Lithium-ion Battery Technology for 2013 EVs

Brian Hicks

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted December 28, 2012

2013 should be a major year for electric vehicles all around. A report from Pike Research, for example, indicates that plug-in vehicle sales could touch 210,000 over the year, with some 36 new models emerging.

And an IHS Automotive report suggests that worldwide plug-in hybrid vehicle production could hit 960,644 units by 2018—an increase of more than 800 percent. But let’s not forget that without an equally promising outlook for batteries, no electric vehicle is going to go far.

Nissan’s (TYO: 7201) 2013 Leaf will be equipped with Lithium-ion batteries developed and manufactured at the company’s new cell-manufacturing facility in Tennessee, Resource Investing News reports. The facility is the biggest automotive-scale Li-ion battery plant in the U.S. and represents a $1.7 billion investment. Its development involved hefty incentives and funding by the Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program.

The facility has a production capacity of 200,000 EVs yearly. As for the Leaf, it has sold around 46,000 units in two years on the market; some 18,000 of those sold within the U.S. Nissan intends to unveil around 15 new hybrid models by 2016, and the 2013 Leaf will likely boast a longer range than the 2012 model’s EPA-rated 73 miles.

Meanwhile, General Electric (NYSE: GE) is about to come out with the 2014 Cadillac ELR, a luxury coupe featuring a PHEV drivetrain. It is expected to share similarities with the Chevy Volt plug-in sedan, complete with Li-ion battery and four-cylinder engine.

Volkswagen (ETR: VOW) is investing $9.13 billion a year on electric vehicles, and we should expect to see PHEV variants of the Porsche Panamera, Cayenne SUV, 918 Spyder, and the Golf, Passat, and Audi Q7 SUV.

Ford (NYSE: F) is focusing heavily on EVs too, devoting some $135 million toward the Fusion Hybrid, Fusion Energy PHEV, C-MAX hybrid, C-MAX Energi PHEV, and the Focus Electric. All of these feature the latest in Li-ion battery technology, and all should come out over 2013. The Fusion Hybrid is EPA-rated for 47 mpg, and was nominated for Green Car Reports’ Best Car to Buy for 2013.

Finally, BMW (ETR: BMW)—a little late to the game—hopes to bring out its first all-electric offering, the i3 coupe, in late 2013. It is expected to feature a 125 kW/250 Nm electric motor, single-speed transmission, and a 160-kilometer range.

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