Outside North America, this little blue pill of an A-segment car is known as the Daewoo Matiz Creative. It may look an obsolete computer peripheral (or a pregnant roller skate), but GM claims that the Chevrolet Spark has more torque than a Ferrari 458 Italia. As a self-described technology lover, and card-carrying resident of the Left Coast, I had to check it out.
Let’s face it, hybrids are boring. They are slow, complicated, come with hard tires and soft suspensions, sloppy handling, and they look weird. We’ve heard the story before: this hybrid is different. First Lexus gave us the GS and RX hybrids claiming V8 performance with V6 fuel economy, but the result was more like V6 performance with V6 economy, not really a great sales pitch. Still, hybrids sell well and with Infiniti marching towards mainstream luxury success they “need” a hybrid. Of course, with Infiniti aiming to be the “Japanese BMW”, performance is obviously a prime concern, so the claim from Infiniti that the M35h will deliver “V8 performance and four-cylinder economy” was expected. But is it another case of leather clad disappointment? Let’s find out.
What about battery production? It’s one of the most popular criticisms of the green halo surrounding battery-electric vehicles, and one that’s widely circulated in anti-EV circles. Battery production, it is argued, requires the mining, transportation and processing of minerals which puts EVs at an environmental disadvantage compared to ICE vehicles. Needless to say, quantifying the impacts of ICE and electric drivetrain production is extremely difficult, due to the complexity and global supply chains required to produce both (not to mention the inherent difficulty of quantifying environmental impacts). But a study by the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology [via Green Car Congress] took on just that question, and indicates that
the impact of a Li-ion battery used in BEVs for transport service is relatively small. In contrast, it is the operation phase that remains the dominant contributor to the environmental burden caused by transport service as long as the electricity for the BEV is not produced by renewable hydropower.
Some folks are convinced that EVs are taking over the world. So convinced they are that they are already publicly worried about peak Lithium. Lithium is found in unstable places. An internal Pentagon memo states that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” writes the New York Times. Then there are distressing news that countries like Chile, Bolivia and China sit on piles of lithium. Should we be worried? Nein, says a study from Germany. (Read More…)
If you want to play the commodities, forget pork bellies, soybeans or gold. Get into lithium. Not to treat the bipolar disorder exposure to the commodities market could trigger. Lithium to power cars. The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry figures that global lithium demand will more than triple from about 92,000 tons in 2010 to 310,000 tons in 2020. Who’s gobbling up the stuff? The automobile industry is expected to use 60 percent of the global lithium supply in 2020, up from less than 5 percent this year. No wonder there is a run on the material. (Read More…)
After years of spurning lithium ion batteries in favor of Nickel metal hydride cells, it seems Toyota might changing their mind. The Wall Street Journal reports that Toyota Tsusho Corp, which is 21.8% owned by Toyota Motor Corp., has secured the loans it needed from the Japanese government to buy a stake in a lithium project in Northern Argentina. The article states that “people with knowledge of the matter” (read in to that what you will), values Toyota Tsusho’s investment somewhere between $100 million and $200 million.