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DOE Makes Draft Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle R&D Roadmap Available for Comment

Preliminary schedule for PHEV work. Click to enlarge.

The DOE Office of FreedomCAR and Vehicle Technologies (FCVT) has developed a Draft Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle R&D Plan to accelerate the development and deployment of technologies critical for plug-in hybrid vehicles. (Earlier post.)

This plan addresses all aspects of R&D from technology assessment through production readiness. It describes the necessary development of batteries and electric drive components, including near- and mid-term R&D activities as well as long-term fundamental research.

It also relies on analytical studies to quantify the potential national benefits of PHEVs, and the monitoring of global policy and technological developments to find opportunities for beneficial collaboration and stay aware of the latest advances from around the world.

DOE is proposing two generations of technology development actions in addition to long-term R&D. The agency expects the resulting component developments, when integrated and validated in a vehicle environment, to produce necessary data for technology transfer and production readiness decisions by industry.

FCTV is inviting interested parties to review the draft PHEV R&D Plan and comment. FCVT has targeted a release of the plan by April 20.

Battery performance requirements versus vehicle application. A PHEV battery will experience both deep discharges like an EV (i.e., the large swings in SOC shown in green) and shallow cycling necessary to maintain the battery for power-assist in charge sustaining HEV mode (in yellow). Click to enlarge.

Lithium-ion Batteries. DOE has worked on developing Li-ion battery technology for years in partnership with the auto industry in areas such as technology development, applied research, and focused fundamental research. While this work is directly applicable to the PHEV R&D activity, PHEV requirements are more complex.

Battery requirements are extremely sensitive to vehicle design (i.e., all-electric or charge-depleting range) and a single PHEV design has not been (and likely will never be) agreed upon. This means that battery development must cover a range of requirements from providing essentially the same functionality as in today’s hybrids (sharing power demands with the engine) to providing all the vehicle propulsion power as well as accessory loads (that could double the demand).

The requirements for a PHEV battery combine those of an electric vehicle (EV) which only depletes the battery during operation (i.e., “charge depleting only”) and a typical HEV in production today that maintains the battery state of charge within bounds (i.e., “charge sustaining”). In addition to the stringent duty cycle, the power-to-energy (P/E) ratio (an influential design parameter) is specific to each vehicle application.

—PHEV R&D plan

Acknowledging the uncertainties, DOE is developing near-, medium- and long-term goals for battery development.

  • Near term: 10 mile all-electric range (AER) for a mid-size SUV, implying a 5-10kWh battery with approximately 40 kW peak power, costing no more than $4,000.

  • Medium-term: To be established as PHEV requirements solidify.

  • Long-term: 40 mile AER for a mid-size passenger car, and the same $4,000 system cost.

Spider chart comparing Li-ion and NiMH to DOE targets. Click to enlarge

While Li-ion batteries are making significant progress and offer significant advantages in higher specific energy and power than NiMH batteries, cost remains an challenge and durability with a PHEV duty cycle remains a question.

In approaching Li-ion battery development for PHEVs, DOE is using its approach applied to the development of NiMH batteries in the 1990s: highly interactive fundamental and applied R&D.

  • Phase 1 has national laboratories and universities performing exploratory research on materials with long-term potential to improve Li-ion technology.

  • Phase 2 has the national laboratories and industry/USABC focusing on cell development—s new, higher energy materials in appropriately sized cells/modules. This includes the Li-based cell configurations of Enerdel, CPI/LG Chem and A123 systems.

  • Phase 3 has industry/USABC) design and build battery systems for evaluation in the laboratory and validation with industry (suppliers and OEMs) within their development environment to accelerate technology transfer. The latest generation of Li-ion batteries by Johnson Controls-SAFT is presently undergoing tests at ANL.

  • Phase 4 concentrates on cost reduction through the refinement of the battery design and materials in concert with the processes and equipment required for low-cost volume battery manufacturing. Earlier Li battery developments by SAFT have entered this stage of development as well as ultracapacitors (by Nescap and Maxwell) and low-cost separators (by Celgard, UMT and AMS).

Battery R&D schedule. Click to enlarge.

The DOE/USABC will release a PHEV battery solicitation in Q2 FY07 and expects to begin benchmarking or proof of concept contracts by early spring 2007. Similarly, the applied and focused fundamental research activities are planning to ramp up work on higher energy battery materials and cells following approval of the 2007 DOE budget.

Power electronics and electric machines. (PEEM) The DOE notes that PHEVs do not present any additional technical barriers for electric drive components since the power requirements fall within the spectrum of previously considered hybrid and electric vehicles.

In examining the different options for a PHEV architecture (parallel power-sharing and series), DOE notes that the parallel power-sharing configuration (e.g., today’s production hybrids) with a modified control strategy to allow battery charge depletion for PHEV application is likely be the most cost-effective and have the least impact on the motor and power electronics. However, it also notes, because of cost, mass and packaging considerations, performance may be compromised.

In a series hybrid configuration such as the Volt, full-function electric traction components (more than twice the power as in current production hybrids) are required for full-time electric drive. This exacerbates electric propulsion system cost, but the smaller engine-generator system (used to extend the range) and the elimination of the mechanical drive should cost less than the conventional engine and driveline components. And from a longer term perspective, development of higher power electric drive components for PHEVs will benefit fuel cell vehicles where all traction and accessory power will be supplied electrically.

DOE’s PEEM activity is developing technology to meet the requirements of a variety of hybrid and electric propulsion (including fuel cell vehicles). The broad spectrum of applications and propulsion system configurations necessitates multiple technology development paths that cover components as well as integrated systems (such as the integrated motor-inverter design under development). Work in all areas is focused on improving performance, reducing volume or lowering cost.

DOE has four primary development goals in the PEEM area, including PHEV-specific activity:

  • Motor R&D. Decreasing the cost and size of electric motors requires increasing speed (i.e., higher power from smaller machines) and/or redesigning for increased material utilization or lower cost materials.

    Ongoing FY07 PEEM R&D activities are focused on high speed 16,000 rpm permanent magnet motors that achieve field weakening within the structure of the motor and eliminate the need for a DC/DC boost converter. Motor speeds up to 20,000 rpm are being explored.

    Several motor designs with system-level savings for PHEVs are being explored. A motor concept with controllable winding configurations is being developed that enables high starting torque with considerably less power from the battery, potentially lowering battery cost and weight. A traction motor with a substantially higher CPSR than that required for an HEV or FCV would enable reductions in gearing that will provide vehicle cost and weight reductions.

  • Power Electronics R&D. Reducing the cost and size of the power electronics requires addressing the (large) capacitors, waste heat (more tolerant components, reducing heat or dissipating it more efficiently) and new designs that reduce parts count by integrating functionality.

    A current source inverter (as opposed to a conventional voltage source inverter) is being designed and developed to eliminate the DC bus capacitor by using inductors. A portfolio of projects is being pursued that spans a range of cooling temperatures.

    A long term focus, possibly in conjunction with higher temperature wide bandgap semiconductor components such as SiC, is the use of high temperature, air-cooled systems. Such an approach would insure that technologies are being developed for all potential future vehicle platforms (HEV, PHEV, and FCV).

    Several efforts are being directed specifically at PHEV applications, including determining the potential to use the existing HEV inverter to fulfill the plug-in charging function on the vehicle. A bidirectional DC/DC converter is being explored to reduce cost and volume.

  • Thermal control R&D. The objective is to maintain the electronic devices at operating temperatures that will ensure performance and reliability over the life of the vehicle while reducing system cost, weight, and volume.

  • Integrated Systems Development. Efforts are being initiated to integrate the motor and inverter, focusing on development of a system that will accommodate the spectrum of performance requirements of internal combustion engine hybrid and fuel cell vehicles. The resulting range of requirements encompasses the needs of envisioned PHEVs.

PEEM Development targets. Click to enlarge.

DOE is also considering other vehicle efficiency technologies in the R&D plan. DOE does not consider vehicle-to-grid (V2G) power flow as a short-term enabler for PHEV technology, although it does acknowledge that V2G could have system-level benefits. With respect to PHEV-grid interaction, therefore, the DOE is focusing on the specific requirements of the interface for vehicle charging and the impact of charging on the grid and utilities.

DOE is requesting comments via email (addressed to [email protected]) on this draft plan no later 28 March.

(A hat-tip to Mark!)




Nice to see our tax $ working for a change at the DOE.
Will Li-on batteries ever be cheap enough and what about the lithium supply issue? So we need a super battery that’s made of cheap material say like Aluminum. This Mr. Rainer Partanen at Europositron is looking for some R & D funding ($2.4M Euros) to get his prototype Aluminum batteries built. Doesn’t anyone know someone who could help out with the funding here? Anyhow, he got a Frost & Sullivan Award for Technology Innovation Of The Year 2005 so this technology doesn’t sound like a scam. So anyone here who comments on this GCC site got a funding connection (send out e-mails to everyone you know) or all of you just a bunch of talking heads?

Ron Fischer

A plan for "accelerating" development which doesn't produce results until the year 2015? Or: take something garage tinkerers can make work today and push its release out to the same timeframe as fuel cells? ...and it doesn't even deal with V2G in all that time?


Otto: The price of batteries is high, the total supply of Lithium is huge. We may talk a lot but we each do what we can. Most of us don't have a couple of Million to throw around.

Ron: I am glad to see some money spent on this, I just have the feeling that reality will quickly pass by this bunch. I hope they do some real research and not spend time coming up with plans to do something that's already being done. Their time line is hardly what I'd call ambitious.


Wait. So we're concerned with powering an SUV for 10 miles, but aren't looking into powering a compact the size of an Aveo with cheap lead acid batteries? Cut the drag coefficient, drop on some RE92s (or similar), and viola, 100+ mile range all electric, and plug-in capacity, for around $20,000, probably less... I'm not sure what the margins are for mass produced EV components since the closest has been hybrid systems, but if Toyota can put together a hybrid with more luxury features that their top of the line family sedan for less cash, I'm pretty sure someone can manage an electric motor and a big enough battery pack to go 100 miles for $10k. Hell, I bet the damn thing could have enough NiMHs or Li-whatevers to go for ~100 miles with $7k.


This study seems dated. Toyota is going to reduce the cost of the Prius car by 50% they think. And according to some leaks the car will get 90mpg. How? reduced weight ad more power using LiIon -vs- Nimh.
Then there are independants that cant promise huge numbers making electric cars as well. The pickup truck SUT. 75K sports cars. The 50K conversions. You mean this cant get huge reductions in cost by mass production? Why cant the Chevy Volt offer 3 battery pack options? You stick em into the car one at a time.

Add Pack 1 gets you 40 miles of electric only and costX
Add Pack 2 you 80 miles of electric only and costX
Add Pack 3 you get 120 miles of electric only and costX

There are answers to cost if you want to deliver a product. I think all GM wants to do is deliver an
image and it pains me to say Toyota is delivering product.


Bob, won't LiIon batteries make it cost more??? And how do you drop that weight, using aluminum? That would also make it cost more. I don't see better milage happening(especially that much better) while decreasing the price by 50%.



An Aveo pushed up to $20,000 with an additional 500lbs weight (giving TREMENDOUSLY long braking distances, requiring a rework of the suspension, and causing the poor handling car to have even worse handling...not too mention the acceleration hit) would have trouble selling more than a 1000 units a year. Anyone who is on the fence and not an extreme environmentalist that test drives such a car would be asking why it turned out as such a piece of junk with the current state of our technology.


Given the assumed size of the batteries in the near term (5 to 10kwhr), you get more range if you focus on compact or subcompact cars than if you focus on a mid size SUV. If you can get a 20 mile range as opposed to a ten mile range, then you can cover commuting distance for 80% of the American public.

I second the notion that focusing on the mid range SUV in the near term is a short sighted approach that will not maximize the efficiency and utility of whatever battery they come up with. Could it be that they are being influenced by the American car companies who still want to flog the SUV concept for all it's worth. Likely, since the American companies have yet to demonstrate that they can compete in the car segment.

If one's goal is just to get off oil, then miles per kwhr is less important than if part of your goal is to cut greenhouse gases. Regardless of whether or not we move to a more electrically oriented transportation system, significant reductions can only be achieved by moving to a lighter, smaller fleet of vehicles.

I also second the idea that auto companies should provide people a range of options when it comes to batteries for a PHEV or a BEV. Provide a ten, twenty, and thirty mile option and let people choose based on their preferences, needs, and pocket book.


Yes, this study is outdated and next to useless. We have 10 KWH Lithium batteries (Hymotion etc) right now. We have 40 mile range + batteries right now, the SUT of Pheonix Motors. What we need is battery production facilities, not verbage lifted from last years newspaper.

We will not bring the price down unles we build the production facilities. $500 per KWH may not be right around the corner, but the folks who spend $40,000 on SUV's can afford 20 KWHs of storage even if the cost is near $20,000. The truth is we cannot afford not to switch off fossil fuel both from a security view and from an envirnomental view.

Harvey D.

It seems that Toyota + Japanese battery makers will achieve most (if not all) of the stated objectives by 2009/10 without help from DOE.

Is this a way to help the Big-3 + US battery makers to catch up with Toyota etc?
Either way, it is a very positive move.

Will China sit back and look at what others are doing in that field for much longer? When will they buy production rights?

Who will build the 500+ million low cost, high efficiency, long lasting PHEV-BEV energy storage units required? China-India-Japan or USA?


Wait a minute. Something wrong with numbers. 10 KWh Li battery will drive even SUV in full electric mode for at least 30 miles, not 10.



Interesting link. Anyone else have info on this guy/tech? The claims seem to be quite bold in terms of power density, roughly 7 times what anyone else has achieved using aluminum (all of which is basically one time use stuff).

I agree with the others here that the DOE should set more aggressive targets.

The private sector will take care of said battery development on its own. A lot of people are starting to see the writing on the wall with regards to the traditional ICE.

The DOE should cooperate with the DOE to come up with some sort of battery form factor standard (much like ATX for computers) so that batteries with exceptional charge cycle ratings (such as Altair's nanosafe) can be taken from one vehicle to the next.


Ok people your getting wacky. They are simply usuing a proven setup as used before to now push lith tech along.

The first thing they do as always is study fundamenals to see if they can improve the fundamental aspects of the tech. This is vital because its something the companies generaly cant do and it COULD result in a massive change.

Secondly they work with companies right now and later on to develope various battery chemestries. They ae already doing this. They will do it again if fundamentals result in a new better lith tech.

Then the stated first goal is a 4000 buck bat pack that can go 10 miles in a mid sized suv 5-19 kwh x kw power blah blah blah blah. That does NOT mean they only care about suvs it just is the yardstick.

They wont cut corners they will do the full plan on this.

Yeesh next time think before you spew.


When you are in a war, time is of the essence. This is the kind of timetable you use when you have all the time in the world. I'm guessing they didn't use this kind of timetable for the Manhattan project (I might wish they had).

If I were more paranoid I'd suggest that this is a stalling tactic to help out the fuel cell people.



Well, the company has been around for a long time, some kind of investment opportunity has been marketed for the past 5 years or so despite the company getting fined for fraudulent advertising by the equivalent of the American SEC.

No prototype has ever been demonstrated (the prototype will of course be made immediately once funding has been secured.. right), the description of the technology on the website is a bunch of pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo (oh yeah, it's based on "nanomolecule" technology), most of the website concentrates on describing how the invention will change the world, with plenty of hyperbole and buzzwords of course. Patent applications have apparently been made a long time ago, but no patent has ever been granted.

Need I go on? If this doesn't scream scam to you, I've got a bridge to sell you.


Yesplease - a lead-acid Aveo w/100 mile range will need a 30 kWh battery pack (I'm using 80% DoD on the batteries). Lead acid runs about 30 kg/kWh, so you're looking at a 900 kg battery pack, or 2000 pounds. An Aveo can't carry that much, so you're done before you start. Lead-acid could meet your original cost target, but few customers are willing to pay $3000 to replace the batteries every 3 years. There's a reason lead-acid EVs never caught on.

Bob - Toyota is not going to reduce the cost of the Prius by 50%. They hope to reduce the cost difference between hybrid and non-hybrid by that much. Mass production would reduce the cost of EVs such as the Tesla and Phoenix Motorcars designs, but not dramatically. Most of the parts in those cars are already mass produced, including the Tesla's batteries.

The Volt's battery pack weighs about 400 lbs and costs an estimated $8000. A triple-pack would simply be too heavy and expensive. You could possibly switch to a different chemistry, but now you've got a completely different design. The vast majority of the population drive less than 40 miles on a typical day. And most people who drive 40+ can easily arrange to recharge at work or something. Why should GM go to all that extra trouble and expense just to address the few percent who need more than 40 miles of EV range on a daily basis?


Here's a nice little update for the EVs...


Phoenix Motorcars Signs Deal With Pacific Gas and Electric for All-Electric Vehicles
Wednesday February 28, 12:24 pm ET

Powered by Altairnano's NanoSafe Battery Packs and UQM's Electric Drive Motors

ONTARIO, CA--(MARKET WIRE)--Feb 28, 2007 -- Phoenix Motorcars announced today it received a purchase order for four of its zero-emission, all-electric sport utility trucks (SUTs) from Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) to be delivered in June. The SUTs, which are powered by UQM Technologies, Inc.'s (AMEX:UQM - News) propulsion system, Boshart Engineering's homologation process and Altairnano's (NasdaqCM:ALTI - News) NanoSafe(TM) 35kWh battery pack, will represent the only series of battery-electric trucks in the PG&E fleet.

Phoenix's SUT can travel at freeway-speeds while carrying five passengers and a full payload. The SUT exceeds all specifications for a Type III ZEV, having a driving range of over 100 miles, can be recharged in less than 10 minutes and has a battery pack with a lifespan of more than 12 years. PG&E plans to place a purchase order for 200 of Phoenix Motorcar's vehicles annually to assist in its daily operation of serving over 70,000 square miles in Central and Northern California.

"PG&E operates the fourth largest alternative-fuel truck fleet in the nation, and we are honored to supply them with a reliable all-electric vehicle to improve their fleet operations," says Daniel J. Elliott, CEO of Phoenix Motorcars. "We want to provide the California-fleet market with high-performance, zero-emission vehicles to reduce costs, improve air quality and protect public health."

Phoenix Motorcars targets operators of fleet vehicles, such as public utilities, public transportation providers and delivery services. A limited number of vehicles will be available to consumers in 2007 with an expanded consumer launch scheduled for 2008. Phoenix Motorcars will also introduce an SUV model in late 2007.


Hopefully Altair is making some headway in bringing the costs down. Being part of the 4th largest alternative-fleet will definately bring them some good exposure... possibly some new orders. I wonder if Altair can make good on their claim that they can bring down costs comparable to current li-ion batteries??? Only time will tell.


Yo Jb,

If Europositron a scam then why did Frost & Sullivan give him a technology award in 2005. Wouldn’t F & S be trashing their reputation over something like this, but you’re a scam expert now? Time to start thinking outside of the box! Did you think to contact F & S about this 2005 technology award? How much time and enough would it take for someone with some expertise this area to either prove or disprove this battery technology?



If they can show a UL test report on their batteries...or a european CE test report on their batteries...


Actauly the problem wit adding more batteries to a small car is it costs greater milage then it does in a large one. 1 pack might mean 50 mpg equive but 2 might be 40 and 3 might be 24 and at 5 you might not be able to reach highway speeds.

Thats why h2 is soo useful. You can get the short hop ev range and the h2 comp9onent weights less then 1 battery pack yet gives you HUGE range..

Yes its not as efficient but we are talking about maybe 2x the cost of something thats already far cheaper then gas...

And if we find a better battery we can increase the ev range and or lighten the load and thus increase fuel econ.


Patrick, I think a 500lb weight increase would increase braking distances proportionally. I suppose if you consider a couple passengers and some luggage TREMENDOUS, then sure, it may increase braking distances TREMENDOUSLY. Realistically, I'm guessing weight would be increased by a few hundred pounds, since the electric transmission and motor would weigh in at around 100lbs, a NiMH battery pack around 600lbs, and all the ICE related components probably weigh in at around 400lbs, we're at a few hundred pound increase. Which would increase braking distances proportionally, and a proportional increase in suspension stiffness (Oh no, 300lbs in a vehicle with a GVRW that's ~1000lbs more than it's curb weight!)would be needed. I suppose acceleration would suffer, just like it did with the EV1. Oh wait... The EV1 was a one off with next to no production (a couple hundred units per year), but it still managed better acceleration than the Aveo and 75-150 mile range for the NiMH version, for $30-40k per car... And that was almost ten years ago! Of course costs couldn't possibly go down with mass production and technological advances... That's such a silly idea. ;)

Let me put it this way, I don't have to be an extreme environmentalist to want cheap and efficient transportation. I have no problem paying more up front for some measure of insulation from rising liquid fuel costs and little to no maintenance. I mean, it's definitely cheaper to buy a used diesel, but in terms of new vehicles, not much could beat a mass produced EV in cost per mile. Even the RAV-4 EV at ~150,000 miles costs less than the gasoline RAV-4, with the premium associated with limited production.

John L.

The DOE's short-term goal is to push an SUV around for 10 miles on battery power, for an extra $4,000? That seems pretty modest.

I'm on record offering to pay an extra $2,000 to upgrade my Prius to a PHEV-10 -- or to buy a new one off the showroom floor.

Does this mean that this price point is achievable now?

Kerry Bascher

These kWhr requirements are obviously assuming some
pretty shallow DODs. 10 kwHr for 10 miles would be
appropriate for a 62 ton M1 Abrams, tank not an SUV.
I note that GM is assuming 70% DOD for their 40 mile
VOLT with a 17 kWhr pack. That's still a bit high, unless the VOLT weighs more than it appeared to from the photos.


To get a wider range of cars theygit a mark that is simpler to meet in a cheap package. 10 miles is a good round figire obviously just picked out of the air because it is so. A mid sized suv is the mid sized car. So this realy is going for a normal car going on a normal trip to the store on ev power alone. All for 4k


heres another nice little update for the ev´s
Cleanovas trial with La Poste in France has been a total sucess and they have just ordered 1000units of their litium ion powered ev, but get this , La Poste intends to change every van in their fleet over to electric,some 48000 vans!apparently the fleet managers cannot believe how well how well they work , how little maintanance they need , and the postmen like to drive them ! the down side is that there will be none of these cars for joe public to buy for the next 5 years or so !

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