Hyperion’s hydrogen-powered supercar can drive 1,000 miles on a single tank And … Go ‘0’ to 60 in 2+ seconds


The Hyperion XP-1

Hyperion, a California-based company, has unveiled a hydrogen-powered supercar the company hopes will change the way people view hydrogen fuel cell technology. 

The Hyperion XP-1 will be able to drive for up to 1,000 miles on one tank of compressed hydrogen gas and its electric motors will generate more than 1,000 horsepower, according to the company. The all-wheel-drive car can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in a little over two seconds, the company said.

Hydrogen fuel cell cars are electric cars that use hydrogen to generate power inside the car rather than using batteries to store energy. The XP-1 doesn’t combust hydrogen but uses it in fuel cells that combine hydrogen with oxygen from the air in a process that creates water, the vehicle’s only emission, and a stream of electricity to power the car.

The Hyperion XP-1's main purpose is to generate interest in hydrogen power, the company's CEO said.

The Hyperion XP-1’s main purpose is to generate interest in hydrogen power, the company’s CEO said.

The XP-1 has much longer range than a battery-powered electric car because compressed hydrogen has much more power per liter than a battery, Hyperion CEO Angelo Kafantaris explained.

Also, because hydrogen gas is very light, the overall vehicle weighs much less than one packed with heavy batteries. That, in turn, makes the car more energy efficient so that it can go farther and faster.

Many car companies, including HondaToyota, Hyundai and General Motors, have produced hydrogen fuel vehicles for research purposes or for sale in small numbers. 

But the technology is starting to gain more support. Start up truck maker, Nikola, for example, plans to sell hydrogen-powered semis and pickup trucks. Other companies haven’t yet created an exciting car that will capture the public’s attention, though, said Kafantaris.

The biggest challenge facing hydrogen-powered cars has been fueling them. Compared to gasoline or electricity, there’s little hydrogen infrastructure in America. Public charging stations for electric cars are much more plentiful than hydrogen filling stations A Department of Energy map of publicly accessible hydrogen filling stations shows clusters of dots around major California cities and no dots at all throughout nearly all the rest of the country.

Hydrogen is extremely light which helps the Hyperion XP-1's performance.

Hydrogen is extremely light which helps the Hyperion XP-1’s performance.

Hydrogen is the first and simplest element on the periodic table. Colorless and odorless, it has only a single proton at its center with one electron around it. 

While it is the most plentiful element in the universe, hydrogen doesn’t naturally exist by itself. Before it can be used as a fuel, hydrogen has to be broken out of molecules of water, natural gas or other substances. That’s usually done by using electricity to split those larger molecules apart. Energy is then released inside the car when the hydrogen combines again with oxygen. 

The main advantage of hydrogen is that pumping a tank full of hydrogen takes much less time than charging a battery. It only takes three to five minutes to fill the tank on the XP-1 for a 1,000 mile trip, for instance.

Hydrogen gas also isn’t subject to wear and degradation as batteries are, especially when fast-charged, said Kafantaris. The XP-1 does have a battery that acts as a buffer to store electricity generated by the fuel cell, but it’s much smaller than the battery packs used in electric cars.

The real purpose of the Hyperion XP-1 is to generate interest in hydrogen fuel, the company said.

Hyperion already has several operational prototype cars, said Kafantaris. The first production cars are expected to be delivered to customers by the end of next year. Kafantaris did not detail pricing for the car, but indicated that prices will vary depending on the level of performance.

The highest-performing versions, ones capable of producing 1,000 horsepower, could cost in the millions. The company is capping production at 300 examples.

The company is hoping to manufacture the XP-1 somewhere in the Midwest, Kafantaris said. Following the XP-1, the company hopes to make more practical hydrogen-fueled cars for a broader range of customers.

The company also hopes to popularize the idea of hydrogen as an energy medium for vehicles, as well as for other uses, he said. Hyperion has been working with NASA to commercialize various hydrogen technologies that the space agency currently uses and to develop new uses, he said. 

The space agency confirmed to CNN Business that Hyperion has agreements to license a number of NASA technologies.

“Part of what we’re aiming to do is to give a sense of pride for what America has done in the past, through NASA technology, and kind of brings people together around something that everybody can look at and say ‘That’s American, I’m proud of that,” Kafantaris said.

Hydrogen or electric vehicles? Why the answer is probably both


Elec and Hydro 11456746-3x2-xlarge

The distinct virtues of the two main emerging types of greener transport mean both are likely to flourish, depending on the requirements of different types of user.

Battery-powered electric vehicles (BEVs) are gradually displacing the internal combustion engine in the move toward greener forms of transportation. An alternative is the hydrogen vehicle, or fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV). Both are propelled by electric motors, but where the BEV is powered by a lithium ion battery, the FCEV uses a fuel cell to convert hydrogen into electricity.

It’s common to see the two technologies pitted against one another as alternatives. The major point of contention is whether hydrogen is as green as its supporters like to argue. That’s because while hydrogen vehicles emit no emissions, the process by which hydrogen is extracted and compressed into fuel tanks results in greater efficiency losses. Volkswagen has been quite public in asserting that this makes the BEV the clear winner.

However, there are other leading manufacturers, notably Toyota, Honda and Hyundai, who are clearly prioritising FCEVs. Companies investing in this technology are betting that hydrogen will likely play a much bigger role in our energy needs in general in the decades to come. There are also greener methods of extraction being developed, such as obtaining hydrogen from biomass.

Another key area of comparison is cost. Here, the BEV appears to have the upper hand for now. That’s partly because FCEVs are not being manufactured on a large enough scale yet. However, a recent report from Ballard and Deloitte China concludes that FCEVs will be cheaper to run than BEVs within a decade.

The FCEV boasts great benefits in areas where BEVs typically struggle. A major drawback of the battery-powered electric vehicle is range anxiety — fears the vehicle won’t travel far enough on a single charge. Because the energy in a fuel cell is much more densely packed, these vehicles can offer much better range without the need to refuel.

The FCEV also offers superior charging times. A major drawback for BEVs is the excessive charging time, with vehicles often taking hours to fully charge despite shorter ranges. In contrast, a hydrogen vehicle can be fuelled in roughly the same time it would take to add fuel to your traditional diesel or petrol vehicle.

These factors matter more for some vehicles than for others. At Pailton Engineering, we provide bespoke steering system solutions to a range of different vehicle manufacturers. Speaking from the perspective of someone who works closely with bus manufacturers and commercial vehicle manufacturers, the current debate between advocates of BEVs and FCEVs is too heavily skewed in favour of passenger cars.

Range anxiety and charging time are problematic for all of us, but if you have a fleet of heavy goods vehicles travelling long distances, the benefits of longer ranges are more apparent. To help alleviate range anxiety for these large vehicles, lightweighting is a big trend in zero-emission vehicle manufacturing, as less weight requires less energy to haul it.

Similarly, if you’re aiming to replace a fleet of diesel-powered buses with a green alternative, the fact that hydrogen-powered buses take so much less time to charge is an obvious selling point.

By asking which of these two technologies is superior, we risk falling into the trap of always seeing them in competition. That need not be the case. The answer will depend on which sector we’re talking about and the specific needs of any given vehicle manufacturer. If there was room for petrol and diesel, then why not electric and hydrogen?

It’s impossible to predict precisely what percentage of our transportation fleet will be accounted for by hydrogen vehicles by 2050. In the medium term, BEVs are likely to maintain their lead over their hydrogen equivalents in the automobile market. In other sectors, however, the picture is quite different. Both technologies are good bets. For manufacturers of buses, trucks and commercial vehicles, it will be important to recognise that both batteries and hydrogen fuel cells will probably play an important part in our greener future.

The Future of Transportation – Keynote Address from 2020 N Carolina DOT Summit – Tony Seba YouTube Video


Tony Seba is a world-renowned author, thought leader, speaker, educator entrepreneur.

Seba is also a co-founder of RethinkX, a think tank that focuses on technology disruption and its implications for society and co-author of “Rethinking Transportation 2020-2030“.

Works written: 

Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation:

– How Silicon Valley Will Make Oil, Nuclear, Natural Gas, Coal, Electric Utilities and Conventional Cars Obsolete by 2030”, “

Solar Trillions” and “Winners Take All”.  

Seba is also a co-founder of RethinkX, a think tank that focuses on technology disruption and its implications for society and co-author of “Rethinking Transportation 2020-2030“.

Watch the Latest Video Below

BIG … News from the LA Auto Show and MIT: “Rivian” unveils electric vehicles for the future – Startup founded by MIT alumnus


MIT-Rivian_0

One of the two models unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week, Rivian’s R1S, will sell for $65,000, according to the company. Courtesy of Rivian

Courtesy of MIT News

Rivian Automotive is showing off its first products at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week.

 

Electric vehicle startup Rivian Automotive has spent the first nine years of its existence in stealth mode working to design vehicles around what it believes are future trends in mobility, such as electrification, subscription-based ownership, and autonomy. This week the company is finally revealing what it’s been up to, dropping the curtains on its first two products, an all-electric pickup truck and SUV, at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Rivian has garnered interest over the years for quietly securing some of the building blocks of mass production, including raising nearly $500 million in capital and purchasing a 2.6-million-square-foot manufacturing facility in Illinois that once produced 200,000 cars a year for Mitsubishi. Now Rivian says it will begin shipping its vehicles to customers in 2020.

The abrupt transition from stealth mode to large vehicle supplier is all part of the plan for Rivian founder and CEO R.J. Scaringe SM ’07 PhD ’09. Scaringe didn’t want to hype up the company until he could show something off that customers could actually drive in a reasonable amount of time.

“It would’ve been easy to make statements early on and show sketches,” Scaringe says. “But we wanted to get all the pieces aligned: To build out a robust team with robust processes, get capital in place, line up key suppliers, acquire a large-scale production facility, and align it with our products. All that is done now. It’s been blood, sweat, and tears for a period of years to get in a position where we’re very comfortable showing our products.”

Designing a vehicle from the ground up has taken time, but the process has allowed Rivian to create some novel vehicles with intriguing performance specifications. The company describes its first two products, named the R1T and R1S, as high-end adventure vehicles that can be driven on- or off-road. MIT-Rivian 2

“They’re designed to be comfortable to use and invite you to get dirty,” Scaringe says. “When I say truck or SUV, you’re thinking inefficient and not particularly sophisticated. But we’ve used technology to make the traditional weaknesses of these vehicles strengths.”

Users purchasing trucks or SUVs have traditionally had to make compromises in areas like acceleration, control, and gas mileage in return for more space and towing capacity. Rivian uses an innovative design and powertrain to change that.

A high-tech transportation solution

Both the R1T and R1S will come with a hardware suite including cameras and sensors, which gives them self-driving capabilities on highways. The vehicles have a unique quad-motor setup that allows the electronic control unit to send 147 kilowatts of power to each wheel.

The fastest versions of the vehicles go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in three seconds and 0 to 100 miles per hour in less than seven seconds. Scaringe says the products’ ride and handling feel more like a sports sedan than a truck or SUV. He also says the vehicles can “go off-road better than any vehicle on the planet today” thanks to high ground clearance and wheel articulation that’s helped by a suspension system that adjusts to the environment, stiffening on the road and immediately loosening off the road.

Rivian’s battery configuration has been referred to as “skateboard architecture” because the battery pack stretches across the floor of the vehicle. The packs come in different sizes, the largest of which gives the vehicles over 400 miles in range. Rivian assembles its own battery packs, using proprietary cooling systems to achieve energy efficiency that Scaringe claims is better than anything on the EV market today.

Rivian-autonotive-governor-rauner-illinois-620x350“We’re doing all of the electronics, control systems, and battery packaging in-house,” Scaringe says. “And the digital architecture of the vehicle is a complete clean-sheet approach. So we’ve done the hardware design, the software design, the full stack development. It gives us complete control over how we move data around the vehicle and synchronize it with our cloud platform. We have a real-time sense of the health of all of our assets in the field.”

The high-tech platform comes inside two spacious vehicles that are designed to be stylish and functional. Both models include a 330-liter front trunk and a long compartment under the rear seats that Scaringe says is perfect for objects like surfboards, skis, and golf bags.

Rivian is listing the R1S at $65,000 and the R1T at $61,500 after federal tax rebates. The company is planning to release lower-priced cars in the future.

MIT past helps change the future

Scaringe studied mechanical engineering  for his master’s and PhD in the Sloan Automotive Laboratory, where he was a member of the automotive research team. He worked with some of the biggest car companies in the world in that role, and realized how difficult it would be for them to reorient around the big changes in transportation that he believed were coming.

Immediately after earning his PhD in 2009, in a year when General Motors and Chrysler would declare for bankruptcy, Scaringe founded Rivian. At a time when many people were wondering if America’s biggest car companies would make it another day, Scaringe set out to start a company that would lead the market decades into the future.

“In 2020, we’d love to have you use one of our vehicles. But in 2035, when you’re thinking about those trips to the beach or hiking, we want you to immediately think about using a Rivian,” Scaringe says. “The brand position we set up in 2020 lays the foundation for us.”

Scaringe knew fulfilling his vision would be difficult, but he believes his time at MIT helped him persevere in the face of the major challenges that come with starting something as complex and capital-intensive as a automotive company.

“MIT draws together some of the smartest minds in the world to study and work on deeply challenging problems,” Scaringe says. “That environment helps demonstrate that even the most challenging problems can be solved through the application of time and effort. … The foundation around solving complex and difficult problems is precisely what has enabled Rivian to this point.”

Now that Rivian’s first vehicles have been revealed, Scaringe hopes the company can move beyond thinking about these trends and start accelerating their arrival.

“It comes back to these big fundamental shifts in how we think of mobility,” Scaringe says. “The change in how we power our vehicles; how the vehicles are controlled and operated, going from human operation to machine operation; and because of those changes, the significant changes to how we think about the business model. Like how consumers purchase vehicles and how manufacturers make money, shifting away from the traditional asset sale model. We think it’s really important to line up the megatrends with our business strategy, and now it’s about making sure the strategy helps drive those megatrends.”

Lucid Motors Signs $1bn+ Investment Agreement with Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia – SA Enters the EV Race with “Lucid’s Air”


A Major Milestone on the Path to Production of the Lucid Air

Lucid Motors announced today that it has executed a $1bn+ (USD) investment agreement with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, through a special-purpose vehicle wholly owned by PIF.

Under the terms of the agreement, the parties made binding undertakings to carry out the transaction subject to regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions.

The transaction represents a major milestone for Lucid and will provide the company with the necessary funding to commercially launch its first electric vehicle, the Lucid Air, in 2020. Lucid plans to use the funding to complete engineering development and testing of the Lucid Air, construct its factory in Casa Grande, Arizona, begin the global rollout of its retail strategy starting in North America, and enter production for the Lucid Air.

Lucid’s mission is to inspire the adoption of sustainable energy by creating the most captivating luxury electric vehicles, centered around the human experience. “The convergence of new technologies is reshaping the automobile, but the benefits have yet to be truly realized. This is inhibiting the pace at which sustainable mobility and energy are adopted. At Lucid, we will demonstrate the full potential of the electric connected vehicle in order to push the industry forward,” said Peter Rawlinson, Chief Technology Officer of Lucid.

Lucid and PIF are strongly aligned around the vision to create a global luxury electric car company based in the heart of Silicon Valley with world-class engineering talent. Lucid will work closely with PIF to ensure a strategic focus on quickly bringing its products to market at a time of rapid change in the automotive industry.

A spokesperson for PIF said, “By investing in the rapidly expanding electric vehicle market, PIF is gaining exposure to long-term growth opportunities, supporting innovation and technological development, and driving revenue and sectoral diversification for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

The spokesperson added, “PIF’s international investment strategy aims to strengthen PIF’s performance as an active contributor in the international economy, an investor in the industries of the future and the partner of choice for international investment opportunities. Our investment in Lucid is a strong example of these objectives.”

Mobility Disruption by Tony Seba – Silicon Valley Entrepreneur and Lecturer at Stanford University – The Coming EV Revolution by 2030? – YouTube Video


Tony Seba, Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Author and Thought Leader, Lecturer at Stanford University, Keynote

The reinvention and connection between infrastructure and mobility will fundamentally disrupt the clean transport model. It will change the way governments and consumers think about mobility, how power is delivered and consumed and the payment models for usage. Will we be ALL Electric Vehicles by 2030? Is the ICE Dead? Impossible?

The Coming Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation: YouTube Video


Published on Jan 18, 2018

Mobility Disruption – A Presentation by Tony Seba, Silicon Valley Entrepreneur and Lecturer at Stanford University

The reinvention and connection between infrastructure and mobility will fundamentally disrupt the clean transport model.

It will change the way governments and consumers think about mobility, how power is delivered and consumed and the payment models for usage.

 Bold Predictions

“The industrial age of energy and transportation will be over by 2030. Maybe before.” – Tony Sena

Exponentially improving technologies such as solar, electric vehicles, and autonomous (self-driving) cars will disrupt and sweep away the energy and transportation industries as we know it.

The same Silicon Valley ecosystem that created bit-based technologies that have disrupted atom-based industries is now creating bit- and electron-based technologies that will disrupt atom-based energy industries.

Clean Disruption projections (based on technology cost curves, business model Innovationist as well as product innovation) show that by 2030:

– All new energy will be provided by solar or wind.

– All new mass-market vehicles will be electric.

– All of these vehicles will be autonomous (self-driving) or semi-autonomous.

– The car market will shrink by 80%.

– Gasoline will be obsolete. Nuclear is already obsolete. Natural Gas and Coal will be obsolete.

– Up to 80% of highways will not be needed.

– Up to 80% of parking spaces will not be needed.

– The concept of individual car ownership will be obsolete.

– The Car Insurance industry will be disrupted. The taxi industry will be obsolete.

Genesis Nanotechnology – “Great Things from Small Things”

Watch Our New YouTube Video:

What’s sparking electric-vehicle adoption in the truck industry?


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACommercial fleets could go electric rapidly. Understanding total cost of ownership and focusing on specific cases is critical.

There’s nothing new about electric trucks; they have labored on the streets of major cities across the world since the first decades of the 20th century.

Fleet managers prized these trucks for their strong pulling power and greater reliability than vehicles powered by early, fitful internal combustion engines (ICEs). And now, in a high-tech second act, both incumbent and nontraditional makers of commercial vehicles across most weight categories and a variety of segments are launching new “eTrucks.” A century on, the question is, why now?

We believe the time for this technology is ripe and that three drivers will support the eTruck market through 2030.

First, based on total cost of ownership (TCO), these trucks could be on par with diesels and alternative powertrains in the relative near term.

Second, robust electric-vehicle (EV) technology and infrastructure is becoming increasingly cost competitive and available.

Nikola Electric Truck 15616_26470_ACT

Nikola CEO: Fuel-Cell Class 8 truck on track for 2021 – SAE International

Third, adoption is being enabled by the regulatory environment, including country-level emission regulations (for example, potential carbon dioxide fleet targets) and local access policies (for example, emission-free zones).

At the same time, barriers to eTruck adoption exist: new vehicles must be proved to be reliable, consumers need to be educated, and employees, dealers, and customers will require training. Furthermore, there are challenges in managing the new supply chain and setting up the production of new vehicles.

Based on the analysis of many different scenarios—which are highly sensitive to a defined set of assumptions—our research shows that commercial-vehicle (CV) electrification will be driven at different rates across segments, depending on the specific characteristics of use cases.

Electrification is happening fast, and it’s happening now

Electric Truck II upsvanMcKinsey developed a granular assessment of battery-electric commercial vehicles (BECVs) for 27 CV segments across three different regions (China, Europe, and the United States), three weight classes, and three applications. The three weight classes are light-duty trucks (LDTs), medium-duty trucks (MDTs), and heavy-duty trucks (HDTs), while the three applications are urban, regional, and long-haul cycles. While our modeling also includes other alternative fuels and technologies such as mild hybrids, plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), natural gas, and fuel-cell electric CVs, this article focuses on full electrification.

Our model concentrates on two scenarios, “early adoption” and “late adoption,” to help place bookends for each weight class and geography (Exhibit 1). The two scenarios reflect different beliefs regarding core assumptions, such as the effectiveness of any regulatory push, the timing of infrastructure readiness, and the supply availability, which results in delay or advancement of uptake.

adoption scenarios for electric trucks in 3 weight classes in Europe, US, and China through 2030

Our research reveals strong potential uptake of BECVs, especially in the light- and medium-duty segments. Unlike decision criteria to purchase passenger cars, CV purchasing decisions place greater emphasis on economic calculations and reflect a greater sensitivity to regulation. Light- and medium-duty BECV segment adoption will probably lag that of passenger-car EVs through 2025 due to a lack of eTruck model availability and fleets that are risk averse. However, our analysis indicates that in an “early adoption” scenario, BECV share in light and medium duty could surpass car EV sales mix in some markets by 2030 due to undeniable TCO advantages for BECVs over diesel trucks.

Comparing the weight classes, our scenarios suggest low uptake in the HDT segment mainly because of high battery costs, and, as such, later TCO parity. In the MDT and LDT segments, our “late adoption” scenario suggests that BECVs could reach 8 to 27 percent sales penetration by 2030, depending on region and application. In our “early-adoption” scenario, with more aggressive assumptions about the expansion of low-emission zones in major cities, BECVs could reach 15 to 34 percent sales penetration by 2030.

The inflection point appears to be shortly after 2025, when demand could be supported by a significant tailwind from the expected tightening of regulation (for example, free-emission zones), in combination with increasing customer confidence, established charging infrastructure, model availability, and improved economics for a variety of use cases and applications.

TCO plays a more important role in commercial-vehicle purchasing considerations and modeling TCO helps companies understand the timing of TCO parity across different powertrain types. We analyzed the sensitivity of TCO parity to see how much earlier a specific use case with a custom-made technology package tailored to a predefined driving and charging pattern can break even. The illustration of the “race of eTrucks” shows the interval of potential TCO breakeven points for various applications and weight classes (Exhibit 2). The light-colored shade behind each point indicates how early a specific use case can potentially break even.

timeline for electric trucks (by weight class and miles traveled) reaching total-cost-of-ownership parity with diesel vehicles in Europe, US, and China through 2030

Medium average daily distances show the earliest TCO breakeven point. Looking across weight classes, we can identify an optimal daily driving distance that establishes TCO parity for eTrucks and diesels. In the example shown, the earliest breakeven point occurs at a distance travelled of about 200 kilometers a day. This sweet spot of operation means the battery is large enough to enable efficient operation without too many recharges, while ensuring sufficient annual distance to benefit from the lower cost per kilometer. At the same time, the battery is still small enough to limit upfront capital expenditures. This effect is strongest where the difference between electricity and diesel prices is high, as in the European Union, where taxes on fuels are high, resulting in a high price differential with electricity prices. In the United States, prices for fuel and electricity are both lower, as is the absolute price differential.

Urban city buses will break even earliest in the heavy-duty segment. Electric city buses—an adaptation of a purpose-built HDT—could break even the earliest in the HDT segment, between 2023 and 2025 for the average application. In China in 2016, the share of new EV bus sales already exceeded 30 percent1due to regulatory considerations. By 2030, EV city buses could reach about 50 percent if municipalities enact conducive policies. City and urban bus segments are likely to experience some of the highest BECV penetration levels in Europe and the United States.

The breakeven point for light-duty urban applications is sensitive to minor changes in use case. While the average LDT-segment truck could break even in 2021, by slightly modifying the use-case characteristics (for example, using a smaller battery, recharging during operation, or assuming higher energy efficiency due to disabled heating for urban parcel delivery), the case can reach parity today.

Three critical assumptions most affect TCO breakeven points.The assumptions that drive TCO uncertainties include the development of fuel and electricity efficiencies for ICE or BECV technologies, the cost of batteries, and the cost of fuel and electricity. Also, our analysis shows that the TCO breakeven of urban applications is more sensitive to changes in assumptions than it is for long-haul applications. That’s because the costs per kilometer associated with both BECVs and ICEs for long hauls remain closer to each other for a longer period. For example, a five percent improvement in a BECV’s TCO would shift the breakeven point by three to four years in urban applications, but only by about two years in long-haul applications.

Infrastructure readiness

The required charging infrastructure represents a major challenge to BECV uptake. Nevertheless, charging may not be as critical as it is for passenger cars, due to the predictability and repeatability of driving patterns and operational uses and the central nature of refueling. In general, charging infrastructure will be required at depots to enable charging when BECVs are not in use (for example, overnight). Building a supporting infrastructure will require investments by vehicle owners and, potentially, end users as well. (Our TCO modeling reflects the required cost of use-case-supporting charging infrastructure.) The possibility of charging while loading or unloading could drive earlier adoption because it has the potential to reduce cost based on smaller battery-size requirements.

Long-haul (and partly regional) applications will require in-route charging, for example, at motorways or resting areas. On the one hand, the high level of predictability of long-haul routes allows for concentrated investment in charging infrastructure. Companies can identify key routes and charging points and prioritize them for investment. Analysis shows that on popular routes a charging point every 80 to 100 kilometers could suffice for the early phases of HDT adoption, so the sheer number of charging points might not be the limiting factor.

Courtesy Of: McKinsey Center for Future Mobility 

Connecting the Future of Electric Vehicles with Our Exploration of Space – “Back to the Future”



Special Contribution by Jason Torchinsky 




Yesterday, we reported on an alarming development for the future of electric cars: we may not have enough of the crucial minerals needed for their batteries to meet the expected demand. Supplies of nickel and cobalt are going to be needed in far larger quantities than ever before, and it’s looking like we may not have the necessary resources. 

Though, it’s worth mentioning that this is only a problem if you have what the intergalactic call a “planetary mindset.” There’s plenty of what we need just outside our door, in asteroids.

Asteroid mining has been discussed and planned and speculated about for decades, but so far there’s never really been a compelling economic reason to take the risks inherent in starting an entirely new, space-based industry.


Electric car demand may be that crucial factor that changes everything, though. Nickel and cobalt of sufficient quality and quantity may be becoming scarce on Earth, but there’s literally tons and tons and tons of the stuff pirouetting around in the inky black of space.

There’s incredibly, astoundingly valuable asteroids out there, and many we’ve already identified, like 241 Germania, which has as much mineral value in it as the entire Earth’s yearly GDP. Nickel and cobalt are abundant elements in these asteroids, and researchers have even already picked a dozen small asteroids close enough to Earth that they could be mined with just the technology that we have right now.

Those 12 asteroids are close enough to the L1 or L2 Lagrangian Points–stable areas where the gravity between two bodies, like the Earth and moon, cancel one another out–that getting them to these stable, accessible orbits is easy enough that researchers call them EROs, for Easily Retrievable Objects.

Companies like Planetary Resources have been working on asteroid mining for years, but have mostly been focused on the in-space uses of those resources, as opposed to bringing those resources back to Earth. This animation gives a sense of the way they’ve been thinking so far:

While in-space use of asteroid mineral resources is absolutely important, the recently seen expected demand for electric cars–most obviously seen in the amount of interest and pre-orders Tesla got for its upcoming Model 3–changes things dramatically. Electric car demand could easily be the backbone of the justification for asteroid mining that returns resources to Earth.

Where it was once thought that it didn’t make economic sense to mine asteroids for terrestrial use, that thinking is changing. In fact, a recent study by Noah Poponak of Goldman Sachs says the opposite:

“While the psychological barrier to mining asteroids is high, the actual financial and technological barriers are far lower. Prospecting probes can likely be built for tens of millions of dollars each and Caltech has suggested an asteroid-grabbing spacecraft could cost $2.6 billion.”

For comparison, $2.6 billion is how much money Lyft has raised. Lyft! What have they produced? Fuzzy pink car-moustaches and an app, neither of which can grab asteroid one.

Legally, things are looking good, too. An Obama-era law, the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, was passed that acknowledges that while legally no one can own the moon or an asteroid, private companies can own any materials taken from those celestial objects, which means asteroid mining for profit is legal.

If electric cars provide the economic push needed to get us to send grizzled robot space prospectors out to get that sweet, sweet space-cobalt, it’s hard not to see a possible significant competitive advantage for one of the key players, Tesla.

That’s because as we all know, Elon Musk is behind not just Tesla but SpaceX, likely the most successful private space-launch company around. SpaceX has capable launch vehicles and likely the expertise to design and build robotic mining spacecraft, which could give Tesla total control of their entire vertical from mining the resources in space, transporting them back to Earth (humans have been sending material from space to Earth since the start of the space program, remember), manufacturing those resources into batteries, and from there into electric cars.

Has this been Elon’s plan all along? Has all the Mars colonization hype just been a red-planet herring to distract us from his real preparations for large-scale asteroid mining?

Probably not, but it’s fun to think about. There’s also an environmental argument in favor of asteroid mining for electric car batteries. Where electric cars are far cleaner at the car level, they still take an environmental toll to build, since mining isn’t exactly the most eco-friendly endeavor. Moving that part of the equation off-planet would made the overall life cycle of an electric car vastly better for the Earth, for the simple reason it’s just not happening there.

China’s Electric Vehicle Revolution: Video


China EV Boom 3 f8bc126d980d16f46a1506

China’s electric car production grows three-fold in May

Beijing’s announcement that it is considering banning gasoline and diesel cars from its smog clogged roads promises to accelerate a push toward electric vehicles — a race in which Chinese car makers have everything to gain.