Category Archives: batteries

Tesla to open 5 dealerships across the USA

Although they still haven’t delivered a single car (over 350 orders for the roadster), Tesla seems to be moving ahead at full-speed, inking deals to build a manufacturing plant in New Mexico for its upcoming EV sedan, and now, starting to open dealerships across the US. It certainly looks as though Tesla is seriously trying to give the big guys a run for their money:

The service centers will be located in Chicago, Northern California, Southern California, New York and Florida, according to a Daryl Siry, vice president of marketing. Each of the centers will have a couple of the cars in different colors, displays on the technology used in the vehicles, technicians and, of course, cheery, helpful salespeople ready to take that cashier’s check.

More will follow, Siry added, largely because the company will start producing a line of sedans in 2009. “To do 10,000 units for Whitestar (the codename for the sedan) we need to be in a lot more places,” he said.

Unlike most other car manufacturers, Tesla will not sell its cars through independent dealers. Instead, it will sell them through its Web site and company-owned dealership/service centers. The thinking is that selling, understanding and servicing an electric car is a different skill and not one that most traditional dealerships possess.

Siry also added that the company wants to control the customer’s buying experience. Most of the time, buying a car is unpleasant: dealers are paid to move the cars they have on the lot. Changing that arrangement could help Tesla-owned dealerships gain an edge in sales, he said

The two-seater roadster sells for $92,000 and will likely mostly be sold to a small segment of the population. In 2009, however, the company plans to come out with two four-door sedans that will sell in the $50,000 range that it will build in a plant in New Mexico.


Related: Tesla EV spotted testing on the roads in England

GM’s Battery Program

General Motors currently has development contracts with Johnson Controls-Saft and A123-Cobasys to work on lithium ion battery packs, initially for the plug-in hybrid Vue program. The lessons learned from that will also be applied to the Volt program although the balance of the battery chemistry will be different for that program since it’s primarily battery driven and requires greater energy than the parallel hybrid Vue. Joe LoGrasso is the Engineering Manager for Hybrid Energy Storage Systems and he gave an overview of the differing battery requirements for the two-mode, plug-in and series hybrids, ranging from short-range low-speed electric to 40+ miles. The E-Flex needs substantially higher power output than the parallel hybrids and much more energy density. Since the series hybrid has to get all of it’s motive power from the battery, and can’t rely on an engine for power, the battery has to do much more. 

Lithium batteries have the energy density and power output, and tend hold the power when sitting better than other types. The biggest problems that need to be conquered are lifespan, cold temperature performance and most importantly, robustness and abuse tolerance. Since the battery pack is built up from hundreds or thousands of individual cells, the interconnects that tie all the individual cells together have to be very carefully constructed in order to ensure that the pack survives the life of the vehicle. The process goes from developing individual cells to meet the performance requirements, integrating those cells into a pack and then finally integrating that pack into the vehicle system. While lithium batteries have been used in consumer electronics devices for many years, combining them into large format packs for use in the automotive environment is relatively new. Another problem that has to be dealt with is scaling up the construction of potentially tens of millions of larger format cells, in a consistent manner to ensure that they perform consistently and reliably in automotive applications. After all, no car-maker wants to be facing a large-scale battery recall like laptop manufacturers did in early 2006.  


Battery Breakthrough in South Africa?

South Africa’s Cape Times is reporting on an hybrid battery “breakthrough”. This is hybrid as in a battery that can charge and discharge simultaneously, not hybrid as in vehicles.

The new battery was developed over seven years by Jan Human of Somerset West. He claims the battery is scalable and the hybrid principle could be used in batteries that power everything from cell phones to vehicles to industrial sites. Human claims to have “found a new ‘pathway’ in the battery which allows it to charge and discharge at the same time,” according to the Cape Times. “When a conventional battery is discharging, say to power a light, it cannot store energy at the same time. It’s impossible. My battery does that. You can use wind and solar to charge my battery at the same time it is discharging,” Human told the paper.


A New Battery Takes Off in a Race to Electric Cars

Rechargeable lithium batteries have been used in laptop computers and mobile phones since the early 1990s. (Their common name, “lithium ion batteries,” is a tautology, since all batteries conduct electric current by allowing the passage of ions between two electrodes.) But despite their lightness, rechargeable lithium batteries — which often use a compound of highly reactive cobalt oxide — have hitherto been thought impractical for transportation because they are insufficiently powerful and might, if pierced, jarred or overheated, explode or burst into flames.

A123Systems batteries are different. Yet-Ming Chiang, a professor of materials science and engineering at M.I.T. and a co-founder of A123Systems, described their advantages: “Used in a hybrid vehicle, our batteries deliver faster acceleration than any other batteries of the same size,” Professor Chiang said. “And the chemical stability of the cathode material greatly improves safety as well as extending battery life.”


“Greenery” from the Geneva Auto Show

Toyota Hybrid-X Concept

Toyota presents a world premiere at the Geneva Motor Show with the reveal of Hybrid X – a concept car that proposes a new design language for hybrid models, while also acting as an innovative technology showcase for future generation hybrid cars.

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Honda Small Hybrid Sports Concept

This is a European creation, designed by Honda R&D Europe in Germany. The powertrain is a Honda IMA 4-cylinder petrol/electric hybrid system driving through a CVT transmission. The Honda “H” sits in front of an aerodynamic grill and tightly crafted body (check how close the wheelarches are to the low rolling resistance 165/60 section tires on 20-inch rims). And notice the lack of rear view mirrors? Rear-facing digital cameras are there to cover your backing-up needs.

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Cadillac’s new powerful, and clean, V-6 (250hp, 406ft-lbs) 

The compact dual overhead cam, four-valve V-6 engine belongs to a new GM family of diesel engines, featuring an innovative closed-loop combustion control system designed to meet future emissions standards. The engine can be installed in a longitudinal or transverse layout and can be adapted to a wide range of two- or four-wheel-drive vehicles.



Lotus EVE Hybrid

EVE is based on a Proton Gen.2 with a 1.6L gasoline engine, with a start-stop system, full parallel hybrid drive and a continuously variable transmission. The CO2 emissions were cut from 172g/km to 134g/km compared to the baseline car and fuel economy went from 32.6 to 41.8 mpg.  The start-stop system shuts off the engine when the vehicle comes to a stop and restarts it when the brake is released, to reduce emissions during idling. The hybrid system uses a 30kW, 144V motor between the engine and transmission. An extra clutch allows the regenerative braking or full electric drive, while a 144V Cobasys NiMH battery is mounted in the trunk.

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Pee Powered Battery

“To make the battery, Lee and his colleagues soaked a piece of paper in a solution of copper chloride and sandwiched it between strips of magnesium and copper. This sandwich was then laminated between two sheets of transparent plastic.

When a drop of urine is added to the paper through a slit in the plastic, a chemical reaction takes place that produces electricity.

The prototype battery produced about 1.5 volts, the same as a standard AA battery, and runs for about 90 minutes. Researchers said the power, voltage, and lifetime of the battery can be improved by adjusting the geometry and materials used.

Urine contains many ions (electrically charged atoms), which allows the electricity-producing chemical reaction to take place in the urine battery. Other bodily fluids, such as tears, blood, and semen, would work easily as well to activate the battery.”


Don’t forget to read about poop-powered fuel cells either (AutoblogGreen)

Lotus collaborating with Zap! on crossover EV

The ZAP-X will use in-hub electric motors in place of the V-6 gas engine. According to the Zap! press release the combination of motors will provide 644hp in all wheel drive mode and potentially drive the aluminum-structured vehicle to 155 mph. The hub motors will also allow extra batteries and an auxiliary power unit to be mounted under hood. Zap! is estimating the range at 350 miles and a recharge time of 10 minutes, although that fast charge time would almost assuredly have to be via a 480V charging system.

It seems as though Lotus is becoming a big player in the EV market, working with Tesla on their roadster and upcoming sedan, and also the Obvio sports car with Zap! (and now the ZAP-X)


Battery Breakthrough?

A secretive Texas startup developing what some are calling a “game changing” energy-storage technology broke its silence this week. It announced that it has reached two production milestones and is on track to ship systems this year for use in electric vehicles.

EEStor’s ambitious goal, according to patent documents, is to “replace the electrochemical battery” in almost every application, from hybrid-electric and pure-electric vehicles to laptop computers to utility-scale electricity storage.

The company boldly claims that its system, a kind of battery-ultracapacitor hybrid based on barium-titanate powders, will dramatically outperform the best lithium-ion batteries on the market in terms of energy density, price, charge time, and safety. Pound for pound, it will also pack 10 times the punch of lead-acid batteries at half the cost and without the need for toxic materials or chemicals, according to the company.

via::MIT Technology Review