Which automaker is testing high-power wireless charging?
And what was the surprising conclusion of research assessing solid-state cell safety?
This is our look back at the Week In Reverse—right here at Green Car Reports—for the week ending March 11, 2022.
Rivian has announced that the upcoming Standard battery pack, providing 260+ miles of range, will include cheaper LFP cells. The EV maker also confirmed an 800V upgrade, heat pump tech, and its own cells. And as part of a quarterly business update, it halved its 2022 production estimate to 25,000 trucks.
2022 Rivian R1T
Volkswagen revealed its ID.Buzz electric Microbus—in Euro-spec, five-seat form. A U.S. version with three rows of seating won’t be shown until 2023 and won’t be delivered until 2024. That said, many of the styling details and proportions are all set, so it’s time to ask whether this long-anticipated model will live up to the hype.
Volvo plans to test high-power wireless charging tech from Momentum Dynamics on XC40 Recharge electric SUVs used as taxi cabs in Sweden. A “live city environment” will provide a real-world check on this tech, which offers a rate close to that of cable-and-connector fast-charging. And it’s giving its XC40 Recharge electric SUV a smoothing-over that more closely aligns its appearance with the C40 Recharge. For now it’s only for Europe, but expect to see these changes plus some other feature changes for the U.S. models soon.
Updated Volvo XC40 Recharge
GM sees bidirectional charging as an important part of future EVs. To that, the company announced a pilot-program collaboration with Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) that would help put battery packs from residential owners’ EVs to use this year as backup home energy—and, potentially, grid stabilization. Separately, Ford and PG&E entered a partnership that will examine the potential role of the F-150 Lightning in adding resiliency to the grid. The Lightning is already ready to do that in production form. It’s available this spring with intelligent backup power for the home—so grid functionality could be a future consideration.
Ford Intelligent Backup Power - F-150 Lightning
Following up on Ford’s announcement last month to split its EV and non-EV businesses, some speculated that the decision might lead to a direct-sales model for EVs. Not so, said CEO Jim Farley in an interview with Automotive News—though the model is evolving and it could likely mean non-negotiable prices for Ford EVs plus less dealer inventory.
Part of the buzz around solid-state battery technology is that it’s safer; yet new DOE-funded research suggests that isn’t always the case. A battery short due to a collision might still lead to solid-state cells overheating, with results not entirely unlike conventional lithium-ion cells, researchers found.
Ethanol producers have allied with a group of states to argue that the EPA is exceeding its authority with vehicle emissions standards for 2023 through 2026, because they allege it can’t effectively force automakers to produce electric cars.
Amid a surge in nickel and lithium prices, analysts see the surge in raw-materials costs leading to a rise in EV prices—with battery affordability gains possibly on hold until 2024. That would, by extension, have a lasting impact on EV affordability itself.
Although police departments around the country are looking for ways to electrify their fleets, there are few options as of yet. A recent report highlights that while EVs might do the job just fine, the market lacks upfit EVs ready and equipped for police duty.
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E police pilot vehicle
The EPA on Monday proposed stricter emissions standards for commercial vehicles, set to take effect in model year 2027. Although the new rules would dramatically cut smog-forming emissions, environmental groups said that they don’t go far enough in pushing electrification at a faster pace.
Several recent, ill-informed pieces have suggested that the more EVs there are in the fleet, the dirtier the power mix will need to be. But it’s quite the opposite, suggests RMI. More EVs likely means less pollution from utilities—because relatively simple tech like smart charging and time-of-use rates will help smooth loads and help utilities make the most of renewables.
2022 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
And due to the crisis overseas, gas-price concerns loom large in the coming weeks and months for those who can’t shift to a plug-in vehicle. That led us to update our annual roundup of affordable cars topping 50 mpg, for 2022.