Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Brown Bag Lunch*

The Automotive HV Battery Technology and Market
By Philipp Martini

I have to admit, most of this was way over my head in terms of battery development and all the engineering, but I loved the presentation. Philip worked with Daimler on hybrid batteries for their cars and discussed a lot of interesting things like the cost of the batteries (the one he mentioned is $13,000), the lack of warranties to guarantee them (this one has a 45 minute warranty that expires at the warehouse), and the need for a better more stable supply of lithium to eventually bring these costs down to make it a profitable industry. 

Speaking of profit, Toyota is the only profitable hybrid company and it is due to their dedication to it. They spent 10 years working on it before they made a profit. Philipp mentioned that this had to do with culture and it was not something that a German or European company would do. If they spent 3 years on an investment and there was no profit, it would be shut down. Whereas in Japan, they think more of the long-term investment (as I learned from last week's brown bag presentation). Also, Toyota is the only company that has a warranty on their car battery (5 years), a risk they are willing to take.
This was a thought-provoking session and he did an excellent job of presenting a topic that most people are not knowledgeable on and making it digestible. He showed us a lot of data and in the end asked if we would buy a hybrid vehicle, before we answered he showed this ad:

He then said that to sell hybrids, the car industry would have to change perceptions. Right now, people want fast, powerful cars. Not practical, slow, heavy, fuel efficient ones that need to be charged every 40 miles. (Some car companies claim that their hybrid can go 150 miles without a charge, but it is false advertising.) They may want a car that is not going to hit their wallets every time they fuel up, but they don't want to sacrifice performance. Food for thought, love the brown bag lunches, always leave feeling like I have a lot to chew on. 

*I apologize to the engineers/ industry folk who know more than I, all of this is from recollection & if there are errors, feel free to comment!

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