October 16, 2021
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Rekor Systems Announces Selection of Waycare Technologies by Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development for Pilot Program to Reduce State Traffic Congestion and Crashes
California homeless camp fire damages 2 bridges, disrupts public transportation
Austin finishes half of its bicycle network, expects to complete entire 400-mile system by 2025
The Top 10 Automotive Concepts that automotive enthusiasts will be itching to see on the road!
Oregon Transportation Commission, wary of I-5 Rose Quarter project’s growing price tag, grants conditional approval
Woman dies after being hit by car in North Windham Friday night
Silk-FAW Continues To Poach Italy’s Automotive Talent, As Lamborghini’s Katia Bassi Joins As Managing Director
Transportation Department cracks down on airlines withholding refunds for canceled flights
Bear gets trapped in car, destroys interior
Cycling apparel company adding full-service bike repair to visitor center
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Rekor Systems Announces Selection of Waycare Technologies by Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development for Pilot Program to Reduce State Traffic Congestion and Crashes California homeless camp fire damages 2 bridges, disrupts public transportation Austin finishes half of its bicycle network, expects to complete entire 400-mile system by 2025 The Top 10 Automotive Concepts that automotive enthusiasts will be itching to see on the road! Oregon Transportation Commission, wary of I-5 Rose Quarter project’s growing price tag, grants conditional approval Woman dies after being hit by car in North Windham Friday night Silk-FAW Continues To Poach Italy’s Automotive Talent, As Lamborghini’s Katia Bassi Joins As Managing Director Transportation Department cracks down on airlines withholding refunds for canceled flights Bear gets trapped in car, destroys interior Cycling apparel company adding full-service bike repair to visitor center
Sep
2021
11

Mercedes reveals electric luxury vehicles for on- and off-road

The Mercedes-Benz EQG concept SUV is an all-electric interpretation of the Mercedes G-class SUV. The SUV shares the G-class’s boxy shape. Engineers even copied the G-class’ jutting door handles and meticulously recreated the same “thunk” made by the G-class’ doors when they close. Instead of a spare tire mounted on the EQG’s tailgate, there’s a storage box that can hold a charging cable.

Mercedes plans to produce a vehicle based on this concept, and announced that it will even drive it through the same Austrian mountain off-road course where the internal combustion-powered G-class model is tested. Each wheel of the EQG is powered by its own electric motor, according to Mercedes, to allow for maximum four-wheel-drive control.

The Mercedes-Maybach EQS is an opulant large electric SUV.

Mercedes also revealed the Mercedes-Maybach EQS, a large luxury SUV intended mostly for on-road use. Mecedes-Maybach is the automaker’s ultra-luxury sub-brand with models and prices that compete against brands like Bentley.

Like the Mercedes-Benz EQS sedan, the Maybach EQS SUV has a glass panel that covers the entire dashboard giving the impression of a single enormous touchscreen. On the outside, it has a two-tone paint job, an option on Mercedes-Maybach models. As in the EQS electric sedan, the doors can open automatically as the driver approaches. Mercedes has announced it intends to put a large electric SUV, the Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV, into production in 2022. The Maybach SUV would be based on that.

The Mercedes-AMG EQS has specially designed high-performance electric motors.

The Mercedes-AMG EQS, also revealed Sunday, is a high-performance version of the Mercedes-Benz EQS sedan. Mercedes-AMG is Mercedes’s high-performance sub-brand. Not just a concept car, this will be the first fully electric AMG production model.

It has two high-performance electric motors, one each for the front and back wheels, producing at total of 649 horsepower. Power output can briefly reach 751 horsepower using a special Race Start mode. The car’s electric motors were specially designed for high performance use performance demands, according to Mercedes.

Mercedes designers also created special sounds for what would otherwise be a largely silent driving experience. The sound, which is generated both inside and outside the vehicle, can vary depending on the driving mode, such as Comfort, Sport or Sport+. In Sport, it’s a gentle hum with an added jet-like overtone during acceleration. In Sport+ it takes on a subtle rumble suggestive of an internal combustion engine.

Sep
2021
10

Radical new ‘ride-by-wire’ system replaces electric bike chains, belts

German company Schaeffler has just revealed an innovative new drive system for electric bicycles that eschews traditional bike chains and belts for an entirely electrical-driven system. The new system is known as the Schaeffler Free Drive and marks the entry of one of the most divergent electric bicycle drivetrains we’ve seen in years.

The Free Drive, which was co-developed with electric bicycle drivetrain specialists Heinzmann, is based upon a generator installed at the bike’s bottom bracket.

The rider’s pedaling action powers the generator and converts the energy from mechanical to electrical energy.

That removes the need for any form of mechanical power delivery to the rear wheel, such as chains, belts, or driveshafts.

Instead, the electricity is sent to the motor in the rear wheel, where it is converted back into mechanical energy to power the bike forwards. This “bike-by-wire” system is all controlled with CAN communications between the motor, battery, generator, and control electronics.

The generator is able to vary the resistance in the pedals based on how much pedaling effort is required or selected. If the rider pedals hard enough to create excess energy (more than is required to power the motor at the current speed), that energy is dumped into the e-bike’s battery to be used later.

The rear motor is also capable of regenerative braking, which offers one more way to charge the battery while driving.

Pedal generator

The motor isn’t particularly powerful at just 250W, though that’s the EU limit for electric bicycle motors in Germany. This drive is designed for pedal assist riding, not high power throttle e-bike riding, and thus can make do with a smaller motor than we see on many electric bicycles in North America.

While this might sound like an overly complicated system for conventional electric bicycles that needlessly reinvents the wheel (pun shamelessly intended), its benefits for non-conventional e-bikes can’t be discounted.

Drive systems for cargo e-bikes, especially those with three or even four wheels, can become complicated and expensive when powered by traditional mechanical means. But a bike-by-wire system would allow cargo e-bike designers more creativity in laying out the bike.

No longer would they be constrained to design around a long, flapping chain or multi-stage gear reductions with jackshafts and derailleurs.

Instead, they can design based on the needs of the vehicle and simply route the electrical system around the frame as necessary.

Plus, the new drive system would allow riders to finally answer “Yes!” to one of the most common (and misinformed) questions from passersby seeing an e-bike for the first time: “Does it charge when you pedal it?”

One key downside to the setup is a reduced pedaling efficiency. Chains are still the most efficient way to power a bicycle and belt drives offer only a slight efficiency loss.

A Schaeffler representative explained to Electrek that the Free Drive is approximately 5% less efficient than chain drives.

As he explained, that means the rider would either need a 5% larger battery to get the same

Sep
2021
8

VW unveils new ID concept that previews its upcoming ~$24,000 electric car

VW unveiled today its new ID Life electric car concept at the IAA Mobility show in Munich.

The German automaker presented it as something that previews its upcoming cheap ~$24,000 electric car.

As we reported last year, Tesla and Volkswagen are currently competing to bring to market the first new affordable electric cars in the ~$25,000 to $30,000 price range.

In September, Tesla announced that it will make a new smaller long-range electric car with its new battery technology starting at $25,000.

Just last week, CEO Elon Musk said that he aims for the vehicle to launch in 2023.

As for VW, the German automaker apparently greenlit a new “small BEV” vehicle program that would start at a price of $24,000-$30,000.

Today, it looks like we are seeing the first glimpse of this new vehicle through the unveiled of the ID. LIFE concept.

If it looks plastic-like, it’s because it is made of recyclable materials.

The exterior is reminiscent of the Mini, but as you can see, this is still very much just a concept show car.

However, Ralf Brandstätter, CEO of the Volkswagen brand, made it clear that it previews the previously mention cheap electric car coming to the German automaker’s lineup:

“The ID. LIFE is our vision of next-generation fully electric urban mobility. The concept car provides a preview of an ID. model in the small car segment that we will be launching in 2025, priced at around 20,000 euros. This means we are making electric mobility accessible to even more people. In creating the ID. LIFE, we have consistently focused on the needs of younger customers. We believe that, even more so than today, the car of the future will be about lifestyle and personal expression. The customer of tomorrow won’t simply want to get from A to B; they will be much more interested in the experiences that a car can offer. The ID. LIFE is our answer to this.”

Through the concept, we also get an idea of the powertrain specs that VW aims to hit with the new ~$24,000 EV.

They are talking about a front-wheel-drive 172 kW drivetrain powered by a 57 kWh battery pack:

“The ID. LIFE is based on a smaller variant of Volkswagen’s modular electric drive matrix (MEB) that has been developed specifically for the small car segment. This is the first time a vehicle based on the MEB has front-wheel drive. With its 172 kW (234 PS) electric motor, the ID. LIFE accelerates from zero to 100 km/h in 6.9 seconds, while its 57 kWh high-voltage battery enables a range of some 400 kilometres (WLTP).”

A 400 km WLTP range could translate to over 200 miles of EPA range on a single charge, which is also what Tesla is trying to achieve with its own cheap EV.

In another nod to Tesla, which just launched the Model S Plaid with a video game console in the back, VW says that the ID. LIFE comes with its own video game

Sep
2021
7

BMW unveils 60 km/h (37 mph) electric bicycle with 300 km (186 mi) range

BMW has taken to the IAA Mobility show in Munich, Germany, to unveil two new electric motorbikes with interesting specs for their categories. Both have the same performance figures, making for a high-speed electric bicycle and a low-speed electric motorbike.

The two models were technically unveiled by different divisions of BMW.

BMW unveiled the i Vision AMBY, which is a high-speed electric bicycle.

The company’s motorcycle division, BMW Motorrad, unveiled the Vision AMBY. That little “i” makes a big difference.

The i Vision AMBY may technically fall in the electric bicycle category, but it shares very little with its e-bike brethren. The frame uses similar suspension components to other high-end bicycles and what appears to be a Gates carbon belt drive, but the electronics appear to be entirely custom.

A higher-power motor and gigantic 2,000 Wh battery enable it to reach much higher speeds in its highest setting. That big battery also has BMW making lofty range claims of up to 300 km (186 miles) in its lowest power mode.

Using an accompanying smartphone app, riders can choose between the European legal 25 km/h (15.5 mph) speed, a second speed-pedelec mode that reaches 45 km/h (28 mph), and a new high-speed-pedelec mode that ups the ante to 60 km/h (37 mph). BMW even floated the idea of having those speeds be modifiable in real time based on geo-fencing, meaning you could be slowed down automatically when you hit the city center, then unleashed to your top speed once turning onto a larger road.

Don’t get too excited though – you’ll need to register the bike and get a special license plate to use it on public roads in anything other than the slowest mode.

This also isn’t an electric motorcycle in disguise. Those pedals are for more than show; they are required to power the motor. Without a hand throttle, riders will have to continue pedaling constantly to achieve and maintain the bike’s high speeds. The range rating also drops significantly to just 75 km (47 miles) when traveling at 60 km/h (37 mph).

The highest speed mode certainly doesn’t fit into any current legal designation for electric bicycles though.

BMW clarified further, saying:

“In the absence of any existing legal framework for a vehicle of this kind with a modular speed concept, the “AMBY” Vision Vehicles set out to prompt the introduction of such legislation and, by consequence, developments of this nature.”

The bike also features other interesting design elements, such as LED light bars integrated into the handlebars and seat post, as well as an angular frame with a highly tucked seating position.

On the other hand, the BMW Motorrad Vision AMBY electric motorcycle looks to be a much more leisurely ride.

Instead of a pair of pedals, the Vision AMBY swaps in more realistic motorcycle-style foot pegs.

Interestingly, the Vision AMBY e-motorcycle also hits the same top speed of 60 km/h (37 mph), which is rather slow compared to other entries in the light electric motorcycle class.

Sep
2021
3

FUTURE PRODUCT: Familiar Ford models go electric

GT: The half-million-dollar supercar will take one last victory lap before production ends sometime next year. As Ford and supplier Multimatic wrap up the 1,350 GTs promised to a select group of customers, expect a few final special editions, such as the Heritage Edition introduced this month.

EcoSport: Ford’s entry-level vehicle will be upstaged this year by the Maverick compact pickup, which will have a starting price of $21,490, including shipping, making it $150 less expensive than the base EcoSport. How that will affect Ford’s subcompact crossover, which hasn’t caught on in the U.S. as in other parts of the world, remains to be seen. For now, Ford plans a next-generation EcoSport out of India that would debut in the U.S. in 2024.

Mustang Mach-E: The new electric crossover is quickly becoming a key pillar in Ford’s lineup. The company has sold 15,829 in the U.S. this year through July and says that 70 percent of buyers are from outside the Ford brand. It’s helping establish Ford as a legitimate player in the electric vehicle space while taking precious market share from Tesla. GT and GT Performance Edition variants just launched, starting at $61,000 and $66,000, with shipping. Ford said the Mach-E GT delivers 480 hp and 600 pound-feet of torque with an estimated 0-to-60-mph time of 3.8 seconds. The GT Performance Edition is even more powerful, boasting 634 pound-feet of torque and a 0-60 time of 3.5 seconds. Ford plans to move the Mach-E to its Oakville Assembly Plant in Ontario in 2026, when it will be redesigned on a new platform.

Escape: After a delay following battery fires in Europe, Ford finally launched the Escape plug-in hybrid this year. That could help slow the slide in overall Escape sales, which have fallen 9.5 percent in the U.S. this year through July amid the global chip shortage. The compact crossover is due for a freshening late next year and could be redesigned in late 2025.

Bronco Sport: The Bronco’s smaller sibling is performing well in showrooms. It’s helping to build the budding Bronco subbrand as well as allowing Ford to claw back some market share in the all-important small utility segment. Through July, Ford has sold nearly 63,000 Bronco Sports in the U.S. this year. A hybrid is expected to debut in 2024.

Edge: Ford will kill the Edge at the end of its current life cycle, in 2023, when it will convert the Oakville plant, where the midsize crossover is built, into an EV facility. Ford has stressed that it wants to focus on iconic products that evoke customers’ passion. With the popularity of the Bronco Sport and Escape, which is still one of Ford’s highest-volume products despite its sales drop, keeping a third two-row utility in the lineup made less and less sense.

Explorer: It’s safe to say the Explorer has recovered from its bungled launch. U.S. sales are up 10 percent this year through July, despite the chip crisis pinching production.

Ford is launching a new

Sep
2021
1

I Drove A Preproduction Kia EV6, The First Electric Car Built On Kia’s ‘Revolutionary’ E-GMP Platform. Here’s What I Thought

Image for article titled I Drove A Preproduction Kia EV6, The First Electric Car Built On Kia's 'Revolutionary' E-GMP Platform. Here's What I Thought

Image: David Tracy

The Kia EV6 is the first car from the Korean automaker to be built on a dedicated electric vehicle platform. Here’s what I thought about the EV6 and the E-GMP bones that underpin it — bones that will act as the foundation of millions of Kia, Hyundai, and Genesis cars in the future.

A few weeks ago, I attended the German Car of the Year assessment near Frankfurt, Germany. This was basically an event put on by journalists — in cooperation with automakers — to give writers a chance to drive and grade an assortment of over 40 cars.

I’ve already mentioned the GR Yaris and Toyota Supra that I drove at the event. Those were epic, though it was the EV6 that I had a hard time booking an appointment for, as Kia was giving journalists an exclusive opportunity to drive the preproduction vehicle. (There are few things that make a journalist’s mouth water as much as an exclusive).

A Quick Look At The Platform

Image for article titled I Drove A Preproduction Kia EV6, The First Electric Car Built On Kia's 'Revolutionary' E-GMP Platform. Here's What I Thought

Image: David Tracy

Introducing the platform was automotive design legend Luc Donckerwolke, the now-Genesis designer who had a hand in styling some famous Lamborghinis and more importantly the incredible aluminum-bodied Audi A2.

Kia’s platform is called E-GMP, and it stands for Electric-Global Modular Platform. It’s a big deal because it’s going to underpin many EV Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis cars moving forward. Kia discusses the platform’s flexibility in a press release, saying:

EV6 signals the U.S. launch of Kia’s ‘Plan S’ strategy that will deliver 11 all-new electrified models across the world by 2026.

[…]

The E-GMP modular platform maximizes development efficiency and enables the Kia brand to expand its dedicated EV portfolio across multiple vehicle segments – sedans, CUVs, SUVs – in a short time and with minimal complexity. The architecture provides an adaptable foundation with a long wheelbase and wide stance. 

It’s not always clear what it means when automakers say vehicles will share a single platform, but you can expect all E-GMP vehicles to share common battery modules, common suspension designs/subframes/mounting points (which means similar track widths), and common drive units and power electronics.

Image for article titled I Drove A Preproduction Kia EV6, The First Electric Car Built On Kia's 'Revolutionary' E-GMP Platform. Here's What I Thought

Image: David Tracy

Image for article titled I Drove A Preproduction Kia EV6, The First Electric Car Built On Kia's 'Revolutionary' E-GMP Platform. Here's What I Thought

Image: David Tracy

Suspension is a MacPherson strut setup in the front (shown above) and a multilink in the rear (shown below — apologies for the not-so-optimal images):

Image for article titled I Drove A Preproduction Kia EV6, The First Electric Car Built On Kia's 'Revolutionary' E-GMP Platform. Here's What I Thought

Image: David Tracy

The big battery pack in between comes filled with 77.4kWh or 58kWh worth of Nickel-Cobalt-Manganese (in ratios of 80 percent, 10 percent, 10 percent, respectively) pouch cells:

Image for article titled I Drove A Preproduction Kia EV6, The First Electric Car Built On Kia's 'Revolutionary' E-GMP Platform. Here's What I Thought

Image: David Tracy

Battery voltage is 800V, just like on the Porsche Taycan. Kia says this high voltage potential should enable a charging times of only 18 minutes from 10 percent to 80 percent when using a 350 kW fast charger. Adding 70 miles to an “empty” car should take only five minutes (I’m assuming these numbers apply to the larger 77.4 kWh pack, which Kia says

Aug
2021
30

Electric bikes are still selling like crazy, and that might even increase soon

Electric bicycle sales have been increasing around the world for years, with the US seeing particularly drastic year-over-year growth. But never before have we witnessed the kind of colossal growth spawned by the COVID-19 pandemic. And according to industry leaders, there’s no sign of it slowing down.

When the pandemic first hit hard in the US around 18 months ago, most in the industry assumed it would be rough waters ahead.

The truth turned out to be the exact opposite, at least in terms of sales. The numbers absolutely soared as electric bicycles flew off the shelves across the country and around the world.

Of course, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. New problems emerged in the industry due to the rapid growth. But the high sales figures have continued, and there is no expectation of returning to lower pre-pandemic sales levels.

As electric bicycle company Pedego’s CEO Don DiCostanzo explained to Yahoo Finance:

“Let’s face it — everything electric is just hot, whether it be cars, now planes, trains. Electric bikes are probably the fastest-growing segment of any of these categories because they’re affordable for everybody.”

With so many models of electric bicycles available across the board, many of which fall in the key sub-$1,000 category, Americans have been scooping up e-bikes in droves.

Pedego even rolled out its lowest-priced electric bike to date in the middle of the pandemic (see my review video below). That helped the company reach a new demographic of riders and compete more directly with industry leaders like Rad Power Bikes, which currently dominates the $1,000-$2,000 category.

Many popular electric bikes still cost north of two grand, with some priced considerably higher.

A new bill introduced in the US House of Representatives and a companion bill in the US Senate are currently seeking to help Americans lower those prices with an e-bike tax credit similar to the electric vehicle tax credit.

The plan would create a 30% rebate towards the purchase of a new electric bicycle in the US. There are still a few limitations, such as capping the rebate at $1,500 and the qualifying price of the e-bike at $8,000. But if the legislation passes, it could open the door to a second larger wave of electric bicycle sales in the US.

That couldn’t come sooner for many commuters, who are now weighing their options for socially distant commuting between private cars that are expensive and time-consuming for commutes or crowded public transportation.

Electric bicycles have proven to be an excellent alternative for many of these commuters by providing a cheaper, faster and healthier alternative form of transportation.

And if the last 18 months are any indication, many more commuters are likely to discover those benefits soon as the modal shift we are seeing continues to change urban and suburban transportation before our eyes.

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Aug
2021
26

South Korea’s LG Chem shares dive on GM electric car recall

SEOUL – GM on Friday expanded its recall of Bolt electric vehicles (EVs) due to fire risk from what it called battery manufacturing defects, saying the recall would cost $1 billion and that it would seek reimbursement from LG.

The U.S. automaker said the recall covers vehicles beginning model year 2019 and that it would indefinitely halt Bolt sales. LG Chem said it was working to ensure a smooth recall.

LG Chem, which is preparing an initial public offering (IPO) for battery unit LG Energy Solution (LGES), lost $5 billion in market value with its stock on track for its biggest intraday percentage loss since March 2020.

GENERAL MOTORS AND LG ANNOUNCE $2.3B TENNESSEE BATTERY FACTORY

“The market expected that LGES would launch its IPO in September, but with GM’s expanded recall, LGES IPO is likely to be delayed for a month or two, because the company needs to reflect the recall cost before finalising the IPO paperwork,” said Samsung Securities analyst Cho Hyun-ryul.

GM initially recalled 69,000 Bolt cars in July. Its expanded recall comes about a week after a fire involving a Volkswagen AG ID.3 EV carrying an LGES battery. 

LG Chem Ltd shares slid nearly 10% on Monday after General Motors Co said it would recall an extra 73,000 Chevrolet Bolt cars that use the South Korean firm’s batteries, months after a similar recall by Hyundai Motor Co. (Photo by Gerard Bottino/SOP

Six months earlier, Hyundai recalled 82,000 EVs over LGES battery fire risk at an estimated cost of about 1 trillion won ($851.90 million).

Both GM’s and Hyundai’s recalls involve pouch-type batteries, rather than cylindrical batteries supplied to LGES customers including Tesla Inc.

In February, South Korea’s transport ministry said a joint investigation with LGES and Hyundai found defects in battery cells at an LGES factory in China. The investigation is ongoing.

Neither LGES nor Hyundai have disclosed how they plan to split recall costs, though analysts expect LGES to assume 60%.

Stocks in this Article

Batteries are a massive component of LG Group earnings. LG Chem earned 40% of operating profit from batteries – including EV batteries – in April-June. Earlier this month, LG Electronics Inc cut its second-quarter operating profit by more than a fifth to reflect GM recall costs. 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ON FOX BUSINESS

Shares of LG Electronics, which assembles LGES cells into battery modules, fell as much as 5.8% on Monday. That compared with the local benchmark which was up 1.5% around noon.

($1 = 1,172.5900 won)

Aug
2021
24

‘Everything electric is just hot,’ Pedego CEO says

Between a pandemic-fueled bike boom and growing interest in electric transport options, demand for electric bicycles, or e-bikes, has been picking up speed.

“Let’s face it — everything electric is just hot, whether it be cars, now planes, trains,” Don DiCostanzo, CEO and founder of Pedego Electric Bikes, said on Yahoo Finance Live (video above). “Electric bikes are probably the fastest-growing segment of any of these categories because they’re affordable for everybody.”

The electric bicycle category, like bicycles overall, saw sales increase during the pandemic as people sought outdoor, socially distant activities. Year-over-year bicycle sales in the U.S. ending April 2021 were up 57%, according to NPD, and while bicycle sales declined in April — a potential sign that the bike boom is slowing— e-bikes were the exception and saw continued sales growth.

DiConstanzo attributed that growth to e-bikes being “a perfect way” for people to get outdoors, thanks to the electric motor and battery that assists cyclists with pedaling. 

“You don’t have to sweat,” he said. “You can do as much exercise as you want or none at all, depending on what you want to do. … And the four-letter word that keeps most people from cycling, which is hill, it goes away because it’s actually more fun to ride one of our bikes up a hill than it is down a hill.”

A surfer uses an electric bicycle to travel to Lower Trestles in San Clemente on Tuesday, August 27, 2019. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images)

“There’s a social dynamic” to electric bicycles

At a price point that is less expensive than most cars — the cost of an e-bike ranges from $600 to $8,000 — electric bikes offer a more affordable way of getting around while also reducing carbon emissions. And like making tax credits available for electric vehicles, governments also want to make e-bikes cheaper.

A federal bill, called the E-BIKE Act, is making its way through the U.S. House of Representatives and would provide a rebate of 30% to consumers who purchase new electric bikes. In July, California also enacted an e-bike incentive program as part of its state budget that allocates $10 million for electric bicycle grants. 

But electric bike companies haven’t been immune to rising costs of materials, giving a whole new meaning to tire inflation. 

“I’m not so sure how much longer we can hold our prices,” DiCostanzo said. “But we’re going to hold them until these rebates come into place.”

And though the high demand has been a boon to the industry, it’s also created a shortage in the primary and secondary markets. 

“We have a steady stream arriving every day, and we send them out almost as fast as they come in,” DiCostanzo said. “So while we don’t have an unlimited supply, anybody can go to a Pedego store today and buy a Pedego electric bike.”

A Pedego Interceptor electric assisted bike is seen at Small Planet E Bikes. (Photo by Matt Jonas/Digital First Media/Boulder Daily Camera via Getty Images)

A Pedego Interceptor electric assisted bike is seen at Small Planet E Bikes. (Photo

Aug
2021
21

The electric vehicle boom is pay-dirt for factory machinery makers

DETROIT, Aug 20 (Reuters) – The investment surge by both new and established automakers in the electric vehicle market is a bonanza for factory equipment manufacturers that supply the highly automated picks and shovels for the prospectors in the EV gold rush.

The good times for the makers of robots and other factory equipment reflect the broader recovery in U.S. manufacturing. After falling post-COVID to $361.8 million in April 2020, new orders surged to almost $506 million in June, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Reuters Graphics

Here’s a graphic on U.S. manufacturing new orders: https://tmsnrt.rs/3lVyhlM

New electric vehicle factories, funded by investors who have snapped up newly public shares in companies such as EV start-up Lucid Group Inc (LCID.O) are boosting demand. “I’m not sure it’s reached its climax yet. There’s still more to go,” Andrew Lloyd, electromobility segment leader at Stellantis-owned (STLA.MI) supplier Comau, said in an interview. “Over the next 18 to 24 months, there’s going to be a significant demand coming our way.”

Growth in the EV sector, propelled by the success of Tesla Inc (TSLA.O), comes on top of the normal work manufacturing equipment makers do to support production of gasoline-powered vehicles.

Automakers will invest over $37 billion in North American plants from 2019 to 2025, with 15 of 17 new plants in the United States, according to LMC Automotive. Over 77% of that spending will be directed at SUV or EV projects.

Equipment providers are in no rush to add to their nearly full capacity.

“There’s a natural point where we will say ‘No'” to new business, said Comau’s Lloyd. For just one area of a factory, like a paint shop or a body shop, an automaker can easily spend $200 million to $300 million, industry officials said.

‘WILD, WILD WEST’ “This industry is the Wild, Wild West right now,” John Kacsur, vice president of the automotive and tire segment for Rockwell Automation(ROK.N), told Reuters. “There is a mad race to get these new EV variants to market.” Automakers have signed agreements for suppliers to build equipment for 37 EVs between this year and 2023 in North America, according to industry consultant Laurie Harbour. That excludes all the work being done for gasoline-powered vehicles.

“There’s still a pipeline with projects from new EV manufacturers,” said Mathias Christen, a spokesman for Durr AG (DUEG.DE), which specializes in paint shop equipment and saw its EV business surge about 65% last year. “This is why we don’t see the peak yet.”

Orders received by Kuka AG, a manufacturing automation company owned by China’s Midea Group (000333.SZ), rose 52% in the first half of 2021 to just under 1.9 billion euros ($2.23 billion) – the second-highest level for a 6-month period in the company’s history, due to strong demand in North America and Asia.

“We ran out of capacity for any additional work about a year and a half ago,” said Mike LaRose, CEO of Kuka’s (KU2G.DE) auto group in the Americas. “Everyone’s so busy, there’s no floor