Tag Archive | "electric vehicles"

GM Expects to Fall Short of 2017 Electric Vehicles Target

General Motors Co said it will fall short of its goal of having 500,000 GM vehicles on U.S. roads by 2017 that are powered by some form of electricity, reported Reuters.

The No. 1 U.S. automaker said in its annual sustainability report that lower gasoline prices and a “surge” in model offerings from all automakers contributed to the lower-than-expected sales for electrified products, including plug-in hybrids, pure electric vehicles and vehicles with the eAssist system that boosts fuel efficiency in gas-powered cars.

“For our commitment to electrification, our forecasted outlook currently projects us, along with the broader automotive industry, falling short of expectations for 2017,” GM said in the 2014 report released on Thursday.

“GM is committed to electrification … but consumer demand for these vehicles has not kept up with our initial projections,” it added.

The company said it counted 180,834 electrified GM vehicles on U.S. roads last year, up from 153,034 such vehicles in 2013.

GM Chief Executive Mary Barra outlined its 2017 target in November 2012 when she was the automaker’s global product chief. At the time, Barra said the company’s plans called for the eAssist system, which boost fuel efficiency as much as 25 percent in some gas-powered vehicles, to be on “hundreds of thousands” of vehicles annually by 2017.

GM, like other automakers, needs more fuel efficient cars as the industry pushes toward more stringent U.S. requirements that will be in place by 2025.

Electric vehicles have failed to catch on with consumers due to high prices, disappointment with electric driving range and an under-developed charging infrastructure. Low gas prices have fueled consumer demand for larger vehicles, including full-size pickup trucks and SUVs.

In 2013, The U.S. Department of Energy backed off President Barack Obama’s goal of putting 1 million electric cars on U.S. roads by 2015.

GM is developing an all-electric vehicle, the Chevrolet Bolt, with an electric driving range of 200 miles and production is expected to start in 2016. It will sell for about $30,000 after a federal tax rebate.

The automaker also this fall is introducing a redesigned version of its Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid that has an increased electric driving range of 50 miles and sells for almost $1,200 less than the current version of the car.

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Volkswagen’s Audi Aims to Launch Two Electric Vehicles by 2018: CEO

Volkswagen’s premium Audi division aims to bring two purely electric vehicles to market by 2018 as it tries to catch up with rivals such as Tesla Motors and BMW, reported Reuters.

Audi’s Chief Executive Rupert Stadler told German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) in an interview to be published on Saturday that the launch of an electric sports car and a sports activity vehicle (SAV) were under way.

An excerpt of the article was made available to Reuters on Friday.

The SAV would be a four-wheel drive with a range of more than 500 km (310 miles) per battery load, Stadler said.

He also told FAZ that Audi’s push to develop electronic drive and digital technologies would mean the division adding 2 billion euros ($2.4 billion) to its investments by 2019. Audi’s investment budget through 2018 amounts to 22 billion.

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Automaker Tesla’s Direct-To-Consumer Sales May Already Be Illegal in Michigan

LANSING, Mich. – Electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla, known for bypassing dealers and selling directly to consumers, is afraid an amendment to an unrelated bill would prevent the manufacturer from doing just that, reported Michigan Live.

But the bill’s supporters say current law already precludes that.

That’s the understanding of Terry Burns, executive vice president of Auto Dealers of Michigan, who said “there’s no regulatory change at all in the amendments.”

At issue is HB 5606, which principally addresses a separate issue surrounding the fees auto dealerships charge for preparing documents. However, a language in a substitute from the Senate floor is raising red flags for some.

A Tesla executive told the Wall Street Journal the legislation would prohibit direct-to-consumer sales, and Automotive News has termed it an “anti-Tesla” bill. Tesla’s business model of direct-to-consumer sales has run into problems in other states.

Language in HB 5606 states that a manufacturer may not “Sell any new motor vehicle directly to a retail customer other than through franchised dealers, unless the retail customer is a nonprofit organization or a federal, state, or local government or agency.”

But the Auto Dealers and the bill’s sponsor say that language isn’t new.

The Secretary of State draws that from current law. MCL 445.1574 states that a manufacturer cannot “Sell any new motor vehicle directly to a retail customer other than through its franchised dealers, unless the retail customer is a nonprofit organization or a federal, state, or local government or agency.”

That’s a one-word difference from what’s in HB 5606.

HB 5606, which passed both chambers nearly unanimously, doesn’t have anything to do with Tesla, according to sponsor Rep. Aric Nesbitt, R-Lawton. It’s been amended, but “It still doesn’t have anything to do with Tesla,” he said.

He’s not gotten any feedback on the bill from Tesla, though he’s seen media reports. “It seems like they’re using this as kind of a red herring to talk about their issue, which is already covered under current law,” Nesbitt said.

Burns of the Auto Dealers said that the amendment was to clarify the bill’s application to all deals, as some have tried to claim exemptions in the past. It doesn’t represent a regulatory change, he said.

“All the original equipment manufacturers in the world that do business here comply with the law, and it’s worked very well,” Burns said.

Some don’t think the current prohibition on direct-to-consumer sales is working well. Ted O’Neil, director of media relations for free market think tank The Mackinac Center, said allowing consumers to purchase directly from manufacturers would cut vehicle costs.

“We’ve come out in favor of abolishing basically auto dealer protectionism laws. We would think there’s nothing wrong with people who would be able to buy a vehicle directly from the manufacturer,” O’Neil said.

He said the fact that a prohibition of direct sales already exists in Michigan is a product of strong lobbying and donations from auto dealers.

HB 5606 is on Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk, where spokesperson Dave Murray said staff is still reviewing it.

“They’re giving it the due diligence and review before making a decision,” Murray said.

The Governor has until Oct. 21 to act on the bill.

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Tesla Motors’ Loss Widens on Higher Spending

Tesla Motors Inc said its second-quarter loss increased to $62 million, or 50 cents a share, from a $31 million loss a year ago as the company ramped up spending to develop its second electric vehicle, added workers and expanded into China, reported The Wall Street Journal.

Tesla said it delivered 7,579 Model S vehicles in the quarter, a bit above the 7,500 it had forecast. But Tesla lowered its forecast for revenue and deliveries for the third quarter to 7,800 vehicles from 9,500 because it had to shut down its factory in Fremont, Calif., to install equipment in July. Tesla said it should be able to ramp up production in the final three months of 2014 to reach its sales goal of 35,000.

Earlier Thursday, Tesla and Panasonic Corp. said they had reached an agreement for the battery maker to participate in the construction and operation of the world’s largest battery factory in the U.S. The so-called Gigafactory would be an investment of as much as $5 billion and employ 6,500 people, giving Tesla battery capacity for up to 500,000 vehicles a year.

Panasonic, earlier Thursday, reported that operating profit rose 28% to ¥82 billion ($798 million) in the April-June quarter. Sales increased 1.5%, helped by strong performance in its housing and automotive businesses. Net profit dropped 65% owing to a one-time gain in the year-ago period from a change in its pension scheme.

Tesla said it expects its annualized pace of deliveries will hit 100,000 vehicles by the end of next year, as it ramps up production of its Model X sport utility vehicle. In addition to that forecast, Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk boldly predicted that within 10 years, Tesla’s electric cars are “heading to a place of no contest when it comes to gasoline,” meaning electric cars will be lower cost.

Tesla said in its shareholder letter that it began site work near Reno, Nev., in June but continues to evaluate other locations in Arizona, California, Texas and New Mexico. Mr. Elon Musk, in a call with analysts, said the company would begin site work at one or more other sites and that the company was trying to work with local governments, which he expected would pay for up to 10% of the total project costs.

Revenue for Tesla rose 89% from a year earlier to $769 million. The average automotive revenue per electric car was about $101,000 during the quarter. The company said in a statement that demand for the Model S continues to rise in North America and Europe.

“We believe these markets remain underpenetrated,” the auto maker said, addressing concerns expressed by some analysts that sales growth in the U.S. and Europe was cooling off.

Tesla addressed another concern, saying that increased battery cell production by Panasonic in Japan should allow for higher production.

Tesla’s earnings were reduced by a noncash interest expense related to raising $2.3 billion in convertible notes earlier this year and stock-based compensation for executives. Tesla’s loss from operations rose to $28.7 million as research-and-development costs and overhead jumped 20% combined from the first quarter.

Earnings excluding stock-based executive compensation and the noncash interest expense were $16 million, or 11 cents a share, better than the 4-cent a share consensus forecast of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

Tesla adjusted revenue, which takes into account deferred leasing revenue, was $858 million for the quarter. The leases help overall deliveries, but put a lid on top-line GAAP revenue.

Similar to the second quarter, Tesla said its costs would jump in the third quarter to fuel research and development and new employment, with R&D spending rising 20% and overhead increasing 15%. The company said it would be “marginally profitable” on a basis that adjusts for the lease accounting, stock-based compensation and noncash interest expense.

Tesla also said its spending on capital expenses for 2014 could be as high as $950 million, up from an earlier forecast of $850 million.

“We are not currently showing all our cards,” he said. “Our cap-ex and R&D numbers are better than they appear because there are things you don’t know about.”

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Tesla Makes Strides on East Coast

Albany, NY and Trenton, NJ — Telsa Motors made strides in two East Coast states this week, when the New Jersey Assembly passed a bill favorable to the electric automaker and New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation resolving a dispute between Tesla and auto dealers.

The New York legislation, which was signed by Gov. Cuomo on June 16, will allow Tesla to maintain its five currently licensed retail locations in New York State. Additional Tesla retail locations will be established under a strengthened dealer franchise law, agreed upon by Tesla, the New York State Automobile Dealers Association and the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association.

“This agreement is a big win for New York State — one that proves the Empire State remains a leader in spurring innovation, supporting economic growth, and creating new opportunities for all,” Gov. Cuomo said in a statement. “New York’s franchised auto dealers and manufacturers as well as innovative companies like Tesla are critical to our state’s economy, and this bill ensures that both sides will thrive and be able to grow the market for cutting edge zero-emission vehicles.”

On the same day, the New Jersey Assembly voted to approve a bill that allows manufacturers to directly sell zero-emissions vehicles to consumers at a maximum of four locations in the state. The bill still must pass the state Senate and be signed into law by Governor Chris Christie.

In April, the New Jersey’s Motor Vehicle Commission voted unanimously to prohibit Tesla from selling directly to consumers in the state. At the time, Tesla CEO Elon Musk called the move a “backroom deal” with Gov. Christie to circumvent the legislative process.

“The rationale given for the regulation change that requires auto companies to sell through dealers is that it ensures ‘consumer protection.’ If you believe this, Gov. Christie has a bridge closure he wants to sell you!” Musk wrote at the time. “Unless they are referring to the mafia version of ‘protection,’ this is obviously untrue. As anyone who has been through the conventional auto dealer purchase process knows, consumer protection is pretty much the furthest thing from the typical car dealer’s mind.”

The electric-vehicle maker still faces legislative roadblocks in a number of other states, including Missouri, where last month lawmakers added language to an existing bill that would require consumers to purchase vehicles through franchised dealerships.

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Technology Advancements Present Challenge to Car Servicing Industry

London – Service4Service, a car servicing provider, warned that technological developments in the motor industry present the biggest challenge to the car servicing industry in 2014. Developments such as hybrid engines, electronic driving aids and fully battery-powered motors are considerably increasing the complexity of repair work.

Car giants such as Volkswagen, BMW and Toyota have all recently released new fully electric cars onto the market. At present, a £5,000 UK government subsidy means these cars are rapidly becoming more affordable for consumers.

Technology advancements in the motor industry are complex and varied. At present, many companies are experimenting with a variety of different techniques and methods to maximize efficiency. Unlike standard gasoline engines, electric motors can cause problems for car service professionals who are not properly trained.

The rate at which technology is driving the car industry forward far exceeds the amount of specialist knowledge available. Almost no training schemes are available for service industry professionals and mechanics to deal with advancements in electronic motors.

While branded dealerships are receiving the information and training required to keep up with technological developments, there is a risk that smaller, privately owned dealerships will fall behind if they do not seek the right training and information.

Considerable effort from the car service industry will be required if they are to keep up with technological developments in the future.

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