10 min read

Newsletter | Real circularity with a battery marketplace – Toyota unveils 15 EVs – Crowdfunded chargers

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Hey! Here's our plan for Christmas time this year:

Next week, I'll drop a merry newsletter to your inbox at the usual time. After that, I will ghost you for two weeks, returning on January 13th (coincidentally my b-day).

I'll still keep updating the pro members on the new developments of the EV industry during the 'break', via our community. Here's the paywall to join through, if you want to contribute and still bathe in the e-info (link).

Below are a few words on what's up in the industry this week. 2,449 to be exact.

- Jaan


Celebrating the wins of our friends

We've got three friends of the EV Universe that celebrated big milestones this week – the teams behind Beast, Cling Systems, and Lightyear.

Beast

Beast

Beast raised a €1.5M ($1.7M) seed round to expand its fully-automated premium Tesla Rental service. It started in Estonia. Now it's expanding all across Northern Europe, and I'm sure soon across the whole Universe.

Anna-Maria Mikaberidze, the CEO and co-founder of Beast, has been a friend of The EV Universe almost since we started, so naturally, I asked for her comment for us. She said:

We're just super excited, this is just the mere beginning, about 0.2% of the work done and a lot of awesomeness for the world ahead.

Can't wait.

I've used the service several times (I'll drop some videos on it soon too) and it's crazy easy. All you need is their app to find any of the Teslas, rent it with a few clicks and drive. No hassle involved, just the way I like it.

In my eyes, the team behind Beast is definitely expanding the EV universe - what they do is great for EV adoption. Btw you'll be able to ask any questions from the team on our pro platform from next week.

Congratulations to the whole team and especially Anna-Maria - well done!


Cling

Cling

Cling Systems raised ~$2.3M to accelerate the development of the B2B marketplace for used EV batteries which they just launched publicly.

Simply put, their platform allows the sellers (manufacturers, owners of used batteries, dismantlers, and workshops) to put up their batteries for auction, and after the highest bid from buyers (recyclers, repurposing), while Cling takes care of invoicing and ADR transport.

Coincidentally, I visited the founder of Cling, William Bergh, and their CTO Axel Sundberg just two weeks ago in their HQ in Stockholm.

I confirmed there what I suspected already - their approach is one-of-a-kind. And necessary to mitigate the environmental effect of the EV revolution. I'd go as far as saying you can't achieve real circularity without this existing.

Here's why I think so:

As much as OEMs want to claim they will take the batteries back in and send them to their recycling partners, they usually only get the batteries that come back in during the warranty period.

But EV batteries don't usually die during the warranty period.

So in reality, the OEMs don't have any idea where their cars and batteries are that they were supposed to recycle. Especially now, as we have a fundamental shift of batteries becoming an asset rather than waste.

The car workshops, dismantlers, and others that do end up with the EVs/batteries will be able to redirect these assets back to the highest bidder through the platform, which then starts closing the loop through recycling and, hopefully, producing new batteries.

We were both puzzled on "why has no one built this already?"

William commented on the fundraise for us:

"Increasing the value of waste is fundamental to enable circular economies. A key necessity for a sustainable future of our planet and society. Cling is now accelerating its development of the future collection system for a circular battery economy"

And more on the personal side of things:

"It’s been a marathon. We’ll enjoy a well-deserved Christmas break to hit the ground running in January. Couldn't be more excited to now have the funds to welcome new incredible team members!"
Circular batteries

When we met, William and I also agreed that we'll interview in January to dig deeper into the topic of circularity and how it can be solved. You'll be able to tune in live.

Fun fact: the funding round was led by another friend of The EV Universe, Trucks VC. I never miss any of Reilly's Future of Transportation weekly reports and he even featured us there a while back. So:

✓ Milestone achieved: Closing The Loop.
This event occurs, when both the investor and the one being invested in are readers and friends of the EV Universe.


∞ Lightyear

LY One

Lightyear should be no stranger to you through my newsletters - and for good reason. I just love what they do. Now, we're seeing some real and well-deserved momentum:

LeasePlan reserved 5,000 Lightyear Two's to deliver the world's first solar car subscription together from 2024/2025. (link)

LeasePlan is making heavy EV moves lately and I love to see it - the company has a massive impact with the 1.8M cars in the fleet they lease globally.

Wait... Lightyear Two? Yep. In addition to the premium solar EV, €150k Lightyear One model that 946 people have reserved so far, the company announced today that they'll bring a €30k ($34k) model to the market in 2025 (link).

Why do I care about Lightyear's mission so much?

It's not only about them building the solar EV. It's about their mission towards efficiency. We don't see it now, but I estimate that after 3-5 years of exponential EV adoption growth, we will start comparing the EVs we drive and buy increasingly by how efficient they are.

It's cool to have a lot of range, but if it's achieved just through a massive battery pack, that's not cool for the planet or your wallet.

A smaller battery with great efficiency is a 4x win against a bigger battery with poor efficiency:

  1. You'll win in charging speed, it takes less time charging to achieve the same range.
  2. More cash in your pocket, less kWh is needed per km.
  3. Better for the planet, production resource-wise and because the car is lighter (less wear on tires, surface, etc).
  4. Fewer problems with charging - important if you don't have easy access to it.

Solar just adds the cherry on top for each of these.

LY One

So happens that the Head of BD & Policy at Lightyear, Tom Selten, is a long-time reader and a friend of the EV Universe too. Our discussion lead to something that even surprised me a little.

Here's how he comments on the deal for us:

Essentially this is a validation of our technology path. LeasePlan mentioned explicitly that they see customers switching back to ICE because of charging problems.
Lightyears' platform offers a unique solution by focusing radically on efficiency. You can expect more exciting news next year. I can assure you that LeasePlan isn't the only company facing these charging issues with its customers.

I can see how LY's platform solves that problem, looks like LeasePlan sees the big picture too. Congratulations on another milestone, Tom and the LY team!

Lightyear will produce its cars with Valmet Automotive in Finland, and as I'm not living too far away from it, I hope to visit and give you all scope of their  process someday.


⚡ What else is new

Toyota

🚗 Toyota confuses me. They lead efforts to lobby against the EVs in the US, then they spread anti-EV propaganda in Japanese schools, and now...

They hit us in the face with 15, yes fifteen, EV model reveals at once.

On Tuesday, the CEO Akio Toyoda hosted a press briefing to unveil its battery-electric vehicle strategy.

Toyota says it will roll our 30 battery-electric vehicles by 2030, forecasting 3.5M annual EV sales by then. Again, not hybrids, EVs. Its subsidiary brand Lexus would become 100% electric in Europe, US, and China by 2030.

The market launches for each model will be coming sometime soon, so we didn't get too many details. Here's the full video where Toyoda introduces the whole lineup, from hypercars to pickup trucks:

🌎 Ryan Popple passed away yesterday. Ryan was the CEO of Proterra from 2014 to 2020 and in his past has even worked his way up to be a Senior Director of Finance at Tesla from 2007 to 2010. (link) Ryan left us too early at the age of 44, but we can surely say his legacy will continue changing the world for the better.

⚡ ABB will spin off its emobility division together with its charging stations business early next year and plans to list it on the Swiss stock exchange. (link) I often use 50kW chargers that ABB made already back in ~2011 (and they still work well) and seeing what they do now, it makes absolute sense. A strong player in the charging manufacturing world, having sold 21k DC chargers and 440k AC chargers worldwide.

🌎 New York City is considering buying $12,360,000 worth of Tesla Model 3's (that'd be ~265 of them), the hearing is on Dec 16th. (link).

Likely serving as solving the #1 of the $75M investment the Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in September, which also had these specific details outlined (link):

  1. 300 EVs to replace fossil vehicles
  2. 275 fast vehicle chargers
  3. 20 portable vehicle chargers
  4. 11 new solar charging carports
  5. 3 electric buses to replace diesel models
  6. 78 electric ambulances
  7. In addition, the City will retrofit 125 existing diesel-powered trucks to be electric-powered.

--- discuss the NYC move under Tim's post in our community here.

⚡ Vice President of the US Kamala Harris now announced the EV Charging Action Plan (from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law) to outline steps federal agencies are taking to support developing and deploying chargers across the country. The plan sees 500,000 public chargers across the whole nation. (link)

Kamala Harris
VP: "For all of us who are used to filling our tanks, you can smell it and you can hear it, the guzzling sound. So how do I know it’s actually working?”

The same day, a group of 15 automakers sent a letter to Pete Buttigieg, the US Secretary of Transportation, to urge him to prioritize 150 and 350 kW chargers along the Us highway corridors via the funds in National Electric Vehicle Formula Program. (link)

🏭 Rivian's factory #2 will be in Georgia with 400k vehicles-per-year capacity. That's double the peak capacity of their plant in Normal, Illinois. Rivian is expected to invest $5B into the plant. Here's the Q3 2021 shareholder letter (link). Rivian R1T won the MotorTrend Truck of the Year award and Edmunds' Top Rated Editors' Choice Award. I liked this picture from inside the gear tunnel:

MT award

SNIPPETS

🌎 You might see an electric John Deere soon: the company acquired a majority stake in Kreisel Electric, the Austrian company specializing in high-density and high-durability electric battery modules. (link)

⚡ These EV enthusiasts in New Mexico are expanding L2 charging network by crowdfunding in GoFundMe (link).

⚡ Volvo Group, Daimler Truck, and Traton Group (VW) announced a €500M ($593M) joint venture to install 1,700 high-power public chargers for electric trucks and buses across Europe in the next five years (link).

🚗 Ford pushes the Explorer EV and Lincoln Aviator EV back to 2024 to make way for the high demand of Mach-E (link).

🚗 Nissan's former boss, Carlos Ghosn, says Nissan is "in a very bad position in this race. There is no vision." (link), (full interview video). We do have Ghosn to thank for having the Nissan LEAF in the first place...

🏭 The flyover video shows the Ultium Cells (GM+LGES) 30 GWh battery factory in Lordstown, Ohio is almost ready and will likely deliver its promise of a 2022 production start.

🏭 NIO, XPeng, and Lynk&Co are joining Volkswagen's EU CO2 pool in 2021 and 2022, although VW Group confirms they don't need them to meet their requirements this year (they won't in China and US though) (link).

🚗 Canoo has ended the deal with VDL Nedcar to build the Lifestyle vehicle in the Netherlands and instead signed a deal with Nedcar's parent, VDL Groep, to build it in the US. (link)

🚛 Tesla Semi looks to be in limited production at Giga Nevada, as seen from this drone footage. The turning circle is just nuts (0:36). I agree with a comment there: "Makes me want to buy one and transport stuff."

🔋 LG Energy Solution's IPO is now confirmed for January 2022, with plans to raise $10.8B in South Korea's biggest-ever IPO. LGES is currently the second biggest EV battery cell maker in the world. (link) The $918M Bolt recall that landed on LGES's shoulders should be well covered by the raised capital.

📚 Reading tip: A good deep dive by The Verge about Chanje, the EV delivery startup that didn't make it. (link) For example - Amazon was trialing these for delivery vans - and opted for Rivian instead.


What I'm watching:

Arrival shows off the Alpha prototype of the Arrival Car, designed for ride-hailing:

Nissan celebrates 35 years of production in its Sunderland plant by converting the first car that rolled off its production line in, the Nissan Bluebird, electric with a LEAF drivetrain. Nissan Newbird:

I have questioned the safety of the Wuling Mini before and still haven't found really good data on it. Here's a crash test against another small EV, and it seems there is somewhat of a crumble zone in front for the Wuling. Now we need the same test against a regular-sized car...

Sandy Munro the Nikola Tre electric semi for a spin:


🗣 Tweet of the Week:

This note from a disgruntled EV owner says the BP charger in London hasn't been fixed in a month and "50% of your chargers aren't working".

I'm planning a deep dive on Oil companies buying out EV networks and then leaving them out to die. Is it just greenwashing? Or deliberate sabotage of the green revolution, like the note says?

I'm not 100% this is the case, and every charging network has its problems, but it does start to look fishy...


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