Independently tested Volvo truck exceeds official range

Independently tested Volvo truck exceeds official range

Trucking journalist Jan Burgdorf has put a Volvo FH Electric truck through its paces on an independent test using Germany’s Green Truck Route, a 343 km long route that includes a variety of motorways, hilly terrains, and tighter roads that is used for testing different manufacturer’s trucks in a wide range of conditions.

Acccording to a press release from Volvo, the 40 tonne gross weight fully loaded zero-exhaust emission vehicle exceeded its official range and used 50% less energy than its diesel counterpart.

During the Green Truck Route tests, the Volvo achieved an average speed of 80 km/h across the whole route and used 50% less energy than a Volvo FH with a comparable diesel engine.

“The electric driveline is very efficient, making the all-electric truck a very powerful tool for reducing CO2 emissions,” comments Tobias Bergman, Press Test Director at Volvo Trucks.

“And based on the energy consumption of 1.1 kWh/km, the electric truck had a total range of 345 km on one charge,” he adds.

“These test results show that it is possible to drive up to 500 km during a regular work-day, with a short stop for charging, for example during lunch time,” explains Tobias Bergman.

And according to the driver, German journalist Burgdorf observed, “I have to say, when driving this truck it is as agile, or even more agile, than a diesel truck. Drivers will be very surprised about how easy it is to drive, how quiet it is and how well it responds.”

Volvo Trucks’ goal is that electric vehicles will account for half of its truck sales in 2030 and by 2040 will have achieved 100% well-to-wheel based CO2-reduction for new trucks sold.

Audi realises its novel urban charging concept in Nuremberg

Audi realises its novel urban charging concept in Nuremberg

German car maker Audi has opened the first of its unique charging cubes, conceptually first revealed in May last year, that utilise second-life batteries and low-voltage grid connections.

The new facility at an exhibition centre in Nuremberg is built using containers equipped with second-life batteries which can be assembled and disassembled in only a few days.

The Nuremberg cube offers a total of six fast-charging points, each offering up to 320kW of charging power.

Significantly the facility operates using only a 200KW low-voltage power connection, which is sufficient to keep the batteries charged sufficiently to act as a buffer and provide up to 2.45MWh of interim storage.

Roof mounted solar panels provide additional battery top-up power and Audi believes around 80 EVs can be charged daily with the hub’s 200kW supply as the only external power input.

Initially promoted as a design concept, this combination not only provides a use for end-of-life EV bus batteries but also avoids the need for complex infrastructure such as high-voltage power lines and expensive transformers.

Audi says the chargers will provide an e-tron GT with an additional range of 100-kilometres in around 5 minutes, however it’s not necessarily about speed as the facility offers a number of “premium” charging experiences such as a just-in-time delivery service for food, an exchange station for electric bike batteries, an electric scooter lending service, information about various Audi products, as well as test drives in theAudi Q4 e-tron and RS e-tron GT.

“Our customers will share multiple benefits,” said Ralph Hollmig, Audi charging hub project manager. “We want to use it to test flexible and premium-oriented quick-charging infrastructure in urban spaces where our customers don’t necessarily wake up in the morning with a fully charged electric car.”

Tesco to use the UK’s first fully electric heavy trucks

Tesco to use the UK’s first fully electric heavy trucks

The UK’s leading supermarket chain Tesco is to take delivery of the county’s first commercial fully electric heavy freight articulated trucks.

Two 37 tonne DAF trucks will carry food and other products from Wentloog rail terminal outside Cardiff to Tesco’s distribution centre at Magor, near Newport, in partnership with international freight forwarding company FSEW.

At around 30 miles each way, the Wentloog – Magor journey is said to be “an ideal location to understand the potential and range of these lorries for use throughout the UK and elsewhere in Tesco’s fleet”.

The two trucks will replace around 65,000 diesel-powered miles and remove more than 87 tonnes of CO2 per year. The lorries, which should have a real-world range of 100 miles, will use charging infrastructure installed by FSEW.

Tesco CEO Jason Tarry said, “Tesco’s distribution network is one of the largest in the UK and plays an important role in our efforts to become net zero in our own operations by 2035. We’ve already made progress by starting our switch to electric home delivery vans and rolling out electric vehicles charging points for our customers. I’m excited that Tesco can also lead the way in electric haulage innovation, helping to tackle this last source of road transport emissions with the support of FSEW.”

Tesco is also aiming to achieve net-zero emissions in its own operations by 2035, while FSEW is working to replace more than 40 diesel vehicles with low-carbon alternatives and switch to fleet-wide zero-emission transport operations by 2025.

“This is a landmark day for us here at FSEW, representing a major step forward in our commitment to providing zero-emissions transport freight services,” says Geoff Tomlinson, FSEW Managing Director.

“Together we are working to create a cleaner and greener logistics experience. This is transformational for the UK’s commercial and retail industries and is just the start of our work to supply electric heavy freight vehicles to customers such as Tesco.”

“Setting the industry standard is important to us,” he continues, “which is why we also have plans underway to create an eFreight hub in Cardiff which will include a low carbon fuel facility for the use of all freight providers and commercial and municipal operators.”

Mercedes becomes world’s first to get Level 3 autonomous driving approval

Mercedes becomes world’s first to get Level 3 autonomous driving approval

Mercedes-Benz has become the world’s first automotive company to meet the legal requirements for a Level 3 hands-free driving system. The German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) has granted system approval under United Nation regulation UN-R157, which paves the way for offering the system internationally provided that national legislation allows it.

Mercedes-Benz’s customers will be able to buy an S-Class with DRIVE PILOT in the first half of 2022, enabling them to drive in “conditionally automated mode” at speeds of up to 60 km/h on suitable stretches of motorway in Germany.

When in automated mode, DRIVE PILOT allows the driver to perform tasks on the central display such as online shopping or processing e-mails.

Markus Schäfer, Board member of Daimler and Mercedes-Benz, Chief Technology Officer responsible for Development and Purchasing, says, “For many years, we have been working to realise our vision of automated driving. With this LiDAR based system, we have developed an innovative technology for our vehicles that offers customers a unique, luxurious driving experience and gives them what matters most: time. With the approval of the authorities, we have now achieved a breakthrough: We are the first manufacturer to put conditionally automated driving into series production in Germany.”

He adds, “With this milestone, we are initiating a radical paradigm shift. For the first time in 136 years of automotive history, the vehicle takes over the dynamic driving task under certain conditions. At the same time, we are pleased that Germany is continuing its pioneering role in automated driving with this approval.”

Galp and Northvolt develop European lithium processing plant

Galp and Northvolt develop European lithium processing plant

Portuguese oil company Galp Energia and Swedish battery maker Northvolt this week announced a joint venture to invest 700 million euros ($790 million) to build a lithium ore processing plant in Portugal, which should start operating by the end of 2025.

The companies said in a statement the plant, with an initial annual production capacity of up to 35,000 tonnes of battery-grade lithium hydroxide, is “aligned with the Portuguese and European industrialisation efforts related to energy transition”.

Over half of the world’s lithium is used to make rechargeable batteries used in mobile phones and laptops, but demand from electric vehicles is set to dwarf current uses. China currently manufactures 80% of the world’s lithium-ion cells.

Reuters reports that Galp and Northvolt are looking for a site for the plant but hope to turn on the machines in 2025, with commercial production due to begin the following year.

Northvolt, whose biggest shareholder is Volkswagen, said the plant would be Europe’s largest and start commercial operations in 2026.

“The joint venture is currently conducting technical and economic studies and looking at several possible site locations”, Northvolt said in a statement.

The plant will be able to deliver enough lithium hydroxide for 50 gigawatt hours of battery production per year, with Northvolt using up to 50% of the plant’s capacity for its battery making.

Northvolt co-founder Paolo Cerruti said, “The development of a European battery manufacturing industry provides tremendous economic and societal opportunity for the region. Extending the new European value chain upstream to include raw materials is of critical importance. This joint venture represents a major investment into this area, and will position Europe with not only a path to domestic supply of key materials required in the manufacturing of batteries, but the opportunity to set a new standard for sustainability in raw materials sourcing. This initiative comes to complement a global sourcing strategy based on high sustainability standards, diversified sources and reduced exposure to geopolitical risks”.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reposition Europe as a leader in an industry that will be vital to bringing down global CO2 emissions, in line with European and Portuguese climate-change priorities,” adds Galp CEO, Andy Brown. “To be successful in this drive, we must all work together, industry and decision makers, with a sense of urgency, because if we do not claim this role today, others will.”

Localisation with international collaboration underpins VinFast’s battery factory

Localisation with international collaboration underpins VinFast’s battery factory

Vietnamese automotive manufacturer VinFast has started construction of its VinES Battery Manufacturing Factory in the Vung Ang Economic Zone in Vietnam, backed by investment of nearly US$ 175million.

The VinES Battery Manufacturing Factory will produce batteries for VinFast’s electric cars and buses, with phased development working towards a planned output of one million battery packs per year.

Vingroup recently announced it is working with international strategic partners leading including Israel’s StoreDot, Taiwan’s ProLogium, and China’s Gotion High-Tech to “produce the world’s best batteries and conduct in-house research and development for battery production”.

Speaking at the factory ground-breaking ceremony, Nguyen Viet Quang, Vice President & CEO of Vingroup, said, “The research and construction of this battery manufacturing factory reflects our efforts to establish a clean energy ecosystem that contributes to the localisation of VinFast’s supply. Furthermore, we have been promoting collaboration with many prestigious partners around the world to research, develop and apply cutting-edge battery technologies such as super-fast charging, 100% solid-state batteries and highly advanced battery materials.”

Thai Thi Thanh Hai, Vice Chairwoman of Vingroup and Vice-Chair of Board of Members of VinFast, added, “This is in the focus of VinFast’s localisation strategy of supply. The strategy enables us to own our supply chain of batteries and parts and to keep VinFast at the forefront of battery technology innovation. This, in turn, helps us provide high-quality products at reasonable prices and drive the movement of the global smart electric vehicle revolution.”

VinFast last month introduced two electric car models, the VF e35 and VF e36, at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Volvo and Northvolt to open $3bn battery R&D centre in Sweden

Volvo and Northvolt to open $3bn battery R&D centre in Sweden

Volvo Cars and Northvolt will open a joint research and development centre in Sweden’s second city Gothenburg to aid in battery development and manufacturing.

Volvo says the new facility, which comes as part of a SEK 30 billion (US$ 3.3 bn) investment, will position it as one of the few automotive brands to make battery cell development and production part of its end-to-end engineering capabilities.

“Our partnership with Northvolt secures the supply of high-quality, sustainably-produced batteries for the next generation of pure electric Volvos,” says Håkan Samuelsson, chief executive for Volvo Cars. “It will strengthen our core competencies and our position in the transformation to a fully electric car company.”

The partnership will focus on developing batteries specifically for Volvo’s cars, emphasising long ranges and quick charging times. Northvolt, which specialises in sustainable battery cells and systems, will help Volvo “create a true end-to-end system” for batteries with the automaker developing and building its batteries in-house, rather than outsourcing them to a specialist supplier.

“Volvo Cars is an excellent partner on the road towards building up a supply of battery cells that are made in Europe with a very low carbon footprint, and that are optimised through vehicle integration to get the best performance out of the next-generation EVs,” says Peter Carlsson, chief executive for Northvolt.

The two companies are also in the final stage of selecting the location for their joint battery plant in Eutopre. This plant is expected to have an annual production capacity of up to 50 GWh – enough batteries for around half a million cars per year.

Construction on this site is expected to begin in 2023, with large scale production starting three years later. Up to 3,000 people will be employed at the plant.

Volvo has pledged to sell 50% pure electric cars by 2025 and to be solely electric by 2030.

GRIDSERVE ramps up UK roll-out of electric charging forecourts

GRIDSERVE ramps up UK roll-out of electric charging forecourts

The UK’s GRIDSERVE has announced that more than 20 ‘Electric Hubs’ – each featuring between six and twelve 350kW ultra high-power chargers with contactless payment, capable of adding up to 100 miles of range in less than 10 minutes – will open at motorway service stations across the UK by Q2 2022. The majority are planned to be installed by the end of March.

The roll-out includes a flagship electric charging forecourt at London’s Gatwick Airport – the first in the world to be hosted at an international airport.

The site will serve the tens of millions of passengers, commuters, staff, local residents and businesses that pass through the airport and its surrounding motorway network each year.

It will enable 36 EVs to be charged simultaneously, with high-power chargers that can deliver up to 350 kW of charging power, capable of adding 100 miles of range in less than 10 minutes. Multiple charging connectors will cater for all types of electric cars.

The site will host a café, waiting lounge with free superfast WiFi, convenience supermarket, children’s play area and a dedicated display area to increase awareness around electric vehicles.

The site will be supplied with 100% renewable net zero carbon energy generated by GRIDSERVE’s own solar farms.

The investment programme forms part of GRIDSERVE’s plan to revolutionise EV charging across the UK, following the acquisition of Ecotricity’s Electric Highway network in June, 2021.

Since the acquisition, GRIDSERVE has invested tens of millions of pounds in the network to develop the new Electric Hubs, replace the 300+ existing motorway chargers it inherited from Ecotricity, and install 130 additional AC chargers to cater for all types of EVs.

Toddington Harper, CEO of GRIDSERVE, says, “Our mission is to deliver sustainable energy and move the needle on climate change, and that is exactly what we are doing – delivering. Getting people into electric vehicles is a big part of our vision but to do that, charging has to be simple and free of anxiety, which is why we’ve designed our network entirely around the needs of drivers, listening to our customers’ needs and providing the best possible level of customer service to deliver the confidence people need to make the switch to electric transport today, 8-years ahead of the 2030 ban on petrol and diesel cars.”

He adds, “Gatwick isn’t just an airport, it’s an ecosystem of commuters, travellers, staff, taxi drivers, car rental companies, local residents and businesses, all culminating in a transport hub that hosts tens of millions of drivers every single year. The Gatwick Electric Forecourt will give these drivers and businesses the confidence to switch away from petrol and diesel cars, making electric journeys to and from one of the country’s most important transport hubs straightforward and sustainable.”

Jonathan Pollard, Chief Commercial Officer, Gatwick Airport, comments, “We are on a journey to create a low carbon economy, and Gatwick is keen to play an important role by providing new infrastructure that everyone can use, so that together we can start reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.”

VW consolidates European battery activities

VW consolidates European battery activities

Volkswagen has established a new European company to consolidate activities along the value chain for batteries – from processing raw materials and developing more efficient batteries to managing the European gigafactories. The company’s scope will include new business models based around reusing discarded car batteries and recycling the raw materials they contain.

Located at VW’s site in Salzgitter, Lower Saxony, Germany, the consolidation will bring together development, planning and production control under one roof, and will thus become the Volkswagen Group’s battery centre. Battery cell production in Salzgitter is set to start in 2025.

There are plans to build additional gigafactories at sites in Spain and Eastern Europe.

The company has also announced two new appointments related to its battery operations.

Soonho Ahn will take on a leading role in the development of battery cells. Following appointments at LG and Samsung, Ahn’s most recent post was as Global Head of Battery Development at Apple.

Kai Alexander Müller of Barclays Investment Bank, London, will also make the switch to Salzgitter, where he will contribute his financial experience in the capital market and in equity research.

Thomas Schmall, member of the Board of Management for technology at Volkswagen AG and CEO of Volkswagen Group Components, says, “We want to offer our customers powerful, inexpensive and sustainable vehicle batteries, which means we need to be active at all stages of the battery value chain that are critical for success. We are now bundling our power in Salzgitter, with the aim of encouraging innovation and securing the support of the best partners for our new company going forward. We already have a strong battery team in Salzgitter made up of 500 employees from 24 countries – and we are continuing to strengthen this team at leadership level.”

Wenea and NewMotion share access to EV charging infrastructure

Wenea and NewMotion share access to EV charging infrastructure

Spain’s Wenea and Shell-owned NewMotion, both providers of electric vehicle charging services, have reached an interoperability agreement giving improved access to charging infrastructure across Europe.

The arrangement is designed to offer “a single network of reliable, guaranteed and accessible charging points”. Through the collaboration Wenea customers will be able to use the 13,000 public charging stations available from NewMotion, which is to be renamed Shell Recharge Solutions in the New Year. While EV drivers using the Shell Recharge card and app can access Wenea’s charging network in Spain for the first time.

The alliance will materialise through the integration of their respective platforms, which is expected to be completed during the first quarter of 2022.

Wenea CEO, Alberto Cantero said, “This interoperability agreement represents an improvement in the coverage of services to our customers, making a wide network of charging stations available to them. Thanks to the roaming technology implemented on our platform, we will be able to serve a large number of new markets, including the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany and Belgium.”

This agreement, says Wenea, is part of its global objective of “democratising electric vehicle charging” by offering the largest fast and rapid charging network in Europe.

Jean Baptiste Guntzberger, NewMotion’s Regional Manager Southern Europe adds, “Access to charging infrastructure is an important consideration before drivers transition to electric mobility. To provide EV drivers with this much-needed access, roaming partnerships such as this are key. It’s great that with this partnership we have expanded our network with 277 rapid charge points. With our Shell Recharge charge card and app we now offer access to over 250,000 public charge points in 35 countries in Europe, including over 4,250 in Spain.”

Netherlands-based NewMotion was aquired by Shell in 2017 and supports Shell’s goal to operate 500,000 charge points by 2025, including 30,000 public charge points.

NIO installs 700th battery swapping station in China with an eye on Europe

NIO installs 700th battery swapping station in China with an eye on Europe

Chinese EV manufacturer NIO has opened its 700th battery-swapping station in China. The facility was installed, ahead of schedule, in Lianyungang City, Jiangsu Province.

In July this year, NIO announced a revised target of 700 stations by the end of the year, smashing its previous stated target of 500. The accelerated rollout has focused on urban areas. At the end of November, more than 40% of NIO users lived within 3km of their nearest battery swapping station. Each battery swap station now serves around 250 cars.

The service forms part of NIO Power, a range of battery management services designed to simplify electric car use. The automated swapping process takes just three minutes to switch to a fully-charged unit and NIO’s Battery-as-a-Service (BaaS) programme allows drivers to select different battery capacities depending on their needs.

By the end of 2025, NIO is planning to operate more than 4,000 active battery swapping stations and through a recently signed strategic partnership with Shell has plans to expand to Europe.

Swedish researchers find shortest distance not always the least energy

Swedish researchers find shortest distance not always the least energy

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have developed tools to help electric delivery-vehicles to use as little energy as possible. The secret, they say, lies in looking beyond just the distance travelled, and instead focusing on overall energy usage. The approach has led to energy savings of up to 20 per cent.

“We have developed systematic tools to learn optimal energy usage. Additionally, we can ensure that electric vehicles are not running out of battery or charging unnecessarily in complex traffic networks”, says Balázs Kulcsár, Professor at the Department of Electrical Engineering at Chalmers University of Technology.

The research is the latest result from a joint project between Chalmers and Volvo Group that investigates how electric vehicles can be used for distribution tasks. The new algorithm for learning and planning the optimal path of electric vehicles is so efficient that it is already being used by Volvo Group.

In the study, the researchers investigated how a fleet of electric trucks can deliver goods in a complex and crowded traffic network. The challenge is how delivery vehicles carrying household goods should best plan their routes. By working out the optimal order to deliver to customers, the vehicles can be driven for as long as possible without needing to interrupt the work to recharge unnecessarily.

Route planning for electric vehicles has normally tended to assume that the lowest mileage is also the most efficient, and therefore focused on finding the shortest route as the priority. Balázs Kulcsár and his colleagues focused instead on overall battery usage as the key goal, and looked for routes with the lowest possible energy consumption.

“In real traffic situations a longer distance journey may require less energy than a shorter one, once all the other parameters that affect energy consumption have been accounted for”, Balázs Kulcsár explains.

The researchers modelled the energy consumption by looking into many factors including speed, load, traffic information, how hilly different routes were, and opportunity charging points.

The energy consumption model was then entered into a mathematical formula, resulting in an algorithm for calculating a route that allows the vehicles to make the deliveries using as little energy as possible. By accounting for extra factors such as these, the researchers’ new method allowed the vehicles to reduce their energy consumption by up to 20 per cent.

Because the electric delivery vehicles operate in complex real-world situations, there can often be unforeseen complications the energy usage forecasts will tbe further optimised through machine learning, with data collected from the vehicles being sent back to the tool for further input and analysis.

“Taken together, this will allow us to adapt route-planning to uncertain and changing conditions, minimising energy consumption and ensuring successful urban distribution”, Balázs Kulcsár says.

Japanese developer of DC motors targets European expansion

Japanese developer of DC motors targets European expansion

Japan’s Nidec Corporation, a developer and distributor of electric motors, is to establish a European manufacturing base with the construction of a new factory at Novi Sad in Serbia.

The facility is expected to be completed by mid-2022 and is “a central foundation” for Nidec’s advanced technological manufacturing and sales of high-frequency brushless DC motors and associated products, mainly for the European market.

Nidec’s products are found in a wide range of commercial and manufacturing equipment, most notably in cars, hard-disk drives and electric appliances.

In a press statement, the company said, “Nidec is looking to design and develop products locally in Serbia and will enhance relationships with local academic and research institutions to actively hire engineers”.

It adds, “As a part of establishment of supply chain in the Eastern Europe and preparations for operation in Serbia, the company will enhance selection of local suppliers for the production equipment and service providers in the region, and contribute to the enhancement of local economy throughout those activities”.

The ground-breaking ceremony was attended by Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and Takahiko Katsumata the Ambassador of Japan to Serbia.

Traditional powertrain suppliers poorly placed to benefit from Europe’s EV transition

Traditional powertrain suppliers poorly placed to benefit from Europe’s EV transition

A new report assessing the impact of the EV transition on employment in the EU’s automotive powertrain sector forecasts a 43% drop in employment opportunities up to 2040.

The report from Strategy&, PwC’s global strategy consulting team, commissioned by LEPA the Brussels-based European Association of Automotive Suppliers, predicts up to half a million jobs will be lost in traditional internal combustion engine powertrain production.

The analysis suggests these will be partially compensated by new opportunities in EV powertrain production, which will generate 226,000 new jobs, but existing automotive suppliers are not well positioned to take advantage.

The report considered three scenarios with market shares for electrified vehicles of 50%, 80%, and 100% by 2030.

LEPA says the automotive manufacturing sector is responsible for more than 5% of the overall manufacturing employment in 13 EU Member States, with more than 60% of these workers employed by automotive suppliers.

The study, it adds, provides a much-needed European-wide assessment and further identifies the risks and opportunities in seven major production countries for automotive components (Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Czechia, Poland, and Romania). The study is also the first to evaluate the impact of different policy pathways to reach Green Deal objectives with a focus on automotive suppliers.

LEPA says that while automakers have greater capacity to divest activities to compensate for a loss of activity in the powertrain domain, automotive suppliers can react with much less agility, as they are bound by long-term contracts with vehicle manufacturers and have less access to capital to invest in the transformation of their business models.

The study substantiates that electric vehicle opportunities hinge on the establishment of a deep EU battery supply chain, the timing and likelihood of which are still uncertain.

While electrification puts powertrain employment at risk on the one hand, other workforce skills around areas such as software or infrastructure will be needed in the future. The future value-add and job creation in powertrain technologies depends on local battery production in Europe.

Henning Rennert, Partner at PwC Strategy& in Germany says, “The study substantiates that up to 70% of the value creation related to electric powertrains will be connected to the processing of battery materials, the production of battery cells and cells modules, and the assembly of battery systems.

“These activities will not necessarily be with the same companies or in the same regions, as they require significantly different skills and expertise compared to conventional powertrain technology and are therefore unlikely to provide opportunities to most powertrain-oriented automotive suppliers.

Earlier research by CLEPA illustrated that battery production provides relatively more jobs for academically schooled employees and less for the mechanical workers that are now producing parts related to the internal combustion engine.

Key findings:

  • A slight employment increase in ICE powertrain is expected between 2020 and 2025 due to advanced ICE technologies (EURO7) and demand increase, followed by constant decline.
  • 226,000 new jobs are foreseen in EV powertrain production (assuming an EU battery chain), with a net loss of 275,000 jobs (-43% jobs) projected from now until 2040.
  • 501,000 auto supplier jobs in Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) powertrain components production are expected to become obsolete if technology is phased-out by 2035 (84% of current ICE jobs).
  • Of those half a million jobs, 70% (359,000) will most likely be lost in a 5-year period from 2030-2035.
  • There is not a 1:1 compensation from ICE to EV powertrain employment; different companies, different skill sets, different regions and at different times.
  • Western European countries will likely be best placed as strongholds in EV production. By contrast, Central Eastern European countries will shape the run-down of ICE vehicle production.
Toyota to build its first US battery factory in North Carolina

Toyota to build its first US battery factory in North Carolina

Toyota North America has confirmed it is to build its first US battery factory in North Carolina. The new $1.29 billion lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant will be at what the Japanese car maker is calling the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite, some 60 miles from North Carolina’s state capital, Raleigh.

When it comes online in 2025 the plant will have four production lines, each capable of delivering enough lithium-ion batteries for 200,000 vehicles—with the intention to expand to at least six production lines for a combined total of up to 1.2 million vehicles per year.

The $1.29-billion investment is partially funded from a total investment of approximately $3.4 billion previously announced and is expected to create 1,750 new jobs.

A contributing factor to selecting the North Carolina location was access to renewable energy with Toyota stating its intention to produce the batteries using 100% renewable energy.

“The future of mobility is electrification and the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite is the ideal location to make that future a reality,” says Ted Ogawa, CEO of Toyota Motor North America.

“North Carolina offers the right conditions for this investment, including the infrastructure, high-quality education system, access to a diverse and skilled workforce, and a welcoming environment for doing business. Today marks the beginning of a mutually beneficial partnership as we embark on our journey to achieve carbon neutrality and provide mobility for all.”

Toyota recently announced its intention to focus in the medium term on plug-in hybrids, rather than pure electric cars, while planning to be completely carbon-neutral by 2050.

Arrival to develop North Carolina battery factory

Arrival to develop North Carolina battery factory

British-American electric vehicle manufacturer Arrival is to develop a high voltage battery module (HVBM) assembly plant at Charlotte, North Carolina, its US headquarters.

The proposed $11.5 million plant on the city’s west side will create 150 jobs. It will be Arrival’s third facility in Charlotte where it has already established its North American headquarters in South End and its van and bus microfactory on the west side.

Arrival’s proprietary battery modules are designed to be used in all of its platforms, enabling the customer to configure their battery requirements according to their specific needs.

Mike Ableson, CEO of Arrival Automotive says, “By bringing the assembly of our proprietary High Voltage Battery Modules in house, we’re striving to be as vertically integrated as possible. This will enable us to have even greater control over the functionality and cost of our products and pass those cost savings on to the customer while also working toward our goal of zero waste production.

“We’re excited to add another facility in Charlotte, as we prepare to open our new North American Headquarters building just down the road and continue to work in tandem with the city to develop solutions for their electrification and sustainability goals. This is a big milestone for Arrival as we ramp up operations in the region in advance of production starting in Q2 next year.”

Arrival recently announced a collaboration agreement with Li-Cycle, a leading lithium-ion battery recycler in North America, to create a closed-loop EV battery supply chain in the US and Europe.

Governor Roy Cooper, adds, “North Carolina is leading the way in developing and securing our clean energy future and we’re excited that Arrival Automotive is expanding its electric vehicle operations in Charlotte. Our high-quality workforce and booming clean energy industry will help the company reach the goal of making electric vehicles affordable and accessible for everyone.”

MOVE video keynote: Arrival’s Tom Elvidge explains the company’s unique approach to manufacturing commercial EVs at MOVE London 2021

Intel to take Mobileye public in 2022

Intel to take Mobileye public in 2022

Intel has announced plans to take its autonomous driving technology business Mobileye public in the US next year through an initial public offering (IPO) of newly issued Mobileye stock. The move will create a separate publicly traded company with Intel remaining the majority owner of Mobileye.

Israel-based Mobileye was acquired by Intel in 2017 and the two companies have confirmed they will continue as strategic partners, collaborating on projects as they pursue the growth of computing in the automotive sector.

The Mobileye executive team will remain, with Amnon Shashua continuing as the company’s CEO.

The Intel-owned journey planning app Moovit, along with Intel teams working on lidar and radar development, will be aligned as part of Mobileye.

In the four years since Mobileye was acquired by Intel, Mobileye has experienced substantial revenue growth and achieved numerous technical innovations to prepare for the deployment of autonomous driving at scale.

Intel CEO, Pat Gelsinger, says, “Intel’s acquisition of Mobileye has been a great success. Mobileye has achieved record revenue year-over-year with 2021 gains expected to be more than 40 percent higher than 2020, highlighting the powerful benefits to both companies of our ongoing partnership. Amnon and I determined that an IPO provides the best opportunity to build on Mobileye’s track record for innovation and unlock value for shareholders.”

Shashua, founder and CEO of Mobileye, adds, “Mobileye has realized accelerated growth and opportunity since joining the Intel family, nearly tripling annual chip shipments, revenue and the number of employees since the acquisition. Our alignment with Intel continues to provide Mobileye with valuable technical resources and support that has yielded strong revenue along with free cash flow that allows us to fund our AV development work from current revenue. Intel and Mobileye’s ongoing technology co-development will continue to deliver great platform solutions for our customers.”

New York invests in off-grid Solar EV chargers designed for extreme weather

New York invests in off-grid Solar EV chargers designed for extreme weather

San Diego-based solar EV charger developer Beam Global says New York City has become its largest municipal customer with a latest order expanding the coverage of its EV ARC solar-powered EV charging systems to 89 units across the city.

The chargers are completely off-grid and require no construction, permitting or electrical work. A key design feature is their suitability for areas prone to extreme weather such as the flash floods New York experienced during Hurricane Ida in September.

The chargers will continue to function during power outages in part because the large flat solar panels sit 3m above the street level and the structure is designed and tested to withstand wind speeds of 120 mph.

“We are seeing an increase in extreme weather events across the US and globally,” says Beam Global CEO Desmond Wheatley. “Nobody can afford to lose their fuelling infrastructure for prolonged periods. The EV ARC can charge EVs during the power outages that are an increasingly common result of this climate shift and other factors affecting our grid.”

“Organisations in areas subject to hurricanes, rising sea water and flooding due to unusually heavy rainfall can experience permanent damage to traditional electric infrastructure,” adds Wheatley. “The EV ARC product can survive these events and provide vital power when the grid cannot.”

Serve secures strategic partners to scale US self-driving deliveries

Serve secures strategic partners to scale US self-driving deliveries

US self-driving delivery company Serve Robotics has secured $13 million seed funding from strategic investors including Uber, 7-Eleven and DX Ventures. The capital, says Serve, will “accelerate its path to commercial scale, driving its fleet expansion, geographic growth, and continued product development”.

Founded in 2017 as the robotics spin out from Uber’s delivery app Postmates, Serve is now an independent company and says it is “on a mission to make delivery more affordable, sustainable and accessible for everyone”.

The company last month announced its on-demand robotic delivery service will be available to Uber Eats customers in Los Angeles early next year.

Dr Ali Kashani, Co-founder and CEO of Serve Robotics, says, “Serve Robotics is pleased to have the backing of strong strategic partners able to support our intention to provide sustainable, self-driving delivery at scale. This initial round of financial and strategic support will allow us to continue advancing our technology, growing our team, and expanding our partnership platform.”

Sarfraz Maredia, Vice President and Head of Uber Eats in North America, adds, “Uber and Serve share a commitment to convenience and reliability. As a Serve investor, we’re excited to help shape self-driving delivery technology that can meet changing consumer and merchant needs.”

Nissan unveils $18 billion electrification push

Nissan unveils $18 billion electrification push

Nissan has announced it will spend 2 trillion yen ($18 billion) over five years to accelerate vehicle electrification. The strategy is largely seen as a bid to catch up with competitors in one of the fastest growth areas for car makers.

This is the first time Nissan has presented a comprehensive electrification plan despite being an early entrant into the market with the launch of the Leaf more than a decade ago.

Nissan said it will launch 23 electrified vehicles by 2030, including 15 electric vehicles (EVs), and wants to reduce lithium-ion battery costs by 65% within eight years. It also plans to introduce “potentially game-changing” all solid-state batteries by March 2029.

Chief Executive Makoto Uchida said these commitments would make EVs affordable to more drivers. “We will advance our effort to democratise electrification,” he said in an online presentation.

But according to Reuters, some analysts are unimpressed with Nissan’s plan and its share price dropped on the announcement. Masayuki Otani, senior analyst at Securities Japan speaking to Reuters said, “It represents a huge increase in investment, but it feels cautious.”

However Nissan Chief Operating Officer (COO) Ashwani Gupta said, “It’s very important for Nissan to show where we are going next, and today’s plan is a vision and direction which is talking about the future.”

Nissan, however, has not committed to abandoning petrol and diesel vehicles. It said half of its vehicles mix will be electrified by 2030, including hybrids. Gupta described the goal as “a reference point that may change”.