Tag: batteries

By on February 20, 2013

The drama circling around the New York Times test of the Tesla Model S doesn’t surprise me one bit. Why? Because I understand, perhaps at a deeper level than most of the motoring press, how batteries work. Perhaps that has to do with growing up in a family of engineers and scientists, but battery technology has always interested me. So when people from Phoenix came to me crying in their soup about their LEAFs in the heat and friends started wagging fingers at Tesla and the New York Times, I figured it was time for a battery reality check.

(Read More…)

By on August 17, 2012

U.S. Senators long have warned of an exodus of American know-how to China. Last year, Michigan Senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin complained to United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk about another attempt by China ”to illegally gain an unfair advantage over the U.S. automobile industry that will cost our country jobs. The United States must respond strongly to stand up for American businesses and working families.”

A year later, the exodus is in full swing, and it starts to hurt. This time, it pains automakers to see how Chinese companies are getting their hands on taxpayer-funded secrets. (Read More…)

By on August 10, 2012

In his 2012 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama said this to critics of his lavish green technology initiative:

“I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany because we refuse to make the same commitment here. “

Instead, battery manufacturers first get financed by double-green government handouts, then they are ceded. (Read More…)

By on August 8, 2012

Troubled battery maker A123 is getting another lifeline. This time, from China. Wanxiang Group  will invest as much as $450 million in the company, says Reuters. Wanxiang, one of the largest Chinese auto component makers.  A123 will soon be Chinese. (Read More…)

By on July 7, 2012

 

The irrational electrification exuberance  claims another victim: Battery maker A123 Systems Inc is running out of money. A lot of it is your money. Says Reuters: (Read More…)

By on April 30, 2012

With a rising yen and forecasted sales of 200,000 units, Toyota is looking to kick Prius production into high gear on North American shores.

(Read More…)

By on April 12, 2012

More details have been released about the explosion at a GM Tech Center battery lab yesterday that left one person hospitalized with chemical burns and a possible concussion. In a statement, GM said that while an “experimental battery” was undergoing “extreme testing”, gases were released from the battery cells. Something in the lab then ignited the gases and the subsequent explosion was severe enough to cause structural damage, blowing out windows and forcing open fortified doors. The battery itself was left intact. The Detroit News, according to an unnamed source, reports that prototype lithium-ion battery was made by A123, and that explosion happened during “intensive tests designed to make it fail”. The Warren, Michigan fire commissioner said that the lab was designed with safety in mind so damage was confined to the one laboratory. Though some of the 80 workers in the building were sent home for the day after the explosion, others continued to work. The 63,000 sq ft Global Battery Systems Lab has 176 test cells as well as 49 thermal chambers, where GM tests both production and prototype batteries. A HAZMAT team was dispatched to the facility, as were OSHA and MIOSHA inspectors, because of the injuries.

GM stressed that the incident was not related to the Chevrolet Volt or any other production vehicle. Since the electric version of the Chevy Spark won’t go into production until next year, the battery involved in the explosion might be a developmental version of the batteries A123 will be supplying for that project. It also might be a completely experimental prototype.

By on March 27, 2012

Last December, Toyota and BMW announced “a long-term technological partnership.”  Ostensibly, it was about developing batteries together, and about BMW supplying diesel engines, in that order. Four months later, the priorities seem to have changed a little. (Read More…)

By on December 27, 2011

In the ramp-up to the launch of the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf, a great debate seized the engineering community: was Nissan opening itself to problems by not including a active thermal management system for the Leaf’s battery pack, or was Chevrolet’s liquid-cooled approach simply adding unnecessary complexity? Well, thus far, the verdict seems to be in Nissan’s favor. Though Leaf has been troubled by some dissatisfaction with its real-world range, the Volt has endurd the first technical semi-scandal of the plug-in era, when federal regulators found that ruptured coolant lines could cause fires. Now the liquid-cooled approach is hitting its second challenge, as Fisker’s battery supplier A123 Systems is warning in a letter [PDF] that

some of the battery packs we produce for Fisker Automotive could have a potential safety issue relating to the battery cooling system.

Ruh-roh!
(Read More…)

By on November 30, 2011

TTAC has received the following protocol, developed by GM in the wake of the June Volt fire at a NHTSA facility in Wisconsin, from a GM source and has confirmed its legitimacy with a second GM source. Though the procedure may be refined based on the findings of NHTSA’s latest round of tests, it gives a good picture of what GM currently does to ensure the safety of Volt driver and passengers as well as rescue workers, towing company workers and salvage yards. And, I have to say, it puts some of my fears about this safety scare to rest. It hadn’t occurred to me that GM’s Onstar system could provide opportunities to respond to crashes in real time, and apparently the system provides a wide variety of data with which GM’s “corporate SWAT team” can tailor its response to any Volt crash event. Hit the jump for the full procedure.

(Read More…)

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