Batteries/Automotive/Hybrid 040708

 (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.
 (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
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
Top 10 Tech Cars
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
 (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
 (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.
 (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.
(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

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.

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).  

(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
Lead for Hybrid
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
(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.
(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.
(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 $25 billion in a year in the cost of fuel and also reduce CO2 by 140 million metric tons a year.
A Plug for Plug-in Cars
(May 02) The author, still driving his hybrid vehicle which uses batteries and a trailer mounted gasoline engine for long distances in tow, does not think the FreedomCAR program will have any short term payback. He feels the technology goals are unrealistic, diverting resources from more promising solutions, which he still thinks can be fulfilled by Lead-acid powered plug-ins and fuel cell powered hybrids. Author Cocconi has more than a passing interest since his company AC Propulsion not only provides EV drive systems and EV R&D but also designed and built the ‘tzero’, a two seater sports car, which with its 0-60 time of 4.9 seconds could smoke many expen$ive sport cars.
IEEE Spectrum April 2002, pp. 14-15