German technology alliance targets highly automated driving functions

German technology alliance targets highly automated driving functions

Volkswagen’s automotive software subsidiary Cariad and automotive parts supplier Bosch have announced a partnership to accelerate the introduction of partially and highly automated driving functions for volume production.

For the vehicles sold under the Volkswagen Group brands, the alliance aims to make functions available across all vehicle classes that will allow drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel.

The aim is to offer Level 2 systems for urban and rural areas and Level 3 on certain motorways. The first of these functions are to be installed in 2023.

More than 1,000 experts from Bosch and Cariad will collaborate on the project with targets to be explored and evaluated towards Level 4 autonomy.

Bosch board of management member, Dr Markus Heyn, says, “For privately owned vehicles, progress to automated driving happens one step at a time. At Bosch, we’ve been working successfully on this for many years now. Together with Cariad, we will now be accelerating the market launch of partially and highly automated driving functions across all vehicle classes, and thus making them available for everyone. This will make driving on the roads safer and more relaxed.”

“Automated driving is key to the future of our industry. With our cooperation, we’ll strengthen Germany’s reputation for innovativeness. Bosch and Cariad will further enhance their expertise in the development of pioneering technologies,” adds Dirk Hilgenberg,  Cariad CEO. “This underscores our ambition to deliver the best possible solutions to our customers as soon as possible.”

Dr. Ingo Stürmer, the alliance’s project director at Cariad, comments, “Together, we can test automated driving functions on a broader scale in actual vehicles and implement them more quickly. Our engineering work will be done jointly, with Bosch and Cariad as one team. There has never been an alliance like this in the automotive industry.”

Atlantia buys intelligent transport systems global giant Yunex

Atlantia buys intelligent transport systems global giant Yunex

Siemens Mobility has signed an agreement to divest Yunex Traffic, its international road traffic business, to Italian Atlantia, the Italian-owned holding company active in the infrastructure sector, including motorways, airport infrastructure and transport services.

The €950 million agreement marks the conclusion of a bidding process which has seen Atlantia beat off competition from a large number of international bidders, Atlantia said in a statement.

Munich-based Yunex Traffic is a global leader in the intelligent transport systems and smart mobility businesses. Its traffic management and urban mobility infrastructure and platforms are used in over 600 cities on four continents.

Siemens changed the name of the unit to Yunex Traffic from Siemens’ Intelligent Traffic Systems in February as part of preparations for a possible sale.

The deal is expected to close by September.

Atlantia says the acquisition will deliver savings and new business opportunities when integrated with its existing assets. “We aim to deliver operating and growth synergies between our assets and Yunex in the management of infrastructure, services and technological innovation, in order to improve the travel experience,” said Atlantia CEO Carlo Bertazzo.

Atlantia owns motorway toll-road groups including Spanish group Abertis, operates Rome’s airports and controls digital toll payment company Telepass. Through Yunex it hopes to expand into urban mobility.

“We are certainly keen to expand Yunex Traffic’s business in countries of interest to us, such as Italy, France and Spain,” Atlantia’s CEO told analysts, adding the intelligent transport system sector could generate a business value of around 1.5 billion euros a year in those three countries.

GM seeking commercial applications for its hydrogen fuel cell tech

GM seeking commercial applications for its hydrogen fuel cell tech

GM is planning multiple power generators based on its hydrogen fuel cell charging technology HYDROTEC.

Utilising GM’s Generation 2 HYDROTEC fuel cell power cubes, with outputs up to 600 kilowatts, applications in the pipeline include a mobile power generator, developed with Utah-based Renewable Innovations, to provide a fast-charging capability for EVs without having to expand the power grid or install permanent charging assets in places where there’s only a temporary need for power.

“As pioneers and innovators in the hydrogen power space, Renewable Innovations sees exciting opportunities across consumer, business, government and industrial markets,” comments Robert Mount, CEO and co-founder of Renewable Innovations. “We’ve seen that there’s a need for EV charging in places where there’s no charging equipment, and now we’re committed to bringing the best technology and game-changing applications to market with GM to accelerate the company’s vision of a zero-emissions future.”

Aligned to this, GM and Renewable Innovations have collaborated on the EMPOWER rapid charger to provide more affordable DC fast-charging without significant investment in non-recoverable electrical infrastructure upgrades, such as larger feed wires, transformers and new substations.

While these initial applications are transport related, GM says its new generation hydrogen fuel cell generators could ultimately replace gas and diesel-burning generators at worksites, buildings, movie sets, data centres, outdoor concerts and festivals. They could also back up or temporarily replace grid-sourced electricity for residential and small commercial enterprises at times of power disruption.

“Our vision of an all-electric future is broader than just passenger vehicles or even transportation,” said Charlie Freese, GM executive director of the global HYDROTEC business. “Our energy platform expertise can expand access to energy across many different industries and users, while helping to reduce emissions often associated with power generation.”

Swedish-Kenyan company plans EV bus rollout across Africa

Swedish-Kenyan company plans EV bus rollout across Africa

The first electric bus from Swedish-Kenyan EV technology company Opibus is being tested on Nairobi’s roads in readiness for the commercial launch of EV buses in Kenya later this year, and across Africa by the end of 2023.

Opibus has over the last five years been building electric motorbikes and converting existing gasoline and diesel vehicles to electric. So far is has converted more than 170 vehicles for applications ranging from mining to tourism.

The company is now moving to building new EV buses and charging infrastructure. Opibus chief strategy and marketing officer Albin Wilson says, “This first year, we will be testing 10 buses commercially in Nairobi to ensure that the product fits and is optimised for the usage patterns. Once we get this valuable feedback, we will make the required changes and get all our production partners lined up to scale the roll out as rapidly as possible.”

Opibus’ proprietary electric vehicle platform is modular and can be the foundation for several types of vehicles. This enables the creation of a bus that is suitable for the African use case in its reliability, durability, and price point. This also means local and global contract manufacturers can be used to create a globally competitive product, with a rapid scale-up.

In an approach that sounds similar to Arrival’s microfactory concept, Opibus says local production means that the output can be tailored for local market needs. “We are building a product that allows for a rapid scale up, that can leverage global and local manufacturers. Meaning our design is easily implemented across the African continent, as it is a product tailored for the use case, and very cost effective,” said Wilson.

Opibus says it is already looking to develop partnerships that will drive the adoption of EVs across the continent.

Danish EV charging start-up aims to brush aside “old-school” players

Danish EV charging start-up aims to brush aside “old-school” players

Copenhagen-based electric vehicle (EV) charging firm Monta has raised €15 million in a Series A funding round to support its expansion into two new European countries.

The funds will also see Monta double its employee count and develop in five active markets across Europe.

The funding round was led by early-stage venture capital firm Creandum, with what Monta described as “significant” investment also coming from venture capital firm Headline. It takes the total raised by Monta to €20 million since the company was founded just over a year ago, having previously raised €5 million in pre-seed and seed rounds.

“For too long the EV ecosystem has been dominated by old-school players like electricity companies, hardware manufactures and charge point operators,” Casper Rasmussen, CEO and co-founder of Monta, said.

“As a tech company, we’re building a charging architecture free from legacy software that is ready to scale across borders and hardware. With this latest funding round, we’re one step closer to accomplishing this mission.

Monta has developed a product for both EV drivers and chargepoint owners, with its chargepoint management system providing chargepoint owners with a solution to attract users and manage chargepoint use, pricing, access and transactions. Monta also provides EV drivers with reservation, virtual queueing and payment features.

Yamaha increases Taiwan’s electric scooter battery swap potential

Yamaha increases Taiwan’s electric scooter battery swap potential

A variant of Yamaha’s new electric EMF scooter developed for the Taiwanese market will utilise Gogoro’s battery swapping platform for refuelling. The EMF joins the Yamaha EC-05 as the second vehicle collaboration with Taiwan’s Gogoro.

The ‘Powered by Gogoro Network Program’ gives partners like Yamaha access to Gogoro’s intelligent drivetrains and controllers, components, and smart systems, so they can develop unique electric vehicles that integrate with Gogoro Network battery swapping.

The EMF will be available in Taiwan in March.

Horace Luke, founder and CEO, Gogoro, says, “Gogoro is excited to be supporting Yamaha’s growing portfolio of Gogoro-powered vehicles and we look forward to their new Taiwan customers using Gogoro’s battery swapping. Yamaha and Gogoro remain committed to bringing better and more sustainable transportation solutions to market that integrate Yamaha’s incredible vehicle design and engineering together with Gogoro’s leading battery swapping.”

Hyundai’s advanced air mobility division invests in UK vertiport developer

Hyundai’s advanced air mobility division invests in UK vertiport developer

UK vertiport developer Urban-Air Port (UAP) has secured investment from Supernal, previously the Urban Air Mobility Division of Hyundai Motor Group. The funding will help support UAP’s plans to develop 200 vertiport sites across the world in the next five years.

Vertiport sites will provide the infrastructure needed to enable mass adoption of eVTOL aircraft – such as cargo drones and air taxis.

This is the first time a major eVTOL company has invested in a ground infrastructure developer to enable advanced air mobility.

Supernal’s investment will help support the development of UAP’s various new vertiport models and expansion into new markets.

The world’s first fully operational hub for eVTOLs, Air-One, will open for “public visitation” in the UK city of Coventry in April this year. Supernal says it will start operating commercial services from 2028.

Ricky Sandhu, Founder and Executive Chairman of Urban-Air Port, says, “Cars need roads. Trains need rails. Planes need airports. eVTOLs need Urban-Air Ports. Despite the unparalleled potential of eVTOL aircraft to revolutionise mobility, the importance of the ground infrastructure that enables them is too often overlooked. With Supernal’s investment and expertise and connection to Hyundai Motor Group, we can supercharge the rollout of sustainable, intermodal and scalable ground infrastructure that will unleash the future of advanced air mobility globally.”

Jaiwon Shin, Chief Executive Officer of Supernal and President, Hyundai Motor Group, adds, “At Supernal, we are on a mission to transform how people and society move, connect, and live; therefore, it is essential we not only develop electric air vehicles, but also help shape the broader advanced air mobility market from the ground up. We are pleased to continue working with Urban-Air Port and support its efforts to create ground infrastructure that works seamlessly with eVTOLs and integrates the advanced air mobility industry with existing modes of transportation.”

Non-internet dependent EV charging technology gets BMW backing

Non-internet dependent EV charging technology gets BMW backing

BMW i Ventures has invested in German electric vehicle charging start-up HeyCharge, whose proprietary system enables EV-charging without an internet connection.

Traditionally, EV chargers require an app or RFID card and a proper internet connection to begin activation. Yet most underground garages do not have an internet access point, or the ability to install such boxes.

Chris Cardé, Founder and CEO, HeyCharge, first recognised the problem after bringing home his first electric car to a Munich apartment building.

With 56% of Germany and 46% of Europe living in apartment buildings, and 37% of renters in the US, this is an obvious next step for the expansion of EV charging stations, but the current reliance on internet connectivity is holding scalability back. That’s why HeyCharge has made its mission to help get a cheap, commercial, scalable solution to this section of the population.

HeyCharge’s patent-pending technology, SecureCharge, eliminates the need for an on-site internet connection, allowing the app and chargers to communicate directly over bluetooth with the HeyCharge App. This maximizes availability of the system while minimizing latency between the phone and the charger. When combined with Access Point, HeyCharge’s simple and effective hardware component, total costs can be reduced up to 80% in buildings.

As the number of EVs on the road increases, there will be a large need for a scalable charging option that fits into consumers’ everyday lives. “The rapid growth of the electric vehicle market in coming years will necessitate greater infrastructure build-out of charging solutions around the globe,” said Kasper Sage, Managing Partner, BMW i Ventures.

“HeyCharge is the first company to enable EV-charging without internet connection, which is a key enabler to cover untapped white-spots. With HeyCharge’s technology, it becomes attractive to install chargers in locations that before would have not been commercially viable.”

“In addition to our full wallbox, the HeyCharge Access Point is a bring your own wallbox device that places the bare minimum for access control and consumption invoicing on the building side, allowing for a fast and easy installation that can be made by any electrician in minutes,” explains Cardé. “We are excited to use this investment to scale our product globally and bring low-cost charging options to consumers. HeyCharge’s solution makes EV charging not just scalable but also more cost-effective and accessible so that easy EV charging is made possible wherever you live or work,” he adds.

US logistics firm forms self-driving alliance with Waymo

US logistics firm forms self-driving alliance with Waymo

Arkansas-based JB Hunt Transport Services, one of the largest supply chain solutions providers in North America, has entered into a long-term strategic alliance with Waymo Via to advance and integrate commercial autonomous driving technology in transportation and logistics. The companies’ goal is to achieve fully autonomous transport within the next few years.

Waymo Via is its trucking arm of Waymo, the self-driving unit of Google-parent Alphabet. JB Hunt Chief Sustainability Officer and Executive Vice President Craig Harper said a pilot on the I-45 in Texas last year helped “get a hands-on understanding of how autonomous driving technology could be implemented within our operations. This strategic alliance will continue that momentum and further explore the intricate details that would make this a value-driven solution for customers,” he said. “We believe autonomous driving technology will help us create the most efficient transportation network in North America, and our collaboration with Waymo Via is a pivotal step towards fulfilling that mission.”

The expanded collaboration will include multiple pilots to further analyse the operational capacity and capability of a Class 8 truck equipped with Waymo’s self-driving technology.

Wejo’s Neural Edge platform overcomes CV data overload and latency obstacles

Wejo’s Neural Edge platform overcomes CV data overload and latency obstacles

UK-based Wejo, a global leader in cloud and software analytics generated from autonomous, electric and connected vehicle data, has announced it is developing a neural edge platform that overcomes latency issues and data storage costs – the main potential obstacles in harnessing and scaling the power of real-time vehicle communications.

Leveraging existing collaborations with Microsoft Azure and Palantir Technologies, a developer of software for data analytics and data-driven decision making, Wejo Neural Edge optimises how data, from both other vehicles and smart infrastructure, is managed within the vehicle, further processes it at the “edge” and ultimately communicates to the cloud.

This process will not only reduce data overload and maximise data insights but will reduce costs for automotive manufacturer, supporting safer vehicles, enabling further advancements in electric and autonomous mobility while reducing congestion and emissions.

“When I started Wejo in 2014, I knew that the proliferation of new mobility technology would drive data to a tipping point. And we are at that point today,” said Richard Barlow, Founder & CEO, Wejo. “With today’s vehicles producing approximately 25 gigabytes of data per hour, and as vehicle technology advances adding more sensors, data filtering and neural edge processing technology is essential to reduce this overload and drive the industry forward.”

Key features of the platform are:

  • Filtering and analysing vast amounts of autonomous, electric, and connected vehicle data before transmitting only the essential information to the cloud. This is made possible by utilising in-car edge processing that Wejo is developing to filter only useful and valuable connected vehicle data before it is transmitted to the cloud.
  • Using machine learning algorithms to reconstruct vehicle journey and event data, Wejo Neural Edge can take 20% of the data from autonomous, electric, and other connected vehicles and reconstruct it to represent 100% of the data, without any loss in data fidelity or integrity. The positive environmental impact is significant, as less data requires less storage which in turn reduces power consumption.
  • Better enabling vehicle to vehicle and vehicle to infrastructure communications by standardising and centralising the data. Not only does this provide a key building block for communication in near real time, but it also supports communication with infrastructure services such as road signs, traffic lights and parking lots, so vehicles can easily anticipate the road ahead and optimise mobility experiences.
  • The platform can also support validation of digitals twins of both the vehicles and cities in which they operate, which has the potential to reshape how we view the entire product and service ecosystem related to mobility. In a simulation environment, a digital twin can be constructed to simulate how vehicles in different cities need to respond and navigate without having to outlay massive infrastructure costs of physical hardware and vehicle monitoring.

“At Wejo, we believe that digital twins will reshape everything from road safety, to insurance, advertising, after-sales and more,” said David Burns, Chief Technology Officer, Wejo. “With Wejo Neural Edge we can look at what a connected vehicle is doing a kilometre away, and then alter and change the driver experience of an autonomous vehicle based on the information that is coming from down the road.”

As more car manufacturers work to harness their vehicle data, Wejo neural edge platform and common data model will enable different manufacturer makes and models to speak the same data language, a key component supporting vehicle to vehicle communication and vehicle communications with infrastructure and services.

Shyam Sankar, Chief Operating Officer of Palantir Technologies adds, “Our ongoing partnership with Wejo is focused on the most complex and critical challenges facing the future of mobility. What Wejo is building atop Palantir Foundry, including their cutting-edge neural edge technology, is a testament to the depth of their vision, speed of execution, and power of combining our technologies.”

Florida DOT initiates multi-partner V2X data exchange platform

Florida DOT initiates multi-partner V2X data exchange platform

Iteris, the Californian-based global leader in smart mobility infrastructure management has been selected by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) as part of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) team to develop a connected vehicle data exchange platform.

Other participants in the FDOT program include Ford Mobility, which will supply V2X data from its connected vehicle platform; Florida International University; Amazon Web Services; Google; and several OEMs, and logistics and fleet companies.

The platform will enable FDOT to analyse real-time road conditions and communicate critical travel information to the traveling public, state and local government entities, private-sector partners, and other stakeholders.

The FDOT project is among the first in the United States to develop a vehicle-to-everything (V2X) data exchange, capturing data from thousands of devices across connected and automated vehicle together with smart mobility infrastructure networks. A key objective of the project is to standardise the collection, analysis and sharing of data from several proprietary systems, which have different coding and encryption methodologies, and to make additional considerations for privacy and safety.

“The primary goal of this technology is to save lives and move people more efficiently on roadways by sharing real-time driving conditions,” said Michael A Brown, SwRI’s Intelligent Systems Division engineer overseeing the project. “This data exchange will lay the foundation for FDOT to send alerts to drivers and traffic managers to coordinate routing, road closures and emergency response.”

The exchange will capture anonymous data both from FDOT-owned roadside units and proprietary data feeds of various car manufacturers. This connected vehicle data will be fused with a breadth of other data both from FDOT-owned infrastructure and third-party data feeds. This stream of enriched data will be the basis for real-time and historic analysis, leveraging a combination of machine learning and traditional algorithms.

“We are thrilled to join the team responsible for developing this vital V2X data sharing program for FDOT,” said Anita Vandervalk, vice president, strategic business development at Iteris. “The V2X data exchange will enable FDOT to communicate critical travel information to the traveling public, state and local government entities, private-sector partners, and other stakeholders.”

Dott wins Marseille e-bike service

Dott wins Marseille e-bike service

Dutch Micromobility company Dott has won a competitive tendering to introduce its e-bike sharing service in the city of Marseille, France, making it the only micromobility provider present in France’s three largest cities – Paris, Marseille and Lyon.

A total of 1,000 shared e-bikes will be available in Marseille from January 30, providing an efficient way to move across the city, free from congestion and without causing pollution.

Henri Moisinnac and Maxim Romain, co-founders, Dott issued a statement reading, “We are happy and very proud of this decision. Thank you to the City of Marseille for its trust in our expertise, we are looking forward to bringing Marseillais a quality, accessible and reliable service.

“This decision recognises ‘the Dott system’, which we have used since Dott’s creation. We are a mobility operator, not a digital platform. We operate the service ourselves everyday, with our own teams who are all colleagues and company shareholders. We are responsible, reliable and always seeking environmental excellence.”

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.”

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.”

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.