Toyota, Stellantis Announce North American Battery Plants
Automakers Toyota and Stellantis separately announced plans to construct lithium-ion battery plants in North America on Monday. With regulatory pressures mounting, the industry has been shifting its eggs between baskets to avoid trouble. But the ultimate goal for most brands is to transition toward selling EVs, requiring meaningful action and financial expenditures on the part of manufacturers.
We’ve already seen General Motors and Ford Motor Co. squabbling over who will nestle the biggest battery facilities between America’s Frost and Sun Belts. It’s only fitting that the remnants of the Chrysler Corporation contained in Stellantis walk the path of electrification, especially now that it’s absolutely riddled with European influence. Meanwhile, Toyota is predictably exercising a bit of caution as it similarly navigates how to modernize itself via upcoming lithium-ion plants.
South Korean Battery Firms Reach Settlement, Georgia Factory Approved
It looks like the White House won’t be needing to take any action in response to the International Trade Commission’s decision on how to handle the feud between South Korea’s LG Chem and SK Innovation. The duo has reached a settlement that would allow the former battery manufacturer to complete assembly on its $2.6-billion plant located in Georgia.
LG alleged that SK had stolen intellectual property and the ITC was backing punitive measures that would have forbade the latter company from importing certain lithium-ion batteries into the United States under a 10-year exclusion order. While exemptions were made for the components necessary to manufacturer them in the country, the arrangement was tied to SK’s existing orders and limited to just 4 years. The settlement gives SK additional leeway and prevents Joe Biden from having to consider the possibility of blocking the ITC decision as a way of maintaining American jobs.
Tesla: Close to Unlocking One Million Miles Per Battery?
In the realm of electric vehicles, there’s always a major breakthrough in battery technology just over the horizon. Such an event would make the technology more viable, likely improving EV sales to a point of true competitiveness. But the reality is that battery advancements have been incremental, with no earth-shattering advancements to speak of. The chemistry continues to be improved and fine-tuned for automotive applications — gradually lowing charging times while improving overall capacity.
On a long enough timeline, this results in electric vehicles that easily embarrass their gasoline and diesel-dependent ancestors across the board. Unfortunately, we’re living in the present where EVs have shortcomings that frequently offset their greatest attributes.
One of the biggest hurdles is long-term battery life. While some modern-day EV battery packs can last roughly as long as the powertrain in any reputable internal-combustion car, they still degrade over time, becoming progressively less useful. New research has suggested the chemistry necessary for a million-mile, lithium-ion battery has been finalized.
Betting On Green: Poland Plans to Open Largest Battery Factory in Europe
South Korea’s LG Chem is planning to open the largest lithium-ion battery factory in Europe to aide the continent’s automotive industry as it prepares its much-hyped shift toward EV production. According to LG, construction of the battery plant — located in Wrocław, Poland — is set to begin immediately and batteries should be ready for slotting into vehicles before the end of next year.
In a an announcement, the company said the plant would have a production capacity of 100,000 batteries per year for EVs that can run up to 199 miles once charged. Previous estimates were more conservative but, with German automakers promising widespread electrification, LG saw no reason for half measures.
“We will turn the Poland EV battery plant into a mecca of battery production for electric vehicles around the world,” said company president UB Lee. “As LG Chem’s Poland EV battery plant is the first large-scale automotive lithium battery production plant in Europe, it will play the role of vitalizing the electric vehicle industry across the whole of Europe. We will put all our efforts into making the plant into a main production hub for EV batteries.”
Lithium-Ion Pioneer Says New Cell Holds Triple the Power, but Will It Be Good Enough?
One of the factors holding back widespread acceptance of electric vehicles has been the development of battery storage. Until now, there has been nothing analogous for batteries to the computing industry’s Moore’s Law, which has seen integrated circuits become significantly more powerful, faster, and cheaper with each generation. While there have been incremental improvements in energy density — the primary drawback to battery power — a number of promising new battery technologies have not panned out.
Now, a research team headed by John Goodenough, whose 1980 invention of a cobalt-oxide cathode made powerful lithium-ion batteries possible, has announced the development of a solid-state battery cell that not only has the potential (no pun intended) to store three times as much power as a conventional lithium-ion cell, but also replaces the cells’ liquid electrolytes with a glass compound. That would eliminate the fire and explosion hazard known to Li-ion power packs.
Could Beer Power Your Electric Car?
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.
Tesla Crash Shows What Firefighters Deal With When a Battery Pack Catches 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.
British Researchers Make Lighter, Cheaper, Longer Lithium-oxygen Batteries
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.
Fourth-Gen Toyota Prius To Receive AWD, New Battery Packs
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.
Renewable Energy To Power Tesla Gigafactory
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.
Does Dan Akerson Know GM's 200 Mile Range Battery is Vaporware?
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”.
Tesla Awards Panasonic 4-Year $7 Billion Battery Cell Contract Anticipating 500% Increase in Production
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.
First Drive Review: 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid (With Video)
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.
Review: 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid
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.
EV Batteries Set For 70 Percent Price Drop By 2025: McKinsey Study
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.