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Workers during the production process of pipes at the Nord Stream 2 facility at Mukran on Ruegen Islandon in Sassnitz, Germany.
Carsten Koall | Getty Images

WASHINGTON – The United States and Germany reached an agreement to allow completion of the $11 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a thorny, long-standing point of contention between the otherwise stalwart allies.

The agreement reached between Washington and Berlin, which was announced on Wednesday, aims to invest more than 200 million euros in energy security in Ukraine as well as sustainable energy across Europe.

“Should Russia attempt to use energy as a weapon or commit further aggressive acts against Ukraine, Germany will take action at the national level and press for effective measures at the European level, including sanctions to limit Russian export capabilities to Europe in the energy sector,” a senior State Department official said on a call with reporters on Wednesday.

The senior State Department official, who requested anonymity in order to discuss the agreement candidly, added that the U.S. will retain the prerogative of levying sanctions, as well, in the case if Russia uses energy as a tool of coercion.

The official said the United States and Germany are “resolutely committed to the sovereignty and territorial integrity” of Ukraine and therefore, consulted closely with Kyiv on this matter.

The unease surrounding the nearly complete Nord Stream 2 project, a sprawling undersea pipeline that will pump Russian gas directly into Germany, stems from Moscow’s history of using the energy sector to gain leverage over Russia’s neighbors, namely Ukraine.

When completed, the undersea pipeline will span 764 miles from Russia to Germany, making it one of the longest offshore gas pipelines in the world. Last month, the Kremlin said that only 62 miles of Nord Stream 2 were left to build.

In May, the United States waived sanctions on the Swiss-based company Nord Stream 2 AG, which is running the pipeline project, and its German chief executive. The waiver gave Berlin and Washington three more months to reach an agreement on Nord Stream 2.

The agreement comes on the heels of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to the White House, the first by a European leader since Biden took office and likely her last trip to Washington after nearly 16 years at the helm of Europe’s largest economy.

Merkel, the first woman to lead Germany, has previously said she will step down after the September national elections.

During a joint press conference at the White House, Merkel pledged to take a tough stance against Russia if Moscow misused the energy sector for political gains.

On Wednesday, the White House announced that Biden will host Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy next month.

Ahead of the July 15 meeting, Biden administration officials and representatives from Germany told CNBC that the leaders of the world’s largest and fourth-largest economies were anxious to rebuild a frayed transatlantic relationship.

A handout photo provided by the German Government Press Office of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Joe Biden stand in the White House with a view of the Washington Monument on July 15, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Guido Bergmann | Handout | Getty Images News | Getty Images

“Obviously, over the past years, we had a number of fits and starts in the bilateral relationship,” said a senior German government official, who requested anonymity in order to speak candidly about Merkel’s agenda.

“The entire focus was on issues where we disagreed,” the official said, adding that sometimes “allies were seen as foes.”

Throughout his administration, former President Donald Trump frequently dressed down allies and often singled out Merkel’s Germany for being “delinquent in their payments” to NATO.

Last year, Trump approved a plan that would remove 9,500 U.S. troops stationed in Germany to other countries, another blow to the transatlantic relationship.

“The U.S.-German relationship was heavily negatively impacted during the Trump administration. So, there was no question that the relationship had to be renewed rebuilt, etcetera,” explained Jenik Radon, adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School of Public and International Affairs.

Radon, a legal scholar who has worked in more than 70 countries on energy issues, spoke to the complex nature of global energy deals.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline aims to double the volume of natural gas exported directly to Germany via a network beneath the Baltic Sea, bypassing an existing route through Ukraine.

“Once you try to deliver gas or oil through a pipeline through transit countries, you always put yourself in a predicament because you have a third party that is also involved,” said Randon.

“It’s not just the seller, it’s not just the buyer, there’s also the transit one, but you have no absolute control over that third country,” he said, adding that “doing transit deals are among the most difficult.”

Workers are seen at the construction site of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, near the town of Kingisepp, Leningrad region, Russia, June 5, 2019.
Anton Vaganov | Reuters

Experts on the region see the undersea pipeline as a form of Russian aggression toward Ukraine.

“By eliminating Ukraine as a transit country, Russia can deny it the benefits that come from having gas delivered across its territory,” explained Stephen Sestanovich, senior fellow for Russian and Eurasian studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

There are two elements to the issue that people often mix up, he added, pointing to Russia’s ability to use natural gas as a political weapon against Ukraine as well as its ability to hurt Ukraine’s economy.

“That’s why the Biden administration has focused on trying to limit or compensate for any economic hit — and it wants a firm German buy-in on that goal,” he said.

However, Russia’s grip over American allies has weakened somewhat due to shifts in energy markets, according to Sestanovich.

“In the years that Nord Stream 2 has been discussed and now all but finished, energy markets have changed, and it’s become much harder for Russia to hold European countries hostage — there are just too many alternative sources of energy,” he said. “The image we have of Russia with a political stranglehold on our allies is becoming outdated.”

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Wheel-E Podcast: Micromobility Europe 2024, 80 MPH army e-bike, more

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Wheel-E Podcast: Micromobility Europe 2024, 80 MPH army e-bike, more

This week on Electrek’s Wheel-E podcast, we discuss the most popular news stories from the world of electric bikes and other nontraditional electric vehicles. This time, that includes all the cool stuff we saw at Micromobility Europe 2024, new low-cost Lectric XP Lite 2.0, an 80 MPH military e-bike, how Paris cleaned its air by kicking out cars, and more.

The Wheel-E podcast returns every two weeks on Electrek’s YouTube channel, Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

As a reminder, we’ll have an accompanying post, like this one, on the site with an embedded link to the live stream. Head to the YouTube channel to get your questions and comments in.

After the show ends, the video will be archived on YouTube and the audio on all your favorite podcast apps:

We also have a Patreon if you want to help us to avoid more ads and invest more in our content. We have some awesome gifts for our Patreons and more coming.

Here are a few of the articles that we will discuss during the Wheel-E podcast today:

Here’s the live stream for today’s episode starting at 12:00 p.m. ET (or the video after 1:00 p.m. ET):

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BYD cuts prices on its best-selling Atto 3 electric SUV in Australia to rival Tesla

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BYD cuts prices on its best-selling Atto 3 electric SUV in Australia to rival Tesla

A new price war is fueling EV sales in Australia as the competition heats up to gain overseas market share. BYD launched its new Atto 3 electric SUV in Australia with several updates, including lower prices, as it looks to chip away at Tesla’s lead.

Chasing Tesla’s lead

Last month, electric vehicle sales in Australia were boosted by price cuts from leaders like Tesla and BYD.

According to the latest data from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), 8,974 fully electric vehicles were sold in Australia last month. That number is up from the 6,194 EVs sold in April 2024 and 8,124 handed over last May.

The growth was enough for EVs to capture 8.1% of all vehicles sold in Australia last month, up from 7.7% in May 2023.

Tesla still leads with Model 3 sales reaching 1,958, surpassing its best-selling Model Y (1,609). Tesla has now sold 8,823 Model 3s and 9,610 Model Ys in Australia year-to-date.

Although Tesla has maintained a market share of over 60%, BYD is chipping away at its lead.

With 3,567 EVs sold in May, Tesla held a 40% share. BYD’s new Seal was the third best-selling EV last month, with 1,002 units sold, while the Atto 3 was fourth with 737. The growth bumped up BYD’s market share to 18%.

BYD-prices-Australia
BYD SEAL (Source: BYD)

BYD launches new Atto 3 with lower prices in Australia

The Atto 3 is still BYD’s best-selling EV in 2024, with 3,366 models sold, while the Seal is a close second at 3,306.

BYD believes 2024 will be a pivotal year as it rolls out new models and aims to take leadership in Australia’s EV market.

Following the new Seal, BYD launched a “major upgrade” for the Atto 3 Friday. BYD’s new Atto 3 features a 15.6″ screen (up from 12.8″). In addition to new features like added camping mode and karaoke, the new Atto 3 features lower prices.

The standard range Atto 3 now starts at AUD 44,449, while the Extended Range costs AUD 47,449 (before on-road costs). BYD’s new Atto 3 prices are down AUD 3,562 and the cheapest they have been so far, according to Australia’s Drive.

Powered by a 50 kWh battery and 150 kW electric motor, the new standard Atto 3 features up to 214 miles (345 km) WLTP range. The Long-Range model, with a 60 kWh battery, can travel up to 261 miles (420 km).

BYD Atto 3 vs Tesla Model Y Price
(AUD)
Range
(WLTP)
BYD Atto 3 Standard Range $44,449 214 miles (345 km)
BYD Atto 3 Long Range $47,449 261 miles (420 km)
Tesla Model Y RWD $55,900 283 miles (455 km)
Tesla Model Y AWD Long Range $69,900 331 miles (533 km)
Tesla Model Y AWD Performance $82,900 319 miles (514 km)
BYD Atto 3 vs Tesla Model Y prices and range in Australia

Meanwhile, Tesla’s RWD Model Y starts at AUD 55,900, with up to 283 miles (455 km) WLTP range. The Long-Range AWD model starts at AUD 69,900 with up to 331 miles (533 km) WLTP range.

Which one are you buying? The new BYD Atto 3? Or the Tesla Model Y? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: Drive, BYD

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Tesla produces 1,300 Cybertrucks per week, moving from Foundations Series next quarter

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Tesla produces 1,300 Cybertrucks per week, moving from Foundations Series next quarter

Tesla confirmed that it managed to produce 1,300 Cybertrucks in a week and it is moving from its Foundations Series production run next quarter.

We haven’t had a lot of updates from Tesla about the Cybertruck production ramp.

Actually, the best one we got was from a recall, which confirmed that Tesla had produced just short of 4,000 Cybertrucks as of April.

Shortly after, Tesla confirmed that it achieved a production of 1,000 Cybertruck in a week in April.

We haven’t seen an update since, but we noted that Tesla seemed to be ramping up production based on sightings at Gigafactory Texas.

Yesterday, at Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting, Tesla released a bit more information about the Cybertruck production ramp:

  • Elon Musk said Tesla recently produced a peak of 1,300 Cybertrucks in a week
  • Elon Musk said Tesla would move away from production Foundation Series Cybertrucks in Q3
  • Tesla said it aims to be at 2,500 Cybertrucks per week by the end of the year

This would currently put Tesla at a capacity of 65,000 Cybertrucks per year and looking to exist the year with an annual capacity of 125,000 units.

Tesla has previously stated that it aims to have a full capacity of 250,000 Cybertrucks, but it plans to achieve that next year.

Moving away from the Foundation Series would presumably mean that Tesla is going to stop bundling all options together for the Dual Motor and Cyberbeast. The automaker might also release new trims – though those weren’t expected until next year.

Electrek’s Take

The Foundation Series bundles push the Cybertruck price to $100,000. Despite the hype around the Cybertruck, there’s a limited market for trucks at over $100,000.

Moving away from the Foundation Series bundles should reduce the price a bit as the dual motor is actually supposed to start at $80,000.

It will also give us more clarity into the option pricing.

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