• Feb 27th 2008 at 7:19PM
  • 12
General Motors has apparently placed Cobasys on their list of distressed suppliers, a move that could be very bad news for some of GM's hybrid programs. Cobasys is the battery company jointly owned by Energy Conversion Devices and Chevron Technology Ventures. Cobasys supplies the nickel metal hydride batteries used in GM's mild hybrid system in the Saturn Aura and Vue and the Chevy Malibu. They are also one of two supplier teams with development contracts to provide lithium ion battery packs for the PHEV Saturn Vue that was shown at the Detroit Auto Show. Cobasys is doing the pack integration for cells provided by A123 systems for that program.

Apparently Cobasys lost $76 million in 2007 and expects the amount to widen to $82 million this year. ECD and Chevron are apparently at odds about funding the battery supplier and coming up with a spending plan for this year. When GM declares a supplier distressed they start watching them much more closely and the chances of a supplier on that list winning new business are slim. GM's full-size hybrid trucks, such as the Tahoe/Yukon, utilize batteries produced by Panasonic while the plug-in lithium battery programs all use multiple suppliers, so they should be ok unless another supplier stumbles. GM has not announced the name of the supplier for the Vue Two-mode hybrid that is due to launch this fall.

[Source: The Car Connection]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 12 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      I'd love to see how the conspiracy theorists spin this one. Was Cobasys going broke and having to have its assets sold off all part of the Evil Oil Conspiracy's plot? Right after they started moving into li-ion? Those clever bastards! I bet if they wanted to make money, they'd start making and selling those large format NiMH batteries that they've been hiding to preserve the oil monopoly. Nothing turns a profit more than manufacturing obsolete products by the *hundreds*, after all. ;) And it's not like it was a huge financial loss for them the last time around or anything.

      Jake: Panasonic has full patent rights to Cobasys's NiMHs after a patent exchange in '05:

      http://www.greencarcongress.com/2005/07/cobasys_and_pan.html
      http://www.autobloggreen.com/2007/11/16/autobloggreen-qanda-denise-gray-talks-batteries-state-of-charge/

      No manufacturer really wants NiMHs, though. They really have no advantages over modern automotive li-ions, and they can have all sorts of charging problems, they're horribly inefficient, you have to actively cool them, and so on. Cobasys only has the US rights to automotive NiMHs. Notice the distinct lack of NiMH-driven vehicles in *other* markets as well?
      • 6 Years Ago
      contd. EVs - WHO TO TRUST?

      Read Plug in Hybrids by Sherry Boschert http://www.amazon.com/Plug-Hybrids-Cars-Recharge-America/dp/0865715718/
      and ZOOM: The Global Race to Fuel the Car of the Future by Vijay Vaitheeswaran. http://www.amazon.com/ZOOM-Global-Race-Fuel-Future/dp/0446698660/

      Remember that there is a great deal of disinformation and FUD flying on EVs. Why? Well $100 Trillion is a good starting pointing. "It's the oil lobby, stupid" seems to be a good general answer to a lot of questions at the moment. Like, oh say, the last eight years.

      EAA found that EV forums and threads are being co-opted by AI generated replies that are pages long, written at the engineering thesis level ... and appear within fifteen minutes of posting some comments to EV threads. From one lobbyist on the E. coast. He is certainly doing a more cost effective job than the myriad paid FUD spreaders on political websites.

      Become immune to FUD - do the reading :-)
      pedmac2000
      • 7 Years Ago
      Sam it seems that GM . Didnt follow very well on their promises to Cobasys.. and hence Cobasys is going broke.. may not be able to compete with an a123.. Even though they haven proven any product yet.. i think Chevron might have problems explaining this one . keeping a green company down in order to protect the bottom line OIL money. ..... I think Cobasys situation has been resolved should have news soon... funny a hybrid battery company can go broke when oil is at 102 bucks a barrel......
      • 7 Years Ago

      Chevron has problems with funding this company ?

      They are probably running out of money.

      -----------

      Chevron Profits Up Sharply on Oil Prices

      Friday February 1, 4:50 pm ET

      Chevron Posts Sharp Rise in 4th-Qtr Profits As Surging Oil Price Offsets Weak Refining Results

      NEW YORK (AP) -- Chevron Corp., the second-largest U.S. oil company, said Friday its profit rose 29 percent in the fourth quarter, beating expectations, as surging prices for crude oil offset weak results from its refining business.

      The company posted earnings of $4.88 billion, or $2.32 per share, up from $3.77 billion, or $1.74 per share, a year earlier. That easily beat the $2.26 per share consensus estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Financial.

      Revenue also rose 29 percent to $61.41 billion from $47.75 billion.............

      http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/080201/earns_chevron.html?.v=1
      • 7 Years Ago
      @KarenRei
      I wouldn't agree with some of your points that no manufacturer wants Nimh. The fact of the matter is despite their disadvantages, Nimh batteries are cheaper than li-ion and they also last longer when taken care of properly than conventional li-ion. The batteries in RAV4 EVs are still running well after 10years! Toyota is confident enough to cover the prius with an 8 year 100k mile warranty and the battery has proven it can last more than 100k miles without significantly degrading. I haven't seen a similar proof of durability in li-ion batteries. (And remember the constant cycling and the smaller capacity of the batteries in hybrids mean they get more stress than a large capacity battery in an EV). Nimhs can also get 1000+ cycle life while li-ion is more like 500 cycles so this is why Nimh more fit for hybrids and PHEVs.

      Conventional li-ions typically only last 5 years/ 500 cycles before getting below 80% charge. You have to invest in more expensive li-ions with worst energy density like a123 batteries in order to get the 10 year guarantee and acceptable 1000+ cycling performance for hybrids/PHEVs. This is why Toyota kept saying that the li-ion batteries just were not ready yet. Seems like they are still struggling with getting supply of li-ions for the next gen prius.

      Sure li-ion is catching on, but for hybrids I can see than nimh is probably going to stay for a while esp for mainstream carmakers who are required to provide warranties for their batteries. I can understand why EVs have moved to li-ion as li-ions can save weight and provide more energy density and EVs BADLY need all the range it can get. However, these companies don't have to give a warranty on their batteries so that is why they went with li-ion with no qualms. Tesla even mentioned that their li-ion pack will likely last only 5 years before getting to only 80% charge.
      • 6 Years Ago
      contd. EVs - WHO TO TRUST?

      Doug Korthof liveoilfree http://www.youtube.com/liveoilfree

      S. David Freeman http://www.thegreencowboy.com/


      Join the Electric Auto Association (EAA). http://www.eaaev.org/.

      • 7 Years Ago
      Perhaps Chevron does not see enough profit in Cobasys to pump more money in to them, it is a joint venture after all. Good news for Panasonic. Where are all the battery start-ups? If electrification is the future of the car I would expect some folks to take the very expensive plunge.
      • 7 Years Ago
      They deserve to lose money. I tried to order batteries from them for my EV and they replied they only sell to OEM. The patent expires soon and then NiMH batteries in any size format will be available from many sources. Since the real purpose of Cobasys was to lock up NiMH from wide distribution (the real purpose of the company was to litigate patent violations, not distribute batteries: google "cobasys panasonic fine" or check the wikipedia entry http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cobasys).
      • 7 Years Ago
      Panasonic seems VERY popular these days on hybrid batteries so no wonder Cobasys is struggling.
      • 6 Years Ago
      @KarenRei. Rubbish. FUD.

      Zerothlaw, jake et al have it exactly right.


      EVs - WHO TO TRUST?

      GM Volt is a PR program ONLY. See Ralph Nader in WKTEC. "They promise the earth, meanwhile buy my 8mpg Hummer." Don't bother reading GM's disinformation.

      If you do the research - on Amory Lovins's hypercar and the U.S. energy future, Stan Ovshinsky's NiMH battery, Doug Korthof's liveoilfree youtube channel plus those below - you can work out:

      1. Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) are the final destination.
      2. Toyota are continuing to use NiMH, instead of Li ion batteries, for its ten year life.
      3. Toyota are NOT ALLOWED to sell BEVs under a patent law settlement.
      4. Chevron is suppressing Ovshinsky's NiMH battery technology via the Cobasys patents until at least 2014 and longer if they can get away with it.
      5. GM Volt "doesn't have a battery." Excuse me? What a surprise. Obviously they have never heard of the EV-1 from 1995 or Ovshinsky's NiMH battery with proven ten year life and range of 160 miles. Oh wait. They built it. Or the RAV 4-EV with 120 mile range using ... an Ovshinksy patented NiMH battery. Duh!
      6. GM told Saab to glue shut the plug-in socket on a car show prototype. A minor oddity, granted. http://www.greencarcongress.com/2006/06/saab_to_premier.html
      7. The investment funds / trusts that control the U.S. auto companies may be owned or controlled by the oil companies. Why have they allowed the value of their stock go to zero, while Toyota's has gone in the opposite direction, from $20B to $200B in ten years(?). Two words. Razors. Blades. The money is made on supplying the blades. In this case the gas.

      etc

      Trusted sources from Who Killed the Electric Car. They lead to others. Use the web of trust to avoid constant disinformation from lobbyists, in forums, etc. - nuclear, coal, Chevron on EVs. Why disinformation? There are very big dollars at stake - "$100T in 'business remaining to be done' in oil alone - WKTEC."

      Iris and Stan Ovshinsky - in WKTEC. American genius. 'Good guy.' http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_R._Ovshinsky
      - Berkeley Alternative Energy speech (long intro to intro @ 13:40) video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DYxoacwuxg


      • 6 Years Ago
      contd. EVs - WHO TO TRUST?

      Who Killed the The Electric Car. Ignore Italian subtitles. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wofjkTmVgt4

      Amory Lovins http://www.rmi.org/sitepages/pid41.php
      - On the Hypercar http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8D-uhKHy7mk
      When you hear "hydrogen" realise that the Ovshinsky NiMH battery IS a hydrogen storage device. Doug Korthof describes it and how it could have been available TEN years ago and OR RIGHT NOW, with pressure.

      • 7 Years Ago
      Pehaps GM could get a good deal on buying Cobasys.
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