Daimler Sues Cobasys; Mercedes ML Hybrid Delayed or Cancelled

daimler sues cobasys mercedes ml hybrid delayed or cancelled

Information Week reports that Cobasys can't make shipments of NiMh batteries to Daimler. The battery firm, a joint venture between Chevron and Energy Conversion Devices (ECD), lost $76m in 2007. The owners mixed like oil and water. Both "partners" are keen to foist the money-loser on someone else. Daimler's filing a lawsuit (or two) against Cobasys accusing Chevron, ECD and Cobasys of conspiring to keep the plan to bail a secret from Mercedes officials– so that the automaker wouldn't pull the battery deal. Daimler also alleges that Cobasys hadn't begun production on its $6m NiMh contract "in case new owners don't want the contract." And so… "Without a reliable source for this critical part, (we) will be unable to produce the hybrid vehicle in accordance with its scheduled launch date, and will likely be forced to either cancel the vehicle entirely, or delay the launch for an extended period in order to identify and develop a substitute battery, and to redesign other portions of the vehicle to accommodate it." Ouch. Meanwhile, we are still anxiously waiting to hear if rumors of a Cobasys sale to GM were correct or not. After this debacle, with GM's cash flow issues, we can only hope the answer is not.

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  • Blunozer Blunozer on Aug 06, 2008

    Wow, I'm sure those three people demanding ML hybrids are pissed.

  • Shaker Shaker on Aug 07, 2008

    Makes me wonder how long Exxon/Mobil will hold back Li-Ion technology, as they've been bragging about developing a superior insulating polymer in their TV ads of late...

  • Brett Woods Brett Woods on Sep 19, 2008

    It is not the X-files. It is true and easily researched. During the development of the EV1 in the 1990s, General Motors made a controlling investment in Ovonics\Cobasys, the original U.S. Large format battery developer and manufacturer. That company manufactured large versions of the Lap Top – Cell phone type nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery. GM sold its controlling interest in Ovonics\Cobasys to Texaco Oil which later merged with Chevron. Chevron has patented the Large Format NiMH battery idea and sat on it. They refused to produce one or let anyone else produce one. Panasonic Corp. began to make a Large Format NiMH battery for the Toyota Rav 4. It worked well, and those cars still run but there are no replacement batteries and no further supply for consumer cars. Panasonic was sued by Chevron and had to close its car battery production. Now Cobasys\Chevron, refuse to sell to Mercedes Benz, effectively stalling MB electric car production. To produce a Large size NiMH battery without violating Chevron patent, autos must be powered by at least 50% gasoline, otherwise they are limited to the use of small D size cells.

  • KDB-GENEVA KDB-GENEVA on Oct 18, 2008

    Mercedes may be disappointed recalling that they have supported and financed over nearly 20 years the pioneering work on the high energy storage battery NiMH at the Battelle Geneva R&D Center (Switzerland) where the basic invention of this battery type was made in 1967. Mercedes acquired from Battelle all the basic patent rights but diminished and finally discontinued the R&D efforts in the nineties. They decided in the eighties not to oppose their rights to the many upcoming patents from further NiMH developments, including the ECD patents, expecting that ECD's improved technology lateron Cobasys) would bring this revolutionary battery type to commercial success and becoming a reliable supplyer. The NiMH success was finally realized in the Toyota Hybrid PRIUS and a few other cars and the large overtake of the world consumer battery market replacing the Ni-Cd batteries. The present dispute situation does not help the further commercial use and expansion of NiMH batteries in hybrid cars against the upcoming Li-ion system. Their producers make much publicity often using "blue-sky" performance figures, although Li-ion has significant drawbacks compared to NiMH, especially cost and lifetime performance. It is well known in the history of technology that not the technical best system always gets in the longterm the banner of succes but often that one with the best marketing approach and optimal technology implication. KDB /Battelle Geneva R&D Center

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