The auto industry’s push into electric vehicles has gained traction this year with sales of these models growing at a faster clip than the broader U.S. car business.
While still a sliver of the overall market, sales of plug-in vehicles more than doubled in the first half of 2021 compared with last year, when the pandemic sapped sales. That far outpaced the 29% rise for total vehicle sales, according to research firm Wards Intelligence.
The biggest factor driving the gains was
continued dominance in electrics. Tesla’s U.S. sales rose 78% through June this year, according to an estimate from research firm Motor Intelligence. The increase was helped by Tesla’s Model Y crossover SUV, which has quickly become the company’s top seller since being introduced last year. Tesla is scheduled to report second-quarter financial results Monday.
Other new offerings from traditional auto makers, such as
Ford Motor Co.
’s Mustang Mach-E SUV and
ID.4, also helped push sales of plug-in electric vehicles to over 3% of the total U.S. market in May and June, the highest ever recorded, according to industry data.
Auto companies collectively are spending $330 billion over the next five years to bring more plug-in models to showrooms, according to consulting firm AlixPartners LLP.
Now, the big question looming over the car business is whether consumers are ready to buy them.
Longer driving ranges and a wider variety of body styles and price points are helping garner interest in plug-in cars from more car shoppers, dealers and analysts say. But hurdles remain, including higher sticker prices and a deficit of places to charge them.
Auto executives in recent months have said they believe consumer interest in the technology is rising and should help speed the transition.
In the U.S. market—which lags behind Europe and China in electric-vehicle adoption—executives also are encouraged by the Biden administration’s plans to support plug-in cars through charging-station investment and consumer incentives.
chief executive of global auto maker
NV, said the pace at which drivers make the switch to electrics will depend on regulations and consumer awareness.
“The more the public opinion becomes sensitive to the global-warming issue and how to fix it, the more we can expect a very strong acceleration,” Mr. Tavares said to journalists this week.
Stellantis, which owns Jeep, Ram and other auto brands, recently joined other global auto makers in outlining big investment plans for electric cars and battery plants.
General Motors Co.
, Ford and
each have said they are earmarking tens of billions of dollars on the transition during this decade.
said it is preparing to sell only electrics by 2030 but would respond to market demands.
“The EV shift is picking up speed, especially in the luxury segment,”
The myriad emerging and longer-term transportation technologies promise to change how people and packages move about the world or within their own neighborhoods. They also present myriad regulatory and policy hurdles that lawmakers, advocates and even investors and industry executives are attempting to navigate.
At the center — at least in the United States — sits Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. The small-town mayor in Indiana turned presidential candidate and now cabinet member under the Biden administration oversees public transport, highway safety and nascent technologies like autonomous vehicles. The Harvard graduate, Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University and former U.S. Navy officer is in a position to bring complexity or clarity to the future of transportation.
At Disrupt 2021, Secretary Buttigieg will join us for a fireside chat where we’ll dig into some of the thorniest questions around transportation and how to ensure that moving from Point A to Point B is a universal right, not a privilege. We’ll ask Buttigieg about micromobility and public transit, President Biden’s push for the federal government to use electric vehicles, autonomous vehicle guidance and new regulatory requirements around reporting vehicle crashes when an advanced driver assistance and automated driving system is engaged — a move that could spur a new wave of startups and benefit some in-car technologies.
The upshot: If it involves technology that moves people and packages, we aim to talk about it.
Secretary Buttigieg is just one of the many high-profile speakers who will be on our Disrupt Stage and the Extra Crunch Stage. During the three-day event, writer, director, actor and Houseplant co-founder Seth Rogen will be joined by Houseplant Chief Commercial Officer Haneen Davies and co-founder and CEO Michael Mohr to talk about the business of weed, Duolingo CEO and co-founder Luis von Ahn will discuss gamifying education and prepping for a public offering and Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong will dig into the volatile world of cryptocurrency and his company’s massive direct listing earlier this year.
Other speakers include Twitter CISO Rinki Sethi, Calendly founder and CEO Tope Awotona, Mirror co-founder and CEO Brynn Putnam, Evil Geniuses CEO Nicole LaPointe Jameson and Andreessen Horowitz General Partner Katie Haun.
The cheapest car sold in the U.S. in the 1980s and 1990s — the Yugo — has recently become kind of ironically hip. Once the butt of countless jokes, it’s certifiably cool in the U.S. these days. But in Serbia, even over a decade since production stopped at the Kragujevac plant (which, incidentally, NATO bombed in 1999—Fiat later rebuilt it and it now produces the Fiat 500L), the Yugo remains a decent option as cheap transportation, and it is anything but cool. In fact, the Yugo is so uncool that when this Serb owner set about disguising the orange car you see above, they didn’t choose a BMW, Porsche or a Cadillac — they chose a SEAT. Just a SEAT.
There’s something charming about a cheap economy car dressed up as something cooler. Fierarris (Pontiac Fieros dressed up a Ferraris) are a great example; Beetles disguised as cool sports cars are also lots of fun; and then there are all the Japanese vehicles converted into luxury and sports cars by coachbuilder Mitsuoka. The whole concept is aspirational — as if the owner and the car are both saying “This is who I want to be, so I’m going to look the part.”
Dress for the job you want, they say.
That’s what makes this Yugo in Kruševac, Serbia so great. The owner gave the vehicle Lamborghini doors, then instead of grafting on a Lamborghini face, they screwed on the face of a SEAT. A SEAT. The economy car.
I’m not disparaging the Spanish SEAT brand, but let’s be real here for a moment: The modern SEAT isn’t exactly a desireable car, in part because everyone knows a SEAT is just a rebadged Volkswagen. (To be sure, some of the hot hatches are awesome).
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This Yugo 55 — which my new Serb friend Dragoslav sent me (I visited him with my $600 diesel manual Chrysler minivan last week on my way back to Germany from Turkey) — is self-aware. It understands that it is but a humble Yugoslavia-built economy car with a 1.1-liter four cylinder engine making 55 horsepower. The econobox knows that trying to look like a high-end sports car would be futile and honestly a little embarrassing. So instead, the machine chose to dress up as a Spanish VW-based hatchback.
This particular machine is a 1991 Yugo 55 (also called the Zastava 55 in Serbia), sharing the same little engine as the Fiat 128-based Zastava 101. Bolted to that motor is a five-speed manual feeding a little bit of torque to the front wheels.
The cabin features an aftermarket steering wheel and some leather SEATs out of…some car. I honestly have no idea which one, but I bet one of you obscenely-nerdy readers will tell me.
The car, for sale on the famous car-sales website that we all know and love, mojtrg.rs, has an asking price of 650 Euro, or roughly $765. I think that’s actually a decent
Over the years there have been plenty of LEGO Ideas submissions we’ve wanted to take for a spin. In a metaphorical sense that is. But we actually will be able to with a new design. This miniature red bicycle made with LEGO pieces isn’t just a great replica. It’s a fully functioning machine.
This ingenious design (which we first saw at Laughing Squid) comes from LEGO builder SleepyCow. It uses 999 authentic pieces of both technic and system bricks to build a working bike. And despite the LEGO bicycle’s small stature, it’s fully tricked out.
This is full list of features included with this mini bicycle:
Sturdy bike frame
Half chain guard
Realistic pedal and crank arm
Functional freewheel mechanism
Working pneumatic front and rear disc brakes
Spring loaded kickstand
Realistic spoke wheel
Rear bike rack
Drink bottle rack
A mini bike stand for a working miniature LEGO bicycle might be the best display stand ever.
SleepyCow wrote that his LEGO bicycle design was “very challenging” to pull off. “Especially making the bike frame sturdy enough to hold the rest of the model.” But all that work was more than worth it. This design would be worthy of support even if it didn’t work. The fact it actually works while only using authentic LEGO pieces makes it one of the coolest submissions we’ve ever seen at LEGO Ideas.
However, it does need your support for formal consideration. As of this writing it only has a little over 700 of the 10,000 supporters it needs. So if you agree with us that this design is worthy of becoming an actual LEGO set, head over and back the campaign.
We’d like to actually take it for a spin. Metaphorical spins just aren’t as much fun.
Dutch solar electric vehicle pioneer Lightyear has announced that contract manufacturer Valmet Automotive will build the Lightyear One EV.
After a thorough and extensive selection process that took over a year, Lightyear says it has selected the Finnish company as a production partner. One of the main reasons for this decision is that Valmet Automotive is an EV pioneer, having been involved in the development and production of electric cars for more than ten years.
Valmet has built the Think electric city car (2009-2010) and the Fisker Karma (2011-2012), so it’s experienced in guiding startup and scaleup companies to production. Furthermore, it has its own battery production line and has recently invested heavily in additional engineering and testing capabilities for EV powertrain developments.
In addition to its EV manufacturing know-how, the Finnish firm has more than 50 years of experience with large car brands, having built more than 1.7 million vehicles for Mercedes-Benz, Saab, and Porsche.
“Valmet Automotive is a great partner, has a well-established track record and over a decade of experience in EV production. It’s also a good cultural fit with our company. We are proud that we will soon realize the actual production of Lightyear One with Valmet Automotive.”
Lex Hoefsloot, CEO and co-founder of Lightyear
The prototype Lightyear One was first announced two years ago with ambitious targets in terms of range. At the time, the Dutch startup said the solar electric vehicle would cover 725 km (451 miles) under the WLTP test cycle. Recently, a Lightyear One prototype got very close to said range estimate by covering 710 km (441 miles) on one charge using 60 kWh.
The vehicle’s solar panels covering a total area of 5 square meters (53.8 sq ft) contributed 3.45 kWh to that. It’s worth noting that the panels can recharge the battery enough in one hour to unlock 12 km (7.5 miles) of additional range. One hour of conventional charging adds 35 km/22 miles (3.7 kW at 230V), 209 km/130 miles (22 kW public), or 570 km/354 miles (60 kW fast charging).
Despite packing four electric motors that offer all-wheel drive with advanced torque vectoring, acceleration is not the One’s main focus—it goes from zero to 100 km/h in less than 10 seconds.
The Lightyear One will go into production in the summer 2022 as an exclusive first series, but the first prototypes will be built in Finland in January 2022.