Should Tesla Have Built Its European Gigaplant In The UK Instead Of Germany?

After all, Germany wasn’t the only option on the table. There were rumors last year that Elon Musk was in talks with the UK government to open a Gigafactory in Somerset in the UK. Some years ago, the UK was a preferred manufacturing location for non-European car brands because it had direct access to the EU market but more relaxed labor laws.

Several Japanese manufacturers, including Toyota, allegedly built their manufacturing in the UK for that reason. The country was even dubbed the “Japanese aircraft carrier floating off the coast of Europe” in 1992 by Jacques Calvet, who was then head of PSA Group, a French automaker that was the country’s largest industrial company at the time (and now part of Stellantis).

Sadly, Brexit has reduced the UK’s utility in this respect, so that only the reduced red tape at the manufacturing stage remains. There is now a lot more bureaucracy when it comes to trading with the EU from the UK, and that was reportedly a major factor in Honda closing its Swindon factory after 35 years.

Officially, bureaucracy is not why Tesla walked away from the EU money he was being offered, though, even if you can bet there would have been many hoops to jump through to get it. Musk stated that he had turned down the $1.28 billion in EU funding for the Berlin Gigafactory because “It has always been Tesla’s view that all subsidies should be eliminated. But that must include the massive subsidies for oil & gas. For some reason, governments don’t want to do that…”

You should always take such statements from Musk with a pinch of salt, particularly considering his record on labor relations, which isn’t as benevolent as his environmental message. However, he does have a point about subsidies. There are a lot of complaints about governmental assistance for EVs and green energy, but the oil and gas industry hasn’t exactly been free from monetary incentives over the years either.

Activist group Paid to Pollute claims the UK has provided nearly £14 billion ($18.7 billion) in subsidies to oil and gas since 2016 alone. In the US, the figure is more than this every year, with an Oil Change International report in 2017 putting the American total at $20.5 billion annually.

There is also more to attract business than just hassle-free labor, financial kickbacks, and free trade agreements. The UK does have considerable other opportunities in the brave new world of EVs. Start-up Britishvolt broke ground on the UK’s first battery Gigaplant in August, a £2.6 billion ($3.5 billion) project that aims to create 8,000 new jobs and manufacture 30GWh of batteries from 2027 onwards, enough for 300,000 EVs a year.

The UK also has its own supplies of lithium, a key element in most rechargeable battery chemistries, which Cornish Lithium and British Lithium hope to exploit. This is both from mining and brine, geothermal underground water that is high in lithium content. These companies even argue that there will be enough local lithium to electrify the entire UK car fleet. Electric hypercar maker Rimac has its design office in the UK too, because of the talent available in the country.

Tesla does need to think about where it is producing cars for the right-hand-drive market. This doesn’t just include the UK, but also Japan, South Africa (plus several adjacent countries), Australia, New Zealand and (the big ones) India, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Malaysia and Thailand also drive on the left. In fact, the sum of right-hand-drivers is 2.8 billion people – 36% of the world population.

Right now, the Tesla cars coming into the UK are being made in China, which ironically is considered to be a quality improvement over those manufactured in America. The Chinese Model 3s now also come with LFP batteries, which are cheaper, more tolerant of being charged to 100%, and contain no cobalt, so are free of the moral issues that mining that mineral poses. But even if China is a cost-effective place to produce cars, transporting them around the world is hardly great for the environment.

Tesla will almost certainly iron out its problems in Germany sometime in 2022. But you do have to wonder if Elon Musk is considering it a rather bitter pill dealing with the bureaucracy that he has faced setting up the Gigafactory in Berlin. Even when the plant opens, this is likely to continue, looking at past history in Europe. Perhaps, as the EV market continues to grow, local UK manufacturing could end up back on the table. Brexit or no Brexit, the UK is still a very lucrative automotive market after all.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

I am the editor of independent electric vehicle website WhichEV. I have over 25 years’ experience as a technology journalist and a life-long love of cars, so having the two come

Source: Should Tesla Have Built Its European Gigaplant In The UK Instead Of Germany?

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There’s No ‘Supply-Chain Shortage,’ Or Inflation. There’s Just Central Planning

It’s great that so many have copies of Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations, but very unfortunate that so few have read it. The alleged “supply chain” problems we’re enduring right now were explained by Smith in the book’s opening pages.

Smith wrote about a pin factory, and the then remarkable truth that one man in the factory working alone could maybe – maybe – produce one pin each day. But several men working together could produce tens of thousands.

Work divided is what enables the very work specialization that drives enormous productivity. If this was true in an 18th century pin factory, imagine how vivid the truth is today. Figure that something as basic as the creation of a pencil is the consequence of global cooperation, so what kind of remarkable global symmetry leads to the creation of an airplane, car, or computer?  The kind that can’t be planned is the short answer, but more realistically the only answer.

Please keep this in mind as you read media coverage of the so-called “supply-chain disruptions” resulting in “shortages” that are said to be causing “inflation.” If you want a bigger laugh, read about what President Biden wants to do in order to get “supply” back on the market with an eye on replenishing U.S. retail shelves that are increasingly bare. He’s decreed 24-hour port operations! Yes, thanks to the 46th president we now know what held the Soviets back, and ultimately destroyed the Soviet Union: their ports weren’t open long enough; thus the shortages of everything

All of the above would be funny if it weren’t so sad. Media members, “experts,” economists, and politicians don’t even disappoint anymore. To say they do would be to flatter them.

Either they think we have inflation, shortages, or a combination of both. Wrong on all counts. Really, who was talking about supply-chain shortages or the impossibility that is demand-driven inflation in early 2020? Very few were, and that’s because the U.S. economy was largely free then. At which point politicians panicked. And in panicking, they imposed a rather draconian form of command-and-control on the U.S. economy.

Some were free to work, some weren’t, and more still were free to work and operate their businesses within strict political limits. From freedom to central planning in a very small amount of time. At which point it’s worth considering once again the simple pin factory that Smith witnessed in the 18th century versus the global cooperation that was the norm 19 months ago.

The supply lines of February 2020 were impossibly complicated structures that no politician could ever hope to design. Think billions of individuals around the world pursuing their narrow work specialization on the way to enormous global plenty. Put another way, the shelves in economically free countries were heaving with all manner of products based on economic cooperation that was staggering in scope. Brilliant as some experts claim to be, and brilliant as some politicians think they are as they look in the mirror, they could never construct the web of trillions of economic relationships that prevailed before the lockdowns. But they could destroy the web. And they did; that, or they severely impaired it.

In which case let’s please not insult reason by talking about “shortages” or “inflation” now. Let’s instead be realistic and talk about central planning. We know from the 20th century that when politicians, authoritarians or both substitute their intensely narrow knowledge for that of the marketplace that immense want for very little (and lousy) supply is the logical result. Yes it is. When we’re not economically free, bare shelves are the inevitable result.

Conversely, product and service abundance is a certain consequence yet again of the infinite actions and trillions of economic relationships entered into by billions of people. These commercial tie-ups were constructed by consenting individuals over many years and many decades only for them to be wrecked by a political class arrogantly seeking to protect us from ourselves. That’s what happens when command-and-control replaces voluntary order. The remunerative ties that bind us fray, or vanish altogether. Consenting, profitable economic activity was suddenly illegal. Yet politicians and other experts are only now wringing their hands about a lack of supply?

Really, what did they think was going to happen? While politicians couldn’t ever create or legislate billions working together around the world, they could and can surely break voluntary economic arrangements. When you have guns, handcuffs, the power to quite literally shut off power sources to the productive, not to mention the wealth produced by the productive, you have the power to impose command-and-control. And so they did, only for the “supply chains” painstakingly created in self-interested but spontaneous form over many decades to suddenly break apart. Just don’t call it inflation, or shortages.

Inflation is a devaluation of the unit of account. In our case it’s the devaluation of the dollar. And while Treasury hasn’t always done a great job as the dollar’s steward over the decades, that’s just the point. Devaluation was routine problem in the 1970s, it ceased to be in the 80s and 90s, but it reared its ugly head once again during the George W. Bush administration in the early 2000s. To say inflation is a “now” thing is to ignore that it’s more realistically been a 21st century-long thing.

We don’t suddenly have an inflation problem. To say we do is the equivalent of saying that the Soviets had inflation because all the goods worth getting were both difficult to find, and incredibly expensive if they could be found. In our case we’ve had a lockdown problem care of nail-biting politicians that suffocated commercial cooperation around the world. And with work divided less than it used to be care of government force, productivity is naturally lower than it used to be.

Please consider modern productivity in terms of Smith’s pin factory example yet again, and ask what it would do to supply. The only thing is supply shortfalls are not evidence of inflation. A rise in one price due to lack of supply implies a fall in other prices. Yes, we have a central planning problem. Were he around today, Adam Smith could diagnose this in seconds.

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I’m the editor of RealClearMarkets, and a senior economic adviser to Applied Finance Advisors. I’m also the author of five books. The most recent released in March is When Politicians Panicked: The New

Source: www.forbes.com

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Solar Power Is Dirt-Cheap and About to Get Even More Powerful

After focusing for decades on cutting costs, the solar industry is shifting attention to making new advances in technology. The solar industry has spent decades slashing the cost of generating electricity direct from the sun. Now it’s focusing on making panels even more powerful.

With savings in equipment manufacturing hitting a plateau, and more recently pressured by rising prices of raw materials, producers are stepping up work on advances in technology — building better components and employing increasingly sophisticated designs to generate more electricity from the same-sized solar farms.

“The first 20 years in the 21st century saw huge reductions in module prices, but the speed of the reduction started to level off noticeably in the past two years,” said Xiaojing Sun, global solar research leader at Wood Mackenzie Ltd. “Fortunately, new technologies will create further cost-of-electricity reductions.”

A push for more powerful solar equipment underscores how further cost reductions remain essential to advance the shift away from fossil fuels. While grid-sized solar farms are now typically cheaper than even the most advanced coal or gas-fired plants, additional savings will be required to pair clean energy sources with the expensive storage technology that’s needed for around-the-clock carbon-free power.

Bigger factories, the use of automation and more efficient production methods have delivered economies of scale, lower labor costs and less material waste for the solar sector. The average cost of a solar panel dropped by 90% from 2010 to 2020.

Boosting power generation per panel means developers can deliver the same amount of electricity from a smaller-sized operation. That’s potentially crucial as costs of land, construction, engineering and other equipment haven’t fallen in the same way as panel prices.

It can even make sense to pay a premium for more advanced technology. “We’re seeing people willing to pay a higher price for a higher wattage module that lets them produce more power and make more money off their land,” said Jenny Chase, lead solar researcher at BloombergNEF.

Higher-powered systems are already arriving. Through much of the past decade, most solar panels produced a maximum of about 400 watts of electricity. In early 2020, companies began selling 500-watt panels, and in June, China-based Risen Energy Co. introduced a 700-watt model.

Here are some of the ways that solar companies are super-charging panels:

While many current developments involve tweaks to existing technologies, perovskite promises a genuine breakthrough. Thinner and more transparent than polysilicon, the material that’s traditionally used, perovskite could eventually be layered on top of existing solar panels to boost efficiency, or be integrated with glass to make building windows that also generate power.

“We will be able to take solar power to the next level,” said Kim Dohyung, principal researcher on a perovskite project team at Korea Electric Power Corp., one of several companies experimenting with the material. “Ultimately, this new technology will enable us to make a huge contribution in lowering greenhouse gas emissions.”

Adoption of perovskite has previously been challenged by costs and technical issues that prevented commercial-scale production. There are now signs that’s changing: Wuxi UtmoLight Technology Co. in May announced plans to start a pilot line by October with mass production beginning in 2023.

Solar panels typically get their power from the side that faces the sun, but can also make use of the small amount of light that reflects back off the ground. Bi-facial panels started to gain in popularity in 2019, with producers seeking to capture the extra increments of electricity by replacing opaque backing material with specialist glass. They were also temporarily boosted by a since-closed loophole in U.S. law that exempted them from tariffs on Chinese products.

The trend caught solar glass suppliers off-guard and briefly caused prices for the material to soar. Late last year, China loosened regulations around glass manufacturing capacity, and that should prepare the ground for more widespread adoption of the two-sided solar technology.

Another change that can deliver an increase in power is shifting from positively charged silicon material for solar panels to negatively charged, or n-type, products.

N-type material is made by doping polysilicon with a small amount of an element with an extra electron like phosphorous. It’s more expensive, but can be as much as 3.5% more powerful than the material that currently dominates. The products are expected to begin taking market share in 2024 and be the dominant material by 2028, according to PV-Tech.

In the solar supply chain, ultra-refined polysilicon is shaped into rectangular ingots, which are in turn sliced into ultra-thin squares known as wafers. Those wafers are wired into cells and pieced together to form solar panels.

For most of the 2010s, the standard solar wafer was a 156-millimeter (6.14 inches) square of polysilicon, about the size of the front of a CD case. Now, companies are making the squares bigger to boost efficiency and reduce manufacturing costs. Producers are pushing 182- and 210-millimeter wafers, and the larger sizes will grow from about 19% of the market share this year to more than half by 2023, according to Wood Mackenzie’s Sun.

The factories that wire wafers into cells — which convert electrons excited by photons of light into electricity — are adding new capacity for designs like heterojunction or tunnel‐oxide passivated contact cells. While more expensive to make, those structures allow the electrons to keep bouncing around for longer, increasing the amount of power they generate.

— With assistance by Heesu Lee

By:

Source: Solar Power Is Dirt-Cheap and About to Get Even More Powerful – Bloomberg

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Critics:

Solar power is the conversion of energy from sunlight into electricity, either directly using photovoltaics (PV), indirectly using concentrated solar power, or a combination. Concentrated solar power systems use lenses or mirrors and solar tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight into a small beam. Photovoltaic cells convert light into an electric current using the photovoltaic effect.

Photovoltaics were initially solely used as a source of electricity for small and medium-sized applications, from the calculator powered by a single solar cell to remote homes powered by an off-grid rooftop PV system. Commercial concentrated solar power plants were first developed in the 1980s.

As the cost of solar electricity has fallen, the number of grid-connected solar PV systems has grown into the millions and gigawatt-scale photovoltaic power stations are being built. Solar PV is rapidly becoming an inexpensive, low-carbon technology to harness renewable energy from the Sun. The current largest photovoltaic power station in the world is the Pavagada Solar Park, Karnataka, India with a generation capacity of 2050 MW.

The International Energy Agency projected in 2014 that under its “high renewables” scenario, by 2050, solar photovoltaics and concentrated solar power would contribute about 16 and 11 percent, respectively, of worldwide electricity consumption, and solar would be the world’s largest source of electricity. Most solar installations would be in China and India.[3] In 2019, solar power generated 2.7% of the world’s electricity, growing over 24% from the previous year. As of October 2020, the unsubsidised levelised cost of electricity for utility-scale solar power is around $36/MWh.

One issue that has often raised concerns is the use of cadmium (Cd), a toxic heavy metal that has the tendency to accumulate in ecological food chains. It is used as semiconductor component in CdTe solar cells and as a buffer layer for certain CIGS cells in the form of cadmium sulfide. The amount of cadmium used in thin-film solar cells is relatively small (5–10 g/m2) and with proper recycling and emission control techniques in place the cadmium emissions from module production can be almost zero.

Current PV technologies lead to cadmium emissions of 0.3–0.9 microgram/kWh over the whole life-cycle.[136] Most of these emissions arise through the use of coal power for the manufacturing of the modules, and coal and lignite combustion leads to much higher emissions of cadmium. Life-cycle cadmium emissions from coal is 3.1 microgram/kWh, lignite 6.2, and natural gas 0.2 microgram/kWh.

References

 

 

 

China’s Xtep Closes At New Record On Hillhouse Investment; Ding Clan’s Fortune Tops $2 Bln

Xtep

Shares in China sportswear supplier Xtep ended the week at a new record high today after the company announced investment hook-ups with China private equity firm Hillhouse Capital Management, one of China’s largest private equity firms.

Xtep’s Hong Kong-traded shares rose 5.6% to HK$13.16 today; they’ve more than doubled since mid-May.

Xtep said it would raise HK$500 million from the sale to Hillhouse of bonds that can be converted into its own underlying shares. In addition, subsidiary Xtep Global raised $65 million from Hillhouse from the sale of bonds that can be converted into that unit’s shares. (See announcements here and here.) Funds will help boost sales of Xtep-owned brands.

The doubling of Xtep’s stock price has lifted the fortune of company’s controlling Ding family to $2.3 billion.  Trusts held by chairman Ding Shui Bo, executive director Ding Mei Qing (his sister) and executive director Ding Ming Zhong (his brother) collectively own 1.3 billion shares that were worth $2.2 billion today. Xtep’s annual report doesn’t give a clear down of the ownership split among them. Shui Bo has another 60.7 million shares worth another $103 million.

Spending on sportswear in China has picked up amid a continuing economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. Xtep, whose rivals include Anta and Nike, said in April first-quarter sales had a mid-50% increase compared with a year earlier. Nike has faced backlash in China after a statement in March expressed concern about alleged forced labor practices its Xinjiang region.

Hillhouse is led by billionaire Zhang Lei, who is worth $3 billion today on the Forbes Real-Time Billionaires List.

See related story:

Hong Kong Is Gaining On The U.S. As An Alternative For Tech Listings

@rflannerychina

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I’m a senior editor and the Shanghai bureau chief of Forbes magazine. Now in my 20th year at Forbes, I compile the Forbes China Rich List. I was previously a correspondent for Bloomberg News in Taipei and Shanghai and for the Asian Wall Street Journal in Taipei. I’m a Massachusetts native, fluent Mandarin speaker, and hold degrees from the University of Vermont and the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Source: China’s Xtep Closes At New Record On Hillhouse Investment; Ding Clan’s Fortune Tops $2 Bln

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Critics:

Xtep International Holdings Limited (SEHK stock code: 1368) is a Chinese manufacturing company of sports equipment based in Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong.[2] Established in 2001, the company was listed on the Main Board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on 3 June 2008.[3]

Xtep engages mainly in the design, development, manufacturing, sales, marketing and brand management of sports equipment, including footwear, apparel, and accessories. Xtep is a leading professional sports brand with an extensive distribution network of over 6,300 stores covering 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities across the PRC and overseas.

In 2019, Xtep has further diversified its brand portfolio which now includes four internationally brands, namely K-Swiss, Palladium, Saucony and Merrell. Xtep is a constituent of the MSCI China Small Cap Index, Hang Seng Composite Index Series and Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect.

In August 2019, Xtep signed on famous Asian basketball player Jeremy Lin as spokesperson, marking its foray into the basketball business realm. Xtep also unveiled its “Basketball Product Co-Creation Plan” to come up with basketball products via product co-creation.

After previously supplying then-Premier League side Birmingham City and La Liga side Villarreal in 2010 and 2014 respectively, Xtep left the major football scene in 2017 and focused on other sports, mainly in running. In mid-2018, Xtep returned again to the football scene by signing a contract with Saudi Professional League side Al-Shabab ahead of the 2018–19 season in a reported three-year contract. On 13 October 2019, Egyptian Premier League side Al Ittihad Alexandria announced Xtep as their new official kit supplier until 2022, replacing German company Uhlsport.

References

  1. “الاتحاد السكندري يُعلن عن الزى الجديد .. و يتعاقد حصرياً مع شركة سعودية للملابس الرياضية” [Al Ittihad Alexandria reveals new kits for the 2019–20 as they announce new deal with Chinese-Saudi Arabian company Xtep]. Al Ittihad Alexandria Club official website. 13 October 2019. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  1. Xtep 2019 Interim Report [2019-08-21]
  2. XTEP INT’L Forms JV to Run Merrell, Saucony Brands – AASTOCKS [2019-03-04]
  3. Xtep buys E-Land Footwear to develop series – The Standard [2019-05-03]
  4. Xtep expands its sportswear portfolio into basketball shoes and apparel, signing on star Jeremy Lin as brand spokesman – South China Morning Post [2019-08-09]

With Toyota’s Help, This Secretive Entrepreneur May Finally Give Us Flying Cars

JoeBen Bevirt first thought about building an airplane that could take off and land like a helicopter in second grade while trudging up the 4.5-mile road to his family’s home in an off-grid hippie settlement among the redwoods in Northern California. “It was a lonnnnng hill,” Bevirt says, laughing. “It made me dream about a better way.” 

Four decades later, Bevirt is closing in on that goal. On a ranch outside Santa Cruz, the surfing mecca near where he grew up, Bevirt has secretively developed an electric airplane with six tilting propellers that he says can carry a pilot and four passengers 150 miles at up to 200 miles per hour, while being quiet enough to disappear among the hum of city life. He envisions the as-yet-unnamed aircraft, which experts speculate could cost $400,000 to $1.5 million to manufacture, as the foundation for a massive rooftop-to-rooftop air-taxi network—one he plans to build and run himself. His aspiration is to free urbanites from snarled roads and save a billion people an hour a day at the same price (he hopes) as an UberX ride, or roughly $2.50 a mile. 

It sounds crazy, but Bevirt, 47, has some powerful believers. Toyota pumped roughly $400 million into his Joby Aviation in January, joining investors including Laurene Powell Jobs’ Emerson Collective and Jeff Skoll’s Capricorn Investment Group, the latter of which was also an early Tesla backer. In all, Joby has raised $745 million, most recently at a valuation of $2.6 billion. Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda told Bevirt he hopes, through Joby, to realize the flying-car dreams of his grandfather Kiichiro, Toyota Motors’ founder, who developed aircraft before World War II. Toyota engineers are refining components of Joby’s aircraft to make it easier to build on a mass scale more akin to the auto industry than aviation, and helping Bevirt set up a factory in Monterey County where he plans to produce thousands of aircraft a year.

Joby is the best-funded and most valuable of an explosion of startups leveraging advances in batteries and electric motors to try to wean aviation off fossil fuels and create new types of aircraft, including autonomous ones, to serve as air taxis. No one knows how big the industry could get—or if it will get off the ground at all—but Wall Street is spitballing some big numbers. One report from Morgan Stanley estimates the category could generate $674 billion a year in fares worldwide by 2040. 

“If we can fly, we can turn our streets into parks and fundamentally make our cities much nicer places to live in,” Bevirt says. 

Dreamers have been trying (and failing) to build flying cars for 100 years. Skeptics think Joby and its competitors are still at least a decade too early: Today’s best batteries pack 14 times less usable energy by weight than jet fuel. Given how much brute power is needed to propel an aircraft straight up, they say, until batteries improve, electric air taxis will have too little range and carrying capacity to make business sense. Then there’s the tough task of convincing regulators they’ll be safe to fly. 

Bevirt says he can produce a viable, safe aircraft now with top-of-the-line lithium-ion battery cells that currently power electric cars. And Joby is the only startup to commit to Uber’s ambitious timeline of launching an urban air-taxi service in 2023. Bevirt says he’s on track to win safety certification from the Federal Aviation Administration that year, which would likely make Joby the first electric air-taxi maker to clear that daunting hurdle. 

Bevirt was raised in a back-to-the-land community in which he got an early education in engineering, helping fix farm equipment and building homes alongside his father, Ron Bevirt, who was one of the LSD-tripping Merry Pranksters back in the 1960s. (JoeBen is named after a character in Sometimes a Great Notion, written by Pranksters ringleader Ken Kesey, famous for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

As an adult, Bevirt re-created that community with a decidedly capitalistic twist on his secluded 440 acres of woodlands and meadows overlooking the Pacific. The sprawling property, which he purchased with the proceeds from selling earlier businesses—Velocity11, which built liquid-handling robots used for testing potential drugs, and the company behind GorillaPod, a flexible camera tripod—includes a former quarry where Bevirt conducted early test flights. Employees have lived in small cottages on the property and built houses nearby. Before locking in on developing an aircraft, he incubated other startups there, with everyone working together in a cavernous barn. Bevirt started an organic farm to feed them, with chickens and bees yielding eggs and honey. 

The environment bred a tight-knit team – some Joby Aviation staffers start their day surfing together and end it with pizza parties around an outdoor oven. Group meetings are punctuated by choruses of “woots.”

“It’s a high-fiving, hugging culture, and that really flows from JoeBen,” says Jim Adler, managing director at Toyota AI Ventures, who convinced his colleagues to invest in Joby in 2017. “He’s high-energy, and it’s contagious.” 

While Joby is participating in Uber’s aerial ride-sharing plans, a big part of Bevirt’s business model involves running his own ride-sharing network. That helped attract investors. “If it was just a vehicle, I would not have been moved to invest if there wasn’t a service wrapped around it,” Adler says. 

Building the required landing pads, booking software and other infrastructure, though, will require a lot more cash—and patience—from investors. Joby has no plans to sell its aircraft outside of building its own fleet, further delaying the day when investors can recoup the billions that will likely be needed to scale up. 

Joby’s five-seat design boosts its revenue potential for ride sharing compared to the smaller, more mechanically simple two-seat multicopters being developed by Germany’s Volocopter and China’s EHang. The downside of Joby’s size: weight. A big part of that heft comes from the batteries, and it’s unclear if they’ll have enough juice to do the job, according to modeling by the lab of Carnegie Mellon battery expert Venkat Viswanathan, based on aircraft specs Bevirt shared with Forbes. 

For Joby to achieve the 150-mile range it says the 4,800-pound gross weight aircraft is capable of (but has yet to achieve in flight testing), plus FAA-required reserves, Viswanathan’s team estimates it needs a 2,200-pound battery pack. Subtracting 1,000 pounds for five passengers leaves only 1,600 pounds for the airframe, seats and avionics—a slim 33% of gross weight. That’s 35% lower than any certified production airplane. The upshot: Either Joby has built an unprecedentedly light and efficient airframe, as Bevirt maintains, or its range will turn out to be lower. (For more details on Joby’s batteries, click here.) Another concern: Getting approval from the FAA might require safety tweaks that weigh it down. 

“What we’re doing, it’s an insanely hard undertaking,” Bevirt says. “Not only the technical challenge of the aircraft [but] then changing the way everyone on Earth moves around on a daily basis.”  

See also: ‘Has Joby Cracked The Power Problem To Make Electric Air Taxis Work?’

Get Forbes’ daily top headlines straight to your inbox for news on the world’s most important entrepreneurs and superstars, expert career advice, and success secrets.

Joby’s five-seat design boosts its revenue potential for ride sharing compared to the smaller, more mechanically simple two-seat multicopters being developed by Germany’s Volocopter and China’s EHang. The downside of Joby’s size: weight. A big part of that heft comes from the batteries, and it’s unclear if they’ll have enough juice to do the job, according to modeling by the lab of Carnegie Mellon battery expert Venkat Viswanathan, based on aircraft specs Bevirt shared with Forbes. 

For Joby to achieve the 150-mile range it says the 4,800-pound gross weight aircraft is capable of (but has yet to achieve in flight testing), plus FAA-required reserves, Viswanathan’s team estimates it needs a 2,200-pound battery pack. Subtracting 1,000 pounds for five passengers leaves only 1,600 pounds for the airframe, seats and avionics—a slim 33% of gross weight. That’s 35% lower than any certified production airplane. The upshot: Either Joby has built an unprecedentedly light and efficient airframe, as Bevirt maintains, or its range will turn out to be lower. (For more details on Joby’s batteries, click here.) Another concern: Getting approval from the FAA might require safety tweaks that weigh it down. 

“What we’re doing, it’s an insanely hard undertaking,” Bevirt says. “Not only the technical challenge of the aircraft [but] then changing the way everyone on Earth moves around on a daily basis.”  

See also: ‘Has Joby Cracked The Power Problem To Make Electric Air Taxis Work?’

Get Forbes’ daily top headlines straight to your inbox for news on the world’s most important entrepreneurs and superstars, expert career advice, and success secrets.Jeremy Bogaisky

I help direct our coverage of autos, energy and manufacturing, and write about aerospace and defense. Send tips to jbogaisky[at]forbes.com

Joby’s five-seat design boosts its revenue potential for ride sharing compared to the smaller, more mechanically simple two-seat multicopters being developed by Germany’s Volocopter and China’s EHang. The downside of Joby’s size: weight. A big part of that heft comes from the batteries, and it’s unclear if they’ll have enough juice to do the job, according to modeling by the lab of Carnegie Mellon battery expert Venkat Viswanathan, based on aircraft specs Bevirt shared with Forbes. 

For Joby to achieve the 150-mile range it says the 4,800-pound gross weight aircraft is capable of (but has yet to achieve in flight testing), plus FAA-required reserves, Viswanathan’s team estimates it needs a 2,200-pound battery pack. Subtracting 1,000 pounds for five passengers leaves only 1,600 pounds for the airframe, seats and avionics—a slim 33% of gross weight. That’s 35% lower than any certified production airplane. The upshot: Either Joby has built an unprecedentedly light and efficient airframe, as Bevirt maintains, or its range will turn out to be lower. (For more details on Joby’s batteries, click here.) Another concern: Getting approval from the FAA might require safety tweaks that weigh it down. 

“What we’re doing, it’s an insanely hard undertaking,” Bevirt says. “Not only the technical challenge of the aircraft [but] then changing the way everyone on Earth moves around on a daily basis.”  

See also: ‘Has Joby Cracked The Power Problem To Make Electric Air Taxis Work?’

Get Forbes’ daily top headlines straight to your inbox for news on the world’s most important entrepreneurs and superstars, expert career advice, and success secrets.Jeremy Bogaisky

I help direct our coverage of autos, energy and manufacturing, and write about aerospace and defense. Send tips to jbogaisky[at]forbes.com

Jeremy Bogaisky

I help direct our coverage of autos, energy and manufacturing, and write about aerospace and defense. Send tips to jbogaisky[at]forbes.com

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Santa Cruz Works

JoeBen Bevirt from Joby Aviation at The Second Annual – Titans of Tech on Jan. 25, 2018. http://santacruzworks.orghttp://www.jobyaviation.com Filmed by Bitframe Media – https://www.bitframemedia.com

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