By on November 21, 2016

Batteries from Beer University of Colorado Boulder

It sounds like a car guy’s fantasy, using beer to power a car.

And it still is fantasy, unfortunately.

However, a couple of researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have filed for a patent on a method to use the byproduct of the brewing process to create anodes for lithium-ion batteries, the power source for most electric cars. (Read More…)

By on November 3, 2016

Tesla fire

A severe head-on crash in Indianapolis last night claimed the lives of two people — but because it’s a Tesla, the story made national news.

According to the Indianapolis Star, the Model S impacted a tree, throwing debris 150 yards and starting a fire that consumed the vehicle. This isn’t a story about whether the vehicle or its electronic systems may have caused the crash — police made it clear that speed was a factor.

Rather, the aftermath of this crash shows what firefighters face when the lithium-ion battery pack in an electric car catches fire. (Read More…)

By on November 1, 2015

Lithium air battery

Researchers at the University of Cambridge say they’ve created a lighter, cheaper, longer lithium-oxygen battery that could eventually rival gasoline engines in electric vehicles in terms of range and weight, Automotive News reported.

The scientists announced that they had created a working prototype of an “ultimate battery” that could be up to 10 times more energy-dense than lithium-ion batteries. They said the battery, to date, could be recharged more than 2,000 times.

The lithium-oxygen batteries could eventually replace lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles and offer a range similar to gasoline engines, but researchers say that could be more than a decade away.   (Read More…)

By on July 15, 2014

2014 Toyota Prius

Though it may be a while before the fourth-generation Toyota Prius leaves the assembly line, it may be worth the wait as far as batteries and drivetrains are concerned.

(Read More…)

By on February 24, 2014

tesla-model-s-logo

Sometime this week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk will announce everything there is to know about the EV automaker’s Gigafactory, from location and price tag, to its heavy reliance on renewable energy sources.

(Read More…)

By on December 23, 2013

Envia-400whk-battery_1

The hagiographic article by Bloomberg/Business Week on outgoing General Motors CEO Dan Akerson did exactly what Selim Bingol and the other PR honchos in the RenCen towers wanted it to do. With other news agencies and blogs amplifying the puffery and pulling quotes, the article got GM and Akerson a lot of good press. One of the quotes that got pulled the most was Akerson’s reference to a “moon shot” project giving GM’s next generation extended range electric vehicle a 200 mile range on battery power, based on breakthroughs in battery technology. It may be more of a moon shot than Akerson let on, since GM has cancelled its contract with that battery’s likely supplier, accusing it of “material misrepresentation”. (Read More…)

By on October 31, 2013

 

 

Tesla Motors has used exclusively Panasonic lithium ion battery cells since it started selling electric cars.

Tesla Motors has used exclusively Panasonic lithium ion battery cells since it started selling electric cars. 2010 photo.

Panasonic Corp., which already is the largest supplier of lithium ion batteries for the electric car industry, has announced that it has signed a new contract with Tesla to supply battery cells for the Model S and upcoming Model X electric vehicles. The Japanese company will supply 2 billion 18650 form factor lithium-ion cells worth up to $7 billion over the next four years. Panasonic has been Tesla’s exclusive supplier of battery cells since it started selling its first EV, the Tesla Roadster. (Read More…)

By on October 9, 2013

2014 Honda Accord Hybrid Exterior-007

As of October, the most fuel-efficient mid-sized sedan in America is the Honda Accord. Or so Honda says. After all, Ford has been trumpeting a matching 47 MPG combined from their Fusion. Who is right? And more importantly, can the Accord get Honda back into the hybrid game after having lost the initial hybrid battles with their maligned Integrated Motor Assist system? Honda invited us to sample the 2014 Accord Hybrid as well as a smorgasbord of competitive products to find out.

(Read More…)

By on September 2, 2012

Public beta tests are common in the computer world where a group of fanatics pound your beta to death and help you find the problems. In the automotive world this activity is not only rare, it runs contrary to the cash spent on dressing future cars in swirly vinyl. The Prius plug-in is different. Toyota built 600 demonstrators and sent them to large corporations, Zipcar fleets and, of course the press. Even TTAC was allowed to drive one for a week. What does that have to do with the final product? And how does it stack up against the Volt, Plug-in Fusion and the 2013 Accord Plug-in? Let’s find out.

(Read More…)

By on July 12, 2012

A study by consulting firm McKinsey says that the cost of the lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles could tumble by as much as 70 percent by 2025, thanks to a combination of factors.

(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 11, 2012

Two GM employees suffered injuries at the company’s Warren, Michigan battery research facility following an explosion and a small fire. Emergency crews were called to the scene at 8:45 A.M Wednesday, and found a small fire as well as two injured employees.

(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…)

By on November 29, 2011

With NHTSA opening a formal defect investigation into the Chevy Volt, GM is moving to defend its rolling lightning rod (no pun intended) and allay consumer fears about its safety. Yesterday I briefly appeared on Fox Business’s Your World With Neil Cavuto show to talk about what the intro to my segment referred to as “the hybrid from hell” and the “killer in your garage.” I tried to explain that the danger to consumers was basically nil, and that the real concern is for rescue, towing and salvage workers. And I would have explained why NHTSA’s tests still leave some serious questions open, but my “fair and balanced” approach meant that my segment ended up being extremely short. So let’s take the opportunity now to look past the hysteria and pinpoint the real issues with NHTSA’s investigation into the Volt.

(Read More…)

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