The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety has awarded three new EVs with its top award, the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award.
The three EVs that garnered the award are the 2023 models of the Hyundai Ioniq 6, Lexus RZ, and Genesis Electrified GV70.
A Top Safety Pick award requires that the vehicle score a top rating in all six of the IIHS’ crash tests: driver- and passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraint tests. It also must have an “advanced” or “superior” front crash avoidance system that activates to help inattentive drivers prevent vehicle or pedestrian crashes.
Pedestrian safety is particularly important lately, as a shift towards larger vehicles has resulted in a sharp increase in pedestrian deaths in recent years.
Then, beyond these tests, to earn the “plus” rating, the vehicle must meet additional requirements for headlight quality, and the headlights must be standard across all trims.
All three of the vehicles met IIHS’ high standards and thus attained Top Safety Pick+ ratings. Specifically, the Electrified GV70 earned “advanced” ratings in both the daytime and nighttime vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention evaluations. The Ioniq 6 and the Lexus RZ earned “superior” ratings in these two tests. Meanwhile, the GV70 headlights got a “good” rating, while the Ioniq 6 and RZ have “acceptable” headlights.
The IIHS is one of the US’ main automotive safety rating organizations, along with the NHTSA. While the NHTSA is a government agency, IIHS is a private organization funded by insurance companies. Europe has its own rating agency, Euro NCAP.
IIHS and NHTSA ratings have similar goals, but the organizations use different testing procedures and will occasionally reach different results. The IIHS views its work as complementary to NHTSA’s, augmenting the government agency’s five-star rating system with additional crash testing information. IIHS tells consumers that they should look for 4+ stars in government testing and either a “good” or “Top Safety Pick” recommendation from themselves.
None of these three vehicles have yet been rated by the NHTSA, so those ratings will likely come later.
Several other electric vehicles have won the Top Safety Pick+ award, including the Rivian R1T/R1S, Kia EV6, Hyundai IONIQ 5, Tesla Model 3/Y, Audi e-tron, and others. You can search for awarded vehicles on IIHS’ website and see a full breakdown of IIHS’ testing procedures.
If you’d like to see videos of these beautiful EVs being smashed to smithereens, here they are (content warning: EVs being harmed 😭).
US grid-scale energy storage installations soared in Q2 2023
The US battery energy storage market added 5,597 megawatt hours (MWh) in the second quarter of 2023, a new quarterly record.
The grid-scale segment of the industry drove the market with a record-breaking 5,109 MWh in Q2, beating the previous record in Q4 2021 by 5%, according to Wood Mackenzie and the American Clean Power Association’s (ACP) latest US Energy Storage Monitor report.
The grid-scale segment achieved 172% growth quarter-over-quarter. California was No. 1 among states with the most grid-scale energy storage installations, with 738 MW and a 49% share of installed capacity.
Wood Mackenzie projects the grid-scale segment to be the main driver of the market in its five-year forecast from 2023-27, accounting for 83% of total installations, or 55 gigawatts (GW).
ACP’s VP of research and analytics, John Hensley, said:
The energy storage market is on pace for a record year, as utilities and larger power users increasingly turn to storage to enhance the grid and improve reliability.
The market is on pace to nearly double annual installations despite supply chain challenges and interconnection delays, and will continue to grow quickly in coming years.
Community, commercial, and industrial (CCI) installations, at 107 MWh, were higher than any quarter in 2022 but couldn’t keep pace with the huge spike in Q1 installations, resulting in a 53% quarterly decline. However, the segment is still up 25% year-over-year.
Residential storage saw its second-straight quarter of decline at 381.2 MWh, behind Q1’s 388.2 MWh. California saw the biggest decline, decreasing 17% quarter-over-quarter and 37% year-over-year.
Vanessa Witte, senior analyst with Wood Mackenzie’s energy storage team, said, “We still project strong growth for the residential segment in our five-year outlook, reaching a total of 8 GW in 2027. However, the CCI segment continues to fail to meet growth projections and we have downgraded its five-year growth forecast by 28% to 3 GW.”
On Friday, the US Department of Energy (DOE) announced up to $325 million for 15 projects across 17 states and one tribal nation to accelerate the development of long-duration energy storage (LDES) technologies. The DOE has set a goal to reduce the cost of LDES by 90% by 2030.
Photo: Jupiter Power; Graphs: US Energy Storage Monitor Q3 2023 | American Clean Power Association, Wood Mackenzie
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Tesla releases update on Optimus robot with video looking like CGI
Tesla has released an update with progress on its Optimus humanoid robot with a video that almost looks like CGI.
Optimus, also known as Tesla Bot, has not been taken seriously by many outside of the more hardcore Tesla fans, and for good reasons.
When it was first announced, it seemed to be a half-baked idea from CEO Elon Musk with a dancer disguised as a robot for visual aid. It also didn’t help that the demo at Tesla AI Day last year was less than impressive.
At the time, Tesla had a very early prototype that didn’t look like much. It was barely able to walk around and wave at the crowd. That was about it.
But we did note that the project was gaining credibility with the latest update at Tesla’s 2023 shareholders meeting earlier this year.
At the time, Tesla showed several more prototypes that all looked more advanced and started to perform actually useful tasks.
Tesla has now released a new update on Optimus with a video showcasing the ability of the robot to sort objects autonomously:
Like the latest versions of Full Self-Driving, Tesla also notes that Optimus is now being trained with neural nets end-to-end.
The video shows that Tesla is again making progress with the Tesla bot, which looks more refined in this update. The mechanics look more stable with a prototype balancing on one foot.
The video even looks CGI at times, but everything points to Tesla actually having those working prototypes around its offices.
In a previous update on Optimus, Tesla CEO Elon Musk claimed that the “Optimus stuff is extremely underrated.” The CEO said that the demand could be as high as 10 to 20 billion units.
He went as far as “confidently predicting” that Optimus will account for “a majority of Tesla’s long-term value.”
There’s no clear timeline for bringing the product to market, but Tesla is expected to first use it in its own operations.
Quick Charge Podcast: September 23, 2023
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