Tesla has agreed to buy privately held Perbix Machine, which designs automated manufacturing equipment. Perbix has been a supplier to the company for nearly three years. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Source: Reuters
Ford will build EVs with Chinese automaker in $765 million deal
Once the Chinese government approves the deal, the enterprise will build a manufacturing facility in the Zhejiang province to produce EVs under its new brand, Zotye Ford. As CNET points out, both parent companies signed an agreement back in August that paved the way for this partnership.
“Zotye Ford will introduce a new brand family of small all-electric vehicles,” Ford group VP Peter Fleet said in the statement. “We will be exploring innovative vehicle connectivity and mobility service solutions for a new generation of young city-dwelling Chinese customers.”
While China hasn’t set a specific deadline to ban fossil fueled cars, as France and UK expect to phase out by 2040, the clock is ticking. Foreign automakers have two choices: Pay a hefty 25 percent import tax on vehicles or partner with a local company to produce cars in the country. This gives manufacturers like Zotye experience (though that company in particular already produces electric and battery-powered vehicles) while granting outside conglomerates access to Chinese markets.
Companies are making deals to get a slice of the country’s EV pie ahead of time because, while its ratio of car owners is low (one in five people), China’s 1.4 billion-person population means nearly 300 million vehicles currently on its roads.
VW taps Google’s quantum computers to help develop EV batteries
The two companies also want to work on traffic optimization (a key development for an autonomous-automobile future) and new machine learning processes. The announcement was made at a 2017 Web Summit in Lisbon, and said that Volkswagen specialists in San Francisco and Munich will work with Google’s universal quantum computers.
“Quantum computing technology opens up new dimensions and represents the fast-track for future-oriented topics,” said Volkswagon’s CIO Martin Hofmann in a statement. “We at Volkswagen want to be among the first to use quantum computing for corporate processes as soon as this technology is commercially available. Thanks to our cooperation with Google, we have taken a major step towards this goal.”
Tesla is currently working to address manufacturing issues at its Gigafactory in Nevada, which led to a three month delay in the production schedule of the Model 3 sedan. At the same time, Jalopnik has learned the company’s director of battery engineering left the company in recent weeks.
Jon Wagner, who joined Tesla in 2013, worked as the team leader for battery pack design engineering at the automaker and helped develop technology in the Model S, X, and 3, according to his LinkedIn profile. He also served as Tesla’s interim director for battery manufacturing, body engineering and computer aided engineering, his LinkedIn page says.
Wagner couldn’t be immediately reached for comment. Tesla declined to comment.
Sources said he officially left the company within the past month, but the circumstances of his departure aren’t immediately clear. There are some hints on Wagner’s LinkedIn page, which says he still works at Tesla, but, as of last month, now states that he’s launching a battery and powertrain startup in Redwood, California.
“[C]ontact me to find out more,” Wagner writes on his page about the new venture, “now hiring!”
It’s possible Wagner’s new venture was in the works for some time, before the Gigafactory issues became known. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said last week the company didn’t fully grasp the extent of the issues “until quite recently.”
Still, Wagner is the latest in a string of management departures at the automaker, which last week said the “primary constraint” on production of the Model 3 has been problems at its massive battery factory. The company said the “combined complexity” of the all-electric sedan’s new battery module and the automated manufacturing processes for it has led to sluggish production.
Tesla launched production of the Model 3 in July, but it hasn’t gone smoothly. Early last month, the company reported it produced only 260 Model 3s, less than 20 percent of its target of 1,500 for the third quarter of 2017. An investigation into Tesla’s manufacturing operations published last week by Jalopnik raised questions about the status of the car’s assembly line at the automaker’s California factory. At least one supplier had yet to receive the necessary approval for tooling to build their component, the investigation found, a crucial factor when trying to hit high production targets.
In a letter to shareholders last Wednesday, Tesla said the “primary constraint” on production was emanating from the Gigafactory, where it ran into problems making battery packs for the Model 3.
Tesla said it’s “confident that throughput will increase significantly in upcoming weeks” and that it’ll “ultimately be capable of production rates significantly greater than the original specification,” but it pushed back a target of producing 5,000 Model 3s per week by the end of this year to late March.
The automaker ultimately has a goal of reaching a run rate of 10,000 Model 3s per week, but Tesla said it won’t hit that until it implements a “capacity addition”at the California factory to increase production.
Tesla has about 450,000 reservations for the Model 3.
SLAC Uses Nobel Prize-Winning Technique To Investigate Battery Fires
An anonymous reader quotes an announcement from SLAC:
Scientists from Stanford University and the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have captured the first atomic-level images of finger-like growths called dendrites that can pierce the barrier between battery compartments and trigger short circuits or fires… This is the first study to examine the inner lives of batteries with cryo-electron microscopy, or cryo-EM, a technique whose ability to image delicate, flash-frozen proteins and other "biological machines" in atomic detail was honored with the 2017 Nobel Prize in chemistry… The ability to see this level of detail for the first time with cryo-EM will give scientists a powerful tool for understanding how batteries and their components work at the most fundamental level and for investigating why high-energy batteries used in laptops, cell phones, airplanes and electric cars sometimes fail, the researchers said… In cryo-EM, samples are flash-frozen by dipping them into liquid nitrogen, then sliced for examination under the microscope. You can freeze a whole coin-cell battery at a particular point in its charge-discharge cycle, remove the component you’re interested in and see what is happening inside that component at an atom-by-atom scale. You could even create a stop-action movie of battery activity by stringing together images made at different points in the cycle… Zooming in, they used a different technique to look at the way electrons bounced off the atoms in the dendrite, revealing the locations of individual atoms in both the crystal and its solid electrolyte interphase (SEI) coating. When they added a chemical commonly used to improve battery performance, the atomic structure of the SEI coating became more orderly, and they think this may help explain why the additive works.