One of the stars of AutoMobility LA at the LA Auto Show has been the , which ties into Volkswagen’s traditional Transporter cargo van and the look of its retro-passenger microbus. It’s the largest vehicle to be built on the German automaker’s Modular Electric Drive Kit (MEB) platform, and it will be getting an expanded version of the microbus with a large rear cargo area in lieu of seats. It will also get a battery pack capable of going 340 miles on a charge. On the other side of the urban mobility scale, the company unveiled the Cargo e-Bike, a three-wheeled, battery-assisted electric bike that it says can deliver cargo up to 463 pounds. It’s expected to enter production in 2019.

Another LA Auto Show highlight: While the Toyota Corolla has been on the market for 53 years, the 2020 Corolla will be the first-ever to come in a hybrid edition. It’s expected to achieve more than 50 miles per gallon and will be loaded with Toyota’s standard suite of safety equipment, Toyota Safety Sense. The Japanese automaker also announced that the Prius will be getting the all-wheel-drive equipped AWD-e, that will provide additional traction through various conditions like inclement weather, snow or rain, and an estimated 52 mpg in the city.  during the show.

Nissan is tapping into the ecosystem and energy grid through two new programs, one out of Japan and one announced at its U.S. headquarters. The , where owners of Nissan electric vehicles will be able to easily connect the EV to energy systems to charge their batteries, power their homes and businesses, and feed energy back into the power grid. It will also develop new ways to reuse electric car batteries. The company is working with partners such as electric and telecom companies, conducting field tests of vehicle-to-grid and virtual power plant systems to tap into the clean energy benefits. In Franklin, Tenn., the U.S. division announced a program built around Nissan EV owners saving on electric utility costs by tapping into energy already stored in their Nissan Leaf. Working with Fermata Energy, a vehicle-to-grid systems company, a new pilot program under the Nissan Energy Share initiative. It taps into bi‑directional EV charging technology to partially power its North American headquarters in Franklin, and its design center in San Diego, Calif. Bi-direction charging technology not only charges the Nissan Leaf, it also stories energy in the car’s battery pack to partially power external electrical loads, such as buildings and homes.

Electric scooter company Bird is offering independent operators . Bird is selling the scooters to local business people and getting 20% of each ride. They also get access to Bird’s chargers and mechanics, but they do have the option of charging the scooters themselves. A number of cities do regulate the number of scooters they’ll permit to run on their streets. Called the Bird Platform, the company will begin rolling out the franchisee program in December in markets where city regulators have been more relaxed about it. Municipal governments have mixed feelings about whether they should allow Bird and and its competitor, Lime, to have free rein in their cities, or if they should be limited in number of scooters allowed on their streets; as has been the case in San Francisco. Bird and Lime believe in the “micro-mobility solution,” where electric scooters will be a solution to increasing traffic congestion and an alternative to ride-sharing options like Uber and Lyft. They usually enter markets first by showing up and gaining ridership before working things out with the city; and that sometimes happens after the city initiatives regulations and forces the issue.

Ryder System has ordered 1,000 medium-duty electric panel vans from Chanje, which will be operated by FedEx Express pick-up and delivery services. FedEx is purchasing 100 vehicles and leasing the other 900; the fleet vehicles are expected to operate throughout California over the next two years. The Chanje electric van is equipped to haul up to 6,000 pounds, up to 675 cubic feet of cargo, and travel 150-miles of range on a single charge.

Vincentric announced the 2018 U.S. Hybrid Analysis results with 42 of the 79 hybrids evaluated (53%) having a lower total cost of ownership compared to their closest all-gasoline powered counterpart. , where about 40% of the hybrids analyzed were cost-effective. The Ford Fusion Hybrid Titanium had the highest savings, where buyers could save close to $6,400 over five years of ownership compared to the similarly equipped all-gasoline powered version. “The number of cost-effective hybrids has increased significantly from last year’s analysis,” said Vincentric President, David Wurster. “Our research shows that the lower hybrid costs for fuel and maintenance now gives buyers a larger variety of cost-effective, eco-friendly vehicles to choose from.”

The age of robotaxis is ready to launch:  Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo division is preparing to launch the in early December, according to a source familiar with the plans. It will be run under its own brand and compete directly with mobility companies like Uber and Lyft. It won’t be a splashy opening, but the start of a trial run in suburbs around Phoenix. That’s where Waymo’s Early Rider Program has been tested with a group of 400 volunteer families who’ve been taking autonomous rides with the company for more than a year. This news coincided with a comments made by Waymo’s chief John Krafcik speaking at Wall Street Journal’s TechD D.Live conference on Tuesday. will start with a small group of riders in the Phoenix area but will be expanding in the coming months. Passengers can pay for rides and corporate customers such as Walmart Inc. are planning on having their customers shuttled to the chain’s stores in these vehicles. Earlier this year, Waymo announced plans to buy thousands of vehicles from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Tata Motors’ Jaguar Land Rover to expand its self-self-driving vehicle fleet.

VW ramping up to mass produce EVs:  Volkswagen three German factories to build electric vehicles — to meet expected demand and complete its commitment to zero emission vehicles made after the diesel-emissions scandal broke three years ago. The VW plant in Emden, which currently builds the VW Passat, would build electric cars from 2022 onwards, and its factory in Hannover would also start producing EVs the same year. Together with the company’s current Zwickau plant, it will make for Europe’s largest network for the production of EVs in Europe, the company said. This week, the German automaker also announced it will be spending 44 billion euros ($50.2 billion) on EVs, digitalization, autonomous driving and new mobility services by 2023. That will make for a plan 10 billion euros ($11.4 billion) more compared to last year’s planning round by VW.

Tesla buying trucking companies, facing more investor suits:  Tesla chief Elon Musk tweeted Thursday that to meet its delivery targets. The real challenge for Tesla this year has been building and delivering enough Model 3 compact electric cars to come close to meeting its earlier commitments to do so. It will shave off at least a month of time that it takes by using rail to get its electric cars to the East Coast. “We bought some trucking companies & secured contracts with major haulers to avoid trucking shortage mistake of last quarter,” Musk wrote without revealing details on the acquired companies.

Along with getting through hellish production schedules, the company has had to face a mounting crisis over Musk’s infamous August tweet on taking Tesla private. It will be likely be groups of securities fraud lawsuits, according to lawyers for shareholders. It would run the gamut of shareholders and their claimed losses, from traditional longtime institutional investors to others shorting the stock or holding options. The case presents “so many different types of investors and investments, long and short,” U.S. District Judge Edward Chen said at a hearing Thursday in San Francisco. “That may have some effect on how I measure who has the greatest financial interest.”

Get ready for AutoMobility LA and LA Auto Show:  AutoMobility LA will be taking place Nov. 26-29, 2018, in Los Angeles, on the latest in autonomy, connectivity, electrification, the sharing economy, and more. It’s the prelude to the , which runs from Nov. 30-Dec. 9 at the LA Convention Center. More than 60 debut vehicles are scheduled for this year’s AutoMobility LA, with nearly half making their world premiere. Jeep will be rolling out a pickup, and Kia is expected to have multiple vehicles make their world debut, including one of the brand’s best-selling cars. Audi has confirmed that the e-tron GT concept 4-door electric performance coupe will make its global premiere at AutoMobility LA.

Keynote speakers during AutoMobility LA include Giovanni Palazzo, CEO of Volkswagen’s Electrify America, talking about “Racing to Create an Open, Fast-Charging Network Ready for a Tidal Wave of EVs.” Ted Klaus, VP and executive engineer of Honda R&D Americas, will discuss “Safe Swarm: Preparing Highways for the Autonomous Future.” Ned Curic, VP of Amazon Alexa Automotive, will speak on “Now We’re Taking: Amazon Alexa.”

Other speakers include: Luke Schneider, CEO of Silvercar, Audi’s app-based car rental service; Megan Stooke, CMO of General Motor’s Maven car-sharing service; and Jenny Ha, senior exterior designer at Lucid Motors.

EVs going mainstream: Along with plug-in electric vehicles making it to the one million mark for U.S. auto sales in October, it was historic and interesting to see the in America’s light-duty car segment — in October coming in at #6 behind the Hyundai Elantra and before the Nissan Sentra. In an interview this week with Recode, 5,000 cars produced a week at its Fremont, Calif. plant has become the norm, and that’s being raised to 6,000 to 7,000 units a week. To hit about 6,500 a week “it would have to stress people out and do tons of overtime,” he said.

How long for AVs to go mainstream:  It was a milestone to see the right to test self-driving vehicles without human safety drivers. Waymo has been putting in the hours and reporting the data — more than 10 million miles of real-world public-road testing, and seven billion miles of simulation testing. But it’s still in the testing phase in U.S. states allowing for it, and a few other countries overseas. We’re probably looking at a decade from now before they’re commonly seen on roadways. Perhaps trucking will see it first, with the lack of available commercial-grade drivers and accidents caused by those . Cargo carriers may have to come up with their own insurance for their fleets, as to find the right coverage.

Subscription services comes to ride-hailing:  Uber is following Lyft — and several automakers — by , called Ride Pass. Users are guaranteed set prices for a monthly fee. That comes out to $24.99 in Los Angeles, and $14.99 in Austin, Orlando, Denver, and Miami. Subscribers pay fares based on historical data and won’t change based on demand or other circumstance, such as the costly “surge pricing” during peak hours. Lyft launched its All-Access Plan last month. The service costs $299 per month and gives users 30 rides worth up to $15 each. If a ride costs more than $15, the user pays the difference. their subscription services in recent years — with BMW, Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Volvo, tapping into the car financing model where customers who might have been reluctant to come over to the brand are trying it out; with the hope they’ll be loyal brand buyers and tap into their dealer networks for service and maintenance, shared ride services, etc.

Ride-hailing firms going public:  Uber and Lyft, the top rivals for the U.S. ride-hailing market, are engaged in another race to see who can launch a successful stock market public offering first. While disastrous upheaval not long ago, CEO Uber Dara Khosrowshahi, who took over a little more than a year ago, appears to be reviving the ride-hailing giant. Uber may be getting a 2019 offering at a $120 billion valuation, far above recent private market levels.  could find a public valuation of over $15 billion, which is much closer to IPOs than what some analysts expect Uber to find next year in initial market value.

Musk going to Mars:  While 2018 is turning out the worst of times for Tesla CEO Elon Musk, things are looking brighter on the space transport side of the business — with his grand vision of taking passengers to Mars. His SpaceX company’s  a factory being built in the Port of Los Angeles, 15 miles south of the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne. SpaceX is getting a lot of support for its Mars mission from NASA, along with contracts for cargo delivery. Another federal agency, the Securities and Exchange Commission, has taken a dim view of Musk, but that’s getting worked out with a federal judge approving Musk’s settlement with the SEC. Musk’s mission to Mars goes back before he came over to Tesla. In 2002, he founded the space travel and exploration company through his frustration that NASA wasn’t doing enough to get humans to Mars. It’s typical to see him featured in interviews wearing his “Occupy Mars” t-shirt to get the message across.

Highlights from AltCar Expo:  speakers talked about the key issues that government regulators, fleet managers, automakers, and technology partners are facing deploying clean vehicles and supporting clean fuels and energy in California. The popular ride-and-drive was a showcase for green vehicles of all types, including the debut of Electra Meccanica’s Solo single-passenger electric vehicle. The Audi etron 55 quattro was displayed and discussed in a panel by Audi of America’s Spencer Reeder; and attendees had a preview of the new Chanje V8100 Generation 2 Model of the electric van by the Chinese manufacturer.

Terry Tamminen, who now serves as CEO at the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, talked about the lack of clear understanding in the federal government over climate change and its devastating impact from Hurricane Michael and other signs of dire conditions. Former head of California’s Environmental Protection Agency and later Cabinet Secretary under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tammimen served as architect of key legislative changes including the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, the Hydrogen Highway Network, and the Million Solar Roofs Initiative. He sees California playing a critical role in the future of government policy and supporting growth in clean transportation. The state’s mandate to have 100% renewable energy by 2045, and tapping into more renewables to power the state’s energy grid, are signs of the state’s commitment to fight climate change. The cost of electricity dropping from $4 a watt when Schwarzenegger took office to under $1 a watt now is a sign the economic dynamics are coming together, as well, he said.

Santa Monica city council member, and Innogy e-Mobility US strategy and market development head, Terry O’Day, had a conversation with annual AltCar award winner Phillip Kobernick, Logistics Service Manager for County of Alameda, about the latest in Bay Area developments for clean vehicles and infrastructure. The county’s fleet now has 300 hybrid vehicles and 80 all-electric vehicles in its 1,300-vehicle fleet. Hybrid police patrol cars, motorpools, and car-sharing programs are supporting these efforts, he said. The County of Alameda and other government fleets in the region are tapping into incentives for chargers being purchased and installed, with the county reaching about 1,400 charger locations, he said. Kobernick offered three suggestions for meeting sustainability targets: gaining better data from EV usage patterns, similar to what’s available now on gasoline-engine vehicles; more charging options based on fleet vehicle duty cycles — such as when Level 1 charging can work and nighttime charging; and becoming smart users in the electricity grid — how to work with utilities on avoiding being penalized with extra fees during peak demand periods. He’s also interested in exploring whether battery swapping might work in EVs, such as police patrol cars that don’t have downtime to wait for charging.

Stay tuned for an upcoming video link in Green Auto Market that will show the Friday speakers. That will also include “Is California Past the Turning Point?” moderated by Marco Anderson, Southern California Association of Governments and featuring Clinton Bench of UCLA Transportation, Kobernick, and Ken Reichley of Southern California Edison. “Are Auto Makers Truly Committed to Low- and No-Emissions Technology?” was moderated by Sue Carpenter of KPCC “Take Two” and featured Anthony Luzi of Electra Meccanica and Spencer Reeder of Audi of America. Reeder also discussed where Volkswagen’s Electrify America program will be going in the next couple of years.

Tesla settling SEC fraud suit:  Tesla Inc. may see the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s securities fraud lawsuit settled to the federal judge overseeing the case. The settlement means that CEO Elon Musk will be stepping down as chairman for three years, and that two new independent directors will be appointed to the board. Musk will be paying $20 million, and Tesla will pay another $20 million, in fines distributed to harmed investors. Musk’s insulting tweet last week on Thursday, mentioning that the SEC is changing its name to “Shortseller Enrichment Commission.”

While outgoing Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. CEO James Murdoch has been said to likely be appointed the next chairman, “This is incorrect.” That comment was directed at a Financial Times report that the son of Fox mogul Rupert Murdoch would be taking one of Musk’s titles. Murdoch joined Tesla’s board last year after years of work with media companies.

EDTA reports spike in plug-in sales:  The number of plug-in vehicles sold from January through September 2018 is in the U.S., according to the Electric Drive Transportation Association’s sales dashboard. EDTA reported that there has been 229,874 total plug-in vehicles sales in 2018, with battery electric vehicles (BEVs) at 144,505 and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) at 85,369 through the end of September. Sales between the two segments were close during the first half of this year, with BEVs taking a leap in the third quarter. During September, BEVs made up 34,046 of the U.S. total and PHEVs made up 10,543 units. EDTA also reported a new look for the dashboard and updates to its research methods.

BYD wins major electric bus deal:  BYD will be , WESTCOAST Sightseeing, to become a 100% clean-energy fleet by 2023. That deal will consist of 90 electric buses of various types, with the Chinese maker being named the exclusive supplier to WESTCOAST. BYD’s North America manufacturing unit, based in Lancaster, Calif., has taken orders for over 600 electric buses. The company has invested more than $250 million and has delivered 270 of the electric buses so far. BYD is also building electric commercial trucks to serve fleets outside the bus sector.

 

New study explores how mobility is transforming fleets:  A for fleet professionals and other interested parties facing an historic change — transitioning from fleet managers to mobility managers.

The Mobility Revolution: A Primer for Fleet Managers, explores four trends that are shaping the near-term future of vehicles and transportation — connected, electric, shared, and autonomous vehicles. Written by Lukas Neckermann, a former auto executive and consultant on mobility services, and Green Auto Market editor Jon LeSage, the study explores the issues poised to transform transportation in the next decade. It was sponsored by NAFA Foundation as a tool for fleet professionals to prepare for the near future.

“As the fleet industry makes a rapid transformation into the ‘mobility’ industry, the NAFA Foundation, in cooperation with NAFA Fleet Management Association, is providing fleet professionals with the building blocks to transform their units, teams, and personal careers to a mobility orientation,” said Phillip E. Russo, CEO of the NAFA Foundation and NAFA Fleet Management Association.

Fleet managers and operators of all types — corporate, government, emergency response, trucking, and urban delivery — are beginning a transition over to mobility managers. That means building in systems that allow them to observe fleet vehicles and make rapid decisions to increase efficiency — such as avoiding bottlenecks from traffic and vehicle collisions. The pressure is on for fleet managers and operators to reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions, make their fleets safer, and to try out connected, automated systems for these goals and cost containment. The paper delves into ways that fleets are already testing and exploring these changing technologies and methods.

Fleets are playing a key role in the testing and development of technology in trial test programs. Some of it is starting to be deployed, such as Voyage, a firm that is rolling out electric, autonomous shuttle vans in senior citizen communities in the U.S. Amazon and UPS are featured in case studies for their participation in advanced mobility projects.

First responder fleets — fire, police, and emergency medical responders (EMR) — have been a platform for testing connected, automated systems including fleet vehicle tracking earlier than other fleet segments. In recent years, that’s played out in emergency services delivered after hurricanes Katrina, Sandy, and Mathew devastated local communities through flooding, highway and bridge destruction, collapsed buildings, and disrupted utility services including power transmission. Energy storage in electric vehicle battery packs can be used during power outages is one of several examples featured in the white paper.

The study also explores how automakers, Silicon Valley giants, and partners such as autonomous technology and vehicle charging suppliers, are taking all four of the trends very seriously. Companies such as General Motors, Alphabet’s Waymo, Tesla, and Apple, are becoming the source of both cooperative test projects and competitive forces as each strives to be a leader in the emerging field. This point is being reinforced by Honda’s announcement this week that it will be investing $2.75 billion into GM’s Cruise autonomous vehicle unit; Renault-Nissan and Daimler possibly extending their alliance in autonomous vehicles, battery tech, and mobility services; and Toyota and Japanese tech giant SoftBank deciding to jointly fund a new mobility company that combines autonomous driving and mobility services.

The free white paper .

GAM editor MC’ing Friday at AltCar:  The 13th annual AltCar Expo & Conference will be taking place Oct. 12-13 in Santa Monica, Calif. Jon LeSage, editor of Green Auto Market, will serve as Master of Ceremonies on Friday, Oct. 12. This year’s on that day will focus on California’s trailblazing commitment to alternative technology transportation, infrastructure and energy. Terry Tamminem, CEO, Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, will make opening remarks. Phillip Kobernick, Interim Logistics Services Manager for the County of Alameda, will be in discussion with Terry O’Day, Executive Vice President,  Innogy e-Mobility and Santa Monica City Council Member. “Is California Past the Turning Point?” Will be moderated by Marco Anderson, Southern California Association of Governments and will feature Clinton Bench of UCLA Transportation, Kobernick, and Ken Reichley of Southern California Edison “Are Auto Makers Truly Committed to Low- and No-Emissions Technology?” will be moderated by Sue Carpenter, KPCC “Take Two” and will feature Anthony Luzi of Electra Meccanica and Spencer Reeder of Audi of America. You can visit the AltCar Expo and Ride & Drive, which provides consumers with access to the most extensive array of battery electric, fuel-cell electric, plug-in hybrid, and hybrid electric vehicles available. Debuting at this year’s event is Electrica Meccanica’s new all-electric, single-passenger vehicle, SOLO.

Musk stepping down as chairman:  Tesla CEO Elon Musk had to back down from a threat to resign if a settlement was reached with the Securities and Exchange Commission. , board members insisted that the settlement be reached. Musk later gave his “grudging approval” through his attorneys to pay $20 million and step down as chairman but remain as CEO, according to The New York Times. The newspaper also reported the board proposed that James Murdoch become the new chairman. Murdoch is a Tesla board member and CEO of the Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. media company; but the board had not made a decision on filling that position yet. CNBC reported that Musk has 45 days to resign as chairman through the SEC settlement and the pay the $20 million fine over an agreement to settle a fraud lawsuit filed by the SEC on Thursday stemming from Musk’s Twitter posts announcing potential removal of Tesla, Inc., from the stock market. The electric carmaker has also agreed to appoint two new independent directors to its board and establish a new committee of independent directors and put in place additional controls and procedures to oversee Musk’s communications, according to the SEC. The Tesla CEO will continue to have his voice heard on the matter. Business Insider studied and found that Musk won’t be barred form voting his shares in favor or against nominees to Tesla’s board.

Cycle 2 of VW diesel vehicle settlement:  Electrify America for Volkswagen’s zero emission vehicle settlement with California and the EPA. Cycle 2 begins in July 2019, and will offer its next $200 million investment in California’s charging infrastructure over a 30-month period. DC fast charging stations will be the central focus in nine metro areas within the state: Riverside-San Bernardino; Santa Cruz-Watsonville; Santa Rosa; Fresno; Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim; Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade; San Diego-Carlsbad; San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward; and San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara. The charging stations will be placed in retail locations, but Electrify America will also consider the needs of adjacent multi-unit dwellings where Level 2 residential charging deployment can be challenging. Electrify America also will invest in DC fast charging stations specifically targeting shared mobility drivers — car share, taxis, and transportation networking company (TNC) drivers.

Cities leading the charge:  Cities, utilities, and technology suppliers are making serious commitments to expanding the electric vehicle charging infrastructure, according to speakers . The Climate Group and C40 Cities groups announced that 26 cities, states, regions and businesses took on commitments. Those include 12 states and regions joining The Climate Group’s zero-emission vehicle challenge, such as California and Washington state, Quebec, Scotland, and Australia’s Capital Territory; and 12 cities joining C40’s fossil fuel-free streets declaration, including Seoul, Tokyo, Honolulu, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood, Calif.  Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that 19 cities and two counties in the U.S. have formally launched the Climate Mayors Electric Vehicle Purchasing Collaborative. EVBox, which now has about 60,000 charging stations installed globally, expects to have 1 million EV chargers installed by 2025. ChargePoint announced a target of 2.5 million public chargers by 2025, mostly in North America and Europe. That will shoot up from about 53,000 public charging sites the company currently operates.

Bright spot for the Model 3:  Tesla, Inc., had a bright sport in its continuing struggle to mass produce the Model 3 and to restore its brand image. The in all crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The rear-wheel-drive version of the Tesla Model 3 earned an all-around five-star safety rating from NHTSA, the highest possible issued by the agency from frontal, side, and rollover crashes. As for the continuing challenges faced by Tesla and CEO Elon Musk, the company . Liam O’Connor, vice president of global supply management, has resigned said people familiar with the matter. O’Connor had come over from Apple Inc. in 2015, and is at least the fifth senior Tesla executive to leave the company in recent weeks. Another blow took place this week with the into the electric carmaker, stemming from Musk’s announcement last month that he would be taking the company private and that he secured the needed funding to do so. The probe appears be at an early phase, but it follows a reported Securities and Exchange Commission investigation and shareholder lawsuits over the same issue; and a libel lawsuit filed against Musk by a man he accused of being a pedophile. A Tesla spokesperson said the Justice department did send Tesla a voluntary request for documents and that the automaker has been cooperating.

Volvo supports efforts to reduce plastic:  Volvo Cars this week joined the G7 Ocean Plastics Partnership during the G7 Summit in Halifax, Canada. The company also presented its own sustainability program in detail, including its Plastics Vision that aims to substantially increase the amount of recycled material used in new Volvo cars and to support efforts to reduce plastics pollution. “Volvo Cars is the only car maker to be invited to the G7 summit, underlining the company’s position as an industry leader in sustainability,” the company said in a statement.

Lucid Motors gets $1B:  Luxury electric vehicle startup from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, an entity once rumored to be Musk’s potential partner in taking Tesla private. Lucid Motors will use the investment to finance the 2020 launch of its first EV, the Lucid Air. Tesla CEO Elon Musk had previously touted conversations with the Saudi fund as key in considerations to take Tesla private, which won’t be happening for Tesla.

IKEA delivering in EVs:  IKEA says of Amsterdam, Los Angeles, New York, Paris and Shanghai will be made by electric vehicles or through other zero-emission solutions. That will take place by 2020 and will also support adding charging stations to its retail stores. Last year, the company joined EV100, an initiative launched by the Climate Group, that aims to meet the five-city EV goal by 2020, make all home deliveries in ZEVs by 2025, setting up chargers at IKEA locations by 2020, and cut in half emissions from IKEA employees and customers by 2030.

Daimler investing in Proterra:  Daimler Trucks is investing in the fast-growing electric bus market through in electric busker Proterra. Tao Capital Partners, a San Francisco investment firm, is the other lead investor. Proterra and Daimler will also explore electrifying select Daimler heavy-duty vehicles. One of the first ventures will be to bring Proterra’s battery and drivetrain technologies to the North American school bus market through Daimler’s Thomas Built Buses division. “We aren’t just the leading supplier of conventional truck and buses; when it comes to electrification we also want to be the leader,” said Martin Daum, global head of Daimler Trucks and Buses, at the IAA Commercial Vehicles show in Hanover, Germany, on Wednesday.

Nio IPO:  Chinese electric car startup , raising $1 billion in its IPO this week and market valuation at $6.42 billion; but that’s well below the $20 billion company executives had been initially hoping for. Shanghai-based Nio is targeting the premium electric-SUV segment, calling itself Tesla-competitive in its home market of China. Nio launched its first electric SUV in December, the seven-seat Nio ES8, which is priced at about half the cost of a Tesla Model X sport utility in China. Formerly known as NextEV, Nio says it will be bringing an autonomous EV to the U.S. by 2020. The ES6, an electric five-passenger SUV, is in development. Nio backers include Chinese internet giants Baidu and Tencent, as well as Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi. Tencent also owns a small stake in Tesla stock.

Tesla Inc. has been losing executives this year, with turbulence coming from the company transitioning into a mass market automaker with production of the Model 3. CEO Elon Musk’s erratic behavior has also taken its toll. Justin McAnear, vice president of worldwide finance and operation, said in a statement Wednesday that he is leaving to take the role of chief financial officer at another company. Tesla’s chief accounting officer, Dave Morton, announced his exit last week. The work pace at Tesla and the level of public attention of the company were cited as reasons for his departure. One executive, Jerome Guillen, may be able to keep pace with Musk’s intense demands. Guillen has been named president of automotive operations, and is known for being a skilled multitasker who’s been able to operate within the Tesla culture.

While President Trump’s high import tariffs have taken their toll on several industry sectors, . Data reported on the the second quarter of 2018 showed signs of a market turnaround. Utility solar project procurement soared in Q2 2018 as component prices declined and home solar installations steadied after a 15% contraction last year, according to the latest U.S. Solar Market Insight Report from Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables (previously known as GTM Research) and the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Volkswagen Group warned that it will be spending a lot more . While the German automaker had originally estimated that 20 billion euros ($23 billion) would be going into it, CEO Herbert Diess says this will not suffice, without providing a new cost figure. The automaker needs to reduce expenses more to be able to invest in future technology and weather turbulent periods, he said. The target is huge — VW Group plans to launch 80 new EVs across its brands including Audi, Porsche, Skoda and Seat by 2025 and offer an electrified version of each of its 300 group models by 2030. “The burden for our company, such as the cost of bringing to market electric cars, will be higher than expected,” Diess said in a joint interview with labor head Bernd Osterloh in VW’s internal newsletter. “This is particularly so since some of our competitors have been making more progress.”

The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) on Wednesday released its white paper analyzing the fuel efficiency of the 20 leading airlines on routes between the U.S. to Europe in 2017. Following rigorous scientific assessments, Norwegian once again rose to the top as the most fuel-efficient airline on transatlantic routes for a second time, also receiving this honor in 2015 when the ICCT released its first study.
Findings showed Norwegian, on average, achieved 44 passenger kilometers per liter, which is 33% higher than the industry average. Norwegian, flies one of the youngest fleets in the world, comprised of Boeing 787 Dreamliners, 737-800s and 737-MAXes.

Amazon continues to invest in the grocery delivery business, to 10 additional U.S. cities. The full list of 38 cities now includes Charlotte, Las Vegas, Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, Raleigh, Seattle, and Tucson. Coverage will also be expanding in New York, Los Angles and Dallas/Ft. Worth. Amazon acquired Whole Foods, known for its organic and locally-grown produce, last year for $13.7 billion.

ACT Research Co. forecasts commercial electric vehicles will make up a “significant share” of the in 2030 to 2035. Growth will be coming from U.S. truck makers, new startups, and engine manufacturer Cummins Inc. Interest is coming from fleet operators who need to reduce tailpipe emissions and reliance on diesel fuel. “They want to take it into production but it all depends on how that market votes,” ACT Research Co. Vice President Steve Tam said.

 

Premier EVs rolling out:  German automakers are now made two years ago at the Paris Motor Show to become Tesla-competitive and produce production-level premier electric vehicles. Mercedes-Benz unveiled the Mercedes EQC all-electric SUV on Tuesday, and it will be Daimler’s first production model under the company’s electric EQ sub-brand. BMW next week will be flying the autonomous iNEXT electric crossover in a Boeing 777 Freighter to press events in Munich, New York, San Francisco, and Beijing. On Monday, Volkswagen’s Audi began mass production of the Audi e-tron, the brand’s first all-electric SUV with longer range. Audi will unveil the battery electric SUV at a world premiere in San Francisco on Sept. 17. It’s a good time to roll out these high-performance, premier EVs as Tesla and its leader, Elon Musk, face a series of challenges. Production problems for the high-volume Model 3 continue, as do controversial moments with Musk — made more so last night during a podcast (see below). Editor’s note: for more articles on EVs and energy trends.

Musk enjoys podcast:  Tesla CEO , lit up a flamethrower, and showed off a Samurai sword during a Thursday night interview with podcast host Joe Rogan. It’s been a tumultuous month for Musk, attempting to take the electric carmaker private and releasing a series of controversial tweets that sent Tesla stock prices on a roller coaster. He appeared to be more at ease during the casual interview wearing his Occupy Mars t-shirt and commenting on the future of artificial intelligence. As for interesting comments: manufacturing electric cars is “very difficult,” getting governments to regulate artificial intelligence isn’t going anywhere, and his underground tunnel in Los Angeles isn’t going forward, “Mostly because of paperwork.” While marijuana is legal in California, where the interview took place, Musk’s phone started getting hit with messages. “I’m getting text messages from friends saying, ‘What the hell are you doing smoking weed?'” he said. Musk explained that he’s “not a regular smoker of weed” because he “doesn’t find it’s very good for productivity. It’s like a cup of coffee in reverse,” he said. Using marijuana, along with taking Ambien to deal with his sleeping problem, has been of concern among Tesla shareholders and board members since a New York Times interview last month. As for flying cars, Musk doesn’t see the point of investing in it as a practical mode of transportation. “If you get one of those toy drones and imagine it’s 1,000 times heavier — that’s not going to make your neighbors happy,” Musk said. “If you want a flying car, just put wheels on a helicopter.”

Bolt going global:  The Chevrolet Bolt is . Pam Fletcher, vice president of the automaker’s global electric vehicle programs, told an audience at Citi’s 2018 Global Technology Conference that the Bolt EV electric car will ship out to new markets around the globe due to unforeseen demand. “We see demand increasing in markets we’re already in and we’ve seen new markets around the globe that we didn’t originally plan to have the Bolt in asking for it,” she said. “And so, we’ll be announcing some of these additional markets, here, in the not-so-distant future.”

California bill supporting clean trucks:  Sixty companies are urging California Governor Brown to sign a bill that will encourage to operate on California highways and roads. Assembly Bill 2061 (D-Frazier) will speed the improvement of air quality in disadvantaged communities that are often heavily impacted by polluting diesel trucks weight limit by a small percentage. Current law restricts the gross vehicle weight of trucks to 80,000 pounds. Because the energy storage and fuel delivery systems for zero emission (ZE) and near-zero (NZE) vehicles are presently heavier than diesel tanks, the restriction means that fleet operators who use cleaner technologies must carry smaller payloads, which creates a significant disincentive. AB 2061 would increase the weight limit for ZE and NZE trucks to 82,000 pounds and thereby improve the business case for cleaner trucks. The bill is co-sponsored by CALSTART, the California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition, and San Diego County Disposal Association.

National Drive Electric Week:  National Drive Electric Week at nationwide EV ride and drives. Running Sept. 8-16, the nationwide celebration is geared toward heightening awareness of the widespread availability of plug-in vehicles and the benefits of all-electric and plug-in hybrid-electric cars, trucks, motorcycles, and more. They are fun to drive, are less expensive and more convenient to fuel than gasoline vehicles, are better for the environment, promote local jobs, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil, according the event organizers. Those interested in buying or leasing an EV can go to one of the events and talk to owners who have successfully done so.

DOE grants:  The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the to support advanced vehicle technologies that can enable more affordable mobility, strengthen domestic energy security, reduce U.S. dependence on foreign sources of critical materials, and enhance the country’s economic growth. Batteries and electrification projects won $31.9 million in funding. These research projects will develop technologies to recharge multiple electric vehicles quickly and at very high “extreme” power levels; software, controls, and hardware to provide physical and cybersecurity protection of electric vehicles and electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The projects will also work to develop cathode materials for next generation electric vehicle batteries that eliminate or significantly reduce the use of cobalt, an expensive and foreign-sourced critical material.

Fuel economy and emissions rule:  California clean air regulators met with Trump administration officials on Wednesday over clean vehicle emissions and mileage standards. The Trump administration had set off protests and lawsuit filings with its Safer and Affordable Fuel Efficient Vehicles rule that would freeze the mpg and emissions rules at 2020 levels through 2026. It would also take away California’s power to set state emissions rules — which is being followed by a dozen other states and the District of Columbia. Officials said they agreed to hold future meetings to work out the national fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards. California Air Resources Board chair Mary Nichols last month told Reuters that she sees a “window” to making a deal this fall.

NIO going public:  Chinese electric-vehicle maker and launched a U.S. stock sale that could raise up to $1.32 billion and bring its market valuation up to about $8.5 billion. That would happen before the startup has generated any substantial revenue. The Shanghai-based company is planning to list on New York Stock Exchange in about two weeks.

Lyft also going public:  Lyft has started the process for an initial public offering , sources said. The ride-hailing firm has hired IPO adviser Class V Group LLC to guide Lyft management, said people familiar with the discussions who asked not to be identified. Banks will be pitched as financial backers as soon as September with the listing targeted for March or April. In another story, Toyota Motor Corp. announced a $500 million investment in Uber to jointly develop autonomous vehicle technology. The ride-hailing giant will integrate Toyota’s Guardian autonomous technology into Toyota Siennas for use in Uber’s ride-hailing network.

AltCar Expo coming in October:  The 13th annual will be held Oct. 12-13, 2018, at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. This year’s conference will focus on California’s trailblazing commitment to alternative technology transportation, infrastructure and energy. “AltCar has become the most nationally respected event for industry, municipalities and general public that showcases the latest products, news and information for alternative technology vehicles and infrastructure,”says California State Senator Fran Pavley.

On Friday, Terry Tamminem, CEO, Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, will make opening remarks. Panel topics include legislative issues, “Current and Ongoing OEM Commitments to Alternative Technology Vehicles,” and “Alternative Technology Transportation – ‘No Turning Back.’” Friday will feature the Industry & Fleet Conference, and the Expo and Ride & Drive is open to industry and the public. Those attending the Friday speaker panels .