From The Mobilist Inbox This Week

EV charging, the Return of LFP, and the Lancia Fulvia

Photo: Joanna Kosinska/Unsplash

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

The future of charging prices: Last week, I wrote that charging your electric vehicle is cheap now, but that in a few years’ time, it won’t be. Once EVs achieve cost parity with gasoline-propelled vehicles, likely about mid-decade, I argued, the clock will start ticking for cheap electricity. Eventually, you’ll be paying the equivalent of a gasoline fill-up. I invoked the rule of hamburgers to explain why. If you want to know what that is, read the piece.

I got massive pushback. Among those disputing the thesis was Chris Nelder, a friend and manager of carbon-free mobility at the Rocky Mountain Institute. “I have not heard this theory that [charging costs] could rise to be competitive with gasoline until I read your article, and I don’t buy it,” Nelder emailed to say and recommended this episode from his podcast (which I also highly recommend). “Pricing for public charging is driven by the costs incurred by charging network operators and by what the market will bear, with a deliberate effort to undercut the price of gasoline.”

Is LFP back? The lithium-iron-phosphate cathode was invented in 1996 — where else? — in the lab of John Goodenough, the Nobel laureate impresario responsible for three of the biggest commercial battery formulations of our time. But LFP, as it’s known for short, went bad along the way: It was safe and cheap, but lacked the energy umph of rival formulations NMC and NCA, and then suffered a setback when its chief American champion — a company called A123 — went bankrupt in 2012.

But now its name keeps cropping up. Elon Musk is using LFP in his Model 3s in China. Also in China, Guoxuan High-Tech, a battery manufacturer, this week reported outsize performance for an LFP cell. And in Nature Energy, Penn State professor Chao-Yang Wang described an LFP model that could go 200 miles on a charge and cost just $3,500; Eric Rountree describes the same concept in a piece at Medium.

A paeon to Lancia: Fiat wanted to kill the Lancia Fulvia roadster, but Italians won’t let it die. Mobilist reader Matteo Licata explains why.

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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