Arriving for 2023, the second-generation Kia Niro should have more mental stickiness. Modeled after the 2019 “HabaNiro” concept—Get it? Like the pepper but mixed with “Niro?” Such fun!—the new Niro has a similar overall shape to its predecessor, but the details between the bumpers are toughened up with blockier forms and edgier flourishes.
Don’t just call the Niro interesting-looking “for a hybrid.” This is a genuinely compelling small crossover, with angular new headlights, a broad hood, and chunky sculpting around its wheel wells and lower body. There are clear parallels to the HabaNiro concept in the contrast-color panel slicing up each side of the body behind each rear door, and Kia also mined that show car for those V-shaped LED headlight accents and the vertical taillights that frame the rear hatch.
GM dealers across the country told Insider they are generally optimistic about the future of their businesses and that they’re happy to sell cars no matter their power source. But some also expressed concern about how, exactly, to handle the expense (between $50,000 and $500,000 in upgrades, according to a GM spokesperson), the loss of revenue from cars that need less maintenance, and how to encourage customers to embrace a new way of getting around.
“Is it a concern? Absolutely,” said Paul Householder, service director at Michigan-based LaFontaine Automotive Group. “We just don’t know what we don’t know yet.”
It is clear, though, that dealers must be proactive. “It’s all that much more significant for us as dealers to be engaged,” said Ben Faricy, president of The Faricy Boys auto group in Colorado Springs, Colorado. “We know that this is coming, and we would rather be ahead of the game than behind the eight ball.”
The race is on to secure the global supply of lithium, a necessary component in the production of batteries for EVs.
Even though China’s lithium reserves rank as the world’s fourth largest, the silvery metal is mainly found in the salt lakes around Tibet and Qinghai, a sparsely populated Chinese province spread across the high-altitude Tibetan plateau. That makes it difficult to refine and transport. While the production of lithium carbonate from Qinghai Lake has doubled this year, demand still outpaces supply, according to Dong Yang, the vice president of leading automotive think tank China EV 100. To make up the shortfall, China imports about 70% of lithium from overseas. And with the prospect of even more lithium needed as the EV revolution picks up speed, companies are stepping up efforts to secure supply for its dominant refinery sector.
Ganfeng Lithium, one of the world’s top lithium producers, bid for a stake in Canada’s Millennial Lithium in July, while battery making giant CATL, led by billionaire Zeng Yuqun, joined the race a few months later, trumping Ganfeng. In the end, it was a third company, Lithium Americas, that emerged victorious (although Ganfeng is a shareholder in Lithium Americas). Undeterred, Ganfeng in September bought out its partner, International Lithium, in the Mariana project in Argentina, one of the biggest deposits globally. Last month, Zijin Mining paid around $755 million cash for Neo Lithium, a Canadian group that also has operations in Argentina.
Carmakers are getting in on the action too, with BYD earlier this month inking a four-year supply deal with Do-Fluoride New Materials for at least 56,050 tons of lithium hexafluorophosphate through December 2025. Lyu Xiangyang, the cousin of BYD founder Wang Chuanfu whose loan helped Wang establish the company in 1995, also has investments in spodumene, a lithium-bearing raw mineral, in Sichuan province, which should bolster BYD’s future supplies.
Meanwhile » Stellantis said it has secured a five-year supply of battery-grade lithium hydroxide to support its plans to convert to 98% electrified vehicles by 2025. » Washington Post »
Stellantis, the company that combined PSA Peugeot and Fiat Chrysler, signed a binding agreement with Vulcan Energy Resources Ltd. in Germany, which uses geothermal energy to produce the battery-quality lithium hydroxide from brine without using fossil fuels. Vulcan will supply between 81,000 metric tons and 99,000 metric tons of lithium hydroxide over the five-year term of the agreement.
This is the first time Japan’s No.3 automaker, one of the world’s first mass-market electric vehicle (EV) makers with its Leaf model more than a decade ago, is unveiling a comprehensive electrification plan.
Nissan will be spending twice as much as it did in the previous decade for a share of the EV market as rivals, including Toyota Motor Corp and newer entrants such as Tesla Inc, move ahead with their electric-car plans.
Nissan said on Monday it will launch 23 electrified vehicles by 2030, including 15 electric vehicles (EVs), and wants to reduce lithium-ion battery costs by 65% within eight years. It also plans to introduce potentially game-changing all solid-state batteries by March 2029.
Elsewhere » Bloomberg
As part of Biden’s plan to rein in carbon emissions, the bill contains a provision which would provide a $7,500 tax rebate to any consumer who purchases an electric vehicle (EV), including both all-electric and plug-in hybrids. However, that amount increases by $4,500 if the car was manufactured in a unionized U.S. factory, as well as by an additional $500 if the vehicle contains a U.S.-made battery.
Ostensibly, this provision is part of Biden’s “Buy American” policy of incentivizing or mandating purchases to be made domestically. In practice, the order has simply carried over the protectionism of the Trump trade policy and increased costs to taxpayers. The EV credit proposal, though, is much more egregious, in that it not only incentivizes a particular type of product, but incentivizes particular brands, as well.
If enacted as written, the bonus $4,500 in EV credits could only apply to cars made by Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler). In other words, a driver who wants to purchase a hybrid Toyota Camry, which U.S. News & World Report ranks as having “Great” reliability, does not qualify for the extra money, even though the car is manufactured in Kentucky. But if that same shopper elects to purchase a Chevrolet Bolt, which recently halted production because the batteries were catching fire, they would receive the extra rebate. As a matter of fact, out of more than 50 EVs currently on the market, the only vehicles which currently qualify for the extra money are two variations of the Bolt.