Inside Electric Vehicles - July 18th, 2016

Inside Electric Vehicles (Jul 19th, 2016)

Musk teases Autopilot improvements, PSA looks into gasoline range extenders, Samsung invests in BYD, Atieva's "Edna" cleans the floor with a Model S, Model 3 "pencils down" wish list.
EV maker Tesla has changed its internet address from to, perhaps as a part of CEO Elon Musk's mysterious new "master plan." A few hours later, Musk tweeted that Tuesday night he plans to "pull an all-nighter and complete the master product plan." – REUTERS

The war against range anxiety continues, as French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen has begun testing Israeli manufacturer Aquarius Engines’ small range extenders. Gasoline range extenders, pioneered by GM in 2011, “essentially act as generators” and provide electricity with little involvement with driving the wheels. The Aquarius engine is a 0.60 liter, single-cylinder, no-valve unit. – GREEN CAR REPORTS

Samsung is rumored to have made a half-a-billion investment in Chinese EV company BYD, based in Shenzhen. Bloomberg suspects the deal went down after Samsung’s affiliated battery manufacturer was recently left off of China’s approved list of suppliers. – MINING

Silicon Valley startup Atieva (which has collected a few ex-Tesla employees) has released the first look at their modified Mercedes-Benz Vito van EV, which they have named “Edna.” In the video, Edna makes drag race mincemeat of a Tesla Model S and a Ferrari California, thanks to her 900-horsepower, all-wheel-drive powertrain. – AUTOBLOG

Proceeding from the assumption that Tesla is past the “pencils down” moment (where they have to stop adding features and start producing cars) for the Model 3, Teslarati has compiled their own final wish-list for the much-anticipated car. – TESLARATI

A writer for Clean Technica found the occasion to give a teacher friend her first EV test drive, in a LEAF. Kim, whom her friend calls a “talented, loving teacher”, watched her friend go from being “just a little bit interested” in the tech to having her horizons gleefully expanded. – CLEAN TECHNICA

After three years of dominance by EVs, a combustion-engine car has won the 2016 Formula Student championship. The EVs, which had been dominating this year, were disqualified for temporarily exceeding the 60kW limit. – E AND T


Maxim is falling all over itself to praise the Mercedes-Benz IAA concept car in a newly published mini-review. The piece poses the IAA as the car Tesla only wishes they could practically produce, with much focus on the old-world German manufacturing titan’s long-tested production capabilities. – MAXIM

Scientific American has posted a fascinating article titled “What NASA Could Teach Tesla about Autopilot’s Limits.” Using Joshua Brown’s death as a leaping-off point, the article relates what NASA learned over decades of studying the psychological effects of automation in cockpits. – SA

Elon Musk has tweeted about coming changes to Tesla’s Autopilot. On Thursday, the CEO tweeted that the company was “working on using existing Tesla radar by itself (decoupled from camera)”; Sunday, Musk tweeted that he’d had a “promising call... with @BoschGlobal, maker of our radar sensor,” adding that it looked like an OTA software update might significantly improve the system. – FORBES

At Tesla Motors Club, user Daniel_R gets ahead of the curve and asks when other members think Tesla will unveil their promised "Model Y." 

Chopr147 says "Another model may stretch the limit and like many companies will have over extended itself right into oblivion"; EinSV says "I voted 2017. Tesla has been working along designing and developing the Model Y, and there were even rumors earlier this year that the prototype would be introduced at the same time as the Model 3." ChadS adds, "I too have heard rumors that Y is a fair ways along, and that they had been thinking of revealing it this year. However, plans may be changing." 182RG says "I vote '2020'. It will take them this long to get Model 3 production stabilized."

At the EV subreddit, user 1Danny2 discusses the present and future of ultra fast EV charging. He says, "Several car makers want to increase the charging speed by increasing the maximum voltage as well. The next CCS standard will therefore allow speeds up to 350 kW!'; JeroenV8 asks, "I am wondering, is CCS also used in the US or only in Europe?; Lonelan presents an extended metaphor: "So you start out with a hair metal battery like Winger, then it gets heavier to rebellion metal with Twisted Sister, then on to new wave metal like some Coheed and Cambria, then a little heavier into Metallica, A7X, DragonForce, until finally your battery is so heavy it's Tenacious D and doesn't do anything anymore!"; Akilou repliles, "until inevitably, death metal." Attempting to get the convo back on track, 1Danny2 adds, "With a good infrastructure of fast-charging stations, there are only benefits to EV's!"

Last week we asked a simple but loaded question of our readers: "How is the electric vehicle landscape going to change?" We expected a wide range of responses, and here are some of the most compelling.

Chase writes, "Existing manufacturers will be left behind. The term, "manufacturers," is a misnomer -- a better descriptor is "supplier aggregator." Car companies have massive supply chains, many of which must work together in order to bring about change in a vehicle. If one manufacturer were to change the shape of buttons, another would have to alter the dashboard in which they fit. This implies that the pace of innovation is heavily influenced by the degree of collaboration within the supply chain.

Tesla is unique in that they do as much as they can in house, thereby reducing the probability of constrained innovation due to a laggard and poorly collaborating supply chain.If Tesla wants to update the dashboard, well, they do it. If GM wants to, they have to coordinate their suppliers to do so -- thereby creating a disincentive toward innovation." (Editor's note: Yeah, we committed a lot of real estate to Chase's answer, but that is one gold-star response.)

Les adds, "What I feel is necessary, is a major gas station, offer nationally an electric quick charger at a reasonable price that is also profitable for the station owner. Imagine, for example, if every Shell station in USA had a quick charger for a $10 fill.
No more range anxiety, and a new business model going forward to offset lower gas consumption, all at the same time."

Thanks for writing in! New Big Question coming up next time.
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