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Today’s Pickup: new lithium mining process drastically cuts EV production costs

Good day,

A report published by the Chinese government has claimed that it has developed a new process to extract lithium, which would drastically reduce the costs associated with lithium mining, and thus bring down the price of electric vehicle (EV) production. The standard international price of lithium ranges between $12,000 to $20,000 per ton, with the Chinese government claiming to cut that to around 15,000 yuan (~$2,180) per ton.

Though the exact costs incurred in the lithium mining process largely remains a business secret, a price that low would disrupt the way EVs are built and priced, and possibly help EV manufacturers price their vehicles at a cost range comparable to conventional vehicles. Notably, China maintains an enviable lead in the lithium battery supply chain, controlling roughly about two-thirds of the world’s lithium-ion battery production – a hegemony that the U.S. is looking to break by passing legislation that could aid the rise of domestic lithium extraction and refining industries.  

Did you know?

Sales of electric cars, plug-in and conventional hybrids rose 28 percent year-on-year in China in April, a slowing from recent growth rates, but still a strong performance in the face of a total industry sales decline of 17.4 percent.


“It’s not just about driving. You need a driver’s knowledge about a guardhouse or signing documents. The driver’s role will definitely change, but he’ll be around a very long time.”

– Dan Lewis, CEO and co-founder of Convoy, commenting on the freight industry’s continued dependance on its driver population, even in a scenario where autonomous driving technology becomes mainstream.

In other news

Transportation IPO review: Lyft and Uber hit the brakes

Recent IPOs from Lyft and Uber have performed poorly, with S-1 and 8-K filings revealing worrisome trends of slowing growth and ballooning losses in both companies. (SeekingAlpha)

Virgin Hyperloop One raises $172 million to advance its futuristic transportation dreams

At least half coming from a Dubai company, and the startup is still looking for more. (The Verge)

Five-seater, all-electric and jet-powered air taxi makes maiden flight

Lilium’s full-scale prototype can take-off and land vertically and is powered by 36 all-electric jet engines. (CNBC)

Can the hardware supply chain remain secure?

The growing number of threats are cause for concern, but is it really possible to slip malicious code into a chip? (Semiconductor Engineering)

Tesla’s solar factory is exporting most of its cells

The “great majority” of solar cells being produced at Tesla Inc’s factory in upstate New York are being sold overseas instead of being used in the company’s trademark “Solar Roof” as originally intended. (Reuters)

Final Thoughts

Amazon has always been at the forefront of supply chain innovation, and its recent program of paying employees to quit and start their own delivery services is no different. Amazon now offers its employees the option of three-months of pay and $10,000 worth of startup funds if they are willing to quit their jobs at Amazon and open local delivery services. Amazon believes that this could reduce some of its hassles with last-mile delivery and eventually build out a well-connected delivery network that collaborates with local delivery businesses – expediting delivery and increasing operational efficiency.

Hammer down everyone!

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Vishnu Rajamanickam, Staff Writer

Vishnu writes editorial commentary on cutting-edge technology within the freight industry, profiles startups, and brings in perspective from industry frontrunners and thought leaders in the freight space. In his spare time, he writes neo-noir poetry, blogs about travel & living, and loves to debate about international politics. He hopes to settle down in a village and grow his own food at some point in time. But for now, he is happy to live with his wife in the middle of a German metropolitan.

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