From The Mobilist Inbox This Week

Driverless in Beijing, 5th U.S. gigafactory, Lithium Triangle, autonomous dreams

Each Wednesday, The Mobilist highlights reader articles on Medium, comments, and updates.

Autonomous testing in Beijing: A major principle that has put China ahead of the West in leading aspects of electric car batteries is its willingness to assume more risks. Now it appears to be taking the same attitude toward self-driving vehicles. The blogger Moneyball, whom we have previously featured in Inbox, tweets: “Beijing to open 143 kilometers of highways/ring roads for self-driving vehicle tests, mulls removing safety drivers on certain sections by year end, to allow autonomous delivery vehicle tests amid plans to replace electric 3-/4-wheelers.”

Look for the first daring leap into Level 4 autonomy in Beijing — not soon, but perhaps first.

A fifth U.S. battery gigafactory? Rivian, the U.S. electric pickup truck maker, said this week that its batteries will be made by Samsung, the third big South Korean manufacturer in addition to LG Chem and SK Innovation. Simon Moores, CEO at Benchmark Mineral, sees that as a signal that Samsung will build a U.S. gigafactory. If he’s right, it would be the fifth in the country, which is in a long-shot attempt to catch up to Europe and China.

More from the Lithium Triangle: Last week, I wrote about Argentina’s campaign to attract investment in its lithium economy. I got this response from Mobilist reader Sergio Baron:

“You have spoken with the minister of a populist government who is very well known to speak half-truths. Argentina is a de-industrialized country with over a 50-year deterioration in the conditions for doing business. That is why only the Chinese want to do business with the government. On the other side, Argentina has two things: natural resources and high-value lithium scientific talent. So far, our company (Dynami Battery Corp) is the only one in Argentina and the whole lithium region doing R&D and innovation in lithium battery tech. … Needless to say, we receive little help from the Argentine government, which has created a strong anti-startup sentiment in the country.”

Driverless dreams: Reader Ken Singer writes, “Having just bought a Camry Hybrid and being 72, I’m looking forward to my next (perhaps last) car being an EV with self-driving capabilities. Is that too much to ask?” Ken, if you are talking full, Level 5 autonomy, and want to do more than drive in a circuit around downtown Phoenix, yes you are probably asking too much.

Editor at Large, Medium, covering the turbulence all around us, electric vehicles, batteries, social trends. Writing The Mobilist. Ex-Axios, Quartz, WSJ, NYT.

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