Will Apple Make Electric Cars?

My wife and I really enjoy driving our Ford C-Max Energi.  It’s the focus of this site.  However, it is really interesting to me that in the past few days, there’s been publications in the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Reuters and 9to5Mac about Apple creating a large team of employees working on an electric minivan.

The Wall Street Journal first reported this less than a week ago on February 13th.  According to the Journal, Apple is designing an electric minivan.  The car project lead is Steve Zadesky, a former Ford Engineer, who lead teams to create the iPod and iPhone.  The Journal said Mr Zadeskey was given the permission to create a 1,000-person team.  The Journal also said Apple hired Johann Jungwirth, who was the former president and chief executive of Mercedes-Benz Research and Development in North America.

Reuters published an article the next day, February 14th, that added Apple was working on self-driving and autonomous-driving electric cars.  It also said that Apple is recruiting experts in robotics.

Today, Bloomberg reports that Apple wants to start production of an electric car as early as 2020.  The article said that A123, a battery maker for electric vehicles, sued Apple because it is “poaching” their employees.  According to the lawsuit, this aggressive campaign to hire their employees started in June 2014.  The lawsuit also claimed, “Apple is currently developing a large-scale battery division to compete in the very same field as A123.”  The hiring of A123 employees started with former Ford engineer, Mujeeb Ijaz, who founded A123’s Venture Technology division researching materials, battery cells, and advanced concepts.  After starting at Apple in June, he hired other A123 employees according to Bloomberg.  Bloomberg also noted that Tesla’s Elon Musk complained this month about Apple offering $250,000 signing bonuses and 60 percent salary increases to hire away Tesla’s employees.

Also today, 9to5Mac reports many new hires at Apple.  Robert Gough, started in January from a company designing safety systems including airbags, radar and night vision.  David Nelson, a Tesla engineer that left and started at Apple this month.  At Tesla, he served as a mechanical engineer leading a team responsible for modeling, prediction and verification of motor and gearbox performance and efficiency.  Pete Augenbergs, an Apple employee since 2008 that formerly worked for Tesla, is a product design manager on the team.  Hugh Jay, a transmission and mechanical design engineer.  New hire, John Ireland, was a senior power train test engineer at Tesla since October 2013.  Previously, he worked for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on battery technologies to improve energy storage. Another new hire is David Perner, a Ford engineer that worked on “hybrid vehicle calibration, new vehicle launch, design and release…”  Perner worked on an upcoming hybrid Ford F-150.  9to5Mac reported the details of many more new hires on the Apple vehicle team.

The hybrid and plug-in vehicle market is definitely getting interesting.  In the meantime, I’m enjoying our Ford C-Max Energi.

Are You Ready to Pay for Not Consuming Gas?

C-Max Energi Charge Port

C-Max Energi J1772 Charge Port

I’ve written about different incentives for the Ford C-Max Energi, including a federal tax credit for the C-Max Energi, a tax credit for chargersfree public chargers, and HOV lane permits in New York and California.

Now, some states are passing or proposing new taxes on electric vehicle owners that aren’t consuming gas or hybrid owners that get too many miles per gallon.  Seriously.  I’m not kidding. Are Ford C-Max Hybrid and Energi owners ready to pay for not consuming enough gas?

According to an article from KSTW in Seattle, starting February 1st, 2013, electric-car owners in Washington State will pay one hundred dollars each year for road and highway improvements.  The law does not apply to hybrids and plug-in hybrids such as the Ford C-Max Energi, Ford Fusion Energi, Toyota Prius Plug-in or Chevrolet Volt.  It will apply to full electrics, such as the Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S, and Fisker Karma.

According to the Statesman Journal, Oregon’s legislature is considering a bill that would penalize owners of vehicles getting 55 mpg or better to pay a tax per mile driven or an alternative flat amount annually.  The rate per mile and alternative flat amount was “intentionally left blank” in the bill according to the Statesman Journal.  According to the paper, Oregon tested a pilot program for a tax per mile driven scheme. The newspaper stated, “Under the pilot, about 50 participants in Oregon paid 1.56 cents per mile and received a credit for the gas tax they paid at the pump. Participants, which mainly included transportation officials and lawmakers, chose from five plans with different ways to track miles driven and pay their bill.  They could report miles driven using a smartphone application, a geographic positioning system device or a reporting device without GPS.  Participants could also pay a flat annual charge or opt out of using a gadget in the vehicle to record miles.”  According to the article, Nevada and Washington are considering a per-mile tax too.  Washington is considering it as a new tax in addition to the new electric vehicle registration tax.

According to NBCWashington.com, Virginia’s Gov. Bob McDonnell is proposing that the gasoline tax be replaced with eight-tenths of a percent sales tax increase.  The rational is sales taxes are rising but the gasoline tax revenue is flat in Virginia.  In addition, all hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles, which includes the Ford C-Max Hybrid and Energi, would be hit with a new $100-per-year registration fee.

The Texas Tribune stated Rep. Drew Darby, who was vice chairman of the Texas House Transportation Committee during the last session, said that increasing registration fees on owners of electric cars was “one of the options on the table” to raise more highway funds in Texas.

Apparently, many politicians are hard at work figuring out how to tax the non-consumption of gasoline.  What do you think about these new laws and proposals?  Let me know.  Let your local politicians know if you live in Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Texas or Virginia.  If your state is trying to pass a new electrified vehicle tax, let me know too.  I want to publicize it.

Hat Tip to JD Taylor for the Tweet on the Virginia proposal.  Thanks.  This article was updated January 27th, 2013 Texas lawmakers considering fees.



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