This week was fairly busy for green car news, with various companies releasing news of upcoming cars. The biggest bit of news, perhaps, began with the following tweets from Elon Musk:

Check out our weekly news roundup below, and naturally be sure to read the Thursday 28th Feb entry!

  • Monday 25th February: Chinese green car manufacturers are continuing to try and expand into the US market, with Kandi getting approval from the federal government to import two of their EVs in the next few years. Their tiny two-seater K22 and the bigger (but still small!) give seater SUV EX3 will be introduced to the US market under a co-op project with Geely. The ranges vary from 75 miles (120 km) for the K22 up to 188 miles (303 km) for the EX3, with prices being $18,995 and $29,995 respectively. It will be interesting to see if the EX3 can compete with the Nissan Leaf, considering the EX3 is thousands of dollars cheaper (albeit it has less overall horsepower).

  • Monday 25th February: Audi are increasing their green car credentials with the announcement of four new PHEVs (plug-in hybrids) at this month’s Geneva Motor Show. This will introduce PHEV versions of the sedan-style A6, A7 and A8 and also the SUV-style Q5. These versions will take some of the all-electric features from the upcoming E-Tron, such as more responsive driving via more electrified powertrains.

Manufacturer image of the Peugeot e208 in the foreground with artistic sea and boats in the background.

  • Monday 25th February: French car manufacturer Peugeot have released official information about the 208 EV hatchback, ahead of the Geneva Motor Show. It will have a 50 kWh battery pack and arrive in Q3 2019 (in the autumn). The e-208 will have a 211 mile (340 km) range and a 136 horsepower electric motor, yielding 0-62 mph (0-100 kmph) in 8.1 seconds. L3 rapid DC charging is supported up to 100 kW which could give 80% SoC battery in just 30 minutes. Photos have already been released (seen to the right), but expect more information in next week’s motor show.

  • Monday 25th February: Elon Musk’s tweet on February 2019 (which said that they will make around 500,000 Tesla vehicles this year) has landed him in trouble with the SEC, which last year took him to court for apparently misleading statements on Twitter. Since Tesla will not produce 500,000 units this year (they will hit an “annualized” rate at the end of the year, but produce much less than this overall in 2019), the SEC has found Musk in contempt for his Feb 19th tweet. Elon Musk later tweeted that the SEC is “broken”, and that their action has moved the Tesla share price much more than any of his own tweets.

  • Tuesday 26th February: The gasoline-powered Porsche Macan will be scrapped entirely in 2022… to be replaced with an all-electric version! This is another sign of Porsche’s commitment to green cars, with the Taycan due out later this year and expected to rival Tesla. The Macan will also support high voltage charging, up to 800-voltage charging, which would allow for 0-80% battery charging in mere minutes (instead of hours with some current EVs). Porsche are aiming to make the price similar to the gasoline-powered version’s price, at around $51,150.

  • Tuesday 26th February: Fiat Chrysler are starting to electrify their Jeep brand, with an announced $4.5 billion of factory expansion in Detroit. The investment will create 6,500 jobs, and is designed to give Fiat Chrysler the “flexibility to build fully battery-electric models in the future”.

  • Wednesday 27th February: January 2019 sales data from Europe has been released, with over 30,000 plug-in vehicle sales - up 28% compared to January 2018. However this is not a standard ‘slow but steady’ rise in green car sales: PHEV sales massively reduced, whilst all-electric BEV sales jumped 67% in a year. This is before the Model 3 sales hit Europe, too, with deliveries only starting last month. Four of the top 5 selling cars are all-electric, with only the Mitsubishi Outlander being a plug-in hybrid.

  • Wednesday 27th February: Volvo are aiming to compete with Tesla with their Polestar 2 all-electric car, built in China. Whilst more details are expected, it will have two electric motors (yielding 408 horsepower) and hits 0-62 mph (0-100 kmph) in under 5 seconds. It will also target 275 miles (443 km) of range, meaning they are close to Model Y territory (based on what little we know of the upcoming Tesla Model Y, that is!).

  • Thursday 28th February: The Kia Niro family are seeing their hybrid and PHEV options refreshed to look and feel more like the e-Niro (all electric) version. The Geneva Motor Show will see more information on this unveiled, however it is thought that the powertrains will not change: just the aesthetics. This means both external and interior improvements, along with great color choices. An 8” touchscreen will be standard, as will a smaller 4.2” TFT screen in the drive console.

  • Thursday 28th February: Today was Tesla’s day! A few days after Elon Musk’s tweets (mentioned at the start), Tesla stopped taking orders on any of their cars on Thursday morning - announcing that something will come “soon” at 2pm (California time). Speculation was rife, and Electrek broke the news 20 minutes early: saying that the Model 3 is finally being released at the $35,000 level. This is an important price point, first mooted by Musk in 2016. It allows the Model 3 to be cheaper than many of its gasoline-based rivals, including the more expensive Audi A4 and BMW 3-series. Such cheap pricing also means the Model 3 is now cheaper than the long-range Nissan Leaf Plus model (which is almost $38,000)! Pulling off this price point has been “excruciating” according to Musk, and they will be doing this partly by closing many of their dealerships and instead moving to an online-only sales model via their configurator tool. They will also be aiming to improve servicing and repairs, with them coming to you - instead of you driving to the dealers. All of this is actually more convenient, and it also allows Tesla to cut costs and deliver a truly well-priced Model 3.

  • Friday 1st March: As hinted at above, the price of the new long-range Nissan Leaf Plus has been released. This 226 mile (364 km) Leaf will sell for $37,445 including destination fees: a $7,360 premium over the cheaper base 2019 Leaf model with 150 miles (241 km) of range. Nissan still has its full $7,500 federal tax credit in America, compared to Tesla’s $3,750 tax credit rate, meaning that the Leaf Plus will be temporarily cheaper than the newly-priced Model 3. But the key here is temporarily: the tax credit will fall for Nissan in the coming months and years (when they sell 70,000 more vehicles).

  • Saturday 2nd March: When Telsa announced store closures on Thursday, the implication was that lay-offs would follow. Whilst that still might be the case, Telsa is instead cutting the employee bonuses leading to a “significant decrease” in the overall compensation package for many of their store-based employees. Such bonuses currently make up a majority of their compensation, and sometimes lead to six-figure salaries, so the reductions in bonuses will have a noticeable impact. Elon Musk explained this move in an email to staff saying “Last year, 78% of all Model 3 orders were placed online, rather than in a store, and 82% of customers bought their Model 3 without ever having a test drive.”.