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Electric Car Battery Makers Face Shakeup Amid Soft Demand

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Re: Battery Maker Shakeup Coming???
BobGroh   9/12/2011 5:55:35 PM
Cvandewater, excellent writeup and a lot of interesting ideas and thoughts.

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Re: cort of technology vs. cost of replacement
cvandewater   9/12/2011 7:01:56 PM
Hi David & bronorb,

It depends ho many months or years you take into account to compare the case between your old van/truck and a new vehicle, combined with the amount of miles you drive it. Of course it also depends on whether you have saved for a replacement vehicle or that you need to completely finance it, but I will leave that as a separate exercise.

Regarding costs: as you said, gas is likely the biggest difference (insurance may be lower on a newer vehicle and definitely maintenance should be less, plus you don't need to smog it for several years depending which state you're in) so let's just look at the difference in gas purchase: If your vehicle is indeed a gas hog, it might get no more than 12 to 15 MPG in real life. Say it is 15 and you drive the average distance of 15,000 miles per year with it. That is 1000 gallons and at a price close to $4 (pretty consistent throughout this year here locally near SF) is $4000 per year.

Taking a modern vehicle that gets about 40 MPG will allow you to reduce the quantity of gas to only 375 gallons or $1500, a saving of $2500.

This means that over a period of 5-6 years you should easily come out ahead, depending on which type of vehicle you purchase and how much luxury you have and require in your vehicle. All the years after the first to recoup the purchase price, will allow you to continue to save, even compared to your existing already paid-for van/truck, simply because it is a gas hog. Of course YMMV.

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Re: Lithium Battery Production costs
cvandewater   9/12/2011 7:36:16 PM
Hi Dave (KingDWS),

The ROI of solar PV panels was quite stable and indeed in the order of 15 years for a long period, while the efficiency and price of the panels were very stable. However, since a few years the price has suddenly fallen from a plateau of $4/Wp to around only $1/Wp (!) with the Chinese and Indian solar manufacturers coming online and starting to produce cells at extemely competitive prices ($1.5 for a 6x6" cell of about 3.6Wp)

So, with the sudden price drop also came a sudden boost to solar installations so that even in the difficult market of today you see solar installers busy and the RoI time has shrunk to only a few years, more dependent on who installs and the cost of the other equipment, since the panel price is not so much dominating any longer.

Since a long time it has been possible to get a solar installation with zero money down and a lease price setup as a payment for the (solar) electricity supplied, this is a great way to start using green power without upfront investment by the customer and the terms have become much more interesting with the reduction of panel prices.

Note: for off-grid application you can actually buy laminates (unframed panels) for a price below $0.75 per Wp. I think the time to get into solar has never been easier or more attractive. Even from a financial point of view, which was usually the bottleneck.

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Re: Another thing
melllowfelllow   9/16/2011 2:37:13 AM
I have heard this theoretical 'swap thing' many times with great skepticism. Proponents always dismiss the barriers with the simple phrase "all we need to do is standardize". The novice or 'ivory tower resident' acknowledges that it will be difficult to get everyone on the same page, but proclaim that 'if we all work together, we can do it'. I have never seen any indication that the problem was understood. Some of the concerns that I have are:

1. IMO, the very premise of swapping battery packs addresses the symptom and not necessarily the problem.

2. Pack swaps require support for a 'several year life cycle'. If it were magically implemented for 2013 models, those packs would have to be supported for 7-10 [??] years.

3. IMO, R&R an entire pack would not be technically feasible [even if mechanical issues are resolved]. A 1750 lb car and a 3700 lb car would have different requirements. This would mean that module replacement instead of pack replacement would be required - OR multiple pack part numbers would be required.

4. Replacing packs will reduce the MTBF. [using skilled technicians]

5. Replacing modules will reduce the MTBF even more. [using skilled technicians]

6. #4 & #5 will increase when performed by 'available warm bodies'.

7. Pack swaps will be an ideal way for used car dealers to resolve their weak pack problems.

8. Pack swaps will be an ideal way for new car owners to 'downgrade' to a used pack.

9. Pack swaps will be an ideal way for morons to keep replacing their packs after habitual abuse.

10. IMO, standardization + pack swap would slow the rate of battery technology advancement. Will folks have to standard on a single set of battery chemistries so that the pack can be charged??

11. Yes, we could have 'pack insurance', pack testing before swap, pack reservations, 'find-a-pack' services, built-in pack status/history implentation, x% depth of discharge autocutoff, etc for a fee. In spite of the 'gas fillup comparison', you are probably looking at closer to 2hrs typical for a swap.

12. Pack insurance/swap companies could be a significant portion of the 'auto battery market' and possibly influence automaker battery advancement [or foot dragging].

13. If packs are easy to swap, they are easy to steal.

I'm getting tired and I haven't even touched on BMS...

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