Creation of a cheaper, lighter, longer-lasting battery is considered the holy grail of energy investing, but the path to success for a battery technology startup is a difficult one with many well-funded companies ending in bankruptcy. Kenan Sahin, a successful entrepreneur, is attempting a different approach to launching his battery technology, which could not only result in significant improvements in battery performance but help other startups along the way:
The Musk Way
As native New Englanders, we have become accustomed to Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and his maniacal focus on the task at hand, best exemplified by his famous “We’re on to Cincinnati” line following a blowout loss to the Kansas City Chiefs early in the 2014 season. Belichick teams quickly move past prior successes and failures and are completely focused on the next game; they never overlook the next challenge. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, takes a decidedly different approach to managing his business. This week, Musk announced his intention to build an all-electric pickup truck. This is an exciting development, but clearly Tesla has plenty of work to do before the launch of a pickup truck: Tesla is struggling to produce at scale the mass market Model 3, is developing the Model Y mass market crossover, has announced plans to build an all-electric heavy duty truck, and recently unveiled a new Roadster to be built in a few years. We’re not sure why this is a good time to discuss another new model with all those other challenges ahead:
As the cost of solar technology continues to decline, innovators have been finding new applications for photovoltaic cells, including integration into roofing materials, windows, building cladding, cars, etc. The prospect of a roadway that can be paved with photovoltaic cells has been envisioned for a number of years, but it looks like it is finally happening in the real world. China this week announced that it is completing the construction of a highway segment in Shandong province that is lined with photovoltaic cells under transparent cement. Of course there are many unanswered questions about the project with the three most important being the cost of the project, the durability of the roadway and the driveability of the road. But it’s an interesting development:
Automation and digitization have revolutionized and disrupted many aspects of our economy, but one segment that has been slow to adopt and embrace technology widely has been the water industry. This is changing rapidly as there are many new startups and technologies targeting water distribution, measurement, treatment, etc. Interesting perspective on where we have come from and where we need to go:
Electric Vehicle Infrastructure
With forecasts for significant growth in electric vehicles (EVs) in the next few years, there is an acute need for a robust charging infrastructure to support this fleet of EVs. There are a number of different technologies and business models that have been privately funded over the past couple of years. One UK based company, Chargemaster, is rumored to be one of the first public offerings but we expect more to follow. Chargemaster has about 50% market share in the UK and is partnered with BMW, Jaguar, Nissan and Tesla. Currently, it has 6,500 charging stations, 40,000 registered users and plans for significant growth in the next few years:
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As of 12/31/17, the Fund's top ten holdings are Umicore SA (4.62%), Philips Lighting NV (4.07%), FANUC CORP (3.96%), Kornit Digital Ltd. (3.95%), Xylem, Inc. (3.54%), Watts Water Technologies, Inc. (3.44%), Keyence Corp (3.30%), Trimble, Inc. (3.29%), Sensate Technologies Holding NV (3.22%), and Mueller Water Products, Inc. (3.14%).
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