Why buy from the EV-95 sellouts?
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Thread: Why buy from the EV-95 sellouts?

  1. Default Why buy from the EV-95 sellouts?

    Hey all,

    Alrighty, so thanks to wired.com, I see that upwards of thirty-five thousand people want a Chevy Volt when it comes out. Cool beans. I'm all for the electric car.

    However, I have a bit of a beef with GM and any company that is a subsidiary of GM; back in the 1994, GM bought the patent rights for the EV-95 NiMH battery, then in 2000 sold those rights to [Chevron-]Texaco.

    In 1997, the Toyota RAV4-EV, using said EV-95 battery, had a range of approximately 120 miles. An SUV--a vehicle so large that, as one of my professors likes to put it, "it can be seen from space"--one of the most notoriously fuel-inefficient vehicle types ever made, could get 120 miles per charge. More than a decade ago. Immediately after obtaining the patent rights, Chevron-Texaco forbade the production of NiMH batteries large enough to power a vehicle and sued Toyota and Panasonic for patent infringement (don't ask me how Chevron-Texaco got $30 million in damages for a technology that they hadn't yet sealed and that had only been employed in fewer than 1600 vehicles, but they did...whatever). Since then, several companies have developed other electric cars, but due to the limitations in battery technology, these vehicles have all had ranges of around 30-50 miles per charge.

    So, in ten years of technological advancement, we have still not surpassed the NiMH battery technology. So, in my view, Chevron-Texaco has stymied human technological advancement in the name of profit. I don't mind profit. Everyone has to feed their kids, Chevron-Texaco employs about 65 thousand people, and even I can't argue with the desire to have a really nice house. But to hold back humanity? That I take great issue with.

    And GM helped them do it.

    The way I see it, we could have had viable electric cars and the beginnings of the infrastructure necessary to support them years ago. Maybe not ten years ago, but when gas started to skyrocket in early 2003, I'm willing to bet that we could have had electric sedans in mass production by major manufactures by 2006, with the NiMH batteries advanced along the way. Or, with this technology as a viable alternative, gas demand would have dropped and gas prices would not have risen so sharply.

    But we don't, and gas prices did skyrocket, and GM had a hand in it. GM betrayed us.

    So I pose this query to you: why, knowing all of this, should I support GM and its subsidiaries by purchasing their vehicle in two years? Seriously, I'm not trying to be a troll. I believe I have good reason to boycott GM for the rest of my life and influence others to do the same. I believe that a company that thwarts progress should be smitten from the market, forever. I believe that we, as the consumers, have the power to influence manufacturers to produce what we want to buy, not what we have no choice other than to buy.

    I am willing to accept, however, that there may be good reasons to set this aside, to let bygones be bygones. Perhaps the executives responsible for the EV-95 fiasco have been 'retired' and the new management is reforming to give us what we want. Perhaps GM has produced an electric vehicle that surpasses any other potential competitor by far. Perhaps the new Volt's battery is superior to the EV-95 already and I just don't know it. These and other arguments are possible, but I don't know.

    I've said my part. I want to hear what others have to say, both in support of as well as in opposition to GM.

    Luke

  2. #2

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    First off, the "SUV" you're talking about ('97 RAV4) weighed over 200 lb less in gasoline form than an '09 Corolla (the automatic 2WD 1997 RAV4 weighed less then 2500 lb.) It's not the "see-it-from-space" type of SUV people get all lathered up about these days.

    You'll find PLENTY of people on this board who want Chevron corporate officers heads on poles in front of the city gates, but it's just not going to happen. I'm not so easily convinced that their only motivation was to protect Big Oil, because of course they'd stand to make big money if companies were buying their NiMH batteries or licensing the technology. Maybe they're too dumb to think outside the oil market, maybe there were politics involved, or MAYBE it wasn't economically viable in 1997 to manufacture the batteries and sell them for passenger cars. 11 years later, they're tossing around numbers like $10k for the cost of the battery back in the Volt, that has less capacity than the one in the RAV4EV and less all-electric range than the last-gen (NiMH-equipped) EV1. I've seen people bandy about an $80k-per-car figure for the cost to build the EV1 in the '90s... I have no idea if that's a realistic number but it's certainly not a good number for a short-range 2-seater. I'm guessing it costs at LEAST $80k per unit to build a Tesla, since they're selling it at $100k per. It has only a little more range than the RAV4EV and only 2 seats.

    I think the Volt is an outstanding effort, and I want to see it succeed. I don't think things were quite as rosy in the days of the EV1 as some True Believers do, but I do think that over a decade they'd have made quite a good, economically-viable car if they'd kept at it.

  3. #3

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    A good insightful question! Why buy from GM indeed!! I think the short answer is because they are the only ones with the corporate size and muscle to pursue this initiative at this time. The Volt is a great idea and if they build it, I will buy it. But, will they build it? And, if they do, will it ever be worthwhile to buy one?
    I offer the example of our own Zenn car (Google it!). I am a Canadian and here we have a very interesting electric car that is ready to go at the present time. Will any of our governments (local, provincial or federal) allow it to be operated on the public roadways? Not that I can see so far (although a couple of States are ok with it!) I could run all of my local errands and drive to work every day in this vehicle. Zero emissions and little cost. But there is no political will to see it happen. Why? You can guess the obvious lobby type reasons. But more profound to me is the fact that on every liter of gas we pump there is a significant gas tax component. I'm not sure whether or not that is the case in the States but it sure seems like we have a serious conflict of interest here in Canada.
    I wish those behind the Volt the best of luck. As I said, if it's produced I'll be the first to buy one (and I currently own a Vette , Sierra and Jeep) and you should buy one too because GM will have had to overcome a lot of hurdles (the least of which I suspect is the technology)! But I cant get too worked up about it quite yet!!
    DG

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  5. #4

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    In 1997, the Toyota RAV4-EV, using said EV-95 battery, had a range of approximately 120 miles. An SUV--a vehicle so large that, as one of my professors likes to put it, "it can be seen from space"
    Uhhhh no. Not even close.

  6. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MrBogey View Post
    Uhhhh no. Not even close.
    Look it up yourself. He was exaggerating on the size of the RAV4 but the 120 mile range is easily achievable with careful driving. The battery pack that accomplished that took up at most 10% of the space under the hood. With mass production the cost of electric vehicles would have plummeted like you wouldn't believe. And before any of you start let me point out that the RAV4EV NiMH battery did NOT need any cooling apparatus and lasts at least 100,000 miles. Not bad at all for a first run low-volume experimental car.

  7. #6

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    It better last 100k miles. It'd be worthless if it didn't.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MrBogey View Post
    It better last 100k miles. It'd be worthless if it didn't.
    GM likes to pretend that batteries can't be used for electric cars because they need replacing every few years. That simply isn't true when you look at the RAV4EV.

  9. Default

    GearheadGeek said:

    I'm not so easily convinced that their only motivation was to protect Big Oil, because of course they'd stand to make big money if companies were buying their NiMH batteries or licensing the technology. Maybe they're too dumb to think outside the oil market, maybe there were politics involved, or MAYBE it wasn't economically viable in 1997 to manufacture the batteries and sell them for passenger cars.
    If the above quote is true then why sue Toyota to STOP usage.

    Julian Tempest said:

    Chevron-Texaco forbade the production of NiMH batteries large enough to power a vehicle and sued Toyota and Panasonic for patent infringement (don't ask me how Chevron-Texaco got $30 million in damages for a technology that they hadn't yet sealed and that had only been employed in fewer than 1600 vehicles, but they did...whatever)
    Julian, GM was not the only automaker that participated in the suppression of electric cars. Sorry I don't have the links, GM, Toyota, Ford and others complied with the California C.A.R.B mandates and built electrics which after the automakers sued to remove C.A.R.B requirements destroyed their vehicles, only a few still survive. The survivors like the RAV4e prove the technology was viable. If you haven't seen "Who Killed the Electric Car", please do. There are a lot of detractors on the web that said the EV1 was junk. The first generation EV1 with lead-acid, I agree would be very limited. The second generation EV1 with NiMH batteries would totally satisfy my daily need for transportation. But, alas, GM destroyed most of the EV1s and immobilized the rest.

    Here's a link reviewing how the EV1 performed with NiMH batteries.
    http://www.ev1.pair.com/charge_across_america/charge_html/nimh_test2.html

    Here's a link to a government report on specifications/review of the EV1 with NiMH batteries.
    http://avt.inel.gov/pdf/fsev/eva/ev1_eva.pdf

    A government, Electric and Hybrid Vehicle testing report. EV1 (NiMH) comes out great on driving range.
    http://www1.eere.energy.gov/vehicles...inalreport.pdf

    One detractor said the EV1 couldn't be sold because it wasn't crash tested. False.
    http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-50325069.html

    GM knows how to build great electric cars. When watching "Who Killed the Electric Car" it appeared that part of GM truely was trying to build the best electric car they could. The other part of GM was trying their hardest to kill the C.A.R.B mandates then get rid of the cars and supress the advanced and proven NiMH battery technology. Totally wacked out company. They're still suffering from their bad choices today.

    As you stated GM sold the NiMH technology to an oil company. It would seem the oil company is strangling the battery division so that poor quality batteries are leaving the plant.

    GM discovered an internal leak in the nickel-metal hydride batteries that Cobasys made for GM's 2007 model hybrids. The leak caused the hybrid powertrain to shut down. The vehicles could still be driven, but not with the hybrid system.

    The vehicles affected were the 2007 Saturn Vue Green Line and Saturn Aura Green Line hybrids. A GM spokesman says the company recalled about 9,000 vehicles to replace battery packs. That slowed the launch of the 2008 Saturn hybrids and the new Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid.
    http://www.autoweek.com/apps/pbcs.dl...3383/1530/FREE

    An oil company should not own any company researching/developing/producing electrical energy storage devices. Conflict of interest, big time.

    So to your question why buy from EV-95 sell outs? I feel GM can create a really good EV, they say the Volt will be sold in 2010. There may be a large number of people out there that feel as I do by saying "I will not buy a new car until that car is a highway capable electric." That's pressure on GM and any other automaker. They survive on new car sales. Build the car and I'll buy it. Isn't that better than killing the company? Our purchasing behavior will change their building behavior.
    Last edited by LyleL; 08-16-2008 at 08:37 PM.
    Enough blood and treasure. The time is now for the electrification of transportation.

  10. #9
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    The electric car of the 90's was never a money maker for any auto company. Batteries were and still are way too expensive to rely on for extended range. Despite its limited availability during the late 90's and early 00's, the electric car was never anything more than a public relations gimmick and a means to comply with state laws. I wish people would realize this. Range costs money, it's very simple. EVs with 120 mile range cost $80,000 to make. Why did we see EVs back then with such long range, but only see 40 mile range today? Because the car is being built for serious volume sales, not for PR or legal reasons. If you are paying $35,000, you are going to get $35,000 worth of a car. This isn't the 90's where you get a $80,000 EV with lease payments constructed around a $30,000 price tag. So range costs money, and you are now going to get what you pay for.

    There is no patent suppression of EV-95. Cobasys will accept large orders of the battery, yet there have been no such orders. Why? Because there has been no auto company interested in placing the orders. Why? Because there has been no demand for electric cars until now. But we'll see. 2015 is when the patent on EV-95 dies. By the OPs predictions, factories will start pumping out EV-95 format NiMH batteries once again, because it is now in public domain. But that won't happen. Why? Because...

    NiMH as a battery is pretty much DEAD. Li-ion is superior in nearly every way. Why don't we see NiMH in cell phones, laptops, cameras, etc...? Because Li-ion is getting cheaper and it's far superior. The argument that they haven't been proven in EVs is BS. AC Propulsion has been using small format Li-ion for years, and now we have Tesla joining. GM will be the first to use large format Lithium batteries in a large volume application, but even they have admitted that their testing so far is proving the packs are better than they anticipated. When NiMH first came to the EV scene, it too was unproven. Give new technology a chance.

    So why will I buy a Volt from an EV-95 sellout like GM? Because it's a cool car and I want one. People need to get over the EV1 era. If they really want to see the electrification of the automobile, they will stand behind companies like GM now that they are releasing a car ALL ON THEIR OWN, not because some state is forcing them to, but because they see a chance to make money on a car that has a lot of demand. Let's let capitalism have its try.

    "The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home." ~James Madison

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  12. Default

    Kubel said:
    There is no patent suppression of EV-95.
    There are a lot of people who believe otherwise. I really want to know the truth. Would you please contact Panasonic or Cobasys and post the information on what product number and cost the ev-95 packs can be acquired for. It would likely help existing RAV4e owners when they need battery pack replacement. It would be a great help for the people wanting to convert standard cars to electric. Choice is good. Please let us know.

    But what about the people who build batteries and electric vehicles? Nobody at Cobasys, the company who officially owns the large-format NiMH battery patents, responded to my request for an interview.
    http://www.evworld.com/article.cfm?storyid=1198

    GM and Chevron collaborated with Toyota-Panasonic in such a way that these batteries were killed, and no such NiMH batteries are available for EVs. Chevron, awash in oil profits, assets and cash reserves, claims that "it's a chicken and egg problem" of "no demand", but that does not explain why they sued Panasonic, extracting $30,000,000. Shortly thereafter, the EV-95 line of proven, NiMH batteries still running in the RAV4-EV was shut down and killed, and the batteries cannot be sold or imported into the USA, according to one Toyota spokesperson. Only a few used EV-95, salvaged from crushed vehicles, are available, and those only for warranty replacement on existing RAV4-EV. Toyota won't sell even these used batteries to EV converters, who need long-lasting, reliable batteries and can't get them.

    "A senior Chevron executive was quoted off-the-record as saying that Chevron was determined not to go down the BEV path again and never to let that happen again in the automotive industry, at least not with NiMH batteries." Chevron, by virtue of its purchase, apparently wants cars to be powered by gasoline and not by NiMH batteries large enough to drive cars from electric plug-in power.
    Chevron's unit that controls the patents, cobasys, refuses to sell their version of the battery unless, they say, they get "a large OEM order". Apparently, they also refuse to let anyone else sell it, either
    http://ev1.org/chevron.htm#p4

    Kubel said:
    Because there has been no demand for electric cars until now. But we'll see. 2015 is when the patent on EV-95 dies.
    No demand? I want an electric, have for years. The auto companies resist it for their own business income reasons (hint: no service income, and long life = low car replacement). How convenient for the oil and resistant auto companies to have a viable technology restricted until 2015. 1997 to 2015 that's 18 years of no chance for the electrics, no choice for me and billions in U.S. dollars going to foreign lands to purchase oil.

    Kubel said:
    People need to get over the EV1 era.
    Why study and discuss history? Because:

    "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." George Santayana
    Last edited by LyleL; 08-17-2008 at 12:36 AM. Reason: changed Cobasis to Cobasys
    Enough blood and treasure. The time is now for the electrification of transportation.

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