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EnerDel in Partnership to Develop Li-ion Batteries for Bus and Heavy-Duty Markets

EnerDel, Ener1’s Li-ion battery subsidiary; the US Department of Energy (DOE); and a heavy-duty OEM are partnering to develop high-energy Li-ion batteries for hybrid bus and heavy-duty vehicle markets. The partnership is a Congressionally directed program with a total budget of $1.25 million, 80% of which will be funded by the National Energy Technology Laboratory at the DOE, and the remaining 20% percent will be funded by EnerDel.

The program is intended to test three EnerDel battery chemistries to determine which best meets the need of a heavy-duty drive cycle in extreme environments, ranging from hot and cold climates to  operating for two or three minutes in all-electric mode, said Charles Gassenheimer, Chairman and CEO of Ener1. The chemistries to be evaluated are:

  • Lithium manganese spinel (LiMn2O4-spinel, LMO) cathode, lithium titanate (Li4Ti5O12, LTO) anode
  • LMO cathode, hard carbon anode
  • Lithium layered metal oxide cathode (LiNiCoMnO2, NMC), hard-carbon anode
US Battery Industry Would Require $10B Investment to Meet 2015 Plug-in Goals
Meeting President-Elect Obama’s campaign goal of 1 million plug-in hybrids on the road by 2015 would require an investment of around $10 billion over the next two years if those battery packs were to be produced in the US, estimated Charles Gassenheimer, Chairman and CEO of Ener1.
If you look at the numbers, we’re talking about somewhere in the region of $30-40 billion worth of batteries to get to one million. My business model suggests $1 of capex for every $4-6 of revenue.
If you use $40 billion in batteries and want to have those batteries domestically produced, you need to spend about $10 billion in capex over next two years to get there.

The first two (the Mn-based cathodes with LTO or hard carbon anodes) are EnerDel’s high- power battery formulations for application in HEVs. The NMC-hard carbon pairing is the high-energy EV/PHEV chemistry EnerDel is using in its packs being delivered to Think. (Earlier post.)

NMC materials are more thermally stable and less expensive than LiCoO2. While the material can be charged beyond 4.5V, and can offer higher capacity (e.g., more than 180Ah/kg) than LMO or iron phosphate (LiFePO4) systems, it is also less thermally stable than either of those two. EnerDel has been exploring improving the thermal stability of LiNi1/3Co1/3Mn1/3O2 at different states of charge with different doping materials.

The heavy duty OEM will identify and deliver drive cycle requirements for each environment. The program will partially complete the collection of testing and drive cycle data necessary to produce battery systems solutions for HEV bus and heavy duty vehicle markets.

EnerDel is the only manufacturer of automotive Li-ion batteries with US-based production. EnerDel recently acquired Enertech in Korea, broadening and expanding its production capacity. (Earlier post.)

Our customers want a global supply footprint...they are looking to supply their vehicles where they produce them. Shipping packs is going to be a problem over time. If a car company is building 30,000 to 50,000 packs, they want that assembly done next to the plant where they build the cars. The US is still the largest auto market. Being based here makes sense initially, but we have to have manufacturing in Europe and in mainland Asia.

—Charles Gassenheimer


Henry Gibson

For plug in hybrid cars, lead acid batteries are the most cost effective. There may be very good reason to use the CSIRO version with built in ultra-caps, and flywheels could be very good for regeneration. EFFPOWER builds prototype high power bipolar batteries that could be combined with Firefly technology for higher energy. The use of expensive lithium batteries multiplies the cost of the electricity by a factor of 30 or more.

Efficient engines with hydraulic hybrid drive along with a small amount of stored electricity in batteries is what would be most cost effective for plug in hybrids.

Most of the value of the hybrid comes just from the more efficient engine operation and the ability to use a smaller engine. ..HG..


Henry, where are you getting your figures for lead acid costs from? They are the cheapest initially, but due to their limited cycle life they don't seem to be the most cost effective.


HG and yesplease:

Initial battery relative cost & weight for a 20 KWh pack:

1) Lead = $1380 & 2760 lbs

2) NiMH = $9000 & 1300 lbs

3) LiOn = $18000 & 500 lbs

4) Firefly = ... & 1300 lbs

It seems that Firefly could compete with NiMH in both cost and weight assuming that the price is around twice the regular sealed lead acid units and duration can approach the NiMH units.

Weight and duration wise, LiOn have a definate potential advantage over all other technologies.

Of course, adding super-caps maximizes braking energy capture & extends batteries duration, (at and added weight & cost). You wouldn't want to do that with super heavy Lead batteries but it may be a practical solution with much lighter mass produced LiOn, if price can be reduced enough.

Firefly + super-caps may be a good combination for light trucks with higher load carrying capacity.


If you look at the numbers, we’re talking about somewhere in the region of $30-40 billion worth of batteries to get to one million.

Can somebody explain why a plug-in hybrid battery should cost $30.000 to $40.000? The total cost for a plug-in Prius will be considerably less than that. And that's the price for the whole car, not just the battery. The battery for that Prius will be how much? $1000? $2000?.


The most likely reason for overestimating the investment needed is to try to get as much as possible funds from gov. agencies (ie taxpayers).

Like most politicians, CEOs and those around them are not to be trusted much. Just how many surprise negative announcements from many companies, after hiding problems for months.
Their first duty is to always look confident regarding their business situation.
As soon as company goes public, they sort of get licence to print money (by issuing shares).
And they all reward themselves with big bonuses, shares and options, severence packages, signing bonuses etc. Real parasites.


HarveyD, you forgot about LiFePO4 stuff. An OEM can get 20kW for ~$7000 and it'll last 3,000-4,000 cycles at 70% dod. What's really practical is when the pack only uses half of it's capacity, like w/the Volt, and can be run down to 50% capacity before the driver starts to see a loss in range. By then they've seen around the equivalent of 4000 complete cycles for ~$350/kWh, so the cost is about 9c/kWh stored. The only competition I could see were the NiMH EV-95's, but I've no clue about the cycle life/etc.


Anne, the Prius uses NiMH batteries, which are produced with permission from Texaco / Chevron, who owns the patent.

Texaco is routinely suing those who use these batteries, presumably to prevent them from using too many of them in a car, otherwise it might get too fuel efficient. Toyota could easily make a plug-in Prius, the very simple technology would make it a great option. But they won't. The 2010 Prius in North America will not be a plug-in. I am guessing it has something to do with the patent they are using.

Unfortunately, that patent doesn't expire until 2014, so it looks as if the oil corporations have won for now. Lithium ion battery packs won't be cost competitive for a few more years yet.


HarveyD, I think that your reasoning is right, how often do on these pages. I have a project to be developed in Italy, do you like to collaborate?


One of the first actions of the Obama administration should be to wrest that patent away from the oil barons.



I hope that politicians know how to use a calculator.

Andrey Levin

Looks like you never used Ni-Mh batteries, othervice you would know why it is no good for PHEV.

BTW, :

"California Toyota Dealer Taking Deposits for 2010 PHEV Prius"



I was quoting USA prices.

Apparently, large Chinese battery pack manufacturers, like BYD, can do it for as little as $300/KWh, i.e about $6K for a 20KWh pack. Once you add the on-board essential electronic battery management system + the on-board charger you may reach $8K to $9K. That's about 50% of equivalent USA built units.


The Prius NiMH 1.3 KWh pack is relatively small. Two (2) such packs are required for a limited e-range PHEV-7 Prius. A Prius PHEV-40 would require about six (6) such packs and would be difficult to fit in the car.

Future extended e-range Prius PHEVs will most likely have Panasonic-Toyota built high performance (highly tested) lithium batteries in 2011 or 2012.

BYD China may get there almost two years sooner with their own battery packs.

GM Chevy Volt is trying to do the same by end of 2010 or early 2011 with third party battery packs.

Whoever builts a PHEV-(20 to 100) or (10 to 60) with one to six (2 KWh or 4 KWh) plug-in battery modules, with appropriate automatic electronic battery management system, will have a winner.

Buyers would be able to buy as many battery modules as they really need or as they can afford. Adding more modules as manufacturing ramps up and as price goes down would be advantageous for the pocket book.


Mark_BC and others,
Please enough of the patent paranoia. If this was really that much of a problem, then we would not have the Prius. Toyota is not hussling to put out a LiIon based PHEV because they would only be competing with themselves. Really poor business to do that. They will put out the 2010 model Prius at the middle or end of 2009 using NiMH as you know. They say the price differential, relative to a simila ICE car, will be cut in half. The electric motor will be larger, the perfromance improved, and the mpg will be significantly better. If the current Version 2 of the Prius has been selling well, then this Version 3 will sell even better.
"Read between the lines" better and "follow the money".
They are not saints at Toyota.
Toyota playing it very safe with release of a LiIon based PHEV because it's good for their pocket book. They will be forced to release one in 2010 or 2011 or they will begin to loose their lead. This has very little to do with patent hording.

"Whoever builts a PHEV-(20 to 100) or (10 to 60) with one to six (2 KWh or 4 KWh) plug-in battery modules, with appropriate automatic electronic battery management system, will have a winner."
Yep! Nicely put!


If I understand correctly, the large-format battery patent was responsible for killing the Toyota RAV-4 EV.  The Prius is not affected because it uses much smaller cells.


Take a look at the large standard size Li-ion batteries from Valence.

Not trying to pump them, just seems they are on the right trajectory with modular standard size batteries.

Can a bright sparky start putting together bundles of 18650 comercial grade batteries in automotive standard size packaging.

It would put cost pressure on these jokers with their over priced prismatic packs.


Andrey Levin:
Brilliantly stated
"Whoever builds a PHEV-(20 to 100) or (10 to 60) with one to six (2 KWh or 4 KWh) plug-in battery modules, with appropriate automatic electronic battery management system, will have a winner."

Consulted for a company trying to at least get the battery system designed correctly, as an OPEN s/w and hwd standard to support your idea and many other needed ones like it in commercial light truck/van world.

Here are some links to some early work on this.
- Read about this start-up -> More information under the "Comments" section
- - this link should bring up a design sketch showing the concept with it's 3 main parts:
2 - CAGES (2 rows by 4 column configuration) either built-in floor or (1 x 8 longitudinal cages) mounted into sides of panel step-vans, trucks, SUV or mounted on deck depending on fleet application
3 - CHARGING RACKS (wall mount and other various configurations using the individual panel modules mounted in the hexagon - the overall spec depicts these)

Keep up the great comments
e-mail us at ->

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