PLUG OK license plate
New Clips/Video on PHEVs/CalCars
Jan 12, 2006 (From the CalCars-News archive)
This posting originally appeared at CalCars-News, our newsletter of breaking CalCars and plug-in hybrid news. View the original posting here.
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We are looking for a (preferably Bay Area) partner to be our donated (or heavily discounted) laser-printing services partner, for handouts and for our (now 32-page) "recommended mix" brochure. If you know of any candidates, please have them write to info@....

NEW MEDIA: Several items have accumulated or recently come to our attention (they're all up at­kudos.html).

Feature on Belo Interactive network includes interviews with Andy Frank (UC
Davis), Pete Nortman (EDrive), Felix Kramer (CalCars)­belo-interactive-phevs-oct05.asf2-minute streaming
story (6MB Windows Media Format)­belo-interactive-phevs-oct05.asf

From the premier digital issue of greenlight Magazine,which Salon describes as "a brand new one-stop resource of practical product advice, inspiration and ideas for earth-friendly living." It has an unusual "magazine plus" online format that enables you to read online/lprint (and subscribe)­greenlight/­iss01/­ Winter 2005-2006 Premier issue, pp. 10-11 Why Buy a Hybrid Now by Benjamin Tomkins

Long-Distance Options Because braking charges their battery, hybrids excel in stop-and-go city traffic. That's not a plus for long-distance commuters. Diesel is an alternative than can push highway mpg above 40 mpg­feg/­feg2000.htm. Diesels, such as the Volkswagen Golf, can't match the Prius or the Honda Insight, but they do outpace hybrid SUVs.

Despite hybrids' stellar fuel economy, the gains aren't enough to sound a death knell for non-hybrids. It's the plug-in hybrid or PHEV­od/­glossaryofhybridcarterm/­g/­PHEV.htm, that may start the tolling. Take an HEV, add a battery that charges from a standard 120-volt socket, and the result is a car that can achieve 100 mpg -- with almost no tailpipe emissions. CalCars and other advocacy groups are pushing PHEVs as the future of achievable non-polluting technology. At 100 mpg, adoption may come sooner rather than later.

ELECTRO ENERGY (our Nickel-Metal Hydride battery partner):

Since the story below came out, the company announced it will receive $1 million from to adapt its bipolar wafer design to lithium-ion batteries­prnews/­060104/­nyw040.html?.v=35­archive/­121905/­topstory2.html
Charged up
Fairfield County Business Journal
December 19, 2005

A modified Toyota Prius tooling around the streets of Danbury could go more than 100 miles on a gallon of gasoline using "plug-in" batteries designed and manufactured by Electro Energy Inc. instead of the factory-installed batteries.

"The concept is that if you recharge our battery at night from the wall plug, you can drive the car without using any gasoline at all for more than 25 miles," said Martin G. Klein, Electro Energy's founder, chairman and chief executive officer.

That means that for many drivers, the morning and evening commute could be made on battery power alone, as could many weekend shopping runs and drives to church and home again. For longer trips, the conventional hybrid mechanism kicks in and the gasoline engine takes over.

The difference between the factory-equipped Prius and Electro Energy's modified version is in the mileage delivered on a gallon of gasoline. The Prius ¬‚- with a battery used for acceleration that is recharged when the car brakes - can get about 45 miles a gallon. "If we do it our way, we can get more than 100 miles a gallon," Klein said.

So far, Toyota isn't knocking on Electro Energy's door, he said. Not yet, at least. "We think what we're doing is the right way to go and that multiple automobile companies will be interested in this approach and the way we make our batteries."

Growth potential

"There are people who make batteries all over the world," Klein said, "but the way we design and make our batteries is unique." The batteries are based on bipolar flat wafer nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) cells stacked together under pressure in sealed modules that result in higher power and increased performance coupled with reduced weight, volume and costs.

Last month, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) included $1.5 million in its 2006 budget for Electro Energy ( for continued development and demonstration of its battery, bringing the DOE's total investment over the past several years to about $6.5 million.

"We believe our batteries have a lot of superior characteristics and we have just started to make people aware of what we've been doing," Klein said. And the company is exploring using the batteries for electric scooters and bikes, to run power tools, for use in power outages or to control voltage irregularities. "We're being more aggressive in all these different combinations of uses."

Klein is so convinced that Electro Energy's plug-in rechargeable bipolar wafer Ni-MH batteries will change the way car manufacturers look at hybrid vehicles, and that the market for its batteries will break open in other areas as well, that the company is negotiating for 200,000 square feet of a shuttered 500,000-square-foot Energizer battery plant in Gainesville, Fla., where it will be able to accelerate commercialization of its battery technology. "We're not fooling around," Klein said of the space it wants to lease. In time, he hinted, Electro Energy could take over even more of the complex.

"If we're successful in the commercial sector, which is where the highest growth potential is, we'll be able to tap into the hundreds of millions of dollars of battery applications out there," said Klein.

1975 electric car

Electro Energy recently teamed up with California Cars Initiative (CalCars)
- a nonprofit technology development and advocacy startup formed to jump-start the market for plug-in hybrids - to test the company's plug-in rechargeable batteries in modified Prius cars in Danbury and California.

Electro Energy's prototype battery delivers higher power and has less energy loss than the Prius batteries, said Ron Gremban, CalCars' lead technologist. The battery should "improve average mixed-driving gasoline consumption and range to 90 miles a gallon for the first 40 to 50 miles after each charge, without comprising the Prius' original performance of 45 mpg."

This is not Klein's first adventure with hybrid cars. "I've been trying to make a battery-powered car for a long time," he said. Back in 1975, when he was executive vice president and a founding principal of Energy Research in Danbury (now FuelCell Energy in Danbury), the company purchased some cars, pulled out the engines and replaced them with batteries. Lots of them. The effort fizzled, but Klein's interest in hybrid cars continued.

He formed Energy Research in 1992, focusing the company on researching and designing advanced rechargeable batteries, mostly with military aircraft and other military applications. Electro Energy has about 30 people - engineers, technicians and assembly people - at the Danbury facility, and has another operation in Colorado Springs that supplies aerospace-grade batteries and components for satellites, aircraft and other specialty applications.

The transaction for the Gainesville facility should be completed within a week or so, Klein said.

"We have a vision of utilizing that complex for high-volume applications of our batteries, but will continue to develop and produce specialty batteries in Danbury," Klein said.

But for the time being, Electro Energy's expenses are outstripping revenues. Last year, the company lost $1.6 million on net income of $6.7 million, and this year's figures "will be sort of comparable," Klein said.

Despite that, the company this past October was ranked 405th on the 2005 Deloitte Technology Fast 500 of the fastest-growing technology companies in North America. The rankings are based on percentage revenue growth over five years from 2000 to 2004. Electro Energy grew 332 percent during the period, Deloitte said. s

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