China NEV Weekly Episode 6: A bang and a Byton

China NEV Weekly

We continue with a new episode of China NEV Weekly, bringing you the latest New Energy Vehicles from China. This week with a bang, a Byton, and Ford’s new friend.

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That’s going to hurt Elon Musk: Battery-partner Panasonic romantically involved with Toyota

The happy couple meets the press. Picture (c) Bertel Schmitt

Tesla-chief Elon Musk should need a few extra Ambiens tonight after he hears the news from Tokyo. His Gigafactory battery partner Panasonic today announced some sort of engagement with the world’s largest automaker Toyota, with the goal of developing the best batteries for EVs, the type of batteries that definitely are not on the table in the domestic partnership between Tesla and Panasonic. Will it lead to a giga-divorce?

Officially, Toyota and Panasonic today announced a rather innocuous-sounding “agreement to begin studying the feasibility of a joint automotive prismatic battery business,” and Tesla’s propaganda arms undoubtedly will assure the faithful that nothing is to be feared from it, and that, should it unexpectedly lead to something, “Elon will have it first.”

If you went to today’s press conference on the matter, you went home thereafter with a totally different impression.  The presser was called with only four hours of notice, always a sign that something important is afoot. We were invited not to come to Toyota’s usual basement-bunker meeting room, but to the grand ballroom at Tokyo’s swank Conrad. Despite the tight timing, every seat was taken.  So enormous was the occasion, that Toyota even laid on a feature-length YouTube video.

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Some go to production hell. I went to production heaven.

Stampings are checked at Volvo car factory in Luqiao, China. Picture Kalinda Zhang.

The world’s most talked-about car factory sits in California. It is sued for being “a hotbed for racist behavior,” and for targeting pro-union employees in mass firings. Working conditions at the plant are labeled as “grueling.” Submitted to “aggressive production goals,” workers receive “life-changing injuries,” reports say. The quality at this plant is described as so bad that quality checks “routinely revealed defects in more than 90 percent” of the cars , wrote Reuters. The shop floor at the factory is characterized as “messy, it hiccups, modules are repaired on the line, stockpiles of parts lie around in “semi-organized” fashion. The current situation at the factory is “production hell” said its CEO. Now that’s an interesting car plant, especially because the company that owns this both loathsome and lonesome plant, Tesla, is valued close to General Motors, a company with more than 100 plants all over the world.

Normally, a hot-blooded journalist would just love to get into such a scandalous plant, but for some reason, journalists are not invited.

I had to make do with the world’s second-most interesting car plant. I went there to experience the opposite of production hell – that would be what, production heaven?

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China NEV Weekly Episode 5: Bangle and the World Cup

 

Welcome to another episode of China NEV Weekly, with the latest New Energy Vehicles from China. This week with Chris Bangle, the World Cup, and a fake Picasso.

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China NEV Weekly, Episode 4: Pickup Your BingGo

China NEV Weekly

Welcome to Episode 3 of the China NEV Weekly, where we look at the latest New Energy Vehicles from China. This week with pickup trucks, a Hozon, and we are going to play bingo!

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Inspection scandal crimps chances for top spot

Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa and CCO Yasuhiro Yamauchi in Yokohama (c) Bertel Schmitt

A quality inspection scandal that taxes the comprehension of anyone outside of Japan throws a monkey wrench into Carlos Ghosn’s aspirations to make the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance the world’s largest automaker. [Continue Reading]

Nissan sells some 14,000 of the new electric LEAF in its first month

Nissan domestic sales chief Asako Hoshino: “Sold 9,600 LEAF in Japan.” (c) Bertel Schmitt

The new 2018 Nissan LEAF went on sale in Japan on October 1st, “and demand was strong to say the least,” rejoices InsideEVs. “Better still, Nissan knows what to do with demand – fill it! What is “simply amazing” is how Nissan shows it in September, then sells the pants off it in October. For October, the LEAF set a new all-time sales record with 3,629 deliveries! Making the LEAF the 19th bestselling car in Japan for the month.”

Wait until InsideEVs hears this:

Including pre-orders, the LEAF actually sold 9,600 units in Japan in October. Together with a little over 4,000 LEAFs sold in Europe, Nissan’s 2nd generation EV found around 14,000 happy buyers globally by end of October, and wait until it comes to the U.S., where it should be available in January.

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No production hell at Jaguar’s I-Pace. “All peaceful,” insider says

Trundling peacefully down the line in Graz, Austria, on pace for a timely launch: The Jaguar I-Pace

Concerned that Elon Musk’s production hell might be contagious, and that it could be spreading to other EV manufacturers, I checked-in with a knowledgeable contact close to Jaguar’s I-Pace program. Jaguar’s I-Pace is an upcoming premium-EV that is already sold out months before its arrival sometime in 2018, and according to its father, Wolfgang Ziebart, the I-Pace is a “Tesla-beater.” Might the I-Pace also be delayed somewhere at the bottom of a stepped exponential S-curve, I asked.

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