Dark side of Electric Cars, ID.3 Benchmarking, New app store partnership for Mercedes... - Weekly Round Up
1 Dark Side of Electric Cars
- Electric Cars stock world wide has exponentially risen in the 2010’s
- Cobalt is a key ingredient for long-range batteries, which is a highly competitive feature in the electric car market
- 70% of Cobalt resources in the world are in the Democratic republic of Congo.
- China runs about 90% of the Cobalt Mines in the D.R.C. A strategic decision China took about 15 years ago. A bet that paid off really well.
- The geo-politically and strategic risk being that China could keep all that resources for themselves, manufacture cheaper electric cars and become a monopolistic industry.
- From the environmental and ethical point of view, mines in the DRC (previously for Diamonds) have been historically exploited both from the people of Congo and the pollution of rivers, air etc.
- That begs the question of, how green is the green revolution.
- A good comparison explained in the video is that the environment and social costs of the mining rare earth minerals for car batteries is still less carbon-intensive compared to burning fossil-fuels
- They also touch on a concept of the “Fixing the problem with cars” vs. “Fixing the problem of cars”
2 FORVIA announces partnership for App Integration with Mercedes-Benz
Aptoide is an alternative Android Store (Alternative to the Google Play Store that is). In 2019, Faurecia (an automotive Tier1 supplier) joined forces with Aptoide, to commercialize a version of their app store for the automotive industry. They describe it as a 50/50 venture. An app store includes features of managing developers, providing a backend solution for rolling out and pulling back apps to vehicles in the field, much like the smartphone world.
Partnership with Mercedes-Benz
What makes this partnership interesting is that, Mercedes have their, arguably, the best in-car infotainment system in the passenger car industry, the MBUX. Despite having the large volumes to make a valid business case, Mercedes still choose to outsource this part of their ecosystem. Bringing in the needed domain experience. Definitely makes sense. In the automotive industry we are not trying to solve the app ecosystem problem, as it has been already “solved” in the smartphone world already. The novel part of the problem is unlocking new use-cases in and around the vehicle that can enable newer subscription and service based business models in the future.
3 Benchmarking the VW ID.3 Electric Powertrain
A recent paper published by a group at the department of mobility systems engineering at TUM goes about breaking down a battery pack from a VW ID.3 and benchmarking it. Here are the highlights from the paper.
- The aerodynamic losses in a vehicle is still the major factor in wheel-to-distance losses.
- Better inverter technology that reduces losses in the DC to AC conversion. Silicon Carbide MOSFET drivers are the current front runners.
- “The main origin can be traced back to large wheel-to-distance losses by, e.g., the drag resistance, accounting for up to 82% of the total energy losses. Besides, the second-largest lever for an improved efficiency lies in the powertrain unit, which could be improved by larger advanced materials/technologies, e.g., such as the usage of SiC-MOSFET-Inverters”
- Cell-to-pack is a concept where cells are directly integrated into packs without the intermediary modules that are in current designs. This improves the energy available per unit volume and more OEMs are shifting to such a design
- Cell-to-chassis concepts are not something that is brand new. In this concept, cells are integrated into various parts of the chassis and body of the vehicle. Saving space, providing alternative cooling characteristics and in some cases even better weight distribution.
- “The results emphasize the need for a higher degree of battery cell integration without the need for battery modules by, e.g., cell-to-pack or cell-to-chassis concepts.”
- Battery pre-heating is still an issue in this powertrain due to higher resistance at the cell level.
- “In terms of power capability, analysis at varying temperatures showed that subzero temperatures are still challenging as power capability is strictly limited due to increased resistances at the cell level. This poses the need for advanced preheating strategies of the overall battery pack”
- Real world performance seems to be at a better state than what is expected by the manufacturer. I believe that is a sign of how recent this industry is and manufacturers are generally in the early stages of understanding what the real-world impact is on their products.
- “Aging tests showed a reduced aging rate compared to figures reported in the literature. In total, the real-world cycles far outperform the mileage and operating time warranty by the manufacturer and assumptions generally taken in the literature.”
4 IHS Markit released a strategic report on autonomous trucks and it’s impact on the logistics industry.
- Logistics industry is going through digitalization phase. Pushing both OEMs and customers to embrace digital technology throughout their stack.
- Truck driver shortage is a growing challenge. The shortage might increase to 160,000 by 2030.
- Inefficient loading in containers and underutilization of load procurement is still a challenge in the industry. Disruptive startups have started to emerge in this area.
- Autonomous truck technology have become very popular. Customers of all sorts have tried out various pilots in various simpler scenarios. The trend shows that these pilots are increasing and so is the difficulty of the environment, moving towards a SAE Level 5 autonomous system.
- Survey of tech companies focusing on autonomous truck technology including Aurora, Einride, TuSimple, Waymo, Plus, Embark, Torc Robotics.
5 Interactive Map - Automobile assembly and production plants in Europe.
The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association has compiled an interactive map showing automotive plants in 6 different categories; Engines/Electric motors, Batteries, Passenger cars, Heavy-duty vehicles, Light commercial vehicles, Buses.
6 An FPV Drone view into Tesla’s newest Gigafactory
This is an interesting video of the recently commissioned Tesla Gigafactory in Brandenburg, Berlin. You can see many of the processes involved in the manufacturing of the chassis, including over 100+ robotic appliances used in the process. Mostly from Kuka Robotics. Their collaboration have been leaked reported long before.