Hybrid Car Batteries Technology Counterpoint

If you read my “Hybrid Cars Counterpoint” article you noticed it said little about the hybrid car batteries. In part that is because they are made, and the technology is, outside the U.S. Since then there have been many changes, and it now appears that the car battery is a priority for the U.S.. All car manufacturers are now coalescing around hybridization, and the technology and cost for the battery. The announcements of suppliers and developers are being made at the North American Auto Show in Detroit.

Batteries use the following technologies for specific applications:

1.   Nickel-Cadmium

Conventional car usage, low energy capacity, 3-5 yr life, contains toxic lead

2. Nickel Metal-Hydride (NiMH)

Current Hybrid car usage, higher energy capcaity, 5-8 yr life, expensive due to nickel

3. Lithium Ion

For small equipment, medium energy capacity, cheaper, plugin required

This battery guide shows the present Nickel-Metal Hydride batteries for the Toyota Prius, Toyota Highlander, Ford Escape, Honda Insight, and Saturn Vue.

There is not one Lithium Ion battery, but several formulations for the electrodes compete:

1. Cobalt Dioxide is most popular for small cells, but is prone to fire.

2. Nickle-cobalt-maganese (NCM) is easier to make, and cheaper, but has a shorter life.

3. Nickle-cobalt aluminum (NCA) is similar to NCM.

4. Manganese oxide spinel (MnO) offers high power, low cost, but lower energy density.

5. Iron phosphate (FePo) is inexpensive, has stability and safety, but requires more cells.

Battery design must consider that total energy determines the car’s electric range, while power determines its acceleration.

Present Hybrid car batteries are in demand. It appears the three main suppliers are Panasonic and Sanyo in Japan, and U.S. based Cobasys.

As was previously noted the present Nickel-Metal Hydride battery is expensive and is the predominate factor for the Hybrid car not being able to compete in the market place. Because of this the market place has decided to develop a cheaper battery-a new lithium battery. This article, “Are the Hybrid Cars Here to stay?”, gives a history of the hybrid cars and the hybrid batteries.

The Lithium-ion systems listed above are now in the experimentation stage by manufacturers. They offer extremely low internal resistance, deliver high load currents, and accept rapid change. The big drawback of these batteries are their durability or life, cost, safety, and availability. Currently Toyota, Honda, and Ford are leading in Hybrid  car technology. Presently, the biggest lithium-ion battery manufacturers are Sony in Japan, Samsung in South Korea, and Johnson Controls in the U.S.

A group of U.S. battery companies just teamed up to boost American manufacturing of Lithium-ion batteries. These aim to compete with the Asian companies that currently dominate the lithium-ion battery market.

Johnson Controls unveiled its re3 concept plug-in hybrid electric vehicle at the North American Auto Show in Detroit. Johnson Controls is a maker of the Lithium-ion battery and has just jointed up with Saft, a French venture partner, to make Lithium-ion batteries for Hybrid commercial trucks.

The latest development that was announced is that “Johnson gets Ford hybrid deal.”

Other articles on new technology and manufacturers developing the lithium-ion battery are;

MIT powers up new battery for Hybrid cars. (Lithium Nickle Manganese Oxide)

Mercedes Hybrid Car Battery breakthrough “Groundbreaking”

China’s BYD touts battery technology

Lithium Batteries for Hydrid Cars (GM)

In conclusion, the present battery used in Hybrid cars is an expensive Nickel-metal-hydroxide (NiMH) battery. The hope for the future is the development of a cheaper Lithium-ion battery (see above formulations).

Hybrid Cars Counterpoint


If you have read my other Counterpoint articles, you might be wondering about Hybrid cars for better fuel efficiency and environmental concerns. I also considered the Toyota and Honda models when I bought my last car. Unless you are willing to pay more for a hi-tech car, with little improvement over conventional car choices, then read on for some fact investigation.


It’s not that we don’t want to do our part to help protect the environment. We’re all for burning less fossil fuel. I found out the same as this article referenced that a Honda or Toyota Hybrid estimated 36-45mpg and cost approximately $22,000. I settled on a Pontiac Vibe (Toyota Matrix) that gets 29mpg and cost $16,000. At 15000 miles/year of driving and $3.80/gal of gas that gives a savings of $382-698/yr. To make up for the increased cost of $6000 would take 8-15 years. The Vibe had considerably more carrying space (people and luggage) and was also roomier and simpler construction. It is expected that it should still be around after 8-15 years.


A good article to explain the Toyota Prius (now the largest selling hybrid car) is “An introduction by the U.S. Department of Energy to commercially available advanced vehicle technologies TECHNICAL SNAPSHOT featuring the Toyota Prius.” It explains how a hybrid car (Toyota Prius) works, the innovative features, and the performance. Another article is “How Hybrid Cars work.”


This article explains some “Hybrid Cars-Pros and Cons.”


This article gives “Hybrid Cars-Feedback” from owners of hybrid cars. Most are happy with their car and would buy another. Another article gives “Toyota Prius Hybrid testimonials and reviews.” It should be pointed out that this is only about 1% of the car market.


Some owners are disappointed in their gas mileage from the article “Hybrid Mileage Comes Up Short.” Their were several owners and articles that fell in this category.


This article gives reasons why the “Toyota Prius Falls Short.”


Look at this article on “Are Hybrid Cars Worth It?”


Consider the article “Hybrid Cars vs Gas Cars –Pros and Cons.”


This article covers “Prius Misconceptions.”


This article covers “Hybrid Industrial Market Trends” and why the cost to produce a hybrid may result in a future low hybrid market.


Other interesting articles:


  1. All about hybrid cars.
  2. Hybrid Car Review.
  3. Hybrid Cars Loosing Fuel Efficiency.


There was not much mentioned about the hybrid batteries and their cost. Most are made in Japan (little US technology) and manufacturers have 8 yr or 100000 mi warranties. Since hybrids have been sold, there have been few battery problems or failures.


The bottom line on hybrid cars is now your own personal priorities. Do you want a hi-tech car? Do you want a higher mpg car? Do you want an environmental friendly car? Do you mind paying higher car prices, or depend on the government for incentives? You can do almost the same with a smaller efficient gas car (not SUV). But will there be an expanding market for the Hybrid Car (not so far)?

Of interest are the candidate’s views on technological issues: Energy, Climate change, Space program, skilled worker shortage, and technology.

Car Fuel Efficiency Counterpoint

I’ve always appreciated a zippy, spacious, and fuel-efficient car. In fact that is my criteria when I goout looking for the next car. I attend the annual car shows and soon determine what is available fornew or future used car purchase. Dealers soon figure that out, and don’t waste their time on the standard promotions with me.

My first car was a 1964 white with red leather interior impala, bucket seats, and stick shift that got 13-17 mpg; now referred to as a boat. My second was a smaller zippy station wagon with bucket seats, and stick shift that got 30-35 mpg.

Over the years the car cost has gone up as safety improvements and fuel efficiency increases were declared by manufacturers. But the facts showed that the gas efficiency went from 30-35 mpg to 28-32 mpg-in the same ballpark. The increased car price was tied to the requirements of getting increased efficiency-but where was the increased efficiency that was professed over four decades.

For a brief history of the car fuel economy refer to this brief report and graph. My second car purchased had met the fuel economy, and this was the reason (along with the oil shortage-crisis) that forced congress to enact the nations first fuel economy standards.

For how we regulate and determine car fuel economy refer to this article. It depends on social issues and government regulation.

From the Green Car Congress-refer to the reported sales of hybrids. Yet the fuel efficiency is not increasing compared to the higher cost, and the disposal of battery materials.

Business Week reported on “The Road to a new CAFÉ Standard” that forces automakers to more fuel efficiency. Will automakers achieve a 35 mpg fuel economy standard by 2020-approximately the same as my second car?

The EPA is responsible for providing fuel economy (gas mileage) data that is posted on the window stickers of new vehicles. Will the government agencies (EPA, DOE, DOT IRS) be able to control the fuel efficiency or will the public dictate by what it buys?

National security and environmental quality concerns were important forces affecting the U.S. petroleum industry during the past 30 years. Much of the Federal legislation on petroleum was directly or indirectly associated with limiting petroleum imports or reducing petroleum-related pollution. Several political and economic events that occurred between 1970 and 2000 were critical because of the Nation’s dependence on petroleum imports.

The cost of a barrel of oil has been held below $35 in the past years. Now due to regulations, environmental concerns, and the world situation it is now above $100 per barrel. Is fuel efficiency and environmental factors our main concerns, or has our requirement and dependency on government regulation gotten out of hand? Is there a free market, or just a desire to force their ill begotten will on us?

Of interest are the candidate’s views on technological issues: Energy, Climate change, Space program, skilled worker shortage, and technology.

My second car was able to meet 30-35 mpg. My present car meets 28-32 mpg. Have all the years really brought about an improvement in fuel efficiency and environmental concerns? I know a car does cost considerably more, it is also easier to maintain, but fuel efficiency?