Electric Vehicles

Volvo implementing blockchain to help trace lifespan of cobalt used in batteries

Volvo has announced plans to use blockchain to help trace the life path of the cobalt it uses in its electrified vehicles.

Photo courtesy of Volvo Cars

Cobalt production is on the rise to support the growing needs of the automotive industry as automakers set electrified vehicle adoption targets worldwide. The calls for the adoption of sustainable business practices are growing larger as well, with Volvo announcing last week that it will lower its carbon footprint by 40 percent.

Volvo Cars will become the first automaker to implement global traceability of cobalt used in its batteries by applying blockchain technology. The technology will allow for transparency when it comes to sharing reliable data on the supply chain of the materials that cannot be simply altered undetected for profit.

"We have always been committed to an ethical supply chain for our raw materials," said Martina Buchhauser, head of procurement at Volvo Cars. "With blockchain technology we can take the next step towards ensuring full traceability of our supply chain and minimising any related risks, in close collaboration with our suppliers."

The Swedish automaker gets its batteries from CATL of China and LG Chem of South Korea, who have also agreed to be part of this tracking program when it kicks off later this year.

Technology firms Circulor and Oracle will operate the blockchain technology in CATL's supply chain following successful testing during a pilot program over the summer. The Responsible Sourcing Blockchain Network, RCS Global, and IBM are rolling out the technology in LG Chem's supply chain.

In the case of cobalt, blockchain will record the material's origin, attributes including weight and size, chain of custody, and supplier behavior.

The agreements regarding blockchain technology between Volvo Cars, CATL, and LG Chem cover the supply of batteries over the coming decade for next generation Volvo and Polestar models.

What is blockchain? A blockchain is a digital ledger that includes records linked to each other via cryptography. When used in the constrains of supply chains, the technology is used to create records of transactions which cannot be altered. It also sets a standard for what data can be recorded. Blockchain allows participants to verify and audit transactions independently.

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The IIHS may increase the speeds it uses to test advanced driver aids.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently announced that it is considering changing the speeds it uses to test vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention systems. The agency currently tests the systems at 12 and 25 mph, but says that the speeds don't accurately represent the types of crashes the safety tech is meant to prevent.

Front crash preventionwww.youtube.com

Automatic emergency braking (AEB) is designed to notify of a possible collision and help respond with automatic application of braking. Just like a human using the brake pedal, it can stop the car, but higher speeds make it difficult to stop in time. The new tests would be conducted at 35 to 45 mph, which is the range where a large number of rear-end crashes occur. As Automotive News noted, an IIHS study showed 43 percent of rear-end crashes occur at speeds of 45 mph or less, so it's important to have a test that shows how well the tech performs at those levels.

A whopping 85 percent of 2022 vehicles earned a "Superior" rating in the current testing regime, so the IIHS will remove it from 2023 testing and Top Safety Pick award evaluations. Their view is that, since the majority of vehicles meet the criteria, it's no longer an accurate way of evaluating performance. In its place, the agency introduced a night test for automatic emergency braking systems that will begin next year.

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Volvo will install 60 ChargePoint chargers at Starbucks locations in the west and Northwest.

Volvo

Volvo plans to be an electric-only automaker by 2030, and along the way to that goal, the automaker is investing in services and infrastructure to support its vehicles. Today, Volvo announced a partnership with coffee giant Starbucks that will provide dozens of chargers at coffee shops in the west and northwest U.S.

As part of the deal, Volvo will install up to 60 company-branded chargers at up to 15 Starbucks stores on the route between Denver and Seattle. Volvo says it aims to install charging locations every 100 miles along the 1,350-mile route between the Mile-High City and Starbucks hometown of Seattle.

Volvo-Starbucks PartnershipVolvo's goal is to install a charger every 100 miles. Volvo

Though they'll have Volvo's name on the front, the chargers are from ChargePoint, and drivers will use a built-in ChargePoint app to access services. The function is available in the vehicle's infotainment system, and will help locate and use the chargers. Volvo says all EV drivers will be able to access the chargers for a fee, but notes that its owners will get free or discounted charging.

A Volvo-Starbucks partnership isn't as crazy as it sounds at first. Beyond the fact that there's likely quite a bit of overlap in both brands' customers, the move furthers Starbucks' sustainability goals and provides Volvo owners with a free or low-cost charging solution. The project should be done by the end of this year, so keep your eyes open if you're getting coffee in a Volvo EV in the area.

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