LG and Hyundai are building a $4.3 billion EV battery cell factory in the US

Korean companies LG and Hyundai are teaming up to build a new EV battery cell manufacturing plant in the US and have signed a memorandum of understanding to invest $4.3 billion in the project. The companies will each hold a stake of 50 percent in the joint venture, which will start construction on the new plant in the second half of 2023. Their new manufacturing facility will be located in Savannah, Georgia, where Hyundai is also building its first all-EV factory in the US. The battery plant is expected to be operational by 2025 at the earliest. After it starts production at full capacity, it will be able to produce 30GHWh of battery every year, which is enough to support the production of 300,000 electric vehicles.

LG and Hyundai are just the latest companies to invest in US-based battery manufacturing facilities over the past couple of years. Toyota announced in 2021 that it will build a battery plant in the country as part of a $3.4 billion investment, while Ultium Cells (GM’s and LG’s joint venture) secured a $2.5 billion loan from the Energy Department for the construction of EV battery facilities. More recently, Ford announced that it’s spending $3.5 billion to build a lithium iron phosphate battery plant in Michigan. Lithium iron phosphate, which can tolerate more frequent and faster charging, costs less than other battery technologies and could bring down the cost of EVs.

Other companies could follow suit, seeing as the Biden administration is pushing to bring more EV and battery manufacturing to the US. Last year, it launched the American Battery Materials Initiative, which will give 20 companies $2.8 billion in grants in hopes of encouraging manufacturers to start battery production stateside and making sure that the US won’t be heavily dependent on “unreliable foreign supply chains.”

Hyundai and LG believe that the new facility can help create “a stable supply of batteries in the region” and allow them “to respond fast to the soaring EV demand in the US market.” Hyundai Mobis, the automaker’s parts and service division, will be assembling battery packs using cells manufactured in the plant. The automaker will then use those packs for Hyundai, Kia and Genesis electric vehicles. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/lg-and-hyundai-are-building-a-43-billion-ev-battery-cell-factory-in-the-us-121519593.html?src=rss

Ford EV drivers will get access to 12,000 North American Tesla Superchargers next spring

Last February, the Biden administration unveiled its $5 billion plan to expand EV charging infrastructure across the country. Not only with the Department of Transportation help states build half a million EV charging stations by 2030, the White House also convinced Tesla to share a portion of its existing Supercharger network with non-Tesla EVs. On Thursday, Ford became the first automaker to formalize that pact with Tesla, announcing during a Twitter Spaces event that “Ford electric vehicle customers access to more than 12,000 Tesla Superchargers across the U.S. and Canada,” starting in Spring 2024, per the company release.

Because Teslas uses a proprietary charger port design for its vehicles, Ford owners will initially need to rely on a Tesla-developed adapter connected to the public charging cable in order to replenish their Ford F-150 Lightning, Mustang Mach-E and E-Transit vehicles. Ford also announced that, beginning with the 2025 model year, it will switch from the existing Combined Charging System (CCS) port to Tesla’s now open-source NACS charge port. These 12,000 additional chargers will join Ford’s 84,000-strong Blue Oval charging station network.   

“Tesla has led the industry in creating a large, reliable and efficient charging system and we are pleased to be able to join forces in a way that benefits customers and overall EV adoption,” Marin Gjaja, chief customer officer of Ford Model e, said in the release. “The Tesla Supercharger network has excellent reliability and the NACS plug is smaller and lighter. Overall, this provides a superior experience for customers.”

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/ford-ev-drivers-will-get-access-to-12000-north-american-tesla-superchargers-next-spring-221752191.html?src=rss

Ford will add AM radio to EVs following concerns over emergency alerts

The next big update to your Ford EV might bring some decidedly old technology. Ford chief Jim Farley has revealed that the brand will add AM broadcast radio to its 2023 Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lightning models through a software update following discussions with politicians about the emergency alert system. It will also be included on all 2024 Ford and Lincoln vehicles, including the previously announced Mustang coupe.

Ford cut AM radio from its 2023 EVs after data showed that less than 5 percent of customers used it, according to spokesperson Alan Hall. The company was also concerned about interference with the EV system, and was trying to reduce cost and manufacturing challenges. You could still stream AM stations, but conventional broadcasts weren’t available.

The decision comes less than a week after a bipartisan group of senators and House representatives introduced a bill, the AM for Every Vehicle Act, to require the older radio format in new cars without charging a premium. They believe AM is “essential” during emergencies, and that removing it could put public safety at risk. A trade group that includes Ford, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, claimed the measure was unneeded as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) can deliver alerts through FM, satellite and streaming.

This isn’t an altruistic gesture, then, and it’s unclear how Ford will address potential interference problems. Even so, this may be good news if you live in an area prone to natural disasters. You can buy EVs from Ford knowing you’ll get potentially life-saving warnings. This also applies pressure to BMW, Tesla and other vendors that have dropped AM radio in newer cars.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/ford-will-add-am-radio-to-evs-following-concerns-over-emergency-alerts-164841361.html?src=rss

Vinfast’s first EV is almost ready for the world

If you want to lose a lot of money, become an automaker. Cars are incredibly difficult to build and scaling manufacturing is nearly impossible. It took Tesla years to get the Model 3 to market after bringing the Model S and Model X to the road. So Vietnam’s VinFast decision to become an EV automaker after it spent a few years building vehicles based on BMW’s platform is sort of insane. And yet, this week we had the opportunity to drive the VF 8, the first VinFast EV to land in the United States.

Driving the VF 8 in San Diego was a stark reminder of the difficulty of building a vehicle. While we were impressed with what the company has done, we also have to report that the VF 8 electric SUV needs work if it’s going to truly compete with the rest of the US EV market.

Oddly, VinFast had us drive the lease-only California edition that’s actually only available in the Golden State. It has a shorter range than its competitors and the standard version of the vehicle that’s hitting US shores right now.

Overall though, we found the car needs a few more months of tweaks (most of which are software) to battle it out in the increasingly competitive mid-size electric SUV market. But don’t count them out: VinFast has the foundation to be a major player sooner than you think. Watch our first drive video below for the full story.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/vinfasts-first-ev-is-almost-ready-for-the-world-190049624.html?src=rss

Volvo’s compact electric SUV will be called the EX30

Volvo has revealed the name for its upcoming fully electric small SUV in a teaser showing its official launch date. The vehicle is called EX30, and a previous report from the Auto Express suggests that it’s targeting MINI’s electric vehicles. Volvo first teased the compact SUV when it announced the EX90, which the company calls its “safest car ever,” last year. Apparently, it shares several design components with the EX90, including its sharply angled hatchback form factor and its tail light. 

The EX30 will reportedly use the electric vehicle platform developed by Volvo parent company Geely. Smart, an automative brand established as a joint venture between Mercedes-Benz and Geely, already used the platform for its compact electric SUV called the #1. That’s why Auto Express expects the EX30 to be available as a 268-horsepower single-motor vehicle like the #1 or as a 400-horsepower four-wheel drive vehicle similar to Volvo’s older EVs.

Like other automakers, Volvo Cars aims to go fully electric by 2030 and unveiled its first electric vehicle, the XC40 Recharge SUV, back in 2019. It also launched a curvier version of it, the C40 Recharge, in 2021. The automaker will officially unveil the EX30 on June 7th, when the vehicle will also be available for pre-order in select markets. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/volvos-compact-electric-suv-will-be-called-the-ex30-090534679.html?src=rss

Qualcomm is buying auto-safety chipmaker Autotalks

Qualcomm has agreed to acquire an Israeli fabless chipmaker called Autotalks, and according to TechCrunch, the deal will cost the company around $350 to $400 million. Autotalks creates chips and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication technologies dedicated towards boosting road safety for both ordinary and driverless vehicles. In its announcement, Qualcomm said that Autotalks’ “production-ready, dual mode, standalone safety solutions” will be incorporated into the Snapdragon Digital Chassis, its set of cloud-connected assisted and autonomous driving technologies. 

Nakul Duggal, senior VP of automotive for Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., said in a statement: “We have been investing in V2X research, development and deployment since 2017 and believe that as the automotive market matures, a standalone V2X safety architecture will be needed for enhanced road user safety, as well as smart transportation system… We share Autotalks’ decades-long experience and commitment to build V2X technologies and products with a focus on solving real-world road user safety challenges. We look forward to working together to deliver global V2X solutions that will help accelerate time-to-market and enable mass market adoption of this very important safety technology.”

For makers of driverless and driver-assisted vehicles and systems, ensuring people that their technologies are safe is of utmost importance if they want to win them over. They may have to offer safety features that can assuage people’s fears in order to get ahead of their rivals, since most people remain apprehensive about self-driving cars.

Qualcomm expects the automotive industry to be one of its biggest sources of growth and revenue over the coming years. At CES last year, it unveiled the Snapdragon Ride Vision platform, which is an “open, scalable and modular” tech automakers can use to build cars. And in late 2022, it said its automotive business pipeline, or its revenue-generating opportunities, had jumped to $30 billion from the $10 billion it announced during its previous earnings report. The company also said back then that it estimates its automotive business revenue to hit $4 billion by fiscal year 2026. It credited the Snapdragon Digital Chassis for the expansion of its future business opportunities, and Autotalks’ acquisition could grow its customer base and client offerings even further. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/qualcomm-is-buying-auto-safety-chipmaker-autotalks-120131989.html?src=rss

Tesla unveils Model S Plaid track package that unlocks a top speed of 200 MPH

Tesla has unveiled a $20,000 track package for the Model S Plaid, finally allowing it to reach the 200 MPH top speed the automaker promised when it was first announced. The Model S Plaid vehicles the company delivered after they became available could only reach around 163 MPH, which is fast, but not 200 MPH fast. Turned out Tesla put a limitation on its software to prevent it from reaching its full potential. According to Electrek, the company wanted the vehicle to have bigger brakes first, so they could slow down better from really high speeds. 

When you visit the Model S Plaid order page, you’ll see a note when you click the 200 MPH stop speed spec that the indicated spec requires paid hardware upgrades. The new track package will set you back $15,000 for a carbon ceramic brake kit package, or $20,000 for the brake kit and a wheel and tire package optimized for performance and track usage. You will need the ceramic brakes to be able to unlock the vehicle’s top speed, but you can also purchase just the wheel and tire package for $6,000

The automaker first started offering the ceramic brake kit for $20,000 back in 2021, but it has yet to start installing it on customers’ vehicles. (While there was a company that was able to push past the Model S Plaid’s software limitations last year, it had to hack into the vehicle’s software and install third-party brakes.) The new track package pages have a clear date for their availability, though: They will be out in June 2023 and can be purchased from the Tesla app.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/tesla-unveils-model-s-plaid-track-package-that-unlocks-a-top-speed-of-200-mph-085856818.html?src=rss