June 18, 2012 – Vol.17 No.14
RETHINKING ELECTRIC CARS -- NEW MODELS, BETTER BATTERIES UPDATE.
Bankrupt Saab, which was ready to be chopped up and sold piecemeal, has been purchased by a group called National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB (NEVS). The international consortium formed by Japanese, Swedish and Chinese stakeholders plans to build electric cars. That’s it. Nothing else.
According to announced plans, the company will first convert the Saab 9-3 to electric drive and sell it globally by the end of 2013. Shortly thereafter NEVS should have a purpose-built EV ready for global markets, but with a focus on the Chinese market initially.
The new NEVS Saab wants to become a major player in the world electric vehicle market.
Saab (Svenska Aeroplan AB) was once a small, quirky company with only one or two models at a time. In its early days the company had some interesting engineering such as front wheel drive (rare in the 1950’s) and airplane-heritage aerodynamics combined with light weight. The company then had a loyal following. It was bought by General Motors, resold again, lost its identity, its quirkiness and its fan base. A lack of innovative products eventually led to the company’s downfall.
Perhaps if that quirkiness can be rekindled Saab will glow again. Saab began with independent, outside-the-box thinking. Maybe the new owners will recognize the need to do this again.
The car to watch would be the purpose-built EV, not so much the electrically transformed 9-3. EVs developed from the ground up as EVs appear to be better cars.
This new entrant is welcome. The more players in the EV game, the more likely it is that prices will drop with new models introduced.
A123 Systems, which makes lithium iron phosphate batteries for electric vehicles such as Chevrolet’s upcoming Spark EV, has announced a battery chemistry breakthrough, or so they say. Known as Nanophosphate EXT (tm) the company says its key benefits are:
Improved Power Capability
--- Nanophosphate EXT delivers improved power, especially at low temperatures
--- 20-30 percent higher power than our standard Nanophosphate (R) chemistry
--- Superior power retention
Extended Calendar and Cycle Life
--- Improved calendar and cycle life, particularly at elevated temperatures
--- 2-3x the cycle life of lithium ion competitors
--- 10x the life of lead acid
Lower Total Cost of Ownership
--- Wide temperature operating capability reduces the need for costly thermal management equipment and associated operating costs
--- Greater power capability reduces the need for pack oversizing to meet application requirements
--- Better calendar and cycle life means greater battery utilization, fewer replacements and lower maintenance costs
The above translated means the batteries can operate within a greater temperature range. In cold weather, that typically slows down chemical reactions that generate electricity, the batteries will provide ample power without a battery pack heating system. And at high temperatures the batteries will simply last longer and without a cooling system to boot. Because battery packs don’t need extensive, expensive cooling or heating systems vehicles could feasibly cost less.
RETHINKING ELECTRIC CARS - PART 1
If EV’s don’t catch on at a quicker pace, manufacturers might have to go back to the drawing board.
RETHINKING ELECTRIC CARS - Lighter Vehicles Update
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