Friday 9th March 2018.
Before I kick off the show today a word about the Tesla Semi Trucks on the road right now. The two prototypes we saw at launch are now ferrying batteries between the Gigafactory and Fremont for production. Lots of pictures are making their online, checkout InsideEVs or even just search on twitter.
TWITTER TIME WITH ELON REVEALS MORE
- A recent tweet by Elon Musk regarding Tesla maps and navigation suggests the product is nearly ready to roll out. And by that, of course, I mean an Over The Air (OTA) update. This is not to be confused with another story recently regarding a beta-test of the Tesla Autopilot.
- According to occasional reports from Tesla owners the current maps and navigation can plan odd or overly complex routes. It was all the way back in Summer of 2017 that reports surfaced of Tesla creating their own maps using open source code from MapBox and Valhalla.
- ‘Tesla Maps’ was first reported to Electrek.co by their reader ‘verygreen’ who hacked it in his own car. Late in 2017 the same hacker took Tesla’s 2017.44 software update and identified ‘Vector Maps’ within it. The benefit of those vector maps seems to be more detail, a further zoom and a smoother user interface.
- Going back to Elon’s tweet, what he previously described as ‘light years ahead’ he now says is ‘almost done’. Once again we’re learning more about the work Tesla is doing in the tweets Elon sends in response to questions from owners.
MORE BOLTS FROM BARRA
- General Motors CEO Mary Barra has announced her company will expand production of the Chevrolet Bolt. She was speaking recently at an energy conference by IHS Markit in Houston. There have been several stories in the news regarding comments made by oil execs about electric cars and they all seem to have happened there.
- Earlier this week Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser told CNBC it would take “generations” for a transformation toward electric vehicles. Much is a generation? 15 or 20 years? So multiples of that suggests electrification is 40 years off in his mind. Maybe I’m putting numbers into his mouth but you decide what that phrase means.
- However that’s where Mary Barra took the opportunity to disagree in a CNBC interview: “I think it’s going to happen more quickly than decades, as more and more people recognize that we have the right range, understand that we have a charging infrastructure so they don’t think you’re going to be stranded, I think you’re going to see EV adoption continue”.
- And that leads on to her comments about increased Chevrolet Bolt production later this year at its Orion Assembly plant near Detroit to meet growing demand around the world for the all-electric model.
- She didn’t give a percentage increase but would say the ramp-up would create new jobs at the plant, so it sounds like they’re adding shifts rather just offering a bit of overtime around.
- She also said: “We see a role in investing, in partnering and making sure that that customer need is fulfilled” in a move that signals partnership are on the cards for charging.
HATERS GONNA HATE
- Meanwhile perhaps the best people to ask about electric cars aren’t the folk who profit from selling fossil fuels. But let’s enjoy some comments from that same energy conference.
- BP CEO Bob Dudley sees “tremendous” opportunities around the corner, but they’re “not the silver bullet that everyone’s looking for.”
- Total’s CEO Patrick Pouyanne already has and EV. He likes how quiet it is, but say he has to rent a battery. “I’m spending more to rent my battery than to pay for the gasoline I was putting in my small car. I’m convinced that, in a big city, we’ll have plenty of electric cars in 10 to 15 years. When it comes to oil demand though let’s be clear that what is important is the kilometres driven, and a small car in the city does not drive a lot of kilometres a year”.
- Mike Lorenz, executive vice president of gasoline retail company Sheetz Inc., doesn’t see autonomous vehicles in the cards. “It’s one of those things that, it sounds cool, but I can’t see that happening any time soon.”
- And they all have a point from the perspective that only 20% global oil demand goes towards transport. Even if ever car on the planet was an EV, the other 80% of oil demand is actually in growth.
MCLAREN SAY NO TO EV
- McLaren Automotive won’t be adding an electric car to its range before 2022 because the Woking-based company believes they are not yet exciting enough to drive.
- McLaren boss Mike Flewitt has confirmed to Autocar that an EV isn’t on the medium term plan: “With EVs, developing is the right word, and we have an electric mule running around. It’s more for the attributes than the powertrain itself. How exciting can an EV be? Next to the Senna, it isn’t. It’s some way off and it’s not in the plan because we don’t have the answer at the moment.”
- He also said that to match the performance of a ICE supercar it would have enough batteries to weigh two tons.
- He’s obviously an expert, and I’m certainly not smart enough to be leading the road car project of the world’s second most successful F1 team of all time behind Ferrari but, and I mean this respectfully, the Rimac 2 announced at Geneva seemed to tick a lot of the boxes he says can’t be ticked. Even the Rimac One is a beast.
BUFFERING WITH BATTERY BACKUPS
- The latest crop of electric cars, from the I-PACE to the Audio e-tron talk about 150kW charge speeds. And of course Porsche are committed to 800-volt 350kW charging for their Mission E.
- You may also know that there are now five ultra fast charging network coming to Europe, so that we’re future-proofed for charging. Now a Danish company called Nerve Smart Systems claims those charging stations will handle full charge rates of multiple vehicles at once.
- Their solution is the Nerve Switch, a battery buffer which doesn’t require such a hefty grid connection, which saves time and money. Think off all those places where you’d love to stop for 20 minutes to top up to 80% state of charge, but they might not be places with deep pockets to fund a replacement and costly grid connection.
- The CEO, Jesper Boie Rasmussen, explains: “Most people talk about the range of electric vehicles, but in fact it’s the charging time that should worry future car owners when choosing between an electric and a conventional car. Towards 2020, the charger market is expected to grow by 30 percent annually, and by 2030, 30 percent of the European car fleet will consist of electric vehicles. It provides a great perspective for our solution because it both ensures fast charging for the car owners and solves the capacity problems on the power grid, which occur when more and more people are charging.”
- And once again it’s the pace of change which is enabling solutions, and this is key. It’s the bit I remind people of all the time. The curve can’t be calculated on the current technology. EV’s and their infrastructure are more silicon valley than Detroit and Munich. As new solutions are developed the costs shrink dramatically. Think of Moore’s Law with processing. And whilst the same law doesn’t apply to batteries or EV’s there’s something similar at play, which means the rulebook today is torn up tomorrow.
FROM A LISTENER
- Finally a quick mention for one of the podcast listeners in France. I haven’t asked him if I can use his name, so respectfully I won’t for now just in case people prefer their privacy, but it’s regarding wait times for the new Nissan LEAF
- This gentleman messaged me earlier to say his dealer called today, and his LEAF 2.zero launch edition which had been planned for mid-February, then delayed to 15th March was being pushed back again to 9th
- To add insult to injury, there is a 4000Euro scheme to trade in old diesels which expires at the end of this month, so around 750 people stand to lose thousands because they can’t take delivery in time.
- That sucks, I’m so sorry and disappointed for you.
- I did check in with the latest from Nissan and issued a statement today that they’re selling a new LEAF every 12 minutes, and that demand is strong. Orders are now up to 19,000, of which 13,000 were pre-orders. Of course in Europe they’re being made in Sunderland, the same location as where the batteries were being made before Nissan sold off their interest in that operation. I have no more knowledge of supply chains than you, but I’m sure if they could get you a car sooner they would. What I think suck is feeling let down. If you always knew it was April that is one thing, but twice being pushed back is what is not fair to you.
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