China to Encourage Consolidation in Auto Industry; Push to Increase Market Share of Domestic Automakers
First London Hydrogen Taxis Built at Lotus; Fleet Road Trials in Time for the 2012 Olympics

Li-ion Manufacturer Boston-Power Names Former GM Senior Executive Bob Purcell to Board; Expansion Into Transportation With a Focus on PHEVs and BEVs

In the transportation sector, Boston-Power is targeting its high-energy, long-life cells at plug-in hybrid and full battery electric vehicles. Click to enlarge.

Li-ion manufacturer Boston-Power, Inc., announced that former GM executive Robert C. Purcell, Jr. has joined its board of directors. Working closely with Boston-Power's executive team and fellow board members, Purcell is applying his expertise in battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) to help drive the deployment of Boston-Power’s batteries into the transportation sector.

From 1994 to 2002, Purcell led the GM Advanced Technology Vehicles Group (GM ATV). GM ATV was responsible for the development and production of the GM EV-1; his organization also developed and produced the S-10 Electric Truck and developed the GM Precept Hybrid Vehicle, which was part of President Clinton’s Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) program. In addition to his responsibilities at GM ATV, he also served as chairman of the GM-Ovonic Advanced Battery Joint Venture.

Purcell currently serves as founder and president of Purcell & Associates, LLC, a senior advisory group specializing in advanced automotive and alternative energy investment projects. His clients have included companies ranging from MidAmerican Energy Holdings, a Berkshire Hathaway Company, to EDC Automotive, an emerging leader in automotive thermal management systems.

Boston-Power is bringing to the transportation industry a game-changing lithium-ion battery that delivers unmatched levels of high energy density, safety, low cost, fast charge and environmental sustainability. As a pioneer in the electrification of transportation, Bob Purcell brings a perfect combination of invaluable insights, real-world experiences, and an established, international executive network to our company. We’re thrilled to add him to our team.

—Boston-Power Founder and CEO Dr. Christina Lampe-Onnerud

I’ve been looking for a battery like Boston-Power’s for 20 years. I knew immediately upon meeting the team and reviewing the technology platform that I wanted to play a role within the company. In addition to being in mass production and embodying the right combination of capabilities in terms of extended range, weight and space, safety, cost and quick recharge, Boston-Power’s batteries are the only ones to earn stringent certifications for environmental sustainability. They’re already being well received by the auto industry and I’m confident they will be adopted for a range of vehicles by manufacturers around the world.

—Bob Purcell

Boston-Power is focused on delivering the high energy density and long deep discharge cycle life that it says are critical for the continued evolution towards higher degrees of hybridization and BEVs. Click to enlarge.

Boston-Power technology. Boston-Power’s battery technology platform is based on a flat, oval-shaped prismatic cell design with external dimensions equivalent to two conventional 18650 lithium-ion cells. Boston-Power currently uses cobalt and manganese on the cathode with graphite on the anode. Each cell incorporates multiple, independent safety devices located in different areas of the cell. The design of each safety component is optimized independent of the other components, and the distributed location eliminates unwanted interactions between them.

One of the safety devices is the integrated Current Interrupt Device (CID), which electrically disconnects the cell if internal pressures get too high. In addition, the cell can is constructed from aluminum, supporting a low pressure design which allows safety components to activate earlier, minimizing the chance that the cell will enter thermal runaway. The activation pressure and tolerances of each of the components are designed to prevent inadvertent activation. In addition, there are two vents on the side of the can for redundancy, minimizing the chance of cascading failures in a multi-cell pack.

The company has so far introduced two products from this platform:

  • Bpower1
    Sonata cycle life. Click to enlarge.
    Sonata cells for notebook and portable power applications. The Sonata cells offer 3x - 5x longer battery service life than competitors in this market. In March 2009, Boston-Power became the first US-based firm to provide batteries to a Tier One notebook PC vendor: HP.

  • Swing cells for electric vehicle, industrial and electronic applications. (Earlier post.) Some of the attributes of the Swing 4400 include:

    • Energy density of 180Wh/kg
    • Volumetric density of 420Wh/L
    • 1,000+ cycles at 100% Depth Of Discharge (DOD)
    • 2,000+ cycles at 90% DOD
    • Constant power of 440W/kg
    • Pulse power of 1,500 W/kg (2s pulse)
    • Flexible and scalable packaging
    • Excellent thermal properties
    • Nordic Ecolabel and Chinese EPA CEC Ecolabel accreditation for chemical control during manufacturing and in the final product
    • UL, UN, and ROHS certifications

Boston Power Swing 12 kWh Escape PHEV Demonstrator
  • Number of cells: 792 (88s9p)
  • Number of modules: 11
  • Module rating: 1.1 kWh
  • Voltage: 340V
  • Capacity: 39.6 Ah
  • Cell Equalization (balancing)
  • Cooling: Convection air
  • Swingphev

    Boston-Power intends to leverage its experience from the Portable Power industry into Transportation. Boston-Power cells are in mass production today in its manufacturing facilities in Asia, with the capacity to scale to millions of cells per month. (The company says it has had zero field failures so far.)

    In 2009, Boston-Power developed a Ford Escape plug-in demonstrator equipped with a 12 kWh pack. In December 2009, the company became part of a Swedish electric automobile coalition established to drive the advancement of high performance electric vehicles. (Earlier post.) In addition to Boston-Power, participating organizations include Saab; Electroengine (electric powertrain); Innovatum (project management); and Power Circle (Sweden’s electric power industry trade organization).

    Prior to the announcement of his appointment, Purcell told Green Car Congress that while many of the OEMs have selected the source for their first program, few of them are fixed—Toyota being at least one notable exception—in terms of strategic battery supply.

    What I am doing is providing a set of introductions to the right people around the industry who are interested in looking at alternative batteries. What I like about Boston-Power...I really believe they made the best set of tradeoffs in terms of the battery systems. It is high energy density in terms of the basic chemistry of the battery, they have packaged it in a way that they can leverage the volume base they have already created in terms of portable power. They have done an outstanding job, in my opinion, in safety design...They have the best chance of actually surviving the automotive application for the lifecycle of the vehicle.

    —Bob Purcell



    While 180Wh/kg is not bad, the BEV industry likely needs more like 250Wh to balance weight to performance. Bbut this is a welcome player as are all serious battery makers. One would hope that this company will seek loans to establish a domestic manufacturing facility. While this will cost more in labor, there is a significant savings in transportation from Asia. And it confirms the Administration's goal of creating green jobs.

    And, Boston Power will be able to say they are making product at home, i.e. domestic JOBS. Something that has intrinsic market value in light of the severe trade imbalance with Asia.


    "2,000+ cycles at 90% DOD..", a(nother) powerful EV battery.

    "From 1994 to 2002, Purcell led the GM Advanced Technology Vehicles Group (GM ATV)..he also served as chairman of the GM-Ovonic Advanced Battery Joint Venture."

    During this period, someone promised Stan Ovinsky (inventor of the NiMH battery) that GM would promote and mass produce the EV1 and NiMH worldwide. But GM crushed the EV1 and sold Ovinsky's patents to Texaco, who Chevron suprisingly bought the next week.

    Then, Chevron was able to sue, crushed, and bury Ovinsky's licensed NiMH Panasonic EV EV-95 batteries, which powered all the Japanese EV's (Toyota RAV4 EV, Honda EV, ..) - to GM and the world's surprise.

    "What I am doing is providing a set of introductions to the right people around the industry.."

    Some betrayals yeild imprisonment, others, seemingly white collars and the right zip codes..



    When leaders from many environments and backgrounds get to be more more corrupted, essential ethics and morality are endangered and great nations can be in peril. The recent financial crisis is a perfect example of how much damage can be do.

    Once lost, essential moral priciples do not come back very easily. History tells us that recessions, chaos, wars, famines, anarchy and similar pandemoniums are part of the long term difficult cure.

    Are we smart enough to avoid going there one more time?


    Unlikely, HarveyD, but gosh I hope so...

    Chris O

    GM crushed the EV-1 project and sold the the patent of NiMH to Chevron who predictably banned use in BEV's, effectively stalling development of EV's for a decade. GM went on to do SUV gas hogs. Bush dispatched the US army to Iraq to ensure cheap oil for the SUV economy. Iran used the political stalemate in it's region that resulted from America's strategic blunder to become a nuclear power. Next move a nuclear 9/11? If this Purcell had anything to do with the Texaco/Ovonics deal he shouldn't be in the board of Boston Power. he should face charges at the international court in the Hague for economic crimes against humanity.


    I recommend that we do patent reform for the U.S. in the near future. So many of the problems that we have in batteries can be traced back to patent abuse. Make it clear and concise. Patents are to recover development cost and not to licence a monopoly.


    "If this Purcell had anything to do with the Texaco/Ovonics deal he shouldn't be in the board of Boston Power. he should face charges at the international court in the Hague for economic crimes against humanity." --

    besides the 1970 Rico Act, "What I am doing is providing a set of introductions to the right people around the industry.."


    SJC, are patents to cover dev. costs? It's also to make (lots of) money. I agree that patents have been totally abused but it's really a complex issue. You want to protect the small guy but not bog down progress. It's a gordian knot.
    Bringing in Purcell shows they're aiming at BEV's. Good.


    kelly, sjc, chris o,

    You guys need to grow up and get out of the world of conspiracies and boogeymen. Panasonic's deal with Ovonic was a patent cross licensing and did not prevent Panasonic from making a EV battery, or any other car company on earth from pursuing an EV, suing a battery from Panasonic or Ovonic/Texaco. The fact is NiMHx batteries were not, and are not an EV panacea you dream about. In fact, almost no one proposes using them for an EV now.

    There was no business for EVs then, because of the total cost of ownership and the lost vehicle utility due to limited range and long recharge times. Everything is more favorable now (like gas is over $1.00 a gallon) but EVs still may not make sense even now.

    Purcell was no boogeyman; he was a committed and visionary leader, and a realistic operational manager who looked for ways to create a real business proposition for GM. If anything he was more optimistic about the possibilities for EVs and hybrids than the data suggested. Purcell believed one day the time would be right for EVs. Maybe that time is now - good for Boston Power.



    Take your opinions somewhere else and quit telling people to grow up.



    You need to grow out of your fairytale world of "the Good GM" (Big Oil etc) and recognize the bankruptcy.

    That’s why in 2001, GM and Chevron sued Toyota and Panasonic to stop using patented NiMH batteries. This lawsuit effectively shut down production of the RAV4-EV and all other 100% electric vehicles utilizing this technology.

    Every hybrid automobile in production today uses NiMH batteries, all of which are produced outside of the United States.

    If NiMH batteries are being used so successfully, why are American manufacturers fixated on Li Ion batteries? Part of the reason is that petroleum company Chevron owns the patent for the Ovonics NiMH traction battery. Under the ruse of saying they have not had sufficiently convincing proposals brought to them, Chevron continues to deny licenses to any company proposing to manufacture new NiMH traction batteries.

    Equally aggravating is Chevron’s having filed suit against Toyota in 2003 after Chevron had acquired the Ovonics patent. Part of the settlement reached in this suit enjoined Toyota-Panasonic from manufacturing any additional EV-95 batteries. So every RAV4 EV on the road today (about 320 in private hands and an unknown number of fleet use) is running on its original NiMH battery pack. There were some NiMH battery companies “grandfathered in” at the time of the Chevron/Toyota settlement, but their products are either too small to use in place of the EV-95 or they are inferior in performance.

    No stranger to accusations of conspiracy when it comes squelching green-tech batteries, Chevron is again facing the charge in a lawsuit filed last week by Mercedes that claims the company colluded with ECD and Cobasys to keep the imminent sale of the distressed battery maker a secret to prevent the German firm from canceling the battery deal.

    So drop this Purcell, GM, "..crock of s%^&" Lutz, Chevron,.. "was no boogeyman"..

    Anyone can fill many more pages with corruption links that began on Purcell's watch.


    2,000 cycle life at 90% DOD is not stellar, but 180kWh/kg makes up for this. This energy density is higher than most I have information on. If they can keep their production costs down they might have a real winner here. How often will most EV or EREV users do a 90% discharge anyway?


    Frank is clueless about the NiMH killing conspiracy of the past. He does have point that NiMH batteries were always a poor choice for EVs and many of you seem to be pointlessly obsessed with past events. There is no evidence NiMH can compete with Li Ion in energy density and cycle life. NiMH's cycle life of 500-700 sucks. This is why NiMH based EVs and EREVs were never going to be economically viable and why no EV or EREV builders are interested in them today. Li Ion batteries are changing the game fundamentally. There may still be saboteurs, but there will be many more that see economic opportunities of lower cost and more efficient EVs and EREVs coming.
    Seems like a new CEO from Detroit has created some problems for the rising star EV/EREV company, Aptera. That may have more to do with his lack of experience than his origins from Detroit. Still, I hope that does not happen to Boston Power. Maybe experience with the existing auto industry is more of an impediment than an advantage.


    2,000 cycle life at 90% DOD is not stellar, but 180kWh/kg makes up for this. This energy density is higher than most I have information on. If they can keep their production costs down they might have a real winner here. How often will most EV or EREV users do a 90% discharge anyway?

    The comments to this entry are closed.