Electric Vehicles

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Didi Chuxing and oil giant BP team up to build electric vehicle charging infrastructure in China

Ride-sharing and transportation platform Didi Chuxing announced today that it has formed a joint venture with BP, the British gas, oil and energy supermajor. to build electric vehicle charging infrastructure in China. The charging stations will be available to Didi and non-Didi drivers.

The news of Didi and BP’s joint venture comes one week after Didi announced that it had received funding totaling $600 million from Toyota Motor Corporation. As part of that deal, Didi and Toyota Motor set up a joint venture with GAC Toyota Motor to provide vehicle-related services to Didi drivers.

BP’s first charging site in Guangzhou has already been connected to XAS (Xiaoju Automobile Solutions), which Didi spun out in April 2018 to put all its vehicle-related services into one platform.

XAS is part of Didi Chuxing’s evolution from a ride-sharing company to a mobility services platform, with its services available to other car, transportation and logistics companies. In June, Didi also opened its ride-sharing platform to other companies, enabling its users to request rides from third-party providers in a bid to better compete with apps like Meituan Dianping and AutoNavi, which aggregate several ride-hailing services on their platforms.

Didi says it now offers ride-sharing, vehicle rental and delivery services to 550 million users and covers 1,000 cities through partnerships with Grab, Lyft, Ola, 99 and Bolt (Taxify). The company also claims to be the world’s largest electric vehicle operator with more than 600,000 EVs on its platform.

It also has partnerships with automakers and other car-related companies like Toyota, FAW, Dongfeng, GAC, Volkswagen and Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi to collaborate on a platform that uses new energy, AI-based and mobility technologies.

In a press statement, Tufan Erginbilgic, the CEO of BP’s Downstream business, said “As the world’s largest EV market, China offers extraordinary opportunities to develop innovative new businesses at scale and we see this as the perfect partnership for such a fast-evolving environment. The lessons we learn here will help us further expand BP’s advanced mobility business worldwide, helping drive the energy transition and develop solutions for a low carbon world.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger pushes gas guzzlers as undercover car salesperson

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Do it now

That’s sleazy used car salesman Howard Kleiner back in action, this time trying to get would-be electric car buyers hyped about gas-guzzling, fossil fuel-burning cars. 

Except it’s — surprise! — former California governor, body builder, and movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger with a fake mustache and wig. He’s just pretending to be a salesman obsessed with muscle cars that burn tons of gas as part of a campaign to get more people informed about electric vehicles. 

“We need to get off fossil fuels as quickly as we can,” the governator said in a phone call this week.

The tongue-in-cheek video is part of EV coalition Veloz’s “Kicking Gas” and Electric For All campaign to bring more electric cars to California and beyond. The organization works with automakers, utilities, government agencies, charging networks, and other transportation groups to raise awareness about electric vehicles. Read more…

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Elon Musk banks on his self-driving taxi service as Tesla burns through cash

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Tesla’s robo-taxis are needed more than ever.

The company lost $702 million in the first three months of the year and the EV maker doesn’t expect to be profitable again until the second half of the year, according to first quarter earnings results reported Wednesday. Revenue was lower than expected at $4.5 billion.

CEO Elon Musk had braced for a losing quarter back in February when he announced the $35,000 base price for the Model 3, but he still sounded disappointed on Wednesday’s investor call to discuss the sluggish numbers. 

“The brand is losing steam,” Jessica Caldwell, executive director of industry analysis at Edmunds, said in an email. Read more…

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Tesla shares fall 7.6% following price cuts in China and Elon Musk’s promise to reimburse missed tax credits

Monday was a tough day for the U.S. stock market, but Tesla shares were hit especially hard. The stock fell by 7.6 percent after Tesla cut the Model 3’s price in China and CEO Elon Musk promised to reimburse U.S. customers if they miss a tax credit deadline due to Model 3 shipment delays.

Reuters reported this weekend that the Model 3’s prices on Tesla’s China website had been reduced by up to 7.6 percent, with the starting price now at 499,000 RMB (about $72,000). This is the third time since November that Tesla has lowered the price of its vehicles in China.

The first was in November, when it slashed the price of Model X and Model S vehicles by 12 to 26 percent, stating that it was “absorbing a significant part of the tariff to help make cars more affordable for customers in China.” Then this month, Tesla cut Model X and Model S prices again, citing China’s decision to temporarily suspend a new 25 percent tariff on American-produced vehicles and auto parts as the two countries reached a ceasefire in the trade war.

In October, Tesla announced on its site that if U.S. customers needed to order a Model S, Model X, or Model 3 before October 15 if they wanted the full $7,500 federal tax credit, which begins to phase out once a manufacturer sells 200,000 qualifying vehicles in the U.S. (Tesla hit that milestone earlier this year). As a result, the federal tax vehicle will be cut 50 percent to $3,750 for vehicles delivered January 1 to June 30, 2019, before behing halved again on July 1.

On Sunday, Musk tweeted in response to a question that if a customer’s pre-December order isn’t delivered before the end of the year, Tesla will reimburse the tax credits they missed out on.

If Tesla committed delivery & customer made good faith efforts to receive before year end, Tesla will cover the tax credit difference

Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 22, 2018

After months of production and delivery delays, Tesla ramped up fulfillment of Model 3 orders in the third quarter of this year, when it delivered a total of 83,500 vehicles, including 55,840 Model 3 units.

Mercedes-Maybach concept car is electric, ultra-luxurious, and ready for tea time

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A concept car from Mercedes is revving up car enthusiasts ahead of this year’s Beijing Auto Show.

The Vision Mercedes-Maybach Ultimate Luxury is an electric idea with an interior to match its “ultimate luxury” name.

The high-end sedan and SUV crossover is imagined as a four-motor all-wheel drive vehicle with a 200-mile range battery with fast charging capabilities. The inside of the car is as important as its specs as Mercedes describes the vehicle as “intended primarily for chauffeur-driven use.” 

Its interior features “Magic Wood” ebony to appeal to the Chinese market and is smooth and curvy with few sharp edges. The color palette includes rose gold, crystal white, and pearl gray. The seats are white leather and very adjustable. The reclining seats also feature calf support. Read more…

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Ola will add 10,000 electric rickshaws to its India fleet over the next year

Ola announced today that it will add 10,000 electric auto-rickshaws to its fleet in India over the next 12 months. The program, called “Mission: Electric,” is part of its ambitious plan to put one million electric vehicles on the road by 2021. The company launched a trial EV program last year in the city of Nagpur, but has reportedly run into some recent road bumps.

Three-wheel rickshaws are a popular way of making quick trips in many cities and can be hailed through Ola’s app; the company’s electric vehicle trial program in Nagpur, which started in May 2017, already includes rickshaws. As part of “Mission: Electric,” Ola said it will add 10,000 new electric rickshaws across three additional cities this year.

To enable drivers to switch to EVs, Ola’s program also includes infrastructure like rooftop solar panels and charging stations. Last month, however, Factor Daily reported that Ola is scaling back its electric vehicle plans after India’s government appeared to become less enthusiastic about creating an explicit EV policy, despite its previously stated goal of making all new vehicles electric by 2030.

Around the same time, Reuters reported that many Ola drivers participating in its Nagpur trial wanted to switch back to fuel-powered cars because of long waiting times at charging stations and higher operating costs.

An Ola representative told TechCrunch that the company has installed charging dockets at the homes of some drivers so they can save time by swapping out batteries, stating that “with new technologies like battery swapping, the charging experience has been significantly improved.” Ola is currently in discussions with several state and municipal governments about where to launch its electric rickshaw program and is “willing to work with any city committed to sustainable mobility solutions.”

“We have clocked more than four million [electric] kilometers and have learned the ins and outs of vehicles, capabilities and applications. We have learned real-world operating challenges and cost implications of chargers, batteries and solars,” she added. “Deployment of electric vehicles would require support of like-minded partners.”

The beloved VW Beetle is about to go electric

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The timeless VW Beetle is about to step into the future.

Volkswagen is considering plans for an electric Beetle, according to VW’s chairman Herbert Diess.

Speaking to Autocar, Diess said that the company was “actively considering” plans for an electric Beetle as part of a range of zero-emissions cars.

He also added that if an electric successor would be made, it would actually be a throwback to the original rear-wheel drive Beetle.

“If we wanted to do a Beetle, electrically it would be much better than today’s model, much closer to history, because it could be rear-wheel drive,” said Diess. Read more…

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