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Episode 31 Transcript: CES is in the Deep End

The complete transcript for episode 31.

Episode 31 Transcript: CES is in the Deep End

Molly Wood Voice-Over:

Welcome to SEASON TWO of Everybody in the Pool, the podcast for the climate economy! We dive deep into the climate crisis and come up with solutions. I'm Molly Wood.

Happy 2024! I'm thrilled to be back in the pool with you all … we're getting a bit of a late start this year because I was at CES in Las Vegas last week … which … as I wrote in my newsletter … was actually a stealth sustainability show.

Sure, there were robots and AI galore and doohickeys and gadgets … but there was also energy efficiency and carbon capture and materials recycling and electrification galore … from cars to flying taxis … more on that in a minute … to this week's guest … Pebble … a company after my own camping and backpacking heart …

Who I talked to … on the show floor. Let's GO …

Stefan Solyom:

So my name is Stefan Solyom. I'm the CTO here at Pebble Mobility.

Uh, what we have here is a fully electric, uh, travel trailer. It is, um, Powered with an EV battery. It has motors. It can move by itself and it's improving your range when you're towing.

Molly Wood:

What, um, what prompted the idea for an electric RV in particular or trailer in this case? Well, really what we were looking at is somewhat more higher level.

Stefan Solyom:

It is about the experience that you are having today in the RVs on the market. And both, uh, being our CEO and myself are RVers and we are going out with our families. And we felt like We can do this better. Um, so that prompted the idea. And this is really our core value as well. We want to make the RVing experience hassle free and accessible to more people.

Molly Wood:

Um, so give me some of the specifics about the Pebble itself. Like, what, it, it, it is both towed but can propel itself? Like, does it help give you a push when you're driving? What do we, what do you mean by propel?

Stefan Solyom:

That's right, that's right. So, one of the big, um, features with Pebble Flow is that when it's unhatched, since it has the motor and it has a large 45 kWh battery, it can move itself.

So, the entire backing up your trailer into the parking spot or into the camping site, we don't do that anymore. It's very, very simple. It's remote controlled through the Pebble app. Same way when you want to hitch it up to your vehicle. You don't need to do that anymore. You don't need to have a spotter who's helping you align.

No, you're just pushing a button and our robotic software, uh, finds, it finds your vehicle. It finds the hitch pole. It goes there and connects all the way. Now, when you are actually towing the Pebble Flow, since we have these motors, This vehicle is 6, 200 GBWR, right? So with everything included, when you are towing this feels much, much lighter than when you are towing a traditional 6, 200.

Why? Because the motors are assisting. Why is this important? One is obviously it feels lighter. It's less stress. It's safer. But on the other hand, it impacts your range, especially if you are towing with an electric vehicle where today you would be losing typically two thirds. your range. Now with the pebble flow, you can go places.

You really recuperate majority of that range.

Molly Wood:

And then even if you're using an ice vehicle to tow it, you can use a much smaller vehicle. You don't have to use such a big, you could use a potentially a hybrid or a smaller, more gas efficient vehicle to tow it also.

Stefan Solyom:

So there are regulations. So you need to use a vehicle that can tow 6, 200 But yes, still you will have the same experience.

It's easier to tell if you are interested to have a lower MP, a better MPG. Again, you can assist and you will have a better mileage.

Molly Wood:

I saw on the video behind us that there's solar integrated on the top of the pebble. And then is it, it is also meant to be, it sounds like self sufficient when you get where you're going, you don't necessarily need to plug it into power.

Stefan Solyom:

Ideally. That's right. So with a 45 kilowatt hour, uh, lithium iron phosphate. battery, which is really the safest battery technology on the market today. And with the one kilowatt of solar on the roof, you are able to be off grid for one week. And that is with your AC on.

Molly Wood:

Nice. That's, that's a really key or heat, I would imagine, depending on how adventurous you are.

Um, how does a 45 kilowatt battery compared to like an EV for people who aren't familiar with battery sizes?

Stefan Solyom:

That's right. So. It is typically the same size as an entry level Model 3, Tesla Model 3, or three Tesla Powerwalls.

Molly Wood:

Could any chance that you'll have bi directional charging built in and I could use this to power my house?

I guess I could live in it if there was a blackout.

Stefan Solyom:

So, one of our core values in a company is make sure that Our product is never idle, and that's how it is with my travel trailer that most of the time it's actually sitting in storage today. Uh, what we designed the Pebble Flow to do is not only when you are sitting next, when you have it next to your home, it's a nice office, but it can actually Provide the energy backup for your home so you can connect your home to it.

And when the power goes out, this vehicle will power your entire home. That's phenomenal. And then can you tow it? If you're out off the grid for all of that time and the battery dies, you can still tow it home, I assume.

Absolutely. And actually, that's another way of charging the battery because you have the motors in there.

So every time you are braking, for instance, you are doing regenerative braking on. The pebble flow the same way as you are doing on an EV and you are really charging your battery. So now you will love your downslopes because you will generate energy. Right. Anybody who has an EV already knows that you love the part where you just get to coast downhill and it's amazing.

Molly Wood:

So then give me the actual trailer specs. How many does it sleep and you know, what are the, what are those kinds of specs for travel enthusiasts?

Stefan Solyom:

Right. So this is a 25 feet travel trailer. It is 6, 200 pounds. You can sleep, uh, four people my size

Molly Wood: 

for, for reference, everyone, I'm six feet tall and you're a lot taller than I am.

Stefan Solyom:

So that is a good, so you have a very generous dinette area. You can have four or five people sitting there. Uh, we do that in the mornings, uh, when you meet, when we meet, uh, and then two people easily there. We have the, um, back area where we have essentially an office where two people can sit and work or a playroom.

But since we have a murphy that there, you can just pull it down and then you have a queen size bed. So for people, um, easy, uh, to, to, to live in this vehicle.

Molly Wood:

And then tell me more about the origin story. I mean, were you an outdoor enthusiast and just thought, okay, I would like there to be a, a less, a zero impact way to do recreation, or is this a gateway to kind of other mobility?

How do you think about this? The big picture.

Stefan Solyom:

So, um, yes, so we are all going out a lot. I have my own travel trailer. Classical one. Traditional one. And, um, really the user experience, especially for us, um, coming from Apple, Tesla, um, it is very, very different than what we would expect. And this is really what figured us. We want to have that ease, easy, seamless experience, um, brought to this industry.

Molly Wood Voice-Over:

Stefan came to Pebble first from Volvo … then as one of the architects of Tesla autopilot … and then spent seven years at Apple working on autonomous sytems …

The company's CEO … Binrui Yang … also spent eight years at Apple … and led hardware engineering at the autonomous driving company Zoox … and then at self-driving startup Cruise … before the two teamed up to start Pebble. And let's just say that if Apple and Tesla teamed up to build a travel trailer … it would … look like the Pebble.

Molly Wood:

What can you tell me about the interior?

I saw that, you know, there's an induction range and there's all this sort of wonderful foldable tech. What are the innovations there?

Stefan Solyom:

Yes, so There's no more propane in this vehicle. Everything is electric. So starting with the cooking, it's an induction cooktop. And that's one of my favorite features because the induction cooktop is removable.

You can take it out and you can cook with it outside. Absolutely. And also when you enter the pebble flow, you'll see you can open up the window and This idea of getting inside out, uh, out and the outside in, that's really, really powerful. When I am, um, in our trailer, often what's happening, I'm preparing something and you need to kind of look out, uh, through the door, like, you know, want to say something to your friends, your family.

Not anymore. You open it up. It's, you are really there with them. Um, the other thing that, um, you will notice when you enter the vehicle, uh, the design is, it's really light, it's a Scandinavian design. Um, lots of windows. We have 270 degrees, uh, view. You really want to take in the nature when you are going out with this vehicle.

Now, with such a large area, This is really, really nice. Obviously, the problem is that during the night, you kind of want to have privacy. So what we've put in here is smart glass. So with the push of a button, all the windows go opaque. Same thing when you look at the, uh, uh, bathroom. It's a, it's a gorgeous bathroom.

It's an amazing early built bathroom. And our designers have made a lot of, uh, different concepts. And there was one concept with glass. So, glass wall. And really when you go in there, when you go into the Pebble Flow and you have this glass wall, which is the bathroom, it opens the space up. It's really, really nice.

Obviously, the same issue with privacy, right? But again, even there, you have smart glass, so when you are pushing the button, the entire wall goes, uh, black.

Molly Wood:

Um, okay, so what, what is the status now? Pebble is venture backed. Is that correct? And, and is it for sale now? Is it for pre-order? What's the go to market?

Stefan Solyom:

That's right. So we are VC-backed. Uh, we have, uh, pre-orders already available.

Um, startup production is end of this year, end of 2024. Um, if you go to pebble, you are, um, you will find our pre-order links. The vehicle starts at 109,000. Uh, this is the base model with the large battery and then with the motors, all the features. Like magic hitch and remote control is hundred hundred and twenty five thousand

Molly Wood:

Um, and then we're here at CES. How has that experience been? Have you gotten a lot of attention? Have you enjoyed it? Yeah, it's great. It's amazing.

In general, um, the feedback The reaction that we are getting from customers, potential customers, it's, it's really, really amazing and humbling. Good, I'm glad because really, it's a, this is really a take my money situation, I think.

Molly Wood Voice-Over:

Time for a quick break. When we come back, a few more cool sustainability stories I happened upon during my time at CES … and by the way … there's a full video walkthrough and pictures of the Pebble on my Instagram page … at mollywoodpro … go follow me and check it out. I added a highlight there with all my stories from the floor … total steps walked Monday through Thursday … 51 thousand 702 … or just about 26 miles. It's funny because I'm always joking that CES is a marathon … not a sprint. How literal of me.

Be right back.

Welcome back to Everybody in the Pool. In the first half of the show … we talked with Pebble C-T-O Stefan Solyom … and Pebble's electric RV was just one of MANY different electric mobility options I saw at the show. Like … MANY … everything from cars … I actually got to peek at my probable future car … the Polestar 3 and Polestar 4 … I saw electric motorcycles … very blade runner … an electric plumbing van … and not one or two but basically three … flying cars … or more specifically … electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles … or E-V-TOLS.

I actually went to the unveiling of the S-A2 from a company called Supernal … backed by Hyundai … which says it's launching for commercial flights in 2028 …

Presentation Audio:

So now, for the first time, we introduce you to Spudder's latest design for 2028 market entry product, SA2D.


Um, uh, Um, uh, Um, uh, Um, uh, Um, uh, Um, uh,

Come on, this beautiful airplane.

SA 2 takes the best of an airplane, a safe, smooth, in flight experience and merges it with the best of a helicopter. Convenience and the ability to take off and land vertically, even in dense urban environments, is truly the best of both worlds. And it's all powered by a battery. Comfortable, convenient, and clean.

Molly Wood Voice-Over:

I know that was terrible audio but that's how loud and insane it was with like a wall rising up to reveal a huge four-passenger love child of a helicopter and an airplane that I would 100% take to the San Francisco airport instead of driving over the Bay Bridge.

I wrote about the potential of EVTOLs to be a big player in electric mobility in my newsletter from the show … that's over at mollywood dot co …

I also stumbled across other flying cars … the Chinese EVTOL maker EHang has one that looks like a flying Ferrari … and then there's a company called Pivotal … backed by Google co-founder Larry Page … that is launching a personal electric flying car … that it's selling now for 190 thousand dollars … and apparently will start shipping in June. Better start digging under the couch cushions.

The CES startup floor called Eureka Park was also a sustainability jackpot … and suitably weird … I briefly spoke with a woman dressed as a cow about a sensor that makes cattle ranching more sustainable by using a sensor to monitor health …

Sound clip:

So the sensor goes on the cows. Oh look, you're one. Aww. This sensor will translate their behavior. Yeah, such as rumination time, or suckling their mother's milk, and eating time.

Activity, resting, and number of coughs. So farmers can find their sick cattle quickly and provide treatment quickly. Yeah, so cattle's mortality rate is lower than before and farmers can get more income, yeah.

Molly Wood Voice-Over:

Hydrogen… had a huge resurgence at CES … I even actually spotted a hydrogen-fueled Nikola semi truck on the streets around the convention center … and spoke with a French company trying to build infrastructure …

Sound clip:

So we are in, uh, on the booth of hydrogen refueling solutions. So we are designing, producing, fueling stations for hydrogen vehicles. So our fueling station can fueling type of vehicles from forklift light vehicles, light utility vehicle, buses, trucks, and even trains.

And we are based in France and we like to develop ourself in the us. So that's why we are here today at the css. Amazing. How many stations have you built? Is it, uh. Yeah, today we've built about 50 stations already. We have, uh, more than 20 in operation

in Europe. Uh, all Europe, UK, France, Spain, and Germany.

And, uh, so we set up a factory. We have a capability to produce about 200 stations per year. Uh, so, and we are ready to address the U. S. market.

Molly Wood Voice-Over:

A weirdly super popular booth in Eureka Park was the one for Viridox … a Montreal-based company that makes a water-based sanitizing spray that you apply to produce to make it last longer …

Sound clip:

So we learned that 33 percent of the food get wasted. So we have to do something about it. It's 10 percent of gas emission. So we create an activated mist that would kill bacteria on the surface of the fruit and vegetable to extend their shelf life. So the food doesn't get thrown out. Okay, tell us about the activated mist.

Okay, perfect. So we use water and electricity only. So tap water from your house. And you just use electricity to activate that mist. So basically we generate hydrogen peroxide in that. That will oxidize the skin of, uh, the bacteria to kill them. Is it for consumers? Yeah, this one is for, uh, both is for consumers.

We just launched, uh, this one.

Molly Wood Voice-Over:

This one being a device called the Pami-spray … and it was an immediate hit with an attendee who works in retail and also … wants longer-lasting raspberries.

Sound clip:

I need that. You need that? That's the one. Yeah. Okay, so tell me why you want it, if you don't mind. Uh, because I do feel like we throw out a lot of food. First of all, it comes from the grocery store already probably half gone. And I feel like, you know, from what we're seeing here, that would be something that could extend the life so that it would last, you know, at least a week.

Same thing for me. Last week I went to the grocery store to buy a raspberry. The two packs on the top were already molded. So I removed those two, take the two other ones, I bring them home, they get molded the next day.

If I have put them in the bowl and let the magic of the baby spray be applied on it, I will be able to eat them for the next five days. And instead of putting it in a compost, you could have eaten it. We bought molded within a day of being here. We bought raspberries. And yesterday, I was like, trash done.

Seven bucks, And so then for you, yeah, is it a climate thing or a money thing, the waste? Um, money matters. I mean, of course it does, but it's just the frustration of going. a whole deal of raspberries and I had to throw them out. We bought them. I bring my food. Food. When I travel, I bring stuff and now you're getting here going, great, that's molded already.

Sound clip:

Alright, just to give you an example of the other kind of Green tech that I'm seeing here, I'm walking by a eco friendly solid state batteries booth. I see another sustainable alternative to batteries booth called Dracula. I'm seeing an automated gearbox with recycled carbon injected frame for e bikes.

I'm seeing carbon capture, innovative carbon capture. I'll have pictures of all of this on the website. Uh, but this is just me standing in one place. Trying to warm my way in to talk to all of these entrepreneurs who are overwhelmed with interest. Okay, now I'm coming up on the Pakabat. Uh, world's one, first 100 percent energy independent heat pump.

I love a heat pump. I've seen photovoltaic cells on the show floor. I'm telling you people, this is a stealth sustainability show. Oh, here's a lady getting a massage. Whoa, whoa.

Molly Wood Voice-Over:

Yeah … it was the last day … I was easily distracted. I didn't stop for a massage from the weird robotic massager using what looked like a little tiny baby foot on an arm to work out this woman's muscles but please believe me …

I considered it.

Ok, that's it for this episode of Everybody in the Pool. Thank you so much for listening.

I am THRILLED to be back with a new year full of entrepreneurs and innovators and investors and practitioners working on building a better future for all of us.

If you have ideas or suggestions … please send them to me! The email address is in at everybody in the pool dot com.

Subscribe to the newsletter at mollywood dot co to get new episodes and show notes in your inbox every week … and find all the latest episodes and more at everybody in the pool dot com, the website.

Finally … you can support the show directly by becoming a subscriber … to get an ad-free version of the show. That link … is in the description in your podcast app of choice.

Thanks again … happy new year … and see you next week.

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