US Leads World in PHEV Battery R&D, Lags in Capability to Make Them
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Nissan Tests Next-Gen Li-Ion Packs in US

by Jack Rosebro

Nissan has been running extended field testing of its new Li-ion batteries in a fleet of Tino hybrids in the US. Click to enlarge.

Nissan Motor has been field-testing a fleet of 20 Tino hybrids equipped with its next-generation Li-ion battery packs for the last three years in the US, with up to 240,000 km (150,000 miles) accumulated on one of the vehicles. Nissan made a limited introduction of the Tino hybrid in Japan in 2000.

Toshio Hirota of Nissan outlined the program and provided some insight into the automaker’s lithium-ion battery research in a presentation at the 2008 SAE Hybrid Vehicle Technology Symposium this week in San Diego.

Nissan started R&D on Li-ion batteries for automobiles in 1992, and introduced a variety of EV and HEVs with Li-ion packs from 1997 through 2000. During that period, Nissan switched from using a cylindrical battery format to the laminated type represented in the testing.

Nissan Motor, NEC and NEC TOKIN began developing Li-ion rechargeable batteries for automotive applications in about 2000. NEC group had been working with Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. to develop lithium-ion automotive batteries through a joint-venture: NEC Lamilion Energy Ltd. This partnership was dissolved in March 2006 when Fuji Heavy, the maker of Subaru vehicles, moved under Toyota’s umbrella.

In 2007, Nissan Motor, NEC Corporation, and NEC TOKIN Corporation, signed an agreement to establish a joint-venture company—Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC)—to develop and market lithium-ion batteries for wide-scale automotive application by 2009, including applications such as hybrids, plug-in hybrids, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and electric vehicles. (Earlier post.)

The real-world results of the Li-ion packs has proven to be very close to predictive simulations. The prototype battery packs have also proven to be more efficient than comparable nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) packs.

Of particular note is the charge and discharge power restriction frequency, as expressed in a percentage. This metric refers to the amount of time that the powertrain computer requests a given amount of current from the battery pack, but is instead provided with a somewhat lower amount to protect the pack. Hirota reported that the frequency of such events was 44.2% for NiMH, and 2.2% for Li-Ion.

Charge/Discharge Efficiency of Nissan Li-ion vs. NiMH
ParameterLi-ion NiMH
SOC Range % 30-85 39-80
Average Effective Power kW 4.28 4.25
Battery Temperature deg. C 49 52
Ah Efficiency % 98.8 90.7
Wh Efficiency % 95.1 83.4
Charge/Discharge Power Restriction Frequency % 2.2 44.2

Although Nissan is looking at all lithium-ion chemistries, the company currently favors a manganese anode with a spinel structure, enabling the battery to remain stable even under abnormal thermal conditions. The laminated cell structure enables higher cooling performance, and enables a more flexible layout with a thin structure.

According to Hirota, Nissan’s goal is to reduce the CO2 output of new vehicles to 70% of 2000 levels by 2050, and has a long-term focus on electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles powered by hydrogen from renewable sources. The company also sees plug-in hybrids as a potential mechanism to reduce CO2 output in the shorter term.

However, Hirota noted, the company has concerns about PHEVs, including battery cost, market demand, and the CO2 intensity of electricity.



YES! My battery metrics data was older then I thought and thats a dang fine improvement in overall eff.

Nissan’s goal is to reduce the CO2 output of new vehicles to 70% of 2000 levels by 2050
They'll be lucky if they aren't forced to do that by 2015.

Well, at least by 2020 in the US. Let's see if the Versa averages 30mpg then a reduction of 30% (70% of consumption) would net about 42mpg...not too shabby but kind of far from the target if they plan to have their overall fleet average meet the 35mpg requirements recently approved and they still sell SUVs, trucks, and vans.


The table quotes Ah efficiency for Li-Ion at 98.8% and Wh efficiency at 95.1%. What is the difference between these two numbers? I could speculate that it has something to do with voltage drop when drawing amps, but could someone who knows shed some real light on the issue, thanks.


How many miles did they drive a pack, did the capacity deteriorate after 3 years?. About 3 years is what we see in the RC world using cobalt based lipos.. personally I like the A123 cells, bulletproof!


you want to see bulletproof go to They have a saftey video where they actually shoot their batteries.


A123 has a similar video, they drive a nail thru a fully charged cell, nothing dramatic happens. There have been lots of scary fires recharging lithium-cobalt lipos in the RC field.. you can see lots of examples of charred vehicles and houses posted.

I would guess the cells capacity decreased to 80% at 150,000 miles or they would have kept on going with the test.



The difference in WH vs AH efficiency is due to voltage. It naturally takes more voltage to charge a cell than to discharge it. Therefore, for a given number of AH, the charging energy is greater than the discharge energy.

95% charge/discharge efficiency is pretty good! I've rarely seen it advertised for large format Lion cells. I've been assuming a lower number. I hope that real Lion cars achieve this when they hit the road. It will especially help make regenerative braking more of a win.


Kevin, all three lipo chemistry that I am familiar with are nearly 100% efficient in slow recharge, to the limit of my measuring equipment you put in the same WH that you take out, the cells never should warm up as they charge. On the other hand, nimh and nicad cells are about 80% efficient in recharge.

With lipos the only problem would be the internal resistance loss as it charges, that would waste some power. I routinely fully charge A123 cells in 10 minutes, and they do get warm, about 10deg, but that is abuse and they love it :)

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