11 Top Cleantech Stories of the Week

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For this weekly newsletter, I’m highlighting 11 core stories that I think stand out above the rest. We cover so much cleantech news that it can be very hard to distill or narrow down to the most important stories of the week, but the following 11 seem extra noteworthy and useful (and, yes, I am stuffing multiple CleanTechnica articles into some of these individual stories).

BYD Atto 3 displays at the Ayala Greenbelt Activity Center. Photo from BYD.

1. BYD is growing fast, through growth in China as well as growing exports to more and more countries. The company just produced its 6 millionth plugin vehicle, and that was only 3 months after it produced its 5 millionth! The BYD ATTO 3 is now available in more than 50 countries, and one of those is the Philippines, where BYD just arrived with a bang, preparing 19 auto dealers for EVs and planning to roll out 100 charging stations nationwide. (BYD also has some sodium-ion battery plans underway that we may want to keep an eye on.)

2. Cruise is collapsing on itself. Maybe it will bounce back, maybe it won’t. Cofounder and CEO Kyle Vogt resigned recently, and cofounder and chief product officer Dan Kan resigned soon after. One analysis highlighted what may have been Cruise’s biggest problem — taking on too much risk, or put in more direct terms, getting into too many accidents. Another analysis narrowed in on transparency problems at the company. Whatever the biggest issues were and are, it’s clear that Cruise has been collapsing on itself lately. Can it rebuild?

3. There’s a lot of nonsense on YouTube. I guess this isn’t news, but Jennifer Sensiba had a great piece showing how much misleading anti-EV nonsense is getting featured on YouTube these days — and getting a lot of views there. It’s concerning. What’s the solution? I don’t know — well, aside from liking and subscribing to our YouTube channel so that more people see our EVObsession content rather than that other dross.

4. EV charging stations need to be comfortable and appealing. Again, this observation didn’t require Albert Einstein level calculus to figure out, but it’s something that hides in plain site much more than it should. We just know and accept that EV charging stations have boring, bland, barren designs. Jennifer points out that some good architecture could go a long way in improving the appeal, comfort, and safety of EV charging stations. In our latest EVObsession show, I also note the leadership from Fastned in this regard as well as the challenges EV charging networks face in implementing such designs — lack of money, in short.

5. Volkswagen is going back to its roots — cheap cars. Volkswagen has had an interesting evolution over the past few decades. It tried to premium-ize itself in that time in order to compete more in the upper half of the market where profit margins are particularly tasty. In our latest EVObsession episode, Jo Borras explains the 1980s and 1990s roots of that in the US. The problem Volkswagen has run into in the new EV era is that it hasn’t been at the forefront of software or efficiency improvements, and its sales have thus been weaker than targeted. That’s especially been the case in the critical, dominant market of China. Volkswagen’s solution — in China as well as in the US and elsewhere — seems to be going back to its roots producing good cars at truly more affordable prices. The company is reportedly planning some more affordable electric cars that it hopes will boost its overseas sales again.

6. The battery market is growing rapidly. Worldwide, EV battery production capacity grew 45% in Q3 2023 compared to the same quarter of 2022. China continued to hold more than 50% of that production capacity (54%), but other markets in the top 5 — the US, Germany, the UK, and France — are seeing much faster capacity growth. Those next four markets grew by about 50% year over year in the third quarter, while China grew by about 30% year over year.

7. US pro-EV policies have driven thousands of jobs and a big boost to the economy. Many people don’t want to acknowledge this because of issues they have or feel they have with Joe Biden, but the EV progress his administration has stimulated is tremendous and helps the US enormously. It’s also a relief, considering that the previous four years included multiple attacks on the EV sector from the federal government.

8. The Cupra Born is a great, sporty EV. No, it’s not coming to the US, but it’s a great option in Europe and now Australia. David Waterworth got reviews from two owners, and I think the story is worth a read for anyone curious about this car. It’s also interesting to me how they ended up in the Born.

9. McDonald’s is getting 2,000+ EV fast chargers in France, thanks to an initiative by EDF subsidiary IZIVIA. These 2,000+ fast chargers would “represent an increase of 25% in the existing fleet of ultra charging stations” available to the public in France.

10. Hyundai is surging forward in the EV world. This is one of the most exciting auto companies to watch at the moment when it comes to electric vehicles. It just opened a “factory of the future” in Singapore, where it is already manufacturing the IONIQ 5 and the fully autonomous IONIQ 5 robotaxi. It will produce the hyper-efficient IONIQ 6 there next. Overall, Hyundai saw a big 18% brand boost in 2023. Without a doubt, that’s well deserved.

11. Hydrogen continues to get pushed for poor, illogical, counterproductive reasons, including for trucking in Europe. Michael Barnard intellectually wrestles with the ICCT on this here, here, here, and here. And if you know Mike, you know that he brings the receipts.

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