U.S. hybrids rely on Asian battery power

U.S. hybrids rely on Asian battery power http://tinyurl.com/6mbnlp
The future of the U.S. auto industry resembles a box of parts for hybrids, plug-in electrics and fuel cells, which promise to slash oil
demand and provide jobs for another century. But that box comes with a familiar disclaimer: Batteries not included.
As Detroit's automakers rush to develop vehicles powered by electricity, they find themselves reliant on foreign sources for the advanced batteries that will make such technology available to everyday consumers. While much of the science has been developed in U.S. labs, Asian companies have a two-decade head start on actually making rechargeable batteries.
That gap concerns U.S. automakers, which often have to shop Asian manufacturers for the most expensive parts of today's hybrids and their first generation of plug-in vehicles. The batteries for General Motors Corp.'s Chevrolet Volt will be made in either South Korea or China, depending on which supplier is chosen, and likely will cost more than $10,000 per vehicle.
"One of the reasons for having hybrids is to reduce dependence on foreign oil," said Sherif Marakby , forFord Motor Co.'s chief engineer of hybrid core engineering. "You don't want to substitute dependence on foreign oil with dependence on foreign materials for lithium-ion batteries."
While the first commercial plug-in hybrids have yet to hit the road, Wall Street already has begun to salivate over the potential for the market, with estimates of hybrid battery sales approaching $10 billion annually worldwide by 2015. And if fuel-cell vehicles ever become commercially feasible, such batteries will come standard.
U.S. automakers and battery companies lobbied Congress for a provision in last year's energy bill to provide loans and loan guarantees to firms that want to set up battery production. But Congress hasn't provided any money for the loans, and appears unlikely to pass many funding bills in the remainder of its term.
GM spokesman Greg Martin said batteries were different from other auto parts, which have been rapidly outsourced to low-wage countries in recent years.
"Other countries such as Korea and Japan have identified advanced battery research and production as competitive priorities. We have to make sure not to cede that competitive race," Martin said. "If we rely on foreign sources for those products, we still could in a sense be relying on foreign sources of energy."
U.S. companies have long led the race to research and invent new types of batteries, and the first lithium-ion designs were developed in the United States in the late 1980s. But it was Sony Corp. that licensed the technology first for manufacturing, and since most of the consumer electronics and computer companies using the batteries were Japanese, battery suppliers in Japan and other parts of Asia had a natural advantage.
Those advantages have carried over into cars and trucks. Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. buy the nickel-hydride batteries for their current hybrids from joint ventures with Japanese battery firms. Honda's joint venture with Sanyo also builds the batteries for the hybrid Ford Escape, while Toyota's partnership with Panasonic builds the batteries for GM and Chrysler hybrid SUVs.
Alexander Karsner, U.S. Department of Energy assistant secretary of energy efficiency and renewable energy, said Friday that while domestic battery supply was a concern, it shouldn't be overstated, in part because much of the research that created today's hybrid batteries originated in U.S. labs.
"Our challenge is to see that it is produced and deployed here so that it is available to us and our strategic interest," Karsner said. Domestic battery production "is an area that requires intensive ... consistent interest, both throughout the remainder of this administration, and into the next."
After downplaying plug-in hybrids and lithium-ion batteries for several years, Toyota said earlier this month that it would launch a plug-in hybrid in limited production in 2010 using batteries from its Panasonic unit. Nissan Motor Co. also plans electric vehicles using lithium batteries from a joint venture that is to begin building batteries next year.
There are some companies betting that battery manufacturing will cross back to the United States. Toda Kogyo Corp., a Japanese maker of battery components, bought a factory in Sarnia, Ontario, earlier this year to supply lithium-ion parts in North America.
Andreas Jazdanian, marketing manager for Toda America, said the company expects automakers will need North American battery sources for vehicles. One reason is logistics: Vehicle batteries will be larger and more expensive than the lithium-ion cells in phones and music players, meaning automakers will want tight inventory controls rather than long supply chains.
"The demand for lithium-ion batteries is forecast to increase exponentially within the next decade," he said. "I believe there are already a few domestic candidates that with the right financial support and competent management are ready to assume production."
One of those may be Enerdel, a joint venture between energy company Ener1 and Delphi Corp. formed in 2004. Enerdel plans to start building lithium batteries for the Think electric vehicle later this year at Delphi's old battery plant in Indiana. Charles Gassenheimer, chairman of Ener1, said Enerdel's position as the only domestic lithium-ion battery producer today was a "crucial strategic advantage."
"For a plug-in hybrid, the battery is 50% of the vehicle. You cannot outsource 50% of the vehicle and have reliable production," he said. "You have to produce where you sell."
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how come the prices are so high in the US if Alaska is sitting on a 200 year oil reserve?
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On Jul 2, 2:32 am, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

The prices of batteries is so high because the demand is growing much faster than supply. There are more and more appliances needing batteries and most notably the cars will need a hell of a lot of big batteries. It is really surprising that they are only made in china and corea. Why is that? Do they need a lot of cheap hands? I would think it would be an ideal situation for robots to make the batteries. There is already a huge glut in the supply of batteries. The Volt is getting later and later because of lack of batteries. The waiting list for the Prius is growing because of lack of batteries. Business in the US is obviously sleeping and time to wake up. The price of oil is similarly high because of lack of production facilities. There is enough oil in or on the ground but not enough factories to refine it. What about the prices of batteries? Have not seen much discussion about that. How much does it cost to produce and how much has the demand pushed the prices up? The prices of the hybrids depend a lot on the prices of the batteries. How about the quality of the batteries? How often do you need to change them? A lot of questions about batteries that need to be addressed. Is the battery situation going to get worse before it gets better? Will it get better?
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In article

probably in a attempt to keep their uninformed (stupid) customers.

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Concerned recycler wrote:

When the projected MSRP went past $30K and then to $40K+ it was DOA for street people. $20-25K would be about the limit for commoners that had any sanity about financing. Mikey, of course, would buy GM at any cost on 72 month 0% financing. How does one get service from a bankrupt company (bankrupt in money and solid planning)?
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wrote:

Jimmy, you are bankrupt in brains.
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80 Knight wrote:

You chose blindness 80-your problem, not anyone else's.
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wrote:

No, Jimmy. I choose to see things with my eyes open. I will praise GM for doing great, and I will scold them for screwing up. You look at GM with your eyes shut, and only insult them.
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_the_messenger
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