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Panasonic EV Energy Co. Starting Studies Geared to Mass Production of Li-Ion Cells for Toyota

Panasonic EV Energy Co., the battery-making joint venture between Toyota and Matsushita, has begun studies at its Omori factory geared to the mass production of lithium-ion batteries, said Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe in his end-of-year press conference. The Omori factory currently produces NiMH cells.

Lithium-ion batteries are better suited than NiMH cells for use in plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, Watanabe said. Toyota, Matsushita, and Panasonic EV are currently conducting development on the cells and systems. Toyota’s current prototype plug-in hybrid uses a NiMH battery pack. (Earlier post.)

In the press conference, Watanabe briefly described Toyota’s three-pronged approach to sustainability: R&D into technology in pursuit of sustainable mobility; sustainable manufacturing and social contributions.

Hybrid technology will play a central role in achieving sustainable mobility, according to Watanabe, who noted that Toyota has now sold a cumulative 1.25 million hybrid vehicles worldwide. As previously stated, Toyota is targeting annual hybrid sales of 1 million units as early as possible in the 2010s, and will have a hybrid model in all Toyota series vehicles.

Watanabe referenced the ongoing testing of the plug-in hybrid prototypes in Japan and the US, saying that the company is making steady progress toward the commercialization of the plug-in vehicles.

In the area of energy research, he noted, Toyota has begun development of cellulosic ethanol.

Toyota recently selected four plants in various regions to be models for the sustainable plant concept announced earlier this year. The sustainable plants are designed to offer “ground-breaking environmental performance” to use renewable energy; and to contribute to the local community and environment.

The model plants are in Mississippi, the UK, France, and Thailand.

We are currently aware that the automobile industry has reached a turning point in many ways. For example, we must respond to expanding markets in countries exhibiting significant economic growth...and also address the environmental and energy issues on a global scale that will enable us to comply with the strengthening of regulations such as the recent US CAFE bill and the European CO2 draft.

We are aware that when responding to these changing circumstances, it would be extremely important to make individual decisions concerning things that must be changed and those that must be kept the same.

— Katsuaki Watanabe

Comments

Robert Martson

Per previous comments --

Doggy: According to nanosolar's own blog it is shipping panels for as little as 99 cents per watt NOW.

http://www.celsias.com/2007/12/23/nanosolar-update-first-panels-now-shipping/

According to the above article, the panels are available for as little as 90 cents per watt. May wish to consider the source.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/18/technology/18solar.html?ex=1355634000&en=091b06819623f9d0&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

http://www.engadget.com/2007/12/18/nanosolar-begins-shipping-world-s-lowest-cost-solar-panel/

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2007/dec/29/solarpower.renewableenergy

In the above article, I think you'll notice some very interesting statements:

"Yesterday Nanosolar said its order books were full until mid-2009 and that a second factory would soon open in Germany where demand for solar power has rocketed. Britain was unlikely to benefit from the technology for some years because other countries paid better money for renewable electricity, it added."

"This is the world's lowest-cost solar panel, which we believe will make us the first solar manufacturer capable of profitably selling solar panels at as little as 99 cents a watt," said Roscheisen yesterday.

"We are aiming to make solar power stations up to 10MW in size. They can be up and running in six to nine months compared to 10 years or more for coal-powered stations and 15 years for nuclear plants. Solar can be deployed very quickly," said Oldekop.

A few basic observations:

1. With 430 MW of production capacity and order books full until 2009, it seems that Nanosolar is, indeed, likely to reach its production potential in 2008.

2. The company, though secretive, is aiming to produce panels for as little as 99 cents per watt. Furthermore, it is currently stating that it is now able to produce the cheapest solar panels in the world.

3. Nanosolar is likely to light a fire under the already competitive and rapidly evolving solar power industry. Heliovolt is poised to use similar techonology while First Solar is striving to make its own powerful advances into the thin film arena.

4. Solar power does not suffer from the same scarcity, geopolitical, and environmental problems as traditional fossil fuels and nuclear. It is now able to provide clean, cost-competitive renewable energy rapidly to many customers worldwide. Since the demand has just barely been tapped, that capacity is only likely to expand.

5. Solar power is likely to become an increasingly viable and rapidly deployed energy source over the next decade.

Healthy Breeze

@JDT

Series Hybrid only makes sense if you assume you will eventually replace the generator with all batteries or a fuel cell. Neither seems as near-term as doing what UC Davis did in the Super Car contest in the 1990's. They did through-the-ground parallel hybrid, using a large electric motor, and PHEV60 (or so), and a 3-cylinder petrol engine just big enough to maintain freeway speeds on a flat stretch of highway. The well-to-wheels is much better with such a set up. The all-electric mode is much better than gas, and the parallel mode is much more efficient than series hybrids. Batteries, controls, and light-weight components have gotten cheaper since then. The car should pay for itself, now.

I believe they achieved 78 mpg in an aluminum-bodied Ford Sable 5-seat sedan.

Anything less is bunk.

Tagamet

@JDT

A little cynical are we? That's an AWFUL lot of conspiracy theory there. Do you have anything but conjecture to back them up?
T

JDT

@Tagamet - no conspiracy here. Just solid empirical business common sense.

If you owned half the market, and your "competitor" owned the other half - then what of the following will you do:

1- cut prices and squeeze profits, so you garner more market share at each other's expense, or

2- collude with the other guy and divvy the market, Maybe even do an M&A outright?

If you say #1, then obviously you have no idea about the business place, and how businessmen think and act.

So the question becomes a matter of anti-trust and gov't supervision. So any analysis of the market that does not include anti-collusion analysis, is an idealistic (i.e. worthless) analysis.

No conspiracy. Just players trying to maximize profits. This is just empiricological and not ideological.

JDT

@HB

If by through-the-ground you mean separate gas FWD and electric RWD (or vice versa), then the losses will be phenomenal. It will never be as efficient as a SPHEV or SHEV. Try charging the batteries with the ICE. hehehe

SHEVs have been shown to be more efficient than Parallel HEV. No transmission losses and ICE running at constant optimized speed.

Mike_A

I would agree with Healthy (i'm a powertrain engineer by trade BTW).

I my interpretation is correct through the road doesnot actually mean you charge the batteries that way. The ice acts as a direct drive device to (hopefully)efficiently handle much of the basic road load and the emotor handles the rest (accel braking idle power).

Through the road would be more efficient for a high % of hwy / fwy travel.

If I could run my little ice (less than 1000cc required for any car at legal speeds) with the most direct path to the rubber, I can give up a little peak efficiency and still beat the serial (maybe the cyclone engine ;-) ).

In town, it most likely tips back to serial with deeper discharge and more efficient recharge (must consider emmisions too.

My 2c

Mike_A

JDT

Mike_A, If a generator is 80% efficient (which is realistic), even SHEV would be superior to PHEV.

Because the transmission, differential, powertrain kills at least 20% of the power, not to mention ICE peak efficiency.

And not to mention cost, maintenance, repairs of powertrain.

Obviously your job is in danger. So such are your biases.

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