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Electric cars aren’t enough to hit climate targets: we need to develop better public transport too

Electric cars aren’t enough to hit climate targets: we need to develop better public transport too

Transport is responsible for 24% of energy-related carbon emissions worldwide. Half of those emissions are from carrying goods and services, and the other half are from carrying people from A to B – also known as “passenger transport”.

Passenger transport has a huge impact on our surroundings, and it’s one of the biggest factors in determining where we live and work. It can be bumper-to-bumper LA traffic, bike-filled Danish cities, Japanese bullet trains, buzzing Vietnamese mopeds, taxi ranks lined with India’s famous three-wheeled rickshaws, or bustling London subways.

Introducing electric vehicles (EVs) on a massive scale has often been framed as the solution to reducing passenger transport emissions – witness the UK’s plans for all new homes and upgraded buildings to have EV charging points from 2022.

However, recent research from the US has shown that the electrification of cars alone will not be enough for the transport sector to reach ambitious global climate action targets aiming to prevent more than 2 °C of global warming.

In addition, a population that continues to depend on cars poses significant problems for growing cities. With urbanisation on the rise and space at a premium, we must reduce car ownership in cities if we are to keep them as affordable and accessible as possible. Huge amounts of land which could otherwise be used to house people or be dedicated to nature are still reserved for roads and car parks.

Although EVs certainly help address increasing transport emissions, simply focusing on replacing conventional cars with EVs is a missed opportunity for countries to develop alternative means of transport beyond car dependency.

A person drives a rickshaw
Many Indian cities are famous for using three-wheeled rickshaws as a popular transport method. Adam Cohn/FlickrCC BY-NC-SA

Climate action funds – including the Adaptation Fund, a UN-backed international fund helping developing countries to adapt to climate change – are projected to reach £74 billion of funding by 2023. Much of this money is channelled towards sustainable infrastructure projects, which could help developing countries to build efficient and sustainable mass-transit systems.

The UN’s intergovernmental panel on climate change advocates for an approach to passenger transport planning called “Avoid, Shift, Improve”, which is adapted from a framework first developed in Germany in the early 1990s:


“Avoid” refers to reducing the need for transport in the first place. This involves planning new urban areas and redeveloping old ones to be as well organised as possible, so people will not have to travel far for their working, shopping, education and recreational needs. While years of investment into roads have made it very difficult for some cities to move away from car use, the future is still unwritten for many of our growing cities.

Xinzhuang Flyover in Nanjing, China
Many cities have been designed with widespread car ownership in mind, but newer cities don’t have to follow this pattern. Damian188/Wikimedia

This approach also involves connecting homes and rural towns to the internet so that people can easily and cheaply work from home, leaving road space free for people – like doctors or teachers – who cannot.


“Shift” means switching necessary travel to more sustainable, active and higher-occupancy modes of transport. Instead of single-occupancy cars, for example, we can use buses, trains, bikes, scooters, skateboards or walking paths. Across the world, we can see exciting examples of how countries have managed to make this shift away from carbon-intensive car dependency.

The TransMilenio bus system, operating in the cities of Bogotá and Soacha in Colombia, is one of the largest of its kind in the world. Transporting between one and two million people daily, its broad range of stops, dedicated bus lanes, and affordable ticketing stations create an easily accessible service.

Increasing the uptake of active modes of travel is another way to encourage this shift. E-bikes are among the fastest growing types of transport in China. The motor-assisted travel encourages cycling longer journeys in hilly areas, warmer areas and among people who are less fit. Studies from Sweden and Norway show that cyclists who switch from conventional bikes to e-bikes increase their number of journeys and the distances they travel on average for each journey.

A red and yellow bus on a road
The TransMilenio bus service has been widely recognised as a shining example of sustainable mass transit. Felipe Restrepo Acosta/Wikimedia

Recently, residents of Berlin voted to expand car restrictions in the German city to cover 88 sq km of the city – a proposal which would create the world’s largest car-free urban zone. Actions like these can address the safety concerns of pedestrians and cyclists, who fear navigating alongside fast-moving, heavy vehicles, by providing segregated active travel routes. Importantly, researchers have noted that without measures to restrict car use, other measures to encourage the uptake of public transport, walking and cycling have little impact.

Once unnecessary travel has been cut from things like poor urban planning and employer policies requiring workers’ presence in offices, and once safe public transport systems or active travel options have been provided, we can focus on making the vehicles we currently have more sustainable.


Although fuel efficiency has slightly reduced the fuel consumption per kilometre of car transport, passenger transport demand continues to grow – meaning that overall, increased emissions from passenger transport outstrip efficiency reductions. As a result, the “improve” part of the UN’s framework involves switching bus, rail and car transport from fossil fuels to electric.

The key to reducing passenger transport emissions is enabling access to and use of electric cars only where there are no other reasonable travel options. If we do this, we have a chance to end car dependency while still helping as many people as possible to travel.


Vera O’Riordan at The Conversation

England will be first country to require new homes to include EV chargers

England will be first country to require new homes to include EV chargers

The British government has introduced legislation that will require all newly built homes and offices to feature electric vehicle chargers in England.

November 22 update: “New homes and buildings such as supermarkets and workplaces, as well as those undergoing major renovation, will be required to install electric vehicle charge points from next year, under new legislation announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson today,” according to the UK government website.

Up to 145,000 extra charge points will be installed across England each year thanks to these regulations, in the run up to 2030 when the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will end in the UK. This builds on the over 250,000 home and workplace charge points the government has already supported to date.

Home and EV chargers in England

Specifically, all new homes and offices will have to feature “smart” charging devices that can automatically charge vehicles during off-peak periods. New office blocks will need to install a charge point for every five parking spaces.

The new law will make England the first country in the world to require all new homes to have EV chargers.

It will also boost confidence in helping those who transition from gas cars to overcome range anxiety, as so many homes in England don’t have off-street parking or garages.

The proposal is part of the movement to rapidly boost the number of chargers across England ahead of the UK’s 2030 ban of new fossil-fuel vehicles. The government originally announced a proposal to mandate that all new homes have a charge point with a parking space in 2019, as Electrek then reported.

Nigel Pocklington, CEO of clean energy company Good Energy, said [via Business Green]:

Flexible charging at home and at workplace during the day is going to be crucial to decarbonizing not just transport but the UK’s entire energy system.

As will better energy efficiency, electrified heating and solar power on 13.5 million homes – we hope to see all these as part of the plans for new homes, too.

The home and office EV charger mandate is expected to start in 2022.

Further, the UK government announced a free app called EV8 Switch yesterday, on World EV Day:

It calculates how much money UK drivers could save by switching to an EV compared to their current petrol or diesel vehicle, along with details on the carbon dioxide (CO2) savings and air quality improvements they could achieve.

Drivers can also see which electric vehicles would be the most suitable for them based on their current vehicle and how switching to electric could fit in with their current lifestyle. Those with the app can also see how close their nearest charge points are, and which journeys can be completed without the need to top up en route.


Michelle Lewis at Electrek

Taiwan’s Foxconn shows off three electric vehicle prototypes

Taiwan’s Foxconn shows off three electric vehicle prototypes

Taiwan tech giant Foxconn unveiled its first three electric vehicle prototypes on Monday, underscoring ambitious plans to diversify away from its role of building consumer electronics for Apple Inc and other tech firms.

The vehicles – an SUV, a sedan and a bus – were made by Foxtron, a joint venture between Foxconn and Taiwanese car maker Yulon Motor Co Ltd.

Foxtron Vice Chairman Tso Chi-sen told reporters that electric vehicles would be worth a trillion Taiwan dollars to Foxconn in five years time – a figure equivalent to around $35 billion.

Foxconn, formally called Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, aims become a major player in the global EV market and has clinched deals with U.S. startup Fisker Inc and Thailand’s energy group PTT PCL. read more

“Hon Hai is ready and no longer the new kid in town,” Foxconn Chairman Liu Young-way told the event timed to mark the birthday of the company’s billionaire founder Terry Gou.

Gou drove the sedan, which was jointly developed with Italian design firm Pininfarina, onto the stage to the tune of “Happy Birthday”.

The sedan will be sold by an unspecified carmaker outside Taiwan in the coming years, while the SUV will be sold under one of Yulon’s brands and is scheduled to hit the market in Taiwan in 2023.


Image 1 of 3

Foxconn Chairman Liu Young-way poses next to a Foxtron Model C electric vehicle (EV) unveiled at a Foxconn event in Taipei, Taiwan October 18, 2021. REUTERS/Fabian Hamacher

The bus, which will carry a Foxtron badge, will start running in several cities in southern Taiwan next year in a partnership with a local transportation service provider.

Foxconn this month bought a factory from U.S. startup Lordstown Motors Corp to make electric cars. In August it bought a chip plant in Taiwan in a move to supply future demand for auto chips.

Foxconn has also set a target to provide components or services for 10% of the world’s EVs by between 2025 and 2027.

($1 = 27.9880 Taiwan dollars)


Yimou Lee via Reuters

Ford jolts auto industry with $11.4 billion investment in new electric vehicle, battery plants

Ford jolts auto industry with $11.4 billion investment in new electric vehicle, battery plants

“We’re on the cusp of a revolution,” Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford tells NBC Nightly News.

The Ford Motor Co. gave the auto industry a jolt Monday with word that it plans to spend $11.4 billion on new production sites in Tennessee and Kentucky where it plans to build electric pickup trucks and cars — and the batteries to power them — on a massive scale.

It will also create 11,000 jobs in the two states that have struggled to recover from the collapse of the coal industry.

The audacity of Ford’s massive investment in electric vehicles was not lost on Ford Executive Chair Bill Ford.

“If my great-grandfather saw our industry five years ago, it would be very recognizable to him, it hadn’t changed a lot,” he said of the Ford founder, Henry Ford, in an interview with Tom Costello on “NBC Nightly News.”

Ford’s Cologne, Germany manufacturing plant, currently undergoing a $1Billion renovation, is expected to begin producing EVs in 2023

“There were a lot of evolutions, but no revolutions. Now we’re on the cusp of a revolution. It’s not just the electrification, although that’s a huge piece of it.”

It’s also a chance, Ford said in a statement, to “achieve goals once thought mutually exclusive — protect our planet, build great electric vehicles Americans will love, and contribute to our nation’s prosperity.”

Of those new jobs, 6,000 are destined for what’s being called the Blue Oval City campus in Stanton, Tennessee, a $5.6 billion megacampus where electric versions of the popular F-series pickup truck will be manufactured, along with electric batteries.

This new assembly plant “is designed to be carbon neutral with zero waste-to-landfill once fully operational,” Ford said in a statement.

Ford F-150 Lightning 

“This is a watershed moment for Tennesseans as we lead the future of the automotive industry and advanced manufacturing,” Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, said.

The remaining 5,000 new jobs are heading to Glendale, Kentucky, and the $5.8 billion BlueOvalSK Battery Park, where batteries to power the “next-generation electric Ford and Lincoln vehicles” will be manufactured at two sites on the campus starting in 2025.

“This is the single largest investment in the history of our state,” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, said. “Never again will we be thought of as a flyover state. Our time is now. Our future is now.”

Ford said the United States doesn’t have a big battery manufacturing industry, and there was a reason why his company decided to establish a “beachhead” in two states where coal was once king.

“The one thing that also attracted us to both Tennessee and Kentucky is the workforce,” he said. “They both have really good workforces and are willing to be trained to do these jobs and that was a big consideration.”

Tennessee and Kentucky are so-called right to work states where workers aren’t required to join unions as a condition of employment.

The company is also setting aside another $525 million to train the technicians across the country who will work to service its new fleet of electric-powered vehicles. Of that training money, $90 million will be spent in Texas alone.

Artist’s rendering of Ford’s BlueOval Battery Park

Ford projected that by 2030, some 40 percent of his company’s vehicles will be electric. He vowed to make believers out of the skeptics who fear a switch to electric from internal combustion engines means sacrificing power.

“I actually don’t think it’ll be that hard once, once they see what these vehicles can do,” Ford said. “For instance, they’re faster than lightning, so to speak off the line, they’re very quick, faster than anything else that’s out there.”

The new battery-powered Ford Mustang Mach-E, which can go from zero to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, is going to be road-tested by the Michigan State Police, he said.

Also, Ford said, there are some things an electric vehicle can do that a gas-powered ride can’t do.

“For instance, it can be a backup generator for your house,” he said. “If you lose power, you plug your house into your (F-150) Lightning and you can power your house up to three days. Also, it can be a portable generator at worksite.”

When Ford was asked what his great-grandfather would think of “your new Model T for the 21st Century.”

“I think he’d say, ‘What took you so long?’” Ford replied.


Corky Siemaszko at NBC News

Four ways Extreme E is leaving a positive legacy in Greenland

Four ways Extreme E is leaving a positive legacy in Greenland

Ahead of the racing action getting underway in Greenland this weekend (28-29 August), Extreme E has continued its efforts in scientific education and local community Legacy Programmes.

Earlier in the week members of the championship’s Scientific Committee, Professors Peter Wadhams, Carlos Duarte and Richard Washington led an expedition to the retreating ice cap to explain to the series’ world-class drivers the devastation the climate crisis is having on this area and the solutions we can all take to limit further damage. Not only that, the drivers also took samples from the ice cap to support Professor Peter Wadhams’ research.

Sara Price, driver for Chip Ganassi Racing said: “Being on the ice cap was an adventure of a lifetime, to say the least. It was very cold up there and it actually ended up raining while we were there, which is an unfortunate occurrence. Rainfall is only a recent thing on the ice cap, and it’s very abnormal because it should be snowing up there. The fact that it’s raining is a bad sign for the ice cap and has led to increased melting and a lot of running water. We got to witness that firsthand.

“It was wild to say the least to see it right in front of us; the ice breaking off, the pollution, and the glacier itself melting at a fast rate and causing rivers and ravines and an overall crazy environment. Its rivers of glacier water are melting fast and causing powerful consequences. It was something to see, that’s for sure, and definitely made it even more real in our eyes, that global climate change is a real thing.”

In every location Extreme E races in, its goal is to work with local community groups to leave a positive, lasting legacy behind, based on specific local needs.

One of the main Legacy Programmes in Greenland is centred around education and supporting local schools. Extreme E has partnered with UNICEF to develop – with support from Professor Richard Washington – educational resources to further the understanding of both teachers and children on climate related issues and the ways in which they can help to address them. These will be taught to the children of Greenland starting from Climate Week in September 2021.

Maliina Abelsen, Head of Programmes, UNICEF Greenland said: “At UNICEF, we know that climate and environmental shocks are undermining the complete spectrum of children’s rights – from access to clean air, food and safe water; to education, housing, freedom from exploitation, and even their right to survive. Virtually no child’s life will be unaffected.

“Over the years, children and young people have shown us that their incredible knowledge and strength by promoting environmentally sustainable lifestyles and setting an example for their communities. Through education programmes, such as this one, we hope that children and young people can take further leadership in addressing climate-related risks.”

In addition, XITE ENERGY RACING Founder, driver and sustainability pioneer Oliver Bennett, along with eco-smart technology business myenergi, and with the support of Extreme E, has installed a revolutionary solar power set-up. The school is now home to a 5kW ground-mounted solar array with an accompanying 5.2kWh battery storage system, which means the education hub will now run on solar power.  

Headteacher Susanne Andersen said: “XITE ENERGY RACING’s solar system will introduce renewable energy to our school. It is not just important that we fight climate change here in Greenland but also to teach our pupils about it. I am happy that our students can follow the solar panel energy production on a day-to-day basis.”

It’s not just the drivers having all the racing fun though, Extreme E has worked with The Danish Automobile Sports Federation (DASU), the municipality of Qeqqata and Kalaanni Teknikkimik Ilinniarfik (KTI, the vocational School of Greenland) to present an interdisciplinary project to provide electric go-karts, which were presented to the students this week by legendary drivers Sébastien Loeb, Cristina Gutiérrez, Emma Gilmour, Stéphane Sarrazin and Oliver Bennett.

The purpose of the project is to create a fun and exciting interdisciplinary teaching-programme while sparking Greenlandic youth interest in electric vehicles with the wider purpose of getting more students into vocational education and being able to handle the many EVs in Greenland.

The interdisciplinary teaching-programme uses the fun and motivation from motorsport to focus on Sustainable Development Goals, mathematics, science and sports to achieve these ambitions. The programme has had success for three years in Denmark and an adjusted version will tour Greenland for the years to come.  

Torben Nielsen, Chairman of Tech College Greenland said: “We see more and more EVs in Greenland, now also in Kangerlussuaq. Tech College Greenland hopes that with the help of Extreme E and DASU, it can attract young people to become EV mechanics.”

The Arctic X Prix racing action gets underway today with Free Practice, followed by Qualifying on Saturday and Semi-Finals and Final on Sunday. A host of global broadcasters alongside Extreme E’s own channels will be airing all the racing. To find out more click here.


Extreme E

Electric cars and batteries: how will the world produce enough?

Electric cars and batteries: how will the world produce enough?

Reducing the use of scarce metals — and recycling them — will be key to the world’s transition to electric vehicles.

The age of the electric car is upon us. Earlier this year, the US automobile giant General Motors announced that it aims to stop selling petrol-powered and diesel models by 2035. Audi, based in Germany, plans to stop producing such vehicles by 2033. Many other automotive multinationals have issued similar road maps. Suddenly, major carmakers’ foot-dragging on electrifying their fleets is turning into a rush for the exit.

The electrification of personal mobility is picking up speed in a way that even its most ardent proponents might not have dreamt of just a few years ago. In many countries, government mandates will accelerate change. But even without new policies or regulations, half of global passenger-vehicle sales in 2035 will be electric, according to the BloombergNEF (BNEF) consultancy in London.

This massive industrial conversion marks a “shift from a fuel-intensive to a material-intensive energy system”, declared the International Energy Agency (IEA) in May. In the coming decades, hundreds of millions of vehicles will hit the roads, carrying massive batteries inside them (see ‘Going electric’). And each of those batteries will contain tens of kilograms of materials that have yet to be mined.

Anticipating a world dominated by electric vehicles, materials scientists are working on two big challenges. One is how to cut down on the metals in batteries that are scarce, expensive, or problematic because their mining carries harsh environmental and social costs. Another is to improve battery recycling, so that the valuable metals in spent car batteries can be efficiently reused. “Recycling will play a key role in the mix,” says Kwasi Ampofo, a mining engineer who is the lead analyst on metals and mining at BNEF.

Battery- and carmakers are already spending billions of dollars on reducing the costs of manufacturing and recycling electric-vehicle (EV) batteries — spurred in part by government incentives and the expectation of forthcoming regulations. National research funders have also founded centres to study better ways to make and recycle batteries. Because it is still less expensive, in most instances, to mine metals than to recycle them, a key goal is to develop processes to recover valuable metals cheaply enough to compete with freshly mined ones. “The biggest talker is money,” says Jeffrey Spangenberger, a chemical engineer at Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Illinois, who manages a US federally funded lithium-ion battery-recycling initiative, called ReCell.

Lithium future

The first challenge for researchers is to reduce the amounts of metals that need to be mined for EV batteries. Amounts vary depending on the battery type and model of vehicle, but a single car lithium-ion battery pack (of a type known as NMC532) could contain around 8 kg of lithium, 35 kg of nickel, 20 kg of manganese and 14 kg of cobalt, according to figures from Argonne National Laboratory.

Analysts don’t anticipate a move away from lithium-ion batteries any time soon: their cost has plummeted so dramatically that they are likely to be the dominant technology for the foreseeable future. They are now 30 times cheaper than when they first entered the market as small, portable batteries in the early 1990s, even as their performance has improved. BNEF projects that the cost of a lithium-ion EV battery pack will fall below US$100 per kilowatt-hour by 2023, or roughly 20% lower than today (see ‘Plummeting costs of batteries’). As a result, electric cars — which are still more expensive than conventional ones — should reach price parity by the mid-2020s. (By some estimates, electric cars are already cheaper than petrol vehicles over their lifetimes, thanks to being less expensive to power and maintain.)

Salt deposits in a lithium production facility at the Uyuni salt flats in Potosi, Bolivia.Credit: Carlos Becerra/Bloomberg/Getty

Managing metals

To address the issues with raw materials, a number of laboratories have been experimenting with low-cobalt or cobalt-free cathodes. But cathode materials must be carefully designed so that their crystal structures don’t break up, even if more than half the lithium ions are removed during charging. And abandoning cobalt altogether often lowers a battery’s energy density, says materials scientist Arumugam Manthiram at the University of Texas in Austin, because it alters the cathode’s crystal structure and how tightly it can bind lithium.

Manthiram is among the researchers who have solved that problem — at least in the lab — by showing that cobalt can be eliminated from cathodes without compromising performance. “The cobalt-free material we reported has the same crystal structure as lithium cobalt oxide, and therefore the same energy density,” or even better, says Manthiram. His team did this by fine-tuning the way in which cathodes are produced and adding small quantities of other metals — while retaining the cathode’s cobalt-oxide crystal structure. Manthiram says it should be straightforward to adopt this process in existing factories, and has founded a start-up firm called TexPower to try to bring it to market within the next two years. Other labs around the world are working on cobalt-free batteries: in particular, the pioneering EV maker Tesla, based in Palo Alto, California, has said it plans to eliminate the metal from its batteries in the next few years.

Sun Yang-Kook at Hanyang University in Seoul, South Korea, is another materials scientist who has achieved similar performance in cobalt-free cathodes. Sun says that some technical problems might remain in creating the new cathodes, because the process relies on refining nickel-rich ores, which can require expensive pure-oxygen atmospheres. But many researchers now consider the cobalt problem essentially solved. Manthiram and Sun “have shown that you can make really good materials without cobalt and [that] perform really well”, says Jeff Dahn, a chemist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada.

A woman and a man separating cobalt from mud and rocks by a river in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Workers extract cobalt near a mine between Lubumbashi and Kolwezi, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.Credit: Federico Scoppa/AFP/Getty

Recycle better

If batteries are to be made without cobalt, researchers will face an unintended consequence. The metal is the main factor that makes recycling batteries economical, because other materials, especially lithium, are currently cheaper to mine than to recycle.

In a typical recycling plant, batteries are first shredded, which turns cells into a powdered mixture of all the materials used. That mix is then broken down into its elemental constituents, either by liquefying it in a smelter (pyrometallurgy) or by dissolving it in acid (hydrometallurgy). Finally, metals are precipitated out of solution as salts.

An electric car battery module entering a battery shredder with powerful metal teeth
A mechanical shredder grinds up battery modules, here shown at the Duesenfeld recycling plant in Germany.Credit: Wolfram Schroll/Duesenfeld

Research efforts have focused on improving the process to make recycled lithium economically attractive. The vast majority of lithium-ion batteries are produced in China, Japan and South Korea; accordingly, recycling capabilities are growing fastest there. For example, Foshan-based Guangdong Brunp — a subsidiary of CATL, China’s largest maker of lithium-ion cells — can recycle 120,000 tonnes of batteries per year, according to a spokesperson. That’s the equivalent of what would be used in more than 200,000 cars, and the firm is able to recover most of the lithium, cobalt and nickel. Government policies are helping to encourage this: China already has financial and regulatory incentives for battery companies that source materials from recycling firms instead of importing freshly mined ones, says Hans Eric Melin, managing director of Circular Energy Storage, a consulting company in London.

The European Commission has proposed strict battery-recycling requirements which could be phased in from 2023 — although prospects for the bloc to develop a domestic recycling industry are uncertain. The administration of US President Joe Biden, meanwhile, wants to spend billions of dollars to foster a domestic EV battery-manufacturing industry and support recycling, but hasn’t yet proposed regulations beyond existing legislation classing batteries as hazardous waste that must be safely disposed of. Some North American start-up firms say they can already recover the majority of a battery’s metals, including lithium, at costs that are competitive with those of mining them, although analysts say that, at this stage, the overall economics are only advantageous because of the cobalt.

Another report from the IEA, an organization noted for its historically cautious forecasts, included a road map to achieve global net-zero emissions by mid-century, which includes conversion to electric transport as a cornerstone. The confidence that this is achievable reflects a growing consensus among policymakers, researchers and manufacturers that challenges to electrifying cars are now entirely solvable — and that if we want to have any hope of keeping climate change to a manageable level, there is no time to lose.

But some researchers complain that electric vehicles seem to be held to an impossible standard in terms of the environmental impact of their batteries. “It would be unfortunate and counterproductive to discard a good solution by insisting on a perfect solution,” says Kamath. “That does not mean, of course, that we should not work aggressively on the battery disposal question.”


Davide Castelvecchi at Nature

Nyck de Vries and Mercedes-EQ seal Formula E World Championship titles as Nato wins in Berlin

Nyck de Vries and Mercedes-EQ seal Formula E World Championship titles as Nato wins in Berlin

Nyck de Vries navigated a rollercoaster Season 7 finale in Berlin to become ABB FIA Formula E World Drivers’ Champion, as Norman Nato (ROKiT Venturi Racing) steered to a composed maiden victory ahead of Nissan e.dams’ Oliver Rowland and Stoffel Vandoorne, while Mercedes-EQ sealed the Teams’ World Championship.

With 13 drivers in contention heading into the BMW i Berlin E-Prix presented by CBMM Niobium Round 15, and four in with a real strong shout of the title, the scene was set for a frenetic finale, and what we got was peak Formula E.

Right off the line, there was drama and heartbreak as Mitch Evans (Jaguar Racing) – perhaps the favourite given his strong qualifying performance, and that the rest of the contenders sat outside the top 10 – failed to get away. The pack behind was forced into avoiding action but another championship protagonist in Edo Mortara (ROKiT Venturi Racing) couldn’t swerve clear of the stricken Jaguar and a violent crash saw the pair out of the running but thankfully unhurt.

That left Jake Dennis (BMW i Andretti Motorsport) – now seventh – seemingly in prime position with standings leader Nyck de Vries (Mercedes-EQ) down the order. Sensationally, before the field had made the first corner after a spell under the red flag while that start line accident was cleared, we lost another title contender as the Brit locked up into Turn 1 and hit the wall.

The pendulum swung again, with de Vries sitting pretty and Mercedes-EQ looking odds-on to take Teams’ honours with Vandoorne leading the pack away. Through the first round of ATTACK MODE activations, Nato made it count and flew clear having passed Vandoorne on Lap 10 – the Belgian’s late deployment of the 35kW boost leaving him shuffled down the top six.

The scrap for points was fraught, and Mercedes’ haul, with de Vries also in the points and on the way to eighth, was enough to seal the Teams’ title as it stood. A three-wide clash with the Porsches heading into the closing stages almost saw both de Vries and Vandoorne in contact but the pair steered clear and out of real drama.

Nato leapt away and left the rest to it, despite an interruption via a second appearance for the MINI Electric Pacesetter as Antonio Felix da Costa was squeezed by Lucas di Grassi at the hairpin – confirming beyond doubt that the Portuguese would have to relinquish his crown.

The Venturi racer drove on to a composed victory, with Rowland picking his way through to second while Vandoorne came home third. 

Andre Lotterer took the chequered flag fourth ahead of Mahindra Racing’s Alex Sims, Pascal Wehrlein and a resurgent Sam Bird who’d clambered from 22nd to seventh doing his valiant best for Jaguar Racing’s Teams’ World Championship chances – a clear sign that with a bit more luck the Brit could have been right in the title mix this weekend.

De Vries followed battlescarred in eighth, with Rene Rast (Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler) tallying another TAG Heuer Fastest Lap as he soared from 19th to the points.

All that saw de Vries take home the first Formula E Drivers’ World Championship from Mortara and Dennis. Combined with teammate Vandoorne’s podium, that also meant Mercedes-EQ sealed the Teams’ World Championship ahead of Jaguar Racing and DS TECHEETAH.

The World Champion’s reaction

“I’m lost for words,” said an emotional de Vries. “I’m sorry to get a little bit emotional. It’s been such a tough season with highs and lows. Everything came down to the last race. We’re glad everyone’s okay after the start but we drove an incredible race. I felt like a target at times and I just wanted to bring it home once I knew it was fine.”

Everything you need to know ahead of the BMW i Berlin E-Prix

Everything you need to know ahead of the BMW i Berlin E-Prix

The 2020/21 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship reaches its climax this weekend (August 14 & 15) with a double-header at Tempelhof, for the BMW i Berlin E-Prix presented by CBMM Niobium – and the prize on offer is maiden FIA World Championship honours.

With two rounds left to run there are 18 drivers still in mathematical contention for the Drivers’ World Championship, illustrating just how hard fought, unpredictable, and competitive this season has been, even by Formula E’s standards.

Twelve teams, 10 manufacturers and a grid full of world-class racers have traded blows all year. Ten drivers have climbed the top step of the podium, every driver has scored a point and there’s nothing to split the lead group after 13 rounds. 

As it stands

Mercedes-EQ’s Nyck de Vries heads the way with a narrow six-point lead over Robin Frijns (Envision Virgin Racing) after a pair of second-placed finishes in London while the pacesetter heading into his home E-Prix, Sam Bird (Jaguar Racing), sits third, level with fellow Brit Jake Dennis (BMW i Andretti Motorsport) in the points table after a second race win for the rookie last time out at the ExCeL Circuit.

Reigning champion Antonio Felix da Costa (DS TECHEETAH) is primed and ready to pounce in fifth, within 15 points of Dutchman de Vries as he seeks to retain his crown.

One win could change everything in the Teams’ table, too, with Envision Virgin Racing leading the way from the manufacturer might of Mercedes-EQ and Jaguar Racing by seven and nine points, respectively. Teams’ incumbents DS TECHEETAH are waiting in the wings 17 points back from the leaders.

Can de Vries drive home his slender advantage? Will experienced head Sam Bird finally hit the top? What are the odds on rookie Dennis signing off BMW’s spell in Formula E in the best possible fashion? Or, is da Costa set to make it a double having scored 91 points – the equivalent of six third place finishes on the bounce – in that six-race Season 6 finale at Tempelhof

Don’t discount the guys that have been there before just yet, either. 2016/17 champion Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler) will be hungier than ever with the aim of seeing Audi leave Formula E on a high and both he and double champ Jean-Eric Vergne (DS TECHEETAH) – two of the most successful drivers in Formula E history – find themselves outside the top 10 but with favourable qualifying groups.

With 29 points available in each of Rounds 14 and 15, there will be plenty of twists and turns before the destination of top honours is decided on Sunday afternoon.

Flying Dutchmen lead the way

It was not all that long ago that Mercedes-EQ’s Team Principal Ian James admitted his team had ‘failed massively’ in keeping their consistency following their early dominance this season.

However, James and his team will be rejuvenated following a double podium in London courtesy of now World Championship leader de Vries. The 26-year old holds a six-point lead heading into the double-header finale in Berlin over his compatriot Frijns, who last week extended his stay at the team for the 2021/22 season.

Return to Tempelhof

The net zero carbon race series returns to the 2.4km Tempelhof Airport Street Circuit on the outskirts of the German capital city. Tempelhof featured a remarkable six races on three different track layouts across in nine days in what was surely the most intense season finale in motorsport history last year to round out Season 6.

Two different configurations will be used over the weekend with Saturday’s race using the traditional anti-clockwise direction and Sunday switching to clockwise – a first for Formula E over a double-header event.

There will be a welcome return for fans, too, as the E-Prix will be open to the public for the first time since the start of the global pandemic, with more than 10,000 General Admission grandstand seats available thanks to a rigorous safety and hygiene protocol established between Formula E organisers and the Berlin authorities.

Berlin’s sustainability drive

Berlin is an exceptionally green city and is a leader in sustainability. Not only is it green in its practices, but some 30% of the city comprises of green space, parks and woodland for an idyllic big city feel.

The city’s senate has invested more than 30 million euro in its cycling infrastructure in 2020 alone, quadrupling its outlay from 2016, making it easier than ever to transit the city on a bike – a contributor to Berlin’s ‘good’ air quality index rating.

The city’s energy consumption per year in its built space has almost halved in the last 20 years, reducing from 150kWh to 80kWh per square metre in 2020. It’s also ranked as the most energy efficient city in Europe in terms of its residential building infrastructure.

Berlin leads the way in recycling initiatives too, with citizens due 0.25 euro for every bottle they recycle, working in addition to Germany’s complete ban on single use plastic in July this year. Grey water is routinely reused after filtration to feed green spaces and rooftop gardens.


Get involved

Formula E blurs the lines between the real and virtual worlds of motorsport and there are even more opportunities to engage with the championship in Season 7, even if you can’t be at an E-Prix in person.

Formula E is the only motorsport in the world that lets fans play an active role in influencing the outcome. FANBOOST for Round 14 opens on August 9 until 15 minutes into the encounter, while voting for Round 15 opens shortly after Round 14 has finished. To give your favourite driver an extra boost of power, visit FANBOOST and the Formula E app.

Play Formula E Predictor

Can you predict the unpredictable? The Formula E Predictor puts you in the hot seat to predict each round of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship. 

It’s free to play, and points are awarded for each correct prediction. Make your picks for five race outcomes – selecting from the 24 Formula E drivers that you think will win the E-Prix, clinch Julius Baer Pole Position, set the TAG Heuer Fastest Lap, be the first to use ATTACK MODE and be the driver to make up the most places in the race.

Berlin hero

Tesla claims 92% battery cell material recovery in new recycling process

Tesla claims 92% battery cell material recovery in new recycling process

Tesla released more details about its effort to deploy large-scale battery recycling, and it claims that it can recover about 92% of battery cell materials with its recycling process.

When it comes to emissions throughout the entire lifecycle, electric vehicles have two main advantages over gas-powered vehicles.

When it comes to the operation of the vehicles, electric vehicle owners have more choices of energy sources to charge their vehicles than just gasoline.

They can charge their vehicles using renewable energy, which will greatly reduce emissions generated by the use of their vehicles.

On the manufacturing front, EV detractors often claim that the energy and resources that it takes to build batteries counterbalance all the tailpipe advantages.

However, those detractors often leave out battery recycling, which makes all the difference for the full emission cycles for electric vehicles.

For years now, Tesla has been working with third-party recyclers to recover materials from their end-of-life battery packs.

But the automaker has also been working on its own “unique battery recycling system.

Today, with the release of its 2020 Impact Report, Tesla released more details on its battery recycling effort.

Tesla confirmed that the first phase of its own battery cell recycling facility was deployed late last year:

“In the fourth quarter of 2020, Tesla successfully installed the first phase of our cell recycling facility at Gigafactory Nevada for in-house processing of both battery manufacturing scrap and end-of-life batteries. While Tesla has worked for years with third-party battery recyclers to ensure our batteries do not end up in a landfill, we understand the importance of also building recycling capacity in-house to supplement these relationships. Onsite recycling brings us one step closer to closing the loop on materials generation, allowing for raw material transfer straight to our nickel and cobalt suppliers. The facility unlocks the cycle of innovation for battery recycling at scale, allowing Tesla to rapidly improve current designs through operational learnings and to perform process testing of R&D products.”

The automaker shared a chart showing that it can recover over 92% of raw battery materials:

Tesla also argues that its recycling effort will be even better for its own battery cells manufacturing in-house as the process will be integrated at each manufacturing site:

“As the manufacturer of our in-house cell program, we are best positioned to recycle our products efficiently to maximize key battery material recovery. With the implementation of in-house cell manufacturing at Gigafactory Berlin-Brandenburg and Gigafactory Texas, we expect substantial increases in manufacturing scrap globally. We intend to tailor recycling solutions to each location and thereby re-introduce valuable materials back into our manufacturing process. Our goal is to develop a safe recycling process with high recovery rates, low costs and low environmental impact. From an economic perspective, we expect to recognize significant savings over the long term as the costs associated with large-scale battery material recovery and recycling will be far lower than purchasing additional raw materials for cell manufacturing.”

In fact, Tesla is now becoming a producer of nickel, cobalt, and other raw materials. Instead of being mined in the field, the materials are being mined from used battery packs.

The company says that it had 1,300 tons of nickel, 400 tons of copper, and 80 tons of cobalt recycled in 2020.

The issue of recycling batteries is so important that Tesla co-founder and long-time CTO JB Straubel quit the company in 2019 to start his own company, Redwood Materials, and develop recycling processes.

Redwood even has a contract to recycle scrap from Panasonic’s battery cell production at Tesla Gigafactory Nevada, where the automaker deployed its own new recycling facility.


Fred Lambert at Electrek

Mercedes-Benz to go all-electric by 2030

Mercedes-Benz to go all-electric by 2030

“We really want to go for it … and be dominantly, if not all electric, by the end of the decade,” said the head of Daimler, Mercedes-Benz’s parent company.

Mercedes-Benz maker Daimler plans to invest more than 40 billion euros ($47 billion) by 2030 to be ready to take on Tesla in an all-electric car market, but warned the shift in technology would lead to job cuts.

Outlining its strategy for an electric future, the inventor of the modern motor car said on Thursday it would, with partners, build eight battery plants as it ramps up electric vehicle (EV) production.

From 2025, all new vehicle platforms will only make EVs, the German luxury automaker added.

“We really want to go for it … and be dominantly, if not all electric, by the end of the decade,” Chief Executive Ola Källenius told Reuters, adding that spending on traditional combustion-engine technology would be “close to zero” by 2025.

However, Daimler – to be renamed Mercedes-Benz as part of plans to spin off its trucks division later this year – stopped short of giving a hard deadline for ending sales of fossil-fuel cars.

Some carmakers like Geely-owned Volvo Cars have committed to going all electric by 2030, while General Motors Co says it aspires to be fully electric by 2035, as they all try to close the gap to industry leader Tesla.

“We need to move the debate away from when you build the last combustion engine because it’s not relevant,” Källenius said. “The question is how quickly can you scale up to being close to 100% electric and that’s what we’re focusing on.”

Daimler shares rose as much as 2.5% after the news, which comes just over a week after the European Union proposed an effective ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2035 as part of a broad package of measures to combat global warming.

Ahead of the EU’s announcement, carmakers had announced a series of major investments in EVs. Earlier this month, Stellantis said it would invest more than 30 billion euros by 2025 on electrifying its line-up.

A battery cell is installed at a Mercedes-Benz EQC electric car in a production line at a plant in Bremen, Germany, January 29, 2020. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer/File Photo


At Mercedes-Benz, the shift will see an 80% drop in investments into combustion engines and plug-in hybrid technologies between 2019 and 2026, which the group said would have a direct impact on jobs.

EVs have fewer components and so require fewer workers than combustion engine vehicles.

“A transformation of our workforce will involve tough decisions. Yes, overall we must and will reduce our personal costs,” Mercedes-Benz management board member and head of human resources Sabine Kohleisen said.

Daimler said that as of 2025, it expects electric and hybrid electric cars will make up 50% of sales – with all-electric cars expected to account for most of that – earlier than its previous forecast that this would happen by 2030.

The carmaker will unveil three electric platforms – one to cover its range of passenger cars and SUVs, one for vans and one for high-performance vehicles – that will be launched in 2025.

Daimler is also acquiring British firm YASA Limited to help develop high-performance electric motors.

The company said it would build out 200 gigawatt hours (GWh) of battery cell capacity. Four of its new battery plants will be in Europe and one in the United States.

Daimler said it would announce new European partners for its battery production plans soon.

The EU has been pushing hard to build out battery capacity to counter China’s dominance of battery production.

Rival Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE) plans to build half a dozen battery cell plants in Europe.

Daimler said that as part of its electrification strategy it would build a battery recycling plant in Kuppenheim, Germany, which would start operations in 2023.


Nick Carey via Reuters