The latest issue of industry trade magazine Automotive Electronics has an article on some of the battery makers trying to gain new business on upcoming hybrid and electric vehicle programs. The piece provides a pretty decent summary of the major players and also the issues with some of the battery technology they're working on, particularly new lithium ion batteries. For the time being all the bigger volume programs are sticking to NiMH because it's proven, relatively safe and they know how to make it significant volumes. Although some companies like Altair Nanotechnologies appear to have made some significant advances, no one has yet demonstrated the ability to reliably build these new batteries in sufficiently high quality at a cost effective price. It's one thing to build a few dozen or hundred batteries, quite another to make tens or hundreds of thousands, and meet warranty requirements.
That's were a quote from Prabhakar Patil, chief executive officer of Compact Power Inc comes in: "This is significant, as consumers are willing to pay a premium for longer usage time or lighter weight". To date, not enough consumers have actually been willing to pay the necessary premium for an automotive battery. It's one thing to pay an extra $100 for a longer lasting laptop or mp3 player. At car scales we're currently talking tens of thousands of dollars. Just look at the way sales of the Prius and other hybrids drop, when tax credits expire. When car-makers are already selling hybrids at a loss, it's really hard for them to justify making the vehicles even more expensive. Check out the article at the Read link.

[Source: Automotive Electronics]

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