Electric Roads, Take Me Home!

April 09, 2024

Germany’s proposed €350m scheme designed to support renewable hydrogen production, has been approved by the European Commission. This scheme will help ensure up to 90MW of electrolysis capacity and incentivise the production of up to 75,000 tonnes of hydrogen. Bear in mind Germany has the best hydrogen infrastructure in Europe (and arguably the world) but the country wants to flesh it out further to make hydrogen transportation a viable option. The country has bold ambitions as it wants to hit 10GW of domestic electrolysis capacity by 2030 and wants to contribute to the EU target of a minimum of 42.5% renewable energy production by 2030.

Bradford Council has approved plans to build hydrogen refuelling stations on Bowling Back Lane. This project is a partnership between Hygen and N-Gen, who have secured significant government funding and is pencilled in to be completed by 2025. Hygen believes this facility could achieve the decarbonisation equivalent of removing 800 diesel-fuelled buses a day from West Yorkshire's roads. We champion projects like these, as it helps make hydrogen a viable option to decarbonise larger vehicles such as HGVs, buses and coaches.

Volvo has announced that it had sold 78,970 vehicles, in March (2024), with EVs accounting for 23% of all Volvo sales globally last month. The OEMs' European EV sales rose by 66% YoY however in the US EV sales fell by 66% but overall US sales increased by 50% YoY, helped greatly by the plug-in hybrid models. This illustrates how Europe is ahead of the USA in terms of EV adoption, which is helped by better EV infrastructure. However, America has prioritised building out EV infrastructure this year, as this has been a barrier to adoption. European EV sales have been greatly helped by the success of the EX30 model and interesting it is being produced in Ghent (alongside in Zhangjiakou) to help meet the demand from the region.

Hyundai and Kia have signed an MoU with Exide Energy Solutions, to supply batteries for their EVs. Exide Energy Solutions is on a mission to localise its EV battery production in India, focussing on lithium-iron-phosphate cells. This MoU helps Hyundai and Kia expand their footprint in India, as both companies have identified the Indian market as one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Bear in mind, that average manufacturing costs in India are very low and it is the 7th largest source of lithium globally.

Mercedes-Benz and BYD have collaborated to release a new luxury electric sedan named Denza. This strategic collaboration illustrates how far BYD has come and its dominant position as a key player in the EV market. The Denza will be leveraging BYD’s latest new energy technology, while Mercedes is leveraging its engineering finesse and design history. The Denza is pencilled in to enter the market in Q4 24. It will be interesting to see if other Chinese EV OEMs collaborate with European (EV) OEMs, as this will help Chinese OEMs enter the European market, whilst European OEMs can help ramp up their EV offering via these strategic partnerships.

Mr. Wang Wentao, the Chinese Minister of Commerce, has kickstarted his trip to Europe, where one of the key objectives is to help soothe relations between China and Europe over EVs. Last year the EU formally launched an anti-subsidies probe into EVs manufactured in China. The probe is looking into whether China's EV industry has benefited from unfair subsidies to gain a competitive advantage over European (EV) OEMs. Interestingly, Mr. Wentao met with Mr. Luca de Meo (Renault CEO) who is acting as the Chairman of the European ACEA, to discuss how Europe and China can collaborate on EV-related supply chain projects. The (European) ACEA wants to do more joint R&D projects on technologies such as next-generation batteries; essentially bringing some of the Chinese supply chain to Europe. It will be interesting to see how the probe and potential JV discussion pan out in the coming weeks.

Bologna has unveiled Italy’s first electric bus depot equipped with Kempower charging infrastructure, with T-PER managing the depot. Kempower will deploy 20 simultaneous charging points for efficient operations at the site. It is worth noting that the modular design of the charging units ensures uninterrupted service, which is critical in maintaining an efficient electric bus fleet. Bologna is one of the most progressive cities in Europe and this further reinforces its commitment to achieving net-zero public transport by 2030.


EV Realty, a USA-based commercial vehicle charging provider, has announced it will form a $200m JV with GreenPoint Partners to help roll out charging hubs targeted for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. Bear in mind, the Biden-Harris Administration announced its National Zero-Emission Freight Corridor Strategy which focuses on medium- and heavy-duty truck charging and hydrogen fuelling investments until 2040. Furthermore, California’s Advanced Clean Fleets initiative since the start of 2024, states any new vehicles purchased by fleet operators must be ZEVs. Thus, these policy tailwinds, played a part in GreenPoint putting up the majority of the $200m, while EV Realty will own and operate the hubs. This will help EV Realty to aggressively develop its charging hubs which are pencilled to have 50-100 chargers at each site; the first hub will be in California.

Alsym Energy, a Massachusetts-based rechargeable batteries startup, has raised $78m in a funding round. This was led by Tata Sons and General Catalyst, with Thrive Capital, Thomvest and Drads Capital also participating. Alsym Energy is a very interesting startup that focuses on making batteries that do not use lithium or other materials that result in supply problems or high costs. Although the chemistry makeup of the batteries has not been made public yet, it has announced its first product (Alsym Green) will have a higher system-level energy density than other non-lithium battery chemistries. The startup intends to use the capital raised to grow its team and increase its R&D efforts.

SiMa.ai, a USA-based robotics & edge computing processors startup, has raised $70m in a funding round which was led by Maverick Capital. Investors such as Point72, Jericho, Amplify Partners, Dell Technologies Capital and Fidelity Management also participated. This startup is trying to perfect the infusion of AI into hardware. It aims to help devices understand what they see or hear in the world and then convert that data into text, speech or video content. Which can then be applied to a range of products ranging from EVs to robots.

Torus, a Utah-based energy storage and energy management startup, has raised $67m in new equity, conversion of outstanding notes and a loan facility in a round led by Origin Ventures. Investors such as Epic Ventures, Cumming Capital, the Larry H. Miller Company, Zions Bank, Pelion and ICONIQ, also participated. This startup focuses on residential and commercial-sited energy storage systems which utilise flywheel technology and offer virtual power plant solutions. Interestingly flywheel technology is 95% recyclable vs chemical batteries. Torus intends to use the capital raised to grow its team and to broaden its product portfolio offering.