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John Petersen

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  • Is Tesla's Gigafactory Becoming A Gigafarce? [View article]
    I admire many things about Mr. Musk including his willingness to risk it all on a roll of the dice. As long as you understand that it's your money he's risking on the dice roll, it's your money he's squandering on meaningless hedge transactions and it's your money he's putting in second position behind $4,000 million in debt, I can only wish you the best of luck with your investment.
    Apr 8, 2014. 07:17 AM | 34 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Axion Power Concentrator 286: Nov. 27 '13: Q3 '13 Results; Sale Of PowerCube™ ESS; John Petersen Joins EPower [View instapost]
    ePower Update

    This morning I got an e-mail from Jay reporting that Mexico has issued a patent to ePower that only required minor changes to the wording to do things like specify vehicle weight ranges instead of using the DOT classification system. He also indicated that we've responded to initial reviews by the Chinese, European and US patent offices that had very similar first office action comments. It's encouraging news that suggests we may get broader patent coverage pretty quickly.

    Cummins will be visiting tomorrow morning with its load testing equipment to make sure the genset is behaving the way we want it to. If all goes well, the installation process should be finished in a week to 10 days which would could well give us preliminary fuel economy data before Christmas.
    Dec 5, 2013. 01:42 PM | 34 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Axion Power Concentrator 270: September 27: '13 AGM Feedback, 10Q Filing For Q2; Two Axion Forbes Articles; John Petersen On PIPE Mechanics & Incentives [View instapost]
    While I think AGM opinions from the other attendees will be more valuable than mine, I did notice several things that caught my eye and might have been missed by others.

    First, when we were leaving the building at the end of the electrode plant tour I saw a couple of shipping pallets stacked three feet high with carbon electrode sheets that were ready to go as feedstock for the electrode assembly fabrication line. Since the sheets are probably 4x5x1/16, it was an impressive sight.

    Second, at the end of the battery plant tour there were several hundred Group 30HT Pbc's on pallets and ready for shipment along with another 100 Group 30 PbC's like the ones ePower uses.

    Third, I learned that the flooded batteries Axion has been making for East Penn are heavy equipment batteries rather than the smaller automotive or UPS sized batteries I expected.

    Fourth, I noted that Axion was using all three lines. One of the flooded lines was doing nothing but making the East Penn Batteries. The AGM line was dedicated solely to the PbC. The most fascinating part was that they were using the second "flooded" line to make specialty AGM batteries for racing and car collectors. I had always assumed that it would take a huge equipment upgrade to make AGM batteries on a flooded line. The fact that they were doing so suggests that switching capacity from flooded to AGM may be less complex than I thought it would be.
    Sep 27, 2013. 10:48 AM | 32 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Axion Power Concentrator 202: Jan. 24: Axion Power PbC Batteries Continue To Demonstrate Effectiveness For Railroad Applications Norfolk Southern [View instapost]
    I just got off a phone call with Dr. Buiel who will be joining our happy little group as a semi-active participant and will, within the bounds of propriety and confidentiality, answer some of the thornier technical questions that I normally punt on.

    I trust that he'll be welcomed warmly.
    Jan 24, 2013. 11:10 AM | 32 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Axion Power Concentrator 354 July 31 '14: David DiGiacinto Appointed Chairman And CEO; Share Reverse Split And Authorized Share Reduction Approved; Q1 '1 CC Transcript & MP3 Available [View instapost]
    There are many talented people who made huge contributions to Axion over the years, but I can't think of anybody who's contributed more time and money or been a stronger supporter than Bob Averill. While he never accepted a day to day role in management, he was the most hands on director I've ever seen and the mentoring and guidance he provided the technical team over the years is beyond my ability to describe. Anybody who thinks Bob would ever do anything to harm Axion simply doesn't know the man.
    Jul 31, 2014. 06:43 PM | 31 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Plug-in Vehicles: Toyota Tells the Unvarnished Truth [View article]
    In 100 years consumers have never been receptive to electric cars no matter what the range is. Even in Europe where they've been available for years, gas prices are high and travel distances are short the available EVs have always drawn yawns. Perhaps Toyota is tepid to cool because it knows the market's temperature.
    Jul 11, 2010. 08:43 AM | 31 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Axion Power Concentrator 335: May 19 '14: Q1 '1 CC Transcript & MP3 Available; Q1 '14 Filing Released;Axion Receives 4 Powercubes Order; Reverse Split Consent Solicitation Filed [View instapost]
    FWIW> SA does not make money on Instablogs because there are no ads on the Instablog pages. While contributors get a penny per pageview for articles, keeping this Concentrator series going is a labor of love for the Hosts and they've done a wonderful job. The Hosts have nothing to do with SA.

    This Concentrator series started with an Instablog Mayascribe wrote after attending the 2011 stockholders meeting. When the comment section got too long, Maya threw up a second, and a third etc. After putting up 75 Axion Instablogs, Maya turned the reins over to the Axion Power Hosts who've added 259 more contributions to knowledge central.

    It's a lot of work to prepare and upload a new Instablog every few days and while it's very rewarding when it feels like you're providing a forum for deep due diligence and polite discussion of complex issues, it's nowhere near as much fun when participants get overly repetitive or just plain nasty with each other. (I've been guilty of both from time to time.) If we want to keep this community going, I think we all need to take our game up a notch and get better at disagreeing without being disagreeable.
    May 23, 2014. 05:17 AM | 30 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Axion Power Concentrator 335: May 19 '14: Q1 '1 CC Transcript & MP3 Available; Q1 '14 Filing Released;Axion Receives 4 Powercubes Order; Reverse Split Consent Solicitation Filed [View instapost]
    I understand exactly where APH's is coming from.

    When I first started blogging my comment sections were often more interesting than the articles. Over time people seemed to forget that it's possible to disagree without being disagreeable and the value of different points of view lies in their expression, not their exhaustion.

    I've cut way back on my writing over the last couple years because I'm tired of dealing with commenters who go haring off on a tangent or insist on winning instead of contributing.

    I'm only human and that means I can only speak from the perspective of the shoes I stand in. Others have different perspectives but the fact that their views differ from mine does not make them wrong. It just makes them different.

    Moderating a forum like this one is a thankless miserable task. This has always been a remarkable forum because it focused on facts and principles rather than personalities. It was a great resource for investors who wanted to learn, question their own assumptions and try to understand the complexity of Axion's business and development path. I'll be deeply saddened if that usefulness is lost.
    May 22, 2014. 06:42 AM | 30 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Axion Power Concentrator 327: Apr. 28 '14: Q4 & EOY 2013 Results & CC; CFO Resigns; David DiGiacinto Joins BoD; PV With Storage Financials; Petersen Worksheet Suggests PIPE Effects Nearing End [View instapost]
    As most regulars know from my Concentrator comments and my Instablog's summarizing Jay Bowman's bi-monthly updates, we’ve made solid progress at ePower over the last six months. Since my last Instablog, Jay and the engineers from Cummins, Marathon and Unico have concluded that we have the drivetrain efficiency issues under control and the odd readings we've been getting arose from from communication bugs rather than performance problems. In other words, it looks like the drivetrain is doing everything it should be doing and the primary reason for our less than exciting fuel economy was that we were working the system too hard by running the drive motor too far out of its optimal torque band. Mercifully that’s a problem we know how to fix.

    We’ve recently changed the shift-points on the transmission to slow down the drive motor and bring it back to an optimal point on its torque curve. The last remaining steps will be:

    • Swapping out the gears in the differential to optimize the system for power and speed;
    • Replacing one of the two rear-end differentials with a tag axle to boost fuel economy by about 5%; and
    • Replacing the dual tire rear wheels with low rolling resistance “super-single” tires and wheels.

    Jay expects to have that work completed with a couple weeks and we've come to terms with an independent trucker who will begin hauling freight with the sleeper tractor as soon as Jay’s willing to turn over the keys. He took the tractor out for a couple hours on Wednesday and loves the way it drives.

    We still have to take the tractor to the trucker’s freight broker for an inspection, but we believe we can accumulate a couple weeks of real world fuel economy data before the end of May. While the bigger fleets we want to approach next will be skeptical of any data we generate, we believe a detailed report on an independent trucker's experience while hauling brokered loads on day-trip routes will be compelling.

    Jay is confident enough in the drivetrain that he went out and bought four more 2003 model year Sterling day cab tractors for the ePower demonstration fleet. A recent picture of our first day cab retrofit which is coming together nicely and should be road ready before the end of May is available here:

    While we’re delighted with the pace of our development progress, we are less happy with the pace of our financing activities. We’ve raised about a half-million and while experience tells me that we’re doing a good job of keeping ePower funded, we need to take things up a notch if we want to accelerate the schedule and make a credible approach to the industry.

    Last week the ePower board decided to change our offering structure from a sale of straight common stock to a sale of units, each consisting of a share of common stock and a five-year warrant. Concurrently our lead investor agreed to match the next $400,000. The offering is limited to accredited investors. Anybody who wants more information should contact me by PM or e-mail.
    Apr 27, 2014. 08:14 PM | 30 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • 3 Billion Reasons Why Tesla's Gigafactory Will Be A Bloodbath [View article]
    In Q2-12 domestic demand for the Model S was 5,150 units. That demand slumped to about 3,000 units in Q-4 and Tesla does not expect that number to increase. It projects sales of 10,000 units worldwide in Q4-13 with two-thirds of that demand coming from Europe and Asia. I lived in Europe for 15 years and know that American cars are generally viewed as second-rate products in that market. This article from a Chinese news service doesn't exactly predict a walk in the park for Tesla in the Asian market. – – I don't know what actual demand in Europe and Asia will be, but I'm not as sanguine as most true believers.
    Mar 3, 2014. 07:18 AM | 30 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Tesla's Obscenely Expensive Cure For Range Anxiety [View article]
    I'm sure the driving experience is every bit as wonderful as Tesla's fawning acolytes claim. A good ride does not, however, trump economics for all but the smallest niche of the car buying public. Pretending that tax subsidies are justified or justifiable for the most inefficient use of advanced batteries is an intellectual abomination.
    Feb 15, 2013. 09:38 AM | 30 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Axion Power, A Deep Alpha Opportunity With A Clear Timeline [View article]
    For we mere mortals who are not ordained minsters in your quirky electric priesthood, current is measured in watts and kilowatts. When last I checked, watts were calculated by multiplying amperage and voltage. Since the voltage of a PbC battery string varies with the battery's state of charge we concluded the best measurement for presentation purposes was kilowatts. You can rest assured that nobody in my audience was the least bit confused or mislead by the terms I used.

    We told Mario to set the cruise control at 60 and the GPS readings proved that our speedometer was off by 5%. According to the GPS our sustained cruising speed came in at ~57 mph. The end to end average speed for the entire trip including stops, starts, uphill, downhill, construction zones and traffic congestion was 55 mph, but that's pretty common when you test on a suburban freeway in a major metropolitan area instead of a lonesome prairie test track. The fact of the matter is no Class 8 tractor can get better than 4 to 5 mpg with a 55,000 pound CGW in this kind of terrain and you know it.

    The day cab we got out of the shop just in time for the Battery Show in Novi has a couple of minor aero enhancements. The 2005 Peterbilt 387 we used for this test has none and neither did the 53 foot box trailer.

    I can't for the life of me figure out why you think I'd lie about these things, but you really are getting offensive. For somebody who doesn't have a dog in the fight you certainly are vicious little mutt.
    Sep 22, 2014. 04:59 PM | 29 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Axion Power, A Deep Alpha Opportunity With A Clear Timeline [View article]
    I never suggested the Leaf wouldn't be built, but I did say that it wouldn't be attractive to buyers at the launch price and it wouldn't be profitable for Nissan either. I was right on both counts. Nissan loses an immense amount of money on each Leaf it sells and it's had to slash the price to gain traction in the market. Last time I checked businesses that buy for a dime and sell for a nickel can never make it up on volume.

    You missing a fine distinction when it comes to lithium ion battery costs. Tesla gets its batteries dirt cheap because it's buying an obsolete form factor that nobody else wants and its buying them from a company that thinks it's better to sell batteries at a discount from manufacturing costs than it would be to decommission existing facilities that have already been written off. In a recent report from Bernstein Research, Tesla's pack level battery costs were in the $300 per kWh range while the mainstream OEMs who are using modern battery formats are paying closer to $500 per kWh. Regardless of the cost at the OEM level, the losses at the battery manufacturer level are staggering.

    Last time I checked an option to buy a stock isn't worth much when the stock price is falling. Contrary to your assertion, I can't find a single example of any option exercises in Axion's SEC reports. There have been lots of expirations on worthless options, but no plush profits.

    Cost per kWh is a useful metric for EV applications that use batteries as fuel tank substitutes and meaningless for applications that use batteries as conservation devices. One of my favorite examples is that Tesla uses 85 kWh of lithium ion batteries in a $100,000 system to save 600 gallons of fuel per year while ePower's drivetrain uses 20 kWh of lead-carbon batteries in a $100,000 system to save 6,000 gallons of fuel per year.

    Which of the two choices makes more economic and environmental sense to you?

    Lead in gasoline was a bad thing, as was lead in paint. Both released large amounts of toxic material into the environment and caused untold damage. Lead in batteries is another issue altogether because it's sealed in a plastic box in the factory and never released from the plastic box until end of life when something approaching 99% of lead-acid batteries are profitably recycled. Truth be told the toxicity of free lead in the environment is nothing more than a specious straw man argument raised by dishonest advocates who refuse to acknowledge the fact that lithium-ion batteries cannot be economically recycled by any known technology.

    There are places in the world where government regulation of the battery manufacturing and recycling industries is lax. People who live in those countries may suffer ill effects as a result, but they typically suffer lots of other ill effects from other government policies too. Most readers of this article don't live in those countries and their lives won't be impacted one way or the other. More importantly, most readers of this article have little or no control over the government of their own countries, much less foreign governments.

    In any event, I wish you the best of luck with your investing.
    Sep 22, 2014. 07:31 AM | 29 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Axion Power Concentrator 349 July 13 '14: David DiGiacinto Appointed Chairman And CEO; Share Reverse Split And Authorized Share Reduction Approved; Definitive Reverse Split Consent Solicitation; Q1 '1 CC Transcript & MP3 Available [View instapost]
    It's probably worth observing that political commentary and personal arguments were the straws that broke our hard working camel's (NYSE:APH) back a few weeks ago. APH tries very hard to keep this Concentrator series focused on Axion issues, not DC. We all need to respect his efforts to avoid digressions that increase his work load as a volunteer.
    Jul 14, 2014. 03:21 PM | 29 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Axion Power Concentrator 347 July 06 '14: Share Reverse Split And Authorized Share Reduction Approved; Definitive Reverse Split Consent Solicitation; Q1 '1 CC Transcript & MP3 Available; Q1 '14 Filing Released;Axion Receives 4 Powercubes Order [View instapost]
    I spoke with Mr. Granville this morning and his health issues were only discovered recently. He's apparently been working closely with Dave DiGiacinto for several months on marketing strategies, but this transition was not planned. On balance Tom seems vey confident that Dave will do a fine job, particularly with Tom at his elbow providing all the support he can.

    Since I haven't met Mr. DiGiacinto I can't offer a personal assessment but most of the former air force pilots I've met through the years were a little larger than life and highly disciplined. When I factor in Mr. DiGiacinto's operational and financial markets experience, I think he's well qualified to take Axion to the next level. It's an unfortunate turn of events but it could work out well for those of us who can only observe from a distance.
    Jul 8, 2014. 10:33 AM | 29 Likes Like |Link to Comment