Cobasys CEO Defends His Battery Company

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Does Cobasys own the intellectual property for hybrid nickel metal hydride batteries?

The correct technical term is that it’s exclusively licensed to Cobasys.

Do you think there’s a long future for nickel metal hydride batteries?

Yeah, I do. Look at the money that Toyota is investing right now to build another nickel metal hydride plant. They’re expanding their capacity in nickel metal hydride. From my perspective, there’s no silver bullet. There are technologies, and there are trade-offs. Some have better energy density. Some have better recharge abilities. There is no perfect material out there. In some situations, nickel metal hydride is a preferred solution over lithium. And vice versa.

Where does that place Cobasys as a player in the growth of the hybrid car market?

I think we’re in pretty darn good shape. We’re doing the Saturn Vue. We’re doing the Malibu. And we’re doing the Aura. And we’ll be announcing programs in the future as OEMs announce their programs.

Did you see reports that GM was considering an acquisition of Cobasys?

I can’t comment on that.

There has been a string of bad news for Cobasys. But you’re saying that you’re not cash-starved. That any kind of recall was strictly for customer satisfaction. That you’re in full control of all your company. And that production continues unabated.

We’re expanding capacity.

How will the expansion occur?

We never stopped expanding. We are buying equipment to increase capacity at least double from last year. We’re investing tens of millions of dollars to expand our capacity.

Why do you think there’s been a string of negative stories, in sources like Automotive News?

The fiction and innuendoes are so far afield that I’ve told my owners that I have to come out and set some of these facts straight. A lot of this is foolishness.

If you had to grade the health of the company and its production capacities, you’d give it an A+?

I would rate it very strong. We’re growing our capacity on a daily basis. It’s public knowledge. Chevron’s put in almost $350 million. And we’ve already invested a great deal of money in increased capacity this year.

How active is…

We’re not a division of Chevron, as has been reported. We’re a joint venture company.

How active is Chevron in your day-to-day business?

They’re not. They’re investors. We have board members comprised of Energy Conversion Devices and Chevron. And I report to the board. They do not get involved with the day-to-day operations. They’re investors.

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  • Anon Imus

    wow, defensive is right. Time for Mr. Neslage to hire people to handle the PR. His attitude and demeanor will not change public perception.

  • steved28

    Jeeez, this guy should run for office. What a BS artist. I think this company’s days are numbered.

  • Need2Change

    He’s not good enough to run for office. I didn’t believe a word he said.

    I think he should sell used cars.

  • Anonymous

    This is a no brainer he is trying to hype up the company to maximize a possible selling of the company.

    If I were GM I would look elsewhere because there seems to be big problems with current top management.

    Still don’t understand why they had funding problems?
    I laugh when I see all the oil TV ads saying their switching to other forms of energy.

  • GregT

    Imagine if they had the rights to all lithium batteries we would have never seen them in cars. Too much politics and games going on with this company. I get mad at the Big 3 for all of this. Whatever happened to diversification?

  • Boom Boom

    I like the comment about what other company that’s “put thousands of hybrids on the roads this year”. Based on the last hybrid dashboard, GM sold 1,091. I think that counts as a thousand. Honda 3,400. Ford (and Mercury) 1,200.

    If he’s stretching the truth on the facts that we can check, what do you think he’s doing on the facts that we can’t check up on? If this is the best the US can do….. we’re in trouble.

    Excellent interview, by the way. Not excessively pointed, but not a PR tool either.

  • manuel

    Hey give the guy a break . He is just defending his company .
    seems a lot of people been beating up on Cobasys lately …
    i wish them all the best . .hope they do sell a million batteries..

  • SteveC

    This is why American companies are going downhill.
    They can talk a good one and can’t deliver.
    They’re mostly smoke and mirrors. Get the investors, take the money, pay yourself a big salary, don’t deliver a quality product.
    Yep – The American Way.
    This guy is pitiful (but wealthy).

  • Jones

    I would not give Mr. Tom or Cobasy any break. In a positive statement I hope they do sell a million batteries but not for cars!

  • PW

    Neslage is a former oil guy from Texaco. You really get the feeling that Cobasys is being intentionally mismanaged to thwart development of EVs and Hybrids. And as for the $350 million, that’s chump change to Chevron, easily supported by the billions they are making in the Oil Industry.

  • mlhm5

    I have never read so much BS from a CEO of a company. His job is to simply stall and confuse anyone who has time to listen.

    They are losing $$. Impossible to believe if anyone was trying. Ever hear of licensing? Licensing for 50Kwh batteries, not 10Kwh. There is no way, even with an additional funding of $1 billion this company could ever meet the demand for 50Kwh batteries.

    Patent runs out in 2015 and there is no way this company will have any sales the day the patent runs out.

  • Anonymous

    You people make me sick. You’re nothing but a bunch of armchair quarterbacks with nothing to do but criticize something you’re not close to being familiar with.

    The Big 3 in Detroit fail to recognize trends in the automotive market for years (concerning the need for EV and hybrid battery technology development), they let the Japanese run over as if the industry as if it was Pearl Harbor, they try to catch up by pushing the only domestic supplier willing to stick it’s neck out to develop a competing first generation domestic product (against a Japanese supplied fourth or fifth generation product) in 2-3 years, and then they hang that single willing domestic supplier out to dry when a single technical problem occurs.

    Someone should be giving these folks at Cobasys some PR support, starting with their Big 3 customers who have no where else to go.

  • Dave T.

    They had the leading battery technology and messed things up bigtime. I can’t think how they will survive when the patent runs out.

  • herm

    with a 3 year development time for expansion, you would have to be crazy to invest in expansion.. who will be using this battery in a few years?.. no one.

    They starved for several years, and now there is flood of demand.

  • ron jeremy

    why do they have a 2008 budget, if they are funded month to month? shouldn’t they have a monthly budget?

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