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Toyota, Daimler, and BMW May Use Laptop Batteries In EVs

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On: Mon, Dec 13, 2010 at 10:57AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Toyota, Daimler, and BMW May Use Laptop Batteries In EVs

Today, the question is no longer “who killed the electric car?” but “what is going to power the electric car?” Thanks to rising fuels costs and car owners' desire to reduce their own carbon footprints, electric vehicles have come back in a big way. As the demand for newer and better hybrid vehicles increases, so too does the need for more energy efficiency and lower costs. It all comes down to the issue of battery power. Now, the same battery cells used to power up your laptop are being adapted for electric cars, hopefully resulting in long lasting power and a potentially less expensive sticker price.

Ironically, it’s the most expensive electric car which is providing the cheapest source of battery power. Tesla Motors Inc, offers their Roadster sports car with a price tag of $109,000. The Telsa car uses a pack of 6,831 cylinder-shaped battery cells that were engineered by the Panasonic Corporation. When fully charged, that power pack provides for up to 245 miles of driving time. Now, Toyota, Daimler AG, and BMW are all re-thinking the way they power their future EVs, and are giving the Panasonic battery packs a second look.

Laptops use lithium-ion batteries to power up. Because of the demand for these types of batteries from computer users, a lot of engineering focus has been applied to make them last longer, weigh less, and cost less. You have only to look at the recent sale figures of lithium-ion batteries to understand the big picture. According to Sanyo Electric Company; due to the infusion of automaker cash, the lithium-ion battery makers are expected to triple their sales in just under a decade.

Because the assembly line and manufacturing process has already been developed for these types of batteries, it’s not a huge leap to see that the overall cost of electric cars can be impacted, and in a good way.

Koji Endo, a Tokoy-based analyst, has looked at the numbers and said: “It may lead to the total component cost of an electric car getting lower than that of a gasoline car." Endo also stated: “As the cost lowers, there'll be more likelihood that retail prices of electric cars will drop.”

Current price tags for electric cars sold in America average about three-quarters higher than most of the other autos rolling off showroom floors. The Chevy Volt lists for $41,000 and the Nissan Leaf comes in at around $32,780. One major cost difference in both of those autos, compared to conventional gas-powered cars, is the batteries. Lower the battery expense, and you lower the sticker price.


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