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Auto electric confusion?

Mon, 02/01/2016 - 11:58 -- Vic

It was a confusing week in Mainz. The only thing you could be sure about was that electrification of vehicles was not going away, but perhaps we’ve known that for some time. The thing we’re not sure about is; which DC bus voltage is going to dominate, 12V, 48V or higher; which chemistry is going to dominate and who is going to ‘win’. It’s all about winning surely? My money’s on LG Chem for now.

That’s why Menahem Anderman has been so useful and has been so successful. In starting his AABC series some 16 years ago, he put some order in the trends of electric and hybrid vehicle development and highlighted the technical issues that needed to be overcome in order for progress to be made. But more importantly, he’s been a master in forensic accounting and forecasting and has indicated where efficiencies and costs have to improve so that electric and hybrids could compete with their conventional rivals. AABC won’t be the same without him.

He’s been conservative and slightly pessimistic, but highly accurate predicting the dominance of Korean battery makers in the electric and hybrid vehicle space.  Some things were perhaps unforeseeable— the slump of 2008 which brought about the US Recovery Act and the boost to battery industry general. Now there’s what comes out of the ashes of today’s fall in commodity prices and fuel costs. But perhaps we could all have predicted that one day, China would have to tackle its choking environment by committing to zero emission vehicles— and what that would mean.

The battery space has become a thousand times more competitive and complicated in the period since 2008, which makes trend spotting harder. And as Dr Uwe Wiederman of AVl said last week “it’s probably more important now to have system engineering and modeling in place to determine the consequences of all the possible ‘what if’s’ that can be dreamed up,”— from choices in cell size, volume and chemistry, vehicle performance, pricing and so the list goes.

If a car-maker decides to alter just one parameter, what will the knock on effect be, in terms of delays and costs? All that affects the bottom line and making money is what the auto industry is about. Making things and innovating is hard. Making a profit and creating a sustainable business is even harder. Toyota showed the auto industry and the public how to make a hybrid car that delivers. The rest of the industry has followed suit but getting costs down has a long way to go if the customers are to come in big enough numbers.

AABC has been a valuable forum for the industry to examine those issues. And it will be diminished without an Anderman to put a structure on it all.

Poor emissions lead to sales revisions

Wed, 10/21/2015 - 16:28 -- Vic

It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good, but the ill wind that’s been blowing through Volkswagen these past few weeks may deliver a positive benefit to the battery industry if its industry Guru, Menachem Anderman, is to be believed.

In his latest missive, the XeV insider report (October 2015) Anderman believes the Volkswagen emissions scandal is about to force automakers to push the pedal to the floor on PHEVs development and introduction, with a consequent boost to the battery business. The beneficiaries are likely to be lithium ion battery makers in Asia.

The VW scandal that has been given acres of media coverage and cost the company billions of dollars, will probably result in even tougher emissions requirements and testing.

And these new standards can only be met through Plug in hybrids and EVs.

Yet VW in Europe has had an historically conservative approach to electric drive trains. This is likely to change because of VW’s strong interests in China says Anderman.

It will be interesting to see what the knock on effect will be on diesel sales generally as the reputation of all diesels are trashed as a consequence of VW’s appalling deceptions. And one wonders about other so called  emissions reductions technology— particularly stop start. Laboratory test are one thing but we have all heard stories of stop start system being deactivated both officially and unofficially, because car owners don’t like them and real world fuel consumption improvement is likely to be small. We’re waiting for that little can of worms to be opened with interest.

And with gasoline and diesel prices falling in real terms in the west, where are the incentives for hybrid and EV sales? Interestingly Anderman doesn't say much about vehicle volumes but lithium-ion pack prices are likely to fall. Perhaps we should be waiting with baited breath to see whether Apple will enter the EV car market.

Or better, take a look at Ed Buiel’s article in the current issue of BEST magazine. The real market for hybridisation may be trucks. New EPA rules will force trucking firms to buy hybridised tractors.  They get replaced regularly each year and hybridised versions are likely to save money. Because it’s going to take something really revolutionary to move battery costs, sales volumes and margins off their now very predictable market trajectories, if Anderman’s partly disguised charts in his teaser flyer are to be believed.

Anderman sells out to Cambridge Enertech

Thu, 06/18/2015 - 10:53 -- Gerry Woolf
Anderman sells out to Cambridge Enertech

Cambridge EnerTech, a division of Cambridge Innovation Institute, has announced the acquisition of Advanced Automotive Batteries’ bi-annual conferences, AABC US and AABC Europe.

For over 15 years, the International Advanced Automotive Battery Conference (AABC) led by self-styled battery Guru Menachem Anderman  has attracted professionals from the hybrid and electric vehicle world and their battery system suppliers, to stimulate the sharing of experiences and views.

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