By on July 3, 2010

Which part of the car of the future can cost more than half of the car, but has a lifespan a little better than a set of brake disks? The battery. No wonder that battery making is what suppliers focus on. If  EVs catch on, you want to be in the battery business. Toshiba and Mitsubishi Motors have ganged-up to produce batteries together, says The Nikkei [sub].

For a year, Toshiba and Mitsubishi have been tinkering with a ‘super-charge ion battery’, or SCiB, which promises long life and fast recharging speed. Now they seem to be ready for a more formal arrangement. Several other companies have been or will be cementing similar battery-driven alliances.

Toshiba wants to produce SCiB batteries at their Kashiwazaki plant in Japan. On Friday,he Nikkei reported that Toshiba will supply lithium ion batteries for an electric vehicle that Mitsubishi Motors plans to roll out in the near future. The newspaper also said that PSA is interested to buy Toshiba batteries together with Mitsubishi Motors.

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8 Comments on “Batteries Lead To Marriage...”

  • avatar

    I’d swear I’ve read that the batteries in the Toyota Prius were giving 100k+ miles worth of life. Though I don’t doubt that if electric cars become mainstream we’ll see the usual cheap bastard Big Corp products, engineered to last only as long as they feel they can get away with.

    • 0 avatar

      1. This is a combustion-engined car (Apple, fruit, not company)

      2. This is a theoretical production Electric Vehicle (Orange)

      3. This is a Hybrid (Pomegranate)

      You can’t compare them, you just can’t.

      Does the Prius get 100k of trouble-free ALL ELECTRIC MODE transportation all the way up to 70 mph (freeway speeds)? Uh, no.

      The Prius, like any regenerative braking hybrid, uses subtraction of momentum to generate electric current to recover energy (recharge the battery) in stop-and-go driving.

      Electric mode is only in operation up to about 25mph, then the ‘filthy’ combustion engine kicks in. It’s programmed this way for a reason, the electric motors are not efficient much above those speeds. You would greatly shorten the life of (destroy) your high-four-figure-priced battery pack.

      If you do some CURSORY reading on electric vehicles you’ll see that batteries are heavy, expensive, and you wear them out by draining them below 40-60% of full charge.

      The Prius endeavors to keep its batteries topped off as much as possible.

      It’s like your AA rechargable batteries in your digital camera will break if you run them below 50% charge too many times. So what you would do to extend your batteries’ lives is you only take pictures sparingly, or until the battery charge indicator on your camera says 50%. Then you swap new ones in or get them in that charger FAST.

      100,000 miles figure is completely misleading. What are the Prius’ 1/4 mi acceleration and speed times? What is normal acceleration distance or time to the combustion engine kicking in? So of those 100k, (guessing!) maybe 1/10 of a mile from each launch is spent in electric mode using the batteries.

    • 0 avatar

      The Prius (and all hybrids) also endeavors to basically baby its battery.

      “Full” isn’t really full, it’s more like 3/4 full (better longevity by recharging it only most of the way full instead of topping it off by stuffing the last few trons in there), “empty” isn’t really empty, more like 1/4 (same reason). The battery is freakin’ air conditioned too!

      If the battery is too cold or too hot, the computer waits until the temperature gets closer to the ideal range.

      How about a pure electric car that quits when the battery is still 1/4 full. Sorry, get out and walk the last 10-20 miles… this is for your own good because it will keep the battery from wearing out at 50,000 miles. You just coasted down a big hill and took advantage of all that regenerative braking to recharge your battery? Well sorry x2. The battery wasn’t really full but it’s full enough. Also, recharging makes batteries get seriously hot- including your battery. So in the next few minutes it has to cool off. To do that the computer will only let you use about half the normal battery power. That’s gonna have to take a big hit in acceleration and speed… hope the next stretch of road after that big downhill didn’t just lead to the start of a big uphill.

      None of this makes electric cars impossible, it’s just the reality that the carmakers have to deal with.

      It took a hundred years to make powerful AND economical AND clean cars we enjoy nowadays. Electric cars can evolve too… eventually.

    • 0 avatar
      Greg Locock

      JimC is on the right track – but the Prius is even more careful. If you don’t play silly buggers and just leave the car to work out what it wants to do, it’ll only use 20% of the already tiny capacity of its battery.

      There are tricks you can do to increase that percentage, but the gais in fuel consumption are slight, the reduction in battery life significant.
      Needless to say the THD logs any silliness, so people who hammer their batteries may get a rude shock when they claim their free battery.

      One nice side effect of this is that the gradual degradation in charge holding of the battery has no real world effect on mpg.

      The Volt will only use 60% of its battery capacity, presumable for the same sort of reason. That is, ‘fully’ charged leaves a 15% headroom, and the engine switches on at around 25% capacity left, and then keeps the battery between 25 and 35% full.

  • avatar

    If batteries are the business to be in, they why has A123 Systems, Inc. (ticker: AONE) tanked this year after their IPO and government subsudies to develop and manufacturer car batteries? This should have been a much stronger play (and stock) then Tesla.


  • avatar

    I am sure that in the early days of the auto industry, when steam, gasoline, and electric cars were still duking it out, the electric-car guys were saying “If we could only get a good battery we could sell millions of these things.” Well, what’s changed now?

    The electric cars got left behind even though the electric starter hadn’t been invented yet, and folks had to hand-crank their Model T’s. The chemistry of batteries has been and will be more complicated and expensive in terms of operating conditions, inputs, and outputs, than the chemistry of internal combustion.

  • avatar
    M 1

    Nitpicking, I know, but rather a poor intro, considering “brake disks” (which actual car-people call “rotors”) often outlive the rest of vehicle…

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