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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Tesla Tops 200,000 US Sales; Set to Lose Fed Tax Credits

Being 1st could put EV maker at a disadvantage going forward.

by on Jul.13, 2018

Even when it wins, it loses. Tesla just passed the 200,000 vehicle mark, the most ever by an EV maker, but that brings to an end the tax credit.

Tesla is not just the country’s best-selling EV maker, but the first to sell more than 200,000 electric vehicles in the U.S. market. But that might not necessarily give the carmaker reason to celebrate.

Under guidelines set up by the Obama Administration and retained by Congress as part of last year’s tax overhaul, federal tax credits of up to $7,500 per vehicle apply only on the first 200,000 battery vehicles sold by an individual manufacturer. After that they begin to phase out, meaning that Tesla could be at a financial disadvantage once the company loses the incentives entirely by the end of next year.

The Last Word!

Other companies, including General Motors, Nissan and Ford, are approaching the threshold but their buyers will likely continue to receive some incentives well into 2020, barring any move by Congress – something considered unlikely – to extend the tax credits. (more…)

Electra Meccanica Charging Ahead with New 3-Wheel EV

Canadian company produces single-passenger battery-electric.

by on Jul.12, 2018

Electra Meccanica is producing its one-passenger electric vehicle called the Solo.

Electra Meccanica Vehicles Corp., one of the emerging companies building electric vehicles, has launched production of its new three-wheeled EV.

The first single-passenger, all-electric Solo rolled off the assembly line in Canada and arrived in Vancouver, British Columbia. The new vehicle will now undergo consumer testing and verification in anticipation of commencing commercial manufacturing in September 2018 with the goal of delivering 5,000 Solos to customers by September 2019.

Insight!

“This is a hugely significant day for Electra Meccanica and our talented design, engineer and production teams,” said Jerry Kroll, the company’s chief executive officer. (more…)

FBI Arrests Apple Secrets Thief While Leaving for China

Former employee had been hired by XMotors.

by on Jul.11, 2018

CEO Tim Cook has been coy about Apple's self-driving car program, but it was the victim of proprietary information theft.

In what looked like something out of a James Patterson novel, FBI agents swooped in and arrested a former Apple employee who was boarding a plane for China after earlier swiping a passel of corporate secrets about Apple’s autonomous vehicle technology.

Xiaolang Zhang was a person of interest in an investigation about the theft of information from Apple by the FBI. He had already interviewed several times by Apple.

News You Can Trust!

He booked a last-minute flight to China on July 7, and then was arrested at the San Jose International Airport by FBI agents. Zhang has been charged with theft of trade secrets, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday in federal court in San Jose. (more…)

Mercedes, Bosch Team to Launch Self-Driving Car Service

Set to debut in late 2019 in Silicon Valley.

by on Jul.11, 2018

Initially, Daimler will use the Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan for the pilot ride-sharing project.

Mercedes-Benz is teaming up with German mega-supplier Bosch to launch a new ride-sharing service in Silicon Valley next year that will rely on self-driving vehicles.

The project marks the latest entry into the fast-expanding field that, by some estimates, could eventually account for as much as a quarter or more of the miles Americans travel by automobile. Other planning to launch ride-sharing services using self-driving vehicles include General Motors, Google spin-off Waymo and Uber, the country’s largest ride-sharing service.

Making Sense of the Brave New World!

While Mercedes’ parent Daimler AG is referring to the vehicles it will use as “automated shuttle(s),” customers will be able to ride in style. When the project initially gets underway during the second half of 2019, it will rely on modified versions of the luxurious S-Class Sedan. Eventually, the goal is to switch to a production version of the edgy Mercedes concept vehicle, the F 015.

(more…)

Chevy Express Getting New Safety Tech for 2019

Upgrades come as City Express model phased out.

by on Jul.10, 2018

GM's Wentzville, Missouri plant will continue building the Chevy Express full-size van.

Even as it prepares to halt sales of one Chevrolet van by the end of the year, General Motors plans to upgrade 2019 Chevy Express models, including the Cargo, Cutaway and Passenger version, with new safety features, including lane departure warning, forward collision alert system and a theft deterrent system to prevent unauthorized entry.

The Chevrolet Express is a full-size van, compared to the Chevrolet City Express compact van, which GM currently sources from Nissan and is now scheduled to be discontinued after the 2018 model year.

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The first-generation Express ran from the 1996–2002 model years and was based on the GMT 600 platform. In 2003, a facelifted model was launched on what is known as the GMT 610 platform. This updated model remains on sale, albeit the range has undergone a few updates to powertrain and minor styling changes.  (more…)

Tesla Set to Move on New Plant in Shanghai, Announcing Deal Even as it Raises Chinese Prices

Battery-carmaker is 1st from U.S. to raise prices as trade war escalates.

by on Jul.10, 2018

Tesla's new Shanghai plant is expected to be at least as large as its factory in Fremont, California - and include battery production, as well.

(This story has been updated with new information.)

Pres. Donald Trump’s trade war has claimed its first automotive victim, Tesla announcing it will raise prices on some models on sale in China by $20,000 or more to reflect the impact of new tariffs on American-made vehicles.

At the same time, CEO Elon Musk is on his way to China, numerous reports indicating Tesla is set to lock down a deal with authorities in Shanghai to set up the company’s first foreign assembly plant. Musk confirmed construction will begin in about three months and the facility will produce 500,000 vehicles annually once it is ramped up to full production.

Breaking News!

Despite the news about tariffs – which could depress sales in the world’s largest battery-car market in the near-term – investors appear to be buoyed by reports that Tesla will move forward on a Chinese assembly plant. Musk has also indicated that the automaker is working on plans to set up a second foreign plant somewhere in Europe.

(more…)

Bill Allowing National Testing for Autonomous Vehicle Testing Remains Stalled

Foreign competitors are gaining on U.S. in the arena.

by on Jul.09, 2018

Nissan is conducting on-road autonomous vehicle testing in Europe, including London, shown here.

As automakers scramble to find what U.S. states are best for testing autonomous vehicles, Congressional efforts to communize rules for all 50 states, once on the fast track, appears to have stalled and there is no timetable for a restart.

In today’s political climate, it would be easy to assume that partisanship is the reason the efforts have ground to a halt in the U.S. Senate, but the bill had strong bipartisan support coming out of committee.

News Now!

However, the Senate is tied up with other responsibilities, such as the looming Supreme Court justice approval process and other legislative agenda items, according to the Automotive News. (more…)

Nikola Partnering With Bosch on New Semi-Truck

Companies working to enhance fuel cell technology.

by on Jul.09, 2018

While the emphasis is on battery power, Utah start-up Nikola is focused on hydrogen.

The promise of fuel cells has intrigued carmakers for years because they promise to liberate the automotive business from the petroleum industry but expensive batteries needing rare minerals and complicated manufacturing processes.

But as the well-worn joke about fuel cells goes the breakthrough in fuel-cell technology always seems to be about 10 years in the future despite the best efforts by companies such Toyota, Honda, General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Daimler AG among others.

Stay in the Loop!

However, the Bosch Group thinks that commercial vehicles, particularly heavy trucks that run long distances over fixed routes, could be ideal candidates. Not only can fuel cells easily fit into large Class 8 trucks in many cases, the users of big trucks can supply the hydrogen required to run the electricity generating fuel cells, according to Jason Roycht, vice president, North America Regional Business Leader. (more…)

Under Pressure Over Scandals, EPA Chief Pruitt Resigns

Move raises questions about Trump Administration plans to roll back mileage regs.

by on Jul.05, 2018

EPA Chief Scott Pruitt has long been a controversial figure within the environmental community.

Facing an escalating series of scandals, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has become the latest member of the Trump Administration to resign, the president announced on Thursday afternoon.

The 50-year-old Cabinet member has been a controversial figure since he was nominated as head of the nation’s top environmental protection office. As Oklahoma Attorney-General, Pruitt had repeatedly sued the EPA and had called for its elimination. Once in office, he began rolling back a series of measures enacted not only by the Obama Administration but previous Republican presidents. Among other things, the EPA has begun moving forward with plans that were expected to roll back the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards.

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Beyond the Headlines!

“Within the Agency Scott has done an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him for this,” President Trump said in a Thursday afternoon tweet announcing Pruitt’s departure. It did not, however, mention the reasons why the controversial head of the Environmental Protection Agency resigned.

(more…)

EV Sales on the Rise in First Half of 2018 in the US

Bolt sales are up in first half, production to increase.

by on Jul.05, 2018

Sales of the Chevy Bolt rose 3.5% in the first half of 2018.

Rising gas prices and improved range appear to be creating an appealing environment for plug-in electric vehicle sales with no company reaping better results than General Motors in the first half of the year.

The company’s Chevy Bolt EV saw sales rise during the second quarter of the year.

Plug In!

U.S. and global demand for the Chevrolet Bolt EV has been very strong in 2018, with global sales estimated to be up more than 35% year over year in the second quarter and up more than 40% in the first half. (more…)