Thursday, May 25, 2017

Road Trip – Zoomin’ in the USA (1/3)



The idea for this series of articles came one night while discussing with Zach of CleanTechnica my  trip to the Northeast of the USA to visit relatives, at the time he asked me:
Z – So, are you going to rent an EV while you are there?

J -  Yeah, i thought about it, but it is really expensive, around twice as much as a regular Ford Focus rental…
Z – Really? Let me see if I can help you with that…
And so he did, after pulling some strings and connecting to the right people, Zach helped me to have not one, but two EV’s for my two week stay in the US, a red Nissan Leaf 30 kWh for the first days, followed by a blue BMW i3 Rex with the new 33 kWh battery for the remainder of the journey.

But before I start, I want to signal my deepest appreciation to the people of Nissan USA and BMW USA, for the dedication, professionalism and sympathy in the vehicle delivery, assistance and pick up process, you rock!

Image result for jfk airport

Day 1 – Arrival to JFK airport and heading to Newark, New Jersey
After a complicated arrival, complete with border control hold ups (Apparently, I was mistaken by another person with a criminal record in the US…), we got to the scheduled place with only three hours delay to pick up our top of the range Nissan Leaf.

Driving the Leaf was kind like meeting an old friend, you haven’t met him for a while, but you know how it all works, you know what to expect, including the annoying foot brake.

The big surprise (To me, at least, used to the 24kWh version) was the increased range of the thing, showing 101 miles in the guess-o-meter with 77% charge, equaling to some 130 miles/210 kms with a full charge.

210 kms! To have that kind of range on the 24 kWh units, I would have to go downhill AND have tailwind helping me out…


Day 2 – Running around Newark, NJ

Full day running around the whereabouts of Newark, visiting friends and family, and shopping. Looots of shopping! (Hey, it’s New Jersey, what else would you do?) I took the opportunity to escape the Stores Via Sacra and try out the local charging infrastructure.

And it was then that I realized how fortunate we are in Portugal for having an ATM-like system of charging cards, where you can have an “A” charging card, but regardless of that you can use it in the “B” charging network, or “C”, or…whatever network that provides electricity for your car.

After all, for the end buyer, what you want is to charge your car, regardless of whoever does it, right?

Well, not in New Jersey. I had a Chargepoint card, but turns out, the closest Fast Charging station belonged to EVGo, which actually allowed for other customers to charge, as long as they had a valid credit card (Check!) and a valid local telephone number (What?!? Why?!?!).

I then understood the frustration of my German friends, which carry a bunch of charging cards, one for each company…

So, no deal there, which left me no solution but to ask my temporary host to do an overnight charge at home, at 110 Volts.

One thing that struck me on the first full day in the US, was that everything was super-sized regarding Europe.

A small drink in the US is a medium-sized choice in Europe and the same thing happens regarding cars, with seemingly half the houses in suburban Newark having a big pick-up truck and a seven-seater SUV on the garage entry, my Nissan Leaf didn’t look like the family car it is Europe, but something more…Compact.

Now I understand why the Leaf is classified as “Compact Car” in the land of Uncle Sam.



Day 3 and 4 – Catching the subway to New York

After the overnight charge, the 100% mark was achieved, just in time to commute to the subway station with a full charge, with the guess-o-meter recording 130 miles (210 kms in metrical speak), which meant I had made the same energy consumption that the car had before coming to my hands, beating the EPA range in a sizeable manner, and I wasn’t even hypermiling, no ECO mode, using (Occasionally) A/C in a city / highway drive mix…Not bad. Not bad at all…

Sure, the 250 kms range (155 miles) announced by the NEDC were still a bit far off, but then again, I didn’t had the pink unicorns that help out EV’s doing the European testings…

Or maybe I’m just being mean, if you always run in ECO mode, never use Air Conditioner and drive like a nun, maybe, just maybe, you can reach the announced 250 kms range.

And what about EV’s? Did you saw a lot of them running around? – You may ask.

Actually I thought I would see more, apart from the random Tesla (Mostly Model S), we really needed to have an eagle eye to spot them, I saw a white BMW i3 (Being driven by an attractive 30-year old girl, BTW), one Second Generation Chevrolet Volt and…That’s it.

Except for Tesla, that has a special aura that surpasses the fact that it is electric (Auto Pilot, fast acceleration, etc), this area is not especially EV-friendly, including New York, that also disappointed a bit when it came to spot EV’s.

I guess it will be up to the Tesla Pick-Up Truck to finally win the Regular Joe mindset into EV’s. Hurry up with that one, Tesla…

At the end of Day 4 and with the delivery of the Nissan Leaf scheduled for the next day, it was time to do a list of Likes and Dislikes of the Nissan model:

Likes

-          Range! With over 100 miles range it was really easy to use it on urban environment, with no sign of range anxiety, so I could drive it pretty much anywhere in the NJ area without looking at the guess-o-meter every two minutes or monitoring my driving style;

-          Ease of use, maybe because I am most used to it, or because it is a straightforward car to drive, the fact is that it was really intuitive to drive it, with easy to use multimedia system and no major secrets. It just works how we want it, and that’s a big plus for people new to electric vehicles;

-          Family friendly vehicle. Space is not an issue in the car, be it in the front, at the rear seat or in the trunk. And we really used it, after all, there was a time when we were five in the car and the trunk had plenty of shopping bags…



Dislikes

-          Foot Brake! It is sooo annoying and clunky, if there is one feature I would like to change for the upcoming Leaf, is that Nissan finally ended the foot brake nonsense and made a regular Parking button, like regular EV’s have. I mean, for a car designed to look the 21st Century future, the foot brake seems like a 19th Century relic!

-          Cable storage. Sure, the trunk had no problems swallowing shopping bags, but should we use the full capacity of the trunk, we would have to remove the cable storage suitcase from the side and place it…Somewhere. This is not the ideal solution, BMW solved it in the i3 by placing it in the small front trunk. I think Nissan could have found a better place to store the cables. Maybe in the next Leaf?

China April 2017

BAIC EC180 dashboard

BAIC EC180 leads rise of Microcars

The Chinese market had more than 32.000 new EV's zooming the streets last month, a 49% increase over the same month last year, with the EV market share up to 1.2%, as the year proceeds and sales expand, expect the market share to rise above last year result (1.45%), maybe reaching North of 2%.

This is a highly protected market, where 93% of sales belong to domestic brands. Of the 7% left for foreign brands, 6% belong to Tesla, with the remaining 1% divided by all other auto makers.

If BAIC won the once again the winner on the models ranking in April, thanks to its EC180 golden boy, this time the monthly manufacturers title went to BYD, with over 6.000 units registered, which means the last year winner is back on its feet and ready to chase Beijing Auto in the race for the Best Selling manufacturer. 

Here’s April Top 5 Best Selling models individual performance:


Image result for BAIC EC180 price
#1 - BAIC EC180: Winning the Best Seller status for the third month in a row, this model is making a revolution on the Chinese EV market, as this is probably the first (Only?) little city EV that private buyers should be proud to have, with decent specs (eg, 20 kWh battery) and interiors/equipment for a somewhat low price (152.000 Yuan, or $22.000), the 4.352 units sold last month were a new record for the tiny EV and confirms it as the strongest candidate for this year Best Seller trophy, which would be a first for BAIC and the first time since 2013 that a BYD didn’t won the trophy.


Image result for zhidou d2
#2 – Zhidou D2 EV: If the EC180 can be considered “cute”, the bare-basics city vehicle doesn’t inspire anyone. Nevertheless, they continue to be sold in large quantities (3.709 units in April), possibly due to a combination of bargain-basement prices and big fleet deals. This vehicle is sold as a Quadricycle (Think Renault Twizy class) in some European countries, with the following specs: 12 kWh battery, 120 kms range, 90 kms max.speed, all this for some 16.000€.


Image result for Kandi K17
#3 – Kandi EV: A major player a while back, Kandi was involved in last year Subsidy Fraud, so one would think it would see its life as an EV maker terminated. Apparently not, as the 2.586 units delivered in April were its best result in 10 months.


Image result for 2017 geely emgrand ev
#3 – Geely Emgrand EV: The first true car in the ranking, by delivering 2.586 units in April, this compact sedan (Think Toyota Corolla) is set to become one of the Best Sellers of the Year. Main specs: 253 kms range, 95 hp, 250.000 Yuan (36.500$).


Image result for 2017 BYD e5
#5 – BYD e5: The current BYD best seller is the low key e5 sedan, that delivered a record 2.512 units last month. A favorite among taxi companies, along with its e6 older brother, the plain-Jane looking e5 actually has a lot going for it, spec-wise: 305 kms range from a 48 kWh battery and a healthy 218 hp, all for 230.000 Yuan (33.400$). A wolf in sheep’s clothing, isn’t it?


Image result for 2017 JAC i ev 5
JAC i EV 5

Year-to-Date Ranking – Geely and BYD reach the podium

Below the top two positions there was a lot to talk about, with the Geely Emgrand EV and BYD e5 jumping to the podium, followed by the Kandi EV (How many lives does this thing has?), now in Fifth Place, confirming the renewed success of tiny EV’s here.

A reference for the JAC iEV5, jumping into the Top 20 at #13, thanks to a record 1.670 deliveries in April. Was it a one time thing or will it be something to go on in the future?

Looking at the manufacturers ranking, BAIC (19%, down 4%) is seeing its leadership under threat, now followed by a recovering BYD (16%), with Zhidou now in third Place, with 10% share.


Pl
China
April
YTD
%
1
BAIC EC180
4.352
11.481
12
2
Zhidou D2 EV
3.709
9.508
10
3
Geely Emgrand EV
2.586
4.489
5
3
BYD e5
2.512
4.489
5
5
6
7
8
Kandi K17 EV
BYD Tang
JMC E100
BAIC EU260
2.586
1.534
1.222
475
4.485
4.340
4.181
3.996
5
5
5
4
9
SAIC Roewe eRX5
580
3.797
4
10
Zotye E200
1.129
3.295
4
11
Tesla Model X e)
500
3.264
4
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20

BYD Qin EV300
JAC iEV 5
SAIC Roewe e550
JMC E200
BAIC EX200
Tesla Model S e)
Chery eQ
BYD e6
Changan Benni EV
Others
639
1.670
111
603
580
200
1.049
821
609
4.884
2.685
2.677
2.449
2.297
2.277
2.235
2.169
2.080
2.017
14.557
3
3
3
2
2
2
2
2
2

TOTAL Market
32.351
92.768
100




Wednesday, May 24, 2017

China New Models April 2017



April saw the arrival of two models that have potential for a Top 20 position and represent a new chapter in each automaker commitment with EV's.

BYD Song PHEV - Landing with a relevant 218 units, this is the first plug-in version of the all-important Song / Yuan crossovers to reach the market, their job is to replicate the BYD Tang success, but in a smaller size and with the option of BEV and PHEV versions. As always with BYD, specs are impressive, with 80 to 100 kms electric range, thanks to a 18.4 kWh battery, and a 0-100 kms/h in just 4.9 seconds, all for only $45.000. 

I believe success is pretty much garanteed, just as a Top 20 (10?) feature, with the fiercest competition coming from in-house: After all, the buyer can choose not only between the BEV and PHEV versions of the Song, but the cheaper and smaller Yuan BEV / PHEV versions could also steal some customers...Should BYD be up to the task and make a large quantity of these "Dinasty" EV's on top of the existing portfolio, then the Chinese brand will have a killer second half of the year, not only becoming the biggest Chinese EV maker of the year, but possibly* the largest in the World. For the third time in a row.

* - The only true contender to BYD for the World Ceptre is Tesla, should all go for the best for the American brand and they could reach some 200.000 deliveries this year, same as the BYD goal for 2017.


Buick Velite 5 - A China-only fancier version of the Chevrolet Volt, the Buick Velite is the first serious attempt by General Motors to crack the all-important Chinese EV Market, sharing the specs with the more mundane Chevy Volt allows it to present an outstanding electric range for a plug-in hybrid (116 kms) all while being pretty fast (0-100 kms in 7 seconds), and the best thing is that because it's locally made, it doesn't cost a fortune (266.000 Yuan, or 38.500 USD).

Will it be successful? Being a good product in its own right, the GM product has failed in its first Asian venture (Sales in South Korea average 15 units/month), let's see if the strength of the Buick name in China makes it jump into three (four?) digit sales and steal some customers from the similarly-specced, but cheaper (190.000 Yuan) BYD Qin PHEV. Registrations in the landing month: 67 units.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Germany April 2017

Image result for Zoe vs i3
Running for #1

Two horse race in hot market

Over 3.500 plug-in passenger cars were registered last month in Germany, up 132% YoY, with YTD sales growing 87%, it's been a long time coming, but it looks the German market finally jumped into the EV bandwagon.

Looking at April Best Selling models, the Audi A3 e-Tron was the surprise leader, registering 380 units, followed by the BMW i3 (357 units) and the Outlander PHEV (294).

Below these three, we find the Renault Zoe, that had some delivery issues, thus registering only 280 units, with the Kia Soul EV ending the month in Fifth, with 223 units. How many of these will end up in Norway?

PlModel
Sales  
1Audi A3 e-Tron380
2BMW i3 *
357
3Mitsu. Outlander PHEV294
3
Renault Zoe
280
5
Kia Soul EV
223

Looking at the YTD ranking, the Top Two BMW i3 and Renault Zoe continue their two horse race, this time with the BMW model recovering some ground.

Below these two, things are anything less interessing, with several changes across the ranking:

- The Audi A3 e-Tron switched positions with the Outlander PHEV, with the German hatchback now sitting in the last place of the podium;

- The VW Passat GTE climbed one position to #8, while the Golf siblings also had positive months, thanks to the arrival of the first restyled units, with the PHEV Golf GTE jumping to #15, thanks to 187 deliveries (Best result in 21 months), while the BEV e-Golf was up to #18, with 128 registrations in April, its best result in eight months;

- Five positions jump for the veteran Volvo V60 Plug-in, now at #22, thanks to 72 registrations in April, its best performance in over a year;

- Brilliant performances across the Mercedes line-up, with three(!) models hitting record numbers (B250e, GLC350e and S500e), it seems the German automaker has finally Seen the Light and is actually pushing sales of their plug-ins...  

In the manufacturers ranking, BMW (24%, down 1%) is on the lead, followed by Mercedes (12%, up 1%), Volkswagen and Renault (Both at 11%). With Audi in a close Fifth (10%), expect soon the Top 4 places to belong to local brands.

PlGermanyApril YTD%'16 Pl
1
2
Renault Zoe
BMW i3 *
280
357
1.478
1.448
11
11
2
1
3
4
Audi A3 e-Tron
Mitsu. Outlander PHEV
380
294
1.154
1.098
8
8
4
6
5
6
BMW 225xe Active Tour.
Tesla Model S
218
124
990
840
7
6
10
5
7Kia Soul EV22377967
8Volkswagen Passat GTE15450849
9
10
Mercedes C350e e)
Nissan Leaf
121
35
427
412
3
3
15
11
11
12
Volkswagen e-Up!
Tesla Model X
69
73
391
380
3
3
17
19
13
14
15
16
Mercedes GLC350e
Mercedes B250e
Volkswagen Golf GTE
Audi Q7 e-Tron
126
123
187
42
351
337
279
226
3
2
2
2
23
18
8
13
16BMW 330e
49
226220
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35

Volkswagen e-Golf
Mercedes E350e
Volvo XC90 T8
Mercedes GLE500e
Volvo V60 Plug-In
Peugeot iOn
Hyundai Ioniq Electric
BMW 530e
Porsche Cayenne PHEV
BMW 740e
BMW i8
Mercedes S500e e)
Mini Countryman PHEV
BMW X5 40e
Citroen C-Zero
Opel Ampera-e
Nissan e-NV200/Evalia
Por. Panamera PHEV
Others
128
62
21
43
72
20
73
75
28
22
25
40
11
16
16
3
4
26
8
223
222
204
165
145
142
141
137
116
105
104
99
88
79
76
71
66
61
45
2
2
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
0
0
0
12
32
13
24
25
20
20
N/A
21
28
27
26
N/A
22
34
N/A
29
30

TOTAL
3.548
13.613
100


* - 222 Bev + 135 Rex 


Source: kba.de

Monday, May 22, 2017

France April 2017

Image result for 2017 e-Golf and Golf GTE
The restyled Golf plug-ins are eager to recover their laurels

Golf plug-ins return to form in slipping French market

The French EV passenger car market had its worst result of the year in April, with only 2.119 registrations last month, down 23% YoY, but YTD the market is still up 5% regarding the same period in 2016.

The mass delivery of the 40 kWh version of the Renault Zoe had a hiccup last month, with deliveries down 5% YoY to 939 units, but do not fret too much on this, as it isn't a case of waning demand, but just another production/delivery constraint, something that unfortunately many hot selling EV's suffer from. 

In the remaining April top positions, besides the usual Nissan Leaf (#2, with 198 units) and BMW i3 (#4, 100), two German models excel: The Mercedes GLC350e registered 125 units, confirming its fashionable status in the market, while the VW Golf GTE benefitted from the first deliveries of the restyled version to score 83 units, its best result since last October. It seems the German Hot Hatch is back to reclaim its Best Selling PHEV status.

PlModelSales  
1Renault Zoe939
2
Nissan Leaf
198
3Mercedes GLC350e125
4BMW i3 *100
5Volkswagen Golf GTE83

In a market known for its stability, few significant changes occurred, in this case the main news were the climb to Fourth Place by the trendy Mercedes GLC350e, while the 2016 Best Selling PHEV Golf GTE jumped five positions to #17, while its all electric cousin, the VW e-Golf, had its best result in three years(!), delivering 25 units of the new 36 kWh version, rising to #29.

In the brands ranking, Renault (49%) continues to be the Master In Command, followed at a distance by BMW (8%), Mercedes and Nissan (Both with 7%). Expect Volkswagen to recover ground soon, jumping to a share well above its current 2%.

Pl
France
April
2017
%
'16Pl
1
Renault Zoe 
939
6.130
49
1
2
Nissan Leaf 
198
931
7
2
3
BMW i3 *
100
540
4
4
4
Mercedes GLC350e
125
453
4
25
5
Peugeot iOn
51
416
3
5
6
Kia Soul EV
45
281
2
7
7
Tesla Model S
38
244
2
9
8
Volvo XC90 PHEV
71
239
2
10
9
10
11
12
13
BMW 225xe Active Tourer
Mercedes C350e
Volkswagen Passat GTE
BMW X5 40e
Citröen C-Zero 
59
1033
43
27
223
207
161

154
143
2
21
1
1
18
25
20
1311
13
Audi A3 e-Tron
26
143
1
12
15
Porsche Cayenne PHEV
41
133
1
16
16
17
Tesla Model X
Volkswagen Golf GTE
24
83
123
117
1
1
32
6
18
Hyundai Ioniq Electric
26
100
1
31
18
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34

Audi Q7 e-Tron
BMW 330e
Citröen e-Mehari 
Mercedes E350e
Volkswagen e-Up!
Kia Optima PHEV
Nissan e-NV200 / Evalia
Mitsubishi I-Miev
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
Mercedes GLE500e
Volkswagen e-Golf
BMW 740e
Toyota Prius PHEV **
BMW 530e
Bolloré Blue Car
Mercedes S500e
Others
22
15
23
4
12
4
6
12
10
5
25
9
4
14
2

9
100
95
81
73
61
42
40
35
33
30
28
27
20
18
14
2
16
1
1
1
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
37
23
19
41
27
30
15
34
22
33
35
38
37
N/A
742

TOTAL
2.119
11.464

Source: Avere France

* - 41 BEV + 59 REX

** - Includes 16 Gen 1 + 4 Gen 2 PiP


In the coming days i will publish a small serie of posts called: "Road Trip - Zooming in the USA". 

Spoiler alert: They include a Nissan Leaf and a BMW i3. Stay Tuned!