Episode 502 – EVs In the News, Li-Ion Battery Bottleneck, Porsche’s Legal Troubles

October 19th, 2010 at 11:50am

Runtime 7:31

Big news for electric vehicles.  GM is showing the Volt to automotive journalists this week and Nissan is letting them drive the LEAF next week. Another hurdle EVs face is a shortage of machines that make lithium-ion batteries.  The Volkswagen/Porsche merger is taking a little bit longer to go through than we thought. All that and more, plus a look at the exterior design of the 2011 Volvo S60.

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This is Autoline Daily for October 19, 2010. And now, the news.

EVs IN THE NEWS (subscription required)
A lot going on with electric cars this week and next. GM is showing the Volt to automotive journalists this week, and Nissan will have them in the LEAF next week. But according to the Wall Street Journal, scientists and engineers are questioning whether the price for EVs will drop in the short term due to the high cost of batteries. Experts say prices for some of the core metals used in batteries will go up. And the same goes for some of the electronic parts. The U.S. Department of Energy wants to reduce battery costs 70 percent by 2014 compared to last year’s prices. But experts say this goal is way too ambitious. Some predict it could take twenty years just to get a 50 percent reduction in battery costs.

BATTERY BOTTLENECK (subscription required)
And here’s another problem with EV batteries. According to Ward’s, a story that’s gone largely unreported is the shortage of machines that make these high-tech batteries. Half of the global capacity to make this equipment is located in Japan, and most of that comes from a single supplier, CKD Corporation, which only sold nine of its machines in 2009. It is on track to deliver 25 this year. Each machine can make cells for up to 3,000 EVs per year. So if you want to make 1 million electric cars, you need 333 of these machines. They ought to get to that in 2021.

In a gutsy move the Detroit Economic Club told Steven Rattner he was being uninvited to speak to the prestigious speakers venue. Rattner was on President Obama’s automotive task force until the White House discovered he was implicated in a million-dollar bribery scheme involving the New York pension fund. Now, as we’ve reported, it looks like Rattner, a Wall Street investor, is going to get slapped with a $5 million fine and be barred from trading for several years. The Detroit Free Press reports that Beth Chappel, the president of the Detroit Economic Club, decided to uninvited Rattner even though tickets were selling well for his appearance scheduled later this month. Bravo Beth! The Econ Club has been around for 76 years and has invited a veritable who’s who of political and business leaders to speak to its members over the years.

Ford and Mazda continue to move through what I’m calling a slow-motion divorce. Ford has been slowly backing out of some joint ventures and some joint-product development, and now reports out of Tokyo strongly suggest that Ford will sell a chunk of its stock in Mazda to Japanese bank Sumitomo. The Detroit News reports that Mazda will now have to start looking for another automotive partner.

The saga over Volkswagen acquiring Porsche is going to take a little bit longer than we thought. The AFP reports that Porsche faces lawsuits from 30 U.S. investment funds, accusing the automaker of manipulating the stock market and not being honest about its attempted takeover of VW in 2008. Porsche and VW Chairman Martin Winterkorn called the accusations “inadmissible and without merit.” Because of the lawsuit Winterkorn says next year’s planned merger could be delayed. He also said a tax hurdle over the merger could delay it as well. But he emphasized it will happen.

BMW and Peugeot are expanding their partnership. Since 2004 the two automakers have worked together developing engines, and now they’ve signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate on front-wheel-drive hybrid systems. They hope shared production, standardized components and economies of sales will cut the cost of the technology. Could this be a diesel hybrid system that Peugeot has been keen on introducing? Neither company is talking.

Do you know much about the new Volvo S60? Me neither. But coming up after the break, we’re both going to learn a whole lot more about it.

2011 VOLVO S60
Volvo says the new S60 is the model that’s going to put it back on the map. That’s because it puts Volvo right smack in the middle of the mid-size luxury segment. Autoline Daily recently caught up with Jonathan Disley, the interior designer of the S60, and we asked him to take us around the car and tell us what it’s all about.

The Volvo S60 goes on sale later this year in the U.S. market and will start at $38,550.

And that’s today’s report on the top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

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27 Comments to “Episode 502 – EVs In the News, Li-Ion Battery Bottleneck, Porsche’s Legal Troubles”

  1. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Don’t get too excited about ANY diesel hybrid.We all know they ain’t coming here so why bother wasting time on them.Remember,we here in the USA all hate diesels and want nothing to do with them……….yeah right.

  2. Derek V Says:

    So, the interior designer never open the door and details the exterior lines? So, lemme guess, the drive train engineers are going to introduce us to the prime and paint process on this car?
    I hope the VW-Porsche merger takes forever – literally. I don’t want to see a watered down Porsche – it needs to stick to it’s heritage, please. Stick to a limited line up – 911, 918, Cayenne and Boxter/Cayman – I can take or leave the Panamera even though it is much more impressive in person.

  3. tj Martin Says:

    One other ” small” problem with the Lithium batteries thats been overlooked here and elsewhere ;

    In the last couple of weeks the NYTimes and others have been running the story that our FAA has recommended to all US Airlines that they no longer allow Lap Tops to go on the plane in checked luggage .

    Seems the Lithium batteries have a proclivity to ahhhhh self ignite in high or low temperatures such as can be found in the cargo bays and more than a few lately have come out out the planes hold smoldering .

    Now what is it there , that cars are constantly faced with ? Oh yes thats right ( thanks Mr. Science ) High heat and/or depending where you live extreme low temperatures .


  4. tj Martin Says:

    Porsche + VW = Abysmal Fluff cars and Eminent failure

    Plus VW posted its biggest losses last week in decades . So lets hope the investors and Porsche can somehow manage weasel out of the whole VW debacle .

  5. leo Says:

    i find ford customer service terrible am i the only one who feels that they really do not care about customer problems. please advise pro or con

  6. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Derek V. says:

    “I hope the VW-Porsche merger takes forever – literally. I don’t want to see a watered down Porsche”

    There’s been a “watered down” Porsche for years, with the underwhelming, obese Cayenne. The trouble is, the Cayenne has helped make money for Porsche for years as their best selling model. Oh well…

  7. Kit Gerhart Says:

    BMW recently extended their contract with Peugeot for Mini engines, which is probably part of the expanded parnership.

  8. len simpson Says:

    RATTner is properly named

  9. pedro fernandez Says:

    Do you suppose Porsche will ever make a back-to-basics fun to drive sporty car w/o all the electronic gee-whiz that makes the regular Porsches so damn expensive? I doubt it, just like diesels have little chance of making it here

  10. LEX Says:

    John McElroy,

    The Ford Crown Victoria will be ending production soon, and has been the popular choice for Law Enforcement and Taxi Companies.
    What do you think will replace it in urban cities for Metropolitan Taxi Cabs?

    My suggestion is bring back the Marathon Yellow Taxi as some sort of an extended range EV or Hybrid. This Iconic vehicle is large enough to replace those Ford Escape Hybrids Taxi’s which are not as roomy.

    London still has there Traditional “Black Cabs” running around. A modernized Marathon with plastic body parts (i.e fenders, hood, truck lid and doors) could be lite weight and retain it’s interior volumne. Heavy Duty Plastic (Coil Spring Loaded) Bumpers could reduce bumpers minor fender benders. As a Hybrid it could be more economical and less poluting to operate. What do you think?

  11. pedro fernandez Says:

    Lex> I think the Ford Transit connect would be the logical follow up to the CV taxi, around these parts minivans are common for taxi use.

  12. Dale Leonard,Lakewood Ohio Says:

    I guess the Engineers who are working on the Li-Ion Batteries don’t own Cell Phones or Laptop Computers,because if they did,these guys would know how much heat these batteries generate. I guess they dont want Ferrari to be the only cars to self ignite.

  13. Dale Leonard,Lakewood Ohio Says:

    Re: Diesels in the US. I dont understand what the American public has against them. In 1985 I bought a Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz with a diesel. I was getting 35 city/50 hwy,had 285,000 miles on an original untouched motor when the car was stolen and never recovered. Say what you want about them but I wish my Ford Ranger had a diesel in it. Cant wait for the Mahindra to get to the states as it’s diesel only.

  14. HyundaiSmoke Says:


    YAWN!!! More antiquated technology.

  15. pedro fernandez Says:

    Smoke you got something more advanced? like a flux capacitor or how about dylithium crystals?

  16. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’ve been seeing a of so-called minivans used as taxis lately. To me, they aren’t very mini, and weigh more than a Crown Vic, but they have a lot of space.

  17. Steve Says:

    Batteries in the Volt have temperature control.

  18. dcars Says:

    I think what smoke is referring is Lithium Polymer batteries that Hyundai intends to use their Hybrids. They have issues but will probably work them out in a couple of years. Lithium Ion batteries makes sense for cars that are sold today with the current technology.

  19. Rope-Pusher Says:

    Does the duty cycle of a taxi fit within the range of any EV? Do they spend enough time waiting for fares in designated locations that they could plug in and get much of a charge? Do the same vehicles operate 24/7 with three shifts of drivers, or would there be enough down time between shifts to recharge the batteries?

    Diesel hybrids? Really? Regular hybrids don’t have a long enough of a payback on investment for you? Getting a diesel that meets US emissions standards costs thousands of dollars over the cost of a gas engine and the incremental savings of those last extra 5 or 10 mpg is pretty small when you’re already sipping fuel to begin with.

  20. cwolf Says:

    Volvo wagons seem practical and not bad looking as a family car. I drove a C30 when they were introduced and thought it to be fun. However, like all Volvos, there are an array of better cars for the price. Add any options and be prepared to watch the base price skyrocket! The gold paint on the shown S60; add about $800. The sunroof pkg another $2500 or so and the fog lights are probably another pkg. That $38K s60 soon turns into mid/upper $40K.

  21. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Dale leonard:Don’t hold your breath waiting for the Mahindra TR20/TR40 diesel pickups.With the on going lawsuit initiated by the contracted importer Global Vehicles,nothing will happen until that is all ironed out.

    Forgive McElroy for totally ignoring the whole GV vs M&M soap opera.He feels that continuing news about china is more important,and he doesn’t seem to like much of anything about diesels.I have in the past posted links to the latest articles regarding the ongoing dispute ,it seemed like a waste of time so I haven’t bothered anymore.

    I too have been waiting for a diesel pickup that isn’t a damned 3/4 ton behemoth.Maybe in my lifetime I will finally be able to buy one here in the states.

  22. pedro fernandez Says:

    My son’s clueless friend just took delivery of a V6 Camaro with a $2,000 market adjustment fee added to the total cost, what a sucker!!! Just got a ride in a Hino turbo diesel tow truck, what a freaking motor that thing has!

  23. Nick Stevens Says:

    Lutz wanted to leapfrog the outstanding (2nd and 3rd gen only!) PRIUS, and came up with the STUPID Volt? when he could have done a DIESEL HYBRID, the only vehicle that could outperform the Prius and still be in the same price range.

    Then the auto illiterates and the corrupt RAT-ners in Wash DC that ‘saved’ GM adopted the STUPID VOlt and forced the taxpayer to subsidize every idiotic unit (up to 200,000?) to the tune of $7,500, $12,500, and up to $15,000!!!

    I admire Beth of the Detroit Econ Club for kicking the Corrupt Rattner’s skinny ass off the lectern.

  24. Nick Stevens Says:

    “# Kit Gerhart Says:
    October 19th, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    I’ve been seeing a of so-called minivans used as taxis lately. To me, they aren’t very mini, and weigh more than a Crown Vic, but they have a lot of space.”

    They shoul dmake excellent airport taxis for families traveling overseas.

    I had to take a Prius Cab in Wash DC, at first I assumed it was a Prius II which has a very cramped headroom in the back so I sat in front, but it was a prius III, which is improved in that regard. The driver told me he gets 50 MPG daily average in taxi traffic. This includes a ton of idling with A/C I assume.

  25. Nick Stevens Says:

    “Do you know much about the new Volvo S60? Me neither. ”

    I knolw far more than I would ever need about this idiotic POS. VOlvo USED to make decent cars, and then it became a politically correct slave to fashion chick car maker. Pathetic. No wonder it was going down the tubes before the Chinese rescued it.

    Your segment with that hairdresser or whatever he was talking about the most insigfnificant BS was terrible. And he is WRONG, you CANNOT distinguish these whales as VOLVOS any more, NOT from any DISTANCE, as you SHOULD.

  26. pedro fernandez Says:

    Just saw John’s impressions of the Fiesta, again automakers feel the need to make steering soft enough for a feeble 90 yr old grandma to park the freaking car.

  27. Nick Stevens Says:

    My tiny 91 civic hatch has no power steering and it required too much effort to turn the wheel the other day, so I checked the tire pressure, and there it was, they needed 2-3 PSI more (when the weather cools, the pressure in the tire obviously drops!). PRoblem Solved.