In a podcast hosted by Absurd Curiosity, Atlis CEO Mark Hanchett recently sat down to talk about the Atlis truck, systems that will make it possible, and some challenges in the electric vehicle (EV) environment. The podcast is around an hour long, so I’m not going to spoil it all for you, but I will dive into a few topics that were discussed.
Absurd Curiosity is a podcast hosted by three people. One of the hosts, Cole Davis, is based right here in Baton Rouge and is a premed student who will be graduating in December with hopes to specialize in work that combines medicine with AI. Cole is responsible for helping get masks and ventilators for our local hospitals during the early stages of the pandemic. I spammed Elon Musk with Cole’s tweet enough that he replied with a promise of aid — though, fortunately, we did not need the extra ventilators since cases had just started slowing down.
Stephen Palotta and Scotty Smith are the other two hosts. Pallotta is the club admin for Tesla Owners New York State. Smith is pursuing a career in medicine and health education. The podcast covers a range of topics, especially those relating to science and technology. In this episode, the trio interviewed Mark Hanchett, who is the CEO and founder of Atlis Motors, which is focused on producing electric medium- to heavy-duty work vehicles, particularly in the pickup truck industry.
One of the topics in the interview centered around the challenge that those wanting to get into electric trucking may face: charging. Cole asked, “You have been adamant about bringing fast, affordable, and easy charging stations along with all of your trucks. Is this technology that you’re building going to be proprietary, meaning that only Atlis trucks can go to your stations? Can other EV trucks go to it?”
Hanchett replied: “Is it proprietary developed in house? Yes. Is it going to be opened up? Yes. We want to own the network and the experience but we will basically open that technology up for other manufacturers — OEM vendors — who say, ‘Hey, Atlis, you have this 1.5-megawatt station. We now have a big truck that can use that, can we plug into it?’ — ‘Yeah, here are the documents, here’s the specs, here’s the cab model for the connector, here’s the communication protocols how you get it done. Build this and plug in. Away you go!” So, Atlis seems intent on building a charging network that will service Atlis trucks as well as other electric trucks if they are built to be compatible.
On the topic of charging, Cole also asked, “You guys reached, in-house, 9 minutes. Is that true?”
“Yeah, 9:26 is the fastest time we achieved in-house basically using a bunch of off-the-shelf components to prove that the technology, the concept … should work,” Hanchett replied.
Stephen Pallotta asked about the size of the battery pack. “It’s a small battery pack because we’re doing it in a lab environment — not necessarily a large environment. Now, pack size I will say doesn’t necessarily matter,” Hatchett started to explain. “No matter how big the pack is, you can only pump so much energy into each cell, so it doesn’t matter if it’s a 100-kilowatt-hour pack or a 1-kilowatt-hour pack, or a .1 kilowatt-hour pack. Each cell can only accept so much energy at such a rate. So, as you go from a single cell to a big 150-kilowatt-hour pack, if the single-cell only charges in an hour; the 250-kilowatt pack will only charge in an hour — doesn’t matter if you have a megawatt station there.” This is something people typically don’t know about EV batteries, because we just assume that bigger takes longer to fill up.
“It’s not just the amount of energy you’re throwing; it’s all ratioed in a sense,” Pallotta noted. “Right. Now, where a larger pack becomes an issue is on thermal management. What you truly have to do is you need to get each of these individual cells impedance or resistance down as low as you possibly can — much lower, like a tenth, of what you see today in order to minimize the amount of heat that is generated while you’re doing this. That,” Hanchett explained, “is the larger challenge and part of the proprietary cell technology that we’re developing today. That’s actually a fundamental thing we started with — thermal management.”
Another takeaway from the podcast is the market that Atlis is taking aim at. “I love this statement: Never chase the competition,” Hanchett said. “Choose your path — carve your own path. In my mind, if you’re not going for that heavy hitter capability, especially in the work section, you’re really going to have a hard time converting the mass market–the mass majority of the pickup truck owners that are out there. Pickup trucks are the pinnacle of the automotive world.”
The podcast is around an hour long and you can watch the full video here.
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