Report #103: Shell buys Volta — Britishvolt shuts down — The Battery Report

Welcome to the EV Universe. RIvian AI pic.
Stable Diffusion seems to be getting better at recognizing Rivian design language. I'm rather satisfied how this turned out.

Hey, Jaan here.

So much going on in the EV industry this week:

  • The Battery Report 2022 is ready
  • [Deep Dive] Shell acquires Volta Charging. A look at data startups of the charging infra.
  • Britishvolt files for insolvency and Arcimoto idles its plants, low on cash
  • Hungary is a battery hotspot and Sweden finds rare earth deposits.

And, of course, a lot more.

Words: 3,017 words | Time to read: 15 minutes | Feeling: like setting up a battery plant in Blyth, Northumberland, UK. Are you in?

— Jaan



The Battery Report 2022 is out!

If you remember from last year, the Battery Report gives us one of the best overviews of this side of the EV industry that I know of.

 The Volta Foundation , which The EV Universe is a (currently rather passive) member of, has collaborated with over 60+ industry experts here to put the 218-slide Battery Report together: ( link  to report)

Industry Players

Here's a shoutout to some of you among our readers who were involved in putting this together (Hey! You rock!).

The players in the battery supply chain, the different chemistries and their market penetration, the policy, the trends, there's reading for hours.

In the EV Universe sense, this is a grade A resource. I'll go through it and might start dripping some of its knowledge to you too, but meanwhile:  go nuts. 

PS! You have a chance to hear directly from the authors of this report, as the next Battery Brunch, which is what the VF calls the industry's biggest (free) recurring meeting of battery experts, happens tomorrow Saturday Jan 21st ( link ).



You know the 'crystal ball EV industry predictions' for 2023 that we did with 65 of our readers  last week ?

You might have noticed that under the charging section,  this  specific prediction popped up:

Public market EV charging networks will be taken private.
— Reilly Brennan, Trucks VC

Well, Reilly. I think what you did with this one is called...

Ted Lasso

The fossil-to-charge acquisitions continue

Shell will acquire Volta Charging the US public charging network ($VLTA) for $169M in cash.

Volta has over 3,000 chargers up in the US and their flagship product is the chargers with these large ad displays on 'em, located in high-traffic commercial locations. For example, stores like Kroger and Walgreens.

Through this model, the charging is free for the driver. The company claims it exceeded one billion monthly impressions on its 4,600 screens on the chargers in the US ( link ).

Volta has been an acquisition target for a while now and had cash problems already last year. We reported on both the CEO Scott Mercer and President Chris Wendel (also founders) resigning from the company on Apr 1st last year  here , and we called it obviously 'not a good sign'. In Q3 2022, Volta cut US full-time staff by 54% and reported a net loss of $42.5M.

The $169M price tag seems wild now, compared to when Volta went public in 2021 through a SPAC merger with TortoiseCorp II, being valued at $2B. Volta raised about $300M in funds with this and was said to have raised over $275M prior in venture funding.

This isn't the first time Shell (Shell Recharge) has scooped up a charging network either. In 2017, Shell  acquired NewMotion  with its 30k charging stations, then  Greenlots  platform in US in 2019,  ubitricity  in Europe in 2021 with its 4,200 charge points, and before Volta, it acquired  Cable Energía  in 2022 with 80 chargers in Spain and Portugal.

Shell should now have over 57,000 EV charging points, most of them Level 2.

The other gas company I've seen rolling up charging networks is bp (bp pulse), which just this week made an order for DC chargers from Tritium, which is the largest the company has received so far ( link ). Should we do a comparison of Shell vs bp?

My two Watts:

First Watt: I agree with Reilly and there is more to come.

Second Watt: the ad-powered charger network aside, I bet this was also a software acquisition, and Shell might've gotten it cheap. I'm more interested in Volta  PredictEV  tool, which uses behavioral science and machine learning to help commercial property owners, cities, and electric utilities plan EV infrastructure.


I'm fascinated by data startups connected to charging infrastructure gaining momentum. I've recently covered three of such in our Pro Reports :

  • Dutch startup  Eco-Movement , which has data from 900k charger connectors from across 72 countries live in their database, raised its Series A (link) this month.
  • FreeWire Technologies, a US DC charger provider, acquired last month, which uses AI to help site hosts strategically place DC chargers for maximum return on investment (link).
  • Stable Auto raised its $14M Series A late last year, which uses quantitative data and machine learning for predicting and improving EV charging station performance. With their platform, you can anticipate the utilization of the charger on any site before installing the infrastructure.

And let's not forget what I think was the acquisition of the year 2021: EVgo buying PlugShare  for $25M. I'm very sure EVgo leverages the data behind all this for similar purposes, in addition to the obvious EV user acquisition.

If you've stumbled upon more startups in the charging infra data space, please do bring them to my attention. :)



The most clicked link last week was the Wyoming legislators drafting a resolution to phase out EVs by 2035 ( link ). New info in the 'updates' section.

Britishvolt is out.

Britishvolt filed for insolvency on Tuesday and laid off most of its current 300 employees. ( link ) The last-minute takeover we wrote about last week seems to have failed and no agreements reached.

Britishvolt was one of the 'big battery bets' in the UK with its 38 GWh factory in Blyth, Northumberland, an investment of £3.8B. EY is  said  to likely sell the factory site.

My napkin calc says this would have supplied about 500,000 EVs a year with batteries at an average of 60kWh...

Britishvolt’s Executive Chairman, Peter Rolton, at the site of its planned battery factory ( source )

British need more Volts (... and Watts).

What will become of UK's battery plans? Currently, the only real effort seems to be by Envision AESC, which has already laid foundation for a gigafactory in Sunderland near Nissan's plant (which rolls out the LEAFs for Europe btw). ( link ) Nissan is the former owner of AESC, which it sold to Envision in 2018. It will come online with 12 GWh in 2025 and can be expanded up to 35 GWh.

The UK auto industry could use some strong battery suppliers. The government seems to be ready to help (promised £100M to Britishvolt). The country seems ripe for an entry of a larger (Chinese?) battery maker... which may or may not find the assets of Britishvolt useful.


Hungary on the other hand... I've been banging this drum for a while, especially in our Pro Reports: Hungary is becoming a core battery hub for Europe.

Recent Benchmark research has found that Hungary’s battery production capacity is expected to grow 7x, from 27.5 GWh to 207 GWh by 2031. ( link ) Granted, 100 GWh of it comes from CATLs $7.5B planned plant.

The government's support and incentives, along with cheaper labor and land cost yet in close proximity to the auto industry makes it a great target for a lot of the supply chain. Cathode and precursor makers are also ramping up on the spot.  

Hertz and Uber announced that they'll expand their North American partnership to Europe and make 25,000 EVs, including Tesla and Polestar models, available for Uber drivers in European capitals by 2025. ( link ) In the US, so far 50,000 drivers have rented a Tesla through this program, completing more than 24 million fully-electric trips and over 260 million electric miles. This is I think one of my favorite partnerships to take otherwise heavy-usage ICE vehicles off the road.

Yes, the GOAT is plugged in

Canadian government published proposed regulations that will require that at least 20% of new vehicles sold in Canada will be zero emission by 2026, at least 60% by 2030, and 100% by 2035. ( link )

Ford says that 356 (59%) of its subsidiary Lincoln dealers in the US, which account for 88% of the brand sales volume, have committed to its proposed EV certification. ( link ) The dealers need to invest $500k-$900k per location to put up to 7xL2 chargers and 2xDC fast chargers. The dealers that don't sign up will only be able to sell ICE vehicles, although they'll have a chance to sign up again in 2026.

China: 81% of all EV+PHEVs sold in China in 2022 came from domestic Chinese brands ( link ). via  SAI .

My two Watts: China goes towards EVs with a crazy pace. If the legacy foreign automakers (think German and US automakers) won't massively step up their EV game in China, they'll simply lose the world's biggest car market. And their current investments and profits there with it.

StoreDot says its "100in5" extreme fast-charging silicon-dominated battery cells are now being tested under real-life conditions by 15 OEMs globally. The 100in5 stands for adding 100 miles (160km) of range in five minutes. The company also just opened its first research facility in the US ( link ).


I can make a rough educated guess on which OEM is behind I think each pin, shoot a reply my way if you're wondering about any.

My two calculated Watts: I played around with some numbers on the surface level and found that if your EV runs more on the efficient side, at let's say ~3.9 mi/kWh, this would mean the technology here should allow for charging at... 307.7kW? And that's the average over five minutes or for around 25kWh of your battery pack. This surely varies here and there and other efficiency factors are at play.

Heat pumps. While we're seeing some automakers send out their EVs into cold climates without heat pumps due to the chip shortage (looking at you, VW's ID. line and Audi e-Tron both towards  Canada  and in  Europe ), Tesla releases a surprisingly detailed video introducing how theirs work:

More. There are about 30 more insights that I'll drop about the EV industry tomorrow in the Pro Report. Don't miss out: ( link ).



There's the new stuff I report on each week. And then there's news on top of those news that come out, which click together. Here are the updates to our last week's story...

...on Tesla price cuts: XPeng follows in China, with the base Xpeng G3i SUV now starting at 148,900 yuan ($22k, -12%), while the P7 sedan starts at $31k, -12.5%).

Meanwhile, it seems that the price cuts did what they were supposed to: increase demand. The Tesla stores in North America are said to be making sales records every week ( link ) and the average daily sales in China through the last week jumped 76% compared same time last year ( link ). Also, here's a nice view of Tesla M3 and MY prices in the US over the past few years, to put the cuts in context. ( link )

...on the proposed Wyoming EV phaseout resolution: already shut down at the committee meeting. Here's the story and a video of the meeting ( link ).

Sen. Jim Anderson:

“We didn’t want to make a bill that would say that the dealerships have to really quit selling vehicles. We just wanted to make a statement that there is a counter to stopping selling gas vehicles in other states.”

...on #savesion campaign: 1,476 Sono Motors Sions committed (€44M) out of a target of 3,500 (€104.6M), with 6 days to go. Safe to say they won't reach it... but what will be the outcome? Three ways I see this going:

  • #1 Sono says: "ah we gave it all and it didn't work, sorry, here's your money back and we only do solar integrations now."
  • #2 Sono says: "this is €44M and we can build on that, let's try".
  • #3 Sono says: "we are pleased to announce that company X will invest/loan into Sono Motors for what we missed (€50M let's say) and we will go ahead."

I find that #3 is likely - I'd bet the €44M in customer deposits gets some wheels moving that otherwise wouldn't have. And you can bet Sono would accept lifeline-like deals.

Meanwhile, the Sion is taking next steps towards production, currently undergoing durability testing in Spain:

...on Lightyear 2 waitlist launch: Leasing company Arval, a subsidiary of BNP Paribas Group, has reserved 10,000 Lightyear Twos ( link ). It now has 21k preorders from business fleets - like the 5k  from LeasePlan  we reported on late 2021. 21k preorders correspond to a nearly €840M revenue at the <€40k price of the car.

Arval plans to have 700k electrified vehicles in its global fleet by 2025. And I find that large fleets are one of the most underrated drivers of EV adoption as soon as the production ramp ups are sufficient to provide for 'em.



Wallbox will cut 15% of its workforce to save €50M in annualized costs 'to better align with its 2023 guidance'. ( link ) Enric Asunción, Co-founder and CEO:

"We invested heavily in manufacturing capacity and product innovation in 2022, which improves our long-term competitive position, and sets us up well for continued growth. However,  near-term disruptions in global supply chains have impacted EV delivery rates, and as a result, require us to better align our cost structure with the current demand environment."

Arcimoto, the maker of Fun Utility Vehicles (FUVs) is in trouble. The company wrote in a  filing  that it will idle its factory and warned of a potential bankruptcy (I highlighted it  here ):

We have halted our production of vehicles and will require substantial additional funding to resume production, which may not be available to us on acceptable terms, or at all, and, if not so available, we will be required to cease our operations and/or seek bankruptcy protection.

The company is looking to raise $12M in funding by selling 4,000,000 shares of common stock at $3 ( link ). The stock ( $FUV ) currently trading at $2.24/share and at ~$5.82M market cap.

This is how the market reacted to the announcement:

I like the idea of Arcimoto Fun Utility Vehicles, they certainly have a niche to fulfill. So, I truly hope they’ll make it.



Swedish state-owned mining company LKAB claims to have found significant rare earth metals deposits in the Kiruna area, the largest deposit of its kind in Europe. ( link )

Although this would be a significant step ahead in reducing European dependency on importing rare earths to use in EV motors among other things, note that it will take several years to first investigate the viability and potential outcomes for this site.

Here's why it matters: Per this  map  I found by European Commission in 2020, China currently provides 98% of EU's supply of rare earth elements (see: REE). So a domestic REE source like this would change the game entirely.

REE Europe




👀 Ignoring the obvious clickbait thumbnail, here's a video from Engineering Explained about the Mercedes EQXX, the ultra-efficient EV concept. 21 minutes in front of a whiteboard (but worth it if you're a geek like me):


👀 I love playing around in the 3D configurators for EVs. Fisker just released one for the Ocean ( link )

👀 A really great real-world overview on towing a trailer: Rivian R1T vs F-150 Lightning


👀 Modesto, California: Frito-Lay plant shows off Tesla Semis and the rest of its sustainable fleet as part of $30.8m project

👀 Seen in the UK. Would you do it? ( tweet ) via The Fast Charge


📚 Tool tip from our member, Liz at Recurrent: the used EV tax credit eligibility tool for the IRA subsidies: ( link ). Entering the VIN, you can check it for any used car for sale in the US. They've gathered other great info on the used EV market there too.

📚 McKinsey Battery Insights team updated its forecast Battery 2030 for the lithium-ion battery chain from mining through recycling, now saying it could grow by over 30% annually from 2022 to 2030, and reach a value of >$400B (5x of now) and a market size of 4.7 TWh by 2030. Batteries for EVs would take up 4.3TWh of this. Caution - there's a lot more to learn: ( link )

📚 An overview of the carbon credits systems and policy for EVs in Charging in the US and EU, by Ryan Fisher from Bloomberg ( link )

📚 Building and sustaining reliable public EV charging in the US, a research letter from Jim Womack, the father of lean production theory and MIT's David Keith ( link , 5pp  pdf ), via .

📚 A MIT Technology Review interview with JB Straubel, the founder of Redwood Materials ( link )



Torsten Müller-Ötvös

Rolls-Royce CEO, Torsten Müller-Ötvös, on a surprising demand for the electric RR ( link ):

“The order intake for the Spectre is far better at this moment than we would have expected. We have a couple of months to go [before production starts], but if that trend continues then I’m pretty sure we need to adjust our plans.”



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