Solazyme Unveils Algal Renewable Diesel That Meets ASTM D-975 Specifications
Caterpillar Exiting On-Road Engine Business; Entering Strategic Alliance with Navistar

DOE Announces $30 Million for PHEV Projects

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will provide up to $30 million in funding over three years for three cost-shared Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) demonstration and development projects led separately by General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and General Electric.

The selected projects are designed to accelerate the development of PHEVs capable of traveling up to 40 miles without recharging, which includes most daily roundtrip commutes and satisfies 70% of the average daily travel in the US. The projects are also intended to address critical barriers to achieving DOE’s goal of making PHEVs cost-competitive by 2014 and ready for commercialization by 2016.

The projects selected will be developed between Fiscal Years 2008-11 and demonstrated in geographically diverse regions to identify performance, operation, and fuel economy in a real-world environment. DOE’s funding for these projects, which is subject to Congressional appropriations, will be combined with an industry cost share of 50%.

Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Andy Karsner announced the funding at the “Plug-In Electric Vehicles 2008: What Role for Washington?” conference, sponsored by the Brookings Institution and

The funding represents the first round of selections under DOE’s PHEV Technology Acceleration and Deployment Activity funding opportunity announcement. A second round of applications is due July 18, 2008. The following three projects were selected:

  • General Motors has been selected for negotiation of an award for a project aimed at enhancement of Lithium-Ion battery packs, charging systems, powertrain development, vehicle integration, and vehicle validation. Following development, the PHEVs will be deployed over a three year period into a demonstration fleet in three regions of the US.

    Other team members include Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

  • Ford Motor Company has been selected for negotiation of an award for a project to identify a pathway that accelerates commercial mass-production of PHEVs. The project will focus on development of battery systems and deployment of prototype PHEVs. The project will test and demonstrate the propulsion system design, controls, and communications necessary to develop a viable PHEV production program.

    Team members include Southern California Edison, Electric Power Research Institute, and Johnson Controls-Saft, Inc.

  • General Electric has been selected for negotiation of an award for a demonstration of PHEVs that relies upon an innovative dual-battery energy storage system capable of 40 miles accumulated electric driving range. The project will focus on developing the dual-battery energy storage system in parallel with vehicle integration.

    GE is partnering with Chrysler for this project.




Axil, you might be surprised how many houses can support battery recharge already. They can be spotted by the existence of telltale signs such as having refrigerators, washers and dryers, toasters, and televisions.


In many older cities Like DC, Baltimore, and Phila,… There only exists on-street parking. On small side streets, only single side parking is permitted. If your house is on the non parking side of the street, then you would have to run your charging cord over the street to the parking side of the street. This is not good for the cord.

If you can’t envision row housing, take a trip to your closest large city and visit their neighborhoods.

In summary, electric cars will not work in high density city living conditions because of the lack of parking close to the house. A parking space is filled first come first serve; like in the mall lot. That is why fast charging stations are required.

An example of government "helping us". Extract tax money, use about three times the money handed out in "administrative expenses", and give money for "demonstrations" that have no practical result or any needed output.

Ideally the politicians or either party, would like to hand out 30 million, one dollar demonstration projects. It would be about as technically productive too. That would be superior, and maximize the vote buying, the real genuine objective.

The amount handed out is too small for much more than glorified paper studies; therefore accomplishing basically nothing. The results won't be available until three to five years after the manufacturer's (eg GM w Volt), place a real PHEV product in the marketplace.

GM like its competitors, will likely spend an amount of money commensurate with the problem. Something on the order of $1-3 Billion dollars to do so, is the usual cost to develop and build a new vehicle model. $20-30 million is an irrelevant pittance.

Isn't it grand to have a government energy policy? What would we possible do without it? Lets EXPAND the oh so helpful government, even more.


MG, a 20 mile pack needs twice the power density of a 40 mile pack. 20 mile packs will also tend to be recharged twice per day (at home and at work), so you need twice the cycle life. PHEV duty cycle is already tough enough, doubling the power and cycle life specs puts you beyond the reach of today's battery technology.

What about PHEV-10s or PHEV-7s, like the 2010 Saturn Vue PHEV or rumored Prius 'double-pack' NIMH PHEV? These cars run in blended mode, under acceleration or at high-speed the ICE kicks in so the small battery pack only needs to provide a portion of vehicle power. This slashes your battery power spec -- instead of 100-150 kW peak battery power a blended design can get away with 25-40 kW.

Blended mode is not only easy on the battery pack, it can also save a lot of money on motors and power electronics. The two main downsides are emissions and marketing. Firing up a cold ICE every time you accelerate is an emissions nightmare. The ICE would need to continue running a few minutes the first time it starts to achieve operating temperature, which wastes a lot of fuel if you're only going 3-5 miles. This feeds into the marketing problem -- blended mode PHEVs don't offer any true EV range. The salesman who can say "our car burns zero gas during your commute, theirs starts burning gas as soon as you pull out of your neighborhood" has a big advantage.


your assumption that "a 20 mile pack needs twice the power density of a 40 mile pack" would be valid if you'd be doing downsizing of an initial 40 mile battery pack to the 20 mile one.

My assumption was that the base 20 mile pack (or another size) could provide sufficient power (ie current) to run the motor at max power, but with limited range (or running time).
If you add one or two,three more battery packs you'd theoretically have an ability to improve car performance if the base batt pack cannot provide enough power to the motor, but it was not my idea.
Anyway most people would probably prefer to have limited range and be able to run motor at full power with the base pack, than to have reduced power.
With control electronic you can do it either way (they in Tesla raodster manage battery pack of almost 7,000 individual batteries and provide fault-tolerant operation).

In short the idea was that the base pack can provide enough power for the max performance of the installed motor.
Another possibility is that a more powerfull version of the same car (with bigger motor) would use the same battery packs and compartment (but a higher spec inverter), and it would be shipped with at least 2 battery packs or with stronger ones.

Actually this modular concept would be most suitable for BEVs, or for serial hybrids that are mostly used in pure electric mode (which will be usually the case, I guess).

See what Carlos Ghosn (Nissan and Renault CEO) does - starts with BEVs, after selling some HEV Sentras based on licenced Toyota design. He assigns resources to BEVs.
He's able to predict trends in auto industry, better than most other auto executives.

charging base pack twice a day:
If somebody needs more than 20 miles, then they have an option to install another battery pack, or charge twice a day and then add another pack (or replace it) after 4 years (instead after 8 yrs with once-a day charging), again opportunity to save money as batteries get cheaper down the road.

Re. "blended mode" - many options are possible, you mentioned some.
I guess they are all based on parallel hybrid design that use complex and expensive mechanical device where they "blend outputs" of the ICE and an el motor.
Even if batteries are as cheap as bricks, such designs will always carry a significant cost premium.

IMHO those paralel hybrids are mostly suitable for start-stop vehicles like garbage trucks and public transport buses.


This technology already exists from the Raser company. Why not award the money directly to Raser rather than wasting it to the big 3 or other bully companies?

We know that the money will just disappear after strong showing from their lobby group. This just same old politics as usual. They give lip service about their supposedly "good" intentions and project some ambitious mileage goals. Then suddenly everything is forgotten and the money disappears. This has happened many times, why trust them?


In short the idea was that the base pack can provide enough power for the max performance

It's a nice idea. Now all you have to do is invent the battery that can do it.

If somebody needs more than 20 miles, then they have an option to install another battery pack, or charge twice a day and then add another pack (or replace it) after 4 years

Sounds logical, but marketplace reality is hybrid batteries are warranted for 10 year/150k miles. IMHO it's impossible to market a mainstream car with a battery you have to replace in four years.

Re. "blended mode" - ....
I guess they are all based on parallel hybrid design that use complex and expensive mechanical device

The "complex and expensive mechanical device" which provides blended mode in Toyota, Ford and Nissan hybrids is a planetary gearset you can hold in your hand. It's possibly the single most robust drivetrain component on the road today. I don't know its price but I doubt it costs Toyota more than $40. Toyota can use such a simple and cheap mechanical device because they spend extra on motors (less than pure serial designs like E-Flex, though!).

The GM/BMW/Daimler/Chrysler two-mode system is more complex, with two planetary gearsets plus some auto-tranny-style clutches. It offers better highway efficiency than HSD and much better than serial.

The simplest blended mode system PHEV system uses a simple spline fitting, basically an auto tranny's lockup device, to connect or disconnect the ICE to the wheels. When the device disengages the car runs as an EV or pure serial hybrid. When it engages the car is a pure parallel hybrid. The device only engages at speed, e.g. above 30 mph. Very simple, robust, efficient and cheap. Battery, power electronic and motor cost savings could easily be a few thousand dollars. The only downside is emissions -- as in any blended system the engine, once started, should run until warmed up. I believe BYD uses this system, though details are sketchy.


batteriess based on lithium titanate (EnerDel, Altairnano) have very high charge and discharge rate.
Re: claim "the base pack can provide enough power for the max performance":
I'll show you that EnerDel battery pack for 20 mile range can provide enough power for decent performance of (at least) a small car.
(All data applicable to EnerDel batts, from several sources)
They claim "very high discharge efficiency for rates up to 50C", and cell sizes are 1.8Ah and 5Ah capacity with nominal voltage of 2.5 V.
And 3,000 charges at 55 degC 5C charge/discharge, without loss of capacity.

For calculations I'll use 5 Ah, 2.5V cell.

From Think car data w/ EnerDel batts:
Approx 10 km range with every 15 kg of battery (almost the same ratio as for Tesla w/ diff type of battery).
So for 20 mile (32 km) range, a 50 kg (rounding up 48) heavy battery is needed. They have Energy Density >80 Wh/kg.
For a pack of 50 kg it's 4.0 kWh energy.
Number of cells is: 4,000 Wh / (2.5V * 5Ah) = 320 cells.
Assuming 10 C discharge rate (ie 50 A/cell) x 320 cells x 2.5 V = 40 kW (54.4 HP) - available electric power.
(Whatever way you connect cells in blocks, the above calculation for 10C should be valid).

So with a conservative assumption of 10C discharge (50 A) we get 40 kW (54.4 HP) electric power.
And on their presentation they draw charts with 2C to 50C discharge, with 1C to 10C discharges not reducing the available capacity.
(BTW Smart For Two car with 700 cc engine has 45 kw (it's peak power), and 95 Nm Max torque)
Possibly that 20C (or higher) short discharge (for 108 HP) may reduce slightly the capacity (and range) (the same thing happens with range of gasoline powered cars if you accelerate too much, and too often!).

I think this is proof of concept that a 4.0 KWh EnerDel battery EnerDel pack can provide range of 20+ miles, and provide decent acceleration, better than very popular (in Europe) Smart for Two.

These EnerDel batteries should be available in volume in 2009. Price is not known.

Re: "...but marketplace reality is hybrid batteries are warranted for 10 year/150k miles" .
For BEV the warranty for batteries will probably contain a clause "under normal driving conditions"
with a fine print stating something like Max 3,000 recharges, or 10 years, whichever comes first.
Otherwise some couriers may charge cars twice a day regularly.

So how can an automaker know how many times the battery pack was recharged?
Simply save the nr. of charges in a flash memory, like the odometer reading in newer cars.
Implement some sophisticated algorithm to count how much energy was charged, for given interval (every 24 hrs, or 7 days).
To prevent swapping batteries from a vehicle under warranty into the same model with expired battery warranty (and then back when the pack wears out, and claim defective battery ) they can add a flash memory to each battery pack where would be stored say ID of last 5 cars on which the battery pack was used.
Batteries are connected via CAN network, all that is feasible.

The Mitsu MiEV to be released soon, will use GS Yuasa batteries.
According to available info in English they're in almost every aspect inferior to EnerDel batteries, especially in cold weather. Plus they support up to 2,000 charges.
They may warrant batteries for up to 2,000 charges, who doesn't like, doesn't have to buy it.

Re paralel hybrid systems - I'll asume you're right.

John L.

@Larry: "I live on the south side of Baltimore and travel to the north side of DC."

Larry, I used to live in Baltimore myself. You live alongside the best inter-city rail corridor in the United States. Is it impossible for you to use it? I certainly did when I lived there.

John L.

@George: "I hope GM wises up and offers a "half battery" Volt that costs thousands less for guys like me, because I almost never need 40 miles on a charge."

I agree. I would even buy Toyota's Prius PHEV prototype which was described here a few months ago. It can only drive seven miles in all-electric mode.

BUT they achieved this PHEV-7 by simply doubling up the NiMH battery back in the standard Prius. I estimate that would add just $3,000 to the purchase price. And they may be managing the battery charge a bit more aggressively than in the standard Prius, so battery replacement might come a bit sooner too.

Most of my family's trips are SHORT! And that was planned. Like you, my wife and I decided to live in a smaller home, closer to work, rather than move out to an ex-urban McMansion.

My wife's commute is our longest and fastest typical trip. That's 24 miles, and in her hands the car gets about 46 MPG (less than me, I can top 50). With seven miles of electric charge, her mileage, for her long commute, should increase to 65 MPG. Our slower, shorter trips should be better still. I can see us getting an aggregate 80 MPG, for just $3,000 more.


MG, EnerDel's lithium titanate cells claim to have high power density and long cycle life, but they're not in the Think! City. That car has their "hard carbon" anode with energy density but lower power density than LTO.

Think! says the 27 kWh pack delivers 170/180 km range (Euro/US mixed drive cycles). You'd need a 5 kWh pack for 20 miles in a mini-car like Think! and 7-8 kWh for a real car like Chevy Volt or Toyota Prius.

Could a 5-8 kWh LTO pack handle the power and cycle life specs? Don't know. EnerDel and Altairnano talk a good game but neither seems able to produce cells. Why didn't GM pick EnerDel LTO for the Chevy Volt? Why is Think! adding A123 just prior to production after years of working with EnerDel? Why did Altair do an exclusive with flaky company Phoenix, then have to recall the batteries? It sounds like LTO simply isn't ready for prime time.

A123 may be a stronger candidate for a PHEV-20, since they seem to have power density to spare, but GM execs indicate A123 is losing out to LG Chem in the Volt competition. Since the PHEV-40 duty cycle is less taxing than PHEV-20, it seems A123 isn't there yet either.

I was exaggerating when I said "now you just have to invent the batteries". The batteries which can handle PHEV-20 duty cycle aren't here yet but they don't need to be invented, just perfected. Give it 5 years. In fact, a GM exec mused the other day that they may ship a PHEV-20 as a lower cost option in the 2013 time frame.


The real technical challenge for building "usable" PHEV is to design the plug-in charging system that doesn’t required humans to physically plug the car into an electrical outlet. Who is working this issue?

The comments to this entry are closed.