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Hyundai/Mazda Developing PHEVs; GM Chooses Battery Supplier

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  • Felix Kramer
    Two more automakers are reported to be planning PHEVs -- see stories below. We ve updated our page How Carmakers are Responding to the Plug-in Hybrid
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 2, 2008
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      Two more automakers are reported to be planning
      PHEVs -- see stories below. We've updated our
      page "How Carmakers are Responding to the Plug-in
      Hybrid Opportunity at
      http://www.calcars.org/carmakers.html . Please
      let us know if we've missed anything. (From
      2005-2007 we tracked most automaker comments on
      this page; now the volume of reports is so high
      that we're updating only the summary table.)

      We've also revised our home page to provide
      better links to the most popular and important pages.

      Below we also include a second story: GM Vice
      Chairman Bob Lutz says the company has selected
      its supplier for batteries for the Volt, but the
      winner won't be disclosed until the end of the
      year. We discuss the speculation on that subject.
      That Detroit Free Press story also has the
      welcome statement from Lutz, "The actual
      production of production vehicles may be earlier"
      [than November 2010 for the Volt]. On the down
      side, it seems to imply that the Saturn Vue PHEV
      might not appear until 2011 rather than 2010 --
      which we haven't seen anywhere else.

      MAZDA (33% owned by Ford): Mazda plans Volt rival

      Autocar has learned that Mazda engineers are hard
      at work trying to develop a rival to the
      Chevrolet Volt – a car which uses a petrol engine
      to charge a battery pack which powers the wheels via an electric motor.

      Senior sources say that trials are currently
      underway in Japan, with a prototype that uses a
      rotary engine to charge the battery pack. The
      tests are sufficiently advanced that Mazda has a
      working prototype in a Mazda 5 MPV bodyshell.
      Company bosses are said to be keen to put this
      system into production but no firm decisions will
      be made until the cost of batteries is reduced.

      In the meantime the company will concentrate on
      simpler green technologies. The first stop-start
      Mazda will go on sale in Japan next year and the
      system is expected to be rolled out globally on a variety of models.

      HYUNDAI: Hyundai Going Electric With Hybrids and Plug-Ins
      By Keith Barry lSeptember 01, 2008

      Hyundai's been making so many announcements about
      electric vehicles and hybrids lately you'd think
      it was ZAP. The Korean automaker's promised to
      put a hybrid subcompact, a hybrid mid-size and a
      plug-in competitor to the Chevrolet Volt on the
      road within five years. There's even some
      speculation at least one of them could be stamped "Made in the USA."

      Hyundai's going full-bore with its electric
      program, launching a partnership with Korean
      companies LG Chem, SK Energy and SB LiMotive to
      develop the batteries its cars will need if
      they're to start hitting the road by 2010 as
      promised. LG's got a solid background, having
      provided some of the batteries General Motors is
      considering for the Volt. The Japanese dominate
      battery tech these days, but Hyundai says the
      Koreans could catch up by 2013 -- at which point
      the company hopes to put a plug-in hybrid on the
      road. Korean automakers are spending nearly $1
      billion on battery tech, and the government has kicked in $40 million.

      Monday, August 25, 2008; Posted: 02:41 AM

      SEOUL, Aug 25, 2008 (AsiaPulse via COMTEX)
      Hyundai Motor Co. said Monday it plans to begin
      selling a battery-powered hybrid vehicle that can
      be recharged at standard outlets by 2013, hoping
      to catch up to its Japanese rivals in the race for plug-in hybrids.

      Asked when Hyundai would launch a plug-in hybrid,
      the South Korean automaker's chief technology
      officer Lee Hyun-soon replied it would be "possible after 2013."

      Lee made the remark during a government-arranged
      event that brought together domestic companies
      such as LG Chem Ltd.and SK Energy Co. to sign a
      memorandum of understanding to develop battery
      technology for the next-generation hybrids.

      "Currently, Japan is far ahead in regards to
      battery technology, but the technology gap isn't so wide," Lee said.

      GM settles on Volt's battery maker / Automaker to reveal it by the end of 2008

      JOLIET, Ill. -- General Motors Corp. has decided
      on a battery maker for the Chevrolet Volt
      range-extended electric vehicle, but it's not
      saying who it is, yet, Vice Chairman Bob Lutz
      said Thursday on the sidelines of a media event
      touting the automaker's 2009 vehicle line. Lutz
      said GM plans to announce the battery supplier by
      the end of the year and will show the production
      version of the much-anticipated electric-drive vehicle "fairly soon."

      GM is hoping to regain a solid reputation for
      technological leadership and return to
      profitability with the Volt and a growing lineup
      of more fuel efficient and alternative energy
      vehicles, some of which it showed to automotive
      journalists Thursday in Joliet, Ill.

      The Volt, which is expected to drive 40 miles on
      an electric charge alone and about 400 miles
      using an onboard gas-burning generator to
      recharge its lithium-ion battery, is not expected
      to be available publicly until November 2010. But
      it is already the symbol GM is using to promote
      an image of fuel efficiency and environmental
      friendliness. "The actual production of
      production vehicles may be earlier," Lutz said.

      Because the battery technology necessary to make
      the vehicle possible is yet unproven, GM has been
      working closely with two battery makers --
      Continental and LG Chem -- to develop the power supply for the Volt.

      Lutz said Thursday that the automaker expects to
      have a large number of production Volts operating
      in a test fleet by the end of 2009. "The Volt is
      real ... and test work is progressing nicely,"
      Lutz said. "We haven't hit any obstacles so far
      for the batteries. They are all performing
      flawlessly. It's almost scary we are not seeing
      any problems with the batteries."

      GM does plan to launch a plug-in hybrid, Lutz
      said. The Saturn Vue plug-in hybrid is to make it to market in 2011.

      saying for some time that it's been happy with
      the performance of both contenders --
      A123Systems/Continental and LGChem/Compact Power.

      Analysts and journalists are trying to figure out
      which consortium is the winner. The cleantech and
      broad investment community is paying even more
      attention to plug-in cars since A123Systems filed
      for a $175M Initial Public Offering -- see a
      comprehensive report at
      . (For a laugh, see how the Chinese Lucky 8 that
      determined the start of the Olympics meant that
      this IPO was filed at 8:08 AM on 8/8/08:

      Some reporters speculate that the delay in
      announcing the winner could be in some way tied
      to that company's "quiet period." We have no
      inside information, but a simpler explanation --
      that GM, which has promoted the Volt
      energetically in multiple venues for the past
      year, wants to make the most of the announcement.

      GM VIDEOS: We found the images in the one-minute
      ad GM aired during the Olympics quite inspiring.
      Several comments complained about the triumphant
      voiceover. If you missed it, see it at
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ITuKHpWKlQ . See
      an earlier 30-second ad at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_J2Jx51XZs&NR=1 .

      -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
      Felix Kramer fkramer@...
      Founder California Cars Initiative
      -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
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