Alternative Energy Technologies and the Origin of Specious

John Petersen Thanks to a recent comment from JLBR, I've found a new hero in Dr. Peter Z. Grossman, an economics professor from Butler University who cogently argues that government attempts to force alternative energy technologies into an R&D model that was created for the Manhattan Project and refined for the Space Program will always result in commercial disaster because "the goal of the Apollo Program was the demonstration of engineering prowess while any alternative energy technology must succeed in the marketplace." In a recent article titled "The Apollo Fallacy and its Effect on U.S. Energy Policy" Dr....

Honda Projects Rise in Hybrid Car Sales

Honda Motor Co (HMC) expects the introduction of its new gas-electric version of the Accord to boost its U.S. sales of hybrid vehicles to more than 45,000 next year. Honda officials said Thursday they expect to sell 20,000 hybrid versions of the Accord sedan, in addition to the Honda Insight and Civic hybrid compacts.

Wise Energy Use Stocks Part 3: Electric Vehicles

Either or both lean economic times and high oil prices are likely to lead to lower use of cars over the next few years, and this will likely weigh on car companies.

A123 Systems vs. BYD and Other Irrational Battery Investments

John Petersen Mother always taught me that if you can't say something nice, it's usually better to say nothing. While regular readers might question my ability to follow Mom's advice, this is an article I had really hoped somebody else would write. The quick summary is that while the shares of A123 Systems (AONE) may be a reasonable investment at current prices, the shares of BYD Co. Ltd. (BYDDF.PK) are an irrational value proposition, the shares of Ener1 (HEV) are even worse, and the shares of Valence Technologies (VLNC) are beyond understanding. Since many readers find detailed tables...

Micro-hybrids And The Multi-Billion Dollar Battery Battle

John Petersen Last week the stock of A123 Systems (AONE) soared 52% in a day after it announced that an enhanced chemistry would improve the cold and hot weather performance of its LiFePO4 batteries, reduce the need for ancillary temperature control systems and make them more competitive in a rapidly evolving micro-hybrid battery market that's dominated by lead-acid battery manufacturers like Johnson Controls (JCI) and Exide Technologies (XIDE). Investors seem to understand that micro-hybrids will generate several billion dollars of incremental annual revenue for battery manufacturers by 2015, but they haven't quite figured out who the winners will...

Vehicle electrification – sticker shocks, delays and manufacturing capacity forecasts

John Petersen Today we have a bit of a hodge-podge as I consider sticker shocks, delays and manufacturing capacity forecasts in the vehicle electrification and energy storage sector. Since the sticker shock and delay discussions involve recent news, I'll touch on them first before getting into the fuzzier aspects of manufacturing capacity forecasts. I'd like to begin with a note of thanks to one of my Seeking Alpha followers, MRTTF, for sending me links to both news stories. For readers who don't delve into the comment streams, MRTTF is a PhD chemist who works in R&D...

Maxwell Technologies in the Balance

Tom Konrad CFA Will Chinese hybrid bus subsidies be renewed?  The answer will be crucial for Maxwell Technologies (NASD:MXWL) in the coming months. I, and most analysts following ultra-capacitor manufacturer Maxwell Technologies, (NASD:MXWL) were considerably surprised at the strength of its third quarter earnings.  China had failed to renew subsidies for hybrid buses in the third quarter, and Chinese hybrid bus manufacturers have long been a significant part of Maxwell’s business. Hybrid bus sales, even without subsidy, ended up better than I expected, accounting for 30% of Maxwell’s ultra-capacitor sales in the quarter.  Also helping results were strong...

ZAP Announces 100-Unit Block Purchase Order for SMART Car

ZAP (ZAPZ) announced today that, based on interest generated at the San Francisco International Auto Show last week, it has received a 100-unit block purchase order from a U.S. automotive dealer. ZAP will not announce the name of the dealer until the cars are ready to be sold to the general public, but is in discussion with a number of government and corporate fleets as well as automotive wholesale dealers for purchase orders of 100 or more cars, up to 15,000, by December 31, 2004 due to U.S. small manufacturers limitations.

Enova News Updates

Enova Systems Inc (ENOV) announced that it has entered into a joint School Bus program with a major North American Truck Manufacturer. The School Bus project will feature Enova's post transmission 80 kW Hybrid Drive System and has the potential to lead to future production in 2006 and beyond. They have also recently announced a partnership with First Auto Works (FAW) of China to supply their 80kW Parallel Hybrid Drive system for "Hybrid City Bus." FAW is the largest automobile manufacturer in China and with its expertise in not only buses, but also automobiles and trucks,...

Western Lithium to Profit from Electric Car Stimulus

Jason HamlinThe lithium market is buzzing as GM, Nissan and other car manufacturers get set to roll out a new series of electric cars that will greatly increase demand for the obscure silver-white alkai metal. GM has announced plans to construct a $43 million plant in Michigan to build lithium-ion batteries for its Chevrolet Volt electric-powered car, which captured headlines with its claim of 230 miles per gallon. Adding to the lithium mania is Washington’s support in the form of $2 Billion in stimulus funding: “New plug-in hybrids roll off our assembly lines, but they will run...

Compared to what: the low-down on alt energy subsidies

For now, electrics have won a fan base, but bio seems to be doing a better job of advancing the technology, reducing or eliminating tax credits, and giving customers more power of choice when it comes to selecting a car. The reason – bio-based is more affordable, and generally more infrastructure-compatible.

The Best Peak Oil Investments Meet the Strong Grid: CVTech Group

Tom Konrad CFA CVTech Group (CVT.TO, CVTPF.PK) operates in two of my favorite clean energy sectors: electricity transmission and distribution and efficient vehicles.  Here is a look at the company's fundamentals. In "The Strongest Strong Grid Stocks" of my 2010: The Year of the Strong Grid? series, I took a quick look at CVTech Group's financial ratios, and decided not to look deeper because they had considerably more debt in comparison to income than the other electricity transmission ("strong grid") stocks I covered in that article.  I came across CVTech again while looking at companies involved in...

Why Long Range EVs Can Never Be Cost Effective

by John Petersen America’s love affair with the automobile has always been based on the freedom of the road and the ability to hop in the car and drive wherever we want to go; be it to the corner store to buy a loaf of bread or out to the lake for a long weekend. Even though most of our trips are short, people invariably want the flexibility to go for a long drive when the open road beckons. Unfortunately, that mentality is disastrous when it comes to EV economics. I’ve been writing about energy...

A123 Keeps Powering Forward on its IPO

John Petersen A123 Systems filed another amendment to the registration statement for its proposed IPO on August 19th. With this amendment, A123 is much clearer on its anticipated Federal funding than it was in earlier filings. In addition to discussing the recent DOE announcement that they'll receive $249.1 million in ARRA battery manufacturing grants, they've reduced their estimate of the ATVM guaranteed loans that they'll be eligible for from $1 billion in their July filing to $235 million in the current filing. This most recent number is specific enough to indicate that it reflects ongoing negotiations rather than...

Neutralizing Your Peak Oil Risk

by Tom Konrad Lifestyle Risks from Peak Oil In the US, we all have a large exposure to the risk of rising energy prices.  In addition to the cost of gasoline, the whole US economy runs on oil, so a rise in the oil price is likely to affect our jobs, and the prices of all our assets, including our homes.  If other people have less money to spend and invest because of high oil prices, there will be a fall in demand for anything they were buying or investing in. House prices in exurbs and suburbs where the...

The Best Peak Oil Investments: GPS Navigation Stocks

Tom Konrad, CFA Satellite (GPS) navigation is a Smart Transport strategy that drivers can implement without waiting for governments to act.  This is a look at five GPS Navigation stocks.    I recently wrote how Smart Transport stocks may benefit from declining supply and increasing demand for oil.   I call the application of information technology (IT) to transportation "Smart Transportation."  Smart Transportation improves the function of the market for transportation services, just as the Smart Grid improves the market for electricity: by giving market participants better information and making the price of transportation better reflect...