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Lucid Group has shared an interestingly timed press release late this evening/early this morning, depending on where you live. The American automaker has unveiled a new electric drive unit designed specifically for motorsports, including the “world’s leading single-seater electric racing series.” One look at the photo above is a clear indication this drive unit is for Formula E, but better still, Lucid shared that the technology is already present in all of the Gen3 EVs competing in the ninth season of the championship series that began two weeks ago.

To truly understand how Lucid Group got involved in motorsports and how the hell it snuck its tech into Formula E without many people noticing, you have to start at the automaker’s beginning.

Back in late 2000’s, long before the Lucid Air or even Lucid Motors for that matter, there was Atieva – the precursor to the Group that brought us the ultra-speedy tri-motor Sapphire. Back then, however, Atieva, was focused on developing batteries and electric powertrains for other vehicle manufacturers, accumulating over 50 patents pertaining to its core battery system in the United States alone.

By 2013, Atieva had become a highly capable producer of connected battery packs and electric powertrains, so naturally its team began entertaining the idea of developing a car of its own. As fate would have it, that’s when Tesla’s former VP of Vehicle Engineering and Chief Engineer of the Model S, Peter Rawlinson, joined the team as Chief Technology Officer.

Following a nine-figure round of funding a year later, Atieva began its journey to developing what would become the Lucid Air, rebranding itself along the way. While much of Lucid’s focus the past eight years has been bringing its flagship EV to market, it’s nice to see the company hasn’t forgotten where it came from.

Better still, Lucid has still been developing advanced EV technology for motorsports without making a huge deal about it. That could have something to do with the FIA, and it’s not like Lucid has hidden the fact that its been working with Formula E … it’s just been doing so under a familiar pseudonym.

Lucid Formula E
Lucid’s Front Drive Unit donning the Atieva logo / Source: Lucid Group

Lucid gives a nod to its roots by supporting Formula E racing

If you’ve really been paying attention to Formula E the past two years (who hasn’t right? … right?) Lucid’s news this morning should come as little surprise. The Lucid Group was already developing and supplying battery packs to the Formula E vehicles under the Atieva monicker when news came out in 2021 that it would be supplying the “front powertrain kit” to the championship racing series’ third generation of EVs.

Flash forward two years, and here we are, sharing Lucid’s news about its “Atieva” technology inside Formula E vehicles without specifically mentioning the series by name. What’s even more of a head scratcher is the timing itself. Lucid dropped this bomb firecracker of news while you all were sleeping and a whole two weeks after the Formula E vehicles equipped with the drive units began racing. Better late than never I suppose?

Ok, enough about the bizarre love triangle between Lucid, Atieva, and Formula E and back to the tech itself. This new electric front drive unit combines the motor, inverter, differential, and transmission into one cohesive unit that produces 469 horsepower and is capable of a max rotor speed of 19,500 rpm.

Additionally, the drive unit only weighs 70.5 pounds (32 kg) – providing power density that is a bit of a calling card for Lucid Motors these days. Lightweight power is also perfect for motorsports, but that probably goes without saying. Lucid Group CEO and CTO Peter Rawlinson shared his thoughts:

With incredible power density of 14.7 hp/kg and immense energy recuperation, this drive unit will once again transform electric motorsports, following in the footsteps of our revolutionary battery pack in prior race seasons. For Lucid, the transfer of technology between motorsports and road cars is a two-way symbiosis. This new motorsports drive unit builds directly upon the groundbreaking powertrain technology developed in-house by Lucid and proven on the road in every Lucid Air. I’m excited by the prospect that some of the technical advancements introduced may in turn make their way to future Lucid road cars

Lucid explains that when you tune into Formula E, the nose cone of every Gen3 race car is being powered by its new drive unit, which also provides regenerative energy recovery from the front wheels under braking. The automaker explains that this design enhances the racing EV’s performance, efficiency, and “relevance to road car advancement.”

The system also features the same high-voltage, continuous wave winding and proprietary microjet cooling system present in the Lucid Air, although my money is probably on the Formula E racer when it comes to the track.

So what do you think? Surprised?

Are you more interested to check out Formula E now? Round 2 starts in Diriyah on January 27.

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Stanford scientists figured out why lithium metal batteries fail

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Stanford scientists figured out why lithium metal batteries fail

Researchers at Stanford University and the US Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have identified what causes lithium metal batteries to short-circuit and fail – and this could help avoid the problem in future battery production.

As a result of this discovery, energy-dense, fast-charging, nonflammable lithium metal batteries that last a long time could overcome the main barriers to their use in EVs, among other benefits.

Lithium metal batteries with solid electrolytes are lightweight, inflammable, pack a lot of energy, and can be recharged very quickly. There’s just been a short-circuiting problem that causes them to fail.

But researchers appear to have pinpointed the problem. In a paper published in the journal Nature Energy, titled, “Mechanical regulation of lithium intrusion probability in garnet solid electrolytes,” researchers cited mechanical stress, especially during potent recharging, to be the cause of failure.

Senior author William Chueh explains:

Just modest indentation, bending or twisting of the batteries can cause nanoscopic fissures in the materials to open and lithium to intrude into the solid electrolyte, causing it to short circuit.

Even dust or other impurities introduced in manufacturing can generate enough stress to cause failure.

This artist’s rendition shows one probe bending from applied pressure, causing a fracture in the solid electrolyte, which is filling with lithium. On the right, the probe is not pressing against the electrolyte and the lithium plates on the ceramic surface, as desired. (Image credit: Cube3D)

Colead author Xin Xu likened it to the way a pothole appears in pavement. Through rain and snow, car tires pound water into the tiny, preexisting imperfections in the pavement, producing ever-widening cracks that grow over time.

Xu said:

Lithium is actually a soft material, but, like the water in the pothole analogy, all it takes is pressure to widen the gap and cause a failure.

So the researchers are now looking at ways to use these very same mechanical forces to toughen the material during manufacturing, much like a blacksmith anneals a blade during production. They’re also looking at ways to coat the electrolyte surface to prevent cracks or repair them if they emerge.

Scientists around the world working to develop new solid electrolyte rechargeable batteries can design around the problem, or even turn the discovery to their advantage, as scientists at Stanford are now researching. 

Main image section: Cube3D

Read more: Porsche to design 3D-printed battery gigafactories for Sakuu


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Arrival (ARVL) names new CEO but cuts staff in half as it fights to reach Van production in US

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Arrival (ARVL) names new CEO but cuts staff in half as it fights to reach Van production in US

The woes continue for commercial EV start-up Arrival, which hopes an internal promotion of a new CEO can help get its all-electric Van into US production as part of a business strategy pivot to cut costs. Arrival is still struggling with capital, however, as it also shared plans to reduce its current staff by 50% to further cut costs and stay afloat. Here’s the latest.

Arrival ($ARVL) is an EV start-up focused on delivering urban-centric mobility, particularly its last-mile Arrival Van, although the start-up was originally also developing an all-electric passenger bus and a rideshare-specific Arrival Car designed alongside Uber.

Since going public via an SPAC merger in March of 2021, the start-up’s stock value has dwindled, leading to an announcement last summer that it would be reorganizing its business to focus solely on Arrival Van production, halting Bus and Car development.

By October, Arrival announced it was pivoting its EV business once again, shifting its focus to US production after citing significant costs to scale overseas and a less-than-stellar at-the-market (ATM) platform.

What was more concerning was Arrival’s cutting of “cash-intensive activities,” which included staff salaries. With a refocused aim on US Van production, Arrival shared that its new strategy would, unfortunately, have “a sizable impact on the company’s global workforce, predominantly in the UK.”

By November, Arrival president and chief of strategy Avinash Rugoobur resigned for personal reasons, and CEO Denis Sverdlov stepped down into a new role as chair of the board. Peter Cuneo has been in place as Arrival’s interim CEO since.

Today, Arrival has announced a new chief taking the reins, but with even more job cuts to follow as the start-up looks to further lean down in order to reach a start of US Van production.

Arrival Van
The Arrival Van, which will (hopefully) be manufactured at the start-up’s North Carolina microfactory / Source: Arrival

Arrival Van to arrive in 2024 but will need additional capital

This morning, Arrival shared that its former EVP of digital Igor Torgov will take over as company CEO today, following a unanimous vote from the board. In addition to his time at Arrival, Torgov has held leadership positions at Atol, Bitfury, and Microsoft. He commented on his new role:

Accepting this important role at a critical point in Arrival’s journey is a significant responsibility. Arrival has developed unique technologies in a market that has huge growth potential and can play a key role in addressing climate change. To unlock these opportunities, we need to make difficult decisions and to take swift action. Following a detailed evaluation of Arrival and the wider EV market during the past two months, the leadership team and the Board have taken decisive action to ensure the most effective use of our current resources and optimize the efficiency of the business. The actions support our journey to become a champion in innovative products and new, more efficient methods of vehicle production, particularly in the important US market for commercial electric vehicles. We are keenly aware that these decisions, while necessary, will have a profound impact on a significant number of our colleagues. We are 100% committed to supporting our employees during this difficult process.

A difficult process indeed.

As the new CEO, Torgov’s first task following the aforementioned company evaluation is to cut its current staff of 1,600 by half. By combining those significant job cuts with “reductions in real estate and third-party spending,” Arrival expects to also halve its operational costs down to about $30 million per quarter as it continues to try and begin scaled Van production.

As of December 31, 2022, Arrival had just $205 million in cash on hand. Arrival’s stock has sat well below $1 per share for months now, triggering a noncompliance letter from the Nasdaq Stock Market LLC this past November. Arrival has until May to once again eclipse $1 per share, or it will be delisted.

Arrival said it will share more details of its 2023 business plan during its 2022 full-year business update in March, including its financial outlook and product milestones for the Arrival Van. The start-up reiterated that it intends to start Van production in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2024 but admits that goal remains subject to raising additional capital.

It’s hard out here for an EV start-up these days, and Mr. Torgov certainly has his work cut out for him.

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World’s first semi-submersible floating offshore wind farm blows past expectations

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World's first semi-submersible floating offshore wind farm blows past expectations

WindFloat Atlantic – the world’s first semi-submersible floating offshore wind farm – has been online for two years, and it’s far exceeding power output expectations.

The 25 megawatt (MW) WindFloat Atlantic project ended 2022 with an electricity production of 78 gigawatt hours (GWh) – 5% more output than its first year. It supplies power to more than 25,000 households and avoids 33,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Its annual availability was between 93-94%.

The offshore wind farm sits 20 km off the coast of Portugal in the municipality of Viana do Castelo, north of Porto. It’s made up of three 8.4 MW Vestas wind turbines that sit on semi-submersible, three-column floating platforms anchored by chains to the seabed. A 20 km long (12.4 mile long) cable connects it to an onshore substation.

WindFloat Atlantic was connected to the grid at the end of 2019 and commissioned in 2020, and it’s now finished its full second year in operation. It has an operations and maintenance base in the port of Viana do Castelo, where the team receives the wind farm’s information in real time so can address any issues that arise in real time. Onsite intervention can be complex, due to adverse weather and sea conditions in the area where it’s sited.

It’s a joint venture between Spanish renewable company EDPR, global energy firm ENGIE, Spanish energy firm Repsol, and California-headquartered floating offshore wind firm Principle Power.

Principle Power, which also worked on Scotland’s Kincardine, the world’s largest floating offshore wind farm, says on its website that the “WindFloat” technology is compatible with any standard offshore wind turbine and can be deployed in waters deeper than 40 m (131 feet).

So, what makes semi-submersible floating offshore wind unique? Here’s what Principle Power says:

The WindFloat has been developed specifically to achieve exceptional stability performance, while reducing structural weight, and simplifying logistics during installation and operation.

The virtual pitch- and yaw-free performance in the offshore environment allows the use of existing commercial offshore wind turbines, located at one of the columns, with only minor modifications to control software. 

Photo: Principle Power


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