About the Author

Bradley Berman

Bradley writes about electric cars, autonomous vehicles, smart homes, and other tech that’s transforming society. He contributes to The New York Times, SAE International, Via magazine, Popular Mechanics, MIT Technology Review, and others. https://twitter.com/bradberman

Yesterday

The speculative list of Volkswagen electric cars keeps growing. The latest is a new all-electric sports car, as reported today by Autocar in the UK. In about five years, the first of a lineup of VW electric performance cars would borrow the “ID R” name from the company’s racing concept car.

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Last Thursday, the body of the last Chevrolet Impala inched down the assembly line at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant. Employees gathered around the car, snapping pictures of the final internal-combustion vehicle to be made at the storied Detroit plant. It will roll off the assembly line this week.

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February 22

Porsche this week opened a showcase of the EV-charging future at its plant in Leipzig, Germany. The facility has 12 350kW DC fast-chargers and 4 22kW AC chargers. The total capacity is 7 megawatts, making it Europe’s most powerful rapid-charge park, according to Porsche. EV drivers, regardless of vehicle brand, can use the facility free of charge through March, before a standard charging plan takes effect.

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February 21

Researchers at the University of Michigan this week published a paper titled, “Strategies to Limit Degradation and Maximize Li-ion Battery Service Lifetime.” The goal was to examine the best strategies for extending battery life, including for EV batteries. In the project, which was conducted in cooperation with the Responsible Battery Coalition, an industry association, researchers compared the owner’s manuals for electric cars with academic research.

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The world’s biggest gains in EV sales this year are expected in Europe. That’s because automakers face hefty fines if they don’t meet fleet-average CO2 emissions that increased in 2020 and continue a steep rise in the coming years. A new report from PA Consulting, a global consulting firm, shows that Europe’s 13 top auto manufacturers will face more than €14.5 billion in fines. Electric-car sales are increasing but not fast enough.

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February 20

Geely, the China carmaker behind Volvo, Polestar, and Lynk & Co, was rumored this week to be making a $300 million investment in Nio. Reports about the investment come from Yuguan Cheshi, a WeChat-based media outlet. That’s only the latest in a wave of rumors about how Nio will emerge from its financial woes.

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The myChevrolet mobile app allows drivers to do things like remote starts, unlock doors, and gain access to vehicle data. The app’s Energy Assist feature for Bolt EV drivers has been available since 2017. But GM over the past few months has been enhancing its features, including the presentation of dynamic information about a public charger’s status.

The company wants the myChevrolet app to become the only app a Bolt driver uses, but that might be a hard sell.

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February 19

Last week, Daimler CEO Ola Källenius said “it will be a challenge” meeting 2020 and 2021 stricter emission targets in Europe. That left the question about how the maker of Mercedes-Benz vehicles would get below 95 g/km of CO2 (with 95% phase-in for 2020) to avoid paying steep fines. In an email to Electrek, a company spokesperson said it “plans to quadruple the share of plug-in hybrids and fully electric vehicles in total sales in 2020.”

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If the 200-plus miles of range offered by a Renault Zoe EV aren’t enough for a long-distance trip, just latch on a 60kWh charging-on-the-go trailer in order to more than double its electric distance. That’s what EP Tender, a French startup, hopes that electric-car drivers will do with its proposed product. The company went back to the drawing board after offering internal-combustion charger-trailers for several years.

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February 18

Volkswagen has promised 20 new EVs by 2025. Most of these models combine an “ID” prefix with a double “zz” in the name. There’s the ID Crozz crossover coming later this year to the US and the ID Buzz van to follow. VW unveiled the ID Vizzion wagon at last year’s LA Auto Show.

The UK’s Autocar reported today that VW will also introduce the off-road-oriented ID Ruggdzz in 2023. Volkswagen told the publication that it wants to create a line of electric models “with the same timeless and classless qualities as the original Beetle.”

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BMW had a good year in 2019. The brand sold 324,826 vehicles in the US last year. That’s an increase of 4.4% from 2018, according to Wards Intelligence. But to keep that momentum, BMW leadership – meeting with its franchises at this week’s NADA conference – talked about making a big national push of its new, pure EVs starting to arrive late this year.

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February 17

Nearly 1 in 5 cars in Bergen, Norway’s second-largest city, are fully electric. The reality that such a place exists has sent oil and fuel-retail companies to Norway to prepare for the disruption ahead.

London’s Financial Times reported this week that Canada’s Couche-Tard, a multinational company with about 15,000 convenience stores, is using Norway as a “laboratory” to study a future without gas stations. Couche-Tard replaced fuel pumps with EV chargers in some of its Circle K gas stations in Scandinavia.

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Dealerships are often the weakest link in the EV marketing pipeline. An automaker can run flashy, expensive ads about EVs at the national level – but when consumers respond with a visit to a dealership, they too often get turned off by disinterested or ill-informed sales folks. Volkswagen is taking steps not only to avoid this problem but to fund EV dynamic marketing at the local level.

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February 15

Alan Day Group, a network of three UK dealerships, said that the first 35 all-electric Volkswagen ID3 cars will arrive around March 28 or 29. That’s according to ThisIsMoney.com, a financial website. However, Volkswagen confirmed with Electrek that the schedule for the first deliveries remains summer 2020.

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February 14

Larry Hutchinson, CEO of Toyota Canada, spoke last week at the opening of the 2020 Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto. His comments were captured by Driving.ca’s David Booth, who characterized Toyota as “the industry leader in electrification” and “the biggest, most successful, and most environmentally conscious traditional automaker.”

Hutchinson expressed Toyota’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions. But, he argues, that mandating automakers to build more BEVs and trying “to convince drivers to buy them” won’t achieve the world’s climate goals.

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The Mustang Mach-E will be rolled out to dealerships across the US starting in late 2020. But Ford is not waiting until then to train technicians to service the all-electric SUV. The company developed a virtual-reality training tool with Bosch, the tier-one supplier, to get the training started sooner rather than later.

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February 13

Cody Thacker, the chief of Audi of America’s electric-vehicle initiative, said the pace of EV adoption will rapidly increase in the next couple of years. He delivered his remarks at the Economic Club of Chicago last week. expand full story

This year is a critical year for EVs in Europe, where automakers are struggling to meet more onerous CO2 regulations. So we’re keeping an eye open for electric-car introductions at the 2020 Geneva Motor Show, which opens for media on March 3.

The EVs at Geneva give a sneak preview of what’s coming to European roadways. However, so far, we’re only seeing four noteworthy pure-EV introductions – including the return of the Fiat 500e and Europe’s first Chinese EV on the market.

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February 12

Daimler CEO Ola Källenius this week said that meeting 2020 and 2021 stricter emission targets in Europe “will be a challenge.” That could mean big fines for Daimler.

Despite the struggle, Källenius said that he would not reduce prices for the company’s Mercedes-Benz electric cars. “We need to act in an economically rational way,” he said. “It is very important to achieve adequate prices on these cars and not to destroy the pricing levels.”

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Skoda, the Czech subsidiary owned by Volkswagen, announced today that its first new purpose-built EV will be called the Enyaq. It will use the Volkswagen Group’s MEB platform, which also underpins the ID Crozz electric SUV that goes on sale in the US later this year.

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