To celebrate 60 years of the E-Type, the British automaker is selling six pairs and will drive them from Coventry to Geneva, as a tribute to their introduction.
As a greater share of the transportation market becomes electrified, companies have started to grapple with how to dispose of the thousands of tons of used electric vehicle batteries that are expected come off the roads by the end of the decade.
Battery Resourcers proposes a seemingly simple solution: recycle them. But the company doesn’t stop there. It’s engineered a “closed loop” process to turn that recycled material into nickel-manganese-cobalt cathodes to sell back to battery manufacturers. It is also developing a process to recover and purify graphite, a material used in anodes, to battery-grade.
Battery Resourcers’ business model has attracted another round of investor attention, this time with a $20 million Series B equity round led by Orbia Ventures with injections from At One Ventures, TDK Ventures, TRUMPF Venture, Doral Energy-Tech Ventures and InMotion Ventures. O’Kronley declined to disclose the company’s new valuation.
The cathode and anode, along with the electrolyzer, are major components of battery architecture, and Battery Resourcers CEO Mike O’Kronley told TechCrunch it is this recycling-plus-manufacturing process that distinguishes the company from other recyclers.
“When we say that we’re on the verge of revolutionizing this industry, what we are doing is we are making the cathode active material – we’re not just recovering the metals that are in the battery, which a lot of other recyclers are doing,” he said. “We’re recovering those materials, and formulating brand new cathode active material, and also recovering and purifying the graphite active material. So those two active materials will be sold to a battery manufacturer and go right back into the new battery.”
“Other recycling companies, they’re focused on recovering just the metals that are in [batteries]: there’s copper, there’s aluminum, there’s nickel, there’s cobalt. They’re focused on recovering those metals and selling them back as commodities into whatever industry needs those metals,” he added. “And they may or may not go back into a battery.”
The company says its approach could reduce the battery industry’s reliance on mined metals – a reliance that’s only anticipated to grow in the coming decades. A study published last December found that demand for cobalt could increase by a factor of 17 and nickel by a factor of 28, depending on the size of EV uptake and advances in battery chemistries.
Thus far, the company’s been operating a demonstration-scale facility in Worcester, Massachusetts, and has expanded into a facility in Novi, Michigan, where it does analytical testing and material characterization. Between the two sites, the company can make around 15 tons of cathode materials a year. This latest funding round will help facilitate the development of a commercial-scale facility, which Battery Resourcers said in a statement will boost its capacity to process 10,000 tons of batteries per year, or batteries from around 20,000 EVs.
Another major piece of its proprietary recycling process is the ability to take in both old and new EV batteries, process them, and formulate the newest kind of cathodes used in today’s batteries. “So they can take in 10 year old batteries from a Chevy Volt and reformulate the metals to make the high-Ni cathode active materials in use today,” a company spokesman explained to TechCrunch.
Battery Resourcers is already receiving inquiries from automakers and consumer electronics companies, O’Kronley said, though he did not provide additional details. But InMotion Ventures, the venture capital arm of Jaguar Land Rover, said in a statement its participation in the round as a “significant investment.”
“[Battery Resourcers’] proprietary end-to-end recycling process supports Jaguar Land Rover’s journey to become a net zero carbon business by 2039,” InMotion managing director Sebastian Peck said.
Battery Resourcers was founded in 2015 after being spun out from Massachusetts’ Worcester Polytechnic Institute. The company has previously received support from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium, a collaboration between General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
For two decades, Ian Callum led the look at Jaguar Land Rover. Now he’s reimagining some vintage cars, including the Jag Mark 2 and a classic Corvette.
Since InMotion Ventures, the independent investment and incubation initiative set up by Jaguar Land Rover, launched in 2016 the firm has focused on backing companies across the mobility space broadly. Its 15 active investments run the gamut from autonomous vehicles, to car insurance tech, to ride-sharing, and travel planning, but increasingly the firm is focusing its efforts on vehicle electrification and sustainable supply chains.
As the mobility market moves to embrace electrification, InMotion wants to make sure its portfolio is in the mix.
That’s evident from its most recent investment in Circulor, a company that monitors supply chains from raw material inputs to finished outputs with an eye toward sustainable sourcing.
“As an OEM nowadays it’s increasingly important to have increasing transparency and visibility into how all of those materials have been sourced,” said the firm’s managing director, Sebastian Peck. Circulor already has a strong footprint in the automotive industry, Peck said, and is working with a major oil company on tracing the share of recycled plastics that have come from that provider. “It has applications across any industry.”
Jaguar Land Rover is also using Circulor’s technology to track a material that’s being used in the interior of one of the company’s vehicles, Peck said. The stealthy project hasn’t been publicly revealed yet, but the company has worked with a university and supplier to trace the material from its point of origin to the finished product.
Sustainable supply chains aren’t the only priorities Peck laid out in a recent interview with TechCrunch.
As the mobility market moves to embrace electrification, InMotion wants to make sure its portfolio is in the mix and Peck said it would be looking to make investments in a number of different areas around electric vehicles and batteries.
“We have looked at a number of companies who are developing new battery chemistries. We haven’t made an investment yet,” Peck said. “We don’t have a deep enough insight into the IP portfolios of the big battery suppliers to really be able to reliably benchmark those new chemistries. We have not had enough conviction to make an investment or back a particular company. From a value chain it is two or three steps away from us. It’s a space we’re looking at.”
As automakers promise to get rid of internal combustion engines, Heidelberg is trying to get rid of autos.
Daimler reported unexpectedly strong profits, underlining a rebound by traditional carmakers despite the pandemic.
TigerGraph, a well-funded enterprise startup that provides a graph database and analytics platform, today announced that it has raised a $105 million Series C funding round. The round was led by Tiger Global and brings the company’s total funding to over $170 million.
“TigerGraph is leading the paradigm shift in connecting and analyzing data via scalable and native graph technology with pre-connected entities versus the traditional way of joining large tables with rows and columns,” said TigerGraph found and CEO, Yu Xu. “This funding will allow us to expand our offering and bring it to many more markets, enabling more customers to realize the benefits of graph analytics and AI.”
Current TigerGraph customers include the likes of Amgen, Citrix, Intuit, Jaguar Land Rover and UnitedHealth Group. Using a SQL-like query language (GSQL), these customers can use the company’s services to store and quickly query their graph databases. At the core of its offerings is the TigerGraphDB database and analytics platform, but the company also offers a hosted service, TigerGraph Cloud, with pay-as-you-go pricing, hosted either on AWS or Azure. With GraphStudio, the company also offers a graphical UI for creating data models and visually analyzing them.
The promise for the company’s database services is that they can scale to tens of terabytes of data with billions of edges. Its customers use the technology for a wide variety of use cases, including fraud detection, customer 360, IoT, AI, and machine learning.
Like so many other companies in this space, TigerGraph is facing some tailwind thanks to the fact that many enterprises have accelerated their digital transformation projects during the pandemic.
“Over the last 12 months with the COVID-19 pandemic, companies have embraced digital transformation at a faster pace driving an urgent need to find new insights about their customers, products, services, and suppliers,” the company explains in today’s announcement. “Graph technology connects these domains from the relational databases, offering the opportunity to shrink development cycles for data preparation, improve data quality, identify new insights such as similarity patterns to deliver the next best action recommendation.”
Big change is in store for Jaguar Land Rover. The British automaker has a new global strategy, as revealed earlier on Monday by new CEO Thierry Bolloré. There’s a new roadmap for Jaguar, which will lose its internal combustion engines as it focuses on purely electric luxury cars. Six new battery EVs are in the works for Land Rover, and the company is exploring hydrogen fuel cells as well.
“Jaguar Land Rover is unique in the global automotive industry,” said Bolloré. “Designers of peerless models, an unrivaled understanding of the future luxury needs of its customers, emotionally rich brand equity, a spirit of Britishness and unrivaled access to leading global players in technology and sustainability within the wider Tata Group. We are harnessing those ingredients today to reimagine the business, the two brands and the customer experience of tomorrow. The Reimagine strategy allows us to enhance and celebrate that uniqueness like never before. Together, we can design an even more sustainable and positive impact on the world around us.”
Under the Reimagine strategy, Bolloré said that JLR will become a “battery first business.” For Land Rover, there are six new BEVs scheduled to arrive by 2026, although the first of these isn’t due until 2024. Future Land Rovers will be built using a pair of new flexible vehicle architectures—Modular Longitudinal Architecture and Electric Modular Architecture—both of which are powertrain-agnostic. And production for MLA vehicles will take place at Solihull in the British midlands.
Lacking a strong domestic battery industry, Britain may be left behind by the shift to electric cars.
Aston Martin and Bentley are the latest to press further into the sport utility market, where Land Rover made its name and is still riding high.
The Ford Bronco and the Land Rover Defender revive two legendary lineages with models that can handle trails as well as grocery store runs.
Self-driving vehicle startup Voyage said Monday that it has inked a deal with Fiat Chrysler to supply purpose-built vehicles, a partnership that will help accelerate its plan to launch a fully driverless ride-hailing service.
Voyage, a three-year-old startup that tests and operates a self-driving vehicle service (with human safety operators) in retirement communities in California and Florida, started by modifying Ford Fusion vehicles. The company then began modifying FCA’s Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans with its autonomous vehicle technology.
This new deal, which was nearly two years in the making, marks a critical step in Voyage’s plan to deploy fully driverless vehicles as a ride-hailing service. It also illustrates FCA’s increasingly large role as a supplier to AV developers. The automaker already has a deal with autonomous vehicle company Waymo to provide thousands of purpose-built Chrysler Pacifica minivans. FCA also has a partnership with Aurora to develop self-driving commercial vehicles.
FCA’s approach to rapid advancement of autonomous vehicle technology is to focus on vehicle-side needs while establishing smart and strategic collaborations that promote a culture of innovation, safety and know-how, a company spokesperson said in an email to TechCrunch .
Under this deal with Voyage, Fiat Chrysler is supplying Voyage with purpose-built Pacific Hybrids that have been developed for integration of automated technology. These vehicles come with customizations such as redundant braking and steering that are necessary to safely deploy driverless vehicles, Voyage CEO Oliver Cameron told TechCrunch.
FCA characterized the deal as more than just a supply contract, noting that it will provide support to Voyage to understand the features, operation and technology of the vehicle.
“This opportunity gives engineering and product development teams at Voyage and FCA a greater understanding of the impact of AV technology use on the underlying vehicle, reducing the learning curve for all and guiding future vehicle development,” an FCA spokesperson said in an email to TechCrunch.
Last year, TechCrunch first reported that Voyage had partnered with an automaker to provide this next-generation vehicle designed specifically for autonomous driving. FCA ended up being that unknown partner. FCA and Voyage signed the deal in August 2019.
“As part of this collaboration, Voyage and FCA will jointly adapt and validate the connections between the self-driving software, sensors, and embedded systems,” according to the announcement posted on Medium.
Cameron wouldn’t say how many vehicles FCA will supply. It’s likely dozens not thousands of vehicles. Voyage, which has raised a total of $52 million, is still a small operation compared to AV giants like Waymo and Cruise.
Voyage is still ways off from reaching its driverless ride-hailing service goal. Although, its deal with FCA along with clearing an important regulatory hurdle with California officials are two moments of progress on its long road to a profitable, commercial-scale robotaxi service.
Cameron has previously described the company’s progress as “inching” towards driverless. The company’s self-driving software has reached maturation in the communities it is testing in, and Voyage is now focusing on validation, Cameron told TechCrunch last year.