Good morning, good afternoon and good evening wherever you are in the world, welcome to EV News Daily for Friday 25th February. It’s Martyn Lee here and I go through every EV story so you don’t have to.
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FORD CEO ADMIRES TWO ELECTRIC VEHICLE MAKERS
– Ask Ford CEO and resident car super fan Jim Farley who he sees as his biggest competitors in the electric vehicle race, the answer isn’t fierce hometown rival General Motors.
– Rather, Farley acknowledges “admiring” two EV players in particular.
– “Well, the companies that I think about that I admire because of their commitment — and frankly, the hard work they did to earn their reputation — are companies like Nio and Tesla,” Farley said on Yahoo Finance Live. “They’ve been at this a long time. They engineer their vehicles differently. I’m most respectful of Tesla’s profitability. They’re now making more than $10,000 a vehicle in their second quarter earnings.”
– The Detroit-based auto giant said in September 2021 it will partner with SK Innovation to invest $11.4 billion to construct two “mega-sites” — one in Tennessee and the other in Kentucky — that will build electric trucks and batteries.
– Ford’s portion of the investment — $7 billion — is the largest manufacturing investment in the company’s 118-year-old history.
– Added Farley, “I think Ford has a real chance here [with EVs]. We’re not going to be in the same segments as them [Tesla, Nio]. We’re really doubling down on the customers and the segments we know really well. F-150 has been the best-selling vehicle in America for 40 years. And now we’re electrifying it. We’re just getting started. So I love those companies [Tesla, Nio]. But I think we have a wonderful opportunity at Ford, maybe one we haven’t had since the Model T.”
MERCEDES-BENZ TO OFFER HANDS-FREE TRAFFIC JAM ASSIST IN US THIS YEAR
– As reported by Automotive News, the company released this important information on Thursday as part of its 2021 financial-results presentation. During the call, CEO Ola Kallenius said the plan is not only to roll out the Drive Pilot system in the US this year
– On suitable stretches of highway, Drive Pilot allows a vehicle to accelerate, steer and stop by itself at speeds up to 37 mph. What makes this technology an SAE Level 3 conditional autonomous system is that the motorist does not have to constantly supervise the vehicle — they can fiddle with the infotainment system or, if allowed by law, play with their smartphone
– Last December, Mercedes-Benz became the first automaker to earn permission from the German government to test Level 3 autonomous. The system is approved to work on nearly 8,200 miles of highway in the country.
MEN TAKE ELECTRIC VEHICLE FOR RECORD-BREAKING 35,770-MILE TRIP
– A pair of adventurers set a new Guinness World Record by taking a 97-day, 35,770-mile journey across the United States in an electric vehicle.
– Rainer Zietlow, a professional long-distance driver from Germany, and Derek Collins began their journey on July 13, 2021, at Volkswagen’s U.S. headquarters in Virginia.
– The men drove their Volkswagen ID.4 through 49 states before ending their journey on Oct. 18 back at the Volkswagen building.
– Guinness announced Wednesday that the trip officially set the world record for longest journey by electric vehicle in a single country. Zietlow and Collins said they visited more than 600 Volkswagen dealerships during the trip and made more than 200 stops to charge the vehicle’s battery.
– Zietlow and Collins were supported during their trip by the HARTING Technology Group.
“We’re here to prove that an electric vehicle is a decidedly viable solution, whether you’re only driving short distances or off on a road trip across the country. The technology is there. The infrastructure is in place,” said Jon DeSouza, managing director of HARTING Americas.
STELLANTIS ANNOUNCES FIAT COMBUSTION PHASE-OUT
– Stellantis gave new details on its electrification strategy when presenting its 2021 financials: Fiat and Abarth are to become pure BEV brands in Europe from 2027 onwards.
– Until now, Fiat gave a rough time window for decarbonising all car models of between 2025 and 2030 for this. At the time, the reasoning was that Fiat would then become an all-electric brand as soon as electric cars were cheaper than comparable combustion engines.
– With Fiat and Abarth, the concrete dates for the Stellantis brands five and six are now fixed, which will do without the combustion engine in the future, at least in Europe. Stellantis had already announced that DS would become pure electric car brands from 2024, Lancia from 2026, Alfa Romeo from 2027 and Opel from 2028.
POLESTAR FINDS PARTNERS IN NEXT STEPS TO BUILD THE POLESTAR 0 PROJECT
– Polestar wants to build more than build just zero-emission cars and SUV. It wants to build vehicles that are completely carbon neutral.
– The Volvo sister brand announced on Wednesday that it’s partnering with major automotive suppliers for the Polestar 0 Project. The moon-shot idea, which was first hatched by the company last year, aims to deliver a truly carbon-neutral car by 2030. The company doesn’t just want to plant trees to offset carbon emissions, either. The idea is to eliminate carbon emissions from the supply chain, changing the way cars are made in the process.
– EV maker has linked up with several companies that will provide zero-carbon materials that can be used throughout the vehicle, according to a press release. Metal producer SSAB is collaborating with Polestar on fossil-free steel, ZF is working on the powertrain and Autoliv will produce airbags and seatbelts. Meanwhile, ZKW is working on a carbon-neutral electric control systems and wiring, while Hydro, a renewable energy company, plans to work on zero-carbon aluminum.
CHINA’S FIRST HIGHWAY BATTERY SWAP SERVICE FOR HEAVY-DUTY TRUCKS GET GOING
– China’s first highway battery swap service for heavy-duty trucks plying trunk lines has officially started.
– Developed by Chinese power battery giant Contemporary Amperex Technology, the service covers a 175-kilometer section of highway between the cities of Ningde and Fuzhou, the capital of Fujian province, and went into operation on Feb. 22, Ningde-based CATL said in a statement yesterday.
– The first battery swappable dump trucks co-developed by CATL and Chinese heavy machinery giant Sany Heavy Industry were also delivered yesterday, the firm said. The trucks use CATL’s large-capacity lithium iron phosphate battery and can change power packs in three to five minutes.
– CATL chose heavy-duty trucks for battery swapping because of their high feasibility, an industry insider told Yicai Global. Commercial truck routes are fixed, making the cost of building swap stations along the routes relatively low and requiring less complicated technologies, especially for short-distance truck runs.
– China had only 1,298 battery swap facilities at the end of last year, according to data from the China Electric Vehicle Charging and Swapping Infrastructure Promotion Alliance. The market was basically divided between Chinese electric carmaker Nio and battery swap service provider Aulton New Energy Automotive Technology.
META SHARES NEW INSIGHTS INTO THE KEY CHALLENGES FOR MARKETERS OF ELECTRIC VEHICLES
– “During the pandemic, global English-language conversations about electric vehicles (EVs) grew a staggering 238% on Facebook. But while the conversation trended upward, more than half of auto intenders surveyed aren’t actively considering electric vehicles.”
– First off, the research shows many auto buyers are indeed considering EVs, with some 42% now at least looking into electric cars.
– That makes sense, but the data also shows that many people that have some interest in EVs remain distant from the actual buying process, with the majority of respondents having never even been in an electric car.
– That suggests that the core messaging around these aspects is not getting through, and Meta says that sellers of EVs need to do better at communicating the benefits around maintenance, performance and the development of infrastructure to support charging needs.
– “These consumers are far more likely to respond to messaging around pragmatic issues like maintenance costs and safety.”
– Meta’s data shows that, as with the basic principle of all marketing, people buy based on what’s in it for them, not what your brand messaging may be. As such, it’s important for marketers to keep in mind the practicalities, even with newer technological developments – because while it may be great to focus on the benefits for the environment, and that may sway buyers to a degree, the real test is in how it will impact their lives, and the benefits they can gain by buying in.
TESLA’S MUST-HAVE SUBSCRIPTION GETS CHEAPER WITH A NEW YEARLY OPTION
– Everyone loves saving a little bit of money, right? After toying with the idea late last year, Tesla has launched its yearly Premium Connectivity subscription in the U.S. for a discounted price of $99 per year. Until now, the service ran Tesla owners $9.99 per month.
– While this isn’t a considerable discount by any means, being able to sign up for a yearly subscription is easier than monthly payments, plus it’s saving owners $20 per year.
– According to Tesla’s website, “Orders of Model S, Model X, Model Y, and Model 3 will receive a Premium Connectivity trial at delivery.” The trial is to get you hooked on all the excellent features, and then you’ll want to keep using them. After the trial expires, users should see a popup similar to the image above.
– If you don’t get the in-car popup option to switch to an annual plan for Tesla Premium Connectivity, you can go to the management screen inside the Tesla app and make the switch.
SEC PROBES ELON MUSK AND HIS BROTHER KIMBAL OVER STOCK SALES
– The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating whether Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Elon Musk and his brother Kimbal violated securities laws when selling shares in the company late last year, according to a person familiar with the matter.
– The regulator’s investigation is focused on transactions that took place just before Elon Musk polled his Twitter followers on whether he should sell a 10% stake in the company. The SEC is looking into whether any insider-trading rules were violated, said the person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named because the inquiry is private.
– Tesla stock slumped after the CEO’s Nov. 6 Twitter poll, closing down the most in five months. Kimbal Musk, a Tesla board member, had sold 88,500 Tesla shares worth about $109 million on Nov. 5, according to a filing after the market closed that day.
– This month, Tesla disclosed that it had received an SEC subpoena Nov. 16 seeking information about its governance processes and compliance with a settlement it reached with the agency in September 2018 over Elon Musk’s tweeting.
– The dispute gathered fresh steam last week, when Musk’s lawyer told a federal court that the SEC was targeting Musk and the electric car maker with an “unrelenting investigation”
ASCEND ELEMENTS SAYS IT CAN EXTRACT 99.9% PURE GRAPHITE FROM USED LI-ION BATTERIES
– Ascend is currently producing battery-grade graphite at its facility in Westborough, Massachusetts. The company says its technology consistently yields over 99.9% pure graphite, which offers energy capacity and cycle life on par with virgin battery-grade graphite anode material. Its Hydro-to-Anode process technology can be used for both cathode active materials and anode materials.
– Ascend says its recycling and manufacturing processes can reclaim not only high-purity graphite, but also lithium and cobalt.
CITY DEPLOYS PIONEERING CURBSIDE STATION FOR CHARGING ELECTRIC VEHICLES
– An electric vehicle (EV) charging station was deployed on Thursday at the Ritz at Washington Heights park, pioneering technology that could provide a solution for people that lack the off-street parking needed for home charging systems.
– The new solution, PoleVolt, uses existing streetlight infrastructure to slash the costs associated with installing charging stations by as much as fifty percent. In Charlotte, much of the streetlighting infrastructure uses overhead wiring. By connecting to those circuits, additional wiring is not needed underground.
– The unit was installed at the Ritz at Washington Heights, a new park developed in Charlotte’s Historic West End.
CHINA’S GIANT GRID OPERATOR PLANS WORLD’S BIGGEST BATTERY STORAGE FLEET
– China’s key grid operator plans to have the world’s largest battery storage fleet by 2030, as the nation works to stabilize power supply with wind and solar adoption accelerating rapidly.
– State Grid, which operates almost 90% of China’s power system, aims to have 100 gigawatts of electrochemical energy storage by the start of next decade, up from 3 gigawatts now
– BloombergNEF forecasts all of China to have about 96 gigawatts of battery storage by 2030, just behind the U.S. with a fleet of 99 gigawatts.
– State Grid will also aims to almost quadruple its pumped hydro storage capacity to 100 gigawatts by 2030, and to increase its cross-provincial power transmission capacity to support the massive buildout of solar and wind generation in China’s western desert
ORA CEO SAYS LOWER-PRICED MODEL BRINGS LOSSES OF OVER $1,580 PER UNIT SOLD
– Last week local media reported that Ora, Great Wall Motor’s electric vehicle (EV) brand, had stopped taking orders for the White Cat and Black Cat models in China, sparking speculation that the two models would be discontinued. Now the brand’s CEO has officially responded.
– “The Black Cat and White Cat models stopped receiving orders but were not discontinued, and we did encounter difficulties,” the statement said.
– Although Ora has the advantage on the supply chain, the two models are still giving the company a huge loss, Dong said, adding that in the case of the Black Cat, for example, the company is losing more than 10,000 yuan ($1,580) per unit sold after a significant increase in raw material prices in 2022.
– Ora had no choice but to stop taking orders for the two models, which have become the stars of the small EV market with cumulative sales of 173,000 units since their launch, he said.
– Against the backdrop of chip and battery shortages, orders for the Black Cat and White Cat models still awaiting delivery to customers exceed 20,000 units, Dong said, adding that if Ora continues to accept new orders, consumers ordering now will have to wait until the second half of 2022 for delivery.
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