Talk is cheap. Action is hard. Last December, the US, Canada, and Mexico signed on to support the climate change initiatives contained in the COP21 emissions agreement entered into by all the nations of the world in Paris. Here is is six months later and it is time to figure out how to make those promises a reality.
Originally published on EV Obsession.
Following sales reports on June US electric car sales, Europe electric car sales, and China electric car sales, I thought it would be interesting to compare the powerhouses (and throw Canada on top of the US to make it “North America” since it’s all basically one economic region). So, below is a chart and table comparing (and also adding up these regions).
The general take-home point, I think, is that Europe is now leading the world (driven largely by the large markets of Norway, France, the UK, the Netherlands, and Germany), with about 25,000 more electric car sales in the first half of 2015 than North America and about 34,000 more than China. The June story is similar on a smaller scale, with Europe showing about 6,000 more electric car sales than each China and North America.
Of course, there are many relative factors you could use here to make the comparisons more interesting: per capita sales, % of total car sales, per GDP sales, etc. But I’ll leave that for another day… maybe.
|Economic Powerhouse||June 2015||YTD 2015|
Originally posted on EV Obsession
Some analysts have predicted that sales of electric bicycles, or eBikes for short, could hit the hundreds of millions in just a few short years. While much of the momentum will be driven by countries like China and India, the U.S. has a growing appetite for eBikes, especially high end models from manufacturers like Bosch.
Green Car Congress reports that Bosch is opening its North American eBike headquarters in Irvine, California, in a bid to expand eBike sales across the continent. Bosch’s eBike system currently comprise the whole gamut of components, allowing rides to go up to speeds of 20 MPH, with a PowerPack battery providing up to 50 miles of pedal-assisted power.
That’s a big reason why Bosch controls about 25% of the exploding (and highly competitive) eBike market in Europe, and it hopes to replicate that success in America. Bosch isn’t building eBikes itself, it should be noted, but is working with bike manufacturers to offer electric-powered models spanning a wider market, much the same way it worked with Volkswagen to provide charging stations for the e-Golf. That should let the company hit the ground running in the U.S., though it faces plenty of challenges here.
Despite a growing trend of people ditching cars for bikes in big cities. One of the biggest potential markets for eBikes, New York City, actually bans the sale and ownership of eBikes, though Los Angeles has moved in the opposite direction, embracing motorized cycles as an alternative to its epic traffic congestion. Trendy San Francisco is also embracing the higher (and odder) end of the eBike market, but by-and-large many people are still tied to their cars.
Can Bosch’s eBike system change perceptions? Or is this fad still too European to make it in America?
The Formula E series is being billed as the quietest and greenest high-end racing spectacle in the world, but you don’t have to look too hard to poke holes in this argument. After all, how green can Formula E be if the teams and machines have to be flown from one side of the world to the other on a monthly basis?
Electric Motorsport reports that Formula E and DHL worked together to form a plan of how to ship 200 tons of racing equipment around the world in a responsible manner. That all started with convincing planners to move the whole from one host city to another. Instead of teams and organizers flying back to their home base of Donington Park in the UK after each race, the whole event will move from one race city to the next. This cuts down dramatically on airline emissions from travelling personnel, though there’s still the matter of moving all that equipment between Beijing and Buenos Aries and Berlin, as well as seven other cities.
Each of the Formula E teams has between five and six tons of equipment, including lithium-ion batteries, that needs to be moved between races. The additional support equipment brings the total to more than 200 tons of racing “stuff” that needs to be transported thousands of miles. Thankfully, the Formula E race cars have a modular design that allows the front and rear bits to be detached, and new battery transportation methods developed with respect to UN guidelines have ramifications well beyond the racing world.
DHL has committed to reducing its carbon emissions by 30% between 2007 and 2020, so it made sense for Formula E to partner with the German delivery company to keep transportation emissions to a minimum. There are plenty of lessons to be learned from this partnership on how to make motorsports an environmentally responsible endeavor.
Mercedes-Benz will soon begin production of its A Class and CLA compact cars in North America at a Nissan factory in Mexico. It will be built alongside the upcoming front wheel drive Infiniti compact.
Shifting some of the production of these cars from Hungary to Mexico will allow Mercedes to better meet demand and reduce delays to consumers in North America. In addition, the lower wages in Mexico compared to the United States makes building cars south of the Rio Grande more cost effective for the parent company.
Taking into consideration the time needed to adapt the existing Nissan plant, production of cars with three pointed stars on their hoods should begin in 2016 to be sold as 2017 models.
Nestled into the plains of Normal, Illinois and about the size of a small planet, Mitsubishi Motors North America’s factory will build about 70,000 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport models this year. That much I knew. What I didn’t realize was how much was really going on at the old Diamond-Star plant, or how much work MMNA put into making sure things are done right.
My tour began a few hours earlier as I drove out from Chicago early that Friday morning. The traffic was relatively light on I-55, and the AWD system on the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport I was driving made short work of whatever snow and ice was on the road. At a tick over 70 MPH over the bitterly cold, two hour long drive, the Outlander gave back 25.8 MPG, according to its trip computer.
Once I got to Normal, IL, it was easy enough to find the MMNA factory. As I said, it’s the size of a planet, and seemed almost impossibly large- even knowing, as I did, that the plant pushed out nearly a quarter of a million cars per year back in the heyday of the Mitsubishi Eclipse/Eagle Talon twins. In the parking lot, I was greeted by a number of iMiEV electric cars …
… which served to let me know both that I was in the right place, and that Mitsubishi’s (and, indeed, Normal’s) commitment to EVs is a real thing.
Once inside, I met with Mitsubishi North America’s COO Jerry Berwanger. Berwanger is a gear head of the first order. He had more than 20 years’ experience at Ford before coming to sit in the big chair at Mitsubishi, and is capable of talking about his show-winning custom Harley-Davidsons, his Plymouth-powered “rat rod” pickup, his goals for the MMNA factory, and Mitsubishi’s excellent relationship with the UAW with equal knowledge, equal pride, and equal excitement.
“We’re the only transplant (foreign manufacturer) in the US that has a deal with the UAW,” says Jerry, as he pours me a coffee. “Mercedes doesn’t have one. BMW, Nissan, none of them.”
“Doesn’t that make it harder for you? Like, if GM or Ford does something the UAW doesn’t like, would your guys strike, as well?” I asked, like a good little conservabot.
“We have a no strike clause in our agreement with them,” he said.
“How’d you manage that?” I asked.
“We have a no layoffs clause, as well.”
I was floored. GM, Ford, Chrysler- all the big automakers let thousands upon thousands of workers go in the 90s and 00s, even before the crash in 2009. The idea that a factory which had, at one point, churned out 250,000 cars per year was carrying the same staff now, at a bit under 70,000, blew my mind. “How do you manage that?”
“It wasn’t easy,” he said.
I suddenly remembered reading about workers doing community service in the area, cleaning up the factory, planting trees, etc. It was a neat image, and the idea that Mitsubishi’s fate in North America was tied to its workers’ that directly gave me all sorts of warm and fuzzy feelings.
After a bit more small talk, we headed down to the factory floor. Picture-taking was a no-no, but if you’ve ever seen an episode of How It’s Made, you’ll have a good sense of what it looked like in the Mitsu factory. Except, you know, a thousand times bigger and louder.
Our first stop was a plastic molding station, where the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport’s plastic bumpers and fenders are made. The machines press plastic pellets into a mould under tremendous pressures, and the parts are then trimmed and checked for compliance. If they pass, they go on a cart to be picked later in the assembly process. If they don’t, they get chopped up, and the plastic bits get used again in another part.
Berwanger explains that, in most factories, the plastic parts are shipped in from a supplier. If they don’t fit or aren’t right for some other reason, the plant might be stuck until the next batch arrives. At MMNA, the plastic compound, the mix’s temperature, even the moulding dies themselves can be changed and corrected. It keeps the plant moving and reduces the need to ship and transport a bunch of plastic parts.
Jerry also explained that MMNA uses a number of recycled and recyclable materials, in addition to the plastic. “A lot of the sheet steel we use is recyclable, and we send the metal we trim or cut off to scrap, where it gets melted back into the mix and sent back to us as a new roll of steel.”
We geeked out over the high-precision robots throughout the MMNA factory, and stopped at several points along the line to see some of the more interesting robots. Some of the best included the wheel-mounting ‘bot, as well as the robotic gymnasts that spun and contorted themselves with laser-guided precision to mount the dashboard and seats in the cars, without touching or scratching any other part. I’d even say the process looked “like a sort of mechanical ballet”, if I wasn’t certain someone cleverer had thought of it before me.
One thing that struck me as odd, some of the Mitsubishi Outlander Sports I was seeing had blacked-out grilles, black roof rails, and rode on steely wheels with deep, all-season treaded tires. “What are those?” I asked.
“Those are going to Russia,” explained Berwanger. He went on to explain that, for the most part, the Russian-bound cars were identical to the US versions. Here and there, however, there were differences. Different colors, interior trim, wheel options, and differences in the exterior lighting were the most obvious. Up close, the interior of the Russian cars had a few less buttons, but were still obviously quality pieces.
Russia is the factory’s biggest export market, I was told. Followed by a few other South American and eastern European nations, all of whom could get the Outlander Sport in a paramilitary-looking beige with blacked-out trim look.
“That would sell like crazy here in the ‘States,” I told Berwanger, who gave me a doubtful sort of nod in polite response. Apparently, MMNA’s market studies suggest otherwise.
Once we cleared the assembly line, we checked out MMNA’s quality control area. Here, cars are driven on rolling chassis dynos and the freshly-minted Mitsubishi Outlander Sports are checked by an auditor in a specially lit room. Any flaws the auditor finds are rated on a 1, 3, or 5 scale. The idea is that, if a flaw is found and rated a “3”, then “3 out of 10” customers would notice it. 1s and 3s are corrected, but if a 5 is found, then the workers on-hand have to go out into the lot and check the day’s batch of cars. If the flaw is found in another car, they all get pulled back in for the fix.
That’s some pretty serious QC, and the “polar vortices” we’ve been seeing in Illinois this month have to be pretty serious motivators to get the job right.
Here’s a few more photos of that process, which really impressed me. What about you, dear readers? Do you think the system works, or- more importantly- do you think Mitsubishi should offer a black-grilled, off-roady version of its Outlander Sport here in the US? Let us know what you think in the comments, below.
Original content from Gas 2, photos courtesy MMNA.
I’m not sure how long ago it was when I first heard that Toyota was looking to move Prius production to the United States. Besides being their biggest market, Toyota was probably hoping to stifle some criticism regarding the green credentials of a car that is produced from parts shipped all over the world (sometimes more than once). That was back in 2008.
Toyota talking about moving production of the Prius to North America once again, and they’ve set a target date of 2015.
Granted, once the Great Recession hit, a lot of companies, big and small alike, had to change their plans. In the wake of last year’s devastating Japanese tsunami, which crippled Toyota’s ability to build the Prius, Toyota is now looking to secure local suppliers of hybrid components in North America. Not only will that reduce costs (as the high Yen is driving Japanese production costs skyward) but it will also add to the Prii’s green cred.
Alas, sourcing hybrid parts in North America is easier said than done. Many components for hybrid drivetrains come from China, and require Chinese rare earth elements. That said, moving production of the Prius and its components to the U.S. would not only be a big boon for American manufacturing, but it make the Prius more resilient to industry-rattling events like the tsunami, which affected automakers the world over.
Toyota is aiming to open the new plant by 2015, right around when a new generation Prius should be hitting dealerships. Word is the new manufacturing plant will utilize more lithium-ion technology, which could mean that the new Prii will finally ditch the nickel-hydride batteries they’ve been using. These plants may also build future Prius C and V models, as well as any other Prius + Letter combination Toyota can come up with (automakers in general need more creative names if you ask me).
I’m no fan of the Prius, but bringing production to the U.S. is a good thing no matter what way you cut it. I just hope Toyota actually goes through with it this time.
Source: The Truth About Cars
The enlargement of small cars in America is no secret and no surprise – it’s been happening for years. Part of it is the American assumption that bigger = better, but changing safety regulations also have to be taken into account.
Because of the safety regulations, foreign small cars adapted to the American market can’t escape enlargement either. Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV, tiny and cute in its native Japan so it can navigate the super-narrow city streets and alleys (sometimes barely an inch wider than the tiny car itself and that is not an exaggeration), will be bigger and heavier in order to comply with American safety standards. It will also be called the Mitsubishi i, rather than i-MiEV.
The i-MiEVs meant for North American consumption will be produced in Mitsubishi’s Mizushima plant, where the most visible evidence of their intended market will be the bigger bumpers. Much of the Japanese news on the subject reads as somewhat indignant that the Americanized i-MiEV will sport front and rear bumpers 11 inches longer and just over 4 inches wider than the original, although whether that’s due to it spoiling the lines of the car or just that it’s getting changed at all isn’t really clear.
The new specifications for the i also include an advanced air bag system which will detect passenger seat location and use that to control how far the bag expands, as well as tire air pressure monitors and other (unspecified) safety features. The engine torque has also been increased to improve performance, although speed limits and driver behavior inside most cities are more or less comparable across both markets.
The i will reach the American west coast (and Hawaii) by late November, with plans to offer it for sale across the rest of the U.S. and also in Canada by the end of 2012.
Source | Image: Green Car View.
Chrysler has been testing out many different options when it comes to meeting the new fuel economy standards in 2016. There was the two-mode hybrid Ram pickup, a hydraulic-hybrid minivan, and they are even working on compressed natural gas vehicles. But none of these are likely to be ready for production come 2016.
Well, since they are already building a diesel Jeep Grand Cherokee for Europe, why not build one for America? Yes, the U.S. diesel restrictions are far tougher than even Europe, and diesel does cost more in America as well. But in a large vehicle like the Jeep Grand Cherokee, a diesel engine, with all that torque, will certainly get better gas mileage than any typical gas engine.
The diesel engine in question is a 3.0 liter V6 turbodiesel, which offers just 224 horsepower but a stump-pulling 406 ft-lbs of torque. Chrysler may even offer this engine in the 300/Charger large sedan, Ram 1500 pickup, and other larger vehicles. Chrysler offers an even smaller 2.8 liter diesel engine in its European mini-vans. That leaves Ford as the only American automaker that will not offer a diesel engine outside of its full-size pickup line. Is America finally ready to embrace diesel engines? This writer certainly hopes so.
Source: Car & Driver
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. You can read about his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout or follow his non-nonsensical ramblings on Twitter @harshcougar.
Gas 2.0 joked about Toyota making everything a hybrid last April Fool’s Day, but apparently we weren’t entirely off the mark. On Monday, Toyota announced that all Camry models with gasoline engines only were to be called “Mark X” and that all domestic vehicles bearing the name “Camry” would be hybrids.
The new hybrid will have a sharper body line and a wider back seat, while the combination of a 2.5 liter gasoline engine and the HV system give it twice the fuel efficiency of the previous gasoline model. The new car will be available domestically for between $39,000 and $49,000 USD.
The new hybrids made in Japan will not be on sale in North America, however. Still hurting from the stronger yen, Toyota isn’t the first Japanese company to focus more on the domestic market than the export market. Given that the Camry is one of their strongest sellers, the move is a little surprising. Still, Toyota expect to sell 800,000 of the new cars next year.
Source | Picture: Yomiuri Online.
The Honda CR-Z Hybrid is turning out to be the sleeper hit of 2010… and it hasn’t even gone on sale yet.
The perky, underpowered two-seater compact goes on sale later this year, and Honda had set rather modest sales goals of selling between 40,000 and 50,000 cars between Japan, North America, and Europe. But pre-orders for the car have already gone over 10,000 cars, 10x the number Honda believed it would sell. Is it too early to call the CR-Z the comeback kid?
Italian car company Tazzari has announced plans to launch its Tazzari Zero all-electric vehicle in the North American market next year.
The all-electric 2 door super mini (video) weighs in at a tiny 542 kilograms (around 1,200 lbs), leaving it capable of achieving 100 km/h (62 mph) in a nimble 5 seconds, with a top speed of 80 km/h (50mph) (more pics after the jump).
Chinese car maker Changan announced today that it will launch electric cars in Canada before the end of 2008. The cars, developed jointly with Canadian company Electrovaya, could be the first sold by a Chinese company in North America.
The fleet of 30 electric vehicles (EVs) have been under development since May, and are based on one of Changan’s exisiting compact models, the BenBen, fitted with an Electrovaya powertrain. For the time being, the cars will be assembled and distributed in Canada, but in the long term Changan intends to develop the EVs entirely in China, before shipping to North America.