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January 29, 2007



A breakthrough in Li-ion battery technology...is expected to happen in Japan [from] Sanyo Electric
What barrier is there to break through exactly ? Lithium is being used in BEVs now, so what miracle breakthrough is there to wait for ?


Increased energy density/range, fast charging times for long roadtrips, etc.

Paul Dietz

Also, improved battery life, reduced risk of thermal runaway, and lower cost.


Better watch out when the japanese put their might behind a piece of technology.

I think the Volt will introduce an extreme destabilizing paradigm shift in the GM organization, being a serial hybrid. Imagine all the transmission, transaxle, differential, and powertrain people who are going to lose their jobs or have to retrain into something that requires lesser skills. There will be huge internal resistance to this concept.


Er .. there are several vendors shipping lithium batteries with fast charge capability ( a123, altair ), electrovaya just claimed 330wh/kg, none of them has thermal runaway problems and improved lithium ion is shipping for $160/kwh from china.
Altair claims recharge cycles near 20 000 for a battery, for a 85% retained capacity.
So again, what exact breakthrough benchmarks are we talking about, here ?


kert, I don't believe the Electrovaya battery has the life cycle, safety, low cost of production, fast charge, and operating temperature characteristics of the nano Li-ion batteries. It is not suitable for a BEV.

What is needed is higher capacity for nano Li-ion. It stands at 100 Wh/kg at this time - a BEV will currently need a 500 kg battery - its excessive. Also low-cost high quantity production of nano Li-ion does not exist yet (or the high demand obscures the true cost of production). The Japanese will surely develop methods to increase capacity and mass produce the batteries at much lower cost.

Jim of the blog, can you turn off centering of comments, please?


Beek, I don't think that it would be a job threat. These are just the beginnings of electric vehicles. Maybe down the road they will upgrade with special transmissions or better axle systems or other upgrades. This is the one false scare tactic that is out there. Like losing oil will cost jobs. It will just get focused elsewhere. Instead of ICE mechanics, you'll have solar power mechanics or wind power technicians. In this day and age, you have to be ready to upgrade your skills or change careers. That's just life.


Kert you are right. Evidently the crew assembled here forgot to read a few of Jim's articles on the new nanotech li-ion batteries (Too busy,still celebrating their "victory" over ender?). I believe one had 18,000 cycles?

Even at only 20 miles per cycle, that's plenty of mileage.

Safety and quick charge are also done deals.

Mass production capital is all that is lacking. My guess is capital has been scarce because of resistance by the same corporations that killed the electric car, featured in that movie of that name.

Another problem is that investors are at the whim of which company auto companies may choose. It's a gamble, based on corporate think rather than reason. very risky to put money on Altairnano if A123 gets the GM contract.


You know I'm going to disagree with that DocX. And the GM contract is already a done deal. You already know my position on the matter. The only thing I'm afraid of is if GM/A123 does NOT get an exclusivity agreement. If they do NOT have an exclusivity agreement, than A123 will seek contracts with all companies wanting their technology. That would be very very bad for Altair and other battery companies. If they do get an exclusivity agreement, and depending on the language of the agreement, than it will limit other prospects, and I'm sure GM will go for the agreement just to get back in the game. Altair may have made a mistake when they agreed to go exclusive with Phoenix's EVs, but they did leave the option open to HEVs/PHEVs. If GM/A123 go exclusive, than GM's competitors will have to seek similar technology to stay competitive. That's where companies like Altair, Vallence, Electrovaya, Eestor, Sanyo so forth and so on come into play. And of those companies I would have to say the closest competitor would be Altair. At the moment, it's not about who gets the deal with GM, it's who gets the deal with China. I think Toyota and the rest of world is a bit afraid of China's advantages.


With $120 M of VC financing, I doubt that A123 will go exclusive, even with GM. Besides, there is nothing that would prevent another startup to get into the nano Li-ion business (unlike the NiMH patent monopoly). HydroQuebec has not enforced its patent, AFAIK, but that will be coming, and there is no reason why HQ will do a Cobasys on nanolion - it would be difficult for the auto companies to buy off HQ.

I think the cat is out of the bag. Yes there are some engineering problems that need to be ironed out in the next 5 years, and that would delay introduction, or limit it to high cost. I don't think big oil or big auto can stop this. China is the wild card, and the oil-ICE axis will have to get too many people to submit. At best they can delay it, but not for long. I don't think VCs would have invested in A123 to this extent if there was any serious danger of market manipulation.


"the oil-ICE axis"

The true axis of evil, from the perspective of global climate disaster.

Greg Woulf

I think this is where batteries are today, just by following the site and others.

1. Altair -
Pro's - High cycle life, fast recharge, safe, power density.

Con's - half the energy density of lithium-ion, cost is high, no mass production yet.

2. A123 -
Pro's - good cycle life, good recharge, safe, power density energy density.

Con - Cost seems exhorbitant right now.

3. Electrovaya is almost unknown to me. I've tried looking them up but all I see is energy density which looks awesome. I imagine that there's a problem or we'd be able to find the cycle life, cost, power density, recharge time easily.

Anyway that's the way I see it. I'd say of the three A123 and Altair can be used now and I just don't know on Electrovaya.

Harvey D.


Did you purposely restrict your list of potential manufacturers to USA/Canada? There are many more potential sources in Japan, Europe and very soon from China and Korea where mass production of most advanced batteries will come from.

Electrovaya seems to have the best energy density (330+ Wh/Kg) on the market but discharge/recharge times (few hours) are currently too long for BEV applications. Could be better suited for PHEVs, portable phones, digital cameras, note-book computers etc.

How about EEStor?


I am a little concerned when everyone keeps saying

" Li-ion Battery X is being used in car Y by car make Z with Claims of 10 of thousands of recharge cycles that will take only minutes to recharge so what is the break through in technology are car companies waiting for".

I think everyone forgets a big difference between a niche and mass market as a person who worked on advanced technology deployments I saw this all the time. Sr. Management would go to a company with 3 employees and 100 accounts and see something they thought was cool. The other company would say hey we installed this in one day and it works great. Well we had thousands of employees and over 300 thousand accounts. What the small business did not tell them is it crashes every week so they just work on paper. This happens in a large organization and thousands sit around.

The one company that is even close to rolling out a product right now is Phoenix Motor Cars in Ontario California. Their production schedule for this year is for 500 cars and they anticipate ramping up to 6,000 next year. For this year they only plan to sell to fleets so they can provide support to one or two locations.

Chevrolet builds 15000 Chevy Cobalt’s a month in the United States. They ship vehicles to 8,700 just in North America. That means training at least 17,000 people on how to work on these vehicles along with cost of modifying plants it goes on and on.

Right now technology exists, and it has existed for 10 years, that does away with the need for the keyboard. So how come everyone is not using it. It remains a niche because it does not work consistently but every year another vendor says they have solved it but its all vaporware

A car manufacturer is required to support a vehicle for a set number of years if a small company rolls out a technology and it bust they just close up shop. There is a big difference if someone like GM ships hundred of thousands of cars and they develop and major glitch then billion are lost. Right now until the niche builders get more than 10 cars each on the road their technology nothing but Vaporware. So stop saying the technology exist and it is ready for primetime. IT's NOT. I hope they get it worked out soon but it is not there yet.


Guy's.. please read my new comment in the "Zap" post... something very special just happened!!! I appologize for repeating this comment on the latest posts but I really think this is some very important news!!!



Will the reign of Toyota’s Prius as the world’s best-selling hybrid vehicle soon reach its end? If yes, will General Motor’s new hybrid car, the Chevrolet Volt, be the perfect heir to the throne? The new Chevrolet Volt is just one of the four hybrids being developed by GM. As part of the GM’s E-Flex architecture, its initial features include a plug in cable, battery – dominated series hybrid architecture. GM designed the Volt to start its engine when 40 % of the battery charge remains and it can gain fuel economy of 50 mpg. (4.7 l/ 100km) even when the vehicle is not plugged in.

In an article entitled “Energy Diversity as a Business Imperative” in The Futurist” magazine, Elizabeth Lowery, said "Today, we are embracing multiple energy sources because there is no single answer available for the mass market…. In 2007, GM will debut four hybrid models—with many more in the years to follow."

A Hybrid car is a vehicle that combines a conventional propulsion system with an on – board rechargeable energy storage system (RESS) in order to attain better fuel economy than a conventional vehicle without being hampered by range from a charging unit like an automotive electrical" vehicle.


The world is moving on at quite a pace. I don't possess car because I feel I am doing my bit for the environment. Bring on the flying cars then I might get one.

μεταχειρισμενα αυτοκινητα

great.Technology is rapidly developing and can't be stopped and i guess this better .I have μεταχειρισμενα αυτοκινητα and i do any possible ways to protect environment and one of my action is converting it into electric car

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Batteries/Hybrid Vehicles