Category Archives: Electric Vehicles

Electric and extended range electric vehicles

Where Are We Now?

A lot of stuff has happened in the auto world in the last three years:

  • Fisker is gone
  • A123 is gone
  • The 2nd Generation Chevy Volt is in production
  • BMW begins delivery of an EV, the i3
  • The Tesla Model S is a roaring  success
  • Production of the Tesla Model X is about to begin
  • Tesla begins construction of the Gigabyte Battery factory
  • Tesla announces that production will begin on a low cost EV, the Model 3 in 2017
  • GM announces it will produce a low cost EV, the Bolt in 2017

It’s amazing that one company’s name appears in most of these events – Tesla. Every major automobile manufacturer has announced plans for production of an EV, and all of this is a reaction to the success of Tesla. One company along has started the electric vehicle revolution. After watching Tesla for a number of years, and assuming (hoping) Tesla would fail, the other manufacturers finally realized electric cars weren’t going away. Tesla proved that current battery technology was good enough to begin producing electric cars. And not just  a golf cart in the guise of a car, but beautiful, high performance, award winning electric cars. Consumer Reports says that the Model S was the best car they have ever tested. This eliminated any arguments that the pending fuel economy standards were unobtainable.

 

 

 

 

Failure and Success

This post is about the flip sides of the coin of failure and success.

 

It very much appears that EVER (Electric Vihicle with Extended Range)  car maker, Fisker Automotive is on its last legs and is about to file for bankruptcy. Fisker makes the $100,000 plus Fisher Karma. Fisker first ran into trouble when its’ Department of Energy (DOE) loan was frozen, due to failure to meet various production benchmarks for the production of the Karma. This happen just after the failure of startup solar cell maker Solydra, which was also funded by the DOE. Despite many negotiation sessions between Fisker and the DOE, there was no way that the DOE loan was going to be restored in the charge political atmosphere  after the failure of Solydra. The purpose of the $529 million loan, was mostly, to allow Fisker to renovate a factory in Maryland for production of its next generation, lower price EVER sedan, the Atlantic. Whereas the Karma was a $100,000 two seater, the Atlantic was to be a $50,000 sedan. The straw that really broke the camels back (to coin a phrase), was a battery recall, caused by failures of lithium-ion batteries in a number of Karmas. It was Fiskers bad luck that one of the Karmas was being tested by Consumer Reports, when the battery failed. The batteries were made by another startup company A123. The battery failure was due to a manufacturing  defect in A123’s.new factory. The battery failure was catastrophic  for both companiles. To recall and replace the batteries cost A123 something in the neighbor of $50 million, at a time when it was already cash strapped, due to slower then expected EV adoption rates. A123, which had the leading lithium-ion battery technology, was a contender to be the battery supplier for the Chevy Volt. A123 ultimately was forced to sell itself to the Chinese giant Wanxiang Group. Wanxiang got the most advanced lithium-ion technology, funded by the US tax payers, for a bargain. We’ll talk more about A123 in another post. Back to Fisker – as a result of the Solydra failure, missed milestones, and the lithium-ion battery failure, Fisker will probably be forced to file for bankruptcy soon. This is really a shame, because the Atlantic, which was first unveiled in April 2012 at the NY Auto Show, had the potential of being a great car.

 

The success story is Tesla Motors. The Tesla Model S, which started production late summer 2012, has been an over whelming  success. The Model S, a fully electric vehicle, won Motor Trend’s 2013 Car of the Year, and many other awards. The factory which produces the Model S is up to full production capacity, and there is a backlog of orders. Tesla’s first car was the Roadster, a $100,000 plus two seater. The Model S price ranges from $62,400 to $87,400, depending on battery capacity.

Tesla recently reported their first quarterly profit, and expects to be profitable for the year. Tesla chairman, Elon Musk, recently announced that Tesla will pay back it’s DOE loan five years early. Take that Milt Romney, and all other electric car and DOE critics!

Model S Production Begins

As was previously announced , Tesla Motors began production of the Tesla Model S this past Friday. Tesla celebrated these first production cars (actually, a Tesla board member received his Model S several weeks ago.) with a launch ceremony at the Tesla factory. The first lucky owners were presented with the keys to their new Model S by the man himself, Elon Musk.  You can watch the complete ceremony here –  http://vimeo.com/44558698 .

What a beautiful car the Model S is! Look for followup reports on the JaxsMac website as driver reviews come in.