Remember when those tiny dongles that your insurance company offered to potentially lower your insurance rates came out? Insurers spun a wonderful tale: simply plug into your car's OBDII port and record telematics data, ship (or in today's case, beam) it back to the mothership, and then they could potentially lower your premium based on this data. It turned out that wasn't always the case, and some individuals quickly found out that their premiums jumped due to their driving behavior.

Welcome to Critical Materials, your daily roundup for all things EV and automotive tech. Today, we're chatting about how many automakers have made those tiny dongles obsolete by baking the capability of data-sharing directly into the car. We're also going to cover just who Tesla is prioritizing Cybertruck deliveries to, and Volvo's aim to cut down on charging times by 30% in future vehicles thanks to a new tech partnership.

30%: Automakers Are Sharing Your Driving Data With Insurance Companies

2022 Chevy Bolt EV

Insurance is a risk-based game, and anything that insurance companies can do to better judge risk is an advantage. A new report by the New York Times uncovered, that includes snooping around new connected car driving data provided by automakers and using that to customize premiums much like that tiny, optional OBDII dongle.

In one instance, NYT's report uncovered that a 65-year-old driver of a 2022 Chevy Bolt had his insurance premium jump by 21%. When he started shopping around for lower quotes, they were also high. He questioned his insurance agent who told him that his LexisNexis report was a factor in his rate hike.

LexisNexis is a data broker. Essentially, they track driving records, citations, car accidents, and—most recently—connected car driving behavior data. This data is transformed into a risk score for insurance companies who can use it to tailor premiums to individual drivers without the need for that pesky optional dongle. The driver mentioned above requested his LexisNexis data and was provided with a 258-page disclosure report which detailed 640 individual trips. It included start and end times, the distance driven, speeding, hard braking, fast acceleration, and more. Location data was not included.

As it turns out, the driver had GM’s OnStar Smart Driver service turned on. A GM spokesperson told NYT that the driver may have turned it on through the mobile app, or had it turned on when they purchased the vehicle. NYT also says that it was possible that the driver opted-in unknowingly at the dealership, as salespeople can reportedly receive bonuses for enrolling drivers in OnStar services.

This isn't unique to GM, though. Kia, Mitsubishi, and Subaru all have ways of submitting data to LexisNexis—it's the reason their telematics exchange database has collected information from over 10 million vehicles as of 2022. Likewise, Ford, Honda, and Hyundai all have data-sharing partnerships with Verisk, another telematics data broker. Tesla also has a safety score system used to tailor insurance quotes for its insurance offering. These data-sharing programs all assumingly require opt-in consent.

If you're curious whether or not your car is capable of collecting this data, you can enter your VIN on Vehicle Privacy Report. You can also request a copy of your LexisNexis or Verisk report.

60%: Tesla Prioritizing Deliveries of the Cybertruck to High-Value Shareholders

Tesla Cybertruck Cyberbeast Climbing Hell's Revenge

Looking to pick up a brand new Tesla Cybertruck and have loads of Tesla stock? Well, I've got good news for you: Tesla is prioritizing deliveries of the Cybertruck to "long-term" shareholders.

The automaker recently announced the early Cybertruck delivery program for shareholders on its website, offering those who have had a stake in the company for an extended period of time and a Cybertruck reservation the option of taking early delivery of a limited-run 2024 Tesla Cybertruck Foundation Series which is allegedly limited 1,000 units and tacks on a $20,000 premium over the wait-your-turn models.

Those looking to take advantage of the offer must not only have owned 500 shares of Tesla stock at the end of February 2024, but they must have also owned at least 50% of those shares at the end of February 28th, 2021. Shareholders can't just reserve a truck today and jump the list, though. Tesla says that the Cybertruck reservation must have been made before March 1st, 2024 to qualify.

On the last trading day of February 2021, Tesla shares were trading for $269. This means that the shareholder must have purchased at least $67,250 worth of Tesla stock in 2021. Today, 500 shares of Tesla are worth $88,885

Tesla's decision to prioritize shareholder delivery isn't the first time that it's allowed potential buyers to jump the line. The automaker also offered a referral reward to allow owners who have accrued at least 30,000 referral credits to take early delivery of their reserved Cybertruck.

Potential buyers have until March 22nd to sign up for the offer.

90%: Volvo Aims to Cut Charging Times by 30% in Future Vehicles

Volvo Cars USA and Starbucks' public EV fast charging network

Most new EV buyers take a bit of time to adjust to the idea of public charging. The thought of plugging in and waiting at the charger can be daunting to some, but the reality is much more easy to deal with. Still, automakers are looking to find a way out of that stigma as quickly as possible to help consumers ease the transition from gasoline to battery power.

Volvo in particular has partnered with Breathe Battery Technologies, a company that focuses on building better battery management software to help make healthier batteries that charge more quickly without additional changes to the pack.

Specifically, Breathe has developed software that Volvo believes will cut down on the time it takes to charge its batteries from 10% to 80% by as much as 30%. Volvo says that its new EX90 takes about 30 minutes to complete this charge on a 250-kilowatt DC Fast Charger. A 30% reduction would mean spending just 21 minutes at the charger to hit 80%, which is nearly as fast as the Hyundai Ioniq 5's claimed 18-minute charge time.

Volvo says this new software allows for a fully adaptive charging methodology to control the battery in real time. This is a bit different than stepped charging which "steps down" the current of electricity as the voltage of the battery increases. Volvo claims that the software does not impact the battery's health and that the improvement will last the life of the battery.

Volvo Cars Tech Fund CEO Ann-Sofie Ekberg says that this will be a "major step in the right direction" in the shift to electrification:

Faster charging times, in the range where customers typically fast charge, represent a major step in the right direction as we continue to boost electric mobility and make it available to more people.

Now, Volvo doesn't say when this particular tech will make it into its vehicles, but if you see a significant drop in charging times over the next few years, it might be a hint. The good news is that the software is said to be fully compatible with the existing hardware on its cars which will make scaling up a breeze.

100%: How Often Do You Fast Charge?

Pilot Travel Centers LLC, General Motors and EVgo charging station

Quicker fast charging is neat and all, but it got me thinking about how often I actually stop at a fast charger versus powering up at home. Over the past year, about 15% of my charging has been at Tesla Superchargers, which works out to about 29 sessions, or one session every 550 miles.

Each of these sessions has been fairly painless, with the majority of my charge sessions being completed before I could even step out of the car to use the restroom or grab a quick bite to eat. In fact, I can only really remember two occasions where I waited in the car with nothing else to do but watch Netflix on my infotainment screen. So while I'm sure I wouldn't mind faster charging on those more boring sessions, I feel like if you charge mostly at home, a few longer stops at the fast charger may not be terribly inconvenient—well, unless I was driving something with a huge 212-kWh battery

How do my stats stack up with yours? Let me know in the comments.

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