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The editor’s take

Mon, 02/02/2015 - 17:17 -- Gerry Woolf

AABC: Lead is far from dead again and nobody else is making money!

There’s a plethora of hybrid, pure electrics and plug in electrics now available from German manufacturers— more than 60 variants but nobody is buying— well not in any serious numbers.

But they’re still buying cars in Europe and a lot of them have stop-start systems in them and the customers don't have a choice on that.

And that, probably, is all you need to know, if you’re thinking about entering the near ‘Kamikazi’ advanced automotive battery market— DON'T!

The reason? You’ll find it hard to get costs down to under US$200/kW by the time you’ve done all your testing and development and built battery pack on your own, which is what the car industry needs.

But strangely enough, when someone has (Elon Musk and Tesla) do the rest of the industry give the man and the company a well deserved pat-on-the-back and an admission of “ maybe you gotta point there” (a battery pack built with  a myriad of 18650 cells works and comes in under budget)? Of course not. This writer thinks battery Guru Anderman alluded to this, slightly but NO, not the German auto industry. No, the build quality of the battery pack was not quite up to German industry build standards— a few spots of dodgy welding here and there, too complicated with so many cells. No not even “it's a good try Elon.”

Very churlish of the Germans, we thought here at BEST.

We feel Robert Goddard, the US pioneer of modern rocketry would have sent Werner Von Braun, the designer of infamous V2 ballistic missile a “well done” in having got the world’s first ballistic missile off the ground! Shame about the purpose though.

Wouldn’t it be really strange if VW and the others actually introduce an electric vehicle in the next two years, buying into Musk’s mega 18650 factory capability?

And that wouldn’t surprise this writer in the least. Because when it comes to battery system development, it seems German production engineering is completely beaten on getting prices down further— unless there’s more standardisation and collaboration— a real German VOLKSWAGEN, if you get my drift. An Audi or BMW on the outside but pretty much the same under the hood. Not good for battery innovation but it might lead to affordable electric cars.

Other Germans were much more encouraging, even toward the ‘ugly duckling’ of lead-acid.

Eckhard Karden, Ford Eurorpe’s battery wizz, had only good things to say about the first generation stop-start technology— lead-acid. And it means it will still be there in the next generation too, well beyond 2025. But it won’t be alone. Quite what lead-acid will be sharing its bed with will be part of this author’s AABC write up in the Spring issue of BEST. To guarantee receiving a copy, click here and subscribe. It’s a tiny fraction of $1500.00!