World EV Day lights up the car industry

A day set aside for the promotion of electric vehicles sparked a flurry of news from car makers around the world.

There was no shortage of automotive brands piling onto the electric vehicle band wagon to mark World EV day on 9 September. 

BMW grows its range

Among them was German brand BMW Group, which took the opportunity to remind us of its commitment to electromobility and sustainability with three new fully electric BMW models set to launch locally between Q4 2021 and Q1 2022. 

The first of these, the BMW iX3 arrives in November, featuring the fifth generation of BMW’s eDrive system and offering up to 460km of range on the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) cycle.

Early next year BMW will also introduce the i4, a sporty all-electric Gran Coupe.

The i4 line-up will include the first emissions-free offering from the BMW M high-performance brand in the form of the M50, which the company says will deliver 400kW of power, honed dynamics, and a driving range of 510km.     

The Mini EV.

BMW says it will soon offer among the most electrified models of any manufacturer in Australia, with a total of 10 models. 

Globally, the company will have 25 electrified models available by 2023, with more than half featuring a fully electric powertrain. 

BMW said there would  be 10 million fully electric BMW Group vehicles on the road within 10 years with its MINI brand to feature an exclusively electric vehicle line-up by 2030. 

FCAI wants policy focus

Australia’s Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) marked World EV Day by taking a shot at the Federal Government, urging it to do more with proactive EV policies. 

“In 2021 World EV Day is taking place during a time of increased focus on electric vehicles,” FCAI Chief Executive Tony Weber said.

“More brands are committing to zero-emission and low-emission drive trains, increasing the numbers of these vehicles available to the Australian motorist.”

Mr Weber outlined the importance for governments to match the rise in electric vehicles with proactive and future-focused policies.

“With an increasing number of EVs becoming available every day, more of these vehicles will become familiar on Australian roads,” he said.

“The only question is when, not if.

“It is vital that governments across the country work towards nationally consistent policies.

“This will allow manufacturers to bring the best technologies to market and provide greater choice to the Australian consumer.

“We are already seeing governments engage with manufacturers in developing EV policies. As an industry we look forward to this consultation increasing.

“This is the only way to guarantee the best technologies flow to the Australian motorist.”

Nissan hits sales milestone

The first brand in the world to introduce a mass-market EV in the form of the all-electric Leaf, Nissan announced it had achieved the milestone of 250,000 fully electric vehicle sales in Europe. 

The company said it had sold more than 208,000 European Leaf EVs and 42,000 e-NV200 commercial vans in Europe in the past decade.

“Every bright idea starts with a spark,” Nissan AMIEO Senior Vice-President Sales and Marketing Leon Dorssers said.

“Just as the Nissan LEAF sparked the birth of modern EVs when it was introduced in 2010, today it continues to bring innovative technologies and advanced zero-emission powertrains to drivers around the globe – making the bright idea a mass-market reality.”

Earlier in September the company’s Australian arm announced it would introduce vehicles equipped with its e-Power hybrid technology to Australia during 2022, as the car maker moves to lower its global emissions enroute to the full electrification of its model range sometime in the early 2030s.

Polestar on the move

The European-based parent of Australia’s newest automotive brand, Polestar, confirmed it was set to accelerate its rapid market expansion with plans to be present in 30 global markets by the end of 2022. 

In July Polestar, the electric performance vehicle brand founded by Volvo Cars and Geely Holding, announced a doubling of its markets in 2021, from nine to 18 and the Swedish-based company aimed to establish itself in a further 12 markets through 2022.
Locally, Polestar announced its Australian presence in July, with the appointment of an executive team headed by Managing Director Samantha Johnson and the news it would launch the all-electric Polestar 2 to Australian audiences in November. 

The Polestar 2 EV is coming to Australia in November.

A statement from Polestar’s European management team said high demand combined with an agile and unique, digital-first business model, were enabling the company’s rapid growth.

“Growth on this scale is unprecedented and confirms our position as a truly global, pure EV brand,” says Thomas Ingenlath, Polestar CEO.

“Our unique business model has allowed us to develop the manufacturing capacity we need to satisfy demand. 

“Our digital-first approach means we can enter new markets faster. And, crucially, the service network vital to customer peace of mind is already in place.”

Polestar’s 2021 expansion plans include new markets in the Middle East, including Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, as well as Luxembourg and Iceland in Europe.

Toyota earns five stars

The Australian market leader marked World EV Day by celebrating the awarding of a maximum five-star safety rating for its new hydrogen-powered Mirai sedan by independent vehicle safety authority ANCAP. 

The Mirai (top picture) is one of only two commercially available hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (HFCEV) in Australia, the other being the Hyundai Nexo.

Both vehicles were released this year on limited fleet trials.  

The launch of the new Mirai followed a small-scale trial program that was initiated in 2018 with 10 examples of the first-generation Mirai.

With the new generation Mirai launched in Japan late last year and the development of Victoria's first permanent hydrogen production and refuelling facility at the Centre of Excellence in Altona, Toyota Australia moved ahead with a larger demonstration program importing 20 examples of the new car.

The sleek and stylish, five-seat, rear-drive four-door sedan uses an advanced hydrogen fuel cell powertrain that generates zero carbon emissions.

At the heart of the car is an advanced fuel cell powertrain that comprises a 128kW 330-cell fuel cell stack, three compressed hydrogen tanks, a lithium-ion battery and integrated electric motor and rear transaxle.

Mounted under the bonnet, the 128kW fuel cell stack draws in air that is purified and fed into the fuel stack where the oxygen combines with hydrogen in a chemical reaction to produce electrical energy, with water vapour as the only emission. 

The hydrogen is stored in three carbon-fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) tanks that have a combined capacity of 5.6kg giving the Mirai a range of about 650km.

Earlier this year, Toyota announced it had achieved a significant milestone on its path towards a zero-emission future, selling the brand's 200,000th hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) in Australia.

A total of 210,817 Toyota HEVs had been sold in this country to the end of June 2021, led by Camry, RAV4, Corolla and Prius, according to Toyota.

The company said the most recent 100,000 sales took just three years with demand accelerating as customers capitalise on the benefits of money-saving economy and low emissions.

It took until mid-2018 for Toyota to pass 100,000 HEV deliveries, almost 17 years after the original Prius hybrid was launched in 2001.

Over the journey, Camry has proven Australia's most popular HEV with 75,998 sales, followed by the RAV4 (48,632), Corolla (40,143) and Prius (20,778).

This year, Toyota is on track to eclipse its annual sales record of 54,335 hybrid electric vehicles, achieved last year.

To the end of June, Toyota has sold 34,036 HEVs – a total that accounts for more than 85% of all electrified models sold in Australia.

The total represents 28.6% of Toyota's overall sales in 2021.

Leading the way in 2021 is the RAV4 with 14,821 HEV sales or 72.8% of total RAV4 demand.

Volkswagen model on the way

Volkswagen announced the Australian arm of its business would get its first EV model next year, in the form of the Plug-in Hybrid EV (PHEV) Touareg R, which replaces a V8 turbo-diesel model.

The new model boats combined electric motor and turbo petrol V6 performance that is comparable to the now discontinued Touareg V8 turbo diesel, according to VW. 

The luxury/performance SUV runs a 250kW/450Nm 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 petrol engine paired to a 100kW/400Nm electric motor to develop a combined 340kW/700Nm. 

Power for the electric component of the Touareg R’s drivetrain is supplied by a 14.3kWh lithium-ion battery, providing an electric range of 47km on the WLTP cycle. 

The self-charging hybrid can be charged either on the run using the combustion engine as a generator, or via plug-in means at up to 7.2kW on an AC wallbox, or 10A domestic power point, for a full charge in 2.5 hours.

Volkswagen's General Manager of Passenger Vehicle Marketing Ralph Beckmann said the replacement of a V8 Touareg with an equally rapid and capable, cutting-edge hybrid electric version as the brand's halo vehicle was "richly symbolic and a strong message".