Gas2 Week in Review, June 18: Tesla Competitors Race Late to the Starting Line — Plus Le Mans!

Tesla competitors are at it again. Some have been bragging how their imminent EV production revelations are sure to rival the revolutionary all-electric automaker. Uh, huh. Others are doing their gosh-awful best to stymie Tesla’s entry into direct sales to customers.

Several of these Tesla stories caught our readers’ attention this week, as did advance speculation about Toyota’s possible dominance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Here are those stories and more on this week’s edition of the “Gas2 Week in Review.”

Tesla competitors

China’s CHJ Automotive Plans $7,900 Ultra Compact Electric Car

Chinese company CHJ Automotive plans to introduce a moderately-priced all-electric car that will compete in demand with Tesla. Co-founder Kevin Shen announced that their EV will cost $7,800, with distribution date sometime in 2018. Working alongside the French ride sharing service, Clem, CHJ is testing the cars in Paris. Though an affluent Tesla owner would be unlikely to drive this electric microcar, many of the 340 million people in China who commute daily with e-scooters probably would be. New government regulations will push the number of EVs sold in China over the next few years, and several automakers are trying to enter the Chinese market in anticipation of high sales. This includes an $8,000 Nissan that is planned to be about 1 meter wide and 2.5 meters long, will have a swappable battery, and will utilize Google’s Android Auto operation system.

New Fisker EMotion Revealed: 400 Mile Range, 9 Minute Charge Time

The new Fisker EMotion electric sedan will compete directly with the Tesla Model S. So says Danish-born automotive designer, Henrik Fisker, known for the Aston Martin DB9 and Viking motorcycle, among other innovative iconic vehicles. His claim to fame these days is that he is developing electric vehicles with “game changing” battery solutions. Enter the EMotion, which Fisker says can go 400 miles on a full battery charge and then recharge in just 9 minutes. Graphene-infused supercapacitors developed by a team of researchers at UCLA are credited with making such fast recharging times possible.

Our readers zeroed in on the potential for long mileage with the new battery solutions, suggesting, “I like the range and recharge time on that battery. Would silence a lot of EV naysayers…..if it’s true and it works as described.”

Analysts Predict Tesla May Soon Have A Near Monopoly On Market For Electric Cars

You know that fabulous Tesla stock, which has risen to about $380 per share? Well, financial investment company Berenberg did an analysis of the stock and states that it could surge another 30% in the next 12 months! His team has also suggested that Tesla could soon have a near monopoly in the market for electric cars.  While so-called competitors have no clear pathway to high-volume EV production before the mid-2020s, Tesla, the Berenberg analysts say, has dedicated itself to an infrastructure that can make it successful over the long haul. For example, it plans to invest almost $33 billion in electric vehicle projects over the next five years, far exceeding what Mercedes and Volkswagen plan to spend over the same period.

Reader comments about the analysts’ predictions and lack of Tesla competitors included the following:

  • “Lower prices, better tech, longer range and faster charging times will help the EV market grow. If Tesla can score on all those points, then, yes, it will have the lion’s share of the EV market, however small or big it is.”
  • “Tesla will probably have a cost advantage for batteries. Tesla will also probably be able to produce the rest of the car for less money due to their new approach to factory design. And Tesla will have a price advantage with suppliers since they will be producing in higher numbers.”
  • “Someone is mistaking the word ‘leadership’ for ‘monopoly’.”
  • “Even if Tesla is able to rump up production according to Mask’s plans, and I hope they can, it will have to compete in China with the likes of Geely and BYD that already sell in thousands per month. And the EV adoption is government mandated!”

Texas EV Rebate Law Slaps Tesla Again, Musk Courts India

It is a good news/ bad news scenario for Texans interested in EVs, as their state legislature has renewed a $2,500 rebate on qualifying low- or zero-emissions cars. Yeah, that’s the good news. The bad news is that the program must be administered by franchise car dealers, and, since Texas law prohibits Tesla from selling cars directly to customers, Texans who want to apply the rebate to a sparkly new Tesla are SOOL. Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas, described the 2017 Texas legislative session as “a pretty lousy session for the environment.” In addition to turning its back again on Tesla, the Legislature further “weakened local and citizen rights to fight pollution, a clear loss for public health and the environment.”

One astute Gas2 reader noted,

“SpaceX has a rocket-development facility in McGregor, Texas; and offices in Houston, Texas plus a Space Port is being developed in Boca Chica Village near Brownsville, Texas for and by SpaceX. You may think that those sites employ a number of Texans and generate a fair amount of tax revenue for the state. A lesser man than Mr. Musk might reconsider how much more he would like to invest in that state. Even if the story of the incentive turns out to be false (I have no idea either way), there is no disputing the fact that again Tesla has been refused the right to sell its vehicle in Texas short of selling through a dealership.”

The disrespect sent to Telsa from the Texas legislature didn’t stop Tesla from looking elsewhere for governments who are eager to help its citizens purchase upscale all-electric vehicles. India, which is projected to be the third largest automobile market oh-so-soon, recently announced plans to restrict new car sales to only electric cars by 2030. Tesla CEO Elon Musk seems to want a little help from India’s government, though, primarily to relax its import tariffs. The company has been arguing that its corporate philosophy aligns with the goals of the national government. So, too, would a Tesla factory and its associated jobs for India’s citizens.

Toyota Locks Out Front Row At Le Mans, Kobayashi Smashes Lap Record

Toyota driver Kamui Kobayashi set the lap record by more than 2 seconds and took pole by nearly 3 seconds at the preliminaries to the 24 Hours of LeMans. Kobayashi evaporated the previous lap record of  3:14.8  which Hans Stuck set in 1985. The circuit then didn’t even have four of the corners of the current circuit layout. With such a blazing performance, much was expected of the Toyota team. They and the other teams would be tested by endurance, mechanical breakdowns and associated repairs, and collisions with other cars. Never mind how shuffling through traffic, especially at night, requires every ounce of attention a driver can muster.

  • One Gas2 reader commented, “Let’s see how Toyota will do this year reliability wise.”
  • Another looked to the future: “Hopefully Toyota puts this drive train on a road car as well…”

Well, as we now know, Toyota could not hold onto its illustrious start, as hybrid system repairs, a clutch issue, and contact with another car dashed Toyota’s hopes for a win by hour 12. The 24 Hours of Le Mans for Porsche, however, was breathtaking…

Photo credit: Wonderlane via / CC BY

Carolyn Fortuna

Carolyn grew up in Stafford Springs, CT, home of the half-mile tar racetrack. She's an avid Formula One fan (this year's trip to the Monza race was memorable). With a Ph.D. from URI, she draws upon digital media literacy and learning to spread the word about sustainability issues. Please follow me on Twitter and Facebook and Google+