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Toyota Mirai billboards scrub nitrogen oxides while touting hydrogen fuel-cell sedan

Toyota Mirai emissions-scrubbing billboardIf green cars can reduce emissions, why shouldn’t their advertising do the same? That’s the theory behind a series of billboards in relevant California markets that advertise the Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell sedan. But these billboards will do more than try to attract the eyes of potential customers stuck in traffic on the highways below their…

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Chinese Tech Giant Tencent Buys 5 Percent of Tesla

Tesla has gained significant financial backing by way of a 5-percent investment by Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings.

The company’s $1.78 billion stake in the electric automaker, or about 8.2 million shares makes it Tesla’s fifth-largest shareholder. The first four largest shareholders consist of CEO Elon Musk and investment companies Fidelity, Baillie Gifford, and T. Rowe Price.

Along with needing more cash flow for its Model 3 launch later this year, Tesla can tap into these resources for expanding into important overseas markets like China.

In a U.S. regulatory filing from early March, Tesla reported making more than $1 billion in revenue in China last year. That made for more than 15 percent of Tesla’s revenue last year of over $7 billion.

CEO Elon Musk had said China will someday become Tesla’s largest market.

Tencent has been investing in Chinese electric vehicle manufacturing startups. One of these, NextEV, also has a U.S. office in San Jose, Calif., near Tesla’s Palo Alto headquarters.

Like Tesla, NextEV has a presence in testing out self-driving cars in California.

SEE ALSO:  Tesla Sees Over $1 Billion In China Sales Revenue Last Year

NextEV, which has rebranded itself as Nio and is based in Shanghai, has also found another major investor lately through Chinese search engine giant Baidu.

Tencent has backed at least two other Chinese EV startups, including Future Mobility. Like Nio/NextEV, Future Mobility is working on self-driving EVs. The startup said the first one could be introduced by 2020.

Beyond EV makers, Tencent has put money in Didi Chuxing, the world’s second largest ride-hailing company after Uber. The company has also invested in Lyft, Uber’s chief rival in the U.S.

Tesla earlier this month had already raised about $1.2 billion by selling common shares and convertible debt.

Automotive News

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2018 Nissan Leaf spy shots, BMW electric-car confidence, Honda charging experiment: Today's Car News

2017 Nissan Leaf  Today, we have more spy shots of the 2018 Nissan Leaf, BMW’s CEO expresses an optimistic opinion about the future of electric cars, and Honda experiments with an unorthodox charging system. All this and more on Green Car Reports. New billboards in California not only advertise the Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell car, but also scrub nitrogen oxide…

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California Disregards Trump and Moves Ahead With Emissions Goals

California has approved emissions standards that the White House still wants to review.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) finalized 2022-2025 emissions rules for the state and also set a mandate for zero-emission sales over the same time period. CARB has also ordered its workers to start on determining targets for beyond 2025.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently said that it would reconsider the 2022-2025 tailpipe emissions targets just last week, but California is moving forwards anyways

The move could prove to be problematic if federal regulators decide to go in a different direction, since about a dozen states follow California’s car regulations in full or part. Not only could different targets be an issue for automakers, but consumers as well.

SEE ALSO: Auto Analysts See Fuel Efficiency Moving Forward Regardless of White House Decision

After Trump’s election but prior to him taking office, the Obama administration rushed to finalize the federal standards, but automakers said there was not enough time for consideration. Since then, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said it would reconsider the 2022-2025 targets after automakers requested a review.

A White House official told Reuters the Trump administration was committed to protecting jobs and providing consumers with affordable cars. U.S. and California regulators projected that stricter pollution controls could add about $1,000 to the cost of each car sold in 2025, with mileage increasing from 38.3 mpg in model year 2021 to 46.3 for model year 2025.

Reuters

This article originally appeared at AutoGuide.com

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Uber and Lyft Face Tougher Competitors Than Taxis: Automakers

As the taxi industry continues being decimated by Uber and Lyft ride-hailing and ridesharing services, these and other mobility companies will begin seeing a wave of competition coming from automakers jumping into the race.

Taxi and black-car operators have been sideswiped by Uber and Lyft in recent years as riders get to pay about half the taxi fare, tap into on-demand pickup from their mobile device, and have a much more user friendly and likeable experience. That’s been especially the case for younger riders in their 20s and 30s who don’t see the point in following the previous taxi-ride tradition.

Last year saw a wave of acquisitions and investment from global automakers entering the shared mobility space, and preparing for the autonomous rides of the future. The possibility of providing robo-taxis was one of the potential services being discussed as automakers reinvent themselves from vehicle manufacturers to mobility service providers.

Daimler, Ford, General Motors, and Volkswagen proved how serious they are about it. Much of that has come through acquisitions including VW launching its Moia mobility service division, and GM starting up Maven carsharing and investing in Lyft.

Market analysts warn Uber that getting into shared, automated rides could be undercut by automakers experienced in starting new divisions with the capital needed to back it up. Automakers investing in carsharing and ridesharing fleets could have the upper hand.

“Uber has to undergo a transition as large as OEMs,” said James Hodgson, an analyst with ABI Research.

Daimler has been in the market for years through its Car2Go carsharing subsidiary. The German automaker has gone through highs and lows with Car2Go, after entering a market niche it had had no experience with prior. It now serves over two million members worldwide.

Daimler, through Car2Go, has the experience to issue a wake-up call to Uber, Lyft, and other mobility startups.

“It doesn’t happen overnight,” said Paul DeLong, CEO of Car2Go. “There’s significant investment [in] maintenance, repair, fuel, parking cost. It comes down to utilization. We want to get people to use our cars multiple times in the day.”

Automakers have paid serious attention to the intensive growth and interest out there in Uber and Lyft – and in autonomous driving.

SEE ALSO:  Uber To Open Self-Driving Research Center In Michigan

Uber has been quite serious about testing autonomous vehicles, experiencing its first crash Friday night in Tempe, Ariz. The company has also entered autonomous trucking through its Otto acquisition last year; that acquisition has been at the heart of a lawsuit from Google’s Waymo company based on accusations that Uber stole Waymo’s intellectual property on self-driving vehicles.

Last July in his “Master Plan, Part Deux” blog post, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that his company will be getting into the game. Tesla will be rolling out a shared fleet program that enables Tesla owners with fully autonomous cars to make income through renting out their electric vehicle to customers needed a ride.

GM is tapping into a similar revenue stream through its Express Drive rental car program. Lyft drivers can rent GM vehicles that include insurance and maintenance in the rental cost.

With GM and Lyft working together to test out self-driving all-electric Chevy Bolts, perhaps Lyft drivers will one day have that option to try out through Express Drive.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles entered the space last year through its partnership with Waymo. FCA will provide the Chrysler Pacifica; Waymo will automate the self-driving minivans and may offer a mobility service with the vehicle.

Automotive News

 

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Elon Musk Adds Details On What To Expect From Model 3

A year after the introduction of the prototype Model 3, Tesla CEO Elon Musk took to his medium of choice, Twitter, to share more details on the pending production version.

Due in just three months in July, the Model 3 is the arguably biggest news for electric cars going, and may even be this year’s biggest news among all cars overall.

You’ve probably heard the baseline specs by now: A cool car starting at $35,000 (plus potential delivery fee), range at least 215 miles, larger battery optional and all-wheel-drive optional, Autopilot, trickle-down tech from Model S, and did we mention it was going to be cool?

To date, the only car with similar range and price is the Chevy Bolt which began sales last October in California and Oregon. That FWD compact crossover that was developed in response to Tesla’s planned 3 will continue to roll out to the rest of the country through September.

Musk has said there will be a second reveal prior to the first Model 3s being delivered, but meanwhile here are some of the details revealed.

Details

Although the Model 3 will be all new, as a price leader it will not introduce new technology ahead of the upscale Model S and X.

The front end design now looks a bit like a Panamera, now with cameras for Autopilot, but the newness will be under the skin. Specifically, technology is devoted to design and production of the car, but it won’t have anything “majorly new that a consumer would notice.”

The Model 3 also will skip a basic process that new car manufacturers normally go through, and that is beta testing. Or rather, Tesla will sell initial cars to employees who will act as beta testers in the interest of getting the car out sooner.

If something does go awry, well, they can just drive it to work and get the fix or update and Tesla will refine the car as needed on the fly.

Also perhaps a bit unexpected is all-wheel drive is not due until next year. Some had speculated that the top-shelf AWD models would come first along with bigger batteries as those would be most profitable and that pattern was seen for Model S and Model S.

Here also the move was made to expedite the roll-out.

Musk mentioned the Model S came first in RWD, and that’s true – in fact the “D” was a reveal that came unexpectedly later – but otherwise the most-expensive Signature S models were delivered first in 2012.

Also of note is the battery capacity size is limited to 75 kWh due to its shorter wheelbase than the Model S and X. Those cars Tesla has managed to squeeze a 100 kWh battery option into, but they are heavier, so we shall see how much range the 75 gets.

One person asked Musk if the Model 3 will have more range than the Bolt.

The Bolt, less aerodynamic than the 3, is EPA rated 238 miles from a 60 kWh battery. The base Model 3 is expected to have a smaller battery than that and deliver at least 215 miles, and obviously the larger battery options will exceed the Bolt’s range.

Not necessarily news, but reiterated, is the Model 3 is to be competitive with a BMW 3 series or Audi A4. “Model S is like BMW 5 and 6 series, but much faster, more storage space + Autopilot,” Musk said.

Notable also while some have worried the sedan’s trunk will be tiny, Musk said it will be big enough to fit a large cooler, without specifying cubic feet.

When asked if the Model 3 will have a head-up display, the implication was no, but it won’t need it either.

Musk has previously suggested fully autonomous cars could also even pay for themselves by doing duty as for-hire carsharing vehicles. That is, in this futuristic scenario, a person could own and drive a Model 3 (or other Tesla) and when it was not in use by the owner, the self-driving car could be out driving others around who pay for the service.

For the UK and other markets where right-hand-drive is the nom, this will be delayed to summer 2018.

Whether people who are eagerly waiting for the spiffy new EV would be willing to risk strangers nicking, scratching, scuffing, and dirtying their pride and joy is another question, but the idea has been floated nonetheless.

This scenario will be available for the Model Y crossover expected to be built on the Model 3’s platform.

When that will be built is not known, it’s at least “a few years away,” but if anyone thinks people willing to let out their Model 3 so it can pay its way is a wild scenario, so is the projected production ramp up.

Musk said he is telling suppliers that he needs componentry for “1,000 cars a week in July, 2,000 a week in August, and 4,000 a week in September.”

By year’s end, the production rate is projected at an ambitious 5,000 per week, 10,000 weekly by 2018’s end – or about five-times the production rate it now has for Model S and X.

This is enough to add to around 430,000 Model 3s by end of 2018 and for that same year, Musk says it can build a half a million cars in total, counting its other models.

This is quite the jump from fewer than 100,000 built worldwide last year, and no carmaker has ever ramped up at that rate.

In any case, this also implies the Model 3 will have to be quite special as it is hinted that it will be. It will also need to be successful without too many hiccups or glitches.

Tesla has a history of coming late to market, and it saw some issues such as failing drive units in Model S, and a laundry list of bugs in the Model X, so it has certainly set a tall bill for itself to fill.

Due in July, the Model 3 stands to make waves like no other car before it, and eyes will be on what else is revealed between now and then.

Twitter

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