electric vehicles

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Denmark reconsiders incentives

Denmark may announce new financial incentives to buy electric vehicles (EVs) after seeing a sharp drop in sales, according to Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen.

“We have tax incentives for electric cars, and you could discuss if they should be bigger. I will not exclude that,” Rasmussen said in an interview in Copenhagen to Automotive News. Any new incentives would be announced along with a government plan to boost clean-energy consumption after the summer, he said.

Rasmussen’s government phased out subsidies such as those offered in Norway and Germany, which saw Danish sales of EVs fall dramatically, from nearly 5,000 in 2015 to around 700 in 2017.

With diesel having fallen out of favour across Europe in the wake of the Volkswagen scandal, Denmark is now debating which vehicle types to promote and which to discourage.

The government has come under fire for its indiscriminate cuts to registration taxes, which have eroded incentives to buy green vehicles rather than those powered by fossil fuels. Denmark has no car industry of its own and has one of the highest import duties in the world.

Adding to pressure on the government, the opposition Social Democrats grabbed the limelight last week by announcing plans to ban the sale of diesel vehicles by 2030, if they win elections due to be held by June 2019.



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Tesla’s parts struggle

Tesla Model 3 – Source: Washington Post

Several current and former Tesla employees say the electric vehicle (EV) car manufacturer is building a high ratio of flawed parts and vehicles that need rework and repairs.

According to sources, Tesla has had to ship some flawed parts to remanufacturing facilities to avoid scrapping them, rather than fixing them in-line, however Tesla is denying the claim.

A current Tesla engineer told CNBC news that around 40 per cent of the parts made or received at its Fremont factory require rework. The need for reviews of parts coming off the line, and rework, has contributed to Model 3 delays, the engineer said.

To deal with a build-up of flawed parts and vehicles, Tesla has brought in teams of technicians and engineers from its service centres and remanufacturing lines to help with rework and repairs on site in Fremont, according to the sources.

Tesla flatly denies that its remanufacturing teams engage in rework. “Our remanufacturing team does not ‘rework’ cars,” a spokesperson said. The company said the employees might be conflating rework and remanufacturing. It also said every vehicle is subjected to rigorous quality control involving more than 500 inspections and tests.

CEO Elon Musk has been under serious pressure to increase production of the Model 3 sedan, Tesla’s first mass-market EV. More than 400,000 customers have reserved the EV, paying US$1,000 refundable fees to do so.

Originally Musk said that Tesla would be making around 20,000 Model 3s per month by December. The company then later downgraded those expectations – Tesla is currently making around 2,500 Model 3s per week.

Tesla has acknowledged problems with production of batteries, but said it is still on track to meet its target of 2,500 Model 3s per week by the end of March, and 5,000 Model 3s per week by the end of the second quarter.


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EVs are cleaner than ever, study says

Electric vehicles (EVs) don’t produce any “tailpipe” emissions, but their overall environmental impact remains controversial. 

Critics note that charging an EV from a power grid that uses fossil fuels to generate electricity still leads to carbon emissions.

However, based on data from the US Environmental Protection Agency on power plant green house emissions released in February 2018, driving an EV is cleaner than gasoline for most drivers in the US. 

Driving an EV in the US today is the equivalent of an 80 MPG car, much lower than any gasoline-only car available.

The 80 MPG figure is sales-weighted, meaning people who have already bought electric cars are actually achieving that reduced level of greenhouse-gas emissions.

In addition, the study claims that 75 per cent of Americans live in a region where driving an electric car is equivalent to driving a 50 MPG gasoline car.

The difference is based on the mix of energy sources used to generate electricity. The more fossil fuels, the higher the emissions levels.

Burning gasoline will never get cleaner, but the overall carbon emissions of electric cars can be reduced by eliminating fossil fuels from the grid. 

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Trucks and buses going electric

Heavy vehicles are a huge part of the electric revolution, not-for-profit group Drive Electric says.

On the international stage, major companies such as Tesla and Daimler AG are racing to develop electrified heavy-duty trucks, while other vehicles like buses are also part of the mix.

Change is also on the horizon at home, with Drive Electric member Waste Management leading the way.

It is on the verge of completing a pilot programme, which will see five of its trucks switch from diesel to become environmentally-friendly electric vehicles, Waste Management Managing Director Tom Nickels says.

“Three of those trucks are in service in New Zealand. The other two are in Amsterdam with EMOSS – the company that converts our trucks – and are due back here in a couple of months.”

Tom Nickels, Waste Management Managing Director

“What we have seen so far gives us great confidence that this is the right track.”

The next step is to convert trucks from diesel to electric power here in New Zealand, with a specialist EV conversion workshop at Waste Management’s main Auckland site.

“We have ordered 20 kit sets from EMOSS. The first conversion has already begun,” Nickels says. “So far, we’ve outperformed what was expected.”

With more than 800 trucks in its fleet, the company has made sure to convert a variety of vehicles during the pilot, including a box and body truck which focuses on supermarket collection and side-load truck for wheelie bins as well as rear-load and skip bin trucks.

Going electric has also meant new challenges for drivers, engineers and mechanics.

“The drivers use different techniques. We’ve had great difficulty getting drivers out of the pilot trucks.

“When you’ve got an electric motor and batteries, diesel mechanics are not what you need there. You need electrical technicians and engineers.”

Nickels is encouraging other companies to think about investing in electric technology.

“It’s a tremendously exciting opportunity across the transport sector.

“I think all enlightened companies that care for the environment should definitely be looking at it. I know some of them are thinking about it.

Nickels strongly believes the costs associated with going electric will come down quite rapidly. For example, the trucks are expected to last longer between services, with less changing of brake pads.

“This is a long-term commitment that started with our light fleet – cars and vans.

“The great thing is we can get those off the showroom floor.”

Buses are also following suit

Ewan Morris, ABB New Zealand Managing Director

Fellow Drive Electric member ABB, which offers a variety of charging solutions for large vehicles like buses, also sees huge potential in heavy EVs.

ABB New Zealand Managing Director Ewan Morris says there is a large amount of interest in electrifying New Zealand’s bus fleet, however it is early days.

“There are some pilot/trial projects being run in order to gain experience. Some of the major cities have signalled a desire to adopt this technology.

“Buses are good candidates for electrification. Buses, and many aged buses in particular, use diesel fuel which contributes to air pollution. Electric buses emit no greenhouse gases which is better for the environment, and for people walking near and around the buses.”

Other benefits include a quieter experience for passengers and operators can experience lower running costs. The impact charging heavy vehicles will place on the electricity grid depends on whether they charge overnight or at various points throughout the day,
along with the number of electric buses on the road.

“It is important that the grid impact is considered up front as part of the
overall system design.

“Technologies such as Battery Energy Storage combined with advanced Power Management Controllers are able to help reduce the impact on the grid.”

Auckland Transport (AT) is another organisation investing in heavy EVs, with two electric buses set to run on the City Link route.

“We will use the vehicles to test the viability of electric buses in Auckland, looking at elements such as battery life, ability to cope with hills and passenger loading,” AT Manager of Bus Services Darek Koper says.

“This is a very exciting opportunity for Auckland to take a big step towards achieving the aim of a zero-emission fleet from 2025.”

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6,000 EVs registered in NZ

More than 6,000 electric vehicles (EVs) are now registered in New Zealand, an early Christmas for the EV community. 

More than 6,000 electric vehicles are charging along New Zealand roads.

This time last year there were 2,547 EVs registered and numbers have increased 136% in the year.

This year’s 3,485 total registrations were made up of 2,154 used electric cars, 62 per cent of 2017 registrations followed by 649 new electric cars, 19 per cent of registrations. 

Not surprisingly Auckland continues to lead the charge to EV ownership regionally. Auckland accounts for 50% of the light EV fleet, a total of 2864 vehicles, considerably above its share of the nation’s population (34%)

On a per capita basis, Auckland is clearly ahead of the Canterbury region fleet (696) and Wellington (679). The units of EVs registered in Auckland has increased 117 per cent since December 2016 when the fleet size was only 1,319.

Infrastructure and charging stations are ever-expanding across the New Zealand to support the growing number of EVs on our roads. The amount of  fast chargers available throughout the length of the country are also increasing, giving EV drivers greater confidence on longer journeys.

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EV sales hit record high

Electric vehicle, EV, sales jumped to a record high in the third quarter of 2017 due to China’s increased demand.

Electric vehicle sales hit record high in Q3

Sales of EVs and plug-in hybrids exceeded 287,000 units in the three months ended in September, a huge 63 per cent higher than the same quarter last year, according to a report released by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, BNEF.

China is the top market for EVs, making up roughly half of global sales in this quarter. Europe and North America were the second and third biggest markets, respectively.

It’s no surprise that China’s number one due to their current incentives to help increase the number of low-emission cars on the road.

BNEF forecasts that international electric vehicle sales to exceed one million units in 2017.

The market for electrified transport is starting to increase as charging infrastructure becomes more accessible.

“The Chinese government is very focused on pushing up EV sales,” advanced transport analyst at BNEF, Aleksandra O’Donovan said.

“One reason for that is the local pollution levels in the cities, and a second is for China to build domestic heroes to compete internationally in this market,” O’Donovan added.

“The national subsidies can make EVs up to 40 percent cheaper than regular internal combustion cars,” O’Donovan noted.

Automakers including Volkswagen Group, Daimler, Jaguar Land Rover and Volvo have recently announced plans to expand their line-ups to include EV models to meet growing demand.

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Europcar NZ adds EVs to fleet

Europcar NZ now offers 100 per cent electric vehicles for rent in both Auckland and Christchurch.

Europcar will introduce ten Volkswagen e-Golfs into its rental vehicle fleet. With the growth of sustainable tourism and rising awareness of corporate responsibility, rental EVs provide travellers the opportunity to experience and test drive EVs while promoting environmentally friendly motoring solutions. 

© Europcar Group

The addition of EVs into their rental fleet is due to Europcar being granted nearly $200,000 in funding under round two of EECA’s Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund. 

The Government has established the contestable fund to encourage innovation and investment to accelerate the uptake of electric and other low emission vehicles in New Zealand, which might not otherwise occur.

The fund provides up to $6 million per year to co-fund, up to 50%, projects with private and public sector partners in areas where commercial returns aren’t yet strong enough to justify full private investment.

General Manager Europcar New Zealand, Stephen Jones says the new electric fleet reinforces Europcar’s long-term strategy by embracing the fast-changing nature of motoring and its inevitable lean towards green technology.

This co-funding will go towards the vehicle lease costs, charging infrastructure and marketing with the aim of increasing EV demand within the rental vehicle sector, which is the largest corporate purchaser of passenger vehicles in NZ.

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EV registrations continue to grow

The week starting 30 October 2017 saw 182 electric vehicles (EVs) registered, the highest number in a single week. 

There were 430 EV registrations in October, the highest registered in a single month. 

The total number of EV registrations in New Zealand is 5,401. 

That puts the country ahead of its target of having 4000 EVs on our roads by the end of 2017. That goal was a step towards the national target of 64,000 EVs by the end of 2021, around two per cent of the number of cars in the country.

Driving an electric vehicle in New Zealand allows for 80 per cent fewer carbon emissions than a petrol or diesel car due to New Zealand’s abundant renewable electricity.

There are also about 50 fast chargers available throughout the length of the country, with more coming, giving EV driver’s greater confidence on longer journeys.


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Driver training programme to use electric hybrids

Toyota New Zealand is providing the Manfeild National Driver Training Centre with three Toyota Prius plug-in electric hybrids (PHVs) to use in their training programme.

Ali and Nelly Skelton with the National Driving Training Centre’s Toyota Prius PHV at Manfeild.

The training programme centres around increasing the number of secondary school pupils gaining their restricted licence. In turn allowing students to gain NCEA credits and a defensive driving qualification making them more employable when entering the workforce.

“This programme, aimed at getting well trained, suitably qualified young drivers onto our roads, is a fantastic initiative, especially considering the lower numbers of secondary school students with an appropriate licence,” said Andrew Davis, the General Manager of Marketing for Toyota New Zealand.

“We have loaned these vehicles to the National Driver Training Centre to support them in this great community initiative.”

Toyota New Zealand also understands that electrically charged vehicles will underpin the future of transport, so students should be comfortable with their operation.

“The Prius PHVs are the kind of technology that will become increasingly common in the future, so getting drivers used to its operation makes sense.”

The new government has pledged to make driver education more accessible to school leavers.

Recent surveys have found only 44 per cent of all 18 to 24-year-olds have a restricted licence.

In recent years, many industries which use lots of drivers have struggled to find suitably qualified staff.

The road transport industry has combined with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to encourage more people into driving as a career through a Sector Workforce Employment Programme.

The National Driver Training Centre aims to provide suitably qualified drivers who have completed the first steps towards a job where a driving licence is required.

On Tuesday 21 November the National Driver Training Centre is holding an Open Day for school principals, career advisors and gateway co-ordinators to explain the courses and opportunities the National Driver Training Centre provides.

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Tesla to expand its insurance programme to New Zealand

Tesla has created a customised insurance program, InsureMyTesla, that claims to be cheaper than traditional plans because its specifically tailored to their advanced safety features, such as the Autopilot system.

InsureMyTesla is already available in twenty countries and is underwritten by insurers partnering with Tesla. In New Zealand, Tesla is partnering with Vero Insurance.

The insurance package demonstrates how the insurance industry is bound for disruption as cars get safer with self-driving capabilities.

Until then, Tesla’s safety features should theoretically reduce insurance rates. However some Tesla owners have reported that they have been paying higher than average premiums to drive their electric cars.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said that insurance agencies should adjust their prices for Tesla vehicles because the cars come with Autopilot, the company’s advanced assisted feature.

“Not to the exclusion of insurance providers but if we find that insurance providers are not matching the insurance proportionate to the risk of the car, then if we need to, we will in-source it,” Musk said in February.

The deal with Vero Insurance shows how New Zealand insurance agencies are starting to understand that they must adjust their prices as cars get safer.

In the near future Tesla hopes to package the price of insurance and maintenance into the price of future vehicles.

“It takes into account not only the Autopilot safety features but also the maintenance cost of the car,” Jon McNeill, Tesla’s vice president of sales and services, has said of InsureMyTesla. “It’s our vision in the future we could offer a single price for the car, maintenance, and insurance.”

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Nissan’s sales plummet amid scandal

Nissan Motor Co announced earlier this week that Japanese sales of new vehicles has dropped by approximately 50% in October compared to last years figures. 

Last month the discovery of improper final inspection procedures at Nissan Motor Co.’s domestic plants caused it to partly suspend production. 

Nissan didn’t provide exact figures for this month’s sales, but the car company sold 38,708 vehicles in Japan in October 2016.

The plants will resume production once the final inspection procedures have been brought in line with transport ministry requirements, a spokesman for the automaker said.

Nissan has completed those measures at one assembly plant and expects to have made similar changes at five other plants by the end of the week, he said.

This month was supposed to mark the unveiling of an electric-vehicle offensive for Nissan, who is eager to establish itself as the leader in the race to electrify its vehicle line-up.

Nissan is anticipated to outline a global EV sales push when it reports its earnings next week.

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