2018 Blog Archive
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Past blogs from 2018
Sunday December 30, 2018 Charger Frustration
Sunday December 23, 2018 Milestones for 2018
Sunday Dec 16, 2018 Hyundai Kona EV
Sunday December 9, 2018 Sedans Being Phased Out
Sunday December 2, 2018 2018 LA Auto Show
Sunday November 25, 2018 Fourth National Climate Assessment
Sunday November 18, 2018 EV Tax Credit Extension
Sunday Nov 11, 2018 California Burns Again
Sunday November 4, 2018 eBay Search Tips
Sunday October 28, 2018 Renewable and Energy Poverty
Sunday October 21, 2018 Jaguar i-Pace
Sunday October 14, 2018 2018 Santa Monica Alt Fuel Expo
Sunday October 7, 2018 2018 Q3 Sales Overview
Sunday September 30, 2018 What Can I Do To Stop Global Warming?
Sunday September 23, 2018 Electric Cargo Movers
Sunday August 12, 2018 Hurricane Florence
Sunday September 9, 2018 Tesla Killers
Sunday September 2, 2018 Grid Energy Storage
Sunday August 26, 2018 Why Are EVs Not Being Mass Produced?
Sunday Aug 19, 2018 Hydrogen as a Fuel
Sunday August 12, 2018 Range Rover Goes PHEV
Sunday Aug 5, 2018 New EV Sales High
Sunday July 29, 2018 EV Driver Bill of Rights
Sunday Jul 22, 2018 BMW i8 Roadster
Sunday July 15, 2018 2018 Q2 Sales Overview
Sunday July 8, 2018 GM Ups Volt Charge Rate
Sunday Jul 1, 2018 Hybrid Smog Check
Sunday June 24, 2018 Colorado to Adopt California Rules
Sunday Jun 17, 2018 Global Warming, Greenland, and Vikings
Sunday June 10, 2018 Moke America
Sunday June 3, 2018 Last-Mile Travel
Sunday April 22, 2018 Classics Go Electric
Sunday May 20, 2018 My Stay, My Car
Sunday May 13, 2018 Charging Model for Malls
Sunday May 6, 2018 Shorting Tesla
Sunday April 29, 2018 China has Huge Lead in Electric Buses
Sunday April 22, 2018 Electrified Roads
Sunday April 15, 2018 Beverly Hills Policy Change Follow-up
Sunday April 8, 2018 March 2018 EV Sales
Sunday April 1, 2018 Beverly Hills Charger Discrimination
Sunday March 25, 2018 More EV Bashing in Forbes
Sunday March 18, 2018 Still Hard to Buy a BEV
Sunday March 4, 2018 Tax Credit Phase Out
Sunday February 25, 2018 Ioniq Problems
Sunday February 18, 2018 EV Corridor Analysis Tool
Sunday February 11, 2018 Volt Sales Decline
Sunday February 4, 2018 January 2018 EV Sales
Sunday January 28, 2018 It's Weather
Sunday January 21, 2018 Solid State Batteries
Sunday January 14, 2018 Fire and Flood
Sunday January 7, 2018 December 2017 EV Sales
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Sunday December 30, 2018 Charger Frustration I don't drive very much anymore, for the last few years I have been driving around 3,000 miles per year and I try to do as much of that as I can driving electric rather than using the ICE. I do usually make an exception once in a while and take a road trip and this year it was over the Christmas break
Just a couple of days before Christmas I headed South to the quiet seaside town of Carlsbad for some well deserved R & R. I had a good time but I did find trying to charge very frustrating.
I like my Prius Plug-in but it does have it's issues. The biggest of these are limited all electric range and slow charging rates. I am getting between 10 and 11 miles per charge on the car and the 2.4 KW charger means it takes about and hour and a half to get a full charge. This limits me in a few ways.
The limited range means that you have to deal with chargers very close to your route. Consider if I have to go 3 miles out of my way to find a public charger. That means a full charge only gives me a range of 4 - 5 miles on a charge with the rest being taken up by driving to and from the charger. The slow charging speed also means that chargers priced by the hour, which is the way most public chargers are set up, are uneconomical, usually costing way more than gas for the same range.
I did a check on plugshare.com and found that the Garden Inn had a charger and it was free but the hotel was already fully booked for the time I wanted to stay so I chose a hotel nearby. A further look at plugshare showed that there was one other location nearby that had free chargers, the Legoland Castle Hotel. There were other locations but most of these were 5 miles or more away meaning I would burn more gas to get there than I would save.
Once I arrived in Carlsbad I went to the Garden Inn to check out the chargers. One was a CCS charger that was available and the other was a J1772 but the EV space was also a disabled space. The other spaces next to the disabled space were both in use so I couldn't get near enough to use the charger.
I drove over to the Legoland Castle Hotel and found the chargers there. According to Plugshare they have 14 chargers that are free to use but I found that all spaces were ICED except for the very last space with was a disabled space. It seams that the spaces are taken up by the hotel valet parking so you have to use the Valet if you want to charge. While charging is free, valet parking cost $25 which is way too expensive if you are just going to have lunch at their restaurant.
I decided to pass on the $25 charge but on the way back I spotted a large solar array. I went to investigate and found a large empty parking lot under the array. There were two Chargepoint double headed chargers. I ran my card on one of the chargers but was told that I wasn't authorized. It appears that these chargers are private chargers dedicated to the employees of whatever company the parking lot services. I didn't see any signs restricting parking but I do get that companies may want to reserve chargers for their employees; research has shown that free charging at work is a great incentive to employees.
I also found that there were chargers at the Carlsbad Outlet Mall but once again these were EV-Go fast chargers. When I was there both the CSS and Chademo chargers were in use and there were 3 or 4 EVs in adjacent spaces that looked like they were waiting to charge..
On Christmas day I couldn't find a restaurant that was open in Carlsbad so I decided to go try the one at the Garden Inn. When I got there I found that the space next to the disabled/EV charging space was available and it looked like the cable would reach if i backed in. When I went to run my card by the charger I found a big note on it saying it was out of service and to use the other charger. As this is a CCS charger it is totally incompatible with many cars, including mine and every other plug-in hybrid. These chargers are managed by Chargepoint and I have found them very slow to fix broken chargers.
I said that we didn't need public chargers to start the rollout of electric cars and I still think this was correct in the early days. Now however we are getting to the point where electric vehicle sales are beginning to really take off and cars are coming into dealerships are no longer useful only as a second car for commuting and running around town. We now have several EVs that are capable of handling a journey like the one I took at Christmas and public charging is becoming much more import.
It seems clear to me that hotels should take the lead and start to provide EV charging to their customers. They don't need to install fast chargers, even just having 110V plugs would work for many people and certainly a few level 2 chargers would go a long way to make EV travel more viable. They would also be a great incentive to bring in customers. What you don't need to do is put the charger in a disabled space so almost nobody can use it. I understand that if parking is limited and you have to provide a minimum number of disabled spaces then you don't want to block off more parking spaces with EV charging bays. On the other hand making the EV charger inaccessible to most EV drivers says that you are putting there for show not for the convenience of your customers.
It seems to me that a fast charger is not needed at a hotel when most people can get a reasonable charge overnight using level 2 chargers. I am also surprised that a shopping center like the Outlet Mall in Carlsbad provides fast charging. Fast charging makes sense at grocery stores where people tend to spend 20 or 30 minutes but at a Mall you want to keep people there as long as possible so Level 2 charging is probably a better option business wise. Free charging supported by advertising is a way to bring EV drivers into Malls rather than have them shop online.
In the end I finished up not getting a charge at all while I was staying in Carlsbad. The good news is that a new California law which goes into effect on January 1, 2019 makes the BEV only rule at the Beverly Hills chargers illegal in some locations. I understand that the City of Beverly Hills has decided to revert the rule for all its charger locations so Plug-in Hybrids will be able to charge once again in Beverly Hills. Charging won't be free but the 25 cents per KWh puts the cost of charging on a par with the cost of gas so I will be able to charge near work again.
Sunday December 23, 2018 Milestones for 2018 While 2018 is not over yet some important milestones have been reached this year which could indicate that we are at a tipping point where the move to electric vehicles will continue to accelerate as it did towards the end of the year.
The sales numbers for the year are not in yet but with Tesla doing a massive push to deliver cars before the tax credit gets halved in January it is a pretty safe bet that December will be the best month to date for plug-in vehicle sales. 2018 is already the best year ever for EV sales and the December numbers are just going to push it that much further ahead of last year.
The year started off relatively slow and while sales stayed ahead of 2017 month over month throughout the year, they didn't really surge until July. To some extent this was intentional as Tesla appears to have dragged its feet on deliveries in June to ensure that they didn't loose half the $7,500 tax credit before the end of the year. In early July Tesla hit the first big milestone when they delivered the 200,000th car to a paying customer. The first Company selling in the US to hit that milestone.
After they had hit 200,000 they began to ramp up production and delivery of the Model 3 to such an extent that it is now the 5th best selling sedan in the US. This push, along with steady sales from the other OEMs, took us the next Milestone that occurred in September when US sales hit 1 million plug-in cars.
It's not easy to say when this actually happened because several manufacturers don't don't break out plug-in car sales, so we are working with estimates. The estimates most relied on are the ones done by InsideEVs and over the years they have been remarkably close to reality. Their estimate of 1 Million sales does not include the Tesla Roadster, the EVs sold during the early period of 1997 to 2003, and some low volume EVs like the Wheego Life and Th!nk City, so it's a pretty good bet that we did hit the 1 Million mark in September.
November also saw 2 significant milestones. The first was that here in California we hit the 500,000 mark in plug-in sales. What is also of interest is that plug-in car sales now make up about 7.1% of California car sales and that rate is growing. Part of the reason for this is that the California ZEV mandate pretty much means that car makers have to stock electric cars in California which has a much bigger choice of plug-in vehicles than any other state.
November also saw GM become the second company in the US to exceed 200,000 car sales. That means the EV tax credit for GM cars will drop to half starting in the second quarter of next year and will halve again starting the forth quarter. There are bills making their way through Congress right now to extend the tax credit but I don't expect them to go anywhere while the Republicans have control of the Senate and the Presidency.
The big question now is will the momentum that has been built over the last couple of years be sustained after the EV tax credit goes away. It is not clear how the loss of the tax credit will impact Tesla and GM. Nissan and Ford should be the next to hit the 200,000 mark but at current sales rates if is going to take quite some time to get there. Nissan has been selling about 1.300 per month and still need to sell about 73,000 more cars before hitting 200,000 car sales. Ford have about 88,000 cars to go but are phasing out their current plug-in models so no telling how any new models may sell.
The question now is how badly will the loss of the EV tax credit will hit Tesla and GM. Personally I don't think it will have too much of an impact on Tesla but GM may struggle to sell the Bolt once the tax credit fades away. They have already announced that they are pulling the plug on the Volt but I suspect that this is more about their return to SUVs rather than the impact of the tax credit. I suspect that Tesla will continue to do well even in the new year even with the tax credit cut in half.
Sunday Dec 16, 2018 Hyundai Kona EV Battery technology has been moving forward in leaps and bounds while the tastes of the American consumer has changed markedly. In the first half of 2019 we are going to see a whole new group of cars starting to emerge while some favorites are likely to fade into the background.
Tesla has led the way since it introduced the Roadster in 2008 and I expect that it will continue to lead the US EV market over the next few years especially when the base version of the Model 3 starts to hit the streets, probably towards the end of the first quarter. The Model 3 is a sedan but the SUV and crossover vehicle segments are what are hot at the moment and we are starting to see a companies working toward filling this niche. With the Tesla Model Y still some time off there is an opportunity for another car company to build significant market share in this segment. One company that could do this is Hyundai who will be launching the Kona EV crossover in the first quarter of 2019.
The heart of the Hyundai Kona EV is a 64KWh Lithium-ion battery that sits under the floor in the skateboard design that is becoming common on pure electric cars. This battery offers an EPA rated range of 258 miles per charge which bests the Chevy Bolt by 20 miles.
The car comes with CCS fast charging as standard. It is capable of charging the car at 72KW up to 55% charge after which the charge rate tapers down to 25KW. That means you can add 62 miles of range in about 20 minutes and reach 80% charge in about 54 minutes. It is also capable of charging at 7.2Kw on a level 2 charger taking around 9.5 hours for a full charge. Using the supplied level 1 charger a full charge will take 50 hours so most people will want to install a level 2 charger in their garage.
The car's 201hp electric motor is capable of taking the Kona EV from 0-60 in 7.6 seconds which is about 1 second slower than the turbo charged gas version but much better than the 9.2 seconds it takes the gas driven 2 liter Kona. Top speed is limited at 104mph.
There are 3 driving modes for this car, Normal, Eco, and Eco+. Eco+ is for use when you really need to stretch range to make it to your next available charger. It will do this by cutting power usage to a minimum including turning of climate control. The Kona EV also feature several levels of regenerative braking including paddles that will maximize regenerative braking and allow for single foot driving.
The Kona EV seats 5 people in relative comfort. With the rear seats up it also provides a decent 19.2 cubic feet of storage space which is about 5 cubic feet more than the Chevy Bolt. The Bolt wins out when the seats are lowered though with 56.6 cubic feet of storage space verses a disappointing 45.8 cubic feet of storage space for the Kona EV.
Sales price has not been set yet but is expected to start at less than $35,000 before tax incentives. There will be 3 trim levels, SE, which is still nicely equipped, and has cloth seats; Limited, which adds additional features on top of what SEL offers, including leather seating; and Ultimate which adds further features including smart cruise control.
All-in-all the Kona EV offers a nice package at what is expected to be a reasonable price. It will be rolled out in California some time in the first quarter of 2019 followed by a the rest of the states that follow the California emissions rules. Hyundai is one of those companies that is heavily invested in fuel cell vehicles so it looks like they have no plans to roll out the Kona EV beyond the CARB states. People not living in the CARB states will have the option to special order the Kona EV through their local Hyundai dealer but I suspect that many of these dealers are going to try and discourage buyers who will need to be persistent when placing an order.
Sunday December 9, 2018 Sedans Being Phased Out Right now people in the USA are not buying sedans in large numbers, at least they are not buying US built ICE powered sedans in large numbers. While the sedan market is slow, sales of SUVs and Pickup Trucks are booming. This has led both GM and Ford to announce that they are going to phase out their sedan line-up.
GM has taken a lot of flack from President Trump and members of congress after announcing that they will be laying of 14,000 people and closing between 5 and 7 plants. This is after they received big tax breaks in the last year's tax bill. Ford announced that they would stop making most sedans back in April but didn't add plant closures and layoffs so it has been less in the public eye.
In 1905 George Santayana said "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." It seems that both GM and Ford should remember this as they did something similar back before the economy tanked in 2008. Ford managed to weather the storm OK but GM ended up in bankruptcy. Now both of them are repeating the past and I just hope they don't end up with a similar future.
From the standpoint of the plug-in market we will be loosing the Chevy Volt, which for many years was one of the best selling plug-in cars, at least until Tesla took the crown. In November GM sold 3,930 Volts which made it the best selling plug-in car that didn't have a Tesla badge on it. It also has the longest all electric range for a plug-in hybrid at about 55 miles. Production is scheduled to end in March.
GM will continue to sell the Bolt, which they classify as a crossover, although to me it looks pretty much like a hatchback..
We will also be loosing the Ford Fusion Energi and the Ford Focus electric while the C-Max Energi is already gone. This will leave Ford with no plug-in cars to sell unless it comes out with a new vehicle. It is rumored that Ford are working on a plug-in hybrid version of the Escape which is expected in showrooms some time in 2019. If this is the case Ford should have some sort of announcement at the Detroit Auto Show.
I do know of people who are looking for an all electric Minivan or SUV but so far I haven't heard of any plans to market one by any of the major OEMs. I suggested to one of my friends that he take a look at the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid but his was very firm saying "No more ICE for me".
It looks like Ford and GM have pretty much ceded the sedan market to Tesla, and Elon Musk has already said he may be interested in buying one or more of the plants GM is closing.
Personally I think that the sudden march towards SUVs will reverse again if the economy weakens, which it appears to be doing. If this happens then we may seen Ford and GM being left with uncompetitive vehicles again. What they need to do is learn how to make small sedans profitably. They are a gateway into the brand for first time buyers and if these guys go to Honda or Toyota then you may have lost that customer forever. Brand loyalty is a big part of auto sales and you need to catch the buyer early on.
Sunday December 2, 2018 2018 LA Auto Show - The LA
Auto Show kicked off this week at the Los Angeles Convention Center and it is
amazing to see how far we have come with plug-in vehicles since I started
covering the show over a decade ago. Back then it was the occasional NEV, a few
standard hybrids and perhaps a concept car or two. This year the show was
teaming with them.
The biggest surprise of the show came from Kia which announced not one but two 200+ mile range electric cars.
First, they announced the 2019 Kia Niro EV which should be in dealerships early next year. The car comes with a 64KWh battery pack that will give the car an EPA estimated range of 239 miles. This crossover s expected to start hitting dealerships early in 2019.
Second, they announced the upgraded version of the Kia Soul. This actually didnt look an awful lot different from the old Soul. The new vehicle will come equipped with the same 64 KWh battery pack that powers the Niro. There is no official EPA number from this car and Kia would only has that the cars range was double the current Soul EV which would make the range 222 miles. EPA numbers should be in some time in the first quarter of 2019 and it is likely that the Kia Soul will start to appear in dealerships toward the end of the second quarter. One nice thing is that the pack has been repackaged and no longer appears to intrude on the cargo space in the rear.
Kia have also abandoned the Chademo fast charging standard so both the Niro and Soul EV will come with the CCS fast charger connection. The bad news is that the cars will only be stocked in dealerships in CARB states so if you live outside these states then the cars will need to be special ordered.
The vehicles causing the most buzz were from Rivian, who launched both an electric SUV and an electric Truck on Tuesday. This was the day before the normal press conferences so I didnt get to see the reveal. Rivian have been in stealth mode for quite some time now and appear to have a couple of vehicles that will have wide appeal.
Both the truck and the SUV come with several battery pack configurations starting with 180 KWh pack with a quoted range of 410 Miles on a charge. They will also have 135 KWh and 110 KWh options. Both are supposed to be able to go from 0-60mph in 3 seconds and have a top speed of 125mph. The Truck is targeted at a base price of $69,000 while the SUV will be a little more expensive at $72,500. Production is planned to begin in 2020
When I stopped by to get some pictures, they were letting people look inside but not get inside. They also were very concerned about me scratching it with my camera bag. That gave me the impression that these were still in the concept stage. The company does appear to be well funded and do have a product that the US consumer would be interested in. It will be interested to see if they can get into production on schedule.
Another company who announced on Tuesday ahead of the normal press conferences was Byton. Byton is a startup car company based in Silicon Valley but mostly funded by Chinese car company FAW Group. The M-Byte is a full-sized SUV that will come with a 71 KWh battery that is said to provide a range of 250 miles and will have a base cost of just $45,000. The M-Byte is due to begin production in China next year and is planned to be put on sale in the USA in 2020.
Byton also showed off a concept car, the K-Byte which is their idea of what a fully autonomous vehicle will be. Both the M-Byte and K-Byte were designed with autonomous driving in mind and while the M-Byte is expected to have only partial autonomy the production car developed from the K-Byte is expected to be fully autonomous.
Audi showed off their e-tron GT concept. The car is driven by a 90 KWh battery that will give the car a range of 248 miles. 0-6 time is a fast 3.5 seconds and the car can hit a top speed of 149 mph. While this car has nothing like the range of the Tesla Model S 100D it is the first car I have seen so far that looks like it could offer a challenge to the Tesla Sedan. There was no indication if this car would actually be put into production although it did look close to being production ready.
While looking around the Audi stand, I did notice on omission, I couldnt find an A3 e-Tron Sportsback. What I did find was an all-electric SUV, the e-Tron 55 Quatro. The e-Tron 55 Quatro comes with a 95 KWh battery pack. The EPA range is not yet available for this SUV but it is expected to come in at around 250 miles. It will also include the 800-volt charging option that allows it to charge up to 80% in as little as 20 minutes. The car can go 0-60 mph in 5.5 seconds are speed tops out at 124 mph.
The car has a base price of $74,800 and can be ordered through the Audi USA web site with deliveries expected to start in the second quarter
BMW staged the world premier of the BMW Vision i-Next concept vehicle. The i-Next was a crossover type vehicle but apart from it being electric there was very little information about the specifications other than that they were in the process of developing the 5th generation electric drive train. They did mention that it would be fully autonomous.
VW were looking to fill a niche in local deliveries with the new I.D. Buzz Cargo. This is a panel van based on the I.D. Buzz platform. This concept is said to have an all-electric range of up to 340 miles depending on the battery option chosen. It also came with a solar roof and a digital cargo system to manage deliveries.
VW gave no indication of when this vehicle might be placed into production or if it would be offered in the USA.
I was disappointed to find out that Subaru was not having a press conference as they had announced the Crosstrek plug-in hybrid was going to be at the show. I took a walk around there stand and they did have a couple on display.
Outwardly the PHEV is the same as the standard Crosstrek but under the covers the 2.0 liter engine is mated to what is essentially the hybrid power train from the Prius Prime. The car has the same 8.8 KWh lithium Ion battery as the prime and this will offer up about 17 miles of all electric range which I found disappointing. Also like the Prius Prime the battery pack intrudes into the cargo area reducing cargo space.
The CrossTrek PHEV starts at a base price of $35,950 but will be eligible for a $4,500 federal tax credit. There was no indication of when the car would be available in the US but I expect to see it towards the end of the first quarter.
I was also somewhat disappointed with the Mitsubishi press conference. They did have the world premier of their new e-Evolution concept. This is a fully electric car that actually looked a little similar to the BMW Vision i-Next.
Being a concept car there were few details available about the e-Evolution drive train other than to note that it used a 3-motor system to give full four-wheel drive. There is a single motor driving the front wheels with two additional motors to drive the rear wheels.
The concept looked quite interesting but it was just a concept and looked nowhere near being production ready. I was expecting something more from them, perhaps a replacement for the now defunct i-MiEV.
Hyundai also was a big disappointment at first when there only announcement at
the press conference was a rather run-of-the-mill full sized EV called the
Palisade. As I wondered around their stand I did come across a couple of other
cars that are more my style.
The first was the Hyundai Kona a nice little crossover that is driven by a 64 KWh battery pack that gives the car and EPA rating of 258 miles. It has a 0-60 time of 7.6 seconds and will top out at 104 mph. The car comes equipped with a 7.2KW charger and will also have a 100KW CCS fast charger option.
The Kona EV will be on sale in California starting in the first quarter of 2019. It will then be rolled out to the other CARB states but will need to be special ordered at dealerships outside the CARB states.
Like Toyota, Hyundai is also committed to fuel cell technology and sitting next to the Kona EV was their next generation Nexo FCEV. The Nexo is supposed to be available here in California some time in December.
Both SUVs use a 13.1 KWh Lithium Ion battery pack that is said to give it an all-electric range of 31 miles. I havent been able to find any EPA numbers for the PHEV yet but I am guessing that it will show a range more like 20 to 25 miles per charge. Charging should be quite fast as the on-board charger is 7KW. It is supposed to go on sale in the US in December as a 2019 model but so far, I havent been able to lock down a specific date.
This years LA Auto Show was all about large SUVs but I found another side to the show, one that paints a picture of the growing trend towards electric vehicles. Prices are falling slowly while all-electric range is climbing. By the end of the second quarter of 2019 we should have at least 7 BEVs being sold that offer more than 200 miles of EV Range. In general plug-in hybrid all-electric range is climbing too and while we are losing the Chevy Volt, hopefully GM will have a replacement PHEV to show at the Detroit Auto Show in January.
Sunday November 25, 2018 Fourth National Climate Assessment The Fourth National Climate Assessment was released with little fanfare on November 23, 2018. The Global Change Research Act of 1990 calls for the release of a report on the impacts of climate change every for years and this one was quite grim.
It spelled out a message that was very different from the one that is being put forward by President Trump and the Republican Party. Its release on black Friday has led many to speculate that this was done on purpose when everyone was distracted by the busiest shopping day of the year.
Al Gore said "Unbelievably deadly and tragic wildfires rage in the west, hurricanes batter our coasts and the Trump administration chooses the Friday after Thanksgiving to try and bury this critical U.S. assessment of the climate crisis. The President may try to hide the truth, but his own scientists and experts have made it as stark and clear as possible.".
The report was created by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) but is based on the published work of over 300 climate scientists. It spells out the economic social impact that a changing climate is likely to have on the lives of US Citizens.
One key takeaway about air pollution reads, "More than 100 million people in the United States live in communities where air pollution exceeds health-based air quality standards. Unless counteracting efforts to improve air quality are implemented, climate change will worsen existing air pollution levels. This worsened air pollution would increase the incidence of adverse respiratory and cardiovascular health effects, including premature death. Increased air pollution would also have other environmental consequences, including reduced visibility and damage to agricultural crops and forests."
Air pollution is something that I have focused on since I founded evfinder.com many years ago. The burning of fossil fuels doesn't just emit carbon dioxide but also emits many other chemicals, some of which are quite toxic, including things like oxides of nitrogen, particulate matter, and unburned hydrocarbons. Electric Vehicles are a good way to eliminate most of these toxins.
The report even went into issues that climate change may have on our water supply. In the summary they wrote "The quality and quantity of water available for use by people and ecosystems across the country are being affected by climate change, increasing risks and costs to agriculture, energy production, industry, recreation, and the environment." They included things that you may not normally think about such as the risk that extended drought can create for hydro-electric power especially in the North Western States. Dropping water levels in Lake Mead have already forced the city of Los Vegas to dig new tunnels to access water in the lake as levels continue to drop, and it is only a matter of time that levels drop so low that they fall below the intake for the hydro-electric plant. This is not totally due to climate change but is made worse by it.
If anything will get the attention of the Republicans it is on the Economy where the report summary says "With continued growth in emissions at historic rates, annual losses in some economic sectors are projected to reach hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the centurymore than the current gross domestic product (GDP) of many U.S. states.".
Showing once again is total lack of understanding of the difference between climate and weather the President tweeted :Brutal and Extended Cold Blast could shatter ALL RECORDS Whatever happened to Global Warming?, just two days before the report came out.
If this report is anything close to accurate, and there is little reason to doubt that it is not, then we really need to start doing things now to prevent leaving a catastrophe for our grandchildren.
The costs of not taking immediate action to try and contain global warming is staggering. Anyone in our government who is not willing to take action on what our own government scientists are telling them is either incredibly incompetent or bought and paid for by the fossil fuel industry. Keep this in mind the next time you cast your ballot in an election.
Sunday November 18, 2018 EV Tax Credit Extension The current Federal EV tax credit, which can be a maximum of $7,500, is set to phase out after a car company sells 200,000 plug-in vehicles. So far Tesla is the only car company that has reached this figure but GM and Nissan are coming very close to this target.
Tesla recently announced that you will still be able to get the full tax credit if you order a Model 3 by the end of November. After that date the car will not be delivered until January 2019 when the tax credit will fall to $3,750. For cars delivered after June 30, 2019 the tax credit will be just $1,875 and will phase out completely starting January 1, 2019.
Both GM and Nissan are expected to reach the 200,000 car mark early next year with the tax credit phasing out some time in the first half of 2020.
The EV Drive Coalition is a group of 15 entities that are working together to help expand Electric Vehicles in the US. Along with GM, Nissan, and Tesla the group also consists of makers of EV charging equipment such as EVGo and Chargepoint and other groups like Plug-in America, the Electric Automobile Association, and Calstart. This group is lobbying for the Electric Vehicle Tax credit to be extended as they consider that the EV Market "is far from fully mature".
Opposing the EV tax credit is the American Energy Alliance which is funded by the fossil fuel industry. They sent a letter to Representative Ken Brady that opens with "We, the undersigned organizations, write to strongly object to any effort to expand the electric vehicle tax credit in any way." In the letter they bring out some frequently debunked ideas like EVs not being cleaner that current gas vehicles. They also take a shot at subsidies for wind energy and state that these subsidies can become "institutionalized and never repealed". I noticed that they don't mention the massive subsidies that the fossil fuel industry have been receiving for decades even while these companies are some of the most profitable on the planet.
Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) has introduced a bill into the Senate that is designed to kill the EV tax credit. The text of the Bill, named the "Fairness for Every Driver Act", is not currently available to the public but it appears that the bill calls for an immediate end to the tax credit for plug-in vehicles and for a new tax on these vehicles to cover the revenue normally raised by the Federal gas tax. This is the second time that the Republicans have tried to kill the EV tax credit.
In the House things are a little different. Congressman Peter Welch (D-VT) has introduced a bill, H.R.6274 that would remove the 200,000 cap and extend the tax credit until December 31, 2028.
The Tax credit is a great thing to have if we are going to make the switch from gas to electric cars in a timeframe that would help reduce the impact of global warming and cut down the serious health effects that are a direct result of burning fossil fuels.
After the midterm elections, with Democrats in control of the House and Republicans expanding their hold over the Senate, I don't expect either of these two bills to go very far. The thing that is most likely to spur action is for people to write to their congressman or Senator and let them know that they support expanding the EV tax credit.
Sunday Nov 11, 2018 California Burns Again On Saturday Afternoon I visited Century Shopping Center and as I was walking around the mall I began to smell smoke. It got worse as time passed until the sky became a brownish gray color and the air became difficult to breath. What I was smelling was smoke coming from the Woolsey fire that is burning across parts of Ventura and LA Counties.
The Woolsey fire has burned over 83,000 acres, destroyed at least 177 properties, and has probably taken at least 2 lives. President Trump, never passing up a chance to make political points, has blamed the high incidence of wild fires in California on miss-management of forests but as usual he is jumping the gun without getting all the facts. The truth is that the area being burned by the Woolsey fire isn't forest at all but is mostly covered in brush and grass. The real problem here is the changing climate.
California is going through a pretty long drought but last year, while rainfall was still a tad below normal, there was enough to drive lots of plant growth out in the wilds. Then we had the long hot summer. It wasn't as dry as last year but it was still very dry. This dries out all the vegetation that grew in the spring after the relatively wet winter. Now along comes the Santa Ana winds. Santa Ana winds blow from the North East and push air from the high desert. As this air flows down the hills into the LA basin it compresses and warms up while the it also gets very dry. On Friday the temperature in the burn area was in the mid 80s with relative humidity down around 5% which means almost no water in the air at all.
Under these weather conditions all it takes is a spark near the tinder dry grass and you have a brush fire. To make matters worse the dry ground cover sends embers into the air causing the fire to do what is called spotting, where a spots of vegetation burst into flames in random positions, making the fire very difficult to contain. The 40mph winds push the fire along very quickly and also make it impossible to fight the fire from the air using either fixed wing airplanes or helicopters.
The winds made the fires pretty unstoppable. The area of the burn does have fire roads cut into it which are intended to act as fire breaks but the fire quickly jumped those. As the fire raced toward the sea it jumped the Ventura freeway which at this point has 5 lanes plus 2 shoulders in each direction so it is a pretty wide barrier to cross. Pushing on it managed to jump Mulholland highway and Pacific Coast highway also. In all 200,000 people had to be evacuated from their homes., Two bodies have been found in a burned out car on Mulholland but this is still being investigated to see if their deaths are related to the fire.
Fortunately overnight the Santa Ana winds died down and early on Saturday the wind direction switched from offshore to onshore. The smoke, that was being pushed out to sea, was being pushed back into the LA basin. This change of wind was really good news. It stopped the fire from advancing leaving the burn area at 83,275 acres (about 130 square miles). This allowed the fire fighters to get about 10% containment on the fire The bad news is that the Santa Ana winds returned early this morning with winds gusting up to 30 mph. These windy, dry conditions are expected to hang around until Tuesday.
Not far way in Ventura County, near the city of Camarillo, the Hill fire also continues to burn. This fire has scorched 4,531 acres (about 7 square miles) and has destroyed 2 structures. Fortunately this fire has not caused any fatalities.
In Northern California a third fire, known as the Camp Fire, has also burned a large area of Butte County and has wiped out the town of Paradise. This fire has been more deadly that the Woodley fire with as many as 23 people have lost their lives. As of this morning it had charred 109,000 acres (about 170 square miles) and 6,513 structures have been destroyed. Smoke from the fire reached as far as San Francisco causing school closures because of air quality that was termed "worse that Beijing".
Having three large fires burning at the same time means that fire crews are spread out across the three fires. The crews fighting the Camp fire cannot get help from fire departments in Southern California as they are busy with the Woolsey and Hill fires. They are also not available to swing down into Southern California to help out there. This just means that the crews at all three fires are short handed making it more difficult to fight each of these blazes.
There seems to be little doubt that the increase in the frequency and strength of wildfires in California over the last 10 years has been driven by global warming. The wildfires are coming more frequently and are getting larger. It is perhaps time that the American People sit up and take notice. Over the last few years we seem to have just staggered from one disaster to the next with hurricanes, floods, and wildfires. At the same time Washington State residents just rejected a ballot measure that would have introduced a carbon tax in the state showing that the average American citizen are looking to the Federal Government to take action.
It seems time that we step up to the plate and start to get serious about reducing the amount of carbon we push into the air. How about making a new years resolution to cut your carbon footprint in 2019. Better still start cutting your carbon footprint today.
Sunday November 4, 2018 eBay Search Tips Over the last couple of years, changes in the way that eBay does searching has been getting harder and harder for me. Finally in mid October I took the very difficult decision to stop updating my eBay Classifieds page with new listings. Since I am no longer listing sales on eBay I decided to give some tips from what I have learned over the years to help people search for themselves.
I have toyed with the idea of shutting down my eBay classifieds page for some time now but have managed to find a way around whatever hair-brained changes eBay came up with, but in early October they made a change that I couldn't get around. My searches were based on using history so I could see where I left off last time and also see which vehicles I had already viewed and listed. For some reason, I suspect because eBay now generates a different URL on each search, my browser no longer registers that I have viewed a listing before.
I've had this happen with browser bugs in the past but usually clearing cache stops the problem - it didn't this time. This has always been browser specific but in this case I get the same results no matter if I use Microsoft Edge, Firefox, or Chrome. I would spend so much time viewing listings I had already seen that I wasn't getting new listings into the web page fast enough. Also the sheer volume of plug-in cars for sale has increased so much in recent years, and there has been a trend towards shorter listing, so I was having problems keeping up anyway. After the update on October 12, I stopped updated these listings. So far I have only had one note from one of my readers asking me to re-instate the listings which makes me suspect that they were not being used that much anyway.
Over the years I have learned a few things about using eBay so I thought I would pass along a few tips. It seems like eBay makes money on parts rather than the sale of vehicles so the changes that they have been making has been for the seller to blast more and more listings for parts and accessories into eBay as quickly as possible..
If you want to search for plug-in cars you can go to eBay Motors. Ignore the search box at the top of the page as this searches all of eBay motors so any search will probably get drowned by the parts sellers making any vehicles difficult to find. Below this is a box for parts and accessories but below that is a box that says search for vehicles. This search area has dropdowns for make and model, and you can also select options to search near your zip code and to search used cars, new cars, or both.
Searching is easy if you know what you are looking for. If you want to buy a Nissan Leaf just select Nissan from the dropdown that defaults to "All Makes" and select Leaf from the dropdown that defaults to "All Models". Most models are listed here but sometimes cars that are a plug-in variant of a regular gas model are not listed. For example if you select Fiat you will find models 500, 500L,and 500X but not the 500e. If you don't find the car model use some other model, in the example I would select Fiat 500, then click on Find Vehicle. This puts you into the search category "Cars and Trucks" that is not available on the dropdown in the search bar at the top of page.
Once you are in "Cars and Trucks" you can pretty much search for any make and model without getting all the parts seller's listings. One more tip when using this way to search. Sometimes people do not list vehicles correctly. At the bottom of the search results eBay provides a list of vehicles matching fewer words. In the Fiat 500e search I can find cars listed as "Fiat 500 Battery Electric" and "Fiat 500" Electric among the cars listed in this group.
The Find a Vehicle section has two other tabs, one for Motorcycles and one for Other Vehicles. These also don't have ntries for all makes and models. The motorcycle dropdown is useful for Zero motorcycles but all the others I have tried actually put me into a parts search but that may be because there have been no vehicles found. For some strange reason the Scooters and Mopeds are listed under the Other Vehicles selection. The Other Vehicles selection also has an entry for Golf Carts which is a good place to find NEVs. One word of caution, if your search doesn't find anything the Category changes to "All Categories" and you have to go back and change it to "Golf Cars" to search for another NEV maker.
If you have to use the main search bar then remember that you can eliminate items from your search by using a "-" in front of the word you want to eliminate. For example Sparrow -Mirror will search for the Sparrow 3-wheel EV but eliminate listings for Sparrow Mirror. 3-Wheel vehicles seem to be a hole in the eBay search entity. They should be listed under either the Motor Cycles or Other Vehicles searches but I haven't found them so far.
Advanced search is another option that provides a couple of interesting ways to eliminate the parts sellers. The first way is to get rid of those foreign sellers such as the ones located in China or Indonesia. First enter your search parameters and click on the "Search" button. When the search results appear click on "Advanced" in the top right hand corner of the screen. The advance screen will come up and should already be populated with your search terms and excluded words. Scroll down the screen until you find the heading "Location", then click on one of the radio buttons such as "Located in". With United States selected in the dropdown you will now only see listings that are located in the USA. There is also an option to pick listings located within a certain number of miles from your location but since I am always searching nationwide I have never tried this option.
Another way to get rid of those pesky parts sellers, some of whom blast as many as a thousand listings onto eBay within a few minutes, is to exclude them. Below the Location Radio Buttons is a section called "Sellers". In this box you can include a specific seller in your list. I have never found this to work well but if you check the box entitled "Only show items from" then under 'Specific Sellers" use the dropdown to change the entry from "Include" to "Exclude". Now you can enter the eBay Id for any eBay seller to exclude them from your search. Technically you can enter 10 sellers, separated by commas, in this list but in reality I have been able to include many more entries. One issue here is that should a seller quit eBay you get an error saying one of the Id's does not exist. The Ever helpful eBay gives you this message but does not tell you which id it is so then you have to use trial and error to figure that out. On my searches this can often take as long as half an hour.
I hope these tips will be useful. If you have any other tips that will help people please send them via the Comment link below and I will post them. Good look finding a suitable Plug-in Vehicle.
Sunday October 28, 2018 Renewable and Energy Poverty I was reading some articles about global warming this week and came across an article about a group called "The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation". The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation is a Christian based group that appears to be a big supporter of climate change denial.
They are a proponent of Intelligent
design and promote the idea that God would not develop a world that was so
fragile that humans could impact it in any way. They don't seem to
consider that the carbon we are now digging up and putting back into the
atmosphere was buried deep underground where humans should not have been able to
get to it.
According to Desmogblog part of their platform states We deny that alternative, renewable fuels can, with present or near-term technology, replace fossil and nuclear fuels, either wholly or in significant part, to provide the abundant, affordable energy necessary to sustain prosperous economies or overcome poverty. They say that the only way to overcome energy poverty is for developing nations to expand energy availability by burning fossil fuels.
They are not alone in this
sentiment, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, speaking at a recent World Bank Meeting
in Bali said "African leaders have approached me and said that they need more
support to provide baseload power in their countries." These African
leaders are telling him it is wrong for institutions like the World Bank to tell
them they cannot use fossil fuels for baseload electricity. The World Bank
will no longer fund energy projects based on coal and will stop funding oil and
gas based projects starting in 2019.
Meanwhile some countries are starting to take action to eliminate energy poverty without resorting to fossil fuels.
On the edge of the Sahara Desert in Morocco the third phase of the world's largest solar power plant is about to go live. Noor III will add an additional 150MW of capacity to the plant. When the final phase, phase IV, goes live the plant will produce a total of 580MW at peak. This is also a thermal solar plant, which uses mirrors to heat up salts and this heat can then turn water into steam to fire up a turbine to generate electricity. The thermal power station has an advantage over solar panels as the heat stored in the salts can continue to create steam long after the sun has set. The Noor plant is designed to continue producing electricity for up to 7.5 hours after the sun has gone down.
One of the issue with increasing base load is that remote villages are often too far away from the grid so extending the grid to these villages becomes prohibitively expensive. India claims to have connected all of its villages to the grid but there are still over a million people in India who do not have access to electricity. About two thirds of these people will eventually be connected to the grid but the other third will be provided electricity through micro-grids. These micro-grids will provide electricity where it is not currently economical to provide grid connection.
While micro-grids are often based on solar panels many are based on diesel which has the advantage of providing electricity when renewable generation is not available. However diesel engines also have their problems.
In Mashaba, a small village in southern Zimbabwe, they used to irrigate their fields using diesel pumps. The villagers often had to travel more than 100 kilometers just to buy diesel fuel to keep the pumps running. The diesel pumps often broke down, and as everyone who drives an ICE car knows, diesel engines require regular maintenance like oil changes to keep them running. The diesel pumps were replaced by electric pumps fed by a micro-grid based on a 99KW solar array. The Micro-grid also provided power for two business centers, a school, and a clinic. Farm productivity is up, especially during times of drought which are a regular occurrence there, The villagers also are no longer burdened with the cost of fuel and maintenance for the diesel pumps.
With the cost of solar now falling below the cost of fossil fuels, it seems that we should be helping developing countries to eliminate energy poverty using renewable energy rather than encouraging them to make the same mistakes that we, in the developed world, are now trying to undo. Solar is not the only option either, there are a lot of additional sources of renewable energy like wind, tide, small hydro, and geothermal energy that may be available in developing nations.
Grid level energy storage is key to the use of renewable energy so the next big challenge is to find low cost ways to store energy enough to keep the grid running smoothly as energy generation fluctuates. Such energy storage is going to make energy grids, be they micro grids or national grids, more reliable with less issues like voltage fluctuation. The US should be a leader in this technology but I fear that the current trend toward favoring fossil fuels will cede leadership to countries like China and India.
Sunday October 21, 2018 Jaguar i-Pace It has been a while since I was able to list a delivery of the first fully electric vehicle from a major OEM. This week we saw Jaguar make the very first delivery in the US of the much anticipated i-Pace to a retail customer.
Jaguar announced that on October 15 they had made the first delivery of an i-Pace. The lucky customer was Mark Pascarella, who lives in Lakewood Ranch, FL. The Pascarella family has 6 members and they might be termed a Jaguar family as they already have 6 Jaguars in the family fleet including an F-Pace. I am not surprised that this family chose the i-Pace over a Tesla, they are clearly big Jaguar fans, but I am surprised that Jaguar chose to deliver the first car in Florida rather than in California or one of the other ZEV states as is normal with most new car releases.
The i-Pace itself is one of a growing number of all electric crossover vehicles that will be arriving from some of the major OEMs over the next two years.
It comes with a 90 kWh battery pack that gives it an EPA estimated range of 234 miles on a charge, a little bit less than the 240 miles per charge estimate given by Jaguar before EPA testing. To put this in context, the Tesla Model X 75D with a 75 kWh battery pack gets an EPA range estimated range of 238 miles.
The i-Pace will be available in three trim levels all based on the EV400 drive train Along with the 90 kWh battery pack this also includes dual electric motors, one driving each axle to give the car 4 wheel drive. These two motors put out a combined 394-hp, giving the car a 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 124 mph.
The built in charger offers charging rates of up to 6.4 kw which translated to a full charge from 0 in about 12.9 hours using a level 2 charger. It also comes with 50 kw DC fast charging which will allow the car to get 80% charge in 85 minutes. There are two levels of regenerative braking with the highest level offering 0.2 g of braking when you take your foot of the accelerator pedal. Touching the brakes can increase the regen to 0.4 g before the friction brakes kick in.
The i-Pace will seat 5 comfortably and offers a 25.3 cubic feet of cargo space. Folding down the rear seats increases cargo space to 51 cubic feet. For comparison the Model X offers 26 cubic feet of cargo space. The big difference is when the you get a model X with fold down seats in the second row, which ups the cargo capacity to a whopping 88 cubic feet.
The i-Pace comes at a starting price of $69,500 for the i-Pace S going up to a base price of $80,500 for the top of the line HSE.
Some automotive writers have branded the i-Pace as a Tesla killer but that seems unlikely given the market share that Tesla has at the moment. However, as Motor Authority said of the availability of the i-Pace, "that's a very good thing, as the competition will breed better vehicles, faster tech improvements, and more choices for the consumer". I have my doubts that Jaguar is going to make any serious dent in sales of the Model X but it does give an alternative for those who just don't like the Tesla. I will be watching sales of the vehicle closely to see if Jaguar really makes this car available in numbers here in the US.
Sunday October 14, 2018 2018 Santa Monica Alt Fuel Expo In recent years Santa Monica has hosted its annual Alt Fuel Vehicle Expo as part of Drive Electric Week but this year they went back to running the Expo in October. I have to say that this year the event was the worst I have ever attended and I think I have only missed one year since they started these events on third street promenade back in the late 1990s.
Things started out badly when I arrived at the chargers in Santa Monica Place and found two available. I pulled into one but when I ran my Chargepoint card I got a red light and a message saying the charger had been disabled by the owner. A volt pulled into the other charger spot and the driver was getting the same message at that charger. It seems odd that the City of Santa Monica would shut down chargers when they are hosting an alternative fuel vehicle expo. After some hunting around I did find a charger in the 2nd street parking structure so I was able to get enough electrons to make it home on electric power.
The exposition itself was a lot smaller than in recent years. Instead of the usual display in the Civic Center the static displays were set up in the small area of grass out front. There they had some interesting vehicles there including a Hyundai Tucson fuel cell vehicle. They also had three new BEVs on display.
The first two were from Electra Meccanica, a Canadian company based out of Vancouver, BC. They had their Solo, a single seat three wheel electric vehicle. The Solo is rated at 100 miles from a full charge of its 17.3 KWHr Lithium-ion battery pack. It can hit 82 mph so it can be used on the freeway. Its base price is only $15,500 and in most states it will be registered as a motorcycle. They also had the eRoadster which is a Porsche 356 Speedster replica. It is driven by a 50 KWhr lithium battery pack that they say provides a range of 155 miles on a 9 hour charge. It also offers a 0-60 time of 6 seconds and costs $124,900.
The other EV on display came from Audi who were showing the e-Tron for the first time in the US. The e-Tron is one of a growing number of all electric crossover vehicles that are beginning to arrive in US dealerships. Apart from the name confusion with the A3 e-Tron which is a hachback PHEV, the e-Tron is a fully electric 5 seat crossover. It has a 95 KWhr battery pack, but so far Audi has not given a range for this vehicle as the official EPA numbers are not likely to be available until closer to delivery. One thing Audi is giving out is the ability to fast charge at 150 KW DC. This is faster than the competition, at least for now, and should allow for an 80% charge in 30 minutes. Top speed is rated at 124mph with a 0-60 time of 5.5 seconds. Base price for the e-Tron is $74,800 with deliveries expected to start early in second quarter of 2019.
Reservations are now being taken for both the Solo and the Audi e-Tron
After checking out the fixed exhibit I wanted to stop off at the bathroom before trying the ride and drive. The bathrooms are in the Civic Center but there was a guard stationed at the entrance who would not allow anyone in. There was supposed to be a portable restroom out by the ride and drive but it looked like someone had forgotten to bring it in; at least I couldn't find it. There was a Tesla Model 3 parked in that area as a static display but they are becoming a pretty common sight on the streets around here so it wasn't getting much attention.
There were only 3 participants in the ride and drive while I was there. Toyota, Honda, and Nissan. Toyota was giving test rides in the Mirai but I've driven one before. The Toyota vehicle I was interested in, the Prius Prime, was not there. So far I haven't seen Toyota giving test drives for the Prime even though it is one of the best selling plug-ins in the country. Nissan was also there with the Leaf but I have already driven one of those as well, so I decided to pass on that. This left my only choice as Honda.
Honda had the Accord Hybrid and the Clarity PHEV to test drive. I have been thinking about the Clarity PHEV as an eventual replacement for my Prius Plug-in so I jumped at the chance for a test drive. The drive itself is a short loop perhaps about half a mile in length. The car was a pleasure to drive. I started out in eco mode then switched to sport mode while driving along Main Street. There was a notable surge in the car as the mode changed. When hitting the accelerator in Sport mode the car is quite spritely but I was happy with Eco mode so quickly switched back The car is quite luxurious and one feature I liked was the camera that sent an image to the center screen as I flipped on the turn signal. I'm sure this is a feature for the top of the line model but still it was nice to have. It proved its worth as I made the turn from Main onto Olympic as there were three Bird scooter riders in the bike lane and it enabled me to see them quite clearly and let them pass before starting my turn.
The Honda plug-in hybrid has an all electric range of 46 miles from a 17 KWHr Lithium-Ion battery. Price for the base model starts at $33,400 before tax incentives. One of the nicest features on this car is the 7.4 KW charger that allows a charge rate of up to 25 miles per hour.
I got back to the ride and drive area and decided it was time to start for home. As I was leaving I noticed that BMW was showing up in an i3. There was supposed to be an i8 Roadster in the ride and drive too but I wasn't going to wait around on the off chance it would show up soon.
I got back to my car and it still hadn't finished charging so I grabbed a coffee and waited until it was topped up and ready to go. I'm not sure if it was the threat of rain in the forecast, or the fact that plug-in cars have gone mainstream, but the magic had gone from the Santa Monica Alt Fuel Vehicle Expo, at least for this year. Perhaps next year will be better.
Sunday October 7, 2018 2018 Q3 Sales Overview The third quarter of 2018 saw US sales of 110,483 cars. This is a huge increase in sales over the 69,420 cars sold in the second quarter. This sales total does not including the sales of some smaller brands like Workhorse, Karma, and Farrari that sell in such small quantities that they don't appear on the radar, and also does not include sales of NEVs or electric motorcycles. Sales during the quarter were dominated by the Tesla Model 3 which was the top selling car in all three months.
To put this is perspective, sales in the third quarter of 2018 were greater than sales for the whole of 2013 which was 97,507 cars. Total EV sales since InsideEVs started tracking them in 2010 topped 1 million cars during September.
Like it has been for year sales have been dominated by Tesla especially the Model 3. In total InsideEVs estimated Tesla sold 69,929 cars in the US during the quarter. In September the Model 3 outsold the Toyota Corolla taking the 4th place for sedan sales in the US after the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, and Honda Civic.
Excluding the 3 Tesla models only 3 other plug-in models sold over 2,000 in a month, the Prius Prime in August and September, and both the Chevy Volt and Honda Clarity PHEV in September. The Prius Prime continues to do well and has held its place in the top 4 for most of this year and Q3 was no exception. Sales of the Honda Clarity Plug-in continue to do well and this model is likely to challenge the Prius Prime in the coming months.
The Chevy Bolt and Nissan Leaf have been a bit of a disappointment with sales trading in the 1,100 to 1,600 range over most of the year and neither managed to break out of that range in Q3. Nissan is expected to launch it's larger battery option later this year and I think that this may spur sales for next year.
The phase-out of some existing EVs is almost complete Mercedes-Benz sold just 1 B250e in the third quarter. Ford sold 20 C-Max Energi in the quarter. Ford had a pretty bad Q3 for plug-in sales with sales of only 57 ford Focus EVs mostly in July. Only the Fusion Energi did Ok but still only managed to hit 1,398 for the quarter. It seems like the older short range EVs are beginning to loose traction and people look for those with longer range. The Fiat 500e, Honda Clarity EV, and VW e-Golf all selling in much smaller numbers than in the past.
I have been tracking Fuel Cell vehicles over the last few years and these continue to sell in small numbers. I haven't been able to track sales as Honda and Hyundai don't break out sales of these vehicles separately and InsideEVs, who's estimates I use for this report because they have always proved to be pretty accurate, hasn't been estimating fuel cell vehicle sales numbers.
All in All Q3 sales saw Tesla moving into high volume production of the Model 3 and by September appear to have exceeded a build rate of 5,000 per week. The numbers quoted above are US sales only and Tesla is believed to have delivered an additional 2,000 cars in Canada in September. This leaves us with some interesting questions.
What will Q4 be like? Typically Q4 sales are the highest of the year as people rush to lock in the Federal tax credit before the end of the year so they can take it on their next tax return. This year we have the added issue that tax credits for Tesla drop in half starting January 1 so people are going to want to get them delivered before that date or loose a big chunk of the credit. What will the next big seller be? With some new fully electric cars with ranges above 200 miles coming out soon, including the Jaguar i-Pace and Hyundai Kona, along with longer range versions of the Nissan Leaf and BMW i3, it remains to be seen if any of these take off and sell in numbers approaching the Model 3, or will we need to wait for the Model Y or the Tesla Pickup.
In any event Q4 is going to be an exciting time for electric cars and I full expect records to continue to fall.
Sunday September 30, 2018 What Can I Do To Stop Global Warming? Last week I saw a Question on Quora asking "What can I do to stop global warming". The answers varied widely and many have been discussed in previous blogs. One thing really caught my attention though; voting.
Right now here in the USA we are being governed by a group of people who are putting short term profit ahead of long term needs. Many of our state and national representatives are working to set aside any legislation that would curb the use of fossil fuels even with the knowledge that such actions will more than likely lead to a catastrophic future. A recent report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) used the assumption that on our current course we are set for an increase of global temperature of four degrees Centigrade (seven degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100. They then justified rolling back the CAFE standard for light duty trucks, set to go in affect in 2020, as this would do little to stem the rise in temperature.
So while on an individual level we can change our light bulbs to LED, eat less meat, buy a car that gets better gas mileage, walk, bike, use public transport, buy renewable energy, and do all the other things that help reduce our individual carbon footprint, there is one thing that we can use to shape policy in the coming years - the vote.
The US is a representative democracy. That means that we don't go out and vote on the day to day things that are needed to manage the country, such as providing for the national defense or managing the nations infrastructure. Who would have time to spend studying all the changes in the law at Municipal, State and Federal levels. What we do instead is elect representatives who will do this for us. At the Federal level each district elects a representative to Congress every 2 years. In addition each State elects two members to the senate for 6 years terms. Every 4 years we also elect a president who, as we have seen on numerous occasions over the past two decades, is elected dependent on the number of electoral collage votes that they get, not the popular vote, so they are in effect elected by the States not by the populous.
This system of government is and excellent form of democracy that allows the governed to have some control over those governing. The problem is that many people don't exercise their right to vote or tend to vote on party lines not for people who would best represent their views. There are some people who do register as independents and may vote for Republicans or Democrats on different election cycles, and there are those who vote for people in different parties within the same election, but the vast majority of people vote on a strictly party line or just don't vote rather than vote against their party.
Now there is nothing wrong with abstaining if there is not a candidate than you find suitable to represent you but I always say that if you can vote and do not then don't complain about your representative.
The result of voting along party lines is that the same old people keep getting elected over and over again. So at the next election ask yourself, what is this person going to do about global warming. Better still, ask them their views on global warming and see if their response matches your views. If that person thinks global warming is a hoax, or just doesn't exist, then consider voting against that person. There is nothing that is going to spur action against global warming faster than the person realizing that if they don't take it seriously then are going to be out of a job.
Of course if you think a big tax cut is more important than securing your children's and grand children's futures then vote how you see fit. It's your choice but your vote is your say in the future of the country so use it wisely.
Sunday September 23, 2018 Electric Cargo Movers The VW Dieselgate scandal had a very big impact on the battle to clean up our air. It made many people realize that diesel was not a clean technology; that clean diesel was an oxymoron. The result is that instead of embracing diesel governments around the world, especially in Europe, are now looking to ban it altogether. Diesel trucks are the mainstay of cargo handling and so alternatives have to be found.
The city of Los Angeles was
somewhat of a leader here. They began studying alternatives to diesel for
their bus fleet in the 1970s and in the 1990s they began to convert the entire
fleet to Compressed Natural Gas, Santa Monica also converted their fleet
of buses at the same time. CNG is much cleaner than Diesel but does little
to reduce the amount of CO2 being pumped into the air. Los Angeles is
already looking to replace these busses with electric busses over the next few
In the first phase of electric vehicles brought on by the California ZEV mandate GM and Ford both rolled out a pick-up truck as one of their vehicles. The Chevy S10E and Ford Range EV were both little more than conversions of existing pickup truck models but they were pretty popular with municipalities. In Europe both Renault and Peugeot/Citron built electric vans based on existing gas models. While GM and Ford abandoned their pickups the European manufacturers continued to produce and sell their vans even after their sedan offerings were withdrawn.
After the Tesla Roadster launched
the second round of EV building Ford had Azure Dynamics build an electric
version of their Transit Connect van which went on Sale in 2011. It was
expensive, did not sell well, and was eventually abandoned in favor of the
plug-in versions of Focus, Fusion, and C-Max sedans.
British electric vehicle maker Smith established a presence here in the US with a couple of local delivery truck models and sold some to companies like Staples. Smith eventually went out of business and the sale of these trucks came to an end. In Europe, where small vans are more common, Renault continued to sell an electric version of their Kangoo van and Peugeot also sold a small number of electric versions of the Partner and Berlingo vans. Nissan also entered the field with an electric version of its popular NV200 van. They have just launched an updated version of this Van with a range of over 100 miles and sales are already up 148% this year. Tesla says it is working on an electric pick-up truck but so far there is no indication about when this will be available for sale.
In the US two companies have been working on the van/pickup truck space vacated by the major manufacturers. Via Motors, who make a plug-in hybrid van and pickup truck based on gliders from GM, and Workhorse, who have a line of plug-in Pickup trucks, have both seen some sales in the fleet market but can't produce in the volumes required to reach economies of scale that bring down costs low enough for non-fleet buyers. Both have sold vehicles but both have also been very quite about just how many vehicles they have sold.
Other companies have also seen the light and have been working on electric trucks for some time now. The electric semi truck market really came into focus when Tesla announced the Tesla Semi. They didn't just have a mockup concept vehicle but had actual running vehicles at the reveal event, and since then the semi has been spotted on several occasions being tested on the open road and at Tesla Supercharger sites.
Other manufactures are sitting up and taking notice, revealing vehicles that were already in development at the time of the Tesla announcement and stating to get them production ready. We have seen medium duty trucks and garbage trucks from Volvo and semi trucks from Mercedes-Benz, Cummings, VW and Freightliner. There are also a few startups that have shown products in various stages of production readiness such as Nikola, Embark, Otto, Waymo and PACCAR.
Some of these appear to be focused on autonomous vehicles and even Volvo just showed a semi truck with no cab so it cannot be driven by a human driver. Most of these are still in the early stages of development but things are moving fast in the autonomous vehicle space so we may see these vehicles on the road, at least in testing, in the near future.
Japanese and Korean companies seem to be placing their money on hydrogen still. Hyundai have just announced that they are building a fleet of 1,000 fuel cell powered trucks that will begin operating in Switzerland starting next year. Toyota have also been testing a prototype fuel cell truck around the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles here in Southern California.
It seems to me that Tesla has the jump on most of the competition as they already have a network of fast charging stations set up that can handle the needs of their semi trucks allowing them to do long haul service, assuming they can begin manufacture of these ahead of the competition. Most of the other manufacturers will need to build out infrastructure to make their vehicles work for long haul jobs. The exception is Volvo which should be able to find a ready market for their medium duty trucks and garbage trucks. I expect to see the move from diesel to electric begin to accelerate over the next few years.
Sunday August 12, 2018 Hurricane Florence It is just a little over a year ago that Hurricane Harvey stalled along the Texas coastline lashing the area from Houston as far west as Louisiana with massive amounts of rain. Now North and South Carolina are witnessing a similar situation after Hurricane Florence make landfall close to Wilmington, NC.
Almost immediately after Florence made landfall one of the chief climate denier, Dr. Roy Spencer, was featured in an Op-Ed in USA today. He actually used the term that many have used when the climate deniers try to point to a single weather event as proof that global warming doesn't exist; "It's just weather". Following the usual pattern this article will get plastered across the right wing media over the next few days to increase its impact. It has already shown up in the Daily Caller.
In the article he goes back to past history to try and show that this event is not that unusual. He looked at how there was a long pause from 2006 until 2017 when mainland USA did not see any major hurricanes making landfall. His source for this appears to be an article in the Dayton Daily News. The article seems to have ignored Hurricane Dolly that came ashore in Texas in 2008. It also ignored those hurricanes that weakened to a tropical storm before coming ashore in the USA.
First let me say that in some respects Dr. Spencer is correct, in all probability hurricane Florence was not caused by global warming. In any event, such causation would no doubt be almost impossible to prove conclusively. That doesn't mean that global warming didn't magnify the effects of the storm.
Florence was unusual in several ways.
First it started out off the coast of Africa but it didn't follow the normal storm track for such storms which tend to move further north. Hurricane Helena is expected to take this route moving into cooler waters to the north and eventually hitting Western Europe. Hurricane Isaac is also out in the Atlantic and it too is tracking on a more southerly path and looks like making landfall in the Caribbean.
Second the storm went from a tropical storm to a category 4 hurricane very quickly which is something we also saw with Harvey last year. Unlike Harvey the storm did weaken as it approached land, something most hurricanes do, so by the time it made landfall it had dropped from a strong category 4 hurricane to a weak category 1 hurricane.
Third the sheer size of the storm
was unusual. The storm was about 370 miles wide and Astronauts on
the international space station reported that they had to use an extreme wide
angle lens to get a full picture of the storm from the international space
station. The eye of the storm was about 25 miles wide.
The storm was extremely slow moving. It is currently moving west from the coast at just 6mph. The result of this is similar to what happened with Harvey, the area under the hurricane is being deluged by rain. It is probably not doing to dump as much rain as Harvey did but some places have received as much as 24 inches and the rain continues to fall as the storm is still pulling water from the ocean.
What can we say about the amount that global warming impacted hurricane Florence?
Climate scientists will be doing attribution analysis on this storm over the next few weeks and they will be determining what the probability was that global warming made this storm more severe than it would have been, but we have enough information to show what was likely impacted by a warming climate.
Florence and Isaac, the storm following it across the Atlantic. took a more southerly route than normal because there was a huge ridge of high pressure stationary over the North Atlantic. This high pressure is a result of warmer temperatures in the Arctic which caused the polar jet stream to move north. This caused a ridge of high pressure to stall over the North Atlantic and was also causal in the unusually hot summer experienced in Europe and North America.
It has been known for a long time that warmer air can hold more water so as the atmosphere heats up then it holds more water which means that rain levels can increase. For every increase of 1 degree C the atmosphere can hold about 7% more moisture. Storms in general have been getting slower over the last 70 years and this too has been shown to be a result of global warming. The slower storm and the ability of a warming atmosphere to hold more water means that storms like Florence and Harvey dump more rain when they make landfall.
While absolute causation of an event like Hurricane Florence to global warming is impossible it is quite clear that the odds are good that climate change did contribute to both the strength, and damage done by this storm. The last report I saw listed the death toll at 14 and thousands more have experience badly damaged homes and property due to the sever flooding caused by this storm.
Because of the severity of Florence we have almost forgotten that Typhoon Mangkhut just made landfall in China after killing 64 people as it passed over the Island of Luzon in the Philippines. Hawaii was also hit this past week as tropical storm Olivia made landfall on Maui and caused heave rain, flooding some roads. It also caused power loss on Oahu and did some damage on the the big island.
We have to realize that we causing a real problem by dumping billions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere and make the move to renewable energy and electric transportation as quickly as possible. Otherwise we we most likely see much more severe storms in the future as the climate continues to warm.
Sunday September 9, 2018 Tesla Killers It will come as no surprise that some people have been trying to manipulate the media to try and bring down Tesla. There have been several articles lately that provide insight into the way that news is being manipulated, especially through social media, to spread bad news about a company that is providing the US with both technological leadership and employing a large number of US workers. One of the latest moves is to dub some of the new range of electric cars coming out as "Tesla Killers".
In particular there are two new electric SUVs that are either just going on sale or have been recently announced that are both being given this lofty title; the Jaguar i-Pace and the Mercedes-Benz EQC.
The Jaguar i-Pace went on sale in the UK recently and Prince Charles was one of its first customers. The i-Pace has been getting very good press and does appear to be a pretty good electric vehicle. It comes with a 90 KWh lithium ion battery pack that offers a range of about 240 miles. It has electric motors driving both the front and rear wheels that have a combined 394 HP giving it a 0-60 speed of about 4.5 seconds.
When it becomes available in the US later this year the i-Pace will come with a starting price of $70,495 which is quite a bit cheaper than the $80,700 starting price of the Tesla Model X. This might look like a true Tesla killer but in reality the i-Pace is quite a bit smaller than the Model X. Auto-blog actually chose to compare it to the Tesla Model 3 which offers a 310 mile range for prices starting around $60,000. When the base version of the Model 3 comes available either later this year or early next year it will offer range comparable to the i-Pace at a starting cost below $40,000.
The other car that is being sung as a Tesla killer, the Mercedes-Benz EQC, is even more of a puzzle as it won't actually be available until 2020. Given that this is just a concept car it is difficult to get an idea of the specs on the final production vehicle but since the car is expected to hit the US in 2020 we can pretty much bank on the concept car shown as being very close to production ready.
The EQC is expected to come with a 80 KWH lithium ion battery pack that Mercedes-Benz quotes as offering a range of around 279 Miles. Of course this is going to be based on the European test cycle which always gives values much higher than what it can achieve in real world driving. In reality, the EPA range is expected to be more like 220 miles, which would be disappointing compared with the Model X and more in line with the Model 3 base version. Like the i-Pace the EQC will also be a dual motor AWD system offering a total of 402 hp and a 0-60 time of 4.9 seconds.
I don't see either of these cars being a threat to either the Model X or the Model 3 although both could potentially take a bite out of Model Y sales but since we don't yet now the specs or pricing for the Model Y that's a hard call to make. I actually see these two cars as taking a bite out sales of more conventional cars in the luxury car space.
Right now Tesla continues to turn out cars at an ever increasing rate. Inside EV, who's estimates have proved to be very accurate over the years, estimates that in July Tesla sold an amazing 14,250 Model 3s in the US. In August they blew that number out of the water with a whopping 17,800 Model 3s. In August the second and third best selling plug-in vehicles were the Model X and Model S in that order. We are now waiting for the end of September to see how many Model 3s were sold in the quarter and also if Tesla managed to turn a profit for the quarter.
Tesla is not resting on its laurels either. They have already started taking orders for the Semi Truck and it appears that the Roadster may be ready for production in the not too distant future. Elon Musk has also hinted that they have the Model Y and a pickup-truck in development and I suspect we will be hearing more about these in the near future.
Eventually we may see a car that will rival Tesla in volume but right now Tesla has a major market share and are building customer loyalty. Recently I have been seeing lots of ads for the Model 3 on eBay that say they are selling because they liked the model 3 so much they are replacing it with the recently available dual motor version. What I would like to see is Tesla getting the base Model 3 into production as soon as possible before someone does come out with a car that will effectively compete for this segment of the market.
Sunday September 2, 2018 Grid Energy Storage I was reading some articles about global warming and came across an article in The Verge about the issues that are being faced at San Onofre nuclear power plant here in Southern California. I often see articles about how nuclear power is the only way to provide enough energy to provide for the world's needs without burning fossil fuels, usually written by someone in the nuclear power generation business.
San Onofre power station was decommissioned on June 7, 2013 after issues were found with one of the reactors that would require extremely expensive repairs or risk a radioactive leak. The decommissioning process requires that spent fuel rods be moved to a safe location. With no safe location currently available in the US the fuel rods are being stored in place. Initially they are being stored in giant pools of water madeofconcrete so that they can cool. Now the process has started to move the fuel rods to large steel and concrete containers known as dry storage. This process has currently been halted temporally due to safety concerns while procedures are being reviewed and more training is being given to the work force.
The fuel rods will then sit there by the ocean until a permanent place is created. During this time they will require security to be onsite at all times to monitor and protect the containers. The fuel rods themselves will remain highly radioactive for hundreds of thousand of years presenting a danger to everyone and everything that could come in contract with them in the future.
Nuclear proponents would have us build more nuclear plants without any mitigation for the real danger that nuclear power presents to the population. They say that it is necessary since renewable energy is too dependent on the elements. What happens to solar when the sun doesn't shine, or to wind power when the air is still. An alternative solution is to build grid level storage so that energy created by renewables can be stored until it is needed.
The electric grid requires that the energy being added to the grid equals the energy being taken from the grid at all times. When the energy being pulled from the grid is greater than the energy being put into the grid the voltage drops. If the voltage sags enough then sections of the grid have to be taken off line to reduce load and the result is a brown-out. If more energy is added to the grid than is being pulled out this results in heat being generated in the grid infrastructure. You might notice power lines that sag an night due to expansion as the lines heat up. To remedy this power generation has to be taken off line.
Adding a generation source that might produce energy at times when you don't need it and not producing any energy at peak demand is not optimum for the grid. For example solar energy is often not being produced during peak demand in the early evening. Fortunately this is typically the time when peak output happens for wind energy, but since both are intermittent there needs to be away to deal with a potential shortfall. There is a solution; grid energy storage.
There are many ways to store energy generated by wind or solar and many of them actually help balance the grid by taking energy from the grid when an excess is being produced and adding back to the grid when demand exceeds supply. Such energy storage has been in existence for a while now in the form of Pump Storage. Pump Storage using excess energy to pump water from a lower level lake to a higher level lake. When demand exceeds supply the water is allowed to flow back down to the lower level lake using turbines to generate electricity. When energy generated is greater than the requirement the excess energy drives the turbines as pumps to send water back to the upper lake.
Another solution that has been in the news lately is battery storage. Tesla has recently installed large capacity battery banks in Australia and Puerto Rico and these have proved to be very effective in smoothing out the grid and making renewables more viable as a solution to our energy needs. Several other companies, including Nissan, are looking at grid level storage as a way to use batteries that no longer have the capacity for use in an EV but still have plenty of life left in them. A variant of this is the use of batteries to allow for off grid use for rooftop solar.
Thermal solar sites are also being developed that use the heat reflected from mirrors to heat up salts to the point where these salts become hot enough to generate steam, which is then used to generate electricity. For hours after the sun goes down the salts remain hot enough for continued electricity generation.
Other ways of storing energy are by storing it using flywheels, or by compressing air into a storage chamber, similar to the way that natural gas is stored underground. The compressed air is then heated and expands through a turbine to generate electricity when needed. Excess energy can also be used in electrolysis to generate hydrogen, which is stored under pressure until can be fed into a fuel cell to generate electricity.
There are plenty of solutions to smoothing out the variability of renewable energy so there is no need to build expensive and dangerous nuclear power plants or go back to generating energy using fossil fuels. It should also remember that we can also use hydro and geothermal energy as baseline energy as both these sources are not subject to the factors that make most other forms of renewable energy intermittent.
Sunday August 26, 2018 Why Are EVs Not Being Mass Produced? Yesterday on Twitter I saw a post from Paul Scott with a link to his answer on Quora to the question "We already have the technology but why are electric vehicles being mass produced?". That's a good question.
Paul's answer was "There are no technological reasons, only political". He went on to point out that industries like the oil industry are set to loose everything if we stop using fossil fuels, while the move to electric means a lot less income from the service department causing many car dealerships to be hostile toward selling EVs.
There were lots of other responses to this question most of which brought up the same old myths that we have been hearing for years. They cost too much, they are not useful unless they have 300 miles of range (Tesla is already at this level with some models), there is not enough public infrastructure, and they charge too slowly to be useful on long journeys.
My first thought on this question is that they are being mass produced and several of the people answering this question tended to agree with me. The question is at what volume do you consider them to be mass produced.
Manufacturing cars has always been a very difficult task and it takes quite some time and a lot of money to get a vehicle to the point where the car can be built in enough volume to start bringing costs down. Let's take a quick look at the history of cars. Carl Benz is usually considered the father of the automobile. He wasn't the first to make a gas powered vehicle but it is often the case that the first person is not the person who we consider the inventor. After completing his first car, a 3 wheel single cylinder vehicle, he did what nobody in the past had done, he set out to successfully manufacture and sell these vehicles to others.
It took 26 years until the first mass produced car using interchangeable parts rolled off the assembly line when Ransom Olds' first Curved Dash Oldsmobile rolled out of the factory. It was another 12 years before Henry Ford introduced the first moving assembly line that produced entire automobiles. In Contrast, Tesla began producing the Roadster in 2008 but didn't begin assembly line production until the model S which was first produced in 2012. Tesla are now producing approximately 6,000 model 3 sedans per week and for me that is mass production.
There are still issues to be faced in the production and sale of EVs. One of the biggest is that EVs are more costly up front with lower running costs so they tend to be less expensive over the life of the car. Americans are taught to look at the up-front costs so it is hard for them to adjust to a car that costs more but saves money in the long run.
Infrastructure is still spotty in many places but is getting better. Tesla now says that there is no place is the continental US that is more than 150 miles from one of their superchargers and it should also be noted that Tesla has an adapter that will allow their vehicles to charge at CHAdeMO fast chargers also. While not all EVs can use fast charger most can get a full charge overnight at a level 2 charger and can get a pretty decent amount of range with an overnight charge at most 110V outlets.
EVs are not being produced at the same rate as say the Chevy Silverado which is being produced at a rate of around 20 to 25 thousand per week but the Tesla Model 3, now being built at a volume of around 5 thousand per week, is being produced at a faster rate than the Toyota Tacoma is being sold in the US, which is around 4 thousand per week. Tesla is mass producing vehicles.
For other manufacturers, they often build their EVs on the same line as other vehicles built on the same platform. For example the Pacifica Hybrid is being built on the same line as the Pacifica at Chrysler's plant in Windsor, Ontario. They do share a lot of common parts so the none plug-in version of this vehicle, and others like it, should also be considered as being built in volume, even though for this specific trim level rates are only about 200 cars per week.
Sunday Aug 19, 2018 Hydrogen as a Fuel While the world moves forward with battery electric vehicles some automakers, led by Japanese and Korean companies, continue to push hydrogen as the fuel of the future. It has its up sides and its downsides and there are still a lot of myths surrounding the fuel which need to be explained.
First let me say that while I term
hydrogen as a fuel in this article it isn't really a fuel; it is an energy
carrier. Energy is stored by stripping hydrogen for molecules and is
release when the hydrogen is combined with Oxygen in a fuel cell to produce
The biggest benefit of using hydrogen as a fuel is that a vehicle can be refueled in much the same way as we fill a gas car and in about the same amount of time. This is the primary advantage of over battery electric vehicles which generally take longer to charge although, this edge is beginning to erode as batteries improve and fast charging rates climb. Another advantage is that you don't have to lug around a very heavy battery pack although most fuel cell vehicles do require batteries to fill in at times when the fuel cell stack is just not able to pump out energy fast enough. Battery packs in fuel cell vehicles are more like those in a Prius and perform much the same functions like helping the car get rolling from a stop, or accelerating quickly when merging on the freeway.
There are some downsides to
hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and one of them is the shortage of refueling
stations. This can be a real problem sometimes like at the end of July
when hydrogen fueling stations in the LA area suddenly experienced a shortage of
fuel. Fortunately for FCEV drivers this was rectified by August 3 and fuel
supplies are now back to normal.
One of the biggest issues with Fuel Cell vehicles is the need for dedicated fueling stations. A battery electric car can pretty much charge anywhere where they can get to a 15 amp plug. It may take a long time but most cars can get a good 30 to 40 miles of range on an overnight charge (plugging in at 10pm and unplugging at 7am) which is enough for most people's daily commute. If you need more than that you need a 220 V charger which will provide at least 80 miles of range, and often much more, overnight. Of course there are still problems for those that live in apartments or need to park in the street so battery electric vehicles also need infrastructure. The nice thing is that the cost to install EV charging is way less than the cost to install hydrogen fuel stations.
I also see a lot of BS written about hydrogen as a fuel. I was looking at a web site that compared hydrogen to gasoline as a fuel source. Now, a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle will typically get better fuel economy than a gas car but on this particular web site there were glaring errors that made they hydrogen fuel look much better than it really is.
For a start it said that hydrogen was renewable a gas wasn't and based this on hydrogen being produced by electrolysis of water where gas was produced from crude oil. On the face of it this statement is true but the reality right now is that about 90% of hydrogen is produced by reformatting natural gas. It also said that water supplies are infinite which is also not true although the reaction in the fuel cell returns the water back to the atmosphere so the net change is zero so from this point of view it could be considered an infinite resource.
I still think we need to do more studies on water use before we plunge into hydrogen as a fuel. In theory the net usage of water is zero but we have to determine where the water goes after it exits the tailpipe. According to the website it takes about 3 gallons of water to make 1 Kg of hydrogen. I think that may be a little low but is close enough to get an idea of usage. Imagine if we move all of California's cars over to hydrogen. If we used electrolysis of local water supplies to produce that hydrogen we would be taking billions of gallons of water each day from the already strained California water system. We really need to have a good idea how overall water supplies will be impacted by this.
What was really troubling was the cost calculations. The wesite calculated the cost using off peak power and got a cost per kg of hydrogen of $1. This was bumped up to around $1.80 using what they called compressed electrolysis. Compressed electrolysis is a process that produces hydrogen at higher than atmospheric pressure. It does not take into account the additional energy needed to liquefy the hydrogen for shipping. The California Fuel Cell partnership gives the current cost of a kilogram of hydrogen as $12.85 to $13.99. It should be noted that I recently saw some information from one of the companies currently supplying hydrogen in Southern California saying they had dropped their price to $9.99 per Kg. The California Fuel Cell Partnership estimates that the cost could fall to $8.00 by 2025.
It then went on to compare the cost with gas cars and once again oversold hydrogen. For the gas car they used a range of 18 to 31 mpg while for the FCEV they used a range of 80 mile per Kilogram (mpk). It should be noted that the most fuel efficient FCEV currently on the market is the Honda Clarity FCEV which gets 68 mpk.
The web site went on to say that it takes 60 KWh of electricity to make 1 Kg of hydrogen. The Chevy Bolt can travel 238 miles on a 60 KWh pack so it looks like Fuel Cells have a long way to go before they reach parity with Battery Electric Vehicles.
Sunday August 12, 2018 Range Rover Goes PHEV For fans of the SUV, the Range Rover is one of the most desirable vehicles available, and soon there will be a plug-in hybrid version heading to the US.
The 2019 Range Rover P400e and the 2019 Range Rover Sport P400e have already started to appear on the Range Rover web site and should be making its way into dealerships in the US later this year. I haven't been able to find a release date yet and I also haven't been able to find any EPA fuel economy numbers, which means that the cars won't go on sale for a while yet, but they should be hitting the streets before the end of the year.
Indications are that they won't be cheap either. Including destination charges the smaller Sport P400e will start at a base price of $79,295 and the larger P400e will come with a base price of $96,145 That price should be eased a little by the federal tax credit which should be around $6,000.
They are both powered by a 4-cylinder gas engine that puts out 263 hp paired with an 85 KW (114 hp) electric motor driven by a 13.1 KWh lithium-ion battery pack. Land Rover is saying that this will give the P400e an all electric range of 30 miles while the lighter Sport 400e will go 31 miles on a charge. Please keep in mind that these are not official EPA numbers and match the values on the UK site which are based on the much more lenient European test cycle. I expect that real world range is probably going to be more like 20 to 25 miles on a charge and once the official EPA numbers are released we should get a more realistic idea of EV range.
Charging is accomplished using a 7
KW onboard charger that will allow the car to be charged in as little as 2 hours
with a level 2 chargers that supports the faster rate. Please note that
most public chargers are 6.6 KW but that is still a pretty good charge rate and
much better than the 3.3 KW chargers that are installed in most plug-in hybrids.
Both variants of the P400e will come with a variety of driving modes but unlike most plug-in hybrids the default is hybrid mode not electric mode. That is because the SUV comes with software that uses the route in the navigation system to calculate the optimum use of electric and gas to get the best fuel economy. For people like me who mostly do very short trips there is an EV only mode which will keep the car electric only at speeds up to 85mph. There is also a hold mode that allows you to save the EV range for specific portions of the trip. This is important in some European cities that only allow cars into certain areas, or exempt them from congestion chargers, if they are running in EV mode.
Performance is also quite lively with a top speed on 137 mph and a 0-60 time of 6.3 seconds for the Sport P400e. The heavier P400e is a bit slower off the line, but only just, with a 0-60 time of 6.4 seconds. It does keep the off-road capability of the standard Range Rover and the air suspension allows the ground clearance to be raised by about 3.5 inches so it can wade through water almost three feet deep.
Identifying the P400e variants is not going to be an easy task. The charge port is hidden behind the front grill so it is only noticeable when charging, and the only other sign is a small PHEV plaque on the rear.
For those that like the Range Rover the PHEV version allows someone to drive with much better fuel economy than the standard version while pumping out a lot less pollution into the atmosphere I am waiting for the official EPA EV range numbers but I still think it will allow many people to drive about 50% EV when used for commuting, and closer to 100% if they have charging at work. It is quite an expensive option but I expect that it will fill a small niche for those that want a Range Rover but still want to be able to drive zero emissions for at least part of their daily commute.
Sunday Aug 5, 2018 New EV Sales High I was doing a check of the EVs that were listed on eBay UK and I came across this little gem - "Other-Uk-Other-British-All-Models-Hatchback-0-0-Automatic-Electric". This was not being sold by some private seller but by a dealer who actually had several of them all listed with the same description. Would you like to take a guess what this was?.
It turned out to be a Tesla Model S. It is a pretty good illustration of why Tesla wants to market directly to the public rather than setting up a network of franchised dealerships. Tesla has been in the news quite a bit lately with a larger than expected loss for the second quarter but with a prediction of showing a profit for Q3 and Q4.
It is the news about EV sales for July that really put a smile on my Face. Tesla has been talking about increases in production rates for the model 3 and we saw a big leap in sales starting with 6,250 cars in May but falling back to 6,062 in June. This was a bit of a disappointment for many as the quarter end is usually Tesla's best selling month in the quarter. I have been predicting for some time now that Tesla would hold back cars so that they would pass the 200,000 mark, which triggers a cutback of the Federal tax credit, in early July, so that their customers would continue to received the full $7,500 dollars through the end of this Year. In their recent second quarter conference call they confirmed that the 200,000th sale did indeed take place in early July although rather than hold back cars they sent a bunch of cars to Canada to meet orders there.
Tesla only gives out sales numbers at the end of each quarter so we don't know exactly how many model 3s were actually sold in July but the estimates done by Inside EV have proved to be very close over the years. For July they are estimating that Tesla sold 14,250 model 3 cars in July, more than double the number sold in May and June. Add to this an estimated 1,200 Model S and 1,325 Model X and Tesla sold 16,775 cars for the month.
July sales are not in yet as several companies have still to report sales and 1,323 of BMW's total of 1,859 cars still have to be allocated by model, but including the full BMW tally we are still at 27,531 cars sold. This means that July is now the highest sales month ever for plug-in cars, well ahead of the 26,107 cars sold in December 2018. If the companies not yet reporting run true to form then the final sales tally will probably be around 30,000 cars.
Model 3 sales averaged about 3,500 per week which is lower than the 5,000 units per week that Tesla has talked about but it appears that the bottleneck right now is in the delivery process and it is estimated that they may have had as many as 11,000 cars in transit at the start of August so I expect August sales to be even higher for this month.
The question is why Tesla opened up its sales of the current Model 3 variants to none reservation holders with a promise of delivery in 2 to 3 months. The only assumption I can make is that current reservation holders are looking for the base model car which probably won't be available until the end of this rear at the earliest and possibly not until the second quarter of 2018. Tesla needs to show profitability in Q3 and Q4 and the higher margin on the Long Range and Dual Motor version of the Model 3 will make profitability easier to reach if they can sell enough of these models to keep the production line humming at peak efficiency.
It should be noted that the Model 3's closest competitor was the Toyota Prius Prime that sold 1,984 cars. Tesla has made a lot of the sales numbers comparing them to other cars in the midsized Premium car segment such as the BMW 3 series and the Audi A4 which are selling in much lower numbers than the Model 3. The press, that has been pushing negative articles about Tesla for months immediately jumped on this by saying that the Model 3 should be compared to the compact sedans. I thought I would take a look at some compact sedans and see how the Model 3 compared.
The Ford Focus sold 8,993 cars in August. They did sell more than 14,250 in March and May of this year but less in all other months. In fact the Tesla Model 3 outsold all of Ford's sedan models in July and you would have to go to their SUVs (Ford Explorer 20, 243 and Ford Escape 20,630) to find a Ford vehicle that sold better than the Model 3.
Toyota is much stiffer competition but the Model 3 still didn't do so badly there either. In July 2018 Toyota's luxury brand Lexus sold a total of 8,226 cars and 17,177 SUVs. The model 3 outsold every single Lexus model and sold more that all their sedan models combined. The Model 3 does have quite a way to go to outsell Toyota's top selling models though, with the Camry selling 26,311 cars and the Corolla selling 26,754 cars.
With sales of the model 3 starting to trend up it will become more and more difficult to talk about how low plug-in cars market share is. In the future July, 2018 may be marked as the tipping point for plug-in sales. We still have some questions. Can Tesla keep up the pace of sales without the launch of the base version of the Model 3? Can the other carmakers up their game and give Tesla some serious competition? Will sales continue to rise when the Federal tax credit begins to draw down? These questions will be answered over the next twelve months.
Sunday July 29, 2018 EV Driver Bill of Rights This week I received an email from Plug-in America that talked about the introduction of resolution 117, known as the EV driver Bill of Rights, into the California Assembly. The resolution, which is promoted by Plug-in America, was introduced by Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi. It sets out what EV Drivers should expect in both the buying experience and with charging infrastructure.
First let me be very clear on one thing, this is a resolution not a bill. What that means is that there isn't a law being created here, just a statement on what California thinks is the correct way that EV drivers should be treated both at the dealership when they come to buy a car, and when they charge both at home and using public infrastructure.
The resolution appears to be in process right now and has certainly changed from my first reading it a few days ago to when I looked at it today. For those interested the full text can be found here.
Some of this is near and dear to my heart. This resolution says that an EV driver should have the right to charge at a public or workplace charging station as long as you pay the appropriate fee. For regular readers of my blog you will remember that I was badly impacted when the City of Beverly Hills changed their policy to only allow BEVs to use the public charging stations. The EV Driver Bill of Rights makes it clear at the opening that it is related to any plug-in vehicle and even has a clause that says plug-in drivers are referred to as EV drivers but it is not very clear. Unfortunately the rest of the resolution refers only to EV drivers so I'm sure that most people, including the city of Beverly Hills, will interpret this as BEV drivers, and not change their policy toward plug-in hybrids.
It does also say that EV drivers should be allowed to charge at their place of residence. When I first read this document it said that they should be allowed to install chargers at their own expense. I was very happy about this but the clause appears to have been dropped and now it just says they can install chargers at locations that have already been wired for charging infrastructure. So, I have the right to charge at my apartment complex but not the right to install a charger since there is no wiring in place.
It also has clauses that say the driver should know how much it will cost to charge and how much any penalties will be for staying longer than a certain time. For example as part of Beverly Hills draconian changes it implemented a policy that cars parked longer than 2 hours would incur a charge of $6 per hour after the initial 2 hours stay. Such sums are good at preventing people from hogging the chargers which was certainly a problem in Beverly Hills in the past, but I really think that the charge time needs to be longer than 2 hours (between 20 and 40 miles of range on the Beverly Hills chargers). I think the 4 hours allowed in Santa Monica is much more useful for an EV driver who needs a good charge to get home.
The section on buyers rights says that the EV buyer should have up-to-date information on the internet including sites with current government incentives. Dealerships should have sales personnel who are able to direct them to such sites.
It also says they should have the right to know what the capacity of the battery pack is when both buying a new and used plug-in car and they should also have the right to know what to expect in terms of range per charge for the vehicle. This is quite difficult since actual mileage varies so much depending on driver style, route, and weather. I, for example, get less than 10 miles per charge when travelling too and from work in busy LA traffic but I can get between 11 and 12 miles per charge on longer trips with less stops an starts. For newer vehicles the EPA sticker value gives a pretty good idea what to expect but there is nothing like that for used cars which will probably get less than EPA miles per charge as battery capacity diminishes.
The EV Driver Bill of Rights is a feel good motion which, in my opinion, is a total waste of the time for the California Assembly. It has no legal impact at all and as written is not likely to change anything for the plug-in driver, particularly for plug-in hybrid drivers. In particular the use of the term EV driver instead of plug-in driver, especially in the section on charging which refers only to EV drivers (which can, and will be interpreted as pure electric drivers) means that plug-in drivers can expect nothing when it comes to charging and may lead to more sites following Beverly Hills lead in banning plug-in hybrids from public chargers. The intent of the resolution is that EV driver means all drivers of plug-in vehicles but unless this is specified at the very top of the resolution the term is going to be read as pure electric car drivers by many.
Also keep in mind that this resolution still appears to be a work in progress so it may change again after my last reading. The trend seems to be to remove anything remotely like teeth so I am not at all confident that it will have any more impact in later revisions.
Sunday Jul 22, 2018 BMW i8 Roadster Last week I was sitting at a traffic light on Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills when this hot looking convertible sports car pulled up beside me. The car looked very familiar and as I glanced over my left shoulder to get a better look I read "Roadster" on the side of the car. My thoughts immediately jumped to the Tesla Roadster but it didn't look like either the old one of the new one they have under development so I was left wondering what it could be.
The light changed and the mystery Roadster pulled away leaving me in the dust. Not a really hard accomplishment considering I was driving my Prius Plug-in in eco mode. It soon became apparent that this was a BMW and as I watched the tail end pull away from me I realized that I had just gotten my first view of an i8 Roadster in the wild.
The i8 Roadster is part of a mid-cycle upgrade of the iconic i8, and both have received a few changes to make them even better than the original version. One of the main changes has been an increase with the battery going from 7.1 KWHr to 11.7 KWHrs. This should increase the electric only range from 15 to 18 miles on a charge. I have to say that this is quite disappointing, adding 4.6 KWh of battery capacity should translate to an increase in range of at least 12 miles.
I suspect some of that range has been eaten up by an increase in power with 0-60 time now below 5 seconds which explains why the one I saw pulled away from me like I was standing still. The electric motor now produces 141 bhp, an increase of 12 bhp, while the 3 cylinder engine still produces an astonishing 228 bhp.
The original i8 was notorious for understeer and this has also been addressed in the latest refresh. The normal solution for this would be to widen the tires but this would negatively impact EV range so they kept the skinny tires and modified the rear roll bar and made some changes in the front suspension and the result is a car that is much better balanced..
The i8 Roadster comes with an electric powered soft top that folds away into the space where the rear seat would be on the coupe making it a 2-seater rather than a 2 + 2. I don't think that this will be a big loss for most people as the rear seats only had enough space to accommodate a small child or a largish dog. Here in Southern California the addition of an alternative to the Smart Electric Cabriolet for top down electric driving is going to ad much to the appeal of the i8 Roadster even if it is at the opposite end of the affordability scale, and way out of may price range.
Sales of the BMW i8 have been slow over the last year or two. It will be interesting to see if the improvements that BMW have made, and the addition of the Roadster as an option, will be able to revive sales of the model. I hope so, the i8 Roadster looks tailor made for Southern California.
Sunday July 15, 2018 2018 Q2 Sales Overview
For the past few years I have been reporting on monthly sales figures even
though some companies like Tesla and Fiat/Chrysler America didn't give out
monthly sales numbers. Well starting at the end of May several more
companies including GM and BMW switched to reporting sales quarterly so I have
decided to switch to a quarterly report just giving the highlights.
The second quarter of 2018 saw US sales of 69,420 cars not including the sales of some smaller brands like Workhorse and Karma that sell in such small quantities that they don't appear on the radar. Sales during the quarter were dominated by the Tesla Model 3 which was the top selling car in all three months.
Actually given that Tesla had
ramped up production to 5,000 per week by the end of June sales of the model 3,
while above expectations, were still lower than the production rate indicated due to a bunch of
production being diverted to meet orders from Canada. Tesla were not able
to hold back sales enough to stop hitting 200,000 plug-in sales in July so the
Federal tax credit will drop to $3,700 starting in October of this year.
All three months in the quarter showed month over month gains against 2017 but June sales were a little disappointing with sales falling short of the 26,000 level making it the third highest selling month of all not the highest selling month as people expected. It will be interesting to see how many Tesla model 3 sales impact July sales assuming that Tesla can consistently build 5,000 cars per week going foward.
The Prius prime also continued to impress outselling every other plug-in except the Model 3. It has quickly stamped its mark as the best selling plug-in hybrid even out-performing the Chevy Volt and the Honda Clarity PHEV both of which have superior range. Over the last three months it has also outsold both the Tesla Model S and Model X with a total of 7,787 cars.
The Nissan Leaf appears to have dropped into a sales range of 1,100 to 1,500 cars per month and I don't really expect them to break out until the long rang version starts to show up on dealer lots later this year. The Honda Clarity PHEV also seems to be stuck in around the same range with sales from 1,050 to 1,650 units over the last few months. Most of the other manufacturers seem to be in a similar rut this quarter with sales staying pretty consistent and also being pretty consistent when compared to the first quarter. The bit jump in sales has been with the Porsche Panamera S e-Hybrid where sales jumped significantly with sales of 779 cars after selling just 52 cars in the first quarter. This shows that inventory of the new model year is now starting to arrive in the US in significant numbers.
Some models started to phase out in quarter 2. Sales of the Mercedes-Benz B250e dropped to just 10 cars in the second quarter with no cars being sold in June. Ford has halted production on the C-Max Energi and sales finally started to taper of during the second quarter with a total of just 81 cars. In June only 6 cars were sold as inventory is being significantly depleted. With sales of the Focus Electric sitting in the 50 to 100 range for most of this year and the Fusion Energy selling only 2,086 cars in Q2 Ford desperately needs to upgrade its aging plug-in lineup to remain competitive. Word on the street is that they are readying a plug-in hybrid version of the Escape compact sized SUV but so far I haven't heard when that might make an appearance in dealerships.
Fuel Cell vehicle sales were quite bad for the quarter, especially in June where only Toyota posted reasonable numbers. Overall the three companies, Toyota, Honda and Hyundai managed to sell just 505 FCEVs during the second quarter with over half of those being the Toyota Mirai.
I must say that June sales surprised me. I was expecting much lower sales from Tesla as they could have throttled back sales to postpone hitting the 200,000 vehicle mark until early June which would have pushed back the draw down of the federal tax credit into 2019. I suspect that Tesla needed to show better sales figures to ward off the short sellers. The question is can they continue to build 5,000 model 3 per month or will they need to switch resources to production of the more profitable Model S and Model X. Chevy Bolt numbers have also been below expectations recently but GM have increased production so the question is will we see a corresponding increase in sales. We will see in October once the Q3 numbers are out.
Sunday July 8, 2018 GM Ups Volt Charge Rate During the life of a car each model usually goes through a number of changes ranging from major redesigns to small changes know as a mid-cycle refresh. GM has just announced the specs for a mid-cycle refresh for the 2019 Volt and while most of the changes are pretty minor, it does include one rather important update.
First the minor change. They are adding a couple of additional color option, for the exterior Pacific Blue Metallic will be added, while for the interior Black/Porcelain will be available on the Premier trim level. There will also be some additional dealer-installed options. The 2019 Volt will add the new Chevrolet Infotainment 3 system that includes an 8 inch touchscreen. A new app will show how driving style, route, weather conditions, and cabin comfort settings will impact range. A new setting will allow the driver to delay engine starting to provide heat in cold weather to not kick in until temperatures reach as low as -13F. There will also be some enhancements to the pedestrian alert system.
Now for the big change, GM has upped the charge rate from the Volt from 3.3 KW to 7.2 KW. At full rate this will allow the Volt to get about 25 miles per hour of charge and make it able to fully charge in as little as 2.3 hours. The faster charger will be standard on the Premier trim level but will come as an option on the LT trim level.
The faster charging rate really
won't help much with overnight charging at home so why is this so important?
The faster charging rate makes the use of public charge much more beneficial and can greatly extend the amount of electric vehicle miles traveled since an hour of charging at a public charger now means 25 miles of range instead of about 10 miles of range. This means that it is more likely that someone can get to their destination without running the gas engine. Even when travelling it means charging during a stop for lunch will give the driver a much longer electric only distance once they get back on the highway. For public charging infrastructure it means that drivers will not have to tie up the charger for as long allowing someone else to use it. It should be noted that some public chargers are limited to 6.3KW but even at that charge rates will be much faster.
Cost of public charging also plays a big role. Most of the new chargers being installed are set to charge by the hour so the cost per mile varies depending on how fast you can charge. The faster the charge the cheaper the cost per mile traveled.
This is the biggest problem I have with my Prius Plug-in. It comes with a wimpy 2.4 KW charger. If I charge at the Century City Shopping Center it cost 95 cents per hour so a 1 hour charge, resulting in about 8 miles of range and would be the equivalent of paying around $6 per gallon for gas.
The current model Chevy Volt, the Prius Prime, and most other plug-in hybrids currently available use a 3.3 KW charger. At this rate charging the Prius would result in an equivalent cost of $4.31 per gallon which is a pretty close the what we pay for a gallon of gas here in LA.
The Honda Clarity Plug-in has an even faster charger, allowing the car to charge at 6.6 KW. At this rate charging costs would come down to $2.16 per gallon.
At 7.2 KWs the Volt charger would drop the equivalent cost per gallon down to about $1.90 per gallon making public charging much more cost effective.
Let me just say here that I made the calculations based on my Prius Plug-in which can get at least 50mpg so that numbers would remain constant to illustrate the point. Calculations change based on the actual mpg of the car. The current Volt for example is rated at a combined 42 mpg once the battery is depleted so the equivalent gas cost would be a little higher at around $2.26 per gallon but still a significant saving verses using gas.
Clearly, if you need to use public charging the faster charge rates of the Volt and Honda Clarity will make them more cost effective. I'm not sure this will have any impact on most peoples decision on which car to by but it has certainly put the 2019 Volt to the top of my list for when I upgrade from the Prius Plug-in.
Sunday Jul 1, 2018 Hybrid Smog Check A couple of weeks ago I got a renewal notice from the California DMV for registration on my Prius Plug-in. Imagine my surprise when I opened it and read the phrase "Smog Check Required".
I have been driving hybrid cars since 2005 and this is the first time that I have ever been required to smog check one. The problem has always been that when the car is stationary the engine stops running, or in the case of plug-in hybrids the engine may not have gone through a warm-up cycle prior to testing. The smog check always included the use of a probe inserted into the tailpipe to measure the emissions and the old BAR-97 testing system, introduced in 1997, could not handle the car switching to electric only mode.
In 2015 California introduced the new Bureau of Automotive Repair On-Board Diagnostic Inspection System (BAR-OIS) which now has the capability of handling hybrid drive trains. Smog inspections for hybrids includes a visual inspection to make sure that emissions control systems have not been removed, tampered with, or replaced with non-approved aftermarket parts. The BAR-OIS testing system then does a scan of the vehicles onboard diagnostic system to make sure that no errors with the emissions system are being recorded.
Hybrids are still not subject to tailpipe emissions testing and no visible smoke check is done.
Smog testing for hybrids in done after it reaches 6 years old and is then required every second year. I checked online and found that the smog check station that I have used on my regular gas cars for year was set up to handle hybrids, so one Saturday morning I drove on down there to get the smog check done. Unfortunately when I got there the location was closed. I went to a local restaurant and had some lunch and while I was waiting for the food to show up I did a little web surfing on my phone and found that they had moved to another location nearby. After lunch I headed to the new location and they had time to take my car right away.
The actual smog check took about ten minutes and my car passed with no issues. This wasn't a real shock as my car is very low mileage and with a 15 year 100.000 mile warranty on the emissions system I wasn't expecting any real issues.
Smog checks on hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars are really a good thing. Even though such cars are designed to be high mpg low emission vehicles over time the emission control systems can fail and then even these cars can become gross polluters. This is one more step California is taking to maintain the air quality improvements that have been so hard won.
Sunday June 24, 2018 Colorado to Adopt California Rules This week Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper issued an executive order directing the state's Department of Public Health and Environment to draft legislation for low emission vehicles that will incorporate the stricter rules set by California. If the rules are adopted when they come before the legislature in August Colorado will become the 14th state to adopt the California legislation.
Currently Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington plus the District of Columbia follow the California rules. Arizona was also adopted California rules in 2008 but in 2012, under Republican Governor Jan Brewer, the rules were repealed.
Not everyone is pleased with this. In a press release, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers released the following statement.
"A poll conducted last week by the Auto Alliance showed that a majority (61 percent) of Coloradans are opposed to the state fuel efficiency standards being dictated by California. And that makes sense because Colorado is already a national leader in sales of low emission vehicles. Importing California's standards could saddle Coloradans with a huge financial burden without providing any additional contributions to the environment.
As it stands now, Coloradans may be looking at the kind of high gas prices that Californians pay to purchase carbon neutral fuel. If state regulators and policymakers move forward with adopting California's standards on zero emission vehicles, Coloradans would be looking at paying millions, if not billions, of dollars to create the kind of infrastructure that would encourage people to buy these vehicles. Moreover, under the California program, there could be a significant reduction in the choice of vehicles for Coloradans, particularly when it comes to trucks and other large vehicles.
We hope that state regulators and legislators will reverse course on this issue and implement the kind of standards that work for Coloradans."
Of course this statement is meant to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) about the adoption of the California rules when the truth is that as it stands now the Federal and California rules are actually lined up. Under the Obama administration an agreement was reached between the Department of Transportation who sets fuel efficiency (CAFE) standards, the EPA who are responsible for administering the clean air act, and the California Air Resource Board. This agreement that affects fuel economy standards for the period 2017 to 2025 had full buy-in from the automobile manufacturers.
Now the Trump Administration is having the EPA attempt to revoke the waiver, as defined in the clean air act, that allows California to set its own emission rules. This waiver has allowed California to set standards that have had a major impact on air quality across the state but there is still a long way to go and California still has the dirtiest air in the country. The elimination of the waiver and a roll back of the proposed emission standards would have a major impact on the health of Californians.
It should also be pointed out that while California fuel is more expensive than any other state it is not because it is made "carbon neutral" and the Automobile Alliance press release suggests, a good part of the additional cost is to produce low sulfur fuel as the results of burning high sulfur fuel has a very detrimental impact on people's health. The cost does increase as part of a cap and trade system to reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses produced but this is not part of California vehicle emission rules.
It should also be noted that California is moving toward replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy. Far from increasing the cost of fuels, this should end up reducing fuel costs. The price for wind and solar energy generation has been falling quickly to the point where it is now cheaper than coal, natural gas on nuclear. It appears that prices are continuing to fall so moving toward electric vehicles should end up reducing fuel costs not increasing them.
The Trump administration has shown that if favors the fossil fuel industry and the attempt at new emissions regulation in Colorado is one way that a state is standing up to any move that is going to take a step backward in cleaning up our air. I applaud Colorado for taking this stand and hope that many other states follow suit.
Sunday Jun 17, 2018 Global Warming, Greenland, and Vikings Last week I was reading an article on one of those sites that claim global warming is a hoax. The main thrust of the article seemed to be that Vikings were farming in Greenland during the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and now the land they farmed is under "thousands of feet of ice". Could this be true?
The MWP was a period that lasted from around 950 until around 1250. It is characterized by warm temperatures in the North Atlantic and perhaps in China and a few other areas. The warm temperatures were not global in scale with the tropical Pacific in particular showing cooler than average temperatures. The MWP was followed by cooler weather in North Atlantic in a period known as the Little Ice Age.
It is true that the Vikings did settle in Greenland during the MWP. It was in 985 when Eric the Red arrived in Greenland with a fleet of 14 Longships. The Vikings were still around long after the end of the MWP though. The last known communication from the Viking colonies on Greenland was a letter that arrived in Iceland in 1424. It should be noted that the Little Ice age is considered by some to have started around 1300 and certainly the MWP was well over before the Viking colonies on Greenland disappeared..
I reviewed some of the latest archeological studies courtesy of the Smithsonian and began to get a picture of the Viking life in Greenland. The Vikings established 2 colonies both on the west coast of Greenland. These colonies are now known as Igaliku in the south and Nuuk further to the north. These colonies are not under thousands of feet of ice but are actually covered in lush grass in the summer. The local Inuit population still farms some of the land that was once farmed by the Vikings.
The largest of the two communities was Gardar which was located next to the current Inuit community of Igaliku. It was there that the Vikings built a magnificent church with stained glass windows. Little remains of this church today except a few foundation stones but the large stone barns they built to house and keep their cattle warm are still to be seen to this day.
At it's height it was though that about 5,000 people lived in the two communities that made up Viking Greenland. The latest research seems to point to these communities being much smaller with perhaps 2,500 people living there. The Vikings measured their status by the number of cattle they owned and it is thought that once the weather turned colder the cattle died off and the Vikings starved to death. There is no mention of this in the three letters that were received from the colonists between 1420 and 1424, but there is also no record of the people returning to Iceland or Scandinavia on mass and such an event would almost certainly have been recorded by the Vikings.
Excavations at the site show no sign of violence and no sign of malnourished people. What is recorded in the trash they threw away is lots of seal bones which indicates that the Vikings, like the Inuit that live there now, used seal as their primary source of nourishment. The doors on most of the houses excavated have long rotted away but for the few that remain they were found closed. It appears that at some time the Viking settlers just closed up their houses and left. It is not certain if they left in small numbers, returning to Iceland of Scandinavia in small enough batches that their arrival didn't get reported, or if, as some believe, they pushed south into America but it does look like they left voluntarily.
So lets get our facts straight. Yes the Vikings did arrive in Greenland during the MWP but only in very small numbers. No, the fields they farmed are not buried under thousands of feet of ice, they are still in use today. Global temperatures are now quite a bit above what they were in the MWP so Viking colonization of Greenland is just a red herring and does not indicate that global warming is not real.
Sunday June 10, 2018 Moke America
There is a new NEV that just hit the streets here in the USA and it looks like
an old classic. Moke America has just started rolling out a NEV that is
built to resemble the classic Mini Moke, and I think this car is going to get
quite popular in beach communities.
Capitalizing on the popularity of the Mini in the late 1950s Sir Alec Issigonis and John Shepard began working on a light Jeep like vehicle for the British Military based on the Mini Platform. The low ground clearance and small wheels of the Mini made the car, known as the Mini Moke, impractical for off-road use. British Motor Corporation decided to offer the car as a variant on the Mini and in 1964 the Moke went on sale. It proved to be very popular in beach communities in the USA, Australia, and the Caribbean. The Moke was in production in the UK until 1964. It was them produced in Australia from 1966 until 1981 and in Portugal from 1980 until 1993v When production finally ceased 50,518 Mokes had been produced.
Moke America is bringing back this
iconic design but it will be built in America using American and Chinese parts.
The difference is that this car will be electric although a gas version will
also be available outside the USA.
Like all NEVs, Moke America will be limited to a top speed of 25mph. It is powered by 10 6V Gel batteries making it a 60V system. The batteries have a storage capacity of 12 KWh. This should be enough to provide the Moke with a range of between 30 and 40 miles depending on terrain and driving style. Power is routed through a 7.5 KW three phase AC synchronous motor which should provide plenty of pep when the accelerator is pushed. Charging takes 6-8 hours from a standard 110V outlet.
Stopping is accomplished by disk brakes on the front wheels and drum brakes on the rear. I wasn't able to find any reference to regenerative braking but given that this car uses an AC motor I would be very surprised if this was not available.
The body looks very much like the classic Moke and like the classic Moke it is able to seat 4 passengers. The NEV is available in a choice of 8 colors most of them quite bright which is always good to aid visibility. The electric Moke is priced at $16,975 and comes with a 1 year warranty. They don't currently have their dealer locator up and running they do have some dealers already on board including Palm Beach Garage in Palm Beach, FL.
Moke America is the perfect car for those that live in sunny beach communities. It has an open top design that makes it perfect for those that like to soak up the sun. People riding in these are going to get a lot of attention so it is not for the shy. I think that this NEV is going to become pretty popular in beach communities in both the USA and the Caribbean.
Audrey in Crystal River, FL Wrote:
Love this! Thanks. I am an old lady but I converted my 1967 Morris MK1100 .. 8 or 9 years ago to all electric! My husband was a real good sport and let ME do all the work .... still my Dailey driver !
Sunday June 3, 2018 Last-Mile Travel Earlier this week I was walking home from work when I found an Zappi style electric scooter parked across the pavement almost blocking my path. It turned out to be one of the Bird rental scooters that are popping up all over LA area. These scooters are mostly being used for recreation but are meant as a solution to the last-mile travel issue for public transportation.
Last-mile travel is a term used for the process of getting to or from public transportation to your final destination. If the public transportation is built out enough or if you are lucky enough to work close to the public transportation stop then this is not an issue but if you have to travel a significant distance then it might be a deal breaker for many.
When I worked in London the public transportation system was so widespread that you could usually get too and from your destination pretty easily. I lived in North London but I was only a block away from the local bus stop where I could take a bus to the nearest tube station, hop on the underground, and emerge just a five minute walk from where I worked. When I moved to LA I found that public transport options were very limited.
I worked for a while in Newport
Beach and when I went to work there I looked at public transport options.
This meant taking a bus to Union Station, then taking the surface rail to
Irvine. The issue was that there didn't seem to be any way of getting from
the Irvine rail station to my office in Newport Beach. Some people had
come up with an innovative solution, they had an old car parked at the Irvine
station which they used to travel the last few miles to the office. I
found that the whole trip would take me almost twice as long each day than just
driving and wouldn't save me any money. Instead I started a carpool and
shared the driving, and the cost, with up to 4 additional people.
LA has started to expand the subway system and in the not too distant future the subway will run from downtown LA to Century City with the line eventually terminating in Santa Monica. There is an issue though and Beverly Hills serves as a perfect example. The Rodeo Drive subway stop that will serve Beverly Hills is perfectly positioned for access to downtown Beverly Hills and for those who want to visit Rodeo Drive it will be very easy to hop off the Subway and walk a block to this shopping mecca.
For those working in Beverly Hills it is a different story. The subway station is about three quarters of a mile from the City Hall complex and about a mile from the Industrial area where many of the offices are located. This is not unique to Beverly Hills but is repeated all over the world as public transportation can only take you so far and people have to find a way to go that last-mile.
Fortunately there are ways to make that last mile easier to travel. In Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, West Hollywood, and Westwood they have implemented a bike share scheme. A commuter coming into Beverly Hills will be able to pick up a bike outside the Rodeo Drive subway station and drop it off at locations around the city, including the City Hall complex and the Industrial Park. There are several rental plans that are offered, the cheapest being being a $99 one year subscription that gives you up to 90 minutes of riding each day. That works out at about 20 cents each way for the commute from the station to the office with just a short walk from the bike racks to your final destination. You will also need to buy yourself a helmet to ride the bike legally.
The Bird electric scooter is also supposed to be for last-mile travel but it is a little bit more expensive than the bike share scheme. It costs $1 to unlock the bird then 15 cents per minute of use. The trip from the Rodeo station to be bike racks at the Beverly Hills Industrial Park would take about 6 minutes so the cost would be $1.90 each way. The advantage of the bird is that it does not require any muscle power to get you from the station to your destination and they are probably a lot more fun to ride than a bike. They also don't need to be taken to a fixed location then can be parked just about anywhere, as long as it is not on private property and is in a place where it can easily be seen, so it could take you all the way to your office instead of just to the local bike rack.
Bird now have about 1,000 scooters available mostly in Santa Monica and Venice although they are starting to spread east and are beginning to show up in West LA and Beverly Hills. They did get off to a rocky start apparently setting up in Santa Monica without the required permits. Riders are supposed to be be over 18 years of age, wear a helmet, and avoid riding on or blocking the pavement. Bird will even send you a free helmet when you sign up with them.
Unfortunately these rules are not being followed with lots of riders riding without helmets. There have already been several accidents where scooter riders have run a stop sign and been hit by a car. There have also been issues with these scooters being ridden on the sidewalk and colliding with pedestrians. When people take their first ride on a scooter Bird requires that they scan their driving license so that they can verify that the person is over 18 years of age. Unfortunately this scan does not appear to work that well as many underage riders have been reported.
There are other ways of filling in the last mile including a shuttle bus service that Los Angeles runs which people can use to travel between Union Station and the office buildings in downtown LA. Personally I can still manage a one mile walk twice a day so I think I will be OK for now if I make it my source of my daily exercise.
It is desirable to reduce the miles driven in private automobiles. A good public transport system allows people to better utilize their time than just sitting in traffic for extended periods trying to get from home to work and back. As the public transportation system gets cleaner, and here in LA they have already made huge strides in cleaning up public transportation, we need to make sure it is as easy to use as possible. Last-Mile travel options like bike share and electric scooters are a good way to make it easier for people to use public transport.
Sunday April 22, 2018 Classics Go Electric Unless you have been living off grid you will be aware by now that on May 19, 2018 England's Prince Harry married Meghan Markle, an actress from right here in Los Angeles, CA. After the wedding the couple left Windsor Castle to a reception hosted by Harry's father, Prince Charles, at Frogmore house. What was unusual is that they drove there in a Jaguar E-Type Concept Zero electric car.
The Jaguar E-Type Concept Zero is the product of Jaguar Range Rover Classics a division of Jaguar Range Rover devoted to preserving the marques heritage. It is a car built to the same design as a 1968 E-Type Jaguar with the 4.2 liter inline 6 cylinder engine replaced with an electric power train. The long hood where the engine once sat makes a perfect place for the batteries with an electric motor and controller behind them. The car is said to be able to do 170 miles on a charge although I would expect real world range to be more like 150 miles. 0-60 time comes in at 5.5 seconds, a little faster than the original which came in at about 7 seconds. The electric is also about 80 Kg lighter than the original.
Jaguar Range Rover Classics managed to do all that without significantly altering the structure of the car. This means that any owner of a classic E-Type Jaguar can get there car converted to electric for driving around London, and still have the option to put the old power train back in when they take their car to classic car shows.
This idea is not that new. The Destiny 2000 was a Pontiac Fiero that was modified to use an electric drive train, although these were fitted with Lead Acid Batteries which was the best option available at the time. The original concept for Phoenix Motors was to take reproductions of classic cars and produce them with electric drive trains. They produced at least one running example but the concept never caught on and they eventually switched to working on an electric pickup truck. Even the Tesla Roadster had some elements of this as it was based on the Lotus Elise although Tesla made significant changes to the design so the two are not easily confused.
I think that this concept is also a good idea for preserving many cars where the owner wants to drive the car rather than show it. The likelihood of failure for an ICE is much greater than for an electric motor and since many older cars have shown to be fairly unreliable the use of electric power can extend the life of such vehicles. For the purest this is sacrilege, but for the guy who just wants to drive around town it is a way to go. You loose the growl of the exhaust but you get a clean quite ride with lots of torque to give you that EV smile when you push down on the go pedal.
Cities in Europe such as Paris and London are already talking about banning gas and diesel cars from the center of the city. It remains to be seen if they are willing to give classic vehicles a pass since they tend to be driven very little. Here in California cars that are older than 25 years become exempt from smog checks on the assumption that these cars are now collector cars which will be driven rarely on the streets and will be maintained in tip-top condition by their owners.
Enzo Ferrari called the E-Type "the most beautiful car ever built" and there are many today who agree with him. Personally I would like to see the E-Type return to our streets in electric form. I know I could never afford one, but it can dream.
If you want to comment on this topic, email me, but please include your Name, City and State or Country
Audrey in Crystal River, FL Wrote:
We have been converting CLASSICS for 25 years. You have no idea how many people
at car shows that we show these at, have no clue that can be done. I take a 67
Austin and a 56 Ford F 500, all electric to the car shows, and we are absolutely
the hit of the car shows!
Sunday May 20, 2018 My Stay, My Car This week I received a press release from Electra Meccanica about their participation in a program called My Stay, My Car that is offered by the Double Tree Inn located in Victoria, British Columbia. This Hilton property is located close to the ferry terminal and to the location where float planes land. Often its guests arrive on foot and so it has developed an innovative way to allow guests to explore the island.
Guests can request a rental car which is provided through car sharing service Turo. The car must be reserved at least 24 hours before check in and will be waiting for the guest on arrival either by calling a toll free number or through the hotel's web site. When the guest arrives the car will be waiting for them and parking is included in the rental cost of $20 - $30 per day.
Originally My Stay, My Car offered only the Toyota Prius but they have just started offering the Electra Meccanica Solo, a single seat three wheel electric car. It is configured with two wheels at the front and a single wheel at the rear. The car is driven by an AC drive motor powered by a 16.1 KW Lithium Ion battery which allows the car to travel about 100 miles on a charge and hit a top speed of 80 mph.
The Solo rents for just $20 a day which is the same as the cost for valet parking. When you return the car after a trip it will be taken and charged for you so you will have a full tank the next time you want to take the car out. Currently the Double Tree has two chargers on site but they will also have the option to connect to a 110V outlet and charge if both level 2 chargers are already in use. A full charge takes about 3 hours on a level 2 chargers and about 6 hours on a 110V connection so even at 110V it can be easily charged overnight.
Vancouver Island is 62 miles long and 32 miles wide at the widest spot. Victoria sits a the south end of the island so while the car does not have enough range to drive to the other end of the island an back without stopping for a charge, it does have enough range to get to around Victoria and visit some of the main tourist attractions. For example the round trip to Butchart Gardens is just 25 miles, a trip that can be handled with ease. Those that want to travel further could make use of the many public charging stations on the way, especially the ones in Sydney at the north end of the island.
The obvious issue with the Solo is that it only accommodates a single person. That's OK if you arrive alone but not useful for a couple on getaway. I suppose an eco-conscious couple could rent two Solo but I didn't see anything on the web site that allowed this so it may be just something that people travelling alone do. It certainly would not be useful for families.
This is a good idea though. I would like to see this expanded to more hotels. For example wouldn't it be nice to fly up to the San Francisco Bay area and rent a Smart Electric Drive to get around the city. A family could rent out a Pacifica Hybrid if they needed to accommodate a large family. It would also be a good way to introduce people to plug-in vehicles.
Sunday May 13, 2018 Charging Model for Malls Yesterday I was wandering around West LA where I checked 7 different chargers and all of them were in use. I began to get hungry so I stopped by Westside Pavilion Mall to get a bite to eat in the food court and an idea struck me about charging at Malls and Shopping Centers.
Westside Pavilion used to be one of my favorite Malls. It was my place to go on a wet weekend and I have spent hours there walking around the mall while my wife went shopping. They were also one of the early places to support public charging infrastructure and this was the first place I charged and EV when I rented an EV1 from EV Rentals back in 1999. After the car makers crushed most of this generation of EVs these chargers were hardly ever used and while Malls like Century City and Santa Monica Place kept the chargers available Westside Pavilion had them removed.
It has been obvious for some time now that brick and mortar stores are in decline as more and more people switch to buying online. Westside Pavilion is one of the most obvious examples of this. In the last year they have lost both of their anchor stores as Nordstrom and Macy's have moved operations to the more upscale Century City Shopping Center. It is widely expected that the mall will close and be repurposed so I was quite surprised to find a sign that gave a phone number for lease information.
The whole thing got me thinking about charging and how plug-in vehicle ownership is growing at rate much faster than public infrastructure can keep up with, and new and better plug-in cars start to arrive in dealerships, this growth is accelerating. New charger installations have not been keeping up and this leads to a situation like I had yesterday where I couldn't find an available charger near where I was. It should be noted that this area of West LA is very short of chargers.
Earlier in the day I had been to my local supermarket and used my rewards card to get discounts that are offered to card holders. Two of the local store chains, Pavilions and Ralphs, also offer discounts on gas for there rewards customers. Both use the same method of calculating the reward, every dollar spent gets you 5 cents per gallon discount. The discount has to be used by the end of the following month or it is lost.
This discount process actually rewards bad behavior. I don't use that much gas often going for months without refilling and when I do visit the gas station I typically add between 7 and 8 gallons of gas which would be a saving of about 35 - 40 cents. A more typical fill-up, at least here in LA, would be 12 to 16 gallons of gas giving savings of 60 - 80 cents. The bigger the car, the more you save at the pump for the same amount spent at the store rewarding people for using more gas.
I have always been a supporter of using EV charging as a way to bring customers into the store. Khol's was an early adopter of this strategy installing EV charging at their stores to attract plug-in owners. Companies like Whole Foods and Wal-Mart have also used this strategy. Volta, the company that provides the chargers for many of the Whole Food stores around LA have a model that uses advertising to pay for the charger costs.
My thought was to combine a rewards
program, like the ones that are used by supermarkets, with EV charging designed to
bring customers into Malls and Shopping Centers. In this case the user
could have a rewards card for the Malls that they frequent regularly. The
rewards card does not have to be unique to the company but could be done through
an independent company like Plenti who manage a common rewards program for a
number of customers.
The program would work like this. The Mall or Shopping Center would install a group of chargers that would be available for a fee of say 25 cents per KWHr. People who have the location's reward card would earn, say, 3 KWHrs free for each $100 they spend at participating locations. Additional charging would be billed at the appropriate rate. The more people spent at participating locations the more free charging they would earn.
The downside here is that people may have to carry around a whole bunch of different rewards cards. Having said that it should be noted that people already do this although many locations allow you to use a phone number instead of scanning the rewards card. Another issue is that the availability of rewards will encourage people to use the chargers when they normally would not need to charge. This may cause bad will if people cannot find a charger and as a result loose their accumulated free KWHrs at the end of the month.
The use of charger availability as an incentive to shop brick and mortar stores is a way that can help get people back into stores. Lets face it, shopping online is both easy and convenient. People now need an incentive to get out from behind a computer and visit a store. I can't help but wonder if Westside Pavilion would have fared batter if they had ungraded their charger infrastructure rather than removing it.
Sunday May 6, 2018 Shorting Tesla
Tesla released its results for the first quarter of 2018 and while these
results exceeded analysts expectations there has been a fall in stock prices.
This has been accompanied by another round of investors shorting Tesla stock.
First lets take a look at Tesla's first quarter results. Tesla posted a loss of $3.35 per share beating analysts estimates of $3.54 per share. Revenue was posted at $3.41 billion for the quarter, again better than analyst expectations of $3.22 billion in revenue. Tesla built 9,776 Model 3s in the first quarter and delivered 8,182. There were a couple of things that were a little bit of a concern, first the cash on hand fell to $2.7 billion although the company reported that they didn't need to raise additional capital as it wasn't needed. This lower number is a result of faster cash burn rates. The second thing is that production of the model 3 reached 2,020 for the last week in March which is way behind the 5,000 cars they had predicted. This number is still well ahead of analyst predictions.
Now, while the numbers for Tesla
are not great they did manage to beat analysts estimates on almost everything
but the stock fell anyway. I guess the old saying came to pass, buy on
rumor sell on fact. There are now a growing number of people who are
shorting Tesla. Elon Musk didn't exactly help this when he cut off a
couple of analysts who were asking questions about Tesla's
finances at the earnings conference call Q&A.
The question now is does shorting Tesla make sense - If my theory is correct, those that short Tesla may make some money in the very short term but it needs to be short term because if they short Tesla for too long they are going to get burned.
My theory is that Tesla is trying to avoid passing the 200,000 mark in sales until after the end of the second calendar quarter. There is a distinct advantage to them from doing that and it all relates to the way that the phase-out of the Federal tax credit works.
Most people think that the tax credit will begin to phase out immediately after the company hits 200,000 cars, so the poor guy that takes delivery of car number 200,001 will only get half of the tax credit, but this is incorrect. The wording says that the phase-out will begin at the start of the second calendar quarter after the calendar quarter where the company hits 200,000. If Tesla delivers its 200,000th car on June 30th, the last day of the 2nd calendar quarter, then the phase out will begin starting October 1. However, if they sell their 200,000th car on July 1, 2018 then the phase-out will not begin until January 1, 2019. This does not have much of an impact on Model 3 sales but will probably have a major impact on Model S and Model X sales as these vehicles do not have long wait times for delivery and have good profit margins for Tesla.
Here is what I expect to see. I expect that production in May will stay pretty low especially as Tesla are going to do a long shutdown this month to fix "issues that are causing production delays". We will then see production rates start to increase rapidly in June. Tesla will make its 200,000th delivery some time in early July after which production will really begin to take off. Investors who have short positions on Tesla at the end of June will get seriously burned.
Sunday April 29, 2018 China has Huge Lead in Electric Buses This week I read an article on Bloomberg about how electric buses were cutting oil consumption to the point where it was beginning to hurt the oil industry. While this may be true the real story highlighted by the article was the huge lead that China was developed in the electric bus industry.
China has a big problem, as industry has grown at incredible rates its cities have become extremely polluted. Polluted to the point where it is estimated that 1.6 million people die prematurely each year due to pollution related health issues.
LA had a similar, though not quite so severe, problem. Even though LA relies much less heavily on public transportation that cities in China it was recognized that diesel buses were a big source of pollution, especially small particulate pollution which has been linked to many health problems including respiratory had heart illnesses. To solve the problem LA mandated that all its city buses would be converted to run on much cleaner compressed natural gas (CNG). Both Santa Monica and Culver City also followed suit by converting their bus fleets to natural gas.
China also recognized that public
transportation needed to be cleaned up but instead of following LA and using CNG
they tried something different; electric buses. In 2011 they launched a
pilot program with BYD in the city of Shenzhen. The results were
quite dramatic, while pollution continued to climb in China's major cities the
air in Shenzhen actually got cleaner. The pilot project became a full
scale replacement of diesel buses and by the end of 2017 all of the buses in the
city had been replaced by electric buses.
The experience in Shenzhen has been so positive that China is now repeating the process in other major cities. It is estimated that they are now replacing diesel buses at a rate of about 9,500 every 5 weeks. To get an idea of the scale of what is happening this is the equivalent of replacing the whole of the London bus fleet every 5 weeks. By the end of 2017 there were 385,000 electric buses in service around the world and 99% of these are in China.
This gives the Chinese electric bus manufacturers a huge advantage in both economies of scale and in on road experience, which will allow them to manufacture buses cheaper and deal with the real world issues that come out of operating electric bus fleets. China is now the world leader in electric bus technology while other countries struggle to play catch-up.
Adding electric buses to a fleet is not always easy. The high cost of the battery pack means that the up-front cost to buy an electric bus much higher than the cost of a diesel or CNG bus. The costs are recouped over time because running costs, including both fuel costs and the service costs are much cheaper. This also means that there will be less time off the road for vehicles as electric buses don't need oil changes and other time consuming maintenance. Regenerative braking also means less need for brake system overall and replacement brake pads. There is some uncertainty; the likely need to replace the battery pack at least once during the service life of the bus. Battery prices are currently falling at a very fast rate but in a lot of cases we don't really know how long a battery pack will last, so this adds uncertainty to the overall cost, and most financial guys don't like uncertainty.
The need for cleaner air is beginning to win out and cities around the world are now starting to add electric buses to their fleets. London now has four routes that are fully serviced by BYD electric buses and are planning to roll out many more over the next few years. BYD even showed off an electric version of the famous London double decker busses. This one has a range of 180 miles which means it can operate all day on many London routes without needing to recharge. London plans to eventually replace all of its buses with zero emission buses.
In the US things have started off a little slower. Here in Los Angeles the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) approved the purchase of 35 electric buses for the Orange line in the San Fernando Valley in July 2017 later approving an additional 5 buses. These buses will be manufactured by New Flyer America, a Canadian owned bus manufacturer based here in the US. This is part of a plan to convert all 2,200 MTA buses to zero emissions by 2030.
BYD will also be supplying buses to Los Angeles as it replaces 14 aging diesel buses, and add six additional buses to the fleet used to shuttle passengers between terminals at LAX. They will be using 60 foot articulated electric buses will raise the total number of zero emission shuttle busses at LAX to 32 The buses will be built in a BYD facility located in Lancaster, CA about 75 miles north of LAX. With the provision of the new buses LAX will have the largest fleet of electric shuttle buses of any airport in the world.
It is clear that China has taken a huge leap forward in electric bus production and will likely continue to dominate this segment. Other bus makers are also moving toward electric bus manufacture but will have to play catch-up, while many government bodies are slow to take up this new technology, preferring the lower up-front cost of diesel, rather than the long term cost advantage and intangible savings from lost productivity and higher medical that happens when diesel is used.
Sunday April 22, 2018 Electrified Roads This week Twitter has been awash with tweets with links to an article in the Guardian titled "World's first electrified road for charging vehicles opens in Sweden". The article is about an experiment being conducted on a 1.2 mile stretch of highway where an electric strip has been installed to allow vehicles to charge as the travel along the road.
The concept is nothing new, it is the same concept that is used to power the slot racers I played with as a boy. This time, for the first time I am aware of, the idea has been applied full scale on a public highway. A metal strip has been embedded in the road and carries an electric current. Cars equipped with a special movable arm can connect to the metal strip and pick up current to both power the car and charge the batteries. For safety the metal strip is actually buried about 6 inches below ground and even when the road was flooded with salt water the voltage at the surface was only 1 volt. The track is divided into sections of about 50 yards and each section is only electrified when a vehicle is over that section. When the vehicle comes to a halt the current is switched off.
This system is very similar to the third rail system used in subway systems like the London Underground. It's more practical for road vehicles than the overhead wires that are used to electrify surface rail systems, and was a common sight when trams and trolley busses were used extensively for public transportation.
While this is the first time that I am aware of that a metal strip system for powering electric cars on the highway has been tested, the Guardian is wrong to suggest that this is the first time a road has been electrified for this purpose. There is currently a test being conducted in the UK using a different and, in my opinion, a more promising solution, using inductive charging.
Inductive charging uses a process called induction where an electrical current in a circuit creates a moving magnetic field which can then create a current in another circuit close by. It is actually the principle that makes transformers and electric motor work. This can be used to transfer power from one circuit to another wirelessly.
This process was the basis for the inductive charging system adopted for the EV1 and the first generation RAV4-EV. The latest round of electric cars use a conductive charging system where the power is fed directly to the charger but this required an physical connection. The Swedish system also uses a physical connection. The system being tested in the UK embeds loops of wire under the roadway. When a vehicle passes over the loop an electrical current is induced in the vehicle's charging system and the vehicle's batteries are charged.
Tests of this kind of system have been conducted before, most notably on a stretch of interstate 8 in San Diego County here in California and also in Korea. So far the Koreans have taken this the farthest using the system to charge buses in some municipalities. In this case they don't electrify the whole road, just a stretch at each stop. When the bus comes to the stop it pulls over the section of road fitted with loops. The batteries are given a charge at about 100 KW with charging efficiency of about 85%. This allows the bus to run the complete 15 miles route with a battery pack about 1/3 the size that would normally be required.
The advantages of being able to power the car and charge the batteries where driving are pretty obvious. Range issues become non-existent. There is no longer a need to stop for a lengthy time to charge the batteries you just keep driving until you are ready to take a break and that break is no longer governed by how long it takes to charge or if the charger is available when you arrive.
Inductive charging from the road also means that you need less batteries. For most people a car like the Honda Clarity BEV with an 80 mile range is fine as a daily driver but would be a bit of a pain if you wanted to drive the 120 miles from Los Angeles to San Diego. With inductive charging you can now do the drive with no worries and arrive in San Diego with a full charge. Even if you use most of your 80 mile range while staying in San Diego you can still make the drive back without recharging and arrive back in LA with a full charge to take you home after leaving the highway.
I see charging as you drive as being inevitable. It is not a matter of if but of when. I expect inductive charging to be the method of choice. While it is not the most efficient means of getting electricity into the vehicle it is the most convenient way to do it. It is likely that bus routes will be the first to use this technology in a manner similar to that used now in Korea, but eventually it will be deployed to the highway. Roads will be powered by solar and wind energy providing clean reliable transportation.
Sunday April 15, 2018 Beverly Hills Policy Change Follow-up Two weeks ago I reported on the change that the City of Beverly Hills had made to their charger policy banning plug-in hybrids from using the city owned chargers. I wanted to see the impact that it made on charger utilization and so I have been monitoring some of the charger locations to see how the change impacted charger utilization.
The reason for the change appears to be that pure EV drivers have been complaining that they could not get a charge when they needed it because the chargers were being use by plug-in hybrids so the response was to ban plug-in hybrids from using the chargers. They also added charging fees that would offset the cost of electricity and also make it very expensive to stay longer than 2 hours at the charger.
The new policy went into effect on the morning of April 2 including new signage and flyers posted by the elevators warning of the change. I visited one of my favorite charging locations about 8:30 on the first morning. This would be the time that I would normally pick up my car after charging. This location is one of those that has been updated from the old J1772 plus 110v outlet to the power sharing units with two J1772 connectors. Three of the charging bays were in use but all three had PHEVs charging there. The forth slot, which is also designated a disabled slot, was vacant..
Later that day I checked out a couple of other spots and I found only 1 EV, a Tesla actively charging. I did come across a Honda Clarity Electric that was connected but apparently was full as there was no active charging. There was a BMW i3 with range extender (not a battery only electric vehicle) charging and in all the location I checked there were available chargers.
Over the following two weeks I gradually saw the number of Plug-in hybrids diminish but these were not replaced with battery only electric vehicles, they were replaced with empty charging bays. PHEVs continued to charge at the chargers in ever diminishing numbers. For the most part the ones remaining were those that were considered Range Extended electric vehicles like the Chevy Volt and i3 REx although Yesterday afternoon I did see a Pacifica Hybrid charging at the Beverly Hills public library.
What I did see was BEVs continuing to treat these chargers as convenient parking spots. On several occasions I came across one that was either not connected or connected but either full or on a timer so they were not actively charging. Last Friday I checked out the charging station in the city owned lot next door to Whole Foods and both charger slots were occupied by Teslas but neither if them were connected to the charger. It was really frustrating driving home on Friday night with the gas engine running, knowing that there were loads of unused chargers and chargers being blocked by BEVs, but I wasn't being allowed to charge my car.
During the whole time that I was monitoring the chargers I did not see a single car with a traffic citation leaving me to wonder if I just hadn't been there at the right time, or if it was that the chargers are now fee based that was keeping people away. In the past Beverly Hills traffic enforcement had never bothered to police the chargers which lead to a lot of abuse. What I didn't see was hoards of BEVs using the chargers now that they are not being blocked by Plug-in Hybrids. In fact I saw almost as many BEVs blocking chargers as I did actually charging.
While I am sure that the chargers no longer being free has an impact on the number of people using them, I do see people using more expensive charger options. For example at Westfield's Century City they charge 96 cents per hour which for a typical PHEV is about 30 cents per KWhr v 25 cents per KWhr in Beverly Hills yet their chargers are almost always fully occupied. Yesterday I visited Bristol Farms in West Hollywood. The EVGo Level 2 chargers there are $1.50 per hour. There was a Chevy Bolt charging there with one charger available, and a BMW i3 was using the DC fast charger.
It looks to me like those BEV
owners who were complaining about not being able to charge were really thinking
that they deserved a free charge more than the PHEV owner. It all depends
on what your objectives are for having public chargers. If it is to
maximize the number of electric miles driven then clearly shutting out the cars
that most need the charge is counterproductive. If your objective is to be
a lifeline so that battery only electric vehicles can have somewhere to charge
if they stray beyond the point where they can get home, then the Beverly Hills
new policy makes sense, but you are basically penalizing half of all Plug-in
drivers because a few drivers made bad choices. With the latest cars having
ranges of well over 100 miles, and the ability to fast charge, then this seems
to be a throwback to 1997 when range was limited and public infrastructure was
So what should Beverly Hills be doing. First they should get rid of the stupid rule that bans plug-in hybrids from charging at their charging stations. This will increase electric miles driven which benefits everyone. They need to be more active in policing the chargers making sure that if there is a vehicle parked in the charging bay and not connected it gets ticketed and/or towed. If they are really concerned about lack of charging for battery only electric vehicles they should consider adding some DC fast chargers.
They should leave the price structure in place. Based on 4 miles of range per KWhr and gas in the area at around $3.39 per gallon, 25 cents is the equivalent of the cost to fuel an ICE car that gets 59 mpg which is about a wash for my Prius Plug-in but better for most people.
As for me, I've been burning more gas than usual but I have also being spending less than usual too since I no longer feel an obligation to do business in Beverly Hills. Over the last 2 weeks I have spent approximately $100 less in Beverly Hills than I normally would have. Some of this has gone to businesses in West La and West Hollywood, and some have just been reductions in spending from things like making my own lunch instead of buying lunch in Beverly Hills. This all provides me with some savings that will offset the extra cost of gas.
Well, I am off to do some shopping in West LA where I anticipate spending around $150 - $200, about half of which would have been spent in Beverly Hills had charging been available for me there.
Sunday April 8, 2018 March 2018 EV Sales Another month, another sales record. March 2018 was not only the best March on record for EV sales but the best month ever for EV Sales. The last time that EV sales have not set a year over year record for a month was in May 2016 which fell just 173 cars short of May 2015. Overall an estimated 26,373 plug-in cars were sold in March, beating the previous all time record set in December 2017 when an estimated 26,107 cars were sold.
It should be noted that several manufacturers have stopped breaking out plug-in sales for models that have a plug-in version. This includes Hyundai/Kia, Mercedes-Benz and BMW. To fill in the gaps I am relying on the good folks at InsideEV who have had a track record for pretty accurate estimates of sales from the likes of Tesla and Fiat.
Tesla never gives out how many cars they sell each month but InsideEV does a pretty good job of estimating their overall monthly sales. In the first month of the quarter Tesla always focuses on international sales so domestic volume is typically at its lowest . The second month of the quarter on the other hand usually sees medium sales as Tesla does a mixture of domestic and international sales. In the third quarter Tesla usually focuses on domestic sales in a rush to meet quarterly sales estimates. In March Tesla sales were an estimated 10,020 cars.
After selling an estimated 1,125 Model S sedans in February, sales in March Climbed to an estimated 3,375 cars. This was down just a little from the 3,450 Model S sales in March 2017. It appears that Tesla is diverting resources away from Model S production to the Model 3.
Sales of the Model X in March was an estimated 2,825 cars. This was up a a little from the 2,750 sales in March 2017. Previously in February Tesla had sold an estimated 875 cars.
It appears that Tesla is starting to resolve its issues with the ramp up production of the Model 3 and appear to be close to reaching 1000 cars per week on a consistent basis. This translated to March sales of an estimated 3,820 cars. Previously in February they delivered 2,485 cars. It remains to be seen how quickly sales will continue to ramp up over the next few months but I am of the opinion that Tesla is ramping up slowly so they don't hit the 200,000 sales mark until July which will preserve the full $7,500 Federal tax credit through the end of this year.
After selling a disappointing 983 cars in February, Volt sales increased to a 1,782 cars in march. This is the first time since selling 1,745 cars in June, 2017 that the Volt has actually outsold the Bolt.
Sales of the Chevy Bolt have been
increasing steadily each month since April setting new monthly sales records
every month. This run finally, though not unexpectedly, came to an end in
January with sales of 1,117 cars. Sales in February increased somewhat to
1424 cars and climbed even further to 1,774 cars in March. GM has announced that it is planning to increase production
of the Bolt in the coming months.
Cadillac managed to sell 17 CT6 PHEV in March down a little from the 24 cars they sold in February.
In March GM sold a total of 3,573 plug-in cars.
Toyota continued to do well with the Prius Prime falling just short of selling three thousand cars in March with sales of 2,922 cars after selling 2,050 cars in February. The base Prius Prime is priced such that after the Federal Tax credit it is actually cheaper than the base Prius model. The Prius Prime is still not available nationwide.
Toyota is putting its money into Fuel Cell cars and in March they sold 83 Mirai FCEVs. By my reckoning, since they went on sale in January 2016, Toyota has sold a total of 3,209 Mirai.
BMW sales have been all over the map for the past year or so and now they have stopped breaking out sales of their models that are plug-in versions of other models. This is going to make the estimation of plug-in sales quite difficult. In March it is estimated that they sold a total of 2,662 cars spread across their seven plug-in models.
Sales of the i3 in particular have been all over the place, varying from a low of just 182 cars in January, 2016 to a high of 1,479 in July 2016. Februart saw sales of 623 cars but sales Jumped to 992 cars in March.
I'm not sure what happened to the BMW i8 but sales seem to have totally tanked. They used to traded in the 150 - 200 range but recently they have only managed to trade in the 20 - 60 range. In March they stayed in this range with sales of 47 cars up fom the 38 cars they sold in February.
The BMW X5 xDrive40e sales have also been up and down but now seem to have moved back into their old selling range of 400 - 600 but recently they have only been trading in the 200 - 400 range. In March they sold an estimated 627 cars. Previously in February an estimated 450 cars were sold.
Sales of the 330e also increased a little in March to 202 cars after selling 179 cars in February.
The BMW 530e which set a new all time sales record selling 872 cars in November after selling 583 cars in October. There was a slight pullback in December but they sill managed to sell 706 cars, then in January sales plummeted to just 224 cars but rebounded to an estimated 368 cars in February and increased further to 689 cars in March.
Sales of the BMW 740e is expected to remain low for the rest of this year as the car is basically sold out so the US only received a token inventory. In March they sold an estimated 31 cars after selling an estimated 48 cars in February.
The one bright spot for BMW in January was sales for the Mini Countryman PHEV which set an all time high month selling 127 cars. February was yet another monthly high with estimated sales of 178 cars. This must have depleted inventory as sales dropped to just 74 cars in March.
With sales of the next generation Nissan Leaf just getting started sales of the Nissan Leaf reached a low point in December with only 102 cars being sold. In January sales picked up a bit hitting 150 cars but jumped to 895 cars in February. In March sales finally topped the one thousand level again when sales hit 1,500 cars. Nissan claim to have 13,000 orders for the Leaf so I expect sales go back to the 1000+ range beginning in March.
Honda returned to the plug-in market in full force when they started selling the plug-in hybrid version of the Clarity at the end of November. In March Honda sold 1,109 plug-in Vehicles. In contrast to some other manufacturers they have also begun breaking out sales for each of the different Clarity models.
Sales of the Clarity electric got off to a surprisingly good with 507 cars being sold in December, after November sales of an estimated 439. In January sales fell to 262 units and the trend continued falling to just 104 in February. It looks like Honda just hasn't been shipping new inventory and sales of the Clarity BEV fell to just 48 cars as many dealers reported no inventory at all during the month.
Sales of the PHEV seem to be doing very well with sales of 1,061 cars in March making it the 8th best selling plug-in for the month. Previously in February 881 cars were sold. The Honda PHEV seems like a really excellent car so I expect to see good sales assuming Honda provides enough dealer inventory.
Like Toyota, Honda is also investing big-time in Fuel Cell Vehicles and in February they reported sales of 121 cars. For the second month in a row the it outsold the Toyota Mirai.
With the C-Max Energi being phased out and no new plug-in to replace it Ford sales were expected to drop but they still did quite well selling 1,024 cars in March.
Ford's best selling plug-in is typically the Fusion Energi and March was no exception with sales of 782 cars down just a little from the 794 cars sold in February 794.
Sales for the C-Max Energi fell in March to 105 cars after selling 142 cars in February. Ford has already halted production of the C-Max Energi so sales numbers will continue to fall as remaining inventory is depleted.
After two months of trading below its normal range of 100 to 200 cars the Ford Focus EV returned to normal sales levels by selling 137 cars in March. Previously in February 70 cars were sold.
Fiat Chrysler America is not a big fan of plug-in cars and do not break out sales separately. InsideEV does a very good job of estimating sales from new car registration and state rebate information so I have been using their estimates. In total Fiat Chrysler delivered an estimated 765 Plug-in Cars in March.
The Fiat 500e is just a compliance car for Fiat Chrysler America, but it is estimated that February sales were 235 cars. In February sales rose slightly to an estimated 285 cars.
Chrysler appears to be making a genuine effort to sell the Pacifica Hybrid Minivan and I even see ads for it on TV from time to time. Sales have been all over the place but this year they seem to have settled in the 300 to 500 range. In February to 450 car were sold and this increased slightly to 480 cars in March.
VW now has 4 plug-in cars being sold across its family of brands. Sales have been a little disappointing though with March sales of just 624 plug-in cars.
The Audi A3 e-Tron used to sell in the 300 - 400 range but lately seem to be trading in the 100 to 300 range. After selling an estiamated 199 cars in February sales climbed a little to 214 cars in March.
The normal selling range for the VW e-Golf is 200 - 400 cars but like Audi they appear have dropped lower this year. In January the sold 179 cars. In February they fell just 2 short of their normal trading range coming in at an estimated 198 cars but in March sales dropped again with only 164 cars delivered to customers.
The Porsche Cayenne S e-Hybrid sold only 23 cars in December, but managed to sell 113 cars in January, 121 in February, and continued their upward trend in March rising to 197 cars.
The Panamera 4 e-hybrid finally showed up in dealerships in February with sales of just 1 car. Sales picked up a little in March reaching 49 cars.
I've always said that the Kia Soul EV should be a good seller but Kia has always kept inventory constrained on this car. They have normally traded in the 100 - 200 range but last year they sold in the 200 - 300 range for a time. So far this year they have gone back to the 100-200 range with sales of an estimated 115 in January,135 in February, and 157 in March.
Kia also has the Optima PHEV which was expected to go on Sale here in the US starting in December, 2016 but sales didn't actually kick off until January, 2017. In February they sold 95 cars climbing to an estimated 165 cars in March.
Kia also began sales of the Niro PHEV in January and sold 155 cars. Sales improved a little in February climbing to 170 cars, and showed another improvement in March with sales of 227 cars. The Niro PHEV is a plug-in version of the Niro crossover and offers an all electric range of 26 miles.
In total Kia managed to sell an estimated 540 plug-in cars in March.
It appears that Mercedes-Benz is going to discontinue production of the B250e later this year so I expect sales will continue to be low for this vehicle which normally sells in the 40 - 60 range. February was right in the middle of that range with an estimated 49 cars being sold, but sales in March dropped to just 33 cars.
Sales of Mercedes Benz's first plug-in hybrid model the S550e PHEV appeared to have settled into the range of 40 - 60 cars but recently sales have been in the 10 - 30 car range with December seeing 26 cars being sold. In January sales fell to just 13 cars but recovered in February when an estimated 40 cars were sold. The recovery didn't last and sales in March dropped to just 11 cars.
Sales of the Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e plug-in hybrid SUV have recently hovered in the 30 - 60 range. In February sales hit an estimated 70 but sales leaped to 181 cars in March.
The Mercedes-Benz C350e has been their best seller in recent months and March was not exception when an estimated 208 cars were sold. Previously in in February when an estimated 172 cars were sold.
In February Mercedes-Benz began selling the GLC 350e Plug-in Hybrid SUV with sales of just 5 units. For its first full months of sales the GLC 350e manage sales of 57 units.
Overall Mercedes-Benz sold 490 Plug-in cars in March.
After many false starts Mitsubishi finally began selling the Outlander PHEV in the US with Sales of 99 cars for December. January was the first full month of sales for the Outlander PHEV and an impressive 300 cars were sold. They followed that by increasing sales to 323 cars in February and 373 in March. The Outlander PHEV is an SUV that offers an EPA estimated 22 miles of all electric range.
Sales of the Hyundai Sonata PHEV were135 cars in November climbing to 195 cars in December but falling back to 52 cars in January and 65 in February. In March they delivered an additional 78 cars to customers. Like sister company Kia they only stock small amounts of cars in dealer inventory in a limited number of states and while it is technically available nationwide in most states it has to be special ordered.
Sales of the Hyundai Ioniq Electric seem to have stabilized in the 30 to 80 range. In March they sold 60 cars after selling 56 in February. The Ioniq Electric has a range of around 120 miles with a price starting at less than $31,000 before incentives so it should sell reasonably well if Hyundai can get cars to dealerships.
In January Hyundai finally began delivery of the Ioniq plug-in hybrid delivering 22 cars. In February this climbed to 30 cars they took a massive jump to 218 cars in march. The Ioniq PHEV delivers 29 miles of all electric range and has an impressive combined fuel economy of 52mpg.
In March Hyundai sold a total of 356 plug-in cars.
The Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV normally sells in the 100 - 200 range. In January they fell 1 short of the normal trading range selling just 99 cars. February saw a return to the normal trading range when 126 vehicles when sold, but in March sales dropped back to 93 SUVs.
Volvo also sells the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid SUV. In March they sold 167 cars after selling 140 cars in February.
In September Volvo introduced their first plug-in hybrid sedan, the S90 T8 PHEV selling 5 units. October saw sales increase to 28 cars with a further increase to 32 cars in November and 52 cars in December then falling to 27 cars in January but recovering to 49 cars in February and 52 cars in March.
In March Volvo sold a total of 312 Plug-in Vehicles.
Smart currently has the distinction of being at the bottom of the list in terms of number of plug-in sales this month. Considering that they sold 103 plug-in cars during the month of March, this says quite a bit about the current state of plug-in car sales. In total Smart sold only 110 cars in the US this month so they really close to being an EV only company. Previously in February Smart sold 90 plug-in cars.
2018 got off to a slow start but for plug-in sales. January is historically the slowest month of the year as people rush to buy in December so they can take the Federal tax credit the following March. This means that inventories are typically low going into January leading to lower sales. February, which is also normally a poor month for plug-in car sales, showed a decent uptick in sales volume. Sales usually pick-up in March so we should see some new records smashed. I don't expect things to go really crazy until the 3rd quarter when I expect Tesla sales to head into the stratosphere.
Sunday April 1, 2018 Beverly Hills Charger Discrimination
This week I got a tweet from Chelsea Sexton about changes to the charging
policy in the Beverly Hills city owned parking lots. The policy changes
range from reasonable to a knee jerk reaction that is going to have a negative
impact on electric vehicle miles travelled (eVMT) and air quality.
Over the years I have held up the charging policy set by the city of Beverly Hills as an example that I think should be the basis of policy in most cities. They had a policy that said that vehicles had to be connected for charging purposes, that vehicles couldn't reserve the charger by for example using a timer, and that once charging was complete they vehicle had 1 hour to exit the charger. This policy was both fair to all and provided a good reason for plug-in car owners to visit Beverly Hills; except the rules were never enforced.
Once people realized that there
were no consequences in not following the rules they just ignored the as people
often do. The result was that the chargers were regularly blocked by Plug-in cars that used them as convenient parking spaces.
Cars would sometimes be parked at the charger all day even if they were fully
charged, and in some cases I even saw people do things like drive onto the cable
so it couldn't be used by someone else then come out later and plug-in.
Part of the problem stemmed from the chargers used in some of the Beverly Hills lots. These chargers were the Chargepoint combination chargers that provided a J1772 connector plus a 110V outlet hidden behind a door in the front of the charger. At first many people didn't realized that the outlet was there so they assumed that there were 2 parking spaces but only one charger so it was OK to park in the second space. Those of us that knew about these and carried the supplied charger in there car would not be able to use them because the charger was blocked. Eventually more people began using the 110V outlets but the damage was done and people realizing that they were not going to be ticketed continued to park in the spaces. This led to an issue where chargers were frequently not available especially to NEVs and conversions that only have 110V charging capability.
Eventually to fix this issue the city replaced all of these chargers with the shared power dual head chargers that Chargepoint offers. These chargers have two J1772 connectors. When the first person connects to the unit it provides charging up to 6.6 KW but when a second vehicle connects the charge rate for both connectors drops to 3.3 KW. That is the theory at least but they don't appear to be set up correctly in Beverly Hills. The issue is each location has 2 chargers for a total of 4 J1772 connectors. When a car attaches to the second charger they are set up to drop power to the cars at both chargers so even though there are only 2 cars charging , one at each physical charger and each of these chargers still has another connector available, the charge rate is still dropped to 3.3 KW for each vehicle.
In my case it was even more frustrating as the charge rate on my car would also drop to half even though the my charger only pulls 2.3 KW maximum. Generally the charge rate on my car would drop to 1.2 KW after about 5 minutes although sometimes I saw as long as 15 minutes before the charge rate dropped. This means that I would have to leave my car connected to the charger longer than I would normally and I would still end up without getting a full charge so I would need to visit the chargers more frequently. The result is that the chargers got busier.
This change has also shut out cars that do not support level 2 charging such as NEVs and many electric vehicle conversions that can only charge at a standard 110V outlet.
It appears that some of the more vocal BEV owners have been complaining hard to the City or perhaps a city employee couldn't charge his BEV so the city decided to change its policy.
I have no problem with the first change in policy, instead of charging being free they are going to introduce a fee. Starting April 2, 2018 it will cost 25 cents per Kilowatt hour to charge at the City's 35 public charging stations. The fee is quite reasonable and is the same as tier 2 pricing for Southern California Edison. For me that is about equivalent of $3.17 per gallon of gas which is about 50 cents less than the typical price for a gallon of gas in this area.
The second change attempts to fix the problem of people hogging chargers. There will be a station fee of $6 per hour applied after the second hour. This should stop drivers from staying more than 2 hours at the charger unless they really need a charge. This is a way to stop people from just parking at the charger all day. I've seen this before where a plug-in would be parked all day on a regular basis treating the unit as their own personal charger. The hourly fee would be a deterrent to people parking all day at the charger and eliminate the need for parking enforcement to figure out if the car was fully charged or not. I'm not sure how this will work if people move their car from one charger to the another every 2 hours but I suspect they will get away with it.
Personally I prefer the policy used in Santa Monica which restricts parking at chargers to 4 hours. Santa Monica does actively police their chargers and will ticket cars that are blocking charging spaces or that exceed the 4 hour limit.
The down side to this practice is that it makes it very expensive for a BEV owner who need to get a full charge especially when the charger is going to cut the charge rate in half just because some else connects to another charger.
The third change is the one that I have the big problem with, "The new policy reserves the Citys EV charging stations for battery-only electric vehicles. All other vehicles (including plug-in hybrid electric vehicles) and any vehicle without an active charging session or not connected to a station may be subject to citation and/or towing at the owners expense."
In other words, only BEVs will be allowed to use the chargers in the City of Beverly Hills, all others, including the Chevy Volt and the BMW i3 REx will be barred from using these chargers. This highly discriminatory practice is one that has been tossed around be BEV drivers since the time when EV charging was very scarce. The idea is that Plug-in hybrids have a gas engine so they can safely make it home while BEVs have to be charged or they could run out of battery power before getting home.
The counter argument is that if you have to rely on public charging for your BEV then you have selected the wrong car for you so why should PHEV owners be penalized for your bad decision. After all, most BEVs have 80 miles of range and more recent ones come with as much as 238 miles of range while a PHEV like mine is lucky to get 10 miles of range on a charge which means it needs to be charged more often to drive electric.
This leads us to what the philosophy is for public charging. Are they there as life preservers for people who drive battery only electric cars, or are they there to maximize electric vehicle miles travelled? I think the days where BEVs need a life preservers are long gone and what we really need to do now is to try and reduce carbon footprint and air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels. for that reason what we really need is to increase eVMT and this policy is going to have the exact opposite effect.
I spend quite a lot of time in Beverly Hills and charge there three to 4 times per week using on average a little under 6KWHr per week. I do get to see the city's charging infrastructure on a fairly regular basis and I can say that about 70% of vehicles charging are PHEV. I also see quite a few cars that are blocking chargers and most of the time these are BEVs. PHEVs are more likely to be hogging the chargers although this has become more rare in the past couple of years.
If we except the fact that Plug-in Hybrids typically have less range and so will need to be charged more frequently then it's a pretty good bet that many of these are going to be running on gas more often now that they are not going to be able to charge. I know that I for one will no longer be travelling 1000 miles before filling up.
There may also be an economic downside to this change too but his is more likely to be felt by the businesses in the city than it is for city government. Part of my philosophy, and one that I have promoted in my blogs, is to support businesses that provide free charging. That includes supporting business within a city that provides free charging. It is a good way to bring customers into a location. Since I charge a lot in Beverly Hills I have also moved a good deal of my purchases into the city too. Whenever possible I prefer shopping or dining in Beverly Hills simply because I can get a charge for free so I take the money I would have spent on electric or gas, and quite a bit more, and spend it on other things.
Now I am going to have to go back to spending money on gas and no longer have an obligation to prefer Beverly Hills locations. My dollars will once again go to Shell or Chevron instead of Kelly's Coffee or Whole Foods. I don't want this to sound petty, I am not talking about boycotting shopping in the city because of this policy, it's just that I no longer have a reason to drive into Beverly Hills and have coffee and a pastry while my car charges.
It's difficult to gage how much economic impact this change will have. Will the decline in people driving their PHEVs into Beverly Hills be offset by people with BEVs who feel more comfortable driving into the city now that they are more likely to be able to get a charge? Only time will tell.
The next question is, are there alternatives that could solve these problems?
First I think that the City should have properly policed the charger network in the first place. Second, if they set up the duel head chargers correctly so they only dropped charge when both connections on the physical charger were in use, and did not drop the charge rate on any one connection below 3.3 KW unless the car was requesting less than that, a lot of these issues would be reduced.
Most people who responded to Chelsea's tweet just said that the city needed more chargers and this is probably true. There are better solutions to this issue than just plain banning more than half of all plug-in vehicles from using the chargers. Providing some 110V chargers would be quite adequate for many PHEV drivers as well has those that drive NEVs and conversions.
If the problem really is that the BEVs are not being able to charge then how about providing some fast chargers which would allow BEVs to get a pretty good charge in 30 minutes to an hour. According to Plughare there is only 1 CHadeMo/CCS fast charger in Beverly Hills and that is in a private parking structure that has very expensive parking rates. Another just opened at Bristol Farms in West Hollywood which is right on the border with Beverly Hills. Several more would alleviate the BEV charger problem, at least for the time being.
For me I have already begun to look for destinations that are going to offer me charging and I know that I will be spending more time in Santa Monica and less time in Beverly Hills in the future. I've already found a new destination for when I am in the mood for Chinese food and I am sure I will find plenty more over the next few months.
4/2/2018 Noel added:
I just stopped by one of my favorite charging spots this morning a little after 9am. The signs have been updated to read "battery electric only vehicles BEOV". I did notice one additional statement that said the car must have an "active charging session" meaning that if you car becomes full you can be ticketed and/or towed. 3 of the 4 spaces were occupied, all of them by plug-in hybrids. So far no tickets issued to these drivers. I wonder if they realize they are going to be charged for the session?
4/3/2018 Noel added:
What a difference a day makes. I stopped by the same charging spot today around 8:15 which is about the time I would normally be moving my car after about an hour of charging. Today there were no cars parked there at all, not one single charge connector was in use. I'm not sure if this is because of the fee or because the people who use the spot regularly got ticketed, or hopefully just a warning, yesterday.
Sunday March 25, 2018 More EV Bashing in Forbes Once again Forbes has published an article by Steve Pociask that uses dubious information to bash EVs. In this case, his article is in support of removing the waiver that allows California to apply stricter air pollution reduction standards than those that apply through the clean air act.
Mr. Pociask is the president of The American Consumer Institute which calls itself a "free market think tank" It is set up so that donations are fully tax deductible. I haven't been able to find out anything about who their donors are but given the right wing nature of the ACI I suspect the usual group who are more than likely heavily involved in the fossil fuel industry. There are also going to be telecommunication companies too as the ACI is very vocal in its opposition to net neutrality.
His article is another of those that tries to show that EVs are actually worse for the environment than gas cars even though this has been debunked over and over again. It relies on a couple of debunked studies. One of his links actually points to an article in "What's Up with That", a well know global warming denier site. This article actually does show something we do know, there is a lot of energy needed to create lithium ion batteries and this leads EVs having higher emissions of CO2 during the build phase. What he doesn't tell us is that much of this CO2 production can be offset by using renewable energy. To illustrate, Tesla's Giga Factory in Nevada is powered mostly by a 70 MW solar array with additional power gathered from wind turbines. They even use waste heat from the battery manufacturing process to heat the factory.
The other study used is the one
done by Arthur D. Little in 2015 which shows that while electric cars create
less CO2 over the life of the car it does produce toxins that will cause the
deaths of more humans that if we were all driving ICE cars. These
conclusions come from some very dubious assumptions that drive the study.
The first assumption is that the cars will require a new battery every seven to ten years. This is true for cars powered by lead acid batteries and is pretty close to the mark for the RAV4-EV with NiMH batteries but is not true for hybrid cars with NiMH that have been going along quite well with very few of these cars requiring battery pack replacement. For lithium based chemistries the jury is still out. There have been some issues with reduced battery capacity on the early Nissan Leaf cars but other than that we have no real hard data. The Lithium batteries on the Tesla Roadster, some of which are now approaching 10 years old, appear to be holding up quite well. The issue here is that we just don't have enough data to draw a conclusion.
Another issue with the Arthur D. Little study is that is makes the assumption that people would need to keep an ICE vehicle around to deal with range issues on the electric car. To compensate for this they attribute a certain amount of pollution from driving an ICE to the emissions of an electric car. The problem with this is that what we see is the opposite effect. Most families that have both an EV and an ICE vehicle tend to use the EV whenever possible. In reality, the pollution from the ICE is being reduced because of more use on the electric.
Some of the pollution factors assigned to the electric car is also the old red herring "EVs are powered by coal". Coal is actually in its death throws right now and we are seeing a general drop in the percentage of electricity generated by coal even in states where coal is king. Wind power is now both cheaper and cleaner and is beginning to displace coal powered plants in the middle of the country where wind is plentiful. Here in California, where 40% of all electric cars are bought, we now get only a very small percentage of power from coal while the percentage derived from renewables is increasing at a great rate.
The article also brings up a study done by the National Bureau of Economic Research but this study conveniently excluded down line emissions for producing gasoline which renders any of there findings totally invalid. It should also be noted that while most of their backers of NBER are banks and insurance companies, they also include Exxon Mobile and GM.
The article also goes after the fact that those that can afford electric cars tend to be in a higher income category and tend to get the bulk of the benefit. What they fail to realize is that this is one case where trickle down economics actually works. The price of used electric cars tends to be lower because of the subsides paid to new buyers so this means that those with lesser incomes, who usually buy used anyway, now have an option to get a used EV that is cost equivalent to a used ICE but with much lower running costs.
Once again, Steve Pociask has it all wrong, EVs are cleaner than ICE vehicles and they get cleaner as the electric grid gets cleaner. Battery design and manufacture is also improving so that batteries are lasting longer and less pollution is being generated to produce them. The clean air waiver for California isn't about electric cars though. It's about fixing an air quality issue that had led to California having the worst air quality in the nation for decades. Those of us that have lived here for a long time have seen the progress that is being made and we don't want to go back to air that is even worse, and more damaging to our health, just to put a few more dollars in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry. The waiver needs to stand but if it does not, there are actions that can be taken at the state and city level to keep the improvements moving forward.
Sunday March 18, 2018 Still Hard to Buy a BEV Back in 1999 I tried to buy a BEV and it proved way too hard which is why I founded evfinder.com. While it is much easier now it can still be frustratingly difficult as a friend of mine found out recently while trying to find an all electric car.
His situation is probably not all that uncommon. He had leased his Leaf a little over 3 years ago and at the end of the lease Nissan allowed him to extend the it a little while waiting for the new Nissan Leaf to arrive in dealerships. Like many drivers who have driven electric he doesn't want to go back to an ICE although he does have a family minivan that he is hanging onto for the time being. At the time of the launch, Nissan said they had 13,000 orders for the new Leaf, and as of the end of February they had only delivered about 1,000 cars so pickings at the dealerships are slim.
Tom hasn't been able to find a car that is the right trim level and color for him at the local Nissan dealerships and with only 2 more weeks before he has to return his Leased Leaf, and Nissan being inflexible about another extension even if he does place an order for the Leaf he wants and is waiting for it to arrive. He ruled out the Bolt because he didn't need to 238 mile range and wanted a somewhat lower price point on the car. The price point was also an issue with the e-Golf and the BMW i3. Price, plus the 2 year wait list, also ruled out the Tesla Model 3. He also wanted to stick with pure electric rather than going plug-in hybrid.
Tom is lucky as he lives in Southern California and so he doesn't have the issue with cars not being available here, at least on paper. He has several choices that will fit his daily driving requirements within his budget, the Fiat 500e, Hyundai Ioniq Electric, Smart Electric Drive, Kia Soul EV, and Honda Clarity Electric. The Fiat 500e and Smart electric drive were ruled out up front because they were really too small for the needs of him and his family. Finding a suitable electric car from the remaining three became a challenge.
His first hurdle was finding actual cars on dealer lots. Honda for example have an excellent lease deal on the Clarity electric which is only available for lease anyway. The car fit his needs perfectly, it had the size and range he needed in a package that was well within his budget. The problem was that nobody appeared to have them in stock. He contracted several local dealers in his area and he found very few who were willing to admit that these cars even existed. They wanted to push him into a regular ICE vehicle or perhaps the plug-in hybrid but none could offer him a Clarity Electric.
I did a search checking out the dealerships that were most likely to carry this car such as Scott Robinson in Torrance who was the main Southern California Honda Dealer for the EV+ and the Civic CNG. They had plenty of Clarity PHEV and even a couple of Clarity FCEV but no Clarity Electric. I didn't search all the Honda dealerships in LA and Orange Counties but I did do a pretty good selection and I couldn't find a single Honda Clarity Electric in Inventory.
Next I moved on the Hyundai to see if I could find an Ioniq Electric. It was the same story I found at Honda, dealers had the Ioniq hybrid and the Ioniq PHEV but not the Ioniq Electric. Again I tried a good sample of the local dealers especially the ones I know are large volume dealerships. I even went as far as checking the Hyundai dealership in Palm Springs but could not find a since electric listed. One thing that did surprise me is that in many dealerships I found that they had more PHEV that standard hybrids in stock.
I had a bit better luck with the Kia Soul EV. I found that most dealers I checked had some in stock even if it was just one or two. I even found a dealership in Glendale that had 22 listed in inventory although they did not list any pricing information on their web site, they just asked people to call for pricing.
I have a couple of suggestions for him. Right now there are a few Chevy dealerships that still have some unsold 2017 Bolts in stock. I also came across a few VW e-Golf that were at a lower price point than the normal price and these would probably meet his needs too. I checked several VW dealerships and they also seemed to have one or two e-Golf in stock but I found I had to search around to find them, it wasn't obvious that they were there until I dug around a little.
Tom has recently been looking at deals on Volts which would probably allow him to do most of his driving in electric but he really wants to stay full Battery Electric. His experience looking for cars has been pretty much what we have seen since 1997, car sales personnel who are clueless about electric cars, those that want to push you into a car that makes them the most money which is never the electric model, and dealerships that just don't bother to stock cars. I hope he can find something before he is due to return his Leaf.
Just an update, Tom followed up on a lead I gave him for an unsold 2017 Chevy Bolt that was heavily discounted and is now the proud owner of a very nice blue one.
Sunday March 11, 2018 February 2018 EV Sales Another month, another sales record. February 2018 was the best February on record for EV sales. The last time that EV sales have not set a record month was in May 2016 which fell just 173 cars short of May 2015. Overall an estimated 16,489 plug-in cars were sold in February, about 30% ahead of the previous highest February sales set in 2017 which saw estimated sales of 12,375 cars.
It should be noted that several manufacturers have stopped breaking out plug-in sales for models that have a plug-in version. This includes Hyundai/Kia, Mercedes-Benz and BMW. To fill in the gaps I am relying on the good folks at InsideEV who have had a track record for pretty accurate estimates of sales from the likes of Tesla and Fiat.
Tesla never gives out how many cars they sell each month but Inside EV does a pretty good job of estimating their overall monthly sales. In the first month of the quarter Tesla always focuses on international sales so domestic volume is typically at its lowest . The second month of the quarter on the other hand usually sees medium sales as Tesla does a mixture of domestic and international sales. In the third quarter Tesla usually focuses on domestic sales in a rush to meet quarterly sales estimates. In February Tesla sales were an estimated 4,485 cars.
After selling an estimated 800 Model S sedans in January, sales in February Climbed to an estimated 1125 cars. This was down from the 1750 Model S sales in February 2017. It appears that Tesla is diverting resources away from Model S production to the Model 3.
Sales of the Model X in February was an estimated 875 cars. This was up a little from the 800 sales in February 2017. Previously in January Tesla had sold an estimated 700 cars.
It appears that Tesla is still having issues with the to ramp up production of the Model 3 and they still appear to be struggling to reach 1000 cars per week on a consistent basis. This translated to February sales of an estimated 2,485 cars. Previously in January they delivered 1,875 cars. It remains to be seen how quickly sales will continue to ramp up over the next few months but I am of the opinion that Tesla is ramping up slowly so they don't hit the 200,000 sales mark until July which will preserve the full $7,500 Federal tax credit through the end of this year.
After selling 713 cars in January, Volt sales increased to a disappointing 983 cars in February. Volt sales are being hit from two directions, first it appear that sales of the Chevy Bolt is having a big impact on Chevy Volt sales. The second factor is the arrival of a whole bunch of Plug-in Hybrids that are offering electric only ranges of close to 30 miles which, while nothing close to the 55 miles of range of the Volt, still makes them strong contenders.
Sales of the Chevy Bolt have been
increasing steadily each month since April setting new monthly sales records
every month. This run finally, though not unexpectedly, came to an end in
January with sales of 1,117 cars.
Sales in February increased somewhat to 1424 cars up considerably from the 952 cars sold in
February 2017. GM has announced that it is planning to increase production
of the Bolt in the coming months.
Cadillac only managed to sell 6 CT6 PHEV in January but sales climbed back to a more normal 24 in February.
In February GM sold a total of 2,431 plug-in cars.
Toyota continued to do well with the Prius Prime selling 2,050 cars in February after selling 1,496 cars in January. The Prius Prime is priced such that after the Federal Tax credit it is actually cheaper than the base Prius model. The Prius Prime is still not available nationwide.
Toyota is putting its money into Fuel Cell cars and in January they sold 166 Mirai FCEVs. By my reckoning, since they went on sale in January 2016, Toyota has sold a total of 3,126 Mirai.
BMW sales have been all over the map for the past year or so and now they have stopped breaking out sales of their models that are plug-in versions of other models. This is going to make the estimation of plug-in sales quite difficult. In January it is estimated that they sold a total of 1,885 cars spread across their seven plug-in models.
Sales of the i3 in particular have been all over the place, varying from a low of just 182 cars in January, 2016 to a high of 1,479 in July 2016. January saw sales of 382 cars but sales Jumped to 623 cars in February as new inventory arrived in the US.
I'm not sure what happened to the BMW i8 but sales seem to have totally tanked. They used to traded in the 150 - 200 range but recently they have only managed to trade in the 20 - 60 range, although December did see sales climb to 80 cars. In January sales dropped back to 32 cars which has become the norm for the last six months. February saw sales improve a little to 38 cars.
The BMW X5 xDrive40e used to trade in the range of 400 - 600 but recently they have only been trading in the 200 - 400 range. In September sales were 333 cars and this fell by 10 cars in October to 323 cars. Then in November sales went wild leaping to 929 cars setting a new sales record. I would have expected sales to have fallen substantially in December due to lack of inventory but BMW still managed to move an additional 832 cars. In January sales dropped back to just 261 cars but improved again in February to an estimated 450 cars.
Sales of the 330e also did well in November selling 477 cars, the second best month ever. In December sales pulled back a little to 363 cars and this trend continued in January as sales dropped further to just 101 cars. February saw a bit of a rebound as an estimated 179 cars were sold.
The same thing happened with the BMW 530e which set a new all time sales record selling 872 cars in November after selling 583 cars in October. Again there was a slight pullback in December but they sill managed to sell 706 cars, then in January sales plummeted to just 224 cars but rebounded to an estimated 368 cars in February.
Sales of the BMW 740e is expected to remain low for the rest of this year as the car is basically sold out so the US only received a token inventory. In November sales fell just 3 short of tying the record sales month when 120 cars were sold. December sales pulled back to 67 cars and dropped further in January to just 18 cars then rebounded to an estimated 48 cars in February.
The one bright spot for BMW in January was sales for the Mini Countryman PHEV which set an all time high month selling 127 cars. February was yet another monthly high with estimated sales of 178 cars.
Ford saw a bit of a sales recovery in February selling 1,006 plug-in cars split across its three models.
Ford's best selling plug-in is typically the Fusion Energi and February was no exception with sales of 794 cars. Previously in January 640 cars were sold.
Sales for the C-Max Energi fell in February to 142 cars after selling 234 cars in January. Ford has already halted production of the C-Max Energi so sales numbers will continue to fall as remaining inventory is depleted.
The Ford Focus EV fell below its usual range of 100 to 200 cars selling 73 cars in January and continued the downward trend in February selling just 70 cars.
Honda returned to the plug-in market in full force when they started selling the plug-in hybrid version of the Clarity at the end of November. In February Honda sold 985 plug-in Vehicles. In contrast to some other manufacturers they have also begun breaking out sales for each of the different Clarity models.
Sales of the Clarity electric got off to a surprisingly good with 507 cars being sold in December, after November sales of an estimated 439. In January sales fell to 262 units and the trend continued falling to just 104 in February.
Sales of the PHEV started right at the end of the November and Honda says that it delivered just 5 cars. Honda reported sales of 898 cars for December and in January they sold an additional 594 cars and sales climbed again in February to 881 cars. The Honda PHEV seems like a really excellent car so I expect to see good sales assuming Honda provides enough dealer inventory.
Like Toyota, Honda is also investing big-time in Fuel Cell Vehicles and in February they reported sales of 243 cars.
With sales of the next generation Nissan Leaf just getting started sales of the Nissan Leaf reached a low point in December with only 102 cars being sold. In January sales picked up a bit hitting 150 cars but jumped to 895 cars in February. Nissan claim to have 13,000 orders for the Leaf so I expect sales go back to the 1000+ range beginning in March.
Fiat Chrysler America is not a big fan of plug-in cars and do not break out sales separately. InsideEV does a very good job of estimating sales from new car registration and state rebate information so I have been using their estimates. In total Fiat Chrysler delivered an estimated 685 Plug-in Cars in February.
The Fiat 500e is just a compliance car for Fiat Chrysler America, but it is estimated that in January sales were 210 cars. In February sales rose slightly to an estimated 235 cars.
After a rocky start, sales of the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Minivan seem to be taking off again after a glitch in July where sales were just 125 cars. August got back to what appears to be more normal sales of 300 to 500 cars per month with sales of 345 cars and in September sales improved further to 475 cars. Sales in October were previously misstated at 1,175 but have since been adjusted to 875 minivans being sold. Unfortunately the plant where they are made was closed down for re-tooling for most of October so I was expecting sales in November to be hard hit by lack of inventory but they still managed to sell an estimated 570 cars. In December with inventory beginning to arrive back at dealerships sales increased to 720 cars, while January saw sales drop back to 375 cars, but ramp up again in February to 450 car.
VW now has 4 plug-in cars being sold across its family of brands. With the 2018 model year cars now arriving, February saw sales up slightly to 519 units.
The Audi A3 e-Tron normally sells in the 300 - 400 range. Now that the 2018 Models have started to arrive sales returned to normal selling levels in December as 270 cars were sold. In January sales dropped back to 145 cars and in February sales increased to an estimated 199 cars.
The normal selling range for the VW e-Golf is 200 - 400 cars and in July sales came in right in the middle of the normal range at 308 cars. Sales in August were just a little higher at 317 cars but fell to 187 in September. They moved back into the normal selling range in October selling 203 cars and sales increased in November to 289 cars and 343 cars in December then fell back in January to 179 cars. In February they fell just 2 short of their normal trading range coming in at an estimated 198 cars.
The Porsche Cayenne S e-Hybrid sold only 23 cars in December, but managed to sell 113 cars in January and an estimated 121 in February.
The Panamera 4 e-hybrid finally showed up in dealerships this month with sales of just 1 car. There were no sales of the Panamera S e-hybrid.
I've always said that the Kia Soul EV should be a good seller but Kia has always kept inventory constrained on this car. They have normally traded in the 100 - 200 range but last year they sold in the 200 - 300 range for a time. So far this year they have gone back to the 100-200 range with sales of an estimated 115 in January and 135 in February.
Kia also has the Optima PHEV which was expected to go on Sale here in the US starting in December, 2016 but sales didn't actually kick off until January, 2017. In January they sold 86 cars climbing to an estimated 95 cars in February.
Kia also began sales of the Niro PHEV in January and sold 155 cars. Sales improved a little in February climbing to 170 cars. The Niro PHEV is a plug-in version of the Niro crossover and offers an all electric range of 26 miles.
In total Kia managed to sell an estimated 400 plug-in cars in February.
After many false starts Mitsubishi finally began selling the Outlander PHEV in the US with Sales of 99 cars for December. January was the first full month of sales for the Outlander PHEV and an impressive 300 cars were sold. They followed that by increasing sales to 323 cars in February. The Outlander PHEV is an SUV that offers an EPA estimated 22 miles of all electric range.
The Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV normally sells in the 100 - 200 range. In January they fell 1 short of the normal trading range selling just 99 cars. February saw a return to the normal trading range when 126 vehicles were sold.
Volvo is one of the companies that has committed to electrifying their entire lineup of cars. Toward this end they began selling the XC60 PHEV at the end of July. December saw a monthly sales record of 174 cars but January fell a little bit to 109 cars and February was right in the middle with 140 cars. The XC60 PHEV is an SUV that offers an EPA estimated 18 miles of all electric range.
In September Volvo introduced their first plug-in hybrid sedan, the S90 T8 PHEV selling 5 units. October saw sales increase to 28 cars with a further increase to 32 cars in November and 52 cars in December then falling to 27 cars in January but recovering to 49 cars in February
In February Volvo sold a total of 315 Plug-in Vehicles.
It appears that Mercedes-Benz is going to discontinue production of the B250e later this year so I expect sales will continue to be low for this vehicle which normally sells in the 40 - 60 range. February was right in the middle of that range with an estimated 49 cars being sold. Previously in January 40 cars were sold.
Sales of Mercedes Benz's first plug-in hybrid model the S550e PHEV appeared to have settled into the range of 40 - 60 cars but recently sales have been in the 10 - 30 car range with December seeing 26 cars being sold. In January sales fell to just 13 cars but recovered in February when an estimated 40 cars were sold.
Sales of the Mercedes Benz GLE 550e plug-in hybrid SUV have recently hovered in the 30 - 60 range. In December they sold 82 cars, just 1 short of the record high month set in December, 2016 when 83 cars were sold. In January sales fell back to a more normal 44 cars but sales in February hit an estimated 90 cars which would be a new monthly record if the estimate is correct.
The Mercedes-Benz C350e set a new sales record in August selling 212 cars. This would have seriously depleted inventory and in September sales dropped to a more normal 126 cars then tumbled further to just 49 cars in October, 16 cars in November, and 14 cars in December. January saw something or an improvement as sales climbed to 29 cars and the trend continued in February when an estimated 90 more cars were sold.
Overall Mercedes Benz sold 269 Plug-in cars in February.
Sales of the Hyundai Sonata PHEV were135 cars in November climbing to 195 cars in December but falling back to 52 cars in January and 65 in February. Like sister company Kia they only stock small amounts of cars in dealer inventory in a limited number of states and while it is technically available nationwide in most states it has to be special ordered.
Sales of the Hyundai Ioniq also seem to have faltered in November with just 23 cars sold after selling 28 cars in October but they ended the year with an all time high month in December selling 79 cars. In January sales dropped back to just 35 cars but climbed again in February to 56 cars. The Ioniq Electric has a range of around 120 miles with a price starting at less than $31,000 before incentives so it should sell reasonably well if Hyundai can get cars to dealerships.
In January Hyundai finally began delivery of the Ioniq plug-in hybrid delivering 22 cars. In February this climbed to 30 cars. The Ioniq PHEV delivers 29 miles of all electric range and has an impressive combined fuel economy of 52mpg.
In February Hyundai sold a total of 151 plug-in cars.
Smart currently has the distinction of being at the bottom of the list in terms of number of plug-in sales this month. Considering that they sold 90 plug-in cars during the month of February, this says quite a bit about the current state of plug-in car sales. In total Smart sold only 106 cars in the US this month so they really are moving towards being an EV only company. Previously in January Smart sold 84 plug-in cars.
2018 got off to a slow start but for plug-in sales. January is historically the slowest month of the year as people rush to buy in December so they can take the Federal tax credit the following March. This means that inventories are typically low going into January leading to lower sales. February, which is also normally a poor month for plug-in car sales, showed a decent uptick in sales volume. Sales usually pick-up in March so we should see some new records smashed. I don't expect things to go really crazy until the 3rd quarter when I expect Tesla sales to head into the stratosphere.
Sunday March 4, 2018 Tax Credit Phase Out Normally for the first blog of the month I would report on Sales for plug-in vehicles but unfortunately some manufacturers have decided to stop breaking out sales numbers for plug-in vehicles. This means that the actual number of sales will take longer to estimate and so there will be a delay in getting the numbers to report. I thought I might take this time to review the Federal tax credit as it seems that some manufactures may begin the phase out period later this year.
The Federal tax credit applies to plug-in cars with a battery capacity of at least 4KWhrs. Tax credits range from $2,500 and increase by $417 for each additional kilowatt hour of capacity up to a maximum of $7,500. This sum applies to the first 200,000 cars sold by each manufacturer after which the company enters a phase out period of 1 year.
The rules of the phase out period, per the IRS web site are as follows:
"The qualified plug-in electric drive motor vehicle credit phases out for a manufacturers vehicles over the one-year period beginning with the second calendar quarter after the calendar quarter in which at least 200,000 qualifying vehicles manufactured by that manufacturer have been sold for use in the United States (determined on a cumulative basis for sales after December 31, 2009) (phase-out period). Qualifying vehicles manufactured by that manufacturer are eligible for 50 percent of the credit if acquired in the first two quarters of the phase-out period and 25 percent of the credit if acquired in the third or fourth quarter of the phase-out period. Vehicles manufactured by that manufacturer are not eligible for a credit if acquired after the phase-out period."
So far no manufacturer has sold 200,000 vehicles but that is going to change this year. Both Tesla and General Motors appear to be close enough that they will both hit the magical 200,000 number some time in the 3rd quarter of this year. That will mean that these two companies will enter the phase out period. If my interpretation of the IRS rules are correct both companies should be OK for 2018 but will see reduced tax credits for 2019 and none for 2020.
First let me say that I am not a tax expert so you should check with your tax advisor before you purchase a vehicle.
The IRS document says that the tax credit will begin to phase out on the second calendar quarter after the calendar quarter when they hit the 200,000 mark. Let's assume that Tesla hits 200,000 in August 2018. August falls in the third calendar quarter of 2018. The first calendar quarter after that would be the fourth quarter of 2018 and for this quarter Tesla buyers would continue to received the full tax credit of $7,500. The second calendar quarter would be first quarter of 2019 and for this quarter and the following quarter Tesla buyers would receive 50% of the tax credit which is $3,750. For the final 2 quarters of 2019 Tesla buyers would receive 25% of the full tax credit which is $1,875.
The story at GM is probably going to be the same as they too are expected to hit 200,000 cars in the second quarter of 2018. Nissan is probably going to be next but is unlikely to hit the 200,000 mark until some time in 2019 depending on how well the new Leaf sells. The longer range leaf, due out late this year, will probably benefit from the reduced tax credit for the Chevy Bolt.
It is uncertain how the drop in tax credit will impact sales of vehicles like the Chevy Bolt or the Tesla Model 3 but this may prove to be a boon for some of their competitors who are getting ready to launch their own high range lower cost plug-in vehicles and will have the tax credit to provided competitive advantage.
Sunday February 25, 2018 Ioniq Problems
This week I read an article on Electrek from Jordan Kahn, a resident of Toronto,
Canada, who has been experiencing some intermittent charging issues when trying
to charge using the 110V charger that came with his Hyundai Ioniq Electric.
I know from experience that intermittent electrical problems can be really difficult to diagnose. What usually happens is that you have the problem then take it to the dealership and try to reproduce the issue but everything works OK. The minute you get the car home the problem starts to happen again. Jordan is experiencing the same sort of frustrating problems and as of the time of writing his car has been off the road for 30 days with no fix in sight.
Other owners have also reported a
similar problem and in some cases have found a solution. When the
temperature gets down well below freezing, ice can build up inside the charge port
causing the connector from the charger to not make a reliable connection, which
leads to charging failures. The solution for some has been to warm up the
charge port using a hair drier before inserting the charge connector.
There have also been reports of people having trouble removing the charger after charging is complete. One person in the UK posted on a message board that she had to have the Automobile Association come out and disassemble the charge port to get the charge cable removed from the car. There is a recall on the Ioniq electric that is for the inlet actuator replacement but I haven't been able to find if this is related to the charge cable issue. There was a similar issue with the Prius Plug-in but it turned out to be a rubber seal in the charge cable connector that doesn't actually do anything and the fix is to remove it.
Talking of recalls, there is also a recall for the 2017 Ioniq electric that is related to a coolant leak that can get into the EPCU and cause the car to stall. This problem does not appear to be an issue with the Ioniq being sold here in the USA.
Another problem that seems to an ongoing issue at Hyundai is a rumored shortage of batteries. This was the primary reason that the Outlander PHEV took so long to reach the US. Sales were doing so well in Europe that Mitsubishi just couldn't get enough batteries to meet demand so adding additional sales in the US did not seem like a good idea. Now I am hearing that they are having similar issues with the Ioniq Electric where sales are so good that they didn't order enough batteries from LG Chem. Hyundai are denying this but it seems like a good problem to have with the solution of ordering more batteries.
I have also heard complaints coming from the UK that range is below expected. This appears to be an issue with two causes. First the range given in the UK is based on the European test cycle which tends to give higher ranges than real world driving. In the UK range is quoted at around 150 miles compared to the 124 miles of range given by the EPA here in the US. The second issue is that the UK is experiencing a pretty cold winter and we all know that range can take quite a big hit in very cold weather. One particular report quoted a wake up range of 117 miles which is much closer to the EPA number than the UK number but still turned out a little high when the owner was doing freeway driving in cold weather.
The Hyundai Electric is a pretty new car and as with all new car models you can expect a few teething problems. I think for the most part the issue being experienced are not too bad, but if you are not prepared for the possibility of encountering such issues it is probably better to go with a more established model rather being an early adopter. I expect Hyundai to really get a handle on this and the 2019 model year will really rock.
Sunday February 18, 2018 EV Corridor Analysis Tool Earlier this week I received a press release from the Georgetown Climate Center announced the availability of an electric vehicle (EV) corridor analysis tool developed by M.J. Bradley & Associates. This tool is designed to allow input from EV drivers about potential locations for DC fast charging stations that will serve major corridors in the North East from Washington DC to Main.
The tool opens into a visualization map which shows the main corridors and has dots indicating which type of fast charger is available. A dark green dot indicates locations that have both CHAdeMO and SAE connectors. Light green dots indicate SAE only. Light blue dots show sites that have only CHAdeMO. Purple dots indicate sites that have Tesla and CHAdeMO. The larger the dot the more charging ports there are at the site.
The first thing I noticed is the
lack of Tesla charging locations. The map only shows locations that were
within 5 miles of a major corridor and I thought that might be the reason.
I took a look at Tesla's supercharger map and it was clear that they had
charging locations along many of the area's corridors including many locations
along interstate 95, the main north/south corridor. It appears that by
default, this map only shows Tesla locations that also have CHAdeMO chargers.
There is a button labeled layers which when pressed produces a drop down menu, and one of the selections there is Tesla
charging locations. If this option is checked then a little red T appears
to denote the location of Tesla superchargers.
The map could be useful for people who want to see what charger options you have if you are travelling in this area as it shows just chargers located near the main routes so you don't have to deal with lots of chargers not near the freeways as you would if you used something like plug-share. If you click on one of the dots you get a pop-up showing information about the site. I did notice that some of the entries showed the network the charger was connected to but many did not meaning that some additional research would need to be done to make sure that a planned charging stop was actually usable
The layering also allows other details to be added to the map including highlighting stretches of the corridors that have heavy traffic volume and showing areas that exceed EPA standards for Ozone. There is even a layer that adds pop-up information on traffic volume when you click on one of the highlighted corridors. You can then click on the Zoom and it will take you to a close-up of the area of road you clicked on. Pressing the "-" button the map zooms out a little and allows you to look at a detailed plan of the nearest exit.
Using the visualization map for trip planning is not the intended use of this tool. It is actually intended to be used by EV drivers to make recommendations on the desirability of locations where new chargers can be added. When the tool is downloaded it is supposed to load information into an excel spreadsheet and allow the EV driver to alter parameters. This didn't happen when I downloaded the tool so I'm not sure how well this will work.
For those that want to give this a try the tool can be downloaded from http://www.mjbradley.com/analytical-resources. Registration is required and is free. According to the website the tool runs best in a Microsoft Windows environment.
Sunday February 11, 2018 Volt Sales Decline Since the introduction of the Chevy Bolt in December 2016 Volt sales seem to have been in decline. Most people, including myself, have often attributed this the Chevy Bolt taking sales from the Volt. While I am still convinced that this is a major reason for the decline I think that the availability of higher range Plug-in Hybrids is also a factor.
In Particular, the popularity of the Prius Prime has almost certainly taken customers away from the Volt. In January the Prius Prime was the second best selling plug-in car with only the Tesla Model 3 selling more cars. Sales of the Prime were more than double sales of the Volt.
Price may be a factor in this with the base Volt starting at around $33,220 and the Prius Prime starting at $27,100. Some of this price difference goes away for those that can take the Federal tax credit which is $7,500 for the Volt but only $4,500 for the Prius Prime. The Volt goes a lot further on a charge with an EPA estimated 53 miles of range, while the Prius Prime offers just 25 miles of range. 25 miles of range is still adequate for many people so the lower cost, combined with better fuel economy when not in EV mode, will be big selling points.
The first generation of plug-in hybrids offered pretty short range From the Prius Plug-in at 11 miles to the C-Max Energi with 20 miles of range. These cars were not able to handle most people's daily commute without running the gas engine, while the first generation Volt, with 38 miles of battery only range, could. Now there is a new generation of plug-in cars coming onto the market and while The Volt is still king in terms of plug-in hybrid range these new offerings are beginning to give people alternatives.
Note, The BMW i3 REx has a lot more range than the Volt but this is a true Extended Range Electric car not a plug-in hybrid so while it does provide competition for the Volt it currently sits in a category all on its own and attracts a different buyer, one who primarily wants a BEV but worries they may need additional range from time to time.
Over the last few months a new set of plug-in hybrids have appeared on the market that, like the Prius Prime, will probably erode the Volts customer base.
The Kia Optima PHEV has been around for a while now and offers an electric range of 29 miles. This car should be selling a lot better than it is, but Kia have kept inventories low and in many areas it has to be special ordered, so it has not really provided much competition for the Volt. The same can be said for the Sonata PHEV from Kia's parent company Hyundai which offers a slightly lower 27 miles of all electric range and is also has dealer inventory heavily constrained.
In January 2017 Chrysler finally released a plug-in hybrid minivan when the Pacifica Hybrid went on sales. This plug-in minivan is a little pricy with the base model starting at $39,995 but it does provide an EPA estimated all electric range of 33 miles and right now it is the only plug-in minivan on the market. It offers minivan flexibility with enough range for typical school runs and taking the kids to soccer practice.
In November Honda moved into the Plug-in Hybrid market for the first time when it began sales of the Clarity PHEV. Unlike the Clarity BEV and FCEV this Plug-in is being sold, not just leased, and is going to marketed nationwide. The Clarity plug-in, with a base price of $34,290 offers a range of 47 miles on a charge. The Clarity PHEV is eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit so while it is slightly more expensive than the Chevy Volt and gets slightly less all electric range it is going to be a strong competitor to the Volt.
In December the much awaited Hyundai Outlander PHEV finally went on sale in the US. This car has been the best selling plug-in hybrid in Europe for quite some time and if Hyundai can keep dealer inventory well stocked I expect it to be a big seller here too. It is a bit lacking in range at and EPA estimated 22 miles but at a base price of $35,500 this SUV should do well. I suspect that it will appeal to people who want a plug-in but also want to be driving an SUV.
January, 2018 saw the arrival in dealerships of the Kia Niro PHEV giving yet another option for low cost SUVs with decent all electric range. The Kia Niro PHEV has an EPA estimated all electric range of 26 miles and starts at a base price of just $28,840 before tax credits. This is going to compete primarily with the Outlander PHEV but also has the possibility of pulling customers away from the Volt.
One other plug-in hybrid also arrived in dealerships in January, the Hyundai Ioniq PHEV. This car offers an EP estimated alll electric range of 29 miles and a base price of just $25,950 before tax incentives. Since this car may be eligible for the full tax credit it will make for a very cheap way to get into a PHEV and should provide quite a bit of competition for the Volt.
When the Volt first came out back in 2010 there was no real competition. Offerings from the other manufacturers began to arrive but none came close to offering enough range to meet the average daily commute of 15 miles each way unless they could charge both at home and at work. There are now 2 other car offerings, the Pacifica Hybrid and the Honda Clarity PHEV that can handle a 30 mile daily commute and 3 more that can come pretty close. All the plug-in hybrids listed above can handle a daily commute of 11 miles or less each way without the need for a charge at work. This means a greater selection of plug-in cars for the average commuter and this is going to impact Volt sales to some extent.
Sunday February 4, 2018 January 2018 EV Sales Another month, another sales record. January 2018 was the best January on record for EV sales. The last time that EV sales have not set a record month was in May 2016 which fell just 173 cars short of May 2015. Overall an estimated 12,116 plug-in cars were sold in January, about 10% ahead of the previous highest January sales set in 2017 which saw estimated sales of 11,004 cars.
Tesla never gives out how many cars they sell each month but Inside EV does a pretty good job of estimating their overall monthly sales. In the first month of the quarter Tesla always focuses on international sales so domestic volume is typically at its lowest . The second month of the quarter on the other hand is usually sees medium sales as Tesla does a mixture of domestic and international sales. In the third quarter Tesla usually focuses on domestic sales in a rush to meet quarterly sales estimates. In January Tesla sales were an estimated 3,375 cars.
After selling an estimated 4,975 Model S sedans in December, sales in January plummeted to an estimated 800 cars. This was down from the 900 Model S sales in January 2017. It appears that Tesla is diverting resources away from Model S production to the Model 3.
Sales of the Model X in January was an estimated 700 cars. This fell a little short of the 750 sales in January 2017. Previously in December Tesla had sold an estimated 3,300 cars.
It appears that Tesla has finally begun to ramp up production of the Model 3 and word is that towards the end of December they were building about 1,000 cars per week. This translated to January sales of an estimated 1,875 cars Previously in December they delivered 1,060 cars. It remains to be seen how quickly sales will continue to ramp up over the next few months.
After selling 1,937 cars in December, Volt sales dropped to a very disappointing 713 cars in January. Volt sales are being hit from two directions, first it appear that sales of the Chevy Bolt is having a big impact on Chevy Volt sales. The second factor is the arrival of a whole bunch of Plug-in Hybrids that are offering electric only ranges of close to 30 miles which, while nothing close to the 55 miles of range of the Volt, still makes them strong contenders.
Sales of the Chevy Bolt have been
increasing steadily each month since April setting new monthly sales records
every month. This run finally, though not unexpectedly, came to an end in
January with sales of 1,117 cars, well down from the 3,227 cars sold in December.
Sales were also down a little from the 1,162 cars sold in January 2017.
Cadillac only managed to sell 6 CT6 PHEV in January after setting a monthly sales record with 35 cars sold in December.
In January GM sold a total of 1,896 plug-in cars.
Toyota continued to do well with the Prius Prime selling 1,496 cars in January after selling 2,420 cars in December. The Prius Prime is priced such that after the Federal Tax credit it is actually cheaper than the base Prius model. The Prius Prime is still not available nationwide.
Toyota is putting its money into Fuel Cell cars and in January they sold 213 Mirai FCEVs. By my reckoning, since they went on sale in January 2016, Toyota has sold a total of 2,960 Mirai.
BMW sales have been all over the map for the past year or so. The issue appears to be inventory; it just seems like they can't produce enough cars to provide sufficient inventory on dealer lots as priority is given to sales in Europe. In January they sold a total of 1,145 cars spread across their seven plug-in models.
Sales of the i3 in particular have been all over the place, varying from a low of just 182 cars in January, 2016 to a high of 1,479 in July 2016. December saw sales of 672 cars but sales dropped again in January with 382 cars going to customers.
I'm not sure what happened to the BMW i8 but sales seem to have totally tanked. They used to traded in the 150 - 200 range but recently they have only managed to trade in the 20 - 60 range, although December did see sales climb to 80 cars. In January sales dropped back to 32 cars which has become the norm for the last six months. It will be interesting to see if the arrival of the i8 Roadster later this year helps boost sales.
The BMW X5 xDrive40e used to trade in the range of 400 - 600 but this year they have only been trading in the 200 - 400 range. In September sales were 333 cars and this fell by 10 cars in October to 323 cars. Then in November sales went wild leaping to 929 cars setting a new sales record. I would have expected sales to have fallen substantially in December due to lack of inventory but BMW still managed to move an additional 832 cars. In January sales dropped back to just 261 cars.
Sales of the 330e also did well in November selling 477 cars, the second best month ever. In December sales pulled back a little to 363 cars and this trend continued in January as sales dropped further to just 101 cars.
The same thing happened with the BMW 530e which set a new all time sales record selling 872 cars in November after selling 583 cars in October. Again there was a slight pullback in December but they sill managed to sell 706 cars, then in January sales plummeted to just 224 cars.
Sales of the BMW 740e is expected to remain low for the rest of this year as the car is basically sold out so the US only received a token inventory. In November sales fell just 3 short of tying the record sales month when 120 cars were sold. December sales pulled back to 67 cars and dropped further in January to just 18 cars.
The one bright spot for BMW in January was sales for the Mini Countryman PHEV which set an all time high month selling 127 cars. Previously in December 72 cars were sold.
Ford saw an across the board fall in sales in January selling just 947 plug-in cars split across its three models.
Ford's best selling plug-in is typically the Fusion Energi and January was no exception with sales of 640 cars. Previously in December 875 cars were sold.
Sales for the C-Max Energi fell in January to 234 cars after selling 436 cars in December.
The Ford Focus EV fell below its usual range of 100 to 200 cars selling 73 cars in January after selling 112 cars in December.
Honda returned to the plug-in market in full force when they started selling the plug-in hybrid version of the Clarity at the end of November. In January Honda sold an 856 plug-in Vehicles.
Sales of the Clarity electric have been surprisingly good with 507 cars being sold in December after November sales of an estimated 439. In January sales fell to 262 units.
Sales of the PHEV started right at the end of the November and Honda says that it delivered just 5 cars. Honda reported sales of 898 cars for December and in January they sold an additional 594 cars. The Honda PHEV seems like a really excellent car so I expect to see good sales assuming Honda provides enough dealer inventory.
Like Toyota, Honda is also investing big-time in Fuel Cell Vehicles. Unfortunately they don't appear to be reporting sales of their Fuel Cell vehicle.
Fiat Chrysler America is not a big fan of plug-in cars and do not break out sales separately. InsideEV does a very good job of estimating sales from new car registration and state rebate information so I have been using their estimates. In total Fiat Chrysler delivered an estimated 585 Plug-in Cars in January.
The Fiat 500e is just a compliance car for Fiat Chrysler America, but it is estimated that in December sales were 385 cars. In January sales dropped to 210 cars.
After a rocky start, sales of the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Minivan seem to be taking off again after a glitch in July where sales were just 125 cars. August got back to what appears to be more normal sales of 300 to 500 cars per month with sales of 345 cars and in September sales improved further to 475 cars. Sales in October were previously misstated at 1,175 but have since been adjusted to 875 minivans being sold. Unfortunately the plant where they are made was closed down for re-tooling for most of October so I was expecting sales in November to be hard hit by lack of inventory but they still managed to sell an estimated 570 cars. In December with inventory beginning to arrive back at dealerships sales increased to 720 cars while January saw sales drop back to 375 cars.
VW now has 4 plug-in cars being sold across its family of brands. With the 2018 model year cars starting to arrive, in January they sold 436 cars.
The Audi A3 e-Tron normally sells in the 300 - 400 range. Now that the 2018 Models have started to arrive sales returned to normal selling levels in December as 270 cars were sold. In January sales dropped back to 145 cars.
The normal selling range for the VW e-Golf is 200 - 400 cars and in July sales came in right in the middle of the normal range at 308 cars. Sales in August were just a little higher at 317 cars but fell to 187 in September. They moved back into the normal selling range in October selling 203 cars and sales increased in November to 289 cars and 343 cars in December then fell back in January to 179 cars.
The Porsche Cayenne S e-Hybrid sold only 23 cars in December, but managed to sell 113 cars in January.
The Panamera S e-Hybrid is being phased out and will be replaced by the Panamera 4 e-hybrid which was expected to show up in US dealerships some time in May, 2017 but doesn't appear to have arrived yet. Porsche dealers did managed to find 5 copies to sell in November but recorded no sales in December or January.
I've always said that the Kia Soul EV should be a good seller but Kia has always kept inventory constrained on this car. They have normally traded in the 100 - 200 range but this year have been selling in the 200 - 300 range since August, when they sold an estimated 300 cars, their best sales month ever. They didn't do quite as well in September and October but still managed to stay well above the 200 car level selling 255 and 210 cars respectively. In November they stayed above the 200 level with sales of 207 cars and in December they just squeaked in to the bottom of the range with sales of 204 cars and sales tumbled in January to 135 cars.
Kia also has the Optima PHEV which was expected to go on Sale here in the US starting in December, 2016 but sales didn't actually kick off until January, 2017. In December they sold 134 cars dropping to just 86 cars in January.
Kia also began sales of the Niro PHEV in January and sold 155 cars. The Niro PHEV is a plug-in version of the Niro crossover and offers an all electric range of 26 miles.
In total Kia managed to sell an estimated 376 plug-in cars in January.
After many false starts Mitsubishi finally began selling the Outlander PHEV in the US with Sales of 99 cars for December. January was the first full month of sales for the Outlander PHEV and an impressive 300 cars were sold. The Outlander PHEV is an SUV that offers an EPA estimated 22 miles of all electric range.
The Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV normally sells in the 100 - 200 range. In October it was right in its normal selling range with 174 cars sold but jumped above 200 in November with sales of 204 cars. In December it set a new monthly sales record selling 368 cars but in January they fell 1 short of the normal trading range selling just 99 cars.
Volvo is one of the companies that has committed to electrifying their entire lineup of cars. Toward this end they began selling the XC60 PHEV at the end of July. December saw a monthly sales record of 174 cars but January fell a little bit to 109 cars. The XC60 PHEV is an SUV that offers an EPA estimated 18 miles of all electric range.
In September Volvo introduced their first plug-in hybrid sedan, the S90 T8 PHEV selling 5 units. October saw sales increase to 28 cars with a further increase to 32 cars in November and 52 cars in December then falling to 27 cars in January. If Volvo can stock this car in quantity is should sell quite well..
In January Volvo sold a total of 235 Plug-in Vehicles.
With sales of the next generation Nissan Leaf just getting started sales of the Nissan Leaf reached a low point in December with only 102 cars being sold. In January sales picked up a bit hitting 150 cars sold. Nissan claim to have 13,000 orders for the Leaf so I expect sales to begin climbing over the next few months.
It appears that Mercedes-Benz is going to discontinue production of the B250e later this year so I expect sales will continue to be low for this vehicle which normally sells in the 40 - 60 range. In December they surprised by selling 111 cars, their best results since September, 2015 when they sold 147 cars. In January sales dropped back to a more normal 40 cars.
Sales of Mercedes Benz's first plug-in hybrid model the S550e PHEV appeared to have settled into the range of 40 - 60 cars but recently sales have been in the 10 - 30 car range with December seeing 26 cars being sold. In January sales fell to just 13 cars.
Sales of the Mercedes Benz GLE 550e plug-in hybrid SUV have recently hovered in the 30 - 60 range. In December they sold 82 cars, just 1 short of the record high month set in December, 2016 when 83 cars were sold. In January sales fell back to a more normal 44 cars.
The Mercedes-Benz C350e set a new sales record in August selling 212 cars. This would have seriously depleted inventory and in September sales dropped to a more normal 126 cars then tumbled further to just 49 cars in October, 16 cars in November, and 14 cars in December. January saw something or an improvement as sales climbed to 29 cars.
Overall Mercedes Benz sold 126 Plug-in cars in January.
Sales of the Hyundai Sonata PHEV were135 cars in November climbing to 195 cars in December but falling back to 52 cars in January. Like sister company Kia they only stock small amounts of cars in dealer inventory in a limited number of states and while it is technically available nationwide in most states it has to be special ordered.
Sales of the Hyundai Ioniq also seem to have faltered in November with just 23 cars sold after selling 28 cars in October but they ended the year with an all time high month in December selling 79 cars. In January sales dropped back to just 35 cars. The Ioniq Electric has a range of around 120 miles with a price starting at less than $31,000 before incentives so it should sell reasonably well if Hyundai can get cars to dealerships.
In January Hyundai finally began delivery of the Ioniq plug-in hybrid delivering 22 cars. The Ioniq PHEV delivers 29 miles of all electric range and has an impressive combined fuel economy of 52mpg.
In January Hyundai sold a total of 109 plug-in cars.
I had been asking for a while now when will the upgraded Smart Electric Drive begin to arrive in the USA. Well, it finally arrived in August with sales of 94 cars. In September, as inventory improved, sales climbed to 123 cars but in October sales fell back to 73 cars and fell further to 68 cars in November but bounced back to 129 cars in December falling back to 84 cars in January. To put this in context, Smart sold just 105 cars in the US for January so the electric model made up more than 80% of Smart sales for the month.
2018 got off to a slow start but for plug-in sales. January is historically the slowest month of the year as people rush to buy in December so they can take the Federal tax credit the following March. This means that inventories are typically low going into January leading to lower sales. January saw the introduction of 3 new models and the first full month for a fourth, so it is likely that these models will begin to see improved sales as inventory builds up in dealerships. The big question that is on everyone's mind though is just how quickly Tesla can ramp up production of the Model 3.
Sunday January 28, 2018 It's Weather Recently there has been a sever cold spell affecting the Mid West and Eastern parts of the United States and even Europe appears to have been impacted. The right wing press has jumped on this as an indication that there is no global warming but that's not true.
They often, sometimes on purpose, confuse climate with weather. Weather is the local conditions that you will see reported on the news each night and is a good indicator of how to dress. Do you need shorts and a T-Shirt or do you need a thick coat, boots and gloves. Climate on the other hand looks at the statistics of Weather over a long period of time. Climate science looks at how things like temperature is changing planet wide over an extended period of time.
Think about this; video of a school bus sliding down hill on an icy road is going to hit the news and spread like wildfire on social media, but who is going to be surprised by a hot day in Los Angeles. Well, the truth is that Los Angeles, and just about all of the West Coast from Alaska to the Mexican boarder, has been seeing lots of warmer than normal days this winter. As I sit typing this blog we are looking at a day that is expected to be 17 degrees Fahrenheit above normal for this time of year. This is not an isolated case either. For most of the last three months the temperature around here has been between 5 and 20 degrees above normal.
The cause of all this unusual weather is a ridge of high pressure over the Pacific off the coast of California. This, coupled with the unusual high temperatures in the artic causes the polar jet to rise up closer to the artic circle then dip down over the mid west and east coast. This causes warmer drier conditions in the western USA and colder wetter conditions in the middle and eastern portions of the country. This leads to drought in California and snow in places like Atlanta and even in Northern Florida..
Looking at just weather is like staring at a small portion of a painting and thinking that you understand the whole work. When you pull back and look at the whole picture you will get a much different view of things. That's what climate scientists try to do. They don't just look at what is going on in one small portion of the globe, they try to look at the whole picture. For example while York in Northern England is flooded at the moment, Cape Town in South Africa is in such a severe drought that they are close to running out of water and may actually shut off water to the city requiring people to get a ration of water from stand pipes.
When organizations Like NASA, NOAA, and the UK Met Office looked at the whole picture for 2017 they found that after 2 years of increasing heat partly attributed to an El Nino condition in the Pacific, 2017 was the hottest year on record that was not affected by an El Nino, and the third hottest year on record. When they look at the trends since 1880, when reliable records first began to be collected, the trend has been going up. It may get unusually cold where you live, that's weather, but the overall trend for the planet is that it is getting hotter, and that's climate.
l would also like to mention that the right wing media has also been pushing a story about a new study from the University of Exeter that claims that climate sensitivity to CO2 in the atmosphere is less than projected. Using a new method of calculating the sensitivity they came up with a new value of 2.8 + 0.6C. Most climate studies use a value of 1.5 to 4.5C.
So what does this mean. The liberal press would have us believe that global warming would be limited to 2.8C and this is not going to be that bad. In reality, business as usual would mean that CO2 doubled by 2100 going from a little over 400ppm to about 850ppm. Now, the climate has already warmed by about 1.2C so a further 2.8C is going to mean the climate will be about 4C warmer by 2100 than it was before the industrial revolution. It should also be understood that 2.8C is an average and the previous average was 3.0C so the numbers are actually just .2C different for the most likely scenario.
Scientists have warned that to avoid the worst affects of climate change we need to limit warming to 2C so 4C would still be very bad so no, we are not out of the hole. The other thing they usually leave out is that this new analysis also says that the best case scenario is also unlikely. The best case under the current assumptions is 1.5C of warming for a doubling of atmospheric C02 but the new figure says that the best case scenario would be 2.2C so while this study says things might not be as bad as we thought, it also says that it could be much worse than the best case scenario and most likely would be about the same.
So next time you hit a cold spell don't think it means the end to global warming. It's just the weather.
Sunday January 21, 2018 Solid State Batteries
The recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas included a lot of
announcements that were being made in the battery electric vehicle space and
appearing among these were companies that said they were going to introduce
solid state batteries to their electric car models.
Solid state batteries are batteries that replace the liquid electrolyte found in conventional lithium ion or lead acid batteries with a solid. This type of battery has become the holy grail for automotive batteries as they provide many improvements over conventional batteries.
The biggest improvement offered by
solid state batteries is in energy density. Energy density is the amount
of energy that can be stored in a given weight of batteries. Solid state
batteries currently being developed should be able to offer about twice the
energy density of conventional lithium ion batteries. The benefit of this
can be simply illustrated. A Tesla model 3 offers and EPA estimated range
of 310 miles. To accomplish this it needs to lug around over 700 lbs. of
batteries. If we double the energy density of the batteries then, in
theory, the same range could be achieved with just 350 lbs. of batteries.
It's even better though, since the car no longer needs to lug around an
additional 350 lbs. it should be able to go even further on the same amount of energy
It is also expected that solid state batteries will be able to charge faster than current batteries so that electric cars could reach another holy grail, the ability to get a full charge in 5 to 10 minutes, about what it takes to fill up a gas car. While one of the benefits of an electric car is to be able to fill up while the car is sitting idle, the slow rate of charge is one of the things that is currently inhibiting sales of electric cars. Ultra-fast charging would eliminate the problems faced by many people today who do not have access to convenient charging at home or at their place of work.
Safety is another concern with lithium batteries which, while safer than gasoline, have been known to produce some quite impressive fires when something happens, such as serious overheating or being punctured, which sets of a reaction that causes the batteries to ignite. Solid state batteries are expected to be more stable making battery fires very rare.
Cost is another possible advantage of solid state batteries. Right now the batteries being developed are very costly but that's to be expected when dealing with prototypes. It is expected that once these batteries become ready for production costs will fall to the point where solid state batteries will be cheaper than conventional lithium for a given driving range.
Theoretically the solid state battery should also have a much better cycle life than current battery technology. Conventional lithium batteries support about 1,200 cycles before dropping to about 80% if capacity. Some solid state batteries have been tested and still held 90% of their capacity after 10,000 cycles. For a 310 mile EV this type of battery would still be performing pretty well and still offering about 280 miles of range after 3 million miles.
Several electric car makers have announced that they are working on solid state batteries. At CES 2018 Fisker debuted the EMotion which will initially use lithium ion batteries from LG Chem and offer 400 miles of range but they are also working on the development of solid state batteries which will increase the range to 500 miles and be able to charge is as quickly as 1 minute.
BMW also announced at CES that they have partnered with a company called Solid Power. They are jointly developing a solid state battery that BMW plan to use in their next generation electric vehicle, planned for 2022, that is projected to offer a range of 500 miles on a charge.
The production of a cost effective, stable, solid state battery with extended cycle life and high energy density has been an elusive goal for many years now but companies finally appear to be zeroing in on functional systems. These battery developments have pulled the interest of many electric car makers and Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Hyundai and Dyson all of whom are now working with companies to develop this new generation of batteries. It may all end in nothing but it is beginning to look a lot more likely that we will see solid state batteries entering the market in the next 5 years.
Sunday January 14, 2018 Fire and Flood One of the warnings given by the scientists that study climate change is that the number and severity of severe weather events is likely to increase as global temperatures increase. 2017 was a year where we saw some pretty bad disasters and 2018 is already beginning to show the signs that it too will be a bad year for weather related disasters.
Changing climate patterns impacting the West Coast over the past few years have set up perfect conditions for disaster. It started out when a huge high pressure area stalled of the California coast back 2012 leading to four years of drought. This came on top of the period from 2006 - 2010 which were also drought years. Droughts of this duration have occurred in the past, but this one seems to be continuing with just short pauses.
These climate patterns set up the perfect
conditions for a major natural disaster which is unfolding right now. The
long dry spell was punctuated with a wet winter for 2015 - 2016 in Southern
California as the El Nino condition in the Southern Pacific began to fade
allowing the polar jet to move south brining rains. This wet weather was
enough to promote a large amount of growth of vegetation in areas that had been dried
out over the previous 4 years. The weather pattern didn't persist though
and was followed by a hotter than normal summer then one of the driest
Falls ever recorded. Over the last 6 months of 2017 less than
an inch of rain fell in the LA basin.
All the vegetation that had grown and flourished in the winter of 2017 now became tinder dry. By the end of the year we saw the start of the Thomas fire which would become the larges wildfire ever recorded for California. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined but power equipment owned by Southern California Edison is a primary suspect. Before it was fully contained the Thomas fire burned for more than a month consuming 281,893 acres which is a little over 440 square miles. That's an area larger than the city of San Diego.
Mother nature wasn't done just yet. After the long dry start to the season on January 9th Southern California received its first significant rainfall. A Pacific storm slid down the coast dumping as much as 1 - 2 inches per hour over the Thomas fire burn area. With the vegetation burned exposing topsoil the powerful rain soon turned into a river of mud and debris that descended on the town of Montecito destroying Million dollar homes and taking lives.
So far 20 people are confirmed dead and 5 people are still unaccounted for, Hundreds of properties have been damaged or destroyed. Some of these include the historic Montecito Inn and the San Ysidro Ranch, a famous getaway for Hollywood celebrities.
The economic impact is being further exacerbated by the continued closure of the 101 freeway, the main route between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. Tourist destinations in that area are suffering because the alternate route to these areas involves a 10 hour drive which few are willing to attempt for a weekend getaway. So far there has been no indication of when the 101 freeway is going to re-open but since this is a holiday weekend the loss of business is going to be hard on hotels, shops an restaurants north of Montecito who are loosing a lot of business.
While we can't clearly say that the events unfolding here in Southern California are caused by Global Warming we can be pretty sure that the effects have been amplified by the warming temperatures we are seeing around the world. 2017 is probably going to be the hottest year on record not linked to an El Nino event and so things that are happening here in Southern California, and even the record cold weather happening on the East Coast need to be raising a flag that we have to do more to reduce our carbon footprint and slow, then reverse, the warming trend.
Sunday January 7, 2018 December 2017 EV Sales Another month, another sales record. December 2017 was the best December on record for EV sales and 2017 was the best year ever for EV sales. The last time that EV sales have not set a record month was in May 2016 which fell just 173 cars short of May 2015. Overall an estimated 26,087 plug-in cars were sold in December, well ahead of the previous highest December sales set in 2016 which saw estimated sales of 24,785 cars.
Tesla never gives out how many cars they sell each month but Inside EV does a pretty good job of estimating their overall monthly sales. In the first month of the quarter Tesla always focuses on international sales so domestic volume is typically at its lowest . The second month of the quarter on the other hand is usually sees medium sales as Tesla does a mixture of domestic and international sales. In the third quarter Tesla usually focuses on domestic sales in a rush to meet quarterly sales estimates. In December Tesla sales were an estimated 9,335 cars.
After selling an estimated 1,335 Model S sedans in November, sales in December increased to 4,975 cars. This was substantially down from the 5,850 Model S sales in December 2016. It appears that Tesla is diverting resources away from Model S production to the Model 3.
Sales of the Model X in December was an estimated 3,300 cars. This was the month of the year for the Model X in 2017 but still fell short of the 3,875 sales in December 2016. Previously in November Tesla had sold an estimated 1,875 cars.
It appears that Tesla has finally begun to ramp up production of the Model 3 and word is that towards the end of December they were building about 1,000 cars per week. This translated to December sales of 1,060. Previously in November they delivered 345 cars.
After selling 1,702 cars in November, Volt sales climbed to 1,937 cars in December. Sales were substantially down from December 2016 when 3,691 Volts were sold. It does appear that sales of the Chevy Bolt is having a big impact on Chevy Volt sales and there is a rumor that GM is considering replacing the Volt with a plug-in hybrid crossover.
Sales of the Chevy Bolt have been
increasing steadily each month since April setting new monthly sales records
every month. This continued in December with sales climbing above the 3,000 mark
for the first time at 3,227 cars. Previously, in November, Bolt sales were 2,987
With the arrival of the Bolt, sales of the Chevy Spark EV are being wound down as inventory is depleted and only 23 Spark EVs were sold in 2017. Somehow in December Chevy managed to find 2 more Spark EV to sell after selling 7 in November and no cars in August, September, or October.
Sales of the Cadillac ELR have been steadily falling as existing dealer inventory is depleted and no more are being built. In July sales were just 2 cars while in August sales dropped down to 1 car and no cars have been sold since August.
The replacement for the ELR is the Cadillac CT6 PHEV and sales have been growing ever so slowly since it went on sale in April. Each month has set a new sales record with the 29 cars sold in November rising to 35 cars sold in December.
In December GM sold a total of 5,201 plug-n cars.
BMW sales have been all over the map for the past year or so. The issue appears to be inventory; it just seems like they can't produce enough cars to provide sufficient inventory on dealer lots as priority is given to sales in Europe. In December they sold a total of 2,792 cars spread across their seven plug-in models.
Sales of the i3 in particular have been all over the place, varying from a low of just 182 cars in January, 2016 to a high of 1,479 in July 2016. November saw sales of just 283 cars but sales picked up again in December with 672 cars going to customers.
I'm not sure what happened to the BMW i8 but sales seem to have totally tanked. They used to traded in the 150 - 200 range but so far this year they have only managed to trade in the 20 - 60 range and in June they were close to the bottom of that range selling 22 cars. July saw a little bit of an improvement as sales climbed to 55 cars, but August saw them drop back to 29 cars while in September they pulled back further to 27 cars and in October there was a slight increase to 33 cars. November sales improved again to 44 cars with a further improvement to 80 cars in December.
Sales of the X5 xDrive40e used to trade in the range of 400 - 600 but this year they have only been trading in the 200 - 400 range. In September sales were 333 cars and this fell by 10 cars in October to 323 cars. Then in November sales went wild leaping to 929 cars setting a new sales record. I would have expected sales to have fallen substantially in December due to lack of inventory but BMW still managed to move an additional 832 cars.
Sales of the 330e also did well in November selling 477 cars, the second best month ever. In December sales pulled back a little to 363 cars.
The same thing happened with the BMW 530e which set a new all time sales record selling 872 cars in November after selling 583 cars in October. Again there was a slight pullback in December but they sill managed to sell 706 cars.
Sales of the BMW 740e is expected to remain low for the rest of this year as the car is basically sold out so the US only received a token inventory. In November sales fell just 3 short of tying the record sales month when 120 cars were sold. December sales pulled back to 67 cars.
Following the trend at the Mini Countryman PHEV also fell back from 96 cars sold in November to 72 cars sold in December.
One of the big success stories of 2017 is the Toyota Prius Prime which is selling extremely well considering that it is sold in only a small number of states and dealer inventory is limited. Like many of the plug-in cars the Prius Prime appears to have fallen into a selling range, in this case the range is 1,600 - 1,900 cars. In October sales of the Prius Prime was 1,626 cars and this climbed in November to 1,834 cars. December saw the Prime break the 2,000 sales barrier for the first time with sales of 2,420 cars.
Toyota is putting its money into Fuel Cell cars and in December they sold 296 Mirai FCEVs. By my reckoning, since they went on sale in January 2016, Toyota has sold a total of 2,747 Mirai.
Ford saw a modest gain in sales in December selling 1,424 plug-in cars split across its three models.
Ford's best selling plug-in is typically the Fusion Energi and December was no exception with sales of 875 cars. Previously in November 731 cars were sold.
Sales for the C-Max Energi fell in December to 436 cars after selling 523 cars in November.
The Ford Focus EV has remained in its usual range of 100 to 200 cars selling 113 cars in December after selling 121 cars in November. At least it is consistent.
Honda have returned to the plug-in market in full force when they started selling the plug-in hybrid version of the Clarity at the end of November. Unfortunately they are not separating out sales of the electric from the FCEV so I am going to have to estimate sales of these, and by estimate I mean guess. In November Honda sold an estimated 1405 plug-in Vehicles.
Sales of the Clarity electric have been surprisingly good with 507 cars being sold in December after November sales of an estimated 439. December set a new record for the Clarity BEV.
Sales of the PHEV started right at the end of the month with and Honda says that it delivered just 5 cars in November. Honda is reporting sales of 898 cars for December. The Honda PHEV seems like a really good car so I expect to see good sales assuming Honda provides enough dealer inventory..
Like Toyota, Honda is also investing big-time in Fuel Cell Vehicles. In December I estimate that they leased 20 Clarity FCEVs.
Fiat Chrysler America is not a big fan of plug-in cars and do not break out sales separately. InsideEV does a very good job of estimating sales from new car registration and state rebate information so I have been using their estimates. In total Fiat Chrysler delivered an estimated 1,105 Plug-in Cars in November.
The Fiat 500e is just a compliance car for Fiat Chrysler America, but it is estimated that in December sales were 385 cars. This was considerably better than the 215 cars they sold in November.
After a rocky start, sales of the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Minivan seem to be taking off again after a glitch in July where sales were just 125 cars. August got back to what appears to be more normal sales of 300 to 500 cars per month with sales of 345 cars and in September sales improved further to 475 cars. Sales in October were previously misstated at 1,175 but have since been adjusted to 875 minivans being sold. Unfortunately the plant where they are made was closed down for re-tooling for most of October so I was expecting sales in November to be hard hit by lack of inventory but they still managed to sell an estimated 570 cars. In December with inventory beginning to arrive back at dealerships sales increased to 720 cars.
VW now has 4 plug-in cars being sold across its family of brands. With the 2018 model year cars starting to arrive, in December they sold 626 cars.
The Audi A3 e-Tron normally sells in the 300 - 400 range. Now that the 2018 Models have started to arrive sales returned to normal selling levels in December as 270 cars were sold. In November just 38 cars left dealer lots.
The normal selling range for the VW e-Golf is 200 - 400 cars and in July sales came in right in the middle of the normal range at 308 cars. Sales in August were just a little higher at 317 cars but fell to 187 in September. They moved back into the normal selling range in October selling 203 cars and sales increased in November to 289 cars and 343 cars in December.
The Porsche Cayenne S e-Hybrid sold 38 cars in November, but managed to sell just 23 cars in December.
The Panamera S e-Hybrid is being phased out and will be replaced by the Panamera 4 e-hybrid which was expected to show up in US dealerships some time in May but doesn't appear to have arrived yet. Porsche dealers did managed to find 5 copies to sell in November but recorded no sales in December.
The Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV normally sells in the 100 - 200 range. In October it was right in its normal selling range with 174 cars sold but jumped above 200 in November with sales of 204 cars. In December it set a new monthly sales record selling 368 cars.
Volvo is one of the companies that has committed to electrifying their entire lineup of cars. Toward this end they began selling the XC60 PHEV at the end of July. December saw a monthly sales record of 174 cars after selling 82 cars in November. The XC60 PHEV is an SUV that offers an EPA estimated 18 miles of all electric range.
In September Volvo introduced their first plug-in hybrid sedan, the S90 T8 PHEV selling 5 units. October saw sales increase to 28 cars with a further increase to 32 cars in November and 52 cars in December. If Volvo can stock this car in quantity is should sell quite well..
In December Volvo sold a total of 594 Plug-in Vehicles.
I've always said that the Kia Soul EV should be a good seller but Kia has always kept inventory constrained on this car. They have normally traded in the 100 - 200 range but this year have been selling in the 200 - 300 range since August when they sold an estimated 300 cars, their best sales month ever. They didn't do quite as well in September and October but still managed to stay well above the 200 car level selling 255 and 210 cars respectively. In November they stayed above the 200 level with sales of 207 cars and in December they just squeaked in to the bottom of the range with sales of 204 cars.
Kia also has the Optima PHEV which was expected to go on Sale here in the US starting in December, 2016 but sales didn't actually kick off until January, 2017. In November they sold 213 cars dropping back to just 134 cars in December.
In total Kia managed to sell an estimated 338 plug-in cars in December.
Sales of the Hyundai Sonata PHEV were135 cars in November climbing to 195 cars in December. Like sister company Kia they only stock small amounts of cars in dealer inventory in a limited number of states and while it is technically available nationwide in most states it has to be special ordered.
Sales of the Hyundai Ioniq also seem to have faltered in November with just 23 cars sold after selling 28 cars in October but they ended the year with an all time high month in December selling 79 cars. The Ioniq Electric has a range of around 120 miles with a price starting at less than $31,000 before incentives so it should sell reasonably well if Hyundai can get cars to dealerships. A plug-in hybrid version is also expected in the fall.
In December Hyundai sold a total of 274 plug-in cars.
It appears that Mercedes-Benz is going to discontinue production of the B250e later this year so I expect sales will continue to be low for this vehicle which normally sells in the 40 - 60 range. In December they surprised by selling 111 cars, their best results since September, 2015 when they sold 147 cars. Previously in November 31 cars were sold.
Sales of Mercedes Benz's first plug-in hybrid model the S550e PHEV appeared to have settled into the range of 40 - 60 cars. November sales fell below this range for the fourth straight month with 22 cars being sold and December showed little improvement with 26 cars being sold.
Sales of the Mercedes Benz GLE 550e plug-in hybrid SUV have recently hovered in the 30 - 60 range. In December they sold 82 cars, just 1 short of the record high month set in December, 2016 when 83 cars were sold. Previously in November they sold 41 cars.
The Mercedes-Benz C350e set a new sales record in August selling 212 cars. This would have seriously depleted inventory and in September sales dropped to a more normal 126 cars then tumbled further to just 49 cars in October and 16 cars in November and 14 in December.
Overall Mercedes Benz sold 233 Plug-in cars in December.
I had been asking for a while now when will the upgraded Smart Electric Drive begin to arrive in the USA. Well, it finally arrived in August with sales of 94 cars. In September, as inventory improved, sales climbed to 123 cars but in October sales fell back to 73 cars and fell further to 68 cars in November but bounced back to 129 cars in December. To put this in context, Smart sold just 166 cars in the US for December so the electric model made up more than 75% of Smart sales for the month.
With sales of the next generation Nissan Leaf expected to Start early this year I have expected sales of the current model to fall off but that didn't happen until October when, after selling over 1,000 cars per month sales fell off a cliff at just 213 cars. In November sales fell further to just 175 cars and in December they fell again to 102 cars. Going forward I expect to see slow sales of the current generation Leaf as inventory is depleted in advance of the new model's arrival currently set for early 2018
After many false starts Mitsubishi finally began selling the Outlander PHEV in the US with Sales of 99 cars for December. The Outlander PHEV is an SUV that offers an EPA estimated 22 miles of all electric range.
2017 set a new sales record for plug-in sales with sales of 199,806 cars sold in the year, well surpass the previous record high of 158,617 cars sold in 2016. 2018 should easily beat out 2017 if Tesla can continue to ramp up sales of the Model 3 and the next generation Nissan Leaf about to hit showrooms