Bosch, GS Yuasa, Mitsubishi form JV for next-gen Li-ion battery technology; targeting a doubling of capacity
12 February 2014
Robert Bosch GmbH, GS Yuasa International Ltd., and Mitsubishi Corporation have set up a joint venture—Lithium Energy and Power GmbH & Co. KG—to develop next-generation lithium-ion battery technology with a goal of doubling energy capacity. The companies had announced their intent to do so in June 2013. (Earlier post.)
For electric vehicles, higher capacity can mean greater range and/or lower cost, since the battery pack could be smaller, depending upon design targets. This next generation of technology is needed in order to make the electric vehicle a successful mass product in the next decade, the partners said. Bosch and its partners said they are confident that electromobility will become a mass market from 2020 onward.
In setting up this joint venture, we want to achieve nothing less than a giant leap forward in the development of battery technology. Our aim is to make lithium-ion batteries twice as efficient.—Dr. Volkmar Denner, chairman of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH
The joint venture Lithium Energy and Power GmbH & Co. KG, headquartered in Stuttgart, was set up in November 2013. Bosch holds a 50% stake with GS Yuasa International Ltd. and Mitsubishi Corporation each holding 25 percent. The composition of the board of management reflects these shareholdings. Its members are Dr. Rolf Speicher from Robert Bosch GmbH, Toshio Ohara from GS Yuasa International Ltd., and Yutaka Kashiwagi from Mitsubishi Corporation. They will initially head up a team of some 70 associates in Germany and Japan.
Bosch will support these joint activities with its entire portfolio of components for electromobility. With its competence in the area of battery packs and battery management systems, Bosch specializes in the monitoring and control of cells and complete systems, as well as in integrating them into vehicles. In addition, it will contribute its know-how in production processes and quality management relating to the large-scale series production of complex products.
In September 2012, Bosch and Samsung SDI disbanded their South Korea-based SB LiMotive JV for Li-ion batteries. (Earlier post.) Samsung SDI paid Bosch $95 million for Bosch’s 50% stake in the venture; in turn, Bosch acquired SB LiMotive’s US and German subsidiaries for $38 million, for a net payment to Bosch of $57 million. Bosch took over the subsidiary SB LiMotive Germany GmbH. Based in Stuttgart, it focuses on systems engineering, battery management systems, prototyping, marketing, and sales.
GS Yuasa will contribute its years of experience in manufacturing high energy density lithium-ion battery cells, as well as its expertise in materials systems and electrochemistry.
Mitsubishi Corporation will contribute its global sales network and experience as an integrated global business enterprise. In addition, Mitsubishi will use its strengths in the establishment of global value-added chains—which include raw materials, semi-finished products, and marketing—to take the joint venture forward.
They are running late.
It looks as though Nissan's double density NMC battery is about ready to go:
'The new system, which will reportedly offer almost double the capacity of Nissan/AESC’s current manganese spinel cell, is supposedly slated for deployment in electric vehicles in 2015.
Nissan is raising capacity by improving the positive electrode, specifically, using nickel and cobalt, not only manganese. The new battery can store about twice as much electricity as batteries with positive electrodes made only from manganese. It is robust enough for practical use, able to withstand 1,000 or so charge cycles.
Nissan estimates that the battery will cost about the same as conventional lithium ion ones to produce, as it contains only a small amount of cobalt, a relatively expensive metal.'
Nissan have recently been using a car with 48kwh on the racing track, although the windows were blacked out so it couldn't be seen whether they have used the back seats for conventional batteries or were using more advanced ones in the normal battery pack space.
They also surveyed Nissan Leaf owners to ask what premium they would be prepared to pay, with alternatives up to $5,000, for 150 miles of range.
Renault have said to expect surprises for 2014.
I think that the delay in the Zoe for Norway is to offer the higher density pack there.
Posted by: Davemart | 12 February 2014 at 07:07 AM
I wonder why Bosch split from Samsung in Korea and formed a new joint venture with GS Yuasa in Japan.
The Bosch/Samsung JV provided Bosch of Germany with large scale cost competitve production in Korea. It provided Samsung with an additional market for its batteries with a major European client.
Did Samsung see a competitive advantage and feel confident of Korea's battery research capability?
Germany and Japan both have high tech but higher cost domestic production. GS Yuasa has limited production capacity which has limited production volume of the Mitsubishi PHEV SUV and suffered loss of production while they traced manufacturing faults in their factory.
With battery packs being heavy, maybe Bosch & GS Yuasa expect local mass production of EV batteries in each market as per Nissan Leaf batteries made in USA & England.
Posted by: Chip | 12 February 2014 at 08:39 AM
Regarding Nissan, 150 miles - 75 miles range = 75 miles additional range for $5K. Assuming 3.5 miles per kWh then the $5K buys you an additional 21 kWh which is purchased at $238/kWh to the end customer. I guess when you double capacity you also lower cost. You can plug in some alternative assumptions and you find that they will easily be in the $200-325/kWh range regardless of what numbers you use for original range, miles per kWh, etc.
Not only are there improvements in battery tech to come out shortly, but there are improvements that will continually happen for the next ten years. Hint: if someone is talking a lot about how they are going to do something, they are just looking for funding, and don't necessarily have an idea about how they will accomplish that task. Those that are close to completion on an advancement tend to keep things quiet. In other words, those making the most noise likely have nothing. But, the quiet ones probably know something you don't.
Posted by: Brotherkenny4 | 12 February 2014 at 08:49 AM
The earlier post from November 2009 also states:
"Other companies working with NMC materials include Panasonic, Sanyo, Hitachi, GS Yuasa, Samsung, EnerDel, Kokam, Evonik/Litarion, Enax, and Imara."
So the battery manufacturers in Japan plus Samsung in Korea have also been working on NMC cathodes.
"It is robust enough for practical use, able to withstand 1,000 or so charge cycles." 1000 cycles is practical for laptop battery packs where two to three years use is enough and replacement of small consumables is easy. For a large BEV pack, 1000 cycles might be adequate.
I wonder what NMC cathode research since 2009 has achieved in improving cycle life.
The cathode is just one cell component that will need to improve to achieve the JV goal; presumably other components need to improve too and work together.
Some commuters will charge a PHEV at home and at work, so presumably Mitsubishi will expect 3000 and desire 5000 cycles to mass-market their PHEV SUV.
Mitsubishi has been able to adapt the MIEV electric components to produce a PHEV SUV. With higher energy density cells, Mitsubishi might also be able to use their kei car 660cc engine and the MIEV electric components and in a small EREV.
Posted by: Chip | 12 February 2014 at 09:21 AM
The cost figures per kilowatthour you use are in the right ballpark, although presumably the increase in range is from the 2014 Leaf's EPA rating of 84 miles to 150 miles, but I don't agree that there will be continual improvements over the next ten years in battery tech.
Musk sees no major advancement in the next 4-5 years although he does see a 30% and hopefully 40% drop in cost.
Other than for cost batteries don't tend to improve so much incrementally, but in jumps when they go to a new chemistry.
For instance Nissan's NMC chemistry has around double the energy density of their current LMO. and about matches that in the 18650 lithium aluminium Panasonic batteries in the Tesla.
Nissan though have taken 5 years from the post I quoted to get them ready for mass production, and that is if they release tomorrow.
There are scads of new technologies about, from silicon to solid state, sulphur and even lithium air.
The problem is that I know of nothing even approaching the level of development of the NMC batteries that it took Nissan 5 years to bring to production.
So maybe there will be improvements other than some further cost reduction in the next ten years, but we haven't really got anything on the horizon yet.
Posted by: Davemart | 12 February 2014 at 09:30 AM
NMC covers a whole host of different stuff, I believe, and have heard as much as 4,000 cycles mentioned.
One of its problems is that cobalt is expensive, and flammable, so some variants use a lot less than others.
As you rightly say, PHEV batteries are a different kettle of fish to BEV ones, and straight hybrid ones work even harder.
Posted by: Davemart | 12 February 2014 at 09:51 AM
Even at 2x im not interested to buy in a bev but if fitted in a phev with gasoline range extender or hydrogen fuelcell range extender then I might be interested to buy. 2-2-2 batteries make more sence than 1-1-1 batteries like tesla, leaf and volt.
Posted by: gorr | 12 February 2014 at 11:10 AM
As a Leaf owner, I have been thinking about what I will do in 2 years when my lease runs out. My current options are:
a) a new Leaf, so long as it has double the range of the current model
b) a Volt, so long as it offers at least 45 EPA miles of pure electric range
c) The Tesla Model E, so long as the range is indeed 200 miles, has access to the supercharger network, and costs south of $40K
A new Leaf would offer regional transportation, whereas the current model is local only. Since Nissan has shown little interest in building out a interstate supercharger network, it still would not be suitable for long trips.
The Volt offers everything I need, but I am reluctant to give up the simplicity of the pure electric approach.
The Tesla's appeal stands or falls on whether its supercharger network makes traveling to the east coast from the Midwest truly practical.
It is not an easy decision.
Posted by: tomhuffman | 13 February 2014 at 02:38 AM
'Since Nissan has shown little interest in building out a interstate supercharger network, it still would not be suitable for long trips.'
That was pretty much chicken and egg.
Nissan knew that the Leaf with 84 miles of range is not suitable for long journeys, so did not try to build a network of the 50kw CHAdeMO chargers which are all it can handle.
To a certain extent the 150 mile Leaf will be a different ball game, and so Nissan can get on with it and facilitate roll out of the 100kw chargers it will need to make recharging speeds adequate.
If you are going as far as the Midwest to the East coast often, I would not fancy the 150 mile Leaf, or even the 200 mile Tesla E, as both will get less at highway speeds.
In my view the Tesla E is more likely to start at $40k or so before the options, not be less than that.
If you are doing such a long run rarely, then you can hire.
If not in 2 years you will have plenty of plug in options beside the Volt, VWs and Audi's and the Mitsubishi Outlander, which has the advantage that it can be used as an emergency generator too in the event of outages.
Posted by: Davemart | 13 February 2014 at 07:50 AM
The EV range of the Mitsubishi, Audi, and VW are all about 30 mi, which is less than the Volt gets now. I won't even consider a Volt unless, as I wrote, the EV range gets extended to at least 45 mi.
Posted by: tomhuffman | 13 February 2014 at 12:56 PM
It seems that in reality you are only going to consider a BEV, so just do that and hire a car if you have to for your longer journeys.
Posted by: Davemart | 13 February 2014 at 01:15 PM
EV batteries are evolving more or fless normally. More and more good news are coming out on a regular basis:
1. 1-1-1 EV batteries have been used by Nissan and a few others since 2010.
2. 2-2-2 EV batteries have been used by Tesla since 2012.
3. 3-3-3 EV batteries may become availbale by 2014/2015.
4. 4-4-4 EV batteries may become available by 2017/2018.
5. 5-5-5 EV batteries may become availble by 2020/2021.
6. 10-10-10 future EV batteries may become available by 2030/2031.
For EV batteries development to keep up with expectations, more funds will have to be dedicated (worldwide) to research and development and specially for EV, charging facilities and electrified vehicles mass production facilities in all the right places.
Posted by: HarveyD | 15 February 2014 at 06:08 PM
The 10-10-10 future EV battery is already available. It is known as automotive H2-FC system, along with super-fast charging at MegaWatts power level, and long range above 300 miles!
Posted by: Roger Pham | 16 February 2014 at 08:36 AM
H2-FCs have a very long way to go to reach 5-5-5 battery pack level, let alone 10-10-10 future (2025+) battery levels.
No doubt that both technologies will improve every 3 years or so. H2-FCs will gain (and maintain) a certain range and quick charge advantage over EVs, specially for heavy long range vehicles such as buses, cargo trucks and locomotives.
Both technologies may co-exist for decades. Batteries for future cars and light vehicles and H2-FCs for the rest?
Posted by: HarveyD | 18 February 2014 at 03:50 PM
Well, let's see, automotive H2-FC is capable of 1,500 Wh/kg and costing $16-18/kWh. Current Lithium ion in the Leaf is ~130 Wh/kg and ?$400/kWh.
Posted by: Roger Pham | 18 February 2014 at 06:54 PM
Roger, you're leaving fuel costs out of that comparison. H2 is currently well over $4gge (as much as $8gge) and even the most optimistic estimates don't go below $2gge. That's still over 2x electricity's $1gge. Near-monopoly source and distribution and high storage and dispensing costs make those rosy predictions unlikely.
Solar and wind electricity, on the other hand, has a demonstrated track record of dramatic cost reductions over the past 10 years, and continues to trend lower.
Posted by: electric-car-insider.com | 22 February 2014 at 09:38 AM