Your car will eat shit. And that’s a good thing

This is where shit happens: Part of the sewage-to-hydrogen plant (c) Bertel Schmitt

Want to turn a staunch supporter of electric vehicles into a fire and invective belching monster? Easy. All you have to do is mention a certain kind of EV, namely the one powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. You’ll be immediately subjected to long tirades of how “wildly impractical, horrendously wasteful, and ridiculously expensive” the thing is.  Rest assured that in the course of the discussion, the diety of electric cars, who called the technology “fool cells,” will be invoked at least three times. Meanwhile in Japan, the biggest proponent of said fuel cells, Toyota, is unperturbed, and it works towards a “hydrogen society” with the same tenacity Toyota showed way back when it was pushing its hybrid technology against all odds. Now, the industry switches to hybrid in wholesale fashion.

Today, Toyota played its trump card: Fuel cell vehicles can be powered with something that is absolutely renewable, and available in endless quantities all around the world: Human excrement. [Continue Reading]

Japan unites industry in push for fuel cell cars, enthusiasm varies

United for hydrogen. (c) Bertel Schmitt

To allow for millions of new cars to be added without suffocating the globe, we need to switch to zero emissions in a hurry. Electric appears to be the way to go, and there are two ways to power the electric motors: Battery, and fuel cell. Batteries are easy, limited in range, and take long to charge. Fuel cells are technically involved, can give the car a long range, and take only minutes to refuel. They have a big drawback: The lack of hydrogen fuel stations. Yesterday, Japan made the first serious attempt to break that deadlock. [Continue Reading]

‘Fool cell’ Toyota Mirai trounces ‘S-curve’ Tesla Model 3

Hand made Mirai. (c) Bertel Schmitt

Last October, we raised the possibility that Tesla’s alleged mass market car, the Model 3, could be out-sold by Toyota’s not-at-all-mass-market car, the fuel-cell powered Mirai. We called that a “strong possibility,” and a Toyota tipster said “if Tesla maintains its graceful pace of some 130 a month, for sure we will have made more Mirai this year by end of December.”

As the world is well aware by now, the Model 3 ramp-up was disgraceful, and as hard as it may have tried, Tesla could report only 1,770 Model 3 as sold to (mostly in-house) customers in 2017.

Today was December and calendar year 2017 numbers day in Japan, an opportunity to ask Toyota how its Mirai has been doing. [Continue Reading]

Toyota rolls out “BEVs in earnest.”

BEVs in earnest. Picture (c) Bertel Schmitt

The common narrative among the disruption-demographic is that large “legacy” automakers are asleep at their four wheels. The not-so-common version is: Step aside when they wake up. The step-aside moment was today, when world’s largest automaker Toyota laid out its electrification plans.

In a press conference at Toyota’s Megaweb in Tokyo, EVP Shigeki Terashi started out complaining to reporters that some of his limelight was stolen during Akio Toyoda’s announcement of a battery joint venture with Panasonic. Then he revealed that: [Continue Reading]

The indignity! Tesla Model 3 could be out-produced by “fool cell” Mirai this year

Mirai production in Motomachi, capacity 3,000 units per year

Californian carmaker Tesla is close to suffering yet another insult. The company infamously managed to deliver only 220 of its more affordable Model 3 in the two months since production was kicked-off with great fanfare. Should Tesla remain on that pace – and an article by my partner Ed Niedermeyer paints that as a strong possibility –  the allegedly mass-produced Tesla Model 3 could be out-produced by Toyota’s lowest-volume car, the hydrogen fuel cell Mirai.

[Continue Reading]

Norwegian EV party to end in May – Tesla already a wallflower

Out of the way!

Out of the way!

The electric party is about to be over in EV-wonderland Norway. In May, the 50,000th EV is expected to be sold in the country of just 5 million. This means the end of the extremely generous benefits Norwegian EV buyers enjoy. Politicians discuss a follow-up program, but it won’t be anywhere as princely as the current one. [Continue Reading]

Toyota recalls all RAV-4 EVs made with Tesla due to problems with Tesla’s powertrain

“In a complete loss of drive power, which can increase the risk of a crash.”

The DailyKanban usually doesn’t write about recalls, except in the morning roundup, and except in special circumstances. This is one of them. Toyota recalls all 2,500 RAV4 EVs built with Tesla for problems in the propulsion system supplied by Tesla.

According to a company statement, “components in the Electric Vehicle Traction Motor Assembly, which is part of the propulsion system, may cause the vehicle to shift to “neutral” due to a software issue … If the vehicle shifts to “neutral”, this will result in a complete loss of drive power, which can increase the risk of a crash.”

The recall either was no surprise to Tesla, or it wrote with a healthy dose of clairvoyance in its recent 10-K, filed in February: [Continue Reading]

What does the congressional grilling of Akio Toyoda have to do with the Mirai FCV? More than we imagine

Time to reflect

Time to reflect

Today, 5 years ago, on February 24, 2010, Toyoda CEO Akio Toyoda was mercilessly grilled in a show trial at the U.S. Congress for unintended acceleration that did, according to NASA, never happen.  Picture Mark Fields, or Mary Barra, being screamed at in Chinese, or Japanese, by lawmakers in Beijing, or Tokyo, and you won’t begin to fathom the intentional trauma. Today, February 24, 2015, the production start of Toyota’s fuel cell vehicle, the Mirai, was celebrated in a line-off ceremony at the Motomachi plant in Toyota City, Japan. Just a happenstance? Not really. [Continue Reading]