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Friday, November 21, 2014

Korean Companies Taking Lead in EV Battery Market

An increasing number of carmakers such as Nissan and Daimler are opting for Korean battery manufacturers’ products instead of doing the lithium-ion secondary battery business on their own. The trend is expected to be a boon for LG Chem, Samsung SDI, and SK Innovation in the fledgling eco-friendly car battery market.

The only German factory that produces battery cells for electric cars is closing. Within little more than one year, the company Li-Tec in Saxon Kamenz, will cease manufacture of battery cells. The company is a subsidiary of the Daimler Group.

The Li-Tec factory will close December 2015 but will be retained as a research location; the majority of the 280 employees will be transferred to the Deutsche Accumotive—also a wholly owned Daimler subsidiary—which manufactures battery packs. Accumotive is currently expanding its production capacity to build systems for the next generation of the electric smart among others. Cells are slated to come from LG Chem.

“Nissan has purchased EV batteries from AESC since 2009, but will diversify the supply sources to LG Chem and many more,” Renault Nissan Alliance Chairman Carlos Ghosn said in September. It is said that AESC’s products are approximately 15 percent more expensive than those of LG Chem.

These decisions come about because it is difficult for a company to realize the economy of scale and achieve price competitiveness on its own in the eco-friendly vehicle market. Battery manufacturers that have produced small batteries for use in smartphones and the like have more advanced technological strength, too. It is in this context that Hyundai Motor Company, Kia Motors, and BMW have procured battery cells from external sources from the get go.

At present, LG Chem’s customers include not only Hyundai and Kia but also about 20 automakers such as GM and Ford. Samsung SDI has done business with about 10, including BMW, as well. SK Innovation, which started relatively late, has supplied batteries for Kia Motors’ Soul EV, and set up a joint venture in China with the Beijing Automotive Group. The EV battery market is estimated to grow to US$11.9 billion by 2018.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

ELMOFO enter final round of the 2014 Australian eFXC Superbike Race Series

ELMOFO will have an entry in the last round of the 2014 Australian eFXC Superbike Race Series this weekend in the form of a recently purchased Brammo Empulse TTX.

This particular bike has enjoyed a lot of success in the US in the hands of Eric Bostrom. The ELMOFO team will have local pro-rider Simon Galloway to race the bike in an effort to promote Brammo production bikes in Australia.

There should be a good mix of bikes at the final round at Eastern Creek including some modified production along with some super-high-powered privately built bikes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

SUBARU VIZIV GT Vision Wheel-Motor powered series hybrid concept [VIDEO]

Subaru has revealed the digital-only Viziv GT Vision Gran Turismo, which will find its way into the Gran Turismo 6 on the PlayStation 3 video game system . It takes up the mantle from the Viziv Concept that debuted at the Tokyo motor show last year.

The virtual Viziv GT is powered (virtually) by a 2-liter boxer four featuring both direct injection and turbocharging to the tune of 591 imaginary horsepower.

The Viziv GT has all wheel drive with little lights over each fender that light up when the axle is receiving torque vectoring courtesy of three electric motors, one up front and two in the rear. Subaru compares it to their iconic "Symmetrical AWD" in an attempt to link it to their road-going cars, but this is a hybrid system unlike anything the company has previously worked on.

“By independently controlling each of the motor outputs, turning ability while cornering is drastically improved, while the torque vectoring lamps built into the fenders visualize its movement, Thus, as with any other Subaru, the car is made controllable for anyone driving the car, regardless of its extremely high performance levels.”

Maybe it's where the company is headed? Mitsubishi is already going down that road. Perhaps this is a sneak peek at a hybridized, CUV-like future for the iconic WRX and STI. Or it could just be a digital flight of fancy, which of course it is.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Next Generation GS Yuasa lithium-ion battery triples energy density

GS Yuasa Corp. said Monday it has developed a next-generation lithium-ion battery with three times the capacity of existing products.

The battery uses sulfur as a key material for the positive electrode. The Kyoto-based company now aims to improve the durability of the silicon-based negative electrode, so it can commercialize the next-generation lithium-ion battery by 2020.

Sulfur is harmless to humans, cheap and found in abundance in nature. But it does not conduct electricity, making it difficult to obtain strong electric output from batteries using sulfur-based electrodes.

GS Yuasa succeeded in discharging the high-capacity battery by filling sulfur into small holes on carbon rods in order to make the element conductive, the company said.

“This battery can be manufactured at a lower cost,” said Shuji Hitomi, group manager at GS Yuasa’s research and development center. “If it is used in a car, the range (without recharging) would be greatly increased.”

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Germany exits EV Battery Cell Manufacture Business

The only German factory that produces battery cells for electric cars is closing. Within little more than one year, the company Li-Tec in Saxon Kamenz, will cease manufacture of battery cells. The company is a subsidiary of the Daimler Group.

"Our cells are very good, but at current production figures too expensive", the Daimler-manager Harald Kröger justified the closure in an interview with SPIEGEL. Last week, Daimler had 250 employees internally announced the end of the factory, more than half should be able to remain in the group. Only mass production makes such factories profitable. Therefore, it was part of the Daimler-calculus that other auto companies participate and would leave produce in Kamenz cells for their e-Mobile. But the partners did not materialize.

Now the company changes its strategy. "We have realised that a car manufacturer does not have to produce the cells themselves," says Kroeger.

The Li-Tec factory will close December 2015 but will be retained as a research location; the majority of the 280 employees will be transferred to the Deutsche Accumotive—also a wholly owned Daimler subsidiary—which manufactures battery packs. Accumotive is currently expanding its production capacity to build systems for the next generation of the electric smart among others. Cells are slated to come from LG Chem.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

VW Chairman thinks solid-state batteries can deliver 700 km range

Following persistent news leaks from 'highly placed insiders' about an all-electric version of Audi's upcoming Q8 sports SUV with 700 km battery range, VW Chairman Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn has hinted at the battery technology Audi may use to achieve that range.

In a speech at Stanford University, during the award of the 3rd Science Award for Electrochemistry, Dr Winterkorn said he sees great potential in solid-state batteries.

"Increasing the specific energy of lithium-ion cells to as much as 380 Wh/l will reduce driving range drawbacks.

With a higher nickel content, much more will be feasible.

But we also need to intensify basic research into batteries with an even greater specific energy, such as solid-state batteries.

I see great potential in this new technology, possibly boosting the range to as much as 700 kilometers (1,000 Wh/l)."

In March we reported that VW were bench testing new battery chemistry capable of providing "between three and four times the power" from a given capacity. This would mean up to 80kWh from a similar volume occupied by the current Golf Blue-e-motion's 26.5kWh battery pack.

Dr Heinz-Jakob Neusser, VW board member responsible for development, speaking at the Geneva motor show, refused to name the battery chemistry, but disn’t deny it was a lithium-air unit, which are capable of delivering huge amounts of power, but are in the very early stages of development.

Given Dr Winterkorn's statement that current energy density with lithium-ion batteries, which allow a range of 190 kilometers, is 260 Wh/l and in the same speech he references solid-state batteries @ 1,000 wh/l, a 4x increase, I think it becomes clear this is the chemistry VW are bench testing.

The Science Award Electrochemistry was initiated by BASF and Volkswagen in 2012. The aim being to foster exceptional scientific and engineering achievements in electrochemistry and to provide an incentive for the development of high-performance energy storage.

The 700 km battery powered Audi Q8 is expected around 2017.

Source: VW

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

LG Chem officially breaks ground for China EV battery plant

LG Chem held a ground breaking ceremony for the construction of electric-car battery plant in Nanjing, China, to meet growing demand in the world’s biggest car market.

The Nanjing battery plant, with an annual production capacity of more than 100,000 electric vehicles when completed by the end of 2015, will supply batteries to Chinese automakers like SAIC Motor Corp, Qoros and many other global carmakers in China. It was 'only' 7 months ago LG Chem's CEO said they were "considering" this EV plant in China!!

Among the key participants who joined the groundbreaking ceremony were Miao Rui Lin, the Mayor of Nanjing; Luo Qun, the vice mayor; and YS Kwon, the President of Energy Solution Company of LG Chem.

LG Chem set up a joint venture in August with two Chinese state-run companies - Nanjing Zijin Technology Incubation Special Park Construction Development Co, Ltd. and Nanjing New Industrial Investment Group Ltd. - to start manufacturing EV batteries in China. LG Chem owns half of the joint venture while the other half is shared by Chinese partners.

The Korean battery giant said it has been investing hundreds of millions of dollars into the factory and expects a total of 1 trillion won (AUD$1 Billion) in revenue by 2020, just by the batteries produced in Nanjing.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

BMW likely to phase out internal combustion engines over the next 10 years [VIDEO]

During a recent interview with , mutual fund manager Ron Baron of Baron Capital revealed that two of his analysts recently visited BMW in Germany and the BMW financial team believes that a "revolution in the drive train is underway."

"We believe that BMW will likely phase out internal combustion engines over the next 10 years,"
Baron wrote in his most recent quarterly letter to shareholders of his funds.

Almost exactly 12 months ago, BMW product chief Herbert Diess told Autocar "all BMW models will soon need to be sold with some form of electrification." BMW’s head of production for large vehicles, Peter Wolf, told “We are planning to have a plug-in hybrid in each and every model series.”

We have also regularly reported on a steady stream on informal announcements from German automakers (Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche) regarding their plans to build a 'Tesla killer', but Wall Street financial analysts concluding a major automaker may abandon the production of ICE power plants within a decade still comes as a revelation. It was only four years ago (December 2010) the first mass market electric vehicle, the Nissan Leaf, began deliveries to retail customers.

Baron, who holds a $250 Million position in Tesla Motors, believes that of all the major automakers, BMW is the only car company with a 'culture' comparable to that of Tesla. Baron believes the rest of the auto industry is resisting the move to electric vehicles. "As a result, they are developing electric expertise so slowly that the lead Tesla has built up through its fast growing staff ... may soon become insurmountable."

He argues automakers don't want electric vehicles to happen because their engine and transmission plants would become stranded assets. Unions don't want EVs to happen because they are easier to assemble which results in fewer jobs and dealers don't want EVs to happen because of direct sales and lack of vehicle servicing. Electric cars have 18 moving parts compared to 2,000 moving parts in a combustion engined car. EVs simply don't wear out or breakdown leading to lost automaker/dealer revenues.

With global auto sales heading towards 100 Million a year, Baron believes that in 15 years time Tesla could be selling 10 Million vehicles a year.

Source: CNBC

Friday, November 7, 2014

Supercapacitor panel-powered EVs a ‘reality’ in 5 years say QUT researchers

A car partly powered by its own body panels could be on our roads within five years following the development of breakthrough nanotechnology by Queensland’s University of Technology.

Researchers at QUT have succeeded in developing lightweight ‘supercapacitors’ that they say can be combined with regular batteries to dramatically boost the power of an electric car.

The supercapacitors – described as a ‘sandwich’ of electrolyte between two all-carbon electrodes - were made by the research team into a thin and extremely strong film with a high power density.

The development means that the film could one day be embedded in a car’s body panels, roof, doors, bonnet and floor - storing enough energy to turbocharge an electric car’s battery in just a few minutes.

The findings, published in the Journal of Power Sources and the Nanotechnology journal, are the result of the work of the team comprising Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr Jinzhang Liu, Professor Nunzio Motta and PhD researcher Marco Notarianni from QUT’s Science and Engineering faculty – Institute for Future Environments, and PhD researcher Francesca Mirri and Professor Matteo Pasquali, from Rice University in Houston in the United States.

According to Marco Notarianni, the car partly powered by its own body panels could be a reality in the next five years.

“Vehicles need an extra energy spurt for acceleration, and this is where supercapacitors come in. They hold a limited amount of charge, but they are able to deliver it very quickly, making them the perfect complement to mass-storage batteries.

“Supercapacitors offer a high power output in a short time, meaning a faster acceleration rate of the car and a charging time of just a few minutes, compared to several hours for a standard electric car battery.”

Dr Liu says one of these cars, after one full charge, should be able to run up to 500km – “similar to a petrol-powered car and more than double the current limit of an electric car."

According to Dr Liu, currently the ‘energy density’ of a supercapacitor is lower than a standard lithium ion (Li-Ion) battery, but its ‘high power density’, or ability to release power in a short time, is far beyond a conventional battery.

“Supercapacitors are presently combined with standard Li-Ion batteries to power electric cars, with a substantial weight reduction and increase in performance.

“In the future, it is hoped the supercapacitor will be developed to store more energy than a Li-Ion battery while retaining the ability to release its energy up to 10 times faster – meaning the car could be entirely powered by the supercapacitors in its body panels.”

Dr Liu says the technology would also potentially be used for rapid charges of other battery-powered devices.

“For example, by putting the film on the back of a smart phone to charge it extremely quickly.”

Another member of the research team, Professor Nunzio Motta, says the technology discovery may be a game-changer for the automotive industry, with significant impacts on financial, as well as environmental factors.

“We are using cheap carbon materials to make supercapacitors and the price of industry scale production will be low.

“The price of Li-Ion batteries cannot decrease a lot because the price of Lithium remains high. This technique does not rely on metals and other toxic materials either, so it is environmentally friendly if it needs to be disposed of.”

The QUT researchers who made this discovery are part of the university’s Battery Interest Group, a cross-faculty group that aims to engage industry with battery-related research.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Tesla delays Model X and stock jumps 5%

Tesla Motors on Wednesday announced that its Model X crossover utility vehicle would not be available until the second half of 2015. The model had previously been slated for a 2013 launch.

The Palo Alto, California-based company also reported a loss of $74.7 million in its third quarter. Tesla said it had a loss of $0.60 per share. Earnings, adjusted for stock option expense and non-recurring costs, were $0.02 per share.

The results topped Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was break even on a per-share basis. As a result, Tesla's stock price was up more than 5% in after-hours trading on Wednesday.

The electric car maker posted revenue of $851.8 million in the period, falling short of Street forecasts. Analysts expected $867.7 million, according to Zacks.

Tesla shares have risen 54% since the beginning of the year. In the final minutes of trading on Wednesday, shares hit $230.97, a rise of 31% in the last 12 months.