Friday 16th March 2018.
RECORD BREAKING BATTERIES
- Firstly apologies for missing this is as part of the Volkswagen Press Conference this week. It’s a small detail but I think it’s perhaps the most significant of all the announcements. And that’s quite a statement given the headline number was 20 billion Euros in contracts ? not promises or press releases for commitments to clean up ? signed contracts for battery supply in China and Europe, with an announcement for North America to come.
- I think the most startling figure wasn’t 20 billion, but 100. Just 100 euros was the key number and I missed it. But it was in the Q&A section, so that’s my defence! The CEO confirmed it has written battery contracts for under 100 Euro per kWh.
- Let’s add some caveats to that. WE don’t know any more about the deal, or whether there were a range of contracts, which is almost certain, and that was the lowest price or even the average price across all of them. We do know, unlike with Tesla’s Gigafactory and Panasonic, VW don’t want to be in the business of making batteries, so that 100 euros per kWh could be the price per battery delivered, which would be very impressive if true, considering hundreds of millions required for capital investment had they followed Tesla in making the batteries.
- That works out to $120 – $125, which is competitive against GM saying they were in the region of $145. Given VW need most of their batteries from 2022 onwards, given the rapid price fall of batteries, if these contracts are 100 euros four years away that is more reasonable. We just don’t know yet. Elon Musk has talked about $100 being an inflection point when electric cars, whose battery is by far the most expensive part, become the same as combustion engine cars.
- Given VW suppliers will be making a profit on those prices, I think that’s good news for Tesla. Although they do have the sunk costs of infrastructure and staff at Gigafactory 1, 2, 3 and onwards, the sheer scale of half a million Model 3’s per year mean that magical $100 shouldn’t be too far off. It seems like not so long ago we were talking about the price dropping $1000 per kWh.
AUDI E-TRON PRICE AND GT VERSION
- Staying with VW and their Audi brand will be out of the blocks with the e-tron soon. The prototypes ferrying car journalists around at the Geneva Motor Show last week were looking quite advanced. And now we know two things, when you can have one and how much they’ll cost.
- The e-tron will be available by the end of the year, and the price will start at 80,000 euros. It’s already on sale in some parts of Europe if you want to place a deposit.
- Some extra detail I’m not surprised about is a GT, or Gran Turismo, version coming soon. Just as the Jaguar I-PACE sees value in the electric racing series supporting Formula E, which will have a halo effect on the cars and the brand, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jaguar Land Rovers performance teams allowed to add some bells and whistles it for a road going version. Remember as well the Tesla-based Electric GT championship now has FIA approval and looks to be on track to race late this year or next year.
- A quick check of the CHAdeMO website sees the total number of installed chargers heading towards 18,000 which up 30% year on year. Which countries and manufacturers will adopt and promote which technology is one of the most interesting parts of the future EV economy. As of the end of last year, 775,000 CHAdeMO compatible cars are on the roads, out of which 330,000 found a home in Europe, which saw a 50% increase in CHAdeMO chargers. That’s impressive as Europe is heading towards nearly all rapid chargers being CCS.
- CHAdeMO are keen to highlight their bidirectional capability as Vehicle 2 Grid becomes of interest to both buyers and utilities, who see a large stock of EVs as the perfect way to smooth out the peaks of the grid when electricity generation gets the most expensive. CHAdeMO also have confirmed specs for 200kW speeds and soon 400kW specs will be announced. That should future-proof even the most aggressive of fast chargers. Once again, it’s always worth saying, nearly all charging is carried out at home or work.
HYUNDAI WANTS MORE COLD WEATHER MILES
- Hyundai have been talking to Electrek about the cold weather performance of the Kona. It comes with a heat pump which is an expensive option on many EV.
- Electrek says the smart air intake recycles heated air by controlling the amount of air entering and exiting the vehicle. By better controlling the air flow inside the vehicle, the HVAC system is able to heat the cabin more efficiently, thereby minimizing the amount of heating used during winter driving. There’s a driver-only button you can push which shuts off any heating to the passenger side of the vehicle, again savings energy when it’s very cold.
- Maybe those options above aren’t so critical with the 64kWh battery but with the smaller, more affordable 39.2 kWh pack it will add valuable miles to the range.
PANASONIC ADD ANOTHER LOCATION
- Panasonic has confirmed they have started production of new prismatic batteries in China.
Panasonic will manufacture the high-capacity and high-safety prismatic-type batteries at this factory and ship them to the North American and Chinese markets. This gives them facilities to serve the USA, Japan and China.
- Finally Tesla has started an Over The Air update of the latest new software to and owners testing it are reporting improvements to the Autopilot system. We knew it was coming, Elon said it was coming, and we never doubted it!
- Electrek say: “Autopilot 2.0/2.5 drivers who reached out to Electrek are seeing a significant improvement in lane detection, a reduction of “ping-ponging” within a lane, and a generally better experience when Autosteer is activated. Some are also reporting a more efficient Traffic-Aware Cruise Control to slow down and stop when locked into a lead vehicle.” Where do you stand on the Autopilot 1 vs Autopilot 2 debate?
- In another report the general responsiveness and speed of the touchscreen has also been noticeably improved.
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