Inside Electric Vehicles - March 20th, 2020

Inside Electric Vehicles (Mar 20th, 2020)

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1. Tesla will suspend production at its Fremont, California and Buffalo, New York-based production facilities on March 23. Earlier this week, 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, the county eventually did mandate the closure of the facility, with the company also disclosing its plans to shut down another U.S.-based production facility in Buffalo, New York. The facilities will close at the end of the day on Monday, which will allow an “orderly shutdown,” according to a statement shared by Tesla. Hourly employees will receive paid leave during the shutdown. — LA TIMES

2. Some Tesla Model Y buyers wonder what the impact of COVID-19 will be on their vehicle deliveries. While many buyers on the Tesla Motors Club forum are glad that Tesla is closing its Fremont production facility in the name of public health, they wonder what type of delays this will cause for Tesla’s new crossover SUV. It is unclear if the automaker will indeed delay deliveries, although at least one buyer expressed his concern if Tesla does not deliver, as buyers would need to re-apply for any applicable loans. — TESLA MOTORS CLUB

3. Poll of the Week: Is COVID-19 making you re-think your electric vehicle purchase this year?

COVID-19 may have some troubling effects on the electric vehicle space, according to our Poll of the Week. 53.8 percent of Inside Electric Vehicles readers (who answered our poll) said they were reconsidering their plans to purchase an electric vehicle in 2020. 46.2 percent of our readers said they still were committing to their plans of buying an EV this year.

What do you think about these poll results? Hit reply and let me know. I may feature your comments in a future issue of Inside Electric Vehicles.

4. Nissan is expanding its electrified offerings in Japan. The automaker plans to launch an electric battery-powered SUV as early as the second half of this year, with plans to launch an electrified version of its Dayz minicar in 2021. Nissan also said it plans to offer gasoline-hybrid versions of its Kicks and X-Trail SUVs, as well as its Note subcompact vehicle. In 2018, Nissan's electrified offerings, the Leaf and e-Power hybrid, made up about 25 percent of the automaker’s new vehicle sales in Japan. — NIKKEI ASIAN REVIEW

5. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company is working on ventilators to help with the COVID-19 pandemic. Musk, who has downplayed the severity of the pandemic, said the company would make ventilators if there was a shortage, using Tesla’s expertise in HVAC systems and SpaceX’s expertise in life support system production. He followed up those tweets by saying the company was “working” on ventilators, although he didn’t think there would be a shortage by the time the company could “make enough to matter.” — @ELONMUSK/TWITTER

6. Tesla’s mobile technicians will now be able to service cars without having an owner present. The automaker is introducing a “no-touch” service option, which will allow a service technician to remotely unlock a vehicle and service a vehicle, as a precautionary COVID-19 measure. Tesla said the technician would wipe down any surfaces touched and lock up the vehicle when the service is completed. — ELECTREK

7. In Europe, the electric version of the Hyundai Kona received some tweaks to increase battery range. The automaker is making changes to the chassis to reduce friction on the road, which will increase the vehicle’s range by about 21 miles on a single charge. The left-hand-drive version of the Kona vehicle, which is produced in the Czech Republic, is already being produced with these changes. The right-hand-drive version of this vehicle, produced for the U.K. market, will benefit from these changes in July. — DRIVING ELECTRIC

8. February 2020 was the second-best month for electric vehicle sales at Renault. The company sold 7,485 units for the month globally (although most of the sales were concentrated in Europe), which is an 88 percent increase over last year. In January, the automaker sold even more electrified units, a total of 10,819 cars. — INSIDE EVS

9. Ultra-luxury automaker, Bentley, showed off its upcoming EXP 100 GT electric vehicle. The vehicle features an electric powertrain, with four motors, that produces a combined 1,340 horsepower and 1,100 pound-force feet of torque. The vehicle also features “brave” styling, with a very distinctive front grille. The vehicle will likely not be in production until 2025, at the earliest. — CARBUZZ

10. While electric vehicle sales will likely be impacted by the effects of COVID-19 initially, Bloomberg transportation analyst Colin McKerracher does not think it will impact the long-term trajectory of electric vehicles. McKerracher said that while the overall vehicle market will likely contract in 2020, he expects EV sales to ultimately grow in Europe this year. Electric vehicle costs are also widely expected to drop, as lithium-ion technology evolves and costs are cut. — BLOOMBERG

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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