Tag: Cobalt

By on December 6, 2018

2016 Ford Focus EV Charging Cable in Trunk, Image: © 2016 Jeff Voth/The Truth About Cars

The Democratic Republic of Congo has declared cobalt a “strategic” substance, nearly tripling the royalty rate miners will have to pay on it. According to a governmental decree, miners will now pay 10 percent in royalties to extract the element.

While we’ve previously warned of the likelihood of a global supply shortage elevating the price of batteries, it seems this will occur only after the Congo taxes the crap out of it. This is the second time cobalt has seen a royalty hike since June, when the region increased the previous 2 percent royalty to 3.5 percent.

Besides the looming prospect of a reversal in the falling price of EV batteries, a spike in the price of cobalt is already ruffling some feathers.  (Read More…)

By on November 6, 2018

CCS Charging pic

While electric vehicles get better every year, they remain beholden to battery technology. This results in a few inherent shortcomings – the most noteworthy being limited range and extended downtime while charging. While this has helped throw a wet blanket EV adoption, it isn’t the technology’s only fault. Modern car batteries are also dependent on relatively rare metals that are both morally contentious and prohibitively expensive to procure.

Cobalt, mined almost exclusively in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and often by children, is likely the worst offender. Prices skyrocketed after EV manufacturing went mainstream, and analysts have long predicted a shortage that could severely impact the long-term popularity of zero-emission vehicles. Fortunately, a new way to build batteries may be on the horizon, though this particular application could create as many issues as it solves – since it involves removing an element that’s paramount to a battery’s long-term stability.  (Read More…)

By on May 21, 2018

LG Chem Electric Vehicle Battery Production

As we hurl ourselves into the the glistening, unknown future, we are continuously confronted with new obstacles. While we’re good at coming up with solutions to new problems, there are plenty of important questions left hanging in the air as technology pushes us onward. Why do we keep working longer hours as more things become automated? How to we ensure that sentient machines do not decide to kill us? Why are there still so many people that use the speaker function on their phones in public places?

In the automotive realm, autonomous driving and battery technology are the golden geese of progress right now. While driving aids are becoming ever-more impressive, truly self-driving cars are a little further out than most manufacturers would like to admit. Meanwhile, electric automobiles are already here and tangible as hell. You could have one tomorrow if you wanted.

The issues associated with autonomous vehicles are beyond complex. In addition to deciding how to develop the technology effectively, a myriad of questions exist as to the legal ramifications of its implementation and how its very existence could change society. Electric cars are more straightforward, and the problems they face are predominantly logistics oriented. But they’re about to face a monumental hurdle in a few years.  (Read More…)

By on February 20, 2018

Child Labor

Electric cars have been praised as the future savior of mankind for quite some time now, but only in the last few years have mainstream automakers promised to drive headlong into EV production. Governments around the globe encourage the transition. The reality of battery production isn’t so clear-cut, however. Unless you make your daily commute in a Mack truck, odds are good that swapping to a sparkly new four-door with a lithium-ion battery isn’t going to be better for the environment.

Currently, it takes substantially more energy to produce an electric car than a conventional internal-combustion model. EVs sourcing their energy from fossil fuel-burning power plants aren’t much better for the environment than something that runs off pump gas. In addition to that, defunct batteries have to be recycled or they become environmental hazards — and no one has quite figured out the best way to do that yet.

There’s also the issue of sourcing the materials for those batteries. EV cells need scarce precious metals like nickel and cobalt. Those materials take a lot of energy to harvest and have, unfortunately, led to an increase in child labor rates in Africa.  (Read More…)

By on October 30, 2017

2006 Chevrolet Cobalt SS in Wisconsin wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
One thing about visiting wrecking yards in the Upper Midwest is that I know I’ll see interesting late-model General Motors cars.

I couldn’t find the elusive junkyard Saturn Ion Redline during my trip to Wisconsin in August, but I did find its Chevrolet cousin: a Chevrolet Cobalt SS, spotted in a Green Bay self-service yard. (Read More…)

By on October 15, 2015

2014-Chevrolet-CruzeRS-010-medium

There was a time when the word ‘cockroach’ was the best way to describe any old Chevy compact.

(Read More…)

By on September 17, 2015

General Motors Renaissance Center HQ

Two sources have told Reuters that the government will levy a $900 million fine on General Motors for its failure to recall and subsequent attempts to cover-up of faulty ignition switches linked to at least 124 deaths.

Criminal charges will be filed against GM for its role in hiding the defect from regulators, but will defer prosecution while the automaker complies with its penalty. The agreement is expected to be announced Thursday.

The massive fine is smaller than the $1.2 billion Toyota paid in March 2014 for its role in concealing that its cars could accelerate suddenly.   (Read More…)

By on September 1, 2015

 

TTAC commentator Anomaly149 writes:

Sajeev, here’s one for you:

I have a CVT-equipped 2004 Saturn Ion Quad Coupe with ~140,000 miles. While you can write a book on the things that are weird with the car (key won’t release from cylinder sometimes unless you push this button inside the steering column, sometimes the neutral safety switch actuator machine-guns when stopped at a stoplight, it eats front sway links like it’s a contest, etc.), so far it’s been reliable and efficient. (Read More…)

By on January 23, 2015

 

A Captiva audience?

Aside from the car-less world of cruise/train travel, my post-CCS Design vacations involve seeing an American on the road only to feel their styling and (more importantly) proportioning are sleeker and prettier. Douchey perhaps, but it’s my benign contribution to American Exceptionalism.

Even if this “proper” Chevy is a German Opel (sold alongside many a Korean Daewoo) introduced in Frankfurt as the Antara GTC.  Harley Earl may spin in his perfectly-proportioned grave…but I digress. (Read More…)

By on December 3, 2014

chevy_HHR_2008_08

Do you or yours happen to own one of the models affected by the February 2014 General Motors ignition switch recall? The automaker finally has a replacement ready at your convenience.

(Read More…)

By on August 5, 2014

2009 Chevrolet Cobalt Kia Store

Are your children about to start college? Maybe it’s their senior year in high school? Looking for a cheap vehicle and don’t mind if it’s been recalled to death by its automaker? Then a vehicle caught up in the General Motors recall parade might be the one, as prices have fallen hard as of late.

(Read More…)

By on August 1, 2014

RenCen1

Several years prior to the February 2014 General Motors ignition switch recall, car rental companies did their best to get the automaker’s attention regarding a series of accidents and fatalities linked to the latter’s low-cost fleet offerings.

(Read More…)

By on April 21, 2014

cobalt report 19

Since arriving at TTAC, I have been continually challenged and impressed by the B&B. The knowledge, wisdom, and rather civil discourse that arrives in response to the so-called journalism I produce is awe inspiring, often. Thank you, B&B. I’ve also been tasked with handling the GM recall story, given my technical background and my familiarity with GM’s processes at the dealer level – but today, I want to turn the floor over to you.

(Read More…)

By on April 17, 2014

 

DSC_9144
The House Energy & Commerce Committee recently released the documents GM submitted for investigation, which includes emails and internal reports documenting GM’s response to reports of their early Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion models inadvertently shutting the car “off” while driving due to an ignition cylinder that was, simply, too easy to turn out of the “run” position; and in the case of several accidents, allowed the ignition cylinder to rotate out of the run condition before or during accidents, causing the airbags to not deploy when required.

The documents, totaling 619 pages (some with repeat info), reveal just how deep seated “old GM” was in their cost cutting ways (Driving down supplier costs to the point of sacrificing quality, admittedly poorly designed ignition cylinder, and removing internal quality control on the parts), and just how blind sided “new GM” was during their investigations. It also confirms how suspended engineers Ray DeGiorgio and Gary Altman were involved in the ignition switch response, and fuzzy problem solving. Full text and an analysis of key documents below. (Read More…)

By on March 14, 2014

DSC_9022
General Motors released their updated chronology to the recall effecting the 2007 and earlier Chevrolet Cobalt and HHR; Pontiac G5 and Solstice; and Saturn Ion and Sky. Most of the new chronology works just to update the document with the expanded recall, but there’s a key update:

During the Saturn Ion development in 2001, a preproduction model had  an ignition cylinder problem that was caused by, you guessed it, “low detent plunger force,” the result being that it takes a low amount of effort to knock the key out of the “run” position.

(Read More…)

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