Tesla will make electric cars in China; Factory gets green light

Tesla has been exploring various locations for a future factory, but it appears to have settled on China for the latest facility. Elon Musk and co have signed a deal with the authorities involving the the brand new factory, that will be built in Shanghai.

This is a premiere locally, because foreign car makers don’t get such permissions usually. However, in recent years the Chinese government has been betting big on eco-friendly technologies and electric cars, as well as self driving tech. Things are also known for moving faster in China, especially the building of famous enterprises. A Tesla factory means that the company will have a footing in Asia, plus expand in the region.

From what I’ve heard the import tax still won’t be cut, so their cars will be taxed extra locally, compared to the Chinese cars. The factory mean that production costs may be cut for Teslas sold in China. Elon Musk and co have been pursuing a deal with Chinese authorities for a while now, as the presence of the company grew in this country. Tesla sold $1 billion worth of cars in China last year and it accepted a big investment from Tencent Holdings, a tech giant from the nation.

Up untill now Teslas sold for about 50% more in price in China than USA, because of the import duties. Setting up shop in the Shanghai free trade area will reduce both labor and transportation costs. Musk expects the prices to be cut by a third.

via Fortune

Daimler Gives Up Fuel Cell Car Development

Daimler is stepping away from the hydrogen fuel cell car segment. They claim they’ve stopped development of such vehicles, instead accelerating the battery electric cars by 3 years.

fuel-cell-daimler

If you want extra reasons, it appears that declining battery costs made fuell cell vehicles uncompetitive in the long run. Daimler wasn’t all alone in this, since a 2013 agreement put together Ford, Daimler and Renault-Nissan, working on fuel cell tech together. Such cells rely on liquid hydrogen fuel, offering longer range than electric cars.

However, electric car ranges have increased a lot, so that problem is irrelevant. Liquid hydrogen is prety hard to produce, requiring a lot of energy and there’s also the production and distribution hassles. Toyota has been making some progress in this area, but even their respected Mirai fuel cell cars have only sold 2840 units. Can we call this trend dead already?

via Fortune

Nikola Motors gets orders worth over $2.3 billion for its electric truck

Aside from Tesla, there’s also a company with a name inspired by the same inventor, called Nikola Motors, that got an impressive number of preorders for its trucks. Unlike Tesla, they specialize in making big electric trucks and even though the company is in its infancy, preorders are booming.

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Behind the designs sits former Chief Designer over at Isuzu’s commercial truck division, Steve Jennes, so the pedigree is good. Jennes is Chief Designer at Nikola Motors and envisioned the Nikola One truck, pictured below. There are already 2.3 billion dollars in early preorders raked up, for one of the most advanced trucks on the market.

The truck comes with a 320 kw battery pack and it offers up to 1200 miles on a full charge, using a special methane range extender. Nikola One is a 6X6 unit with zero idle, 3700 FT LBS torque, 2000 horsepower and 1 million miles fuel free potential. Regenerative braking is here, plus the ability to charge via turbines while driving. Over 7000 models have been reserved.

Don’t be surprised if Tesla buys this firm, unless it’s a cover operation of heirs.

via thinkerspost.com

Fresh problems for LeEco and Faraday Future, as Nevada official claims financer is “broke”

Last we heard LeEco’s financial problems were about to end on account of a sort of bailout, but things are about to get tricky again. We’ve recently heard that Faraday Future wasn’t able to pay its Nevada factory work on time and now a Nevada official is saying that billionaire Jia Yueting is broke.

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Jia is the force behind LeEco, a billionaire and tech mogul, who also invests in Faraday Future and Coolpad or example. Nevada State Treasurer Dan Schwarz is the official who made the claim about Jia being broke, speaking with China Daily and other publications. Meanwhile, the Faraday Future factory construction stopped last week and sources say that the payment hasn’t been received for the work yet.

Sources close to Faraday Future are claiming that Jia does have money, but he’s not investing as much as he should in the company. In the meantime the billionaire reacted and claims that the Nevada Treasurer accusations are unfounded and “inconsistent with the facts”. Nevada actually offered a $335 million tax break to the Chinese-backed car company, so it’s normal that they’d worry about the progress.

I have a feeling that this will play out before the year ends, but I smell a bubble ready to burst here and take down LeEco and Faraday Future with it.

via jalopnik

New Nissan Leaf coming soon; Details Here!

Nissan Leaf, one of the best selling electric cars on the market is going to get a successor soon, that jas just been partially detailed by the VP of product planning with Nissan North America, Michael Bunce. The new LEAF gets a brand new design and upgraded battery packs.

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Rumor has it that the car should be ready in time for a CES 2017 showcasing, where Renault and Nissan CEO, Carlos Ghosn will actually have a keynote. Some say it may even come sooner, but there are no more big car shows this year. The new car batteries are in production already at the Nissan Sunderland plant, so the car is coming for sure.

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Its delay is said to have something to do with the redesign and tweaks made in order to squeeze more range from the batteries. Aerodynamic modifications and a flat underbody for example are included, or maybe different wheels. Those familiar with the project say that the new LEAF will offer a range of around 160 miles. Nissan is also preparing an e-NV200 electric van, that will apparently use the same battery packs as the LEAF.

By the way the car shown in the renders here is just a concept of the 2017 Nissan LEAF. They were leaked courtesy of pushevs.com

via cleantechnica

Baidu and BMW end partnership focused on self driving cars

Baidu and BMW seemed like a match made in heaven, when the two worked on self driving cars together. Now it seems things went wrong and the “Chinese Google” has split with the beamer maker. The joint research project has come to a halt and the Chinese are now searching for a new partner.

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The partnership dates from a year ago and Baidu already completed tests of its self driving tech on BMW 3 Series models. The reason for the split is a dispute over the way the project would proceed. BMW China CEO, Olaf Kastner claims that the pace of development and the ideas are different for the two parties. The two did manage to achieve something through the cooperation, having developed automatic overtaking technology, letting autonomous cars pass other vehicles on the road with ease.

The split of the firms isn’t final, as BMW and Baidu are going to continue working together on high def maps, which are also important to self driving rides. Baidy is now using Ford’s Lincoln as test unit for the US base of operation, so the partner could come from there. Baidu set a goal last year, involving self driving buses on Chinese roads by 2018.

They also confirmed the goal of mass producing self driving cars by 2021. China wants almost every car to have a modicum of self driving by 2030.

via pocket lint

Maserati confirms electric Alfieri model

As electric cars become more and more mainstream, supercars also make the transition and we see even the big names adopting batteries. The latest is Maserati, who confirmed it’s making the Alfier electric come 2020.

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This EV will rival the likes of Porsche 911 and Jaguar F-Type, in their respective eco friendlier versions. The versions with combustion engines would arrive first for the Alfieri, followed by a full electric model in 2020. A plugin hybrid is not in the cards, as such vehicles are expected to have their taxation advantages removed over the next decade.

Peter Denton, Region Manager for North Europe with Maserati claims that the electric Allfieri will compete with the successors to the Porsche 718 Cayman and 718 Boxter. It’ll be bigger than both and it’ll be the size of a Jaguar F-Type, it seems. Expect this vehicle to come in hatchback and convertible versions. Since Maserati just got into SUVs with Levante, maybe someday we’ll see it becoming electric as well.

via just auto

Vespa debuts its first electric scooter: Vespa Elettrica

It appears that not only cars are going electric these days, but also motorcycles and their smaller cousins, the scooters. And who else to innovate in this area if not Vespa? They’ve just debuted an all electric scooter, that will be sold in the latter half of 2017.

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The news came from Vespa’s parent company, Piaggio, just in time for the Esposizione Internazionale Ciclo e Motociclo, aka the Milan Motorcycle Show. The image shown above is basically a concept version of the electrified two wheeler. The name of the ride is Vespa Elettrica and it comes with a metal body, possibly steel.

Speculations say that this could be a higher end and higher price vehicle, available for an amount of several thousands of dollars even. The trend is already spreading out there, as Mahindra showcased a connected electric scooter at this year’s CES. It’s not JUST a vehicle, but it’ll also be connected and high specced, maybe with some AirPlay support, some kickass speakers and with a bit of a small dashboard going on?

Of course all of these are just speculation material and what really interests me is the type of battery available here.

via The Verge

Car makers ask Trump not to force them to make electric cars… What!?

In what seems to be the biggest WTF of the week (other than the Trump election), it now appears that car makers are asking Trump to not make them manufacture electric cars. Lobbying efforts have started and big companies want to weaken the requirements for fuel consumption reduction.

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Right now the goal is a fleet average of 50 mpg by 2025, which can only be achieved by car makers compensating their gas machines with electric models. The companies got into a lobbying group and started detailing their complaints to president elect Trump. They claim they can’t make zero emission cars at competitive prices and also ask that the requirements are lower, so they can comply more easily.

The group is called Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and they represent almost all big car makers in USA, minus Tesla. The letter also mentions that the demand is not strong enough for automakers to achieve the requirements. Meanwhile there’s an MIT study showing that electric cars provide enough range for 87% of the drivers on America’s roads.

So, in a nutshell, while the big firms are ready to invest in electric cars, they want to do so at their own pace and preferences. Trump already said during his campaign that he was about to review all fuel consumption regulations.

via electrek.co

image source: Chicago Tribune

LeEco CEO apologizes to employees, as company risks running out of money

LeEco CEO, Jia Yueting disappointed us a bit today, when we learned that LeEco is not doing fine at all. He wrote a letter to employees and shareholders admitting that the company has some financial problems. The CEO claims that the company has expanded too much, too fast, for its resources and capital.

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He mentions things like “globalization has gone too far” and there was “lack of momentum” in some segments where LeEco was operating. It’s strange to hear such things, particularly now, just two or three weeks away from LeEco’s highly publicized debut in USA, via a flamboyant event. Jia is going to take a salary of just 15 cents per year, trying to help the company recover.

This puts the LeEco LeSee electric car prototype in some serious standby, which many experts and analysts predicted. Xiaomi’s CEO for example has been asking to see LeEco’s real funds and debts and wanted the company to give up its shroud of secrecy. Founded in 2004, as LeTV, this outfit quickly became the “Chinese Netflix”.

Then in 2010 it was listed on the Shenzhen stock Exchange and theoretically rebranded to LeEco just months ago, although the LeEco ventures are separate from the listed company. LeEco also funds the Faraday Future electric car project and spent $2 billion on TV maker Vizio. A $3 billion car factory in China was also in the works, but the Government wasn’t informed about it and didn’t agree.

The future of the company seems uncertain, although the LeSee car sounded excellent. Hopefully restructuring will help with its progress…

via Forbes