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From: Eric10/5/2017 1:19:15 PM
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Costco members now get GM Supplier Pricing on Chevy Bolt EV, Volt

Sean Szymkowski


Oct 5, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Costco members in the market for a new vehicle now have a new round of incentives to consider as they head into the final car-buying months of 2017.

Specifically, shoppers interested in a General Motors vehicle will discover Supplier Pricing on nearly every car—including the Chevrolet Bolt EV electric car and Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid.

Even better news: buyers can combine that Supplier Pricing from Costco with nearly all other incentives available on a particular vehicle, including leasing and financing rebates.

DON'T MISS: 2017 Chevy Bolt EV price: electric car starts at $37,495 before incentives (as promised)

It's an understandable incentive as well: Costco members pay the factory invoice, plus a small program fee, and the no-haggle price is fixed.

Buyers are still able to negotiate a lower price if they feel compelled, but many historically see the no-haggle price as a major benefit.

Cars Direct reports the supplier pricing even extends to newly launched GM vehicles, such as the Chevrolet Equinox Diesel crossover utility vehicle.

2018 Chevrolet Volt

There are few exclusions; the only cars not eligible for Supplier Pricing include various base models that most dealers rarely stock.

(Think of L-trimmed Chevrolet vehicles, which exist mostly for advertising purposes.)

If an interested car shopper isn't currently a Costco member, the money saved through the incentive likely outweighs the membership fee to join the buyer's warehouse club.

READ THIS: Driving a Chevy Bolt EV electric car halfway across the U.S.: what it takes

Becoming a Costco member costs $60 annually for Gold status and $120 for Executive status.

Executive members receive a 2-percent rebate on purchases, though it's capped at $1,000 annually so buying a car doesn't help boost that figure.

To sweeten the deal, Costco will include a $300 Costco Cash Card for Gold members, and Executive members who purchase a GM vehicle through the program will receive a $700 cash card.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV - 2016 Consumer Electronics Show

California and other CARB-compliant states will likely see the best deals on the Bolt EV under the Costco program; lease rates and finance offers in these states continue to exceed national offers.

The Bolt EV has seen steadily rising sales figures, despite launching nationwide just several weeks ago.

September sales of the Bolt EV tallied 2,632 vehicles, which brings the running sales total to 14,302 units over nine months.

CHECK OUT: Plug-in electric car sales for Sep: Bolt EV hits new monthly high (updated)

Chevrolet's affordable electric car starts at $37,495 before federal tax credits up to $7,500 are applied.

Costco and GM's Supplier Pricing will run one day past 2018; the offers expire on January 2, 2018.

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From: Eric10/5/2017 1:24:38 PM
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New Flyer invests $25 million in Alabama plant, adds innovation center for ZEVs

Posted October 3, 2017 by Charles Morris & filed under Newswire, The Vehicles.

Transit bus and motor coach manufacturer New Flyer plans to invest $25 million in building renovations and expansions at its Anniston, Alabama production campus. Part of the investment will go towards an innovation center for zero-emission bus production.

The company’s Xcelsior buses are offered with a range of drive systems, including diesel, natural gas, diesel-electric hybrid, trolley-electric, and battery-electric. Of the 44,000 New Flyer transit buses currently in service, 6,400 are powered by electric and/or battery propulsion.

“We are extremely fortunate to have both local and state cooperation and support for this project,” said Wayne Joseph, President of New Flyer of America. “This investment in process efficiency, operational capacity, and technological development further elevates Anniston as a leading manufacturing site for zero-emission vehicles, and invests in jobs and infrastructure in Alabama.”

“This investment not only enhances our technical capabilities, but also provides advanced air quality measures to provide the safest possible work environment for our team members,” added Kevin Wood, Senior Vice President of Manufacturing.

Source: New Flyer

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From: Eric10/6/2017 7:10:40 AM
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Honda Will Shutter A Japanese Factory To Shift Manufacturing Towards EVs

15 hours ago by Mark Kane


Honda Urban EV Concept

Honda, needing to address a serious problem of domestic production overcapacity in Japan, has decided to close one of its plants – the 1964 Sayama Automobile Plant. The facility will close its doors by March 31, 2022.

Honda Urban EV Concept

Today’s production will be consolidated into the nearby Yorii Automobile Plant, which is much more efficient, and not surprisingly a much newer facility (opened in 2013).

Both sites have the capacity to build 250,000 vehicles each, while overall, Honda’s capacity in Japan stands at 1.06 milion cars, but lowering that to ~800,000 would increase utilization from today’s low 76%.

At the same time, the Yorii plant will become Honda’s global center for electrified vehicle.s The production processes will be then applied in other plants globally. States Automotive News:
“Yorii will be positioned as a global center for electrified vehicle production. It will serve as a template for overseas manufacturing as Honda launches more hybrids and EVs overseas.

A longtime EV skeptic, Honda announced in June that it had established an Electric Vehicle Development Division to create EVs based on dedicated all-electric platforms. That is a departure from Honda’s current stance.”
Honda called the move an “evolution”.

At the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show, Honda will present several new concept electric cars, including the new Sports EV Concept…although at this point we’d much rather see “production-intent” offerings on the show stand:

Honda Sports EV Concept

Press blast:

Honda to Evolve its Automobile Production System and Capability in Japan Honda Motor Co., Ltd. today announced that the company will evolve its automobile production system and capability to further enhance Mono-zukuri (the art of making things/manufacturing) in Japan. In more concrete terms, Honda will pursue two key initiatives: to evolve production operations in Japan and to newly establish a function to evolve production technologies in Japan to be shared globally.

Due to the rapid advance of new technologies such as electrification and intelligence technologies, the automobile industry is undergoing an unprecedented and significant turning point in its history. Anticipating major changes in automobile production, Honda will largely evolve its production operations in addition to product development operations.

Since its foundation, Honda has been establishing the technologies and know-how of Mono-zukuri in Japan and then evolving them rapidly to operations outside Japan, where each region applies its own originality and ingenuity at the spot. This is how Honda has achieved growth on a global basis. However, from here forward, automobile manufacturers must be able to accommodate new technologies speedily, and therefore it became essential for Honda to further evolve its production function in Japan and establish a structure where Japan operations will lead the other Honda operations on a global basis.

Based on this understanding of the situation, Honda will pursue the following initiatives.

1. Evolving production operations in Japan

While leveraging the respective strengths of automobile production plants in Japan, Honda will establish a production system and capability which will enhance Honda’s competitiveness.

1) Saitama Factory:

In order to accommodate the production of vehicles equipped with new technologies such as electrified vehicles, the automobile production of the Sayama Automobile Plant and Yorii Automobile Plant will be consolidated to the Yorii Automobile Plant, which employs the latest production technologies. This consolidation is expected to be completed by around fiscal year 2022 (fiscal year ending March 31, 2022).

Production know-how involving new technologies will be amassed at the Yorii Automobile Plant and evolved from Japan, Honda’s Mono-zukuri leader, to Honda operations outside of Japan, which will establish a structure where Japan operations will lead other Honda operations on a global basis.

Associates who are currently working at Sayama Automobile Plant will be transferred mainly to the Yorii Automobile Plant and fully utilize the production know-how they have amassed in their career.

2) Suzuka Factory:

Suzuka Factory will continue to establish technologies and know-how for producing highly-competitive mini-vehicles and also continue to play a role to evolve such production technologies and know-how horizontally to other Honda operations on a global basis.

3) Yokkaichi Factory of Yachiyo Industry Co., Ltd. (Yachiyo)

Striving to further increase the efficiency of producing low-volume-production models, which Honda is currently entrusting to Yachiyo, Honda and Yachiyo today signed a basic agreement to begin discussion toward making Yachiyo’s automobile assembly business a wholly-owned subsidiary of Honda.

While leveraging the technologies and human resources amassed at Yachiyo, Honda will further increase efficiency by optimizing its low-volume production system and capability.

The two companies will continue to discuss more details, such as the scope of Yachiyo business Honda will take over, and strive to reach a final agreement.

2. Newly establishing a function to evolve global production technologies in Japan

Within the Yorii Automobile Plant, Honda will newly establish a function to create, standardize and globally share new production technologies to accommodate new automotive technologies such as electrification technologies. Honda associates from production operations in each region will come together in Japan to jointly plan new production technologies and processes based on know-how amassed in Japan. Then, such production technologies and processes will be verified on the demonstration line built for this function, matured and then become standardized. Standardized production technologies and processes will be evolved horizontally to other Honda operations on a global basis so that Honda can launch high-quality new products to the market speedily.

Moreover, through this function, Honda will further develop and foster global human resources.

Through these initiatives, Honda will further strengthen and significantly evolve its automobile production system and capability in Japan to reinforce its automobile business structure.

source: Automotive News

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From: Eric10/6/2017 7:35:52 AM
   of 5879
EVs and storage: Lithium’s wild ride and why it will be bigger than LNG

By David Leitch on 6 October 2017

Wild thing, I think you move me” The Troggs cover 1966

Always be gneiss and you’ll ever be taken for granite” – 1960s high school geology joke (thanks Mr Gilchrist it’s the only thing I ever remembered from Geology)

It’s a boomer out the back – $1.5 billion to $9 billion lithium market in a decade

A bit over a year ago we had a first look at the lithium market. Since then what already looked exciting has become ever more so.

Three factors are driving the surge in optimism:
  1. The total cost of ownership [TCO] of, say, a Chevy Bolt, especially in Europe is already within 5% of the cost of a VW TSI Golf.
  2. Various government policy announcements have been very, very bullish.
  3. In the real world we can observe 38% growth for the first six months of the year and there are signs of acceleration. On the basis of these factors we say…
The lithium market is expected to grow from about US$1.5 billion in 2016 to maybe US$9 billion by 2025.

The current growth rate of the EV segment is 40% per year. Despite the seemingly endless new supply options, the reality so far has been that commissioning new lithium facilities has lagged well behind budget. In fact, we see by far the main challenge for the sector is keeping up with demand.

As a result lithium carbonate battery grade (the main product) prices could stay higher for longer (always a risky conclusion), and it is currently over US$10,00 per tonne. Canaccord Genuity forecasts prices averaging over US$10,00 a tonne out to 2025. Lithium represents only a small part of a battery cost.

At the growth rates we discuss in this note that will require perhaps US$10-US$12 bn of investment just for the lithium extraction capacity. That estimate is based on Roskill US$12,500/t LCE capex and a Lithium Carbonate market perhaps as much as 1 mtpa by 2026.

Those same numbers suggest that about 750 GWh of battery making capacity is required. That’s about 20 of the Tesla 35 GWh super factories and that first one was $5 billion, so you can expect up to US$80 -US$100 billion of investment in battery factories.

Those numbers are comparable with investment in total Australasian LNG manufacturing capacity. A key but unpublished number in the below table is the KWh of storage per EV.

We see this going to an average of 50 KWh by 2025. That could easily be too high and perhaps 35-40 KWh as an average would be better. Our thinking is that range anxiety is the second highest concern after car price and that as battery cost comes down manufacturers will address concerns via bigger batteries.

Figure 1: Lithium Carbonate supply & demand. Source: ITK adapted from Deutsche

EV & PHEV sales to total over 5 million by 2021 – It’s happening

In our view are one of the few organisations keeping global data on EV vehicle sales, by region and by model, and also keeping associated battery chemistry sales records.

We choose to adopt their forecasts, even though they are at the upper end, because we think they are closer to the data. estimate is for about 5X growth in total EV passenger car sales between 2017 and 2021. This would imply a slight acceleration in the annual growth rate.

We would not use higher numbers than those of but we do think there is a good case for using higher than consensus numbers as at the moment at least forecasters tend to be revising up.

UBS, for instance, is significantly lower than us in 2021 in its May estimates, due to lower numbers from China. However, since May China has firmed up policy.

Even hybrid volumes are expected to triple but the real growth is in fully electric vehicles [BEVs].

Figure 6 EV sales forecasts. Source:

The following chart gives an indication of the regional numbers making up this forecast. If we had to question the numbers, it would be in the USA where despite the Tesla Model 3 and despite the Chevy Bolt, economics are relatively unfavourable for EVs.

That in turn mainly relates to the USA not taxing petrol consumption in the way that virtually every other country in the world does.

Figure 7: Regional forecasts of EV sales. Source: EV

2017 H1 Global EV sales up 38%. Not all EVs use big batteries

Similar growth rates are seen in all three major markets despite policy differences.

Figure 5: Plug in car sales. Source:

There is some data that suggests acceleration in the monthly numbers. For instance in Europe July was up 54% and August 69%. EVvolumes expect 0.5 m sales in China for the full year.

Many of the Chinese cars are small for instance the number 2 selling car in China in August was the Zhidou D2 Ev with just a 12 KWh battery.

Figure 8 Zhidou 120 km range, 90 kph max speed (down hill). Source: cleantechnica

Total cost of ownership

[TCO] the major tipping point UBS Electric vehicle research lead by Patrick Hummel is fantastically interesting. Your author had the pleasure of taking a very minor role on some of Patrick’s reports when he covered utilities prior to taking up the car manufacturing analysis role and in my opinion his research was the most interesting to read of any UBS analyst on any sector.

In May 2017 UBS published a ground breaking piece of research, as reported by RenewEconomy, that covered a “teardown”, by a specialist company, of the Chevy Bolt.

As discussed below, the teardown revealed a battery cost lower than expected. The teardown report was supplemented by an earlier online (2016) global survey of 9400 qualified people looking at the key concerns of consumers about BEVs [battery electric vehicles]. The main concerns were:

Figure 9: Consumer concerns about BEV. Source: UBS survey, 2016

EV manufacturers are addressing both of the two main concerns, purchase price and range. Access to plug in stations is very easily solved once suppliers decide there is a market.

TCO based on 3 year lease with 50% residual

Cost can be thought about in many ways, initial purchase cost v life time cost, consumer v manufacturer perspective, environmental cost. Here we focus on Total cost of ownership. UBS compares a Chevy Bolt v VW TSI Golf.

A 3 year lease, 50% residual model is used and the best comparison is found in Europe. Even in 2017 using the UBS data (partly confirmed by my own calculations) the TCO of the Golf is very close to the Bolt.

In bearing the below in mind the note of caution is that Bolt sales in the USA have climbed to 2632 in Sep 2017 or a 31 K annual rate from about a 12K rate in January, but this is still a tiny number relative to say Model 3 expectations of say 30K a month.

Figure 10: TCO, Bolt v Golf. Source: UBS

The Bolt initial purchase cost (US$37 k) , and along with other electric vehicles, is expected to come down about $/Euro 1000 per year or about 4% until say 2025.

The key source of cost reduction is batteries. We show selected numbers from the UBS analysis. Note the relative share of the inverter cost. Total cost comes down by about 1/3 over 8 years. A good improvement, but when utility PV costs fell 30% last year, hardly out of the ordinary.

Figure 11: Selected Chevy Bolt costs and forecasts. Source: UBS

The cell reduction costs comes from a change in chemistry (using less cobalt) and a change in energy density (less materials needed) as well as general manufacturing improvements.

Household battery buyers look at the above numbers and weep

A Tesla Powerwall 2 is A$8200 before GST & installation or A$607 KWh, so let’s call it US$500 KWh. That’s more than double the per KWh cost of a car battery which, using all the components in Fig 11 ,works to US$230 KWh.

Undoubtedly the inverter for household use costs more, but we still see that household batteries can come down a long way based on the above comparison

Global policy development brings manufacturing switch acceleration

Various Government/Regulators/manufacturers have made stronger than ever statements of intent in 2017.
  • In Germany regulators have mandated all electric vehicle sales to be fully-electric by 2030 (3.4 m cars)
  • France’s ecology minister (imagine one of those in Australia) has announced an end to the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040
  • In Great Britain a similar policy has been adopted.
  • Volvo will only make electric vehicles from 2019
  • VW has targeted 1 m electric car sales by 2025
  • China has adopted legislation requiring 8% of vehicle sales to be electric increasing to 12% by 2020 (2.2 m cars). These shares are measured in NEV [New energy vehicle] permits. 1 NEV permit is equal to 4 fossil vehicle permits which means that in reality the 12% target is actually about 3.4%. That’s still a lot of EVs
These are big announcements but in stockmarkets 2040 is an eternity away and even 2020 is hopefully a lot further away than the next bonus. The discount rate is about 20% for this.

Carbon and other emissions are driving policy

Policy towards EVs is so supportive partly because oil is around 1/3 of and the second largest contributor to global CO2 emissions, and partly because EVs provide fuel security. EVs are quieter, well suited to city commuting, including the use of busses and likely play well to autonomous driving trends.

Figure 3: Global carbon emissions. Source: CDIAC, 2014 latest data

The growth in battery electric vehicles, is not just in cars. In China at least busses are converting to electric, and a bus needs about 3X-4X bigger battery pack compared to say a Tesla Model 3. Electric bikes are becoming far more prevalent, even in Australia.

All this is producing a massive spike in the demand for the lithium. As such it represents one of the few ways for Australian investors in Australian share markets to get exposure to decarbonization themes.

Australia lead by the National Party is an ostrich on vehicle policy

Australia light vehicle emission standard is 1 gC/lm based on the Euro 5 standard. A ministerial forum was convened in December 2015 to consider tighter standards.

The proposed policy had the potential to increase fuel efficiency, saving consumers up to $500 per year and potentially reducing carbon emissions in Australia by as much as 10%. Following release of the proposed policy it became clear the Federal Govt. did not have enough internal support to get the policy mandated. What a disgrace.

As a result no final paper has been released by the forum. That said, QLD has just announced the Electric Vehicle Superhighway.

We have some of the dirtiest petrol in the world, are totally dependent on imports but its doubtful if senior members of the National Party, eg Ron Boswell, would even recognize a Tesla if it ran over him in the street.

Any mention of carbon is censored more strongly by the Federal Government than a Chinese netizen talking about personal freedom would be in Beijing. Still in the same way that Canute couldn’t hold back the tide the National Party won’t be able to hold back the wave of change sweeping the world and EVs are an important part of that.

Moving on to the lithium supply bottleneck

In our view supply considerations are the biggest bottleneck to the emerging growth forces for BEVs. We think the market has strongly underestimated the amount of new supply and investment in both lithium and battery manufacturing capacity.

For years investors have worried about over supply of lithium but this is not what we see. To us it seems like manufacturing lithium has so far proved to be a relatively difficult process with projects late and over budget to an extent. As global production goes up learning rates should drive costs down and this will bear watching.

Roskill, in a quite optimistic May presentation talking about the 1 MTPA future Lithium market noted the following head and tailwinds.

Headwinds Tailwinds
End of, or reduction in, incentive schemes; vehicle prices Cost reduction in battery and EV drive components
low oil prices CO2, SOX, NOX mandates/ city national targets
Supply Chain constraints Simpler design and build large scale battery factories
Raw material availability Improved efficiency & recovery, upstream investment
Charging infrastructure Network expansion, improved range
Range Improving cell performance
Availability Greater number of models
Lower car ownership Shared services like autonomous driving more suited to Evs
Look/feel of ICE models Younger drivers more used to high-tech
Figure 4: Roskill pros & cons for elecrtric vehicles. Source: Roskill

Australia remains a “digger” and financier

Australia presently supplies about 35% of the world’s lithium, in hard rock “spodumene” form. The ore is further processed, mainly in China, to produce Lithium Carbonate. It’s presently more capital expensive, but lower overall cost, and arguably more environmentally friendly, to produce lithium carbonate from evaporating brines.

These brines can be found in South America for the most part and a number of Australian listed companies are active in the South American market including Galaxy Resources and Orecobre.

The relative LRMC advantage of the brine producers over spoduemene hard rock processors is somewhat under question due to the higher spec (99% lithium carbonate) grade required for batteries and the extra processing cost required to produce this grade at brine facilities.

The listed lithium sector in Australia has a market cap of around A$4 bn, still small but growing rapidly. We do not distinguish or comment on the merits or otherwise of any of these stocks. Investors are cautioned to do their own research.

Figure 2 Selected Lithium focused stocks. Source: Factset, prices as of Oct 5

Raw materials used in lithium batteries

We take our numbers from Argonne Labs BatpaC model. However most of the estimates for lithium production and sales are measured in lithium carbonate Li2CO3. 0.8 kg of Li2CO3 =

Figure 12: Raw materials in lithium car batteries

Lithium reserves by geography and deposit type

Lithium carbonate of battery grade (99.5%) can be produced in two ways.
  1. By evaporating brines and then purifying via solvent extraction absorption and ionic exchange followed by recrystallisation. About 75% of the global lithium reserves are in brine form with Chile the largest single source.

Figure 13: Lithium process chemistry. Source: Deutsche from Swiaowska 2015

2. Spodumene deposits are recovery via open pit mining and “beneficiated” via gravity to produce a 6% Lithium Carbonate grade. The concentrate is then typically shipped to China to a converter where it is roasted, leached and ion exchanged to produce 98% or 99% Lithium carbonate About 19% of global lithium resources are Spodumene and about 11% of global total lithium resources are in Australia.
Disclosure. The author of this note is the beneficial owner of shares in lithium miner Orecobre.

David Leitch is principal of ITK. He was formerly a Utility Analyst for leading investment banks over the past 30 years. The views expressed are his own. Please note our new section, Energy Markets, which will include analysis from Leitch on the energy markets and broader energy issues. And also note our live generation widget, and the APVI solar contribution.

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From: Eric10/6/2017 8:00:20 AM
   of 5879
Camden To Be Home To New Jersey’s 1st All-Electric Buses, Purchasing Units From Proterra

October 6th, 2017 by James Ayre

Camden, New Jersey, will soon be home to the state’s first all-electric buses thanks to the utilization of a $500,00 Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Low or No Emission Vehicle Deployment Grant (Low-No) for the purchase of several battery-electric buses from Proterra, according to the nonprofit coalition ChargEVC.

Once the purchase has been completed by NJ Transit, the all-electric Proterra buses will be operating out of Camden’s Newton Avenue Garage.

“This action by NJ Transit follows ChargEVC’s recent Roadmap release, which includes electrification for all communities so that the benefits of electrification are enjoyed equitably throughout the state,” Green Car Congress reports.

“Each Proterra bus will eliminate more than 243,000 lbs. of CO2 and help to improve air quality for the Camden community. These transit vehicles will also provide marked savings. With lower year-over-year operation and maintenance costs resulting from having thirty percent fewer parts, and lower and more stable fueling costs when compared to a standard diesel bus, NJ Transit has the potential to achieve more than $450,000 in operational savings, per vehicle, over 12 years, according to ChargEVC.”

On a related note, it’s probably worth taking a look at the recently released details of the Federal Low or No Emission Vehicle Deployment Grant program — there are a quite a number of cities other than Camden set to benefit substantially from the program.

Also take a look at further background information on Proterra’s offerings: Proterra Electric Buses Up To 8x More Efficient Than Their CNG-Powered Cousins. Or scroll through dozens of previous Proterra articles for a deeper dive.

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From: Eric10/6/2017 8:02:07 AM
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More Launch Details About Zunum Aero Electric Hybrid Planes

October 5th, 2017 by Nicolas Zart

We’ve covered the Zunum Aero previously, as well as the state of the electric flight industry here. One of the pioneers in modern electric aviation is releasing more details on the launch of its Aero aircraft today. The hybrid-to-electric aircraft is the first of an ambitious line of electric and hybrid regional platforms that promise to seat up to 12 passengers for short hops. Zunum just announced that they will be available for delivery by 2022.

Zunum Aero Electric Hybrid Regional Planes

Zunum aircraft aims to tap into a not so well represented market, that of regional flights with a range of up to 1,000 miles. This is good news since we are now more than ever shuttled back and forth through impersonal enormous airport hubs that bring us away from our final destination and force us through the dreadful connection rigmarole. The only options available today are chartered local flights, or learn how to fly and then rent one. However, regional flights from mainstream carriers are very limited, expensive to operate with the cost handed down to travelers and simply not that practical. This stalemate will eventually disappear with the renewal of smaller airports hops as it was more common a few decades ago.

Aiming squarely at the $1 trillion stock of aircraft serving regional routes, Zunum wants to slash operating costs and bring them more in line with those of regular commercial airliners. What Zunum also brings to the plate is that its Aero platform will be much quieter with the hybrid system. They are designed to compete with mid-sized aircraft, but with quietness, a greener footprint, and faster door-to-door service to secondary airports. This also means less noise, which is something regional airports will rejoice over.

The Zunum Aero Electric Hybrid Regional Planes Announcement

Zunum announced that the Aero will cost 8 cents per seat mile or $250 per hour for the aircraft. It will have a maximum cruising speed of 340 MPH with a take-off distance of 2,200 feet and a range of 700 miles. All of this will come with 80% lower emissions and noise.

Zunum Aero 12-Passenger Aircraft

According to Logan Jones, Managing Director at Boeing HorizonX, and a Zunum investor: “Zunum is reinvigorating the regional market with a solution that’s both innovative and realistic… We see them as a leader in electric aviation, building on proven technologies, with a mature technical and commercial team.”

Zunum shared more information on its hybrid-electric series powertrain as well. The battery system will allow for a seamless transition from hybrid to electric power. The electric propulsors will have variable pitch fans and will allow for a 40% reduction noise on the runway. Zunum estimates that this will translate to a 75% noise drop for local communities.

So where are the batteries? They will rest inside the wings and will be fully integrated but will enable a quick swap or recharge at airports, and this is perhaps the key advantage the Zunum Aero provides. With fresh packs in its hubs and quick recharging DC stations in secondary airports, the Aero would be favored over traditional jet engines.

Zunum goes even further by implementing a control system that will optimize power management, fault detection, and recovery in real-time flight conditions.

JetBlue Onboard the Zunum Aero

A company that stands to win the most from opening secondary airport routes is JetBlue. JetBlue and Boeing have backed Zunum since April of this year, according to fellow writer Steve’s article, Hybrid Electric Airplane Startup Zunum Aero Collects Investments From JetBlue & Boeing. And according to Bonny Simi, President of JetBlue Technology Ventures, another Zunum investor, “We believe that the regional transportation industry is ripe for disruption and we’re excited to support Zunum and its efforts to help introduce a new era of aviation.”

The economics that the Zunum aircrafts bring mean more work for 5,000 under-utilized secondary airports, as well as lightening up the load for other mid-range aircraft that would be better used on other routes. Zunum expects its Aero aircraft could deliver significantly lower door-to-door times, costs, and emissions below than what is commercially available today.

The Serious Need To Redesign Routes and Approaches

If you’ve ever watched the trajectory of any given flight, either long range or short hops, you will find they never fly a direct route. Taking off from and landing at airports means circling around the landing sites. International routes correct their navigation courses more than once during their flight. All of this adds time and fuel, thus raising prices on the overall effectiveness of traveling. Trains have answered this prickly problem by rolling directly into the heart of most cities. It is also noteworthy to see that the FAA is currently looking into ways of having aircraft radar systems better detect traffic and give them direct routes. This would make the Aero a perfect contender for secondary more direct routes, especially with cities that have more stringent noise ordinances. Zunum believes a Boston to Washington, DC flight would take 2 hours and 30 minutes door-to-door, compared to 4 hours and 50 minutes today.

Let The Zunum Aero Testing Begin

Zunum Aero plans to do test flights by 2019 and will open a second development center near Chicago for ground tests. It is surrounding itself with senior technologists from various fields, including power electronics, electric motors, propulsors and more from folks having worked on the Boeing 787, the Lockheed Martin F35, and the Rolls Royce Ultrafan.

According to founder and Aero Chief Engineer Matt Knapp: “This aircraft is going to transform how we live and work… We’ve pushed ourselves to challenge conventional wisdom and the limits of engineering to deliver an aircraft of which we are extremely proud — one that offers efficiency and performance without compromise.”


So what’s in a company name? Zunum is derived from the Mayan “tzunuum,” which means hummingbird, according to Steve’s article. How a propos! We’re excited to see the Zunum Aero continuing to gather momentum and can only imagine the comments on those V tails.

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From: Eric10/6/2017 8:25:45 AM
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US Senate Panel Gives Green Light To Self-Driving Car Fast-Track Bill

October 5th, 2017 by James Ayre

The commercial deployment of self-driving car tech in the US now appears to be on the fast track, following the unanimous approval of a bill aimed at just that outcome by a US Senate panel.

It should be noted here, though, that the bill — which would block states from imposing regulatory roadblocks against fully autonomous cars — still has to make it through a Senate vote. Though, this appears to now be more or less a given according some of those involved.

This news follows extensive lobbying efforts funded by GM, Alphabet/Google/Waymo, and Ford, amongst others — all of which seem to view self-driving vehicles as a means of capturing the business of the millennial generation, which in aggregate purchases far fewer vehicles than earlier generations.

“The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved the bill, and the US House of Representatives unanimously passed a similar measure last month. Automakers would be able to win exemptions from safety rules that require human controls. States could set rules on registration, licensing, liability, insurance, and safety inspections, but not performance standards,” Reuters notes.

“Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, sought to amend the bill to require human controls in case of emergency, but dropped that proposal. Some senators argued it would be more dangerous to allow human drivers to seek to take over driverless cars.

“After lengthy negotiations, congressional aides added language to the bill aimed at preserving legal rights to sue over defective vehicles. This resolved a dispute that threatened to derail the bill.

“Within three years, the bill would allow automakers to each sell up to 80,000 self-driving vehicles annually if they could demonstrate they are as safe as current vehicles. Auto safety advocates complained it lacked sufficient safeguards. The phase-in schedule was revised to initially allow 15,000 per manufacturer in the first year and up to 80,000 after 3 years, down from 50,000 to start and up to 100,000 in 3 years. It would eliminate the cap after 4 years.”

The bill gives the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) the authority to exempt vehicles from federal safety requirements, and requires it to create permanent rules on self-driving cars within 10 years. The regulators involved are apparently expected to study the impact of self-driving cars on traffic congestion, infrastructure wear, and fuel consumption.

Notably, none of these points pertain to self-driving commercial trucks, which will have to seek approval separately — partly as a result of union opposition, it seems.

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From: Eric10/6/2017 3:39:28 PM
   of 5879
Do not do this at home!

(and I'm a FAA Flight Instructor!)


Pilotless airplanes closer with Boeing acquisition

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From: Eric10/8/2017 7:27:41 AM
   of 5879
Electric Vehicles Will Drive A $5 Trillion Transition

October 7th, 2017 by Guest Contributor

Originally published on OilPrice.

By Peter Tertzakian

Change in the world of wheels is accelerating! Momentum is building and some days it’s hard to keep up.

Every week, the assumptions about the future of transportation, and the energy systems that turn our wheels, are becoming more Jetson-esque.

The excitement is palpable and as a technology junkie I love it. Auto shows are rolling out new electric vehicle (EV) models; China says it’s planning on banning internal combustion engines (ICE); and Daimler is jockeying with Tesla in the budding electric truck segment. In the battery world, lithium prices have reached an all-time high on anticipated demand growth. In tow with all the EV news, there is a trailer full of autonomous vehicle talk that makes me think that 1950s Popular Science articles were real after all.

But it’s time to take our foot off the accelerator and make sense of it all.

For the next several columns I’ll be looking at what the pundits are saying, characterizing and examining all assumptions, and putting things into pragmatic context.

I know one thing for sure: this is a very complicated and contentious subject. There are no easy parallels. An electric car is not like a smartphone or a Netflix subscription. For one thing, neither had much competitive resistance.

Parrying against the sunny alt-transport news, there is a cloudy, competitive reality. Global oil demand is ratcheting up at near-record pace. A couple of weeks ago, the International Energy Agency put our oil-addicted world on track for a 1.6 MMB/d of growth this year over last (the 20-year average is 1.2 MMB/d per year).

For 2018, analysts are already starting to escalate their oil growth forecasts. The lesson shouldn’t be lost on any of us: Never underestimate the consumer’s ability to overindulge in cheap energy commodities.

“Death of the Combustion Engine” and the “End of Oil” headlines are increasing in frequency on the promise of better, cheaper EVs with greater selection. Yet the actual data trends for ICE car sales and oil consumption are like pistons firing in the other direction, revving harder and racing away from any speculative eulogies.

What to believe?

There is little debate in my mind that big changes are forthcoming to our energy systems and transportation paradigms. For context, let’s think about how big is big?

The Biggest Transition Ever Just the scale of what’s in play will challenge many assumptions and forecasts. As the baseball philosopher Yogi Berra once said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

When it comes to oil and autos, big is a word that is not big enough. Transitioning not one, but two of the largest industries in the world simultaneously is unprecedented. Both have multi-trillion-dollar roots as tough as oak trees.

Our daily dose of oil momentarily touched 100 million-barrels-a-day in June. I estimate we’ll sustain past that incomprehensible century marker by the middle of 2018. That’s the equivalent rate of burning an ultra-large supertanker of oil every half hour.

(Click to enlarge)

From a sales perspective, the top 10 integrated oil and gas companies recorded annual revenue in excess of $US 3.1 trillion per year in 2015. For comparison, the top 10 technology companies add up to $US 1.3 trillion in sales and they sell a lot more than just smartphones.

There are over 1.2 billion ICE-powered vehicles on the road today. If the average vehicle is modestly worth $US 20,000, that represents a potential fleet turnover of $US 20 trillion. Electrifying this fleet on a fast track won’t be limited by technology (it never is). Aggressive adoption scenarios will be a function of many other considerations; for example, who will compensate car owners for trillions of dollars of devalued capital stock?

And the capital stock of a billion-plus vehicles isn’t static. After scrapping 40 million clunkers every year, the overall vehicle fleet is still expanding at a rate of 50 million vehicles annually, 99 percent of which are still ICE-powered. Like oil, autos are big business too: Off the assembly lines, the top 10 conventional automakers generate $US 1.6 trillion in sales worldwide.

Oil and gas plus conventional vehicle sales adds up to more than $US 5 trillion per year of business. That’s a big tree to shake. The multi-trillion-dollar scale of what’s in play is unlike any other we’ve seen. So, even modest shifts in the way we turn our wheels will be hugely impactful.

Many unknowns are in play. Will the world be driving 1.5 or over 2.0 billion vehicles by 2040? How many kilometers will each person be traveling, on average? At what rate will people switch from ICE to EV? Will EVs be full or partial substitutes for each of the various wheeled transportation segments? What will the value of a used car be?

Change one small assumption in the decades to follow—for example, how long people hold onto cars before trading them in—and the forecasts are out by a couple hundred million electric vehicles, several million barrels of oil per day, and hundreds of millions of tons of carbon per year.

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From: Eric10/8/2017 7:35:05 AM
   of 5879
Renault Promises 8 All-Electric Models & 12 Electrified Models

By 2022 October 7th, 2017 by James Ayre

As part of its newly unveiled “Drive The Future 2017–2022” plans, Groupe Renault is aiming to bring 8 all-electric vehicle models and 12 electrified vehicle models to market by 2022, according to a new press release.

Accompanying the plans regarding plug-in electric vehicles and hybrids, the company is reportedly aiming to double sales outside of Europe (bringing totals to more than 5 million). We presume this includes significant growth plans in the very large markets of China and India.

The plans also call for the release of 100% connected vehicle in some key markets, and 15 models featuring self-driving tech — one aim apparently being to introduce a robotaxi service by the end of the plan period.

In related news, Renault-Nissan Alliance partner Nissan recently unveiled a new version of the all-electric e-NV200 van with an improved range — that announcement should be followed before too long by the announcement of range increases for Renault’s corresponding all-electric vans. Furthermore, one would expect the range of Renault’s market-leading Zoe to keep increasing.

For more details on the news, below is Renault’s full press release.

Drive The Future 2017–2022: New strategic plan builds on record results, targets sustainable, profitable growth #DriveTheFuture

Please find here the link to the strategic plan conference

Groupe Renault Strategic Plan targets by the end of the plan:

Revenues over €70 billion1

Operating margin over 7%, representing a 50% increase in value, with a floor at 5% throughout the plan

Positive free cash flow each year

€4.2 billion Monozukuri savings over the plan

€18 billion invested in Research & Development

Over 5 million vehicles sold, doubling sales outside of Europe

EV Leadership: 8 pure electric vehicles, 12 electrified models

100% connected vehicles in key markets and 15 AD Renault vehicles

Paris, October 6, 2017 — Groupe Renault today announced Drive The Future, a new six-year plan to deliver annual revenues of over €70 billion1, achieve a group operating margin of over 7% by the end of the plan, with a floor at 5%, and positive free cash flow every year. Drive The Future is aligned with the Groupe Renault vision: sustainable mobility for all, today and tomorrow.

Under the Drive The Future plan, Groupe Renault forecasts that unit volumes will grow more than 40% to over 5 million units, compared with 3.47 million units2 sold in 2016, as the company expands its product range, including in LCV and new zero-emission electric vehicles and builds on success of its global access range. The plan will also leverage the R&D and global economies of scale from Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, the world’s largest automotive alliance, while maintaining financial discipline and cost efficiency.

Drive The Future will build on the strong foundation of Groupe Renault’s last plan Drive the Change, which resulted in record growth and operating profit, increased synergies gained through the Alliance with Nissan, empowered regions, expanded product mix and leadership in zero-emission vehicles in Europe.

Renault Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn said: “Groupe Renault is now a healthy, profitable, global company looking confidently ahead. Drive the Future is about delivering strong, sustainable growth benefiting from investments in key regions and products, leveraging Alliance resources and technologies, and increasing our cost competitiveness. Supported by the men and women of Renault, this new plan will unleash our full potential to innovate and grow in a rapidly-changing industry.”

Key elements of the plan include:

Worldwide profitable growth:

— 21 new vehicles including 3 add-ons
— Expanded Russia presence through Renault and investments in AVTOVAZ (Lada)
— Accelerating opportunities in China, new strategic joint ventures in EV and LCV
— Growing market opportunities in Brazil, India, Iran

Alliance scale and technologies to support the growth:

— €4.2 billion in Monozukuri savings over the plan
— Common platforms – 80% of Group Renault vehicles
— R&D Investment – €18 billion over six years, with a multiplier effect from the Alliance
— Connected – 100% vehicles connected in key markets
— Autonomous – 15 AD vehicles
— New mobility services – Ride-hailing, robo-taxi services by end of plan

As well as Groupe Renault key assets:

— Globalizing light commercial vehicle (LCV) range; becoming a top global player
— Expanding the group’s already successful Global Access range
— EV Leadership – 8 pure electric vehicles models, 12 electrified models
— RCI Bank and Services – supporting customer loyalty and expanding connected and mobility services

Drive the Future will also include investment in digitalization in all parts of the company, in new talent recruitment and skills development. The plan will enhance industrial competitiveness, reduce the company’s carbon footprint, and improve sustainability.

Drive The Future — the presentation will be available on October 6, 2017 on or visit for more information

1 with FX from banking consensus September 2017.
2 Including Avtovaz consolidated on December 31, 2016.

About Groupe Renault

Groupe Renault has been making cars since 1898. Today it is an international multi-brand group, selling close to 3.5 million vehicles in 127 countries in 2016, with 36 manufacturing sites, 12,700 points of sales and employing more than 120,000 people. To meet the major technological challenges of the future and continue its strategy of profitable growth, the Group is harnessing its international growth and the complementary fit of its five brands, Renault, Dacia and Renault Samsung Motors, Alpine and LADA, together with electric vehicles and the unique Alliance with Nissan and Mitsubishi. With a new team in Formula 1 and a strong commitment to Formula E, Renault sees motorsport as a vector of innovation and brand awareness.

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