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The Mobilist
The future of batteries, electric cars, and driverless vehicles. A new blog from Medium.

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Just as with “student driver” signs, pedestrians should know when an AI is at the wheel

When you’re a student driver, you’re a little dangerous behind the wheel. You don’t quite know how to control the vehicle.

Society has a vested interest in helping you learn to drive. So that means letting you take the wheel on city streets.

Risky, but over the years, US states have figured out some reasonable compromises. In places like New York State, driving schools have to outfit their cars with a dual-control brake, so the instructor can stop the car. And — crucially — the cars must sport a “student driver” sign, so everyone who sees it knows: Hey, be…


Why even Elon Musk has been forced to admit that navigating streets is hard

“MINI Cooper” by Rodrigo Canisella Fávero

A car is a just a slow-moving bullet with a stereo system.

When we drive a car, we typically think our main task is navigating from point A to point B. But mostly what we’re doing is trying to keep from killing someone. That is Job One. Everything else is secondary. If you were to get into a car and fail to get from point A to point B, that would suck. But if you were to kill someone, that would be orders of magnitude worse.

So 99% of what you’re doing when you’re behind the wheel of a car…


The stakes are so high that SK innovation will be forced to settle

The ID.4, VW’s answer to Tesla’s popular Model Y. Photo: Jens Schlueter/Getty

This is a story of cutthroat technological war, unfathomable corporate animus, a new kind of economic nationalism, and great power competition between the two most powerful leaders in the world. The likelihood is that the rare drama will end in a settlement that could lay low one of South Korea’s most powerful companies. But before then, it is a nerve-wracking spectacle that reflects the newfound tension rife in international batteries and electric cars.

In a case involving two relatively unknown South Korean companies, the International Trade Commission (ITC) , on Wednesday, barred the import of batteries meant to power the…


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

Envelopes of different sizes
Envelopes of different sizes
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…


It’s standard economics — a product’s price usually rises to the level of its closest rival

Electric car charging station sign
Electric car charging station sign
Photo: Karol Serewis/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

In his confirmation hearing yesterday, Pete Buttigieg, the nominee to be transportation secretary, reiterated a promise that President Joe Biden made again and again on the campaign trail: The administration will seek funding to build a half-million electric vehicle (EV) chargers by 2030.

But if forecasts for EV demand are borne out, the U.S. will need a lot more charging points. In a report earlier this month, McKinsey puts the required number at five to nine million by 2025 and double or triple those figures by 2030. …


Tesla competitors are fighting the last war and missing the hot middle market

An aerial view of 16 blue cars on yellow background.
An aerial view of 16 blue cars on yellow background.
Image: Bernhard Lang/Stone/Getty

The coming two or three years will finally bring rich pickings for anyone interested in checking out an electric vehicle. If announced debuts go as planned, there will be the $75,000 Rivian R1T pickup, the $70,000 Jaguar E-Pace SUV, and the $66,000 Audi e-tron, not to mention the $77,000 Lucid Air and the $150,000 Porsche Taycan.

Setting aside the relative virtues of each vehicle, the thread running through the group is their eye-popping sticker price, a stratum of the market where sales are typically in the hundreds or low single-digit thousands per year. Which is to say that, nine years…


If the U.S. wants to win the electric car war, it needs to aggressively build out a charging network

A woman’s car being filled up at a petrol station in 1929.
A woman’s car being filled up at a petrol station in 1929.
Photo: Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Stringer/Getty Images

If you’re the average American, there is one thing you are generally unworried about: finding gasoline. You live within a mile or two of one or more of the country’s 115,000 gas stations. You sleep soundly knowing that as sure as the sun comes up in the morning, even if your car is empty, you can whip into your neighborhood 24-hour gas station, pump your 15 or so gallons in three or four minutes, and be good for the next 400 to 450 miles.

So it has been since the 1880s if you happen to be from Germany, and in…


After decades of false starts, the moment has finally arrived

An illustrated collage with an electric vehicle, a battery, a charge symbol, a lightbulb, and more.
An illustrated collage with an electric vehicle, a battery, a charge symbol, a lightbulb, and more.
Illustration: James Marshall

Batteries incensed Thomas Edison, and not just batteries, but battery makers. In a much-quoted 1883 interview, Edison griped about his unsuccessful efforts to find a battery that would hold a charge long enough to be of practical use in an electric vehicle. For decades beyond — into the next century — Edison would continue his quest, but failed every time, and his friend Henry Ford ended up the winner, earning a fortune with his combustion-propelled Model T.

Always, the problem was the same — electricity simply wouldn’t stay reliably stored, Edison said, and those who told you differently were simply…

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The future of batteries, electric cars, and driverless vehicles. A new blog from Medium.

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