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Lexus pioneered hybrids in the luxury segment, but for the foreseeable future it intends to put a halt on gasoline-electric tech, giving a pass to lithium-ion batteries in favor of the same nickle-metal hydride units the company has relied on for years.
Underwriters Laboratories (UL), the U.S. company responsible for developing product safety tests, is revamping the lithium-ion battery standards.
Recently, the University of Wyoming’s researchers released data that showed the state’s Rock Springs Uplift could provide up to 18-million tons of lithium.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is backing away from its previously announced plan to see 1 million electric cars on U.S. roads by 2015, saying the timeline isn’t really all that important.
Specifications for the U.S.-built 2013 Nissan Leaf EV are still unavailable, but its official unveiling during the Detroit Auto Show on January 15 is drawing very near.
A year riddled with controversy for electric cars is winding down, but not without at least one more flare up — Chinese firm Wanxiang Group won the bidding war for A123 Systems.
Bankrupt battery maker A123 Systems was scheduled to go up for auction today behind closed doors at a Chicago law firm, but the list of bidders is likely to cause trouble.
From in-car technology to turbocharging, there is perhaps no other trend that’s fundamentally changing new cars more than the move to dramatically reduce the weight of modern vehicles.
Prices might be falling soon on the cost to produce electric vehicles, which means (hopefully) that the MSRP will fall soon as well.
A new report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance shows the cost of lithium ion batteries falling 14 percent over this time last year. Furthermore, prices took a 30 percent swan dive since 2009.
The recent stories of the Tesla Roadster “bricking” will likely cause owners of other electric vehicles to worry. We’ve managed to track down and get a comment about the measures in place that can prevent other EVs from becoming damaged like the Tesla.
A “bricked” car is a lot like a bricked gadget. It can’t and won’t turn on, and is essentially useless (unless you want to use it as a giant and expensive paperweight).
The story is that an owner let his Roadster die and left it uncharged for two months. The car then couldn’t be turned on or started, or re-charged. When the car was taken for repairs it was found that it would cost $40,000 to fix the vehicle.
It’s stated several times in the Roadster’s owner’s manual not to leave the vehicle discharged for an extended period of time. Specifically: “Situations may arise when in which you must leave your vehicle unplugged for an extended period of time. If this is the case, it is your responsibility to ensure that the battery does not become fully depleted.” Lastly, “Over-discharge can permanently damage the battery.” While it’s clear that owner negligence caused this damage, some blame can be put on the manufacturer to have more safety measures to protect the vehicle.
Nissan states that the Leaf cannot be fully discharged “thanks to an advanced battery management system designed to protect the battery from damage. One element of the battery management system is a failsafe wall that stops the battery from reaching absolute zero state-of-charge, even after a period of unplugged storage,”Steve Yaegar, Nissan’s technology communications manager said.
Still there are some warnings in the Leaf’s manual that advises owners to take proper care of its battery. One of the more conspicuous warnings says: “Avoid leaving your vehicle for over 14 days where the Li-ion battery available charge gauge reaches a zero or near zero (state of charge)”
When pushed, Yaegar skirted the issue of what would happen to a Leaf if a user ignored that advice.
While the Chevrolet has a gas generator to help keep the battery charged, what would happen if the battery is discharged completely? Nothing really. Chevrolet spokesperson Robert Peterson told us “This isn’t an issue for the Volt. The Volt uses only 10.4 kW of its 16 kWh battery. The rest of the battery space serves as a buffer to prevent overcharging or deep discharging.”
In the i-MiEV’s warranty manual, Mitsubishi states that the standard warranty does not cover any damages to the Li-Ion battery resulting from “failure to keep the main drive lithium-ion battery charged during storage of the vehicle.”
John Arnone a representative from Mitsubishi, said that while the i-MiEV battery can be fully discharged, if left for a long period of time it will still be able to be recharged by the usual means.
It’s true that electric Smart cars aren’t really on sale (lease-only), a member of customer relations told us that the upcoming 2013 model shouldn’t encounter any issues if left discharged. She did warn us that it may take a bit longer to fully charge back up again though.
It’s clear that electric vehicles are in their infancy. Being able to drive about without paying for gas certainly is a huge benefit. However, potential electric car buyers are already concerned about cost, range anxiety and charge times. Looks like its time to add battery maintenance to that list of concerns.
Following on from the announcement that GM is looking at redesigning the Chevrolet Volt’s lithium-ion battery system in the wake of several highly publicized fires resulting from test crashes, comes further news that both the automaker and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration delayed disclosure of their original findings by months.
Apparently, way back in June, General Motors heard about a Volt fire that happened three weeks after said vehicle was crash tested, yet it wasn’t until November that the company, or NHTSA disclosed there was a potential problem, urging both dealers and customers to drain the battery pack immediately following an accident.
As a result the public relations nightmare surrounding Chevy’s halo vehicle appears to be deepening, though a good deal of the blame in this case also rests with NHTSA.
Joan Claybrook, a former adminstrator at NHTSA believes part of the reason for the delay was the “fragility of Volt sales.” Yet she also believes that “NHTSA could have put out a consumer alert, not to tell them [customers] for six months makes no sense to me.”
GM designed a complex cooling system for the Volt’s lithium ion battery pack to help regulate its temperature (lithium-ion units are known for overheating), yet until July it hadn’t finalized a standard proceedure to power down the battery system, the Volt had already been on sale in the US for six months at that juncture.
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, which crash tested a Volt back in February reported no incidents of fire as resulting from the accident, yet when a second crash test was performed in August, General Motors sent a technician to power down the battery.
An interesting point on the subject been raised by Clarence Ditlow, executive director for the Center of Auto Safety in Washington D.C. He said that he is “surprised that NHTSA didn’t drain the battery after crash testing as it is standard procedure to empty the fuel tank on conventional gasoline powered vehicles.” He also says that the NHTSA incident underlines the need for “greater transparency when conducting crash tests,” as well as setting proper industry standards when it comes to new technologies.
A spokesman for GM said the company felt it didn’t need to initially disclose the issue because the original fire was an isolated occurrence and happened some time after the vehicle was crashed. “It’s kind of odd in many respects,” said Rob Peterson. “The question became: What was making this happen and what do we have to do?”
Nonetheless in wake of the findings; GM is now working with both NHTSA and the Society of Automotive Engineers to develop standards for all electric vehicles when it comes to crash testing. It’s also continuing with its program of providing concerned Volt owners with free loaner vehicles; so far 33 of roughly 5,000 customers have signed up.
[Source: Automotive News]
Correction Notice: The original article claimed that 5,000 customers has signed up for loaner cars. That information was incorrect. In fact, 33 of roughly 5,000 owners have requested loaner vehicles from General Motors.
That choice, among others, came after Mercedes-Benz took over distribution of the brand in the U.S. last July. They also plan to scrap the current FourTwo (above) in favor of a new model developed in partnership with Renault, which will share the platform with their Twingo, though the new version won’t be available until 2014.
The 2012 FourTwo Electric will also get an improved interior and new lithium ion batteries from Deutsche Accumotive GmbH, a joint venture between Daimler and Evonik Industries.
[Source: Automotive News]