Biden faces key test on EV battery trade dispute

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden faces a Sunday deadline to decide whether to intervene in a trade dispute between two South Korean electric vehicle battery makers that could impact a Georgia factory and his push for more electric vehicles.

The companies, LG Chem and rival SK Innovation Co, have spent months trying to take advantage of past and promised U.S. investments, and ties to politicians.

The Biden Administration, through the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, is set to decide as early as Friday whether to take the rare step of reversing the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), unless the Korean battery companies reach a last-minute settlement.

The White House declined to comment on Thursday.

The ITC in February sided with LG Chem in its trade secrets claims, but permitted SK to import components for batteries for Ford EV F-150 program for four years, and Volkswagen’s North American EVs for two years.

Volkswagen of America CEO Scott Keogh said Wednesday Biden’s intervention was critical: “The White House could accelerate the future of zero-emission vehicles and green jobs, or threaten to reduce U.S. battery capacity and delay the transition to electric vehicles.”

The global auto industry is racing to develop EVs. Biden has proposed $174 billion to boost EV sales and charging.

Unless the White House intervenes, SK says the ITC ruling would force it to halt construction on a $2.6-billion factory in Georgia, where two newly-elected Democratic Senators are the linchpin of Biden’s slim Democratic Congressional majority.

Last month, Republican Georgia Governor Brian Kemp urged Biden to intervene, noting SK’s plant will employ nearly 2,600: “Simply put: the livelihoods of thousands of Georgians are now in your hands.”

Georgia Senator Jon Ossoff has held numerous meetings with the Korean battery makers and Biden Administration, his office confirmed, and stressed “the urgent need for both companies to come to the negotiating table and agree to a settlement to save the Georgia plant,” a spokeswoman said.

LG’s battery unit LG Energy Solution is nearing completion of an Ohio cell manufacturing plant with General Motors and is close to announcing plans build a $2.3 billion second facility in Tennessee, sources told Reuters.

LG plans to invest at least $4.5 billion in U.S. battery production over the next four years. LG insists it can handle automakers battery needs if SK abandons its Georgia plant.

SK argues LG could not handle VW and Ford contracts and warns Chinese manufacturers may replace lost battery capacity.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Michael Perry

Electric trucks may soon challenge diesel if charging hurdle cleared: Study shows

(Reuters) – Electric heavy trucks will soon be able to compete economically with diesel trucks as battery technology rapidly improves, a study by Sweden-based think tank the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) showed on Thursday.

A green shift in the transport sector, which generates roughly a quarter of global carbon dioxide emissions, is seen as important to help align with globally agreed climate goals.

Battery-powered trucks have often been dismissed as too costly to replace diesel trucks in many capacities, with batteries too heavy for long-haul freight.

But researchers at SEI said a tipping point was now in sight.

“Battery technology is very close to a threshold that makes electric trucks feasible and economically competitive. All that is missing is one companion component: fast charging,” said Bjorn Nykvist, senior researcher at SEI.

The study, which evaluated costs, energy use, and battery pack weight, showed that the availability of fast, high-capacity charging was key, as that meant truck batteries could be kept relatively small and light.

This should be an incentive to the private sector and policy makers to focus on making charging infrastructure more available, said co-author Olle Olsson.

“In many settings, electric freight trucks can play an important role in reducing emissions from heavy transport,” he said.

Research by Capgemini Invent, part of Capgemini Group, recently showed that electric trucks are among 55 clean technologies that can help the European Union reach its goal of climate neutrality by mid-century.

General Motors Co and electric truck startup Nikola Corp said last year they would join forces to build electric pickup trucks and fuel cell commercial trucks to take on Tesla Inc.

Volvo Trucks, Sweden’s AB Volvo’s main truck brand, aims to sell a complete range of electric, heavy-duty trucks in Europe starting this year.

Reporting by Helena Soderpalm; editing by Niklas Pollard

New electric car battery can charge in five minutes

“A five-minute charging lithium-ion battery was considered to be impossible,” said StoreDot’s chief executive, Dr Doron Myersdorf.

A new electric car battery that can be fully charged in five minutes has been manufactured for the first time on a normal production line in China, based on designs by Israeli company StoreDot.

The breakthrough could address a significant concern for electric car drivers – the fear of running out of power during a journey, marooning the vehicle for a couple of hours while it charges.

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“A five-minute charging lithium-ion battery was considered to be impossible,” said StoreDot’s chief executive, Dr Doron Myersdorf.

Dr Doron Myersdorf, CEO, StoreDot
Image:Dr Doron Myersdorf, CEO of StoreDot, said the innovation may overcome ‘range anxiety’

“But we are not releasing a lab prototype, we are releasing engineering samples from a mass production line. This demonstrates that it is feasible and commercially ready,” Dr Myersdorf added.

The company produced 1,000 sample batteries with its manufacturing partner Eve Energy in China.

These samples, which are compliant with Li-ion battery certifications, were manufactured on a normal construction line and will be used to showcase the company’s technology to other companies.

So-called “range anxiety” is the “number one barrier to the adoption of electric vehicles”, said Dr Myersdorf.

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Fast charging lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries is a significant problem for electronics manufacturers and developers, and companies from Samsung to Daimler have invested in StoreDot.

The company’s new batteries are designed differently to standard Li-ion ones, replacing the graphite with semiconductor nanoparticles based on germanium – though they hope to move to silicon in the future.

Because the speed of the charge is based on the battery rather than the charging point, StoreDot’s invention could have a significant impact on the adoption of electric vehicles, which are facing a bottleneck in countries such as the UK that have limited charging stations.

There are more than 30,000 points currently in the UK in over 11,000 locations, and around 10,000 charge points were added in 2019 alone.

But research by Deloitte suggests the UK will need to spend £1.6bn on 28,000 more public points for the estimated seven million EVs that will be on the road by 2030.

In 2019, there were 37,850 BEVs (Battery Electric Vehicles) registered in the UK – up 144% on the previous year, however they still only account for 1.6% of the market.

Hybrid electric vehicles – combing an electric motor with a petrol or diesel engine – are currently more popular, making up 4.2% of the market share, but they are set to be phased out along with petrol and diesel cars by 2035.

By: Kwamed2k

ECG Partners POBAD To Install Electric Vehicle Charging System Across Ghana

As the global push for electric vehicles (EVs) is increasing, Ghana does not want to be left behind in this initiative.

To this, Ghana’s Southern electricity distribution company, ECG is collaborating with POBAD International, a wholly-owned Ghanaian technology firm, to install electric vehicle (EV) charging systems in some strategic locations across the country to enable Ghanaians who have taste for EVs and want to own one to be able to charge them.

In 2019, Ghana’s electricity regulator, Energy Commission, launched the ‘Drive Electric Initiative’ as part of an effort to promote the use of electric-powered vehicles for the transportation needs of Ghanaians.

Since the launching of the initiative, ECG started collaborating with market players to closely monitor the EV trend in Ghana in order to focus on the provision of appropriate and safe charging systems for EV users.

On Thursday, November 19, 2020, ECG, in collaboration with POBAD International, launched the EV charging system with a test run of an EV to officially add Ghana to the register of countries that are introducing the new technology in their transportation industry.

Speaking at the launching of the initiative, Managing Director of ECG, Kwame Agyeman-Budu, said his outfit had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with POBAD International Ltd to pilot the operations of the EV charging system in strategic locations in Accra over the next three months.

The pilot, he said, would afford ECG the opportunity to carry out a thorough engineering and commercial studies into the effects of the EV charging system on EC’s electricity distribution networks, the energy consumption rate of the different charging systems, and any other issues.

According to him, the results from the pilot would guide all interested parties, namely automobile dealers, EV charging companies, EV users, regulators, and policymakers to contribute meaningfully to the development of the EV subsector in Ghana.

Mr. Agyeman-Budu said the EV sector provides enormous opportunities not only for ECG but also for the corporate and business community in Ghana.
 
“We wish to call on the Ghana Standards Authority, the Energy Commission, the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC), and other relevant bodies and institutions to work together with ECG to develop standards and regulations to guide and govern the growing EV sector in Ghana,” he said.
 
Managing Director of POBAD International Ltd, Paul Badoo said his outfit would also partner with the Northern Electricity Distribution Company (NEDCo) to replicate the initiative in the Northern part of the country.
So far, the company has installed two EC charging sites at the A&C Mall in East Legon, Accra, and Stanbic Heights, Airport City.
 
“More of these sites will be completed in 2021,” he said.
 
The company plans to install ultra-fast EV charging hardware which would charge electric vehicles between 15 and 30 minutes at their partner filling stations along the major highways to offer support to EV drivers when they travel between towns and other regions in Ghana.
 
“As we strive to serve clients’ cutting edge in Electric Vehicle charging technology, POBAD intends to install a few wireless EV charging hardware to prepare customers for the future,” Mr. Badoo stated.
 
Touching on the payment option, he said, “Payment for the use of EV charge-up hardware will be strictly cashless using bank credit and debit card. An authorised mobile pay Apps will be made possible when our integration with some financial service partners is completed in the near future.”
 
Chief Director of the Ministry of Energy, Lawrence Apaalse, who represented the sector Minister, noted that the advent of EVs in the country would help to make good the utilisation of the excess energy the country has been paying for.
 
He allayed the fears of those who think that electricity consumption by EVs could limit electricity supply to domestic consumption.
 
“Already, we have more than we need for our daily use and so filling in more demand would rather help us consume the excess we are paying for without utilising it,” he explained.
 
Mr. Apaase commended ECG for the initiative, saying it would not only benefit individuals but also help Ghana by helping the country stay compliant with United Nations Development Goals Especially Goal 7, which is about clean energy

Source: Peacefmonline.com