Author Archives: Alex Vikartofsky

Audi & Qualcomm to Deploy Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything Technology on Virginia Roadways That Will Alert Drivers When Workers Are Present

A new pilot project in Virginia aims to make the state's roads safer using wireless communications technology known as "cellular vehicle-to-everything" (C-V2X), which allows vehicles to communicate with infrastructure, such as traffic signals, road signs as well as other nearby vehicles.

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Electric Vehicles Jolt into Trash Pickup

Republic Services orders 2,500 electric refuse trucks from Nikola (Update)

Bookings for Tre cabover model electric chassis could reach 5,000 units

Editor’s Note:Updates throughout with comments from virtual press conference

Republic Services is ordering a record 2,500 Nikola Tre-based battery-electric truck garbage trucks, generating up to $2 billion in revenue for the electric truck startup.

The order could expand to up to 5,000 trucks, Nikola (NASDAQ: NKLA) said. The news sent company shares soaring. They closed Monday at $44.81 up 22.03%.
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Is this Last Mile for the Million-Mile Battery?

Announcements from Tesla and CATL show that a long-lived, cobalt-free and competitively price EV and grid/home batteries may finally have arrived.

John Blyler Jul 06, 2020

The much discussed 1 million-mile (1.6 million kilometers) battery may now be a reality. As the name suggests, these batteries would last for 1 million miles without breaking down. Tesla, along with China-based Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL), have announced such a battery that not only lasts longer but also costs less than $100/kWh and uses cobalt-free materials. Why are these two features important?

It has long been a metric for the success of electronic vehicles (EV) that their battery energy density be on parity with traditional gasoline-powered engines. Such a condition would allow EVs to compete with gasoline vehicles on both weight and range – especially the latter. This means that, if gasoline is 100 times more energy-dense than a battery, that a vehicle would need 100 lbs of battery to go as far as 1-lb of gasoline.

But past studies by the Argonne National Labs have shown that system efficiency is another key consideration when comparing EV and gasoline energy densities. The research lab noted that electric powertrains are far more efficient than powertrains powered by gasoline. In many cases, less than 20% of the energy contained in a gallon of gas actually gets converted to forward motion. After that power has been transmitted through a transmission and differential to the wheels, it would have suffered significantly more mechanical losses. By contrast, an electric powertrain can be more than 90% efficient. This would suggest that the energy density of an EV battery could be far less than equivalent to a gasoline-powered vehicle and still come out ahead.

Let’s go back to the Tesla-CATL announcement of a 1 million mile, $100/kWh battery. This is a significant improvement in an accelerated trend in battery improvements. Last December 2019, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) released the results of its 2019 Battery Price Survey, finding that industry-weighted average battery pack prices fell to $156 per kWh. This drop represented a 13% decrease over the 2018 average ($180/kWh, when adjusted for inflation), and BNEF foresees cost reductions continuing, with $100/kWh potentially being reached by 2023. But it would now appear that the $100/kWh battery may already be here in 2020!

Bloomberg NEF energy density trends. (Image Source: BNEF Energy Density)


There is another benefit to these long-lived batteries especially for the Tesla company. Even after a full life inside a Tesla EV, which have an average life of 200,000 miles, the battery can hypothetically be resold or recycled for use on a Tesla battery farm or home (Powerwall) system. Such reuse potentially means that EV companies can lease the batteries to car owners and bring down the costs of ownership to be on par with traditional gasoline-powered vehicles.

Lastly, let’s look at the importance of making EV batteries free from cobalt materials. Most of today’s EVs run on lithium-ion batteries made with heavy metals like cobalt, which are in limited supply and require less than ideal mining conditions. Further, cobalt batteries tend to catch on fire.

The move to cobalt-free batteries has been the focus of many research firms. For example, the IBM Research Battery Lab has recently developed a new battery built without heavy metals. It's made, instead, with materials that can be extracted from seawater. According to IBM, the new design could outperform current lithium-ion batteries in cost, charging time (less than five minutes to reach an 80 percent charge), power density and energy efficiency. The battery is also less flammable, and it could be used in aircraft, EVs and smart energy grids.

Returning to the earlier announcement, CATL said it is ready to begin manufacturing a cobalt-free battery that will last for 16 years and power an EV for 2 million kilometers (1.24 million miles). Naturally, other companies have been pursuing cobalt-free batteries. For example, the battery unit of Great Wall Motors China – known as SVOLT – recently announced that their new cobalt-free battery is guaranteed to work for 15 years or up to 1.2 million kilometers, close to a million miles.

At least one senior analysist in the energy sector – Peter Kelly-Detwiler, Principal at NorthBridge Energy Partners, LLC - is not surprised about the CATL announcement. When asked by Design News, he noted that the company had a large number of scientists with advanced degrees in materials science that have been focused on advanced battery technologies.

“Either way, this announcement is very good news for the industry and for the grid,” explained Kelly-Detwiler. “All of those batteries are likely to outlast the car and need a second home - literally!”

With all of these benefits, the cobalt-free, 1 million-mile, cost competitive EV and potentially reusable EV batteries should usher in a new era for energy-based technology and markets. Perhaps this is one reason why several major oil companies are investing heavily in renewable energies such as wind and solar, which will only increase the need for long-lasting and cheaper energy storage devices like batteries.

Source: 7/15/2020

Crown Castle expects ramp in small cells in backend of 2020

Crown Castle reported its fourth quarter 2019 earnings this week, and analysts were frustrated trying to decipher the company’s restatement of its financials. But, bottom line, analysts found its small cells and tower businesses should increase over the year now that the T-Mobile and Sprint merger has solidified.

On its earnings call, Crown Castle CEO Jay Brown said uncertainty around the outcome of the pending merger between T-Mobile and Sprint caused a decrease in activity during late 2019 and early 2020. “However, we believe this slowdown will ultimately prove temporary and short-lived as we anticipate a significant increase in industry activity in second half of this year as clarity around the merger drives a ramp in 5G investments,” said Brown, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.

Wells Fargo analyst Jennifer Fritzsche noted that of the three public tower companies, Crown Castle was the only one that included accelerated leasing contribution in its 2020 outlook. “With a large macro portfolio and 50% share in the small cell space, we believe CCI’s infrastructure will continue to benefit from 4G and future 5G spend,” wrote Fritzsche.

Cowen analysts led by Colby Synesael said Crown Castle’s updated guidance now implies 2020 tower organic growth of about 6%, while implied organic growth for small cells remains mid-teens and fiber remains about 3%. “However, management did note that it expects its performance to be more back-end loaded, particularly for its services business, due to the drop-off in activity, which the company began to see in 4Q19 related to the pending T-Mobile/Sprint deal,” wrote Synesael.

But Crown Castle's Brown bragged that 2019 represented the highest level of tower leasing activity for the company in more than a decade. He said the company deployed about 10,000 small cell nodes in 2019. “We expect to deploy another 10,000 small cell nodes this year as we continue to respond to the significant increase in demand from our customers while, at the same time, navigating ongoing hurdles that remain challenging with many municipalities and utilities,” said Brown. “We finished 2019 with more than 40,000 small cells on air and another approximately 30,000 in our construction pipeline.”

MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett said Crown Castle has benefitted from an uptick in tower leasing over the past couple of years. “Like its peers, the company experienced a slowdown in leasing in Q4 2019 related to T-Mobile and Sprint pulling back as they waited for a resolution to their proposed merger,” wrote Moffett.

Moffett also said Crown Castle’s tower growth guidance puts it in the same zone as American Tower’s and SBA’s. “Still, the bottom line is that Q4 results were soft, in large part due to a known factor (the T-Mobile pause and its knock-on effects to leasing and services), and the 2020 outlook remained unchanged on an apples-to-apples basis.”


Source:    3/4/2020

Navistar Defense buys West Point Assembly Plant

By DENNIS SEID / Daily Journal

Navistar Defense on Monday said it had acquired its assembly plant in West Point for an undisclosed amount. The company has leased the facility from Babcock and Wilcox since 2006.

“The purchase of the assembly plant is a part of our strategic plan to grow our business,” said Ted Wright, Navistar Defense chief executive officer. “With the hard work of the local workforce, Navistar Defense has manufactured tens of thousands of vehicles at this facility since 2006. This acquisition shows our commitment to the West Point community and to Mississippi.”

The West Point Assembly Plant has been Navistar Defense’s primary manufacturing site since 2006. The company calls the plant its hub for the manufacture of it line of military vehicles, which are sold worldwide. The plant is located on 161 acres and has 562,000 square feet of manufacturing, storage and office space comprised of five multi-purpose, moving assembly lines.

“This facility has the ability to produce armored and unarmored tactical vehicles from the ground up,” said Wright. “Beyond that, the plant’s large capacity offers the potential to manufacture a variety of products in addition to our core product lines.”

In addition to assembly tooling and equipment, the plant has high-volume chemical agent resistant coating painting, certified welding and technical automotive capabilities.

“West Point is pleased that Navistar Defense has made a long term, permanent commitment to our community,” said West Point Mayor Robbie Robinson. “We look forward to working with Navistar Defense for the good of our city, state and nation.”

Navistar Defense in December was awarded a $24.5 million contract to provide medium tactical vehicles to foreign military sales customers worldwide, except for Iraq.

Work will be done in West Point, with deliveries starting in 180 days after receipt of each delivery order.

The three-year requirements contract, awarded by the U.S. Army Contracting Command, is comprised of 6X6 general transport trucks and 6X6 wreckers, along with spare parts and technical data for both variants.

Navistar has been contracted to provide MTV variants to Iraq since 2017.

Source: 1/15/2020