Blog Archives

Subaru trademarks Evoltis

Subaru is advancing into the electric vehicle (EV) sphere and is reportedly picking a name for its plug-in hybrid, which may be called “Evoltis.”

The Evoltis name appears in the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s listings, and Subaru’s application has been filed as recently as March 26.

We don’t know yet whether the Evoltis name would stand for the entire vehicle or its hybrid tech, or if it will be actually used at all. Car & Driver reports that Subaru of America didn’t comment on the matter when asked.

Last year, Subaru CEO Yasuyuki Yoshinaga said his company is looking at electrifying existing models of its fleet rather than designing an all-new line-up in its future technological plans. 

Subaru plans to release a plug-in hybrid at the end of this year. 

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Driver killed in Tesla crash

A driver has died after his Tesla Model X crashed in California on Friday morning, and concerns about its exposed battery contributed to more than six hours of lane closures, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The accident was reported when the 2017 Tesla, traveling at freeway speed, collided with a median barrier. 

Soon after the crash, the vehicle caught on fire, and then an approaching Mazda and Audi hit the Tesla.

The Tesla driver was removed from the car and taken to hospital with major injuries, and was pronounced dead Friday afternoon, Officer Art Montiel said. 

Road crews were prevented from immediately clearing the wreck from the roadway because explosion concerns after the car’s sizeable battery was exposed by the crash.

Engineers from Tesla were sent to evaluate the battery, and after about an hour they deemed the car safe to transport, Montiel said.

The semiautonomous Autopilot feature had also been turned on before the crash raising more questions about the safety of the company’s self-driving technology.

The company said in a statement posted on its website that the driver in the crash last week had “about five seconds and 150 meters of unobstructed view” before he crashed into a median barrier, adding that “the vehicle logs show that no action was taken.”

The driver had been given “several visual and one audible hands-on warning earlier in the drive,” Tesla said.

Still, Tesla defended its Autopilot hardware. In its statement, the company said there was one automotive fatality for every 138 million kilometres across all vehicles in the United States, compared with one fatality for every 515 million kilometres in vehicles equipped with Autopilot.

“If you are driving a Tesla equipped with Autopilot hardware, you are 3.7 times less likely to be involved in a fatal accident,” the company said.

The crash occurred five days after a fatality which involved the first pedestrian death associated with self-driving technology.




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Nissan LEAF named World Green Car of the Year

The All-New Nissan LEAF, the world’s best-selling electric vehicle, has been named the “2018 World Green Car” at the 2018 New York International Auto Show.

The 2018 Nissan LEAF is the first all-electric vehicle to win the World Green Car award since the category’s inception in 2016.

“We’re very proud that since Nissan LEAF launched in 2010, we’ve been able to put more than 300,000 zero-emission electric vehicles on the road worldwide, helping to reduce carbon footprints around the globe,” said Daniele Schillaci, Executive Vice President. 

“We’re honoured to be recognised by this esteemed jury and proud to continue to expand the vision of Nissan Intelligent Mobility.”

The latest LEAF rose to the top among a list of five initial category entries and was the stand-alone EV in the running. Jurors considered the vehicle’s overall environmental impact including tailpipe emissions and fuel consumption upon selecting the overall winner.

“The first LEAF was good, the new LEAF is better, so it’s an easy choice for the Green Car award,” said Australian World Car of the Year judge, Paul Gover.

“The extra range is the major advance, but Nissan has also added extra performance and more practicality.“At a time when the world is looking for honesty and realism in new technology, the LEAF gets a tick from me.”

The previous-generation Nissan LEAF was named “World Car of the Year” in 2011 and remains the only pure electric vehicle to win that award in its 14-year history. 

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Govt. officials put the brakes on self-driving vehicles

More than a week after an Uber self-driving car struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona, government officials and technology firms have begun reconsidering their deployment of the autonomous technology due to fears it may not be ready for public testing.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey banned Uber’s self-driving cars from the state’s roads Monday, stating he was “very disturbed” by police video showing the fatality.

The ban was limited to Uber, but held special significance because Ducey had previously welcomed Uber’s testing in the state by pitting Arizona’s comparatively relaxed regulatory framework to neighbouring California.

In a letter to Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi on Monday, Ducey said he was suspending the company’s self-driving tests until further notice, calling the video “disturbing and alarming” and explaining that it “raises many questions about the ability of Uber to continue testing in Arizona.”

 “Improving public safety has always been the emphasis of Arizona’s approach to autonomous vehicle testing, and my expectation is that public safety is also the top priority for all who operate this technology in the state of Arizona,” Ducey told Khosrowshahi in his letter. “The incident that took place on March 18 is an unquestionable failure to comply with this expectation.”

A spokesman for the governor said the ban would last indefinitely.

“We want to see the results of the pending investigations before making any further decisions,” the spokesman said. Pressed on why Uber was the only company whose self-driving operations were ordered suspended, the spokesman, Patrick Ptak, said it was because “there are currently three investigations into the company’s accident and technology.” Several technology firms and automakers are testing self-driving vehicles in the state, which does not require special permits.

Uber has already voluntarily suspended autonomous vehicle testing across North America in the wake of the crash.

Computer chip-maker Nvidia also suspended its autonomous vehicle tests on Tuesday amid the investigations into the Uber crash, Nvidia spokesman Fazel Adabi said. Nvidia supplies computing technology for Uber’s self-driving cars, including for the same model involved in last week’s crash, and is testing self-driving cars in California and New Jersey, among other locations.


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Jaguar teams up with Waymo

Waymo and Jaguar Land Rover announce long-term partnership

Jaguar Land Rover and Waymo have announced a long-term strategic partnership. Together, the two companies will develop the world’s first premium self-driving electric vehicle for Waymo’s driverless transportation service.

Jaguar Land Rover and Waymo (formerly Google self-driving car project) will work together to design and engineer self-driving Jaguar I-PACE vehicles. Up to 20,000 I-PACEs will be built in the first two years of production and be available for riders of Waymo’s driverless service, serving a potential one million trips per day.

The Waymo I-Paces will initially be used for trials in the US later this year to gather reliability and safety data for both firms, and specifically to help Jaguar with the base I-Pace and future models.

The Jaguar I-PACE was launched earlier this month and is the company’s first full-electric SUV. 

Currently, Waymo is the only company with a fleet of fully self-driving cars — with no one in the front seat — on public roads. Later this year Waymo will launch the world’s first self-driving transportation service allowing members of the public to use Waymo’s app to request a vehicle.

“With the Jaguar I-PACE we have a world-beating car that’s captured the imagination of customers around the world. Our passion for further advancing smart mobility needs expert long-term partners. In joining forces with Waymo we are pioneering to push the boundaries of technology. Together we will deliver the self-driving Waymo Jaguar I-PACE with the grace, space and eco-pace that customers expect,” said Prof. Dr. Ralf Speth, Jaguar Land Rover CEO. 

John Krafcik, Waymo CEO, added: “While we’ve been focused at Waymo on building the world’s most experienced driver, the team at Jaguar Land Rover has developed an all-new battery-electric platform that looks to set a new standard in safety, design and capability. We’re sure Waymo riders will enjoy the safe, premium and delightful experience that the self-driving I-Pace will provide.”

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Porsche 911 will never be fully electric

While Porsche claims that full-electric and hybrid-electric cars will account for 25 per cent of sales by 2025, there will not be a battery-powered version of its iconic 911 sports car.

A Porsche 911 Turbo

There will be the option of a high-performance plug-in hybrid version, however the 911 will never be fully electric, CEO Oliver Blume told reporters earlier this month. 

The 911 will get a high-performance plug-in hybrid version but it will never be fully electrified, CEO Oliver Blume told reporters at the carmaker’s annual results conference here earlier this month.

“We are waiting for the further evolution in battery technology so you should not expect a plug-in version in the coming years. It’s currently planned when the 992 is refreshed,” he said.

“We launched the 718 Boxster and Cayman in 2016,” Blume said. “We are not yet at the point where we have to decide how things will progress,”

Porsche’s first full-electric car, the Mission E sedan, will launch next year. The automaker gave a new performance detail, saying its 800-volt electrical architecture will give drivers a 100-km range after just four minutes of battery recharging.

Porsche confirmed will build more variants of its Mission E, including one based on the Mission E Cross Turismo unveiled at the Geneva auto show, which is expected in 2021.

Porsche also plans to build a network of 400 fast-charging stations in Europe by 2020, as well as offer customers home-charging solutions. It will also develop cordless charging stations that use electromagnetic induction.

Long term, parent Volkswagen Group has assigned Porsche the task of developing its third purpose-built electric-vehicle architecture for sports cars and supercars called SPE that may also be used by Audi and Lamborghini that will be developed solely by Porsche.


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BMW confirms i4 electric car

BMW iVision Dynamics at last year’s Frankfurt Motor Show

BMW will expand its i family of electrified cars with the i4 full-electric sedan, which is confirmed to arrive by 2020. 

The BMW i4 is just one of the 25 electrified models that the BMW Group intends to bring to market by 2025. Half of these models will be fully electric.

“By 2025, our global vehicle portfolio will include 25 fully- or part-electric models. At last year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, we unveiled our take on the future of e‑mobility with the BMW iVision Dynamics. This vehicle will become reality: we will build it in Munich – as the BMW i4,” Krüger added.

Powered by the fifth generation of battery and drivetrain technology, the BMW Group will be capable of offering all-electric vehicles with a range of 550 – 700 kilometres and plug-in hybrids with an electrical range of up to 100 kilometres.

Today, the BMW Group already manufactures electrified vehicles at ten production facilities. In 2019, Plant Oxford will join this list with the start of production of the fully-electric MINI.


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Tesla’s parts struggle

Tesla Model 3 – Source: Washington Post

Several current and former Tesla employees say the electric vehicle (EV) car manufacturer is building a high ratio of flawed parts and vehicles that need rework and repairs.

According to sources, Tesla has had to ship some flawed parts to remanufacturing facilities to avoid scrapping them, rather than fixing them in-line, however Tesla is denying the claim.

A current Tesla engineer told CNBC news that around 40 per cent of the parts made or received at its Fremont factory require rework. The need for reviews of parts coming off the line, and rework, has contributed to Model 3 delays, the engineer said.

To deal with a build-up of flawed parts and vehicles, Tesla has brought in teams of technicians and engineers from its service centres and remanufacturing lines to help with rework and repairs on site in Fremont, according to the sources.

Tesla flatly denies that its remanufacturing teams engage in rework. “Our remanufacturing team does not ‘rework’ cars,” a spokesperson said. The company said the employees might be conflating rework and remanufacturing. It also said every vehicle is subjected to rigorous quality control involving more than 500 inspections and tests.

CEO Elon Musk has been under serious pressure to increase production of the Model 3 sedan, Tesla’s first mass-market EV. More than 400,000 customers have reserved the EV, paying US$1,000 refundable fees to do so.

Originally Musk said that Tesla would be making around 20,000 Model 3s per month by December. The company then later downgraded those expectations – Tesla is currently making around 2,500 Model 3s per week.

Tesla has acknowledged problems with production of batteries, but said it is still on track to meet its target of 2,500 Model 3s per week by the end of March, and 5,000 Model 3s per week by the end of the second quarter.


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Autonomous vehicle trials for Christchurch

Ohmio Automation is building the first New Zealand made autonomous vehicle which will be trialed at Christchurch Airport in the next few months.

LIFT, the autonomous vehicle, will be able to carry up to 20 people and will be used to transport passengers from car parks to the terminal.

Stephen Matthews, Ohmio chief executive, is hopeful that the LIFT will be certified to carry passengers on-road inside a year. 

“Human cost is the biggest cost of transporting people and if we can take that cost out of moving people, we can lower the operating costs,” said Matthews. “It’s a trade off between the capital cost and the operating cost.”

The vehicles are designed to operate on predetermined repetitive routes, and their mapping function means that they can learn a route and repeat it over and over. 

Multiple Ohmio vehicles could also join up to form a convoy, then split up as required to take passengers to different destinations. 

Ohmio is in discussion with other potential users, such as retirement villages and hospitals, who are also interested in using the vehicle to transport passengers between hospital wings. 

The body of the LIFT is being made in Auckland and the chassis in Wellington.

Christchurch Airport general manager corporate affairs, Michael Singleton, said the second phase of the trial meant the vehicle could be proven and licensed, and was built specifically for New Zealand conditions. 

“Collaborating with Ohmio means we have a technology partner and producer which is able to take the learnings from the trial to date and then adapt and enhance the vehicle to New Zealand needs.”

Ohmio is planning to launch several variations later this year.

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New Zealand’s first electric bus

New Zealand’s first electric bus – Source: AUT

New Zealand’s first battery-powered electric bus hit the road in Auckland last week.

“This bus, which was assembled in New Zealand, shows how electric vehicle technology is now moving into the heavy vehicle space,” says Liz Yeaman, EECA’s Transport Development Manager.

The 35 seater bus is part of Auckland University of Technology’s (AUT) fleet, servicing the university’s North-City Campus and South-City Campus bus routes. 

The electric bus not only provides sustainable transport for hundreds of students every day, it will operate as a research tool providing critical data to understand the economics and performance of electric buses on New Zealand roads.

Through the government’s Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund which promotes  innovation and ideas in low emission vehicles, EECA is supporting this venture to create awareness and influence change in the sector.

The $738,500 funding from Tranzit Group and the Government’s Low Emissions Vehicle Contestable Fund covered the cost of the development and build, charging infrastructure, and the upskilling of Kiwi engineers.

Kiwi Bus Builders in Tauranga constructed the body of the bus, with electric engines and chassis built by Times Electric Group in China.

Applications for the current round of contestable funding are open until 11 April.

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Flying vehicle trialled in Canterbury

Google co-founder (and now Alphabet CEO) Larry Page unveiled his autonomous electric flying car, Cora on Monday.

In 2016, Page invested in two flying car start-ups. One of those was Kitty Hawk, a California based company, who is developing Cora in conjunction with Zephyr Airworks, a New Zealand operator.

Sebastian Thrun, Kitty Hawk chief executive, is a computer scientist who founded a Google research and development facility, which developed Google’s self-driving car project.

Fred Reid, Zephyr Airworks boss, has been chief executive of Virgin America and president of both Lufthansa and Delta Air Lines.

Formerly Zee.Aero, Zephyr Airworks is Kitty Hawk’s operator in New Zealand, although the companies haven’t put a timeline on when it will be available publicly.

Both companies are convinced this new type of vehicle is the future of transport. Reid said to Stuff that the concept would be commonplace “10 or 20 years from now”. Thrun said road traffic was incredibly congested and there was no space to dramatically increase road capacity.

A timeline on the website shows how far things have come over the years, from the electric aircraft’s first hover in 2011, first self-piloted transition in 2014, having a real person fly safely in the air taxi in August 2017, to beginning flight testing in New Zealand in October.


The flying vehicle is intended for use as part of a transportation service instead of sale to individual users. It’s built to use autonomous software, and uses 12 lift fans for vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) like a helicopter, so there’s no need for a runway.

According to the company’s FAQs, Cora is equipped with three independent flight-computers that each calculate its location. If there’s an issue with one of them, Cora can still reliably navigate. The fans and propellers are also electric, they can operate independently. An issue with one has no effect on the others.

Cora can operate between 500 ft to 3000 ft above the ground. It’s wingspan is around 11 meters. The air taxi’s range is currently around 100 kilometres and can reach a speed of 180 kilometres per hour.

What does this mean for New Zealand?

Airways New Zealand announced yesterday it is piloting future technologies needed to support the arrival of autonomous flying vehicles in New Zealand airspace.

The air navigation services provider will develop a nationwide unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) traffic management system, known as UTM, to enable drone activity across New Zealand airspace as well as integrate these vehicles safely into the national air traffic network.

Airways CEO Graeme Sumner says, “There is no doubt that technology is evolving and Airways’ role is to enable safe and flexible access to our airspace to allow these new industries to thrive.

“New Zealand’s regulatory environment and relatively uncongested airspace make us an attractive option for new operators. We are looking for ways to safely support more complex operations and facilitate new entrants, including the Zephyr Airworks’ autonomous aircraft, into our skies.”

Mayor of Christchurch Lianne Dalziel says the project is a perfect fit with our new city of opportunity – a city where we can explore and realise ideas.

“I have had the privilege of seeing the self-piloted air taxi and I am very excited about what it offers for future generations – to live and move in a way that has never been possible before.”

“This aircraft represents the evolution of the transport eco system to one that responds to a global challenge around traffic and congestion, and is kinder to the planet. This is a fully electric aircraft that rises into the air like a helicopter, flies like a plane and then lands again like a helicopter.

“Christchurch is committed to becoming carbon neutral and we are embracing future technologies in the areas of future transport, future foods, Antarctica and space technology, technical adventure clothing, social enterprise – we are open for business and making strong strides in these areas. This project is a great example of our commitment to be prepared for the future and I am grateful to Zephyr Airworks for partnering with Christchurch and Canterbury.”

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