient interactive global map on its website.
Source and image credit: Tesla