Andrew Lockley – Exponential Investor (United Kingdom) –
Since I last wrote about driverless cars in early January, we’ve seen quite a few developments.
Some of them could be world changing – like solid-state batteries that can charge in six minutes.
Some of them are just bizarre – like Eoin Must shooting a Tesla into space, simply because he can.
So today, I’m going to rundown some of the biggest driverless and electric car stores of the last few months.
If you believe, like many people now do, that electric vehicles are the future, I have a smart way for you to invest in this inevitable revolution.
My colleague Eoin Treacy has just written about a “secret supplier” to almost every electric vehicle in the world.
Okay, now you know how you can invest, and hopefully make money from these stories, let’s get on with them.
Jaguar’s I-PACE charges in 45 minutes
Jaguar’s answer to Tesla is called the I-PACE.
It’s claimed to travel 310 miles on a single charge and go from 0-60 in four seconds.
Here’s a picture of them testing it in the arctic, at -40°C, for some reason. I guess because it’s being billed as a sport utility vehicle (SUV).
The main thing to come out of its development, though, is that it will be able to charge to 80% power in just 45 minutes.
So it could drive around 250 miles off a single 45 minute charge.
It’s due to be released in the second half of this year, so we should get to see if Jaguar’s claims are true fairly soon.
Remember, if you want to find out how you can invest in these stories, as well as just read about them, have a look at Eoin Treacy’s latest Frontier Tech Investor issue here.
Highways England to test driverless cars on 200 miles of country roads
The government is pushing on with its plan to get driverless cars on UK public roads by 2021.
As the BBC reported:
The project is a collaboration between Groupe Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi, Cranfield University and Highways England, among others.
Mark Westwood, chief technology officer of the Transport Systems Catapult, which is another partner involved in the project, said: “UK roads throw up some particular challenges. They are different from American roads, with roundabouts and demanding country lanes. These are really testing environments.
“This project is about advancing the state of the art and trying to do something more demanding. The control system will learn to drive like a human.”
To enable this, a group of competent human drivers will show off their skills in a simulator based at Leeds University and the data will be collated. Data is also being collected from roads around the UK.
This will be fed into the machine learning system and driverless cars will begin safety testing and trials on private tracks.
Every model of Toyota and Lexus will be available in electric
Electric vehicles are no longer seen as a side project by the big car companies. It’s becoming clear that they are the future.
And this Ars Technica article highlights that point perfectly:
Toyota pledged that “by around 2025” every new Toyota or Lexus model vehicle will have an electrified version, whether it be a hybrid electric, a plug-in hybrid electric, or a battery electric version.
The Japanese automaker also said that it is updating its sales goals to target selling 5.5 million electrified vehicles annually by 2030, including more than one-million zero-emissions vehicles (that is, battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles) annually. Toyota reportedly sold 1.4 million hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) in 2016.
It’s inevitable that the other big brands will follow suit. BMW, Jaguar, Nissan, Ford, Volkswagen – they are all feverously working on their electric car divisions.
Once electric cars become more widely available, it would be foolish not to make the switch. Especially given the cost per mile is so cheap.
As I showed in January, a trip from London to Leeds in a current Tesla Model S would cost you only £6.50 in electricity at current prices.
The only negative is the charging time. But fairly soon that should also be a non-issue.
Drive 200 miles on a six minute charge
If the 45 minute charging time of Jaguar’s I-PACE is simply unacceptable for you, how about a six minute charge instead?
That’s what Toshiba is claiming.
Here’s Electrek’s take on the news:
Japanese electronics giant Toshiba unveiled a new battery that they developed using a new “titanium niobium oxide” anode material.
The company claims the new battery, which is aimed at the automotive market, can enable 200 miles (320 km) of range on an electric car with just 6 minutes of charging.
Its next-generation li-ion battery is the latest iteration of their ‘SCiB’ batteries launched back in 2008.
They claim that the new titanium niobium oxide anode material introduced in the new generation has “doubled” the lithium storage.
That’s just one of many claims that Toshiba is making about the new battery:
“The new battery also offers high energy density and ultra-rapid recharging characteristics, and its titanium niobium oxide anode is much less likely to experience lithium metal deposition during ultra-rapid recharging or recharging in cold conditions—a cause of battery degradation and internal short circuiting.”
They have a 50Ah prototype and they say it maintains over 90% of its initial capacity after being put through 5,000 charge/discharge cycles.
Battery breakthroughs like this are rare. At least they used to be. But with so much money flowing into battery development, from some of the biggest companies in the world, more breakthroughs are inevitable.
BMW and other manufacturers are now working on solid-state batteries that offer 2-3 times higher energy capacity than normal li-ion batteries.
These solid-state batteries could be the key to making electric cars outclass their oil-hungry alternatives.
And that’s why the UK government has issued a £42 million grant into their research.
As the Financial Times reported at the end of January:
The UK has bet on solid state batteries as the future for electric vehicles, pledging part of a £42m government grant to the technology in a bid to compete with countries in Asia.
The government’s newly-launched Faraday Institution said Oxford university will lead the research into solid-state batteries, which are lighter and safer than current electric vehicle batteries.
Elon Musk launches car into space, just because he can
Perhaps the biggest electric car story of the moment though, is Elon Musk’s space car.
As CNN reported:
There were plenty of spectacular moments during the maiden launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket on Tuesday.
But perhaps the most dramatic scene occurred about four minutes after liftoff: The second stage of the rocket, ed deeper into space, discarded the white nose cone at its tip.
It revealed SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s cherry red sports car. Behind the wheel was a spacesuit-clad mannequin, named Starman. The car glided victoriously away from Earth as David Bowie’s “Life on Mars?” blared on SpaceX’s launch webcast.
The car is not on some scientific voyage. This was a test launch, so SpaceX needed a dummy payload — and Musk previously said he wanted it to be the “[s]illiest thing we can imagine.” So he picked his own luxurious Tesla roadster.
“I love the thought of a car drifting apparently endlessly through space and perhaps being discovered by an alien race millions of years in the future,” he said in December.
It’s not strictly about the car, but it is a fantastic PR stunt all the same. And it makes for some great pictures.
It’s a great play, because it doesn’t rely on any one manufacturer winning out. They all need what this company makes. You can find out all about, and why Eoin has chosen it as his number 1 electric vehicle play, by following this link.
Until next time,
Editor, Exponential Investor
- Autonomous Vehicles: Winners and Losers
- Putting your car to work
- Driverless cars will bankrupt the railways