Sandy Munro is an auto manufacturing expert who spends his time taking apart the newest cars to see how they work (and what they cost to build). He’s especially good at explaining the importance of manufacturing innovations that the mainstream media isn’t equipped to understand, and in recent years, he’s had a lot to say about Tesla’s vehicles.
Sandy’s most recent appearance was a discussion of The Next Generation Of EV Technologies, part of the Charged Virtual Conference on EV Engineering. Mr. Munro covered an amazing amount of ground in this hour-long presentation, including several emerging EV technologies—solid-state batteries, mega-castings, and VTOLS—as well as a couple of bleeding-edge concepts that even the earliest adopters haven’t heard about yet.
Sandy gives us a wealth of information about Tesla’s plans to use so-called mega-castings for its vehicle chassis—an innovation that could deliver substantial savings in cost, production time and complexity. Next, he discusses the next frontier in energy storage—will Tesla’s new 4680 cells, a future solid-state chemistry, or some form of hydrogen fuel cell win the day? (Here’s a hint: they all have their pros and cons, which Sandy explains in great technical detail.)
Tesla fans will find plenty to interest them here, as Sandy takes us through the history of the California carmaker’s gradually shrinking battery costs, and explains the Tesla mindset that makes the company such an innovation factory.
The disadvantages of hydrogen fuel cells as an energy storage medium for vehicles are well known: poor efficiency; the difficulty of producing H2 from clean sources; and the heavy lift of developing an entirely new network of fueling infrastructure. However, Sandy clues us into an emerging technology that I suspect few of us have heard of: light-activated hydrogen, which has the potential to deliver more energy density than batteries with few of the drawbacks of fuel cells. (If it were anyone other than Sandy talking about this, I’d probably dismiss them as yet another perpetual-motion purveyor, but watch the video and check out the data.)
That’s not the only news here—Sandy mentions a Tesla repair specialist that can restore old batteries to most of their original capacity at a fraction of the cost of a new pack; a new battery chemistry developed by GM that’s received almost no press coverage; and what’s going on at QuantumScape, a promising developer of solid-state battery tech that’s recently been the target of attacks in the press from a short-seller.