The R&D World Index (RDWI) for the week ending December 31, 2021, closed at 5,629.50 for the 25 companies in the RDWI. The Index was down -0.39% (or -22.32 basis points) from the week ending December 24, 2021. The stock of 21 RDWI members gained value from 0.11% (Alibaba) to 3.02% (General Motors). The stock of four RDWI members lost value from -1.41% (Alphabet/Google) to -2.93% (Daimler AG).
Hyundai Motor Company, Seoul, South Korea, last week closed its internal combustion development division at its Namyang R&D center, which was founded in 1983. Namyang, which has a total staff of about 12,000 researchers, was responsible for the development of a series of unique engine developments which placed it among the world’s top five automakers due to the reliability and frugality of their engines. Hyundai executives cited the reason for the closure was so the company could focus on the R&D of future electrification projects, such as seen in its Ioniq 5 electric vehicle (EV).
The South Korean government also announced last week that it had finalized a new long-term plan on nuclear fusion R&D, which is led by researchers at its National Fusion Research Institute. Korea’s Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR) project recently maintained an ultrahigh temperature of 100 million degrees Celsius for 30 seconds, a 10 second improvement over the 20 second mark it obtained a year ago. The new fusion plan also focuses on creation of commercial nuclear fusion, not just laboratory-based experiments.
Tesla Motor Company, with new headquarters in Austin, Texas, announced its 2021 financials last week with a production output of roughly 80% more vehicles in 2021 than it produced in 2020, which was about 500,000 vehicles. Tesla avoided the semiconductor chip shortage experienced by other automakers by quickly rewriting the software used in their vehicles to integrate alternative chips which were more available. Analysts cited Tesla’s designs allowed it to design from the ground up rather than adding parts in piecemeal fashion as is done by other automakers. Tesla’’s developers also designed their own controlling computers giving them more flexibility.
India’s EV automaker Omega Seiki Mobility (OSM), New Delhi, announced last week that it had formed a partnership with the Indira Gandhi Delhi Technical University for Women to set up a center of excellence and an R&D center. Both members of the partnership will work on design, simulation, testing, product development, prototyping and production of automotive components for EVs including battery packs, telematics and full EV integration. OSM will also work with the University students in designing, developing and manufacturing an EV race vehicle that they will support for various global competitions. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed by the two parties noting their development focus at developing and setting up a state-of-the-art test lab and associated equipment along with EV battery-charging systems.
SpaceX, Hawthorne, California, had the environmental review of its new Starship rocket delayed last week by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) by two months due to the more than 18,000 public messages that the FAA received on the project. The FAA and SpaceX are both working to respond to those messages. The review is now scheduled for February 28, 2022. The FAA is also continuing its consultation and coordination with other local, state and federal agencies regarding the project. The review is required for SpaceX to receive launch permission from its Boca Chica, Texas, facility east of Brownsville, Texas. Space X plans to utilize its Starship vehicle to transport people to Mars, launch satellites into Earth’s orbit (including its StarLink internet service) and provide a lunar lander vehicle for astronauts later in this decade. SpaceX’s CEO Elon Musk has stated that the Starship project is taking up most of his time and is considerably more complex than he originally envisioned.
Developers of the first COVID-19 vaccines, RDW Index member Pfizer, New York City, and Moderna, Cambridge, Massachusetts, are both involved in legal battles over who discovered key components in each of their vaccines and who owns the rights to those components. While current legal disputes are separate for the two companies, analysts note that Pfizer and Moderna could wind up facing each other in court. Obviously, tens of billions of dollars are at stake in these proceedings. The patent disputes have cast a shadow over an otherwise remarkable scientific accomplishment in an amazingly short period of time.
Sweden’s battery manufacturer Northvolt, Stockholm, announced last week that it had successfully produced the first lithium-ion battery cell to be designed, developed and built completely in Europe by a ‘homegrown’ company. Production of the battery was made at a gigafactory in Skelleftea, Sweden. The company said the cell is of a prismatic cell format, which consists of large sheets of anodes, cathodes and separators sandwiched, rolled up and pressed to fit into a metallic or hard-plastic housing in cubic form. Northvolt Labs in Vasteras, Sweden, has been in production since 2020 and uses this facility as a research plant, while the Skelleftea facility handles battery production with a capacity of about 60 Gwh/year which accommodates the needs of $30 billion in current battery contracts.
R&D World’s R&D Index is a weekly stock market summary of the top international companies involved in R&D. The top 25 industrial R&D spenders in 2019 were selected based on the latest listings from Schonfeld & Associates’ June 2020 R&D Ratios & Budgets. These 25 companies include pharmaceutical (10 companies), automotive (6 companies) and ICT (9 companies) who invested a cumulative total of nearly 260 billion dollars in R&D in 2019, or approximately 10% of all the R&D spent in the world by government, industries and academia combined, according to R&D World’s 2021 Global R&D Funding Forecast. The stock prices used in the R&D World Index are tabulated from NASDAQ, NYSE and OTC common stock prices for the companies selected at the close of stock trading business on the Friday preceding the online publication of the R&D World Index.