Inside Electric Vehicles - November 1st, 2016

Inside Electric Vehicles (Nov 1st, 2016)

EVs' impact on foreign policy, Fisker's new luxury EV, Volkswagen job losses predicted

Electric vehicles could turn global power structures upside down. Newsweek writer Matthew Schmidt points out that investment ratings company Fitch issued a grim warning to energy companies, saying the EV market could tear the bottom out of the energy market if China goes all in and mandates electric cars. This would put increasing pressure on oil-wealthy countries like Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states and threaten Russia with long-term economic decline, potentially giving Elon Musk more influence over future foreign policy than the next president. - NEWSWEEK

Panasonic, the sole supplier of batteries to Tesla’s Model S, X and 3 vehicles, saw its shares plunge nearly 7% today. The drop took place after Panasonic slashed its adjusted operating profit forecast for this fiscal year by 17%, blaming a stronger yen and an earlier-than-expected investment in Tesla’s Gigafactory. While this hurts the company’s earnings in the short term, it could mean that investment returns will come earlier than expected. - WALL STREET JOURNAL

Fisker has revealed the high-end electric car that it will use to challenge Tesla in the EV market. The EMotion will be a “sporty and spacious” luxury sports sedan with a 400-mile electric range and a top speed of 161 mph, according to founder Henrik Fisker. He claims it will recharge faster than any electric car currently on the market thanks to new battery technology developed by UCLA engineers, and will be equipped with self-driving hardware. Fisker also plans to team up with a major manufacturer to produce a mainstream, affordable EV. - LOS ANGELES TIMES

Toyota has finally embraced lithium-ion batteries, setting the stage for a fully-electric Prius. With help from supplier Panasonic, Toyota has added a lithium-ion pack to the new Prius Prime and to the 2016 Prius, though it’s not standard across the whole line. This could get the company’s foot in the door to phase out nickel-metal hydride batteries as older models age out, and keep Toyota competitive as automakers promise all-electric vehicles in the next few years. So far there's no word regarding when Toyota will put lithium-ion batteries in its non-Prius hybrids. - CNET

The world’s biggest mining company is looking forward to a surge in demand for copper and other metals, thanks to EV production. BHP Billiton Ltd. is increasingly optimistic that the EV market will boost demand for copper, which was the poorest performer on the London Metal Exchange this year. Copper accounts for 27% of BHP’s commodity sales, and makes up about 80 kilograms of today’s electric cars. Copper usage in EVs will contribute to China’s demand growing at about 3.3% a year until 2020, according to the government’s Five-Year Plan for the metals industry. - BLOOMBERG

Wireless EV charging could be a perfect complement for automated parking, according to Plugless developer Evatran. The Plugless system allows EV drivers to charge their vehicles through a pad on the floor, with no cables or wires. Now Evatran has an agreement to install the hardware into a luxury apartment building in Philadelphia, where cars are automatically parked over the charging plate after drivers leave them in an interior courtyard. Plugless is currently available for the Tesla Model S and the second-generation Chevy Volt. - GREEN CAR REPORTS

Volkswagen’s shift to electric car production could cost a five-digit number in job losses, according to their HR chief. Karlheinz Blessing was cited in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper saying the company will need to cut jobs in production, since EV engines require fewer workers than combustion engines. VW expects up to 25,000 staff to be cut over the next decade as older workers retire. Blessing said there would be no forced dismissals. - REUTERS


On the Electric Vehicles subreddit, people are discussing rumors that China will require foreign automakers to sell EVs in order to sell ICE cars.

“China: the worst and best fighters of climate change,” writes nav13eh. “I really hope this happens. It will mean explosive growth for electric Chinese companies, and all the classic manufacturers will have not choice but to take the market seriously. German automakers are beginning to get large pressure from many governments to greatly expand EV production, especially their own government. Are you really technologically more advanced than Chinese companies? Prove it. I just hope China can get those renewables/nuclear generation systems in full swing sooner than later.”

“I’m kind of conflicted about this,” says Wolf_Zero. “On the one hand it's great to see a country taking a hard stance and strongly encourage the development/production of EV's. On the other, this has less to do with being progressive and more to do with China intentionally making its market tough for foreign companies to compete in.” But malbecman replies, “I've no problem with this. The US puts up market barriers as well when they feel the need and if it turns up the heat on the Big3 and other automakers, that's a big plus in my book.”

Over at the Tesla Motors Club forums, you might get a kick out of a video from a revived thread from 2009, where newscaster Dan Rather reports skeptically about this newfangled "Tesla" company. "It was funny listening to Dan Rather being shown the Roadster," says TEG. "Where is the 'gas' pedal? Let's turn on the 'ignition'... Let's 'crank it up'... But it's not 'running.' 'But I don't hear anything.' Such a history of combustion engine terms to get over." 3Victoria says, "Thanks for the video. It is important to see where we have been and see the predictions."

Would you buy a fully-electric Prius? Do you think Toyota can keep up with the rest of the EV market and become a main competitor?

Hit "Reply" and send us your thoughts, and we'll publish your answers in the next edition of Inside EVs.
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