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May 26, 2019
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electric vehicles

EV startup Rimac scores $90M investment from Hyundai and Kia

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Rimac Automobili, the European EV startup that landed an investment from Porsche last year, has again gained the backing of traditional automakers after Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motors jointly invested €80 million, or around $90 million.

Beyond the significant cash infusion, the three parties said the deal includes “a strategic partnership to collaborate on the development of high-performance electric vehicles.” In other words, Hyundai and Kia — both of which fall under the ownership of Hyundai Motor Group — plan to work very closely with Rimac, which is based in Croatia, to bring electric vehicles to market under their brands.

Already we have an idea of what that will look like.

Today’s announcement teased an electric car within Hyundai’s N sports car division and a “high-performance fuel cell electric vehicle,” both of which will include collaboration between the Korean group and Rimac. (It’s worth noting that Rimac is already a supplier for Hyundai Motor Group so the two sides are well acquainted.)

Rimac’s back story is fascinating. The company was founded in 2009 by then-21-year-old Mate Rimac who developed an electric vehicle in his garage. Today, the company is 500 people strong and aside from supplying parts to manufacturers — specifically high-voltage battery technology and electric powertrains — it designs in-car digital interfaces, runs a subsidiary-focused on electrics, and develops impressive electric “hypercars.” Its vehicles include the C Two, pictured at the top of this post at the Geneva International Motor Show.

The startup’s own boilerplate explains neatly why it is teaming up with major names like Porsche and Hyundai.

“The next challenge ahead is to grow from a low volume manufacturer of complex high-end electrification components, to an established Tier-1 supplier for the industry,” it reads.

Decades of automotive know-how from its investors with experience is sure to help there.

[Left to right] Mate Rimac, founder and CEO of Rimac Automobili, and Euisun Chung, Executive Vice Chairman of Hyundai Motor Group, seal the deal

As for Hyundai Motor Group, the Korean firm has embarked on a series of deals as it looks to tap into tech to grow its business. That’s included investments in companies like Grab in Southeast Asia ($250 million), car infotainment startup Audioburst and, in India, car rental service Revv and Uber rival Ola, in a deal related to its EV unit.

On the partnership side, Hyundai is working with Russia’s Yandex on self-driving tech, Amazon on virtual showrooms and more.

Google opens Android Automotive OS to Spotify, other media app developers

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Google is opening its Android Automotive operating system up to third-party developers to bring music and other entertainment apps into vehicle infotainment systems, starting with the Polestar 2, an all-electric vehicle developed by Volvo’s standalone electric performance brand.

Google announced Wednesday that media app developers will be able to create new entertainment experiences for Android Automotive OS and the Polestar 2, starting at Google I/O 2019, the annual developer’s conference that kicks off May 7.

Google is starting with media app developers such as Spotify and other entertainment sites. However, the company plans to expand into other categories of apps as well such as navigation, Haris Ramic, Google’s product lead for Android Automotive told TechCrunch in a recent interview.

Android Automotive OS shouldn’t be confused with Android Auto, which is a secondary interface that lies on top of an operating system. Android Automotive OS is modeled after its open-source mobile operating system that runs on Linux. But instead of running smartphones and tablets, Google modified it so it could be used in cars.

Polestar  introduced in February its first all-electric vehicle, a five-door fastback called the Polestar 2, ahead of the Geneva Motor Show. The Polestar 2’s infotainment system is powered by Android Automotive OS and, as a result, brings into the car embedded Google services such as Google Assistant, Google Maps and the Google Play Store.

Ramic noted that the system shown in Geneva has improved and now has updated Google Maps and a media center that allows third-party applications like Spotify, NPR and YouTube Music to function more seamlessly in the vehicles. These applications will be ready when the vehicle goes into volume production, which is slated to begin in early 2020 at its Chengdu, China factory. The company is initially targeting sales in China, the U.S., Canada and a handful of European countries that include Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the U.K.

Polestar isn’t the only company with plans to incorporate a version of its Android operating system into its car infotainment systems. Volvo announced in 2017 that it would use the Android OS and a year later said it would embed voice-controlled Google Assistant, Google  Play Store, Google Maps and other Google services into its next-generation Sensus infotainment system. lvo.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced Tuesday that it will use tech from Harman and Google to build out its connected-car services. Google’s Android Automotive OS will power FCA’s next version of its Uconnect infotainment system, while Samsung-owned Harman’s Ignite cloud platform will handle the out-of-car services.

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance has also publicly announced plans for Android Automotive OS as well as other automakers that Google can’t reveal at this time, Ramic said.

“Interest is very high,” Ramic said, noting that a growing number of companies have come to see the value in leveraging Google’s expertise.

That’s a shift from the traditionally protective stance of automakers intent of keeping Google out of the car. But as the divide between the capabilities of smartphones and in-car infotainment systems grows, automakers have been more willing to turn to Google.

Ford’s electrified vision for Europe includes its Mustang-inspired SUV and a lot of hybrids

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Ford of Europe’s vision for electrification includes 16 vehicle models — eight of which will be on the road by the end of this year — the company announced at its Go Further event in Amsterdam.

Those plans include a plug-in hybrid variant of its Kuga SUV, its Mustang-inspired crossover, and a commercial transit van.

Ford’s European electrification strategy is in line with its plans for North America to focus largely on hybrids. For instance, in a separate event on Tuesday Ford took the wraps off its latest generation of the Escape, a 2020 model vehicle for the North American market that is sportier, loaded with technology and, comes with hybrid and electric options.

Last year, Ford ramped up its plans, announcing that it would phase out most cars it sells in North America. Ford will continue to produce the Mustang and focus the rest of its efforts in North America on trucks, utilities and commercial vehicles, as well as a move into electric vehicles.

The operational piece of Ford of Europe’s strategy, which does include a couple of all-electric vehicles in the mix, namely the Mustang-eseque SUV, will be largely led by Stuart Rowley.

Rowley, who took over as vice present and president of the regional outfit on April 1, will be responsible for all operational leadership of the business unit, including acceleration of the European transformation strategy. He reports to Jim Farley, president of Ford Global Markets.

The majority of the vehicles introduced Tuesday at Ford of Europe’s event are either hybrid or plug-in hybrid vehicles. Two of those vehicles – a plug-in hybrid Explorer SUV and  a new plug-in hybrid Tourneo for the commercial van market – made their global debuts at the Go Further event.

A plug-in hybrid variant of Ford’s new mid-size Kuga SUV, which will have a 31-mile range for the battery piece of the hybrid picture, was also introduced along with new Fiesta EcoBoost Hybrid and Focus EcoBoost Hybrid models that feature mild-hybrid technology for optimized fuel-efficiency.

Ford focused on the commercial end of the market as well, with plans to bring an all-electric Transit van to Europe by 2021. Ford is bringing a plug-in hybrid version of the Transit van to market this year. This plug-in hybrid will have a 13.6 kWh lithium-ion battery pack and Ford’s 1-liter EcoBoost gas engine, which acts as a range extender. The powertrain will have an all-electric (sometimes referred to as a zero-emission driving range) of 31 miles, and a total 310 miles range using the range extender. The vehicle is being trialed in London, with further testing scheduled to start soon in Valencia, Spain, and Cologne, Germany.

The Ford of Europe event confirmed that the often-teased ‘Mustang-inspired’ electric crossover will be more than a North American market. The vehicle, Ford said Tuesday, will be able to travel 600 kilometers, or 370 miles, on a single charge when it comes to market in 2020, an estimate based on European fuel consumption and emissions standard known as WLTP.

The WLTP, or World Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure, is a new standard that is supposed to make European fuel economy labels more realistic. (In the past, ranges in Europe were wildly overstated compared to the more conservative EPA estimates. Vehicles in the U.S. use EPA estimates.

Ford has said it’s targeting a 300-mile range for its electric crossover in the United States.

Tesla Model Y orders are now open

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Customers can already place an order for the Tesla Model Y, a mid-sized crossover SUV that won’t go into production until 2020.

Tesla requires a $2,500 deposit to complete the order for the all-electric vehicle, according to information posted on its website. A disclaimer on the order form states that “production is expected to begin late next year.” Under that timeline, deliveries wouldn’t begin until late 2020 or possibly early 2021.

There are other clues on the order page, including that the seven-seat interior won’t be available until 2021. The Model Y will come standard as a five seater.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled the Model Y on Thursday night at the Tesla Design Studio in Los Angeles. During the presentation, Musk didn’t mention that customers could order the Model Y. That’s a departure from previous events, notably the Model 3 reveal in March 2016, which prompted thousands of people to put down $1,000 deposits.

The Model Y bears a striking resemblance to Model 3, and for good reason. The Model Y shares about 75 percent of the same parts as the Model 3.

The vehicle, which will come in a standard, long range, dual-motor all-wheel and performance variants, is larger than the Model 3, allowing it to accommodate seven people (for those who opt to pay the $3,000 up charge). The order page of the Model Y shows that it comes standard as a 5-seater. To get the 7-seater configuration, customers have to pay an additional $3,000.

The Model Y also sits higher than the Model 3, a distinction that is more obvious once you’re sitting inside. One of the most distinguishing differences is the Model Y has a panoramic roof.

The standard range version will start $39,000 and have 230 mile range. However, Tesla will first produce the performance, dual-motor and long range versions. Customers who want the standard range version of the Model Y will have to wait until at least spring 2021. The performance and dual motor variants will be able to travel 280 miles on a single charge, while the long-range version will, as it sounds, have the longest range at 300 miles.

All of the variants are designed to have the same kind of performance as its smaller sibling. The performance version of the Model Y will be able to travel from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3.5 seconds and reach a top speed of 150 mph.

But that kind of performance comes at a higher price. The performance version will start at $60,000. The dual motor variant will start at $51,000 and the base price of the long-range version will be $47,000.

The Tesla Model Y is a 300-mile range Model 3 doppelganger coming in fall 2020

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At first glance, it appeared that Tesla Model 3 had a doppelganger.

After years of teasers and hints, Tesla CEO Elon Musk finally unveiled the Model Y, a mid-sized all-electric vehicle that will start at $39,000 and is slated to hit the marketplace in fall 2020.

The Model Y bears a striking resemblance to Model 3. The vehicle, which will come in a standard, long range, dual-motor all-wheel and performance variants, is a bit larger,  allowing it to accommodate seven people. It also sits slightly higher than the Model 3.

And that’s where the differences start to fade away.

The Model Y has the same interior as the Model 3, including the same single 15-inch touchscreen interface as well as other features like the door handles.

The photo below is a Model 3. 

And now, the Model Y. Notice a slightly higher stance and shorter front end.

Other important specs

The standard range version will start $39,000 and have 230 mile range. However, Tesla will first produce the performance, dual-motor and long range versions. Customers who want the standard range version of the Model Y will have to wait until at least spring 2021. The performance and dual motor variants will be able to travel 280 miles on a single charge, while the long-range version will, as it sounds, have the longest range at 300 miles.

All of the variants are designed to have the same kind of performance as its smaller sibling. The performance version of the Model Y will be able to travel from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3.5 seconds and reach a top speed of 150 mph.

But that kind of performance comes at a higher price. The performance version will start at $60,000. The dual motor variant will start at $51,000 and the base price of the long-range version will be $47,000.

Musk didn’t say where the Model Y would be produced, nor did he get into other details beyond the vehicle specs and a vague timeline.

He did provide a bullish forecast for the Model Y, stating towards the end of the event that he expects Y sales to exceed Model S and Model X combined. Tesla has sold more than 500,000 vehicles to date, including the Roadster, S, X and 3.

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