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Tesla’s Model 3 Gears Up for a Major Interior Makeover
Tesla is on the verge of launching a refreshed Model 3, with its Giga Shanghai facility already in the trial-production phase.
More camouflaged prototypes were spotted in California and around Giga Shanghai in China with dark windows and a covered dashboard, suggesting a significant redesign.
Over the past three months, any production halts at Giga Shanghai or the Fremont factory have been speculated to be due to preparations for the refreshed Model 3 production.
In May, a YouTuber offered the first glimpse inside the refreshed Model 3 cockpit, revealing a covered dashboard and missing steering wheel stalks. This was further confirmed when the driver was seen touching the screen to put the car in reverse, a feature familiar to Model S or Model X drivers.
The refreshed Model 3 is rumored to include innovative features such as a new steer-by-wire system, matrix LED headlights, and HW4 with more cameras. However, the steer-by-wire info should be taken with a grain of salt as it might be an unnecessary complication for the Model 3.
Other expected upgrades include ventilated seats, ambient lighting, and an improved sound system.
Tesla’s Pricing Strategy: A Nod to Traditional Sales Tactics?
Tesla’s dynamic pricing model, which includes multiple price cuts since January, is contributing to the company’s goal of growing deliveries by 50% annually.
Tesla sold a record 889,015 vehicles globally from January to June, capturing about 60% of the U.S. EV market in the first half.
CEO Elon Musk stated that Tesla is willing to further reduce prices to balance supply and demand, receiving daily reports on factory production and customer orders.
However, analysts suggest that Tesla’s pricing model is not revolutionary and shares drawbacks with other sales tools, such as reducing residual values for existing owners and potentially damaging brand image through heavy discounts.
Tesla’s direct-to-consumer model allows the automaker to change prices quickly without consulting retailers, a flexibility that legacy brands do not have.
Legacy automakers have been hesitant to follow Tesla’s lead on EV pricing tactics, with most leaning on traditional incentives such as interest-rate deals or subsidized leases.
Tesla’s dynamic pricing has affected legacy brands as they move into EVs. For example, Ford reduced the price of its Mustang Mach-E crossover after Tesla’s biggest price reductions in January.
Tesla has been offering its own incentives, such as deep discounts on inventory vehicles, free charging on its national Supercharger network, and additional vehicle discounts for using a referral code from current Tesla owners.
Tesla’s lack of a dealer network to absorb excess inventory when demand softens is a disadvantage compared to legacy brands. This is one reason why Tesla has been aggressive on prices to keep their lots moving.
Despite robust sales, inventories of electric vehicles have been rising rapidly in recent months, suggesting that legacy automakers may follow Tesla’s lead and cut prices or further boost incentives to move cars off dealer lots.
Tesla V4 Supercharger Network Expands in Europe
Tesla has opened five V4 Supercharger stations in Europe, with three of them launched in recent couple of weeks.
The latest V4 Superchargers are located in France and Austria.
The world’s first V4 Supercharger site was opened back in March in the Netherlands, consisting of 16 stalls.
Tesla unveiled its second V4 Supercharger station two weeks ago in France, next to the Ibis Hotel in Clermont-Ferrand. This station has 12 stalls, including one for larger vehicles or vehicles with trailers, and plans to add a solar canopy for environmentally friendly charging.
The third V4 Supercharger site in the world was opened in France near the A7 highway in the south, Chasse-sur-Rhone. This station contains eight stalls open to all brands of electric vehicles.
The fourth V4 Supercharger site was opened in Graz, Austria. The site currently has eight stalls, but more are expected to be added.
A fifth V4 Supercharger site has also been opened in France, in Rennes. It consists of 20 stalls with a capacity of 250 kW each, making it the third V4 Supercharger station in France.
Tesla Boosts Referral Program with Demo Drive Sign-ups
Tesla has updated its owner referral program to include sign-ups for demo drives, rewarding owners for getting people to test drive Tesla vehicles.
The company believes that the best way to sell electric vehicles is to get potential buyers to experience electric propulsion firsthand, which often results in a positive response.
To encourage more test drives, Tesla has added an option in its referral program for owners to refer people for demo drives instead of directly referring them to buy.
Tesla owners are incentivized to sign people up for test drives with 100 Tesla credits per sign-up.
For potential buyers, if they purchase a vehicle after a demo drive from a referrer, they will receive benefits from the referral program. These include $500 off and 3 months of Full Self-Driving package for Model 3 or Model Y purchases, and $1,000 off and 3 months of Full Self-Driving package for Model S or Model X purchases.
Porsche Unveils Luxurious EV Charging Hub in Germany
Porsche has opened its first luxury charging hub in Germany, featuring six 300-kW DC fast-charging stalls and four 22-kW AC charging points.
The lounge is designed to be accessed either by an automatic license plate recognition system or by using the MyPorsche app. It also offers food and drinks inside.
In the future, Porsche anticipates even faster charging speeds will be afforded by 400-kW chargers.
The interior of the charging lounge is similar to an airline lounge, with snacks and drinks available.
The concept of an airport-style charging network isn’t new, but Porsche is one of the first to commit to building several lounges of this type, with more planned for Austria, Switzerland, and Germany.
The feasibility of a similar charging lounge in North America is uncertain, but with the increasing number of electric Porsche models, it could be a possibility in the future.
Mercedes-Benz Vote Of Confidence In Management
Mercedes-Benz’s Supervisory Board has extended the contracts of CEO Ola Källenius and CTO Markus Schäfer.
Källenius’ contract has been extended for another five years, until May 21, 2029, while Schäfer’s contract will now run until May 21, 2026.
The extensions reflect the board’s confidence in the leadership of Källenius and Schäfer, who have positioned Mercedes-Benz strongly for the future with a focus on electrification and digitalization.
The board praised Källenius for his strategic vision and determination in implementing a sustainable business strategy, and Schäfer for his contributions to providing Mercedes-Benz with state-of-the-art technology.
Mercedes-Benz CEO: Transition to EVs is a Marathon, Not a Sprint
Mercedes-Benz CEO Ola Källenius emphasizes that the transition to zero-emission mobility is a marathon, not a sprint, highlighting the significant challenges facing the automotive industry.
Källenius believes that the industry is only at the early stages of this transition, likening it to being on the eighth or ninth kilometer of a marathon.
The company reported an 8% increase in earnings before interest and taxes for the second quarter, reaching 5 billion euros (approximately $5.48 billion).
Sales of battery electric vehicles reached 61,211, compared to 31,259 in the second quarter of 2022. Plug-in hybrid sales for the second quarter were 34,699, a slight increase from the 32,335 sold in the same period last year.
Källenius also highlighted that Mercedes-Benz is investing in new architectures that will define their electric vehicle offerings for the second half of this decade.
However, he stressed the importance of maintaining tactical flexibility in balancing electric vehicles with traditional autos, noting that their production network is flexible to produce both high-tech electrified combustion engines and electric vehicles.
GM to Kickstart Battery Module Production in Canada
General Motors (GM) has announced plans to start producing battery modules at its Ingersoll plant in Canada by the second quarter of 2024.
The move is aimed at supporting GM’s growing production of electric vehicles, as battery supply has become a bottleneck for the plant.
The new facility, covering approximately 37,000 square feet, will assemble battery cells into modules for GM’s BrightDrop brand of electric vans, as well as electric vehicles based on the Ultium platform built at other GM plants.
GM has not specified the source of the cells that will be assembled into modules at the Ingersoll plant. The company is known to manufacture battery cells through its joint venture with LG Energy Solution, Ultium Cells.
The new battery assembly is expected to create nearly 300 new jobs.
GM also plans to increase production capacities for battery modules at its other North American electric vehicle plants, although the specific locations and extent of the expansions have not been disclosed.
Recently I told you that the company had to halt the production of its BrightDrop electric transporters at the Ingersoll plant for the entire month of July due to battery supply problems.
The production in Ingersoll is expected to reach 50,000 electric transporters annually by 2025.
However, it is currently unclear what proportion of the modules assembled in Ingersoll will be for the company’s own use and how many can be supplied to other plants.
China’s Thirst for Gasoline May Hit Its Peak in 2024 Amidst EV Boom
The International Energy Agency (IEA) now expects China’s gasoline demand to peak in 2024, bringing forward previous forecasts of demand leveling off in 2025/2026.
China’s dependence on oil is continuing to decline, as sales of electric vehicles (EVs) that don’t require refueling continue to grow rapidly.
China’s demand for gasoline could peak as early as next year as sales of EVs soar, a Reuters report said today, citing several analysts.
Peak production is expected to reach 3.7 million barrels per day (bpd), but as early as the first quarter of 2024, compared with previous forecasts of 2024-2025.
In contrast, Chinese state-owned giants PetroChina and Sinopec expect peak gasoline demand in China to come in 2025.
In the first half of the year, China sold 3.75 million NEVs (NEVs), including plug-in hybrids as well as zero-emission battery-electric vehicles, up 44.54 percent year-on-year, contributing 28 percent of all vehicle sales of 13.24 million units, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM).
Rivian CEO Compares Buying a Gas Car to Erecting a Stable in the Age of Automobiles
Rivian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe compared buying an internal combustion engine vehicle to building a horse barn in 1910, when cars started to flood the market, reducing the need for horse-drawn carriages.
Scaringe believes that traditional gas stations will gradually disappear, and a fundamental shift in the car market is already underway, regardless of what government policies will bring.
He stated, “I think the reality of buying a combustion-powered vehicle, in light of the policy that’s coming, is sort of like building a horse barn in 1910,” and added, “Like, imagine buying a Chevy Suburban in 2030. Like, what are you going to do with that, right? In 10 years? Yeah, like gas stations will be slowly disappearing. It’s just weird.”
Scaringe also mentioned that a vehicle is typically a person’s second-largest asset, so buying a gasoline- or diesel-powered one “absolutely has no future in our society,” referring to the continuing expansion of the nation’s EV charging infrastructure.
Owners of the Rivian R1S SUV and R1T pickup will get access to Tesla’s Supercharger network of over 12,000 stalls in North America, potentially making it easier than ever to top-up the batteries on long journeys.
Biden’s Team Dismisses GM’s Claim of Sky-High Costs from New Emission Standards
General Motors (GM) warned the Biden administration that the planned changes to vehicle emissions rules could cost the auto industry hundreds of billions of dollars in penalties by 2031. However, the Biden administration has rejected this claim.
GM executive David Strickland met with White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) officials about the administration’s vehicle fuel economy proposal. At the meeting, GM estimated that the auto industry as a whole could face $100 billion to $300 billion in total penalties from 2027 to 2031, depending on whether an Energy Department proposal to revise the petroleum-equivalent fuel economy rating for electric vehicles (EVs) is enacted.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which oversees Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations, said GM’s estimate is pure speculation and inaccurate.
A Biden administration official said under one scenario the auto industry could face about $3 billion in fuel economy penalties in 2032 and in another it might face essentially no penalties.
A group representing major automakers including the Detroit Three wants EPA to significantly soften its requirements, calling it “neither reasonable nor achievable.”
PHIL ROBERTS / ELECTRIC FUTURE
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