The Current News: May 5, 2022

Hello dear readers and riders! Welcome to the first EV news roundup of May. This week’s stories include a first looks at the stunning Formula E Gen3 race car, a seven-pound powertrain, and the results of CAKE’s first ever electric race. If you see any cool stories you think we should cover, shoot us a message at stephanie@thevintagent.com. Oh, and don’t forget to call your mother on Sunday! Let’s roll.

Formula E’s New Gen3 Car Shows How Fast Battery Technology is Advancing

A gorgeous render of the new Formula E Gen3 racer. [Formula E]

Formula E revealed its new Gen3 race car last week at Monaco’s Yacht Club. With a design inspired by a fighter jet, this car is faster, stronger, and more efficient than its predecessors. While the maximum power output from the Gen1 to the Gen2 only increased by 50 kW, FIA’s newest EV blows previous generations out of the water with a staggering 650 kW of total power. And that power upsurge was achieved in only one year! Some other noteworthy features of the Gen3 include a weight that is 60 kg lighter than the previous models and top speeds of over 200 mph. The new race car will also be built from renewable materials, including recyclable batteries, natural rubber, and recycled fiber from Gen2 cars.

CAKE Worlds Race Winners Announced

CAKE racing in the dirt. Just because it’s quiet doesn’t mean the action isn’t exciting. [CAKE]

Earlier this week, Swedish EV manufacturer CAKE announced the winners of the Cake Worlds Race, the first ever all-electric, gender-neutral race in North America. After the action-packed weekend in Del Mar, CA, professional MXA test-rider Josh Moisman was crowned the North American 4X champion. Ashley Fiolek, coming in ninth place, was crowned the best female rider. Dylan Gaszak secured first place in the amateur class. All three will represent the US in the CAKE Worlds Finals, taking place later this year. While their press arm is robust, CAKE really needs to work on their PR before an event, as one of our team attended the Del Mar race, and found it sparsely attended. EV racing is a blast to watch, so ramp up the notice, CAKE!

Lucid Will Build 100,000 EVs for the Saudi Government

Lucid Motors secures a major contract with the Saudi government. But how will supply chain issues affect their projections? [Lucid]

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Finance recently made a purchase commitment for 50,000 Lucid EVs, with an option to buy another 50,000 more over the next decade. Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) currently holds a controlling 61% stake of the EV maker…an interesting point given the country’s status as the world’s largest exporter of crude oil. Saudi Arabia is also opening up formerly forbidden areas to tourism, and has made huge infrastructure investments in new tourist areas of ancient architecture and astonishing natural beauty, all of which look simply amazing. The question is, will Saudi Arabia invest in Lithium mining to ensure they can build those 100,000 cars?

The World’s Lightest Powertrain?

The Mahle X20 ultra-light powertrain. [Mahle]

The new Mahle X20 e-Bike powertrain claims to be the lightest in the world. The X20 system barely tips the scale at just 7.05 lbs, including the motor, wiring, battery, controller, and head unit. Due to its ultra-lightness, the rear hub motor only cranks out about 23 Nm of torque, but will still be a welcome boost for any bicycle.

Aston Martin Plans to Go Entirely Electric

The Aston Martin Valhalla is the company’s first plug-in hybrid vehicle, which is expected to arrive in 2024. With no EV design in evidence, it’s a bold move for the company to announce a total switch to EVs. [Aston Martin]

Luxury automaker Aston Martin announced earlier this week that it is targeting 2030 as the expiration date of new cars with gas-powered engines. The company also plans to drop its first electric model by 2025.

Major Global Lithium Shortage, and ‘The New Oil’

From the Publisher: Lithium is a very common mineral on planet Earth, found in rock and soil and seawater. Lithium is also a critical element for the battery technology currently powering EVs, but extracting Lithium from all these places is difficult, expensive, and is currently a filthy business, perhaps even dirtier than oil extraction. The planned-for shift to EVs across Europe and North America, and the current growth of the EV mobility sector, have exposed a major weakness in the supply chain: the demand for Lithium by battery manufacturers worldwide has exceeded the available supply by 50,000metric tons every year since 2020. The price of Lithium carbonate has gone through the roof, shooting up 442% since 2020, and now accounts for 80% of the cost of EV batteries. The cost of a new Tesla long-range has gone up $1000 this year to reflect this, as one example of a quantifiable impact of the mineral shortage on EV mobility. And looking forward, “All the world’s cell production combined represents well under 10% of what we will need in 10 years,” said Robert Scaringe, CEO of Rivian.

Lithium mining in Sonora, Mexico. [Mexico Now]

Lithium has earned the name ‘white gold’, but perhaps it’s better called ‘the new oil’, given its impact on global energy geopolitics, and a shift away from the Middle East as primary energy brokers for a power-hungry world. China remains in control of an estimated 80% of the world’s Cobalt extraction, according to a New York Times story, but Lithium production is currently split between Australia (#1), China, Chile, and Argentina. After threatening to nationalize Lithium production in Mexico, President Obrador (AMLO) allowed Chinese company Ganfeng Lithium to take a 50% stake in UK mining company Bacanora currently controlling mineral mining in Sonora…effectively giving the Chinese a 50-year lease on 100,000 hectares the Sonoran desert. Economically weak countries with vast natural resources are under tremendous political pressure to concede their natural resources to foreign economic powers. And whether the world will know what the ultimately looks like is an open question, given the regular murder of murder and projected daring to give voice to local concerns over extraction. At The Vintagent, we believe in sustainability and a clean environment, and support efforts to that end. The EV industry is painted as essentially ‘green’, but that is still an open question, given the usual ugliness of extraction. Let’s hope the rush to reduce carbon in our atmosphere doesn’t lead to an even worse situation on the ground.

Stephanie Weaver is the EV Editor at The Vintagent, and a Philadelphia-based freelance writer. When she’s not locked to her laptop, she can be found riding horses and motorcycles.

Leave a Comment