Maxwell CEO says ultracaps are perfect for General Motors' eAssist hybrids

2012 Buick Regal eAssist – Click above for high-res image gallery

When General Motors debuted the 2012 Buick LaCrosse with eAssist at the Los Angeles Auto Show in 2010, the automaker made it clear that this fuel-saving technology would find a home in other models soon. Last month, the eAssist-equipped 2012 Buick Regal made its debut at the 2011 Chicago Auto Show.

In the future, The General will wheel out more eAssist-equipped vehicles, as the system is GM's default mild hybrid setup for electrification applications requiring 20 kW of power or less. Currently, eAssist utilizes a 115 volt, 0.5 kWh lithium-ion battery, an electric motor and regenerative braking to boost fuel economy, but Maxwell Technologies chief executive officer David Schramm says that ultracaps and eAssist "are a perfect fit." Here's his reasons why:
  • Charge/discharge rate: Anyone who uses a mobile phone or other device powered by a lithium battery knows that it can take up to several hours to recharge the battery, so how much energy can such a battery absorb during the few seconds that it takes to stop a car? By contrast, ultracaps fully charge or discharge in a second or less.
  • Cold temperature performance: When temperatures approach freezing, batteries become sluggish, so they won't be able to deliver much power to the battery or capture much regenerative braking energy in cold climates. Ultracaps operate normally down to -40ºC.
  • Operational lifetime: Batteries typically last only a few thousand charge/discharge cycles before they need to be replaced, whereas ultracapacitors can be expected to last the life of the vehicle.
Schramm closed by almost daring GM to give ultracaps a shot, stating:
We're convinced that Maxwell ultracaps would also make the eAssist system more efficient and reliable, thus enabling GM to deliver a superior product to its customers, so we hope they will take us up on our offer to prove it.
Would ultracaps boost GM's eAssist to the next level? Let us know what you think by dropping a comment below.

2012 Buick Regal eAssist
2012 Buick Regal eAssist
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[Source: Maxwell Technologies]

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