The new 2025 Volvo EX90 electric SUV offers a lot of "firsts" for the automaker. It'll be the first mass-produced vehicle to come standard with Lidar, the first vehicle on Volvo's new dedicated SPA2 EV platform, and will also be the first vehicle in the world to ship with a "battery passport." 

Welcome back to Critical Materials, your daily roundup of news in the EV and automotive tech world. Today, we're talking about Volvo's contribution to Europe's battery passport program, GM's new software team leads, and Cruise re-launches in another city. Let's jump in.

30%: Volvo Will Issue The World's First Battery Passport

Volvo EX90

The upcoming EX90 is a big deal for Volvo. It's also a big deal for a soon-to-be-enforced consumer transparency program—affectionately called a "battery passport"—as Volvo will be the first automaker to offer a vehicle with one, according to Reuters.

This program has been a few years in the making and is currently a European Union-only affair—at least when it comes to regulatory purposes. EVs won't officially need one of these passports until 2027, but automakers are getting a jump on the compliance side of things. Now, Volvo will become the first automaker to launch one of these passports along with a new car.

Essentially, these passports are a consumer-facing way to figure out exactly where the components in EVs are sourced from. It also contains other characteristics of the battery (like its chemical composition, production date, type, and model), as well as statistics on battery performance and durability. The vehicle's VIN is linked to a digital document along with an easy-to-scan QR code placed on the car—in Volvo's case, that's right inside the driver's side door.

The passport will also include information about the battery's health, which is crucial to determining the value of a used EV. That's a huge "white space" in the EV world right now; dealers and other sales operations seldom know how to value these cars on the used market.

Gallery: Tesla And Audi Battery Passport Proofs-Of-Concept

Tesla and Audi have both released proof-of-concepts for their respective battery passports, and we've got to say—it looks pretty darn simple. The only critique some might have is a better consumer-facing explanation of what each tracked field really means.

Ellen Carey, Chief External Affairs Officer at Circulor (a company that specializes in these battery passports) previously told AutoCar that the passports should significantly help increase the level of accountability within the new car industry, forcing automakers to perform supply chain due diligence:

Many [manufacturers] don’t know their supply chain and often the [suppliers] are changing about three or four times a year, based on the contracts which, especially in the mid-tier section, are changing based on lower cost. It becomes less about procurement and procuring supplies and more about supply chain visibility and management to distribute the accountability across the whole thing.

All-in, these passports will run Volvo about $10 per car, according to Reuters. A more complete version of the passport will be available to regulators.

The EU hopes that requiring these passports will help consumers be better informed of where the parts in their cars are sourced from, and understand the health of the car's battery. From a recycling standpoint, the passport will help facilitate end-of-life processing and potentially increase the amount of recyclable content in the packs.

Battery passports will be required for all EVs sold after February 2027 in the EU.

60%: GM Promotes Two Ex-Apple Execs To Lead Software Team

2024 Chevrolet Blazer EV RS

General Motors' former VP of Software and Services, Mike Abbott, announced in March that he would be stepping away from his role due to health issues. Since then, GM has been scouring the ends of the earth for a suitable replacement and has decided that no single person could do the job—so they've hired two.

To fill some rather large ex-Apple shoes, GM decided to name not one, but two former Apple minds as VPs for its software division.

One of the appointments is Baris Cetinok, who has been leading the team on an interim basis following Abbott's departure. Officially, he's named lead of products, programs, and design. Cetinok's former Apple background includes Apple Pay and iCloud, and he will lead the teams that are designing GM's software roadmaps. GM says that the exec will also be responsible for processes that involve developing, launching, and improving software.

The other name is another Apple alumni who joined GM last fall: Dave Richardson. Richardson's time at Apple included Facetime, iCloud, and Siri. He will officially field GM's software and services engineering teams, which means overseeing embedded platforms, digital products, and driver assistance systems.

"GM's journey toward a tech-forward future is clearer than ever, thanks to the exceptional talent within our team and the leadership of Baris and Dave," said GM CEO Mary Barra. "They bring energy and vision, combined with extensive technical and management experience, that will continue to strengthen our software engineering and product teams. These elevated roles will ensure continuity, speed, and quality as software becomes even more central to the vehicle."

GM says that both minds have played "significant roles" in building out the automaker's latest vehicle operating systems and other digital systems within the company's fleet. The automaker credits both parties for laying the foundation for software to become a core component of its customer experience.

90%: Cruise Re-Launches In A Second City

GM Cruise Driverless Taxi

In a bid to win back public trust after a series of high-profile mishaps, GM's self-driving arm, Cruise, will continue to re-ignite its deployment by launching a small fleet of three cars in Dallas, Texas.

Dallas marks the second city that Cruise will resume its testing in, following its re-launch in Phoenix, Arizona in April. Much like Phoenix, the fleet will be driven by human operators rather than by software and will be used to collect mapping and road data for the service. At this time, the cars will not be carrying passengers.

 

Dallas was one of the most recent cities that Cruise launched in prior to the company suspending all of its driverless operations in the U.S.

Last October, the California Department of Motor Vehicles ordered Cruise to remove its robotaxis from the street, citing public safety concerns stemming that finally tipped the scales after a pedestrian was thrown in front of an autonomous Chevrolet Bolt called Panini and then dragged several feet.

Before this, the fleet of driverless taxis made news for its cars being menacing to other drivers on the road—not just in California, but in Texas as well.

InsideEVs has outlined a number of these incidents just prior to the pedestrian collision incident last year:

This isn’t the first time GM’s robotaxi business stepped on the nerves of residents in the cities it operates, with several incidents documented in San Francisco, the latest of which—involving a fire truck—led to the company reducing its fleet by 50 percent. Other notable mishaps include cars getting stuck in wet concretecolliding with a semi-truck that was making a turn, getting tangled in caution tape, and rear-ending a municipal bus.

Cruise has quite a way to go to regain the public trust. The company has already shaken up senior management, including the departure of both co-founders. But the public is still iffy on the concept as a whole, with 66% of people surveyed reporting they were afraid of autonomous cars.

Cruise says that down the line it will expand its operations into supervised driving, though a timeline has not yet been communicated.

100%: Should U.S. Cars Have A Battery Passport Too?

Volvo EX90 platform

While U.S. consumers are struggling to make sense of which vehicles can make use of the EV tax credit, the EU is powering ahead with its consumer-facing battery passport. This makes it quite easy for the buyer to understand where battery materials are coming from, the car's battery health, and still have access to plenty of extra information that they likely will never use.

Better yet, it's all accessible from a simple QR code, meaning that it's easy for buyers to check the passport should they be interested in the information. The EU's regulations requiring a battery passport actually seem to make sense in a rapidly changing market.

That being said, if the same tech was offered in the U.S., would you use it when shopping for a new car? Let me know in the comments.

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