By Dave Brown – Exclusive to Lithium Investing News
Just one week after a controversy regarding international espionage in the electric vehicle (EV) development arena, the announcement of a commercial partnership to make lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles has been very strongly received by the marketplace. The deal between a unit of China’s largest auto parts manufacturer, Wanxiang Group Co. Ltd. and Ener1 Inc. (NASDAQ:HEV) indicates a partnership between commercial interests in two nations which have made strong political indications and commitments to supporting vital infrastructural development for the lithium industry.
The New York-based battery maker is engaged in the business of designing, developing and manufacturing rechargeable lithium-ion batteries and battery systems for energy storage. With end market segmentation including transportation, small cell, stationary power and military applications, the company also conducts research on fuel cells and nano coating processes.
The upside benefit for Ener1 was celebrated in the market place with a relatively large volume of shares trading through the day which sent prices climbing as much as $2.22, for a 60 percent gain, the company’s largest single day appreciation since February 1, 2006. Following some profit taking during the later portion of the day shares finished up trading at $4.20, for a 14 percent finish for Tuesday’s session.
A business unit of Ener1 will own 40 percent of the new venture, contributing intellectual property and technical expertise. The remaining 60 percent of the commercial enterprise will be owned by Wanxiang Electric Vehicle Co. providing an existing factory in Hangzhou, China. The companies said they expect to be able to produce 40,000 battery packs a year by 2014. This objective is anticipated to help meet a target announced by the Chinese government to produce 500,000 electric vehicles annually by 2012.
Electric vehicles unveiled at Detroit auto show
Positive indications were revealed for the attendance of the 2011 North American International Auto Show with participation numbers continuing to run ahead of last year. Overall attendance figures for the third consecutive day exceeded those from a year ago. Attendance Monday, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, was nearly 65,000. To date, attendance overall is up nearly 20,000 over 2010 Public Show figures, according to show officials.
Ford (NYSE:F) appears to be differentiating itself with an electrification strategy emphasizing customer choice by introducing a series of electric vehicles and hybrid models, including its’ first all electric passenger sedan, the Focus Electric. Ford is also debuting the C-MAX Energi and C-MAX Hybrid at the Auto Show.
The exclusively electric rechargeable Focus Electric passenger car will launch in North America in late 2011 and Europe in 2012. The C-MAX Energi is the company’s first-ever plug-in hybrid production electric vehicle that comes to market beginning in 2012, targeting AT-PZEV (Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle) status. The C-MAX Hybrid is a next-generation full hybrid version of the five-passenger multi-activity vehicle.
The new-generation Ford vehicles introduce features and technologies including a “MyFord Touch” driver connect system especially for electric vehicles, a new value charging feature powered by Microsoft and, for North America, a smartphone app called “MyFord Mobile” that helps plug-in owners control their vehicles remotely.
General Motors has signed a license agreement to use lithium-ion battery technology developed at Argonne National Laboratory, a government funded research facility. Argonne National Laboratory’s energy storage researchers investigate all stages of a battery from its basic chemistry, to engineering, to testing for performance and durability.
The new technology is a composite cathode material, a combination of lithium and manganese oxides. The battery can store twice as much electricity as conventional lithium-ion batteries and would greatly extend vehicle range and reduce its cost, making electric cars more attractive to consumers looking for energy-efficient transport. GM’s electric-car battery supplier is South Korean petrochemical and electronics manufacturer LG Chem,(SEO:051910) which has also signed agreements with Argonne, and is building a new factory expecting mass production to begin next year.
At last year’s Auto Show, GM’s plug-in electric Chevrolet Volt was named North American Car of the Year. The current Volt model can travel 64 kilometers on its rechargeable batteries before a gasoline generator kicks in to extend its range to more than 450 kilometers. GM anticipates that the second generation Volt can go even farther, with a superior battery that holds twice as much energy.