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First domestic V2G charger

UK firm, OVO Energy, has unveiled what the company is calling the world’s first widely available, domestic electric vehicle-to-grid charger.

With a 6kW charge and discharge power rating, this intelligent device has been designed to give drivers the option to discharge excess electricity from their cars back to the electricity grid, providing flexibility services and helping to supply energy at times of peak demand.

OVO CEO and Founder Stephen Fitzpatrick, said, “Today we’re launching the world’s first widely available vehicle-to-grid charger, helping to solve one of the biggest challenges facing the energy sector. We’re enabling thousands of EV batteries to help balance the grid in times of peak demand, more renewable energy to come onto the system, and households to reduce their electricity bills.”

Fitzpatrick added this new approach to energy was made possible by the “convergence of emerging technologies, applying intelligence, and years of working with customers to redesign the entire energy system.”

The 6kW OVO Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) Charger offers drivers of certain electric vehicles the opportunity to discharge excess electricity from their cars back to the electric grid to help supply energy at times of peak demand. 

Using VCharge, this charger will also optimise vehicle charging to take advantage of cheaper electricity when it’s available. The OVO Vehicle-to-Grid Charger will be rolled out from summer 2018 for up to 1,000 Nissan electric vehicle owners as part of a two-year trial.

VCharge is a highly scalable system that remotely connects distributed flexible electrical devices and aggregates them into a virtual power plant.

This connected system reacts as a whole to changes in demand and supply, recognising strain and reacting within a second.

By intelligently managing both generation and demand in this way, the company states that VCharge could facilitate more renewable energy generation and supply without the need for costly infrastructure investment.  

Vector also introduced a two-way electric vehicle (EV) charger in New Zealand in July 2017.  

“With V2G technology, many homes could be powered by their EVs at peak time. Similarly, EVs will be releasing energy back to the grid to support grid demand while taking advantage of a higher peak energy buyback rate,” said Andre Botha, Chief Networks Officer.

According to Botha, Vector will be offering V2G to customers in the near future.

 

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Tesla to build Model 3 24/7

Tesla Model 3 – Source: Washington Post

Tesla says it will start building cars around the clock in order to ramp up Model 3 output to 6,000 a week.

An internal company email says the company will boost production to a 24/7 operation by the end of June. 

“As part of the drive toward 6k, all Model 3 production at Fremont will move to 24/7 operations. This means that we will be adding another shift to general assembly, body and paint,” Chief Executive Elon Musk wrote. The email was obtained by the website Electrek.

Tesla will also be adding about 400 people per week for several weeks, Musk wrote. The company had previously said it was targeting 5,000 a week by around the end of the second quarter.

Musk, who has said his automaker will be profitable and cash-flow positive in the third and fourth quarters also outlined cost-saving measures in his email.

“I have asked the Tesla finance team to comb through every expense worldwide, no matter how small, and cut everything that doesn’t have a strong value justification,” he wrote.

“All capital or other expenditures above a million dollars, or where a set of related expenses may accumulate to a million dollars over the next 12 months, should be considered on hold until explicitly approved by me.”

“The reason that the burst-build target rate is 6,000 and not 5,000 per week in June is that we cannot have a number with no margin for error across thousands of internally and externally produced parts and processes,” Musk said. He noted the carmaker produced 2,250 of the mission-critical sedans last week.

Musk said that going forward, workers should walk out of meetings or drop off of a call “as soon as it is obvious you aren’t adding value” and avoid using “acronyms or nonsense words for objects, software or processes at Tesla” to boost their productivity.

“We are burning the midnight oil to burn the midnight oil,” he added.

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Courageous Ace completes discharge

The latest update from Autohub has been released on progress of the Mitsui Osk Line (MOL) car carriers; the Courageous Ace, Primrose Ace, Glovis Caravel, Adria Ace, Palmela and Garnet Ace.

Courageous Ace
We are pleased to advise that the Courageous Ace has completed discharge at all New Zealand ports and has departed New Zealand.

Glovis Caravel
The Glovis Caravel inspections by MPI are progressing well, with final units’ heat treatment to be completed today (18th of April).

Cargo on the main decks has been discharged, cleared and released by MPI. MOL expect to have clearance for a full discharge once final units complete heat treatment.

Subject to yard space on Ports of Auckland MOL will look to discharge 2 decks (approx. 400 cars) of cargo for MPI to complete their deck surveillance requirements.

Based on space availability at Ports of Auckland, Glovis Caravel should be completely discharged by the 22nd of April.

Discharge delays
Due to discharge delays in Auckland from lack of yard space and the planned strike action in Lyttelton, MOL regret to advise that the Glovis Caravel will travelling to Lyttelton or Nelson.

All Nelson cargo ex the Glovis Caravel will tranship in Auckland to the Adria Ace.
All Lyttelton cargo ex the Glovis Caravel will tranship in Auckland to the Palmela.

To date there has been no change to planned strike action by the RMTU in Lyttelton. Strike action in Lyttelton will start the 20th of April ending midnight on the 24th of April and then from the 26th of April ending midnight on the 29th of April.

Please find below updated schedule (all schedules are subject to MPI inspections process, berth and yard availability):

*Subject to berth availability due to congestion
**tranship AKL to the Valiant Ace V.49

 

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Alibaba joins autonomous car race

Alibaba Group’s Headquarters

The Alibaba Group has confirmed it has been conducting self-driving vehicle tests.

Alibaba joins its rival internet giants Baidu and Tencent (BAT) in the artificial intelligence-driven industry. The company is looking to hire 50 more self-driving specialists for its AI research lab, said an Alibaba spokeswoman to the South China Morning Post. 

It is understood that Alibaba is now running road tests of autonomous cars on a regular basis and has the capabilities for open road trials, and that its goal is to achieve Level 4 autonomous capability, which means cars can self-drive in most conditions without human intervention.

BAT is already working on Level 4 capabilities and was also identified by China’s Ministry of Science and Technology as national champion in China’s efforts in self-driving cars.

China is likely to emerge as the world’s largest market for autonomous vehicles and mobility services, worth more than US$500 billion by 2030, according to a McKinsey report released on Monday.

Alibaba’s research into the technology dates back to March last year when Wang Gang, a former associate professor of Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University and specialist in computer vision and autonomous driving, was recruited as chief scientist of Alibaba AI Labs to lead the project.

The move is seen as an extension of Alibaba’s ambitions to connect devices and manage city traffic via “smart brains”.

“Our vision is to build an intelligently connected world through transformative [internet of things] technologies,” Simon Hu Xiaoming, the president of Alibaba Cloud, said on the sidelines of a cloud computing conference last month, adding that the plan was to build a network of 10 billion connected devices within the next five years.

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China to remove ownership caps

China will remove foreign ownership caps on local auto companies by 2022 and restrictions on new-energy vehicle ventures this year, which will open the market wider to carmakers.

The Chinese authorities said in a statement that in the next five years they would remove the rules that have required carmakers like General Motors (GM), Toyota and Volkswagen to link up with a local partner before building a factory in China. This not only applies to manufacturers of electric cars, but for companies that make jetliners, helicopters and drones.

Beijing plans to move even faster, eliminating foreign ownership limits this year.

Tesla would be the immediate big winner from the changes. The electric carmaker has already identified a site in Shanghai for a factory but has not wanted a partner for fear of losing control of its technology.

Tesla chief Elon Musk said last month China’s tough auto rules for foreign companies created an uneven playing field as scores of local and international companies compete for a slice of China’s fast-growing market for EVs.

However, some carmakers are hinting that they will remain with their local partners, and may even see more risks than opportunities in ditching the joint venture structure.

An unnamed senior General Motors executive said to the New York Times last week that even without ownership caps the U.S. carmaker would not cut ties with local partner SAIC Motor Corp., adding GM would not be as successful in China on its own.

On Tuesday GM indicated further that it was not eager to buy out its partners. “G.M.’s growth in China is a result of working with our trusted joint venture partners,” the statement said. “We will continue to work with our partners to provide high-quality products and services to consumers.”

Honda Motor Co. said its China business had grown on the back of strong local tie-ups. “At the moment we have no plans to change our capital relationship,” a Honda spokesman said to Automotive News.

Volkswagen, however, had deliberately created a temporary joint venture with Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group, which would allow them to “explore whether new opportunities were possible.”

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Waymo applies for no-driver testing

Waymo, who is owned by Alphabet, this week applied to test cars without back up drivers on California roads, even as recent crashes involving autonomous vehicles has heightened fears about the safety of the technology

A source familiar with the matter told the San Francisco Chronicle that Waymo plans to extensively map the Californian terrain by having vehicles with test drivers cover it first, before using no-driver cars.

The move comes less than a month after a fatal accident involving a self-driving Uber SUV in Arizona raised fresh concerns about the safety of autonomous cars. That vehicle had a backup driver behind the wheel when it struck and killed a pedestrian on March 19, but dashcam videos showed the driver was not watching the road.

Waymo CEO, John Krafcik said that the Arizona tragedy would not have happened with a Waymo car.

“We have a lot of confidence that our technology would be robust and would be able to handle situations like that one,” Krafcik told a car dealers group the week after the accident.

The company started testing autonomous vehicles in 2009, when the idea was considered as incredibly forward-thinking. It was the third company to receive a permit for road tests, with backup drivers behind the wheel, in California. 

Waymo designed a bubble-shaped autonomous car that had no steering wheel or brake pedal, but California officials would not allow it onto public roads until those features had been added.

 

“Waymo has done extensive vehicle testing on our local streets with a good safety record,” Mountain View City Manager Dan Rich, said in a statement. He commended the company for committing to “transparency and information sharing.”

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Toyota to get cars ‘talking’

2017 Toyota Corolla

Toyota has announced they will start putting short-range communications chips in US vehicles in the next three years, in order to make cars safer by getting them to “talk” with one another.

The American car manufacturer will put the chips in Toyota and Lexus models in the US starting in 2021, said Andrew Coetzee, group vice president of product planning for North America. The technology will enable cars to send data on their location and speed to surrounding vehicles and roadside infrastructure to curb crashes.

Toyota is going public with the campaign in order to get the rest of the auto industry and industry regulators to embrace the technology.

It’s also headed for a clash with phone companies that would rather see carmakers embrace 5G cellular networks to accomplish the same task. 

“The dedicated short-range communications systems Toyota will start using, known as DSRC, send information back and forth to one another several times a second and can alert drivers to potential collisions before they happen,” said Bloomberg.  A broad coalition of auto companies, including Toyota and General Motors, urged U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao in November to support a “talking cars” mandate for all new passenger vehicles by 2023.

 “We need to make a technology choice when there’s no regulatory requirement in place,” John Kenney said to Bloomberg, director of networking research at the Toyota InfoTechnology Center in Mountain View, California. “What we’re doing today is speaking up and saying ‘We will deploy DSRC technology and we encourage other automakers to do the same.’”

When the Transportation Department released a proposal for the requirement in December 2016, regulators under the Obama administration estimated the technology could prevent or mitigate 80 percent of vehicle crashes not influenced by driver impairment.

Coetzee said he’s not convinced automakers should share the spectrum band with cable or tech companies.

“We need to make sure we’re got super, super reliable and very quick transmission speeds,” Coetzee said to Bloomberg. “More testing will be needed to show you can do this” while sharing airwaves.

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Ford’s self-driving cars to launch ‘at scale’

Miami Mayor Carlos A. Giménez announces collaboration with Ford Motor Company to test its self-driving vehicle business model on the streets of Miami and Miami Beach.

Ford seems determined to meet its 2021 deadline to launch a service in the United States using its self-driving cars. This won’t be a small test operation in a single city, it wants to launch and operate its own service “at scale,” with all the necessary components in place to ensure it’s both efficient and profitable.

Ford’s Jim Farley recently told the Financial Times in an interview that the automaker’s self-driving car network will be running “at scale” in 2021.

Farley also emphasised that this would be a truly Ford-run service. While Ford does have self-driving car partnerships with companies like Lyft, it intends to “own the fleet” for its own services. That’s somewhat similar to Renault-Nissan, but a sharp contrast with Jaguar Land Rover, Volvo and others focused on selling vehicles to outside services.

The company’s own efforts are focused more on delivery than on passengers. However, it’s not entirely surprising that the company would push for a large, in-house driverless network.

Sherif Marakby, Ford’s vice president of autonomous vehicles and electrification, said that his company is developing its very first “autonomous vehicle operations terminal” to maintain and securely house its vehicles.

The site, located a short distance from downtown Miami, is set to include facilities to wash the vehicles, including their all-important sensors, with routine maintenance also carried out.

To help drive its autonomous-vehicle ambitions, Ford last year invested US$1 billion in artificial intelligence company, Argo A.I.

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EV selection set to take off

2017 Hyundai Ioniq

New electric vehicles (EVs) will hit the market at a rapid pace over the next two years, not-for-profit group Drive Electric says.

That is because the push towards electrifying the world’s vehicle fleet is gathering momentum, with many countries setting deadlines of between 2030 and 2040 to end the sale of new internal combustion engine cars.

Drive Electric board member Dean Sheed says original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have been pouring money into electric and autonomous vehicles in order to keep up with the deadlines.

“There’s some big paradigm shifts happening in the world. Everyone is investing serious levels of money in EVs and autonomous drive.

Dean Sheed, Drive Electric board member

“Because different brands have their own unique development pathways, you will get critical mass in late 2018 and throughout 2019. Then the number of models on offer starts to get really significant.”

However, converting the fleet will take time, Sheed, who is also Audi New Zealand general manager, says.

“2.3 per cent of the 100,000 new cars in 2017 were hybrids or EVs.

“We are on the way, which is great, but we need a bigger share of EVs coming into the country as new and used. “Then you’ll see consumer behaviour change.”

On a global scale, Sheed says the move to petrol vehicles may actually go up in the short term as diesel falls out of favour in places like Europe, because of the current focus on harmful emissions, like NOx.

“Moving from diesel to petrol will probably see CO2 increase. It’s going to get a lot of people concerned about CO2 in the shorter term until the move to EVs. “At some point internal combustion engines will come down as EVs take over and become the demand focus.

“Many countries in the world have CO2 targets to meet with taxation effects. EVs are the solution to get there.” Unlike many other countries, New Zealand is in an enviable position to adopt EVs, with 85 per cent renewable energy.

“New Zealand is one of the four or five countries globally in terms of cleanest producing electricity. “The world has to get off electricity generated by coal.” In the next five to ten years, the increasing percentage of EVs will become available in both plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) and battery electric (BEV) forms.

“Ultimately BEVs will take over and we will all be in fully electric vehicles, with increasing levels of autonomous drive.”

There could be more incentives put in place to get New Zealanders into EVs more quickly, Sheed says.

“If the Government wants to see more fleets adopt EVs, it needs to have some levers to pull to make them more attractive for businesses.” Ideas like lowering fringe benefit tax on EVs through Drive Electric’s Project Switch is one potential way to do that.

“The more adoption of EVs by big companies the better. After three years, fleet cars go back to the consumer as ex-lease vehicles.”

New Zealanders’ love of SUVs and utes is also a challenge that has to be met, Sheed says. While there are some electric SUVs on the way, the same can’t be said for utes.

“You need to have an electric offering in all vehicle segments.”

Getting the infrastructure in place is also important to sell the EV message, Sheed says. “Rapid chargers need to go sub 30 minutes and then sub 15 minutes for a full charge. We need massive chargers that can dump high volumes of current in quickly.

“It’s about having enough of them at the right capacity. Infrastructure needs to be built up at the same time as the fleet.”

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Autofile survey – closing soon

A couple of weeks ago we launched a survey asking you, our loyal readers, how we could improve your experience when reading our monthly magazine.
We just wanted to send out a reminder that the survey will be coming to a close on Friday this week. 

Thank you very much to all who have already completed the survey. Our reader’s views are a crucial factor in helping us to determine what sections of our magazine are useful and is a chance for us to see what you would like to see more of in the magazine and how we can improve it.

As a thank you for taking the time to complete our survey, all entries that include an email address will enter a draw for a chance to win a $100 Prezzy Card.

To complete the survey before it closes on Friday April 20 click here.

 

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