Saturday, January 28, 2012

Ener1 enters bankruptcy with cooperation of stakeholders, plans restructuring

Battery manufacturer Ener1 has been struggling for months, and their problems have been well known since last summer.  Yet when the company entered bankruptcy proceedings last week, on the day after Obama's State of the Union Address, in which he praised the battery and green tech companies like Ener1, we predictably see a chorus of negativity from the Republican Purveyors of Hate Against Obama.  They're trying to slander Ener1's bankruptcy with the same negative slant they've painted upon the failure of Solyndra, and by tying Ener1 to Solyndra they hope to drag the Obama green tech vision further down.

This time however they don't have a leg to stand on.  Yes, Ener1 received government loans and grants.  Yes, they entered bankruptcy.  Yes, they're a green tech company supplying components for the electric vehicle industry.  But the conditions of this deal are different than the conditions of Solyndra, which went straight into liquidation very suddenly.

Ener1's story is that they at one time were slated to supply batteries to both Fisker Automotive and Think Global for their respective electric cars.  However Fisker backed away from an arrangement with Ener1, choosing instead to buy batteries from A123 Systems.  In the meantime Ener1 bought a large stake in Think, and at the same time Think became a large customer of Ener1.  As time proceeded Think received much funding from a diverse investor group.  They moved to set up manufacturing operations in Indiana, near the plants owned by Ener1.  But as time moved on Think went into bankruptcy, again (the company has a habit of doing this).  Ener1's stake in that company was wiped out and later Think was bought by a Russian investor.  A few months later Ener1 was late in filing their SEC reports, and then later told the SEC they'd have to restate their earnings reports for the previous couple years, and this resulted in Ener1's stock being delisted.

Hence Ener1's failure is because they counted on Think's survival and that Think would go to producing electric cars while buying batteries from Ener1.  Think failed at that plan, and Ener1 ran into serious business trouble.

Is this a consequence of the Government giving them loans and grants?  Nope.  But to hear the Republicans talk about it this habit of handing out loans and grants is the worst thing any government could be doing.

In any case, Ener1's investor group is on-board with a rescue and restructuring plan that involves injecting nearly $100 million to recapitalize the company and get it going again.

Hardly sounds like a company about to sink beneath the waves, and hardly sounds like a company whose investors see as too risky.

So why are Republican's slamming this event that is capitalism in operation?  Investors taking risks on buying into a company to see it grow into success?





Ener1 enters bankruptcy with cooperation of stakeholders, plans restructuring

Ener1 critics sing from Solyndra songbook


Ener1, Obama-backed electric car battery company, files for bankruptcy

Ener1 Is No Solyndra

Ener1 Wins Approval of $13.5 Million Bankruptcy Financing
Battery maker Ener1 in Chapter 11 despite U.S. grant

Ener1's Failure Slammed By Republicans Despite GOP Support Of The Company 

Ener1, Inc. Reaches Agreement With Primary Investors and Lenders on Plan to Reduce Debt and Secure New Equity Funding to Support Its Long-term Business Strategy

Thursday, January 26, 2012

NHTSA Statement on Conclusion of Chevy Volt Investigation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 20, 2012
Contact: Lynda Tran, 202-366-9550



WASHINGTON, DC — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released the following statement today regarding the conclusion of its safety defect investigation into the post-crash fire risk of Chevy Volts (PE11037):

Today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration closed its safety defect investigation into the potential risk of fire in Chevy Volts that have been involved in a serious crash. Opened on November 25, the agency’s investigation has concluded that no discernible defect trend exists and that the vehicle modifications recently developed by General Motors reduce the potential for battery intrusion resulting from side impacts.

NHTSA remains unaware of any real-world crashes that have resulted in a battery-related fire involving the Chevy Volt or any other electric vehicle. NHTSA continues to believe that electric vehicles show great promise as a safe and fuel-efficient option for American drivers. However, as the reports released in conjunction with the closure of the investigation today indicate, fires following NHTSA crash tests of the vehicle and its battery components — and the innovative nature of this emerging technology — led the agency to take the unusual step of opening a safety defect investigation in the absence of data from real-world incidents.

Based on the available data, NHTSA does not believe that Chevy Volts or other electric vehicles pose a greater risk of fire than gasoline-powered vehicles. Generally all vehicles have some risk of fire in the event of a serious crash. However, electric vehicles have specific attributes that should be made clear to consumers, the emergency response community, and tow truck operators and storage facilities. Recognizing these considerations, NHTSA has developed interim guidance — with the assistance of the National Fire Protection Association, the Department of Energy, and others — to increase awareness and identify appropriate safety measures for these groups. The agency expects this guidance will help inform the ongoing work by NFPA, DOE, and vehicle manufacturers to educate the emergency response community, law enforcement officers, and others about electric vehicles.

For additional information on the Volt investigation and others, visit www.SaferCar.gov.

Akerson Testifies in Congress on Chevrolet Volt Safety

The following is the testimony by GM's Chairman Dan Akerson, for the video see:
http://blog.greentransportation.info/2012/01/volt-vehicle-fire-what-did-nhtsa-know.html

DETROIT – General Motors Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson testified Wednesday before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs, Stimulus Oversight and Government Spending on the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration's formal investigation into post-crash test fires in Volt batteries and closing of a NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation.

Good morning and thank you Chairman Jordan and Ranking Members Cummings and Kucinich.  I welcome the opportunity to testify today and stand behind a car that all of us at GM are proud of.
Please allow me to start with some Volt history:

GM unveiled the Volt concept at the January 2007 Detroit Auto Show.  In June of 2008, the “old GM’s” Board of Directors approved the Volt project for production well before the bankruptcy and infusion of government funds.

The battery story goes back much farther to the early 1990s with GM’s extensive work on the EV1.
Drawing on that experience, we engineered the Volt to be a winner on the road and in customers' hearts.

Today, I'm proud to say the Volt is performing exactly as we engineered it...

            ...In its first year, Volt garnered the Triple Crown of industry awards: Motor Trend Car of the Year; Automobile Magazine's Automobile of the Year; and, North American Car of the Year;

            ...Volt is among the safest cars on the road – earning 5 Stars for occupant safety and a Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety;

            ...And, 93 percent of Volt owners report the highest customer satisfaction with their car -- more than any other vehicle and the highest ever recorded in the industry.

Beyond the accolades, the Volt's importance to GM and our country's long term prospects is far reaching.

We engineered Volt to be the only EV that you can drive across town or across the country without fear of being stranded when the battery power is drained.

You can go 35 miles, and in some cases much more, on a single charge... which for 80 percent of American drivers is their total driving range.

After that, a small gas engine extends your range to 375 miles before you have to recharge or re-fill.
But, if the Volt message boards are any indication, there's some real one-upmanship going on out there – with customers reporting going months and thousands of miles without stopping once at a gas pump.

No other current EV can do this or 'generate' that much passion with its drivers.

We engineered Volt to give drivers a choice— to use energy produced in the United States rather than oil from places that may not always put America’s best interests first.

And, we engineered Volt to show the world what great vehicles we make at General Motors.
Unfortunately, there is one thing we did not engineer.  Although we loaded the Volt with state-of-the-art safety features -- we did not engineer the Volt to be a political punching bag.

And that, sadly, is what it’s become.

For all of the loose talk about fires, we are here today because tests by regulators resulted in battery fires under lab conditions that no driver would experience in the real world.

In fact, Volt customers have driven over 25 million miles without a single, similar incident.

In one test, the fire occurred seven days after a simulated crash.  In another, it took three weeks after the test.  Not three minutes.  Not three hours.  Not three days.  Three weeks.

Based on those test results, did we think there was an imminent safety risk?  No.

Or, as one of our customers put it:  if they couldn’t cut him out of the vehicle in two or three weeks, he had a bigger problem to worry about.

However, given those test results, GM had a choice on how we would react.  It was an easy call.

We put our customers first.  We moved fast and with great transparency to engineer a solution.

We contacted every Volt owner and offered them a loaner car until the issue was settled.  And if that wasn’t enough, we offered to buy the car back.

We assembled a team of engineers who worked non-stop to develop a modest enhancement to the battery system to address the issue.

We’ll begin adding the enhancement on the line and in customers’ cars in a few weeks.
And in doing so, we took a 5-star rated vehicle and made it even safer.

Nonetheless, these recent events have cast an undeserved, damaging light on a promising new American technology that we are exporting around the world, right from Detroit.

As the Wall Street Journal wrote in its Volt review:  We should suspend our rancor and savor a little American pride. A bunch of Midwestern engineers in bad haircuts and cheap wristwatches just out-engineered every other car company on the planet.

The Volt is safe.  It's a marvelous machine. It represents so much of what is right about General Motors and, frankly, about American ingenuity and manufacturing.

I look forward to taking your questions.

Thank you

General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM, TSX: GMM) and its partners produce vehicles in 30 countries, and the company has leadership positions in the world's largest and fastest-growing automotive markets.  GM’s brands include Chevrolet and Cadillac, as well as Baojun, Buick, GMC, Holden, Isuzu, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling. More information on the company and its subsidiaries, including OnStar, a global leader in vehicle safety, security and information services, can be found at http://www.gm.com.
###

Volt Vehicle Fire: What Did NHTSA Know & When Did They Know It?


The video recording of the House Oversight Committee on the Chevy Volt fire reported on here: GM's Akerson says Chevy Volt not designed to be a political punching bag



Monday, January 23, 2012

GM Faces Task of Rebuilding Volt Image After NHTSA Probe Ends

GM now has the task of repairing their image after the NHTSA closed the investigation into the Chevy Volt battery fire last summer.

GM Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson and David Strickland, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, are scheduled to testify Jan. 25 before a panel of the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform committee. The panel is probing the response to a June 6 fire in a Volt three weeks after the car was crash-tested.

“It’s not unlike a story that’s written that says somebody has committed a murder, and the next day they say, ‘Oh they didn’t, sorry,’” said Alan Baum, principal of Baum & Associates


http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-01-23/gm-faces-task-of-rebuilding-volt-image-after-nhtsa-probe-ends.html

For dying Orange County activist, Doug Korthof, an electric car rally

Doug Korthof has been involved with environmental activism for many years.  He's best known for his electric vehicle activism, and appeared in the movie Who Killed the Electric Car. 

The friends of a Seal Beach environmental activist suffering from terminal lung cancer filled a Los Alamitos home Sunday with memories of his vigorous campaigns, fiery emails and torrent of ideas -- along with a powerful sense of triumph.


http://www.ocregister.com/news/-336870--.html

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A look at the electric cars coming in 2012

The Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt were just the beginning, we take a look at the electric cars coming in 2012.

A look at the electric cars coming in 2012

Faster and longer range electric motorcycles coming in 2012

Electric cars aren't the only game in electrified vehicles, electric motorcycles are in a period of rapid growth in sales, companies, and capabilities.

Faster and longer range electric motorcycles coming in 2012

Going beyond hybrids, plug-in hybrid cars coming in 2012

Other than the Chevy Volt, 2012 will see the first introduction of commercially produced plug-in hybrid vehicles including the Ford C-MAX Energi, two cars from Fisker, and an actual honest to goodness officially produced Plug-in Prius manufactured by Toyota.

Going beyond hybrids, plug-in hybrid cars coming in 2012

Overhyped bashing of electric car charging station subsidies in the Washington Post

Demanding that electric cars solve global warming and foreign oil dependence overnight makes it impossible for electric cars to look like a success.


Overhyped bashing of electric car charging station subsidies in the Washington Post

Rep. Kelly's HR 3768 proposes repeal of electric car $7500 tax rebate

The government tried to close his car dealership, he fought back, and now as a Congressman Rep. Kelly wants to kill the electric car.

Rep. Kelly's HR 3768 proposes repeal of electric car $7500 tax rebate

Why is an oil stock owning Congress member pushing to end EV tax credits?

Perhaps when we think "oil companies want to kill electric cars" our imagination is running away with us, but when a Congressman who owns/owned millions of dollars in oil company stock, who is also a car dealer, and wants to kill electric cars, what else is our mind to think?

Why is an oil stock owning Congress member pushing to end EV tax credits?

Strong sales for 2011 Leaf and Volt shows bright promise rather than dismal flop

While many voices in politics and the media want us to believe electric cars, like the Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt, are failing, Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf cases show that their's is hardly the only interpretation of reality.


Strong sales for 2011 Leaf and Volt shows bright promise rather than dismal flop

Coda Automotive's excellent electric car value proposition

Start-up company Coda Automotive has developed a good looking electric car, that offers excellent value compared to the other electric cars in the $39k price range.


Coda Automotive's excellent electric car value proposition

Ford's Focus Electric can lower electricity bill, lengthen daily driving range

Ford's Focus Electric has implemented a combination of features to schedule charging times for lowest electricity cost, increase charging speed, improving the electric car usefulness and decreasing operating costs.

Ford's Focus Electric can lower electricity bill, lengthen daily driving range

Nissan unveils the e-NV200 electric van, prototype of Taxi of Tomorrow

The NV200 is Nissan's flexible multi-purpose vehicle, with the e-NV200 slated to be its zero emission electric model starting in 2017.

Nissan unveils the e-NV200 electric van, prototype of Taxi of Tomorrow

NHTSA approves of GM's Volt battery fix, expects to end investigation "real soon now"

Last week GM announced plans to fix the battery pack fire risk, over the weekend NHTSA says they approve of the fix.

NHTSA approves of GM's Volt battery fix, expects to end investigation "real soon now"

Did the NHTSA investigation into Chevy Volt fires "lower demand"?

A market research company with a questionable history concerning the facts claims demand for the Volt has lowered, when sales figures show the opposite.


Did the NHTSA investigation into Chevy Volt fires "lower demand"?

Via Motors introduces plug-in hybrid-electric truck in Detroit, partnering with PG&E

Via Motors unveiled today their "extended range electric" truck meant for commercial fleet customers, such as their partner Pacific Gas and Electric.


Via Motors introduces plug-in hybrid-electric truck in Detroit, partnering with PG&E

Daimler's Dr. Zetsche talks about internet-connected electric cars at CES

What's a car company Chairman doing at CES, in Las Vegas, when one of the largest auto shows in the industry (NAIAS) is happening the same time in Detroit?


Daimler's Dr. Zetsche talks about internet-connected electric cars at CES

Lowered demand in Chevy Volt due to price, not fires, interest in Nissan Leaf stable

Instead of showing that "federal investigation of three fires that occurred after Volt crash tests lowered demand for the Chevy Volt" a recent report instead shows interest in the Volt has fallen due to its price.


Lowered demand in Chevy Volt due to price, not fires, interest in Nissan Leaf stable

BMW delivers first ActiveE car to the first of 700 U.S. based Electronauts

The ActiveE is phase two of BMW's project i which is developing an electric car technology leading to launch of the BMW i3 and i8 in 2013.


BMW delivers first ActiveE car to the first of 700 U.S. based Electronauts

Nissan exploring a second life for Leaf battery packs in energy storage systems

After ten years in an electric car like the Nissan Leaf, its battery pack might still have 70% of its original capacity, theoretically making it reusable in the smart grid.


Nissan exploring a second life for Leaf battery packs in energy storage systems

GM's CEO to testify before Rep. Issa's committee on Chevy Volt fire

The firestorm over the Chevy Volt battery pack fire is moving next week to a hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the hearing is to feature Dan Akerson, GM's CEO.


GM's CEO to testify before Rep. Issa's committee on Chevy Volt fire

Should GM kill the Chevy Volt, stand pat, or create the Volt2?

Should GM cave in to the negative PR and politically motivated controversy over the Chevy Volt, or should they move boldly forward with their electric vehicle plans?


Should GM kill the Chevy Volt, stand pat, or create the Volt2?

Gen Y may lead us to hybrid and electric cars with awesome apps

Younger auto-buyers are overwhelmingly looking for highly fuel efficient, hybrid, cars, with advanced infotainment features.


Gen Y may lead us to hybrid and electric cars with awesome apps

Natural gas from Shale not a clean "bridge fuel" and may worsen climate change

Some promote natural gas as a clean fuel for transportation that can solve both the climate change and energy security crises, but a paper released last week in Climate News casts doubt on that direction.

A team led by Robert Howarth, Renee Santoro, and Anthony Ingraffea of Cornell Univ created a comprehensive study of methane emissions from the natural gas industry, including that part that's using hydraulic fracturing to avoid the peak of natural gas production. Methane is of course a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, and when burned methane becomes CO2. Howarth's team found that much methane leaks from two sources: a) immediately following a frack job, b) from the aging pipeline infrastructure.

The natural gas industry accounts for 39 percent of the U.S. total methane emissions. The natural gas industry already accounts for 17 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, and this is expected to grow to 23 percent as shale gas production expands.

Howarth's team felt the methane leakages from shale gas could be captured and prevented from leaking into the atmosphere. However the natural gas (methane) leaking from the aging pipeline infrastructure is not easily fixable due to the immense cost of rebuilding the gas pipelines. They ask whether the money that would be used to fix the pipelines would be better spent on research into renewable energy technology.




Natural gas from Shale not a clean "bridge fuel" and may worsen climate change

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Letter to NHTSA December 7, from House Oversight Committee

As noted in GM's CEO to testify before Rep. Issa's committee on Chevy Volt fire, a letter was sent by the House Oversight Committee to the NHTSA demanding a whole bunch of information.  It's clearly a witchhunt.


Letter to NHTSA December 7, from House Oversight Committee

GM's CEO to testify before Rep. Issa's committee on Chevy Volt fire

The firestorm over the Chevy Volt battery pack fire is moving next week to a hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the hearing is to feature Dan Akerson, GM's CEO.




GM's CEO to testify before Rep. Issa's committee on Chevy Volt fire

Monday, January 16, 2012

A123 Systems supplying batteries to both BMW and Via Motors

A123 Systems made supply agreements recently detailed below.  The first is to supply battery packs to BMW for the ActiveHybrid vehicles that BMW plans to introduce soon (?2013?).  The second is supplying battery packs for Via Motors in the extended range electric vehicle style plug-in trucks that VIA Motors is making.


A123 Systems Congratulates BMW on Launch of ActiveHybrid 5 and ActiveHybrid 3 Hybrid Electric Vehicles

Cutting-Edge HEVs Combine Robust Electronics and Advanced Energy Management Technologies Powered by A123's Nanophosphate(R) Lithium Ion Battery Technology

WALTHAM, Mass., Jan. 11, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A123 Systems (Nasdaq:AONE), a developer and manufacturer of advanced Nanophosphate® lithium ion batteries and systems, congratulates BMW on the launch of the ActiveHybrid 3 and ActiveHybrid 5 hybrid electric vehicles, which are on display at the 2012 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. Consistent with BMW's commitment to automotive engineering excellence, these vehicles combine innovative systems that are designed to deliver both increased fuel economy and superior driving performance. A123 is pleased to be the lithium ion battery supplier for both the ActiveHybrid 3 and ActiveHybrid 5.

"We believe that the ActiveHybrid 5 and ActiveHybrid 3 are truly remarkable vehicles. They employ sophisticated power electronics and advanced energy management technologies that showcase BMW's commitment to both cutting-edge innovation and environmental responsibility," said Jason Forcier, vice president of the Automotive Solutions Group at A123. "These systems require robust batteries to maximize their efficiency and performance, so we believe that BMW's selection of A123 as the battery supplier for the ActiveHybrid 5 and ActiveHybrid 3 is strong validation for our advanced Nanophosphate lithium ion technology. We look forward to working with BMW as it continues to embrace vehicle electrification."

The ActiveHybrid 5 and ActiveHybrid 3 use A123's 32113 batteries, which are designed to deliver the high power, increased usable energy, extended life and overall performance capabilities necessary to meet the requirements of the advanced systems integrated into each vehicle.
For example, according to BMW, the ActiveHybrid 5 is equipped with an ECO PRO mode, which can switch off the internal combustion engine while the vehicle is coasting, as well as a customized Hybrid Auto Start-Stop function that shuts off the engine while the vehicle is stopped and restarts it when the car accelerates. Both systems are designed to draw power to run the vehicle's electronics from the A123 lithium ion batteries when the engine is off, providing for a consistent driving experience. The batteries are charged when the vehicle is coasting or braking, and A123's Nanophosphate technology is designed with a high charge-acceptance rate, enabling the batteries to absorb and save the maximum amount of energy possible, which is expected to enhance the capabilities and increase the efficiency of these systems.

About A123 Systems 

A123 Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq:AONE) is a leading developer and manufacturer of advanced lithium-ion batteries and energy storage systems for transportation, electric grid and commercial applications. The company's proprietary Nanophosphate® technology is built on novel nanoscale materials initially developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is designed to deliver high power and energy density, increased safety and extended life. A123 leverages breakthrough technology, high-quality manufacturing and expert systems integration capabilities to deliver innovative solutions that enable customers to bring next-generation products to market. For additional information please visit www.a123systems.com.
 Safe Harbor Disclosure

This press release includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 that are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors, including statements with respect to the expected production and availability of BMW's ActiveHybrid 5 HEV and ActiveHybrid 3 HEV, and their anticipated performance, efficiency, benefits and features, as well as the expected demand by BMW for battery cells to be supplied by A123, the expected performance of such battery cells and their ability to meet the ActiveHybrid 5's and ActiveHybrid's 3 requirements, and the market for alternative-energy transportation in passenger vehicle  transportation applications. Among the factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated by such forward-looking statements are: delays in customer and market demand for and adoption of BMW's ActiveHybrid 5 HEV or ActiveHybrid 3 HEV, delays in the development, production and supply of A123's  32113 battery cells, adverse economic conditions in general and adverse economic conditions specifically affecting the markets in which A123 and BMW operate and other risks detailed in A123 Systems' 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2011 and other publicly available filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. All forward-looking statements reflect A123's expectations only as of the date of this release and should not be relied upon as reflecting A123's views, expectations or beliefs at any date subsequent to the date of this release.

CONTACT: A123 Systems PR Contact:
         A123 Systems
         Dan Borgasano
         617-972-3471
         dborgasano@a123systems.com
         
         Edelman
         Courtney Kessler
         212-277-3720
         courtney.kessler@edelman.com
         
         A123 Systems IR Contact:
         ICR, LLC
         Garo Toomajanian
         617-972-3450
         ir@a123systems.com

A123 Systems to Supply Advanced Lithium Ion Battery Packs to VIA Motors for Extended-Range Electric Trucks

WALTHAM, Mass., Jan. 5, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A123 Systems (Nasdaq:AONE), a developer and manufacturer of advanced Nanophosphate®lithium ion batteries and systems, today announced that it will supply complete lithium ion battery packs to VIA Motors, an electric vehicle company building next-generation electrified trucks, vans and SUVs. To be integrated into VIA's Extended-Range Electric Vehicle (eREV) Powertrain, A123's 24kWh battery packs combine with a 300kW electric motor and an onboard generator to deliver an expected all-electric driving range of up to 40 miles.

"VIA plans to ramp up production significantly over the next three years to satisfy demand for clean, fuel-efficient full-size trucks and SUVs," said Kraig Higginson, CEO of VIA Motors. "We selected A123's Nanophosphate lithium ion battery systems because they are able to package higher power into a compact space in the vehicle."


VIA offers a full lineup of extended-range electric trucks, vans and SUVs called VTRUX, each equipped with the company's eREV Powertrain. In addition to supporting an expected all-electric range of about 40 miles, A123's lithium ion battery systems are also designed to provide exportable power capabilities that can be used externally. A123 has already begun producing the battery packs at its Livonia, Mich. facility as VIA has started delivering trucks to commercial fleet customers.
"We believe that the high power, greater usable energy and long life offered by our Nanophosphate lithium ion battery solutions will help VIA better position its eREV Powertrain platform as a cost-effective solution to maximize vehicle range and increase fuel economy," said Jason Forcier, vice president of A123's Automotive Solutions Group. "We think that commercial and government fleets represent a tremendous opportunity for vehicle electrification, and we look forward to working with VIA Motors to design eREV trucks, vans and SUVs that meet fleet customers' needs for efficient, environmentally friendly vehicles that also satisfy their performance, range and reliability requirements."


About A123 Systems 

 
A123 Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq:AONE) is a leading developer and manufacturer of advanced lithium-ion batteries and energy storage systems for transportation, electric grid and commercial applications. The company's proprietary Nanophosphate® technology is built on novel nanoscale materials initially developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is designed to deliver high power and energy density, increased safety and extended life. A123 leverages breakthrough technology, high-quality manufacturing and expert systems integration capabilities to deliver innovative solutions that enable customers to bring next-generation products to market. For additional information please visit www.a123systems.com .


Safe Harbor Disclosure

 
This press release includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 that are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors, including statements with respect to including statements with respect to the expected production and availability of VIA's  Extended-Range Electric Vehicle (eREV), and its anticipated performance, benefits and features, as well as the expected demand by VIA for battery packs to be supplied by A123, the expected performance of such battery packs and their ability to meet the eREV's requirements, and the market for alternative-energy transportation in commercial vehicle  fleet and consumer transportation applications. Among the factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated by such forward-looking statements are: delays in customer and market demand for and adoption of VIA's eREV, delays in the development, production and supply of A123's  battery packs, adverse economic conditions in general and adverse economic conditions specifically affecting the markets in which A123 and VIA operate and other risks detailed in A123 Systems' 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2011 and other publicly available filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. All forward-looking statements reflect A123's expectations only as of the date of this release and should not be relied upon as reflecting A123's views, expectations or beliefs at any date subsequent to the date of this release.

CONTACT: A123 Systems PR Contact:

         A123 Systems

         Dan Borgasano

         617-972-3471

         dborgasano@a123systems.com

         

         A123 Systems IR Contact:

         ICR, LLC

         Garo Toomajanian

         617-956-6725

         ir@a123systems.com

         

         Edelman

         Courtney Kessler

         212-277-3720

         courtney.kessler@edelman.com

Thursday, January 5, 2012

GM announces safety enhancing fix for Chevy Volt battery pack

GM held a press conference today to announce preliminary results of the investigation into the Chevy Volt battery pack fire, and a modification they've developed to fix the vulnerability. 

The battery pack modifications entail these steps:
  • Strengthen the Volt's safety structures and battery pack containment to protect the battery pack in side impact collisions
  • Add sensors to the coolant reservoir to monitor coolant levels
  • Add a bracket to prevent overfilling the coolant reservoir
GM will conduct what's called a "Customer Satisfaction Program" to install these modifications in the Chevy Volt fleet, at GM's expense.  This sort of program is essentially a recall, but is not conducted through the NHTSA and does not have the full stature of a recall.  Volt owners have begun receiving registered letters from GM explaining the findings and the process for having modifications installed in their cars.

GM announces safety enhancing fix for Chevy Volt battery pack

Statement of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration On General Motors' Plan to Address Potential Fire Risk in Chevy Volts 

GM Announces Enhancements to Chevrolet Volt

Statement of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration On General Motors' Plan to Address Potential Fire Risk in Chevy Volts

WASHINGTON, DC — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued the following statement today on the plan announced by General Motors for addressing the potential risk of fire in Chevy Volts that have been involved in a serious crash:

As the primary safety agency tasked with reducing fatalities and injuries on our nation’s roadways, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is deeply committed to saving lives and protecting motorists. That’s why over the past four decades, NHTSA has built a robust, data-driven program to identify, assess, and help address potential safety defects in the more than 254 million registered vehicles in the United States.

In keeping with the agency’s core safety mission, NHTSA opened a safety defect investigation into the potential risk of fire in Chevy Volts that have been involved in a serious crash on November 25. The agency has not concluded that investigation and is continuing to gather and assess information on the post-crash fire risk in these vehicles.

Based on the work that NHTSA has already completed — under the observation of representatives of General Motors and in close consultation and collaboration with experts from the Department of Energy, and the Department of Defense — it appears that both battery intrusion and coolant leakage must be present to enable post-crash fire in the Volt. While the agency remains unaware of any fires from real-world crashes involving the Volt, each of the known cases of fire resulting from laboratory crash tests included these conditions.

NHTSA crashed a Chevy Volt retrofitted with GM’s newly designed steel reinforcement device in a side-pole impact test on December 22. The results of that crash test showed no intrusion into the vehicle’s battery compartment, and no coolant leakage was apparent. As a precaution, NHTSA has monitored the crashed vehicle since the test and will continue to do so for one more week. However, the preliminary results of the crash test indicate the remedy proposed by General Motors today should address the issue of battery intrusion.

In the coming weeks, NHTSA will complete the analysis of the overall research undertaken since the initial fire incident in June. The agency will make public its conclusions and any corresponding implications for consumers, the emergency response community, and tow truck operators and storage facility managers upon closure of the safety defect investigation.

For additional information on the Volt investigation and others, visit www.SaferCar.gov.

From: http://www.nhtsa.gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/2012/Statement+of+National+Highway+Traffic+Safety+Administration+On+General+Motors%27+Plan+to+Address+Potential+Fire+Risk+in+Chevy+Volts

See also: http://blog.greentransportation.info/2012/01/gm-announces-enhancements-to-chevrolet.html



GM Announces Enhancements to Chevrolet Volt

WARREN, Mich. – General Motors today announced enhancements to the vehicle structure and battery coolant system in the Chevrolet Volt that would further protect the battery from the possibility of an electrical fire occurring days or weeks after a severe crash.

The enhancements come in response to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Preliminary Evaluation to examine post-severe crash battery performance.

NHTSA opened its Preliminary Evaluation on Nov. 25 following a severe-impact lab test on a battery pack that resulted in an electrical fire six days later. The test was conducted to reproduce a coolant leak that occurred in a full-scale vehicle crash test last May that resulted in an electrical fire three weeks later.



The Volt is a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and has earned other safety awards from key third-party organizations.  Through the first 11 months of 2011, Volt owners accumulated nearly 20 million miles without an incident similar to the results in the NHTSA tests.
“The Volt has always been safe to drive. Now, we will go the extra mile to ensure our customers’ peace of mind in the days and weeks following a severe crash,” said Mary Barra, GM senior vice president of Global Product Development.

GM will conduct a Customer Satisfaction Program to further protect the Volt battery from the possibility of an electrical fire occurring days or weeks after a severe side crash. Modifications will:
  • Strengthen an existing portion of the Volt’s vehicle safety structure to further protect the battery pack in a severe side collision.
  • Add a sensor in the reservoir of the battery coolant system to monitor coolant levels.
  • Add a tamper-resistant bracket to the top of the battery coolant reservoir to help prevent potential coolant overfill.
GM conducted four successful crash tests between Dec. 9 and 21 of Volts with the structural enhancement. The enhancement performed as intended. There was no intrusion into the battery pack and no coolant leakage in any of the tests.

“These enhancements and modifications will address the concerns raised by the severe crash tests,” Barra said. “There are no changes to the Volt battery pack or cell chemistry as a result of these actions. We have tested the Volt’s battery system for more than 285,000 hours, or 25 years, of operation. We’re as confident as ever that the cell design is among the safest on the market.”
Volt customers will be individually notified when the modifications are available for their vehicles. The enhancements are being incorporated into the Volt manufacturing process as production resumes this month.

“We’re focused on one thing right now: doing what’s right by our customers,” said GM North America President Mark Reuss. “We’ll live up to our commitment to make sure our customers are delighted with their purchase.”

Vehicle electrification technologies are important to future of the automotive industry, which is why GM will continue its leadership role in helping the Society of Automotive Engineers develop standards that will help tow truck operators, salvage yards and vehicle recyclers in the proper handling of electric vehicle components. GM will help develop educational materials that can be used by these stakeholders in the future.

General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM, TSX: GMM) and its partners produce vehicles in 30 countries, and the company has leadership positions in the world's largest and fastest-growing automotive markets.  GM’s brands include Chevrolet and Cadillac, as well as Baojun, Buick, GMC, Holden, Isuzu, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling. More information on the company and its subsidiaries, including OnStar, a global leader in vehicle safety, security and information services, can be found at http://www.gm.com.





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Marry Barra Remarks on fixing Chevy Volt Battery Pack


Mark Reuss Remarks on Fixing Chevy Volt Packs


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

DOE Researchers Achieve Important Genetic Breakthroughs to Help Develop Cheaper Biofuels

December 22, 2011 - 2:26pm

Washington D.C. – Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) announced today a major breakthrough in engineering systems of RNA molecules through computer-assisted design, which could lead to important improvements across a range of industries, including the development of cheaper advanced biofuels. Scientists will use these new “RNA machines”, to adjust genetic expression in the cells of microorganisms. This will enable scientists to develop new strains of Escherichia coli (E. coli) that are better able to digest switchgrass biomass and convert released sugars to form three types of transportation fuels – gasoline, diesel and jet fuels.

"This is a perfect example of how our investments in basic science innovations can pave the way for future industries and solutions to our nation’s most important challenges,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “This breakthrough at the Joint BioEnergy Institute holds enormous potential for the sustainable production of advanced biofuels and countless other valuable goods.”

A breakthrough with E. coli could make it cheaper to produce fuel from switchgrass or other non-food biomass plants to create advanced biofuels with the potential to replace gasoline. While the work at JBEI remains focused on the development of advanced biofuels, JBEI’s researchers believe that their concepts may help other researchers to develop many other desired products, including biodegradable plastics and therapeutic drugs. For example, some researchers have already started a project to investigate how to use the “RNA machines” to increase the safety and efficacy of medicine therapies to treat diseases, including diabetes and Parkinson's.

Biological systems are incredibly complex, which makes it difficult to engineer systems of microorganisms that will produce desired products in predictable amounts. JBEI’s work, which will be featured in the December 23rd issue of Science magazine, is the first of its kind to set up and adjust a RNA system in a predictable way.

Specifically, researchers focused their design-driven approach on RNA sequences that can fold into complicated three dimensional shapes, called ribozymes and aptazymes. By using JBEI-developed computer-assisted models and simulations, researchers then created complex RNA-based control systems that are able to program a large number of genes. In microorganisms, ”commands” that are sent into the cell will be processed by the RNA-based control systems, enabling them to help develop desired products.

One of the major goals of synthetic biology is to produce valuable chemical products from simple, inexpensive and renewable starting materials in a sustainable manner. Computer-assisted models and simulations like the one JBEI developed are essential for doing so. Up to this point, such tools for biology have been very limited and JBEI’s breakthrough in applying computer assisted design marks an important technical and conceptual achievement for this field. To view additional details about this research, visit http://newscenter.lbl.gov/news-releases/2011/12/22/cad-for-rna/.

JBEI, led by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is one of three Bioenergy Research Centers established by the DOE’s Office of Science in 2007. For more information, visitwww.jbei.org.

Energy Department Awards Nearly $7 Million for Research to Reduce Costs of Electric Vehicle Chargers

December 21, 2011 - 12:49pm

As part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to reduce America’s dependence on oil through advanced vehicle technologies, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced awards totaling nearly $7 million in research and development funding that will help to reduce the current costs of electric vehicle chargers by 50 percent over the next three years. With support from the Energy Department, manufacturers in California, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania will work to improve the development and design of charging equipment. This research will promote “smart” charging capabilities that can help ensure electric vehicles enhance, rather than strain, existing electrical grid capacity.

“Improving the functionality and affordability of electric vehicle chargers is an important step in supporting the deployment of electric vehicles that can help to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil,” said Secretary Chu. “Developing smart electric vehicle chargers will provide more options to consumers and accelerate the build-out of charging infrastructure in ways that strengthen the electric grid.”

With electric vehicles, smart chargers and smart grid technologies, the grid can more efficiently manage the availability and reliability of power, especially during peak times and at popular charging locations.

Two of the four selected projects will focus on improving electric vehicle chargers that attach to consumers’ homes and are used by the owners to charge their vehicles while they are at home. The other two selected projects will focus on chargers used at commercial and public locations to charge large numbers of vehicles, including commercial fleets of delivery vehicles.

The four projects selected for awards are listed below. These research and development investments will leverage additional investments from the industry grantees. Final award amounts are subject to negotiation.

Delta Products Corporation – Fremont, California

DOE share: $1,997,450; Recipient share: $1,441,770

Delta will streamline the development of residential electric vehicle chargers that rely on low-cost secure wireless networks that can connect the chargers directly to electric utilities. The project will work to minimize the cost of communications between the charger and the electric utility and, at the same time, meet the local demand for smart charging.

Siemens Corporate Research – Princeton, New Jersey

DOE share: $1,617,619; Recipient share: $747,552

Siemens will redesign its current electric vehicle supply equipment system and charging stations in residential areas to enable flexible, intelligent control of charging, so that power quality and service reliability are maintained on the local distribution grid.

General Electric Global Research – Niskayuna, New York

DOE share: $1,362,318; Recipient share: $819,365

General Electric will improve the design and infrastructure for commercial chargers for fleets of electric vehicles operated by companies, including FedEx.

Eaton Corporation – Moon Township, Pennsylvania

DOE share: $1,837,004; Recipient share: $991,418

Eaton will develop and demonstrate commercial electric vehicle chargers that can work with and support the smart grid, including providing two-way communications with the electric utility and coordinating with a community’s smart meter network.

For more information about the benefits of a modern grid, visit the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability's website.