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BMW Says Electric Car Mass Production Not Viable Until 2020 (reuters.com) 142

BMW will not mass produce electric cars until 2020 because its current technology is not profitable enough to scale up for volume production, the chief executive said on Thursday. From a report: Munich-based BMW unveiled its first battery electric car in 2013, and has been working on different generations of battery, software and electric motor technology since then. The i8 Roadster model, due to hit showrooms in May, is equipped with what BMW calls its fourth-generation electric drive technology. Advances in battery raw materials and chemistry has increased its range by 40 percent over the previous version, BMW said. BMW is working to make electric car technology more modular and scalable to make mass production commercially viable. "We wanted to wait for the fifth generation to be much more cost competitive," Chief Executive Harald Krueger told analysts in Munich. "We do not want to scale up with the fourth generation."
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BMW Says Electric Car Mass Production Not Viable Until 2020

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  • by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @01:45PM (#56306625) Homepage Journal

    Look, BMW just doesn't want to do this, because of profit factors, not because they are not capable of making a profit doing it.

    They can convert easily. There are companies in Asia that produce far more all electric vehicles than BMW does, and they converted much more quickly and scaled up.

    • >Look, BMW just doesn't want to do this, because of profit factors

      I think they don't want to because they are petrol heads; but they are seeing that electric cars are superior and are forced to switch now.

      • What makes you think that they care about what powers their cars; as long as it's profitable?

        • What makes you think that they care about what powers their cars; as long as it's profitable?

          Their many scientific papers on the subject.

          Their actual large-scale production of such vehicles.

          BMW is more concerned that they were slacking and didn't corral the battery tech and material resource market contracts needed for large-scale implementation, than they are with the profit this year. They are facing hard deadlines in capacity required, and will lose market and mind share if they don't succeed.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        >Look, BMW just doesn't want to do this, because of profit factors

        I think they don't want to because they are petrol heads; but they are seeing that electric cars are superior and are forced to switch now.

        Hardly. There currently is not a profitable market for electric cars. GM had an electric car back in the 90s and it only sold about 500,000 units which wasn't enough to be profitable and justify the capital expenditures to make them.

        There are too many folks who see the small pockets where EVs are kind of selling and extrapolate to the World at large.

        Tesla's model S sales top out at about 80,000 a year - no matter how many they make, they cannot sell more than that. And as we see, Tesla has been losing mone

        • Half a million units in the 90s? Wow, must be mature tech now. Looks like Chevrolet sold 23,000 Bolts last year, 20,000 Volts, and 75,000 Chevrolet Impalas. In January, 2018, there were 82,000 electric vehicles sold worldwide, versus 41,000 in January of 2017; sales rate tends to ramp up as the year progresses, and the 2017 year-end total was 1.2 million worldwide.

          So the worldwide slow-month market for EVs is about the same size as the worldwide annual sales of Impalas. Impalas and Volts are both $40,0

          • by AvitarX ( 172628 )

            The Volt is a plug-in hybrid though.

            Likely my next car will be a current (as in current today) generation Volt used.

            The 50 Mile electric, plus 270 per tank of gas seems perfect.

            • Yep, and the Bolt (which outsold the Volt) is a plug-in all-electric. The number you need to cover most daily commuting is 80 miles on battery, which is why I'm fine with the 250-300 mile electric ranges but want any new subsidies or other state encouragement of PHEVs to require 80+ mile range in typical condition. Note that the 2013 Volt gets about 32 miles in the winter and 42 miles in the summer, while claiming 35 on battery: it sort of exceeds its range estimates most of the time (I've gotten nearly

              • by AvitarX ( 172628 )

                Nice to know.

                I'm a 1 car household, and I do a road trip about once a month, so a pure plugin would need a considerably higher range (750), but the 50 advertised of the current Volt seems perfect for the other 28 days a month.

                I'm right on the edge of electrics being there for me, but that much car rental adds up.

                I'm working on getting a carport built before my current car dies too (I live in a city and need my back yard to be a driveway, and I'd be more comfortable with it covered).

                • In a reasonable world, there'd be solar power over parking lots, with that 600VDC coming straight down (from sun or from grid) for level 3 charging at 48kW--enough to add 250 miles of range in an hour. After driving for more than three hours at 80mph, you can sit down and eat.

                  Level 3 charging is projected to go to 80kW and even higher easy enough (terrifying, I know), netting you 400 miles in an hour or 200 in half an hour. Most people want a reasonable half-hour charge, but most people really take abo

                  • by AvitarX ( 172628 )

                    I assume batteries will get bigger too.

                    If I can go 1,000 miles a charge, that pretty much covers me on most round trips.

                    I don't need fast charging then, as long as I can charge 50-100 a typical night at home with nothing exotic (I think a standard 220v home circuit does that).

                    • A 220V circuit is actually pretty exotic. A typical 110V circuit at 15 amps (13A draw) can supply 10.8kWh in 10.5 hours--yes, at 1.43kW, you're getting about 1kW of charge storage. Charging is only 70% efficient.

                      At 220V and 15A draw (3.3kW, 20A circuit) can do it in 2.5 by some magic--that's only 8.25kWh charging 10.8kWh of a 16kWh battery. Magical violations of the laws of thermodynamics aside, If you want 100 miles, you need 30kWh. To do that in 8h, you want a 40 amp circuit drawing 25 amps for you

                    • I'd hardly call a stove or dryer circuit exotic

                      A car port requires installing a new circuit breaker, using special cable, and digging a ditch--unless you have an indoor garage built into your house. The ditch must be a specific minimum depth (18 inches nonmetal conduit, 4 inches metal conduit under concrete). The cable will be sunk in water; it must be a single run with its jacket and insulation both in tact (no nicks, no cuts, no splices, no electrical tape). A covered car port may still require special, weather-rated exterior plugs, unless you ha

                  • I curious as to how many of these level 3 chargers are in the US. Is it comparable to Tesla? I think a good charging network is a big factor in selecting an electric car. Tesla has lots of stations and is already at 120kW and is planning to go to 350kW. Is there a comparable option for other manufactures?
                    • Not yet. ChargePoint can deliver 500kW to a single vehicle [chargepoint.com], if your vehicle can handle it. In the future, I imagine we'll have a lot of solar-over-parking-lot to directly feed these things (panels produce 600VDC, and L3 DC is 600VDC). Over 1,400 parking spaces, our local community college installed 5MW of capacity--enough to simultaneously charge about 60 cars at 80kW or 50 at 100kW. You're going to be in class for an hour.

                      The solar power is going to offset utility bills for your shopping mall or col

        • >Tesla has been losing money for the last 14 years a

          there is a difference between losing money and investing money.

    • It's a pretty significant supply chain change for them. The operational details are probably quite complex and there are potentially contractual agreements that must expire as well.

    • Before Tesla was on the map, there were three wheeled electric cars scooting around Austin. Of course, the range was crap, and they looked fugly... but local stores were buying them, since they were good runabout vehicles for deliveries, and had very little maintenance requirements.

      There are a lot of companies producing electric vehicles. They may not be supercar contenders, but battery technology is stable enough that even RVs are getting lithium battery systems. Electric drivetrains are also a solved p

      • A lot of what you perceive as "electric cars" is really marketing.

        The same model that is sold in Canada to comply with their fleet replacement criteria as an "electric" car, is sold in California as a "ecologically friendly dual drive hybrid". It's the same basic car, it primarily uses all electric unless you enable "sport" or "performance" mode, when it uses the gasoline engine to provide extra power, like most modern supercars do. But it will get you to a charging point, or let you drive in areas without

      • 99% of car journeys in the USA 95% of trips are shorter than 30 miles and 99% is below 70 mil so the need for a monster amount of charge points is not critical to most journeys http://www.solarjourneyusa.com... [solarjourneyusa.com] but a chain of fast chargers are needed for long journeys. Uptake of EVs could be fast in any country if you are lucky enough to have a dwelling where you could attached a charger and even more so if you are 2 car family where one is just used around town.
        • 99% of car journeys in the USA 95% of trips are shorter than 30 miles and 99% is below 70 mil so the need for a monster amount of charge points is not critical to most journeys

          You all still ignore the hell that is apartment complex parking. Absolutely no-one seems to be thinking through the question "what happens when all cars are electric". They cannot be until that question is considered; until the problem of mass numbers of electric cars is addressed electric cars will remain HipsterMobiles.

          • by ahodgson ( 74077 )

            I agree. Only people who own their own house with off-street parking can realistically own electric vehicles today.

    • Look, BMW just doesn't want to do this, because of profit factors, not because they are not capable of making a profit doing it.

      IBM sold its ThinkPad brand to Lenovo, because "it could not be made profitable" . . . even though the IBM ThinkPads were already made in China.

      Lenovo seems to be doing fairly well with ThinkPads.

      • Actually my gaming laptop is from Lenovo. And my prior laptop (decades ago) was a ThinkPad.

        That said, it has more to do with BMW being slow on the uptake, and letting China and other car manufacturing countries (hi, South Korea!) grab all the material sources for battery tech needed for vehicles. That's on them. They thought, incorrectly, that their competitors were US based. But they're not.

  • They are waiting for companies to start cranking out cheap solid state lithium batteries. This maximizes their profit margin and they don't actually give a fuck about the environment, just their profit margins.

    • This maximizes their profit margin and they don't actually give a fuck about the environment, just their profit margins

      Err....you do not seem to understand the sole purpose of forming a company here for some reason.

      That is their job...their ONLY job, to "create a profit" for the owners and stock holders (if public).

      Did you never take even a rudimentary business class during your educational years?

      • You are the one who is clueless here (as so often). The objectives of a company are whatever is written in the corporate charter.

        • Ok, then riddle me this Batman....

          WTF would anyone create/incorporate as a for profit company.....and not have their primary goal of "making a profit"?

          • Ok, then riddle me this Batman....

            WTF would anyone create/incorporate as a for profit company.....and not have their primary goal of "making a profit"?

            For the incorporation protection and the possibility of going public. Not everyone are sociopaths.

          • Idealism, for example. Or religious values. Or seeing the profit just as a means to an end.

  • I don't understand why existing engine bays have not been reused to fit motor/battery into existing car platforms.

    Surely there is sufficient volume under the bonnet/hood to include a pretty much self contained motor/battery/control unit that could be a straight replacement for the existing lump of metal that is the engine/gearbox combination.

    It shouldn't even affect the car dynamics much, as you'll be just replacing one dense concentration of metal with another. I'd even wager a motor and reasonably large b

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You are missing the weight component. The reason Tesla's handle so well is that the battery is basically the width and length of the car allowing for an equal weight distribution. If you put it all in the engine compartment, you are adding a LOT of weight and the car would probably have 70% of it's weight in that area.

      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Tesla’s handle like shit.

        • Re:Engine bay (Score:4, Informative)

          by Rei ( 128717 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @02:57PM (#56307163) Homepage

          Go find any review from anyone who's driven the Model 3 who says that it "handles like shit", and link it here, please.

          Even reviews that want to criticize it for other things generally have to reluctantly admit that the handling is superb. Motor Trend put its handling up against the BMW 330i and it beat the BMW in almost every category tested.

    • Re:Engine bay (Score:4, Informative)

      by stabiesoft ( 733417 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @02:00PM (#56306755) Homepage

      I think you are missing something. A typical model S sized car runs around 4000-4200 lbs, some much less like the audi and caddy CT6 because they make heavy use of aluminum. The CT6 for example weighs around 3700lbs. The S also makes heavy use of aluminum in the chassis. The S comes in at 4600-4900 lbs, so it is quite a porker even with an aluminum chassis. Batteries are heavy. I also looked up just the battery weight, 1200lbs. A typical V8 performance engine comes in around 500lbs, with V6 and I4's being less of course.

      • BMW has been burned in the past - notably with a subframe tear [motorauthority.com] issue. That's right, sheet metal that the axles mount to would tear like a bag of goldfish because they took an existing frame/subframe and slapped a bigger engine/drivetrain into it.

        Considering they bill themselves as "The Ultimate Driving Machine", I can understand how they'd want to spend some time to make sure they move from ICE to a high-powered electric motor without having the car destroy itself.

      • by Rei ( 128717 )

        Compare Model 3 rather than S, since S and X are older tech. Model 3 SR is essentially the same weight as its BMW size and performance equivalent, the 330i. The Model 3 LR is roughly the same weight as its BMW equivalent, the 340i. Once Tesla releases the performance packages, the car should be expected to be lighter than most of its size and performance equivalents.

    • by DogDude ( 805747 )
      In electric cars, the wheels are generally all controlled by their own motor and controller, right at the wheel. There's no need for drive shafts. And, you get much better control by having four separately powered wheels.

      I know that at Least Tesla uses big, flat batteries that they put along the bottom of the car, for weight distribution, from what I understand.

      I don't think there's anything in an electric car to put in the engine bay.
      • by welshie ( 796807 )

        The Nissan Leaf fits CV joints to traditional wheels, half shafts, a differential, a fixed 10:1 reduction gearbox, the motor itself (single AC induction motor), the inverter (drive electronics / motor controller), the on-board AC to DC charger , as well as the normal electric power steering, 12V accessory battery, and climate control systems, into what normal cars call the engine bay. There's still plenty of space there, but I wouldn't call it empty space.
        It's a front-wheel drive car.

        A rear-wheel drive car

    • Electric cars are generally safer because the batteries reinforce the structure of the car and because placing the batteries at the bottom of the car lowers the center of gravity. But your design wouldn't take advantage of those properties.

      In any case, BMW is no Tesla, so if they start mass producing electric cars, they'll start cannibalizing the sales of their own combustion cars, plus they'll have a glut of electrical cars sitting on their lots that they can't sell at the price they want.

    • by Jeremi ( 14640 )

      I don't understand why existing engine bays have not been reused to fit motor/battery into existing car platforms.

      This is commonly done -- in fact, it's easy enough to do that some technically-minded people like to convert their own gasoline-powered cars to electric in their garage [instructables.com].

      The only problem with doing that is that you end up with a pretty mediocre electric car with lots of design compromises -- a car designed from the ground up with electric in mind will have much better range, performance, and handling. That, as much as anything, was what separated Tesla from the rest of the automobile manufacturers in terms

    • It would have far lower vibration due to far lower moving parts.

      You missed that... Tesla has proven them wrong given their charging infrastructure, this is an attempt to save face, which is covered by pie given what they said...

    • Jaguar have done that with an E-Type https://media.jaguar.com/news/... [jaguar.com]
  • We suck!

  • "We were all about 'diesel' and we got caught with our pants down so we're just going to cede more customer to Tesla and other EV makers for a few more years until we get our act together. "

    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by Fly Swatter ( 30498 )
      How do you cede customers to a car maker that can't even meet it's own release schedule?
      • by Jeremi ( 14640 )

        By noticing that people who would have bought a BMW are choosing to buy a Tesla instead. Even if they have to wait a year for their Tesla to ship.

  • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@@@nerdflat...com> on Thursday March 22, 2018 @02:13PM (#56306847) Journal

    Recharging overnight is fine but if you forget to plug your car in overnight, you may not be able to get to work the next morning, whereas if you forget to fill up in last night when you noticed the tank was low, you can at least make a short stop along the way to work today.

    Plus, of course, if a person doesn't even live in a place where they have the facilities to charge their car overnight (eg, either a communal parking without any electric outlets or having to park their car in the street in front of their residence), electric cars as they exist today are complete nonviable. While not exactly a majority of the population, the number of people in that position is far too large a slice of the pie to ignore (more than 25% nationwide here in Canada, and in some municipalities, it's as high as 70%).

    • People with electric cars have multiple cars. They use an ICE as a backup car. Of course, there will be one guy who says "I know a guy who only has an electric car!". Yeah, right.
      • by mark-t ( 151149 )

        Wanna take a guess as just how long you'd need to be driving an electric car before the price difference between electricity and gas would have paid for that second car that you are needing to have as a back up?

        And of course, expecting to add a second car into the mix only makes things worse for people who live in apartments or condos because a lot of multiple family dwellings only provide one parking spot per unit.

        Of course, if something is only going to be widely consumed by the wealthy, it's not go

    • by tomhath ( 637240 )
      Only if you drive 100 miles to work. For most commuters an overnight charge will last a few days. Plus, chargers in work parking lots will become commonplace; we're not there yet but the infrastructure is slowly being built out. A couple more years and all the major car manufacturers will be selling them profitably.
      • by mark-t ( 151149 )
        How often you need to charge is not the point.... nor is the distance you need to drive. If you notice in the morning that you should have charged your car last night because you won't make it to work on what you have left, you are completely screwed over. If you don't have enough gas to make it to work, however, you can always make a quick stop on the way.
        • So... stop at a DC fast charger on your way to work. Problem solved. Duh.

          • by mark-t ( 151149 )
            That fast charger is still going to be a whole lot longer than a fill up... which is my entire point.
    • by Rei ( 128717 )

      Recharging overnight is fine but if you forget to plug your car in overnight, you may not be able to get to work the next morning

      If you have a 250 mile commute to work, you're spot on.

      • by mark-t ( 151149 )

        An electric car that is nearly depleted in charge might not even be able to go more than 5 or 10 miles, while a car that is nearly out of gas can usually at least make it to a gas station before continuing the journey.

        This is viable because the time it takes to fill up a car even from completely empty is only a few minutes. I'm suggesting that battery recharge times need to become similarly convenient before you will see electric cars really become mainstream.

        • "An electric car that is nearly depleted in charge might not even be able to go more than 5 or 10 miles, while a car that is nearly out of gas can usually at least make it to a gas station before continuing the journey." - these type of comments aren't really useful - you could say if the car out of gas is 20 miles from a gas station when it runs out, it'll take ages to get the fuel and you have to hope the nearest gas station isn;t empty and waiting for stock.

          Most EVs owners will have apps on their phon
          • by mark-t ( 151149 )

            If one lives in a relatively high-density populated area, there's a pretty good chance that they live within a mile of a gas station.

            Ideally a person could just take public transit to work in such areas, but in my experience public transit rarely adequately services industrial park areas where a lot of people have to go to work, and where driving might take only 20 to 30 minutes, taking public transit can push that closer to 90 minutes, each way... in some cases as long as 2 hours.

            • Dude your straw-man is getting pretty threadbare.

              You should do some research and maybe you can do a better job at anti-electric trolling. The only people who will believe the shit you are spewing are already convinced electric vehicles are the devils creation.

              • by mark-t ( 151149 )

                Or maybe you should bother to read what I wrote instead of throwing terms like 'strawman' around, and perhaps while you're at it, check a dictionary and look up the word, because nothing that I've said here would qualify as such. I have not taken anyone's arguments out of context, nor attacked my own interpretation of such an argument, so there's been no strawman here from my side.

                I've never claimed any position beyond the one I began with which is that EV's need to be more convenient for people to own

    • The more people buy the vehicles, the more pressure there is to have facilities. Early pressure comes from attracting wealthier tenants; later pressure comes from attracting any tenants at all.

    • Recharging overnight is fine but if you forget to plug your car in overnight, you may not be able to get to work the next morning [...]

      Depends on where you work.

      Many electric cars get over 200 miles on a charge and pretty much all of them will get over 100 miles. Figure that 85% of Americans travel less than 25 miles to work [dot.gov]. So even if they forget, they can manage to get to work and back the next day.

      • by mark-t ( 151149 )

        Sure... but I wasn't suggesting that you necessarily needed to have a full charge every day to get to work... any more than you need to have a full tank of gas. I was saying that with an electric car you need to have your car charged overnight whenever the charge is running low.

        If you only notice as you are leaving your home that you don't have enough charge to get to work in your electric car, you're completely fucked.

        If you notice as you you are leaving your home that you don't have enough gas to ge

        • by Rei ( 128717 )

          So your point is that if you forget to charge your car 5-15 times in a row, you might have to stop at a DC charger on the way for five minutes to add enough range for the trip?

          Heavens to Betsy, EVs are doomed.

          • by mark-t ( 151149 )
            If short charges like that did not impact the battery life, it would be fine... but it does, so it's not. Do it too often, and you pay for that forgetfulness with the price of having to buy a new battery long before you would have otherwise.
            • by Rei ( 128717 )

              If short charges like that did not impact the battery life, it would be fine.

              They do impact battery life.... for the better (shallow charge cycles are better for li-ion than deep cycles).

              Your knowledge of batteries is literally four decades old. "Memory effects" are from the Ni-Cd days. Ni-MH had something that looked like a memory effect, but it disappeared after a few charges. Li-ion has never had memory effects in any way, shape, or form.

            • by Rei ( 128717 )

              And more to the point, even if they did (as mentioned, they don't), manufacturers would simply just just modify the BMS to charge the thousands of individual cells consecutively, not incrementally.

              Shallow charges are normal in EVs, particularly long-range EVs where only a tiny portion of the range is used in a typical day. And they demonstrably last for long time periods and ranges. There are Tesla taxis with hundreds of thousands of miles on them that still have more than 90% of their original capacity.

    • I can go for the better part of a week before I have to charge our Tesla. I use about 30 miles of range per day and the standard 80% charge for ours is 232 miles. I typically keep it topped off every night because its easy but not really necessary. The 220V 80A power cord in our garage gives us about 60 miles of range per hour of charging.

      I've never driven long distance. We use the good old Mercury Mariner Hybrid for that.
    • Recharging overnight is fine but if you forget to plug your car in overnight, you may not be able to get to work the next morning

      Why? Do you work 150miles from where you live? My neighbour has an electric car. He happily goes a couple of days without charging.

      • by mark-t ( 151149 )

        No, but one might need to charge it every 3rd or 4th day or so.... and if they were to forget to do so overnight when I need to, I'm not getting to work on time that morning at all.

        With an ICE vehicle, at worst, one would need to make a pit stop for gasoline, which in large urban areas is not usually out of one's way at all owing to how common gas stations are in cities, and adding at most 5 minutes to a commute.

        People get EV's right now because they think that the inconveniences of it* are offset by

        • No, but one might need to charge it every 3rd or 4th day or so....

          So your ability to plan ahead suddenly goes to shit because "electrons". Key difference now being you no longer need to call AAA, you can just roll out the extension cord. Look we get it, you're incredibly anti-electric cars and will come up with any excuse. The rest of the world won't wait for you.

          • by mark-t ( 151149 )

            You don't need to call the AAA if you are low on gas, unless you don't even have enough to make it to a gas station (which in many cities is often not very far... I think the furthest I've ever lived from a gas station was about 2 miles). If you don't have enough electric charge in an EV to get to where you want to ultimately go, however.... you're in for a bit of a wait as you recharge, however.

            And I'm not anti-electric at all.. I've presented what I think are the biggest objections to electric cars a

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @02:19PM (#56306889)
    Is it 1980? Because if not 2020 is 2 years away. That's not even a blip in an industry as large as cars. The headline shouldn't be "not viable until 2020" it should be "will be viable by 2020".
    • Yeah you're right... if 2020 is go time, then they're already ready and it just takes the two years to draw their processes out and get the assembly line guys trained on the new procedures. It probably takes nearly as long to change the corporate logo and letterhead.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      To put it in context, the generation of car radios being manufactured today are for 2020 model cars. Basic testing, verification, and integration is a long process.

      in auto industry terms, 2020 = "today".

  • It's pushing 15 years now since Dr. Peter Tertzakian, maybe the continent's most distinguished "energy economist", wrote the book "A Thousand Barrels a Second", when the world consumption topped 84.6 million bbl/day. His company, Arc Energy, isn't in oil per se, they consult on the economics of developing various alternatives, whether undersea exploration will pay off, etc.

    He accepted that the entire industry had to go, eventually, and provided many contrasts to the all-coal era and how Winston Churchill

  • Not until 2020... Oh we'll SEE... we'll SEE!
  • It's almost as if environmental calamity alone is not enough motivation for a capitalist company to change its behaviour. Who would have guessed! You know when even Germany cant force companies to do the right thing, we're all doomed.

  • ..wow, thats way sooner than i expected and i'm pretty optimistic on electric cars.

    (i thought we'll be lucky to see model 3 in full swing by then)

  • Nice of BMW to leave it to Tesla to be the first manufacturer capable of producing over 500,000 BEV's per year. The experience could enable them to continue to be the prime mover in this technology.

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