Tag Archives: electric cars

Would You Order A Tesla Electric Semi?

Elon Musk promised that the Tesla Semi reveal would “blow your mind clear out of your skull and into an alternate dimension”. The truck is certainly a game-changer for the logistics industry, but Tesla faces some steep challenges if it plans to win over the commercial market.

We can’t wait to see these trucks on the road. The sleek, bullet-train shaped cab of the Tesla Semis will be instantly recognisable once they hit the freeways in 2020 – if Tesla can overcome the production delays which are increasingly plaguing the organisation.

What can the Tesla Semi actually do?

Equipped with a battery instead of a diesel tank, the Tesla Semi is capable of travelling 804km (500 miles) on a single electric charge – even with a full 36,000kg load. Its autopilot system will go a long way towards eliminating human error in truck accidents, with the ability to automatically:

  • detect instability and adjust each wheel individually to make jack-knifing “impossible”
  • maintain a set speed and slow down in traffic
  • keep the vehicle in its lane with lane detection and lane departure warnings, and
  • lock onto other Tesla Semis to travel in a convoy.

Charging will take place via a planned, worldwide network of solar-powered “Megachargers”, which will be added to Tesla’s existing network of 2000 Supercharger stations which are in place to power Model S sedans. For drivers in a hurry, a 30-minute charge will enable 640km (nearly 400 miles).

Inside the cab, the driver’s seat is positioned in the centre of the space (which has full standing room), allowing better visibility. The seat is flanked on both sides by touch screens that provide blind spot monitoring and navigation. The truck also comes with tracking features to be used by a fleet manager for routing, monitoring and scheduling.

What’s the cost?

Unknown – Musk didn’t reveal the unit price on stage, but claimed the Tesla Semi would cost 20% less per mile than a diesel-powered truck. Whatever the price is, it’s only likely to fall in the future as regulations on diesel continue to tighten, charging infrastructure improves and the costs of batteries fall.

Despite the unknown price, pre-orders have started flowing in from companies including Wal-Mart (15 trucks), Meijer (4 trucks), and J.B. Hunt (“multiple trucks”).

Will we see these trucks on the road in 2020?

“If you order now, you get your truck in two years”, Musk said at the reveal. The company, however, has been known to over-promise and under-deliver when it comes to production deadlines. The Model 3 sedan, for example, has been beset by 18-month delays. While the company’s consumer fans are apparently willing to tolerate delays, commercial trucking companies are likely to be less patient. The Tesla Semi notably represents the company’s first foray into the commercial vehicle market.


In other news this week:

NAFTA Negotiations Struggle Onward

  • Reports from the NAFTA negotiations reveal that little progress has been made on U.S. demands that could potentially sink the 1994 trade pact between the U.S., Mexico and Canada.
  • Officials are currently meeting in Mexico City for the fifth of seven planned rounds of talks. Upcoming presidential elections in Mexico mean that a deal needs to be reached by late March 2018.
  • New U.S. demands include a five-year sunset clause, and tightening of rules of origin to boost the North American content of autos. Other issues discussed include labour, gender, intellectual property, energy, and telecommunications.
  • While Mexican officials have said “the work is moving forward”, Canadian negotiators complained on Friday about inflexibility by the United States.

Read more: CBC News   

Calvin Klein Bypasses Retailers For Holiday Shopping

  • Calvin Klein is offering an exclusive line on Amazon only for Black Friday sales, in a move that reflects the increasing shift away from traditional stores.
  • The company has announced a holiday retail experience called “Calvin Klein X Amazon Fashion”, with underwear and denim available exclusively in an online Amazon brand store and in Amazon pop-up shops in New York and Los Angeles through to December 31st.
  • Amazon’s pop-up stores pose another threat to brick-and-mortar retailers, in additional to the sales shift to online retail.

Read more: Wall Street Journal

New Procurement Benchmarking Report Released

  • APEX Analytix has released its “Procurement Leaders’ Benchmarking Report”, with best-in-class performance data from global organisations with a combined revenue of $2.3 trillion. The report reveals:
  • Only 10% of organisations have a combined P2P organization under common leadership
  • 65% of businesses don’t authenticate vendors against public domain data sources prior to payment
  • Only 14% capture verifiable details of a vendor’s CEO, CFO or principals.

Get the report here.

The Supply Vulnerability That Could Kill The Electric Car

Nearly all the pieces are in place for the long-overdue surge in electric car production. But before the automotive industry can finally transform itself, there’s one supply challenge that remains to be solved.  

Prices for rare earth elements are rising. China holds one third of the world’s reserves, and – alarmingly – 97% of global production. Meanwhile, the demand for electric cars and other green technology has led to dramatic surges in prices. A recent report from the Nikkei Asian Review found that spot prices for neodymium (used in magnets found in electric motors) hit $95 per kg in mid-September, a 90% spike from the 2016 and an 80% jump from the beginning of 2017. Similarly, terbium is 36% up from November last year, sitting at around $600 per kg.

Reasons for the price surge include:

  • Rising demand from the U.S., Europe and Japan, particularly by manufacturers of green cars.
  • A Chinese crackdown to enforce environmental regulations at substandard rare-earth smelting works, leading to suspension of operations.
  • Traders stockpiling rare earths in anticipation of higher prices.

Concern is also rising that rare earths are now a major bargaining chip for China ahead of any potential trade war or deterioration of its relationship with the United States.

In the hybrid and electric car space, rare earth metals are typically incorporated into the magnets used in DC motors. Car-makers such as Chevrolet, Nissan and Toyota are actively working to reduce their reliance on the metals, yet will face a steep challenge as the global fleet of electric cars is estimated to grow from around 2 million today to over 14 million by 2025.

Tesla – as usual – appears to be steps ahead of the problem with their use of an AC induction motor, which doesn’t require magnets and therefore has no rare earth elements. Other parts of Tesla’s vehicle, such as the high-end sound system and specialised glass, reportedly do contain rare earth elements.

Electric car batteries are not the only items at risk. Rare earth elements are used in industrial robots, hard disk drives, cordless tools, magnetic hold-downs, jewellery clasps, wind turbines, smart phones and even smart bombs.

The good news is that although China controls 97% of production, two thirds of the world’s estimated reserves lie elsewhere. The US itself is thought to have around 13 million tonnes (the most promising area being the Mojave Desert), while Russia has around 19 million. Other large deposits can be found in Australia, India, Brazil and Malaysia, while Greenland and some parts of Africa also have untapped sources.

Japanese firm Hitachi has responded to the supply challenge by launching a recycling effort to recover rare earths from hard drives and other materials.


In other news this week:

Tech giants hit by CCleaner malware

  • An estimated 2.27 million users of CCleaner, a free software tool for optimising system performance on PCs, have been affected by malware which “piggybacked” on the software.
  • Investigators believe the attack was designed to target PC users working for specific tech firms, including Samsung, HTC, Sony, Singtel, Vodafone, Cisco, Intel, Google and Microsoft.
  • It is unclear whether the malicious code, described as “relatively complex” and “aggressive”, was designed for commercial or state-level espionage.

Read more at Tech Crunch.

Gartner releases European Supply Chain Top 15

Gartner has identified 15 supply chain leaders that have demonstrated strong growth, along with high scores in corporate social responsibility and opinion score performance. Trends across the 15 leaders include digital experimentation, speed to adaptability and a focus on sustainability.

  1. Unilever
  2. Inditex
  3. H&M
  4. Nestlé
  5. Nokia
  6. BASF
  7. Schneider Electric
  8. L’Oréal
  9. BMW
  10. Diageo
  11. Reckitt Benckiser
  12. GlaxoSmithKline
  13. Adidas
  14. Roche
  15. Siemens