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Major Automakers Team Up on Ultra-Fast EV Charging Project

System could deliver 300+ miles range in 10 minutes.

by on Dec.01, 2016

A Level 4 charger could give a long-range vehicle a "fill-up" in 10 minutes or less.

Another barrier to electrification is about to fall, thanks to a new coalition pairing BMW, Daimler, Ford and the various Volkswagen AG brands.

The automakers have signed a preliminary agreement that would begin rolling out a network of ultra-fast electric vehicle charging stations across Europe – setting the stage for the adoption of similar Level 4 technology in the U.S., as well. The chargers will deliver 350 kilowatts of direct current, or roughly 2.5 times the jolt of the Superchargers Tesla is deploying across much of North America.

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The new system would leapfrog other Level 3 chargers just beginning to come online in many parts of the world. More importantly, they would allow a vehicle like the new, 200-mile Chevrolet Bolt (or the European version sold through Opel) to get a full charge in 10 minutes or less.

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Porsche Aiming to Sell 20,000 Mission E Battery Sports Cars

Volkswagen AG brands battle it out for control of company’s EV efforts.

by on Nov.29, 2016

Workers at Porsche's Zuffhausen plant in Germany agreed to wage cuts in order to get the job of building the new Mission E.

Porsche is aiming for annual sales of about 20,000 Mission E battery-electric vehicles, according to the sports car brand’s chief executive officer.

That would make it one of the more important products in the company’s line-up and more than double the numbers needed to turn a profit, according to another company official.

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The launch of the Mission E in 2019 is part of an aggressive transformation planned by the Volkswagen Group, currently the world’s largest automaker by sales volume. But news reports from Germany suggest that there is an internal battle brewing between various VWAG brands as they position themselves to take the lead in battery-electric vehicle development.

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Chevrolet Bolt Lauded as Green Car of the Year

Battery car claims another endorsement.

by on Nov.17, 2016

Chevrolet Bolt marketing manager Steve Majeros and Green Car Publisher Ron Cogan show off the battery-car's latest award.

The Chevrolt Bolt, the world’s first long-range, mainstream-priced battery-electric vehicle, was given another in a growing list of endorsements, being named Green Car of the Year during a ceremony at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Organizers of the award called the Bolt a “game-changer,” suggesting that its launch will transform the public’s perception of green powertrain technology from a quirky niche to something that can appeal to everyday drivers.

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“This takes battery power into the mainstream,” said Ron Cogan, publisher of Green Car Journal and the organizer of the annual Green Car of the Year award. “This is the transition year. Green technology is no longer for early adopters.”

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Tesla Will Now Charge to Supercharge

Maker also announced purchase of German engineering firm to help boost production capacity.

by on Nov.08, 2016

A Tesla Supercharger station in Hawthorn, CA.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch – or free energy, it seems. Tesla Motors plans to stop offering unlimited use of its cross-continent network of high-speed Superchargers to anyone who buys one of its vehicles after January 1, 2017.

The system, which currently includes 734 chargers worldwide, most in the U.S. and Canada, allows motorists to travel long distances without range anxiety. Until now, they have been open to any Tesla owner at no charge. The battery-carmaker hasn’t said what it will now charge new buyers but claims it will “cost less than the price of filling up a comparable gas car.”

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Tesla had already signaled it would not include free charging for buyers of the Model 3, which is expected to go into production during the second half of 2017. The company says it now has more than 300,000 advance registrations on the books. And to help ensure it meets the aggressive production ramp-up outlined by CEO Elon Musk last March, Tesla is now buying Grohmann Engineering, a German firm that develops automated manufacturing systems for batteries.

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Chevrolet Gets a Jump as Bolt Production Begins

Sales set to begin before year-end.

by on Nov.07, 2016

A prototype Chevrolet Bolt rolls down the line at the GM plant in Orion Township, Michigan.

The line is moving at a snail’s pace, but production of the Chevrolet Bolt is finally ramping up at the General Motors assembly plant in the Detroit suburb of Orion Township, with the first of the new, long-range battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, set to go on sale before the end of the year.

Parent General Motors is hoping that it can steal a march on a variety of competitors, notably Tesla Motors, who hope to get their own long-range electric vehicles into showrooms over the next several years. With regulators in the U.S., Europe, Japan and China pushing the industry to expand sales of zero-emissions vehicles, the Bolt could provide the first real test of a vehicle designed to overcome so-called range anxiety.

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But whether motorists will take to the $37,495 Chevy Bolt – or any of the other, more mainstream BEVs to follow is far from certain. Fully electric models have accounted for just 0.4% of the U.S. market so far this year. Adding in plug-ins and conventional hybrids, battery-based vehicles still only make up a miniscule 2.5%.

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Long-Skeptical Toyota Reversing Course on EVs

Pressure from China and the U.S.; hydrogen infrastructure “isn’t there.”

by on Nov.07, 2016

Toyota worked with Tesla to develop the RAV4 EV it sold from 2012 to 2014.

Long focused on hydrogen fuel-cell technology, Toyota Motor Co. is reversing course and will now make a push into long-range battery-electric vehicles, according to several sources.

The move would add the Japanese giant to the list of manufacturers looking to market vehicles that get more than 200 miles per charge. A senior source within the company told TheDetroitBureau.com that Toyota will continue to work on hydrogen power, but he acknowledged the necessary “infrastructure isn’t there,” leaving the company no alternative if it hoped to meet stringent new emissions and mileage regulations.

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“China has been pressure Toyota,” the source said, noting that the Asian nation has been aggressively promoting electrification as a way to address its endemic smog problems. U.S. regulators and clean advocates are also calling on Toyota to deliver battery cars, he said, adding, “That’s the big change for us.”

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Faraday Future Set to Reveal First Car at CES

LeEco’s autonomous debut short-circuited when its car wouldn’t run.

by on Oct.20, 2016

The LeEco LeSee concept.

Tesla Motors isn’t the only automotive upstart attempting to make news about electric and autonomous vehicles. Several potential competitors have their own, futuristic models to reveal – though, as Chinese-owned LeEco demonstrated Wednesday, there are plenty of pitfalls along the path.

With billionaire investor Jia Yueting on hand for a public unveiling in San Francisco, LeEco’s event went off the rails when the LeSee, its prototype autonomous electric vehicle, couldn’t drive down the runway, forcing Jia to run down the ramp on his own.

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Jia, who made a fortune in the Chinese electronics industry, is clearly hoping to do better with a second automotive start-up he is funding, California-based Faraday Future. That company made its debut last January at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and will be back at the 2017 CES in less than three months to unveil its first production model.

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Fisker Launching All-New Battery-Car Company

Breakthrough battery promised; range could top 400 miles.

by on Oct.04, 2016

Henrik Fisker shown in Geneva before his earlier company, Fisker Automotive, collapsed.

If at first you don’t succeed…

If you’re Henrik Fisker, it seems, the next step is to start yet another car company. Three years after the collapse and bankruptcy of his original effort, Fisker Automotive, the Danish designer is back in business. The new Fisker, Inc. plans to launch a new line of long-range electric vehicles that will rival the likes of upstart Tesla Motors, as well as the more mainstream manufacturers now pushing into the battery-car business.

While specific details are limited, Fisker said the company is targeting a minimum range of 400 miles per charges, something that would allow a driver to go even further without interruption than with all but a handful of gasoline or diesel-powered vehicles.

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“This is really the revival of the original Fisker, though it will be a completely new company,” the 53-year-old automotive veteran told TheDetroitBureau.com in an exclusive interview.

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Nissan Looking to Sell Battery Manufacturing Operations

Panasonic reportedly one possible buyer.

by on Aug.08, 2016

The Nissan Leaf has been the world's best-selling battery car since its late 2009 launch.

Nissan Motor Co. is reportedly looking to sell its battery manufacturing operations, with Panasonic Corp. considered the most likely buyer.

Japan’s second-largest automaker has made a major bet on electric vehicles, but, with the market for battery cars running slower than expected, it is seeking to unload its 51% stake in the Automotive Energy Supply Corporation, or AESC, joint venture. The likely buyer, according to a report by the Reuter’s news service is Panasonic, which is the partner in Tesla’s Gigafactory battery plant in Reno, Nevada.

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“The report on Nissan and its battery business is speculation and is not based on any announcement by us,” David Reuter, a senior company spokesman, told TheDetroitBureau.com. But he also noted that the maker will “continuously evaluate our business strategy in pursuit of optimal products and business structure.”

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Toyota Delays Launch of Plug-in Prius Prime

U.S. sales not planned to start until winter.

by on Aug.03, 2016

The plug-in Toyota Prius Prime made its global debut at the NY Auto Show last March.

(Ed. Note: Toyota has now clarified details of the U.S. launch. See details, below.)

Toyota Motor Co. is delaying the start of production for its new plug-in model, the Prius Prime.

The move is expected to push back the availability of the new model in the Japanese market. The U.S. launch, TheDetroitBureau.com has been advised, will begin in November, but will be slower than originally planned.

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The exact reason for the delay hasn’t been stated, though spokesperson Kayo Doi was quoted telling reporters in Japan that, “We decided we want to take our time and more care before starting mass manufacturing.” The launch of production will be slower than original planned, a U.S. official added.

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