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Old 01-11-2007, 01:05 AM   #1
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U.S. automakers request government welfare handouts for battery research

How much more pathetic can the big 3 automakers get? The U.S. automakers are asking for more welfare handouts, this time to supposedly develop a battery suitable for plug-in hybrids.

You know what's funny about all of this?

The U.S. automakers were given $220 million in the 1990s the develop 80 mpg midsize cars. Here were the results:

Ford Prodigy

Fuel Economy: 72 mpg
Top Speed: 80 mph (electronically limited)
0-60 mph: 12 seconds
Horsepower: 121
Drag Coefficient: .20
Curb Weight: 2,387 lbs
Seating Capacity: 5 adults
Classification: Midsize
Powertrain: 1.2L L4 turbodiesel coupled with an electric drive

GM Precept

Fuel Economy: 80 mpg
Top Speed: 85 mph (electronically limited)
0-60 mph: 11.5 seconds
Horsepower: 100
Drag Coefficient: .16
Curb Weight: 2,593 lbs
Seating Capacity: 5 adults
Classification: Midsize
Powertrain: 1.3L L3 turbodiesel coupled with an electric drive

Dodge Intrepid ESX3

Fuel Economy: 72 mpg
Top Speed: 90 mph (electronically limited)
0-60 mph: 11 seconds
Horsepower: ---
Drag Coefficient: .22
Curb Weight: 2,250 lbs
Seating Capacity: 5 adults
Classification: Midsize
Powertrain: 1.47L L4 turbodiesel coupled with an electric drive

A typical midsize sedan sold in the U.S. today has roughly the following specs:

Fuel Economy: 26 mpg
Top Speed: 115 mph
0-60 mph: 11 seconds
Horsepower: 165
Drag Coefficient: .34
Curb Weight: 3,300 lbs
Seating Capacity: 5 adults
Classification: Midsize
Powertrain: 2.5L V6 fueled by gasoline

So the big 3 developed the 80 mpg cars that could seat a family of 5 and accelerate like the cars of today. The cars worked. They would have been cost competitive with the cars available at the time if they were mass produced. Guess what? The Big Three never had to deliver a single product to consumers! They took that $220 million, spent a little developing a few working prototypes, and pocketed the rest as profit, refusing to make and sell a single vehicle to the car buying public.

When GM, Ford, and Chrysler were developing electric cars to meet California's ZEV mandate in the 1990s, the US Advanced Battery Consortum was formed to help them develop a batter battery for electric vehicles. Since its creation, over $20 million taxpayer dollars a year were given to the auto companies for this purpose. In the mid 1990s, a viable electric vehicle battery was ready for commercialization, developed not by the USABC who basically sat on their *** soaking up government handouts, but by Stanly Ovshinski. This battery gave the GM EV1 electric car a 150 mile range per charge at about 65 mph, the Solectria Force(a converted Geo Metro 4-door sedan) a 200 mile range, and the Solectria Sunrise a 350 mile range. GM immediately formed a company with Ovshinsky to commercialize this battery called GM-Ovonics. GM, not wanting electric vehicles to take off once it realized that they needed no powertrain maintenance and given that aftermarket parts and repairs was half its profit margins, sold its share of that company to Chevron Texaco, who has since refused to let this battery be produced for electric vehicle applications! Gee, with automobile fuel accounting for 45% of America's oil consumption, the oil industry's largest source of revenue, I wonder why!

Not to mention the other actions the auto industry took to make sure that mass market electric vehicles would not become reality today. A brief summary:

-The auto industry spread around misleading or even wholly dishonest information on EVs.

-The auto industry attempted to suppress information on battery technology.

-The auto industry made misleading and dishonest statements about the existing and future market for EVs.

-The auto industry outright refused to lease and/or sell the vehicles to willing customers with cash on hand willing to pay the advertised price.

-Auto industry lobbyists spent millions of dollars printing ads in opposition to EVs that their companies developed.

-The auto industry artificially inflated the production costs of their vehicles using wholly unconventional accounting methods.

You can read more details, including documented proof, in this topic:


The auto industry asking for these handouts is relying on the premise that the battery technology isn't there. This is wrong.

Today's 18650 size lithium ion batteries used for computers and cell phones offer specific capacity of 150 Wh/kg, specific power of 500 W/kg, and about 500 cycle life to 100% discharge. If produced in automotive volume, they'd be about $250/kwh according to two sources, AC Propulsion and the Center for Transportation Research at Argonne National Laboratory. To give a little perspective on what this information means, a midsize car converter to electric with no special attention paid to aerodynamic efficiency, such as a Ford Taurus or Toyota Camry would need 250 Wh/mile to travel at highway speeds. For 200 miles range, this is a 50 kWh pack, which would cost roughly $12,500 in automotive volume. At 500 cycles to 100% discharge, this pack would last 100,000 miles in the worst case scenario(but probably a lot longer since it usually wouldn't be discharged 200 miles a day, more like 40 miles a day, and could be recharged each night at home). This battery would allow for a $20,000-25,000 midsize electric car that does 0-60 mph in 9 seconds, tops out at over 120 mph, and does over 200 miles per charge. It would achieve cost parity with a similar gas powered car at about $2.00-2.50/gallon gas. Cars using lithium ion batteries include the Tesla Roadster, capable of out-accelerating Ferraris with its 0-60 mph in 3.9 second capability and going 250 miles per charge, the Venturi Fetish, capable of 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds and 220 miles per charge, the AC Propulsion EBox, a conversion of the Toyota Scion capable of 0-60 mph in 7 seconds and 200 miles per charge, the Mitsubishi FTO prototype developed in 1998 capable of 200 miles per charge, and the AC Propulsion TZero, capable of 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds and 300 miles per charge.

The above isn't even state of the art Li Ion technology. Altair Nanotechnologies has developed a Lithium battery that will last over 5,000 cycles to 100% discharge, or well in excess of 1 million miles! It is being used in the Phoenix Motorcars SUV.

In the middle 1990s, as was mentioned earlier, NiMH batteries were allowing long ranges as well. But they last many more cycles than today's 18650 size Li Ions. The Ovonic NiMH battery was capable of lasting 1,750 cycles to 100% discharge according to UC Davis, while Cobasys quotes a more conservative 1,200 cycles to 80% discharge. In a car with 200 miles range, this would be well over 200,000 miles battery life. UC Davis also claims that in automotive volume, price would be $220/kWh, or about $11,000 for a 50 kWh pack. This battery pack would be so cheap to use that you'd have to give gasoline away for free on a comparable gas car for the two to reach operating cost parity. But the oil company, Chevron Texaco, is sitting on this battery and will have control over it until 2014.

Further, the big Three have specifically asked Bush for this handout, that same George Bush who's administration helped suppress the electric vehicle at their command. Under Bush, the DOJ filed an amicus brief supporting GM, Ford, Chrsyler in their effort to end California's ZEV mandate and former Bush chief of staff and General Motors lobbyist Andrew Card acted as a plaintiff against the state of California in that court case!

So here we are, this technology having been viable since the 1990s, with the auto industry now clamoring for MORE money to develop a new battery for a type of car that they've so far refused to produce and have actively helped suppress. And they're going to a politician who has helped stall this technology for more handouts!

Can anyone else see the corruption here?

Why should we be giving our hard-earned money to those companies who refuse to allow us access to this technology, when smaller companies like AC Propulsion, Tesla Motors, Commuter Cars, would kill for this kind of money so that they could actually get a massed produced electric car to the public?

The relevent article is below.


U.S. Automakers Request $500 Million Battery Subsidy (Update3)

By John Lippert

Jan. 9 (Bloomberg) -- General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG have asked the U.S. government for $500 million over five years to subsidize research into advanced batteries for cars and trucks.

The automakers made the request last month after meeting with President George W. Bush in the White House in November, said Stephen Zimmer, an advanced engineering director at DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler unit.

U.S.-based auto companies are in a race with rivals including Japan's Toyota Motor Corp. to develop a lithium-ion battery for use in hybrids and other vehicles. They need a product that won't overheat and is economical, durable, and rechargeable from a variety of sources, including home outlets.

``The progress being made is tremendous, but the batteries are not prime-time ready now,'' Zimmer said.

Since 1991, the U.S. government has subsidized battery research at the rate of about $25 million a year. Bush administration officials, during their Nov. 14 meeting with the automakers, asked whether it was adequate, Zimmer said.

``They're asked whether we're doing enough to really have a competitive battery industry in this country,'' he said. The ``answer was 'probably not.'''

Zimmer said he didn't know when the automakers will hear back from the White House on their request. In a Jan. 7 interview, Chrysler Chief Executive Officer Tom LaSorda said he and his counterparts at GM and Ford expect to meet with Bush again sometime during 2007.

Critical Technology

``Japan and other Asian countries have identified advanced batteries as a critical competitive technology and are investing several hundred millions of dollars to support their domestic manufacturers,'' said Greg Martin, a GM spokesman in Washington.

The U.S. needs a comparable effort in part because Japan won't share the results of this research with U.S.-based firms, Martin said.

Julie Ruggiero, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Energy Department, didn't immediately return calls seeking comment.

Toyota, the world's biggest seller of gasoline-electric hybrids, said yesterday that it's working to develop smaller and more powerful batteries that can be used in vehicles that get their initial charge from a home outlet.

It will be ``a long time'' before the technology is available, Executive Vice President Masatami Takimoto said, declining to be more specific.

Power for Plug-Ins

Toyota and GM have both said that inadequate batteries are the most significant obstacle to commercial production of plug-in hybrids. The vehicles can be charged at home and then switch to a gasoline engine when the battery's power runs out.

Both automakers use nickel metal hydride batteries in their gasoline-electric hybrids.

The Energy Department provides subsidies for pre-competitive research into batteries and other technologies in consultation with the U.S. Council for Automotive Research, a cooperative established by the three automakers in 1992. Much of the actual research takes place at universities, Zimmer said.

Don Walkowicz, executive direct of the Southfield, Michigan- based council, said he expects to hear a reply from the White House on the funding request within the next few weeks.

On Jan. 4, GM awarded two contracts to develop plug-in batteries. Johnson Controls-Saft Advanced Power Solutions LLC and Cobasys, a joint venture of a Chevron Corp. subsidiary and Energy Conversion Devices Inc., will compete to create a useable lithium-ion battery for GM.

The subsidy request was reported earlier today by the Wall Street Journal.

To contact the reporter on this story: John Lippert in Detroit at jlippert@bloomberg.net

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Old 01-11-2007, 01:03 PM   #2
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Toecutter -

Thanks for the meat and potatoes. I am going to send this URL to other folks to read.


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Old 01-13-2007, 11:51 AM   #3
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Toecutter, thanks for sharing your knowledge. I hope that some Chinese carmakers make exact copies of these experimental cars, or of the EV1 - at least of the outside.
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