Chinese EV "Nio" Wants to revolutionize the future

Chinese EV "Nio" Wants to revolutionize the future

Redesign the EV from the inside out

The company believes that electric vehicles of the future will be "computers on wheels." Like so many electric vehicle companies of today, Nio believes that fully integrated self-driving technology is the way forward. Indeed the company is set to launch a level two autonomous electric vehicle in 2018 in the shape of the seven seaters Nio ES8. This EV will be used to obtain as much information as possible about autonomous driving in the hope that a fully autonomous vehicle will be available by 2020.

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Formula E starting to have impact on electric car market

Formula E starting to have impact on electric car market
Formula E starting to have impact on electric car market

When serial entrepreneur Richard Branson suggested this week that all vehicles will be electricly powered by 2030, he was ridiculed in some quarters. While this may be something of an ambitious target, going from 0.1% of total car sales up to 100% in just 15 years, he does have some knowledge of developments in the industry which the public may not be aware of.

It is worth noting that he was talking at the London ePrix, which is a showcase race for the Formula E calendar. Richard Branson has his own team, DS Virgin Racing, and is well aware of the fact that the new technology being introduced to racing cars will eventually find its way onto the public highways.

Is Formula E really having an impact?

Formula E has now been going since 2014 and while there were a number of false dawns over the years it is continuing to grow in popularity and is attracting enormous investment and a growing number of teams who want to participate. Even from a distance, the fact that Formula E is grabbing vital press headlines is great for the industry as a whole and will make the wider public more aware of electric travel options.

The number of races on the Formula E calendar could become slightly cluttered with an array of countries now desperate to get involved.

New technology

If you look at Formula One you will see that much of the technology used over the years on F1 racing cars has often been transferred to the public domain. What we now see as simple things such as regenerative braking systems are more commonplace, but did you know that this technology emerged on the race track?

While Richard Branson’s suggestion that all cars will be electric by 2030 grabbed the headlines, it is also worth noting that he believes ongoing and future technology improvements to Formula E will make a massive difference to the industry. This sport has become something of a test arena for new ideas, new technology, and (most importantly), significant research and development investment. This investment will only grow as time goes on and if all of the positive lessons from F1 can be translated to Formula E, then the introduction of innovative technology should take far less than it did from the F1 test arena.

Is Formula E the finished article?

While there is no doubt that Formula E continues to grow in popularity there is also no doubt that further development and changes will be needed to increase general exposure. Fairly basic areas such as the sound emitted by Formula E racing cars and “refuelling” activities could be “jazzed up” to make the sport more appealing to the wider public. However, it is worth noting that these elements are more cosmetic as opposed to radical changes and more targeted towards giving the general public more enjoyment.

Conclusion

Whether or not Richard Branson is correct with his suggestion that all cars will be electric by 2030 remains to be seen but the more exposure for formula E and electric cars in general the better for the industry going forward. It is easy to forget we have seen some monumental developments in electric car technology in recent times and there is much more to come. The EV market that we see today will be very different next year, in five years, and the following decade will likely be almost unrecognisable. Strap yourself in and get ready for the ride of your life!

UK government extremely keen on autonomous vehicles

UK government extremely keen on autonomous vehicles
UK government extremely keen on autonomous vehicles

While the political environment in the UK is "volatile" to say the least, the same cannot be said of the U.K.'s appetite for autonomous vehicles. So far, the government has put forward tens of millions of pounds in funding to assist companies looking into research and development in this area. Indeed the concept of autonomous vehicles on the roads of the UK was also mentioned in the recent Queen’s speech, clearing a passage for various law changes and new regulations. It will surprise many to learn that autonomous vehicles in the UK are much closer than you might expect and it could be just a matter of months - as opposed to years, before they are allowed on the UK transport network.

Is the technology good enough?

Whether you are in favour of autonomous vehicles are not, there is no doubt that the technology associated with self-driving vehicles is there for all to see. We only need to look across the pond to see the likes of Tesla Motors, which has introduced its own form of autonomous driving to the roads of the U.S. Critics will highlight a recent death which was connected with an autonomous Tesla vehicle but the company has made numerous responses to these allegations, most of which revolve around the fact drivers are still advised to keep an eye on the road and their vehicle. While of no benefit to those who have suffered from autonomous vehicle crashes the fact remains that autonomous vehicles could save literally hundreds of thousands of lives in the U.S. and across the world. The technology is here and it is working and while there may need to be more tweaks, the idea of autonomous cars will not go away.

Laws and regulations

The UK government is currently pushing through a number of amendments to transport laws and regulations which will allow the use of autonomous vehicles in the UK. They should be fairly straightforward but one area which has caused some controversy is insurance for autonomous vehicles. Surprisingly, the UK government has been fairly sensible in its approach to the area of insurance stating: 

If the driver of an autonomous vehicle is deemed negligent then they will be responsible for any associated costs, if this is the fault of the vehicle manufacturer then the insurer and the manufacturer will share the liability. It may prove difficult to put these suggestions into practice in the early days but they do make perfect sense and will likely pave the way for the short term introduction of autonomous vehicles.

Progress but more to do

There has been great progress in the areas of technology, road regulations and potential changes to the insurance industry; but make no mistake about it there is still much work to be done. One area which has hardly been touched yet is that of the court of public opinion which is very sceptical of autonomous vehicles and the recent accident in the U.S. involving the Tesla autonomous system does not help. If the UK authorities are able to push through the various law and regulatory changes and research and development funding is maintained, then the UK could actually become a competitor to the U.S. market which has stolen a march in the area of self-driving/autonomous vehicles. Let the battle commence!

International Energy Agency targets 100 million electric cars by 2030

International Energy Agency targets 100 million electric cars by 2030
International Energy Agency targets 100 million electric cars by 2030

The International Energy Agency (IEA) is trying to put 100 million electric cars on the roads by 2030 in order to avoid potentially damaging global warming. When you bear in mind that just 1.26 million electric cars were sold worldwide in 2015 is this out of the question or a possibility?

Demand for electric vehicles increasing

It is very easy to underestimate demand for electric vehicles especially with there being only a few hundred on the roads back in 2008. However, the number sold in 2015 was more than three times the amount sold in 2013, which bodes well for the future. There are in excess of 1 billion vehicles on the road today and increasing the number of electric vehicles to around 10% will be challenging.

If the number of electric vehicles on the road was to triple every two years, then the target of 100 million vehicles by 2030 would be well within reach. However, while the number of electric vehicles available to general public will increase dramatically in the short, medium, and longer term, it is nigh on impossible to maintain the recent rate of sales growth.

Governments need to push

Each and every government around the world needs to make a significant push in the area of electric vehicle sales, including using electric vehicles as standard for various public services and also educating the wider public on the benefits of EV travel. While the likes of the US and Europe continue to figure prominently in the electric vehicle market it will likely be down to the Indian and Chinese governments to play their part in the longer term.

We all know about the enormous populations in India and China and the fact these governments are very influential in a whole host of different areas. Experts predict a significant increase in the number of traditional vehicle sales across India and China but if the authorities were to increase their push towards electric vehicles, what kind of impact would this have?

Momentum is growing

If you look back to 2008 and the fact there were just a few hundred electric cars on the roads, an increase in sales to 1.26 million in 2015 is very impressive. What is also encouraging is that many experts are disappointed at the 1.26 million sales number in 2015 - as are many manufacturers. The likes of Nissan have been waxing lyrical about their hopes for electric vehicles in the short, medium, and longer term, as have many others.

One element of the electric vehicle market which is often overlooked is the growing competition amongst manufacturers. Even though Tesla Motors has been grabbing the headlines of late they are now under pressure from Mercedes-Benz, BMW, General Motors, Nissan and many other well-known manufacturers. In the future we will look back at this period of growth in electric vehicle travel as perhaps the turning point the industry has been waiting for.

Tesla Motors may have broken new ground for the electric vehicle market but competition is heating up and they are not far behind!

Sceptical of electric cars? Have you ever driven one?

Are all electric vehicle drivers thinking of the environment?
Are all electric vehicle drivers thinking of the environment?

Survey after survey confirms that while a significant number of motorists are still sceptical of electric cars, many of them have never even driven one. Despite the fact that electric car companies up and down the UK, and around the world have an array of offers to test drive electric vehicles, why don’t more people take them up on this?

What is the real concern of those looking at electric cars but are too sceptical to take the plunge?

The unknown

Even though electric cars have been around for many years now, it is only over the last few years that they have hit the big time. Tesla Motors has finally released its promised mass-market affordable car in the shape of the Tesla Model 3 with the first car to be delivered in 2017. While there is no doubt that Tesla Motors has given the industry an enormous push over the last few years, what more can be done?

In many ways traditional motorists need to be “educated” on the benefits of electric cars and exactly how they work. We need to see information which compares and contrasts electric cars with their fossil fuel counterparts - taking in everything from fuel costs, to running costs.

Journey anxiety

Did you know that journey anxiety is only an issue with those who have never driven an electric car? Those who have decided to take the plunge have been waxing lyrical about the ever-growing number of charging stations and the ability to charge from home. A number of governments around the world are also incentivizing businesses to introduce electric car charging points with an array of tax breaks now available.

So why is it only those who have never driven an electric car who have any form of journey anxiety?

The average electric car is now doing well over 100 miles before recharging and more are being made now breaking the 200 mile barrier. When you bear in mind that the average motorist will travel less than 80 miles in any one day, you do begin to wonder why there is so much range anxiety?

Is the car industry really supporting electric vehicles?

You have to question whether the general car industry is actually behind electric vehicles because the benefits are in many cases overshadowed by perceived issues - such as journey anxiety - which, in reality, is an irrelevance. We only need to look at Tesla in the U.S. and it's quest to sell directly to consumers to see what stands in the way of the industry going forward. Governments are often seen only paying lip service to the industry (although to be fair billions of dollars have been invested) but more has to be done.

If these vehicles are as good as the manufacturers promise, and consumers have confirmed, then why are public sector workers around the world not making more use of electric vehicles. If we were to see local authorities using electric vehicles on a regular basis then many people would be more familiar with this form of travel and its benefits. It also makes perfect sense when you think about how much the governments around the world have invested in the industry, but for some reason they seem reluctant to really push electric cars?

It will be interesting to see how the industry develops because it has most certainly gone past the point of no return. Technology is improving at a lightning quick pace, prices are coming down, and journey capacity is forever being extended. What's next for the electric car industry?