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Inside Automotive (Nov 25th, 2016)

Jaguar planning to make EVs in the UK, Consumer Reports criticizes the Model X, pushback on anti-Tesla campaign

Jaguar Land Rover has announced that it plans to build electric vehicles in the UK if the government will subsidize investment in charging infrastructure. Two weeks ago Jaguar launched its first electric model, the Tesla Model X competitor IPace, making it a late entrant to the EV market. With battery technology improving and legislation forcing manufacturers to lower tailpipe emissions, Jaguar is now eager to produce viable electric cars that can compete in the mass market. Experts say this could be a game-changer for the industry. - GUARDIAN

Consumer Reports called the Tesla Model X a “fast and flawed” vehicle that “largely disappoints” in this week’s review. Among the issues cited in the report are rear doors that often pause and stop, second-row seats that can’t be folded, limited cargo capacity and a choppy ride. Previously, Consumer Reports gave the Model S an off-the-charts rating, but withdrew its recommendation two months later. Tesla’s shares seemed to recover from the negative review, heading for a 5% increase by the end of the week. - MARKET WATCH

Tesla received a fraction of the government subsidies given to Big Three auto makers and the oil industry, according to Electrek. In response to a media campaign by conservative group Citizens for the Republic that accuses Elon Musk and Tesla of “defrauding American taxpayers,” writer Fred Lambert points out that companies like General Motors, Ford and Exxon Mobile are receiving considerably more public money but aren’t being attacked. He also discusses ties between Citizens for the Republic and the fossil fuel industry, as well as right-wing radio host Laura Ingraham (whom Lambert deems a ‘Trump propagandist'). - ELECTREK

Popular Mechanics writer Ezra Dyer tried charging three electric vehicles using solar panels. Excited by the possibility of using unlimited, free solar energy to drive around, he borrowed a Tesla Model X p90D, a GEM e4 and a Mitsubishi i-MiEV, hooked them up to his 24-panel solar array and tested them out. With a moderate driving schedule, he found there were some days when he had to top up using public chargers; but for the most part his solar array was enough to get him around town. - POPULAR MECHANICS

Toyota is aiming to make an electric car battery breakthrough within the next few years. Engineers are researching how lithium ions move inside battery electrodes so they can create designs that prevent ions from moving unevenly, resulting in a potential 15% improvement in range and battery life. The Japanese auto maker has pioneered hybrid technology and is gearing up to launch a nearly-all-electric hybrid called the Prius Prime. It’s also aiming to produce an all-electric car by about 2020. - REUTERS

The electric car market keeps booming in China, with 30 “new energy vehicles” debuting at the Guangzhou Auto Show. With government subsidies as high as 90,000 yuan ($13,000), Chinese automakers are making serious investments in research and development for cars with more power and longer range. Among the top up-and-coming models are the Changan BenBen EV, the Dongfeng Fengxing Jingyi S50, the Guangzhou Auto Trumpchi GS4, the JAC Sunray i6 and the Jinbei JBC Qiyun light truck. - FORBES

FROM THE FORUMS

People on the Tesla Motors Club forum aren’t too surprised about Consumer Reports’ negative review of the Model X. 

"What they miss is that there are no comparable vehicles for those who require an EV powertrain and a nationwide fast charging network (or even just one of those)," writes ohmman. "In general, I don't disagree with their assessment of the windshield, doors, and reliability. Give me an alternative, CR, and I'll consider it."

mkjayakumar remarks, "I think what CR is trying to say is Tesla did make a great SUV with EV power train and supporting fast charging infrastructure, but screwed it up with those dumbo doors and other 'features' making it less reliable, practical and desirable."

Meanwhile on the Electric Vehicles subreddit, users are debating a creative idea for wireless EV charging that involves vacuum tubes with electricity-generating magnets installed beneath highways. Supposedly this would replace the need for charging stations and get rid of the range anxiety that prevents many people from joining the EV movement. 

"I'm not a fan," says paulwesterberg. "It replaces an expensive (but manageable) infrastructure project with an even more expensive/complicated system that requires millions of miles of roadways be redeveloped. [...] I think this guy underestimates the pace of progress in battery technology, range, density and charging time all continue to increase rapidly. Once you can charge at a decent rate at your relative's house, 50A for 4-5 hours while you eat and watch the football game, the need to charge midway through a trip will decrease significantly."

The author of the idea, mricon, replies: "I'm less optimistic about fast-charging for a number of reasons.

  1. We cannot reasonably increase fast-charge rates over 150 kW. If we get to 200 kW, we must use mechanisms that don't require humans being part of the equation. The potential for fatal failures at 150 kW+ is just really worrying to me -- think older equipment, older cars, human error during installation, etc.
  2. To satisfy long-distance travel requirements, we'll need to install superchargers capable of 2MW+ of power in the middle of nowhere. Once installed, they would be rarely used except several times a year (tourism, vacationers, holiday traffic).
  3. Fast-charger network stands up poorly to 'flashmobbing' traffic. You can't rapidly scale up availability of charger stations in a suddenly popular area. A small city having an influx of travelers right now just needs to schedule a couple of extra gas delivery tankers, but they can't dramatically scale up power availability on the grid to recharge an extra couple of hundred EVs."
FROM THE MAILBAG
Earlier this week we asked you: "Who do you think is behind the Elon Musk disinformation campaign? Do you think it will be effective in turning public sentiment against Tesla and SpaceX?"

All the responses we received were from readers convinced major oil companies were behind the comments.

George replies, "Who do I think is behind the Elon Musk disinformation campaign? Big oil and their climate change denying cartel."

Larry agrees: "Oh my! You don’t suppose that the Big Boys don’t want to share the same public teat that they suck on, do you?"

Do you disagree? Think it’s possible someone else was behind the anti-Tesla campaign? Let us hear from you!
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