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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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The Hyundai Sonata won accolades for its user experience.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai North America

Each year, Wards Auto evaluates each automaker's infotainment and safety system offerings, diving deep into the features they offer as well as evaluating the systems' ease of use. They test then score the systems based on the user experience in reference to each vehicle's touch screens, voice controls, connectivity, and driver-assistance technologies. They also took value into consideration.

This year, the fifth year for the Wards 10 Best UX Awards, the testers scrutinized 18 eligible vehicles. The list of nominees included:

  • Acura RDX
  • Cadillac CTS-V
  • Hyundai Sonata
  • Mercedes-Benz CLA
  • Toyota Highlader
  • Alfa Romeo Giulia
  • Chevrolet Trailblazer
  • Kia Seltos
  • Nissan Sentra
  • Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport
  • Audi Q7
  • Ford Escape
  • Lincoln Aviator
  • Ram 1500
  • BMW X7
  • Honda CR-V Hybrid
  • Mazda CX-30
  • Subaru Legacy

Here are the winners.

2021 Kia Seltos

2021 Kia Seltos Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Wards Auto: "Kia's all-new Seltos is packed with infotainment and technology features that give the small CUV a youthful energy that's hard to resist."

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Wards Auto: "Augmented-reality navigation, stellar ADAS, and a 64-color light show propel the $48,295 Mercedes-Benz CLA to UX leadership."

2020 Toyota Highlander

2020 Toyota Highlander Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

Wards Auto: "Toyota's redesigned Highlander three-row CUV is the only vehicle this year to win both Wards 10 Best Interiors and Wards 10 Best UX honors, thanks to an interior and tech overhaul that keeps it ahead of the competition."

2020 Hyundai Sonata

2020 Hyundai Sonata Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Wards Auto: "Big displays, tons of UX and ADAS features make 2020 Sonata unbeatable value proposition."

2020 Ford Escape

2020 Ford Escape Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Wards Auto: "The compact CUV is a 2020 Wards 10 Best UX winner for showing how it's done right in so many ways."

2020 Subaru Legacy

2020 Subaru Legacy Photo courtesy of Subaru of America, Inc.

Wards Auto: "The '20 Legacy is another strong UX player and is the fourth consecutive Wards 10 Best UX winner for Subaru, following last year's award-winning Outback, the Ascent in 2018 and Impreza in 2017."

2020 Audi Q7

2020 Audi Q7

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

Wards Auto: "If owners take time to drill down into the immense customization content, they will be richly rewarded. In the realm of the automotive user experience, this is where the magic happens."

2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Wards Auto: "The user-experience award for the five-seat Atlas Cross Sport comes on the heels of a 2019 honor for the Arteon sedan. Volkswagen is on a hot streak, and buyers of the value-driven brand are the clear winners."

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer

2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Wards Auto: "The Chevrolet Trailblazer wins a 2020 Wards 10 Best UX trophy for a long list of standard, user-friendly features, first-rate driver-assistance technologies and even wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with a starting price below $20,000."

2020 BMW X7

2020 BMW X7

Photo courtesy of BMW

Wards Auto: "Voice controls and driver-assistance technologies work great, personal preferences are easily cued up and Munich's largest vehicle ever soothes the soul with a user experience beyond compare, able to "Vitalize" when drowsy or "Relax" when tense."

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The new Mercedes-Benz E-Active Body Control technology behaves differently depending on the mode the driver selects.

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The next-gen Mercedes-Benz S-Class is available with E-Active Body Control suspension technology that is designed to predictively adapt to different driving situations, analyzing information at the rate of 1,000 times per second.

The system enhances the car with a variety of equipment and technology. It adds semi-supporting hydropneumatics to the air suspension. The air springs bear the base load of the vehicle body and gradually regulate the level of the model. As explained by Mercedes, "The hydropneumatics generate dynamic forces that overlay the air suspension forces, and actively support and dampen the vehicle body."

2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class The technology is designed to better the experience for the driver and passengers.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Each wheel has a damper that is installed inside the axle. That damper's two working chambers have an adjustable damping valve and a hydraulic pressure reservoir. Each damper is connected to an iltelligent motor/pump that works via attachment to the car's 48-volt network by hydraulic lines. The motor/pump regulates the flow of hydraulic fluid, enabling adjustment. All four motors/pumps are coordinated by a central control unit.

The system utilizes five processors, 20 sensors, and a stereo camera to work. In addition not absorbing bumps, the system counters body roll, pitch, and lift.

While in Comfort driving mode, the road surface scan uses the camera to monitor the road surface ahead of the vehicle. The system then utilizes spring struts to reduce body movement. In Curve driving model, the car is allowed to lean into the bends. Mercedes says that the Curve driving mode is helpful for passengers with sensitive stomachs.

When opting for E-Active Body. Control, buyers also have access to new Pre-Safe functionality. When a lateral collision is detected, the vehicle body can be raised by the suspension within a few tenths of a second. This move directs the forces of the impact towards the most resistant structures in the lower area of the vehicle. This can lessen the amount of impact passed onto the cabin and its passengers.

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