Johnson Controls-Saft has been awarded a contract worth some $8.2 million for the development of lithium ion batteries and the associated system that goes into making them an automotive-ready pack. The goal is to find out how feasible the planned push for PHEVs really is. According to Mary Ann Wright, head of the Johnson Controls-Saft joint venture and vice president at GM for Johnson Controls' hybrid battery business, "Specifically, key goals for this PHEV contract are to optimize cell and battery system design for 10-mile and 40-mile electric range vehicles." See the press release after the break for more on that.
Well, good, right? Sort of. The agencies that awarded the money are the United States Advanced Battery Consortium and the U.S. Department of Energy. Of these two organizations, Wright says, "The fundamental issue that we have in the government ... is they're ignorant," adding that the organizations "need to be completely revamped." At issue seems to be the lack of standards and sufficient incentives for auto-spec batteries from the American manufacturers in cooperation with the government. For our part, we know that there is only so much money to go around, so we can only hope that it's being spent in the best possible way.

[Source: Johnson Controls-Saft, The Detroit News]

Press Release:

Johnson Controls-Saft Awarded $8.2 Million Development Contract

Two-Year Project Will Focus on Plug-In Hybrid Technology

MILWAUKEE, Aug. 12 -- The United States Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC), with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, has awarded Johnson Controls-Saft a contract valued at $8.2 million. The contract will focus on the development of lithium-ion battery systems for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and over the course of two years will seek to validate the commercial feasibility of lithium-ion technology for mass market PHEVs.

"We are working on the development of the complete PHEV system, which includes high energy capacity cells, battery management electronics, control software and an efficient thermal management system, all optimally packaged for safety and efficient integration into the vehicle," said Mary Ann Wright, who leads the Johnson Controls-Saft joint venture and is vice president and general manager for Johnson Controls hybrid battery business. "Specifically, key goals for this PHEV contract are to optimize cell and battery system design for 10-mile and 40-mile electric range vehicles."

USABC, whose members are Chrysler LLC, Ford Motor Company and General Motors Corporation, awarded Johnson Controls-Saft a similar contract in 2006 focused on lithium-ion battery systems for hybrid electric vehicles. USABC is one of several technology development consortia of USCAR, the United States Council for Automotive Research LLC.

"Lithium-ion technology has the potential to dramatically change the personal transportation landscape for consumers. It can support multiple powertrain technologies, from PHEVs to fuel cell vehicles," said Don Walkowicz, executive director of USCAR. "The Johnson Controls Saft contract is part of USABC's broad battery technology research and development program and is important to advancing sustainable transportation solutions worldwide."

Johnson Controls-Saft is a joint venture that has brought together Johnson Controls -- the world's leading supplier of automotive batteries and a company deeply experienced in integrated automotive systems solutions -- with Saft, an advanced energy storage solutions provider with extensive Li-ion battery expertise.

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