A bit shy of two years ago, battery startup Envia Systems looked quite promising. The Silicon Valley company had produced a 400-watt-hours-per-kilogram lithium ion battery and claimed it could be placed inside an electric car that would cost $20,000 and be able to travel 300 miles on one charge. It was enough to bring in millions of dollars in funding from the US Department of Energy's APRA-E program, the California Energy Commission and General Motors. This all appears to be in trouble now.
This fast-charging bus maker got some fast money, as Proterra has raised $23 million in a recent round of equity financing. Proterra, which says it makes the world's first battery electric bus built especially for fast chargers, has tripled orders of its EcoRide model within the past year. For the record, other companies are working on fast-charging electric buses.
Cutting pounds while making cars safer and stronger is a pursuit of all auto companies. Creative uses of aluminum alloys and exotic materials like carbon fiber help reduce weight and increase fuel economy and/or performance.
A little over a month ago, General Motors Ventures announced its first investment: an undisclosed amount in Indiana-based plug-in hybrid van maker Bright Automotive. Today, GM Ventures revealed its second partner: Sakti3, a somewhat secretive lithium-ion battery developer based in Ann Arbor, MI. GM Ventures and Itochu Technology Ventures have invested $4.2 million into Sakti3, Inc., "to advance the firm's manufacturing capabilities," and to speed up commercialization of the battery cells, accord