This Week in EVs: Disaster Edition

It’s been a few weeks since my last TWiEVs post, but there hasn’t been much to cover. No matter, the biggest news in the world of automotive electric propulsion has really been flooding in this week (pun intended). Once again I’ve gathered some electric vehicle and battery news from around the net for SU readers to gain some insight into Saab’s new challenges.

Image from Jalopnik

Battery safety has been called into question this week after several Fisker Karmas and Toyota Prii (priuses?) spontaneously combusted after burning at port after being inundated by the storm surge of Superstorm Sandy. That same storm made getting gas an extreme headache for anyone with a car in downstate New York and northern New Jersey as many readers here can attest, we’ll look into how having more EVs might change that.

And speaking of EVs in North America, there’s some new studies out that show the US will actually lead plug-in sales in the next few years and that China will surprisingly not meet anticipated targets. Someone might want to tell those guys at NEVS they might want to rethink their Chinacentric model?

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A Tale of Two Electric Startups – Fisker

Now that NEVS’s purchase of Saab’s assets are complete, a clearer picture of their future plans is emerging. While none of us know exactly where the road will take the company, one thing is clear- with a business model based on electric propulsion, they will effectively be operating as a startup company. In a previous story, we looked at Tesla as an example of an automotive startup that has proven a successful business case exists for electric cars. I’d like to continue looking at the other gorilla in the electric start-up room, Fisker, and focus more on their own missteps, so that we can watch and hopefully sound the alarm if we see NEVS in a similar situation.

Their first model, a $100K+ roadster, enabled them to test out their battery and control systems at an almost break even level. But for their first volume model, they didn’t want to compromise– they wanted a game changing mid-sized sedan. Indeed, Tesla has reduced the development process of their Model S sedan to its most salient details in order to exploit the best out of what electric propulsion provides– we’ll look at those in future articles. And by every measure of achievement, they’ve succeeded in silencing their critics. The respected auto journalist Dan Neil lost his bet with Tesla CEO Elon Musk that the Model S wouldn’t come to market on time, and paid $1,000 to charity as payment. Tesla has forecasted profitability next year, less than a year after delivery of the first Model S, due mostly to strong presale demand. They’ve presold 12,000 cars, and will break even around 8,000- showing that if NEVS wants to succeed, they must follow a similar path and leverage the support and initially target people like you and every reader of SU to survive.

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