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Ford unveils lineup for Europe to outpace gas and diesel vehicle sales by 2022

By Kirsten Korosec

Ford unveiled a range of hybrid vehicles Tuesday at the Frankfurt Motor Show as part of its plan to reach sales of 1 million electrified vehicles in Europe by the end of 2022.

Ford introduced hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of the Mondeo wagon, Puma compact crossover, Kuga (shown below) and Explorer SUVs as well as the new Tourneo “people mover” at the show.

FORD KUGA SIDE CHARGING

But more are coming. Ford said earlier this year it plans to bring eight electrified vehicles to market this year and another nine that will be produced by 2024. One of those, an all-electric Mustang-inspired SUV, will come to market in 2020. The electric SUV with Mustang styling has a targeted range of 600 km (more than 370 miles) calculated using the World Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP), and fast-charging capability.

Ford expects that electrified vehicles will account for more than 50% of its car sales in Europe by 2022, surpassing combined sales of conventional petrol and diesel models.

Ford’s upcoming portfolio is part of its broader plan to make its Europe division leaner and more profitable. The company said in June it will cut 12,000 jobs and consolidate its manufacturing footprint to a proposed 18 facilities by the end of 2020. Most of the job cuts, 2,000 of which are salaried position, will occur through voluntary separation programs.

The automaker also announced Tuesday partnerships with six energy suppliers in Europe, including Centrica in the U.K. and Ireland, to install home charging wall boxes and provide green energy tariffs. A partnership with NewMotion aims to help drivers locate and pay for charging more easily at more than 118,000 charging points in 30 countries.

“With electrification fast becoming the mainstream, we are substantially increasing the number of electrified models and powertrain options for our customers to choose from to suit their needs,” Ford of Europe President Stuart Rowley said in a statement.

Electrified doesn’t mean every vehicle will be solely powered by electricity. The term means the vehicles can use hybrid, plug-in hybrid or battery-electric technology. The showcase Tuesday supports the automaker’s earlier commitment that every new Ford passenger vehicle will include an electrified option.

Ford Europe plans

While some automakers have stuck to an all-electric strategy, Ford plans to produce a range of hybrids, plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles.

“There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution when it comes to electrification – every customer’s circumstances and travel needs are different,” said Joerg Beyer, executive director of engineering at Ford of Europe. “Our strategy is to pair the right electrified powertrain option to the right vehicle, helping our customers make their electrified vehicle experience easy and enjoyable.”

Ford isn’t doing this alone. The automaker announced in July a partnership with Volkswagen Group that covers collaboration on electric vehicles and development of autonomous technology via a $2.6 billion investment by VW into Argo AI.

Under the EV part of the tie-up, Ford will use VW’s MEB platform, the underlying architecture for its upcoming line of passenger electric vehicles, to develop at least one fully electric car for Europe. VW debuted Monday the ID.3, the first model with MEB platform.

Auto supplier Continental shifts gears — and its capital — to an electric future

By Kirsten Korosec

Continental AG, a global auto-parts supplier, will no longer invest in parts used in internal combustion engines, the latest sign that the automotive industry is being forced to respond to increasingly strict emissions laws.

Instead, the company said it will put more focus and capital on the electric powertrain, which it believes is the “future of mobility.”

“Our customers are increasingly and consistently turning to the electrification of combustion engines through hybrid drives as well as to pure battery-powered vehicles,” said Andreas Wolf, head of Continental’s Powertrain division, which in the future will operate under the name Vitesco Technologies with Wolf as CEO.

This shift toward electrification is being driven by tighter regulations around the world. Cities are clamping down on the use of diesel- and gas-powered cars, trucks and SUVs in urban centers and states like California are tightening rules to meet air quality and emissions targets to combat climate change. China has placed restrictions on gas-powered vehicles and provides incentives to electric ones. France wants to end the sale of fossil fuel-powered cars by 2040.

And automakers are following. Volvo, VW and others have announced plans over the past two years to increase sales of electric vehicles and move toward more electrification throughout their portfolios of existing vehicles. Electrification can mean hybrid, plug-in or all-electric vehicles.

There has been plenty of speculation and attempts to predict exactly when — not so much if — a tectonic shift to electric powertrains would occur. Suppliers have grappled with the “when” part. Putting too much capital too soon toward developing automotive parts can saddle a supplier with inventory and mounting costs.

What’s happening at Continental is starting to play out within the rest of the industry. If companies like Continental want to survive and keep up with the demands of automakers, they have to act. But not wildly. Development costs for powertrains are, after all, no small matter.

Continental is making specific choices on what exactly it pursues. The company, for instance, will not consider producing solid-state battery cells in the future. Apparently the company was open to making an investment in battery cell production. But now the company believes the market no longer offers any attractive economic prospects for battery cell production for Continental, Wolf said.

What Continental is going to do is reduce investment in its hydraulic components business, which includes parts like injectors and pumps for gasoline and diesel engines.

“Investments in research and development and in production capacity for innovations are becoming less profitable,” says Wolf, explaining the reasoning behind this decision.

Continental will fulfill existing orders. New orders will “play an increasingly marginal role.”

This shift within Continental will likely extend over a number of years, as combustion engines essentially serve as the basic drivers for hybrid solutions, Wolf said. The company will also review its business in components for exhaust-gas after treatment and fuel delivery.

All of this translates into big changes within the company, including the technologies it decides to invest in, jobs and even locations of some of its operations. Continental said it will also consider partnerships.

BMW is making it easier to charge electric vehicles near America’s national parks

By Kirsten Korosec

BMW has finished a nearly two-year project to bring 100 electric vehicle charging stations to America’s national parks.

The automaker partnered in 2017 with several U.S. agencies, including the National Park Foundation, National Park Service, and Department of Energy, to donate 100 electric vehicle charging stations in and near to national parks throughout the United States.

More than 90 of the charging stations have been installed. The remaining few will open this month, the company said.

The effort is small compared to some of the broader infrastructure campaigns in the U.S. But it has the potential to ease the EV charging desert that exists on the open road and at national parks. And as more electric vehicles come on the market, the demand for these chargers will only increase.

The charging stations, which include Level 2 and DC fast chargers, are concentrated in popular areas where there’s a strong electric vehicle market. The agencies and BMW also considered the distance from nearby charging locations.

BMW’s charging stations can be found in Everglades and Grand Canyon, two of the most visited U.S. national parks, as well Death Valley in California, Rainier and Olympic National parks in Washington and Cape Cod National Seashore in Massachusetts.

BMW worked with the National Park Service and National Park Foundation to identify sites, address technical considerations and coordinate with state and local authorities.

“The automobile has long been central to the great American vacation in national parks,” said National Park Service Deputy Director P. Daniel Smith. “While our treasured landscapes offer familiar vistas time after time, the automobile has changed greatly, and parks want to meet the needs of our visitors who electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.”

BMW says its running ahead of its electrification goals

By Frederic Lardinois

At its NEXTGen event in Munich, BMW today announced that it is running ahead of schedule in its efforts to offer at least 25 electrified vehicles. Previously, the German luxury car manufacturer was shooting for 2025, but it now says that it will offer these 25 vehicles by 2023.

As BMW’s Klaus Fröhlich stressed at a press event ahead of today’s announcement, BMW will continue to offer a full range of vehicles that span from fully-electric to hybrids and standard combustion-engine powered cars for the foreseeable future. More than half of the 25 vehicles the company is talking about today, though, will be fully electric.

“We are moving up a gear in the transformation towards sustainable mobility, thereby making our company fit for the future: Over the past two years, we have consistently taken numerous decisions that we are now bringing to the roads,” said BMW CEO Harald Krüger. “By 2021, we will have doubled our sales of electrified vehicles compared with 2019.”

The company expects that its electrified car sales will continue to grow by more than 30 percent per year up to 2025. Indeed, it expects to have sold more than half a billion fully-electric or plug-in hybrids by the end of 2019. That’s a tough goal to achieve, Krüger admitted. He also noted that BMW plans to power all of its plants with renewable energy from next year onward.

Right now, that number is definitely driven by sales of the somewhat quirky i3, with 150,000 on the roads today. Then, over the course of the next few years, the i3 will be joined by a fully-electric Mini, iX3 and then the i4 and iNext.

By 2020, all of these plug-in hybrids will also feature a new tool that will make driving them in cities that ban combustion engines from their city centers: BMW eDrive Zones. This feature will automatically detect when you enter a zone where only electric vehicles are allowed and then switch to running on batteries until you leave.

 

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