I’ve Seen the Future … And It’s Electrifying!

Electric propulsion goes mainstream. Quietly, big parts of the industrial complex are plugging in.

You could easily mistake the Sun Flyer for many other small planes, like a Cessna or a Piper.

But the Sun Flyer stands out as a new breed of all-electric airplane.

Created by Bye Aerospace, the two-seater already has a rep for being cost-effective and easy-to-maintain.

It’s a winning combination.

More importantly, the electric aircraft signals the future of propulsion. Investors should get ready now.

The Sun Flyer has taken the electric engine to new heights. Credit: www.sunflyer.com

The Sun Flyer took flight because of three big emerging trends. Better batteries. More-efficient electric motors. And advances in software that make it easier than ever to design and build electric products.

George Bye founded his namesake aerospace company in 2007. At the time, electric airplanes were science fiction. Electric motors were still too heavy. And batteries lacked power.

So, he began with a solar-electric plane.

The Silent Falcon was a 30-pound ultralight. It used the electric motor for climbing, but it needed a tow to get airborne.

Still, the Falcon proved that all-electric flight was possible. Solar panels spanned its two 7-foot wings. They gave the ultralight enough juice to fly for up to seven hours.

Then came a new breed of electric engines. They were lighter and they developed more torque at lower revolutions.

These engines used aerospace-grade electric motors. And they ran on new lithium-ion batteries from Panasonic.

If all of this seems vaguely familiar, it’s because it’s essentially the Tesla story.

Restrained by battery technology, the electric-car company began making a limited number of very expensive vehicles. It was not really a business. Economies of scale did not exist.

Then Panasonic made tremendous progress at reducing the cost of lithium-ion batteries. In 2010, the batteries cost about $1,000 per kilowatt hour. By 2016, the price cratered to $227 per kilowatt hour.

The price plummeted 35% from 2014 to 2015 alone, as documented in a voluminous study by the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management.

The trend is continuing.

The main drivers include advances in chemistry and aggressive pricing by manufacturers that want to stake out market share.

And that means electric propulsion is feasible for many things.

Kongsberg, a Norwegian maritime engineering firm, plans a fleet of electric cargo ships. And as an added touch, the vessels are the expected to be fully autonomous, too.

The ships will ferry payloads from a chemical plant in Porsgrunn to the ports of Brevik and Larvik. Making the deliveries by sea will eliminate 40,000 diesel truck trips per year.

Meanwhile, even old-school manufacturers like Porsche and Volvo have plans for entire electric-vehicle fleets.

Hyperloop, a super-fast magnetic-levitation concept, will push electric trains into the future. Teams are working diligently to make it a reality.

Hyperloop One is the furthest along. It has already completed proof-of-concept and lined-up consortiums of well-heeled European and Middle Eastern investors. They’re all anxious to see the first working prototypes.

If the idea of shuttling through a vacuum tube at 760 mph doesn’t get your blood rushing, you’re thinking about the future wrong.

Meanwhile, big aerospace companies are taking a very aggressive view on electrification. Airbus has a dedicated division of engineers to electric aircraft.

The company already has plans for an electric-powered, short-range, urban-commuter plane. Its Vahana project, designed in Silicon Valley, imagines an autonomous, single-seater electric plane by 2020.

Investors should be aware that all these projects are coming, fast. Finding investments to take advantage of emerging trends is not easy. It involves countless hours of research. It demands discipline. It’s the service I provide to members.

As an example, Delphi (DLPH), a well-regarded parts supplier has an inside track to the coming electric-motor colossus. A chemical company is building new solutions to improve battery effectiveness. Another builds the robots that make the batteries.

The bottom line: Electric propulsion is a real theme. Investors need to get ready.

Best wishes,

Jon Markman

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Comments 3

  1. Invano August 23, 2017

    Who will pay for the electric grid necessary to re-charge all these battery toys? At present, the U.S.A. grid could never handle all these vehicles recharging at the same time. Solar power will not be available at night when owners will be plugging in their battery automobiles.

    Reply

    • Edward M Lieber August 28, 2017

      Solar power can and will be used at night via the Battery Wall concept developed and marketed by Tesla today. There is more than enough electric generation power to operate these vehicles and if my Rental concept proves to be the operating model then the user of the vehicle will never be involved in the recharging of the vehicle as they will simply switch to a fully charged vehicle and the depleted vehicle will go to the nearest charging station an recharge itself.

      Reply

  2. Edward M Lieber August 28, 2017

    Jon:
    I have been following the electrification of transportation for several years. Tesla is a pioneer but the main stream automobile manufacturers and air frame manufacturers will be the big news in the very near future. If the Airbus concept program for a single seat commuter plane proceeds I can imagine a fleet of air taxis that are owned and operated by the manufacturer and rented to the users on a per trip basis. Imagine the Jetson’s in a 21st Century setting. A combination of the Uber/Lyft concept but owned, operated and maintained by the manufacturer. I believe that they will need to develop a vertical take off and landing system to allow the planes to operate in an urban setting but that should be the easy part of the development. In the interim the autonomous driven automobile is rapidly becoming a reality. I believe we will see autonomous driven tractor trailers on the highways within 3 years. Autonomous driven automobiles will quickly follow the big rigs. Eventually I believe that individuals will not need to purchase a personal automobile as one will be available on call for a very reasonable fee to take one any place they desire, and anther vehicle would be available to bring them home when they are ready to return. These vehicles might be owned by companies like Uber and Lyft but more likely will be owned by their manufacturers who will set up operating divisions to run and maintain those vehicles. Since the vehicles will be maintained by the manufacturer, they can be kept in service for many years and possibly millions of miles making them far more profitable than the current build and sell model that has existed for more than 100 years.

    Reply