Electric cars are perhaps the hottest item in the car industry. While Ford remains uninterested in deploying an electric car, the other two major U.S. automakers, General Motors and Chrysler both have large electric car projects set to commercialize in 2010. GM's hopes in particular are riding heavily on its electric car program, with the Chevy Volt becoming the crux of its advertising campaigns. While there have been some slight hiccups, such as the missteps of Tesla Motors, few can disagree that even amid a weak economy the plug-in business is booming.
If there's one component most critical to electric cars' performance and success, it would have to be the batteries. The batteries determine the weight, the electric-only mileage, and most importantly the cost of electric cars. Better batteries will make a better electric car. For that reason tech giant General Electric (GE) is betting heavily on electric cars and battery technologies.
GE has aggressively invested in an attempt to position itself as the clear battery leader. It invested in A123 batteries, one of the two startups that is competing for the Chevy Volt battery contract. With a $30M USD second round of investment in A123, GE cemented its relationship and controlling position over the startup and with it increased its position in the battery industry.
It also invested in A123 partner Think Global, which is debuting a small plug-in car in 2009: the Think Electric town car. The little car, available in limited quantities resembles a Smart Car ForTwo in styling and size. It will surely be a hot seller, if it’s able to meet its release date, beating the Chevy Volt to the market. GE is working with its two partners to develop the vehicle. Think Global plans to ship 50,000 units to North America in 2009 which will retail for $30,000 without tax credits. The car has a top speed of 65 MPH and can go 110 miles on a charge.
Mark Little, senior vice president and director of GE Global Research, says the new battery efforts follow closely with GE's Ecomagination initiative which seeks to cut carbon dioxide emissions, and conserve water and fossil fuels. The program is expected to grow 21 percent this year, with revenue reaching $17B USD. GE is planning on rolling this money back into its R&D efforts, increasing these expenditures by $1.4B USD.
Mr. Little praised electric cars, saying that they will lead to lower energy prices and smaller carbon footprints. He states, "My own view is that even if 5 to 10 percent of vehicles become electrified, that's a huge opportunity."
He is championing another key battery effort, which sees GE partnering with Chrysler on a Department of Energy-sponsored research project. The new project will explore designing better batteries for passenger cars. The details of the project are still being arranged.
Another important effort is GE's research into adapting sodium-metal chloride batteries to automobiles. This type of batteries are used in trains and could offer lower prices and higher efficiencies if optimized. It is also experimenting with using ultra-capacitors as a battery alternative.
GE also has ongoing projects to develop large-scale power utility battery storage. If can do this, it would be a great help to some forms of inconsistent alternative energy, such as solar PV or wind power. Its ultimate goal is to provide the grid with several hours of storage capacity nation-wide.
Perhaps it’s unsurprising GE is looking to lead the industry in battery efforts -- after all, one of its engineers built one of the first electric cars, built in 1914.
quote: The car has a top speed of 65 MPH and can go 110 miles on a charge.
quote: Think, so they can be compared, apples to apples, in terms of performance.
quote: How much oil is there under America or off America's shore by the way?
quote: That seems to be a pretty reliable site, and seems to say to me that you are a US-centric, right wing BS artist.
quote: Learn to understand technological terms, butthead... A proven reserve is a known reserve... Drilled or not.
quote: No more oversight, and a Dark-Market trading environment caused the recent rise in fuel prices, not a limit in supply.
quote: Truth is, they want to keep the prices high to rake in the record profits.
quote: All I was saying was that we should be taking advantage of our situation, rather than making it worse by extending the problem.
quote: And when did this become about morals?
quote: And by that you mean not drilling off shore and exploiting the natural resources we can in order to keep oil prices high, right?
quote: Any other course of action is no longer based on economic reasoning, but morality; ie, this energy source being superior in some non-economic way than another source.
quote: When those technologies are competitive, they'll come to market without such top-down government help.
quote: To use an analogy: The Titanic is taking on water, and the oil folks are saying "We just need to bail the water out faster!".
quote: You mourn that the racist slave drivers lost? Wow, just wow.
quote: The reason California and New York have more pull than Montana is probably because Montana has like 12 people. Granted I don't like the electoral college or separate state voting and all that crap, but seriously, you don't like democracy?
quote: I have a feeling you are a hillbilly with racist undertones.
quote: When standing still, no electricity is used to propel the vehicle.
quote: If the u.s. did not consume the amount of oil they do, there would not have been a problem. It is "your" own lifestyle that caused this and friedman's free market (without a controlling eye to cut away the greedy parasites and keep the free market healthy).
quote: they intend to destroy the traditional American lifestyle. It has always offended liberals that the "little people" can hop in a car and drive wherever we want.
quote: When the Democrat revolution is fully realized, most Americans will be equivalent to Europeans, taking public transportation from small but efficient apartments and condos, crowded together in high density developments, to their work, shopping, and approved recreation areas. This has been underway for some time, with green belt laws and other bans on new developments beyond a certain line, driving homes to be smaller and in higher density neighborhoods. Liberals hate suburbs and suburban lifestyles, and have wanted since the sixties to force Americans into a more controlled society similar to Europe
quote: The higher the weight, the higher the tax. The higher the fuel efficiëncy, the lower the weight tax becomes.
quote: Before it where the communists, now it is the europeans or any muslim.
quote: by Spivonious on October 30, 2008 at 9:45 AMquote:The car has a top speed of 65 MPH and can go 110 miles on a charge.That's not very much for $30,000. You could buy a Chevy Aveo for $12,000 and get a higher top speed and a longer "per tank" range.Let's say you drive around the town for 10 miles each day. Aveo gets about 30mpg, so that's 1/3 gallon per day. Let's say gas prices go crazy and get up to $5 per gallon. Each day of driving will cost you $1.67.Let's also assume electricity is free.It will still take you 10,778 days to break even. That's almost 30 years!! It's no wonder GM is hemmorhaging money these days.
quote: $30,000 is pretty cheap for the privilege of looking down your nose at your neighbors again.
quote: 20 miles/day = 12 * 5/7.2 = 8.3 years to break even 50 miles/day = 4.1 years 100 miles/day = 2 years
quote: by lco45 on October 31, 2008 at 3:39 AMFair enough, so if you drive 10 miles a day then forget about it.But some other scenarios...20 miles/day = 12 years to break even50 miles/day = 6 years100 miles/day = 3 yearsAnd in UK where fuel is about £1/litre = $2US/litre = $US7.20/US gallon this would be:20 miles/day = 12 * 5/7.2 = 8.3 years to break even50 miles/day = 4.1 years100 miles/day = 2 yearsSeriously, most people I know would do more like 50 miles a day return, than 10.
quote: So let me guess, you drive an Abrahms to work?
quote: Unfortunately people are selfish and generally only think about themselves, except when they're talking publicly.
quote: Europe has done quite nicely with cars that average 2/3 the size of north American vehicles, with lower safety ratings and they have less fatal accidents.
quote: While Ford remains uninterested in deploying an electric car
quote: The petite Think Electric car is coming to America next year, thanks to General Electric
quote: Ford created Think in 1999, when it bought Pivo Industries of Norway for $23 million. It renamed the company and has since invested another $100 million in an attempt to develop a line of electric cars for sale to the public and government agencies.
quote: The Ford Edge with HySeries Drive™ is the world’s first drivable fuel cell hybrid electric vehicle with plug-in capability.
quote: Ford is testing a new plug-in hybrid Explorer concept that could get up to 120 mpg
quote: Willums picked up Think, its factory, and Ford's nearly completed design for a new-model City for the fire-sale price of about $15 million.
quote: And don't give me crap about "people who buy these know better or won't use them like that". Riiiiiiight.
quote: While there have been some slight hiccups, such as the missteps of Tesla Motors, few can disagree that even amid a weak economy the plug-in business is booming.