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Cobasys to Explore Alternatives to Support Growth Strategy

Cobasys announced today that its owners, Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. (ECD Ovonics), through its affiliate Ovonic Battery Company, Inc., and Chevron Technology Ventures (CTV), a subsidiary of Chevron Corporation, have agreed to explore strategic alternatives for Cobasys.

The company has already been awarded contracts to supply the battery and control systems for eight major hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) production and/or development programs. These include providing battery systems and controls for the Saturn Aura and the Saturn Vue Green Line, the recently announced Chevrolet Malibu hybrid and a contract to develop lithium battery systems for the new General Motors plug-in hybrid (PHEV) development program.

Cobasys says it expects that this exploration of alternatives will enable it to further capitalize on global opportunities for integrated energy storage solutions in the rapidly growing hybrid electric vehicle and stationary power industries.

We’re honored to have been selected as the supplier for the majority of North American and European OEM hybrid battery system programs awarded over the last two years. We are now well positioned to capitalize on future opportunities with these and other customers and to take the next logical step in our growth strategy.

—Thomas Neslage, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cobasys

ECD Ovonics and CTV have engaged financial advisors to assist in the process. ECD Ovonics will be represented by UBS Investment Bank and CTV will be represented by Goldman, Sachs & Co. The parties are not disclosing the timing or the alternatives under consideration.

Comments

joseph padula

In europe there is a huge large format nicad business (saft etc) for industrial use.
Everyone knows nimh batteries are better. Why doesn't Cobasys sell them?

They make a battery,70 AH if I remember correctly, but only sell it as part of a UPS system.
They will not allow anyone else to make them, look up Panasonic Law suit.

Stan has publicly expressed displeasure at what happened to the company he sold controlling interest in to GM. GM sold to Texaco/Chevron.
Now GM is asking for Lion sysytems from their friends, it is all a shellgame.
Cobasys has no competitve advantage in Lion, they own nimh and all the patents and do not sell them like a legitimate company would.

Richard

I own some of the stock so obviously I'm digging the fact that ener wants to capitalize by selling the "hybrid battery inventor and major US producer".
BAM

Andrey

Joseph:

Cobasys is minor producer of Ni-Mh batteries. Major manufacturers of vehicular Ni-Mh batteries are Asian companies, Panasonic and Sanyo being the biggest. These batteries are produced worldwide in any possible format, including very big packs for hybrid buses. Cobasys holds exclusive patent rights for Ni-Mh batteries applications for HEV in US only. Anyone can purchase license and cell Ni-Mh HEV in US, like it is done for Honda, Toyota, GM, Ford, Daimler-Benz, etc. for a very moderate fee of about 2% of battery cost. For the rest of the world it is for free.

Not a single HEV manufacturer is eager to pay licensing up-front fee for PHEV application of Ni-Mh battery, which is absolutely inferior for PHEV applications. Hence the legend of Cobasys not allowing PHEV, actively propagated by conspiracy theory schizophrenics and enviro-nazi scumbags.

P.S. Early licensee of Ni-Mh batteries, Gold Peak (incorporated both in Honk-Kong and US), have legacy license for any imaginable Ni-Mh battery application on US soil for fixed moderate fee, including HEV, PHEV, BEW, or anything else. They do not offer PHEV and BEV sized battery packs because of total absence of quantity orders.

Lad

Andrey:
Calling people names adds nothing to learning and to sharing information.

It's OK to disagree only you don't need to slide into base with your spikes high to make your point.

Regarding Cobasys: They are a US joint venture between Tex/Chev and Ovonics; The oil company finances the projects in exchange for patent control of the NiMH batteries. When someone wants to produce a large battery, they sue for patent infringement and through non-public court-ordered agreements, they collect their royalties and allow the company to produce the batteries but limit their size; in effect controlling the EV market.


Energex42

The involvement of Cobasys in limiting the use of NiMH technology is well known. They do not allow the licensing of large size NiMH batteries for propulsion usages.

It appears Cobasys is trying to get involved in the Lithium Ion technology as well. Given the power of big oil, and Goldman money it would not surprise me if Cobasys is already having success in gaining control of Lithium Ion patents.

This press release reads like some kind of "shopping announcement".

Andrey

“…involvement of Cobasys in limiting the use of NiMh technology is well known” due to propagation of this fantasy by crowds I mentioned in first post.

Hybrid buses routinely make use of big NiMh batteries. For PHEV and BEV applications NiMh batteries are unacceptable for five reasons:

In order to prolong battery life to acceptable in vehicular applications level deep discharge of Ni-Mh batteries are limited to about 30% of advertised max capacity of 90 KWh per kg.

NiMh battery has max charge/discharge efficiency of only 50%: it means for every KWh pumped into battery according to charger’s meter only 0.5 KWh is ending up driving the propulsion electric motor. Another half is wasted to battery heating, requiring massive battery cooling system.

Ni-Mh battery has terribly high self-discharge rate at elevated temperature. That means that battery will loose most of it charge after couple of miles EV driving on hot day.

Price of NiMh battery for USABLE portion of its energy is well above 1000$ per KWh and climbing with skyrocketing prices for Nickel.

Ni-Mh batteries could not be fast charged.

Big size Ni-Cd batteries for stationary power applications are used because they are cheaper than Ni-Mh and have smaller rate of self-discharge and better cold weather charge retention and performance. The latter properties explain why Ni-Cd batteries are still used by US military (even in military aircrafts).

Bill

First, it's 90 WH per kilogram, not 90 KWH.
Second, it might be helpful for everyone to know that more-than-10-year-old NiMH batteries have been propelling BEV conversions of small pickup trucks such as the Ford Ranger and Chevy S-10 in the fleets of southern California electric utility companies for years, with many trucks well over 100,000 miles. So they have been exposed to deep discharge daily, and extreme heat during much of the year. So somehow they go more than a few miles in the heat, and there is no "massive battery cooling system," although some Cobasys designs have always included liquid cooling.
It is a big mistake to swallow as fact the statements being made by some that "good enough" batteries are not to be embraced, but rather the ever-receding "perfect" battery is required. As Felix Kramer has often said, we are allowing the automakers to position the perfect as being the enemy of the good.

Andrey

Bill, thanks, it of course 90 Wh/kg.

Battery electric vehicles appeared long before ICE-powered cars. There were countless successful prototypes of steam powered, turbine-powered, Stirling engine-powered, solar-powered, etc. cars. It does not make them competitive with ICE for mass consumer market. There are numerous advanced lead-acid, molted sodium-Ni-chloride, Ni-Cd, even large format Ni-Mh EV and PHEV ( http://www.greencarcongress.com/2006/05/electro_energys.html#more ), not to mention countless Li-ion electric vehicles and conversions. All of them are not yet technologically and economically acceptable for mass application in passenger vehicle market.

Technical break-through of Ni-Mh battery technology twenty years ago allowed to design and mass produce hybrids, but for mass production of mainstream PHEV we need to wait another break-through in battery technology. Looks like some companies are on the verge with Li chemistry batteries.

The reason for this is very clearly explained by expert Congress testimony here:

http://energy.senate.gov/public/_files/andermantestimony.pdf

joseph padula

Can someone tell me where to buy a large format NiMH battery like the ones in the Toyota RAV 4 electric that were made by Panasonic before the court case?

Can someone tell me why Cobasys Makes a large format battery but does not sell them Except as part of a UPS system? They make them but you have to buy a complete value added system to get them. Most battery companies actually sell batteries not just flashlights with batteries in them.
I guess the NiCads makers get a lower price on the Nickle they use.
Can someone explain why Toyota, ford and GM were foolish enough to buy those inefficent batteries for the BEV's they built. GM bought the whole company to get those batterieswhen they wanted them.

Lee

The only living ex-production EV I know of is the RAV4 EV. The few of those vehicles that survive seem to be going strong after many years of service. The owners of RAV4 EVs all seem to love their cars and do drive them in all kinds of weather.

These few surviving RAV4's throw a wrench in the story that nickel metal hydride battery technology isn't good enough for vehicles. The fact that NiMh works has been proven by the years of service these RAV4 EVs have given their owners. That can't yet be said for lithium battery vehicles.

So how does one explain away the RAV4 EV and its performance over years of service? And the much bigger question is. Where are all the other EVs that we could have and should have been real world testing all these years? Where are the hundreds of NiMh version EV-1s that could have been proving, or not proving, themselves over the last decade? Why do we only have a handful of RAV4 EVs to prove the effectiveness of NiMh technology?

It's normal for an industry to want to hold on to its cash cows. That includes internal combustion engine vehicles and the petroleum products that power them. That's how things have been done throughout history. Bigger established entities have always sought the use of clout to stifle upstart competition, and often very unscrupulously.

Contending that history has somehow taken a uniquely different course, at this time, in this case, is either supremely naïve or self-serving.

Conspiracy: An agreement to perform together an illegal, wrongful, or subversive act.

Thank God we know no American corporation would ever do anything like that.

Andrey

Joseph:

Google “electric car kit”, or something alike.

clett

Does anyone know if any Nissan Altra EVs are still about, and how many miles they have racked up?

That would tell us how long 1st generation LiIon tech lasts in a vehicle.

richard

LOFL, yes and with the bountifull battery tech understanding here and next to zero business knowledge we get a comic witches brew of conspiracy.
Nobody beyond the pre tech bubble geeks wanted the EV1, that's why it died.
Nobody ie non comercial numbers want PHEV that's why it's taking toyota so long to put it out. GM's playing catch up with there PHEV press, don't look for one at your dealership in 2 yrs.
One of the biggest marketing tags early on for Prius and Civic was " you don't have to plug it in".
Most families want to be able to drive to their version of Disneyland, can't do that with an extension cord.

yesplease

Whoooooboy. To settle the question of whether large format NiMH batts are durable enough, I'd like to link sce's 100k mile performance review of a few of their RAV4-EV fleet.
http://www.evchargernews.com/miscfiles/sce-rav4ev-100k.pdf

EVTC test data provide strong evidence that all five vehicles will exceed the 100,00012 mile mark. SCE’s positive experience points to the very strong likelihood of a 130,000 to 150,000-mile Nickel Metal Hydride battery and drive-train operational life. EVs can therefore match or exceed the lifecycle miles of comparable internal combustion engine vehicles.

So, if these vehicles have broken 100k miles as of ~2003, it's safe to assume that they've at least made it to ~130k miles, and possibly to ~150+ miles. I saw one on a meter reading run a few months ago in Orange County CA, so I know there's at least one still out there. If this was done almost a decade ago, how can we not do better today?

andrichrose

Some Zebra battery powered vehicles have now covered more 2 million miles on the orginal batterys ( source wikipeda ) beat that , zebras degrade very little over the years , no oxydisation , no precious metals , can be charged to half capacity in 30 minutes , however there is only one factory making them in switzerland . Zebra powered cars are becoming a regular sight there and appear to have well established reliabilty . If made in quantity this type of battery could be made really cheap , salt is not expensive ! My mobile phone has a lithium ion battery , when I go sking, if it is in a outer pocket of my jacket, within 2 hours its telling me there is no juice left , transfer it to an inner pocket and the battery comes alive again , bit of a problem if you have
an Ev and you live in Norway , the Zebra does not have these problems , it comes in an insulated box and has a heater to keep the core at a toasty 250 degrees centigrade , no cold start problems . Manufacture seems to be relativy easy , and does not demand the investment of say lithium ion.
It seems that this battery is the best kept secret of the EV world , it must
have some drawbacks , though I must admit I cannot find any . Why are there not factorys around the world churning these things out , its been around for ten years or more now .
I wonder who holds the patents ?

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