Mentioned Companies: GE, ILMN, NSTG, NVTA, SQ, TSLA, VCYT, VW

#201: EVs, 3D Printing, Crypto, Cell Therapy

#201: EVs, 3D Printing, Crypto, Cell Therapy
by ARK Invest, December 16, 2019

1. The Porsche Taycan Comes Up Short on Range

Porsche touted a range of up to 280 miles when it unveiled the Taycan, but this past week the EPA declared that its range was only 201 miles. Even if it had lived up to the promised range, the Taycan’s drivetrain efficiency would have been inferior to that of Tesla’s Model S. Though Tesla critics claim Musk overpromises, the data suggests otherwise. Based on ARK’s research the Model 3 outperforms what was announced at its product unveiling.

Why is the EPA’s estimated range so far below Porsche’s? Whatever the reason, the outcome is disappointing and could hurt the Taycan’s sales potential. ARK debated and discussed three possibilities:

  1. Porsche is limiting the battery to 80% of total capacity, as the last 20% of a charge accelerates its rate of degradation. Never having manufactured an EV and uncertain of the battery’s lifespan, Porsche could have made an conservative decision.
  2. The efficiency of Porsche’s drivetrain is much worse than expected.
  3. With its two-speed transmission, the Taycan is hyper-optimized for quick acceleration and sustained top speeds, making day to day driving around town inefficient.


2. 3D Printing Parts Are Taking Flight

Recently, Wired highlighted that the Air Force is 3D printing replacement parts at a cost almost 30X less than traditional manufacturing methods. 3D printing is suited for aerospace applications because it reduces the costs to manufacture highly complex, low volume parts. It reduces not only the weight of parts, lowering fuel costs, but also the number of parts and manufacturing steps, lowering labor costs and adding to the structural integrity of engines and other mission critical components.

As a result, the number of aerospace parts submitting to 3D printing should increase over time. In 2013, GE designed a 3D printed fuel nozzle for the LEAP jet engine that combined 20 parts into one and lowered its weight by 25%. In 2015, the LEAP entered production, each of its engines requiring 19 nozzles. In 2019, GE announced that each GE9x engine included 300 3D printed parts, reducing its weight, part count, and material costs. ARK estimates that 4,000 parts in a jet engine could be 3D printed in five years, and that ultimately 30% of the 200,000 parts in a typical engine will be 3D printed, with a significant impact on the 15-20% gross margin structure of companies like Boeing and Airbus.


3. Twitter Announces Bluesky, the Real Web 3.0 Vision? 

Jack Dorsey announced the launch of Bluesky, a Twitter-funded independent team of architects, engineers, and designers with the goal of developing an open and decentralized standard for social media. If successful, Bluesky will steer the internet back to its open source and decentralized founding principles.

In this seminal piece, which Jack Dorsey referenced in the announcement, Michael Masnick notes, “The early internet involved many different protocols—instructions and standards that anyone could then use to build a compatible interface. In the past few decades, however, rather than building new protocols, the internet has grown up around controlled platforms that are privately owned. These can function in ways that appear similar to the earlier protocols, but they are controlled by a single entity.”

These centralized “solutions” are facing significant challenges today, as they implement global policies to address abusive behavior and false or misleading information and face criticism over the proprietary algorithms that spark vicious attacks and outrage at the expense of healthy dialogue.With Bluesky Jack seems to be acknowledging that the open source movement is better suited to address these challenges.

Like Square’s efforts to fund open source Bitcoin development through Square Crypto, Twitter is tasking the Bluesky team either to advance an existing decentralized standard or to create a new one, either of which will be a client of.


4. Invitae’s Acquisition of Singular Bio Furthers its Vertical Integration

Veracyte (VCYT) and Invitae (NVTA) are integrating a technique called molecular counting into their diagnostic workflows. Scientists use “counting” to quantify the number of DNA or RNA molecules in a patient sample, crucial for applications like non-invasive prenatal screening (NIPS) and liquid biopsies (LBs). ARK believes that Veracyte’s acquisition of NanoString’s (NSTG) nCounter FLEX platform is part of its international expansion strategy while Invitae’s purchase of Singular Bio, a firm with proprietary counting technology, should lower its cost of goods sold and challenge Illumina’s (ILMN) control over sequencing costs.

Lab technicians can count molecules by first attaching fluorescent probes to specific regions of DNA and then analyzing the optical data. Bioinformaticians use the count data to resolve systematic errors in NIPS and LB test results. While cruder than sequencing, counting technology offers a cost advantage for some diagnostic applications. With Singular Bio’s counting platform, Invitae should be able to increase turnaround times in its NIPT business and boost margins without sacrificing clinical-grade accuracy. Meanwhile, in the absence of similar moves toward vertical integration, its molecular diagnostic testing competitors could be more hostage to Illumina’s pricing markups.

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