The Forgotten Half of the EV Market

Written By Alexander Boulden

Updated February 13, 2024

Dear Reader,

For those of us who care about what happens to our family after we die, legacy is everything.

It’s such a driving force that it led one man to change his legacy before it was too late.

When you hear the name Nobel, you no doubt associate it with the Nobel Prize.

However, you probably don’t think of dynamite.

Ah, that is by design.

Legend has it that when Alfred Nobel’s brother Ludvig died in 1888, a French newspaper mistakenly thought it was Alfred who died. (At the time, Alfred Nobel was best known for inventing dynamite.)

The obituary reportedly led with, “Le marchand de la mort est mort” ("The merchant of death is dead") and went on to say, "Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday."

It wasn’t until he saw the destructive force of his life’s work laid out in writing that he was able to clearly see himself.

That’s when he decided to donate his wealth to create the Nobel Peace Prize.

So now when anyone sees his name, they associate it with peace instead of death and destruction.

It’s ironic how great inventors tend to create such controversy.

Just think about how Elon Musk is the poster boy for controversy these days.

But back in the early 20th century, Thomas Edison held that title.

Thomas Edison is best remembered for inventing the carbon filament lightbulb and the phonograph.

While Edison was known for his grit, determination, and dogged work ethic, he was also known for breaking things. He put all his resources into his dreams to make them a reality.

He also drove a hard bargain and didn’t treat his employees all that well.

I know this because my great-grandfather worked at his factory in Menlo Park, New Jersey.

As part of our family legacy, we’ve kept a copy of a letter he sent to Thomas Edison dated May 31, 1921.

He wasn’t happy working seven days a week, so he humbly and politely asked Edison to be transferred to another sector of the factory that only required him to work six days a week.

Here’s a copy of the letter with Edison's reply in big black ink at the top:

letter

I’ll spell it out in case you can’t read it here:

Mr. Thos. A. Edison

Dear Sir,

One month’s work in the disc plating division has convinced me that I should never be satisfied to work permanently seven days a week. I have observed that the inspectors, superintendents, and even the department heads find it necessary to come in every day of the week.  

Of the work itself I have no cause for complaint. I feel that I am giving my best for the Edison interests and am making a good start for my own future, but the fact that I live in Elizabeth and spend more than three hours daily in travel gives me practically no time either to myself or with my family.

I request that you transfer me at your earliest convenience to another field where the work requires only six days a week actual presence at the factory.

Respectfully,

Leonard L. Bleeker

Edison scribbled across the top (because he couldn’t be bothered to waste another sheet of paper): “Have no place to transfer you to, as you are dissatisfied you better quit.”

If you’re wondering what “disc plating” refers to, it was the new Edison Record label that was creating flat shellac records instead of the old-style cylinders. That business eventually went belly-up, as the competition was fierce.

But Edison was willing to try anything until it failed. Toward the end of his career, Edison even worked on electric vehicles.

Back then, employees recounted seeing Edison zipping around the old dusty roads in a prototype electric car, one that used a new battery made of nickel and iron.

You see, Edison's EVs ran on lead-acid batteries, but they were slow to charge and often spewed out the toxic mixture. Not to mention, they weren’t easily disposed of.

So he decided to disrupt the EV battery industry and in 1901 founded the Edison Storage Battery Company. It was so revolutionary that even Henry Ford wanted the nickel-iron battery in his future EVs and made a deal with Edison in 1914 to release the “Ford Electric,” which would sell for $900 and have a 100-mile range.

But just as we’ve seen with today’s batteries, the Edison battery was big, heavy, and expensive and needed frequent charging. By the time Edison’s project was completed, consumers preferred the cheaper fossil fuel-powered Ford Model T.

Although Edison’s batteries were used by railways for signal switches, Edison spent $1.5 million ($39 million in today’s dollars) on the EV battery project and it was deemed a failure…

But these nickel-iron batteries solved many of the problems plaguing current EV batteries, namely the ethical and environmental impacts of mining the raw materials. They don't contain cobalt, which is known to be mined using child labor, nor do they contain lithium, which produces toxic wastewater that's expensive to filter and harmful to dispose of. They're also perfect for energy storage, as they don't overheat.

Edison's battery had two more peculiar qualities. First, they were extremely reliable, and unlike batteries today, some are known to have lasted more than 40 years. Second, and most importantly, when electricity passed through the batteries as they charged, they produced a chemical reaction that released hydrogen and oxygen. This reaction was considered dangerous at the time, but researchers at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands have now taken a renewed interest in it and think it could hold the key to producing clean, renewable fuel.

As the BBC reported, "The team recognized the reaction as reminiscent of the one used to release hydrogen from water, known as electrolysis… This water-splitting reaction is one way hydrogen is produced for use as a fuel — and an entirely clean fuel too, provided the energy used to drive the reaction is from a renewable source."

So Edison’s project may not have been a failure after all. As the saying goes, he wasn’t wrong; he was just early.

The byproduct of this reaction is being heralded as "Blue Gas," and it's set to power 425 million vehicles, including trucks, ships, planes, helicopters, and more.

The industry's moving full speed ahead for an astounding 90,900% sales growth surge, as it’s become the “dark horse” for the zero-emissions car revolution, creating a $2.5 trillion market, eclipsing batteries, and seizing the “forgotten half” of the electric car market.

Find out about the tiny stock behind the fuel cell technology that’s making it all possible.

Stay frosty,

Alexander Boulden
Editor, Wealth Daily

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After Alexander’s passion for economics and investing drew him to one of the largest financial publishers in the world, where he rubbed elbows with former Chicago Board Options Exchange floor traders, Wall Street hedge fund managers, and International Monetary Fund analysts, he decided to take up the pen and guide others through this new age of investing.

Alexander is the investment director of Insider Stakeout — a weekly investment advisory service dedicated to tracking the smartest money on the planet so that his readers can achieve life-altering, market-beating returns. He also serves at the managing editor for R.I.C.H. Report, a comprehensive service that uses the highest-quality investment research and strategies that guides its members in growing their wealth on top of preserving it.

Check out his editor’s page here.

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