At 5-10% penetration, new tech takes off. EVs are around the corner

Electric Cars Are About To Absolutely Demolish Gasmobiles, Clean Technica, February 23rd, 2019 by   

We have other, much longer, much more detailed articles coming about this, and I have to recommend those over this one. But there’s also something useful about a short, simple message.

Kia Niro EVWhile editing Nicolas Zart’s review of the Kia Niro EV, one line jumped out at me and triggered this story.

“From Oct 2014 (first Soul EV launch) to Jan 2019, a little less than four years, the range has advanced from 93 miles to 239 miles (2.6×), and the battery energy density increased by +25%, while battery weight increased only 1.6x (640 lb to 1008 lb),” Steven Kosowski, Kia’s Long Range Strategy & Planning Manager, said.

This is something that those of us who have been following electric cars for years understand well, and understand is key to electric vehicles being disruptive tech, but we also get a little complacent to the progress and what is around the corner.

Side note: The old “boiling frog” metaphor comes to mind, but in a positive way this time. However, as a brief side note, that metaphor is a little screwed up. The original studies (and all subsequent studies) regarding frogs in boiling water found that frogs with brains jumped out of the water when it got too hot, whereas frogs that had their brains removed (don’t ask) did not jump out of the boiling water and thus died (or were murdered, depending on how you look at it). In any case, the point as it relates to the famous metaphor should be that, as long as you use your brain, you should be able to notice dangerous changes to your atmosphere even if they come about slowly. … But back to electric vehicle disruption for now.

If you have a 71 mile BMW i3 (like we do), or a 84 mile Nissan LEAF, or a 62 mile Mitsubishi i-MiEV, you think about range quite a bit. You may not be plagued with range anxiety — that’s actually quite rare for people who actually own electric cars — but you plan a lot and are sure to charge often. Seeing range for the new versions of the i3, LEAF, and similar electric cars jump to 110 miles, 130 miles, 150 miles, etc. is a clear indicator the technology is improving fast and becoming much more acceptable for mainstream buyers.

Well, you of course don’t have to own an electric car to see that — you just have to pay attention to EV news and use your brain.

But we have a funny quirk regarding change. We can see such progress happening, yet we have a hard time recognizing what it’s going to mean tomorrow, or next year, or in three years.

As I’ve noted in presentations in Indiathe UAEEuropethe US, and Canada, we get accustomed to “slow” growth of a new technology up to a certain inflection point, and then we are surprised when that technology hits that inflection point and market adoption shoots upward. Here’s a simple visual if you don’t want to watch those full presentations:

As you can see, up to around 5–10% market adoption, growth typically looks pretty good but not disruptive. However, at around 5–10% market adoption, a certain mix of tech benefits and affordability arrive and the adoption shoots up. Word of mouth is a huge factor as well. (Again, watch one of my presentations for more on that.)

In the case of electric vehicles, the growth in sales we’ve been seeing may seem strong to some people while it seems weak to others (glass half full/empty kind of stuff). The more important point is that it’s going to jump on a trampoline soon, or shoot off like a rocket — choose your favorite metaphor.

The Kia Soul EV’s progress from 93 miles to 239 miles (2.6×) from 2014 to 2019 is just one example of many of how EVs are becoming more competitive. In the next 5 years, energy density and battery costs will continue to improve. EVs like the Kia Soul EVKia Niro EVHyundai Kona EV, and Tesla Model 3* can watch their driving range improve while costs remain the same or can watch their costs drop while range remains the same — or there can be some combo of improvements in range and price. Either way, the vehicles get more and more competitive.

At some point, these cars and others will have as much range as any sane human can want and also a lower total cost of ownership compared to any gas cars in their classes. (Well, the Model 3 is already at that point in the class it competes in and some other EVs are arguably there in certain national or regional markets.) The next step of the journey is: as much range as any sane human could want will be combined with a lower upfront price than a comparable gasmobile as well as lower operational costs. At that point, you basically will have to be a brainless frog to not switch to an EV, and any automakers not working on a 100% electric future will have to be even more out of touch with the world around them.

This may still seem like it’s far off, considering that, for example, the base price of a Hyundai Kona is $19,990 and the price of a Hyundai Kona EV before incentives is $36,450, but also note that the higher-trim versions of the gasoline Kona start at $25,550 and $27,550 and the Kona EV is packed with goodies. More importantly, note that the Tesla Model 3 smokes the pants off of every car in its class in several key metrics. The Model Y, when it comes out, will similarly crush the gasoline/diesel competition in its small/midsize luxury crossover class.

The electric car that is arguably kickstarting the inflection point in auto market disruption is already here, and the sales show it. The only thing is that we need more EV models in a bunch of vehicle classes to reach that point in order to get to the key 5–10% marker and beyond.

Well, this article was supposed to be short, but the simple point is that as EV/battery technology marches on, as energy density and $/kWh improve, we get closer and closer to that technological crossover, that point where you have to be in a truly odd case to choose a gasoline or diesel car over an electric one. Instead of electric cars having numerous benefits but being more expensive, they will have numerous benefits but be cheaper.

The last point some of the more pessimistic among us might want to bring up is that battery supply will limit rapid adoption. It’s possible, but consider this: Automakers understand what’s coming. Auto execs have to be beyond stupid to not see that electric vehicles are the future. Any automakers eager to grow their market share will do whatever they can to lead on electric vehicles and have the battery supply they need to sell millions of cars a year. With the automakers fighting to grow rather than lose market share, battery producers and their suppliers will get their production capacities up to desired levels. With strong demand (which is already appearing), the batteries will come, because no industry players will want to be left out of this growth boom.


US Approves Chinese Electric Cars Imported From Kandi — Price For One Supposed To Be Below $20,000

February 22nd, 2019 by 

US NHTSA Approves 2 Kandi Electric CarsKandi EV EX3

The Chinese electric car manufacturer Kandi must be seeing the Chinese new year auspiciously. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) approved two of its cars for US sales.

The NHTSA approved the Model EX3 and Model K22according to the company. We published expectations of this news back in August 2018. “Kandi Technologies Group announced recently that it has formed a partnership with Sportsman Country, a distributor of ATVs located in Dallas, Texas,” Steve Hanley wrote at the time. “Together, the companies will market two electric cars with the Kandi brand in America — the K22 subcompact and the EX3 compact SUV. Starting price of the K22 will be less than $20,000. Pricing for the EX3 has not been announced.”

Kandi Share Price Rises 40%

Kandi EV K22

The news, unsurprisingly, sent Kandi’s stock up 35% on Wednesday.

Kandi EV K22 InteriorKandi Technologies Group and Geely Auto years ago formed a joint venture to work on and sell electric vehicles (EVs) together. Tens of thousands of their EVs have been sold in China since then. However, these were much smaller cars than Americans are used to and you could even get them via “vending machines.”

Although the new models won’t compete with the Tesla Model 3, the Kandi EVs are meant for a more American driving experience (though, one is still tiny). Kandi’s CEO Hu Xiaoming was quick to get the US-focused messaging rolling by saying:

“With this, we are confident in introducing our reliable vehicles to the American public. We believe both the EX3 and K22 are competitive in price and quality with advanced tech features that are in demand by American consumers.”

Kandi EV K22 InteriorThe Kandi K22 is a cheerful Smart ED look-alike. It sports modest performance, ideal for city-dwellers. The Chinese market specs are 990 kilos (2,183 lb), the EV sports a 25.9 kWh battery pack coupled to an electric motor pushing out 35kW (~47 HP) with 165 Nm (121.6 lb·ft) of torque for a range of 202 km (125.5 miles).

The other Kandi is the EX3. Its Chinese market specs are 49 kW (65.71 HP) and 175 Nm (129.07 lb·ft) of torque for a range of 380 km (~236 miles).

Does The Kandi EV Approval Mean The US & Chinese Trade War Is Over?

Kandi EV EX3 interiorOverall, Kandi Technologies Group offers 5 EVs ranging from the above-mentioned K22 to a sub-compact K27, the compact EX3 mentioned in this article, a larger K17A, and the K12, which looks like the K22. While Kandi might not win the Automobile Naming Association’s imagination award of the year, the price might.

Kandi says it will sell the K22 at below $20,000 before subsidy. It could become the first Chinese subcompact EV sold in the US.

According to the latest political news, the US says there is a warming up in the tariff war between Donald Trump’s administration (and thus the entire US) and China. This is good news since, usually, the consumer ends up paying the price for those trade wars.

Tags: Kia Niro EV Review — With 240 Miles Of

Range, IRepeat: There Is No More Excuse To Not Own An Electric Car

February 22nd, 2019 by 

CleanTechnica spent time behind the wheel of the Kia Niro EV for two days in Santa Cruz, California. I walked away feeling that, finally, we have no more excuses to not own an electric vehicle (EV).

Carmakers must really feel the heat when it comes to EVs lately. Kia started working on its Niro concept in 2014. Today, it has a hybrid version and, for those on the fence about going electric, a plug-in hybrid (PHEV). It also has a pure EV, which is what most of our readers care to learn more about. The key number speaks for itself — 240 miles of range. But beyond the range, this crossover is far more fun to drive than its internal combustion engine (ICE) counterparts. So, what reasons can you find to buy a new gasoline car these days?

(Editor’s note: Well, there’s still one reason: The Kia Niro FE has a starting MSRP of $23,490, the Kia Niro LX $23,900, the Kia Niro EX $26,400, the Kia Niro S Touring $28,800, the Kia Niro Touring $32,250, and the Kia Niro EV’s price is likely to start around $37,000. With the $7,500 — if you can use it — that could be brought down to under $30,000, but that’s still considerably more than the lower priced trims. Many buyers simply can’t add $30,000+ to their budget for a people mover. It’s a shame, though, since electric vehicles can cut operational costs a great deal and save people in the long term, and it would be most beneficial to help the less wealthy get those savings. On the other hand, you can now get wicked good deals on used electric cars. So, there are ways to go electric on a budget, too — just not yet with 250+ miles of electric range.)

When I met Steve Kosowski, Kia’s Long Range Strategy & Planning Manager, it was obvious Kia is betting a lot on the Niro EV. Both he and Garrett Ono, Kia Product Strategy and Regulatory Compliance Manager, are very enthusiastic about the car, its future, and the role it plays at the company. Rightfully so — the Kia Niro EV is a winner according to the many journalists gathered to test drive the car. Notably, it was also a finalist in the 2019 CleanTechnica Car of the Year competition. The voters ended up giving the gold medal to the Hyundai Kona EV, but the Niro EV got the silver.

Stay tuned for an interview with both Garrett and Steve, as well as a longer test drive.

The Niro EV test drive was unique to me. After test driving EVs for 11 years, this was one of those rare times when range and charging weren’t on my mind. The first time it happened was also with a Kia, the Soul EV. The second time was with the Hyundai Kona EV, which shares the same platform as the Kia Soul EV. Stay tuned for more on that.

With 240 miles of range, the Kia Niro EV has enough range for a two-day stint. But the best features are the standardized wireless phone charging, auto-regen, anti-creep forward, and a few other things available across the Kia Niro lineup.

According to Steven Kosowski:

“Niro EV is a milestone vehicle for Kia and the Industry. It is the first mainstream EV crossover with real usable range — 239-miles — in a desirable design/style with a useful package, at an affordable price.”

Steve also talks about the fast pace of development at Kia:

“From Oct 2014 (first Soul EV launch) to Jan 2019, a little less than four years, the range has advanced from 93 miles to 239 miles (2.6×), and the battery energy density increased by +25%, while battery weight increased only 1.6x (640 lb to 1008 lb). Truly remarkable advancements in a short timeframe, and they align quite well with market/customer needs globally.”

Long trips in a Niro EV would be comfortable. The adaptive cruise control with the adaptive auto-regen means you drive the car with the steering wheel only. The lane keeping feature keeps the Niro EV well in its lane, but don’t take your hands off the steering wheel — it will remind you by beeping and, eventually, stopping. Can we call it autonomous level 2.5?

Kia Niro EV, Final Thoughts

A decade of EV progression is leaving gas/diesel technology in the dust. It also makes the idea of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles difficult to grasp for daily commuting. Kia does a great job at presenting a compelling lineup of “alternative energy” vehicles and has no qualms putting its EVs center stage at auto shows. The official price for the Niro EV will be revealed next week, but I’m told it will be similar to other EVs with its range and capacity.

The final conclusion: the Kia Niro EV is a clear winner.

 Nicolas was born and raised around classic cars of the 1920s, but it wasn’t until he drove an AC Propulsion eBox and a Tesla Roadster that the light went on. Ever since he has produced green mobility content on various CleanTech outlets since 2007 and found his home on CleanTechnica. His  passion ld to cover electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, renewable energy, test drives, podcasts, shoot pictures, and film for various international outlets in print and online. Nicolas offers an in-depth look at the e-mobility world through interviews and the many contacts he has forged in those industries. His favorite taglines are: “There are more solutions than obstacles.” and “Yesterday’s Future Now”