Business News: Swatch Is Going To Make Car Batteries To Compete With Tesla (Seriously)
Starting back in 2015, Swatch Group CEO Nick Hayek started dropping hints in interviews that its Renata battery company and Belenos Clean Power (a research company in which Swatch Group has a 51% stake) were dealing with another chemistry for electric vehicle batteries that would have significant business implications. (Renata started life as a development component supplier in 1952 and was gained by Swatch in 1982; they presently make an immense scope of both consumer and industrial batteries for watches, listening devices, etc.) According to a Bloomberg report from October 2015 , Hayek even considered taking Belenos public in the wake of the Volkswagen emissions scandal, guaranteeing at the time that the Belenos battery would be drastically superior to those being used by Tesla.
When I first caught wind of this, I started doing some looking around, delving into the history of the Smart Car (a partnership among Swatch and Mercedes-Benz) and calling up anybody I could discover who may know something. Almost universally, Swatch Group representatives would do everything short of hanging up the telephone on me the second I asked about Belenos or Renata by name. I figured I needed to give the story some space to create, and it would seem that it’s at long last starting to come to fruition publicly.
Vanadium stream battery energy storage office, UniEnergy Technologies.
I will not get too off course on the specialized side here (you can discover those details elsewhere on the off chance that you’re interested), however the new battery chemistry Belenos and Renata are using is really a blend of old and new. The battery’s cathodes use a vanadium pentoxide solution, an innovation that dates back to the 1980s, yet with another electrolyte composition that Swatch claims offers higher energy storage density, longer battery life, and better re-energize rates. Indeed, the company has previously guaranteed that its batteries will have half more energy storage limit than the most exceptional lithium-based batteries available.
Importantly, Swatch also claims that these new batteries will be a lot safer than lithium particle batteries; one of the advantages of vanadium pentoxide batteries is that they’re fluid based, and non-flamable. There are disadvantages, however; historically, their more noteworthy weight and the expansion of siphoning systems has bound vanadium pentoxide battery use mostly to reinforcement energy storage in static installations. Extra details on the chemistry and safety will surely come as Swatch gets closer to real production.
Swatch Group CEO Nick Hayek, with NFC installment empowered Swatch, in Shanghai, 2015
Today’s report from Reuters paints an interesting, if not optimistic, image of Swatch’s endeavor however. Quotes from investors and analytics highlight Hayek’s timetable of spinning up a $10 billion every year business in three years as both innovatively and logistically impossible. Hayek has run into issues like this previously, most remarkably with his 2014 and 2015 comments about crushing Apple in the smartwatch game. We’re yet to see that appear in any significant manner. In the 2015 Bloomberg report, Hayek said, “Swatch will start creation in June through its Renata unit, which makes batteries for timepieces. At first Renata will deliver as numerous as 200 every day, in various sizes. The innovation will be used and tested in e-bikes, drones and electrical scooters in 2016, and it’ll be prepared for cars from 2017.” As of now, in any case, Renata does not seem to have shipped vanadium pentoxide batteries for any application.
The last thing to note is the setting for this move. Swatch Group hasn’t had the best year on the watch side of things. Working benefit and net benefit were both down more than half year-over-year for the first 50% of 2016 and share prices are down 10% this year (subsequent to falling more than 20% last year). In contrast to different groups, Swatch hasn’t made the massive occupation cuts to lessen costs, and the short term strategy to fix the issue isn’t altogether clear.
You can wager we’ll be following this story closely as it develops and we’ll be contacting various sources inside and outside Swatch Group to learn more over the coming week. Stay tuned, this one will undoubtedly be downright strange.
You can look at the prior reports from Watches By SJX and Reuters for extra analysis.
UniEnergy vanadium stream battery storage installation by means of Wikipedia and UniEnergy Technologies.
Tesla S battery pack picture by means of Wikipedia, by Oleg Alexandrov