• May 28, 2008
Following the lead of Japanese manufacturers such as Toyota and Nissan, Volkswagen has announced a major deal with Sanyo to produce lithium-ion batteries. The two companies already have ties, as VW uses Sanyo's nickel-metal hydride batteries in its current hybrid vehicles, such as the upcoming Audi Q7 hybrid. Li-ion batteries are the current cream-of-the-crop when it comes to storing electricity and VeeDub has plans to begin offering vehicles with the high-tech copper tops as early as 2009.
Unlike Toyota and Nissan, which have created jointly run manufacturing plants with their battery suppliers, Sanyo will be going it alone with an 80 billion yen, or $769 million, investment in order to expand production of its li-ion batteries by 2015, at which time it plans on producing 15-20,000 units per year. Sanyo also happens to provide nickel-metal hydride batteries for the Ford Escape Hybrid and the Honda Civic Hybrid.

[Sources: Volkswagen, The Detroit News]

Press Release:

Volkswagen Working on High-Performance Energy Storage

Dynamic partnership between the Volkswagen Group and Sanyo


Wolfsburg, 28 May 2008 - Agreement has been reached on a co-operation which sees Volkswagen joining forces with Sanyo, one of the world's leading developers of rechargeable batteries, to work on new and extremely efficient high-performance storage systems based on lithium-ion technology.


"Our focus in future," says Prof Martin Winterkorn, CEO of the Volkswagen Group, "will be directed more strongly at making electrically powered automobiles alongside ones driven by more efficient combustion engines. Drivetrain electrification is the way forward if we wish to secure mobility in tomorrow's world. This will involve energy recovery. The whole idea will be to no avail, however, as long as we do not have powerful energy storage systems at our disposal and as long as vehicle operations are not in tune with customer demands. This cooperation is an important step for us," Winterkorn adds.

Emissions-free travel in an all-electric operating modus is already possible today, though only at limited speeds and over short distances. That makes it all the more important to develop new accumulators with the capacity, size, weight and cost attributes which will enable them to be used more efficiently in tomorrow's automobiles. Lithium-ion technology, already very successfully used in communications electronics and portable computers, has the potential to satisfy even the particularly exacting demands placed on electro-traction systems in motor vehicles.

Back in March, at the Geneva Motor Show, Volkswagen showcased its Golf TDI Hybrid design study, which demonstrated just how much potential for energy reduction there is when you combine high-tech-diesel, electric-drive and 7-speed-DSG technology. Conceived as a powerful full-hybrid vehicle, the Golf TDI Hybrid can be operated using combustion-engine power only or using a combination of combustion and electric drive or using E-drive – i.e. the powerful and energy-efficient combination of TDI technology and an electric motor. The A1 project quattro presented by Audi at the most recent Tokyo Motor Show features a powertrain already designed to cover a distance of 100 km using this innovative storage method. The Group hopes to be able to employ lithium-ion technology in its first vehicles by 2010.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 18 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      Compressed air is a pipe dream. There is a reason no major auto manufacturer is persueing it.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Josiah,

      Do you think setting up expensive oil wells, complicated refineries, overwhelming transportation infrastructure, enormous amounts of refueling infrastructure, thousands of oil industry workers, limited supply infrastructure dependencies and geo-political world market commodity instabilities is a better alternative to having a simple solar/wind powered air re-chargingin station for your car every 30 miles or so?

      What happens when the oil runs out? It may not happen in our lifetimes, but it will happen.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Maybe you have't considered this...and I'm very sorry to burst your bubble. What makes you think a CA car would need a smaller battery pack than a hybrid? A hybrid's batteries are charged onboard. A CA car's batteries, which will run the safety equipment, headlights, and all the electrical stuff has to run on a single charge. That means even if you have air stations every 30 miles, your range is limited to what the battery will hold.

        I mean, you can imagine the lawsuits if the power steering, brakes, headlights, antilock brakes, federally mandated stability control all go out while you're driving because the battery is drained.
        • 6 Years Ago
        It's all good. In theory. However, in reality air car is no more than a limited range bath tub on wheels with no equipment.

        You are dreaming of making air refueling stations using wind turbines. Why not convert that into electricity then?
        • 6 Years Ago
        It's not simple at all. You seriously need to study up on thermodynamics & electrical engineering if you think you're gonna store enough air to run a car for 30 miles plus an alternator to supply electric power.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Simple, an simple alternator could be placed on the air-compressed driven piston engine to recharge the battery during usage. No different from a normal car. Come on, this is a lame argument against it. An easy obstacle to overcome. The same argument would hold true in an electric-only vehicle!

        This is the first idea I have seen in a long time that when you take a step back and think about the potential, shows some real promise.....

        What better solutions do you have?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Yeah, LiIon batteries are dangerous... They can explode violently when shorted or ruptured, which is why the R/C pilots are switching to the LiFe batteries, aka A123, in their planes. They have all the benefits of LiIon/LiPo without the explosive tendencies.

      They are the same type as the ones being prepared for use in the Volt.

      Not sure why anyone would be going with LiIon...
      • 6 Years Ago
      Why not an air car? The hybrid and battery driven cars are a dead-end solution due to expensive and complicated maintenance.

      Take a look at this first generation grass roots alternative. It shows some real promise!

      http://zeropollutionmotors.us/
        • 6 Years Ago
        you need to use small rodents to power the air compressor.
        • 6 Years Ago
        As I understand it, you waste more energy compressing air than you do storing it in a battery and directly driving a motor with it. A battery driven electrical car is currently the one that requires the fewest conversion steps between the source of its power and the motor, and all other current alternatives are pretenders to the efficiency throne in that regard.

        And hybrids are quite complex, yes, but a pure battery driven car would be orders of magnitude simpler than anything that relies on flinging dozens of small mechanical parts back and forth via the force of small explosions to propel itself.

        However, a compressed air car wouldn't have that hugenormous upfront cost of a big battery, nor do they need to lug around all the weight, and at least they're zero emissions at the tailpipe. An infrastructure would be a cinch to set up. I think they could have a future as a small inexpensive city car, a few steps up from a bicycle.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Amazing, so you can compress air into a tank without using any energy? Do tell!
        • 6 Years Ago
        You need energy to compress the air, and you need batteries to run safety electronics, steering, brakes, wipers, headlights and entertainment systems. You can't really run this car in the winter since there's no heater or defrost, not to mention the motor will probably freeze in cold temperatures. In the summer you are limited to the cold air used to run the motor as a/c. The biggest problem, of course, is limited range and limited speed.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Shawn,

      I have studied up on electrical engineering and thermodynamics, as I am have engineering degrees and studied in both Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. Yes, it is very much that simple. Why is it so hard to believe?

      If you watch their video, 4300 PSI is a whole lot of pressure. Lots of energy is stored in those tanks, not your normal garage air compressor there. You could most definitely run a small scale alternator to run the vehicle accessories during transport with minimal mechanical resistance loss involved with such a device connected to a drive train.

      Sure, it takes some energy to create those pressures, that could be more efficiently stored chemically, but it would not be as sustainable or cheap. Who cares about energy conversion anyway, if the energy is coming from renewables like solar/wind?

      Affordable composite carbon fiber air tanks (to eliminate the idea of metal tank shrapnel flying in an explosive release) and some creative engine designs make this technology now practical, whereas it was never before.

      Think about it. This is the first generation backyard garage made prototypes being manufactured and they could feasible meet the demands of the average person in most situations, given the proper air refueling station infrastructure for long trips (120 mile per charge @ 65mph).

      I wonder what the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and further on generations of this technology will look like. I am sure the technology kinks could be quickly engineered.

      My big question here is, could this technology be made feasible for trucking distribution operations? That is the only gap I see right now. But, maybe a hybrid engine setup for those situations?

      This is an exciting technology because of its simple yet feasible potential.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Storing energy in the form of compressed air is a more sustainable method of energy storage currently then chemical storage.

      Think about it this way. You setup an electric car with lithium batteries (or even cheap lead acid ones). You drive the car, then need to charge up. It takes a long time to charge up a battery, considerable more than filling it with gas. That eliminates the electric car from a long trip option.

      You have a hybrid, good alternative that solves the long trip problem, but is heavy, complex, expensive and probably not as practical as a very fuel efficient diesel these days.

      You have an air-car. Even a heavy one made to US safety and size preferences. Let's say it gets a lowly 60 miles per air charge. Let's assume it has an air compressor on board capable of charging it from 110V outlets. That solves the immediate around town commuting obstacles for early adopters and puts it in the electric car realm. Then, lets have air charging station setup at each gas station, pre-charged to the proper air pressure, that charge the car up in 3 minutes and only cost a dollar or so.

      Why not use batteries? Simple, they are expensive to replace and manufacture. Plus, they impact the environment in the long run in some capacity. Air tanks probably would have a lesser effect on the environment in the long run and be easier on the wallet to maintain.
      • 6 Years Ago
      lol at cat picture.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I can has cheeseburger?
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