Inside Electric Vehicles - March 18th, 2020

Inside Electric Vehicles (Mar 18th, 2020)

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1. Tesla may have to close its Fremont production facility after Alameda County declared it a “non-essential business.” Yesterday, I wrote that Alameda County initially allowed the automaker to continue operations of its facility, despite an order from six Bay Area counties that mandated most workplaces to send their employees home under a “shelter in place” order. However, according to the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, Tesla can only maintain “minimum basic operations,” like payroll processing, employee benefits, and security. Tesla continued the operation of its plant on Tuesday, but it is unclear if it will indeed shut down production. — WASHINGTON POST

2. Nio has raised doubts about its future as a company. The automaker said there was “substantial doubt” in its ability to continue as a going concern, largely due to the impact of the coronavirus. COVID-19 largely disrupted the production and delivery of its vehicles this year, as Nio’s market is primarily concentrated in China. The company said its $151.7 million in cash reserves would likely not be enough to continue operations for the next 12 months. — REUTERS

3. Poll of the Week: COVID-19 and your EV purchase 

I have a question for all our readers this week: Did you plan to purchase an electric vehicle this year, but are now reconsidering your purchase due to COVID-19? 

Let me know by taking the quick poll here. I’m curious to see whether potential EV sales will be held back due to the economic uncertainty from the coronavirus pandemic. 

4. Waymo, Cruise Automation, Argo, and have announced their intentions to suspend autonomous driving tests over coronavirus fears. Waymo said it would temporarily suspend robotaxi services in Arizona that require a back-up safety driver, but would continue operating completely automated rides. Waymo did say it would pause tests in California, where it does not transport passengers. Cruise suspended operations and closed its San Francisco-based facilities for three weeks, where it primarily tests its technology using customized electric vehicles. Argo has paused vehicle testing, while also paused its public robotaxi service. — NYT

5. BMW’s upcoming refresh of the 7 Series will be available with an all-electric powertrain. The 7 Series is considered to be BMW’s flagship, full-size luxury sedan. BMW’s board chairman, Oliver Zipse, said the automaker has plans to offer the 7 Series in four different powertrains, including gasoline, diesel, plug-in hybrid, and all-electric. But it is unclear if the EV will be available in the U.S. market, where the Tesla Model S has outsold the 7 Series in its current gasoline-powered variation. The vehicle is expected to be unveiled next year. — ELECTREK

6. Newly released documents from the Volkswagen Group show the number of pre-orders and production figures of Audi and Porsche’s electric vehicles. According to the figures, the Porsche Taycan received over 15,000 orders in 2019, while it only produced 1,386 vehicles. Audi has sold about 32,000 e-Tron electric vehicles globally, with the automaker claiming e-Tron sales outpaces Tesla sales in Germany and Norway. Audi has produced about 45,801 units of the e-Tron. — INSIDE EVS

7. Sharp filed a patent infringement lawsuit against the Japanese unit of Tesla. The lawsuit alleges that the mobile communications equipment installed in some Tesla vehicles violates patents registered by Sharp. As a result, the electronics maker is looking for an injunction that would stop the import of some of Tesla’s vehicles to Japan. Sharp, a unit of Foxconn, has been actively filing patent infringement cases in recent months, including lawsuits against TV maker Vizio and smartphone maker OPPO. — FINANCIAL POST

8. The 2020 Kia Niro EV is getting a price increase. The base model of the electric vehicle, which is only available for sale in the U.S., will increase in price from $39,620 to $40,210. The automaker did not make any other changes to the 2020 variant of the vehicle, other than the price increase. The EX Premium trim level of the vehicle will also receive a similar price increase. The Niro EV is now about $1,900 more than its sister electric vehicle, the Hyundai Kona EV, which has the same mechanical specifications. — AUTOBLOG

9. Xpeng Motors has received the necessary permits to test its P7 electric sports sedan on U.S. roads. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) granted a vehicle import license to the company this month and will allow the automaker to run open road tests. However, the automaker has not necessarily committed to U.S. sales in the near future, saying U.S. road tests will serve as a “supplement” to the company’s research in China. — SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

10. Volkswagen is reportedly working on an urban electric minicar that will go on sale in Europe in 2023. The vehicle will reportedly be branded under the “ID.1” brand name, using VW’s MEB electric vehicle platform, and will replace the Volkswagen e-Up. The ID.1 is expected to start at $22,000 and will be offered in 24 kwh and 36 kwh variants, which will allow VW to hit the $22,000 MSRP. — GREEN CAR REPORTS

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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