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The mobility rEVolution: Lithium battery triggers New York high-rise fire

The New York City authorities have determined that a lithium battery in an unspecified micromobility device triggered a recent high-rise fire that injured dozens in Manhattan. Saudi Arabia has launched its first EV brand, while Indian researchers have developed a new anode material that can help to recharge lithium-ion EV batteries in minutes.

The New York City Fire Department (FDNY) said that a lithium-ion battery – possibly in an e-bike or e-scooter – triggered a blaze in a 37-floor Manhattan apartment building, injuring more than three dozen people, according to the Associated Press. Chief Fire Marshal Daniel Flynn reportedly said there were at least five bikes in the apartment where the fire started. Citywide, nearly 200 blazes and six fire-related deaths this year have been tied to micromobility device batteries, marking “an exponential increase” in such fires in recent years, said Flynn. The FDNY has urged users of such batteries to follow charging and storage instructions, in addition to other safety guidance.

Saudi Arabia‘s Public Investment Fund has unveiled Ceer, the nation’s first electric vehicle brand, under a joint venture with Taiwanese contract manufacturer Foxconn. Taipei-based Foxconn will develop the electric architecture for a range of Ceer models, including SUVs and sedans, with licensed component technology from BMW. The vehicles will be manufactured in Saudi Arabia and sold in the Middle East and North Africa region from 2025, according to a joint statement. The two sides claimed Ceer will attract more than $150 million of foreign direct investment and directly contribute $8 billion to Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product by 2034.

Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar researchers have collaborated with the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST) to develop a new anode material that enables lithium-ion EV batteries to be recharged within minutes. They developed the two-dimensional (2D) anode material using nanosheets derived from titanium diboride (TiB2), a material that resembles a multi-stacked sandwich, where metal atoms are present in-between layers of boron. In a paper published in ACS Applied Nanomaterials, they reported a discharge capacity of 174 mA h/g obtained at a current rate of 1 A/g within 10 minutes. They also demonstrated that the anode can sustain extremely high current rates (15 to 20 A g1–), allowing ultra-fast charging in 9–14 s, and considerable discharge capacity (50 to 60 mA h g–1) with a capacity retention of over 80% after 10,000 cycles. “It is the presence of titanium and boron atoms arranged in a carpet-like interweaved porous structure within the nanosheets that are helping in an efficient charge transport and storage,” said researcher Akash Varma.

Panasonic has started building a new EV battery manufacturing facility in De Soto, in the US state of Kansas. The facility will focus on rapidly ramping up production of “2170” cylindrical Li-ion batteries, with mass production set to begin by March 2025. Panasonic already has a US battery production site at the Tesla Gigafactory 1 in Sparks, Nevada. It is now developing new “4680” high-capacity lithium-ion batteries in Japan, with the first prototypes already shipped to Tesla. Series production is expected to start in the next fiscal year.

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Britishvolt said that it has secured near-term investment to avoid financial collapse. The troubled EV battery maker said its employees have also agreed to a pay cut for November. The UK-based manufacturer had been celebrated for its plans to build a GBP 3.8 billion ($4.4 billion), 38 GWh plant in Blyth, England. Earlier this year, it secured a GBP 100 million funding commitment from the UK government, and said that total investment in the factory had reached GBP 3.8 billion, mostly from private sources. In January, Britishvolt said the first phase of the facility would begin production in the fourth quarter of 2023 or early 2024. But this past summer, it suddenly revealed that it had only raised around GBP 200 million and had pushed back its production timeline, citing “difficult external economic headwinds.”

Polestar has revealed that it has secured more than $1.6 billion in funding from major shareholders. “We have around 70,000 cars on the road today, and are on track to reach our goal of delivering 50,000 cars to customers in 2022,” said Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath. “We are making strong progress on our ambitious plans to launch three more cars by 2026.” Volvo Cars established Polestar as an EV-focused brand and is the largest institutional shareholder in the company, with a 48.3% stake.

The European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) said that electric vehicles now account for 11.9% of all EU passenger car registrations, up from 9.8% in the third quarter of 2021. Hybrid electric vehicles have also gained market share, accounting for 22.6% of all sales. Despite losing market share, diesel- and petrol-powered vehicles still dominate the market, said ACEA.

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Source: pv magazine