I spent the weekend of July 28th and 29th manning a booth at the Formula-E Montreal EPrix.
I had been approached by one of the EPrix organizers when I was representing Nouveau Monde Graphite Inc. (TSXV: NOU | OTCQB: NMGRF) at the Montreal EV show in May. The organizer suggested the Formula-E event would be another great opportunity for showcasing our graphite project and our business plans.
Our CEO was immediately supportive of our company investing time and money into this event. We talked about it to our friends at Nemaska Lithium and they were quick at embracing the idea of their company having its booth at the event.
Our thinking was that both of our companies have mining/processing projects in the province and they are bound to benefit from a booming energy storage business.
If the city of Montreal and its colorful mayor are pushing for a world stage event related to e-mobility and energy storage, we just can’t say we’re not interested in being associated with it.
It turned out it was a great weekend. There was a real affluence of people whom we educated on how graphite and lithium are used in lithium-ion batteries. I told visitors about our LOI with Shinzoom and all of its great potential. At the end of the two days, I left physically exhausted but mentally energized by all of the enthusiasm I felt from our booth visitors.
Speaking of the Montreal mayor, he is under much heat for what some say is “his stubborn idea of promoting this Formula-E event.” Angry neighborhood dwellers and business owners who have seen their daily lives impacted by the closing of downtown streets (the race circuit is in the east-end of the city) have been very vocal in the media.
Some other people, I included, are asking “can we see above and beyond the nuisance?” “Can we embrace Mr. Coderre’s vision of trying to establish Montreal as a place that welcomes e-cars and e-mobility in all of its forms?” I think that the whole Formula-E event was a big success. It was geared toward families and the eVillage was beaming with them during the entire weekend. Spectators also flocked to the stands for both races.
Beyond the eVillage and the races, the STM (Montreal’s Transit Authority) had also granted free subway and bus services for the whole weekend as well as free Bixi service (city’s sponsored bicycle rental).
The city has signed for 3 years for hosting the Formula-E event, and there is also a contract option for an extra 3 years. I see a tremendous potential for the future of this race weekend. I would love to see the city and organizers to turn this into a celebration of e-mobility. Beyond e-cars, there are other means of transportation which are based on lithium-ion technology: scooters, e-bikes, e-skateboards, e-boats, electric motorcycles to name a few. I think the weekend race of the Formula-E could be a perfect opportunity to showcase these means of transportation. Companies who produce these could be convinced to come and present/lend their products for the public to try.
The city and province have a lot to gain with the electrification of transportation. Hydro-Québec, the province owned utility has the electric capacity to support 3 million new EVs connected to its grid. Its research institute on the south shore of Montreal has a battery division with ~65 staff members. They have been involved in lithium-ion technology for ~20 years. They own a number of patents in the field, namely in the lithium-iron-phosphate chemistry and also in graphite shaping (spheronized) and purification. They have an on-going joint-venture with Sony for the manufacturing of container size lithium-ion batteries which are then used on the grid for peak shaving and other kind of grid stabilization usages.
As for us, the raw material junior miners/refiners, we shall be supporting events like Formula-E. The people there are e-car enthusiasts eager to learn how we are advancing our projects with a view of taking a growing role in the expanding lithium-ion supply chain.
Source: This article was written by Nicolas Tremblay, VP Corporate Development of Nouveau Monde Graphite and originally published in August 2017 on InvestorIntel.com.