Tuesday 1st May 2018.
FIRST DRIVE: BMW i8 ROADSTER
- Both of BMW i Series cars are unique in terms of having nothing obvious to compare them to. And when I say both maybe I should say three ? as the BMW i3S is not a thing, being lower, wider and with a bit more squirty. And if I’m going that, we should four models, because the BMW Roadster in i8 form is an updated car with a missing roof, for full wind-in-you-hair / bald patch driving. As first seen at the LA Motor Show in 2017 we now know what it’s like behind the wheel.
- It’s interesting when a slew of articles all drop into my Google Alerts inbox at the same time, it normally means a car maker has had an embargo on magazines running their reviews before a certain date. And so it was yesterday with the i8 Roaster. So let’s take a look my three favourite reviews I’ve read, and picked out the highlights for you:
- BMW BLOG: “The three-cylinder, 1.5-liter turbocharged petrol engine is untouched, mated to an electric motor and six-speed automatic gearbox, powering the rear wheels. While an electric motor powers the front wheels, thus giving it real-time torque-vectoring all-wheel drive. The capacity of the lithium-ion battery has been increased, now at 34 ampere-hours instead of 20, and gross energy capacity now 11.6 kWh, up from 7.1. This permits an increased electric-only driving range up from 20 to 33 miles.”
- AutoExpress: “In the four years since BMW launched its i8 Coupe, the company has sold 13,000 examples of the carbon-tub, petrol-electric hybrid. That improved battery range is instantly noticeable, too. Whereas in the original Coupe the electric motor could be easily side-lined by the turbocharged petrol engine, now the electrified elements of the powertrain are far more willing and able to take on longer and quicker driving duties”
- EVO: “Away from the battery cell improvements, the big technological change to the i8 Roadster is the one made to the car’s structure in turning it from a coupe to a convertible.With the roof down the electric motors that is all but mute in the coupe gains a voice ? admittedly a bit of a whiny voice, but if you’re a sci-fi fan you’ll probably think you’re an extra in Tron as the sound intensifies as speeds increase. If you’ve ever been to a Formula E race (honestly, give one a go) it’s not far off the noise the single-seaters make when accelerating out of slower corners. Talking of which, another benefit of the larger-capacity battery cells is that the i8 Roadster will now happily drive along under electric power alone at speeds up to 75mph.”
- So there you have it. Want one? That will be £125,000 please. I won’t do the conversion to US$ because I always mess up the taxes and VAT. But you get the idea, you need to be making bank to pop down BMW and buy one. You could have a Jag F-Type for seven grand less, or a Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster for a mere £111,000, but why be cheap. Go big and get a proper fast EV hybrid.
TESLA MODEL 3 ACCELERATION SHOWCASED IN HIGH-SPEED AUTOBAHN SPRINT
- “A Tesla enthusiast from Germany has taken the Model 3 to the Autobahn to observe the acceleration and high-speed performance of the compact electric car” report Teslarati.
- The top speed reached was 130mph and of course done legally as you can on certain stretches of the German roads. It was Tesla Marcus who live streamed it over the weekend. He observed the acceleration was not quite on par with Model S. But hey, neither is the price! I’ll put a link to the Teslarati article in the show notes as it’s only fair to send traffic to them but they link through to the video.
SF MOTORS BRINGING NEW ELECTRIC VEHICLE R&D FACILITY TO SILICON VALLEY
- There’s nothing better than seeing announcements turn into reality, and new companies making a go of the thing Elon says nobody should ever try ? launch a new automotive company.
- One of those is SF Motors and today they announced the opening of a new R&D facility in McCarthy Creekside, California. Do any of our California listeners know it?
- The company currently has R&D facilities in Santa Clara, Calif.; Ann Arbor, Mich.; and Stuttgart, Germany. The company CTO, Yifan Tang, will oversee R&D and low volume manufacturing at the 130,000 sq/ft facility. “Adding to our existing R&D labs, this new facility will conduct extensive design validation testing and low-volume manufacturing necessary to ensure smooth transition to mass production of our batteries and electric powertrains, which are key components of our vehicles,” says Tang. “Drawing on our global business model and decades of manufacturing experience, locating this facility near our Silicon Valley headquarters will strategically ensure quality and efficiency as we prepare to bring our intelligent EVs to market.”
- A reminder they’re targeting 200,000 units per year but I don’t know when, in context, the established Model S and Model X lines will do around 60,000 units each per year, and obviously dwarfed by Model 3.
UK INSTAVOLT CHARGING NETWORK FREE IN MAY
- In the UK electric vehicle (EV) charging company InstaVolt is making its rapid charging stations completely free to use for the entire month of May as a celebration of the company’s 100th charger going live. InstaVolt’s charging stations are available to use on a pay-as-you-go basis, with no subscription or membership required. Drivers simply tap their contactless credit or debit card, charge up and go. There’s no minimum spend and no connection fee.
- This month, start your charge as normal by tapping a card, but you won’t be billed. And it’s unlimited.
- “The UK needs a solid public charging infrastructure and we’re working at a rate of knots to make that a reality” said InstaVolt CEO Tim Payne. “We’re switching on new rapid charging stations every week and we’re thrilled to have hit this important milestone of 100. It’s our pleasure to share that celebration with EV drivers across the UK and offer them free charging throughout the month of May.”
PSA’S DS BRAND WILL ELECTRIFY THE PREMIUM SECTOR
- PSA Group’s premium DS brand said that all its new models from 2025 will have only full-electric or hybrid drivetrains, and that it will present its first battery electric vehicle at the Paris auto show in October.
- “Our ambition is very clear: For DS to be among the global leaders in electrified cars in its market,” DS CEO Yves Bonnefont said in a press release yesterday. ” PSA will offer 40 electrified models across its five brands — Peugeot, Citroen, Opel, Vauxhall and DS — worldwide by 2025, CEO Carlos Tavares told the Automotive News World Congressat the start of this year.
- I’ve added a link to that press release on the show notes. Another big announcement, and time for another reality check, 7 years is a lifetime away. 7 years ago the world was totally different, and 7 years before than in 2004, there was no such thing as YouTube or Twitter, and Mark Zuckerberg was in his dorm room at Harvard writing code for The FaceMash, the website that as a precursor to TheFacebook. So yes, 2025 is a long way off.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY ANNOUNCES $19 MILLION FOR ADVANCED BATTERY AND ELECTRIFICATION RESEARCH
- Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $19 million to support twelve new cost-shared research projects focused on batteries and vehicle electrification technologies to enable extreme fast charging.
- The projects announced today will help advance DOE’s research on batteries and electrification aimed at reducing battery pack cost to under $100 per kilowatt-hour, increasing range to over 300 miles, and charging in under 15 minutes or less by 2028.
- All investment is welcome, who wouldn’t love $19m, but split between 12 projects? We’ll hear tomorrow how much Tesla lost in Q1, if it’s in the ball park of USD$700m it would seem OK, so if you want to see what’s really at the sharp end of battery R&D, you might need to spend a bit more.
MERCEDES-BENZ KILLS ITS ‘TESLA POWERWALL KILLER’
- That’s a great headline from Electrek. And it’s sadly true, whenever anyone launches a product up against Tesla, whether it’s in the car or energy space, the headline writers will call it a Tesla killer. I did it without realising a couple of months back talking about the Mercedes S-Class electric equivalent, the EQS.
- And so often other companies look at Tesla, and say anything you can do, we can do better. Except, they can’t. Mercedes Benz had their own version of the Tesla Powerwall, selling solar and battery packages alongside Vivent. But GreenTechMedia got a statement saying: “It’s not necessary to have a car battery at home: they don’t move, they don’t freeze. It’s overdesigned.”
- Maybe that’s true, but it was also woeful compared to the Powerwall. The Merc modular system was 2.5kWh at the smallest capacity, starting at $5,000. It was too much compared to the dollar cost per kWh of Tesla.
BLOCKCHAIN COULD REVOLUTIONISE EV CHARGING
- Question: do you understand Blockchain? Properly understand it? No me neither. “Using blockchain technology, peer-to-peer networks have established marketplaces to connect EV drivers so they can share charging stations with each other” says EnergyFuse: “Residential and commercial EV owners can make a profit by allowing others to access their chargers, and drivers have the flexibility to charge their vehicles at different locations. Companies in banking, finance, insurance, oil trading, and utilities have been moving to blockchains?decentralized distributed ledgers that record online transactions?to improve efficiencies”
- “It’s Airbnb for EV charging,” Preston Roper, COO of eMotorWerks, told The Fuse. eMotorWerks, a California-based firm that focuses on EV charging technologies, was the first company in the United States to establish a peer-to-peer network in its partnership with Share&Charge.
- I get how that works, but I still don’t get how the blockchain makes this possible. Do I sounds like those people who first saw the internet in the 90s and said ‘what IS it’?
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