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

White House proposes 30 percent tax on electricity used for crypto mining

The Biden administration wants to impose a 30 percent tax on the electricity used by cryptocurrency mining operations, and it has included the proposal in its budget for the fiscal year of 2024. In a blog post on the White House website, the administration has formally introduced the Digital Asset Mining Energy or DAME excise tax. It explained that it wants to tax cryptomining firms, because they aren’t paying for the “full cost they impose on others,” which include environmental pollution and high energy prices. 

Crypto mining has “negative spillovers on the environment,” the White House continued, and the pollution it generates “falls disproportionately on low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.” It added that the operations’ “often volatile power consumption ” can raise electricity prices for the people around them and cause service interruptions. Further, local power companies are taking a risk if they decide to upgrade their equipment to make their service more stable, since miners can easily move away to another location, even abroad. 

It’s no secret that the process of mining cryptocurrency uses up massive amounts of electricity. In April, The New York Times published a report detailing the power used by the 34 large scale Bitcoin miners in the US that it had identified. Apparently, just those 34 operations altogether use the same amount of electricity as three million households in the country. The Times explained that most Bitcoin mining took place in China until 2021 when the country banned it, making the United State the new leader. (In the US, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation that restricts crypto mining in the state last year.) Previous reports estimated the electricity consumption related to Bitcoin alone to be more than some countries’, including Argentina, Norway and the Netherlands

As Yahoo News noted, there are other industries, such as steel manufacturing, that also use large amounts of electricity but aren’t taxed for their energy consumption. In its post, the administration said that cryptomining “does not generate the local and national economic benefits typically associated with businesses using similar amounts of electricity.”

Critics believe that the government made this proposal to go after and harm an industry it doesn’t support. A Forbes report also suggested that DAME may not be the best solution for the issue, and that taxing the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions might be a better alternative. That could encourage mining firms not just to minimize energy use, but also to find cleaner sources of power. It might be difficult to convince the administration to go down that route, though: In its blog post, it said that the “environmental impacts of cryptomining exist even when miners use existing clean power.” Apparently, mining operations in communities with hydropower have been observed to reduce the amount of clean power available for use by others. That leads to higher prices and to even higher consumption of electricity from non-clean sources. 

If the proposal ever becomes a law, the government would impose the excise tax in phases. It would start by adding a 10 percent tax on miners’ electricity use in the first year, 20 percent in the second and then 30 percent from the third year onwards. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/white-house-proposes-30-percent-tax-on-electricity-used-for-crypto-mining-090342986.html?src=rss

Worldwide PC shipments plunged by a third in the first quarter

The PC market has been reeling for months, but it just got worse. Both Canalys and IDC estimate that worldwide computer shipments dropped between 29 to 33 percent year-over-year in the first quarter of 2023. That’s a steeper drop than during the holidays, and this time none of the major brands escaped the worst of the downturn. Second-place HP escaped relatively lightly with a 24 percent drop in shipments, while fourth-place Apple felt the most pain with a drop of more than 40 percent. ASUS, Dell and Lenovo all took a roughly 30 percent hit.

The explanations may sound familiar. Customers are reluctant to buy PCs in a turbulent economy where inflation is running wild, and the pandemic-era boom in remote work is still winding down. People either can’t afford new machines or already have ones that are good enough. There’s no comment on why Apple struggled more than its peers, but it generally targets the high-end market and is more vulnerable to poor economic conditions. TechCrunch also notes that Apple’s transition to in-house chips helped it avoid the tough times that Windows vendors faced in recent years, but that the honeymoon period may be over.

Analysts are optimistic. Canalys believes this is the worst drop the PC market will see in 2023, while both research groups expect to see recovery as soon as the second half of 2023. Old computers will be due for upgrades, including Chromebooks at schools, while businesses will update to Windows 11 systems. IDC also sees the slowdown as giving manufacturers a chance to move some production outside of China.

There’s still a note of caution. IDC warns that the PC industry could be in for a “slog” if recessions continue into 2024. Although the sharpest declines may be over, it could take a long time for the market to bounce back. Don’t be surprised if brands play it relatively safe with computers they know are likely to sell, rather than experimenting with unusual designs.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/worldwide-pc-shipments-plunged-by-a-third-in-the-first-quarter-172543016.html?src=rss

Elizabeth Warren wants regulators to examine Big Tech’s expansion into autos

Elizabeth Warren is calling for more federal oversight of Big Tech. In a letter (PDF link) the Democratic senator sent on Tuesday, she asked the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice to look into Google, Apple and Amazon’s expansion into t…

Toyota runs out of federal EV tax credits, pushing prices higher

Toyota is the latest automaker to run out of US federal tax credits and it will join Tesla and GM in losing access to the $7,500 subsidy. The company surpassed the qualifying sales threshold for EVs and hybrids in June, as Bloomberg reports.

The government limited each carmaker to 200,000 EV tax credits, though Toyota and other companies have been lobbying for that cap to be lifted. Toyota says losing the credit will mean its EVs are more expensive for consumers, which will slow the transition away from combustion-engine cars to EVs.

However, Toyota and Tesla have pushed back on a Biden administration plan to grant extra credits to unionized carmakers. GM, Ford and Stellantis (the parent of Fiat and Chrysler) have unionized plants. The Build Back Better Act, which passed through the House but stalled in the Senate, also included extra credits for cars made entirely in the US.

As things stand, Toyota’s tax credits will be phased out gradually over a one-year period. Bloomberg notes that the value of the subsidy will be halved twice before it expires. However, Toyota will still be able to take advantage of incentives at the state level.

Rivian pushes back deliveries of its R1S SUV once again

Early buyers of Rivian’s latest electric SUV are facing another delivery delay. A number of customers who pre-ordered Rivian’s R1S SUV received an email this week informing them that an expected June or July delivery window has been pushed back several months. According to Auto Evolution, customers posted on Rivian’s forum that their delivery window had been updated to August or September 2022, or as late as October through December 2022. The EV maker first debuted the seven-passenger vehicle — which has a starting price of $72,500 — back in November 2018, and has pushed back deliveries multiple times, citing production delays and supply chain issues. Deliveries of the first batch of R1S SUVs were originally slated for August 2021.

The company in its email chalked up the latest delay to ongoing supply chain issues and its limited service infrastructure. It said that it would prioritize deliveries to areas that are close to Rivian service centers. Rivan currently operates service centers in only 14 states, so customers in other areas will likely have an even longer wait.

“As we continue to assess our supply chain and build plans, we want to provide an update on your estimated delivery window,” wrote Rivian in its email to customers. It stated that the customer’s updated delivery window was based on three factors: their preorder date, delivery location and current configuration. But a number of early customers seemed puzzled at how Rivian calculated the new delivery window. One customer noted that they pre-ordered the R1S SUV back in November 2019, yet was assigned to the later delivery window of the fourth quarter of 2022. Many customers who lived in especially remote areas or in a state without a Rivian service center also reported later delivery windows. “The irony of an off-road adventure vehicle delivered only to major cities,” wrote one Rivian customer on the company’s forum.

Rivian has struggled to scale up production of its vehicles amidst a global parts shortage, including semiconductors. The Tesla competitor isn’t able to rely on existing relationships with parts suppliers, which traditionally prioritize the larger, more established car companies, the Wall Street Journal noted.