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Toyota To Boost JV Output Capacity For NiMH Batteries By 50%

14 July 2007

The Nikkei reports that Toyota Motor plans to build a new factory on the site of Panasonic EV Energy Co—its battery joint venture with Matsushita Electric Industrial Co.—to boost the annual production capacity for NiMH cells used in the automaker’s hybrid vehicles by 50%.

The new plant will increase the output capacity of Shizuoka Prefecture-based Panasonic EV Energy Co. to a level sufficient to produce NiMH battery packs for 750,000 vehicles per year.

Panasonic EV Energy will also manufacture lithium-ion batteries for future Toyota hybrids.

July 14, 2007 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

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Encouraging; however, not the chemistry I had hoped for!
Looks like we have to go through a diesel ICE interim era before LiI is ready for mass production. Do you think Toyota is moving slowly for GM, Ford and Chrysler to catch up. Is this being coordinated by their lobbying alliance, the AAM? Wouldn't this be a violation of antitrust laws? I would hope they are all working to beat each other to the market with new technology and not waiting for anything. I know Tesla is and they are driving the market forward. But, it will be some time before they can perform in the mass market.

As we all know, an affordable PHEV and/or BEV will only be available when a large auto company decides to build it. Until then electric cars will have little impact on our two major problems: dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuel emissions.

Honestly, I'm thoroughly confused by this. If they are increasing production by 50% by adding capacity for 750,000 vehicles per year, that would mean they already have capacity for 1.5 million vehicles per year, right? They don't build nearly that many hybrid cars per year do they? Are they ramping up for something really big? Will we see the NiMH version of their hybrid synergy drive in more vehicles soon? I guess I just don't understand the need for that much capacity at this point, or even in two years.

Nonetheless, it's a good indicator of Toyota's dedication to hybrids. Hopefully, this increased capacity will help lower the cost of the batteries and therefore the cars.

OK, I just realized I read that wrong - this will increase total capacity by 50% to 750,000 vehicles per year. Still, that's a pretty significant number of hybrids per year.

Travis Rassat:
For those of us who think that PHEVs and BEVs are the future, diesel ICEs and HEVs are but interim moves until, hopefully, the auto companies solve the large format LiIon battery problems.

I'll keep driving the Volvo until affordable PHEVs and BEVs are made available.

They already planned to manufacture batteries for 500,000 vehicles in 2007.
The new 750,000 target is for 2008 and later.

Do you think Toyota is moving slowly for GM, Ford and Chrysler to catch up. Is this being coordinated by their lobbying alliance, the AAM? Wouldn't this be a violation of antitrust laws? I would hope they are all working to beat each other to the market with new technology and not waiting for anything. -- Lad

Toyota's reputation is one of being a reliable, forgettable appliance (I use "forgettable" positively -- you don't have to think about whether they'll work or not). LiIon just doesn't meet that spec yet. So far there are a lot of press releases for LiIon and a single third-party test of rapid charging. NiMH works now.

Today Toyota announced testing a plug in hybrid with a short range. If they were to put an existing production model Zebra Battery into a Prius along with its regular hybrid battery, the car could go 100 miles, on electricity alone, according to the CALCARS figure of 200 watt-hours per mile average. Ron Gremban, of CALCARS, has already successfully tested a method of connecting a battery of appropriate voltage in parallel with the existing hybrid battery while leaving it in place. Ron knows of more convenient but more flexible and expensive ways of connecting batteries of a wider range of voltages to the original battery that will give even better results. This makes making a plug in hybrid out of a Prius much easier, and may be the method used by HYMOTION.

The weight of the Zebra battery is about the total weight, 200kg, of the Lead Acid cells that CALCARS used for their first conversion. A smaller Zebra battery could be made to fit existing space and have less weight but at the cost of some miles. There is no need for special cell connections or special cooling of a Zebra battery and if several cells fail, it does not mean fire and a failed battery but only a loss of capacity. The cells are always hotter than ambient and can be cooled by any temperature air if needed. There is absolutely no maintenance, but it does need to be kept hot inside its case the outside of which does not get more than ten degrees above ambient. The energy used to keep it hot is no more than the energy lost by NiMH batteries while sitting or charging. By draining its own charge it could keep itself hot for about ten days. There is no loss of electrical capacity or charge in a ZEBRA cell cooled to room temperature, and it can retain this charge for decades. Special provisions or methods could be used to heat up an already fully charged ZEBRA cell for use within minutes. Slip a cell out of its thermos bottle and heat it up over a charcoal grill and then put it back into the thermos bottle is one very low tech method.

A Prius parked in an open space or carport coud have its computer programmed to put brief bursts of full engine power into the battery when the charge or temperature got too low. Most would be plugged in to take advantage of the low cost of electricity compared to gasoline.

There is no reason for any car maker to say that batteries for adequate distance are not available. The Prius is the best car on the market for demonstrating a long distance plug in hybrid with a Zebra battery. If the Zebra battery, which needs to be kept hot to work, was accidentally not kept on charge, the prius could operate with the NiMH battery and engine for a while with no delay to the driver. The Prius battery has considerable capacity of its own, and adding two or three more would give a range of at least fifty miles...hg...

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