Latest Kaptur News
Mar 16, 2021
Canadian electric truck company building battery plant in Quebec (Video) Lion Electric battery plant set to begin production in 2023, assembling a commercial-grade battery pack every 5 minutes. Montreal, Quebec, Canada – Lion Electric , producer of electric vehicle (EV) commercial trucks and school buses, plans to build a a battery manufacturing plant and innovation center in Quebec. The factory is planned to begin operations in early 2023 and will produce battery packs and modules made from lithium-ion cells. Construction is projected to break ground over the next few months at a location to be confirmed in the near future. The project and its development represent an investment of approximately $150 million (U.S. dollars) by Lion, which will also get about $120 million from federal and provincial governments. With the construction of the plant, Lion predicts to see a considerable reduction in the cost of its vehicle manufacturing while ensuring control and optimization of a key component of its vehicle supply chain. Given the battery is the most expensive component of an electric vehicle, this new manufacturing capability will have a direct impact on the development of heavy-duty electric transportation while also offering important environmental and economic benefits. With a planned yearly production capacity of 5gWh in battery storage, Lion will be able to electrify approximately 14,000 medium and heavy-duty vehicles annually. The manufacturing plant and innovation center will offer Lion many strategic advantages, including a reduction in its battery system production cost as well as a stable line of procurement of battery packs. Highly automated, Lion's factory is projected to produce one battery module every 11 seconds and a full battery pack every 5 minutes. Lion's innovation center will focus on research and development, with the goal of exploring and achieving new advancements in performance, range, energy capacity, and the development of innovative products, and will allow the company the flexibility needed to rapidly adapt to emerging technologies. Lion plans to hire 135 people to work at the facility. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, "We are continuing to take steps to support our Canadian businesses, invest in innovation, and protect the environment. It is because of companies like Lion Electric that we are accelerating our transition to a resilient and competitive clean growth economy." Lion Founder and CEO Marc Bédard added that, “Lion is an important player in Quebec and Canada's ecosystem of electrification of transportation. This factory will allow Lion to integrate a fundamental element to the supply chain of our electric vehicles ." Detroit, Michigan – General Motors has begun a joint development agreement with lithium metal battery innovator SolidEnergy Systems (SES). Solid-state batteries that eliminate liquid electrolytes should theoretically be safer, more power dense, and offer a longer electric vehicle (EV) range, however the materials used to make early models are very expensive. GM’s lithium metal battery with a protected anode will feature a combination of affordability, high performance, and energy density. The initial prototype batteries have already completed 150,000 simulated test miles at research and development labs at GM’s Global Technical Center in Warren, Michigan, demonstrating real-world potential. To accelerate Li-Metal battery commercialization, GM is working with several innovative companies and making investments that will allow the company to scale quickly. GM Ventures was an early investor six years ago in SES, a research, development and manufacturing leader of lithium-metal technology and aluminum-powered battery management software to optimize performance and safety. The 2015 investment was the start of a close working relationship between SES and General Motors’ research and development organization. The joint development agreement is the next progression of that ongoing collaboration. As part of the agreement, GM and SES plan to build a manufacturing prototyping line in Woburn, Massachusetts, for a high-capacity, pre-production battery by 2023. “Affordability and range are two major barriers to mass EV adoption ,” said GM President Mark Reuss. “With this next-generation Ultium chemistry , we believe we’re on the cusp of a once-in-a-generation improvement in energy density and cost. There’s even more room to improve in both categories, and we intend to innovate faster than any other company in this space.” The expected battery energy density increase could enable higher range in a similarly sized pack or comparable range in a smaller pack. The weight and space savings from smaller battery packs could lower vehicle weight or create more room for additional technology. Part of the foundation of GM and SES’ collaboration on prototype batteries is GM’s extensive lithium metal battery experience. The company has 49 patents granted and 45 patents pending. SES will also bring its own lithium metal intellectual property to the collaboration. Cleveland, Ohio – A defunct electric vehicle (EV) plant in one of the poorest parts of Mississippi is getting a second life from Mullen Technologies , a company bringing Chinese EV designs to the United States. Mullen Chairman and CEO David Michery said his company has signed an agreement to buy the Tunica, Mississippi, plant briefly operated by GreenTech Automotive , a startup that had planned to sell two-seat EVs in the U.S. Now to be called Mullen’s Advanced Manufacturing Engineering Center (AMEC) and Proving Grounds, the plant will employ more than 50 by the end of the year and more than 200 within three years. “Our goal is to sustain 100% of our manufacturing processes in the U.S. and by U.S. workers,” Michery said. “With the establishment of AMEC in Tunica, we are among the very few EV companies that have a manufacturing presence in the U.S. Tunica will allow us to perfect the engineering and manufacturing processes involved in building our EVs, while affording us the ability to assemble vehicles now . This facility is ideal for Mullen’s upcoming initiatives and will be pivotal in allowing us to get to the production of our vehicles in less than typical time.” About an hour south of Memphis, Tennessee, in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, Tunica was once the most economically depressed area in the country. In 1985, Jesse Jackson toured the area, calling it America’s Ethiopia. Much of the attention came from a part of town known as Sugar Ditch, named for the open sewer that carried human waste through a residential neighborhood. Casino gambling in the late 1990s cured some of Tunica’s problems, bringing in tourists from Memphis and parts of Louisiana and Arkansas. And, Mississippi’s government offered tax incentives to several companies to build manufacturing operations there. Today's Motor Vehicles file photo In 2014, GreenTech Automotive workers assemble two-seat electric vehicles (EVs) in Tunica, Mississippi. In 2009, Terry McAuliffe, who later became the Democratic governor of Virginia, founded GreenTech Automotive with plans of making tiny, two-seat EVs. He raised $141.5 million, mainly from investors in China, using the EB-5 visa program that allows immigrant investors to stay in the U.S. permanently. One of his fundraising partners with Anthony Rodham, brother of former first lady and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. Clinton and McAuliffe have long been political allies. GreenTech had a ribbon cutting for the Mississippi plant in 2012 with plans of hiring 350 people. State officials offered incentives and later sued GreenTech for those funds as employment never reached 150 people. McAuliffe blamed some of the company’s early problems in conservative media sites, going as far as suing Watchdog.org for accusing GreenTech of fraud. That case was dismissed in 2014. The automaker filed for bankruptcy protection in 2018, facing lawsuits from Mississippi, disgruntled Chinese investors, and other parties. For the past three years, the facility has been empty, but Mullen officials say it’s perfect for their needs, calling it a turnkey opportunity. The automaker plans to begin production there by Q3. The company plans to ship its first MX-05 EV SUVs to customers by mid-2022. Mullen has a tech center and a pilot plant in Monrovia, California, capable of making 1,000 MX-05 models per year. The company didn’t share its capacity plans for the Mississippi plant, but it will likely be significantly higher. About the author: Robert Schoenberger is the editor of Today's Motor Vehicles and Today's eMobility and a contributor to Today's Medical Developments and Aerospace Manufacturing and Design. He has written about the automotive industry for more than 19 years at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio; The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky; and The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi. Auburn Hills, Michigan – Without a nudge from an art teacher, a visit to an art school, or just plain luck, some of the world’s top automotive designers may never have made their mark in automotive design history. Mark Trostle, head of Ram Truck and Mopar Design at Stellantis, wants to change that. Nine years ago, he revived a contest he won as a high school student that helped drive him to where he is today, leading the design efforts for some of the most desired vehicles on the road. The 2021 Drive for Design contest challenges U.S. high school students in grades 10-to-12 to sketch an electrified Jeep vehicle of the future. And, just like in the professional world, there is a level of urgency – entries are due by May 14, 2021. Three students will be named winners from all valid entries received. “Since the contest began nine years ago, we’ve been able to connect and help many young artists establish a career path in automotive design ,” Trostle said. “We’ve had previous contestants as summer interns, and recently we hired a former winner who is now working in one of the design studios. Regardless of where these students ultimately land, it’s rewarding to our team to be able make an impact on someone’s career.” Students and parents can follow the Stellantis North America social media channels to learn about careers in automotive design. Weekly updates will be posted every Thursday using the hashtag #DriveForDesign. Three sketches will be selected and the winning artists will receive a virtual day of design with leading designers at the Stellantis Design Studios, Wacom and Apple products, and a scholarship to attend a four-week summer program at the College for Creative Studies (CCS) in Detroit , one of the world’s premier colleges for Transportation Design and alma mater for both Trostle and Stellantis Design Chief Ralph Gilles. The CCS summer program curriculum includes the fundamentals of gestural sketching, drawing automotive concepts in perspective, and how to translate designs into 3D models. Cleveland, Ohio – Two Ohio Democratic Congressmen and one from California are asking President Joe Biden’s administration to halt the U.S. Postal Service’s recently awarded contract with Oshkosh Defense to upgrade the service’s aging fleet of delivery vehicles. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) is leading the charge, asking Biden’s administration to investigate whether or not political influence played a role in Oshkosh winning the potential multi-billion-dollar contract. Kaptur also complains that during recent Congressional testimony, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said only 10% of the new mail trucks would be electric vehicles (EVs). Biden has put high targets for federal agencies to electrify their vehicle fleets, and most industry watchers had expected the USPS contract to go to an EV maker or a company that planned to focus on EVs. The Oskosh vehicles will be capable of using electric powertrains, but DeJoy testified that the service plans to focus on gasoline models for most routes. Kaptur also says investigators should probe suspicious stock trades in Oshkosh shares that took place shortly before the USPS made its contract-award announcement. Joining Kaptur in asking for an investigation are Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and Rep. Jared Huffman (D-California). The presence of two Ohio Congressmen on the request to reconsider the contract is not surprising as an Ohio EV company had been seen by some analysts as the leading candidate. Workhorse , Cincinnati-area company that makes electric vans and pickups for UPS and other delivery services, submitted a bid for the USPS trucks in 2015 along with more than a dozen competitors including Ford, Freightliner, Nissan, Hummer maker AM General, Stellantis’ Ram commercial truck division, and Oshkosh. In addition to standing up for a company in their state, lawmakers are also complaining about a lack of faith in DeJoy who has been a target of Democratic complaints for several years. During the 2020 presidential campaign, Democrats accused the postmaster general of changing mail delivery systems in the middle of mail-in voting, delaying delivery of ballots to absentee voters and back to polling stations. Problems with mail delivery persisted after the election. Biden has added several Democrats to the USPS’ board, so DeJoy may face a challenge to his leadership in the near future. “There are many questions surrounding the USPS-Oshkosh contract to construct 165,000 postal vehicles over the next decade, representing roughly a third of the entire federal government’s fleet,” Kaptur said. “DeJoy’s problem-riddled tenure calls into question the awarding of a contract critical to the future success of the Postal Service, at a time when he has already struggled mightily to lead.” She added, “It does not make sense why USPS would go through all the trouble of reimagining their fleet, yet put its collective head in the sand when it comes to internal combustion vs. future propulsion platforms. Given that a reasonable person would not arrive at the decision to electrify only 10% of the new fleet, DeJoy’s proven track record of injecting politics into the functions of USPS, and the suspicious stock trades leading up to the contract announcement, we are calling on the administration to put the USPS contract on hold until an investigation can take place.” In January, Biden called for replacing the entire U.S. government vehicle fleet with EVs, though executive orders he signed do not put a timeframe on that goal. USPS trucks make up roughly one-third of the federal fleet. The postal service had hoped to complete the selection process by 2017, but most of the early bids failed technical reviews or only included general sketches of future vehicles. After a few rounds of reworking the bidding process, the contract was supposed to move forward in 2020, but pandemic-related problems delayed the new vehicles. Neither the USPS nor Oshkosh have yet publicly commented on the calls to investigate the contract. About the author: Robert Schoenberger is the editor of Today's Motor Vehicles and Today's eMobility and a contributor to Today's Medical Developments and Aerospace Manufacturing and Design. He has written about the automotive industry for more than 19 years at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio; The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky; and The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi.