Posts tagged with "EVs"

Bill Gates pledges $1.5 Billion for infrastructure bill’s new climate projects

August 12, 2021

The Wall Street Journal reports that  Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has committed his climate investment fund to investing $1.5 billion for joint projects with the U.S. government, if Congress enacts a program aimed at developing technologies that lower carbon emissions.

A roughly $1 trillion infrastructure bill passed by the Senate this week would give the Energy Department $25 billion for demonstration projects funded through public-private partnerships—part of more than $100 billion to address climate change. The House hasn’t yet approved the legislation.

Gates, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, said a fund run by his Breakthrough Energy could spend the money over three years on projects aimed at slowing the greenhouse-gas emissions that cause climate change.

The Breakthrough projects, which would have to compete with other applicants for the funds, could include emissions-free fuel for planes and technology to suck carbon dioxide out of the air.

“Critical for all these climate technologies is to get the costs down and to be able to scale them up to a pretty gigantic level,” Gates said. “You’ll never get that scale up unless the government’s coming in with the right policies, and the right policy is exactly what’s in that infrastructure bill.”

Breakthrough will likely shift funding for the biggest projects to Europe and Asia. Instead. if the package doesn’t become law, he added.

The Energy Department program hasn’t been a flashpoint in debate over the legislation, but some Republicans have criticized the overall infrastructure bill for what they see as excessive spending and an increase in federal powers. The bill passed the Senate in a 69-30 vote on Tuesday, August 10, with only Republicans opposed.

“Washington must learn to live within its means,” said a statement this week from Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, the top Republican on the Senate Energy Committee.

To address climate change, the bill includes more than $100 billion for programs that improve the electrical grid, harden infrastructure against natural disasters; and subsidize a transition to emissions-free cars, trucks and buses.

The public-private partnership program is one way the bill embraces industrial policy—the idea that governments direct critical industries rather than leaving things to the market.

Gregory Nemet, a University of Wisconsin professor who has written a book about recent innovation in solar power, said the policy shift will put pressure on government officials who will have to sort through complex market dynamics while managing demands from companies seeking profits and lawmakers pushing for home-state handouts.

Industrial policy “is really a good way of accelerating innovation, but it’s risky because it goes beyond anything we’ve done in the last four decades,”. Nemet said, referring to the United States.

Public-private partnerships have helped commercialize nascent energy technology before, going back to the U.S. nuclear-power industry in the mid-20th century. But the results have been mixed and politically controversial when financial-crisis recovery funds went to similar efforts at the Energy Department a decade ago.

Some of those funds guaranteed a loan to Solyndra, a solar panel maker that later went bankrupt, turning the deal into a political attack point for the Energy Department’s critics. The agency also loaned funds to Tesla., the electric car maker that is now one of the world’s most valuable companies.

“Our political leaders have to accept that there’s going to be some failure,” said David Hart, senior fellow at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a science and technology policy think tank. “Ultimately there has to be a climate policy that creates this market.”

Gates hopes that, in addition to federal funds, the $1.5 billion will attract other investors to raise as much as $15 billion for various projects. Gates will provide some of the initial funds through a Breakthrough program called Catalyst, which is also in the process of raising money from others, he said.

After Tuesday’s Senate vote, the Journal reports, a coalition of the biggest auto and utility trade groups and several environmental groups made an announcement similar to the one Gates. Their joint National EV Charging Initiative would spur and coordinate investments in projects that become part of the legislation’s $7.5 billion program to install more charging stations for electric vehicles.

The fact that these pledges are being announced even before Congress approves the funding is a sign of support in the business community for these programs, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a joint interview with Gates.

“It shows that the private sector is ready to lead the fight to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and achieve [an emissions-free] economy in partnership with government,” she said.

Research contact: @WSJ

Nikola founder Trevor Milton charged with fraud for lying about ‘nearly all aspects’ of EV business

July 30, 2021

Trevor Milton, the founder and former executive chairman of electric vehicle company Nikola, has been charged with two counts of securities fraud and one count of wire fraud by a federal grand jury. Milton has been accused of lying about “nearly all aspects of the business” to boost Nikola’s stock, reports Engadget.

The indictment alleges that Milton made it seem Nikola was much further along than it actually was in terms of having fully functional EVs. It asserts he had a hand in creating a video that made it seem as if a Nikola One prototype was able to move by itself when it was actually rolling down a slope.

According to Engadget, Milton falsely claimed the company had “billions and billions and billions and billions” of dollars’ worth of preorder reservations and that the company was producing its own hydrogen at four times less than market rates, according to the indictment.

He’s also accused of falsely claiming that Nikola had developed “game-changing” battery technology, that it was developing and making several key components for its EVs in-house and that “the total cost of ownership of Nikola’s trucks was 20% to 30% below that of diesel vehicles.”

Prosecutors claim Milton, who resigned in September in the face of a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) probe, targeted and misled amateur investors (or “retail investors”). According to the indictment, some of those investors lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

At Nikola’s peak valuation, Milton held around $8.5 billion worth of stock, as CNBC has noted. The grand jury argues that Milton should surrender property “traceable to the commission of said offenses.” That could include the over $1 billion Milton made when the company went public in June 2020.

The SEC also filed civil securities fraud charges against Milton on Thursday, July 29. The agency asked a district court to force Milton to forfeit “ill-gotten gains” and to pay a fine. It also called for a lifetime ban on Milton serving as an officer at a company that issues securities.

Research contact: @engadget

Watt a concept: Volkswagen preps to change name to ‘Voltswagen’ in U.S.A.

March 30, 2021

The iconic Volkswagen brand is preparing to change its name to “Voltswagen” in the United States, in order to highlight its massive investment in electric vehicles.

The German automaker’s announcement about the name change appeared briefly on its media website on March 29 before it was yanked; it was apparently released too soon, reported USA Today. Officials were mum about the premature announcement; but a source confirmed to that newspaper, CNBC and other media including the HuffPost, that the statement was accurate.

“More than a name change, ‘Voltswagen’ is a public declaration of the company’s future-forward investment in e-mobility,” said the statement before it was pulled.

The name change was supposed to happen in May.

“The new name and branding symbolize the highly-charged forward momentum Voltswagen has put in motion, pursuing a goal of moving all people point-to-point with EVs,” the release said.

Electric models will reportedly carry the name, “Voltswagen,” while gas-powered vehicles will retain the standard “VW” identification. To preserve elements of Volkswagen’s heritage, the company plans to retain the dark blue color of the VW logo for gas vehicles and will use light blue for the new “EV-centric branding.”

The company is about to debut the ID.4, its first long-range electric SUV, in the United States. It’s part of a new lineup of Volkswagen’s ID electric vehicles, including the ID Buzz, a rerun of its microbus. That’s expected to roll out next year in Europe and in America the following year, CNET noted.

The automaker expects that more than 70% of its brand’s European sales and 50% of sales in the U.S.A. will be electric vehicles by 2030, reported CNBC.

Research contact: USATODAY