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HybridArchitect
Hyperdrive

Registered: Aug 2004
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
Posts: 11309

Lightbulb Hybrid Batteries

Can't recall if anyone posted this link previously (I am so confused...). Anyway, here is/was an interesting story about hybrid battery production concerns:
http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos...batteries_x.htm

And, in case the link goes dead:

* * * * * * * * *

Hybrids may face juice shortage
By Earle Eldridge, USA TODAY

Explosive growth in the number of hybrid gas/electric vehicles manufactured and sold in coming years may strain makers of the expensive battery packs that help power them.

With relatively few hybrid models on the market, the three major suppliers of the batteries Japan's Panasonic and Sanyo and U.S.-based Cobasys may have enough production capacity to meet automakers' current plans over the next few years.

But without expansion or more players coming into the market, batteries could be in short supply three or four years from now when more automakers expect to begin selling hybrids.

Even now, suppliers appear unable to quickly add production. Ford Motor has already complained that Sanyo battery supplier for the hybrid version of the Escape sport-utility vehicle can't build enough batteries. The hybrid Escape went on sale in September. Ford expects to build 20,000 for the 2005 model year but would like to build more.

Ford is in talks with Sanyo about boosting production. It also is talking with other hybrid battery makers to get more supply.

Sanyo officials in Detroit said they could not talk about their production plans because of contract agreements with Ford.

Automakers hope that the growing popularity of hybrids will entice other companies to build the battery packs, increasing competition and ultimately reducing the price, which now can run as high as $5,000.

That added competition is likely, says Brion D. Tanous, an equity research ....yst at Merriman Curhan Ford & Co. in San Francisco. "Over the next three to six months, you will see a flurry of announcements of what battery companies have design contracts and what hybrid vehicles are coming from the automakers," he says.

Hybrid vehicle designs vary. But all use an electric motor, powered by a battery pack, to aid the gasoline engine. Energy generated when the brakes are applied recharges the battery.

The electric/gas combination some foreign designs use diesel dramatically increases fuel economy and reduces tailpipe emissions.

Hybrid batteries are made of nickel-metal hydride, rather than the lead used for non-hybrid car batteries. The nickel-metal hydride batteries can hold twice as much energy as lead batteries, have a longer life cycle and require no maintenance; the materials in them and are far less toxic than regular car batteries. But they can be heavy and bulky, so battery makers are searching for ways of making them lighter yet more powerful.

Toyota and Honda have been the early players in the hybrid market. Honda was the first automaker to introduce a hybrid in the USA when it launched Insight, a small two-seater, in December 1999.

J.D. Power and Associates estimates that by 2007, about 410,000 hybrid vehicles will be sold in the USA, up from an estimated 70,000 this year and about 47,500 in 2003.

By 2011, about 35 hybrid models will be on the market, predicts Anthony Pratt, a forecaster for J.D. Power. "There will be hybrids in every segment."

Other battery makers will help meet the increasing demand when they complete the vigorous testing required of battery packs, says Bob Stempel, former CEO of General Motors who is now CEO of Energy Conversion Devices. ECD and Chevron/Texaco own Cobasys in a 50/50 joint venture.

"The automakers want a year's worth of testing before they put it in their vehicles" he says.

Toyota, which builds the popular Prius hybrid, announced that it will increase production of the sedan from about 50,000 this year to 100,000 next year. Currently, customers can face a two-month wait to get a Prius. Toyota gets its hybrid batteries from Panasonic, which was able to increase production to meet the demand, says Nancy Hubbell, a Toyota spokeswoman.

Honda, which sells a Civic hybrid along with Insight, will launch a hybrid version of its Accord on Dec. 10.

Honda plans to sell 20,000 Accord hybrids a year, partly because it is sure it can get 20,000 batteries from Sanyo, its hybrid battery supplier for Accord. Civic and Insight hybrid batteries come from Panasonic.

The Accord is one of the most popular cars in the USA, with about 400,000 sold annually. "From our experience with hybrids, we think 20,000 is a realistic sales goal" for the hybrid version, says Chris Naughton, a Honda spokesman.

Besides increasing hybrid models and sales, another problem could threaten the future supply of batteries.

As cell phone companies begin updating the backup generators at their towers, they may move to nickel-metal hydride batteries for the same reason automakers turned to them for hybrid cars. Most cell towers currently rely on several lead batteries stored in a shed near the tower for power during blackouts.


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HybridArchitect is offline Old Post 12-29-2004 12:20 AM
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zman5588
2nd Gear

Registered: Feb 2003
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 268

As a foot note here Panasonic is selling off it's battery plants everywhere that produce NIMH batteries. Why? I have no idea. Also, cell companies would never replace the batteries in their huts because of the cost factor. Lead-acid batteries work extremely well for what they want them for.


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zman5588 is offline Old Post 12-29-2004 07:32 AM
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uniongodess
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Registered: Oct 2004
Location: Maryland
Posts: 269

Will this mean less hybrids being made?


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uniongodess is offline Old Post 12-29-2004 11:57 PM
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HybridArchitect
Hyperdrive

Registered: Aug 2004
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
Posts: 11309

The battery production/supply issues will limit the number of hybrids that can be manufactured, but like any item in demand, the marketplace will adjust to the new requirements and capacity should be increased.

As with all equations, greater supply coupled with increased R&D should eventually result in improved battery technology at a lower per unit cost. If and when our hybrid battery packs require replacement, the costs should be less and the capacity possibly increased.


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HybridArchitect is offline Old Post 12-30-2004 12:14 AM
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uniongodess
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Registered: Oct 2004
Location: Maryland
Posts: 269

HA- you don't think the quality will decrease due to production increase.


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uniongodess is offline Old Post 12-30-2004 12:40 AM
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HybridArchitect
Hyperdrive

Registered: Aug 2004
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
Posts: 11309

I don't think so.

While there may be some third-party "knock-off" batteries produced at reduced cost/quality, I suspect that like everything in the world of consumer electronics, the overall capabilities will increase while the costs decrease. It will be up to the consumer to ensure that they obtain reputable replacements with proper warranty protection -- much the same as for any purchase.

I am sure that qualified Ford dealers will offer battery replacement outside of the warranty periods (8-10 years down the road), but that alternate suppliers will exist by then as well. Some of these other sources could conceivably offer a better battery pack for less money, but you will have to do a bit of research to ensure yourself of this.

Don't worry -- by then hybrid chat will completely dominate all automotive forums (this one included ) and the wealth of information available on-line will ensure that we all make the right choice


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HybridArchitect is offline Old Post 12-30-2004 12:48 AM
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Jeepsbeme
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Registered: Mar 2004
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Escapemaniac04, how are these other battery technologies in high amperage applications? Electronic devices have a relatively constant and low amperage (milliamp?) draw, whereas the Hybrid requires varying and at times VERY high amperage capability.

I know nothing of the batteries you mentioned so I just thought I'd ask the question.

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Jeepsbeme is offline Old Post 12-30-2004 07:56 PM
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HybridArchitect
Hyperdrive

Registered: Aug 2004
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
Posts: 11309

Every time I hear about LiION batteries I recall the PowerBook 5300 back in the mid-90s. It was Apple's first portable to switch from the tried-and-true NiMH batteries to the new kid on the block at that time -- LiIONs from Sony. Problem was, they developed a bit of a reputation for starting on fire.

I'm sure that problem is all better now (heck, every portable device now has these). Still, I'd hate to see what damage a battery pack the size of the Escape's would do if it decided to follow suit


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HybridArchitect is offline Old Post 12-30-2004 09:27 PM
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salsbr
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Registered: Feb 2004
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quote:
Originally posted by EscapeManiac04
Personally... I think NiMH batteries should be abandoned... I believe they should use a different chemistry... such as totally memory effect free Lithium Ion (LIon) or Lithium Polymer (LiPoly)... Not only are they totally memory effect free, but have a really long lifespan (heck, they use Lion batteries $600 Citizen Eco-Drive watches and they claim to last 15+ years!) and not only that, but the same battery that is NiMH would weigh 50% less if they used Lion... and it would weigh 75% less if they used LiPoly... Not only that, but the chemistry could hold a 200% more charge if they used LIon to NiHM and a whopping 300% more charge if they used LiPoly compared to a NiMH. Why do you think cell phones can have a talk time of 5+ hours...

Now if Ford engineers were really, super duper smart, they would use the LIon (which has been proved EXTREMELY reliable!) or think about in the future using LiPoly (fairly new, only been out on the market for 2 years +/- some months...) NiMH is 1/2 as reliable as to LIon... A good example was my first notebook computer... it was an IBM thinkpad, it had a NiMH battery, after 5 years, it only holds a charge of 75%... So NiHM does have a memory effect. A cell phone I had for quite a long time, that had a LIon battery lasted 3 1/2 years... Still can hold a 100% charge from the day I bought it, and still has the same amount of talk time since I bought it and I put a total of 6500 hours on it!! and recharged it a zillion times, and it was put through heat, moisture, drops, etc.

I am still uncertain about LiPoly, but I've heard great raves about it. I still say Ford should use LIon, for their own sake, and so that a hybrid will last longer than 5 years for the moderate consumer.

Just a thought though... since, obviously Ford DOES infact look at e-c...



The effect you mention for NiMH is not memory. They simply wear out. And you shoud note that LIon or LiPo batteries do the same.

What jeepsbeme mentioned is very true. The Escape draws too much current out of the cells to use any existing LiPo Cells. Consider that the electric motor can put out 65kw, and the battery pack is 330v, so, 65000 = 330 * current. This makes current = 65000/330 = 196 amps. Right now, the limit for an equivalently sized LiPo battery would be about 50 amps (using commercially available batteries).

Third, HA mentioned the fire issue. All good cell batteries have current limiting protection built into the battery pack. You still hear of batteries that explode on people.

The other thing not mentioned here is what happens if you damage them. LiPo batteries will short internally, and become a raging inferno. I fly electric RC airplanes, and have a number of these batteries. Where they are wonderful, you have to be somewhat careful.

I have seen a number of recent pics of peoples cars burned to a crisp because a battery was damaged at the flying field, they stuck it in their car, and about 15 minutes later it lit on fire.

Now, there are companies working on LiPos for applications like this. In theory they will work something out Until then I'll stick with the NiMhs.

When Ford, and other companies, decide to put LiPos in their hybrids, perhaps I'll be more trusting.


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