EV, Battery & Charging News: Nikola, Lion Electric, ENTEK, DocGo, FreeWire, Volta, Piedmont Lithium & MAHLE

In electric vehicle, battery and charging news are Nikola, Lion Electric, ENTEK, DocGo, FreeWire, Volta, Piedmont Lithium and MAHLE.

Nikola Truck Production Starts

Nikola Corporation (Nasdaq: NKLA), a global leader in zero-emissions transportation solutions, marked the beginning of its commercial serial truck production of the Nikola Tre BEV (battery-electric vehicle), with a special ceremony April 27 in Coolidge, Arizona. The event featured remarks from Nikola executives and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey and was attended by fleet customers, government officials, and Phoenix business leaders.

Lion Electric Works with DOE for V2X with V2G & Infrastructure Funding Grants

Lion Electric Company a leading manufacturer of all-electric medium and heavy-duty vehicles, has announced that the company has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), aimed at accelerating the development and deployment of vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technologies. Lion was the only school bus manufacturer selected by the DOE to sign onto the agreement.

Under the MOU, Lion will collaborate with over a dozen industry leaders including utilities, OEMs, government agencies, industry labor organizations and the DOE to collaboratively explore the development and integration of bidirectional electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure into the nation’s energy grid. The MOU will also focus on the development of cybersecurity related to the deployment of V2X technologies, including vehicle-to-grid (V2G), vehicle-to-building (V2B) and vehicle-to-load (V2L) functionalities.

With their large energy storage capacity, heavy-duty electric vehicles have the potential to function as distributed storage on the energy grid – which is likely to become increasingly important as energy sectors around the world transition to renewable energy sources. V2G and V2X technologies promote grid resiliency by reducing the strain on the grid when renewable energy production is at its peak, with the potential to export this energy back when production decreases – ultimately reducing reliance on fossil fuels and promoting domestic energy independence.

Lion’s current lineup of all-electric heavy-duty trucks and buses are V2G ready, and Lion is actively participating in pioneering V2G programs in North America, including projects in New York and California where Lion’s all-electric school buses have successfully exported energy back to the grid. V2G gives operators the potential to further lower their total cost of ownership by charging when demand and electricity prices are low, and exporting energy back to the grid during peak demand when prices are higher.

Lion Electric a leading manufacturer of all-electric medium and heavy-duty vehicles, announced that the company is preparing to assist customers in securing funding under the first $500 million tranche of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency  (“EPA”)’s $5 billion Clean School Bus Program.

As part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the U.S. Federal Government has dedicated $5 billion in funding to deploy zero-emission and clean school buses over the next five years, which will help to bring healthy commutes to students around the country, especially in underserved communities which have historically had disproportionately poor air quality. School districts will also benefit from the reduced energy and maintenance costs that all-electric school buses have to offer.

Details of the program were recently announced, and priority districts can receive up to $375,000 per bus in funding, which can represent up to 100% of an all-electric school bus price, while other eligible districts can receive up to $250,000 per bus, thus largely aligning the price of an electric bus to that of a conventional internal combustion engine vehicle. EnergyStar certified charging infrastructure is also eligible for funding, which LionEnergy can also help customers to secure and install. A list of priority districts will be released by the EPA in early May.

ENTEK Expands Production of Lithium-Ion Separators

ENTEK has committed to the transformational expansion of its US lithium-ion battery separator footprint at a scale and a pace to meet the US Department of Energy imperative for a sustainable and resilient domestic US lithium battery supply chain. By 2025, ENTEK will have completed its first major expansion of lithium-ion separator production in the US with continued expansion through 2027 totaling 1.4 billion square meters of annual production. When complete, this initial expansion will produce enough separator material to power 1.4 million electric vehicles.

ENTEK enjoys more than two decades of experience as the only US owned and US based producer of ‘wet-process’ lithium-ion battery separator materials, and continues to invest in the future of the lithium battery industry. ENTEK’s strategic US investments in lithium-ion battery separators begins with the installation of 50 million m2 of additional ceramic coating capacity at its new facility in Henderson, Nevada, scheduled to be commissioned in the first half of 2023 to support current base film production.

ENTEK is excited to share that it has secured a contract with Brückner Maschinenbau to provide the biaxial stretching equipment and technology critical to the production of lithium-ion separators to meet the strict technical requirements of xEV battery producers. Brückner Maschinenbau is the world leader for biaxial stretching equipment. This partnership will ensure market ready, high quality battery separator film to support early and exponential growth in US lithium-ion battery manufacturing.

ENTEK’s investment commitment includes the construction of two separate, giga-scale xEV lithium-ion battery separator operations. Site selection and appraisal is at an advanced stage and will be located regionally to support battery producers.

The two giga-scale lithium-ion battery separator operations will be primarily powered by available renewable energy with a focus on a reduced carbon footprint and will benefit from ENTEK’s pioneering use of environmentally sustainable processing techniques, unlike the methylene chloride extraction systems used by lithium battery separator producers in China, Korea, Japan and Europe.

DoGo First E-Ambulance at Jefferson Health

DocGo, a leading provider of last-mile mobile health services and integrated medical transportation solutions (Nasdaq: DCGO), and Jefferson Health, which provides a range of primary to highly specialized care through 18 hospitals, more than 50 outpatient and urgent care locations and more, announced that they have partnered to transport the first patient in DocGo’s all-electric, zero-emissions ambulance – the first vehicle of its kind to be registered in the U.S.

On April 26, 2022, the patient will be transported from Jefferson Abington Hospital in Abington, Pa. to a local skilled nursing facility. Significantly more eco-friendly than its counterpart, the electric vehicle is 1/10th as polluting as a standard gasoline ambulance.

“As we transport this patient in America’s first all-electric ambulance, we want to thank the team at Jefferson Health for helping make this a reality,” said DocGo President Anthony Capone. “This transport represents a significant milestone for the sustainability movement and the healthcare industry. Looking ahead, we are excited to continue working towards a better, more sustainable future for patients, healthcare providers and the planet.”

Through its “Zero Emission” initiative, DocGo aims to have an all-electric fleet by 2032. As the first vehicle in this fleet, the new all-electric ambulance will immediately begin transporting patients regularly.

FreeWire Raises Capital

-FreeWire Technologies Inc. (“FreeWire” or “the Company”), a leader in ultrafast electric vehicle (EV) charging and energy management solutions, today announced it has raised $125 million in new capital. The financing consists of a Senior Convertible Note provided exclusively by funds and accounts managed by BlackRock Financial Management, Inc. and a concurrent equity raise with institutional and strategic investors such as bp ventures, Riverstone Holdings, Octave Ventures, Gly Capital Management, Blue Bear Capital, and Daishin Private Equity amongst others.

The new capital will be used to support FreeWire’s ambitious growth plans as the Company accelerates commercial deployments of its battery-integrated ultrafast EV charging technology and increases manufacturing capacity to meet growing global customer demand, including high priority markets such as the UK, Canada, Japan and Australia/New Zealand. Proceeds will also be used to expand the Company’s talent pool and invest in R&D to drive continued innovation of its product roadmap and unique energy management platform.

“BlackRock’s investment in FreeWire Technologies underscores our confidence in the company’s innovative product suite and its ability to accelerate EV adoption while mitigating the strain on the electric grid,” said Steven Karpel, Managing Director, Fundamental Fixed Income at BlackRock.

FreeWire recently broke ground on a new 66,000-square-foot R&D facility in Newark, California to develop and manufacture new ultrafast charging and energy storage product offerings. Construction of the facility is underway and will be fully operational by Summer 2022, putting FreeWire at the center of the San Francisco Bay Area’s transportation technology hub.

FreeWire’s proprietary battery-integrated charging technology, Boost ChargerTM, solves grid constraints by packaging charging infrastructure, grid infrastructure, and energy storage into a fully-integrated compact solution. In addition to its hardware offering, FreeWire is also evolving its software platform, which is expected to result in multiple, recurring high-margin revenue streams over the medium- and longer-term. In 2022, the company expects to roll out AMP Pro, which will provide distributed energy management services that unlock the inherent value of the battery system through load shifting, demand charge management, resiliency, and more, followed by Charging as a Service in 2023. FreeWire’s long-term objective is to offer a turnkey retail energy service, whereby it owns, manages, and optimizes the customer’s utility meter and bill to unlock opportunities to further monetize its integrated battery system.

“The most significant barrier to mass EV adoption is the electric grid, which simply can’t meet the power demand required for ultrafast charging to sustainably and cost-effectively electrify our transportation system,” said Arcady Sosinov, Founder and CEO of FreeWire Technologies. “FreeWire’s fully-integrated Boost Charger breaks down this barrier by combining battery technology, power conversion technology, and software to enable utilities, retailers, fleets, and site-owners across the U.S. to scale up ultrafast EV charging quickly without requiring expensive and time-consuming utility upgrades. In addition to lowering total operating costs, FreeWire’s integrated battery enables distributed energy services that would otherwise not have existed.”

Sosinov continued, “We are excited about the opportunity to scale up our differentiated business and technology with the proceeds from this funding round.”

Chargers paired with energy storage will optimize low-cost renewable energy sources and provide additional grid resiliency, allowing EVs to recharge and support critical facilities when power is out. FreeWire’s integrated system enables its customers to deploy ultrafast charging and power solutions more quickly – all while easing the strain on the electric grid, with the potential to unlock an entirely new category of distributed energy services.

FreeWire has installed nearly 5 MWh of energy storage capacity through battery-integrated charging to date, with over 30 MWh booked. FreeWire aims to deploy over 5,000 ultrafast battery-integrated chargers by 2025.

Citigroup served as sole private placement advisor and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati served as FreeWire’s legal advisor on the transactions.

CHG CFP for Plastics

Asahi Kasei, a diversified Japanese multinational company, has established a platform (the Platform) jointly with NTT DATA Corp. to grasp the amount of GHG emissions and calculate the carbon footprint of products (CFP)* for each grade of performance plastics used as molding material for automotive parts, consumer electronics, etc. The applicable performance plastic products are Leona™, Tenac™, Tenac-C™, Xyron™, and Thermylene®. Use of the Platform began in April 2022, and CFP data provision to customers will begin in May 2022.

The Asahi Kasei Group made efforts to strengthen the business platform for sustainable growth from the viewpoint of Green, Digital, and People in its previous medium-term management plan, Cs+ for Tomorrow 2021. In its new medium-term management plan, announced on April 11, 2022, Green Transformation is positioned as one of the key areas for strengthening the management foundation, and Asahi Kasei is advancing reductions of its own GHG emissions as well as contributions to reducing the world’s GHG emissions for the realization of carbon neutrality. Therefore, from the perspective of GHG emissions reduction, Asahi Kasei has sequentially advanced the calculation of CFP for each product starting with the main products, and information provision to certain customers has begun.

Leona™, Tenac™, Tenac-C™, Xyron™, and Thermylene® are performance plastic products widely used as material for automotive structural parts, electrical equipment, consumer electronics, etc., featuring superior characteristics such as strength, lubricity, flame retardance, etc. Asahi Kasei’s performance plastics business has more than ten each of manufacturing sites and sales sites worldwide, and it provides products and technical service to customers around the world. As the supply chain is complex, involving various sites, it was difficult to promptly obtain detailed management information such as budgets, actual results, and forecasts, as well as CFP for each final product in an integrated format from production to sale.

With the growing awareness for the global environment and sustainability, industry-wide initiatives have arisen in addition to efforts within individual companies. For Asahi Kasei’s performance materials business, in addition to advancing decarbonization through business operations and procurement, there are calls to provide CFP information for each product to customers downstream in the supply chain for the promotion of decarbonization across the supply chain. The Platform was established to meet these expectations.

Outline of the Platform
Asahi Kasei and NTT Data jointly established a platform enabling Asahi Kasei’s performance materials business to grasp comprehensive management information globally in fiscal 2020. The Platform was expanded to grasp CFP.

Characteristic 1: Inclusion of GHG emissions from procurement and transportation to outsourced processing, in-house manufacturing, and shipment
The CFP of each material procured from upstream suppliers is added to the GHG emissions calculated proportionally in outsourced processing and in-house manufacturing processes, enabling visualization of CFP inclusive of the supply chain from upstream to manufacturing and shipment. (For calculating CFP of materials, LCI database “IDEAv2.3” provided by National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) is used.)

Characteristic 2: Monthly calculation of CFP for each final product is possible even with complex supply chain
The performance plastic products supply chain is a complex one, with many different product grades, manufacturing sites spread around the world, and numerous production process steps. In order to cover the complex supply chain, “Anaplan” planning and analysis tool featuring high-speed mathematical processing was introduced. Grasping monthly CFP for each product is enabled by inputting various data on materials and production sites into Anaplan.

Characteristic 3: Dual analysis of cost and CFP achieved by combining with management information
As the Platform was created by expanding an existing management information platform, combined analysis of cost and CFP from various perspectives, such as by final product or by customer, is enabled. As these analyses are visualized using the business intelligence (BI) tool “Tableau,” not only CFP reduction but also proposals emphasizing the balance of cost and CFP can be made to customers.

Moving forward, Asahi Kasei will consider the optimal CFP calculation system and the way of disclosure corresponding to the characteristics of each product. Asahi Kasei aims for the achievement of a carbon neutral sustainable world by contributing to solutions for various challenges in society through its businesses.

Bryan Thomas Joins Mobility House

The Mobility House announced the addition of Bryan Thomas to the company’s growing team through the acquisition of Charge Theory, a provider of managed electric fleet charging services at a guaranteed price-per-mile. The combination of The Mobility House’s decade-plus experience with smart charging worldwide and Charge Theory’s pioneering Charging as a Service (CaaS) model creates a complete, world-class turnkey charging solution for electrifying fleets – from school and transit buses to last-mile delivery.

Thomas will lead Business Model Innovation in the U.S. ​​to develop products, services and partnerships that address the financial and operational hurdles fleet operators encounter in their electric vehicle transition.

The Mobility House can now provide the installation and operation of all necessary charging equipment and infrastructure to support an electric fleet’s operation with guaranteed uptime of the charging system, with no upfront cost. Charging as a Service from The Mobility House turns a multimillion dollar investment in charging infrastructure into a pennies per mile driven fee, and most importantly, avoids the hassle of managing charging equipment installation or operation. For example, a global logistics fleet’s $1.7M dollar charging infrastructure investment becomes a <$0.10 fee for each mile driven.

Volta Partners with Michigan OFME & DTE

Volta Inc. (NYSE: VLTA), an industry-leading electric vehicle (“EV”) charging network powering vehicles and commerce, today announced its paid partnership with the Michigan Office of Future Mobility and Electrification (OFME) and DTE Energy (DTE). This marks Volta’s sixth agreement with an investor-owned electric power utility and second with a state agency in support of equitable, efficient, and accelerated deployment of EV charging infrastructure.

Michigan’s OFME and DTE are funding the use of Volta’s PredictEV® software product to identify locations that would be most utilized within underserved areas, ensuring the most efficient use of public investment. PredictEV analyzes disparate data sources, including local mobility, demographic, commercial, and site-specific data, to provide high-resolution answers to key EV infrastructure questions. Insights provided by PredictEV include expected EV adoption, optimal charging locations, the right mix of charging infrastructure, and corresponding societal benefits such as CO2 mitigation, air quality improvement, and improved health outcomes.

“The transition to electric mobility should benefit everyone. This program is squarely targeted at improving equitable access to EV charging infrastructure in Michigan, and it leverages the unique strengths of DTE, Volta, and the State of Michigan, together,” said Drew Bennett, Executive Vice President of Network Operations at Volta. “We are proud to partner with the OFME to bring more Volta stations to Michigan in areas where they will make the most impact.”

With the support of the OFME’s Michigan Mobility Funding Platform, Volta and DTE will install EV charging stations within lower-income and environmental justice communities. DTE will use the Volta Media™ Network to educate consumers on EV benefits and available incentives that make owning an EV more affordable upon installing the charging stations. This proactive messaging encourages the switch to EVs, accelerating the health, safety, and economic benefits electric mobility brings to an area.

In 2021, Volta and Southern California Edison (SCE) collaborated to distribute a similar EV awareness campaign in underserved communities. The impact was a 72 percent increase in driving or owning an EV in the targeted regions.

“Our mobility ecosystems are most effective when they can provide real value and opportunity within all of Michigan’s communities, regardless of the size or income of the area,” said Trevor Pawl, Chief Mobility Officer with the OFME. “We are pleased to support Volta and DTE as they work jointly to improve the accessibility and equity of our EV charging locations. This is a key step to ensuring wide-scale EV ecosystem adoption across the state.”

“Our partnership with Volta supports cleaner transportation solutions where we live and serve,” said Tony Tomczak, Vice President of Electric Sales and Marketing, DTE. “This initiative is one of the many ways DTE is working with our state agencies to promote transportation electrification for all.”

Along with DTE, Volta’s utility partners include SCE, Southern Company (which operates Georgia Power, Alabama Power, and Mississippi Power), and Tucson Electric Power. These utilities collectively serve an estimated 32 million Americans and cover areas that, as forecasted by Volta’s PredictEV product, will witness more than an 800% increase in EV adoption by 2030—a shift that would avoid nearly 10 million metric tons of CO2 emissions.

Piedmont Lithium Reports Lithium in Quebec

Piedmont Lithium Inc. (“Piedmont”) (Nasdaq: PLL; ASX: PLL), a leading, diversified developer of lithium resources required to enable the U.S. electric vehicle supply chain, today announced that Piedmont’s partner, Sayona Mining Limited (ASX: SYA), recently reported the discovery of a new southern lithium pegmatite zone at the Moblan Lithium Project in Québec. Assay results from two holes at the newly defined Moblan South Discovery have identified lithium mineralization at shallow depth, approximately 200m south of the main Moblan deposit. Results include 5m @ 1.85% Li2O from 3.5m and 35m @ 1.62% Li2O from 27.6m in hole DDH135 as well as 6.6m @ 1.69% Li2O from 2.1m and 27.2m @ 1.53% Li2O from 22.0m in hole DDH136. Additional drill hole results are pending.

Piedmont holds an equity interest of approximately 16.5% in Sayona Mining.

 

MAHLE Aftermarket will use the charging plug in addition to the existing OBD port for battery diagnostics of electric vehicles in the future. To this end, the service and spare parts division of the Stuttgart-based automotive supplier is collaborating with volytica diagnostics, a software developer based in Dresden. It evaluates the measured data in the cloud and provides valuable information about the state of the electric vehicle battery. In this way, projections can be made of, for example, necessary repairs. Since the start of 2022 the new diagnostics solution for passenger cars has been tested in practice together with TÜV NORD Mobilität and a well-known European fleet operator. It is expected to be available from MAHLE by the end of 2022. In the next phase, both partners want to offer the battery diagnostics for battery electric trucks and buses.

“In terms of workshop equipment, we have massively accelerated our innovation rate. Now we are making the battery a fully predictable variable and thus creating future security for independent workshops in the mobility transition,” said Olaf Henning, member of the MAHLE Management Committee and head of the Aftermarket business unit.

“Inspection agencies, owners, fleet operators, and workshop networks have to date been subjected to a massive lack of transparency when it comes to battery quality and therefore vehicle value. Until now, it has hardly been possible to reliably evaluate battery data and communicate the status quo of their batteries to owners of electric vehicles. This paralyzes the further market ramp-up of e-mobility as well as the decarbonization of the transportation sector. At the same time, such a test must not take long and must be affordable. This is exactly where we come in with our technology,” said Claudius Jehle, CEO of volytica.

A special combination of charger and diagnostic tool is used for diagnostics. In this way, MAHLE can get initial diagnostics on the condition of the vehicle battery via the vehicle’s charging socket within ten minutes. This measurement is carried out independently of the data provided by the vehicle manufacturer via the OBD diagnostics port and is therefore particularly neutral and independent.

Afterwards, the battery data is comprehensively evaluated and interpreted in the volytica cloud and the result is provided to the user. With this new development, MAHLE is opening up new, future-proof business areas beyond the combustion engine for independent workshops. With the MAHLE TechPRO, MAHLE is the first supplier to enable its customers to perform basic battery diagnostics via the OBD port.

With the help of battery diagnostics, up to two million tons of batteries with a value of more than EUR 50 billion can be saved annually from premature discarding and thus, for example, be given a second life. By giving a battery a second life, the battery life can be extended by an average of five years. This is an important aspect, as the Group is clearly committed to the Paris Climate Agreement and is striving to significantly reduce its carbon footprint and to use its products to contribute to environmentally compatible mobility.

 

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