Editor’s Note: On Monday, TTAC’s Martin Schwoerer wrote about a planned record-breaking non-stop run of 600 KMs, from Munich to Berlin, with a car that was equipped with a “revolutionary” electric battery system. Something smells funny, he said, and vowed to donate 100 Euros in case the drive was completed. Well, it was. So, how does it feel to have pie on your face?
How about Vegetarians Against the klan? Or maybe the Tugg Speedman Foundation? No, there are probably better organisations to give my money to. Guess I’ll ask the Best & Brightest…
The Battery Geniuses drove the 600 clicks fair and square (a notary public opted out at the last minute, but I don’t want to be a sore loser). The press is unanimous that we can talk about a Miracle of Berlin.
So one doesn’t want to welch out. On the other hand there is an tedious matter of journalistic responsibility: perhaps a wee bit of research, first?
I checked the website of DBM, the maker of the “revolutionary” battery which they call “Kolibri”. (Kolibri doesn’t stand for anything, it seems — it’s just German for “hummingbird”, which is nice, but I would have preferred a puppy, or a bear cub). Their website looks home-made and doesn’t offer any details about the battery, other than it is a Lithium Polymer-type battery, and that they are selling an explanatory book for … €249.00 Euros.
I call their press guy, the line is busy, and remains busy the next ten times I call. I send an email asking for an interview. (No reply to date).
How about alternative media? I check out the forum of Spiegel Online — normally an unsavory, miserablist place, but quite good for mythbusting. Here’s what they say:
* “I’m waiting for a caveat, like the batteries will cost one million Euros a piece, or something.”
* “500,000 KM lifespan. 100 kilos weight. 20 minutes to charge. This battery is literally too good to be true.”
* “He’s pulling a fast one: the boss of DBM, Mirko Hannemann, says “the technology works and is ready for production”. Huh? A revolutionary product that is ready for production? Things don’t work that way”.
* “LiPo is not really new, and it’s not really safe, either. The cell’s membranes like to collapse, which causes a nice little fire, like the one in May at a place that used a DBM battery on a fork lift. A local fire department found it hard to extinguish”
* “Another website was threatened with legal measures by Hannemann when it wrote about the fire — even though the article was just a re-hashing of a police report “
And then I found a fascinating link to a proper nerd’s forum.
“I can kid myself (and don’t need a battery “company” to do it).
Since the media isn’t doing its job, I did some research on my own.”
Here’s the gist of what Pastmaster posted:
DBM Energy GmbH is a mailbox company.
DBM’s website states as contact a non-registered entity named DBM Headquarters, which is located in a smallish office building. In that office building, there are several small-sounding firms such as a long-term storage company, a fire-extinguisher company, and a “battery-service” company.
Google DBM and you find exactly two hits. One refers to DBM having won an “Innovation Award of Reason”. Nobody’s heard of that, either.
So, dear Best and Brightest: you’re the jury. What should I do? Pay the €100, or continue to dig?