Axial flux motors: leading companies and products?

Axial flux motor companies

This data-file profiles leading companies and products in the space of axial flux motors, in order to highlight ‘who they are’ and ‘what they do’.

One tab compiles the details of ten leading axial flux motor designs, with an average power density of almost 8kW/kg, which is even higher than the PMSRMs used in the latest Teslas, and around 10x higher than a typical AC induction motor in heavy industry. Other technical parameters of these motors are also compiled.

Leading companies are also profiled later in the data-file, based on reviewing over 1,200 patents, the companies’ size and their recent news flow. The pace of patent activity has been rising at a CAGR of 16% over the past decade, including traditional cap goods, autos and motors companies, plus pure-plays in axial flux motors (see diagram above).

Mine trucks: transport economics?

Mine Truck Economics

There are around 50,000 giant mining trucks in operation globally. The largest examples are around 16m long, 10m wide, 8m high, can carry around 350-450 tons and reach top speeds of 40mph.

This data-file captures the economics of a mine haul truck. A 10% IRR requires a charge of $10/ton of material, if it is transported 100-miles from the mine to processing facility. Assumptions can be stress-tested overleaf.

Fuel consumption is large, around 40bpd, or 0.3mpg, comprising around 30% of total mine truck costs at c$1.5-2/gal diesel prices. Some lower carbon fuels are c5x more expensive, and would thus inflate mined commodity costs.

High utilization rates are also crucial to economics, to defray fixed costs, which are c50% of total costs, as our numbers assume each truck will cover an average of 500 miles per day for c20-25 years.

LNG transport: shipping economics?

LNG shipping costs

The purpose of this data-file is to model the economics of shipping large cryogenic cargoes, such as LNG carriers or even dual-purpose vessels that can carry both LNG and CO2. We break down LNG shipping costs, and day-rates needed to earn 10% IRRs, including capex, opex, fuel, maintenance and port fees.

Shipping an LNG cargo costs $1-3/mcf, while the most important input variable is the distance from source to destination. In our base case, we assume a distance of 5,750-miles, from the US to Europe, which yields a total transport cost of $130k/day or $1/mcf of delivered LNG.

Transportation distance is the most important cost driver for large-scale shipping. An LNG tanker pays a fixed ‘day rate’, it might cover 400 miles in a day, while its cargo also boils off at around 0.1% boil off rate per day. Hence the longer the journey, the higher the cost per cargo.

Vessel size is another cost driver, with economies of scale for larger and larger carriers. Capex cost data per vessel is shown below. A good base case is that a large new LNG carrier, with 170,000 m3 capacity will cost around $200M to construct.

Further details can be found in our broader LNG research and broader CCS research. The economics for shipping LNG in this model can also be compared with the economics of shipping CO2.

The purpose of this data-file is to help decision-makers quickly model the economic costs of LNG shipping, and other cryogenic cargo shipping. What day-rate is needed for a 10% IRR? What is the resultant effective shipping cost in $/mcf or $/ton? And how can these numbers be disaggregated between different input variables? Please download the data-file to stress test these inputs.

Commercial aviation: air travel economics?

air travel economics

This data-file estimates the economics of a commercial airliner, over the course of its life: i.e., what ticket price must be charged to earn a 10% IRR after covering the capex costs of the plane, fuel costs, crew, maintenance and airport and air traffic charges.

We conclude that the single largest determinants of economics are the utilization and load factor of the plane. Fuel and maintenance are likely to be joint second.

The IEA’s proposal for a $250/ton CO2 price in the developed world would likely increase average ticket prices by 30%. But this would most likely end up as an outright tax on travel, as 2-4x higher CO2 prices again would be required to incentivize the use of alternative, low carbon aviation fuels.

Container freight: shipping economics?

Economics of container shipping

This data-file models the total costs of shipping a container c10,000 nautical miles from China to the West.

Specifically, we calculate what freight rate is required to earn a 10% IRR on constructing a new 20,000 TEU container ship, based on the capital costs, fuel costs and other operating costs.

New emerging fuels can lower the CO2 intensity of shipping from their baseline of 0.15kg/TEU-mile by 60-90%, however this may come at the cost of re-inflating freight costs by 30%-3x.

Economics can be stress-tested in the data-file, varying vessel size, route length, fuel economy, utilization and other cost lines.

ChargePoint: electric vehicle charging edge?

Chargepoint electric vehicle charging

ChargePoint went public via SPAC in March-2021, via a combination with Switchback Energy, valued at $2.4bn. This made it the first listed EV charging company in the US. It aims to be one of the world’s largest suppliers of charging services amidst the electrification of mobility and freight.

Our review finds a library of simple, clear, specific and easy-to-understand patents that are heavily focused on operational aspects of running EV charging networks, especially the customer and EVSE provider experience. Many also cover the look-and-feel of charging stations and their components. But whether there is a pure ‘technology edge’ is more debatable.

A controversy for the future is how aggressively ChargePoint and other EV charging companies will enforce against almost  inevitable patent infringements, especially if competition intensifies in this sector.

Vehicle mass: what opportunities to improve fuel economy?

Mass of vehicle by material

This data-file breaks down the typical materials that contribute to the weight of a 2-ton car. We estimate that steel comprises c50% of the volume and c80% of the weight.

Replacing 10% of this steel with a lighter and stronger alternative, such as carbon fiber is likely to improve a vehicle’s overall weight and fuel economy by c16%. The carbon fiber emits more CO2 as it is produced, but this is repaid after around 20,000 miles of driving. Carbon fiber is also c50x more expensive than steel, but again this up-front cost is paid back after 30,000-70,000 miles of driving.

For comparison, adding a 10kWh battery to hybridise a vehicle likely pays back after 10,000-30,000 miles.

Underlying calculations can be stress-tested in the data-file.

Battery recycling: long division?

Battery recycling costs and challenges

Recycling lithium batteries could be worth $100bn per year by 2040 while supporting electric vehicles’ ascent. Hence new companies are emerging to recapture 95% of spent materials with environmentally sound methods. To be practical, the technology still needs to be proven at scale, battery chemistries must stabilize and cheaper alternatives must be banned. Our 15-page note explores what it would take for battery-recycling to get compelling.

Nio: EV-charging breakthrough?

Nio battery swap technology

Nio is a listed, electric vehicle manufacturer, headquartered in Shanghai, founded in 2014, that IPO-ed in New York in 2018. It has partnerships with CATL and Sinopec.

The company opened its first battery swap station in Shenzhen, in 2018, which has since expanded to 200 battery-swap stations. The 2-millionth battery swap was completed in March-2021.

The Power Swap station 2.0 is scheduled to be rolled out in mid-2021, lowering the swap time to under three minutes, and carrying 13 battery packs.

Aggregating battery packs into an integrated charging stations is also particularly helpful for demand shifting to backstop increasingly renewable-heavy grids.

We have reviewed ten of the company’s patents. We conclude it has a genuine moat in swappable batteries, which could only have been built up by an auto-maker that controls the vehicle and battery designs, as well as the battery swapping stations.

Oil demand: the rise of autonomous vehicles?

medium-term oil demand

We are raising our medium-term oil demand forecasts by 2.5-3.0 Mbpd to reflect the growing reality of autonomous vehicles. AVs eventually improve fuel economy in cars and trucks by 15-35%, and displace 1.2 Mbpd of air travel. But their convenience also increases total travel demand. This 20-page note outlines the opportunity and leading companies.

Copyright: Thunder Said Energy, 2019-2023.