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EV/AV Report: March 2, 2020

Toronto, Ontario — In this week’s EV/AV Report, several companies are feeling charged up about lengthening EV battery charging capabilities, and analysts inspect what a wider variety of electric models could mean for Canadian auto sales.

Bosch boosts batteries

At the recent Bosch Connected World 2020 conference in Berlin, diagnostics company Bosch initiated a partnership with Human Horizons, a mobility technologies company, to produce technology that connects electric-vehicle batteries with the cloud to extend battery life.

Bosch and Human Horizons plan to cooperate on the Battery in the Cloud service, which intends to improve the performance of EVs in the areas of battery life, charging efficiency, EV user experience and prediction of battery failures and downtime. 

According to the company, Battery in the Cloud could enhance EV battery life by up to 20 percent, and 20 percent faster charging speeds.

Tow-tally powerful

EP Tender, a Paris, France startup has an innovative solution for EV owners that want a little more battery capacity⁠—but it may require them to add a little junk to their EV’s trunk. 

EP Tender builds trailers for EVs. The catch? Each trailer provides an additional 60 kilowatt-hours of battery time⁠—and, for reference, that could snag you around an extra 322 kilometres in drive time. 

The company wants to locate compounds of rentable trailers on major holiday routes in Europe. In its vision, EV drivers will pull up, wait for the trailer to autonomously hook to the back of the car and then benefit from the extra battery power taking them to their destination.

The maximum rental cost would be €34 ($58 CAD) for one trailer, EP TEnder predicts, and the company is in talks with Renault and PSA Group in France to factory-fit the tow bar and connectors to its EVs.

Electric slide

Automakers are rolling out some big additions to the electric vehicle landscape this year, but it’s still unclear how many Canadians will be convinced to buy them.

Last week’s Canadian International AutoShow in Toronto saw automakers display more than 40 varieties of hybrid and fully-electric plug-in vehicles. Further, Consulting company McKinsey & Co. figures around 400 fully electric models will hit the market globally by 2025, including 113 this year alone.

But analysts maintain that government policies are crucial to actually push companies to sell those models since automakers don’t have enough incentive to move away from vehicles powered by the traditional internal combustion engine (ICE).

“I think the real, key problem for them,” said James Carter, principal consultant at Toronto-based Vision Mobility, “is really because they make so much money off ICE trucks, pickups, SUVs right now, that basically, the question that they’re having to ask themselves is ‘how the hell do we get off this drug?”‘

He notes that some companies have been reluctant to move to electrification, while others such as Hyundai and Kia have rolled out popular models but are not producing enough to meet demand, because profitability can be a challenge for electric vehicles.

Companies risk losing ground on new technologies if they don’t move fast enough, but also need to make enough profit to make billions of dollars of investment worthwhile, said Carter.

This year, many automakers are diving into endeavours in all-electric SUVs. Ford has the Mustang Mach-E SUV, while General Motors has plans to revive the Hummer brand⁠—with a greener vision⁠.  

Other automakers, like Honda, however, are easing into the waves of electrification a little more gently. Rather than push headlong into electric, Honda is instead making smaller shifts in marketing, including more clear reporting of carbon emissions for all of its models, so consumers can better see the impact.

Analysts maintain that demand for EVs will be heavily influenced on policy. Thus, if Canada can achieve cost parity between gas and electric vehicles and provide substantial charging infrastructure, it seems more likely Canadians will start to shift more toward zero-emission rides.

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