Archive for the ‘Battery’ Category

 

Aug 05

GM and LG Chem Get Battery and Electric Car Grants: 500 Chevy Volts to Early Consumer Test Fleet

 

On Wednesday President Obama announced $2.4 billion in Recovery Act funding was being awarded for an electric drive vehicle battery and component manufacturing initiative.

“For too long, we’ve failed to invest in this kind of innovative work, even as countries like China and Japan were racing ahead,” he said. “With these investments, we’re planting the seeds of progress for our country and good-paying, private-sector jobs for the American people.”

“If we want to reduce our dependence on oil, put Americans back to work and reassert our manufacturing sector as one of the greatest in the world, we must produce the advanced, efficient vehicles of the future,” said President Obama.

The money is distributed as follows:

* $1.5 billion in grants to U.S. based manufacturers to produce batteries and their components and to expand battery recycling capacity;
* $500 million in grants to U.S. based manufacturers to produce electric drive components for vehicles, including electric motors, power electronics, and other drive train components; and
* $400 million in grants to purchase thousands of plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles for test demonstrations in several dozen locations; to deploy them and evaluate their performance; to install electric charging infrastructure; and to provide education and workforce training to support the transition to advanced electric transportation systems.

As noted, the bulk of the funds went to battery makers for use in creating battery manufacturing facilities. Johnson Controls was awards $299 million, A123 got $249 million, and EnerDel got $119 million among others.

Included in this category as well was General Motors and Compact Power Inc. GM received $105 million for the production of their Brownstone MI Chevy Volt battery pack assembly plant. Compact Power, subsidiary of LG Chem, was awarded $151 million to produce its lithium ion manganese cells that will be used in the Volt program.  LG Chem will be using these funds to build a US plant.

GM also received an additional $105 Million to be used for “construction of U.S. manufacturing capabilities to produce the second-generation GM global rear-wheel electric drive system.”

Since the Volt is a front wheel electric drive system, this suggests GM has something new in store for us with the second generation Voltec vehicles.

Finally, and most interesting, GM also received $30 million in another category. This money is to be used to “develop, analyze, and demonstrate hundreds of Chevrolet Volt Extended Range Electric Vehicles (EREVs) –125 Volt PHEVs for electric utilities and 500 Volt PHEVs to consumers.”

This certainly looks like GM plans on getting 500 Chevy Volts into the hands of US consumers for fleet testing sooner than the November 2010 launch date, with some sources saying perhaps as early as the summer of 2010.

I officially asked GM spokesperson Kerry Christopher about this.

“We’re excited about working on this project but not in a position to release specific details at this time,” said Christopher. “We just found out this morning that we would be receiving the grants. When we have information ready to share, you’ll be one of the first to know.”

Source (DOE )

 

Aug 05

GM Leaning Towards Selling Volt Without Leasing Battery Separately

 

Lets face it, new technology first generation automotive lithium-ion batteries are very expensive. It is this cost that will make the initial adoption of electric cars slower and less widespread than we would like. GM has positioned the Volt to have the least batteries, and thus the least expense possible, yet will still tip the scale at around $40,000.

Nissan which has unveiled its LEAF EV appears to be leaning towards leasing the battery separately from the car. They recognize this could reduce monthly cost of operation, and safeguard the company from its batteries which are unlikely to last 10 years/150,000 miles.

“We haven’t decided yet,” says Mark Perry Nissan’s director of product planning. “From a leasing standpoint the pros are a lot.”

The Volt, however, is designed to pamper the batteries very carefully and will be guaranteed for 10 years/150,000 miles. Over months of speculation the idea of leasing the batteries has occurred to GM too.

I recently had the chance to speak to Ed Peper, before he became former manager of Chevrolet, who explained that the company appears to be moving away from separately leasing the battery from the car.

“All the research that we’ve done says at this point consumers don’t want to separate the two,” he said. “This idea or notion of financing the battery separately from the vehicle, that’s not how people buy things and they don’t really want to do that.”

“No, they want to buy the vehicle,” he said.

There is also the issue of whether consumers could qualify for the $7500 tax credit if the battery isn’t purchased.

Consumers “want a commitment,” said Peper. “They want to buy the Volt and then have the ability to get the $7500 tax credit.”

Finally, asked if GM is leaning away from the separate battery lease idea Peper confirmed “that’s where were leaning towards,” though still cautions “we have not come to that final conclusion yet.”

And yes that’s a close-up photo I shot of the business end of a real Volt pack.

 

Jul 26

Chevy Volt Battery Has Robust Cell Monitoring and Safety Systems

 

Greg Ceisel is the Chevy Volt Program manager and has integral knowledge about the car’s engineering.

He recently shed some light on how the battery pack detects and reacts if there are any problems.

“The reliability of the Chevy Volt and its battery are essential to the success of this technology,” he said. “Our battery design includes multiple computers that run hundreds of tests to monitor the cells and the overall battery to confirm everything is working correctly.”

He explains that all of this testing is continuous and automatic and that the system is designed to respond in case of trouble.

“If any of these tests identify an issue a diagnostic trouble code (DTC) is set to identify the specific issue and an indicator light on the instrument panel will light informing the driver that service is needed,” said Ceisel.

Ceisel also notes GM’s satellite system OnStar can help out both the driver and the mechanic in this situation.

“If the driver wants immediate feedback, OnStar can access these codes to provide more information,” he said. “These codes will also provide the dealer technician with specific information on the repair required.”

He explains how the battery cells are configured both in parallel and series and how the failure of some cells wont take down the car. If need be, the generator can also be used to help out.

“If a diagnostic issue is detected the control system will adapt to use available battery power and, if needed, the gas engine/generator to maintain propulsion until the vehicle can be serviced,” he said.

Source (GM)

 

Jul 24

Chevy Volt Will Continue to Operate Even after Battery Drops Below 50% Capacity

 

Lithium-ion batteries degrade over time. There’s no getting around this fact. GM is going out of its way to pamper the Volt’s pack so as to guarantee up to 40 miles of pure electric range even at 10 years or 150,000 miles of driving. But what happens beyond that?

Most experts believe the Volt’s battery will have anywhere from 50% to 75% of its original capacity after 10 years. Since 8kwh of energy are required to deliver 40 miles of driving, when the battery drops below 8 kwh of storage potential, the range should reduce.

GM’s Director of Hybrids and EVs, Bob Kruse, predicts the Volt will continue to function successfully even after 10 years. “People will continue to use them well after that period of time,” he says. “That’s the beauty of the Voltec system. As the battery begins to age it will eventually have less capacity but it still will provide some capacity and some amount of electric range.”

Asked if the software and controls could dysfunction if there is less than 8kwh of energy left Kruse promises, “the software and the control system will be there to allow the customer to utilize what battery capacity if left.”

I asked him about is whether the system will continue to operate within a 50% band of the now smaller total capacity.

“I’m not going to talk about that because it is highly prized intellectual property,” said Kruse. “That whole notion of how you make this successful, how you use the battery, how you treat the battery, how you charge and discharge it is all central to our promise and how we do that and what we are going to do, as open as we are, I’m not interested in telling my competitors things that I don’t want them to know at this point in time.”

I don’t blame him.

 

Jul 17

GM Volt Battery Assembly Plant Site Chosen

 

It is being reported that General Motors has chosen the site where it will assemble Chevy Volt battery packs. They have not officially announced this but sources indicate a press event is expected within a month.

The Chevy Volt is dependent on its state-of-the-art lithium-ion battery packs for propulsion. The 16 kwh packs are composed of lithium-ion manganese large format cells that are being supplied by LG Chem in Korea. GM had previously announced that it was using its special learning from Volt development to achieve in-house core competency for pack assembly. Besides the cells, the packs are composed of thermal management systems, electronic controls, and proprietary software

GM had previously stated it would eventually choose a location in Michigan within which the packs will be assembled.

According to anonymous GM sources the facility has been chosen. It is an existing building that will be converted into a battery pack factory for $43 million. The facility is the 370-acre Brownstown Business Center industrial park, which is between Sibley and King roads east of Interstate 75 in Brownstown Township Michigan, about 15 miles south of Detroit (see map).

The plant will produce 100 jobs. Most of the pack assembly process will be automated.

LG Chem’s CEO has previously announced it was his company’s intention to eventually build a battery cell production factory in Michigan as well.

And the launch of the Volt moves one step closer.

Source (Detroit News )

 

Jul 03

GM Orders Enough Hitachi Lithium-ion Cells for 100,000 Hybrid Cars

 

Most people here know that GM has contracted with LG Chem to supply large format lithium-ion cells for the Chevy Volt in an agreement that goes out until 2015.

As we have learned from discussions with GM’s battery people, the company continues to work with multiple battery suppliers and is always looking for new cell technology to test.

In early 2008, GM announced that they had committed to purchasing lithium-ion cells from Hitachi Vehicle Energy Ltd., a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Hitachi Ltd. The Japanese company has recently developed very high power density cells that would be particularly good for hybrid applications, where large amounts of energy storage isn’t needed, just the ability to withdraw energy quickly in high power requiring conditions.

GM will be using these cells in their next-generation BAS+ mild hybrid systems that are expected to deliver 20% efficient improvement over the current system, and provide three times the power.

The systems works by providing engine off at stops, brief electric-only propulsion, and a more powerful electric motor to enhance engine efficiency.

By the end of June, GM had sold 8,349 hybrid vehicles in 2009.  Besides the Volt, they obviously have big plans for them in the future.

According to Reuters, the company has placed an order with Hitachi for enough lithium-ion cells to build 100,000 hybrid cars beginning next year.  Each vehicle uses from 30 to 50 cells.

GM sources indicate that this order is for multiple years of production and on a global scale, but nonetheless confirms GM’s belief that gas prices will rise and that consumers will continue to show growing interest in fuel efficient vehicles.

Source (Reuters)