A battery factory shared between Jaguar Land Rover, BMW and Ford is in the pipeline, as the three manufacturers gear up to take on Tesla. The Times reports that JLR is holding talks with Ford and BMW about building a battery factory for electric vehicles.
Although in its early stages, it’s believed that Jaguar is keen to get the project started and build its first all-electric car, according to a report published on Sunday in The Times.
All three companies have plans for their own electric vehicles, and with Tesla currently dominating the performance and luxury electric vehicle market, each is keen to grab its share of the growing demand.
JLR currently doesn’t have an electric vehicle in either its Jaguar or Land Rover ranges, so it doesn’t build its own EV batteries. Ford’s batteries for the Focus Electric are produced in collaboration with a subsidiary of LG, while BMW sources its batteries from Samsung. A joint battery factory between the brands could benefit all three manufacturers.
The plans fit the EV timescale for all three manufacturers. Jaguar is believed to already be developing its first all-electric car, based on the F-Pace, although it remains tight-lipped on the model ahead of its unveiling.
Ford has also courted speculation that it will produce an electric model after it blocked Tesla’s attempt to use the ‘Model E’ moniker. The Model E name would be a nod to the Model T, as well as signifying the car’s electric powertrain.
An all-electric BMW i8 is also in the pipeline but will not come to fruition before the current model’s imminent mid-life refresh. Jaguar is keen to join the EV rush and like BMW has plans to join the Formula E all electric racing series that recently completed this year’s circus in Battersea Park.
Nissan UK has just announced plans to invest £26.5m in its production of electric vehicle batteries in Sunderland. These will be used in the next generation Leaf.
The announcement may end rumors that Nissan would outsource production of lithium-ion cells and perhaps even battery packs for the next Leaf to giant Korean maker LG Chem.
Nissan Europe’s press release, however, did not offer specifics of the cell chemistry–and it did not mention current cell supplier AESC, Nissan’s lithium-ion cell joint venture with Japanese computer giant NEC.
Sunderland imports the new 30-kWh pack offered on high-end 2016 Leaf models, however, from Nissan’s battery plant in Smyrna, Tennessee. It also produces battery packs for the Nissan e-NV200 all-electric small commercial van, which is assembled in a plant in Barcelona, Spain, for sale in Europe.
In 2011, Nissan UK benefited from £189m of European funding to build the Leaf and the lithium-ion batteries. Since 2013, production of the Leaf has supported more than 2,000 jobs at Nissan and in its UK supply chain.
The announcement comes at the beginning of a landmark year in which Nissan will celebrate the 30th anniversary year of its Sunderland factory – now the largest plant in the history of the UK car industry.
Already the global leaders in electric vehicles, and with a new 155-mile range Nissan LEAF on sale across Europe this month, this long-term commitment signals Nissan’s bold vision for the future of zero-emission motoring.
Paul Willcox, Chairman, Nissan Europe, said: “With 200,000 customers around the world already, the Nissan LEAF has transformed the performance and perception of EVs and made Nissan the undisputed leader in EV technology. Today’s announcement reflects Nissan’s intention to remain EV leaders for many years to come, with our UK operations at the heart of our future innovations.”
The money will be used on projects to develop and improve the batteries.
The Nissan Leaf was the first electric car to be mass-produced in the UK – about 60,000 batteries are produced at the plant each year.
The second-generation of Nissan Leaf electric car is now expected to be unveiled sometime late this year or early in 2017, and go into production as a 2018 model.
It will compete in the U.S. against the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, which GM CEO Mary Barra has promised will have 200 miles or more of range for a starting price of $37,500 before incentives as well as the Tesla Model 3 expected to be announced in March this year.
Daimler will spend about 100 million euros ($125 million) in coming years to increase production of lithium-ion batteries in East Germany
The German automaker said on Monday it will expand capacity at Deutsche ACCUmotive, its battery-making division in Saxony as it expects “high and steadily-growing demand” for electric-car batteries.
The unit supplies batteries for the luxury Mercedes division’s hybrid S-Class, E-Class and C-Class models, Daimler said.
Steps to increase battery output tie in with Daimler’s plans announced last month to phase out production of lithium-ion battery cells at its second Saxony-based Li-Tec division by the end of 2015.
Daimler aims to employ the bulk of Li-Tec’s 250 workers at Deutsche ACCUmotive.
The Stuttgart-based manufacturer in future plans to buy battery cells for its 2016 electric Smart model from LG.
Asian makers of battery cells such as Samsung, Panasonic and LG are producing the cells at lower costs, reaping benefits from scale effects as they’re also serving non-automotive industries, analysts said.
And Tesla and Panasonic are developing their Joint Megafactory in Nevada to ramp production for Tesla’s Model S,X and when it arrives the model III.
Reuters reports that Nissan is preparing to cut battery manufacturing, people familiar with the matter said, in a new reversal on electric cars that has reopened deep divisions with alliance partner Renault.
The plan, which faces stiff resistance within the Japanese carmaker, would see U.S. and British production phased out and a reduced output of next-generation batteries concentrated at its domestic plant, two alliance sources told Reuters.
Nissan would follow Renault by taking cheaper batteries from South Korea’s LG Chem for some future vehicles, including models made in China.
“We set out to be a leader in battery manufacturing but it turned out to be less competitive than we’d wanted,” said one executive on condition of anonymity. “We’re still between six months and a year behind LG in price-performance terms.”
A decision on the Nissan battery plants in Sunderland, England, and Smyrna, Tennessee, is due next month, the sources said, following a tense procurement review with 43.4 percent shareholder Renault, the smaller but senior partner in their 15-year-old alliance.
“Renault would clearly prefer to go further down the LG sourcing route, and the Nissan engineers would obviously prefer to stay in-house,” another insider said. “The write-off costs are potentially huge.”
Renault-Nissan “remains 100-percent committed to its industry-leading electric vehicle program” and has no plans to write down battery investments, spokeswoman Rachel Konrad said.
“We have not taken any decision whatsoever to modify battery sourcing allocation,” Konrad said, adding that the alliance “does not confirm or deny procurement reviews.”
But Nissan is already negotiating with manufacturing partner NEC on the shift to dual sourcing, with Chief Executive Ghosn’s backing, the sources said. Nissan currently makes all its own electric car batteries.
One option being explored would see LG, which supplies some Renault models, invest in its own battery production at one of the overseas Nissan plants as the carmaker halts operations at the sites.
The alliance is also in talks with LG on a deal to supply batteries for future Renault and Nissan electric models in China, one of the sources added.
NEC and LG declined to comment.
Under Ghosn, who heads both companies, Renault-Nissan bet more on electric cars than any mainstream competitor, pledging in 2009 to invest 4 billion euros to build models including the Nissan Leaf compact and as many as 500,000 batteries per year to power them.
Nissan and NEC invested 23 billion yen ($215 million) in their Zama, Japan battery plant and electrode manufacturing, backed by government aid. U.S. and British taxpayers also helped with the $1 billion invested in Tennessee and 210 million pounds ($341 million) in Sunderland.
But the mass consumer was largely unmoved – or deterred by the sluggish rollout of recharging networks – despite generous sales incentives in key markets.
Global electric car sales will remain shy of 1 million in 2020, according to forecaster IHS Automotive, less than one percent of the total vehicle market, and one-tenth of the demand Ghosn had predicted.
“Renault-Nissan were definitely ahead of their time – in a bad way,” said Stuart Pearson, an Exane BNP analyst.
“There’s nothing wrong with ambition, but when that involves excess investment then it’s also a risk,” he said. “Their targets were really excessive on volume and battery capacity.”
The alliance has begun a belated push into faster-selling hybrids, combining electric and combustion-engine propulsion. Upscale electric rivals such as Tesla’s Model S meanwhile hog the limelight, backed by big investments in newer, cheaper battery technologies.
Ghosn dropped extra battery sites planned for both alliance carmakers, leaving Nissan with the entire production capacity of 220,000 power packs through the NEC joint venture, AESC.
But that still far exceeds the 67,000 electric cars Renault-Nissan sold last year, and even the 176,000 registered to date. A pledge to reach 1.5 million by 2016 has been scrapped.
The coming hybrids will fill some of the excess plant capacity, although they use fewer power cells per vehicle. An all-electric Tesla rival is still planned for Nissan’s premium Infiniti brand in 2018 with batteries as big as 60 kilowatt-hours (kWh), more than twice the energy capacity of the Leaf, which is due for replacement the previous year.
Nissan is seeking to unwind a ruinous NEC contract that requires it to purchase electrodes for the full capacity of 220,000 Leaf-sized 24 kWh batteries regardless of actual sales, sources said. The joint venture partner’s consent is also needed to bring LG production or other activities onto the Tennessee or Sunderland sites, which together employ 500 workers.
The financial hit for Nissan “will depend on what else we can do with the plants”, with heavy charges likely if both are closed, one manager added.
Renault has already taken at least one writedown of 85 million euros on its over-investment in electric cars following the collapse of Better Place, a charging startup that had ordered 100,000 of its battery-powered Fluence sedans.
The Nissan procurement shift could still be thwarted by capacity-cutting costs including repayment of U.S. and British government support. Next-generation battery manufacturing at Zama would also likely need fresh Japanese aid to compete with LG and its subsidies from Seoul, sources said.
Navigating the battery backtrack is a key test for CEO Ghosn as he demands closer Renault-Nissan integration from executives mandated to pursue savings across the alliance.
For Nissan, the plant cuts would be a partial retreat from the automotive battery market – expected to top $20 billion by 2020 – just as California-based Tesla builds its $5 billion “Gigafactory” with Panasonic in Nevada.
Japanese engineers are still smarting from Renault’s 2010 move to drop Nissan batteries and purchase LG for its flagship Zoe model, worsening the overcapacity problem.
“It was a 15-20 percent cost gap,” said one of the people involved in the Renault decision. “In purchasing, 3-4 percent is usually enough to choose a partner for.”
Today’s Nissan batteries come in at $270 per kWh, based on replacement prices thought to be below cost, according to consulting firm AlixPartners. The true manufacturing cost is believed to be over $300, inflated by the amortization of unused plant capacity and the burdensome electrodes deal.
The next generation will have lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC) cathodes, as used by LG, rather than the current lithium manganese oxide (LMO) chemistry. The alliance cost target is $200/kWh, whether made or bought, sources said.
With a clean slate and sufficient volume, Nissan engineers insist, their next generation of batteries could be competitive on price as well as keeping crucial know-how at the company.
“When you’re developing cutting-edge technology, the best way to know about that technology is to build it in-house,” said one. “That’s what Tesla is doing.”
Many of the past missteps can be traced to internal rivalries of the kind Ghosn is only now moving to stamp out.
Former Nissan second-in-command Carlos Tavares, racing to beat the Renault Zoe to market, cut Leaf development by a year and skipped a critical battery redesign, according to alliance veterans. Nissan later cut prices, settled a class action and offered retroactive warranties to answer customer concerns about
battery deterioration. Tavares now heads PSA Peugeot Citroen.
His Renault archrival at the time, Patrick Pelata, signed a confidentiality deal with LG that meant Nissan battery engineers never even knew what they were up against.
Against that backdrop, the atmosphere may be charged when Nissan engineering boss Hideyuki Sakamoto puts final arguments against the outsourcing plan in a presentation to Ghosn as soon as this week.
But the CEO’s mind may be all but made up.
“We’re in the process of opening up battery sourcing to a range of suppliers,” Ghosn said last week when asked whether Renault could buy batteries from France’s Bolloré.
In future some batteries will likely be outsourced “within the framework of alliance procurement”, he added. “What’s important to us is that electric car performance fully meets customer expectations.”
With sales growing rapidly in the US, ramping in Europe and just stating in Asia Tesla has growing pains.
Each car requires a great deal of battery capacity. With a Model X next year and a lower priced car on the horizon, Tesla needs lots on batteries. Given a production target of half a million cars by 2020 Tesla will need more batteries that the world produces. That’s a fundamental problem. Easy solution build a giant battery plant and call it a Giga Factory.
Yesterday Tesla announced the first details on a blog post: The goal of the factory is to reduce cell costs much faster than the status quo and, by 2020, produce more lithium ion batteries annually than were produced worldwide in 2013. Tesla expects the Gigafactory to drive down the per kWh cost of our battery pack by more than 30 percent. That is critical in producing a lower cost Model E.
The details are:
- The factory will encompass every step of battery cell and pack fabrication, from precursor materials–electrodes, separators, electrolyte, cases–to cell, module, and pack assembly
- Tesla has already been talking to partners–most likely Panasonic and its suppliers–about collaborating on the gigaplant
- One of the “raw material” inputs will be existing battery packs broken down during recycling
- Cell output will be up to 35 gigawatt-hours per year, or 35 million kilowatt-hours
- Pack output (possibly including some reused modules from recycled battery packs) will be up to 50 GWh
- Cost per kilowatt-hour will be driven down 30 percent over current levels by the huge integrated plant
- The factory site will cover 500 to 1,000 acres and employ up to 6,500 people
- Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas are shown as candidate locations for the plant
- Once a site is selected, the company expects to complete design and zoning approvals this year
- Construction would also start this year, with equipment installation in 2016, and production launch and ramp-up during 2017
Check out these images of the factory and potential locations:
Introducing the GREYP from Rimac
Most of the electric bikes we have seen and used have been on the basic or limited assist side of the spectrum. That all changed yesterday.
That all changed when we discovered the greyp. – The world’s most advanced electric bicycle, or so they claim. And they are most likely correct. This thing is amazing: Look at these specs:
- 12 KW of power
- 120 Km range
- 65 Km/h top speed
- 80 min re-change time
- Twin disc brakes on front wheel
- Looks good
- Available in the UK in 2014
- Fingerprint security
We were attending the Salon Prive at Syon House and there amongst the fancy Ferrari, Porsche, Bentley, Pagani, Spyker, Mclarens and other exotic four-wheeled super cars was the electric bike or motorcycle looking a little left out. Rimec Automobill the main company were also showing their first electric car. Another fancy machine.
Learn more at http://greyp-bikes.com/
Elithion, one of the top providers of Lithium-Ion Battery Management Systems (BMS), expands as it marks its’ five year anniversary
Owner Davide Andrea started Elithion in August 2005 offering Li-ion BMS technology to the automotive industry. He put up a website, and almost immediately the inquiries started coming in. He literally wrote the book on Battery Management Systems in 2011. One book review states “it is an invaluable resource for anyone designing a battery management system.” Davide’s expertise is tapped by many leading industry companies and he has spoken about the benefits of using Li-Ion BMS’s at numerous trade conferences.
Now after having more than 1000 worldwide systems in the field, Elithion celebrates its’ five year anniversary.
This May, Steve Mayer joined the company as General Manager. Steve has 20 years of management and engineering experience in start-ups and large corporations across industries that include electric and hybrid vehicles, suspension design, crash testing, automotive validation testing, telecom systems and energy storage systems.
“As the company kept growing in size and became more and more successful, the first location couldn’t accommodate our requirements,” said general manager Steve Mayer. “We now have one facility to house all of our office, research and development, manufacturing and testing needs.”
Elithion has many success stories including the well-established client, AvtoVaz, a Russian car manufacturer, who uses Elithion BMS’s in their race cars and has achieved high accolades in the Formula Hybrid and the Dakar rally.
Today Elithion offers a wide selection of Li-ion products, including complete battery packs. Elithion also has expanded its’ product line and offers applications for the energy storage, solar installation and telecommunications industries.
Check out http://elithion.com/ for more information
The U.S. Energy Department will not give A123 Systems the balance of a $249 million grant
The news comes a day after the bankrupt battery maker was bought by a Chinese company.
Alex Molinari, president of Johnson Controls Power Solutions, said he expected the sale to be approved by the Delaware Bankruptcy Court on Tuesday.
Republicans lawmakers, meanwhile, renewed criticisms that the White House’s clean energy grant to the maker of lithium ion batteries for electric cars had wasted taxpayer money.
The company had received about $133 million of its $249 million grant when it filed for bankruptcy protection in October.
A123 declined to comment.
Wanxiang, which bid $256.6 million for A123, did not request the grant money and did not anticipate receiving it, according to a person familiar with Wanxiang’s bid.
The department official said that the conditions of the grant require taxpayer-funded equipment and facilities to remain in the United States.
The department has the right to demand compensation if it does not approve of the buyer of A123.
Pin Ni, president of Wanxiang America, said his company would respect the decisions made by the DOE.
However, the person familiar with Wanxiang’s bid did not anticipate such a demand because the Chinese company plans to use the taxpayer-funded equipment in the United States, as originally intended by A123.
More than a dozen lawmakers have raised concerns regarding Wanxiang’s takeover of A123, which will need approval from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).
CFIUS, an inter-agency panel that vets foreign deals for security concerns, is headed by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
Critics have argued that A123’s technology should not be allowed to pass into Chinese hands after the company received government funding.
“The review process at the Treasury Department is the last hope for ensuring some regard for U.S. interests,” Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa said in a statement on Monday.
Grassley and Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota have repeatedly raised concerns about Wanxiang’s pursuit of A123 and the government’s grant to the battery maker.
If Wanxiang fails to get government approval, A123 would be put back on the auction block.
Johnson Controls would be very interested in bidding again, Molinari said, adding that his company’s runner-up bid, made jointly with NEC Corp of Japan, was worth about $251 million.
Wanxiang did not purchase A123’s politically sensitive business that works with the U.S. Defense Department, which lawmakers had said would pose a threat to national security. That was sold instead to Navitas Systems for $2.25 million.
Once heralded by the Obama administration as a success story for U.S. manufacturing, A123 faltered this year after several technical missteps and amid weak demand for electric cars.
A123 received its grant as a part of the Obama administration’s $2 billion stimulus initiative to promote domestic battery manufacturing. U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu visited one the company’s plants in 2010.
Reporting from Reuters,
Lithium-ion battery maker A123 Systems Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware and said Johnson Controls Inc. has agreed to acquire its automotive battery business.