Batteries to the Future

The IRM Automotive series concept module includes (outside to inside): ruggedized case with cooling vents, integrated cell onboard architecture with redundant ruggedized connector, high-performance 26650 cells, and a thermal spreader.

March 11, 2007: The Ledger—New Battery Takes Off

Summary: 155 miles on a gallon of gasoline? That’s the goal of A123 Systems’ battery designed for plug-in hybrids.

"Now, GM is planning two plug-in hybrid vehicles. Like the Toyota Prius and other available hybrids, the GM models will supplement their electric motors with power from internal combustion engines. What’s different is that most of the power for daily commuting will come from battery packs that can be recharged from ordinary household sockets. The new models are expected to have a range of at least 40 miles without using their gas engines. While that is less than the range of the all-electric EV1, the hybrid nature of the new models will give them far greater total range.

GM says that the extra cost for the battery packs mean that plug-in hybrids will sell for thousands of dollars more than comparable, non-electric vehicles. But the average driver, going 40 miles a day, would also save $450 a year if gasoline were $2 a gallon. Because the median daily travel of the average American car is 33 miles (well within the new model’s electric range), the cars would achieve 155 miles to the gallon, and many drivers would fill up with gasoline only every few months."

So 155 mpg is only for those with a commute under 33 miles a day. Still, many Prius owners would surely love to achieve "just" 100 mpg. If GM and its suppliers can pull it off, the plug-in hybrid may be the company’s first (er, second) pioneer in alternative powertrains.

The EV1 retains first place, despite the article’s disrespect for it as a useful vehicle. So people had to plan their day around charging it. Isn’t that one of the least onerous tasks to plan one’s day around?


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  • Alex

    I have been trying to prove this for several months. It is not going to be federal interference that will bring green technology to the household. It is engineering innovation. It is going to start off expensive. That is how it is for all new technologies. Look at the RAZR cell phone it started at $200 and now companies give them away. It is better to start and sell a product soon at high cost than to wait years or decades for someone else to solve the cost problem. Just take a risk and change the world. There I am finished.

  • Donald Henderson

    It would be great if GM produces a plug-in. I have high hopes but low expectations based on past performance. GM must realize that a plug-in is a long term commitment by a customer and the current 70K mile before the junkyard quality will not do.

  • Andre

    Gas prices are on the rise. Awareness of global warming is increasing. I think people are going to want plug-in technology. When there is demand, there are solutions.

  • michael a.

    Federal Interference (2 wars in the Persion Gulf in less than 15 years) is why gas prices have been so low for the last 15 years.

    Without Federal Interference, 155mpg Plug-Ins will be the source of theIr own destruction.
    Widespread use of 155mpg Plug Ins would cause gas prices to collapse and usher in a new era of Gas Guzzling SUVs.

    Without a gradualing increasing tax on fossil fuels, we (including the anti-government conservatives) are all DOOMED.

  • mark

    Tax fossil fuel up to $6/gallon. Use the $ 100 billion spent in Iraq and buy Priuses and give them away free of charge. With the extra fuel revenue the federal government should give away the most efficient cars in the future.

  • Michael

    There are better batteries that never end (20 years at last) stronger and can drive the car in Highway, those are the Altair batteries.
    But I guess GM want to replace batteries every year and create more polution since this way she can make more money in extra batteries replacement.

  • Dave

    I agree with Micheal about the long lasting Altair batteries, but the 100 mile range is very limiting. You would have to come up with a way of putting them into a Hybrid to give the consumer the range for traveling. I commute 82 miles each way to work. If I could recharge while I drive, it would make sense. I guess the question is… Can the Hybris engine turn out the voltage needed to recharge the Altair battery?