Tesla sales, Audi e-tron range, Ford Escape Hybrid, Toyota hybrid patents: The Week in Reverse

Lucid Air prototype during high-speed test at Transportation Research Center, Ohio

Which startup automaker got a big boost toward production this week?

What automakers opened some of its patent library for free until 2030?

This is our look back at the Week In Reverse—right here at Green Car Reports—for the week ending April 5, 2019.

This week Tesla announced its first-quarter sales, and posted big drops for all its models, especially the Model S and Model X. The drop is an occasion to point to why it’s time to reform the plug-in vehicle tax credit in the U.S. Tesla also released an update to its Navigate on Autopilot software that should let it drive with less intervention on the highway.

Grove Hydrogen Automotive fuel-cell car

Tesla’s cross-town Silicon Valley startup competitor, Lucid Motors, got a big boost toward production of its Lucid Air sedan next year, as a $1 billion investment from Saudi Arabia was finalized. Half a state to the south, struggling startup Faraday Future revealed a few details of a new MPV it plans to produce there starting next year. And Chinese startup Nio, which trades on the New York Stock Exchange and plans eventually to sell cars in the U.S., gave a glimpse of a new fastback sedan concept it plans to introduce later this month at the Shanghai auto show. And a Chinese chemical company became the country’s newest automaker, announcing a new line of Grove fuel-cell cars.

Volkswagen 8-car MEB electric-car lineup

Volkswagen also gave a peek at the next member of its upcoming ID family of electric cars for China, the ID Roomzz full-size SUV. And electric motorcycle manufacturer Lightning revealed details of its new, more affordable Strike sport bike, which will have between 100 and 200 miles of range depending on the trim level.

2019 Audi e-tron first drive – Abu Dhabi UAE, December 2018

This week also brought two big announcements about the range of new upcoming models: The hotly anticipated Audi e-tron quattro SUV will get an official EPA range rating of 204 miles, despite its big 95-kwh battery pack. And Ford’s upcoming “Mach E,” (which may get a different name in production), earned a 370-mile range rating—on the gentle WLTP European driving cycle. Even so, it seems likely to meet its 300-mile range target in the U.S., and then some. 

Potential global pumped hydro storage sites [CREDIT: Matthew Stocks Australian National University)

All these new electric cars are going to need lots and lots of new batteries, and a new report shows supply contracts for lithium batteries increasing by as much as 50 percent in 2023. To go farther on the batteries they have, they can also use more efficient electric motors, such as the new Hunstable Electric Turbine design by Texas startup Linear Labs. And they’ll need a lot of electricity—ideally renewable electricity—to run. In all the talk about some sort of Green New Deal aiming to move toward 100 percent renewable electricity, storage will be mandatory—lots of storage. To that end, a new Australian study notes that pumped hydro storage may be more effective than batteries. 

2020 Ford Escape

Ford also revealed details of its upcoming Escape Hybrid and plug-in hybrid SUV. The 2020 Escape Hybrid is expected to get 40 mpg, while the Escape plug-in hybrid will have a 30-mile (or more) range rating.

We took a look at the most fuel-efficient full-size pickups in America, and the results may be surprising.

Toyota announced that it will release all its hybrid patents for free in an effort to ward off electric cars.

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