Saturday, January 31, 2009

EV News, Jan 31, 2009

All May Not Be Lost for the American Car: The prognosis seems grim for American car companies. They're facing lower demand etc and have already tapped Washington for $17.4 billion in emergency loans to avoid bankruptcy. The hopeful path requires rethinking not just old-line management and work practices but also how cars are sold, serviced and powered — that is, reinventing the industry and the car itself. The Detroit Auto Show in Jan 2009 was a celebration of electric-car plans and prototypes, including the Chevrolet Volt and Ford’s Project M car. Additionally Project Better Place has gained pledges of support from Israel, Denmark, Australia, Ontario, the State of Hawaii and a coalition of cities in Northern California for its plan to offer electric vehicles with swappable batteries and a battery recharging network.

Batteries Drive Everything: Todays battery packs are much better than prior models. The energy density is the primary barrier to acceptance and usability of electric vehicles, as the usable range is directly dependent on the amount of energy stored on board. Even though energy density is improving, the new battery packs cost a lot. On Jan. 23, the entire Michigan congressional delegation sent a letter to President Obama urging him to support renewable-energy industries and electric-car batteries in particular. The issue for some is not whether battery development is needed, but whether it is the most cost-efficient means of reducing the nation's dependency on oil. Perhaps there is more benefit from a million hybrid cars than 10,000 electric cars. (Menahem Anderman, chief executive of Total Battery Consulting) The battery makers in question are primarily foreign, in Asia, primarily in China. There are a few American battery makers but they are in startup mode and are burning through cash quickly.

Bolivia foresees future riches in lithium: Government officials think Bolivia possesses the world's biggest lithium reserves, and they also think the country is poised to profit big time from the automakers' push to develop electric cars that will run on lithium ion batteries. ''Bolivia will become a big producer of batteries in six years,'' Luis Alberto Echazú, the minister of mining and metallurgy, said in an interview. He ticked off three companies that he said have expressed interest in investing in the government's lithium venture: Sumitomo, Mitsubishi and Bollore, a French company. However the country is led by a socialist president, Evo Morales, and its powerful union leaders are deeply suspicious of foreigners, and their politics could stymie yet another opportunity for Bolivia to improve the lives of its citizens. The article discusses how Lithium producers in South America are wary of operating in Bolivia creating significant barriers to developing resources there.

Better Place Raises Financing for Denmark Electric Car Project: The proliferation of electric cars and convenient places to charge them took another step toward becoming reality in Denmark today, with the announcement that startup Better Place and Danish partner DONG Energy have closed €103 million ($135.8 million) in financing for an electric car-charging network in the country.

External Media