AD #3532 – Tesla Price War Jumpstarts Sales; Ford Breaks Out EV Finances; Who Needs Lithium When You Have Sodium?

March 23rd, 2023 at 12:01pm

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Listen to “AD #3532 – Tesla Price War Jumpstarts Sales; Ford Breaks Out EV Finances; Who Needs Lithium When You Have Sodium?” on Spreaker.

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Runtime: 10:16

0:00 IRA Kicks Off EV Gold Rush
0:55 Ford Breaks Out EV Finances
2:08 Tesla Price War Jumpstarts Sales
3:28 Who Needs Lithium When You Have Sodium?
4:22 Izera EV Startup from Poland
5:19 Hornet Is First All-New Dodge Since 2011
7:41 BMW Sees Bright Future for New Hub Motor
8:27 Schaeffler’s Hub Motor for Municipal Vehicles

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34 Comments to “AD #3532 – Tesla Price War Jumpstarts Sales; Ford Breaks Out EV Finances; Who Needs Lithium When You Have Sodium?”

  1. Ron Paris Says:

    So the Izera EV…”will be built by a government backed company called Electromobility Poland”. Great; a Trabant EV! What could possibly go wrong?!

  2. Norm T Says:

    It took Tesla 18-years until it showed a profit…why not?

    Besides Ford and the rest of the Big-3 have to scream poor-mouth as bot Unifor and UAW contracts ends this fall. The silly season is on!

  3. Lambo2015 Says:

    Just when you thought a lead acid battery was corrosive here comes Sodium-Ion. :-)
    Seeing the Hornet here it reminds me of a modern-day Dodge Caliber. So the RT is like the Volt as in all electric drive with a 44hp gas generator?
    Surprised the 1.3L only gets 44 HP.

  4. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The Schaeffler in-hub motor will be great for saving space for batteries, and maybe under floor cargo, but will add a lot of unsprung weight. The unsprung weight is probably not a big deal for street sweepers, garbage trucks, etc. that is the intended market. Also, they are relatively low power. I suspect the 60 kW power is only for “bursts,” because the motor would get too hot if run at that power for an extended time.

    The mechanical layout is interesting. The motor itself is concentric with the vehicle wheel, with reduction gearing off to the side.

  5. kevin A Says:

    John, Great show. Couple of questions though.

    1. Does the IRA make it cheaper to build an all new factory instead of modifying an old one? (ie are ALL old ICE factories going to get closed?)
    2. If sodium is produced from common salt, won’t it be dirt cheap? Salt only cost $60-80 US/ton.
    3. I can see the Polish car selling well in Poland for nationalist reasons. Would you expect this trend to spread to all the other countries that don’t have a local car industry? Makes me think of Daimler, 100+ years ago.
    4. I like the Dodge Hornet, but I can’t help but think it would sell a lot better as a Jeep.

  6. George Ricci Says:

    As John mentioned the advantages of sodium-ion batteries are they don’t burn, better at cold temperatures, and cheaper. In addition, they don’t need any rare earth metals and charge faster than lithium-ion batterie’s. Several car companies in China are already producing cars with the sodium batteries.

  7. George Ricci Says:

    As John mentioned the advantages of sodium-ion batteries are they don’t burn, better at cold temperatures, and cheaper. In addition, they don’t need any rare earth metals and charge faster than lithium-ion batterie’s. Several car companies in China are already producing cars with the sodium batteries.

  8. Kit Gerhart Says:

    3 The Hornet is not much like the Volt. The Volt has full power from the electric motor, until the battery was discharged. Then, the gas engine keeps minimal charge in the battery, which powers the car at lower speed, and the ICE is mechanically connected to the wheels at highway speed to improve mpg. Volt is front drive.

    The Hornet PHEV has a 1.3 liter turbo four making ~140 hp. Then, there’s the 44 hp motor-generator attached to the ICE, and the 90 kW (~120 hp) MG on the rear axle, which contributes to the quick acceleration, and is used for the battery-only driving and regen braking. I’ll be curious about the mpg. So far, I’ve seen info only for the 2.0 turbo version.

  9. Kit Gerhart Says:

    What I’m finding, is that to get sodium from NaCl, you need to melt, which has a melting point of 801C, 1474F, and electrolyze the salt. That sounds quite energy intensive. Maybe there are other methods to separate NaCl, and maybe there are other sources for sodium, but no source would be nearly as cheap as NaCl.

  10. Bob Wilson Says:

    About sodium vs lithium, battery chemistry and manufacturing are still in the early stages. Just today, Munro reports 500 Wh/kg batteries … announced. Production is planned. They achieved it by a silicon anode instead of carbon.

    Supply and demand drives exploration and invention. So don’t get stuck on one battery technology but consider we get a ‘snapshot in time.’ What is in the lab takes orders of magnitude effort to go into production.

  11. John McElroy Says:

    #5. Kevin,

    1. Modifying an old factory is probably cheaper. But there aren’t many old car factories laying around unused.

    2. Lithium costs over $100 per kg. Sodium costs $3. Dirt cheap.

    3. Other countries may want to fund their own EV development. But it costs a ton of money, and there’s no guarantee of success.

    4. The Hornet is a performance CUV and that fits the Dodge brand. Besides, Dodge desperately needs more models in its lineup and Jeep doesn’t .

  12. GM Veteran Says:

    Too bad Stellantis decided to give Dodge a version of the Tonale so late in the game. The front styling is pretty lame for a Dodge. It could be any milktoast crossover. As I have heard it, the Alfa team was not thrilled with the decision to give Dodge a version, but the added sales volume will mean that the Tonale can stay in production even if their sales fall well short of initial estimates (which is business as usual at Alfa).

  13. GM Veteran Says:

    There have been old plants available, but it seems that non-domestic OEMs are not interested in repurposing plants in the north, where most are located. Worries about unionization, I suppose. Its a shame too. GM, through their Racer Trust Development, has been working to sell old plants and property since the bankruptcy. They have had some success, but still have some inventory available.

    Ford closed the Wixom plant where they built Lincolns for decades. Its location was fantastic, right along I-96 and had rail lines, electricity and gas lines onsite. Seemed like any automaker could have saved a bundle by just refurbishing the plant. But, no takers. After about six years of sitting there, the buildings were torn down and now its a retail complex anchored by a Menards store.

  14. Kit Gerhart Says:

    From this article, lithium and sodium carbonate, not metallic lithium and sodium are the raw materials needed for batteries. Apparently there is sodium carbonate on/in the ground, needing only minimal refining, and can be very cheap.

    With Challenger and Charger gone, Durango would be the only Dodge left, so they needed something, to keep the brand alive until the electric muscle cars arrive. They could rename the pickup trucks as Dodge. I always liked that name better than Ram anyway. Dodge as the brand, and Ram as the model.

    I suppose it wouldn’t make much difference to dealers if Hornet were a Jeep, since most US Chrysler dealers are Jeep/Chrysler/Dodge/Ram.

  15. Kit Gerhart Says:

    14 This is the article I intended to link in #14.


    Scout will never sell 200K units per year with just 1 model. They must be planning for more models for the Scout brand or building other VAG BEV models out of the new plant. With a plan to start producing 200K starting in 2026, it can only be done with other VAG BEV products. Maybe the new explorer on the MEB platform perhaps?

  17. Kit Gerhart Says:

    12 The Tonale was a new model for Alfa in 2022, so they couldn’t have given Dodge a version much earlier.

    Yeah, I can imagine that U.S. Alfa dealers wouldn’t be too happen about Dodge getting the Hornet, and Dodge getting a faster version of the vehicle. To me, the Tonale looks better, though, at least in photos.

  18. GM Veteran Says:

    17 – I meant earlier in the product planning cycle. The decision to give Dodge a version came after the vehicle was fully developed. So, most of the differentiation is in the front fascia. I think there was a typo in the hp number in today’s article. The Hornet RT has 288 hp.

    The lower level Hornet GT gets the 4 cyl turbo, which the Tonale does not. The Hornet RT gets the same hybrid powertrain as the Tonale, but with slightly different programming. The Hornet is rated with 3 more horsepower (288 vs 285), but has less EV-only range. The Tonale has a 30 mile EV-only range.

  19. GM Veteran Says:

    Also, Tonale just hit the market, a few months before the Hornet. It debuts as a 2024 model. The website is still offering the ability to pre-order one. Customer deliveries will start in May. The Tonale concept was shown in March of 2019, so it seems like its been around for awhile.

  20. Kit Gerhart Says:

    19 From what I find, Tonale went on sale in Europe sometime in 2022.

    Anyway, it will be interesting to see how Hornet sells. It’s quicker than most of the segment, but the base model is thirsty for the segment. From reading a C and D article, it sounds like Hornet is well equipped in base form, with driver aids, and 4wd which some of us wouldn’t want, but the base price is high, and the top trims are quite pricey for the segment.

  21. wmb Says:

    If salt turns out to be the earth mineral that brings do the price and results in faster EV charging, that would put the state of Michigan in an important and prime position, with the huge salt reserves that it has at its disposal! That is if it is the type of salt/sodium that could be used to build batteries.

    So John/Sean and AL community, if sodium batteries produce about 25% less power then lithium batteries, which has the greater impact of EV range? The amount of battery cells in the vehicle, or the amount of power needed to operate the type motor(s) the vehicle uses? I ask that because it seems that when it comes to EVs, both battery energy efficiency and electric motor efficiency are two different things. For example, versions of the Air, can get up to 500 miles. Lucid has gone on record as having the smallest, lightest and most efficient EV motors in the auto industry, but it also packs a LOT of batteries in their longest range versions of the Air! So with a less powerful, but highly efficient battery packs, as well as electric motor(s), could that setup provide a vehicle with still decent range? Do the long range versions of the Air, as a result of the efficient EV motors, or the amount of batteries?

  22. Ziggy Says:

    “Best of all, each hub motor can be controlled individually, in terms of power or even which direction they rotate. And conceivably that means that you could even eliminate the steering column, the steering rack and the tie rods.” Joy stick steering and speed candidate if I ever heard one!! Can an electric Fat Truck be in our near future? One can only hope!

  23. Don Sherman Says:

    Forgot to mention the major issue with hub motor drive: massive unsprung weight which is bad for ride.

  24. Kit Gerhart Says:

    21 Sodium carbonate, not sodium chloride, AKA table salt, is what what is needed for batteries. Here are the known global sources.

    A lot of it is in the U.S.

  25. Kit Gerhart Says:

    22 Skid steering, like Fat Truck or Sherman tank is not useful for road vehicles. It is terribly inefficient, not very precision, and would destroy roads. The individual control of wheels allowed by the hub motors could be useful for traction control on slick surfaces.

  26. Kit Gerhart Says:

    23 Yeah, the unsprung weight would not be good for ride and handling in passenger vehicles, but as I mentioned in #4, it is probably not much of a factor for garbage trucks. They must be expecting use in fairly small vehicles, since they mention it fitting in 14 inch wheels.

  27. Lambo2015 Says:

    It would be great if AL would do a segment on the effects of weight to an EV’s range. Certainly, the heavier the vehicle the less range. Something like 100lbs reduces range by XX miles. Because seems like there has to be a sweet spot where you get the best range without excessive weight. Cause you can throw a huge ass battery in an EV and have 600-mile range but then the efficiency of taking those daily 60-mile trips would be horrible.

    26 Kit yeah the hub motor seems like it would make more sense to scale up from 14″ and put it in commercial vehicles like busses, garbage trucks or inner-city vehicles that won’t see highways speeds. However, I suppose the large commercial vehicles don’t really need the packaging advantage of a hub motor. Would be ideal for all those autonomous delivery pods where there is no passenger compartment. They could design a skateboard platform for a battery use hub motors and basically put anything on top ranging from pizza delivery to groceries.

  28. Sean Wagner Says:

    Hub motors might be very useful in heavy, military 6×6 and 8×8 all-wheel drive vehicles. Keeping in mind the ratio of sprung to unsprung weight, and maintenance in the field.

  29. Sean Wagner Says:

    Forgot the obligatory reference to Ferdinand Porsche:

  30. Lambo2015 Says:

    Well, my calculations could be wrong, and they are based on the Tesla 100kwh battery. But it looks like that 1378lb battery would have a range of 377.5 miles if not for the weight of the battery. With the weight it gets 315 miles of range.

    So, it looks like an EV loses 0.624 miles for the weight of each kwh yet gains 3.77 miles for each kwh. So, the net is 3.15 miles per kwh.
    However, that’s assuming a liner loss but I’m sure as the weight increases that loss is exponential. I couldnt find anything online.

  31. Kit Gerhart Says:

    27 Weight does not hurt efficiency of EVs as much as with ICErs, because EVs recover energy when slowing down, while ICE cars convert it all to heat. Still, the recovery is far from 100%, so lighter is better with EVs.

    It looks like using bigger batteries, and thus more weight, didn’t have a big affect on the efficiency of Tesla S back in 2017, when they put different size batteries in what was, basically, the same car.

  32. Lambo2015 Says:

    The only other thing on EV efficiency I could find stated that at 75 mph vehicles bascially lost 30% of their stated range. Towing loss was 50% which is what made me start thinking that weight has to have a pretty significant affect.
    Kind of like if you had a model 3 with 300 miles a range and towed a trailer with a second battery that could give you 600 miles of range. But because your towing the battery in the car only got 150 miles of range. So two batteries would get you 450 miles not 600. But you need to charge 200kwh to go 450 where if you charged the single battery 100kwh to go 300 miles.
    One battery gets you 3 miles per kwh two batteries gets you 2.25 miles per kwh. A 25% loss.

  33. Kit Gerhart Says:

    32 Both going fast and towing trailers greatly increases aero drag. Of course, the shape, width, and height of a trailer makes a huge difference in the amount of aero drag.

  34. Kit Gerhart Says:

    If you want to tow a trailer with a Model 3 to carry extra batteries, you should make the trailer low, narrow, and long. Aero attachments to the back of the car should also help lower drag.