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When CEO Elon Musk reflects on the last decade, he grounds himself in Tesla company goals that were designed to spur the world’s transition to clean energy. Today, he is practical yet optimistic — he sees a future in which energy production moves from reliance on fossil fuels to pragmatic sustainable energy generation. A pervasive and systematic global shift to renewables is a core vision.

“My expectation is not like that the energy production must be pure as the driven snow, but it also cannot be using the world’s dirtiest coal, which it was for a moment there,” Musk said in his role as panelist at The B Word conference, which was focused on bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. “So, you know, that’s just difficult for Tesla to support in that situation. I do think long-term renewable energy will actually be the cheapest form of energy — it just doesn’t happen overnight.”

Musk explained during the conference panel discussion that energy storage systems, combined with solar and wind, aren’t the only ways to transition bitcoin to cleaner energy. He endorsed drawing upon existing hydropower, geothermal, and nuclear energy sources to reduce the environmental impact of bitcoin mining.

Square Crypto lead commentator Steve Lee asked Musk his advice about what can the energy-intensive bitcoin industry do “to accelerate the transition to renewable energy.” He also interjected, “Could Tesla Energy play a role?”

Musk replied, “Well, I think Tesla can play a role.”

Musk Reflects on the Tesla Journey

Musk’s capacity to excel in tangible innovations, such as batteries, all-electric cars, and rockets, is often in conflict with a risk-averse and heavily-regulated corporate and government environment. Yet he has shown that the US can be a center again for manufacturing at a time when most have moved off seas.

Tesla has installed a number of utility-scale energy storage systems, Musk reminded his bitcoin audience, that have helped utilities with “load-leveling the grid,” including in South Australia and elsewhere. But he noted that battery production was currently constraining production.

In a Twitter exchange with fans after The B Word Conference, Musk wrote that Tesla is still “not quite done” getting to “volume production” of its custom-designed 4680 battery cells.

“In fact, the limiting factor for us right now is cell production,” he noted. “So we need to both internally get our Tesla internal battery cells produced as well as increase supply from suppliers.”

Musk also repeated that, even once Tesla can make its own battery cells, it will still rely on other battery cell makers. Its current cell suppliers include Panasonic, LG, and CATL.

“Generally, when I talk to our suppliers and they say ‘how many cells would you like?’ I say ‘how many cells can you make?’ You know, ’cause sometimes they’re concerned. Is Tesla gonna compete with them on cells? I’m like, ‘No no, if you want to make the cells, be our guest.’ It’s just that we need a crazy number of batteries.”

Stories that Chronicle How Musk Reflects

Two new books — both written with Musk’s cooperation — peer into the mindset that made Musk the entrepreneurial genius of his times.

  • Liftoff by Eric Berger reviews the highs and lows of the SpaceX early years.
  • Power Play by Tim Higgins traces Tesla’s tumultuous journey from the launch of the 2009 Roadster, onto the Model S luxury sedan, and then to the mass appeal Model 3 — now the world’s best-selling electric car.

A New York Times book review chronicles the 2 books and Musk’s stormy rise to success.

In 2008, the Great Recession had hit the US. This sharp decline in economic activity, caused by the abrupt rise and fall of the US housing market due to mortgage-backed securities speculation and derivatives, hit many sectors. Musk assembled his top execs and admitted that Tesla was in real trouble — ready to run out of money. Millions of dollars of customer deposits for the Roadster had already been expended without deliveries. Replacing the existing CEO with himself, Musk cut 25% of the Tesla workforce, realizing that only 3 weeks of cash remained.

But on his BlackBerry was an image of the Model S luxury sedan that he envisioned as the next auto in the Tesla catalog. He borrowed the necessary funding to keep the company afloat and prodded his investors to match him.

When he received confirmation that the investors would back his idea for the company redirection, Musk was quite emotional. “All of his fortune was now on the line,” Higgins writes. “From the depths of the Great Recession, he’d done something that other US automakers were unable to do: avoid bankruptcy.”

Musk reflected on his feelings at that moment in time. “It felt like I had been taken out to the firing squad, and been blindfolded,” he admitted. “Then they fired the guns, which went click. No bullets came out. And then they let you free. Sure, it feels great. But you’re pretty [expletive] nervous.”

What Musk Knows Matters

What makes Elon Musk different than his competitors? He has a deep knowledge of the physics, thermodynamics, and technology underlying his products. Thus, he knows what boundaries he can push. “In meetings, Musk might ask his engineers to do something that, on the face of it, seemed absurd,” Berger writes. “When they protested that it was impossible, Musk would respond with a question designed to open their minds to the problem, and potential solutions. He would ask, ‘What would it take?’”

In an incredibly honest exchange at the bitcoin conference, Musk opened up to the audience.

“I would say I’ve had some pretty tough life experiences,” Musk revealed, “and Tesla’s probably responsible for two-thirds of all personal and professional pain combined, to give you a sense of perspective there.”

But in the same week, one of Musk’s fans attempted to assuage Musk’s admitted turmoil. The account user  — named the “Pope of Muskanity” — featured a clip from the popular video game Super Mario Bros. in a tweet. The character Mario had to wade past a variety of tough challenges and obstacles to win the game. The accompanying tweet noted, “How hard it is for Elon Musk to avoid controversies.”

The user tagged the Tesla CEO, who decided to react. “Although to be fair, I dig my own grave a lot.” He included some laughing emojis in his response.

The “Pope of Muskanity” continued the conversation, adding a tweet that contemplated the ideal of freedom. “Freedom of speech and freedom of thought are only actually positives if you act and think like you’re expected to, Master Elon! PS: Don’t worry, we faithful appreciate your candor.”

We’ve all watched Elon Musk navigate a spectrum of emotions in his public role as Tesla CEO –ranging from high anxiety to jubilant glee. He admits to his own foibles, such as the “significant mistakes” the company made in its Solar Roof project, which has had delays and cost overruns. He stated that the Cybertruck might flop, but said he doesn’t care, as he loves its unusual trapezoid-like design.

He’s often filtered, sometimes quick to react, and always eager to promote Tesla. Elon Musk reflects and previews, explains and exclaims, but he is always an inspiration for us who hope to live in a sustainable world one day. As Musk reflects on his rise to prominence, he offers us instruction about the ways that we, too, must self-assess yet move on with the will to transcend forks in the proverbial road.

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Tesla is rumored to be planning a US LFP battery cell factory with CATL




Tesla is rumored to be planning a US LFP battery cell factory with CATL

Tesla is rumored to be planning a new battery factory to produce LFP cells in the US with China’s CATL, the world’s biggest battery manufacturer.

Over the last few years, CEO Elon Musk has said multiple times that Tesla plans to shift more electric cars to LFP batteries in order to overcome nickel and cobalt supply concerns.

Iron phosphate (LFP) batteries, which don’t use nickel or cobalt, are traditionally cheaper and safer, but they offer less energy density, which means less efficiency and a shorter range for electric vehicles.

However, they have improved enough recently that it now makes sense to use cobalt-free batteries in lower-end and shorter-range vehicles. It also frees up the production of battery cells with other, more energy-dense chemistries to produce longer-range vehicles.

The main issue is that LFP battery cell production is currently almost entirely concentrated in China. Therefore, it creates a logistical problem for electric vehicles produced in other markets.

Furthermore, in the US, it creates a problem for automakers trying to take advantage of the new federal tax credit for electric vehicles, which requires that the batteries of electric vehicles be produced in North America in order for buyers to get the full $7,500 credit. It creates a demand to bring LFP production to North America.

Ford has recently announced a plan to partner with CATL, the world’s biggest battery cell manufacturer, to build LFP battery cells at a $3.5 billion factory in Michigan.

Now Tesla is rumored to be doing the same thing. Bloomberg first reported the rumor:

The EV maker discussed plans involving Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. with the White House in recent days, said the people, who asked not to be identified revealing private conversations. Tesla representatives sought clarity on the Inflation Reduction Act rules that the Biden administration is finalizing this week, according to some of the people. Rohan Patel, the company’s senior global director of public policy, was among those involved with the discussions, one of the people said.

The report is light on detail, but it states that Tesla is looking at a similar structure to Ford’s own deal with CATL. Texas has also been rumored to be a possible location for the new factory.

The LFP cells would enable Tesla buyers to get the full tax on the base Model 3, which is about to lose the incentive because its cells currently come from CATL’s Chinese factories.

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Heart Aerospace finds a new partner to develop ES-30 electric plane battery




Heart Aerospace finds a new partner to develop ES-30 electric plane battery

Swedish electric airplane maker Heart Aerospace is joining forces with BAE Systems to develop a battery system for its ES-30 electric plane.

Heart partners with BAE to develop electric plane battery

Heart Aerospace is paving the way for sustainable electric air travel to become the norm with its leading-edge zero-emission aircraft.

We first covered the company in 2021 after it made waves with its ES-19 electric airplane. The aircraft was designed to carry up to 19 people up to 250 miles (400 km), perfect for short-distance travel.

The innovation was enough to attract an investment from the third largest US air carrier, United Airlines, in July 2021. United committed to purchasing and deploying 100 ES-19 electric aircraft to its fleet as it works to erase emissions from its fleet “without relying on traditional carbon offsets.”

Air Canada, the largest airliner in Canada, invested $5 million into Heart last year in addition to ordering 30 of its newest model, the ES-30.

Heart introduced the ES-30 last year, an electric plane driven by four electric motors and a battery system. The electric aircraft will have a fully-electric zero-emission range of up to 200 km (124 miles) and 30-minute fast charge capabilities. Hybrid reserve turbogenerators allow travel of nearly 500 miles (800 km) at 25 people max.

Heart Aerospace ES-30 electric plane (Source: Heart Aerospace)

To advance the ES-30 battery system, Heart is partnering with BAE Systems, best known for its leading defense and aerospace solutions. The battery system will be the “first of its kind” for a conventional takeoff and landing regional aircraft, operating with zero emissions and significantly reduced noise.

The collaboration will utilize BAE Systems’ over 25 years of experience electrifying heavy-duty industrial vehicles. Chief operating officer at Heart Aerospace, Sofia Graflund, said:

BAE Systems’ extensive experience in developing batteries for heavy-duty ground applications, and their experience in developing safety critical control systems for aerospace, make them an ideal partner in this important next step for the ES-30 and for the aviation industry.

Heart Aerospace says it already has 230 orders and another 100 options for the ES-30 electric aircraft. In addition, Heart says it has a letter of intent for another 108 planes. The ES-30 is scheduled to enter service in 2028.

Heart Aerospace is aiming to double the all-electric range of its aircraft by the late 2030s with close to 250 miles (400km) range. In addition to offering zero emissions, electric airplanes feature lower costs (electricity compared to jet fuel) and less maintenance due to engine repair.

Electrek’s Take

Although 124 miles may not seem like much, it will be perfect for regional air travel while building a base for the future of zero-emission air travel.

The 30-minute fast charge feature is perfect for turning around flights quickly in between loading passengers and luggage.

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Snow way! Hyundai teases IONIQ 5 N in arctic conditions ahead of summer debut [Video]




Snow way! Hyundai teases IONIQ 5 N in arctic conditions ahead of summer debut [Video]

As we approach April, much of the US is just beginning to thaw out after the harsh months of winter. Soon, spring will bloom into hot, sunny summers when we are expecting to see the official debut of the upcoming all-wheel drive Hyundai IONIQ 5 N. Before then, however, Hyundai is teasing its red-hot performance EV drifting through snowy terrain near the arctic circle. Check out the video below.

Hyundai’s N and N Line performance variants are a sub-brand of the Korean automaker, launched in 2017 with the Hyundai i30 N. With its second 800 V E-GMP model on the cusp of first orders, Hyundai Motor Group continues to showcase how it is going all-in on electrification.

We know much about the automaker’s initial phase of bespoke EV models that began with the IONIQ 5, which will soon be joined by the 6 streamliner, then the IONIQ 7 SUV. With such a focus on EVs, fans of the automaker have consistently speculated about the possibility of an all-electric N performance model.

During the global premiere of the IONIQ 6 last summer, the public got its answer – N brand IONIQ EVs are coming. The end of the video showed the three models mentioned above suddenly joined by two more the automaker describes as “rolling lab” N models – the RN22e, based on the IONIQ 6 concept and the Vision 74, a nod to Hyundai’s 1974 Pony Coupe concept.

Despite showcasing these two rolling lab concepts, Hyundai confirmed the IONIQ 5 EV would be the first production model to don the performance “N” badge. Today, the company began showcasing some of the sharp corners that future IONIQ 5 N owners will be able to experience, whether it’s on a road, a track, or the icy terrain of winter.

Watch the Hyundai IONIQ 5 N drift through sub-zero temps

In addition to the video footage you can see below, Hyundai shared a press release outlining some of the performance design and technology that went into the upcoming IONIQ 5 N in order to optimize the EV to deliver high performance under all conditions.

The footage shows Hyundai’s first mass-produced, all-electric, performance N model enduring winter testing in temperatures as low as -22F at the Hyundai Mobis Proving ground in Arjeplog, Sweden – adjacent to the Arctic Circle.

Hyundai said the icy terrain is perfect for testing in the most extreme low-friction conditions, enabling engineers to fine-tune the AWD EV to drive in a balanced manner that is sporty and fun but also safe and predictable. The N brand’s vice president of management & motorsport, Till Wartenberg, elaborated:

Just as our N models are honed at the sharp corners of the Nürburgring, our N models are also honed at the sharp corners and icy surfaces of our proving ground in Arjeplog, ensuring maximum performance in the most extreme winter conditions. We’re proud to demonstrate the IONIQ 5 N perfectly meets our broad performance criteria, ensuring N Brand success as our first EV production N model

For the IONIQ 5 N specifically, the performance sub-brand has combined Hyundai’s existing E-GMP technology with its own motorsport-centric expertise to “raise the bar in electrified high performance.” Better yet, the team predicts the first production N model will become many enthusiasts’ top choice for a performance EV that delivers year-round.

Like the combustion model Ns that came before it, the Hyundai team says the performance version of the IONIQ 5 will cater to the sub-brand’s three crucial pillars: corner rascal, racetrack capability, and everyday sportscar.

Motorsport enthusiasts are going to be lining up to get behind the wheel of the Hyundai IONIQ 5 N when it comes out because it will not only be the N brand’s first all-wheel drive model but because it will feature tons of new tech that’s not in the current IONIQ 5 production EV:

  • N Drift Optimizer – Integrates front and rear torque distribution, torque rate, suspension stiffness, and steering.
  • e-LSD – Stands for electronic-Limited Slip Differential. It improves handling during cornering and high-speed driving on the racetrack or in tricky road conditions like slick ice or deep snow.
    • e-LSD compliments the N Drift Optimizer by offering a drive mode specifically dedicated to drifting. Hyundai says all drifters will enjoy this technology, whether it’s their first time or their 1,000th.
  • N Torque Distribution – Allows the driver to select torque levels for both the front and rear wheels and can work alongside the e-LSD to distribute power to the wheels in varying ratios.

EV tuning. We always knew this day would come. In conjunction with the new details, Hyundai released Episode 1 of the IONIQ 5 N teaser footage focused on corner carving. View it below while we wait for the full reveal of the IONQ 5 N in July 2023.

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