Wednesday, 28 February 2018

How Green Is Your Electric Car?

(Bloomberg)The biggest selling point of the electric car has long been the fact that it’s emissions-free. Turns out that’s not exactly true.
Trading in your gasoline-guzzling car for an electric vehicle is a lot like shifting the emissions from an exhaust pipe to a power plant. EVs run off electricity, and that electricity — unless you’re lucky enough to live in a place like Norway — is coming from a mix of emissions-intensive fossil fuels, nuclear and, to a lesser extent, renewable energy. 
So exactly how green your EV is depends on where you’re plugging it in. An electric car in Norway is probably the closest thing you’ll get to a true zero-emissions vehicle—because the European country draws almost all of its electricity from hydropower plants.
But most of the world’s biggest EV markets rely largely on fossil fuels. China, by far and away the largest market for electric vehicles, depends on emissions-intensive coal. America’s hooked on natural gas. The U.K. and France benefit from emissions-free nuclear power.
And that’s just the start. Even regions within a country rely on wildly different resources for power. Take the U.S., where California gets virtually none of its power from coal and Texas relies on the rock for more than a quarter
Also, not all fossil-fuel plants are created equal. Some states are stricter about the emissions these generators can spew than others. That’s why the emissions factor for power generation in cities across the U.S. can vary so greatly. 
Take into account power-plant emissions, and your electric car could easily be responsible for more than 100 grams of carbon-dioxide emissions for every mile driven. Not surprisingly, an electric car in China accounts for more than double the emissions than one in the U.K. That's still better than the average internal combustion engine.
Look on the bright side: Driving an electric car is still better for the world than chugging around in a gasoline-burning one. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, running off electricity was 39 percent cleaner than using internal combustion engines in 2016. And that gap is expected to widen to 67 percent by 2040 as solar and wind power keep taking on a bigger and bigger share of the world’s power mix.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Hyundai reveals electric SUV

hyundai kona electric front corner

(CNN) — Hyundai will unveil a new all-electric SUV that could have the power and price to compete against the Tesla Model 3 and Chevrolet Bolt EV.
The Kona Electric will make its debut at the Geneva Motor Show in Switzerland next week. It’s based on Hyundai’s small gasoline-powered Kona SUV.
With the standard battery, the Kona Electric will have a range of about 186 miles. With an optional high-capacity battery it could go as far as 292 miles. These figures are based on new European driving test designed to yield more realistic results than tests that have been used before.
The SUV will have paddles on the steering wheel that will adjust how much power the batteries will draw as the SUV slows and stops. Electric cars use “regenerative braking,” drawing in energy to slightly recharge the batteries as the driver lifts off the accelerator and presses the brakes. Increasing regenerative braking makes the car slow more quickly.
Although Hyundai is introducing the Kona Electric SUV in Europe first, it is expected to be available in markets outside Europe. Hyundai hasn’t made any announcements regarding pricing, though, for Europe or elsewhere. Prices for the gasoline-powered Kona start at about $21,000 in the United States. The electric version is expected to cost more.
It will compete against electric cars like the Chevrolet Bolt EV and, in Europe, the Opel Amera-e. General Motors markets those electric hatchbacks as compact crossovers.
Tesla is expected, at some point, to introduce its own crossover based on the Model 3 sedan. That will probably be larger than the Kona EV, though.
Jaguar is expected to reveal the production version of its Jaguar I-Pace electric SUV at the Geneva Show. As a luxury product, though, that will be considerably more expensive than the Hyundai Kona Electric.

Monday, 26 February 2018

EV Safe Charge Launches First-Ever Complete Mobile Electric Vehicle Charging Solution


US-based Electric Vehicle charging installation and services company named an LA Auto Show & AutoMobility LA 2017 Top 10 Startup, announced today the launch of EV Charge Mobile™, the first-ever comprehensive solution for portable Level 2 and DC fast EV-charging, which can bring most vehicles to 80% capacity within 20-30 minutes. This highly adaptable Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) system will provide event organizers, and any site in need of temporary EV charging, a charging option for any make of electric vehicle (EV), such as Audi, BMW, Chevy, Fiat, Ford, Hyundai, Honda, Jaguar, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, VW and Tesla, and can be additive to existing inadequate charging infrastructure or be totally self-contained.
“National event planners came to us looking for a portable charging option for EV launch events and for drivers attending their EV-related events where they may be concerned about having enough charge to get home,” explained EV Safe Charge Founder & CEO, Caradoc Ehrenhalt. “At the same time, these environmentally conscious businesses wanted to show support for EV owners and be able to charge a large number of EVs rapidly. We designed EV Charge Mobile to be a safe and simple solution ideal for event organizers, sites and EV owners.”
EV Charge Mobile is now available nationwide to those seeking both networked and non-networked EVSE and can be customized to satisfy specific event or other temporary needs. Businesses considering a permanent EV charger installation or waiting for infrastructure to be built can have the benefit of EV charging immediately. Depending upon on-site capabilities, chargers will be powered either through existing power at the location, solar panels, or self-contained generating systems. In the event fossil-fueled generators are required, EV Safe Charge will offset the carbon footprint by planting trees, a commitment vital to the company’s vision of a greener future.
Jeff Allen, Executive Director of Forth, a leading electric and smart mobility advocacy organization, said, “The EV world is growing at an ever-increasing pace, and permanent charging infrastructure is not currently keeping up with vehicle charging demand. Offering an ingenious mobile platform is aligned with our goal to strengthen emerging mobility solutions and ensure cutting-edge technologies benefit us all. We are thrilled to see more options for the EV community providing increased range confidence.”
“Like our EV Safe Charge installations in homes and businesses, EV Charge Mobile is a comprehensive solution,” continued Ehrenhalt. “We manage everything including charger delivery, setup and pickup, operation, and any required permitting and insurance. We handle all the details needed to have a flawless mobile EV charging experience,” he concluded.
About EV Safe Charge
EV Safe Charge is transforming the way consumers and businesses go green – making it a simpler experience. By providing concierge-style white glove service, we are becoming the leading turnkey solution for installing, maintaining and enabling chargers and software for electric vehicle charging anywhere in the US, including providing our new mobile solution, EV Mobile Charge.
Our customers range from owners of homes, apartment complexes, office buildings and commercial locations nationwide to organizations such as Penske Automotive, the Colton Unified School District, and The Langham Hotel in Pasadena.
We plant a tree with the Arbor Day Foundation for each EV charger sold or installed.
Your new EV charger from EV Safe Charge will be shipped to you from the It will be handled with care by adults with developmental disabilities. Together in partnership, we create jobs for adults with special needs.
For more information on EV Safe Charge and its products and services visit:


EV Safe Charge
Sean Mahoney
C. +1-310-867-0670

Why Charging Your Electric Car at Night Could Save the World

It’ll take more than just driving an electric vehicle to save the environment. You’ll have to charge it at the right time, too.
Put simply, if the world’s drivers plug in an increasingly large EV fleet right after work, it could undo many of the environmental benefits expected from fewer cars running on gasoline and diesel. Cutting pollution could come down to an act as unexceptional as waiting until bedtime to charge the minivan.
Down one path lies a future world with cleaner skies, cheaper energy and more reliable electricity systems. The other has more fossil fuel-burning generators, higher power prices and additional strain on the grids keeping lights on everywhere from hospitals to schools.
“The key question isn’t how much demand electric vehicles add to the grid, it’s when does it add it,” said Daniel Brenden, a senior power and renewables analyst at BMI Research in London. “EVs are either going to be huge problem or a huge tool.”
Sales of electric passenger vehicles surpassed 1 million for the first time in 2017. Forecasts for future growth vary wildly: Exxon Mobil Corp. expects the global fleet to swell to 100 million vehicles by 2040, while Bloomberg New Energy Finance sees it reaching 540 million units by then, with more than half of all cars sold being powered by electricity.
Even at the high end of estimates, global electricity production would need to increase by just 5 percent to meet the new vehicle demand, said Colin McKerracher, an analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The new generation may not even require new power plants if grid operators, regulators and drivers can get on the same page as far as timing goes, McKerracher said.
That’s because of the unique structure of the power market, in which demand ebbs and flows minute-by-minute during the day as people flick their lights and appliances on and off. Consumption typically peaks in the evening and morning, and is at its lowest in the middle of the night.
If drivers plug in their cars when they get home from work and add to that evening peak, even the modest amounts of new generation needed will likely require building more capacity, and that likely will have to be in the form of fossil fuel-fired plants, Brenden said. And because the owners of those plants will have to pay down debt while only operating a short time of the day, their rates will have to be higher.
“You’re not contributing to decarbonization as much as you’d like, and you’re paying to keep that backup generation ready, so you’re adding to your electric bill,” Brenden said.
There’s another option, though, McKerracher said. If drivers can charge their vehicles during off-peak times, they may be able to do so without requiring new generation at all. Off-peak hours also coincide with the time when some renewable power sources are at their strongest -- at night when the wind blows hardest and during the day when the sun shines brightest.
“You don’t need a whole lot of new generating capacity to electrify a lot of the fleet, provided they’re charged in an efficient way,” McKerracher said.
Drivers could even use their electric cars to become miniature power traders if they install two-way chargers, filling up their batteries when power rates are the cheapest and selling back to the grid if they’re plugged in during peak hours, said Mark Hutchinson, head of power and renewables consulting in Asia Pacific at Wood Mackenzie Ltd.
Brenden said he could envision a company such as Uber Technologies Inc. employing thousands of autonomous EVs using artificial intelligence to decide the most profitable times to give rides, charge their batteries and resell electricity.
Such a future will require investments by companies and regulatory decisions that support more sophisticated charging infrastructure. It will also need liberal power markets with dynamic pricing to encourage off-peak charging.
The response from utilities has been mixed. China, home to the largest EV market, hasn’t created any policies incentivizing optimal plug-in times, Brenden said.
On the other hand, Nissan Motor Co. already uses its electric cars to buffer wind power in Denmark, and Southern California Edison proposes offering customers "super" off-peak daytime rates to encourage plugging in during mid-day, when so much cheap solar energy floods the California grid that the state system operator sometimes has to shut down solar plants.

Chinese billionaire investor wants its electric car technology

Geely GC9 car model

 Chinese car maker Geely, invested about $9 billion buying a stake of almost 10% in Daimler, making him the biggest single shareholder in the owner of Mercedes Benz.
Li, who's estimated to be worth around $18 billion, has said he's not interested in a takeover of Daimler. It's unclear exactly what he's after with such a big investment, but he dropped a big hint that the German company's engineering is central to his vision.
"In order to succeed and seize the technology highland, one has to have friends, partners, and alliances and adapt a new way of thinking in terms of sharing and united strength," Li said in a statement over the weekend.
Some analysts suggest Li wants to get his hands on Daimler's clean energy technology. That could help boost Geely's competitive position in China's market for electric vehicles, which is already the world's biggest.
"Daimler has advanced technology that could be relevant to Geely, especially in the area of electric vehicles," said Bill Russo, founder and CEO of Shanghai-based investment advisory firm Automobility.
Daimler said previously it wants to invest €10 billion ($12.3 billion) in developing clean energy vehicles. Russo said components like electric batteries and the systems that manage them are of particular interest for Li and Geely.
Investors appeared optimistic that closer ties with Daimler could bring benefits to Geely. The Chinese company's shares gained 6.5% in Hong Kong on Monday.
The transfer of technology between Western companies and their Chinese counterparts is a sensitive matter. The Trump administration is currently investigating the issue of forced intellectual property transfers.
But Russo thinks Daimler may be willing to work with Geely on electric vehicle technology if it gives it greater access to China's huge market.
That could be complicated, though, by Daimler's existing relationships with companies in China.
Foreign companies have to set up joint ventures with Chinese firms to do business in the country. Daimler already has several, including one with state-run BAIC Motor and another with BYD, an electric vehicle and battery maker whose backers include Warren Buffett.
BAIC said Friday that it and Daimler plan to invest almost $2 billion to build a new factory that will manufacture electric vehicles. Daimler said after the Geely investment that BAIC remains "a strong partner" in China.
"Daimler knows and appreciates Li Shufu as an especially knowledgeable Chinese entrepreneur with clear vision for the future, with whom one can constructively discuss the change in the industry," it said in a statement.
Geely has made several other moves in the European auto industry.
In 2010, it bought Volvo Cars from Ford for about $1.8 billion in a move marking its arrival on the international stage. Last year, it took control of Lotus, an iconic British sports car maker.
Geely is creating a new all-plugin car brand call Polestar that will be spun off from Volvo.
TM & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

ride-hailing and electric cars

EV sales keep rising in California. (courtesy U.S. PIRG report)

Steve Scauzillo

When it used to rain like no tomorrow, engineers turned muddy rivers into concrete flood control channels.
Designing a shopping mall? Leave plenty of space for the parking structures.
In a blink of an eye, both of those icons of the Southern California landscape are changing. It’s not raining much and malls are succumbing to Amazon and other online shopping dot-coms.
In the next five to 10 or 20 years, green ride-hailing services and personal electric cars will be dominating the streets — and cities aren’t adapting. The state faces a severe shortage of places to charge electric vehicles, whether the cars are owned or shared, says a new report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund, PennEnvironment Research and Frontier Group.
“There will soon be a tipping point where we need to expand our number of electric vehicle charging stations,” said Alana Miller, one of the authors of the report “Plugging In: Readying America’s Cities for the Arrival of Electric Vehicles” and policy analyst with Frontier, a think tank based in Denver.
Though sales of EVs and hybrid plug-ins started slowly, they are picking up speed.
Sales nationwide increased 38 percent in 2016, and 32 percent in 2017 Half of all electric vehicles nationwide are in California. Sales have risen every year for the last five years.
With breakthroughs in electric trucks, soon there will be no vehicle class without an electric drive option. General Motors plans on launching 20 EV models by 2023, while Ford is going electric, too, with its plans to invest $11 billion in battery cars, eyeing a goal of 40 models by 2022.Last year saw the introduction of the Chevrolet Bolt, a car that more than doubled the mileage on a single charge to about 240 miles yet kept the cost around $35,000 without incentives. In addition, others, such as the VW e-Golf and the electric Smart car brought prices even lower, while hybrid plug-ins graduated to the minivan with the Chrysler Pacifica. If Tesla manages to produce new Model 3s for the 400,000 on the waiting list, that would be a game-changer.
These are no longer “compliance car” numbers that automakers produce to check off the list. In California, Gov. Jerry Brown announced a new goal of 5 million EVs by 2030. Bloomberg New Energy Finances predicts half of all new cars in the world sold by 2040 will be electric vehicles.
While many folks charge using a Level 1 charger — another name for a standard, three-pronged 110-volt outlet — most public stations are Level 2, 240-volt chargers that can add 50 miles of charge in two to four hours. Fast chargers (Level 3) add 100 miles of range in an hour, but they are very rare.
The companion report focusing on California estimated a severe shortfall of public plugs in Los Angeles. By 2030, L.A. will have about 450,000 EVS but has only 1,456 public plugs. It needs 8,180 Level 2 chargers in workplaces and 4,834 in public places (shopping center lots, public streets).
So despite Mayor Eric Garcetti’s green incentives, L.A. is falling way short on helping turn the transportation tide to electric, where there are no tailpipe emissions and where greenhouse gases from electric power is much, much less than from burning gasoline, i.e. fossil fuels.
On a positive note, the report points out that L.A. has installed 100 smart poles with charging ports on city streets — right at the curb. The power poles are there! So new conduit is not needed.
Street lamp Photo LA 2_1
Electric vehicle charging ports are being added to street lamps like this one in the city of Los Angeles.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Volvo’s Polestar joins EV race

Tesla fighters: Volvo's Polestar joins EV field


Spurred on by the success of American electric-car company Tesla, luxury European carmakers are bringing to market a wave of new battery-powered vehicles beginning this year.
Where other start-up companies like Lucid and Faraday Future have struggled to raise the capital to manufacture their sleek electric-vehicle dreams, established automakers like Jaguar, BMW, Porsche, Jaguar and Audi are pouring billions into new EVs. They will rival Tesla in performance, surpass it in initial build quality, and — perhaps most importantly — try to tempt buyers at a time when global governments are forcing the auto industry to go electric.
One of the boldest new entries is Polestar, an EV brand from Volvo.
Like Tesla wannabes Lucid and Faraday Future, Polestar has wowed the public with a jaw-dropping high-performance prototype. Unlike Lucid and Faraday, Polestar comes with the full backing of Volvo, an established Swedish maker with deep Chinese pockets behind it.
“Tesla is the leader in premium electric, but many other people are catching up to that party and there is going to be a lot of choice within it,” Polestar Communications chief J.B. Canton said in an interview. “We’re confident that what Polestar has in store is going to be right up there with the best of them.”

Next month in Geneva, Polestar, which is owned by Chinese automaker Geely, will introduce the production-ready version of the Polestar 1. It will hit dealerships in 2019 to compete against the Tesla Model S and X; Jaguar I-PACE (due this summer); Audi eTron (expected later this year); and Porsche Mission E, Mercedes EQC and Buick EV (all due in 2019). By 2022, major manufacturers — including luxury and mainstream brands — are expected to flood the market with 100 new EVs with ranges in excess of 200 miles.

“Regulatory pressure is driving everything to electric vehicles,” says Canton. “Legislation is going that way — just look at China — and forcing R&D spending towards electrification that needed to happen anyway. Volvo feels a sense of corporate responsibility, and has made an emotional and moral commitment to push Polestar in that direction.”

Canton says Polestar gives Volvo the chance to expand beyond the tailored safety-conscious sedans and SUVs that have defined it for decades. Toyota created Lexus. Hyundai invented Genesis. Volvo’s Polestar brand will forge a new premium path of performance-oriented EVs.What’s different, of course, is that Volvo is already a premium brand where Toyota, Hyundai and others invented premium brands to complement mainstream models. But Volvo believes the electric revolution is ripe for a new kind of luxury.

It will come wrapped in an all-carbon-fiber coupe shell with all-wheel drive channeling 600 horsepower with a stump-pulling, 740 foot-pounds of torque — more than Corvette’s V-8 powered supercar.All that grunt will come from a combined gas-electric plug-in powertrain, the only Polestar offered as a hybrid. After that, all models will be electric-only. After Polestar 1, a Polestar 2 and 3 will follow over two years, with the 2 offered as an entry-level, $45,000 EV.

Why a hybrid halo? “Outright performance, you can do more with both,” Canton said of a no-holds-barred exotic starting at $150,000.
Performance is key to the Polestar brand just as it defined Tesla — not as a slow granola-mobile, but as a zero-60 dragster that could smoke any muscle car out of a Woodward stoplight. The start-up brand gets its name from a familiar Volvo teammate, Polestar Racing. Long successful on the track (Polestar Volvos won Europe’s prestigious World Touring Car Championship in 2017), Polestar was brought in-house by Volvo in 2015 as a Volvo performance badge much like the Shelby moniker for Ford.
The Polestar 1 design shares Volvo family traits: “Thor’s hammer” LED headlights, C-clamp rear taillights, Scandinavian interior. And like the Toyota-Lexus creation, Polestars will share the same two platforms as Volvo cars and SUVs. The brand will explore new technologies like a continuously-controlled electronic suspension and twin-rear, torque-vectoring electric motors.

Like Tesla, Polestar will also pioneer new sales strategies. It’s looking at a subscription-ownership experience modeled on smartphones with customers turning in their Polestar for an upgraded model after two or three years.
“Ideally, all Polestars will be owned by subscription,” says Canton of a service called “Care by Volvo.”

Polestar will create a new network of dealer-owned franchises, unlike Tesla which has tried to sell its EVs directly to consumers. But like Tesla, Polestar will not service cars from dealerships as it plans storefronts in more trafficked environments like city centers.

BMW plans to build electric Minis in China

BMW Photo gallery

by Alanna Petroff

The company said Friday it planned to team up with China's Great Wall Motor and start looking for the best place to set up a factory to meet strong local demand.
China is BMW's biggest market. The German company sold 560,000 cars there last year -- more than the US and Germany combined -- including 35,000 Minis. China is also a fast growing market for electric vehicles.
"Production follows the market," BMW said in a statement. "This signals a ... clear commitment to the electrified future of the Mini brand." It did not say when production in China would begin.
BMW said last year that it would start to produce the electric Mini in 2019 at the model's main factory in the UK.
But that production run is expected to be small, and Friday's news could revive worries over the future of thousands of jobs at the UK plant.
"There is always a degree of 'paranoia' following announcements like this -- especially with everything so politically charged in the UK," said Justin Cox, a director and auto production expert at LMC Automotive.
"Some suggest that Mini's future direction is to be an 'all-electric' brand. If that is the case, the Oxford plant will need be part of this transition to survive."
The looming threat of Brexit in 2019 has become a major concern for the British auto sector, which would suffer if leaving the European Union results in new trade barriers. Investment in the industry fell by 34% last year, with the slump blamed on uncertainty about the outcome of Brexit negotiations between the UK and the EU.
Big decision still to come
Ian Fletcher, a principal autos analyst at IHS Automotive, warned last year that the most important production decision regarding the Mini would come when BMW chooses where to build the next generation, starting in 2022. At that point, the company could opt to move production away from the UK.
BMW said it was committed to making cars in the UK.
"The company has made significant investments over the years to step up its involvement in the country," it said.
And Cox said BMW's push into China could ultimately be good for the Mini brand by broadening its appeal and ensuring its longer term survival.
BMW also reassured its German workers about the China move.
"Expansion of the BMW brand in its largest markets, such as China, has not led to a decrease in production at the company's German plants. On the contrary, between 2007 and 2017, production in Germany increased by close to a quarter," it said.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Rise of Electric Cars Fuels Cobalt Market Surge

Advocates have long argued that environmentally friendly technologies could provide a boost to any economy. In the past few years, the rise of the electric car has proved them right. Not only is it creating wealth in the manufacturing sector, but it’s having spill-over effects in related industries. The need for cobalt in the manufacture of green car batteries has fueled staggering growth for First Cobalt Corp. (TSX.V: FCC) (OTCQB: FTSSF) (FTSSF Profile), with a share price increase of as much as 350 percent in a single year. Behind the showmanship of CEO Elon Musk, Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) is becoming the leading brand name for electric vehicles, with a range of cars and trucks. Mining giant Glencore Plc (OTC: GLNCY) is riding the same wave as First Cobalt, providing a third of the world’s cobalt. eCobalt Solutions, Inc. (TSX: ECS) (OTC: ECSIF) is tackling the new environmental and ethical concerns this growth has raised, by focusing on ethically sourced cobalt for an ethically oriented market. Even the grandee of American motor companies, General Motors Company (NYSE: GM), is getting in on the act with plans to launch 18 new all-electric vehicles by 2023. The electric car industry is set for big growth.
The Rise of the Electric Car
Twenty years ago, the electric car seemed like little more than an environmentalist’s whim. But with the growing impact of pollution on the environment, governments and businesses have worked hard to make electric transport a reality. Now, the whim is bearing fruit. Electric cars are on the roads. Charging stations are becoming a more common companion to petroleum fueling stations. There are even apps tailor made to help drivers ensure their batteries stay charged.
It’s predicted that one in six cars sold will be electric by 2025. Both Britain and France have declared their aims to end sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2040. Simply put, the market is shifting away from traditional fuel sources and toward more environmentally friendly solutions.
Perhaps the biggest indicator of this shift is the interest taken by BMW. The German multinational has not only committed $250 million to battery research, it is striving to lock in contracts to ensure its entire battery supply chain for the next 10 years. It’s a huge commitment from the motoring giant, and a guarantee of ongoing growth for the industries behind those batteries, such as cobalt mining.
Creating a Sustainable Solution
One of the biggest problems with the rise in demand for cobalt is establishing a secure, sustainable, ethical source of the mineral. It’s a challenge that First Cobalt Corp. (TSX.V: FCC) (OTCQB: FTSSF) has risen to with its North American drilling strategy.
Nearly two-thirds of the world’s cobalt supply currently comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The exponential issue is that the DRC is plagued by violence and corruption. Few companies can keep their hands clean while working there, and recent political turmoil led to a 90 percent jump in the price of cobalt. Reliance on DRC cobalt creates insecurity for manufacturers and for nations whose automotive infrastructure will soon be reliant on electric vehicles as much as big oil. By providing cobalt from North America, First Cobalt is in a position to deliver cobalt more cheaply, securely and ethically, guaranteeing its place in the market.
First Cobalt has quickly established an impressive operation based in Canada. Through mergers with CobalTech ( and Cobalt One (, it has gathered a large area of mining territory, as well as the tools and expertise to exploit it. Trent Mell, the president and CEO of First Cobalt, said of the mergers: “Over a very short period, we have created the largest cobalt exploration company in the world, controlling almost half of what we believe may be the most prospective cobalt district outside of the DRC. We intend to pursue an aggressive exploration program in 2018 while continuing to assess other growth opportunities.”
The company’s advantages extend to industrial processing facilities. It has the only cobalt extraction facility in North America that is permitted for producing battery materials, putting it in a unique position to become the leading domestic supplier.
Working with Technological Innovation
As it moves to cater to growing cobalt demand, First Cobalt announced a $7 million exploration program for 2018 ( By combining existing data and fresh surveys, it will establish the potential of 13 mineralized sites with known historical production of cobalt and silver, with an eye to increasing its output. On Feb. 13, the company announced positive drill results from the historic Bellellen mine ( in Ontario’s renowned Cobalt Camp. The results confirm the presence of high-grade cobalt and nickel along the 300-meter-long Bellellen vein system south of the historic mine.
“First assays from Bellellen drilling confirm the grades found in muckpile material sampled in 2017 and support our view that we now have a third area of interest in the Cobalt Camp,” Mell stated in the press release. “The Bellellen structure has adequate strike length to remain a priority target. Our 2018 drill strategy is to test several new target areas to confirm the cobalt grades of known systems throughout the Camp and then focus on those of sufficient size to support large tonnage operations.”
It’s just one example of First Cobalt’s forward-looking approach, embracing innovation throughout its business. Over a hundred years of mining data have been combined using digital techniques to establish the likely locations of deposits ( Artificial intelligence is being considered to accelerate the discovery cycle and allow new deposits to reach exploitation sooner. As a member of the Mineral Exploration Research Centre (MERC) and Metal Earth Project, the company is conducting regional geophysical surveys to increase its understanding of Canada’s rich cobalt resources.
This focus on refinement, innovation and scientific rigor is visible at the company’s cobalt extraction refinery. Ore-sorting tests and metallurgical studies are being used to ensure the plant’s capabilities. The refinery has been located with room to expand into a larger refinery complex so that the company is not at risk of being limited by its original facilities.
Securing Future Extraction
The potential of First Cobalt’s future is reflected in the confidence shown by investors. The company has recently secured $30 million dollars in financing.
This has allowed the company to acquire strategic mining claims ( around its original territory, including a recent acquisition near the Silver Banner mine as well as ensure they are well positioned for their 26,500-meter 2018 drill program. Mell said of the purchase: “This area of North Cobalt is of particular interest as some of the more significant past-producing cobalt mines are nearby, including the Silver Banner mine where we reported high grade cobalt samples.” Such purchases have made First Cobalt the largest land owner in the Cobalt Camp, dominating Canadian cobalt production.
The result has been a surge in the company’s fortunes. Its share price increased by as much as 350 percent during 2017, and its market cap is now close to $200 million. This makes it the largest cobalt exploration company in the world by market cap. It’s a status that has drawn the company international attention, and an interview with Mell featured prominently in a recent Guardian article on the cobalt industry.
First Cobalt’s ambition extends beyond the Canadian mining regions, as it anticipates additional discovery from places outside the DRC, such as British Columbia, Idaho, Ontario and possibly Chile. This insulates the company from the risks inherent in working in the DRC, giving it a significant advantage over established competitors. As liberal environmentalists encourage ethical supply chains and conservatives seek to boost home-grown industries, the company is placed to benefit from political maneuvers and purchasing decisions on both the right and the left.
The electric vehicle and cobalt industries are booming. First Cobalt is one of the companies best placed to profit off this boom, but it’s far from the only one.
Cobalt and Electric Cars: The Bigger Picture
The best recognized name in the electric car business is Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA). The flamboyant showmanship of Elon Musk together with a commitment to innovative, sustainable technology have created a household name. With its range of cars and now a move into trucks, Tesla is forging the way for this young industry. Its continued growth, and the swell in electric technology it brings, will ensure that demand for cobalt continues to grow for the foreseeable future.
Mainstream car manufacturers are following Tesla’s lead. The Chevrolet division of General Motors (NYSE: GM) sold more than 23,000 Bolt EVs in 2017, giving it the third largest sales of electric cars. GM has announced plans to launch 18 new all-electric vehicles by 2023, allowing the company to cater to a wider range of customers as the electric car goes mainstream. Like other manufacturers such as Tesla and BMW, GM’s commitment to the market could help to drive up the profits of cobalt mining companies.
Among those companies is commodities manufacturer Glencore (OTC: GLNCY). Operating in over 50 countries, and with an annual revenue of $177.4 billion, it produces 28,300 metric tons of cobalt a year — around a third of the global supply. Though the company’s reliance on the DRC may cause it some challenges, the sheer scale of its operations will ensure deals with the large car companies as they move toward battery power.
Like First Cobalt, eCobalt Solutions (TSX: ECS) (OTC: ECSIF) is looking to provide cobalt free of the environmental and ethical concerns bound up in mining the DRC. Working through a wholly owned subsidiary, it has established the Idaho Cobalt Project, the only near-term, environmentally permitted primary cobalt project in the United States. This will cater to growing international demand for cobalt and for ethically sourced resources. By getting in on the ground floor of American cobalt production, it will have an edge of stability as the cost of production in the DRC fluctuates.
The market for electric vehicles is growing, and with it the demand for cobalt. As political strife and ethical concerns hit traditional sources, North American cobalt companies will be particularly well-placed to serve a vital market and support a greener future.
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