Lack of demand is already causing problems for some lithium-ion battery manufacturers. In recent years, two lithium-ion battery makers -- A123 Systems and Ener1 -- have filed for bankruptcy protection. And in February, a US Department of Energy investigation discovered that idle employees of LG Chem Ltd. were playing board games, watching movies, and volunteering at local non-profit organizations during work hours, after the company took more than $150 million in federal funds to help build its battery cell manufacturing plant. The battery manufacturer was subsequently asked to repay $842,000 in taxpayer funds.
Experts say the situation has been getting worse for lithium-ion, following the massive public attention of overheating incidents on Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner. “The glamour has definitely faded for lithium,” Cole told us. “The Boeing situation was the crowning blow.”
To be sure, lithium-ion will continue to play a role. Ford Motor Co. announced late last year that all its new hybrids would migrate to lithium-ion. And Pike Research declared earlier this year that the emergence of plug-in hybrids would boost lithium-ion sales over the next few years. ”Sales of lithium-ion batteries will be better than they have been,” analyst Dave Hurst of Pike Research told us. “But they still won’t be very good.”
The question now is how much of the hybrid market will still belong to lithium-ion. Most industry analysts still expect plug-in hybrids to be the province of lithium-ion batteries. However, the low end of the hybrid market -- mild hybrids and start-stop micro-hybrids -- will be a mix, with lead-acid, nickel-metal hydride, and lithium-ion grabbing chunks of the market.
”Lithium-ion is still a very solid player,” Cole said. “But now we’re entering a more realistic period with respect to batteries. The hype is over. The cost is going to have to come down now."
I agree, Rob. The idea is sensible. I think pure EVs will find a niche, but it won't be at the low end of the market. And it won't be a big niche. Consumer Reports said last week that the Tesla Model S might be the best car they've EVER seen, but it cost $90,000.
The article from this link makes a ton of sense, Chuck. The hybrid car delivers the features needed by average car owners -- practicality, affordability. EVs are far from that. I find it at bit odd that automakers are investing so heavily in EV development.
The article that I read was a description of Edisons development of the battery package for use in our submarines, which I guess he sold the idea to our navy, although I think that they stuck with lead-acid for a while.
Your link lead to another interesting blog,which included comments about the compressed air powered car, and questions about why that has not been developed more. I can explain exactly why, which is that those very high air pressures are very dangerous and no company with any sense at all would put a system with 20,000PSI air, or even just 5000PSI air anyplace where regular people could get at it. And it would certainly take that kind of pressures to store enough energy to drive a car very far. Tata may be able to sell that product in India, but in the USA the tort lawyers would devour them in just a few minutes.
If it continued on the way it's been, Rob, I think EV battery funding would cloud the development of IC engines. Lately, though, I'm hearing more automakers talking about internal combustion engines when it comes to meeting to 2025 CAFE mandate. See the link below:
I wish I could give you a definitive answer to your question, William K, but I can't. I can say, however, that for the past 25-30 years, nickel-iron and lead-acid were pretty equal in terms of specific energy, with both being around 30-50 Wh/kg, depending on the year you looked at them. I started writing articles about electric cars in the late 1980s, and Chrysler was sold on the idea of nickel-iron at that time, but they later backed off. Here's a link to a New York Times article on Edison's battery from November, 1911:
I just re-read an article about the battery that Thomas Edison invented and adapted for use in submarines over a hundred years ago. That is the nickel-iron alkaline battery. I have not done any research on it, but the claimed benefits for submarine applications certainly make it out to be a much better choice for that application. So I am wondering if the power density is that much less than the lead-acid chemistry, or is it a more expensive chemistry that never made it to be a commercial success? Or is there some other reason that I am not aware of?
Good point, theboz808. Incentives for alternative-fuel engines or electric power could cloud the development of a clean-burning internal combustion engine. The automakers are working at it anyway. There are some very efficient IC engines coming out of Ford.
Tesla Motors’ $35,000, 200-mile electric car may not revolutionize the auto industry by itself, but it could serve as a starting point for a long, steady climb to a day when half of the world’s vehicles will be plug-ins.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.