Archive for the ‘Fuel Cell’ Category

Can the Flintstones and Jetsons Sell America on EVs?

New ad campaign brings back two classic cartoon families.

by on Aug.13, 2018

The Electrify America ad campaign plays up the fun-to-drive aspects of battery-cars as much as their environmental benefits.

There’s an electrified revolution heading for your local showroom, with dozens of hybrids, plug-ins and pure battery-electric vehicles coming to market over the next few years. The challenge the industry faces is getting consumers to plug in. All forms of battery-based vehicles accounted for barely 3% of the total U.S. market last year.

Building awareness is a key goal for Electrify America, the project backed by $2 billion from Volkswagen, part of the settlement of its diesel emissions scandal. The 10-year effort makes its public debut this week with an ad campaign pitching the virtues of battery-electric vehicles. And to help get the message across, it’s borrowing the theme music from two Boomer-era cartoon shows, the Flintstones and the Jetsons.

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The first spot, dubbed JetStones, features a number of new battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, and will air on national and local cable television, with a radio version running in both English and Spanish. At the same time, Electrify America will begin placing a network of high-speed charging stations across the country.

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Automakers Caught “In Limbo” As New CAFE Rules Face Major Legal Hurdles

Anticipated court battle could delay changes for years.

by on Aug.03, 2018

Automakers are caught in the middle over the CAFE debate and could face even more challenges if the proposed Trump rollback drags on in court.

Despite, or perhaps because of, the Trump Administration’s plan to roll back the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, automakers are finding themselves in what one long-time industry analyst calls “limbo,” and it could be a year or more before they’ll actually be able to incorporate the CAFE update into their plans due to anticipated legal challenges.

As a result, it could be well into the upcoming decade before the White House revisions actually have any significant impact, according to numerous industry executives who spoke to TheDetroitBureau.com, if any changes ever actually occur.

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There is the very real possibility that the courts could rule against the proposed changes or that the legal battle drags on long enough for a new administration to come into office and revert back to the guidelines established under the Obama White House. As a result, automakers and suppliers face a major conundrum when it comes to planning for products set to come out through the middle of the coming decade.

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Trump Mileage Rules Could Cost U.S. Motorist $Billions

But White House claims “societal cost” savings of $500 billion.

by on Jul.30, 2018

You may be spending significantly more at the pump under the CAFE rollback plan.

The planned revisions to the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standards set to be announced by the Trump Administration could save as much as $500 billion in “societal costs,” according to a draft proposal revealed over the weekend – but on an individual basis, motorists could wind up spending thousands of dollars each, while the potential to the environment may also be substantial, as the new plan could increase U.S. fuel consumption by as much as 500,000 barrels a day.

In April, former Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt took the first steps towards officially rolling back the rules set by the Obama Administration which would steadily increase the fuel economy of the average vehicle sold in the U.S. to 54.5 mpg in 2025. The draft of a plan crafted jointly by the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published over the weekend by the New York Times would freeze mileage standards at a level reached by 2020 – or around 37 mpg.

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The draft appears to have been completed in May, and sources have told several news outlets that revisions could be made before the final proposal is released – something that could happen as early as this week, according to comments made by Andrew Wheeler, the former coal industry lobbyist and acting EPA chief who took over the agency after Pruitt was forced out due to ethical concerns.

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Marchionne Out, Manley In as Fiat Chrysler CEO

Questions about health issues blamed for Marchionne’s early departure.

by on Jul.21, 2018

Larger than life: Marchionne outlined a broad 5-year-plan during a day-long June session in Milan.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced on Saturday that Jeep and Ram brand boss Michael Manley will replace CEO Sergio Marchionne, who due to complications from recent surgery is gravely ill and will not return to work.

Though the 66-year-old Marchionne was known to have undergone surgery this past week for what was reported to be a shoulder problem. According to FCA’s statement, the Italian-born and Canadian-educated Marchionne experienced “unexpected complications,” while his conditions had “worsened significantly in recent hours.”

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Word of Marchionne’s departure quickly echoed through the automotive grapevine. Few industry executives have had a higher profile presence in recent decades, and even fewer could be said to have done more to shape a company in his own image as did Marchionne, who rescued the then-bankrupt Chrysler by securing a U.S. government bailout and then merging it with Italy’s Fiat S.p.A.

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Nikola Partnering With Bosch on New Semi-Truck

Companies working to enhance fuel cell technology.

by on Jul.09, 2018

While the emphasis is on battery power, Utah start-up Nikola is focused on hydrogen.

The promise of fuel cells has intrigued carmakers for years because they promise to liberate the automotive business from the petroleum industry but expensive batteries needing rare minerals and complicated manufacturing processes.

But as the well-worn joke about fuel cells goes the breakthrough in fuel-cell technology always seems to be about 10 years in the future despite the best efforts by companies such Toyota, Honda, General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Daimler AG among others.

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However, the Bosch Group thinks that commercial vehicles, particularly heavy trucks that run long distances over fixed routes, could be ideal candidates. Not only can fuel cells easily fit into large Class 8 trucks in many cases, the users of big trucks can supply the hydrogen required to run the electricity generating fuel cells, according to Jason Roycht, vice president, North America Regional Business Leader. (more…)

Freightliner Takes Aim at Tesla with Two Big EV Semis and a New E-Mobility Center

Daimler’s U.S. truck division will put first 30 into field tests this year.

by on Jun.07, 2018

The new Freightliner eCascadia and eM2 semis.

Freightliner, the U.S.-based truck subsidiary of Daimler AG, is taking direct aim at Tesla with the debut of two new battery-powered semis that it plans to begin fleet testing later this year.

The eCascadia and eM2 join a range of smaller delivery trucks that Freightliner and other Daimler truck brands have been rolling out over the last couple years. A number of major freight and delivery companies, ranging from UPS to PepsiCo, have expressed interest in the clean, fuel-efficient technology. That has drawn a number of vehicle manufacturers into the emerging field, including Volvo AB and Volkswagen AG, as well as Freightliner and Tesla.

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Daimler also plans to set up a new Automated Research and Development Center near Freightliner’s headquarters in Portland, as well as a new E-Mobility Group to help share technologies among its various truck brands.

“We are the undisputed global leader of the trucking industry and we intend to remain in that position with electric trucks and buses,” Daimler Trucks chief Martin Daum said in a statement.

That was echoed in a comment by Roger Nielsen, the president of Daimler Trucks North America, that took a clear shot at Tesla, a company that has not only never built a truck before but which has had major trouble meeting production targets and quality goals for its passenger vehicles. But it also underscored the fact that Daimler is taking Tesla’s imminent arrival in the truck market as seriously is it is the California company’s electric passenger car line-up.

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Toyota Earnings Jump, Despite Rising U.S. Incentives

Record R&D spending could hurt operating profit.

by on May.09, 2018

Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda is not only pushing for automotive sales growth, but leading the company into the emerging mobility sector.

Toyota saw earnings jump 21% between January and March, the final quarter of its fiscal year, despite having to sharply ramp up incentives in a slowing U.S. automotive market.

The automaker reported a profit of 480.8 billion yen, or $4.4 billion, up from 398 billion yen the year before. Toyota’s sales also rose 2% to 7.58 trillion yen, or $69 billion. For the full fiscal year, it earned 2.49 trillion yen, or $23 billion, a 36% increase, with sales rising 6%, to 29.38 trillion yen, or $268 billion.

Beyond the Numbers!

The strong performance helped highlight the cost-cutting efforts initiated by CEO and President Akio Toyoda, the grandson of Toyota’s founder declaring, “We’ve become a leaner, trimmer company … and in the past year we’ve developed our remaining fat into muscle, so that we’re in a strong position to be more competitive.”

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One in Five Americans Wants to Own an Electric Vehicle

But how many will follow through is another matter entirely.

by on May.08, 2018

If the new study is any indication, sales of electric cars could soon climb into the millions.

Automakers are investing tens of billions of dollars gearing up to produce a new generation of plug-based vehicles, a worrisome effort considering that all electrified vehicles – from mild hybrids to pure battery-electric vehicles – accounted for just 3% of the overall American market last year.

But a new study finds that a full 20% of U.S. motorists want their next car, truck or crossover to be electric, according to the AAA. That’s up from 15% in just a year, the travel service reports and, perhaps not so coincidentally, the increase comes at a time when manufacturers are beginning to roll out an assortment of new models that offer longer range and quicker charging at a lower cost.

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“Today, electric vehicles have mainstream appeal,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering. “While concern for the environment is still a major motivator, AAA found U.S. drivers are also attracted to the lower long-term costs and advanced technology features that many of these vehicles offer.”

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GM Getting the Weight Out with 3D Printing

Technology could mean lighter, strong vehicles, but challenges remain.

by on May.03, 2018

The technology could reduce the weight of a future Chevy Bolt - and simplify assembly.

Since the earliest days of the auto industry, manufacturers have stamped, forged, cast and molded most of the parts that go into their products, but the search for lighter cars and trucks is forcing them to search for alternative approaches.

Working with the software company Autodesk, General Motors is exploring the potential of using additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, and may introduce the technology on one of the more than 20 new battery-electric and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles it plans to bring to market over the next five years. And it isn’t alone. Niche manufacturers, such as Swedish hypercar company Koenigsegg, as well as major manufacturers BMW and Ford, are also exploring ways to utilize 3D printing.

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“This disruptive technology provides tremendous advancements in how we can design and develop components for our future vehicles to make them lighter and more efficient, said GM Vice President Ken Kelzer, head of the automaker’s Global Vehicle Components and Subsystems.

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Musk Looks Beyond Model 3 Problems, But Creates Some Headaches in the Process

CEO talks future product, factories – but still sends stock plunging.

by on May.03, 2018

Forget those earnings numbers. Tesla CEO Elon Musk was far more interested in talking about future products, the next-gen Roadster shown here.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is not one to suffer fools – or critics – lightly, as he proved during a 75-minute teleconference call following the release of the automaker’s first-quarter earnings report on Wednesday evening.

The South African-born executive attempted to put a positive spin on what was Tesla’s worst-ever quarterly deficit, promising future earnings while also revealing plans for new factories, new products and a new, fully hands-free version of the Autopilot system. But Musk also offered a harsh assessment of some of the reporters on the earnings call, while repeatedly cutting off analysts looking for long-term financial projections that he dismissed as “boring.”

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“These questions are so dry, they’re killing me,” he interjected before dismissing one analyst’s questions. Musk later shifted his disdain to reporters, at one point suggesting that by questioning the safety of Tesla’s current, semi-autonomous version of Autopilot, reporters might convince drivers to turn it off “and then die.”

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