Car Reviews

Citroen Boss Expects Rise In Post-Pandemic EV Demand

He argues that there are several key factors that will prove him right.

Vincent Cobee is Citroen’s executive vice president and he believes the post COVID-19 pandemic world will be a more EV-friendly world. He argues that between governments’ new incentive plans meant to boost the sales of EVs and buyers’ newfound environmental awareness, more of them will find homes in the near future.

It has to be said, though, that we’re still not in a post-pandemic world quite yet, as many areas are still struggling with hundreds or even thousands of newly infected people every day. And that’s just in the places that do a lot of testing, so we can’t say when Cobee’s prediction will come into play.

The Citroen boss talked about this expected trend on the sidelines of the new C4 launch. The model is also available as the fully-electric e-C4, which is expected to account for up to 10 percent of all new C4 sales in Europe.

He said:

“The last four months have seen a transformation of society and one of the ways out is the transformation of regulations, with a push towards low-carbon vehicles. So we are expecting that the unexpected could happen and I wouldn’t be surprised if the market share of EVs moves towards 20% very, very rapidly, especially with a car like the C4.”

And added that even though EVs are more expensive to buy, their running and maintenance costs over time should prove lower. He thinks that once buyers become more aware of this fact, the shift towards EVs will be even greater.

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Car Reviews

Tesla Is Leading The Charge In A Battery Revolution

If you were looking to nominate a technology as the most influential of the early 21st century, batteries would be a logical choice.

This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX, which makes and sells aftermarket Tesla accessories. The opinions expressed therein are not necessarily our own at InsideEVs, nor have we been paid by EVANNEX to publish these articles. We find the company’s perspective as an aftermarket supplier of Tesla accessories interesting and are willing to share its content free of charge. Enjoy!

Posted on EVANNEX on July 03, 2020 by Charles Morris

Cheap, compact batteries made smartphones and mobile computing possible, and larger and more powerful batteries represent the enabling technology behind electric mobility, renewable energy and the smart grid. 

As is the case with any new technology, the applications of battery storage expand as its cost falls. Increasing demand leads to more production, which drives continuing cost reductions and performance improvements in a virtuous circle.

Over the past decade, battery costs have seen a dramatic drop—from over $1,000 per kilowatt-hour in 2010 to around $156 per kWh in 2019, according to BloombergNEF. That’s getting very close to the “magic number” of $100/kWh that many believe will bring EVs to price parity with legacy vehicles, and end the Oil Age. What factors have contributed to this rapid reduction in prices?

Timothy B. Lee, writing in Ars Technica, points out that Tesla has played a major role, not only by bringing electric cars into the mainstream, but by focusing on the importance of battery tech from the start. “Tesla has been a battery company as much as it is a car company,” Lee writes. “Tesla recognized the potential scale of the battery market before most other companies, and has become a leading player in the market for grid storage.”

Tesla followed a classic tech-industry strategy of starting with a low-volume, high-cost product (the Roadster) and progressing to lower-cost mass-market offerings (Models 3 and Y). This iterative process was enabled in large part by falling battery costs. “Model S was designed and introduced about five years after the Roadster, and we saw improvements of around 40 percent on the battery technology, the fundamental chemistry, the packaging of the battery pack itself,” JB Straubel said in 2014. “That directly translated into how we can get close to 300 miles of range in a Model S, almost 85 kWh of energy storage in a pack that’s actually smaller than the Roadster pack.”

As more batteries get produced, economies of scale kick in, and companies learn how to streamline production processes and squeeze out costs. As Mr. Lee explains, economists measure this cost reduction in terms of the learning rate, defined as the percentage decrease in cost for every doubling of manufacturing output. BloombergNEF estimates that, in 2019, the learning rate for batteries was 18 percent. In other words, battery costs fall by 18 percent every time global battery output doubles.

Bloomberg believes that the industry will reach the portentous $100/kWh price point by 2023. Some industry observers suspect that Tesla is already close to achieving the Grail, and will make a historic announcement at Battery Day on September 15.

It isn’t just cars that are driving demand for batteries. Stationary storage for utility applications is a huge growth area—Elon Musk has said that Tesla’s battery business may someday outgrow its automotive angle.

Justin Rowlatt, writing for the BBC, agrees. “Gigantic batteries connected to our electricity grids are going to be central to the great renewable energy revolution,” he writes.

Professor Paul Shearing, a battery expert at University College London, told the BBC that the world is entering “a nearly exponential growth phase.” He points out that Tesla’s vaunted “million-mile battery,” expected to be revealed in September, will not only be good news for EV sales. Longer-lasting batteries are also essential in stationary storage applications.

Utility-scale storage systems use a lot of batteries. In 2017 Tesla installed the world’s largest lithium-ion battery system at the Hornsdale Wind Farm in Australia, with a storage capacity of 129 MWh—equivalent to 2,000 Model 3s or 10 million smartphones. This year, the site’s capacity was increased to 185 MWh. Even so, it will be dwarfed by the planned Manatee Energy Storage Center in Florida, which is supposed to have a capacity of 900 MWh and go online in late 2021. Clearly, more economies of scale, and corresponding price reductions, are coming.

Another avenue to lower cost would be reducing the costs of raw materials such as lithium. Despite the scare stories you may have seen, there’s no risk of a shortage—lithium is plentiful around the world. However, it could emerge as a bottleneck as demand mushrooms, because current methods of extracting lithium from salt deposits are slow and inefficient. Mr. Rowlatt writes that, at the Salar de Atacama in Chile, the evaporation process used to produce lithium salts takes months, and recovers only 30% of the available lithium.

Various companies are working to develop improved refining methods. The BBC reports that EnergyX is developing a new type of nanoparticle filter, which it hopes will be able to recover lithium from a salt solution at a 90% efficiency rate, while reducing the time required from months to days. Another innovator is Lilac Solutions, which is testing an ion-exchange process on the rich lithium deposits at California’s Salton Sea. Tesla, meanwhile, hopes to exploit a huge and easily exploitable trove of lithium in so-called Lithium Valley, just a couple hundred miles north of Gigafactory 1 in Nevada.

So, we see that Tesla is working on several fronts to keep battery costs coming down. As a recent article from Loup Ventures points out, other automakers are falling farther and farther behind. As Gene Munster writes, “We believe Tesla has a competitive advantage in batteries that is under-appreciated by investors. In the future, we expect that advantage to widen.”

By all accounts, Tesla’s batteries are the best in the industry—but that’s not the only advantage the California company enjoys. Its battery supply chain is more mature and robust than that of other automakers. Munster points out that Tesla has strong relationships with battery suppliers. Most of the company’s battery cells are manufactured by long-time battery partner Panasonic at Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory. Loup Ventures believes that over 60% of Panasonic’s battery cell production is currently going to Tesla.

Above: A broad overview of battery electric vehicles using Tesla’s Model S as an example; Note: Since this video aired, Model S range has increased to over 400 miles of range (YouTube: Bloomberg Technology)

Recently, Tesla has also begun working with China’s CATL and South Korea’s LG Chem. As if that weren’t enough, the company is also widely believed to be working on its own battery cell design, which likely uses a new, proprietary chemistry. With its recent acquisitions of Maxwell Technologies and Hibar Systems, Tesla has secured access to cutting-edge battery tech that is sure to lead to further cost reductions. Maxwell’s “dry electrode” manufacturing process could allow Tesla to remake its battery production line, saving loads of money, time and factory space.


Written by: Charles Morris; Source: Ars Technica, BBC, Loup Ventures

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Auto News

NHAI suffers data loss in cyberattack

According to a media report, all the data on National Highways Authority of India’s (NHAI) servers was lost after last week’s ransomware attack.

There could be various reasons that lead to the breach. It is said that weak cybersecurity infrastructure, lax monitoring and outdated legacy software were some of them.

According NHAI officials, while there was a loss of data on the servers and a breach in the hardware, they had a backup loaded on the mail server.

Following this cyber attack, CERTin, which handles computer security emergencies, has started rigorous monitoring. Meanwhile, the investigation to ascertain from where the attack originated is still ongoing.


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Car Reviews

Nissan LEAF Sales In U.S. Down 68% In Q2 2020

Barely 1,000 Nissan LEAFs were sold during the past three months.

Nissan car sales during the second quarter of 2020 were highly affected by the COVID-19 lockdown in the U.S. as the overall sales decreased by 49.5% year-over-year to 177,328.

The decrease was even worse in the case of passenger cars – down 61.8% year-over-year to 55,128. Unfortunately, the all-electric Nissan LEAF dragged the results down even more – by over 68% year-over-year to 1,049.

The LEAF was responsible for some 1.9% of all passenger car sales in Q2.

Nissan LEAF sales in the U.S. through Q2 2020

Since the second quarter was the worst ever for LEAF, and Q1 was also weaker than in previous years, the year-to-date result is pretty low 3,007 (down 50% year-over-year).

After almost 10 years on the market, Nissan sold in the U.S. 144,914 LEAFs. Because the results are weakening noticeably over the years, in 2020, the Japanese manufacturer might have trouble achieving a five-digit sales result.

The way to rebound in the EV segment for Nissan will be the Ariya, an all-electric crossover. It’s not yet known when the Ariya will appear on the market.

Gallery: 2019 Nissan LEAF PLUS

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Car Reviews

In Q2, Chevrolet Bolt EV Sales In U.S. Decreased By 37%

Besides the COVID-19 lockdown, Chevrolet Bolt EV was no longer eligible for the federal tax credit.

After the quite successful first quarter of this year, Chevrolet Bolt EV sales decreased in Q2 by 37% year-over-year to 2,498.

The decline was slightly higher than in the case of the overall Chevrolet brand sales – by 33.6% to 331,917, and for GM as a whole  – by 34% to 492,489.

We guess that, besides the obvious COVID-19 lockdown, Bolt EV was affected by lack of the federal tax credit since April 1, 2020. Previously it was $1,875.

In Q2, Bolt EV was responsible for 0.8% of the total Chevrolet sales.

Chevrolet Bolt EV sales in the U.S. – Q2 2020

During the first 6-months, sales amounted to 8,371, which is a 1.1% improvement over 2019. It might be difficult to achieve growth later this year.

The plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt noted 39 sales (down 97%), as General Motors is selling the last units of the retired model.

The company clearly needs to find a new way to increase plug-in electric car sales and hopefully, the upcoming new electric Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC model will finally shoot sales up significantly.

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2020 Ducati Panigale V2 now in White Rosso colour scheme, Malaysia launch in July pending approval –

Released in 2019, the Ducati Panigale V2 is the Bologna firm’s middleweight racetrack weapon and for 2020 comes in a new colour scheme of White Rosso. Coming to Ducati dealers in July 2020, the Panigale V2 in in the new paint will be sold alongside the traditional Ducati Rosso Red.

The clinical white paint scheme on the Panigale V2 is broken up with red accents in the front air intakes and the deflectors of the upper half-fairings. This is complemented with wheels painted in Ducati red, giving the Panigale V2 a futuristic, minimalist look as well as a V2 logo on the lower fairings.

Carrying the 955 cc Superquadro V-twin in a monocoque frame, the Panigale V2 puts out 155 hp at 10,750 rpm and a maximum torque of 104 Nm at 9,000 rpm. In keeping with the sporting nature of the Panigale V2, 70% of the maximum torque is constantly available beyond 5,500 rpm, giving that famous V-twin drive out of corners.

As tested by in Jerez, Spain, last year, the Panigale V2, despite the road-going hardware, is more at home on the track. The single-sided swingarm makes a comeback into Ducati’s sub-one litre catalogue, after being absent on the Panigale 959.

Suspension is done with 43 mm diameter fully-adjustable Showa Big Piston Forks (BPF) in front and an adjustable Sachs monoshock at the back. Braking is by Brembo, with M4.32 monobloc callipers activated by a radial brake master cylinder with Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II tyres providing grip.

For Malaysia, a date has yet to be announced for the launch of the 2020 Ducati Panigale V2, although a source tells us it will be “this July pending type approval.” Pricing is also yet to be announced, but previous conversations with Ducati Malaysia have indicated efforts are being made to bring the Panigale V2 “below the RM120,000 price point.”
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Auto News

Street Outlaws: Race Night in America Brings the Best No Prep Racing Teams Together

Drag racing fans can get their fix as they watch teams from across the country compete for a $100,000 prize.

We’ve covered drag racing in all its forms over the years, and the perennial fan favorite is what can generally be called street-car racing: registered and road-legal cars that pull double duty. They have enough street manners to participate in something like HOT ROD Power Tour or Drag Week, yet still accel at their main objective, which is to be an effective race car. Outlaw grudge and No Prep racing have been extremely popular for nearly a decade, spawning several race series at local tracks around the country, as well as a few TV shows. One of the latest is Street Outlaws: Race Night in America.

Related: Get a 14-day free trial to the MotorTrend App, and start binge-watching 3,200+ hours of the best automotive content available!

A spinoff of Street Outlaws: Memphis, Race Night in America takes the popular Street Outlaws format, pioneered in Oklahoma City, but adds a concentrated regional competition into the mix and sweetened the recipe with a $100,000 purse to the winner. In this series, eight teams from across the country shoot it out in an elimination format until there is one winning team. That team must then face the team from Memphis to determine the ultimate winner of the big cash prize.

See all 12 photos

The racing is done on a street in Memphis, with the final race happening on a lonely road outside of Las Vegas. The format will feel familiar, with lots of trash talking and even more censor bleeping, but the cars are cool, and the racers are interesting. Like all these shows, we wish more time was spent on technical information about the cars, but viewers do get an insider’s look at some of the strategy and psychology involved when trying to outwit an opponent in competition. It also shows just how much power many of these cars are making and how dangerous racing them can be. One of the first pair of cars down the track, er street, suffered a violent crash, leaving a heavily damaged car and a shaken, but otherwise unhurt, driver. In other races, you’ll see nitrous explosions, snapped blower belts, and a fair amount of fisticuffs. And that’s just in the first episode!

See all 12 photos

Street Outlaws: Race Night in America continues the legacy of JJ DaBoss and his Memphis crew, and it’s available now on the MotorTrend App!

See all 12 photos

See all 12 photos


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Auto News

Volvo issues largest recall in company history for seat belt issue

Volvo on Wednesday announced the recall of 2.18 million vehicles globally to repair weak front seat belts, Automotive News reported. 

The largest recall in the Swedish brand’s history covers approximately 308,000 vehicles in the U.S. made between 2006-2019. The issue is degradation of a steel cable in the front seat belts that over time could result in “reduced seat belt restraint function,” the company said in a statement. The automaker said it had not received any reports of crashes or injuries related to the issue. 

Affected vehicles include the Volvo S60, S60 Cross Country, V60, V60 Cross Country, and XC60, as well as the V70, XC70, and S80 formerly sold in the U.S.  

Volvo will contact owners and dealers will fix the front seat belts free of charge. Owners can check the status of their car at Volvo’s recall website. 

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2020 BMW Motorrad S1000XR in Malaysia, RM121,500 –

Something of an unsung hero in BMW Motorrad’s range of motorcycles is the 2020 BMW Motorrad S1000XR sports-tourer, now in Malaysia and priced at RM121,500, on-the-road excluding insurance. Going on a small diet, the 2020 S1000XR weighs 10 kg then its predecessor and with power optimised for the mid-range and ridability.

Weight savings were gained with a 19% lighter swingarm, a lighter Euro 5 compliant exhaust system and a 5kg weight reduction in the engine. This is coupled with BMW Motorrad’s “Flex Frame”, where the S1000XR’s engine takes on more load bearing from the frame, becoming part of the bike’s riding dynamics.

The S1000XR’s inline-four engine is derived from the S1000RR super bike and produces 165 hp at 11,000 rpm and 114 Nm of torque at 9,250 rpm. Fourth, fifth and sixth gear ratios have been made taller to take advantage of the S1000XR’s meatier mid-range and reduce noise and vibration at higher speeds.

New for the S1000XR is engine drag torque control (MSR) which works in conjunction with a smoother and self-reinforcing anti-hopping clutch. MSR on the S1000XR is electronically controlled and reduces rear wheel slip during hard acceleration or downshifting.

Suspension is done with BMW Motorrad’s Dynamic ESA (Electronic Suspension Adjustment) that comes with an electronically controlled upside front-fork and rear monoshock. Riders wanting adjustable damping modes and automatic load adjustment have to purchase Dynamic ESA Pro, available as a factory-fitted option.

A full suite of riding aids comes with the S1000XR, including Hill Start Control Pro, four ride modes and Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) which also provides wheelie control. Optional extras include cruise control, adaptive turning lights and HP Shift Assistant Pro quickshifter.

The 2020 BMW Motorrad S1000XR comes in two colour options – Ice Grey and Racing Red/White Aluminium as well as an extensive accessories catalogue. The S1000XR will be available in Malaysian BMW Motorrad dealers from July.

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Mugello in current F1 cars would be ‘insane’ – Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo reckons Formula 1’s current cars around Mugello will be “insane” – with the Italian venue set to get the nod for a second race in Italy this year.

With F1 chiefs looking likely to expand the European season in September, there are mounting indications that the Ferrari-owned Mugello circuit will be allowed to hold a race on September 13, one week after Monza.

That would nicely coincide with Ferrari’s 1000th world championship grand prix .

The elevation changes and high-speed nature of Mugello have made it a favourite for fans and drivers, and Ricciardo says his previous experience of the track from a test in 2012 has left him relishing the chance of a return.

“That was a circuit I raced back in 2007 [in Formula Renault Italy], for the first time, and it was my favourite circuit that season,” explained Ricciardo.

“I loved just the flowing high speed corners and I think in F1, it would be amazing. We had a test there, I think it was back in 2012, in F1.

“But, you know, the cars now, these 2020 cars around there, would be insane! So yeah, I’m certainly excited if that one takes place.”

As well as Mugello being in the frame to get a grand prix, the Portuguese Portimao track has also emerged as a contender.

Ricciardo reckons that the Algarve track would be great for F1 too, having had experience of the track when he clinched the British F3 title there in 2009.

“I actually have good memories of Portimao,” he explained. “It was where I wrapped up the F3 championship.

“It was a circuit I really enjoyed: some good elevation and again quite good flowing fast corners. So, yeah, I’m not disappointed if any of these go ahead at all. I would be very excited.”

Ricciardo’s teammate Esteban Ocon says he has already been learning the Portimao line-up on his home simulator, as he welcomed the addition of new tracks to the 2020 calendar.

“I love the old school circuits like Mugello or Imola,” said the Frenchman. “That was a track I raced not so long ago as well in F3. I still have to learn Portimao.

“I’ve done a lot of laps, obviously on my home sim, which was good. But yeah, I’m happy to do a lot of races. And if that’s the way we can do more more in the future, then it’s fantastic.”

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