Archive for the ‘battery electric vehicles’ Category

“Please don’t describe us as a Tesla killer”—Ars talks to Lucid Motors

June 9th, 2020

With a brand-new, state-of-the-art factory nearing completion in the southwest desert and an energy-dense battery pack using cylindrical cells, it's all-too tempting to set up a rivalry between Lucid Motors and Tesla. Heck, it's a trope that we've been guilty of using in the past. But it's a bad take, according to Peter Rawlinson, Lucid's CEO and CTO. "Please don't describe us as a Tesla killer," he told me. "The world's big enough that we can both thrive and prosper alongside each other."

It's been a while since we checked in with Lucid Motors. In 2017, we got our first look at the Air, a stylish sedan that Rawlinson says is targeting the Mercedes S-Class, not the Model S. Later that year, one of the company's alpha prototypes stunned us by achieving a remarkable 235mph (378km/h) in testing. But plans to enter production in 2019 were waylaid by a lack of funding.

"We saw our Series D funding take a little longer than anticipated. But it ended in an outstanding result with a public investment from Saudi Arabia that was over a billion dollars," he told me, referring to the big (if controversial) investment from the Middle East. Rawlinson said that the plan was always to go into production about two years after funding was secured, and were it not for the pandemic, that schedule would be on track.

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As Volvo goes electric, here’s how it’s making its batteries top-notch

March 31st, 2020

Electric cars are becoming much more important to automakers, and that means those companies are having to learn how to get good with batteries. That was baked into Tesla from day one, but for existing automakers, batteries have to become a new core competency. Recently, Volvo opened its doors in Gothenburg, Sweden, to show us how that's happening, ahead of the launch later this year of its new battery EV, the XC40 Recharge.

Volvo was an early advocate for going electric, announcing a plan for its model range shortly after it told us that it was ending development on diesel engines. That plan calls for 50 percent of its sales to be BEVs by 2025, but actually implementing that plan is more involved than just holding a press conference, and it's a transformation that affects the entire company. Engineers are being retrained to work with electric motors instead of internal combustion engines. Supply lines and purchasing have to get to grips with responsibly sourcing a new range of materials. The carmaker even has to think about what its new EVs should sound like.

Volvos have to be safe

Volvo has built its reputation on safety, and obviously the move to electric powertrains can't be allowed to compromise that.

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Posted in battery electric vehicles, cars, lithium-ion batteries, volvo, Volvo XC40 | Comments (0)

General Motors announces new battery platform, claims $100/kWh soon

March 4th, 2020

On Wednesday afternoon in Warren, Michigan, General Motors announced it has developed a new, third-generation battery electric vehicle platform (called BEV3) and a new flexible battery architecture—called Ultium—that will underpin a wide range of new BEVs across the Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, and GMC brands. It's the latest in a series of recent announcements by GM regarding its electrified future; in December 2019, the carmaker revealed a $2.3 billion joint venture with LG Chem to build a battery factory in Lordstown, Ohio, then followed that in January with plans to spend $2.2 billion refitting its Detroit-Hamtramck factory to exclusively build BEVs.

Breaking the $100/kWh barrier

GM has gone for a pouch cell design for the Ultium batteries, which can be configured in different ways depending on the vehicle and its needs. For a big pickup or SUV, that means pouches arranged vertically in the modules (i.e., with their second-longest edge vertically), which GM says is best for energy density, but at the tradeoff of a taller pack. For cars that need something a little lower profile, the pouches can be stacked on top of each other in a module. GM says that a car would use between six and 12 modules in a pack, with up to 24 in a 200kWh, 800V double-layer battery pack for something like the 1,000hp electric GMC Hummer that was trailed at this year's Super Bowl. (The smallest six-module packs would be 50kWh units.)

The battery modules also include their own battery-management electronics. That has cut the amount of wiring in a pack by 88 percent over the current Chevrolet Bolt EV battery pack. GM says that if you have to replace an individual module within a battery pack, the electronics can talk to each other and recalibrate the pack easily. That's because each module knows what kind of chemistry its cells use.

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Posted in batteries, battery electric vehicles, cars, Electric vehicles, General Motors | Comments (0)

Study that argued EVs aren’t cleaner gets an update

December 4th, 2019
Photograph of a compact car under construction.

Enlarge (credit: Maurizio Pesce / Flickr)

There are people who object to newfangled technologies that address our reliance on dirty energy. For them, claims like this are irresistible catnip: electric vehicles aren't actually cleaner than their gas-burning counterparts. What a delicious I-told-you-so to those naïve environmentalists! The only problem with these claims is that they aren't true.

This particular assertion is based on the idea that the manufacturing of big batteries for these cars generates so much emissions that all later savings are canceled out. Sometimes, this argument requires unfair assumptions, like expecting an internal combustion vehicle to last far longer than an EV. But it always requires cherry-picking a high estimate for battery manufacturing emissions.

One of those estimates came from a 2017 study from the IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute. Based on the data that it had to work with, the institute's study put the emissions at 150-200 kilograms of CO2 per kilowatt-hour of lithium-ion battery capacity—one of the highest estimates that has been published.

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Posted in battery electric vehicles, Electric vehicles, greenhouse gas emissions, science | Comments (0)

This concept looks to the future as Lexus builds BEV for 2020

October 23rd, 2019

This year's Tokyo auto show just got underway in Japan, and in keeping with the zeitgeist, there are plenty of new electric vehicles at the show. However, like the annual Frankfurt auto show, seeing some of the debuts can be frustrating from a US perspective. For example, Mazda has a cool new battery EV—with suicide doors—but like the cute Honda E there are no plans to bring it to America. But one Japanese brand that will bring us a BEV is Lexus. It plans to bring the as-yet-unseen electric car to the US and China in 2020, although everyone has to wait until November to actually see what it looks like.

In the meantime, the company has the LF-30 concept to keep us guessing. Before anyone gets ahead of themselves, this is absolutely not what a production Lexus EV will look like next year. The clue is in the name—"30" refers to the year 2030, so this really is one of those corporate flights of fancy that still requires an enabling technology or two to be perfected first.

The LF-30 uses individual hub motors mounted in each wheel, which, it says, allow the design to "visually express the energy created by the wheels set at the corners of the vehicle body streaming toward the vehicle cabin and past the driver to directly flow onto the road surface." With no traditional hood upon which to mount its Cylon-shaped grille (officially known as the "spindle"), the spindle shape shows up all over the place—an angle here in the window line, a crease there in an air intake.

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Volvo’s XC40 crossover goes fully battery electric for “under $48,000”

October 16th, 2019

Volvo was one of the first automakers to declare its plans to do something about carbon emissions. In 2017, the Swedish OEM announced that it was abandoning development of diesel engines. A few weeks later, it promised that every new Volvo introduced from 2019 would be electrified in some form, whether that be as a mild hybrid, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, or a battery electric vehicle.

On Wednesday, Volvo Cars President and CEO Håkan Samuelsson got even more concrete, saying that the company is aiming for plug-ins to make up 20% of all its new vehicle sales in 2020 and 50% by 2025. "Although you never really know how the customers will react," he added (customers still have to want to buy the EVs it wants to sell). To accomplish that, Volvo is going to be launching a new BEV each year. Today in Los Angeles, we got introduced to the first of these—the new battery electric XC40 SUV.

The XC40 first appeared in 2017 as the first vehicle to use Volvo's new Compact Modular Architecture. This is the same architecture that provides the building blocks for the forthcoming Polestar 2 BEV, as well as vehicles from Geely and Lynk & Co. Any XC40s you've seen on the road up until this point will have been conventional, internal combustion engine-powered crossovers. But with this new variant, all that changes.

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Ford shows off electric F-150 truck by towing a million pounds of train

July 23rd, 2019

Even if you're not a truck fan, the prospect of a battery electric Ford F-150 is appealing. The F-150 is the nation's best-selling light vehicle with more than 1.1 million sold in 2018, so it would be a good thing if some of those future sales were variants that didn't need to pump out buckets of CO2 every day. To do that, Ford not only needs a competent electric powertrain, it also has to convince some of its customers that dropping the internal combustion engine isn't a downgrade.

Which is probably why the company just released video of a prototype BEV F-150 towing more than a million pounds (453,592kg). Linda Zhang, chief engineer for the electric F-150, used one of the prototypes to pull 10 double-decker train cars carrying 42 2019 F-150s over a distance of more than 1,000 feet (300m). Until now, the heaviest thing pulled by a BEV for a publicity stunt was probably a Qantas Boeing 787 weighing 286,600lbs (130,000kg), which was pulled by a Tesla Model X in 2018.

In less welcome F-150 news, on Monday a class action lawsuit was filed against Ford for overstating the fuel efficiency of the 2018 and 2019 F-150 as well as the 2019 Ford Ranger trucks. The suit alleges that Ford "deliberately miscalculated and misrepresented factors used in vehicle certification testing in order to report that its vehicles used less fuel and emitted less pollution than they actually did. The certification test related cheating centers on the "Coast Down" testing and "Road Load" calculations."

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Ford-VW alliance means more EVs for Europe, joint Argo AI investment

July 12th, 2019
Volkswagen CEO Dr. Herbert Diess (L) and Ford President and CEO Jim Hackett (R) announced their companies are expanding their global alliance to include electric vehicles and will collaborate with Argo AI to introduce autonomous vehicle technology in the U.S. and Europe.

Enlarge / Volkswagen CEO Dr. Herbert Diess (L) and Ford President and CEO Jim Hackett (R) announced their companies are expanding their global alliance to include electric vehicles and will collaborate with Argo AI to introduce autonomous vehicle technology in the U.S. and Europe. (credit: Sam VarnHagen)

On Friday, Ford and Volkswagen made official news that first leaked last week. The pair are strengthening their alliance to work together on those hottest of emerging automotive technologies, electric vehicles and autonomous driving.

Equal partners in Argo AI

VW will become an equal partner in the self-driving startup Argo AI, putting in $1 billion in cash and another $1.6 billion in the form of Audi's Autonomous Intelligent Driving spinoff, which will become Argo AI's European center of operations. Over the next three years, VW will also buy an additional $500 million of Argo AI shares from Ford. (Ford will still complete its billion-dollar investment in Argo AI). Until now, Argo AI has operated as a de facto Ford subsidiary, but this investment makes VW an equal partner, with the remaining shares in the company reserved for employee compensation.

Argo AI's technology will be incorporated into both Ford and VW vehicles as part of each company's plans to offer geofenced driverless robotaxis or goods delivery services in the US and Europe. "While Ford and Volkswagen remain independent and fiercely competitive in the marketplace, teaming up and working with Argo AI on this important technology allows us to deliver unmatched capability, scale and geographic reach," said Ford President and CEO Jim Hackett in a statement.

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At Tesla shareholder meeting, Musk assures “there is not a demand problem”

June 12th, 2019
A Tesla sedan on a city street charges at a charging station.

Enlarge (credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Tesla held a shareholder meeting in Mountain View, Calif., on Tuesday afternoon, and CEO Elon Musk addressed the audience on a number of issues facing the company before taking questions from shareholders.

Tesla had a complicated first half of the year. It achieved significant Model 3 delivery, but reportedly sluggish demand for the Model S and X has dragged the company down. Some analysts have turned bearish on Tesla after Musk promised profitable quarters going forward in Q4 2018 but then missed profitability badly in Q1 2019.

But Musk defended his company's health in his initial statement to the audience. He told shareholders "I want to be clear that there is not a demand problem... Sales have far exceeded production, and production has been pretty good. We have a decent shot at a record quarter... if not, it's going to be very close." Musk added that 90 percent of orders are coming from non-reservation customers.

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Posted in battery electric vehicles, cars, Energy, Tesla | Comments (0)

Seattle makes history with electric garbage truck

May 22nd, 2019
This is Recology's new BYD 8R, the first electric rear-loading class 8 garbage truck in the US.

Enlarge / This is Recology's new BYD 8R, the first electric rear-loading class 8 garbage truck in the US. (credit: BYD)

If you live in Seattle, your scheduled garbage pickup might be about to get a lot quieter. Recology, a West Coast waste management company, has just taken the delivery of its first fully electric garbage trucks. The vehicle is a class 8 truck—meaning the heaviest—made by BYD, with New Way supplying the Viper rear-loading garbage truck body. It's also apparently the first electric class 8 rear-loader in the country and the first of two that Recology ordered last year.

The BYD's specs make for very different reading compared to the average electric vehicles we cover. The powertrain is a 320kW (430hp), 1101Nm (812ft-lbs) electric motor, supplied by a 295kWh battery pack. However, it does have to carry around a truck with a 21,605lb (9,800kg) curb weight, and it can be optioned to a gross vehicle weight of either 57,500lbs (26,082kg) or 66,000lbs (29,937kg). (Interestingly, the photo BYD sent us has the GVW at 50,000lbs on the door.)

All that mass means the truck is limited to a 65mph (104km/h) top speed and a range of 56 miles (90km) and 600 pickups. Recharging the truck doesn't take as long as you think, despite all those kWh—nine hours connected to a 33kW AC outlet. The 8R supports either 120kW or 240kW DC fast charging, which takes 2.5 hours or 1.5 hours to recharge, respectively.

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