Gas2 Week in Review, March 5, 2017: Lots of EV News
This week on Gas2 we reported about EV sales figures on a 2017 month-to-month comparison, with some surprising results. The issue of connectivity and its relationship to privacy rights brought up some interesting questions about technology innovations in transportation. And more rumors about Tesla’s EV for the People circulated, with curiosity about a Panasonic patent for car solar roofs being associated with a new Model 3 option. Honda’s Clarity has been scrutinized for its EV low range, and another female engineer has come forward with gender equity complaints, this time against EV superstar Tesla. Here are those stories and more, in cases you missed them.
Chevrolet’s February sales for the EV Bolt underperformed the previous month, especially in relation to competitors like the Volt, Prius Prime, Tesla Model S, Ford Fusion Energi, and Ford C-Max Energi. That performance level, alongside historical trends in which EV sales were up 55% in February compared to the same month a year ago, points to increases in EV sales of 62% on average. 2017 will see the introduction of some very appealing new models for mainstream shoppers.
Most Americans’ movements are tracked every second of every day through the digital web via smartphones. Additionally, the barrier between connected cars and personal privacy is getting weaker all the time. With Tesla’s announcement that it is working with insurance company partners to include the cost of insurance in the price of its Asian market, who knows how long it will be until that policy is translated to other markets and vehicles? Data collection, which is stored for later analysis, includes GPS information as well as speed and movements of the steering wheel, among other parameters. To what degree are we willing to limit our freedoms through vehicle self-reporting?
Panasonic’s patented HIT solar cell technology, which results in high conversion efficiency and excellent performance across a wide range of external temperatures, can be applied to an EV’s roof and significantly increase the range of a car without the need for the driver to connect it to a charging station. Since Tesla recently introduced a glass roof option on the Model S and prototypes of the Tesla Model 3 have included a glass roof option, how long will it be before Tesla and its Gigafactory battery partner, Panasonic, work together to offer a Model 3 glass solar roof option?
Honda’s decision to design the Clarity with minimal chassis size to be consistent with lowest possible price target (before incentives) has created a conundrum: there is simply no way it can fit the car with a larger battery. As a result, the battery-powered Clarity will likely be comparable in range to the Fit with about 80 miles of range.The typical EV driver has range anxiety as it is, but an EV with such limited range as the Clarity points to a prohibitively diminished target audience.
Another female engineer is in the news for complaints against her technology sector employer. AJ Vandermeyden, a dedicated Tesla employee since 2013, has sued the EV car company over discrimination issues, including including unequal pay, lack of access to promotions, and sexual harassment. Vandermayden first filed a formal complaint with the company last fall, but her concerns were not adequately addressed, so she has since filed a lawsuit. The action has the potential to impact her job and her career at a time in which myths of equal workplaces still make it very difficult for women to come forward with workplace concerns. Human resources departments at tech companies are often alleged to protect the employer over the employee in today’s cultural climate.