Toyota picks up another segment of the battery market.

Jeff Soyer, who sells Toyota cars BTW, points out that Toyota owns a 60% stake in Panasonic’s battery division.  A smart move, since it is that Panasonic division that makes the batteries that Toyota uses in its hybrid electric cars. 

Now Toyota is about to aquire Sanyo.  Sanyo is the other major producer of batteries used in hybrid electric cars.

I wonder where Chevy is planning on getting the batteries for their Volt hybrid electric car from?

Update: Chevy announced that LG Chem will provide the lithium-ion cells for the battery packs in the Volt.   GM has also signed a deal with the University of Michigan to open the largest battery lab in the country.  Battery tech, and the cost of electricity, are the gating factors in widespread hybrid/electric vehicle acceptance.


6 Responses

  1. The Volt is vaporware, designed to get bailout money from a greeny administration.

  2. The Volt actually has some interesting bits of engineering, like the one drive motor/drive train instead of two like other hybrids.

    It does have three strikes against it (as do most electric or electric cars).

    1. Battery technology, which is improving, but not as fast as most electric/hybrid car enthusiasts will try to tell you.

    2. High electricity costs. Rates here in New England are among the highest in the country. Plug in electric or electric hybrids don’t make that much sense unless the cost of electricity goes down. As I’ve said before, build the Nuclear Power plants and the electric cars will follow.

    3. The Volt gets its third strike from the UAW. The extremely high embedded cost of labor makes any car build by UAW workers a loss, regardless of what it uses for fuel.

  3. Right now, The Volt is only a technology demonstrator, which mysteriously suddenly got pushed into the limelight, when the Watermelons took control of Congress. I have yet to hear anything on where they’ll be made, when they’ll be for sale, anything related to them other than “See, SEE? We’re green too! Now can we have some money?”

    And Electric cost in NE are bad, but not as bad as Hawaii(#1, over 35 cents Kw/hr). Believe it or not, the worst in the NE is Conn, with a rate just under 21 cents Kw/hr. Mass is a bit cheaper at just under 18 cents, and New York is at just under 20. West Virginia Kentucky, Washington and Idaho are among the cheapest, with rates under 8 cents.


    Battery power has not improved much, probably less than doubling capacity in the last 50 years. It would have to improve by at least an order of magnitude, if not more, in order for electric cars to be anything more than a curiousity and niche product. To put it another way, a gallon of gasoline has as much energy as a 400 pound, 1100 dollar Li-Ion battery pack.

    And don’t get me started on the UAW. Did you know they were pushing to have vetirinary benetits included in their latest negotians? The last I heard, the average UAW line worker gets $78/hour in total compensation…

  4. Congress set aside a big chunk of money for the big three to develop alternate fuel cars. Ford went with a “traditional” hybrid (dual drive trains, etc.) with their popular Fusion line. Chevy Volt is a technology demonstrator. It’s fairly common in high tech to start designing a product that is planned for introduction in several years time to have features that aren’t “off the shelf” yet. It does have several good design features, such as a single engine to run a single drive train, which current hybrids (like the Prius) don’t have.

    Is a four cylinder a better buy than a hybrid? Last I checked ya. It uses a very well understood, mature technology. Internal combustion gas engines have been being built for about a century. Hybrids and electric hybrids are a new technology as modern production vehicles.

    People are buying hybrids and electrics for other reasons than the pure economics. They want to make a statement about helping the environment or don’t want to send any more money than they want to the House of Saud. The market is there. Toyota is selling all the hybrids it can make. They don’t have to pay a more for their embedded labor costs than they do for the steel in the car. That’s reserved for manufacturers that use the UAW for labor.

    My prediction is that electric/hybrid car market will increase and the technology they are based on will improve. One of the gating factors is the cost of electricity. If the cost of operation can be driven down, that will offset the cost of the batteries.

  5. I dunno about that – there’s a 7000 dollar difference between the baseline Camry and the Hybrid and at $1.50/gallon), and that amounts to 145,000 highway miles before you break even. Going by the difference between the Hybrid and the top conventional (XLE) is almost 12K miles. And to top it off, it only gets 3MPG better mileage.

    Honestly, what’s really selling now in terms of autos is CHEAP to operate – the Yaris is very popular, because it gets decent mileage(29/36) and only costs 13 grand. Add in that is has no “hidden” down the road costs like the Hybrids(battteries ain’t cheap!), and you can see why it’s so popular. Honestly, if it was powered by a 3 cylinder TD, it would be about the perfect commuter car. As for using Saudi oil, while they may be the number 2 exporter to the US(Canada is number 1), something to keep in mind is that they’re only supplying about 2% of our total oil. (1.46m barrels/day out of 84M barrels day consumption)

  6. Thanks for providing more detail for what I said before, “Is a four cylinder a better buy than a hybrid? Last I checked ya. It uses a very well understood, mature technology.”

    People aren’t buying hybrids or electrics because it’s the absolute best economic choice. They are making a statement. The people who have paid $100K or so for Telsa clearly understand that they are supporting electric car technology research by paying a lot of money for a performance electric vehicle. They could spend less money and get an IC powered car that performs just as well, but they want to support the technology, and they think an electric car that can match a top of the line Corvette in performance is cool.

    The cost of the batteries will go down as demand increases. That’s just simple economy of scale. We still need the cheap electricity to run the things, but that can be solved if the right infrastructure is invested in.

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