5772Re: Electric Forklift Design Expertise, ... Any Applicability To PHEV Prototypin
- Dec 1, 2005I just spent several days with an Electro Energy board member. I can
assure you that they have every intention of scaling up production to
commercial levels ASAP. Keep in mind that many of the same people are
involved as were involved with EverCell, the Nickel Zinc company that
tried to go big time a few years ago. EverCell built an impressive
factory in CT and formed a partnership with another big factory in
China. Their problem was the product and product marketing. They
tried to sell a ridiculously expensive battery pack for trolling
motors for small fishing boats. It cost too much and nobody needed
it, so it flopped.
Electro Engergy's bi-polar NiMH battery is going to get
commericialized as a BEV/PHEV battery. This is a much better target
market. Auto companies have much deeper pockets than trolling motor
companies, so they can afford the upfront NRE/R&D costs. They can
also wait a bit longer for return on their investments. And, most
importantly, the potential market for PHEVs is HUGE.
As to working with low tech battery companies... I do that every day
of my working life. It is an important and often overlooked aspect of
EV development. At AeroVironment, our primary EV business right now
is charging forklifts and other industrial vehicles. These are
low-voltage, low-tech vehicles using 100 year old battery technology,
but we are continuously improving our fast charging technology to make
these vehicles more and more competitive with ICE-powered vehicles.
The progress we are making in battery charging is directly applicable
to fast-charging "more advanced" batteries as well, and our R&D
division takes our products and modifies them to use with on-road EVs.
Another important element regarding working with electric forklifts is
cost reduction. I've said it before; I'll say it again. We have
decreased the manufacturing cost of our EV chargers by roughly an
order of magnitude since I started working for AeroVironment in 1998.
We've gotten our chargers down to a price where your average
customer could afford to have one installed in their garage without
feeling much of a financial pinch (assuming we had demand for on-road
chargers). And we continue to drive our costs down. So, when BEVs or
PHEVs are ready for mass-production, we will have affordable fast
chargers ready and waiting.
Santa Clarita, CA
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