Inside Electric Vehicles - March 13th, 2020

Inside Electric Vehicles (Mar 13th, 2020)

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1. China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) summoned Tesla executives to question them about their decision to feature a downgraded computer chip within its “Made-in-China” Model 3 vehicle. This comes after many consumers in China filed complaints with the country’s Consumer Association, along with other commerce and business regulators. The automaker previously said the inclusion of “Hardware 2.5” computer chips were linked to parts storages caused by the coronavirus epidemic. China’s MIIT told the automaker to immediately rectify the issue and include the company’s most up-to-date chip in its vehicles sold in the country. Tesla had promised free hardware updates to all customers who received vehicles with the downgraded chip, although that is not appeasing some consumers. There are Tesla customers in China that are looking for additional compensation, along with the upgrade. — NIKKEI ASIAN REVIEW

2. A German publication reported that Tesla rushed to send dozens of employees back to the U.S. from Germany, after President Trump announced a travel ban. Automobilwoche said the automaker rushed to send back employees after Trump’s Wednesday night announcement, although it was later discovered that the ban would only apply to foreign nationals. The automaker is in the process of building its Europe-based production facility, which will be located in Germany. — CNBC

3. Another potential location for Tesla’s upcoming production facility: Nashville, Tennessee. Earlier this week, I wrote that Tesla was possibly considering Texas as a production location for its Cybertruck and Model Y vehicles destined for the East Coast. (I also asked you all what locations you thought were great for Tesla. More on that in a moment.) TechCrunch reported that Tennessee, which is also a production hub for Nissan and Volkswagen, is in consideration to be the location of Tesla's next facility. — TECHCRUNCH

4. Your take: Where should Tesla’s next U.S.-based production facility be based?

Thank you to all who responded to me this week to my question about where Tesla should locate its next production facility. I received many responses; here are a few:

Some have been edited for clarity and brevity.

Letha D. wrote in saying they would love to see Tesla build a production facility in Arizona because of its existing manufacturing scene and opportunity for growth.

Stephen C: "Set up shop in Wichita, KS!"

John H: "Texas would make sense for wind and solar power to run the factory however less affluent states with high unemployment rates will probably offer better incentives."

Kevin W: "Colorado. Denver is developing fast, progressive and centrally located in the heart of the U.S."

Ed G: "Texas is very logical because Musk has said the stainless steel could be used both for EVs and the Starship."

Thanks for all your responses! Do you have any feedback on these potential suggestions? Hit 'reply' and we can continue the conversation.

5. Volkswagen’s board member for electromobility acknowledged that Tesla has a 10-year head start on electric vehicles. In an interview on Thursday, Thomas Ulbrich, a member of VW’s electromobility board, said, “Tesla is an impressive manufacturer. It is a motivator for us. Tesla has 10 years more experience. But we are very quick in catching up.” Volkswagen has been making substantial investments in electric vehicles, as it hopes to produce 1.5 million electric vehicles per year by 2025. — REUTERS

6. BMW will end production of its i8 plug-in gasoline hybrid vehicle next month. The vehicle was released in 2014, launched alongside BMW’s i3 battery-electric vehicle. Since then, the automaker has sold about 20,000 units of the vehicle. Despite its relatively high price tag ($147,500), the vehicle was one of the better selling plug-in hybrid vehicles in the sports car segment. While the i8 does have a gasoline engine, it can only operate 18 miles on its electric battery. — FOSSBYTES

7. The coronavirus pandemic could pose a threat to China’s electric vehicle goals. Last year, China considered spearheading an initiative that would have 60 percent of all vehicles sold in the country run on electric motors by 2035. But with falling gas prices, analysts believe gasoline-powered vehicles may be more appealing to price-sensitive Chinese consumers. — FINANCIAL TIMES

8. Electrify America is giving “premium offers” to owners of the Hyundai Ioniq and Kona electric vehicles. According to a member of the /r/electricvehicles subreddit, the offer waives a $1 session fee and charges users a flat-rate 35 cent per minute rate for charging. This is about 7 cents lower than the member rate of 42 cents per minute for Electrify America users, and about 23 cents less than the normal retail pricing for both vehicles. — /R/ELECTRICVEHICLES - REDDIT

9. BYD said it is making masks and hand sanitizer to combat the global coronavirus pandemic. The automaker is making 5 million masks and 300,000 bottles of hand sanitizer per day. BYD will primarily provide the masks to its workers to ensure normal vehicle and battery production, distributing the rest to hospitals, public transit systems, and residents of Hubei, the Chinese epicenter of COVID-19. — REUTERS

10. Poll of the Week: What’s your electric vehicle range “sweet spot?”

Earlier this week, I asked you all what your EV range “sweet spot” was. Many of you responded. According to our results, 48.1 percent of our readers said they needed an electric vehicle that had 300 to 350 miles per range on a single charge. Only 1.5 percent of our readers said they would be ok with a vehicle that had 150 to 200 miles of range per charge.

48.1%: 300-350 miles

17.6%: 350-400 miles

15.3%: 200-250 miles

14.5%: 400 miles +

3.1%: At least 150 miles

1.5%: 150-200 miles

Take care of yourselves! Stay sane and try to log off social media for a bit this weekend. We'll be back at this again on Monday. 💪

Johan Moreno is the writer and curator of Inside’s mobility-focused newsletters (Inside Automotive and Transportation). He joined in February 2017 and has written over 700 issues of both newsletters collectively, so he knows a thing or two about the development of electric vehicles, autonomous cars and more.

Johan is also a contributing writer for Forbes and works for J.D. Power, an automotive data and analytics firm. For this reason, Johan does not include Forbes links or discusses anything related to J.D. Power in newsletters, to avoid conflicts of interest. Before that, he wrote for The Orange County Register's "Wheels" section, alongside veteran automotive journalist Susan Carpenter. 

Follow him on Twitter: @dudejohan

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