Report: Mitsubishi Heavy To Enter Automotive Lithium-Ion Battery Market
22 January 2007
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (MHI) plans to produce lithium-ion batteries for electric and hybrid cars and market them to automakers worldwide by 2010, according to a report in The Nikkei.
The company plans to conduct test drives using the batteries in prototype vehicles by as early as next year. MHI showed a prototype electric vehicle powered by li-ion batteries last year at the Renewable Energy 2006 International Exhibition in Japan. The company also reportedly plans to develop electric motors for cars, with the intention of packaging batteries and motors together.
Mitsubishi Heavy has been working with Kyushu Electric Power Co. since the 1990s to develop large lithium-ion battery packs for stationary power storage units. The partners have been testing a 24 kWh grid-connected pack since September 2003. As a result, MHI has accumulated basic technologies in areas such as materials.
The prismatic cells for the stationary application use lithium manganese oxide, and are 270 Wh-class, with energy density of 160 Wh/kg and an expected cycle life of 3,500.
Kyushu Electric Power is also one of the power companies partnering with Mitsubishi Motors on the development and testing of the all-electric Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle (i MiEV). Fleet testing of that vehicle is due to begin this month. (Earlier post.)
Production of the automotive li-ion cells will be at the Nagasaki shipyard. MHI recently sent samples to some of Japan’s top automakers—presumably Mitsubishi Motors being one.
Development of Small Size, Light Weight and High Power IPM Motor for Electric Vehicle (Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. Technical Review Vol.40 No.5 (Oct. 2003))
It looks like A123 and AltairNano have some big competitors in Japan...and that's good for prices and us.
Posted by: Skrivo | 22 January 2007 at 11:06 AM
Correct me if I'm wrong, but couldn't some of these existing technologies be combined to produce a superior batter. e.g. Altairs nano-Titanate anode material with Electrovayas Lithiated Manganese Oxide higher energy density chemistry. Could that combination even be made in a bi-polar format?
Posted by: Neil | 22 January 2007 at 11:24 AM
What we are still lacking is an open-source design for a lithium-ion battery management system. ( Open source hardware has been successfully done before, see the Open Source Motion Control or OSMC project )
That would let people around the world put together large packs of existing cells for automotive applications and conversions.
With li-ion storage in small cell formats already widely available at prices around $150-200/kWh, people could take and build completely practical EVs everywhere.
Posted by: kert | 22 January 2007 at 11:50 AM
Very good idea with the open-source-thought. This would be an opponent to the present partnerships between the leading car and battery manufacturer. Small businesses and private users could then also buy very good Li-Ion-cells/batteries.
Posted by: Markus | 22 January 2007 at 12:39 PM
Didn't Toyota buy into Fuji Heavy a while back? Initially, I heard it might be to get in on their Diesel tech, perhaps this battery tech will reach the 09 Prius re-design.
Posted by: r node | 22 January 2007 at 02:33 PM
I believe Toyota bought into Isuzu for diesel tech. I could be wrong and it was GM.
In any event, I agree with Kert about developing an open source battery management system. This would speed the retrofit of the world's vehicle fleet. Municipalities could retrofit emergency response vehicles (police, fire, ems) to get things started. They would benefit from reduced TCO and probably increased reliability.
I would also like to see some sort of standard created for packaging the batteries (kinda like ATX, only for cars). This would allow a user to take their batteries from one vehicle body to the next and finance them separately. Financing the batteries over their expected life span could drastically reduce initial investment ($40k doesn't look as bad over 10+ years).
Does anyone else find 3,500 cycles to be on the low side? At full charge/discharge daily (likely IMO) the pack would last 9.5 years. That doesn't seem acceptable, though I feel twice that would be.
Posted by: John | 22 January 2007 at 03:12 PM
At full discharge 3500 cycles represents 700000 km for a electic car with a 24 kwh battery. If that is acheived it should prove more than acceptable.
It is good to here alternatives reaching this level, hopefully it increases the chance that these batterys will find an acceptable life/energy density/cost that will see them take leading role in transportation applications
Posted by: Martin | 22 January 2007 at 06:33 PM
Unless the cycle number is ridiculously low enough to be a pain it's really just a part of the price. Not only that, but the lifetime given is usually the cycles until degradation is about 15%, you still have lots of life left if you aren't pushing it to its limit every day.
Posted by: Neil | 22 January 2007 at 07:21 PM
Fuji heavy and Mitsubishi Heavy are completely different companies. Think Subaru when you think Fuji HI.
Posted by: Patrick | 22 January 2007 at 09:41 PM
Bi-polar design of Electro Energy is the way of assembling of big batteries. Practically any battery of different chemistry could be made this way. This particular design offers superb heat dissipation, equalization of current through electrodes, and eliminate costly circuitry to assure equal charge/discharge rate of individual battery elements. Unfortunately, current HEV and PHEV developers prefer so far to assemble they batteries from numerous off-shelf cylindrical elements. It could change when (and if) their electric vehicles will go into mass production.
Posted by: Andrey | 23 January 2007 at 01:44 AM
It seems to be too early to standardize the Litium batteries (and others) for Hybrids, PHEVs and EVs. There is still too much development work to be done. I doubt if manufacturers would want to over-standardize the storage units + drive trains + control systems at this time.
Car lead batteries still come in various formats + connectors, but the voltage went form 6 to 12 volts and has been standard for many years. Will we see 42 volts soon, if ICE vehicles last long enough.
Posted by: Harvey D. | 23 January 2007 at 01:23 PM