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Publisher's Blog

Gerry Woolf

Mars is a great market for pure EVs

08/02/2018

All power to Elon Musk and SpaceX. What an incredible achievement to build the world’s most powerful rocket, make much of it reusable and have a sufficient sense of humour to put one of your other company’s product— a Tesla electric car, atop of it all and send it toward Mars! Tesla is losing a fortune, so what the hell?

This writer didn’t know if any of the Tesla team was at last week’s Advanced Automotive Battery Conference in Mainz last week, but maybe Menahem Anderman had a word in his ear. “You’ve got about as much chance of selling fancy electric cars on Mars mate, as you have in the USA or even China for that matter.” So perhaps Musk took him literally at his word?

It’s still all about the battery and Anderman literally laughed out of court the major automotive OEM’s predictions about how many pure EVs they’ll sell by 2025— only seven years away. 20% market penetration?  “Balls” as we say in the UK. Anderman reckoned 5% or probably less. It’s a little different in the People’s Republic of China. If you want a car in Beijing, you have to have an electric. It’s a government order.

But for the rest of the world? Big lithium-ion will still be too damn expensive even that far down the road. No cheap ingredients… nickel cobalt.  Get that into your heads!

Draw your own conclusions; it’s stop start for the rest of us. And that means… yes, lead!

The lead people though were not present in large numbers at AABC— outnumbered 10:1 by the advanced chemistry people.

In their own cosy sessions the lead men concentrated on difficult technical issues but failed to be exuberant on the good things coming their way in years to come— as long as they can keep the damn legislators off their backs. Maybe that’s the problem… they are too old to party! But they need to… lead industry stocks have got to be a better bet than so many new alternative chemistries.

You can read more about what really mattered at AABC in my exclusive report in the Spring issue of BEST. Make sure you’ve subscribed.

A flaming embarrassment

Looking for ways to make lithium-ion batteries safer? Well, don’t go to a battery safety conference, because you won’t learn much! At least I didn’t when I went to Cambridge EnerTech’s battery safety event last week in Arlington.

Don’t die… just get bought!

Now is a great time to sell your battery manufacturing business— to an oil company.
The age of oil isn’t over yet but those in fossil fuels know it’s coming, so now is the time to diversify.

Futile rear guard action?

The defending army is on the run. In a desperate attempt to help the troops escape, a rear guard is assembled, hoping beyond hope to delay the rapidly advancing attacking troops. They will run out of ammunition of course, or be overwhelmed.

Auto electric confusion?

It was a confusing week in Mainz. The only thing you could be sure about was that electrification of vehicles was not going away, but perhaps we’ve known that for some time. The thing we’re not sure about is;

No-fly lithium looks very possible

There are few inside the battery industry who haven’t seen a video of a lithium-ion cell going into thermal runaway, shooting out flames and gas like some kind of giant firework.
There are enough battery specialists who can appreciate and calculate the release of energy from such devices and have the imagination to visualise the domino effect that could take place when one defective cell goes wrong in pallet containing maybe several thousand cells.

Poor emissions lead to sales revisions

It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good, but the ill wind that’s been blowing through Volkswagen these past few weeks may deliver a positive benefit to the battery industry if its industry Guru, Menachem Anderman, is to be believed.

Storage doomsayers unite

This writer tries to avoid TV news these days; From the refugee torrent out of Africa into Europe, the tit-for-tat terrorist bombings in the Middle east, it’s just too awful to contemplate. Batteries, (when not arming bombs and missiles) are relatively innocuous things and when involved in the firming of renewables, they do good. But last week, at the Electricity Storage Association’s technical meeting, the industry was told it is not doing anywhere near enough.

What matters: FIFA or ESA….the ball is in your court.

So ESA’s annual event is over for another year. It’s no longer an event for battery scientists or even battery vendors but it looks like an excellent networking event for everyone else. As a conference with formal presentations, forget it.

Musk has set the pot boiling

It’s funny how us lesser beings can pursue a technical topic till we’re blue in the face and no one seems to take any notice. Electrical Energy Storage is just one such topic.

Savannah 2015— the verdict

Well, BCI sure has gone digital— the only analogue service was Ann Noll and her ‘ring out your dead’ bell. I remember Michael Mayer of ELBC fame in a similar role but that’s another story.

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