+++ Toyota said it aims to develop a more advanced ELECTRIC car battery “in a few years” that will allow the Japanese automaker to build vehicles with up to 15 percent greater range and battery life than they have currently. “Lithium-ion battery is a key technology for electrifying cars, and there is a clear need, going forward, for improving this technology and its performance even more”, Hisao Yamashige, a battery technology researcher at Toyota, told a media briefing in Tokyo. Improving the performance of lithium-ion battery technology is a pressing issue for traditional automakers such as Toyota and new entrants such as Tesla because of its limiting characteristics. Producers of all-electric battery cars, plug-in electric hybrids, as well as conventional gas-electric hybrids are all striving to source or develop more advanced battery technologies to improve range, battery life and safety. Toyota, Japan’s biggest automaker by volume, has pioneered gasoline-electric hybrid technology and is gearing up to launch a new, near-all-electric plug-in hybrid called the Prius Prime. It is also aiming to come up with an all-electric battery car by about 2020. Using techniques developed in collaboration with a Japanese publicly-financed laboratory and four universities in Japan, Toyota engineers were able to better see in “real time” how lithium ions moved inside electrodes, Yamashige said. This should lead to new designs that prevent lithium ions from moving unevenly and bunching up in the electrodes, something that currently limits battery life and vehicle range and can be a factor in causing overheating, he said. +++

+++ FIAT CHRYSLER Automobiles (FCA) chief executive Sergio Marchionne believes Donald Trump’s election as the next US President could have a significant impact on the North American auto industry. Marchionne said that Trump’s election “certainly is a game changer, mainly because I think that there are a number of conditions in the U.S. which are not yet spelled out”. Throughout his campaign, Trump was fiercely critical of NAFTA and proposed huge tariffs on imports in an attempt to keep businesses and jobs in the United States. He took particular aim at carmakers moving production to Mexico, especially Ford, which is preparing to shift all of its small car production south of the border. In the first 10 months of 2016, The Detroit News reports that about 17 percent of FCA’s models were produced in Mexico. Of those, the vast majority were sold in the United States and Canada. If Trump does indeed enact a 35 percent tariff on such vehicles, it could hugely affect FCA. +++

+++ The 2017 model year for the US-spec FORD Focus Electric includes an important perk – an increase in the car’s operating range thanks to the deployment of a larger 33.5 kWh battery pack. The updated Ford Focus Electric will reach the United States soon with better range, a larger capacity battery and DC fast-charging becoming standard. The 2017 model year makes do without the current evolution of the battery that has a 23 kWh capacity and massively increases it to 33.5 kWh for an EPA range increase of 60 kilometers to a total of 185 kilometers. The company is on its towards developing a new family of green focused models (something in the line of the Ioniq range from Hyundai) which is when the company is rumored to offer beefier batteries and range. For now, it’s actually short of the Ioniq for example and we shouldn’t even start discussing the Chevrolet Bolt/Opel Ampera-E with its massive range. Even cheaper counterparts fare better, for example the new Renault Zoe ZE 40 will travel for at least 300 kilometers in real world conditions. The Focus Electric will have the same 107kW electric motor and it appears that stylistic changes are also not accounted for. +++

+++ The range of PORSCHE ’s entry-level 718 Boxster and Cayman sports cars is about to get wider as the company is planning to add a faster variant to sit above the Boxster and Cayman S models. This more powerful version is rumored to be offered under the GTS moniker. Porsche will add an extra spoiler lip under the front bumper in order to get extra downforce. The chassis will get upgraded with a lower and stiffer suspension and different wheels, while there’s also going to be a new sports exhaust. While the previous GTS was only 15 hp more powerful from the S, Porsche is now expected to widen the power gap between the two, mostly because of the latest four-cylinder turbocharged 2.5-litre engine. With the current S currently offering 350 hp, the new GTS is expected to pack at least 375 hp. Porsche will offer the faster, more capable Boxster and Cayman with a manual gearbox as standard and the PDK dual-clutch as an option. As for the Spyder and GT4, these will reportedly continue to use a naturally aspirated flat six engine. +++

+++ SSANGYONG is planning a number of electric models to launch by the end of the decade, according to its UK boss, Paul Williams. The company’s plan for electric vehicles (EV) hasn’t been finalized yet but Williams told that it may forge a partnership with another brand that can supply the South Korean automaker with the batteries it requires. So far, SsangYong has reached the point of starting to test all-electric Tivoli prototypes. “When you’re small, you can’t afford to take those risks associated with investment in EV tech”, said Williams. “Nissan and Renault have invested a lot, for example, but had to wait a long time to see a return. SsangYong could tie up with another brand like BMW”. In all probability, SsangYong will initially launch electric variants of its existing models rather than making ground-up EVs, like Volkswagen is planning to do. Among future models that could receive electrification include the next generation Korando. +++

+++ The determination of TESLA fans truly knows no bounds, as evidenced by the Moscow Tesla Club. Although Tesla does not sell its cars in Russia, and it has no plans to do so according to Bloomberg, people have still purchased them, and those cars need support. Speaking at a conference in the US hosted by the Tesla Motors Club, Igor Antarov, the man in charge of the club, explained how the club does this. One of the main ways is in the club’s creation of an unofficial service center. This is a big help to the roughly 300 Tesla owners in the club, since they won’t have to ship their cars to other European countries for repairs and support. Antarov mentioned that the club has reached out to Tesla in hopes that the service center could become official. The club offers more than just service though. It also helps connect owners, hosts and sponsors event, and it sells cars. According to the organization’s website, they have a few Teslas for sale right now, along with a variety of other EVs. It also states that if they don’t have the right model and specification of Tesla, they will go to Europe or the US to purchase and import your desired car. The website also highlights the construction of a charging station to allow owners to drive their Teslas from Moscow to Lithuania without having to make an overnight stop. This is also another story showing just how dedicated Tesla fans are to the car and the brand. We’ve seen incidents in the US of Tesla owners taking it upon themselves to go where the company can’t. In Michigan, a state which still doesn’t allow Tesla’s company-owned dealers, the state’s approximately 400 Tesla owners started offering test drives to potential buyers. This kept those possible buyers from having to go all the way to Chicago or Cleveland in the US, or Windsor in Canada to try out a Tesla. +++

+++ TOYOTA expects hybrid cars to make up 20 percent of its total vehicle sales in India by 2020 from less than 2 percent today, a senior company official told. Toyota, which already sells the Camry hybrid in India, plans to introduce hybrid technology in models like the Corolla and Prius and could introduce it for SUVs and MPVs, Akito Tachibana, managing director of Toyota’s India business said. The Japanese carmaker also plans to work with its low-cost car-making division, Daihatsu, to develop clean fuel technology vehicles for emerging markets like India, Tachibana said, where affordability is an issue. The development costs of hybrid vehicles means they are out of reach for a vast majority of India’s first-time car buyers, which then makes it difficult for carmakers to achieve the volumes needed to bring down the price. For instance, Toyota’s Camry hybrid is priced starting at 3.3 million rupees ($47,932), about 15 times the price of a petrol variant of one of India’s top-selling small cars. Toyota will work to increase the amount of components it sources from the Indian domestic market to bring down the overall cost of manufacturing hybrids, Tachibana said. Several Indian cities have high levels of air pollution partly caused by automobiles. Earlier this month, New Delhi shut schools, put construction projects on hold and advised people to stay indoors as part of an “emergency” plan to deal with dangerous levels of air pollution. Authorities in New Delhi also began revoking licenses for diesel vehicles more than 15 years old which could remove as many as 200,000 cars from the city’s roads. Late last year, the country’s top court banned the sale of large diesel cars in New Delhi. “We think that hybrid and plug-in hybrid technology is the best solution in India”, Tachibana said, adding that this clean fuel technology is also needed to meet India’s stricter emission and fuel efficiency norms starting in 2017. Toyota’s sales in India rose about 3 percent in the first 7 months of the current fiscal year ending March 31, 2017, compared with the same period a year ago, according to India’s auto industry body the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. The number of Toyota vehicles sold for that period was 83,633, according to auto industry body data and Toyota’s market share was 5 percent. Total passenger vehicle sales in India rose 11 percent over the same period to 1.77 million. +++

+++ It may be totally legal, but something about this bit of news is likely going to smell funny to a lot of people. VOLKSWAGEN , which is paying almost $15 billion in the US to clean up its diesel scandal mess. Two billion of that needs to be spent on zero-emission infrastructure, and that’s already stirred up some controversy. Volkswagen is now saying that whatever its investment will be, it might just make money off of it. Again, there’s nothing in the settlement between Volkswagen and government regulators prohibiting this. EPA enforcement chief Cynthia Giles told lawmakers (who will be holding a hearing on the settlement on December 1 and have been asking questions in advance of that meeting) that, “While Volkswagen remains subject to all applicable laws, there is nothing in the consent decree that prevents Volkswagen from obtaining revenue from ZEV-related investments. Unlike the $2.7 billion that Volkswagen must place into a trust that will be administered by an independent trustee for the purpose of reducing Nix pollution, the ZEV investment requirement will be a business investment made by Volkswagen. Volkswagen may see a benefit from mandatory ZEV investments, and that would not be inconsistent with the consent decree. Volkswagen could have decided to make these investments even without this enforcement case, but now it is required to do so”. The hearing will be held by the US House Energy and Commerce Committee because, “questions remain in regards to the implementation of [the settlement’s] provisions”. More to come next week.+++

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