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USA: Ford, GM Offer a Peek at the Latest in EV Battery Research

By Tilde Herrera

Published July 25, 2011

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More Stories On:Alt-Fuel Vehicles, Fleets

The trend toward electric vehicles has been heating up in recent weeks, punctuated by Walgreen’s announcement Thursday that it would install charging stations at 800 stores — the most offered by any retailer.

General Motors also revealed it would begin testing EV re-charging wireless through the OnStar service — the first pilot of its kind. Meanwhile, General Electric will begin selling wall-mounted home charging devices at Lowe’s next month.

Adding to the growing chorus surrounding EVs are a pair of status updates from two of the biggest players in the automotive industry on one of the most expensive components you’ll find in an electric or hybrid vehicle: the battery. Ford has revealed how the batteries of its hybrid taxi fleet are holding up, while General Motors announced progress on its work finding a second life for its Chevy Volt batteries once they have fulfilled their first use.

Ford has found just five issues from the nearly 43 million battery cells that have been put to use or tested. Over the last 10 years, its hybrid taxi fleet has driven more than 80 million miles in California.

“There were five cells but two separate issues for those total five cells,” Bob Taenaka, Ford’s Battery Technical Lead, said during a live web chat last week. “Both of them were manufacturing process rather than design issues as determined through root-cause analysis. Our supplier quickly resolved them as evidence by 0 failures or recurrence since 2007.”

The company currently sells the Transit Connect Electric, with plans for Focus Electric production to begin later this year and the C-MAX hybrid and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid both coming out next year. There are also plans for a next-generation hybrid in the works.
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