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Panasonic's standing in the plug-in and hybrid battery production industry has zoomed ahead like a Tesla Model S taking off from a standstill. That's appropriate because the Japanese company's relationship with the California-based automaker has been the primary reason for its growth, which looks like it will continue to be rapid.

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Toyota has never been a big fan of lithium ion batteries, and has a plan in place to replace them with solid-state batteries that are three-to-four times more powerful. Toyota will commercialize solid-state batteries around 2020 and lithium air batteries – which offer a fivefold increase for the same weight – could follow several years later, said Shigeki Suzuki, managing officer for material engineering. Suzuki didn't offer details on a rollout plan or vehicle volumes.

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Why Not Improve The Cheap Chemistry?

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The supply of rare earth metals used in the manufacture of nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries and permanent magnet motors that are found in most hybrids has been somewhat uncertain the past few years, what with China's lock on the supply and its recent policy of limiting exports. While there are a number of possible solutions and workarounds, Honda is tackling the problem using an approach we can heartily endorse: recycling.

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2008 Honda Civic Hybrid – Click above for high-res image gallery

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Guide to Common Green Acronymns

Deciphering the new vocabulary of the green car movement can sometimes be a real head scratcher. To alleviate as much confusion as possible, we would like to present our readers with a list of common acronyms and what they mean, with plenty of links for more information. If you have some TLAs (that's three-letter acronyms) that you'd like us to add to our glossary, just let us know in the comments.

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Peugeot 3008 - Click above for high-res image gallery

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2010 Toyota Prius - Click above for high-res image gallery

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2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid - Click above for high-res image gallery

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Electric cars have been with us since the very beginning of the automobile age and from that time until now, its most important component has been the battery. It stores energy chemically until it is needed to create the electricity that powers a vehicle's motor. There have been different types of batteries over the years but none have had the practicality or popularity of the very first rechargeable one, the lead-acid battery.

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While understandably excited about the 41 mpg highway city rating the new Fusion hybrid recently achieved, Ford is already throwing a wet blanket on the sales potential of the car, which will go on sale in Spring 2009. According to HybridCars, Ford Americas President Mark Fields said that, "We are constrained by the amount of components, including batteries, that the supply base can provide us," during an an online chat last week. Not a lot of detail there, but it's certainly a dampener. We've a

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var digg_url = 'http://digg.com/environment/Chevron_subsidiary_cancels_contract_for_hybrid_batteries'; 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

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This week, Sam brings back two interviews - one with Ford's Scott Staley about what's going on in Hybrid land, which is then balanced by a conversation with John Lapetz that pulls back the curtain on the hydrogen research that's been going on in Dearborn. Also touched on are the Chevy Volt and the EFlex architecture itself, set to go into series production in 2010. Things move from the EFlex to the challenge of bringing Li-Ion batteries to market. Ford also announced that there will be an experi

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Lithium-ion batteries have been in use for some time in our personal electronics devices, most notably in laptop computers. The switch was made to lithium-ion from NiMh, or nickel metal hydride batteries because they are lighter, cheaper, and smaller than other kinds of batteries. They don't suffer from the 'memory' effect that gave nickel batteries a bad name, they contain relatively few toxic metals and are fairly simple to recycle. Nickel metal hydride and ni-cad or nickel cadmium batteries w

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To list all of Stanford Ovshinsky's achievements would take half the storage on our server, but few environmentalists really know of him. Fifty years ago he envisioned a hydrogen economy and is the inventor of the nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery that is utilized in hybrid vehicles. Many other inventions and innovations can be traced to his discoveries in amorphous materials used for energy generation or storage. His current efforts are based out a company called Energy Conversion Devices (EC

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