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Plans for Mercedes to release the ML 450 hybrid in 2009 may very well be canceled. The maker of the nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries that was to provide the energy storage component for the SUV, Cobasys, seems to be refusing to begin production of the essential part. It appears the company's parent firms, Chevron (who just posted a $5.98 billion 2nd quarter profit) and Energy Conversion Devices (ECD) have "pulled funding" from the battery supplier, preventing it from meeting manufacturing commitments agreed upon last year.

No stranger to accusations of conspiracy when it comes squelching green-tech batteries, Chevron is again facing the charge in a lawsuit filed last week by Mercedes that claims the company colluded with ECD and Cobasys to keep the imminent sale of the distressed battery maker a secret to prevent the German firm from canceling the battery deal. The suit also alleges that Cobasys refused to begin production in case the terms of the contract were not seen as favorable to the new owners. This situation should make for interesting reading in the months to come and, we suspect, give folks yet another reason to dislike oil companies.

[Source: Information Week]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 44 Comments
      • 4 Months Ago
      Like to have the last word here.

      The conspiracy theory myth is well and truly busted.

      Just a boring old business agreement gone sour.
        axiom
        • 4 Months Ago
        "Just a boring old business agreement gone sour."

        Except this one had the appearance of impropriety, while backing up the claims people have been making about Chevron actively working to suppress battery/hybrid production - in this case, they undeniably did. Calling something a "conspiracy theory" doesn't alter the facts, it only shows your naive enough to think it does.

      • 4 Months Ago
      Please stay on top of this one. The watchful eye of the blogosphere is one of the few tools we have to keep big oil from continuing to buy any technology that threatens their monopoly/profits and quietly sabotaging it. Not all conspiracies are imaginary, especially when billions of dollars are at stake.
      • 4 Months Ago
      BG-Auto - The Bush plan was to have the standard in place by 2017. It was the Democrat Congress after consulting with the UAW that decided that 2020 was soon enough.

      The NHTSB is following the law enacted by the Democrat Congress.

      Hopefully the CAFE standard will be made mute by the marketplace.
      • 4 Months Ago
      Please read-Americans need to know!!!!!!!!

      NHTSA Hearings 8/4/08

      I just returned from the NHTSA hearings held today (August 4, 2008) in Washington D.C., regarding the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for NEW Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards (CAFÉ) for years 2011-2015.

      IMPORTANT FACTS: You will not believe what you are reading.

      1) The 414 pages DEIS analysis was based on an average gasoline price of USD $2.16/gallon for 2011-2020. A calculation approved by the NHTSA administrators/managers. Would you believe it???????????

      2) The new CAFÉ rules were also established, negotiated and pre-approved by the NHTSA’s management along with the influence of domestic automotive companies and their lobbyists. We have now established fuel standards for 2011-2020 that are presently met throughout the rest of the Western world (see elow)
      As one guest speaker said today “are they on another planet?”

      NHTSA “NEW Fuel Standards” (2011-2015) decision:

      Automobiles are to achieve 31.2 mpg by 2011 and 35.7 mpg by 2015. Light trucks are to achieve 25 mpg by 2011, and 28.6 mpg by 2015.

      The NTHSA is also setting a goal of 35 mpg on average for 2020.

      America needs to know:

      The European Union is currently establishing standards, with a goal of reaching 48.9 miles per gallon for new passenger vehicles as early as 2012. The current EU standard already requires more than 40 miles per gallon about 15% higher than the U.S. goal set for 12 years from now.

      Japan currently has a standard of about 40 miles per gallon. Japan aims to further improve fuel efficiency by 17% by 2015, reaching 46.9 miles per gallon.

      China has a current average of slightly under 35 miles per gallon. Chinese fuel standards are on target to reach the government’s goal of 35.8 miles per gallon by 2009. China will not only meet, but exceed, the goal just established by the United States for 2020 — more than a full decade earlier.

      Australia is targeting 34.4 miles per gallon by 2010.

      Canada is targeting 34.1 miles per gallon by 2010.

      Under the current administration, purchasing an electric vehicle is becoming more of a necessity rather than an alternative.
      BG Automotive Group, Ltd.
      http://www.BGelectricCars.com



        • 4 Months Ago
        So what's new BG? American's have been behind in everything for decades...the only thing they lead in are weapons and killing machines...something to be SOOOOO proud of.
      • 4 Months Ago
      Screw Chevron. Mercedes could secretly hire scientists to take Cobasys' NiMH battery technology patents and reverse engineer/re-tweek/improve on the designs and then own their own patents, just like our musicians finaly got some smarts and began demanding ownership of their audio masters.

      Come on look how brilliantly Toyota reverse engineered our automotive industry and took a big lead in quality, pricing and profitability.

      • 4 Months Ago
      I think mercedes made the mistake of planning to phase out gas powered vehicles by 2012 or was it 2020, either way, thats like putting a big shoot target on your back for big oil to shoot at, America has been the model of cheap gas supporting outdated vehicle technology and mercedes is simply moving beyond that business model now and rightly so. Lets hope other car companies follow suit, we are witnessing the first death rattles of the old order, the big three and big oil are losing their grip but their not going down without a fight.
      • 4 Months Ago
      All the trolls and naive idiots defending Chevron should be feeling pretty embarrassed right now. This completely vindicates what many of us have been saying all along.
        • 4 Months Ago
        Huh? So, to recap, Cobasys provides batteries for all kinds of hybrids and licenses the tech to all of the rest in this country, but because they gyp one company as they're going bankrupt, that means that they're trying to sabotage hybrid tech itself?

        Wow, the conspiracy theories know no bounds around here.
        axiom
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Boxman, apparently you only read the first paragraph and blocked out the second. Lets recap:

        "Chevron is again facing the charge in a lawsuit filed last week by Mercedes that claims the company colluded with ECD and Cobasys to keep the imminent sale of the distressed battery maker a secret to prevent the German firm from canceling the battery deal. The suit also alleges that Cobasys refused to begin production in case the terms of the contract were not seen as favorable to the new owners."

        What you have here is literally conspiracy and collision. Only a coincidence theorist would see otherwise.
      • 4 Months Ago
      Ian Kennedy said:
      Chevron profits are 8%.
      Very interesting. When crude was at $50.00 their profits were also around 8%.
      Can you spell CREATIVE ACCOUNTING?
      • 4 Months Ago
      Well then, I hope Daimler finds a good alternative supplier, and gets this thing to market, because I'm sure they can find buyers!

      I know it is true that Chevron sued Toyota and Matsushita (Panasonic) for patent infringement, so while these other companies make them, I believe that they are still subject to the patent, and either have to pay royalties or stop production, subject to Chevron's wishes.

      I just read the Ovionics patent, (6,969,567), and it looks pretty broad to me. It's certainly possible to get around it, but the resulting battery might not be so practical.

      I don't think that Chevron may not be so evil as to kill this hybrid on purpose, but I do think that they still have control over the NiMH market until 2014.
        axiom
        • 4 Months Ago
        "I don't think that Chevron may not be so evil as to kill this hybrid on purpose"

        Are you saying its evil to want to maximize your own profits? I'm sure thats what they will ask in court. I guess the question of whether its "evil" to suppress battery tech, which could raise the average mpg of fleets (and thus reduce your volume sales of gas) is subjective. Perhaps that question will be answered when the oil execs are burning in hell.
      • 4 Months Ago
      Just one correction (other than spelling) on my last post. There are many makers of NiMH batteries, but only 4 major companies that make them for automobiles.

      For those of you who still don't get it.....if Chevron has a corner on the battery market and isn't selling to Toyota and Honda. Are you suggesting that they are using pirated batteries? That's the only alternative.

      Mercedes is just as threatened by Chevron as it would be if Goodyear couldn't meet the production demands for tires to Mercedes. Pick up the phone and call someone else.
        • 4 Months Ago
        "Mercedes is not alleging that Cobasys is purposefully reneging on its agreement in order to manipulate the oil market. The apparent source of that rumor is Domenick Yoney at Autobloggreen"

        Thanks for your comments on my post. However, I didn't say that Cobasys, and/or by extension, Chevron, are reneging on their agreement to manipulate the oil market. I said that the Mercedes lawsuit claims the they are refusing to honor their production agreement for business reasons. The reasons stated have nothing to do with the oil market.
      • 4 Months Ago
      "Only idiots who don't believe it conspiracies would call it a conspiracy..."

      You certainly would have to be an idiot to call it a conspiracy if you don't believe in conspiracies. That's pretty obvious.

      Too bad there aren't 24 other companies that could make the batteries. Oh wait,.....there ARE!
        • 4 Months Ago
        "
        Too bad there aren't 24 other companies that could make the batteries. Oh wait,.....there ARE!"

        Yes of course there are...that's why there's an abundance of them and there's no shortage...NOT.
      • 4 Months Ago
      I worked with a Peace Corps volunteer who happened to know the researchers Stan Ovshinsky and his wife who developed the NiMH battery. They gave the controlling interest to GM in good faith it would be used in the EV-1. It improved the performance of the electric car over the lead batteries previously used allowing the car to get 90-120 miles between charges. GM sold ovonics battery development to Chevron who now has the global controlling interest and patents to this technology. It follows pretty closely to the movie, "Who Killed the Electric Car?" at least as far as the battery technology goes.

      Seeing how our (oil affliated) president has broken legal tradition in the interest of national security, it would indeed be in our national interest to suspend the patent rights of a record breaking oil company's control of a technology that could free us from the danger of Middle East oil/conflict.

      That battery technology can be used with the wind power America has enough of to ship overseas, let alone power battery electric cars...
        • 4 Months Ago
        "I worked with a Peace Corps volunteer who happened to know the researchers Stan Ovshinsky and his wife who developed the NiMH battery. They gave the controlling interest to GM in good faith it would be used in the EV-1. It improved the performance of the electric car over the lead batteries previously used allowing the car to get 90-120 miles between charges. GM sold ovonics battery development to Chevron who now has the global controlling interest and patents to this technology. It follows pretty closely to the movie, "Who Killed the Electric Car?" at least as far as the battery technology goes."

        First of all, they are ALREADY making batteries for GM's hybrid cars.

        Secondly, the battery was invented by Masahiko Oshitani at Yuasa Company, and further refinded by Philips Labs and French CNRS Labs, just to name a few. The patents Chevron holds only to certain types of batteries and certain types on manufacturing processes.
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