In another exciting week for green cars:

Kia marketing image of the Kia e-Niro EV on the roads with a tree and the sea in the background.

  • Monday 4th February: Reviews for the 2019 Kia Niro EV have started to hit the web, with Autoblog proclaiming that “You can stop waiting for EVs to get better before buying one”. Some of the reviewers seen a range beyond the EPA’s official 239 mile (385 km) range, and it has been getting good feedback with GreenCarReports saying “Kia has produced an overwhelmingly competent electric vehicle that meets most range needs, is comfortable and practical, and even a little bit of fun to drive”. The main question on people’s minds is whether Kia will produce enough to satisfy demand for the car: in the past, Kia and Hyundai (Hyundai being a sort of ‘parent company’ of Kia) have produced their EVs in low numbers, leading to demand outstripping supply.

  • Tuesday 5th February: Elon Musk has stated his company’s goals to investors in a conference call, saying that streamlining and improving services will be a key aim. The goal is for Teslas to ‘dial home’ and request roadside assistance when needed (saving the driver needing to find the right number to call), and ensuring that minor repairs and services are carried out quicker in their dealerships by increasing the availability of parts. Whilst explaining that Tesla had previously made mistakes in their service management, Tesla’s CEO said "”stopping doing the foolish things will massively improve our service costs, will massively improve customer happiness around the world, and it’s just fundamentally better,”“.

  • Tuesday 5th February: Tesla have a new customer for their large Powerpack batteries (designed to store massive amounts of electric and help to smooth out demand during peak times): the rival charging station company Electrify America. EA have had issues with excess demand for electric (i.e. EV drivers charging up at peak times) resulting in supply shortages, so by installing 100 Powerpacks at its locations, they should be able to smooth out demand more. Electrify America had previously charged “demand response charges” which massively increases the price of charging up at peak times, so the Tesla Powerpack installations should help to reduce these charges over time.

  • Wednesday 6th February: Lyft, the ride-hailing company in competition with Uber and Waymo, are adding more electric cars to their Express Drive program, which will originally be rolled out in Seattle and Atlanta. This is due to a rise in remand from both drivers and riders for more green cars, according to COO Jon McNeill. Lyft hope to have 1,000 EVs in their program by the end of the year. The inspiration for this move was, according to McNeill, that he “was picked up by a driver in an electric vehicle and I asked him ‘what motivated you to do this’? And he said quite literally I save thousands of dollars a year in gas; it totally increased my take home pay”_. We expect Waymo to follow this lead too, since the cost benefits of all their journeys will be quickly seen compared to gasoline cars.

  • Wednesday 6th February: Three Republican Senators are aiming to eliminate the $7,500 federal tax credit on green cars completely, and replace it with… a yearly EV car tax! Ignoring the fact that “Oil and gas” are allegedly being large donors to some of the Senator’s campaigns (according to OpenSecrets), the Senators are claiming that the federal tax credit is unfair because taxpayers do not have a choice for their tax dollars being used to subsidize other people’s EV purchases. It is doubtful that this measure will come to anything since it would have to get a majority in both houses (which is unlikely), but some green car commentators are nonetheless frustrated at this bill:

  • Thursday 7th February: Tesla have purchased a San Diego based company called Maxwell Technologies who specialize in ultracapacitor energy storage, in a deal worth $218 million. Maxwell’s ultracapacitor’s use solid (not liquid) electrodes which could offer up to double the battery capacity at 10-20% less cost overall. This is therefore an interesting acquisition for Tesla, who produce more lithium-ion batteries for electric cars (and power grid use) than any other company. Tesla currently use Panasonic for the bulk of the battery manufacturing process, however they might be using a Shanghai based company for their Asian-market EV production. This announcement does seem as though Tesla are starting to branch out away from solely using Panasonic for their battery needs.

  • Thursday 7th February: Tesla are continuing to reduce the price of their Model 3, with the second price cut in around a month. At the start of the year, Tesla reduced their car prices by $2,000 - and they have now made a $1,100 price cut on their Model 3. This is part of Elon Musk’s aim to slowly but surely increase the cost savings when producing their Model 3, so that they can bring a $35,000 priced model to market to target the “entry level” segment. After announcing the price cut, Elon Musk said that they are doing everything they can to get to this level:

  • Thursday 7th February: What did we say at the very start of this news roundup about the Kia Niro EV’s supply? Well news out today has said that the absolutely massive (just kidding) allocation of 900 e-Niros to the United Kingdom have already sold out. And due to supply chain issues (especially surrounding batteries), new e-Niros will not be supplied too quickly - especially with the supply chain issues expected to be “a restraining factor for at least another 12 to 18 months.” (according to Kia’s Head of Fleet). This is naturally disappointing news for UK purchasers of the e-Niro, although if Kia can get their supply issues sorted, they clearly have a lot of demand for their new model!

  • Friday 8th February: Electrify America are aiming to expand their network over the next 2-3 years, with more rapid DC chargers being installed in new cities, as well as continuing its highway-based installation program. This program will include coastal highway routes with EVSE chargers a maximum of 80 miles (129 km) apart to ensure nearly every electric car can drive the coastal routes without fear of range anxiety.

  • Friday 8th February: America’s plug-in (PHEV + BEV) sales for January 2019 have been released, with 17,000 units sold - up 42% compared to January 2018. This lead to the green car share (of overall sales) being 2.2%. 38% of these sales were for the Model 3, with 6,500 units sold. All other plug-in cars sold less than 1,200 units.

  • Saturday 9th February: Tesla recently announced a job cuts programme to help streamline their operations (and ultimately lead to a $35,000 base price Tesla). Reuters sources have, however found out that their car delivery network in North America (based in Las Vegas) was badly hit, with 150 out of 230 let go in January. 65% redundancies in what would seem a key department for Tesla is either a sign that their delivery network is (a lot) more efficient nowadays, or that they expect American and Canadian Tesla sales to fall in the immediate future. One former employee of the delivery department alledgely told Reuters that it is the latter: "”There are not enough deliveries… You don’t need a team because there are not that many cars coming through.”“.