Five Ways Automakers Make Some Electric Cars Profitable

Big, gas-guzzling cars are often more profitable for automakers than are cars that drive on electricity, due in large part to the persistently high costs of batteries. So it’s not all that surprising that some automakers have spent years delaying more aggressive pushes into electrification.

But the world is changing, and consumers are increasingly interested in driving electric cars, while automakers continue to be required to meet environmental mandates. Battery costs are also steadily coming down, but it will still take many years for most competitive electric cars to have the lower manufacturing costs associated with traditional internal combustion vehicles.

The analysts at McKinsey recently published a report to help automakers that are struggling with the potentially expensive prospect of adding more electric-car models to their lineup. The researchers give a handful of suggestions for how automakers can adjust and adapt to offering electric cars, while also trying to turn a profit.

The tips seem mostly directed at big automakers that are still offering just a few electric car models. New figures out

Key to Autonomous Electric Vehicles

There’s a lot of excitement around autonomous vehicles, and electric autonomous vehicles in particular. Many people envision a day when driverless EVs will chauffeur us around safely and emissions-free — while allowing passengers to work, read or take a nap instead of watching the road.

The less visible, but essential player in this autonomous electric transportation future is wireless charging.

For vehicles to be truly driverless, they need to be able to refuel on their own too. Wireless charging — though still in its early days of consumer adoption — is one reason why EVs are considered the preferred platform for autonomous cars. Wireless charging liberates vehicles from gas pumps and plugs, and allows for virtually limitless electric range if chargers are strategically placed.

This week, wireless charging took another meaningful step toward broad adoption.

Wireless power transfer company WiTricity announced a new partnership today with Nissan, building on existing partnerships with General Motors and Toyota. The news is significant, because it signals that EV stakeholders have successfully avoided the type of standards battle that

Different Reactions to Uber and Tesla by Trump

While Uber got shellacked for its link to President Donald Trump, the electric carmaker and sometimes-rival Tesla Inc. has comfortably weathered its association with a president who has lower approval ratings than any predecessor in his first days in office.

Uber Technologies Inc. lost customers and drivers and became the subject of a campaign on Twitter that encouraged people to delete their Uber apps. The opposition compelled Uber Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick to quit Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum. Meanwhile, Tesla faced relatively minimal backlash, and there’s been no comparable effort to boycott the carmaker’s products. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said he has no plans to quit the committee.

The contrast is viewed as a double standard within Uber’s headquarters in San Francisco.

Former President Jimmy Carter said Wednesday millions of jobs could be created in the United States if President Donald Trump embraced renewable energy sources such as geothermal, solar and wind power.

Carter, a Democrat who was the first U.S. president to install solar panels at the White House, said

The Energy Jobs

As GTM’s Stephen Lacey has reported, New York’s top utility regulator, Audrey Zibelman, is moving on from her position. Australia’s energy market operator announced that Zibelman will be taking over as chief executive. The organization, called AEMO, operates wholesale power markets, wholesale natural-gas markets, trading hubs and gas transmission systems throughout Australia. Zibelman leaves New York’s Public Service Commission at a delicate time. The state is two and a half years into Reforming the Energy Vision, the utility reformation plan announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2014.

Last Thursday, FERC Chair Norman Bay announced his early resignation. He broke the news after President Trump chose Cheryl LaFleur to serve as the new chair next year. Carolyn Elefant tells NPR: “I think [Bay] was perhaps disappointed that Commissioner LaFleur was elevated above him. The resignation could mean costly delays for some major pipeline projects.”

Energy storage provider Sunverge named former Nexant CTO and GM Martin Milani as its first COO. The company also named two new members to its board of directors:John Di Stasio, former CEO of Sacramento Municipal Utility District and current president of the Large Public Power Council; and Elisabeth Brinton, executive GM of Australian energy

Now Arab Gulf’s Biggest Airlines Reveal Impact

President Donald Trump’s travel ban on immigrant visa holders from seven Muslim nations has had little impact on travel, at least at the major Arabian Gulf carriers that control much of the airspace between the U.S. and the Middle East.

“A very small number of our passengers were affected by the new U.S. immigration entry requirements,” Dubai-based carrier Emirates Airlines said in a statement.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) followed an executive order by Trump on Jan. 27 to ban travel from seven countries, including war zones like Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Libya. The move was immediately called a “Muslim ban” on social media, leading to protests against the order in Washington, New York City, and at airports throughout the country. A little over 1,100 people were reportedly denied boarding this week because of the ban, CBP said on its website. But William Cocks, a spokesperson for the State Department’s Bureau of Conslar Affairs said Friday that “roughly 60,000 individual visas were revoked”.  A Federal judge in Seattle ordered a stay on the ban later in the day on Friday. It is unclear how Homeland Security will respond to the injunction.

Major Muslim nations like Saudi

The World’s Longest Flight Is Now A Matter Of Dispute

Qatar Airways says its Boeing 777 200-LR has completed the longest commercial flight in the world – by time.

Measured by distance, the honor of operating the longest flight in the world is now a matter of a global dispute.

Qatar’s first Doha, Qatar to Auckland, New Zealand flight took off Sunday and covered 9,032 miles before landing on Monday.

Air India’s flight between Delhi and San Francisco connects cities separated by 8,264 miles. But Air India elects to fly a circuitous route of 9,389 miles because the flight encounters fewer headwinds and takes less time than it did previously. It is also operated with a Boeing 777-200.

Qatar’s flight QR0920 was scheduled to take 16 hours and 20 minutes. But it arrived in Auckland 15 minutes early, according to The New Zealand Herald.

The return flight was scheduled at 17 hours and 30 minutes, the longest flight in the world, with the added length attributed to headwinds.

The Doha-Auckland flight surpasses the 8,819-mile flight between Dubai and Auckland that is flown by Qatar rival Emirates, also using a Boeing 777-200 LR. Dubai-Auckland had been listed by some as the world’s longest

News about Solar Power And Electric Vehicles To Halt Growth In Oil And Coal

After a terrible couple of years, this looks like a good time for the fossil fuels sector. Oil prices are on the up again, President Donald Trump promises to sweep away many of the restrictions the industry had imposed upon it during the Obama Administration, the former head of ExxonMobil is Secretary of State and there is even talk of watering down fuel economy requirements.

Trump has pushed through executive orders to revive the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines and he has even promised to revive the moribund US coal industry, causing shares in coal miners to soar. But a new report suggests that demand for coal and oil could peak by 2020 thanks to dramatic falls in the cost of solar power and electric vehicles.

The report, Expect the Unexpected: The Disruptive Power of Low-Carbon Technology, co-authored by the Grantham Institute for the study of Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial College, London and the Carbon Tracker Initiative, says that the big energy companies are seriously under-estimating the speed at which low-carbon technologies are advancing and they could be left with stranded assets unless they change their approach

The growth in

Info The Cheapest-To-Own Cars And Trucks

All but the wealthiest car buyers compare sticker prices when shopping for a new ride, but we’d guess far fewer consider how much money a given vehicle will actually cost to own and operate over the course of several years.

The sharpest car shoppers work the bottom line like an accountant to determine which models under their consideration will prove to be the most financially advantageous in the long run. This includes comparing the costs of depreciation – how much the vehicle will have lost in value at trade-in time – fuel, insurance premiums, maintenance charges, state fees, and out-of-warranty repair bills.

“­­New-car shoppers typically give more consideration to the cost of a car upfront, but sometimes other factors, such as depreciation, maintenance and fuel costs, can significantly increase total ownership costs,” says Mike Sadowski, vice president of operations and general manager for Kelley Blue Book.

To help consumers find the best overall deals, KBB just announced its annual 5-Year Cost to Own Awards in 20 separate vehicle classes. The website tracks new vehicles’ depreciation, fuel costs, insurance costs, financing, repairs, maintenance, and average state sales taxes and registration fees over a five-year ownership period, and

The Unionizing Tesla

Some Tesla factory employees are turning to the United Auto Workers to help them improve pay, safety and workplace conditions at the company’s massive San Francisco Bay Area auto-assembly plant, according to a blog post by an individual identifying himself as one of those employees.

A move to unionize workers at the plant comes at a critical time, as Tesla targets exponential production increases with the rollout of its $35,000 Model 3 electric sedan starting late this year.

In a post on titled “Time for Tesla to Listen,” Jose Moran said he’s been a “proud” team member at the Fremont, Calif., facility for four years, but that more needs to be done to improve circumstances at the fast-growing operation.

“Most of my 5,000-plus co-workers work well over 40 hours a week, including excessive mandatory overtime. The hard, manual labor we put in to make Tesla successful is done at great risk to our bodies,” Moran wrote. “Preventable injuries happen often.”

What’s more, hourly pay at the plant ranges between $17 and $21 – below a national average of $25.58 an hour – and doesn’t cover the cost of living in pricey Alameda County, Moran said.

News Expedia Misses Earnings Expectations But In Recent Acquisitions, Orbitz And HomeAway, Are Starting To Pay Off

Expedia missed quarterly earnings expectations on Thursday but said its recent acquisitions of Orbitz and vacation rental platform HomeAway have begun to pad its bottom line.

Expedia, the parent of and Travelocity, reported profits of $183 million, or $1.17 per share, in its latest quarter. That missed analyst estimates of $1.36 by a wide margin. However, revenue increased 23% to $2.09 billion, just beating estimates of $2.07 billion.

Shares of the online travel giant ticked down 4% before recovering  to its market close price of $123.3 in after-hours trading.

During the quarter, travelers spent $16.1 billion on bookings (up 8% from the same quarter last year) and stayed 15% longer in the hotel rooms they booked. Investments in mobile have driven part of this growth, with app users returning to the site twice as many times as the average user. Nearly 1 in 3 transactions booked last year occurred on a mobile device and 45% of online traffic was on mobile.

Expedia’s recent history has been marked by a series of acquisitions of big names in travel, including Orbitz Worldwide and vacation rental marketplace HomeAway. These new subsidiaries contributed $764 million and $689 million in revenue,

Now Travelers Should Care That Trump Is Inclined To Privatize Air Traffic

Top airline executives got a sympathetic hearing from Donald Trump on Thursday when they met with the new president at the White House to discuss issues of concern to the air travel and air cargo industry. But as with every other issue into which Trump dips a toe, offense soon followed.

This time it is the Federal Aviation Administration whose feelings were hurt when the president characterized the air space through which 2 million people move every day of the year, as “totally out of whack” — and he did not stop there.

“Is the gentleman who’s the head of the FAA right now not a pilot?” he asked referring to Michael P. Huerta, whose term as administrator of the FAA ends in 2018.  “I’d like to find out because I think it maybe would be good to have a pilot — like a really good pilot that knows what’s going on.”

To the criticism both veiled (should Administrator Huerta go) and obvious, (the FAA had totally screwed up modernizing the nation’s air traffic control system) the public information office shot back a few hours later.

In a brief but unmistakable defense of its

Info Qatar Airways Ditches Plans For New Saudi Airline

Qatar Airways has dropped plans to launch a domestic airline in Saudi Arabia, in the latest upset for the Saudi aviation market.

According to an interview with Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker in the latest issue of Arabian Aerospace magazine, the plans for the airline have been quietly dropped. The interview quotes Al Baker as saying  “Yes I’m disappointed we were not able to launch that airline. We hope we will have another opportunity.”

In some ways, the development is simply a confirmation of what was already apparent. Qatar Airways gained initial approval from the Saudi aviation regulator, the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), to launch Al Maha Airways in 2013. At the same time, GACA gave approval to another new airline called SaudiGulf Airlines, backed by the local Al Qahtani Group. However, while SaudiGulf launched its services in October 2016, there have been persistent delays to Al Maha receiving final approval and launch dates have come and gone without any activity.

Al Maha was to be based in Jeddah and has had a large recruitment drive over recent years. Airbus has also delivered a number of planes to Qatar Airways in Al

Information Wireless Charging: Coming Soon to an Electric Vehicle For You

Wireless charging could be a game-changer for electric vehicles — and a crucial step in the shift to mass EV adoption.

Mercedes-Benz is currently poised to be the first automaker to offer wireless charging for a production vehicle. In June, the German automaker announced the new feature would be coming to market in 2018 with the S550e plug-in hybrid (PHEV) luxury sedan. Earlier this month, it was revealed that Mercedes would use a version of Qualcomm Halo’s technology, manufactured by an unnamed Tier 1 power electronics supplier.

Qualcomm and Mercedes — through subsidiary Qualcomm Technologies and parent company Daimler AG, respectively — already work together in a strategic partnershipannounced last spring to pioneer wireless charging and other connected-car technologies. Qualcomm acquired HaloIPT in 2011, and has been developing and deploying wireless electric-vehicle charging (WEVC) systems for the Formula E electric-vehicle racing series since 2014. Now, having been used on racetracks around the world, the technology is nearly ready to go mainstream.

Qualcomm Halo wireless inductive charging systems have already been successfully integrated and tested on a number of different consumer vehicle platforms, including Renault Fluence, Nissan Leaf, BMW i3, BMW i8 and the Honda

Here Approved for PG&E’s Record-Setting EV Charger

After years of fighting over the details of Pacific Gas & Electric’s plan to bring up to 7,500 electric-vehicle chargers to Northern California, EV-charging providers and consumer and environmental groups are praising a new compromise plan that has just received approval from state regulators.

On Thursday, the five-member California Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved a decision (PDF) directing PG&E to move ahead with what will be the country’s largest utility-led EV charging deployment.

The “Charge Smart and Save” plan includes 7,500 EV charging points in workplaces, multi-unit residential buildings and disadvantaged communities, and is capped at a cost of $130 million.

That’s smaller than PG&E’s original $650 million, 25,000-charger proposal, though it’s still more than twice as large as the EV charging pilots approved for California’s other big investor-owned utilities, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric.

The new decision, crafted by a CPUC administrative law judge, also makes a lot of changes to how much of this new infrastructure PG&E can own, and how much control it can exert over the technology and business model choices available to the “site hosts” — the owners of the workplaces or multi-family

Faraday Future Vows to Defy Skeptics

The secretive Chinese-backed electric vehicle company Faraday Future is running out of roadway.

There were several news reports about the company’s financial distress and unstable business operations in the weeks leading up to the highly anticipated launch of Faraday Future’s production vehicle last night at CES 2017.

“If they don’t find money after CES…they will be out of money by February,” a former executive told The Verge. A former employee familiar with Faraday Future’s finances told BuzzFeed that the company is more than 30 days overdue on more than $100 million worth of payments to vendors and suppliers. The electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer currently faces lawsuits from a supplier and a landlord.

It’s been a year since Faraday Future, or FF, emerged from stealth mode. At CES 2016,FF launched an electric supercar concept that was lambasted for being ridiculously out of touch with market wants and needs. The FFZero wasn’t anything like the autonomous consumer car FF had been teasing on social media. The FFZERO wasn’t even functional.

Since the first launch, FF has seen a slew of employees leave the company. Top executives Joerg Sommer, vice president of product marketing and growth,

Info Report Predicts Euro EV Adoption Will Take Off

European electric-vehicle adoption won’t take off until at least 2025, according to research by GTM’s parent company Wood Mackenzie.

The high cost of new cars, coupled with limited battery life and vehicle range, is hampering the take-up of EVs compared to internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, says Wood Mackenzie in a study titled Is the European EV Market on the Verge of a Breakthrough?

Today, EVs account for less than one in every 500 cars on European roads, and mainstream adoption is not likely to happen until battery costs drop from their current level of $200 to $400 per kilowatt-hour, down to around $100 per kilowatt-hour.

“’Mainstream’ would be defined as the moment when EVs are able to exhibit sufficient range and reliability at an affordable price to compete effectively with conventional ICE cars,” said study author Iain Mowat, Wood Mackenzie senior research analyst for refining and oil product markets.

While EVs could start to do this sooner in the executive and upper-medium car segments, it’s really when EVs start to dominate new car sales in the lower-medium and small-car markets that these low-emissions vehicles could be regarded as reaching mainstream status, he

News Amazon New Patent Reveals Autonomous Vehicle

Autonomous drones apparently aren’t exciting enough for Amazon, so the online retail giant has also started work on developing self-driving vehicle technology for use on the ground.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has just granted Amazon a patent related to the coordination of autonomous vehicles on a roadway with reversible lanes. Say it’s rush hour and the lane directions over a bridge have changed — it’s probably a good idea for the vehicle to know.

Amazon’s proposed roadway management system is designed to monitor traffic flow and generate routing instructions for self-driving cars based on the roadway assignment. The central network would be able to give vehicles advance warning, instead of relying on visual cues to make a real-time decision.

Amazon illustration via USPTO

The benefits of this technology could improve autonomous driving beyond lane management. Road Show reports, “Having a central system sending out notifications to individual cars is a staple of vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technology, which multiple automakers have expressed an interest in developing.” Audi, for instance, recently unveiled its Traffic Light Information system, and BMW is integrating a traffic-light reader into new vehicle models (which I saw in action earlier

California Utilities Seek One Billion Dolar to Build Out Electric Vehicle

California’s three major investor-owned utilities are already rolling out nearly $200 million in electric-vehicle charging infrastructure for apartments, workplaces and disadvantaged communities.

Now they’re seeking permission to spend $1 billion more over the next five years — a move they say is needed to help the state meet its EV targets and carbon reduction goals, even as the Trump administration threatens to cut federal support for these efforts.

In new filings with the California Public Utilities Commission, Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric and San Diego Gas & Electric have laid out plans for a combination of fast-charging stations, electric-bus and -truck charging systems, and new rates and incentives.

The biggest, from Southern California Edison, envisions raising $570 million over five years, which will increase ratepayers’ bills by an average of 0.5 percent. The rollout would include 50 fast-charging ports, capable of charging EVs in under 30 minutes, at five clusters in the utility’s territory; charging stations for electric buses and trucks, as well as airport and cargo-handling vehicles; rebates to encourage new residential charging stations; and rate incentives to encourage EV owners to charge during off-peak hours.

That’s a much

Here The List of Top 50 Infrastructure Projects

Energy projects on Trump’s “Priority List” could add 9 gigawatts of clean power.

A list emerged this week; it appears to have been prepared for then President-elect Trump, and is titled: “Priority List: Emergency & National Security Projects.” It’s 50 pages for 50 infrastructure projects — quick facts on a host of highways, bridges, powerlines and airports, the construction of which would naturally make America greater, cost $140 billion, and require enough engineering and construction work to keep the equivalent of 24,000 people employed for 10 years.

Surprisingly, the list contains no mention of a Great Wall on the Mexico border, nor the Keystone XL or Dakota Access pipeline projects. The one pipeline project on the list is the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which would move natural gas from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale down to the Southeast. Owned by Dominion Resources, Duke Energy and Southern Company, the pipeline would cost about $5 billion and provide 10,000 job years.

The Irish Times: World’s Largest Oil Company Considers Investing $5 Billion in Renewable Energy

Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company, is considering as much as $5 billion of investments in renewable energy firms as part

Info FERC Resignation Could Mean Big Delays for Trump

Just as President Trump takes power promising to ramp up oil and gas production, a sudden resignation in a key agency threatens to put such projects on hold across the United States.

On Thursday, Norman Bay, one of just three current members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), said he would resign effective Feb. 3, even though his term isn’t up until next year. His announcement came shortly after Trump decided Bay’s fellow commissioner, Cheryl LaFleur, would serve as the commission’s new chair.

“I think [Bay] was perhaps disappointed that Commissioner LaFleur was elevated above him,” says Carolyn Elefant, an energy lawyer who represents landowners negotiating with pipeline companies. After Bay’s abrupt decision, Elefant says she’s “heard in some FERC circles he’s being criticized for that.”

The resignation could mean costly delays for some major pipeline projects.

The boom in nuclear energy began in the 1950s, when America, Russia, Britain and France rushed to develop reactor technologies for electricity generation. By the late 1970s around 230 reactors were under construction. However, following the accidents at Three Mile Island in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986, fears about