This Swiss Watch Maker Is Getting Into The Electric Car Business
The partnership between car brands and their timepiece counterparts extends longer than you and I can even imagine. We’ve seen these partnerships manifest themselves in one form or another, with some even taking the form of obscenely expensive, limited edition watches. If there ever was a new frontier for the partnership between these two industries, Swiss watchmaker Swatch may have opened that door. A report from watch-dedicated website TwentyTwoTen revealed that the company is looking into developing new batteries that will be used for electric vehicles.
The same report indicates that the project is actually being spearheaded by Belenos Clean Power, a company that was formed in 2008 by Swatch Group CEO Nick Hayek. Currently, Swatch is the majority owner of BCP with a 51 percent stake in the company.
A peek into the company’s website reveals that BCP’s mission is to “concentrate, convert, store and deliver solar and other renewable energies for clean mobility and other applications” while also being a “driving force accelerating the clean energy revolution.”
As far as the battery tech that’s being developed for potential use of electric cars, the TwentyTwoTen report says that BCP is working in partnership with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology to develop batteries that make use of vanadium, a naturally occurring element that’s commonly used in producing specialty steel alloys. Apparently, the potential of vanadium-powered battery packs is so great that it can not only reduce the weight of the battery pack themselves, but also cut charging times.
That’s about the extent of the details that were revealed, but the expectation is that if the battery’s development goes smoothly, Hayek expects Swatch to be selling as much as $15 billion worth of batteries by 2020.
There Could Be Some Potential Here
Now this is something that we can look forward to and see how the development of this project goes from here. Swatch getting involved in battery technology isn’t actually that surprising considering that the Swiss watchmaker has been a supporter of renewable energy for some time now.
But to get involved in the auto industry, specifically the chaotic world of electric mobility, is an interesting development. To be fair, Belenos Clean Power and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology are more than capable of seeing how far this project can go and whether it can be successful in the long run.
The more important question is how committed the company is going to be considering that the industry it’s trying to gain entry to is itself still evolving as we speak. We don’t know what electric mobility is going to look like 10 to 20 years from now, much less five years from now. So there’s that element of mystery that needs to be considered by all parties, us included, before anybody can jump for joy at the potential of a new battery source that’s being touted as a possible game changer in the business.
On that note, I do like Swatch CEO Nick Hayek’s confidence in the battery pack. He says that it could charge twice as fast and weight a third less than the batteries being developed by Panasonic for Tesla. Should that be the case, well then, Swatch may be onto something here.
Only time (no pun intended) will tell though if this project by BCP and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology will have lasting power (again, no pun intended).