Affordable EVs, Tesla’s Jeff Dahn, the EV market, and future jobs

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Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty

The meaning of parity: Last Friday, I wrote about the expected coming of cost parity, when electric and gasoline-propelled vehicles will cost roughly the same to manufacture. As I have reported numerous times, the signal for parity will be when lithium-ion batteries drop below $100 per kilowatt-hour, expected in 2023 or 2024. At that point, when there is no price difference between the technologies, we will know whether large numbers of ordinary motorists want to own EVs, or whether they will remain a niche, green product.

But, from his home in Berlin, Mobilist reader Frank Wunderlich-Pfeiffer tweets that technical parity


A vigilance against people making claims with ‘zero data’

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QuantumScape CEO Jagdeep Singh. Photo: Courtesy QuantumScape

For a decade, QuantumScape toiled away in secrecy in a gigantic space on the southern edge of Silicon Valley. But secrecy did not suggest obscurity: With its unusually rich $150 million in venture funding, QuantumScape had the rapt attention of the battery community. Just what was this company and its 100 or so engineers doing? Still, that building in San Jose, California remained a gargantuan black hole out of which no information seeped. In November 2015, five years after the company’s launch, I pinged CEO Jagdeep Singh asking if he had anything to say. …


Who needs threats of antitrust when Zuckerberg and Cook are heading towards their own Shakespearean ending

A photo illustration of Mark Zuckerberg and Tim Cook faces superimposed on to famous ancient orators in a painting and arguing.
A photo illustration of Mark Zuckerberg and Tim Cook faces superimposed on to famous ancient orators in a painting and arguing.
Photo illustration, source: Drew Angerer; Justin Sullivan / Getty

There seems no end to the fury of Epic Games against Apple. On three continents, the megahit maker of Fortnite is claiming that Apple is leveraging its outsized technological power to strangle companies that refuse to bow to its control over millions of apps-based businesses. Apple, Epic alleges in its latest salvo — an angry antitrust complaint filed in the European Union last week — has “completely eliminated competition in app distribution” and hurt small developers with the 30% standard cut of revenue it demands off the top.

Epic’s offensive is among dozens of anti-monopoly cases on both sides of…


Is it only coincidence? EV and battery-makers are all heading towards the same basic strategy

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The BMW concept electric i8 at a 2013 auto show. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint/Getty Images

If all goes according to plan, Gene Berdichevsky’s advanced batteries will be in electric BMWs and Daimlers in 2025, providing at least a 20% jump in energy density. With that juice, their EVs may cost substantially less, go further on each battery charge, or a little of both. To get there, Berdichevsky’s company, Sila Nanotechnologies, has just raised $590 million, with plans to build a battery plant with triple the capacity of Elon Musk’s iconic Nevada Gigafactory, and produce the first commercial silicon anode, an elusive leap sought for decades by researchers around the world.

But, in a much-overlooked convergence…


Apple car, the silicon race, and a billion years of lithium

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Photo: Corbis/Getty

Each Wednesday, The Mobilist highlights reader articles on Medium, comments, and updates.

What’s with Apple: By far the most anticipated event in electric vehicles today is the Apple Car, expected to be the truest competitor to market leader Tesla. But, in a hugely egotistical auto industry, who will agree to swallow its pride and produce the Apple-branded EV? First, the reporting was that it would be South Korea’s Hyundai until that talk was squelched. Then it was Japan’s Nissan, but that also turned out not to be true.

In an email exchange, Mobilist reader Dan Ives, an analyst with Wedbush…


War planners have long recommended battery backup for solar, wind, and natural gas

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Body sledding in Houston yesterday. Photo: Mark Felix/AFP/Getty

The Arctic blast affecting 150 million Americans across 14 states has revealed that solar and wind, backed up by batteries, aren’t yet a solution for powering our towns and cities, and neither are fossil fuels, which have been immobilized by iced-over rigs, fuel lines, and other equipment.

On the third day of the electrogeddon, some 3.8 million people have been without electricity, and the image suggests an extreme weather-stressed future for which the United States appears likely to require new energy, living, and supply chain systems. In prior years, swaths of the country have been beset by hurricanes, massive fires…


Electric car charging is operating on a version of the freemium model — cheap only until you are hooked

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Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Over the last few months, three big U.S. electric vehicle charging companies have announced multibillion-dollar reverse mergers to take themselves public. In the latest, Volta Industries said Monday that it will go public at a value exceeding $2 billion and walk away with $600 million in cash to build out its charging network. It is part of a massive expansion of EV charging that is underway — one that, according to McKinsey, will grow to as many as nine million U.S. charging points by 2025.

The public consensus about our EV charging future — from industry experts, analysts, and investors…


The stakes are so high that SK innovation will be forced to settle

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The ID.4, VW’s answer to Tesla’s popular Model Y. Photo: Jens Schlueter/Getty

This is a story of cutthroat technological war, unfathomable corporate animus, a new kind of economic nationalism, and great power competition between the two most powerful leaders in the world. The likelihood is that the rare drama will end in a settlement that could lay low one of South Korea’s most powerful companies. But before then, it is a nerve-wracking spectacle that reflects the newfound tension rife in international batteries and electric cars.

In a case involving two relatively unknown South Korean companies, the International Trade Commission (ITC) , on Wednesday, barred the import of batteries meant to power the…


Fast charging, F-150s, and EV nationalism

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Photo: Fox/Getty

Each Wednesday, The Mobilist highlights reader articles on Medium, comments, and updates.

The coming fast-charging bonanza: Last month, I wrote that starting in the second half of the decade, fast-charging your electric car will cost roughly the same as filling up with gasoline. There has been pushback—numerous members of the battery community argued that today’s low prices will hold even after EVs reach price parity with gasoline-powered vehicles and automakers are no longer more or less forced to provide charging as a loss leader. …


Humanoid robots everywhere, people wearing VR devices, and an EV boom

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In a Model T, a country jaunt in the 1920s. Photo: Hulton-Deutsch/Corbis/Getty.

Batteries are very near a tipping point sought by entrepreneurs, tinkerers, and investors for a century and longer — a cut in average cost so low that electric vehicles can be profitably priced the same as their gasoline-propelled cousins. The coming price plunge for batteries is behind forecasts that, starting in the second half of the decade, EV sales will leap ahead of today’s levels and eventually surpass internal combustion.

The inflection point is a cost of $100 per kilowatt-hour, the metric for battery capacity. Some Chinese electric public buses are already powered by such batteries, and BloombergNEF forecasts that…

Steve LeVine

Editor at Large, Medium, covering the turbulence all around us, electric vehicles, batteries, social trends. Writing The Mobilist. Ex-Axios, Quartz, WSJ, NYT.

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