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Are the Hybrid Cars Here to Stay?

Overcoming the weak link, the battery

By Isidor Buchmann

Cadex Electronics Inc.

March 2007 The hybrid car is not new - Ferdinand Porsche designed the series-hybrid vehicle in 1898. Called the /Lohner-Porsche/ carriage, the hybrid function served as an electrical transmission rather than power boost. With Mr. Porsche in the driver's seat, the car broke several Austrian speed records, including the Exelberg Rally in 1901. Another example of an early hybrid was the 1915 /Woods Motor Vehicle/ built in Chicago. The car used a four-cylinder internal combustion engine and an electric motor. Below 15 mph (25 km/h), the electric motor propelled the vehicle; at higher speeds, the gasoline engine kicked in to take the vehicle up to a top speed of 35 mph (55 km/h). As part of the /Federal Clean Car Incentive Program/, Victor Wouk installed a hybrid drive train in a 1972 GM Buick Skylark but the EPA canceled the program in 1976. Meanwhile, Honda and Toyota have made strong headways by commercializing attractive and fuel-efficient hybrid cars.

The /hybrid electric vehicle/ (HEV) conserves fuel by using an electric motor that assists the internal-combustion engine (IC) on acceleration and harnesses kinetic energy during breaking. Furthermore, the IC motor turns off at stops and during slow travel. When full power is required, both the IC engine and the electric motors engage simultaneously to get
maximum boost. This power-sharing scheme offers two advantages; it calls for a smaller IC engine and improves acceleration because the electric motor has excellent torque characteristics.

Most HEVs use a mechanical drive train from the IC engine to the wheels.In this respect, the HEV is similar to an ordinary vehicle with crankshaft, clutch and transmission, with the difference of having an electric motor and a battery. This design is known as a /parallel
configuration/. Most up-and-coming /plug-in HEV/s use the serial configuration in which the wheels are powered by one or several electric motors. Instead of a mechanical link, the IC engine energizes a generator to produce electricity for the motor(s). Similar to a laptop
or a cell phone, the driver plugs the car into the AC outlet for an overnight charge. The typical driving range with a full charge is 20 miles or 32 km. On long trips, the IC engine engages to provide continuous power for the electric motors.

What's the best battery for the hybrid car?

The early HEV models used lead acid batteries because there was no alternative. Today, Honda and Toyota employ nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH). This chemistry is lighter and environmentally friendlier than lead-based systems. The battery consists of cylindrical cells that are connected in series to attain several hundred volts. The cell strings are suspended in mid air to allow air-cooling. Figure 1 shows a demonstration pack of
an early Toyota hybrid car battery.
Figure 1:
 The Nickel-metal hydride battery of a Toyota hybrid car. Cells (orange color) are supported to allow forced air-cooling. The battery is placed behind the back seat.Courtesy of the Toyota Museum, Nagaya, Japan

One of the critical battery requirements for hybrid applications is longevity. Rechargeable batteries for consumer products typically last for two to three years. This short service life is no major drawback with cell phones, laptops and digital cameras because the devices get obsolete quickly. At $2,000 to $3,000 per battery pack, the replacement cost of an HEV battery would constitute a major expense.

Most batteries for HEV are guaranteed for eight years. To meet this long service life, the cells are optimized for longevity and not size and weight, as is the case with portable applications. Since the battery runs on wheels, the increased weight and size is not too critical.

A NiMH for an HEV can be charged and discharged 1,000 times if done at an 80% depth-of-discharge. In a hybrid vehicle, a full discharge occurs seldom except if the owner lives on a mountain and requires all available battery power to commute home. Such a routine would add stress to the battery and the life would be shortened. In most other application, the hybrid car only uses 10% of the rated battery capacity. This allows thousands of charge/discharge cycles. Batteries in satellites use a similar system in which the battery discharges less than 10% during a satellite night. NASA achieves this by over-sizing the
battery.

One of the limitations of NiMH is moderate energy conversion efficiency.This translates to the battery getting hot on charge and discharge. The charge efficiency is best at 50-70% state-of-charge. Above 70% the battery cannot absorb the charge well and much of the charging energy is lost in heat. Operating a battery with a partial charge requires a larger mass that lowers the energy-to-weight ratio and efficiency.

The Japanese car manufacturers have tried several battery chemistries, including going back to lead-acid. Today, the focus is on Lithium-ion. The /cobalt-based Lithium-ion/ is one of the first chemistries in the lithium family and offers a very high energy density. Unfortunately, this battery system cannot deliver high currents and is restricted to
portable applications.

HEV manufacturers are experimenting with /manganese/ (spinel) and /phosphate/ versions. These Lithium-ion systems offer an extremely low internal resistance, deliver high load currents and accept rapid charge. Unlike the cobalt version, the resistance stays low throughout the life of the battery. To verify the characteristic of manganese-based Lithium-ion, a research lab applied 30,000 discharge/charge cycles over a period of seven years. Although the capacity dropped from 100% to 20%, the cell retained its low internal resistance. The drawback of manganese and phosphate is lower energy density but these systems provide 20% more capacity per weight than NiMH and three times more than Lead- acid.

Figure 2 illustrates the energy densities of the Lead, nickel and lithium based systems. It should be noted that Lithium-ion systems have the potential of higher energy densities but at the cost of lower safety and reduced cycle life.

Figure 2
Energy densities of common battery chemistries. Lithium-cobalt enjoys the highest energy density. Manganese and phosphate systems are thermally more stable and deliver higher loadcurrents than cobalt.
The Lithium-ion systems are promising candidates for both the HEV and plug-in HEV but require more research. Here are some of the roadblocks that need to be removed:

*Durability*: The buyer requests a warranty of ten years and more. Currently, the battery manufacturer for hybrid electric vehicles can only give eight years on NiMH. The longevity of Lithium-ion has not yet been proven and honoring eight years will be a challenge.

*Cost*: If the $2,000 to $3,000 replacement cost of a Nickel-metal-hydride pack is prohibitive, Lithium-ion will be higher. These systems are more expensive to produce than most other chemistries but have the potential for price reductions through improved
manufacturing methods. NiMH has reached the low cost plateau and cannot be reduced further because of high nickel prices.

*Safety*: Manganese and phosphate-based Lithium-ion batteries are inherently safer than cobalt. Cobalt gets thermally unstable at a moderate temperature of 150°C (300°F). Manganese and phosphate cells can reach 250°C (480°F) before becoming unsafe. In spite of the increased thermal stability, the battery requires expensive protection circuits to
supervise the cell voltages and limit the current in fail conditions.The safety circuit will also need to compensate for cell mismatch that occurs naturally with age. The recent reliability problems with Lithium-ion batteries in portable devices may delay entry into the HEV
market.

*Availability*: Manufacturers of manganese and phosphate cells can hardly keep up with the demand. A rapid demand increase for lithium in HEV batteries would put a squeeze on battery production. With 7 kg (15 lb) of lithium per battery, there is talk of raw material shortages. Most of the known supplies of lithium are in South America, Argentina, Chile and Bolivia.

The plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV)

Imagine a plug-in electric vehicle that can go 20 miles (32 km) with a single charge from the electrical outlet at home. There is no pollution and the neighbors won't hear you coming and going because the vehicle is totally silent. With the absence of gas tax, the road system is yours to use for free. Or is it?

As good as this may sound, the savings will be small or non-existent because of the battery. Dr. Menahem Anderman, a leading expert on advanced automobile batteries, says that we still have no suitable battery for the plug-in HEV and that the reliability of Lithium-ion technology for automotive applications has not yet been proven. Unlike the ordinary HEV that operates on shallow charges and discharges, the plug-in HEV operates in a charge depletion mode that requires deep discharges. To obtain an acceptable driving range, the PHEV battery will need to be five times larger than the HEV battery. With an estimated life span of 1000 full charge and discharge cycles, the battery would need to be replaced every three years. At an estimated $10,000 per battery replacement, the anticipated cost savings would be quickly exhausted.

*Modern cars do more than provide transportation; they also include auxiliary devices for safety, comfort and pleasure. The most basic of these auxiliaries are the headlights and windshield wipers. Most buyers would also want heating and air-conditioning systems. These amenities are taken for granted in gasoline-powered vehicles and will need to be
used sparingly in a PHEV. *

*Analysts give another 10 years before a viable plug-in HEV will be available. The promise of  a clean-burning fuel cell car is still vivid in our memory. Analysts now estimate 20 years before the fuel cell is ready for mass-produced cars. There are rumors that the fuel cell may never make it into an ordinary car. If this is true, a dream will go down in history with the steam-powered airplane of the mid 1800s that was simply too cumbersome to fly.*

The paradox of the hybrid vehicle

At the Advanced Automotive Battery Conference in Hawaii, a delegate member challenged a maker of HEVs with the claim that a German diesel car can get better fuel economy than the hybrid. The presiding speaker, being a trained salesman, flatly denied this notion. There is some truth to his claim, however. On the highway, the diesel car is indeed more
fuel-efficient but the HEV has the advantage in city driving. Power boost for fast acceleration and regenerative breaking are advantages that the German diesel does not offer.

Someone then asked, “What would happen if the HEV depletes its batteries while driving up a long mountain pass? Will the car have enough power?” The answer was that the car would make it with the IC engine alone but the maneuverability would be a restraint. To compensate for this eventuality, some HEV manufacturers offer SUVs featuring a full-sized IC motor of 250 hp and an electrical motor at 150 hp; 400 hp in total. Such a vehicle would shurely find buyers, especially if the government provides grant money for being `green.' It's unfortunate that the buyers of a small car or the commuters taking public transport won't qualify for such a handout.

Conclusion

We anticipate that Lithium-ion will eventually replace Nickel-metal hydride in hybrid electric vehicles but short service life, high manufacturing costs and safety issues will stand in its way today. We need to remind ourselves that the automotive market can only tolerate
a marginal cost increase for a new battery technology. In terms of added capacity, Lithium-ion offers only a 20% increase in energy density per weight over nickel-based systems. The Nickel-metal hydride has proven to work well in current HEVs and a new chemistry would need to offer definite advantages over present systems to find buyers.

Toyota, Honda and Ford are leading in HEV technology. Other major automakers are expected to offer competitive models by 2010. Currently, Panasonic EV Energy and Sanyo supply over 90% of the HEV batteries. Both companies are also developing Lithium-ion batteries.

While Japan and Korea are focusing on manganese systems, the USA is experimenting with phosphate, the chemistry that made the A123 Systems famous. Europe is relying on clean-burning diesel. These engines are so clean that they won't even stain a tissue that is placed on the exhaust pipe. BMW is working on a zero emission hydrogen car.

Time will tell who will be the winner in the race for cleaner, more fuel-savvy vehicles and longer-living cars. In terms of longevity, the diesel would be the winner today. We hope that future batteries will one-day have the endurance to match or exceed the robust diesel engine.


References:

Menahem Anderman, Status and Prospect of Battery Technologies for Hybrid Electric Vehicles, including Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles, January 2007.

About the Author

Isidor Buchmann is the founder and CEO of Cadex Electronics Inc., in Vancouver BC.
Mr. Buchmann has a background in radio communications and has studied the behavior of rechargeable batteries in practical, everyday applications for two decades. Award winning author of many articles and books on batteries, Mr. Buchmann has delivered technical papers around the world.


Cadex Electronics is a manufacturer of advanced battery chargers,attery analyzers and PC software. For product information please visit www.cadex.com.
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Demand for Rare Earths

Microsoft Excel Chart
 Two rare earths, cerium  and lanthanum, are used in forming an alloy for the  manufacture of   Nickel- metal hydride batteries. These batteries are used in  such hybrids as the Toyota Prius.  AutoNation, the largest U.S. auto retailer, noted that hybrid vehicle sales in the U.S.  could triple in the next five years, thus a need for more batteries.

Between 10 kilograms and 12 kilograms of rare earths are used in the manufacturer of  each Nickel-metal hydride battery used in a hybrid; these rare earths comprise about 30 percent of the battery’s weight, according to Matthew James of Lynas Corp. of Australia.

Lynas Corp. is spending $65.5 million on developing the world’s second largest rare earths project in Australia.

(Data for the chart is based on projections by Lynas Corp.) +
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 (March 2006) Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd. works with Volkswagen AG to jointly develop   Nickel-metal hydride  battery for hybrids.  Sanyo already provides batteries to Honda and Ford for their hybrid vehicles.   According to a spokesman for Sanyo, the company’s goal is to secure half the global market share of batteries for hybrids by 2010.
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 (Feb 2006) Setting the Standard for Hybrid Cars
Five years of tehcnological evolution has brought the Toyota Prius to a level of complexity which improves the mileage and emissions by clever combinations of mechnaical and electrical design. No longer just a series or parallel configuration, the Toyota “Hybrid Synergy Drive” uses a combination to provide maximum efficiency. The IC engine which drives a charging and starting motor generator can recharge the battery or provide torque through a planetary gear to the wheels. A second motor generator provides startup torque from the Nickel-metal hydride battery at speeds to 20 mph. This second motor generator also provides dynamic braking. The Planetry gear can mix torque to the motor generator 1 while supplying torque to the wheels from motor generator 2 and the engine, but it always targets performance to run the IC engine in its most efficient  mode. See the story for a detailed description of this system.

Prius sales in the U.S. have doubled in the past year and are expected to again double in 2006 to 100,000 cars. Worldwide, more than 300,000 Prius have been sold since the introduction in 1997. Toyota road test results  show no concern for the 8/10 year battery warantees. This hybrid vehicle is available for the $2,000 U. S. clean air fuel tax deduction and is exempt from the London Congestion Charge, of potentially £1110.

Electronic Design, November 7, 2005, pp.41-48
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 WHAT MAKES A HYBRID HOT
“Buyers seem to prefer ones that feel, um, wierd to drive.” Is the attraction cleaner air and energy independence or image? The premium over regular models reaches $11,110 for the Lexus which would pay for over 500 gallons of gas which would take a non-hybrid over 15,000 miles.
Business Week, November 14, 2005
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 GM AND DAIMLER ARE STEPPING ON IT
In order to catch up to the Toyota hybrid offerings now well into its second generation, GM and Daimler are forming  a team to develop hybrids for the market by 2007. By that time, Toyota will have 200,000 hybrids on the road backed by significant patents, and manufacturing and support experience. GM plans to offer an SUV which will improve gas mileage by 25% to 21 MPG (Ed note: burp!).
Business Week, December 27, 2004, p. 49
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Microsoft Excel Chart The total light hybrid-electric vehicle demand for the  world will be 4.5 million  units by 2013.  In 2003, there were already  94,000 units and by 2008 the number will grow to 770,000.  HEV growth  is accelerating because of rising energy costs and increased emissions regulations.  By 2013, HEVs are expected to represent over six percent of world light vehicle demand.  Primary markets are expected to be within the Triad countries (i.e., the U.S., Western Europe and Japan) although there will be much larger gains for HEVs in the U.S. and Japan; in Europe, where car diesel demand has already exceed 40 percent of the total passenger car market, HEV growth is projected to be much slower. China may also be another strong market.

HEV  technologies have already become quite robust in terms of reliability and durability, given their comparatively brief presence in the market.  The two main HEV categories are full hybrids, which are defined as vehicles featuring battery packs with Voltage levels above the 42-Volt threshold; and mild hybrids, which feature 42-Volt and lower systems and include “stop/start” systems and belt-driven hybrid assist systems.  Of the two, the mild hybrid  hybrid form is expected to become pervasive, due to its lower cost and the greater ease with which these systems can be added to conventional vehicle platforms already in production.

 (Information and data for this chart are from “World Light Hybrid-Electric Vehicles” published by the Freedonia Group, Inc. 12/2004. The entire report is $5,100. For more information see their website: www.freedoniagroup.com) +
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 By 2011, J.D. Power and Associates projects there will be 35 hybrid models on the market.   As the market grows, Nickel-metal hydride batteries, which currently power these vehicles, could be in tight supply.  

Ford has already announced in October that it may face a shortage of batteries from Sanyo for  its hybrid Escape. “Limited availability of Nickel-metal hydride battery packs from the supplier Sanyo will cap Escape Hybrid production at around 20,000 units in 2005,” says Ford Division President Steve Lyons.  Ford also hopes to launch the Mercury Mariner and Ford Fusion in a hybrid configuration by 2007.

Toyota plans to increase it production of its Prius hybrid sedan from 50,000 this year to 100,000 in 2005.  Panasonic has been providing Toyota with its battery  packs.  Honda, which has hybrid versions of its Civic and Insight, is launching its hybrid version of the Accord in December.  Honda has projected to sell 20,000 hybrid Accords in the next year.  The hybrid Accord’s batteries are made by Sanyo, but Panasonic supplies the batteries for the hybrid version of the Civic and Insight.

Currently, the only U.S. manufacturer of   Nickel-metal hydride batteries for vehicles is Cobasys.

Referring to a global  market, LG Chem expects the battery market for  hybrid cars to reach about US$1.7 billion by 2010.  
(Data for graph is from J.D. Power and Associates.) +        

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The U.S Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Vehicle Testing Activity has completed 1 million miles of hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) testing with a fleet of 18 vehicles.  The testing included collection of fuel use information, maintenance and repair data and dynamometer and track testing.  Complete testing results on each individual vehicle are available at http://avt.inel.gov/hev.html.+
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 (June 2004) General Motors (GM) begins delivery of 235 hybrid powered busses to Seattle.  This single fleet is slated to save over 750,000 gallons of fuel annually, the equivalent of thousands of small hybrid cars.  GM states that if  13,000 buses in the U.S.  were replaced with its hybrid buses, the U.S. would save over 40 million gallons of fuel annually.
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 (June 2004) Army Not Yet Sold On Hybrid Vehicles
An Army project to build six prototypes of a Humvee has been canceled because of concerns for operability in extreme temperatures, questions of real fuel savings in its operational profile and needs for additional devices to power battlefield electronics. Another program to retrofit the Wrecker vehicle HEMTT with a diesel engine and regenerative/power battery system is being evaluated. Despite a position of having future combat vehicles employ hybrid propulsion, the methods and benefits are not visible.
National Defense, May 2004, p. 23
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 (June 2004) GENTLEMEN, START YOUR HYBRIDS
Ford is joining the green philosophy started by Honda and Toyota by adding a 2004 offering of a 34 mpg Escape SUV. Despite  high development costs, Ford anticipates making money on the Escape. Other global manufacturers, GM, Daimler Chrysler and Nissan are more skeptical, but they are planning limited future hybrids. Bob Lutz, formerly of Exide fame and now Vice-Chairman of GM states, “ I frankly do not view hybrids as the future transportation solution. Daimler is counting on hydrogen fuel cells and BMW is betting on combustion engines which burn hydrogen.
Business Week,  April 26, 2004, pp. 45-46
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Top 10 Tech Cars
 (June 2004) HERE COME THE HYBRIDS
Ten vehicles were selected as the most technologically significant. Of the ten, five had some form of hybrid configuration requiring battery storage and four were SUVs or trucks, which are in keeping with the buying publics interest in vehicle types. All but two were either in production or being readied for production this calendar year. Included was the experimental Ford  Concept, a modified Focus station wagon which powers its IC engine with hydrogen. It uses a modular hybrid transmission and should have none of the environmental temperature problems of fuel cell powered vehicles.
IEEE Spectrum, March 2004, pp. 28-35
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 (May 2004) U.S. Military Goes for Hybrid Vehicles
The Marine Corps is developing a four ton  armored truck, the RST-V, which will be powered by a diesel engine and a 20 kWhr Lithium-ion battery pack.
IEEE Spectrum, March, 2004, pp 22-25
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 (Dec. 2003) Eaton Corporation teams up with other global suppliers to build hybrid delivery truck to Fed Ex.  Eaton will supply the engine, valves, cylinders and other basic parts while Hitachi will provide the Lithium-ion battery and Freightliner, a DaimlerChrysler subsidiary, will supply thetruck.  The Environmental Defense, a New York advocacy group, created the project.
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 (December 2003) HYBRID vs. GAS CROSS COUNTRY

Staff people at Popular Mechanics drove a standard Honda Civic EX and a Honda Civic Hybrid simultaneously across the U.S.A. from New York to Los Angeles.  The EX averaged 33.8 mpg and the Hybrid averaged 42.0 mpg for the coast-to-coast trip with much headwind for both vehicles. At current gas prices it gave the Hybrid a one-penny per mile advantage over the EX. (Ed note; If the initial cost difference of about $1,500 for the hybrid, is averaged over 100,000 miles, it contributes an additional 1.5 cents per mile to the hybrid operating cost.) Since the hybrid counts on braking to recharge the Nickel-metal hydride batteries, there were noticeable times in long uphill climbs when no passing power could be obtained from the batteries.

Ref: Popular Mechanics, July 2003, pp. 72-75.
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(September,03) Hybrids - the new generation vehicles gain popularity
by Shirley Georgi

Having General Motors Corporation (GMC) and Daimler-Chrysler drop their lawsuit against the California Air Resource Board (CARB) in mid-August gave a strong indication that the big automakers approved of the direction being taken by CARB to accommodate hybrids (HEVs)  into the newly formulated rules.  It is a win-win situation for auto companies and CARB.  Jerry Martin a spokesman for CARB says the new rules still reflect the groups mission to protect public health and the auto companies now feel that the new  rewritten rules have addressed their concerns about unrealistic expectations.   

The automakers have insisted that the consumer dictates what the automakers manufacturer and sell.  In the past year, fuel economy has not been anywhere near  the top of the list as a factor in  consumers’ decision  to buy  new vehicles.   So, what drives the consumer to purchase a more environmentally friendly vehicle with better gas mileages?

Toyota leads the way

Perhaps, Toyota’s success with the Prius has caught the attention of many new potential consumers.  The car has had favorable  reports from those who were the pioneering purchasers. Recently, the Prius won the title of ‘World’s First Hybrid Rally Car’ which was driven from northern Sweden to Jordan.  

Building a newly designed second generation model for this current year, Toyota is giving  the U.S. public a chance in October  to  buy the new Prius, now a mid-size vehicle, with emissions cut by 30%.   The body of the new Prius is longer, about 12 centimeters.    The styling looks updated and futuristic; even the ‘key’ to open the vehicle is actually a keyless remote which fits into a slot.  The usual gearshift lever has been replaced by a short joystick which allows the driver to tap to go from drive to reverse to neutral.   The  cargo space is larger; the new hatchback design can hold 16.1 cubic feet with the back seat in use, or it can extend to 39 cubic feet when the seat is folded.   And, for the power hungry driver who needs to pass and get ahead, Toyota states the new Prius takes 10 seconds to accelerate from zero to approximately 100 kilometers/hour.    

If potential buyers aren’t quite convinced to buy this model, they might want to wait another year for the hybrid version of the Lexus RX330 sport utility wagon.

General Motors enters the HEV arena

GMC is banking on its economic and environmental aspects of its hybrids to interest buyers.  The Company concludes that consumers want to save money, have a fuel efficient full size vehicle and yet not  compromise the size and power by owning trucks and SUVs.  Beginning this fall, GM will offer  fleets  both a GMC pickup and a full sized Chevrolet  with an electric motor that is helpful in start-stop operations and can give the engine a boost during acceleration.   

But, GM’s  plans for retail sales will not take place until 2004 when pickup trucks will be offered.  In the following three years, GM states they will be rolling out other models, including SUVs.  GM does not say they will build one million hybrids by 2007, but they do state that they will have the ability to build one million hybrids by 2007.

Microsoft Excel Worksheet

According to J.D. Power and Associates in their “2003 Hybrid Vehicle Outlook” report, released in May 2003, hybrid electric vehicle sales are expected to increase dramatically over the next decade.  “The biggest limiting factor on sales is that up until now, the hybrid engine option has been offered only in compact cars,” said Walter McManus, executive director of global forecasting.  “That’s about to change, and when it does, we’ll see sales increase dramatically.  By 2005, trucks should account for about 39 percent of hybrid sales.” Hybrid vehicles are expected to penetrate one percent of the market by 2005 and reach three percent by 2009.  Hybrids will account for nearly five percent of the market by 2013. (Information is from a press release by J.D. Power Associates.  Their website is www.jdpower.com)+
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Record output for HEV Nickel-metal hydride batteries

Once again the Japanese have taken the lead in HEV  product development.   Panasonic EV Energy, Matsushita Electric and Toyota have worked together to achieve a new output density record for a Nickel-metal hydride battery specifically for HEVs.   The new battery being manufactured this summer has output power density of 1,300 Watts/kg.  The 106 x 285 x 19.5 mm size battery, weighing 1,040 kg, has 7.2 Volts with  6.5 Amps and delivers gravimertric energy density of 46 Wh/kg.
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California -the key to HEV success

With one ninth of the U.S. population and the CARB new mandates, the spotlight will be on California.  As CBS Market  Watch titled an article in August, “California paves way for hybrids.” (Title of news report by August Cole, 08/23/03).  

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(June 2003) Toyota wins the most fuel-efficient sedan award in the production division of the Tour de Sol.  The Toyota Prius’   fuel efficiency was 52.5 mils per gallon, more than two and a half times better than the current fleet average in the United States.  It was driven  315.2 miles during the vehicle tour.

The  annual event organized by the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA)  showcases dozens of gas-sipping and domestically-fueled vehicles, as well as electric bikes, neighborhood vehicles and programs that promote walking, biking, and mass transit.  

Winning the top award for the battery electric vehicle in the Production Division was the Chinese Heibao with Lead-acid batteries from Lantian High-Tech Power. This low speed vehicle (LSV) had a total  efficiency  MPGe (miles per gallon efficiency) score of 76.2.   This vehicle was sponsored by Shandong Heibao Group Company and Enviromotive, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Sponsors of the event were: General Motors (GM),  the New Jersey Climate Change Program, PECO Energy Company, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the Sustainable Development Fund, Toyota and the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration. In addition to being a sponsor, GM had their Hy-wire prototype fuel cell vehicle on display at the end of the race in Washington, D.C. Other large automakers participating were DaimlerChrysler and Honda.  (More information is available at www.Tourdesol.org.)
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Hybrids Get HOT
(May 02) Honda has a high performance prototype sportscar designated the ‘Dualnote,’ which uses a combination of an IC engine with electric motors powered by an ultracapacitor (supercapacitor). Unlike the present Honda Insight or Toyota Prius, which are intended to provide higher mileage than small ICE powered cars, the Dualnote is a high performance sports car which delivers 400 horsepower while getting 42 mpg. Although not targeted for immediate production, the hybrid concept establishes a methodology for larger power vehicles such as trucks and SUVs.
Popular Science April 2002, pp. 44-48 www.popsci.com
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(June,02) Japan’s Electric Vehicle Association reports that its hybrid car market has grown to between 73,000-74,000 autos this spring. Globally, Toyota sold 100,000 hybrid electrics by March 31, 2002.
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(June 02) Sanyo Electric Co.. reported in April that it would jointly develop batteries with Honda Motor Co. Ltd. for hybrid cars powered by a petrol engine and an electric motor. Currently, Japan’s hybrid car battery market is dominated by Matsushita Electric Co. Ltd.
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(December,01) Honda’s Insight wins most fuel-efficient car in America for the third straight year in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) annual report on automotive fuel economy. Honda’s Insight with 64 m.p.g., combined city and highway driving, topped Toyota’s Prius with 48 m.p.g. The EPA reported that the American’s appetite for gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles held down the over all numbers for fuel economy statistics. The EPA estimates that a 3 m.p.g. increase in average fuel economy industry-wide would save $25 billion in a year in the cost of fuel and also reduce CO2 by 140 million metric tons a year.
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A Plug for Plug-in Cars
(May 02) The author, still driving his hybrid vehicle which uses batteries and a trailer mounted gasoline engine for long distances in tow, does not think the FreedomCAR program will have any short term payback. He feels the technology goals are unrealistic, diverting resources from more promising solutions, which he still thinks can be fulfilled by Lead-acid powered plug-ins and fuel cell powered hybrids. Author Cocconi has more than a passing interest since his company AC Propulsion not only provides EV drive systems and EV R&D but also designed and built the ‘tzero’, a two seater sports car, which with its 0-60 time of 4.9 seconds could smoke many expen$ive sport cars.

IEEE Spectrum April 2002, pp. 14-15

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