Congratulating Axion and Exide

Yesterday Axion Power International (AXWP.OB) announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Exide Technologies (XIDE) following fourteen months of negotiation and technical investigation. This alliance could prove to be a sea-change event for the domestic battery industry. Copies of the press release and an archived version of the subsequent investor conference call are available on Axion's website. As a former chairman of Axion's board of directors and a very substantial Axion stockholder, I've been waiting for an agreement like this for a very long time. I'm delighted to see confirmation from Exide that my faith in...
Nemaska's Whabouchi site

Nemaska: A Lithium Bargain

Nemaska Lithium (NMKEF:  OTC/PK, NMX:  TO) is a newcomer to the lithium industry.  The company recently came to the market with battery-grade lithium from spodumene rock carved out of its Whabouchi mine in northern Quebec, Canada and converted in a proprietary electrochemical process to battery-grade lithium material at an in-house facility in Shawinigan to the south.  The company filled its first orders in Summer 2018. The company expected to produce over 200,000 metric tons of lithium-bearing spodumene concentrate from its Whabouchi mine with an average 6.25% lithium oxide content.  The mine is expected to remain productive for over three decades at that extraction rate.  The processing plant in...

Lithium-ion Batteries and Nine Years of Price Stagnation

This May will mark the nine-year anniversary of "Costs of Lithium-Ion Batteries for Vehicles," a seminal study from the DOE and Argonne National Laboratory that sent America lurching down a path toward an HEV, PHEV and EV future based on Li-ion batteries. Since nine years is a respectable length of time in most industries, I thought it might be interesting to review the prevailing expectations in May of 2000, consider the cost reductions achieved over the last nine years and question whether the market frenzy over Li-ion battery companies is even close to rational. Regular readers know that I'm...

President Obama Announces Battery Manufacturing Grant Awards

John Petersen During his address today at Navistar International's (NAV) facilities in Elkhart, Indiana, President Obama announced a total of $2 billion in ARRA battery manufacturing grants and another $400 million in Recovery Act awards for transportation electrification. The complete list of grant recipients, most of whom are private companies, is available here. The recipients of $1.25 billion in the primary class of grants for cell and battery manufacturing facilities are as follows: Johnson Controls JCI $299.2 Production of nickel-cobalt-metal battery cells and packs, as well as production of battery separators...

USPS Study: EV Economics Depend On Smart-Grid Revenue

John Petersen On August 28th, the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Postal Service published the results of a feasibility study titled, "Electrification of Delivery Vehicles." While the feasibility study reaches a foregone conclusion and recommends the purchase of a 3,000 unit demonstration fleet, I was surprised by the high level of Federal subsidies the Inspector General thought necessary to bring EVs within Postal Service capital investment policies. I was even more surprised by the conclusion that the tipping point in the economic analysis was revenue from ancillary vehicle to grid, or V2G, services. The...

Congress Approves Billions in Energy Storage Incentives

On Friday, the House of Representatives and Senate passed H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and sent the bill to President Obama for his signature. The impact on companies that manufacture advanced batteries and other energy storage devices will be staggering. The principal energy storage appropriations include: $2,000,000,000 for grants to manufacturers of advanced battery systems and vehicle batteries that are produced in the United States, including advanced lithium ion batteries, hybrid electrical systems, component manufacturers, and software designers;  $4,500,000,000 for grants for “Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability” including activities to modernize the electric...

Alice In EVland; Six Impossible Things

John Petersen Many of my regular readers know I'm a working securities lawyer, a humble scrivener who writes reams of deathless prose that private companies use to raise money from investors, and public companies file with the SEC in the form of registration and proxy statements, and annual, quarterly and current reports. I've spent a couple years as an oil company executive and a few more as board chairman of an advanced lead-acid battery technology developer. The balance of my 30-year career has been devoted to natural resource and technology-based businesses that needed somebody elses' money to pursue...

Plug-in Vehicles; Waist Deep In The Big Muddy

John Petersen Generation specific cultural references can be treacherous ground for bloggers because the flashback effect is usually limited to readers with long and vivid memories. In this case, however, the lessons of history are so relevant that I'll accept the risk and offer some context for younger readers. In my youth a war wrapped in the liberal ideology of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations and fueled by an underlying concern over who would control oil and gas resources in the Gulf of Tonkin was fought in the jungles of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. By current standards,...

Plug-in Vehicles Have Been Weighed in the Balance and Found Wanting

John Petersen A comment from maxkilmachina recently drew my attention to an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences titled Valuation of plug-in vehicle life-cycle air emissions and oil displacement benefits. While it costs $10 to download the article and supporting documentation, I believe it's worthwhile for all serious energy storage and electric vehicle investors because the underlying study is the first comprehensive total cost of ownership analysis I've seen that includes both direct end-user costs and identifiable externalities like emissions, military and other indirect costs arising from oil consumption in the US. While all...

No Battery Producer Left Behind

by Debra Fiakas CFA In late 2009, nine companies in the battery sector were recipients of American Reconstruction and Recovery Act (ARRA) funds awarded by the Department of Energy to jump start manufacturing capacity.  By the end of December 2011, six of them had made enough progress to begin production.  Three were lagging behind, including Exide Technologies (XIDE:  Nasdaq) and its partner Axion Power International (AXPW:  OTC/BB).   Exide's Sundancer Electric Car, October 1973. Exide and Axion are not looking so quick today.  Photo by Frank Lodge, EPA. Public Domain ...

A Better Battery Or Bust

by Debra Fiakas CFA Last month BioSolar (BSRC:  OTC/PK) reported positive test results for its proprietary energy storage technology.  The company is developing an alternative anode material for lithium ion batteries using silicon-carbon materials.  BioSolar’s engineers are targeting dramatic improvement in anode performance and equally impressive reductions in cost.  If they are successful, it could mean longer lithium ion battery life, greater capacity and shorter charging time  -  the dreams of every manufacturer with an electronic product. Most lithium ion batteries rely on graphite for the battery anode.  However, silicon anodes could offer as much as ten...

Why Petersen is Such a Buzzkill

John Petersen In one of my first articles, "Battery Technology: A Different Set of Rules," a commenter suggested that I was a bit of a Captain Buzzkill. Eighteen months later it's clear that a lot of readers share that uncharitable view. This morning I had an e-mail exchange with a reader that raised the same basic issues and reminded me that it's been a while since I've discussed the fundamental differences between energy storage and other technology related sectors. Since the subject matter can be very important to investors who want to make sound decisions, I've decided to...

Another Reality Check for EV Investors

John Petersen Earlier this month Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited’s Global Manufacturing Industry group rained all over the plug-in vehicle parade when they published the results of a survey of over 13,000 individuals in 17 countries that concluded: "The reality is that when consumers actual expectations for range, charge time, and purchase price (in every country around the world included in this study) are compared to the actual market offerings available today, no more than 2 to 4 percent of the population in any country would have their expectations met today based on a data analysis...

Plug-in and Hybrid Locomotives; Another Sweet Spot for Axion Power

John Petersen I'm a cynic and a heretic when it comes to plug-in vehicle schemes because most defy the laws of economic gravity and violate a cardinal rule that Ford engineers developed for the EcoStar light delivery vehicle program in the early '90s: – The unloaded weight of a plug-in vehicle should never exceed 70% of its loaded weight. Investors who pay attention to this simple rule can easily distinguish between pipe-dream vehicle electrification schemes that are nothing more than feel-good eco-bling and realistic vehicle electrification projects that make economic sense. For the last...

Vehicle Electrification – Press Releases, Production Decisions and The Hype Cycle

John Petersen Writing an investment blog on hype-riddled sectors like vehicle electrification and energy storage is tough because the topic is emotionally charged and expectations are often based on political promises, issue advocacy, press releases and mainstream media stories that never tell the complete truth. As a result I spend a huge amount of time debunking popular mythology that's 180 degrees out of sync with business realities and responding to commenters who refuse to believe cars with plugs will be: Five to six times less efficient than HEVs when it comes to reducing national gasoline consumption; Nine...

Toyota’s Straight Talk On Plug-in Vehicles

John Petersen Most investors know that Toyota Motors (TM) is the world's biggest manufacturer of hybrid electric vehicles, or HEVs. Since 1997, Toyota has sold over two million cars using its Hybrid Synergy Drive® and earned a sterling reputation for fuel efficiency and customer satisfaction. What many don't realize is that Toyota is also the world's biggest manufacturer of advanced automotive battery packs. Toyota entered the battery business in 1996 when it bought a 40% interest in Panasonic EV Energy, a joint venture company that was formed to make NiMH batteries and battery packs for the Prius. Over...
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