Category Archives: Blog

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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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

Taking electric vehicles from science project to reality

March 06, 2019 / Brian Straight

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana. Medium-duty truck applications seem primed to accept a rapid deployment of truck electrification projects, but several factors continue to slow progress, including infrastructure. Weight considerations, range limitations and more are limiting opportunities right now for electrification, but that is changing as manufacturers work to solve these challenges.

“It’s a large market, but a very diverse market with a lot of unique challenges,” explained Jim Castelaz, founder and chief technology officer of Motiv Power Systems, during a presentation on Tuesday on truck electrification at the NTEA’s Green Truck Summit.

Founded 10 years ago, Motiv has developed two unique chassis as part of its EPIC chassis program and has seen its electric powertrain installed in a variety of vehicles, from delivery vans and buses, to shuttles and refuse trucks. Castelaz said that the driver of adoption is the lower prices for battery packs, which he said now cost about $197 per kilowatt hour.

“In medium-duty trucks, if you are under $200 an hour, you are really in the money,” he said. “Two hundred dollars per kilowatt battery packs are game-changing.”

For the foreseeable future, Castelaz sees medium-duty applications as the place to be for electric.

“The two biggest hurdles for electric is range anxiety and charging infrastructure, but you really don’t have those issues in medium-duty [trucks],” he said, noting that most medium-duty applications involve fixed routes with many stops and starts (which can take advantage of regenerative braking technology to recoup wasted braking energy). The trucks are then domiciled at night at a depot.

Bill Combs, director of Connected Fleet for Penske Truck Leasing, echoed some of Castelaz’s thoughts, mentioning that Penske is working with Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) to deploy the Freightliner eM2 medium-duty electric Class 6-7 truck and the eCascadia, DTNA’s Class 8 electric model.

“The goal is to place these vehicles with our customers,” he said, and learn over the next two years what works and what doesn’t. This includes working closely with DTNA to adjust battery placement and adjust other specifications to maximize the vehicle’s productivity.

“We want to make sure this is not a science project, but that we are [putting trucks in fleet’s hands so they can succeed],” he said.

Combs began his presentation by pointing out what we “know” about electric trucks – they reduce air pollution, fuel costs, maintenance costs and noise. “But how will we [really] know?” he asked. The vehicles need to be deployed in real-world applications with real fleets hauling real freight, Combs said, and that is what Penske is trying to accomplish.

Jasmin Kluge, project manager of alternative fuels for Mitsubishi Fuso Truck of America, a Daimler Trucks business, pointed out that Fuso has been working on electric trucks for years and has its eCanter Class 6 truck in operation around the world, including with customers in North America. Series production on that vehicle is slated for 2020.

“The electrification of trucks, which are a backbone of our society, is critical to our [future],” she said.

Kluge said Fuso has trucks operating in Houston, Los Angeles, New York, North Carolina and Pittsburgh, and the company is seeing ranges of 60 to 80 miles. The weight of the electric system reduces payload from about 1,000 pounds to around 9,000 pounds. She called on more cooperation between stakeholders to improve infrastructure and speed deployment.

“The electrification of trucks will be an important driver for cleaner cities,” Kluge said.

All the speakers reiterated the need for groups to work together. “It takes a village is a saying, but we really think it takes an industry,” Combs said.

Motiv’s Castelaz related some of the experiences of its early customers, including AmeriPride. The uniform delivery company has expanded its use of Motiv’s system on Ford F-59 chassis vans to include 30 vehicles, up from an original order of 10. Those vehicles have run more than 100,000 miles to date with an operational savings of 85 percent. The biggest issue, Castelaz said, was building the infrastructure.

“The challenge in low-income communities is that the infrastructure is not as strong, so it takes longer to deploy,” he said.

Castelaz also pointed to a project with Mountain View/Google, which is running electric Ford E-450 chassis with the Motiv EPIC system. Those vehicles run 13-mile loops, making about 30 stops each, and have been getting an effective range of 60 to 80 miles.

“I think we are at an interesting inflection point and it’s because of the battery pack costs and it’s leading us into the future,” Castelaz said.

Combs summed up all the Green Truck speakers on the day across various panels when he said that application fit is most important.

“It’s very important to understand that these trucks are not going to solve every use case,” he said.


What is the business case for autonomous vehicles in the supply chain?

Even the Jetsons could not fully imagine a future dominated by autonomous vehicles.

Flying vehicles and robots went hand-in-hand during the animated show. But a world without a driver? Although self-driving cars have been in the popular imagination for decades, the technology has long eluded society.

In the past years, however, we have seen autonomous vehicles emerge in warehouses, factory design plans and highways. The news seems to point to a self-driving world just on the horizon. But is it really, and does that eventuality make sense? To find out, we asked three experts:

What is the business case for autonomous vehicles (AVs) in the supply chain?

Mike Ramsey / Senior Research Director, Automotive and Smart Mobility, Gartner

Autonomous vehicles have a much more serious and quantifiable impact on supply chain logistics and operations than their potential for transporting people.

The prospect of autonomous cars serving in fleets for personal mobility is the most popular vision for the technology, with more than 50 companies designing autonomous vehicle control software aimed at automating consumer driving.

In practice, however, autonomy already exists and is saving companies money in the supply chain. Rio Tinto is operating more than 80 autonomous mining trucks in Australia. In 2016, on average, each of Rio Tinto’s autonomous haul trucks operated an additional 1,000 hours and at 15% lower load and haul unit cost than conventional haul trucks.

As the technology improves and comes down in cost, businesses will find that moving goods inside of factories and between factories and warehouses makes financial sense. This return-on-investment-based thinking of automation isn’t as sexy as a fleet of 80,000 Waymo cabs picking up passengers around the globe, but it is a more likely future.

Companies such as Einride, in Sweden, believe there is a $1 trillion market for autonomous logistics aimed precisely at this market. That company’s electric truck has begun running pallets on a 10 km stretch between warehouses owned by German logistics company, Schenker, in the Swedish city of Jönköping.

It’s a small step, but it makes business sense, solves a problem and can be easily adapted to any business. Like the mining trucks, the efficacy will be rewarded by more usage.

Cort Jacoby / Partner, Consumer and Retail Practice, A.T. Kearney

The allure of Autonomous vehicles is clear and understood: To enable self-driving using the latest technology while limiting the need for drivers in an ever-constrained market for drivers.

We have seen numerous tests occurring across companies such as Uber, Google and Mercedes for use in the consumer market, but it’s my belief that being able to make the case for autonomous vehicles in the supply chain is still a long way off.

While yes, technical advancements are being made and the capabilities to apply to commercial use may in fact exist, there are several challenges that will curtail adoption. These include government regulations, legal risk, questions regarding liability and ongoing maintenance of the technology, including resident skill sets within the companies, whether shippers or logistics companies seeking to implement this capability. That’s to name just a few challenges.

The topic raises the question of when to be on the leading edge of technology versus when to be a follower, fast or otherwise.

In this case, I have a hard time seeing the financial and operational benefits associated with early adoption of autonomous vehicles. Are there leading companies that can (and should) experiment? Sure there are. But these companies are few and either have a very fundamental competitive advantage or potentially see their revenue model erode rapidly without this technology – call this the 1%.

For the vast remainder of the companies depending on logistics to move good across their respective supply chains, the 99%, there are many opportunities to extract efficiencies and further optimize current operations through commercially available and proven technology, for example backhaul optimization, carrier visibility and rapid load/unload, that are not even close to being extracted.

With all the bright minds and new technologies entering the arena of logistics we are in a renaissance for the industry and have numerous new capabilities that are proven and open for business to address many of today’s problems. My advice is to start there. Right now, the business case for autonomous vehicles is not ready for prime time.

Sean Maharaj / Director, Transportation, Logistics and Retail Practices, AArete

It’s hard not to hear about some type of disruptive innovation going on in today’s economy, especially in traditional industries like retail, trucking, healthcare or passenger transportation, which have all endured their fair share of radical change lately. With that in mind, the continued expectation is that more disruptions will prevail into the foreseeable future. But some disruptions have been discussed so frequently and for some time, even though they still remain off into the future due to setbacks, delays and the need to fine-tune them.

One such development is autonomous vehicles. When initial mention of autonomous vehicles first broke onto the scene, the reception ranged from pure fascination to thoughts of Knight Rider (the 80’s TV series). But, we’re talking more than just David Hasselhoff and his self-driving KITT car. Indeed, we’re talking about the development and piloting of the current day technology for real-world use.

This, all in spite of the fact that a substantial road ahead remains, especially after the bad press related to Uber’s autonomous vehicle accidents. What’s more, there’s another layer for public and/or governmental approval to allow driverless vehicles to parade our public roads while we go about our business. Casual surveys amongst friends, family and colleagues elicit feelings of uneasiness when discussed as a potential reality.

So, what does this all of this mean for an innovation in the supply chain? Even as big leading companies like Google, Tesla, Amazon, Daimler, Uber Volvo and Rolls Royce continue to pour money into development and testing, nothing has gone full scale operational in the field. Nothing is certain, at this point. In fact, summer of 2018 saw Uber trying to call it quits for its Otto division (Uber’s autonomous truck segment acquired in August 2016).

So is the race really on, or is it that companies (driven by consumers), in general, are afraid to fall back to times when Kodak, Blockbuster or even the flip phone ruled?

It’s more likely that the supply chain world is seeking labor saving alternatives and this may capitalize on technologies to offer a razor thin margin industry a chance to make a dent due to rising wages and driver shortages. Either way, autonomous vehicles in the supply chain still have many more hurdles to clear before anyone gives them room to pass on local roads or highways.


Source:, published 11/27/18

ATS Successfully Completes Annual ISO Audit

Advanced Technical Services has successfully completed a re-certification audit by NSF in May of 2018.

The certification verifies that the Quality Management System implemented and maintained by ATS meets the requirements of the ISO 9001-2015 standard for our repair processes.

ATS has been ISO certified since 2007 and is proud of the ongoing commitment from our entire team.

ATS Sponsors Local Little League Baseball Team

Advanced Technical Services is proud to announce their Tier 2 team sponsorship for the Crystal Lake Little League Baseball. Owner, David Vikartofsky, truly believes in the teamwork and sportsmanship that little league helps develop in its young players and was overjoyed with the opportunity to assist by becoming a tier 2 team sponsor in the Crystal Lake league.

If you or anyone you know would also like to donate to the wonderful cause the website is below.

ATS announced as new Mediacom Communications repair facility

September 2017

Advanced Technical Services announced that they have been added as a new cable distribution equipment repair facility for Mediacom Communications.

When asked about the addition, ATS Company President, Dave Vikartofsky, said that “being an authorized repair facility for Mediacom Communications will allow us to expand our repair offerings to a new customer base allowing us to continue to grow our support services within the cable industry”.

For more information about ATS product and service offerings please visit the company’s website or

ATS Supporting Play Network with Equipment Repair Services

August 2017

Advanced Technical Services announced today that that they have added Play Network to the list of Entertainment Industry customers they are now supporting.

When asked about the addition, ATS Company President, Dave Vikartofsky, said that “we are excited about the opportunity to help support Play Network with their equipment repair needs.”

The addition of Play Network allows us to expand the breadth of our repair offerings within this industry, and to deepen our existing relationships with the existing customers we already support”.

For more information about ATS product and service offerings please visit the company’s website or

ATS Successfully Completes Automotive Quality Audit

July 2017

Advanced Technical Services announced today that is has successfully completed an automotive quality audit for a major automotive OEM.

The successful completion of this audit verifies that the Quality Management System implemented and maintained by ATS meets the standards and requirements set by this automotive OEM.

Company President Dave Vikartofsky said, as an approved quality supplier to this customer, we can now participate in any relevant electronic remanufacturing RFQs that may become available in the future.

ATS adds this successful quality audit completion to the list of other automotive and non-automotive quality certifications already in place.