Texaco and ECD To Form Hybrid and Electric Vehicles Battery Joint Venture

Texaco and Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. said they formed Texaco Ovonic Battery Systems, a new strategic alliance to bring advanced nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries into widespread commercial production as well as to further develop them for non-automotive applications. These batteries are used to power hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and electric vehicles (EVs), a market expected to grow rapidly over the next few years.

The alliance is a 50-50 joint venture between Texaco Energy Systems Inc. (TESI) and Ovonic Battery Co., Inc., a subsidiary of Energy Conversion Devices (ECD). ECD is the inventor of NiMH battery technology. These batteries have higher power, and a longer life than conventional batteries. The NiMH battery is the enabling technology for electric and hybrid electric vehicles across the automotive industry.

Automotive manufacturers are including these batteries in the designs for their upcoming production models. In addition, maintenance-free NiMH batteries have reduced environmental impact, have longer life cycles and can be produced in high volume.

Funding from Texaco for NiMH battery related activities will total more than $150 million over the next few years, Texaco said. The alliance will significantly increase its existing manufacturing facilities in Kettering, Ohio, and its development facilities in Troy, Mich. The companies also said that Texaco Ovonic Battery Systems has agreed to a multi-million dollar investment in the development of production-ready prototypes of the new Ovonic NiMH monoblock battery, which is a compact design for high-voltage (36-42 volt) automotive electrical systems for future gasoline-powered automobiles.

“Texaco is committed to the development and marketing of energy technologies, and this venture is a key part of our strategy,” said Texaco Senior Vice President William M. Wicker. “ECD has staked out a leadership position in nickel metal hydride batteries, and we intend to leverage the strengths of both ECD and Texaco to take advantage of the vast market opportunity in automotive, telecommunication and uninterruptible power supply (UPS) applications.”

In a joint statement, Stanford R. Ovshinsky, ECD President and CEO, and Robert C. Stempel, ECD Chairman, said, “We are pleased to expand our relationship with Texaco, which has proven to be a leader in advanced energy development. With the projected growth in the HEV market, Texaco Ovonic Battery Systems looks forward to offering ECD’s NiMH battery technology to the worldwide automotive market as well as developing it for non-automotive applications. These batteries are the batteries of choice for EVs and HEVs by automakers and we expect this battery market will grow significantly.”

In 1992, the Department of Energy provided funding to a consortium of auto manufacturers to research and develop these batteries. “The Department of Energy’s successful public-private partnership with ECD and Ovonic Battery to develop nickel metal hydride batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles has reached the exciting stage of commercialization,” said Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham.

“This technology’s improved range and good performance offer significant potential to help create a domestic advanced battery industry. I am particularly pleased Texaco and ECD will expand Ovonic’s nickel metal hydride battery development facilities in Southeast Michigan and I am certain that ECD and Ovonic Battery’s expertise and leadership can help sustain the nation’s technological leadership.”

General Motors has designated Texaco Ovonic Battery Systems as a preferred supplier for its NiMH battery requirements for EVs and HEVs and other automotive applications. In addition, GM and Texaco Ovonic Battery Systems are collaborating on a joint development program aimed at meeting GM’s future automotive needs for NiMH batteries.

On July 17, 2001, Texaco completed the purchase of GM’s stake in GM Ovonic, the predecessor to Texaco Ovonic Battery Systems. In addition to this alliance, Texaco and ECD are partners in Texaco Ovonic Fuel Cell Co. LLC, a joint venture to further develop and advance the commercialization of the Ovonic Regenerative Fuel Cell, and Texaco Ovonic Hydrogen Systems LLC, an alliance to further develop and market ECD’s technology to store hydrogen in metal hydrides.

In 1992, Ovonic Battery was awarded the first contract by the U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC), a partnership of the big three North American automakers with funding by the DOE and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), to develop and demonstrate NiMH batteries for EV applications. Under the USABC program, an EV-1 (GM’s all-electric vehicle) powered with Ovonic NiMH batteries was the first vehicle to achieve a range of over 220 miles on a single charge.

The Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV), an industry-government partnership with automakers, suppliers, the DOE, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Defense and the national laboratories provided funding for development of HEV NiMH batteries. Ovonic Battery successfully demonstrated specially designed NiMH batteries with high power and extended cycle life for use in HEVs. The automotive industry has used them to demonstrate hybrid electric vehicles and they are now being designed into upcoming production models.

COPYRIGHT 2001 Ron DeMarines

COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning

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