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Huawei’s First Autopilot: Polar Fox Alpha S Electric Car Unveiled

Henry Brown wrote . . . . . . . . .

Chinese car giant BAIC has unveiled its new electric car, Polar Fox Alpha S. The car is positioned as a mid-high-end model with prices ranging from US$38,629 to US$52,890.

However, there is also a more expensive version – Polar Fox Alpha S Huawei HI with an installed Huawei autopilot. Such an electric car will cost from 59,638 to 65,925 U.S. dollars.

As the manufacturer promises, in the Huawei HI version, the autopilot will be able to cope with driving and parking in a modern city. The third-level autonomous driving system includes three lidars, 6 millimeter-wave radars, a dozen cameras and 13 ultrasonic radars, as well as a Huawei single-chip system.

The standard version of Polar Fox Alpha S received a motor with a maximum power of 160 kW, a torque of 360 Nm, acceleration of 100 km is promised in 7.7 seconds. The Huawei HI version received a motor with a maximum power of 320 kW, a torque of 720 Nm, acceleration of 100 km is promised in 4.2 seconds. The power reserve, depending on the configuration, can be 525, 603 and 708 km.

The media system based on the Huawei operating system, Hongmeng OS (HarmonyOS), supports 24 applications that are relevant to the Chinese market. Among the characteristics of the media system is a 21.69-inch screen with a resolution of 3840 x 720 pixels, as well as a Kirin 990A SoC with support for 5G cellular networks.

Source : Gadget Tendency

Watch video at You Tube (5:35 minutes) . . . .

SAIC’s $4,500 Electric Car Takes China by Storm

Shunsuke Tabeta wrote . . . . . . . . .

On the showroom floor of a SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile dealership in Chongqing, a salesman enthusiastically recommended the Wuling Hong Guang Mini EV, an electric car that has quickly won over Chinese drivers since its nationwide launch in July.

The boxy compact lives up to its name, measuring less than 3-meters long and 1.5-meters wide, yet can still accommodate four people. The price starts at 28,800 yuan ($4,460), though the most popular model, with air conditioning, goes for just over $5,000.

“If you make a 13,000 yuan down payment, the rest will be interest-free,” the salesman said.

Though the Hong Guang Mini lags well behind offerings from the likes of Tesla when it comes to range and performance, its convenience and low price have made it one of China’s bestselling “new-energy” vehicles, a category that includes electrics and plug-in hybrids.

The compact has been a big hit for state-owned SAIC Motor, China’s top automaker. SAIC holds a majority stake in SAIC-GM-Wuling, the joint venture that produces and sells the car and is known locally as Wuling, and General Motors is a major shareholder as well.

Marketed as “the people’s commuting tool,” the basic model can travel 120 km on a full charge and has a top speed of 100 kph — good enough for day-to-day driving for most consumers. It does not use a cutting-edge battery, which helps keep the price down, and it can conveniently be charged from a standard outlet.

The car sold 112,000 units between July and the end of 2020, ranking second for the year behind Tesla’s Model 3, but first on a monthly basis. It is also believed to be the second-best-selling electric model worldwide, again behind only the Model 3.

“Consumers give high marks to its low cost and its design,” said Alan Kang, an analyst at British research firm LMC Automotive.

“It’s sold especially well in Henan and Shandong provinces,” Kang said. Small, cheap electric vehicles that can be operated without a license — but cannot be driven on highways — have taken off in these areas in particular.

Some drivers of these micro-vehicles are trading up to the Hong Guang Mini. Third-tier cities account for more than 60% of the car’s total sales, according to Chinese media.

The compact could make an appearance outside China as well. Wuling said last August that it plans to export the Hong Guang Mini, and media reports indicate that it has partnered with a Latvian automaker to sell a version of the car in Europe, though the price is reportedly set to be twice as high due to Europe’s environmental requirements.

Like SAIC, Great Wall Motor has also enjoyed a boost from sales of budget electric cars. Its sales of new-energy cars in China jumped 45% by volume last year, lifting it to No. 6 in the market. This was thanks in large part to the Ora R1, also known as the “Black Cat,” with its cute design and 70,000 yuan price tag.

“There was a lot of support from consumers whose incomes fell due to the coronavirus,” said a staffer at a dealership in Hebei Province.

Meanwhile, high-end electric vehicles have also been performing just as well in sales, with Tesla tripling its sales volume in China. The Model 3 sells for about 250,000 yuan, even after price cuts following the launch of onshore production of the vehicle.

“Purchases from the middle class have grown due to the pent-up urge to spend from being unable to go on vacation overseas,” said an industry source.

Chinese EV startups seeking to become the next Tesla have gained as well. Nio has more than doubled its unit sales, putting the company eighth in new-energy vehicle sales last year, up from 13th place. Li Auto multiplied its unit sales 25 times to reach 10th place.

Altogether, China’s five largest EV startups, including WM Motor and Xpeng, expanded unit sales by 150% last year.

To offset the effect of the coronavirus epidemic, local governments enacted programs to stimulate consumption, and rolled out policies to support the mainstreaming of electric vehicles. These factors have buoyed the domestic market.

Liuzhou, the city that serves as Wuling’s headquarters, extended 1,000-yuan vouchers and offered to partially cover electric bills.

The Chinese government plans to have new-energy vehicles account for half of new auto sales by 2035. The market for new-energy passenger vehicles will expand by 45% this year, according to a projection by LMC.

Major global automakers will likely come back strong in China’s electric vehicle race. Volkswagen, which has led all vehicle sales in China, boosted sales of new energy vehicles by nearly 50% last year.

Source : Nikkei Asia

Apple Targets Car Production by 2024 and Eyes ‘Next Level’ Battery Technology

Stephen Nellis, Norihiko Shirouzu and Paul Lienert wrote . . . . . . . . .

Apple Inc is moving forward with self-driving car technology and is targeting 2024 to produce a passenger vehicle that could include its own breakthrough battery technology, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The iPhone maker’s automotive efforts, known as Project Titan, have proceeded unevenly since 2014 when it first started to design its own vehicle from scratch. At one point, Apple drew back the effort to focus on software and reassessed its goals. Doug Field, an Apple veteran who had worked at Tesla Inc, returned to oversee the project in 2018 and laid off 190 people from the team in 2019.

Since then, Apple has progressed enough that it now aims to build a vehicle for consumers, two people familiar with the effort said, asking not to be named because Apple’s plans are not public. Apple’s goal of building a personal vehicle for the mass market contrasts with rivals such as Alphabet Inc’s Waymo, which has built robo-taxis to carry passengers for a driverless ride-hailing service.

Central to Apple’s strategy is a new battery design that could “radically” reduce the cost of batteries and increase the vehicle’s range, according to a third person who has seen Apple’s battery design.

Apple declined to comment on its plans or future products.

Making a vehicle represents a supply chain challenge even for Apple, a company with deep pockets that makes hundreds of millions of electronics products each year with parts from around the world, but has never made a car. It took Elon Musk’s Tesla 17 years before it finally turned a sustained profit making cars.

“If there is one company on the planet that has the resources to do that, it’s probably Apple. But at the same time, it’s not a cellphone,” said a person who worked on Project Titan.

It remains unclear who would assemble an Apple-branded car, but sources have said they expect the company to rely on a manufacturing partner to build vehicles. And there is still a chance Apple will decide to reduce the scope of its efforts to an autonomous driving system that would be integrated with a car made by a traditional automaker, rather than the iPhone maker selling an Apple-branded car, one of the people added.

Two people with knowledge of Apple’s plans warned pandemic-related delays could push the start of production into 2025 or beyond.

Shares of Tesla ended 6.5% lower on Monday after their debut in the S&P 500 on Monday. Apple shares ended 1.24% higher after the news.

Apple has decided to tap outside partners for elements of the system, including lidar sensors, which help self-driving cars get a three-dimensional view of the road, two people familiar with the company’s plans said.

Apple’s car might feature multiple lidar sensors for scanning different distances, another person said. Some sensors could be derived from Apple’s internally developed lidar units, that person said. Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro and iPad Pro models released this year both feature lidar sensors.

Reuters had previously reported that Apple had held talks with potential lidar suppliers, but it was also examining building its own sensor.

As for the car’s battery, Apple plans to use a unique “monocell” design that bulks up the individual cells in the battery and frees up space inside the battery pack by eliminating pouches and modules that hold battery materials, one of the people said.

Apple’s design means that more active material can be packed inside the battery, giving the car a potentially longer range. Apple is also examining a chemistry for the battery called LFP, or lithium iron phosphate, the person said, which is inherently less likely to overheat and is thus safer than other types of lithium-ion batteries.

”It’s next level,” the person said of Apple’s battery technology. “Like the first time you saw the iPhone.”

Apple had previously engaged Magna International Inc in talks about manufacturing a car, but the talks petered out as Apple’s plans became unclear, a person familiar with those previous efforts said. Magna did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

To turn a profit, automotive contract manufacturers often ask for volumes that could pose a challenge even to Apple, which would be a newcomer to the automotive market.

“In order to have a viable assembly plant, you need 100,000 vehicles annually, with more volume to come,” the person said.

Some Apple investors reacted to the Reuters report on the company’s plans with caution. Trip Miller, managing partner at Apple investor Gullane Capital Partners, said it could be tough for Apple to produce large volumes of cars out of the gate.

“It would seem to me that if Apple develops some advanced operating system or battery technology, it would be best utilized in a partnership with an existing manufacturer under license,” Miller said. “As we see with Tesla and the legacy auto companies, having a very complex manufacturing network around the globe doesn’t happen overnight.”

Hal Eddins, chief economist at Apple shareholder Capital Investment Counsel, said Apple has a history of higher margins than most automakers.

“My initial reaction as a shareholder is, huh?” Eddins said. “Still don’t really see the appeal of the car business, but Apple may be eyeing another angle than what I’m seeing.”

Source : Reuters

Toyota’s Solid-State Battery Prototype Could Be an EV Game Changer

Aaron Gold wrote . . . . . . . . .

Imagine an electric car battery that provides more than 300 miles of range, charges in approximately ten minutes, requires no bulky heating and cooling systems, maintains 80 percent of its charge capacity for 800 cycles (about 240,000 miles), and isn’t prone to spontaneous combustion. Such is the promise of the solid-state car battery, a holy grail that automakers and manufacturers are racing to find. Now, Toyota announced it’ll have a running prototype with a solid-state battery ready by next year.

Before you yawn and click the back button on your browser, consider the implications of this technology. Range and charge times are the biggest barriers to EV adoption, and while a ten-minute charge is still quite a bit longer than it takes to fill a gas tank with liquid fuel, it’s a lot better than having to make lunch plans while your car recharges. A compact fast-charging battery could be the EV equivalent of the electric starter, as it would allow battery-powered electric cars to conquer internal-combustion power once and for all.

Toyota is far from the sole entrant in this race, nor is it the only company making headlines. Last week, a California company called QuantumScape, which has a strategic partnership with Volkswagen, announced promising test results for its own solid-state cell. Toyota’s announcement of its upcoming Euro-market electric SUV included the note that the company plans to have solid-state battery technology in its production vehicles by 2025.

Toyota, in partnership with Panasonic, currently has more than a thousand patents covering solid-state batteries, and Nissan is working on its own solid-state battery, which it claims will appear in a “non-simulation” vehicle by 2028. Toyota does not currently offer a battery-powered vehicle in the United States and hasn’t offered one since the 2012-2014 RAV4 EV, but it is about to launch an update of the hydrogen fuel cell powered Mirai. Nissan, meanwhile, offers the Leaf. The brand is also preparing to launch its first electric SUV: the Ariya.

Both Toyota and Nissan have the might of the Japanese government behind them. Japan is assembling a ¥2 trillion fund (around $19 billion) to support decarbonization technology, a significant part of which will be used to support the development of solid-state batteries (particularly the procurement of lithium, of which global reserves are finite). At least two major Japanese mining and oil companies, Mitsui Kinzoku and Idemitsu Kosan, are building infrastructure to produce solid electrolyte.

Japan is hoping early advances in solid-state technology will give it the lead in battery production over China and South Korea. The global market for next-generation batteries (those that perform better than existing lithium-ion batteries) is expected to grow from $39 million this year to $413 million in 2025, $3.1 billion in 2030, and $25.2 billion in 2035.

Needless to say, other companies are well into the race. Samsung has developed a solid-state battery using silver-carbon instead of lithium. This prototype battery has the potential for 500 miles of range in a pack half the size of a modern lithium-ion battery. Additionally, Colorado-based Solid Power is partnering with Ford and BMW to develop battery tech, while Mercedes is working with Hydro-Québec in Canada.

The race to develop a solid-state battery for electric vehicles is on, and if Toyota’s plans to produce a running prototype in 2021 come to fruition, then we could very well be looking at the dominant automotive technology of the future within the next year.

Source : Motor Trend

Japan Aims to Electrify Nation’s New Car Fleet by Mid-2030s

Japan will endeavor to make all new car sales eco-friendly by the mid-2030s as it joins a growing community of nations determined to slow the globe’s carbon emissions, Nikkei has learned.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is considering a goal of abolishing new sales of conventional cars, those powered solely by internal combustion engines, and shifting to hybrid cars and electric cars from the mid-2030s.

The target would be part of a more difficult goal the government has already set — becoming a zero-emissions society by 2050.

The government intends for the nation to take a crucial step toward that ideal by mandating electrified vehicles and thus reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

It will announce the policy after holding a conference in which experts and car industry executives will participate; the conference will be held this month. Later, it will sort out concrete measures for the transition to more hybrid and electric vehicles.

In 2018, vehicles accounted for 16% of Japan’s total emissions. Emissions from planes, ships and trains combined accounted for 3% or less.

The Energy Conservation Act regulates the fuel efficiency of vehicles.

Japan currently is obligating carmakers to improve efficiency by 30% by the end of fiscal 2030. However, the government now appears to believe a more stringent step is necessary if the country is to meet its zero-emissions goal.

Many territories say they plan to ban new sales of gasoline-powered cars beginning in 2030 and instead promote those of electric cars.

The U.K. will ban new sales of gasoline- and diesel-fueled cars by 2030, then hybrid cars by 2035. The U.S. state of California will ban sales of new gasoline cars by 2035. France will take a similar measure by 2040.

China is considering whether to mandate that eco-friendly vehicles make up all new car sales as early as 2035, with the goal that fully electric vehicles make up 50% of sales and hybrids accounting for the other half.

In Japan, where automakers like Toyota Motors have made advanced hybrid systems pillars of their new-energy strategies, hybrids will be considered eco-friendly, and the government will not ban their sales.

This approach differs from that of the U.K., where new hybrid sales are scheduled for that 2035 graveyard.

To promote the shift from gasoline cars to electric and hybrid vehicles, lowering the price of lithium-ion batteries will be crucial. To this end, the government is considering tax breaks for companies that invest in production facilities for new batteries that can contribute to the zero-emissions target.

Japanese carmakers are accelerating the shift to alternative-energy cars.

Toyota plans to offer an electrified option for all models by 2025. It sells a wide range of such vehicles — hybrids, plug-in hybrids and fuel cell cars. It aims to sell 5.5 million electrified vehicles globally by 2025.

The storied automaker in 2020 will begin selling more than 10 electrified vehicle models. These models last year accounted for 40% of all Toyota and Lexus car sales in Japan.

Nissan Motor is aiming to raise the ratio of hybrid and electric car sales from 30% of all domestic sales to 60% by 2023. The new Note compact, which hits showrooms this month, will be available only as a hybrid. Honda Motor, meanwhile, is aiming to make two-thirds of all four-wheeled vehicle sales electrified. It began selling its first mass-produced electric vehicle, the Honda e, this year.

Source : Nikkei Asia

Shift to Electric Vehicles in Emerging Markets Will ‘End Oil Era’

China is leading a switch to electric vehicles (EV) in emerging markets which will save governments $250 billion a year in oil imports and cut expected growth in global oil demand by 70%, finds a new report from the financial think tank Carbon Tracker published on Friday.

It’s thought to be the first study to reveal that transport in emerging markets accounts for more than 80% of all expected growth in oil demand up to 2030, based on an analysis of the International Energy Agency’s business as usual scenario. Half of the growth is forecast to come from China and India.

But the report notes that these countries are already reducing their dependence on oil and actively supporting EVs as prices fall close to those of petrol and diesel vehicles. China leads the world in the deployment of EV and India is following the same path.

Most governments have strong incentives to electrify their transport systems. Emerging markets – India, China, South East Asia and most of Africa – spend huge sums on oil imports every year, and two thirds (68%) is used for transport. Oil imports cost 1.5% of China’s GDP and 2.6% of India’s GDP.

Nothing to lose but your chains: The emerging market transport leapfrog calculates that a switch to EVs could save emerging markets up to $250 billion a year collectively on oil imports by 2030, more than enough to pay for the infrastructure needed to support electrified transport. Annual savings would be over $80 billion in China and over $35 billion in India.

There are also strong public health grounds to cut oil use. Pollution linked to road transport causes 285,000 deaths a year in oil-importing emerging markets, including 114,000 in China and 74,000 in India, reports the International Council on Clean Transportation.

Battery prices have fallen 20% a year since 2010, stimulating huge new markets for EVs. The next few years will see them fall from $135/KWh to below $100/KWh, the point at which EVs become as cheap to buy as conventional vehicles. By 2030 they will be cheaper still – BNEF forecasts a battery price of $61/KWh while carmakers like VW and Tesla expect $50/KWh.

Chinese central planning has supported the country’s EV industry for many years as a means to reduce oil dependency and establish a lead in the emerging technology. China’s BYD is now the world’s fifth biggest carmaker, with a larger market capitalisation than General Motors.

In 2019, EVs accounted for 61% of China’s two-wheeler sales and 59% of bus sales, and the government plans that by 2025 one in five cars sold will be an EV. President Xi Jinping’s recent commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2060 implies that all car sales in China will need to have an EV drivetrain by 2035.

Other countries are poised to follow. The Indian government plans for EVs to make up 30% of car sales by 2030, but local forecasters believe that by that date 30% of cars and 80% of two-wheeler sales could be electric.[1]

Shift to EVs will pay for itself

Countries can finance the shift to EVs from the huge savings they will make on oil imports. Carbon Tracker calculates that the cost of importing oil for the average car is ten times higher than the cost of the solar equipment needed to power an equivalent EV.[2] The annual cost per car of imported gasoline is almost the same as the total cost of local charging infrastructure for an EV.[3]

Moreover, switching to EVs brings wider economic benefits by cutting the price of any remaining oil imports. Emerging markets are the single biggest driver of expected growth in demand for oil, so if that trend plays out it could contribute to prices falling by up to a quarter.

Electrification also opens up the opportunity for emerging economies to follow China’s lead in new technology. As EVs approach cost price parity carmakers and entrepreneurs are likely to develop new solutions to gain market share.

The report suggests that governments are likely to adopt supportive policies designed to reach cost price parity as quickly as possible and then encourage consumers to switch by taxing and eventually phasing out conventional vehicles.

The alternative, continuing with fossil fuel transport policies, would require countries to invest in building a network of refineries, pipelines and filling stations with the risk that they would become obsolete stranded assets.

Global oil demand is expected to increase by 5.3mbpd from 2019-2030, according to the IEA’s STEPS scenario, which is based on policies announced by governments, representing business as usual. Emerging markets are expected to increase oil imports for road transport by 4.4mbpd up to 2030, accounting for more than 80% of the total growth in oil demand, ahead of plastics (3.0mbpd) and international aviation and shipping (1.3mbpd).

Carbon Tracker illustrates the impact of a switch to EVs by using the IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS), which projects that by 2030 EVs will account for 40% of car sales in China, 30% in India and 20% in the rest of the emerging markets. The report notes that these are ‘relatively unambitious’ figures.

This scenario would see emerging markets’ oil imports for road transport rise by just 0.6mbpd by 2030, slashing expected global growth in demand for oil by 70%. Under SDS, oil prices would be a quarter lower than under STEPs. Reduced imports and lower prices would cut emerging markets’ collective oil bill by 38% saving them $250 billion a year.

Source : Carbon Tracker

U.K. Demand for Electric Cars Growing Despite COVID Crisis

Source : Statista